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The Dangerous Minds last-minute shopping guide for rock snobs, audiophiles & culture vultures
12.19.2014
10:03 am

Topics:
Pop Culture

Tags:
Christmas


 
Every year I try to compile a list of the stuff that I’d be happy to get if I didn’t already have it. I’m a difficult person to buy for—I edit a popular blog, so people send me free stuff every single day. Truly I want for nothing when it comes to pop culture products, so I think this list might actually be useful if you’ve got someone infuriatingly difficult to buy for on your Christmas list…

Books

My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles (edited by Peter Biskind) One of the best books I’ve read all year, one of the best books I’ve read period, My Lunches with Orson is a delight from cover to cover. Bitchy, gossipy, profound, funny, wise, egotistical, self-doubting—this book—culled from transcripts of dozens of hours of tapes—probably represents the final great trove of undiscovered Wellesiana. I pray for a sequel and an audiobook version!

The Graphic Art of the Underground: A Countercultural History (Bloomsbury) Ian Lowey and Suzy Prince’s book takes an ambitious survey through the decades of the underground press, psychedelic poster art, punk graphics, album covers, “lowbrow” pop surrealism, the work of Jamie Reid, R. Crumb, Linder Sterling, Winston Smith, Gee Vaucher and more, legitimizing rebel visions and putting them in their proper historical context.
 
 

Conspiracy theories 101: Two great books from Feral House that I could not put down this year were The Essential Mae Brussell: Investigations of Fascism in America, a reader of the written work of the mother of all conspiracy theorists, Mae Brussell (she was normally a radio broadcaster in the 70s and 80s, do a search for her on YouTube and it’ll send you down a rabbit hole from which you will take months to return from) and Caught in the Crossfire: Kerry Thornley, Oswald and the Garrison Investigation by Adam Gorightly about the man who was Lee Harvey Oswald’s one time army buddy as well as being the co-founder of the joke religion of Discordianism popularized by Robert Anton Wilson. I was already a huge fan of Gorightly’s earlier Thornley bio, The Prankster and the Conspiracy and this expanded book really sucked me in with its twisted plot. Wait, plot? This is a biography!

Original Art

Cal Schenkel’s amazingly cheap art sale: Long associated with Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, American artist Cal Schenkel has created some of the most striking, freaky and enduringly classic images ever seen on album covers. I’m a big admirer of his work and I was floored to find out how inexpensive his prints—and even his paintings—are going for on his site. Any Zappa or Beefheart nuts in your life? They will love you long time for a piece of art from the great Cal Schenkel!

Music

Speaking of Beefheart, there’s also Sun, Zoom, Spark: 1970 to 1972—this excellent new box set collects the Magic Band’s classic early 70s albums Lick My Decals Off, Baby, The Spotlight Kid and Clear Spot along with a fourth CD of primo, never before heard out-takes. The sound quality of this is exquisite and at long last there’s a version of Clear Spot on CD that doesn’t cut off the last part of the “long lunar note” at the end of “Big Eyed Beans from Venus.” Sacrilege!

If you haven’t noticed—and it would be easy not to, because the format isn’t showing up in many retail outlets yet, mostly just Amazon—over the course of the past two years UMe, the catalog division of Universal Music Group that puts out all of those “super deluxe” sets of classic albums, has started releasing high definition Blu-ray “Pure Audio” discs. These BD discs should be considered as close to the master tape, as heard in the recording studio, as is possible to recreate and experience in your own home. In terms of their HD-DTS Master Audio or Dolby TrueHD tracks, it’s probably not possible to give any more definition to a digital audio signal and expect the human ear to be able to detect it.

So far UMe’s roster of “High Fidelity Blu-ray Pure Audio” discs includes stalwart titles like Nirvana’s Nevermind and In Utero, Supertramp’s Breakfast in America, Miles Davis’ soundtrack album for Louis Malle’s L’Ascenseur Pour L’Echafaud, White Light/White Heat and The Velvet Underground & Nico, Stevie Wonder’s Songs In The Key of Life, Derek & The Dominos’ Layla & Other Assorted Love Songs, Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On, the fifty song Rolling Stones GRRR! comp, Let It Bleed, and Exile On Main St., Ella & Louis, I Put A Spell On You by Nina Simone, Selling England By The Pound by Genesis, John Lennon’s Imagine, Queen’s A Night At The Opera, Grace Jones’ Nightclubbing, Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire De Melody Nelson and a handful of jazz and classical offerings, about fifty in all. 5.1 surround mixes of The Who’s Quadrophenia and an expanded version of the Legend collection of Bob Marley’s greatest hits came out this summer via UMe and the label also released a three BD set of three complete 1970 Allman Brothers concerts at the Fillmore East.

The UMe BD releases, especially the ones with 5.1 surround mixes (which sadly ain’t all of ‘em) are nothing short of stunning. The two best that I’ve heard, in terms of their audiophile ability to knock your socks off are Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (you can actually hear the sound of his foot on the pedal of his grand piano) and Beck’s Sea Change (I normally don’t care about Beck, but this album is the first thing I grab to demonstrate the possibilities of high resolution surround sound.)

Another audiophile Blu-ray release of 2014 that was in the “speed rack” next to the stereo for most of the year is Rhino’s CSNY 1974 box set of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young’s mid-70s stadium tour. Graham Nash personally supervised the mix and it sounds phenomenal. The performances are great, too. It’s so good that the first time I put it on, I listened to the entire thing in one sitting (it’s three hours long) and then when it was done, started it over again and played it all the way through a second time.

It’s a late entry, but the third installment of UME’s stellar Velvet Underground sets The Velvet Underground - 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition is another winner, in fact, as great as the first two have been, I rate this one the highest due to the inclusion of the sparkling live material from the Matrix (which was even recorded in multitrack making it arguably the very best sounding live VU set we have.) The 64-track, six-CD package is housed in a hardback book and features several 1969 recordings that were supposed to be for the band’s fourth album, but that ended up rerecorded on Loaded and Lou Reed’s first two solo albums. Those same numbers came out in the 1980s on VU and Another View, but they sounded weak and this release greatly improves upon them.

William S. Burroughs-related

This year, the centennial of his birth, saw continuing fascination with the life and work of William S. Burroughs. I recently finished reading Barry Miles’ exhaustive Call Me Burroughs: A Life, which is, and is likely to remain, the single best WSB biography. It’s 635 pages with extensive endnotes. Another Burroughs biography of a decidedly more narrow scope than Miles’ 635 page book that I also enjoyed reading in 2014 is Scientologist!: William S. Burroughs and the ‘Weird Cult’ by David S. Willis. This book covers—in scholarly detail—Burroughs fascination with Scientology. Although it is widely known that the author was at one time Scientology’s #1 enemy, writing scathing criticisms in the underground press and men’s magazines, what is less known and understood is how deeply into the ideas of L. Ron Hubbard he really was. And for quite a while, too. Sets the record straight. Burroughs was a “Clear”!

Additionally, one of the most exciting developments in Burroughs scholarship in recent years is represented by the two books by Malcolm McNeil, his close collaborator on Ah Pook is Here, an ambitious graphic novel project from the early 70s that would never see the light of day. McNeil’s Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me is the memoir part of what amounts to a two volume set, while The Lost Art of Ah Pook Is Here is a large, glossy coffee table book collecting the gorgeous finished art and sketches of the project. No fan of WSB, unusual art or a compelling narrative (McNeil is a very good writer) will be unhappy with getting these books from you, but you should gift them both as they really go together.

Give the gift of binge watching: “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman!”


Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series (Shout Factory) I received this last year and I am now about 2/3 of the way through it. If I only got the MH, MH box set (38 DVDs, 325 episodes, plus ten episodes of Fernwood 2Night with Martin Mull and Fred Willard) in 2013, it would still would have been my best Christmas ever. It is astonishing how well this show has aged, and just how far ahead of its time the humor was, too. In a longer post about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, I said that this long lost, fondly-recalled series was arriving just in time for the binge watching generation and I am still enjoying it immensely over a year later. In a category of its own.

$$$$ (These next items are “big gifts” and would only be appropriate for someone who you really, really like)

The Complete Zap Comix box set. There is no way, none, that this hefty (23 lbs!) box set of the classic underground comic would fail to impress your loved one. Showcased in five sturdy volumes housed in an oversized box, the classic work of Robert Crumb, S. Clay Wilson, Robert Williams, “Spain” Rodriguez, Gilbert Shelton, Victor Moscoso, Rick Griffin and Paul Mavrides has never looked better and has been cleaned up nicely for this high quality publication. It even comes with beautiful lithographs of every Zap cover in a special portfolio. I’ve reviewed this beauty at length here, so I will send you there for more information. My favorite thing of the year, hands down.
 



 
This one is pricey, but it’s worth it: the OPPO BDP-105D Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Player Darbee Edition, the Swiss army knife of fine sound and vision. Forget about how amazing it sounds (and looks—it does 4k upscaling on the video) and the quality of the build—like an Apple product—I find this player especially useful for music on USB drives. If you’ve got a lot of high quality digital music, this player will change your life. It’s got all sorts of bells and whistles that make getting something like this on Christmas day comparable to getting an entirely new record collection, because every single thing you own is going to sound better played on it. Even some vinyl die-hards are coming around to digital when it sounds as good as it does coming out of the OPPO BDP-105D Universal Audiophile 3D Blu-ray Player Darbee Edition. (Read the top reviewer, you’ll be salivating over this thing. It’s what convinced me to pull the trigger.)
 

 
Pioneer put out a line of low cost speakers designed by their chief speaker engineer Andrew Jones, a man known for making speakers that sell for $70k and now audiophile who can afford speakers that expensive find themselves preferring these popular boxes. Jones set himself the challenge to make the best possible speaker for the lowest possible price utilizing Pioneer’s vast resources, bulk purchasing power and production chain. The result is that the various models in the line of Andrew Jones Designed speakers have absolutely mind-blowing sound for a fraction of what it normally costs to buy sound gear this crazy good. A pair of Jones’ bookshelf speakers—perhaps the best smaller speakers I have ever heard—cost just $125. Two of the towers will set you back $260, but the sound is pretty priceless if you ask me.

And finally, another item from last year that’s returning to this year’s: Dangerous Minds pal Alexander Rosson is the CEO and chief scientist/inventor behind the high end Audeze headphone line. The brand has been given every audiophile award under the sun in 2014. I describe them as being a bit like having tiny Magneplanars strapped to your head.. While Audeze headphones are certainly not cheap, it could be argued that for someone who aspires to own a $20,000 dollar stereo, but will never be able to afford it, these puppies are actually quite a bargain and built for a lifetime of use. The Audeze cans are featherlight and covered in supersoft leather. If Audeze are the Bentley of headphones, then Beats would be like… the Pinto.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Making Wham’s ‘Last Christmas’ eight times as long yields a minor ambient masterpiece
12.16.2014
07:14 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
George Michael
Wham


 
It’s December 16, and If you’re a human being in the western world, you’re probably sick to death of Wham’s synthy 1984 classic “Last Christmas” by now. I argue that it’s the last song ever released to enter the Christmas canon—a friend recently argued for Mariah Carey’s 1994 song “All I Want For Christmas Is You,” but I disqualify it on the basis that it’s a fuck-song, it’s a song about fucking your boyfriend, it’s not really about Christmas at all.

Anyway, “Last Christmas.” Had enough of it yet? If you have, you may find the antidote in this YouTube video, in which someone had the genius idea of slowing down the song to a length of nearly 36 minutes, which works really well. Then it sounds like some kind of 1990s dance music, like The Orb or Autechre or somebody. Slowing it down by a factor of 8 gives the sparkly and tinkly yuletime anthem an oceanic, Eno-esque aura. Sure, it’s not Bauhaus’ “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” stretched out to a brain-pulverizing nine hours, but then, what is? You have to take such pleasures where they come.
 

 
via Das Kraftfuttermischwerk

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Christmas goes down the crapper (or ‘I’m dreaming of a brown Christmas???’)
12.12.2014
09:44 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Christmas
kitsch
toilets


Arguably the most “high-end” model, this Santa Claus toilet decor exhibits the closest attention to detail.
 
