Monthly Archives: August 2015

wrecking-crew

Documentary view — The Wrecking Crew (2008)

Chronicling the greatest group of musicians you never heard of, 2008’s The Wrecking Crew is a an affectionate, in-depth portrait of the crack session musicians behind some of the biggest hits in Rock ‘n Roll history. This elite group of LA sidemen was anonymous to the general public but omnipresent during the 1960s and 70s on smash hits by Phil Spector, The Beach Boys, Herb Alpert, Sonny & Cher, The Byrds, Frank Sinatra, Nancy Sinatra, the Mamas and the Poppas, The Righteous Brothers and Elvis Presley, to name just a few of the most prominent stars they recorded with. The Wrecking Crew also served as the real band behind ersatz music industry creations such as The Monkees and The Association, where the members did not actually play their own instruments on the records. Even on the first Byrds album, a real rock band that featured standout musicians like David Crosby and Gene Clark, it’s pretty much just Roger McGuinn and the Crew because producer Terry Melcher didn’t trust the others to play the session at first. As McGuinn slyly comments in the film, both “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Turn! Turn! Turn!” became Number 1 hits. But with just him and the Wrecking Crew, “Mr. Tambourine Man” and its B-side took about 3 hours. When all the Byrds got their chance to play on “Turn! Turn! Turn!”, that took about 77 takes.

If you’re at all interested in Rock folklore or have affection for the big pop hits of that ultra-well produced era, you’ve really got to check out this documentary. Directed by Danny Tedesco, the son of arguably the greatest and most versatile session guitarist of all time, the late Tommy Tedesco, and featuring interviews with the other greats of that exclusive club, The Wrecking Crew serves as a vital oral history of a pivotal era in American popular music. It also sheds an edifying light on a time where a handful of on call musicians worked 15-hour days and criss-crossed Los Angeles from studio to studio working one high powered session after another. Among the standouts profiled are the great electric bassist, Carol Kaye, who was groundbreaking not only because she was a woman but also because she was good enough to play an estimated 10,000 recording sessions in her career, contributing the bass hooks to pop culture artifacts like “The Beat Goes On”, “Windy” and the theme from “Mission: Impossible”. There’s a nice focus on the strong personalities of the impeccable drummers Hal Blaine and Earl Palmer, both Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Famers who helped form the thunderous backbeat of Spector’s immortal Wall of Sound and did less bombastic work on about a million other records. And then there are the Wrecking Crew alumni who graduated to front of the stage stardom, like Glenn Campbell, Leon Russel and Mack Rebennack aka Dr. John.

wreckingcrew-2

Ultimately a touching tribute and heartfelt salute to a fun-loving dad and his wonderfully individualistic collective of colleagues, Danny Tedesco’s affably personal piece highlights the very funny Tommy Tedesco’s wry humor and guitar genius but never at the expense of his equally talented and interesting peers. It also makes ample use of fantastic period footage and interviews with big time stars like Cher and Brian Wilson who the Wrecking Crew’s superlative talents helped make so successful. What comes across when those those big names reflect on that time is their heartfelt respect and appreciation for the invaluable musicianship and craft of the men and women who worked their sessions, made their hit records and more often than not didn’t even get an album credit. A must for the casual fan or hardcore Rock fanatic, The Wrecking Crew is both a delightful piece of nostalgia forever preserved in cinematic form and an important record of a vital but hidden behind-the-scenes part of the music industry that most of us never really knew existed. I can’t recommend it highly enough. And the best part is that it’s currently a free rental on Netflix so there’s no reason not to check it out. Chances are you’ll be blown away by the incredible number of Rock classics these session aces played on. I sure was.

OmegaSMDeVilleSIlver-3 copy

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — August selection, Pt. IV

Well, August is surely winding down to a close. But there’s still time for one more cool vintage watch to be offered up for your sartorial pleasure. It’s another classic 1960s Omega Semaster De Ville, this time the yin to the black dialed version’s yang with a stunning original silver sunburst dial in top Near Mint condition.

OmegaSMDeVilleSilver-5

Again unpolished and again all original, this timeless De Ville “unishell” is running strong and is pure class on the wrist. And heck, if you buy both this one and his black sibling you’ll have an instant, Mad Men-style wrist wardrobe just like that! Not too shabby, Alonso.

