Hey, remember when Meat Loaf was on SNL?
Oh, sorry. Had you managed to erase that part of your brain?
There was no reason for Meat Loaf to be as bad as he was that night. He’d been in Hair on Broadway, along with the touring company, and did a long stint with Rocky Horror.
In other words, performing in front of a live audience should’ve been a cinch.
Instead, it ranks as one of the series’ most embarrassing segments, and that’s really saying something.
Luckily for him, at that point, everybody in North America including their grandma had already purchased Bat Out of Hell, including me. My copy is signed and everything. It is a great record, period.
The same couldn’t be said for The Clash when they made their American TV debut on a now forgotten SNL ripoff, Fridays, in 1980. This performance probably turned more viewers off than anything else.
Shout Factory just uploaded a superior quality video of their performance to YouTube because they’re selling a Fridays DVD for some reason. Previously only crappy taped-with-my-VCR versions have been available.
Unless you’re an Andy Kaufmann completist, the only reason to buy this DVD is for the musical performances. In its short unfunny history, Friday’s hosted lots of the day’s best, like Pat Benatar, the Cars and Devo.
The Clash could be a mixed bag live. I was unimpressed by them when I saw them live (admittedly at a great distance in a less than ideal outdoor venue. And I was drunk.) And I didn’t hear a decent bootleg until decades after they broke up.
Their live reputation seemed to be based more on sheer energy and charisma than musical aptitude.
Mick dropped notes, and more frequently, Joe mixed up the words.
I always figured Paul was contractually obligated to take off his shirt by the third number as a way to distract from all that.
That gif is taken from videos of their 1977 Munich gig.
These recordings are a cornucopia of great little moments:
Paul’s “nasty” translated for the German subtitles into “Nazi;” Mick in full JAP mode, vowing never to return to Germany while angrily wielding his fork like a toddler — and that’s just the first 15 seconds.
On Fridays, it’s three years later, everybody is probably pissed at everybody else, and you get the feeling they resent having their backstage/NYC fun interrupted.
The song American viewers would have been most familiar with is the hit single Train in Vain.
This is a really sloppy version, almost unrecognizable, due to a likely combination of coke, guitar effects and Ellen Foley-on-the-brain.
Paul is allowed to sing “Guns of Brixton,” the song he wrote all by himself after it dawned on him that the real money was in songwriting royalties/publishing rights.
(Mick repeatedly asked Joe to share the wealth by including all four members on the songwriting credits, but Joe refused and “Strummer/Jones” it remained because SOCIALISM IS AWESOME!)
Is Paul’s performance of “Guns of Brixton” here any good?
Cosmologists call it the “Cinderella Zone” — the precise, delicate earth-like balance of water, oxygen and temperate weather that makes a planet life-friendly.
Almost as rare is what you might call the “Marlene Dietrich Zone”: when a performer’s inability to sing exists in direct reverse proportion to the audience giving a shit.
Paul Simonon is a Class-A Dietrich.
The Fridays set does offer an unusual, almost “Saturday morning cartoon” display of the three major Clash “looks” on stage at the same time:
Scorpio Rising extra; Depression era wanted poster; and “uniforms night” at The Manhole.
The thing that stands out for me is what Joe has written on his guitar.
There’s some dispute as to whether or not it reads “1 MAY TAKE A HOLIDAY” or “I MAY TAKE A HOLIDAY.” Given his political leanings, I’m sure it’s the former.
Perhaps it’s too bad it wasn’t the latter. The surviving members now say the group probably should’ve just taken a much-needed break rather than breaking up less than three years after this performance.
It was the now-dead guy, Joe, who’d wanted to keep touring and recording at their inhuman pace.
Unlike Bobby Darin, Strummer didn’t know he had a fatal heart defect, but it’s always been tempting to speculate that he sensed his time was short.
As far as the breakup, the writing may not have been on the wall, but maybe it was on the Tele.