Category Archives: Music

25 years after its release, “Juice” still is a powerful flick, now on its Blu-ray debut

Paramount is pushing the power of Juice. A powerful morality tale steeped in ’90s urban culture, Juice marked the feature directorial debut of Spike Lee’s acclaimed cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson and the first starring roles for Omar Epps and an electrifying Tupac Shakur.

Now, 25 years later, the gritty and influential film continues to be celebrated for its realistic portrayal of Harlem life, the early New York hip hop scene and the fate of four friends in pursuit of the power and respect they call the Juice.

To mark the film’s silver anniversary, Paramount Home Media Distribution has released the film on Blu-ray for the first time ever, and it’s packed with brand new interviews with Dickerson, producer David Heyman, Epps and fellow actors Khalil Kain and Jermaine Hopkins.  The cast and crew look back on making the film, share heartfelt stories of working with Shakur and reveal the influence that Juice had on them both personally and professionally. The in-depth featurettes are also loaded with never-before-released footage of the cast on set and vintage interviews with Shakur, Queen Latifah, Cindy Herron of En Vogue, the Shocklee brothers, Eric B, EPMD, Cypress Hill and more.  Along with a brand new commentary by the director, fans also will get to see the original ending and hear Dickerson detail the reasons that it was changed prior to the film’s theatrical debut.

Juice has also been released on DVD and on Digital HD.

First Run Features releases two great new DVDs . . . and all that jazz

Streisand wondered how do you keep the music playing? We wonder what does it take to keep Jazz Age music going strong in the 21st century? Two words: Vince Giordano. He’s a bandleader, musician, historian, scholar and Madhattan institution. For nearly 40 years, Giordano and The Nighthawks have brought the joyful syncopation of the ’20s and ’30s to life with their virtuosity, vintage musical instruments and more than 60,000 period band arrangements.

They take to the stage of Iguana (240 West 54 Street) every Monday and Tuesday evening. Three sets are performed from 8 p.m.-11 p.m. (doors open at 7 p.m.). There’s a $20 cash cover charge at the door + a $20 food/drink minimum. For reservations, call (212) 765-5454.

Can’t take the A train to NYC? We strongly encourages viewing Dave Davidson and Amber Edwards’’s There’s a Future in the Past (First Run Features), a beautifully-crafted documentary that offers an intimate and energetic portrait of a truly devoted musician and preservationist, taking us behind the scenes of the recording of HBO’s Grammy-winning Boardwalk Empire soundtrack, and alongside Giordano as he shares his passion for hot jazz with a new generation of music and swing-dance fans.

The DVD starts swinging on July 11.

Also swinging that day from FRF: The Penguin Counters. Armed with low-tech gear and high-minded notions that penguin populations hold the key to human survival, Ron Naveen lays bare his 30-year love affair with the world’s most pristine scientific laboratory: Antarctica. The film follows Ron and his ragtag team of field biologists to one of the harshest corners of the planet, where they track the impact of climate change and ocean health by counting penguin populations.

What’s unique about this film is the verité style of filmmaking (by Peter Getzels, Harriet Gordon and Erik Osterholm) on a scientific quest in the Antarctic, skillfully embedding an important environmental message with a good yarn. Special permits allowed unprecedented access to remote penguin colonies–in all their chaos and splendor.

Haunted by the ghosts of fallen explorers and charmed by the eccentricities of feathered bipeds, the penguin counters’ treacherous, heart-warming journey poses the ultimate question in the world’s fastest warming region: What can humans learn from penguins on the frontlines of climate change?

Robert Mugge offers a revealing, musical look at the life of Al Green in “Gospel According to Al Green”

Listen up, folks. Let’s stay together.

