Hello, and welcome to Special Ed. I’m Jason Pollock, and I’d like for us to consider 3D presentation for a moment.
Please keep the knee-jerk “3D sucks/blows/other imaginative verb” comments in your pocket for a bit, please?
To me, what I am about to convey are the most important concepts regarding the format. I’ve covered some of this before, but based on what I see to be persistent misconceptions, I’d like to go over some of this again, if you’ll indulge me…
When he spoke of Avatar, James Cameron explained that the film was mastered multiple times to test for proper brightness. Prints were prepared for specific projection systems to insure that light and color presentation compensated for the mild dimming effect of the glasses (and if you don’t believe that it’s mild – stare into the sun with them. They’re not Wayfarers).
Eye strain – when it does happen – is caused by the two alternating images being out of alignment. While working on Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Michael Bay spoke of the ability to tweak this in post if he saw it occurring – to bring the images back into phase, as it were.
So…hacky post-conversion notwithstanding (and I say “hacky” because fantastic post-conversion work is possible – I can speak to the stellar work done on the Toy Story films, as well as the IMAX presentations of Superman Returns and Nightmare Before Christmas) – when you see shitty theatrical 3D, it’s because THE THEATER YOU’RE SITTING IN FUCKED IT UP.
And if you see shitty HOME 3D – it’s because THE PERSON WHO SET UP THE TELEVISION FUCKED IT UP (unless you’re watching an LG or Vizio set – the “passive” tech simply doesn’t work right).
Prices on 3D televisions have come down to where a premium is almost nonexistent. Soon, 3D sets will be de rigueur – the way it’s become almost impossible to find sets (at a certain size and price point) without web connectivity. We’re getting to that place where the long dreamed of “set-top box” is simply the set – and it will be able to stream video…to sync to wireless devices…to surf the web, and yes – to deliver 3D content. You may never use any of this tech (I accidentally connected one of my TVs to the internet once), but it’ll all be onboard.
It’s a situation that reminds me of the dawn of DVD. People who had no interest in the format bought a disc or two just to see what the films would look like when they watched them on their Playstation 2. It wasn’t why they bought the machine, but when they saw the difference in quality between VHS and DVD – they became quick converts.
I truly believe that once people see the brilliant image – and discover that the eyewear is actually lightweight and comfy – and play a few insane games of Crysis or Killzone 3 (3D games are so awesome) – 3D will become fun at home.
The only real roadblock to adoption is content– and in that regard, both studios and purveyors of 3D hardware have cut their noses to spite their faces. The idea that AVATAR is a Panasonic exclusive is just disgusting. The film that should have driven adoption has hardly hit the market because of an exclusivity agreement (at least Avatar’s exclusivity is held by the company that makes the best 3D hardware. If you’re gonna’ buy a set – Panasonic is the way to go). These deals are commonplace, as some of the biggest and best 3D titles (in terms of execution as well as box office) are controlled by Sony, Samsung, and Panasonic – you can only get them by investing in one company’s tech.
For three of those titles, exclusivity (of a sort) ends today.
Monsters vs. Aliens was charming enough for a children’s film, and the 3D was great. Megamind was a surprising amount of fun. But the big news…?
The big news is that the 3D Blu Ray of HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON – one of the best films of last year, hands down – is no longer a Samsung exclusive. The title was commanding up to $100.00 in the secondary market (the only thing pricier is a copy of Avatar), and now it will be $34.99 at Best Buy.
Unfortunately – it’s only available at Best Buy. Like I said, exclusivity of a sort ends today.
Still, this means the film will be far more accessible to format owners. I’ll be picking mine up in a few hours – after I’m through helping to shape the minds of America’s youth (if all went according to plan, this went live during my tutoring gig).
FRINGE: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON
This show just gets cooler and weirder. Imagine the X-Files if it were good, and there was a rapport between characters, and you’d have an idea of what’s going on here – only the conspiracies are completely devoid of bees, so…bonus.
