Monday, January 12, 2015

Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones & Brian Jones - Who Killed Christopher Robin?: The Truth Behind The Murder of a Rolling Stone

Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones & Brian Jones - Who Killed Christopher Robin?: The Truth Behind The Murder of a Rolling Stone
Antonio G. Pereira © 2015 Antonio G. Pereira

        I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by Paul Trynka's book, 'Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones'. ,although I've always considered Mojo Magazine to be an opportunistic pile of sensationalist garbage.
       Trynka's new information (very well researched) about Brian Jones' early life in Cheltenham (a classic conservative town full of dirty laundry with rotten secrets, if there ever was one), was quite illuminating, and a classic case study of self-righteous townspeople living their lives like a bunch of hypocrites, by the numbers.
       As anyone who has always been able to think for themselves (rather than waiting to be told what to think) already knows, 'The Rolling Stones' are a Corporate Entity; and have been for a long, long time. So this is no earth shaking news. Partly out of necessity at first, but later, as the 1970s moved along, what became and what amounted to (as successful surviving acts moved away from Concert Halls to Stadiums, and different camps of megalomania formed within the Music Industry itself, and in the 1980s, in turn, became the mergered empires we have today), complete image control.
       It's nice that Paul Trynka took the time to reconstruct and detail Mr. Jones contribution OF and contributions TO The Rolling Stones {He rightly places Brian Jones at the pivotal period just after Muddy Waters and Otis Spann (promoted by Chris Barber) first visited England at the tail end of the 1950s. As this was also near the end of the classic period when Muddy Waters' original Chicago Blues Band aka 'The Headhunters', were tearing up clubs and taverns in and around Chicago, this was the sound that Muddy and Otis brought with them to Britain; that resulted in news headlines like 'Screaming Guitar, Howling Piano'. - Listen to Brian's perfectly crafted slide work on that poorly recorded live in concert cut of Route 66 on the Stones' mid '60s LP December's Children.}, as anyone who continues to wait for Mick Jagger and Keith Richards to do it, will be waiting ad infinitum. I still find it a little strange that there is no proper documentary having been produced about Brian Jones, or about that 1967 Stones European Tour for that matter.
       It's heartening that Trynka spotlites Jones being an early pioneer along with George Harrison (as are Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder), of what we now term as 'World Music'.
       Having seen The Tami Show on television many years ago, The Rolling Stones' performance following James Brown and The Famous Flames, is pretty much anti-climactic; with Jagger appearing as a joke following James Brown, although you really can't take your eyes off of Brian Jones performance to the side, especially when he starts grinning, moving forward toward the audience and beating that tambourine. It's interesting to not only watch the audience, but the MAKEUP of the audience. Trynka, along with a lot of current writers (strangely) tend to write about the '60s era as if only white teenagers existed (and were listening to music and experiencing the groundbreaking societal changes) and no one else. Pity. I for one thought we had all learned something. Perhaps not.
       For an eye opener that no one yet seems to be discussing, search down a 1963 LP released on the King Federal Record Label (US) by a gentleman named Johnny Guitar Watson. Besides the great songs and of course, fantastic guitar playing, who does the vocalist remind you of? And let's see.... The Rolling Stones first LP is finally released the following year of 1964?
       Unfortunately the picture of Brian Jones remains unclear and unfocused. I would have liked to have known more about his relationships with people like Tom Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter, Richard and Mimi Farina, Stevie Winwood, Jimmy Page, Rocki Dijon, Eric Burdon, Devon Wilson, Chas Chandler, Brian Epstein, Bob Dylan, Alfred G. Aronowitz, each of The Beatles, Pete Townshend, Donyele Luna , Donovan, Taj Mahal, Jim Morrison, Ike Turner, Marshall Chess etc...
       The circumstances of Jones death are still open to question, which Paul Trynka just about stops short of admitting himself in his own book.
       What has always amazed me, since this very slick and calculated Conservative Retrenchment of the 1980s, is the proliferation of books finding publication by amateur bumpkin Psychiatrists and Psychologists, practicing a one sided snow job on anything that has to do with deceased figures from the '60s Counterculture. Amateur bumpkin Head Shrinkers accompanied by the way, by their amateur bumpkin counterparts (Read: 'Compilation Experts'), who stack and document Concert Dates and Venues and Set Listings of songs performed by said deceased '60s Countercultural figures, without the slightest understanding of WHAT the vast cultural SIGNIFICANCE of any of this MEANT; and in turn, want YOU to help THEM correct THEIR information, so they can SELL more material. {As the late New Music Musician and Educator Bill Dixon once put it (only partly in jest) in an extensive three part interview in Cadence Magazine a couple of decades ago, "You can't even die."} And (no surprise) it sells books, and incorporates magazines that present themselves as authoritative representatives of warehouses of '60s countercultural analyses.
       ACADEMIA of course, is full of malcontents with an agenda, racists with a tunnel vision view of World History, and old-timey, incompetent, lazybones freeloaders. (see Frank Zappa's observations in his autobiography, 'The Real Frank Zappa Book' by Frank Zappa with Peter Occhiogrosso - Published by Poseidon Press {e.g. Chapter 13: All About Schmucks - subsection 5 - The Exaltation of Ignorance}).
       Anyway, 'Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones' is a step in the right direction. Worth checking out.

