They’re Back From the Dead

Spinal Tap – Back from the Dead

Originally I wanted to do a Spinal Tap retrospective but frankly, I just don’t have it in me… But I figured I could at least review Tap’s latest release. It’s been 17 years since these mock-rockers released an album (that was the so-so Break Like the Wind) and they appear to back in firing form, even with a lack of new compositions. Yes out of 19 tracks there’s probably only five or so new Tap tracks but I have to admit, some of these re-recordings sound better than ever. Rockers like “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You” or “Heavy Duty” featuring Keith Emerson are tight, polished and heavier than ever but re-recording “Flower People” as a reggae number or “Sex Farm” as a funk number is a cute idea but ultimately forgettable.

I don’t understand why we couldn’t of gotten an entirely new batch of songs, seeing as the newer numbers are brimming with hilariously silly lyrics and over the top rock riffs. Title track “Back from the Dead” (originally recorded as a free download earlier this decade) is a definite standout with it’s menacing horror infused lyrics such as “Give me reincarnation… Or give me death!” and some mighty thunderous drums. “Warmer than Hell” is a devilishly stupid piece about global warming and “Rock and Roll Nightmare” is another classic satire on the 80s hair metal of yore.

Looking at the track list I find one of the most hilarious inclusions being the long awaited recording of Derek Smalls’ “Jazz Odyssey” split up into three parts! I have no idea why there are so many re-recordings, which definitely holds this album back but as a whole it’s still dumb fun. Being that it’s a comedy record I don’t feel the need to judge it too hardly. I mean sure I would of liked some more new material but I’m probably lucky that another Spinal Tap album was even made at all.

The addition of a bonus dvd was a real plus here and overall I was satisfied with this purchase. I’ve been having a hell of a time finding any good tunes this summer, so at least these guys can tide me over for a little while. If your a fan but don’t already have any recorded Tap material than I’d recommend this, a bit pants but worth a peak.

Sean’s Top 10s of 2002

Another year, another shameful list of how out of touch I was with good media just a little while ago.

Top 10 Films of 2002

10. Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
This is in the ten spot because I can’t really defend it. I know, in my heart of heats, this is not a good movie. It might even be the worst Star Wars movie. But I’m a Star Wars guy, and there’s no way I could not have this on the list. I’ve seen Attack of the Clones plenty of times, and I’m sure I’ll be watching it more in the years to come.

9. Bubba Ho-Tep
I think everyone like Bruce Campbell. This funny horror flick is about the supernatural murders taking place in an old folks home, and a couple senile old men who try to get to the bottom of the mystery. Props to Ossie Davis for his turn as JFK.

8. Catch Me If You Can
Certainly this is minor Spielberg, and if I was a real man, I’m sure this would have been bumped for a film like City of God or Rodger Dodger. But I didn’t see those movies. If I remember correctly, however, this action comedy did have a certain charm to it that is hard to beat.

7. Punch-Drunk Love
This is an interesting film, like everything else by P.T. Anderson. Adam Sandler turns in a great performance in this bizarre, almost heart-warming romantic motion picture.

6. Signs
My favorite M. Night Shyamalan movie. Signs may sound really stupid when you talk about it later, but that first time through it’s one hell of a ride. Great score too, I mean the damn opening credits were unsettling.

5. Spider-Man
A great super hero origin movie from the master Sam Raimi. This is a comic book movie that even someone like my mom could enjoy, and just seeing Spider-Man brought to life so vividly totally blew my mind back in 2002. The first and only movie I ever downloaded while it was still in theaters, I even bought the gigantic special edition DVD.

4. Minority Report
I know a lot of people straight up hate Tom Cruise, but this movie is bad ass. I’m not going to spoil anything, but just trust me, it’s awesome. Did Steven Spielberg really direct two movies on this list? This is madness!

3. Gangs of New York
A movie so great it took me years to finish it. Scorsese paints a New York unlike anything we’ve ever seen before in this violent masterpiece. Plus, come on, D. Day’s in it.

