Monday, December 19, 2022
For reasons best known to my subconscious I've been meaning to re-watch Frank Capra's "Lost Horizon" (1937) for a little while, so last night we did. I was surprised by how little of it I actually remembered, and All that said, it is an interesting artifact from a time when optimism about the fate of the world and a belief in our common humanity were in short supply. Of course, this was Capra's great theme, and it might be interesting to survey when movies that express utopian ideals appear in a historical context. impressed by the lavish production design. In the back of my mind I think I recall knowing that it had been one of those Hollywood movies where the director went all in and substantially over-budget, and you can see where the money went. Although I have not seen "Avatar" it seems to me that the two movies have in common both that, and a kind of naive idealism. I was also struck by what might be called the Orientalism, or to be blunt, the casual racism..
All that said, it is an interesting artifact from a time when
optimism about the fate of the world and a belief in our common humanity
were in short supply. Of course, this was Capra's great theme, and it
might be interesting to survey when movies that express utopian ideals
appear in a historical context.
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Further adventures in crate-digging. Danko was the first member of The Band to record an album under his own name. As far as I can tell it was never released on CD in the US, and it doesn't stream. Too bad; it's pretty good. Not life changing good, but at least as good as a middling album by The Band- Cahoots, say. The other members of The Band show up on these tracks, along with, inter alia, Eric Clapton, Dr. John, Ronnie Wood and others of that ilk. Interestingly, Danko gets composing or co-composing credits on all of the songs.
The whole solo album thing from that period is a funny thing. The other day on Sirius Radio I heard a cut from John Entwistle's Rigor Mortis Sets In. I suppose it might have been fun to have made the record, but the decision by the label to release it has to have been a pretty clear cash grab. "The kids love The Who- let's see if they go for this." See, also, Bill Wyman's Monkey Grip. I wouldn't put Danko's set in that category, quite. He wrote some songs which are pretty okay, and the group he was in wasn't going to record them, so why not take a run at it?
Monday, December 12, 2022
Over the summer, as part of my inquiry into the music of The Band I found a copy of this, Libby Titus' first album. It's an interesting artifact. Released in 1968 on Hot Biscuit Records it is all cover songs- three Lennon-McCartney, a Paul Simon, a couple by John Sebastian and some other familiar material from that period. Ms Titus shows that she is an expressive singer, with a range and timbre that put me in mind of Blossom Dearie, but the material- and the lush orchestration, doesn't do her any favors, and in the final analysis this set puts me in mind of what I might have heard in a coffeehouse. Her big label release, in 1977, had four big name producers- Phil Ramone, Robbie Robertson, Paul Simon, and Carly Simon, is likewise interesting- Columbia Records obviously went all in on it, but although I think I heard some of it here and there back then I can't say I ever saw a copy. The music biz was different back then, I guess.