Saturday, March 29, 2014

Frank Sinatra A Man And His Music: The Collection & Primetime

Frank Sinatra A Man And His Music: The Collection & Primetime
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira
_______________________________________________

        Frank Sinatra A Man And His Music: The Collection http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Sinatra-Man-Music-Collection/dp/B004ISVH34 and Frank Sinatra: Primetime http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Sinatra-Primetime/dp/B005PY4ZLQ
        During his lifetime, Frank Sinatra made a series of Television Specials that reflected what was taking place in American History. None were more important, more moving and more powerful than those he did during that defining decade of change, the 1960s.
        As he spanned the changing face of music, from the 1930s to that '60s era, the Sinatra Specials, 'A Man And His Music', which ran every year from 1965 to 1969, are a time capsule of Popular Music.
        1965 - A retrospective of his career, along with his then current re-arrangement of The Kingston Trio's,  'It Was A Very Good Year'; with musical vignettes from his life.
        1966 - With daughter Nancy, just as her career was taking off, and would lead to hits with producer Lee Hazelwood, the title song from the James Bond soundtrack 'You Only Live Twice', and another giant hit with 'Somethin' Stupid'; a duet with her father. As for Dad, during the latter part of this show, he does a smokin' version of 'Luck Be A Lady' from his film 'Guys and Dolls', and then does 'That's Life', his current single; where he gets downright 'cullud'.
        1967 - An incredible show with Ella Fitzgerald and Antonio Carlos Jobim. A must see.
        1968 - Another incredible show (in the wake of Dr. Kings murder) with Diahann Carroll and The Fifth Dimension, who are all in top form. A deeply moving show, as Frank duets on Spirituals with Diahann Carroll, and earlier in the show, sings a beautiful version of 'Baubles, Bangles and Beads', from the Broadway Show, 'Kismet'; as the song takes on extra meaning as Mia Farrow moves out of his life. And still later on, after a wonderful set with The Fifth Dimension, he dons a Nehru Jacket and Beads (I remember that, as I used to wear an orange one myself) to sing an old favourite 'Nice and Easy' with the orchestra.
        1969 - And finally in 1969, the final show of the series, Sinatra still listening and keyed in to what was current; with Teddy Randazzo and Bobby Weinstein's 'Goin' Out Of My Head', Rod McKuen's 'Loves Been Good To Me' and Paul Anka's 'My Way'; as well as a comical review of his acting career. But now we begin to notice a sadness in his eyes.
        We won't see anything like this again, and we're very lucky that these shows have been preserved. Just watch and listen.
        In these present times, with a plethora of News Networks, full of overconfidently and aggresively smug (in the absence of a Draft), sniveling, frightened rabbit drone employees with intentionally short attention spans, who mention 'The Great Depression' in passing as if it were some quaint curiosity, and much older employers, comfortable in their sloth, and who 'know better' than what they are turning out as news. 'Sports Figures', who talk only about 'the game' and 'their endorsements', and 'Entertainers', who operate the same way in 'this business' of across the board self serving Pretend Patriotism, it's quite startling (if you're old enough to remember and cared about what was happening to your country) to view these 'A Man And His Music' Specials; as you see the changes taking place.
        For very good first hand source material on this time period (with an entire chapter on Frank), check out Quincy Jones' autobiography, 'Q'. Published by Doubleday Books. A division of Random House, Inc. New York.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin' - DVD

Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin' - DVD
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira
_______________________________________________

