If you've ever sat bleary-eyed through a wasted day with your face bolted to VH1 or some other musically-themed channel you could burn hours and hours watching, you've probably seen Beat-Club. You probably didn't know it was Beat-Club, and even if you did, I bet you had no idea what Beat-Club was. I know I had seen Beat-Club long before I was introduced to the clips in today's Live Music Show and I didn't know what Beat-Club was. So what is Beat-Club?
Beat-Club was a music show that was created in 1965, broadcast out of Bremen, Germany on what you could call Germany's equivalent of PBS: the Erstes Deutches Fernsehen. It showcased popular music at the time -- a first in Germany -- and featured a laundry list of famous American and British acts during its 7 years of existence. Led Zeppelin, The Beach Boys, Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones all recorded sets on Beat-Club. I know you'll be excited to hear that the last show aired in December of 1972 and featured everyone's favorite family band: The Osmonds. With bonus performances from Donny and Jimmy!
So, who cares? I've seen that Black Sabbath performance of Iron Man before. It's good, but what makes it different from any other music variety show performance of the time? If there wasn't someone introducing the acts in German, you'd never tell the difference between a Beat-Club performance and one from The Ed Sullivan Show or Soul Train. Well, maybe not Soul Train, but you get my point. Beat-Club, as a marker of its time and place, is fascinating precisely because of that similarity. It represents a shifting mentality in Germany through the 1960s. A mentality that embraced progressive thinking and a kind of collective awareness. One that wanted to forget the past and forge a better future.
OK, that's a pretty bold statement to make about some silly German music program with weird green-screen effects and a taste for fisheye. Still, when you consider what the political climate was like in Germany in the late 1960s, it doesn't seem that far-fetched. In 1968, West Germany was engulfed by student protests against what they considered authoritarianism in the German government. A little more than two decades removed from World War 2, the general sentiment of the movement was 'out with the old, in with the new'. These were young intellectuals, eager to seek out subcultures that would support their progressive views. Beat-Club was there to deliver. It may not have had any direct impact on the political machine in motion, but what it did impact was the German music scene.
It's no coincidence that the same year the German student movement began, Germany held its first rock festival, the Internationale Essener Songtage, which included a performance by Frank Zappa's band, The Mothers of Invention, among a large lineup of mostly German performers. The German bands pioneered a new sound, one that combined the progressive rock and psychedelia they were now being exposed to with electronic instrumentation. In the way that the younger generation of Germans took cues from American and British counterculture in the 1960s, they had also embraced the music that came from that counterculture. Beat-Club was happy to deliver it to them.
So, you're still not sure why you should care about Beat-Club? I don't know. Just shut up and enjoy the music, man.
SuperDMart is an ancient demon awakened from eternal slumber by careless archaeologists. He plans to someday enslave the human race, maybe when it gets a little warmer outside. Likes: tea parties, death metal. Dislikes: Tea Parties, butt rock.
Beat-Club was a German music program that ran from September 1965 to December 1972. It was broadcast from Bremen, Germany on Erstes Deutsches Fernsehen, the national public TV channel of the ARD, and produced by one of its members, Radio Bremen, later co-produced by WDR following the 38th episode. It is notable for being the first German show to be based around popular music, and featured artists like Frank Zappa, The Rolling Stones, Gene Pitney, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, Ike & Tina Turner, The Who, Black Sabbath, The Bee Gees, The Beach Boys and Kraftwerk in its seven-year run. In 1972, it was replaced by Musikladen.
Performances from the show can now be seen on VH1 Classic, and reruns air in several European countries. Several DVD collections have also been released.
Cat Soup (ねこぢる草 Nekojiru-So, lit. Nekojiru Grass) is an award-winning animated short film directed by Tatsuo Sato, inspired by the work of manga artist Nekojiru. The surreal black comedy follows Nyatta, an anthropomorphic kitten, on his travel to the land of the dead and back in an effort to save his sister's soul.
