Hey ho! Let’s go! It’s time once again for the mostest in groovy music in the entire Omega-Galaxy! Today’s Cool & Strange Music will be a bit more to the strange side as this year — with gasoline prices and everything going up — we’ll all need all the help we can get for giving a Christmas present that is unforgettable as well as way cool and out of this world! And that’s what I’ve got lined up for you good folks today! There’s something for everybody.
Many critics will say that this is the worst movie ever made. I take offense to that remark. Why? Well there was that Ronald Reagan movie with the chimpanzee. But, if you are a bit twisted and have a good sense of humor, you might think — as I do — that Plan 9 From Outer Space is one of the campiest and best movies ever made. Nothing better than having a few friends over for several drinks then watching this cinema classic.
Here’s what Amazon.com says:
You’ve heard about it from friends. You’ve heard about it in the print media. You’ve heard about it on television. You’ve wondered whether the hype is true or not. Now, the time has come for you to discover the truth about (insert drum roll here) Ed Wood’s Plan 9 From Outer Space. You know you need to watch this film if for no other reason than to finally learn whether Wood’s magnum opus is indeed the worst film ever made. Now, gather in closely and I’ll whisper to you a little secret about this science fiction extravaganza: Plan 9 From Outer Space most definitely is NOT the worst film ever put on celluloid, and I can with utmost confidence assist you in discovering dozens of other films far inferior to this one if you so wish. For instance, “Invasion of the Blood Farmers” is a movie much worse than Plan 9. Superman IV is a worse film than Plan 9. But Gigli, despite what you might think, is better than Plan 9 even though many of us wish it were worse. I could name many, many more films that make Wood’s movie look like Citizen Kane by comparison. I think this film gets its reputation because critics need one shining example upon which to pin their fears and hatreds, one example which provides a common touchstone that transcends cultures and languages.
You need to get this soundtrack and hear the glory. Ed Wood is the most misunderstood movie director in the history of Hollywood. This soundtrack is a gas. And if you’re like me (a bit twisted and cynical as all get out), you will agree that this is definitely one of the best movies to ever come out of Hollywood and blows Photon Torpedoes through any Star Wars film.
The Ed Wood Box (Glen or Glenda / Jail Bait / Bride of the Monster / Plan 9 from Outer Space / Night of the Ghouls / The Haunted World of Ed Wood)
List Price: $39.99 Sale Price: $35.99 (with free shipping)
Ed Wood has the unfortunate reputation for being the worst Hollywood director of all time. Poppycock, I say! There are much more than a few of us who disagree. Ed Woods has become a cult hero among the artistic and the outsiders of pop cinema fame. His ideas were 40 years ahead of their time, if not more. (Proof of this can be found in the fact that the movies of Ed Wood’s have enjoyed a huge revival over these last 20 years). Sure, his films can seem pretty crappy, with sometimes very illogical scripts and some of the worst actors ever seen — not to mention incredibly campy special effects that are not so special — but therein lies the beauty! His stories are quite fascinating. You just have to look at Glen or Glenda, a film that explains the torments of a transvestite, to see what I mean. It’s a mirror of alternative lifestyles in America that were made over 40 years ago — subjects that have just become acceptable over these past 5 years or so.
Ok, so maybe Ed didn’t have much talent or big budgets, but he certainly made up for it, by his love for films and his belief in what he did, which is more than you can say about some directors today. The true lover of Cinema Verite as it applies to modern America can do no wrong with watching Ed Wood’s movies and see just how much he influenced everything from Hitchcock to Star Wars. This is the perfect gift for the true fan of cinema. You will not be disappointed.
Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965—1968 [Box Set] — Various Artists
List Price: $59.98 Sale Price: $53.99 (with free shipping), You Save: $5.99
I own every one of the CD’s in this box set. And I will tell you that this is the greatest collection of real Rock’n’Roll hits from the Fab 60’s. This music comes for the good old days when 60’s Punk music was Top 40.