        Let's see.... (sigh), Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin'. http://www.amazon.com/The-Jimi-Hendrix-Experience-Train/dp/B00F031WB8 This is a mixed bag. Some interesting footage, from Miami Pop Festival '68 and Randall's Island '70, snippets of Hendrix jamming with Mick Taylor backstage at the Stones '69 Madison Square Garden concert, as well as joking and hanging out with the other Stones backstage. The Miami Festival with The Experience, and Randalls Island with Billy and Mitch, are both performances where you catch Hendrix at his improvisatory best, interacting with both groups. That said, the time is pretty much wasted with David Fricke and Bob Santelli. Santelli repeating stuff you already know and have heard other people say before, and David Fricke, who needs a history lesson himself. (Y'know Mitch Mitchell mentioned in his book, 'Inside The Experience', that there was interest among the young Black Audience in New York in The Jimi Hendrix Experience when they first visited New York in 1967, that could have been cultivated back then. Mike Jeffrey's handiwork again?) What Dweezil Zappa is doing in this documentary is a mystery to me. Is there no archival footage available of Frank Zappa being interviewed about Hendrix?
        Unfortunately, as circumstances turned out the way they did, for different reasons, three very important people who could have illuminated and lit a fire under this thing, are missing. They are Caesar Glebbeek, Dan Foster, and David Henderson. Caesar Glebbeek was the brilliant brainchild behind the original Hendrix Information Centre in Amsterdam Holland, the model for which, just about all subsequent versions are copies. Glebbeek is someone who should have gotten his due back in the early 1970s. He was assisted at the Hendrix Centre back then, by a highly knowledgeable American named Dan Foster, who as fate would have it, in a well timed visit to America, shared the very informative original version of the Hendrix Information Centre Booklet with Guitar Player Magazine, before their very first Tribute Issue was published; which was the Jimi Hendrix Special Issue in Sept. of 1975. (Guitar Player had 'never' done anything like it before. - For some great photographs by Ron Raffaelli of The Jimi Hendrix Experience {e.g. from the book, ' Electric Church-A Visual Experience'} go to The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org  Type in http://www.mobiusgallery.net  Click Take Me Back/Browse History Then choose 2003)
        Most of the "never before seen" footage "uncovered" by Alan Douglas during the latter 1980s, things like The Experience's promo films, 1967 UK Tour, footage of the 1969 European Tour, the crystal clear black and white footage of the Band Of Gypsys at Fillmore East (all with sound by the way), were screened for me by Dan Foster in 1981. {Of course what we're still waiting for are the Albert Hall concerts, one of which ended with a wild jam with Chris Wood and Dave Mason (of Traffic), and Rocki Dijon/Kwasi Dzidzornu (whose hypnotic drumming nailed 'Sympathy For The Devil' on Beggars Banquet) on percussion. And someone is sitting on the footage of the Experience's Nov. 1968 concert at Lincoln Center at (what was then) Philharmonic Hall, {Hendrix appearance on The Tonight Show (guest hosted by Flip Wilson) here in New York, (shortly after the Experience broke up) with Billy Cox, is lost to history (like John and Paul's appearance announcing Apple 'eh.... apart from the brief interview footage that you can clearly see and hear in Tony Palmer's BBC documentary All My Loving, that is,' and Bob Dylan's appearance in 1966 a few weeks before Blonde On Blonde was released) as the tapes were not saved. As someone who was lucky enough to have been switching channels that night and saw it, it was fascinating to watch. Along with Jimi blowing up a studio amp during Lover Man, and his comical waltz across the stage with Flip Wilson, after which Jimi chased him back across the stage from behind the curtains, the interview segment was interesting to watch; as it was obvious that Flip and Jimi were good friends. Pity that no one ever bothered to interview Flip Wilson on film, about his friendship with Jimi Hendrix.}, Hendrix playing 'If Six Was Nine' using a Magic Bag, on the Dick Cavett Show, which was during Cavett's two weeks of shows following the Woodstock Festival, and Hendrix being interviewed by Ellis Haizlip when he appeared as a guest on Haizlip's program 'Soul' on PBS.} And finally, David Henderson whose book, 'Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child Of The Aquarian Age' (partly researched at the Hendrix Centre), was the first book with a sweeping scope of it's kind (this was the late 1970s, and from going through the Acknowledgements at the beginning of the book, makes it painfully obvious that Henderson through sheer determination and unrelenting hard work, got the bulk of the interviews that mattered). A groundbreaking biography of not only Jimi Hendrix, but '60s history. That none of these people were interviewed is a shame.
        Trixie Sullivan and Jerry Stickells say just what you would expect them to say in this documentary. Nothing.
        It is good to hear the important interviews with the people who were left, Jimi's father Al Hendrix (without whom), Jimi's cousin Bob, Billy Cox, Eddie Kramer, Linda Keith, Fayne Pridgon, Collette Mimram, Paul McCartney (great footage of the Experience playing 'Sgt Pepper' at Epstein's Saville Theatre, with glimpses of Paul and John in the audience), Chris Welch (the Melody Maker music journalist who wrote  the first Jimi Hendrix biography in 1973, and did a wonderful job), Chas Chandler (without whom), Mitch Mitchell, Buddy Miles, Stevie Winwood, Noel Redding etc...
        You really begin to get the spiritual direction of where Hendrix' music was heading (whether some people liked it or not) when you see and hear him perform the versions of 'Message To Love' at Woodstock, and at the Randalls Island New York Pop Festival in Bonus Features. In both versions you can hear his lyrics very clearly. The Randalls Island footage from 1970 by the way, was originally part of a film named (if I remember correctly) 'The Day The Music Died' aka 'Free Or Freedom', which was a poorly distributed documentary about the 1970 New York Pop Festival; that was circulating around the same time as 'Sweet Toronto', the documentary about the 1969 Toronto Peace Festival.
        Bob Smeaton, the Director of Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin', did a wonderful job on The Beatles Anthology. What happened here?
        This is now the wee hours of the morning and I've just woken up. There's something else I feel needs to be added as an Epilogue to this piece.
        Jimi Hendrix seems to me to have been touched by something very deep. There was something that endeared him to women, which is touched on in Hear My Train A Comin'. I think it came from his mother, who he never really got to know that well; similar to John Lennon with his mother. Both were beautiful women who imbued their sons with something special that lasted their whole lives. Without trying to be too cosmic, it's something that caused a Jimi Hendrix to write a Little Wing or a Drifting, and in between, a Message To Love. The snatches of brilliance in improvisatory inspiration in performance like a Star Spangled Banner and a long and beautiful Villanova Junction Blues (both from Woodstock - Villanova, the entire uncut version (which ended the festival) in the VHS or DVD 'Woodstock: The Director's Cut'), the long and absolutely gorgeous improvisation on Land Of The New Rising Sun, from one of Hendrix' concerts in Scandinavia in 1970, that was played for me on a tape by Dan Foster. http://observer1984.blogspot.com/2013/01/ultimate-hendrix-illustrated.html  In John Lennon's case, there are of course his songs which I've covered previously when I remember him on his birthday. When my cousin first played me her brand new copy of the album, 'Are You Experienced' (she had called Jimi Hendrix to my attention earlier in the year in a news dispatch from England that was in Crawdaddy Magazine) in Sept. of 1967, immediately the song that impressed me was 'The Wind Cries Mary'. I was able to recognize there was something special about Jimi Hendrix that was in direct connection with what Wes Montgomery was doing at the time. It was the same type of thing that caused Wes to leave us with beautiful versions (I imagine Wes who was considerably older, looking around him at the Vietnam War raging and all of those young men being drafted to go fight what ended up being a losing war, while another horrible war for basic human Civil Rights was raging at home; as the cities began burning.) of poignantly, 'Down Here On The Ground' and Pete Seeger's, 'Where Have All The Flowers Gone'. All of this ends up being about not wasting time. Look around you and don't waste any time. Time is precious. Peace.   

