Saturday, August 31, 2013

'The Wicker Man: Final Cut' Now has Specs, a Trailer, and a US Theatrical Release

When I first wrote about the up-coming The Wicker Man: Final Cut, DVD/Blu-ray I wasn't sure if this would be the proper, high-quality restoration that fans of what may be Britain's finest horror film have long desired. As the film heads to a US theatrical release prior to its inevitable DVD release (still no specific date, but I've been told it will probably come out in December), the official press release had this to say:

"Butchered by its doomed UK distributor to fit on double bills, with its original camera negative apparently lost, THE WICKER MAN has gathered a devoted fan base over the past four decades, with the complete version their Holy Grail. Some missing scenes were recovered from an obsolete one-inch broadcast tape, but over the years there were rumors of complete 35mm prints floating around.

"Earlier this year, the search intensified when worldwide rights holder StudioCanal initiated a Facebook campaign to recover the missing 35mm material, resulting in the discovery of a 92-minute 35mm release print at the Harvard Film Archive. This print was scanned and sent to London, where it was recently inspected by director Robin Hardy, who confirmed that it was the same cut he had put together for its American distributor in 1979. This culminated in a digital restoration of the complete U.S. theatrical version, which director Hardy recently anointed as 'the final cut.'

"Hardy, now 83, has said of this restored version, 'It fulfills my vision.'"

So there you go...we will finally have a restored version of the film from a single clean source to replace our versions cobbled together from sources of widely varying quality. Full disclosure, I've also read that this version will be slightly shorter than the cobbled together one, omitting some footage of Sgt. Howie's plane trip to Summerisle, which director Robin Hardy deemed inessential. There won't be any previously unseen footage in this cut.
 
Amazon UK has also revealed the following specs about the 4-disc DVD/Blu-ray set:

• Disc 1
o The Final Cut
o Interview with Robin Hardy
o The music of The Wicker Man featurette
o Worshipping The Wicker Man - Famous fans featurette
o The restoration of The Wicker Man featurette
• Disc 2
o UK Theatrical Cut
o The Director's Cut (with audio commentary)
o Making of Audio Commentary short film
• Disc 3
o Burnt Offering: The Cult of The Wicker Man documentary written by Mark Kermode
o Interview with Christopher Lee & Robin Hardy (1979)
o Ex-S: The Wicker Man
o Trailer
• Disc 4
o Soundtrack


For Americans who can't wait for December, there's that theatrical release. From the press release: "Rialto will roll out the restored version beginning September 27 at IFC Center, New York City, with runs in Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, and other cities throughout the fall."

And now, the trailer:  

Friday, August 30, 2013

'The Who FAQ' Now has a Publication Date

It looks like you can expect to get smashed by The Who FAQ a little sooner than I thought. The tentative publication date of September 2014 has been bumped up to June 3, 2014.
Here's are the official specs and jacket copy from Hal Leonard.com:

Series: FAQ
Publisher: Backbeat Books
Format: Softcover
Author: Mike Segretto
Release Date: 06/03/2014


Fifty years after Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, and Keith Moon made their first ruckus together onstage, the world is still fascinated with its greatest rock-and-roll band. Whether their music is popping up in TV commercials and the various incarnations of CSI or the remaining members are performing at the Super Bowl, the Olympics, or multitudinous charity events, the Who have never faded away. Yet while such artists as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Led Zeppelin have been pored over, flipped on their backs, and examined from every imaginable angle, the Who remain somewhat mysterious. Questions persist. Who were their most important influences, and which other bands were their most loyal followers? Did they really create the very first rock opera? What were their most important collaborations, gigs, solo projects, and phases? Where do they stand on politics, religion, and philanthropy? The answers to these questions don't amount to mere trivia but create a clearer portrait of the enigma that is the Who.

Whether they were Mods or punk pioneers, rock Wagners, or a gang of guitar-smashing thugs, the Who are a band beyond categorization or comparison, a band that constantly poses new questions – and The Who FAQ digs deep to find the answers.


