Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Weekly, Volume Eight

That's right children (the five or six of you who happen to read this old rag), the allegedly ever-popular "weekly" is back for round eight. Somewhat en retard this time, but I guess I just don't take this blogging thing seriously enough to stick to a rigid schedule. Or maybe I'm completely insecure and somehow think that belated posting will create the illusion that I'm too cool to care about blogging, when in fact I am a irredeemable dullard and this act of electronic communication dictates my every waking thought and action. Hmmm... Anyway, let's do it to it.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen (Joe Cocker)
Forget Get Yer Ya-Yas Out and that old dinosaur Frampton Comes Alive (please), it's this album that really deserves to be numbered as one of the best audio documents of live rock and roll. The record compiles almost twenty tracks culled from Cocker's performances at the Fillmore East in March 1970. The soul-shouting Brit is in delightfully raw form here, and performances by the sprawling posse of musicians and singers accompanying him are consistently strong. The tightness of Leon Russell's arrangements is also a thing of beauty. Historically-minded listeners should also find interest in the record: the sprawling, bohemian nature of the Mad Dogs tour eventually lead to its inauspicious demise, and Cocker hasn't reached such a level of thrilling performance since. Penultimate track "The Letter" is worth the purchase price alone. As classic rock live albums go, this one is surpassed in scope and electricity only by The Last Waltz, and maybe Hendrix Plays Monterey.

World at War (British Broadcasting Corporation)
An unimaginably sprawling 35-hour documentary about World War II, produced in 1974 by the Beeb. The enormous breadth and depth of information on every aspect of the War is bulwarked by hours of footage culled from the vaults of the Allies and the Axis, and more hours of surprising candid interview material with major actors on both sides of the conflict. Laurence Olivier's narrative tone is also spot-on. Some viewers might find the program too Anglo-centric, but otherwise World at War is a monumental work of historical documentary.


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