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back 65 Tour Deluxe Edition

Bob Dylan: Don't Look Back 65 Tour Deluxe Edition
Antonio G. Pereira © 2013 Antonio G. Pereira
_______________________________________________

        This is the mother lode of the mother of them all. D.A. Pennebaker's Cinema Verite film of Bob Dylan's 1965 concert tour of England. Beautifully packaged, containing two DVDs, the first one, a digital transfer of the original film, the second one a wonderfully put together collection of previously unseen and unreleased outtakes from the original documentary. A reproduction of the original 1968 companion book with all of the dialogue from the film, and a wealth of photographs, and finally, a thumb sized Flipbook with frame by frame pictures of the Promo film of Dylan's early Folk Rock hit 'Subterranean Homesick Blues'; that was on his LP, Bringing It All Back Home. This Box Set is put out by Docurama. http://www.docurama.com
Throughout are appearances and cameos by Dylan's Manager Albert Grossman, Joan Baez, British Promoter Tito Burns (who unintentionally has you in hysterics by his deportment and antics), Dylan's Producer Tom Wilson, Road Manager and close friend Bobby Neuwirth, Beatnik Poet and Writer Alan Ginsberg, Donovan, a recently departed from The Animals Alan Price who is already showing signs of the beginnings of a bad drinking problem, along with maybe a guilty conscience concerning how he ended up with all of the Royalty Money for The Animals' arrangement of their biggest hit 'House Of The Rising Sun', British Folk legend Derroll Adams, a strikingly beautiful Nico (after having appeared in Frederico Fellini's influential masterpiece, 'La Dolce Vita' (the term 'Paparazzi' was coined in that film), and who at that point, was gravitating toward the Dylan/Grossman sphere (but subsequently ended up as a Chess Piece in the bizarre world of Andy Warhol and the Velvet Underground) as recounted in Andy Warhol's somewhat twisted autobiography, 'PoPism: The Warhol '60s' by Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett Published by Harper & Row Publishers New York), London Evening Standard journalist Maureen Cleave, who in the beginning of the film has a warm and playful exchange with Dylan while interviewing him, and there are occasional mentions of that elusive Pop Group, The Beatles.
The first DVD is a pristine transfer of the original documentary with great sound. Additionally there are Bonus Features of the Film Trailer for the movie, and an alternate Promo of  'Subterranean Homesick Blues'; as well as outstanding uncut Audio Recordings from the '65 British Tour of: (1) It Ain't Me Babe, (2) It's All Over Now, Baby Blue, (3) Love Minus Zero/No Limit, (4) The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll, (5) To Ramona.
The second DVD is a specially put together collection of previously unseen outtakes from the film. And D.A. Pennebaker has done a magnificent job. There are snatches of Bob Dylan and Joan Baez singing beautifully together on several Traditional Songs. Tom Wilson listening to Dylan composing, 'It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry' on Piano. That version sounding almost like a Gospel Song. {An obvious influence from all the time Dylan was befriended and mentored by Victoria Spivey, during his early days in Greenwich Village as a struggling Folk Artist. Check out Anthony Scaduto's illuminating biography on Bob Dylan for THAT story.} A very clear picture of how essential Bobby Neuwirth was to the team as Road Manager. We catch a glimpse of how deeply moved Dylan is when some teenage female fans accompany him and Bobby Neuwirth to Newcastle Train Station to say goodbye, and run along the platform as the train is pulling out; while Dylan is waving goodbye to them. Among the live in concert (and performed in their entirety) outtakes are, a beautiful 'Don't Think Twice It's Alright', a riveting 'It's Alright Ma, I'm Only Bleeding', a boisterous 'If You Gotta Go, Go Now', a lovely 'To Ramona' and a gorgeous 'She Belongs To Me'. Finally, there is another version of the Promo for 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', filmed on a roof with Tom Wilson (wearing a Fez) and Bobby Neuwirth in the background, both with canes.
It should be mentioned regarding the reproduction of the original companion book to the movie, which is included in this Box Set, that there is a photograph of George Harrison, taken during the latter part of 1968 at Apple Headquarters, reading a copy of the original version of the 'Don't Look Back' companion book, in Derek Taylor's (sort of) autobiography 'As Time Goes By'.
Lastly, the thumb sized Flipbook included in the Box Set (a novel and thoughtful idea), is a lot of fun to use.
And I must mention with delight in closing, that the wonderfully and immensely talented Photographer Don Hunstein, who took so many very well known photographs of Bob Dylan (e.g. from the same session that produced the Promo Film for 'Subterranean Homesick Blues', as well as the album cover photo of Dylan and Suze Rotolo http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2008/aug/16/biography.bobdylan on 'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan'), has a new book out http://www.amazon.com/Keeping-Time-The-Photographs-Hunstein/dp/1608872246 is having a Special Exhibition showing of his photographs through the month of December http://www.bethelwoodscenter.org and has his own website http://www.donhunstein.com

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Graham Nash - Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life

Graham Nash - Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life
Antonio G. Pereira © 2013 Antonio G. Pereira
_______________________________________________

