Sunday, January 8, 2017

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2016


The Great, The Good, and The Interesting!

The Handmaiden



Shortcut links:
BEST MOVIES: 2016
BEST DOCUMENTARIES: 2016
BEST TV: 2016




"And...Action!"


B E S T
M O V I E S :
2 0 1 6




T H I N K



-THE HANDMAIDEN (South Korea)
✭✭✭✭✭
To what lengths will you go to escape constriction?
Director Park Chan-wook (SNOWPIERCER) transplants a victorian novel into Korea's occupation by Japan, crafting a chameleonic mystery from shifting perspectives. The film is gorgeous to watch, a pleasure to puzzle out, and faceted to rewatch.



-THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN
Hitchcock's themes of intrigue, identity, and perception get a refreshing makeover in this sharp and twisty film, led by the always impressive Emily Blunt.

-HELL OR HIGH WATER
A neo-western full of character and complexity, quietly charting the desperation of navigating a heartland betrayed by political greed.


-MOONLIGHT
Three stages of life for a boy seeking (hiding) his identity among the minefields of southern gang territories.
Naomie Harris steals it as the disintegrating mother.


-EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT/ El abrazo de la serpiente (Spain)
An alternate parallel to Conrad's "Heart Of Darkness" (and APOCALYPSE NOW), this B/W film follows two timelines down the Amazon on a surreal quest for enlightenment.

-HIDDEN FIGURES
Based on Margot Lee Shetterly's book, this true story unveils the neglected story of the three African-American female mathematicians who put NASA on course for the moon.

-VICTORIA (Germany)
Shot in one single continuous take, this film follows a young woman through the labyrinth of Berlin in an arc toward chaos.


-THE BIRTH OF A NATION
Down with all bigotry and repression, always.
A grand take on the life of Nat Turner, who rose up against slavery, this ever timely rebuke stars its co-writer/director, Nate Parker.




S M I L E



-GHOSTBUSTERS
I'm a fan of the original film since it came out.
This clever and reverent retelling does everything well that one did, while being often loopier, refreshingly less fratboy, and downright poignant at the end.


-MAGGIE'S PLAN
An indie character comedy more than it is an alternative rom-com, with improv zing, hilarious lines, and a crack cast.
Julianne Moore quietly swipes the second half from the leads.

-TONI ERDMANN (Germany)
Rebecca Miller's exploration of an estranged father and daughter is a gently swelling rollercoaster, by turns insanely long and rambling while sentimental, ambivalent, mischievous, and at times wildly absurd. And all the more real for it.

-FLORENCE FOSTER JENKINS
Jenkins was a sincere and unintentionally ludicrous person, and in this biopic Meryl Streep transforms a fun romp into something more fragile and sweet at its heart.




D R E A M


-ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story
✭✭✭✭✭
This prequel film's unexpected realism brings a new depth and intensity that, as a hardcore fan from the very beginning, overwhelmed me emotionally.
Rebel.



-ARRIVAL
This moody contemplation on the value of tolerance and communication is required viewing right now.

-MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
A familiar story made new again with mystery and surprises, sold by empathy and intelligence.



-STAR TREK BEYOND
✭✭✭✭✭

Here's why this fine film is severely underrated.

When the original Star Trek series ended too soon after three seasons in spring 1969, fans longed for an expansion of the five year mission. In the early '70s, as syndicated reruns unified its faithful base, the fans took control: they wrote original books for Bantam, drafted blueprints, charted out Federation histories, and created the first massive Trek conventions along with costume competitions. At the heart of this was one unifying goal: to finish the mission, but - in the wake of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and the Dune books- with a more expansive scope and a deeper ensemble character approach.

This popular groundswell led to the Animated Series (1973-1974), which did just that: the series is valuable because it expande the visual palette and scope, while deepening details about the characters (Spock's past; the name Tiberius), and Alan Dean Foster's book adaptions amplified those even further. Fandom had defined the pattern going forward; there would now follow a cycle of new Star Treks expanding the mythos with a more ensemble approach.

Look at how that underlying thread governs what followed. The STAR TREK films (1979-1991) reunited the original crew in adventures with scope (STAR TREK 1) and ensemble depth (STAR TREK III and IV). And new TV shows continued weaving this pattern, expanding the general mythos with new casts: Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), Deep Space Nine (1993), Voyager (1995), and the shamefully-underappreciated prequel Enterprise (2001).

These are all valuable on their own merits, but they are actually alternate surrogates for the original goal without specifically being that goal: finishing the original mission with the original crew in deeper, wider dimensions. This is because of the passage of time. The first films start a decade after the show, and the original cast had matured while new tech and fashion styles transformed their world; they are the same, but it feels like being somewhere else. Once you change casts for the new shows, that subliminal gulf grows larger. The quiet truth, often unspoken, is that we watch and enjoy all these for themselves, while underneath wishing that we were seeing the 1969 and 1970 seasons that never came.


(Now, with the means of production more readily at hand, many fan-made productions have actually attempted to do just that, but without official sanction.)

It took J.J. Abrams' recent reboot films to bring this cycle officially full-circle. Now we have the original setting and a reset for new possibilities in the original mission. Audiences were won over by the sheer energy of the first film (2009), but some were woefully less appreciative of the better, focused sequel (2013). And with STAR WARS ascendent on a golden return, this third film didn't get enough play from any side. That's a mistake, from the film execs who bungled the marketing during Trek's 50th anniversary, to the blasé mehs who came too late without enough total context for appreciation.