Heard nothing but good things about this film, and I have love in my heart for Eric Bana (and Cate Blanchett – it’s just not the same kind of love…at least I don’t think it is), so I’ll be checking this out shortly.
THE HILLS HAVE EYES
I can’t not laugh whenever I hear the title of this film. Not because it’s not a serviceable picture, but because I have a moron for a kid brother, and he thought for years that the name of the film was The Hills Have GUYS, and my friends and I never bothered to correct him because it was too funny on too many different levels.
Maybe The Hills Have Guys could be the David DeCoteau version?
I’ve heard a lot of anger lately about the new Anchor Bay Blu Ray of Evil Dead 2 that’s coming in Novembre, and I’d like to clear up some confusion (’cause that’s how I do):
1) As many times as they repackaged Raimi’s Holy Trilogy on us, the Bay only released Evil Dead 2 on Blu Ray once (and, interestingly, it’s the one they released the fewest times over formats).
2) That disc was dogshit. Colors were muted and weird, the picture was so soft it looked like Raimi used cameras previously employed on the set of Dynasty, and it regurgitated old extras (that weren’t all that great).
3) Anchor Bay is not responsible for this new disc. The 25th Anniversary Evil Dead 2 Blu Ray is a Lionsgate product.
4) Michael Felsher of Red Shirt Pictures is on board as master of quality control – and to produce an entirely new slate of extras.
“Waitaminnit,” I hear you ask. “What in the blu hell does this have to do with Scarface?”
5) None of the double, triple, and quadripple dipple (got all Snoop there for a second) Anchor Bay has ever pulled can come close to comparing to Universal Picture’s insaaane exploitation of Brian De Palma’s worst film – Scarface.
Yes – in a world where Bonfire of the Vanities exists, this is De Palma’s worst film. It’s utterly tone-deaf, criminally racist, and a neon hell to gaze upon.
I understand that the garishness is of the time, to an extent – but the whole thing is such a fucking mess. Pacino is unconscionably bad in this film, and I’ve never fully forgiven Michelle Pfeiffer for her character or her performance here.
I’ve always felt like Carlito’s Way served as DePalma’s private catharsis and public apology for this gilded turd of a gangster saga.
As I mentioned, Uni has released the bleeding shit out of this flick – they’ve delivered five or six different SKUs of this fucker over the last three or four years, and they’ve been pretty much the same image from the same master – but they’re packaged with pimp cups and money clips and medallions and cigar boxes and other stupid shizzle 4 the WannaGs in yo’ lyfe. Can’t wait until they do the box set that comes with two grams of coke – the possession charge with every purchase would be an awesome way to keep it gangsta.
I should take this opportunity to mention that MGM releases a good DePalma film today:
DRESSED TO KILL
It’s one of the Hitch homages – but it’s a fun one. The Lion (or Fox – are they still releasing MGM titles?) slapped a sticker on it that reads, “From the director of Scarface” – but anyone fooled into picking the film up based on that ringing endorsement is going to be sorely fucking disappointed – and probably very confused.
Finally – for whatever reason, the great X-MEN: FIRST CLASS comes out on Friday. Guess they thought they were special.
IT MEANS EVERYTHING: THE BLU RAY OF THE WEEK!
THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR SAM PECKINPAH’S STRAW DOGS BELOW.
So this is getting the Blu bow because of the impending release of the remake, I guess…
The original is great, and it holds up so well, and it says exceedingly sinister things about what it is to be a man…and how much women just plain suck.
I’m kidding, totally – but was Bloody Sam?
The misogyny tag was something that followed Sam Peckinpah around before he made this movie, and once he made it, there was nothing he could have done to lose that tag if he lived to be a hundred. Ostensibly the tale of David and Amy Sumner (Dustin Hoffman and Susan George), a married couple under obvious strain, who return to her quiet hometown (David’s American, Amy’s a “cunt’ry” Englishwoman) so that David can craft a mathematics text, Straw Dogs is really about women and men and men and men and power and violence.
The couple hires some local riff-raff to do some work on their home – but what they end up doing is ogling Amy – who…well…the film gets sticky here – who likes the attention.
