Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

The Wrecking Crew

March 3, 2023

2008 documentary on the studio musicians who created some of the best pop and rock music during the 60’s and 70’s. From the Wikipedia page,

Directed by Denny Tedesco, son of guitarist Tommy Tedesco… and left out of the story was an important historical fact: the bands, in some, but not all, cases, did not play the instruments heard on their records. Instead, the task of recording the perfect tempo, pitch, and timbre fell to a small group of accomplished session musicians.

The Wrecking Crew documents the work of studio players who recorded the tracks for such hits as “California Dreamin'”, “These Boots Are Made for Walkin'”, “Be My Baby”, “The Beat Goes On”, and “Good Vibrations”.

Can’t believe I never discovered this gem of a music documentary before 2023. Outstanding look at the geniuses of this group of musicians, many of whom never got any credit for playing on the records. Fascinating. 4 out of 5.


Carol Kaye on bass guitar.

The Wrecking Crew currently streams on Amazon Prime and Hulu.

Jean 9/102

February 19, 2023

My Mom, Jean Gould Mellinger Bahr died nine years ago on February 20, 2023. Her birthday is four days later on February 24th. She would have been 102 this year. Yikes. I still miss her like I knew I would miss her. I don’t cry often anymore, except at least once each Christmas holiday, just like she did missing her Mom. And when I experience something I wish I could share with her, sometimes I think, “damnit, I wish I could talk to you…” and other times I just get teary. She lived a great life. She was a quiet, gentle soul whose role as Matriarch still reverberates within my family today. My eldest niece Nikki mentioned to me last month how much she misses talking and visiting with her grandmother.

The last two movies she loved were eclectic, just like her taste in music. The last film she saw in the theater was Milk which she loved. The last thing she, my sister Nancy, and I watched together was Adele’s first recorded concert at The Royal Albert Hall. Every time I hear Adele’s music, I smile a bit remembering my sweet mother. Miss you Jean. I’m glad you’re not here to see the mess this country’s in. You lived through the depression, WWII, and McCarthyism. I carry your love and kindness as much as I can. I get angry too often, and want to punch more than a few people who are trying to tear down this beautiful country. But in my Jean moments, when I truly am your son, I send them all love, let go of what I can’t change on my own, give where I can, and continue reading my book.

Reel Charlie’s reviews:
Adele: Live at The Royal Albert Hall

Jake Shears: Too Much Music

February 15, 2023

Following in our music theme for the week, Jake Shears, lead singer of the band Scissor Sisters releases the first true dance anthem for 2023, Too Much Music – at least from this out of touch, old queen’s vantage point. When’s the last time I’ve been at a club you might ask? As Mother Mucca would say, “never you mind dolly.” Even at this early elder year, I know a good beat when I hear one. Jake’s released the first single from his Last Man Dancing album due out on June 2, 2023. For the next three plus months, we can enjoy shaking our vacuum cleaning booty to this dazzling song, Too Much Music. And in case your worried and wondering, the four words before the title are “There Can Never Be…” so relax and enjoy. Welcome back Jake. 5 out of 5.

Discover all the ways to follow Jake on his website.

Roberta Flack (American Masters)

February 13, 2023

A really wonderful biographical documentary on Roberta Flack currently runs on PBS’s American Masters. From the site,

New film tells Flack’s story in her own words and includes interviews with Reverend Jesse Jackson, Clint Eastwood, Yoko Ono, Angela Davis, Eugene McDaniels, Joel Dorn, Peabo Bryson and more.

From “The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” to “Killing Me Softly” and beyond, Roberta Flack gave voice to a global soundtrack of beauty and pain, love and anguish, hope and struggle. American Masters: Roberta Flack illuminates where reality, memory and imagination mix to present music icon Roberta Flack, a brilliant artist who transformed popular culture, in her own words. With exclusive access to Flack’s archives of film, performances, interviews, home movies, photos, hit songs and unreleased music, the film documents how Flack’s musical virtuosity was inseparable from her lifelong commitment to civil rights.

Roberta Flack has long been a favorite of mine. Her albums run from 1969 – 2018, just shy of 50 years. I have loved Roberta since her beginnings including Killing Me Softly, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, The Closer I Get to You, Feel Like Makin’ Love, Where Is the Love, You Are My Heaevn, Set The Night To Music, Making Love, and the amazing freaking incredible remix of Uh-Uh Ooh-Ooh Look Out (Here It Comes) (House Of Trix Mix) I danced to very specifically in 1989 Philadelphia the year before I moved to NYC. Flack was diagnosed with ALS in 2022. She will no longer be performing. This film is a must-see. 5 out of 5.

Watch Roberta Flack on American Masters streaming online now.

1971: The Year That Music Changed The World: Ep 4 (Our Time is Now)

January 14, 2023

Apple TV+ series about the effect of music from the year 1971. Interesting premise for a docuseries. I decided to dive right into the women’s and LGBTQ episode. Seriously they could have and should have made an episode just for feminism. That said, they didn’t even talk about the Women’s Music Movement. Olivia Records was created in 1973. They only focused on uber-popular heterosexual artists like Carole King, Joni Mitchell, and Linda Ronstadt. Don’t get me wrong, those three women are crazy talented and created some of the best pop music around. The second half of the hour focuses on “queer” artists Elton John and Lou Reed. Give me a break. Of course everyone knows Elton’s gay. But back in the 70’s, he was playing the game to sell records. Eccentric yes. Openly gay no. And Lou Reed? They focused on his song, Walk on the Wild Side. That wasn’t about him being gay or bi or pan or fluid. It was about other people being queer or trans. There’s no evidence Reed was ever with men or trans people. Attention, Bowie, party of two. Meanwhile Sylvester released an album in 1978 that included his two massive hits, You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real), and Dance (Disco Heat). Not one mention in the episode of the emerging voices of the Women’s Music scene and out artists like Sylvester. I didn’t bother watching any more episodes. This is just a hatchet job of obvious Top 40 hits. Next time do your homework which is as easy as searching Wikipedia, and focus on the hitmakers and the lesser known performers who actually changed the world. 2 out of 5. Next.

