Little Joe, Superstar: The Films of Joe Dallesandro by Michael Ferguson, Joe Dallesandro
For anyone who is even vaguely familiar with the work of actor Joe Dallesandro, this is MUST reading/viewing!
Of the array of quirky talent that Warhol assembled in his stable of actors, Dallesandro was an easy STANDOUT from the rest, for a number of reasons; not the least of which was that the man was a NATURAL TALENT! Even among the critics who DESPISED Warhol's films,virtually ALL were forced to agree on one thing:Dallesandro was a REAL TALENT.
Unlike Warhol's other "Discoveries"(most of whom required almost constant "high maintenance"), for Dallesandro, acting came almost as easy as breathing. Here is a man who is that RARE THING: a BORN actor. His acting from the start(to the present)is ASTONISHING to watch:natural and unaffected(NO poser HERE)yet deeply moving and personal. The range of characters he has literally breathed life into is both diverse and fascinating to watch-never dull or mundane!
What I find intriguing is that with almost NO formal training as a "Serious" actor, he has managed to effectively create a WIDE scope of characters(everything from young hustlers to gangsters to anti-heroes to romantic leading-man types in the classic sense)and yet is NOT hailed as a truly WONDERFUL character actor by either his peers OR most of his fans. One need only watch but a sample of the WIDE body of work he has done in his long career(spanning everything from cinema to television)to realize that he is capable of almost ANY facet of the dramatic arts: from high comedy to classic drama and THEN some!
I would personally LOVE to see him offered more LEADING roles (rather than the support work he has primarily done in the latter half of his career). In this matter the book is INVALUABLE in it's thorough, indepth exploration of his work-going WELL BEYOND merely an overview of his long career(a mistake too often made in most bios of actors). Author Michael Ferguson has meticulously, lovingly assembled Joe's history in film as I have never seen it presented prior. In numerous, GORGEOUS photos, revealing & personal memoirs(Joe and the actors/directors/writers etc. he has worked with)and actual critic's reviews presented here, one with NO knowledge of Joe's work whatsoever can read this book and gain a comprehensive knowledge of why even today Joe is considered one of the pillars of New Cinema.
Lastly, what I found compelling reading was the brutal honesty Joe offers in his memoirs here:both about himself and those he has worked with. Whether discussing his family life, his memories of those he has worked with, or his life views/values, Joe truly pulls no punches. He is clearly NOT interested in trying to present himself as a STAR, or even in flattering terms. Rather, he wants to set the record STRAIGHT-cutting through the rumors and half-truths to tell it like it REALLY was/is.
Joe, you RULE!
Favorite Love Songs ~ Michael Crawford
What I loved best about this album(and what makes it stand out from other albums of the same genre)is the GENUINE feeling that is heard in Michael's voice. He does not simply SING a lyric, but rather PERFORMS it, as an actor would not simply SPEAK a line but instead BECOMES that character he is playing.
Like all GREAT singers, Crawford has the gift to make you FEEL his emotions, and experience WITH him what he is describing in song. His vocal performance is made all the more powerful by his technical prowess: he has TREMENDOUS control over his voice and can effortlessly soar up and down the musical scale, holding a high note and/or bending it WELL BEYOND the capabilities of most singers nowadays.
I loved his beautifully effective interpretations here of old standards, but what REALLY delighted me was his performance here of "The Music Of The Night". I think THIS version easily outshines the ORIGINAL, for two reasons:1.the musical arrangement HERE is more delicate, so Michael's voice comes across more clearly; 2.Michael paces his voice more slowly and deliberately, allowing the listener to really FEEL the wealth of emotion to be found in that GLORIOUS voice of his!
I would highly recommend this album to any fan of Michael Crawford, and ESPECIALLY to anyone who says that there are NO current theatre actors whose voice offers anything MORE than mere technical skill. To THEM I'd say "Do yourself a FAVOR, check out MICHAEL CRAWFORD!"
