Monday, October 20, 2014

Review- THE TWILIGHT ZONE VOL. 1: THE WAY OUT


THE TWILIGHT ZONE VOL. 1: THE WAY OUT (Dynamite Entertainment, 2014; Softcover)
Collects The Twilight Zone #1-4 (cover dates December, 2013- April, 2014)
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Guiu Vilanova
Colorist: Vinicius Andrade

Trevor Richmond is the Wall Street type of scumbag that everyone wants to see get a what-for. After he defrauds investors and it looks like he is going to do time he enlists the help of a company who help people disappear. They can change everything about you, right on down to your fingerprints. There is of course a twist to this, which I won't go in to because spoilers suck and people who blab them without proper tags suck even harder.

J. Michael Straczynski remains one of the top writing talents in comics today. While not everything that he touches turns to gold most of it is good enough that his name alone will tip the scale in favor of a purchase for me. He really gets what The Twilight Zone is all about. This seems like it could have been an episode of the 1980s version of the series. I will be back for the next trade for sure.
Junk Food For Thought rating: 4 out of 5.

http://www.instocktrades.com/TP/Dynamite-Entertainment/TWILIGHT-ZONE-TP-VOL-01/APR141162

The OCD zone- Many of the variants are not collected in this book.
DVD-style Extras included in this book: Script for #1 by J. Michael Straczynski. (15 pages)
Character designs by Guiu Vilanova. (1 page)
#1 Cards, Comics, And Collectibles Exclusive cover variant. (1 page)
#1 Discount Comic Book Service Exclusive cover variant. (1 page)
#1 Fat Jack's Comicrypt Exclusive cover variant. (1 page)
#1 Midtown Comics Exclusive cover variant. (1 page)
#1 Phantom Exclusive cover variant. (1 page)
#1 Stormwatch Comics Exclusive cover variant. (1 page)
Paper stock: Decent weight glossy coated stock.
Binding: Perfect bound trade paperback.
Cardstock cover notes: Thick waxlike lamination. 

Review- Steel Panther and Judas Priest at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI on October 19, 2014


Steel Panther and Judas Priest at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, MI on October 19, 2014


It has been just under three years since their “farewell” tour swung through town and we find Judas Priest on their 40th Anniversary/ 30th Anniversary of Defenders Of the Faith/ Redeemer Of Souls tour. There was a time when I would have been angry that a band went back on it's word (Kiss, I am looking at you) but nowadays I live more for the moment and appreciate the fact that Priest is still with us and move on.


The Fox Theatre is a beautiful, beautiful place, too nice to see a Metal show in to be honest with you. It is one of those pre-Depression movie houses where no expense was spared in design or construction. Detroit has a few of these still left, a remnant from the time when Detroit was one of the three wealthiest cities in the world. As vocal a critic as I am of owner Mike Ilitch and his corporate welfare that he has used to fund new stadiums, he single-handedly saved this place back in the '80s, paying for a complete restoration which stands today, so...yeah, only a Sith sees things in absolutes. That and he has Hot N Ready pizzas at Little Caesars for five bucks, which makes him difficult to truly dislike.


Just walking into the front lobby is an awe-inspiring thing, and it is a trip that this is where folks went to just see a movie. Makes the multiplex seem that much cheesier now, doesn't it?

There were a handful of empty seats in the balcony, fewer than 50 by my rough count. The Fox is one of those places with superb acoustics. Any place made of wood sounds good, as you get no echo like you do in an arena. Shirts ranged from $35-50, and I was this close to buying that Defenders Of The Faith one. I hardly wear the concert shirts that I amassed during my concertgoing heyday so why add more, I figured. My 11 year old self always wanted one...too bad that I am 41 today.




We came in during Steel Panther, a Metal parody act that people seem to enjoy. Not a fan myself but the crowd dug it. Priest came on at a surprisingly early 8:25 PM with the taped intro Battle Cry giving way to Dragonaut off of the new album. Priest always opened with a new song during their 1981-1986 heyday, so this made me smile. Metal Gods is a live staple but I would have rather heard Let Us Prey or Tyrant instead. Devil's Child returned to the set for the first time since 2008, at least as far as Detroit area performances are concerned.