Check out the full ad with many more pictures and complete description over at the excellent Omega Forums’ Private Sales section.  SOLD

the-big-lebowski

Earworm of the day/A little Wednesday comedy

Ever since I flew back from vacation a few weeks ago and killed some time with the obligatory viewing of The Big Lebowski, this song has been rattling around my brain. You know the one — the psychedelic side of Kenny “The Gambler” Rogers? Who knew, right? Works on a few levels — period pop, ironic delight, its permalink with a cult classic movie. And, oh that Coen Brothers “video”!

Are you ready for the sequel?

JustinWilson

RIP Justin Wilson — 1978 – 2015

Very sad news today from the world of motorsport — racing driver Justin Wilson has died after suffering severe head injuries in last Sunday’s IndyCar race at Pocono Raceway. The English racer was struck by a large piece of debris at speed when Sage Karam’s car crashed into the wall late in the race. He was airlifted to nearby Lehigh Valley Hospital directly from the track but remained in a coma and passed away this past Monday evening. He is survived by his wife Julia, his two young daughters and his younger brother Stefan, who is also a professional racer. Wilson was 37.

IndyCar’s official statement is here.

The family’s statement with their charitable wishes is here.

Justin Wilson was an extremely talented driver who competed in the highest forms of motorsport on several different teams and in several different disciplines. Along the way, he overcame numerous serious injuries to continue racing, his lifelong calling. Working his way up through karting and the lower development divisions, Wilson then won the 2001 Formula 3000 championship and then got a Formula 1 ride with Minardi in 2003. Due to his unusual height — the lanky Englishman was a very un-pilot like 6’4″ — Minardi designed the car around Wilson. After outperforming senior teammate Jos Verstappen, Wilson jumped to Jaguar for the last races of the season, scoring his first Championship points at the US Grand Prix at Indianapolis. But due to that odd F1 paradox of talented drivers with insufficient sponsorship or personal funds being passed over for less gifted pay drivers, Wilson was bounced from his F1 seat and came to America to find work. And find it he did. He got a ride in Champ Car (precursor to indyCar) in 2004 and won his first race in that series in 2005 in Toronto. Wilson finished runner up or 3rd in that championship from 2005-7.

JustinWilson2

Wilson continued to race in America when Champ Car merged with the Indy Racing League to from today’s IndyCar series in 2008. He kept winning and worked hard to improve on the alien American oval tracks but always had trouble finding a long-term drive, probably due to the lack of personal money he could bring to a team. His management group eventually resorted to selling “shares” in Wilson to support his racing career. But like a throwback to a 1960s or 70s driver, Wilson hustled and competed in all forms of the sport, carrying his helmet to the 24 Hours of Le Mans early in his career, a win at the 2012 24 Hours of Daytona after several tries, multiple Indianapolis 500 starts, V8 Supercars in Australia and even Formula E this year. Simply put, Wilson was a professional driver who could make any car go faster and improve the performance of a chassis through his experience and valuable technical feedback, particularly on road courses.

And that’s how he came to be driving for Andretti Autosport this past Sunday after being signed for the last five races of the season. Continue reading

OmegaSMDeVilleBlack-4 copy

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — August selection, Pt. III

Summer may be gradually winding down but the good oscillations keep on coming with stylish and affordable vintage watches just waiting to make their way on to your wrist. Just in, this drop dead gorgeous Omega Seamaster De Ville from the late 1960s, real Mad Men material if I dare say so. What makes this fine vintage dress Omega a bit better than the rest is the beautiful original Near Mint gloss black dial.

OmegaSMDeVilleBlack-9 copy

During this period Omega simply didn’t produce many dress models with black dials — they’re almost all silver or white. So finding a survivor with its original black lacquer dial in such great shape is a real coup for Omega aficionados. There’s even a hint of tropical brown peeking through under bright light.

OmegaSMDeVilleBlack-bk copy

With a classic front loading “unishell” all-steel case in unpolished condition, this De Ville is a versatile and durable stunner. And with the redoubtable in-house Omega automatic caliber 552 under the hood you’ve got accurate timekeeping covered too. So whether you’re headed to pitch a new client or out for cocktails with that special someone, you’re guaranteed to arrive in impressive style.

