Night Flight on IFC: Episode 15!

By on November 16, 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 fifteenth “Night Flight Highlights” half-hour episode (“Pop Poetry”) 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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In this previous blog post about Dire Straits, Night Flight contributor Marc Edward Heuck writes:

“Walk of Life” was not only one of the band’s biggest hits, but which one nervy editor suggests can improve the ending of any movie!

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Dire Straits had earned plenty of critical and commercial respect for their first four records, with songs like “Sultans of Swing” and “Industrial Disease” becoming album rock radio staples.

The release of Brothers in Arms in the spring of 1985, however, catapulted the band to their biggest level of success.

The album debuted at #1 on the UK charts, spent nine weeks at #1 on the US Billboard chart, and even set a Guinness World Record for being the first album in the nascent CD format to sell a million copies.

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Its lead US single, “Money for Nothing,” was the band’s first #1 Top 40 hit, won a Grammy for Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal, and its accompanying music video won Video of the Year at the third MTV Video Music Awards.

However, upon the release of Brothers in Arms, Knopfler had soured on the process of making videos.

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Where he had been an active dramatic participant in clips for “Tunnel of Love” and “Private Investigations,” for the singles from Brothers, he chose only to appear in performance footage or occasional candid moments.

Steve Barron, who directed two videos for the album, said, “The problem was that Mark Knopfler was very anti-videos. All he wanted to do was perform, and he thought that videos would destroy the purity of songwriters and performers.”

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“Walk of Life” was the first video offered to American television outlets, though it was not the first single released from the album.

Filmed in the tunnel that runs under the Thames from London Docklands to Greenwich, it depicted a young busker portrayed by Tom Jennings, dressed as Knopfler often dressed in concert, playing the iconic 1937 silver steel guitar from the cover of the album, performing for change from London commuters, with some cutaways to a daylight concert by the band.

“Walk of Life” became the band’s biggest UK hit, reaching #2 on their singles chart, and peaking respectably at #7 on the US singles chart.

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The original busker video for “Walk” was not included in the band’s home video anthology; Johnson’s sports-themed video has effectively become the default version.

One curious detail both videos share in common though are prominent shots of replacement guitarist Jack Sonni’s bare feet.

Each video ultimately suits the song well, since its message is that Johnny’s struggle is our struggle.

Buy Sultans of Swing: The Very Best of Dire Straits

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Catherine “Kate” Bush — born on July 30, 1958, in Bexleyheath, Kent, now part of Greater London, England — began teaching herself the piano at the age of eleven, in addition to studying the violin and playing the organ in her parents’ barn.

She soon began writing her own songs, developing her rich contralto voice (which is either a three or four octave range — we’ve read its both).

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By the time she was sixteen she’d written nearly 200 songs, and with help from her musical family she produced a demo tape with over fifty songs, which then made its way — through a family friend, Ricky Hopper — to one of his friends, Pink Floyd guitarist and producer David Gilmour, who was also friendly with the entire Bush family.

Impressed with what he heard, Gilmour spent his own money recording three of Kate’s songs, and got his friend Andrew Powell to produce the session which included a huge studio orchestra.

That tape made its way into record executive Terry Slater’s hands, who promptly signed her to a recording contract with EMI Records.

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At just sixteen years old, it was determined by EMI that Bush wasn’t quite ready yet for the release of her debut, and so the next few years were spent carefully developing and honing her considerable talents, focusing on dance, mime and voice training (she used part of her advance to enroll in Lindsey Kemp’s interpretive dance classes).

She also performed at various small venues in and near London under the name KT Bush Band.

By 1978, she was nineteen years old and finally ready, and EMI picked thirteen of her songs among the many she’d written for her debut, The Kick Inside.

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That album and her sophomore effort, Lionheart (also 1978) are discussed at length here, in interviews with many of her colleagues, as well her 1980 album Never for Ever, which was the first-ever album by a British female solo artist to go to #1 on the UK album chart (where it remained for four weeks) as well as topping the Australian charts on its way to making her an international star.

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Early on, she realized she didn’t like the loss of privacy and public exposure which made her uncomfortable, and due to this she began to shy away from doing promotional work and tried to focus on the music itself, becoming a perfectionist in the studio painstakingly focused on her life’s work.

She would begin a pattern early in her career of woodshedding and working on the songs, then burst forth with new material, which always caused quite a stir among the music world, before disappearing again for long periods of time.

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As you might imagine, Bush — who not only excelled as a songwriter and singer, but as a celebrated creative 80s-era music video artist, dancer, choreographer and film director — rarely performed live, however; her only tour was in 1979, at venues in the UK and Europe, and featured a huge dance troupe, elaborate stage lighting and effects, and seventeen costume changes.

Bush was also the first ever singer to use a wireless harness microphone, which allowed her to move about freely onstage so that she could incorporate extensive dance routines into her live performances onstage.

Buy Kate Bush: Under Review

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Here’s an excerpt from his Rolling Stone obit, written by Richard Gehr and published on their website on Thursday, November 10th:

“Leonard Norman Cohen was born on September 21st, 1934, in Westmount, Quebec. He learned guitar as a teenager and formed a folk group called the Buckskin Boys. Early exposure to Spanish writer Federico Garcia Lorca turned him toward poetry – while a flamenco guitar teacher convinced him to trade steel strings for nylon.

After graduating from McGill University, Cohen moved to the Greek island of Hydra, where he purchased a house for $1,500 with the help of a modest trust fund established by his father, who died when Leonard was nine. While living on Hydra, Cohen published the poetry collection Flowers for Hitler (1964) and the novels The Favourite Game (1963) and Beautiful Losers (1966).”

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“Frustrated by poor book sales, and tired of working in Montreal’s garment industry, Cohen visited New York in 1966 to investigate the city’s robust folk-rock scene. He met folk singer Judy Collins, who later that year included two of his songs, including the early hit “Suzanne,” on her album In My Life.

His New York milieu included Andy Warhol, the Velvet Underground, and, most importantly, the haunting German singer Nico, whose despondent delivery he may have emulated on his exquisite 1967 album Songs of Leonard Cohen. Cohen quickly became the songwriter’s songwriter of choice for artists like Collins, James Taylor, Willie Nelson and many others. His black-and-white album photos offered an arresting image to go with his stark yet lovely songs.

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His next two albums, Songs From a Room (1969) and Songs of Love and Hate (1971), benefited from the spare production of Bob Johnston, along with a group of seasoned session musicians that included Charlie Daniels.”

“During the Seventies, Cohen set out on the first of the many long, intense tours he would reprise toward the end of his career.

‘One of the reasons I’m on tour is to meet people,’ he told Rolling Stone in 1971. ‘I consider it a reconnaissance. You know, I consider myself like in a military operation. I don’t feel like a citizen.’

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His time on tour inspired the live sound producer John Lissauer brought to his 1974 masterpiece, New Skin for the Old Ceremony.

However, he risked a production catastrophe by hiring wall-of-sound maximalist Phil Spector to work on his next album, Death of a Ladies’ Man, whose adversarial creation resulted in a Rolling Stone review [from February 9, 1978] titled “Leonard Cohen’s Doo-Wop Nightmare.”

Buy Tony Palmer’s Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire

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About Night Flight

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.