on the panels for a better view.
Sounds of the Sixties Vol 1 & 2 [joefish 2DVD PAL purelivegigs]
one of the archivists favorite complaints, the manner in
which the BBC systematically purged its archive of so many classic
musical performances, simply to save itself from having to buy
new video tapes. Any number of priceless recordings was lost,
by almost every band you can think of. Yet, though the carnage
was indeed horrific, the corporation also seems to have hung onto
a lot more tapes than anyone ever acknowledges, and this 10-part
BBC TV series digs through all of them, in search of some positively
Not all of
it is unfamiliar; indeed, the underground video market has been
swapping increasingly poor quality copies of some of this footage
for years (Pink Floyds grilling by a grumpy professor is
possibly the most frequently seen). Other clips have been staples
of sundry official compilations for just as long.
is not the point. Sterling picture and sound quality, a genuinely
thoughtful approach to sequencing, and an eye both for whats
"popular" and whats "collectible" are
the distinguishing factors here, as Sounds of the Sixties
not only emerges among the most intelligent musical retrospectives
ever screened, but one of the most comprehensive (and comprehensively
enjoyable) documentaries that rock in general has ever been granted.
hour program is devoted to one more-or-less self-explanatory stylistic
grouping, be it the pre- and post-Beatles landscape, folk, pop,
psych or prog. Performances are drawn from across the BBC spectrum
- the expected Top Of The Pops, of course, but also a plethora
of barely-remembered kids shows, variety programs, chat shows
and so on.
the decade, as "rock" became more serious, so did its
television coverage; Tony Palmers All My Loving documentary
is mined for a handful of choice clips, while the late night Colour
Me Pop really lets the progressive tendencies out. Equally
entertaining, studio links and introductions are generally kept
intact, to allow the nostalgic Brit viewer glimpses of a host
of half-forgotten spectacles - the young Eamonn Andrews, an even
younger Jimmy Saville, Pinky and Perky, Simon Dee...
As for the
music - from the Springfields to Amen Corner, the Shadows to Jimi
Hendrix, Julie Driscoll, Alan Price, the Equals, the Dead, Julie
Felix, Manfred Mann, Donovan, the Stones, the Kinks, the Small
Faces, Hermans Hermits... it would take days to list every
performance, and theres no point in doing so. If you have
any care whatsoever for all that the Sixties sounded of, you already
know how much you want this collection. So what are you waiting
Sounds of the Seventies Vols 1 & 2 [joefish 2DVD PAL purelivegigs
doubt, by the both the critical and public success of the earlier
Sounds Of The Sixties TV series, the BBC bounced back with
Sounds Of The Seventies, a similarly sprawling 10-part/five
hour digest of the music and performances that gave that decade
so much of its color.
And it was
colorful - how could any era that gave us Glam, Disco and Punk
fail to glow with a day-glo vitality that made the years since
then seem positively monochromatic, both visually and stylistically?
Full marks, however, to the production team, who could probably
have got away with a non-stop feast of Bowie, Bolan, Glitter and
Slade, but who instead aimed for a far more wide-ranging (and,
consequently, representative) overview.
shows trace metal, soul, prog, art and the new wave, alongside
the expected favorites and, in so doing, unearth some startling
performances - the juvenile Michael Jackson romping through "Rocking
Robin," the Moody Blues as soft focus pontificaters, Alex
Harvey hacking up mannequins while lamenting his love for "Delilah,"
Dr Feelgood predicting punk with a sneering, seething "Roxette,"
and the Clash confirming it. Dire Straits when they were excellent.
And so on.
if theres any drawback to this approach, its the reminder
that there was an awful lot of horrendous music made during the
1970s as well, and a lot of it proved popular enough to get on
TV. The Old Grey Whistle Test, in particular, seemed to
relish those mealy-mouthed singer-songwriter types who would mumble
and emote their way through their latest god-forsaken ode to self-pity,
and theres buckets of the buggers here.
Sounds of the Seventies cannot help but entertain, as the
Sixties series penchant for digging elsewhere into
the vault for linking material continues apace, and even though
theres some truly nightmarish memories just waiting to resurface
(James Taylor... the Eagles... oh please spare us Janis Ian),
you know something better is just a click of the remote control
Sounds of the Eighties Vols 1 and 2 [joefish 2DVD PAL purelivegigs
sounded like a great idea at the time, following up the almost
solidly excellent (and never less than enlightening) Sounds
Sixties and Seventies TV series with a
third one recounting the best of the Eighties. But you knew the
show was in trouble when you looked at the schedule, and realized
there was just eight, not 10 shows, in the run, plus a ninth that
was handed over in its entirety to a Cars concert broadcast. The
Cars? Yeah, they really zapped the presiding zeitgeist,
series taste for thematic segments collapses around the
sheer mundanity of what was on display back then and, whether
one believes it was the music or simply the TV coverage of the
music thats at fault, the fact is, the zany eccentricity
that characterized the '60s and '70s shows survives no more than
a couple of shows, as the New Romantic and Synthipop generations
look towards the future, while shamelessly aping the recent past.
excellent though their music may (or may not... the choice is
yours) have been, there is no more to be derived from watching
the likes of the Fall, the Smiths, the Mary Chain and Orange Juice
than can be gained from simply listening to them. When you find
yourself grinning inanely at the sight of Haircut 100, you know
youre in trouble.
dedicated to reggae, ska and 2-Tone is non-stop skanking paradise;
another highlighting Motorhead, ZZ Top, the Cult and the Mission
has its moments. And, of course, its great to see Bananarama
at the peak of their powers... Whams young guns going for
it with a vengeance, Soft Cell simpering through an atonal "Say
Hello," the teenaged Kylie Minogue, Teardrop Explodes...
oh, and Depeche Mode, barely out of short trousers, with Dave
Gahan dancing like a duck and all so squeaky-clean that Vince
Clarkes stubble actually looks threatening.
But the further
in time we get from the Eighties, the more that decade takes on
the characteristics of some vast emotional black hole, sucking
first the joy, then the spirit and, ultimately, the last vestiges
of creativity from all who dared try to make a record back then.
Sounds of the Eighties brings it all back with ghastly
Note: Veteran music writer Dave Thompson is a regular contributor
writing on hard-to-find rarities. Dave is the author of many well
reviewed rock biographies, including the recent Virgin Books'
Red Hot Chili Peppers biography, works on The Cure and Kurt Cobain.
He wrote Cream: The World's First Supergroup which was published
early last year. In the past, Dave has written for Live! Music
Review and he is also a regular contributor to Rolling Stone,
Mojo and Q magazines. Click
here to buy Dave's books.
here for article by Dave Thompson:
Have You Got It Yet? - Syd Barrett's Beyond Rhyme And Reason
Apple Singles Collection
Reviews by Dave Thompson