Back in the 90’s, 94-96 to be precise, there was a short lived music show on TV called The White Room hosted by Mark Radcliffe and Jo Whiley. I really liked this show and have no idea why it didn’t last very long, other that that, possibly, Channel 4 messed it all up. Anyway, back then I used to always have a videotape in the machine ready to press play and record just in case something good came on TV, The White Room rarely disappointed with some great and unexpected performances, not least Prince and NPG (The theme music is by Dave Stewart in case you wondered), oh and Prince married Mayte of course, though they weren’t at the time time of the performance below.
I think I still have the videos in the loft somewhere, although I don’t think I have a video player anymore.
The Manic Street Preachers where only two years on from The Holy Bible and the loss of Richey Edwards, Design For Life hadn’t hit the charts and their performance on The White Room would have been one of the first times they had ever played it live. One of the things I also licked about the show was that it wasn’t one song and you’re off, it would be two or three quite often, all played live.
I think it’s a pretty good show when Oasis, Prince, Stevie Wonder, Pulp, Marc Almond, Bryan Ferry, Jimmy Cliffe, Wilson Pickett, Chris Farlow, Dreadzone and Skunk Anansie are all in the room and then they open with Bowie!
The Bluetones made their TV debut on the White Room, several year later I saw them on what turned out to not be their farewell tour at Napton Festival, which is tiny, a local festival for local people, there were probably a maximum of 200 people there and the most popular band were a Stone Roses tribute act who were on before the Bluetones. The band took to the stage very very late and didn’t seem particularly happy to be there at first, but they did the hits and put on a decent show.
Now I’ve not made it any secret that I like a bit of Gary Numan and he too was on the show. There were some stellar artists that appeared, perhaps as it was one of the few alternatives to Top Of The Pops at the time, post The Tube.
As I look back through the videos I can find on youtube I am constantly reminded how great this show was, it was almost as though they gave me a call every week and asked me who I wanted on the show. Case in point, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds with P J Harvey, I would have definitely asked for this!
So they call me up, in an imaginary scenario, and ask me, “What do you want to see next week?” and I answer rather offhandedly, “Shane McGowan and Sinead O’Connor”, and they reply “Sure, no problem”. The song is really good by the way, don’t skip it.
I was very fond of Elastica when they first appeared on the scene, I still have a couple of CD singles somewhere. They seemed pretty cool, the sort of people you’d want to be in a gang with I guess. The first album is very good, the whole Stranglers law suite aside (The song “Waking Up”, written about being an underachiever, received positive critical reviews. However, it also prompted a lawsuit from the publishers of The Stranglers, who claimed that Elastica took the song’s riff from The Stranglers’ “No More Heroes”. The case was settled out of court – It was more than a just a resemblance, it was a straight lift).
A couple of stunning tracks from Portishead, the version of ‘Over’ being performed 2 years before it appeared on their second album and it’s a noticeable different , and fabulous version. Again, I love this band and there they are on the telly, this show was so good, with the odd exception, almost everything was killer.
This was a great period for Paul Weller, with the albums Wild Wood and Stanley Road being released, two of my favourites of his and perhaps the best of his solo work. He made a couple of appearances on the show, probably promoting both albums, I’ve gone for Sunflower, but could have gone for Changing Man or Peacock Suit, they are out there if you want to see them.
The show was, of course, the one where Iggy Pop wore plastic see through trousers, which was pretty shocking at the time.
I saw pretty much all of the clips above when they were first broadcast and I do wish there was a programme on TV now that was as good. There’s nothing much, other than Later…..with Jools Holland, that comes even close. There wasn’t much faffing about, little chat, just bands getting on stage and playing.
And there is this: