Tuesday, March 31, 2009

"All Along the Watchtower"

"All Along the Watchtower". A great song by Bob Dylan, covered and made famous by Jimi Hendrix. One of my all time favorite songs, and one of Hendrix's best. It appears on his masterpiece "Electric Ladyland" album. I haven't been able to get this one out of my head for the past several days. Profound and brilliant. Here it is for your enjoyment.

All Along The Watchtower - Jimi Hendrix

Monday, March 30, 2009

Finally Saw "The Watchmen"...

I just caught "The Watchmen" yesterday afternoon. I walked into this movie more than a little skeptical, knowing that it would be next to impossible to translate the complexities of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon's masterpiece of a comic book to film. To me, the strong point of "The Watchmen" comic was that it showed just exactly what comic books can do that no other form of media can. I was more than pleasantly surprised by this movie. I was floored. Director Zack Snyder did an excellent job at translating this comic book to film. The look, feel and pacing of this movie...everything was breathtaking. The characters were portrayed very faithfully. It is a long movie, but it didn't feel like it. Even at the almost two hours and forty five minutes running time, there was still no way to include all of the complexities of the twelve issue comic book series into the movie, but don't let this bother you. It in no way distracts form the power of the story. If you were a fan of the comic book, or even if you're just curious, run out and see this one now while it's still playing. It's well worth the price of admission.

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Director Jeff Liberman's "Blue Sunshine" (1978). I caught this movie on HBO one night when I was about six or seven years old and it scared me to death. I had been looking for this movie forever. It had been out of print for years. Synapse films finally brought this movie back in print a few years ago and I quickly snagged a copy. It did not live up to the memories I had of it. It is not really very scary, but is still an entertaining piece of cinema.

Blue Sunshine is about a group of people who took some bad blue sunshine acid about ten years ago. Now, they find themselves becoming very irritable, with intense headaches. They pop and eat aspirin like mad, to no avail. Eventually they find themselves losing all their hair and going on a berserk killing spree.

This movie is more of a suspenseful mystery than a horror film. One man, Jerry Zipkin, finds himself at a party where one of the murder sprees take place. He is wrongly accused, and he must piece together the puzzle of what is exactly going on. He wants to clear his name. As he gets more deeply involved in the mystery, he realizes how dangerous these people can become and vows to stop these murder sprees. I don't want to give away too much more because I don't want to ruin the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it yet.

"Blue Sunshine" succeeds as a psychological suspense film, with a well-paced plot that keeps you glued to the screen. Where it fails is as a horror movie. There is very little of the red stuff, and the effects are laughable. When someone loses their hair, it is blatantly obvious that they are wearing a wig. With that being said, some of the murder scenes are still very intense. There is one gruelling scene where a woman is babysitting. The children are screaming out of control, and the woman starts eating aspirin...she cannot take anymore. Suddenly, she loses her hair and goes for the knives, chasing the children around the house.

"Blue Sunshine" is a movie that is well worth your time. For me, it just did not live up to the memories I had of it as a kid. It's still in print, and is pretty easy to find. The soundtrack is especially eerie, and comes packaged with the DVD.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Ok. I know I've posted about Trouble twice on here already, but I have another incredible Trouble album, "Manic Frustration"(1992), that has to be mentioned here. "Manic Frustration" is Trouble's follow-up to their 1990 psych-doom metal self-titled classic. "Manic Frustration" brings Trouble's sound further into the mainstream. This is the perfect psychedelic metal album. It is not as visceral as their previous efforts. They rely almost completely on 1960's and 1970's psych rock, with their doomy Sabbath edge diminishing greatly. Their sound on this album is very starry-eyed and retro psychedelic rock, with more emphasis on rich, depressive harmonies and vocals. The songwriting is top notch, and every track is loaded with hooks that will be running through your head for years...this is the most accessible Trouble album ever. This one should have put them to the top of the charts, but it didn't. For long-time Trouble fans, this was a difficult release. It was more Bowie, Beatles, Cream and 1970's rock influenced and strayed away from their usual doom metal ways. They still packed a lethal punch, however. The riffs are heavy and crushing when they want to be. The faster paced songs such as "Come Touch the Sky" are relentless as ever. This is Trouble at their peak, still delivering their hippiefied message of peace, love, and doom underneath a barrage of potent, yet much more subtle riffing. Trouble's self-titled comeback album from 1990 is still my favorite, but this one is threatening to take its place.
Just as a little aside, if you were ever into grunge from the 1990's, give Trouble, Saint Vitus, and Pentagram a listen. Although I listened to some "grunge rock" in the early 1990's (Soundgraden, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains were not that bad), these guys are the real thing. The roots of grunge, the masters of the nasty, synapse melting riff....

