Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Beatles Anthology Gets Remastered

The Beatles Anthology was originally released in 1995 and 1996. There are three of these double albums, with a number of outtakes and unreleased material, plus the two good new songs "Free as a Bird" and "Real Love." Paul, George and Ringo recorded around John Lennon's demo versions to create those songs. They are being re-released in remastered form on June 14th along with "Anthology Highlights", which takes the best of all three onto one release.

The only problem is it is only being released onto iTunes. Surely Amazon will put the original CDs on sale to capitalize, but I wonder if they will eventually release physical CD versions in remastered form along with the Highlights disc. Personally I rarely use iTunes. I prefer CDs, and when I do download it's using Amazon MP3, which is easier and they always have great deals. I was also hoping they would release the other Lennon demo song they worked on in 1995, Now and Then. It was unfinished, but rumors have persisted that McCartney and Starr would finish it and include whatever Harrison did for it during the 90s session. The Highlights album would have been perfect for that, but it looks like "Now & Then" won't ever be finished. (They also apparently worked on a song called "All For Love" which was entirely new and not a Lennon demo.)

The Anthology albums are great and should definitely checked out by anyone who likes The Beatles. It gives an insight into the recording process, and has some great songs and alternate versions of songs you love. There is also the amazing Anthology DVD set, which is a documentary that chronicles their entire career in depth.

See the official press release for more information Here. And Check out my Beatles Album Rankings, and comment your own!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Bono & The Edge Join Reeve Carney on American Idol

In case you missed it, you can watch the exciting performance by Reeve Carney with Bono and The Edge from U2 on the American Idol finale above. Spider-man: Turn Off The Dark has received notoriety for being both the most expensive Broadway production ever, and the accidents that were happening. They performed the song "Rise Above 1" in front of a glowing web on stage. 

However, the show has been changed around and the reviews of the new version have been positive. Judging by what was seen on American Idol, then it surely looks like it will live up to the original hype. They may have produced the most exciting performance in American Idol history, with the Spider-man stunt guy flying down from the rafters into the aisles on a cord, then coming down from the ceiling upside down to re-create a scene from the first movie. Jennifer Lopez didn't kiss him obviously, but it made for a fun moment. Oh, Scotty McCreery won American Idol over Lauren Alaina. I was mainly watching for this performance though. By the way, it was a nice surprise to see the two surviving members of TLC perform! And Steven Tyler can still rock out with the best of them, even without Aerosmith, giving a good rendition of Dream On.

The "Rise Above 1" track from Spider-man is now available for download on Amazon, you can click the box to the left and it will take you there.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Ranking The Beatles Albums: Part Three

Ranking The Beatles albums is always a difficult task. How can you choose one as a top album when so many could fit there? Everyone has their favorite Beatles album, and I will try to make my list of them. It's always tough when you get into the Top 5 especially. Abbey Road seems to be their most popular in the general public, but will it top my list? I will be including the Past Masters with the original 12 studio albums. All albums can be bought in digitally remastered form on CD, or downloaded on iTunes. I prefer CD's. (Album cover images belong to Apple/EMI.) These albums are so hard to rank because they all seem so equal. How would you rank them?
Click Here for Part One & Here for Part Two

5. The Beatles (The White Album) (1968) - Their self titled double album obviously has the most material on it, and is quite the collection of outstanding songs. Probably the best double album of all time. Tensions may have been high between them during recording, but they were still able to create amazing music during a time when they were wanting to do solo material. They reach such a wide variety of styles on this album, and make it all sound great together. Even the avant-garde "Revolution 9" is interesting, for being unique. There really is something on this The White Album for everyone.

4. Abbey Road (1969) - This is their most popular album with today's audience and for good reason. It's full of hits like "Something," "Come Together," "Here Comes the Sun" and the flawless Abbey Road Medley. The Medley helps separate the album from the others and always leaves you wanting more. George Harrison really stands out on this album, and makes a good preview of his first solo album. The iconic album cover is so simple but was pure genius and will be replicated forever, with fans going there to recreate it. The street even has it's own live webcam just for that.