        Graham Nash - Wild Tales: A Rock & Roll Life Published by Crown Archetype/Random House New York http://www.amazon.com/Wild-Tales-Rock-Roll-Life/dp/0385347545
Much as I like Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young (and I consider the first two albums, 'Crosby Stills and Nash' and 'Deja Vu' to be '60s classics {Along with Crosby's, 'If I Could Only Remember My Name', Still's first (and his masterpiece), 'Stephen Stills', Nash's 'Songs For Beginners', and Young's (before he started getting sloppy in the mid-'70s), 'Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere'-with the original Crazy Horse, 'After The Gold Rush', and 'Harvest'}), I'm a little disappointed with this book. On the positive side, Graham Nash's recounting of his early life in the North of England, his family, and especially the career of the Hollies, are very informative, detailed and make compelling reading. However, when we get to CSN (Go to The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org  Type in http://suitelorraine.com/suitelorraine/Pages/trips.html Click Take Me Back Then choose 2004) and in particular CSNY (Go to The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org  Type in http://suitelorraine.com/suitelorraine/Pages/csnyfillmore.html and Click Take Me Back), the story begins to get patchy. By now, having read accounts in Bill Graham's autobiography, 'Bill Graham Presents' (in which CSNY by 1970, are described as a bunch of egomaniacs out of their depth singing off key, perpetually stoned), there appears to be some gaping holes in Nash's memory. Most glaring in this respect, (having read Neil Young's biography 'Shakey'), is the subject of Greg Reeves. (I wonder what type of account Reeves would write if he ever decided to write a memoir?) The best live in concert footage that exists of the original lineup is from 1969, in the film, 'Celebration At Big Sur'. (Go to The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org  Type in http://suitelorraine.com/suitelorraine/Pages/rncsny69.html Click Take Me Back Then choose 2004) It would be  great to see the entire CSNY set, where you hear and see CSNY with Reeves and Dallas Taylor, tearing up the stage. {By the way, you can catch a glimpse of Lillian Roxon, author of the original 'Rock Encyclopedia', being interviewed in this film.} CSNY were always engaging politically (Just like Jimi Hendrix circa 1969/1970 - listen to what Hendrix says between songs, where you hear him say what he's thinking, in the unedited Bootleg versions of The Band Of Gypsys concerts at Fillmore East, and the L.A.Forum 1970, Jim Morrison in quite a few surprisingly candid and observant interviews, The Impressions, Nina Simone, Eric Burdon, Janis Joplin {Sometimes forgotten is that Janis Joplin was a former Teacher, highly intelligent and very well-read. What was happening on American College Campuses in 1970 (e.g. Kent and Jackson State) deeply upset her, and she said so.}, John Lennon (obviously), Sly and The Family Stone, The Jefferson Airplane, Phil Ochs, and the musicians of the emerging Post-Coltrane New Music from the same era, to name a few), and to give Nash his due, he does not mince words in this autobiography; additionally, when he quotes Joni Mitchell on page 180, in a political argument they had during the winter 1969 CSNY/Mitchell European Tour, she sounds quite mealymouthed and puerile {And this coming from someone who has held Ms. Mitchell's songs in such high esteem as to have quoted 'The Circle Game' near the end of his senior evaluation in college. - Y'know in  retrospect I wonder what Mitchell, and others who at the time held her position (and from a completely different perspective and perceptive stance than hers, Elvis Presley and the characters who hung around him), thought when they saw tricky dicky end up resigning and his cohorts doing jail time, and ending up with criminal records; as well as Clyde Tolson (after his partner J. Edgar Hoover croaked) shredding documents (that would have eventually become key evidence in the scale of this monstosity) like nobody's business}. This is a highly readable book, as Graham Nash is a very good writer, and the first half of the book concerning the rise and fall (and rise?) of his relationship with the Hollies is very good reading. He mentions having been invited by Paul McCartney to participate in the Beatles live Worldwide Satellite Broadcast of 'All You Need Is Love' from Abbey Road Studios, but strangely makes no mention of having sung background vocals on Hendrix' wild and very enjoyable psychedelic aural sound painting 'You Got Me Floatin'', off the Experience's second album, Axis Bold As Love. The seeds of CSN (of which Cass Elliot was an integral part), the formation of the trio with the key background participation and help of Ahmet Ertegun at Atlantic Records, and resultant recording of the first album, are related in a painstaking and meticulous manner. However, the CSNY recounting needs more work on Nash's part and much deeper reflection. (Go to The Internet Archive: http://www.archive.org  Type in http://crosbystillsnash.tripod.com/page13.html and Click Take Me Back, Type in http://www.4waysite.com Click Take Me Back Then choose 2005 and click Articles on Homepage, for reviews of 1974 tour etc...) His work outside of music, in the fields of Photography (a lifelong interest that started with his father) and Art (Painting and Sculpting), are of great interest, especially for people who may not know that side of him. There are a nice selection of photographs throughout the book that represent every period of his life, but I think there should have been more. Ah well... Worth a look.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Tomorrow Never Knows: The Beatles Last Concert

Tomorrow Never Knows: The Beatles Last Concert
Antonio G. Pereira © 2013 Antonio G. Pereira
_______________________________________________

        The year 1966 was a pinnacle year for the Beatles. They released a (U.S. only) compilation album, 'Yesterday and Today', with a controversial cover, and an album that became a historical landmark, 'Revolver'; ending the year with a (U.K. only) greatest hits album, 'A Collection of Beatles Oldies: But Goldies'. This was also the last year they performed live in concert, starting with the NME Poll Winners Concert in London, followed by a world tour http://observer1984.blogspot.com/2008/10/eight-days-week-inside-beatles-final.html  ;and ending with their 1966 North American Tour. 1966 would see a slow deterioration set in on Beatles' manager Brian Epstein, due to his increasing dependence on pills and alcohol. For the unedited and quite explosive section from 'Lennon Remembers' referring to Brian Epstein, click on the link below for the essay, 'A Meditation On Hendrix, Lennon and The Counterculture'. In the Alfred G. Aronowitz section of 'A Meditation', you'll find a link to Alfred G. Aronowitz' articles from the Saturday Evening Post, The New York Post etc... referring to The Beatles (collectively and individually), The Ronettes, Murray The K, Bob Dylan, Phil Spector etc... http://observer1984.blogspot.com/2007_10_01_archive.html  In March of 1966, John Lennon would give an interview to a friend and journalist, Maureen Cleave from the London Evening Standard. Besides what eventually exploded (after it was carefully taken out of context by some 'characters' in the U.S.), into the 'Jesus Christ Controversy', it's quite interesting to note that in the last two paragraphs near the end of Maureen Cleave's interview, John Lennon all but predicts what his future will be. http://www.beatlesagain.com/bapology.html  (Check out the archival footage in Part 14 "Mighty Good: The Beatles" {interestingly written by Derek Taylor} in Tony Palmer's ambitious "All You Need Is Love" multi-part documentary series. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1560518/ Having sung about 'The Word' on Rubber Soul, their groundbreaking album of the previous winter of 1965, The Beatles were now releasing their masterwork, 'Revolver'; as the American Tour got under way. And as they played their final concert at Candlestick Park, San Francisco was peaking in the throes of what they had sung about in 'The Word'. What history would remember as the birth of The Counterculture. The opening acts for the 1966 tour were Bobby Hebb (whose song 'Sunny' became a standard and one of the biggest records of the year. http://www.bobbyhebb.com/?q=node/2  He essentially {when it came to drawing power} co-headlined the tour with the Beatles), The Cyrkle (a group managed by Brian Epstein, that had two pretty good records on the charts, 'Red Rubber Ball' and 'Turn Down Day'. An interesting footnote to this is that after the tour with the Beatles was over, the Cyrkle released one more album, 'Neon' and composed a soundtrack for a film, 'The Minx'; after which the band broke up. One of the guitarists in the band, Don Dannemann, became a fairly successful jingle writer for television during the late '60s Pop Art explosion, and composed the first 7Up Uncola song; which if you remember, had snatches of Pop Art (remember 'What's a Kooladny?') and the subtle influence of that late 1800s southwestern Gold Prospector's sounding dirge, 'My Wild Love', that was on The Door's recent (at the time) album, 'Waiting For The Sun'.) The Ronettes (who had a couple of very good records with Phil Spector. Unfortunately Ronnie, their lead singer, was being kept away from the tour by Phil Spector; and her cousin substituted in the group - nobody seemed to notice.) and The Remains (a very professional band who backed both Bobby Hebb and The Ronettes during their sets, as well as doing their own set.)
The Beatles only did a handful of Press Conferences during this tour, which began in Chicago.
There are two Press Conferences done in Chicago. The first one is a complete fiasco. John Lennon continually apologizing for something that was never his original intention. One reporter in particular is obviously intent on fanning the flames by using the term "Godhood on earth" referring to the Beatles. (It's interesting that Paul McCartney mentions the public trying to hold them in a perpetual state of standing still, and not evolving; something he would break out of in 1966/67, by composing the soundtrack for a film, 'The Family Way', and in 1967, by his admission on ITV that he was using L.S.D.) And during this Press Conference, George Harrison completely agreeing with what John's original intention was in his statement about Christianity. http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1966.0811.beatles.html
The second Chicago Press Conference seems to be attended mostly by a more intelligent group of reporters, and the Christianity questions are handled more professionally. It's also interesting that the subject of racism comes up in this second Press Conference. After all, this is Chicago. http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1966.0812.beatles.html
The Press Conference in Toronto Canada stands out as the most open minded so far during the tour. Intelligent questions covering a lot of ground, and interestingly the first one where Paul's moped accident the previous December is mentioned. John, it should be noted (albeit jokingly) already smells trouble in Memphis. http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1966.0817.beatles.html
