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3M Scotch Masking Tape for General Painting 0.94-Inch by 60.1-Yard, 1-Pack
3M Scotch Masking Tape for General Painting 0.94-Inch by 60.1-Yard, 1-Pack
Price: $6.46
33 used & new from $2.47

3.0 out of 5 stars no sticky, no buy, February 20, 2015
I'm a bit surprised this tape isn't very good. It's not sticky enough. It will stick for a little while depending what you use it on then suddenly lose its stickiness entirely. If you plan on using this tape on frozen food wrapping paper you can just forget that- the tape will come undone in a few days. Basically when using this tape, avoid anything cold or in the area of wetness or dampness. While I understand it's possible this tape may have gotten wet somewhere along the line that I'm unaware of (either in the freezer or perhaps in the store where I bought it) I have my doubts because my roll of masking tape doesn't show signs of ever being wet. It's just un-sticky, unsatisfactory tape. It's also possible this particular roll is part of bad manufacturing... I thought about that too. But I dunno, I don't want to keep buying Scotch tape in the slim chance I did originally buy a bad roll. I'm just going to assume Scotch isn't a very dependable company when it comes to masking tape which is surprising because aren't they supposed to be the masters of tape? 3 stars.

Northern Lights - Southern Cross
Northern Lights - Southern Cross
Price: $7.99
72 used & new from $3.62

4.0 out of 5 stars north and south, February 20, 2015
I was originally going to give Northern Lights Southern Cross 3 stars based on a couple questionable moments and a band showing strong signs of going downhill after their classic years were obviously done and over, but I reconsidered based on the excitement I had for the most part.

The biggest question mark is obviously "It Makes No Difference". Perhaps it's a watered down imitation of the superior "Tears of Rage" or just an attempt to copy the Eagles and their laidback classic "Lyin' Eyes", but either way this slow-plodding commercial-sounding country ballad doesn't do much for me. The jazzy saxophone near the end is entirely out of place too, but at least it's interlaced with some nice guitar playing. The song just sounds too much like the Eagles and Orleans and less like the Band I associate with distinctive rock and roll greatness. The "sun won't shine anymore" line might be an indication of the tension the band members were feeling towards each other at the time. I wouldn't necessarily call this song unlistenable, but it's pretty disappointing nonetheless and clearly a few minutes overlong.

Now "Acadian Driftwood" is a major improvement, and honestly the rest of the album is much better. While this song also has a slow-plodding pace very similar to "It Makes No Difference" that could initially be interpreted as lifeless uninspiring songwriting, repeated listens reveal the lyrics and vocal melody are actually a LOT better than I originally gave it credit for. The generic funky parts in the background are forgettable but the flutes are oddly appealing and wildlife-like. Lyrically and atmospherically the song is purely great. The atmosphere does capture a nice calm outdoors setting just before sunset somewhere in the Midwest on flat fields with trees and lakes nearby, which is probably not at all what the band is going for since the lyrics are about a group of people trying to live peacefully outside but other forces make them get up and leave. At least that's my interpretation.

"Forbidden Fruit" is a keeper. Strong verse melody and mid-tempo chorus. Don't touch that forbidden fruit since you only have one life, and you better not waste it! To quote a specific line, I highly enjoy "How can I walk with this ball and chain? How can I land in this hurricane? Or is this part of man's evolution? To be torn between truth and illusion". Really insightful line there. Don't forget about the nice funky guitar solo at the end either. "Jupiter Hollow" feels like a somewhat retreat of the more interesting carnival-like and rhythmic distinctiveness of the early Band days, but it's good enough to be a quality moment anyway. It does unfortunately sound a bit dated and comparable to the late 70's based on the production and mainly the out of place synths (seriously why are the Band using synths?) The line "Like a time machine take you out to a different year" is a cringe worthy line I'm afraid. Brutal choice of words! Otherwise decent tune with good lyrics such as the line "Just like a pioneer in the new frontier, I don't know where to begin because nobody cares when a man goes mad, and tries to free the ghost within". Makes me think these lyrics are more indications of the inner turmoil related to the band members self-destruction but disguised as something else entirely if you go into this album with no knowledge of the Band quickly falling apart at this point in their career.

