Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Valentina Lisitsa's Rachmaninoff Project (2009)

 As per Wikipedia:

Valentina Lisitsa is a Ukrainian-born classical pianist. Lisitsa resides in North Carolina in the USA. She is among the most frequently viewed pianists on YouTube. Lisitsa has followed a truly unique path to success, launching her career via social media, without initially signing to a tour promoter or record company.

This low-budget short documentary focuses on the Lisitsa's recording of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concertos No.1 and No. 2. Her breathtaking interpretation of Rachmaninoff and overall talent is observed through interviews with conductor Michael Francis, producer Michael Fine and herself.

The author of this cool documentary is Pieter de Rooij.

Watch the documentary:
(three parts)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music (1977)

Full title: The Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music 1955-1978
Author: Reebee Garofalo
Year: 1977

Reebee Garofalo created this chart back in the 70s during the research for his book Rock ‘N’ Roll is Here to Pay: The History and Politics of the Music Industry (the chart - then named Marketing Trends and Stylistic Patterns in Pop/Rock Music - was later updated and included as an three-page fold-out in the first edition of the book). The chart covers:
[..] the time period from 1955 to 1978, more than 700 artists and 30 styles of music are mapped in currents flowing from left-to-right. For each performer, the length of time that he/she remained a major hit maker is provided. The overlapping streams allow you to compare the longevity and influence of multiple artists for the same time period. The birth and genealogy of each stylistic category is presented, along with an estimation of its share of total record sales. (via
From its beginning the chart has been used and reused countless times for various projects, most notoriously by an artist Dave Muller, whose gigantic wall-painting installation (fully based on the chart) has already toured the world and all this without ever asking for Garofalo's permission. Garofalo explains:
This has outraged many of my friends, who feel I should sue him, especially after he installed it again in 2008 in my backyard at the Institute for Contemporary Art in Boston. [..] I thought about suing, even talked to a lawyer, who assured me we could make big bucks. Ultimately, however, I decided that public access to information was more important than lining my pockets. I wonder if Muller knows how narrowly he dodged a bullet. (via
The original has been updated in 1978 and this version has been transformed (this time to the author's satisfaction) to a high-quality colour poster by HistoryShots - who also sell it. The original chart has been praised by the infographics guru Edward Tufte who included it in his 1997 book Visual Explanations.

Reebee Garofalo explains the motivation behind his work:
For me, creating this chart was a labor of love that drew equally from my love of popular music (for content) and my attraction to the contours of 'pinstriping' on customized 1950s cars (for graphic design). Along the way, I enjoyed the company and able assistance of many friends and acquaintances. I still remember the night that Dianne Dion (then Carasik) spilled Scotch on the original while surveying my placement of artists. (via

See the original chart in detail:
(click on image)

See the colour poster in detail:
(click on image, then again to zoom)

ELP: Pictures at an Exhibition Live (1970)

Full title: Emerson, Lake & Palmer playing Modest Petrovich Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition
Date: December 9th, 1970
Location: London, UK, Lyceum Theatre
Runtime: 42 min

Although this footage from an early ELP concert is somewhat spoiled by the back-then-very-groovy-but-not-so-anymore visual effects, the musical performance is superb.
The piece is performed nearly as good as on the album released the year after, and actually a few minutes longer too. It's fun to see Emerson constantly tuning and switching the buttons on his equipment to get the sounds he wants, not to mention when he rubs the Moog ribbon controller against his ass or wrenches feedback out of the organ during "The Great Gates of Kiev". Greg Lake sings beautifully and always in tune, although he seems to struggle a bit with the acoustic solo in "The Sage". Carl Palmer proves that he was one of the most talented progressive rock drummers and had a kind of boyish charm here, smiling and giggling behind the drums through the whole concert.

If you like the videos below, do yourself a big favour and go HERE. It will be well worth the download.

Watch the concert:
(four parts)

Monday, 12 September 2011

The Melvins live at Hellfest 2011

Full title: The Melvins live at Hellfest 2011
Date: June 17th, 2011
Location: Hellfest, Clisson (France), Terrorizer Tent
Runtime: 62 min

Allmusic's Tom Erlewine describes the Melvins' music as:

[..] oppressively slow and heavy, only without any of the silly mystical lyrics or the indulgent guitar solos; it's just one massive, oozing pile of dark slime.