2. Adaptation.
You’re going to hard pressed to find a movie that’s more of a trip than Adaptation. There’s a lot of stuff going on on a lot of different levels and amazingly enough it all works. I guess that’s just Charlie Kaufman’s M.O.

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers
Fellowship‘s successor is, if you ask me, the superior film. Just think about it, the movie starts with arguably the coolest sequence ever put to film, and concludes with the most epic battle of the entire franchise. If you didn’t give this movie 5 stars, you’re broken. I bet even Richard “this movie just sucks” Roeper did. And that guy’s cold as ice.

Top 10 Albums of 2002

10. Foo Fighters – One by One
I kind of miss being all about the Foo Fighters. Great, rockin’ tunes like “All My Life” and “Times Like These” used to be some of my favorites. That’s why I’m glad they went on hiatus, maybe they can come back and totally rock my socks off one more time.

9. Muse – Hullabaloo Soundtrack
Maybe I shouldn’t count this album, since it’s a combo compilation of B-side tracks and a live performance. But I want to, since I’m not the kind of guy who usually gets singles, EPs or any of that nonsense.

8. Spoon – Kill the Moonlight
Just got into this album a little while ago. If you like the soundtrack to the movie Stranger Than Fiction, you’ll probably like this album.

7. Sigur Rós – ( )
Probably one of the top albums from these Icelandic rockers. Hell, Kevin evenly likes one of the songs off of it. It’s just so cold in Iceland.

6. Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights
God damn, I’m one cool motherfucker, aren’t I? I like freakin’ Interpol. I should live in New York and go to Yankee games and ask people, “hey, is Derek Jeter a pitcher?” I’m that cool.

5. Nada Surf – Let Go
Nada Surf goes from ’90s band I hardly remember to awesome early 2000s band with this freaking sweet album. Let it turn your dreams into magical pillows on the stairway to intergalactic travel.

4. Red Hot Chili Peppers – By the Way
As if Californication wasn’t cool enough already, RHCP dropped another totally sweet album with By the Way. Toast my goats.

3. The Flaming Lips – Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots
Ah, now here’s something I never expected. We were watching 3 South and Colin was all, “that album’s pretty good, too.” I was shocked, how would Colin know such a thing? Maybe he was lying to show off? Then I downloaded it and I was like, oh, yeah, this is pretty good. Pretty damn good.

2. Beck – Sea Change
Beck’s all depressed, but that just gives this album more resonance. It’s even got a CAT

1. Coldplay – A Rush of Blood to the Head
Did you guys forget I like Coldplay? I didn’t think so, I mean I freaking write about them all the time. It’s kind of weird, don’t ya think. Maybe I shouldn’t write about myself so much.

Top 10 Video Games of 2002

10. Freedom Force
This game was a sweet RTS that was all about super heroes. The main game alone was fun, but what made it truly great was the customizability, which made an incredible number of great custom characters available quickly. Everyone from Galactus to Superman was out there, you just had to download it.

9. Jet Set Radio Future
Now this is not a legendary release that people around the world celebrate with unbridled enthusiasm, but Jet Grind Radio was one of the best DreamCast games, and JSRF was a good followup. Why not Jet Grind Radio Future, I always wondered. They already committed with the fist game.

8. MechAssault
Ah, the dawn of Xbox LIVE. The good ol’ days when knockin’ about in gigantic robots online was a real novelty to those of us that prefer a controller. Those were the days…

7. Animal Crossing
The game so good, Nintendo had to make it again. And again. And again. Ugh…

6. Super Mario Sunshine
The camera’s a little janky, and the game doesn’t play that great, but it’s Mario!

5. Grand Theft Auto Vice City
Sure, I never owned this game. But I played it at John’s house. It was like the last GTA game, but way cooler. I was totally cellist.

4. Battlefield: 1942
The game that inspired years of online multiplayer. I got a lot of mileage out of this title that would surely seem extremely dated if I were to play it again today.

