Grateful Dead – Don’t Ease Me In

I first noticed this song on the concert film The Festival Express a few years ago. I’ve heard the two studio versions but that live version is the one I like best. It’s something about it I really connect to. Garcia and Weir sound great singing together along with Pigpen playing the harmonica. It’s just a simple blues-type song but it works well for me anyway.

As soon as I heard it I took one of my acoustic guitars off the wall and kept running back the video file back and playing with them…I didn’t think they would mind.

This song was first released by the Dead in 1966 as their first single with Stealin on the flip side. That version is good and it reminds me of the band Them…not the voice but the music. They also released it again on their Go To Heaven album in 1980 but that version to me is a little too slick. The version on Festival Express shows all the ragged edges in the best way. It is pure Americana. They would do it live many times later on but I still go back to the Festival version.

They also covered it before they were the Grateful Dead. They started off as a jug band called Mother McCrees Uptown Jug Champions and most likely covered it when they were called the Warlocks.

They might have heard the version of the song by Henry Thomas…an old blues artist that lived from 1874 to around 1930. If you want to learn more in detail about Thomas and this song go here to Jim’s site. It also sounds close to a song by Jelly Roll Morton called Don’t You Leave Me Here. On the Go To Heaven album, it’s credited to “traditional arranged by The Grateful Dead.” The single that was released in 1966 was credited to Garcia but I’ve read where he didn’t authorize that and didn’t ask for a credit.

Speaking of the Festival Express…it was The Transcontinental Pop Festival… better known as the Festival Express. Great idea on paper… rounding up musicians in 1970 and placing them on a train going across Canada and stopping along the way to play festivals. What could go wrong? Actually, I would have loved to have been on that train. The lineup: The Band, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, Buddy Guy Blues Band, The Fly Burrito Brothers, Sha Na Na, and Delaney & Bonnie & Friends.

There were artists that were not in the film like Traffic, Ten Years After, Tom Rush, Ian & Sylvia, Mountain, and more.

A DVD was released of this in 2004. All these musicians were on a train full of liquor and an assortment of drugs… liquor was the popular choice among the musicians on this ride. The tour was to have events in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Montreal event was canceled as was Vancouver. In Toronto, protesters were saying the festival promoters were price gouging so The Grateful Dead played a free concert in a park nearby to ease tensions with the protesters.

When watching the film you can see the performers are having a ball jamming with each other because they didn’t get a lot of chances to do that on the road.

Here is the link to the full movie free on youtube…if you have time…it’s worth it!

Bill Kreutzmann (drummer for the Dead): We celebrated Janis Joplin’s birthday at the last stop the traditional way: with birthday cake. In keeping with our own kind of tradition, somebody—within our ranks, I would imagine—had secretly infused the cake with a decent amount of LSD. So it quickly became an electric birthday celebration. Allegedly, some generous pieces of that birthday cake made it to the hands and mouths of the local police who were working the show. “Let them eat cake!” (To be fair, I didn’t have anything to do with that … I was just another cake-eating birthday reveler, that night.)
And that was it for the Festival Express. It was a wonderful time and I think what really made it great was the level of interaction and camaraderie among the musicians, day and night, as we were all trapped on this train careening across the great north. It probably helped that we were all trashed the entire time. Whiskey was in the conductor’s seat on that ride.

I would recommend getting the DVD of this event. It’s a great time capsule of that time in music and culture.

Don’t Ease Me In

Don’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me in

I was standing on the corner, talking to Miss Brown
When I turned around, sweet mama, she was way across town
So I’m walking down the street, with a dollar in my hand
I’ve been looking for a woman, sweet mama, ain’t got no manDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inThe girl I love, she’s sweet and true
You know the dress she wears, sweet mama, it’s pink and blue
She brings me coffee, you know she brings me tea
She brings about every damn thing, but the jailhouse keyDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me inDon’t ease, don’t ease, don’t ease me in
I’ve been all night long coming home, don’t ease me in

Talking to Miss Brown
Well I turned around, sweet moma
She was way cross town

So I’m walking down the street
With a dollar in my hand
I’ve been looking for a woman, sweet moma
Ain’t got no man

The girl I love
She’s sweet and true
You know the dress she wears, sweet moma
It’s pink and blue

She brings me coffee
You know she brings me tea
She brings ’bout every damn thing
But the jailhouse key

Hollywood (1980)

If you have the slightest bit of interest in documentaries or in silent movies, this is the series to watch. Not only is it a great wealth of info on the silent era…it’s one of the best documentaries I’ve ever watched. It is made up of 13 different one-hour sections. It’s quite a series at 676 minutes.

All of these are on youtube. I have them listed at the bottom… just click on the links I gave. If a link doesn’t work…just copy the title of the episode on youtube and it will show up. If you want to watch a couple give it a try…I would suggest Episode 8: Comedy – A Serious Business and Episode 12: Star Treatment (The Great Stars Of The Silent Films).

There is one misconception about silent films that most have. When you think of a silent film what do you think of? Some people think of the hard-to-see Keystone cops running about like they snorted Peru… that is NOT what most silent films looked like. They played at normal speed and the cinematography was breathtaking in many of them. They are as clear as any movie you will watch if the print has been taken care of or restored.

Kevin Brownlow's Outstanding 1980 Documentary Miniseries HOLLYWOOD is  Online | Austin Film Society

There was a problem with some prints after the silent era. The holes in the film were at a different gauge for the then-modern film projectors and they played them fast and transferred them fast…that meant everything was sped up.

