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  • Writer's pictureAlex First

Echo in the Canyon (PG) - 89 minutes

If you are a music buff, it would be hard not to get excited by the trip down memory lane that is Echo in the Canyon.

This is a reverential documentary and accompanying riff about the Southern Californian sound that produced some of the best folk-rock bands.

I am talking about the likes of The Beachboys, The Byrds and The Mamas and the Papas, to name but three.

We’re in LA’s Laurel Canyon in the mid 60s as folk went electric and creativity hit a new high.

The Beatles were most certainly influenced by it.

Some of the biggest names in the music business reflect upon the times that they were such a big part of.

I speak of Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Graham Nash, Stephen Stills and Michelle Phillips, among others.

They chew the fat with Jakob Dylan (Bob’s son), lead singer and primary songwriter for the Wallflowers, who also reproduces the sounds of the mid 60s with a series of contemporary artists, names such as Beck, Cat Power and Regina Spektor.

Echo in the Canyon also gives us access to never-before-seen footage of the stars in their heyday.

Famed record producer Lou Adler speaks adoringly of Laurel Canyon as close to Sunset Strip but with a beautiful country feel.

Phillips, from The Mamas and the Papas, says it was a hangout for bohemians and actors, full of charming little houses – a joyful time.

Clapton, on the other hand, was attracted to eccentrics and they were all there.

David Crosby describes the music of the day as “putting good poetry on the radio”.

So, apart from the sound, it was the song writing that distinguished the times and the place.

Rickenbacker was the first known maker of electric guitars and it ruled the roost in the swinging 60s.

The 12-string Rickenbacker was a favourite of The Beatles and Roger McGuinn of The Byrds, the latter of whom turns back the clock with an impromptu performance.

While The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album resulted in The Beachboys’ brilliant front man Brian Wilson writing Pet Sounds, it – in turn – inspired The Beatles Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

That is touched on in Echo in the Canyon.

The master of cool, a great muso in his own right and a ready listener, Jakob Dylan is the perfect host for a doco such as this, which dips its lid to what went down more than 50 years ago.

And some of the biggest artists of the day are more than happy to trip the light fantastic once more.

It may have been the music of a generation, but those sounds have well and truly stood the test of time, to which Echo in the Canyon attests.

You don’t mess with perfection, merely honour it and Dylan – with writing credits to Eric Barrett and Andrew Slater, and direction from the latter, the former CEO of Capital Records – does just that.

It is available on 5th August, 2020 on digital and on demand. I speak of platforms including Apple, Microsoft, Google, Fetch and PSN.

Rated PG, it scores a 7 out of 10.


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