The Rattles: Setting the "The Witch" and woods on fire for Halloween!

Posted by Kells, October 25, 2013 03:15pm | Post a Comment

This coming Thursday I'll be spinning spooky tunes on the wheels of steel as a part of the Halloween festivities at Amoeba Music SF! Digging through my collection for seasonally appropriate, horrorific jams unearthed this far out number by German rockers The Rattles. Check out their video for "The Witch" below and join us on Halloween for batty beats, trick-or-treating, and our annual costume contest -- pets welcome!


Let the Music Dress You Up: Music-Inspired Halloween Costumes by Amoeba SF!

Posted by Kells, October 19, 2013 07:30pm | Post a Comment
Halloween is less than two weeks away! What are YOU going to wear?

Embracing the spirit of the season, here's a look back at some of my favorite music-related/ inspired Halloween costumes created by the boys and gouls at Amoeba Music San Francisco....

Here's our own Grace Cooper channeling her uncle Alice:

 Robert Smith will surely Cure any Halloween costume conundrum, as our Erin found:


One Halloween Kaitlin went AC/DC for Angus Young...

...only to party on as Garth a few years later!

Then there's the year Brock dressed up as our own in-house famous face, Mr. Joel Gion:

Of course the year Nick turned it out as Tina Turner will forever be a highlight:

And then there's the year our dollar-bin bandit fully realized Phil Collins' Face Value:

But you know what never gets old? Adopting a co-workers' habitual look as a Halloween costume!
Like the year five people dressed to impress in the style of Amoeba SF floor manager Tony Green!

(Okay, six people if you count the real Green himself)

Halloween at Amoeba Music San Francisco is never a dull affair! Join us, won't you?
Our spooky DJ set with
DJ Kells Bells begins at 3pm with our annual costume contest for both customers, pets and the rest of us kicking off at 4pm! If you're lucky, fuzzy pink will ring you up!

The Muscle Shoals Documentary: A Tale of Two Studios, One Sound

Posted by Kells, October 17, 2013 03:50pm | Post a Comment

From Dave Grohl's Sound City to 20 Feet From Stardom there have been some really great music-related documentary films released recently, perhaps none so overwhelmingly transcendental as the story of a reliable hit-maker and an iconic sound rooted in a sleepy corner of Alabama called Muscle Shoals

Between providing the most literal rendering of "I'll Take You There" and dabbling in discovering the metaphysical origins of what has come to be lauded as the "Muscle Shoals sound," Muscle Shoals blends reflective interviews of those who lived and tracked the music, bolstered by snippets and loops of the iconic sound itself, with layers of pastoral vistas and rustic rural vignettes of the surrounding countryside, playing like a gorgeous cinematographic back-mask. Combined with the fleeting highs and the tragic lows experienced by musician, songwriter and Fame Studios producer Rick Hall, his session players, The Swampers (who would later found a similarly nondescript recording studio across town in a former casket factory), among others still living in the glory of the Muscle Shoals nexus, the film also depicts the triumph of a phenomenon bigger than anyone can fully understand nowadays: the earthly crossroads of soul, country, funk and rock and roll at a time when "separate but equal" was the order of the day. 

Along with the release of the official companion soundtrack to the film, here are a list of other Muscle Shoals related goodies that'll surely satisfy those who, like me, just can't get enough of that sound:  

Various Artists - Hall Of Fame: Rare and Unissued Gems from the Fame Vaults, Vols. 1 & 2

These two collections are simply a must-have for both hard core scholars and casual enthusiasts of the Southern Soul sound. Featuring the a spectrum of captured tracks that have slipped through the cracks with the passage of time there are plenty of diamonds in the rough featured within both of these selections, the most intriguing of which are credited to an "unknown male" or unknown female." If you already have these sweet babies I'm going to assume you also have this:
Various Artists - The Fame Studios Story - 1961-1973

Three discs, 75 tracks, fab color booklet housed neatly in a sleek box -- every bit of this nugget focused on the famed Alabama recording studio with special attention paid to those artists associated with the Fame label. All funky inclusions aside (The Osmonds?!) this, like the two above releases, only serves as a testament to the power house that is the Ace/Kent crack reissue dream team. 

