Monday, November 11, 2013

Quick Music - TV Reviews

by Bill Holmes

Another evening of cleaning up some music shows on the DVR -

The first is an Austin City Limits that first aired on PBS on 11/02/13 but didn't air here until 11/07. It was a concert by Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell. These two have been playing together off and on since 1975. Rodney was a member of Emmylou's band for three years, so they know each other well. 
They played some songs from their new Old Yellow Moon album and some old favorites. It was a good concert. I'm a fan of Emmylou. They sound OK together but it's not necessarily great harmony. Many of the songs were almost solos by one or the other with limited participation by the other. That's OK. Rosanne Cash showed up for the last song. Rosanne and Rodney were married at one time. They still collaborate. If you like Emmylou you will probably enjoy this program. I give it a B+.

You can stream the Austin City Limits episode at The full concert or some shorter clips.

Another PBS program is Jimi Hendrix: Hear My Train A Comin' which originally aired 11/05 as part of the American Masters series. This documentary was promoted as having new performance video and interviews with those who knew Jimi. There was some new commentary and a little bit of new footage but some of the talking heads are dead so you know that isn't new stuff. I've also seen much of the performance video before.

I was around when Jimi burst on the scene. I owned the album Are You Experienced on vinyl, I now own the CD and have ripped it to my PC and the cloud. I liked and still like his music. He was a great talent. Jimi would be 71 if he were still alive. How much music have we missed because he died at 27?  

I didn't really learn much if anything new about Jimi, his life, music or death. I probably wouldn't be as critical of the documentary if it wasn't hyped as "new" stuff. If you weren't around during Jimi's time or a student of his music, you will learn about him and his journey. It's wasn't a great show but it was good, probably a solid B. I would have preferred some more uninterrupted music and fewer talking heads.

Hear My Train A Comin' is available on also. Give it a watch.

The third PBS program I watched is an old one originally aired in 2009 titled How the Beatles Rocked the Kremlin. The premise of this documentary is that the Beatles and their music helped bring down the communist government. Despite the Beatles music being banned, the youth of the 1960's and 70's Soviet Union smuggled it into the country and made bootlegged copies. They also illegally listened to Radio Luxembourg. This civil disobedience and Western influence supposedly ultimately caused the collapse of the oppressive communist rule.

If you are looking for a program about the Beatles, this is not it. There is not much music at all and what there is comes from Russian cover musicians, most not very good. It is mostly narration and retelling of the experiences of those now grown kids.

While this is an interesting subject, it is a pretty boring show. There is no way to determine the actual impact the Beatles had on the fall of the Soviet Union. The filmmaker thinks it was a major factor but he may be a little prejudiced. There was no mention of any other Western bands or music so I guess the Beatles did this all by themselves. I have a feeling that economic problems and Ronald Reagan might have had some impact on the demise of the USSR.

I suggest you skip this program. Instead listen to some Beatles recordings. The real guys do the songs much better than the Russians.


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