Not Just Messin’ Around… or Cage The Elephant – Tell Me I’m Pretty

cagepic

It’s an interesting time to be Cage The Elephant. They could stick to their tried and true sound that has produced a number of alt-rock staples, or venture out to try something a little different. The risk for every artist is alienating old crowds while searching for new fans and retaining that wonderful feeling of loving what you do.

For inspiration, they have looked to the other side of the Atlantic and picked up influences ranging from the Beatles (“Sweetie Little Jean”) to Super Furry Animals (“Cry Baby”) and the Arctic Monkeys (“Mess Around”). To top that, they’ve got the ear of Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach at the controls, giving them sounds that ride sonic rhythms rather than relying on straight up indie-rock guitar. The result is a weird hybrid that welds together various pieces in some metaphoric ‘found object’ art instillation that is both strange yet incredibly accessible.

The old over-the-top swagger is exchanged for one of emphasis in the right places. It used to be that vocalist Matt Shultz would put out little vocal improvisations at a rate that would put James Brown to shame, but it seems Auerbach may have reined him in, allowing whole songs to catch the imagination. “Cold, Cold, Cold” is a perfect example; it’s a tune that has psychedelic flourishes that would be undermined by such displays. Instead, the fuzzed out guitar, classic 60’s style rhythm and haunting organ are allowed to drive home the mood.

Next you get a story of abuse set to a background of early rock ‘n’ roll sounds. “Punchin’ Bag” at its surface is a tale of someone who has ‘had enough’, but its musical tone conjures images created by the Sonics’ 1965 song “Strychnine” and its aggressive sinister sound.

Tell Me I’m Pretty is not content to be ‘just another’ alt-rock record to be quickly digested and tossed aside in a few months when the next ‘flavour’ arrives on shelves. It seeks to be a record that you keep coming back to; new sounds emerging on every subsequent listen; the kind of album that lives on in your consciousness and becomes a favourite.

A Kaleidoscope Of Sound or Zeus – Busting Visions

zeusbv

A kaleidoscope pumps out from the stereo and a good day gets better. That is how I started the morning off. Reaching for some black vinyl, I clean it, spin it and my kids beg me to stop singing along as Zeus break into “Are You Gonna Waste My Time?” from their 2012 LP Busting Visions. Mesmerizing textures built around sound craft shake the morning cobwebs from my cranium. Who needs caffeine when they have Zeus on the turntable?

In the last few years they have been one of my favourite bands. Like the short lived 90’s acts Jellyfish and The Grays, they play highly developed power-pop that takes the Beatles and Big Star models and filters it through a Jeff Lynne/ELO lens. The results is a gathering of tunes that catch you musically on an emotional level without stooping into that “baby baby” bag of tricks plaguing the airwaves with ‘Disney-fied’ hits.

You can feel free to ‘rock out’ without your brain going into a syrupy malaise. “Love/Pain” starts off in a “Glass Onion” conversational place before building into an all instruments in climax. “Anything You Want Dear” pours in the power-pop confection with the fast/slow drama of relationships in flux. The one liners drop: “If you’re under water / Send a message in the bubbles.” I could and probably should go on, but the important thing is the music. You really should give it a listen.

For now there are only four options open – vinyl, CD, digital download and streaming. The 180 gram vinyl comes in a gatefold sleeve and has a download card included. It sounds freakin’ fantastic.

The only problem I have with Busting Visions is how to follow the damn thing up. Do I jump back to the 60’s, maybe the 90’s or, just play one of their other records? So many options and only one set of ears.

You can pick up Busting Visions at your local record retailer or online from Arts & Crafts.

B+ / 4 Stars / 8 out 10 / Green Light… whatever! or Why I Don’t Grade Records In My Reviews?

Had a friend ask why I wasn’t assigning a grade on the reviews I was writing. It’s a fair question I suppose, which I thought I might share. The answer comes down to a few basic thoughts.

1) Reviews by their very nature are subjective. What I walk away with may be very different from what someone else does… and that’s cool! Honestly, I’ve never understood King Crimson, I find them indulgent. On the other hand I’ve had friends tell me they are genius. Still, it’s all just rock ‘n’ roll, and there’s room for everything at the table.

