Book Review: Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk”
Author: John Doe w/ Tom DeSavia and Friends
Da Capo Press
Hardcover: 227 pages

Our score: 4 out of 5 stars

“Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” was written by X vocalist/bassist John Doe along with help from Tom DeSavia and laundry list of who’s who from the late 70’s and early 80’s L.A. punk scene. For the first time in one place the true story of a scene often overlooked is told in all of its gritty and grimy detail by none other those who experienced it and by those who helped create it. This is not your typical memoir however as this book tells not only of how the scene began and developed but also how it went on to change music forever.

Before I get into my review of the book I want to point out that if you are unfamiliar with the scene this book documents or the bands that appear grab a copy of Penelope Spheeris film “The Decline of Western Civilization” as a majority of the people’s names and a lot of the places featured in the film coincide with those who are also in the book. After a very brief forward by Green Day front man Billie Joe Armstrong we are quickly whisked back to the not so glamorous side of Los Angeles. Just a few brief years before hair metal would dominate the sun set strip bands like X, Black Flag and the Minute Men were the bands to go see. John Doe does a great job recounting his stories from this era with vivid detail and truthfulness that make you want to keep turning the page. As an added element to Doe’s story there is often even more colorful commentary provided by other musicians or friends who were there to experience everything as well. Not only does this add different angles to a previously told story but it fills in gaps with intricate firsthand accounts. For me this only pulled me further into the already captivating story. To go along with the stories there are several black and white photo sections which are chocked full of rare photos that by themselves are worth the price of the book.

From cover to cover Doe and DeSavia and crew nail it. Aside from actually being around during this specific time I don’t think you could get any closer nor could it be anymore real. There were a few times when I wished Doe had kept going from his perspective as sometimes when the story teller switched you were in a sense re-reading some of what was just told however, that aside “Under the Big Black Sun: A Personal History of L.A. Punk” is a great book for not only punk rock fans and music but for those wanting to learn about a period of time in Los Angeles that isn’t sugar coated with all the normal glitz and glamour LaLa Land is often associated.

Book Review “DC Comics: A Visual History”

Author: by Daniel Wallace
Hardcover: 376 pages
Publisher: DK ADULT
Release Date: September 29, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

DC Comics is becoming much more relevant recently following the success of Marvels. Especially with the bunch of new films announced by DC including “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice”, fans are going to be looking for history of these characters in preparation for the films. This updated and expanded edition of “DC Comics: A Visual History” is a must have for any comic fan. It includes 16 new pages to cover 2010-2014 and an amazing new slipcase design along with two NEW prints packed inside. This has everything any fan would want to find out. It is detailed as hell and jam-packed with amazing information.

Official Premise: Trace DC’s fascinating story: the company’s beginnings as National Allied Publications in the 1934, and its subsequent change to Detective Comics, Inc. in 1937. The book details all the major DC publishing landmarks and more, displayed clearly, month by month. Highlighting the debuts of iconic super heroes like Superman and Batman, the geniuses that invented them, and the real-life events, like the Vietnam War, the atom bomb, and the Space Race, that shaped the atmosphere of the times, DC Comics: A Visual History follows the characters’ foray into the real world through TV series and blockbuster movies.

There is a solid foreword from former president of DC Comics (2002-2009), Paul Levitz. I have to admit, even though I have been a huge Batman and Superman fan since I was a kid, I have never been too big on the rest of the universe that was surrounding them. After reading this book, I understand that it is quite massive and really exciting to see what is set to come in the future. DK did an amazing job on this release, it is a literally a marvel (no pun intended) to look at and is so detailed, colorful and there is not an inch wasted throughout as it is filled with amazing images and facts.

Book Review “Batman: A Visual History”

Author: Matt Forbeck
Hardcover: 352 pages
Publisher: DK ADULT
Release Date: September 29, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

Wow! When they say that this is the “definitive guide to the world of the Dark Knight”, they are not exaggerating. “Batman: A Visual History” is easily one of the best books that I have received in recent years along with the DK released “DC Comics: A Visual History”. This book follows Batman from his first appearance in 1939 right through today, which is it’s 75th anniversary. The book also includes two original prints! If you are a Batman fan, this is the ultimate book for any fan, young or old.