This documentary is to the Silent Era what Ken Burns Civil War doc is to the Civil War. It starts with the pioneers of the movies to the very end when sound took over and changed and some people say ruined an art form. When movies were silent…they were international…no need for translations…just different text. The sound changed all of that and silent movies were at their height.

You get to know the great directors, actors, actresses, cameramen, stuntmen, and movie moguls.

They interviewed these ladies and gentlemen in the late seventies and it was many of their last appearances on film before they passed away. I’m thankful that Kevin Brownlow got this finished and we now have first-hand knowledge of films’ most exciting eras.

I do wish sound pictures would have been held off a few years. The studios weren’t ready for talking pictures. The first “talky” pictures were clumsy and still. The mics had to be placed in flower vases and other stationary places. The silent artists perfected the art of pantomime. Most had great quality (especially in the 20s) that looked better than movies 40 years later. One problem was with the early transfers from the films…now with Criterion and others cleaning up the transfers…we can watch these beautiful movies the way they were intended.

Just like today, you had your formula movies and your great movies. In my opinion, I think the best genre of silent movies is comedies. Not Keystone Cops…they are more like cartoons than films. For me, it would be Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. They both had some of the most subtle and genius gags. Many of their gags have been copied to this day. There were others like Harry Langdon and Harold Lloyd that were popular.

I know it’s a big task BUT…if you like documentaries or silent movies…this series is worth it! Every episode is out there on youtube.

Critically Acclaimed: We've Got Mail #10 | Buster Keaton vs. Charlie  Chaplin!

Here are the different episodes.

Episode 1: Pioneers (Groundbreakers Of Film)

Episode 2: In The Beginning (Birth Of Cinema)

Episode 3: Single Beds And Double Standards (Censorhip) 

Episode 4: Hollywood Goes To War (World War I)

Episode 5: Hazard Of The Game (Stunts And Stuntmen) 

Episode 6: Swanson & Valentino (The 2 Great Hearthrobs Of The Silent Films)

Episode 7: Autocrats (The Great Directors) 

Episode 8: Comedy – A Serious Business

Episode 9: Out West (Westerns) 

Episode 10: The Man With The Megaphone (The Evolution Of Directors)

Episode 11: Trick Of The Light (The Cameraman) 

Episode 12: Star Treatment (The Great Stars Of The Silent Films)

Episode 13: End Of An Era (The Birth Of Talking Pictures)

Clara Bow - Hollywood Star Walk - Los Angeles Times

This is the 12th episode and it is about two people…John Gilbert and Clara Bow. Clara Bow is my favorite actress of all time…and yes that includes today.

The cast listing is below the video.

Actors

  • Mary Astor
  • Eleanor Boardman
  • Louise Brooks
  • Olive Carey
  • Iron Eyes Cody
  • Jackie Coogan
  • Dolores Costello
  • Viola Dana
  • Douglas Fairbanks Jr.
  • Janet Gaynor
  • Leatrice Joy
  • Lillian Gish
  • Bessie Love
  • Ben Lyon
  • Marion Mack
  • Tim McCoy
  • Colleen Moore
  • Charles ‘Buddy’ Rogers
  • Gloria Swanson
  • Blanche Sweet
  • John Wayne
  • Eva von Berne
  • Lois Wilson

Directors 

  • Dorothy Arzner
  • Clarence Brown
  • Karl Brown
  • Frank Capra
  • George Cukor
  • Allan Dwan
  • Byron Haskin
  • Henry Hathaway
  • Henry King
  • Lewis Milestone
  • Hal Roach
  • Albert S. Rogell
  • King Vidor
  • William Wyler.

Choreographer: Agnes de Mille,

Writer: Anita Loos,

Writer: Adela Rogers St. Johns,

Press Agent/writer: Cedric Belfrage,

Organist: Gaylord Carter,

Cinematographers: George J. Folsey, Lee Garmes and Paul Ivano,

Writer:  Jesse L. Lasky, Jr.,

Special Effects Artist A. Arnold Gillespie, Lord Mountbatten

Agent Paul Kohner

Producer/writer Samuel Marx

Editors William Hornbeck and Grant Whytock

Property Pan: Lefty Hough

Stuntmen Bob Rose, Yakima Canutt: Paul Malvern, and Harvey Parry, Rudolph Valentino’s brother Alberto Valentino

English set Designer Laurence Irving

Bob Dylan – Eat The Document

This is a film I so wish they would clean up and release. I watched a bootleg version of it in the 80s VHS. 

This was a film that covered Bob Dylan on his 1966 European tour backed up by the Hawks that eventually became The Band minus, Levon Helm. The film was to be shown on ABC television but ABC rejected and saying it was “incomprehensible” because Dylan himself was one of the editors and wanted the film to have more of an artistic feel.

It was filmed by D.A. Pennebaker who filmed Dylan’s 65 European tour when he played acoustically called Don’t Look Back. Don’t Look Back is terrific. This film is very disjointed. That is not saying I don’t like it. This is the Dylan period that probably is my favorite. The Hawks are raw and powerful and Dylan was

There are some highlights to this odd film. A spontaneous piano duet with Dylan and Johnny Cash, John Lennon and Bob Dylan very high riding around in a cab, and the famous concert where an audience member yells out “Judas” because of Dylan’s conversion to electric music. After the Judas remark, he proceeds to tell Robbie Robertson to play it loud and they kick off in a vicious “Like a Rolling Stone.” My favorite live version of that song. Those folk music fans were harsh.

