Tag Archive | John Lennon

Video Clip of The Week: The Griswolds “Red Tuxedo”



This song reminds me of going to Prom if Prom had been a halfway decent memory for me. See how many pop culture icons you can spot in this lovely and whimsical video by The Griswolds for their very sweetly romantic and nostalgia inducing song, “Red Tuxedo.” Find out more about The Griswolds at their FaceBook page, found at This Link! Enjoy!

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John Lennon Carnivale Float

John Lennon Carnivale Float

Canivale is going on in Tuscan city of Viareggio this week and it looks completely fucking insane! This year’s parade featured a huge Beatles-themed float with a massive John Lennon. When his giant moving hands meet in the middle, they read HELP!

OMG!

Thanks to Melissa Altman for the Image!

Must See Concert Film: Paul McCartney and Wings ROCKSHOW

Paul McCartney Rock Show Poster

If there was ever a pop star born with a more sizeable share of outrageous talent than most mere mortals, it is Paul McCartney. Not only is he among the most celebrated and successful song writers in the world, an innovative bass player who also plays the drums, piano and guitar equally well, a charismatic public figure and one of the best looking men on the planet (seriously, in his 20s and 30s, especially, McCartney could hold a close up for days) but he was a member of The fucking Beatles – the greatest band ever in the Universe of All Time. And the craziest thing about Paul McCartney’s many-decades long career is that he has made everything he does look easy. That, my friend, is the mark of a truly gifted and legendary artist.

Paul McCartney still tours, and if he happens to be playing in your city and you have $500 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a ticket to go see him. If that price seems a little out of your range, you might consider buying a ticket to see ROCKSHOW, a 1980 concert film by McCartney and his then-band Wings, which is coming to theaters Worldwide on May 15th, and here in the States starting May 16th. That would be a lot cheaper and you’ll probably get better seats! Filmed during the North American leg of the band’s 1976 Wings Over The World Tour, the two-hour plus length film features 30 songs from four concerts of the tour: New York, May 25 (four songs); Seattle, June 10 (five songs); Los Angeles, June 22 (15 songs); and Los Angeles, June 23 (six songs). This tour also spawned the triple live album, Wings Over America.

Although I am as crazy for the music of The Beatles today as I was at age five, when I first discovered the soundtrack of the film HELP! thanks to my older sister, Wings was never a band that yanked my chain all that much. I was probably listening to Alice Cooper and a lot of German Prog Rock at that time, so, I was surprised at the intense waves of deep nostalgia that washed over me as I sat rapt for two hours watching ROCKSHOW on my iMac so I could write this review. Little did I know then that, nearly forty years onward, Wings’ songs would sound like the Classical music of its time! The set list for ROCKSHOW is comprised of tracks from the albums Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound and some of McCartney’s early solo work, while being favorably augmented by many Beatles’ classics. What a great concert experience this film serves up!

Paul McCartney Rock Show Bass

Paul McCartney & Wings included McCartney’s wife and muse, keyboardist Linda McCartney (RIP), drummer Joe English, guitarists Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch (RIP) plus a four piece horn section. Demonstrating that wings was as egalitarian a band as any fronted by a former Beatle, Paul frequently hands over lead vocal duties to Laine and McCulloch, beginning early in the set with “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” and “Medicine Jar,” respectively. Laine also reprises his lead vocal performance of The Moody Blues’ early #1 hit, “Go Now” and shows himself to be a remarkably charismatic front man on the urgent and compelling “Time To Hide.” Although the cameras can tend to linger on McCartney’s ridiculously handsome visage for endless minutes at a time (not complaining), everyone in the group is represented, reinforcing the fact that Wings was a true “band of brothers,” so to speak and not just a group of hired musicians supporting McCartney as a solo act.

