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FRENCH TV

RIO/Avant-Prog • United States


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French TV biography
This fun band comes from Louisville (Kentucky) and has existed since 1983. Led by the leadership of bassist Mike Sary, FRENCH TV has released 7 albums of music for musicians, deftly nodding to prog-masters like NATIONAL HEALTH, SOFT MACHINE, ZAPPA, BRUDFORD, BRAND X, HAPPY THE MAN, and SAMLA MAMMAS MANNA, among others. To describe French TV's music is simple and complicated ... All the band's other issues contain moving moments; a hybrid of Canterbury, RIO, Fusion, and Insanity, not to mention random little snippets of other styles.

"The Violence of Amateurs" is one of the best jazz-rock album of the last ten years. This is somtething that should easily appeal to fans of Canterbury, Fusion or even the more minded symph fan. On the whole, the music on "The Case Against Art" represents a very innovative manifestation of Classic Symphonic Progressive with the elements of Jazz-Fusion and Prog-Metal.

French TV official website

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Buy FRENCH TV Music


This Is What We DoThis Is What We Do
Pretentious Dinosaur Records
Audio CD$14.99
$3.64 (used)
Virtue In FutilityVirtue In Futility
Pretentious Dinosaur Records
Audio CD$22.31
$8.75 (used)
The Case Against ArtThe Case Against Art
Pretentious Dinosaur Records
Audio CD$22.31
$15.00 (used)
I Forgive You For All My UnhappinessI Forgive You For All My Unhappiness
Pretentious Dinosaur Records
Audio CD$27.27
$12.01 (used)
after a lengthy silence LPafter a lengthy silence LP
Y
Vinyl$17.49
French TVFrench TV
Pretentious Dinosaur Records
Audio CD$19.99
$94.24 (used)
Intestinal FortitudeIntestinal Fortitude
Pretentious Dinosaur Records
Audio CD$18.99
$19.99 (used)
Live - Yoo-Hoo !!!Live - Yoo-Hoo !!!
Pretentious Dinosaur Records
Audio CD$22.31
$9.69 (used)
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FRENCH TV AFTER LENGTHY SILENCE LP USD $7.99 [0 bids]
USD $11.99 Buy It Now
10h 19m
FRENCH TV After A Lengthy Silence PRO 287 Sealed Original Vinyl LP USD $14.00 Buy It Now 4 days
French TV - 5 cd After a Lengthy Silence Yoo-Hoo Virtue in Futility Mike Sary USD $69.90 Buy It Now 5 days
FRENCH TV Pardon Our French! (CD) New, No reserve! USD $17.50 Buy It Now 6 days
CHARLES AZNAVOUR GARVARENTZ LA LUMIERE DES JUSTES 80S FRENCH TV SERIES LP SEALED USD $21.55 Buy It Now 6 days
AU JARDIN DE PIERROT LP Quebec French TV Show Kids Children Album Canada PANTIN USD $18.99 Buy It Now 9 days
PASSE PARTOUT Volume 4 LP Quebec Children's French TV Show 1982 VG+/VG USD $15.95 Buy It Now 11 days
Various - Bop & Roll Party (French TV 1982) (2-CD) - Revival Rock & Roll/Rock... USD $23.39 Buy It Now 12 days
Various - Bop & Roll Party (French TV 1982) (2-CD) - Revival Rock & Roll/Rock... USD $24.25 Buy It Now 13 days
Gong: French TV 1971-73 5060230860732, DVD REGION 2, BRAND NEW FREE P USD $25.22 Buy It Now 13 days
French TV Themes,SEALED CD,Les Enfants De La Tele: Les Meilleurs Generiques De L USD $9.99 Buy It Now 13 days
GONG - CONTINENTAL CIRCUS 71 MOVIE S/T + FRENCH TV DAEVID ALLEN GILLI SMYTH CD USD $21.95 Buy It Now 16 days
LES SATELLIPOPETTES S'Amusent LP 1984 Quebec French TV Show Music Rare VG+/NM USD $19.95 Buy It Now 17 days
V A : Class Themes French Tv Comm 1 CD USD $12.48 Buy It Now 20 days
CHARLES AZNAVOUR GARVARENTZ LA LUMIERE DES JUSTES FRENCH TV FILM LP SEALED USD $24.99 Buy It Now 21 days
L'AMOUR EN HERITAGE SEALED LP - French TV Soundtrack USD $30.00 Buy It Now 23 days
ALBATOR "CORSAIRE DE L'ESPACE" FRENCH TV SOUNDTRACK 1979 7' USD $11.24 Buy It Now 28 days
FRANCOIS DE ROUBAIX Teva top rare French TV OST 7"?? More great 45s in my shop ! USD $93.82 Buy It Now 29 days
Pink Floyd ?- Psychedelic Adventures Vinyl LP Live Paradiso Amsterdam/French TV USD $488.16 Buy It Now 29 days


