music friday: fillmore west 1968

On July 9-11, 1968, the Fillmore West had a "Blues Bash". Opening was Freddie King. King had a big hit with "Hide Away" in 1960. He was influential on many guitarists, including Eric Clapton, who recorded "Hide Away" early in his career with John Mayall. King is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Here he is in 1972:

Buddy Guy was and is even more influential than King, and he is still with us and still playing live shows (King died at an early age). He, too, is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and while playing at the White House in 2012, he convinced President Obama to sing a bit of "Sweet Home Chicago". Here he is from a 1969 movie, Supershow, playing with Jack Bruce and Buddy Miles:

Headlining was The Electric Flag, which was formed by Mike Bloomfield (who died at an early age), who is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The band, which combined rock and blues and soul, with a horn section, also featuring the aforementioned Buddy Miles. Here is the first song from their first-ever concert, at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967:

And here is the song of theirs that I love the most ... it always takes me back to 1968:


my letterboxd season challenge 2019-20

I finished "My Letterboxd Season Challenge 2019-20", "A 33 week long challenge where the goal each week is to watch a previously unseen feature length film from a specified category." I began with Shadows in Paradise last September, and 8 months later, I finished with A Town Called Panic. In between were 31 new-to-me movies. It was a great way to be introduced to films that might be outside of my usual choices. Some stats:

Earliest movie: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1920.

Most recent movie: The Shape of Water, 2017.

Longest movie: Empire of the Sun, 153 minutes.

Shortest movie: Lessons of Darkness, 54 minutes.

Highest rating: The Shape of Water, French Cancan, 9/10.

Lowest rating: The Beast of Yucca Flats, 1/10.

Looking forward to next year!


music friday: tim buckley

On the final episode of The Monkees TV show, Tim Buckley was invited to sing.

Jim Farber wrote a good overview of Buckley's career at the Music Aficionado site, "Who Remember's Jeff Buckley's Father?" It includes a Spotify playlist. Here are a couple of my favorite Tim Buckley songs. First, from my favorite of his albums, Goodbye and Hello:

From Happy Sad:

And, from 1974, a cover of Fred Neil's "Dolphins":


music friday: steve miller

[Edited to add: it's Chuck Berry's birthday!]
 
Steve Miller has a new box set out, Welcome to the Vault. It includes plenty of rarities, and is a fine package for fans.
 
This isn't the first such effort from Miller. In 1994, he released a box set so inclusive it had a conversation between a 5-year-old Miller and Les Paul.
 
But despite the kitchen sink approach to these two anthologies, one track has yet to make the cut: "Your Old Lady" from the soundtrack to Revolution. Since some of us believe that song features Miller's all-time greatest geetar blast, its absence is odd.
 
When I complained about this on Twitter, my brother noted that one live track, "Super Shuffle", included many of the hottest licks from Miller's "Your Old Lady" solos. "Super Shuffle is taken from Monterey Pop. You can see an excerpt here (not sure it will play if you aren't a subscriber to the Criterion site):
 
 
Looking around, I found a couple of promo videos from 1968, apparently connected to the band's first single. The A-side is "Roll with It" from Children of the Future:

The B-side was "Sittin' in Circles", written by Barry Goldberg, perhaps most famous for playing in Bob Dylan's backup band for the infamous "Dylan Goes Electric" performance at the Newport Folk Festival. Goldberg and Miller first met up in Chicago in the mid-60s. Goldberg was also a member of The Electric Flag. Goldberg recorded this song himself at least once, and it was on the first Electric Flag album. This video is introduced by an old friend:

Finally, the version of "It Hurts Me Too" on Welcome to the Vault is from Chuck Berry Live at Fillmore Auditorium. I've had that album for a long time ... it was re-released with a few extra tracks awhile back. They're all on Spotify. While I can't specify the date ... that album was recorded during a long stand by Berry with Miller's band as backup, and I can't remember which of the shows we saw, nor am I sure which ones ended up on that album.

Bonus: for the billionth time, I'll add "Your Old Lady" to this blog:


top three of each year

I've been spending a little time at the Letterboxd website ... this is what happens when you're retired, I guess. A couple of fellows from Germany uploaded a list of their top three films of each year, and I got inspired enough to create my own list. It starts in 1924 and goes through 2018. Two years (1926 and 1929) only got two movies, so the entire list is comprised of 283 movies. The thing that interested me the most was the recent films, because when I make Top 50 lists or whatever, I always end up with lots of old movies and not enough new ones. By forcing myself to pick three from each year, I was able to give recent years some space. So, to take a couple of years at random, from 2018, Black Panther, Roma, and Springsteen on Broadway made the list, while 2005 offered A History of Violence, The Death of Mr. Lazarescu, and Dave Chappelle's Block Party. Top three from 1924? Sherlock, Jr., Greed, and The Navigator (lots of Buster Keaton in the silent years).

