oldies

REVIEW: The Buddy Holly Story – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1978)

THE BUDDY HOLLY STORY – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack (1978 Epic)

The Buddy Holly Story was a remarkable movie, not because it was terribly accurate (it wasn’t).  Some of the best music biopics, like The Buddy Holly Story, feature the movie cast doing the singing and playing.  In a rare stroke of fortune, Gary Busey was cast as the perfect Buddy Holly.  He could sing enough like the rock and roll legend, and with some curly hair and glasses, Busey fit the bill.

The “Clear Lake Medley” is made up of Buddy’s greatest hits like “Peggy Sue”, “That’ll Be the Day”, “Oh Boy”, “Maybe Baby”, and “Not Fade Away”.  They’re amped-up, made to sound like the live concert experience.  Busey’s more manic in this setting than the old familiar studio versions.

The most interesting track, possibly, is the a-Capella “I’m Gonna Love You Too”, with just Gary Busey’s voice.  You can’t fake it in that setting.  The guy managed to sound enough like Buddy Holly through this whole soundtrack that you often drift away and forget that’s what it is.  The suspension of disbelief is complete.

All this and you’ll get a collection of some pretty amazing songs too.  You’ll know most of ’em, including “Everyday” and “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On”.  As seen in the film, “Everyday” is a slow, ballady version.  That is certainly compensated for by the “Roller Rink Medley”, another adrenaline-pumped live set.

Truly a great soundtrack and a worthy addition for Buddy Holly fans.

4.5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Buddy Holly – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of

Happy birthday David. You were a fan, this is for you.

BUDDY_0001BUDDY HOLLY – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of Buddy Holly (1999 MCA)

Normally I rank all of these 20th Century Masters CDs as 2 stars across the board. That’s mainly because I am a believer in buying the albums, not the greatest hits.  With an artist like Buddy Holly, it’s much less about albums and more about his singles.  For Buddy I prefer compilations.  20th Century Masters are budget priced, limited to 10-12 songs, and brief running times.  In this case I think it’s worth spending money on.

This one is pretty near-perfect for a quick starter set. Every song is amazing, not a weak one in the bunch. From “Not Fade Away” to “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, and of course the classic “Everyday”, this is a CD to listen to start-to-finish with nothing to skip.  “Words of Love” is still a masterpiece, using the then-new technique of double tracking the lead vocal.  It still sounds full, deep and perfect.

Meanwhile, “Oh, Boy!” is full of joie de vivre, Buddy leading the charge gleefully.  “Rave On” is very much in the same mold, completely memorable and toe-tapping.  “Think It Over”, by Buddy and the Crickets is an old fashioned rock and roll song with a nice big grand piano, completely fun.  The CD closes with “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore”, a Paul Anka song featuring Buddy backed by orchestra and acoustic guitar.  It’s just one of the greatest songs ever written, period.

There are better and more complete compilations out there, but not at the price that this series sells for. Buy this first, check out some Buddy Holly, and once you’ve digested these songs, move onto the bigger picture. I think new music is more easily digested in small packages and this is the best way to go if you are new to Buddy Holly.

5/5 stars all the way, I still listen to this all the time.

WTF Search Terms: Rock and Roll edition

ELVIS UH

WTF Search Terms VI:  Rock and Roll edition

Welcome back to WTF!  Click here if you missed the last one.  This edition collects some musical Google searches that somehow led people here to this blog.  Enjoy these head-scratchers and WTFs!

This first guy’s obviously an idiot.

10.  steve morse sucks

9. is paul stanley loosoing his voice?

8.  i wouldl like to hear mob rules (why, how polite!)

7. life+it+up+kiss

6.   black sabbath paranoid deluxe edition where is the 3 disc (right there.)

Photo0610

5.  phrase from what tv show – it’s the final countdown!! (Arrested Development.)

4. puff daddy’s embarring habit

3. new kids on the block poster greatest hits

2. real elvis videos tumblr hornny holes

And this week’s winner:

1. marilyn manson with butt plug

Like the WTF’s?  Then come back soon, or better yet, subscribe!

MOVIE REVIEW: The Ultimate Cut: Watchmen – The Complete Story (blu-ray)

Hot on the heels of my Man of Steel review, here’s…the Watchmen.

WATCHMEN : The Ultimate Cut – The Complete Story (2009 Warner 4 disc blu-ray set)

Directed by Zack Snyder, 216 minutes 

What’s the greatest comic book movie of all time?  I’ve seen a lot of them. There’s quite a few I haven’t seen as well, but it’s a great topic for discussion.  I always have to put Watchmen on the table when discussing great comic book adaptations.

Watchmen is a complex tale.  Its original comic was ambitious, containing page after page of dense backstory information in the form of documents and faux-magazine articles, all very relevant.  There’s even a parallel story taking place, a comic within a comic, which directly reflects one (or arguably more) of the characters in the main story.  Characters and their psychology are key.  In addition, neither the comic nor the movie are linear.  The story unfolds within different time periods, flashing back and forth, as we learn more about the characters, their motivations, and the world they inhabit.

It is the world they inhabit that was the hook for me.  I’m a sucker for alternate universe stories.  Here’s one that sets us on Earth, 1985, but things have unfolded very differently.  The influence of various superheroes/vigilantes has caused history to unfold very differently.  Specifically, it is the presence of Dr. Manhattan, who puts a swift and decisive end to the Vietnam war, who influences history the most.  In this 1985, Richard Nixon is still president, and masked vigilantes are now outlawed.

The Watchmen are a group of such vigilantes, originally known as the Minutemen.  Some, such as Dr. Manhattan truly are superhuman.  Others, such as Nite Owl and his successor Nite Owl II, are mere mortals with high-tech gadgetry and skill as their allies.  All have retired, some in fame and some in anonymity…all but one.  Rorschach.  He remains active, alone and wanted.

The movie begins as a murder mystery.  Someone has managed to identify and kill Edward Blake — The Comedian, once one of the most dangerous heroes alive.  To overpower and murder Blake would require an individual of tremendous resources.  Who?  And are other former vigilantes also at risk?  Rorschach seems to be the only one who wants to know.

Being a fan of the graphic novel, I was very happy with the way that Zack Snyder captured Watchmen. It was done with love and care. The things that are discarded, I didn’t miss so much. The things that he changed, I understand why it was done.  There’s one layer to the story/mystery that has been discarded, probably to keep this thing under 4 hours!  The things that are reverently exactly the same as the comic made my jaw drop in awe.  The acting performances are what they are, but I have to give special mention to Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach.

WATCHMEN_0006The soundtrack is one of the best in recent memory. Outside of Wes Anderson, I haven’t loved a soundtrack this much in a long time.  It’s awesome from the stunning Bob Dylan classic “The Times They Are A’Changing”, to Nat King Cole, to Simon and Garfunkel, Hendrix and Philip Glass, and probably the weirdest use of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” in movie history.  The soundtrack is where it’s at.  The movie even contains a Village People sighting!  I’ll skip My Chemical Romance.

This Ultimate Cut weaves the comic-within-a-comic, Tales Of The Black Freighter, previously only available on its own, into the main body of Watchmen. These segments are narrated by Gerard Butler.  New live action linking sequences connect the movie to Black Freighter, much like it worked in the graphic novel. People who haven’t read the graphic novel might not understand what “Black Freighter” is doing there, but they should probably start with the less daunting theatrical cut to start with anyway.

WATCHMEN_0003The box set includes four discs, beautifully packaged. Hardly a complaint to be registered. The box is heavy and sturdy. Included is Watchmen: The Motion Comic, packed in its own case, 5 hours long on its own. One disc is the expired digital copy of the theatrical cut (whoop de do) and another disc is loaded with special features. Best of these is Under The Hood, which is based on the graphic novel segments covering Holis Mason.  Mason, the original Nite Owl I, wrote an autobiography called Under the Hood; this film is a faux-documentary on his story. It is presented as a television program from 1975 re-run in 1985, including commercials and scratchy footage. At 35 minutes, this is an absolute must. Other special features include brand new audio commentaries, for those who dare to keep going deeper. This set is just loaded.  Unfortunately I found the sound level inconsistent, I had to turn it up and down frequently.

Having said that, I’m not going to discard my Director’s Cut of Watchmen. Clocking in at almost four hours, watching this version is a commitment. I know that occasionally, I will want to watch the “shorter” version of the film. Since a digital copy of the theatrical (shortest) cut is included here, maybe you won’t feel the need to double-up on Watchmen editions.  For an enriched viewing experience, set aside the four hours one afternoon and enjoy.

4/5 stars

Malin Akerman … Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II

Billy Crudup … Dr. Manhattan / Jon Osterman

Matthew Goode … Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias

Jackie Earle Haley … Rorschach

Jeffrey Dean Morgan … Edward Blake / Comedian

Patrick Wilson … Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl

Carla Gugino … Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre

Matt Frewer … Moloch

REVIEW: Styx – Kilroy Was Here (1983)

“I am the modren man…”

STYX FRONT

STYX – Kilroy Was Here (1983 A&M Records)

I was just 11 years old when I first heard of Kilroy.