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FRENCH TV shows & tickets


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FRENCH TV discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

FRENCH TV top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.56 | 20 ratings
French TV
1984
3.92 | 17 ratings
After A Lengthly Silence
1987
3.85 | 20 ratings
Virtue In Futility
1994
3.33 | 18 ratings
Intestinal Fortitude
1995
4.22 | 59 ratings
The Violence Of Amateurs
1999
3.25 | 22 ratings
The Case Against Art
2002
4.00 | 21 ratings
Pardon Our French
2004
4.08 | 27 ratings
This Is What We Do
2006
3.93 | 21 ratings
I Forgive You For All My Unhappiness
2010

FRENCH TV Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.75 | 7 ratings
You-Hoo!!! French TV Live
1997

FRENCH TV Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

FRENCH TV Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

FRENCH TV Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

FRENCH TV Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 French TV by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.56 | 20 ratings

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French TV
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

4 stars My recent love affair with "The Violence Of Amateurs" has inspired me to check out more FRENCH TV so I went straight to their website and ordered a bunch of their discography and am listening to them chronologically to see how they evolved their eclectic sounds over the decades. This eponymous debut album came out way back in 1984. It's obviously from listening to this album that they were in prog heaven when not only anyone else out there sounded like this but the prog bands of the 70s were going top 40 or at the very least were making progressive pop. Sure Marillion was reviving progressive music in the form of neo-prog but nobody I know of was doing avant-prog like FRENCH TV.

This debut album isn't nearly as sophisticated and developed as their later material but even at this early stage they have a basic groove going on that clearly sounds like FRENCH TV. There is that military march type sound that they use as well as a jazzy funk bass sound and lots of odd time signatures and plenty of time dedicated to letting a groove breathe. A lot of this album has already developed a template of what gives FRENCH TV their musical scaffolding but what really sets this album apart from later works is how experimental some of the tracks are. They gleefully play around with polyrhythms setting one instrument against the other and creating some seriously demented sounding music as a result. On this first release there is as much influence from Captain Beefheart as there is from Van De Graaf Generator or Zappa. There is also truly spaced out parts that remind of Gong, Pink Floyd or even Hawkwind.

Instrumentally this is a simpler affair with only guitars, bass, piano, trumpet, vibes, drums, sax and cello! All those extras wouldn't be for a while. I am quite pleasantly surprised that I like this as much as I do. You never know what to expect when you dive into an artist's discography after only hearing one killer album that came out 15 years later. In this case I find this a worthy listen indeed and am sallying forth on the FRENCH TV highway to explore the road that began at the time when A Flock Of Seagulls, Culture Club and Van Halen ruled the world! 3.5 stars rounded up.

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 The Violence Of Amateurs by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.22 | 59 ratings

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The Violence Of Amateurs
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by siLLy puPPy
Prog Reviewer

5 stars So you want some totally wacked out RIO / Avant prog that will take you on a sonic journey to every nook and cranny of the prog world and beyond yet remaining at the core accessible to even the uninitiated first time listener? Well accessible in prog terms that is! This is avant prog after all but if you desire to take the plunge into the depths of the oceans of sound where basically only the imaginations of the artists are the limiting factor then this may be a great starting point for hungry adventurous music lovers. However even if you are into the wildest of the wild and the most extreme music there is to be had then this will surely satisfy. All you have to do is sit down and turn on your FRENCH TV.

Upon first listen you would swear that that band is indeed from France or Sweden or some other European destination that has achieved a well-versed repertoire of everything classic prog but to assume such would be totally mistaken because this band comes from the unexpected city of Louisville, KY of all places. The band formed in 1983 and has been around for over 30 years now and still remains surprisingly obscure outside of the small world where us freaks hang out. This album is officially titled FRENCH TV 6 ? The Violence Of Amateurs, meaning it's their sixth release but only their fifth studio album.