The film is disjointed and frustrating to watch because some of the songs you want to see and hear are there…but only partly. You will be seeing Dylan performing something and then flash away to something else. Some of the concert footage and film from this ended up in the Martin Scorsese movie No Direction Home…I would recommend No Direction Home to everyone.

Bob was pale and nervous and there is no secret he was doing drugs heavily throughout this movie. After the tour, Dylan had a motorcycle wreck heard around the world and after he recovered he didn’t tour for years.

The cab ride with John Lennon is historical now. Both of them in sunglasses and Lennon trying to inject humor into the situation and Dylan is ok at first and then starts getting sick as the filming stops.

If you are a Dylan fan it’s worth a watch. I’m glad we have “No Direction Home” to see some clear film segments on that tour. Eat The Document has not been officially released but you can get a bootleg of it or watch most of it on youtube.

Beatles Rooftop Concert at IMAX

My son Bailey bought us tickets to see The Beatles rooftop concert in the IMAX theater on Friday night. If you get a chance to do this…do it. It sounds like you are there listening live. It lasts around 1:30 minutes. They added a brief Beatles history and a little followup after the performance.

They played on the freezing  rooftop of Apple Records on January 6, 1969. It was the first time they played in front of an audience since August 29, 1966. You could see the breath of people on the roof and in the street. It is not easy playing in cold weather. Your fingers freeze and you cannot feel the strings. It’s a wonder their guitars didn’t go out of tune more.

It was clear that the Beatles could have toured like their peers The Stones, Led Zeppelin, and The Who and sounded every bit as good. They were very raw and earthy sounding because of the type of songs they were writing at the time. Songs that could be played live, not the Sgt Peppers experimental music. The songs linked to the style of the White Album.

They had just written these songs and rehearsed them that month so the songs were new to them except One After 909. John and Paul wrote that one when they were teenagers. It’s hard to believe how young they were at the time. None of them were thirty but they had packed a lot of living in their years being The Beatles.

John Lennon was normally a rhythm guitar player but he plays the lead on Get Back and you can tell he enjoyed stepping up and doing that. They would complete one more album after this…and that was Abbey Road. That is called going out on top.

To see them in an IMAX theater was amazing. It looked like it was recorded yesterday…not 53 years ago. I’ve seen the Get Back documentary twice but it’s nothing like seeing the concert at a theater…it changes the dynamics of it…plus IMAX just makes it that much better.

It would have been interesting to see them play in a more controlled enviroment but I’m glad we got this. Right after John Lennon said ” I’d like to say thank you on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we pass the audition.”…someone in the theater shouted out…”You most certainly did John”

That about sums it up.

….

Beatles Get Back Trailer

Just saw this a few minutes ago. Lately I’ve been living in a bubble because of work but this is the new Get Back trailer. This is not the sneak peak Peter Jackson released before. On November 25,26, and 27th… 6 hours of the Let It Be/Get Back music, comedy, and drama will all unfold on the Disney plus.

As a very young Beatle fan I read about these sessions and only saw still photographs. Later on I saw them do Get Back on MTV while on the rooftop and it was like photos coming to life…I read where they had 56 hours of video footage sitting in a vault from this album. Now we will see 6 hours out of that anyway…you what what? I would happily sit through 56 hours… Peter Jackson has done such a great job on the look of the film…it looks like it could have been filmed yesterday. Peter, need an assistant for free?

With the previews I’ve seen…it looks like it was a lot of fun and the bad drama was not prevalent through the filming. Ringo has said that people have focused on the negative but it was much more positive than that. What is great about Get Back is the good time they had and it wasn’t all doom and gloom. I can’t imagine the pressure they were under to deliver and be as good as their last album. In this case, when they filmed this, it was just a few months after they released The White Album…The Let It Be album didn’t get released until after their last studio album Abbey Road.

Enough of me talking…here is the preview.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me Documentary

Hanspostcard is hosting a movie draft from 12 different genres…this is my musical entry and final pick.

Such a great band but such a frustrating story. Robyn Hitchcock remarked, “Big Star is like a letter that was mailed in 1972 but didn’t arrive until 1985.” That is a great way to explain them. They made three of the best albums of the decade that were not heard until much later. When they were finally discovered they influenced many artists such as The Replacements, REM, Cheap Trick, Matthew Sweet, and more. The last time I checked it was on Netflix…watch this documentary.

When these musicians and critics talk about Big Star…they talk about them like people talk about The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Who, and The Kinks. In this documentary you have Cheap Trick, REM, Mitch Easter, Robyn Hitchcock, and others talking about the band.

The first album got great reviews…you couldn’t ask for better. When the label called radio stations trying to get them to play it…the stations would say it’s not selling. When someone actually heard the songs on the radio, they couldn’t find the record to buy it. This was basically the same story with all of the albums.

Distribution problems and just bad timing. Stax didn’t do a good job of distribution…they made a deal with Columbia before the second album to distribute the album…problem solved right? Nope, Clive Davis who made the deal was then fired at Columbia. The deal fell through and then Stax disintegrated.

Chris Bell who was key in creating the sound the band had quit after the first album. He came back but then quit again. Chris had depression problems and wanted badly to do something on his own. Alex Chilton continued and finished the second and third album with a new bass player on the third album.

After that, it follows Chris and Alex’s career to the end of both. It also covers Jim Dickinson’s role on the third experimental album. Family members, fans, and rock writers also share their love of Big Star and memories of the band members.

