A candidate for a future installment of Soundtracks Of Our Lives, the album spawned from the so-so Cameron Crowe film Singles is one of those records whose impact was so much more significant than its source material that it became more a commentary on the state of American music culture at the time of its release than any cinematic meaning it possessed. Among the many compilations that a generation of kids embraced during the wave of transition into grunge, punk, and the era of “alternative nation,” the Singles soundtrack was arguably the biggest progenitor, turning innumerable impressionable young music dorks like myself onto bands like Screaming Trees, Alice In Chains, and Soundgarden. Like many, I picked it up thanks to the presence of Pearl Jam, and ended up listening to songs I would never in a million years have listened to by choice, like Paul Westerberg’s awful post-Replacements, pre-solo career offerings “Waiting For Somebody” and “Dyslexic Heart.”
The newly remastered and expanded edition not only gives fresh new life to the songs from the original release, but for completists, the bonus material boasts a wealth of riches. Primary among these is the inclusion of the Poncier EP, a collection of acoustic tracks from Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell meant to function as demos from Matt Dillon’s lunkhead frontman for the movie’s fictional grunge act, Citizen Dick. (Speaking of which, that band’s “single,” a loving spoof of Mudhoney’s “Touch Me I’m Sick,” is on here as well.) There’s also acoustic, live, and demo versions of songs from the soundtrack, new material from Mike McCready, Westerberg, and additional music from the film itself that had gone previously unreleased. Accompanying liner notes from Crowe are essentially paeans to the greatness of every artist that contributed, but include some fun nuggets of info, like how Cornell secretly crafted the songs for Dillon’s character. Is it a bit much? Of course—but as someone from the movie might argue, that’s the point of being passionate about a particular time, place, and sound, right?
I love visiting movie and TV locations—just ask my wife, who’s been dragged all over the world, just so I can see firsthand some building some actor once stood in front of. Unfortunately for her, looking at famous locations on the internet offers even smaller echoes of the same thrills (Unless it’s our Pop Pilgrims series!), but luckily, Lonely Planet has finally released a decent placebo in its new Film (And TV) Locations: A Spotter’s Guide. With lovingly photographed landmarks from movies spanning The Man With The Golden Gun to The Martian (not filmed on Mars as it turns out), the book covers some obvious places, like The Shining hotel and the beach from Jaws, but it also weaves in some more unexpected international detours like Ran, In Bruges, and Betty Blue. It’s really fun to look at, and it’s given me plenty of ideas for how to ruin future vacations.
I can’t remember a time before Labyrinth. I was born the year it came out, and my enchantment with Jim Henson’s masterwork—my love-hate for Bowie’s beautiful Goblin King, my investment in Sarah’s success, wanting to hug Ludo—form my earliest pop culture memories. In other words, I am exactly who they made the Labyrinth board game for. When my copy of River Horse’s much-anticipated release arrived this winter, it was, as expected, a sight to behold: The board and detailed figurines lovingly crafted by Johnny Fraser-Allen make it a true collector’s item. And to be honest, that may be the extent of its appeal for hardcore gamers. It’s not a challenging play, even in the fiery last charge on Goblin City, but it does generally follow the pacing of the film and should be enjoyable to those who want to spend a little more time under Jareth’s spell. It’s a game I’ll probably pull out a few times a year for a lighthearted evening, and with the soundtrack rereleased on vinyl this week, the whole experience is about to get even better.