Night Flight on IFC: Episode 10!

By on October 12, 2018

“Night Flight” was the most radically fun, nostalgically cranium-bursting cable TV program of all time, originally airing in the ’80s (and syndicated shows aired during the ’90s) during the wee hours on Fridays and Saturdays on the USA Network. Now we’re back on the IFC channel — and we’re now on at a new time, 1am east coast/10pm west coast, but as always be sure to check your local listings for time/TV channel location.

Tune in once again each weekend (check your local listings for the right time) to see a mash-ups of clips from rock movies and documentaries, concert films, experimental short films, weirdo kaiju monster flicks, computer art films, campy ’50s sci-fi serials, banned cartoons, and loads of music videos that MTV wouldn’t dare show.

We’ve had an online presence for a few years now with Night Flight Plus, our streaming subscription “channel,” which is where you can find all the above and more, supplemented by full-length streaming titles we’ve added from our content partners, including fellow cultural insurrectionists MVD Video.

Tune in to see why VH1 called us “the single greatest rock omnibus program ever aired” and Brooklyn Vegan named us “the most consistently weird and awesome thing on cable television in the ’80s.”

Read more below about our tenth “Night Flight Highlights” episode (“The Electronic Revolution”) on IFC — the cable network describes these episodes as “A fever dream of classic clips including iconic rock stars, animation, and heavy metal music, a trip back to the boundary-pushing music and videos of the 1980s” — and be sure to sign up for Night Flight Plus to watch more classic episodes of the original ’80s, available on Roku, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire TV.

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Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression — just one of the many music documentaries you’ll find streaming over on Night Flight Plus — details the sometimes surreal over-thirty-year musical career of one of the pioneering British electro synth-pop bands of the ’80s who went on to become one of the most successful bands ever, selling over 100 million records worldwide.

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This unauthorized UK-made music doc was produced and edited by Alec Lindsell and released back in 2009 by our content partner, MVD.

Clocking in at just over an hour and a half, Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression features archival footage of rare live performances by the band, snippets from their music videos, location shoots, news reports, home movies and exclusive interviews with members of the band and contributions from friends and a few of their electronic music contemporaries, including: Gary Numan, Thomas Dolby, Orchestral Manœuvres in the Dark’s Andy McCluskey, Daniel Miller (the Normal); band biographer Jonathan Miller; producers Gareth Jones, Dave Bascombe, Phil Legg and Steve Lyon; and electronic music experts Mark Pendergast and David Stubbs.

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The focus here is on an almost reverent celebration of Depeche Mode‘s recordings and less so on the personal lives of the band members themselves, although there was certainly enough grist for the rumor mill had the producers of this excellent documentary decided to go that way (in other words, don’t expect to see too much focus on Depeche Mode’s hard-partying drug-addled front man Dave Gahan).

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The film’s oral history continues with Depeche Mode’s early flirtations with London-based New Romantic movement before moving forward in time through the rest of the 1980s, focusing on some of the cutting-edge developments in their sound — a blend of airy synths and deep dark vocals with bold dynamic melodies — through the stark urban industrial landscapes envisaged on A Broken Frame (#177 UK, 1982), Construction Time Again (1983) and Some Great Reward (#51 UK, 1984), albums which would all help to define the early ’80s synth-heavy pop sound.

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Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression continues on, exploring Depeche Mode’s darker middle-period albums, such as Black Celebration (1986), Music for the Masses(1987), and Violator (#7 US, 1989), leading up to the release of their #1 U.S. album Songs of Faith and Devotion album and the resulting Devotional Tour (1993/1994) that followed.

The film concludes with the departure of keyboardist and co-founder Alan Wilder in 1995, which arrived at a time when each member of the band were facing personal challenges (both Martin Gore and Dave Gahan have had well-publicized battles with drugs) and likely had already achieved the peak of their commercial success with a handful of dark-themed radio-friendly synth-pop hits.

Buy Depeche Mode: The Dark Progression

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Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution: A Documentary Film is a mind-blowing three-hour tour, beginning with electronic music’s emergence in Europe at the end of the Sixties but mostly focusing on Germany’s Kraftwerk, through their most important and influential period until the near-present, examining the scope of that influence on other bands and musical genres down through the decades. Watch it now on Night Flight Plus.

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You’ll hear memorable Kraftwerk tracks — including a snippet of their 24-minute “Autobahn,” their breakthrough hit from 1974 — featured prominently throughout the three-hour film, in both live and studio settings. Also featured are classics like “Trans Europe Express,” “Computer Love,” “The Robots,” “Pocket Calculator” and many other of their recordings.

You’ll also hear music by Krautrock faves like Can, Amon Düül, Tangerine Dream, Cluster (sometimes spelled Kluster), Neu!, and even lesser-known bands like Popol Vuh.

