The Tube was a weekly music television programme which aired on Channel 4. The series began shortly after the channel first appeared in November 1982 and ran for five series until its demise in 1987.
The show was held each week, filmed before a live audience at Tyne Tees City Road studios here in Newcastle and as a young teenager at the time, I had the opportunity to attend the show on a couple of occasions.
The Tube featured many pop and rock acts around at the time as well as providing a showcase for new acts. Sandwiched inbetween the performances, were interviews with the acts and other magazine-type segments delivered by main presenters Jools Holland and Paula Yates, who were helped out by a few newcomers who had taken part in a national competition to become a supporting presenter on the show, such as Scottish presenter Muriel Gray.
What made The Tube so exciting and different were the live performances by the featured acts at a time where most TV shows such as Top of the Pops required them to mime. It was a refreshing change to see the live performances, however, the downside was that although The Tube featured some memorable performances the sound mix was also quite poor on a few occasions.
This didn't stop the show from appealing greatly to the youth of that time and I myself have only great memories of this TV show and its cutting edge presenters Jools and Paula, who themselves added a different and exciting style of presenting which meant that watching them was as enjoyable as the acts themselves. Whereas Top of the Pops was a 'family' show, The Tube was targetted at a teenage and young audience and was sometimes a show your parents might just raise an eyebrow at if they had watched it, which of course you didn't want them to. The Tube was edgy and different and overall had a feel about it where you never quite knew what may happen next... and poor sound mix or not, I loved it.
So when browsing on Amazon recently, I came across this dvd: 'The Tube - The Best of Series 1,' I decided I had to have it and ordered myself a copy, looking forward to settling down for an evening of nostalgia.
This dvd is actually a two-disc set and has an impressive 361 minutes running time + extras, which I think is excellent value for money.
~~~ Disc One ~~~
Although there has been programmes on TV over the years featuring highlights from The Tube, the 6 hours of highlights featured here includes many that have not been seen since the original TV broadcast.
The first disc begins with Jools Holland introducing the very first show broadcast on 5th November 1982 beginning outside the studios on City Road with its iconic neon 'Tube' structure which featured on nearly every show.
From there you are treated to performances, clips and interviews. Hours of memory-filled entertainment highlighting both the highs and lows of The Tube.
One of my favourite bands back then was The Jam and they are featured here being interviewed and performing on the very first show. This was one of the highlights for me as it was their last TV appearance before they split up and as well as featuring their great performance of 'A Town Called Malice' and 'Modern World,' it amused me all over again watching a nervous Muriel Gray struggle to interview Paul Weller as she asks him of his plans for the future. Whilst he is able to answer some of her questions, whoever did the research clearly got some of it wrong, as Muriel is under the impression Paul did the artwork for a book they are discussing and he informs her he didn't. This isn't the only fact she has been misinformed about and it is funny to watch Paul Weller looking slightly amused as he answers with "errmm no I'm not" and "no, I didn't" etc.
Standout performances for me on this first disc are Alison Moyet, Eric Burdon and Jools Holland performing a rendition of 'House of the Rising Sun', Simple Minds being interviewed and performing 'New Gold Dream,' Grandmaster Flash performing 'The Message' and Depeche Mode performing 'Leave In Silence.' These of course are my personal favourites but I also give credit to other performances which although weren't my favourite artists at that time, gave a good performance on the show. A great example of this is Shalamar's performance of 'A Night To Remember.'
I mentioned the lows and indeed this could be an example of the poor sound mix which sometimes featured on the show which I referred to earlier, but I found A Flock Of Seagulls performance of 'Wishing,' disappointing. I liked this band at the time and indeed have seen much better performances by them, so maybe this was due to the sound or the band giving a below-par performance at this time.
Other performances include Iggy Pop, Mari Wilson, Yazoo, Gregory Isaacs, Alison Moyet, Dexy's Midnight Runners and Heaven 17 and you can cringe whilst watching Imagination perform 'Body Talk' all over again!
Interview highlights on this disc has to be AC/DC frontman Brian Johnson in the pub next door. Down-to-earth Brian, with his strong Geordie accent is quite at home in the pub playing snooker or pool with the locals, despite being the singer of one of the biggest bands on the planet. He explains why Newcastle will always be home to him and this, along with an interview with Mick Jagger are more highlights from this first disc.
The only parts I didn't really enjoy were those featuring alternative artist Mark Miwurdz who featured frequently on the show with his rambling segments of 80's style alternative rants and poetry, which didn't appeal to me back then and certainly doesn't now. However, I was amused by the segments featuring another alternative act, hardman Geordie 'Foffo Spearjig' (" I felt nowt!") but this maybe is something which only appeals both then and now to the locals like myself.
~~~ Disc Two ~~~
Disc two holds a performance of 'Fields Of Fire' by my favourite band, Big Country, which of course is another highlight for me, as well as U2 performing 'New Years Day.' There is also an interview with Bono and you can see clearly his frustration as he is asked a question but is then cut short as he begins to reply, because they must cut to The Undertones whose live perfomance is about to begin. It is annoying for the viewer also, but of course this was and indeed still can be, a common problem with live TV.
Much better interviews are held with Hazel O'Connor and Steve Strange, but an interview with Nick Heyward I found quite pathetic as he attempts to act cool and fails miserably. The same can also be said of members of Kajagoogoo.
Another highlight on disc two is Paul Young on two different appearances perfoming 'Come Back & Stay' and 'Love Of The Common People', I was at one of these shows and so particularly enjoyed this too.
Other performances feature OMD, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, Fun Boy Three, Thin Lizzy, Icehouse, The Stranglers, Madness, Aztec Camera and Wah to name but a few.
Also featured here is a tour of the 'Brookside' set as Jools is shown around by the series producer Phil Redmond. As I was fan of this soap, I found this an interesting segment and could not recall seeing it on the show when first screened.
Indeed this was part of the enjoyment of watching these two discs, as not only did it bring back some good memories for me, it also featured performances and interviews I had forgotten about or can not recall seeing before.
Overall, if you were a fan of The Tube or were a teenager back in 1982/83 there is plenty for you to enjoy here. I laughed at some of the fashions and hairstyles as well as finding myself amused at various acts' attempts to be cool which seems quite funny now.
Also included on these discs are the extras 'Inner Tube' and a tour of the set, which was interesting to watch, but most of all I enjoyed watching the raw quality of this show all over again. There are great performances and not-so-great performances, highlights and rubbish, but overall this is a great trip down memory lane for 80's fans and well worth a watch.
The Tube - The best of Series One is available to buy from Amazon priced at £11.99.