That the most famous garage-rock record of all time, the Kingsmen’s “Louie Louie,” is buried on the last CD of this four-disc box is very much in keeping with the spirit of the (often) one-hit wonders that people Nuggets. Here, “Louie Louie” is just another great song. An elaboration on the 1972 double LP, which is included in its original sequence, this set piles on dozens more great moments of inspiration, guts, chutzpah, and sometimes sheer commercial calculation. How else to explain the advice “Look at yourself” from the likes of the Strawberry Alarm Clock, whose idea of mind expansion seems limited to putting together two very vaguely related nouns — “Incense and Peppermints” — so their swinging Farfisa-led track will have something, anything, for verbal content? There’s loads of such wisdom on display here, prefab and otherwise, usually delivered as rabidly as possible. (Try the Remains’ “Don’t Look Back,” Mouse and the Traps’ “Maid of Sugar — Maid of Spice,” or the Music Machine’s “Talk Talk,” which was actually a hit.) And remember: “The sky is falling / The ocean is calling / The world … is spinning ’round … and ’round.” For sure.
"No other brand of electric teenage kicks from pop’s last three decades has survived with such raw, radiant aplomb and has defied the tyranny of cheese-ball nostalgia" — The Rolling Stone Magazine
This CD has songs that ripped through to the core of American angst in the mid-late sixties. Today’s rock bands would love to have songs even 1/2 this good. Check it and see why.
I keep recommending this CD but it seems like lots of people don’t want to take a chance on it. The ones who have bought it rave about it. That’s just how good and wonderful this CD is for kids of all ages. So, what are you folks waiting for? This is one of the hottest recordings ever made and it was made over 40 years ago. This blasts today’s electronic musicians out of the water. Even Fat Boy Slim has a cover track on this CD. You’ve never heard electronic music like this before — or maybe you have, you just didn’t know who it was. There’s not a person in the family who won’t find this enjoyable: The rapper in the group will want to sample the tracks; the metal fan will find inspiration, classical fans will see the origins, and grandma and grandpa will be able to enjoy the ride. You’ll all tap your toes while the baby sleeps in the car and is soothed by this electronica meets classical meets kid’s music masterpiece. This is one of, if not the, best CDs ever made. And it is probably my personal favorite of all time.
The Complete Hank Williams [Box Set] — Hank Williams Sr.
List Price: $169.98 Sale Price: $152.99 (With free shipping). You save $16.99 (10%)
Is that a Hank Williams song? Well shore enuff is! It’s every Hank Williams song you could ever dream of having and all in one fantastic box set. And let me tell you that this is by far the best sound quality you’ll ever get from the master.
Look at these hoop-hollerin’ a-some reviews:
Amazon.com’s Best of 1998
Hank Williams rose to prominence at the exact middle of the 20th century, and this fact helps to explain why he remains such a unique figure in country music. Put simply, he is the thread that connects (however loosely) Jimmie Rodgers and Garth Brooks. This 10-CD mother lode brilliantly captures the essence of the man and his spellbinding music. The official studio takes provide the foundation, while the demos, outtakes, and live recordings are the putty in the gaps. — Marc Greilsamer
Amazon.com essential recording
After so many years of so many haphazard, oft-overdubbed, slapdash Hank Williams reissues, this lavish package seems truly an embarrassment of riches. Imagine being able to dip in and listen to the unadorned music from the whole of this pioneer’s musical career, along with preserved historical spoken words. His career truly represents the major turning point in country music’s history, and this box set — music and densely packed attendant memorabilia — is as much a social history of America at mid-20th century as it is a music document. Williams’s recording career lasted only six years and he died tragically at age 29, but he left a musical and emotional legacy that grows year by year. To sketch the basics of The Complete Hank Williams: There are 10 CDs encompassing 225 cuts from all parts of his career — the demos, the radio shows, the Opry debut triumph. Musical revelations abound…. — Chet Flippo
The exhumation that Hank’s acolytes desire began long before this beautiful box set. In the ’80s, his label brushed off the “spew” of posthumous overdubs. Now, The Complete Hank Williams, packaged like a holy book with a concordance by Colin Escott, makes the purification total. Hank’s as fresh as Lenin on May Day, ready for viewing, the key to country’s red-dirt past and sign of a rock world to come.
