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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
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Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

April 18, 2008
RATING: 7.5/10
In 1980, the day after John Lennon's murder, journalist and TV personality Tom Snyder paid tribute to the fallen musician by airing the last televised interview Lennon had done, a 1975 appearance on Snyder's own The Tomorrow Show. That interview, along with a 1979 discussion with Paul McCartney and a 1981 chat with Ringo Starr, makes up the material on this new two-disc DVD set from Shout Factory. Decades-old interviews may sound like very dry viewing, but here it is actually fascinating, due in large part to Snyder's slightly bizarre, off-the-cuff interview style, sort of like a Larry King with less dementia. Of course, the affable personalities and legendary music history surrounding Snyder's guests plays a part as well. The timing of John, Paul, Tom & Ringo is interesting, coming right on the heels of the horrible Jared Leto trainwreck Chapter 27 [LAS feature], a film about the days leading up to Mark David Chapman's assassination of Lennon in December of 1980. While Leto's film sounds great on paper it should be avoided like the plague, and in contrast this collection of 1970s talk show footage sounds like a bore but is worth a look.

Lennon and Snyder on the set. (photo from NBCU Photo Bank)

The first disc in the set is made up of Lennon's in-studio interview with Snyder, as well as short discussions with journalist Lisa Robinson and producer Jack Douglas, who worked on the piece with Snyder. Lennon is a magnificently funny and down-to-earth personality, and also a bit bemused by the machinations of live television. At several points Lennon isn't quite sure which camera to speak into, and playfully riffs on his own ignorance. The discussion is wide and varied; from the origins of the Beatles to their breakup to living in the pubic eye to disco and John's fascination with reggae music, the latter of which requires an explanation for Snyder. When the conversation turns to groupies and drugs, Lennon is quite candid, filling his answers with innuendo. Snyder is alternately in on the joke and completely out of it, which only serves to make the interview that much more engaging.

Disc two contains the interviews with Paul and Linda McCartney and Starr. The McCartneys talk with Snyder via a satellite connection - a technology so new at the time that Snyder must explain it to his audience - and the two are playful when discussing their own celebrity while turning serious when talking about social issues. At one point, Snyder asks McCartney if the sheep on his farm enjoy being sheared. "It's not as bad as being killed," McCartney deadpans. The second disc's interview with Ringo Star is simultaneously the least interesting of the three and possibly the most fascinating as well, depending on your take on the Beatles. Snyder queries Ringo about his perplexing film and solo career, as they both puff on cigarettes - something you'd never see one of today's insipid interviewers like Barbara Walters or Anderson Cooper doing - and the interview accurately mirrors the contradictions of Starr's personality.

John, Paul, Tom, Ringo. (photo from Rolling Stone)

For its relatively candid look at John, Paul, and Ringo, The Tomorrow Show is probably best suited to true Beatles fans, but it is also worth viewing for those not as engaged in the Fab Four mystique. The Beatles can hardly be underestimated as a monument in the history of popular culture, a group of global icons decades before the world wide web who are arguably rivaled only by Shakespeare as England's most influential artistic export. The Tomorrow Show interview with Snyder would be Lennon's last time on television, a medium that helped make him "bigger than Jesus" and would make a spectacle of his murder five years later. Beyond the Beatles, John, Paul, Tom & Ringo is also interesting for its view of Snyder's entertaining interviewer personality and what late-night television of the late 1970s and early 1980s was like.

SEE ALSO: www.shoutfactory.com

Jonah Flicker
Jonah Flicker writes, lives, drinks, eats, and consumes music in New York, via Los Angeles. He once received a fortune in a fortune cookie that stated the following: "Soon, a visitor shall delight you." He's still waiting.

See other articles by Jonah Flicker.



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