March 31, 2011

MINI WEEK: 4 BEATLES MINI COOPER

Mini Week continues with a quick look at some of the Mini Coopers owned by The Beatles. Paul McCartney owned a 1965 Radford Mini Cooper S. The car has been auctioned a few times, most recently by Bonham's in 2002, and is on display at the Sarasota Classic Car Museum.



One car in George Harrison's collection was the Austin Cooper S that was featured in the film
Magical Mystery Tour (1967). As part of their 50th anniversary, Mini Cooper (BMW) recently made a reproduction of the car with George's designs. The car was presented to Olivia Harrison and sold to raise money for George's Material World charity. Read more at the George Harrison website here. See Olivia Harrison introducing the auction here.


March 30, 2011

MINI WEEK: 3 MARY QUANT MINI SKIRTS & COOPERS

Mini Week continues with an interview with Mary Quant. Her mini skirt design, once the focus of controversy, was celebrated as a royal stamp in 1999. Ten other classic British design icons were chosen for the set, including the spitfire airplane, the red phone box, the routemaster "double-decker" bus, and the Mini Cooper designed by Sir Alec Issigonis.


WELL DRESSED ADVENTURE

The Independent hails the return of what Spy Vibe defines as "well dressed adventure." After many years of casual-Joe action at the box office with Stallone and Willis, the UK paper notes that filmmakers are turning back toward a fashionable trend. Cinema Retro's Lee Pfeiffer writes in his announcement of the article that "James Bond was seemingly the only action hero to steadfastly fight a never ending battle for the preservation of elegance and fashion. Yet, even he was compromised. Most of the recent Bond ad campaigns, especially in America, have eradicated the trademark tuxedo from the ad campaigns. Nevertheless, The Independent feels that a plethora of elegantly-dressed men of action points to the fact that the pendulum has swung back and style and sophistication are once again returning to the silver screen." Read more at The Independent here.

While we have Lee on our radar, I urge all Spy Vibers to subscribe to Cinema Retro, the best print magazine available that covers entertainment from the 1960s and 1970s. The current 3-issue subscription includes upcoming articles about The Ipcress File! Brick and mortar shops like Borders are sadly closing, so make sure you don't miss out on future issues. Subscription info here.

March 29, 2011

MINI WEEK: 2 MINI SKIRTS

While the bikini liberated beach goers in the late 1940s and early 1950s ( the bikini was named after the atomic bomb testing site, by the way), the mini skirt brought youthful daring and sexuality to everyday fashion in the 1960s. As the song said, "in olden days, a glimpse of stockings was looked on as something shocking." Hem lines traveled higher and lower, but the mini skirt took things to the outer limits. As street wear, it forced the old and new generations to confront qualities that Mary Quant used to describe her Mini car yesterday: "optimistic, exuberant, young, and flirty." How did people react in the mid-1960s? Responses were similar to bikini wearers in the 1940s and to Bardot for popularizing the two-piece in the early 1950s, some interest aroused along with a large dose of conservative outrage. Here's a clip with "man on the street" style interviews.



March 28, 2011

MUSIC STARS ALIGN

The music stars have aligned. Just As Spy Vibe covered the release last week of a new graphic novel about The Beatles early Hamburg days, the love story between Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe, and Sutcliffe's handing the bass role in the band to Paul McCartney, it appears that we were riding the same wave as Gibson Guitars. Gibson announced today that McCartney has been named "best bass guitar player of all time" for his great influence in shaping popular music. They even tread into Spy Vibe's story here: "To think it almost didn't happen at all - McCartney became the Fab Four's bassist by default after original bassist Stuart Sutcliffe left the band to return to art school." Read more at Gibson here. McCartney began as a great music fan himself and has remained so throughout his career. There are lovely moments with Paul and Carl Perkins worth seeking out on vhs or youtube. McCartney once received a special gift from his wife, the photographer Linda McCartney, who gave him Bill Black's original upright bass that was used on the Heartbreak Hotel recording sessions by his boyhood hero, Elvis Presley! Story and video clip here. Below is space-age Paul, a portrait I feel captures the creative explosion of the era. And while we're here, let's just groove once more to that great mash-up between The Beatles and The Kinks.