Amy likes the attention. Period. Peckinpah has said that is the wrong read on the material – but he was lying. The character knows what she’s doing, even when she’s being petulant. Especially when she’s being petulant.
To wit – at a certain point, George’s Amy – after an argument with David/Hoffman – tries to entice him upstairs for what we can assume is the make-up sex portion of the day’s festivities. He begs off, but as she ascends the steps, she ditches her top and playfully drops it on him. His response to this is to tell her to make sure she closes the curtains this time if she’s going to bathe – which annoys her. So she ascends the steps – topless – and stops in front of a window at the top of the stairs just long enough for the men working on the roof of the garage to get a good look at her action. When we consider Hoffman’s “this time” – we can assume that perhaps she’s “accidentally” bathed in full view of random dudes before, the saucy bint…
One of the men on the roof is Charlie (Del Henney) – a guy she used to have relations with.
Of course, this behavior doesn’t mean a woman deserves to be violated – but it really does seem like the message we should be getting from this character is, “My husband is not giving me attention – sexual or otherwise – and I used to fuck the guy on the roof over there, so maybe if I give him an eyeful, he’ll take a hint.”
Susan George delivers a great performance in this film, because it’s so tough to figure out how much of her naiveté is her character putting on a show…so difficult to deduce how aware of her actions she is – and how they drive the narrative. This is a film that – from the exact moment her character is introduced, wants the audience to be complicit in her impending sexual assault (we literally have no choice but to check out her rack) – but the larger question is, is she?
We’re not supposed to ever think that a woman was/is “asking for it” – but having her attacker be someone with whom she had a previous sexual relationship…and having her husband constantly passive-aggressively insult her (but fail in so much as rasing his voice to anyone else) – and oftentimes rebuke her sexual advances…well – it certainly muddies the waters. When Charlie finally attacks her, we wonder if she gives in to her ex simply because she knows that fighting will make him hurt her, or because she really wants to be fucked rough, and he’s the guy to take care of that. Based on George’s performance, it could be either one – and that’s part of why the film is still regarded as controversial – and why it’s so uncomfortable.
Moments after Charlie’s assault, we’re given a merciful yet merciless out from this consideration, but the damage is done. The seed is planted. We know that there’s a part of Amy that wanted this to happen. And whether that’s irresponsibility on the part of Peckinpah and his collaborators, or merely a discomfiting look at a sad, scary part of the human psyche has been discussed since 1971.
The other controversial component is that Hoffman’s character is so much of a passive being; throughout the film, the mechanics of his relationship with his wife amount to Amy just poking at him until he reaches a sort of whiney defeat – but when the third act kicks in, and the former employees want into the house to do harm to the couple – David gives a defiant Amy the back of his hand (in a way that echoes Amy’s previous paintbrushing at the hands of Charlie) – and this aggressive, liberated woman suddenly falls in line. If Peckinpah is saying that even the softest, most liberal guy can find the violent fucker within, is he also saying that the most liberated women will know her role and shut her hole when confronted by him?
I wonder if the remake is prepared to touch on any of this. I don’t have much hope.
ALL IN – THE REST OF THE BLU:
40 Days and 40 Nights
America: Live in Chicago
The Battle for Marjah
Big Momma’s House
Black Blood Brothers Collection
Burst Angel Box Set
Children of the Corn
Clash of Empires
Dressed To Kill
Emerson Lake & Palmer: 40th Anniversary Reunion Concert
Everything Must Go
Fringe: The Complete Third Season
Hellbound: Hellraiser II
The Hills Have Eyes
A Horrible Way to Die
The Office: Season Seven
Punisher & Punisher War Zone Double Feature
REO Speedwagon: Live in the Heartland
Scarface Limited Edition
Scooby-Doo: Legend of the Phantosaur
Scream Collection Gift Set
Tai Chi Master
Thomas & Friends: Day of the Diesels
WWE Randy Orton: The Evolution of a Predator
AND NOW THE DVD STARTS:
COMMUNITY: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
Need I say more?
