Emo Philips

E=MO2/Live At The Hasty Pudding Theater, Emo and Treat Her Like A Lady

Emo Philips – E=MO2/Live At The Hasty Pudding Theater, Emo and Treat Her Like A Lady

Emo Philips is my kind of standup. There is really no one else like him. His comedy can be startlingly intellectual, surprisingly philosophical and ridiculously stupid. In fact it’s usually all three at once which is why I love it so.

I was originally exposed to Emo via a cassette of his Hasty Pudding Live show. It made me an instant fan. I saw Emo live many times during the late ’80s, became friendly with him and even hung out a bit. But then he disappeared, resurfacing in the late ’90s with a new look and persona during which time I saw him once. I caught him once again in the 2000s when he retooled himself again and then just recently a few days ago with Emo sporting yet another look. 

Despite all the changes in presentation and the gaps in time Emo’s humor and it’s deeper meanings always hit me the right way. Since I loved his recent show so much I realized I still only had his old releases on cassette and wanted to update the collection. I went online and ordered the few different CDs I could find. I received his original  release E=MO2, his live follow up at the Hasty Pudding and his 2000s release simply titled Emo, which has a great joke hidden across the pages of the insert booklet and tray card. 

But in true Emo style this shipment also contained some great laughs as I seemed to have also ordered, Treat Her Like A Lady, a CD single by Emo Philips. Only this Emo Philips happens to be an R&B singer from the U.K. Who knew???

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Emo Philips Website

Emo Philips from Amazon




-Us, or just plain Us, or the drummer from Wild Moccasins, or simply Avery Paul Davis, he’s the guy who makes this incredible music. It’s not retro, but not quite modern, not pop, but not too alternative, not electronic, but yet you’re dancing, -Us really does it right. It’s the kind of music that you could hear on the radio and when you do it will make you go, see, the radio can still be awesome. 

I just love what this guy does. And before you think that amazing voice, smooth delivery and all those different instruments are achievable only in the studio just go see him live once. His pipes do not falter and he’ll play guitar, drums, keyboards and some sweet analog synth, sometimes all in one song. I’ve seen him 5 times in less than a year and always walked away impressed. 

I can’t say enough good things about this young man, this EP or his current one, Contact, which is cassette and download only at the moment. If you want to experience some sheer talent on the verge you’ve got to check them both out. 

*full disclosure – these items did not come in the mail. I picked them up in person at the merch booth when I saw -Us live recently. 

-Us on Facebook
-Us on SoundCloud
-Us on Spotify

The MAD Archives

Volumes 3 & 4

The MAD Archives – Volumes 3 & 4

It doesn’t get more classic than this. These beautiful hardcover dustjacketed embossed tomes contain gorgeous full color reprints of MAD comics issues 13-18 (Volume 3) and 19-24 (Volume 4). Along with Volumes 1 & 2 they represent the full run of MAD as a comic, before it morphed into its better known format of a magazine. It also represents all but one year’s worth of Harvey Kurtzman’s work as editor-in-chief at MAD. 

During these early days, MAD struggled to find succes, eventually becoming a hit, then so much so that they drew the ire of parents and the law forcing them to change from a comic to a magazine format so they would not be subject to being censored. In this time artists like Kurtzman, Wally Wood, Will Elder, Basil Wolverton and Jack Davis poured their humor and talent into MAD, creating an impact that is hard to understand in this time of social media comedy and the 24 hour lifespan of memes. 

These MAD articles are timeless. My cheap childhood reprints of them along with Monty Python, the Marx brothers, Steve Martin and Mystery Science Theater 3000 (what is it with comedy and Ms?) did more to shape my view of the world than just about any other set of influences I can think of. It’s a wonderful thing to have them collected in books like this to pour over and to, someday, pass on. 

*full disclosure – while this was received in the mail, I didn’t order it. It was actually a 21st anniversary gift from my wife. Guys, when this is the type of anniversary gift you get, you know you’ve got a keeper!

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The MAD Archives from Amazon

Planet Of The Apes

The Original Topps Trading Card Series

Planet Of The Apes, The Original Topps Trading Card Series

I LOVE this series of books Topps has done of their old card series. They do a fantastic job of recreating the trading card experience. The dust jackets are made of printed wax paper, there is a picture of a piece of gum on the front cover, each page contains the front of a card, actual size, with the back of the card on the reverse. There’s even a sample set of cards sealed in a pack in the back of the book. It’s all too perfect. 

The book features an intro and text by Gary Gerani, a longtime Topps series creator. Aside from the movie stills, card concept art and promo shots we get  the card series from the original Planet Of The Apes movie, the cards from the beloved (by me at least) 1975 TV show. Sadly the bulk of the book is devoted to the larger card series from the abysmal Tim Burton Planet Of The Apes movie, a film and card set that is better forgotten. 

I truly hope Topps will continue with this series. The other similar books I have are both Wacky Packs tomes, Garbage Pail Kids, Star Trek, Mars Attacks and, my favortie, Bazooka Joe. Thus far I’ve stayed away from the many Star Wars related releases but I have seen them and they look very nice. 