SHERLOCK HOLMES BLU-RAY

Fans of the original Sherlock Holmes films starring Basil Rathbone will be happy to hear that the complete collection has been remastered for hi-def release on Blu-ray! The set will be released Tuesday, March 29th, and will include all of Rathbon's 14 films (1939-1946). Amazon has the set currently for $79.99 here. Blu-ray.com gives the Complete Collection a good review here. Rathbone also starred in many Holmes radio dramas, which are available through Radio Spirits here. I've absolutely loved the new versions of Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch, but I'll always have a soft spot for these classics. The game is afoot! Arthur Conan Doyle Literary Society page here.

MINI WEEK: 1 MARY QUANT MINI COOPER

Spy Vibe goes Mini! Today, designer Mary Quant talks about her first car, a Mini Cooper. "The Mini car went exactly with the Mini Skirt...It was optimistic, exuberant, young, flirty. It was exactly right." Quant was one of the first designers to develop the Mini Skirt and was an iconic figure in the Swinging London scene in the 1960s. Mini Cooper offered a limited edition of 2,000 Mary Quant motor cars in 1988.



March 26, 2011

TOP 10 SPY MOVIES

The NY Daily News has listed their Top-10 Spy Movies Ever Made. As you would expect, they've chosen a mix of mainstream titles. I was happy to see From Russia With Love, The Ipcress File, and a number of classic Hitchcock films make the cut. They include, however, a few 70s/80s films that I didn't expect. Falcon and the Snowman one of the best ever? Check out the list and let us know what you think. Which classic espionage films would Spy Vibers choose?

March 25, 2011

BABY'S IN BLACK: BASS

Stuart Sutcliffe's Hofner 333 bass, seen below in a photograph by Astrid Kirchherr. Sutcliffe's Hofner bass is often mislabeled as a President Bass, a model name that would appear later. According to the excellent book, Beatles Gear by Andy Babiuk, Sutcliffe's original bass is now owned by the Hard Rock Cafe. Many auction reports are listed on-line, but the amount of the sale is hard to confirm.

When Stuart left The Beatles, Paul borrowed his 500/5 bass until he could buy his own Hofner, the iconic 500/1 violin bass (below). Word has it that Paul wasn't allowed to restring Stu's President bass (he's left-handed) and had to play it upside down.


MERSEY BEAT

BABY'S IN BLACK: VIDEO

Spy Vibe continues its coverage of the new graphic novel about the Beatles early days in Hamburg and the relationship between Astrid Kirchherr and Stuart Sutcliffe. In this short feature by Deutsche Welle, we get a glimpse into the making of Baby's in Black through interviews with Astrid and with writer/artist Arne Bellstorf.



Spy Vibers who are unfamiliar with the Hamburg scene might enjoy hearing one of the first recordings made by The Beatles. Because the band had to play such long hours in the clubs, they drew on many music traditions to find material. Here is a rocking version of the ballad, My Bonnie, with fellow UK musician Tony Sheridan taking the lead vocals. Sutcliffe, focusing more and more on his painting and relationship with Astrid, was not present during the session. Many of Astrid's photos are featured in the video. The Beatles/Sheridan recordings were produced by Bert Kaempfert, who made an appearance in our look at the #1 chart hits of 1961. Spy Vibe's review of the Astrid Kirchherr retrospective here. Astrid interview on Fresh Air here.

March 24, 2011

BABY'S IN BLACK: GRAPHIC NOVEL

At the roots of 1960s pop culture, many styles and events of the decade can be traced back to a little club in the seedy part of Hamburg. A rock band played late nights in the company of sailors and strippers, learning the facts of life and honing their craft. The story played out like a classic tale. A German boy crossed the threshold of the unknown and discovered a treasure- this music! He told his girlfriend, a photographer, in the middle of the night, and then brought her back to the club. And that's when the stars aligned. The band's bass player stepped on to the stage in sunglasses. The photographer was transfixed. They met. It was love at first sight. And this circle friends who dreamed of becoming the new generation of great artists revolved around the lovers. The bass player quit the band and lent his bass to one of the band members, a kid called McCartney, so he could focus on his true talent- painting. Back in England, their pal, whose talent was words, started a publication called Mersey Beat. And on stage in that club in Hamburg, the remaining band members pounded out rhythms that would echo across the globe. The painter and the photographer were happy in Hamburg. All was well, until the headaches became too severe for the painter. He didn't get to live out his love story, or to see the extent of his friend's' success. The tale of Stuart Sutcliffe and Astrid Kirchherr is the focus of a new graphic novel by Arne Bellstorf. Read more at Books That Rock Us here. Amazon link here.

Oh dear, what can I do?
Baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue,
Tell me, oh what can I do?

She thinks of him and so she dresses in black,
And though he’ll never come back, she’s dressed in black.

I think of her, but she thinks only of him,
And though it’s only a whim, she thinks of him.

Oh how long will it take,
Till she sees the mi stake she has made?

Dear what can I do?
Baby’s in black and I’m feeling blue,
Tell me, oh what can I do?

Spy Vibe's review of the Astrid Kirchherr retrospective here. Astrid interview on Fresh Air here.

SPY VS SPY 2

Continuing with our look at Spy vs Spy, here is episode #5 from the animated shorts produced for MADtv.


March 23, 2011

SPY VS SPY

Cartoonist Antonio Prohias (1921-1998) fled Cuba in May of 1960, as Castro came to power. His cartoon strip Spy vs Spy, made its debut in Mad Magazine in January, 1961. Many artists and writers have continued the strip since his retirement in 1990. Spy vs. Spy has remained popular for its ability to celebrate genre conventions like gadgets and booby traps, and to also capture deeper commentary about the cold war, trust, and politics. Similar to other macabre works (Addams Family, Richard Sala), Spy vs. Spy's devilish sense of humor makes this a fan-favorite. Many anthologies of the strip are available. I suggest the Complete Casebook, as I believe contains excepts of an in-depth interview Prohias did with my pal, Bill Janocha, who works on Beetle Bailey (Bill also contributed to my book, Mort Walker Conversations). I personally like to see the black and white spies dish our their deadly plots in animated skits like this one below, which were produced for MADtv (1995-2009). I will post more of these cartoons this week!

March 22, 2011

JOHN LEE HOOKER: BOOM BOOM

Here's the king of boogie himself, live in 1964. Along with R.L. Burnside, John Lee is my greatest influence as a guitarist. What a sound he had! So authentic and unpretentious. On one of our pilgrimages to see John play, he picked out one his particularly eccentric phrases. My band-mate, thinking about all the book-learned guitar guys in the crowd, quipped, "transcribe that!" Here he is in 1964 in the UK playing his hit, Boom Boom for young disco dancers. John Lee Hooker website here.


March 21, 2011

JOE MORELLO R.I.P

Jazz luminary Dave Brubeck (who is still touring!) is known for his unique experiments with time signatures. His most famous composition, Take Five, established the composer/pianist in the wider mainstream, along with saxophonist Paul Desmond. Another key ingredient to the synergy and flavor of these experiments within the Dave Brubeck Quartet was the time-keeper himself, drummer Joe Morello. I was sad to learn on Brubeck's website today that Joe Morello passed away on March 12th at the age of 82. New York Times obituary here. In the clip below, you see Joe tackle a great solo with his bare hands.





Take Five appeared on the album Time Out in 1959, a year that would see a renaissance in the arts with work by jazz artists Miles Davis, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, and cinematic landmarks Black Orpheus, introducing the world to Bossa Nova, and the rise of the French New Wave led by director Francoise Truffaut. William S. Burroughs published Naked Lunch in 1959. The period also saw seminal works by John Cage, Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Frank, and Andy Warhol. The iconic cover of Brubeck's Time Out was painted by Neil Fujita, who passed away last October (New York Times obituary here).


My family had some links with the Brubeck family during our long years in Wilton, CT, though we did not keep in touch. My very best to Dave (hope he returns to San Francisco), and to Joe's family and friends. Thank you for inspiring so many of us to play music and for your musical voices. I don't know if any of the Brubeck Quartet music is orbiting outer space on Voyager, but I like to think that some of these expressions of the human experience are out there with Glenn Gould and the others. Joe, you will be forever loved and missed. I encourage Spy Vibers to catch one of Dave's upcoming shows. He is a special creator from this renaissance, and a contemporary artist who has much to say musically.

Imagine yourself back in 1959, putting this record on the player for the first time. You have never heard anything like it, and it would soon become an iconic tune that would capture the imagination of generations. The clip below is the original album version (ignore the extra subtitles and enjoy the photos). Spy Vibers can find many great Brubeck and Morello clips on Youtube. There are also wonderful doc films about their work together. Now listen to the quartet play Take Five.

March 20, 2011

SCUBA

Where Avengers fans may relate Emma Peel's Lotus with her track-suit styled fashion, the Fiat Spider calls up this iconic image. From the Spy Vibe archives, a fave advertisement from 1966. Published the year following Thunderball, the piece reflects the ongoing fascination and link between well-dressed mystery/adventure and sports apparel. The wetsuit was first designed in 1956, many years after Cousteau introduced the aqua-lung. Scuba diving grew in popularity during the 1950s and achieved a mainstream boom in 1958 with the debut of the television series, Seahunt, and the development of the YMCA diver certification program in 1959.


Author Ian Fleming was literally riding the wave when he published the undersea Bond adventure Thunderball in 1961. Read author Jeremy Duns' article about the behind-the-scenes development of the original Thunderball story here.

March 18, 2011

CORBUSIER & JABOBSEN SALE

If you are redecorating your secret lair, the current sale at Design Within Reach includes pieces by Le Corbusier and Arne Jacobsen.


"To be modern is not a fashion, it is a state. It is necessary to understand history, and he who understands history knows how to find continuity between that which was, that which is, and that which will be." -Le Corbusier


"The key is setting out with a small sketch and seeing the whole spring to life. It may sound affected, but it is the act of creation itself, and it is equally exhilarating whether one is working on a teaspoon or a national bank." -Arne Jacobsen

Sale ends March 22nd.

March 16, 2011

JAPAN BENEFIT CONCERT

Benefit Concert for Japan to feature Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Sonic Youth, John Zorn, and others. All proceeds to go to the Japan Society's relief efforts for residents of the Sendai Tsunami.



Spy Vibe is often about artists who fire our imaginations and help us to see the world in creative ways. The designers and storytellers we celebrate can be seen as the makers of our modern mythology. They show us our potential and bring human archetypes to light. Their work challenges us to answer the call to adventure we face at various times in our own lives. This is a particularly tough time for many lives in Japan.

I know that many of our readers have been shaped by Japanese culture. From all corners of the human experience, you may have found resonance with the likes of
DT Suzuki, Alan Watts, Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Miyazawa Kenji, Yoko Ono, Pizzicato Five, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Hayao Miyazki, and Osamu Tezuka. When I began to study Japanese and Japanese culture, there were few resources outside the classic textbooks and films. Frederik Schodt, along with comic creators like Frank Miller, eventually helped to introduce many of us to the world of Japanese comics and animation. From culinary arts to graphic design, Japan has been the source of inspiration to generations. What are your connection points with Japanese culture?

I lived in Japan for many years in and around a northern city called
Morioka. Morioka is just north of Sendai in Iwate prefecture. These were formative years for me and I will always see the community that took me in as my family, and the area as the true 'hometown' of my spirit. I am relieved to hear that everyone is safe, even those living in some coastal areas that were swept away.

In the tradition of George Harrison's concert for Bangladesh and John Lennon & Yoko Ono's concerts for the peace movement during the Vietnam & Nixon era, there is a benefit scheduled for Sunday, March 27
th 8PM at Miller Theater, Columbia University in New York. The Japan Society lists an April 9th concert as well, so keep an eye on websites for more information and details. From Yoko Ono's website:

"More than a dozen innovative artists at the intersection of indie rock, contemporary jazz, and
avant-garde performance will come together at Miller Theatre to present a benefit concert to support recovery efforts in Japan. “The tragedy and devastation is really overwhelming,” says John Zorn, who has organized and will host the evening. “I’ve always felt a strong personal connection to Japan, and I’m just glad to be able to do my part to help. It should be an amazing night.”

The lineup includes feature performances by musician and artist Yoko Ono, and her son Sean Lennon, Japanese-American indie duo Cibo Matto, and the influential band Sonic Youth. Vocalist Mike Patton will appear as a special guest, and Mephista, Marc Ribot, Uri Caine, and John Zorn’s Aleph Trio will also play short sets.

Both the performers and the theater are donating their services, ensuring that 100% of proceeds from ticket sales will go to benefit the victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit near Sendai on March 11. Funds will be donated to the Japan Society’s Earthquake Relief Fund."

