Friday, February 5, 2016

Lost In The Rain In Juarez

Albert Finney in John Huston's adaptation of Malcom Lowry's Under The Volcano-1984

I really like these new videos that Dylan's people have been doing for his The Cutting Edge 1965 - 1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12 - and love this early version of "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" which might be my favorite Dylan song, along with "Visions of Johanna".  The six cd vol. 12 set is expensive (you can go for the 2 cd or vinyl or just download what you like) but I think the six cd's are worth it (the 18 cd set is a bit too much) to hear so many of the different feels that were attempted as the songs took shape in the studio. And especially the way Dylan honed his lyrics and phrasing over these multiple takes. Note the shot of Francoise Hardy with Dylan in the video below.


From November 23, 1968 Rolling Stone Interview with John Lennon

Jonathan Cott: Do you ever see Dylan anymore?


John Lennon: No, cause he's living his cozy little life, doing that bit. If I was in New York, he'd be the person I'd most like to see. I've grown up enough to communicate with him. Both of us were always uptight, you know, and of course I wouldn't know whether he was uptight, because I was so uptight, and then when he wasn't uptight, I was – all that bit. But we just sat it out because we just liked being together.
Still from the opening title sequence of Under the Volcano created by Huston's son Danny

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

September 28, 1968- The Byrds on Playboy After Dark



Fall 1968-Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman are gone but McGuinn carries on fueled by the innovative guitar work of Clarence White. It's funny to see Hugh Hefner attempt to chat with a taciturn Roger McGuinn. McGuinn looks sharp though, especially for 1968, clean shaven with short hair and an olive green suit with epaulets and tie. The video sound gets a bit jumpy in places on the first version so I've also included a second which doesn't have that problem but is shorter and looks different color wise. Either way this is a tight performance from a band that was finally beginning to find its feet as a live act- a great document of a short period in the Byrds long and ever changing career. P.S.-The dancing was always like this on Playboy After Dark such were the times!

 

Monday, January 11, 2016

No Happy Endings- Ang Lee's The Ice Storm


I recently bought the Criterion edition of Ang Lee's The Ice Storm. I hadn't seen the movie since the late 90's when I watched it on VHS. I remember being profoundly moved by it at the time, but wasn't sure how I would like it 17 odd years later. I was sick with the flu at the time of my first viewing, and the mood of the film seemed to strangely mimic the way I felt. I found myself completely engrossed, almost hypnotized while viewing it. It was a good flick to watch while laid up with the flu.
So it was interesting to revisit the movie after so many years and I have to say it really holds up well and still maintains a hypnotic atmosphere that I have rarely encountered in other films (The American Friend is another such film and is also set to be released by Criterion tomorrow). But I've also gained a whole new appreciation for The Ice Storm, as I relate to the film differently now as a middle aged guy without children or a wife than I did in my late 20's when I was still young enough to remember my prep school years and identify with the Toby Maguire character.

This lack of strong identification with any of the characters (along with the clarity of the Criterion presentation) allowed me to appreciate more objectively the beautiful look (all those crystalline reflective and transparent surfaces), structure and sound of the film and how they worked together creating a perfect harmony between the performances of the actors, the cinematography, and the score- each adding and reinforcing the strengths of the others.  It's a beautiful film to look at and the Criterion disc more than does it justice.
Paul Hood reading The Fantastic Four on the train-note duct tape on top-siders-kids did this in the 80's too with shoes they liked and didn't want to part with.

When you think about it, it's not easy to keep from just wandering out of life. It's like someone's always leaving the door open to the next world, and if you aren't paying attention you could just walk through it, and then you've died. That's why in your dreams it's like you're standing in that doorway... and the dying people and the newborn people pass by you... and brush up against you as they come in and out of the world during the night. You get spun around, and in the morning... it takes a while to find your way back into the world.  Paul Hood-The Ice Storm
The Ice Storm ends with a song by David Bowie (R.I.P.)  called "I Can't Read" which plays over the closing credits.  Ang Lee states in the commentary that Bowie loved the film and I believe recorded the song specifically for the movie.


The Ice Storm, with its background of Nixon's downfall, also reminds me of Neil Young's "The Campaigner" a moving and empathic song.


The American Friend-Another hypnotic masterpiece set for release this week by Criterion.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Ain't It Hard & Nobody's Lover-1965/1966


Two mid-sixties favorites from Roger Tillison, both can be found on Sundazed's compilation Ain't It Hard.



Friday, December 11, 2015

Christopher Maclaine-All Exits Covered-1953


Below you will find the first part of San Francisco Beat filmmaker Christopher Maclaine's darkly humorous short film The End from 1953. Unfortunately only the first part is posted. Search his films out it's worth the effort. The End is included in its 35 minute entirety in this highly recommended anthology.  There's not much info about Maclaine on the internet the best piece is this one by Fred Camper.




Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Stuck Inside Of Texas With The French Blues Again



This is a re-post of a favorite mix from 2012, in revisiting it I find that it achieves the coherency and impact that I reach for when creating mixes, that is the individual songs though important, are just pieces in a larger narrative, which should hang together and have greater impact when taken as a whole. The songs interact, comment on and speak with one another, ultimately providing a larger thematic experience. That's the goal at least. I don't care a whit about impressing anyone with obscurities or turning anyone on to new music, though if I do, great! My aim is to tell a story, to create a sustained mood or atmosphere through the precise arrangement of preexisting songs.  

