February 15, 2013

Rock Evolution - Rockin' in the Free World


From You Tube: 
BBC's landmark 10-part series on the evolution of rock music with the innovators of the late-1940s and 1950s. For forty years, rock and roll has continued to reinvent itself, to challenge, to upset as well as delight, to break rules and make new ones. Dancing in the Street is a full-scale salute to that turbulent roller-coaster ride and an accompanying guide to the ten-part BBC series. Well-known American music journalist Robert Palmer illuminates the roots of rock in the fifties and explores its development through to its continuing growth today. In ten key chapters he investigates how the many tributaries - from blues and gospel to reggae, punk and rap - converge and connect.

(extract www.ovguide.com)      
Some years ago – around 1995 – I watched a BBC documentary series called “Dancing In The Street”.

I also have the book of the same name. Thankfully some of this series is posted on You Tube and I have included one episode above.

The book and the series complement each other: they are not mirror images.
The book and series are quite difficult to find now.

I have only seen it once but what I do recall of the main points being made are below, and not necessarily in order of importance.

Firstly, the fact that music reflects cultural and societal changes. I think this is very obvious to any one who has lived through these times and now we can add technological advances as well.

Secondly, I recall that a lot was made of the fact that in the USA music was segregated, just like society.

This barrier was broken down eventually, and the main contributors to this were Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis who had been exposed to Rock and Blues music which was actually the music of the African-American population.
The phrase ‘rock and roll’ was slang for sex.

An example of segregation occurring in Australian music can be seen in the recent movie “The Sapphires”. I had no idea they existed until I saw the film.

Also, mention is made of those who advanced, or contributed to, the progress of contemporary music.

This of course means that some of the most famous singers don’t rate a mention while other lesser-known performers do.

A good example of this is that Cliff Richard doesn’t, but his lead guitarist virtuoso from The Shadows, Hank Marvin, does.

The article below covers this rather well and also makes the point that technological advances and human ingenuity have changed the course of the music industry and society quite dramatically.

While watching the Grammy awards last Sunday, it occurred to me that American culture has been defined by music ever since the end of World War II. After the Germans and Japanese surrendered in 1945, millions of GI's returned home to marry and begin families. The big band era of good time music accompanied that, and romantic singers like Frank Sinatra ruled the day.

In the fifties, many young people, tired of conformity, began to rebel. The rise of Elvis Presley illuminated that rebellion. Then the angst kind of died out as Chubby Checker ushered in the Twist in 1960 and Americans began dancing all over the place.

Exhausted from doing the Pony, young consumers eventually began to respond to the snappy melodies of an English group called The Beatles and, once again, music mania gripped the nation. The British invasion featured the four mop-tops, The Rolling Stones and The Animals, among others.
Then Vietnam emerged.

That led to protest music, drug-fueled lyrics, as well as introspective tunes by The Doors, The Jefferson Airplane, and Bob Dylan. Acid rock soon followed and everything was very far out, man.

After about seven years, that intensity died out. The dark themes receded and dancing once again came back. The age of disco took hold as The Bee Gees and other polyester-clad groups dominated the charts. The good times of the late 1970's unleashed Madonna, Michael Jackson, and Earth, Wind and Fire. But it all ended when the AIDS scare arrived in 1984. Suddenly, the uninhibited party became dangerous.

Then music kind of meandered around for a while until rap emerged. At first, the anger-fueled recordings were confined to urban radio stations and a niche audience. But when Elton John sang a duet with the white rapper Eminem on a Grammy telecast, rap went mainstream. Massive parental headaches followed.

The rise of the Internet signaled the slow collapse of record stores and the music industry quickly fragmented after the turn of the century. Consumers could now download songs into portable machines and bop at will. Americans no longer had to depend on the radio to hear their favorite tunes.

Since then, there have been a series of pop superstars but no real purpose or point-of-view in the music which, again, may reflect the current time. I mean what do Lady Gaga and Jennifer Lopez really stand for? Narcissism? Just asking.