3. Revolver (1966) - Psychedelic. Revolver launched the psychedelic era into the mainstream with songs like "Tomorrow Never Knows," "I'm Only Sleeping" and "She Said, She Said." It's not all about psychedelic music though, but the rest of the songs still manage to sound so much different than any of the others that came before them. "Eleanor Rigby" and "Yellow Submarine" still seem like songs that don't fit any category, they're just great. All the tape loops, backwards vocals, Indian influenced sounds and feedback make this album special, and groundbreaking when it was released.

2. Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967) - The groundbreaking production from Revolver was expanded even further on Sgt. Pepper's, and listening to this album through some good headphones really make you appreciate all of the details in the songs. The colorful cover is just as detailed. No singles were released from the album, it didn't need any to sell millions like it has. It was all about the album from one song to the next. It's an album to get lost in, very visual like a kaleidoscope. A personal favorite is "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite." I just love the carnival sounds that bring the song together and make it so unique.

1. Magical Mystery Tour (1967) - It usually isn't #1 in Beatles rankings, but love the whole package of it. The songs are great and the album comes with it's own comic in the booklet. The title track as well as "I Am The Walrus," "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Penny Lane," "Baby, You're a Rich Man" and "All You Need is Love" are some of the most well known songs and can all be found here. "Blue Jay Way" is one of the more hypnotic songs you can find. I think the album is underrated since it was originally just an EP in Europe, excluding some of the popular singles that were added to it in the American release, which is now the standard version around the world. John Lennon also stated that this was his favorite Beatles album, "because it's so weird." Weird and amazing.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Office, Parks and Recreation Season Finales

First, The Office. I knew we wouldn't be finding out who the next manager is until next season. I would have to say the most likely person seems to be Catherine Tate. She played Nellie Bertram and is known to be Jo's friend. So they did manage a little back story with her. Her interview was also the funniest of the bunch. If not her then I think Ricky Gervais is fairly possible to bring his character from the original British version, David Brent, as the manager. Gervais also helped with the script for this episode. Still, Tate seems like the front runner if it's not one of the current cast members. I was hoping we'd see a return from Jan for an interview, but we didn't. We did find out that Erin is not Phyllis' daughter that she gave up as a teen, but Phyllis isn't telling her that yet. And Angela got engaged to her secretly gay senator boyfriend! That is obviously going to be a big theme during next season. Angela is one of the better characters, so her having more screen time is a good thing.

Parks and Recreation dealt with the funeral of Li'l Sebastian, everyone's favorite mini horse. Megan Mullally was back as Tammy Swanson, or Tammy Two. We find out from Donna that Ron's first wife, Tammy One is also there, but we didn't see her, thus leaving a good cliffhanger for next season. It does cause Tammy Two to run away in fear though. At the memorial for Li'l Sebastian, Andy's band Mouse Rat is given the task to create a song five thousand times better than Elton John's "Candle in the Wind." The result: "Five Thousand Candles in the Wind." The great Jean-Ralphio was back as well, and should definitely become a regular character next season.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

New Fall Lineup Preview for ABC

I was invited to view exclusive trailers for the new version of Charlie's Angels and Once Upon A Time, which are both new shows slated to debut on ABC in the fall. I got a quick take on them and where they may be headed.

Charlie's Angels needs no introduction. This new version is being Executive Produced by Drew Barrymore, so I'm feeling pretty good about it not going the way of the failed Wonder Woman show. This version is set in Miami, which seems to fit the style perfectly. This time the Angels are Abby (Rachael Taylor), Kate (Annie Ilonzeh) and Eve (Minka Kelly). It's obvious from the preview that Rachael Taylor will be the Farrah Fawcett/Cameron Diaz of the group. 

It looks to be more mature than the original version. While it doesn't seem like an award winner of a show, the action is definitely worthy of checking out when the show premieres in the fall. There seems to be a lack of shows with good action on TV right now. It would be nice if Barrymore or one of the originals made an appearance to tie it into the franchise, as well as giving fans something to talk about.

