Month: May 2015

2011, Music

Winterland [Highlights] (2011) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

This is the “highlights” disc taken from the Box Set documenting 3 Experience shows at the Winterland in October of 1968.It begins with a performance of “Fire” that is highlighted by a series of crazy drum fills by Mitchell that substitute as a drum solo.“Foxey Lady” follows, with its introductory feedback drawn out twice as …

1997, Music

South Saturn Delta (1997) by Jimi Hendrix

So this is sort of the companion piece to First Rays of the New Rising Sun, the album that tried to replicate what would have been Hendrix’s last album. But whereas First Rays was a coherent piece, this is more an abritrary collection of rarities. Like most of Hendrix’s demos and alternates that have been …

2010, Music

Valleys of Neptune (2010) by Jimi Hendrix

This is yet another collection of Hendrix demos and alternate takes. As usual everything sounds great (though in one case the sound quality is weak compared to the other tracks) and professional. The tracks are from all over the place, as usual, and it’s a record that’s for Hendrix fans rather than for casual listeners. …

2013, Music

Miami Pop Festival (2013) by the Jimi Hendrix Experience

This is an Experiene concert from the 1968 Miami Pop Festival (obviously) containing remarkably little music from either Axis or Ladyland (which they had already begun recording). Actually I don’t think there’s a single song. It’s a strong set and it shows off the Experience as a great live band, which is something we don’t …

2012, Music

String Quartets Op. 33 ‘Russian’ (2012) by the London Haydn Quartet

Though these quartets were written after the great “Sun” quartets (perhaps because they were written after) I like them a lot better initially. They sound a lot more like my idea of what a High Classical quartet should sound like. Though their forebears were undoutedbly the more innovative and revolutionary set, these are the more …

2015, Movies

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015, George Miller)

It’s been years since I’ve seen the original trilogy in any kind of thorough way (since Thunderdome used to be on TV all the time, I’ve seen parts of it more than the other two) and I have to say I wasn’t keen on this movie. I hate remakes / reboots in principle (unless they …

2014, TV

Fargo – Season 1 (2014)

I normally review a TV series after I’ve watched all the seasons. However, given that the second season of Fargo will consist of an entirely new cast and plot, I am reviewing them separately. Needless to say, SPOILERS!!!  I was really, really skeptical of this idea, not only because I was once a gigantic Coen …

1992, Music

Lush Life: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (1992) by Joe Henderson

People are weird. Apparently Henderson toiled in relative obscurity for decades and then one day, in the early ’90s, people lost their shit over him, though stylistically he is, you could argue, a pre-Trane player, or a least one who never followed Trane through the door when Trane finished removing the frames around it. So, …

2013, Music

People, Hell and Angels (2013) by Jimi Hendrix

This is apparently the “final” official rarities collection we will get from the Hendrix vaults. These are the last previously unreleased studio tracks. It only took 40 years.This collection shows off the direction Hendrix was contemplating post-Electric Ladyland, the funkier, rootsier one displayed on First Rays of the New Rising Sun, his unfinished final album. …

2015, Music

Sol Invictus (2015) by Faith No More

When I was young I hated reunions, I felt like they were cash-grabs, things only sell-outs would do. I had a hard time thinking of musicians, particularly my musical idols, as people. I had an idea of artistic integrity and I thought that musicians should stick to it (or face my wrath, I guess). But …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Fernando Nation (Cruz Angeles)

This is a somewhat awkwardly structured and edited film that still manages to do one of the major things I want from a sports documentary: it makes me wish I was there. I lived through Linsanity, but obviously not in New York. Fernandomania was Linsanity well before Linsanity (and with a better player), with so …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Marion Jones: Press Pause (2010, John Singleton)

This is a real missed opportunity. From the opening credits, it’s clear that John Singleton is not the man to make this film. I have never been a fan (though I have never seen his magnum opus) and the opening credits, which feel like they belong to a melodrama, are the first clue that Singleton …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Pony Excess (2010, Thaddeus D. Matula)

It’s tough to talk about the content of a film like this without talking about the concept of “student athlete” and how the NCAA (and others) have essentially brainwashed the media and most of the United States into believing that it is immoral for “student athletes” to be compensated for the performances that drive the …

2010, TV

Boardwalk Empire (2010)

SPOILERS!!! Had Boardwalk Empire premiered in 2000 instead of 2010 – hell, had it premiered in 2005 instead of 2010 – I think we’d think about it very differently. (Or, at the very least, I would.) It’s a show full of great actors, with great costumes and sets and a fantastic sense of place. If …