Fine, I will: this is a close as we’ll ever get to SPACED in America.
VIDAL SASSOON: THE MOVIE
This doesn’t look good. And if they don’t look good, YOU don’t look good.
Hey – comedy for three people! On EARTH. WHO AREN’T READING THIS.
Stay tuned – I’m gonna’ make a cutting-edge Prince Matchabelli reference. Might even follow it up with my classic Bain de Soleil gag…
AND ALL THE REST:
Airwolf: The Movie
Alaska’s Wild Denali
Alaska: The Edge of Life
Aldebaran Mystery & the Eisenhower Briefing Papers
All About: A World of Learning! Volume 1
All About: A World of Learning! Volume 2
America: Live in Chicago
Babar: Best Friends Forever
Babar: School Days
Back To The Beyond
Bad News Bears 4-Movie Collection
Bed & Breakfast
Billy Blanks: Bootcamp SOS
Billy Blanks: Tae Bo Ripped Extreme
Bleach Box Set 10
Cagin of Chrysaint
Care Bears: Share Bear Shines Movie
Children of the Corn Collection
A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song
The Civil War: 150th Anniversary
Clash of Empires
The Classic Sci-Fi Collection: Volume 2
Community: The Complete Second Season
Criminal Minds Suspect Behavior: The DVD Edition
Criminal Minds: Season 6
Death Toll/Stick Up Kids
Denise Austin: Sculpt & Burn Body Blitz
Destry: The Complete Series
Diana Rigg at the BBC
Dogs: Man’s Best Friend
Drak Pack: The Complete Series
Emerson Lake & Palmer: 40th Anniversary Reunion Concert
Everything Must Go
Firm: Turbocharge Weight Loss
Fringe: The Complete Third Season
High School Musical China
A Horrible Way to Die
Jillian Michaels: Killer Buns & Thighs
Kathryn Budig: Aim True Yoga
The King & the Clown
The Last Kung Fu Monk
Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer: The Complete Series
Moby Dick/Mighty Mightor Complete Series
Nightmare Next Door
No Ordinary Family: The Complete First Season
The Office: Season Seven
Olivia: Princess for a Day
On Strike for Christmas
Oz & James’ Big French Wine Adventure
Parks & Recreation: Season Three
Police Story: Season One
Relax & Restore
Rodney Yee’s Daily Yoga
Saturday Morning Cartoon Classics
Scooby-Doo: Legend of the Phantosaur
The Secrets of Isis
Sesame Street: Elmo’s Music Magic
Shaolin Concept Training: Advanced
Shaolin Concept Training: Basic
Shaolin Speed Training
Shape: Pink Power Flat Abs 5 Ways
Shockorama: William Beaudine Collection
Sigmund and the Sea Monsters: Season 1
Street Fighter: New Challengers
Team Umizoomi: Journey to Numberland
Thomas & Friends: Day of the Diesels
Titans of Yoga
To Love Ru: The Complete Collection
Trail of the Panda
Two and a Half Men: The Complete Eighth Season
Ultimate Dog Tails: Volume 1
Ultimate Dog Tails: Volume 2
Utah’s National Parks
Vidal Sassoon: The Movie
Water Films by Greg Slawson: North American Edition
Wes Craven Collection
WWE Randy Orton: The Evolution of a Predator
Yoga Journal: Advance Your Practice
Yoga Journal: Complete Home Practice
X-Men: First Class
NOW THAT’S WHAT CHUD CALLS MUSIC – WITH JEB DELIA!
LINDSEY BUCKINGHAM – SEEDS WE SOW
It’s surprising how easily Buckingham seems to slide back into the retro mode when there’s a Fleetwood Mac tour on the horizon. Yeah, the money’s good, but I doubt he needs it, and the man we meet in his solo recordings seems so content with his new life (happily married, three kids), that it feels odd to see him retreat back into the role of “touring past glories” hitmaker. Fortunately, though, neither domestic bliss or the glow of nostalgia are blunting his considerable talents as composer, producer, and guitarist.
