THE GLORIOUS CORNER
Story By: G. H. HARDING
Time Zones --- Mad Men’s final-split season kicked off this past weekend with an episode that certainly ranked among its best ever. Don’s still out at SC&P, but still collecting a paycheck; but, he’s feeding his brilliant wares, this time through ex-employee Freddy Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld opens, and galvanizes the show, with the words "Are you ready? Because I want you to pay attention. This is the beginning of something." Ironically, the pitch he gives is to Peggy (Elizabeth Moss) and it’s typically Draper-brilliant, as Peggy replies, “It’s a home run.”
MM-creator Matthew Weiner wrote the show and delivers some of his best moments ever. The best Mad Men-episodes have always been slow, nuanced performances and this one , which brings all of the characters back into focus, couldn't have been better.
There are two brilliant-moments from Weiner using some terrific music; the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm A Man," which is played as Don travels through some unnamed L.A. airport and is just sensational ... and, the ending, where Vanilla Fudge's brilliant "You Keep Me Hanging On," wherein Don sits on his freezing ledge contemplating what exactly his future could be. It's a terrific moment too.
One fact that many media-pundits seemed to have missed is the fact that legendary producer Robert Towne is now a producer on the show and this was his first episode. Towne, (Chinatown; Days of Thunder; Love Affair; Tequila Sunrise) from the 70's, is a wild-card for the show so far; but, in my opinion, this episode was spot-on brilliant. I've got to give some credit to his vision on this episode.
Don’s on the mend. Sort of. He might be a “broken vessel,” but he does seem fixable. We're ready and we're paying attention, Don. Show us what you've got.
BLUE NOTE MARCUS --- Singer-songwriter Marcus Goldhaber sold out the Blue Note this past weekend and was joined by singer Antoinette Lee on the song “Teach Me Tonight.” Antoinette originally appeared with Marcus in “The Wonderful Wizard of Song” Off-Broadway, but left the show to pursue other opportunities, including her upcoming solo album produced by Christian McBride.
Marcus will be kicking off his Come Home America New York Celebration over Memorial Day Weekend at the Cutting Room on Friday May 23 and the new music video for “Come Home America” will soon be making its world premiere on the USO’s web site, www.libertyuso.org.
GOLD BRICK ELTON – There’s no question that Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road –now 40 years old- is a brilliant conceived and executed of work. It propelled him to the heights of super stardom and has remained an amazingly cohesive piece of work. The 40th re-mastered version reminds yet again what a compelling piece of work it is. For me, I always loved the tracks “Grey Seal,” “The Ballad Of Danny Bailey” and the great-track “Harmony.” Hearing them re-worked makes them that much more powerful.
Guests artists Ed Sheeran (“Candle In The Wind”), Miguel (“Bennie And The Jets”), The Band Perry (“Grey Seal”) and Emeli Sande (“All The Girls Love Alice”) add dimension to their chosen tracks. “Alice” has always been another big favorite and Sande delivers impressively on the track. John still performs it today to mass hysteria ... its really a great, great track.
The album marked a turning point in his public image, going from the studious-looking virtuoso with seemingly classical leanings to the poster boy for glitter rock, with his outrageous eye wear, platform boots and ambiguous sexuality.
Miraculously, the album was completed in only 17 days, including mixing, at Château d’Hérouville, a studio near Paris that John had dubbed Honky Château from his album of the year before, according to the essay written by Alexis Petridus in the box-set’s hard-cover booklet.
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road would mark the eighth album that John would churn out in under four years, a flowering of creativity unimaginable today, and yet he was only 23 at the time. His partnership with his bandmates, lyricist Bernie Taupin and producer Gus Dudgeon had much to do with the quality of his output, but still, he and Taupin were much more advanced at this stage in their careers than such songwriter teams as Lennon/McCartney, Jagger/Richards and even Bacharach/David were in theirs.
As impressive as ever! Tremendous work.
CLOSING NOTES --- Did you happen to catch Donny Osmond on Dancing with The Stars this week? The child-star now looks like an adult. He helped vote off Australian-teen pop-sensation Cody Simpson, who has some 3 million Twitter-followers. His reaction: “Now 3 million Cody Simpson fans know who Donny Osmond is.” Funny …
Micky Dolenz dining at Cecconi’s in L. A. this past weekend; readying his 18-date tour with The Monkees starting next month …
Having spent the weekend in L. A., I have to say that local-radio station KROQ is as impressive as ever. I have always felt that radio out there, led the way. Where else can you enjoy such brilliant artists as Cage The Elephant; The Neighbourhood; Fitz & the Tantrums; and, Mumford & Sons and Radiohead. I kept listening … and, loved it ...
How about that new song from Fitz & the Tantrums, "The Walker." Amazing! Formed in 2008, the song, with its whistle-break is just totally infectious ...
The man who brought the music of Journey, Def Leppard, Foreigner and more to the Broadway stage with Rock of Ages has his eyes on the music that made Soul Train great.
Matthew Weaver has acquired the theatrical stage rights to the TV show from Soul Train Holdings whose chairman, Earvin "Magic" Johnson, said "Soul Train has made a significant impact on American music and pop culture and its legacy and appeal continue to resonate around the world. Creating a live theatrical interpretation of this iconic franchise is an opportunity that could not be missed.”
Photos By: RD/Dziekan/Retna & Goldhaber Courtesy Of Richard Puttkammer