Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.
Thursday, 13 October 2011
Living in the material world
1965: Imagine being 19 and loving The Beatles, but not really seeing much footage of them, as one did not have a television then, apart from loving every minute of A HARD DAY'S NIGHT in 1964 and its soundtrack album of great songs. Now it is their follow-up film and in colour! I walked into the Odeon cinema just as that sequence on Salisbury Plain screened with George Harrison singing his song "I Need You" (below). It was magical - I spent the afternoon watching it all twice, as one could in those days of continous performances.
We now have Martin Scorsese's documentary GEORGE HARRISON - LIVING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD, a fascinatng three and a half hour treat for Beatles fans and particularly those like me who always considered George the most interesting, attractive, fascinating Beatle. It is all here - glimpses of his early years in Liverpool, Hamburg, the Beatles years and when they were fracturing by the late 60s. We get lots of India, Ravi Shankar, the Maharishi and the others, as well as interviews with Eric Clapton, Patti Boyd, Paul, Ringo as well as Harrison's wife and son. For anyone who lived through that era, it brings it all back. George's songs are also detailed, he was just as good as Lennon-McCartney, those evocative titles like "Something", "Taxman", "Love You To", "If I Needed Someone" etc.
George's solo career is fully explored too, particularly those early albums like the Concert for Bangladesh and All Things Must Pass. I particularly liked his 1981 album Somewhere in England (which I have just re-ordered) with its Lennon-inspired "All those years ago" and those two lovely Hoagy Carmichael covers "Hong Kong Blues" and "Baltimore Oriole". It also has extensive interviews with George and his family, as well as The Travelling Wilburys, and Harrison's ventures into movies with Monty Python and Handmade Films and THE LIFE OF BRIAN, TIME BANDITS etc. Scorsese of course knows his music, as we realised with THE LAST WALTZ, '76 and his other documentaries on The Rolling Stones, Dylan, The Blues, Italian Cinema etc. We get clips of BLOW-UP and other footage on the swinging era.
HELP! of course now plays like a collection of early pop promos, with those musical numbers set in the Alps and in the Caribbean, edited for the camera, and Richard Lester's lovely throwaway comedy moments, and again, those songs... George's legacy though endures here thanks to Scorsese's devotion, and his laconic manner and voice shine on. It is a treat seeing this in the week when McCartney's new marriage dominates the front pages!
It all takes one back to that time when one was growing up with The Beatles, The Stones, Cream, The Yardbirds and also The Who, The Kinks, The Small Faces, Stevie Winwood and Traffic, so one had a never-ending supply of great new music every week; not to mention Tamla-Motown, Atlantic and those American groups like The Doors and Jefferson Airplane - see my report on the 1968 Doors concert at The Roundhouse at Doors label! - as well as The Band (who were terrific at the Albert Hall in 1971), Blood Sweat & Tears, and then in the early '70s all those singer-songwriters and the era of Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Carole King, Laura Nyro et al. My office in London's Regent Street, where I spent over 20 years, overlooked Savile Row and the roof of the Apple building where they did that memorable 1969 final concert, as documented in LET IT BE - if only I had been working there then!