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Case Number 08401: Small Claims Court

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The Tomorrow Show: Punk And New Wave

Shout! Factory // 2006 // 320 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge Ryan Keefer (Retired) // January 18th, 2006

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All Rise...

In Judge Ryan Keefer's day, he didn't have rock stars that appeared in movies, opened their own restaurants or started clothing lines. He listened to music from the Ramones and the Stooges, and he liked it!

The Charge

From Elvis to Iggy, all the punks are here!

The Case

It's kind of hard to imagine what late night talk shows were like before the days of O'Brien, Stewart, Leno and Letterman. More to the point, when Johnny Carson was on, there was no real alternative to his late night gold standard. Any real hope that young bands would have to get media exposure was seemingly to try and jostle for the limited number of musical guest appearances on Saturday Night Live, unless you felt like checking out Tom Snyder. The cigarette smoking talk show host encouraged his viewers to "fire up the colorcast" and to enjoy a wide variety of guests who shared many different viewpoints. And somehow, he managed to attract a wealth of musicians during the punk rock era.

For those who were born after 1981, punk rock is music that Green Day, The Strokes and Jet play to try to sound aggressive and angry. But for those who are a little more acquainted with the era, punk rock (or New Wave, depending on your preference) was forged by bands like the Ramones in America, and the Sex Pistols in Great Britain. They provided an aggressive alternative to the music of the time. Disco was very popular, as proven with the release of Saturday Night Fever, and normal established rock bands at the time were either disbanding or going stale creatively. Punk gave a new voice to the young people of the time, where they articulated their displeasure with the system and everybody associated with it.

Snyder didn't really promote the bands that came on the show, but he did help give them a chance to be experienced in a broader way that radio wasn't doing for them at the time. Most of the time, he managed to give them a relatable factor to Joe Sixpack who viewed the show in Podunk, Kansas. This is to Snyder's credit, because he seemed to be on the few that would actively give these artists increased visibility. The folks at Shout! Factory have managed to pull together some of the episodes where these artists appeared on Snyder's Tomorrow show, and have treated the old punk in your family to two discs of fun and good times. The breakdown is as follows:

Disc One
• October 11, 1977
Tom hosts a Punk/New Age roundtable of sorts, with legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, producer Kim Fowley, and critic Robert Hilbert. Later on, Runways singer Joan Jett and Jam frontman Paul Weller come in to talk about the then-blossoming genre on a more personal level.

• February 3, 1981
This one may one of the most symbolic of the variety of guests that Snyder booked. Aside from resident television watchdog Reverend Donald Wildmon, Elvis Costello and The Attractions follow, performing "New Lace Sleeves" and "Watch Your Step" in between an interview with Costello, wrapping up with an interview with director Frank Capra, who was 84 at the time. If nothing else, you've got to watch this for how surreal it is.

• February 12, 1981
And less than two weeks later, another show where the guests are varied. It kicks off with a 10-year-old Ricky Schroeder (NYPD Blue), and then Iggy Pop comes in and performs "Dog Food" and "Five Foot One," in between an interview with Snyder. Iggy and the Stooges have always been one of the best bands of the last several decades, and Iggy throws himself into every performance. To see him almost break his nose when doing a song for a show that aired late at night is a testament to how much he enjoys his work. After a couple more guests, Iggy comes back to close the show with the awesome "TV Eye." Another show to watch.

• May 20, 1981
Aside from an interview with an attorney about sports and fan behavior, there's an interview with Plasmatics singer Wendy O. Williams, between the songs "Head Banger" and "Master Plan." During the second song, she throws a softball-sized group of dynamite into a car and blows it up. You've got to love showmanship.

Disc Two
• May 11, 1978
For novelty, the announcer of Snyder's show, who is named Don Rickles, is interviewed for a few minutes, along with writer and musician Patti Smith and writer Robert Townsend, and no, not the guy who did Hollywood Shuffle.

• June 25, 1980
This one is pretty good. After you skip the interview with producer Alan Carr, Public Image Limited artists Keith Levine and singer (and former Sex Pistols singer) John Lydon stop by for a few minutes. Lydon's rudeness and occasional confrontational answers bother Snyder, but that only means that Lydon accomplished what he wanted to. On a side note, Lydon's autobiography Rotten is worth a read, as he doesn't mince words about anybody in it.

• May 27, 1981
Author James Michener, critic Judith Crist and radio host Dick Maurice discuss the scandal (at the time) with Washington Post writer Janet Cook, who was forced to relinquish her Pulitzer Prize for a forged story about an 8-year-old drug addict. Following that is the return of Weller and his band The Jam and they perform "Pretty Green" and "Funeral Pyre."

• September 1, 1981
Snyder has a guest host here named Kelly Lange, and she talks to an inventor, but the focus of the show is on the legendary Ramones. Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee and Marky talk about music and the world, and also perform "We Want The Airwaves," "I Wanna Be Sedated," and "The KKK Took My Baby Away."

All in all, this seems to be a slightly fond look back at a quick (but memorable) music genre. This is somewhat of a cheap plug, but for those who are curious about the genre, and would like to listen to some of the lesser known music, or find out more about it, former Black Flag singer and self-proclaimed "aging alternative icon" Henry Rollins (The Chase) currently hosts a weekly radio show in California on KDLE named "Harmony In My Head," where he plays anything ranging from Jerry Lee Lewis to The Cramps. Either you'll get turned on to music that you've not heard in a long time, or you'll discover them for the first time. I've included the KDLE Web site and the "Harmony in My Head" Web site (named after a Buzzcocks tune) for your reference and enjoyment.

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Scales of Justice

Judgment: 64

Perp Profile

Studio: Shout! Factory
Video Formats:
• Full Frame
Audio Formats:
• Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono (English)
• None
Running Time: 320 Minutes
Release Year: 2006
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
• Concerts and Musicals
• Performance
• Television

Distinguishing Marks

• None


• IMDb
• Indie 103.1 FM Web site
• Harmony In My Head

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