Friday, April 18, 2014

GEM CITY COMIC CON



Earlier this month I took my boys to Gem City Comic Con in Dayton.  This was my second year attending a fun show with good guests and amazing deals.

The guests were the focus of my 'to do' list.  First up, writer Mike Barr, co-creator of the Outsiders, we'll remembered for his years writing Batman and Star Trek comics.  Mike still freelances, recently for Bongo Comics and for Star Wars magazine (on stands now).

Mark Waid is one of the best comics writers around.  He currently writes Daredevil and Hulk.  I thanked him for the two times he saved Captain America, having taken over from mediocre or downright awful writers and bringing new vitality to the book.


I had Waid sign my copy of Superman: The Golden Age Sundays 1943-1946, for which he wrote the forward.  I learned his more important contribution to the book was that the strips reprinted in the book came from his personal collection.  He had long been hoping for a way to archive or protect these strips, as of all of his collection they were the hardest thing to replace.  Now they are not only preserved but enjoyed by the world.

photo by Noah (age 6)

The big treat for me was meeting comics artist/writer/historian Trina Robbins (though she calls herself an 'herstorian').  Robbins' greatest contribution, in my view, is as champion/documenter of the women cartoonists who came before her.  These women had to fight hard to get recognized in the boys' club of cartoonists.  Without Robbins' works, like "A Century of Women Cartoonists" or Pretty in Ink, many of these names might have been lost to obscurity.  Robbins is still writing new graphic novels as well, which you can read more about at her site.


Robbins started out as an artist in underground comix in the 1970s, in such feminist titles as "Wimmen's Comix" and "Girl Fight Comics."  These comics not only presented a woman's point of view in a male-dominated industry, but also explored female sexuality (see, didn't I say that nicely?).  She signed copy of "Wet Satin" #1 by writing - "To Matt, Best X-Rated wishes - Trina Robbins."  Now, you may ask, is it a little awkward to have a 75 year old woman sign her old nudie comics for you?  Yes.  Yes it is.

Scrounging for some good reads worked out for me as well.  I was happy to find some Disney comics drawn by Al Hubbard, an underrated Disney artist.  My best find was "Abraham Stone," a 1991 Joe Kubert graphic novel that I passed over in my youthful ignorance.


The boys were with me, too.  They had a good time, but mainly because somebody was selling Legos!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

MATT'S MUSIC REPORT - SPRING 2014



Recent Releases of Note
  • Beach Boys - The Big Beat 1963 [iTunes exclusive]
  • Beatles - The BBC Archives: 1962-1970 [book w/ transcripts of the BBC appearances]
  • Beatles - All These Years: Tune In [volume 1 of 3 of the Mark Lewisohn biography]
  • Beatles - On the Air: Live at the BBC, Volume 2 [2-CD set]
  • Beatles - Live at the BBC [reissue of 1994 2-CD set]
  • Beatles - Bootleg Recordings 1963 [iTunes exclusive]
  • Beatles - The U.S. Albums [13-CD box set]
  • Beck - Gimme [single]
  • Beck - Morning Phase
  • Billie Joe + Norah - foreverly
  • Eric Clapton - Unplugged [2-CD/1-DVD reissue w/ bonus tracks]
  • Eric Clapton - Give Me Strength: The '74/'75 Recordings [5-CD/1 Blu-Ray]
  • David Crosby - Croz 
  • Bob Dylan - The Bootleg Series, Vol. 10 - Another Self Portrait (1969-1971) [2-CD or 4-CD sets]
  • Steve Hackett - Genesis Revisited: Live at Hammersmith [3-CD/2-DVD]
  • Dhani Harrison - For You Blue [charity single]
  • John Hiatt - Here to Stay - Best of 2000-2012
  • Elton John - The Diving Board
  • John Lennon - The Bermuda Tapes [Interactive App]
  • Julian Lennon - Through the Picture Window [DVD]
  • Nick Lowe - Quality Street
  • Eleni Mandell - Let's Fly a Kite
  • Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell - Live 
  • Paul McCartney - New
  • Mike + the Mechanics - The Singles (1986-2013) [2-CD]
  • Graham Nash - Wild Tales [autobiography]
  • Willie Nelson - To All the Girls...
  • P!nk - The Truth About Love Tour: Live from Melbourne [DVD]
  • Mike Rutherford - The Living Years [memoir]
  • Rutles - Rutles Anthology [2-DVD]
  • William Shatner - Ponder the Mystery
  • Paul Simon - Complete Album Collection [15-CD box set]
  • Paul Simon - Over the Bridge of Time [compilation]
  • Frank Sinatra - Sinatra, with Love
  • Smithereens - The Smithereeens Play the Beatles Washington, D.C. February 11th, 1964 Concert
  • Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes
  • Ringo Starr - Octopus's Garden [children's book]
  • Benmont Tench - You Should Be So Lucky
  • Andy Williams - The Complete Christmas Recordings [2-CD]
  • Neil Young - Live at the Cellar Door
  • various - American Hustle [soundtrack featuring Jeff Lynne]
  • various - Bob Dylan: The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration [2-CD reissue or first time on DVD and Blu-ray]
  • various - The 78 Project, Vol. 1 [vinyl or download, feat. Loudon Wainwright III]
  • various - Sweet Relief III: Pennies from Heaven [charity album featuring Eleni Mandell]
  • various - This is the Town: A Tribute to Harry Nilsson

