Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Mutual Admiration Society: Brian Wilson and Paul McCartney

For years, fans who love the Beatles and The Beach Boys hoped that there would be a concert that featured members of both groups would meet and perform together. There have been shows where Ringo Starr performed a song or two with The Beach Boys. But Paul,  John, and George had not performed with any of The Beach Boys until this September 18, 2002 benefit concert for The Canadian Landmine Society.

The cause of the benefit was to raise funds to continue the locating and neutralizing of mines deployed in several wars in the last century. The mines were left in active conditijon in countries like Laos, Cambodia, and around the Middle East. Thousands of non-combatants have stepped on leftover mines, either killing or serious maiming non-combatants.

At the time of the concert, Paul was married to his second wife, Heather Mills. Ms. Mills is an amputee, and was a prime mover in the mine removal cause. The concert, with Paul McCartney and Brian Wilson as headliners, was held at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles. It was a sellout within hours of tickets going on sale.

There was a promotional paragraph on the brochure publicizing the concert. It whimsically noted that had this concert happened 30 years ago in 1972, it would have been the concert of the century.  It goes on to say that this Night of a Thousand Dinners will be a sellout, and that interested people should move quickly to get their tickets.

The concert itself was never formally released as a cd. The program was split between the two headliners and their excellent bands. Brian Wilson led off with 10 songs from his band. Paul joined him on the final tune, God Only Knows. Paul McCartney, with his excellent band, played the final set, consisting of Paul's work with The Beatles, and his solo career. Brian joined Paul on Let It Be, a personal favorite of Brian's. Both men played favorite songs from their careers with
The Beach Boys and The Beatles.

For his portion of the show, Brian played a fascinating mix of Beach Boys tunes dating from 1963 to 1973. Some of Brian's selections were most interesting. Rarely heard songs were You're Welcome, a medley of Cabinessence and Wonderful from Smile, and Sail on Sailor. Also performef were Good Vibrations, Heroes and Villains, Dance Dance Dance, Surfer Girl, I Get Around, Surun' USA,  Barbara Ann, and. as a finale, God Only Knowswith Paul.

Paul's set began with Coming Up, Band on the Run, and I Saw Her Standing There. Blackbird followed, then We Can Work It Out, Michelle, and Your Loving Frame. Then came Let It Be with Brian, and a rousing Hey Jude.

The majority of the audience was composed of Baby Boomers. That said, many other age groups were in the audience. The recording I heard was an audience recording. It was probably hidden under someone's coat or something similar. Because the evening was so unique, the resulting recording is quite a piece of rock music history.

I hope that Paul and Brian release it officially.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Iconic Photography of Guy Webster

Books I Have Enjoyed This Spring-Part 1 (April-May 2017)

Big Shots- Harvey and Kenneth Kubernik -Authors

Guy Webster - Photography

Cover of Big Shots

Many of us who are followers of Rock and Jazz Music have seen names that constantly come up in photo credits with iconic images that stopped, for a brief moment the time continuum, freezing the image of a musician, actor, and place that stirs our imagination, and makes us wish we had been there watching. Guy Webster and the Kuberniks have assembled incredible photos from the mid to late 20th Century that remind us as Boomers we were young then. But, this book is more than just another nostalgic "remember when" type of book. The Boomers grew up in an era that became notorious for creativity. experiments in intimate relationships, self-indulgence, rebellious attitudes, and perhaps the beginning of the large scale experimentation with various drugs. Although some of theme chemicals had been around for years, the sheer volume and the variety of ingestion of chemicals the boomers dwarfed previous generations. The Sixties, in particular were the inventive time of internal search and external expression of  the subcultures around North America and Europe. Such activities included use of peyote and LSD for vision searches, the birth of the Rock Festival, the beginning of "hemp farming" on a large scale, pursuit of new social experiments, such as communes, co-ops, open marriages, meditation, and so forth.

