charlie sheen

REVIEW: King’s X – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000)


Complete studio albums (and more!), part 12

Scan_20151017KING’S X – Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous (2000 Metal Blade)

Starting with 1998’s Tape Head, King’s X would write and self-record new material in the studio.  The following album Please Come Home…Mr. Bulbous was done the same way, in a quick time frame of under two months.  On Tape Head they captured tremendous energy and groove with that method.  Perhaps the drawback to this approach is that you have less time to live with and tighten up the songwriting.  On the other hand, on Mr. Bulbous it sounds like songwriting was a minor concern next to instrumental experimentation.

Songs like the opener “Fish Bowl Man” sound like several loose ideas floating together.  It is a chorus without a song, unfortunately, because that chorus is a King’s X winner.  The beat poetry section of the song is very interesting indeed, but it’s not among King’s X’s finer moments.  Darkly simmering is the next song “Julia”, but its soft pulse is not enough.  Two important ingredients are missing, and they are Doug’s soul singin’, and the patented King’s X groove machine.  “She’s Gone Away” also fails to lift from the runway (although it sounded better live).  This is more like King’s X for the dreamtimes.

This band is always been interesting instrumentally, and that holds true on Mr. Bulbous.  Exploring laid-back musical landscapes while only blasting occasionally is more than fine.  “Marsh Mellow Field” for example has a rock-heavy chorus featuring Doug in full lungs.  The issue is that the songs are loose and sparsely arranged affairs that don’t sound coherent.  It’s a challenging listen, and there are moments of riff and solo brilliance, but one must be patient.

Album highlights:

  • Jerry Gaskill’s drums on “When You’re Scared”.  This guy is such an underrated drummer.  “He plays with his whole body,” said my friend Uncle Meat.  You can hear that, too.
  • “Charlie Sheen”.  No idea what the words are about, but this is about the only true “song” on the album.  It’s really good, with one of those Ty Tabor choruses that you remember for days.  “Kill the king, strip the queen, are you my friend dear Charlie Sheen”?  Who cares, it sounds good and that’s what works.  The song also has a very twangy Morse-like guitar part that makes this the catchiest track of the bunch.
  • “Move Me” parts 1 and 2.  Although Doug’s vocals are mixed in a nasal John Lennon fashion, this rocker has some movement to it.  It’s one of the most constructed songs on the album, with the light and shade finally making sense within the structure of a song.  An epic triumph almost worthy of the classic period of the band.

It’s a mixed affair but because it’s King’s X there is always going to be quality to it.

3/5 stars

Scan_20151017 (2)

PLATYPUS_0001Next in this series: a previously published review of a Ty Tabor side project named Platypus. Platypus are a band consisting of Ty Tabor – Guitars & vocals. John Myung (Dream Theater) – Bass. Derek Sherinian (Dream Theater, Alice Cooper, Kiss) – Keys. Rod Morgenstein (Dixie Dregs, Winger) – Drums. Their second album, Ice Cycles, was loaded with fun time progressive hard rock. Ty gets a chance to shred jazzily and in other different contexts, and it is just delightful. You can check out that review now by clicking here.

Part 1 – Out of the Silent Planet (1988)
Part 2 – Gretchen Goes to Nebraska (1989)
Part 3 – Kings of the Absurd (split bootleg with Faith No More)
Part 4 – Faith Hope Love by King’s X (1990)
Part 5 – “Junior’s Gone Wild” (from 1991’s Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey soundtrack)
Part 6 – King’s X (1992)
Part 7 – Dogman (1994) + bonus “Pillow” promo single review
Part 8 – Ear Candy (1996)
Part 9 – Best of King’s X (1997)
Part 10 – Tape Head (1998)
Part 11 – POUNDHOUND – Massive Grooves from the Electric Church of Psychofunkadelic Grungelism Rock Music (1998 Doug Pinnick/Jerry Gaskill)


Blu-ray REVIEW: The Arrival (1996)

ARRIVAL_0001THE ARRIVAL (1996 Lionsgate)

Written and Directed by David Thowy

I’ll confess that this review has little to do with rock and roll.  The Blu-ray disc does contain a killer 7.1 DTS HD surround sound mix, and that will appeal to those who appreciate a good 7.1 soundtrack.  I haven’t had the chance to review many 7.1 releases here.  Other than that, the only connection is that Charlie Sheen parties like a rock star, so he’s in the club honorarily at this point. He did in fact proclaim himself a “total freakin’ rock star from Mars,” and I’m not going to argue with Charlie Sheen.

When this movie came out back in the 90’s, I snagged a neat widescreen VHS copy in a clamshell case, which ironically has more special features than the Blu-ray or DVD releases! It’s weird and disappointing to me that the interviews from the VHS version are not available anymore, but whatever — when I found this disc at a cut-rate price I decided to make the leap from the tape to Blu.

The good: The 7.1 surround mix is really excellent. When Charlie Sheen first discovers an alien signal, it’s rotating around the room in a really cool way. There aren’t many discs out there in 7.1, but if you’ve got the equipment, here’s a good sci-fi movie to try out. The hi-def transfer also looked quite good.

