Monday, November 27, 2006

Cover Riddle #5

Like Batman, James Bond, and Alien before it, the Cover Riddle is resurrected. The last one I did was, oh, about 8 months ago. These aren't covers, but don't worry there will be cover answers.

Tell me the common thread that links these tunes. Bonus points for not using google, the bane of trivia quizzes everywhere (2nd only to wikipedia). I'm looking for the name of a film and perhaps how each track specifically relates.

Ralph Steadman - Little Boy Billee
Oasis and Friends - Fade Away
Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet - Hunter S. Thompson's Younger Brother

Piece 'o cake. Go.

(Actually I changed my mind, go ahead and use O Mighty Google. I changed one of the songs to make it slightly less obvious.)

Friday, November 24, 2006

Beta Blogger Blues

Bah to change!

I just switched irreversibly to the new Blogger Beta. There's some nifty new features, but having to reconstruct all my sidebar content was a pain. The previous formatting is also gone since it's both "easily" customizable, yet overly restrictive. And check out that cool dynamic archive thing on the side. Pretty awesome, unless you have a Mac and it crashes trying to load August 2005. Fantastic! Editing the template on my Mac is also like hell. And similar to the garbage that is "Windows Live! beta" (obviously not designed for the Mac user), once you switch you can't go back. Damn you Google, you aren't supposed to follow in the footsteps of Microsoft!

Harry Nilsson - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life [originally by Monty Python]

Does anyone remember the time when Google used to just mean a really big number? Bring back googol!

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bond. James Bond Covers.

I'm quite excited about Casino Royale, which comes out today and seems to have generated some good buzz. Though after the invisible car, CGI parachute-surfing, Halle Berry-plagued, Madonna-themed antics of Die Another Day (as in "please don't let the Bond series end on this note"), anything is an improvement. I'm sorry Pierce Brosnan, but the Bond films haven't been exciting since Goldeneye (not your fault). People have been ragging on the new Chris Cornell theme song, with some proclaiming "worst Bond theme ever". Honestly, did everyone suddenly forget Madonna's Die Another Day? Gah! Just thinking of it makes me shiver. Or All Time High? All time low of the Bond theme canon is more like it, though perhaps at the time the songwriter really was on an all time high. I was in the Sony store the other day and in their big screen home theatre area they had an instrumental version of the new theme song playing on an endless loop over clips from the film. It was actually pretty sweet and had me psyched to see Casino Royale. Back in January I posted some Bond theme covers as the answer to one of my "Cover Riddles," a feature on this blog that seems to have gone the way of George Lazemby. Now, to celebrate the release of Casino Royale: some more Bond theme covers.

Bond on Bond [originally by Monty Norman]
The all-girl string quartet called Bond performs their namesake. Definitely not your grandfather's string quartet.

Shirley Bassey - Goldfinger [Propellerheads remix]
This comes from a pretty sweet Shirley Bassey remix album, Diamonds Are Forever. I love this remix by the Propellerheads who also do a nutso 9 minute version of On her Majesty's Secret Service. Here there is a low-key, funky intro that leads up to the explosive first notes of the original Bond classic.

Mr. Bungle - Thunderball [originally by Tom Jones]

The new theme song You Know My Name, follows in the footsteps of these Bond songs that also do not share their name with the film:

Radiohead - Nobody Does it Better (live) [originally by Carly Simon; from The Spy Who Loved Me]
There are several covers of this song around, but Radiohead actually tries to live up to the title. It worked.

Pulp - All Time High [originally by Rita Coolidge; from Octopussy]
Considering the original, this is quite listenable.

Tindersticks - We Have All the Time in the World [originally by Louis Armstrong; from On Her Majesty's Secret Service]

Bonus Bond-like theme songs (or more accurately, Shirley Bassey Goldfinger-like theme songs):

Blessed be the Guy That Bonds [McBain end theme from the Simpsons]
Scorpio [from the Simpsons]
Brian Song [from Monty Python's Life of Brian]
Weird Al Yankovic - Theme from Spy Hard [from Spy Hard]

Friday, November 10, 2006

Batman vs. Taxman

To make up for a lack of posts lately, I've got an epic post for you focusing on the timeless battle of GOOD versus EVIL. Yes, ladies and gentleman in the first corner we have the Batman: superpower-less superhero, detective, billionaire, socialite, vigilante... morally ambiguous, but for all intents and purposes he's our Good Guy. And over there we have the Taxman. Boourns to the Taxman.