The talent is still there. I heard Justin Bieber do a knockout version of Paul McCartney's classic "Let it Be." And Bruno Mars with his little hat was pretty good on the Grammy show this year.

We are definitely living in confusing, rapidly changing times as machines are now dominating leisure options for many consumers. Fifty years ago, we all were humming the same tunes heard over and over on AM radio. The good vibrations of The Beach Boys thrilled Maine as well as Malibu. The music actually brought Americans together.

Today, the tuneless lure of cyber-space has pulled us apart. Perhaps forever. 

Article by, and with thanks to Bill O’Reilly

Further to this topic - Discs go at DJs as digital takes over

( I am glad I have quite a few of them!)

Many thanks to SP for sending me this article.

February 12, 2013

Becoming The Beatles





I recently watched this documentary, and as far as I am concerned you can never have too much of the Beatles!


Unfortunately all the You Tube Clips have been taken down.

The Beatles: Computer Maps Can Track Their Musical Evolution
George Harrison's Apple Years Box Set To Be Released

The Art of McCartney Project
The Beatles: Good News For Fans This week
Paul McCartney: Destiny Game Song "Hope For The Future"
Beatles Lyrics Reveal Enduring Words Of Love And Life
Glyn Johns: Defining That Classic-Rock Sound
The Traveling Wilburys: Their History
George Harrison and The Bee Gees To Receive Recording Academy Honors 
John Lennon or Paul McCartney? Matt Schichter Documentary Offers 550 Answers
Are These The Best Double Albums Ever?
Sir Paul McCartney To Induct Ringo Starr Into Hall Of Fame
'American Pie' Lyrics Sell For $1.2 million In New York

 Penny Lane: Original On The Block, Minus The Fanfare
Lost Beatles US Concert Movie Blocked From Release
The Three Lennon-McCartney Hits That Went to No. 1 Without Lennon or McCartney 
 Beatles’ First Recording Contract to Be Auctioned For An Estimated $150,000 
The Beatles 1 To Be Reissued With 50 Videos  
John Lennon Born 75 Years Ago Today  
John Lennon's Long-Lost Gibson J-160E Guitar Sells for Record $2.4 Million
George Harrison's Catalogue Is Now Streaming  
Ringo Starr Reflects On His 35 Year Marriage
George Harrison: Tribute GeorgeFest Is Coming


February 08, 2013

The 2013 Sony World Photography Awards




Some are inspiring, some are disturbing and some beyond description.

I have posted some of my favourites.

The Sony World Photography Awards, an annual competition hosted by the World Photography Organisation, has recently announced its shortlist of winners. 

This year's contest attracted more than 122,000 entries from 170 countries. The photographs are being judged in six different competition categories, including Professional, Open, and Student Focus. 
The organizers have been kind enough to share some of their shortlisted images with In Focus, gathered below. 
Winners are scheduled to be announced in March and April. [40 photos]

Many thanks to The Atlantic
More pictures there, as well as more details and credits.

Thanks to Jared for sending me this!

February 06, 2013

Emmylou Harris Pays Tribute to Gram Parsons on Her New Album - Hard Bargain

It’s great to see EmmyLou Harris paying tribute to Gram Parsons on her latest album. 
However I think she possibly does just this whenever she performs.
The video above, “From Boulder To Birmingham” fully displays her emotions regarding Gram Parsons. 
According to Wiki:
"Boulder to Birmingham is a track from the 1975 album Pieces of the Sky by Emmylou Harris.

The song was written by Harris and Bill Danoff. It has served as something of a signature tune for the artist and recounts her feelings of grief in the years following the death of country rock star and mentor Gram Parsons

Early in her career, Harris toured with Gram Parsons and sang on his 1973 album GP

The song is known for its chorus "I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham/I would hold my life in his saving grace/I would walk all the way from Boulder to Birmingham/If I thought I could see, I could see your face."