Here's the video to "Memory's Garden"...

..and here's "'Scuse Me" and the gloomy, beautiful "Breathe".

Scuse Me - Trouble

Breath... - Trouble

Please note that "Manic Frustration" is dangeroulsy out of print, with high prices being asked for it. You can't go out and buy it, but you can listen to the whole thing for free here.

Coming Attractions...

Reviews of two insane retro cult classics: Jeff Lieberman's acid flashback exploitation classic "Blue Sunshine" (1978), and the occult cheerleader lunatic masterpiece "Satan's Cheerleaders" (1977). Stay tuned.

Faith No More Reunion...

Faith No More, whose album "the Real Thing" is reviewed below, split in 1998 on less than friendly terms, with its members pursuing their own projects. Just recently it was announced that Mike Patton and crew are getting back together, rehearsing, and preparing for a tour of Europe. This is good news. I love Faith No More, and I hope that maybe a new album will come out of this. You can read more about the official press statement here. You can follow recent Faith No More news here.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Faith No More's 'The Real Thing"(1989) was one of the first metal/alternative crossover albums I ever heard, and one of my favorites of the time next to Soundgarden's "Louder Than Love" and Jane's Addiction's "Nothing's Shocking". What I really love about "The Real Thing" is the way Faith No More seamlessly blends elements of Black Sabbath, thrash metal, hardcore punk, funk, and soul into one cohesive and addictive whole. Mike Patton's vocals are deceptively silky-smoothe and soulful, becoming vicious only when they need to be with unsettling results. They are the perfect blend of snottiness and pure alienation. All of the musicianship is incredible here: Roddy Bottum on keyboards, Jim Martin on guitar, Mike Bordin on drums, and Billy Gould on bass.

An interesting fact about this record. Mike Patton took the place of original vocalist Chuck Moseley, who was kicked out of the band after all of the songs were already written. Strangely enough, Patton's vocals fit all of the songs perfectly. I personally prefer his vocals over Chuck Moseley's (heard on their previous album "Introduce Yourself"). Patton would only agree to sign the contract if he could continue to record and perform with his other band, the highly experimental and adventurous Mr. Bungle. I will cover them another day. So Warner Brothers agreed to let Mike Patton do both and signed Mr. Bungle as well. Patton would add an adventurous, uglier, and darker side to Faith No More's music once he began to contribute to the song writing. Listen to their follow up album from 1992 "Angel Dust" (also to be reviewed later) and you will hear the difference.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand, "The Real Thing". It is full of hooks, a bit on the pop side at times, but it maintains it's heaviness and sincerity. A song I'm sure all of you know off of this one is "Epic". It was a huge hit, but there are several other knockout tracks. "Falling to Pieces", "From Out of Nowhere", and "Underwater Love" are some of my favorites. Give this album a listen. It's not as deep as their later efforts, but it's still well worth your time and money.

Here's "From Out of Nowhere"...

..and here's a live version of "Falling to Pieces". Enjoy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


Trouble. An incredible, highly influential doom metal band from the 1980's. In the 1990's they streamlined their sound a good bit, making it more accessible and tuneful, but still as heavy as ever. They began to draw heavily from 1960's and and early 1970's psychedelic rock, relying just as much on the heavy harmonies of The Beatles as they do on the doomy riffing of Black Sabbath. Everything you love about Trouble is still there: the frayed nerve endings guitar solos, crushing riffs, and Eric Wagner's tortured vocals. It's just wrapped up in more accessible and potent package.