Writer/actor Simon Pegg has done what we've waited four decades for. Sure, it's rollicking fun and there are familiar themes and clever easter eggs celebrating the entire history of the franchise. But the real triumph of the film is that a fan has become a pro who fulfilled the initial dream: this is the original characters in their period styles, on the original mission, but in expansive scope, as a truly interactive ensemble. That exact combination hasn't really happened before in live action, and it's what we've all waited for since 1969. It's easy to miss that distinction, after decades of so many versions, but it is the crucial difference. The first reboot film may've set the universe, the second set the ship, but the third film gives us the fuller possibilities of the original team on the actual original mission itself. Instead of another Kirk/Spock film with the cast careening around their orbit, this time the bridge crew become a family when everything else is gone but their mission and their connection. Seeing Kirk on a planet again with Checkov, or Spock and McCoy bonding in a cave, isn't just a flashback, it's releasing the pause button on the original series to at last flash forward with untapped possibilities. This isn't nostalgia... it's new life.

Thank you, Simon, from someone who came the whole way. You've boldly gone where all of us really wanted to go.




N I G H T M A R E



-THE WITCH
This film is completely riveting simply as one of the finest character dramas of the year.


-10 CLOVERFIELD LANE
Like The Twilight Zone, producer J.J. Abrams uses the name 'Cloverfield' as an anthology for trying edgy ideas.
This is another solid character drama built on tension and paranoia, with askew turns.

-I AM THE PRETTY THING THAT LIVES IN THE HOUSE
Like a Shirley Jackson story in spirit (and title), this well-crafted quiet burn builds on the spartan shots and tense score of the Perkins brothers.




G R A P H I C
I M A G E S



-DOCTOR STRANGE
> Four Color Films review
Even amid the most astounding visuals and wildest concepts, the film stays consistently grounded with character interplay and gentle humor, always staying clear while flowing fast.
This excellently made film is one of Marvel's best, accessible to all while being everything that a fan could have hoped for.


-CAPTAIN AMERICA 3: CIVIL WAR
> Four Color Films review
The Cap films excel on character build grounded in espionage action.
Even amid a maelstrom of guests, Cap's ethical center holds this marvelous film taut and true.



Underrated, Dept.:
-X-MEN 6: APOCALYPSE
> Four Color Films review
The previous film X5 was pure greatness, so this generally good film with minor flaws got unfairly thrashed.
It's still a good film regardless, unlike certain other truly terrible hero films this year that thoroughly deserve that scorn instead.


See Also:
> Four Color Films,
THE Comic Movies Review Site!




A R T F L I X


-KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS
A spellbindingly beautiful film from Laika (CORALINE), this hand-animated period Japanese parable is a complete charmer.


-FINDING DORY
The flashbacks of adorable baby Dory lift this Pixar frantic antic to full crest.

-MISS HOKUSAI (Japan)
Beautiful to see, while strangely uneven in story and score.

-ZOOTOPIA
This could have been one of those CG clatter films that get fobbed off on family audiences, but it instead proves to be a smart and timely allegory about diversity and acceptance.


-APRIL AND THE EXTRAORDINARY WORLD ⇧(France)
Deftly capturing Jacques Tardi's art style ("The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec"), this sly and quicksilver steampunk opus is -like Tardi- cheeky, inventive, and a bit bent.


TV:
-STAR WARS: REBELS
The Star Wars: Clone Wars animated series had all the strengths and weaknesses of the prequel films, expanded.
But Rebels has all the strengths of the original 1977 film in style, tone, and wonderful McQuarrie art aesthetic.
This is the show you've been looking for.







B E S T
D O C U M E N T A R I E S :
2 0 1 6



-THE BEATLES: Eight Days A Week
Ron Howard's loving documentary follows the greatest band of all time performing live, from their early tours to their final 1966 bow-out.


-MISS SHARON JONES!
A fine celebration of Soul renaissance leader Sharon Jones in concert with her band, the Dap-Kings.
Rest In Power.

-SOUNDBREAKING
PBS' terrific mini-series about how pop music has been consistently revolutionized by studio wizardry.


-HIP HOP EVOLUTION ⇧(mini-series)
A fine overview and primer to the history of Hip Hop, from its fledgling 1973 beginnings to the worldwide industry it has become. Groundbreaking music, guests galore, and laughs and insights.
(See also: The Get Down TV series)



-13TH
From Ava DuVernay (SELMA) comes this blistering indictment of the prison system as the extension of slavery.

-ELSTREE 1976
A fun and interesting doc following the experiences of the supporting players and extras from the original STAR WARS.

-FOR THE LOVE OF SPOCK
A touching rumination on the impact of Leonard Nimoy and his universal counterpart.






B E S T
T V :
2 0 1 6



(The season number follows each title.)





D R A M A



-RECTIFY ⇧ 4
✭✭✭✭✭
The best character show on television comes to a graceful finale.

-BETTER CALL SAUL 2
✭✭✭✭✭
The other best character show on television grows deeper with the stealth ascent of Kim.

-MR. ROBOT 2
Morphing past its influences (V FOR VENDETTA, AMERICAN PSYCHO, FIGHT CLUB), the cinema-level series comes into its own as a harrowing and brutally honest psychological thriller and political wake-up call.

-MASTERS OF SEX 4


-ROOTS
Alex Haley's pivotal classic about his family history gets adapted again into a new mini-series.




W O N D E R



-WESTWORLD ⇧ 1
All the rich potential of Michael Crichton's original 1973 film comes to full fruition in this masterful and complex epic.


-THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE 2
Based on Phillp K. Dick's book, this alternate history warns us against an America taken over by Fascism.
But, in the real world, ... it's too late.

-12 MONKEYS 2
A time-travel show that turns itself inside out like silly putty should have fallen apart by now, and yet it streams along stronger than ever.

-GAME OF THRONES 6
The tipping point becomes drastic and deadly unilaterally. Everything is landsliding toward the epilogue.

-COLONY 1
Few alien-invasion shows have ever held me, but this one does with character, action, and jolts.

-INCORPORATED 1
This parable about a future Corporate dystopia is exactly about right now.
Resist.


-3% ⇧ (Brazil) 1 >Netflix
Potentially the new LOST, with a rich scenario and moving character flashbacks, set in a dystopia where the poor compete to be the 3% allowed to a promised paradise.


