Archive for Van Dyke Parks

Video of the Week: “Heroes and Villains,” Van Dyke Parks

Posted in News with tags , , on October 17, 2010 by 30daysout

Beach Boys fans will recognize this song – Van Dyke Parks performs “Heroes and Villains” with Clare and the Reasons in New York City on WNYC’s “Spinning On Air” with David Garland, for an in-studio session broadcast Oct. 10.  “Heroes and Villains” is of course the co-composition by Parks and Brian Wilson, as featured on the Beach Boys’ Smiley Smile album.  If you’re a Van Dyke Parks fan, go here to see another performance, Parks doing “The All Golden.”

Everybody’s Talkin’ About Harry Nilsson

Posted in News with tags , , , , , , on September 19, 2010 by 30daysout

(Editor’s Note:  Our L.A. correspondent Randy Fuller covered a screening of the new documentary about Harry Nilsson – here is his report.)

John Scheinfeld’s documentary, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him?), is currently getting a week’s screening in Los Angeles (through 9/23), with Portland (9/24 – 9/30) and San Francisco (10/1 – 10/7) to follow.   It’s a gentle and powerful film examining the life of the singer/songwriter through his music and the words of the people who were close to him. Those whose comments tell the story of Harry Nilsson include Brian Wilson, Van Dyke Parks, Jimmy Webb, Mickey Dolenz, Robin Williams, Eric Idle, Al Kooper, Randy Newman and a host of others.

Director Scheinfeld said after the film, in an in-person Q&A at Laemmle’s Sunset 5 theater, that his biggest disappointment about the film is that he could not persuade Ringo Starr to sit for an interview.   Scheinfeld said “There are three people Ringo finds it very difficult to speak about: John Lennon, George Harrison and Harry Nilsson.”

The movie has just been released after a period of at least four years of being tinkered with. The final cut comes in just under two hours long, down from a previous version that clocked in at three hours.  Scheinfeld mentioned that all that lost footage didn’t stay on the cutting room floor.  “A DVD should be out by Christmas,” he said, “and there will be about another 90 minutes of footage – almost another whole movie – as part of the package.”

In the film, Parks and Dolenz have quite a few stories to tell about Nilsson’s legendary spiral into alcoholism and, ultimately, self destruction.  One of Nilsson’s cousins who was close to him also gets a lot of face time and adds a more personal touch to the account.

Comments from Nilsson’s friends about how they never knew how many days they’d be gone when they agreed to get together with him made the crowd laugh, while accounts of ruined relationships with two of his producers – Rick Jarrard and Richard Perry – were sadly touching.

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Review: “Y Not,” Ringo Starr

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on January 12, 2010 by 30daysout

As he approaches his 70th birthday this summer, Ringo Starr emerges with a new album, his 15th studio set since the breakup of the Beatles.  More than Paul McCartney – and much like John Lennon and George Harrison, when they were alive – Ringo has embodied the heart of the Beatles’ mystique and 1960s message of peace and love.  Y Not, the new album, steps up with that charming message and shares Ringo’s ideas on how to hold on to those attributes in a world that seems to have long forgotten them.

“Peace Dream” is Ringo’s version of “Imagine,” and he even name-drops his old bandmate John as he dreams of a world that’s “a better place for you and me.”  “Who’s Your Daddy” is a laconic rocker powered by a sultry guest vocal from Joss Stone, while “Fill In The Blanks” allows Ringo to rock out with the song’s co-writer and his brother-in-law Joe Walsh.  And Paul McCartney sings backup on the affecting “Walk With You,” co-written by Ringo and Van Dyke Parks.

Of course Ringo would get a little help from his friends – but the A-list guest stars actually enhance the offhand charm that is Ringo’s trademark.  With its shrug of a title, Y Not is a warm invitation to open your heart to a simpler era, when Beatles walked the earth and all you needed was love.

MP3: “Who’s Your Daddy” by Ringo Starr (with Joss Stone)

Ringo Starr official website

Sampler Daze: The WB/Reprise Loss Leaders All-Star Team

Posted in Lost Classics! with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 5, 2009 by 30daysout
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Arlo Guthrie

We take a short break from our exhaustive, year-by-year look at the Warner/Reprise Loss Leaders to cite a few of the artists who appeared throughout this series with great music.  We could call it our Loss Leaders All-Star Team.  Between 1969 and 1980, the label issued 35 samplers that were available to the public, and these artists were perennials.

Arlo Guthrie – Woody’s son made 13 appearances in the Loss Leaders series, appearing on the very first sampler in 1969 with “The Pause Of Mr. Claus,” a performance that features one of his trademark comedic rap/song combinations.  The best known of these is of course “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” the nearly-19-minute-long song that made Guthrie famous in 1967 and is played on hip radio stations every Thanksgiving.  Arlo hit the top 40 in 1972 with his version of Steve Goodman’s “City of New Orleans,” and he cut 14 albums for Warner Bros. before the label dropped him in 1983.

Randy Newman

Randy Newman

Randy Newman – Like Guthrie, Newman was one of those hard-to-market artists but he nevertheless earned a critical following when he first appeared in 1968.  Known for writing satiric songs (often from the point of view of a reprehensible character) with beautiful melodies, Newman actually penned hit songs for other artists (“Mama Told Me Not To Come” was a hit for Three Dog Night) and had a few hits of his own, including “Short People” (1977) and “I Love L.A.” (1983).  Newman is a runner-up to Arlo, with 12 appearances in the Loss Leaders series.

Frank Zappa/The Mothers of Invention – Zappa and/or his band made 11 total appearances in the Loss Leaders, they even gave him his own one-disc sampler in 1970 (Zapped) to showcase all the artists on his Bizarre/Straight labels.

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