Monday, September 27, 2010

BOOK REVIEWS: Hollywood Hellraisers - Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson

Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson at the 62nd A...Image via WikipediaBy Andy Webb

Back in 2009, Robert Sellers gave us the first of the "Hollywood Hellraisers" books which focussed upon the lives and careers of legendary hellraisers Richard Burton, Richard Harris, Peter O'Toole and Oliver Reed.

Now he has given us another book in the series, "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson", which focuses on the wild lives of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson, 4 acting legends who are as famous for their exploits as they are for their acting.

Coming in at just over 300 pages you may feel that Sellers barely scratches the surface as he covers the lives of these 4 acting legends. But what he does is craft the book so that the lives of these 4 acting legends almost crossover so we discover how they started in similar ways, became friends, ended up sharing some of the same sexual conquests and so on whilst also giving those expected elements of looking at their childhoods through to adult life. It gives it a feeling of an ongoing story with 4 principle players whose lives are full of sex,drugs, drinking, wild parties and of course a movie career.

How Robert Sellers achieves this is that each of the actors lives share the same timeline, so whilst we learn about Brando's break into acting you also learn what Hopper, Nicholson and Beatty were up to at the same time. It makes it fascinating because whilst at times the actors are separate entities there is always something linking them such as other actors like James Dean or acting coaching. It's actually quite surprising how interweaved these 4 actors lives were even in their younger days.

But as you would probably expect where "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson" is at its most fascinating is in the way it opens up the lives of these 4 notorious Hollywood hellraisers. It's almost comical the way these stars lived from Brando's semi paranoia, Hopper's drug fuelled madness and the womanizing antics of Beatty and Nicholson. But it's also interesting, especially when it tackles subjects such as the shooting at Brando's home, the murder of Sharon Tate who was a close friend of Warren Beatty and so on.

For me personally I enjoyed the look into the life of Brando, the fact he often never learned his lines and had someone reciting them in his ear. Also the fact that he was forced to act again as he needed the money. But the lives of the other 3 actors are just as fascinating especially that of Dennis Hopper and his maverick tendencies when it came to his career. As such you also get a real insight into the cult classic "Easy Rider" and the numerous issues which came whilst making it. But at the same time there is also a tender side to the Dennis Hopper part of the book especially how it highlights that the death of his close friend James Dean seriously affected him.

The Jack Nicholson and Warren Beatty parts of the book are just as good and there is something rather comical about the way they managed to score one sexual conquest after another. But at the same time whilst reading "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson" you also understand that both men had serious power in and outside of Hollywood with Beatty having his finger on the pulse of everything go on.

What this all comes down to is that Robert Sellers "Hollywood Hellraisers: The Wild Lives and Fast Times of Marlon Brando, Dennis Hopper, Warren Beatty and Jack Nicholson" is a cracking read full of fascinating information on these 4 Hollywood legends. In fact it's not only so full of information but also so well written that you feel like you have read an in-depth biography on each of the legends instead of approximately 80 pages on each.

Andy Webb writes movies reviews covering everything from the classics through to modern. To read reviews by Andy Webb please visit The Movie Scene.

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Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Flaming Lips Take On 'Dark Side of the Moon'

Wayne Coyne in concert in January 2004Image via WikipediaBy Philip Hicks

To many diehard Pink Floyd fans, attempting to re-create the aural brilliance of their seminal, genre-defining masterstroke 'Dark Side of the Moon' is akin to utter blasphemy. All naysaying aside, if there were ever a band capable of even attempting the feat, then Oklahoma's favorite weirdo sons the Flaming Lips would certainly take the prize.

Teaming with singer Wayne Coyne's nephew in the form of 'Stardeath and White Dwarves', the Lips' take on Floyd is at once both exploratory as well as true to the source material. From the opening guitar squalls of 'Breathe', it quickly becomes clear that this is a more avant take on 'Dark Side...' - trippy yes, but dippy no. The Lips are as serious as a heart attack on the record, which is a large part of why the concept works so well.