Upcoming Releases
  • Beatles - A Hard Day's Night [Criterion DVD [1 disc] or Blu-ray [3-disc] release [6/24]
  • Laurie Berkner - Lullabies [4/8]
  • Johnny Cash - Out Among the Stars [unreleased 1980 project][3/25]
  • Billy Joel - A Matter of Trust: The Bridge to Russia [2-CD/1-DVD set][5/20]
  • Elton John - Goodbye Yellow Brick Road [3/25]
    • Super Deluxe Edition - Album reissue, rarities & covers disc, 2-disc live from 1973, DVD documentary
    • Deluxe Edition - Album reissue with rarities & covers disc
    • Single disc Edition - album reissue only
  • Led Zeppelin - reissue of first three albums remastered [6/3]
    • Single disc editions for each album
    • Deluxe editions for each, featuring live and unreleased material
      • 3-CD for the debut, then 2-CD each for II & III
    • Vinyl versions of the deluxe editions
    • Super Deluxe Edition with the CDs, vinyl + download code, a 70-page book and original press kit replica
  • Mike + the Mechanics - Living Years: 25th Anniversary Edition [4/8]
    • 2-CD w/ bonus and live cuts
  • Roy Orbison - Mystery Girl 25th Anniversary Edition [5/16]
    • CD/DVD w/ 5 bonus tracks
  • Neil Young - A Letter Home [mid-2014]
  • various - Country Boy: A Bluegrass Tribute to John Denver [3/25]


Record Store Day - April 19th
  • ABBA - Waterloo [7" single]
  • Byrds - Straight for the Sun [2-LP 1971 live concert]
  • Johnny Cash - With His Hot & Blue Guitar [reissue of 1957 debut LP, limited to 3000]
  • Sam Cooke - Ain't That Good News [reissue of Cooke's last studio LP]
  • Creedence Clearwater Revival - The '69 Singles [10" record]
  • Everly Brothers - Roots [LP reissue]
  • Everly Brothers - Songs Our Daddy Taught Us [LP reissue]
  • Fleetwood Mac - Dragonfly [7" single from 1970]
  • Genesis - From Genesis to Revelation [LP reissue]
  • Norman Greenbaum - Spirit in the Sky [LP reissue]
  • Idle Race - The Birthday Party [reissue of 1968 debut on gold vinyl]
  • Gordon Lightfoot - Sundown [LP audiophile reissue]
  • Dean Martin - Dream with Dean [reissue of 1964 LP]
  • Randy Newman - Randy Newman [LP reissue of debut album]
  • Jimmy Page & the Black Crowes - Live at the Greek [3 LP on colored vinyl]
  • Jill Sobule - Dottie's Charms [new album that will debut on LP, released on digital and CD in May]
  • Ronnie Spector & the E Street Band - Say Goodbye to Hollywood [reissue of 1977 single]
  • Regina Spektor - You've Got Time [7" single on orange vinyl]
  • Bruce Springsteen - American Beauty [12" 4 song EP]
  • Hank Williams - The Garden Spot Programs, 1950 [10" vinyl EP]
  • various - The Folk Box [reissue of 4-LP box set originally released by Elektra in 1964]


