July 24, 2010
What do you have to do? Just send an e-mail to me at jason[at]spyvibe.com with "007 CD" in the subject heading, along with your name and address, and a brief answer to the following: What is your favorite James Bond novel or short story and why? One e-mail per Spy Viber. Do you already have Octopussy? Write and tell me your answer anyway so I can share everyone's stories here on Spy Vibe. I will pick a random winner after I return from a mission east on August 2nd. Until then, have a great week and send me those entry e-mails.
Local author and design historian Heather David of Silicon Valley Modern will be talking about and showing examples of mid-century modern design and architecture in the Bay Area, dating from the '30s to the '70s, and signing copies of her new book, "Mid-Century by the Bay." The book portrays the Bay Area during its years of transition from the post WWII-era to an emerging center of technology, roughly 1945 to 1965. Light hors d'oeuvres, cocktails and other refreshments will be served. July 24th, 6-8pm.
Design Within Reach is located at 1913 Fillmore St (between Bush and Pine). Check out their main website for more information about sales, design contests, events, the DWR blog, and more. You can even pick up a Primary Pouf for as low as $149.50!
July 23, 2010
"Fallout" has been controversial among Prisoner fans since its debut. I remember my own reaction. After recording the synopsis of each show in my own home-made episode guide as a kid, I was utterly confused and somewhat outraged by the show's conclusion. What did it mean? Why was it so crazy? I thought I liked "out-there" work- certainly by the slightly surreal and cartoony standards of The Avengers and A Hard Days Night. What I was missing was the larger context Spy Vibe looked at yesterday and the degree of chaos that the episode embraces. "Fallout" doesn't flow beautifully from watching other spy shows of the period. Of course it looked crazy compared to James Bond or Mission Impossible. But next to satirical and outwardly surreal work like The Bed Sitting Room, How I Won the War, and Magical Mystery Tour, McGoohan's social satire is a special feast and a surreal revolution. John Lennon returns to the conversation once again as an influential voice. Although the music of The Beatles and Lennon has rarely been licensed for TV or film, Lennon's All You Need is Love is featured prominently in the climax of The Prisoner. Look through the clips from the last two days. Hopefully within the context of yesterday's post, Spy Vibers will see "Fallout" with a new appreciation.
Check out The Prisoner Online and the Prisoner Appreciation Society for more info and discussions about "Fallout" and the series. Above image from Pop Matters.
July 21, 2010
With the rise of youth culture and a questioning of traditional class roles, social satire became the new frontier in late 1950s/early 1960s British humor. Following in the footsteps of Peter Sellers and The Goons, who offered a wild send-up of British characters and institutions, young comedians like Peter Cook and Dudley Moore of Beyond the Fringe and the future members of Monty Python became the acerbic voice of the generation. Some of the popular targets included class, the generation gap, authority, official media, media styles/conventions, education, family, and the job market. Comedy fans may recall Beyond the Fringe skits like The Great Train Robbery, Sitting on the Bench, and my fave below, One Leg Too Few. Film fans may remember John Schlesinger's Billy Liar (Tom Courtenay/1963) for its blend of satire and fantasy. John Lennon played a key role in this satirical climate, with his James Thurber-like published books of cartoons and poetry, In His Own Write (1964) and A Spaniard in the Works (1965).
Surrealism experienced a rather major renaissance in the early-mid 1960s. Long before the mind-altering psychedelia that we associate with the 1960s was introduced, influential artists like John Lennon were already thinking outside the box. Inspired by the surrealism of Lewis Carroll, Lennon and others challenged the status quo with a playful and eschewed view. One figure who loomed large in this movement was an American ex-pat in London named Richard Lester, who had worked with the Goons on television projects. At the dawn of the sixties, he collaborated with Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan on a short film called the Running Jumping & Standing Still Film (1960). John Lennon, a fan of The Goons, loved the movie and kept Lester in mind when it came time for The Beatles to make a motion picture. Seeing a clip from Running Jumping below, I'm sure Spy Vibers will recognize a gag which echoed through Monty Python skits years later. Fish-Slapping dance anyone?
As I mentioned, the surreal and whimsical work of Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) resonated throughout the Arts in early-mid sixties England. John Lennon often listed the author as a big influence on his own imagery (see I am the Walrus below). A notable celebration of Lewis Carroll came in 1966 with the BBC's production of The Wednesday Play. With a soundtrack by Ravi Shankar, this surreal Alice film starred a who's who of British talent, including Peter Sellers, Wilfrid Brambell, Leo McKern, Sir Michael Redgrave, Eric Idle (Monty Python), Sir John Gielgud, and all four members of Beyond the Fringe, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, Alan Bennett, and writer/director, Jonathan Miller. Spy Vibers will recognize a number of actors in the film for their appearances in the satirical/surreal spy shows, The Avengers and The Prisoner.
The 4th Wall
An element that is pointed out when discussing the performance style of The Corridor People is the breaking of the fourth wall, or when actors speak directly to the audience. This was not a new technique. Eugene O'Neill is one playwright who employed it in his play, Strange Interlude. This was parodied in the 1930s by the Marx Brothers, where Groucho actually speaks of "corridors." The convention was also seen in the wartime and post-war comedies of Bob Hope and Warner Brothers animation studio. The sudden, snappy interplay between character and viewer was hip again in the 1960s and seen often in British films. This convention of storytelling had an element of participation that I believe created a deeper level of engagement with the largely young audience. Where we watched Truffaut's Julie Christie interact on-screen with a TV soap opera in Fahrenheit 451 (1966), films like Alfie (1966), How I Won the War (1967), and The Knack...and How to Get it (1965) actually put the movie-going viewer right into the action.
Essential faves from the satire/surrealism boom also include The Wrong Box (Michael Caine/Peter Cook/Dudley Moore/1966) Monty Python's Flying Circus (1969-1974), Not Only But Also (Peter Cook/Dudley Moore/1965-1970), Bedazzled (Peter Cook/Dudley Moore/1967), The Rise and Rise of Michael Rimmer (Peter Cook/1970), and below: The Bed Sitting Room (Richard Lester/Peter Cook/Rita Tushingham/1969) and Magical Mystery Tour (The Beatles/1967).
The Corridor People
Now that you have a larger context of the satire/surrealism boom in 1960s England, take a look at the promo trailer for The Corridor People below. With an appreciation for the satirical and surrealist approach, I think Spy Vibers will also enjoy the added spy elements in the show. I particularly enjoy the silencer in the baby carriage! Again, the complete four-episode set is available from Network here. Linked words in this post will lead to related video clips and media.
July 20, 2010
July 19, 2010
A host of unlikely characters include Kronk, a paternal CID agent, his henchmen Inspector Blood and Sergeant Hound, and American, Bogart-worshiping private eye Phil Scrotty; each episode sees them pitched against the avaricious schemes of Syrie Van Epp, a beautiful, treacherous Persian millionairess.
Written by Edward Boyd (The Odd Man), the series stars larger-than-life character actor John Sharp and Elizabeth Shepherd, the actress originally cast as Emma Peel; guest stars include Windsor Davies and Pauline Collins. With wildly inventive storylines, offbeat, often humorous dialogue in which characters frequently break the fourth wall, strikingly original photography and heavily stylised sets, it’s no surprise to find it described as ‘the Twin Peaks of its day’, or akin to ‘a lost Harold Pinter play with an added dash of Monty Python’..! This unique series, unscreened since its original transmission in 1966, is now available on DVD for the very first time." Discs are region 2 PAL format.
July 17, 2010
July 16, 2010
July 15, 2010
July 14, 2010
July 13, 2010
Paul McCartney's current tour opens with a slide show collage of (mostly) 1960s pop culture. Images of The Beatles, Twiggy, and assorted buttons and scrapbook ephemera scroll by to Macca remixes and many Motown covers, including this one by the Supremes. The collage features video loops of 1960s dance-club scenes. Imagine arena-size screens alive with moves & Motown! It's a great reminder to us that The Beatles themselves were great music fans, and that McCartney was a big Motown fan. The whole slide show does a great job establishing the times in a broader scope beyond the Fabs themselves. In a way, McCartney leads you through his own private scrapbook of his life in the Swinging Sixties. I will post the slide show here if I can find it. Did any Spyvibers see Paul at one of his recent shows?
July 12, 2010
July 11, 2010
July 9, 2010
July 8, 2010
Also attending will be Billy J Kramer (recorded many McCartney/Lennon hits and managed by Brian Epstein), Joe Walker (Walker Brothers), Andy White (Beatles session drummer), Fred Seaman (Lennon assistant), May Pang (Lennon assistant and partner), Tony Bramwell (Beatles tour manager/CEO Apple), Lindsey Wagner (Bionic Woman), Shirley Jones (Partridge Family), and a Monkees reiunion with Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenze. Also on view will be classic vehicles like the Black Beauty (Green Hornet) and TV's Batmobile.
