Book Review: “Not Dead Yet: The Memoir” by Phil Collins

As soon as I read online about the release of Not Dead Yet: The Memoir by Phil CollinsI knew I had to read it. It wasn’t long after the announcement of this book that rumors started flying about Phil Collins long standing grudge with Paul McCartney. And though the story of the feud doesn’t appear in this book, many other Beatles stories that appear in it’s pages.

Phil opens the book by saying that it contains his memories of the events in his life and they may not match other memories of the same events, but they are as honest as he remembers them. Apparently, his first wife has very different recollections of their time together because she’s currently suing him because his wholly false statements “not only seriously damaged my reputation, but have also caused me considerable distress,” she said. I thought he was very kind to all three of his ex-wives and his ex-girlfriend throughout the book and took on great responsibility for the demise of all his relationships…we he details greatly.

But his marriages aren’t why we’re interested in Phil Collins, is it? No, it’s the music. So much music! In fact, there are times when even he and his fellow Genesis members admit there was too much Phil Collins! But for Collins, it was built into his personality to never say no to a idea. That included working with such greats as George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Sting, Robert Plant, etc. And though the battle with McCartney isn’t contained in the book, you do get the sense that Phil doesn’t think to highly of him without coming right out and saying it.

Then there’s his acting career and all that wasted film laying on the cutting room floors. Read the book if you want to know more about all his almost great movies roles, including his appearance in “A Hard Day’s Night”. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 4 out of 4 Beetles!

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Trip Report: Imagine Peace Tower, Reykjavik, Iceland

20161106_2035071Two weeks ago, my husband and I took a four day excursion to Reykjavik, Iceland. Earlier in the spring, I had seen a great deal (3 nights for $499 each including air, hotel and breakfast) and couldn’t pass it up. It included a Northern Lights tour which just added to the excitement of going since seeing the Aurora Borealis is on my bucket list.

When I booked our trip for November, I didn’t even remember that the Imagine Peace Tower was in Iceland. That realization came on October 8th when I read that Yoko Ono was on her way to light the tower for it’s 10th anniversary. The tower is only lit from John Lennon‘s birthday on October 9th until the anniversary of his death on December 8th. I believe it’s also lit on John and Yoko’s wedding anniversary and her birthday. The light comes on one hour after sunset and is turned off at midnight.img_3971

The tower’s history according to the website is: IMAGINE PEACE TOWER is an outdoor work of art conceived by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. It is situated on Viðey Island in Reykjavík, Iceland. The artwork was dedicated to John by Yoko at its unveiling on October 9th 2007, John Lennon’s 67th birthday. 

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The only way to get to Videy Island is via ferry boat. My husband and I decided to take a walk to the dock and catch the last ferry out for the day at a cost of about $12 each. In the winter, the ferry only makes 3 trips to the island and only on weekends! Unfortunately, after walking over a mile in a damp drizzle (the same way we spent the entire 4 days), we arrived 5 minutes too late for the last ferry out! You can see the Imagine Peace Tower in the picture with me pointing to it (that little whit dot!) from the pier at the dock. To add some perspective, Videy Island is the same size as the country of Monaco…0.7 square miles.

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After a disappointing Northern Lights excursion the night prior and now missing the last ferry out for the weekend, we were not about to miss out again on this vacation! We went back to our hotel and booked ourselves on the night’s Imagine Peace Tower Tour hosted by the Edding Whale Watch company. Cost = $80 each for a two hour tour.

As our luck would have it, it rained. And I don’t mean a gentle rain…I mean it rained sideways! Add in the fact that it was about 45 degrees fahrenheit and yeah, it would make for a miserable evening on any given night…but we were off on a once in a lifetime trip to see the Peace Tower up close and in person! And there were 7 other people just as crazy as us on that boat.

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This is what it looks like up close in the rain. Our guide that night, Megan said that in the rain is the only time you’re going to see the light refracted, producing that rainbow effect. I asked her what it looks like in the snow, and she said the light reflects off the snow and makeimg_3970s that light brighter.

Underneath the tower are time capsules. Each one holding a years worth of wishes that people around the world make. The wishes are stored there until the year 2040 (John’s 100th birthday) when the first capsule will be opened. A lot of wishes come from the Wishing Tree that is a building on the island.

20161106_2105271It’s not a very attractive tree…Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree may have been in better shape. But none the less, we added our wishes to the tree while enjoying hot cocoa after walking back in the driving rain (it’s about 1/3 mile from the dock to the tower). You can also make wishes through the Imagine Peace Tower website at this link.

