Friday, August 27, 2010

Animated Mad TV series debuts Sept. 6

Somehow missed the news on this one:

The new cartoon series based on Mad Magazine, Mad debuts on the Cartoon Network on Monday September 6th at 8:30 pm (ET, PT). The usual gang of idiots takes their parody-heavy satire to TV with features like “Avaturds,” “CSICarly,” and “Toys4Brats,” plus such Mad Magazine staples as “Spy vs. Spy,” Alfred E. Neuman, and cartoons by Don Martin and Sergio Aragones brought to life.

Ray Davies recording with special guests

The Kinks leader apparently has a "duets"-type project in the works:

Earlier this year, Bruce Springsteen recorded a version of The Kinks' 'Better Things' with the songwriter, while Bon Jovi collaborated with Davies on 'Celluloid Heroes', reports RayDavies.info.

Other names set to be included on the album include Lucinda Williams and the late Alex Chilton from Big Star.

Picture: Walt Disney at It's a Small World opening

Vintage Mad card game illustrated by Jack Davis

Via Hairy Green Eyeball II:

Today in Alex Toth

Read a vintage romance tale illustrated by the comics great.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Beatles fans rally to save Ringo's home

A group of fans is working to save Ringo's childhood home at Liverpool's 9 Madryn Street.

"We are going to fight tooth and nail in Liverpool, and around the world, to call a halt to this crazy decision to demolish Madryn Street," Phil Coppell, one of the founding members of SMS told BBC News. "The homes of Paul McCartney and John Lennon are already preserved and Ringo is no less important."

Picture: Adam West as Batman

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Review: Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin

Brian Wilson's new album isn't an "old 60s star sings the standards" LP, but a true, creative, concept album. Brian does more than simply cover tunes, but brings his own, distinctive musical outlook to Gershwin's songs.

Wilson and Gershwin is a more natural combination than you might think.  Brian grew up loving "Rhapsody and Blue" and, via his love of the Four Freshman, included many jazz-like harmonies and chord changes into his Beach Boys hits. Really this is a case of one brilliant composer/arranger who knows the rules of music inside and out exploring the works of a fellow master.

The first of the Brian-finished tunes appears early on the album, following a brief vocals-only excerpt of "Rhapsody" (a bit like the "Our Prayer" opening of Smile). At first listen, it struck me as a little AOR, and modern Brian tunes can sometimes be that way. But it's a grower. It's a lovely melody and has nice lyrics. The more I hear it, the more I like it. This is a followed by a nice, jazz/bluesy medley of "Summertime" and "I Loves You Porgy" (the latter of which Wilson sings without changing the gender-orientation in the lyrics, which is kinda cool and brave).

Up next is a bouncy, delightful, instrumental take on "I Got Plenty O'Nuthin" that sounds like it's straight off Pet Sounds, complete with bass harmonicas and banjos. A relatively straight, bluesy take of "It Ain't Necessarily So" follows.  It's hard to think of a much "whiter" sounding band than the Beach Boys, but Brian has always had the capability to sound credible on rhythm-and-bluesy sounding material, and he sounds good here.

"S'Wonderful" is another trip into AOR territory, but pleasantly done in a bossa nova manner. The next tune, "They Can't Take That Away from Me" is another delight: Done to a "Help Me Rhonda" beat with great background vocals. This could've been a Beach Boys hit back in 1964-65. "Our Love is Here to Stay," a simple gem in the Gershwin catalog, follows and is given a pretty straightforward treatment -- not much different from the way Ella Fitzgerald performed it on her Gershwin albums (although I hear a little theremin in the background). "I've Got a Crush on You," is given a retro, 1950s malt shop arrangement that's cute. Maybe a little to kitschy, although I love the "wop, wop, aah" background vocals.

"I Got Rhythm" is another standout, opening with yet another little bit of "Rhapsody" followed by cool, low-register surf guitar riffs, soaring backup harmonies and a rocking beat. It sounds like another lost Beach Boys hit.