"Rags and Bones" has a somewhat dark atmosphere. The lyrics are all over the place and you know, I had no idea what "rags and bones" even meant until I did a google search and found it means "someone who collects unwanted household items and sells them to merchants" which explains why the lyrics are about a stroll through town meeting all different kinds of people going about their business. Now it makes more sense. The atmosphere is pretty relaxing and ideal for a warm summer evening near the beach I think. Otherwise the rushed vocal melody is a tad off but workable, and the addition of the Spanish guitar (or something that *sounds* like a Spanish guitar) is nice too but doesn't last long enough. Probably the most experimental song on the album even though it's pretty tame.

"Hobo Jungle" contains typical late 70's devastating balladry in the vocals with a lovely atmosphere. Really beautiful but sad song. It's about the life of a hobo stargazing his days away supposedly, but there's probably more depth to it than that. "Ophelia" is a return to classic Band! Yes this song sounds like it wouldn't be out of place on Stage Fright or any one of the bands... Band's early albums. It just has the right amount of upbeat vocals to be placed alongside the Band's classic material. The brass instruments work nicely, and they even give the song an old-fashioned stage show feel. "Ring Your Bell" is... ready for this? Disco! Say it ain't so! Well it is BUT! It's *good* disco! The horns, the danceable rhythm, the really memorable verse melody... I totally kid you not- it might seem strange to say the Band excels at disco arrangements and trust me I never would've believed it unless I heard it for myself. It works!

Overall well Northern Lights Southern Cross has its forgettable moments, but at least 80% of the album is pretty awesome surprisingly enough. I recommend this after you explore the Band's first four albums.

Dolly Dearest
Dolly Dearest
DVD ~ Denise Crosby
Price: $5.33
35 used & new from $1.33

2.0 out of 5 stars chucky's sister maybe, February 16, 2015
This review is from: Dolly Dearest (DVD)
Dolly Dearest is a victim of being a poor imitation of a better horror film series- that being Child's Play of course! Chucky is 100% scarier than these adorable angry dolls. While Dolly Dearest does have its moments, the clichéd writing severely damages it. I mean of *course* the doll is going to attach itself to the little girl of the family, and of *course* the child is going to be the only one who can communicate with the doll. The writing continues to be clichéd in other areas too, such as whenever the mother enters the girls bedroom or outside dollhouse suddenly the doll stops moving/talking then so to not raise suspicion. Of course! This has been done a thousand times.

Predictable writing aside, luckily the story isn't completely about a doll gradually turning a little girl evil. There's also a portion of the film that focuses on an archaeologist who discovers a nearby cave with carvings inside of it. Turns out this cave is responsible for the dolls turning evil because they've been awakened by a satanic presence. Yeah we figured that much. This is also the part of the movie where the older brother becomes a bigger character due to his curiosity in discovering the mysteries of this cave (by eventually sneaking around and dodging Dobermans in his attempt to assist the loner archaeologist). The brother is actually a more memorable character than anyone else in the movie interestingly enough.

While the dolls move rather realistically which is awesome for such an older movie, unfortunately they were given hideous voice acting. They don't sound frightening at all. They sound like Smurfs or something you'd associate with a cartoon instead. They don't have the proper voice, memorable dialogue or personality that Chucky does for example.

And yes, there's more than one doll roaming the house/nearby factory. There's at least two, maybe even a third. I wish these dolls did more horrific things to people besides just locking doors all the time. Like the Spanish lady for example. They locked her out of the home before they inevitably killed her (arguably the best death scene in the entire film) and in other situations they lock people inside rooms after slamming the doors shut. I feel the writing should have focused more on the killings. The movie tries for suspense, but the clichéd nature of the writing and obvious similarities to the Child's Play series sort of hamper this one I'm afraid.

I think the dollhouse outside wasn't utilized completely either. That was one fascinating and enormous dollhouse that little girl was living in! It should have played a bigger part I think. Also the girl should have been more disrespectful towards her mother. She came across more like a brat who didn't want to listen to authority figures instead of a girl who's gradually becoming possessed. Overall a 3-star rating for the cheap laughs and the decent doll movements/facial expressions, but no higher than a 3.

