Monday, September 29, 2014

Triple-Disc Deluxe Edition of 'The Monkees' Coming Soon

Having gotten caught up on the second half of The Monkees' career with triple-disc deluxe editions of every album from The Birds, The Bees, & The Monkees through The Monkees Present (not surprisingly, there hasn't been much demand for a deluxe edition of Changes), Rhino Records are winding back to the very beginning. On November 11, the company is releasing a super deluxe edition of the group's debut album. The format will change a bit from the previous deluxe editions with both the original mono and stereo mixes of The Monkees being grouped on a single CD; a second disc of sessions, outtakes, and remixes; and a third one devoted to the pre-Monkees solo work of Davy Jones and Mike Nesmith, plus some bonus demos of "I Wanna Be Free". 

Presumably, this means we might be able to expect super-deluxe editions of More of The Monkees and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, LTD. over the next few years. Headquarters was already dealt with on Rhino Handmade's The Headquarters Sessions in 2000, but perhaps that out-of-print set will get re-released...or we could get an all-new Headquarters Super Deluxe Edition. Time will tell...

For now The Monkees (Super Deluxe Edition) is available to pre-order now from The Monkees Official Store here.

And now, the track list:

Track List:

Disc 1

The Original Mono Album


Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review: 'David Bowie Treasures'

Ignorant critics have regularly accused David Bowie of being an artist of greater style than substance. Truth is, he is has both in spades. Mike Evans's David Bowie Treasures, has no aspirations of substance, but it pulls off the style pretty well. Like all books in the Treasures series, this slip-cased installment is light on biography, heavier on photos, and augmented with pockets containing removable reproductions of posters, concert adverts, tickets, and contracts. The interesting thing about Evans's book is that so many of the photos capture the primary artist with others famous people: Jagger, Dylan, Lennon, McCartney, Mercury, Townshend, Tina, Iggy, Lou, Bing. One almost gets the sense that the author (assuming he was the one who chose the photos) wasn't sure if his subject was a big enough star to carry the book on his own (obviously, he is). Nevertheless, we get some pretty neat shots, my favorite being one of Bowie and Liz Taylor, who looks like she just finished raiding his closet. 

Review: 'Pumpkin Cinema'

There are already enough horror movie guides haunting bookstores to choke King Kong. Nathaniel Tolle justifies the existence of yet another one by employing a welcome premise: movies that conjure just the right atmosphere for Halloween viewing. He lays out his criteria in the introductory chapter of Pumpkin Cinema: nothing too slow, too long, too depressing, too cruel, or too off-season for Halloween fun. Such seasonally perfect selections as Something Wicked This Way Comes, House of Frankenstein, The Adventures of Ichabod, and of course, Halloween are shoe-ins.

Sometimes Tolle has trouble sticking to his own premise, as when he chooses the swelteringly Amazonian Creature from the Black Lagoon instead of more appropriately autumnal alternatives like The Wolf Man or Dracula (which he disqualifies for being too slow…blasphemy!). While those are some glaring omissions matched only by the near-total absence of Hammer horrors, I appreciated Tolle’s otherwise appreciation of classic monster movies from all eras and how he further distinguishes his book from similar guides by getting into cartoons, short films, and Halloween episodes of non-supernatural TV series. I also liked the fact that he selected movies he likes, so you don’t have to hunt around to locate his recommendations. You still might want to approach a lot of those recommendations with caution since Tolle can be undiscerning when it comes to direct-to-video cheapies and holiday movies starring Ernest or The Olsen Twins. That unfettered enthusiasm extends to writing that is accessible yet can get dodgy without enough editorial intervention. Someone certainly should have steered him away from writing “working quite well are the many ample bosoms that constantly struggle to stay confined in their tiny bikini tops” in his entry for the notorious rape-monster movie Humanoids from the Deep. Yeesh.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Review: 'Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones'

Everyone who has done their Rolling Stones homework knows that Brian Jones started the band, that he was their most naturally gifted musician, that he contributed more to their recordings than Mick and Keith want you to believe. Unfortunately, Brian did not live to drill his version of events into your consciousness the way Mick has with his carefully calculated interviews and Keith has with his critically drooled-over doorstop of an autobiography. Had he lived beyond 1969, Brian Jones probably would not have anyway based on the way Paul Trynka presents the guitarist/ keyboardist/ saxophonist/ sitarist/ marimbaist/etc. in his new biography Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones. The most vilified member of the Stones comes across as less violent, less perpetually drugged, less useless here.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Review: 'How Star Wars Conquered the Universe'

How Star Wars Conquered the Universe is the Star Wars book I’ve always wanted to read. It’s a well-written, frank, vivacious, irreverent, reverent look at the most popular film series of all time and the phenomenon it heaved out into the galaxy. Others have tried to do what Chris Taylor does but have been hampered by the strictures of working within the Lucasfilm Empire or their own Sithy ambitions. What Michael Kaminski took 500-plus pages to do in his admittedly essential but not exactly fun to read The Secret History of Star Wars, Taylor does in much easier-to-digest form. We get the gist that despite his usual rap, George Lucas really did not have much of a plan for his space opera.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Review: 'Gimme Indie Rock: 500 Essential American Underground Rock Albums 1981-1996'

In the eighties, music fans who didn’t want to preen with the new wavers, pout with the hair metalists, or snooze with Lionel Ritchie really had to do their research. Groups like Black Flag, Throwing Muses, and The Feelies weren’t exactly playing alongside Mötley Crüe on MTV at 4PM, though you might catch them if you stayed up past Midnight on Sundays. You might also read about them in photocopied fanzines or get lectured about them from the Doc Martened blowhard at your local hole-in-the-wall record shop. 