Electro-trash queen Peaches and alternative nation godfather Henry Rollins provide the 'spoken' aspects of the album, and while their inclusion is neat they do make for some strange bedfellows. Rollins in particularly feels a tad forced re-creating the nutso laughs and British gentlemen conversations that pepper the original 'Dark Side...', although short of Tom Waits I can't really think of anyone else that could pull it off 100% convincingly.

Still, it's the strength of the Floyd songs and the Lips' power as creative visionaries that ultimately makes this updated 'Dark Side...' such a worthy head trip. "Us and Them" as well as "Brain Damage" are both perfectly suited to Coyne's high-octave croon, and the rest of the band's orchestration is ideally complimentary. I kept expecting them to spoil the mood with some overly-goofy elements, but thankfully the vibe remains deathly serious until that final fuzz-tastic bars of "Eclipse" drown out to a dull, epic roar. Once again, my hat goes off to the Flaming Lips, as this 'Dark side of the Moon' is truly out of this world.

A freelance writer, journalist, editor and all around info hound, Philip Hicks has been creating content since birth it seems. As an expert in a number of industries and subjects, Philip offers tremendous insight to help readers better understand a variety of topics. Some of Philip's work can be seen on, as well as a variety of other web and non-web locations. With a mind on always staying topical, Philip always strives to entertain, enlighten and engage. Enjoy!

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Let's Reminisce: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

Voyage to the Bottom of the SeaImage via WikipediaBy Mel Davey

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea was a TV show in the 1960s American fiction genre. The show was based on the 1961 movie starring Walter Pidgeon and Joan Fontaine. Irwin Allen created the television show, as well as writing and directing the film, a fact that made it possible to use the movie's costumes, sets, special effects models, props, and even footage in the television series' production. Irwin Allen eventually had four different science fiction series on television - Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea being the first. Underwater adventure was the show's overall theme.

ABC broadcast the TV show from September 1964 to March 1968. It would become the longest running television series of the American science fiction genre with continuing characters throughout the decade. 32 of the 110 episodes produced were filmed in black and white from 1964 to 1965, and the remaining 78 were shot in color.

The series had four seasons. The first two seasons were set in the (then) future of the 1970s. The two last seasons were set in the 1980s. The series starred David Hedison and Richard Basehart.

Paul Sawtell wrote the show's theme song, "The Seaview Theme." The beginning of the second season briefly featured a darker, more serious theme composed by Jerry Goldsmith, but was replaced shortly thereafter with the original song. The Goldsmith song featured as incidental music throughout the remainder of the series as both a re-orchestrated version and the original.

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Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bob Dylan Announces New Rarities Collection Set includes legendary Witmark Demos. Also slated: mono reissues of 1962-1968 albums

Bob Dylan at Lida Festival in Stockholm, Swede...Image via Wikipediaby Daniel Kreps at:

Bob Dylan will release the ninth volume of his Bootleg Series on October 19th, he has announced, confirming recent rumors. This edition will be the first official collection of the Witmark Demos, 47 songs that Dylan recorded between 1962 and 1964 for his first two publishers, Leeds Music and M. Witmark and Sons.

The tracks - which Dylan performed with only acoustic guitar, harmonica and some piano, all before he was 24 - include early versions of classics like "Blowin' in the Wind," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and "The Times They Are A-Changin'," plus 15 more recorded exclusively for the sessions, including "Ballad for a Friend," "The Death of Emmett Till" and "Guess I'm Doing Fine." The deluxe set will feature a booklet of photos from those sessions and in-depth liner notes by Colin Escott.

Also on October 19th, Columbia/Legacy will release Bob Dylan - The Original Mono Recordings, which feature Dylan's first eight LPs newly mastered from their first-generation mono mixes. The set - which spans 1962's Bob Dylan through 1968's John Wesley Harding - will come as a deluxe box and on 180-gram vinyl, and include a booklet of vintage photographs and an essay by Rolling Stone

The complete tracklist for The Bootleg Series Volume 9 - The Witmark Demos:

Disc 1:

