Monday, July 28, 2014

Review- HARVEY HORRORS COLLECTED WORKS: CHAMBER OF CHILLS VOL. 2


HARVEY HORRORS COLLECTED WORKS: CHAMBER OF CHILLS VOL. 2 (PS Artbooks, 2012; Hardcover)
Collects Chamber of Chills Nos. 8-13 (cover dates May- October, 1952)

Writers: Bob Powell, Howard Nostrand, and other unidentified writers
Artists: Lee Elias, Vic Donahue, Bob Powell, Howard Nostrand, Al Avison, Tom Hickey, Manny Stallman, John Giunta, Rudy Palais, John Belfi, Warren Kremer, Abe Simon, Moe Marcus, and other unidentified artists.


I adore 1950s Pre-Code Horror comics. While Harvey Comics were not quite as good as my beloved EC Comics they are still solid reads and belong in the library of Horror comic fans the world over. Without these comic books we would likely have no Stephen King, no John Carpenter, no Alice Cooper, no Glenn Danzig or Misfits. 
Headless Horror from issue 8 predates the “found footage” fad by nearly fifty years. Vic Donahue's artwork on The Face Of Horror (#10) is incredibly effective. The Dead Sleep Lightly and Devil's Due round out what I consider to be the most consistently satisfying issue in this book, #10.
 Truth be told, I doubt that many of these stories will scare modern Horror fans on a steady diet of Saw-inspired snuff porn. For those reared or schooled in what could be called “classical” Horror, however, it doesn't get much better than 1950s Pre-Code Horror. These tales all fall in normal parameters for the era and genre. No real surprises here, just plenty of enjoyable old school Horror comics that gave ninnies like Frederic Wertham fuel for his witch hunt. I am beyond grateful that PS Artbooks has resurrected the corpses of these long gone and buried classics.


Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/PS-Artbooks/HARVEY-HORRORS-CHAMBER-OF-CHILLS-HC-VOL-02/PSACC02

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/PS-Artbooks/HARVEY-HORRORS-CHAMBER-OF-CHILLS-SOFTIE-TP-VOL-02/NOV121276

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/PS-Artbooks/HARVEY-HORRORS-CHAMBER-OF-CHILLS-SOFTIE-TP-VOL-03/APR131208

The OCD zone- These are some beautifully produced books. Restoration issues aside, I am thrilled to see these books resurrected in relatively affordable deluxe editions.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Foreword by Michael T. Gilbert. (4 pages)
Macabre Maestros featuring artist Lee Elias. (6 pages)
Linework and Color restoration rating: 3.75 out of 5. These are scans of original comic books, which means that all of the imperfections of the four color printing process are present. Line bleed, off register printing, and yellowing due to age abound. The only major attempt at color correction has been removing the yellowing from the word balloons, which are as white as the paper stock. A fair number of the pages are of mediocre to poor quality, possibly JPEG sourced low resolution scans, likely 300dpi. Some pages look fuzzy and out of focus, others look acceptable. Most are good enough that I am willing to overlook the yellowing.
Paper rating: 5 out of 5. Thick uncoated stock. It has that wonderful aroma that Chinese made books tend to have. Out of all of the Archives lines available from all of the publishers, PS Artbooks smell the best. I seriously sit there and huff these things as I read them. The toxic stew of broken asbestos tiles, lead paint chips, mercury from recalled thermometers, and the blood, sweat and tears of the Chinese children working the sweatshop printing presses give these book their delectable scent.
Binding rating: 5 out of 5. Smyth sewn binding with seven stitches per signature. The book block is rounded in the casing, enabling this book to lay perfectly flat as God intended.
Hardback cover coating rating: 4.75 out of 5. The issue cover images are spot varnished with screen printing while the rest of the casewrap has a dull matte finish which is sufficiently resistant to scuffing when handled with reasonable care. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Review- Nine Inch Nails/ Soundgarden w/ Oneohtrix Point Never @ DTE Energy Music Theatre on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Clarkston, MI (Detroit)

Nine Inch Nails/ Soundgarden w/ Oneohtrix Point Never @ DTE Energy Music Theatre on Saturday, July 26, 2014 in Clarkston, MI (Detroit)

