It’s been a good year for Oliver Reed fans. Though the actor passed away in 1999, there have been several recent reissues of his work on Blu-Ray. First, there was Ken Russell’s The Great Composers box set from the BFI, which includes the rarely-seen but significant Reed performance in The Debussy Film. Then there was Hired To Kill, which Arrow Video reissued on May 17. And then, there’s Venom, reissued May 31 from Blue Underground.
I should make it clear that those last two movies are not exactly examples of Oliver Reed at his finest.
Cherry Red Records has done it again. This time, their triumph comes in the form of Close to the Noise Floor, a four-disc set which gives music junkies a taste of the “quiet electronic revolution that took place across the UK in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” The contents are staggeringly impressive and endlessly fascinating, with each disc flawlessly sequenced and boasting its own unique essence.
Though largely without commercial success at the time, Silverhead were influential by metal and hair metal, besides also being a well-loved glam rock band. Singer Michael Des Barres is a cult figure in music and acting, having combined a fairly successful career in both, and Nigel Harrison of Blondie also started his career in Silverhead.
This series of releases by Cherry Red includes the entire Silverhead discography: the two released albums, Silverhead and 16 and Savaged, some single mixes, live tracks, and B-sides. The series is rounded out by a live album, Live at the Rainbow, London 1973.
It’s time to give the Turtles another listen. And, lucky for you, their long out of print albums are being rereleased in a handy six CD box set, The Complete Original Albums Collection. If you’re not feeling that completist, a double CD set, All The Singles just might do the trick (what it did for me was make me want to get the six CD set, thankyouverymuch).
The Hollywood Brats are really an anomaly; difficult to place and more difficult to analyze the longer you listen to them. While they don’t quite have the almost intellectual artifice of the New York Dolls and Heavy Metal Kids, they do share the same deep sense of bad taste and irony. The defining characteristics of their music are a tendency to shock and a rather cutting irony, combined with a deliberately simplistic style of music which can be seen as a precursor of punk. For a short space of time they were shouting obscenities into the void of American glam rock, before disbanding in 1974. But right now, they’re having a moment of revival after singer Andrew Matheson’s book came out last year out and he’s been playing again, so it’s a good time to have another look at their actual output.
By Tim Murr
I was 19 when I saw Easy Rider the first time. I was a punk with a shaved head and had a generally negative attitude towards the world at large. I think I spent most of my time watching Dennis Hopper’s directorial debut with my arms crossed, not bored, but waiting to see what was supposedly so great about this “classic.” Though I found many facets of 1960s history fascinating, I assumed Easy Rider was just some hippy flick which wouldn’t resonate with me or my generation.
The 20-year anniversary of Tiny Tim’s death continues with an absolute treat for fans in the form of Tiny Tim’s America. This release is special because it’s comprised of new material, from recordings Tiny made in 1974 when he was in between recording contracts. Using this demo tape, a number of songs were chosen to compile a vinyl album (plus mp3 download). The original entire demo recording is also included on the mp3 download.
Though I’d always been a fan of “Dream Police” and “She’s Tight,” it wasn’t until 1993 that I fully embraced the many pleasures Cheap Trick had to offer. Checking the liner notes on their 1978 album Heaven Tonight revealed that amongst the album’s many fantastic tracks was a cover by someone named Roy Wood. “Who the hell was Roy Wood?” was my first thought and my second was “This song is incredible!” As it turned out Wood was the main songwriter for British band The Move, who’d found much success in the late 1960s and was a big influence on Cheap Trick’s musical style.
How is Hired To Kill an actual thing that exists? Getting the Blu-ray from Arrow Video solely on the basis of the press release describing the film’s co-star Oliver Reed “chewing up the scenery behind an elaborate moustache,” I did not recall any of the plot details when I popped in the disc. So it was with much disbelief and amusement that I watched 90 minutes of something so outrageous that it felt like a parody but was shockingly, not intended as such. If Astron-6 ever gets around to doing for action films what they did for Giallos with The Editor, the result would be akin to Hired To Kill. (more…)
For the first half of the 1990s, if Redd Kross was involved in something, I was interested. Any band they toured with or recorded with or even name-checked was a band that I would check out. I was rarely disappointed. Enter The Muffs, who I associated with Redd Kross originally because they were both from Southern California and had both punk rock and bubblegum pop cred. And there was the Bill Bartell connection. Plus, Kim Shattuck and Melanie Vammen were ex-Pandoras members, a band I was fond of after hearing them on WTUL New Orleans in the mid-’80s.
Not long after the band’s eponymous debut, Melanie left and former Redd Kross drummer Roy McDonald replaced original drummer Criss Crass. So I was extremely interested in hearing Blonder and Blonder, The Muffs’ 1995 release from Warner Bros./Reprise Records.