-THE OA ⇧ 1 >Netflix
Brit Marling (ANOTHER EARTH) returns to co-write/co-produce/star in this outrageously ambitious mindbender.
Brit is another SciFi fan turned pro producing thoughtful and adventurous work who deserves our support.


Good:
-THE EXPANSE 1
High marks for the plot and scope, but lukewarm results with the characters.




H O R R O R



-STRANGER THINGS ⇧ 1 >Netflix
The delightful suprise of the year, this homage to early '80s Lucas/Spielberg/Carpenter films is a timeless blast.


-THE X-FILES 10
A mini-series reunion, with six episodes in each of the series' narrative styles.
(After all this time, I finally realized I mainly love the funny ones.)

-THE MAGICIANS 1
It's a coin toss. The plot intricacy and breadth is impressive, but the obnoxious cast and cruel shocks are abrasive.




U K



-OUTLANDER ⇧ 2
One of the finest shows being made only gets grander and deeper in its lateral move to France.
No mere time travel story or romance novel, this intensely nuanced character play is energized by the most fully realized and believable love story on the screen.


-HUMANS 2
A terrific remake of the great Swedish Äkta människor/ Real Humans that only improves it.

-ORPHAN BLACK (Canada/BBC) 4
Tatiana Maslaney. Nuff said.

-BLACK MIRROR 3 >Netflix
The chilling anthology show forecasting the unintended repercussions of current tech returns.


-DOCTOR WHO (Christmas Special)
A loving homage to comic superheroes (particularly Supes and Bats), surprisingly canny within thrifty time, with a charming standout performance by the 'lois', Lucy (Charity Wakefield).




-CLASS ⇧ 1
This loose Doctor Who spin-off could have been a formula CW-style teen scarefest, but great lines, rending moments, and the mesmerizingly arch charm of the alien Quill (Katherine Kelly) lift it above.

-CRAZYHEAD ⇧ 1 >Netflix
From the typically bonkers and sacrilegious creator of Misfits comes the hilarious saga of two London women kicking some demon ass.




H E R O E S




-DAREDEVIL ⇧ 2 >Netflix
The past was prelude, and the red devil rises in this impeccable adaptation of the arrival of Elektra.
We've waited three decades for this to be done right, and -with the pitch-perfect casting of Élodie Yung- they nail it.

-LUKE CAGE 1 >Netflix
Reeling from the events of Jessica Jones 1, our man does his soul-searching in Harlem.
A celebratory ode to African American history with themes and shout-outs galore, fueled by a letter-perfect funksploitation soundtrack by Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad.



-AGENT CARTER 2
Hayley Atwell does one last series turn as '40s superspy Peggy Carter, the mother of S.H.I.E.L.D.

-AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. 4
The show turns edgier and more surreal, charting out the supranatural aspects of the Marvel universe, with a fiery debut by the new Ghost Rider.

-SLINGSHOT 4
This Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. webseries spin-off focuses on Yo-Yo Rodriguez, the Columbian dervish who'll snap your head back.


The pleasure of the DC/Berlanti-verse shows is seeing the Silver Age Of Comics come to life. As a desperately needed antidote to the dour Snyder-verse films, any formula loops, teenie focus, or dumb missteps involved are forgiven in the fun of it all.:
-SUPERGIRL 2
Martian Manhunter. Miss Martian. Lynda Carter!
-THE FLASH 3
Kid Flash. Earth 3.
-ARROW 5
Mr. Terrific. Ragman.
-LEGENDS OF TOMORROW 2
The Justice Society of America. The Legion Of Doom. Vixen.


See Also:
> Four Color Films,
THE Comic Movies Review Site!




D E T E C T I V E S




-ELEMENTARY ⇧ 5
The fun of this stealth alternate to Sherlock is its gleefully serpentine mysteries, dry social satire, and the impish chemistry of Holmes and Joan Watson.

-SHERLOCK ⇧ (Christmas Special)
A standalone set in the classic Victorian era, this feminist manifesto strikes a timeless blow against repression.


-HAPPY VALLEY (UK) 2 >Netflix

-THE FALL (UK) 3 >Netflix
The trilogy of Gillian Anderson's relentless hunt for a serial killer reaches its finale.

-RIPPER STREET (UK) 4, 5
Against all odds, the unsung White Chapel coppers get two more seasons of grit, wit, and writs.




C O M E D Y



-THE GET DOWN ⇧ 1
Baz Luhrmann's stunningly operatic fantasy about the rise of Hip Hop in the 1977 South Bronx is an absolute Must-See.


-BROAD CITY 3
The crazed Ilana Glazer and Abbi Jacobson kick all the butt.



-CHEWING GUM ⇧ (UK) 1
Michaela Coel unreels her lunatic farces like she's determined to burn it all down cackling.

-ATLANTA ⇧ 1
Besides being sharply hilarious, Donald Glover's acerbic slant on the southern Rap scene is often incisive and moving.


-PEOPLE OF EARTH ⇧ 1
This show is so funny that you'll miss half of the great lines from laughing over them.


-ASH vs. EVIL DEAD 2
Lee Majors! As if Bruce Campbell and Lucy Lawless weren't great enough.





THINGS TO CATCH UP ON, Dept.



Hey, who has time (or money) to see everything?

LOVING
JACKIE
FENCES
MILES AHEAD
FREE STATE OF JONES

CAFE SOCIETY
THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
PATERSON
THE LOBSTER

SYNCRONICITY

BLAIR WITCH
HIGH-RISE

THE JUNGLE BOOK
MOANA


© Tym Stevens



See also:

Four Color Films, THE Comic Movies Review Site!


BEST MUSIC: 2016

BEST MUSIC: 2015
BEST MOVIES & TV: 2015

BEST MUSIC: 2014
BEST MOVIES & TV: 2014

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2013
BEST MUSIC: 2013

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2012
BEST MUSIC: 2012
BEST COMICS: 2012

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011
BEST MUSIC: 2011
BEST COMICS: 2011

BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
BEST COMICS: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010



How STAR WARS Is Changing Everything!