P1000824

2) The question of why isn’t this an A+ or 10/10. Again, I’ll answer with “subjective” but with a little more context. I love the Posies Frosting On The Beater.

posiesfrosting

In my eyes it is an outstanding record. However, when I initially reviewed it back in 90 whatever, I gave it a B+ review in the Ontarion. Later when I interviewed them I was asked why. After a pause I answered…

“Well, it isn’t Sgt Peppers.”

What a dumbass answer! Let’s use a hockey analogy. Someone asks me why I don’t think Patrick Roy is the greatest goalie of all time and I answer with because he isn’t Wayne Gretzky (not a goalie), you would think I was both stupid and insane. Well creating a grade based on a comparison of those two records is not exactly the work of a genius.

Critics know that if they say everything is A+ that they will soon lose, or never have credibility. The same applies to negative reviews. However, if the criticism does its job properly, you’ll know what a reviewer thought without the need for a mark. So, if I think you should hear an album, you’ll read about it, and hopefully be intrigued enough to give it a spin and judge for yourself.

3) It’s a blog. My blog. If I’m working for a publication and they want a grade, fine – here’s a grade (And believe me, if you want to pay me to write for your publication – I’m available). However, a blog is basically a self publication where you make up your own rules – so, no grade. I’m still responsible to stand behind the words. If people have complaints, I’ll happily answer them, but I enjoy reviewing records without the marks, so that is just what I will do.

Now, as for The Posies… you should listen to them, they’re pure power-pop at its finest… and… well,  I really want it on vinyl…

 

Punk Before Anyone Coined The Phrase or The Sonics – Here Are The Sonics!!!

sonics2

No one quite did early garage rock like The Sonics. They were a musical mess of fuzzy guitar, earth pounding drums, screaming vocals and lyrics that were dirty and just plain asinine at times. This was the early sixties and while The Beatles were singing “Love Me Do” The Sonics were belting out “she’s gonna make you itch / ‘cause she’s the witch” (from the song “The Witch”) and as the Stones sang about “Mother’s Little Helper” these guys were blasting out a tune named “Strychnine.” It was a sound that reverberated from the 60’s and had enough impact to influence everyone one from The Stooges to Nirvana. The fact is that they were punk long before anyone even coined the phrase.

That The Sonics are not a household name is more at testament to poor timing than quality of expression. They were loud and crass before it became popular, and when they tried to move in a more commercial direction, that sound changed again and the band wasn’t thrilled about their new path anyway. Their debut, Here Are The Sonics!!!, was released in 1965 and by ’68 they called it a day. However, punk in the 70’s and grunge in the 90’s brought renewed interest in the band. Nirvana and later the White Stripes and Hives hailed them as influences while cover versions of their songs were played by the Flaming Lips, The Fall, L7, The Cramps, LCD Soundsystem and more.

If you are considering giving these guys a try the best place to start is with Here Are The Sonics!!! which provides the best overall example of their sound. On vinyl, you have a few choices, but your best bet is actually the 1998 mono edition released on regular vinyl. Mono being how it was originally recorded, it sounds far better. The great thing is that it is still widely available, NEW, for around the twenty dollar mark. A re-united Sonics has been touring and recently released a new album, This Is The Sonics.

One of the Most Awesome Records Ever or Big Star – Radio City

radiocity

They should have been shattered upon the rocks of apathy and cast into the dark pit of ambiguity, but instead they released a record every bit the equal of their debut. Big Star’s #1 Record was critically a success but poorly distributed resulting in sales that didn’t even come close to the high expectations the band had of themselves. The result saw a heart broken singer /songwriter Chris Bell quit the band altogether. Yet Alex Chilton took Jody Stephens and Andy Hummel into the world of yet another perfect power-pop record.

Ranked #403 on Rolling Stones “Top 500 Albums of All Time” Radio City was filled with great bursts of electric guitar reminiscent of the Kinks, vocal harmonies inspired by the Beach Boys, and lyrical stories that captured the artistic simplicity of Lennon / McCartney through a Memphis filter.

