Jaws: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard

 

JawsMemoriesFromMartha'sVineyard
JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard

By  Matt Taylor
Foreword Steven Spielberg

Moonrise Media – 2011
ISBN 978-0983350200
$49.95, 296 pages 

I have been reading books about films since I was a kid.  For example, I remember getting the coffee table style picture novelization of ALIEN when I was in middle school.  There have been some real good ones over the years like; The Jaws Log, The Winston Effect, Taschen’s Michael Mann book and Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday The 13th to name a few.  

Shortly after starting to read this book, it was obvious to me that this is the pinnacle of all books about a movie.  JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard is a large coffee table style book that features hundreds of stunning never-before-seen photos and intricate revealing information about the production of Steven Spielberg’s ground breaking summer blockbuster.

The layout of this book is artfully designed as it takes you through the JAWS shoot in chronological order.  Every important scene is covered with color, black & white photos gorgeously spread across slick paper stock.  Production stories told from all sorts of people who lived on Martha’s Vineyard during the shoot are shared on 296 pages.

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 Plus you get newspaper articles included that were published during 1974 and Production Designer Joe Alves creates new schematics of the sea sled mechanism and some of his original storyboards.

When you hear of all the difficulties that came from shooting this movie on Martha’s Vineyard it’s a wonder it ever got finished and turned out as good as it did.  The island was not prepared for Hollywood’s style of working.  The shoot was battered by the every changing New England weather, powerful uncontrollable sea, untested mechanical sharks and boats not designed for such a long demanding shoot.  Plus the politics of shooting in and around the Vineyard were massive and overcoming them took numerous people to satisfy,  Also the production brought so much money to the area that locals were purposefully sabotaging the shoot so that they could continue to make money the longer the shoot ran on.

As a filmmaker myself, I cannot imagine the incredible pressure Steven Spielberg must have felt at such a young age and still be focused enough to make the masterpiece JAWS is.  It’s a testament to his extraordinary talent and this book makes me appreciate the movie even more (it’s one of my five favorite films).

I give first-time author Matt Taylor in collaboration with avid JAWS collector Jim Beller a standing ovation for this book.  They have gone to great length to make this complete and the final word on what happened on Martha’s Vineyard during the spring/summer/early fall of 1974.

Publisher Moonrise Media should be applauded for creating such a beautiful book.  The typeset, layouts, re-production of photos are vividly rendered for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

In today’s world, we all feel the pressure of a delicate economy.  When you are deciding what to spend your money on, we all think about it harder and aren’t so free with spending it foolishly.  With thought in mind, I would whole-heartedly recommend getting this book.  The price tag on the book is a little steep but it’s worth every single penny.

It’s not often you come across something made with such great care.  The people behind this book put obvious passion into its making.  The result is jaw-dropping.  I was literally blown away each time I turned the page.

JAWS: Memories From Martha’s Vineyard is a juggernaut of publishing.

www.mvremembersjaws.com

 

www.moonrisemedia.net

Furyon – Gravitas

CD Booklet Double Page


Furyon – Gravitas

Frontiers Records – 2012

 

 

This is the most exciting new band I’ve heard in a long time.  Imagine a touch of Alice In Chains mixed with the guitar power of Black Label Society, topped by the vocals of Audioslave.

The band establishes a commercial sound in “Disappear Again.”  The guitars bite and work together to energize the tune.  Matt Mitchell’s voice will immediately catch your attention and make you think of Chris Cornell (click to read my interview with Mitchell).  Chris Green and Pat Heath exchange blistering guitar solos that will have you smiling from ear to ear.

Primal drums lead to the guitars bulldozing a path for Mitchell to sing “Stand Like Stone.”  The guitar parts, including the rhythm are intricate and played with awe-inspiring skill.

When the band slows down in “Souvenirs” it’s only for a few moments before guitars hit the throttle to blast into dazzling guitar patterns.  The fast picking guitar embellishment is just plain wicked.  Alex “Nickel” Bowen’s bass and Lee Farmery’s drums are felt big time in this song.  The heavy guitar rhythm after the three and a half minute mark is vicious.  This is a rock band pushing the envelope of commercial heavy metal, progressive metal while at the same time retaining a foothold in classic rock.

A good analogy for the music of “Don’t Follow” would be BLS with a little more commercial slant and that awesome voice of Matt Mitchell.

“New Way of Living” has a classic acoustic guitar intro before the guitars smash in like a wrecking ball.  Mitchell is sensational vocalizing this tune.  The guitar solo in this fifth cut gives me goose bumps and has to be the best constructed solo I’ve heard recently.  I like how the drums switch tempo over the considerable length of time Green and Heath have to make their instruments scream and shred.

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Damn this BAND ROCKS!  The guitar rhythm in “Voodoo Me” is not for the faint hearted.  Mitchell and his band friggin’ nail this tune!  The mixture of hard charging guitars, drums, bass and Mitchell’s voice hit this song completely out of the park.

In “Fear Alone” little distorted guitars feedback their way to a dark acoustic guitar and finally crushing riff that thunders like Zakk Wylde playing Led Zeppelin.  The guitar embellishment before the solo is really fascinating.  Matt Mitchell is so fluid on the vocals that you might take for granted what he accomplishes on a track by track basis.