"Cut!



Sunday, January 1, 2017

BEST MUSIC: 2016, with Music Players!


Savages
(photo by Colin Lane)






Nevermind those suburban-angst
"Best Music" lists that taste like paste!

These tunes will unhook your outlook
and hijack your sacroiliac!


Shortcut to Music Players:
BEST ALBUMS: 2016
COOL SONGS: 2016
BEST REISSUES: 2016






B E S T
N E W
A L B U M S : 2 0 1 6

This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.
BEST ALBUMS 2016



This music player has songs from the following albums, in the same order.




-Hannah Williams And The Affirmations, "Late Nights And Heartbreak"

-The Claypool Lennon Delirium, "Monolith Of Phobos"

-Stereo Total, "Les Hormones"

-Electrocute, "Double Diamond"




-Charles Bradley, "Changes"

-Sonny & The Sunsets, "Moods Baby Moods"

-Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, "Miss Sharon Jones!" (soundtrack)

-L7, "Wireless (Radio Session)"




-Bacao Rhythm And Steel Band, "55"

-The Monkees, "Good Times!"

-The Coathangers, "Nosebleed Weekend"

-Heron Oblivion, "Heron Oblivion"




-Ramin Djawadi, "Westworld: Season 1" (Soundtrack)

-David Bowie, "Blackstar"

-Iggy Pop, "Post Pop Depression"

-Weyes Blood, "Front Row Seat To Earth"




-Lee Fields And The Expressions, "Special Night"

-White Denim, "Stiff"

-PJ Harvey, "The Hope Six Demolition Project"

-Ultimate Painting, "Dusk"




-Pixies, "Head Carrier"

-Lake Street Drive, "Side Pony"

-Deerhoof, "The Magic"

-Childish Gambino, "Awaken, My Love!"




-Angel Olsen, "My Woman"

-Savages, "Adore Life"

-The Jayhawks, "Paging Mr. Proust"

-Thao And The Get Down Stay Down, "A Man Alive"




-William Bell, "This Is Where I Live"

-Pretenders, "Alone"

-Fantastic Negrito, "The Last Days Of Oakland"

-Kate Tempest, "Let Them Eat Chaos"




-La Femme, "Mystere"

-Esperanza Spalding, "Emily's D+Evolution"

-The Mystery Lights, "The Mystery Lights"

-Marta Ren And The Groovelvets, "Stop Look Listen"




-The Julie Ruin, "Hit Reset"

-Adrian Younge & Ali Rasheed Muhammad, "Luke Cage: Season 1" (Soundtrack)

-The Shelters, "The Shelters"

-The Kills, "Ash & Ice"




-Guerilla Toss, "Eraser Stargazer"

-Death Valley Girls, "Glow In The Dark"

-Xiu Xiu, "Plays The Music Of TWIN PEAKS"

-Barrence Witfield And The Savages, "On Audiotree Live"







C O O L
S O N G S :
2 0 1 6



Rockabilly! Funk! Psychedelic!
Soul! Spaghetti Western! PostPunk!
Electro! Riot Grrrl! Dementia!

This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.
COOL SONGS 2016




Cody Chesnutt; Pussy Riot;
Kate Tempest; Thao And The Get Down Stay Down


11 hours of mind-whomping, booty-stomping music, featuring:

Bleached, Goat, Le Tigre, Baaba Maal, Radiohead, Calibro 35, Afro-Haitian Experimental Orchestra, Melvins, Black Moth Super Rainbow, Santigold, The New Mastersounds, Neil Young, Lush, Deep Street Soul, and The Real Gone Tones!






B E S T
R E I S S U E S :
2 0 1 6





Quality is timeless.


This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.
BEST REISSUES 2016




This music player has songs from the following albums, in the same order.



1960s

-The Beatles, "Live At The Hollywood Bowl" (1964-'65)

-Various Artists, "Pebbles, Vol. 4: Africa, Part 2" (African garage rock)

-Dan Penn, "Close To Me: More Fame Recordings"

-Bob Dylan, "The Real Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert"

-The Beach Boys, "Pet Sounds: The 50th Anniversary Edition"

-Otis Redding, "Live At The Whiskey A Go Go"

-Pink Floyd, "The Early Years: 1967-1972, Cre/ation"

-Betty Harris, "The Lost Queen Of New Orleans Soul" (late '60s compilation)

-Betty Davis, "The Columbia Years, 1968-1969"

-Led Zeppelin, "The Complete BBC Sessions" (1969-'71)




1970s

-Bruce Haack, "The Electric Lucifer" (electronic psyche)

-Yoko Ono, "Plastic Ono Band" (1970)

-Black Sabbath, "Black Sabbath", "Paranoid", "Master Of Reality" (expanded editions)

-Arthur Verocai, "Arthur Verocai" (1972 Brazilian psyche-jazz)

-David Bowie, "Bowie At The Beeb" (early '70s BBC sessions)

-Various Artists, "Venezuela 70: Cosmic Visoins Of A Latin American Earth" ('70s Venezuelan experimental rock)

-Various Artists, "Wake Up You!: The Rise And Fall Of Nigerian Rock, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (1972-1977)"

-Devo, "Hardcore" (mid-'70s art-punk)

-The Headhunters, "Survival Of The Fittest" (1975)

-David Bowie, "Who Can I Be Now? (1974-1976)" (mid'70s remasters and unreleased)

-Various Artists, "Space Oddities: Studio Ganaro (1972-1982)" (French/German electronic pop)

-Various Artists, "Cosmic Machine: The Sequel - A Voyage Across French Cosmic & Electronic Avantgarde ('70s-'80s)" (French electronic music)



1980s

-Various Artists, "Boombox: Early Independent Hip Hop, Electro, And Disco Rap (1979-1982)"

-Lizzy Mercier Descloux, "Mambo Nassau" (1981 World Funk)

-Tom Tom Club, "Tom Tom Club" (1981)

-African Head Charge, "My Life In A Hole In The Ground" (1981)




1990s

-Jeff Buckley, "You And I" (unreleased cover versions)

-Gillian Welch, "Boots No.1: The Official Revival Bootleg" (1996, expansion)

-L7, "Slap Happy" (1999)




2000s

-Connie Price And The Keystones, "Wildflowers" (2004)

-Angry Angles, "Angry Angles" (2005)

-Barrence Whitfield And The Savages, "Savage Kings" (2011)



© Tym Stevens






"A splendid time is guaranteed for all!"