Antiquities [BOX SET] ~ Ewan MacColl
In terms of truly VISIONARY artistry, Ewan MacColl was MILES AHEAD of his contemporaries in the genre of Folk Music. This was no accident, but rather was the direct result of his unique & uncommon early training and background in The Arts, quite UNLIKE that of his peers.
His early training provided him an excellent opportunity to gain an EXTENSIVE knowledge and love of traditional British Folk music, especially Scottish. BOTH his parents were AVID collectors of traditional British Folk songs, and the young Ewan was immersed in music from an EARLY age on. As an adult years later, he spent a LIFETIME continuing this same family tradition of amassing and PRESERVING traditional British Folk Music(in his native country he CONTINUES to receive as much acclaim for THIS as for his legacy as a composer himself).
Unlike most of his peers, he had an EXTENSIVE background in theatre and journalism; being an accomplished playwright the likes of whom even George Bernard Shaw looked on in envy. This background enabled Ewan to bring a real GIFT for storytelling to ALL his musical compositions (many of which were written to accompany his original plays). His clear love and RESPECT for the power of words carried forward in his songwriting. This resulted in songs which were poetic and soul-stirring, yet maintained great focus in their ability to tell their story without wasting so much as a syllable.
MacColl's mastery as a poetic, compelling storyteller has today earned him accolades not just from the general public, but notably from a virtual who's who of contemporary songwriters.
His favourite subject matter was The Common Man, and arguably no one has equaled MacColl in creating such a COMPLETE body of work dealing with such. In fact, it is a STUNNING body of work, encompassing Man's life experiences(literally from the cradle to the grave). NOTHING in The Common Man's life experience was seemingly too personal, harrowing or trivial to escape the mind's eye and razor-sharp pen of MacColl! The result is a treasury of UNSURPASSED beauty and truth, deeply compelling and timeless.
When I first discovered MacColl's songs, it was those dealing with sex and love that simply BLEW ME AWAY, IMMEDIATELY winning me over as a HUGE admirer of his! Never before(or since)have I heard a MAN describe love and sex with such a DEPTH of emotion:from the unrestrained joy of the carnal("The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face")to the tender, wildly romantic dreams/hopes of the innocent("Sweet Thames Flow Softly"). MacColl's love songs NEVER cease to amaze, inspire and enthrall me!
This is the finest, most complete collection I've seen so far(in all, MacColl wrote approximately 300 or so songs in his lifetime). The only notable gaff is the omission of "Sweet Thames Flow Softly"(oddly, it is DIFFICULT to locate this GORGEOUS song on MacColl collections OUTSIDE of his native lands).
For those unfamiliar with him, this is an excellent introduction to MacColl, as it draws from a wide scope of his work. For those well-acquainted with him, it is a satisfying overview of his rich legacy. Ewan MacColl was richly deserving of the title "Founding Father Of British Folk Music".
Paths of Victory ~ Hamilton Camp
"Paths Of Victory", released toward the end of 1964(there is still some debate over it's EXACT release date), remains a stunning work of the folk genre, and a MUST for any serious collector of folk music. Several factors propel it to this loftly position, but three factors in particular come into play.
First:no less than SEVEN of the record's thirteen songs are written by Bob Dylan. Though Dylan was already THE hottest singer-songwriter in folk(generating numerous cover versions of his songs)it was (and STILL remains) a novel idea to stuff MORE than half an album full of Dylan interpretations. Furthermore, six of the seven had yet to be released on Dylan's OWN albums(on Columbia)when they made their appearance HERE(to this day a couple STILL remain unreleased on Dylan's official albums).
Elecktra president Jac Holzman, overseeing this album's production, deserves credit for his fine selection of lesser-known Dylan tunes, and his encouragement of Camp's unique and stirring interpretation thereof.
