Classic Documentary: The Rolling Stones Gimme Shelter

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“It’s creating a sort of microcosmic society, which sets an example to the rest of America as to how one can behave in large gatherings.”
– Mick Jagger

“Altamont was supposed to be like Woodstock, only groovier, and their movie would be groovier still. Instead, the Stones got what no one had bargained for: a terrifying snapshot of the sudden collapse of the sixties.”
– Godfrey Cheshire

Gimme Shelter is a 1970 documentary film directed by Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin chronicling the last weeks of The Rolling Stones’ 1969 US tour which culminated in the disastrous Altamont Free Concert. The film is named after “Gimme Shelter”, the lead track from the group’s 1969 album Let It Bleed. The film was screened at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition. It is one of the greatest documentaries ever made, not just in the music documentary genre. The last third of the picture is painful to watch but difficult to turn away from.

Gimme Shelter (full documentary/concert movie):

The Maysles brothers filmed the first concert of the tour at Madison Square Garden in New York City. After the concert, the Maysles brothers asked the Rolling Stones if they could film them on tour, and the band agreed.

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August 15: The Beatles played at Shea Stadium in 1965

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August 15: The Beatles played at Shea Stadium in 1965

“Now, ladies and gentlemen, honoured by their country, decorated by their Queen, loved here in America, here are The Beatles!”
– Ed Sullivan

The Shea Stadium concert on 15 August was record-breaking and one of the most famous concert events of its era.  Over 55,000 people saw the concert.  “Beatlemania” was at one of its highest marks at the Shea show. Film footage taken at the concert shows many teenagers and women crying, screaming, and even fainting. The crowd noise was such that security guards can be seen covering their ears as The Beatles enter the field.

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The Beatles interview before Shea Stadium:

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August 13: Lynyrd Skynyrd released Pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd in 1973

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(Pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd) is the debut album from Lynyrd Skynyrd, released in 1973. The album features several of the band’s most well-known songs, including “Gimme Three Steps”, “Simple Man”, “Tuesday’s Gone” and “Free Bird”, the latter of which launched the band to national stardom.

Bassist Leon Wilkeson left the band during the album’s early recording sessions only playing on two tracks. Strawberry Alarm Clock guitarist Ed King was asked to fill in for Wilkeson on bass during the remaining sessions, as Wilkeson already wrote many of the bass parts. This left Skynyrd with only six official members at the time of the album’s release. Not long after, King remained with the band, and was made a member, so that they could replicate the triple-guitar lead during live performances. Wilkeson returned to the band when it was time to take the photo for the album cover and embark on the tour for the album. It was certified gold on December 18, 1974, platinum and 2x platinum on July 21 1987 by the RIAA.

Rolling Stone Magazine named it the 39 best debut album of all time:

From the git-go, these shaggy folks from deepest Jacksonville, Florida played hard, lived harder and shot from the hip, all three guitars blazing in music that blew past the Mason-Dixon line to become America’s next top boogie-rock. Discovered and produced by from essential mid-Sixties Dylan sideman Al Kooper, Skynyrd offered taut rockers including “Poison Whiskey” and the perpetual lighter (well, now iPhone) waving anthem “Freebird.” Perhaps the ultimate Southern rock band and this record aged shockingly well; just ask the Drive-By Truckers.

Here’s Lynyrd Skynyrd in their prime, a full set from BBC’s Old Grey Whistle Test (youtube playlist):

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August 12: Happy 67th Birthday Mark Knopfler

Mark-Knopfler

…. Actually we are soul mates. As far as guitar playing goes he never steps all over with fancy licks. Yeah, Mark was incredible. He helped make this record in a thousand ways, not only musically, which in itself would have been enough. Brilliant guy, I can’t say enough about him.
~Bob Dylan (Talking about Knopfler part in the making of “Infidels” – July 1983 to Martin Killer)

The most celebrated British guitar hero to emerge in the 1970s and ’80s, Mark Knopfler rose to fame as the leader of Dire Straits, and his songwriting and incisive guitar work played a decisive role in making them an international success story. At a time when punk and new wave were making technique for its own sake seem irrelevant, and metal was taking the guitar solo in noisier and unpredictable directions, Knopfler’s clean but dexterous picking proved there was still room for traditionalism and chops in mainstream rock & roll.
~Mark Deming (allmusic.com)

Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing (Alchemy Live – 1983):

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Townes Van Zandt to be inducted in Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame

Townes Van Zandt have been chosen, along with Bob Morrison, Beth Nielsen and Aaron Barker, to be included in the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame 9th of October this year.

The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was founded in 1970 and have 199 inductees today.

We think Van Zandt’s inclusion is long overdue and here are 11 reasons why. There are many more, but these gems really shine.

Marie she didn’t wake up this morning
She didn’t even try
She just rolled over and went to Heaven
My little boy safe inside

I laid them in the sun where somebody’d find them
Caught a Chesapeak on the fly
Marie will know I’m headed south
So’s to meet me by and by

Marie will know I’m headed south
So to meet me by and by

– Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt is one of the greatest songwriters in music-history. To narrow down my choice to just 11 songs is a pain. His 9 studio albums, and some compilations released after his death in 97 are so full of great songs that my task has been nearly impossible. I could pick 11 other songs in his songbook that are just as good, but today this is my list.

Marie:

Kurt Wolff (allmusic):
Townes Van Zandt’s music doesn’t jump up and down, wear fancy clothes, or beat around the bush. Whether he was singing a quiet, introspective country-folk song or a driving, hungry blues, Van Zandt’s lyrics and melodies were filled with the kind of haunting truth and beauty that you knew instinctively. His music came straight from his soul by way of a kind heart, an honest mind, and a keen ear for the gentle blend of words and melody. He could bring you down to a place so sad that you felt like you were scraping bottom, but just as quickly he could lift your spirits and make you smile at the sparkle of a summer morning or a loved one’s eyes — or raise a chuckle with a quick and funny talking blues. The magic of his songs is that they never leave you alone.

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August 6: The Beatles released “Help!” in 1965

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.. a big step forward, exploring doubt, loneliness, alienation, adult sexual longing, acoustic guitars, electric piano, bongos, castanets, and the finest George songs known to man. … Help! was utterly ruined in its U.S. version, which cut half the songs and added worthless orchestral soundtrack filler, so it’s always been underrated. But Help! is the first chapter in the astounding creative takeoff the Beatles were just beginning: the soulful bereavement of “Ticket to Ride,” the impossibly erotic gentleness of “Tell Me What You See,” the desperate falsetto and electric punch of “You’re Going to Lose That Girl.”
~rollingstone.com

…. the album’s masterpiece is McCartney’s brooding, deceptively simple chamber-pop ballad “Yesterday.” …  it’s compositionally complex, one of the first major pop songs to draw directly from classical music, juxtaposing acoustic guitar with a string quartet, shifting from minor to major chords. It set the stage for one of the most groundbreaking and innovative periods in The Beatles’ career, not to mention pop music in general.
~Mark Kemp (pastemagazine.com)

Help! – from a 6-song set filmed for British television in August of 1965:

From Wikipedia:

Released 6 August 1965
Recorded 15–19 February, 13 April, 10 May& 14–17 June 1965,
EMI Studios, London
Genre Rock
Length 34:20
Label Parlophone
Producer George Martin

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