During my daily YouTube trawl a few weeks back, I discovered the above clip of Pere Ubu performing “Breath,”, their typically zonked stab at a glossed-out “pop hit,” on David Sanborn’s long-mothballed after-hours show Night Music. It was pretty damn weird seeing Crocus Behemoth splutter and stutter on a stage that looked more suited to G.E. Smith, and talking to a friend with fond memories of the show and a few YouTube links of his own, I found out that for a few years Sanborn delighted in screwing with the preconceptions of the late-night audience in the era of Richard Marx. It also turns out that everybody’s pal, turbodouche Lorne Michaels, feels that, because he never made back his initial investment on the show, the episodes should rot in storage somewhere rather than be released on DVD. And so, in lieu of properly synced footage in stereophonic high-fidelity with bonus features and a commentary track, I present to you, after the jump, the blurry, pixilated best of Night Music (at least of what’s available on YouTube).
Sun freakin’ Ra parades his sparkly royal robes through a swaying, ballad-tempo tune full of kozmik synthesizer noises and Marshall Allen’s sax shrieking and squawking about as far out as you can on NBC if you want to hang onto the beer company sponsorships. I’m having a hard time even figuring what the equivalent of this would be today. Sunburned Hand of the Man on Craig Ferguson?
An even gaunter-than-usual Nick Cave backed up by longtime Ornette Coleman bassist Charlie Haden doing a doom-jazz version of the deathless “Hey Joe.” After a while, you gotta figure Sanborn was just putting together bizonkers combinations of musicians because no one from corporate had yet to tell him to knock it off.
Bongwater (with Screamin’ Jay Hawkins at the very beginning). The vocal-to-image sync is pretty wonky on this one, but as one commenter points out, Sanborn’s prodigious hair is more than worth sitting through the opening Bob Weir interview to get to the chewy art-rock freak-out center.
Milton Nascimento. Not so sure about the synth-heavy mix or Sanborn’s smoooooooooth sax break–LOL @ the late 80s–but I want Nascimento played at my funeral.
Conway Twitty with the Residents. Check please.