On his third album in five years, Buckingham handles not only the writing and producing, but plays nearly every instrument himself, and self-released through his own new label. Perhaps more than any of his peers, Buckingham continues to amaze with not just the technical brilliance of his guitar playing, but the sheer variety of different tones and stylings: “One Take” is busy and blistering, “In Our Own Time” glows with shimmering harmonies, and “Rock Away Blind” recalls his clean, epic fretwork on Mac classics like “Go Your Own Way.” And while it can be argued that the Mac’s turbulent times caused him to dig deeper with his songwriting than he does today, he’s still able to inhabit a song like “Stars Are Crazy” or “That’s The Way Love Goes” as though he were still burning with the flames that stoked the sexual carousel that was Mac in its heyday. For sheer gorgeous pop genius, highly recommended.
THE RAPTURE – IN THE GRACE OF YOUR LOVE
From Brooklyn to Paris, with an 80’s mixtape on the stereo.
The Rapture has spent the last decade or so traveling back in time to when they first heard The Cure or Echo and the Bunnymen: unlike a lot of people who either didn’t live through the 80’s, or only vaguely remember it through the haze of coke, they understood that great pop music needs more than banks of synthesizers: lifting guitar slash from “Billie Jean” and “Do It Clean,” aping the dirty sax of “Pretty in Pink,” recognizing that the signature sound of “Killing Moon” isn’t the echoing keyboards, but the reverberant slide. But while 2003’s Echo (no coincidence?) leaned heavily on the jagged inspiration of singers like Robert Smith and Richard Butler, wild percussion and scratchy atonal riffs, there’s been a decided smoothing out of the sound since; more consistent on the dance floor, I suppose, but not as engaging to the ear. I mean, these guys were never exactly as roughly ramshackle as the Happy Mondays, but did they really need to turn into Visage?
Despite claiming that they’re “not looking back,” “Sail Away” gets us off to a familiarly bland start: simplistic keyboards riffing over a drumbeat so static and predictable that it would only work as a frame against which to place some powerful songwriting; sadly, Luke Jenner’s shrill “Sail, sail away with you / Gonna stay, gonna stay with you” doesn’t quite cut it. “Miss You” is at least graced with some loping bass from Gabriel Andruzzi and retro-60’s handclaps, but the keyboards cheese it out again. “Roller Coaster” rolls and flows appropriately, but never finds anything new to do with the metaphor: “If life’s a roller coaster / Then I want to get off”; Anthony Newly, call your office. The scrappy, raw closer “It Takes Time To Be A Man” is a bit closer to the mark, but it suffers from having “borrowed” words and bits of melody from “Lean on Me.” I did like the emotional honesty of “Children” and “How Deep Is Your Love?” (not the Bee Gees tune, sadly), though, suggesting that this album’s weaknesses might represent a small misstep, maybe the sound of the band adjusting to the Europop tendencies of new producer Phillippe Zdar. There may still be another “Sister Saviour” or “Love Is All” coming from these guys yet.
TOM RUSSELL – MESABI
There’s a reason that Tom Russell is Dave Alvin’s favorite songwriter (well, beyond the fact that he’s a pretty fine songwriter): the Blasters existed at the intersection of Dave and brother Phil’s love for R&B, blues, and rockabilly; apart from that, though, Phil was the jazz guy, while Dave? Dave loved, among other things, the sentimental, maudlin, cowboy songs of the 50’s and 60’s. They’re clearly among Russell’s influences, as well, but where Alvin is able to mute the corn with his keen observational eye, dry understatement, and personal warmth, Russell tends toward full-blown melodrama; failure is catastrophe, and regret, for him, is invariably bitter. He is, however, an amazing storyteller, and on this album he’s crafted what amounts to a riveting song cycle about death and disillusion in California.
