The widely accepted Elvis narrative is that the Vegas period was the nadir of his career, but this film argues that Elvis reached his peak both as a singer and performer in the first few years of his Vegas period. He became, in those short years, the greatest performer on earth. The film tracks this five-year renaissance with some of his key musical and artistic collaborators of the period, including the creator of his most memorable jumpsuits, to celebrate the greatest pop reinvention of all time. (BBC) Continue reading “BBC documentary: Elvis the Rebirth of the King (2017)”→
Few if any figures in blues loom as large as Howlin’ Wolf, yet there’s been a sad lack of footage of this staggering man. This director’s cut from the When the Sun Goes Down-The Secret History of Rock & Roll series is packed with never-before-seen live footage, rare Shindig footage presented by Mick Jagger and Brian Jones, interviews with bandmates and family and more. An absolute must for music-history and blues fans.
Chester Arthur Burnett (June 10, 1910 – January 10, 1976), known as Howlin’ Wolf, was a Chicago blues singer, guitarist, and harmonica player, originally from Mississippi. With a booming voice and imposing physical presence, he is one of the best-known Chicago blues artists. The musician and critic Cub Koda noted, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.” Producer Sam Phillips recalled, “When I heard Howlin’ Wolf, I said, ‘This is for me. This is where the soul of man never dies.'” Several of his songs, including “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”, have become blues and blues rock standards. In 2011, Rolling Stone magazine ranked him number 54 on its list of the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.
“My music is the spiritual expression of what I am — my faith, my knowledge, my being…When you begin to see the possibilities of music, you desire to do something really good for people, to help humanity free itself from its hangups…I want to speak to their souls.”
All a musician can do is to get closer to the sources of nature, and so feel that he is in communion with the natural laws.
John Coltrane Quartet – Impressions (video)
‘Being in a band is the one time in my life that I’m a real team player.’ – Chrissie Hynde
Chrissie Hynde offer us a glimpse into her backstage life through this fine documentary, Arena: Alone with Chrissie Hynde (aired February 2017). Not so much a history lesson as a glimpse into the everyday life of one of the most interesting woman in rock/music the last decades. Intersped with some great performances by Pretenders and Chrissie Hynde.
Director: Nicola Roberts
“Arena spent the summer with supercool self-confessed rock chick Chrissie Hynde – shopping for clothes in Paris, hanging out with Sandra Bernhard in New York, life in London and a special trip back to her home town of Akron, Ohio.
A thoughtful and intimate portrait of a ‘lone, hungry, irritable wolf’, featuring a glorious live performance at one of London’s newest venues.
In this expanded version, Chrissie also takes us on a walking tour of Nashville and meets up with Dan Auerbach – the lead singer of the Black Keys who produced her latest album.”
The best music documentary ever made: Heartworn Highways
For it is just that, the best documentary about music I have ever seen! It looks like a home movie, you feel like you get insight into a world long gone and you feel like looking into a world just for the invited.
It is up on YouTube , so catch it before it gets taken down (or better, buy yourself a copy so you can see it as often as you want).
Heartworn Highways is made by James Szalapski whose vision captured some of the founders of the Outlaw Country and Singer/Songwriter movement in Texas and Tennessee in the last weeks of 1975 and the first weeks of 1976.The film was not released theatrically until 1981.
Highlights for me: The visit to Townes Van Zandt’s caravan and the Christmas party at Guy and Susanna Clark (especially Steve Earle singing Mercenary Song).
Tom Waits is one of the most original musicians of the last five decades. Renowned for his gravelly voice and dazzling mix of musical styles, he’s also one of modern music’s most enigmatic and influential artists.
His songs have been covered by Bruce Springsteen, Rod Stewart and Norah Jones, among many others. But Waits has always pursued his own creative vision, with little concern for musical fashion.
In a long career of restless reinvention, from the barfly poet of his early albums to the junkyard ringmaster of Swordfishtrombones, his songs chronicle lives from the margins of American society – drifters, dreamers, hobos and hoodlums – and his music draws on a rich mix of influences, including the blues, jazz, Weimar cabaret and film noir.
Using rare archive, audio recordings and interviews, this film is a bewitching after-hours trip through the surreal, moonlit world of Waits’ music – a portrait of a pioneering musician and his unique, alternative American songbook.
Executive Producer Richard Bright
Director James Maycock
Production Manager Fiona Crawford
Production Coordinator Fiona Dorman
Editor Bradley Richards
Camera Operator Luke Finn
Interviewed Guest: Terry Gilliam, Lucinda Williams, Ian Rankin, Ed Harcourt, Ralph Carney, Bones Howe, Ute Lemper, Nitin Sawhney, Guy Garvey and Jim Sclavunos