French TV

French TV

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French TV's first LP was released in 1984 and reissued on CD in late 2000. This album is for the seasoned fan and the collector. In no way can it rival the band's subsequent releases, especially The Violence of Amateurs. Mike Sary's band was still young and unexperienced in the studio. Stephen Roberts' synthesizer patches have badly aged and are often mixed too loud (as on "Spill"). Yet, French TV has its rewarding moments. The eight-minute free improvisation on the eighth track (titled "Earth, I Wait," but information in the booklet identifies "No Charge" as the improv, so the song titles must have been inverted) provides a rare example of the band's propensity for freeform. Back in 1984, the band's music was standing somewhere between Brand X and Samla Mammas Manna -- fusion meets Rock in Opposition. There is no trace of the maniacal cut-and-paste writing found on later albums (especially The Violence of Amateurs). Songs are simpler in terms of structure. Highlights include "Happy Armies Fight in Their Sleep" and "Under Heaven There Is Great Disorder (And the Situation Is Excellent)," the latter being the best-written track of the set and a foreteller of things to come. The album ends with Sary's "The Visit," a Pierre Moerlen's Gong-like fusion jam. Reactions to this first album were lukewarm at best, and one clearly understands why: It was only half-baked (and quarter-produced!). Fans of French TV will find it an interesting curiosity, but will quickly go back to subsequent albums.

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