Songs like “September Gurls” “Back Of A Car” and I’m In Love With A Girl” didn’t just capture a moment in time; they spoke the universal truth of teen longing and confusion in dream crushing detail. “Sittin’ in the back of a car / music so loud can’t tell a thing / thinkin’ ‘bout what to say / can’t find the lines” from “Back Of A Car” has Chilton’s vocals expressing multiple emotions with such knowing intimacy you would swear you were witness to an event.

It is near insanity to think that this amazing and powerful record is still not given the recognition it deserves as it easily stands beside the all time great albums. Actually, you may accuse me of hyperbole, but #1 Record and Radio City combined is one of the best one-two punches to be released in all rock music.

In terms of vinyl, Radio City has several options available to you. The obvious choice is to go back to the original 1974 release. Used copies of the stereo edition will set you back at least $150 while the mono version sells for over $370.

A 1986 reissue of the album sells for a much more reasonable $20.00 with a German reissue on white vinyl going around $30.00. They also came with an alternate cover.

radioalt

radiowhite

There is a twelve year gap to 1998 when Stax first re-mastered Radio City. You can pick used copies in the twenty dollar range.

However, your best bets come from the five vinyl editions released since 2009. Stax released a regular vinyl edition, while Classic Records Proprietary issued a re-mastered 200 gram vinyl.  These are highly coveted and sell for anywhere between $50 and $150 on the reseller market.

In 2010, a red vinyl edition was released in the UK and Europe, and has an asking price of over $30.00.

radiored

The last re-master is still the easiest to get, and sounds great. In 2014, 4 Men With Beards released Radio City on 180 gram vinyl and you can still find copies under $30.

So many choices, and yet I would advise you to just stroll over to your local independent record store and see what they have. The 2014 reissue is still widely available.

How Superstitious Are You? Playlist April 5/15

  1. “Slipin’ & Slidin’” – Little Richard

I read somewhere once that Here’s Little Richard is one of the most ‘essential’ records of all time. After listening a few dozen times in recent weeks, I believe that I agree. There is currently a special limited edition of it at Newbury Comics.

  1. “Livin’ For The City” – The Dirtbombs

Love this record and love this band. I highly recommend you give them a listen. You can order stuff from here.

  1. “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder

After reviewing The Dirtbombs, I couldn’t resist playing something from the legend himself. Wish he hadn’t lost his political edge for a bunch of wedding played syrup, but still, when he was at his creative peak, he couldn’t be touched.

  1. “Your Touch” – The Black Keys

Earlier Black Keys, they just frickin’ rock – no matter what Mr. White has to say.

  1. “Hold On” – Alabama Shakes

Something about this band just leaves me wanting more; looking forward to getting the new stuff.

  1. “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs

A good Neil Young cover is always welcome around here. Besides it gives me another excuse to play something from those great cover albums by Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs.

  1. “Ballad of Big Nothing (Alternate Vocal)” – Elliot Smith

Another re-release from Newbury, … I love Smith’s music, I just wish it didn’t remind me of… well, less talk – more listen.

  1. “Punky’s Dilemma” – Simon & Garfunkel

Started writing a review that included a memory of this song; haven’t finished the review, but the song makes me smile all the same.

  1. “Blackbird” – Paul McCartney & Wings

Besides the recent re-master of Wings Over America, I actually have an old cassette copy I got back when I was about 15. Can’t believe this guy is still touring… can’t believe Kanye fans didn’t know who he was… actually…. I can believe that. Nevermind.

  1. “Magnet and Steel” – Walter Egan

Don’t own it on vinyl, but I really do love this song. For some reason I always thought this was a Buckingham – Nicks song and always pictured Lindsay & Stevie singing it together. For a billion years I’ve known the truth, but that image just never goes away.

  1. “Don’t Let Me Break Your Heart Again” – Turbo Fruits

Best Strokes sounding song not put out by the Strokes in a very long time; can’t wait to hear the whole record.

