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Wednesday 16 August 2023

More Bands In Places They Shouldn't Be

Following my two previous posts in this series, the first here and the second here, today I offer you some more television appearances from bands whose pluggers and record labels booked them onto tv programmes that may in retrospect have been a little ill advised. The mid 80s was a golden period for this sort of thing with bands miming on lunchtime television, early evening chat shows and children's tv in order to shift more singles.  

In October 1985 Prefab Sprout appeared on Hold Tight, filmed and broadcast by one of Scotland's regional independent broadcasters. The actual appearance was at Alton Towers, the Staffordshire theme park. Prefab Sprout are playing their classic 80s single When Love Breaks Down. It doesn't look especially warm. The crowd are seated in temporary seating, swaying on demand and largely out of time. Paddy McAloon attempts to hide his embarrassment behind a pair of aviators. The band spend much of their time concentrating on remaining steady on the swaying, springy platforms. 

On 5th January 1980 The Clash, who famously refused to do Top Of The Pops because they wouldn't mime, appeared on TISWAS, ITV's Saturday morning kids tv show.  The four members are interviewed by Sally James and offer a copy of London Calling as a prize for a lucky viewer. Sally keeps talking, presumably in an attempt to make sure no one swears. Topper is clearly stoned. At two minutes thirty nine seconds Paul leans over to spit on the floor in front of a group of small children. It's all over fairly quickly, probably to everyone's relief. 

In 1990 Ice T appeared on BBC2's art programme The Late Show. Nothing that incongruous in some ways- it was an arts programme after all- but somehow Ice T, at that point the leading exponent of gangsta rap, guns, chains and women in tiny bikinis, appearing on a fairly staid and stiff arts programme more used to hosting panel discussions of the writings of Salman Rushdie, is all kinds of dissonance. In this section, closing the programme, Ice T does Lethal Weapon. His rapping, done live, is flawless and the sense of LA menace is palpable in front of a completely, sterile empty BBC studio. 

The show was already a music lover's dream, if not for the right reasons. In November 1989 The Stone Roses were riding the crest of a very large wave and pitched up on The Late Show midweek, an accident waiting to happen. The programme went out live, Tracey MacLeod introducing the fourpiece playing Made Of Stone live, the band looking impossibly cool and sounding on it as well. As they hit the first chorus John Squire's guitar hits the BBC's noise limiters and the sound cuts out suddenly. Drummer Reni begins giggling. Ian begins to ask questions. Tracey returns to the camera and apologises, moving on to the next item (about photographer Martin Parr). 'They ask you to come and then they mess you about', Ian complains behind her. 'We're wasting our time lads', he goes on, and then louder, 'Amateurs, amateurs'. It is brilliant TV, and let's be honest, much better and more memorable than if they'd just played Made Of Stone. 


Nick L said...

What a great series this is. Hope you can keep going Adam. The early evening Wogan chat show always seemed to have a music booker who was keen to get some "alternative" type stuff on occasionally. Pebble Mill was another.
We had Ice T at my university in 1990...I went, out of interest, the faces of some of the more radical feminists present were, well, a picture.

The Swede said...

The Ice T performance really is very good indeed.

Swiss Adam said...

It really is Swede. He did this song too https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZIUqcC2o3cg

C said...

It all just seems as if it comes from another world! I never saw the Clash one at the time, not sure what I would've thought... And poor Prefab Sprout, those wobbly platforms look well dodgy. Great finds, Adam.

Swiss Adam said...

I agree C, increasingly the 80s look like another world entirely, one a very long way from 2023.

thewalker said...

Thanks Adam for this nicely curated selection and the wordery to spark interest, caused a very nice musical interlude for me.

Appreciate you right now sir.
Jah Bless.