The Tomorrow Show:
Tom Snyder's Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show
First Appeared in The Music Box, October 2006, Volume 13, #10
Written by John Metzger
Tom Snyder’s Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show is the second installment in a series of thematically compiled episodes of The Tomorrow Show. Unlike its predecessor Punk & New Wave (as well as the assorted offerings of The Dick Cavett Show and The Ed Sullivan Show), however, the single-DVD set favors excerpted segments over complete programs, but what it loses in historical and cultural context, it gains in topical emphasis. Its title, of course, alludes to The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe’s chronicle of Ken Kesey’s exploits with The Merry Pranksters, and fittingly, a pair of interviews with Wolfe form the compilation’s centerpiece. Although he never directly addresses the ’60s, Wolfe provides an insightful discussion about the ever-changing social and moral climates in America, his collection of drawings titled In Our Time, and his epic tale of American heroism The Right Stuff. Also contained on Tom Snyder’s Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show is a delightfully bizarre, though far too short, dialogue with Dr. Timothy Leary that occurred just prior to his tour of college campuses with former adversary G. Gordon Liddy.
Nevertheless, the biggest selling point of Tom Snyder’s Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show arguably is the 35-minute segment that featured the Grateful Dead. During the program, which originally aired on May 7, 1981, Snyder talked at length with Kesey along with founding band members Jerry Garcia, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann regarding, among other things, the roots of the psychedelic experience as well as the unique atmosphere that gave birth to the ensemble. In addition, the Grateful Dead also performed a quartet of songs: On the Road Again, Dire Wolf, Deep Elem Blues, and Cassidy. The first two tracks, though a little rough around the edges, were solidly delivered, but as the group slipped into Deep Elem Blues, it fell completely into synch. The loose, swinging rhythms and stratospheric flights of fancy that spurred its concerts continued to shine during the economically potent rendition of Cassidy that concluded the broadcast. Granted, there’s little on Tom Snyder’s Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show that is of interest to anyone beyond the Grateful Dead’s most avid fans, but for them, the set provides a rare glimpse at the outfit performing acoustic interpretations of its material.
The Tomorrow Show: Tom Snyder's Electric Kool-Aid Talk Show
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2006 The Music Box