  1. “The Root” – Kim Deal & Morgan Nagler

Kim Deal is so frickin’ awesome it hurts. Don’t want to picture the Pixies without her – so I don’t. She has her own web store where she is selling her singles and posting videos. This video is pretty cool.

  1. “What Ever Happened?” – The Strokes

No, I’m not paid to promote Newbury! BUT – they do put out some cool collectible vinyl!

  1. “Disarm” – The Smashing Pumpkins

It is getting hard to find this edition of Siamese Dream that is 180 gram vinyl with a gatefold cover. Get it soon or wait for the next significant anniversary.

  1. “Positive Bleeding” – Urge Overkill

Yeah… I broke down and bought it! Probably use it as an example of how the poor exchange rate makes buying from south of the border a little on the expensive side.

  1. “Until The Sun Comes” – Rival Sons

Love this song, I’m just not sure about the band yet. I’ll let you know later.

  1. “If Only We Were Dogs” – Juliana Hatfield Three

Soon to be sold out from her web store, if you are thinking about it… you better get on it.

  1. “I Ain’t Superstitious” – The Jeff Beck Group

It just made it across the Atlantic, and it already seems hard to get. Good Luck!

  1. “Communication Breakdown” – Led Zeppelin

No problem finding this gem any and everywhere.

  1. “John, I’m Only Dancing (Sax Version, 2003)” – David Bowie

This record has become “My Precious” he says in his best Gollum voice. This is a great version of the classic “John, I’m Only Dancing.” Why do I love it so much – the answer is in the song.

Just In Case You Forgot! The Jeff Beck Group – Truth (Mono)

jeffbeck2

Back in the day, when young stoners would start discussions about the finer points of Led Zeppelin, someone would always stop the conversation with a single word – Truth. A small hush would hit the room as someone would explain that Rod Stewart was once cool… maybe twice ha ha… then tell the huddled few about the Jeff Beck Group. Discussion goes toward how Page ripped Beck off by showing him “this proto-type for Zeppelin” even going so far as to perform the same cover of “You Shook Me” on their debut. (Same Howlin’ Wolf song, but way different interpretations.) By this point I would drift away from all the “conjecture bullshit”, and find a good speaker to sit close to as the buzz wore off.

z1

I have never been one for conspiracy theories, and all the talk about Beck vs. Page has always kinda bored the crap out of me. If there is any talking to be done, it should be by the music itself. So here it is – Truth, the first Jeff Beck Group record, has been re-released on mono – exactly as it was recorded, and exactly how it should be heard.

I’ve had friends ask me about mono vs. stereo and all I ever say is this; what format was the album recorded for? In the late 60’s the switch was taking place, and it started with a bunch of mono records being transferred to stereo after the fact. That is a good portion of the reason that the Beatles have re-released sets in stereo and mono and each had to be re-mastered for the individual format.

Mono means that all music is being put out through a single channel. You could have multiple speakers but the same identical sound, with equal distribution, will come out. In stereo, music is going out multiple channels allowing different sounds to come from multiple speakers. Hence, you might hear a vocal out of the right side and a guitar out of the left.

Anyway, both are cool, and both have an impact on how you hear the music. My personal gauge is how the music was originally released.

For the longest time Truth has only been available in the stereo format, but this newest import has been re-mastered from the source tapes back to its original mono origins. Whew.

With all the Zeppelin re-issues going out, I thought that someone should mention that this classic record, which to me plays as almost a companion piece to Zep I and vice versa, is out there to be had.

But act quick! Amazon in Canada is nearly sold out. Northern Volume still has a copy or two, but it could get difficult to find in a hurry.

 

“WTF” The Mystery of the Beatles: Sgt Peppers 1978 – On the Path to Vinyl Glory #2

 

Just before Christmas I was flipping through the pages of e-bay, day dreaming about all the expensive things that I neither need nor can afford, when I came across a listing for one of the greatest albums ever released – The Beatles: Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Now ordinarily I might not have stopped to look seeing as I already have a couple versions, but this was a grey marble style vinyl, and it was priced ‘under’ thirty dollars.

“WTF”

sgtpeppers

I placed a bid, not expecting to actually win and the family and I left to spend a couple seasonal days with my in-laws.

