Uncovering Curiosities: Andrew Slater’s ECHO IN THE CANYON

Andrew Slater’s wonderful music documentary, Echo In The Canyon, is a textured look at a very special time in music history, Slater’s film is an exceptional journey into the music scene in and around LA’s Laurel Canyon in the the mid-to-late 1960s. It’s a story told by those who lived it and Slater’s film features a who’s-who of 1960s musical talent including Brian Wilson Stephen Stills, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, David Crosby, Roger McGuinn, Lou Adler, John Sebastian, as well as stars like Jackson Browne and the late Tom Petty, who were both influenced by the music which filtered through the airwaves way back when.

We’re taken on our journey into the past by Jakob Dylan, a brilliant interviewer who manages to get relax his subjects and get them to open-up with some great stories about their lives and music. We hear how Michelle Phillips’ affair inspired Go Where You Wanna Go, how The Beatles inspired The Beach Boys, who in-turn inspired the Fab Four to push their musical sounds further and even how Eric Clapton ripped-off Roger McGuinn’s work because he liked it so much. Everyone is frank and honest, with even David Crosby admitting that he deserved to be kicked out of The Byrds for being a ‘dick’. 

Director Andy Slater knows this world and these people. A former rock journalist tuned producer, turned CEO of Capitol Records, he crafts the 82 minute film like a hit single, hitting the right notes and making sure that you’re left wanting another spin on the deck. He intercuts the interviews with sequences from a 2015 Laurel Canyon tribute concert, in which Dylan is joined by Cat Power, Fiona Apple. Beck, Regina Spektor and Jade Castrinos. These performances add an extra layer to proceedings – and they’re not just cover versions of classic 1960s songs, they’re whole new interpretations. The soundtrack album to this documentary is a must own.

Echo In The Canyon is far from a nostalgia piece, it’s a historical document which details a unique time in popular music, when folk music met rock to create something unique. It was over in a flash, just before LSD took the hippie movement into its nadir and before Charles Manson brought terror into the LA celebrity scene. Slater and Dylan don’t dwell on these darker aspects, their job is to celebrate teh music and they do that with style.