I Spit On Your Grave (2010)
I Spit On Your Grave (2010)
Price: $9.99

5.0 out of 5 stars don't spend the night alone, February 16, 2015
WARNING! I Spit On Your Grave will probably be too disturbing for most people (including me- I was even struggling to watch a good portion of the first half). It's right up there with Funny Games in terms of stepping over the boundaries and leaning towards being a little *too* realistic. It's about a young ambitious woman who's an aspiring writer. She temporarily moves into a log cabin in the woods to free her mind from the city life and concentrate on her writing. Unfortunately before she arrives she's greeted by a group of men at a nearby gas station who harass the girl. Due to an accident involving the humiliation of one of the men at the gas station, they get their revenge on the girl by tormenting, raping and attempting to kill her since they're all aware she's alone and can't be helped by anyone.

It just so happens the actual rape and torment is *really* extreme. Yes we see nudity (her entire body) and a LOT of time is devoted to the graphic nature of the rape scene (at least 30 minutes if we count the girl briefly making a run for it only to be greeted by a hunting sheriff who turns out to be just as ruthless as the other ones). When it appears the situation has become completely hopeless after all the men have their way with her in a disturbing scene that shows the girl slowly limping away naked even though all the men are standing nearby with guns and watching her leave, she's just about getting to get shot when she attempts suicide by jumping in a river and appears to drown. This woman isn't dead after all however. Instead soon after she's out for revenge! I wouldn't even say "revenge". That would be an understatement. She's out to return the favor shall we say!

I guess I misunderstood. Maybe I figured since the word "Grave" is in the title along with the assumption she drowned, that she came back from the dead to kill the men who raped and abused her. No, instead she's ALIVE while doing these twisted things! Everything from pulling on eyelids using string wrapped around a tree to making someone dunk their head in acid water to cutting off... ahem... valuable jewels, I Spit On Your Grave is a terrific movie. But seriously the violent rape scene is certainly a tough one to swallow. It doesn't get more extreme than that.

I think the woman who plays the rape victim out for revenge (Sarah Butler) is awesome. She starts off so innocent and carefree, and it's even evident and believable in her facial expression and eyes. When she's getting tormented by the guys, she convincingly begs for her life. Afterwards when she seeks revenge, you can FORGET about that carefree facial expression she was sporting earlier. Now her eyes become downright vicious and determined for a more fitting and justified outcome after the humiliation she had to endure. She probably figures the men took everything she had anyway (including her privacy and dignity) so she might as well look for justice in her own way. She's terrific overall and surely gives a 5-star performance.

The male characters are all good in their roles too- you undoubtedly want to see them tormented and die in bloody violent fashion for what they'd done to the poor girl. I especially wanted to see the sheriff get what's coming to him. You'll get to see it, I promise! There's really nothing more to share. The acting is superb, the amount of blood and violence is incredibly high, the tension is constant, time flies because I was so involved in the plotline that I didn't realize the movie was close to 2 hours long... just a fantastic film.

Teacher Created Resources Mini Happy Face Stickers Valu-Pak, Multi Color (6633)
Teacher Created Resources Mini Happy Face Stickers Valu-Pak, Multi Color (6633)
Price: $6.50
10 used & new from $1.72

4.0 out of 5 stars colorful stickers, February 12, 2015
While I wouldn't say these are the prettiest stickers you'll ever find, they get the job done and keep the kids satisfied whenever they get good grades on their tests or homework and you apply these stickers to their assignments. They're cost effective which is important perhaps due to the fact they don't really stand out in a dramatic way with strange designs all over them, but with kids the bright colors are probably enough to make their eyes light up with excitement anyway. I highly recommend purchasing a bag of these stickers but you'd probably be better off looking for them in the Dollar Store or Rite Aid, since on amazon occasionally the price sneaks up to a crazy extent as sellers try to charge customers more money than these stickers are worth. You have to be on the lookout for sneakiness like that- some people will try gauging your wallet or pocketbook. Don't stand for it. Anyway your kids will absolutely enjoy these colorful and delightful stickers.

The House That Dripped Blood
The House That Dripped Blood
DVD ~ John Bryans
25 used & new from $3.62

5.0 out of 5 stars is that nicolas cage's zombie head on the cover?, February 12, 2015
This review is from: The House That Dripped Blood (DVD)
Well the House That Dripped Blood is certainly better than the Dorm that Dripped Blood (not that there's any reason to compare the two other than the noticeably similar titles with one word exchanged for the other- oh and of course, never watch the Dorm That Dripped Blood please! It's nothing like this!) This is about an investigator who listens to and studies the mysterious nature of 4 different stories involving the death of 4 different owners who once lived in what appears to be a quiet house in the countryside. This movie does a tremendous job in all categories of horror writing- the acting is based around top-notch British dialogue, the atmosphere/storytelling is balanced perfectly in that none of the 4 stories wander too long and become boring, nor do they ever feel undeveloped/insubstantial. Each of the 4 stories flows just right and offers an appropriate amount of interest.

