Friday, June 19, 2015

Coming up: Out of This World - Ron Goodwin, Russ Garcia and the Spotniks

Out July 28.

At the dawn of the space age, with man standing on the threshold on conquering realms hitherto only realised in his wildest dreams, it is only natural that the prospect of interplanetary travel should begin to influence various aspects of our everyday lives. No longer are such events the figment of a riotous imagination, confined within the paper covers of a science-fiction novel. The conquest of space has already begun - and the effect of it's impact is being reflected in many different ways, and expressed in a variety of media.
'Man's magnificent triumph is particularly suited to musical adaptation. For, in the very concept of a voyage into the unknown, the composer is presented with a vast tableau, as infinite as space itself, embodying every possible mood, colour and sensation.'

The launch of Sputnik 1 by the U.S.S.R in 1957, and Explorer 1 a year later by America captured the public imagination and space exploration became one of the dominant themes in popular entertainment.

Here then, powered up by the Spotnicks, is a celebration of Space Exotica involving three very different but equally singular musical views of the heavens

The Spotnicks were in the vanguard of 'Space Age Pop'; in both conception and sound. They donned their space suits to celebrate interplanetary mystique with an exciting style that deployed sound effects and heavily reverbed electric guitars. For Japanese teenagers, it was the Spotnicks who most successfully captured the mood of the era and the group enjoyed two successive number 1 single hits in Ajomies and Karelia.

Ron Goodwin is probably best known for his mid-sixties scores for Those Magnificent Men In Their Flying Machines, 633 Squadron, The Battle of Britain, Where Eagles Dare, along with his skilfully nuanced lighter work like the wonderful Margaret Rutherford Miss Marple films. His George Martin produced Out Of This World (titled 'Music In Orbit' in America) was his inspired response to the growing interest in Exotica and Space Age Pop and, in particular - it has been speculated - to Russ Garcia's Fantastica, the album with which Out Of This World is twinned as the definitive works of the genre.

Goodwin's musical look at the Universe includes a comic strip conception of Martians, scoring a marimba and male voice choir to depict the rings around Saturn and articulating Mercury's mythology with a phrase based on the Morse S.O.S. signal; an action which the composer described as "jazz in the classical form'

Russ Garcia's Fantastica remains the gold standard by which all outer space exotica records are judged. The album is a marvel of sound and structure, so far ahead of its time that it would still be considered innovative even by today's standards. Garcia evokes the music of the cosmos via revolutionary studio techniques, cinematic arrangements, innovative electronic elements and the adept use of the "ethereal voce effects" on the track, The Volcanoes of Mercury, provided by the world-famous soprano, Marni Nixon.



  9. THE SUN

  21. VENUS

Vintage Tina Louise pics

Pop culture roundup: Pete Townshend; Spider-Man; John Buscema

A symphonic version of the Who's "Quadrophenia" released by Pete Townshend isn't "classical" enough to top the classical charts in Britain.
...the orchestral record has not been accepted into the Classical Chart, due to the fact that the original material is rock music.

On discovering his exclusion ... Townshend expressed his disappointment:
“So musical snobbery in the “classical” elite is still alive & kicking then? F**k ’em. There’s a huge team behind this album, entirely rooted in the practical world of recorded classical music, who deserve better than this petty slap-down. I know I’m a rock dinosaur and I’m happy to be one, but the team on Classic Quadrophenia are all young, creative and brilliant.”

Head's up, Chris Pratt: Spider-Man was fighting genetically engineered dinosaurs back in the 1970s.


Diversions of a Groovy Kind shares a gallery of Fantastic Four splash pages by the great John Buscema.

Fab Friday: Beatles Around the World!

See more fab posts at the Glass Onion Beatles Journal.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Vintage ad: Sean Connery for Jim Beam

Pop stuff: Jurassic World, The Illusionist

What I'm watching, hearing, reading, etc.