The original inspiration for a holiday post was this amazing piece of dinosaur-themed Chanukah paraphernalia—the Menorasaurus Rex. Hoping this objet d’art would lead me to a glut of tacky Chanukah kitsch, I scanned Etsy for similar crafts, only to find a disappointingly tasteful (and sometimes downright sublime) array of Menorahs. At the risk of sounding biased, I’ve arrived at the conclusion that when it comes to holidays, no one does garish quite like the Christians.

Unfortunately, lurid displays of Christmas cheer are so predictable, it’s difficult in this day and age to find anything that even registers as gaudy anymore; A Charlie Brown Christmas was bemoaning the spectacle and commercialization back in 1965, and it’s certainly only gotten worse since then. But just when you think you’ve become completely desensitized to Christmas branding, you come across a product—nay, a slew of products—trying to cash in on the season with what can only be described as a virulent animus towards good taste.

Behold, the Freudian fever dream of anthropomorphic Christmas-themed toilet decor. These festive loo accouterments depict reindeer, Frosty and even Jolly Old Saint Nick himself as the guardians—the repositories even—of human waste, and apparently there is a subset of people for whom this idea is “cute.” If you’re one of those people, bless your flagrant disregard for decency. If you’re aspiring to be one of those people, I also threw in some (less literal) Santa-specific bathroom decor at the end, just in case you weren’t ready to commit to evacuating your bowels into Santa’s waiting mouth. This, ladies and gentleman, is why—despite my admittedly boring atheism—I will always refer to myself as “culturally Protestant.” We are the John Waters of religions and I can’t help but be a little proud of our relentless vulgarity. I mean, why treat religion like it’s something sacred?
 

A lower rent version, made all the more disturbing by the fact he has his tongue out.
 

Poor reindeer. Just because they’re animals, doesn’t mean deserve this foul indignity.
 

As members of the exploited proletariat, you sort of expect elves to deal with a lot of shit—albeit usually less literally.
 

Frosty awaits his fate with a stoic smile.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Hilarious holiday T-shirts mimic awful Christmas sweaters with pot belly, chest hair
12.09.2014
06:51 am

Topics:
Fashion

Tags:
Christmas
t-shirts


 
I really dig these crass Christmas shirts. They’re the perfect holiday garb for anyone who’s too cheap to spring for an actual ugly Christmas sweater…..
 

Hairy Belly Poinsettia Sweater T-Shirt, $17.22
 

Christmas Frisky Deer Faux Sweater T-Shirt, $21
 

Bad Santa T-Shirt, $17
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Ugly Xmas sweaters inspired by ‘Gremlins’ and ‘Fargo’
10.17.2014
12:17 pm

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Christmas

Gremlins Christmas sweater by Mondo
 
The mad minds over at Mondo have really outdone themselves when it comes to the world of knitwear. In May they released “The MONDO 237 Collection” a selection of wearables and home decor that homaged The Shining.

Now that sweater weather has arrived again, Mondo has put out two new items; a sweater tribute to the 1984 film Gremlins and the 1996’s Fargo. Both will make great gifts for your nerdy sister or easily help you win you any ugly sweater contest in Anytown, USA. Each sweater retails for $85 bucks and pre-orders are going on now over at Mondo’s merch shop.
 
Gremlins Christmas sweater (back view) by Mondo
Gremlins sweater (back view)
 
Fargo Christmas sweater by Mondo
 
Fargo Christmas sweater (back view) by Mondo
Fargo sweater (back view)

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Merry Crassmas’: Have an anarcho-punk holiday (or Santa died for somebody’s sins, but not mine)
12.26.2013
06:33 pm

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Christmas
Crass


 
Considering that this is the only Christmas song I can thing of that hopes you choke on your turkey, it’s probably better to post this one the day after Christmas….