Official Premise: “Batman: A Visual History” follows the DC Comics hero from his 1939 origin as a vigilante created by Bob Kane to his present status as a worldwide cultural icon. The book features Batman’s greatest stories and charts the careers of the Super Heroes and super-villains associated with the Dark Knight, including Robin, the Justice League, the Joker, and Catwoman.

I literally just stared at this book when I received it. It is absolutely stunning. It is also large as hell. It comes in this beautiful slipcase with specially commissioned artwork by a top DC Comics artist. I have been a Batman film since I was about 6 years old when Tim Burton’s “Batman” hit theaters. This book is just perfect. I do not think words can honestly do it justice. When you open the book is jam-packed with so much information and there is not a inch of space wasted on any page. Cannot recommend anymore!

Book Review “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History”

Author: Andrew Farago
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: June 24, 2014

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” are my jam. They just are amazing. I grew up with them from the very first episode on TV when I was a kid. I had all the action figures, t-shirts, Halloween costumes etc. What I love the most about them is that they have been around for 25 years now and are just as cool as they were when I was a kid. With the new live-action $100 million dollar movie coming out this August only proves that point. “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History” is the latest companion book put out by Insight Editions. This book is literally a must own for any TMNT fan, no question. It has the same feel as other Insight releases like “The Dark Knight Manual” and literally a piece of art itself.

“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Visual History” takes us through the entire history of these heroes in a half shell. We are in their first appearance with their black-and-white comics to the new hit animation show from Nickelodeon and even the latest Michael Bay–produced live-action movie. There are tons of great interviews with every key figure in the Turtles’ evolution including co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, animation legend Fred Wolf, creature effects maestro Brian Henson, and even Vanilla Ice, who made my made the song “Ninja Rap” from the film “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II The Secret of the Ooze”. So there are plenty of great content to accompany this visual history.

I was found myself just starring at each page for minutes just soaking up all the details and beautiful content included in this book. This is one of those books that you need to go through a few times just to get every time out of it. Also like I mentioned, like “The Dark Knight Manual”, this book has numerous pull outs and bonus extras included through the book. I love that Insight comes out with these great books for their fans, it is a really a treat opening this book it is not only visual amazing with the high quality images but also with the additional content. If all that isn’t enough in the back of the book, there is a reprint of the original #1 comic included, which is worth the price of the book alone and then there is also a fold out decent poster size of our green friends. If you love TMNT, I just cannot stress enough that you need to have this in your collection!

Book Review “27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse”

“27: A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse”
Author: Howard Sounes
Hardcover: 360 pages
Publisher: Da Capo Press

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Named one of Publisher Weekly’s Top 10 Music Titles for Fall 2013 “27 A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse” written by Howard Sounes is a book that takes a look at music’s “27 Club” and the artists who comprise it. Told over the course of 360 pages Sounes looks not only at the artists lives but also at their deaths and from there attempts to compare the artists in an effort to find similarities in these 6 subjects.

When I received my copy of “27” I thought to myself why hadn’t someone thought of writing about this sooner? This so called “27 Club” isn’t just made up of meteoric artist who only experienced a flash of success. Instead the members of this club include influential musicians who during their careers impacted millions of listeners and helped shape their respective genre’s for years to come. The thing I enjoyed most about how Howard Sounes approached this rather speculative topic is fairly interesting. The book is broken in to two parts with the beginning chapters being devoted to the life of each musician and the chapters toward the end of the book relating the deaths of these individuals. It was kind of nice as having followed the careers of both Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse I was able to sort of jump around a little bit as a portion of the material here has been widely documented and I think I am still recovering from the media coverage of both these events even though they were some time ago now.

Those looking for definitive answers on what ultimately ties these musicians together in death might not be too surprised with the information contained in this book nor will the reader find a lot of new or undocumented information on the subjects as I don’t feel that was the authors intention with this book. Instead for the first time the information about these six people is available all in one place combined with one person’s perspective on the events which are surprisingly similar. Combine that with 16 pages eerily fitting black and white photography and “27 A History of the 27 Club through the Lives of Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and Amy Winehouse” makes for an ok read.

Blu-ray Review “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th”

Actors: Corey Feldman, Sean S. Cunningham, Adrienne King, Amy Steel, Dana Kimmel
Directors: Daniel Farrands
Producers: Thommy Hutson
Number of discs: 4
Rated: Unrated
Studio: 1428 Films
Release Date: September 13, 2013
Run Time: 400 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

“Friday the 13” is one of my favorite horror franchises. Jason Voorhees is also one of my favorite horror icon. The films are so fun and have held up so well over the last 30+ years. The franchise has not only consisted of twelve films but also a TV series, books and tons of collectible merchandise. When you factor in all those aspect, “Friday the 13th” becomes much more than a horror series. It actually is more of a pop-culture phenomenon, which has been over three decades. This is not the first documentary on the films and won’t be the last but it is definitely one of the best, especially alongside others like “His Name is Jason”. When you read the title of this film, it is not taking lightly it’s title…it is “The Complete History of Friday the 13th”. Did I mention that this is 400 minutes long…take a sec and do the math…yes, that nearly seven hours long. This is not a joke. It is a hardcore documentary for a hardcore “Friday the 13th” fan.

Official Premise: Inspired by the critically-acclaimed book, “Crystal Lake Memories: The Complete History of Friday the 13th” takes viewers behind the mask on an epic journey into the making of the landmark horror franchise — from its humble beginnings in 1980 at a New Jersey summer camp to the blockbuster release of its 2009 “reboot.” Combining hundreds of rare and never-before-seen photographs, film clips, outtakes, archival documents, conceptual art and behind-the-scenes footage, and featuring interviews with more than 150 cast and crew members spanning all twelve films and the television series, “Crystal Lake Memories” is the ultimate tribute to one of horror’s most iconic and enduring franchises.

So being a huge fan of this franchise, I was really taken back by the fact that this documentary reached out to so many people who have been involved with the series over the year. This also included a bunch of people who have never appeared in camera interviews, which is a mega plus. A few of the great talent who participated with this doc includes Kane Hodder, Robert Englund, Tom Savini, Sean S. Cunningham, Derek Mears, Betsy Palmer, Wes Craven, Ken Kirzinger, Robert Shaye and Alice Cooper, along with many more. “Crystal Lake Memories” is written and directed by Daniel Farrands and produced by Thommy Hutson. This is the same team who also delivered us the amazing “A Nightmare on Elm Street” documentary, “Never Sleep Again: The Elm Street Legacy”. These guys deserve an award for all the word that they put into this doc.

1428 Films released this film as a combo pack with the documentary spread out over two Blu-rays and two DVDs. The 1080p transfer with it’s 1.78:1 aspect ratio works well with the interviews and footage from the films. I was a little bit let down to see that the audio track included was only a Dolby Digital 5.1 track, which is not really screaming Blu-ray quality but it worked for the most part. In terms of special features, there are not any additional extras besides a commentary track. But wait a sec…the commentary track is insane a must watch for any true “Friday the 13th” fan. It includes director Daniel Farrands, author Peter M. Bracke, and editor Luke Rafalowski throughout all seven hours. I remember seeing a photo on Facebook of the trio after recording this track and it just shows how much love went into it. Must listen for any fan and a great companion to the documentary.

Book Review “Rush: The Illustrated History”

Author: Martin Popoff
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Release Date: May 30, 2013

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I am not sure what it is about Rush but they are just flat out amazing.  They are easily one of my top favorite band ever. They has been kicking ass and taking names in music for the last 45 years…and yet they are better than they ever have been! Plus 2013 is the year of Rush since they not only released on of their best albums “Clockwork Angels” but they also got inducted into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame (finally). This “Illustrated History” book is timed just right and is a must for any Rush fan out there.  So get ready to crank those old vinyls up to 11 and air bass (or drum, whichever is your preference) and enjoy this amazing book.