In May of 1973 Ardent Studios where Big Star recorded invited 100 rock writers down to Memphis to hear Big Star live. They all loved Big Star and it went over great…but that wasn’t the band’s problem…it was the business side. What would have happened if they would have signed with a label more suited to them?

Before watching this documentary, a couple of years back I didn’t realize Chris Bell was so instrumental in developing their sound. I knew it wasn’t the Alex Chilton band, but Chris was invaluable and started the ball rolling. All 4 members did contribute writing and singing but Chilton and Bell were the Lennon and McCartney of the group.

It’s a great documentary about a great band that had the talent, but fate wasn’t on their side.

There is the often-used Peter Buck quote that everyone who bought the first Velvet Underground album went out and started a band…the same is true with this band.

My recommendation? Watch it…NOW

Cast

Billy Altman … Self – Writer
Jon Auer … Self
Lester Bangs … Self (archive footage)
Chris Bell … Self (archive footage)
David Bell … Self – Chris Bell’s Brother
Norman Blake … Self
The Box Tops … Themselves (archive footage)
Panther Burns … Themselves (archive footage)
Cheap Trick … Themselves
Stephanie Chernikowski … Self – Photographer
Alex Chilton … Self (archive footage)
Rick Clark … Self – Writer and Musician
Stephen Ira Cohen … Self – U.S. Congressman (archive footage) (as Steve Cohen)
The Cramps … Themselves (archive footage)
John Dando … Self – Band Manager, Ardent Studios 1972-1975
Luther Dickinson … Self
Mary Lindsay Dickinson … Self
Steven Drozd … Self
Van Duren … Self – Musician
Mitch Easter … Self – Musician and Producer
Bruce Eaton … Self (voice) (archive footage)
William Eggleston … Self
Tav Falco … Self
John Fry … Self – Founder, Ardent Studios
John Hampton … Self – Engineer, Ardent Studios
Douglas Hart … Self – Bass, The Jesus and Mary Chain
Robyn Hitchcock … Self
Andy Hummel … Self (archive footage)
Ross Johnson … Self – Writer and Musician
Ira Kaplan … Self
Lenny Kaye … Self – Writer and Musician
John King … Self – Promotions, Ardent Studios 1972-1975
Curt Kirkwood … Self
John Lightman … Self
Carole Manning … Self – Ardent Studios 1972-1975
Mike Mills … Self
The Replacements The Replacements … Themselves (archive footage)
Steve Rhea … Self – Promotions, Ardent Studios 1972-1975
Will Rigby … Self – musician
Richard Rosebrough … Self – Engineer, Ardent Studios 1972-1975
Kliph Scurlock … Self
Tom Sheehan … Self – Photographer
Chris Stamey … Self – Musician and Producer
Big Star … Themselves
Jody Stephens … Self
Sara Stewart … Self – Chris Bell’s Sister
Michael Stipe … Self
Ken Stringfellow … Self
Matthew Sweet … Self
Alexis Taylor … Self
Marge Thrasher … Self – Hostess of Straight Talk (archive footage)
Jon Tiven … Self
Pete Tomlinson … Self – Writer
Jaan Uhelszki … Self – Writer (as Jaan Uhelzski)
Terry Edwards … Conductor, London (uncredited)

The Kids Are Alright Documentary…Desert Island Music Films

We wrapped up Hanspostcard’s album draft…100 albums in 100 days. We are going into extra innings and extending three more picks from these categories… favorite Soundtracks, Greatest Hits, and a music related movie. This is my pick for a music related movie: The Who in The Kids Are Alright.

2020 ALBUM DRAFT- ROUND 13 PICK 5- BADFINGER20 SELECTS- THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT

I acquired a VHS copy of this in the mid-eighties. It wasn’t a great copy but my friends and I wore it out. One of them worked at a small cable station. The station was in a small county that usually aired farm reports and advertisements. Basically, it was a very small building in the middle of nowhere. All they would do there is broadcast videos.

We had the tape in hand and wanted to see it so we went there one afternoon. He popped it in the VHS player and played it. He had no idea but it was going out live all over the region. Near the end of the film, he took a phone call from his boss. I didn’t think anyone ever watched that station…but it turns out they did and they were not fans of The Who. He didn’t get fired but they took his key for the door for a little while. It was a big subject the next day at school as some teenagers loved it but their parents didn’t appreciate their farm reports being interrupted by My Generation and Keith Moon in bondage.

I’ve seen this film so many times I can almost quote it while it’s playing. The Who albums made me a huge fan of their music…this film made me a huge fan of band.

This film covers the original Who and being such a Who fan I’m glad Jeff Stein (director) was so persistent in doing this because many of the tapes he was able to borrow probably would have been erased and used again by the BBC as was their policy.

Jeff was a fan of the band and pestered them until they let him do this. He had no prior experience in filmmaking but this was the 1970s and he got the gig. His timing was eerily perfect. He caught the original band at the very end of their tenure with Keith Moon.

He searched high and low for clips of the band in earlier years. Stein keeps the appearance mostly in order. There is sadness in this. You see the band through the years from 1964 to 1978… you see all of them gradually age of course but Keith Moon ages faster than any of them. I’ve read where it hit him hard while watching the rough cut right before he died. His lifestyle had taken its toll on him. He saw himself as a young energetic kid that looked like Paul McCartney’s younger brother to a man who was 32 and looked like he was in his 40s at least.

This may be the first or one of the first film bios on a major rock band. Led Zeppelin had The Song Remains the Same but it focused on one concert in New York… The Beatles had Let It Be but those films didn’t show their history like The Kids Are Alright.