"Someone to Watch Over Me" is performed as a cousin to Wilson's tender "Caroline, No," with harpsichord, gentle background vocals and Pet Sounds-y percussion. Lovely.

"Nothing But Love," another Wilson-complete Gershwin tune is pretty up-temp and poppy. Nice stuff. It sounds much more Wilson, than Gershwin.

And then the whole thing wraps up with more of the vocals version of "Rhapsody," a neat pop-meets-standard done in a concise 41 minutes.

I can't think of another 1960s star doing music this enjoyable, this imaginative, at this point of his or her career. While Paul McCartney still turns out some fine albums and tunes, his albums are pretty inconsistent. Dylan is doing great work, but is still Dylan. There's not a lot of harmonic or melodic innovation going on. Brian still delivers the goods: Creative arrangements, beautiful vocal harmonies, unexpected material. His ultra-capable band helps considerably, I'm sure.

If you love the Beach Boys and Brian Wilson, you won't be disappointed.

One more note: iTunes has a bonus track available for download, a take of "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," which is a Ella Fitzgerald-Louis Armstrong-like take on the tune performed by Brian and, I presume, his longtime backup vocalist Taylor Mills. Fun stuff, but it wouldn't have fit well on the album.

BBC Radio 4 documents Jimi Hendrix's last year

Listen here. Details:

When Jimi Hendrix returned to his native America as a star, the country he knew had changed. This programme, presented by Tom Robinson to tie in with the 40th anniversary of the guitarist's death, explores the pressure Jimi was under to make an explicit political declaration.

Tom explores Hendrix's 14 months in the Screaming Eagles 101 Airborne Division that saw him parachute a total of 26 times before he was invalided out with a broken ankle. Brother Leon Hendrix discusses his elder bother's time in the military, along with comments from author Charles Sharr Murray.

Singer and friend Eric Burdon explains how, after the riots in Grovesnor Square, Jimi trotted out the American government's party line on Vietnam - the so-called "Domino Theory".

The Soft Machine supported Hendrix as they traveled across America and drummer Robert Wyatt recalls how Jimi responded to media questions about the war, and the emergence of the Black Power movement. Hendrix was receptive to the Black Panther Party and found the Seattle Chapter of the organization run by two former high school friends. Both Panthers, Aaron and Elmer Dixon talk about how receptive Hendrix was to the cause.

The programme culminates with Jimi's Woodstock Festival performance of 'The Star Spangled Banner', an eloquent (and wordless) statement against the Vietnam war. In retrospect, it can also be read as a swan song for the era of peace and love and for Hendrix himself, who died in his sleep the following year. Jimi Hendrix is more than a blues guitarist who got lucky in the 60s. He did the best he could to be his own man without openly taking sides, and we are still trying to get to know him 40 years after his death.

Picture: Batman TV show TV Times cover

Bob Dylan announces Bootleg Series 9

Out Oct. 18, The Bootleg Series Volume 9 - The Witmark Demos is a two-CD package that collects 47 tracks Dylan recorded for music publishers Leeds Music and M. Witmark & Sons between 1962 and 1964.

Here's the tracklist:

Disc 1

'Man On The Street (Fragment)'
'Hard Times In New York Town'
'Poor Boy Blues'
'Ballad For A Friend'
'Rambling, Gambling Willie'
'Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues'
'Standing On The Highway'
'Man On The Street'
'Blowin’ In The Wind'
'Long Ago, Far Away'
'A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall'
'Tomorrow Is A Long Time'
'The Death of Emmett Till'
'Let Me Die In My Footsteps'
'Ballad Of Hollis Brown'
'Quit Your Low Down Ways'
'Baby, I’m In The Mood For You'
'Bound To Lose, Bound To Win'
'All Over You'
'I’d Hate To Be You On That Dreadful Day'
'Long Time Gone'
'Talkin’ John Birch Paranoid Blues'
'Masters Of War'
'Oxford Town'
'Farewell'

