Monday, October 3, 2022

Review: 'Lost Highway' Blu-ray

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me was such an tremendous (and underserved) critical and commercial flop that former golden boy David Lynch had a hard time following it up. Waiting for inspiration, he read a single line in a novel by Wild at Heart-scribe Barry Gifford that finally set off that old lightbulb above his quiff, and he knew he wanted to make a movie called Lost Highway and he wanted to Gifford to co-write it. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Review: 30th Anniversary Edition of 'ABBA Gold

ABBA should have been the squarest thing in the seventies pop universe: four toothpaste ads from Sweden singing gleamingly cheerful or earnestly distraught songs tailored for the top ten. Yet even the coolest of the cool wouldn't deny the quality of Benny Anderson and Björn Ulvaeus's songs and production or the flawless and emotive harmonies of Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad. Elvis and the Attractions couldn't stop listening to them on the tour bus and consciously paid tribute to their style on songs such as "Oliver's Army". Pete Townshend praised their songcraft. A decade later, Nirvana not only made ABBA their own tour bus soundtrack, but also actually took an ABBA cover band on tour with them. Starstruck fandom or smirking irony? It was the nineties, so who could tell the difference?

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Review: Matthew Sweet's 'Girlfriend' Vinyl Reissue on Intervention Records

The threshold between the last gasps of hair metal and the grunge revolution, 1991 saw a record not so easy to categorize as Mane Attraction or Nevermind. While Matthew Sweet was very much a rock and roll artist, his music existed states away from metal or grunge. 

Monday, September 19, 2022

Review: 'Charlie's Good Tonight: The Authorized Biography of Charlie Watts'

The Rolling Stones' reputation for being "bad boys" or whatever is not unearned considering all the abuse of women, drugs, and each other for which Mick, Keith, Brian, and Bill were known to indulge in to varying degrees (as far as I know, Keith was always pretty gentlemanly when it came to women and Bill never messed with drugs or his bandmates. Underage girls, however...). 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Review: 'Halloween Nuggets: Haunted Underground Classics'

If there were two things parents hated in the fifties it was rock and roll and scary stuff. A kid was liable to find his new copy of "Tutti Frutti" plopped in the trash next to a cherished issue of The Vault of Horror if he didn't keep a close eye on his stash! So the two genres have always been inseparably linked in many ways. In fact, you're reading one of those links right now, Hep-Cat!

Thursday, September 15, 2022

Review: 'The Best of Roxy Music' Vinyl

To cap off Roxy Music's half-speed remaster campaign that began early this year, The Best of Roxy Music is now making its vinyl debut. The 2001 compilation pulls the slightly quirky trick of unfolding in reverse chronological order so that the extremely quirky Roxy Music gets rawer, weirder, and more vivacious as the collection slinks from the tuxedo-tidy title track of Roxy's final album to the electrifying kitchen-sink insanity of "Re-Make/Re-Model" from their eponymous debut. Avalon is actually a beautiful record, but it took Bryan Ferry and his group a little while to really figure out how to plug into MOR white-wine pop with sufficient imagination, so The Best of Roxy Music drifts off a bit from the glossy Lennon cover "Jealous Guy" to the post-hiatus pop hit "Dance Away". However, once "Both Ends Burning" kicks in at the very end of the first disc of this double-LP set, Roxy Music is at full power. You'd be hard pressed to find a more thrilling collection of seventies rock music than the second disc, which just throws punch after punch and lands square between the eyes each time.

The 180g vinyl is flat and quiet but ever so slightly off center. You'll have to stare at the whirling discs to know it though because there are zero audio issues. The sound is phenomenal. I checked the tracks against the original-press Roxy records I have on hand, and the stuff from the first album sounds louder, more detailed, and more dynamic on this new release, while the stuff from the final album sounds quieter and significantly clearer. It's the ideal balance. 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Review: Lynne Goldsmith's 'Music in the '80s'

If you paid any attention to rock music during the eighties, you've seen a bunch of Lynn Goldsmith's pictures. She shot all of the decade's biggest stars from the coolest (Prince, The B-52s, The Ramones, Siouxsie) to the squarest (Barry Manilow). The variety of her photos is as eclectic as the people she photographed. She took glossy posed pics and candid back-stage ones that could be Polaroids. She took black and whites and colors and electrifying live shots and casual al fresco ones. My personal faves are the weird after-party pics featuring unlikely gatherings of stars. You want to see John Mellencamp beaming alongside Jayne County and David Johansen? You want to see Nile Rogers, Chrissie Hynde, Dexter Gordon, and Paul Shaffer sharing a table? You want to see Darlene Love in a clutch with Joan Jett and Elton John, who's wearing a huge, fake mohawk? Then Music in the '80s is the book for you. 

Music in the '80s collects 350 pages of photos Goldsmith took during that most absurdly photogenic decade of garish fashions and hairstyles. Text is limited to a paragraph on the decade by the author and four pages of decade-centric quotes from photo subjects who speak highly (Kate Pierson, Hall and Oates, Tina Turner, Alice Cooper), lowly (Laurie Anderson, Bernie Taupin, Chris Stein, Gene Simmons, Iggy Pop), and foggily (Keith Richards) of the eighties. It would have been nice if Goldsmith provided some of her own captioned remembrances to further illuminate her pictures, but considering the kind of shit that was going on in the eighties, her memories might not be the sharpest. That's probably fine, because most of these pictures speak for themselves.

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