See also:


BEST MOVIES & TV: 2016

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2015
BEST MUSIC: 2015

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2014
BEST MUSIC: 2014

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2013
BEST MUSIC: 2013

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2012
BEST COMICS: 2012
BEST MUSIC: 2012

BEST MOVIES & TV: 2011
BEST COMICS: 2011
BEST MUSIC: 2011

BEST MOVIES: 2000-2010
BEST COMICS: 2000-2010
BEST MUSIC: 2000-2010




Tuesday, June 28, 2016

WOMEN OF ROCK: The 1960s


...with 2 World-Spanning Music Players!
(Part 2 of 7 decades)


Grace Slick and Janis Joplin,
by Jim Marshall.

RockSex
now brings you the actual, all-inclusive history of Rock'n'Soul music, with Music Players.

Music Player Checklist

_____

This 7-part series with Music Players will cover
every decade of the Women Of Rock,
from the 1950s to today!

Learn the real and inclusive history
you've never heard!

'50s---'70s---'80s---'90s---'00s---'10s


Shortcut to Music Players:
Women Of Rock: 1960-'66
Women Of Rock: 1967-'69

_____


W O M E N
O F
R O C K:

1960-'66

The Luv'd Ones


Spotify playlist title=
Women Of Rock: 1960-'66
This is a Spotify player. Join up for free here.

*(This Player is limited to the first 200 songs.
Hear the unlimited Playlist here.)


This Music Player covers women in all forms of Rock'n'Roll music, from 1960 through 1966, in chronological order.

Rockabilly! Soul! Surf!
Girl Group! Beat! Garage!
Folk! Blues! Country!
Ye-Ye! Shake! World!

_____



Rock'n'Roll has always been shaped by everybody. So why do we even have to specify 'Women In Rock'?

Because presence defeats absence. You have to see something to know that it's there. When someone is kept out of sight, it's that much more crucial to shine the spotlight on them at every turn, until everyone finally recognizes who was there all along.

Women have been a part of every musical movement, but for decades the cartoon history of Rock has been told as select men and modes turning over. This simplistic outlook and biased exclusion is what demands the move toward fairer inclusion. It's long past time to see clearer and deeper. In truth, Rock'n'Roll is a fluid ocean, rotating noted waves on the surface but driven by less visable and complex currents beneath. The people excluded from the narrative have ridden every wave noticed on the surface as much as those select men, while helping shape all the much subtler currents powering them.

Inclusion comes when exclusion ends. These Music Players, and the insights into them which follow, spotlight the vast range of global women who shaped Rock in the 1960s and ushers them gratefully into the room.

The Chantels

The original Rock'n'Roll didn't end in the early '60s just because a handful of male heroes fell out,> and didn't return magically in 1964 from English guys. It actually kept rolling right on into the new decade uninterrupted with fresh tides. What's most important to remember about Soul, Girl Group, Doo Wop, and Surf is that they were all seen collectively as forms of young Pop, all heard as Rock'n'Roll, because they were.

Repression is static, progression is dynamic. AM radio was a stealth revolution, a forum for all music forms where any record won if it had 'a good beat and was easy to dance to'. Stealthily, those dance moves were swaying into a diverse movement, a jet-age generation sharing new outlooks and expressions beyond the stolid and the segregated. Where adults outside of it just noted fads and idols, the youth were swimming in rich new possibilities that would drive the decade.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe,
Wanda Jackson; LaVern Baker.

Rock is polyglot; it morphed from many sources and kept on mutating exponentially.> In the early '60s, women from the original wave of Rock'n'Roll> kept cresting boldly forward, like Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Wanda Jackson, Janis Martin, and LaVern Baker. Even as Elvis, Jerry Lee, Buddy, Richard,, and Chuck were sidelined, their fire was clearly relayed in songs like the all-female band The Chantels' "Well, I Told You", The Charmaines' "Rockin' Old Man", and The Crystals' "All Grown Up".

The Shirelles; The Ronettes; The Shangri-Las.

If it seems odd that those famous Girl Groups were belting Rock'n'Roll, it proves the true point; Girl Group is another catchall limitation placed on women who were beyond its doll-toy boundaries. The Shirelles, The Cookies, and The Ronettes sang a range of melodies, and their streamlined pop and production punch molded the British Invasion. As did the soulful pop of Motown with the sass and class of The Marvelettes, Mary Wells, Martha And The Vandellas, Debbie Dean, The Supremes, and Chris Clark. Keeping it streets, The Shangri-Las, The Goodies, and The Whyte Boots covertly turned goodgirl and badgirl polarities inside out with their biker songs and dramatic confessionals.

Behind the curtain lay the songwriting wizardry of Ellie Greenwich, Cynthia Weil, and Carole King at the Brill Building, and Sylvia Moy, Janie Bradford, Syreeta Wright, and Valerie Simpson at Motown.

Soul is human experience writ passionate, and mature scribes like Etta James, Aretha Franklin, Fontella Bass, Timi Yuro, and Carla Thomas reinterpreted how to be a modern song interpreter outside of lounges and cabarets, setting the new standard to follow. The rollicking Ike And Tina Turner Revue also gave us bold soul sisters like The Ikettes ["I'm Blue (The Gong Song)"], The Mirettes, and P.P. Arnold. The James Brown Show would bestow us with hard-workin' women like Yvonne Fair, Sugar Pie DeSanto, and Tammy Montgomery (Tammi Terrell).