Despite the weather (hey, they did provide us with those yellow rain parkas you see in the photos!), we wouldn’t have missed this experience for the world. It was the highlight of our trip to Iceland…and an added bonus since I didn’t even think about it when I booked the trip. If you’re a true Beatles freak like myself, spend the extra money and take the night tour whether in the rain, sleet or snow…you won’t want to miss this!

And…unlike the northern lights (which we never saw), this is a guarantee!

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Around the circumference of the Imagine Peace Tower, the words “Imagine Peace” are written in 24 different languages.

 

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Movie Review: “The Lennon Report”

The Lennon Report was recommended to my husband and I from a guy my husband met in a cigar store a couple weeks ago. My husband said he was interested in seeing it too, so the search was on to find it! As it turns out, the movie, which seems to have been released in October 2016, is only available to rent or buy online and has yet to be released on blue ray or disc.

The Lennon Report is a 1 hour 24 minutes recreation of the last hours of John Lennon’s life. From the moments before he was shot up until Yoko tells Sean his father is dead, this movie aims to let fans know what exactly happened in the hospital as the doctors and nurses tried to save John.

Here’s the trailer:

Though the acting leaves a bit to be desired, I gotta say, I really enjoyed watching this movie. It’s not over dramatized with a lot of unnecessary screaming and over the top emotions. It appears to show the true to life surprise by the hospital staff when they are told that the dying man on the table in front of them is John Lennon and it then reveals their above and beyond attempts to save his life.

As an added bonus – The doctor and one of the nurses who operated on Lennon, along with the reporter who was there, all appear at the end of this movie and talk about that fateful night.

There is no doubt in my mind that every Beatles fan and Lennon fan will love seeing this film. But as I said, you’re going to have to look past the weak acting skills on the part of some of the players. And for that reason…

I rate this movie, 3 out of 4 Beetles!

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Bonus Book Reivew: “Go Set A Watchman” by Harper Lee

I pre-ordered Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee months before it’s release and it’s been sitting on my shelf since its release on July 14, 2015. This will tell you how far behind I am on my everyday reading list as compared to my Beatles blog list!

I had a hard time trying to go into reading this book with an open mind when there was so much talk about it on the internet immediately after it hit the shelves. Reviewers had no beef about putting their opinions in their headlines when the posted their reviews. But after reading it for myself, I see this book differently.

So many wanted to blast this book. The general opinion seemed to be – Why would Harper Lee make Atticus Finch, everyone’s hero from To Kill a Mockingbird, into a racist in her follow up novel?! So many people seemed disappointed that Ms. Lee didn’t put out another Pulitzer Prize worthy novel with an obvious hero stepping out of the shadows and teaching scores of people how to be human. Ah…but she did…

I was happy to read the vision that Harper Lee had for her characters from To Kill A Mockingbird. This was her story to write as she saw it. And though it wasn’t at all what any of really expected (wanted), I was entertained by just by the fact that I got to finally find out what became of Atticus, Scout, Jem and Dill. I’m thrilled that Lee, after many years of refusing to publish this work, finally gave her permission to let us step back into Maycomb, Alabama, with Go Set A Watchman.

There is still a lesson to be learned in Go Set A Watchman, but I think it’s a much harder pill to swallow than the simpler lesson Harper Lee taught us in To Kill A Mockingbird. Bravo to her for pointing out the error of our ways!

 

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Ladies and Gentlemen…The Weeklings!

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I thought I was doing a favor for a fellow publicist, but little did I know that she was doing me a huge favor! Thank you, Maureen, for introducing me to the music of The Weeklings.

Maureen asked me a couple months ago if I would be interested in doing an article on my Beatles Freak Review page about the new band she is repping. She explained that their new album, Studio 2, was named after the studio at Abbey Road where the Beatles did all their recording, AND that her band, The Weeklings, had recorded this new album (their second album) there.

I was sent a preview copy of The Weeklings: Studio 2, and I couldn’t have been more pleasantly surprised. Slipped it into the CD player in my car and immediately wanted to start dancing. This album not only takes you back to the 60’s with it’s hand-claps and harmonica riffs, it does it in a new millennium style…STEREO! Add to that, that the last four cuts on this original album are the bands renditions of four very rare McCartney/Lennon songs, brought back to life for us old rockers and modernized for the new rockers. The album will be released on November 18, 2016, but you can listen to clips of the Studio 2 on Amazon and pre-order a copy for yourself.

The Weeklings are: Lefty (Glen Burtnik), Zeek (Bob Burger), Rocky (John Merjave), and Smokestack (Joe Bellia).lefty-zeek-rocky-smokestack

The Weeklings‘ CD release party and concert will be held on Friday, November 11, 2016 at the House of Independents in Asbury Park, NJ. You can get more information and tickets here. I’m really hoping to make this show myself. This is definitely a band I want to get up and dance to…

I decided to email some questions off to the band in hopes of getting more background information to write this post. As it turned out, both Zeek and Lefty decided to take on my questions and what ensued was so witty and charming, I decided to post the interview verbatim! So here it is, folks…The Weeklings!

1. Explain the name “The Weeklings”.  Not a very strong name…

From time to time many people ask what are Weeklings? Why Weeklings? Ugh, Weeklings, how did the name arrive? So we will tell you. It came in a vision – a man appeared on a flaming pizza and said unto them ‘From this day on you are THE Weeklings with an ‘E’. An alternate theory is that not a Week goes by that the band doesn’t write, record or perform their music. –ZW
 
Zeek is lying. I think it’s pretty obvious from our Hulk-like appearances that we met at the gym. At the beach really, in Venice Beach in California, where we were all four working out. We thought it’d be funny, calling ourselves The Weaklings, since we are such buff, pumped up wham-a-jamas. But we are bad at spelling. So, we hadn’t realized we spelled our name wrong until the first record was already out. So we stuck with it. We thought about changing it to The Weeklongs, The Zeeklings, The Wing Dings and The Changelings, but we kept changing our minds and figured it’s easier to just go with the flow, ya know. – LW
 
2. There’s a lot of rock n roll history in your member’s roots. How did you all manage to all come together to form this band?
 
Lefty and Zeek have been a song writing team for many years.  The members of the band also worked together for years in different situations, including the Glen Burtnik ‘BeatleBash’ shows.  At one point we did a show of all very early Beatle material and discovered how great it was to perform that music as a simple quartet.  We then did several quartet shows and the band just fell together. – ZW
 
I can’t believe what a liar Zeek is. The true story is Rocky & Smokestack met at a convention for Supercomputing engineers (hackers really). Smokestack, being a software engineer at Intelligent Medical Objects and Rocky being a graphics programmer for Android development at Talas Analytics, Inc, they paired up, first recognizing each other as competitors but eventually getting to like each other’s arm wrestling finesse. In time this led to rock music, as it does, and they found both Zeek and Lefty strung out in a bar of ill repute. – LW
 
3. How long have you been together? And where is your band based?
 
2+ years now.  We are based in Asbury Park, NJ. – ZW
 
Wrong. We’ve been together since 1956 and are based in Sofia, Bulgaria. I cannot believe Zeek’s insistence on misrepresenting the facts! – LW
 
4. Your website refers to you as “a Beatles inspired power pop”.  According to your history, two out of four of your members have actually played with Paul McCartney and your bass player has played Paul McCartney on Broadway. Any other brushes with the Fab Four you’d like to mention?
 
Lefty also met both McCartney and Ringo.  We also connected with Ken Scott and Alan Parsons (both were engineers on Beatle sessions), as advisor before recording at Abbey Road. – ZW
 
Finally, Zeek makes some sense. Rocky’s played with Billy Preston & Klaus Voorman. Pretty much everyone’s played with Denny Laine. There are lots of über talented Beatle-affiliated cats around which Rocky & I have musically crossed swords with. Steve Holley, Denny Seiwell, Laurence Juber, Joey Molland, Father MacKenzie, Lovely Rita, etc. – LW
 
5. Listening to your first album, released in March 2015, is like stepping back in time… as if listening to a transistor radio in the 1960’s! Are all the songs originals by The Weeklings?
 
No, but we’re glad you asked.  Six songs are original, and six are Lennon/McCartney/Harrison songs that were not released by the Beatles.  Our goal was to mix the material together to create the excitement of an early Beatle recording. – ZW
 
Zeek’s right for once, as much as I hate to admit it. – LW
 
6. You’ve got a new album coming out called “Studio 2”, named after the now famous studio at Abbey Road where the Beatles did most of their recording. Where did you come up with idea to go to London and record there? Is there a Beatles vibe being in that studio?
 