In the near future, a revolutionary new psychotherapy treatment called dream therapy has been invented. A device called the "DC Mini" allows the user to view people's dreams, exploring their subconscious thoughts. The head of the team working on this treatment, Doctor Atsuko Chiba, begins using the machine illegally to help psychiatric patients outside the research facility, using her alter-ego "Paprika", a persona she assumes in the dream world. The movie opens with Paprika counseling Detective Toshimi Konakawa, who is plagued by a recurring dream, the incompleteness of which is a great source of personal anxiety for him. This type of counseling session is not officially sanctioned, so Doctor Atsuko Chiba and her associates must be cautious that word does not leak out to the press regarding the nature of the DC Mini and the existence of Paprika. Her closest ally is Doctor Kōsaku Tokita, a child-at-heart genius and the inventor of the DC Mini. Unfortunately, before the government can pass a law authorizing the use of the device, three of the prototypes are stolen. Because of their unfinished nature, the DC Minis can allow anyone to enter another person's dreams, giving the culprit an opportunity to get away with all sorts of malicious deeds. Almost immediately, the chief of the department, Doctor Toratarō Shima, goes on a nonsensical tirade and jumps through a window, nearly killing himself.
Upon examining Shima's dream (which consists of a lively parade of inanimate objects, instrument-playing animals, and various cultural icons), Tokita recognizes his assistant, Kei Himuro, which seems to confirm their suspicion that the theft was an inside job. After two other scientists fall victim to the DC Mini, the Chairman of the company, who was against the project to begin with, bans the use of the device completely. This fails to hinder the crazed parade, which manages to claim Tokita, who was inside Himuro's dream trying to find answers, and intrude into Konakawa's dream. Paprika and Shima take matters into their own hands, and find that Himuro is only an empty shell. Tracing the "roots" that controlled him, Paprika confronts the Chairman, who claims that he is in fact the "protector of the dreamworld", guarding this last haven against the inhumane horrors of reality and technology. He is aided by researcher Doctor Morio Osanai, who agreed to give the Chairman his body and become the Chairman's lackey as long as he retains equal powers over his own dreams. Paprika is eventually captured by the pair after an exhausting chase. Paprika wakes as a butterfly pinned to a table in a room surrounded by pinned butterflies. There, Osanai admits his love for Chiba, and literally peels away Paprika's skin to reveal Chiba underneath. However, he is interrupted by the outraged Chairman who demands that they finish off Chiba; as the two share Osanai's body, they battle for control as they argue over Chiba's fate. Konakawa enters the dream from his own recurring dream, and flees with Chiba back into his. Osanai gives chase through Konakawa's recurring dream, causing Konakawa to realize that his recurring nightmare and anxiety result from his guilt that he never finished the film he was making with a now deceased friend. He decides to "finish the film" and take control of the dream by shooting Osanai. The act actually kills Osanai's physical body with a real bullet wound.
Dreams and reality have now merged. The dream parade is running amok in the city, and reality itself is starting to unravel. Shima is nearly killed by a giant Japanese doll, but is saved by Paprika, who has become an entity separate from Chiba thanks to dreams and reality merging. Amidst the chaos, Tokita, in the form of a giant robot, eats Chiba and prepares to do the same for Paprika. The Chairman also returns in the form of a living nightmare, reveals his twisted dreams of omnipotence, and threatens to darken the world with his delusions. A ghostly apparition of Chiba appears and reveals that she has in fact been in love with Tokita this whole time and has simply been repressing these emotions. She comes to terms with her own repressed desires, reconciles herself with that part of her that is Paprika. Paprika returns to Tokita, throwing herself into his body. A baby emerges from the robotic shell and sucks in the wind, aging as she sucks up the Chairman himself, becoming a fully-grown combination of Chiba and Paprika. In this new form, she is able to consume the Chairman's dream form and end the nightmare he created. In the final scene, Chiba sits at Tokita's bedside as he wakes up. Konakawa and Shima leave the two as Chiba puts her hand in Tokita's. As Konakawa and Shima walk down the street, Shima asks if Konakawa ever figured out the meaning to all this. Konakawa, turning to his reflection and seeing the figure of his film friend, realizes that he in fact became the character from their original film: the cop. Konakawa visits Paprika's website and receives a message from Paprika: "Atsuko will change her surname to Tokita... and I suggest watching the movie Dreaming Kids." The film ends as Konakawa purchases a ticket for the movie.
Art - Cat Soup (ねこぢる草 Nekojiru-So)
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