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

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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 tours, and finally becoming dissatisfied with touring.

Some of these stories aren’t entirely new – a lot of this is covered through a lot of histories of Pop Music, Rock Music, and the Beatles themselves. What makes this documentary different is the extensive interviews of the surviving Beatles in the documentary. Additionally, when it comes to the reaction of fans, and the experience of going to these concerts, the documentary also gives time to minority voices, to African American fans who were able to go to their concerts in the South because the Beatles required that the audience be integrated, along with fans in the North (specifically New York)

That said, there are some things that were omitted that I wish had more coverage. There isn’t much discussion of the Beatles Cavern Club years, outside of a mention that a concert promoter spotted them at the club and brought them to play a few gigs in Hamburg. And there isn’t much discussion of the point where The Beatles switched from playing smaller venues to more… conventional audiences, to crowds of girls screaming so loud that they couldn’t hear themselves play.

This last is something of a bummer because there’d never been anything quite like that before, and I don’t think there’s been anything quite the same since. Not even the Boy Bands of the ’90s and 2000s got the same reaction as the Beatles did. The documentary also doesn’t give a sense of the pace – a switch is slipped and all of a sudden everything has changed. Even if this did happen overnight, somebody had to have looked into why this happened overnight. This is the kind of thing that people write doctoral dissertations about – in music, in business, and in human psychology.

It’s not like John Lennon went to bed one night, and then woke up the next morning with hordes of screaming teenage girls outside his window like in Life of Brian (though that is an amusing mental picture). In the same way, it’s not like the Beatles only toured for 2-3 years before retiring. Of their 7-8 year career, they toured for half of it, so the transition of the audience reaction is important, and if it really was an overnight thing, where one day you’re playing to what is basically an ordinary crowd reaction, and the next the audience is in full Beatlemania and sustains that fever pitch for 4 years, that speaks volumes. The same thing if there was something of a build-up to that.

The documentary is still worth watching, but that’s something to keep in mind.

The film is available from Amazon.com – if you do pick this up through that link, I get a referral from whatever you pick up on that purchase.

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)

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