The album begins as a couple of boys take divergent paths out of Minnesota’s Masabi range: Bob Dylan winds up in Greenwich Village (where, the story goes, Liam Clancy used to steal his girlfriends), and Russell finds himself in Southern California, where tales of fast fame and slow death abound. We meet Disney child star Bobby Driscoll, who grows into a bitter old man, snarling at the young Russell when they meet on the street; Ukelele Ike, whose Disney connection was providing the original voice for Jiminy Cricket (and who spent his whole career misspelling the name of his instrument); Sterling Hayden, who finds that playing the tough guy onscreen won’t help you stand up to the grinding Hollywood system; and Elizabeth Taylor in the simple, sweet “Furious Love (For Liz),” a wide-eyed confession of her power to spellbind. The Hollywood songs are linked by “When The Legends Die”: “Well, most of ‘em are gone, but they fly around / Like angels in my unconscious mind.” But things head farther south after that, and the sad tales of Tinseltown past give way to grim visions of the misery that inflicts the US-Mexican border today, in “And God Created Border Towns,” Goodnight, Juarez,” and “Jai Alai,” the album’s high points.
Russell’s singing has never been up to the level of his writing: his serviceable voice is flat and somewhat anonymous, sharing the rough “everyman” quality, but not the character or distinctive timbre, of predecessors like Woody Guthrie or Hank Williams. I wonder if that’s why Masabi seems so overproduced: granted, having Van Dyke Parks on your album sort of necessitates a certain “wall of sound”, but the crazy-quilt aspect of mariachi horns here, Calexico there, xylophone, strings and Augie Meyers tends to reinforce the histrionics in some of the songs: Russell might not have a great voice, but his songs are shaped to it, and it works best on tracks like the simple, quiet remake of his “Love Abides,” which closes the “official” part of the album. This is followed, by the way, by a pair of “bonus” tracks: one is a nice reading of the theme to Monte Hellman’s film Road to Nowhere; the other is 8:54 of Dylan’s appropriately thematic “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall,” in a duet with Lucinda Williams, and… remember how I said that Russell’s strengths are in his writing, not his singing? That kinda goes double for Williams. And this is a cover. That lasts for nine minutes. If you get my drift.
HUGH LAURIE – LET THEM TALK
(Note: we covered this as an import last spring; this week’s domestic release is in conjunction with an upcoming PBS special/DVD release).
Before House, Laurie’s signature role was as the definitive Bertie Wooster in the Jeeves and Wooster TV series. Set in between-the-world-wars England, the show would periodically feature Bertie sitting down at the piano to bash out the latest “hot jazz”, and the joke would be hearing him deliver something like “Minnie the Moocher” in his best arch London clubman’s accent. And for all this album’s considerable musical virtues, that’s the aspect that’s hardest to get past: eight years of playing an American have lent a weird trans-Atlantic aspect to Laurie’s vocals, and hearing him bray “Josh’a fit’ de battle ub Jericho” like the ghost of Al Jolson leaves the listener torn between giggles at the awkwardness and admiration for the enthusiasm. Because the album’s saving graces are two: that same boundless enthusiasm that Laurie and his fellow musicians show for the material, and Laurie’s extraordinarily powerful piano playing.
The song selections lean in the direction of what Bertie and his contemporaries would have understood as “the blues,” (“John Henry,” “Buddy Bolden’s Blues,” even reaching back as far as “Swanee River”) but which today we think of more as a New Orleans-style boogie-woogie, and Laurie has the feel and rhythm of the style as if he were born to it (despite his modest disclaimer that “no gypsy woman told my mother anything when I was born”). He demonstrates his range right off the bat by opening the album with a stunning two-minute solo improvisation, with elements of jazz and classical stylings, before launching into a powerful “St James Infirmary,” and the album rarely flags from there, with Laurie demonstrating an amazing facility for capturing the music’s idiom.
In Joe Henry’s production, the backing musicians share Laurie’s exhilaration, though there’s the occasional stylistic disconnect in the post-modern resonance of the T-Bone Burnett inspired arrangements, but when you bring in Allen Toussaint to handle the horn charts, you’re never far from the Crescent City. Laurie’s singing is decidedly an acquired taste (he sometimes makes The Blues Brothers sound subtle), but as a pianist, while he may not be Professor Longhair, he can certainly be mentioned in the same breath with Harry Connick, Dr John (who contributes vocals to the album as well) or Toussaint himself. On that basis, highly recommended.