Disc 2

'Don't Think Twice, It’s All Right'
'Walkin’ Down The Line'
'I Shall Be Free'
'Bob Dylan’s Blues'
'Bob Dylan’s Dream'
'Boots Of Spanish Leather'
'Walls of Red Wing'
'Girl From The North Country'
'Seven Curses'
'Hero Blues'
'Whatcha Gonna Do?'
'Gypsy Lou'
'Ain’t Gonna Grieve'
'John Brown'
'Only A Hobo'
'When The Ship Comes In'
'The Times They Are A-Changin''
'Paths Of Victory'
'Guess I’m Doing Fine'
'Baby Let Me Follow You Down'
'Mama, You Been On My Mind'
'Mr. Tambourine Man'
'I’ll Keep It With Mine'

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Brady Bunch meets Wonder Woman

Via Comics Alliance:

BBC airs Rolling Stones radio documentary

You can stream episodes here.

Ricky Gervais sends Kal Pilkington abroad

This trailer is only so-so funny, but I know from the podcast series he did with Gervais a few years back that Pilkington is absolutely hilarious. I suppose this will air in the U.S. sometime, somewhere.

Part of Sergio Aragones to appear on Futurama

Via Mark Evanier, famed Mad cartoonist Sergio Aragones will appear in animated, disembodied form on an upcoming episode of "Futurama."

Mojo mag premieres vinyl edition

Great Britain's Mojo, the best music magazine on the racks, generally comes with a free CD plastered to its cover. But the upcoming issue will offer readers a choice between CD or vinyl. The album, in both formats, is a reconstruction of the Beatles' Let it Be album featuring performances by Beth Orton, Phosphorescent, Judy Collins, Wilko Johnson, Pete Molinari, The Amorphous Androgynous, The Besnard Lakes, John Grant, The Jim Jones Revue and more. The mag features a new interview with Paul McCartney talking about that period of the Beatles' career. You can order the vinyl edition here.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Discounted DVD new releases Aug. 24, 2010: Lost, Simpsons, Time Bandits, Flights of the Conchords, Patty Duke Show

Click the pics to order discounted DVDs from Amazon:

Lost: The Complete Sixth and Final SeasonLost: The Complete CollectionThe Simpsons: The 13th SeasonTime Bandits [Blu-ray]Flight of the Conchords: The Complete First SeasonThe Patty Duke Show: Season Three

Discounted CD new releases Aug. 24, 2010: Eels, Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, Bruce Springsteen, Dale Watson, Disney Villains

Click the pics to order discounted CDs from Amazon:

Tomorrow MorningHawkCollection 1973-1984Carryin' OnDisney Villains: Simply Sinister Songs

Upcoming book collects classic Christmas comics

Coming from IDW Publishing in November:

THE GREAT TREASURY OF CHRISTMAS COMIC BOOK STORIES

Written and art by Walt Kelly, John Stanley, Dan Noon, and more.

These wonderful Christmas comics from the Golden Age of Comics will warm the hearts of children of all ages. Top cartoonists like Walt "Pogo" Kelly, John "Little Lulu" Stanley, Dan Noonan, and many more penned the funny, heartwarming comics in this beautiful collection. You'll meet elves, reindeer, talking snowmen and funny animals -- and, of course, Santa Claus himself -- in terrific stories that will provide a sense of wonder for kids, Moms, Dads, Uncles, and Aunts.

176 pages, $34.99.

DC publishes Katrina graphic novel: Dark Rain

Some details:

Written by Mat Johnson and drawn by Simon Gane, Dark Rain tells a story of opportunists trying to exploit the plight of New Orleans in the days after the hurricane. At times it's alternately funny and moving, but it's always focused on a very sharp but simple story.
It tells the tale of a man desperate for money who wants to rob a bank in the chaos of the flood and enlists the help of a reluctant ex-con who could use the money to help with his child support. Things go from bad to worse when they realize they're racing against an evil Blackwater type outfit of mercenaries to the bank. Very reminiscent of a Third Man type story set in New Orleans, this is a book very much worth checking out.

Picture: Batman TV show TV Times cover