Apocalyptica Plays Metallica Live: Album Review

When I listened to Apocalyptica’s first album when I was in high school, I was impressed. I’d listened to classical re-arrangements of rock music in the past – my parents own “The Baroque Beatles Book” – but I’d never been impressed by them. It always felt like they (whoever did the arrangement) mapped the various notes 1-for-1 with other parts from the original performance (with either brass or violins for vocals). Apocalyptica, on the other hand, felt like more of a clear re-interpretation.

Continue reading “Apocalyptica Plays Metallica Live: Album Review”

Initial Thoughts on Hawkwind’s Quark, Strangeness and Charm

Quark, Strangeness & Charm is Hawkwind’s first album after a big shakeup in the band – one of the drummers (Alan Powell), and the vocalist, saxophonist, and flutist Nik Turner were out, and bassist Paul Rudolph had been replaced by Adrian Shaw (and Lemmy had left well before this). It’s also the second of the Hawkwind albums that were included in Record Store Day a while back.

Continue reading “Initial Thoughts on Hawkwind’s Quark, Strangeness and Charm”

Film Review: Stop Making Sense

Live music is theater. Yes, live music is often seen in a theater, but they the act of performing music publically is, in some manner or another, theatrical. It’s a performance that seeks to tell a story or convey an emotion through music. Some genres of music try to lean away from this, like folk or punk (though arguably punk leans so far away from theatricality that it ends up accidentally leaning into theatricality). Others, like metal, prog, and some parts of pop lean into it, either through telling a deliberate story or through the presentation. Stop Making Sense definitely fits into the latter category. Continue reading “Film Review: Stop Making Sense”

Book Review: The Vinyl Detective – Written in Dead Wax

Back when I was in Middle School, I discovered the Lovejoy Mysteries, first through the TV series and then through the novels. However, some aspects of the books, such as Lovejoy’s attitude towards women, have aged poorly. So, while I enjoy going back to the books (and I should get around to reading them at some point in the future), they are kind of hard to recommend. Continue reading “Book Review: The Vinyl Detective – Written in Dead Wax”

TV Special Review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Live

I’m not the biggest fan of musicals. I’ve liked some of them, but I don’t really get into the genre as a whole. One of the Musicals that has always worked for me is Jesus Christ Superstar by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice – with the musical probably being one of the two’s best collaborations. The musical recently got a new stage adaptation, performed live on NBC, and I watched the archive of the show on Hulu. Continue reading “TV Special Review: Jesus Christ Superstar, Live”

Movie Review: George Harrison – Living in the Material World

A while back I reviewed the documentary film The Ackermonster Chronicles – a documentary film telling the life story of Forrest J. Ackerman. The film conveyed Ackerman’s life in a way that I compared to people talking about Ackerman at a wake, telling stories about his life, and in my view it didn’t quite get across why, necessarily, Ackerman was historically important or significant. George Harrison: Living in the Material World, from director Martin Scorsese uses the same style of presentation, but gets that point across better. Continue reading “Movie Review: George Harrison – Living in the Material World”

Film Review: The Beatles – Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years

A while back I reviewed Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution, a documentary on one of the more prominent albums to come out of the second part of the career of The Beatles studio-only era. A little before that documentary came out, Ron Howard came out with his own documentary on the Beatles, covering their touring years, from when they got big in the UK, to their US … Continue reading Film Review: The Beatles – Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years

Documentary Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution

It’s been a while since I did a review of a music documentary – the last one that comes immediately to mind is a documentary review on the career of Pink Floyd. Well, this year is the year that the Beatles concept album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band has it’s 50th anniversary, and the BBC did a documentary on the album, which also broadcast on PBS, which is where I saw it. Continue reading “Documentary Review: Sgt. Pepper’s Musical Revolution”

Video Game Review – Hatsune Miku Project Diva X

I’ve previously played two Hatsune Miku rhythm games, one on the PS3, and one on the Nintendo 3DS. I generally enjoyed them, though I found the gameplay controls a little rough. In particular, in the 3DS version, bouncing between the two screens was difficult at higher difficulties, and on the PS3 version, the size of the screen ended up working against the game. For my next outing against a Miku game on a Sony platform, with the latest title – Hatsune Miku Project Diva X – I decided to take on the Vita version of the game. Continue reading “Video Game Review – Hatsune Miku Project Diva X”

Video Game Review – Guitar Hero: Van Halen (PS3)

Guitar Hero: Van Halen Box ArtJust to get it out of the way. I love Van Halen in general. Both the David Lee Roth era and the Sammy Hagar eras of the band both had some amazing songs which I absolutely love… and let’s just pretend that the Gary Charone era didn’t happen. So, when I heard about this game, I was looking forward to the game with great anticipation. Then I learned that there wouldn’t be any representation of the Sammy Hagar era on the album because the band was currently touring with David Lee Roth, and my interest waned a little bit. Then the track listing came out and I found that they were taking the same take of mixing Van Halen songs and songs by other bands, like they’d done with Guitar Hero Aerosmith. That caused my interest to wane a little bit more.  Then I found out what songs they were including, and any plans I had on buying the game when it came out (or pre-ordering Guitar Hero 5 to get the game free) were canceled.