Upon my return I found out I won…, again  – “WTF”

So now I need to find out what I’ve bought and why it was worth owning.

Well, this particular piece of wax was a limited version put out in Canada only in the year 1978. At first this seemed really damned strange. Why Canada only? Why 1978? Why Sgt Peppers?

A little research, a bit of conjecture and two of the questions are answered. 1978 was the year one of the worst music based movies ever was released… Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. A movie so bad it pretty much killed the careers of both the Bee Gees and Peter Frampton.

sgtpepperframpton

Anyway, it seems the record execs thought the movie would garner renewed interest in the Fab Four, and so different parts of their catalogue were re-released in ‘special editions.’ However, things get a little weird after this. In the U.S., Peppers was released as a picture disc and then varying colours in different countries.

$_86

Abbey Road was also released in picture disc form in the U.S. while the White Album was released in the U.K. on white vinyl. From what I can tell, it seems that each countries own division of EMI was putting out something a little different in each place.

The final result seems to be a virtual plethora of Beatles vinyl coming out of 1978. The unfortunate part of this is that while the music is on a solid vinyl (140 gram I think), it doesn’t hold up against the CD or the recently re-mastered vinyl editions in both stereo and mono.  It is definitely a cool collectible that can be found at a decent price, but it isn’t anything more than that.

Episode One – Christmas and more…

Introduction

Here it is folks, the first real post for the new Barrettbites. Or, well, at least the written blog part. The video portion will be coming soon, but needs a bit more work. I put the theme song at the top of the post and will start adding the rest of the episode as each video segment is completed.

In the future, I probably won’t cram five pieces into a single post, but I wanted to get this out there…

I really hope you enjoy it, because it was a lot of fun putting it together.

Thanks

 

 

 

On The Path To Vinyl Glory

Twice a year the wonderful people at “Record Store Day” get great bands to do some limited stuff and music geeks like myself line up to wait for our store of choice to open its doors. Official Record Store Day is in late April, but the second is on Black Friday. The irony is that you wait in a line to spend cash on things with no savings to be had at all, while a couple doors down people are waiting to save a whack of cash on things to play their music on.  Once the flood gates open, the line becomes a mob in an effort to get those one or two must have items while they remain on the shelf. This of course leads to an absurd scene in which a bunch of musical nerds (including myself) paw at narrowly displayed vinyl until they get hold of that Mother Love Bone 7” inch and send records flying in all directions during the collection process.

The highlights of this Black Friday included in no particular order

The Ramones  – curated by Morrisey

It doesn’t get much cooler than one of the planets most influential artists picking songs that best represent another set of influential artists.

ramones curated

A red vinyl re-release of Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You

Perhaps the greatest pop influenced Christmas record ever recorded.

Print

A limited re-release of the Kinks Muswell Hillbillies

The best example of Ray Davies overall song writing prowess.

kinks

A live Green Day ep Tune in, Tokyo as well as a bunch of 45’s by J.Mascis, the Decemberists, the Beatles and many many more things.

Today, as I was kneeling to see what was on the lower shelves, a shower of various records fell upon my head. There was Dio and Joe Satriani. There was Miles Davis and the Flaming Lips. There was Green Day  and David Bowie raining down upon me as if to say “Merry Christmas, now please,  take home more than you want or can afford.”

So, while I got a few things I wanted today, some of which I will review later, there is always a couple that just didn’t show, or were purchased before I could get to it. This times it was a cover of J.Mascis doing Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” and the Greatest Christmas rock album ever – Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You. I’ll keep looking for them, but for now, they have escaped my grasp.

Which is just how it goes on Record Store Day in Canada…  A long list shows up over the net – you put together a geek wish list of items you want –  you politely battle for a position in front of the corner where said records are displayed – only to find that a bunch of items are not at your favorite retailer –  or are not even being shipped to your country.