$24.99 (US)
Inventory #HL 00114955
ISBN: 9781480361034
UPC: 884088876883
Width: 6.0"
Length: 9.0"
400 pages

Prices and availability subject to change without notice.


Thursday, August 29, 2013

Super Deluxe Edition of The Who's 'Tommy' Is on the Way (Pre-order Sign Up info inside)

The Who's on-going Super Deluxe Box Set campaign that started with Live at Leeds in 2010 and continued with Quadrophenia in 2011 will continue even more on November 11th with the inevitable Super Deluxe edition of Tommy. According to thewho.com, the big Tommy will include Pete Townshend's long-bootlegged complete demos and a live performance of the rock opera mostly recorded at Ottawa's Capital Theatre on October the 15th 1969. As for the original double-album, it was been given a new 5.1 surround sound remix "on new Hi Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray format.

"As well as the music the limited edition Super Deluxe boxset comes with a hardback 80-page full-colour book featuring rare period photos, memorabilia, a 20,000-word essay by legendary Who aficionado Richard Barnes and a rare facsimile Tommy poster housed in a hard-back deluxe slip-case."

You can now sign up on Amazon.com to pre-order the set as soon as it's available.  
Here are more specific specs courtesy of thewho.com:

Disc 1 – The original album (2013 re-master)

Digitally re-mastered in HD

Review: 'How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film, and Fiction'


Liisa Ladouceur upends the dour face of vampirism with her gleeful new book How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film, and Fiction. Like a Goth Mary Roach, she offers a breezy yet detailed history of vampires in culture (pop and otherwise), paying special attention to the myriad ways to dispatch a peckish vamp. We learn the roots of vampires’ allergies to silver, sunlight, stakes, and all other sundry preventive measures. There are profiles of slayers from Van Helsing to Buffy and an international dictionary of vampire-like demons and the various ways those creatures can be killed (nastiest method: destroy the Penanggalan of Malaysia by snaring its exposed intestines on thorns; least nastiest method: give the Langsuir, also of Malaysia, a haircut and neatly place the trimmings in a hole). Valuable information, of course, but it’s Ladouceur’s writing that makes How to Kill a Vampire a full-on fun read. Her style is witty and jolly throughout, even when running down the litany of vampire suicide methods or describing how vampire babies tend to tear through their moms from the inside.

Get How to Kill a Vampire: Fangs in Folklore, Film, and Fiction on Amazon.com here:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: 'The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds'


When The Birds was released fifty years ago, there probably weren’t a lot of folks who thought it would one day receive a full-length study all its own. Critical notices were mixed, many movie goers felt hoodwinked by its open ending, and it made little more than a third of what Alfred Hitchcock’s previous film, Psycho, earned at the box office. Even members of its own cast and crew viewed The Birds as seriously flawed (star Rod Taylor would rather be best known for Young Cassidy, whatever that is). Such is the fate of a film seriously ahead of its time. Within a few years, the history books would tell a much more favorable tale regarding The Birds (its 1968 TV debut was the highest rated of any feature film to that point), and tales don’t get much more favorable than Tony Lee Moral’s new book The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds.

Moral’s book is both a close inspection of The Birds’ genesis, production, aftermath, and meaning and a contrasting perspective of a more recent reputation Hitchcock and his film have acquired. Last year, Julian Jarold’s film The Girl presented a highly unfavorable portrayal of Hitchcock’s filmmaking methods and his alleged sexual obsession with star Tippi Hedren. Moral goes out of his way to dismiss all of that as sensationalistic mythmaking with reminiscences from other members of the production team who never witnessed any inappropriate behavior. What happened in private between Hitchcock and Hedren may only be known by them, but the fact that he sneak-attacked her with live birds, and proceeded to do so for five days straight, while filming the attic attack is widely known. Moral dismisses the sadism of this incident as all for the greater good of capturing a great scene. Yes, the results are great, and as a huge Hitchcock fan, I certainly wasnt hoping for confirmation that he was a creep, but at the very least it’s a bit insensitive to downplay the very real emotional toll it took on the actress.