1. "Man On The Street (Fragment)"
2. "Hard Times In New York Town"
3. "Poor Boy Blues"
4. "Ballad For A Friend"
5. "Rambling, Gambling Willie"
6. "Talking Bear Mountain Picnic Massacre Blues"
7. "Standing On The Highway"
8. "Man On The Street"
9. "Blowin' In The Wind"
10. "Long Ago, Far Away"
11. "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
12. "Tomorrow Is A Long Time"
13. "The Death of Emmett Till"
14. "Let Me Die In My Footsteps"
15. "Ballad Of Hollis Brown"
16. "Quit Your Low Down Ways"
17. "Baby, I'm In The Mood For You"
18. "Bound To Lose, Bound To Win"
19. "All Over You"
20. "I'd Hate To Be You On That Dreadful Day"
21. "Long Time Gone"
22. "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues"
23. "Masters Of War"
24. "Oxford Town"
25. "Farewell"

Disc 2

1. "Don't Think Twice, It's All Right"
2. "Walkin' Down The Line"
3. "I Shall Be Free"
4. "Bob Dylan's Blues"
5. "Bob Dylan's Dream"
6. "Boots Of Spanish Leather"
7. "Walls of Red Wing"
8. "Girl From The North Country"
9. "Seven Curses"
10. "Hero Blues"
11. "Whatcha Gonna Do?"
12. "Gypsy Lou"
13. "Ain't Gonna Grieve"
14. "John Brown"
15. "Only A Hobo"
16. "When The Ship Comes In"
17. "The Times They Are A-Changin'"
18. "Paths Of Victory"
19. "Guess I'm Doing Fine"
20. "Baby Let Me Follow You Down"
21. "Mama, You Been On My Mind"
22. "Mr. Tambourine Man"
23. "I'll Keep It With Mine"
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Sean Wilentz on 'Bob Dylan in America'

Photo from Bob Dylan's April 28, 2006 concert ...Image via WikipediaKevin Canfield, Special to The Chronicle

San Francisco Chronicle September 12, 2010 04:00 AM Copyright San Francisco Chronicle. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

In "Bob Dylan in America" (Doubleday; 390 pages; $28.95), Sean Wilentz notes that "(t)he number of serious studies of Dylan's work has grown large enough to constitute a small library." But the author's personal proximity to his subject makes this book hard to ignore.

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Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Beatles History - The Beginning of a Creative Revolution

beatles_avedon67Image by dag via Flickrby Jimmy Cox through Content Crooner:

Not every group sticks out in the annals of history the way The Beatles do. To be more exact, this group doesn't just stand out. They are part of what defines the story of the evolution of modern music. If the group never came to be, popular music as we know it would not be the same.

The group's origins can be traced back to 1960 when a teenage John Lennon set up The Quarrymen. The original line up included Stuart Sutcliffe and Pete Best. Paul McCartney and George Harrison joined at a later date. Sutcliffe eventually decided to leave the group but remained in good terms with the group until his early death in 1962 due to brain hemorrhage. Best on the other hand was let go and replaced by Ringo Starr.

It was not clear to Best why he was dismissed and the only explanation given was that the others did not want him in the group anymore. Apparently though, the drummer did not fit in with the group, being the only one who did not adopt the uniform band member appearance and who did not hang out after gigs. He was also deemed musically limited despite being hugely popular among fans. There is no telling for sure if the group would be the legend that it is now if Best was not pushed out.

With Starr on drums, the Beatles, as immortalized in history and collective memory was born in 1962. From the very start, Lennon and McCartney took the roles of songwriters and composers. Clearly though, the two composers differed significantly in style and form, a point of disparity that would later become more pronounced as relations among band members became strained. McCartney's music has been cited to be the more positive and extroverted of the two while Lennon's work is said to be more mature and grounded in reality.

Regardless of the differences between the composers though, they found common ground in merging a myriad of genres and influences. The revolutionary and inclusive approach of The Beatles is perhaps the main reason why their appeal has stretched across five decades. They are primarily labeled a rock and roll band but they have been known to integrate elements of folk, blues, pop, country, psychedelic and even classical and Celtic music.

What ultimately made the group special was that the variety of influences and styles did not appear to be the effect of evolution. The group's sound simply flowed naturally and smoothly wherever its focus lay. Listening to their albums today, there is no unbearable dissonant mixture of sound. There is only a mixing of elements into homogeneous masterpieces. This sat well with listeners all over the world as the group eventually took the US by storm in 1964 in a phenomenon that was to be permanently known in history as Beatlemania.