New York Times
His rise and complete dominance, his excellence, and his hard fall and death are chronicled in this boxed set, which is as near to being the alpha and omega of Williams’s work as we are likely to get. The set includes an excellent booklet with rare photographs and a fine essay on the recordings by the writer Colin Escott, and imaginative, if slightly gimmicky, packaging.
…[D]espite all the vinegary vigor and unique inspiration Williams’ best music contains in abundance … anyone plowing through this box of music … will ultimately be left a little bored and not a little put off by its revered subject.
Apart from a few cuts, this sizable set is musically satisfying and historically fascinating.
The Natural Sounds Of The Wilderness, Part 1 (5 CDs) [Box Set] — Echoes Of Nature (Laserlight Series)
List Price: $18.98 Sale Price: $14.99
Did you see that? 5 CD’s of Nature’s most beautiful, relaxing sounds all for only $14.99. That is not a typo. This wonderful 5 CD set is nature sounds and nature sounds only. Working in the sound recording business, I can tell you that to make these kinds of recordings is very hard work. The people who put these CD’s together took time and loving care in making this 5 CD set probably the best of its type on the market today.
Relaxation music is now a big business — and the CD’s are really expensive, selling for sometimes $30 each — But not here. These CD’s give you the raw, relaxing sounds of this beautiful world God gave us in all its glory. There’s no background noise to disturb you. No music; just the experience of being there. The sound quality is also crisp and clear; these CD’s are superb.
Here’s what an Amazon reviewer wrote:
The five discs are entitled, “Tropical Rainforest,” “Bayou,” “Jungle Talk,” “Wilderness River,” and the sampler. Each features sounds from the particular place described; the sampler includes a short piece from each of the discs plus some others in the “Echoes of Nature” series. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but “Bayou,” with its bird songs, rumbling alligators, and memorable finale (a frog chorus set against a distant evening thunderstorm) is especially evocative. “Jungle Talk” is great too, but be aware that it is not for relaxing, especially when the howler monkeys start roaring! … Suffice it for me to say that of the bargain nature discs out there, I have not found any that represent a greater value than these. Listen and enjoy!
I’d also like to add that this CD set is a set that I often give to friends and loved ones who are convalescing in a hospital bed. I find that these sounds of nature are incredibly helpful in keep their attitude a positive one. And we all know a positive attitude is critical for a speedy recovery. I also keep one set on hand when I’m at home and just want to listen to natural sounds. It soothes the soul.
There is nothing wrong with this article. Please do not attempt to click and close this page. Do not attempt to change your monitor’s contrast or control buttons. We are now in control. This is the Outer Limits. Cool! This CD is an absolute must-have for any Sci-Fi movie and TV fan. This is the original Television Soundtrack from the Outer Limits TV show that scared all of our little pants off in 1963.
The Outer Limits differed from the Twilight Zone in that it went into more and more far-out Sci-Fi concepts. I liked that. That was back in the day when dad still drove a ’57 Chevy and we we’re all sure that space men were going to arrive any day now. This is the show that started it all! It’s pure "Nerdvana"!
More from Amazon:
Frontiere’s music for The Outer Limits recalls Ravel and Bartok, especially in its half-step modality and the parallel dominant-11th chords that move in whole steps at the close of the opening title and throughout the end title. Frontiere’s bag of tricks also includes perfect fourths and fifths in parallel chromatic motion, interlocking perfect fifths, and other minimalist devices that sound anything but minimalist in the hands of such a gifted composer… the sound reproduction is fantastic, even if hearing this music in clear, unmushy fidelity tends to demystify it a little. That is to say, the orchestra sounds smaller, even cramped in spots. But one can hear every last glorious note, score shuffle, and studio acoustic. And the sound effects are a revelation in digital.
