Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Go see Sample This the Movie

My Mommy is a fucking rockstar!! If you love music, go see her in the documentary Sample This. It's playing at the Lammele Noho until Friday Sept. 19th. Antz and I went to the screening of this film last year. I was crying like an idiot full of pride hearing my Mommy speak about her extensive career. She is an amazing woman and there's no one like her. I hope Olivia has inherited her ambition, her passion and her talent.

Here's a few reviews of the documentary. It's really a fascinating story.

Film Review: Sample This

We’ve all danced at some time another to the rhythmic “Apache,” even if we didn’t know it, and this highly enjoyable doc reveals the incredibly colorful and variegated tale behind it.

Sept 12, 2013
-By David Noh


For movie details, please click here.
Nothing less than a loose but pretty exhaustive history of pop music in the last 50 years or so, Dan Forrer’s Sample This focuses on the great drummers who’ve kept the beat going from Bing Crosby to today’s hip hop. He frames his film around the story of producer Michael Viner (1944-2009), whose Incredible Bongo Band, comprised of the best percussionists of the day, created the seminal instrumental “Apache,” probably the most ubiquitously sampled record in music history.

Viner had a colorful, huckster-ish life, starting with his first novelty hit, “The Best of Marcel Marceao” (with that curious spelling) consisting of total mime-silence followed by applause. He was one of those fluke geniuses who managed to corral big talent with, in the case of “Apache,” fabulously enduring, unexpected results. Forrer’s doc is densely populated by interviews with those unsung heroes of an age: the bewilderingly virtuosic studio musicians who’ve hung in there long after the stars they’ve worked with, from Sinatra to Presley to Amy Winehouse, crashed and burned. Legendary names like Michael Melvoin, Perry Botkin, Jerry Scheff, Jerry Butler, Robbie King, Mike Deasy and the great bongo-banging Bobbye Hall are interviewed or, if deceased, gloriously evoked.

These music guys also had serious interactions with history, like Viner, whose pal Roosevelt Grier was right there when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated (and who appeared in the outlandish Viner-produced The Thing with Two Heads, his skull grafted onto the body of Ray MiIlland—or was it vice versa?). Mike Deasy, now a born-again preacher after serious drug years, had a connection to Charles Manson and was a friend of producer Terry Melcher, who owned the house were Sharon Tate and friends were murdered.
Although many of these musicians are miraculously hale and hearty—and prove thus in a recent Incredible Bongo Band reunion session, jamming away on the “Hawaii FIve-0” theme—the tale of one of their number, charismatic drummer Jim Gordon, is not only cautionary but horrific. After a blazingly bright career, he bottomed out on drugs and alcohol, became “possessed” by demons and gruesomely murdered his mother, for which he is still serving time.

Through so many of these events, however, the irresistibly funky “Apache” lived on and was rediscovered by DJ Kool Herc in the 1970s, who sampled its drum breaks while spinning music for ecstatically enthusiastic New York dance crowds. As rap and hip hop music rose to the predominance it now enjoys, countless other artists also employed it to juice up their own tracks, and continue to do so. As one pundit puts it here, “There is nothing more hip or hop than ‘Apache.’” Forrer charts the rise of hip hop culture, with its attendant, still extant highlights of “scratching” and break-dancing, with affectionate incisiveness through interviews with Herc, Afrika Bambaata, Melle Mel and Grandmaster Caz, giving his film a really universal appeal to music lovers, whether they’re into rock or rap, and showing how true talent can truly encompass all genres.


Sample This: Film Review

Sample This - H 2013

The Bottom Line

This improbably fascinating documentary will be manna from heaven to pop culture devotees.


Dan Forrer


Gene Simmons

Dan Forrer's documentary delves into the history of the little-known instrumental song that became one of the most sampled tracks in pop music history.

For a film about a little-known song by a now forgotten band, Sample This manages to weave in a wealth of pop culture wanderings into its tapestry. The song, “Apache,” originally appeared on a 1973 album by Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band, a group of studio musicians assembled by Viner, a producer whose previous credits included the hit novelty album The Best of Marcel Marceau, which consisted of silence followed by the sound of audience clapping. While the song made little impact initially, it was later discovered by DJs and hip-hop artists and improbably went on to become one of the most sampled tracks in pop music history.
But that’s not even the most compelling element of Dan Forrer’s entertaining if disjointed documentary, which delves into the history of the track and its creators with a near obsessive attention to detail. Among the colorful elements featured in the film are the assassination of Robert Kennedy (a young Viner was one of his aides); the campy horror film The Thing With Two Heads; the Charles Manson murders; the possible participation of Ringo Starr on the album; and the notorious gangster Johnny Roselli and his possible role in the CIA’s plot to kill Fidel Castro and the subsequent JFK assassination.
“Apache,” which one onscreen commentator describes as “the national anthem of hip-hop,” was originally written by a British songwriter inspired by American westerns and recorded by the band The Shadows. The obscure instrumental was later covered by the Incredible Bongo Band, which had been created by Viner to contribute a couple of songs to the soundtrack of The Thing With Two Heads, which starred the improbable onscreen duo of Rosey Grier and Ray Milland.
The song languished in obscurity until it was rediscovered a few years later by DJ Kook Herk, who made it a staple of his Bronx dance parties. It was later covered by The Sugarhill Gang and eventually became a hip-hop staple, used by artists including Missy Elliot, Amy Winehouse, Nas, LL Cool J, The Roots and countless others.
While the film narrated by Gene Simmons largely eschews delving into exploring the cultural impact of sampling on pop music, it endlessly explores the fascinating characters involved in the song’s creation and evolution. Among the members of the Incredible Bongo Band were such musicians as guitarist Mike Deasey, who was once briefly had a connection with Manson; drummer Jim Gordon, who later suffered from severe emotional illness and went to prison for killing his mother; and bongo player King Errisson, who was befriended in Jamaica by Sean Connery during the filming of Thunderball.
It’s a fascinatingly eccentric, if digressive, tale, recounted through a combination of archival footage and interviews with such figures as Afrika Bambaataa, Questlove, Freda Payne, Melle Mel and Jerry Butler, among many others. A joyous coda features the band’s surviving members reuniting to jam on the Hawaii Five-0 theme song.

Opens: Friday, Sept. 13 (GoDigital, Inc.)
Director/screenwriter: Dan Forrer
Producer: Bob Burris
Director of photography: Philip Hurn
Editor: Michael Levine
Composer: Perry Botkin Jr.
Not rated, 85 minutes

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