Adam Schlesinger, best known to most music fans as a member of the power pop band, Fountains of Wayne lost his life on April 1st of this year at the age of 52. One of the first musicians taken from us by the Corona Virus pandemic, Adam’s death is an immeasurable loss. In addition to founding Fountains of Wayne with Chris Collingwood, Schlesinger was a gifted and prolific songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist who also recorded with electro-pop trio Ivy and ‘supergroup’ Tinted Windows (with Bun E. Carlos, James Iha and Taylor Hanson). Offstage, he had an impressive career writing music for film and television. I first met Adam in 1995, when I interviewed Fountains of Wayne during the press cycle for its debut album, and over the years I would see him occasionally at parties and industry events. He was a nice guy and an unbelievable talent. Everybody loved Adam.
If you get 20 seconds into this week’s awesome Video Clip and suspect that you may be watching an outtake from This is Spinal Tap, you are not to blame. The tristate area band Tragedy started out as a heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees, but they have now expanded their repertoire to include a wider variety of classic pop acts, and that’s just good news for everyone. Today we feature the video for Tragedy’s metalized performance of “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In,” a song from the legendary Broadway musical Hair, which was popularized in a 1969 single release by The 5th Dimension. Wikipedia confirms that this song, which is actually a medley of two songs from the play, was one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide, but the lyrical message of “Aquarius” — about welcoming an age of love, light, and humanity — is more important at this moment than maybe ever before in our lifetimes.
Visually, this video is a straight-up, fully stylized band performance intercut with a few thematically appropriate cosmic visual effects and a brief modern dance interlude featuring a pair of blonde babes, to keep it very theatrical and visually engaging throughout. And as much as I wish that the drummer would put on a shirt, I respect the fact that he is fully immersed in his art. Aurally, Tragedy stay faithful to the song’s original arrangement while rocking hard enough to crack a skull. Even the most devoted head bangers will give the horns up on this one.
“Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In” is part of the just-release album Tragedy Goes to the Movies, featuring metal-injected takes on music from cinema classics such as Grease, 007 Skyfall, Hair, and Star Wars: Return of The Jedi, which can be procured at This Link. The Tragedy Goes To The Movies World Tour kicked off on February 22nd, 2019, for stops in the UK, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Germany and all across the US. Consult the Google for tour dates! Enjoy!
For Beatles fans who crave an authentic performance experience of the group’s expansive catalog of music, there is certainly no shortage of grand scale productions, which range from Rain and Let it Be on Broadway to 1964 The Tribute – an act that regularly sells out Carnegie Hall. But for fans who maintain a keen interest in the life and post-Beatles career of John Lennon specifically, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion offers something completely different.
Now in evening and matinee performances at the Union Square Theater, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, is an intimate, two-man show featuring esteemed actor and singer John R. Waters and accompanist Stewart D’Arrietta, which originally saw sell-out tours in the duo’s native Australia. While there are no dazzling lights, clever sets, informative backdrops or special effects to bolster this very stripped down production, what you get is a heartfelt acoustic performance (guitar and piano – and D’Arrietta’s piano playing is quite excellent) of a selection of over thirty of John Lennon’s best and most autobiographical songs – both written with Paul McCartney while in The Beatles, and written and recorded by Lennon as a solo artist.
Tying the musical numbers together is Water’s biographical narrative of John Lennon’s often traumatic youth and tumultuous adulthood, the ups and down of which are punctuated and fleshed out by songs he wrote at that time. Although Water’s speaking voice is appealingly similar to Lennon’s, his (often quite gravelly) singing voice is not, so don’t expect the “close your eyes and imagine it is really him” effect that you can get with so many tributes. Through a Glass Onion is really more like watching two hardcore John Lennon fans perform his songs and talk about his life in a pub setting. This may or may not be your thing, so just know what you are walking into ahead of time.
In order to fit thirty songs into a 90-minute run time, many of the songs are performed as excerpts of various lengths, but you get the idea. Likewise, some liberty is taken with traditional arrangements, which finds “Help!” – one of The Beatles‘ most exhilarating anthems – performed almost as a dirge. Sometimes the alternative arrangements work and other times not so much.
It’s also unclear how much of the biographical information is simply improvised or creatively extrapolated based on various facts but, again, it is easy to imagine that Waters is speaking as Lennon and the story all comes together. As an aside, fans seeking more information about John Lennon’s life as a child and teenager, including the not-very-happy story about his relationship with his mother Julia – which had such a profound influence on so many of his songs — might be better served by the 2009 film, Nowhere Boy. You can find it on Netflix.
An added note about the venue, for those who’ve not yet been to the Union Square Theater, is that you are in for treat in this pristinely maintained, old school theater where every very comfy seat offers optimal viewing, so you don’t have to stretch your ticket buying budget to get the best seat in the house. The theater is also conveniently located three blocks uptown from the Union Square subway hub and is within blocks of dozens of excellent restaurants — so you can plan a night of it!
Lennon: Through a Glass Onion will run through February 22nd, 2015 at the Union Square Theater, located at 100 East 17th Street (Between Park Ave South and Irving Place), New York, NY 10003. Visit Lennon Onstage Dot Com for more information about the show, to get show times and to purchase tickets!
Wow, what could be a more fitting and fantastic tribute to the late great actress, Karen Black (who passed away on August 8th, 2013) than this video of her singing the song “Brighter” accompanied by guitarist Cass McCombs, who’s playing his guitar before a montage of her film clips? Even better, the video was directed by the Black’s husband, director Stephen Eckelberry. Wow.
Eckelberry explains how the video came about. “Cass emailed me in late November 2013 and asked if I would create a music video for ‘Brighter!’ – the song he recorded with Karen in December 2012 – using classic clips from her movies. It struck me as an opportunity to explore a theme that interests me – the relationship of film and memory. We watch a movie and the images from that movie become part of our memory stream.
My own memories of Karen are intertwined with memories of her in films – since I directed several movies she was in – which memory is stronger; Karen during the making the film or what ended up on screen? An image came to me: Cass himself becoming a screen for the projection of images of Karen – as if his memories of her were playing themselves out over his body.”
“Brighter” is featured on McCombs’s latest album, Big Wheel And Others and I think it’s just a fantastic track, and such a nice remembrance of Karen. Enjoy!
Cass McCombs and Karen Black (Image Source)