If you know someone who is a Sci-Fi collector, or if you just want to relive those good old days, or if you want to have a CD that you can show off to your friends, then this is it. Caution! Showing this CD off to your friends could greatly increase the chances of someone wanting to borrow it and you’ll never see it again!
This CD was recommended by a regular reader of Cool & Strange Music and alas, I’ve misplaced his name. Oh! Forgive me! How could I be so daffy?
Here’s what two good folks over at Amazon have to say:
For fans of Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, et al., this is the essential cartoon soundtrack as well as a monument to surrealism. During his 22 years as a composer for Warner Bros. animated shorts, Stalling invented the musical vocabulary of cartoons. Producer Hal Willner has lovingly assembled a sonic collage that showcases Stalling’s compositional genius and uncanny ability to borrow a tune. It’s a whirling collection of random moments, chock full of music you never knew you knew, from Bugs Bunny’s theme from “Rabbit Fire” to Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” to Stalling’s own “Woo! Woo!” Also included in the mix: outtakes from recording sessions, and several complete scores. — Heidi MacDonald
Although I was familiar with most or all of the music on this CD, I’d never heard of Carl Stalling. Well, to my delight, he turns out to be one of the most important composers ever to write movie scores, right up there with Maurice Jaubert and Nino Rota and John Williams, as far as I am concerned. He was a true original. He wrote the scores for the Warner Brothers cartoons from 1936 to 1958.
This CD is not only a tribute to Stalling, it is also the most entertaining, endearing, smile-engendering, memory-invoking, guffaw-getting album you’ll hear in quite a while. I positively guarantee that you will love this album if you were EVER a child — if you EVER joined your friends to sneak into a Saturday matinee and cheer when our hero Bugs Bunny foiled the villain — if you EVER laughed uncontrollably when you heard, “I taught I taw a Puddy-tat” — if you EVER felt forlorn when you heard our pal Porky stutter “Th-th-that’s all, F-f-folks!” Stalling wrote the perfect music that we heard in “our subconscious” while we watched those “Looney Tunes” and “Merrie Melodies.”
Just the titles of the various selections will put you in the right mood: “Gorilla My Dreams” and “I Got Plenty Of Mutton” and “Puss ‘N’ Booty” and “To Itch His Own” (Stalling’s last score-1958) to name just four.
As Hal Wilner writes in his introduction to Stalling and the CD, “It (the CD) contains some soundtracks by one of the greatest film composers/arrangers from some of the finest films ever made.”
Buy this album and I dare you to play it just once. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. — Movie Maven
Casablanca: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack — Max Steiner
List Price: $11.98 Sale Price: $10.99
A lot of my regular readers won’t believe this, but Casablanca is my favorite movie of all time. It stands above even my other all-time favorite Hollyweird flicks like, Repo-Man, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, A Clockwork Orange, Dr. Strangelove; or anything by Stanley Kubrick and why shouldn’t it? What guy wouldn’t want to be like Rick? He’s handsome, smart, all the girls want him — and he can have any girl that he wants, but enough about me. This is to remind you folks of the great music that lies in this timeless classics’ soundtrack. You must remember this great movie that will stand forever as one of, if not the, greatest movie ever made. And the score to this timeless classic is unforgettable.
Seriously, this beats the junk Hollywood has been putting out these last 20 years by a mile. I can’t stand how movies nowadays always have to have a love angle and the hero always gets the girl. Bleech! Casablanca was made in 1942 and at the time of the shooting, they didn’t know who was going to win the war and they didn’t have an exact idea as to how to end the film. So what to do? They planned on shooting several endings, but after they shot the first one — the one that remains today — they decided that the ending couldn’t be beat. It is awe-inspiring. This movie was the pinnacle of Hollywood’s success. Buy the soundtrack and buy the DVD and be reminded of what the Golden Age of Hollywood was really like.
The Humphrey Bogart Collection (The Big Sleep/The Maltese Falcon/Casablanca/Key Largo)
List Price: $52.92 Sale Price: $42.34 You Save: $10.58 and this item ships for FREE with Super Saver Shipping.
