TELEVISION, THE FORMER DRUG OF THE NATION

I’ve a few things sitting in the cupboard of vinyl or shelves of CDs that were purchased on the back of seeing a singer or band perform on the telly.

It’s quite remarkable nowadays how the growth of media platforms which has made so much music available instantaneously, or at worst via just a few clicks of arrows on websites, has more or less killed off regular music programming. It’s a situation I feel quite saddened by given that and as someone who thought shows such as Top of The Pops, Whistle Test and The Tube, along with a myriad of lesser-known and short-lived programmes of a similar nature, were essential viewing. Indeed, such was the influence of the medium that I’ve amassed a fair number of pieces of vinyl and plastic which were purchased purely on the basis of being excited by a performance on the gogglebox.

One such example dates back to 1996. The show was called The White Room which went out fairly late on in the evening on Channel 4, hosted by Mark Radcliffe. It was a show which specialised in attracting one or more big-name acts as headliners – it managed for instance to get Prince to give a very rare UK TV performance, while David Bowie was another who graced the studio at one point – while also giving space and time to up and coming acts.  It ran for four short series in the mid 90s and unsurprisingly given the period in history, there were appearances by Britpop or associated acts.

Here’s a lot I’d no idea of before they popped up on the telly.

You’ll see that they were a huge act in terms of numbers – combining the classic pop line-up with a lively and energetic string section. My first thought was that they were a superb throwback to some of the great OTT 80s pop acts such as ABC or perhaps it was a reminder of the joys of catching Marc & The Mambas all over again. As it turns out, they had actually been kicking around for a fair bit, having formed in the early 90s with their first releases dating back to 1993.  In due course, I did pick up one of the singles in a bargain bin a few weeks later:-

mp3 : My Life Story – Sparkle

JC

5 thoughts on “TELEVISION, THE FORMER DRUG OF THE NATION

  1. I totally agree with you on Music Programming. Webcasts with the band in a tiny studio just don’t have the same vibe as great shows like The Tube or Whistle Test.

  2. When I saw the band perform on The White Room I realised the female musicians were the ones I’d seen frequently performing/busking in Piccadilly Circus Tube…

    I still have a VHS recording of these clips

  3. Occasionally I’ll see something on Jools Holland which makes me feel like this (Radley I think we’re the last example) but I do miss the wide range of programmes. Going deliberately searching after an article is not the same as accidentally stumbling across something on TV. At the risk of sounding like I’m sucking up, I have probably been steered towards more good music recently by this blog! Incidentally. I love the first two My Life Story albums

  4. Jake came from my home town and I knew him vaguely. MLS were fun and a bit preposterous (they played small clubs with the showbiz flamboyance of Palladium headliners) and like so much Britpop, much of their output sounds a bit dated now, but I would recommend the track Angel from the first album.

  5. When 12 Reasons Why came out, I was convinced that Jake Shillingford was the new Jarvis Cocker. They were brilliant live around then – flamboyant and preposterous!

    And yeah it’s a shame that there’s not much like The Tube, White Room, Snub TV (remember that??) – i think in years to come all the music nostalgia shows will be full of clips from Jools Holland and Glastonbury. Although there’s a fair bit of great stuff on YouTube – that’s so far out of the mainstream though, it’s hard to imagine bands these days being able to get the viewers that the likes of My Life Story would have got on the BBC and Channel 4.

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