Saturday, December 1, 2012

Woodstock Vision & Live At Fillmore East

Woodstock Vision & Live At Fillmore East
Antonio G. Pereira © 2012 Antonio G. Pereira

A note to the reader about the books and the authors: It became blatantly obvious to me as I began reading and reviewing Elliot Landy's and Amalie R. Rothschild's photography books, that there was a tight organic synthesis, a countercultural syntax that brought them together. Not only their outstanding photography, but what each author had to say, made this a natural double review.

Woodstock Vision: The Spirit Of A Generation by Elliot Landy. Published by Backbeat Books - An Imprint of Hal Leonard Corporation Even though I had been viewing his photography on album covers and in magazines and newspapers like Crawdaddy and Rolling Stone for years, I first became aware of who Elliot Landy was through the book, 'The Photography of Rock' in the 1970s. Underneath his photograph were the words: 'Elliot Landy says he was born someplace else, is here now, and is going someplace else'. From that point on, (along with his great photographs in The Photography of Rock, of Hendrix, Joplin, Dylan, Van Morrison etc...) he had my undivided attention. His book, 'Woodstock Vision: The Spirit Of A Generation', is a wonderful collection of his extraordinary photography. As he recounts in his own words, the time period when these photographs were taken, he captures for you very clearly, in real time, what it was like and makes the photographs come alive; whether they were musicians, demonstrations or celebrities. The colour photographs (including the then experimental Infrared film) are dazzling to look at. Marvelous pictures of Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, The Band, Melanie Safka, Jim Morrison, a gorgeous shot of a joyous Albert Ayler playing a Harp {Mary Maria's?} in his bedroom next to a painting, a number of candid pictures of John Lennon and Paul McCartney at their 1968 New York Press Conference, announcing the formation and intent of Apple Records, collections in black and white and colour of concerts from the Anderson Theatre, Fillmore East and Woodstock Festival. From a historical perspective, his chapters on Dylan and The Band are enlightening. This is a beautifully put together book, and in many instances, sure to bring back memories. (Y'know, it's interesting to consider that Occupy Wallstreet just may be the present day heirs to what the Woodstock era Counterculture was getting at.)
Elliot Landy has a splendidly elaborate website

A Brief Q & A With The Author, Elliot Landy

(Q) I noticed in one of the series of photographs in your book, from the 1968 New York Press Conference where John and Paul came to announce the formation of Apple Records, that they both have a look of, I don't know if this is the right word exactly, 'bewilderment' on their faces. What do you remember about that Press Conference?

(A) Yes, that is a good interpretation. I was aware of the strangeness of the situation and that's why I use the image showing them and the Press, pressing in on them at a weird angle. Photographers were pushing for position. The overall atmosphere was totally outside of the "artistic" realm which was the inspiration for and the reason they were there. But the everyday reality of dealing with the press, each wanting something unique, was strange. I wanted to escape from it as soon as I could. The photo I chose to take and publish shows the chaos, shows the reporters angling for position without real regard (in my opinion) for WHO these two men were. It was very impersonal-just doing a job and it didn't matter who was in front of the camera. I am not assigning any judgement of this, just explaining why you see that look on their faces. It was a group of people who were not connected to their essence and I would guess the two Beatles were most comfortable with people and situations where they could be "real" could be connected to essence, not artifice. I also remember, at the end of the Press Conference, seeing Linda Eastman walk into the elevator with Paul (and maybe John was in the same elevator) and I was very surprised. I had no idea she was seeing him. She was a professional acquaintance of mine, we were friendly enough. I had remembered loaning her $5 (or was it 10?) late one rainy night in the East Village, after a concert at the Anderson Theatre. She paid it back the next time I saw her.

Live At Fillmore East: A Photographic Memoir by Amalie R. Rothschild with Ruth Ellen Gruber Published by Thunder's Mouth Press There's so much to say about this gorgeous book. Amalie R. Rothschild is quite a gifted photographer, as well as writer. I first became aware of her work when I purchased the UK version of the book, 'The Photography Of Rock' as a college student, in Europe during the 1970s. This was a photography book with collections by different photographers, among them Amalie Rothschild. Some of the pictures from that book are also reproduced in Live At Fillmore East; including two which immediately caught my attention in The Photography Of Rock. Jimi Hendrix sitting backstage with some members of The Voices Of East Harlem (who shared the bill with A Band Of Gypsys at Fillmore East), and Tina Turner with Janis Joplin, singing together at Madison Square Garden ) when The Ike and Tina Turner Revue were opening act for The Rolling Stones). Amalie's memoir is very detailed and makes great reading. From her involvement in the Fillmore Joshua Light Show, straight out of Film School at NYU, to becoming 'unofficial' Fillmore East House Photographer, Ms. Rothschild's talent is amazing. For example, her fascinating explanation of developing the (by chance) photograph of Hendrix walking into the shot of Janis Joplin at the Stones' concert in Madison Square Garden. Also Amalie's intricate description of how the Joshua Light Show produced the images and colours that accompanied the bands who played the Fillmore, is a lot of fun to read about. The series of photographs she took of John and Yoko, the evening they jammed with Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention, are just wonderful to see. Just about every great artist from the era is represented in this book, running the span from Rock to Folk to Jazz; Miles Davis, Laura Nyro, CSNY, Richie Havens, Joni Mitchell, plus a mindblower of a shot of Peter Green, Danny Kirwan and Mick Fleetwood from the original Fleetwood Mac, jamming onstage with The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers. Also not forgotten are the Benefits which were put on by Bill Graham at Fillmore East, that included participation by Mayor John Lindsey, Congresswoman Bella Abzug, comedians, satirists and activists like David Steinberg, Stiller & Meara, Tom Lehrer, Rap Brown and Bernadine Dorn. Amalie has also included photographs she took at the Newport, Woodstock and Isle Of Wight Festivals in 1969 and Tanglewood in 1970. The colour shots of Nina Simone, Laura Nyro, The Who, Miles Davis, Eric Clapton with Delaney and Bonnie, Santana, Albert King, Johnny Winter, The Allman Brothers and Dizzy Gillespie are really striking. (You can imagine my surprise when I noticed that one of the people standing outside Fillmore East in the front overleaf cover photograph, looks like my old photography teacher!) Amalie  ends the book with a detailed listing of every show put on at Fillmore East, whether they were concerts, Benefits, comedy mixed with music (Bill Cosby and Janis Ian!, Country Joe & The Fish and Pigmeat Markham!!) etc...; with dates and names of all performers. Live At Fillmore East is a true work of Art. And by the way 'don't you know', this is Amalie R. Rothschild's very creative website

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