Anyway let me describe the stories. The 1st one is about a man who moves into the home and writes murder stories. After he and his wife settle into the house, it doesn't take long before the man starts "hallucinating" and believes he sees the fictional character he created in his story wandering around the house and intimidating/mentally torturing him. His wife thinks he's crazy, but there *is* a good twist at the end that I can't spoil. I simply have to stop explaining the story right now or I'll spoil it. The 2nd story is about the second person who moves into this mysterious house. He's an older loner guy who enjoys the simplicity of a quiet life alone going for walks, listening to his record player, taking care of his garden and occasionally venturing into town. Well he eventually ventures into a wax mannequin museum that shows rather realistic looking people standing around, one of which bears a startling resemblance to a girl he once had a crush on. An old acquaintance comes over and they discuss the girl and how she was out of both their leagues.

The 3rd story is my favorite. It's about a strict father who forbids his young, adorable blonde-haired daughter from making friends, owning toys or going to the local playground. After an attractive teacher moves in (and this part is hilarious to me- she just moves in and the father doesn't disapprove or turn her away despite how strict he is when it comes to his daughter) to help teach the little girl how to read and act like a normal kid, the father goes against anything the lady tries to do to help his daughter. Eventually witchcraft elements come into the story which is really chilling. The final person that moves into the house is probably the worst story of all. This story is about an actor who doesn't like the scripts or the people he works with since they don't know how to make a classic horror film like in the older days, so he eventually goes into town and buys a Dracula's cloak for a movie he's acting in. However this cloak happens to be the real deal so he actually turns into Dracula with fangs, flying abilities and neck-biting tendencies, lol. It's the silliest story of all, but the woman he's working with and often visits is HOT don't you think? Like if Ginger from Gilligan's Island was as attractive as she thinks she is, she'd look like THIS girl!

Overall this is a well-made horror. The house is interesting in that it's not necessarily haunted, but it tends to draw people in who are destined for a deadly fate. It reflects the personality of the people who live there I suppose (which is what is stated a couple times) but that only feels like part of the story. No this house is just bad luck. If you a bad outcome, well, move right in! I like how the setting resembles the Resident Evil video game series (particularly part 2). I really think the developers of Resident Evil were using this movie as an influence for the character of Chief Irons since the setting and Chief Iron's dialogue resemble some of the characters in this movie. Anyway GREAT movie!

Pranks (Aka The Dorm That Dripped Blood) [DVD]
Pranks (Aka The Dorm That Dripped Blood) [DVD]
3 used & new from $36.06

2.0 out of 5 stars watch out for that knife!, February 11, 2015
Pranks (or the Dorm that Dripped Blood- whatever you prefer to call this!) is a really bad horror. The problem lies in several factors- the acting is entirely B-quality and not in a laughable or charming kind of way either. It's getting to the point that B level horror is a considered a compliment if approached entirely for the laughs and giggles. This is bad all around. The character of Joanne Murray acts snotty and pretentious not necessarily because she's a college girl who desires to achieve good grades so it's only natural she'd act that way, but because the early 80's time period this movie was made demanded that younger star actors and actresses talk in such a phony way.

The story is about a group of college kids who explore an abandoned dorm building late at night and eventually everyone dies one by one, but the movie never once tries to make any of the characters enjoyable. They're all passable in their roles, but ultimately we don't care about them because the story never gives us a reason to care. We don't feel bad when they die. We don't sympathize whenever the killer strikes... and when he strikes he uses really unsatisfactory means of killing his victims (usually resulting in just smacking them over the head with something generic, or cutting their arm). This is all subpar stuff. Even worse is that we don't see the deaths- we see the look of surprise in the victims eyes when they encounter the killer, then we briefly see an attack, and in the next scene they're lying dead on the ground.