Internet shit talkers have been ripping on Rob Halford's voice on this tour. Tinny sounding Youtube clips do not compare to the live performance. Rob may not have the range that he once did but he nailed the closing screams for Victim Of Changes. A slightly diminished Rob Halford is still better than 99.9% of the vocalists in the world. I will admit that it was suspicious that Halford did the opening scream for Halls Of Valhalla offstage during one of his dozen or so jacket changes, though. 




Love Bites was brought back out for the Defenders Of The Faith anniversary portion of the evening. It has not been played in Detroit since 1986! Defenders Of The Faith is one of those albums that warped my then 11 year old brain. The lyrics to that song, coupled with Rob's phrasings, have always killed me. Now you are mine/ In my control/ One taste of your life/ And I own your soul! Lyrical poetry it is most certainly not, but Priest rules.


There was a giant video screen behind the band, and every song had it's video footage created specifically for it accompanying it. Give me a ridiculous Metallian stage set or a giant robot any day! I prefer to watch a band play songs, not video screens. March Of The Damned is Judas Priest's zombie song, so severe is the impact of The Walking Dead it would seem.

Turbo Lover had the balcony bouncing, and it made me nervous on more than one occasion. For starters, this building is 80-odd years old. Second, the average waistband in that balcony was probably in the high 40s. Third, people in the 1920s were malnourished dwarves who weighed 90 pounds. I wondered if the balcony could withstand that punishment that the BMI-challenged Judas Priest crowd was dishing out. It was at this moment that I was grateful to be upstairs and not on the floor underneath it.

I hate it when classic bands live entirely in the past. There must be new material. An occasional oldies tour is fine but with no new music we would have never had the old music. Redeemer Of Souls sounded good with the rest of the set.

I imagine the task of assembling a setlist when you have 17 studio albums to choose from is daunting. Priest seems to have an on-again, off-again rotation of secondary songs, and I imagine them sitting in their basement drinking beer and playing darts to round out that segment of the setlist. I can almost imagine Glenn hitting the balloon with Beyond The Realms Of Death in it and imagine him saying Bloody 'ell! I wanted to hit Heading Out To The Highway.

This was the first time that Priest has played Jawbreaker in Detroit in 30 years. I did see Halford do it on his solo tour in 2000. Breaking The Law was another of those Oh-man-I-hope-that-this-balcony-collapsing-doesn't-kill-me moments.

The taped Harley Davidson rumbling came over the PA and Rob rode out the motorcycle for Hell Bent For Leather. You've Got Another Thing Comin' sounded sluggish, being played slower than the album. It was killed by the crowd chant part and Richie Faulkner's extended guitar solo. Ian Hill and Scott Travis didn't leave the stage, going bump-bump-bump-bump with the bass and bass drum during the solo. Ian looked pretty bored. I could imagine him thinking I hope I get back to the bloody 'otel before they close the restaurant for the night. I want some roast beef. While I have no problem with Richie replacing K.K. Downing, K.K. never got a solo like that. Just saying, as the kids say.

Living After Midnight was next and then another rarity not played in Detroit in 30 years, Defenders Of The Faith, rounded out the night. They were done at 10 o'clock, which was fine by me for a Sunday night. I got home before the town closed the gates and rolled up the sidewalks for the night. Priest is always a great night out. If you have never seen them then by all means do so posthaste. 


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Review- The Smashing Pumpkins/ Adore Deluxe Edition Box Set


The Smashing Pumpkins/ Adore Deluxe Edition Box Set (Virgin/ Universal, 2014)

'90s nostalgia...I am not feeling it. I bought the original album the day that it came out and loved it immediately. While every late 30s/ early 40-something claims that they loved Gish and maybe Siamese Dream, the fact of the matter is that The Pumpkins could do no wrong to these people until this album came out. This album was a successful artistic experiment to me but was essentially career suicide as far as the general audience was concerned.

