27 April 2010

A Taste of That Old Wine Will Cost You: Update on Exile Outtakes' Release

Update: 28 April 2010

Below I wrote about the impending May 18th release of outtake tracks from the Exile on Main St sessions. While visiting Amazon.com last night to do some research I discovered how the outtake tracks are being marketed. Along with alternate takes of tracks that made the original album (e.g. an alternate version of Soul Survivor), the previously unreleased material is being sold separately from the remastered original album.

You can check out the track listing on the 2010 Deluxe Edition "bonus" CD here.

Sir Mick Jagger and Keith Richards didn't get to be the two richest men in rock n' roll by accident. Hell, they were tax exiles in France when they made the record.

22 April 2010

The Stones in Their Prime: "Plundered My Soul"

Once again my blogging mentor comes through with an grade A find -- an outtake track from Exile on Main Street (1972). The New York Times reports this song is one of ten Exile outtake tracks to be released May 18th on a upcoming remastered deluxe edition of the classic Stones double album.

From a bigger picture perspective, I've always felt the Stones have been very stingy about opening up their vaults, making this an extra special treat for me. And it comes from the vault I wanna explore most, the outtakes from the NellcĂ´te sessions that form the heart of Exile.

And now, since I get my wish, I'm gonna wait a while before I try to find the lyrics. It will be more like the old days, when a Stones fan had to work to discern what the hell Mick was singing.

16 April 2010

Sam Cooke - "Wonderful World"

It's hard to pick only one studio cut by Sam Cooke to put up here. Not only is he one of the true fathers of modern soul music, he is also one the most important black artists of the 50's and early 60's to crossover to the white pop charts.

His live album, and presumably his "chitlin' circuit" gigs, is another story. There you find a rough edge to his voice that never surfaced on his radio-bound studio work. His voice on his studio singles is as smooth as the finest cognac you could never afford to taste. With his untimely death in 1964, Smokey Robinson would pick up the torch of smooth soul music without him.

But Cooke's music lives on.
Wonderful World (1960) above is just one of Cooke's crossover radio hits. I picked it because I've always loved its blend of a perfect pop melody with elegantly simple poetry.

The body of Sam Cooke's recordings to this day sets the standard for soulful, accessible pop. So sit back and enjoy this pioneer of soul music giving us one of his many fine performances.

09 April 2010

Janis and Otis at the Monterey Pop Festival, 1967





Thank God for the Sundance Channel. My evening was going nowhere last night 'til I noticed that Sundance was airing D. A. Pennebaker's Monterey Pop, an 80 minute documentary on the first major American rock festival -- three days in June of San Fransisco's 1967 Summer of Love. Yeah, that's right, the festival where Jimi Hendrix becomes a rock icon, setting his guitar and the rock world on fire.

The performances are strand of pearls. In addition to Jimi, the blues and soul crowd out there gets more than they could possibly hope for: Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company covering Big Mama Thornton's Ball and Chain; then Otis Redding redefining I've Been Loving You Too Long.

The YouTube clips of Janis and Otis above don't nearly do justice to the original sound and picture in the film. (Otis covering the Stones' Satisfaction wasn't in the original Pennebaker film, so take it as a bonus to make up for the bootleg quality of these clips.)

And by all means check out the film. All these years later, these landmark performances still rank as world class. Though only 80 minutes long, only a taste of the festival, Monterey Pop ranks with the finest rock films ever made.

03 April 2010

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson

Alex Gibney's 2008 documentary film Gonzo examines the on-the-edge life and best journalistic work of Hunter S. Thompson, one of the greatest writing talents produced by the youth culture in the U.S. of the 1960s and early '70s. Focusing on Thompson's experience of and coverage of "the death of the American dream," the film is rich in essential background details. Through archival footage and audio recordings of Thompson in action; interviews with the people who were there; readings of his work by Thompson himself, friends, and quite powerfully by narrator Johnny Depp; a perfect soundtrack; right down to discussion of Thompson's suicide and its aftermath -- Gonzo tells Thompson's tale as thoroughly as I've seen it told.

Also examined is Thompson's Gonzo reporting, based on
William Faulkner's idea that "fiction is often the best fact." While the things that Thompson wrote about are basically true, he used satirical devices to drive his points home. (Wikipedia contributors, Gonzo Journalism.)
Material on the writing of all his major books (Hell's Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga (1966), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream (1971)*, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72 (1973)) is included.

Gonzo gives us Thompson's riding with the California Hell's Angels (complete with a consensual gang bang he witnesses), psychedelic San Francisco in the early 1960s, Richard Nixon ("the werewolf within us"), '71 in Vegas ("the final nail in the coffin of the sixties"), the 1972 McGovern campaign trail crumbling into
Machiavellian politics -- all undergirded by the moral imperative of opposing the war in Southeast Asia. All but the Hell's Angels book are gonzo journalism: Thompson's talent filtered through a whiskey, pharmaceutical and general "pushing the edge" subjective lens.

also covers Thompson the man: his life, his passions, obsessions, his beautiful and ugly sides. We see Hunter set against the backdrop of his times, from the sixties to the 2001 d
estruction of the World Trade Center and the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq that followed.

And in the end, we see Thompson unraveling toward a much anticipated suicide. As with any suicide, we see the immediate loss the act brings to friends, family and admirers. Yet another aspect of his suicide is highlighted: Hunter the man
released from the burden of the gonzo character he became. To paraphrase Thompson, the gonzo journalistic myth surrounding him would now be free to run where it may. The bottom line for me is that we lost a uniquely talented voice that provided a hopeful but correctly disillusioned view of America. (Note: Hunter Thompson shot himself in 2005 -- a time when the Bush administration was in full swing.)

Gonzo details the life and times of an uncommon, nontraditional voice in American journalism. That voice still rings loud and true today. This documentary film brings into high relief just how much we need such a voice.
*For a discussion of Terry Gilliam's 1998 film of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, see my 2008 post For the '60's Counterculture, the Road Didn't Go on Forever).