The overall sound is a mix of a National Health kind of Canterbury sound with all kinds of light airy flutes and winds, the zaniness of Samla Mamma's Manna and Zappa with their comedic approach to their delivery, Happy The Man with their complex time signatures and breaks, jazz-fusion with wild and disturbing sax solos and a sprinkling of a gazillion others. It's pretty much an instrumental affair with only a few vocal utterings dispersed throughout.

I have to say that I love this wild, unpredictable, original and totally out there progressive music. It flows very nicely so it's fairly easy to follow even though it is so diverse, so eclectic, so zany, so catchy, so complex, so weird. I'm hooked. It wouldn't be unfounded to compare them with Mr Bungle either since they incorporate many styles of prog and other farreaching genres ranging from surf and big band to bluegrass and Krautrock. The main difference is that while Bungle tends to offer brief interludes into a certain sound, FRENCH TV has more of a jam approach and is not afraid to let the music develop for a while and then offer subtle variations. The music is very playful and never feels like it's taking itself too seriously. It just sounds like a bunch of guys who absolutely love music and doing what they do best.

The album begins with "The Kokonino Stomp" which has a kind of alternative big band swing intro and soon takes you somewhere else completely. This track even finds a way to incorporate the Hawaiian nose flute. Hopefully no boogers were hurt during recording.

"The Secret Life Of Walter Riddle" begins with a marching band kind of feel with whistling sound but soon turns into a rocker with a smoking guitar solo becoming a synth dominated jam before morphing into an avant-jazz number with a tripped out sax solo.

"The Odessa Steps Sequence" is a cover from one of the few US Canterbury acts Volare, off their "Memoirs" album. This tracks starts out nice and melodic and pastoral but becomes more aggressive and avant-garde. Comparisons to The Muffins have been made.

"Mail Order Quarks" starts out like a nice melodic breezy jazz-fusion piece with beautiful flutes carrying out its run of this song throughout its entirety making this one the most normal or least bizarre tracks on the album keeping the same pace and feel with a few surprises.

"Tiger Tea" takes us on another journey. This time it sounds like a fusion of South African jazz (of the Thelani Ajb sort) mixed with a Canterbury sound replete with odd time signatures and breaks with all kinds of interludes gradually ramping up to faster and more complex runs.

The grand finale "Joosan Lost / The Fate" which is at 21:40 is the longest track is a cover of a Zamla Mammaz Manna track off of their 1978 Schlagerns Mystik album. I'm not one who usually likes covers of complex pieces of this sort because they usually come off as inferior versions trying to replicate an identical sound and performance. In this case FRENCH TV pulls it off with ease doing the original justice while making it their own and even adding a Krautrock freakout towards the end. The result is a success and is the perfect wrapping up of an excellent album that after getting my greasy little mitts on I have been playing non-stop (this album has been out-of-print for a while). This is my first full FRENCH TV album and it has definitely whetted my appetite for MORE! MORE! MORE!

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 The Violence Of Amateurs by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.22 | 59 ratings

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The Violence Of Amateurs
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by VOTOMS

5 stars Epileptic Prog - This is my favorite kind of music! So many tempo changes and ridiculous variations, random satiric ideas and well elaborated technical passages. All this without losing sense. Intelligent and abstract.

How could I resist? I fell in love with this album right from the first track, The Kokonino Stomp. Looking at this hellish cover art and listening to the saxophone riff I felt my neck huge as a tower, dancing like a snake and spinning round and round. Do you wanna sniff some RIO? So this is the definitive album for you! Lenghty stupid tracks, complex songwriting, weird noises, annoying childish riffs (just check The Secret Life Of Walter Riddle), totally avant-garde... everything you ever needed. Tiger Tea always makes me laugh with that "beach" feeling. Like Frank Zappa, these guys have the skills to make comedy music. You will probably notice the track titles, they are funny too. From the line-up, Mike Sary, the bass player, is the highlight. He is the mind behinds French TV. Hmm, the album features a great cover from Zammla Mammas Manna.

One of my all time favorites. If I had to force you reader to listen to an album, it would be The Violence of Amateurs.