 

The Blast From The Past

Vince Guaraldi Trio

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Fantasy Records (Newbury Comics Limited Edition Red/White Vinyl)

Music_album_record_a_charlie_brown_christmas

 

With the holiday season in mind, what better time to look back at one of the best Christmas records ever.  Guaraldi created something so magical that one cannot imagine the animated special without the music. The best moments of A Charlie Brown Christmas is where the animation and the music link arm in arm to create a perfect mood.

“Merry Christmas Charlie Brown” yell the Peanuts their heads all look to the sky and the holes that are their cartoon mouths move to the sound of “Hark, The Hearld Angels Sing.” It is one of my favorite Christmas special moments – but why should you own the soundtrack – and why on vinyl?

First, the music not only holds up without the cartoon, but it actually stands out as something special alone. Guaraldi’s greatest triumph as an artist was always his ability to convey emotion through music. In just over 40 minutes he captures the varied feelings brought out during the season. There is a sense of not only joy and wonder, but also empathy, sadness, and even humour. It is music that can be enjoyed with a set of headphones or put in the back ground as you enjoy a glass of Riesling with a few friends. It is an awesome sit down record that seems as familiar as reminiscing with an old friend during the holiday season.

So, the real question… why vinyl?

Glad you asked.

With only a decent turntable, the sonics hold up against the CD. In fact, it sounds a bit better. Having played them against one another, certain piano runs just have a warmer and more dynamic feel. It sounds like someone is in the room playing rather than a couple of speakers pumping sound.

Next, while a CD is a pretty good gift, a limited edition coloured vinyl album is a really cool and collectable gift. Hecky darn, it’s an amazing and sentimental Christmas gift. Really it is the kind of thing that someone remembers exactly who gave it to them over the years, and will be pulled out with a big smile on their face.

Now the copy I have here is from Newbury Comics which is not only a pretty cool comic book/record store retailer, it also puts out limited edition coloured vinyl. For A Charlie Brown Christmas, Newbury has a limited run of 1500 records put out on a split red and white 12” vinyl priced at $27.99 US. Shipping is a very reasonable eleven bucks and change, which coming in from the US, believe me – it could be a lot more.

Even if you don’t get the Newbury edition, the A Charlie Brown Christmas album had been released a couple years back on a limited green vinyl release. While Amazon isn’t carrying it, you can still spot the odd one in some of the better independent record stores around.

http://www.newburycomics.com/rel/v2_viewupc.php?storenr=103&upc=103-2036171N

 

Lately I’ve been thinking… listening… whatever… it’s a new review damn you!

Imagene Peise (The Flaming Lips)

Atlas Eets Christmas

Warner Bros.

ROUND 1

Back in 2007, the Flaming Lips were still at their peak as they were touring 2006’s At War With The Mystics. So, with a massive backstory written on the CD jacket they put out a Christmas record in very limited quantity under the pseudonym Imagene Peise. The only clue to it being the Lips was a sticker on the plastic wrap that read “Merry Christmas from the Flaming Lips.”

Fast forward seven years and the Lips are doing a larger run of their Christmas record, this time on red translucent vinyl. What is extremely fascinating about Atlas Eets Christmas is just how well the Lips stay in character. Yes they sound like the Flaming Lips, but with the crackles and pops they have added to the record, at times it really does come off as some little known jazz artist that walked straight out of a mid-eastern desert.

So what you get is this instrumental record that is driven by piano and accompanied by synthesizer and sitar. Instead of the usual holiday sentiment poured into your consciousness like a well known Chardonnay, you find yourself drinking Port for the first time ever. It’s cigar smoke drenched and kissed with oak in a darkened bar where you sit alone by the window and contemplate the true meaning of that one bright star hovering in the sky.

Or, let’s just say that this isn’t an easily accessible holiday record designed to make you remember roasting chestnuts and singing Rudolph with the family. Nope, it mixes joy with quiet reflections and darker hues of greens and reds that don’t so much shine with a warm glow as threaten to burn. The character of “Imagene” is rumoured to have committed suicide in 1978, and that underlying feel is carried throughout the record.