       Brian Jones' quicksilver presence has always been something which you couldn't quite grasp, but Terry Rawling's, 'Who Killed Christopher Robin?' is a well written and intriguing biography, that brings Jones into better focus. Rawlings gives a clearer picture of what Jones' life and relationships were like after the Stones were formed; leading up to and after they became famous.
       The circumstances of his death, have always been open to question, and Rawling's investigation into it, makes fascinating reading. You're left with the feeling that there is more to come.
       The book includes a selection of carefully chosen photographs of Jones, as well as photographs relating to Rawling's investigation.
       There is of course, filmmaker Stephen Woolley's movie, 'Stoned' (partly based on Rawling's book). A slick and fruity production. Help yourself.
       However, if you look hard enough, there are glimpses of Brian Jones you can find in Peter Whitehead's rare 1965 documentary 'Charlie is my Darling'  , Tom Nolan's essay "Groupies: A Story of Our Times" {originally published in Cheetah magazine, but reprinted in the book 'The Age of Rock: Sounds of the American Cultural Revolution' Edited by Jonathan Eisen }, and an article of remembrance by Alfred G. Aronowitz, 'Over His Dead Body', that was written for his Pop Scene column in the New York Post. {Reprinted in the book, 'No One Waved Good-bye: a casualty report on rock and roll' Edited by Robert Somma }
       'Who Killed Christopher Robin?' is well worth reading and leaves intriguing questions, yet to be answered.