After filmmaker Robert Mugge produced Black Wax with Gil Scott-Heron for Britain’s Channel 4 Television in 1982, he and Channel 4’s Commissioning Editor for Music Andy Park wanted to collaborate again. Park suggested Mugge create a portrait of African American gospel star Andraé Crouch. But Mugge, a longtime fan of soul and pop singer Al Green, countered that suggestion. Mugge figured that Green’s rejection of soul music to become a Memphis-based preacher and gospel singer perhaps made him a richer potential subject. (Interestingly, Green was kicked out of the family home while in his teens, after his religiously devout father caught him listening to Jackie Wilson).

Indeed.

Park agreed. Mugge needed 13 months to secure Green’s approval, getting his approval only days before the planned Seventh Anniversary Celebration of Green’s Full Gospel Tabernacle. That Sunday afternoon church service featured not only Green’s usual church choir and musicians, but also a second choir from Ellington, South Carolina and most of Green’s touring musicians and backup singers. Mugge arranged to document that December 18, 1983 service with three 16mm cameras and a 24-track audio recording truck, making it the first (and reportedly still the only) Al Green church service to be committed to film, Gospel According to Al Green.

While in Memphis, Mugge and his crew went on to film an interview with legendary Hi Records producer Willie Mitchell (who had produced and co-written Green’s commercial hits of the ‘70s), a studio rehearsal featuring Green and his musicians and an extended interview with Green himself. In Green’s interview, he explored his early days in the music business, his creation of such popular hits as “Tired of Being Alone” and “I Can’t Get Next to You”, the traumatic events that led to his abandoning of his successful soul and pop career, the purchase of the Memphis church building which he transformed into a church of his own, and the ways in which his soul and gospel backgrounds had each informed the other.

Image result for Mary Woodson White
Mary and Al

Perhaps the most emotional part of Green’s interview was his discussion of the so-called “hot grits incident,” wherein spurned girlfriend Mary Woodson White assaulted him in the shower of his Memphis home with a pot of boiling hot grits, then ran to another room of his house where she shot and killed herself. (Although she was already married, White reportedly became upset when Green refused to marry her). This interview, conducted two days after his church service, was the first occasion on which he discussed this experience publicly, and he included facts that even his own band members had never heard.

In February of 1984, Mugge also filmed Green and his band in concert at the Officers Club of Bolling Air Force Base in Washington, D.C., this time utilizing four 16mm cameras and the same Nashville-based 24-track recording truck he had hired to record the Memphis church service. It should be noted that, at that point in Rev. Green’s career, he had embraced the Southern fundamentalist notion that blues, rhythm ‘n’ blues, and rock n’ roll were “music of the Devil,” and that, therefore, he should now perform only gospel music.

However, among the numbers Green performed at the D.C. concert was Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready,” which exists somewhere between soul and gospel. In addition, during the staged rehearsal in Memphis, Green agreed to perform “Let’s Stay Together,” which had been one of his biggest commercial successes and now represented a recurring theme in the film. Along with fragments of a few more hits he performed during his interview, these songs helped to depict “Al Green the pop star” who had preceded “Al Green the pastor.”

Among the top Memphis musicians who appear in this film are, number one, Lawrence H. “Larry” Lee, Jr., who was best known for touring with Green and for performing at Woodstock and elsewhere with Jimi Hendrix’s Gypsy Sun and Rainbows; and number two, Mabon Lewis “Teenie” Hodges, who co-wrote Green’s hits “Take Me to the River” and “Love and Happiness” and toured and recorded widely as a guitarist with the Hi Records Rhythm Section. Lee can be seen performing in the church service and rehearsal sequences of the film, and Hodges can be heard, and briefly seen, playing incidental guitar behind Green during much of his interview. Sadly, both men are now deceased.