The Who - Wikipedia

In this film you see a band that is fun… unlike their peers Zeppelin and Sabbath the Who were more open to their audience and didn’t have a dark mystique hanging over them. They would crack jokes from the stage…Moon and Townshend treated it like a High School talent show until they started to play…then they got serious.

You see film segments that were fun like the video of Happy Jack, the interview on the Russell Harty Show, Keith with Ringo, and Keith and Pete sharing a joke that only they could understand. One of my favorite segments is The Who playing Barbara Ann with Keith singing and the band having a good time. They also played I Saw Her Standing There but it didn’t make the final cut…you can watch it in the outtakes. I can’t imagine the big bands of that time doing Barbara Ann and goofing for the camera.

The Who did a couple of live shows for the film besides being interviewed. Stein mostly used old clips but he convinced the band to do a couple of free concerts in May of 1978 where he could get a definitive version of Won’t Get Fooled Again… which personally I think is the greatest live performance song live you will ever hear. You see Keith’s last performance as he is looking pudgy, older, and slower but still pulls it off. Pete wasn’t too thrilled about doing the concerts for the film but it turned out good. They ended up only using a version Won’t Get Fooled Again and Baba O’Riley from the 78 live show.

Keith died a few months before The Kids Are Alright debuted on June 15, 1979. The film showed The Who at it’s best. Kenney Jones from the Faces replaced him but it was never the same. You cannot replace Moon…he was the engine that drove the Who. Later on in the 90s Zak Starkey…who was Ringo’s son and Keith’s God son played drums for the Who and still does.

If you haven’t watched the film…stop what you are doing and watch it. It still holds up as one of the best music documentaries that rock has produced.

Zak Starkey and Keith Moon

Pin på Drums & Drummers

The Festival Express

Transcontinental Pop Festival… better known as the Festival Express. Great idea on paper… rounding up musicians in 1970 and placing them on a train going across Canada and stopping along the way to play festivals. What could go wrong? Actually, I would have loved to have been on that train.

The lineup:

The Band

The Grateful Dead

Janis Joplin

Buddy Guy Blues Band

The Fly Burrito Brothers

Sha Na Na

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends

There were artists that were not in the film like Traffic, Ten Years After, Tom Rush, Ian & Sylvia, Mountain and more.

A DVD was released of this in 2004. All these musicians on a train full of liquor and an assortment of drugs… liquor was the popular choice among the musicians on this ride. The tour was to have events in Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary, and Vancouver. The Montreal event was canceled as was Vancouver. In Toronto, protesters were saying the festival promoters were price gouging so The Grateful Dead played a free concert in a park nearby to ease tensions with the protesters.

There are some very good performances on the film. My favorite is Buddy Guy and Janis Joplin’s performance. I also like the Dead’s “Don’t Ease Me In” with Pigpen on blues harp. The festival lost money and the film was thought lost for over 30 years. Janis would be gone a few months after this but her performance of Cry Baby is electrifying.

The train was where the fun was at. They actually stopped at a liquor store and bought out the complete store…including the giant display bottles. The Dead’s crew even dosed some of the liquor…and cake with LSD as you will see below… on board. When watching the film you can see the performers are having a ball jamming with each other because they didn’t get a lot of chances to do that on the road.

Bill Kreutzmann (drummer for the Dead) from his book “Deal”

We celebrated Janis Joplin’s birthday at the last stop the traditional way: with birthday cake. In keeping with our own kind of tradition, somebody—within our ranks, I would imagine—had secretly infused the cake with a decent amount of LSD. So it quickly became an electric birthday celebration. Allegedly, some generous pieces of that birthday cake made it to the hands and mouths of the local police who were working the show. “Let them eat cake!” (To be fair, I didn’t have anything to do with that … I was just another cake-eating birthday reveler, that night.)
And that was it for the Festival Express. It was a wonderful time and I think what really made it great was the level of interaction and camaraderie among the musicians, day and night, as we were all trapped on this train careening across the great north. It probably helped that we were all trashed the entire time. Whiskey was in the conductor’s seat on that ride.

I would recommend getting the DVD of this event. It’s a great time capsule of that time in music and culture.

Toronto Rock and Roll Revival 1969

Since I posted Paul McCartney’s Concert for Kampuchea yesterday I thought I would concentrate on the festival John Lennon popped up at in 1969… The Toronto Rock and Roll Revival. Unlike Kampuchea which was spread out on multiple days and nights, this festival was held on one day September 13, 1969.

John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band just played fifties songs plus John’s new song that Beatles rejected…Cold Turkey. The reason for the fifties’ songs was because the band had limited time to rehearse and they wanted to do songs they all knew.

It was a great festival lineup but it’s remembered mostly by John Lennon’s participation. The Doors were the headliners and John only agreed to do it

The concert was conceived by promoters John Brower and Ken Walker with financial backing from Eaton’s department store but stymied by poor ticket sales, the venture began to lose support. The festival was almost canceled but Brower called Apple Records in the UK to ask John Lennon to emcee the concert. Lennon agreed to appear on the condition he would be allowed to perform.

The Lennons flew in from England with a makeshift band that included Eric Clapton, Klaus Voormann, Alan White, and Yoko. They arrived at the backstage area at about 10 p.m, while Cat Mother and the All Night Newsboys were singing Good Old Rock ‘n’ Roll to an audience of about 20,000.

Lennon was quoted as saying “I threw up for hours until I went on” because it had been three years since he played live in a concert setting. The band went on and did a good job…ragged but it was a hastily assembled band with only a rehearsal on the plane ride and backstage.

John Lennon:  “The ridiculous thing was that I didn’t know any of the lyrics. When we did Money and Dizzy, I just made up the words as I went along. The band was bashing it out like hell behind me. Yoko came on stage with us, but she wasn’t going to do her bit until we’d done our five songs….Then after Money there was a stop, and I turned to Eric and said, ‘What’s next?’ He didn’t know either, so I just screamed out ‘C’mon!’ and started into something else.”

Little Richard: “I remember the show that people were throwing bottles at Yoko Ono. They were throwing everything at her. Finally, she had to run off the stage. Oh, boy, it was very bad.”

John Lennon: And we tried to put it out on Capitol, and Capitol didn’t want to put it out. They said, ‘This is garbage; we’re not going to put it out with her screaming on one side and you doing this sort of live stuff. And they just refused to put it out. But we finally persuaded them that, you know, people might buy this. Of course it went gold the next day.”

John Lennon and Yoko’s setlist

  • Blue Suede Shoes.
  • Money (That’s What I Want)
  • Dizzy Miss Lizzy.
  • Yer Blues.
  • Cold Turkey.
  • Give Peace a Chance.
  • Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)
  • John John (Let’s Hope for Peace)

Performers 

John Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band

Whiskey Howl

Bo Diddley

Chicago

Junior Walker and the All Stars

Tony Joe White

Alice Cooper

Chuck Berry

Cat Mother and the All Night News Boys

Jerry Lee Lewis

Gene Vincent

Little Richard

Doug Kershaw

The Doors

Kim Fowley The Master of Ceremonies

Screaming Lord Sutch

Concert for Kampuchea

When I posted a Rockpile song last week… I heard from Sharon E. Cathcart talking about this concert. A few days later Val mentioned this concert on a Little Richard post. I haven’t thought of this concert in years so I thought it would be a great subject.

I did see a copy of this in the 80s at some point. I’ve watched it the last few nights and it is really good. A few facts about the show…The Pretenders debut album was released the day before they played, this was John Bonham’s last appearance on stage in England, and the Wings last concert appearance.

Concert for the People of Kampuchea was a series of concerts in 1979 featuring Queen, The Clash, The Pretenders, Rockpile, The Who, Elvis Costello, Wings, and many more artists. I’ll post the entire lineup at the bottom. These concerts had a great amount of British talent that would not be rivaled until Live Aid in 1985. The proceeds would be directed to the emergency relief work of the U.N. agencies for the civilians in Kampuchea.

The concerts were held at the Hammersmith Odeon in London over 4 days from 26-29 December 1979 to raise money for the victims of war-torn Cambodia (then called Kampuchea). The event was organized by former Beatle Paul McCartney and Kurt Waldheim (who was then Secretary-General of the UN, later Austrian president).

Waldheim initially approached McCartney, hoping his current band Wings would participate. But he also discussed a performance with George Harrison, and then the gossip wheel started turning. The Beatle reunion rumors started to overtake the press for the show itself. Paul had to completely deny it of course. He was quoted saying: “The Beatles are over and finished with,”  “None of us is even interested in doing it. There’s lots of reasons. Imagine if we came back and did a big show that wasn’t good. What a drag.” None of the ex Beatles showed…except Paul

An album and EP were released in 1981, and the best of the concerts was released as a film, Concert for Kampuchea in 1980. The album wasn’t released until 1981 and it peaked at #36 and the song Little Sister by Rockpile and Robert Plant peaked at #8.

When Wings’ main set was complete on the last night, McCartney invited a Who’s Who assemblage of British rockers to the stage to play four songs as an encore as the “Rockestra”. The list included three members of Led Zeppelin (Plant, John Bonham and John Paul Jones), Townshend, former Small Faces/Faces bandmates Ronnie Lane and Kenney Jones, Procol Harum’s Gary Brooker, Wings, plus members of Rockpile and the Pretenders, among others.

Here is a complete list.

  • Piano: Paul McCartney
  • Keyboards: Linda McCartney, Tony Ashton, Gary Brooker
  • Guitars: Denny Laine, Laurence Juber, James Honeyman-Scott, Dave Edmunds, Billy Bremner, Pete Townshend, Robert Plant
  • Bass: Paul McCartney, Bruce Thomas, Ronnie Lane, John Paul Jones
  • Drums, Percussion: Steve Holley, Kenney Jones, Tony Carr, Morris Pert, Speedy Acquaye, John Bonham
  • Horns: Howie Casey, Steve Howard, Thaddeus Richard, Tony Dorsey
  • Vocals: Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney, John Paul Jones, Ronnie Lane, Bruce Thomas, Robert Plant

That is a talented bunch.

McCartney did assemble the above musicians with some more like David Gilmour to record a couple of songs on the Wings Back To The Egg album…So Glad to See You Here and Rockestra Theme.

Here is the complete list of acts who played during the concerts.