Check out the complete ad with many more pictures, complete condition report and description over at Omega Forums’ Private Sales Forum.

LewisHamiltonF1GPBelgium2015

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Belgium — Results & aftermath

Hamilton back on form for Mercedes with dominant victory at Spa, Rosberg 2nd best; Grosjean surprises with fantastic P3 for Lotus

Photos via GrandPrix247.com

Photos via GrandPrix247.com

The Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Fracorchamps, the first race in anger after the long summer break at a legendary circuit renowned for drama and danger, did not disappoint. While Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton returned to form and stamped his authority on the race from pole to the checkered flag, all behind him was chaos. His teammate and closest rival, Nico Rosberg, had a poor start under the new “no clutch coaching” rules and was swamped immediately by the onrushing Williams of Valtteri Bottas, Sergio Perez’s Force India and Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull. While Rosberg would fight back to come home 2nd his chances of catching Hamilton were essentially doomed with that sluggish start. And now 28 points adrift, so might Nico’s chances of breaking Lewis’ stranglehold on the Drivers’ Championship.

Grosjean-F1GPBelgium2015

Aside from Hamilton’s renewed dominance, the other big story of the Belgian GP was Lotus’ Romain Grosjean. The mercurial Frenchman started from P9 after a a 5-spot grid penalty for an engine change on Friday. But Grosjean was undeterred and carved his way through the field, his improved Lotus chassis showing a fine balance of power and stability that suited the always tricky-fast Spa circuit. With the help of a good pit stop he emerged in 7th place on Lap 10. He passed Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull on Lap 18 for P4 and then Perez on Lap 20 to take P3. That seemed to convince Grosjean that was exactly where he belonged. By the end of the race and after another round of pit stops he was in hot pursuit of Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel for that last step on the podium with the laps  — and Vettel’s old tires on a one-stop strategy  — running out. And as fate would have it, on the penultimate lap Vettel’s right rear tire blew directly after the two cars tore up Eau Rouge nose to tail. Vettel suffered the ignominy of limping home with nearly the entire field passing him while an emotional Grosjean raced home for a much needed podium for beleaguered Lotus.

Red Bull’s Daniil Kvyat, who finished 2nd in the last Grand Prix in Hungary, had another outstanding drive on Sunday. Continue reading

HamiltonF1GPBelgium-Quali

2015 F1 Grand Prix of Belgium — Qualifying results

The summer break is over and it’s time to get back to racing in Formula 1. And where better to resume the season than the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit? Today was the first time in nearly a month to see who had the speed and who would take pole for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix. And the answer, much as it has been in the last 6 races, is…

Mercedes’ Hamilton picks up where he left off with 6th straight Pole, Rosberg 2nd fastest; Bottas boosts Williams with P3 in Qualifying

Photos courtesy GrandPrix247.com

Photos via GrandPrix247.com

Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, the current Drivers’ Championship leader, came back from the summer break and his slow-paced Caribbean vacation just as fast as ever. In typical fashion, the Englishman wrung every ounce of performance out of his car at mythic Spa-Francorchamps on Saturday to grab his 6th consecutive pole position. That made it an astonishing 10 poles for Hamilton in 11 races so far in 2015. Possessing the fastest chassis by far and the fastest driver, the Mercedes factory team has now clinched pole in every race this season. Hamilton’s teammate and closest championship pursuer, German Nico Rosberg, was perhaps running slightly more downforce after his harrowing blown-tire shunt in Friday practice and took P2 to lock out the front row for the Silver Arrows yet again.

Williams got a nice lift after a string of lackluster pre-break results when young Finn Valtteri Bottas was able to secure P3 on the grid. It was a very good effort from Bottas, who surely must have been smarting after learning the news that Ferrari had re-signed the enigmatic and erratic Kimi Raikkonen through next year’s season despite all speculation to the contrary. Bottas’ Williams teammate, former Ferrari hand Felipe Massa, was not as quick in the same machinery and could muster no better than the 7th best time of the day. Lotus’ Romain Grosjean had a remarkably good performance to come home P4 for the troubled team, easily the surprise of the session. However, the Frenchman will still have to serve a 5-spot grid penalty for a gearbox change on Friday. His teammate, the much-maligned Pastor Maldonado, was also unusually strong with the eighth fastest time in Q3. Also stepping up his game was Force India’s Sergio Perez who grabbed an impressive 5th spot on the grid and really seemed to get the most out of his car on this tricky, high speed course.

