March 31, 2011
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
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
March 28, 2011
March 26, 2011
March 25, 2011
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.
March 24, 2011
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?
March 23, 2011
March 22, 2011
March 21, 2011
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
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
"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
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 27th 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
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!
March 14, 2011
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
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
"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."
March 7, 2011
March 5, 2011
"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
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."