From the Japan Society website: "Japan Society presents a 12 hour concert benefiting organizations that directly help people affected by the earthquake and tsunamis that struck Japan. With dozens of music acts and performances throughout the day, confirmed performers for the 6-8 pm gala block, organized by John Zorn, include Philip Glass & Hal Willner; Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson and Zorn; Ryuichi Sakamoto; and Bill Laswell and gigi band. April 9th."

Spy Vibers interested in related projects can see my website for information about upcoming screenings of my experimental film for Yoko Ono.

March 15, 2011

1961 MUSIC CHARTS

Music has really been on the front burner in the Spy Vibe lair recently and I thought it would be interesting to look at some of the #1 hits from 1961. What was happening fifty years ago? Patrick McGoohan's Danger Man was already in its first season of 39 episodes (1960-1961). The Avengers premiered! The Peace Corps began (there are 50th anniversary celebrations this year). The Berlin Wall was built, and Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space. Bringing a new spin on the mystery of space exploration, a writer named Stan Lee took a chance on an idea to bring comic books out of a period of passivity with a new story called Fantastic Four and launched Marvel Comics. The world was changing quickly and the music of the era illustrated some growing pains.


The charts in the US and UK, for the most part, show the kind of passive environment that Stan Lee was rebelling against. Ballads and easy listening were popular- nothing too challenging from the likes of a post-army Elvis Presley with
Wooden Heart and Are You Lonesome Tonight? Bert Kaempfert released the #1 hit Wonderland by Night. Calcutta became a hit for Lawrence Welk, and Pat Boone offered his Moody River. The list goes on if you can stay awake for it. Despite an overall air of sedation, there were some slightly rebellious tunes that reflected the changing times.


There were #1 chart hits in 1961 that suggest that the energy of pop music was trying to hang on in the absence of Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. The Shirelles had a hit with
Will You Love Me Tomorrow? It's b-side track, Boys, was covered later by The Beatles. Motown had its first #1 hit with Please Mr. Postman by the Marvelettes (also covered later by The Beatles). Other stand-out tunes from 1961 evoke the mood of George Lucas' American Graffiti, including Blue Moon by the Marcels, Runaway by Del Shannon, The Lion Sleeps Tonight by the Tokens, and Travelin' Man by Ricky Nelson. There were even bigger things on the horizon. Remember that 1961 was also the year that Bob Dylan began playing steadily in Greenwich Village and The Beatles were honing their ruckus sound in German clubs. Bert Kaempfert (above) would actually make The Beatles' first recordings with Tony Sheridan in Hamburg in June of 1961.


My favorite top-chart song from that year reached #1 in October. Hit the Road Jack, sung by Ray Charles, was written by Percy Mayfield in 1960. I imagine it appealed to Ray Charles because he was a great fan of Nat King Cole, whose trio recorded a similar tune, Hit That Jive Jack, in the 1940s. I remember singing Mayfield's catchy chorus over and over as a kid, and I like to see it as a kind of symbolic gesture of farewell from Ray Charles to the older generation, as the youth culture of the 1960s began to re-shape and respond to the modern world. Take it away, Ray!

YELLOW SUBMARINE DOCKED

The Hollywood Reporter announced that Disney has canceled the current production to re-make The Beatles animated film, Yellow Submarine. From the Reporter: "The Walt Disney Co. has deep-sixed Mars Needs Moms producer Robert Zemeckis’ planned next project for the studio, the high-profile remake of the classic Beatles film Yellow Submarine, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. Submarine was already facing a few rocky reefs before this weekend. There were budget issues, and a key presentation Zemeckis was to have made before the Beatles heirs kept being pushed back. A December date for the confab was scrapped and never rescheduled. But sources say the disastrous $6.9 million opening for the $150 million-budgeted Mars, produced by Zemeckis, guaranteed that Submarine would never set sail at Disney. The producer-director is now free to shop the project to another studio." More here.

March 14, 2011

TIGHTROPE

New from Network: "Timeslip star Spencer Banks, John Savident (Coronation Street) and future BAFTA-winning producer and director David Munro star in a tense thriller for young viewers which brilliantly captures the paranoia of the Cold War. Created and written by Victor Pemberton, whose previous writing credits included Dr Who and Ace of Wands, Tightrope was first screened in 1972. All thirteen half-hour episodes have been transferred from the available film elements specifically for this release.