At the other end of the spectrum Red Bull and Ferrari must have been extremely disappointed, with both teams getting only one car through to the final shootout in Q3. Daniel Ricciardo took P6 but his teammate Daniil Kvyat was bounced out in Q2 and will start P12 after finishing runner up in the last race at the Hungaroring. It was arguably even worse for Ferrari, with their race winner in Hungary, Sebastian Vettel, unable to do better than a P9 start at Spa and the star-crossed Raikonnen suffering what sounded like terminal transmission failure in Q2. The Finnish veteran, who was retained by Ferrari for next year despite all the prevailing omens, will have to fight his way up from 14th on the grid. 20-year-old Toro Rosso rookie Carlos Sainz grabbed the last spot in the top 10, outdoing his 17-year-old teammate, Max Verstappen (P15), who didn’t really push his car after some drive issues in Q2 because he will face a large grid penalty for engine changes anyway.

Top 10 Qualifiers for tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix:

POS. NO. DRIVER TEAM Q1 Q2 Q3 LAPS
1 44 LEWIS HAMILTON  MERCEDES 1:48.908 1:48.024 1:47.197 16
2 6 NICO ROSBERG  MERCEDES 1:48.923 1:47.955 1:47.655 17
3 77 VALTTERI  BOTTAS  WILLIAMS 1:49.026 1:49.044 1:48.537 19
4 8 ROMAIN GROSJEAN  LOTUS 1:49.353 1:48.981 1:48.561 17
5 11 SERGIO PEREZ  FORCE INDIA 1:49.006 1:48.792 1:48.599 16
6 3 DANIEL RICCIARDO  RED BULL RACING 1:49.664 1:49.042 1:48.639 17
7 19 FELIPE MASSA  WILLIAMS 1:49.688 1:48.806 1:48.685 15
8 13 PASTOR MALDONADO  LOTUS 1:49.568 1:48.956 1:48.754 17
9 5 SEBASTIAN VETTEL  FERRARI 1:49.264 1:48.761 1:48.825 17
10 55 CARLOS SAINZ  TORO ROSSO 1:49.109 1:49.065 1:49.771 1

Complete Qualifying results via Formula1.com.

Tomorrow’s Belgian Grand Prix will also see the debut of a refinement to the starting rules by banning team communication to the drivers as regards clutch bite point and other on-the-fly adjustments durning the warm up laps. That assumed lack of precision could make for a tricky and possibly dangerous start, as the drivers will have to figure out the perfect bite point themselves, which could lead to a stalled car in front of others rocketing forward or just a lurching start in general. Hopefully, despite the good intention of returning more control of the racing to the drivers, the FIA hasn’t gone two steps back on safety.

Tune in tomorrow to see how that tricky start shakes out and whether Mercedes can get back to dominating races the way they’ve dominated qualifying throughout the year. Who knows, maybe a wild card like Force India’s Sergio Perez will finally pull off a major upset on a track that seems to suit him? Find out how it all goes down live on NBC Sports Network here in the states starting at 8AM Eastern. Hope to see you then!

Longines30L-9 copy

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — August selection, Pt. II

The second of my Swedish “souvenirs” is this wonderful early 1960s Longines caliber 30L in all-stainless steel screw back case and featuring a stunning deco-numeral dial. In fact, I’ve got confirmation through Longines’ excellent heritage department that this watch was originally sold in Sweden in 1961, so it’s a true Scandinavian native.

Longines30L-move copy

 

Vintage Longines are without a doubt grossly undervalued and I really feel there’s nowhere to go but up for them considering their overall quality. So buying good examples at current levels makes good sense in my book. But trumping any potential investment considerations is the sheer style of this watch. At 35mm it wears big with good wrist precense because of the large face, slim bezel and elongated lugs. The deco numerals are really unusual and distinctively classy. And under the hood, the 30L manual mind movement is very highly regarded with an oversized balance for superior accuracy. All in all, an elegant statement on the wrist powered by a wonderful in-house movement from one of the great manufacturers of Switzerland. And at well under $1k, what more could you ask for?