Chiyo Ishi And The Crescents;
Carol Kaye; Darlene Love.

Surf> rose past its initial wave in the sun to continue undulating for decades. Riding with it from the start were women like Kay Bell And The Tuffs' "(The Original) Surfer Stomp" (1961), Kathy Lynn And The Playboys' "Rock City", and guitarist Chiyo Ishi on The Crescents' "Pink Dominos". The great Carol Kaye played bass on all The Beach Boys and The Honeys productions. Twining some soul twist into the beach cookout were Dee Dee Sharpe, The Supremes, and The Orlons, while Darlene Love and The Blossoms sang Surf hits for Hal Blaine, Al Casey, and Duane Eddy.

“Protest against the rising tide of conformity.”
Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, 1963.

Folk was the rallying call for the young, compassionate, and aware. It harbingered a back-to-the-roots outlook that embraced rural roots musics like Gospel, Blues, and Country, and vitalized populist acts like Miram Makeba (South Africa), The Staple Singers (with Mavis), Malvina Reynolds (with her pleasantly scathing "Little Boxes"), Odetta, Nina Simone, Judy Collins, and the flexible Judy Henske. Troubadour activist Joan Baez gave Bob Dylan his entrée to the scene, while Native American activist Buffy Saint Marie penned classic songs famously covered like "Universal Soldier" (Donovan) and "Codine" (The Charletans SF).

The egalitarian outlook of the folk movement was reflected in pairings like Peter, Paul, And Mary, Ian And Sylvia, and Mimi And Richard Farina (and soon in the PsychFolk duos and bands).

Barbara Lynn;
Barbara Dane; Judy Roderick.

Folk ignited reappreciation of Blues elders like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Big Mama Thornton, Sippie Wallace, and Elizabeth Cotten, who toured on festival bills around the world. The healthy focus on rich traditions benefitted new artists like the soulful guitarists Barbara Lynn, Barbara Dane, and Judy Roderick, a generational hand-off of living cultural traditions that still continues. Singer Koko Taylor would bring gutbucket glory to rival Janis Joplin in the latter '60s.

Folk, Gospel, and Blues were also a refuge for female musicians to play their instruments with a little less of the pressures of the Pop world trying to domesticate or doll-ify them for mass consumption.

Les Surfs; Tina Y Tesa;
Kayoko Moriyama.

'50s Rock'n'Roll was immediately reflected globally, and even more so in the early '60s. All across Europe with Helen Shapiro and The Vernons Girls (England); Heidi Bruhl and Dany Mann (Germany); Hedika and Nicole Paquin (France); Les Surfs (Madagascar); Gelu, Tina Y Tesa, and Trio Juventud (Spain); and Laura Bordes And The Revolts (IndoRock from the Netherlands).

And across the Equator with Derrick And Patsy (Jamaica); Vianey Valdez and Angelica Maria (Mexico); Meire Pavão (Brazil); and T.N.T. (Uruguay).

And across all oceans with organist Cherry Wainer (South Africa); Betty McQuade, Toni McCann, and Dinah Lee (Australia); Ivor Fisher And The Satellites (New Zealand); and Kayoko Moriyama and Yukari Ito (Japan).

France Gall; Caterina Caselli.

In France, upbeat dance music was called Yé-yé, with ironic Lolitas like France Gall ["Laissez Tomber Les Filles" (a.k.a., "Chick Habit"], Beat divas like Sylvie Vartan, rockers like Jacqueline Taïeb, and moodier interpreters like Francoise Hardy and Marie Laforet. In Italy it was called Shake, with brash belters like Mina, Rita Pavone, Catherine Spaak, and Caterina Caselli. There were equivalent scenes in Spain and Japan.

(The danger of infantalizing anyone young and female into packaged doll groups that haunted Girl Group and Yé-yé has now hyper-escalated with J-Pop and K-Pop.)

The Supremes' "A Bit Of Liverpool" (1964).

The British Invasion wouldn't exist like it did without the inspiration of Girl Group songs, as proven by career-making covers of The Shirelles' "Boys" and "Chains" and "Putty In Your Hands", The Donays' "Devil In His Heart", The Exciters' "Do-Wah-Diddy", Nina Simone's "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood", Bessie Banks' "Go Now", and Goldie And The Gingerbreads' "Can't You Hear My Heartbeat?".

Conversely, the dialogue went both ways as the unprecedented success of The Beatles then inspired female artists. Their sound was reflected immediately by Jeannie And The Big Guys (England), Rod And Carolyn (England), The Beatle-Ettes, The Bootles, Die Sweetles (Germany), and Les Beatlettes (Canada). Ella Fitzgerald shocked her upscale set by enthusiastically swinging "Can't Buy Me Love". At Motown, Oma Heard resounded about her "Lifetime Man", and The Supremes' covers album A Bit Of Liverpool was served to a tee.

Motown made its big splash into England via a TV special by Dusty Springfield hosting label acts. Dusty led a home court of women equally vital to the range of the British Invasion, like Marianne Faithfull, Lulu, Sandie Shaw, and Cilla Black. Meanwhile, some of Jimmy Page's earliest session gigs were for Jackie DeShannon's "Dream Boy" and Brenda Lee's "Is It True?".

The Liverbirds

The most vital impact of The Beatles on women was not the screaming teens, but actually the scores of all-female bands that formed by their inspiration. Chided as novelties, under-recorded at every turn, mistreated like everything but the earnest musicians they were, these sweet punks were the future regardless of the mean and the clueless. They blasted out Beat, Freakbeat, FolkRock, and then Garage with all the gusto of their brothers. This went unheralded for decades until collectors and cratediggers brought them properly to light.

Goldie And The Gingerbreads;
The Daughters Of Eve; Dara Puspita.