Paul McCartney Rock Show Acoustic Set
Left to Right: Jimmy McCulloch, Denny Laine, Linda and Paul

Paul can rock out with his bass like the great front man that he is, but some of my favorite moments in the film are when he’s behind the piano for songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “The Long & Winding Road” and the jaunty “You Gave Me The Answer,” which McCartney dedicates to Fred Astaire. Not quite midway through the show, the band pull up chairs at the front of the stage for an extended acoustic set featuring “Picasso’s Last Words,” a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Richard Cory,” a stunning rendition of “Bluebird” and a fun, uber-countrified version of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (from the US release of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album). But it’s on McCartney’s solo acoustic performance of “Blackbird” where the dark sensibilities that John Lennon helped to infuse into McCartney’s songcraft can really be heard. Moments like these are extremely bitter sweet.

I liked that, even though this was a BIG ROCK SHOW, they didn’t need to rely on explosions or shit flying through the air to make a memorable impression. McCartney and his band let the music do the talking and it never fails to be less than completely magical. The size of the stage – as well as the size of the venue – reveals that this was a huge production, but the show is refreshingly easy on the Las Vegas-style lighting effects, save for a spot strobe used to great effect during the horn sections of “Live and Let Die,” and a smoke and laser effect that makes it look as if the band is performing in outer space during the final number, “Soily.”

ROCKSHOW is a do not miss film for any fan of The Beatles, Paul McCartney or 70s Rock. The film will be shown in over 700 cities worldwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cape Town, Sydney, Rome, Warsaw, Bucharest, Prague, Hamburg, San Paolo, Rio DeJaneiro, Buenos Aires, and many other cities across the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Europe and South America. These special theatrical presentations will include a bonus 12-minute interview with McCartney. Tickets for ROCKSHOW are available at participating theater box offices and online at Rock Show On Screen Dot Com, where you can also look for a screening in your area. Running time is 141 minutes. ROCKSHOW will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 11th, 2013.

SET LIST

1.-3. “Venus And Mars”/“RockShow”/ “Jet”
4. “Let Me Roll It”
5. “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt”
6. “Medicine Jar”
7. “Maybe I’m Amazed”
8. “Call Me Back Again”
9. “Lady Madonna”
10. “The Long And Winding Road”
11. “Live And Let Die”
12. “Picasso’s Last Words”
13. “Richard Cory”
14. “Bluebird”
15. “I’ve Just Seen A Face”
16. “Blackbird”
17. “Yesterday”
18. ”You Gave Me The Answer”
19. “Magneto And Titanium Man”
20. “Go Now”
21. “My Love”
22. “Listen To What The Man Said”
23. “Let ‘Em In”
24. “Time To Hide”
25. “Silly Love Songs”
26. “Beware My Love”
27. “Letting Go”
28. “Band on the Run”
29. “Hi, Hi, Hi”
30. “Soily”

Recommended Listening: Tame Impala, Lonerism

Tame Impala Lonerism

A couple of years ago, Geoffrey called me up one morning to babble enthusiastically about one of the approximately 300 bands he sees per year that he had seen the previous evening, an act he said was called Tim and Paula. “Tim and Paula,” I asked, “are they a folk duo?” G got a good laugh out of that before correcting me, “No, not Tim and Paula, Tame Impala!” And so it came to be that Tame Impala, an amazing psychedelic rock quartet from Australia, are known between Geoffrey and me now and forever as Tim and Paula. The album that turned me on to this group is called Innerspeaker, and it surely would have been among my favorite CDs of 2010 had I heard it in time for it to make that year’s list. Sadly, I was a little late to the party. Still, I’ll always be grateful to Geoffrey for hipping me to one of the best new bands I’ve heard since MGMT breathed new life into my record collection with the release of its first album. Because, seriously, the last time I heard any music that I could say even remotely reminded me of the genius of The Beatles was when I heard Radiohead’s “Karma Police.” And that was a long time ago.

