Way Back When: Snub TV

Circa late eighties and the hip things on the box for alternative music fans were Eurotrash, Rapido and,,, Snub,

Snub TV was an alternative culture television program that aired from 1987 to 1989 as a segment on the Night Flight overnight programming on the USA Network and subsequently for three seasons on the BBC.

So if like me you’d grown up under the aural guidance of John Peel’s radio programmes, suddenly many of those bands could be seen raw on Snub, rather than just the odd *and some of them were) appearance on TOTP.

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The original US program was developed by executive producer Fran Duffy[2] and aired as part of Night Flight on a fortnightly basis. The first 2 seasons were produced in the UK by Pete Fowler and Brenda Kelly. A third season was produced in the US by Duffy with help from Giorgio Gomelsky.

In 1989-1991 a UK version, produced by Fowler & Kelly, aired for three seasons on the BBC and was syndicated to the pan-European TV channel Super Channel and in other countries in Europe, such as Russia, Portugal, Denmark and Greece,

Snub’s early focus on emphasis on the indie and underground music scene in the UK was very much informed by Kelly’s position as editor of The Catalogue, house magazine of The Cartel record distribution group, plus Fowler’s work producing videos for bands. As the BBC show developed the program covered the rise of Madchesyer documenting such bands as Stone Roses.

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Snub TV was created by Pete “Pinko” Fowler and Brenda Kelly, who met working at Rough Trade records. Kelly was a budding music journalist and Fowler was a cameraman filming live gigs and promos for Rough Trade bands such as the Smiths and the Go-Betweens, before moving on to video work at Southern Studios.

The pair combined their talents for a new cable show in the US put together by anglophile Fran Duffy, which first aired 30 years ago, in 1987. Snub TV was shot in the UK for about £700 per episode, edited at ITN and Fed-Exed to the US each week, where it ran for 14 episodes.

It featured artists such as My Bloody Valentine, the JAMMS (later KLF) and Björk (in her first TV appearance, with the Sugarcubes). Britain took note, and it was soon acquired by Janet Street-Porter, then head of youth television at the BBC, where it ran for three seasons from 1989 until its demise in 1991.

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Despite a healthy chunk of Snub footage being posted on YouTube, the show is not officially available anywhere and huge parts of it – including almost all of the American strand of the series – cannot be viewed at all. Pinko hoped for a release last year, but interest didn’t equate to money. “We were close to putting a DVD out of all the American and English series. I wanted to do it well, to use up outtakes and do fresh interviews with bands that are still pertinent, but nobody was willing to give us the budget to do it properly,” he says. “I want people to see stuff they’ve never seen, it just needs a few thousand quid and we can make something special. I’d love to do an eight-hour box set.”

Snub was where I first saw that Ultra Scene video for Mercy Seat and that’s as good for you today as it’s always been.

The 84-minute compilation video I’ve produced here is a best-of in essence; selected songs and interviews from the three series.

 

In making it, I was reunited with a few long-lost forgotten loves, notably AC Marias “Just Look” – I was quite excited when I saw that,

I’ve also tweaked, jazzed up, however you’d like to call it, the picture quality and sound where possible as the footage from th shows is via VHS standard,

I trust you’ll enjoy these memories as much as I have in knitting them together.

IN ORDER OF APPEARANCE

House Of Love – Destroy The Heart
Ultra Vivid Scene – Mercy Seat
Fugazi – Suggestion
AC Marias – Just Talk
Sonic Youth – Teen Age Riot
Pixies – I Bleed
We Are Going To Eat You – Heart In The Hand
The Sundays – Can’t Be Sure
Spacemen 3 – Revolution
The Telescopes – Celeste
Catherine Wheel – She’s My Friend
The Fall – Bill Is Dead
A Certain Ratio – Tribeca
Loop – From Centre To Wave
Blue Aeroplanes – …..and Stones
Ride – Drive Blind
The Wedding Present – Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now?
Jesus Jones – Info Freak
Dub Sex – Swerve
Pale Saints – Insubstantial 
Inspiral Carpets – Commercial Rain
The Mekons – Ghosts Of American Astronauts

 

 

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