Martin Clifford lives in a quiet English village and is busy studying for his ‘A’ levels when he suddenly finds himself at the centre of a dangerous international espionage plot. Beneath the outwardly calm surface of Redlow lies an intricate network of spies and counterspies, with the focus of attention the USAF base nearby - soon to become the communications centre for top-secret NATO exercises. Martin, commissioned by British Intelligence to help uncover enemy agents in the village, finds his life balanced precariously on a tightrope; one false move on either side, and he could fall to his death."

March 9, 2011

GARBO THE SPY

Spy Vibers will want to check out the documentary film, Garbo the Spy, which is currently on a limited theatrical run. Exclusive bay area screenings at the San Rafael Film Center. "British intelligence named him Garbo because they considered him 'the greatest actor in the world.' The Nazis called him Alaric, after the Visigoth who sacked Rome. The most remarkable double-agent of the Second World War perpetrated its greatest fraud, fooling the German High Command into believing that the Normandy landings were a diversionary trick, thereby buying the Allies precious time and saving many thousands of lives and probably the world... Yet Nazi Germany would continue to think him a hero! Unfolding like a compulsive page-turner, this terrific documentary proves that truth is much stranger than fiction, recounting the story of Juan Pujol, mysterious Spaniard and master spy, who bluffed the Germans and saved the world without ever using a gun. Filmmaker Edmon Roch maintains a breathless pace, briskly mixing on-camera intelligence experts with newsreels and (most amusingly) clips from war and espionage movies such as Patton, The Longest Day and Mata Hari. It's a story so hard to believe, that it has to be true."


From the official website: "This is the story about 'the greatest actor in the world'. On the stage that is life he made his unique contribution to the good of mankind. He went by many names, yet never existed. He lived many lives, yet only one was real. In the darkest time in the history of humanity he perpetrated the greatest fraud of the Second World War- fooling the German High Command into believing that the Normandy landings were just a diversionary feint, and that the real invasion would take place in the Pas de Calais.

To the Nazis he was Codename: Alaric. To the British he was simply Garbo. To the world he was a mystery.


But 30 years after the facts and fiction, the cloak of mystery that kept him hidden and tied to Alaric and Garbo finally started to unravel. Nigel West, noted English Spy novelist, started out on a journey to expose the truth about the man born Juan Pujol and uncovered a story so amazing that it could only be true. The man who the world thought to be dead and buried in Angola in 1949, a man that died a hero to both the British and the Nazis, looked pretty spry when discovered in South America 35 years after his burial. This is the story of Garbo." IMDB page here.

March 8, 2011

MICKY DOLENZ & MONKEES REUNION

Spy Vibe sends out birthday wishes to Micky Dolenz! The success of The Monkees was due in large part to the improvisation and humor he brought to the act as "the crazy one." Micky is currently performing in Hairspray. Fans still have a chance to see him before he leaves the production to reunite with Davey Jones and Peter Tork for a Monkees UK/US tour! From the Telegraph:


"The original TV boyband are back together for their first UK tour in 12 years. British-born Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork return to perform in front of their British fans. The Monkees, responsible for some of the biggest hits of the 60s, will be touring the length of the country including a memorable show at the legendary Royal Albert Hall in London. The original TV boy band are the example to all those who have since found musical fame via television. The Monkees wrote the script for modern day pop music. Fourth member Michael Nesmith, who became a producer and novelist, will not take part in the tour.

Selling 50 million records with hits such as Daydream Believer, Last Train to Clarksville, I’m a Believer and (I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone, The Monkees provided the soundtrack to teenage lives on both sides of the Atlantic from the ‘60s onwards. With the TV series being repeated throughout the 1980s, a whole new legion of fans were exposed to their crazy antics.

Controversially created for TV, they eventually broke their shackles and became a respected band in their own right, embedded in the revolutionary 1960s pop fraternity. The Beatles were one of The Monkees’ biggest supporters with John Lennon naming them “the Marx Brothers of Rock”. In fact in 1967, The Monkees outsold both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones combined."

May 2011 UK tour dates, June-July US tour dates here. Official Monkees website here. A Spy Vibe re-post below of the classic spy episode of The Monkees, "The Spy Who Came in From the Cool."




