The Filtered Excellence: March 14, 2020

Bob Geldof once asked us, “Where is the filtered excellence!?” It’s right here. Once a week we take a break from comedy to bring you this week’s picks of the best things to watch, the most interesting things to do, great things to try, the best picks to read, our favorite things to listen to and more.


WATCH THIS

The Plot Against America. When Phillip Roth published his alternate version of 1940s America, it was written as a warning against unchecked Anti-Semitism and the roots of fascism can quickly take hold anywhere in the world. Little did he know that his story of a popular celebrity who uses his fame, blame politics and patriotism to capture the White House – while pushing the country towards fascism in the process – would become eerie prophecy. Now David Simon and Ed Burns (The Wire, Generation Kill) brings the novel to life in this new HBO miniseries. It stars Morgan Spector and Zoe Kazan as Herman and Bess Levin, a middle class couple raising their sons Phillip (Azhy Robinson) and Sandy (Caleb Malis) in Newark, New Jersey during World War II. Their lives are directly affected when aviation hero Charles Lindbergh runs for President on a platform of keeping the U.S. out of the war and promoting nationalism. Bess’ sister Evelyn (Winona Ryder) becomes a viable asset in the Lindbergh campaign, especially when she becomes an assistant – and lover – to Rabbi Lionel Bengelsdorf (John Turturro), who is also a key aide in the Lindbergh camp. When his xenophobic populist campaign puts Lindbergh in the White House, it sets into motion a wave of anti-Semitism and unlikely alliances that veers the nation dangerously away from American ideals. As they have done with their previous projects, Simon and Burns have assembled a strong cast to show how easy a nation can betray its own principles to a place that resembles many of the countries that they rail against. The recreations of 1940s America are spot on and how its’ incorporated into this alternate version of America are striking. Simon and Burns have found a unique way to put a mirror to the country’s past to show how it connects to the present. The Plot Against America premieres Monday, March 16th at 9pm East on HBO. You can also go to www.hbo.com for more information.

LISTEN TO THIS

Goodbye Tour – Live 1968 by Cream. In just three short years, Cream released three critical and commercially successful albums on their way to becoming the definitive rock power trio. But tensions within the group – particularly between Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker – became irreparable, in 1968, they decided to call it quits. However, before disbanding, Cream went on a full tour of the States before performing a farewell concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall. That show, along with three other U.S shows from Oakland, San Diego and Los Angeles, form the basis of this new boxed set. It captures the band still firing on all creative cylinders, as they storm through such classic songs as ‘White Room’, ‘Sunshine Of Your Love’, ‘Politician’ and much more. Though it was a group nearing the end of its brief, but glorious run, this collection shows that they went out in a blaze of glory. Goodbye Tour – Live 1968 by Cream is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming services.

Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection by The Staple Singers. By the time The Staple Singers signed with Stax Records in 1968, they have already graduated from gospel titans to a formidable presence with 60s folk and counterculture, sharing stages with Bob Dylan, Big Brother & The Holding Company and The Grateful Dead. They were also in the forefront of the American Civil Rights Movement of the late 50s and 60s, performing at marches and rallies and they developed close ties to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. However, once aligned with Stax, The Staple Singers will achieve crossover success with such hits as ‘Respect Yourself’, and ‘I’ll Take You There’. This new box set collects their Stax input, which includes their collaborations with producers Steve Cropper and future Stax President Al Bell. It also features B sides, non-album singles and performances from the now legendary 1972 Wattstax concert. Though they were associated with gospel and message songs, The Staple Singers also showed they could handle material by Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight & The Pips and The Band. Funky, informative and ripe full of soul, this is the definitive collection from one of the all time great gospel/soul groups. Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming outlets.

Sorry You Couldn’t Make It by Swamp Dogg. Years after working on the outer fringes of the indie soul circuit, Swamp Dogg found mainstream success last year with his album Love, Loss And Auto-Tune. For his follow-up, Swamp Dogg decided to do another long awaited dream: an album of country songs. Though the project has a decidedly country flair, Swamp Dogg retains a decidedly Southern Soul sound the same way artists such as Ray Charles, Candi Staton and Solomon Burke did on their classic recordings in the 1960s. Long time friend John Prine is also aboard for two songs, ‘Memories’, and ‘Please Let Me Go Round Again’, as well as Justin Vernon of Bon Iver in the opening track, ‘Sleeping Without You Is A Dragg’. It continues one of the great musical resurfacing in recent memory. Sorry You Couldn’t Make It by Swamp Dogg is available now through Amazon, Apple Music and all major streaming outlets.

READ THIS

Keep ‘Er Lit by Van Morrison. Van Morrison has always kept a guarded, mysterious approach to his creative process. But in 2014, he offered a rare look when he teamed up with Dr. Eamonn Hughes of Queen’s University in Belfast for Lit Up Inside, a book featuring some of his finest lyrics. The two have paired up once again to release Keep ‘Er Lit, the follow up to the critically acclaimed book. It features over 120 songs from Van The Man’s storied career, from the seminal Astral Weeks, through recent albums such as Roll With The Punches and The Prophet Speaks. To see these songs presented as prose and poetry once serves to prove yet again that Van Morrison is one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever. With an introduction by Hughes and a forward from Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon, this is an absolute must have for an Van Morrison fan. Limited edition autographed copies of Keep ‘Er Lit by Van Morrison is available at www.noalbis.com. Standard copies are available now through Amazon UK and will be available stateside on April 14th through all major online book retailers.

 

Want more excellence? Read last week’s the filtered excellence.

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Earl Douglas is a writer/photographer based in New York City. A frequent contributor to The Interrobang, Earl is also Executive Director for the New York chapter of The Black Rock Coalition. Earl worked in radio for nearly two decades at WNEW-FM and XM Satellite Radio, which included being the on-air producer for Carol Miller, Scott Muni and Ron & Fez, and a contributor to Opie & Anthony. Earl has also independently published a number of books including Black Rock Volume 1, Urban Abyss, Mobile Uploads, and For Shimmy. His latest project is the photojournalism magazine PRAXIS, which is available exclusively through Blurb.com.

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Earl Douglas
Earl Douglas
Earl Douglas is a writer/photographer based in New York City. A frequent contributor to The Interrobang, Earl is also Executive Director for the New York chapter of The Black Rock Coalition. Earl worked in radio for nearly two decades at WNEW-FM and XM Satellite Radio, which included being the on-air producer for Carol Miller, Scott Muni and Ron & Fez, and a contributor to Opie & Anthony. Earl has also independently published a number of books including Black Rock Volume 1, Urban Abyss, Mobile Uploads, and For Shimmy. His latest project is the photojournalism magazine PRAXIS, which is available exclusively through Blurb.com.