The soundtrack is really bad too. It relies heavily on ambient sound effects and overdramatic orchestration that jumps from loud and quiet whenever "tension" builds. It's just a way to disguise weak writing as far as I see it. Surprisingly the amount of nudity is kept to one brief scene- you'd think with a movie devoted to college kids and considering the early 80's when this movie was made, nudity would be everywhere. With forgettable characters, weak simplistic deaths with no creativity behind them and a storyline that's been done a thousand times even back in the early 80's, it's no wonder nobody remembers the Dorm That Dripped Blood. Even the amount of blood isn't as high as the movie title would suggest! You'd think blood would be dripping everywhere but sadly no. The movie does have a minor twist near the end, but it's a cliché by this point. Very very obvious. Avoid.

Alice, Sweet Alice
Alice, Sweet Alice
DVD ~ Linda Miller
Price: $19.39
26 used & new from $17.09

4.0 out of 5 stars sweet psychotic alice, February 11, 2015
This review is from: Alice, Sweet Alice (DVD)
Alice Sweet Alice is a nice blend of horror and mystery. It's horror in the sense that it's violent and bloody, but the mystery elements are a welcome addition since they pertain to not knowing who exactly the killer is. It could be Alice the little girl based on her extremely unusual tendencies and fascination in more gory things that mostly boys her age would prefer responsible for the many deaths around town, or it could be a completely different person. The movie's clever in that we're constantly assuming we know Alice well enough to conclude this is another typical killer kid film (though killer kid films weren't too popular in the mid 70's anyway so maybe people back then weren't assuming anything).

I won't spoil what eventually happens, but the storyline is written in such a careful way as to never reveal too much and always leaves the viewers wondering who did what, or rather, how Alice could go through with the violent things she does. But the story's never confusing which is what makes the movie so great. The only issue I have is that the character of Alice is exactly like too many child stars of the 70's. She's unintentionally snotty/arrogant due to the way she speaks. Alice in Wonderland was a victim of the same needlessly mature speaking style. I say let kids *speak* like kids- not like they're adults, because then they sound unnatural. When a child tries too hard to sound mature they often end up acting fake which reflects the movie as a whole if they happen to be a main character and sadly in this case, Alice *is* the main character. That's just my opinion.

Anyway the characters are all fantastic. You have the mother who seems really angry at first, but it's only because Alice never behaves so she always has her hands full. The aunt is another memorable character for her strict mannerisms. She either lives or frequently visits her sister (Alice's mother) which is when confrontations with Alice occur. Alice has a twin younger sister too. Of course Alice is going to be butting heads with her aunt since the aunt wants Alice to straighten up her act and behave herself like a young lady. Not gonna happen I'm afraid! And the chubby isolated man who lives in the downstairs apartment room... any time Alice and this man get together the dialogue turns hilarious! Sometimes I believe that poor cat-obsessed man has issues that run deeper than the ones Alice faces, lol.

The movie's really good at being atmospheric too. Any time a vicious murder happens at a church, without spoiling anything, it always feels really daring since a church is supposed to be a place to escape all outside harm. Otherwise the plot mostly focuses around the apartment building and abandoned buildings. While the first half of the film is all about Alice being abnormal, shockingly it doesn't take long for many people (except the mother) to place blame on Alice (which should have made the invisible light bulb go off above my head pertaining to an important clue but sadly it didn't until the film was over and I look back on it) Alice eventually seeks mental help. The second half of the movie sort of switches gears into a more mystery/detective-like direction showing less Alice and more of the other characters, while maintaining the same amount of thrilling moments. Overall however, really awesome film.

DVD ~ Lee Hirsch
Price: $9.07
52 used & new from $2.44

5.0 out of 5 stars shocking on many levels, February 10, 2015
This review is from: Bully (DVD)
Bully is the incredibly moving, shocking, touching and suspenseful story of a heartless/coward teenager played by Nick Stahl who's such a bully that he even picks on his very best friend (played by Brad Renfro- RIP). The ONE person who's been there for Nick all this time and he goes and picks on him. Nick mostly picks on Brad by suddenly bursting out in an uncontrollable moment of anger and punching him in the face, giving him black eyes. It even gets to the point that Nick walks in while Brad is doing his girlfriend on a bed, and he becomes so enraged with jealousy that he smacks/whips Brad's girlfriend hard across the back. He beats up Brad too, making him feel weak and ashamed. Basically all the teen actors/actresses are lazy and sit around doing sexual things or getting high/drunk all the time. Might seem like normal teens with little ambition, but these teens are far FAR worse.

