Film Review: The Beatles – Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years


A while back I reviewed Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution, a documentary on one of the more prominent albums to come out of the second part of the career of The Beatles studio-only era. A little before that documentary came out, Ron Howard came out with his own documentary on the Beatles, covering their touring years, from when they got big in the UK, to their US tours, and finally becoming dissatisfied with touring.

Some of these stories aren’t entirely new – a lot of this is covered through a lot of histories of Pop Music, Rock Music, and the Beatles themselves. What makes this documentary different is the extensive interviews of the surviving Beatles in the documentary. Additionally, when it comes to the reaction of fans, and the experience of going to these concerts, the documentary also gives time to minority voices, to African American fans who were able to go to their concerts in the South because the Beatles required that the audience be integrated, along with fans in the North (specifically New York)

That said, there are some things that were omitted that I wish had more coverage. There isn’t much discussion of the Beatles Cavern Club years, outside of a mention that a concert promoter spotted them at the club and brought them to play a few gigs in Hamburg. And there isn’t much discussion of the point where The Beatles switched from playing smaller venues to more… conventional audiences, to crowds of girls screaming so loud that they couldn’t hear themselves play.

This last is something of a bummer because there’d never been anything quite like that before, and I don’t think there’s been anything quite the same since. Not even the Boy Bands of the ’90s and 2000s got the same reaction as the Beatles did. The documentary also doesn’t give a sense of the pace – a switch is slipped and all of a sudden everything has changed. Even if this did happen overnight, somebody had to have looked into why this happened overnight. This is the kind of thing that people write doctoral dissertations about – in music, in business, and in human psychology.

It’s not like John Lennon went to bed one night, and then woke up the next morning with hordes of screaming teenage girls outside his window like in Life of Brian (though that is an amusing mental picture). In the same way, it’s not like the Beatles only toured for 2-3 years before retiring. Of their 7-8 year career, they toured for half of it, so the transition of the audience reaction is important, and if it really was an overnight thing, where one day you’re playing to what is basically an ordinary crowd reaction, and the next the audience is in full Beatlemania and sustains that fever pitch for 4 years, that speaks volumes. The same thing if there was something of a build-up to that.

The documentary is still worth watching, but that’s something to keep in mind.

The film is available from Amazon.com – if you do pick this up through that link, I get a referral from whatever you pick up on that purchase.

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Documentary Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution


It’s been a while since I did a review of a music documentary – the last one that comes immediately to mind is a documentary review on the career of Pink Floyd. Well, this year is the year that the Beatles concept album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band has it’s 50th anniversary, and the BBC did a documentary on the album, which also broadcast on PBS, which is where I saw it. Continue reading → Documentary Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution

Video Game Review – Guitar Hero: Van Halen (PS3)


Guitar Hero: Van Halen Box ArtJust to get it out of the way. I love Van Halen in general. Both the David Lee Roth era and the Sammy Hagar eras of the band both had some amazing songs which I absolutely love… and let’s just pretend that the Gary Charone era didn’t happen. So, when I heard about this game, I was looking forward to the game with great anticipation. Then I learned that there wouldn’t be any representation of the Sammy Hagar era on the album because the band was currently touring with David Lee Roth, and my interest waned a little bit. Then the track listing came out and I found that they were taking the same take of mixing Van Halen songs and songs by other bands, like they’d done with Guitar Hero Aerosmith. That caused my interest to wane a little bit more.  Then I found out what songs they were including, and any plans I had on buying the game when it came out (or pre-ordering Guitar Hero 5 to get the game free) were canceled.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t want to play the game. This just meant I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get it. So, now I’ve finally played it, and while I had some fun, this really isn’t the Van Halen band game I wanted. Continue reading → Video Game Review – Guitar Hero: Van Halen (PS3)

Film Review – Iron Maiden: Flight 666


Movie Poster for Iron Maiden: Flight 666
Get Flight 666 from Amazon.com

“World Tours” are, anymore, a given for most rock concert tours, at least with any performer big enough to get Platinum records. However, I really don’t think that most people “get” what goes into a concert tour that goes around the world – both in terms of the toll on the performers and the toll on the crew. This leads us to Flight 666, a concert film that follows Iron Maiden’s “Somewhere Back in Time” Concert Tour. What makes this tour different from other tours, aside from the Documentary aspect, is that for the purposes of this tour, the band purchased a Boeing 757 to transport the band, the crew, and all necessary equipment from venue to venue, rather than chartering the plane. Why buy instead of charter? Because the lead singer of the band, Bruce Dickinson, is rated to pilot Boeing 757s. Continue reading → Film Review – Iron Maiden: Flight 666

