Lonesome Pine Special: Beatles Celebration

By Michael Campbell

On paper, this idea was supremely seductive, for both Beatles fans and fans of the artists performing their songs. The anticipation of Los Lobos performing "Rain" (a cult favorite that was the B side of "Paperback Writer") alone was a powerful persuader. But alas, despite some good moments, this idea never quite flew.

A continuing travesty is the nature of the Lone$ome Pine $pecials when it subjects its loyal patrons to the excesses of taping for television. I bring up this long-standing affront to the faithful in this review because of its effect on the live audience's enjoyment of the event. Camera persons rushing up on an artist to get that up-close shot in the heat of performance is a distraction to artist and audience alike. Hey, nothing like paying top dollar for a good seat up front to get a great view of a cameraman's underwear label, right? The TV audience won't have to endure this.

The choice of the BOBS to host this event seemed an inspired one. In addition to delivering a killer version of "You Can't Do That," this a cappella group had the potential of filling the equipment-change time between acts with more inspired music since they require no setup. However, they were relegated to embarrassing ad lib, making their audience almost as ill at ease as they seemed to feel.

The Real Guts Award goes to Los Lobos, who took on "Rain," as well as "I'm Only Sleeping," and the retro-psycho "Tomorrow Never Knows," all John Lennon songs, by the way. I think the performances were pretty good, but I'll have to suspend judgment until the show airs in Prime Time on PBS this April (to commemorate the Beatles' first number one single 30 years ago).

You see, the lead guitar was mixed way low, to the point of non-distinction. Los Lobos was not the only victim; the brilliant and soulful Nils Lofgren suffered the same fate on his solos. In fact, the only lead guitar sufficiently audible was that of Buddy Guy's guitarist, who could be heard much better than Buddy himself.

Buddy ties with Mark O' Connor for the Now-You-See-'Em-Now-You- Don't Award. After blistering "Yer Blues" (an obvious yet wise choice) and igniting the crowd, Buddy was hustled off, the only artist who performed only one song. That is except for Mark O'Connor, who was whisked on in time to play one fiddle solo during the middle of the finale, "Let It Be."

My respect goes out to the performers, most of whom showed a real affection for the material, especially the dance group ISO, who nearly stole the show with their limitless energy and imagination on "Oh Darling!" and "Good Night." That energy was curiously absent from too much of a program dedicated to one of the most vital musical forces of our lifetime.

My hope goes to the forces behind the Lone$ome Pine $pecials such that the local audience that built them to their current status are treated with the same respect that PB$ audiences are. Then perhaps the LP$ will be Ready For Prime Time.