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 The Violence Of Amateurs by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.22 | 59 ratings

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The Violence Of Amateurs
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Memo_anathemo

4 stars French TV is an amazing Avant garde band, which has an impressive way of playing. The violence of amateurs starts with an incredible art craft of instrumentation with the song The Kokonino Stomp. Then, we have a really funny track kind of soldier march that has an explosion of music as well. After that song we have a complete change in direction, something that sounds more like symphonic prog in the song The Odessa Step Sequence. The rest of the songs have this combination of avant and symphonic. Something really recommendable, really crazy, high standard music, that's French TV. Enjoy it!

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 French TV by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1984
3.56 | 20 ratings

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French TV
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

3 stars Formed in 1983 in Louisville, Kentucky, French TV started as a trio with Mike Sary on bass, Stephen Roberts on keys and sax player Jeff Jones.When Jones left for Boston to study electronics, the reamaining duo started looking for new musicians.After many auditions they were joined by 17-years old drummer Fenner Castner, who brought in his friend Artie Bratton on guitars.French TV entered the Sound-on-Sound Studios in Crestwood in August 83' and finished their eponymous debut in March 84'.Following a limited interest by the music labels, the album was released privately by the group and features original member Jeff Jones on the track '' Under Heaven there is great disorder''.

Very easy to understand why French TV's music was totally ignored by the music industry, being a commercially devastating blend of R.I.O., Fusion and Canterbury-styled jazzy Prog with many blistering moments and unusual comlex parts, hiding influences from NATIONAL HEALTH, VAN DER GRAAF GENERATOR, FRANK ZAPPA and even CAPTAIN BEEFHEART and sounding close to compatriots HOWEVER.The music has a very jazzy nature, without being actually close to Jazz-Rock, and the US quartet shows a great ability on shifting between frenetic instrumental themes to more melodic textures in an album that is executed with coherence from the start to the very end.Obscure keyboard offerings, notable electric and acoustic guitar melodies and shivering, deep bass explosions combine in a tight Fusion style with some incredible ideas, which suffer a bit from a buried production, but overall they sound tasteful and well-crafted.The performances are dense and rich with excellent interplays and breaks into more dreamy soundscapes, resulting a nice balance between complex structures and elaborate passages.

Fortunately the album has been reissued by Mike Sary's Pretentious Dinosaur label in a decent remastered version.Lovely and intricate Progressive Rock all the way for all lovers of instrumental mannerisms.Strongly recommended...3.5 stars.

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 After A Lengthly Silence  by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1987
3.92 | 17 ratings

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After A Lengthly Silence
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by goosegg

4 stars I have heard, and was impressed, by an occaisonal French TV song on internet radio and was lucky enough to obtain a copy of "After A Lengthy Silence" on vinyl and gave it a spin. Varied styles are evident, from hints of Canterbury, Happy the Man, Frank Zappa, and Brand X. Saxophonist, Clancy Dixon, has a style that reminds me of early Gong works. Bill Bruford comes to mind on several tracks as well.

"After A Lengthy Silence" contains compositions that are complex and well calculated with time changes that provide the listener with ever changing moods. This release is highly recommended for fans of Canterbury, jazz fusion and listeners who appreciate a unique blend of many different progressive genres.

Goosegg, East Los Angeles, CA

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 I Forgive You For All My Unhappiness by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 2010
3.93 | 21 ratings