So what happens after this? Brad's girlfriend (Rachel Miner's character) reveals while she and Brad are at the beach that she wants to go through with a plan to kill Nick Stahl and put an end to his harassing and bullying forever. Of course at first Brad jokes it off as a sick idea, but... Rachel's serious.

For a majority of the film, we see friends and relative of Brad and Rachel all gather around in secret (mostly bedrooms, living rooms, shopping malls and beaches) to put together the perfect plan that would take Nick Stahl out of commission forever. The problem? The teens are afraid to go through with it. There's all kinds of hesitation taking place in different ways. They're afraid of getting caught for one thing. They're afraid something might go wrong during the execution or that they'll leave evidence/blood/the dead body behind, and be arrested.

They start acting quiet and reserved around Nick once a plan develops, but... plan one doesn't work. So they look towards another person who can help them get the job done (Leo Fitzpatrick's character). Leo apparently has no sympathy or remorse for anything so he's the perfect person. However it turns out (I'm SPOILING what happens here- don't read any further if you don't want to know) *all* the teens end up contributing, and as we see (this next thing I mention is a really big SPOILER) they feel a ton of surprising emotion and sadness they weren't expecting to experience once the graphic killing gets underway, with a sense of urgency now greater than ever that the evidence hasn't been fully destroyed.

This is NOT an appropriate movie for kids by ANY stretch of the imagination. The amount of aggressive sexual situations is constant. Nudity is everywhere. These teens just like to do the nasty deed everywhere (even while having normal conversations they're doing it). They even do it if their friends are in a room nearby. I certainly don't think *I* would've been that comfortable going at it with a girlfriend at that age (alone OR with people in a room nearby) but hey, I never had a girlfriend so who knows! I find it shocking that Nick's dad is strict and wants to make sure his son gets into a good college with a beneficial future. Even though Nick is an abusive, angry, out of line, immature sex-craved woman and friend beater when he's with his friends, he turns more polite/respectful around his father. You'd think he'd be so screwed up in the head he wouldn't have the least bit of concern showing politeness around his father, so I find this part odd. Perhaps he's afraid of his father. We'll never know since we never see the father express any kind of anger- just a strict "you will do what I say" attitude.

Seriously this movie is downright crazy. Every single teen actor and actress is devoted enough attention that you eventually care about all of them (and there's like what, 10 nervous teens standing around by the end?) and the facial expressions they often show when discussions get intense and plans enter the developmental stage are startling enough to leave you speechless. REALLY high quality acting by everyone. Bully takes bullying to a whole new level. If you can stomach witnessing a violent death because of a bunch of teens going through with their plan to take out a bully, this movie will definitely leave a strong impression on you. The phenomenal acting, the tight storyline, the memorable characters, the atmosphere wondering when the inevitable is finally going to happen and how it's going to happen... Bully is just a crazy film. I thought I watched this movie several years ago but I don't think I did. I'd remember something like this.

Moondog Matinee
Moondog Matinee
Price: $7.99
67 used & new from $3.95

4.0 out of 5 stars the band's cover album, February 9, 2015
This review is from: Moondog Matinee (Audio CD)
I was debating whether to write a review for an album that's devoted to nothing but cover songs. Not that I have a problem with cover songs except they usually feel like a waste of a songwriters talents and normally artists don't go the extra mile to make cover songs stand out distinctively. I strongly prefer originally written content. It's the same reason I haven't reviewed John Lennon's Rock 'n' Roll. I'm aware the band members themselves recorded an album of covers because they weren't getting along at the time so this is all they could do, but I gotta be honest... it's a shame! The first four Band albums are legendary in my opinion, with Stage Fright being the most underrated of them all.

"Mystery Train" is quite funky in the typical mid 70's way, and vocally it's really strong blues. Sort of comparable to Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Call Me the Breeze" without any of the flashy guitar work. This song is relatively safe and focuses on the funk more so than anything else, but enjoyable enough. "What Am I Living For?" could've been based around the peaceful and somewhat creepy guitar work in the beginning and I wouldn't have minded! The way the vocal melody is sung is pretty tear-jerking and memorable. Like "Mystery Train", this doesn't try to be anything noteworthy or exceptional- just nicely written cover material.

