Monthly Archives: December 2021

Guest Review of “The Beatles – Get Back” by Chris Turchetti

When I stated in my last post that “The Beatles – Get Back” was all the rage I wasn’t kidding.

Here with a guest post review of Get Back is my friend Chris Turchetti.

Chris is a Rhode Islander, and a lifelong musician, he is also the composer for both film projects of Blindogg Productions – I hope you enjoy his take on Get Back…

I was born in 1965. I’m a lifelong Beatles fan.

The Beatles broke up in 1970.

I didn’t actually fully “discover” The Beatles until around 1975 though…

Fifth Grade was when I also started studying drums with a private teacher.

For better or for worse, my Dad was a lifelong “real” musician… So, I basically had the advantage of having a teacher live in my house with me!!  Two years later, I was so advanced, that I was reading out of  Berkeley College Drum Books. Reading Rhythms came easy to me.

~~ I FEEL FINE ~~

To me, my opinion is that drums aren’t about technical abilities, they’re all about “feel”.

And when you talk about the Feel of a Drummer, we all learned it from Ringo both as players and as listeners!

Well, you either had it or you didn’t. you can’t fake feel.  It’s like faking passion, and being in love. Your partner will notice!!

Musical feel can happen on any instrument, but on instruments other than drums, it gets better with technical ability. Paul was a master of the bass, but none of the other Beatles were really technically proficient at all, but it didn’t matter because they defined the word band. And as a group, they made each other better. They even pushed each other. John & Paul especially. John wrote Strawberry Fields, Paul’s answer was Penny Lane. That kind of thing.

On to the Documentary Get Back:

~~ TOMMORROW NEVER KNOWS ~~

Let’s face it, as a lifelong Beatles fan , a documentary is going to be watched and at least liked…A lot. Just for the content itself. It’s a sure thing. They can’t go wrong with that subject matter. But after seeing the trailer, I was hooked! This looked unbelievable, awesome, interesting as hell, long lost footage, something brand new to my eyes and ears. And it was all of that and then some. Sixty hours of footage broken down into almost 8 hours, separated into 3 parts. Ohhhhh….  I couldn’t wait…

The first part was on Thanksgiving Day. A Thursday, and as much as I was looking forward to it, I got Covid the previous Monday and couldn’t have cared less about this coming Thursday! But fortunately, I was well enough to watch all 3 parts – Thursday, Friday & Saturday.

~~ ROCK N’ ROLL MUSIC ~~

The thing about the Beatles is that , somehow, both Paul & John were prolific songwriters! Even though at this time, Paul was 27, George was 25, Ringo & John were 29. And by the next album, Abbey Road, George was right up there with them. They all sang and had very different distinctive voices that somehow blended absolutely perfectly together. They were so so far ahead of their years. So mature. So experienced.

And yet, so normal. 

It was great to see them in this time frame during the writing and recording of the Let It Be Album because we got to witness so many songs that ended up on their solo albums and even Abbey Road. This wasn’t their last hurrah even though it was their last release. This was their 2nd to last album. 

~~ WE CAN WORK IT OUT ~~

Get Back shows The Beatles being pressed for time as they had 22 days to write and record an entire album!

 I found the whole thing very moving. But I also found that it could have been about 6 hours instead of 8. Watching them fiddle through tunes that they don’t even remember doesn’t lend itself to their legacy. Nobody wants to see that. And some parts sounded awful as they fooled around on way too much, even on their own songs, like singing Two Of Us with their teeth clenched. I get that it depicts them being playful and all of that messing around sure did amuse the lads. It’s a release, it’s needed, I get it, all work and no play, yes I get it, but there was sixty hours of footage and I’m sorry Peter Jackson but you included way too much crap filler, even for the biggest fans. It actually got, dare I say it, boring. It didn’t last, but it was just a disappointment. And they had a deadline!! I was thinking “Do they have no sense of urgency?! Why do they continue to procrastinate?! Time is wasting away!!  C’Mon boys, I thought you were professionals!” But I was torn between yelling at the Beatles to get their butts in gear, and screaming to Peter Jackson “We Don’t Want To See Or Hear This , Through 60 hours of footage, you couldn’t find a better 6 minute segment?!” 

~~ TELL ME WHY ~~

Then there’s the inclusion of Yoko, ummmm…. screaming????