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I Forgive You For All My Unhappiness
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Calling on the collective conscience of the worldwide prog community - it's high time we paid attention to the great music that has been and continues to be written and recorded in the avant areas of the USA!! In this particular occasion I am referring to the latest release by French TV, the combo led and maintained by bassist Mike Sary. For this 2010 offering "I Forgive You For All My Unhappiness", Sary has teamed up with drummer Jeff Gard and keyboardist/saxophonist Steve Katsikas, plus collaborations from others (especially guitarist Shawn Persinger, who also happens to be his colleague in The Distinguished Panel Of Experts). "I Forgive You For All My Happiness" is a catalogue of real reinvigorating musical experiences ruled by the laws of surprise and challenge - something that is so typically FTV. The opener starts with a sarcastic 1-2-3-4, which serves the listener with an agile, warmth main body, in many ways related to National Health and 70s Bruford (you can tell that Master Bill is a big paradigm for Gard's own drumming style). This track also includes some dissonant adventures that seem pretty coincidental with Miriodor and other similar contemporary RIO acts. 'Conversational Paradigms' receives and re-elaborates a big part of the opener's extroverted vibe, developing a bigger dose of melodic extravagance while retaining a similarly warmth mood. You can reasonably suspect at this point that this album is not going to be as dark as "This Is What We Do" or as overtly genius as "The Violence Of Amateurs" (FTV's ultimate masterpiece so far, to my ears at least), but it is not mandatory for an experimental progressive album to be dark or magnificent in order to have great quality. FTV still rules big time and can trace musical roads of uneasiness and tension at any given time: 'March Of The Cookie Cutters' is solid proof of that. This is piece # 3 and now the band feels it's time to explore the avant-garde nuances further with an iron will and coherent finesse. The bold series of dissonant developments and twisted dynamics is totally Zappaesque. Near the end, a slow passage develops a mysterious aura that is somewhat close to Francophone RIO (Univers Zero, so to speak), really creepy, but right before the moment of deadly implosion, things dramatically shift toward vivacious colors of funny artsy extroversion. 'You Got To Run It Out, Dawson!' starts with another sarcastic 1-2-3-4: more room for sonic surprises, no surprises here. This track's particular feature is the presence of hard rocking nuances in the guitar parts and the rhythm duo's dynamics; there are also some trends inspired by However and Happy The Man (two bands that I have always felt as crucial references for FTV's sound). 'With Grim Determination, Terrell Dons the Bow Tie' is the calmest and least ornamented piece in the album, but never getting at a condescending level. It includes a beautiful synth solo starting around the 1 ½ minute mark (Jan Hammer-style, perhaps). For the last 90 seconds, the track shifts toward grayish atmospheres that outline a chamber-rock element in a powerful, yet delicate fashion: the resulting density serves then as a psychedelic catharsis built with total finesse. That is where the playful 'Mosquito Massacre' settles in for the album's closure; witty, agile and capricious, it almost sounds as the soundtrack to a climatic scene in a surrealistic satiric movie. Even the rough guitar parts and spacey synth ornaments bring themselves fluidly into the overall mood, while the drummer works successfully at gluing the whole sounds together within a proper framework. "I Forgive You For All My Unhappiness", in a general balance, means the reaffirmation of French TV as a relevant voice of contemporary USA's progressive rock. It's high time the worldwide prog community paid due attention to them - haven't I said this before?

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 The Case Against Art by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 2002
3.25 | 22 ratings

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The Case Against Art
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

2 stars For a bit of time, I thought that French TV was one of the coolest underground bands I had discovered. They play a complex breed of music stemming from the depths of Cantebury, jazz fusion, RIO and other what-have-nots, throw in a bit of nonsense humour to ''ground themselves'' and sport some of the most hilarious liner notes this side of Frank Zappa. Naturally, I wanted to keep getting more works from them, but this album made me hit ''that thing on the wall'' a lot faster than I had anticipated.

While THE VIOLENCE OF AMATEURS is a great album in its own right, two songs in ''Tiger Tea'' and ''Mail Ordered Quarks'' weren't exactly my thing; way too serious and deviod of a memorable moment. It seems as if THE CASE AGAINST ART is trying to channel those two pieces alone and milk them out over an entire album. To put it bluntly, I was the least bit amused. What happened to the funny stuff like ''The Kokonimo Stomp''?

Beats me, although I'm sure plenty of people would enjoy having a few words with me. The only speck of funny I could find was the carnival atmosphere of that big ''W'' song at the end, but it didn't last long enough and didn't come early enough in the album for me to really care. I will admit that ''That Thing on the Wall'' is the most standout (I hesitate to say best) track here, but that's probably a byproduct of coming first and the rest of the album swimming in a sea of blah.

Any serious music fan looking for some unknown thing might be interested in this album. If you want pep, loudness, humour or excitement, then look elsewhere across a good chunk of the prog spectrum. It has music kudos, but it seems to lack focus and direction. Then again, I realize that most progsters might enjoy this album if heard, and I'm probably in a countable minority.