Although that particular detail left a slightly unpleasant taste in my mouth, the mass of The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds is excellent and illuminating. We see Hitchcock’s intense care in fashioning the minutia that brings realism to this fantastical film, such as having Melanie play a bit of Debussy on a piano to indicate she has talents a purely two-dimensional fashion plate would not or ensuring the locals at Tides Restaurant would be distinct individuals instead of interchangeable small town stereotypes. We learn of ideas discarded from the finished product, such as screenwriter Evan Hunter’s plan to include a murder mystery angle, and weird bits of trivia, such as Suzanne Pleshette getting pooped on during her death scene or Jean Cocteau’s dying wish to see The Birds. While Moral’s downplaying of Tippi Hedren’s difficulties and his reference to the director as “the Great Man” indicate an uncritical agenda, the author does not shy from including a few unfavorable quotes, particularly from Rod Taylor, who believed his director “had no streak of tenderness for relationships between men and women.” These details give us a bit more perspective of the man behind the flock, but those looking for a lurid, psychological dissection of Alfred Hitchcock won’t find it in this book, which is generally reverent and concerned with the day-to-day process of making and releasing one of cinema’s most brilliant shockers.

Get The Making of Hitchcock’s The Birds at Amazon.com here:

 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Review: 'Keith Richards on Keith Richards: Interviews and Encounters'


The cover shot says everything you need to know about the Keith Richards attitude. The bird he’s flipping says, “Fuck off.” The smile says, “Don’t take it so seriously, baby.” This is the Keith we encounter time and again in Keith Richards on Keith Richards: Interviews and Encounters, largely because Sean Egan chose so many pieces from the eighties onward when Keith was in full I-know-Im-a-living-legend mode. The editor, who also put together the excellent recent anthology The Mammoth Book of The Rolling Stones, had his reasons for skewing so post-golden years. In the sixties, Keith was actually third in line behind Mick Jagger and Brian Jones in the Stones hierarchy, so there were fewer interviews with him. Because Rock journalism had not matured yet, the interviews of that period tended to be lightweight anyway.

So The Rolling Stones’ most creatively fertile decade is represented by a mere nine pages. That includes a ghostwritten piece from 1964 dropping the first hints of Keith’s anti-establishment stance, an interesting piece from the same year about his early experiences with songwriting, and an amusing Better Homes and Gardens-style puff about Redlands from 1966 that does as good a job of highlighting his Gothic decadence/wasted clown image as any of the proper interviews (stolen truncheon hanging from the ceiling, burnt sausage in the frying pan, Dennis Wheatley book on the crapper floor, bedroom missing half its floor to provide a view into the kitchen).

After Brian’s death, Keith’s artistic influence over the Stones’ music became better known, and the rebel persona he earned with his 1967 drug arrest solidified his infamy. From the seventies we get one massive, uncut, 80 page interview with Rolling Stone and a zonked one conducted in 1976 first published online twenty years later. If you’ve read The Mammoth Book, you’ve already read these.

That leaves the period when the Stones’ greatest relevance was in the past as the most thoroughly represented. This is also when Keith Richards had his act down completely: sneering disdain swaddled in down-to-earth amiability. He has certain stock responses he likes to repeat: Spanish Tony’s book Up and Down with The Rolling Stones constantly lapses into “fairy tales,” Brian Jones was ruined by his pop star complex, law enforcement is a bigger problem than drugs, guitarists should spend more time playing acoustic, Mick Jagger’s solo career is dog shit. That there is truth and insight in much of what he says makes the repetition less irritating, but it remains frustrating that the selection isn’t better balanced. It’s definitely a problem when Dirty Work, the Stones’ one irredeemable stinker, gets more ink than almost any other LP. That Keith spends a lot of time defending that dreck, even saying that his band shuns technology at a time their music was caked in synths and processors, suggests he isn’t always the most self-aware guy in the world.

