Television and rock music have never been comfortable with each other. Live TV sound has mostly missed the point. The energy rarely transcends the awkward, small stages and the few minutes allotted for performances never allow the performers to warm up. The best moments on this two-DVD collection of punk and new wave rock appearances on Tom Snyder's late night Tomorrow program (1973-1982) are the uncomfortable snippets of conversation between the earnest host and his various guests. John Lydon (Rotten) fronting Public Image Limited, plays the arrogant rock star whose soul is being destroyed by submitting to questions and answers, all while making sure the camera focuses on him. Patti Smith is palpably nervous, and the Ramones were unfortunately scheduled the week Snyder went on vacation and are treated to inane questions from Kelly Lange who apparently left her PTA meeting early for the engagement. The roundtable discussion of "punk" with concert promoter Bill Graham, L.A. Times critic Robert Hilburn, impresario Kim Fowley, a very young Joan Jett and a mumbling Paul Weller of the Jam is much gentler than its personnel suggests. The abysmal Plasmatics blow up a car. It's awkward entertainment with moments of fleeting brilliance, as Iggy Pop delivers "Five Foot One" with his whole truncated body and soul.
Rob O'Connor writes about music for Metro Times. Send comments to email@example.com.
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