You can check out the list here:

Top 3 of each year, 1924-2018


music friday: b.b. king, 1968

On June 6-8, 1968, The Mothers of Invention headlined shows at the Fillmore (first night) and Winterland (next two nights). The supporting acts were B.B. King and Booker T. and the M.G.'s. It's a good example of the kinds of diverse shows Bill Graham would put on in those days. The Mothers were experimental rock, King was blues, Booker and the M.G.'s were R&B. All are in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Jazz Casual was a TV show out of KQED in San Francisco that ran occasionally from 1960-1968, shown on NET (which later became PBS). The host was critic Ralph J. Gleason. A look at Gleason's guest list boggles the mind: Dizzy Gillespie, Dave Brubeck, Carmen McRae, Sonny Rollins, Louis Armstrong, John Coltrane, Mel Tormé, Count Basie, and many more. In May of 1968, the guest was B.B. King. It gives an example of what B.B.'s music was like at the time. The band is B.B. King (Guitar), Sonny Freeman (Drums), Jim Toney (Organ), Mose Thomas (Trumpet), and Lee Gatling (Saxophone).


political films

Another list. This time, we were asked to name our favorite political films, leaving us to define "political". There was a complicated point system that allowed for different numbers of movies in a response. In my case, I voted for ten movies, with points totaling 100 and no film getting more than 30 points. Here is my ballot, with points and a link to my reviews:

The Sorrow and the Pity 30 points
The Rules of the Game 20
The Passion of Joan of Arc 15
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days 14
The Lives of Others 13
The Battle of Chile (Parts 1 & 2) 3
Harlan County, USA 2
The Leopard 1
The Battle of Algiers 1
Wild in the Streets 1 (Oddly, I've never written about this movie, although I assigned it once in a class)

Here are the top ten in the final poll, with links when relevant:

  1. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)
  2. Dr. Strangelove (1964)
  3. Election (1999)
  4. The Battle of Algiers (1966)
  5. Nashville (1975)
  6. All the President’s Men (1976)
  7. Paths of Glory (1957)
  8. The Rules of the Game (1939)
  9. 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (2007)
  10. Do the Right Thing (1989)


music friday: dr. john

Had a different post ready for today, but made a quick change after hearing of the death of Mac Rebennack, Dr. John, The Night Tripper. This will be quicker than he deserves.

I first heard of Dr. John on his debut album, Gris-Gris, in 1968. I have written at length about the importance of the emergent FM "Underground" Radio on me as a teen. Gris-Gris came out as that radio was coming alive. Like many, I was conversant with New Orleans music because it was such a crucial element of early rock and roll. But I knew nothing of the culture, so when Gris-Gris came out, it was as if someone from Mars had made a record. There were a lot of weird records made in the psychedelic era. Many of them are junk, few of them had a lasting impact, even if I personally still listen to a lot of that music to this day. Gris-Gris may have been the most bizarre album of its time, and that's saying something. It was steeped in New Orleans' musical and cultural traditions. Not really knowing this, I experienced the album as weirder than it really was ... while it's still bizarre, listening to it now makes much more sense, because we can place it within our better knowledge of the traditions, and because we've listened to Dr. John for decades.

Here's a selection of his work. First, the lead track from Gris-Gris:

It was inevitable that the Doctor would turn to "Iko Iko", which he recorded for his excellent 1972 album, Dr. John's Gumbo. I've always been partial to this short video from some years ago which shows off his astounding piano playing:

In 1973, he finally had his hit single:

And in 1976, he turned up at The Last Waltz:

The last track on Gris-Gris was arguably its best: "I Walk on Guilded Splinters". While that entire album impressed me with its to-me other-worldliness, "Guilded Splinters" made for good cover material. One person made a Spotify playlist called "100 Versions" ... the title is a bit of an exaggeration, there are only 22 songs, but still:

Here's one of the tracks on that playlist: Cher's version from 1969.

Finally, Dr. John occasionally turned up on the late, lamented series Treme. "Tryin' to show Ron Carter somethin' on the bass, it's like tryin' to show a whore how to turn a trick. It's unpossible maneuver." (Apologies in advance for my pathetic attempt to translate what the Doctor is saying.)


music friday: frequently played albums

The question has been asked on Twitter: What 5 albums have you listened to most in your life? Be honest, not trendy. I don't know how to be honest ... I mean, if I ask Last.fm, which has been tracking my Spotify usage for a long time, the album I have listened to the most is Pink's The Truth About Love, which I'm pretty sure doesn't reach the numbers of stuff from the 60s, to begin with. So, keeping all that in mind, here is what I came up with, in no particular order.

Honorable Mention to Children of the Future, The Velvet Underground and Nico, Dirty Mind, Surrealistic Pillow, Beggars Banquet.

Personal note: The White Album was released on November 22, 1968. My then girlfriend/current wife gave it to me for a Xmas present.


music friday: january 18, 1968

The top five from 51 years ago, from the Billboard charts:

5) Gladys Knight and the Pips, "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"

4) The Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett, "Woman, Woman"

3) The Monkees, "Daydream Believer"

2) John Fred and the Playboys, "Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)"

1) The Beatles, "Hello Goodbye"

A bonus: #36: