Tag Archives: Goodfellas

Layla at 40

One hit wonders, iconic albums, career peaks…you could file Layla under every one of those categories.  And while words like classic and timeless are tossed around too often, Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs – the sole studio effort by supergroup Derek and The Dominoes – fits that bill.

I’ve worn the damned thing out in almost every conceivable format; I’ve heard several boots of outtakes and demos and even spent many an hour sifting through the live albums (both official and not) over the years. But the twin guitars of Eric Clapton and Duane Allman, the piano section from Bobby Whitlock that even Goodfellas couldn’t rob, the constant battle over which of the four sides (that’s album talk, kids) was actually superior…these are memories and images that have stood the test of time.

I’m not a big fan of these highly priced reissues that expand original albums beyond belief; for some they are a true testimonial of respect while others are a transparent cash grab. But that’s not my wallet in your pocket; I’m just here to pass the word. Looks like there will be a two-CD edition and a fully loaded motherlode version which includes books, vinyl, DVD-audio and more. I’m probably shooting for the former, since it contains some great live material on the second disc as well as a remastered version of the original masterpiece. From the press release:

THE 2CD DELUXE EDITION features:

 • Six exciting performances from what was to be Derek and the Dominos’ second album, all remixed by the original session engineer, Andy Johns. The highlight of the six tracks is “Got To Get Better In A Little While” – the group’s last recording – presented in this collection both as a mesmerizing jam version and as the first-ever release of the fully produced studio version, finally completed by founding member Bobby Whitlock on keyboards and vocals.

 • All four audio performances from Derek and the Domino’s sole, historic television appearance on The Johnny Cash Show, November 9, 1970 – including Clapton’s famous jam on “Matchbox Blues” with Cash and rockabilly legend Carl Perkins.

 • The two tracks produced by Phil Spector in early summer 1970 that amounted to the first release by Derek and the Dominos: “Tell the Truth” and “Roll It Over,” the A- and B-side of a single that was quickly pulled from circulation by the group.

 • The Layla session out-take “Mean Old World”: the legendary acoustic duet performed by Eric Clapton and Duane Allman.

 The SUPER DELUXE EDITION additionally includes:

 • Newly remastered and expanded 2-CD set of Derek and the Dominos: In Concert, recorded at the Fillmore East and remastered from the original master tapes.

 • Audio only DVD featuring DTS 5.1 and Dolby Surround 5.1 versions of Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs mixed by legendary engineer Elliot Scheiner.

 • High-fidelity, 180-gram reproduction of the original vinyl double album, remastered directly from the original UK album masters, featuring slightly alternate mixes of some songs.   

 • A hardcover book, artfully designed with rare and never-seen photographs, and featuring four meticulously researched essays by noted music historian and author Ashley Kahn fashioned from new interviews with Bobby Whitlock, Allman Brothers drummer Butch Trucks, engineer Ashley Kahn , producer Albhy Galuten, guitarist Derek Trucks; plus historic interviews with Eric Clapton, Duane Allman, and producer Tom Dowd.

 • Facsimiles of Derek and the Dominos concert tickets and various promotional items, including the famous “Derek is Eric” button created to assure fans of the identity of the group’s lead singer and guitarist.

 • Pop-up 3-D artwork and a high quality Layla art print based on the oil painting that graced the original album cover – “La Fille Au Bouquet” by Emile Theodore Frandsen de Schomberg – which has achieved cultural significance in its own right.

 

Or maybe all you really need to do is pull that old vinyl album off the shelf…there’s nothing wrong with that. But either way, one listen will remind you that they just don’t make ’em like they used to.

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T.G.I.F. – Ten Twisted Tales

And we would have gotten away with it too, if you had never seen a Scooby Doo episode before.

"And we would have gotten away with it too, if only you had never seen a Scooby Doo episode before."

One of the biggest problems with film and television is predictability; after watching thousands of hours of sitcoms, dramas and movies I can often see the next plot point coming along like it has beepers and a blinking light. It’s not so much that the plot is redundant – although it often is – but that the brevity of the material (especially commercial television) doesn’t allow for proper story arc and character development.

So often what happens is either the director/writer cheats, or the information is presented in such an obvious manner that you’re almost being told “hey, this is a clue!”. Of course people have the attention span of a gnat these days, so maybe I’m overworking the issue. But here are two key rules you can usually count on:

  1. If an odd fact is introduced – like a character being left-handed or a man just quit smoking – pay attention. It’s probably a critical piece of information and not just padded dialogue.
  2. If within the first five or ten minutes a character looks to have opportunity and motive, that character probably didn’t do it.

Few writers/directors would be crass enough to have the killer or key plot fact come sailing in out of left field at the eleventh hour, that’s just not fair. But a well-played twist requires what I’d call  sleight-of-mind…laying everything out there but being clever enough to not point at it with a floodlight.

An example of a well-presented twist is The Sixth Sense. (SPOILER ALERT…) At the end of the movie, when it was revealed that a key character was dead, I immediately recalled a scene where he was at dinner with his wife, had a conversation and even touched hands. But when I replayed the scene, I noticed that they in fact did not touch – their hands passed within a second of each other – and there was no eye contact. And then there was the revelation about the use of the color red. Then finally, the most obvious clue of all – “I see dead people“. Well played, M. Night Shyamalanit was all right there in front of me and I missed it. Too bad you have been unable to hit the mark since then.

So for this Friday’s exercise, ten recommended movies that I think did the job well. Some will be very familiar, a couple are stone cold classics, but I’ve avoided the real obvious ones like Psycho, Vertigo, Fight Club and The Shawshank Redemption. These aren’t my ten favorite movies, but I’d watch any one of them again in a heartbeat, and if you haven’t seen them I suggest you immediately add the omissions to your shopping list or Netflix queue.

In alphabetical order:

no idiots

Angel Heart:  Probably a little more obvious than most (Robert DeNiro’s character’s name) and a little overwhelming with visual pizazz, but the end(ing) justifies the means. One of Mickey Rourke‘s better performances.

A Beautiful Mind:  Having two dynamic actors like Russell Crowe and the great Ed Harris was huge; they could not have sold this premise with pedestrian performances.

Donnie Darko:  So was it a horror flick, a religious allegory, a knock on conservatism, a time travel epic, a fable or a study of hallucinatory madness? Yes.

The GameDavid Fincher is more famous for the brilliant Fight Club but this tense and clever story keeps you wondering what and who you can believe. Michael Douglas, Sean Penn and a large supporting cast do the script justice.

House of GamesDavid Mamet, a master of words and misdirection, at his peak. Joe Mantegna and Lindsay Crouse deep in the world of con men and grifters where not everything is what it seems to be.

MementoChristopher Nolan directed and wrote the screenplay based on his brother’s short story, and Guy Pearce provides a brazen and brilliant performance alongside Joe Pantoliano. Told backwards, like Nolan’s prior film Following.

Once Upon A Time In America:  Maybe my favorite gangster movie of all time, and considering how perfect a movie Goodfellas is, that’s saying something. Sergio Leone directs a star-studded cast but you have to pay close attention.

Primal Fear:  I’m normally not a Richard Gere fan but he’s great in this one as his arrogance is his downfall. This film launched Edward Norton’s career (an Oscar nod in his first real role) and made me fall in love with Laura Linney.

Session 9:  One of the truly atmospheric horror movies of recent times, far from the gorefests that are passed along as horror movies today. This is creepy and unnerving, and even David Caruso is good in it. Director Brad Anderson now works on Fringe.

The Spanish PrisonerMamet again. Everytime you think you know what’s going on, you really don’t. It’s like watching a magician show you the trick but then repeatedly doing it again. The final scene makes me wonder if Mamet didn’t intend the entire movie as a con, but I change my opinion every viewing.

fingers crossed

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