It was Lefty’s bucket list idea to record at Abbey Road.  But it made sense, since we recorded several more very rare Lennon/McCartney/Harrison songs, that to our knowledge have never been covered.  What more appropriate studio could there be to do that?  There is a distinct Beatles vibe to being in the real Studio 2.  You could hear the sound of the records just being there, and we were constantly pinching ourselves.  Hopefully, you’ll hear it on our “Studio 2” record. – ZW
 
It was Zeek’s idea. –LW
 
7. The new album will contain four rare Lennon/McCartney tracks. How did you discover these tunes?
 
“Because I Know You Love Me So” – is from an off-the-cuff demo sung by Lennon and McCartney that appears on the Let It Be “Fly On The Wall” album.  We liked it and decided to write an arrangement. “You Must Write” and “Some Days” – these are taken from a 1960s Beatles rehearsal tape recorded by McCartney.  We became aware of this tape via Mark Lewison’s book (“Tune In”), where the original songs were mentioned.  The tape was actually previously released on CD but is now out of print.  We found the songs by trolling YouTube. 
“Love Of The Loved” – this is really not so “rare”.  It was recorded by Cilla Black and was a minor hit in the UK.  It is known to most Beatle freaks.  Our arrangement of course is very different from the original Cilla Black version. – ZW
 
What Zeek said. – LW
 
8. While recording in London, did you get the opportunity to play in any clubs? Or have you played in the U.K. prior to this trip?
 
We didn’t play any clubs (no time!).  The individual members have played in the UK, but not The Weeklings as a band. – ZW
 
We DRANK in the pubs, but didn’t play music in any, as we were too intoxicated. – LW
 
9. Will there be any touring to support the new album?
 
As much as possible.  We are currently planning our 2017 schedule to support the album. – ZW
 
I plan on touring local condos and other available dwellings in the next year. Yes, there’ll be much touring ensued and libations imbibed. – LW

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Bonus Book Review: “David Bowie Retrospective and Coloring Book” by Mel Elliot

I received David Bowie Retrospective and Coloring Book by Mel Elliott from a new program I enrolled at Crown Publishing called Blogging for Books. I look over their list of recent releases and if there is anything I’m interested in, they will send it to me in exchange for my review. When I chose this book to review on this blog, I had hoped that the author would mention that David Bowie‘s first number one hit “Famewas co-written by John Lennon. Unfortunately, the song gets no mention in this book.

This book is smaller than I imagined it to be. It measures 8.25″ x 8.25″. Its cover is dark blue with the title printed in a metallic copper and matte red finish. The book is listed as being a paperback, but is actually a stiff cardboard cover. Also includes a red ribbon for bookmarking fastened to its binding.

From the title page to the discography and awards, this book is all black & white text and images to color. Even the text is hollow for the readers express their artistic style with geometric backgrounds to keep one busy. The book highlights David Bowie’s fashion style and is filled with illustrations of his many costumes over his 50 year career.

David Bowie Retrospective and Coloring Book is going to cause a lot of mental anguish to die-hard Bowie fans unless they are provided with two copies of this book…one for their collection and one to actually color. But don’t look for any new revelations or deep thoughts in the text of this book. It’s primarily brief descriptions, with credits to the designers, of his costumes for photo shoots and on tour.

This book is best suited to collectors or fans. And for that reason…

I rate this book, 2 out of 4 Beetles.

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Documentary Review: “Scream and Shout”

51iscglycml-_sl250_I should charge every one of my readers $1 to read this blog, but even that won’t compensate me enough for the hell I had to endure watching this film. As if having to go to the gym and having to walk on a treadmill for an hour everyday isn’t bad enough, I decided to raise my anxiety level by adding this piece of crap to the mix two days in a row! I hope you all are happy…because I surely took one for the team to put out this public safety announcement.

Scream And Shout is an 1.5 hour film about nothing! Yes…this my friends, could be a Seinfeld episode but the joke is on the viewer. What in the world were these people thinking when they made this? And to think that it currently is reviewed at 4 out of 5 stars on Amazon! Just click here to watch the trailer.

Not only is this a mess of bad newsreel footage, clips of interviews that are almost inaudible, they actually have typos in their sub-titles! At one point, while two current day musicians are being interviewed, the date “September 7, 1964” is at the top of the screen. And don’t even get me started on the product placement. I think they put an ad out for any bands with a Beatles sound, to “please donate your songs to this project in exchange for on screen credit.” And I believe their experts/historians were all told they would be given the opportunity to audition for their next big gig in this movie.

For the safety of your own mental health, please do not watch this documentary. And remember, friends don’t let friends watch bad documentaries. If it weren’t for the fact that this was free with my Amazon Prime subscription, I would have never watch it myself. But I owe it to you, my fine readers, to give it to you straight. And for that reason…

I rate the documentary, a very generous 1 out of 4 Beetles!

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