Before its corporate mechanization in the 1980’s, television took a while to find its feet. Its programming was narrow, geared to the desires of viewers, and often quirky. It took risks and experimented. There are countless documents of TV from the 60’s and 70’s which are wonderful and exciting, some of the best of which are from live music programs made in France. They often embrace the wilder elements of the creative process and stray from mainstream. Here are five of my favorites.
Brigitte Fontaine & Areski (1973)
Brigitte Fontaine and Areski were an incredible creative partnership. I adore nearly everything the couple put their hands to. This document from 1973 negates the need for me to say any more. Enjoy.
Everybody loves Gong. Daevid Allen’s landlocked post Soft Machine wonder at their best. Mind boggling.
Third Ear Band (1970)
History hasn’t been kind to the The Third Ear Band. They were slated for big things, never went far, and are all but forgotten. They created some of the best gestures within the British folk scene of the late 60’s and early 70’s. A blend of folk traditions and free improvisation, they were just too far out to draw the crowds. There aren’t many documents of their live performances. I’m grateful that this exists. Utterly engrossing.
Bridget St. John (1970)
Bridget St. John is probably my favorite folk singer of all time. She was the first artist John Peel signed when he founded Dandelion records. This performance shows why. She’s incredible. This document shows her at the height and brings tears to my eyes.
Matching Mole (1972)
I’m a fan of nearly everything Robert Wyatt touched (that’s him in the mask). Wyatt formed Matching Mole after departing Soft Machine – its name being a pun on Machine Molle – the french translation of his former band. The project was relatively short lived, ending their run in 1973 when Wyatt fell from a balcony and broke his back. It was great while it lasted, and this video shows why. It’s so ambitious and free that I can’t believe the French let it go out live.