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Rock on Film Rock Radio 2.0

The Mayor of Sunset Strip

Picture a time when radio had personality, when it comprised of DJs who programmed their own music and dared to be different. Who lived and breathed rock and roll and were loved for it. Picture a DJ who introduced the masses of LA to Blondie, The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Van Halen, The Go Gos, The Bangles, Joan Jett…ahh the list just goes on and on. Who am I talking about you ask? Well none other than the “Prince of Pop” Rodney Bingenheimer. Rodney is an old school disc jockey which means he actually programs cool music that he likes as opposed to some corporation dictating what he should play. The man is a rock and roll legend and there is a movie coming out March 26 that celebrates all his wonderful rock and roll success and excess. Called “The Mayor of Sunset Strip” it promises to be another excellent example of a great rock and roll documentary, especially since it’s directed by George Hickenlooper who was responsible for the excellent “Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse” a documentary that threatened to be even better than the film it was supposed to be documenting (Apocalypse Now). Not only does the film look cool but check out the soundtrack! Everybody from Brian Wilson and The Byrds to The Ramones, Alice Cooper and Blur make this one cool soundtrack. I’m looking forward to seing this, especially after checking out the excellent companion website. It’s a shame that mainstream radio is just not this cool anymore.
Later.

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Rock and Roll Reads Rock History Rock on Film

Beatlemania. Relive the thrill at home.

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It is very difficult to fully comprehend the magnitude of what was called “Beatlemania” when it swept North America in 1964 but there are ways to get some kind of an idea of what it was all about. The following are a bunch of books, DVDs and records to get you in the mood.
The first, most obvious place to start is with “Meet the Beatles.” Now, normally I would recommend sticking with the more superior British version of Beatles albums found on CD but really, if you want to be authentic, or at least as authentic as you could possibly be in this day and age, a vinyl copy of “Meet the Beatles” is the only way to go.
Once you have “Meet the Beatles” playing on the Hi Fi, I recommend a couple of first rate books to get an in depth feel for the whole phenomenon. The first would be “Love Me Do. The Beatles’ Progress” by Michael Braun. A sadly overlooked gem that John Lennon himself praised as being the most realistic look at The Beatles when he said “A true book. He wrote how we were, which was bastards.” Excellent stuff. The next book is “Our hearts went boom : the Beatles’ invasion of Canada” by Brian Kendall. A great little book that I picked up at the bargain bin of Chapters Bookstore, “Our Hearts Went Boom” covers all The Beatles’ appearances in Canada from 1964 to 1966. An interesting fact was that when they came to Montreal, Ringo had received a death threat against him for being “an English Jew” which as Ringo has pointed out he is not in fact Jewish. Ringo was so nervous throughout his Montreal stay that the band opted to fly out after the show instead of staying overnight just to play it safe. Montreal shares the wonderful distinction of threatening a Beatle, blowing up the Rolling Stones sound truck in 1972 and spitting on Roger Waters during a Pink Floyd tour here causing him to re-assess his commitment to rock and roll and Pink Floyd and ultimately write “The Wall.” The next book I would recommend is the brand new “The Beatles Are Coming: The Birth of Beatlemania in America” by Bruce Spizer, which covers the American angle of Beatlemania. I haven’t actually read it yet but Spizer is such a prolific and knowledgeable writer on all things Beatles that I have no hesitation in recommending his newest book. The last book you should look at is “Ticket to Ride” by Larry Kane. An inside look at the Beatles’ 1964 tour by the only authorized journalist, it provides a fascinating and sometimes sad portrayal of what was happening behind the scenes.
Finally, put “Meet the Beatles” away and pop “The Beatles – The First U.S. Visit” in the DVD. I saw the original VHS version some time ago and it was absolutely riveting. Even if you don’t like The Beatles this fly on the wall documentary is so fascinating to watch as you get to watch people like Murray the “K” in full rock and roll glory in the studio of radio station WINS. After you are finished with “The First U.S. Visit” gather the family around and pop in “Ed Sullivan Presents the Beatles” and sit back and pretend you were there. Kind of hard, granted but the DVDs include the complete shows plus commercials so it will give you more than a taste.
True, Beatlemania was a lot of hype but unlike these days, there was actual substance behind it and the music still stands up to this day. After taking this little primer in Beatlemania, it’s pretty hard not to get swept away in it all and you have got to admit that it feels kind of nice. Come on, sing along with me “We love The Beatles, oh yes we do….”
Later.

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Rock on Film

It Came From Memphis

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I received an e-mail from Paul Duane last week. Who is Paul Duane you ask? Well Paul is currently working on the film version of the book It Came From Memphis with author Robert Gordon. The book essentially deals with “why blues, soul and rock’n’roll have all re-invented themselves in Memphis, Tennessee, several times in the last century. It’s about people like Jim Dickinson and Furry Lewis, as well as the more famous Memphis landmarks which are too obvious to mention…” Sounds very cool so I have ordered the book and will let you know what I thought about it soon. In the meantime, you can check out Paul’s blog It Came From Memphis to track the progress of the film. Very, very interesting stuff. Thanks Paul.
Later.

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Rock on Film

Watchin’ The Blues

I have been watching the PBS special The Blues this week and I’m telling you this documentary on the blues directed by Martin Scorsese is fantastic and I urge everyone to tune in. Even if you are not a fan of the blues this could very well be your initiation. And if you think in some misguided way that the blues has nothing to do with rock and roll, especially the rock and roll of today then I beg you to watch this series. Rock and roll is based on the blues period. This fact cannot and should not be denied no matter if you listen to the Yardbirds or Limp Bizkit. This series will give you perspective and appreciation for an incredible form of music that has survived through a heck of a lot of heavy stuff (like oh let’s see we’ll start with poverty and racism and stop there for the sake of brevity) to triumph in a testament to the strength of the human spirit. And like good rock and roll, the blues will thrive and survive for a long time, it’s just that you might have to search it out a little bit harder these days. Not only that, what I like most about The Blues is the smile that it puts on my face while listening to these men and women reaching deep down into their souls while spilling their musical guts all over the stage/porch/pulpit. An incredible journey that I highly recommend. Really great stuff. Watch now because it ends October 4th.
Later.

Categories
Rock on Film

DON’T KNOCK THE ROCK

You like movies? You like Rock and Roll? Gonna be in LA the August 15th weekend? Then you have to check out the DON’T KNOCK THE ROCK movie festival. Glamour! Rock and Roll! Hollywood! What more can you ask for? Make sure you stay at the Chateau Marmont for the full effect!
Later.

Categories
Rock on Film

Where’s My Shark Sandwich?

The debate rages on about what should be considered the greatest rock and roll movie of all time. Well, let’s look at some of the candidates: “Don’t Look Back”? Maybe. “The Last Waltz”? Possibly. “A Hard Days Night”? It has potential. “Woodstock”? Excellent but not too sure. ”Gimme Shelter”? Maybe, but watching that fat naked guy on stage is a bit disturbing. “The Great Rock and Roll Swindle”? No. My vote would have to go to “This is Spinal Tap” an engrossing documentary or “rockumentary” if you will about the English heavy metal band Spinal Tap on tour in America in the early eighties. Some people say these guys are all actors. Some people say it’s actually the English folk group “The Thamesmen” in wigs and spandex. All I know is that Jeff Beck is the lead guitarist and this site is the place to go for all things Spinal Tap although I’m not quite sure if it is clever or stupid.
Later.