Friday, March 08, 2013

Video find: The Small Faces peform Ogden's Nut Gone Flake on Colour Me Pop

New and upcoming pop culture books

Click the links to order discounted books from Amazon.

The  Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey Chronicles II: Creatures and Characters

David Bowie Is

Star Wars Storyboards: The Prequel Trilogy

The Art of Vampirella: The Warren Years HC

Superman: The Unauthorized Biography

1963: That Was the Year That Was

The Art of Steve Ditko

Genius, Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth

Frank R. Paul Art Book

Punk Press: Rebel Rock in the Underground Press, 1968-1980

British Stuff

I'm One: 21st-Century Mods

Pop culture roundup

Paul McCartney is issuing a limited-edition 12-inch vinyl single on Record Store Day, April 20.
The record serves as a teaser for a full-fledged reissue of Macca's 1976 triple-LP live set, Wings Over America, expected later this year.
It wasn’t issued as a single until 1976 when the live cut reached number 10 in the Billboard Hot 100. This Record Store Day twelve-inch replicates a promo-only version issued to radio at the time and includes short and long versions of the track in both mono and stereo mixes.

Sad news from Fantagraphics editor Kim Thompson:
 I'm sure that by now a number of people in the comics field who deal with me on a regular or semi-regular basis have noticed that I've been responding more spottily. This is because of ongoing health issues for the past month, which earlier this week resolved themselves in a diagnosis of lung cancer.

This is still very early in the diagnosis, so I have no way of knowing the severity of my condition. I'm relatively young and (otherwise) in good health, and my hospital is top-flight, so I'm hopeful and confident that we will soon have the specifics narrowed down, set me up with a course of treatment, proceed, and lick this thing.

It is quite possible that as treatment gets underway I'll be able to come back in and pick up some aspects of my job, maybe even quite soon. However, in the interests of keeping things rolling as smoothly as I can, I've transferred all my ongoing projects onto other members of the Fantagraphics team. So if you're expecting something from me, contact Gary Groth, Eric Reyolds, or Jason Miles and they can hook you up with whoever you need. If there are things that only I know and can deal with, lay it out for them and they'll contact me.

Kirby Dynamics spotlights some of the King's intense work on Captain America back in the 1970s. That's the era when I first discovered Kirby's art.


I remember 1976. Probably because I wasn't hanging out with Paul and Linda McCartney and David Gilmour at the time.(via Dangrous Minds).


Via Hooray for Wally Wood, an incredible piece by Marie Severin caricaturing the EC Comics gang.


The New York Times checks out the latest posthumous Jimi Hendrix LP, People, Hell & Angels, which does sound like a good one. I listened to NPR's online preview last week.
Versions of most of these songs, with the exception of the collaboration with Mr. Youngblood, have appeared on other Hendrix compilations. But Mr. McDermott and Mr. Kramer said that these versions are definitive and raw, giving hints of the direction Hendrix might have taken had he not died young.
Some tracks, like “Somewhere” and “Crash Landing,” have been stripped of overdubbed parts recorded later by other musicians in the mid-1970s. Other songs are variations on well-known numbers in the Hendrix live repertory. The rendition of Elmore James’s “Bleeding Heart” abandons the walking bass line of most versions for a syncopated drum-and-bass groove. It was one of several tracks that suggest that Hendrix was moving away from psychedelia toward funk and R&B.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Hear the new She and Him single

Video find: Herbie Hancock performs Chameleon 1975


Pop stuff: What I'm reading, hearing, watching, etc.

The Golden Age of DC Comics
This is a big, lovely book, and much easier to read -- and lift -- than the preposterously proportioned and priced tome it spun out of: The 750-page, nearly 20-pound "75 Years of DC Comics: The Art of Modern Mythmaking," published in 2010.

Still big at 400 pages, this one will look nice on your coffee table without crushing it. It also includes images not featured in the larger tome. Similar volumes, also born out the larger parent book, focusing on DC's Silver, Bronze and so-called "Dark" and "Modern" ages are set to follow later in the year.

So, what we have here is a big picture book, focusing on DC's Golden Age, and it's packed with lovingly reproduced images of covers, page art, original art, house ads, toys, movie posters, radio premiums, photos and all sorts of other familiar and rare pictures that conjure up that era .

It's nice to look at, no question. And maybe that's enough. But I did feel, for all its pages, the book skimps on historical perspective.

The introductory essay by comics writer and former DC publisher Paul Levitiz is cursory and dry. It drops the names of key creators, but doesn't really detail what made them special. It also doesn't deal with any of the contentious aspects of DC's history, either.

No doubt, Levitz' hands were tied: In order to use all these images, he couldn't risk upsetting DC's management or attorneys. But, as a result, the book's version of history seems a little whitewashed.

For example, DC's treatment of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster is covered in a brief paragraph in which Levitz describes the ongoing  lawsuits over compensation and ownership of the character "unfortunate."

And sections focusing on Jack Cole's "Plastic Man," Will Eisner's "The Spirit," and the early Mad Magazine are included without explaining that DC didn't publish or own those properties during the Golden Age, and only now owns the rights to them.

Similarly, a section on Captain Marvel barely mentions that DC sued the character out of existence back in the early 50s because the company perceived him as too similar too (and, in reality, more popular than) Superman.

For the real nitty gritty on these years, you'll need to go to other books and back issues of Alter Ego magazine. But if you want to spend an afternoon steeped in the sights and ephemera of comics' Golden Age, this book will take you there. Several old pictures depicting news stands and spinner racks of the 1940s, all packed with now impossibly rare comics, are especially tantalizing.


Regions of Light and Sound of God by Jim James
This first full solo album by My Morning Jacket's lead singer (he did a tribute EP of George Harrison tunes a few years back) touches on various aspects of spirituality and is filled with a yearning for a life that's deeper, more satisfying and lasting than our ordinary day-to-day existence.

The tone is more searching than strident, starting off with "State of the Art (A.E.I.O.U.)," which examines the impact of technology on our daily lives. Do our computers and smart phones help us or distract us from what's really important? "We got our wires all crossed / The tubes are all tied / And I'm straining to remember / just what it means to be alive," James sings.

The song, like several others on the album, draws on elements of 1970s R&B and disco, updating them for the 21st century with experimental/electronic touches that will be familiar to MMJ fans. Arrangements on the album range from full strings and backup vocals to very spare, almost demo-like takes.

While the spiritual content summons up memories of Beatle George, James vocals here frequently remind me of John Lennon's early solo work, particularly the way he draws out his phrases on "Of the Mother Again" and "Actress."

It's good to hear a musician exploring deeper themes in such a thoughtful way. Even the non-spiritually inclined are likely to appreciate James' observations of what it means to live meaningfully in a world that can be so distracting and unkind.