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Friday, January 27, 2006

The Complex Sessions: Neil Young & Jonathan Demme


Long before the filming of "Heart of Gold" began last summer, Jonathan Demme had already distilled the essence of Neil Young in a little known 4 song video promo.

On October 3, 1994, Jonathan Demme filmed Neil Young & Crazy Horse at the Complex Recording Studios in Los Angeles. The Complex Sessions captured the emotion and angst of the Sleeps With Angels period.

Paul Williams, music critic, editor and publisher of Crawdaddy Magazine in Fi: The Magazine of Music & Sound, June, 1996 writes:
"The Complex Sessions seems to me to represent a pivotal moment in rock history (as, say, "Smells Like Teen Spirit" did), not only because it's so good but also because it is a breakthrough in the creative use of a medium (the long-form rock video as a work of art) that has defeated most supplicants, including Neil as often as not. On the other hand, it isn't selling many copies, and in our increasingly corrupt pop culture, that and inches of press coverage are the only measurements of "significance." Oh well. Great music is still great music.

If a tree falls in the forest but nobody writes a review, did it make a sound?

This is an astonishingly gratifying concert film visually, and combined with Stop Making Sense leaves me convinced Jonathan Demme must be a genius. How many zillion directors have shot rock bands in action and almost never this intelligently or gracefully or pleasingly? He makes authenticity look easy, while almost every other director involved with rock films and videos make it seem impossible, else why would they fail so consistently? Let them study Demme's two masterpieces. This is rock and roll! Notice for example how wonderful Neil looks, and how terrific each Crazy Horse member and all four musicians together look all the time, as though they were cast for this film so perfectly that again you wonder why almost no other rock filmmaker ever got it so right before?"

Here is the review that fell into the blogosphere of the video that made a very loud sound 10 years ago. Just watching Demme's video "Change Your Mind" would change anyone's mind with open ears ... and eyes.

More on The Complex Sessions and film director Jonathan Demme and Neil Young.

(Original post edited. See comments below.)


At 1/27/2006 05:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, i think i have this somewhere on VHS? arggh, need to hook the beast up.

At 1/27/2006 05:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i believe these are two different videos -
"complex" was released ,
"sleeps with angels" was promo only . . .

At 1/27/2006 06:44:00 PM, Blogger thrasher said...

Removed the SWA promo image & note. Somehow had the CS & SWA vids mixed up. duh.

At 1/27/2006 06:44:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

anyone know where I snag this?

At 1/27/2006 07:53:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

try ebay

At 1/27/2006 08:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

According to Bad News Beat, Weld, Complex Sessions and Freedom DVD/Videos being released in April.

At 1/28/2006 06:04:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent film.
Only 4 songs. The song 'Sleeps With Angels' should have been included instead of the piece of crap "Piece Of Crap".

At 1/28/2006 12:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Change Your Mind is mind-blowing!

At 1/28/2006 06:11:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Holy shit! I've had this video for years and viewed it many times... never even realized Demmes name before - this one is awesome - i can only imagine what Heart of Gold we be and I sure can't wait!!!!

At 1/29/2006 07:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if you enjoyed these Demme videos,
maybe you should check out the Robyn Hitchcock concert film :
STOREFRONT HITCHCOCK - directed by Jonathan Demme . . .
last i looked it was about $10 . .
it's a mostly solo concert,
shot in a store front -
with people looking in the window
as they pass by . .
a nice intro to RH's music as well
. . .

At 1/29/2006 11:46:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didn't Demme & Neil meet up on the Philadelphia soundtrack first?

At 1/30/2006 01:51:00 PM, Blogger JimDC821 said...

Speaking of dificult to locate videos.. I have the concert video, Hurricane over the Mountain.. Neil and the Horse playing their hearts out in the Are You Passionate era, 7/28/2001 Fuji Rock Festival in Japan.. This is one incredible video -- and includes the song "Gateway of Love" which was listed on the Are You Passionate cover but not included -- I can see why -- this amazing song must be stashed away for the upcoming archives..

I'm concerned that there are many great Neil performances not available to the mainstream -- Complex sessions is one, the other is Weld - why on earth has this not been released on DVD? This is probably his best concert performance (that I've seen)...

At 1/31/2006 03:27:00 PM, Blogger JimDC821 said...

Yeah, I have storefront Hitchcock -- incredible video -- love the concept of the artist as goods on display.


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