One week later – and I know now why the studios didn’t bother with new product. They didn’t have to. Reports are trickling in that this might have been the best Black Friday in history, and the bulk of it was home entertainment. Kinda’ sick – even for someone who loves this stuff as much as I do. So much for a boycott – but you can’t change the world without spilling blood anyway, so enjoy the credit debt.
30 MINUTES OR LESS
An extremely awesome cast can’t interest me in a project from Ruben Fleischer, the font of bland responsible for Zombieland. His first film was nothing unique, and this film seems so samey that there are allegations of actual thievery. Seems like something destined to show up on the USA Network. Characters welcome.
CAVE OF FORGOTTEN DREAMS
Werner Herzog’s notion of playing it safe is somehow still compelling. When he inexplicably signs on to make the sequel to an aged indie flick, we get Port of Call: New Orleans. And when he does a documentary, we get the awesome Little Dieter Needs to Fly, and this film – a 3D exploration of the world’s earliest cave paintings so captivating that it managed to get Roger Ebert to knock it the fuck off for five seconds about 3D (one wonders if Werner Herzog did an adaptation of ICO, Ebert might see his way to a respect for the artistry of video games).
The lost art of anthology horror falls into the hands of the Dark Backward’s Adam Rifkin, Frozen’s Adam Green, 2001 Maniacs‘s Tim Sullivan, and my hero, Joe Lynch – who managed to make a DTV sequel to a shitty film into something that just sings. Wrong Turn 2 is glorious. I’ve read good things about this project, but horror fans can and do get excited about less that stellar work, so…caveat klemptor.
ZEBRAMAN 2: ATTACK ON ZEBRA CITY
Takashi Miike returns to his sad-sack schoolteacher superhero franchise(?) with a film that is said to out-batshit the original.
Now when I say “Takashi Miike” and “batshit” – a certain picture emerges. That picture will invariably include entrails. And possibly genitalia. But what you may not know and must understand is that Takashi is the ultimate journeyman, and he’s just as likely to apply his gonzo sensibilities to a raucous kiddie pic – like The Great Yokai War – as he is to shit out something utterly depraved…all over your face. The “batshit” of Zebraman is a safer and more fun-loving bastshit than the batshit of oh, say…ICHI THE KILLER. I need to check this shit out.
IT MEANS EVERYTHING: THE BLU RAY OF THE WEEK!
TUCKER AND DALE VS EVIL
I adore this movie. Killer wit, a great cast delivering fun, knowing performances (Tyler Labine’s every moment on screen is wondrous. Even in silence, he’s stealing this flick), and subversion and manipulation of genre tropes and expectations in the joyful tradition of Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon. The premise is disarmingly simple: What if the weird, creepish hillbillies living in the woods only wanted to help?
ALL IN – THIS WEEK’S BLU:
30 Minutes or Less
5 Days of War
Adele: Live at Royal Albert Hall
The Art of Getting By
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Chaos Head: The Complete Series
Dixie Chicks: VH1 Storytellers
K-ON! Volume 4
The Moon in the Gutter
Nature: Radioactive Wolves
Now & Later
Our Idiot Brother
Smallville: The Complete Tenth Season
Star Driver: Part 1
Tucker & Dale vs. Evil
WWE Stone Cold Steve Austin
Yu Yu Hakusho: Season 4
Zebraman 2: Attack on Zebra City
NOW THAT’S WHAT CHUD CALLS MUSIC – WITH JEB DELIA!
Another slow week for new releases (Adele live, Beyonce live, “Follies” live, etc.). So rather than bore you (and myself), here’s a recap of some recently-released box sets that make nice holiday gifts… and if you actually KNOW someone who wants a box set of early music by John Prine or the complete Chess recordings of Howlin’ Wolf, well happy damn holidays to them and to you.
The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions. As usual, there’s a variety of different ways to indulge in this one, depending on how much one is willing to pony up. No question, though, this is the rare example of a set that offers, both in the unreleased recordings and the accompanying notes from the participants, unusual insight into the creative process. It’s not an album for casual listening, and by the time you get through the multi-disk set, you start to understand why Brian Wilson went crazy. But if you know a serious Beach Boys fan, they’re waiting.
Ray Charles featuring Bill Samuels – Complete Early Recordings 1949-1952. Given the redundancy of a lot of the box sets that come out this time of year, it’s nice to find that odd one of genuine historical interest. Much like Nat Cole, Brother Ray made his mark as a jazz pianist first, popular vocalist long after. This set finds him on the cusp of that transition.
