Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stone (take the trip)

One for the bride of Brine...

It's bleak and cold and wet in Brinetopia. The possums have barricaded themselves in their nest. Ants and spiders have adopted us. The Brinecave has got mould. On rainy days and nights such as these, old photo albums, vinyl records and movies are liberated from mothballs and dust and given an airing. We'll laugh at our juvenile stupidity and misadventure and wonder how it is that we are still going in the 21st century. And then there will be the events we are still hazy about. And then we'll smile as we fall asleep to the sounds of the drought breaking rains and the faint roar of surf building in the distance.

Is this one of the best Aussie road movies ever made? Forget the cover. It's not set out in the bush like Mad Max. Shot in Sydney and released in 1974, produced and directed by Sandy Harbutt. Five years before Mad Max. Twelve years before Crocodile Dundee. Banned in some places - not surprisingly, a movie featuring real bikers with the promo line "Stone - take the trip". 
Stone was a low budget movie, about a fictitious police officer called Stone who goes undercover with the Gravediggers outlaw motorcycle gang, to find out who is murdering their members, one by one. Motorcycles featured include the legendary Kawasaki Z1(Kwaka 900). Promotional trailer here: YouTube

Photo: Daniel Kramer 
By the time word got out in the biking underground, you were either a rider of "Jap crap"like the legendary Honda 750cc four cylinder CB or the new loud smooth Kwaka 900's featured in Stone. Or you rode British bikes like the classic old skool Norton's, BSA's or Triumphs like Mr Zimmerman in the 1965 cover for Highway 61 Revisited
Is this the best product placement for a British motorbike? Ten years before Stone. Nine tracks. All killer. No filler.

Side one

  1. "Like a Rolling Stone" – 6:09
  2. "Tombstone Blues" – 5:58
  3. "It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry" – 4:09
  4. "From a Buick 6" – 3:19
  5. "Ballad of a Thin Man" – 5:58

Side two

  1. "Queen Jane Approximately" – 5:31
  2. "Highway 61 Revisited" – 3:30
  3. "Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" – 5:31
  4. "Desolation Row" – 11:21
And the story behind that iconic album cover and "product placement? Apparently they had shot rolls and rolls of film all afternoon outside arestaurant in New York called Henry O's. Then after they went back to Bob's he thought his Triumph motorbike tee might look good. Here's the tail end of an interview with the album's the photographer Daniel Kramer. Full interview is here.

"So Bob sat down on the steps and I looked through the camera, and it looked a little naked behind him. His road manager then was Bob Neuwirth. So Bobby Neuwirth stood behind him in kind of a striped shirt, and I still needed something else. So I dug into my camera bag and came up with a Nikon SP that I had done a lot of the shooting of all of these pictures that I'd done of Dylan was with this particular camera, because it's not a single lens reflex, it's a range-finder camera like a Leica, which gives a very little sound when you're shooting, and so it's more discreet. I gave Bobby that camera to hold and he held it at a level I kept ranging, so that it would just kind of fill some of the void in the background. And I shot two frames. That's the end of the story."

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