A deeper analysis of the story and style of band would probably be too excessive. After all, greater musical minds have weighed in and attempted to define the group's genius and outstanding commercial success. In a sense, there is no definite way to put a box around The Beatles history. Suffice it to say that they opened the doors to the popular acceptance of revolutionary, inventive and overreaching creativity.

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Friday, September 3, 2010

Modern Art and Artists - Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol during a reception for inaugural p...Image via WikipediaBy Joy C. Harrison

Andy Warhol is synonymous with modern art. When most people think modern art, they think of some of Warhol's most famous works. He was not only instrumental in the field of pop art, he was a fixture in the art community and New York City nightlife. His friends, all interesting characters themselves helped him create some of the most surreal pieces of film in American history.

Andy Warhol, born Andrew Warhola, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennslyvania to Ondrej and Julia Warhola, emigrants from Slovakia. As a child, Warhol developed chorea, a complication of scarlet fever that causes skin pigmentation blotchiness. His childhood was rough, having been abandoned by his mother and becoming an outcast at school. He found solace in movie stars and radio.

Warhol's talent was recognized after studying commercial art at what is now Carnegie Mellon University. He started his career as a magazine illustrator and advertising artist. He was later hired by RCA to design album covers and promo materials.

Warhol eventually showcased his work in several galleries in the early 1960s, becoming widely known for his pop art based on icons like Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Elvis Presley, while also showcasing a variety of household objects such as his famous Campbell's Tomato Soup Cans, Brillo Boxes, and coke bottles. As his art began to grow in popularity, he began experimenting with silk-screening, films, and sculpture at "The Factory" (Warhol's studio on 47th Street in New York City).

Warhol was also known for coining the phrase "15 minutes of fame" stating that everyone gets their 15 minutes at some point in their life.

After passing away in the 1980s due to complications from routine gall bladder surgery, most of his estate was auctioned off by Sotheby's (which took 9 days to complete due to the number of items that Warhol owned), however his art continues to live on and inspire others.

As an author for Accelerated Degree and Culinary Colleges Online, the writer compares and reviews dozens of goods and products.

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Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Extinction of Pub Rock

Angus Young, lead guitarist of the hard rock b...Image via WikipediaBy Ashley A Purcell

Most people reading this article will undoubtedly know the bands AC/DC, Cold Chisel, Midnight Oil, The Living End and INXS, some of whom will be avid lovers of the music these bands are responsible for. However by the same token, most people reading this probably aren't aware of the fact that these bands all have one thing in common (other than being quintessentially Australian). Each one of the aforementioned bands is a product of Australian "Pub Rock."

For all those unfamiliar with the term, pub rock began in the 60's as the various state governments decided to reduce the amount of legal restriction relating to the sale of alcohol in pubs and other licensed venues. With this, pubs decided to put on live bands in an effort to impress locals, and so began the era of pub rock.

During this period, various pubs made a name for themselves attracting the best live music talent had to offer. In addition, due to the sheer number of pubs offering live music, bands could tour Australia cheaply, jumping from pub to pub enthralling crowds with their quintessential brand of Australian music. Although it is debatable, the prevailing belief is that pub rock was had the biggest influence on music of the period. Bands played in local pubs, which tended to be relatively small and thus, entry was cheap.

As a result, punters went there for the experience, and not to listen to "brand name" artists which typically is the case these days. The effect of this was that the bands that generated the biggest following were the best (and not the ones seen as "marketable" like the bands of today which are artificially elevated to cult status). It is largely for this reason that people can remember and still have a cult following for bands from the 60's, 70's and 80's yet largely can't remember bands from the 90's and now.

However with the advent of the "popstar" as well as an increasing love of Hip-Hop and Dance Music, pub rock gradually became phased out and replaced by the DJ. In addition to this, due to gentrification (which basically means suburbs getting more expensive) traditional pub rock venues had to close due to local government noise restrictions and a bunch of other reasons. Yet despite the unfortunate demise of pub rock, we are left with some of the most amazing bands and icons of Australian music, which still get a cheer when played by the DJ's of today, as if to salute their music predecessors.

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