Yet there are still things to learn in Keith Richards on Keith Richards: his take on The Who, his cagey handling of Chuck Berry while making the Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll documentary, his surprising affinity for guitarists Johnny Marr and Glenn Tilbrook when he generally seems skeptical of every musician born after Chuck. Egan’s choice of pieces that veer from the expected format are interesting too: the aforementioned Redlands article, an excerpt from Gil Markle’s online memoir about recording Keith performing oldies and standards in 1981, an unpublished Ira Robbins interview from 1988, a Dutch one from 1989 printed in English for the first time, a 2010 interview devoted to Exile on Main St., and perhaps most intriguing of all, an ice-and-fire parallel interview with Mick and Keith from 2002 in which many of the guitarist’s criticisms of his singer become subtly apparent. And for those who have not read The Mammoth Book, that 1971 Rolling Stone interview is required reading.

Get Keith Richards on Keith Richards: Interviews and Encounters at Amazon.com here:

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Look Out! 'The Who FAQ' is Officially on the Way!

Just a quick Who FAQ update to let you know that my manuscript has received the official stamp of approval from Backbeat Books, so there's no stopping its June 2014 publication now. I've also been informed that I'm no longer allowed to update the manuscript, so don't blame me if if Pete joins One Direction or Roger gets gender reassignment surgery over the next year and it fails to get a mention in The Who FAQ: 50 Years of Maximum R&B. Perhaps "49 Years of Maximum R&B" would be a more accurate subheading, but it doesn't have the same ring.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: Sly and the Family Stone’s 'Higher!'


Sly Stone turned 70 earlier this year, and Epic/Legacy is celebrating his milestone with the first proper Sly and the Family Stone box set. Higher! is four discs of Sly’s freaky, funky fusion of soul, pop, psychedelia, jazz, and Rock & Roll, a space-age sound that crossed racial and gender barriers in both the band’s ranks and the charts. The Family released only six albums during their peak years, but those records covered a lot of sonic ground—the undisciplined euphoria of A Whole New Thing, which suggested a band trying to cram every idea they could onto their first record in case they never got a chance to make a second one; the triumphant “we’re here to stay” party of Dance to the Music; the fully mature and unbelievably confident Life; the stunning transformation from pop hit machine to insane jam troupe of Stand!; the drugged up, tuned in, and fuzzed out masterpiece-despite-itself that is There’s a Riot Going On; and the slicker, more conventional Fresh. Those records are all represented by choice cuts on Higher!, though the versions are often unfamiliar: a big helping of mono single mixes; a snack of wild live performances from the Isle of Wight 1970 concert (“Fun” is the only major classic not here in any form).

That stuff is cool and relatively rare, but the meat and potatoes of Higher! are its real weirdos. The carnival starts with “I Just Learned How to Swim,” a primitive yet energetic dance number Sly cut as a solo artist in 1964. It is bested by its B-side, “Scat Swim,” which is like a prototype of the fusion the Family Stone would stew up three years later. The B-side develops on the A-side’s Rock & Roll boogie only to suddenly veer into a Big Band swing. There wasn’t anything like this on the radio in 1964. There’s also “Silent Communications,” a totally out-of-character jazzy torch song; “I Get High on You,” a crazy funk goof presented in an expanded, experimental version from 1967 and a tighter, radio-ready one from 1968 (they’re both fabulous for their own reasons); “I Know What You Came to Say,” a dusky slow-burn with muted trumpet that reached an anthemic climax; “What’s That Got to Do with Me,” a swirling soul waltz; “My Woman’s Head,” an instrumental with superb guitar work from Freddie Stone; “Wonderful World of Color,” an instrumental with moody horn charts darkening an ass-shaking backbeat; and a pair of bizarre oddities by “The French Fries”: “Danse a La Musique” (aka: “Dance to the Music” in French sung in chipmunk voices) and the even weirder “Small Fries.” The review package I received didn’t include the 104-page booklet you’ll get if you actually buy this set, so I’m not sure what the deal is with The French Fries, and I received the package as MP3s instead of lossless files, so I’ll refrain from assessing the sound quality of this box set (I will confirm what you already know, though: MP3s are shitty).