Longines30L-5 copy

Check out the full ad with many more pictures and complete description over at Timezone’s Sales Corner  SOLD

GPConnieNoLume-5 copy2jpg

tomvox1’s Watches for Sale — August selection, Pt. I

As a souvenir from my recent holiday in Sweden I managed to take home this brilliantly well-preserved vintage Omega Constellation from the early 1960s. While its classic gold-capped “dog leg” or “grasshopper”-lugged case in unpolished condition is awfully nice, the real star of the the show is the amazingly flawless and Mint original non-luminous dial.

GPConnieNoLume-1 copy

The dials of this era were prone to spotting or “pimpling” as they aged, which is certainly not the end of the world in vintage watch. But to find an example that has made it through its 50+ years without this defect is pretty remarkable.

GPConnieNoLume-move copy

Additionally, Omega’s movements by this point in their history are really some of the best mass-produced calibers in horology history. The 24-jewel, Adjusted to 5 Positions & Temperature, Chronometer-rated cal. 551 under the hood of this reference 167.005 Constellation is certainly no exception.

GPConnieNoLume-bk copy

All in all, a special piece for the discerning collector at a fair price befitting its outstanding overall quality. Better jump on it quickly!

You can check out the complete ad with many more pics and full condition report over at the excellent OmegaForums’ Private Sales Corner.  SOLD

maxresdefault

What We’re Watching – Billabong’s “Pump!”

Even though summer still beats down on us, a surf movie may seem an odd choice for a serious film recommendation, but that’s how I’m offering it to you. Aside from Bruce Brown’s “Endless Summer” and perhaps one or two other exceptions, most surf movies can not fairly be called movies at all. They are more accurately known as “videos” – a collection of impressive surfing snippets set to some popular music of the day, without much in the way of structure, designed more to trigger memories of one’s own surf sessions or inspire one to new heights, all while steadfastly promoting a brand by unapologetically hyping the surfers who are sponsored by that brand. If you’re a surfer, they’re really fun to watch but never go beyond the fun one can find these days by watching a succession of surfing clips on Youtube. They don’t transcend themselves. They’re not movies. The one exception to this rule however, is Billabong’s Pump!.

PUMP-Billabong-Surf-DVD-NEW-amp-Sealed__61q4kO5vDtL

Pump!, produced by surf clothing company Billabong and directed by famed surf movie director Jack McCoy, was released in 1990. On its surface, Pump! essentially sticks to the same model as other surf flicks of the 80’s, with college/alternative rock playing over the surf clips and not much else of anything to drive the film form start to finish. What elevates Pump! to feature movie level however, is the subtext within these otherwise ordinary choices.
First you have the surfers themselves. The film features many members of the Billabong team circa 1990, but two emerge quickly and wordlessly as the films protagonists- Mark Occhilupo and Richie Collins. In 1990, Mark Occhilupo (known more commonly as Occy) was a bit of a mess. Just 5 years earlier he’d been one of the top ranked pro surfers on the planet, but in 1988 he gave in fully to the pressures of super-stardom and fell into a cycle of drug abuse and depression. Up until the late 90’s (when he staged a legendary comeback and finally became the world champion) his life was marked by excesses of all kinds, manifesting publicly in cycles of huge weight gains and losses, along with attempted comebacks and glimmers of glory followed quickly by his immediate disappearance again. Pump! catches him in his periods of top form during this time. While he may appear a bit off his top form physically in one or two scenes, his surfing is incredible. The only dialogue we hear in the entire movie is a voice-over leading into one segment where Occy, in his thick Aussie twang, briefly describes his loss of appetite for competition and newfound focus on free (non-competitive) surfing. Pump! catches Occy in limbo in more ways than one, and what may have been thought of (at least by Billabong) as a chance to present their fading star as still being the invincible hero of recent memory, was instead presented by McCoy as a man with incredible gifts who is in a game of chicken with fate. While his skill seems as untouchable as ever, his future does not.

Continue reading