Reblogging this because I don’t think anyone saw it the first time. There is something of a non-update: I bring up a planned DVD release by Mondo Macabro that never materialized and subsequent French release by Uncut Movies. I messaged Mondo Macabro about this prior to publication and founder Pete Tombs responded, saying “I put them in touch with the rights owner. I believe there is an HD version.”
I read about today’s movie on Seven Doors of Cinema. She made it sound weird and obscure enough to bump up my watch list. Within a few minutes of turning it on, I knew it deserved an in-depth review. Join me as I take a look.
1 hour, 21 minutes, 43 seconds
A catchy synth-pop song plays over the credits, warning us of a woman who’s “in control” and has “the urge to kill”. There’s a time code in the upper left corner and blurred-out watermark for RTV Video in the lower left. The camera pans over some instruments in a recording studio. A big-breasted blonde (Sally Anne Balaam) is tapping her foot to the beat. She bumps into a set of wind chimes and ducks behind a box. Sitting at the controls is playboy music producer…
A high school English teacher of mine told a story in class one time about how he saved the drummer of Blind Melon’s life. He was down in New Orleans, providing assistance for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, staying at the same hotel as percussionist Glen Graham. Wherever they were had a dining hall, because my teacher said he watched in morbid amusement as Graham and his girlfriend consumed an entire bottle of Absinthe over dinner that night. Later, when Graham tried the stairs, he stopped halfway up and slowly began falling backward. My teacher swooped in, catching him just before his skull cracked open like a ripe honeydew against the exposed concrete floor. If my teacher hadn’t been there, the Big Easy would have claimed its second member of the band, spurring talk of a Blind Melon curse.
The next day, Graham asked him “You the one that caught me?”
Top middle: Glen Graham
Credit: Blind Melon/Facebook
My teacher concluded his story by playing “No Rain”. The song was familiar. I’d always liked it, just never knew the title or who did it before. I went home, looked up some more of the band’s stuff, and was hooked. From that day forward, I was a huge Blind Melon fan. This was right around the time they reformed with Travis Warren (pictured above, top left) on vokes. The second incarnation of Blind Melon released one album, disbanded the same year, got back together, toured sporadically, then quietly faded back into obscurity.
To this day, I love them. If I had to pick one favorite band, it’s Blind Melon. Though their albums are few and far between, what they do put out is absolute gold. I don’t skip any tracks. The only thing most people know them for is the tapdancing bee girl, who was reportedly a brat, and that makes me sad. They have an incredible catalogue.
Imagine my excitement when the gracefully aging rockers announced they were starting work on a new album way back in 2018, their first since 2008’s For My Friends, and second without larger-than-life lead singer Shannon Hoon. Three of the four surviving members were on board, with Travis Warren returning and Nathan Towne filling in for Brad Smith.
From September, 2019 to mid-2020, the quintet cranked out four promising singles. “In the Very Best Way” is still my favorite of the batch. It’s catchy as Hell, has that classic guitar sound, and breaks from the typical verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus structure. You can really hear Graham beating the shit out of the drums. That man has a new lease on life!
“The plan was to come out to Joshua Tree and all stay here for a couple weeks and finish this record…” de facto spokesperson Thorn explained in a Facebook Live video during the pandemic. “And then, like everybody, everybody’s plans changed. So, we’re gonna finish this record and we’re gonna do it remotely. And it’s working out for us, you know? We want to get some music to you guys.”
Two years ago this past Friday, Guitar World published an article titled “Blind Melon: “We’re releasing 10-12 singles instead of an album all at once – we’d rather remind people we exist every couple of months than every 2 years”.
Well, here we are.
Guitarist Rogers “With an S” Stevens expanded, saying “My thinking is you’re better off reminding people you still exist every couple of months than reminding them once every two years with a media blitz… when there are 10-12 [songs], we’re going to press vinyl and sell it to whoever wants it.”
The next month, they dropped two versions of “Strikes Back”, a title suggesting they wanted to make an impression. And that was it. There haven’t been any further developments. We’re approaching seven-hundred days of radio silence. I wonder what the holdup is. It’s not like the well has run dry. They’ve still got that spark and they sounded rejuvenated. Thorn claimed to have written more songs at his new studio in Joshua Tree than during the rest of his career. Warren has two solo albums and countless singles in the can since 2019. Three additional Melon titles I remember being tossed around were “Ramblin”, “Matter to You”, and something to the effect of “Start Breaking My Heart”. Where are those?
If we’re not getting new material, how ’bout some old? I’d love to hear cleaned up, remastered versions of “Rebirth”, “What You Lost”, “Soul One (electric)”, “Tickled Pink”, “Ever Had the Feeling”, “Letters From a Porcupine (full band)”, “Wooh Dog”, “No Bidness”, “Frosting a Cake”, “Brittle Little Baby”, “Untitled in C”, “No Lyrics”, “I Am a Dreamer”, the rendition of “No Rain” where the Velvet Underground is great, and anything else that’s just sitting in a vault.