OTHER NOTABLE 9/6 RELEASES:
George Strait – Here for a Good Time I have to give Strait props: he’s never tried the “roots” move that would likely have fallen flat on its face, but neither is he interested in moving into the “hair metal with a twang” that constitutes a lot of today’s “country” music: he’s still the countrypolitan heir to George Jones and Hank Snow, and good for him. Says here that the title track is his 89th career single.
Frank Sinatra & Count Basie – The Complete Reprise Studio Recordings Over the years, the two excellent studio recordings that Sinatra and Basie made together (1963’s An Historical Musical First and 1964’s A Swingin’ Affair) have been rather eclipsed by their followup: 1966’s rousing, definitive, live Sinatra At The Sands. So this is a nice pairing for Sinatra fans who don’t know these original sessions. I had hoped that this reissue, which puts both LP’s on one CD, would have some bonus or alternate material not seen on previous CD issues. Alas, no. Decent remastering, though, and fans can continue to debate whether “I Can’t Stop Loving You” is the apex, or the nadir, of Sinatra’s ring-a-ding-ding run-in with the 60’s.
Various Artists – Listen To Me: Buddy Holly I used to work for Verve’s parent distributor, and the only thing they ever knew how to market was classic jazz reissues, thus explaining why Hear Music’s Rave On Buddy Holly got all kinds of press earlier this year, while this Verve release is sneaking out like an underage teenager. If Rave On Buddy Holly was more remarkable for folks like Paul McCartney and Lou Reed trying to see just how far from Holly they could get while still honoring him, this time out, it’s an assortment that includes Brian Wilson, Chris Isaak, and Stevie Nicks, among others, doing pleasant, if predictable, Holly soundalike covers. Imelda May perks things up on “I’m Lookin’ For Someone To Love,” Lyle Lovett finds a bit of grit in “Well All Right,” Eric Idle’s “Raining in My Heart” is a bit of aggressive stupidity that is wisely programmed as the last track, and Zooey Deschanel goes 2-for-2 as the only artist to have appeared on both this album and Rave On, with a lovely “It’s So Easy.”
The Horrible Crowes – Elsie This is purported to be Brian Fallon’s alternative to Gaslight Anthem, a “lounge-friendly tip of the hat to the acts who have shaped another side of his musical vision.” Well, it does have some slower, ruminative pieces (“Sugar,” “I Witnessed A Crime”) but stuff like “Behold the Hurricane” and “Go Tell Everybody” are the usual Springsteen-lite. Bruce seems to like the guy, so I’ll cut him some slack.
Slaid Cleaves – Sorrow & Smoke: Live at the Horseshoe Lounge Lucinda Williams’ protege in an ideal live setting (he claims that he drove past the Horseshoe Lounge for years “before I worked up the courage to come in through the door”). The rowdy setting and vivid recording puts this shaggy storyteller right at your table, weeping into your beer.
Jessy J – Hot Sauce Cute cover pic, smoove sax, quiet-storm grooves, but there’s nothing remotely hot going on here.
Suzi Quatro – In the Spotlight 2011’s second rockin’ grandma: at least Wanda Jackson was the oldest person on her album. In fact, Quatro is practically a kid in this context, as former producer Mike Chapman shows up, and not only is James Burton in tow, but he’s joined by the goddam Jordanaires for the cringingly awful Elvis tribute “Singing With Angels,” whose lyrics are mostly the titles of Elvis’ songs, and which, as a tribute to the fallen, makes “Rock and Roll Heaven” sound like “Tonight’s the Night.” She also covers Goldfrapp. Don’t ask.
Wu Lyf – Go Tell Fire To The Mountain Madchester lives! Pick to click: the jolly “Spitting Blood.”
