Category Archives: Media

2016 ➤ On film: two electrifying hours of The Beatles as they’ve never been seen and heard

The Beatles, Eight Days a Week, Ron Howard, documentary, film, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, Swinging Sixties, live concert, vintage, pop music, Shea Stadium, touring,

Pristine footage: The Beatles play Shea Stadium in August 1965. (Image: SubaFilms)

LAST NIGHT AT A LONDON CINEMA I saw the most exciting live pop concert since the same band played live in the Swinging Sixties. Ron Howard’s new Beatles documentary, Eight Days A Week about the touring years 1963-66, is a sensational feast of long-lost performance footage that confronts us with the Fab Four’s raw onstage energy and pounding tempo – the audio as gorgeously restored as the images. This two-hour celebration of Beatle genius goes behind the clichés of hysteria to give us Access All Areas. It delivers one revelation after another, from Paul’s “Oh-my-God” moment when Ringo joined the band, to the jaw-dropping recording of a top-ten single in 90 minutes of studio time, to their 1964 triumph for civil rights when the band refused to tour in the US until audience segregation was abandoned at their venues.

New interviews from Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney keep dropping gems of insight about this the most commercially successful group in pop history, while vintage footage does as much justice to lippy John Lennon and “quiet” George Harrison who are no longer with us.

Throughout this joyous moptops-into-men odyssey we’re wide-eyed at the sheer cheek of these multimedia superstars, aged between 19 and 22, who created their own interview style by pinging back witty ad-libs to questions from the world’s media. The downside was mass hysteria from teenaged babyboom fans laying siege to hotels and airports where they repeatedly overwhelmed police and security on an often scarifying scale.

Beatle albums sat at No 1 in the charts for 20 to 30 weeks at a time – more No 1 albums than any other musical act. Their 20 No 1 hit singles on the Billboard Hot 100 chart remain unchallenged.

The Beatles, Eight Days a Week, Ron Howard, documentary, film, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, John Lennon, George Harrison, Swinging Sixties, live concert, vintage, pop music, Shea Stadium, touring,

Ron Howard with Paul and Ringo this week: “I love this photo that was taken yesterday at Abbey Road Studios in historic Studio 2 while we were promoting The Beatles: Eight Days a Week”

Everything The Beatles did was without precedent. Among their innovations they launched arena rock and at Shea Stadium Howard’s doc ensures that we hear George’s guitar chords above the screaming audience of 55,000 fans. As a shock reminder of Sixties technology, Vox had built three new amps for the Beatles, each souped up to 100 watts (!!!) specially for touring America, their output being relayed via microphones to feed the stadium’s tinny loudspeaker system!!!

It is a breath-taking source of inspiration to know that during The Beatles’ far from meteoric early years, this Liverpudlian band of brothers had played at least 456 live gigs before signing their recording contract with EMI. Yes, 456 !!! With that amount of practice, it should be no surprise to find that their legacy amounts to 237 original compositions – songs which most people on the planet can hum, while the most radical among them personify the Sixties counterculture. As the best-selling band in history, the Fabs revolutionised all of music for ever.

Howard’s previous reality epics include the wonderful Apollo 13 and the gripping joust, Frost/Nixon. This week he told The Guardian: “I began to think of the Beatles story as like Das Boot: they’re in it together, they have each other, they know what their objective is, but, y’know, it’s a dangerous world out there.”

WHAT THE PRESS ARE SAYING

➢ Ron Howard trashes the idea that there’s nothing new to say about the Beatles – The Guardian:
This is about the Beatles as live phenomenon, and the fact that their music was all the more remarkable because it had to be heard above the scream – that ambient sound of sex, excitement and modernity, mixed in with a thin chirrup of press envy. The scream was an important part of it. . . an almost unbroken four-year, semi-improvised multimedia performance for which there was no pre-existing template – not simply the music but the giant public spectacle and public scrutiny.

➢ 10 Things we learned from Eight Days a Week
– Rolling Stone:

In February 1964, the band and their entourage occupied nearly the entire 12th floor of the Plaza NYC, including the 10-room presidential suite. But despite the space, the four friends retired to smaller quarters. “The four of us ended up in the bathroom just to get a break from the incredible pressure,” Starr says.

