The psychedelic era, short-lived as it was, produced some of the most memorable tunes of the late Sixties and early Seventies. It also spewed forth a lot of crap. Basically, if you had a flange or wah-wah pedal on your cheap electric guitar, and some decent harmonies from the bassist and keyboard player, you could churn out a great psychedelic song in about half an hour. The lyrics didn’t have to make sense. As long as you were blowing someone’s mind, or singing about blowing someone’s mind, you were set.
Full disclosure: I have no idea how to review the new, incredibly comprehensive, fully-remastered, nine-disc Monty Python box set, Monty Python’s Total Rubbish: The Complete Collection. I, like any good misfit worth her salt, went through a rather serious Monty Python phase while in high school, and spent every weekend watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus with my best pal Lori (and arguing over who was cuter, Michael Palin or Eric Idle. The answer was yes), imitating the sketches, knotting handkerchiefs for our heads, and being fully immersed in Pythonalia. I have no objectivity when it comes to Monty Python. I love them. Full on. I learned more about world history from Monty Python than I did in high school (of course, if it had been taught in funny voices, I might’ve paid more attention).
The Italian progressive rock band Goblin has been in existence, in some iteration or another, for over 40 years. Most people know them from their multiple collaborations with film director, Dario Argento, in creating soundtracks for his horror movies. Goblin hasn’t made any new music, though, since the soundtrack for Non so honno in 2001. At this point, they’ve earned the right to rest on their laurels a tad, so instead of new music, Goblin releases a lot of greatest hits compilations.
When I received Vinegar Syndrome’s recent release of Prisoner Of Paradise I asked myself, “Do I bring The Boozer Reviewer back?” Then I saw it was a big budget X-rated war epic, falling under the Nazisploitation subgenre. . . and it starred John Holmes. I knew then I needed to watch this without any alcohol.
Man, I wish I was intoxicated when I watched this.
StageFright was a classic when I originally saw it back in the ‘90s. At that time I knew it as Bloody Bird, but a little while later I acquired a VHS copy with the title StageFright: Aquarius. I imagine this was confusing for some in the days before the Internet. I think the distributors knew this so they made StageFright one word. Honestly, it doesn’t matter but I find it funny. It’s even funnier since Jerome Sable’s Stage Fright was released earlier this year.
Out now on Big Legal Mess Records, the four-CD, 101-song compilation The Soul Of Designer Records is flat out amazing. Between 1967 and 1977, Memphis-based Designer Records founder, the delightfully named Style Wooten, gave any group that wanted it a chance to record in his studio, using his studio musicians if they didn’t have their own, for the low price of $469.50. In exchange, the group would get 25 copies of their single to sell or distribute, and when those 25 were gone, they could re-up for another 25. Black gospel groups flocked to Memphis to record their 45s, and Designer Records became one of the most successful independent gospel labels in the States.
One of the things that makes listening to music on vinyl different is how much attention must be paid to it. Putting an iPod on shuffle is easy, but not interactive. Listening to an album, or better yet, singles, makes me slow down, sit down, and actually listen to the music. It’s no longer background noise. It’s an experience.
Todd Rundgren’s music has always been an acquired taste. His chart hits have felt like flukes, strange cracks in the system. You aren’t supposed to know who Todd Rundgren is. He leads a cult that resides so far underground, they may as well be Morlocks.
One of the reasons for this status is Rundgren’s musical twitchiness. He jumps from style to style, from Philly white-boy blues to synth-pop, from down and dirty rock and roll to salsa. Never knowing what he’ll do next is exciting for some, laborious for others.
In the late Seventies, Rundgren formed a band called Utopia. It was designed to be his big foray into progressive rock, exploring grand concepts and incorporating deep philosophical lyrics. As it gradually shrank from seven members to four, Utopia became one of the sharpest New Wave bands of its time, delivering perfect three-minute pop songs, deliciously textured with soaring, shifting harmonies.
Back in the day Troma purchased a lot of films from different companies who were going out of business to build up their catalogue. Yes, Troma’s name is all over the old DVD and their logo is on the back on this Blu-Ray but Troma didn’t have anything to do with the making of the film. I only say this because the streak that Troma has isn’t a very good one. Luckily. we have Vinegar Syndrome who is going through Troma’s catalogue and pulling the good flicks out of the depths of their toilet and giving them a proper release.
By Cait Brennan
Scott Miller wrote and sang some of the most innovative, intelligent, moving indie pop of the past three decades. For years, though, the Game Theory catalog has been impossible to hear, keeping the work of this essential artist out of reach of all but the most devoted fans. Miller’s tragic passing in April 2013 galvanized efforts to change that, and America’s finest reissue label rode to the rescue. At long last, 1982′s Blaze Of Glory is back, with a bevy of bonus goodies, and it’s a harbinger of even bigger things to come.