Friday, March 28, 2014

Video: Pirate station Radio Caroline hit the airwaves 50 years ago today!

Here's a BBC report about the UK's first "pirate" radio station. The pirates, which also included the popular Radio London, operated illegally offshore, providing hip competition to the more staid BBC, which played only limited amounts of pop music on the radio at the time.

Pop artifact: Batman Activity Box!

Today's best picture ever: Walt Disney

Fab Friday: The Beatles meet Cassius Clay!

Pop Culture Roundup: Stan Lee in Playboy! John Byrne's Fantastic Four! Veronica Mars book!

Turn out you can read it for the articles. Playboy interviews Stan Lee and asks a few tough questions.
“There was never a time when it just said ‘by Stan Lee.’  It was always ‘by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’ or ‘by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.’  I made sure their names were always as big as mine.  As far as what they were paid, I had nothing to do with that.  They were hired as freelance artists, and they worked as freelance artists.  At some point they apparently felt they should be getting more money.  Fine, it was up to them to talk to the publisher.  It had nothing to do with me.  I would have liked to have gotten more money too.  And twice, not once, I offered a job to Jack Kirby.  I said to him, ‘Jack, why don’t you work for Marvel with me?’  I was the art director at the time.  I said, ‘You be the art director.  I’ll just be the editor and head writer, and you’ll have that security.’ He wouldn’t do it.  He didn’t want a staff job.  With him, as with Ditko, I don’t see where they were unfairly treated.  Jack was a great guy and so is Steve.  I’m sorry anybody feels there’s any acrimony.  I loved them both.”

 Crivens! celebrates John Byrne's magnificent 1980s run on the Fantastic Four with a cover gallery.


First a new movie, then a new novel: The first Veronica Mars book is out in print and in an audio version voiced by VM star Kristen Bell. Check the sample below.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Elvis Costello and company working on "new" Basement Tapes featuring lost Dylan tunes

Sounds interesting:
Recording is nearly complete for Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes, an album project from Elvis Costello, Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops) Taylor Goldsmith (Dawes), Jim James (My Morning Jacket), Marcus Mumford (Mumford & Sons) and producer T Bone Burnett, who are in Capitol Studios together to create music for two-dozen recently discovered lyrics written by Bob Dylan in 1967 during the period that generated the recording of the legendary Basement Tapes.

The album will be released later this year by Electromagnetic Recordings/Harvest Records (Capitol Music Group), and will be accompanied by a Showtime documentary titled, Lost Songs: The Basement Tapes Continued, directed by Sam Jones (the Wilco documentary, I Am Trying To Break Your Heart). The film will present an exclusive and intimate look at the making of Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes set against the important and historical cultural backdrop of Bob Dylan’s original Basement Tapes.

Bob Dylan’s original Basement Tapes – recorded by Dylan in 1967 with musicians who would later achieve their own fame as The Band – have fascinated and enticed successive generations of musicians, fans and cultural critics for nearly five decades. This collective recorded more than a hundred songs in the basement of a small house in upstate New York that summer and fall, including dozens of newly-written Bob Dylan future classics such as, “I Shall Be Released,” “The Mighty Quinn,” “This Wheel’s On Fire,” “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and “Tears Of Rage.”

Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes celebrates the discovery of new Bob Dylan lyrics from that noted 1967 period and marks a unique creative opportunity for Burnett, Costello, Giddens, Goldsmith, James and Mumford, who are bringing them to life nearly 50 years later. For Burnett, whom Dylan has entrusted with this endeavor, it was imperative to provide an environment in which these artists could thrive. “Great music is best created when a community of artists gets together for the common good. There is a deep well of generosity and support in the room at all times, and that reflects the tremendous generosity shown by Bob in sharing these lyrics with us.”

According to Jones, “The discovery of these previously unknown Bob Dylan songs that were thought lost since 1967 is the stuff of Hollywood fiction and a find of truly historical proportions. It is a unique opportunity to film T Bone and these great artists as they collaborate with a young Bob Dylan, and each other, to create new songs and recordings. These days and nights in the studio have been nothing less than magical.” Jones will weave these studio sessions into a broader narrative that will incorporate the stories behind the original Basement Tapes, expound on their cultural significance and chart their enduring influence.

The Basement Tapes — Background

Bob Dylan is universally regarded as one of the world’s most popular and acclaimed songwriters, musicians and performers, having sold more than 125 million albums and performed literally thousands of shows around the world spanning six decades. His influence and impact on our culture is unparalleled, and his artistic output of recordings and songs are both cultural landmarks and the genesis of countless great songwriters and musicians that have emerged in the decades since Dylan exploded onto the global stage.

Among Dylan’s many cultural milestones, the legendary Basement Tapes — dozens of songs written and recorded by Dylan in 1967, backed by members of his touring ensemble who would later achieve their own fame as The Band — have fascinated and enticed successive generations of musicians, fans and cultural critics alike. Having transformed music and culture during the preceding five years, Dylan had reached unparalleled heights by the mid-1960s through the release of three historic albums, the groundbreaking single, “Like A Rolling Stone,” a controversial and legendary ‘electric’ performance at the Newport Folk Festival and wildly polarizing tours of the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom. Dylan’s mercurial rise and prodigious body of work in that decade came to an abrupt end in July, 1966 when he was reported to be nearly killed in a motorcycle accident in upstate New York.

Recovering from his injuries and away from the public eye for the first time in years, Dylan ensconced himself, along with Robbie Robertson, Rick Danko, Richard Manuel and Garth Hudson, in the basement of a small house in West Saugerties, New York – dubbed “Big Pink” by the group. This collective recorded more than a hundred songs over the next several months – traditional covers, wry and humorous ditties, off-the cuff performances and, most important, dozens of newly-written Bob Dylan songs, including future classics “I Shall Be Released,” “The Mighty Quinn,” This Wheel’s On Fire,” “You Ain’t Going Nowhere” and “Tears Of Rage.”

When rumors and rare acetates of some of these recordings began surfacing, it created a curiosity strong enough to fuel an entirely new segment of the music business: the bootleg record. In 1969 an album mysteriously titled Great White Wonder began showing up in record shops around the country, and the music from that summer of 1967 started seeping into the fabric of our culture and penetrating the souls of music lovers everywhere. With each passing year, more and more fans sought out this rare contraband, desperate to hear new music from the legendary Bob Dylan. The actual recordings, however, remained commercially unavailable until 1975, when Columbia Records released a scant 16 of them on The Basement Tapes album.

The decades since these legendary recordings were made in that West Saugerties basement have seen publication of countless books and articles on the influence and importance of The Basement Tapes, and all surviving material from those sessions had been long thought released. Lost On The River: The New Basement Tapes marks the discovery of new Bob Dylan songs from that 1967 period and a creative highpoint for five contemporary artists and the legendary producer who will bring them to life nearly 50 years later.

Original Jack Kirby art for Fantastic Four Annual #4

Today's best picture ever: Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney!

New comics March 26, 2014: Silver-Age Batman newspaper comics; Dick Tracy; Paul Pope; Rawhide Kid!

Items of note this week. Click the links to order discounted items from Amazon.

Batman: The Silver Age Newspaper Comics Volume 1 (1966-1967)

Complete Chester Gould's Dick Tracy Volume 16

Paul Pope: Monsters & Titans - Battling Boy On Tour TP

Marvel Masterworks: Rawhide Kid Volume 1