By Tim Murr
“The box. You opened it. We came. Now you must come with us, taste our pleasures.”
Those iconic words spoken by Pinhead in the directorial debut of Clive Barker are still chilling nearly 30 years after they were first heard. The film Hellraiser, based on Barker’s own novella The Hellbound Heart, is a harrowing, shocking, graphic slab of supernatural erotic body horror. It divided critics and thrilled horror aficionados and launched a franchise that still, for better or worse, survives today, not to mention the various comic book series and tie-in books from Barker and several others that continue to be published in regular intervals.
The people at the Vinegar Syndrome imprint are like late-night college DJs, the ones who pull out weird and obscure music, sharing songs they had to track down for years after hearing them once in a bowling alley. They’re the hardcore fans, the crazy ones, who not only reference movies you’ve never heard of, but can quote them verbatim. There is a need for people like that in this world, the cultural archaeologists, the keepers of the flame.
In the pantheon of great guitarists, there are ones that come easily to mind: Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Chuck Berry, Jeff Beck, B.B. King. I’d add the Buckaroos’ Don Rich to that list. His style is immediately recognizable, and without his sonic experimentation, Buck Owens’s catalog would lack a certain verve. While Owens was always happy to dip a toe in the rock side, Don Rich’s playing upped the ante. His fuzzed-out guitar work on “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass?” is as fresh and timely as anything recorded in 1969, and viscerally satisfying. This is pretty remarkable for someone who was hired to play fiddle.
Do you lament the lack of surf/Christmas music on your playlist? Are your instrumental Christmas albums just a little too staid? Did you know the Ventures put out a Christmas album in 1965? Did you know that it was called The Ventures’ Christmas Album and that Real Gone Records is reissuing it on CD? Did you also know that it is enormously, utterly fun?
Real Gone Music is here to save Christmas from oversinging, too-shiny production, and weird warbles with their reissues of classic Christmas albums. One of these? Ray Conniff and the Ray Conniff Singers’ The Complete Columbia Christmas Recordings. Collecting best-selling choral albums We Wish You A Merry Christmas (1962) and Here We Come A-Caroling (1965), The Complete Columbia Recordings has all of the classic Christmas songs you could possibly need, done with inspired choral arrangements and a tremendous amount of charm. It’s a retro trip back to the days of silver Christmas trees and really big record player cabinets, and it’s utterly enjoyable.
By Emily Carney
The biography supplied with this reissue of John Cale’s 1992 stripped-down live album, recorded at various venues, states: “Fragments gives us Cale at his most melodic and moving, a mellowed and certainly a soberer man in a Yamamoto jacket and a lopsided haircut running through a selection of his prettiest songs.” While there’s no doubt that Cale was soberer at that time (having cleaned up his act following the birth of his daughter in 1985), this reviewer will disagree slightly with the bio, only in that not all of the songs on this offering are prettier. It’s also possible that Cale has never truly sonically mellowed out.
Once again, Omnivore Recordings gives us the Christmas gift we need: a new Buck Owens and the Buckaroos compilation. The Complete Capitol Singles 1957-1966 covers a particularly creatively fecund phase in Buck Owens’s career: the early days at Capitol, his partnership with the brilliant Don Rich, and a string of hits that defined the influential Bakersfield Sound. The Complete Capitol Singles 1957-1966 is gorgeously remastered and sounds stunningly good. Crisp, even, with that trebly production that Buck favored (so it would sound good on AM radio) sounding better than ever.
The season’s pattern of focusing on one area at a time continues this week, where we finally learn that Sasha and Maggie did in fact make it back to the Hilltop community. There has been some criticism about the choice to use this format to tell a linear story, but the reality is that this method allows the plot to progress without unnecessary filler scenes.
My previous assessment of Gregory stands. But not only is he smarmy and arrogant, he’s also a coward and a misogynist. He doesn’t want Sasha and Maggie to stay, regardless of Maggie’s condition. Gregory’s fears about the two women staying are realized later that night when they’re all awakened to the sound of music coming from an old Gremlin that has mysteriously gotten through the gates. Fires blaze all over the encampment, as walkers invade. Maggie, Sasha, and Jesus quickly jump into action and take care of the problem.
I have issue with this, because this camp is suppose to have lookouts and people who protect the boundaries, or so we were led to believe last season. Instead, no one else is to be seen or heard from, except for Gregory, who looks on from the protection of his mansion for a half a second before slithering back into the darkness.
While Rick is out on a supply run and Michonne is off doing awesome katana-wielding things, Carl spots Enid trying to leave Alexandria. He swears he’s not going to save her, but he ends up following her and unceremoniously smashes the car he’s driving when she’s set upon by a walker at an abandoned gas station. The two continue on together, and part ways after kissing when they reach Hilltop.
The day following the walker attack, the Saviors pay a visit to Gregory. Gregory orders Jesus to hide Sasha and Maggie in a closet, which he eventually tries to use to his advantage. His plan was to turn them over, but Jesus put the girls in another closet and all that is revealed is a closet full of Gregory’s scotch stash.
When the Saviors finally leave the house, Gregory finds out the women were safely hidden in his bedroom closet. He seems to have this delusion that he actually made progress with the Saviors, and during his blustering, Maggie punches him. She declares that they’re not leaving, and that he will call her by her name. He’s also made the mistake of taking Glenn’s pocket watch, which she removes from his possession.
Jesus swears he’ll find a way to make things up to Sasha and Maggie, and Sasha tells him he can do that by finding out where Negan lives. This results in Jesus hitching a ride in one of the Saviors’ trucks, but he’s not alone. Carl has hidden himself, oddly enough, on the same truck.
Now, we all know bad things happen when Carl doesn’t stay home. We also know bad things happen when he can’t keep his mouth shut; he’s a hothead, and he’s headed right into the belly of the beast. My fear is that his stupidity will come at a price, one that Jesus and/or Daryl will have to pay.
By John Lane
In the interest of immediate full disclosure, I have long been a fan (and in recent times, a friend) of Kevin Coral, the mastermind behind the band The Witch Hazel Sound. The 2001 release of the group’s This World, Then the Fireworks awoke me, and others, from what you might call a creative and inspirational torpor. If you felt like you came from Anywheres-ville, USA, as I felt like I did, then it was a beautiful discovery to note that sheer magic could be conjured in Akron, Ohio.