Monday, 5 November 2012

30 for 30 on 4

Channel 4 turned thirty years old last Friday and to mark the occasion... they did nothing. Spoilsports. So in the spirit of celebration, and thanks to everyone who made suggestions, here's thirty great musical moments from the C4 back catalogue...

Ten from The Tube

- The Jam famously played one of their last gigs in the Tube's Newcastle HQ. From that set, indeed on the first ever show, a roaring Town Called Malice.

- No idea who that is at the start. One of the show's strengths was being able to spot potential stars early. The most famous example is perhaps Frankie Goes To Hollywood, performing an early version of Relax before Trevor Horn re-recorded it all for them with a couple of close friends before a somewhat overdressed and outnumbered Jools gains exact knowledge on their style.

- No idea who that is either. The Smiths had appeared in one such film and would follow the Tube pretty much all the way down. This is Hand In Glove from their first studio visit.

- It's not in this clip but Paula Yates famously introduced The Proclaimers' impassioned Throw The R Away as "something really weird", though by the looks of her she can talk.

- The Art Of Noise in literal clown outfits with a mass of Fairlights, synths, samplers and a mixing console, Paul Morley adding comments as is his wont. It should however be noted the setup hadn't extended as far as replacing the audience with dummies.

- A pindrop version of Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding, followed by Everyday I Write The Book.

- After Paula gets a little confused, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five dress like disco scenesters and perform some of the worst breakdancing ever committed to tape but command the crowd and revolutionise music. Insider tip: that's not a real policeman at the end.

- Trouble Funk drop the bomb on the banks of the Tyne in front of limited but keen numbers.

- Dexys Midnight Runners rework There There My Dear at length, slowed down, with a talky bit in the middle and Kevin doing press-ups.

- And finally... a works outing to the Hacienda in January 1984 (FAC104, in fact) brought the Factory All-Stars, Morrissey being interviewed, a bunch of Factory also-rans, Norman Cook in the audience and, paid for by the show as her label didn't consider her important enough, Madonna.

Five from TFI Friday

- Hard to entirely credit now, but there was a time when you *had* to be seen alongside Evans. The Paul McCartney Quartet piece together 1997 single Young Boy.

- Frock coat, girl's hair, but David Bowie's aura pervades.

- Not that those sorts of things are the bits people remember. Go on then, Black Grape's sweary cover of Pretty Vacant, with full Evans apology.

- And then, there was a destructive Slipknot.

- While we're up that end of the loudness war, it's forgotten that Evans buggered off and didn't play any part in the 1999 last series of TFI, which explains why Donna Air gets At The Drive-In's details confused at the end when she's audible over the feedback.

Five from The Word

- So what was this show's most famous musical moment? Lynne Perrie. But apart from her, Oasis' TV debut. Note the dancers in the background. Why does Liam take a drink after he's finished singing?

- Alright, the other famous one is L7, but you can see that sort of thing all over the internet. Instead, the noise and confusion of the UK arm of riot grrrl Huggy Bear, who were promptly thrown out of the studio for shouting abuse during a film of Playboy models.

- Speaking of confusion, not to mention malfunctioning instruments if the bloke who keeps running to the front of the stage is any indication, Manic Street Preachers were meant to be doing Love's Sweet Exile, but...

- Jo Whiley was The Word's music booker for most of its lifespan and had a knack for picking up fascinating new bands early. For example, Weezer with Rivers Cuomo in novelty glasses.

- And yeah, occasionally someone thought this sort of thing would run. Duran Duran turn Hungry Like The Wolf into a poor man's New York Dolls.

Five from The White Room

- The Mark Radcliffe-helmed series didn't last too long but provided two moments people tend to recall. A caustic Ray Davies strums through You Really Got Me and the contemporary To The Bone before Damon Albarn joins in to add backing vocals to Waterloo Sunset before bashfully joining in on a chorus of Parklife.

- And the other? The honourable member of Iggy Pop.

- More subtle climes, a gorgeous version of Glory Box from a then-rare live set from Portishead.

- As already seen, one-off duets were something the show liked to expand upon, usually involving Bernard Butler, but this one works a treat, as the rapt faces performance-side show - Sandie Shaw and Salad doing Girl Don't Come.

- A duet on record and in life, Nick Cave and PJ Harvey as two peas in a pod.

Five others

- You may have noticed an omission from The Word, the celebrated cut off Nirvana performance. That's because I wanted to highlight Nirvana on Tonight With Jonathan Ross instead. As far as he knows they're playing Lithium. As far as everyone in the studio knows they're going to play Lithium. The only people who don't know it are the three on the stage.

- In 1984 Channel 4 made a series of label-funded documentaries under the title Play At Home. New Order's is the most intriguing as would be Factory's wont, featuring the whole label cast plus live footage. Before five minutes are past a fully clothed Gillian Gilbert has got into a bath with Tony Wilson and Alan Erasmus has tried to give an interview while on the back of a motorbike. Follow the sidebar for parts 2 to 7.

- Robert Plant on Wired, musing on "giving it some neck" and I Should Be So Lucky.

- From awkward Network 7 follow-up Club X, a hypnotic take on WFL by Happy Mondays. Shaun's nicked Bez's maracas.

- And finally one for the kids, from pub-set short-lived early 00s show Born Sloppy The Libertines play raggedly to an overfull room.


Noax said...

Lots to see here, I shall have a look tomorrow (no time today)

I couldn't find the Chart Show clip I wanted, but here's a - very brief! - Top 10 rundown from 1988.

Worth it for the following : The Anfield Rap, an extremely under-rated Kylie song, a tune with the lyrics 'Boing boing boing' and a caption obscuring moment that will please everyone here who has despised Esther Rantzen recently.

wilberforce said...

one of the things i remember about the launch of channel 4 was (presumably because of a dearth of sponsors who thought it a minority channel not worth bothering with) that were a shedload of ads for a brand of make-at-home chinese food called "mr wong" (i still remember the jingle: "mr wong, the real chinese!")

anyway, back then "foreign" food was still considered exotic and something you either ate out or got from a takeaway rather than cooked yourself at home (one exception being vesta box meals that incredibly are still being sold - i recently had a couple of their paellas for old times' sake ha ha), but i couldn't afford to do either at the time so scoured the supermarket shelves for some mr wong in anticipation of a rare feast on a budget, but sadly never came across any!

the other thing i remember was because c4 presented itself as arty and right-on, they soon gained a reputation for showing heavy drama featuring mentally subnormal types, brilliantly parodied by smith and jones as "walter and smike make a cup of tea" (they wouldn't get away with it now!)

Neil Barker said...

Just before the Tube's Frankie feature, that's Icehouse finishing their set followed by Nick Laird-Clowes (later of the Dream Academy). No idea who the guy introducing the Smiths is though.