Monday, December 22, 2014

CSNY 1974 Live - 3CD/DVD Box Set

CSNY 1974 Live - 3CD/DVD Box Set
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        I have to hand it to Graham Nash, he's done a wonderful job here. This is a piece of American History presented in near pristine form.
        I remember this 1974 tour very well, as the following night after Nixon resigned, some black and white news footage of the CSNY New Jersey concert was on the Evening News; and I remember Crosby on stage performing in his fringe jacket. A complete shock to the American system's perception of 'right and wrong' was taking place, and there was nowhere to hide from it.
        Just like The Beatles Anthology nearly 20 years ago, the time was right for CSNY 1974 Live to be released. 'To Everything, Turn, Turn, Turn...'
        Though the design and packaging of this set is absolutely gorgeous and very easy to open and to access the CDs, DVD and 188 page Booklet (For a fairly good reference book, as far as historical background information on CSN & CSNY are concerned {also relating to previous band affiliations such as the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Hollies etc..., and later band affiliations like the great Blows Against The Empire Band (and) album, Manassas, The Seastones Project, the Jitters, the Stills/Young Band etc...}, check out Crosby, Stills & Nash: The Authorized Biography by Dave Zimmer Published by St. Martins Press  {You can also check out an earlier posting  }), and the collection of photographs by Joel Bernstein are very good, I wonder why there are no photographs by other photographers as well. Jim Marshall immediately comes to mind, as he was very good at capturing musicians in photographic moments that no one else could ever get (e.g. his photographs of The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk, Mimi Farina and Joan Baez, Duke Ellington, Duane Allman, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards etc...). But this is up to individual choice and opinion.
        The first CD begins with a Latin flavoured 'Love The One You're With' from Stephen Stills first solo album, 'Stephen Stills', which he dedicated to his friend Jimi Hendrix. Still's vocals on this particular song are a little raspy, but he makes up for it with some smokin' guitar work; and Crosby, Nash and Young give great vocal and instrumental backup (Nash and Crosby on guitar and Young on Hammond Organ) with Tim Drummond on bass, Russ Kunkel on drums and Joe Lala on Congas and Timbales. Following this are great versions of 'Wooden Ships', 'Immigration Man' and 'Helpless' from earlier group and solo albums, as Crosby/Stills (on Wooden Ships), Nash and then Young, take vocals on each song respectively, backed up by the others. These are followed by 'Carry Me', a strikingly beautiful new song written and performed by Crosby (that would later grace the Crosby/Nash album 'Wind On The Water'), with beautiful harmonies by Stills, Nash and Young, and 'Johnny's Garden' (written by Stills for the gardener of his home in England {which he bought from actor Peter Sellers}), recorded originally on the album 'Manassas'; which was also the name of his music ensemble. And then recent songs by Neil Young (Traces), Graham Nash (Grave Concern) and Young (On The Beach). Nash's 'Grave Concern' is particularly funny and biting, as it refers to the full out exposure of the Watergate Scandal. Finally, closing out the first disc is Stills doing a pretty good version of 'Black Queen' from his first solo album, and Crosby doing 'Almost Cut My Hair' from Deja Vu.
        The second disc is the acoustic set, and begins with a gorgeous number by Stills named 'Change Partners', from his second solo album Stephen Stills 2. Performed like a stop/start Latin Waltz, this song has everyone in perfect voice and is infectious and joyous. Next up is Crosby's delicately beautiful song 'The Lee Shore', with it's enchanting imagery. Then we have Neil's song 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart', from his album Harvest; touchingly sad and moving. Then comes Nash's lovely 'Our House', with friendly tuneful harmonies from the others, which he follows with a new song written for the United Farm Workers, 