This leads to the second factor which sets this album apart from much of Camp's contemporaries:Camp's studied AVOIDANCE of the mannered, reverential delivery that dates so many of the '60's folk LP's. Camp's earnest & engaging delivery, punctuated by his SOARING vocals and FORCEFUL playing, puts the material over in a fresh & immediate manner previously unheard of in folk music. The result is an album that CONTINUES to sound vital and contemporary, not dated or jaded. Listen to Camp's simply STUNNING version of the classic song "Get Together"(an early version which PREDATES that of The Youngblood's) and get ready to have your socks blown off! To listen to THIS version is to experience a whole NEW dimension altogether(rumor has it that CAMP'S version was composer Dino Valenti's PERSONAL FAVORITE interpretation). In contrast to The Youngblood's straightforward, rather low-key delivery, THIS version is simply ABLAZE with unfettered, dynamic energy! Camp is at his FINEST here, as his vocals soar to great heights one moment, only to descend to rich, low registers the next(all within the SAME BREATH no less)! His guitar technique here is no less impressive:his touch is deft and delicate yet forceful nonetheless.
The third factor which comes into play is the TIMING of this album's release. Traditional acoustic folk largely gave way to electric folk-rock and singer-songwriters shortly after this album's release. Within the limits of the SOLO guitar and harmonica format, Camp managed to record a record which is quite PROGRESSIVE for its era. Double-tracked vocals were utilized on some cuts(still a relatively NEW technique at that time). The repertoire is largely made up of CONTEMPORARY composers, rather than traditional tunes(again, a novel idea in folk music prior to the advent of folk-rock and modern folk). In addition to the aforementioned Dylan tunes, Camp premiered his OWN classic composition "Pride Of Man" on THIS album(of the MANY subsequent covers to follow, HIS arguably remains THE yardstick by which to measure ALL others). The result was an album which was a unique HIGHLIGHT of the era of "Classic" folk music. That it came toward the END of this genre only MAGNIFIED it's position as such.
Sadly, Camp never recorded another album for Electra in the '60's, instead focusing on ACTING(primarily with theatrical groups)and making subsequent recordings with full POP-ROCK arrangements later for Warner Brothers("Here's To You").
In this writer's opinion, "Paths Of Victory" remains Camp's most accomplished & satisfying work as a RECORDING artist.
Mardi's Bard [IMPORT] ~ Hamilton Camp
After an absence of almost thirteen years, Hamilton Camp RETURNED to the world of music with this SUBLIME album, filled with songs notable for their understated eloquence. This album was released in honor of his late sister, Mardi. While she was in her last stages of terminal cancer, Hamilton visited her daily, giving her a "personal concert" each time. Shortly before she died, she awoke to greet him with "Ahh..here is my BARD!" hence the album's title. After her demise, Camp felt an overwhelming urge to return to the recording studio. The result is this album. Of particular interest is the remake here of his late sixties hit "Here's To You", given an altogether DIFFERENT artistic approach from the original recording. In contrast to the light and breezy approach of the original version, THIS has a much more tender, almost fragile beauty to it-quite moving! Altogether, I found listening to this album to be an experience like nothing I've enjoyed from any other artist of late. In the words of Camp, it truly emits "A shining light of love and grace".
meeting Chris Thompson, Dec 2002
Won't Lie Down ~ Chris Thompson
Chris Thompson, best known here in the U.S. for his body of work with Mannfred Mann's Earth Band, is at least as well known elsewhere for his impressive body of work as a solo artist. His work encompasses everything from movie soundtracks("The Champ")to commercials. What makes him stand out from so many of his contemporaries is two unique qualities:1. His VOICE(which if anything has IMPROVED with age) and 2. His ability to grow/adapt artistically, allowing his music to remain fresh and vital, while continuing to remain steadfast in his refusal to compromise his HIGH personal standards of excellence. The result is an album that is commercially accessible yet adventurous, filled with songs that run a wide range of emotions. Chris possesses a MARVEL of a voice:it simply HAS to be heard to be believed! He has one of THE widest vocal ranges in Rock/Pop music, and puts it to SPLENDID use on this album! Altogether, there is NOT a weak effort to be found on this album, and his delivery (as usual) is earnest and engaging, highlighted by his trademark SOARING vocal range. WORTH checking out!