Friday, February 24, 2017
Radio Pulsebeat News News Documentary #2
I enjoyed Ron Howard's recent documentary on the Beatles touring days although I didn't learn anything new and it wasn't particularly insightful. I think Albert Maysles' documentary on the first tour is the best portrait of this time. For me the highlight of the screening was watching the Shea Stadium concert film on the big screen with good sound. That was fantastic. All the hoopla about the movie inspired me to pull out this record which attempts to document the Beatles' first visit to the United States. It is presented and narrated by Ed Rudy who was a journalist who accompanied the Beatles on their trip. Rudy seems to like the group and is consistently enthusiastic, but he has nothing interesting to say about Beatlemania and generally ignores the music, he is mostly attracted to the mass hysteria they generated. Side one is a 22 minute assembly of sound bites from the tour mixed with a bunch of promos for Rudy by the Beatles as well as roadie Mal Evans, Lennon and Harrison even label Rudy "the fifth Beatle." There are numerous snippets from the Beatles' first press conference in New York and Rudy interviews some fans as well. Despite traveling with the band, Rudy doesn't get much face time with the group. Initially the longest conversations he gets are with Mal Evans and road manager Neil Aspinall. He also wastes some time talking to a twit from the British Embassy. In Washington D.C. Rudy gets some muffled comments from a Beatle who he claims is John Lennon, but it sounds like Paul McCartney to me. He also has an amusing conversation with Ringo Starr at the British Embassy party in Washington regarding his sex appeal. Near the end of side one, on the plane flying back to New York after the Miami visit, Rudy finally gets some quality time with the band and their handlers. On side two there is a fifteen minute telephone interview with George Harrison. Predictably the sound quality is not good, but it is a nice conversation. The "quiet Beatle" is surprisingly loquacious. He and Rudy discuss the fan reaction on the tour, the Beatles' sound, the origin of the group's name, Beatle haircuts and fashions, mods vs. rockers, Harrison's personal ambitions, dating, friendships with the other Beatles and musical influences (Rudy astutely compares them to Buddy Holly and the Crickets.) At one point Rudy refers to "Johnny" Lennon and asks if Harrison ever calls him "Jack" Lennon, which cracks me up. This record is worth buying for side two alone. I enjoy the entire record aside from Rudy's relentless self-promotion. Even though it contains virtually no music at all, I still prefer it to Capitol Records' vinyl documentary of the Beatles on "The Beatles' Story." This album is easy to find and generally not expensive (I bought my copy in a thrift shop for $2.) Recommended to Beatlemaniacs whose favorite Beatle is George.
Saturday, February 18, 2017
Paul Revere and the Raiders
This is a 1966 reissue of the Raiders' second album on Sande Records originally released in 1963. The original has different cover art but an identical track selection and running order. Over the holidays I paid a visit to my aunt and uncle who live up in the redwoods in Northern California. At one point my aunt mentioned having traveled around the Pacific Northwest with a rock band in her younger days. I was immediately interested in this tidbit and pressed her for more details. When she said they were Paul Revere and the Raiders I was flabbergasted. She said she was dating one of the guys in the band. I asked his name and when she replied Mark Lindsay I went nuts. My aunt dated Mark Lindsay, I still can't believe it. She was unimpressed about all of this. Mark was a nice guy but she didn't think the band was all that special and she disliked Revere. This was of course before the band became famous, back when they were a struggling group working in small venues playing music like the songs on this album. I pulled out this record when I got back home and listening to it, I can understand my aunt's lack of enthusiasm. I really enjoy the record, but there is not much here that suggests the band's meteoric rise once they signed with Columbia Records. They sound like a bar band, albeit an extremely good one with excellent taste in material. Many of the songs are very well known covers. Their version of Big Joe Turner's classic "Shake Rattle and Roll" is highly energetic driven by Revere's hot organ riffing. They wisely avoid going up against Elvis by turning "Don't Be Cruel" into an instrumental that features Revere on organ dueling with Lindsay on sax with Lindsay winning. Their rocking version of Bill Doggett's hit instrumental "Honky Tonk" is excellent, one of the best versions that I've heard. Unfortunately there are also pedestrian performances of "So Fine" and "Hey Baby" that are less entertaining than the hit versions by the Fiestas and Bruce Channel. Their uninspired version of Hank Ballard's "Work with Me Annie" isn't much better aside from Revere's dynamic piano solo. The less famous covers include a punchy version of Ray Sharpe's "Linda Lu" that showcases Lindsay's charisma as a singer. The Delmore Brothers' country classic "Blues Stay Away From Me" is transformed into a high energy instrumental that makes it nearly unrecognizable. It is one of my favorite cuts on the record. Larry Bright's "Mojo Workout" suits the band's sound extremely well. They increase the tempo and Lindsay's gritty vocal gives the song plenty of oomph. It is another one of my favorites. Dave "Baby" Cortez's "Rinky Dink" is a vehicle for Revere to show his chops although Lindsay steals the spotlight with a brief but smoking sax solo. Their version of "Irresistible You" seems to be taken from the Bobby Darin version and Lindsay shows he can swing just as well as Darin with one of his strongest vocal performances on the album. The one original track on the album is "Crisco" (also known as "Crisco Party") and it is easily the best cut on the record. The record is worth buying for it alone. It is a frat-rock classic with a lascivious vocal from Lindsay that has future rock star written all over it. It is about boys, girls and a whole lotta Crisco and you can figure out the rest. Did kids really do stuff like this back then? I'll have to ask my aunt about that next time I see her. This album is too derivative to be essential, but it is a lot of fun and a terrific record for a toga party. Recommended to fans of the Wailers and the Kingsmen.