Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Psychobabble’s 2011 Wish List

1. Island of Lost Souls on DVD

Generally considered the greatest adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The Island of Dr. Moreau, Island of Lost Souls (1933) has never received an official US DVD release for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. The reason certainly can’t be lack of interest since this is one of the most demanded unavailable horror classics. Rumors abound that Universal, Paramount, and Criterion have considered releasing the film, yet we’re still stuck with inferior VHS copies if we want to thrill to Charles Laughton as Moreau, Bela Lugosi as the Sayer of the Law, and Kathleen Burke as Lota the Panther Woman. The wait for this DVD has been a torture worthy of the House of Pain.

2. The Best of the Cool Ghoul

I’m too young to have ever seen Zacherley hamming it up on “Shock Theater”, the late-night horror-movie program he hosted in the ‘60s that introduced my dad to The Cool Ghoul’s brand of horrific humor. While Spook Along… remains available, there is precious little documentation of his TV work. I would love to see some sort of “Best of Zacherley” collection make its way to DVD. During its earliest days, television was not as enamored of its own history as it is today, so there’s a good possibility that such footage was never archived. If it was, this would be a terrific project for a groovy re-issuer of classic TV, such as Shout! Factory. Start writing your letters, cool ghouls!

3. The Rolling Stones Anthology

My memory might be failing me (as it often is), but I seem to recall rumors of some sort of “Rolling Stones Anthology” project along the lines of “The Beatles Anthology” around the time the Stones’ ‘60s catalogue was refurbished in 2002. I’d need a vat to contain my drool if ABKCO or Universal or whoever green-lit a multi-part documentary of the group accompanied by a series of nicely mastered sets of the band’s best unreleased material. And there is a lot of it, kids: titles such as “Diddley Daddy”, “I Can See It”, “Highway Child”, and “Living in the Heart of Love” are as well-deserving of release as any of the oddities on the Beatles Anthology albums. The Stones’ 50th Anniversary is approaching in 2012, so 2011 would be a good time to get a jump on such an involved undertaking.

4. The Rolling Stones’ Remaining Unreleased UK LPs and EPs

Less ambitious but no less necessary than a “Rolling Stones Anthology” is the release of all though Stones LPs and EPs on CD that did not happen in 2002. For reasons beyond me, The Stones’ debut album, The Rolling Stones No. 2, the UK versions of the “Big Hits” albums, and their two EPs, The Rolling Stones and Five by Five, have never been issued on CD. This is a real shame since No. 2 and the “Big Hits” are considerably different from their US counterparts. Just a month ago, remasters of these records were included in the limited edition Rolling Stones 1964-1969 vinyl box set, so the heavy work is obviously done. Now all we need is for them to gain release individually on CD. Come on, ABKCO, it’s not like they won’t sell.

5. The Big TNT Show on DVD

The first official release of the great 1964 concert film The TAMI Show was one of the most high-profile DVD reissues of 2010. Although TAMI—with its spectacular performances by James Brown, The Rolling Stones, Marvin Gaye, The Beach Boys, and a multitude of others—is obviously the greater film, its follow up, The Big TNT Show (1966), is no heap of jive either. Ray Charles, The Byrds, The Ronettes, Bo Diddley, The Ike & Tina Turner Revue, The Lovin’ Spoonful, and Donovan were on the roster to present the year’s best in pop, folk, R&B, and R&R, all with Phil Spector producing. So let’s get a spiffy remaster of this one on the streets in 2010, Shout! Factory. I promise I’ll even pay for it.

6. Deluxe Editions of The Who’s A Quick One and Odds and Sods

After being remixed in the ‘90s, The Who’s back catalogue finally started to receive more respectful treatment this past decade when double-disc deluxe editions of My Generation, Sell Out, Tommy, Live at Leeds, and Who’s Next presented some of the band’s greatest albums in superior fidelity but with their original mixes (mostly) intact. But why stop there? With the recently released, 40th Anniversary, 4-disc box set of Live at Leeds, the Powers That Be are already backtracking when they could be putting together deluxe editions of the others. We Who fans are also desperately in need of a deluxe edition of Odds and Sods that reinstates the original running order, includes a mix of “Under My Thumb” that actually includes Pete’s guitar solo and a mix of “Postcard” with Entwistle’s original bassline, and gives us all those tracks that did not make it onto the ‘90s rereleases: the superior versions of “I’m a Boy” and “The Magic Bus” from Meaty, Beaty, Big, & Bouncy; the non-Pete B-sides “Here for More”, “Wasp Man”, and “When I Was a Boy”; and ideally, never released Who tracks that may or may not exist, such as “Do You Want Kids, Kids?” and “Mary”. That would make my year.

7. A Damned biography

How has there never been a proper biography of The Damned, one of the foremost UK punk bands of the ‘70s, the band that gave the genre its first 45 and LP, helped spark the Goth movement of the ‘80s, and continues to tour and release good records in the present? They were hilarious, anarchic even by the standards of the ever-overrated Sex Pistols (who’ve been the subjects of countless biographies), and made incredible records— never mind Bollocks, Damned, Damned, Damned, Machine Gun Etiquette, The Black Album, and Strawberries are all infinitely better. Plus, Dave Vanian, Rat Scabies, Dave Vanian, and the rest were and are fascinating, engaging, colorful personalities. The liner notes in The Damned’s CDs provide a nice overview of the guys’ career, but some writer needs to finally give them their just respect and tell their tale in a much more complete fashion.

8. Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me with deleted scenes

Some predict they will never be released, some contend that they no longer exist at all, but the possibly feature-length glut of deleted scenes from Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me are David Lynch’s fans’ lost city of gold. As the oft-told story goes, Lynch cut scenes featuring beloved “Twin Peaks” characters—such as Sheriff Truman, Ben and Jerry Horne, Josie Packard, Lucy, Andy, Hawk, and Pete Martell— from the film to keep the “Last Seven Days of Laura Palmer” plot more on target and to better maintain the film’s intense, grim tone. He made the right decision, but we’d still love to see all of those deleted scenes included as bonus footage on a spruced-up FWWM DVD. Lynch is holding out for the funding to master and score those scenes the right way, so Peaks Freaks have been waiting as patiently as we can for about a decade now. I’d say the 2008 “Lime Green” box set, which includes most of Lynch’s work up until Fire Walk With Me and a ton of bonus material that includes similarly lengthy deleted footage from Wild at Heart, is just about due for a sequel focusing on the second half of the man’s career and including those deleted scenes from FWWM.

9. New David Lynch movie

Greedy I may be, but I won’t be satisfied with just those deleted scenes. Four years have passed since the release of Lynch’s last feature film, Inland Empire. During that time he has been generous with the meditation seminars and the coffee and the books and the music and the documentaries and the weather reports, but the thing for which fans are surely longing more than anything else is another movie. With Inland Empire Lynch got acquainted with shooting on digital video while piecing together a vast, demanding, experimental work of art. I likes art just fine, and Inland Empire is one of my favorite films of the past decade, but I’d love to see how Lynch would use DV in the context of a more straight-forward work, such as Blue Velvet or Mulholland Drive (we’re talking “straight-forward” relative to his body of work, of course). Naturally, I’d be perfectly happy with another avant garde experiment. Just gimme something, Dave! Gimme gimme gimme! If you haven’t been able to tell yet, that’s pretty much the theme of this list.

So what Retro-Rock and Horror happenings would you like to see in '11?
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