On Tour in the Tri-State
  • America
    • Louisville - 8/16
  • Aziz Ansari
    • Cincinnati - 4/25; Columbus - 4/26
  • Beck
    • Cleveland - 6/19; Columbus - 6/20
  • Dan Bern
    • Cleveland - 3/24; Newport - 3/25
  • Mike Birbiglia
    • Columbus - 3/19
  • Chubby Checker
    • Rising Sun - 3/22
  • Chicago
    • Louisville - 5/17; Cleveland - 5/20; Evansville - 5/21; Indy - 8/10; Cincinnati - 8/13
  • Miley Cyrus 
    • Columbus - 4/13; Louisville - 4/19
  • Jay Farrar
    • Louisville - 4/30; Indy - 5/1
  • Jim Gaffigan
    • Ft. Wayne - 3/23; Toledo - 3/24; Cleveland - 3/28
  • Indigo Girls
    • Lexington - 4/7; Columbus - 4/26
  • Billy Joel
    • Louisville - 4/6
  • Laurence Juber
    • Eaton - 5/22; Louisville - 5/25
  • Alison Krauss & Willie Nelson
    • Murray - 5/1; Columbus - 5/14; Toledo - 7/18; Cincinnati - 7/19
  • Gordon Lightfoot
    • Lexington - 6/26
  • Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers featuring Edie Brickell
    • Louisville - 6/6
  • Don McLean
    • Cleveland - 6/11
  • Steve Miller Band
    • Indy - 6/28; Cleveland - 7/8
  • Monkees
    • Cleveland - 6/7
  • Willie Nelson
    • Indy - 8/23
  • Over the Rhine
    • Indy - 3/28; Cincinnati - 4/25, 4/26
  • John Prine
    • Cleveland - 5/17
  • Pure Prairie League
    • Newport - 4/11
  • Amy Ray
    • Indy - 5/2
  • Brian Regan
    • Cleveland - 5/3
  • John Sebastian
    • Pomeroy - 4/12; Louisville - 5/24-25
  • Jerry Seinfeld
    • Indy - 4/11
  • Bruce Springsteen
    • Cincinnati - 4/8; Columbus - 4/15
  • Ringo Starr & his All-Starr Band
    • Cleveland - 6/29
  • Styx
    • Cincinnati - 6/5; Louisville - 8/15

Reviews

Shout! - Gov’t Mule (Blue Note)
by guest reviewer Jim Bates

Gov’t Mule has always struck me as a southern amalgamation of Crazy Horse and Humble Pie:  plodding jammy blues rock with a heavy guitar tone and a rhythm section covered in sludge.  The Mule started out as a power trio side project of Allman Brothers guitarist Warren Haynes.  After the death of bass player Allen Woody, they’ve expanded their sonic pallet with a keyboard player.  Working with Big Sugar impresario Gordie Johnson has also injected an occasional reggae and dub vibe into the proceedings.

Their latest album - "Shout!" - is an interesting concept: a two disc set with one disc of the songs played by Gov’t Mule and the second disc with the Mule backing up a myriad of guest singers on the same songs.  