Allan Runstedtler at school had it first.  He was always talking about it…this cool song called “Mr. Roboto”.  This album where the songs all told a story.  It had robots in it, it was an album with pictures and a story…not unlike those Star Wars story soundtracks we used to listen to.  In hindsight it seems obvious that Kilroy Was Here was my gateway drug to rock music.

I went over to Allan’s house, with my little Fisher-Price mono tape deck, as he put Kilroy Was Here on the hi-fi.  I hit “record” and we all quietly left the living room…so as to not disturb the open air recording.  Only once did we step downstairs, but this was only to flip sides on the LP and cassette.

You can see why it was so appealing.  The robots didn’t look that dissimilar from the childhood classic film The Black Hole, plus there were robot vocals on the song, but it wasn’t guitar heavy or threatening.  It was catchy though, “Mr. Roboto” being the song that hooked us in.  We had the lyrics completely memorized (the handy lyric sheet was a revelation to us) and could sing any part of the song by heart.

With the benefit of hindsight, “Mr. Roboto” todays sounds quaint, a harmless boppy synth radio hit nothing like the Styx that emerged onto the scene over a decade earlier.  Dennis DeYoung’s vocals are all spellbinding as ever, the man as identifiable on this as he was on “Lady”.  Where’s the guitars from Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young?  I’m really not sure.  There are a few things here and there, fuzzy buzzy melodies that might well be guitars.  Only once in a while in the course of a 5-minute-plus song can you really hear any sort of instrument that wasn’t programmed or played with keys!

Tommy’s “Cold War” was another upbeat one we liked as kids, and yes you can hear some guitar in the intro and chorus.  There’s even a solo!  Otherwise, it’s just a dreadful synth pop piece, with loads of those annoying synth-claps and other assorted sounds that are supposed to sound like percussion.  Tommy plays a character named Jonathan Chance on this album, and “Cold War” reads like a manifesto from that character.

STYX INNER

The album came with a story, so it was quite easy to break it down and figure out what was happening.  It’s a dystopian tale, and the setting is…”the future”. Dr. Righteous (James Young) has risen to power, using a clever manipulation of media and government.  Rock N’ Roll music…is banned!  Robert Kilroy (DeYoung), a legendary rock musician, is jailed for a murder he did not commit.  But Jonathan Chance (Shaw), a young rebel hoping to bring back Rock N’ Roll, is using Kilroy’s image and music as a rallying cry for his cause.  One night Kilroy escapes prison, and disguises himself as a “Roboto”, the labor robots pervasive in this future world.

Got all that?

Drummer John Panozzo is credited as a character named “Col. Hyde”, and bassist Chuck Panozzo as “Lt. Vanish”.  I have no idea who those people are supposed to be.  There was a minifilm that went with the album and tour, and opened the live shows.  It’s incredibly funny and campy, the Styx version of the Star Wars Holiday Special.

“Don’t Let It End”, a DeYoung ballad is a song we always skipped as kids.  I played the ballads maybe once the whole time I owned the album!  But it’s actually a pretty good tune, and you can see why it was a hit.  This is followed by “High Time” with DeYoung, introducing the character of Dr. Righteous:

“I flip the switch on my laser video,
And there’s the man staring back at me,
He starts to speak in a voice so righteous,
About the sins of society”

It’s a fun song, upbeat, very showtune-y, with DeYoung having a chance to cut loose a bit.  It’s alright, and it sounds like the horn section are real horns, not some synth.

JY gets to be the one to bring the rock on “Heavy Metal Poisoning”.  In this song, Dr. Righteous takes to the airwaves with the ironically hardest rocking song on the album.

What the Devil’s going on?
Why don’t you turn that music down,
You’re going deaf and that’s for sure,
But all you do is scream for more!

We were always amused by Dr. Righteous using heavy metal music as his musical vehicle to attack heavy metal music, and wondered if there was a hidden message there?  Something about hypocrisy.  Righteous complains that rock and roll will lead to sex and drugs, while punishing his guitar with some seriously heavy riffing and a smoking solo.  Unfortunately, some goofy keyboard bits detract from the song and keep it from being a pure heavy rocker.

“Just Get Through This Night” is a ballad we skipped as kids, but in retrospect this is a great dramatic ballad.  Tommy wrote this one, a long, atmospheric meandering 6 minute piece that would have been too long to hold our kiddie attention span anyway.   Even though it didn’t do anything for us as kids, it stands as one of the bright spots on an album that so often just gets too goofy.  Tommy’s guitar solo, recorded backwards, is a highlight on this song.

Our second-favourite song was next: “Double Life” written and sung by JY.  It’s certainly one of the highlights on the album, a menacing, dark stomp with the synths this time supporting rather than fighting the song.  No idea how this fits into the story, but who cares!

