With the passings of Eddie Money and Ric Ocasek this past week, aging music fans received not only the latest reminder of their own mortality, but that of their beloved rock and roll as well. Which is why it is so comforting to know that another closely related, aging institution - The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame - contnues to preach the word that although rock's commercial viability may be on life support these days, its continued artistic and creative vitality is anything but. Musical historian and E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt makes specific reference to this
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It makes a very convincing argument that those pesky rumors of rock's imminent demise have been greatly exaggerated. Tell Tchaikovsky the news, indeed.
An intriguing concept presented is that in addition to talent, chance encounters can be just as important to an artist's career.
Ken Burns's latest examination of the fabric of the United States sees him focus on another musical genre, Country Music, in an 8-episode, 16-hour documentary airing on and streaming through PBS. The story is narrated by Peter Coyote and supplemented by a wealth of interviews ranging from country artists, giants in the business like Dolly Parton and Kris Kristofferson to lesser-known artists keeping the spirit alive like Ketch Secor from Old Crow Medicine Show and Rhiannon Giddens; from those who lived through it like session musicians and radio DJ Ralph Emery to the children and grandchildren of beloved musicians. Much
New or casual Beatles fans may find the documentary to be interesting only if they are largely unfamiliar with the group's history.
In 1964, Americans viewed the Beatles as seemingly coming out of nowhere, rapidly scoring hits and inciting Beatlemania. In reality, the group painstakingly learned their craft, toiling in Liverpool and Hamburg clubs until finally signing with the EMI label in 1962. The documentary The Beatles Made on Merseyside attempts to trace this early period, following them from teen years through 1962. Now available on DVD, the film may appeal to casual Beatles fans, but hardcore enthusiasts will find little new information. Wisely dispensing with narration, The Beatles Made on Merseyside relies on interviews with Beatles insiders and archival footage. Beatles
An important chapter in the history of rock is examined by those involved with it and those influenced by it.
The “canyon” in question is Laurel Canyon, located in the Hollywood Hills of Southern California. With Jakob Dylan as host, Andrew Slater's documentary looks back at some of the musicians who lived, thrived, and influenced each other in that neighborhood, creating the folk-rock California Sound of 1965-67. The oral history is told through interviews of those who were there, such as David Crosby, Michelle Phillips, and producer Lou Adler; the next generation of musicians who were influenced by them, such as Tom Petty and Jackson Brown; and later generations who appreciate their accomplishments, such as Beck and Regina Specktor. The
One wouldn't know from how well they played music from all eras of their career that this would be their swan song, but they went out delivering a top-notch performance.
In 2014, Rush (guitarist Alex Lifeson, vocalist/bassist Geddy Lee, and druumer Neil Peart) released R40, a collector’s box set that packed together recent concert videos, Rush In Rio, R30, Snakes & Arrows Live, Time Machine 2011: Live In Cleveland, and Clockwork Angels Tour, and according to their website, “a bonus disc of previously unseen and unreleased live material stretching from 1974 to 2013.” In the summer of 2015, the band hit the road for the R40 Live Tour, which was hinted at as, but never confirmed until it was over, their farewell tour. R40 Live is the title for both
It is highly recommend for fans of the band and also makes a great introduction for those new to them.
Decades Rock Live! was a VH1 Classic television series that gathered bands and guests to play a concert at Trump Taj Mahal’s in Atlantic City. Pretenders with Friends is an episode taken from that series recorded on August 11, 2006, and thankfully, the folks at Cleopatra Records and Rock Fuel Media have released the performance on a three-disc set (Blu-ray, DVD, CD). The 16-song set runs about 65 minutes. Led by Chrissie Hynde, the Pretenders at this time were original drummer Martin Chambers, guitarist Adam Seymour, and bassist Nick Wilkinson. They deliver a set mainly comprised of their greatest hits
Wyman's story is told through his extensive archive of film, photos, audio recordings and memorabilia.
It’s been 26 years since Bill Wyman quit the Rolling Stones for civilian life in 1993, and the documentary The Quiet One fills us in on what Wyman has been doing since then. Wyman kept detailed archives of his time with the band, and the film begins with him sitting at his computer in an archive room filled with audio, film and other memorabilia. Director Oliver Murray takes a linear approach to Wyman’s life story with the archive as the crux, and doesn’t dig too deeply into any whys or what ifs of Wyman’s life. Original footage and photos from
Sinatra in Palm Springs: The Place He Called Home Blu-ray Review: A Look at the Love Affair Between the Singer and the City
New documentary takes a look at the life of Frank Sinatra in Palm Springs.