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Topps Website

Planet Of The Apes The Original Topps Trading Card Series from Amazon

King Arthur Soundtrack

By Daniel Pemberton

King Arthur Soundtrack by Daniel Pemberton

I had heard of Daniel Pemberton as a composer to keep an eye on. I recalled his name from recently working with some of the great English directors – Ridley Scott (The Counselor), Danny Boyle (Steve Jobs) and Guy Ritchie (The Man From UNCLE). So when this soundtrack lept out at me as being top notch it didn’t surprise me to see his name on it. 

Pemberton excels at combining modern elements and styles with the more traditional concepts of movie scoring. The end result is a great blend of orchestral and standard composition. Since this is an action movie there is the standard “pumped-up” feel to much of the fare on the CD but equally present are passages filled with dark forboding and more contemplative moods.

While there is a slight “medieval” tone to some of the music, there is also a tint of folk song to be found. Pemberton uses ganged acoustic guitars in a skiffle-like effect, producing rhythm and percussion. Speaking of percussion, where Pemberton earns his crown in this epic soundscape is with his use of drums. They are recorded and mixed so perfectly, alternately dominating the music, then just adding playful touches. I am almost equally as impressed by Pemberton’s production as I am his scoring. I won’t comment on the quality of the film itself (that belongs on another blog) but I will say Pemberton’s talent extends beyond just plain composing as he has perfectly captured the look, feel and tone of each scene.

I wanted to be sure to add that the CD comes with a download code for 6 extra tracks making the musical score complete. While I appreciate WarnerBrothers providing these the cost of adding a second disc would have been negligible, preventing the material from being spread across two formats in varying quality.   

Daniel Pemberton Website
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King Arthur Soundtrack on Amazon
King Arthur Soundtrack on iTunes

The Beach Boys

1967 (Sunshine Tomorrow)

The Beach Boys – 1967 (Sunshine Tomorrow)

What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July than with the most American of all bands, our national musical treasure, The Beach Boys. Yeah I know they’re not quite The Beatles or The Stones or even The Who, but in many ways that’s exactly the point. Their decidedly American take on rock and pop with its California themes is exactly why they’re perfect for today. 

1967 (Sunshine Tomorrow) pulls together all of the band’s unreleased material from that year. In truth bits and pieces of this album have surfaced on box sets and in other iterations but it’s great to have it all collected in one place. The gem of the release is the amazing stereo version of the Wild Honey album. These are the tracks where the boys got in touch with their inner rhythm and blues, stripped down the huge productions of the Smile record, dispensed with studio machinations and just performed from the heart as a band. 

Carl Wilson’s move to the forefront was instrumental in this change in approach and sound and while upon release the album was thought of as simple, give it one listen today and try not to be swept away by its charm. And that’s hardly all that’s on these CDs. We get many alternate versions and unreleased songs from the sessions, plus live versions of some album tracks. On top of that there are yet more unreleased bits from the Smile sessions, not to mention a number of live in the studio recordings from the abandoned Lei’d In Hawaii project and more. I’m starting to feel like an infomercial host – but wait, there’s more!

In all seriousness they couldn’t have jam packed this release with more great material. For the price it is an amazing steal. Let’s hope there’s more in the Beach Boys’ vault where this came from and we can look forward editions like this for the Sunflower and Love You albums.

The Beach Boys on Facebook
The Beach Boys Website

1967 Sunshine Tomorrow from Amazon
1967 Sunshine Tomorrow from iTunes

Big Stick

Pro Drag

Big Stick – Pro Drag

While looking through my music notes recently I came across several entries of CDs to be on the lookout for. The issue? I had made these notes over 10 years ago! Suffice to say I lept to my keyboard to correct this oversight and hunt them down right away. 

Thus arrives, Pro Drags by Big Stick. This NY duo trickled out a few singles, EPs and albums from the mid ’80s to the late ’90s. Originally sharing a label with the likes of Big Black, Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Butthole Surfers, The Mekons and Suicide the band typified the genre-bending alt-rock scene of the times, combining noise, punk, garage, surf and most extensively, racetrack car culture into their music. 

Big Stick themselves, a married couple, distanced their own identities from the band, creating more mysterious personas via fake names (such as Yanna Trance), wearing masks in press photos and performing shrouded and cloaked. All this mystery adds to the crazed fun of the music. Granted, it sounds a bit like a high-minded art project but believe me, the end result is decidedly unpretentious. For proof just check out their song “Girls On The Toilet”, full of Jesus And Mary Chain sounding fuzz-rock or the sound collage of “You Better Not Be Spendin’ No Money On No Racecar” which could have easily been the b-side to Ministry’s “Jesus Built My Hotrod”. 

And here I must give a shout out to Craig L. who played this CD for me all those years ago. I’m catching up, finally, I promise! In the end I’ll say shame on me for waiting so long to pick this up and discover these guys. This will be essential listening next time I’m headed to the racetrack.

Big Stick on Facebook
Big Stick Website

Pro Drag from Amazon
Pro Drag from iTunes