If you are looking for a good Christmas present and were tickled by the Casablanca soundtrack and DVD then let me draw your attention to this DVD box set that anyone would be proud to own. Here in one package are 5 of Humphrey Bogart’s greatest films. You get:
Casablanca — 1942 — starring Bogey, Ingrid Bergman, Paul Henreid, Claude Rains, and Conrad Veidt. Casablanca Won 3 Oscars — Best Picture, Director, and Screenplay.
Plot Outline: Classic film set in occupied Africa during the early days of World War II: An American expatriate meets a former lover, with unforeseen complications.
The Maltese Falcon, made in 1941, stars Bogey, Mary Astor, Gladys George, Peter Lorre, Barton MacLane
Plot Outline: Sam Spade, a private detective, gets involved in a murderous hunt for a valuable statuette.
The Big Sleep — 1946 — stars Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely, Martha Vickers, Dorothy Malone.
Plot Outline: Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he’s seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.
Key Largo — 1948 — stars Humphrey Bogart, Edward G. Robinson, Lauren Bacall, Lionel Barrymore, Claire Trevor
Plot Outline: A man visits his old friend’s hotel and finds a gangster running things. As a hurricane approaches, the two end up confronting each other.
Five Hollywood classics for only $42.34 and you get free shipping? Now who wouldn’t want this enjoyable present under the Christmas tree?
Repo Man (1984 Film) [Soundtrack] — Various Artists
List Price: $9.98
If you really want to know what is my favorite movie of all-time for gathering inspiration to write humor, then this movie is it. I’m serious here. This movie is so fantastic that I’ve seen it well over 50 times and every time I watch it, I see something new to laugh about. There are all sorts of hidden jokes in this film that you have to at least watch it 5 times to catch even half of them. I love this movie. This has got to be the perfect movie for people who view the government — as well at society at large — with incredible cynicism and despair. It is the ultimate movie for the modern day anarchist — and it will have you rolling on the floor laughing.
The soundtrack is basically full of punk rock so that may not be the cat’s meow for most of you folks (even though that cracks me up also), but you have just got to see this movie. Made in 1984 by Carl Cox, this film takes a slam at the government, alien TV shows, credit card debt, bank repossessions, drugs, crime, and just basically makes a mockery of today’s society. A must have for everyone. And that includes Lew Rockwell. If I only could watch two movies over and over for the rest of my life, they’d be Casablanca and Repo Man.
Repo Man (1984) — Director Alex Cox — Starring Harry Dean Stanton, Emilio Estevez
List Price: $14.98 Sale Price: $13.48
Here’s what Amazon says:
Frustrated punk rocker Otto quits his supermarket job after slugging a co-worker, and is later dumped by his girlfriend at a party. Wandering the streets in frustration, he is recruited in the repossession of a car by a repo agent. After discovering his parents have donated his college fund to a televangelist, he joins the repossession agency (Helping Hand Acceptance Corporation) as an apprentice “repo man." During his training, he is introduced into the mercenary and paranoid world of the drivers, befriended by a UFO conspiracy theorist, confronted by rival repo agents, discovers some of his one-time friends have turned to a life of crime, is lectured to about cosmic unconsciousness by the repo agency grounds worker, and finds himself entangled in a web of intrigue concerning a huge repossession bounty on a 1964 Chevy Malabu driven by a lunatic government scientist, with Top Secret cargo in the trunk…
Now does that sound like some classic cinema, or what? The profound ending of the movie will blow your mind!
I went over to my geeky friend’s house the other day and he just had to brag to me about this fantabulously cool box set he just got. And, man, is it ever cool! Imagine me, green with envy! The first thing you will notice is the beautiful metallic designed box. There are holograms on the sides and the discs are packaged in their own 50’s retro-styled box. I was literally drooling over this very cool and strange set. It has everything the sci-fi fan could ever want! I think the true fan of sci-fi will want the music and memorabilia from the movies that weren’t the box-office smash hits like Star Wars and this set has it all. But if you do want the most awesome Star Wars box set, go here. Otherwise take a gander at the best sci-fi box set ever made. This is the ultimate sci-fi Christmas present!