What I won’t refrain from saying is that Higher! does it right. A great box set should give a satisfying perspective of the artist’s career without dwelling on the dreg years unnecessarily. It should offer enough familiar material to orient the listener and enough rarities to make the trip unpredictable and enlightening. Higher! is a great box set.

Get Sly and the Family Stone’s Higher! at Amazon.com here:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: 'The Z Files: Treasures from Zacherley's Archives'


When I was a kid, my dad would creep down into the basement and unearth his copy of Spook Along with Zacherley every October 1st, which then served as our household Halloween carols for the rest of the spooky season. I was born too late to actually have seen Zach’s act on the classic monster movie showcase “Shock Theatre” or the Rock & Roll dance party “Disc-O-Teen,” but the record was all I needed to get him. The photo of him in frock coat and cadaverous make up on the cover. The silly songs about the Transylvania P.T.A., a Ring-a-Ding Orangutaun, and the return of Frank and Drac he crooned in a very un-Rock & Roll bass-baritone. As a devotee of “The Munsters,” “The Groovie Goolies,” and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, the corny songs resonated with me even though I never got the chance to see the Cool Ghoul step on screen in the middle of Dracula’s Daughter to explain that the burns he got while dragging the Count from a funeral pyre prevented him from attending a cocktail party in his honor. Since TV archiving wasn’t super meticulous in the early sixties, I’m still unable to see much footage of Zacherley in action. Fortunately, there’s The Z Files: Treasures from the Zacherley Archives to provide a bit of a simulation.

Published last year, Richard Scrivani and Tom Weaver’s book collects a King-Kong’s ransom of choice artifacts from Zach’s personal collection. There’s a complete script of his Dracula’s Daughter show (which admittedly doesn’t read as well as it probably played on screen). There are scripts for three of his WOR-TV shows (ditto). These are neat, but I really loved the weird miscellany leading up to these major pieces: a stereotypically hyperbolic juvenile delinquency article about some kids who broke into a mausoleum to steal a skull for their Zacherley Club House, the angry letters from “Shock Theatre” viewers who didn’t appreciate his intrusions on their favorite movies, a letter from the New Jersey Television Broadcasting Company warning Zach’s cameramen to stop zooming in on the dancers for “bust” and “fanny” shots, an article about a Zacherley impersonator who’d been arrested for public drunkenness, and so on and so on. There’s also a good selection of B&W Zach pics, several of them displaying sweet-faced John Zacherle without his ghoulish get up. Apparently, there is also an accompanying DVD in the works, which hopefully will include whatever surviving footage there is. Until that emerges from the crypt, The Z Files fills the gap well.

Get The Z Files: Treasures from the Zacherley Archives on Amazon.com here:

Stereo Zombies Box Set Coming This September

Considering the current vogue for mono reissues, Repertoire's upcoming The Zombies In Stereo box should come as a pleasant surprise for stereo enthusiasts when it comes out this September 23rd. Although the specific track list has yet to be released, extensive information about what we can expect is now available on the Amazon.co.uk pre-order page where the four-disc, 81-track set is currently selling for under £20.00

Jon Astley, who was in charge of The Who's most recent remastering campaigns, handled this project. Though he has some detractors for his work on that band's nineties reissues, those critics should hear his more recent work on The Who's Shm-CDs released exclusively in Japan, which sound fabulous (I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that these very pricey imports will one day receive a US/UK release). When I interviewed him for The Who FAQ, Jon expressed his loathing for fake stereo, so I'm surprised to see that there's an entire disc of fake stereo mixes on this upcoming Zombie's box, but I guess he worked with what he had. Here's the break down direct from Amazon:

"CD1: 1960s True Stereo recordings(1964-1967 period), 23 track selection featuring key tracks (She's Not There & Tell Her No) plus many others. The tracks are taken from Decca's The World Of The Zombies and bonus tracks from previous Repertoire releases and compilations.


