News and Notes
On this fine album, the Blues Explosion rants, raves, and ultimately knocks some sense into your ass. Miles away from the punk edge of their first album, yet before the hip-hop-influenced Orange, Extra Width is a journey through the world of soul and funk. The trio's dualing guitars kick while Spencer howls his guts out, guiding the album from loose '70s funk on "Afro" to tight groove on "Soul Typecast." Turn it up and rock out.
Fishing with Gandhi
Fishing with Gandhi: in which Danno,
from his widowed mother's wedding
does hitchhike home to San Francisco
in Hamlet's pickle, regretting
mom's fickle nuptials, and dad fresh dead.
When, dumb'd from birth or bumps on the head,
twins "Gil"denstern and "Roy"sencrantz
stop truck -- what luck! It's Danno's chance.
Meanwhile back in town, his yuppie mates,
pass time in bickering angst, and plan
a potluck welcome home for Dan.
When the pickup overheats, Dan waits.
The rest is comic, corndog, antic;
slapstick humor, not pedantic.
The Essential Ray Price
One of the great honky-tonkers, Ray Price is remembered more for who was in his band (Roger Miller, Johnny Paycheck, Willie Nelson) than for his own recordings. Yet, his voice and the 4/4 shuffle beat he pioneered easily make him worthy of solo acclaim. This collection documents Price's progression from Hank Williams protege to honky-tonk hero. On early tracks, Price imitates Williams' plaintive vocal style; on later cuts, his voice leads him where it may. The reigns really begin to loosen on "Wasted Words," and by "Crazy Arms," he's running wild.
Taken from a story by Somerset Maugham, The Beachcomber spins a South Seas tale of colonial missionaries, heathen natives, and dissolute Englishmen. Charles Laughton is Ginger Ted, a blustery, yet gentle drunk living on a lonely island in the Dutch East Indies. Elsa Lanchester is the busybody do-gooder who tries to reform him. Laughton's acting is priceless, and the ending is a prize.
Presaging Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, Lawrence Norfolk's Lempriere's Dictionary, Robert Anton Wilson's nutty Illuminati stuff, and everything Thomas Pynchon ever wrote, this strange little romp through an imaginary, paranoiac history is just what you're looking for. But we knew that already.
You've heard about digital music files called MP3s. You've heard about compact digital players like the Diamond Rio. You've heard about college kids who haven't bought a CD in years because they have 20-gig hard drives full of bootlegged songs. Have you felt compelled to get in on the fun? Probably not. Napster will change that. Deceptively simple, it harnesses the amazing hive-like power of the Net. It's clearly a killer app. Literally. The current record industry business model is living on borrowed time.
The Comic Art of George Herriman
You have written truth, you friends of the "shadows," yet be not
harsh with "Krazy." He is but a shadow himself caught in the web of
this mortal skein. We call him "Cat." We call him "Crazy." Yet he is
neither. At some time will he ride away to you, people of the twilight.
His password will be the echoes of a vesper bell, his coach a zephyr
from the west. Forgive him, for you will understand him no better than we
who linger on this side of the pale.
-- George Herriman, 1917
Have you read and re-read all your Calvin and Hobbes until the pages are fading? Go to the source.
Ricky, Ronnie, and Mike watched their New Edition brethren leave, one by one, and find success as solo artists -- Bobby Brown, then Johnny Gill, then Ralph Tresvant. So what were three Beantown b-boys to do? "Smack it up, flip it, and rub it down," of course. From the hip-hop-tinged opener, "Dope," to the testosterone-charged radio hits, "Do Me" and "Poison," this album will stick to your CD player "like the bread on the meat of my sandwich." (JG)
Big metaphysical concept. Big soundtrack. Big-name animators. Big bazooms. Heavy Metal was the ideal '70s-to-'80s bridge for those of us too young or too stoned to identify with The Big Chill's proto-yuppies. Featuring a voice cast of soon-to-be-famous Second City comedy greats (Joe Flaherty, John Candy, Eugene Levy), Heavy Metal is a shining green light in the pre-Aeon Flux adult-animation void -- sloppy, dumb, loud, and did we mention "big?"
With breathtaking assuredness, Marilynne Robinson crafts an elegiac evocation of the West, of the sky, of loneliness and transience. The story, two orphaned girls taken under wing by an enigmatic aunt, will alter the way you think about society's fabric and those who choose to slip from it. I have read few things so beautiful.
Cradle Will Rock
Robbins's ambitious celebration of the Federal Theatre Project in the thirties is an exuberant, high-minded dazzler, with plenty of laughs, flaws, cameos, caricatures, intercuts, and delightful ensemble work. Perhaps the most priceless juxtaposition is Nelson Rockefeller (John Cusack) hiring Diego Rivera (Rub�n Blades) to paint a mural in "his" lobby. Bill Murray as a washed up ventriloquist makes everybody laugh. Too bad Orson Welles wasn't around to play himself...
Glengarry Glen Ross
A great play that made a fine movie, David Mamet's Glengarry Glen Ross offers a verbal fusillade about pressure, delusion, and the art of closing. The playwright's signature machine-gun dialogue works perfectly spit from the mouths of fast-talking real-estate men -- some trying to win the office sales award (a Cadillac), most just trying desperately to save their jobs. Mamet has written countless other plays, movies, memoirs, and recently even a novel, but nowhere in his career is the magic stronger than it is in Glengarry.
Dark Architecture & Morality
Blending synths and sundry electronica with a human touch, OMD creates a warm and inviting album, yet much darker than the slick, teen-movie filler they'd later produce. As a bonus, Architecture & Morality contains some of the most elegant pop songs of the `80s. The haunting "Souvenir" would make the perfect soundtrack for an actual teen romance.