The next show is Once Upon A Time from the writers of Lost. They are obviously going to try and tap into that audience a bit. It's a fantasy show based on fairy tales that exist for real in an alternate universe. It's an interesting concept, and while it can be hard to judge from a preview, the trailer showed some promise. It seems to be geared towards adults, with a darker style similar to the recent Alice in Wonderland

The main character is Anna Swan, who was abandoned as a baby. She comes from the alternate world which was frozen by the Evil Queen's curse. Anna is really the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming. It seems this Fall is the season for more theatrical television shows. We'll see if they work out.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Ranking The Beatles Albums: Part Two

Ranking The Beatles albums is always a difficult task. How can you choose one as a top album when so many could fit there? Everyone has their favorite Beatles album, and I will try to make my list of them. It's always tough when you get into the Top 5 especially. Abbey Road seems to be their most popular in the general public, but will it top my list? I will be including the Past Masters with the original 12 studio albums. All albums can be bought in digitally remastered form on CD, or downloaded on iTunes. I prefer CD's. (Album cover images belong to Apple/EMI.) Click Here for Part One. Here is part two:

9. Past Masters (1988) - During their career they released many singles that were not on any original studio album, feeling it was better value for people as opposed to having a bunch of singles people already owned on the albums. This was released in 1988 to collect all those singles and B-Sides. Classic songs like "She Loves You", "I Feel Fine", "Rain", "Hey Jude", "Revolution", and "Don't Let Me Down." However, I didn't want to rank it any higher than this because it's not an original studio album, more of a compilation. But still, those classic songs aren't on any of the studio albums, so this fits in perfectly with the standardized catalog. 

8. Help! (1965) - This album features some influence by Bob Dylan ("You've Got To Hide Your Love Away). This was a preview of things to come with the group, while still retaining the fun rock-n-roll of previous albums. The songs here all fit together nicely, with a bunch of stand outs, "Ticket to Ride", "Help!", and "You're Going to Lose That Girl." This accompanies their film of the same name.

7. Let It Be (1970) - Their final album released has perhaps one of their top 10 songs of all time on it, the title track. The album is interesting, and while the Phil Spector wall of sound is sometimes criticized, I don't think it is too bad. It sounds especially good on "I Me Mine." Also worth giving a shout out to Let It Be... Naked (2003) which was released without any of Spector's overdubs, and includes "Don't Let Me Down", which the 1970 original version left off. Paul McCartney prefers the Naked version, but both are solid. The songs on the naked version sound more like the ones played on the famous Apple rooftop concert.

6. Rubber Soul (1965) - This is The Beatles album that completely moved them to a more mature place. It also featured completely original material, no covers as with most previous albums. The sitar made its first appearance here as well on "Norwegian Wood", and would be used further on their next few psychedelic albums.  This is where it becomes difficult to rank the albums, because they are all excellent masterpieces. They began their experimentation with music here, and would expand it on further albums. 

*Special Shout-out* - Love (2006) - While not part of the list, the Love mash-up album which accompanies the Vegas show is definitely worth owning. The songs sound fresh and give you a whole new perspective. They did a great job mixing different tracks together, and they give you interesting info in the album (or iTunes LP) on how they did it. It's like listening to The Beatles all over again for the first time.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Office After Steve Carell

So how has The Office fared without Steve Carell as Michael Scott the past two weeks? The episode two weeks ago, Will Ferrel's last episode was good but a bit awkward. Probably because it was the first one without Carell. Last night's episode titled "Dwight K. Schrute (Acting) Manager" was much better, and seeing the regular cast members just interact with each other created some great laughs, courtesy of Dwight being the acting manager of Dunder Mifflin. There were a lot of fresh laughs, so if you stopped watching after Carell left then you missed plenty of great laughs last night. We'll see what they do with the one hour season finale next week.

Parks & Recreation had two new episodes last night. The first introduced Tom's drink that got everyone wasted, Snake Juice. Leslie and Ann's drunken fight was spot on, mimicking many you may have seen before. The second episode featured Ron teaching a 9 year old girl about the horrors of the government and how they steal tax money. And he gave her a land mine to protect her property. This show keeps churning out hilarious material. Watch it!    http://www.nbc.com/parks-and-recreation/

And let's give some love to the always funny Donna:

Monday, May 9, 2011

Tina Fey on SNL

Anytime Tina Fey returns to host Saturday Night Live you're bound for some great laughs. Her latest hosting gig was no different. I know you don't want to read about them, so here are some clips, featuring her always great and spot on impersonation of Sarah Palin. Another is of Bill Hader playing his original character, Stefon. If you've never seen Stefon you really are missing out. He shared his must see Mother's Day tips! In the political sketch a host of possible Republican candidates get spoofed. Darrell Hammond was back and playing Donald Trump, which he has many times in the past.

