2020 IN MUSIC (PART 4 OF 4) – ALBUMS 25-1

I began my yearly Pop music wrap-up with Part 1 Saturday, re-capping most of my thoughts about the year in general and broached my favorite 25 songs of the year. Part 2 continued with my favorite LPs 175-101 listed, and then capsule reviews of 100-51 (in 25 LP increments). Yesterday’s Part 3, covered my favorite LPs listed 50-26 with brief reviews to each record. Today’s final offering is my favorite 25 records of the year. Enjoy and Happy listening.

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2020 IN MUSIC (PART 3 OF 4) – ALBUMS 50-26

I began my yearly Pop music wrap-up with Part 1 Saturday, re-capping most of my thoughts about the year in general and broached my favorite 25 songs of the year. Part 2 continued with my favorite LPs 175-101 listed, and then capsule reviews of 100-51 (in 25 LP increments). Today I continue with Part 3, my favorite LPs listed 50-26 with brief reviews to each record (the final installment, Part 4, covers records 25-1 and is here). Enjoy and Happy listening.

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2020 IN MUSIC (PART 2 OF 4) – Albums 175-51

I began my yearly Pop music wrap-up with Part 1 yesterday, re-capping most of my thoughts about the year in general and broached my favorite 25 songs of the year. Today I continue with my favorite LPs 175-101 listed, and then capsule reviews of 100-51 (in 25 LP increments). Part 3, 50-26 is here (the final installment, Part 4, covers records 25-1 and is here). Enjoy and Happy listening.

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2020 in Music (Part 1 of 4) – Favorite 25 songs

I can’t recall a recent year from memory that will leave such a stark set of distinct memories as 2020 will, the result of a year full of ominous events and much hardship. Major historical events came, from hellacious wildfires to a global COVID-19 pandemic, every week lurched forward as the months slowly passed, you gradually learned that getting out of bed meant scrolling what only promised to be more bad news. Then, at the end of May, more did come when a Minneapolis cop, Derek Chauvin murdered African-American George Floyd who was in his custody for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill. The punishment—putting the full brunt of his weight on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 full minutes, effectively suffocating him—was extreme for such a relatively small crime, or any crime for that matter. But given it was caught on video tape, it ceased to be merely another in a string of assaults, or worse murder, at the hands of the police, and sparked world wide protests in response. Some, in various degrees, remain. Then there was was the constant anxiety offered from the White House, whether it was impeachment at the beginning of the year, or a COVID-19 response that skirted scientists, preached the virtues of possibly drinking bleach as a cure, and generally always bordered on a circus clown show. Then, the eventual questioning of the democratic process as a whole, 2020 couldn’t go out any other way. More specifically to Pop, as any year can attest, we lost a number of true legends, from legendary pioneer Little Richard, drummer Neil Peart, Soul Makossa, soul singer-songwriter Bill Withers, folk balladeer John Prine, Afrobeat legend Tony Allen, trailblazer Millie Small (who authored ‘My Boy Lollipop’ one of the sweetest pieces of Pop confection you’ll ever hear), Phil May, Ennio Morricone (who touched Pop only briefly, but did hundreds of great soundtracks that have transfixed rockers since his earliest efforts), Peter Green, Wayne Fontana, electronic originator Simeon Coxe, Toots Hibbert, Johnny Nash, guitar maverick and virtuoso Eddie Van Halen, Gordon Haskell, Spencer Davis, Charley Pride, and Leslie West, amongst dozens of others.  

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My Top 894 Horror Films

Pieces (J.P. Simon… 1982)

As I’ve done twice in the past, here is a compendium ordering of my favorite film genre, Horror, updated to include—to the best of my ability—my lifetime within the genre*. It’s dedicated to anyone who’s ever laughed while being frightened, who’s ever been willing to watch anything past 500 or so. Happy Halloween.

The previous version of this list, published in 2016, is here.

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My Favorite 150 Records of 2019

It was, by nearly all accounts, a tremendous year for Pop. Of course, given the nearly limitless ways new music can be offered out and streamed, this is true for any given year. There are never bad years for music, just as there are never bad years for movies, the only difficulty is perhaps the opposite; the extreme over-abundance of riches and the difficulty to stream all, or even a reasonable percentage of it. Meaning, I’m presenting a huge list this year because I listened to a lot, being blessed to work at a job where hours are spent working with headphones affixed in my ears for long passages. Thus, I got to well over 250 new releases this year, and sampled dozens more enough that I could make judgement. But still I know there are masterpieces that I haven’t even heard of, and probably never will. Such is life, but I do hope I offer enough of an argument to prompt listens to new music that a reader here wasn’t previously aware. I remain, as ever, a devoted follower in the Church of the Sonic Guitar.

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2019 OCTOBER HORROR-A-THON: THE SECOND ELEVEN

Horrors of the Black Museum (A. Crabtree… 1959)
Circus of Horrors (S. Hayers… 1960)

Anglo-Amalgamated Productions, the great rival to Hammer in late 50’s/early 60’s British genre cinema, has largely been absent from discussion when great works of the period are debated. Hammer had the heavies in front of the camera (Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Barbara Shelley and Oliver Reed) as well as behind it (Freddie Francis, Terence Fisher, Jimmy Sangster) and, in the subsequent years, lucrative home video distribution deals, always insuring that their films were easily available in VHS or DVD packages across region. I wondered if that was why Hammer has so lapped AAP in genre fans opinions, as outside the two Corman UK Poe films made with AAP (Masque of the Red Death and Tomb of Ligeia) you don’t often hear the films uttered positively with the greats. Perhaps when you look through their catalogue you begin to see why: nearly half are Carry On films, the British version of National Lampoon; cheeky humor, often made solely to cash in on poking fun at prevailing popular movements and genres elsewhere (akin to ‘spoof’ movies). Then there are all the dramas: kitchen sink/angry young man films that they made about about a dozen of, many of which are masterpieces of their type, but decidedly not Horror. Criterion’s release of Peeping Tom (1960) more than a decade ago helped expose it to many American fans, myself included, but it was often stated on the back of Michael Powell’s shoulders, and not anything to do with AAP’s assistance. Taken all together, it’s not hard to see why they’ve lagged against Hammer then, Hammer was committed to one type of film and they poured out variations, some having more gore than others, all having a baseline in quality insuring they were the high-water mark (still) for British Horror. But AAP, at the dawn of the 60’s, managed three films in stark relief to Hammer’s supernatural hysterics and spooky period films. There’s the earlier mentioned Peeping Tom, one of Horror’s darkly subversive and perverse masterworks, and then there’s the two being considered today. Taken as a trio, remarkably, they’re nearly able to challenge the first wave of Hammer films that grossly outnumbered them. Continue reading

My Top 113 Television Productions

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When I was asked years ago to rank television, I attempted my best to contain all the TV works I’d seen, finally putting it here for records sake. While 113 is a strange number to land on, it was just what I considered the ones I’ve seen that I’d say approach masterful, or at least highly entertaining status. So grab your TV dinners, turn off the hot plate, and enjoy!

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