Spectrum Check

Ah, here’s Spectrum Check, back at it’s regularly scheduled time. So the first piece I had go up this week happened as a direct result of the intervention of my friend, a fabulous babe who a generation of Madison music fans know as Casino Queen. Somewhere around the midpoint of my ongoing countdown of the best films of the nineteen-eighties, she emailed me with the gentle but firm assertion that our friendship might be in jeopardy if the 1981 cinematic extravaganza The Great Muppet Caper wasn’t included somewhere on the list. I sheepishly informed her that it indeed would not appear on the tally, including a feeble (but accurate) excuse that I hadn’t seen it recently enough to gauge its quality aside from my admittedly nostalgic memories. Shortly thereafter, a DVD copy of the film arrived in the mail with a sticky note attached: “For Your Consideration.” While I wasn’t prepared to make a revision to the ongoing countdown, regardless of the outcome of a fresh viewing, Spectrum Culture luckily has a recurring feature perfectly suited to this situation. I only wish I could have better conveyed the enjoyment I got out of seeing Charles Grodin acting uncharacteristically goofy in the film.

I also wrote about a reissue of seventies psychedelic rock by an Iranian musician. Usually, we writers select the albums we want to write about, but I don’t recall putting in for this one. I believe it was assigned to me, presumably because I’d reviewed a similarly-themed release from the same label earlier in the year. I like the challenge of these reviews from the outer edge of my comfort zone, but I’ll admit to feeling a little out of my depth on this one at first. I tend to hone in on lyrics, so having every last one of them delivered in Persian was very tricky for me. I think I did fine with the review, but the earlier effort was probably better.

Then again, sometimes the prospect of having albums assigned for often than not holds its own appeal. When the debut album from Wild Flag showed up on out list of available releases, I snagged it as quick as I could. While I really did make every effort to bring a measured critical acumen to writing about the album, I was fairly certain that I’d be exceedingly pleased by the album. I saw them play live back in the spring and loved every moment of it. Given my strong affection for at least one of the bands this group emanated from, I had no reason to believe it would all fall apart on record. As far as I’m concerned, the quality absolutely carried over. Again, I feel confident in my review, but I do worry about at-the-ready fanboy palpitations shading my assessment. I guess that always comes with the territory, though.