Amoeblog

Monty Python’s Flying Circus - 39 years ago today

Posted by Whitmore, October 5, 2008 08:38pm | Post a Comment


39 years ago today
, light ceased radiating; the World stopped spinning, coughed up a hairball, then turned on its side and attempted to shake loose all the other furry dust berries clinging to its nipple-ly peaks. Fearful of this new creepy darkness, the World tried to catch the tail of a passing comet only to stagger badly and get singed by the fiery interloper.

But seconds before collapsing gloomily into one last catatonic stupor, the World accidentally stepped on the remote control, triggering a channel change and so discovered that there was in fact something worthwhile to watch on television.

October 5th 1969, Monty Python’s Flying Circus was unleashed onto the airwaves of the BBC … six rather handsome young gents (Terry Jones and Michael Palin from Oxford, Eric Idle, John Cleese and Graham Chapman from Cambridge and American born Terry Gilliam from a little school in Los Angeles called Occidental College) changed history itself by saving the World, and us, from sheer utter boredom.

Privilege

Posted by Whitmore, July 28, 2008 11:06pm | Post a Comment


I’ve often said coincidence does not exist, but I'll save that diatribe for another time. However, a couple of days ago, and for the first time, not one but two Paul Jones 45’s -- he’s the former lead singer for the 1960’s British invasion band Manfred Mann -- wandered into Amoeba from separate collections. Both of these singles are from the same soundtrack, Privilege, a film released in 1967 starring Paul Jones, who was making his big screen acting debut. Now, two days later, I find out that for the first time ever, Privilege will be released on DVD today. Coincidence or plot? I just don't know. Well, anyway...

The film was directed by Peter Watkins, whose highly controversial anti-nuclear drama The War Game won the 1966 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature (and was soon to be banned in Great Britain). Watkins once again doesn’t stray far from controversy in Privilege. Taking place in a totalitarian English State of the near future, specifically 1970, the dark comic vision of Privilege criticizes the media and its media manipulation, corporate culture and its corporate manipulation. It portrays a time where most everything seems to bounce off the absurd and neurotic teen pop-dom dominating the age and the happily tranquilized population is content with fluffy distractions. The main character, Steven Shorter, played by Paul Jones, is a rock god. His popularity and career have been meticulously engineered by a vast music corporation, reaching dizzying Beatlesque heights. But all this begins to crack when an artist, played by the original supermodel Jean Shrimpton, is hired to paint Steven Shorter’s portrait, and finds an unstable, empty shell of a man, lost in a lonely world, a puppet trapped by the demands of a music business out of control, and a simple singer victimized by all the excess, process, and success. Of course, the artist tries to rescue and prop up Steven Shorter before he becomes yet another statistic in the eternally doomed scenario of recyclable pop stars. But as can only happen in real life and/or rock melodramas, fortunes take a Machiavellian twist when rebellion is only a pop song away. Now that’s entertainment!

Continue reading...

Nick Drake, happy birthday ...

Posted by Whitmore, June 19, 2008 09:58am | Post a Comment


60 year ago today Nicholas Rodney Drake, enigmatic British folk musician, was born. Today he lives only in myth, legend and allegory. Drake, who released three albums in his lifetime, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon  failed to find a wide audience thirty odd years ago, but since his death in 1974 has found a continuing growth in popularity and influence.

Nick Drake was twenty years old when he signed to Island Records, releasing his debut album Five Leaves Left in 1969. Over the next few years he recorded only two other albums, though none sold more than five thousand copies in their initial releases. His reluctance to perform live or be interviewed no doubt contributed to his lack of commercial success.

Throughout his life Drake constantly battled depression. After the completion of his final album, 1972's Pink Moon, he ceased performing and recording, and chose to withdraw from society to his parents' home in rural Warwickshire. Drake died from an overdose of the prescribed antidepressant, amitriptyline, on November 25th 1974.

There was no public announcement or notice of his death. Initially there was no effort to even reissue his three albums, but in 1979 the box set Fruit Tree, compiling his three completed albums plus a handful of home recordings and left over sessions, was released. However, once again, sales were poor, the album received little notice from the press, and by 1983 Fruit Tree was deleted from the Island Records catalogue. Still, a fanatical following and interest never ceased. Musicians such as Robert Smith, Peter Buck, Kate Bush, and John Martyn cited him as an influence. In early 1999, BBC2 aired a documentary, A Stranger Among Us—In Search of Nick Drake. And most notably in 2000, Volkswagen featured the song Pink Moon in a television commercial, and within one month Drake had sold more records than he had in the previous thirty years.

Continue reading...

Please Please Me

Posted by Whitmore, March 22, 2008 07:29pm | Post a Comment

45 years ago today,  March 22, 1963, the Beatles released their first album Please Please Me. This mono version was rush-released to the public in the UK to capitalize on the success of the hit single of the same name which had reached #2 on the charts. The album contained six cover songs, but more importantly it contained eight songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. A stereo version of this album was later released in 1963 on April 26th.

In the U.S., most of the songs from Please Please Me were first released in 1964 on the Vee-Jay Records label on the renamed album Introducing The Beatles. And in 1965 a similar collection was issued once again on Capitol Records as The Early Beatles. The unexpurgated Please Please Me was not released in the U.S. until the Beatles catalog was released on CD in 1987.

Other than the singles and the flip sides of "Please Please Me" and "Love Me Do" (the Beatles' first single which had charted and reached #17 in the UK), all the other tracks were recorded in a marathon session on Monday, February 11th, 1963, at Abbey Road Studios. The Beatles, with George Martin producing, essentially recorded their live act in 9 hours and 45 minutes. The entire day's session cost around £400. And besides John, Paul, George Harrison and Ringo Starr playing their respective instruments, George Martin also played a little piano. The earlier tracks recorded the previous September and November had session player Andy White on drums, who has also recorded with the likes of Marlene Dietrich, Herman's Hermits, and Tom Jones.

The Klutz Cargo Adventures, epilogue ...

Posted by Whitmore, November 24, 2007 04:47pm | Post a Comment

You think people get crazy around here the day after Thanksgiving; check out this shopping frenzy in the UK last January. A cargo ship, the MSC Napoli, ran aground about a mile from the town of Branscombe, dumping more then 200 containers into the ocean. And what a bonanza on the beach, (if you didn’t mind the accompanying chemical and oil spill), some barrels were filled with perfume and wine, while others contained battery acid!  Some of the larger cargo containers held BMW cars, motorcycles, auto parts, tractors, bags of dog food, weird bric-a-brac and bales of wool. Police tried to close the beach to prevent crowds from ransacking the containers and seeking to claim ‘salvage rights’, but by the time the local scavengers were finished, about £1million worth of ‘treasure’ was carted away to make a little seaside village an even more idyllic place to live, and shop. That is if you don’t mind the battery acid killing off the local sea life …

 

BACK  <<  1  2  3  4  >>  NEXT