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The Lovin' Spoonful with John Sebastian - Do You Believe in Magic
The Lovin' Spoonful with John Sebastian - Do You Believe in Magic
Actor: Lovin Spoonful
Director: John Sebastian
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
NR     2007     1hr 5min

The Music of John Sebastian & The Lovin Spoonful features classic, full-length TV performances of their chart-topping hits performed by group members Steve Boone, Joe Butler, Zal Yanovsky and John Sebastian. Our host on t...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Lovin Spoonful
Director: John Sebastian
Genres: Music Video & Concerts
Sub-Genres: Pop, Rock & Roll
Studio: Standing Room Only
Format: DVD - Black and White,Color
DVD Release Date: 07/31/2007
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 5min
Screens: Black and White,Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 2
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English

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Movie Reviews

The magic's in the music -- always
Music fan in the Midwest | USA | 08/18/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"There are certain songs whose opening chords will always draw me in so completely that I have no way to express what I'm feeling. It doesn't matter that I've heard the song countless times. It doesn't matter that the song may mean something different to me now from what it did when I was younger. I made the soul connection to the song long ago. Such is the case with "Do You Believe In Magic," the first of 10 songs the Lovin' Spoonful took into the Top 30 between September 1965 and November 1967.

Perhaps not surprisingly, it is also the main title of a new DVD that is a fond look back at the band, its songs, and a time in popular music when it seemed that, virtually every day, listeners were treated to an exciting new sound. There was such a wealth of great songwriting, talented musicians, memorable singers, and innovative production techniques back then. The Lovin' Spoonful, or "the Spoons" as my friends and I usually called them, embodied all those qualities. The four original members -- John Sebastian, Zal Yanovsky, Joe Butler and Steve Boone -- and later, Jerry Yester, wrote, sang and played their own music. And that music, while drawing from the blues, country, jug band, folk, Chuck Berry, and Motown, remains unique in its sound and substance. It also remains some of the best of what Top 40 radio offered in the mid-1960s.

This DVD, which clocks in at a little over an hour, is not a typical music documentary. It doesn't feature an overly serious narrator taking you from point A to point B to point C in the band's evolution. It doesn't go into the reasons for personnel changes or the band's eventual breakup. At the center of this presentation are vintage performance clips taken mostly from the band's various TV appearances plus two John Sebastian solo gigs.

Sebastian is our on-screen host. He provides insights -- always informative and often very amusing -- into the songs' histories and the creative process in developing the songs. (I've known the background story, including the musical genesis, of "Do You Believe In Magic" for years, but it's still great to see and hear John explain it in his own matchless fashion.) He also provides a slew of stories about the people and places most closely associated with the Spoons. Having seen him in concert several times going back 30 years or more, I can tell you he is just as warm and funny and intelligent and entertaining in front of a camera as he is on stage. The other two key elements to this DVD are listed as extras: (1) Sebastian's on-screen commentaries about his life and career, with more good stuff on the Spoons and their music (including his idea for the opening riff to DYBIM); and (2) a segment titled "Reflections" that features rare (but all-too-brief) interview clips of "Papa" Denny Doherty and former Spoons guitar hero Zally Yanovsky.

I gave this DVD four stars rather than five because, as someone who's a junkie for rock 'n' roll facts and trivia, there was little in the way of even basic identification during the main segment of performance clips. I mean, judging from the clips that are in color and the clips that are in black and white, along with the stage sets themselves, I'm guessing most of the Spoons' performance clips were taken from The Ed Sullivan Show (the closing credits allude to this). Judging from the set and the number of dancers, I'm guessing the clip of the Spoons performing "Do You Believe In Magic" may be from the documentary film, The Big T.N.T. Show. And I'm pretty sure the clip of "You Didn't Have To Be So Nice" with Peter Noone's intro of the band is from Hullabaloo. The nonparticipation of the other surviving Spoons (Zally died in 2002) is also regrettable. It may have given the DVD a stronger sense of completeness. (And frankly, it would have been great to see John and his former bandmates, who haven't always been on the best of speaking terms over the years, sitting together in the same room and sharing their stories with us.)