Listening to the Mule disc, you can correctly guess who will sing on the second disc.  I pegged the reggaesque “Scared to Live” as perfect for Toots Hibbert, “Stoop So Low” as the Dr. John tune, Whisper in Your Soul” had Grace Potter written all over it, and “Captured” reeked of Jim James.  As usual, Gov’t Mule jam these songs out, with the shortest being 4:55 and “Bring on the Music” topping the scale at over 11 minutes.  They’re clearly in no hurry and enjoy the sludge.  The highlights are Warren’s guitar tone, his solos, his rugged vocals, and Matt Abt's drums.  The lyrics are often obvious in that blues tradition kinda way.  Some wish that the Mule would go back to their power trio days, but I enjoy the tasty additions of the keyboards, especially the clavinet.   About the only misstep is “Done Got Wise”, not because it’s a bad song, but because it’s such a Zeppelin pastiche that I'm worried Jimmy Page might sue.

Thankfully, the songs with the guests are re-recordings, not just the same tracks with new vocals.  Outside of Dr. John’s “Stoop So Low” - an awesome cut which totally rocks - they tend to be more succinct and less jammy.  While still being the Mule, here they adapt to complement their lead vocalist rather than just jamming away.  Most of the singers make sense, as they are fellow souls, but I prefer the originals.  It is interesting to hear Elvis Costello fronting Gov’t Mule.  I really wanted to prefer the Grace Potter cover of “Whisper in Your Soul”, but that is probably only because my girlfriend and I disagree on whether or not she’s actually hot.  I could do without Dave Matthews, but that is just me.  And who the heck are Glenn Hughes and Ty Taylor?  Overall, this album is a neat concept, but I see myself listening to the Mule disc more often than the guest disc.

Elton John - The Diving Board (Capitol) - I hadn't bought an Elton studio album since being disappointed by "The Big Picture" in 1997.  It was so dull I lost my copy in a rental car 10 years ago and never bothered to replace it.  I wasn't alone, as the three subsequent albums were all billed as a 'return to classic Elton form.'  This new album, hyped the same way, is the first time I bit, prodded by the albums pedigree of super-producer T-Bone Burnett.  There are some standout, memorable tracks, but the album suffers from an overall mid-tempo sameness.  Clocking in at nearly an hour, it would have benefitted from some editing.

Willie Nelson - To All the Girls... (Legacy) - Like last year's "Let's Face the Music and Dance", this album of duets is a lazy stroll through a comfortable catalog.  No stranger to duets, Willie pairs with a different female country singer on each of the 18 tracks.  There are old friends (Emmylou, Dolly and Loretta) and newer voices (Brandi Carlile, the Secret Sisters).  At nearly 70 minutes the album has a certain sameness to it, though he finds a different vibe to host Mavis Staples on "Grandma's Hands" and manages to cut loose on one track ("Bloody Mary Morning").  Plenty to like, but like mac and cheese, you only need so much.

William Shatner - Ponder the Mystery (Cleopatra) - What is this thing?  Shatner does his sing-talking act again, only this time with Billy Sherwood, a prog rocker and ex-member of Yes.  Sherwood handles the production, as well as backing vocals and most of the instruments.  Shatner handles the lyrics (i.e., odd Shat-man poetry) and emoting.  Shatner ponders they mystery of life in twilight, pushing to life life to the fullest and time slips away.  This one had to grow on me, unlike 2004's "Has Been" (one of my all-time favorite albums) and 2011's "Seeking Major Tom" (a fun novelty record, despite its loftier intentions).  Not for the faint of heart.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

PASSAGES 2013 - TV

Hello, and welcome to my annual list of our TV friends who passed away in the previous year.  It's a big list, but it's not comprehensive, as it only includes folks from shows I remember watching.  So, I'm sorry if I left out someone important to you.  A lot of the big stars of the 70s/80s died last year.  As Grandpa would say, "Time marcheth on."