Jurassic World. Set your expectations accordingly for this one. If you want lots of dinosaurs chases, thrills and chills: bingo. This is your movie. If you want anything else, well ... what the hell were you thinking?

The story and set have been updated. There's now a new "Jurassic" theme park. The head marketeer of the place, Claire Deering (Bryce Dallas Howard), is trying to make people forget about the old one, where people got eaten by the attractions, but -- naturally -- the owners are flirting with disaster.  Just like Disneyland and Captain Eo, bigger and ostensibly better attractions are needed to ensure the tourists keep coming through the gates.

In this case, the big new thing is a huge, new, scary dinosaur. A genetic cocktail of t-rex and God knows what else. Resident raptor trainer, Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), knows the thing is too dangerous to live, let alone display. But doesn't anyone believe him?

It's only a matter of moments before Indominus Rex is on the loose and munching on humans and every other variety of dino. But we knew that would happen, just like we knew Claire wasn't as prissy and uptight as she seemed, and that she'd end up kissing Owen, and that Claire's two nephews, who are visiting the park while their parents are in the process of getting divorced, are a pair of scrappy little survivors.

There's not a single surprising thing about the movie, other than that something so utterly predictable can still be entertaining.

It would be nice if the filmmakers had flattered us a little by springing a surprise or weird curveball or two. Or by making better use of Pratt, whose great charm and comic chops remain largely unexploited here. You wonder why they spend the bucks casting him. 

But the filmmakers know they don't have to try hard. But it's summer. Dinosaurs are cool. The tickets sell themselves

The Illusionist is lovely, charming exploration of age and innocence based on a script by French director Jacque Tati, but never produced as the live-action film he'd intended. Instead, his story has been captured in beautiful animation by Sylvain Chomet, who created the popular "Triplets of Belleville" several years back.

As with that film, there's little dialogue here. Subtitles are unnecessary as we see the aging title character, a struggling magician, travel to Scotland, where his tricks -- mistaken for real magic -- enchant a young girl. Not wanting to let her down, he tries to keep up the act, but ultimately fails as she grows up and becomes just as enchanted with the outside world. It's a sweet, funny story laced with melancholy that will resonate with parents watching their children grow up.

Vintage movie poster: The Awful Truth

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Coming up: Beyond Mars by Jack Williamson and Lee Elias

Out Sept. 28.

Written by renowned science fiction author Jack Williamson and superbly drawn by Lee Elias, Beyond Mars is one of the rarest Sunday strips - it only appeared in a single newspaper, The New York Sunday News. This oversized book presents the complete series - all 161 strips from 1952 to 1955 - in their original color!

Comic art: Jack Kirby storyboard for Fantastic Four animated series 1978

Coming up: Ben E. King - The Complete Atco/Atlantic Singles Vol. 1 - 1960 - 1966

Out Aug. 7, 2015.

From his early days as a last-second replacement in the Drifters to his sterling solo career during which he scored a total of 31 pop and 24 R&B chart hits, the late, great Ben E. King was responsible for some of the most indelible recordings in pop music history. His big, beautiful baritone powered such Hall of Fame songs as There Goes My Baby, Save the Last Dance for Me, Spanish Harlem and, of course, Stand by Me, and almost alone among R&B singers of his era he successfully transitioned into the disco era of the 70s with hits like Supernatural Thing and his acclaimed collaboration with the Average White Band.
Now, Real Gone Music, in tandem with SoulMusic Records, is planning to release two of the most ambitious collections ever devoted to Ben E. King s work, a pair of 2-CD sets containing the A and B-side of every single the man released during his storied career recording for the Atco and Atlantic labels.
Long in the making, this first volume features 50 tracks that cover the years 1960 to 1966; many of these songs (especially the B-sides) never came out domestically on CD, and most never came out at all on CD in the original mono single versions found here, all from original tape sources. These are the recordings and the correct versions of the recordings that went out over the radio airwaves and made Ben E. King a legend, including Spanish Harlem, Stand by Me, Don't Play That Song (You Lied) and Amor, remastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision and annotated by British soul music expert/DJ Clive Richardson. With Ben s recent passing, a timely release and a major addition to his catalog.