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Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution traces the rise of contemporary German music back far enough so that we hear how 1960s-era British bands — like the Beatles, who most famously played in Hamburg nightclubs, honing their live performance skills — would have an influence some of the early German rock bands.

We learn how Kraftwerk’s influence (one writer says it created a “nostalgia for the future”) trickled down and merged with other sounds as it filtered into (and even helped create) other genres, like techno and house music — British journalist Edwin Pouncey likens this impulse in Kraftwerk to its later manifestations in techno and house music — as well as electronica, ambient, disco, rock and hip-hop.

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We hear how this process continued, from station to station, from Donna Summer and Giorgio Moroder’s 70s hits, on into the 80s-era new wave of groups and artists who followed in Kraftwerk’s warbling electro-shockwave wake, influencing Human League, Soft Cell, Simple Minds and Gary Numan, and many others.

The documentary traces that influence all the way down to the pivotal recordings by hip-hop masterminds like Afrika Bambaataa, who famously sampled (without permission) their “Trans-Europe Express” melody and the 808 beats in the rhythm track from their “Numbers” in his 1982 song “Planet Rock.”

Buy Kraftwerk & the Electronic Revolution

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Brian Eno 1971-1977: The Man Who Fell To Earth — now streaming on our Night Flight Plus channel — documents six key years in the revered sonic innovator and rock renaissance man’s celebrated career, from his early days in art school, to joining Roxy Music and appearing on their first two albums, through his remarkably inventive solo recording career which ends in 1977 with Before and After Science, the last of four albums to feature his lead vocals, and just prior to becoming a recording studio wizard, leading to his work with David Bowie on the so-called Berlin Trilogy and his full immersion into an exploration of ambient music before the end of the decade.

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Despite its claims, editor/documentary filmmaker Ed Haynes’ 2011 film — appropriating the latter part of its title from Nicolas Roeg’s 1977 alien-on-Earth sci-fi film — this isn’t the first documentary about Brian Eno: there’s also a long-lost 24-minute documentary Eno, directed by Alphons Sinniger, which we told you about here, and there have been subsequent documentaries of various lengths focusing on later ambient periods of Eno’s musical career too.

Brian Eno: The Man Who Fell To Earth is, however, is the first unauthorized feature-length doc (157 minutes long!) to explore the first six years of Brian Eno‘s incredibly creative output in the 1970s, and provides us with exclusive interviews with some of his occasional collaborating musical partners, including Jon Hassell, Percy Jones, Hans Joachim Roedelius, Chris Spedding and Brian Turrington.

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Also featured are interviews with Eno biographers, theorists, and critics — including Johnny Rogan, Robert Christgau, David Sheppard (On Some Faraway Beach), Eric Tamm (Brian Eno: His Music and the Vertical Color of Sound), Geeta Dayal (author of the 33⅓ book on Eno’s landmark album Another Green World), Simon Reynolds (Retromania), David Toop (Ocean of Sound: Æther Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds), and Mark Prendergast (The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Moby—the Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age) — as well as an interview his longtime friend, Lloyd Watson.

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Eno makes only a brief appearance in the film (in two soundbite excerpts from a 2008 BBC Arena interview), but there’s enough engaging detailed discussion here from all involved that you get the complete story (and then some).

The documentary also features several of Eno’s instrumental tracks snippets playing over archival footage from avant-garde and experimental films, like Pruitt-Igoe sequence from Godfrey Reggio’s Koyaanisqatsi, clips from Andrei Tarkovsky films and more.

Buy Brian Eno – 1971–1977: The Man Who Fell to Earth

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In 1988, eight overweight stand-up “heavyweights” were filmed at the Minetta Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village, New York for an evening billed as “The Heavyweights of Comedy.” Night Flight’s founder/creator Stuart Shapiro was the director of the documentary film, also called The Heavyweights of Comedy, which you can now see streaming on our Night Flight Plus channel.

The Heavyweights of Comedy, a concept documentary, was shot on 35mm with multiple cameras in front of a live audience, and there were no second takes, which is unique in the world of comedy films.

Like Shapiro’s Mondo New York, and the other comedy documentary he made around this same time, Comedy’s Dirtiest Dozen, the idea was to just let the cameras captured whatever they did, with very little to no editing afterwards.

These eight comedians — Bob Woods, Barry Berry, “Big Ed” Weldon, Billy Elmer, Tim O’Rourke, Marci Rose, Mark Rossi, and Thea Vidale — were mostly popular Long Island-area comics who regularly performed at the East Side Comedy Club and other local NY-area comedy venues.

Bob Woods — who died just a few years after this performance, in 1990 — was heralded for his impressions of both Jackie Gleason and Art Carney and for doing a memorable routine based around the 1950s TV show “The Honeymooners.” His routine was considered amongst his fellow comedians as one the great classic bits of stand-up.

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Voice of a generation that spoke from 11PM-7AM EST Friday and Saturday on USA Network in the '80s. Back to enlighten and inspire 24/7.