"Going Back to Memphis" is upbeat country/rock played really well. I am familiar with the original Chuck Berry version, and if memory serves this is honestly just as good. The problem is that I haven't listened to the original in so many years I can't remember what it's like anymore. Doesn't matter though- this song's definitely a keeper. They even tear up a nice guitar solo in the middle. It's nothing particularly flashy or anything- just provides enough energy to be sufficient. "A Change Is Gonna Come" is another excellent song. So melancholy and reminds me of the last day of a special occasion such as summer vacation and dreading the first day of the new school year in the very near future- ugh, remember those days? You want summer vacation to last forever but you know it can't. It just can't darn it! Nice sax solo near the end too.

"Endless Highway" is memorable enough to be placed alongside "The Shape I'm In" from the Band's Stage Fright album. Well *almost* memorable enough. Gotta keep in mind Stage Fright is my favorite Band album and I wouldn't want it changed in any way. "All you children going my way, better tell your homeland sweet goodbye" is a confusingly interesting line given the upbeat nature of the otherwise splendid tune. This doesn't sound like a cover song at all. "Saved" starts off on a strange note with the singer informing us about drinking and smoking (and don't forget lyin' and cheatin' and all the other sinful things people do before we see the light!) before quickly speeding up into boogie rock, foot-tappin' fashion!

"Shakin" is another funky song that fits in with the mid 70's times, but it's borderline danceable with orchestral arrangements (I think- not sure what's going on in the background to be honest, but it's groovy and awesome). "He's got the whole world shakin" is SUCH a great, sing-able line. Watch out Same Cooke! The part at the very end makes me think the band members were having fun toying with the then current recording technology and their musical instruments. The lead singer is at his best when he's being really emotional, so "Crying Heart Blues" instantly makes me content. Great song.

"Didn't It Rain" is awful! Well maybe not *awful*. It's not like I'm reviewing Katy Perry here. But it's average at best. No I've never heard the original version- clearly I'm just not a fan of the song. "I'm Ready" is somewhat obnoxious with its exceptionally loud horns, and the vocal melody/rhythm is average at best. Again however, I haven't heard the original. I realize not hearing the original versions of much of the material throughout Moondog Matinee makes it impossible to compare which versions are actually superior, but well, as far as the Band making the right decision for which songs they chose to cover, some of this stuff comes up pretty short. Some of the selections are just bad in my opinion.

"Aint Got No Home" begins with some really dance-worthy piano work, and while the vocal melody is adequate it's nothing particularly special. The original is vastly superior. Singing the second verse melody in a robotic voice is hilariously outdated and a bad idea for a band that specializes in their style of roots/country rock. Just another questionable cover song which further shows how disappointing the Band really got after their 4th album (but I'm not writing off what they've done after this- I haven't heard any of that stuff yet). "Holy Cow" reminds me of something from the classic debut Music From Big Pink. Really excellent steady-paced country tune I don't know who originally wrote this. "Share Your Love (With Me)" is more along the lines of a country ballad. For some reason it reminds me of either Bob Dylan or George Harrison's version of "If Not For You" even though there's no reason for such a comparison other than a few briefly similar guitar lines. This song's awesome too. Tear-jerking even.

"Third Man Theme" is some kind of instrumental circus song. At least it sounds like it. Catchy and memorable at least but not the Band's forte... well then again I *do* recall thinking they almost occasionally venture into circus territory even on the classic albums due to their style of playing organs and accordions. "The Promised Land" is great no matter WHO does it! Chuck Berry or anyone else. As I'd expect from the Band, they give it a funkier, more rockabilly type of rhythm making it slightly stand apart from other versions. "The Great Pretender" has GOT to be the oddest cover song here. The song relies heavily on a beautiful and heavenly vocal melody courtesy of the Platters, so can the Band pull it off? Well... I guess so. Decent, but it doesn't hit me on a personal level like the original does. The two vocal styles are just too different.

I dunno, Moondog Matinee is somewhat inconsistent. I'd say I enjoy 70% of the material. On a good day I can only give the album 4 stars for a rating, but on a bad day it's a 3. It's not just the fact Moondog Matinee is entirely covered based- some of the styles they try to execute here just come across as weak/unsuitable in my opinion. However when they're firing on all cylinders and sticking with fitting cover songs, the Band's terrific here. So it's a good but not great album.

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