That's meant in a good way of course. Moreover he observes in wider perspective:
While some may find the Melvins to be dull and repetitious, their place in rock history is interesting, even if considered to be just a footnote.
Their 2011 apperance on the French extreme-music festival Hellfest was however everything but dull. With their fascinating two-drummer driven performance and the legendary Buzz Osborne on lead vocals/guitar this concert is a must-see, not just for their loyal fans, but for all open-minded listeners who don't mind some heavy riffs.

Almost 30 years after the band's start they sound better than ever.

Watch the full concert:
(hint: if you want a quick preview of what you would miss by not watching the concert jump to 7:00)

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Mark Knopfler: A Life in Songs (2010)

Full title: Mark Knopfler: A Life in Songs
Director: Bob Smeaton
Year: 2010
Runtime: 60 min
Language: English

A Life in Songs [...] is a documentary which takes a meandering look at Knopfler’s career, from his beginnings in the north-East of England to global superstardom in the mid-80s. Using a mixture of archive performance footage and intimate interviews with the man himself, it shows us how Dire Straits was forged in the late 1970s on the back of a handful of demo songs (one of which was Sultans of Swing), and how his own distinctive bluesy guitar-playing and drawling vocal style matured. The programme also touches on his second career as a producer and composer of film scores (he wrote the soundtrack for Local Hero and The Princess Bride, among others).

Watch the full film:

Monday, 29 August 2011

Rico Rodriguez - The Legacy (2006)

Full title:  Rico Rodriguez - The Legacy (2006)
Directors: Jep Jorba, Miquel Àngel Arnáiz, Ester Casals
Year: 2006
Runtime: 24 min
Language English

This documentary is a very humble documentary, in terms of money and material resources. We know that it has its limitations and could be much better.

In spite of that fact, the national TV in Catalunya wanted to show it and everything was OK for the broadcasting. We thought that should be no problem with the rights of the songs, as we didn't get almost any money for that broadcasting.

The surprise was when the companies that owns the rights of the songs asked me an ashaming quantity of money that it was impossible for us to pay. We explained that we were students, that we didn't had that kind of money. We got no reply. Those are the so called "defenders of the rights of the culture-makers". Pure rasclaat lies!

So, after two years, I've decided leaving apart the top-down strategy to an horizontal one, creating this blog [link], in order to show the entire documentary to everyone.

Watch the trailer:

 Watch the full film:

Frank Zappa Chart (2008)

Author: Ward Shelly (web page) Year: 2008Details: oil and toner on mylar, 64.5" X 32"  A magnificent visual representation of Frank Zappa's life and work by a Brooklyn artist Ward Shelly.
  Click on image for enlarged version:

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Blood, Sweat & Vinyl (2011)

Full title: Blood, Sweat & Vinyl: DIY in the 21st Century
Year: 2011
Director: Kenneth Thomas
Language: English

This captivating documentary is the product of five years of obsessive filming of live concert footage, exclusive interviews, and historic documentation focusing on three fiercely independent music labels and their bands.

Featuring Neurosis, ISIS, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Pelican, Oxbow, Evangelista, Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra, Cave In, and many others whose music and art found ideal homes in the artist-run record labels of Hydra Head, Neurot, and Constellation.

These labels combine hard-to-define, heavy music with a visual aesthetic that has enraptured worldwide fans, without the need for radio or corporate media outlets. They uphold the legacy of treating music as an art form, not as a product.

This film is an answer to those who question where the spirit of punk rock is today.
Over 20 bands and visual artists. 3 record labels. 1 philosophy.