Check out Amazon’s review:
It doesn’t take much rhetorical muscle to argue that science fiction was one of the dominant genre artforms of the 20th century, from the Lumiere brothers to Spielberg, from Wells and Conan Doyle to Asimov, Bradbury, and Clarke. This nearly exhaustive, lavishly packaged collection documents the genre’s musical legacy across virtually every major genre on its five discs and 113 tracks. Each volume is divided by sub-genre — Movie Themes, TV Themes, Pop, Incidental/Lounge, Novelty — with each containing both the obvious contenders and some delightful surprises. The film disc alone contains a wealth of rarities, including music from Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, The Andromeda Strain, Fantastic Voyage, and other notables. The packaging is brilliant kitsch: a 6.5-inch square, metal-lidded cube emblazoned on three sides with suitably tacky 3-D images of — you guessed it! — a floating brain. But the profusely illustrated, hard-bound, 200-page book (designed to emulate the Big Little Books of the 1940s and ’50s) that’s included gives the subject its serious due, with an introduction by Ray Bradbury and contributions from an array of other notables, including Forrest J. Ackerman, Billy Mumy, Joe Dante, Dr. Demento, and Matt Groening. Perhaps the best half-cubic-foot of sci-fi brain food every assembled. — Jerry McCulley
The Twilight Zone (CBS, 1959—64) stands as the role model for Television works of art. Its articulate and effective sci-fi/fantasy parables explore humanity’s hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in metaphoric ways conventional drama cannot.
Creator Rod Serling wrote the majority of the scripts, and produced those of such now-legendary writers as Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. The series featured such soon-to-be-famous actors as Robert Redford, William Shatner, Burt Reynolds, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Carol Burnett, James Coburn, Charles Bronson, Lee Marvin, Peter Falk and Bill Mumy, as well as such established stars as silent-film giant Buster Keaton, Art Carney, Mickey Rooney, Ida Lupino and John Carradine.
An often worthy revival series ran on CBS from 1985—87, and in first-run syndication in 1988. Another recently ran on UPN, which reunited Bill Mumy and Cloris Leachman in a sequel to the classic TZ chiller It’s a Good Life. But it’s the daring original series that shows every sign of lasting the ages as the literature that it is.
Rod Serling and CBS had many of the Twilight Zone episodes scored by composers who used the orchestra to the fullest extent that they could. The music in this volume ranges from the opening and closing themes of the Twilight Zone to themes that range from haunting melodies to light hearted music. Much of the music was scored by great composers such as, Bernard Herrmann, Jerry Goldsmith, Leonard Rossenman, Fred Steiner, and Franz Waxman. Compared to this much of the music in many of today’s TV shows, Science Fiction included just doesn’t have that sense of wonder anymore.
It’s a big shame that A Fistful of Dynamite never won an Oscar for musical arrangement, and after you listen to these fab musical scores and arrangements, you’ll be wondering why it didn’t. This music is great.
A Fistful of Dynamite was originally entitled, Duck You Sucker! And it ranks as one of the most awesome film scores ever made. But not only is it film score music, but it is wonderfully exotic in it’s own way. Ennio Morricone made some of the most creative, melodic and beautiful pieces of music anywhere, and features all the classic Morricone trademarks, the building bed of strings, the whistled phrases, and the beautiful “wordless” vocals by the great Edda Dell’Orso. If I were forced to describe the essence of Morricone to an unfamiliar music enthusiast, I would simply have him or her listen to this theme. But, it doesn’t stop there. The “Maestro” was at the peak of his first (or second) phase of genius here, as amply demonstrated in this score. There are 2—3 additional fantastic themes developed, as well, including “March of The Beggars,” during which Morricone incorporates a snatch of Mozart’s “A Little Night Music.” There is also a suite of action cue music, which is quite breathtaking and rhythmic. This score alone makes purchase of this collection well worth it. But the other 4 scores included are fine examples of Morricone’s seemingly limitless talent and creativity. I cannot tell you how often I find myself whistling or humming the main theme of Duck You Sucker; this is the essential Morricone collection. WOW!!
