July 24, 2010

007 JAMES BOND CONTEST

Win Bond! I have a new, unopened copy of the audio book/cd edition of Octopussy by Ian Fleming up for grabs. Octopussy contains three fantastic 007 short stories, Octopussy, The Living Daylights, and Property of a Lady, all read by Simon Vance. I love these Fleming audio books. As I've mentioned in the past, they are like radio shows in that they create a wonderful "theater of the imagination." Cool summer listening from Spy Vibe!

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.


MID-CENTURY MODERN EVENT TONIGHT

Spy Vibers in the San Francisco area should stop by Design Within Reach tonight for a talk and book signing by Heather David of Silicon Valley Modern.


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

THE PRISONER FALLOUT & 60s SATIRE/SURREALISM

With Network's release of the rare spy show, The Corridor People, Spy Vibe explored the larger context of the satire and surrealist boom in 1960s England. Yesterday we looked at key figures in the movement, including Peter Sellers, Peter Cook, Dudley Moore, John Lennon, and Richard Lester. Their work challenged traditional conventions and became a major influence on the cultural landscape of the second half of the 20th Century and beyond. Today I thought it would be fun to see The Prisoner in this context. As Tanner mentioned the final Prisoner show "Fallout" in his review of The Corridor People at Double O Section, let's take a look at the preview and an excerpt from the episode.


"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

SATIRE/SURREALISM BOOM IN THE UK

The rare spy show, The Corridor People (1966), is now available on DVD from Network. As Tanner wrote in his excellent review at Double O Section, the show's four episodes draw on elements of the theater of the absurd, and things can get pretty weird! If you wonder just how "far out" it gets, Tanner mentions the final episode of The Prisoner, Fallout, as an example. Press releases for The Corridor People often mention similarities to The Avengers and Monty Python. But looking at the promotional clip below, I think it will help viewers to appreciate The Corridor People more by taking a quick look at the larger context of the surrealism and satire boom in 1960s England. We'll save the preview of The Corridor People for the end. No peeking!


Satire Boom
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 Boom
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?





Richard Lester was picked to direct The Beatles in A Hard Day's Night (1964), also groundbreaking for its surreal segments, and he continued to helm the films, Help! (The Beatles/1965) and How I Won the War (Tom Courtenay/John Lennon/1967). Lester also teamed with James Bond composer, John Barry, in two major pieces for the 1960s, The Knack... and How to Get it (Rita Tushingham/1965) and Petulia (Julie Christie/1968). Fans of The Monkees might recognize a scene inspired by The Knack, where the characters wheel a bed through traffic.



Lewis Carroll
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.





Additional Viewing
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.



The exploration of Surrealism continues here with a look at The Prisoner and Fallout.

July 20, 2010

SPY RPG SALE

Amazon has a number of games in their lightning sales today. Advance notice is often in the form of a brief clue. The 3pm (pacific) sale will be: "The first modern day spy role-playing game." Spy Vibe gamers, check it out!

July 19, 2010

CORRIDOR PEOPLE

The Corridor People is now available from Network. From the description on their website, which includes talk of stylized set design, off-beat dialog, striking Photography, and a dash of Monty Python, this sounds like a must-see. From Network: "A surreal crime/fantasy adventure series in the mold of the The Avengers, The Corridor People ran for only four episodes yet has garnered considerable cult devotion.


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

SECRET!

Happy Saturday to all Spy Vibers! I'm certain everyone knows that I'm a big fan of Patrick McGoohan's Danger Man/Secret Agent. We recently looked at Johnny Rivers' famous tune during our weeks of Go Go Dancers and the 1960s club scene. What you might not know, however, is that your host, Agent J, is a former Air Guitar winner! Before you start imagining me as Gert Wilden or Nino Rota, however, know that I had three costume changes that included yellow radiation suits, red flower-pot hats, and black bike shorts. Yes, I convinced my college pals to join me on stage as Devo. Ha! Cats out of the bag, now. Here is a Saturday treat, the real Devo performing their wonderful and quirky version of Secret Agent Man. Enjoy!

July 16, 2010

MOVIE GROOVES

The UK mail order company, Movie Grooves, has long been a fantastic resource for collectors of rare soundtracks. Think of them as the Criterion Collection of sound, dedicated to bringing cult-classic scores back to your Hi-Fi. If you're looking for Eurospy, crime, Hammer Horror, Gerry Anderson, sexploitation, Sci Fi, etc, on CD or vinyl, this is the place to park your Vespa and stock up. You can browse their shop by genre as well as by composer. Movie Grooves is currently running a summer sale (up to 50% off!) that includes some Spy Vibe faves like the Beat at Cinecitta series from Crippled Dick Hot wax. Check them out. You're sure to find some treasures.


July 15, 2010

U.N.C.L.E. SALE TODAY

Open channel D! The complete Man From U.N.C.L.E. DVD collection is in Amazon's gold box sale today. For the next 16 hours, Spy Vibers can pick up this 41-disc treasure for $85.49. This is one release that really pulled out all the stops. Packaged in a spy briefcase, each season slides into a stylish slipcase with cool graphics. You get every season, the pilot episode, the first feature film (the other films are not included), and extra discs packed with bonus material. A must-have! Completest should also pick up back issues of Cinema Retro for its U.N.C.L.E. coverage, the many soundtrack volumes from Film Score Monthly, and the U.N.C.L.E. book for some serious, swinging sixties spy satisfaction!


July 14, 2010

WEDNESDAY MASHUP

A little treat for Spy Vibers today to get through the mid-week. One of my fave mashups ever, The Kinks vs The Beatles vs LCD Soundsystem, is a wonderful piece with major themes from You Really Got Me and Get Back. Enjoy!

July 13, 2010

SUPREMES MEET THE BEATLES

Minimal stage design and London-banker style fashion give this mid-60s clip of The Supremes some Spy Vibe cool. Diana Ross and the gals made a whole album of Mersey side covers (tunes by The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, etc) in 1964 called A Bit of Liverpool. Lennon's You Can't Do That was the standout song from the record due to its bluesy solo. The song was originally released in 1964 by The Beatles as a B side to Can't Buy Me Love. The Beatles filmed a performance of it for the film A Hard Days Night, but is was dropped in the final edit. Fans can see the segment in DVD editions of the film (and below!).


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

MAD MEN- ENDED

Whether it is the great writing and characterizations or the mid-century modern design, it's a sure bet that Mad Men is a hit with many Spy Vibers. The first three seasons of Mad Men are in the daily deal at Deepdiscount.com. The sets are priced around $19.98 each. Doh! Spy Vibers who missed the window will now find the Complete Little House on the Prairie on sale :)

July 11, 2010

MAD MEN SALE- ENDED

The first three seasons of Mad Men are in the daily deal at Deepdiscount.com. Hopefully some Spy Vibers will see this in time. The sets are priced around $19.99 each.

ATTACK OF THE ZOMBIES

Look out for The Zombies! In this clip, the group performs "She's Not There" on Hullabaloo (1965). Rather than the Go Go dancers of old, this next wave of the British Invasion included a minimal set- dressed with models draped over Victorian furniture and classic antiques! Apart from the ironic glance from the keyboardist, the band plays it pretty straight. The visuals point to the kind of 1960s isolation aesthetics seen in Antonioni's films (Blow Up/1966 and L'avventura/1960).



July 9, 2010

IPCRESS SALE

It's hard to believe that Michael Caine's The Ipcress File is once again out of print in the states. Unless you are after the UK Blu-ray edition (which I believe is region free, fellow Cobras?), there is a great sale going on this week at Network for the special DVD edition (see Spy Vibe Jan '09). This set is packed with cool bonus features! Maybe it's time to finally buy that multi-region player? The special edition Ipcress File is marked down to 14.99 pounds. More info from Network:

Multiple Oscar-winner Sir Michael Caine stars in the first leading role of his career as Harry Palmer, a stubbornly insolent sergeant working for the Ministry of Defence who is transferred to an elite counterintelligence unit. Palmer is less than thrilled when he finds out he is replacing a murdered agent but he has no choice other than to take the job when his boss effectively blackmails him with knowledge of his previous indiscretions in Berlin. Twist follows twist as Palmer and the rest of the unit follow the trail of the missing scientist, and when he finds a piece of tape marked “IPCRESS” in an abandoned warehouse he suddenly becomes a marked man…

A stylised and compelling Cold War spy movie, THE IPCRESS FILE won multiple awards and nominations on its theatrical release and is presented here in a digitally-remastered format with exclusive special features making this the definitive release of this film.


• New exclusive interview with Sir Michael Caine
• New exclusive interview with production designer Sir Ken Adam
• Commentary with director Sidney Furie and film editor Peter Hunt
• The Ipcress File - Michael Caine Goes Stella - exclusive new comedy sketch starring Phil Cornwell
• 1969 documentary Candid Caine, featuring Sir Michael Caine talking frankly about his career
• Original theatrical trailer
• Original US radio commercials
• Stills gallery
• Original Len Deighton novel
• Soundtrack CD by composer John Barry, OBE
• Dual-sided IPCRESS FILE movie poster
• Introductory booklet written by Christopher Bray, author of Michael Caine: A Class Act


July 8, 2010

SUPER MEGASHOW FRI-SUN

Heads up to all Spy Vibers on the east coast. The Super Megashow is being held this weekend, July 9-11, at the Crowne Plaza in Fairfield, NJ. In addition to the usual comic-related stuff that will appeal to convention-goers, the event will include appearances by some fave personalities from the 1960s-1970s. Top of my list are original Beatles drummer, Pete Best, and Denny Laine (Moody Blues/Wings)!


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

HAPPY BIRTHDAY RINGO

A hearty Happy 70th Birthday from Spy Vibe to the still-swinging Ringo Starr! I've seen Ringo a number of times (he's currently on tour) and I think that he quite possible could have been the original model for Tigger. A great drummer (and a father of great drummers), Ringo literally bounces on stage with positive vibes. Ringo, in true Beatles fashion, continues to work for Peace. Visit his website to contribute your wishes. He is seen here sporting a rather Jason King look. Groovy, Ringo!

OUTER LIMITS SALE

Great writing and filled with many of our favorite 1960s actors, The Outer Limits will be Amazon's lightning sale today at 2pm (pacific). The Sci Fi format allowed its creators to explore cold war anxieties and the fascination and fear of new technologies. A must-see! In "The Chameleon" episode (via Hulu), the Army suspects the defection of an agent (Robert Duvall) sent to infiltrate the crew of a crippled alien ship.

July 6, 2010

APPLE MUSIC DOWNLOADS

The Beatles set up Apple in part to offer a friendly label for upcoming artists. The Beatles website has announced that the back catalog of Apple releases will now be available for download. Although the Beatles songs are not included, many rare albums that various band members produced and played on will be included. The official press release:
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

JAMES BOND AUDIO BOOK SALE

Sale alert! Spy Vibers might remember that there was a big wave of Ian Fleming re-releases back in January 2009 from Blackstone Audio, who re-packaged the Simon Vance recordings with those cool, retro book jackets by New York artist Richie Fahey. I've been a long-time fan of the audio book editions of the James Bond novels. I've spent many flights, train rides, and commutes behind the wheel with Vance's steady narration. I often return to the short story, "From a View to a Kill" (For Your Eyes Only), which begins with Fleming's incredibe description of an assasination from the back of a motorcycle. Vance's readings have given me a kind of "theater of the imagination", radio drama-like experience over the years that, in some cases, have created stronger mental images than the films. Browsing through my local Borders bookshop today, I found four of the audio books in the clearance rack for only $4.98 each. I picked up Octopussy, Live and Let Die, Moonraker, and The Spy Who Loved Me (read by Nadia May). Check your local shops if you are looking to add titles to your audio collection. Happy treasure hunting!


EERO AT CRANBROOK

Fans of the ultra-modern lines of the TWA airport will be familiar with designer, Eero Saarinen. Eero was celebrated at an exhibit at Cranbrook some years back- captured in this press release clip below. They are offering Saarinen house tours through October. Spy Vibe's look at Eero and other artist's impact on set design here. My family started the New York School of Interior Design back in 1916 and we grew up with all sorts of pieces that must have made an impression on me as a kid. I was not aware of Eero. He didn't loom large in my world of cowboys and secret agents. I don't remember the house being especially ornate. Rooms were airy, the furniture simple and functional. But when I got older and started to develop my own interest in design (thanks to spy movies!), I did have a neat moment of realization that I had grown up with a set of Eero's Tulip chairs! I guess those simple, modern forms rubbed off on me. The style has become a passion and an integral part of Spy Vibe. Where are they now, I wonder. I like to imagine they are in a cousin's swinging bachelor pad.



July 3, 2010

HAPPY 4TH

For Spy Vibers in the States, July 4th probably means a variety of things. But nothing really says "rockets red glare" to me like this epic finish to one of my all-time fave James Bond films. It's the image of fireworks that brings it to mind. The historical and cultural context of this reference is rather wonky for the holiday, I admit. As a kid growing up on Bond, the scene may be my earliest memory of seeing 007 dish out danger with his trademark, ultra-cool dialog. The expression, "Where there's smoke, there's fire," supposedly dates back to the 1300s. I'll never forget the first thrill of this scene. 007 meeting certain doom, but with an unexpected ace up his sleeve. Surrounded by enemy boats, leaking fuel, he meets their gaze with confidence. "Where there's smoke, there's fire." Beat... Bond raises the flare gun and fires. The flare ignites the fuel, engulfing the baddies in flames and 007 speeds away. It never got cooler than 1963's From Russia With Love. If you watch fireworks tomorrow, give yourself a little moment to imagine the sky lighting up with a bit of imaginative James Bond action. Happy weekend, everyone!

July 1, 2010

BEATLES: UPCOMING RELEASES

It's been forty years since The Beatles broke up, but the immense talent within the group generated a cultural momentum that is still relevant today. When asked in interviews if they saw themselves as leaders of cultural trends, they often said that they were following the times along with everyone else. In the years leading up to their meeting with manager, Brian Epstein, in 1961, they were still fashioned in leathers and covering "old" rock standards by Chuck Berry and Carl Perkins- tunes that sparked them to rock out as kids and that were kept on set-lists throughout early recordings and performances. John Lennon said that their outfits made them look like four Gene Vincents. The Beatles may have found inspiration in their heroes, but from early on, they also aspired to become great songwriters themselves.


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)

Double Fantasy
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.



NEW BOOKS



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.


Fly Me

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.


VIDEO


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.

ADDITIONAL NEWS

- 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.
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