Outdoor shows are entirely dependent on the weather. While the forecast called for rain and the clouds threatened us with their gloominess, not a drop of rain fell. I was beyond thankful. The back up on the freeway to get into the venue was over a mile long. I swear it took me nearly as long to make the thirty mile pilgrimage north of Detroit as it did to finally park my car. DTE tacks on a $4 “traffic control” fee per ticket for parking. They have taken the best lots and made them for VIP ticket holders only or are now making you pay an additional $20 if you don't want to park on the grass with thousands of cars with only three exit points. This is the reason that I haven't been to this venue in two years and, barring a Led Zeppelin or Buffalo Springfield reunion, likely won't ever come back. A pop and a hotdog is eleven bucks. Fuck you, DTE!
If the show wasn't sold out it was darn close, a feat made more impressive by the fact that attendance wasn't papered with steeply discounted voucher tickets. Soundgarden came out around 7:45 to Searching With My Good Eye Closed. Chris Cornell talked in between most of the songs over the course of the 75 minute set and said that Detroit is his favorite city. Spoonman and Outshined were up next, and the band sounded great. Matt Chamberlain is sitting in for Matt Cameron on drums while he plays with his side band, Pearl Jam. Chamberlain is what you call a professional drummer, serving as a hired gun or session man for half of the bands in existence. Don't believe me? Look at his Wikipedia page. Christ.
Soundgarden is the definition of doing things correctly and aging with grace. Their legacy is the most unblemished out of all the mainstream 1990s acts, bowing out when they were still a multi-platinum selling arena act and then returning with new music which stands up to their best material. Songs like By Crooked Steps are every bit as good as their classics. Unlike many veteran bands who release new music, I have never heard anyone badmouth their new material.
 Black Hole Sun, Jesus Christ Pose, The Day I Tried To Live, and My Wave were all singles and had the mainly 30-40 year old audience digging it. I know that I am old when a band is celebrating the 20th anniversary of an album which I remember being released. Superunknown and Fell On Black Days made me glad that it wasn't 1994 anymore. While I still love those songs and was glad to hear them live I have no real nostalgia for that point of my life. When I listen to old stuff it is out of a legitimate love of the material, not for fond remembrances of bygone days. I am happy in 2014.
A Thousand Days Before off of 2012's King Animal was next. Chris Cornell announced that someone named Brandon requested Burden In My Hand. What the fuck, Brandon? You get the ear of the band and you request one of the standards? What a moron. I would be asking for Loud Love or Face Pollution. Rusty Cage is one of the all time jams. I love songs where it sounds like the band is going to go off of the rails at any time. Beyond The Wheel proved that Cornell still has 100% of his range. The band left the stage around 9.

I am not much of a Nine Inch Nails fan. Electronic music has always left me cold and I have always failed to see why anyone would be even remotely interested in it. I call them as I see them. I cannot fake an emotional response to material as inorganic as NIN. I stayed for a few songs and then left. Beating traffic was more interesting to me than Nine Inch Nails. Watching paint dry is more interesting to me than Nine Inch Nails. 

Review- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young/ CSNY 1974


Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young/ CSNY 1974 (Rhino, 2014)

This 1974 reunion tour was, at the time, the highest grossing and most ambitious tour ever. While some bands played the odd stadium date, this is the first time that any band booked an entire tour in baseball stadiums coast to coast. All of the excess was documented, including professional mobile recording. This three CD/ one DVD box set is a stunning document. Like the more recent Led Zeppelin live albums (How The West Was Won, etc.) this was mixed from the original two track tapes and the sound quality is unbelievable.


While this album is comprised of songs performed on different nights, each show on the tour was at least three hours long and broken down into three segments: Electric, acoustic, and an electric closing set. This triple live album keeps that spirit by splitting the three sections across the three discs. 

The arrangements are loose, jammy, sprawling and have a fog over them. You can almost imagine a hot, humid, outdoor show complete with the smell of beer, pot, and body odor when listening to Almost Cut My Hair. Neil Young had recently released his On The Beach album, and his take on the title song is fantastic. Don't Be Denied, from Neil's frustratingly out of print, never commercially issued on CD Time Fades Away is part of the rocking ten song finale that makes up Disc Three. Military Madness rules. No band channeled the zeitgeist or reflected the values of the times better than these guys.

You get songs from the core band, songs from each member's solo albums, songs that were at the time unreleased and wound up on later albums (Long May Your Run), and some that never materialized but are finally available here. Goodbye Dick, which was written the day that Nixon resigned, has been in the vaults since these shows were played forty years ago. The band sounds great. I have never seen them, any of them in any configuration, live. I need to rectify this as soon as possible.

I did sit all the way through all three discs one night, and there is a real emotional payoff when you listen to it that way as opposed to one disc at a time. Set aside an evening, pop some popcorn, and grab a beverage of your choice and give it a serious listen.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.5 out of 5.
 The OCD zone- Those of you who just wandered in might wonder what this section is about, so I'll spill. It is about packaging, and the materials used in said packaging. I adore physical media, and the tactile experience is what makes it real in my mind. You can keep your mp3s; I'll stick with my friend the compact disc.
The digipak is one chunky monkey, with a four-sided foldout complete with an honest to gosh plastic hub for each disc. The 180+ page book has it's own pocket, and is jammed with great liner notes and tons of pictures. While it may seem like a chunk of change to buy this, it is totally worth every penny. There is a deluxe wooden box set with LPs, Blu-Ray audio disc, and all sorts of bric-a-brac for the super diehard well-heeled fan. This “average consumer edition” is fine by me.