Still, this program is very entertaining. For those of us who will always count the Spoons' music as essential to our well-being, this DVD is a treat to watch. So, despite its flaws, one could argue the overall presentation here is in keeping with the band's musical legacy. A documentary that was "warts and all" might well have detracted from what the Spoons were all about. "Positive," "wistful," "knowing," "romantic" (but never sappy), "wry" -- these and other terms I've always attached to the Lovin' Spoonful's music. It was a great time to be alive. Years ago I heard my folks talkin' one night when I had the Spoons cranked up on my stereo. And I heard Mama say to Papa, "Let those boys rock and roll."
Great clips!
Paul Beauparlant | east coast USA | 09/25/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)

"There are 10 performances on this disc but only 4 are played live by the group, the rest are mimed to the record.
the live performances:
1)Daydream-this performance is preceeded by an interview with John Sebatian relating how the song was created during a tour of the south in 1966 with the Supremes, traveling from show to show in a schoolbus! John and Zal were fooling around with the song Where Did Our Love Go and developed Daydream from the chords. . This explanation is followed by a glorious color clip of the band with bassist Steve Boone playing honky tonk piano, Zal turning his guitar volume up and down, creating the fade in/fade out guitar effects for the song and as always John's trademark passionate vocal.
2) Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind-a black and white clip from some un-named televison show. The band are miming to the song(their instruments are not even plugged in!)but it also appears their vocals are live because they are singing into microphones.
3) Nashville Cats-a stand out clip from this disc. You can clearly hear John's autoharp ringing out during the song and all of Zal's twisting mid-range guitar lead is plainly heard ....a real treat!
4) Darlin' Be Home Soon-this clip is well after the break-up of the Spoonful and shows John backed by some anonymous sidemen performing before a television studio audience.
Darlin' Be Home Soon is preceeded by John explaining how it was this style of song, among others, that lead to Zal's disenchantment with the group as he wanted to play songs more in the mode of the Peppemint Twist for example, rather than the softer, introspective songs John was beginning to write.
But those live performances aside there are 6 other clips(all from various T.V. shows)that show the style and attitude of the group.
What I really love about the Spoonful is the presence of Zal Yanovsky. Well no, let me re-word that. The Lovin Spoonful was lead by John Sebastion and it's his songs and his singing that are the trademark of the group. It's his singing that I so love. The sound of his voice whether it be comic or sweet and swooning or brash and authoritative is my catnip. His great lyrics from Daydream to Did YOu Ever Have To Make UP Your MInd to Summer in the City to Younger Girl and on and on are just some of the gems from the vast Spoonful catalog John created.
So with the understanding that John is really the Spoonful's guiding light, I have to then turn the spotlight over to Zal, their lead guitarist, 2nd vocal and all around comic presence.
I'm not all that bothered by the other t.v. clips that just show the group miming to the record because Zal is so much fun to watch! Mugging freely for the camera where ever it may be and bouncing in place to the music, Zal is just a pure delight to watch.
There is one clip after Zal had departed from the group having been replaced by Jerry Yester-She Is Still A Mystery. Nice but without Zal the group definately lost that sweet icing on the cake.
I was disappointed the song Younger Girl does not make an appearance on the disc.
In between songs there are interviews with John which are very informative and also a professor of music giving his thoughts on the group.
One down note is a segment in which John sits with his guitar and plays the chords to "Magic" and begins to sing the first verse and I have to say it's a bit heartbreaking to hear him struggle to capture the way he sang it 40-some years ago.
Perhaps I needn't even mention that but having done so I don't want that to be the last impression.
It's the 10 clips of the group in its prime that I love and is reason enough to own this disc."
Thoroughly Enjoyable
C. W. Emblom | Ishpeming, Michigan USA | 10/30/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"This DVD includes all the hit songs of The Lovin' Spoonful, some in color and others in glorious black and white. John Sebastian provides interesting commentary between each song and also provides interesting tidbits in the extras. Both John Sebastian and Denny Doherty provide stories regarding the Mamas and the Papas. I especially enjoyed the rendition of Summer In The City which shows the instruments used in performing the song. John also illustrates how doubling the speed of the introduction to the song Heat Wave provides the introduction to Do You Believe in Magic. A PG rating is shown at the beginning of the DVD, but I would rate it a definite G. I thoroughly enjoyed the DVD, and watched several parts of it over again. If you enjoy The Lovin' Spoonful this is a DVD you should include in your library."
S. Beasley | Northridge, Ca. | 09/23/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I LOVED this band from day one. Unique, brilliant, humorous. Although this documentary is a no-frills production, all the essential info is here. It does not, however, address Zal's leaving the band due to a pot bust(which I dont entirely believe, anyway), or contain comments from any other members except a posthumous 2 minute clip of latter day Zal.
STILL- It's excellently done, contains vid clips of all the hits, and John is brilliant w/ his storytelling.
Something I've NEVER seen mentioned about him is what a nice looking guy he was/is. A perfect face. Perhaps no one ever commented on it because of his slightly bookish appearance due to the granny glasses, but he definitely was a handsome man. Get this DVD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Oh, pay no attention to Mr. Blitzstein's (whatever) review- he was carted away several weeks ago and is now unreachable. Just as well..."