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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007

The dizzying maze of Ike and Tina Turner compilations is long and winding. Countless budget packages have flooded the market over the years, reducing the rich Ike and Tina catalog to an impulse purchase at the checkout line. The few quality releases out there often only skim the surface. Except for the single-disc Proud Mary: The Best of Ike and Tina Turner (1991), there really hasn’t been an exhaustive anthology of their entire 15-year career, partly due to licensing music from the numerous record companies that own different parts of the catalog. (Ike was always on the hunt for a more lucrative record deal.) Time-Life has mustered the financial might to compile the definitive collection of Ike and Tina Turner: The Ike and Tina Turner Story 1960-1975 is, essentially, all you’ll ever need to know. Definitive in nearly every possible way, this set is the exclamation point on an act that bridged together rock and soul and black and white audiences. Often overlooked, but not easily forgotten, Ike and Tina Turner represent a time when the spectacle of a stage show and the talent of the performers were of equal magnitude. Colin Escott ends his liner notes with the following analysis: “These are some of the records they made. The ones that matter.” I couldn’t agree more.



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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007

I’ll admit it, I was skeptical. I thought our own L.B. Jeffries might have sucked down one too many helium balloons as a small child when he took on the assignment of reviewing the American Idol Talent Challenge and actually decided he liked it. Of course, this meant I had to try it.  And you know what? He’s right. The quality of the little contraption you get in the box with the fairly disposable DVD with the judge snark and the Idol-specific karaoke tracks is actually quite high for such an inexpensive karaoke machine. It will work just fine with a typical karaoke DVD, it will work fine with your DVD-Audio copy of Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (as long as you don’t mind singing along with Wayne Coyne), and L.B.‘s right, it works especially well when you want to insert your own Mystery Science Theater-style commentary into the latest DVD release of, say, Gigli. It’s a fun party contraption for adults, and I don’t think I have to explain why kids love the thing. Fifty bucks might seem a bit much for an American Idol-branded hunk of plastic, but the possibilities it opens up are surprising, not to mention lasting.


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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007

Sam Pulsipher has many problems. Not only did he burn down Emily Dickinson’s home, but he also killed two people. And while he’s married and started to raise a family, the son of the victims begins to make life difficult for him. And then other writers’ homes start to go up in flames. Sam’s fictional memoir, which slavishly obeys the clichés of the genre, is one of the funniest books of this fall. Brock Clarke’s An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England unsparingly anatomizes our penchant for narrating our lives—our bizarre insistence that our life doesn’t count until it fits a prepackaged set of cultural conventions. The book is a literary funhouse, and its best trick is how readily Clarke makes us believe in the gag. Sam is such an engaging bumbler that one’s heart goes out to him, one wants to believe in his story, even at those moments when it’s absolutely clear that we’re being had.


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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007

The official visual documentation of the recent Springsteen world tour arrives just in time in the “American Land” like an injection of bottled euphoria after a deadly struggle with depression. A pot of coffee after a hang over, a smile from a pretty woman, a white flag rising from the air after a gut-shredding battle, dawn after dusk—Springsteen and his talented band blast through the wreckage of a war-weary nation, hurricane disaster zone, and de-industrialized poverty and crime-stricken wasteland that is still called the United States.



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Wednesday, Dec 12, 2007

For the environmentally conscious hippy or ‘60s soul head, UMe offers up four new entries in their Number 1’s series. These CDs are 100% paper-recyclable, a nice change of pace from the plastic-hungry standard jewelbox. They also look sharp and colorful with their classy duotone covers and #1 cut-outs with solid bright colors. Inaugurating this green series are red-hot Motown classics like The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross & the Supremes, and Motown Number 1’s Vol. 2, the CDs are packed to the gills with one standard after another.


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