1/2 - Jim Boyd, 79
  • Andy/J. Arthur Krank/Paul the Gorilla/Steve Awesome & others on "Electric Company" (1971-77)



1/2 - Ned Wertimer, 89
  • Ralph the Doorman on "The Jeffersons" (1975-84)





1/14 - Conrad Bain, 89
  • Dr. Arthur Harmon on "Maude" (1972-78)
  • Philip Drummond on "Diff'rent Strokes" (1978-86)
  • Charlie Ross on "Mr. President" (1987-88)



1/17 - Robert F. Chew, 52
  • Proposition Joe on "The Wire" (2002-08)



1/18 - Jeff Cahill, 44
  • Garrity Harman on "Dangerous Minds" (1996-97)
  • J.B. Murphy on "NYPD Blue" (1999-2000)






3/1 - Bonnie Franklin, 69
  • Ann Romano on "One Day at a Time" (1975-84)






3/16 - Frank Thornton, 92
  • Captain Peacock on "Are You Being Served?"



3/18 - Henry Bromell, 65
  • Writer/Producer on "Homicide: Life on the Street" (1994-96)



3/19 - Lester Lewis, 46
  • Consulting producer/writer on "The Office" (2005-09)



3/26 - Don Payne, 48
  • Producer/writer on "The Simpsons" (1999-2013)






4/4 - Roger Ebert, 70
  • "Sneak Previews" (1975-82)
  • "At The Movies" (1982-86)
  • "Siskel & Ebert" (1986-2000)
  • "Ebert & Roeper" (2000-08)
  • "Ebert Presents: At the Movies" (2010-11)





4/11 - Jonathan Winters, 87
  • Mearth on "Mork & Mindy" (1981-82)






4/13 - Frank Bank, 71
  • Clarence "Lumpy" Rutherford on "Leave it to Beaver" (1958-63)









4/14 - Mike Road, 95

  • Race Bannon on "Jonny Quest" (1964-65)
  • Ugh on "Space Ghost" (1966)
  • Zandor on "The Herculoids" (1967)
  • Mike Butler on "Valley of the Dinosaurs" (1974-76)
  • Reed Richards on "Fantastic Four" (1978)




4/19 - Allan Arbus, 95
  • Maj. Sidney Freedman on "M*A*S*H" (1973-83)






4/28 - Jack Shea, 84
  • Director - "The Jeffersons" (1975-79)[110 episodes]
  • "The Ropers" (1979-80)[all episodes]
  • "Silver Spoons" (1982-87)[90 episodes]
  • "The Charmings" (1987-88)[all episodes]






5/4 - Dean Jeffries, 80
  • Car customizer who made the Monkeemobile for "The Monkees" and Black Beauty for "The Green Hornet"





5/24 - Ed Shaughnessy, 84
  • Drummer for the "Tonight Show" band (1963-92)






5/31 - Jean Stapleton, 90
  • Edith Bunker on "All in the Family" (1971-79)
  • 3-time Emmy winner for Best Actress




6/14 - Elroy Schwartz, 89
  • Writer, "Gilligan's Island" (13 episodes)
  • "The Brady Bunch" (9 episodes)
  • the 3 Gilligan reunion movies (1978-81)
  • brother of producer Sherwood Schwartz





6/22 - Gary David Goldberg, 69
  • Creator of "Family Ties", "The Bronx Zoo" and "Spin City"
  • Founder of Ubu Productions ("Sit, Ubu.  Sit."


6/25 - George Burditt, 89
  • writer, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour" (58 episodes)
  • "Three's Company" (36 episodes)(1977-84)
  • "The Ropers" (8 episodes)
  • Executive producer, "Three's Company" (1981-84)
  • "Three's a Crowd" (1984-85)




7/14 - Dennis Burkley, 67
  • Cal Pettie on "Sanford" (1980-81)
  • Principal Moss on "King of the Hill" (1997-2010)

7/22 - Dennis Farina, 69
  • Det. Joe Fontana on "Law & Order" (2004-06)
  • Gus Demitriou on "Luck" (2012)

7/28 - Eileen Brennan, 80
  • Capt. Doreen Lewis on "Private Benjamin" (1981-83)



8/11 - Henry Polic II, 68
  • Jerry Silver on "Webster" (1983-89)
  • Scarecrow on "Batman: The Animated Series" (1992-94)

8/14 - Lisa Robin Kelly, 43
  • Laurie Forman on "That '70s Show" (1998-2003)

8/19 - Lee Thompson Young, 29
  • Victor Stone on "Smallville" (3 episodes, 2006-10)
  • Det. Barry Frost on "Rizzoli & Isles" (2010-13)

9/16 - Patricia Blair, 80
  • Janice Taft on the "Operation Firebee" episode of "Steve Canyon" (1959)
  • Lou Mallory on "The Rifleman" (1962-63)


9/16 - Kim Hamilton
  • the original Helen Willis on "All in the Family" before "The Jeffersons" was spun off (1 episode, 1975)



9/18 - Richard Sarafian, 83
  • Director, "I Spy" (8 episodes)


10/19 - Jon Locke, 86
  • Sleestack Leader on "Land of the Lost" (1976)




10/25 - Marcia Wallace, 70
  • Carol Kester on "The Bob Newhart Show" (1972-78)
  • Edna Krabappel on "The Simpsons" (1990-2013)
  • Maggie Hawley on "That's My Bush" (2001)



10/31 - Toby Bluth, 64
  • Layout artist
    • "Scooby's Laff-a-Lympics" (1977)
    • "Challenge of the SuperFriends" (1978)
    • "Godzilla" (1978-79)
  • Background stylist
    • "Smurfs" (1981)

11/7 - Paul Mantee, 82
  • Sgt. Taliman on the "Operation Firebee" episode of "Steve Canyon" (1959)
  • Health Inspector on "The Pie" episode of "Seinfeld" (1994)

11/12 - Al Ruscio, 89
  • Five different episodes of "Barney Miller"
  • Coffee shop manager in "The Pilot" episode of "Seinfeld" (1993)

12/22 - Marco Zappia, 76
  • TV editor
    • "All in the Family" (95 episodes)
    • "Archie Bunker's Place" (97 episodes)
    • "Who's the Boss?" (187 episodes)

12/31 - James Avery, 68
  • Judge Conover on "L.A. Law" (9 episodes)(1988-92)
  • Philip Banks on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" (1990-96)


STAR TREK




3/13 - Malachi Throne, 84
  • False Face on "Batman" (1966)
  • Commodore Mendez on "The Menagerie" 2-part episode of "Star Trek" (1966)





3/24 - Peter Duryea, 73
  • Lt. Jose Tyler on "The Cage" pilot episode of "Star Trek" (1965)






3/29 - Jim Mees, 57
  • Emmy-award winning set designer for the "Star Trek" TV franchise (1988-2002)




7/31 - Michael Ansara, 85
  • Sam Buckhart in "Law of the Plainsman" (1959-60), a spinoff of "The Rifleman"
  • Kang in "Day of the Dove" episode of "Star Trek", reprising the role twice on later Trek shows


9/27 - Jay Robinson, 83
  • Lord Petri in the "Elaan of Troyus" episode of "Star Trek" (1968)






10/17 - Lou Scheimer, 74
  • co-founder of Filmation
  • Voice Actor for
    • Dumb Donald/Stinger on "Fat Albert" (1972-85)
    • Orko/Stratos/King Randor/Trap Jaw/Kobra Khan on "He-Man" (1983-85)
  • Producer or Executive Producer for
    • "The New Adventures of Superman"
    • "Aquaman"
    • "The Archie Show"
    • "Fat Albert & the Cosby Kids"
    • "The Brady Kids"
    • "Star Trek"
    • "The Ghost Busters" (live action)
    • "Gilligan's Planet"
    • "Blackstar"
    • "He-Man and the Masters of the Universe"


12/28 - Joseph Ruskin, 89
  • Galt on "The Gamesters of Triskelion" episode of "Star Trek" (1968)