How is this a documentation of how the Beatles overcame an incredible deadline and wrote yet another classic album, and all in 22 days ? I know some people call it art, but there’s no inclusion of Linda, who Paul asked to sing  the high parts on Let It Be and she did a fine job and later became a key part in Paul McCartney & Wings‘ sound. But this documentary does prove that Yoko did not break up the band because she sat on an amp, as Paul joked.

~~ THINGS WE SAID TODAY ~~

I’m still not sure how I feel about when John & Paul go to the cafeteria for a private lunch & in the flower pot on their table, there’s a hidden microphone to record their personal & private conversation talking about how George felt and why he left the band and how Paul is too dominating sometimes. I mean, it’s great to hear them speak privately and we’re all glad that we were a fly on the wall over fifty years ago, but, that’s an invasion of their privacy, I don’t care who you are, it was wrong to do that to them & I’d love to know more about how they both felt when they found out. By the way, when did they find out? Fifty years later through this documentary?

~~ I WANT TO TELL YOU ~~

Highlights for me are too many to list, but even though I know that McCartney was a genius, he really shows it in this film, along with his excellent playing abilities on Bass, Piano, Guitar & Drums, his ideas come quick and he just has that natural ability to create from nothing.  There was a moment when Billy Preston was playing these songs with the boys and their faces just lit up like they just tasted sugar for the first time, and they were absolutely inspired by such a great player and what he was adding to the songs.

Then there’s the famous argument between Paul & George… Classic.

The key part is when Paul says to George “I Can Hear Myself Annoying You.”  These words cut deep because now, it’s all back on George. But George got him back, though unknowingly,  when we see Paul, all teary eyed after George left the band, and John hadn’t shown up when he said he would,  Paul is sitting there staring into nothing and says “And Then There Were 2” referring to himself & Ringo.  Another highlight was when George says “Maybe We Should Have A Divorce”, and Paul says “Well, I said that at the last meeting, but it’s getting nearer”. Something that I noticed afterwards is when Paul says “And Then There Were 2”, he had no idea that as of today, he’s more right than he knew as Paul & Ringo are the remaining 2 Beatles. It’s eerie to watch him say those words now.

~~ CARRY THAT WEIGHT ~~

The official Fifth Beatle, George Martin,  who was so important to them right up until Let It Be, wasn’t a key factor in his usual presence musically speaking, mostly because this album was supposed to be a straight ahead band playing live with no overdubs, meaning that George Martin wouldn’t be scoring any orchestral parts for this album. But then, Phil Spector did. And Paul told him ” Don’t Ever Do It Again!” But good ole George Martin would Get Back to his forte on the next album, Abbey Road.

~~ ALL TOGETHER NOW ~~

The rooftop concert? Well, for me, I have to say that it was an obvious publicity stunt and it came off that way.

That being said, it was still a fun time for all of the people in the streets, on the rooftop, and the Beatles themselves, and you could see that they had a great time.

~~ THE END ~~

So, to wrap up, all in all, I loved watching this. It was informative and kept my interest all the way through. The Beatles were a magical time and we will never see anything like them again. Whatever band you like today will admit that they were (are?) influenced by the Beatles. Jump ahead 50 years and tell me which band is that relevant today and will be this popular 50 years from today and all of the current bands will say they were influenced by ? If you have an answer, your answer is irrelevant.

~~ HERE, THERE AND EVERYWHERE ~~

All over the globe, The Beatles just continue & continue to inspire generation after generation. I feel lucky to have lived in the years that brought the Beatles to the world and I know that I’m a better person and player because of them.  Peter Jackson has done a very fine job, but humans have to find the fault in everything, it’s in our DNA, plus, you can’t please everyone, well, unless you’re the Beatles!

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22 Days in the Life of The Beatles

The recently-released documentary “The Beatles – Get Back” is all the rage these days.

As a lifelong Beatles fan I couldn’t wait to see it. Now that I have, I’d like to offer some thoughts on it.

*SPOILER ALERT* The band breaks up…

First things first – I said in a Facebook post the other day that people who know how much of a Beatles fan I am might be surprised at what I have to say. If you saw that post and came here expecting me to say that my love of the Beatles has been misplaced and I’ve suddenly come to the realization that they aren’t all that – you may as well stop reading now because that just ain’t happening.