In 1981, anarcho-punk heroes Crass had had about enough of the increasingly commercialized holiday season—not to mention the mass slaughter of turkeys each year—and decided to protest musically with a Casiotone medley of some of their best-loved numbers. The two-sided single, “Merry Crassmas,” was the result.

“Merry Crassmas” was credited to “Creative Recording and Sound Services.” On the picture sleeve, ringing Gee Vaucher’s distinctive art were these words:

COLD TURKEY ONE. VERY MERRY CRASSMAS. HERE’S AN AMAZING XMAS MEDLEY OF CRASS’S GREATEST HITS. SUPER FUN FOR ALL THE FAMILY. PLUS…SUPER FUN TIME COMPETITION THAT EVERYONE CAN JOIN IN. HERE’S WHAT YOU DO…IT’S EASY. JUST LIST, IN ORDER, THE TITLES OF THE EXCITING CRASS SONGS ON THIS RECORD. THE FIRST THREE CORRECT POSTCARDS TO BE RECEIVED WILL BE SENT THE FOLLOWING GREAT PRIZES…1ST PRIZE… BATHSALTS, 2ND PRIZE…ONE EXPLOITED SINGLE, 3RD PRIZE…TWO EXPLOITED SINGLES. HAVE FUN. SEND ENTRIES TO “CRASSMAS COMPETITION.” PO BOX 279. LONDON N22.

Please note that back in 1981, kids, “bath salts” actually meant bath salts like you would put in your bath—not a drug that will make you want to eat people’s faces off—a shitty prize, in other words. I like how third place gets two Exploited singles!

Side A:
Jingle Bells
Big A, Little A
Punk is Dead
Big Hands
Contaminational Power
I Ain’t Thick, It’s Just a Trick
Nagasaki Nightmare
While Shepherds Watched

Side B:
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Securicor
Darling
G’s Song
Banned from the Roxy
Tired
So what
Silent Night

One of only two Christmas records I own. True!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
A progrock Xmas: ‘I Believe in Father Christmas’
12.25.2013
08:13 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
Greg Lake


 
In 1975, Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s Greg Lake and ELP/King Crimson lyricist, Pete Sinfield wrote a darkly pretty number about the over-commercialization of Christmas. At least that’s what Greg Lake said the song was about. Sinfield, who actually wrote the lyrics, begged to differ and has stated the song is about the loss of childish beliefs.

It could go either way: “I Believe in Father Christmas” is most certainly unique, a Christmas song that could be taken to heart equally by a Christian or an atheist. Most often, the song was interpreted as being anti-religious: “And they sold me a fairy story until I believed in the Israelite.” The vocal performance straddles the line, at turns wistful and sincere or just blunt, foiling easy interpretation.

Greg Lake has always maintained surprise that it’s turned out to be considered somewhat of a Christmas season classic due to the dark tone of the song (It wishes listeners a “hopeful Christmas” and a “brave” new year). The original video, with its “heavy, man” scenes of American bombers in Vietnam (not included in this edit), was shot in the Sinai Desert and was apparently controversial in some quarters when it was shown on television. ELP re-recorded the song in 1977 on their Works, Volume 2 album and have returned to it again over the years.

“I Believe in Father Christmas” did not make it to #1 on the British chart, a spot Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” kept it from, but the song has been covered by numerous performers, including U2 and Sarah Brightman. It was even (slightly) parodied by “Weird Al” Yankovic in “The Night Santa Went Crazy.” The orchestral motif is from Prokofiev’s “Lieutenant Kije Suite.”
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
The Monkees want to wish you a Merry Christmas, 1967
12.25.2013
07:50 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
Monkees


 
The Monkees singing a beautiful a capella version of the traditional Spanish Christmas carol, “Ríu, Chíu,” from their TV Christmas special in 1967.

And no, that’s not a joint that Peter Tork is holding, it’s a stick of incense.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Merry Krautrockmas: Can do ‘Silent Night,’ 1976
12.24.2013
09:49 am

Topics:
Music

Tags:
Christmas
Krautrock
Can


 
No, seriously, Can recorded “Silent Night”! Not even they were immune to the siren call of a calculated yuletide ploy, I suppose, but “Silent Night”?