Memphis Tennessee. To set this up, we have to remember the year. 1966. The old legally segregated South where only white people were allowed to vote, to in turn keep cracker segregationist politicians continually in power, thereby perpetuating racist policies that essentially kept anyone else from living like an American citizen within the United States (the old Catch 22 loophole that had been used by characters like these for decades, under the code words, 'States Rights'), was in the throes of having it's back broken by not only the Civil Rights Movement, but also the American Government. And like it or not, the old South's days were numbered. This was the Memphis that the Beatles flew into in 1966. What's interesting about this interview, is that it's being conducted by the ITV News, a British outfit that flew in from London. So what you're getting is a very British discussion and a European take on the whole situation. You can imagine what kind of Beatles Press Conference would have taken place in Memphis with the local American Press. http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1966.0819.beatles.html
And now New York City, {For the clearest, most accurate, and detailed first hand account of what New York was like BEFORE the explosive and revoloutionary social changes that took place during the '60s era, read Sammy Davis Jr's autobiography, 'Yes I Can. The Story of Sammy Davis Jr.' by Sammy Davis Jr. and Jane and Burt Boyar. Published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux New York} where The Beatles first broke big on the Ed Sullivan Show, and afterwards Carnegie Hall; and in 1965 selling out Shea Stadium in Long Island. This year they are returning to Shea Stadium again. http://www.pbase.com/tg6string/beatles  During this Press Conference the subject of John beginning filming of, 'How I Won The War' after the tour is over is brought up, and so is the Vietnam War; which by now was escalating. The Beatles and Jesus Christ subject is brought up yet again, and as the tour is now nearing it's end, it's obvious from his answer now (particularly as this is post-Memphis) that John is fed up. It becomes very clear that George in the future will become a big advocate for Indian music. I've always wondered why the Beatles never appeared on Ed Sullivan in 1966 before doing Shea Stadium, as they had the year before. Hmmm... http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1966.0822.beatles.html
The book, 'Tomorrow Never Knows: The Beatles Last Concert' by Eric Lefcowitz (who does a pretty good overview of the tour and digs up some very informative archival San Francisco newspaper clippings) with photographs by Jim Marshall {Published by Terra Firma - An Imprint of Retrofuture Products} covers the final concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. (The photographer Jim Marshall, who was incredibly gifted, appeared in Guitar Player's Oct. 1985 Issue, where he gave quite an eye opening interview; and included a portfolio of some of his greatest photographs.)
Jim Marshall in these pictures captures The Beatles backstage talking with Music Journalist Ralph J. Gleason, Folksinger Joan Baez (quite a ravishing beauty, who had traveled with the Beatles on their 1964 tour of America {she discussed this in her interview in the April 14th, 1983 Issue of Rolling Stone} and her gorgeous sister, Musician Mimi Farina (wife of legendary Musician and Songwriter Richard Farina, who had been killed in a motorcycle accident earlier in the year during a book party for his new novel, 'Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me'. And Dylan ironically, had had a motorcycle accident shortly before the Beatles began their concert tour. {It's quite interesting that Mimi Farina mentions in the interview she gave for this book, that Bob Dylan and Joan Baez had had their lives threatened in the South by the Ku Klux Klan during their National Tour together earlier in the decade, when they sang Dylan's song, 'The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll'; which makes you wonder about so-called British 'Dylan Expert' Clinton Heylin's motivations regarding this song, in his Dylan biography, 'Behind the Shades Revisited'.} Mimi Farina years later, would make a breathtakingly beautiful album with Musician Tom Jans named, 'Take Heart'.) who were specially invited guests. You can't help but notice how calm and reflective John looks in these pictures. As if he knows this is the ending of one phase of his life, leading into a new one; and a great burden had been lifted off his shoulders. You wonder if John was a fan and admirer of Richard and Mimi Farina's music, from the way he is gazing at Mimi Farina. Nobody got photographs like this, except Jim Marshall. I've often wondered if San Francisco FM Radio was playing 'Rain' during the Beatles last visit. This song seems the perfect backdrop to the mood captured by Jim Marshall in these photographs. A time and place that would never happen again. And so we leave it here. And as this is John's birthday, we'll end with a song from the movie, 'Celebration At Big Sur', which I think in turn is perfect for celebrating John Lennon's birthday and his immense contributions: There's A Place, I'll Get You, This Boy, If I Fell, I'll Be Back, Yes It Is, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, In My Life, Julia, Good Night, Happy Xmas (war is over) etc... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=62mAYkHrM2Y       

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune - DVD

Phil Ochs: There But For Fortune - DVD
Antonio G. Pereira © 2013 Antonio G. Pereira
_______________________________________________

        As someone who remembers Phil Ochs, I couldn't help but be moved by this documentary. Having regularly watched the 'Live From Cafe Wha?/Underground Tonight Show' series on Public Access New York Cable Television during the 1970s, including the night Phil performed, 'Here's To The State of Richard Nixon' on there, of which part of his appearance is shown in the documentary, though not the performance (he also made mention of his friend Victor Jara during the program, and it was noticeable that Phil was not well), and the Phil Ochs Tribute which was shown on PBS a couple of decades ago (The Dave Van Ronk segment of Van Ronk singing 'He Was A Friend Of Mine', just grabs you by the heart - Ramsey Clark began the tribute with a spoken Incantation backed by the playing of Scottish Bagpipes, with other great subsequent performances by Melanie Safka {Miranda}, Tim Hardin {Pleasures Of The Harbor}, and I also remember a husband and wife duo singing a stirring 'The Crucifixtion'), it was moving to be reminded of how much Phil Ochs meant to so many people. {The authors Steve Chapple and Reebee Garofalo, dedicated their highly informative book, 'Rock 'n' Roll Is Here To Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry' Published by Nelson-Hall/Chicago, to him.} 'There But For Fortune' follows Phil's life with photographs, very rare film footage, interviews with among others, his wife and daughter, his brother Photographic Archivist Michael Ochs, Joan Baez, Tom Hayden, Pete Seeger, Ed Sanders (I find it a little strange that no one interviewed Melvin Van Peebles who was a stablemate of Phil's at A&M Records, and a participant in the Evening with Salvador Allende/Chile Benefit, as there are also photographs in the documentary of the event - Phil also performed at the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in Ann Arbor; as well as continually during the previous years, performing at Benefits for {among others} the Civil Rights Movement, the Coal Miners Union, the Black Panther Party and the AntiWar Movement.), Abbie Hoffman, Jac Holtzman, Peter Yarrow etc... And most importantly, HIS SONGS. Who can forget the beauty of his songs, 'There But For Fortune' {which became a standard}, 'Changes' and when he set Edgar Allan Poe's poem, 'The Bells' to music. Even though I feel it could have been longer, this documentary is a wonderful work, and damn near a masterpiece. http://www.amazon.com/Phil-Ochs-There-But-Fortune/dp/B004VN7RN0

