Monday, March 17, 2008

John, Paul, Tom and Ringo -- the Fab Three plus one

If Dick Cavett was the hip big brother of talk show hosts, Tom Snyder was the fuddy duddy uncle who you had to explain everything to. That's quite evident in "The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: John Paul Tom & Ringo", an interesting new collection of vintage interviews of three of the Beatles available from Shout Factory on April 1.

The best of the interviews is clearly the one with John Lennon, which was first shown in 1975 and replayed the night after Lennon was killed with new guests added. It's the replay that's included here. If Snyder comes across a little, let's say, naive, John, in a very accomodating mood, sets Snyder straight. "Were the Beatles before the groupies?", Snyder asks at one point.

The replay includes comments from a still shocked "Double Fantasy" producer Jack Douglas and rock critic Lisa Robinson.

That's not the case with the Paul McCartney interview, originally aired on Dec. 20, 1979. It's Paul and Linda, first, who are then joined by Denny Laine and Laurence Juber via satellite discussing Wings before a show at London's Rainbow Theatre. The interview gets off to a horrible start as Snyder makes an impatient Paul and Linda wait (actually telling Paul to "hang on a minute ... we're not ready yet") for an incredibly long introduction (including a boring technical update of the equipment being used for the interview) and a playing of the "Spin It On" music video. Paul and Linda manage to stay polite, though various comments through the interview give evidence that they did not enjoy the experience. No surprise: Few of the questions rise above the pedestrian level. Despite the success being enjoyed by Wings, Snyder even asks about the possibility of a Beatles reunion. When Juber and Laine join the interview, Snyder has to ask the two to introduce themselves because he clearly doesn't know who is who.

The interview with Ringo, recorded in Los Angeles and first aired Nov. 25, 1981, is pretty run of the mill for Ringo, who seems to treat it like nothing special. It really isn't. Snyder starts off asking the meaning of the title of Ringo's then-current album, "Stop and Smell the Roses" after years of what Snyder calls "turmoil, frenzy and confusion," then following up with how Ringo likes being 40. Snyder also discusses John Lennon, who died less than a year before the interview was taped. Barbara Bach also is interviewed, and the couple discuss their apperances in the movie "Caveman."

The quality of the Lennon and Ringo interviews are excellent, especially the Lennon, which has been a favorite among collectors in copies taken from a long out-of-print video release. The McCartney interview, though not as sharp in quality as the other two, seems to have come from a decent video master. Still, it's surprising the quality isn't better.

Despite the reservations, "The Tomorrow Show With Tom Snyder: John Paul Tom & Ringo" is a set worth getting just for the Lennon interview alone. It's good to see this interview, one of Lennon's best, available again. The McCartney and Starr interviews are worth seeing for archival purposes only, but we all have some of that stuff in our collections, don't we?

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