Saturday, November 20, 2010

DVD Review: Bob Lind - Perspective

Text © Robert Barry Francos/FFanzeen, 2010
Images from the Internet

Bob Lind Perspective
Produced by Paul Surratt, 2010
93 minutes, USD $20.00

If you don’t mind the paraphrasing, the world is just a document’ry / about Lind’s life and times…

As did most of my generation, I grew up listening to Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.” When it came on the radio I enjoyed it, but never searched any further. Then in the late ‘70s, John Otway barreled through a cover of Lind’s “Cheryl’s Going Home,” one of Lind’s multi-covered tunes, though I hadn’t heard it before. Great song, I thought, and not only because of Otway’s own wonderful spin. Hmmm, there’s more to this Lind guy than “Butterfly,” I was coming to realize.

Luckily, in those heady ‘70s record collecting days of scouring the stores, I came across Lind’s Don’t Be Concerned LP (arranged by Jack Nietzsche), which contained both “Butterfly” and “Cheryl.” But I learned something else: there was not a bad cut on the entire album. Seriously, every song was a wonder, from “Mr. Zero” to “Unlock the Door,” “Truly Julie’s Blues,” “Dale Ann,” and right to “I Can’t Walk Roads of Anger.” Not a bad cut.

I found one other album, The Elusive Bob Lind (recorded before Concerned, but released after), which was also a treasure, and that’s been it. There were a couple of other albums, released in ’66 and ’71, along with some “best ofs,” but I never saw them. Considering how great his music was, and since there was so little out there, I just figured he either retired or died. Remember, there was no Internet back then, so it was not always easy to check.

Then not too many years ago, I found out through YouTube that he was indeed still kicking and performing, and I wrote him a fan email, which he answered. Through Wikipedia, more recently I found out that: “Lind retired from the music industry in 1969 to pursue other interests. In more recent years he has resided in Florida and works as a writer. He is the author of five novels, and has written for such supermarket tabloids as the Weekly World News and the Sun. Lind returned to music in 2004, when he began performing again.”

A few years after that first email (i.e., last month), I heard that he has just released a new DVD of a performance from a 2006 tour. Again, I wrote to him, and now I have had the chance to see it, and have learned so much more about the music, and especially about the man.

The crux of the DVD is a live concert, taped in front of a small, invited audience at the intimate Blue Palm Studios in North Hollywood. Lind, with the help of guitarist Jamie Hoover (Spongetones, Smithereens), has assembled a fine assortment of musicians to back him: Dave Carpenter on both stand-up and electric bass, indie folk alt rocker Matt Cook on electric keyboards, and rock soul pop drummer Kevin Jarvis. Despite the age differences among the ensemble, they all work together well.

Between the songs is a compilation of interviews from various sources, such as Art Fein’s Poker Party, hosted by music historians/fans, and an on-air interview on The Many Moods of Ben Vaughn, who is also a musician. Thrown into the mix occasionally of the Poker Party footage, is DVD producer Paul Surratt (who was in the Shilohs with Graham Parsons back in the early ‘60s), and Lind’s manager, Jill Guerra. The concert and the interviews are all taped during the 2006 tour.

It’s nice how the interview segment topics flow into the particular song he about to sing, sometimes in imaginative ways. Also, it was smart to put the interviews at the end of each track rather than at the beginning, so if you want to just listen to the music after a couple of viewings, you can skip right to that.

Bob Lind’s genre has changed a bit, hardly drastically though. Used to be he was a singer-songwriter (“I’m not a folk singer; I’m not a rocker”), at least what I heard of him on vinyl, never having seen him live, but on the DVD he has grown, and the numbers with the band have more of a jazzy feel, such as the Gershwin-esque “I Like Your Company Tonight”; however, he definitely has his idiosyncratic style intact. I imagine him as an ice skater: his vocal glide over certain phrases of songs, and then does a maneuver, usually a staccato-ish pacing over minor chords, switching seamlessly back and forth. Quite the joy to just sit back and listen.

When he plays with the band, he switches back and forth from guitar to piano, but his solo material, which is closer in form to his earlier work, is strictly acoustic guitar. The Dylan (and I would add Phil Ochs) influence of being lyrical is pretty obvious, but we learn that Lind also has a strong passion for early doo-wop (even though it’s not really reflected in his music), having grown up listening to it back in Denver; he even saw a few shows as a youngster, including Chuck Berry.

The interview segments show off some aspects of Lind’s personality: he is brutally honest (that’s why so much of his material is so poignant, in my opinion), and he is definitely a hardass. Perhaps it was his years of drug and alcohol abuse, maybe being trampled over by the music industry. Whatever, he is a force; though he admits he’s finding it a bit easier these days to give in and compromise in some aspects, but not about his own music.

Some of the other topics include working with Jack Nietzsche (some of Lind’s best earlier material was with him, in my opinion), how he was living on the residuals of people having covered his music after he quit because he was tired of the business of the music business, until he started writing novels and fictitious bits for tabloid journals like the World Weekly News (he even had his hand in the infamous Bat Boy series, I’m happy to report), and how he’d rather be both feeling what he feels, and getting the audience to feel it too (“like when I listen to Richie Havens,” he states).

The performed songs here range from old to recent. Lind clearly states that while he does not like the oldies circuit (“I don’t want to dish up memories; I’m still moving”), he doesn’t mind doing some of his classics along with the newer material. And as he says and clearly proves, he does his songs differently now than then.

There is a lot of interesting material here, such as “Two Women” and “Looking For You,” two songs about choices, both good and bad, and “China,” which has a feel like his earlier work. Most of the tunes are, as I stated above, done with a slight jazz feel, like the sometimes humorous “How to Get Depressed,” and “Spilling Over.”

This DIYer is a really good way to get to know Bob Lind the artist from various aspects of his life and music. I’d love to see even more of his concerts released, and I look forward to some new songs.

Roll the Windows Down (with band)
Cheryl's Going Home (with band)
Spilling Over (with band)
How to Get Depressed (with band)
I Like Your Company Tonight (with band)
Love Came Riding (solo acoustic)
Looking For You (solo acoustic)
Two Women (with band)
China (with band)
Wearing You (solo acoustic)
Perspective (solo acoustic)
Elusive Butterfly (with band)
Someone to Adore (solo acoustic)

Postcript on 11/22/10: I have heard from Bob Lind about this review, and this is what he had to say (reprinted with his permission).
Wow Robert. So great to read something on me from someone who does his homework and gets his facts straight. Plus you bring such passion to your work. I appreciate it. All the best, Bob.

From the DVD:

Bonus Video: My favorite early Lind song

Bonus Bonus Video:

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