Star Maidens!? What kind of a name is that for a cheeky little British and German Sci-Fi TV show? Star Maidens was about a planet being run by beautiful women in platform boots. Really!
Well, here’s something from the Star Maidens homepage:
It’s the mid-1970s…you are waiting for your favorite British Sci-Fi TV show to return for it’s second season when a beguiling sci-fi series shuffled onto your screens, regional ITV scheduling permitting, for a brief thirteen weeks and then sloped off apologetically to disappear forever. It was a series about a planet ruled by women dressed in platform boots. The show came on and then as soon as it appeared, it was gone. And it soon became a cult classic in the UK.
There are organized fan cults around Star Maidens, and if you’d ever seen it you’d know why. All the fans have this nagging thought at the back of their minds… ‘That was brilliant wasn’t it? It must have been? Wasn’t it a bit… well, pervy?’ Sadly, if mentioned at all in sci-fi circles it’s either as ‘the one Gareth Thomas did before Blake’s 7′ or more generally as a byword for ‘total crap’ (cf ‘Did you see that episode of Voyager? God, it was sooo Star Maidens!’). I can’t really defend Star Maidens and don’t intend to sell it to you as a much-loved cult classic without peer. It’s certainly not the worst sci-fi series ever made but by no stretch of the imagination is it the best. What was it then…? Ludicrous, ambitious, confused, infuriating, cack-handed, staggering, limited, inventive, cheap, hilarious, camp, sexy, lurid fun.
What Star Maidens is then, in short, is perhaps the most fascinating sci-fi series of all time. A bungled British-German co-production of a sci-fi comedy — two mutually exclusive concepts for the price of one and surely doomed to failure. It has proved an enigmatic series too — very little has been written about it and it has not been shown on TV in the UK since its original 1976/7 broadcasts. Indeed there are maybe one or two parts of the UK where the show has still never been screened. And quite possibly never will be.
So, for enthusiasts, the curious and of course the just plain pervy this is Star Maidens. Try out this soundtrack for something that is just so different and wonderful and you’ll be outta this world.
Amadeus: The Complete Original Soundtrack Recording [Box Set]
List Price: $39.98 Sale Price: $35.99
This three-disc set is an excellent starting point, not only for the beginning listener of Mozart, but to the beginning listener of classical music in general.
That said, the selections are quite in tune with the film itself, which quite uniquely makes this soundtrack valuable both to people who loved the film as well as those who have never seen it. Perhaps 90% of the tracks are the compositions of Mozart, including the Commendatore scene of “Don Giovanni” and the Queen of the Night aria from “The Magic Flute.” The remaining tracks consist of music heard during various scenes in the film, including the finale from Salieri’s opera “Axur.” Enough new material is here to warrant buying this set over one of the other less expensive editions of the Amadeus soundtrack.
In short, the music contained herein is a virtual greatest hits album of Mozart, virtual only in that it’s scope must be limited to only 3 discs. On an incidental note, even the conductor and symphony orchestra performing the selections are recognized as being among the foremost interpreters of Mozart’s music; yet another reason to purchase the Bicentennial Edition. It also includes a wonderful album-sized booklet detailing much of the behind the scenes work involved, as well as portions of the story. All very nicely done, especially for an average price of approximately $12 per disc. I have hundreds of Mozart’s CDs in my collection, but I most often return to this, the most concise package of his music. Whether you enjoyed the film and its music, or you simply wish to widen out your musical horizons to include Mozart’s music, this is the set to buy.