The Girls In The Garage included The Liverbirds, The Pleasure Seekers (with Patti and Suzi Quatro), The Womenfolk, Goldie And The Gingerbreads, The Girls (the teenage Sandoval sisters), The Continental Co-Ets, The Belles (who turned the garage anthem "Gloria" into "Melvin"), The Clinger Sisters, The Bitter Sweets, Les Intrigantes (Canada), The Fair Sect (New Zealand), Las Mosquitas (Spain), Las Akelas (Spain), Dara Puspita (Indonesia), and The Luv'd Ones with the brilliant guitarist Char Vinnedge. (There are scores more of all-female bands unavailable on the Player. Learn about more here and here)

Weaselspeak phrases like "one of the few female..." should always raise a red flag. It doesn't mean women couldn't do a task, it's simply doublespeak glossing over how they were kept from doing it. When historians say "rare", it really means they are just unaware. Women had been playing instruments well since they were invented; the trick is being acknowledged doing it. In the '50s, the relentless crush to domesticate women didn't curtail Rockers like Sister Rosetta and Wanda, or Jazzers like Vi Redd and Dorothy Ashby, or all-female bands like The Rhythm Ranch Girls and Las Mary Jets (Mexico), or The Mary Kay Trio (guitarist from Hawaii), from giving it their all. But if you're under-recorded or un-archived, you disappear as if you were never there.

And sometimes you can vanish in plain sight. Quite a few '60s male bands included female players, even as management tried to push them out or forward. Drummers like Jan Errico (first The Vejtables and then The Mojo Men) and Karen Carpenter (The Carpenters) were made the frontperson instead, visable now more for their allure instead of for their skills.

Fortunately, some artists rebelled the other way. Bo Diddley dueled happily with two female guitarists, first Lady Bo and then The Duchess. The equitable Sly And The Family Stone proudly flaunted their sisters in lyrics and onstage, with Rose Stone on keys and Cynthia Robinson on trumpet. And some won by quality and quantity: session ace Carol Kaye played bass on more timeless hit classics and TV themes than anyone can ever count.

Velvet Underground and Nico

But women held their own upfront as well with female-fronted outfits like Raylene And The Blue Angels, Denise And Co., The Clefs Of Lavender Hill, Monique And The Lions (Germany), Linda Van Dyck backed by Boo And The Boo Boos (Netherlands), and Nico with The Velvet Underground (with drummer Maureen Tucker).

Listening through the Player, it's clear that women flowed with every current and cross-current of the '60s, sidelong with Elvis, The Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Marvin Gaye, and The 13th Floor Elevators. As the counterculture now consolidated in the Summer Of Love, they would become even more pervasive and integral.

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W O M E N
O F
R O C K:

1967-'69


Os Mutantes


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Women Of Rock: 1967-'69
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This Music Player covers women in the mutating forms of Rock'n'Roll music, from 1967 through 1969, in chronological order.

Garage! Psychedelic! Roots!
PsycheFolk! World! HAIR!
Funky! Electronic! Hard Rock!

___________________



When people think of women in '60s Rock, they think of Grace Slick and Janis Joplin.

As they should, because they're both essential. But they are the surface tsunamis of a deeper, wider scene.

San Francisco became the vanguard of the social revolution precisely because it was cosmopolitan. Culture is the constant assimilation of fresh ideas from all angles, from all people, and crossroads cities have always been the nexus of progressive creativity because of it. As such, the Bay Area had more eclectic line-ups and sounds than almost anywhere, first.

The Vejtables; The Peanut Butter Conspiracy;
It's A Beautiful Day.

Visibility is the key. Because Grace Slick of The Great Society and Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin of Big Brother And The Holding Company had smash hits, they were seen nationally on music shows and the MONTEREY POP (1968) and WOODSTOCK documentaries (1969). But less seen were Bay Area bands with female members also slinging modern folk and blues like The We Five, The Vejtables, The Mojo Men, The Generation (with Lydia Pense), The Serpent Power, The Peanut Butter Conspiracy, Fifty Foot Hose, Mother Earth (With Tracy Nelson), and It's A Beautiful Day.

Sly And The Family Stone

Sly And The Family Stone are often heralded as 'the first (and only) integrated band, male and female, black and white'. But it takes nothing away from one of the greatest groups of all time to say this is inaccurate. They were cousined by US brothers and sisters like The Loading Zone (with Linda Tillery), The Rotary Connection (with Minnie Riperton), and Sweetwater; and in England with The Ferris Wheel and Blue Mink.

Also in England, illusory borders continued dissolving as P.P. Arnold jammed with The Small Faces and Rod Stewart, Marsha Hunt with Deep Purple, Sharon Tandy (South Africa) with Les Fleur De Lys, Yoko Ono with John Lennon and The Rolling Stones, and Martha Velez with everyone. If the culture at large still thought the world was color faces in slotted places, the counterculture saw one world one people and infinite possibilities.

The pattern toward progress here is hybrid. With each passing year, the sounds that youth had heard side-by-side on AM blended together into the personnel, sounds, and outlooks of new bands who embraced diversity as freedom, and who found support on college stations in the freeform frontier of the new alternative FM radio.

The Mamas And The Papas;
The 5th Dimension; Los Stop.

These good vibrations are why vocal groups blended Motown, Dylan, Brian Wilson, and The Beatles to become acts like The Mamas And The Papas, Spanky And Our Gang, Sagittarius, The Fifth Dimension, The Free Design, Honey Ltd., The City (with Carole King), Chorus Reverendus (France), Los Stop (Spain), and Sergio Mendez And Brazil '66 (Brazil).

The success of Grace and Janis bolstered the arrival of more female-fronted Rock bands like The Ravelles, Lydia Pense with Cold Blood, Yuya Uchida And The Flowers (Japan), Ann Wilson And The Daybreaks (who would become Heart), and the great Mariska Veres with Shocking Blue (Netherlands).