The resulting 96-minute film, Gospel According to Al Green, had its world premiere presentation in the summer of 1984 at Filmfest Munchen (a film festival in Munich, Germany), its television premiere over Britain’s Channel 4 later that fall, and its U.S. theatrical premiere at Coolidge Corner outside Boston a year later. After each of the two opening night screenings on October 25, 1985, Green sat on the Coolidge Corner stage and, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar, freely offered the commercial hits that he had mostly refused to perform during the making of Mugge’s film, thereby demonstrating his storied unpredictability. Naturally, audience members at both shows were enchanted by his presentation, and since these and other premiere screenings, the film has been in constant release around the world.Image result for al green 2014

As to Rev. Green—now Bishop Green—this past December, he and his congregation celebrated the fortieth anniversary of his Full Gospel Tabernacle church. For MVD Visual’s new worldwide Blu-ray and DVD releases, director Mugge has overseen 4K remastering of the film and created a new 17-minute video titled Soul and Spirit: Robert Mugge on the Making of Gospel According to Al Green. Other bonus features include audio of Green’s entire 1983 interview, audio of the climactic final hour of Green’s seventh anniversary church service, an extended film version of a key song from the church service, and the personal telephone answering machine message Green recorded for Mugge in the mid-’80s.

Lionel Richie and his Commodores gets two vinyl releases with extended tune time

Heaven knows this would happen sooner than later. Commodores, the 1977 self-titled fifth studio album by the pop-funk-soul band known as the “Black Beatles,” will get a vinyl LP release from UMe, along with a special edition in blue vinyl for fans and collectors, on June 16. Both releases were cut from the original, unfaded masters, delivering on vinyl for the first time longer versions of seven of the nine tracks.Image result for commodores fifth lp

The original album spent eight weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard R&B/Soul albums chart and was the group’s first crossover record, peaking at No. 3 on the Billboard 200, thanks to a pair of very different hit singles: the up-tempo “Brick House” and the sensuous Lionel Richie ballad, “Easy”.

“Easy,” the first single released from the album, reached No. 1 on the Billboard R&B (known then as the Hot Soul Singles) chart and No. 4 on the Hot 100, and paved the way for Richie’s pop emergence. The song was an international hit, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K. and New Zealand and the Top 20 in Ireland and Canada.

“Brick House”, featuring the distinctive funky vocals of drummer Walter “Clyde” Orange and Ronald LaPread’s heavy-bottom bass line, which formed the foundation of the song, went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100. A group composition, its lyrics–celebrating a woman’s looks and her confidence in them–were written by Shirley Hanna-King, wife of the band’s trumpet player William “WAK” King, who initially claimed authorship before he admitted the truth.

Also featured on the LP is “Zoom”, a collaboration between Richie and Ronald LaPread. Although never officially released as a single, “Zoom” became one of the Commodores’, and Richie’s, best-known tunes. In the U.K., in fact, the LP was titled Zoom.

The Commodores were originally formed from two groups, the Mystics and the Jays, in 1968 at Tuskegee Institute, where the band members were students, signing with Motown in November, 1972 after opening for The Jackson 5 on tour. The group made a brief appearance in the 1978 film, Thank God It’s Friday, performing “Too Hot Ta Trot”.

Image result for lionel richie commodores

Songs from Commodores have enjoyed a long life in the guise of covers and samples. Fergie sampled “Zoom” on her song “All That I Got (The Make-Up Song)”, from her album The Dutchess. It has also been sampled by Snoop Dogg on “Pimpin’ Aint EZ”, a 2009 collaboration with R. Kelly from his album Malice N’ Wonderland); E-40 (from its 1998 album The Element of Surprise), Tricky (“Tricky Kid” from his 1996 album, Pre-Millennium Tension) and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony (“Everytime” from their 2010 album, Uni5: The World’s Enemy).

Faith No More recorded a cover of “Easy” during the studio sessions for its 1992 album Angel Dust, following its repeated performances during their live shows, and it became an international hit in several countries, including Australia, where it went to #1, Norway, the U.K., Finland, Belgium, Ireland, New Zealand, Switzerland and Netherlands. The song was sampled by rap group Geto Boys for “Six Feet Deep” from their 1993 album, Til Death Do Us Part and by Cam’ron for his song, “Hey Ma.”

