Friday, April 14, 2023

The View On Pop Culture: Beatiful Creatures, Buddy & Julie Miller, BadAzz Mofo zine, The Terminator DVD (2001)

Beautiful Creatures
Beautiful Creatures


A full-blown ‘80s rock revival is right around the corner, loyal readers. As such, it’s no longer “passe” to enjoy hard-rocking, hard-partying MTV bad boys like Motley Crue or Poison. L.A.-styled “glam metal” is back in vogue, the first shot of nostalgia fired in the form of Beautiful Creatures. The band’s self-titled debut Beautiful Creatures (Warner Bros. Records) opens with a guitar riff straight out of the Mickey Most playbook, dropping the listener through a cultural rabbit hole and onto the Hollywood music scene circa 1985.

Appropriately enough, an authentic L.A. glam band shouter – former Bang Tango frontman Joe LeSte – fronts Beautiful Creatures. Add a couple of fine young guitarists in the form of DJ Ashba and Anthony Focx, both weaned on Metallica and Black Sabbath, match them with an explosive rhythm section and you have a first rate wrecking crew. Beautiful Creatures reminds me a lot of the underrated and influential early ‘80s band Hanoi Rocks. Like those Finnish glamboys, BC rocks as hard as a hailstorm, filling their debut with everything an appreciative headbanger could ever want. From radio-friendly rock (“Ride”) to the obligatory power ballad (“Wish”) to guitar pyrotechnics (“Step Back”), Beautiful Creatures manages to raise the roof with reckless abandon. With LeSte’s soaring vocals and twin guitars that slash like a sabretooth’s eyeteeth, Beautiful Creatures bring the sheer joy and spirit of rocking loudly to tunes like “New Orleans” and “Blacklist.” It’s an impressive debut from a band that is probably a year or two ahead of their time.

Buddy & Julie Miller
Although both Buddy and Julie Miller have enjoyed critically-acclaimed careers as singers and songwriters, the pair’s self-titled Buddy & Julie Miller (Hightone Records) is the first album this talented husband-and-wife duo have created together. Julie Miller is best known as a folk artist, with half-dozen albums to her credit during the past decade. Buddy Miller has kicked around since the late sixties, working with folks like Shawn Colvin and Jim Lauderdale and most recently as guitarist for Emmylou Harris. As songwriters, the duo has placed cuts with country artists like the Dixie Chicks, Brooks & Dunn and Lee Ann Womack.

For their first album together, the two have drawn heavily on Julie’s considerable songwriting skills, exploring such musical paths as traditional country (“Little Darlin”), edgy blues (“Dirty Water”) and Steve Earle-styled roots rock (“The River’s Gonna Run”). The handful of cover songs they’ve chosen are priceless, from Richard Thompson’s bittersweet “Keep Your Distance” to Dylan’s winsome “Wallflower.” Julie’s sweet, high-pitched vocals are matched by Buddy’s twangy growl, the differences between the two singers oddly effective. Buddy is an excellent guitarist, bringing a great deal of emotion and passion to his playing while Julie’s charisma shines through every song. A favorite of the alt-country crowd, Buddy & Julie Miller are a unique pairing, their first album together a wonderful display of talent and hard-won experience.

Hollywood may crank out its big-budget blockbusters, but a lot of movie fans still prefer low-budget morsels like The Warriors or The Evil Dead. David Walker’s excellent BadAzz MoFo zine covers the “Blaxploitation” film beat, Walker and his small staff doing an invaluable job documenting the mid-seventies phenomenon of films like Shaft and The Mack that reflected and helped define African-American culture at the time. Issue #6 of BadAzz MoFo offers interviews with actors Glynn Turman (Cooley High) and Antonio Fargas (“Huggy Bear”) and singer/actor Corey Glover (Living Colour). The zine also includes an insightful article on the fondly remembered Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids cartoon, an informative guide to the DVD format and more movie reviews that you can digest in one sitting. An entertaining and well-researched publication, BadAzz MoFo delivers a much-needed perspective on an often-overlooked facet of pop culture. Check them out on the web at  

The Terminator
Long before Titanic became the highest-grossing movie of all time, director James Cameron was just another graduate of Roger Corman’s New World Pictures who was chasing hard coin in Hollywood. At the time of its 1984 release, The Terminator (MGM Home Entertainment DVD) was a low-budget sci-fi long shot that ended up paying off big-time for both Cameron and star Arnold Schwarzenegger. A chilling tale of a post-apocalyptic future in which machines rule the planet, Arnie plays a killer robot sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (played to perfection by Linda Hamilton), the would-be mother of the future savior of mankind, John Connor.

The film’s special effects and action sequences are still breathtaking, the DVD’s improved digital picture and sound jumping right out of your screen and speakers. Special features like a director’s commentary and a pair of documentaries make this a nice set for fans, and if this “special edition” DVD of The Terminator isn’t quite as nice as last years T2 set, it’s a welcome addition to the fan’s film library nonetheless. Watch closely for fleeting pre-fame appearances from Bill Paxton and David Hyde Pierce! (View From The Hill, September 2001)

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