1971: The Year That Music Changed The World currently streams on Apple TV+.

Interviews: Zelenskyy, Brunson, and Springsteen

December 19, 2022



Three big interviews aired recently on streaming services. All are worthwhile in their own right.

  1. David Letterman flew to Kiev and interviewed Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a subway platform far below the ground where the war with Russia rages on.
  2. Oprah Winfrey interviewed Quinta Brunson the creator of Abbott Elementary.
  3. Howard Stern interviewed Bruce Springsteen.

For various reasons, all three of these are excellent choices. President Zelenskyy’s interview speaks intimately and urgently. Quinta Brunson’s interview showcases a new generation’s voice. And Bruce Springsteen’s interview covers an entire career.

Zelenskyy’s interview currently streams on Netflix.
Brunson’s interview aired on OWN, and currently streams on HBO Max and Discovery+.
Springsteen’s interview currently streams on HBO Max.

2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony

November 25, 2022

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame had a great year of inductees in 2022. I watched first and foremost for The Eurythmics. Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart continue to be one of my favorite bands of all-time. Annie’s solo career blew me away, in particular her first two albums. Check out my favorite albums page on Reel Charlie featuring The Eurythmics album, Savage, and Annie Lennox’s solo album, Diva.

Other memorable moments during the special included Dolly Parton, Carly Simon, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Allen Grubman.

So thrilleed the definitions of rock are being expanded to include some of my favorite artists. The finale with Dolly, Pat Benetar, Brandi Carlisle, Sheryl Crow, Simon Le Bon, Annie Lennox, Pink, and Rob Halford singing Jolene was crazy good. 4 out of 5 specifically for The Eurythmics and Dolly.

2022 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony currently streams on HBO Max.

The Eurthymics album, Savage (full)

Annie Lennox’s album, Diva (full)

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart

November 3, 2022

Wonderful music documentary, The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart chronicling the career of the brothers Gibb, Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb who together created The Bee Gees. Beginning in 1958 and continuing through the 1980’s, they sold over 120 million records worldwide, making them among the best-selling music artists of all time. The film documents their beginnings, the early hits, the struggles to stay together once fame hit, their pivot to disco with the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack album – the second-biggest-selling soundtrack of all time. From there they moved on to outside projects, break-ups, solo efforts, a comeback, their younger brother Andy’s death, and finally the death of two of the original band members brothers Maurice and Robin, leaving eldest brother Barry to tell the story in the film. The documentary reminded me how much I loved their music in all the different incarnations. 4 out of 5 for this lovely reminder of some of the best of 20th Century pop music.

Reel Charlie favorites include,

I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You 1968
Massachusetts 1968
How Can You Mend a Broken Heart 1971
Nights on Broadway 1975
Too Much Heaven 1979
Night Fever 1977
How Deep is Your Love 1977
and Barry’s duet with Barbra Streisand, Guilty 1980 which I consider one of the best pop songs ever written.

The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart currently streams on HBO Max and Hulu.


Travelin’ Band: Creedence Clearwater Revival at the Royal Albert Hall

October 25, 2022

You’re probably saying to yourself, what’s an old queen like Reel Charlie looking at a Creedence Clearwater Revival documentary? It’s true I was too young to appreciate this music. Actually no, I take that back. My older sisters were only listening to Motown, so I had no invite into rock bands. Although watching this doc in 2022, I wouldn’t call their sound rock. It feels more rockabilly to me after all these years. CCR aficionados will remind me they transcended genre and wrote and performed many styles of music during their time together. I got lured into this after watching something else on Netflix. Ok, it was the new season of The Great British Baking Show which is one of my true loves (go Team Janusz and Team Maxy!). Travelin’ Band: Creedence Clearwater Revival at the Royal Albert Hall turned out to be part music doc, and mostly concert film. I didn’t pay close enough attention to the title to figure that out earlier. The first third is a history of the band, the last two thirds is the concert at Royal Albert Hall in 1970. The guys seemed cleaner than some of the other rockers of that time period. Anyone with an affinity to boy rock bands of the late 60’s (Woodstock era) will surely love this newly uncovered archival footage of their show in London. 3 out of 5.

Travelin’ Band: Creedence Clearwater Revival at the Royal Albert Hall currently steams on Netflix.
Learn more about the concert film and recording.

Neptune Frost

October 19, 2022

I so wanted to adore Neptune Frost, billed as an afrofuturist, science fiction, romantic, musical film. There were some glorious elements to the film. The singing felt indiginous to Rwanda. Make-up and costumes popped seemingly out of nowhere and definitely brought a sci-fi aspect to the film. But the story confused and eventually bored me. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. It felt experimental in places and narrative in others. I wished it had picked a genre. Still I always applaud filmmakers who take risks and look forward to future projects from co-directors Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman. Damn I really wanted to love this one. 2 out of 5.

Neptune Frost currently steams on Kanopy, and is available on disk from your local public library.

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