Green & Heath’s guitars work up “Wasted on You” before Matt Mitchell sings what might be his best performance on this entire Tour De Force of an album.  This comes from his voice bringing a toughness to match the band’s aggression.  His vocals soar into the high and low parts of the sound registry.  Bowen’s bass and Farmery’s drums are critically important to the many time changes and shifting musical movement.

“Our Peace Someday” is an excellent song that reminds me a tiny bit of Tesla.

“Desert Suicide” is an 8-minute epic that is moody, big-riffed and superbly sung.  There is a little Led Zeppelin influence but as if that band was operating on Nitromethane.

Gravitas is a jaw dropping debut that every single sub-genre enthusiast of hard rock or heavy metal would enjoy.  Each member of Furyon performs on a world-class level, with the band placing the highest importance on the songs.  Gravitas easily garners a 10 out of 10 rating.

Don’t hesitate to pull the trigger on buying this CD.

www.frontiers.it/

 www.furyon.net

Shy

Shy_cover

Shy

Escape Music – 2011

 

 

 

I haven’t heard this romantic of a hard rock album in a very long time.  I’d say I’d have to go back tens of years times two.  British hard rockers Shy act as a “prince” (so to speak) of the genre to give us twelve songs performed heavily in melody.

New vocalist Lee Small steps in to take the microphone (left vacant by Tony Mills who departed for the band TNT) and the results are magnificent.  I actually would say if you pinned me down to choose between the two vocalists, I think I like Lee Small’s voice more.  His voice is a bit smooth (no intended disrespect to Mr. Mills).

This is clear right from the start of “Land of a Thousand Lies.”  Small sings with range and passionate inflection.  But to tell you the truth, what makes Shy really work is the brilliant guitar playing of the late Steve Harris (who passed away two months ago in October 2011).  Think of what made Dokken standout?  It was not Don Dokken but rather George Lynch.

Steve-Harris

Steve Harris plays a wicked heavy riff in the first tune and I really like the construction of his solo; he slows things down in the beginning then builds up speed and then teams with Joe Basketts’ keyboards to finish it off.

Harris plays a cool picking active rhythm guitar in “So Many Tears.”  Lee Small gets more forceful in this second song.  Harris’ lead work in this song is a blinding spiral of guitar.  The stereo effect of the background voice bouncing from left to right and back, was very cool with headphones.

“Ran Out of Time” feels like a cross between the late Gary Moore and Bon Jovi’s heavier sound of the late 80s.

“Breathe” has a gorgeous mix of Lee’s voice, the keyboards and lyrics that should magnetize any female listener.  Steve Harris goes into Neal Schon’s territory with his guitar crying out with an outpouring of emotion.

Harris and Ian Richardson’s guitars hit hard in “Blood on the Line.”  Bob Richards drum breaks are cool especially right before Steve Harris blows the lid off the song with his expressive solo.

Joe Basketts’ keyboards are lively in “Pray” and bounce beautifully off the distorted guitars.  In this song I couldn’t help but think of the album/band Phenomena, which makes sense because Lee Small sang on that.

I was caught in the web of Steve Harris’ rhythmic guitar in “Only For The Night.”  What he plays is hypnotic and totally grooves.

Love the killer combination of the soft light keyboards and then the big heavy distorted guitars in “Live For Me.”  Lee breezes through this tune with his expert vocal skill.

Harris picks out another gem in “Over You.”  The band as a whole hits the jackpot of creating a rocking heart-tugging love song.  This song is as good as any song the band Journey has ever recorded.  That’s not a knock against the bay area hit-makers but a testament of how good this song and this band is,

Acoustic guitar and single bass drum sets the stage for Shy to rock harder in “Sanctuary.”  Steve Harris plays another startling guitar solo that is just awesome to listen to.

The keyboard and Small’s voice highlights “Save Me” until the break for Steve Harris to rip another solo.  I love how the lead section continues where most bands would have it end.  It should be this way because Harris needs more time to express himself and the band benefits from this big time.

The guitars act as pillars in “Union Of Souls.”  Lee Small shines again carrying the tune with ease.  This song has a fun feel to it and gives off an energetic spark.

I feel real bad that Steve Harris never got the kind of notice he should have as an exceptionally gifted guitar player.  I don’t know why but I feel a kinship to him and his playing.  Unfortunately I never got the chance to meet him but I’ve been listening to the band since their 1985 album Brave The Storm.  I’ve read that he loved horror films and I know we were born the same year.  Maybe even there’s an unconscious link to my last name heritage, which comes from England.  Guitar players have been a favorite of mine since I started listening to music.  I’ve followed hundreds of them.  There is little doubt in my mind that Steve Harris is in the upper echelon of people who have ever played the instrument.

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This self-titled album proves Shy is one of the great melodic hard rock bands out there.  I urge you to pick it up to discover what I’m talking about and enjoy the gift of music Steve Harris left behind.

I will for years to come.

 www.shyonline.co.uk

Filmmaker/Journalist