Speakers Push Air

SNUBTV Saved My Life
October 7, 2010, 12:56 pm
Filed under: Mixes

OK, that’s outrageous hyperbole. But only just…

You only have to read my account of the Goth Years below to see how confused I was back in the mid-to-late 80s. An indie kid with goth and anarcho-punk leanings pulling me every which way, no real feel for electronic music and a suspicion that I really ought to give hiphop a fair hearing (it took De La Soul for that to happen, like 90% of all idiot provincial whiteboys of the era). Dance music to me was something that happened on The Hitman & Her, which I saw more often than was reasonable in those days because my VCR was bust and there was nothing else to watch at 5am when I was tripping hard in my Dave Wells bedsit (ask someone from Bournemouth, they’ll explain).

But SNUB TV? It changed everything, more than John Peel ever did, if I’m honest.

I remember where I was when I first saw it. A Monday evening in 1987. Round 50ft Cromie’s flat in Charminster, crimping my hair ready for a night out at local indie dive Benedicts (I may be conflating two separate evenings here, but I think it ended in a brawl with the bouncers and me getting thrown out for going behind the bar to pour my own pint).

That first episode featured The House Of Love, The Cookie Crew, Yello and Fugazi. And it was Fugazi that did it…

Ian Mckaye, hoody up, gabbling manically at the camera pre-gig about what punk meant, what Suggestion was about and sexual violence generally, what Fugazi stood for. Blew me away, the intensity of his delivery and the clips of the band live, sweating through Suggestion. I bought the album the next day, and that set the pattern. Subsequent weeks saw me buy Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation, Dinosaur Jr’s Bug, Butthole Surfers’ Hairway to Steven, a Beatnigs 12″, the AC Marias album, Loop’s A Gilded Eternity. And on and on and on…

No presenters, an occasional voiceover, that blinking eye ident married to an Adrian Sherwood soundbite (On-U Sound also made a lot of money out of me because of the show). Robert from Loop on a big eye backdrop, the Butthole Surfers goofing off on camera, World Domination Enterprises busking outside the Shell building. The Pixies, The Mekons, The Sundays, Coil, Spacemen 3. Either heard for the first time or making more of an impact than they had on the radio. My record collection changed, expanded, became immeasurably better. And noisier.

Such a cheap, simple format, with the potential to run indefinitely. But by series 3 it seemed to lose its way a bit and finally petered out. As far as I know – I’ve never really had multichannel TV – it’s a format that’s never really been emulated, and that’s a shame. I saw bits of 120 Minutes / Alternative Nation over the years but it wasn’t as essential. It’d still have a place on BBC2 now, I think, an antidote to the sickeningly “authentic” bollocks that makes up 80% of Later…

So this mix is a genuinely heartfelt tribute to a programme that meant the fucking world to me.

NB: I’m fairly sure these tracks were the ones featured on the show for each artist. I know for certain most of them did. There’s precious little documentary evidence online for anything beyond Series 1 (which I have on DVD) so for some of the later shows I’m working from a badly damaged memory.

Snub TV Saved My Life (80mins, 145mb)

1. Adrian Sherwood -Intro
2. The Beatnigs – Television
3. AC Marias – Just Talk
4. Sonic Youth – Teenage Riot
5. World Domination Enterprises – Company News
6. Dinosaur Jr – Freak Scene
7. Wolfgang Press – Kansas
8. Butthole Surfers – Jimi
9. Loop – Vapour
10. Wire – Kidney Bingos
11. Ultra Vivid Scene – Special One
12. Gary Clail & On-U Sound System – Privatise The Air
13. Fugazi – Suggestion
14. The Fall – Dead Beat Descendent
15. The Mekons – Ghosts Of American Astronauts
16. Spacemen 3 – Revolution
17. Gallon Drunk – Some Fools Mess
18. The Pixies – Dead
19. Cookie Crew – Born Like This (Snub TV freestyle)

(all spoken segments lifted directly from the show)

For a little bonus entertainment, there’s a prize (the limitless respect of your peer group, in fact) if you can tell me who this innocent looking young fellow is playing drums for a slightly goth indie-jangle band featured on SNUB.

5 Comments so far
Leave a comment

looks like a young Stewart Lee to my straining peepers. Or ali Campbell from UB40 which seems less likely

Comment by spen

they filmed UVS doing ‘Mercy Seat’
” I Love The Name Pixies – it’s so annoying”

Comment by comrade ouchmonkey

Is it someone called Chris? šŸ˜‰

Comment by John Eden

great stuff… it was essential for a certain time… and an indication that decent music got so close to ruining the mainstream forever… sad, really… our gen’s equivalent of the hippies seeing everyone stop taking acid and joining marketing companies… i think i more or less had or subsequently bought (or at least taped) all the 12″s of all the songs on Snub TV…even some of the stuff that didn’t get anywhere… who did the song ‘virus’ – White someone? W something?? Something Noise?

Comment by loki

Apologies, this comment is long overdue. Lee, you pretty much nailed it with regards to what I remember from Snub: the moments at which I was first blown away by Dinasour Jr, Sonic Youth and The Pixies – as well as the bands that seemed great at the time (hello, Ultra Vivid Scene). Of course, I would probably have discovered those bands by means of the NME, but the exciting thing about Snub was that you saw the PEOPLE in the bands. It was the first time that had happened. Prior to that, all you got was a record to listen to, and an interview in the music press if you were lucky, so you had nothing else to go on. The bands blew me away not just because their music was great, but because they were cool.

Prior to Snub, there was nothing to showcase new/left field music (except at a push, The Tube, which had mere moments of glory sandwiched into hours of tat). Music TV existed, but only in the form of MTV, which no-one was rich enough to have, so no-one saw it unless they went to the pub (hello Bacchus). After Snub, there were so many other music programs, but none hit the spot, trying too hard to be cool or zany (hello Rapido). Why such a perfect showcase for emerging bands was not allowed to flourish, and has never been successfully emulated, is beyond me.

Thanks, Snub. You ruled.

Comment by 50 foot Cromie

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