This doesn’t mean I didn’t want to play the game. This just meant I wasn’t chomping at the bit to get it. So, now I’ve finally played it, and while I had some fun, this really isn’t the Van Halen band game I wanted. Continue reading “Video Game Review – Guitar Hero: Van Halen (PS3)”

Video Game Review – Guitar Hero: Metallica (PS3)

Get Guitar Hero: Metallica from Amazon.com

A while back, I went out on a limb and said that Guitar Hero: Aerosmith was superior to Guitar Hero III. I’ve now had an opportunity to play the second band focused Guitar Hero game, and while I enjoyed it, it encountered some of the same problems that Guitar Hero III had. Continue reading “Video Game Review – Guitar Hero: Metallica (PS3)”

Music Review – The Fine Young Cannibals: The Raw and the Cooked

Get "The Raw and the Cooked" from Amazon.com

So, in my wanderings across the internet I came across the music video for the song “She Drives Me Crazy” by the Fine Young Cannibals, which I, frankly, hadn’t heard before. So, I decided to check out the album that it came from, The Young and the Cooked, and give it a try. I was rather impressed with what I heard. Continue reading “Music Review – The Fine Young Cannibals: The Raw and the Cooked”

Video Game Review – The Beatles: Rock Band (PS3)

Box art for The Beatles: Rock Band
Get The Beatles: Rock Band from Amazon.com

So, a while back I played, and reviewed, the first major rhythm game to be based around a particular rock band – Guitar Hero: Aerosmith. I reviewed it almost a year ago,  and I didn’t think it was all bad. Well, this year I’ve picked up Harmonix’s take on the concept. With the game I reviewed a year ago, Neversoft took the Guitar Hero series, took some of Aerosmith’s hit tracks and put some relevant tracks by other artists around it. Harmonix’s philosophy of game design has a fundamentally different style. Instead, they’re picking some of the best of the best of the band they’re building their game around with DLC for other songs by that band. The band in question? The Beatles. Continue reading “Video Game Review – The Beatles: Rock Band (PS3)”

Concert Review – Video Games Live

Video Games Live 2008-2009 Tour poster
Video Games Live 2008-2009 Tour Poster (courtesy of videogameslive.com)

So, I’m doing a break in my usual reaps with a review of a concert I went to today. To be specific, Tommy Tallerico and Jeff Wall’s tribute to video game music – Video Games Live has finally come to Portland, and I’ve finally seen it. So, what did I think?

The Premise

Tommy Tallerico & Jeff Wall lead (in this concert) the Portland Philharmonic and the Pacific Youth Choir in a performance of music from various video games, including the Kingdom Hearts series, the Final Fantasy series, Mario, Legend of Zelda, and other games. Continue reading “Concert Review – Video Games Live”

Movie Review – Koyaanisqatsi

Get Koyaanisqatsi from Amazon.com
Get Koyaanisqatsi from Amazon.com

I’ve never watched an “art” film before. I’ve watched films with artistic intent. I’ve watch films that used artistic imagery, and I’ve watched films which made me think (which is one of the things I consider important with films that are “artistic”). However, I’ve never really seen a film that I’d call an out-and-out “art film.”

Until now.

The Premise: The film is a non-verbal one. The film depicts a series of images, in their original speed, sped up, or slowed down, depicting the world, and the flow of modern life, set to a score by Phillip Glass. I’m really understating this, as there’s more to it than that, but I can’t quite explain without getting into the stuff that I’d normally do in the Good, Bad, and Ugly segments

My Thoughts: This film is stunning. It is visually amazing. It is audibly amazing. I hadn’t seen a movie that was deliberately without a story (I’d seen ones that were unintentionally without a story, but that’s another matter), but this was the first I’d seen where the film itself was intentionally without a narrative as we normally think of it. However, it still works. Continue reading “Movie Review – Koyaanisqatsi”

Review – Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii Director’s Cut DVD

Call me pretentious (“You’re Pretentious”) but I like Progressive Rock. I count Rush, The Moody Blues, Horslips, and Jethro Tull, and Pink Floyd among my favorite bands). I grew up on the middle 3, and picked up the former and latter up as I grew older. I saw Rush live in concert last year when they came to Portland to play the Clark County Amphitheater, and have watched Pink Floyd’s concert DVD Pulse. However, I had not yet seen Floyd’s most famous concert video – their performance in Pompeii, with their “classic” lineup, at least to American eyes and ears – Gilmour, Mason, Waters and Wright – most American listeners, especially nowadays, would be not be familiar with any Floyd’s earlier material with Syd Barrett; they’d be familiar with Barrett’s influence on the group, but they would not have actually listened to the band’s two albums with Barrett.

So now, thanks to the wonders of NetFlix, I have finally gotten around to watching the Pink Floyd Pompeii Performance, and I’d say it’s good. The DVD though, is a more than a bit of a mixed bag.

Continue reading “Review – Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii Director’s Cut DVD”