Fans of early 1980s LA punk rock and early late night cable TV rejoice! Someone has uploaded multiple episodes of “New Wave Theater,” the highlight of the USA Network’s legendary late night show “Night Flight,” at the YouTube channel located the link above. Hosted by the late great Peter Ivers.
Here is one of the more memorable scenes from director David Lynch’s early masterpiece “Eraserhead” … the “lady in the radiator” song “In Heaven, Everything is Fine.” The song was composed by Peter Ivers and David Lynch and sung by Ivers. The song was later covered by Devo and Frank Black of the Pixies. Ivers recorded some eccentric, but occasionally brilliant albums in the 1970s before becoming the host of “New Wave Theater,” one of the best shows from the early days of cable TV. Lynch … well … I wonder whatever happened to him …
If this seems like a really bad attempt at avant-garde humor/entertainment, you’d be correct. Why am I posting it here? Because it’s an extremely rare debacle that involved a lot of famous people doing a favor for someone named David Jove. Jove was the producer of the infamous (and truly great) early 1980s hardcore punk cable TV show “New Wave Theater.” When that show’s host Peter Ivers was murdered in 1983, some of Ivers’ friends tried to help Jove get a new show started.
“The Top” is similar to “New Wave Theater” in tone, but with a lot more money thrown at it and a lot less balls and heart. Originally Chevy Chase was hired to host, but when he got stuck in the middle of a spontaneous slam-dancing session which he had no knowledge of, he fled the studio and the producers hired Andy Kaufman instead. This was Kaufman’s last live appearance and sadly, it’s not particularly good. Still, it’s a good example of what sometimes happens when the avant-garde tries to go mainstream.
Holy mackeral! This song damn near defined my 9th grade year in junior high. To my immature ears, this was the angriest, coolest, and funniest song I’d ever heard. Though, crazily enough, I actually first heard this song in the cheesy 1983 horror film “Nightmares.” In that film, Emilio Estevez played a video game addict who played this song constantly in his headphones. In retrospect, that was the ONLY thing I remembered about that otherwise s–tty movie.
When a friend of mine played it for me a year later on a punk compilation he had copied, I freaked out like that blind guy in the 1931 Fritz Lang film “M” when he heard the serial killer humming “In The Hall of the Mountain King.” I later learned the band who did this was Fear. … who I later saw in several infamous and legendary clips on the punk TV show “New Wave Theater” … and whose lead singer Lee Ving had pivotal acting roles in several mid-1980s films (“Flashdance,” “Streets of Fire,” “The Wild Life,” “Clue”) … and who I later learned was one of John Belushi’s favorite bands before he died (Fear plays a VERY pivotal role in the final third of the infamous Bob Woodward biography of Belushi “Wired”).
Guns n’ Roses later covered this on their 1993 album “The Spaghetti Incident”.
A totally rude and nasty classic!!! From Fear’s 1982 album “The Record.” Due to multiple f-bombs, not safe for work.
More highlights from New Wave Theater, this is the band Killer Pussy with their song “Pocket Pool.” You may not believe this, but their most famous song is called “Teenage Enema Nurses in Bondage” … which was actually a hit on LA’s KROQ-FM back in the early 1980s.
I discussed watching this seminal punk cable TV show in a previous Dave’s Strange World entry … along with the impact of seeing the Dead Kennedys doing “Holiday in Cambodia” on the show had on me personally. If you haven’t read it, you can catch it at the link below. You will not only see the performance, but the post goes into more detail about the show and host Peter Ivers:
However, since then, someone generously uploaded an entire episode of “New Wave Theater” broadcast sometime in the first half of 1984 from the legendary late-night USA cable network show “Night Flight.” This was broadcast right after host Peter Ivers’ untimely murder. For better or worse, commercials from the day were not edited out, so you can reminisce … or drag your mouse along the bottom of the visual to fast forward. To get the proper perspective of this, imagine watching this at 1:30 am, a little sleep deprived. To say it was mind-blowing back in the day is coming up short.