CD 2: 1960s Fake Stereo recordings (1964-1967 period) 14 tracks, featuring the entire contents of The Zombies Featuring She's Not There and Tell Her No (Parrot Records, USA), plus 2 other tracks from The World Of The Zombies.

CD 3: New Stereo Mixes taken from masters of the 1964-1967 period (Part 1) 2002 Remixes, Remastered 2013 22 tracks. Opening tracks 1-14 commence in the running order of the debut LP Begin Here -here now presented for your listening pleasure in new remixed stereo version! Other tracks follow the order of our companion CD.The Complete Decca Mono Recordings, plus a couple of new additions.

CD 4: New Stereo Mixes taken from masters of the 1964-1967 period (Part 2) 2002 Remixes, Remastered 2013. 22 tracks. Continuing on the lines of our The Complete Decca Mono Recordings plus 7 new additions... 

Booklet with new, authoritative and extensive liner notes written by respected journalist and author Michael Heatley (Record Collector/Guitar & Bass)."

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Update: That 'Wicker Man' "Final Cut" Blu-ray/DVD is Coming to the US Too...

A couple of weeks ago I reported that UK Blu-ray/DVD/pagan sacrifice enthusiasts can expect a new deluxe, four-disc edition of The Wicker Man from StudioCanal this October. I just got a bit of inside information from a publicity person at StudioCanal, and apparently we US viewers will also be receiving this refurbished set from Lionsgate, probably in December. Stay tuned for a specific release date and all relevant specs and pre-order info...

UPDATE:
The Wicker Man Blu-Ray is coming to America from Lionsgate films, but possibly in a different state than its recent three-disc UK release. Specs on the disc's Walmart purchase page seem to cover the first disc of the UK's Studio Canal release only, which means we Americans might not be receiving the longest cut of the film (which was only available in patchy standard definition in the UK anyway) or the fabulous soundtrack CD. The low price seems to support this assumption. In any event, I'm trying to wrangle a review copy of Lionsgate's Blu-ray. Maybe you can wrangle your own copy, which is due January 7, 2014, from Amazon.com here.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ten Great Bruce Thomas Basslines


Bruce Thomas is a controversial guy in Elvis Costello-fan circles. Some have never forgiven him for portraying their hero as a whiny guy who sweats a lot in the semi- autobiographical novella The Big Wheel.  Elvis certainly hasn’t. Yet few Elvis fans would be stupid enough to dismiss Bruce Thomas as a musician, and as bass guitarists go, he deserves a place at the top with James Jamerson, John Entwistle, and Paul McCartney. Today, on his 65th birthday, let’s take a listen to some of the lines that make Bruce one of pop’s most amazing bassmen (Bruce has done some fantastic work outside of The Attractions, particularly with Suzanne Vega on the great 99.9F°, but here Ill just be focusing on his work behind Elvis).

1. “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea” (1978)

Elvis Costello has always been more of a colorist than a lead guitarist. This often left Steve Nieve and Bruce Thomas responsible for the hook. In the case of the first single released as Elvis Costello and the Attractions, all three musicians supply memorable riffs, with Elvis jittering out triplets and Steve Nieve countering the amphetamine paranoia of that guitar riff with a languidly creepy descending line on his Vox Continental. Yet it is Bruce Thomas’s uncharacteristically simple reggae bassline that best catches the ear. His halting major triad riff pins down the verses, while his capricious slides give momentum to the bridge even as the overall dynamic remains constant.