July 7, 2010
July 6, 2010
Apple Records catalogue remastered and reissued on CD and digital
download - Classics Set For Release on October 26th
Launched by The Beatles in 1968, as the new outlet for their own
recordings as well as the music of an eclectic roster of artists - James
Taylor, Badfinger, Billy Preston, Mary Hopkin, Doris Troy, and Jackie
Lomax among them - who were all personally brought to the label by The
Beatles (individually and/or collectively), Apple Records made popular
music history from the very moment it opened its doors.
Four decades later, Apple Corps Ltd. and EMI Music raise the curtain on
remastered CD and digital download releases of 15 key albums from the
Apple Records catalog. All 15 titles will be released on October 26th,
2010. Most of the physical CDs will include bonus material. Together,
the 15 albums represent the first ever Apple Records releases to be
available via digital download.
In the revolutionary spirit of 1968, The Beatles' explosive
musical output (characterised by their double-LP White Album) was only
exceeded by their fascination with what they saw and heard going on
around them. Five years into The Beatles' reign, Apple Records
afforded them the unique opportunity to sign new (and established)
artists who appealed to each of them. In turn, the introduction of an
artist on The Beatles' record label was an imprimatur taken very
seriously by fans across the universe.
Apple Records' utopian artist-orientated mission immediately set
it apart, as the first operation of its kind in the major-label sphere.
Diversity was celebrated, and artists were encouraged to record and
release their music in a friendly creative environment. Apple developed
a distinctive graphic aesthetic, from its legendary
'apple-core' logo to its advertising and merchandising, in
the process setting a subtle new benchmark for the industry to follow.
From 1968 to 1973, Apple Records bedazzled the world with a rainbow
spectrum of releases - and fans were unusually well-informed about
individual involvements of The Beatles with nearly every project.
1968's self-titled debut album by Boston-based singer-songwriter
James Taylor, for example, features Paul McCartney and George Harrison
on "Carolina In My Mind". Paul was instrumental in bringing
the Welsh chanteuse Mary Hopkin to Apple, and produced her debut single,
"Those Were The Days". Badfinger, also from Wales, was still
known as The Iveys when they recorded "Come And Get It",
written and produced by Paul (for The Magic Christian movie soundtrack).
The Beatles had been fans of Billy Preston ever since seeing him in
Little Richard's band in Hamburg in 1962. George went on to
produce and play on Preston's Apple debut, That's the Way
God Planned It. Harrison was one of the producers and played (along with
Ringo Starr) on Doris Troy's self-titled Apple album. George also
produced and played (with Paul and Ringo) on Jackie Lomax's debut
album, Is This What You Want? featuring the Harrison composition,
"Sour Milk Sea".
John was much taken with the music of The Modern Jazz Quartet, who
released the only two jazz albums in the Apple catalogue. Ringo was
intrigued by the music of contemporary British classical composer John
Tavener, and his Apple album, The Whale has become one of the most
sought-after Apple collectibles of all time.
Each of the 15 albums in this bumper batch of Apple Records releases has
been digitally remastered at EMI's Abbey Road Studios in London by
the same dedicated team of engineers behind The Beatles' recent
remastered catalogue releases of 2009.
July 5, 2010
July 3, 2010
July 1, 2010
As we've seen from our studies of the era, the group pushed their craft and grew as artists. In the mid-1960s, their writing and personal interests became more visibly contemporary. As early adopters of new ideas and sounds, they did help shape the culture of the decade. These were the years of Dylan, Rubber Soul, Revolver, Pepper, and their development as recording artists. Their push to create, to explore and collaborate with other cutting-edge artists, and to express themselves personally and politically remains the high-standard for artists today. The band continues to ignite the collective imagination. This year, fans will see two docu-dramas about the life of John Lennon released (Nowhere Boy and Lennon Naked), as well as new books that examine their experience. Here is a checklist of some of the top current and upcoming releases:
JOHN LENNON: 70th BIRTHDAY CAMPAIGN
In celebration of John Lennon's 70th birthday on October 9th, Yoko Ono has been working with EMI and her producers to launch a special event dubbed the "Gimme Some Truth" campaign. Although many of Lennon's albums have been remastered (standard/2000-2005, Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab 2003-2006), there are some reasons to look forward to these new releases set for October 4th (Oct 5th in the US).
Perhaps the most exciting is the stripped-down remastered version of Lennon's final album, Double Fantasy. Much like McCartney's effort to release Let it Be-Naked, a version closer to the band's intentions and liberated from Phil Spector's adornments, the new Double Fantasy has been remastered to bring Lennon's voice out into a more intimate space in the sound stage and free of some instrumentation.
There are many different products coming out for the campaign, here is more info from the John Lennon website to help Spy Vibers keep track. You can read more about the behind-the-scenes of the project on Yoko Ono's website.
• A hits compilation in two editions titled Power To The People: The Hits
• A 4CD set of themed discs titled Gimme Some Truth
• A deluxe 11CD collectors box with the remastered albums, rarities, and
non-album singles, titled the John Lennon Signature Box
All of the remastered albums and collections will be available on CD and for download purchase from all major digital service providers.
YOKO ONO said: “In this very special year, which would have seen my husband and life partner John reach the age of 70, I hope that this remastering / reissue programme will help bring his incredible music to a whole new audience. By remastering 121 tracks spanning his solo career, I hope also that those who are already familiar with John’s work will find renewed inspiration from his incredible gifts as a songwriter, musician and vocalist and from his power as a commentator on the human condition. His lyrics are as relevant today as they were when they were first written and I can think of no more apposite title for this campaign than those simple yet direct words 'Gimme Some Truth'.”
The albums have been digitally remastered from Lennon’s original mixes by Yoko Ono and a team of engineers led by Allan Rouse at EMI Music’s Abbey Road Studios in London and by George Marino at Avatar Studios in New York. All of the remastered titles will be packaged in digisleeves with replicated original album art and booklets with photos and new liner notes by noted British music journalist Paul Du Noyer.
The albums to be reissued are:
• John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (1970)
• Imagine (1971)
• Some Time In New York City (1972)
• Mind Games (1973)
• Walls and Bridges (1974)
• Rock ‘n’ Roll (1975)
• Double Fantasy Stripped Down (2010) / Double Fantasy (1980)
• Milk and Honey (1984)
The 1980’s GRAMMY Award winner for Album of the Year, will be presented in a newly remixed 'Stripped Down' version remixed and produced by Yoko Ono and Jack Douglas, co-producers of the original mix with John Lennon. The new stripped down version of the album comes in an expanded 2CD and digital edition pairing the new version with Lennon’s original mix, remastered.
YOKO ONO added: “Double Fantasy Stripped Down really allows us to focus our attention on John’s amazing vocals. Technology has advanced so much that, conversely, I wanted to use new techniques to really frame these amazing songs and John's voice as simply as possible. By stripping down some of the instrumentation the power of the songs shines through with an enhanced clarity. Double Fantasy Stripped Down will be complemented by the original album in the 2CD format. It was whilst working on the new version of this album that I was hit hardest emotionally, as this was the last album John released before his passing."
Power To The People: The Hits gathers 15 of Lennon’s most popular songs, and will be available as a 15-track single-disc and digital package, and as an Experience Edition with additional content. Both versions will be packaged in digisleeves with booklets including a new liner note essay by Du Noyer.
Gimme Some Truth, to be packaged in a slipcase with rare photos and a new liner notes essays by respected American music journalist and author, Anthony DeCurtis, presents 72 of Lennon’s solo recordings on four themed CDs:
• ‘Roots’ – John’s rock ‘n’ roll roots and influences
• ‘Working Class Hero’ – John’s socio-political songs
• ‘Woman’ – John’s love songs
• ‘Borrowed Time’ – John’s songs about life
The John Lennon Signature Box is a deluxe 11CD and digital collection of the eight remastered albums, a disc of rare and previously unreleased recordings, and an EP of Lennon’s non-album singles. The CDs will be housed in digisleeves within a deluxe box including a collectible limited edition John Lennon art print and a hardbound book featuring rare photos, artwork, collages, poetry, and new liner notes by DeCurtis.
John Lennon: In His Life
Publishing September 7, 21010 by John Blaney. This photo-biography, with a preface by his wife, Yoko Ono Lennon, takes a look back at the enigmatic legend, and a life marked by restless exploration-into art and music, consciousness and spirituality, politics and protest, love and peace. Featuring family photos and reproductions of documents that bear witness to momentous events and the origins of his “Imaginative” songs, this compilation, like no other, sheds light on his relationships with Paul, George, and Ringo; his attitudes toward mind-expanding drugs, social revolution, and the Vietnam War; the cataclysmic breakup of the Beatles; and the tenderness of his love for Yoko Ono and their only child Sean. Available at Amazon.
You Never Give Me Your Money
A new biography about The Beatles' breakup by Mojo and Q writer Peter Doggert. Although I prefer to focus on the band's creative process rather than their inner-politics and drama, some readers may be curious to see this side of the history. Published June 8, 2010. Available from Amazon.
Beatles Fact and Fiction 1960-1962
This book by Erik Krasker promises to be the most in-dept, historically accurate record of The Beatles' early years. More info here.
