Tag Archives: Phil Ochs

Ken Burns and Lynn Novick take a powerful, riveting look at “The Vietnam War”. It’s possibly their best, ever!

Anytime we hear that Ken Burns and Lynn Novick are creating a new documentary series, we stand. And cheer. Often and loudly.

Let us tell you about The Vietnam War, arriving on Blu-ray and DVD and Blu-ray on September 19, coinciding with its PBS airing. In an immersive narrative, Burns and Novick tell the epic story of the Vietnam War as it has never before been told on film. The epic program features testimony from nearly 100 witnesses, including many Americans who fought in the war and others who opposed it, as well as Vietnamese combatants and civilians from both the winning and losing sides.

Ten years in the making, the series brings the war and the chaotic epoch it encompassed viscerally to life. Written by Geoffrey C. Ward, produced by Sarah Botstein, Novick and Burns, it includes rarely seen, digitally re-mastered archival footage from sources around the globe, photographs taken by some of the most celebrated photojournalists of the 20th century, historic television broadcasts, evocative home movies and revelatory audio recordings from inside the Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon administrations.

“The Vietnam War was a decade of agony that took the lives of more than 58,000 Americans,” Burns says. “Not since the Civil War have we as a country been so torn apart. There wasn’t an American alive then who wasn’t affected in some way—from those who fought and sacrificed in the war, to families of service members and POWs, to those who protested the war in open conflict with their government and fellow citizens. More than 40 years after it ended, we can’t forget Vietnam, and we are still arguing about why it went wrong, who was to blame and whether it was all worth it.”

“We are all searching for some meaning in this terrible tragedy. Ken and I have tried to shed new light on the war by looking at it from the bottom up, the top down and from all sides,” Novick adds. “In addition to dozens of Americans who shared their stories, we interviewed many Vietnamese on both the winning and losing sides, and were surprised to learn that the war remains as painful and unresolved for them as it is for us. Within this almost incomprehensibly destructive event, we discovered profound, universal human truths, as well as uncanny resonances with recent events.”

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Airborne Brigade Vietnam War Hill 823

The Vietnam War features new, original music written and recorded by Oscar-winning composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. The film also features new music arranged and performed by Grammy Award-winning cellist Yo-Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble. It is the first time Burns and Novick have worked with Reznor and Ross, as well as with Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble.  Additional music in the film was composed by David Cieri and Doug Wamble, both of whom are longtime collaborators with Florentine Films.

The series also features more than 120 popular songs that define the era, including tracks from The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Simon & Garfunkel, Janis Joplin, Ben E. King, Phil Ochs, Donovan, Johnny Cash, Barry McGuire, Buffalo Springfield, The Byrds, Otis Redding, Santana, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, The Temptations, Booker T. and the M.G.s and Pete Seeger.

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The cost of war, Horrors!

The film will be accompanied by an outreach and public engagement program, providing opportunities—facilitated by public television stations—for communities to participate in a national conversation about what happened during the Vietnam War, what went wrong and what lessons are to be learned. In addition, there will be a robust interactive website and an educational initiative designed to engage teachers and students through multiple platforms, including PBS LearningMedia.

Viewers are encouraged to join the conversation: #VietnamWarPBS

The Vietnam War rounds out a trilogy of Florentine Films’ exploration of American wars that began with Burns’s landmark series, The Civil War (1990), followed by Burns and Novick’s acclaimed seven-part series about World War II, The War (2007).

Accompanying the series will be a companion book—written by Geoffrey C. Ward, with an introduction by Burns and Novick—that will be published by Knopf, Burns’ longtime publisher, on September 5.

The Blu-ray and DVD sets contain 10 discs; there are more than 100 minutes of extra bonus footage, including a 45-minute preview program, two pieces on contemporary lives of two of the participants and bonus content. The program will also be available for digital download.

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.”