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Six Picks: 'The Cosby Show,' CD tribute to John Lennon, and more

Remake of vintage cold-war TV miniseries, new Bill Frisell CD tribute to John Lennon, online photography project and more.

October 21, 2011

America in Primetime on PBS

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Mayer who?

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He looks like Buddy Holly, talks like Barry White, and sings like Curtis Mayfield. Intrigued? He's Mayer Hawthorne, and his second album, How Do You Do, is a retro dream come true for those of us who miss the glory days of 1970s R&B – Stevie, Smokey, Al Green, Motown, and sweet Philly soul. Hawthorne – a DJ, multi-instrumentalist, and producer – has willed himself to sound like his heroes, and he comes awfully close, from deep-voiced Isaac Hayes-style purring to Smokey Robinson falsetto. The songs sound like radio hits that might have been, especially the title tune and the Hall & Oates-like "Finally Falling." All aboard for the soul train time machine!

Lennon reimagined

To announce a new Bill Frisell album is like pointing out the sun rising. It's a frequent event. But his latest is guaranteed to light up your day. All We Are Saying ... is Frisell's affectionate tribute to John Lennon, and his talented quartet romps through Lennon's Beatles and solo material with joy and reverent abandon. Seldom straying too far from the arrangements we know by heart, they still find plenty of room to infuse fresh energy and witty interplay.

A history of tv hits

America in Primetime, a four-part PBS series debuting Oct. 30, documents the characters and stories that shaped American popular culture over the past 50 years or so. The four topics examine men, women, crusaders, and misfits, featuring interviews with everyone from the creators of "The Cosby Show" and "The Sopranos" to Alan Alda, Roseanne Barr, and Jerry Seinfeld.

Humanity's one great story

Joseph Campbell: Mythos III, The Shaping of the Western Tradition is the latest in an ongoing series of lectures by one of the great storytellers of our time. This DVD set contains five episodes that deal with topics ranging from the Arthurian romances to the quest for the Holy Grail to Thomas Mann.

Back to the future

Dear Photograph (dearphotograph.com) might set you pawing through that box of fading family photos. The site invites users to go to a location where an old photo was taken and take a new one of the same spot, adding a message. One person stood in front of a lawn and held up a picture of siblings playing on the grass, writing, "Thanks for reminding me of the days when we used to get along so nicely." The five-month-old website vets submissions that lean toward the wistful or thankful.

Tinker, Tailor ... returns

The vintage cold-war spy TV miniseries starring Alec Guinness as John le Carré's bleak hero, George Smiley, Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, returns on DVD just in time to coincide with the feature film release, starring Gary Oldman and Colin Firth. What a treat to revisit a modern classic.

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