Credit: The Simpsons, Disney
Us melonheads would have starved to death a long time ago if it weren’t for the bootlegs the band seems to encourage and various projects the members were involved in over the years. In the late 90s, Stevens moved to New York and formed Extra Virgin with Rene Lopez, who previously auditioned to replace Hoon. They released one album, Twelve Stories High. Spacehog frontman Royston Langdon joined them and they became The Tender Trio. In the Meantime (see what I’ve done?), Thorn and Smith founded Unified Theory with Dave Krusen of Pearl Jam’s Ten and the angelic Chris Shinn. They put out one self-titled album during their brief existence and a second years later. After Unified Theory dissolved, Shinn fronted Everything is Energy while Thorn and Smith played in Halo Complex. Smith also has a pair of solo albums under the name Abandon Jalopy. I recommend all this stuff.
Blind Melon, please come back! It would be the perfect way to kick off 2023. And Graham, for God’s sake, no more recreations of “St. Andrew’s Fall”. Any fans care to discuss the finer points of this underrated band? Leave a comment below.
Writing, for me, is a lot like performing an exorcism. I don’t know why I do it. It’s stressful and I’m just relieved when it’s over. My natural talent is drawing, specifically simple, offensive cartoons unbeholden to rules of perspective. A few years back, my favorite director released a documentary about Mike Diana, the first and thankfully only US artist ever convicted of obscenity, for selling self-published comics through the mail. I saw a bit of myself in Diana. Our styles are similar. It never occurred to me that parlaying my passion for doodling diseased cocks and machete-wielding elephants into a living was an option. I fell into a mild depression, wondering where I’d be if I truly applied myself. I stopped nurturing my talent because I lived in cramped apartments for years and never really had a good workspace. That’s what I tell myself anyway. It was easier to work from a laptop. I have an office and a huge finished basement now, and still haven’t picked it back up. That tells me I’m my own biggest obstacle. Seems I’ve gotten used to this “writing” thing, as frustrating as it is. I’m not a fountain of creativity. The words don’t just flow from my fingers. It’s something I have to work at.
Movies have always been my muse. I used to get disapproving comments from my saintly grandmother for drawing violent Friday the 13th comics with boobs in them. I also had a series called “Bug Killers” based on the puppets from Puppet Master. Each diminutive character had their own weapon or ability for combatting insects. After that, until about fourth grade, I stuck to drawing “good stuff” — mostly animals — so as not to concern the adults. It takes a special kind of movie to get the ol’ creative juices flowing. Once they’re pumping sufficiently fast through my body, I find the best approach is to get all my half-formed thoughts down in a big wall of text and revise it from there. If I can’t get the piece to take shape right away, I come back a day or two later with a fresh set of eyes. If I still can’t get it to read how I want, it slowly consumes me. I begin to question my grasp of the English language. I obsess over grammar and trivial word choices. I think why is it I can say something in conversation, be understood, even get a laugh, but when I write it down, it doesn’t sound right? I keep checking what I have, hoping it magically rearranged itself into Shakespeare. By this point, I’m stabbing my groin with religious objects. I ask my wife to read over my writing. She identifies any typos and tells me it’s fine. Hearing that is like hearing the hero of a bad horror movie yell “Fight it! I know you’re still in there! Don’t let it win!” I splash a little holy water on my keyboard and hit publish, ridding myself of the evil. I usually don’t watch the movie again for a long while. I move on with my life.
Me being tormented. Credit: The Happiness of the Katakuris, Tubi TV
My wife. Credit: The Exorcist III, Tubi TV
The truth is, I don’t consume many movies these days. I start plenty, but end up turning them off at the first sign of nudity. My kids are constantly running around, and the titles I pick out are often unsuitable. So, I just watch halves and thirds. When a title captures my interest, the first thing I do now is check the parents guide on IMDb for sexual content. Naturally, it tells me a woman shits on a dog’s erect penis or something equally heinous, limiting when I can watch said movie to past my children’s bedtimes. If there’s no advisory, I’m back to square one with my finger riding the home button. That’s a dangerous game.
Remarkably, I managed to post 61k words last year an average of just over twice a month, the most since my old blog. My goal for 2023 is to keep increasing those numbers. I’d love to get the engagement up too. I want to make WordPress the lively community I remember it being a decade ago. I went through a period of mourning when my favorite blogger stopped posting. I’m still healing, honestly. If you were around to see the comet that was Dr. Humpp’s Curious Collection streaking through the sky, count yourself lucky. I miss the camaraderie I had with him and others.
In between posts, I do my best to read, like, and comment on as much of my fellow bloggers’ work as I can. I spend a fair amount of time in the reader scrolling through the horror tag searching for similar sites. Lately, I’ve noticed an uptick in Fangoria wannabes spamming multiple news items an hour. I hate that shit. I hate this whole clickbait/podcast/streamer/content creation culture we’re in now. I may “monetize” my site in the future by adding one of those clichéd “buy me a coffee” donation buttons, but not today. I’m more apt to click on a site with a .wordpress.com domain than a .com domain because it shows me the author is in it for the love of the game. If I can offer some free advice, always acknowledge your visitors. Reply to comments. Nobody wants to go unheard. Also, I never like a post with the expectation of getting one in return, but after a point, it’s common courtesy to check out what your visitors have to offer. Unless someone’s writing is super witty or funny, I lose interest and unfollow after the tenth or twentieth unreciprocated like.