Friday, December 28, 2018

McCartney Suggests a New Version of 'Let It Be' May Be Coming...

As 2018 peters out, many of us our wondering what will come in 2019. For Psychobabble, this involves speculating on what will be the next 50th anniversary Beatles release since there are actually a few options. An anniversary release of Abbey Road seems obvious, but Yellow Submarine was recently restored and shown in cinemas, so perhaps there will be some sort of anniversary release to coincide with the soundtrack album's 1969 release. '69 was also the year that The Beatles recorded and filmed the hours and hours and hours of music that would have been featured on an album called Get Back proposed for that year, but was ultimately buffed up by Phil Spector for release in 1970 as Let It Be. 

Meanwhile, the documentary film of that same name has long been a glaring absentee in the ongoing Beatles reissue blitz. The common belief is that Paul McCartney is still stinging from the film's portrait of his band's disintegration, though to actually watch Let It Be is to see a very muted version of events (the most high tension moment in the film is an extremely polite, rather passive-aggressive conversation between McCartney and George Harrison about what George should play on "Two of Us"). 

However, in an interview with Canada's Radio X from last fall, McCartney revealed that there may be a compromise that will finally result in the long overdue release of a Let It Be of sorts in the near future. Apparently, there may be plans to create a new film from the 56-hours of footage Michael Lindsay-Hogg captured back in 1969 that will paint a sunnier view of The Beatles' final days in a way that the bass player finds more palatable. That means the original cut of Let It Be may remain in limbo, but since that movie was never that great anyway--a jumble of footage of the guys working in the studio-- that is arguably only troubling at a historical level. I wouldn't mind seeing a more entertaining version of Let It Be. Of course, since the film and soundtrack album is essentially a 1970 project, and Universal/Apple will need some sort of anniversary product to put out in 2020, we likely will not see this for a couple of years, but the prospect is interesting. Read more about it on Best Classic Bands.com here.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 12


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: Twilight Zone

Episode: “The Night of the Meek”, in which a drunken, skinny department store Santa crosses over into that dimension of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. Rod Serling writes one of his finest episodes, capturing the crushing sadness of a man who cannot deal with society’s endless ills, so he drinks his life away. Art Carney’s performance is raw with emotion, but also very funny and perfectly natural. Sadly, this was one of those Twilight Zones shot on video to save money during the second season, so it looks like crap. But despite the episode’s aesthetic deficiencies, its humanity and humor still manage to fight through the fuzz, and if it doesn’t reduce you to a blubbering blob, you might have a serious dose of Scrooge-itis. Happy holiday!

And Now for No Other Reason Than It's X-Mas...Here's Divine and Santa!


Monday, December 24, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 11


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: Tales from the Crypt

Episode: “And All Through the House”, in which HBO’s adaptation of classic EC Comics debuts with its best-ever episode. This was not the first screen adaptation of Johnny Craig’s twisty tale of a murderer having to dispose of her husband’s corpse while also protecting herself and her child from a psycho Santa on Christmas Eve, but it is even better than the excellent one in the 1972 Tales from the Crypt feature film. Director Robert Zemeckis gets both the nerve-wracking suspense and the warm-and-wonderful X-Mas atmosphere absolutely perfect. The opening shot of Christmas decorations as Nat King Cole's “Christmas Song” plays on the soundtrack is as beautiful and nostalgia-stoking as a Currier and Ives print. The way Zemeckis shatters that visual with a sudden shock of violence is just as beautiful. A perfect half hour of holiday TV.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 10


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: Knowing Me, Knowing You with Alan Partridge

Episode: “Knowing Me, Knowing Yule”, in which dense BBC presenter Alan Partridge gets to return to TV after having accidentally shot and killed a guest on his regular series. He takes advantage of his second chance by repeatedly breaking the BBC’s no-advertising rule, insulting Christians and Muslims, insisting that God is a gas, incessantly asking the head of BBC programming if he has a second series, and punching said head in the face with a chicken over his fist when Partridge learns he will not be getting that second series. Partridge’s disastrous holiday special is without question the funniest installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes. Oops, pardon!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

New Computer Game Based on Films of David Lynch

We all crave a new toy in our stockings at this time of the year, so many thanks to Caveware Digital for delivering one down the chimneys of those who prefer backwards talking demons in red rooms to ho-ho-ho-ing beardos in red suits. 

