All My Loving [no label, 1DVD, PAL format]

The original TV broadcast was in black & white - but it was later rebroadcast in color. It's got music by Jimi Hendrix, Cream, The Beatles, The Animals, and Pink Floyd. Frank Zappa speaks his mind as does Paul McCartney. The film is "about" pop music. Intermixed with the music is combat footage from the Vietnam War. NOT to be seen by children or generally by those of a delicate nature. Taken from a rebroadcast on BBC4 June 5 2004. This is a 55 min documentary by Tony Palmer. Tony Palmer has also written for the New York Times, the Times of London, 'Punch', 'Life' magazine etc. From 1967-74 he was a regular music critic for the Observer. From 1969-74 he had a weekly column in The Spectator entitled 'Notes from the Underground'. Ex Audio and Video.

All My Loving is one of the legends of British rock documentary-making, an hour long special that Palmer himself insists was inspired by John Lennon, one of his own closest friends. "I went to him and said, ‘if we do this film, what should we do?’ And he said the most important thing we could do was get onto the screen the groups that could not, at that point in time, get on - such as Frank Zappa, such as the Who really going crazy, such as Hendrix, such as Cream. So I made a film that included them all."

The result, broadcast for the first time in Britain in October 1968, was staggering. How often, demanded reviewer James Thomas, "does television really make you sit on the edge of your chair?" And how often does it still have that effect almost 40 years later? Taken from a 2004 reshowing on BBC TV, and positively glowing with color, All My Loving does seem a shade dated at the outset, as it attempts to analyze the importance, and meaning, of what was still called "pop music," speaking to a television audience that was still fiercely divided down generational lines - the kids liked pop, their elders liked classical.

But the footage (Cream at the Winterland kicks things off; Pink Floyd, Donovan, Hendrix, Eric Burdon and the Who soon follow) is terrific, and the interviewees - Zappa, Beatles George and Paul, and sundry industry figures - were well-chosen on both sides of the argument, even if that argument is largely irrelevant today. In 1968, it made sense to illustrate the story of modern rock with Vietnam combat footage, mass graves in Nazi Germany and burning Buddhist monks, if only to illustrate the Us and Them battlelines along which society was drawn. Today? You can get the same effect by channel surfing during the commercials, and if All My Loving has one great lesson to teach us, it’s just how devalued rock’n’roll has become, as a means of revolution.

The men who ordered the napalming of Vietnamese villagers listened to the same sort of music as those who oversaw the Holocaust, and rock’n’roll was a new generation’s most potent means of distancing itself from those values. The men who are making similar decisions today grew up with rock themselves, and it’s beginning to look like Love wasn’t all we needed after all. - Dave Thompson

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