With the recent flurry of fascinating documentaries about underappreciated musicians that started with last year's Oscar-winning Searching For Sugar Man, you might be wondering where to start with these artists' discographies. Here's the lowdown on five artists whose stories have recently played out on the big screen.
Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me told the story of one of the finest bands of the 1970s, Anglophile power pop geniuses from Memphis whose career was hampered by record label incompetence and intra-band squabbles. The star-crossed Big Star Third, recorded by guitarist Alex Chilton and drummer Jody Stephens after the rest of the band had left, is justifiably considered the band's masterpiece. But that album's inebriated darkness makes a little more sense after hearing the first two, #1 Record (the only Big Star album to feature co-founder Chris Bell) and the near-perfect Radio City. Those two are available on a single CD on Fantasy Records. Or you can get the 2009 box set Keep An Eye on the Sky (Rhino Records), a four-disc behemoth heavy on the alternate mixes, outtakes and live tracks.
One of the focal points of the joyous Twenty Feet From Stardom, Darlene Love was the secret weapon of Phil Spector's Wall of Sound. Literally, in some cases: The Crystals' 1962 #1 hit "He's A Rebel" was sung not by The Crystals themselves, but by Love and her group The Blossoms. The Sound of Love: The Very Best of Darlene Love (Sony Legacy) gathers the finest of Love's work for Spector, including that incognito hit but not, annoyingly, her signature song "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)." If you're interested in The Blossoms' non-Spector work, the fantastic U.K. reissue label Ace Records hits the high points on So Much Love: A Darlene Love Anthology 1958-1968.
The other standout of Twenty Feet From Stardom, powerhouse soul goddess Merry Clayton is best known for her thundering vocals on the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter," which was also the title track of her 1969 solo debut album. Though that LP and its three follow-ups are all long out of print, the recently released The Best of Merry Clayton (Sony Legacy) documents these excellent pre-disco R&B discs. It also includes her other best known track, "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow," which was used as the theme for Robert Blake's '70s cop series Baretta. So both Clayton and Love were professionally connected to famous men who were later convicted for murder. Weird.
The fascinating (though, some have charged, not entirely factual) documentary Searching For Sugar Man unexpectedly revitalized the career of a man who had been one of rock's most obscure cult figures, Detroit-born singer-songwriter Sixto Rodriguez. An inner-city version of Bob Dylan or Phil Ochs with a soulful, haunted voice, Rodriguez released two albums in the early 1970s, Cold Fact and Coming From Reality. Several years before Searching For Sugar Man came out, the estimable reissue label Light In The Attic Records resurrected both albums in digital, CD and sumptuous vinyl editions. Both are excellent, but 1970's Cold Fact slightly gets the edge for the creepily gorgeous "Sugar Man," a paean to the neighborhood drug dealer that remains his best-known song.
The most obscure act of the lot, Death were a mid-'70s hard rock trio consisting of three teenage African-American brothers (like Rodriguez, from Detroit) whose self-released 1975 single "Politicians In My Eyes" was for years a holy grail of underground punk collectors. The brothers Hackney only recorded seven songs during the band's lifetime, all of which can be found on the 2009 compilation ...For The Whole World To See (Drag City Records). As seen in the intimate film A Band Called Death, bassist/singer Bobby Hackney's three sons have their own punk band Rough Francis, named after a short-lived pseudonym of their late uncle David Hackney, Death's guitarist. Rough Francis just self-released their debut album Maximum Soul Power.
More:5 Overlooked Songs of the Summer5 Coolest Band Cameos in MoviesDaniel Radcliffe Hits New Levels of Kooky
From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)15 Stars Share Secrets of their Sex Lives (Celebuzz)
British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen emerged triumphant at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards last night, taking home two prizes.
Cohen picked up Best Comedic Performance for his turn in Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan and Best Kiss for his smooch with Will Ferrell in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Elsewhere at the Gibson Amphitheatre ceremony in Universal City, California, Johnny Depp won the Best Performance award for his role as Captain Jack Sparrow in last year’s Pirates of the Caribbean film, Dead Man's Chest, which also won Best Movie.
Mike Myers was presented with the MTV Generation Award by his Shrek costar Cameron Diaz.
The winners at the 2007 MTV Movie Awards were:
Best Villain--Jack Nicholson, The Departed
Best Fight--Gerard Butler Vs. The Uber Immortal (Robert Maillet), 300
Best Kiss--Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby
Breakthrough Performance--Jaden Smith, The Pursuit of Happyness
Best Comedic Performance--Sacha Baron Cohen, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
MTV Generation Award--Mike Myers
Best Movie Spoof--United 300
Best Summer Movie You Haven't Seen Yet--Transformers
Best Performance--Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Best Movie--Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
COPYRIGHT 2007 WORLD ENTERTAINMENT NEWS NETWORK LTD. All Global Rights Reserved.