Leonard Cohen, Complete Columbia Studio Albums Collection – Given the fact that, so far as I know, Cohen is still being jobbed out of the royalties for this one, I’d suggest ordering the set that’s offered at his website, which includes all eleven of these, plus the recent live albums, Live in London and Songs From the Road. Actually, given the varying quality of musical settings that his songs received over the years from Columbia, you could do worse than just buying the live albums by themselves.
Miles Davis, LIVE in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1. One of Davis’ best bands, including Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams, on fire in previously-unreleased European concert recordings; not just important souvenirs of the genius of Davis and his band, but exhilarating listening. Also comes with a DVD of performance excerpts.
Miles Davis – Warner Years 1986 – 1991. Not Miles’ most important fifteen years, or his most productive, but it’s fifteen years of jazz that was twenty years ahead of its time.
John Fahey – Your Past Comes Back to Haunt You (The Fonotone Years 1958-1965). As Glenn Jones’ excellent notes remind us, when these sides were first issued, it was nearly impossible for the average music listener to be exposed to the work of artists like Charlie Patton or Blind Willie Johnson, so Fahey’s guitar sound was a revelation. Even more so when you finally had the chance to hear someone like Patton, and realized, by comparison, just what an amazing weirdo Fahey was.
Jimi Hendrix – Winterland. Not much to say here–– a five-CD orgy of guitar goodness, much of it previously unreleased, drawn from three October 1968 performances at the historic venue that is now a Honda dealership–– save to add that the exclusive Amazon version has an additional disk with an amateur bootleg recording of a complete February ’68 show. Move over, Rover.
Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters. As a general rule, I don’t regard the complete package of an artist’s recordings as “essential”: even the greats can be boiled down to an informed selection (even a large one) of important work. But I’m strongly tempted to make an exception in this case.
Etta James – Heart & Soul / A Retrospective. Fewer hits by an order of magnitude than on, say, the similar Diana Ross set. Which isn’t the same as saying that there’s less great, or essential, music on this one.
Jethro Tull – Aqualung – 40th Anniversary Collector’s Edition. The album where Ian Anderson went from being a mildly amusing eccentric to an overbearing annoyance, in a new set whose myriad delights evidently include a “previously unreleased stereo mix”– I’m vaguely curious to know if that means more Martin Barre, or less… but not curious enough to buy the damn thing.
Nirvana – Nevermind 20th Anniversary 2-CD Deluxe Edition. Naturally includes a remastered version of the album, B-sides, the Smart Studio sessions, boombox rehearsals and BBC sessions. There is also a 4-LP vinyl edition featuring the same 40 tracks as the Deluxe Edition, a remastered CD of the original album, and digital versions of the standard and deluxe editions.
Pink Floyd, Discovery Box Set. All the individual Floyd albums are being individually reissued in classy box sets with remastered CD’s, fancy graphics, booklets and all that, but you don’t want your friends to think you’re a cheapskate, do you? Here’s all 14 of ‘em.
Elvis Presley – Young Man With the Big Beat. The reason I’m not in the Sony/Legacy marketing department is that I couldn’t keep coming up with new ideas for Elvis Presley box sets. This one is all early RCA stuff, with some previously unreleased outtakes and live recordings (including a complete concert from 1956), interviews and radio ads, a big colorful book, and “Elvis Presley Enterprises artifacts and documents.” I leave the particulars to your imagination.
John Prine – The Singing Mailman Delivers. 2 CD’s of rare and previously-unreleased material, actually predating Prine’s first proper album.
Queen – 40 Limited Edition Collector’s Box Set Volume 3, with five remastered studio albums (The Works, A Kind of Magic, The Miracle, Innuendo, Made in Heaven) each with a bonus disk of rarities, and lots of acompanying graphic product. There’s not an album in here I’d listen to twice, but Amazon keeps pestering me with these offers…
The Rolling Stones, Some Girls: Deluxe Edition. If you’ve never heard the previously bootlegged shit on disk 2, be prepared to ask yourself what the fuck Mick was thinking in keeping it on the shelf. Yeah, you get a book, and photos, the “lewd” picture-sleeve vinyl single of “Beast of Burden” and all that, but you mostly get the world’s greatest rock and roll band at a time when that title meant something.
The Rolling Stones: Some Girls – Live In Texas ’78. Available on CD and DVD. Haven’t had a chance to preview this yet, but the ’78 tour might have been the last time that the sheer desire to be up onstage playing was what kept Keef and Charlie coming back for more; Mick’s motivations are always both more obvious and murkier. Either way, while there is no dearth of live Stones out there, my guess is that, if this one was filmed at all decently, it’ll quickly shoot to the top of the list.
Smashing Pumpkins, Siamese Dream and Gish Special Editions. Original remastered albums, previously unreleased tracks, live DVD’s, booklets, postcards… you know the drill.
The Smiths – Complete: Super Deluxe Collector’s Box. “Individually numbered and strictly limited to 3000 copies only. This Super Deluxe box set includes all eight digitally remastered Smiths albums on both CD and vinyl LP, 25 seven-inch singles, rare and deleted artwork, a DVD of the band’s music videos and eight high-quality twelve inch prints of the album sleeves as well as a large poster. This is the most comprehensive and exciting Smiths collection EVER!” Nothing I could possibly add to that, kids.
The Supremes and Diana Ross – 50th Anniversary: Singles Collection 1961-1969. I’ll let this one stand in for the host of new collections released this fall from various Motown staples (Temptations, Four Tops, etc.). Why anyone would need yet another iteration of Berry Gordy’s pocket-lining is beyond me, but on the odd chance you know someone for whom this music is a revelation, go ahead and gift one; just remember that this stuff was originally meant to be played on single-speaker car radios and tinny portable record players, and that there’s a fair amount of it (particularly on the Tempts’ set) that sounds like shit on CD.
U2 – Achtung Baby. Yes, an important album in a remarkable career (over thirty years without a personnel change). And I guess I can see wanting maybe the 2-CD version with some unreleased stuff. But six CD’s and four DVD’s, book, art prints, etc.; or the one with the t-shirt and vinyl and added shit for four hundred simoleons or thereabouts? It’s not like this was some legendary lost artifact of misunderstood genius: i.e., unlike, say, Smile, this album actually came out.
Various Artists – The Philles Album Collection by Phil Spector. More redundancy, but this the first Spector box set to come out since he was convicted of murder. So there’s that.
The Who: Quadrophenia: The Director’s Cut. There aren’t many pop musicians whose insight into the creative process, acid prose, and blend of arrogance and self-loathing make for the kind of fascinating reading that Townshend always does. So while I still regard the original version of this album as an over-produced, underwritten mess, with the odd high point here and there, and though the demos included don’t really add much, I highly recommend putting out the coin just for the book that comes with it.
Bill Wyman – Collectors Edition. A well-named set, because I honestly can’t imagine anyone besides collectors that would lay out this much coin for Wyman’s slight, breezy blooz. You could extract a well-filled single disk out of it, but the profit margin wouldn’t be as good.
TONY’S PLAYIN’ GAMES!
JAWS: ULTIMATE PREDATOR (3DS, Wii)
This is what is coming out this week. A Jaws game. Hopefully based on The Revenge. Cause that Jaws was honestly the Ultimate Predator. Who’d want to fuck with that Jaws?
Which brings me to my theory that Jaws is like Link and a new one is born every generation (for a period in the 80’s at least) to terrorize small towns. That’s my whole theory. It’s mostly a reaction to the fact that everyone calls the shark Jaws now. Which is terrible.
But yeah, Jaws: Ultimate Predator. It’s a game. It’s the game. Coming out this week. I think this was a cell phone game at one point. Or is. Or – no one cares. Jaws games that aren’t pinball aren’t worth your time. It’s coming out December 1st for some reason, so if you’re excited about Jaws: Ultimate Predator you still have time to regain some humanity and do the right thing.
Seriously, nothing. All the video games came out. We’re done. The third title listed on Amazon this week is a DS charger. If you REALLY feel the need to spend money on video games this week, buy Metroid II for the 3DS virtual console. I’ve been waiting forever to (legally) play Metroid II on a screen that has more definition than a JPEG thumbnail. It’s the second best 2D Metroid with one of the best soundtracks on the Gameboy. If I could cheat the best release of the week would always be a twenty year old Nintendo game, but this week it honestly is. Unless Michael Caine and Mario Van Peebles are unlockable characters in Jaws: Ultimate Predator. That would be the best game of every week.
Tony - this is the best Jaws game: