The Who's Pete Towshend in the studio. Director Matt O'Casey, below.
Who's "Quadrophenia" sees the real them
Occasionally time is kind, at least it's been so to The Who's 1973 rock opera
"Quadrophenia." Originally written by the Who's guitarist Pete Townshend as an artistic replacement for the band's
hailed opus "Tommy" -- when The Who introduced it as their performance centerpiece, it was a concert disaster.
containing some of Townshend's best writing such as the songs "5:15″ and the symphonic "Love Reign O'er Me,"
"Quardophenia" was a musical work that didn't find the instant success of "Tommy" or a huge following.
There was critical acclaim for the opera about Jimmy, an alienated and unstable teen floating in Britain's mod movement. Still,
it flopped in concert, a blow to The Who (especially Townshend who is its sole author) since the piece is cited by many critics as superior to "Tommy" the
deaf-dumb-and-blind pinball wizard.
Only years later was its worth
recognized and its songs returned to The Who's live setlist. Even so, director Franc Roddam's cult film "Quadrophenia"
is probably better remembered in the public eye than the actual album..
a BBC rockumentary "The Who: Quadrophenia - Can You See The Real Me?" by filmmaker Matt O'Casey plays a one day
run in theaters across America. His film avoids the after-story of success being snatched from the jaws of defeat and instead
stays aimed at the actual creation of the double-album by looking at the drama of the inner workings of The Who as well as
real-life history behind the narrative about Jimmy The Mod.
most films of its kind, O'Casey touches all the rock-doc bases from modern and archival footage of band members speaking about
"Quadrophenia," to scholarly critics pontificating. The best interviews come from reminisces by behind the scene
players such as recording engineers and the photographer, Ethan Russell, who shot the images for the original 40-page "Quadrophenia"
lyric book. In this film the talking heads were well-chosen for their knowledge and ability to tell a good story. What gives
this film its edge is how O'Casey weaves the social scene of the post-mod London into the tale.
The tension of the documentary is drawn from the internal friction of The Who, that emerges as a
microcosm of the opera. It is a small world where we see Townshend, juggling his pretensions, his wit and insecurity ultimately
channeling it all into his anti-hero Jimmy.
While this may seem
like its Pete's story, singer Roger Daltrey's interviews do much to make the time seem appealing and fun. In one of the most
memorable scenes in the film when O'Casey is attempting to extract the essence of the band infamous drummer, the late Keith
Moon - Daltrey answers the question "What was Keith like in 1973" with a sardonic smile and the line "He was
a little drunker than he was in 1972."
The film gets its power
from simple storytelling and wisely makes no demand from the viewer larger than requesting that they reconsider the importance
of this now classic rock opera. That point is subtly made again following the end of the film proper with a tagged on selection
of live performances of the songs from "Quadrophenia" that reiterate the point it's time to appreciate this work.
The Who must agree, considering this fall and in winter 2013 the band will be touring
North America presenting "Quadrophenia" in a grand production that insiders say may rival Roger Waters' recent arena/stadium
rendering of Pink Floyd's "The Wall."
The Lady goes gaga for Tony Bennett.
"Zen" got that swing
Whatever you do don't talk about age with national treasure Tony Bennett. He
may be 85, but the singer has an ageless sound, an incredibly smooth technique, an upbeat philosophy about life and multi-generational
All that is nicely expressed in the bio-pic "Zen of Bennett," that premiered
at the Tribeca Film Festival this week. Conceived, created, and produced by his son Danny Bennett
the film displays the same kind of sophistication and elegance that is essential to Bennett himself.
The documentary follows Bennett as he recorded his 2011 CD "Duets II"
with Amy Winehouse, Norah Jones, Lady Gaga, Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, John Mayer, Andrea Bocelli, Carrie Underwood and
Michael Buble. Between those sessions, Bennett is filmed offering career recollections and philosophical reflections. While the framework of the movie is laying down the tracks in the studio, what you walk
away with is a concise explanation of how Bennett has stood the test of time and why he is still on top after six decades.
"Zen" is also an incredible
fly-on-the-wall behind the music glimpse of what the recording process is like for both producers and artists. In the end,
Bennett comes off as a demanding talent who knows what he wants to sound like. Late in
the movie that desire to direct and arrange was clearest during the studio recording session for "The
Way You Look Tonight."
The tune's varying
tempo and subtle vocal flourishes created a dynamic that had the true feel of a live performance. That tune cemented the notion that Bennett knows what he wants and gets it. When the perfect mix
was finally in the can Tony exhales saying to no one in particular "Too many chiefs, not enough indians."
is a perfectionist with himself and loving and forgiving with others. During the emotional pairing of Bennett and the late
Amy Winehouse for their recording of "Body and Soul" Winehouse was near panicked after several bad takes. Jittery
and pulling on the sleeves of her sweater she kept repeating "I'm not getting it right, I'm not getting it right."
Bennett calmed her down by telling her an old story about when he and Dinah Washington
(one of Winehouse's inspirations) worked together in Las Vegas. The story, and Bennett's avuncular nature, eased Winehouse
and enabled her to lay down one of the finest duets for the album. So good that during the screening the audience offered
a Q&A that followed the screening Bennett appraised Winehouse's ability as a jazz singer says "You can’t go
to a university and learn it. Amy had that gift — she was one of the greatest people I’ve ever met."
of the outstanding vocal pairing included in the film was Bennett's encounter with a turquoise purple haired Lady Gaga
for the song "The Lady is a Tramp." Getting immersed in the spirit of the piece Gaga was extremely forward
and flirty with Bennett. When Gaga mischievously asked Bennett if his wife, Susan, was around, Bennett blushed, and Susan
behind the glass of the producer's box let the Lady know she was minding her man.
In the Q&A Bennett called Gaga "one of the greatest artists he’d
ever met, as complete as Ella Fitzgerald.”
Besides the terrific soundtrack and first-person
recollections of jazz by one of its architects, "Zen of Bennett" paints a portrait of this artist who tries to teach
you how to grow gracefully as an alternative of merely growing old.
Bob Marley at his home in Jamaica.
Marley biopic true to
By DAN AQUILANTE
Sometimes filmmakers mess up musicians when
they try and answer the "why they were great" question, just look what Oliver Stone did to Jim Morrison. That isn't
the case for "Marley" releasing mid April. The film by director Kevin MacDonald is
an impressive biography of Bob Marley that at times doubles as a detailed political history of Jamaica.
In the film, Marley's public persona as a prophet of the Rastafarian
religion and a poet of the people lies in balance to a shy man often stern with his family, yet loving to strangers.
film mixes performance, with original interviews with Bob as well as commentary by friends and family who look back on both
Bob's salad and glory days. Those interviews help what must have been the film's biggest obstacle – a lack of video
and film clips. As huge a star as he was, it seems there is little historic film footage. The filmmakers give movement to
this biopic with rapid fire, still camera snap shots that were often laid down in time with the reggae drum beats.
Told as a chronology the film takes you from Marley's earliest days as a barefoot youth in
Jamaica's Trenchtown to a triumphant appearance at Madison Square Garden, his second to last performance before he succumbed
to cancer in Miami.
The message here is moving and heartfelt: stand
up for freedom, and love every second of life because it's short.
This could be the definitive documentary of the life, music and myths of
Marley and its makes its world premiere in Jamaica on April 19,2012 at the Emancipation Park, with
free admission to the public in celebration of Jamaica's 50th anniversary of independence. Enter content here