A very cool, limited edition book by Yoko Ono coming out on July 31, 2010. New work by one of the most creative artists in The Beatles circle. Ono is often misunderstood, I think, because fans tend to view her through the lens of traditional rock n roll. But if you take the raw emotion, politics, and pure expression of rock and add healthy doses of Japanese poetry, avant-garde daring, Buddhist philosophy, and the power of playful imagination- as both concept art and political/spiritual activism- then Ono begins to make sense as an important artist. Her new book, its title a reference to past projects called Fly, is a wonderful and interactive concept piece that literally helps her wishes for the world to take flight.
From Amazon: Sky people, that's what we are, Yoko Ono sang, in the 1985 song "Sky People"; "One day we'll fly and leap through the sky/To look for a good land hand in hand." Now, through the auspices of Ecstatic Peace Library, Yoko Ono has fulfilled these words and devised a book to fly in her stead. Published as a limited edition, Fly Me is a handbound book that unfolds to become a kite featuring seven pages of individual messages or instructions composed by Ono. These messages are designed to be read by all, in the sky on a windy day. You simply unfold the page you wish to fly and attach the paper to the bamboo frame included to construct a massive (30 x 36 inch) diamond-shaped kite. Including such characteristic Ono advice as "Imagine Peace" and "Fly," these messages are printed with soy-based inks on 100% recycled paper. The kite frame itself is made of hand-carved oak from a sustainable forest in New York state. A marvelous addition to Ono's already classic oeuvre of innovative bookmaking, Fly Me is published in a limited edition of 2,500 copies, and is without doubt an instant collector's gem.
Hans Ulrich Obrist & Yoko Ono: The Conversation Series
An excellent book published March 31st, 2010. In-depth interviews with Yoko Ono reveal her ideas and process as an artist. From Amazon: In this volume, Hans Ulrich Obrist elicits from New York art veteran Yoko Ono a portrait of her life and career that is unprecedented in detail. Across five interview sessions, Obrist quizzes Ono about her earliest works in visual art and music in Japan, her musical development in New York, her friendship with John Cage, her Fluxus days, the founding of the new state of Nutopia with John Lennon and her ongoing campaigns for world peace and human rights. Ono also recounts here the genesis of her installations and performances, so many of which have since become classics of their genre. Throughout these discussions with Obrist, in which architects and artists such as Rem Koolhaas and Gustav Metzger also participate, this icon of twentieth-century culture shows herself to be a generous and smart personality, and a multifaceted artist of enormous influence.
The Complete Beatles Chronicle
The holy grail reference guide to The Beatles' daily projects by Mark Lewisohn is coming back into print in a revised edition on October 1st, 2010. From Amazon: In 1979, Beatles expert Mark Lewisohn set about establishing a complete list of the group’s live appearances from 1957 through 1966, when they stopped giving concerts; the research took seven long years and was published as the book The Beatles Live! Shortly thereafter, EMI Records invited Lewisohn to be the only person outside of the Beatles and their production staff to go into Abbey Road and listen to the entire collection of Beatles session tapes and to interview practically everyone involved in their making. The result was published in 1988 as The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions, and sold over 150,000 copies.
This book artfully combines and updates all the vital material in Lewisohn’s earlier two books with his definitive account of the Beatles’ work in radio, television, film, and video to create a complete day-by-day summary of the group’s entire oeuvre. First published in 1992, The Complete Beatles Chronicle has become the Beatles Bible, the one book no fan can live without, and a perfect companion to the bestselling Beatles Anthology, which recounted their story in their own words.
The Complete Ed Sullivan Shows Starring The Beatles
For North Americans, Beatlemania really sparked when the group appeared on a series of Ed Sullivan shows to promote their first tour of the States in 1964. These episodes will come back into print on September 7th, 2010. The DVDs will contain the complete programs with unreleased segments, including Sullivan's interviews with each of the band members. I love seeing these shows because they are such a window into the changing culture of 1964. Although The Beatles seem tame by today's standards, it's clear that they were not an act in the style of the older generation that was otherwise featured so prominently on the program. We're coming up on the 50th anniversary of this event, folks! Available for pre-order on Amazon.
- Ringo Starr is on tour through August
- Paul McCartney is on tour
- Martin Scorsese is making a film about George Harrison
- Klaus Voormann at Fest for Beatles, Chicago, August 13-15
- My film for Yoko Ono is screening at festivals & events.
- Spy Vibe's Paul McCartney birthday tribute here
- Spy Vibe's fab archive: BeatleVibe
Spy Vibers who are interested in keeping up with The Beatles should check out the daily news website here.