Personally, I found myself rather mesmerized by Atlas Eets Christmas in much the same way I find some of the darker records in my collection. It isn’t an easy listen, and not one I would pull out while toasting the health of my in-laws as we sit down to our turkey. But, it is a worthy record to pull off the shelf in mid-December after you’ve spent a few hours shopping in an over-crowed mall, that has ‘syruped’ your ears with greetings from Celine and Bolton in some attempt to make you want to buy more stuff from more places. This might be a kind of apocalyptic Christmas record, but sometimes that’s what we need in order to really appreciate what we have.

Anyway, it is a very cool record, and any Flaming Lips fan would be ecstatic to find this under the tree on Christmas day. When I last checked their were still copies to be found at the independent record stores around town, and it shouldn’t cost anymore than 25 bucks a pop.

 

Comic Relief – The Christmas Edition.

Perhaps you’re looking for the perfect gift this holiday season to give to that Fan Expo person in your life… well if so, look no further than the Uncanny X-Men # 143.

Uncanny_X-Men_Vol_1_143

In this Christmas issue of the Uncanny X-Men, every fan-boys dream girl-next door Kitty Pride, faces off against a soul sucking demon, with claws that can rip through solid steel walls and yada yada yada. Because you know, nothing says happy holidays like a young Jewish teenage girl being chased through a mansion by a demon reminiscent of the aliens in… well Alien.

From a trivia/ value point of view, it is also the end of a run of issues that saw the stellar Chris Claremont and John Bryne team up and produce some of the X-Mens most memorable issues including the introduction of Canadian Super-Team Alpha Flight, the Death of Phoenix, and the inspiration for the most recent X-movie, Days of Future Past.

Both writers are legends within the business and comic guides always have their material marked up a couple extra bucks. From a gift perspective, this is a stand- alone issue that has great character development, and importance within the greater Marvel community as the first issue Kitty has had to battle alone. Honestly, it shows just how damn smart her character is.

Prices will range depending on the condition of the comic itself, but you should expect to pay between $20 and $35 for a decent copy. And even knowing the issue came out back in 1981, which by my math makes it 33 years since its release, you can still find  it easily enough at some of your better comic shops. Or if all else fails – ebay.

 

Collectors Corner

A Christmas Carol or Scrooge

The 1951 Alastair Sim Version

For many years I have stayed up late on Christmas Eve so that I could watch the old 1951 classic black and white version of A Christmas Carol. For me, it is the ultimate holiday movie. While not exactly what I would call family friendly, it does put forward not only the themes of kindness and generosity, but also the desire for redemption.

The movie acts as morality tale, horror film, and holiday movie all in one shot, which pretty much speaks to its lasting appeal. Then of course there is the multitude of versions inspired by both the original Dickins tale, and this film. Bill Murray, Mickey Mouse, the Muppets, Jim Carrey and many many many others have all taken shots at telling this story.

However, from a collectors point of view, beyond the books and movies (movie in Blu-Ray can be had for about $15.99 from Amazon) – what is there?

a christmas dvd

Glad you asked.

The movie posters!

Yep. The movie posters.

A quick search online and you will find yourself at movieposters.com which is located in Toronto and has a massive selection of movie posters to be had.

Seeing as I’m sticking to the 1951 film, you can find two different reproductions at great price points.

The first is close to your standard sized movie poster at 26” by 39” for $10.99. Standard size these days is 27” by 40” but places that sell posters usually also sell frames that will fit any film poster size.

cc standard

Of course, if you don’t have wall space for something so big, you can go with the more classic look poster that is only 11” by 17” which is also $10.99.

cc small

Then, let’s not forget the collectors dream come true – an original poster! While it is identical to the 26″ by 39″ it is bigger.

The one selling at movieposters.com (http://ca.movieposter.com/poster/MPW-54764/Christmas_Carol.html) is not standard size and does not come cheap. Remember that this movie holds legendary status amongst people that love both old films and Christmas themed films.

The poster itself is 44.5” by 82.5” which is both wider and taller than me – and I’m pretty wide and tall. It also sells for $2529.99; which means, sign up for their newsletter and wait for a 15% off sale because even that will save you a few hundred bucks. Of course, a serious collector will love ya forever with a gift like that, but let’s face it; it is out of the price range for most of us.