Music Review – The Fine Young Cannibals: The Raw and the Cooked


Get "The Raw and the Cooked" from Amazon.com

So, in my wanderings across the internet I came across the music video for the song “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals, which I, frankly, hadn’t heard before. So, I decided to check out the album that it came from, The Young and the Cooked, and give it a try. I was rather impressed with what I heard. Continue reading → Music Review – The Fine Young Cannibals: The Raw and the Cooked

Concert Review – Video Games Live


Video Games Live 2008-2009 Tour poster
Video Games Live 2008-2009 Tour Poster (courtesy of videogameslive.com)

So, I’m doing a break in my usual reaps with a review of a concert I went to today. To be specific, Tommy Tallerico and Jeff Wall’s tribute to video game music – Video Games Live has finally come to Portland, and I’ve finally seen it. So, what did I think?

The Premise

Tommy Tallerico & Jeff Wall lead (in this concert) the Portland Philharmonic and the Pacific Youth Choir in a performance of music from various video games, including the Kingdom Hearts series, the Final Fantasy series, Mario, Legend of Zelda, and other games. Continue reading → Concert Review – Video Games Live

Movie Review – Koyaanisqatsi


Get Koyaanisqatsi from Amazon.com
Get Koyaanisqatsi from Amazon.com

I’ve never watched an “art” film before. I’ve watched films with artistic intent. I’ve watch films that used artistic imagery, and I’ve watched films which made me think (which is one of the things I consider important with films that are “artistic”). However, I’ve never really seen a film that I’d call an out-and-out “art film.”

Until now.

The Premise: The film is a non-verbal one. The film depicts a series of images, in their original speed, sped up, or slowed down, depicting the world, and the flow of modern life, set to a score by Phillip Glass. I’m really understating this, as there’s more to it than that, but I can’t quite explain without getting into the stuff that I’d normally do in the Good, Bad, and Ugly segments

My Thoughts: This film is stunning. It is visually amazing. It is audibly amazing. I hadn’t seen a movie that was deliberately without a story (I’d seen ones that were unintentionally without a story, but that’s another matter), but this was the first I’d seen where the film itself was intentionally without a narrative as we normally think of it. However, it still works. Continue reading → Movie Review – Koyaanisqatsi

Movie Review: Pink Floyd – The Wall


Get the movie adaptation of Pink Floyds The Wall from Amazon.com
Get the movie adaptation of Pink Floyd's "The Wall" from Amazon.com

Well, you all know that I like Pink Floyd. I’ve reviewed their famous concert at Pompeii, as well as a documentary on the band’s history. Well, in the early 80s, The Floyd put togeather a film based on their hit album The Wall, to try and bring the pagentry and imagery from the show to audiences who wouldn’t have had an opportunity to see it. Now, the execution of the concept changed over time, but it stuck with the album’s plot. The question is: did it work?

The Premise: Rock musician Pink (played by Bob Geldof, making his film debut), is undergoing a nervous breakdown in his hotel room. As he goes mad, he looks back on his life, and at the circumstances that brought him to this point, starting from the death of his father in the second world war.

The Good: Gerald Scarfe’s animated sequences are excellent. One of the things about the Live in Berlin concert that didn’t quite work with me was the fact that we didn’t particularly get to see many of Scarfe’s animated sequences. We got a good look at “Goodbye Blue Sky”, and “The Empty Spaces”, but that’s it. Here we finally get to appreciate them in their full glory. Continue reading → Movie Review: Pink Floyd – The Wall

Adaptations I’d like to see made.


My last couple articles, on the opera Doctor Atomic, and on Wired’s recent article about Max Butler’s hacking scheme got me thinking about adaptations, and stories that I’d like to see adapted from fiction or non-fiction to another medium, be it film, television, or even the stage. This is a topic I’ve thought about in the past on other forums, from “Movie’s you’d most like to see re-made” threads to “Novels you’d most like to see turned into movies” to “Anime adaptations you’d most like to see.” However, with all of these threads, they’ve been generally been tied to some sort of video media – anime, film, TV series. I’m expanding this list to address materials that aren’t video – the stage. My list of projects is below the cut.

Continue reading → Adaptations I’d like to see made.

Doctor Atomic – Not Quite A Review


I managed to catch Doctor Atomic on Great Performances today. I didn’t see the whole thing (I had to leave partway through the performance, but I made it back in time for the conclusion), so I can’t do a proper review, but I am going to give my thoughts on what I saw, making it close to a review.

I missed, frankly, much of the first and second act. I missed the majority of the portions with Oppenheimer’s wife, the other scientists, everything up to the final test. I did catch that bit.

Continue reading → Doctor Atomic – Not Quite A Review