The Unreleased Recordings is a bit of a godsend. Like reading Virginia Woolf’s diaries or seeing the metamorphosis of Jackson Pollock through exhibit, this collection serves to help complete the picture of a human being we can never know too much about. The songs come from radio station WSM in Nashville, Tennessee. In 1951, Hank Williams stopped by every so often to record 15-minute segments that were then played early in the morning. He sang some of his own songs and covered many of his personal favorites. His backing bands and singers were always top-notch. Best of all, the quality is exceptional. WSM clearly knew to take care of these acetates and the transfer to digital could not be better. Taken together, these factors add up to a perfect treasure. This is a collection for the obsessive, the skeptic, and even the novice, who will feel grateful rather than overwhelmed that there are a full three discs worth of material to plunder.
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Guidebooks that tell you what to put on your iPod are ubiquitous these days. The album guide (yesteryear’s Rolling Stone and Trouser Press volumes) has been replaced by the playlist recommendation tome. They are flooding the market and aim to be definitive, but the Rough Guide entry is the best of the current batch. With characteristic Rough Guide depth, The Best Music You’ve Never Heard aims to highlight lesser known but very worthy artists across a wide array of genres such as rock, indie, alt-country, soul, blues, folk, electronic and more. That broad-based approach to culture is bound to appeal to PopMatters readers, even if many of these artists are, in fact, already well-known by our savvy audience.
It’s been over eight years since Diablo II came out, and in that time we’ve seen a serious dearth of quality point ‘n click role playing. Sacred 2 is no Diablo—I mean, what is?—but for now it fills the point ‘n click role playing void nicely. Playing Sacred 2, there’s a good chance you spend a lot of time looking at the scenery and the art design, as it is invariably lush and colorful. Sacred 2 eschews any sense of realism for a setting that is truly a “fantasy” world, and the game benefits for it. The oft-reported bugs in the game really don’t manifest all that often, and there’s a mischievous sense of humor that it comes out with every once in a while keep you from getting bored as you hack and slash your way through the typical cave, forest, and town-based settings. MMOs get all of the press these days, but Sacred 2 is proof that there is still plenty of non-MMO RPG life left in PC-exclusive gaming after all.
Hunter S. Thompson was patient zero for what would become known as ‘Gonzo journalism’. And 50 years later the infection spreads unchecked, and we have adapted. Writers everywhere emulate his style (and get published); readers still revere his words and methods. This 5-CD set of previously unreleased tapes of Thompson’s adventures captured on his tape recorder will feel as good and immediate as a shot directly to the bloodstream; from his audible renditions of his life with the Hell’s Angels to his time in Vietnam just before the fall of Saigon. This set is the perfect hook-up for those with the most severe Gonzo symptoms.
He’s traveled around the world in 79 days (besting literary adventurer Phileas Fogg by a mere 24 hours), went pole to pole, traversed the entire Pacific Rim “full circle”, hit both the Sahara and the Himalayas, and walked in the footsteps of favorite author Ernest Hemingway. Now, all of these ex-Python’s extraordinary travelogues are available in a whopping 19-DVD boxset. While he tends to follow the Lonely Planet philosophy of sightseeing, Palin provides enough warmth, wit, and wisdom to make these various trips around the globe well worth revisiting again and again. And you can’t beat the BBC cinematography. Simply breathtaking!