Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Slacker Tuesday: Special New Orthopedic High Fidelity Fifties Stereo Edition

And speaking as we were last week of 1950s rock classics in multi-channel audio -- from 1959, behold in breathless wonder the original basic track (sans the later over-dubbed orchestra and what John Sebastian used to call "crying yeah-yeah girls") of "Dream Lover."

In stereo, as nature intended.

Written and sung by the astonishingly great (despite that Kevin Spacey movie) Bobby Darin.

Darin, of course, was the missing link between Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, but he was even more talented than that description suggests; I've probably posted the above mp3 before, but given our recent discussion of Ritchie Valens and "La Bamba" in stereo, I figured nobody would bitch if I hocked you about it again, especially given the fact that the damn thing is just seraphically lovely. Also, I have only recently learned that the piano on the track is by none other than Neil Sedaka.

Of the single's b-side, however -- the alarmingly yclept "Bullmoose" -- I know nothing and, frankly, am disinclined to research further.

You're welcome.

Monday, September 01, 2014

It's Labor Day, Bitches!!!

Neil Young goes all solidarity on our asses, and good for him.

I should add that, traditionally, I post "Part of the Union," by The Strawbs on this holiday, but last year a Brit reader informed me that in England the song has been read as anti-, rather than pro-, the labor movement. I can't hear it myself, but I'll take his word for it.

In any case, I was gonna dedicate Neil's song to a certain 2008 Democratic presidential candidate who vowed to walk the picket lines in support of workers rights whenever they were being threatened.

I wonder what happened to that guy?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Friday Video/Movie Roundup: Special Attack of the Killer Criterions (And a Few Other Things) Edition

Well, it's Labor Day weekend, and to celebrate I thought I'd clear my desk of some of the freebies various video companies are still foolish enough to lavish upon me from time to time. Incidentally, unless otherwise noted, I partook of these on DVD.

I should also add that my little brother kindly contributed to the following, so be nice to him.

And without further ado....

1. RIOT IN CELL BLOCK 11 [Criterion DVD and Blu-Ray]

Don Siegel's groundbreaking and tough-as-nails 1954 prison flick, shot on location at Folsom with real inmates and guards as extras. Ripped from the headlines B-movie making at its best, and (coincidentally) the inspiration for a certain early rock-and-roll classic by the proto-Coasters. Criterion's transfer looks like a million bucks; cool extras include a 1974 tribute to Siegel by his pal Sam Peckinpah.


Here's the deal: Essie Davis, as the titular lady sleuth, is not just an Australian Jazz Age version of The Avengers' Mrs. Peel with even better clothes (plus she fools arouund) -- she is the greatest thing in the history of the world. Seriously. Whereas I used to be on record as saying that all women -- past present and future -- paled before the magnificence that was Lucy Lawless as Xena, Warrior Princes, I believe the torch has now been passed to a new generation of distaff kick-ass.

Okay, as you may have gathered, I'm sort of obsessed with this show, which is basically a racy version of Agatha Christie, but this second season -- which isn't quite as dark and depressing as season one, but if possible even better plotted -- is the most fun you'll have in front of your Orthicon tube anytime in the foreseeable future. I should add that a) ACORN's transfers are impeccable and b) the show has just been renewed for a third season. In short: Life is good.

3. JUDEX [Criterion DVD and Blu-ray]

The great George Franju's wonderfully stylish 1963 homage to Louis Feuillade's 1916 masked superhero serial of the same name (with nods to Feuillade's Fantomas and Les Vampires as well). Dramatically speaking it makes very little sense -- which may have been deliberate on Franju's part, given Feuillade's huge influence on the Surrealists -- but its black-and-white cinematography is ravishing, as is the musical score by Maurice Jarre and damsel in distress leading lady Edith Scob. Criterion's impeccable transfer also comes with some nifty bonus features, including a lovely 15-minute short film Franju made to celebrate cinematic pioneer George Melies.

4. IT'S A MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD [Criterion DVD and Blu-ray]

The Gone With the Wind of comedy. And stolen, as you can see in the clip, by beatnik chick Barrie Chase as the girlfriend of world class mama's boy Dick Shawn. Criterion's new version, a spectacular high-def transfer from a newly restored print, features over 30 minutes of material that has been unseen since the film's initial theatrical release (and never before on home video). The second half still drags by comparison with part I (another reason it's the GWTW of comedy), but you'll laugh your tush off at large swaths of it. And as I'm fond of saying -- two cheers for director Stanley Kramer, who, as a rule, doesn't get anywhere near the props he deserves from the critics.

5. SECONDS [Criterion Blu-ray]

John Frankenheimer's despairing black comedy sort of sci-fi flick about the worst mid-life crisis of all time may just be my favorite 60s flick in any genre. Certainly, it's the best thing Rock Hudson ever did, and it's pretty much brilliant from the opening Saul Bass title credits set to Jerry Goldsmith's chilling modernist score to the final fade-out. Criterion's new transfer, which does full justice to James Wong Howe's black-ad-white cinematography comes with an audio commentary track by director Frankenheimer, as well as a making-of featurette with interviews with Frankenheimer's widow and co-star Salome Jens

6. SALVO [FilmMovement.com -- available for streaming or on DVD beginning January 15]

An unusual and memorable movie that starts as a crime drama and then changes into a study of a relationship between two characters, with thriller and psychological elements. The plot plays out over eight consecutive summer days in contemporary Palermo, Sicily. There are three main characters, well portrayed by Saleh Bakri, Sara Serraiocco and Mario Pupello. A fourth important characters dies out of frame. This is an impressive debut for co-writer/directors Fabio Grassadonia and Antonio Piazzi. -- Drew Simels

7. BARBARY COAST (The Complete Series)[ACORN]

William Shatner, in his first TV role after Star Trek, is a master of disquise secret agent who partners with honest-but-you-got-to-watch-him saloon keeper Doug McClure (a charmless Dennis Cole in the opening pilot episode). The show didn't last long, but as tongue in cheek Western knock-offs of Mission Impossible go, it's actually a lot of fun, and Shatner and McClure have real chemistry. ACORN's source material looks amazingly good for its age, and Animal House Dean Wormer John Vernon is a great guest villain in the pilot.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

I'm So Old, I Remember When Joe Piscopo Was Actually Funny

From his 1985 classic -- seriously -- album New Jersey...

...please enjoy "The Nightclub" (featuring June Foray and Bill Scott as Rocky and Bullwinkle)...

...and "Good Morning," with June and Bill and Piscopo as David Hartman.

Or is he?

Seriously, this is great stuff -- as is the HBO special some of it derives from. My theory is the steroids destroyed his sense of humor.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Something Else About The Kinks

So my chum Allan Rosenberg has heard -- as have you, probably, if you're a regular reader of this here blog -- the rumors about a possible reunion by the Battling Davies Brothers, aka The Kinks. The other day, (8/20/14, on his intertube radio show) he read the following manifesto in response, which I thought should get a wider airing, and hence I reproduce it here.

What's a hardcore Kinks fan to do with all this talk of a Kinks reunion. With the Davies Brothers making demands of each other before they will agree to a reunion, it's time that this Kinks fan lays down his own set of demands before he will get on board with the reunion. Here they are:

1- There must be an album of quality new material to prove The Kinks are a living, breathing, working band.

2- Mick Avory should participate in all recording sessions and follow up touring. He was a great drummer and a great Kink.

3-All disagreements, arguments and fights should take place in public (preferably) on stage for all the fans and press to see just like in the old days.

4-With Pete Quaffe gone Ray and Dave should try to secure John Dalton and John Gosling if possible.

5- Ray and Dave should be in the studio at the same time helping each other so there is a true Kinks album not two parallel solo albums hiding as a band album.

6- The album should be recorded as live as possible to avoid the sound of the lifeless over rendered later day albums.

7- Finally the band should play in theaters of varying sizes to avoid the their lifeless arena rock performances of the 1980's and 90's.

I hope these suggestions will serve as guidelines to a viable Kinks' reunion compared to the nothingless void or travesty we will most likely get.

Your thoughts?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Your Tuesday Moment of Indolence.

Just not movin' and groovin' with my usual alacrity today.

Regular, and peppier, posting resumes tomorrow.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Your Monday Moment of Holy Crap, The Modern Rock Band as We Know It Begins Here

From the 1972 British LP On Air -- although the songs themselves were recorded, almost certainly, in 1960 -- please behold in breathless wonder actual pretty good quality live recordings of the incredibly great Eddie Cochran performing in front of a live teen scream audience.

With the immortal "Summertime Blues"....

...and (the to my ears, sometimes, even better)"C'Mon Everybody."

Those were recorded in England, of course (where Cochran was a much bigger star than he was in the States) and presumably on that last 1960 tour just before his tragic death in the same car crash that crippled Gene Vincent. I should add that just about every subsequently famous aspiring British guitar player followed Cochran around on that tour, including a teenaged George Harrison.

I really think Cochran was potentially the greatest and most innovative of them all, and that includes Buddy Holly (who was, admittedly, more prolific). In any case, I hadn't heard those two tracks until last week when my chum Allan Rosenberg played them on his intertube radio show and blew my tiny mind. I mean, this stuff achieves heavyosity, and this is in 1960, fercrissakes.

Incidentally, all four hours of said show are now archived and available for streaming over here at HERE; scroll down and click on the link for Lost at Sea episodes 8/19/14 and 8/19/20.

A real cool time is guaranteed for all.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Your Friday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 1958, please enjoy in breathless wonder a STEREO version of Ritchie Valens' classic "La Bamba." A record that Greil Marcus rightly called one of the most exciting in 50s rock, and in this incarnation is even more exciting.

I must confess that I did not know that this existed until I heard it Tuesday as a guest on my chum Allan Rosenberg's intertube radio show (I'll put the archive link to the show up as soon as the station posts it).

In any case, a mindblower -- you're conditioned to think of 50s rock in mono, in sort of the same way you're conditioned to think of World War II in black-and-white, so when you discover something like this the effect is almost psychedelic.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Reverend Charles M. Young 1951-2014

A hell of a nice guy and probably the last amusing prose stylist at Rolling Stone.

He also played bass in the hilarious punk band Iron Prostate, whose CD can still be found over at Amazon HERE

Here, however, is their masterpiece -- the single "Bring Me the Head of Jerry Garcia."

Produced by Jim Steinman, of all people.

You can read more about Chuck's life and work over here at ROCKCRITICS.COM

And may I just add, and for the record, that this death shit is really starting to piss me off.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Your Wednesday Moment of Words Fail Me

From 2014 and her most recent album, please enjoy in breathless wonder farm-girl turned punkette prodigy Lydia Loveless -- or, as I like to think of her, the Anti-Taylor Swift -- and the best damn version of Kirsty MacColl's sublime "They Don't Know" ever.

To my considerable embarrassment, I was unaware of Ms. Loveless until last night's appearance on my pal Allan's internet radio show (which was a lot of fun, BTW -- I'll post a link to it as soon as it's archived, which should be by Monday). In any case, when Al played the above it blew my tiny mind -- let's just say that this gal is the genuine article.