POPTONES

I'm sick of talking about politics. Or reading about it. Or getting angry about it, which is a permanent side-effect of talking or reading about it. This post is about Dick Clark.

OK, the Ageless One is only tangental to the point, which is that you need to watch this video (also available in much less awful mpeg quality here or here) if you've never seen it before. What is it? Why, it's none other than Public Image, Ltd. – maybe the most underappreciated band of my brief but expanding lifetime – on American Bandstand. In his later years (i.e., right now) Clark called this "surrealist" performance one of his 10 favorite episodes in the show's history.

How did PiL end up on American Bandstand? Apparently the answer is that they never saw American Bandstand and American Bandstand never saw PiL. We can imagine, then, that PiL were none-too-happy when they found out they were expected to lip-synch their "hits" ("Poptones" and "Careering") for a studio audience. We can also imagine that Dick Clark was equally unhappy to learn that PiL's music is bizarre, completely atonal, and utterly unlovable.

For those who don't feel like watching this 9 minute clip, the band make absolutely no effort to play along. They swap instruments as John Lydon heads straight into the seats, mouths words to the song (sans microphone), and organizes some sort of bizarre game of Red Rover. After a completely surreal "meet the band" interlude where Dick Clark introduces everyone (including a massively stoned Keith Levene) they go into "Careering." By this point Lydon is just standing around chatting with audience members, most of whom are dancing on stage.

I wasn't cognizant of things on TV when this happened, but I am pretty convinced that until Twin Peaks came along this is the most surreal thing that had ever been on network television. Enjoy it. It is not politics.

(PS – While we're at it, can someone please tell me what f'n planet Jah Wobble is from? I can't imagine the amount of drugs one would have to do to come up with those bass lines. But maybe it all came naturally to a man who got booted from the band after he set their drummer on fire. He set the fuckin' drummer on fire. Top that.)

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3 Responses to “POPTONES”

  1. Liz Says:

    So is that John[ny Rotten] Lydon? I will be listening to some of this when I get home.

  2. Ed Says:

    It is. I can almost guarantee that you will hate it.

  3. liz Says:

    You say that about all your music.