Friday, August 30, 2013

Pop culture roundup: Wally Wood; DC Nation shorts; Shankar and Jones; monster cereals!

The Golden Age shares a few Wally Wood-illustrated comics from the 1960s, including work on Flash Gordon.

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I don't have cable anymore, but it's nice to know I can watch all those nifty DC Comics animation shorts airing these days as part of the Cartoon Network's DC Nation program block right here.

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Here's a video of Anoushka Shankar's new single, "Traces of You," which pairs her with half-sister, singer Norah Jones. Shankar and Jones are both daughters of the great Indian musician Ravi Shankar.





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Atomic Pulp reports the return of General Mills' 1970s "monster cereals" this October, just in time for Halloween. In past years, Count Chocula, Franken Berry and Boo Berry have all returned to supermarket shelves in the fall, but this year also will include the presence of two more cereals of the past: Yummy Mummy and Fruit Brute. I don't recall eating either, and probably shouldn't try them now at my advanced age. But maybe I'll get them for the kids and have a taste.

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Twits:




Fab Friday: Vintage Beatles pics







Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Super Deluxe" reissue of The Who's Tommy on the way

A "super deluxe" reissue of the Who's pioneering rock opera Tommy is out Nov. 11 in a variety of formats.

Here's the press release:

“TOMMY” BY THE WHO

SUPER DELUXE BOXSET and DELUXE EDITION

Remastered with 20 UNRELEASED DEMOS, A FULL UNRELEASED LIVE VERSION OF TOMMY and HI FIDELITY 5.1 MIX

Released November 11th 2013

August 28, 2013 – Tommy, The Who’s defining, breakthrough concept album – a full-blown rock opera about a deaf, dumb and blind boy that launched the band to international superstardom is to be released in Deluxe and Super Deluxe editions this Autumn.

Originally released in May 1969, The Who were at a career crossroads, known mainly as a singles band, but this project launched them as a serious ‘albums band’ and it has now sold over 20 million copies as well as regularly turning up in lists of the most influential albums of all time.

Coming after The Who Sell Out in 1967, it marked a complete change in style with Pete Townshend’s lengthy conceptual narrative bringing exciting new opportunities to rock music. Tommy was and remains to be an ambitious, complex and controversial work, which was initially banned by the BBC.

This new Deluxe and Super Deluxe version of the album comes with a wealth of previously unheard material in the form of 20 demos from Pete Townshend’s archive and also a full live performance of Tommy from 1969 taken from tapes that infamously Townshend asked the band’s sound engineer to burn!

18 of the previously unheard and thought to be long lost live tracks are taken from a live show at the Capital Theatre, Ottawa, Canada on October the 15th 1969. Three others, I’m Free, Tommy’s Holiday Camp and We’re Not Gonna Take It were lost due to tape reels being changed during the show  so are taken from later shows of the same era.

As discussed at length in Pete Townshend’s autobiography the tapes were all supposed to be destroyed but were kept by long time Who sound man Bob Pridden despite Pete’s instructions.

The Super Deluxe box also features a 5.1 mix featuring the complete album remixed in surround sound on new Hi Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray format

As well as the music the limited edition Super Deluxe boxset comes with a hardback 80-page full-colour book featuring rare period photos, memorabilia, a 20,000-word essay by legendary Who aficionado Richard Barnes and a rare facsimile Tommy poster housed in a hard-back deluxe slip-case. 



TRACKLISTING AND FURTHER INFORMATION

Super-Deluxe Edition (UPC 006025 37473960)

Disc 1 – The original album (2013 re-master)
Digitally re-mastered in HD
Disc 2 – The demos and out-takes
Features 20 previously unreleased tracks from Pete Townshend’s demo archive.

Disc 3 – The 5.1 album mix – Hi Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray
The complete album remixed in surround sound on new Hi Fidelity Pure Audio Blu-ray format

Disc 4 – The live ‘bootleg’ album
Features 21 previously-unreleased tracks from various live shows from 1969 

Hardback 80-page full-colour book featuring rare period photos and memorabilia 

20,000-word essay by legendary Who aficionado Richard Barnes

Rare facsimile Tommy poster

Limited edition, housed in a hard-back deluxe slip-case  



Tracklisting:
Disc 1 The original album (2013 re-master)

1.     Overture                                                          5.20
2.     It’s A Boy                                                         0.38
3.     1921                                                                2.49
4.     Amazing Journey                                            5.04
5.     Sparks                                                             2.05
6.     The Hawker (Eyesight To The Blind)              2.13
7.     Christmas                                                        4.34
8.     Cousin Kevin                                                   4.05
9.     The Acid Queen                                              3.34
10.  Underture                                                        10.01
11.  Do You Think It’s Alright?                               0.24
12.  Fiddle About                                                    1.29
13.  Pinball Wizard                                                 3.01
14.  There’s A Doctor                                             0.23
15.  Go To The Mirror!                                           3.47   
16.  Tommy Can You Hear Me?                            1.35
17.  Smash The Mirror                                           1.34
18.  Sensation                                                        2.25
19.  Miracle Cure                                                    0.12
20.  Sally Simpson                                                 4.10
21.  I’m Free                                                           2.39
22.  Welcome                                                         4.32
23.  Tommy’s Holiday Camp                                  0.57
24.  We’re Not Gonna Take It                                7.06

Disc 2 Demos & extras
1.     Overture                                                         4:07
2.     It’s A Boy                                                        0:41
3.     1921                                                               3:13
4.     Amazing Journey                                           4:47
5.     Dream One                                                    3:09
6.     Sparks                                                            7:38
7.     The Hawker                                                    4:45
8.     Christmas                                                       4:42
9.     Acid Queen                                                    3:35
10.  Underture   (Dream Two)                               1:47
11.  Do You Think It’s Alright                                 0:26
12.  Pinball Wizard                                                3:42
13.  There’s A Doctor                                            0:24
14.  Go To The Mirror!                                          4:32
15.  Success                                                         0:10
16.  Tommy Can You Hear Me                             1:15
17.  Smash The Mirror                                          1:37
18.  Sensation                                                       2:47
19.  Miracle Cure                                                   0:11
20.  Sally Simpson                                                4:50
21.  I’m Free                                                          2:27
22.  Welcome                                                        3:26
23.  We’re Not Gonna Take It                               5:02
24.  Trying To Get Through                                   2:27
25.  Young Man Blues                                           2:47

Tracks 1 – 23 - Pete Townshend – original demos.
All previously unreleased except 2, 11 and 12 – released in 2003
Track 24 – The Who – studio demo/out-take.
Track 25 – The Who – studio recording (NOTE: This version was previously only available on ‘The House That Track Built’ vinyl sampler).

Disc 3 Hi Fidelity Pure Audio -Blu-ray disc (5.1 mixes)
  1. Overture                                                          5.20
  2. It’s a boy                                                          0.37
  3. 1921                                                                2.49
  4. Amazing journey                                             5.05
  5. Sparks                                                             2.05
  6. The Hawker                                                     2.14
  7. Christmas                                                        4.34
  8. Cousin Kevin                                                   4.07
  9. The acid queen                                               3.34
  10. Underture                                                        10.05
  11. Do you think it’s alright?                                  0.25
  12. Fiddle about                                                    1.31
  13. Pinball wizard                                                  3.01
  14. There’s a doctor                                              0.24
  15. Go to the mirror!                                              3.48  
  16. Tommy can you hear me?                              1.35
  17. Smash the mirror                                            1.33
  18. Sensation                                                        2.27
  19. Miracle cure                                                    0.12
  20. Sally Simpson                                                 4.11
  21. I’m Free                                                           2.39
  22. Welcome                                                         4.32
  23. Tommy’s holiday camp                                   0.57
  24. We’re not gonna take it                                   7.06
Disc 4 Live Bootleg 

1.     Overture (including Introduction)                    7.00 
2.     It’s A Boy                                                        0.39
3.     1921                                                               2.28
4.     Amazing Journey                                           5.07
5.     Sparks                                                            2.49
6.     The Hawker (Eyesight To The Blind)1.54
7.     Christmas                                                       3.11
8.     The Acid Queen                                             3.30
9.     Pinball Wizard                                                2.47
10.  Do You Think It’s Alright?                               0.21
11.  Fiddle About                                                   1.12
12.  Tommy Can You Hear Me?                           0.55
13.  There’s A Doctor                                            0.24
14.  Go To The Mirror!                                          3.22
15.  Smash The Mirror                                          1.10 
16.  Miracle Cure                                                   0.12
17.  Sally Simpson                                                4.01
18.  I’m Free                                                          2.12
19.  Tommy’s Holiday Camp                                 0.48
20.  We’re Not Gonna Take It                               3.28
21.  See Me, Feel Me / Listening To You              7.51