'Fieldworker'. And then two exquisite songs by Crosby, the haunting 'Guinevere' and the deeply moving 'Time After Time'. Next is Nash's 'Prison Song' where he gets the audience to participate in clapping along. And now we get Neil's 'Long May You Run', with a wonderful duet between Neil and Stephen. Ah yes.... then comes 'Goodbye Dick', Neil Young's impromptu little ditty on six sting banjo. A sort of kiss-off to Richard Nixon, who had just resigned in disgrace. (Actually you could subtitle that sucker 'Ode To Tricky Dicky' or 'Et tu Brute?' would be a very suitable subtitle as well.) Following up are two more by Young, 'Mellow My Mind' (again on six string banjo), and the touching 'Old Man'. Now Stills goes right for the gut as he spits out 'Word Game'. His specialty. And the audience goes nuts! Then Stephen does a new composition 'Myth Of Sisyphus'. It is beautiful and he is in great voice at the piano. And Magic Time is upon us. Crosby, Stills and Nash do a strikingly beautiful and unforgettable job on Lennon/McCartney's 'Blackbird'. Followed up by Young doing a recent song he wrote for his dog, the country tinged 'Love Art Blues'. And another new song, Young's beautiful 'Hawaiian Sunrise'. Nash comes up next with his wonderful song 'Teach Your Children', and now they've got the audience eating out of their hands, as they explode with delight. And now the kicker. They finish off this acoustic side with Stills' 'Suite:Judy Blue Eyes', Stills hitting all the high notes for emphasis during the harmonies. With hypnotic wizardry he comes in on "it's my HEART that's a sufferin' ", and drives the audience crazy. As CSNY take the song out with the chorus at the end, Stills digs in with phrasing in Spanish and that does it. They slay the audience.
        The third disc begins with the title song from Deja Vu, and Crosby does justice to it with dramatic and subtle harmonies from Stills and Nash, and lead guitar from Stills. Following this is a recent and smooth, Latin flavoured song from Stills named 'My Angel', with both Stills and Young playing across each other on piano and organ, and backing vocals from Crosby and Nash. Next is a really good rocking version of Nash's 'Pre-Road Downs', which was also an FM Radio favourite back in the '70s. Young is up next with a very good version of his song, 'Don't Be Denied', and then performs 'Revolution Blues'. Following are Nash and Crosby doing excellent versions of their songs 'Military Madness' and 'Long Time Gone' respectively. Nash getting the audience to join in on a rousing chorus that ends 'Military Madness', and Crosby doing an angry 'Long Time Gone'. Neil Young then does a new one, 'Pushed It Over The End'. Finishing everything off, Nash and Young do powerful versions of 'Chicago' and 'Ohio' respectively, and the band plays their butts off. A fitting conclusion.
        Now we get to the DVD. These are songs that were actually filmed during the 1974 tour. 4 using what was then early reel to reel Video, at a concert at the Capital Centre in Landover, Maryland. Young's 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart', with Stills on piano and Crosby and Nash on harmonies. Crosby doing an intense version of 'Almost Cut My Hair', Nash on organ and Stills and Young on dual lead guitars. Graham Nash performing 'Grave Concern' (with hilarious opening one-liners from Crosby), Neil Young on piano, Nash and Stills on electric six string and Crosby on electric 12 string. And Neil Young doing his song 'Old Man' with Nash on vocal harmony and Stills with a light touch on Congas. The other 4 were filmed professionally at the final concert at Wembley Stadium in London, England. Stills, Nash, Crosby and Young respectively, doing surprisingly good alternative versions of their songs 'Johnny's Garden', 'Our House', 'Deja Vu' and 'Pushed It Over The End'. Nash's 'Our House' {this must have been a wonderful moment of vindication for him, that he had followed the right path}, and Crosby's 'Deja Vu' {the point where he and Stephen are directly connecting while playing and looking at each other is marvelous}, being standouts. This is quite a package. Well Done and Highly Recommended!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Photo by Sammy Davis Jr. with Burt Boyar