The Beatles are still the greatest band that ever was and ever will be. Did I need 7+ hours of behind-the-scenes footage to reinforce that belief?

No.

I appreciate Peter Jackson’s efforts, but I think he may have gone a bit overboard.

Editorial decisions aside – let’s talk about the content.

WARNING – if your musical taste was stunted by MTV – you probably won’t like this.

The one thing that this documentary proves beyond a doubt is that the Beatles were, are, and always will be the greatest rock band in the world. If your taste in music forbids you from acknowledging such…look at it from an analytical point of view.

In less than 10 years the Fabs released 17 albums in the US, 13 in the UK, 3 in Canada and a few in other countries.

They released 64 singles, practically all of them were in the top 10 and an obscene number of them were number 1.

On April 4, 1964 (only two months after their first American appearance) they held the top 5 spots on the Billboard chart – with seven other songs also in the top 100.

They were the first band to release a double A-side single.

Even though most of the singing was done by John and/or Paul – all four of them sang lead at one time or another.

Equipment (both for playing music and recording it) was invented to duplicate things they did without it.

Then let’s not forget starting the whole British invasion thing.

And on and on…

The fact that this documentary is getting so much attention more than 50 years after the band’s break up should also tell you something. Hell – the fact that it was made at all is pretty telling. Name for me any other band who is – or will be – still relevant fifty years after breaking up.

Take your time…I’ll wait.

It’s difficult (but not impossible) for people who weren’t alive at the time to really grasp the significance of this band. Never before, and not since, has a band had such an overwhelming impact on, not only music, but on…well…everything.

I’ve had many conversations with people who weren’t around at the time and who don’t get it. I find myself saying the same thing over and over…”You had to be there. You had to actually see it develop and grow and expand and mature, until the bubble burst and an entire generation was left with their jaws on the floor…unable to grasp the concept of life without them.”

It is commonly accepted in the scientific community that children begin to form memories as early as 4 years old. Since I was born in 1960, and they made their first American TV appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, that puts them right there at the front of my “early memory book.” This, along with four older brothers who baptized me with the music of the Woodstock generation, led to a terminal case of Beatlemania.

I was 10 when they broke up. They were so ingrained in my world, that the news of it didn’t seem possible. It was like learning that Santa Claus wasn’t real, only worse.

So, with all that said – here are a few of my thoughts/observations on Get Back.

Billy Preston’s presence in the studio possibly saved the band from disintegrating sooner. Not only did the music benefit from his contribution, it looks as though the boys needed somebody to show off for.

At times during the documentary, it appears as though John and Paul considered George and Ringo as mere backups. Then at other times it seems the exact opposite is true.

The footage proves, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that once these guys sat down and focused on the music, they were like a well-oiled machine. It’s so easy to see how they cranked out so much great music so effortlessly over the years. There was an undeniable chemistry when the four of them worked together and this documentary gives us a rare glimpse at it. For me, it was like pulling back the curtain and seeing that the wizard really is a wizard.

The Beatles functioned much better as a band than they did as four individuals. Their solo work didn’t hold a candle to their combined efforts and even though Paul is technically still making music – the percentage of really good music in his post-Beatle catalogue is pretty small. John was very preachy in his solo stuff. Rock and Roll and Imagine were the only two standouts (and one of them was a collection of classic covers). George’s solo work never struck a chord with me (no pun intended) because it always seemed as though he couldn’t decide whether he wanted to make money or spread his spiritualism – and let’s face it, those two things don’t generally walk hand-in-hand. Ringo’s solo career has been the one I’ve enjoyed the most, but mostly because of the rosters he has put together for recording and touring.

I have read many books and articles which describe Paul’s desperate attempts to keep the band from self-destruction…watching him in this footage confirms those stories. It also confirms his need for the spotlight. According to practically every account I’ve ever read, Paul loves being a performer – which is a required element if one wants to be a frontman. But this is where we see the difference between Paul and his bandmates. John seemed more interested in the music than the accolades, George had no use for spotlights and Ringo was just plain humble.

Paul craved the attention and adoration being a Beatle offered, which is why, in the last few years he resisted the inevitable breakup. He introduced all kinds of “new directions” for the band in attempts to rekindle their working bond. His logic being that if they had something to focus on as a group they could work around their personal differences.