➢ “We were force-grown, like rhubarb,” says John Lennon
– Daily Telegraph:

The film shrewdly draws a line between the Beatles’ mischievous sense of humour and their long-time producer George Martin’s earlier life recording alternative comedy. Martin had worked with the Goons, an enormous influence on the band’s growing lyrical eccentricity in that period, as well as their off-the-cuff ribbing of strait-laced reporters.

REMASTERED UK FOOTAGE, MANCHESTER 1963

Previously at Shapers of the 80s:

➢ No wonder The Beatles changed the shape of music after 456 sessions practising in public

➢ 1963, With The Beatles the day Kennedy was shot: “The second house was distinctly more subdued”

➢ 1966, More popular than Jesus: the fascinating Lennon interview in full

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2016 ➤ Van Jones reveals Prince’s humanitarian activities to CNN

➢ American political activist and friend reveals extent of Prince’s philanthropy on CNN – reported at Bring Me The News:

Stories about the Purple One’s generosity are starting to emerge in the days following his death, with his close friend Van Jones lifting the curtain on his humanitarian endeavours in an interview with CNN (which you can watch above).

Prince, YesWeCode

July 2014: Prince at the #YesWeCode Launch, at Essence Music Festival

As a practising Jehovah’s Witness, Jones says, Prince was “not allowed to speak publicly about any of his good acts” but Jones felt that now was the time people knew more about his charitable giving over the years.

Chief among the projects he helped fund is #YesWeCode, an initiative led by Jones aiming to teach 100,000 low-income, urban youths learn how to code to help them get jobs in the tech world. Jones says 15 major technology companies now work with “kids in the hood” to help them break into Silicon Valley through the project.

According to the L.A. Times, Jones said the inspiration for the idea came following the Trayvon Martin verdict, with Prince saying to Jones: “Every time people see a young black man wearing a hoodie, they think, he’s a thug. But if they see a young white guy wearing a hoodie they think, oh that might be Mark Zuckerberg. That might be a dot-com billionaire” . . . / Continued online

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince ‘A funny cat’ and ‘sole authentic genius’ of the 1980s

➢ Elsewhere at Shapersofthe80s:
Prince’s raunchy earliest videos and his last

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➤ Come on, Davie Jones – it’s time you cheered us all up

David Bowie, tributes, rock music,TV, YouTube,interviews, funny,quotations

David Bowie telling a tall tale on TV: “He had seven daughters and seven sons. . .”

Self-reinvention is my middle name.
Ah, Benny Hill’s on. Excuse me.
Shush, I know that one. I can’t remember the title.

Don’t start. “Clean your desktop up!”
The things I could tell you!
I’m gonna get older and older and NEVER stop singing.

Shall I do Marcel Marceau?
Cashmere, cashmere!
I’m a bit of a Sunday futurist, you know.

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Bowie: “He collapsed” at his last public appearance

David Bowie, Lazarus, final appearance,death, Ivo van Hove

David Bowie’s last appearance in public, attending the premiere of his musical Lazarus in New York on Dec 7… Its director Ivo van Hove has told The Times: “I could see the tears behind his eyes because he was not a man to show off his emotions. He was really deep in fear.” Photo © Vantagenews

➢ BBC coverage in full

➢ Bowie collapsed backstage during his final public appearance despite fans saying he looked fit – The Sun

➢ Bowie obituary at The Guardian: “The world is never short of self-absorbed would-be artists, but Bowie was able to break out and become the first misfit megastar. That undoubtedly had a good deal to do with talent.”

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➤ “I’m not a rock star” Bowie often said – No, David, you were a messiah

David Bowie, death, obituaries, tributes, rock music, Man Who Fell to Earth, media, videos, films,

A humanoid alien comes to Earth with a mission… What a spooky coincidence that David Bowie played the alien Thomas Jerome Newton in the 1976 film The Man Who Fell to Earth

David Bowie, death, obituaries, tributes, rock music, TheTimes, UK, newspapers

Today’s Times: the masks and the man behind them

◼ ALL 10 BRITISH NATIONAL NEWSPAPERS filled their front pages today with the death of David Bowie at 69 – and so did scores of newspapers overseas. The last pop star whose death justified such deification was Jacko in 2009; and the last British pop star to do likewise was John Lennon, in 1980. The Times of London dedicated 18 pages including an outer broadsheet wrapper to honouring Bowie, plus an editorial comment as blessing. The Guardian topped that with 20 pages, plus the most enlightened editorial comment of them all. Not only did this misfit megastar and cultural icon radiate consummate flair as a performer but he displayed “an instinctive affinity with his times”. He had a “way with the zeitgeist”.

