Cam Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – From The Back Of The Film

Shanghai Aug 2012I was very saddened, but unfortunately not shocked, at the passing of Mindy McCready. I think we all feared this story was going to end this way with, or, with an overdose. Run- ins with the law, drug charges, custody battles and “Celebrity Rehab” formed the perfect equation for disaster.  I always hoped things would work out for her and she would find the happiness she needed and deserved. The Mindy I saw on TV was not the Mindy I remember.

MindyOn the strength of her debut album “Ten Thousand Angels” and her breakout hit “Guys Do It All The Time” Mindy (with Cam) came to Toronto for a promotional visit in the summer of 1996. She was 21 years old, riding high on the country charts, carefree and enjoying life. I recall shopping on Yorkville with her and we went in to a high end shop so she could pick up some new jeans. Being a man I did not realize how expensive high-end woman’s jeans were and I also didn’t realize there was a size as small as zero. Made no sense to me. During interviews she was funny, engaging, innocent and pretty open about her life and recent stardom. It didn’t seem as if she had been coached as to what would be a correct answer in an interview. We had lots of meals together but what she loved more than anything was Toronto street meat. I remember after a very long night of interviews and parties having our limo head down to Union Station at around 2 AM to pick her up a late night hot dog.

Mindy BMG New YorkAbout a year later a group of us from BMG Canada were at a worldwide label convention at the Marriot Marquis in New York City. There were about 500 of us in a ballroom for a lunchtime presentation when I spotted Mindy at a table across the room. She was sitting with her  Nashville crew from BNA Records.  It was the usual chicken or something convention lunch and I thought Mindy might like a little surprise. I snuck out of the room, headed down the elevator and went out to Times Square and picked up a couple of dogs. Our gang then went over to her table to say hello and show her a little Canadian love.

To the best of my recollection that was the last time I ever saw her. Hope you are finally resting Mindy.

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NXNE 2013As I am knee-deep in submissions for the annual NXNE Film Festival (close to 200 so far) I got to thinking what makes a great rock’n’roll film or even, what constitutes a rock’n’roll film? There are scenes in movies that changed the face of rock but the films might not be considered rock’n’roll.  Classic examples would be Bill Haley & The Comets in 1955’s “Blackboard Jungle” or The Yardbirds in 1966’s “Blow Up”.  Is “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” or “Phantom Of The Paradise” considered to be a rock’n’roll film? They both were brilliant and featured actors who had pop hits (Paul Williams, Tim Curry, Meatloaf ) and their original soundtracks were pure rock’n’roll but were they rock’n’roll films? Hard to say.

Here are ten rock’n’roll films well worth checking out.

1.This Is Spinal Tap (1984)

Spinal TapThe best mockumentary ever written about rock. At various points of my career I have been either Bobbi Flekman or Artie Fufkin and I have had to deal with the likes of David St. Hubbins, Nigel Tufnel, Derek Smalls and even Marty DeBergi. Anyone who has worked in the business knows how close to the truth this movie is. Classic. I give it an eleven.

2. Control (2007)

A brilliant black and white recreation of the life of Ian Curtis and life and death of his band Joy Division. Actor Sam Riley is fantastic as Ian Curtis and the story is as much about a relationship as it is the band. Better than the Manchester scene movie “24 Hour Party People” (which is also a worth a look but not as powerful as “Control”). This was the directorial debut for Anton Corbijn.

3. A Hard Day’s Night (1964)

Richard Lester did a great job of bringing The Beatles to life and drew a very fine line between documentary and satire. Filmed at the height of Beatlemania the film still holds up today, and set the stage for the likes of The Monkees. It’s really hard to believe this will be fifty years old next week. For the full documentary treatment of The Beatles you can’t go wrong with the five disc “Anthology” and for the mock The Rutles “All You Need Is Cash” is priceless.

4. Dig! (2004)

I have only seen this documentary once but it absolutely floored me.  Filmed over the course of seven years it follows the bands The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre as they tour across America. It is a study of lead singers Anton Newcombe and Courtney Taylor-Taylor and their love/hate relationship. You really don’t need to know anything about either band to enjoy this doc.

5. La Bamba (1987)

Lou Diamond Phillips nails Ritchie Valens in this biographical flick about the short life of the pop star. Esai Morales is great as his half-brother and look for Marshall Crenshaw portraying Buddy Holly and Stray Cat Brian Setzer as Eddie Cochran. Great music by Los Lobos as well.

6. Almost Famous (2000)

If you ever need a chick-flick rock pick this is it. A fictional tale of an aspiring rock writer touring with a band and writing about it for Rolling Stone. I was a teenage rock writer as well but the only road trip I took was to Buffalo to see Cheap Trick, not quite enough substance for a full length feature. Cameron Crowe fared much better. There are good early career performances from Kate Hudson, Zooey Deschanel, Jay Buruchel, Jimmy Fallon, Rainne Wilson and Phillip Seymour Hoffman does a killer Lester Bangs. Also look for real life Rolling Stone writer Ben Fong-Torres portraying himself.  If nothing else it will make you love “Tiny Dancer” all over again.

7.  The Future Is Unwritten (2007)

Julien Temple completely captures the life of “punk rock warlord” Joe Strummer. Great interview and archival footage of the legendary rocker and really interesting interview footage often shot around a bonfire. As the film progresses the number of participants around the fire (who are never identified) grows. Most drop very big clues to who they are and others are rather obvious.

8. Quadrophenia (1979)

Loosely based on The Who rock opera (currently touring) the film portrays the early sixties English clash between the mods and the rockers. Phil Daniels portrays mod Jimmy Cooper though legend has it that Johnny Rotten auditioned for the part but no company would insure him. The movie has finally been released on DVD. Look for a young Sting as the “ace face”.

9. New York Doll (2005)

The heart breaking story of New York Doll Arthur “Killer” Kane.  After the New York Dolls broke up in the mid-seventies Arthur eventually ended up working for the Church Of The Later-Day Saints in Los Angeles. When David Johansen contacted him for a Morrissey curated reunion show in 2004 Kane was thrilled to once again be a New York Doll. When making this film I don’t think anyone involved would realise how it would turn out.

10.High Fidelity (2000)

Although I prefer the Nick Hornby penned book there was something about John Cusack’s portrayal of Rob Gordon that worked. Of course the best scenes of the movie take place in the hipster record store (Championship Vinyl) with employees Jack Black and Todd Louiso.

This week’s column is dedicated to my soccer pal Sean Mulvenna.Friday’s won’t be the same.

=CC=

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com.

Click on the banners of all of our great sponsors including The Shanghai Cowgirl, Toronto’s hippest rock’n’roll diner at 539 Queen Street West.

DBAWIS ButtonCameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY, New Canadian Music and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

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