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Archive for September 10th, 2010

Friday Feature: “The Naked Gun”

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It was a show so ridiculous, it’d make you wonder how it made the airwaves. It boasted some of the most out-there moments and uproarious sight gags on television. It was consistently funny, no matter how many times you watched an episode. Naturally, it was canceled.

I’m of course talking about Police Squad!, the madcap spoof of police dramas that aired for six episodes on ABC in the spring and summer of 1982. Despite its creative pedigree – it was created by Jerry Zucker, Jim Abrahams and David Zucker, the trio that wrote the hysterical comedies The Kentucky Fried Movie (1977) and Airplane! (1980) – the show could never seem to find an audience. And that was a damn shame – as Detective Lieutenant Frank Drebin, veteran character actor Leslie Nielsen led viewers through what frequently resembled a living Mad magazine, full of quick-fire puns, wacky cameos, and blink-and-you-miss-’em sight gags. Instant classic stuff today, but in 1982 audiences and executives were confused. (ABC Entertainment president Tony Thomopoulos famously told Entertainment Tonight that it was canned “because the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it,” which is interesting, as that’s usually how television’s supposed to work.)

Undaunted, the Zucker/Abrahams/Zucker team created several other successful comedies (Top Secret! (1984), Ruthless People (1986)) and then boldly decided to revisit the world of Lt. Drebin and company. Released in 1988, The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad! was a smash hit, and spawned two sequels: 1991’s The Naked Gun 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear and The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult! (1994). All three films solidified Nielsen as a late-blooming comedy genius and the Zuckers and Abrahams as masters of the genre.

But a less-talked about result of the films is how prominent it made composer Ira Newborn.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 10, 2010 at 13:00

Posted in Features, News, Soundtracks

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Short Takes: Ray Charles Unearthed, Steve Miller Band Reissued

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A couple short announcements to kick off your Friday morning – one regarding a Ray Charles compilation we’ve been waiting to learn more about, the other regarding a reissue of a classic ’70s rock album.

First, our gratitude to Vintage Vinyl News for lifting the curtain on Ray Charles’ Rare Genius: The Undiscovered Masters, coming October 26 from Concord. This ten-track set includes entirely unreleased material from several phases of The Genius’ career, from the ’70s to the ’90s. The first single will be a duet with another dearly departed musician, the Man in Black himself, Johnny Cash. Bill Dahl has penned the liner notes to this set, which looks to shed some light on where each track came from.

Then we turn to Classic Rock magazine for this neat tidbit: Demon Music Group is releasing an expanded edition of The Steve Miller Band’s Fly Like an Eagle. Apparently, though, it looks like the content will be identical to the 30th anniversary edition released Stateside by Capitol in 2006 – three bonus demos and a DVD including a 5.1 surround mix and live material recorded at the Shoreline Amphitheatre in California the previous year. Still, if you’ve missed it, perhaps now’s as good a time as any to pick it up.

Check the track lists for both after the jump.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 10, 2010 at 11:27

Dio Catalogue Info Coming Up from the Midnight Sea

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It turns out the planned vintage live set coming from Dio was just the first of many planned catalogue titles to honor the late, great metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio. Rolling Stone reports a whole bunch of stuff is forthcoming from the newly-founded Niji Entertainment Group, a venture headed by Dio’s widow, Wendy, who had been in the process of co-founding the label when her husband passed on.

Beyond the already-mentioned Dio at Donington U.K.: Live 1983 and 1987, Niji will oversee a 180-gram vinyl reissue of the seminal Holy Diver (1983) on November 23. And next year will hopefully see not one but two box sets: a 16-disc vinyl/CD set collating all of Dio’s material (to be titled For the Record: The Complete Dio Collection) and a box of “authorized bootleg” live sets.

Read about all that (and more) here and hit the jump for the Dio at Donington U.K. track list.

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Written by Mike Duquette

September 10, 2010 at 09:17

Posted in Box Sets, Dio, News, Reissues