Frank Sinatra was born in New Jersey and synonymous with New York City. He also defined what a Las Vegas entertainer could be. The place where he made his home, however, where he could be himself, was Palm Springs. Sinatra in Palm Springs: The Place He Called Home takes an excellent look at the California city where Sinatra spent the last half-century of his life. Directed by Leo Zahn, Sinatra in Palm Springs mixes archival footage with present-day interviews with many of the people who were around Sinatra during his time in Palm Springs. Sinatra’s third wife, Barbara, is interviewed
The setlist is "Foreigner" in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from "Double Vision."
Foreigner began as vocalist Lou Gramm, guitarist Mick Jones, multi-instrumentalist Ian McDonald, drummer Dennis Elliott, keyboardist Al Greenwood and bassist Ed Gagliardi. Recorded on April 27, a year after their smash self-titled debut and about six weeks before the release of their second album, Live at the Rainbow '78 is a 75-minute concert film that spotlights a talented band on the rise. The setlist is Foreigner in its entirety, out of sequence, and two songs from Double Vision. The band opens with a boisterous “Long, Long Way from Home” getting fans enthused right from the start. At song's end, the
An enjoyable Yes concert but the audio comes close to the edge of unacceptability.
Originally released on Blu-ray in the UK for the actual 40th anniversary in 2012, Yessongs, also the name of a live album with a larger selection of songs, is now available for the rest of us. The film presents the band playing at the Rainbow Theatre in London during their Close to the Edge Tour on December 15, 1972. The members are vocalist Jon Anderson, bassist Chris Squire, guitarist Steve Howe, keyboardist Rick Wakeman and drummer Alan White, replacement for Bill Bruford who quit eleven days before the tour was set to commence. After a brief "Overture" of some sort,
The new documentary reveals the numerous contributions Native Americans have made to rock, blues, gospel, folk, and more.
Just when it seems like books and documentaries have thoroughly covered the history of rock ’n’ roll, along comes a film that reveals a rarely told story: the influence of Native Americans on the genre. From Link Wray to the Black Eyed Peas’ Taboo, Native Americans have impacted rock rhythmically, vocally, thematically, and culturally. Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World explores rock’s Native American roots through interviews and archival footage, demonstrating how the blues, jazz, and rock all owe a debt to Indian rhythms and vocal style. The documentary borrows its title from Wray’s seminal 1958 song “Rumble,” with
In which Shawn ranks things that happened through 2018 and counts all the things in his life
From 2005 through 2012, I pretty consistently wrote my Sunday Morning Tuneage blog. It continued inconsistently through 2013 before being abandoned. Each year was punctuated with a series of "Best of" lists. While the blog still remains retired, I'm revived it last year for a Best of 2017. The feedback was enough for me to compile it again this year. Here's the Return of the Jedi of my "Best of" trilogy. BEST OF THE REST 2018 BY THE NUMBERS 4,722,870 steps taken this year (2,290 miles) 365 Days walking over 5 miles in 2018 3 Days not walking over 5
The Public Image Is Rotten Movie Review: Traces the 40-year History of John Lydon and Public Image, Ltd.
What makes the film engaging is the no-BS honesty of all its interviewees.
Near the beginning of The Public Image is Rotten, a young John Lydon is asked how long he’ll live. “I’m one of the very few people in pop history who will not go away.” Forty years later, he’s still capturing the attention of fans and the media, whether he’s onstage making music or simply walking through an airport. His band, Public Image Ltd., has been together in one form or another for forty years, too. The Public Image is Rotten, a documentary about the band, premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and is playing in limited engagement at
Heartfelt if slight documentary about a rock band's return to Paris in the aftermath of a terrorist attack.
Until the Paris Terrorist attack on November 13, 2015 where their concert at the Bataclan was targeted leaving 89 dead, for non-fans Eagles of Death Metal, if they had heard of them at all, were mostly thought of as Josh Homme's other band. Queens of the Stone Age, Homme's central musical outlet, has been a staple of the American hard rock scene for two decades, while Eagles of Death Metal was the weird side project where he co-wrote the songs, was the rhythm section, and hardly ever toured with the band. If the first third of Eagles of Death Metal:
To celebrate what would have been George Harrison's 75th birthday, the 2002 film is being screened in theaters and receiving a re-release in various configurations.
George Harrison’s life and career may seem impossible to capture in just an hour and a half. Yet his friends and family managed to accomplished such a feat on November 29, 2002. Just a year after Harrison’s untimely death, Eric Clapton organized a concert at London’s Royal Albert Music Hall to celebrate his singer/songwriter friend’s life. “What I wanted to do was...just share our love for George and his music with the people,” says Clapton. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Jeff Lynne are among the numerous performers who turn in emotional renditions of Harrison’s best known Beatles and solo compositions.
