Sunday, December 22, 2019

Review: The Beatstalkers' 'Scotland's No. 1 Beat Group'

The Beatstalkers were an odd duck in Britain’s mid-sixties beat scene. Were they a middle-of-the-road pop group like The Tremeloes? Sometimes. Were they aggressive, modish noise merchants like The Who? They were when they were at their best. Were they purveyors of twee quirk? They certainly were when a pre-fame David Bowie was providing their material. Were they Scotland’s No. 1 beat group? Well, they were if you trust the title of Sommor’s new compilation of everything The Beatstalkers recorded.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Review: 'Slaughterhouse-Five' Blu-ray

Kurt Vonnegut is among the most popular and clear-eyed writers with a taste for the experimental, but his work is notoriously difficult to adapt because his tone and humor are so individual and his plotting so unhinged. Consequently, few filmmakers have had the guts to tackle his source material, and even fewer have done so successfully. Most people will agree that George Roy Hill came closest with his 1972 version of what is probably Vonnegut’s signature work.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Review: Motown's Mono Vinyl Series, Part 1

You can get into the “stereo vs. mono” debate until your ears disintegrate, but when it comes to Motown soul, there is no debate. Mono is the only way to experience the unified power of the Funk Brothers’ and the silky harmonies of The Miracles and The Marvelettes. So the label’s new limited edition series of vinyl cut from original mono master tapes is completely welcome. Most of these discs are long out of print on wax in their definitive mixes, and a couple in the first wave—The Marvelettes’ Sophisticated Soul and The Supremes’ Reflections—have either never been available in mono (the former) or only available in that format in the UK (the latter). 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Review: 'Melody Makers: Should’ve Been There'

Melody Maker was generally more significant for Barrie Wentzell’s striking B&W photos of sixties and seventies pop and rock stars than the depth of its reportage. So Leslie Ann Coles’s documentary Melody Makers: Should’ve Been There is a fitting tribute to the long-running UK music paper. The storytelling is as flimsy as a puff piece on Yes, but boy, those Wentzell photos that fill the screen throughout this film’s 88 minutes are impressive. Peter Gabriel resplendent in his daisy headpiece. Brian Jones cradling his sitar. Tina Turner commanding the stage as a Screaming Mimi in a mini.
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