The Blockheads
The Clash
Elvis Costello
Ian Dury
The Pretenders
Matumbi
Robert Plant
Queen
Rockpile
The Specials
Wings
The Who

December 26

  • Queen

December 27

  • Ian Dury and the Blockheads (with guest Mick Jones on “Sweet Gene Vincent”)
  • Matumbi
  • The Clash

December 28

  • The Pretenders
  • The Specials
  • The Who

December 29

  • Elvis Costello & The Attractions
  • Rockpile (with guest Robert Plant on “Little Sister”)
  • Wings
  • Rockestra

Selected setlists

Queen

  1. Jailhouse Rock
  2. We Will Rock You (fast version)
  3. Let Me Entertain You
  4. Somebody to Love
  5. If You Can’t Beat Them
  6. Mustapha
  7. Death on Two Legs
  8. Killer Queen
  9. I’m in Love with My Car
  10. Get Down, Make Love
  11. You’re My Best Friend
  12. Save Me
  13. Now I’m Here
  14. Don’t Stop Me Now
  15. Spread Your Wings
  16. Love of My Life
  17. ’39
  18. Keep Yourself Alive
  19. Drums solo
  20. Guitar solo with parts of Silent Night
  21. Brighton Rock reprise
  22. Crazy Little Thing Called Love
  23. Bohemian Rhapsody
  24. Tie Your Mother Down
  25. Sheer Heart Attack
  26. We Will Rock You
  27. We Are the Champions
  28. God Save the Queen (tape)

Ian Dury & The Blockheads

  1. Clevor Trevor
  2. Inbetweenies
  3. Don’t Ask Me
  4. Reasons To Be Cheerful
  5. Sink My Boats
  6. Waiting For Your Taxi
  7. This Is What We Find
  8. Mischief
  9. What A Waste
  10. Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick
  11. Sweet Gene Vincent

The Clash

  1. Clash City Rockers
  2. Brand New Cadillac
  3. Safe European Home
  4. Jimmy Jazz
  5. Clampdown
  6. The Guns of Brixton
  7. Train in Vain
  8. Wrong ‘Em Boyo
  9. Koka Kola
  10. (White Man) In Hammersmith Palais
  11. Stay Free
  12. Bankrobber
  13. Janie Jones
  14. Complete Control
  15. Armagideon Time
  16. London Calling

The Specials

  1. (Dawning Of a) New Era
  2. Do The Dog
  3. Monkey Man
  4. Concrete Jungle
  5. Too Hot
  6. Doesn’t Make It Alright
  7. Too Much Too Young
  8. Guns Of Navarone
  9. Little Bitch
  10. A Message To You Rudy
  11. Nite Club
  12. Gangsters
  13. Longshot Kick The Bucket
  14. Skinhead Moonstomp
  15. Madness

The Who

  1. Substitute
  2. I Can’t Explain
  3. Baba O’Riley
  4. The Punk and the Godfather
  5. My Wife
  6. Sister Disco
  7. Behind Blue Eyes
  8. Music Must Change
  9. Drowned
  10. Who Are You
  11. 5.15
  12. Pinball Wizard
  13. See Me Feel Me
  14. Long Live Rock
  15. My Generation
  16. I’m a Man
  17. Hoochie Coochie Man
  18. Sparks
  19. I Can See for Miles
  20. I Don’t Want To Be an Old Man
  21. Won’t Get Fooled Again
  22. Summertime Blues
  23. Dancing In The Streets
  24. Dance It Away
  25. The Real Me

Rockpile

  1. Three Time Loser
  2. Crawling From The Wreckage
  3. Little Sister

Wings

  1. Got to Get You into My Life
  2. Getting Closer
  3. Every Night
  4. Again And Again And Again
  5. I’ve Had Enough
  6. No Words
  7. Cook Of The House
  8. Old Siam, Sir
  9. Maybe I’m Amazed
  10. The Fool on the Hill
  11. Hot As Sun
  12. Spin It On
  13. Twenty Flight Rock
  14. Go Now
  15. Arrow Through Me
  16. Coming Up
  17. Goodnight Tonight
  18. Yesterday
  19. Mull of Kintyre
  20. Band on the Run

Rockestra

  1. Rockestra Theme
  2. Let It Be
  3. Lucille
  4. Rockestra Theme (reprise)

 

The Endless Summer

This is a great documentary by Bruce Brown on surfing. I live in Tennessee and there are no beaches in sight but this 1966 documentary held my attention all the way through. Brown narrates this and keeps it tight and the pacing is good.

If you like surfing or not it doesn’t matter. This documentary will hold your interest as Brown goes around the world with surfers looking for the perfect wave. Brown filmed in Senegal, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii, and California. The characters that surrounded the sport in that era are worth watching.

Bruce put up $50, 000 of his own money to make the film and it ended up making 30 million.

He would follow up with Endless Summer part II in 1994. I’ve watched both but I like1964 film better because of the people who followed the sport at the time. The 94 version has better camera action but I like the characters more in this one.

A few years later Bruce would work with Steve McQueen and make the documentary “On Any Sunday”  about the impact of motorcycles in our culture.

The Searcher… Elvis Presley

Whenever I start reading about someone (In this case Elvis Presley) I usually dive deep into them. I’ve watched a few documentaries on youtube and the Comeback Special.

Last week Slightly Charming (I highly recommend checking out her blog) recommended this documentary on Elvis and it is the best one I’ve watched about him. It’s an HBO production with commentary by Priscilla Presley, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Robbie Robertson, and many others.

It is a two-part documentary around 3 hours long both combined. Much like the Peter Guralnick books I’ve been reading it is very even-handed but it doesn’t pull any punches.

Elvis was an interesting person. A poor southern boy who gained fame and fortune quickly and handled it well considering what he was going through until his mother passed away. After that came the Army stint in Germany and from there while his fortune and fame grew his artistic credibility went down. In the mid-sixties, while The Beatles, Dylan, and the Stones dominated the charts…Elvis, a big influence to all three was stuck in a cycle of bad movies and bad soundtracks that he didn’t want to do.

