Misc. Reviews

If it's kinda, sorta music-related, we'll review it. This week: The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: Punk & New Wave.

The Tomorrow Show was NBC's 1973-82 late-night talk show scheduled after Johnny Carson's Tonight Show (when JC's gig ran 90 minutes). Host Tom Snyder, a glibly personable, somewhat square, blow-dried ex-newscaster, presented an only-slightly-more-intellectual yet relaxed variation on the comedy routine/product pimping/chat format realized by Carson and Dick Cavett. Through Tomorrow's run, its guest list was eclectic, to say the least: John Lennon, some pro dominatrix, a contract killer, Charles Manson.

But one of Tomorrow's greatest feats was that the show gave some of the very first stateside TV exposure to performers who couldn't get pissed on by American mainstream media: Patti Smith, the Ramones, Iggy Pop, Elvis Costello, Public Image Ltd., and the Plasmatics. Tomorrow began purely chat only, later expanding to 90 minutes to feature performances; this Shout! Factory two-DVD set harvests jewels from both eras. Likely conclusions it will inspire: The Jam was a greatband; some rockin' artistes can barely converse; John Lydon is an asshole; Tom Snyder didn't know post-Beatles rock 'n' roll at all; and Patti Smith, fan of Carson (!), is as much shy Christian hippie as intellectual punk goddess.

Highlights: Smith acting fidgety, mercurial, and sagacious; when Snyder refers to Public Image Ltd. as a musical outfit, Lydon counters, "It's not uh band, it's uh company," and constantly refers to PiL works in development ("films, videos") primed for an undeserving world; when Iggy rips it up during three songs (earning himself a bloody nose in the process), there are so many dorky "mod" camera zooms as to suggest a Monty Python/SCTV parody; a droll "panel discussion" on "punk rock: what is it, who likes it" with Fillmore impresario Bill Graham (who liked the Jam!), legendary rock auteur/cartoon Kim Fowley (looking like the Riddler meets Ziggy Stardust), rock crit Robert Hilburn, Runaways-era Joan Jett, and Paul Weller.

All told, this release is an ideal time capsule, both edifying and embarrassing.

 
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