CHRIS ISAAK: Carrying His Rock ‘n’ Roll Torch ‘Beyond The Sun’

This piece was originally published July 2nd, 2012.

Chris Isaak Post TemplateAs Chris Isaak puts it, he grew up incessantly listening to his parent’s record collection as a child in Stockton, CA.

It wasn’t an outrageously huge collection, but it was one that would influence Chris to this day.

The collection was heavy on Sun Records recording artists and included records by Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley.

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THE SMITHS ‘COMPLETE’ – A BOXFUL OF BRILLIANCE

This piece was originally published June 18th, 2012.

2012 marks the 40th anniversary of nineteen year old John Maher (he changed it to Johnny Marr to avoid confusion with Buzzcocks drummer, John Maher at the time ) getting together with a twenty three year old unemployed writer named Steven Patrick Morrissey to forge what many have called not only the greatest independent alternative U.K. band of the ’80s, The Smiths, but perhaps the last truly important classic pop songwriting partnership that popular music history has seen.

 

Can you name another songwriting team that has come along since that tops them?

 

 

 

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Andy Rourke, Morrissey, Johnny Marr and Mike Joyce  as The Smiths

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With this anniversary, there have come remastered editions (overseen by Johnny Marr) of their entire catalog, including a limited edition super deluxe pricey vinyl LP box, and (reviewed here) a more easily purchased CD box set version entitled The Smiths Complete.

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Despite any claims by fans or critics of who was the best or greatest, one thing is undeniable, that once they secured the line-up of Marr, Morrissey, drummer Mike Joyce and bassist Andy Rourke, The Smiths of Manchester U.K. found an exquisite chemistry that rang of the sublime and the catchy.

They released unquestionably beautiful music for the ages. Continue reading, please click here…

Standing At The Sky’s Edge: RICHARD HAWLEY’s Unexpected Musical Turn

This piece was originally published June 4th, 2012.

Richard Hawley Post TemplatePsychedelic Rock by its usual connotation, conjures up effects laden productions, replete with swirling overdriven guitars, echoed vocals, feedback squalls, Eastern model musical scales and exotic instrumentation drenched in reverb, all of which hearkens back to the acid fueled music of the late sixties and an early practitioner such as Jimi Hendrix.

The freedom that this music has given musicians and listeners has ensured that regardless of whether any of the participants have ingested mind altering substances or not, over the decades the fresh breath of Psychedelia has been an influences for artists, bands and music fans.

The sounds of Psychedelia have come back time and again as a healthy kick in the seat of musical complacency.

So while the anger of punk might have been the thing to give a big angry boost to said bloated complacency in the mid seventies, the creativity and subtleties allowed within the giant umbrella that is Psychedelia is often the direction to turn to when a sprinkling of something special, perhaps a small pinch of musical “Saffron,” is needed.

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Richard Hawley’s newest album Standing At the Sky’s Edge (Parlophone) is a perfect example of taking a great discography of near perfect albums and stretching out with a different and a very unexpected musical turn.
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JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI : I DREAM OF JIRO

This piece was originally published May 21st, 2012.

jiro Dreams Of Sushi Post TemplateIn the last 25 years Japanese cuisine has become as easily obtainable as a trip  to your local supermarket or a quick walk down the block to a nearby Japanese restaurant.

However, with the rapid influx of this delicacy, what quality are we getting?

What standard is upheld within the industry?

And just how dedicated to sushi is the person making it to sell in the prepared food section of your nearby mega chain supermarket?

Sushi, one of the mainstay items almost always offered at a Japanese restaurant, by its simplest definitions is cooked vinegared rice (shari) and whatever the rice is combined with (neta). Added to that can be the condiments such as wasabi, soy, ginger etc. The neta can be cooked egg or other things, but is most often raw fish that has been carefully selected and sliced, then presented with the rice by a highly trained and skilled chef who knows how to prepare it so as to avoid any illness that can be had by eating the raw fish.

There are many variations of sushi, such as the common ones here in the US: the rolled sushi which is calledmakizushi, and the nigirizushi which is the classic small mound of rice shaped by a chef’s hand with the slice of fish placed atop the rice. So sushi always has the rice, while sashimi, also often served in a Japanese restaurant, would be the slices of raw fish alone, either on a dish or over a bowl of rice.

Here at Mystery Box H.Q. all of the above, sushi, sashimi, etc. (along with the many other variations and other dishes that are usually served in a Japanese restaurant like miso soup, actual ramen noodle soup, oyakodon, and tempera, just to name a small few) are among our all time favorite culinary delights.

So it was with a much anticipated long time wait we were finally able to experience the documentary Jiro Dreams Of Sushi (2011) by director David Gelb.

 

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BEASTIE BOYS’ ADAM “MCA” YAUCH 1964-2012

This piece was originally published May 7th, 2012.

MCAI heard the news late last Friday afternoon: Adam Yauch, The Beastie Boys’ venerable, beloved MCA, had died at age 47.

I was floored. The more recent news on Adam’s battle with his illness seemed to be that it was of a treatable variety, so surely he would not only return to making music soon enough, he would be back on the stage touring once more with his partners.

Oddly, just a few days ago, I was telling a friend how The Beastie Boys were among my favorite groups that I had yet to see live, but I was sure there would come a time. Now I am sure it won’t be happening, and if the other B Boys decide to carry on, it will be difficult to recreate the magic of the mighty three.

 

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DR. JOHN’S LOCKED DOWN: Gumbo Songs In The Key of Black

This piece was originally published April 23rd, 2012.

Dr. John Post TemplateMalcolm John “Mac” Rebennack Jr. is better known to the world by his stage name, Dr. John.

Indeed, his aptly named persona (taken from a 19th century voodoo doctor) has always seemed to conjure up that of a sort of medicine show salesman, a traveling dealer in advice and pharmacological remedies—and not necessarily those of the snake oil variety—but more of the real kind of remedien that you can actually use.

 



Like a mythical figure that has arisen from the swampy bayous of New Orleans, with all the influences that may entail, his actual life has so often crisscrossed with his fictitious personalities that a haziness seems to permeate his musical career.

However, finding your way through the mist is as rewarding a musical adventure as you’ll likely ever have.
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Will Ferrell’s Casa de Mi Padre: Muy Divertido Multiplicado Por Diez!

This piece was originally published April 9th, 2012.

Casa de mi Padre Post TemplateIn his earlier Saturday Night Live days, Will Ferrell was among my more disliked cast members.

I can recall those of us watching referring to him as “that annoying guy.”

The dreaded Spartan Cheerleaders sketches he used to do with Cheri Oteri, another cast member I was never too fond of, were overly long and never that funny. For myself, the continuing antics of “Craig and Arianna” brought the show to a stand-still, despite some great guest hosts (Robert Downey Jr., Jim Carrey) appearing in the sketches.

 

Ron Burgundy 

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Funny how my thinking about Will turned around about the time his bare naked ass was running down the street in a brilliant performance in Old School (2003). With Anchorman: The Legend Of Ron Burgundy (2004), Ferrell’s status as a comedy force was complete.
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HUGO, MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES

This piece was originally published March 26th, 2012.

Hugo Post TemplateHere at Mystery Box H.Q. I was pondering a few column ideas as I often do, and one that I’d wanted to cover for some time was a fave toy from the ’70s called Hugo, Man Of A Thousand Faces.

I have been spending a few days up in the beautiful green of New Hampshire, and one night after laying in bed wondering if indeed this Hugo toy would make for a good column subject, I got up and made my way to splash some water on my face.

There staring back at me from one of the bathroom shelves was none other than a hand and body lotion named HUGO. 

If ever there would be a sign from the retro toy heavens telling me to write about something, then surely, this was it…


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THE DEMOULIN BROTHERS: Your Secret Society Superstore (In The 19th Century)

This piece was originally published March 12th, 2012.

Demoulin Brothers Post TemplateFraternal organizations (a.k.a. “Secret Societies” to many outsiders ) are as much a part of our modern cultural fabric as their names are familiar to us via parades, advertising, or perhaps a relative’s membership: Shriners, Freemasons, B’nai Brith. Elks, Kiwanis, Lion’s Club, Rotary International, Knight’s Of Columbus and The Loyal Order of Moose are but a few of the names you may have encountered driving past a “Temple” or seeing a sign mentioning a charity benefit “meat raffle.”

 

The Ancient Arabic Order of the Nobles of the Mystic Shrine a.k.a. Shriners

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The Independent Order Of Odd Fellows

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RETURN OF GRINGO!: PRINCE FATTY MEETS THE MUTANT HIFI = BULLSEYE!

This piece was originally published February 27th, 2012.

The Mustant Hi-Fi Post TemplateThe soundtrack to Return Of Gringo has indeed become one of the finest recent releases garnering heavy rotation here at Mystery Box HQ. 

However, an album this steeped in the complexities of Jamaican musical styles, needs some background info beforehand…

In the 1960’s, throughout the low income areas of Kingstown, Jamaica, the Rude Boy culture first emerged.

 

A young rude boy strikes a pose: Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley Continue reading, please click here…