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Monday, Nov 19, 2007

Punk 365 by Holly George-Warren [$29.95]

Silent Pictures by Pat Graham [$22.95]

Coffee table books are always a good bet for that person who has everything. At least you can bet they already have a coffee table to put the books on. This season brings three excellent volumes spanning rock history from the 1960s up to the indie present. Lynn Goldsmith is a brand name in rock photography and this simply titled tome, Rock and Roll, begins simply with a 1964 snap of the Fab Four’s Cuban boot- heeled feet and ends with the 1980 John Lennon vigil following the Beatle’s assassination. In between, Goldsmith photographed every legend in the biz and branched out into blues, soul, and reggae, as well.  Mostly bypassing punk for rock and pop and then new wave, Goldsmith nevertheless documented decades worth of great musicians. For that punk dose, head on over to Punk 365, which features the shutter work of seminal talents like Bob Gruen, Roberta Bayley, and a dozen or more leading lights, as well as the fine writing of Holly George-Warren. Equally strong on documenting both UK and US punk, Punk 365 is chock full of classic and illuminating images. Meanwhile, for the indie obsessive hipster of today, Pat Graham brings us Silent Pictures, a collection documenting nearly 20 years of American indie musical history. From Fugazi to Ted Leo and Bikini Kill to Modest Mouse, the major touchstones are all mostly here and accounted for. [Amazon: Rock and Roll | Punk 365 | Silent Pictures]


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Monday, Nov 19, 2007

With his passing this year, it seems appropriate that digital’s preeminent preserver of cinematic art would release this mandatory box set. Featuring Smiles from a Summer Night, The Seventh Seal, The Virgin Spring and Wild Strawberries, it’s the perfect primer for the Bergman novice, as well as a stunning reminder of the man’s artistry and import. The random dismissals at his death were unfortunate at best. Perhaps this DVD release will change the minds of those unfamiliar with this Swedish master’s cinematic stature. He’s considered timeless for a reason—as these four fabulous films suggest. [Amazon]


The Seventh Seal (1957) - Trailer



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Monday, Nov 19, 2007

Do you miss the classics? Let me guess, you don’t have the time or the energy to drive 45 minutes to the local hole-in-the-wall arcade just so you can play a game of Pac-Man. Namco feels your pain. Namco knows that it’s been so long since you managed to pass enough levels to get the big shield in Galaga that—shock, horror—you’ve forgotten what it looks like. That’s why they’ve provided us with Namco Museum DS, a slick little package that gives you the classics and little else. Given the limited resolution of the DS, it was nice of Namco to include as many display options as it does. You can play the classics while holding the DS the classic way, you can play on its side, you can crunch the aspect ratio to make it fit, or you can play in the full arcade resolution, which produces a panning effect as you move from side to side. Interestingly, the panning even adds a new element of challenge to the games herein. There are some fantastic long-lost inclusions here like the forgotten Mappy, and if you have a buddy with a DS, you can partake in some fantastic Pac-Man Vs. action. If you’re anything like me, though, Namco Museum DS will turn the DS into your Galaga machine, and there’s not a single thing wrong with that. [Amazon]



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Monday, Nov 19, 2007

Starting with the arresting cover art by Gerhard Richter, and continuing with the whopping 71 minutes of music therein, Sonic Youth’s sixth album brazenly attempted to be iconic when it first came out in the fall of 1988, and it succeeded on every level. Similar to what the Velvet Underground did on The Velvet Underground and Nico in 1967, and Television on Marquee Moon in 1977, Daydream Nation achieves the kind of musical trifecta that so perfectly suits a band hailing from New York City, in which the avant-garde, the primal, and the pop-oriented coalesce into one groundbreaking whole. [Amazon]


Sonic Youth - Teenage Riot



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Monday, Nov 19, 2007

For jazz fans, and fans of American music in general, the early recordings of singer Billie Holiday should already be gospel—essential and cherished source material for the foundational pleasures of all the music that would come later. Without Billie singing “What a Little Moonlight Can Do”, there is no Sinatra, no Ray Charles, no Joni Mitchell, and no Miles Davis. Billie’s singing—indeed her musicianship and understanding of a lead voice’s relation to the band and to the beat—is an international treasure. This four-disc box set contains all the essential music that Holiday recorded between 1935 and 1942. Though the members of the band shift over the sessions and years, the model was established in the early tracks—the singer floats over a small swing group (piano, guitar, bass, drums and several horns playing obbligato, lines and counterpoint) with dramatic, effortless flow. On these sides, Holiday takes the art of Louis Armstrong and transforms it into something new—she personalizes Pops’ elastic, emotional vocal style and brings it a radical subtlety and simplicity. She stamps her crackling vocal sound so thoroughly on these songs that many of them will forever be hers, despite a hundred other singers trying them on for size. This music, this body of 80 short recordings, is the mother lode. [Amazon]


Billie Holiday - Strange Fruit



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