Official Premise: Now, for the first time, Rush is treated to the epic visual celebration they so richly deserve in a beautifully designed and profusely illustrated history following the band’s entire career. A chronological overview history written by noted music scribe and Rush authority Martin Popoff spans the band’s entire career from 1968 to today. A complete Rush discography chronicles all their albums, from the debut album to 2112, Moving Pictures, and Signals to Grace Under Pressure, Vapor Trails, and more. The authoritative text is complemented by album reviews written by well-known music journalists from around the globe, commentary from fellow musicians, a discography, and hundreds of photographs and pieces of memorabilia, including picture sleeves, gig posters, rare vinyl, handbills, ticket stubs, and much more.

This book is authored by the perfect man for the job, Martin Popoff.  He has been called “the world’s most famous heavy metal journalist” and if anyone can put out a kick-ass music book it would be him.  Plus he also worked with the band on the film “Rush: Beyond the Lighted Stage”. The book itself contains over 420 color & black and white photos spread out all over the nearly 200 page book. When it is called “history” that should not be taken lightly. We go back to the early days of the band to the current “Clockwork Angels” tour.  We are talking a full discography cover from end to end! There is everything here from concert tickets, posters, vintage programs to candid backstage shots.  So if you are a veteran fan or a brand new Rush fan this book has something for everyone and will not disappoint!

History Channel’s “The Bible” Exclusive Walmart Discount Card Giveaway [ENDED]

THIS GIVEAWAY HAS ENDED AND WINNERS HAVE BEEN NOTIFIED VIA EMAIL. PLEASE CHECK BACK EACH WEEK FOR NEW GIVEAWAYS!

To celebrate the History Channel’s premiere of “The Bible” mini-series on 3-3-13, Media Mikes would like to giveaway a $15 Walmart discount card to use towards the purchase of “The Bible” on DVD or Blu-ray April 2, 2013! If you would like to enter for your chance to win this great prize, please leave us a comment below or send us an email with your results from the Bible-Scene Quiz taken below. This giveaway will remain open until March 15th at Noon, Eastern Time. This is open to residents of the United States only. One entry per person, per household. All other entries will be considered invalid. Media Mikes will randomly select winners. Winners will be alerted via email.

From Executive Producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett comes The Bible — an epic 10-part miniseries retelling stories from the Scriptures for a whole new generation. Breathtaking in scope and scale, The Bible features powerful performances, exotic locales and dazzling visual effects that breathe spectacular life into the dramatic tales of faith and courage from Genesis through Revelation. This historic television event is sure to entertain and inspire the whole family! Where will YOU be 3.3.13?

3D Blu-ray Review “History in 3D”

The History Channel
Number of discs: 3
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
Release Date: November 13, 2012
Run Time: 179 minutes

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

When I first heard that this release was coming out I was very excited to get some new 3D specials from The History Channel.  When I found out that this was just a collection of previously released Blu-ray’s, I was a little disappointed.  The Blu-ray’s included are “History of the World in Two Hours”, “Titanic 100 Years in 3D” and “WWII in 3D”. These specials are still very impressive and makes this set a must own (of course, if you don’t already own them individually).  “History in 3D” also comes with a nice lenticular cover. The History Channel is also releasing “The Universe in 3D” Blu-ray set as well on the same day. So hopefully, they will continue this trend in the future.

“History of the World in Two Hours”: From the formation of the earth and the emergence of life, to the advance of man and the growth of civilization, the CGI-driven History of the World in Two Hours in 3D offers viewers a rapid-fire view of 14 billion years of history.

Titanic 100 Years in 3D”:  In 2010, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute and RMS Titanic, Inc. undertook an unprecedented expedition to document the entire wreck site and capture it all with high-resolution optical video, sonar, acoustic imaging, and 3D-HD video. Titanic: 100 Years in 3D pairs this stunning imagery with powerful untold stories of passengers and crew.

“WWII in 3D”: Creates a fully immersive portrait of history’s largest and bloodiest conflict. From the rise of the Nazis and their sweep across Europe to the Allied counterattack and the fall of Nazi Germany, dramatic moments were captured in 3D and then shuttered away in secret archives. Compiled here for the first time, are 3D color photos from Allied reconnaissance, images documenting the rise and fall of the Third Reich, photos secretly taken by a civilian in occupied France and more.