Psychedelic bands had female members in the US with Neighb'rhood Childr'n, Daughters of Albion, Birmingham Sunday, The Unspoken Word, The Savage Rose, The Love Exchange, Ill Wind, and Kangaroo; and globally with Os Mutantes (Brazil), The Executives (Australia), Hljómar (Iceland), Aguaturbia (Chile), Trúbrot (Iceland), De Kalafe (Brazil), and Os Novos Balanos (Brazil).

The Daisy Chain; The Ace Of Cups; The Feminine Complex.

All-female bands opened tour bills and recorded singles, and sometimes full albums, like Dara Puspita (Indonesia), The Daisy Chain (who later became the mega-heavy Birtha), The Ace Of Cups, The Daughters Of Eve, The Puppets, The Feminine Complex, The She Trinity, and She.

Joni Mitchell; Vashti Bunyan; Deborah Harry.

Folk took on manifold forms. From the sinuous flux of Joni Mitchell and eerie soliloquies of Vashti Bunyan (England), to duos flexing out like Blackburn And Snow, Smokey And His Sister, and Lily And Maria. And into uncharted furrows with the PsycheFolk of The Insect Trust, The Bristol Boxkite, It's A Beautiful Day, and The Wind In The Willows (with Deborah Harry). Many Americana roots musics laced back to European seeds; a harvest of new English artists like Fairport Convention (with Sandy Denny), Pentangle, and Renaissance (with Annie Haslam) were now branching out into forms of progressive folk.

The back-to-the-roots music ethos rippled in tandem with the back-to-nature movement, as the counterculture embraced communalism, ecology, alternate spiritualities, rustic fashions, and natural appearance as a counterpoint to the slick, the selfish, and the flashy. Protest folk had formed an activist society grounded in the humanitarian and the equitable, in direct contrast to conformity and consumerism. It paralleled the general pattern of a massive and complex generation trying to reexamine and recontruct themselves at every turn. To be free in body and spirit, and to connect with each other fully.

Aretha Franklin; Sarolta Zalatnay; Les Planetes.

Aretha Franklin redefined herself and Soul music in 1967, making it more raw, more epic, more intimate. Soul artists were singing Rock songs, Rock artists were jamming Jazz, Jazz was going funky, and everyone was playing on the same festival bills with World artists. Every soul has soul and putting passion into the compassion were The Flirtations, the swamp soul of Bobbie Gentry and Delaney And Bonnie, Linda Lyndell ("What A Man"), Chicken Shack (with Christine McVie), Laura Nyro, Las Quatro Monedas (Venezuela), the bluntly-named Females (Indonesia), Sarolta Zalatnay (Hungary), Sodsai Chaengkij (Thailand), and Les Planètes (Canada). Get it on the good foot, good god, y'all!

The HAIR cast upbraid London, 1968.

After decades of vanilla sing-songs, Broadway was occupied by the revolution in 1968 with HAIR: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical, which broke every social restriction overnight to smash success. Along with the first black female Broadway lead ever with Melba Moore, its international productions launched the careers of cast members like Diane Keaton, Sonja Kristina (Curved Air), Elaine Paige, Marsha Hunt, Donna Summer, and Sônia Braga. Its songs became new utopian standards covered by The Supremes, Nina Simone, The Free Design, The 5th Dimension, Julie Driscoll, Carla Thomas, and countless more. No matter what anyone looked like, no matter what niche they were boxed by, these artists knew themselves instead as a tribal community of hearts and sounds.

Electronic music broke through to the mainstream with the 1968 success of Wendy Carlos' all-electronic Switched On Bach album. Other pioneers continued collaging patch-cord and tone-honed miracles like Delia Derbyshire (the original "Doctor Who Theme"), Alice Shields, and Pril Smiley. The revolution shifted from college labs to pop studios with the first Moog synths in 1968, as it synergized into experimental Rock by The United States Of America (who became Joe Byrd And The Field Hippies) and Fifty Foot Hose.

As Acid Rock warped into Heavy Rock, women hefted the heaviosity like Sharon Tandy with Les Fleur De Lys, the proto-Occult rock of Coven, the multinational The She Trinity, the iconoclastic Julie Driscoll with Brian Auger Trinity, Aquaturbia, and the Prog of Affinity. Char Vinnidge pitchshifted the Beatle-isms of The Luv'd Ones to full-bore Hendrix acidfuzz, as did The Pleasure Seekers in their transmutation toward becoming Cradle.

The Svelts, 1968;
Jean Millington (L), June Millington (R).

But the final word here about the '60s should be about the first word of the '70s: Fanny. In 1964, the filipina sisters June and Jean Millington of California were inspired by The Beatles to form an all-female band called The Svelts. After the usual turnovers, they were Fanny by 1969, and became the first all-female band signed by a major record label to record multiple albums. They summed up all of women's momentum of the decade in one band, ready to open the next decade with wider possibilities.


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1950s Rock'n'Roll started with hundreds of female acts, and this became rapidly exponential with each decade.

As this series of Music Players will prove, they dominoed every decade through the '60s, the '70s, the '80s, the '90s, the '00s, and the '10s.

We've heard enough of his story, so let's widen the world with the history of her story.


Next:
Women Of Rock: The 1970s




© Tym Stevens




See Also:

Part 1 (of 2):
-YOU DON'T OWN ME: The Uprising of the 1960s GIRL GROUPS
Part 2 (of 2):
-SHE'S A REBEL: Decades Of Songs Influenced By The GIRL GROUPS


-Women Of Rock: The 1950s (2 Music Players!)

Coming:
Women Of Rock: The 1970s (2 Music Players)
Women Of Rock: The 1980s (3 Music Players)
Women Of Rock: The 1990s (2 Music Players)
Women Of Rock: The 2000s (2 Music Players)
Women Of Rock: The 2010s (2 Music Players)



-The Real History of Rock and Soul!: A Music Player Checklist