“Brick House” was the sampled foundation for the title cut of Foxy Brown’s hit LP, Ill Na Na, while the original was featured in the 1995 film Houseguest, the 1999 film Muppets From Space and the 2002 feature Undercover Brother. Prince’s ex-wife Mayte released a rap version of the song, “House of Brick,” on NPG Records in 1995, with Prince himself singing the chorus and verses. That same year, Dread Zeppelin covered the song as “Brick House (of the Holy)” on its Led Zeppelin-esque album No Quarter Pounder, while Rob Zombie, collaborating with Lionel Richie and Trina, did a version on his House of 1000 Corpses soundtrack in 2003.

Track listings

Title /Vinyl Reissue Track Time / Original LP track time

Side One
1. Squeeze the Fruit 3:03/same

2. Funny Feelings 5:57/4:53

3. Heaven Knows 6:16/4:46

4. Zoom 7:06/6:46

Side Two
1. Won’t You Come Dance With Me 4:08/3:50

2. Brick House  3:46/3:30

3. Funky Situation 4:12/3:46

4. Patch It Up 4:02/same

5. Easy 4:50/4:15

 

Danny Garcia’s next gritty, punk-infused film: “Stiv: The Life and Times of Dead Boy”

He’s a dead boy, this Stiv Bators. He was one of the early American punk pioneers, and is primarily known for his work with The Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church. Classic songs like “Sonic Reducer” and “Ain’t It Fun” continue to inspire fans and musicians from all walks of life.

While Bators made a few films (the camp classic John Waters film, Polyester; a  cameo appearance as “Dick Slammer”, the lead singer of “The Blender Children” in the offbeat comedy, Tapeheads), he is now the subject of the upcoming Stiv: The Life and Times of Dead Boy. It will be the first film ever made about the rowdy and controversial performer, and his life will be documented through archive footage, photography, music and all-new interviews with the people who knew him.

Acclaimed director Danny Garcia will helm the project, and already has numerous punk documentaries under his belt, such as The Rise and Fall Of The ClashLooking For Johnny and Sad Vacation: The Last Days Of Sid and Nancy.

Following in the same gritty underground style that has become Garcia’s hallmark, STIV: The Life and Times of a Dead Boy has a tentative release date of May 2018.

Bators died on June 4, 1990 in Paris, France. He was 40. Drugs? Nope. He 0was struck by a taxi in Paris. Though he was taken to a hospital, he left before seeing a doctor, after waiting several hours and assuming he was not injured. Reports indicate that he died in his sleep as the result of a traumatic brain injury. Bators, a fan of rock legend Jim Morrison, had earlier requested that his ashes be spread over Morrison’s Paris grave. He girlfriend Caroline complied.

In the director’s commentary of the film Polyester, John Waters stated that Bators’ girlfriend confessed to him that she snorted a portion of Stiv’s ashes to be closer to him.

Much less addictive than coke.

 

 

ACCLAIMED JOSS STONE’s “THE SOUL SESSIONS VOLUME 1” GETs VINYL REISSUE

Her real name is Joscelyn Eve Stoker, but she’s better-known as Joss Stone. She was born in Dover, Kent, England, and grew up listening to Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin, emulating their gritty, soulful style on her groundbreaking 2003 debut album, The Soul Sessions, Volume 1, which proved a worldwide sensation and has just been released on vinyl by UMe.

Image resultStone appeared on several U.K. TV talent shows, but was discovered by British producers Andy Dean and Ben Wolfe, who in turn convinced S-Curve Records founder U.S. label executive Steve Greenberg to audition Stone. Greenberg enlisted veteran Miami soul singer Betty Wright to work on what became The Soul Sessions album, with local musicians such as Benny Latimore, Timmy Thomas and Little Beaver as well as contemporaries Angie Stone and The Roots.