I think my favorite of the three is still  “WWII in 3D”.  I feel that it has the most bang for its buck.  It also included original 3D content from the days of the Third Reich.  “History of the World in Two Hours” still feels like it doesn’t cover enough in its 90 minutes (not two hours technically). The 3D on all these three specials are very impressive though, especially with their 1080p transfers.   These specials have never aired on TV, at least not in 3D.  So if you are a fan of The History Channel, I highly recommend these. Lastly, like the previous individual releases there are no additional special features included.

WWII in 3D”

Book Review “Batmobile: The Complete History”

Author: Mark Cotta Vaz
Hardcover: 148 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: July 10, 2012

Our Score: 4 out of 5 stars

If you are male, it is not hard to agree that the Batmobile is one of the coolest car EVER!  I remember growing up playing with miniature version of Batman’s iconic vehicle.  It was the coolest car this is until…The Tumbler came along in 2005’s “Batman Begins”.  Nolan’s trilogy completed recreated the Batmobile into one bad-ass car.  Though the coolness doesn’t stop there, since the car transforms into the Bat-Pod as well, which is just the icing on the cake.  If you are fan of the entire Batman series dating back to the comics, this book is the ultimate collectible and a one hell of a great coffee-table book.

Spanning from the beginnings within the pages of Detective Comics, to the pages of DC Comics, all seven appearances on the big-screen in feature films, this book explores each incarnation of the Batmobile.  It is not just a picture book either, this gives an incredible amount of detail and scope into each of Batman’s sweet rides.  Besides just comics and films, this also going into the role of the Batmobile through television, toys, and video games.  Christopher Nolan still in my eyes really created the best Batmobile yet and only amps it up in his final chapter of his trilogy “The Dark Knight Rises”

“Batmobile: The Complete History” goes well beyond the anticipation of the typical companion book.  It includes beautiful folds-outs and detailed specs, blueprints, and historical comparisons.  The book is a visual masterpiece and will leave Batman fans drooling and gearing up to re-visit all these wonderful creations through film, TV and comics.  To top off an already great book, there is a fantastic foreword from Paul Levitz (DC Comics) and Nathan Crowley (Production Designer behind the “The Dark Knight” trilogy).  Insight Editions delivers such an amazing release, as always, and again like its recent “The Dark Knight Manual“.

Future of History Making Pyramid Sound Studios Remains Uncertain

Future of History Making PYRAMID SOUND STUDIOS Remains Uncertain – Bridge Construction Could Put an End to Ithaca New York’s,  Studio’s 35+ Year Legacy 

Touted for Recording ANTHRAX, TESTAMENT, OVERKILL and bevy of local artists.

The fate of PYRAMID SOUND STUDIOS, a recording studio world-renowned for spawning the onslaught of American heavy metal in the 1980’s and beyond, has quickly captured the attention of long-time Ithaca, NY residents, recording artists, and friends of business owner Alex Perialas.

At Wednesday’s Planning and Economic Development Committee meeting, several local musicians and educators urged city officials to take demolition of the studio off the table.

PYRAMID SOUND STUDIOS, launched by Perialas in 1974, has recorded artists from Bad Religion, Anthrax, Testament, Overkill, Agnostic Front and Brian Wilson to local favorites The Horse Flies and Donna the Buffalo, as well as student projects.PYRAMID SOUND STUDIOS is a pinnacle in the local area, being that local musicians do not always have the ability to travel to New York City, Los Angeles, etc. to record their albums. Located directly next to the Clinton St. Bridge, which is undergoing heavy construction until November, the building is at risk of being condemned as a result of the project, stirring alarm among the local and online community.

“This is one of those things that is a state and city project where they’re replacing a 70-year-old bridge and its right in our footprint, if you will. With the building of this new bridge, there’s a chance that if they aren’t careful, they could do damage to the studio,” states owner Alex Perialas. “I’m currently working with the administration to land on an amicable solution to the situation. This has been a landmark facility for years. We pretty much created a style of music here that people had never heard of before. It would be a shame to lose such an integral part of music history due to this temporary construction.”