The whole “Sgt. Pepper” concept was his idea (granted – that one was a bullseye), as was the ill-fated movie/travelling side show “Magical Mystery Tour” (which yielded some great music, but nothing else worthy of them). Filming the Let It Be sessions was another attempted life-line.

It’s really easy to watch the documentary, knowing the final outcome, and criticize Paul for fighting a losing battle – but there is one thing this footage reveals which helped me understand Paul’s motivation.

Paul believed (and says so several times in the documentary) that the group needed something to focus on, “a target”. He felt that the loss of manager Brian Epstein was like a ship losing its rudder. Regardless of his reasons for wanting the band to stay together – he seemed to be the only one who was willing to do whatever was needed to make it so. And when you see the pleasure they all took while working, even with the personal crap bubbling beneath the surface, you can understand why Paul wanted to keep it going.

I will be the first to admit – this entire documentary project could have been whittled down to one 2-3 hour episode. As it stands the only people who will fight through all 7+ hours are hard core Beatles fans. The casual fan will get bored and the non-fan (yes – they’re out there) won’t bother with it at all (as one would expect). Even I could have used much less of the pointless banter and a little less of the clowning around.

To those out there who still harbor the delusion that the Beatles were over-rated I can tell you this…whoever your favorite band is, not only do they not hold a candle to the Beatles, but they owe everything they are to them as well. This documentary is a small bit of proof…

Consider this: It has been fifty-plus years since The Beatles broke up and yet the demand for anything Beatles related was high enough for Disney (the same people who bought the Star Wars franchise for 4 billion dollars) to release this film.

Let’s face it…Disney doesn’t throw money at things if it’s not going to pay dividends.

Watching these guys create an entire album from nothing (plus come up with material to be used on a future album – that being Abbey Road) in just 22 days (20 if you deduct the two days lost to George’s absence) is incredible. It not only showcases their incredible knack for songwriting, it also gives a bird’s eye view of their talents and skills as musicians as all four of them play every instrument in the studio at some point.

I have mixed feelings about the famous rooftop concert…

It was cool watching them perform. It was cool seeing the crowds gather in the street and on the roofs of nearby buildings. I thought it was funny that the police came to break it up and the staff at Abbey Road studios delayed them long enough for the band to play five or six songs. I loved the comments of the people on the streets who, for the most part, loved the whole thing. Even the woman who was pissed because the concert interrupted her sleep was funny. What I didn’t like was that they only played a few songs and repeated them several times. It isn’t clear how the set list was determined, but they could have thrown in a couple of other songs from the fourteen they had rehearsed.

My favorite moment in the whole thing (and I know this is going to seem weird) was when they’re sitting around rehearsing and somebody says it’s time for lunch. So, John, Paul and Ringo all get up to go eat – but George, as calmly as if saying ‘I need a drink of water,’ says “I’ll be leaving now.” When asked what he means he casually says, “I’m leaving the band. See you ‘round the pubs.” And he walks out…

Another point worth mentioning – this series isn’t structured like those cookie-cutter music documentaries with the narrator telling us how the band rose to prominence before tragedy struck and how they came back from it and blah, blah, blah. In fact – there is no narrator and the only story is “you have four (sometimes five) guys in a room with a ticking clock and they need to write, rehearse and record an album worthy of the standards they have set.”

The bottom line:

I loved the documentary for giving us a peek behind the curtain, but unless you are a serious Beatles fan, you’ll most likely have trouble getting through the first episode, let alone the entire thing.

For the serious Beatles fans out there, I’d say you really need to watch it. At the very least it offers closure to those of us who were left hanging all those years ago.

As always – thank you for reading

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Happiness is a cold gun?

Because it’s Friday and I feel like arguing…

Although much of the uproar over the Alec Baldwin gun mishap has died down, there is still some “discussion” about it on social media. Perhaps the most recent school shooting has rekindled it – I don’t know, but I have some thoughts on the topic and I’m pretty sure they’ll start a fire because, like many things happening in the US these days there doesn’t seem to be much willingness to compromise. Everybody has a stance, and they’ve dug in.

With that being said…let’s get into it.

A quick recap:

On Oct 21, 2021 Alec Baldwin fired a weapon while rehearsing a scene for the movie “Rust”, killing cinematographer Halyna Hutchins and wounding director Joel Souza.

