Friday, December 18, 2020

Watch this: American Beat '86

Once again ScottishTeeVee has disinterred a relic of a bygone Super Rock era, this time the full “American Independence Day Celebration” show on July 4, 1986 at the Klubfoot, in Hammersmith, London. The Fleshtones sprint through a fairly typical set of the era ("Screamin' Skull," "Legend of a Wheelman," "Watch This," "Return to the Haunted House"), play a clutch of songs ("Treat Her Like a Lady," "Way Down South," "Too Late to Run") that they'd record a few months later for Fleshtones Vs. Reality, offer one rarity ("High on Drugs"), and among the cover songs, feature Otis Williams's "Panic" and the Fever Tree's "San Francisco Girls" that intrepid Fleshtones fan and Next Big Thing honcho Lindsay Hutton would issue as a limited-release fan club single later in the year. 

At this point, the Fleshtones were still smarting from the negative reactions in the U.K. press to their initial visit a few years earlier. "The show was well-attended," I wrote in Sweat: The Story of the Fleshtones, America's Garage Band, "but the band’s hostility toward England remained dogged. 'We received our Independence Day show, especially the reaction in the press, as a bitter disappointment,' Peter said." 
Some journalists were on the Fleshtones’ side. Nick Jones attended the show and recalls that near the end of the performance The Fleshtones led “a trail of happy smashed punters out of the dancehall down the rather elegant stairways into the foyer, out of the front doors, out into the smeared neon rush of Hammersmith Broadway traffic speeding past, and down the entrance stairs leading to the subterranean maze of tunnels.” The paisley pied pipers literally enjoyed an English following on this sunny day. “I regained some semblance of consciousness in the band’s hotel bar awhile later being interrogated by The Beastie Boys, who to my complete and utter amazement seemed to have heard of me,” Jones continues. “I can remember looking around and seeing the smiling faces of Peter, Keith, and Bill, etc., and all their happy entourage chattering, laughing and grooving about the bar—and probably thinking to myself that this was indeed rock & roll paradise, and that absolutely nothing else ever needs to happen again.” 
Jones added, “I don’t think anything else ever did.” 

A raucous version of "Land of 1000 Dances," which the band didn't play all that often, leads to the show closer—"American Beat," naturally. You can see the Fleshtones depart the venue at the end of the video, Part Two of the evening commencing. 

 Can you hear the American sound? They did, and now we can again.

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