While the video upgrade and single extra aren't worth a double-dip, this three-disc set is a must-own for fans of classic rock and the '60s.
Previously released from Criterion in 2009, The Complete Monterey Pop Festival collects three D.A. Pennebaker film's: Monterey Pop, Jimi Plays Monterey, and Shake! Otis at Monterey. That version was previously reviewed at this site. On the weekend of June 16-18, the Monterey International Pop Music Festival helped usher in the "Summer of Love". Filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker and his team captured the event, which was edited down to 79 minutes. The participants included The Mamas and the Papas (John Phillips was one of the co-founders), Canned Heat, Simon & Garfunkel, Hugh Masekela, Jefferson Airplane, Big Brother and the Holding Company, Eric
The Tragically Hip: National Celebration Blu-ray Review: Armed with Will and Determination and Grace, Too
Ironically, the 30 songs played here make a brilliant introduction to the band as they said goodbye to their fans.
As I wrote in my review of the documentary The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running, "On May 24, 2016, it was announced that the Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing
Expanded and updated with 35,000 words of new material, this edition is likely to be the last, until a number of the inevitable posthumous releases dictates another.
"Complete" is an accurate description of this astoundingly thorough encyclopedia of Bowie's work. The book naturally opens with "The Songs from A to Z," starting with "Abdulmajid," an instrumental by Bowie and Brian Eno that appeared as a bonus track for a "Heroes" reissue in the early '90s as well as All Saints: Collected Instrumentals 1977-1999. Over the next 300-plus pages, readers are presented in-depth details about greatest hits, covers, and deep cuts, through to "Zion," a "rambling six-minute demo from 1973 which has also appeared on bootlegs under the various titles 'Aladdin Vein', ' Love Aladdin Vein', and '
Seminal punk documentary finally gets a digital release.
A few years back, maybe ten come to think of it, I was getting to know a girl, Pamela, who eventually became a good friend. I asked her, like I always ask people I’m getting to know, what kind of music she liked. She said she was a big punk fan. Intrigued, as she didn’t look like your typical punk rocker, I asked for details. “Who do you like,” I asked. “The Dead Kennedys? The Minutemen?” “Who?” she replied. Pushing further, I asked “The Misfits? Black Flag?” I got blank stares. “How about the Ramones or Green Day?” Nothing. “Well,
The film tells a lesser-known part of rock history, but the hour-long format barely scratches the surface.
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” Janis Joplin sang in “Me and Bobby McGee.” For teens living behind the Iron Curtain in the 1950s, rock itself became a symbol of freedom. The documentary Free to Rock explores the role the rebellious music played in ending the Cold War, ending with the Berlin Wall coming down in 1989. Through interviews with Western musicians as well as Russian artists, the film makes the case that rock ’n’ roll’s attitude changed culture and helped bring about changes that reverberate today. Executive producers Nicholas Brinkley and Douglas Yeager spent ten years
The Tragically Hip: Long Time Running Blu-ray Review: Beating the Inevitability of Death Just a Little Bit
A fantastic behind-the-scenes look at how the band, their team, and their fans dealt with this farewell tour.
On May 24, 2016, it was announced that The Tragically Hip's lead singer Gord Downie had incurable brain cancer. In spite of that, they intended to tour in support their thirteenth studio album, Man Machine Poem, set for release a few weeks later. They played 15 shows across Canada in just under a month, concluding with a hometown show on August 20, 2016, at the Rogers K-Rock Centre in Kingston, Ontario. It was an unofficial, though presumed, farewell tour, which became official with the passing of Downie on October 17, 2017. The final concert was broadcast to nearly 12 million
The Blu-ray deserves to recognized on "Best of 2017" lists.
On February 4, 2017 at Genting Arena in their hometown of Birmingham, England, Black Sabbath (sans founding drummer Bill Ward) played the final show of their farewell tour. The set list focused primarily on the band's first four albums, including six of the eight songs from Paranoid. The remaining four albums from Ozzy's initial tenure were only represented three times: "Dirty Women" and two songs performed during the instrumental medley. Unfortunately, nothing for fans of Never Say Die! The concert opens with the sound of the bell tolling at the beginning of "Black Sabbath". Ozzy acts as cheerleader between lyrics,
Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago DVD Review: New Documentary Paints an Incomplete Picture of the Band
While interesting, the movie lacks key voices that would have provided a multi-dimensional portrayal of the classic rock group.