Tame Impala just released its sophomore album, Lonerism, and I can assure you it is currently vying for the number one position on this year’s Top 10 CDs list. Produced by vocalist Kevin Parker and mixed by the gifted Dave Friddman (best known for his work with Mercury Rev), Lonerism serves up a swirling vortex of aural bliss. Aside from the opening track, “Be Above It” – which sounds like the well-intentioned result of Tame Impala being hired to write a self-empowering commercial jingle for a brand of sneakers, every track on Lonerism lives up to all the hype that’s been circulating for the two years since Innerspeaker fractured skulls across the globe with its brilliance.

There is so much to love about this CD that it is almost impossible to contain my squeals of ecstatic delight. “Endors Toi” sounds like “Magical Mystery Tour” with Keith Moon on drums and “Apocalypse Dreams” is the kind of song I wish they’d played at the local roller skating rink I frequented as a pre-teen. “Music to Walk Home By” – which deserves an award for its title alone – comes as close to approximating an aural representation of the physical effects of hallucinogenic drugs as the most psychedelic Pink Floyd song. Parker’s voice may owe a heavy debt to reverb and a few hits off a tank of nitrous, but he really knows how to work it. I mean, check out “Feels Like We Only Go Backwards” and tell me that the influence of John Lennon’s “Number Nine Dream” didn’t work its way in there at least subconsciously. Holy cow, what a great album.

It’s sad to think that kids today (did I really just type “kids today”?) will never know the incomparable joy of discovering a band like The Who or Queen while that band is still making new records (a joy that I got to experience first hand, having been born a million years ago), but anyone discovering Tame Impala’s Lonerism can read that sentence above and understand that hearing this album in 2012 creates, for me, a transcendent-bordering-on-religious experience comparable to how it felt listening to “Won’t Get Fooled Again” for the first time, on vinyl, back in the stone age. Album of The Year!

GRADE: A+

Tame Impala’s Lonerism is available now on Modular Recordings wherever fine music is procured.

Tame Impala 2010 Press Shot by Maciek Pozoga
Tame Impala 2012 Press Shot by Maciek Pozoga

Recommended Listening: Mike Viola, Acousto De Perfecto

Mike Viola Acousto De Perfecto CD Cover

If real musical talent – quality songwriting, musicianship, charisma – were still rewarded with popularity and financial success in the way they were back in the ‘70s, Mike Viola would be as revered as Elton John and sell out bigger concert tours than Lady Gaga. But we all know that we don’t live in that kind of world anymore, and that’s just a shame. I first fell in love with Viola’s amazing songcraft on The Candy Butcher’s 1999 release, Falling Into Place, which is as cherished by me as any Beatles album. Seriously, “Hills of LA” is what “Hotel California” might have sounded like if Lennon & McCartney had written it. What a fucking fantastic album. I think it sold a few hundred copies. There’s no accounting for taste, as the saying goes.

It’s heartening at least to know that Viola makes a good living writing, recording and producing songs for films (That Thing You Do, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Get Him to the Greek) and continuing to record original music for his core group of diehard fans, because a world without new Mike Viola music would be much less interesting to live in. Just released this past July, Viola’s latest, Acousto De Perfecto is a companion piece to 2011’s critically acclaimed Electro De Perfecto (three tracks from Electro are reworked for this collection). As the title suggests, these are acoustic arrangements that showcase Viola’s collaboration with L.A.-based violists (get it?) Eric Summer and Kate Reddish. Mike Viola proved he can rock out on many previous efforts, but these eleven songs fall into the Elvis Costello or Paul Simon School of Performing Songwriter, and I don’t think there is much higher praise than that. What makes Mike Viola such a gifted songwriter is the simple fact that, like all the greats, he writes about what he knows, yet manages to make his deeply personal lyrics universally accessible.

The album’s lead track, the lullaby “Secret Radio” is a direct love song to fans (“it’s people like you/I’ve been singing to all along”) and the upbeat, darkly humorous “Happy & Normal” reveals Viola’s predilection for thinly veiled autobiography, though all of his songs are distinctly personal. “Date Night” speaks of the enduring bond between him and his wife after many years of marriage, hinting that the spark and the commitment go hand in hand, while “Primary Care Giver” is a surprisingly laser-focused self-reflection on his approach to parenthood.