David Lynch fans may enjoy Ghost Dance: An Unauthorized David Lynch Adventure, a nineties style computer game that involves roaming through environments based on the Red Room from Twin Peaks, Winkie's Diner from Mulholland Dr., the rabbits' abode from INLAND EMPIRE, and a dark corridor occupied by the Mystery Man from Lost Highway in order to collect pieces of Lynch's paintings to help him "rebuild his world." 

The game is low tech, low action, and a little difficult to get working (helpful tip: when you see that spinning cube with the Lynch's face on the the black screen, you have to use the up arrow on your keyboard walk toward it and click in order to get the game started), but it is completely free of charge, so stop your belly aching, drink full, and descend. 

You can download Ghost Dance for Windows, Linux, or macOS here

You can also watch a walk through video for the game here:

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 9


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: Batman: The Animated Series

Episode: “Christmas with the Joker”, in which the cartoon many consider to be the ultimate screen adaptation of the Dark Knight saga layers on the silliness as assuredly as it delivers the darkness. The animators and voice actor Mark Hamill have a blast bringing The Joker to life for the first time in the series. The Clown Prince of Crime does some fucked up things like kidnapping Commissioner Gordon, reporter Summer Gleeson, and sleazy Detective Bullock and vowing to slaughter them if Batman does not intervene by midnight on Christmas. But he also perpetrates some serious silliness when he breaks into a chorus of “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”. I’ve always been fascinated with that song, which so tenaciously spread throughout the world without having an identifiable composer. A few years ago, Cracked.com attempted to ferret out the true origin of “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells”. You can read the article here.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 8


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: The Monkees

Episode: “The Monkees’ Christmas Show”, in which The Monkees teach a poor little rich Scrooge the true meaning of blah, blah, blah. Honestly, this is not one of The Monkees’ finest half hours, veering too deeply into sappiness and subjecting viewers to a weird shopping fantasy sequence that goes on way too long. But there are some very nice things about “The Monkees’ Christmas Show”, such as the always welcome opportunity to see Mike get all serious and teach us all a valuable lesson, the casting of Butch “Eddie Munster” as the little Scrooge, which is sort of cool, the heartwarming closing credits sequence in which the guys invite all of their behind-the-scenes co-workers to say “happy holidays!” with them in front of the camera, and best of all, the performance of “Riu Chiu”. Destroying charges that Micky, Mike, Davy, and Peter lacked musical talent, they sing a complexly arranged Christmas carol in medieval Spanish effortlessly. It’ll send chills up your spine.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 7


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: Xena: Warrior Princess

Episode: “A Solstice Carol”, in which the magnificently goofy Xena: Warrior Princess reaches new heights of goofdom as all of the essential Christmas myths fall into place for the first time in history. Xena pretends to be a ghost to convince an ancient Scrooge to amend his ways (her plan B: “The plan fails, we punch faces”) and Xena’s chakram becomes the star atop the very first Christmas tree. Xena and Gabrielle also meet a bearded toymaker named Senticles (say it out loud), create a fake snowstorm with feathers, and even encounter wee baby Jesus. Xena resists the urge to do her battle cry thingy in his face.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 6


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: Wonder Woman

Episode: “The Deadly Toys”, in which Diana Prince has an unusually disturbing holiday as the faces of man-droids keep melting. Most unsettling of all is when she comes face to face with Wonder Woman, increasing the possibility that she will be spending December 25 watching her own lovely face reduced to a pool of blecch. Turns out these uncanny-valley machines are the work of a toy maker with a weird concept of stocking stuffers. The guy’s animatronic mama dolls, chattering monkeys, and giant jack-in-the-boxes will also guarantee that visions of terror will be dancing in your head tonight. Christmas bonus: Frank “The Riddler” Gorshin plays the terrible toy maker!

