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Sunday, February 19, 2012



Underdog: The Complete Collector’s Edition (Shout! Factory) :: In what can only be seen as a sign that the universe is finally unfolding as it should, the pop culture vultures at Shout! Factory have released this definitive archival nine disc (!) twenty-four hour long (!!) box set which painstakingly restores every single animated Underdog episode, as originally aired on NBC beginning in 1964, in its original four part story arc, along with the “Go Go Gopher” and “Commander McBragg” shorts that accompanied it. Impressive, I know.

Even better, both Underdog and his secret identity Shoeshine Boy are voiced by the legendary Wally “Mr. Peepers” Cox, who was blessed with one of the most originally distinctive and instantly identifiable voices the world of animation has ever known. Indeed, it’s nigh on impossible to imagine anyone else having the right rhyming dynamic drawl needed to imbue Underdog with life other than Cox. So be a model citizen and buy this absolutely essential box set now to see for yourself why Underdog still rules the skies half a century after his dynamic début!

A Different Kind Of Truth (Interscope) :: Telling the truth to lazy musicians has always been my job, which is why I wrote a feature record review of Diver Down in the August 1982 issue of CREEM titled “Seller’s Market” that was so devastatingly dismissive, word got back to me that Van Halen was up in arms about it to the point of being downright white knuckle irate—which was only fitting since I was plenty peeved myself after shelling out my hard-earned shekels for that lousy album.

Amazingly, this new one has everything that Diver Down didn’t including, most crucial of all, an over abundance of cheeky trademark cheap asides by Roth which range from the sassily self-congratulatory: “I told ya I was comin’ back. Say you missed me. Say it like you mean it...” to the authoritatively admonitory: “Aw, this next part should really confuse things; everybody, let’s stay focused. A little more volume in the headphones please?”

And speaking of volume, not only is this the loudest Van Halen album ever, it’s the flat out speed freak fastest one in that almost every song is played in an out of control double time style that’s ridiculously relentless. Refreshingly devoid of any keyboards or ballads, some might say that it’s a guy’s album because it doesn’t have a “Jamie’s Cryin’” on it—but that’s the back to the basics point, as ably evidenced by the overtly overpowering album cover image.

As good as the two last gasp Roth reunion tracks on Best Of Volume 1 were, neither of them gave any indication whatsoever that these guys were still capable of recording an entire long player as dynamically youthful and octave spanning as this one is. It may not be as thoughtfully mature as Fair Warning but it’s easily the exhilarating auditory equivalent of Women And Children First, if not more so, and that’s a musical miracle in itself.

In fact, as it stands right now, the only way Van Halen could possibly be improved is if they hired back fired founding bassist Michael Anthony—to sing background vocals.

Sammy who?

Be seeing you!

Sun, February 19, 2012 | link 

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