From Bikes to Trains to - WHAT THE FUCK? TONY RYAN?! TONY RYAN!!
I’d like to take a moment to thank Brian Condry, who has to step away from Special Ed for awhile. He was the goods. I hope you find peace, my friend.
When Brian informed me he had to bolt – and I realized I had to somehow replace him – I could only think of one person.
Well, after I was able to stop thinking about Imogen Poots - I could only think of one person.
So…without any further quoting of Highlander: Endgame…Ladies (oh, c’mon now, Jason – who’re you trying to kid?) and Gentlemen (oh, c’mon now, Jason – who’re you tryin’ to kid?) – please welcome Tony Ryan.
Hi, my name is Tony and I’m here with the Special Ed crew because my mom sniffed glue when she was pregnant. Also, because Jason asked me. My gamertag is Dedant on both PSN and XBLA, so you can bitch at me for having stupid opinions over there. Now this is a week full of big (and odd) releases, so let’s talk about upcoming software for our video entertainment systems.
DEAD ISLAND (PS3, 360, PC)
An open world zombie killing game with an American rapper named Sam B. God bless the Eastern Bloc. You can dismiss the whole zombie thing, but European interpretations of Americans never get old. Dead Island comes from Techland, the same studio that brought us this years worst idea; Call of Juarez: The Cartel. Besides zombies, expect a bunch of F bombs and sentences that end in a preposition then. Possibly, vehicle sections where you are being driven around by a seeing eye dog. I really wish they went full Cartel and had us play as one of the islands child soldiers. But, at the very least it’ll have that fleeting feeling of oppression and bread lines that Techland nail(‘d)s perfectly. It may be a recipe for a terrible, broken experience or it might an open world zombie game with loot that also happens to be extremely awkward. Either way it sounds like Fallout with zombies and has the best original rap since Donkey Kong Country, so it’s my pick of the week.
RESISTANCE 3 (PS3)
People care about this particular alien shooting FPS. Possibly because it has cool guns and takes place during World War 2. First one was a fun early PS3 game, but two felt like playing as a chubby guy covered with butter in a bad Harry Turtledove novel. Still, the beta was solid, it has the greatest cover art ever, and Insomniac has bounced back from misfires before. Plus, like every FPS on PS3 in the last year, Res 3 has move support so you can look as stupid as you want while you play.
STAR FOX 64 3D (3DS)
Like any poor sucker growing up during the Nintendo 64 era, I played the hell out of Star Fox 64. And like any sucker who bought a 3DS this year, I’ll be playing it again soon. I’m sure it’ll make a ton of money, but we should all be ashamed for buying it and encouraging those deviantART kids. Also, it’s called Star Fox 64 3D. That is a really hard algebra problem.
DISGAEA 4 (PS3)
Fucking HARDCORE, dood!
DRIVER: SAN FRANCISCO (3DS, PS3, 360)
Since this is the week for weird ass games to come out, here is a racing game that takes place in the mind of a comatose man. Somehow, this looks goddamn awesome.
WARHAMMER 40,000: SPACE MARINE (PS3, 360)
You don’t use Relic’s precious and valuable time to make a generic shooter, THQ. And because the economy is forcing every publisher to morph into Activision, when this doesn’t sell anything THQ will scrap the Warhammer license and Relic will make a Saints Row RTS. I’m undecided if that’s a good or a bad thing.
OTHER WAYS TO HURT YOUR WALLET:
Bloodrayne: Betrayal is Wayforward doing a downloadable Bloodrayne game that looks a gory 2D Castlevania. Ignore the Bloodrayne part and buy this shiz. Wayforward is good people that know 2D action games. Also on the DL front, some game called Skydrift is coming out. You race planes. Yay? PC folks get Men of War: Vietnam, which I refuse to learn anything about because it will never live up to the game I see in my head when I read that title.
And so there you have it. Hope you enjoyed the exploration. Be sure to “like” us, leave a message below, hit the message boards, and fill out the comment cards that will be distributed at the end of the screening. Thanks – and we hope you enjoy the show.