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 5


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: NewsRadio

Episode: “Christmas”, in which Dave Nelson gets stuck doing the entire WNYX staff’s work as they take advantage of his offer to leave work early on Christmas Eve. Matthew Brock takes off to spend Christmas with his aunt after helping billionaire station owner Jimmy James buy the perfect gifts for his rich friends (For Bruce Springsteen: mittens. For David Geffen: CDs. For Ted Turner: a gold-plated monkey hand puppet). Bill McNeal and Beth ditch work to tape an ad for a garage door opener. I could watch the montage of Beth trying to sabotage the ad by doing a series of marvelously annoying voices on a loop all Christmas day. But I probably won’t.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Review: 'Geddy Lee’s Big, Beautiful Book of Bass'


Is there truth in the title of Geddy Lee’s Big, Beautiful Book of Bass? Is it big? At 400 pages and weighing ten pounds, I’d say, yes, yes it is big. Is it beautiful? With its gorgeous color photos of foam-green Fender Precisions, a psychedelic Telecaster bass covered in pink Paisley wallpaper, an elegant Gibson EB violin bass, an awe-inspiring double neck Rickenbacker fireglo doubleneck, and too many others, yes, Geddy’s book is beautiful too.

What the title does not reveal is that the Rush bassist’s book is also a gas to read. People worship the guy like he’s a god, but he’s as down to earth as a mud puddle, as nerdy as an astrophysicist, and as good-naturedly self-effacing as a nerdy, down-to-earth guy. All this makes Geddy a delightful tour guide through his collection. He’s no snob either, as the pristine items in his massive bass collection are displayed alongside ones that are totally beat to shit. It’s called “character,” darling.

The author annotates Richard Sibbald’s pretty pictures with text explaining strange little details about bass history or the technical aspects of bass construction, or a little of both (we learn what Fender used to make the little fret dots on their early basses! We learn that Leo Fender just strung his first basses with piano strings!). He also explains which basses he used to play particular songs during Rush’s final tour. But you don’t need to be a fan of songs about tide pools and sci-fi Don Quixotes to dig this book, since Geddy also interviews a throng of influential fellow four-stringers such as John Paul Jones, Jeff Tweedy, Adam Clayton, Bill Wyman, and the hilarious Les Claypool with his usual disarming charm.

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 4


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: Amazing Stories

Episode: “Santa 85”, in which the essential premise of this anthology series gets flipped as reality encroaches on fantasy instead of vice versa. In the mid-eighties, Santa Claus is arrested for breaking and entering, dumped in a police wagon with a bunch of other schmoes in red suits, and locked up. Fortunately, things brighten up before this episode becomes a full-on Miracle on 34th Street/Oz cross over. Amazing Stories could get a bit saccharine, so it’s nice to see that their episode devoted to the most syrupy of holidays is fairly tough on St. Nick. Take that, Kringle! And Hingle. Pat Hingle’s in this one too.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 3


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: The Addams Family

Episode: “Christmas with the Addams Family”, in which the Addamses prepare weird gifts of severed heads and poison perfume; decorate a dead tree; jam out on “Deck the Halls” (Lurch on harpsichord! Morticia on lute thingy! Thing on sleigh bells!); scheme to convince Wednesday and Pugsley that Santa exists by dressing Gomez, Uncle Fester, and Lurch in red suits; and otherwise refuse to engage with the concept of plot.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 2


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: The X-Files

Episode: “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”, in which Mulder does a totally Muldery thing by dragging Scully to an alleged haunted house on Christmas Eve. There the shows’ heroes encounter a pair of goofy ghosts played by Lily Tomlin and Ed Asner who scheme to manipulate Mulder and Scully into reenacting their own Yuletide murder-suicide. Merry! Tomlin comes close to upstaging the series’ main characters, but the real stars are the ingenious special effects and haunted house setting with its neat trick rooms.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Beach Boys 1968 Rarities Part 2