When asked to define Chicago’s sound, saxophonist Walter Parazaider provides this simple summary: “a good rock and roll band with horns.” The band has accomplished that goal in their 50-year-career, from their origins at Chicago’s DePaul University to their '70s heyday through their controversial 1980s productions with David Foster. The documentary Now More Than Ever: The History of Chicago aims to chronicle their story, told through interviews with current members as well as rare home video footage. While it’s an interesting portrait of the band’s tangled history, it is also a one-sided perspective missing some key voices. Director Peter Pardini
Documenting the Newport Folk Festival at the height of the folk revival, Festival is a feast for music fans.
In the early part of the 20th Century, various folklorists, including John Lomax, wandered about the country documenting the songs of the people - folk music. They sought out cowboys and prisoners, former slaves and sharecroppers, and recorded them. In 1952, Harry Smith compiled his favorite songs from these recordings and created The Anthology of American Folk Music. This album reached the ears of folks like Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger who recorded some of those songs and started the Great American Folk Revival which hit its peak in the early 1960s. In 1959, music promoter George Wein, who’d had
A welcome addition to the collection of any Alice Cooper fan.
Vincent Furnier was the lead singer of the band of Alice Cooper and also went by the name Alice Cooper. After seven studio albums and the band starting to fracture, Furnier legally changed his name to Alice Cooper and became a solo artist with the release of the concept album, Welcome to My Nightmare, about the nightmares of a child named Steven. It was supported by a tour, of which two shows at London's Wembley Arena on September 11-12, 1975 were recorded for the concert film of the same name, which Eagle Rock Entertainment has released and paired it with
While the film presents a largely sympathetic portrait of the reclusive star's last years, it never quite captures Jackson's struggles during that period.
Filming a biopic is fraught with difficulty. How can a writer and director accurately portray an international icon onscreen? Few Beatles films have adequately captured the complex personality of John Lennon, while Elvis Presley-themed movies have to walk a fine line between real life and caricature. In addition, are the screenwriters drawing from respected source material, or from authors with an axe to grind? These questions again surface while viewing the Lifetime movie Michael Jackson: Searching for Neverland, set for release on DVD on October 10. While it presents a largely sympathetic portrait of the reclusive star’s last years, it
Music Review: The Bottom Line Archive Series: Lou Reed and Kris Kristofferson: In Their Own Words with Vin Scelsa
The quirky and revealing Q&A, along with the impromptu performances, make this an interesting slice of rock history.
The Bottom Line, a rock and folk club in Greenwich Village from 1974 to 2004, featured performances by Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton, and Meat Loaf, among others. The music and commentary showcase In Their Own Words, a staple on rock station WNEW in the 1990s, was recorded at the club. The event, moderated by DJ Vin Scelsa, who also hosted the popular free-form radio show Idiot’s Delight, highlighted artists as diverse as Pete Seeger, Roger McGuinn, Shawn Colvin, Doc Watson, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Webb, and Barrett Strong. This episode of In Their Own Words features the unlikely duo of Kris
While being a fan of the music certainly adds to the enjoyment of Hype!, it's not required to learn the cautionary tale it tells.
New to the Shout Select line, Hype! offers viewers an inside look at the Seattle music scene of late '80 / early '90s, the seismic shift it caused in pop culture, and how the media exploited it. While the first two elements tell a unique story, the third seems unfortunately all too common. The late '80s were an interesting time in music. Country was turning pop and rap/hip hop was slowly on the rise. Rock music was dominated by hair metal bands, but that would change by the end of the decade. "Alternative music" was a catch-all descriptor for a
An enjoyable look back at a classic album.
After a brief introduction through separate interviews of band members Perry Farrell (singer), Dave Navarro (guitar), Stephen Perkins (drums), and Chris Chaney (bassist in place of Eric Avery), Jane's Addiction played the final slot at Jack's 11th Show, which had them on a bill that included The Cult, Violent Femmes, and Garbage, whose touring bassist was Avery. Sadly, bridges have been burned so badly, there was no on-stage reunion. The concert, available on Blu-ray, DVD, and CD, took place at Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre on September 23rd 2016, a few weeks before the venue shut down and was bulldozed. It was
Dedicated to victims of terrorism all around the world, the band marks a triumphant return to France with this concert.
On the back cover and at the start of the video, Eagles of Death Metal presents a reminder of the tragic events that occurred at their concert on November 13, 2015, when "gunmen entered the [Bataclan concert hall] and opened fire on the crowd, leaving 89 people dead." During U2's Paris concert on December 7, EODM returned to a concert stage for the first time with a joint performance of Patti Smith's "People Have the Power". In a classy move, they were then given the stage to close U2's show with "I Love You All the Time". This can be