Director Milos Forman’s rewarding 1984 film adaptation of playwright Peter Shaffer’s Tony-winning play won no fewer than 10 Academy Awards (including Best Film, Best Actor, and Best Director); only Wolfgang himself (and his filmic counterpart, Tom Hulce) seemed to get overlooked by the Academy. This expanded three-disc set contains all of Sir Neville Marriner’s crisp, accurate readings of the excerpted Mozart symphonies, concertos, serenades, and operas (including marvelous portions of The Abduction of Seraglio, Don Giovanni, and The Magic Flute) used in the film. The success of Amadeus spurred a long-overdue renaissance of interest in classical music, and one would be hard-pressed to find a richer, more concise introduction to the intoxicating music and frustrating bundle of moral contradictions that was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. — Jerry McCulley
The Marx Brothers Collection (A Night at The Opera / A Day at The Races / Night in Casablanca / Room Service / At the Circus / Go West / The Big Store)
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And this is my final recommendation for the day. A Marx Brothers Box set of DVD’s of their 7 greatest movies. You’ll be rolling on the floor laughing as every one’s a winner!
When it comes to long-awaited treats like The Marx Brothers Collection, you can never get too much of a good thing. These seven comedies can’t compare to the sheer lunacy of the five classics (The Cocoanuts, Animal Crackers, Monkey Business, Horse Feathers, and Duck Soup) that the Marx Bros. made for Paramount between 1929 and 1933 (available in The Marx Brothers Silver Screen Collection), but when ber-producer Irving Thalberg signed Groucho, Harpo, and Chico to an MGM contract in 1935 (by which time sibling costar Zeppo had become the team’s off-screen manager), he knew just how to cure their box-office blues. As a result, A Night at the Opera and A Day at the Races were critical and commercial hits, lavishly produced according to the “Tiffany” studio’s golden-age formula of glamorous set pieces and musical numbers combined with sensible plots that smoothly integrated snappy, well-written Marxian antics. Opera is the jewel of this set, with timeless scenes (the Stateroom, the Groucho-Chico contract negotiation, etc.) that rank among the greatest bits of silver-screen comedy… not to mention Groucho’s flirtatious insults at Margaret Dumont’s upper-crust expense.
A Day at the Races deserves near-equal acclaim (“Get-a your tootsie-fruitsie ice cream!”), but Thalberg’s death in 1937 dealt a devastating blow, and the Marxes suffered from studio indifference, resulting in a succession of comedies that are timelessly enjoyable even as they fall prey to diminishing returns. By the time they made Go West and The Big Store, the Marxes were out of their element, and a few of the musical interludes indulge racial stereotypes that were common in the studio era. Despite this, these movies remain fresh and frantic, and Warner Bros. (holder of the RKO and MGM libraries) has done a marvelous job of packaging The Marx Brothers Collection to nostalgically approximate the filmgoing experience of the 1930s and ’40s, with vintage shorts (Our Gang, Robert Benchley comedies, MGM cartoons, etc.) from the time of each feature’s original release. Archival materials are slim but worthwhile (especially Groucho’s 1961 interview with TV talk-show host Hy Gardner), and while Glenn Mitchell’s commentary on Races is sparse and superficial, Leonard Maltin brings his usual superfan’s enthusiasm and encyclopedic knowledge to bear on a full-length Opera commentary track. The new documentaries are somewhat redundant, but essential viewing for Marx Bros. neophytes. With all seven films presented in pristine condition, this is definitely a Marx Brothers Collection worth having. — Jeff Shannon
Well, that’s it. Get your Christmas shopping done now. Don’t waste time in traffic, don’t waste time fighting in that shopping mall for a parking place; don’t waste hours trying to flag down a store employee speeding by. You can save your self time, stress and money — and save on gasoline buying these items through Cool & Strange Music and you get to support Lew Rockwell.com in the process as LRC gets a small finders commission. It’s a good deal all around! You save money, save stress (so you can enjoy yourself) and you save much more money on retail than you can imagine. And you can do it all from the comfort of the computer you are looking at right now! Now I call that some out-of-this world space shopping!
Have a very Merry Christmas.
Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers [send him mail] was born and raised in the USA and moved to Japan in 1984. He has the distinction of being fired from every FM radio station in Tokyo — one of them three times. His first book, Schizophrenic in Japan, is now on sale.