Man, oh, man. It is shaping up to be yet another great summer for music for me. It started right on time at the beginning of this month. While I was anticipating the new Beat Crusaders album coming out this coming Wednesday (May 30th, 2007, natch), The Pillows went and threw me a curve ball by releasing a new album. I didn't even know they were coming out with a new one, but... there it was, all shiny and new.
The Album is called "Wake Up! Wake Up! Wake Up!" and it could damn well be the best album of the summer already. Their last album, the 2006 "My Foot", was obstinately a fall/winter album in mood and content. The final song of that disc, "Gazelle City", even had the chorus, "Come on sunshine, lift me up". They were all too ready for summer and the new album delivers on that vibe in spades.
Right out of the box, they ratchet up the free feeling punk of "Wake Up! Dodo"; their latest single. The follow up, "YOUNGSTER (Kent Arrow)" then digs in with a deliriously jittery pogo-infested dance vibe. The mood then shifts slightly to the beyond grotty sounding "PROPOSE" and on and on to the killer finale, "Sweet Baggy Days" which features a protracted coda and some startling vocal work from Vocalist Sawao Yamanaka. I never knew he had such a wide vocal range.
Simply put, this is top down, crusin' the shoreline music. The Pillows are easily the sexiest, most seductive sounding punk band I've ever heard.
Similarly an incredible summer band, Britain's McFLY have re-released their last album "Motion In The Ocean" in a slightly expanded, re tracked edition with a full length Concert DVD from Wembley Arena in late 2006; recorded right before the release of MITO. It would have been worth enough the purchase just for the new single, "Baby's Coming Back," with it's Partridge Family/ Lovin' Spoonful sound and the reinsertion of their cover of Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" (which only appeared as a bonus track on the first pressing of MITO), but the real keeper is the DVD. It's just astounding. Truly. Their last Concert DVD was a good show, but it was during the "Wonderland" tour; the weakest of their three albums. This DVD, however, is sheer bliss.
They take the stage to the melody of Ennio Morricone's "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" in a nod to the Ramones' stage entrance during their final few tours. They then proceed to tear up the (mostly) teen age girls in the audience with a mix of hits and new tracks from the MITO album. They even try their hands at two modern classics, "Fight For Your Right (To Party)" (yep, the Beastie Boys!) and Ray Parker, Jr.'s "Ghostbusters". Don't roll your eyes, though, they take them both into the stratosphere. A great moment is hearing them play "I Wanna Hold You" with the original doomsday lyrics that were changed to a softer set of lyrics after the initial pressing of their second album, "Wonderland". Throw in a Beach Medley of songs from their first album, "Room on the 3rd Floor" and a drum based bit torn straight out of a production of "Stomp" and you have a truly entertaining 80 minute concert film. It's so good, in fact, that I'd have loved to have had a CD of the show ala the "Live and Off The Record" CD/DVD set from Shakira.
In the 1970's, the soundtrack to this DVD would have been bigger than "Cheap Trick at Budokan". No shit. Highly, highly recommended for anyone who loves great pop music.
Well, goddam if Fox Video didn't do the world a great service the other week. They went and not only re-released last great rock and roll movie of the 20th century on DVD, but they released it as a Director's Cut with 40... you read it right, 40 additional minutes of footage; clocking the running time to a whopping 2 and one half hours!
The film I'm speaking of is Tom Hanks' directorial debut, "That Thing You Do!" I'm not lying to you when I say that I truly believe it is one of, if not THE, last great rock and roll movie of the 20th century. This is one of those perfect movies. Everything falls into place perfectly, from the sets and locales to the actors and the script. It is done to the strictest specifications of the universe. It is that perfect. The movie, in short, is just meant to be.
So, Terry, you're probably thinking, if the film is soooooo perfect, then why would a Director's Cut be in order? Damn it, I don't know, but somehow, the movie is improved on a great many levels. I wouldn't subject anyone to this cut for a first time viewing, but after someone has seen the theatrical version, I would tell them to see the Director's Cut as soon as possible. In addition to the joy of simply spending more time with these beloved characters, the film expounds on many things that may leave the viewer wondering after a couple of viewings. No, they still don't explain who U Thant is, but you do get a better idea of why Guy keeps saying "I AM SPARTACUS!" over and over.
It's easy to see why the cuts were made. The first half hour takes too long to get things moving and the last half hour seems to take too long to wrap things up. That, of course, is where most of the cuts were made. Still, for the patient viewer, these scenes enrich the movie greatly. Simply put, the original cut is much more of a rock movie and the extended cut leans more to a period piece than anything else.
Unfortunately, there are no commentary tracks and both Tom Hanks and Liv Tyler are absent from the current interviews, but all of the Original Wonders are on hand, as is Charlize Theron, who I found to be very open and funny as well as delightfully deadpan in her interviews. The reunion feature actually looks like a reunion (instead of a promo piece) and gives the viewer the feeling that "That Thing You Do!" really meant a lot to everyone, even 11 years on.
Other features are repeated from the previous DVD release, save for the feature called, "The Wonders In Japan", where the actors were treated as a real band as they lip synced on talk shows and the like. Unfortunately, the International trailers from the first release aren't there (And they are a hoot) and there should have been a feature on the people who created the music. OK! Time to let it out, kids! Mike Viola is the lead vocal on most of the Wonders' songs. He's wonderful and you should go and buy all of his records. http://www.mikeviola.com/
DO IT NOW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!!!
Here's a documentary on Mike Viola that I uploaded to You Tube. Yes, Mike's cool with it. I consulted him.
That's all. Terry gone.