Monday, July 17, 2023

Review: The Rolling Stones' 'Metamorphosis' Vinyl Reissue

Looking to take advantage of its vast library of vintage Stones tapes, ABKCO started planning an outtakes compilation in the mid-seventies. When Bill Wyman got wind of the project, he assembled his own list of songs he wanted released as Black Box, but Allen Klein supposedly balked at the lack of lucrative Jagger/Richards originals. He probably also wasn't crazy about Bill's reliance on live recordings and unfinished backing tracks. 

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Review: 'The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Ominous Omnibus 2: Deadtime Stories for Boos & Ghouls'

1993 was a big year for The Simpsons. It was when the series' finest season, number four, aired and when Matt Groening started Bongo Comics to continue the Springfieldians' antics off the small screen. 

The key to The Simpsons' comedic success, way back when the show actually was comedically successful, was its constant barrage of sharp, insightful, and/or outrageously silly jokes that went by so quickly you had to watch the best episodes a dozen times for everything to register. It all comes down to writing, pacing, and editing, most of which goes out the window in the transition from TV to comics. Frankly, The Simpsons comics were not really funny. With their over-reliance on trotting out obscure characters, lazy self-references, lazy puns, and slack pacing, they're not too different from what the TV series would start becoming during its spotty eighth season. 

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Review: Vinyl Reissues of Pete Townshend's 'Rough Mix' and 'Empty Glass'

Because he wrote the vast majority of The Who's songs, Pete Townshend seemed less likely to need a solo career than frustrated songwriter John Entwistle. So, naturally, the bass player was the first member of the band to release a proper solo album, but Townshend had frustrations of his own. Incorrigibly prolific and eclectic beyond The Who's patented bash and bluster, Townshend ended up with a massive backlog of material. Some of it squeaked out on records mostly passed out to followers of his preferred spiritual leader, Meher Baba, and a more widely distributed release called Who Came First that was credited to Townshend but also included songs by fellow followers Billy Nicholls and Face Ronnie Lane.

Monday, July 10, 2023

Review: 'King's Road' Expanded Edition

Carnaby Street may have been synonymous with Swinging London, but the King's Road was swinging centuries before dedicated followers of fashion swarmed Carnaby and a good decade after that street warped into a Disnified version of itself. Henry VIII spent time in the King's Road area. So did Thomas More, Henry James, Noel Coward, Germaine Greer, Christopher Lee, Diana Dors, Aleister Crowley, Bram Stoker, Francis Bacon, and Karl Marx. But it was scene makers like Mary Quant, the Stones, Pete Townshend, and later, the Sex Pistols and The Damned, who really gave the road its character. The Rocky Horror Show debuted there. A Clockwork Orange was filmed at its Chelsea Drug Store, which Jagger immortalized in "You Can't Always Get What You Want". Judy Garland died there. It was where a box for keeping plants alive on long sea voyages was invented, where you could see a monkey ride a pony around a mansion's grounds (if you were around in 1843, that is), where a "mad idiot" was known to visit the night spots with a dyed-green rabbit he loaded up with LSD until the poor pet committed suicide, where a wombat suffocated in a box of cigars, and where the British Spaghetti Queen slipped into a dress comprised of thirty helpings of macaroni. Thirty!

Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Review: 'Dead Funny: The Humor of American Horror'

Serious horror fans may argue that humor undercuts terror, but the two emotions come from similar places. A laugh and a shriek are both spontaneous reactions often brought on by a surprise and/or a stimulus often (but not always) specifically designed to elicit such a reaction. Horror and humor can enhance each other when dealt out piggyback style. Think of how the hideous Deadites generate wails of horror when they fly up from the fruit cellar in Evil Dead II but then immediately cause wails of laughter when they start behaving more like Moe and Curly. Think of how a humorously foul-mouthed conversation amongst starship crew members suddenly turns terrifying when the titular Alien bursts through one of their chests. 

Monday, July 3, 2023

Review: Vinyl Reissues of 4 Rolling Stones LPs

When the Rolling Stones' sixties albums made their first appearance on digitally remastered CDs in the mid-eighties, ABKCO made the fairly controversial decision to issue them in their American iterations rather than the UK originals. At the same time, the label also issued these American versions on vinyl.

That was 37 years ago. Since then, the UK albums have become the standard in the US during the current vinyl resurgence, although most of the American albums were included on ABKCO's Rolling Stones in Mono box set from 2016. Long story short, ABKCO recently began reissuing each of the American albums in the U.S. as standalone vinyl releases for the first time since 1986. Some of these LPs, such as Aftermath, Between the Buttons, and Flowers, have not been issued in the states on stereo vinyl in any way since 1986. The campaign also includes a few UK records that have never been given standard (i.e.: non-RSD or non-box set) releases in the States before.

Saturday, July 1, 2023

Review: Bill Evans' Trio's 'Waltz for Debby'

Just a few months after Riverside released the first live album by the Bill Evans' Trio, it released the tracks that didn't make it onto Sunday at the Village Vanguard and as Waltz for Debby. Hearing the record 61 years later, it sounds like anything but some sort of barrel scraping or closet cleaning. These sparse, autumnal, extraordinarily romantic, yet never saccharine, recordings by pianist Evans, drummer Paul Motian, and bassist Scott LaFaro (who'd die in a car crash less than two weeks after the date that spawned these albums) are beautifully played and beautifully captured. 
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