A guy who usually doesn't have luck with the ladies Matt Saunders (Luke Wilson) has finally found the perfect girl. Egged on by his buddy Vaughn (Rainn Wilson) Matt pursues the mousy and innocent-looking Jenny Johnson (Uma Thurman) after the two meet on a subway. But Jenny has a few secrets--and what Matt doesn't know in this case can hurt him. See Jenny is really G-Girl a superhero and although it's a side most superheroes don't show G-Girl is a bit possessive and essentially has a borderline personality. So when Matt wants to dump her so he can go out with his quiet and cute co-worker Hannah (Anna Faris) Jenny er G-Girl goes ballistic. She unleashes her superpowers on Matt and unsuspecting Hannah doing things like throwing a shark through his window while they're making out tossing his car around immature things like that. What Matt doesn't do is obey the cardinal rule: Never break up with a girl when she's holding a knife--or when she can throw you through a wall by blowing on you. This should be Luke Wilson's moment to shine and he seizes it. He's had little chance to break away from his goofier-looking and more popular brother Owen and has never carried a movie as much as this one. It's perhaps his meatiest role in which he gets to show a restrained comedic side as well as a dramatic angry and perplexed side. Although it's a typical romantic comedy plot the storyline allows for more reach because of the absurd nature of the jealousy by G-Girl’s arch nemesis Professor Bedlam played perfectly by Brit comic Eddie Izzard as well as the persistently bad advice from Matt’s friend Vaughn played by scene-stealer Rainn Wilson (TV's The Office). Rainn is a definitely a talent to watch out for. Unfortunately Thurman is the biggest disappointment. She's exciting only when she rekindles her Kill Bill persona but is mostly outshined by the cute and fun Anna Faris who's so naively brilliant in the Scary Movie spoofs. Expectations would have to be high if you have director Ivan Reitman on board the guy behind such classic comedies as Animal House Ghostbusters and Dave. Perhaps that's why it's so disappointing--and so very familiar. The comic moments are retreads from the past. Sure we've seen the odd moments where mortals make it with super-human characters--Superman II Bewitched I Dream of Jeannie--and every once in a while the character with super powers gets a bit peeved and goes off the deep end. The best contribution Reitman makes is to keep the over-the-top comedic aspects in check. He doesn’t have the actors play it for laughs. But if you look at past history female superhero movies don't seem to do well at the box office (Elektra and Catwoman anyone?) maybe because guys don't like to take dates to see movies about women who will kick their butts. And guys will be cringing in their seats BIG time when Jenny is trying to analyze the real meaning of the color of a rose that she just got. "Red means that you're in love with the girl. Of course I'm not trying to pressure you." Ugh! Just take the flower.
Once respected NYPD detective Jack Mosley (Bruce Willis) is now pretty much on his last legs literally and figuratively. He drinks is relegated to a desk job and walks with a limp. One morning after a long shift he’s corralled into transporting a petty criminal Eddie Bunker (Mos Def) to the courthouse 16 blocks away so he can testify by 10:00 a.m. What Jack doesn’t know is that Eddie is one of the key witnesses in a case against crooked cops--that is until the two start getting shot at. Then it becomes crystal clear. The main bad guy Jack’s former partner Frank (David Morse) basically lets Jack know Eddie will never testify to just go ahead and hand him over but Frank underestimates Jack’s desire to finally do something good. So Jack and Eddie fight their way to the courthouse block by gut-wrenching block. Oh no there’s nothing formulaic about 16 Blocks not at all. In a film as predictable as this the only thing that’ll make it stand out is the performances. 16 Blocks nearly succeeds--but not quite. It would seem Willis is playing a character he’s played a hundred times before--the misunderstood and slightly unorthodox cop with a heart of gold. But as Jack the actor does a nice job trying out some new things namely playing fat bald and grizzled. You can almost smell how bad Jack’s breath has to be. Rapper/actor Mos Def who usually brightens any film he’s in also tries his hand at something different but his choices aren’t as smart. As the talkative and affable Eddie Mos comes up with one of the more annoying nasally accents ever recorded. After about five minutes of screen time you desperately want him to stop and say “Just kidding! I don’t really talk like this.” But he doesn’t. It’s too bad something like an accent can ruin an otherwise decent performance. Old-school director Richard Donner best known for his Lethal Weapons is a consummate professional when it comes to making these kind of movies. In other words he pretty much paints by numbers. We watch Jack and Eddie get out of one tight situation after another as the gaggle of bad cops try to gun them down. I mean 16 blocks doesn’t seem that far to go so they better throw in as many highly implausible obstacles as they can. Chinese laundries alleyways rooftops subways. And yes even a city bus which the pair--who have by now bonded big time--has to hijack. Donner also employs a popular but nonetheless annoying technique of zooming in when the action heats up so you can’t really see what’s going on. Even if you’re addicted to action movies--a Bruce Willis action movie no less--16 Blocks just doesn’t deliver the goods.