The bad: Oh dear Lord, some of these mid-90’s movies have the worst CG effects. The Arrival has some of the worst I’ve seen in a movie of this stature.

Plot summary: Charlie Sheen is Zane Zaminski, an astronomer working for the JPL in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Mirroring the plot of the concurrently released (but much higher budgeted) Contact, Zaminski finds a “wow” signal and takes it to his boss, Phil Gordian (Ron Silver).  But there may be a conspiracy afoot — Gordian secretly destroys the tape, the only proof of the signal.  He has Zaminski fired, and attempts to destroy his credibility in the scientific community. Why?

The firing scene is especially enjoyable today, as Zane Zaminski has a paranoid public meltdown foreshadowing that of his tiger blood drinking, eternally winning, rock-star-wizard real-life counterpart.  It’s amusing from that point of view, but it’s also a really cool scene that Sheen and Silver both nail.

What follows is a series of mysteries, cover-ups and alien intrigue that links Zane to Ilana Green (Lindsay Crouse, Iceman) in Mexico. Dr. Green has found flowers growing in a small patch of grass in the frigid Arctic, and links it to a strange spike in CO2 emissions. But how is that happening, and to what ends?

Several exciting action sequences are to be enjoyed before Zane discovers what is really going on down in Mexico and why Gordian turned on him. It’s not a monumental earth-shattering revelation, nor is it a total surprise, but I won’t spoil it for you regardless.  The Arrival is a fun movie, and that’s all it’s really intended to be, so I’ll save the fun for you.

For the price I paid ($11), this disc was totally worthwhile regardless of the fact that it has zero special features. It’s a decent yarn, the sound is awesome, and it’s always nice to upgrade from VHS to hi-def.

3/5 stars

Blu-ray REVIEW: Machete Kills (2013)


“Oh my goodness.  That lady just shot blades out of her boobs.” – Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom

Directed by Robert Rodriguez

Machete Kills is the sequel to Robert Rodriguez’ Machete (2010), starring 69 year old cult hero Danny Trejo.  Minor spoiler alert:  It begins with an over the top preview trailer for the third Machete movie, guest starring “Justin Bieber” as “Bleep”.  (Guess what happens to “Bleep”!)*  Hold on to your hats.

For Machete Kills, I decided to co-review it with special guest, Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom.  I enjoy subjecting Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom to movies now and then.  Sometimes she likes them:  Paul (2011) was her favourite of my selections.  Jackass 3D (2010) was definitely her least favourite.

Machete Kills sort of has a plot:  The US military is selling weapons to the cartel.  Another mysterious faction with black Venom-like masks are also after the weapons.    The masked leader of this group gives Machete something terrible to avenge.  Then, the President of the United States of America (Carlos Estevez/Charlie Sheen) makes him offer he can’t refuse, and he is soon back in Mexico fighting a one-man war.  But he is not completely on his own, as undercover agent Miss San Antonio (Amber Heard) has plenty of gadgets that go boom.  His target: Marcos Mendez, the head of the cartel with a nuke aimed at Washington.

Add in a master of disguise after a $20M bounty, a Star Wars-obsessed evil genius, Sofía Vergara’s machine gun boobs, a madman with multiple personalities and a load of evil clones, and we’re in for a good time.

The story as such serves simply to introduce the complex of characters.  Machete is less a film and more a series of action sequences separated by dialogue explaining what’s happening.  As the movie goes on, many interested parties emerge (all played by big name actors or Rodriguez regulars).  There are so many back-stabs and switcheroos that we are well past incredulity and into outlandish.  Machete is a perfect mix of camp and violence.  Although the movie seems built to support the large cast, the actors in turn are all pros clearly having a good time.  I liked them all…all but Amber Heard.  Something about her, so wooden.

I made three minor observations. 1) It’s convenient that the bad guys only attack Machete one at a time.  2) It’s also a good thing for Machete that none of the generic bad guys can aim. 3) The female characters in the movie might want to put on some pants next time they go into combat.

As for my co-reviewer, Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom didn’t like when Machete’s girlfriend Sartana (Jessica Alba) gets shot in the head.  “She was a pretty girl,” she says.  “She shouldn’t have been shot.”  She also didn’t like seeing Marko Zaror getting sucked into helicopter blades by his intestines.  Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom had a few choice words for Lady Gaga, which she asked me to edit out so to avoid the wrath of her Little Monsters.  She did not enjoy the number of heads that got removed from their bodies (at least a dozen), but I did see her laugh at several points.  She largely enjoyed the cast, particularly Mel Gibson.  Upon seeing Carlos Estevez, she shrieked “He’s the President?  Oh my God!”  She did not enjoy the foul language, particularly when out of the mouths of the young female characters.

4/5 stars – LeBrain

A “solid” 3/5 stars – Mrs. LeBrain’s Mom  (“It was really kind of…strange.”)

* actors subject to change