Saturday, April 30, 2022

"Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind" Review and Another Garage Rock Playlist - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Sugar-Apple"

On this episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM I really didn't speak too much beyond announcing the tracks I played so instead I'd like to focus on this week's movie suggestion. 

Earlier this week I watched the 2020 documentary on the actress Natalie Wood titled What Remains Behind which admirably focuses more on her career and life as a mother rather than her mysterious demise which, unfortunately, has overshadowed her accomplishments as a woman in a male dominated industry. Although the film clearly states that Wood's death is not the film's sole subject, as a viewer you can't help but feel like you are watching a movie in which you already know the ending, and in a sense, you cannot help but watch without a sense of dread or macabre curiosity. 

 

However, Wood's life is such an interesting subject that you soon begin to feel as though the film would have been better suited as a miniseries. You rush through decades of film history with passing glances of Wood's troubled upbringing and all but slight mentions of important moments in the young actress' career such as when she was suspended by Warner Brothers over what they claimed was financial disputes but was later found to be problems surrounding the roles Wood was given and, more importantly, her input over the roles in which she was cast. Of course, Wood's love life and other more salacious tabloid-esque topics are covered in the film as well but, as with most things in the documentary, everything happens so quickly that you don't have a chance to unwrap what's being presented to you. Again, you can write much of that off due to the film's runtime, but one glaring issue with the film is how it seems that the narrative was closely guided, and perhaps completely steered by Wood's family, especially her eldest daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner who serves as the film's host.

Home movie footage of Wood and Wagner
 

Whenever you get glimpses of the more controversial parts of Wood's life the film quickly pivots or minimizes the events as if they felt the need to address the issues without exploring them more in depth. One example that stood out to me most was a suicide attempt by Wood in which she purposefully took a large amount of sleeping pills but in a moment of clarity she sought the help of her friend Mart Crowley, who was able to get Wood the medical assistance which ultimately saved her life. While discussing the event, Gregson Wagner explains how she views the moment as a "cry for help" and how she doesn't view the event as a legitimate suicide attempt because, in Gregson Wagner's words: "After she swallowed the pills, she banged on Mart’s door so obviously, she wanted to live." After that, we are briefly shown how Wood sought out therapy which helped her find mental clarity.

As the film continues there are moments that serve as a sort of love letter from a family still mourning the sudden loss of a mother. After the film's halfway point, we are presented with home recordings and archival footage of Wood with her friends and family boating, talking at social events, and simply enjoying life. You see a young mother that seeks to live a normal, albeit more grandiose life, surrounded by those she cares about most and, if you take the viewpoint of her children, you understand why the film chooses to focus on Wood's motherhood. Although Wood was an extremely famous actress, to her children, she was simply a mother and, much like our own mothers, she should not be defined solely by her occupation. 

Robert Wagner interviewed by his step-daughter Natasha

Unfortunately, the family's influence on the documentary becomes ever apparent once you reach the film's climax. When exploring Wood's death, we are presented with one of the film's lengthier interviews which is between Natasha Gregson Wagner and her step-father Robert Wagner, who Gregson Wagner affectionately calls "Daddy Wagner." The sole purpose of the interview is to establish Wagner's innocence surrounding Wood's mysterious demise and place blame on the media for continued exposure on what Wood's family believes is an open and shut case of an accidental death. During this section of the film, we are presented with the disgusting way in which the media hounded the Wood family and disregarded their privacy by photographing them in vulnerable moments including Wood's burial. Soon, Wood's sister Lana Wood, as well as the captain of Wood's yacht, Dennis Davern, are presented as cash hungry and exploitative due to their continued calls to re-open the investigation into the night of Wood's death. Davern famously wrote his own explanation of Wood's passing and later stated that he was pressured by Robert Wagner to stay silent about what really happened to Wood. To me, the press, as well as, Davern and Lana Wood's portrayals are obviously skewed by the family's emphasis on Robert Wagner's innocence.

Ultimately, we'll most likely never know what happened that night near Santa Catalina Island but the film's tone towards the event doesn't help bring us any closer towards clarity regardless of the family's wishes for the world to move on. Despite all the flaws I listed above, I still think the film is worth checking out for its intimate glimpses into Wood's life and for its ability to humanize a former star whose life was lost just as she was hitting another stride in her career. Although there are hints of an agenda set by Wood's family, it is touching seeing their point of view with regards to how their time was spent with their mother. You get a stronger sense of loss by hearing Wood's family and friends talk about her than you would by reading all the accounts surrounding her death. With the film's short runtime you can't expect to dive too deeply into the totality of Natalie Wood's life but, for what it's worth, this film is one of the most detailed documentaries based on the actress' life beyond the mystery surrounding her death.

And that's it for this week's post! It may have been more of a review than most of the other posts but I appreciate you sticking through to find this week's playlist below. Be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Sundays at midnight, or on Mondays at 10pm PST. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In.


Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Paul Martin and Skinnie Minnie! Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Silverbeet"

On this episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM you heard a fuzzy and somewhat moody banger by an unusual artist that went by the name Paul Martin. During the 1960s Martin released two singles, one through the Philadelphia based Impex Records and the other via his own label Rodin Records. In the 90s the singles were combined with a series of unreleased demos to make up a self-titled album released by Distortions Records and in 2016, the recordings were remastered and compiled again, this time adding an additional unreleased track, The Children. These versions were released on an album titled It Happened by Out-Sider Records. 

Paul Martin singing The Last Remains of Our Love
 

If you are interested in buying either the Distortions or Out-Sider releases I'd say there isn't much of a difference between the two but, Out-Sider's definitely has the better liner notes and is more accessible nowadays. To me, the most interesting tracks on either release are the more garage rock type songs but there aren't many. Most of Martin's songs are less appealing jangley affairs that, while worthy of a listen, probably won't stand out too much to most people. I found myself skipping a few tracks that include horn sections, but maybe that's just me. Horn sections are by far my least favorite thing about 60s rock and are the reason I often find myself ignoring a lot of music that's categorized as Sunshine Pop. Curiously, each release omits the B-side to Martin's first release I Can't Stay Here Anymore which I haven't been able to find anywhere online. If I were to guess why the track has seemingly disappeared, I'd probably say the track was left out for royalty reasons.

And now I'll quickly sum up some of the other topics I covered during this episode. 

Towards the middle of the show, you heard The Zettlers' Skinnie Minnie, which is a cover Bill Haley and The Comets' Skinny Minnie. On The Zettler's initial release, the song was incorrectly attributed to the writers of Teresa Brewer's Skinnie Minnie, which is a novelty song about a fisherman that fishes too much as he searches for a mermaid. There have been a ton of covers of Skinny Minnie over the years but some of my personal favorites are by The Sonics, The Mummies, and Gerry and the Pacemakers.

After that, you heard a song by The Wrench titled The Day Is Hard which reminded me of a video by the YouTuber Hand Tool Rescue in which he recreates an unusual wrench that was made for tightening down cone shaped fasteners. Hand Tool Rescue's process of recreating the tool is as interesting as the tool itself which, according to the video's creator, was most-likely was never made to begin with. If you like DIY or hobby machining you'll probably dig this video.

 

And finally, you heard The Four of Us perform their song Baby Blue which I mentioned was the title of a song by another group named The Warlocks. If you like early 2000s neo-psych than you probably already know The Warlocks but if you don't I'd highly suggest you start with their 2003 release Phoenix which features some of their best work including: Hurricane Heart Attack and The Dope Feels Good. Back in 2010 they played here in Riverside at The Barn and they put on quite the show.

And that's it for this episode! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Sundays at midnight, or on Mondays at 10pm PST. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In.


Saturday, April 9, 2022

Freediving Back From The Grave - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Coriander"

This episode of Hippie Love Turbo, on KUCR 88.3 FM left my head spinning with all the psyched-out guitars, wild basslines, and beastly garage rock drums. Besides the music, let's check out some of the topics I covered.

First, you head a song by The Henchman titled Livin' which I found on Back From The Grave Volume 5. As you probably know by now, I really dig the Pebbles and Nuggets compilations, however, the genres float around quite a bit over each release whereas the Back From The Grave series is laser focused on garage rock. Back From The Grave differentiates itself with its gritty, almost punk sounds, but what stands out most is how the series features a ton of obscure bands that were often overlooked on earlier and more popular comps. I won't pretend that every song on each volume of Back From The Grave is perfect, but there are a lot more hits than misses which, unfortunately, can't be said about most compilations. 

Guillaume Néryas seen in this National Geographic short
 

Later in the show you heard a song by Ronnie Fuller named Do The Dive and, as is tradition, the title of the song led me to ramble on about another semi-related topic. This time it was freediving, which is a type of diving which requires a minimal amount of equipment with a heavy focus on breath holding techniques and physical endurance. If you haven't seen it before, beware, because just watching people freedive can be enough to make your pulse race. Fun stuff.

And quickly I'll mention the last two things I touched on, such as the wide assortment of wheelie world records, and Disney's recycled animations, as seen in 1973's Robin Hood. Exciting stuff.

Anywho, that's it for this episode! Thanks for reading the blog and be sure to listen over the air on KUCR 88.3FM on Sundays at midnight, or on Mondays at 10pm PST. You can also listen through KUCR.org, Radio Garden, or Tune-In.


The Many Boots That Are Made For Walkin' - Hippie Love Turbo Radio Show - Code Word "Soursop"

On this episode of Hippie Love Turbo , on KUCR 88.3 FM we started the show off with a Spanish cover of These Boots Are Made for Walkin'...