Tommy’s final ballad, “Haven’t We Been Here Before” is kinda skip-worthy, although it’s nice when Dennis accompanies him on the chorus.  There’s also a nice harmony guitar solo, but loaded down with effects, blunting its edge.  Fortunately, the album ends with “Don’t Let It End (reprise)” which is actually a reprise of “Mr. Roboto”, but with Tommy singing and more guitars.  The album ends on a bright note, as Jonathan Chance seemingly takes the mantel of rock leadership from Kilroy, vowing to keep Rock N’ Roll alive!  Then Dennis comes in, doing his old rocker schtick, sending up Elvis, Little Richard and many more, and that’s the album.  Great finish.

I think if we were to discuss this album in 1983, I would have raved and rated it 4/5 stars.  I also probably would have overused the words “awesome” and “cool-a-mundo”.  That was 30 years ago…man.  That’s a long, long time.  Listening to it now…

2/5 stars

Part 15: Dating a Radio Station Girl

RECORD STORE TALES Part 15:  Dating a Radio Station Girl

You would think a Record Store Dude and a Radio Station Girl would make beautiful music together.  (Sorry I couldn’t resist saying that…I promise I’ll never do it again.)

When I first starting dating Radio Station Girl in 2003, I was really excited.  She seemed pretty cool and she worked at a radio station, so how awesome was that?  We had the music career thing happening.

Disappointingly, she turned out to be so un-musical, it was crushing.  She worked at 1240 CJCS in Stratford Ontario.  They were in what she called the “oldies” format.  She also enjoyed cheesy stuff like Barenaked Ladies.

Our first date was the Kelsey’s on the main street of Stratford.  She was moonlighting at Blockbuster video, so I picked her up there and we went to Kelsey’s.  It was February and it was snowing but we were having a great time talking about our respective careers, food, and movies.

Then the Beatles came on.  I can’t remember which song.  Either way it seemed like a good topic of conversation.  George Harrison’s death was still fresh in my memory, as he was my favourite one.

“Elli, who’s your favourite Beatle?” I queried.

“I don’t know.  I can’t name any of them.”

Say what?  Whathefuck??

She worked at a radio station, and couldn’t name a Beatle?

John Lennon maybe?  Ring any bells?

I really should have known.  Honest.  But is bad musical taste enough to not date someone?  If it is, it’s a crime I’ve commited on numerous occassions.  I dated girls who listened to crap dance music, and no fewer than three who have seen New Kids on the Block live.  That I know of.  That is, there were three who admit it. 

I married one of them, but let’s not get into that now!  I love my wife dearly, in spite of and sometimes because of her flaws.

Anyway, the musical sins continued.  She made me download a whole bunch of crappy songs and burn them for her, because in Stratford in 2003, all they had was dial-up.  It was truly awful, like not even kidding awful.

We broke up three times total.  That is, she dumped me three times.

The first time we got back together, she emailed me saying she just finished eating a tub of Hagan Daas.  This guy I worked with says, “That means she wants you back, dude.”  She did, and we got back together.  I made her a mix CD with “Disturbing the Priest” by Black Sabbath on there.  Just a little surprise, you know?  Like a middle finger for dumping me in the first place and then eating a tub of ice cream and changing her mind.

The second time we broke up, I think she probably just got back together with me so she had a date to this one CJCS radio station charity event appearance.   That was actually cool, I got to throw a pie at her face.  Afterwards, I forced her to listen to Thick as a Brick in the car as sort of a retribution.  She had never heard Jethro Tull before in her life.  She didn’t get it.

There would be no third reconciliation.  She made up a bullshit story about moving to Vancouver, and I never saw her again.  The nice thing about that is that I’d never have to hear Moxy Fruvous, Puddle of Mudd, or fucking Gilbert O’Sullivan ever again.

Coda:

What followed this was actually one of the top five worst weeks of my life.  I was house and dog sitting for my parents, when I suddenly got a throat infection.  So I got dumped by this girl, I can’t swallow anymore, I’m taking care of two houses and two stubborn dog, that’s enough to handle already.  Schnauzers, you know how they are.  Well this one particular bad schnauzer is named Ani.  Ani pooped herself and got all the poop matted in her butt fur.  It was stuck in there so bad that I had to cut it out with a scissors, and then bathe her, all just minutes before I had to leave for work.  And then, just when I thought that the week was over and things would get back to normal soon, I busted my glasses.  I was scraping the ice off my windshield, and I slipped.  I somehow got caught onto the antenna which sprung loose and thwacked me right in the face.  My glasses, minus one lens, was down in the snow.  A fucking brilliant week.