1. HIROSHIMA MON AMOUR- GIOVANNI FUSCO
2. SINS OF A FAMILY- P.F. SLOAN
3. CAN YOU PLEASE CRAWL OUT YOUR WINDOW- BOB DYLAN
4. THAT'S RIGHT BABY- MARIANNE FAITHFULL
5. WALTZ FOR A PIG-GRAHAM BOND ORGANIZATION
6. WHY DON'T YOU SMILE NOW- THE ALL-NIGHT WORKERS
7. SHE WEAVES A TENDER TRAP- CHOCOLATE WATCHBAND
8. DOWN DISMAL WAYS- SANDIE SHAW
9. SEE DAWN- BOBBY JAMESON
10. COCONUT GROVE-THE LOVIN' SPOONFUL
11. THE GIRLS IN PARIS- LEE HAZLEWOOD
12. STRIP-TEASE- NICO
13. SCHOOL GIRL- THE STANDELLS
14. GIRL DON'T TELL ME- THE BEACH BOYS
15 IT'S ONLY LOVE- THE BEATLES
16. PLEASE PLEASE ME- THE SCORE
17. LA MAISON OU J'AI GRANDI-FRANCOISE HARDY
18. LEAVING IT UP TO YOU- DON GRADY
19. YOU JUST MAY BE THE ONE- THE MONKEES
20. HOUSE UN-AMERICAN BLUES ACTIVITY DREAM-RICHARD & MIMI FARINA
21. BA-DE-DA- FRED NEIL
22. LOVE MINUS ZERO- THE WALKER BROTHERS
23.UNDERSTANDING- THE SMALL FACES
24. IF YOU GOTTA GO, GO NOW- BOB DYLAN
25. DARK IN MY HEART- LEE HAZLEWOOD
26. PLACES, TIMES AND THE PEOPLE- BOBBY JAMESON
27. POCKETFUL OF RAINBOWS- ELVIS PRESLEY



Wednesday, December 2, 2015

People Just Get Uglier And I Have No Sense Of Time


From the spring of 1966 here's the infamous intoxicated taxi ride starring Bob Dylan and John Lennon, filmed by D.A. Pennebaker and Bobby Neuwirth. Fascinating for those interested in the music and cult of personality of the swinging 1960's (is this freedom rock!??).  Dylan, who considered John a peer, rival and a friend (of sorts), is well into his mid-60's freeze out/mind games period and is obviously trying to vibe Lennon out the car, but is a little too high to pull it off. Lennon appears slightly taken back and maybe a bit intimidated by Bob's sloppy intoxication and vitriol, but still comes across sharp with an almost Peter Sellers like presence and gift for voice impersonation. Obviously they are both playing to the camera to a certain extent and one would hope that interactions in private (i.e. no camera) would be more relaxed and friendly, though contemporaneous behind the scenes stories indicate that this was basically Bob's M.O. for interacting with others in this period.

There are lots of interesting references and subtexts- Dylan mentioning irritably how when he played one of his recent records for the Beatles John said it sounded like a Northern Song (the Beatles publishing company) a reference that Bob didn't understand till later, which is almost assuredly related to his "Norwegian Wood" parody "4th Time Around" and Bobby Neurwirth does a quick comical impersonation of a BBC broadcaster quoting a section captured on film for Don't Look Back. For you trainspotters there are also references to Ronald Colman, Sleepy John Estes, Johnny Cash, Mick Jagger, Rob Roy, Bobby "Eve of Destruction" McGuire, The Good Guys (DJ's), Sherwood Forest, Friar Tuck and Mama Cass (referred to as "the big chick, she's got you too!") who reportedly had a crush on John.

Dylan even brings up the Silkie(s) a now somewhat forgotten band for whom John had produced a rather nice cover of "You've Got To Hide Your Love Away" in 1965. Probably another dig from Zimmy about his influence on John's songwriting and who was or was not more affiliated with the "folk rock-a-boom". I think the rest of the Silkie's album consisted of Dylan covers which lends credence to Dylan's feeling that Hide Your Love Away was, at least on the surface, just another in a line of Dylan knock-offs from John, a charge I think that John acknowledged to some extent.  The others songs being, in Dylan's mind at least, "I'm A Loser" and "Norwegian Wood" hence his 4th Time Around and the line "I never asked for your crutch, now don't ask for mine".  It's hard to hear more than a subtle influence nowadays, perhaps because the influence of both was and would continue to be so pervasive in pop music, but I guess at the time it seemed egregious to Dylan's paranoid and competitive mind.

Watching this footage makes it clear why Dylan had to find an excuse to get off the road and off drugs- which by this point had become hard- mainly speed with alcohol and junk to come down. But Dylan still gets some good lines in like "I wish I could talk English man" and "we've got baseball games, we've got all night t.v., I come from the land of paradise man!"-"Sounds great" Lennon replies in a deadpan Northern accent and the car drives on.  I imagine in some parallel universe (or circle of hell if you find it all rather tedious) this car ride is still going on. "Mona tried to tell me.............



Jonathan Cott: What did you think of Dylan's "version" of "Norwegian Wood"? ("Fourth time around")?

John Lennon: I was very paranoid about that. I remember he played it to me when he was in London. He said, what do you think? I said, I don't like it. I didn't like it. I was very paranoid. I just didn't like what I felt I was feeling – I thought it was an out and out skit, you know, but it wasn't. It was great. I mean he wasn't playing any tricks on me. I was just going through the bit.