Night Flight on IFC: Episode 5!

By on May 18, 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!

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 fifth “Night Flight Highlights” episode (“Avant-Garde Experimenters & the Blues”) 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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Calling the album their “commercial” album was a stroke of genius, since the term could be used a couple of different ways. First, record companies always hope that their releases become popular in a “commercial” sense, but there’s the use of the word as it applies to television commercials (or adverts, if you’re a Brit), which is essentially compact a paid-for message into snack-size bites for consumer consumption.

Applying the word “commercial” to an album by the Residents, from both examples, is obviously an attempt at ironic humor, which is pretty much the Residents’ forte.

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Buy The Residents – The Commercial DVD

The tracks on their Commercial Album weren’t really jingles, however, and are probably more accurately described as experimental and often quirky audio pieces which taken together are meant to inspire a wide range of emotional responses, and so were the visual films which accompanied four of these original pieces.

For the DVD — originally released by the UK-based Mute Records in 2004, and reissued by our partner MVD in 2015 — the Residents took their original album concept and expanded on it in order to have other artists interpret the recordings for themselves, creating mostly computer-generated graphic-art intensive visual films which are much too experimental to be considered simply as “music videos,” although that’s what the are, technically.

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The videos — 56 in all — are sometimes animated, but often not. They’re colorful or humorous, or dark and strange, or occasionally a bit too annoyingly abstract or obtuse, and sometimes even difficult to watch (but hang on, they’re just sixty seconds long). Whatever form they take, they reflect a whimsical and experimental world that is unique to the Residents themselves.

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Read more about John Sanborn – Video Artist

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The Residents Rushing Like A Banshee
(Director: John Sanborn)

Buy The Residents – Rushing Like A Banshee

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In 1990, 65-year old B.B. King, the reigning “King of the Blues,” was filmed live in concert at the Trump Marina Hotel, on the boardwalk in Atlantic City, New Jersey, for Standing Room Only: B.B. King in Concert, which was released on DVD in 2007.

With his trusty fabled axe “Lucille,” King performed eleven of his best-loved blues standards during the hour-long concert, including one of his newest numbers, “When Love Comes To Town,” which he’d previously recorded just a few years earlier with the Irish rock band U2.

Watch Standing Room Only: B.B. King in Concert now on Night Flight Plus.

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Buy B.B. King – Standing Room Only DVD

B.B. King’s longtime band — led by his Music Director and nephew Walter King, who plays saxophone — featured Michael Doster (bass), Leon Warren (guitar), Caleb Emphrey (drums), James Toney (keyboards), and Melvin Jackson (saxophone).

At this time in his career, King was still quite the jokester onstage, and he can be seen joking with the audience. He also has his band add sparkling accents to the performances on their individual instruments by pointing at them with various body parts, including shaking his ample ass in their direction, which the audience seems to love.

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B.B. King
All You Need Is Love
(Director: Tony Palmer, Isolde Films)

Buy Tony Palmer’s All You Need Is Love: Who’s That Coming – Blues

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We’ve highlighted “Comedy Cuts 3” before, since both Chris Rock and Rosie O’Donnell appeared in the same episode — along with other comics, including Frankie Pace, Ken Ober, and John Mendoza, which was filmed in 1987 at Rick Newman’s Catch A Rising Star comedy club, on 1st Avenue between East 78th Street and East 77th Street, in uptown NYC — but today we wanted to direct your attention to a performance towards the end of the show, by a very funny, wild maned-hair musical comedian, Canadian-born stand-up comic and all-around renaissance man Lorne Elliott.

While he isn’t necessarily considered a prop comic, this 1987 performance we’ve got for you features him donning sunglasses and a mask which makes the top half of his face look like Elvis — then, before he starts to sing “Love Me Tender” like the King, he pushes the mask down over his nose, which contorts his face into a noseless character that takes on a life of its own.

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In the 1980s, Elliott used to close his stand-up routines with this “Elvis with No Nose” bit, but he also sang humorous songs without the mask, some of which — like “The Smallest Thing Known To Man” and “In the Morning,” which relates everything bad that can happen when waking up, from banging shins to cutting faces while shaving — have also been played on Dr. Demento’s syndicated radio show over the years (mostly during the 1990s).

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Buy The Gumby Show
Buy Gumby: The Best of Gumby

One of the first things everyone notices, young and old, is that Gumby is green, which Clokey considered a racially neutral, universal color. He also thought green represented life itself; it was the symbolic color of chlorophyll, after all, which turns light into energy and provides life. Clokey believed light itself was life, and it was love, and the light-energy-lifeforce are at the very heart of understanding Gumby and all of us, really.

Clokey’s Gumby cartoon — voiced by Dallas McKennon as “Gumby” — began airing in 1956. The Saturday morning TV series, The Gumby Show,” went into production for twenty-two episodes, lasting into 1957. They were created at Clokey Films Hollywood Studio.

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Rise of a Texas Bluesman: Stevie Ray Vaughan 1954-1983 chronicles the early part of the Austin, Texas-based guitarist’s incredible career, as well as providing us with a concise overview of Texas blues history. You can find this two-hour film streaming in our collection of music documentaries over on Night Flight Plus.

Despite having a relatively short solo career — just seven years — Stevie Ray Vaughan was one of the most influential guitarists in the revival of blues in the 1980s.

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Buy Stevie Ray Vaughan: Rise Of A Texas Bluesman: 1954-1983

Vaughan has long been singled out as a passionate, energetic guitarist whose awe-inspiring technical virtuosity so impressed those who saw him perform live — such as David Bowie, who brought him on board to record guitar parts for his fifteenth studio album, Let’s Dance — that decades after his death, Vaughan is still being revered as one of the best blues guitarists of the modern era.

The documentary delves into Vaughan’s earliest musical influences, his first recordings and his earliest bands, which we see through rare, archival film footage and exclusive interviews — including several archival interviews with Vaughan himself — and those with some of his friends and musical colleagues, who offer up a variety of perspectives.

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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.