Saturday, June 15, 2013

DVR Cleanup

by Bill Holmes

Did a little DVR cleanup tonight. It always amazes me how much good stuff is on some of our less popular channels. It also amazes me how much stuff I find to record and then forget to watch. Today's review is about one movie and some music programs.

Let's start with the movie. It was Trouble with the Curve starring Clint Eastwood. It was a movie I had on my list to see. Now this should be a home run great movie. It's got Clint Eastwood and it's about baseball. Unfortunately it wasn't a home run, triple or even a double. It was a solid single, eventually. I almost hit the erase button after the first 10 minutes but decided to stick it out. The first few minutes attempt to set up the story and define all the major characters. To do that in a short time, the script makes everyone a stereotype. Those first few minutes are like a bad TV show.

Clint is the old fart baseball scout who can't do his job, or drive, or feed himself, or walk through his house, or pee. Later he seems to function just fine. There's his old friend in the front office, John Goodman, who still believes in him. The young complete ass who thinks computers should replace human scouts. A young, one time prospect, Justin Timberlake, who is now a scout. Clint's daughter, Amy Adams, who is a successful 30 something lawyer who actually wants to be a baseball scout.

The outcome is predictable and totally unrealistic with absolutely no surprises. It turns out that Clint and Amy somewhat save the movie. Goodman and Timberlake do OK. Most of the baseball scenes are believable which is a plus. Unless you are a baseball fan or a big Clint Eastwood fan I can not recommend this movie. Acting - OK. Story - fair. Script - bad.

I also watched a couple of music shows I recorded from PBS and AXS.

The first was Burt Bacharach's Best on PBS. As you may have guessed this show was about the music of Burt Bacharach. Burt has been writing hit music for over 50 years. We are all familiar with many of his songs. To be honest, I would never buy a best of Burt album but he did write several very good songs. I like many of them but probably not all in a row.

I had forgotten that Burt and lyricist Hal David had written hits before the Dionne Warwick years. Those include songs for Marty Robbins, Perry Como, a couple of Motown artists and many others. This program concentrated on the mid 1960's through the next few years.

The program opens with Walk On By sung by Dionne Warwick. The clip looks like it's from an old TV show. The set looks like it was stolen from Sesame Street. Several dancers "walking on by" and a lame attempt by Dionne to dance. Dionne can sing but she can't dance.

Next up was I Say A Little Prayer recording session. It was Dionne, Burt and Hal sitting around a piano in a recording studio with a band. They were going over how to sing the song. No makeup, no production. Dionne was smoking and singing and looked like hell.  She is not an attractive woman but looked particularly bad in this clip. They cut in a couple clips with Dionne, circa 2004, and she still looks pretty bad.

Getting away from Dionne we get Any Day Now by Chuck Jackson then What's New Pussycat? by Tom Jones. One good song and one not so good.

Now we get to one of the highlights of the show. It's The Look of Love by Dusty Springfield. Originally written for the James Bond spoof Casino Royale (1967 version), it turned out to be a huge hit for Dusty. I like the song and Dusty is one of my favorite singers.

Unfortunately Herb Albert followed Dusty with This Guy's In Love With You.  It's not a bad song, but it appeared to be performed live and Herb is not the best singer. Good trumpet player, successful band leader and record executive (he was the A in A&M Records). Dionne sang a This Girl's In Love With You version too. Dionne also sang Alfie, which is supposedly Burt's favorite.

Other songs were Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head by BJ Thomas, One Less Bell To Answer by the Fifth Dimension, What the World Needs Now Is Love  by Jackie DeShannon, (They Long To Be) Close To You by Carpenters, A House Is Not a Home by Dusty, Arthur's Theme by Burt and That's What Friends Are For by Dionne, Elton, Stevie and Gladys. If you don't know who I mean, it doesn't matter.

It's amazing how many great songs Burt and his various collaborators wrote. I will always admire his talent but be jealous that he was married to Angie Dickinson for 15 years. Every guy who came of age in the 60's or 70's knows what I mean.

I also watched a PBS special of the old guard of country. It starred Ray Price, Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson. Asleep at the Wheel was the backup band. Those guys are all old and have several hard miles under their belt but they still get it done. I have always been a Ray Price fan. He had and has one of the best voices ever in country music. If you are not familiar with Ray, I encourage you to listen to his stuff on YouTube. They all sang their hits. A highlight was when Willie and Ray sang a duet of Crazy and Merle played guitar. I'm not a big country fan, but you gotta love these guys.

Last up was a Tom Petty concert on AXS. Wow - he sang all the Heartbreaker hits. It was a live concert that was filmed in Gainesville, Florida. That is Tom's hometown and close to my old stomping grounds. I didn't take any notes during the show, I just listened and watched. It was absolutely great. Stevie Nicks was his guest and she was great too. Along with Angie, mentioned above, Stevie is one of the women from that era that we remember. Last note - Mike Campbell, Heartbreaker lead guitarist and Jacksonville Ribault HS graduate, had an orange guitar with a Gator logo. Very cool. It was a great concert and I'm going to watch it again. I guess that doesn't count as cleaning up the DVR since I didn't erase it.

I recommend all three music shows if they show up on TV again. The movie not so much.

Of course this is only my opinion. Your tastes and mileage may vary.


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