March 7, 2011

HARD DAYS NIGHT: OPENING

When writing my feature film screenplays, I am mindful that I have to grab my reader's attention within the first ten pages of my story. Similarly, movies themselves endeavor to capture the audience in the first ten minutes. There are many great opening sequences throughout cinema. Spy Vibers may agree that the pre-title section of Goldfinger stands today as one of the best openings ever. Another famous sequence was shot during this time in March, 1964- The Beatles running from fans to board a train- still a thrilling edit of sound and vision to open the music, energy, and humor of A Hard Days Night. Stunning photography and textures. The mad rush. The sight-gags. At last they are alone, and we are alone with them. Catching our breath, and off to adventure with the band- and a cranky geezer who loves to stir up trouble. The film is a magic ride. Celebrate the anniversary and take a trip on this iconic journey. Play it loud! More behind the scenes info here. Spy Vibers, what are your fave film openers?



March 5, 2011

FROM ME TO YOU

On this day in 1963, The Beatles recorded their third single From Me To You. The tune, their first to top all UK charts, was written a week earlier on a bus as Lennon and McCartney traveled with the band during the Helen Shapiro tour. The title was a play on words of the "From You to Us" letters section of the New Musical Express, showing an early example of word-play and media-inspired songs that Lennon would be particularly noted for later during the Sgt. Pepper sessions (Good Morning, A Day in the Life, Being For the Benefit of Mr Kite). Paul McCartney is quoted in the excellent biography, Many Years From Now, by Barry Miles:

"There was a little trick we developed early on and got bored with later, which was to put I, Me or You in it, so it was very direct and personal:
Love Me Do, Please Please Me; From Me To You - we got two of them in there... That was a pivotal song. Our songwriting lifted a little with that song. It was very much co-written. We were starting to meet other musicians then and we'd start to see other people writing. After that, on another tour bus with Roy Orbison, we saw Roy sitting in the back of the bus, writing Pretty Woman. It was lovely. We could trade off with each other. This was our real start."


Here is my preferred mix from the Mono remasters. Note the punchy bass, out-front vocals, and harmonica. The Beatles mixed their songs in Mono for most of their career, and I have fond memories of hearing their music from a single speaker in my portable record player. Although some prefer the stereo mixes that were done afterward, I could never get used to the wide separation of vocals pushed to one side of the sound stage (probably due to room size and set-up). From Me to You is a great track by The Beatles, created in-part by producer George Martin's request for more material like Please Please Me. The song features their falsetto "woo!" that would become iconic of their early years. Speaking to the innocence of the period that is suggested- I like how the song is about empathy and giving- a kind of "ask not what your lover can do for you, but..." take on Kennedy's challenge.

Beatles group and solo music is available on iTunes. You will also find early rehearsals of the Quarrymen skiffle group and other early Beatles home recordings, including the famous Star Club tapes. Hopefully this historic, early material will remain available for new fans to discover. I'd love to see a deluxe release by Bear Family someday. Check out my film/sound collage for John Lennon and remix/experimental film for Yoko Ono on my Youtube channel here. Photo from Getty Images. Wishing a Fab Weekend to all Spy Vibers!



March 1, 2011

WHAT'S COOL IN DESIGN NOW?

My great-grandfather, architect Sherrill Whiton, started the New York School of Interior Design back in 1916. His book, Interior Design & Decoration, is still a design school standard today. The school itself was originally located around Madison Avenue and on East 56th street (in a building designed by faculty member & architect William Breger). Operations eventually settled in the current locations on East 69th & 70th Street.

The New York School of Interior Design has grown in interesting ways, expanding pre-college and graduate programs, and adding sustainable design and history to its mission. Check their website for upcoming open house, lecture, and college fair events. The Communications Team is interested in creating a virtual forum on Facebook to discuss current design. Find them on Facebook, "like them", and then upload a photo to their wall with a brief description. They are specifically interested in knowing what you think is cool in contemporary design. Spy Vibers, tell us here on Spy Vibe, as well. What's cool now?

"We’re looking for your favorite designs – in rooms, architecture, lighting, furniture, anything you love and would like to share with others. We’ll curate the submissions and develop a current snapshot of what we in the expanded NYSID community find Cool in Design Now! You can view the submissions as they are added and stay tuned for the wrap up in the weeks ahead."



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