Fats Domino, Ain’t That a Shame

Domino isn’t the immediate precursor of Van Morrison’s sound, even if Van’s song is a tribute. But this clip is choice just because of the sax break and it’s pounding piano and the way the white audience is fenced off from the stage, but clearly doesn’t need to be. Clap hands.

And isn’t that Harpo Marx standing with Mannix watching? The clip is from the movie Shake Rattle and Roll, and Harpo isn’t credited.

 

Hey There, Little Stranger

Gimme Danger is finally out in a medium we can easily watch.

I streamed it for $4.99 last night on Amazon. In the beginning of the movie, it says “Amazon Studios” so this might be the only place it’s currently available.

Was it as good as advertised? Abso. Fucking. Lutely.

If anyone wants to watch it and talk about some rock ‘n’ roll, I’m here.

Lunch Break: Lynyrd Skynyrd, “Mr. Saturday Night Special”

I think I have owned up to the fact that I was never a huge Lynyrd Skynyrd fan, particularly, during the heyday of the band.

I always thought Freebird sort of silly and overindulgent, and the band did pretty much seem like a street fight version of the Allman Brothers, and I remember being in London, at my cousins Jim and Evie’s, when the news of the 1977 plane crash that killed Ronnie Van Zandt. That was on the heels of the release of the album Street Survivors which featured the band prophetically with a wall of flames behind them, and the truth is my first thoughts were about the power of karma.

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Well, except that I did indeed find the song What’s Your Name? was a  pretty funny and well executed pop song. And, over the years, as with bands  like Rush, and even the Zep, whom I was cooler on for years than the band  deserved, I have come to appreciate the Skynyrds as a pretty good and fun  band with some good chops and clever words.

But, over the last month, the SONY TV HD Channel–one of several million   it seems on my remote–a lot of documentaries about music and bands have   been showing. There was one on the Allmans, and a pretty fun one on wierd   Christmas songs that featured a lot of time with Dr. Demento, among others.

But, for some reason I taped Gone With the Wind: The Remarkable Rise and Tragic Fall of Lynyrd Skynyrdwhich clocks in at almost three hours, believe it or not.

And, the film was more than engaging, highlighting not just the band, but in particular the driven Ronnie Van Zandt, the brains and driving force behind the group, who it seems was hardly a thug.

In fact, Van Zandt seemed to have been disciplined and focused beyond all belief, as the film reveals. He learned to be a pretty good singer, and truly was a solid enough songwriter, and, well, if nothing else, his band was a lot of fun. They were also a monster triple guitar attack band, although it seems improvising was not within the realm of the group.

I do recommend the film though: interesting, engaging, and well fun watching a lot of stoners reminisce.  For a sample, how out Mr. Saturday Night Special. Tell, me though: is it pro gun, or anti? Van Zandt was fabulous at these vagaries.

Film Review: Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years

Ron Howard is a master cinematic storyteller, for sure, but not someone with much interest in complexity or ambiguity. Which can be good for storytelling, but for me usually comes up wanting. I like the messy, the complicated, the things that make you say oh.

screenshot-2016-10-04-23-04-32I was curious about this picture, but would have let it slide, or ride, but friends invited me and my daughter wanted to go. So we went to Greenwich Village for some fine wood-fired brick oven Neapolitan pizza and Ron Howard’s joint, plus the promise of the whole Beatles at Shea Stadium film, remastered visually and auditorily using all the modern tricks.

The movie is a gas. The camera is up close on the Beatles and their fans through the 28 Days Later rush of Beatlemania, during the charge of concerts around the globe, and headlong up to the show at Shea Stadium. These guys, when they were young, ambitious and full of energy, were terrific cutups. And then it stays up close through the despair that followed the exhaustion that came after, when cutups transformed into turnoffs.

As I had expected, I felt as if I’d seen most of this footage before, but all of it was delightful, looked fantastic, and there are some revelations (for me anyway):

Early footage of some English shows in 1963 are fantastic and transforming. This wasn’t just a group of clever songwriters and melody makers, with winning personalities, but a hard rocking band. Ringo pounds on his kit, and the Beatles deliver with equal and transformative energy. Great songs, but also tight and terrific arrangements and wickedly and aggressively good playing.

McCartney, mostly, and Lennon, too, from old interviews, talk about their songwriting, and the need to hew to a schedule to put out a new single every three months, and an album every six months. The studio footage and tales, plus the clips from all the live shows they’re doing, and movies they’re making, really dial up the grueling nature of it all.

At one point Lennon talks about how silly the lyrics are in those early albums, really just placeholders while they worked on the music. Which seems like a throwaway, since so many are so clever and perfect to the form, until, later, he and McCartney talk about the personal content that John weaves into the lyrics of Help!, a song that to me has always seemed a novelty tied to the movie of the same name. But of course not!

I always forget what a cutup George was, even when I consider the hilarity of his film producing career. I mean, Withnail and I? This movie confirms he’s funny and serious, too.

I assume there will be a follow up, a sequel. Maybe Blue Jay Way: The Studio Years, but more likely Strawberry Fields Forever: The Studio Years, which will go further into the making of the last five elpees. That will no doubt be an equal treat. But the takeaway here is that the Beatles were really great, in a way that has no match, and we would be fools to forget about even a part of that greatness.

Ron Howard’s movie is a crowd pleaser, and lives up to that not modest ambition. Go and enjoy.

Everybody Wants Some!!

Richard Linklater made a movie called Dazed and Confused, after the Led Zeppelin song, about high school kids partying on the last day of school. His new movie is called Everybody Wants Some!!, after the Van Halen song, about college kids partying on the first day of school.

Like most Linklater films there is lots of chatter. In this case the bros in the movie are members of the best collegiate baseball team in Texas, and they talk about sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll, as well as much else, as they compete in everything they do.

I haven’t seen Dazed and Confused in a long time, so I won’t compare the two movies. What I can say for sure is that Everybody Wants Some!! is warm and funny and exuberant, brilliant and surprisingly deep in an offhanded and precise way (with beer and a bong). Highly recommended.

Plus, it got me to hear My Sharona with fresh ears. Not bad.

Funny: Crazy Keyboards

It is crazy draft season in the Fantasy Baseball world, which I guess my mates and I have been preoccupied with, meaning less rock’n’roll verbiage, I am sorry to say.

I had been thinking about a handful of songs to post about, but this morning I was getting my teeth cleaned and some lovely early 20th Century English classical music–a la Ralph Vaughn-Williams–came on. It was pretty soothing, but was followed by some pretty frantic piano concertos by Chopin.

Julie, who was cleaning my choppers, noted the change was not so gentle, but when I think of classical pianists, my brain goes elsewhere.

I am sure that though my parents did drag me to to the symphony and opera way too early (I was five my first symphony) my first real conscious memory of classical music comes from the great early Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies that often employed great classical pieces when telling a story.

However, the first such images that popped into my aging head were from films, first, out of the great Robert Zemeckis’ film Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which somehow manages to merge animation with action, with film noir and said Looney Tunes.

The great late Bob Hoskins plays the shamus Eddie Valliant, who tries to unravel the mystery of cartoon death and conspiracy, and his work takes the detective to the “Ink and Paint Club,” where this fantastic sequence takes place (it features one of the best one-liners ever with Daffy Duck making a definitive statement about working with the disabled).

But, the other piano craw that sticks is always Chico Marx. Groucho and Harpo were much more screen hogs than Chico, but Chico was a wicked punster and straight man, and like Harpo could play the harp, and Groucho the guitar and ukelele, Chico could tinkle the 88’s.

As in check this out. Brilliant. Funny. Wonderful.

 

 

For Gene

At Foley’s Saturday night, Gene remarked that it’s too bad no one ever did a rockin’ cover of Hippy Hippy Shake. I was shocked that he had somehow bypassed the Georgia Satellites doing that very thing in 1988.

Was gonna just send it to Gene but, what the heck, why not post it since we’re not exactly swimming in content lately (especially from me)?

Wiki tells me the song has also been covered by others, including The Beatles and Mud.

Here’s the video, which I now recall was a feature of that lame-o 80’s classic Cocktail. Lots of hot 80’s chicks in high-waisted jeans who are probably looking pretty rough these days.

Cool points for clocking in at less than two minutes.

Mastodon, Blood and Thunder

I don’t listen to that much metal, of any type. It would have suited my 15 year old head, but didn’t exist them (as far as I knew). Deep Purple filled that space a year or two later.

So, I saw the movie the Big Short today. It’s a fun and energetic telling of the story of the 2008 worldwide financial meltdown, with goofy period costumes (a la American Hustle), and lots of music, a la Scorcese and his imitators.

It also has Christian Bale playing an autistic genius MD with a thirst for metal. And a need to drum when things go bad. Almost all the writing and acting in the movie is on the mark, but Bale (as he often does) is above and beyond, not only chewing the scenery but making you (me) believe it needs to be chewed. That is, unostentatious ostentation.

I don’t listen to much metal, but one of the metal bands I like is called Mastodon, and they’re in the movie. Which is a good excuse to revisit this one. (And go see the movie. It is actually fun, and if you aren’t mad about the financial industry and government, you should be, with blood and thunder!)

 

Rubble Kings: a movie

Gene and I lived in New York in the late 70s, and I can say I was shaped by the decay and civil breakdown of that time. Ford to City Drop Dead made loyalists of us all. I’m reading Garth Risk Hallberg’s massive novel, City on Fire, which takes place in New York in 1977. So far–I’m only 250 pages in–the punk scene is his focus, but in those years, in the Bronx, another Do It Yourself movement was taking shape. Today we call it Hip Hop.

This bit about a movie called Rubble Kings makes the case that the gang summit in The Warriors was a real event, and the peace that followed (in the real world) is what created the culture that helped Hip Hop grow.

I don’t know about that history, I was downtown, but what I do know is that the music coming out of the South Bronx was as captivating as that percolating in the East Village. Here’s a trailer for the movie Rubble Kings, which surely looks like its worth a peak.