All media, notably social media, captured the dominant sentiment of generations of fans suddenly plunged into mourning. Again and again they claimed: He changed my life. . . He taught me how to be myself. . . David was my inspiration. . . David was my tutor. And most could quote their own favourite song lyric expressing their faith: Oh no, love – you’re not alone. . . Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it. . . It’s only for ever, not long at all. . . All you’ve got to do is win. . . We can be heroes just for one day.

David Bowie, death, obituaries, tributes, rock music, front pages,media, newspapers

Blanket coverage: Bowie on all UK front pages… Image updated 14 Jan to include news magazines

‘THE WORLD HAS LOST AN ORIGINAL’ DECLARED THE GUARDIAN, REMINDING US THAT BOWIE’S
MUSIC WAS MERELY HIS MEDIUM

➢ From today’s main editorial in The Guardian:

His obsession was reinventing himself, not changing the world. But even with that inward focus, Bowie proved a mightily disruptive figure.

The cultural revolution known as “the 60s”, even though it largely took place during the 1970s, blended hazy hopes of a collective awakening to a post-materialist future, with a determined emphasis on the right of the individual to realise his or herself. Nobody embodied the second half of that, the only half which was to stick, like David Bowie. Not for him the protest anthems associated with Dylan or Lennon in the right mood, nor the campus class consciousness raising antics of soixante-huitards. No, almost from the beginning, as this singular stone rolled between obscure bands, dance classes and every last pocket of the avant garde, he grabbed at everything from makeup brushes to music-hall standards for the over-riding purpose of defining, and then reinventing and redefining, the boy born David Jones. . . / Continued at Guardian online

➢ The New York Times eulogises his swansong: David Bowie Allowed His Art to Deliver a Final Message

“I’m not a rock star. I’m not in rock and roll,” Bowie often maintained, and when in 1974 Dick Cavett remarked “You seem to me like a working actor” Bowie agreed, “That’s very good”

Yesterday BBC TV arts czar Will Gompertz called Bowie “the Picasso of pop in the way he was able to synthesise ideas of the modern age and make sense of them in beautiful precise pieces of art”. As is all too clear in the following clips of Bowie’s output – as an actor.

1967 — THE IMAGE

1969 — THE MASK

1969 — SPACE ODDITY

1972 — STARMAN

1973 — LIFE ON MARS

1975 — GOLDEN YEARS

1977 — HEROES

1979 — THE MAN WHO SOLD THE WORLD
and “transformed live television”

David Bowie

Click the pic to view the video in a new window – starring David Bowie with Klaus Nomi and Joey Arias

Updated 16 Jan when Saturday Night Live finally released this pristine 1979 recording of the most immaculate performance of TMWSTW by Bowie, Klaus Nomi, Joey Arias, Stacey Hayden on guitar and Jimmy Destri on keyboards, which some say was the night “he transformed live television”. Since January this video had been marked Private at YouTube for UK viewers (presumably to comply with NBC regional reach), but in February it is suddenly visible again. Catch it before NBC changes its mind again!

1980 — ASHES TO ASHES

2006 — VITTEL TV COMMERCIAL

➢ BBC London radio: Onetime Blitz Kid Robert Elms dedicated yesterday’s three-hour show to David Bowie with tributes from Gary Kemp, Chris Sullivan and Julien Temple. Online for a month

➢ Vogue online gallery: Bowie’s fashion history in pictures

➢ Update 13 Jan, Daily Mirror – David Bowie has been secretly cremated without family and friends present: The singer told his loved ones he wanted to “go without any fuss” and not have a funeral service or public memorial. A source in New York told the Mirror: “There is no public or private service or a public memorial. There is nothing. . .” / Continued at Mirror online

➢ Update 13 Jan, Rolling Stone – Bowie planned post-Blackstar album, “Thought he had few more months”: About a week before his death, with Blackstar nearing release, David Bowie called his longtime friend and producer Tony Visconti via FaceTime, and told him he wanted to make one more album. In what turned out to have been the final weeks of his life, Bowie wrote and demo-ed five fresh songs, and was anxious to return to the studio one last time. . . / Continued at Rolling Stone online

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