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) - DVD

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) - DVD
Antonio G. Pereira © 2013 Antonio G. Pereira
_______________________________________________

Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) http://www.amazon.com/Harry-Nilsson-Everybody-Talkin-About/dp/B003VZNAUS
        Y'know it's funny, Harry Nilsson was somebody who you heard quite a bit in the late '60s/early '70s. His songs being performed by other people (The Monkees, Three Dog Night), composing a movie soundtrack (Skidoo - Harry must have been short on cash at the time. This super gobbler was an L.S.D. inspired tale that starred {among others} Jackie Gleason {That's right folks, the MC and Role Model for the 1969 Teens For Decency Rally, Ralph Kramden himself.}, Graucho Marx {Still listening?}, Donyele Luna {Who the film, 'Mahogany' was based on. You'll catch glimpses of her in The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus, and photographs of her with Brian Jones and Rocky Dijon, in photographer Mike Randolph's book of photographic stills from the film.}, or his voice singing over a television theme (The Courtship of Eddie's Father), or a movie (Midnight Cowboy); but you never actually 'saw him' very much (though he did pop up occasionally if you were paying attention) that is, not until he was making headlines hanging out with John Lennon in Los Angeles in '73/'74.
Harry Nilsson was a very good tune smith, with an ear for melody and with a Pop Music songwriting sensibility. He also possessed an extraordinarily beautiful singing voice. Part Music Hall, part Jazz, part Tin Pan Alley, well versed in these different forms he'd obviously studied and listened to; which made him a contemporary of Lennon/McCartney, Brian Wilson of The Beach Boys (after they had scraped the bottom of the barrel with the Surf Music and the poor rewrites of Chuck Berry songs with different lyrics, and Brian had advanced to create the 'Pet Sounds' LP along with the 'Good Vibrations' 45), and Arthur Lee (e.g. the expansive selection of Pop Songs that Arthur Lee began composing for the second version of Love, on the albums 'Four Sail' and 'Out Here'); and of course Phil Spector (who by this time, had become a total recluse).
This documentary collects together some very rare footage of Harry Nilsson's appearances on Television Shows (among them, Hugh Hefner's 'Playboy After Dark' {a great series}, two BBC Specials, 'Beat Club' from German Television), The Grammys, Home Movies and Studio Recording Sessions. There are interviews with people who knew him (from those interviewed, it would appear that his circle of acquaintances was very limited and almost completely white). He led a strange life, and after winning a series of awards at The Grammys for his album 'Nilsson Schmilsson', he began to deteriorate (though putting out two further exceptional albums, 'Nilsson Sings Newman' {covering the songs of Randy Newman} and 'A Little Touch of Schmillson In The Night' {an album of Jazz and Pop standards}), disintegrate and lose his audience (his audience being the people who bought his records, as he didn't perform in public), and in the process unfortunately, during an out of control, drug fueled recording session, lost his beautiful voice too. In retrospect, as L.A. in the 1970s and the entertainment field itself (which included the Film Industry, Music and Television), was engulfed in Cocaine Use, and unwise thoughts of arrogant invincibility were rampant throughout the Industry, Harry ended up a casualty. John Lennon, who was smart enough to get out, spoke at length about what madness was going on in L.A. during this period, in his 1975 television interview with Tom Snyder on the Tomorrow Show on NBC.
Harry Nilsson ends up being a tireless advocate for Gun Control, after his friend John Lennon's life is ended in late 1980, as a result of senseless Gun Violence; and that ends up being Harry Nilsson's final legacy. A brave attempt at sanity, in this (what is at present) cleverly and subliminally (using income selectivity) militaristic, and still dangerously out of control, Gun Happy and Gun Loving culture.