Disc: 1
1. Brace Yourself
2. Show Me the Way
3. A Help-Each-Other Romance (LaVern Baker & Ben E. King)
4. How Often (LaVern Baker & Ben E. King)
5. Spanish Harlem
6. First Taste of Love
7. Stand by Me
8. On the Horizon
9. Amor
10. Souvenir of Mexico
11. Young Boy Blues
12. Here Comes the Night
13. Ecstasy
14. Yes
15. Don t Play That Song (You Lied)
16. Hermit of Misty Mountain
17. Too Bad
18. My Heart Cries for You
19. I m Standing By
20. Walking in the Footsteps of a Fool
21. Tell Daddy
22. Auf Weidersehn, My Dear
23. How Can I Forget
24. Gloria, Gloria
25. I (Who Have Nothing)
26. The Beginning of Time
27. I Could Have Danced All Night
28. Gypsy
Disc: 2
1. What Now My Love
2. Groovin
3. That s When It Hurts
4. Around the Corner
5. What Can a Man Do
6. Si Senor
7. It s All Over
8. Let the Water Run Down
9. Seven Letters
10. River of Tears
11. The Record (Baby I Love You)
12. The Way You Shake It
13. She s Gone Again
14. Not Now (I ll Tell You When)
15. Cry No More
16. (There s) No Place to Hide
17. Goodnight My Love
18. I Can t Break the News to Myself
19. So Much Love
20. Don t Drive Me Away
21. I Swear by the Stars Above
22. Get in a Hurry

Coming up: Dusty Springfield - Come for a Dream - The U.K. Sessions 1970 - 1971

Out Aug. 7, 2015.

During her 1968-1971 period with Atlantic Records in the United States, Dusty Springfield also continued to record material in England, where her Atlantic repertoire was released on Philips Records. In turn, Atlantic received rights to issue Dusty's British recordings from the era, but chose to focus entirely on her American sessions. In fact, it wasn t until the 90s that some of these masters (many of which originally came out on the Philips See All Her Faces album overseas) were available Stateside, but they were scattered across several compilations and were never comprehensively assembled.

Now, with the release of Come For A Dream The U.K. Sessions 1970-1971, all of Dusty s orphaned British recordings from her 1970-1971 Atlantic period have been gathered together for the first time. These 16 sides document what was intended to be a complete album plus some extra single sides and outtakes. Dusty was singing at her absolute best during this time, covering pop, rock and soul with equal power and sensitivity; thus, Come For A Dream represents a major addition and clarification to the legendary singer s discography. Notes by Joe Marchese shed further light on this tumultuous period in Dusty Springfield s career, with rare photos to boot. A perfect companion piece to Real Gone Music s recent Faithful release, which presented Dusty s missing third album for Atlantic from the same era in proper fashion for the first time.

1. A Song For You
2. Mixed Up Girl
3. Wasn't Born To Follow
4. Sweet Inspiration
5. Yesterday When I Was Young
6. Let Me Down Easy
7. Come For A Dream
8. Girls It Ain't Easy
9. See All Her Faces
10. Crumbs Off The Table
11. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?
12. How Can I Be Sure
13. Goodbye
14. Girls Can't Do What The Guys Do
15. I Start Counting
16. Go My Love
17. O-o-h Child

Pop artifact: Batmobile zip car

New comics and more June 17, 2015: Tarzan; Little Nemo; Captain America; R. Crumb; Peanuts; Graham Ingels; Batman modeling dough kits

New collected editions and more this week. Click the links to order discounted items from Amazon.

Edgar Rice Burroughs' Jungle Tales of Tarzan

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland