blackcab_crop.jpg

From Hard Day’s Night to Top of the Pops (R.I.P.), the Brits have always had a knack for filming music. Their latest good idea is the Black Cab Sessions, a web video series filmed from the back of a London cab.

The pay for the gig is the price of a cab ride, flagged down on the day of the shoot. The cabbie introduces the band, or often enough, just the frontman. (The cab’s aren’t big, after all.) The songs are all recorded in one take, usually on the way from the hotel to the venue, so the sessions have an immediacy and intimacy that’s increasingly rare in music. The camera periodically pans across the street for a little incidental London scenery, just so you don’t forget where you are.

The rides themselves vary, from the Raveonettes’ gridlocked session to the National’s long dark cab ride home. Bill Callahan (also known as Smog) gets a little unintended accompaniment from passing cars, but it only adds to the urban ambience. Spoon’s Britt Daniel is effortlessly perfect as always (and still rocking the Ray-Bans) while Okkervil River’s Will Sheff turns in a harmonica-assisted version of Big Star’s “Big Black Car.”

Sung, unfortunately, in an orange minicab.

-R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom