Tuesday, 13 January 2015

lost and found prog rock

Such was the ephemeral nature, or thought to be, of early music programmes at the BBC up until the 1970's many of the most valued performances on video were erased or destroyed. Particular victim of the purging was the long running weekly chart show 'Top Of the Pops' which had the last live Beatles appearance in 1966 and most of the Pink Floyd hits with Syd Barrett along with countless other groups of the time. In a darkened room somewhere there is still a BBC archivist sobbing.
The BBC have since regularly pleaded to the general public for any forgotten attic treasures to be forwarded. It's probably more surprising the occasional gem does come to light, mainly from a long gone comedy show. Pop music on the other hand is an increasingly rare find.

The European countries have been the most likely source of any buried treasure, possibly due at the time to the rarity of grabbing some hot trend in UK pop to be included in one of their own programmes of the time, and simply because their archives have not been decimated by an over zealous BBC management.
So the recent find from an archive of a German TV show 'Hits A Go Go' which included a song by King Crimson on Top Of The Pops is seen by fans of the group as the nearest thing to buried treasure lost but now found after all these years. It's rare content as well. Crimson have always been an ever evolving group except for the continual presence of Robert Fripp and in particular between their first live appearance in 1969 and the early 70's for one reason or another the revolving door was forever spinning with Crimson personnel coming and going.
This film of them on Top Of The Pops in March 1970 caught then at a most precarious moment. Within a month or so Greg Lake left for Emerson, Lake and Palmer who debuted in August 1970 at the Isle Of Wight Festival so must have been one of his last performances with Crimson. On keyboards is Keith Tippett who preferred to remain as a studio collaborator and performed live with the band only once and didn't record with them until the next album 'In the Wake of Poseidon' (May 1970), but was obviously keen enough to be in on this Top Of The Pops gig.
This then is 1.58 of the long lost "Cat Food" with some glorious free form piano from Tippett and the unmistakeable Greg Lake vocals. To think this was on a pop chart show says much about the era.