In the Internet era, this kind of happenstance is less a prerequisite to discovering great underground groups, so from one point of view, Andrew Earles’s Gimme Indie Rock: 500 Essential American Underground Rock Albums 1981-1996 is about twenty years too late. Arriving in 2014, however, it still serves a definite function as a valuable tour of one of the least-eulogized roads of Rock history. More practically it’s a distillation of The Trouser Press Record Guide that hones a fifteen-year flood of small-label albums down to the must haves… or, at least, Earles’ idea of the must-haves. As is the case with any “best of” guide created by one person, the selection is highly subjective even as the writer reveals he chose some albums he didn’t like because of their historical importance. Taking that under consideration it isn’t unreasonable to wonder where certain artists (no Spinanes, no Velocity Girl, no Grant Lee Buffalo) or select albums (no Pony Express Record, no The Real Ramona, no The Stars Are Insane) are. Still I can’t say there are a ton of glaring omissions from Gimme Indie Rock.

As a writer, Earle certainly seems to have been influenced by The Trouser Press Record Guide (which he name-checks in his introduction) with his tendency to write about ecstatic music clinically rather than ecstatically. That kind of writing isn’t generally my cup of tea, but even Earle can’t hold back his awe from time to time, as when he uses more visceral terms to describe Team Dresch’s Personal Best, which “will knock unprepared listeners against the wall”. He is not fucking kidding.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Farewell, Richard Kiel

Best remembered for his towering 7' 1.5" stature and for playing the silver-toothed villain Jaws in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, Richard Kiel won Psychobabble's heart when he terrified as the Kanamit in the unforgettable "To Serve Man" episode of "The Twilight Zone" and milked laughs in the "I Was a Teenage Monster" episode of "The Monkees" (more on that episode next month...). You may have your own favorite Richard Kiel moments since he acted in nearly eighty films and TV shows, most recently providing the voice of Vlad in the hit animated movie Tangled and appearing as a Giant in an episode of the kids' show "Blood Hounds, Inc". A less known aspect of Kiel's career is that he also co-wrote Kentucky Lion, a biography of abolitionist Clay. Cassius Marcellus Sadly, Kiel died yesterday a week after being hospitalized for a broken leg. The specific cause of his death is not yet known.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Review: The Criterion Edition of 'Eraserhead'

Eraserhead has been streaming on Hulu as a member of the Criterion Collection for two years, which means excited speculation that Criterion might give it a proper home-media release has also been circulating for years. The ultimate cult movie meets the finest video-distribution company to achieve cult status of its own. That is a relationship much happier than Henry Spencer and Mary X’s.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Siouxsie and the Banshees' Final Four to Finally Be Reissued Next Month

It has been four years since Universal Music abandoned its Siouxsie and the Banshees reissue campaign that saw the group's first seven studio albums remastered and ornamented with bonus tracks. On his Facebook page, bassist Steve Severin said the decision was down to those albums lacking sufficient bonus tracks back in 2010. Apparently, that was bollocks, because UMe, in conjunction with Polydor, will be reissuing Through the Looking Glass, Peepshow, Superstition, and The Rapture complete with bonus tracks this October 13. Hopefully, now that Universal and The Banshees are back on track that career-spanning box set Severin has been teasing for years will finally happen.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Review: 'The Zombie Book: The Encyclopedia of the Living Dead'

As much as I love monsters, I’m pretty burnt out on the whole zombie craze that really needs a pickaxe through the brain at this point. So I cracked open Nick Redfern and Brad Steiger’s The Zombie Book: The Encyclopedia of the Living Dead without a load of enthusiasm. I was relieved to learn it’s basically mistitled, though I’m not sure what would have been a better name for an eclectic encyclopedia that gathers together plenty of zombie-related entries (films such as Night of the Living Dead and Shaun of the Dead, alleged real-life voodoo practitioners such as Papa Jaxmano and the Chickenman, “zombifying” diseases like Mad Cow, etc.) and a lot of stuff that really doesn’t have much to do with its ostensible topic. True blue-skinned zombie devotees might get frustrated with entries covering monsters (space aliens and Texan gargoyles) that don’t have much in common with zombies. They may question the inclusions of AIDS, human cannibals like the Donner Party, and the Apocalypse, or wonder where genuinely zombie-related items like “Tales from the Crypt” and The Song of Ice and Fire/“Game of Thrones” (with its zombie “wights”) are. They may also get exasperated with an entry on Armageddon that not only has nothing to do with zombies but has nothing to do with Armageddon either (it’s about the U.S. Marine Corps’ detestable practice of having biblical quotes inscribed on rifle sites at great expense to taxpayers). As a reader who wasn’t really looking forward to immersing himself in an endless orgy of zombienalia, I really enjoyed the off-topic facts, myths, and rumors and the lively, often humorous way Redfern and Steiger share them.

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