Over the last few years, it's become de rigueur for young bands to slap the "psychedelic" label onto their sound, even though more often than not they're about as psychedelic as The Brady Bunch. But for those wanting to dig deeply into the real thing by exploring the psychedelic substrata of the '60s counterculture, especially the U.K. variety, this three-disc anthology is an amply annotated, sonically succulent set to covet. Love, Poetry and Revolution eschews overexposed first-tier psych practitioners to illuminate the fulsome scene smoldering beneath the mainstream. In a few cases, that means spotlighting names known to most serious '60s rock geeks (The Misunderstood, The Crazy World of Arthur Brown), and documenting the fleeting psych-pop phases of aboveground acts like The Spencer Davis Group. But most of these 55 tracks are occupied by acts whose esoteric status is so succinctly described in David Wells' liner notes that it would be folly to try topping him: "artists who weren't even household names in their own households."
These intrepid forays into the paisley-patterned underbelly of '60s Britrock touch upon everything from literal flower-power paeans like The Crocheted Donut Ring's harpsichord-kissed baroque-popper "Two Little Ladies (Azalea and Rhododendron)" and The Cortinas' lone single, the falsetto-filled orchestral-pop rarity "Phoebe's Flower Shop" to Peter Howell and John Ferdinando's kooky, creepy psych-folk reboot of Lewis Carroll's absurdist poem "Jabberwocky" and the haunting, organ-drenched trippiness of "Strange Ways" by Please, a group from whom only previously unreleased demos exist. The cumulative effect of it all can be a heady one -- few will emerge from The Liverpool Scene's deliciously demented, feedback-frenzied stoner's sci-fi tale "We'll All Be Spacemen Before We Die" unaffected. But tune for tune, there are also a striking number of opportunities to wonder, "Why was this one not a hit?" From freaky adventures in the stratosphere to perfect pop nuggets, Love, Poetry and Revolution offers a lovingly curated, appealingly rendered alternate history of England's original psychedelic era.
I could probably come up with a better pan for Mr. Popper’s Penguins than “flightless and foul ” but that would entail expending more creative energy on the film than its makers did. Directed by Mark Waters (Ghosts of Girlfriends Past The Spiderwick Chronicles) and based on a 1938 children’s book by Richard and Florence Atwater it is so empty and artificial and formulaic that if I didn’t know better I would have pegged it as a very cynical parody or perhaps a film within a film about some desperate mafioso’s questionable money-laundering scheme.
Jim Carrey looking tired and perhaps a little embarrassed plays the title role of an arrogant self-absorbed businessman who is taught a variety of valuable life lessons by a sextet of penguins. The penguins bequeathed to Mr. Popper in his neglectful father’s last will and testament each exhibit a single personality trait which immediately makes them more emotionally complex than the film in which they appear.
They’re assigned names accordingly: there’s Captain the leader Loudy the screamer Lovey the hugger Bitey the biter Stinkey the farter and Nimrod the stumbler. I only wish this functional naming scheme were extended to the rest of the characters in the film – i.e. Clark Gregg is Nemesis Carla Gugino is Motivation Angela Lansbury is Conscience and so on. If anything it would have allowed the filmmakers to excise a healthy chunk of dialogue which in the case of Mr. Popper’s Penguins only exists to punish the brain.
The film boasts three credited screenwriters among its crew. Though I’m not privy to each writer’s specific contributions I imagine their duties were divided in roughly this fashion: 1) scrub the story of all imagination or wit; 2) remove any deviations from pat Hollywood formula; and 3) cram it with as much toilet humor as the MPAA will allow in a PG film. You’d think that a single writer could have mangled a beloved
children's book just as convincingly but you’d be wrong: This kind of
debacle requires a team effort.