Jeff Klaus, professor of education at Ithaca College and member of The Horse Flies, addressed the committee Wednesday, “What is housed inside that scruffy building is a building within a building that’s purpose-built to be a studio.”

Klaus and his colleagues noted that 109 E. Clinton St. is a commercial garage space, which is located closest to the bridge project, while the recording studio is located at 105 E. Clinton St. The supporters stressed that the garage and the studio are two separate buildings, though it may not appear so on the outside.

In many ways, both the mayor’s and the common council’s hands are tied, given that the construction on the Clinton St. bridge is federally funded. Earlier this week, supporters of PYRAMID SOUND STUDIOS launched an online petition to help save the historical building. Thus far, over 550 people have signed. You can sign the petition at this location.

For more information on PYRAMID SOUND STUDIOS, visit this website:  www.pyramidsoundstudios.com

3D Blu-ray Review “History of the World in Two Hours”

Original Aired on: The History Channel
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Distributed by: A&E Home Video
Release Date: May 15, 2012
Runing Time: 88 minutes

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

I don’t know what it is about programs on The History Channel but I am total sucker. Especially about the cool topic like the creation of our world! And especially in 3D! This is not the first time The History Channel has released their specials in 3D, there was “WWII in 3D”, which was released earlier this year. Overall, I was entertained and also learned a little bit as well.

This special focused on everything about our world from the formation of the earth to the creation of life to the growth of civilization. The CGI is very impressive and works really well with the 3D. The visual effects really popped out and really sold the special for me.  I just wish that this wasn’t limited to two hours and lasted longer as a series. Though for what it is it definitely flies through 14 billion years of history quite well and still manages to keep your interest spiked.

There are no special features included on this release, so that is a little disappointing overall but they have the two hours so packed with information and entertainment, I barely realized. The only thing about this film that made me laugh is that it is called “History of the World in Two Hours” but only runs 88 minutes. But of course, it had to be adjusted for commercials on TV.  If anyone related to The History Channel reads this, please produce more specials in 3D, I have really enjoyed them thus far. It is a great way to take learning to the third dimension. In fact, I would actually love to see a full series in 3D like “The Universe”.

Book Review “The Winston Effect: The Art & History of Stan Winston Studio”

Author: Jody Duncan
Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Titan Books
Release Date: November 1, 2006

Our Score: 5 out 5 stars

Stan Winston has created some of the most amazing monsters/creatures in films for over the last 30 years. Some of Stan’s work that he is known best for is ranges from The Terminator to Aliens and Predator to the amazing dinosaurs of Jurassic Park. It is just amazing to see some of the detailed process of his work and his team on these films. The copy up for review here is limited edition featuring a variant cover and signed by Stan Winston! So if you are able to pick one of these gems before they are all gone.

In a collaborated with Stan Winston Studio this book is the first-ever to reveal all the behind-the-scenes secrets Stan Winston’s influential artistry and effects work. It features some really detailed sketches, production art, and photographs. The book is split into the years of Winston’s work. “From Emmy to Oscar Nominations” covers 1972-1981 featuring the early work of Stan Winston like “The Wiz” and “Star Wars Holiday Special”. “Something Robotic This Way Comes” ranges from 1982-1984 and features some of his classic work like “The Thing” and “The Terminator”. “Aliens, Predators and Terminators” covers 1985-1991 and what it covers is obvious. This chapter is really the meat of his career and covers the most iconic creatures in his career. The next is called “And Stan Created Dinosaurs” from 1992-1999, “Jurassic Park” is such an important film in history mixing CG with practical effect. Lastly “It’s Not Just a Walk in the Park” covers from 2000-present, featuring “A.I.: Artificial Intelligence” to “Jurassic Park III”. It also takes us inside the studio, including a great foldout creature diorama. Lastly we have “Looking into the Future”, which talks about the future of Winston Studio (obviously prior to Stan passing away in 2008).

The photos is this book are extremely high quality. I found myself just starring at certain photos and admiring the scope of his work and the effects that it has had on film and myself as a film fan. This is probably one the best art of book that I have ever read. It is just such a great insight into the life and history that Stan Winston has left and of course it is great to showcase of the amazing creatures that he has left us with over the year. This book is honestly should be owned by every fan of movies…in general.