The documentary goes over Colonel Tom Parker his manager, The infamous Memphis Mafia, Las Vegas, and the failed marriage to Priscilla.

The one thing this film does is concentrate on his music and not the parody he turned into at the end of his life. I found myself rooting for him during the 1968 Comeback Special. He had the spark back again and his voice was the Elvis we heard in the fifties. After the dismal movie soundtracks, he made this great comeback special but then it slowly started to go down. There was still good music to come but the end was in sight.

This great documentary is worth the time to check out.

 

 

The Unknown Chaplin

A three-part documentary based on unseen footage from Charlie Chaplin. Chaplin ordered all of his outtakes burned but some did survive. This gives us a glimpse of how he constructed a story. He relied on inspiration and rarely had anything planned out in advance and that lead to classic scenes.

He would rearrange sets and actors and if a good mistake happened he would act on it and stretch it out. This was a good way to waste thousands of dollars worth of film but it also made him a comedy genius. Chaplin said he would build sets without an idea in his head but would be inspired.

Below is an outtake he never used in his feature “City Lights” which It would have been interesting if he would have kept it in. He takes the simplest prop…a piece of wood and works a scene around it in a grate.

The documentary was in three parts.

My Happiest Years – This part is mostly on his early Mutual shorts years in 1916-1917

The Great Director – Actresses and Actors talk about working on Chaplin’s films.

Hidden Treasures – A look at a variety of informal, private or salvaged pieces of film by or relating to Chaplin, including home movie footage, visitors to his studios, and several sequences that were edited out of his final films.

Like the Buster Keaton biography A Hard Act To Follow this was produced by Kevin Brownlow and David Gill. It’s worth chasing these down or click on this link in youtube. 

 

 

Buster Keaton: A Hard Act To Follow

This is a three-part documentary made in 1987. It is one of the best documentaries I have ever seen…not just about Buster but anyone.  Each part is almost an hour long. Kevin Brownlow and David Gill wrote and directed this mini-series. This documentary is interesting for fans and non-fans alike. I have watched it multiple times and showed it to friends to didn’t have much interest in silent movies and they ended up liking it.

Brownlow also worked on “Hollywood” (a 13 part history of the silent era that later I’ll review), The Unknown Chaplin, and Harold Lloyd: The Third Genius.

This is in my top 5 of documentaries to recommend to people…I just wish it was easier to get. I had to order it from Europe to get a DVD copy of this.  You can watch all of them on Youtube...below

Buster Keaton was not only a great comedian but a great filmmaker. Some of his special effects in Sherlock Jr and other movies stand up today. I always thought that while Chaplin had the best comedy character…Keaton was the better filmmaker.

Part One (From Vaudeville to Movies)

Covers his vaudeville childhood with his parents. Because of child labor laws, his parents would claim that Buster was an adult actor. They would dress Buster to look old. This part goes through Vaudeville and up until Buster meets Roscoe Arbuckle and starts his career in movies.

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Part Two (Star Without a Studio):

Part Two sums up his great silent movies. He did not work in the studio system…Buster had free reign with his movies in most of the 1920s working for Independent film executive Joe Schenck. Part two shows some of the best scenes from his silent movies until he had to join a studio (MGM) that along with his drinking helped ruin his career.

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Part Three (Genius Recognized):

This part is the downfall and the comeback. Buster worked through the early thirties in some successful talkies but soon by the end of the 30s he was working as a gag writer. He was soon largely forgotten until he appeared in “Sunset Boulevard”, commercials and TV. Buster was in a movie with Chaplin called Limelight in 1952. He began to be praised by historians, critics, and fans alike before he passed away in 1966.

 

Image result for buster keaton 1965

There is a new Buster documentary out called ‘The Great Buster: A Celebration’ by Peter Bogdanovich that I have yet to see. I plan to track it down soon. Either way, this one will be hard to beat.

 

Below is Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow…the complete series.

 

 

 

On Any Sunday

Great documentary about motorcycle racing of all kinds.

I’ve love documentaries but I wasn’t sure this one would interest me…but it did. I’m not a motorcycle guy and I only rode some when I was a teenager but this 1971 documentary kept me watching. I would recommend this to anyone young or old. The longer I watched the more I got hooked.

Steve McQueen is in this film and he helped finance it because he believed in it so much. It was made by Bruce Brown, the same filmmaker that made “Endless Summer” an excellent documentary about Surfing. Again I’m not a surfer by any means but it was also very interesting.

This film follows about every kind of motorbike competition you can think of…  it centers on off-road competition rather than road riding.

While Steve McQueen was the draw and provided a lot of the backing to the film the two main motorcyclists they follow are today leaders in their field. The two were Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith.

Mert was one of the early pioneers in the off-road bicycling world, having introduced the first production mountain bike. He also developed prosthetic limbs for amputees.

Malcolm owns a dealership and runs Malcolm Smith Racing, a producer of off-road rider equipment. Smith was inducted into the Off-road Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1978, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1996 and the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1998.

I gained a lot of respect for these men who gave their lives to this sport they loved. They traveled around the country with broken vehicles, raced with broken arms and backs to do something they loved without much pay.

This documentary helped change the image of motorcyclists. There was a “sequel” to this documentary called On Any Sunday: The Next Chapter in 2014.

After watching it I wanted a motorcycle really bad…but I let the thought pass by.