Watch the trailer:

Friday, 26 August 2011

In session: SRV & Alber King (1983)

Full title: Albert King With Stevie Ray Vaughn In Session
Year: 1983 (audio CD published in 1999, audio/video CD/DVD published in 2010)
Runtime: 88 min
Language: English

In December [1983], Vaughan appeared with Albert King for a Canadian television show called In Session. Recorded at CHCH studios in Hamilton, Ontario, In Session displayed the guitarists' mutual respect and admiration. A CD from the program was released in 1999. A two-disc CD/DVD version of this performance was subsequently re-released in late 2010.
via Wikipedia

Watch the full DVD:

Monday, 27 June 2011

Rory Gallagher - A Documentary Short (2007)

Full title: Rory Gallagher - A Documentary Short
Year: 2007
Director: Matthew Gibbons
Runtime: 16 min
Language: English

A low-budget project by Matthew Gibbons captures the essence of the great Irish musician Rory Gallagher. The film includes interviews with musicians Larry Miller and Barry Barnes but is also interested in what Rory's brother and the owner of the music store (which Rory frequented) have to say - giving a unique insight into his prematurely ended life.

Featured: Rory Gallagher (main), Larry Miller, Barry Barnes, Gerry McAvoy, Rod de'Ath, Lou Martin

Watch the full film:

Benjamin Zander on music and passion (2008)

Full title: Benjamin Zander on music and passion
Year: 2008
Runtime: 20 min
Language: English

The charismatic conductor Benjamin Zander talks about today's attitude towards classical music. Through a musical experiment involving a piano, Chopin's Prelude in E minor and the audience he shows that interpretation (playing and listening) is not something to be taken lightly..

Featured: Benjamin Zander (main), Frédéric François Chopin

Saturday, 25 June 2011

The Blues: The Radio Series (2003)

Full title: The Blues: The Radio Series
Year: 2003
Runtime: 13 episodes, approx. 57 min each
Language: English

In 2003 a number of radio station in USA broadcasted thirteen hour-long programs on the history of the blues - from its African roots to its modern day form. The project was hosted by the renown blues musician Keb' Mo' and includes a gazillion of interviews, live performances, recordings from the archives etc.

Listen to full episodes:

Note: the info links below will take you to the specific episode's web page where you can find the program's description, transcript (html or pdf), list of names discussed, producer's notes (very interesting!), citations and listen/download the episodes and extras!

Episode 1: The Birth of the Blues [info]

The opening program discusses the roots of the blues in West Africa with performance by bluesman Taj Mahal.

Extras: interviews with Bonnie Raitt, Carlos Santana, John Lee Hooker, Martin Scorsese and a song by Taj Mahal.

Episode 2: Goin' up the Country [info]

Part two deals with the formation of the blues genre in the beginning of the 20th century and the first recordings by artist such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Blind Blake, Charley Patton, Son House, and Blind Willie McTell.

Extras: interviews with Bill Ferris and Wyman, a song by Rory Block and a walking tour of Clarksdale, Mississippi.

Episode 3: Tain't Nobody's Business If I Do [info]

Discusses the integration of the blues into the American pop music and documents the work of "The Father of Blues" - W.C. Handy.

Extras: interviews with Angela Davis and Gaye Adegbalola, a song by Shemekia Copeland and an excerpt from the poem The Weary Blues by jazzer Branford Marsalis.

Episode 4: Standin' at the Crossroads [info]

Interviewees Eric Clapton, Chris Thomas King, and Bonnie Raitt (and others) discuss the legend of Robert Johnson and the blues styles of the depression era.

Extras: interviews with George Thorogood and Rory Block and a song "Mamie" by Cephas and Wiggins.

Episode 5: Mystery Train [info]

This episode discusses the famous Beale street, where the likes of Muddy Waters, Albert King, Memphis Minnie, B. B. King and Rufus Thomas developed what is known today as Memphis blues.

Extras: interviews with B.B. King, Bobby "Blue" Bland and Rufus Thomas plus a song "Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burnin'" by Richard Johnson.

Episode 6: Sweet Home Chicago [info]

Sixth show examines the blues scene of 1950s (including Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, T-Bone Walker, Elmore James, and Little Walter) and takes you on a tour of Chess Records from Willie Dixon’s daughter, Shirli Dixon Nelson.

Extras: Interviews with Charlie Musselwhite, George Thorogood, Howlin' Wolf, Willie Dixon and a song "Juke" by Billy Boy Arnold & Hubert Sumlin.

Episode 7: Key to the Highway [info]

This episode investigates the rebirth of the "old" blues and how many older blues artists were rediscovered and started playing again on stages such as the Newport Folk Festival.

Extras: interviews of Dick Waterman and Son House plus a performance "Phonograph Blues" by John Hammond.

