Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Book and Movie club no. 2: The Last Waltz

Every wednesday join me for the book and movie club, and of course I'd love suggestions. You folk seem to like your music, any documentaries, films with great soundtracks, books about music, biographies, whatever else you're watching/reading that might be interested, mail me, my e-mail is plastered up top of the page!

I'm not a big country or blues rock kinda guy but I have to admit when it's done right there are times it can be sublime. As the Dude says, "I hate the fucking Eagles, man", and I do, I can't stand Clapton, I don't listen to nearly as much Zeppelin as I used to and while I can appreciate most of it, 70's bearded long-hair rock is something I'll rarely listen to. But this is so much more I guess, country, blues, gospel, rock n' roll, soul, pop, Rn'B, the works!

So last night I finally got around to watching The Last Waltz, the Scorsese directed documentary and final concert of Canadian band ...The Band. After 16 years on the road, they've decided to call it a day, so on Thanksgiving Day, November 25th 1976, in the Winterland Ballroom, San Francisco, the venue of their first ever gig together, 5,000 Turkey dinners are served and the party to end all parties begins.

In between concert scenes The Band are interviewed about the final show, it's a nice break from the show but the live stuff is where the magic is. Muddy Waters, literally roaring for five minutes, this lunatic they played with early in their career called Ronnie Hawkins who looks like he wandered from the mountains, Neil Young singing Helpless, it's a rollercoaster of madness.

It gets a little shit when Neil Diamond comes on and sings an awful song, and Clapton has is guitar playing ass handed to him on a plate by Robbie Robertson but otherwise the guestlist is phenomenal. Waters and Young, as mentioned, as well as Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, Ronnie Wood, Van Morrison, Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan and shitloads more.

I've read some fun facts about it. Apparently Neil Diamond came off stage, and whispered "Follow that", the Dylan, to which Bob replied, "What do I have to do, go on stage and fall asleep?". Bang on the money was our Bob cos, as I said, Diamond was shit. Also, a bit of post production doctoring needed to be done to remove a big blob of coke from Neil Young's well powdered nose.

I suppose that was it all over, over saturation of shit country rock bands, the desert dwelling long-haired, coke and peyote filled days were inevitably numbered. They'd had a good run, from their first gig as "The Band" in '69 to their plast in '76 it was a damn good time to call it a day. Of course The Ramones and The Stooges took over, Sex Pistols had a go at it, things needed to change. But don't they always? I wouldn't mind seeing the death of electro-pop and Topshop guitar bands, but I suppose all you can do is like what you like and wait and see what happens. And in saying that I bought a pair of jeans in Topshop today. Can't beat a nice fitting pair of jeans.

You'll pick it up for a few quid anywhere, and if you really like it a 30th anniversary box set came out a while back. I'll post the best known song from it, The Weight, but the version used in the film is not the one on the soundtrack, this one was filmed in a studio a few days later with the Staples Singers:

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