Book Review “A Perfect Haze: The Illustrated History of the Monterey International Pop Festival”

Author(s): Harvey Kubernik, Kenneth Kubernik
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Santa Monica Press
Release Date: November 1, 2011

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Before Woodstock, the summer of 1967 brought us the Monterey International Pop Festival. It was the first festival where thousands of hippies went to experience the summer of love. The book provides a really great insight into the event where you feel like you were there. There are such detailed documents including copies of telegrams, contracts, newspaper clippings, line-up posters, and other rare memorabilia from the festival. If you are fan of such music icons, such as Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Jefferson Airplane, and Otis Redding…than this is definitely a book for you, no question.

Besides all the amazing rare photos provided a great behind the scenes look at the festival, there are also many new interviews with musicians like Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and some members of the Jefferson Airplane and more! The book is split into seven chapters. What I enjoyed most is that it is a chronicle of each act that performed at the event. It is not just the authors telling us about the events. The first takes us through the preparation and leading up the event. The second chapter takes us through the events of the first night on Friday, which features music from Simon and Garfunkel and Lou Rawls. Chapter three focuses on Saturday afternoon with Canned Heat and The Steve Miller Band as a few of the acts giving their comments on the festival. Chapter 4 focuses on Saturday night with The Byrds and Jefferson Airplane for example. Chapter 5 takes us through the events of Sunday afternoon with detailed accounts from Ravi Shankar. Sunday night, the last night, is covered with biggest names like Buffalo Springfield, The Who, Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix. The last chapter takes us through “Monterey Pop: The Movie” and follows D.A. Pennebaker’s account of the festival and working on the film.

The photos in the book really captures the essence of this truly amazing event. I feel that the personal account of each night really draw you into the book and if you close you eyes you can see the bands and here there music. I think that is probably the goal for a book like this one. Whether you were there at the Monterey International Pop Festival that June 16-18, 1967 or whether you weren’t even born, this book is a great tribute to the event. It is a must purchase for fans of this era of music.

Book Review “Clapton: The Ultimate Illustrated History”

Author: Chris Welch
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Voyageur Press
Release Date: September 10, 2011

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

I am not sure how to start this review with except the fact that the title simply tells it all…this is the “The Ultimate Illustrated History” of Eric Clapton.  It is the perfect book for one of the greatest guitarists ever. The book covers Clapton’s five-decade-long career includes time from the Yardbirds, to Cream to the Plastic Ono Band to his solo career.  This book honestly has everything and it looks “pretty” also.  The layout of the book flows really well with mixing its amazing photos with amazing stories and information about the man himself.

The layout of the book starts with a great note from the author talking about his time that he has spent over the year with Clapton. The first chapter focuses on his childhood and his influence of the blues covering years 1945-1963.  There is coverage of Eric’s time with The Yarbirds from 1963 to 1965.   Of course there is a lot of coverage from the days of Cream from 1966-1969, as this was the real turning point in Clapton’s career.  The years 1969-1974 features quite a bit between his work the Plastic Ono Band through Derek and the Dominoes.  During 1974-1982, the book focuses on Clapton’s amazing solo career, covering everything from his hit record “Layla” to concert appearances at Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY.  There is still more as this book also covers 1983-present, with the Cream reunion to his work with the Crossroads Foundation.  Lastly there is a graphic discography included which only expands upon how amazing his body of work truly is.

Speaking of photos, this book is packed with over 400 rare shots, as well as images of his guitars, concert posters, and other memorabilia included.  Honestly I think you can spend hours just looking at the pictures and not even reading anything.   The author/rock journalist Chris Welch is no stranger to Clapton, since he previously authored “Cream: Eric Clapton”.  He really shows his extreme knowledge of Clapton and he does an amazing job of showing it in this book. He has also authored books about other great musicians such as Zepplin and David Bowie. Whether you think you know everything about Clapton’s amazing career or you have never heard of him, this book definitely will provide great knowledge into his life and work.  It is a must purchase for sure!