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Classic Albums

Season 9 2016 - 2017
TV-PG

  • 2016-07-23T20:00:00-03:00 on BBC
  • 50 mins
  • 3 hours, 20 mins
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Documentary, Special Interest

This series looks at the writing and recording of some of the greatest albums of our era. Musicians, producers, and engineers are interviewed in the studio, and the master tapes are played, sometimes isolating particular channels, to highlight certain instrumental sounds or voices. Many of the musicians play live along with the tracks, demonstrating how they played the parts. In some cases, group members are reuniting after considerable time as they reminisce together. This is usually interspersed with some vintage clips and photos of concert performances.

The BBC produced series began in 1997, with Ringo Starr as narrator. Later episodes have no narrator. The first seven episodes were licensed to VH1 for showing in the US, then periodically more were released, one at a time. Some have been shown on A&E, PBS, and Biography Channel. One or two were repackaged by VH1 as 'Ultimate Albums'. In April 2006, 26 DVD's were released as 'VH1's Classic Albums', with additional footage and bonus features. In October 2006, the show began a weekly airing on VH1 Classic on Tuesday evenings. The original airdates in some cases are sketchy, as VH1 are rather tight-lipped about past programming, preferring to focus on upcoming 'premieres'.

4 episodes

9x01 The Beach Boys: Pet Sounds

  • Season Premiere

    2016-07-23T20:00:00-03:00 — 50 mins

This edition of the series celebrates the 50th anniversary of the release of Brian Wilson's masterpiece, the Beach Boys' album Pet Sounds. Wilson and the surviving members of the Beach Boys - Mike Love, Al Jardine, Bruce Johnston and David Marks - guide us through the writing and recording of the landmark album that is consistently voted one of the top three most influential albums of all time. Featuring exclusive interviews, classic archive and rare studio outtakes from the recording sessions, the film tells the story of the creation of the record that cemented the Beach Boys' reputation as a leading force to rival the Beatles, and Brian Wilson as a songwriting genius.

9x02 The Wailers: Catch a Fire

  • 2016-10-06T20:00:00-03:00 — 50 mins

This edition looks at the making of the 1973 Wailers album, Catch a Fire, the album that brought international recognition to Bob Marley. Already big names in their native Jamaica, it took until this release for Marley and Co to finally go global. It features interviews with key musicians and engineers who helped make the album, as well as record label boss Chris Blackwell, who talks about how the band had song-writing and performing skills in abundance but needed to be put through the equivalent of a "rock blender" to make them palatable to a wider audience. Through first-hand accounts, this programme tells how they did just that. The programme takes a track-by-track look at the making of the record. In London, the producer Chris Blackwell and original engineer Tony Platt lead viewers through the original multi-tracks of Slave Driver, Concrete Jungle, Stir it Up, Rock It Baby and others. Rabbit Brundrick (keyboards) and Wayne Perkins (electric guitar) tell how they were brought back in to add the rock and roll parts to the songs. It is illustrated with archive footage from the Wailers in concert, early interviews with Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, plus television performances and rare home movies - all of which provide a unique insight into the process behind the recording of this landmark album.

9x03 Carly Simon: No Secrets

  • 2017-05-04T20:00:00-03:00 — 50 mins

Carly Simon is one of the most influential singer-songwriters of her generation. The classic album that made her a global star was No Secrets, which included the enigmatic song You're So Vain. The album spent five weeks at number one in the US chart. In this new interview Carly ties together her life and work on No Secrets - she is at her most honest, sometimes defiant, but with a wit and wisdom that comes from her rich and turbulent life. She tells of how the second single from the album, Right Thing to Do, was a refreshingly realistic love song, choosing to ignore her lover's problems. That lover was James Taylor; Carly wrote the lyrics on a plane after looking over at James and thinking 'there's nothing you can do to turn me away.' The album's title track, We Have No Secrets, struck a chord with a generation trying to reconcile honesty in relationships with the emotional consequences that followed. Carly had a number of highly public affairs in the early 70s and her experience fed into the album's most famous song, the global hit You're So Vain. She performs the missing fourth verse on the piano, the first time she has ever sung it along with the melody. Carly tells of how her producer made her do the vocal track on 'Vain' over and over, and how Mick Jagger ended up on backing vocals. The film has access to the master tapes and we hear Jagger's vocal track. Her producer reveals Carly was 'so turned on' after singing with Jagger that she recorded the whole vocal again - and that is the one on the album. Finally, the film includes footage of Taylor Swift and Carly Simon performing You're So Vain together, and extracts from an interview where Swift herself talks about her love for the song

9x04 Don McLean: American Pie

  • 2017-12-07T20:00:00-04:00 — 50 mins

The story of Don McLean's second album American Pie. Crowned by its titular overture and the song Vincent, McLean's equally moving tribute to Van Gogh, American Pie is a classic of the folk-rock genre. Earning its place alongside Carole King's Tapestry, Joni Mitchell's Blue and Neil Young's After The Goldrush as one of the landmark singer-songwriter LPs of 1971, a year recently celebrated in a book by award-winning journalist David Hepworth as 'rock's golden year'. Don McLean features in extensive new interviews, discussing the intricacies of his songs, the sometimes fraught recording process, and the album's legacy.

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