Last week, UMe quietly released a big bundle of rare Beach Boys studio recordings from 1968. Today, they are following up with a selection of stage performances from the guys during that same year. On Tour: 1968 gathers over 110 live performances from Illinois, North Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Arizona, and London. In this case, the digital presentation may be preferable to a physical one since most of the sets are identical (how many different live versions of "Barbara Ann" does anyone need to hear?). The Beach Boys On Tour: 1968 is available now on Amazon.com here.

You can see the complete track listing at the Second Disc here.

Review: 'The Rolling Stones in Concert, 1962-1982: A Show-by-Show History'


The Rolling Stones made some of the greatest records of the Rock & Roll era, but for a lot of fans, the band was at their greatest on stage. Sitting in your living room listening to Aftermath you couldn’t see Jagger shimmying his skinny hips and flapping his pillow lips. You couldn’t watch Keef swaying over his guitar like a marionette operated by a drunken puppeteer. You couldn’t see Wyman…errr…standing.

While the Stones’ recordings have been well documented in books such as Martin Elliott’s Complete Recording Sessions, their live performances have not been as thoroughly covered. In his introduction to The Rolling Stones in Concert, 1962-1982: A Show-by-Show History, author Ian M. Rusten is up front about attempting to create a stage equivalent to Elliott’s studio-centric one. Like Elliott, Rusten has created a very well organized chronicle of The Rolling Stones at work with separate entries for each item. Of course, recordings are more available to review than ephemeral performances are, so Rusten relies less on his personal opinion in evaluating his topic than Elliott did. This means a hell of a lot more research was involved as Rusten had to seek out period reviews for nearly every concert he discusses in The Rolling Stones in Concert. No wonder he only had it in him to cover the Stones’ first two decades.

Even without considering the workload, 1982 is still a smart year to cease the discussion because it both marks an end to the Stones’ road work before they took an extended (and very acrimonious) break and also marks the end of the Stones as a fairly uncalculating live act. To see them from 1989’s Steel Wheels tour and beyond is not to see the real Rolling Stones. They became more like a Vegas act. Rusten covers the Stones before they started putting on slick shows. In their earliest days, it was more like they were putting on hurricanes. It’s stunning to see how many of their mid-sixties shows ended in riots. In the context of the Stones’ whole sixties stage career, Altamont looks more like a business-as-usual show than a grotesque aberration.

It’s hard to convey the excitement of live music in prose, especially when you weren’t present for the performance in question, so Rusten mostly serves as relayer rather than reviewer. Along with period reviews and less reliable fan relocations culled from contemporary message boards, Rusten provides set lists when possible, and most interesting of all, chunks of quotes from the Stones themselves. Mick and Keith’s hilariously nasty responses to some daft reporters from Phoenix are worth the admission price alone.

Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes: Day 1


Does the mere idea of stepping into another mall, watching It’s a Wonderful Life for the zillionth time, or talking to your loved ones make you throw up? Then settle your bowlful of jelly into the La-Z-Boy® and deck your hall with today’s installment of Psychobabble’s 12 Days of X-Mas Episodes instead! Merry vegetating!

Series: The Simpsons

Episode: “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”, in which the residents of 742 Evergreen Terrace make their full-length debut and acquire a family dog after Scroogey Mr. Burns denies Homer his Christmas bonus. It took The Simpsons a year or so to reach peak hilarity (by my estimation, it really kicked in with “Brush with Greatness”, and not just because I love Ringo), so don’t expect to crap yourself laughing. But the early Simpsons episodes still pack a primitive charm and the tattooist who takes Bart’s word when the kid says he’s 21 is an early hint that the show could be really funny.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Iggy Pop Assembling New Punk Doc Series