The idea behind the album was for Stone to record more obscure soul tracks by the likes of Aretha Franklin (“All the King’s Horses”), Carla Thomas (“I’ve Fallen in Love with You”), the Isley Brothers (“For the Love of You, Pts. 1 & 2”). Willy “Sugar Billy” Garner (“Super Duper Love [Are You Diggin’ On Me] Pt 1”), Laura Lee (“Dirty Man”), Bettye Swann (“Victim of a Foolish Heart”) and the Soul Brothers Six (“Some Kind of Wonderful”) as well as offbeat choices such as Waylon Jennings (Harlan Howard’s “The Chokin’ Kind”) and even Woodstock hero John Sebastian (“I Had a Dream”). The first single was Stone’s cover of the White Stripes’ “Fell in Love with a Girl,” transposed to “Fell in Love with a Boy,” and produced by the Roots’ Questlove. That single reached the Top 20 of the U.K. Singles chart, as did the follow-up her version of Sugar Billy’s “Super Duper Love.”

The Soul Sessions, Pt. 1 entered the U.K. Albums chart at No. 89, and eventually peaked at #4 in its fifth week, with the British Phonographic Society certifying it triple platinum.  It has since sold more than a million copies in the U.K.  In the U.S., The Soul Sessions peaked in the Top 40 on the Billboard 200, and within six months, was certified gold.  The album is now nearing platinum in this country. The album was also an international hit throughout Europe, where it hit the Top 5 in Austria, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Portugal, Top 10 in Belgium and Italy, Top 12 in Sweden and Top 15 in Switzerland as well as No. 4 on the European Top 100 albums. It was awarded a Platinum Europe Award by IFPI for sales in excess of one million across the Continent. The Soul Sessions earned platinum in both Australia and New Zealand, and as of July 2012, had sold five million worldwide.

The critics were mostly effusive, with Rolling Stone’s Jon Caramanica enthusing, “Stone shines on this impressive covers set… she chooses songs wisely.  AllMusic’s Thom Jurek said Stone “has unique phrasing and a huge voice that accents, dips and slips never overworking a song or trying to bring attention to itself via hollow acrobatics.” The A.V. Club’s Keith Phipps said, “Sessions established Stone as a formidable interpreter.” The album was shortlisted for the Mercury Prize and was nominated for a MOBO Award for Best Album.  Stone released the sequel to the album, The Soul Sessions, Volume 2 in 2012.

Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner is celebrated with the stinging “The Complete Studio Collection”

This is a Sting we welcome this summer. A&M/Interscope Records/Deutsche Grammophon are releasing The Complete Studio Collection on June 9, a massive set that compasses the entirety of Sting’s illustrious solo studio album catalog on 180 gram heavyweight vinyl. It’s all here, from his 1985 debut album The Dream Of The Blue Turtles through to the latest 57th & 9th. Indeed, The Complete Studio Collection is the first ever complete anthology of Sting’s unparalleled solo career.cid:image001.jpg@01D2CD64.A04250D0

Following the release of the now sold-out The Studio Collection box set via A&M/Interscope Records, The Complete Studio Collection includes all of the A&M/Interscope Records catalog plus his Deutsche Grammophon discography–Songs From The Labyrinth (2006), If On A Winter’s Night… (2009) and Symphonicities (2010)–in addition to his new album 57th & 9th; bringing together all 12 solo studio albums for the first time.

For fans who purchased the original The Studio Collection box set, a separate bundle has been specially created entitled The Studio Collection: Volume II that contains the 4 newly added albums–Songs From The Labyrinth, If On A Winter’s Night…, Symphonicities and 57th & 9th–with space within the set for all of the remaining albums to create The Complete Studio Collection.

All of the included catalog LPs are presented in meticulous reproductions of their original artwork with new vinyl masters cut at the world-renowned Abbey Road Studios to ensure the highest possible audio quality throughout.