My favorite album from this time period is their self-titled, 1990 release. It is one of my favorite metal albums of all time. Sadly, it has been long of print, and I do not even have a copy anymore. I hope they bring this one back in print soon. The asking price on this on Amazon and other places is astronomical. I wish I could tell you to rush out and get this album now, but I can't. It's something that you will have to track down in bits and pieces digitally from You Tube and other sources.

Here's my favorite song from the album and possibly the greatest Trouble tune of all time. Sorry, there is no video for this one, "The Wolf".

The Wolf - Trouble
Here's the videos to "Psychotic Reaction" and "At the End of My Daze". Enjoy.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Ronnie Dawson was an incredible outlaw, high octane, rockabilly/country singer who's first songs came out in the 1950's. The energy of his vocals and guitar playing is legendary. One of the songs he is probably most famous for is "Rockin' Bones" from the 1950's, covered by The Cramps. Of course Ronnie Dawson has recorded a wealth of material, and he made a big comeback in the 1990's, releasing several albums. The two I have are "Monkey Beat' (1994) and "Just Rockin' and Rollin"(2001). I highly recommend both. He passed away in 2003 from throat cancer.

I saw Ronnie Dawson live in the late 1990's. What a show. For a man his age, he was jumping around and running all over the place, delivering song after song with ease. His voice and guitar playing were as strong as ever. He never faltered. He was hanging out after the show selling some CD's, so I stopped and talked to him for a minute. He seemed like a nice guy, very down to earth. I bought "Monkey Beat" and he signed it for me.

As I said, Ronnie has a lot of material, so it is hard to recommend just one album. I would start with the two mentioned above. Also, try to find a compilation of his early songs.

Here's the classic "Rockin' Bones" from 1959. His voice is high pitched in his early releases, but mellows out in his later material.

Here's "Up Jumped the Devil" and "Crazy Shoes" from 1994's "Monkey Beat".

Up Jumped The Devil - Ronnie Dawson

Crazy Shoes - Ronnie Dawson

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The Animal's "House of the Rising Sun"(1964). What a powerful tune. Part of the British Invasion, The Animals had something different going for them. Their music was dark, foreboding, and grim. Eric Burdon's vocals were powerful and starkly emotive. Their use of keyboards and minor keys was legendary. They weren't your normal happy teen pop band by any means. Anyway, here's "House of the Rising Sun" for your enjoyment.

Monday, March 23, 2009


I was out of town yesterday. My wife and I, one of our daughters and her boyfriend headed down to New Orleans. We had to get out, and I had not been to New Orleans since Katrina and I was anxious to visit my favorite city again. We got there around noon and walked the French Quarter all day. The city was surprisingly clean, as clean as New Orleans can get. I noticed a few things that were different since I've last been years ago. For one, there were quite a few vacant apartments and businesses. Also the only places that were packed were around the Cafe Dumond and The French Market. I also noticed that the streets that normally have heavy traffic such as Bourbon Street were quieter and emptier than usual. Nevertheless, New Orleans was almost back to it's old self, and I can't wait to go back. If all goes well, I'll be heading back down on April 11th to catch Saint Vitus at One-Eyed Jacks.

New Orleans has come a long way from Katrina. If you want to see a place that was hit the hardest, so hard it has yet to rebuild, visit Biloxi, MS. Along the miles long stretch along the beach, everything is wiped out. Where there once were houses and businesses as far as the eye could see, now there is nothing but vacant lots with for sale signs on them. Every now and then you will see a new condo or covenience store pop up, but that is about it. The only exception would be that they have rebuilt the casino area very well. It is very nice. Actually my wife and I visited there a few weeks ago. I hope that rest of the Biloxi beach area rebuilds in the same manner.
Anyway, that's it for now, and regular posting will resume tomorrow.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


"American Splendor" (2003) is a movie based on Harvey Pekar's extremely realistic but entertaining slice-of-life, auoto-biographical comic book of the same name. This is a movie that can be appreciated whether you have read his comics or not. I personally have read all the "American Splendor" comics that pertain to this movie and I must say that this is a surprisingly faithful cinematic adaptation of Harvey Pekar's work. The script was not written by Harvey Pekar but you can't tell. Watching this movie is just like reading his comics. What this movie does is take samplings from all of Pekar's work and blend them into a cohesive story about the life and times of this great writer. Of course Harvey's stories are very realistic, so realistic in fact that is hard to distinguish where the comic book ends and his real life begins. They are as one.