3. Warcraft III
There are people still playing this game right now. I’m serious. That’s how much staying power a truly great game like this has.

2. Metroid Prime
The game that made me want a GameCube. Arguably the best game on that console, and one of my favorites ever.

1. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Outcast
This game is a cool as a cucumber in the middle of winter in a freezer with transitions glasses flashing gang signs and wearing baggy pants while listening to Interpol. It’s in my top 5 games ever, and I seem to find myself coming back to it even today. Come on, make a new Jedi Knight!

R.I.P. Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson

I’m sure everyone’s already heard about the sudden death of Michael Jackson, but I’m still pretty shocked about this abrupt end to an unprecedented career.  I don’t think anyone saw this one coming seeing as though I had just recently read about his attempts to make a comeback with his planned series of concerts at London’s O2 arena. 

According to reports, Jackson collapsed in his Los Angeles home and paramedics arriving on the scene found him with no pulse and immediately rushed Jackson to the hospital. He was then confirmed dead at the age of 50 at 3:30 PM on Thursday.  Jackson’s health has always been a source of speculation and he had recently postponed some of his upcoming London shows due to health issues, but I don’t think anyone had any idea that he was in such poor condition.
Michael Jackson’s influence on popular music as well as pop culture is monumental, he was easily the biggest artist of the 1980’s and was pretty much the Elvis Presley or Frank Sinatra of his time.  He first made a splash as the lead singer of The Jackson Five before breaking out on his own with the classic 1979 album, Off The Wall.  It was three years later that he released Thriller, an album that still stands as the best selling album of all-time.  Of course it wasn’t just his music that made him an icon, he had an unmistakeable fashion style, created a slew of famous dance moves, and was one of the first pioneers of the music video.
Unfortunately my generation is probably most familiar with his outlandish personal life, filled with scandal as well as bizarre publicity stunts.  He’d also been facing financial troubles in recent years, being millions of dollars in debt.  However, despite having one of the most bizarre personal lives of any famous entertainer, I don’t think there’s any denying Jackson’s status as one of the biggest musical artists of the 20th century.

And Then There Was Ten

I wanted to do a quick update as we appear to be in one of our longer post droughts. I still plan on doing some sort of Spinal Tap retrospective soon, I haven’t had much time to listen to the album but it’s coming. I’d like to think that there will be some more movie reviews soon, but there’s just not a lot I want to see coming out yet. I really don’t care to see the new panned, 147 minute long Transformers installment so hopefully July will be better for summer flicks with stuff like Public Enemies or Funny People even though that’s not until July 31st. Awhile back I said I’d do a top ten of baseball movies but I’ve since decided to save that for closer to the All Star Game, until than I can’t think of anything that will be worth reporting, except for random updates like this one.

In other news, did you hear that the Oscars are going to extend their best picture nominees from five films to ten? I suppose they see it as a way to get back to their roots while honoring other films… But ten? For someone like me (who tries to see all the nominees) that’s gonna be a hell of a lot of work. Personally I don’t think the amount of movies they’re nominating is the problem it’s just the selection. Every year they have to pull some shit like nominating an Atonement or The Reader, so what sucks is I’ll still have to see those kind of movies. Plus you know there’s gonna be some years where it’ll be a stretch coming up with worthy films, unless they start throwing in both foreign and animated films. Seems likely that they’ll throw in the latter at least. I guess there has been plenty of films that have been shafted in the past but I’m hesitant about how this might pan out. Well until than keep watching the skies, Otteni Out.

C.A.T.: From Elvis In Memphis

Elvis Presley – From Elvis In Memphis (1969)

Last week marked the 40th anniversary of From Elvis in Memphis, which along with Elvis’s 1968 Comeback special re-established Elvis Presley as a musical force to be reckoned with and a reminder of why we all refer to him as “The King”.