If these YouTube versions get taken down I'll post the Hulu ones.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Ranking The Beatles Albums: Part One

Ranking The Beatles albums is always a difficult task. How can you choose one as a top album when so many could fit there? Everyone has their favorite Beatles album, and I will try to make my list of them. It's always tough when you get into the Top 5 especially. Abbey Road seems to be their most popular in the general public, but will it top my list? I will be including the Past Masters with the original 12 studio albums. All albums can be bought in digitally remastered form on CD, or downloaded on iTunes. I prefer CD's. (Album cover images belong to Apple/EMI.) Here's part one:

14. Yellow Submarine (1969) - This soundtrack album is the easiest to place. The album contains only four Beatles songs unique to it. The other two Beatles songs are both on previous albums.The rest of the songs are from the George Martin score to the film. It's still a good album, but it's obviously their weakest. It's definitely worth a part of your collection though, and the artwork inside is some of the best.

13. Please Please Me (1963) - Their first album, which was recorded in one day, is full of fun, classic songs such as "Twist and Shout" and "I Saw Her Standing There." This didn't show The Beatles changing things up from the norm like their later albums, but it shows that they were better than everyone else no matter what songs they recorded. And the fact that they recorded this entire album in one day is nothing short of amazing. There are artists who take years to make an album and it still doesn't reach the quality of this one.

12. A Hard Day's Night (1964) - Another album chock full of hits, the best besides the title track being "Can't Buy Me Love" and "I Should Have Known Better." This accompanied their first film, and really showcases how strong they were as songwriters early on. According to John Lennon the title comes from something Ringo Starr said just as a remark one time that stuck. This is the first albums that features only original songs, and the only album where every song is written by Lennon/McCartney. George Harrison would get a couple songs on other albums.

11. With The Beatles (1963) - Their second album was no Sophomore slump. The cover songs they recorded on here are some of the best, managing to outdo or at least equal the originals. The covers may also outshine the Beatles' original songs on here, but those are no slouch either. My favorites are "Please Mister Postman," "You Really Got a Hold On Me" and "It Won't Be Long." Their famous harmonies sound especially great on this album. 

10. Beatles For Sale (1964) - This is an often underrated album, but is a personal favorite of their four 1963/1964 albums. The first three tracks on the album are amazing, and a preview of things to come on later releases. They have a more emotional, somber tone than any of the songs on their previous albums and the lyrics stand out. They felt a little overworked at this point so that may be the reason for the heavier first three songs. The album cover fits the songs perfectly, with their lack of smiles in the autumn setting of Hyde Park in London. "Eight Days A Week" is the standout track on the entire album, mainly because it is easy and fun to sing along with. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Celebrity Apprentice & Osama Bin Laden

LaToya Jackson made her triumphant return to The Celebrity Apprentice just as they cut in to announce that Osama Bin Laden has been killed nearly 10 years after he masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center & Pentagon on September 11, 2001.

Is this a coincidence? As soon as they interrupted the show I knew he was either killed by the government or would soon be killed by LaToya Jackson for interrupting her return to NBC's The Celebrity Apprentice. Bin Laden is gone forever and LaToya is back for at least another week. This is a great night! This has been quite the crazy news week. We went from the Royal Wedding and hearing/reading about one of the most beloved people in history, Princess Diana, to hearing about the most hated person in Osama Bin Laden in a matter of two days.

All jokes aside, now hopefully people can move towards peace and terrorist organizations can fall. It will still take time though, there is still a threat. I remember 9/11 so vividly like it was yesterday, those images & video burned in my head. This is the biggest news story since 9/11, and as soon as I heard this news I got chills. My heart started to race. Maybe it will offer some form of closure, but sadly none of those lost innocent lives can be brought back.

God bless all the innocent people who have died because of terrorism around the world.