2. “Pump It Up” (1978)

Bruce Thomas’s bass stands out on “Chelsea.” On “Pump It Up,” it practically is the song. Elvis’s Dylanesque rap, which droves of kids learned word-for-word as a sort of New Wave badge of honor (until it R.E.M.’s “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” took it’s place), is no small thing. However, all the melody flows from Bruce’s fingers. He squeezes in two totally distinct, totally memorable lines: the hopping riff of the verse and the three-note descent that supplies super-gravity between verses. His two-steps-forward/-one-step-back climb under the chorus is not as iconic as those other two riffs, but it’s the most technically spectacular bass work on the track.

3. “The Beat” (1978)

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: 'The Art of British Rock: 50 Years of Rock Posters, Flyers, and Handbills'


As Rock & Roll progressed radically throughout the sixties, so did the way it was packaged, from the groovy new record sleeves to the posters and flyers that advertised them and concerts. The latter advances are on vivid display in writer Mike Evans and designer Paul Palmer-Edwards’s new book The Art of British Rock: 50 Years of Rock Posters, Flyers, and Handbills. We begin with the kinds of block-letter, boxing-style posters that unimaginatively announced concerts in the pre-British invasion age, but quickly whisk along with the eye-blasting pop art and art nouveau styles of the psychedelic age. The prog, punk, new wave, brit pop, and contemporary eras follow on a wave of wild variety.

A lot of books like this make the mistake of trying to cram in too much, shrinking the art for the sake of quantity. Palmer-Edwards is more concerned with quality, giving us large-scale representations of some amazingly detailed works that really require keen attention. Stripped of all their original commercial intentions, many of these pieces are as artistically conceived as the finest pop, op, and graphic arts hanging in any museum. And while a lot of Rock art books allow the art to do almost all of the talking, Evans's captions provide valuable information about the artists, the techniques, and the tools that brought these works into being. There are also full-page profiles of the most significant artists, including Roger Dean, the Hipgnosis team, Barney Bubbles, Jamie Reid, and Vaughn Oliver, while Rock’s most visually-striking band, The Who, receive special attention throughout. And is it just me or is the Fairport Convention poster on page 71 clearly the inspiration for Castle Grayskull?

Get the new softcover edition of The Art of British Rock: 50 Years of Rock Posters, Flyers, and Handbills at Amazon.com here:


Saturday, August 10, 2013

The 20th Anniversary X-Files Reunion Panel Discussion!

Mulder and Scully have sex on their first date, and their baby makes a surprise appearance! Chris Carter resists discussing a third "X Files" movie until he can resist no longer! Vince Gilligan plugs "Breaking Bad"! All this and more at the hilarious, historic 20th Anniversary X-Files reunion panel discussion. You've heard all about it. Now watch it. Watch it!

Many thanks to the original poster of this video...

Friday, August 9, 2013

Could the Small Faces Box Set Be Coming within the Month?

I try to be careful about repeating speculation here on Psychobabble, but since my source is Steve Marriott biographer/Small Faces convention-stager and fanzine-runner John Hellier, I'm going to throw caution to the wind and repeat something he posted on Facebook today. According to Hellier, that long, long, long awaited Small Faces box set, Here Come the Nice, may be arriving before this years SF convention on September 14. Hellier says of the set, "The package includes 4 CDs worth of rarities, out takes and the whole official Immediate catalogue as you've never heard these recordings before. Re-mastered and mixed beautifully from the original master tapes these also include lots of 'work in progress' tracks complete with the band discussing what they're doing. Also a very large, glossy book covering the bands career and more including lots of rare pics. A re-pressed Olympic acetate 'Mystery', An Immediate Records sampler on red vinyl, 2 replica French EPs on coloured vinyl and signed by Mac and Kenny."

For those who live in the UK, the news isn't all good, because it apparently isn't being released in Small Faces' home country. However, Hellier will be handling a limited collection of import copies and UK residents can reserve their copies now by paying a £21 deposit via Paypal to jjhellier@aol.com . The full price will be £125. 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Farewell, Karen Black

Sad news today. Following a two-year bout with cancer, Karen Black died earlier today. 

Although she wasn't crazy about her association with horror movies (she preferred to think of them as "Sci-Fi films"), she still found a permanent place in the creepy canon mostly because of her iconic role in Dan Curtis's TV portmanteau Trilogy of Terror. The "Amelia" segment still has the power to terrify after nearly forty years. She will be missed. 



Sunday, August 4, 2013

Review: 'Abominable Science!: Origins of Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids'


Multiple choice question: 80 years ago this month, a fellow named George Spicer published a letter in the Inverness Courier in which he described a bizarre and terrifying encounter. He and his wife had been motoring around Loch Ness when he suddenly encountered a:

A)   chicken
B)   man-eating robot
C)   dinosaur
D)   man-eating chicken

If your head is at least halfway out of your ass, you will know the answer is c), because if you know one thing about Loch Ness, you know that it is home to the last living dinosaur, the monster her closest friends call “Nessie.” Regardless of whether you take it as fact or fiction, Spicer’s story and others like it have helped spread the Loch Ness Monster’s fame throughout the world. They’ve been reprinted in countless books and repeated in countless documentaries and have fueled more than a monster’s share of speculation, debate, and transcendent wonder.

That last part—transcendent wonder—is why some folks may think Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero’s new book Abominable Science!: Origins of Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids is going to be an abominable drag. The authors are men of science and avowed skeptics: Loxton edits Junior Skeptic magazine and Prothero is a paleontologist. So don’t be fooled by their book’s Weekly World News-style cover; their mission is to debunk a select quintet of cryptids: Sasquatch, Yeti, the sea serpent (including the hippocamp and the cadborosaurus), Mokele Mbembe (a diplodocus-like dinosaur living near the Congo), and of course, Nessie. Loxton and Prothero have found zero evidence supporting the existence of any of these creatures and bat down every oft-told tale with well-reasoned, scientifically sound, and culturally savvy retorts.

So, boo-hoo. Monsters don’t exist. Spicer didn’t really see a dinosaur (which means the multiple-choice question above should have included choice E: none of the above). The cryptozoological parade has been effectively rained on. Right? Not quite.

Actually, you couldn’t hope for a sunnier skeptical exposé than Abominable Science! Despite their academic backgrounds, Loxton and Prothero are lively writers who never talk over their audiences’ heads. These monsters’ origin stories remain great fun to read, and in case their systematic debunking leaves you itching for some legit weirdness, there’s still lots of that to be enjoyed among the hoaxers, monster-spotters, and explorers who populate these pages. A creationist monster hunter claims Ringo Starr and Mick Jagger funded his expedition. A group of 100 jackasses go in search of the Yeti while wearing blackface. Hollywood legends Jimmy Stewart and Gloria Swanson allegedly play roles in the theft of Yeti bones. King Kong may be responsible for creating more monsters than a mere giant ape.

For those who still insist on mourning the monsters, Loxton’s wonderful photorealistic illustrations bring all these debunked beasts back to life and highlight the fact that even though he can’t honestly give us hope that monsters really do exist, he still professes to love them (Prothero is much more hardcore in his belief that romanticizing monsters does more damage than good). That may sound self-contradictory or hypocritical, but speaking as someone who loves the Loch Ness monster, vampires, werewolves, and all the other hokum I write about on this site, and as someone who will always bow to legitimate scientific findings no matter how unromantic they may be, I know where he’s coming from. His and Prothero’s book deserves a place on the bookshelf of every critical thinking class.

Get Abominable Science!: Origins of Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids at Amazon.com here:

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