follow us in feedly
Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, and Rod Stewart compete in ABC’s ‘Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic,’ 1978

Those of us who lived through the seventies won’t soon forget the various ABC celebrity sports extravaganzas, especially the Battle of the Network Stars of various years. I didn’t remember, however, the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic from 1978. Aside from a few genuine immortals (Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Rod Stewart, Joan Jett), the panoply of athletes is mostly reminiscent of a Columbia Records Club advertisement or the $1 bin at your local LP store (Boston, Leif Garrett, Anne Murray, Seals & Crofts, Tanya Tucker, Kenny Loggins, etc.).

Events include cycling, basketball, swimming, track and field. The main takeaway is that the Runaways kick ass, with both Joan Jett and Sandy West winning events. Michael Jackson appears in the 60-yard dash, but his brother Jackie wins that event. In soccer, Rod Stewart defeats ELO bassist Richard Tandy in a penalty-kick competition.

The roster of announcers is nearly as long and impressive as the list of performer-athletes: Ed McMahon, Sandy Duncan, Phyllis Diller, Kristy McNichol, Barbi Benton, and Alex Karras. Fred Travalena is also on hand to do a few timely impressions, such as Richard Nixon, who had resigned as president four years earlier.

At the 22:00 mark there’s a weird moment involving Alex Karras. Karras, who died in 2012, was a remarkable fellow by any definition, being an All-Pro defensive tackle for the Lions, Blazing Saddles bit player, and the adult lead for the ABC sitcom Webster for many years. But he was also one of a bare handful of athletes ever to suffer a league sanction for gambling, being forced by the NFL to sit out the 1963 season because of his involvement in gambling activities. So it’s especially weird when, after introducing Marlon Jackson before a race, he adopts the mock desperation of a gambling addict: “Marlon, you gotta win this one, I don’t care about you guys making money, but I need it!”

Indeed, the very existence of the Rock-N-Roll Sports Classic brings to mind the recent issue of drug testing in pro sports—one wonders what results the drug tests for this event would have yielded. Some of the events are actually edited out of this video, but most of them are there, but a judicious assessment of the video’s contents would still conclude that it mainly consists of introductions: “In Lane number two, William King of the Commodores!” It’s still a prime example of the dread nexus of music and television that only the seventies can supply, and well worth watching for connoisseurs of televised weirdness.


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Superstars In Concert’: Jimi, Cream, Rolling Stones, Ike & Tina Turner & more in obscure classic

When the question of “What’s the best/great rockumentary of all?” is asked, the answers can range quite widely obviously, from something like Don’t Look Back or Let It Be to The Last Waltz or Stop Making Sense (which both seem to make almost everyone’s lists) to something totally out of left field and life-affirming like Half Japanese: The Band That Would Be King. I really loved the new Pulp: a Film about Life, Death and Supermarkets... and wouldn’t “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” be in the running for all-time best rockumentary? Of course it would be!

It’s an impossible question to answer, but sidestepping it somewhat, if I had to pick the best overall “time capsule” of the rock era to preserve for future generations, it would probably be Peter Clifton’s Superstars In Concert.  Also known as Rock City in a different edit, the film was directed and produced by Clifton (The Song Remains the Same, Popcorn, The London Rock and Roll Show) and is a hodge-podge compiling (mostly) his promotional short films and snippets of concert performances shot between 1964 and 1973 by the likes of Peter Whitehead (Wholly Communion, Charlie Is My Darling, Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London), Michael Cooper (who shot Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising), Ernest Vincze (the cinematographer responsible for the 2005 Doctor Who reboot) and Ivan Strasburg (Treme).

Featured in the film are The Rolling Stones (several times), Eric Burdon and The Animals, a typically demure appearance of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, Otis Redding bringing the house down, Cream, Steve Winwood, Blind Faith, Cat Stevens (a stark Kubrickian promo film for his “Father and Son” single) , The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Donovan, Joe Cocker, a segment with The Ike and Tina Turner Revue that will bring a smile to your face, Pink Floyd and Rod Stewart and the Faces. Pete Townshend is seen getting in his digs at the Stones for promoting pot use, managing to make himself look like a blue-nosed twat in the process, while Mick and the boys are seen doing “Jumpin Jack Flash” in the (decidedly more evil) warpaint version of that promo film (there were two, this is the one that was NOT shown on The Ed Sullivan Show for obvious reasons) and in their promo film for “We Love You” which features Keef in a judge’s wig, Marianne Faithfull as a barrister and Mick nude wrapped up in a fur rug (a sly joke that if you don’t get, then google “Rolling Stones,” “Redlands,” drug bust, her name and “Hershey Bar.”)

Superstars In Concert came out in Japan on the laserdisc format and that’s how I first saw it, in the late 80s. Since then, other than the various clips showing up cut from the film on YouTube, it’s remained an obscurity. Apparently there was a Malaysian bootleg and then in 2003 a Brazilian magazine called DVD Total gave away the film for free with one of their issues. So far fewer than 200 people have viewed the video.