OTHER FORMATS OF THE WHO’s TOMMY DELUXE EDITION

Physical
2-CD deluxe, digi-pak
CD 1 Original album remastered
CD 2 Live Bootleg
     
1-CD remastered version
Original album (single disc)

Deluxe vinyl edition  
2-piece, heavyweight
Original LP configuration

UVINYL Website
Exclusive vinyl version of live ‘bootleg’ album

Hi Fidelity Pure Audio (Blu-ray)
‘Stand-alone’ original album mixed in 5.1

Digital Formats
Super-deluxe box set 
Tracks from SDE box, excluding 5.1 mixes
+ MFiT version (iTunes only)

Digital deluxe edition
‘Mirror’ of 2-CD physical
+ MFiT version (iTunes only)

Digital album (original album)
Mirror’ of 1-CD physical
+ MFiT version (iTunes only)

Hear the new Paul McCartney single




Video find: Inside Pop - The Rock Revolution

 Inside Pop -- The Rock Revolution is a CBS News special, broadcast in April 1967. The show was hosted by Leonard Bernstein and is probably one of the first examples of pop music being examined as a "serious" art form. The film features many scenes shot in Los Angeles in late 1966, including interviews with Frank Zappa and Graham Nash, as well as the now-legendary Brian Wilson solo performance of "Surf's Up."


Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Today's best picture ever: Sergio Aragones does needlepoint

From Life magazine 1971 (via Booksteve):




Review: Harry Nilsson - The RCA Records Collection

Harry Nilsson, or just plain "Nilsson" as he was often billed, is one of those musicians whose influence has grown deeper years after his initial success.

There have been tribute albums, a documentary and reissues padded out with lost tracks in the past, but Nilsson's cult credibility has now grown significantly enough to create a market for this: One of the largest box set collections ever dedicated to a solo pop artist.

If you think about it, Nilsson was one of the early singer-songwriters. He emerged in the late 1960s and had some of his biggest hits in the early 1970s, right around the time the likes of James Taylor, Jackson Browne, Carly Simon and Joni Mitchell started turning up.

Yet his music was richer, more diverse and poppier. And maybe that's why it's been discovered and rediscovered by a couple of succeeding generations of fans.

Containing 17 disks, the RCA Records Collection includes everything Nilsson recorded for the label, and nearly everything he recorded, period. You need only pickup Spotlight on Nilsson, recorded before he signed to RCA, and Flash Harry, his final LP issued post RCA, and you've pretty much got the whole works. If you need it. Which is a fair question even with just the RCA box.

Don't get me wrong, there's loads of good stuff in this box, which is a fairly basic package considering the amount of music it contains. Along with the CDs, which come nicely packed in replica LP covers, you get a thick, informative booklet, but that's it. No hardcover nothing, no stickers, no frills.

So, the focus in mainly music, which is just fine. Like most box sets, the best stuff comes early on.

Nilsson's first three albums -- Pandemonium Shadow Show, Aerial Ballet and Harry -- are all pretty much of a piece. They have a circus-y, baroque pop atmosphere, with lots of beautiful, swirling keyboard, string and horn arrangements by George Tipton. Nilsson's vocals are spectacular -- music and melodies just flowed from the man, who -- to my taste -- is one of American popular music's  best male singers, right up there with Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole.

Yet, Nilsson's wasn't just a solo voice. His recordings feature zillions of overdubs, so what you hear is him harmonizing with himself in a voice of tremendous range and freedom. He sounded a bit like a one-man Beach Boys. It's easy to see why John Lennon called Nilsson his favorite "group."

All three of these early albums are gems, featuring numerous classic Nilsson songs: "Without Her," "Cuddly Toy" (later recorded by the Monkees); the heartbreaking, autobiographical song of failed fatherhood "1941"; "Good Old Desk"; a cover of Fred Neil's "Everybody's Talkin','" which became Nilsson's first big hit when featured on the  "Midnight Cowboy" soundtrack; "One," a Nilsson original that became a huge hit for Three Dog Night," and "Simon Smith and His Amazing Dancing Bear," an early cover of a Randy Newman tune. There are also tremendous covers of three Beatles' tracks: "You Can't Do That," which includes references to several other Fab songs; "She's Leaving Home," and "Mother Nature's Son." Each of these early LPs is packed with extra tracks and rarities, and the first two are presented in both stereo and mono.

After this initial pop period, Nilsson ventured into new territory, with another succession of fine albums: Nilsson Sings Newman, an entire LP of tunes by Harry's then little-known friend, Randy; The Point, an original children's fable with songs and narration that later became a TV special seen by nearly every American kid in the 1970s, including me; and the odd but engaging "best of" package Aerial Pandemonium Ballet, which included different, altered and sometimes new versions of songs that appeared on Nilsson's first three LPs.