Round 1: The Originals
The Beatles - Taxman
Neil Hefti - 60's Batman Theme
Danny Elfman - 1989 Batman Theme
Danny Elfman - Batman The Animated Series

No clear winner here. Neil Hefti's classic Batman theme is instantly recognizable, knowingly campy, it's got the weird Batman chants... ultimately kinda annoying. Danny Elfman's theme to the 1989 Tim Burton movie is a modern classic in its own right, though honestly not a song that gets regular play on the ol' iTunes. The theme to the Batman Animated Series is what makes this battle such a close call because I absolutely love this track. A variation on the movie theme, it's shorter, punchier, and epic using the best bits of the film score all in barely a minute. Alas, the Taxman prevails. Written by Mr. Harrison, the Beatles' classic Taxman from the album Revolver riffs on the 60's Batman theme and makes a rock solid case for the pure evilness of the Taxman. They say money is the root of all evil and the Taxman is exactly that personified. In Dr. Seussian fashion, the Taxman will "tax the street," "tax your seat," "tax the heat," and "tax your feet". Bruce Wayne with his billions of dollars is a ripe target for the Taxman, which is probably why 90% of Bruce Wayne's time is spent at charity functions and being a philanthropist-- trying to maximize his charitible tax deductions. He won't admit it, but that's why Batman started the Wayne Foundation. He can go toe-to-toe with the likes of the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin, and Catwoman, but DAMN, even Batman can't beat the Taxman! Score 1 for the Taxman.

Round 2: Covers
Black Oak Arkansas - Taxman
Catfish Haven - Taxman
Junior Parker - Taxman
Nickel Creek - Taxman [if you only d/l one Taxman cover, make it this one!)
Pat Travers - Taxman
The Music Machine - Taxman
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - Taxman
Stevie Ray Vaughan - Taxman

Skavoovie & The Epitones - Batman
The Who - Batman
Yo La Tengo - Batman Theme

Taxman beats Batman in both quantity AND quality of covers with a distinguished crew of coverers including Stevie Ray Vaughan, George Harrison's Traveling Wilbury cohort Tom Petty, and Nickel Creek who dish out a sweet bluegrass Taxman. Batman's got The Who on his side, but like almost all covers of the 60s Batman theme it sounds basically the same as the original. Skavoovie & The Epitones' fantastic ska cover of the film theme is long overdue for credit after years of anonymously making the p2p rounds as "Ska Batman Cover" until I found it on eMusic. But Taxman still wins this round. Taxman: 2-0.

Round 3: Mash-ups
ccc - Tax Jam Pollution [Beatles vs. Beck]
team9 - Lovetax [Beatles vs. The Cure]
Go Home Productions - She Sells Tax, Man [Beatles vs. The Cult]
Lenlow - To the Taxmobile! [Batman vs. Taxman]

This round features the true Batman vs. Taxman battle with Lenlow's To the Taxmobile! Actually this mash-up is more along the lines of a World's Finest team-up than a fight... so we'll call this one a draw.

Round 4: Parodies
Wally Wingert & The Caped Club - Adam West [parody of Wild Wild West by The Escape Club]
Weird Al Yankovic - Pac-Man [parody of Taxman]

Too clever for its own good, the Batman-themed Adam West has one fatal flaw: stretching the word "Adam" in place of the "Wild, Wild" of the original. It sounds forced... that's my beef with that. Also loses points for parodying The Escape Club, which is like making fun of the autistic. There's a reason Weird Al is synonymous with parodies as is evident even with this early semi-rare parody. The lyrics, the accordion-tinged accompaniment, and classic Pac-Man sound effects all combined into a near-perfect parody. Chalk another one up for the Taxman: 3-0.

Round 5: Miscellaneous Non-covers
Weezer - Mr. Taxman (demo)
John Zorn - Batman
Adam West - Miranda

Adam West wins this round all on his own with his hilariously bad (so bad it's good?) 1966 single Miranda, which is all about Batman trying to get in bed with the titular Miranda. It's full of amusing Bat-innuendo with Batman threatening to reveal everything to Miranda and being repeatedly thwarted by none other than the Boy Wonder. Classic line: "Would you like to see me make my muscles dance, Miranda?" Haha, Batman wins hands down. 3-1, Taxman.

Round 6: Dance-off
Prince - Batdance
Prince - Batdance (Vicki Vale Mix)
Prince - Batdance (Batmix)

Prince. Batdance. No chance for the Taxman. Batman get extra points in this round for complete domination: 3-3.

So who wins? Batman says crime doesn't pay... Unless you're the Taxman, raking in the dough, and technically legal, right? They say the two sure things in life are death and taxes. And yet "they" also say to achieve immortality, one must become legend (uh, paraphrasing Richard Matheson, Saw 2, and Ra's Al Ghul)... so that means Batman will always be around to do battle against the Taxman! Death, taxes, and Batman: that's the new standard of life's certainties.

For more evidence to the legend of Batman check out this link and read how Batman fares against Riddler in a dance-off, kicks Joel Schumacher's ass, and may in fact be Jesus: Legends of Batman!

Awesome sign I found in my European travels this summer:

"Hey, Adam West's over that-a-way!"