In a nutshell, "American Splendor" covers the life of Harvey Pekar ( perfectly played by Paul Giamatti) from the days of his pre-comic book career to the time he met Robert Crumb and began making his own comics, to his third and final marriage and surviving his ordeal with cancer. Along the way we meet several interesting characters. You have of course the brilliant underground comics artist/writer Robert Crumb, who agreed to illustrate Harvey's first comics. Crumb's character is played dead on by James Uburniak. Another great character is Toby, who works with Pekar at his file clerk job at the V.A. hospital. Toby (played by Judah Friedlander) is an eccentric character, a true nerd, and his presence and personality are heartfelt throughout the movie. Mr. Boats is another great character. Mr. Boats is a funny and eccentric older black man who also works with Pekar at the hospital. His character is well interpreted by Earl Billings. All of the acting performances in this movie are well done and the way these actors portray their characters is completely faithful to the comic.

There are several unique things about this movie that I like. It uses the form of a comic book to frame the movie. A panel taken from the comic will suddenly turn to live action, zoom in, and this is where a new scene starts. This movie is constantly juxtaposing illustraions from the comic with the live action. A good example of this would be when Joyce Brabner, Pekar's new wife to be, flies in for the first time to meet Harvey. She is at the airport looking for Harvey, going through her head thinking about all the different ways he is portrayed in his comics. With every person she sees, a diffferent image of Harvey pops up on the screen, and she wonders if this is the one.

Something I really love about this movie is the fact that the real people "American Splendor" is based on play an active role in the story. The movie constantly cuts in to the real Harvey Pekar, as he adds his own narration and viewpoints to the several mini stories that unfold inside this movie. You also get to see the real Toby and the real Joyce Brabner giving their take on things.

Another great moment is all the David Letterman appearances made by Harvey. Each one is presented very faithfully. Most of the time they showed the original vintage David Letterman episode. I remember staying up late at night as a teenager to make sure I caught the shows with Harvey, and let me tell you, his appearances were always eventful, high strung, and controversial.

I don't want to give away too much of what happens in this movie, so let me close by saying that "American Splendor" is packed with emotion. It is an intense, heartwarming yet gut wrenching account of the life and times of one man. His story is not exciting all of the time, but it is always entertaining, and you will want to come back to it again and again.


"Space Is the Place" is a movie in part based on Sun Ra and his band's outrageous psychedelic free-jazz from the 1970's. It is a very complex, multi-faceted film. You could look at it as a positive blaxploitation masterpiece, a plea for all the black race to make something of themselves. Some could see it as a call for all people to look inward, to turn themselves away from earthly distractions and explore their inner space and open their minds and creativity, which in Sun Ra's eye is the same thing as exploring and conquering outer space. You can look at his film as a psychedelic, futuristic sci-fi oddity, or see it as an excuse for Sun Ra and his band to perform live on film in full on primitive-futuristic attire. No matter which way you choose to view this movie, it is a must see.

"Space Is the Place" is about Sun Ra, who possesses super-human, mystical powers. He has created a beautiful utopia in outer space for people that are fed up with Earth and want to leave it behind. He comes to Earth in a rather apocalyptic fashion, waging a doomsday card game with a mystical evil pimp in the desert. The game is over the fate of the planet Earth. If Sun Ra loses, Earth stays. If he wins, the planet has got to go. The pimp represents all that is evil, and Sun Ra represents all that is good. This whole concept reminds me somewhat of the chess game with Death in Ingmar Bergman's "The Seventh Seal".

Of course, the card game is only one part of this film. It is worked seamlessly, almost dreamlike into all of the movie. Sun Ra is double-crossed and done in by the evil white man that always sides with the pimp. In between we have many shots of Sun Ra and his band playing, bizarre futuristic sets, scenes from the street, and the wildest soundtrack ever set to film. And of course Sun Ra survives, with the help of some street kids, and he is ready to defeat the pimp once and for all. What does this mean for the fate of our planet, and are any of us worthy to leave if Sun Ra wins this fateful card game? You must watch this movie to find out...