Just now I played this for my wife and asked “Who do you think this is?”. Without missing a beat, she said flatly “Can.”

I’m a very lucky man!
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Wham!‘s ‘Last Christmas’ is much better when it’s slowed…way down
12.23.2013
07:54 am

Topics:
Amusing

Tags:
Christmas
Wham


 
This is exactly how I like my Christmas music. Totally unrecognizable as Christmas music.
 

 
Via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘A Synthesizer for Christmas’: Your new claymation holiday classic, with keytar!
12.21.2013
07:57 am

Topics:
Animation

Tags:
Christmas
synthesiers

moog
 
Me, I’m all about creating “new traditions,” so can we add this cute animated ode to synthesizers to our yearly holiday viewing? My Christmas wishes were always full of DEVO and New Order!
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
I saw Santa being crucified: Have a gawk at the most controversial Christmas decoration in Texas
12.20.2013
05:23 am

Topics:
Amusing
Current Events

Tags:
Christmas
Santa Claus

santacruci.jpg
 
It must have been a quiet day at 6 News when they reported on complaints over the bloody effigy of a crucified Santa Claus, exhibited outside a house in Corpus Christi, Texas. According to a local news report, the nailed-up Santa is being described as offensive and inappropriate by some local residents.

But Aaron Olivares, who created the display, claims his crucified Santa is just “a Christmas ornament.”

“It’s December, it’s Christmas time. It is just a Christmas ornament.”

6 News were not to be so easily fobbed off by such festive excuses, and reporter Heather Jackson probed deeper, wondering if there was not something far more sacrilegious (perhaps even something Satanic?) going on with this bloody-faced, “zombie” Santa, nailed to a cross and topped with a crown of barbwire. But Olivares proved to be intransigent to questioning:

Aaron: “The crown of barbwire? A little more decoration. That is about it.”

Heather: “You never thought about the Jesus reference or..?”

Aaron: “Naw, it really, it didn’t come to me like that, I didn’t see nothing offensive on it…It’s nothing Satanic it is just decorations for Christmas.”

When asked whether it could be construed as being offensive to Christians, Olivares said no, claiming he was religious:

“I’m Christian, I mean there is a God and there is a devil.”

But some local residents do think it is offensive, like Rick Mesa:

“The cross is the big thing. The cross. Santa Claus is you know well, you can put Santa Claus on a hood, put Santa Claus on your roof, put Santa Claus in your yard, why put him on a cross?”

Though some neighbors don’t seem to mind, like Blanca Perelta, who lives directly across the street.

“It doesn’t really bother me. Everyone likes it who brings me home. My friends all joke about it.”

Either way, Aaron Olivares isn’t moved:

“Get out of my yard. If you don’t like it ... don’t drive by here.”

Aaron’s a Gadsden flag in human form. Don’t tread on him! Dude don’t care what you think.
 

 
Via Arbroath

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
The Dangerous Minds foolproof last minute shopping guide for hard to buy for ‘rock snobs’
12.19.2013
02:48 pm

Topics:
Books
Music
Pop Culture

Tags:
Christmas


 
There’s less than a week left before Christmas. You’ve got someone on your list who is really difficult to buy for? A sophisticate?

We’ve got you covered.

Yesterday I remarked to my wife that if I stacked up all of the amazing stuff I’ve been sent in just the past two months alone from publishers, publicists, and record labels, it would far surpass my best Christmas haul… ever. Some of it I asked for, but most of it came unbidden. Every day’s post saw a crazy new treat arrive.



Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult Dayal Patterson (Feral House). I found this book as fascinating as I found a new issue of RE/Search or Mondo 2000 when I was younger. I’m putting this book at #1 on my list because, believe it or not, I think it would appeal to the largest cross section of people. Me, I didn’t give a shit about Black Metal, but when I opened the package and pulled this book out, I sat right down and read the majority of it in one sitting. If you want the satisfaction of seeing your rock snob friend, lover or relative sit down on Christmas day and bury their nose in YOUR gift, go with Black Metal: Evolution of the Cult. You’ll find a more in-depth review here.



Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman: The Complete Series (Shout Factory) I received this a few weeks ago and we’re already, as of last night, 81 episodes into it. If I only got the MH, MH box set (38 DVDs, 325 episodes, plus ten episodes of Fernwood 2Night with Martin Mull and Fred Willard) this year, it would still be my best Christmas ever. It is astonishing how well this show has aged, and just how far ahead of its time the humor was, too. In a longer post about Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, I said that this long lost, fondly-recalled series was arriving just in time for the binge watching generation and owing from the way Tara and I have been ravenously devouring it, I’d have think that there’s going to be a full-on MH, MH cult revival coming soon. By the time it gets onto Netflix streaming, well, forget about it. (I also predict “Mary Hartman” will be a popular Halloween costume next year for hipsters—male and female alike—mark my words…)



White Light/White Heat 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition The Velvet Underground (UMe) The second installment of Universal’s “Super Deluxe” VU reissues, White Light/White Heat has surely never sounded better, but it’s the inclusion of the stunning 1967 live show from The Gymnasium that’s the crown jewel of this set. Read more here and listen to “I’m Not a Young Man Anymore,” one of the most amazing VU performances you’re ever going to hear.



Fanfare Jonathan Wilson (Downtown) I’m already on record as calling Fanfare the best and most important album of 2013 and I will stand by those words (and direct you to my original review here). I do want to mention here, though, that Wilson is a total analog freak in the studio and his vinyl releases are done to a very exacting standard (and weigh a lot). Vinyl head on your shopping list this year? Go for the two-record set of Fanfare.



Instant Replay Deluxe Edition The Monkees (Rhino Handmade) I played this so many times in the weeks after I got it that I thought my wife might break it if I didn’t let up. Instant Replay came out after the Monkees TV series was cancelled—and Peter Tork was gone by then, too—although many of the numbers were recorded prior. The album, as originally released in 1969, was somewhat uneven, but with the inclusion of several great extras, I’d give this an A-. It’s not the best Monkees album, no, but it certainly still deserves to stand alongside their earlier albums that everyone knows. “Someday Man,” “You and I” (a Davy penned song with backing from Neil Young on guitar) and the inclusion of nearly all of Mike Nesmith’s “Nashville Sessions” made this, for me, a must have.



Moondance Deluxe Edition Van Morrison (Warner Bros.) I posted about this the other day, so I’ll keep it brief. Classic album, one of the all time greats of the rock era, but you already knew that. Four CDs of a nicely remastered stereo Moondance, alternate mixes, discarded takes and mono versions. For me, though, the glorious 5.1 surround mix by one of the recordings’ original engineers, Elliot Scheiner, is the main event (on a Blu-ray in high quality HD DTS so you can really hear the difference, too).



Comme à la Radio Brigitte Fontaine (Superior Viaduct) This album is one of the most far out things I’ve ever heard. The (to say the least) eccentric Fontaine teams up with The Art Ensemble of Chicago, employing their unique talents to realize her bohemian Beatnik musical vision—a kind of wild, arrhythmic, Arabic free jazz—that brings to mind PiL, Serge Gainsbourg and The Master Musicians of Joujouka in various measures. If you want the satisfaction of seeing your giftee forcing this album on all their musically inclined mates, go with Comme à la radio, on CD or deluxe vinyl from Superior Viaduct.



Theres a Riot Going On: Gold Edition Sly and The Family Stone (Get On Down/EPIC) Well-known for their super creative packaging, the folks at Get On Down did not disappoint with this deluxe gold disc release of this mind-crushing classic. There’s a Riot Goin’ On is never going to sound truly “great” from an audiophile point of view—the tracks of the master tapes were recorded and re-recorded on too many time for that—this is probably the best sounding version there is. With a nice full color hardback book essay on the album and an embroidered cloth patch of the cover’s black, white and red flag, this is a sweet collector’s trophy piece.



Recollection “Le Ducks Box Set” Neil Innes (Neil Innes.org) One of the things I listened to the most in 2013 was this absolutely stellar three disc, one DVD collection of material from the Innes Book of Records TV series. I did a long interview with Neil Innes over email about this release—only available at his website—so I will direct you to that post, which has plenty of fantastic video clips. If there is a Monty Python fan on your shopping list, this one is, for sure, a knockout of a gift.


Cal Schenkel’s amazingly cheap art sale: Long associated with Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart, American artist Cal Schenkel has created some of the most striking, freaky and enduringly classic images ever seen on album covers. I’m a big admirer of his work and I was floored to find out how inexpensive his prints—and even his paitings—are going for on his site. Any Zappa or Beefheart nuts in your life? They will love you long time for a piece of art from the great Cal Schenkel!



The Rock Snob’s Dictionary: An Essential Lexicon of Rockological Knowledge David Kamp and Steven Daly (Three Rivers Press) Evocative title, eh? An amusing A-Z of exactly what you think it’s about. Co-author Daly (who did a guest turn on the Dangerous Minds Radio Hour and was the original drummer for Orange Juice) is an old pal of mine. He told me when the book was published that it was 1/3 based on my record collection, so with that in mind—and since they coined the phrase—I can recommend this one unreservedly as a sweet stocking stuffer.


SONOS speakers. Like I was saying earlier, this has been a wonderfully bountiful holiday season pour moi, and (by far) the biggest reason for that is the two rooms worth of wireless audio gear that SONOS’ ace marketeer Austin Brown sent my way. I’ve got a SONOS surround system in the bedroom (it would have been very awkward to use wired speakers in that particular room, so these were quite welcome, I can assure you) and two SONOS Play:5 speakers that are flanking me on either side as I type this. The first thing I played when I hooked these babies up was “The Suit” by Public Image Ltd., a song that’s practically a part of my DNA I’ve listened to it so many times, and sure enough, I heard things I have never heard before with the Play:5s, which are just incredible. The SONOS subwoofer weighs about 40 lbs! They have SONOS listening stations at Target, so you can check them out there. I reckon they’re some of the best sounding speakers I’ve ever heard, engineered from the ground up by some very smart people. (A big thank you here for Mr. Chris Holmes.)


Speaking of speakers and smart people, Alexander Rosson is the CEO and chief scientist/inventor behind the high end Audeze headphone line. While Audeze headphones are pretty pricey—the top model, the LCD-3 sells for $1945.00—they are actually worth it. A bit like having tiny Magneplanars strapped to your head, it could be argued that for someone who aspired to own a $20,000 dollar stereo, but will never be able to afford it, that these puppies are actually a bargain. The Audeze cans are featherlight and covered in supersoft leather. If Audeze are the Bentley of headphones, then Beats would be like the Pinto.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Color photos of Nazi Christmas party attended by Adolf Hitler
12.19.2013
06:11 am

Topics:
History

Tags:
Christmas
Nazis

Nazi X-Mas
 
My original plan for this post was a silly little holiday essay, something to give us a laugh, something flip.

I love flip. I excel at flip. But these pictures elicit such a deep discomfort. LIFE never published them, and there’s no date or context for the party. The mood seems, er, cheerful and the colors are seasonally bright; I’m just not sure I’ve ever seen something so apparently mundane manifest with such implied menace.

Don’t worry. I’ll write you something flip tomorrow.
 
Nazi X-Mas
 
Nazi X-Mas
 
Nazi X-mas
 
Nazi X-Mas
 
Nazi X-mas
 
Via The Wall Breakers

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
This dude has a lock on ‘Christmas song of 2013’
12.16.2013
06:57 pm

Topics:
Kooks

Tags:
Christmas


 
“Is it Merry Christmas Or Happy Holiday?” asks Larry Massey, in song and in verse.

Nine days left. Who can possibly top Larry’s heartfelt war on the war on Christmas? Beyonce?

Get real.

I do think he could have done a little bit more with the video, though. If Larry is this handy on a Casiotone, just imagine what he could do with After Effects (or the Video Toaster for that matter).
 

 
Via Christian Nightmares

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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