Danoff recorded the song with his group, the Starland Vocal Band, on their self-titled debut album. A version of the song was a hit in New Zealand for The Hollies, reaching number ten there, and later appeared on their album A Crazy Steal

A version was recorded in 1975 by Scott Walker and the Walker Brothers on their No Regrets album. 

In 2012, American alternative rock band, The Fray, released a cover of the song featuring Harris as a bonus track on their record, Scars & Stories.

Dolly Parton included a cover on the song on her 1976 All I Can Do album.

Joan Baez cut a live version of the song and it appeared in her album "Joan Baez: The Complete A&M Recordings" (released September 23, 2003)."
I think it also does the same for many of his fans, but only EmmyLou can have the intensity of feelings than none of us could possibly ever experience, let alone write and sing about.

Article by Patrick Doyle
Emmylou Harris was an unknown singer in her early twenties when Gram Parsons saw her perform at a folk club in Washington, D.C. in 1971. "I was knocked out by her singing," he said later. He recruited her the following year to sing on 1973’s classic album GP and the subsequent tour, but he died unexpectedly the same year a drug overdose. On "The Road" the kickoff track on her haunting new album Hard Bargain, Harris addresses their relationship, singing, "I took what you left and put it to some use." 

On the album, Harris also sings about post-Katrina New Orleans, becoming a grandmother ("Goodnight Old World") and the death of her friend Kate McGarrigle ("Darlin' Kate"). On a warm spring afternoon, Harris settled in to a midtown Manhattan restaurant, ordered a salad and reflected her new album, what it’s like listening to her Seventies classics and singing with Bob Dylan on 1976’s Desire.

You sang about Gram Parsons on [1975's] "Boulder to Birmingham." What made you want to sing about him again? How did you approach writing about him differently this time? 

Well, we’ve got about 30 years between it all. And "Boulder to Birmingham" was written in the throes of deep grief and shock, after losing someone that quickly and unexpectedly. So that was just a way of dealing with it, whereas now, you’re looking back from a great distance with a great deal of affection. It’s terrible that Gram died so young, but I’m grateful that our paths crossed. Really, it’s a thank you to him and kind of a tip of the hat to the universe to say 'I’m still here and I was given all these wonderful things because of that meeting with this person.’ It’s just a reflection.

You found a way to sing with him so naturally. He doesn’t seem like someone who ever practiced to be an amazing singer, but he seemed perfectly natural with you.
He was a very natural singer, Gram. He really understood country music, but he was a child of the Sixties, so he had one foot in the rock world and one foot in the southern country world. But I think as a songwriter he brought his own poetry to the lyrics. He could take a song like "Sin City," which has a very traditional country form, and put apocalyptic lyrics to it. He sort of disguised it. He sort of takes you aback when you actually start listening to his lyrics.

You put out a rarities collection in 2007. What’s it like for you when you hear the classic material you recorded in the Seventies, where you mixed your own songs with songs by artists like Hank Williams and the Louvin Brothers?
I’m very happy with it. Sometimes you feel like it’s a different person because my voice sounds so different, but it is me. And I pretty much loved every song that I did. And I loved those collections because I was able to take what I call my little orphans – songs that maybe had been on something nobody had heard of. For example, you know that record The Legend of Jesse James I did with Levon Helm and Johnny Cash. I remember I was listening to the songs that I sang on that, "Wish We Were Back in Missouri" and "Heaven Ain’t Ready For You Yet," I actually started crying 'cause I hadn’t heard it in a long time.

When you write now, do you find yourself reflecting more than writing about that particular moment?
I think you can’t help but look back because there’s more to look back at than there is to look forward to. It’s just the nature. I mean "Lonely Girl" [on Hard Bargain] – I was playing those chords on the guitar and they sounded so nice and then I started thinking, "God, time is just going so fast." All of a sudden, you’re talking about the passing of time and reflecting on your life, but also kind of embracing where you are.