I love this one. There is one moment that is a classic. Sun Ra sets up an 'outer space employment agency '. When people walk in to inquire about a job, they ask 'how much will I be making?' Of course Sun Ra replies dryly "Nothing", and everyone walks away. I guess they won't be leaving Earth anytime soon. The only complaints I have is the acting is not that great. Sun Ra is not an actor. He is a musician. The flaws left by the acting are more than made up for by the music, imagery, and beauty of the film. This is one not to be missed.

I can't rave enough about the music from this movie . It is an insane yet focused free-space-jazz freak out, with the beautiful, eerie vocals of June Tyson holding everything together. There is a soundtrack available for this movie, but while it is exhaustive, it is missing a few of the movie's best musical moments. I would recommend picking up both.

Sadly, the movie is very hard to find. I have a VHS copy that I ordered by mail over ten years ago. It does not appear to ever have been released on DVD. If you can't find the movie, at least get the soundtrack. It's in print. Make sure you get the long version, pictured above.

Here's the first five minutes of the movie:

Watch Sun Ra - Space Is the Place - 1974.avi in Entertainment View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

Here's a clip of Sun Ra recruiting for The Outer Space Employment Agency...watch it all the way thorugh. It's hilarious.

And here's just a regular street scene where Sun Ra makes an appearance.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Massive Layoffs at My Work Today...

Today was a day of massive layoffs at my work. First let me say that I work I work in a very close-quartered, tightly secure environment. You get to know everyone that works there very well, and even though you may only only see them at work, you view them as your friends. Today at my work they laid off sixteen people, from way up top, all the way to the bottom. This was done without warning. Some of the people that were being laid off were on vacation or taking the day off, etc. They were told they had to come in today for a "mandatory meeting". These people had to come to work all day, on their day off, only to find out at about three o' clock in the afternoon or so that they no longer had a job. The lay-offs were widespread with no consideration given to seniority . The reason was, of course, the down sizing of the economy and re-structuring of the company.

It was a very cruel and grueling experience. Our area was spared and we only lost one person. But the other areas were hit hard, losing about 25% of their crew. The cruel thing about this was that they took all day to do these lay offs, from 8:30 in the morning until about 3:30 in the afternoon. Everyone was in a state of panic and shot nerves, and no one could concentrate on their work. Management (what was left of them) said in a meeting later that they felt this was the most humane way to let people know they no longer have a job. But is it? It destroys morale amongst employees and creates more stress than good. Just sitting there all day watching all your friends and their livelihood getting shot down and being escorted out of the building one by one is enough to make a person crack. And they have to watch you clean out your desk to make sure you aren't stealing anything.

I am disgusted about today. My stomach has been in knots and my nerves are shot. No one was certain that they still had a job until almost quitting time. To me this is not the proper way to do business. Have any of you experienced lay offs like this? What is the best way to let some one know that they are no longer needed at their job? Is it better to give some one their pink slip in person, or through the mail? Sixteen people does not sound like a lot, but it is about twenty percent of the people that work in our building.

Me, I'm losing faith in capitalism. But I don't have much faith in all the other "isms" out there either.

Coming Soon...

"Where have all the movie reviews gone?", you may ask. More movie reviews are coming soon. Our household has been very busy as of late, so my movie watching time has been reduced to zero. Over the next few days, I'll be reviewing "Space is the Place" and "American Splendor ". What types of movies would you like to see reviewed here? I want to try to keep the selection all across the board like my music reviews, not playing favorite to any particular genre, although my favorite is horror. Also, do you prefer the music or movie reviews? My goal is to keep an equal balance between the two, but time has not permitted me lately. Any suggestions? You regular readers and those first stopping by, please leave a comment and any suggestions you may have.

"Across 110th Street"

Bobby Womack's "Across 110th Street" is one of my favorite songs from the 1970's blaxploitation cinema era. It is an incredible tune that's been jangling around in my head for the past several days. It ranks right up there with the works of Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield from the same time period. Exceptional, smooth sounding funk and soul. You may recognize this song from the opening credits of Quentin Tarantino's "Jackie Brown". I hope to watch the original movie it came from, "Across 110th Street", very soon. In the meantime, here's the song for your enjoyment.

