12 greatest South Bank Show music moments
15th May 2009 | 14:00
The Velvet Underground
Classic TV footage of Blur, Sonic Youth, the Velvets, Dusty et al
The South Bank Show, the UK's leading independent TV arts and culture show, is ending next year with the departure of Melvyn Bragg, the force behind it. The hirsute renaissance man recently listed his favourite moments so we thought we'd share ours.
The following are the best music clips from the show that mashed up highbrow and pop culture. Where possible there's also a Melvyn Bragg hairstyle guide - collect them all!
The Velvet Underground
The now familiar drone of the Velvets on Venus In Furs is sometimes difficult to place in context. Here's some help. Indeed when this film first aired in 1986, thousands of teens in the UK threw out their Jesus And Mary Chain vinyl and switched to the original and the best.
Bragg hair rating: Mop top
This starts with a thunderous and instantly recognisable Townshend chord but rapidly turns ponderous. After describing The Who as being capable but failing at creating social change through music the film cuts to Daltry looking like a poodle. Still, he might have had questionable ideals but Townshend does good rock.
Bragg hair rating: Open university parting/mullet
Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
Like the Beatles on acid. This 25th anniversary film of the experimental and revolutionary album for 'heads' featured new interviews with the then-surviving Beatles plus a commentary from George Martin. Fascinating stuff about a band at the end of their tether trying to create an album that would tour in their stead.
Bragg hair rating: '80s hair helmet
Next page: The Smiths, Dusty, Jarvis, Steve Reich
If Pete Townshend was a tad ponderous, this is, well, obsequious as literally everyone in the film worships at the Church of the Smiths. Still, that was a cult we all belonged to in the '80s and, in that respect, this is a perfect example of mass hysteria. Thankfully the songs still stand up. (Apologies - Part 1 is currently unavailable but it's worth starting here)
Bragg hair rating: N/A
People were queuing round the block to appear on this film and lionise the recently deceased chanteuse in this comprehensive retrospective. As well as the great music there's the alcoholism, the confusion over sexuality, the comebacks and the untimely death. Like a copy of Heat with a soul soundtrack. RIP.
Bragg hair rating: Wind tunnel
Motown boss Berry Gordy comes across like a proto-Cowell, describing being singularly unimpressed when a teenage Steveland Judkins came in to perform for him. Thankfully everyone else thought he was brilliant and gave him the 'Wonder' moniker. The rest of the show proves the majority were in the right.
Bragg hair rating: Troubadour flick
This is a love story between Cocker and Bragg who grin and laugh at each other's every comment. Cocker's in fine form both in the live footage or just gangling around Paris. And he still retains his wit after suffering a "semi-obscure mid afternoon of the soul" following the end of Pulp.
Bragg hair rating: Hairy beret
Amongst other things, Steve Reich is the man who inspired Brian Eno and Sonic Youth and, as a result of hating classical music, dragged it into the modern era. The film traces the development of his technique of playing music (or sometimes just sounds) out of synch to create his signature phasing.
Bragg hair rating: Demagogue demi-wave
This isn't the best quality video but the subject matter is louder than life. That said, despite his celebrated excesses and explosive stage presence, in the interview Pop comes across as a man who appreciates the simplicity of his trailer park upbringing: "A lot of those people are nicer than the more accomplished members of our society," he explains.
Bragg hair rating: Gary Oldman's Dracula
Khaled and Rachid Taha
Khaled - the King of 'Rai' - Taha and his punk brother Rachid, took the World Music scene by storm when they performed in a 1998 concert in Paris. The film charts their rise and examines how the two North Africans came to dominate the music scene in Paris.
Bragg hair rating: The thunder cloud
No one had heard of Susan Boyle when Watson first made it. He converted the masses to opera, while at the same time alienating the elite with his down to earth attitude. The film concentrates on his musical home: Salford. Lots of banter interspersed with operatic arias.
Bragg hair rating: Rockabilly
This film shows a group of men who all seem committed to one another and making music together even though a year later they fell apart and into individual music projects/cheese making. One brilliant scene shows Damon Albarn chastened after a pot-bellied brass section give him a handbag 'oooooh' after having a strop.
Bragg hair rating: New Romantic thatch
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