Once again Shout Productions brings us more rock legends, or more like punk and new wave legends. Here on NBC’s The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, Shout relives the days when the punk rock and new wave trends hit the scene bringing us tri-colored mohawks and stylish safety pins for your cheeks or nose, whatever felt more apropos. Hosting the festivities is Tom Snyder, a guy more clueless about music than the bands he interviews. Pack a freshy-fresh, babies, and prepare to go retro.
Shout has put four shows on each of the two DVDs for this punk and new wave collection and it comes by way of The Tomorrow Show with Tom Snyder, which ran from October of 1973 to January of 1982 until David Letterman took over. The show aired right after Johnny Carson, the king of late night, running from 1am to 2am. At that time of night, Tom described his audience by stating that at that hour “you get the tokers and the smokers.”
These eight shows have to do with the punk rock revolution that was blowing up at the time. As with another Shout release, The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons, Snyder’s show got some pretty hot acts for the time, such as Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, and The Ramones. If you’re just in it for the music, the menu options lets you get right into it, but if you’re a history freak-o like me, you may play it from the beginning.
If anything play the first show. There isn’t a performance by any of the bands, but Snyder interviews LA Times music critic Robert Hilburn, promoter Bill Graham and a punk-new wave producer Kim Fowley, who due to his heavy make-up, causes Tom to greet him with, “May I say, Kim, you look ridiculous tonight.” This segment will give you some kind of a background to what this music rebellion was all about. Halfway through the segment, the three men are joined by Paul Weller of the Jam and Joan Jett of the Runaways, who already seems to have the wisdom beyond her time, or so it seems.
As weird as this first interview gets, the best of those is yet to come. Good old John Lydon, you know, Johnny Rotten from The Sex Pistols, shows up with his buddy. Oh yeah, now I know why Lydon called himself Rotten, cause he was. What a fucking asshole, and his P.I.L. partner, he was such a clownshoe. I can’t even remember his name, and he sure as hell ain’t worth putting on the DVD again just to find out. Although Snyder is clueless when it came to the punk scene, he showed that he was a professional when dealing with stuck-up, snot bag brats like rotten Lydon.
The other interviews with Elvis Costello, Iggy Pop, and Patti Smith are cool. Here are the diamonds, and this is where it counts. Elvis and Patti give some pretty in-depth images of what they think of themselves, the music that they are making, and how it’s affecting the youth of that time frame. Iggy is just a freaking nut, but here you do get to see him before he went below the 110-pound mark before the heroin took over.
The two performances and interviews that standout come from Wendy O. Williams and The Ramones. The music of Wendy O. and the Plasmatics sucked and they couldn’t play for shit, but the stage show they put on was a crazy spectacle. You get to see them blow up a Dodge, yes, a car, in an enclosed studio with the audience thirty feet or so away. Nice.
The best is for last. The Ramones, and although the boys were pissed that Snyder wasn’t there to take the brunt of their harassment, local NBC news anchor Kelly Lang filled in, and was just as clueless as Snyder. That doesn’t matter though, because when the Ramones play, it explains it all. Funny thing about the Ramones, and for that fact all the bands, they never called their music “punk”. The newspapers in England coined it.
Shout has the right idea. Its great to see all these artists just as their stars were on the rise, but it would be better if they would cut out all the bullshit because the Tomorrow shows they include aren’t that special. The roundtable discussion about punk was fitting, but I don’t want to hear some old ladies poems on “how to be in love” and I really don’t care about the guy who had the radio show with the psychic who predicted Pres. Regan’s shooting — days after it happened — (funny as that one was).
Nor do I need to see the “other Don Rickles,” an announcer at NBC, be the first person on TV to play Simon, which my fellow Gen X-ers and older will remember is the memory game where you press a panel after it lit up in increasingly harder combinations. It must have been quite a technological advancement of 1977 because they spend way too much time on it. After the first couple times, we get it. Maybe the famous Don Rickles cancelled. Anyway, they need to put more music on these discs and less filler.
Punk is dead, long live rock n’ roll.