Various Artists - The Muscle Shoals Sound 

This 18-track Rhino comp is a great place to start. It offers a nice and neat cross section of the patent Muscle Shoals sound, kicking off with crucial early hits that solidified the region as hit-maker central, like Arthur Alexander's "You Better Move On," Jimmy Hughes' "Steal Away" and Percy Sledge's "When A Man Loves A Woman." It moves along chronologically, hit after hit, and includes what is referred to in the film as the very first Southern Rock song ("Hey Jude" performed by Wilson Pickett and Duane Allman) as well as Rick Hall's autobiographical song "Patches" as performed by Clarence Carter. Now out of print, used copies come in now and again. 

Lynyrd Skynyrd - Skynyrd's First: The Complete Muscle Shoals Album

Speaking of Southern Rock, the one and only Lynyrd Skynyrd cut a heck of a lot of tracks at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in 1971 and 1972 with the intention of releasing it as their debut, only to see it shelved indefinitely. Nineof these tracks would later be released as Skynyrd's first posthumous album, Skynyrd's First and...Last,  in 1978 (following the tragic plane crash that killed six of the thirteen souls on board, including three band members). The remaining unreleased recordings restored and expanded for this re-release in 1998 thus becoming an essential album in the Skynyrd oeuvre. 

Cher- 3614 Jackson Highway

Now, I have to say I was a little miffed at how this record was briefly mentioned yet totally dismissed by the Muscle Shoals doc as a flop. Sure, it isn't a great record, especially considering the consistently amazing body of song flowing out of the area at the time. But who cares that this is essentially a collection of Cher's freedom rock covers recorded in 1969? The funky wonders woven by The Swampers on this record make digging into this slice of refried gold worth the trouble (especially if you can get your paws on the 23-track 2001 reissue). Faves include a surprisingly great rendition of Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth" and a funky take Dr. John's "I Walk On Guilded Splinters." 

Cher - "I Walk On Guilded Splinters"

Etta James - Tell Mama: The Complete Muscle Shoals Sessions

For me, one of the most memorable moments in Muscle Shoals was the footage and recollections of pertaining to Etta James' recording sessions. This is because I find it interesting the way many of those who recount their impressions of working with her in the studio paint the lady as something of a wild thing, an untamed filly in need of wrangling. Perhaps I am doting too much on sentiments I imagine to be restrained or unexpressed during those interviews, but this aural account -- the remains of those studio collaborations -- is everything a testament to the lady's vivacity nonetheless.

Various Artists - A Road Leading Home: Songs by Dan Penn 

Spanning nearly fifty years of songwriting, this collection of classic soul songs penned by Dan Penn, including "You Left the Water Running" and "Do Right Woman - Do Right Man," features some lesser known recordings of songs from Dan's golden era. Doubtless the Muscle Shoals beacon would not shine as bright without the genius of Penn, not to mention the skills of his frequent collaborator, Swampers organist Spooner Oldham (a collection of their dual efforts can be found in Ace's Sweet Inspiration comp), as captured in the Muscle Shoals doc. This is the second Penn collection offered by Ace, the first being Dan Penn: The Fame Recordings

I could go on and on, but the journey is half the fun. Let the music take you there.

Summer is Icumen In... Again: The Wicker Man: Final Cut now in theaters!

Posted by Kells, October 1, 2013 07:05pm | Post a Comment

Not an Autumn goes by that I don't indulge in the ultimate cinematic sacrifice to the regenerative forces of Spring by viewing the most excellent British cult classic The Wicker Man (not to be confused with the poorly-honeyed and over-the-top misogynist romp of a remake starring Nicholas Cage). This year's viewing, however, will be an extra special treat in that the film is celebrating 40 years of horrific pagan pageantry with the theatrical release of The Wicker Man: The Final Cut wherein director Robin Hardy's original vision is finally restored.

