05/25/07
Reviews by - Lindsay Planer

This week, we look at Buckley, Lennon, and Zappa.


Tim Buckley -- My Fleeting House (MVD Visuals)

This overdue offering is the first in-depth documentary to focus solely on the words and music of Tim Buckley -- arguably one of the most underappreciated talents of the latter 20th Century. The main feature includes modern conversations with frequent Buckley collaborators Larry Beckett, Lee Underwood and biographer David Browne. Their commentary guides viewers through eleven full-length and three partial performances. The clips span Buckley’s entire catalogue with footage not only from North America, but British and Dutch television.

Although convenient, to lump Buckley in with the other singer/songwriters of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s would be a monumental disservice. He is seen and heard here captured in the stark beauty of several solo acoustic clips. Standouts among them are “Song To The Siren” -- from his legendary guest shot on The Monkees TV show -- an extract of the scathing “No Man Can Find The War” that was initially broadcast as part of the CBS-TV Network special Inside Pop: The Rock Revolution, hosted by Leonard Bernstein, as well as a snippet of “Pleasant Street” taken from the 1971 motion picture The Christian Licorice Store.

Hardcore enthusiasts will revel in the decidedly avant-garde ensemble outings, such as his  Public Television appearances singing “Blue Melody” and “Venice Beach (Music Boats by the Bay)” on the Boboquivari program, as well as “I Woke Up” and “Come Here Woman” taken from another PBS offering simply titled The Show.
Extras include an album-by-album breakdown hosted by Underwood and Beckett. Plus, the latter’s emotive recitation of the full-length text of “Song To The Siren.” There is also an info-packed booklet, replete with page-upon-page of unreleased Buckley photos.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono -- Give Peace a Song (Hip-O/UMe)

It has been almost 38 years to the day (May 26th to be precise) that John Lennon and Yoko Ono installed themselves in Montreal, Quebec’s Queen Elizabeth Hotel for their first ‘bed in’. Give Peace A Song documents the events that enveloped the couple during their week-long demonstration for peace, culminating in the creation and recording of the ultimate anti-war anthem, “Give Peace A Chance”.

The story is told by those who lived it. Among the participants offering insights and memories are Tommy Smothers, Petula Clark, André Perry -- who produced the live recording of “Give Peace A Chance” -- and Yoko Ono, herself. Even more revealing is the never-before-broadcast Canadian TV footage, as well as the unpublished photos from Gerry Deiter -- who was given 24/7 access to the event. Here John and Yoko are seen with considerably less formality, uncovering what is arguably the most intimate portrait of the couple to be made public.

While the first half of Give Peace A Song chronicles the occurrences that lead up to the making of “Give Peace A Chance,” the remainder is an equally fascinating observation of events after the tune began to disseminate into the counterculture. No single event expedited this as quickly or radically as when American social activist Pete Seeger led a quarter of a million anti-war protesters in chorus after chorus of “Give Peace a Chance" during the November 15th 1969 anti-Vietnam rally in Washington, D.C.

There is an abundance of bonus material, including two complete interviews and a press conference -- all taken from the vaults of Canadian TV circa December of 1969 -- as well as additional recollections from Smothers, Clark and Perry. Beatle or Lennon fans should own this, without question. Likewise, history buffs and those whose interests chronicle this turbulent time in American pop culture will be more than adequately served by Give Peace A Song.

Frank Zappa -- Classic Albums: Apostrophe (')/ Over-nite Sensation (Eagle Vision)

As we’ve recently celebrated Mother’s Day, what better time to remember those other Mothers -- Of Invention (MOI), that is. Led by musical pioneer Frank Zappa, the MOI are regaled on this info-laden installment in the “Classic Albums” DVD series. This time out the spotlight shines on  the long players Over-Nite Sensation (1973) and Apostrophe(‘) (1974). Plus, there is another half-hour of supplementary material that wasn’t seen during the broadcast version. But more about that in a moment.

Under the direction of Frank’s son Dweezil -- who is also a consummate guitarist in his own right -- and vault archivist Joe Travers, viewers are given access to the infamous Utility Muffin Research Kitchen (FZ’s home studio) where several of the albums most prominent songs are deconstructed. This allows for an unprecedented examination into the details and intricacies of classic entries such as “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow,” “Cosmik Debris,” “I’m The Slime,” and “Montana”. Along the way there are quotes and comments from former MOI Ian Underwood, Ruth Underwood, Elliot Ingber, Napoleon Murphy Brock, Ralph Humphries, Bruce Fowler, George Duke, as well as latter-era bandmates Stevie Vai and Warren Cuccurullo.

The extras are practically as exciting with complete live versions of “Montana,” -- taken from the Roxy in L.A. circa December of ’73 -- and “I’m The Slime” -- lifted from Zappa on Saturday Night Live in December of ’76. Plus, the Dweezil-led Zappa Plays Zappa combo perform “Camarillo Brillo,” in a closed-set performance that was captured specifically for this installment of Classic Albums: Apostrophe (‘) / Over-nite Sensation. Did you say you’d like more-ah? Well, then we’ll return to the UMRK for additional behind-the-scenes and beneath-the-tracks explorations of “Dirty Love,” “Nanook Rubs It” and “Dinah-Moe-Humm.” There is even a guided tour of the voluminous Zappa tape vaults with Joe Travers, while Ruth Underwood gives us the skinny on how Frank unleashed the concept of electrifying the usually acoustic marimba and vibraphone.

 


Lindsay Planer is a freelance journalist and is the weekday on-air producer at WDYT 1220 AM in Charlotte, NC. He's also a contributor to All Music Guide, CrutchfieldAdvisor.com and the Gaston Gazette.
All comments and questions are encouraged and can be sent to <asthediscspins@earthlink.net>.


 

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