The set of Rust where the accident occurred.

Subsequent eye-witness accounts say that several of the strict firearm safety protocols required on set were not followed and that Baldwin was handed the weapon by an assistant director who shouted “Cold Gun” – meaning the weapon had been checked and contained no ammunition – not even blanks.

To quote Kevin Bacon from the movie “A Few Good Men” – “These are the facts, and they are undisputed.”

The ultimate question in this tragedy is – Who is responsible?

One person is dead and another injured…somebody has to be held accountable.

From what I’m seeing, the majority of people seem to think Alec Baldwin should get that particular distinction.

Oddly enough – a year ago I probably would have been one of those people. It’s a very simple and straight-forward argument…the person who pulled the trigger is responsible.

In the interest of full disclosure – I am not now, nor have I ever been a ‘gun person’. I don’t have anything against guns, and I support the second amendment, however, I choose not to own a gun. In other words, you do your thing and I’ll do mine…just don’t point your gun at me. So along with my position on guns comes a very simple stance on gun related deaths – if you point a gun at somebody and pull the trigger – you are responsible for what happens.

However, I find myself on the other side of that fence with this case – and I’ll tell you why…

About a year ago I began working on a film adaptation of my novel Unfinished Business. Recently we (Blindogg Productions) have also begun work on a mini-series based on my novel Backseat to Justice. Since embarking on this mission I have learned more than you can imagine about the way movies are made and, more importantly, how things are done on set (and believe me –  the sum of my new-found knowledge is only a fraction of what it could be).

A film set is an extremely organized place. Like a bee hive.

Every person there has a job to do – and that’s what they do.

The sound person doesn’t tell the light guy what bulbs to use. The set designer doesn’t try to operate a camera and the person in charge of script supervision doesn’t sit in the director’s chair.

Period.

It is literally that simple.

You do your job and everybody else does theirs.

On sets where firearms are involved there are people with very specific functions related to the safety of weapons, among them are the prop master and the weapons master.

Since the 1993 accidental death of Brandon Lee, there is a long list of safety protocols that must be followed as well.

According to numerous eye-witness accounts, not only were many of these protocols not followed, but the weapons master and prop master were not on set when the accident occurred. That in itself is a violation.

Instead – Baldwin was handed the gun by an assistant direct (who has since been fired) and told it was a “cold gun” – meaning it was safe to use.

That act is also a gross violation of protocol. Nobody but the weapons master should ever declare a gun safe to use.

There are also (unconfirmed) reports that the weapons cart was left unattended during a lunch break and that some crew members were using the gun in question during a break to shoot targets behind the set – with LIVE ammunition. This raises a plethora of questions, not the least of which is how in the name of all that is holy was this allowed?

So, picture yourself as Alec Baldwin…you exist in a world where each person has a job to do – a rule which is practically sacrosanct.

Your job is to act.

As part of your job, you want to rehearse a scene which requires you to draw a gun and point it at the camera. You are handed a gun. You are told, in no uncertain terms, the gun is safe. According to the rules of your world, you believe what you are told and go about rehearsing the scene…

And tragedy strikes.

As I said – before I became involved in film-making I had a much more hard-lined stance on things like this, but now that I have a little more understanding of the situation, I am not so convinced that Alec Baldwin is to blame. There was a chain of events, not of his doing, which led to him holding a loaded weapon.

At best he has a small share of the blame.

Ahead of him should be (in no particular order):

The weapons master whose sole function, and the reason she (on this particular set the weapons master was a female) is paid piles of cash, is to make sure that all weapons on set are constantly monitored, maintained, cleaned and stored in a safe manner as well as to make sure that any weapon handed to an actor has been cleared for safety.

The person who handed the weapon to Baldwin and shouted “cold gun” for all on set to hear.

The idiot (and I’m being kind) who inserted a real bullet into a prop gun.

The prop master whose responsibility is the handling and monitoring of all props.

And probably a few others.

So, there it is…my take on the Alec Baldwin shooting fiasco.

Bottom line, Baldwin is not some kid who took a loaded weapon into a school with the sole intention of killing people…he is an actor who was doing his job and counted on others to do theirs.

Please feel free to tell me I’m wrong, as long as you can support your argument with facts.

As always – thank you for reading.

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