The aforementioned television special which aired in late 1968 seemed to spark Elvis’s interest in taking his career in a new direction after sleepwalking through the sixties with a string of lackluster albums while turning out about three movies a year.  Elvis decided to record it in Memphis, were he hadn’t recorded any music since he left Sun Records thirteen years earlier.  By then, Memphis had become a thriving center for soul music, and this album shows Elvis infusing his music with more of a Blue-eyed Soul sound.
There’s certainly a nice blend of The King’s trademark musical styles on From Elvis in Memphis, as there’s a number of country songs such as “It Keeps Right On A Hurtin'” and “I’ll Hold You In My Heart” while giving them a bit of R&B feel.  The album’s laced with soulful ballads as well as rockers like “Wearin’ That Loved On Look” and “Power Of My Love”, and they all show Elvis’s giving it his all with his unmistakably brilliant vocal delivery.  Elvis’s backing band also helps revitalize The King’s while there’s also a good amount of strings and horns that certainly give the album a somewhat polished sound, but never make it seem over-produced.
From Elvis in Memphis still stands as one of Elvis’s best albums, although I’d recommend his self-titled debut or his work at Sun Records as a good introduction to his signature rockabilly sound. Along with Elvis’s Comeback Special, this album probably marked rock n’ roll’s first legitamite comeback for an artist by breathing new life into what was an already groundbreaking career.
Favorite Tracks: “Wearin’ That Loved On Look”, “Any Day Now”, “True Love Travels On A Gravel Road”

R.I.P. Ed McMahon

Ailing former-Tonight Show personality Ed McMahon has died at the age of 86. He will be remembered for his lengthy career with Johnny Carson, as well as his work hosting 1980s sensation Star Search.

I read McMahon’s autobiography, For Laughing Out Loud, a few years ago and found myself really impressed with the life of this ex-fighter pilot. Beyond being the funny guy who yells, “heeeeeere’s Johnny,” he was a great man.

It’s a shame that his last few years could not have been more peaceful, with all the legal and financial troubles he’s faced. His health has been shaky for the past couple years too.

But McMahon has already carved out his place in American history as one of the greatest television icons of the last generation.

Year Dumb

Year One

Harold Ramis directing Jack Black in a Biblical comedy? Sounds like a formula for success yet there’s very little to laugh about with this tired collection of dare I say… Prehistoric jokes. Directed and co-written by Harold Ramis known for such comedies as Caddyshack and Groundhog Day, Year One appears to be an indication that his best years are behind him.

The film follows misfits Zed (Jack Black) and Oh (Michael Cera) after they are kicked out of their tribe and set out to find bigger and better things. Something that throws me off right off the bat is that there cavemen. I thought this was supposed to be biblical times? Did these two kinds of societies really coexist in the same setting or era? I guess they thought that putting a caveman spin on this would be funny… They were wrong. Another thing is if this is supposed to be a biblical comedy then where’s all the satire on religion? It’s like they include characters like Cain and Abel but they have no idea what to do with them they’re just there. Then you have Abraham who’s just obsessed with cutting foreskin and that’s it. I mean they couldn’t of done more research or included more biblical references? There’s hardly enough here to call this a “biblical comedy” the whole setting is just ripe for parody but I suppose they’re more interested in fart jokes.

So what’s there to like? Well I’m a big Jack Black fan and he as usual brings a great deal of enthusiasm. Not to mention Michael Cera’s typical nervous teenager shtick is always good for a chuckle. Oliver Platt is also a standout as the overly flamboyant high priest but I’d say that’s about it. Why great comedic talents like Paul Rudd and Bill Hader are wasted in this crap I have no idea. Most of the cast appears to do their best with the material but this film just can’t be saved. For the most part I blame the bad script. Not only does the story have no idea where it’s going but scenes seem to be set up for no real purpose. For instance there are at least two sequences where Michael Cera is pitted against a deadly animal (one time a snake and another a cougar) and then the movie just cuts ahead before we see how he escaped from the sticky situation. If I learned anything from screenwriting classes, it’s that a scene must serve a purpose “To move the story ahead”, so what were they thinking? They weren’t because this movie is just about as clever as my post title.