Then come the big 70s albums, which spawned a number of hit radio singles and made Nilsson a major star. Nilsson Schmilsson is the best of these, featuring the self-penned radio smash "Coconut" along with the enormo-hit cover version of Badfinger's "Without You." The album is a showcase for Nilsson's diverse vocal talents, ranging from mellow pop tunes to emotional ballads and the rocking "Jump into the Fire." This guy could sing pretty much anything.

Son of Schmilsson is appropriately named, as it's much in the same mold as its predecessor and includes a few more great tunes, including the tender, nostalgic "Remember (Christmas)" and the lovely "Turn on Your Radio."

A Little Touch of Schmilsson in the Night sees the singer moving away from original material to record a standards album, and it's a beauty. Accompanied by a full orchestra and arrangements by the great Gordon Jenkins, the recording demonstrates just how on par Nilsson is with those other great America singers mentioned above. In this expanded version, you not only get the singer's interpretations of "It Had to Be You," "Makin' Whoopee" and "As Time Goes By," but a further half dozen standards that only appeared at the time on a German EP titled A Touch More Schmilsson in the Night.

From here, unfortunately, things begin to go downhill. Pussycats, produced by John Lennon and featuring the former Beatle singing along on several tracks, is rated poorly by most fans of both men. But it's not completely terrible.

"Don't Forget Me," stands as one of Nilsson's best and most moving originals, and I like the energy on the Harry'n'John version of Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues." But other tracks, such as the dismal version of Jimmy Cliff's "Many Rivers to Cross" are negligible. Abusing both substances and his voice during this period, Nilsson sounds hoarse through most of the LP. Allegedly egged-on by Lennon to engage in "screaming contests," you start to hear Nilsson's beautiful voice start to fray. In fact, after this LP, it was never the same.

Neither was the songwriting. The rest of the LPs in this set all demonstrate a drastic lowering of quality and standards, as Nilsson sings uninspired covers of old rock'n'roll tunes and silly, dashed-off originals such as "Kojak Columbo" and "Jesus Christ, You're Tall" -- all in that hoarse, cracked shell of a once-great voice. You'd be hard-pressed to find even one tune on these final four RCA albums that hearkens back to the beauty of Nilsson's late 1960s and early 70s recordings. It's sad.

The rest of the set is taken up by three full CDs of rarities, demos and outtakes amazingly not featured on the expanded versions of each of the LPs. There are some good things here, though there's also a lot of surplus.

As a whole, the box is an embarrassment of riches and, um, embarrassments. If you get it, you'll have a whole lot of Nilsson, but also a whole lot of stuff you'll probably never listen to again. I don't see myself playing those final four LPs again any time soon. They're too depressing. Any music fan can, and should, hear all the Nilsson they need by buying the best LPs individually. But, for the curious and for completists, this set is a dream come true, despite its imperfections.


BBC Radio this week: British Invasion; Darkside drama; Sherlock Holmes; Vonnegut; Jekyll and Hyde, more!

Click the links to hear the following shows.

The British Invasion Three bands influenced rock legend Alice Cooper more than any other: The Yardbirds, The Kinks, and The Who. All of them British. In this documentary, Alice tells the story of how The Beatles' triumphant arrival in New York City on 7 February 1964, opened the doors to the British Invasion and changed American music forever.

Darkside Drama by Sir Tom Stoppard, celebrating the 40th anniversary of Pink Floyd's The Dark Side of the Moon.

The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes When a leading actor is murdered, the sleuth heads backstage in the world of theatre.

John Buchan: The 39 Steps Dramatisation of the adventure novel by John Buchan. With David Robb and Tom Baker. 

Kurt Vonnegut: Report on the Barnhouse Effect Kurt Vonnegut's tale of an academic who discovers how to control the forces of nature with his mind. Read by Stuart Milligan. 

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde  Tim Pigott-Smith reads the gothic tale of the monstrous Mr Hyde, who stalks the streets of London, filling the bourgeois society with terror

Flight of the Conchords Rob Brydon narrates an improvised comedy about a novelty band.

The Goon Show Classic material from one of the all-time radio comedy greats.

The Man in Black A creepy raconteur, played by Mark Gatiss, introduces spooky tales.

Stuart Maconie's Freak Zone Strange, surprising Sunday evenings, the perfect journey to the Freakier Zone.