1996, Music

Oracle (1996) by Michael Hedges

Michael Hedges is undoubtedly a great guitarist: his technique is incredible and his use of various alternative tunings and approaches to playing is also incredible. Apparently he was also extremely innovative: in the early ’80s he pioneered this style of heavily percussive playing. (There is some controversy over whether he was the first person to …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Once Brothers (2010, Michael Tolajian)

This is a compelling, moving portrait of what it was like to be from an upstart country in a sport, shocking the world, and what it was like to be an early European player in the NBA, and what it’s like to have your country torn apart by civil war. It’s also a compelling portrait …

1970, Music

In the Wake of Poseidon (1970) by King Crimson

Full disclosure: King crimsion is one of the bands that “changed my life” on a musical level and they remain among my favourites. I have trouble being objective about them. I’m trying, but it’s probably not possible.We should remember that this album was made by a band that wasn’t really a band at all: Michael …

1970, Music

Live at Leeds (1970) by the Who

Is this the greatest live album of all time? I never used to care about live albums. I never used to care about live music. Music used to live in my bedroom and I had no idea that there was some other side to it. Frankly I didn’t understand why people went to concerts. The …

2000, Music

Ken Burns Jazz (2000) by Fletcher Henderson

This is a decent one-disc compilation of Fletcher Henderson’s big bands, which are more notable for the featured performers than for anything Henderson did (with an exception or two). Like all single disc compilations of a productive artist, it doesn’t give us the greatest picture of his work. But what it does function as is …

2010, TV

30 for 30: The House of Steinbrenner (2010, Barbara Kopple)

This is a pretty bloodless and blah attempt to document the mixed (mostly) sad emotions of moving from the old Yankee Stadium to the new one. At times it also feels like it’s about the Steinbrenners. There are plenty of interviews with people affected by this change, there are the famous clips, there’s talk about …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Into the Wind (2010, Ezra Holland, Steve Nash)

If you grew up in Canada in the 1980s, you know Terry Fox and his story. He ran the year before I was born, but despite that, I know the legend/myth just like most Canadians my age. Here’s the real connection I have to the story: This is the view from the memorial outside of …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Four Days in October (2010, Gary Waksman)

I hate the Red Sox. I mean, I fucking hate them. Though not as much as I hate the Yankees. But I feel like I remember this series like it was yesterday. (But I more remember where I was than the actual moments of the game.) Among the best baseball playoffs I’ve seen in my …

2009, Movies

Ajami (2009, Scandar Copti, Yaron Shani)

This is an ambitious, compelling, complex portrait of daily life (with a little crime thrown in for good measure) in Israel. In its ambition, it’s trying to be Short Cuts or Traffic but in execution it’s more Babel or Crash (okay, it’s not that bad). Though the actors appear to be amateurs, they are very …

2014, Music

Joseph Haydn: Die Sieben letzten Worte (2014) by Cuarteto Casals

This is supposedly an “instrumental” oratorio. Haydn first wrote it for orchestra (with no vocals!). Then he adapted it for String Quartet. Then he adapted it for Choir (as if it was an actual oratorio). Then he “approved” an adaptation for solo piano, but apparently didn’t write that one himself. This is the String Quartet …

2011, Music

Joseph Haydn: String Quartets Op. 20 ‘Sun’ (2011) by the London Haydn Quartet

As with his symphonies and some of his other works, Haydn wrote a ton of String Quartets. Just an absolute ton. This set collects the 23rd through 28th, all of which were written at the same time, as one cycle or collection. They are considered by most people to be the birth of the modern …

2010, TV

30 for 30: One Night in Vegas (2010, Reggie Rock Bythewood)

I thought this series was about sports… I am a white male who was born to middle class parents in Toronto in the early 1980s. I cannot, for my life, imagine what it is like to grow up sometimes fearing for your life. I’m sure it drastically affects your outlook on life, your behaviour, and …

2015, Politics, Society

It’s not just C-51 that’s the problem, it’s the System

I haven’t posted anything original in this space since February, in part because I am writing a new book, but in part because I have been a little depressed about the seeming inevitably of the government passing the worst piece of Federal legislation I have seen in my lifetime. (If you don’t know what C-51 …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Jordan Rides the Bus (2010, Ron Shelton)

This is a fascinating documentary which, for anyone who hasn’t yet seen it, should put to bed any idea that Jordan was “suspended” for gambling during his first retirement. Honestly, I wished I had paid more attention at the time – this is utterly fascinating. Is there any equivalent in sports history? The greatest player …

2010, TV

30 for 30: Little Big Men (2010, Al Szymanski)

This is a fascinating look at a little league team that became the pride of a nation, had the “greatest upset in Little League history” (supposedly) and was nearly destroyed by the attention it got. It’s a great cautionary tale – because imagine what it’s like for kids today – Mo’ne Davis – if it …