French TV

By Dallas Embry

I decided to go out a rockin' Thursday evening and thus found myself at Uncle Pleasant's on March 12 just as French TV completed their sound check and began to play.

Michael Sany has formed and reformed this band so many times that I get dizzy just thinking about it. He has always been really good at putting together a group of some really fine musicians and has tried to use virtually every instrument in many varied combinations. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it worked for awhile, and sometimes it didn't work worth diddly.

The latest incarnation of French TV consists of Sary on electric bass, Tony Hall, electric guitar, Bill Fowler, keyboards and Jeff Mullen on drums. They cook!

Their set began with "Red," by King Crimson and I had the thought that they are traditionalists when dealing with the authenticity of playing cover tunes the way they were – and with most of the songs they play, this is an admirable feat.

The second song was the highly eclectic "The Dead Dog Leapt Up and Flew Around the Room," penned by Sary and played to a fare-thee-well by the group. The atonal piano was almost worthy of Anton Berg: such was the quality. "Dog" was followed by Rush's "Subdivisions," but unfortunately, Hall's vocal was buried under the instrumentals.

UK's "Rendezvous 602" was capably done, then was followed by "Heart of the Sunrise," a Yes song which featured some fine piano work, especially considering that Fowler had just had sixteen stitches removed from his index finger that day.

Hall got his chance to show some flash as they whipped into another Sary original (in case you cant' tell by the length of the title) "Real Executives Jump From the 50th Floor." Actually, there were several flashes – of John McLaughlin, Roy Buchanan, Eddie Van Halen, Eric Clapton and even fleeting touches of Miles Davis (yes, on a guitar) and piano that brought to mind Liberace. All in all, a totally rockin', jazzy bluesy eclectric jam that provided all the guys in the band the opportunity to sine a little, and they all did.

Sary was bouncing, strumming, plucking and just generally getting down on bass, as was Mullen on drums, while the keyboards maintained the eclectric feel of the piece with Hammond B-3, harpsichord, mellotron and electric piano following each other in rapid succession until the crashing end.

In an alpha and omega set, the TV ended with another King Crimson tune "Starless" with kicka** warbling guitar to end a mighty fine set.