For those who have never seen it, take warning. This film is unsettling in that it is a bit of a musical studded with weird sex scenes and even weirder segments debatably necessary nudity, often interrupted by non-violent horror elements and culturally-confused comedic spells all revolving around a central mystery thread: a child is reported missing from a remote Hebridean island and the stringent Sergeant Howie (Edward Woodward), come from the mainland, is determined to find out what happened. The result is a very revisitable cinematic delight, though it ultimately leaves disconcerting and, depending on your moral compass, a horrifically distressful aftertaste.

This new restoration comes courtesy of a world-wide search spurred by the director and StudioCanal who reached out to fans via Facebook to help them locate and recover the long-lost footage cut from the film. Why was it ever cut in the first, you ask? Well, it seems The Wicker Man originally screened as the "B" picture on a double bill with another thriller flick and there is one story circulating that said release was truncated to "fit" with the feature (whatever that means. It begs the question: was this a time issue? Because let's be real: double features are gonna be long no matter how much you chop).
There are other reports that the shorter, restructured narrative that deviated Hardy’s initial cut were ordered by EMI studio executives that suggested a more "upbeat" version of a particularly brutal, not to mention crucial, scene. Hardy refused and consequently had to remove twenty minutes of, well, heathen logic. Even Roger Corman judged in favor of cuts when he was sent a copy to screen (which proved very helpful when the hunt for "complete" versions of The Wicker Man began in the mid-70s because, of course, Corman still had his).

Anyway, one would think all this tinkering with lost, found, and lost (again) footage restored time after time into a patchwork of scenes, multiple chronologies, questionable erotic content and musical interludes would not a critically acclaimed cinema classic make. On the contrary, critics, casual viewers and midnight maniacs alike spread nothing but love for this masterpiece that is often and affectionately referred to as "the Citizen Kane of Horror movies" in spite of its many renderings (and I refer not only to its checkered past of re-cuts and re-releases but also to the crappy remake as well as the sequel it spawned).

Do the right thing, see the final final cut of The Wicker Man during its US theater tour (see the schedule below the trailer) or do the lazy thing and hold out for the DVD. Either way, King for a day, amirite?

The Wicker Man: The Final Cut
 - U.S. theatrical schedule: 

  September 27 – October 3    NEW YORK,  NY    IFC Center
::    October 4 – 5    SAN FRANCISCO,  CA    The Castro Theatre
::    October 11 – 17    SANTA FE,  NM    Jean Cocteau Cinema
::    October 18 – 19    NASHVILLE,  TN    The Belcourt
::    October 22    DULUTH,  MN    Zinema 2
::    October 25 – 31    CHICAGO,  IL    Music Box Theatre
::    October 25 – 31    DALLAS,  TX    Angelika Dallas
::    October 25 – 31    SAN DIEGO,  CA    Gaslamp 15
::    October 25 – 31    FAIRFAX,  VA    Angelika Mosaic
::    October 25 – 27    BELLINGHAM,  WA    Pickford Film Center
::    October 26    SEATTLE,  WA    Cinerama
::    October 28 – 31    PITTSBURGH,  PA    Pittsburgh Filmmakers at Regent Square
::    November 1 – 7    LOS ANGELES,  CA    Landmark Theatres - Nuart
::    November 1 – 7    PORTLAND,  OR    Hollywood Theatre
::    November 3    AUSTIN,  TX    Alamo Drafthouse - The Ritz
::    November 8 – 14    PHILADELPHIA,  PA    Landmark Theatres - Ritz at the Bourse
::    November 9    KANSAS CITY,  MO    Alamo Drafthouse - Mainstreet
::    November 15 – 16    HOUSTON,  TX    Landmark Theatres - River Oaks
::    November 15 – 16    DENVER,  CO    Landmark Theatres - Esquire
::    November 15 – 16    BROOKLINE,  MA    Coolidge Corner Theatre

Happy Oktoberfest!

Posted by Kells, September 28, 2013 05:33pm | Post a Comment
September is nearly over which means that Oktoberfest, the world's largest fair, is in full swing in Munich, Bavaria, Germany (and pretty much everywhere else cold beer is appreciated). Now, I've never really fully indulged in the Oktoberfest thing but this year I'm going for it like a Griswold on vacation. Well, not exactly like the Alpen (or something like it) fever dream pictured above, but more like this:

Glücklich Oktoberfest!  SaveSave
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