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Friday, March 15, 2013

Listen to the music, American Hot Wax review

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                  American hot wax was an inexpensively made movie that chronicles a short time in the life of a man most of the younger generation knows nothing about.Alan Freed (played by Tim McIntyre) was a radio DJ in Cleavland ,Ohio , then in New York and so on and refused to stop playing what some people of the time referred to as the devils music.It was said that this music stole or took control of your soul and made you stand up and flail about like someone possessed.
                  It takes place during a different time in America where people say we lost our innocence because teenagers were beginning to be more open about sexuality. Not that they weren't aware of their sexuality before, they just weren't so open about it. But that didn't stop them from putting up news footage of war erupting in Vietnam. That was alright because it was news I guess.
                  This movie was released in the mid seventies and it was in this decade that American teenagers were not only listening to what we called psychedelic rock and hard rock and contemporary rock but we had a great curiosity in the beginnings or the developing of rock and roll in the 1950's. This was probably partly to the credit of a new group that emerged around 1970 called Sha-na-na who were originally an accapella group who started doing doo-wop music from the 50's(catch their 90 secs. at Woodstock which launched their career) which launched a craze and along came American Graffiti ,the tv hit Happy Days, and the movie Grease(Sha-na-na was  in Grease as the band at the high school dance) and the subject of this review American Hot Wax.
                  It(American hot wax) was a low budget film that had huge success at the box office and was at one time very hard to get on DVD (now available at Alan Freed is credited in the movie as coining the phrase "rock and roll" and critics have since called them on it because it was once a slang term for having sex which you might say is equivalent to today when they say they "hooked up with" but he is the first one to connect it with rock and roll because the critics of the day thought the music made kids get crazy and do unbelievable things like have sex.(Of course these were those people who lived under a proverbial rock) Alan Freed also put together the first mainstream Rock and Roll show and that is what this movie chronicle the week before the anniversary show of that concert and all the trouble he was given by the powers that be trying to stop the evolution of the music.
                 My reason for starting this article was about the great sound the music of that era had. It actually sounded simplistic but when you break it down, there were a lot of parts that today are played by stringed instruments that they did with vocals. Doo Wop got it's name because of the sometimes background accompaniment like doo wop diddy diddy and others were dip dee dip dee dip likem this song says
   who put the bomp in the bomp bomp bomp

  which was not in the film but may give you an idea of what I'm talking about. In the scene below ,I wish it started at an earlier point, a fictional group in the movie are going to record an actual song of the era and the producer is having trouble getting the right sound and the group wont listen to him until Alan shows up and tells them to give him the leadership so he tells which person or persons what to sing and then points to them to come in as a conductor would with an orchestra and the end result is great. all the bass sounds are from a voice as well as where today you would have lead guitar is done by a falsetto singing voice.And then the sax(wish it was still in there in some of todays music) give it a listen

or maybe more like this song when groups didn't have all the instruments so they filled in with their voices

   One last thing, Alan Freed was run out of town and died penniless, very sad. But not before stating in the movie anyway"you can stop me, theres no way to stop rock and roll". Also its worth mentioning there is music from beginning to end including performances by Chuck Berry and the Killer who gets a scene where at concert the lights come on  and he thanks the police for doing their job and Alan Freed for doing his and now turn down the damn lights and let Jerry Lee do his job.And Chuck berry when informed he won't get paid because the IRS seized the box office money says he ain't doin it for money, I'm doin' it for "rock and roll" The movie also stars a very young Jay Leno and Fran Drescher as Alan Freeds sec. and limo drver.

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