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Fishbone's "Truth and Soul"(1988) is possibly Fishbone's greatest release. On this album Fishbone perfectly brings together elements of ska, funk, soul, rock, and metal. From the opening notes of their cover of Curtis Mayfield's "Freddie's Dead", you know these guys mean business. The upbeat ska of "Ma and Pa" and the gut wrenching, downer soul-meets-reggae of "Pouring Rain" are the highlights of this album to me, but all tracks are excellent. The only Fishbone album that comes close to over shadowing this one would be their gigantic sounding follow-up "The Reality of My Surroundings". For some reason I prefer "Truth and Soul" though. Maybe because it's the first Fishbone album I ever heard. Anyway, check it out. It's easy to find and dirt cheap ($6.99 US at Amazon).

Click here to listen to "Ma and Pa".

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Syd Barret's 'The Madcap Laughs"(1970) is an incredible yet fragile work. It was Syd Barrett's first solo release after his departure from Pink Floyd. This is a true masterpiece of psychedelic rock. It is the portrait of a mind taken to the point of no return by LSD...a mind that is too far gone to ever come back. Syd Barrett's vocals are very fragile and brittle. Barrett sounds as if he has already fallen into the abyss and there is no way for him to get out. The lyrics are incredible, dealing with day to day realities filtered through Barret's mind. They are also extremely poetic. Barrett has a way with words that is completely his own, reminding me at times of the writing of James Joyce. The music is tuneful, delicate, and saddening, heightened by the musicianship of some of his ex-Pink Floyd band mates that helped him record the album.

"The Madcap Laughs" is not a perfect release and it is somewhat rough around the edges at times. Yet, that adds to the album's appeal. It is a beautiful and devastating portrait of a broken, alienated mind and spirit. Highly recommended.

Here's "Terrapin" and "Octopus". Enjoy.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


Ok. I posted about The Groupies' "Primitive" about a week ago, and here's another obscure 1960's garage punk song and band made famous by The Cramps. It's "Green Fuzz"(1969), by Randy Alvey and The Green Fuzz. A grungy, filthy sounding gem of stoned out 1960's punk. It's hard to believe, but I find the original much sleazier than The Cramps' version. Compare the two versions and let me know what you think. One of my favorite songs of all time.
Here's the original:

Green Fuz/Green Fuz - Track Artist

And here's The Cramps' version:

Monday, March 16, 2009


Chrome was a highly original sounding and influential futuristic science fiction/punk band that came out in the mid 1970's. Chrome's sound is incredible..they use tape loops and all kinds of homemade sound effects to a nightmarish effect. Helios Creed's deranged, psychedelic guitar playing, and distorted vocals add to the mix. Combine that with Damon Edge's ear for cold keyboards, synths, and dance rhythms and you have apocalyptic
futuristic/punk/dance/metal/space rock for a millennium that has yet to come. Their music paints haunting and alien aural soundscapes and their lyrics convey an acute sense of paranoia and isolation. If there is such a thing as a soundtrack to the works of Philip K. Dick or the cut-up science fiction works of William S. Burroughs, Chrome is it. Chrome would eventually disband after Helios Creed left the band in 1983 to pursue a solo career. After Damon Edge's death in 1995, Helios Creed reformed Chrome, releasing some new material and performed several live shows.

I love all of Chrome's output with Helios Creed, so it is hard to name a favorite. All of their albums are different, each painting a different mood. My personal favorites are "Half Machine Lip Moves" and "Alien Soundtracks", both released in the late 1970's. You can purchase them separately or as one album. These two works are Chrome's most adventurous. They effortlessly blend cut-up sound collages and tape loops in with their unrelenting punk/industrial space rock soundscapes. It is difficult to determine where one song ends and the next one begins at times. Both releases are best appreciated listened to as a whole, or back to back, as they both have a similar feel.

Here's "You've Been Duplicated" from 'Half Machine Lip Moves"...

Chrome - Youve Been Duplicated -

...and here's "Slip It to the Android" from "Alien Soundtracks". Enjoy.