Do you love The Beatles? I sure do. I remember watching the band’s first film, A Hard Day’s Night, for the first time on a black & white TV set tucked way in a family room that we called The Den, and being totally enraptured by The Beatles charming shenanigans and totally amazing songs. I was probably five years old at the time, and by then the film was two years past its 1964 release date. Since that day, I’ve seen A Hard Day’s Night countless times on TV — either broadcast or via recorded media– but I’d never had the chance to see it on a Big Screen until Criterion hosted a press screening last month to promote the upcoming release of the newly restored 50th Anniversary edition of the film. Let me tell you, it is really something special, and sitting there in the dark theater with images of John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr all larger than life, took me right back to being that little five year old girl who was (and still is) just completely nuts about The Beatles. Continue reading The Beatles A Hard Day’s Night Gets 50th Anniversary Restoration and Re-Release!
London – June 25, 2013 – The Beatles’ second feature film, 1965’s Help!, makes its worldwide digital release debut today, exclusively on the iTunes Store (www.iTunes.com/TheBeatles). The digitally restored film and 5.1 soundtrack features iTunes Extras including a 30-minute documentary about the making of the film, memories of the cast and crew, an in-depth look at the restoration process, an outtake scene, original theatrical trailers and radio spots and detailed art, including a companion piece with an introduction by the film’s director, Richard Lester and an appreciation by Martin Scorsese.
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 & 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.
Read More After The Jump
It’s easy to take a band like The Rolling Stones for granted. They’ve been together, through various lineup changes (but surprisingly only one actual member death!), touring and recording new music since before most people reading this blog were even born. Is that some kind of record? I’m just going to say that it is. In the summer of 1978, having just released the album Some Girls, The Rolling Stones took off on a summer tour of the United States that is considered by many fans to have included the band’s best performances ever. Guitarist Ronnie Wood had been an official member of the group for just two years and the entire band – Charlie Watts included – were still at least a few years on the left side of 40. The Stones were young, they were hot, and they were an unstoppable rock force!
In fact, the awesomeness of The Rolling Stones in 1978 is a subject that takes too long to talk about, which is why you’re going to have to get your hands on the soon-to-be-released DVD, The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas, which I saw last night at a screening here in NYC. You know, I have this fun joke I like to tell where, when someone talks about going to see The Rolling Stones on their latest tour, I’ll say, “I liked the Stones back in the sixties, but not so much now that they’re in their sixties.” Hilarious! And that’s not to say that they still don’t put on a kick ass show for a bunch of dudes pushing seventy, but when they were in their prime – both musically and physically – they were the greatest live band in the world. That’s the band you’ll see in this film
By the time the Some Girls tour arrived in Texas in mid-July of 1978, the album had reached No.1 on the US charts and the single “Miss You” was all over the radio. The tour took a back to basics approach, with the band and their music very much at the forefront and little or no elaborate staging. Filmed at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth, Texas, on July 18th, this concert is typical of the tour, with The Rolling Stones delivering a raw, energetic performance in front of a crowd who are clearly out of their minds with excitement and totally into the show. Originally shot on 16mm film, the concert footage has been carefully restored and the sound remixed and re-mastered from the original multi-track tapes by award-winning music engineer Bob Clearmountain. Jagger himself admits that, “Fort Worth was an amazing night in a blistering hot July. Watching it now, the band was really intense and focused, but we were also having a blast with the fans who were really getting into the show and the new tracks from Some Girls.”
That the band were having fun is obvious from the way Jagger practically makes out with Ron Wood at various intervals, and his chemistry with Keith Richard’s is unmatched. Jagger is lucid, sober, handsome and playful. Richards looks like the ultimate rock star and although Watts and Wyman are very much relegated to the background as far as screen time goes, the Stones are tight and in sync with each other on a level that few bands today could achieve. For this recorded performance, the band – Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Bill Wyman, with various guest musicians including violin player Doug Kershaw and keyboardist Ian McLagan – performs a mix of Stones’ classics, blues numbers and Chuck Berry covers, and a good number of songs from the Some Girls LP, though sadly “Before They Make Me Run” – my favorite – is missing from the set. Highlights for me were “When the Whip Comes Down” and “Happy,” because I’ve always loved the songs were Keith sings lead, or at least tries to.
If you’re looking to find out more about the members of the band as individuals or pick up some new forbidden dirt, be aware that this is a live performance only documentary: neither backstage “down time” nor candid personal shenanigans are included. What you see them do on stage is all there is. The bonus material comes in the form of a fairly recent interview with Mick Jagger, where Mick shares his memories of different aspects of the Stones’ career at that time (as Punk Rock was just on the cusp of breaking big) the Some Girls Tour in general, and the performance in Fort Worth specifically. While there were a few dissenters (read: Dicks) at the screening I attended who were clearly bored with Jagger’s banter and restless for the Big Rock Show to begin, I found the interview to be quite fun and charming. I mean, Mick-Fucking-Jagger! The guy’s been around practically since Rock & Roll was invented! Sure, sometimes he sounds like your grandfather telling stories about how things were “back in the old days,” but mostly he’s just such a fascinating and charismatic character, you can’t even guess at what he’ll say next. And that keeps it interesting! Even if he’s forgotten how many buckets of water he threw on the audience at the end of the show (spoiler alert, sorry), he’s lived more life in 68 years than most of us could even fantasize about. Mick Jagger!
The full Set List for that night in Fort Worth is as follows:
“Let It Rock”
“All Down the Line”
“Honky Tonk Women”
“When the Whip Comes Down”
“Beast of Burden”
“Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me)”
“Far Away Eyes”
“Sweet Little Sixteen”
“Jumpin’ Jack Flash”
The Rolling Stones: Some Girls Live in Texas will be released on November 21, 2011 and can currently be pre-ordered for $10.99 (retail is $14.98) from Amazon.com at This Link.
Carl Palmer on His Massive Kit, Circa 1974 (Image Source)
Carl Palmer, drummer for Emerson, Lake & Palmer and Asia was born on this day March 20th, in 1950. Carl has a new instructional DVD out called Carl Palmer, Drum Solos which features a note-for-note transcription of the entire “Karn Evil 9” drum solo from the 1974 California Jam concert, so you know I’m looking forward to reviewing that for The Gig in upcoming weeks. Happy Birthday, Carl!