To make a potentially long story short, Guy Webster was the perfect person at the perfect place (California), at a time when popular music reach unprecedented popularity. Based in Los Angeles, Mr. Webster is well-known for his ability to capture the right image at the right time without disturbing or offending the celebrities he photographed. In the forward by Brian Wilson, Brian states about Guy "Guy was never a distraction (in the studio).  He was able to get great photos of us (The Beach Boys) because he had a lot of experience." If you have music from the Sixties in your music collection, you probably have several Guy Webster photos without realizing it. As a photographer, Mr. Webster was equally capable of shooting black and white or color photographs. In addition, he could shoot in his own studio or outdoors. 

If you have any Mamas and Papas, Turtles,  Byrds, Rolling Stones, Chicago, Captain Beefheart, Doors, Taj Mahal, or Monkees albums, you probably have a Guy Webster photo without realizing it. As an example The High Tides and Green Grass lp by the Stones has a Webster shot on the front cover. Ditto with The Mamas and Papa's first and second albums, and The Doors first album. The Beach Boys photos Webster shot were in the period when Smile was being recorded. Brian on the motorcycle, The Boys at Arrowhead Lake, Brian wearing his Indigenous Beaded Talisman while sitting at the studio piano teaching vocal parts to The Beach Boys.

The shots taken by Mr. Webster of motion picture actors of the Sixties are also well known. He had sessions with Jack Nicholson, The Star Trek pair of Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner, James Coburn, Dennis Hopper, and many more. To place things in some perspective, Mr. Webster photographed the talent of the music and film worlds, and artists in both fields asked for him to be the person who they wanted to take the critical shots that traveled in the world media at a time when magazines were places to watch for new talent.

So, The book is coffee table size (11" by 14"). There is a great black and white photograph of Jack Nicholson on the front cover, and a circa 1966 black and white picture of Mick Jagger on the back cover. As books of photography go, the writing by the Kuberniks helps place the various photos in context, and the book is filled with color photos you will likely enjoy. The price of the book is quite reasonable at $15 to $20 through  Fine art is a joy any person should experience.

Text Copyright 2017 by Peter Reum - All Rights Reserved
Book Front Cover photo courtesy of 

Saturday, May 6, 2017

One Person's Adoption: Gains and Losses by Peter Reum

My life seemed accidental
A son my birth parents rejected
Caesared at 32 weeks-unwelcome
Death stalks, My lungs infected

A trip to Juarez was her plan
Down there Roe vs. Wade didn't matter
My cousin the nurse offered to help
Place me with a mother-- a safe ladder

Welcomed to a couple nearing forty
Health being monitored by Dr. Yorty
The couple who stepped forward
Had the paperwork done to take me
The woman who bore me never
Looked back on this matter

By age three I was told the truth
I was special they said- a chosen youth
The neighborhood kids when we played
Told me they couldn't see it that way
The couple that raised me tried to help
Me see the situation that day

The younger years were very busy
Digging ditches, bailing hay-very dizzy
My cousin was a second mother
Her oldest son was a distant brother

Time passed quickly, questions grew
The couple, my parents, they worried
My anger at my chromosomal pair
Grew larger and darker-they didn't care
They were absent always, a black hole
Growing slowly into my naive despair

Things got better when I changed schools
Busily content--I followed the rules
There was a gaping hole not filled
I overachieved to stymie my will

At eighteen my family saw me as a man
They gave me all the adoption papers
A few questions were answered
The papers frustrated, only a glance

Searching for them didn't pan out
Despite my efforts, the hole remained
My family through adoption I adored
Worse to know a little, my soul gored

In towns where I traveled
I looked to see if they were listed
Once in awhile my mind unraveled
My heritage and history were twisted

As I talked with adopted peers
It seemed that their souls were in pain
The states said their history was sealed
Their years searching, like mine, in vain

Sometimes, late at night, I really wish
I could stop trying to speak to them
My mind knows they aren't there
My hope is somewhere that they care

Some questions over time grow heavy
A burden open adoptions don't share
I wrestle time's river standing there
Afraid life will end, perched on a levee

If someone you know has this issue
Whose tears shine and glisten
Please do not hand them a tissue
Just sit with them quietly and listen

Copyright 2017 by Peter Reum
All Rights Reserved