DO NOT miss what’s perhaps the most intense version of Pink Floyd’s “Careful with That Axe Eugene” ever captured on film. This entire film is absolutely amazing from start to finish, but it jumps off the scale during that part (Otis Redding is no slouch, either!) I highly recommend letting it load first before you hit play, otherwise it’s kind of flickery. If you wait a while, it doesn’t hang up and looks and sounds great.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
When Rod Stewart rocked: The Faces’ final concert
07:12 am


Ron Wood
Rod Stewart
The Faces

Given how he spent the ’80s cashing checks as a bland MOR hit machine, and how he rebranded himself again as a 21st Century autotuned interpreter of pop standards, it’s difficult to think of Rod Stewart as someone who once actually made exciting music—he’s in the shameful company of Eric Clapton, Lionel Richie, and Sting in that regard. I’ll bet that with the tepid, money-grubbing work of his middle age as one’s only context for Stewart’s career, it would be awfully hard to believe that in 1969, when the amazing, expressive, smoke-throated singer Steve Marriott left Small Faces to play with Peter Frampton in Humble Pie, it actually occurred to someone to say “Well, we’ve lost our gifted and distinctive front man—thank God that Rod Stewart is available.” But it happened. Guitarist Ron Wood and singer Stewart were poached from the Jeff Beck Group to replace Marriott in Small Faces, then redubbed The Faces, who had a six-year run of four pretty unfuckwithable albums, a run that ended only when Wood joined the Rolling Stones.

This short TV documentary looks at The Faces in 1970, when they were barely just a year old, and still conjuring up some nice, filthy blues-rock. About five/six minutes in you can start to see how Stewart was fit to replace Marriott—he was doing some fine singing back then.

The Faces’ final concert was filmed in 1974, and it’s a great look at the band near the end of its evolution. Keith Richards guests on guitar, and you can see Stewart in the full embrace of the glam-dandy persona that he’d ride into the disco era. Sad to watch this set with the knowledge that Stewart was just a few years off from coked-up crap like “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,” but really, given hindsight, you can kinda see it heading that way. Drummer Kenney Jones stated in this recent interview that the Faces would perform with Stewart again in 2014. (They’ve done some shows lately with Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall singing, and the Sex Pistols’ Glen Matlock playing bass in place of the late Ronnie Lane.) I can imagine no rational response to that news but deep, deep skepticism that it could possibly be any good, but who knows? Old farts are still capable of surprises, after all.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Fab footage of Rod Stewart and The Faces live at The Marquee Club in 1970
09:23 am


Rod Stewart
The Faces

Here’s some fine looking and sounding footage of The Faces performing at the Marquee Club in London in December of 1970. Filmed for German TV, the production is pro in every way. With a film crew on stage and shooting a matter of inches from Rod Stewart’s pretty face, you get a perspective on the lead singer formerly only seen by his dentist. For a Brit, his pearly whites are in extraordinarily good shape.

The set list:
You’re My Girl
Too Much Woman
Maybe I’m Amazed
Gasoline Alley
Around The Plynth

Ron Wood - guitar, Kenny Jones - drums, Ronnie Lane - bass guitar, Ian McLagen - keyboards.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Rod Stewart singing acapella in a Berlin alley in 1971
04:24 pm


Rod Stewart

Happy birthday Rod The Mod!

Sympathy For The Devil was a German TV series that ran for one 13 episode season from 1971 to ‘72. Here’s a clip from the show featuring birthday boy Rod Stewart doing acapella versions of “Gasoline Alley” and “Lady Day.”

Filmed amongst the rubble in the streets of Berlin, Stewart’s soulful voice echoes off the walls of weathered buildings and co-mingles with the sounds of birds and laughter of children. At the end of the clip you can hear a little kid mocking Stewart who mocks back.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Reason to Believe: Rod Stewart cries tears of joy when Celtic beat Barcelona, 2-1

Real men do cry, as the legendary Rod Stewart proved last night, when he burst into tears after his beloved Celtic F.C. beat ‘the world’s best soccer team’ Barcelona, 2-1, at their stadium in Glasgow.

While some wags thought Mr. Stewart must have lost his wallet to elicit such a response, I can attest, as a fellow Celtic supporter, tears of joy were more than understandable after such a tense and exciting, Champions League game. Now, here’s to the next one.


Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Season of the Witch: Julie Driscoll, nearly forgotten 60s pop diva

Sixties pop diva Julie Driscoll began her career as the president of the Yarbirds fanclub and their manager/producer, Giorgio Gomelsky encouraged her to try performing. She began singing professionally with The Steampacket, a group led by Long John Baldry and managed by Gomelsky. Driscoll sang alongside of the band’s male vocalist, Rod Stewart, and it was here that she met future musical partner Brian Auger. She and Auger left the group forming Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & the Trinity, co-billing the Driscoll’s full-throated vocals with the sound of Auger’s Hammond B3 organ. The act had a top five UK hit in 1968 with a version of Bob Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire,” a song made famous on The Band’s Music from the Big Pink, also released that year. Their other big hit was a suburb cover of Donovan’s “Season of the Witch.” Driscoll’s career took a more avant garde direction when she spilt from Auger, as she collaborated with members of Soft Machine on solo material.

Julie Driscoll’s powerful voice, striking good looks and distinctive fashion sense made her forever an icon of the late 60s Swinging London music scene, but her career never took off in America. Her way ahead-of-her-time manner of presenting herself as a female pop artist can be seen echoed today by the likes of Alison Goldfrapp (and in the Austin Powers movies!). She still performs, under her married name, Jullie Tippetts.

“Season of the Witch”

After the jump, two more amazing videos of Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment