WRITING

Zinefest 2017- July 15, 2017

I’m on track to have Crazy-Ass Mummy done for Zinefest 2017. I’ll be there with Cramhole and Cramhole related products.

BLACK SABBATH- Past Lives (Rhino) LP

One of my favorite things ever said about Plan 9 From Outer Space was whenever it’s on it feels like it’s four in the morning. Some things are like that. Sabbath is often better as a night thing. Past Lives tends the fields of fuzzy English moss growing on the North side of their iconic root-riff rocking. It takes you to a time where a late-night session with Sabbath on the headphones might cause you to believe they were hiding in the curtains. The band is remembered primarily for furious riffs that became seeds of an emerging style of hard rock. This live album offers an intimate experience with the point of view no heavy darkness exists without the sun.

For such an important and influential band, Sabbath was not well documented as a live act during their heyday. The most focused effort to release a live album was the war of the hits between Dio-era Sabbath on Live Evil and Ozzy’s Speak of the Devil. Before the war of the double live albums, there was Live at Last, an unsanctioned cash grab by their ex-management crediting vocals duties to “Ossie” Osbourne. The band didn’t approve of the record and critical complaints ranged from lack of “Iron Man” to slowed down performances. They definitely weren’t a “just play the hits” outfit. Unfortunately for Sabbath, the mid to late seventies found them becoming the milestone by which live bands were measured; most often it was because a band blowing Sabbath away in the stadium was on their way to becoming the biggest band in the world. Van Halen fans were among those who didn’t hang around to see Sabbath. Kiss also became hard for Sabbath to follow. There’s no accounting for taste.

To be fair, it’s easy to see how a party stadium crowd might not be able to transfer into the Sabbath mindset. Sabbath live was a more cerebral experience, and Live at Last is a raw slab of Sab during the early days. Listening to Sabbath live brings out the unmistakable sparkle of evil inherent in the music. Beyond the record companies posturing of a devilish image the band claims no responsibility for, nothing sounds as if it has risen from smoke like Sabbath on stage. Even when the performances sound a bit lumbering, the band pulls out non-album fills and improv forming a machine around the songs you know: a machine that belches but never dies. Along with the songs on Past Lives comes no-party-attitude solos, Ozzie’s working class rapport with the audience, and decisively English guitar intervals.

Past Lives was originally released on CD in 2002. It contains the Live at Last LP plus a second disc of live performances from 1970 and 1975. The LP reissue arrives at a time when the band is on their latest final tour and the early albums are being pressed with bonus tracks and more remastering. So far the bonus tracks on the studio albums have been largely nominal instrumental takes fit only to serve the fan’s curiosity. Past Lives has no extra tracks from its original release. But the live album is an encompassing package in itself. And the remastering? Black Sabbath is remastered every time you turn up the volume. How much more of a punch in the face is there besides a round of “Sweet Leaf.” Past Lives passes the most important test: it sounds good loud.

So with no extra tracks, the obvious consumer consideration for buying Past Lives is if you’re happy with your copy of Live at Last, you have the entire first LP in this two record set. Past Lives is more of what you want. I never got a copy of Live at Last, so it’s a nice late night listen for my money. As a fan, it won’t disappoint. As a consumer, you have to weigh that factor for yourself. But, for the record, the second disc has fucking “Iron Man” on it.

(Billups Allen)

 

 

Wednesday December 16, 2015

 

Cramhole 4 enters at

Upshur Books
827 Upshur St. NW
Washington D.C. 20011

with a short story film show featuring photos by Ben Tankersley

and a power point presentation about The Dark Ages

Also new shirts and bags

back issue bundles,

…and very few other surprises.

Come on down for Cramhole 4

It’s a zine, and very little else.

Ben Tankersley

We’ll also be selling zines and junk at the Black Cat rock ‘n’ shop December 20th.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Upshur posted November 24, 2015 in: Writing | Comments (0)

Here’s a nice mention about the book in Decibel.

Decibel

Decibel posted June 1, 2015 in: Writing | Comments (0)

Here’s a nice mention in Fangoria about a short story project I’m psyched to be a part of:

Healing Monsters

Healing Monsters posted March 22, 2015 in: Writing | Comments (0)

 

Lunchmeat #8 is out now. 
Lunchmeat #8

Lunchmeat #8 posted October 17, 2014 in: Writing | Comments (0)

The League ebook is up on Amazon now.

 

The League

ebook posted February 19, 2014 in: Writing | Comments (0)

Here is a short review I sent out to a horror mag I hope to do some writing for in the future. For those horror fans who haven’t seen the Death Waltz releases, they are primo classy.

The House by the Cemetery
Score by Walter Rizzati
Directed by Lucio Fulci
Exclusive new cover art by Graham Humphreys

Prog rock-inspired scores brought a new twist to the tone of horror movies in the seventies. Influential films like Dawn of the Dead helped marry the prog-style soundtrack with the new wave of gory horror creating a new standard for neo-gothic narratives. For fans of Lucio Fulci’s unique brand of non-linear storytelling, Walter Rizzati’s score for the third installment of the unofficial Gates of Hell trilogy is a solid listen. Now available on LP through Death Waltz Records, a label dedicated to reissuing seminal and somewhat lost horror soundtracks, Rizzati’s music adds considerable atmosphere to the experience of The House by the Cemetery. The synth heavy score compliments the eerie and gory elements of the film and solidifies Fulci’s vision. Death Waltz celebrates long out of print horror scores like with high-end vinyl releases. The album as a product harkens back the old philosophy of vinyl releasing by including treats like album art posters and record flats. The art comes from veteran movie poster artist Graham Humphreys; it’s a wonderfully gory reimagining of images from the film. Humphreys’ credits include posters for The Evil Dead and A Nightmare on Elm Street along with loads of cult and horror DVD covers. For fans of Italian horror, House by the Cemetery is essential listening.

Death Waltz

House by the Cemetery posted August 25, 2013 in: Writing | Comments (0)

I sent out a bunch of reviews recently that of course were all rejected. Here is a short one about the recent Resonars album. Looking back at my reviews, I realize I may have written about them too many times. But I can’t help it; I think they are sorely underrated. In a recent set of submissions, I mentioned to the editor of a large magazine he should be listening to the Resonars. I bet he went right out and checked them out.

The Resonars- Crummy Desert Sound
Burger Records
Desert psych masters continue to bake in the sun.
This long-standing psychedelic band from Tucson, Arizona has weathered several retro resurgences. Six albums over nearly fifteen years find a psychedelic powerhouse producing consistently great psychedelic pop albums while languishing in the blazing Arizona desert. The Resonars combine jangly guitars and carefully placed fuzz to create psychedelic pop influenced heavily by Revolver-era Beatles. The band’s unique brand of pop-infused psychedelia is served with precision, Hollie’s style vocal harmonies. Tomorrow Gears and Vanishing People are punk-tempo rockers framing tropes of early powerpop. But this band should not be written off as simply a retro outfit. Thick layers of upbeat psychedelic riffs hold the interest of retro hounds, but the songwriting on Crummy Desert Sound is multifaceted.

I ‘m home after a little over a week in the hospital. The surgery was a success. I kept my kidney and it seems the tumor is gone. After a couple of months of recovery, I hope to pull the year together and get some things accomplished. I never know how much medical stuff to share here. Many people have heard about my recent struggles with cancer have contacted me. I’m touched so many people take time to wish me well. I’m glad to say I’m feeling better, well enough to write, and hope to keep up at least with some regular reviews and things until I’m 100%.

Also, It’s pretty obvious that writing on the site has fallen off a bit. But I hope to rectify that and I’m still sending around The League a bit in hopes of getting it published. If that doesn’t work, I’m determined to do it myself and keep working forward. I’ve been working on writing some blurbs and new submissions for magazines. I’ve got some boss new albums recently and, of course, I’m watching way to many movies. Also been doing some new fiction, so look back for that. Rejected reviews will end up here and I’m working to at least polish a few new short stories. Below are some words on two time travel films I watched recently and thought were pretty good.

Surgery posted July 3, 2013 in: Writing | Comments (0)

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