Episode 8: Blues Power [info]

In this episode the important impact of blues on the music scene in UK (1950s & 1960s) is discussed through the testimonies of Mick Jagger, Robert Plant, Bill Wyman, Mick Fleetwood, Eric Burdon and others. Included is a rare recording of “Crossroads” from Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce, and Steve Winwood.

Extras: interviews with Eric Clapton, John Mayall and a song "Train Kept a Rollin'" by The Yardbirds.

Episode 9: Bring it on Home [info]

Blue's strong impact on the 1960s rock scene is addressed with insight on musical legends such as ed Zeppelin, Cream, the Rolling Stones, the Jimi Hendrix Experience, the Paul Butterfield Blues Band, the Allman Brothers Band, Janis Joplin, and Johnny Winter.

Extras: "Walking Blues" by Hot Tuna and interviews with Charlie Musselwhite and Taj Mahal.

Episode 10: Gimme Back My Wing [info]

Episode ten examines what happened to blues music after the blue-rock era of the 60's and 70's and focuses on artists such as Muddy Waters and Johnny Winters who continued to put out great records.

Extras: interviews with Bobby Rush and Koko Taylor - plus a song "I Cried Like a Baby" from the latter.

Episode 11: Texas Flood [info]

Texas-based blues revival which was caused by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray and similar in the 1980s is discussed.

Extras: interviews with SRV's brother Jimmie Vaughan, Muddy Waters and Sue Foley, plus "One's Too Many" by The Fabulous Thunderbirds.

Episode 12: When Love Comes to Town [info]

The twelfth episode talks about the blues in the late 20th century and takes a better look at the blues legends like B.B. King, Buddy Guy and John Lee Hooker on one side and emerging musicians such as Jonny Lang, Corey Harris, Keb’ Mo’, the North Mississippi Allstars, and Susan Tedeschi on the other side.

Extras: Big Bill Morganfield's "Hoochie Coochie Girl" and interviews with Buddy Guy & Shemekia Copeland.

Episode 13: Future Blues [info]

The series concludes with a discussion about the future of the blues (acid jazz and Moby are discussed among others). Various musicians and experts offer their opinion on the future of the genre and Martin Scorsese is interviewed regarding his film documentary project for PBS: The Blues.

Extras: interviews with Chuk D and Chris Thomas King, plus a song "Shake 'Em On Down" by North Mississippi Allstars.

Also look at other great stuff on the official Year of the Blues web page, such as articles, art gallery, recordings and much more:

Thursday, 23 June 2011

It Might Get Loud (2008)

Full Title: It Might Get Loud
Director: Davis Guggenheim
Year: 2008 (DVD and Blue-ray released in 2009)
Runtime: 98 min
Language: English

Jack White, The Edge and Jimmy Page meet to discuss the electric guitar. The documentary is told through their personal stories and ends with a group jam.

Featured: Jimmy Page (main), The Edge (main), Jack White (main), ..

Watch the trailer:

Jimmy Page plays Whole Lotta Love:

Edge, Jimmy Page, and Jack White play I Will Follow together:

Jack White listens to a Son House record:

Jimmy Page plays the theremin:

The Edge demonstrates some guitar effects:

Jack White makes a guitar:

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Desperate Man Blues (2003)

Full title: Desperate Man Blues: Discovering the Roots of American Music
Director: Edward Gillan
Year: 2003 (DVD released in 2006)
Runtime: 52 min (+ bonus material)
Language: English
Soundtrack: CD, Australia, 2004 [see here]

The documentary portraits Joe Bussard, the self-proclaimed king of record collectors. In his basement is probably the greatest collection of 78 rpm records (mainly from the 20's and 30's) of country, gospel, blues, cajun and early jazz in the world.

Featured: Charlie Patton, Lewis Brothers, Billy Banks and his Orchestra, Lane Hardin, Blind Willie McTell, Clarence Ashley, Son House, Uncle Dave, Macon, Jimmy Rogers, Robert Johnson, Long Cleve Reed and Little Harvey Hull, Papa Harvey Hull and Long "Cleve" Reed

Watch full documentary:

See also Down In The Basement: Joe Bussard's Treasure Trove Of Vintage 78s 1926-1937 [audio CD].

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