The Complete Studio Collection highlights the incredible full range of Sting’s seminal songwriting, inimitable storytelling, and awe-inspiring arrangements through a myriad of musical styles. From the jazz-infused politically-charged The Dream Of The Blue Turtles to the deft pop song-craft of …Nothing Like The Sun, the globetrotting Brand New Day to the evocative electronica of Sacred Love, through to the exploration of complex classical forms in Songs From The Labyrinth, expanding in magnitude and concept on  If On A Winter’s Night…, and further developing into the genre-melding orchestral expanse Symphonicities, before finally culminating in the triumphant return to pop/rock on 57th & 9th; The Complete Studio Collection showcases all facets of the ever-evolving and truly inspirational artistry of Sting.

Sting will also be awarded the 2017 Polar Music Prize, which celebrates the power and importance of music and is given to individuals, groups or institutions for international recognition of excellence in the world of music. The Polar Music Prize ceremony is on June 15 in Stockholm, Sweden in the presence of the Swedish Royal Family.

For the record: Rock Beat Records issues some classic, collectible vinyl

For the record, Rock Beat Records in about to unleash a handful of lost, must-have classic vinyl. May we offer a sampling?

Arthur Lee & Love: Complete Forever Changes LiveArthur Lee & Love - Complete Forever Changes Live

One of the most famous, cherished LPs of all time, performed live, in it’s entirety!
As mercurial as Arthur Lee could be, he showed no concern in playing before 65,000+ Glastonbury concert-goers who all came to see if Arthur Lee & Love could pull off Forever Changes in a festival setting. Love’s musical director was the link between the ensemble of Swedish string and horn players and this loud, kick ass, take-no-prisoners rock-and-roll outfit. Think Mozart meets Thin Lizzy. Love came to Glastonbury with the hopes of just playing well and having a good time, but they left with so much more than that.

Phil Ochs: Live In Montreal 10/22/66Phil Ochs - Live In Montreal 10/22/66

The Montreal gig was smack dab between his final Elektra album and his first release for A&M Records in November ’67. On the former he’s still the lone troubadour, armed only with a guitar that kills fascists (to paraphrase Woody Guthrie), while on the latter he utilizes ornate orchestration and piano accompaniment ranging from classical to ragtime. In many of the renditions heard on this live set, one can hear Ochs toying with the arrangements, adjusting the tempo mid-song and applying dissonance for effect. In some instances, his ideas outrun his technical capabilities.

Doc Watson: Live From Chicago, March, 1964: Vol. 1Doc Watson - Live From Chicago, March, 1964: Vol. 1

Arthel Lane “Doc” Watson was an American guitarist, songwriter, and singer of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music. His flat-picking skills and knowledge of traditional American music were highly regarded and often performed with his son, guitarist Merle Watson, until Merle’s death in 1985, the result of a tractor accident on the family farm. His guitar playing skills, combined with his authenticity as a mountain musician, made him a highly influential figure during the folk music revival of the mid 60’s. Watson pioneered a fast and flashy bluegrass lead guitar style including fiddle tunes and cross picking techniques which were adopted by many others.

Freddy Fender: Lovin’ Tex-Mex StyleFreddy Fender - Lovin

In 1974, record producer Huey P. Meaux approached Fender about overdubbing vocals for an instrumental track. Fender agreed, performing the song bilingual style, singing the first verse in English, then repeating the verse in Spanish, something he repeated over the course of his career. That track was the No. 1 crossover hit “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”. While notable for his genre-crossing appeal, several of Fender’s hits featured verses or choruses in Spanish. Bilingual songs rarely hit the pop charts, often perceived as novelty hits, but Fender developed a track record of bi-lingual hits, expanding the rich culture of Tex-Mex music.

Big Joe Williams: Southside BluesBig Joe Williams - Southside Blues
Big Joe Williams has been a major influence throughout his long career on most of today’s blues artists and is especially known for his unique development and playing of the nine-string guitar style, something no other artist has successfully attempted. This LP was recorded by famed blues producer Norman Dayron in Chicago and presents Big Joe in an intimate setting, performing many of the traditional and original blues for which he is most widely known.

Del Shannon: The Dublin SessionsDel Shannon - The Dublin Sessions

This is the holy grail for Del fans. Shannon was a consistent hit maker in the early 1960s, beginning with a No. 1 smash in “Runaway.” Del recorded this previously unreleased album in 1977 with his UK touring band, “Smackee”, at Ireland’s Dublin Sound Studios. Del originally mixed and re-mixed the tracks at Cherokee Studios in California but was never satisfied with the results. For decades cassette tapes of these recordings have changed hands with Shannon fans worldwide.

Mississippi John Hurt: Live At Oberlin CollegeMississippi John Hurt - Live At Oberlin College

This excellent performance at Oberlin College in 1965 came at a time when Mississippi John Hurt was coming back into the blues spotlight and being discovered by a new generation of fans. Hurt’s rich, gentle voice and flowing guitar lines are showcased as he performs a mix of hymns, traditional songs and Hurt’s folk/blues staples. While not showcasing the raw emotion of his earlier work, the blues patriarch’s warmth and intimacy shine through here, especially during his exchanges with his audience. This performance offered Hurt’s fine balance of child-like and mature, his voice mellow and his skill in the technically difficult art of finger-picking never diminished.

Mighty Joe Young: Live From The North Side Of ChicagoMighty Joe Young - Live From The North Side Of Chicago

Willie Dixon said it best: “Frankly, I feel Mighty Joe Young is one of the most talented guitar players in the country. I used Joe on many sessions because of his ability to interpret the particular feeling of a song. He has a traditional sound which is he able to mix with a very modern style and he uses this combination to emphasize a mood.”

Iggy Pop’s new film brings “Starlight” to the audience

Whenever I heard the name “Iggy Pop” I smile. Broadly. Karz-Cohl published his book (I Need More!) in 1982, followed by mine (Liza! Liza!, named on of the Best Books of the Year by The New York Times). Now I learn that Cleopatra Entertainment LLC, the movie division of famed indie record label Cleopatra Records, has acquired all domestic rights to Starlight, a feature film by French film maker Sophie Blondy that has found a home on Blu-ray and VOD.

Set in the dunes near the North Sea, a small circus company is suffering from a serious lack of audience for their shows. Spectators are rare but the magic of the circus still thrives.

Each performer rehearses and performs new numbers, but this fragile balance will quickly shatter to unveil their real nature and their most obscure feelings. The circus will then become a place of romantic lust where each will use their powers to satisfy their desires.

Angele, the diaphanous ballerina, her clown lover Elliot and the circus ringmaster, full of cruelty and disturbed by fits of schizophrenia on one side. Zohra in love with Elliot, haunted by an uncanny conscience on the other side. Secrets, jealousy, envy will progressively take hold of them and trigger some irreversible acts. The life of the circus will then take a whole new turn. What does all this have to do with Mr. Pop? Iggy appears throughout the film as an “angel” type character.

Starlight was selected and screened at Tallinn-Black Nights Film Festival (Estonia, 2013); Montreal World Film Festival (Canada, 2013); Moscow-International Film Festival (Russia, 2013); Rendez-vous with New French Cinema in Rome (2013); and Rotterdam International Film Festival (Netherlands, 2013).

Glen Campbell says goodbye with ‘Adiós’, a song that brings his career full circle

Glen Campbell is saying goodbye with Adiós, the poignant title track from country legend’s farewell album. The song brings Campbell’s career full circle by reuniting him one last time with his lifelong collaborator Jimmy Webb, who penned Campbell’s stratospheric crossover hits “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston,” and “By The Time I Get To Phoenix.” Popularized in 1989 by Linda Ronstadt, who made it a Top Ten Adult Contemporary hit, “Adiόs” is a song that Campbell always loved but never recorded.

“Glen and I used to play that song all the time,” Webb, who wrote four of the 12 tracks on the album, says. “We played it in dressing rooms, hotels, we played it over at his house, we played it at my house. He always loved that song. I heard ‘Adiós’ this morning and my wife and I both broke down and cried all over this hotel room. It’s the first time we ever heard it. This album is just kind of a gift from the gods.  This album is just kind of a gift from the gods.”

Adiós will be released June 9 on UMe and is available now for pre-order. All digital pre-orders receive an instant download of “Adiós”  along with the recently released “Everybody’s Talkin’,” Campbell’s take on the Fred Neil-penned hit made famous by Harry Nilsson in the film “Midnight Cowboy.” Pre-order @ UMe.lnk.to/AdiosPR

Campbell’s massive 1977 hit, “Southern Nights,” which was #1 on three separate charts including the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart, is featured prominently in the summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and on the official soundtrack, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Awesome Mix Vol. 2.

Adiós was recorded at Station West in Nashville following Campbell’s “Goodbye Tour” which he launched after revealing he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. As Campbell’s wife of 34 years, Kim Campbell, explains in the album’s touching liner notes, “Glen’s abilities to play, sing and remember songs began to rapidly decline after his diagnosis in 2011. A feeling of urgency grew to get him into the studio once again to capture what magic was left. It was now or never.”

She concludes, “What you’re hearing when listening to Adiós is the beautiful and loving culmination of friends and family doing their very best for the man who inspired, raised, and entertained them for decades–giving him the chance to say goodbye to his fans, and put an amazing collection of songs onto the record store shelves.”

For the Adiós recording session, the Campbell’s turned to Glen’s longtime banjo player and family friend Carl Jackson to helm the production, play guitar and help his old friend. In preparation for the recording, Jackson, who joined Campbell’s band in the early ’70s as an 18-year-old banjo player, laid down some basic tracks and vocals for Campbell to study and practice. Jackson encouraged him every step of the way and although Campbell struggled at times because of his progressing dementia, he was clearly ecstatic about being in the studio.

The 12-track collection features songs that Campbell always loved but never got a chance to record, including several of Webb’s. In addition to the bittersweet title track, “Adiós,” Campbell also sings Webb’s longing love song “Just Like Always”and country weeper “It Won’t Bring Her Back.” He revisits “Postcard From Paris” with his sons Cal and Shannon and daughter Ashley singing the line, “I wish you were here,” resulting in a powerful and heartfelt message of a family singing together one last time.

Adiós sees Campbell putting his spin on several classic songs including “Don’t Think Twice It’s All Right,” inspired by Jerry Reed’s version of Bob Dylan’s timeless tune and “Everybody’s Talkin’,” a banjo-filled take on the song that Campbell never recorded but famously performed on the “Sonny & Cher Show” in 1973 with a 19-year-old Carl Jackson. Campbell’s daughter Ashley plays banjo on the song and joins her dad on several tracks on the album. Other songwriters featured include Roger Miller with “Am I All Alone (Or Is It Only Me),” which begins with a home recording of Miller singing the tune at a guitar pull before going into Campbell’s rendition with Vince Gill on harmonies, Dickey Lee’s honky tonk heartbreaker “She Thinks I Still Care” and Jerry Reed’s Johnny Cash hit “A Thing Called Love.” Willie Nelson joins his old pal for a moving duet of Nelson’s 1968 “Funny How Time Slips Away” while Jackson tells Campbell’s life story in “Arkansas Farmboy.”

“I wrote ‘Arkansas Farmboy’ sometime in the mid- to late-‘70s on a plane bound for one of the many overseas destinations I played with Glen between 1972 and 1984,” reveals Jackson. “The song was inspired by a story that Glen told me about his grandpa teaching him ‘In The Pines’ on a five-dollar Sears & Roebuck guitar when he was only a boy. That guitar led to worldwide fame and fortune, far beyond what even some in his family could comprehend.”

Adiós was a labor of love and a way for Glen Campbell to have one more chance to do what he loves to do and leave a musical gift for fans. Campbell, who turned 81 on April 22, is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He lives in Nashville where he is surrounded by his loving family and getting the very best of care.