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Although I liked the clips (Duke, Ray Charles, Aretha, etc.), the show was marred by its relentlessly Ahmet-kissing perspective: two hours of shots alternating between Ertegun's self-congratulations and famous people buttressing the same.
I respect his accomplishments, but an authentically historical documentary has to explore the darker side as well: the exploitation of black talent (while withholding royalties), payola, mob influence in the record industry, the questionable deal with Stax over distribution and ownership, etc. Musically, did the world really need Foreigner? Yet what about Nesuhi, who became merely a footnote in this hagiography? What about the jazz sides with the MJQ, Mingus, Coltrane, Coleman, etc.?
Agree, unfortunately, on the asskissing aspects of this.
This could have been a really excellent documentary and was not.
Much much more of a Puff Piece than it needed to be, and it's not due to the subject matter.
Maybe Ertegun passing away during what must have been the editing period of this infomercial had a lot to do with backing off the negatives.
But not a "documentary" by any standard.... more of a "Behind The Music" appreciation piece.
Did the world need Foreigner--- hm.
Is that a rhetorical question ?
Bottom line is that music appreciation is subjective. One man's trash is another's treasure. Doesn't make one right and the other wrong. Just makes 'em different. Enjoy your jazz knowing that i won't be in competition with you to buy from the same used LP bin. That keeps the prices down. That's good for all of us.
My post wasn't really ---at all--- about Foreigner, about rock, or pop, or jazz, or any music in fact...
I was posting to agree that this program was an unqualified bit of fulsome press-agentry, and not at all a 'documentary'.
But there should be certain things sane adult men can agree on.
"But there should be certain things sane adult men can agree on.
Foreigner, for instance."
Dammit, Jaydee! You made me spit a mouthful of Earl Gray all over my laptop.
Do you have any documentation that Ertegun exploited black artists? From most accounts, he was one of the few stand-up guys at time when sharks were the rule, and treated his artists with fairness and respect. Through the Sixties, he was very active in the civil rights movement as well, often at a cost to his business. His seed money ($1.5 million) founded the Rhythm and Blues Foundation, to help support needy artists. Many of the black artists you say he exploited have nothing but good things to say about him (are they among the chocolate-covered noses you refer to?). Certainly, I've never heard anything about mob influence and payola regarding Atlantic, unlike Roulette.
Again, if there is documentation for your allegations, I'd like to see it - I've never come across anything in many years of reading about and researching the label and the Erteguns.
As far as Foreigner et al go, to each his own. The way I see it, the profits generated by Led Zeppelin, Buffalo Springfield, Yes, the Stones, CSN, and other rock artists helped subsidize the jazz, blues, and R&B side of the business. Without them, Atlantic may have gone the way of Chess, Jewel, and many others.
By his own admission on the program, Ahmet failed to pay many of his black artists their just due in royalties. Jerry Wexler openly admits his involvement in payola. For documentation regarding payola and mob connections, read Hit Men by Fredric Dannen.
As far as the rock acts you listed "subsidizing" the jazz/r&b/blues material, most of them signed on with the label well after Atlantic all but abandoned these genres.
And Foreigner? Seriously now, there's just no excuse for them.
most of what you said was covered in the programme and they did admit to payola involving Alan Freed.
Check your local pbs affiliate for repeats of this show. It's playing again in my neck of the woods on Sunday.
Here's the pbs site:
- http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/?campaign=pbshomefeatures_2_americanmastersatlanticrecordsthehousethatahmetbuilt_2007-05-03 (Open in New Window)
i saw a good portion of it and once i realized i had it on since its beginning, i hit the record button and that captures the whole program if it was on from the beginning.
wish i saw it. hop online for a minute and tell us before or during next time... ;-)
any info on it? will they rerun it?
check your listings. out here in the bay area, they're running it again on monday on our pbs-hd channel.
interviews: Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Aretha Franklin, Jimmy Page, etc., lots of anecdotes and music.
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