Photo by Sammy Davis Jr. with Burt Boyar
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        During his lifetime, Sammy Davis Jr. created a Photographic Archive of his life. This began in the latter 1940s, post World War II, after he had served in the Army, and The Will Mastin Trio was still struggling in the remnants of Vaudeville. Followed by their appearances on early television (The story of the Trio's presentation on The Colgate Comedy Hour and Sammy's relationship with the host of the show Eddie Cantor, is well documented in 'Photo', by Burt Boyar; and indicative of the continuing spectre of Race, that America is still yet to finally and permanently overcome.), the breakthrough performance at Ciro's nightclub in Hollywood in the early 1950s, and Sammy's subsequent life as one of the biggest stars on the planet; as he became a solo artist, while Will Mastin and his father Davis Sr. retired. Also clearly visable in the photographs, is the obvious love and admiration in the faces of the fraternity of friends and very close friends in the world of entertainment, in which Sammy Davis Jr. lived. The author, Burt Boyar and his late wife Jane, were two of his closest friends, and co-authored his first and last autobiographies, 'Yes I Can' and 'Why Me?' 'Photo' was posthumously put together by Burt Boyar after the passing of both Sammy Davis Jr. and Jane Boyar. Through Mr. Davis' obvious talent as a photographer, we see America's changing face. His eye for catching subjects in special moments is remarkable. Whether it's his friends or his family or people he just met briefly or persons who touched his life deeply (Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, the mother of his children and the love of his life, May Britt), he leaves a lasting impression of some magic he was able to capture and record with his camera.
        It is rather odd now, as I look back over Sammy Davis' life while going through 'Photo', that he reminds me (in his personage as a photographer) of the character that Sidney Poitier played in one of the most unusual and haunting films he ever made, named 'Brother John'.
        I most appreciated the Afterword written by Burt Boyar, that ended the book. In the Afterword, Mr. Boyar permanently jettisons any misconceptions and lies aimed at his dear friend. These misconceptions and lies being the products of envy, jealousy, resentment and outright hatred, created by people who themselves never contributed anything worthwhile other than their rotten opinions; led empty lives, and took comfort in spreading the misinformation that Sammy Davis Jr. left his family cash poor. Mr. Boyar was nice enough to detail the facts on this subject very clearly thank you. A great ending to this book.
Well worth reading and Highly Recommended.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

'A Meditation On Hendrix, Lennon and The Counterculture' - Original and Expanded Versions

'A Meditation On Hendrix, Lennon and The Counterculture' - Original and Expanded Versions
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        Soul Patrol Digest, which was a wonderful and colourful Arts and Culture Magazine, graciously published the original version of my essay 'A Meditation On Hendrix, Lennon and The Counterculture', a decade ago: during the time I was a Contributor, along with a group of very talented writers.

        A few years later, after creating this blog, I published the subsequent expanded version.

        As today is John Lennon's birthday, I thought today would be the perfect time to post them together; as well as: The John Lennon Museum - Go to The Internet Archive Type  into the Wayback Machine, Click Browse History, then choose 2009. Enjoy.

Thank You John Lennon.

And Happy Birthday.

Now and Forever....

Friday, August 1, 2014

Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America

Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America by Joseph Tirella. Published by Lyons Press An Imprint of Globe Pequot Press Guilford, Connecticut.
        This book is going to upset a lot of people. (And it's just as well.) In particular, the creators involved in, and the beneficiaries of, the so called 'Reagan Revolution' of the early 1980s; part of whose policy was to encourage a climate of 'dumbing down' at the Television News Networks, of (what should have been at that crucial moment in time), nightly educational installments set aside to explain how historically the United States of America had gotten to the point in history it reached in 1981, from the previous 25-30 years of hard won struggle. All of the Networks did have extensive News Archives, that (with a little effort and All-American Work Ethic and ingenuity), could have been put to good use.
        As an entirely new generation of little children were coming of age, it was a duty to start educating them right then, instead of encouraging an atmosphere of 'ignorance is bliss'. (If you remember the late Edward R. Murrow's speech inaugurating Public Television when it went on the air  , and/or Howard Beale's wild (but not far off the mark) Television commentary in the movie, 'Network'  , you know what I'm talking about.)
        At present time, what we now have are a sizeable portion of the population that has no interest in anything other than their own self aggrandizement. This book explains in detail what Reagan and Co. were so uneasy about, and dead set against those children of 1981-onward, learning about their own past American History. And many of those who constructed this plan, were some of the same culprits whose names would have poured out into the light, along with their own guilty past deeds.   Yuppies and Gangster Rappers would be a perfect audience for this book.
        As someone who actually attended the 1964-65 World's Fair, a couple of times, it was a remarkable event to see and experience during that time period. And Joseph Tirella brings back the memories vividly in his book. He also addresses the groundbreaking societal changes that were finally forced down the throat of a backward thinking United States, as it's time had finally come.
        One thing not addressed in Tomorrow-Land, which should have been, was the racial conflict taking place in the world of Art during that time. There was a very ugly situation centered in New York that shed light on the climate of exclusion of Black Artists from major gallery's showings in the city, that resulted in heated demonstrations. Check the article, 'You Wouldn't Know About Bill Dixon, Unless...' Soul Patrol Digest: as well as
        Additionally, there was the strange dichotomy in the thinking of people like World's Fair President Robert Moses (and strongly evident in the American Government) in which newly liberated African countries were made welcome, while Black Americans were battling to finally free themselves of racist policies and laws within the United States. And anyone who reached out through and past this very present dichotomy (a glaring case and point is the career of Miriam Makeba) caught hell. The late Gil Noble  , who hosted 'Like It Is' here in New York for over four decades on the ABC Network   , once had a very revealing interview with a former employee of the CIA, named John Stockwell; who talked at length and in much detail, about this African/African American dichotomy, prevalent during the 1960s era. (And Noble also conducted another eye opening and shocking interview with a detestable individual named D'Arthard Perry, who was a former FBI Informant. At the time of his interview (which turned into a confession for redemption) Perry, whose informant code name was 'Othello', spilled his guts about his participation in Cointelpro; as he found himself in a Post-Watergate and Post-Hoover America, running for his now expendable life. And interestingly, as he told Gil Noble, 'nobody wanted to use his offered testimony during the Watergate Trials'.)  But Joseph Tirella covers all the important areas from Politics to Religion to International Relations to Music and Art. Just about every one of the important people who made history are here (one of the surprising omissions is Adam Clayton Powell), from John F. Kennedy to Lyndon B. Johnson, from FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to Attorney General Robert F. 'Bobby' Kennedy, from Governor George C. Wallace, Commissioner of 'Public Safely' Eugene "Bull" Conner, Sheriff Jim Clark to Civil Rights Workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman, from Martin Luther King's prophetic speech 'I Have A Dream' at the 1963 March On Washington {which would be followed years later and shortly before his murder, by his other prophetic speech 'Why I Oppose The War In Vietnam'} to Malcom X' equally prophetic speech 'The Ballot or the Bullet', to the tragic case of Catherine 'Kitty' Genovese, from Joan Baez and Bob Dylan to The Beatles (including the night The Beatles played their sold out concert at Shea Stadium, which was right next to the World's Fair), Andy Warhol, Ken Kesey, Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory, Alan Ginsberg etc... {For a more expansive and detailed version of what went on at the Tom Paine Awards, from Dylan's point of view, read his interview with Nat Hentoff for the New Yorker, 'The Crackin', Shakin', Breakin' Sounds'; reprinted in the book Bob Dylan: A Retrospective Edited by Craig McGregor Published by Morrow Paperback Editions-An Imprint of William Morrow & Company Inc. New York.   For the entire article, The Menace of Beatlism by British Journalist Paul Johnson (remarkable reading, as it was so out of touch with reality), check out The Beatles Paperback Writer: 40 years of classic writing- Edited by Mike Evans Published by Plexus Publishing Limited London.   For an additional wealth of related photographs, check out the book: I Want To Take You Higher-The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum Published by Chronicle Books San Francisco In association with Sarah Lazin Books and Alexander Isley, Inc.   And of course Robert Moses aka 'The Master Builder'; who was responsible for the 1964-65 World's Fair. How the whole idea of the World's Fair was co-opted from Real Estate Lawyer Robert Kopple by Robert Moses, is quite a story in itself, and makes fascinating reading; as well as the fact that Moses, though of the Jewish faith, was the Jewish equivalent of what Blacks back then (in early 1900s America) termed as 'passing', which referred to a certain type of very fair skinned black - or non-white hispanic (who was able to get away with it, if they could) who took on a WASP identity, which included their views on racial matters.
        Author Joseph Tirella writes with much passion and attention to intricate detail, to recreate for us an America that WAS, so we can understand the America that IS. Tomorrow-Land: The 1964-65 World's Fair and the Transformation of America, is a monumental historical work, that at this point in time, YOU CAN'T AFFORD NOT TO READ.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Beatles Files

The Beatles Files
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        The Beatles Files by Andy Davis Published by Barnes & Noble Books Inc. New York by Special Arrangement with Salamander Books LTD. London
        This is the book that threw open the floodgates. A collection of photographs of The Beatles, from the British Newspaper The Daily Mirror (which had some great Journalists {Among them John Pilger - Read his book, 'Hidden Agendas' Published by Vintage Books An Imprint of Random House London  }), that were shot by their staff of quick thinking and excellent photographers during the 1960s. Some of these photos are very well known. Most of them were never published, and sat for decades in the Mirror's Photographic Archive.
        The collection is presented by former Beatles Monthly Picture Researcher Andy Davis, who did a capitol job selecting prime photographs from the Archive. Some of the '63 UK Tour photos you might remember from Beatles Monthly, or The Beatles Personality Annual, which was published in the U.S. in 1964. Throughout (starting with a Forward by former International Times Editor Barry Miles), Andy Davis chronicles The Beatles rise to fame and popularity through the wealth of Archival photographs. Whether photographed in concert in the UK during the first explosion of Beatlemania, or photographed with Brian Epstein's ever expanding group of Nems Artists, or during the fateful engagement in Paris just before Beatlemania exploded in the U.S. (One photograph in particular, of the snobbish behaviour of some members of the French audience leaving during The Beatles encore, is quite amusing.), all of the remarkable stages of their ascent are beautifully presented. Then the subsequent explosion of popularity in the U.S., followed by television and movies, is captured in pictures.
        Their statements about Segregation and Apartheid on page 78 (during the Fall 1964 UK Tour with Mary Wells {with whom the group is also photographed  }) are quite noteworthy. Paul the wide eyed optimist, and John the realist (with the secret heart of deep sensitive feelings ). Just another reason (besides the groundbreaking music they were making) that The Beatles were embraced by so many on different continents, and hated by others. And as their star shines ever brighter, more pictures of them performing on television in the U.S. and in the U.K., including their 'The Music Of Lennon & McCartney' Television Special (A touching photograph of John and Paul sitting on either side of a delighted Lulu during a break in filming.) for the BBC in 1965. There is also a photograph of John and Paul with Johnny Hamp (the Television Producer of their Special) who was an early and sincere champion of the group, dating back to when they were gaining popularity in Hamburg. And the photographs of their Christmas Shows. (Including a group photo of the entire cast of performers on stage. In the background you can see The Yardbirds, and just make out the top of Eric Clapton's head. Additionally, there is a photo of The Beatles backstage with two female fans whose parents (they must have had deep, deep pockets) flew them in to London from New York specially to see the Christmas Shows.) In the latter part of the book, John appearing on Not Only But Also with Peter Cook, Paul attending his brother Michael's wedding with Jane Asher (their last outing together before Linda Eastman entered his life), John and Cynthia attending a Fashion Show with George, where Pattie was modeling (as Yoko Ono entered his life), and Ringo appearing on Cilla Black's Television Show on the BBC. There are many other photos which will surprise and astound you. And all of them (400 in all) are reproduced from the original negatives, with crystal clear clarity. Highly Recommended.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Fatwa & Michael Clayton

Fatwa & Michael Clayton
Antonio G. Pereira © 2014 Antonio G. Pereira

        Fatwa is a thought provoking and very disturbing film by John Carter and Scott Schafer. The story, which takes place in post World Trade Center 9/11 America, focuses on how power on both sides (Islam and the West), headed by people who are not only blindly corrupt but dangerously ignorant, can lead people on to do things which are morally reprehensible; that in turn, have long term consequences that affect other people's lives. Superb acting by Lauren Holly, Roger Guenveur Smith and the cast, in an unforgettable film that should be seen worldwide.
        Michael Clayton (played to a tee by George Clooney) is a liaison/fixer (in this film by the late Sydney Pollack {also in a co-starring role}), who works for a very powerful New York Law Firm. The story centers on Michael Clayton slowly uncovering that the murder of a friend, lawyer, and colleague at the firm, who after six years of representing a case for a client of the patnership, (which has been a company involved in toxic waste that has been killing people), decided in the midst of burning out and having a nervous breakdown, that he could no longer go along with the consortium's position; and decided to expose the entire situation. As Michael begins peeling back the layers of this intricate story, he realizes that now 'his' life is in danger too. But 'where' is this coming from? And 'who' has given the order? One hell of a film with a riveting ending and a calming fade out, that speaks crescendos about resiliency in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds.