Monday, July 1, 2024

Review: Robyn Hitchcock's Memoir, '1967'

Anyone who's fallen under the spell of Robyn Hitchcock's tombstone surrealism should be more than a little intrigued by his foray into the memoir world. The guy can write. Not that you'll necessarily find as much story in 1967 as you will in, say, "Underwater Moonlight". 

Monday, June 10, 2024

Review: Paul McCartney & Wings' 'One Hand Clapping'

After releasing Band on the Run and finally getting a gold star from venomous critics, including the most venomous critic of all (Lennon), Paul McCartney was hot to keep riding that wave of good will. So he rushed into the studio with Wings to follow up with a live-in-the-studio session of covers and songs he'd already recorded and released with his current band, as a solo artist, and with his old band featuring that most venomous critic of all (Lennon).

Saturday, June 1, 2024

Review: 'The Future Is Now: Madmen, Mavericks, and the Epic Sci-Fi Summer of 1982'

Even though pretty much everyone loved it, Star Wars became an easy go-to villain for every dreary movie critic who'd come to complain that it ruined cinematic art by making special effects and bottom line far more important than story, complex themes, and characterizations. Nevertheless, it took a few years for the influence of George Lucas's film to really ripen. Aside from a few stray extravaganzas like Superman, Alien, and Raiders of the Lost Ark, the Star Wars influence was mostly manifest in grade-Z schlockers like Star Crash and Battle Beyond the Stars in the years immediately following the summer of '77. 

Saturday, May 18, 2024

Review: Vinyl Reissues of The Supremes' 'We Remember Sam Cooke' and The Temptations' 'I Wish It Would Rain'

Motown has long had a reputation for putting out fab singles in the sixties but not putting much effort into its long players until Berry Gordy finally gave artists such as Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder the freedom to mature in the seventies. That assumption is mostly unfair, and was probably started by people who never really gave many of the label's sixties albums a chance. So Elemental's decision to mount a Motown LP-reissue campaign is more than mere property exploitation. Reissues of some truly fantastic albums are on the way, and the first of which is The Temptations' I Wish It Would Rain. The final album the Temps made before transitioning to the funkier psychedelic soul that would define their early seventies work is remarkably consistent and remarkably good, with album tracks such as "Cindy", "Why Did you Leave Me Darling", and "I've Passed This Way Before" being every bit as good as the hits "I Wish It Would Rain" and "(Loneliness Made Me Realize) It's You That I Need", which are two of their best. 

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Review: Vinyl Reissues of 3 John Entwistle Albums

Much like George Harrison, John Entwistle was an excellent and unique songwriter in a band with songwriters who rank among the top-five rock songwriters of all time. Sometimes you just can't win, but Harrison at least deserved the last laugh when The Beatles split and he released what is arguably the best Beatles solo album of all. 

Entwistle couldn't quite boast the same thing, considering the extraordinary quality of Pete Townshend's Empty Glass, but I feel pretty comfortable calling Entwistle's solo debut, Smash You Head Against the Wall, second best. Here is a deep dark lake creepy crawling with The Ox's cynicism, macabre humor, multi-instrumental prowess, and quirky way with melody, as well as his often overlooked "is it me for a moment" sensitivity. Dig the melodies of "What Are We Doing Here?" and "Ted End". They are liable to draw tears.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Review: 40th Anniversary Edition of Billy Idol's 'Rebel Yell'

It didn’t really matter what tube you were in. In the eighties, you could grok Billy Idol if you were a metal head, a top-40 fluff head, a new waver, or even a less dogmatic goth or punk, particularly if you’d been following Idol since his Generation X days. With his cross-over appeal, personal style that felt more like a personal brand (the bleached spikes; the leather wardrobe; the Elvis sneer), and a sound that was really more pop than anything else, Billy Idol could have been little more than generic “Rocker” for the eighties if he and his hits didn’t exude so much personality. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Review: 'Return of the Jedi: A Visual Archive'

Return of the Jedi has its flaws, but you can't say that the final episode of the original Star Wars trilogy doesn't look fab. The creatures! The costumes! The colors! Not to mention the tie-in merchandise. Perhaps of all the Star Wars films, Return of the Jedi best lends itself to one of those visual archive type books filled with photos and pasted-in ephemera. Star Wars is a much better film, but it's a bit too drab. Empire is even better, but its winter-wear costumes aren't as groovy and it's very light in the creature department. What Return of the Jedi lacks in storytelling and acting, it makes up for with squid heads, fish heads, speeder bikes, and golden bikinis. 

Saturday, April 6, 2024

Review: Vinyl Reissues of Billy Joel Albums

Everyone thinks of Jimmy Stewart as a sanitized "oh gosh" icon of apple-pie Americana, but when you look at his body of work, there are a lot of disturbed characters in there. The voyeur and the sexually obsessive freak he played for Hitchcock are obvious examples, but even his George Bailey in that allegedly saccharine but actually coal-dark holiday classic It's a Wonderful life is scary and intense for most of the film.

Saturday, March 23, 2024

Review: 'Cannibal Error: Anti-Film Propaganda and the 'Video Nasties' Panic of the 1980s'

When home video took off in the early eighties, the main concern in the United States was that videotape enthusiasts would start recording copyrighted films and programs off of TV. In Great Britain, the main concern would be that they'd go on murder rampages. 

What followed was the so-called Video Nasty panic, which not only plopped a very, very silly term into the British lexicon but also spawned a great song by The Damned ("Nasty") and one of the best episodes of "The Young Ones" ("Nasty"), which also happened to feature The Damned singing that great song ("Nasty"). 

But the whole Video Nasty thing wasn't all rockin' tunes and hilarious TV. People's homes were raided by British authorities. Video collections were confiscated. Video store proprietors and private collectors were arrested or detained. Lives were seriously upended. Heinous crimes committed by heinous criminals were blamed on Chucky and Rambo. 

Friday, March 22, 2024

Review: 'All You Need Is Love: The Beatles In Their Own Words'

According to its press release, Peter Brown and Steven Gaines's All You Need Is Love: The Beatles In Their Own Words is "A LANDMARK ORAL HISTORY ON THE BEATLES" (their caps). 

There are several problems in that last sentence: 

A) Only 20% of All You Need Is Love consists of The Beatles' own words (The Beatles being Paul, George, and Ringo, but not John). The other words are supplied by Yoko Ono, Cynthia Lennon, Pattie Boyd, Maureen Starkey, Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall, "Magic" Alex Mardas, and twenty or so others in or around The Beatles' circle.

B) All You Need Is Love is not an oral history. An oral history interweaves carefully selected quotations and anecdotes from numerous sources to tell a chronological story. All You Need Is Love is a collection of unedited transcribed interviews, complete with every "uh" and "um."

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