31 January 2013

Berlin, 1983

Back in the mid-Eighties, MTV was prone to running some British programing in the late evenings on Sunday. This started with the short-lived Some Bizarre Show, eventually switched over to episodes of The Comic Strip Presents and The Young Ones. And for a brief while in 1985, they relayed the BBC Channel Four music program The Tube. Hosted by Jools Holland, the show provided was an opportunity to catch groups like the Durutti Column or the Three Johns -- artists that I long heard of, but (living where I did) had yet to hear.

But this special West Berlin edition of the show from 1983 aired in the UK a couple of years before MTV even picked the program up. With expat Mark Reeder serves as a guide, the show tours the city during its latter, divided days as "an island in a red sea." A number of notable artists from the early '80s Berlin music scene turn up throughout -- some excerpts from films by the conceptual performance art/music trio Die Tödliche Doris, as well as Die Haut, Malaria!, some really nice live footage of Einstürzende Neubauten, plus a few others (Die Toten Hosen, et al) whose music or reputations never drifted beyond German borders. Elvis Costello turns up briefly but doesn't have much to contribute, there's a chance encounter with Christiane F. in a nightclub, and the show even makes an effort to feature a little material from the other side the Wall...

Caveat: Portions of the audio -- music, specifically -- have either washed out in parts, or were scrubbed to avoid copyright issues. Hence the dodgey soundtrack with the Bowie bit at the beginning, and why the Malaria! clip goes completely silent.

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