I tend to dislike electronic music, as it feels like a soulless shuffle of beeps and blips. The curious thing about my disdain of it is that I found this album to be highly listenable. I loathed Techno and DJs during this time. While I enjoy the Pumpkins at their rockingest, it was always the quieter interludes and dynamics which drew me to them like a moth to the flame. This album delivered it in spades. The acoustic, almost folky sound was marinated in electronics...and for my money it worked. Lyrically Corgan was pushing himself to his poetic best. Those with less ability call it pretentious. The rest of us celebrate his work while he is still alive, as all of the naysayers will when he dies.

The Rock was almost nonexistent on this album. Sure, Pug is basically an electronica version of Blue Oyster Cult's Godzilla and the guitar solo for Ava Adore was Billy Corgan's love letter to Brian May, but beyond that Rock was dead in 1998. I was a sad panda at that time. I immediately recognized the bridge of For Martha as the Mellon Collie outtake Wishing You Were Real (I had the silver back Moonraker bootleg The Mellon Collie Demos in 1996; still own it and many others). If I had a blog in 1998 these observations would have been listed after a single listen.

While the original album is remastered on Disc One (not sure why- it was recorded digitally and mixed and mastered for the CD format to begin with), it is the Mono mix on Disc Two, originally done for the vinyl release, that really made me sit up and take notice. Songs with excessive bass like Ava Adore are rendered a muddy, thuddy mess. Once Upon A Time was a revelation, though. The mono mix for that song was like hearing it again for the first time. So much better. Shame remains one of my all time favorite Pumpkins songs in mono or stereo.

I was an avid bootleg trader back in the Internet stone age. Dial up made torrents pointless, so traders burned CDs and mailed them to one another. I have had many of the unreleased songs found on Discs three through five for years. Songs like Chewing Gum and My Mistake are old favorites to me. Don't get me wrong, I am absolutely thrilled to see this stuff see an official release. The 2014 remixes of songs are worthless to me, though. There are several B-sides, soundtrack songs, and EP tracks omitted from this set, any of which would have been preferred to the pointless 2014 remixes. It was cool to finally hear the Adore version of Let Me Give The World To You, as that was one of those mythical songs that never surfaced way back when. Had the band included this and released it as a single this album might not have stiffed on the charts. It is easy to say this from my armchair 16 years later. Who could predict that the band's audience wouldn't join them on the journey?

Disc Six is a live compilation. I caught the band on this tour when they played the State Theatre in Detroit in July of 1998. While I loved the different arrangements of these songs the crowd was bored to tears due to the downbeat nature of the album. They played the album in it's entirety and three songs off of Mellon Collie And The Infinite Sadness in radically different form. The songs from Hallowe'en 1998 at Dodger Stadium were televised as part of the Kiss Psycho Circus tour opening night special. I remember watching it, and I have a bootleg of the full Pumpkins show somewhere in my stacks of Pumpkins bootlegs.

I have yet to watch any of the DVDs that have come with any of the other five Deluxe Edition box sets, so why start now? I listen to music. If I want to watch music I will go to a concert. I am extremely old fashioned in this regard, and it comes from growing up in a house without cable and listening to music rather than watching it on MTV like all of my friends did.

This box set is quite an undertaking. Six audio CDs and one DVD in a deluxe box. The box has a foil wrapping and the cover is a different shot from the roll of the original album cover. It is presented in color here. I never realized that the woman's dress was a flower until seeing it in color. Inside are several “snapshots” and a nice booklet. The seven discs are all in individual card sleeves. You certainly get your bang for the buck here. While I own everything from this era I like comprehensive compilations too. I would have been in for an eight disc set with the remaining material B-side, EP, and soundtrack material. Maybe when Billy Corgan does the super duper duper ultra mega box in 2030...

Adore remains one of my personal favorites, possibly the greatest break up album of all time. Little did I realize that the band itself was breaking up internally at the time. I have no nostalgia for the '90s; that is for those that were too young to live it. I lived the decade and am done with it. You couldn't pay me to go back to 1998. This album still sounds good to my ears but it is not a nostalgia trip. I remain passionate about the band all of these years later and look forward to both new albums next year, and buying them again in 2031 in box set format.

Junk Food For Thought rating: 4.25 out of 5.