Despite the sparse instrumentation, the record sounds lush and pristine. Viola’s acoustic guitar playing is in top form here, both complimenting and anchoring the accompanying strings. The instrumental track, “Thing In C” mixes a classical feel with the essence of the string arrangements from “As Tears Go By” with compelling results. Curiously, one of the more lyrically direct tracks on the album “Closet Cutter,” (“I know just what to do with exacto blades”) also features one of the most easily extrapolated choruses (“Don’t blame your parents/ Blame the Beatles and the Rolling Stones”). Mike Viola obviously loves to surprise his audience by never doing the same thing twice, but Acousto De Perfecto continues to offer what fans have come to expect: thoughtful lyrical stories and beautiful music. Acousto De Perfecto is a must own for fans/completist collectors and also highly recommended for fans of any of the artists mentioned in this review.

Grade: A-

RIP Victor Spinetti

Victor Spinetti and Beatles
Victor Spinetti with John Lennon and Paul McCartney on the set of The Beatles’ Film, A Hard Days Night

Victor Spinetti, who was an established British film star in 1963 when he agreed to make a movie with a pop group called The Beatles died on Tuesday, June 19th, 2012 in London, of cancer. He was 82 years old. Spinetti was the only actor besides the four Beatles to appear in the films A Hard Day’s Night, Help! and Magical Mystery Tour. Read more about the life and career of Victor Spinetti at the NYTimes official obit, found at This Link.

Morrison Hotel Gallery Presents Unseen Beatles

Unseen Beatles at The Morrison Hotel Gallery
Click on Any Image to Enlarge

It is no secret that The Beatles were, and are, the greatest band ever in the Universe of all time. That said, I’m down for any exhibit of Beatles’ photographs even if I’ve already seen those same pictures a hundred million billion times. Because, The Beatles! You might think, “Gee wiz Gail, isn’t it hard to keep getting excited about The Beatles 40 years after they broke up?” But the answer would be no, no it is not.

Beatles 4 Color by Robert Whitaker
Beatles Four Color Portraits by Robert Whitaker (This Image Courtesy MH Gallery, All Other Photos By Gail)

Thanks to a really excellent plastic surgeon, former Beatle Paul McCartney still looks pretty darn good at 70, but, really, nothing on earth compares to the breathtaking gorgeousness that was Paul when he was in his twenties. Such seriously unchained hotness. It burns my retinas just to look at him. If you also enjoy looking at pictures of The Beatles you can start thanking me now for telling you about an exhibit called Unseen Beatles, which just opened at The Morrison Hotel Gallery loft in Soho. As the title would suggest, these are rare photos of the Fab Four shot by photographers Robert Whitaker and Curt Gunther around 1964. This collection includes live/performance shots, back stage shots, candid shots and portraits of The Beatles both by themselves (or sometimes with fans members of their entourage) and as a group.

Ringo Wearing Cowboy Hat Plus Paul with Harmonica

A few of my favorites are a large portrait of Ringo reading a copy of 16 Magazine (featuring a Beatles cover story), an interior car shot with Paul making a crazy “O Face” and a shot of John and Ringo with some fans outside what looks like a barn, where Ringo schools everyone on how a cowboy hat is worn. Ringo!

George Harrison and Brian Epstein on Sofa
George Harrison with Brian Epstein, John Lennon Imposter in Background

As Emerson Lake & Palmer once said “You Gotta See the Show,” but if you need further encouragement, you can view a series of selected photos from Unseen Beatles (some just for sale but not hung in the exhibit) at This Link.

Unseen Beatles, featuring The Photography of Robert Whitaker and Curt Gunther Will be on Exhibit at the Morrison Hotel Gallery Loft located at 119 Prince Street in SoHo, New York City through the end of Summer, 2012.

Ringo Reading Fan Mag

Morrison Hotel Gallery Logo with Color Beatles Group Shot