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Song Remains the Same: what might have been

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Sitting here in awe watching the DA Pennebaker 1973 movie of Bowie's "last" concert on BBC 4. Ashamed that it's on the long list of things I should have seen/heard/done when I was younger ..

Absolutely awesome : deliberate, studied, deeply artistic filming : as much artistry and flamboyance in the direction as there is in the show itself.

It's a reminder of all that was available in the visual culture of that era. Pennebaker had memorably worked in the past with Bob Dylan on the Subterranean Homesick Blues sequence .. there was so much stunning invention , and a seamless link between musical and visual creativity.

So - MUCH as I have loved watching The Song Remains the Same, and the other visual records of Zep in performance - I feel so cheated :

that the one time they commissioned people to make a movie... we got something so pedestrian / cheesy ..

Of course I love it to bits, and in the days when everything was so inaccessible it was a rare and precious glimpse of this band playing live. ..

But you only have to look at the way visual ideas were manipulated in other ways - particularly by Jimmy - to see how this film falls short. For a start, every album sleeve is a joy, designed to a level of creativity which matches its musical content. And with Jimmy involved in / in touch with avant-garde film making as he obviously was ... it would seem that his extreme quality control, and familiarity with experimental film making, would make him seek out something very unusual for this movie..

Obviously the film was shot by several directors over several years .. we know that, and of course it doesn't help ... but it more or less coincides with e.g. the Physical Graffiti album sleeve ... and the gap in imagination and artistry between the two is glaring ..

I don't really get why that is.

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