Iggy Pop is gathering a bunch of his old punk cronies for a four-part series on their favorite genre called Punk. Among the talking heads to discuss matters they probably already discussed more youngly in Don Letts's 2005 film Punk Attitude are Debbie Harry, Chris Stein, Wayne Kramer, Jello Biafra, Mary Ramone, and insufferable blowhard John Lydon, though oddly enough, no actual Talking Heads. There will also be testimonies from punk chroniclers such as Penelope Spheeris and Legs McNeil and punk likers such as Dave Grohl, Flea, and Duff McKagan. Punk will stream in the U.S. next March on Epix, whatever that is. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Psychobabble’s 10 Favorite Pop-Culture Books of 2018


This year Psychobabble grooved to some rocking Rock biographies, went back to film school with some intriguing studies of big and small screen entertainments, and got socked by some boffo comics collections. Check out my latest favorite among Psychobabble’s 10 Favorite Pop-Culture Books of 2018!

(As always, each entry links to the original review)


In short: Waters’s work will be a gas for those with a taste for bad taste…”

Monday, December 10, 2018

Review: 'American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s'


Considering how forcefully comics have driven the pop culture of the twenty-first century, it is kind of amazing to review the state of the industry at the very end of the twentieth. Comics companies were stuck in a rut, catering to collectors rather than readers with cheesy “limited edition” stunts or pandering to audience’s basest instincts with brutal vigilante violence and bra-bursting sexism. Cinematic adaptations of The Phantom, Judge Dredd, Barb Wire, The Shadow, and Steel were sucking wind at the box office while The Flash could barely complete a single season on TV. Marvel, the company that practically holds a monopoly over the Hollywood of today, filed chapter 11. Comics sales as a whole slumped.

However, the nineties was also the decade when comics buying went totally mainstream as the tale of Superman’s (extremely temporary) demise flew off shelves and his romance with Lois Lane (by way of Teri Htacher) lit up small screens. It was when Batman did more than very well in theaters and shook up the state of TV cartoons with his Animated Series. It was the decade that saw the debuts of such innovations as The Maxx, The Tick, Hellboy, the artist-owned Image Comics, and the racially diverse Milestone Comics.

In the latest installment of TwoMorrows Publishing’s comics history overviews, Jason Sacks and Keith Dallas survey that topsy-turvy landscape of the nineties. While too many comics storyline summaries trip up the narrative, the fascinatingly troubled tale of the comics industry in the nineties still manages to come together in American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1990s. Sacks and Dallas not only cover the major companies and upstarts but also get deep enough into underground titles to forge a pretty complete portrait of a complex decade. And if you find yourself zoning out while reading those plot summaries that never seem to stick to the consciousness, you can just shift your eyes over an inch or two, because there is always some fabulous piece of full-color art to re-focus on.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Restored 'Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus' Arriving a Little Later Than Expected...

Last fall, word escaped that ABKCO was prepping a trio of 50th Anniversary Rolling Stones releases for the remainder of 2018. While a blu-ray of the Goddard film Sympathy for the Devil: One Plus One and an anniversary edition of Beggars Banquet did emerge before the year's end, a blu-ray edition of The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus did not. While we will have to wait a little longer to take in the 4K restoration (from the original 35mmm film) of this marvelous, made-for-TV special featuring the Stones, The Who, Marianne Faithfull, John Lennon's Dirty Mac, Taj Mahal, Jethro Tull, and some acrobats and fire eaters, we now have word that the project is still happening. 
For an invited few, it will happen on December 11 at an exclusive London screening. For the rest of us schlubs, it will go down sometime in the spring of 2019 when a home video release is apparently planned. The cool news about this announcement is that the film will be presented in widescreen for the first time. The press release also describes this new edition as "expanded," though I'm not yet sure if that refers to the wider frame or the addition of footage that did not appear in the 1996 cut of The Rolling Stones Rock & Roll Circus. As soon as I have more details, I'll be sure to pass them along. Stay tuned...

Friday, December 7, 2018

2 Beach Boys Outtakes Sets Now Available

As we passed through the fall, which will soon break into winter, we received the expected 50th anniversary releases from The Beatles and Stones, but I was a bit surprised that The Beach Boys' camp was silent considering last year's CD release of the excellent Beach Boys 1967 set. Where was Beach Boys 1968, a look back on the year they made some of their best music since Pet Sounds, the year they released the highly underrated Friends album and the fine singles "I Can Hear Music" and "Do It Again"? Well, I have my answer today as two new Beach Boys 1968 collections--Wake the World and the Friends Sessions and I Can Hear Music: the 20/20 Sessions-- are quietly arriving. The catch is that these sets are only available as digital downloads, and unlike the Wild Honey-focused Beach Boys 1967 set, they arrive without fresh mixes of the albums they feature.


I guess the good news is that there isn't any wait for these two new Beach Boys 1968 sets: they are both available to download on Amazon.com right now here: Wake the World and the Friends Sessions and I Can Hear Music: the 20/20 Sessions.

Here are the track listings for both sets: 

The Beach Boys 1968Wake the World and the Friends Sessions

Review: 'True Stories' Blu-ray


A mayor who never talks to his wife directly but talks with his hands incessantly. A gregarious yet lonesome soul determined to find a wife. An amateur voodoo practitioner. A woman dedicated to cuteness. A woman devoted to lying in bed. A woman simply devoted to lying. A narrator who finds them all worthy of wonderment and love. These are the inhabitants of Virgil, Texas, the mythical setting of True Stories.

David Byrne directed a few music videos to gear up for his transition from Talking Head to filmmaker, and there is music video style aplenty in his feature debut. Besides the actual musical interludes that include the “Wild, Wild Life” video, there’s the rhythmic editing, seemingly nonsensical juxtapositions, people and ideas that don’t exactly lead anywhere, and emotional focus that transcends meaning that beam through the entire picture. With their script based on some of Byrne’s doodles, Stephen Tobolowsky and Beth Henley string together the disparate characters of True Stories into something that makes sense even as it doesn’t not strive to make sense. When it’s all over, you do not want to say goodbye to any of these Virgil citizens even though they are flawed, even though they tend to lead you down narrative dead ends, because Byrne the director and Byrne the narrator present them with such judgment-free affection.

In a time when the nation is so divided along party and state lines, when real villains devoted to nothing more than what is worst for every American trample the United States, it is both heartening and sad to survey Virgil’s fairy land of mutual understanding and acceptance. Even that married couple who haven’t spoken to each other in years seem to do so more because they want their own entry in the Guinness Book than because they don’t love each other. The film itself finds a liberal from a signature New York City rock band welcomed into the heart of American conservatism. Did an America like this ever exist? I don’t know, but 90 minutes with True Stories is a warm escape from the America forced upon us today. Somehow this films makes laziness, the refusal to communicate adequately, conscienceless consumerism, and complete untruthfulness charming even in a time when Americas worst monster embodies all of these sins.

The Criterion Collection’s blu-ray edition of True Stories presents the film with its customary flawlessness. The Texan landscape is vivid, each frame is free of scratches or blotches, and the soundtrack ripples and booms. That entire soundtrack makes its CD debut (though you may not find things like Annie McEnroe cooing “Dream Operator” great listening when divorced from images of the world’s weirdest fashion show) and leads the way among several choice supplements.

The best video extra is a new hour-long documentary on the film, though it would have been nice if more of the cast members were among its talking heads. There are also shorter new documentaries about how the film’s locations have aged and Tibor Kalman, the graphic designer who masterminded the film’s opening montage and advertising campaign. Vintage material includes a 30-minute making-of featuring many of the original cast members in character (John Goodman on a tour of the house that served as the Ewing homestead on Dallas is pretty priceless) and 14 minutes of fairly interesting deleted scenes. The packaging is also praise worthy, especially the newsprint booklet designed as a mock tabloid.

All written content of Psychobabble200.blogspot.com is the property of Mike Segretto and may not be reprinted or reposted without permission.