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 The Violence Of Amateurs by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.22 | 59 ratings

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The Violence Of Amateurs
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by JLocke
Prog Reviewer

4 stars I'm not the biggest fan of the term 'thinking man's music', because that sort of implies that anybody who doesn't listen to said music is not intelligent. That's certainly not true, and while I myself needed time initially for my musical tastes to broaden and vary over time, I still understand why Avant-Garde music can be disliked by many, many people, even members of this very site. Yes, despite our willingness to dive into the experimental world of Prog Rock, many of us proggers still find ourselves stumped when it comes to certain sub-genres. So what exactly should we do when faced with a style of music that doesn't speak to us? Well, we can either leave it alone for good and possibly miss out on some wonderful musical moments, or we can scout the perimeter of the said genre and search for a way in. I think if you're still curious about RIO/Avant-Prog, French TV is a very good band that could serve as your 'entry point'.

The reason I say this is because French TV's music, while still very intelligent and uncompromising in abstract complexity, there is an undertone of accessibility that should appeal to more traditional Prog fans, even those not initiated into this particular area of the genre. There are hints of smooth Jazz, Hard Rock, Bluegrass and Classical, and yet it never becomes 'too much to handle'. Every moment on this record feels like it is supposed to be there. It fits. Never did I feel like these guys were just tacking on a bunch of pointless complexity to simply show off. It truly seems that the compositions (as off-the-wall and non-traditional as they may be) were all written to serve the music, and not themselves. Whenever an artist does that, it's always worth applauding. Especially with a band as capable as this, it would be very easy to allow ego to run rampant and play super-fast and super- complex all the time, but then of course the music itself would suffer from too much content and not enough 'room to breathe'. French TV never once falls into this trap, and they pull off their impressive, intelligent music with incredible grace and reservation.

So what exactly IS French TV all about musically? Sure, I've described my impressions and personal opinions based on what I heard, but I have yet to get specific. So I thought I would go song-by-song this time and give a brief overview of each, so that you the potential buyer can feel confident in your purchase, knowing what to expect. The album's tracks grow increasingly longer over the course of the record, and the music becomes more and more experimental and interesting. Please take a moment to read below and see if the info provided is enough for you to give this band and album a shot.

''The Kokonimo Stomp'' starts out with what sounds like a mixture of saxophone and flute providing the initial rhythm. Melody doesn't play too much of a role in the begging, and even when electric guitar and keyboards become prominent, it isn't until about a minute-and-a-half into the track that we begin to hear something that resembles a more familiar concept of a melody. It is led by the saxophones, with clean, energetic rhythm guitar back-up. A little after two minutes in, organ plays a more significant role. This is my favorite part of the song. Then things pick up the pace even more with a complex, interesting banjo lead! After that, things die down and become more atmospheric and psychedelic briefly before the next rush of exciting instrumentation blasts in. Some funny, wordless vocals come in near the song's end, and by this point you should have a good idea of what you're in for. This track in particular is just so much fun to listen to, and it was a great choice for an album opener.

''The Secret Life Of Walter Riddle'' Starts off with a march and whistle that sounds straight out of the armed forces, with the drums and flutes playing in that familiar, stomping fashion. But before long, things dart into a different direction entirely, and the song truly begins. Cool mixture of styles, here. Distorted lead guitar, occasional input from the sax, digital layering, and almost Metal- like composition overall. The song continues to head in unpredictable directions while holding on to the hard rock leanings nearly the whole time. It's a brilliant track. I don't want to give it all away, but suffice it to say, later on in the track is when the similarities to other more well-known Avant-Garde groups first appear on this album.

''The Odessa Steps Sequence'' is apparently a cover song by a band called Volare. Brian Donohue, who drums on this track as well as a couple of others, was a regular member of said band, it seems, and they decided to recognize the band through this track. Although I have not heard any material from Volare, they are/were damn good if this song is any indication. Since it was written by a different line-up of sorts, the attitude and direction of this song is a bit different from the other songs on this release. It's ironically one of my favorite songs from The Violence Of Amateurs. The first half of the song is just gorgeous beyond belief, while the second half is more aggressive and avant-garde in its delivery. Very exciting, and always changing. A must-listen. Lucky, as of this writing, that very track is made available as a sample on the band's page here at PA.

''Mail Order Quarks'' is another favorite of mine. A bit more laid back to begin with than previous French TV originals on this album, the song features flute very prominently during its first half, and the smooth Jazz influence is very heavy here. Just a lot of light, lovely music. The second half of the song takes on a more Middle-Eastern type of vibe, and the flute is once again fairly prominent, but rather than being the soothing, caressing piece of the puzzle that it was then, it now sounds like it belongs to a snake charmer, urging his pets out of their holes with frantic ferocity. Around 7:45, things come back around again, and the Jazzy, uplifting side of the music now dominates the song's outro. This is one roller-coaster ride of a song, and may possibly be the album's highest point. Just brilliant.

''Tiger Tea'', a more playful opening sets the stage, at times the keyboards and guitars sounding like they came out of a Yes song. Once the saxophone comes in for some major playing, though, you realize this is still French TV. One of the more wild tracks on the album, this song might be the most unaccessible original track the album has to offer. However, those of us who already love Avant-Garde Prog music should feel right at home. It's the second-to-longest track, so long attention spans are required to get the full enjoyment out of it, but even then this song may very well be my least favorite, simply because it just doesn't speak to me as personally or immediately as the other original tracks did. However, you should know that this is still a very fantastic track, and just because I like it the least, that doesn't mean that I don't like it. I do. It's just not as good as the others, in my view. Still quite interesting and worth hearing, though.

''Joosan Lost/The Fate'' is the second and final cover song on The Violence Of Amateurs. It is taken from the group Samla Mammas Manna (from their 'Zamla' era), and it a lot of fun to listen to. I have to be honest, here - as of right now, I am still not familiar enough with Samla Mammas Manna's work to say how accurate of a cover this is, or even which version may be better than the other. I can say, however, that the presentation of the song is still very much in French TV style, and it doesn't feel disjointed or 'tacked-on' to the rest of the material at all. Right at home, this track is, and it's very, very well-played. A good song, the longest song, and the last song of the record. Part of me does wish that these guys had ended the album with an original piece, and not just a cover of pre-existing material, but that's a minor issue, and not worth worrying about. It's still a fantastic album overall.

The Violence Of Amateurs was my first French TV experience, and it blew me away. So as much as I hate to say this, I would indeed classify this as 'think man's music'. That's not to alienate anybody out there in Prog land who wouldn't like this, but i do think the music found on this release is very intelligent and above-par. So far beyond most of the other stuff heard in the more well-known Prog sub-grenes, and really, that describes the entire RIO/Avant-Prog sub-genre to me - it's one of the few styles of music that is TRULY progressing all the time, and if this album is any indication, this type of forward-thinking isn't going to run out of steam anytime soon.

This album should be able to appeal to even those more unfamiliar with Avant-Prog, but it still doesn't hold anything back, and delivers big for those of us who are on the lookout for more interesting, otherworldly music. French TV's appeal reaches beyond many of their peers, and crosses over into enough varied territory to bring in fans from all over. Now it's just a matter of raising the awareness for these guys. It's a shame that so few people here seem to even know that this band exists, and even fewer people are bothering to review their works. Let's change that. Go and order yourself a copy of The Violence Of Amateurs, and weigh in your opinion as well.

Happy listening.

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 The Violence Of Amateurs by FRENCH TV album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.22 | 59 ratings

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The Violence Of Amateurs
French TV RIO/Avant-Prog

Review by Sinusoid
Prog Reviewer

4 stars What's French TV? How about a crazy, RIO-influenced, Cantebury sounding, fusiony pyrotechnical freakout band from the middle of Kentucky?

Seriously, with a name like theirs and as obscure and as overlooked as they are (even on PA), I absolutely had to get in on the fun. Right away, the group fires on all cylinders as ''The Kokonimo Stomp'' goes through a plethora of jazz riffs (with a little bluegrass thrown in for whatsits sake) without sounding awkward or forced. The band clearly knows how to have loads of fun, and the first two tracks show it with the second having surf rock as its main base.

Starting with ''The Odessa Steps Sequence'', the group veers into a more serious musical direction with the unique keyboard sound (I don't know what in tarnation it is) stealing the show. The very long ''Joosan Lost/The Fate'' actually goes through only a few themes in its 21+ minute span, but really keeps the interest there as it sounds like epic James Bond movie music.

''Tiger Tea'' and ''Mail Ordered Quarks'' are where I start to have problems with the album as the serious-ness of the music becomes too overbearing; both songs are boring fusion ramblings devoid of a memorable moment. But, this album is the carnival freak show of the prog rock world, and it's worth hearing just for the novelty of it. Even if you don't like the music, the liner notes will make you laugh until you wet your pants.

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