Bob Dylan just turned 70. You sang on Desire. What were those sessions like?
Well, it was all a bit of a blur, because I didn’t know the songs and I didn’t know Dylan. We met, shook hands, and started rolling tape. I’d never heard the songs before. That’s the way I remember. I think "Durango" might have been the first one. "One More Cup Of Coffee" was a little bit later.

In the back of my mind, I thought, "Oh, I can fix any of these things because when everybody leaves I can just go with the engineer and I can go back." But of course I tried that and it didn’t work. That album was like throwing paint on a canvas. Whatever happened was what it was supposed to be. I guess that’s another part of the genius of Dylan — he knew exactly what he was doing. I didn’t know what I was; I was a color, an instrument, part of what he had in mind or just the moment. It didn’t matter if I had gotten it pitch perfect – it wouldn’t have mattered.

Is there any song off Desire that you particularly loved what you did with it?
It was a little hard for me listening to the record at first because I felt that I was out of tune. But I got past that. I love all those songs, I have to say. There’s something about that record that has a certain magic. It’s a very romantic album. But then there’s "Joey," which I love singing. [sings 'Joey, Joey.’] It’s sort of a cry, a cry for the depths of despair.

Article with thanks to: Rolling Stone Magazine.

Many thanks to Annie for this!

This picture of Gram and EmmyLou is a still shot from Gandulf Henning’s BBC documentary.


EmmyLou Harris Interview from the Sydney Morning Herald


Behind The Song: The Rolling Stones, “Wild Horses”

Altamont at 45: The Most Dangerous Rock Concert Ever?

Emmylou Harris And Rodney Crowell Will Tour Australia - 2015

Don Henley Recruits Mick Jagger And Dolly Parton For Country Album Cass County

Linda Ronstadt: A Lifetime Grammy Award And How The Eagles Became A Legendary Band

Glyn Johns: Defining That Classic-Rock Sound

Gram Parsons And Rick Nelson: Early Pioneers of 'California Dreaming'

Rick Nelson Validated
Are These The Top 10 Songs Named After Famous People?

February 02, 2013

Mark Gee: Full Moon Silhouettes



Uploaded by Mark Gee

Full Moon Silhouettes is something that I’ve been wanting to capture for a over a year now. 

The video is a real time capture of the moon rising over the Mount Victoria Lookout in the capital city of Wellington, New Zealand

On the evening of the 28th January 2013, after a lot of planning and many failed attempts, I finally managed to pull it off.

There were numerous factors I had to consider and get right to capture the footage. The weather, moon phases and finding a suitable location where I could actually get the moon rising directly over the lookout.

 Finally it all came together – I found the perfect location, and the weather in Wellington was amazing! Luckily there were people watching the moon rise from the Mount Victoria Lookout. I didn’t know what to expect with the performance of everyone up there, but I couldn’t have directed it better myself, even though they had no idea I was filming them. 

I shot 8 minutes of footage between 9.14pm and 9.22pm and the finished edit shows about the first 3 minutes of that.

Technically, getting the shot was quite difficult. I was 2.1km away from my subject, and there was no room for error. I only had one chance of getting the shot right on the night. Thankfully it all came together, and what I ended up with was this wonderful performance of total strangers silhouetted against the full moon as it rose above the lookout.

Technical details – The footage was shot with a Canon 1D MkIV in video mode, with a Canon EF 500mm f/4 lens and a Canon 2x Extender, giving me the equivalent of 1300mm focal length. The camera was mounted on a Sachtler tripod with a Sachtler FSB 6 head.
I’ve also had a lot of comment on the music I’ve used. 

The music is a royalty free track which I licensed for this short. 

It’s Tenderness by Dan Phillipson, and you can find it here: http://premiumbeat.com/royalty_free_music/songs/tenderness

Have a look at the film above, and feel free to share and leave comments below. Maybe one of these silhouetted strangers will even recognise themselves!

With many thanks to Mark Gee.