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The Instant Monty Python CD Collection [Box set] [Audio CD] Monty Python
The Instant Monty Python CD Collection [Box set] [Audio CD] Monty Python
2 used & new from $39.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pure classic material, June 4, 2009
I'm not going to get into a huge, involved analysis of these CDs. It's Monty Python and people either get it or they don't. My only real complaint about this product is the lack of track breaks on the CDs. All the disks have two or three tracks when they should be divided up into thirty or so. This is an oversight that is just plain baffeling when I think about it. But when you get beyond that, the plain fact is the material is pure gold. Yes, a lot of the material on these disks is basically a remake of the older source material, rather than just an audio copy of the originals. This is a very good thing. Good adjustments were made to make the material more well suited to the purely audio format. All recordings are crisp with a beutiful variety of voicework, music, and sound in someway echoing back to the days when there was no TV and radio was central to entertainment. It only proves just how strong a story can be told strictly within an audio format. It's funny stuff. It is a wealth of material from a group of entertainers who were way ahead of their time.

I got these CDs back in 1995. 14 years later, I still get a lot of use out of them. I know so many of the bits verbatim yet I still keep coming back to it and I still find it staggeringly entertaining. This set is worth every penny.

ISolated INcident
ISolated INcident
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23 of 33 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Dane Cook, this is your last chance..., May 19, 2009
This review is from: ISolated INcident (Audio CD)
OK, so here's the deal. I had decided against my better judgement to go ahead and buy this album. I say against my better judgement because of his previous CD recorded in Madison Square Garden which was truly AN ABOMINATION of an album. In the past, I felt Dane Cook had some amusing material but I've never believed he's "like, the greatest comedian ever." I believe anyone who makes such claims to Dane Cook being the greatest ever or being some kind of comic genius, probably can't name very many comedians. But after the agressively bad third album, I'd decided to give Dane Cook ONE LAST CHANCE ... much the way I gave Slipknot ONE LAST CHANCE.

***NOTE: I'll not be buying any further Slipknot albums again, they have failed me for the last time. I don't mess around.

In Isolated Incident, you can sense that Dane Cook already knows this though. You see an album done by a guy who is on one hand confident of his own talents and yet is aware of just how overexposed and oversold he's been. You sense a man who realizes the hype machine has chugged on a tad too hard and it's time to scale it down a bit. Gone are the thousands and thousands of screaming ignorant fanatics packing the giant venue of MSG treating him like a rock star. This album is done in a small club in front of a few hundred, the way comedy albums should be done. And you can see an attempt at material that aims differently too.

On this album, Mr. Cook does try his hand at slightly more political and more personal stuff, a try at being more aware and more introspective ... with mixed results. The album begins immediately with some material on Obama. This material quickly had me wishing this was a Lewis Black CD instead. It hovers around the ideas of politics and race but it never feels like it really WANTS to try and scratch the surface or take any real risks. It's pretty safe stuff. When he goes on to address some of the particularly difficult episodes in his life the past two years, you see the same. He has seen the death of both parents. He has also seen a surge of "haters" hounding him rather savagely in the past few years, labeling him as a complete hack. And you can smell a potential wealth of autobiographical material just threatening to truly emerge and create a memorable album. But once again, it is a performance that just never fully matures and blooms into what maybe could have been.

When do you see material on this album receive that kind of thorough treatment? When he is talking about SEX of course. Plenty of time and focus devoted there. But as always, you sense a performer AND an audience that is operating under the pretense of embarking on a bold, edgy and dangerous adventure here yet the ship never really ventures into truly daring waters. In other words, the life jacket has come off but it's still with one foot firmly planted in the kiddie pool. If you buckled your seatbelts, you needn't have bothered.

Yes, Dane Cook has been subjected to some unfair barbs. He is a better performer than some give credit for. He is someone who believes in his own talents and he has a right to believe that way. He isn't the Ashlee Simpson of comedy, folks and we need to acknowledge that. But he simply is not one of the greats, nor will he ever be. But some of the hostility directed toward him I think is undeniably unfair and at times rather arbitrary: refusing to like him because he is Dane Cook. I WANTED this album to be good, in fact I wanted it to be great. It's not ... but it isn't bad either. I'm giving it three stars. Not a very enthusiastic three stars, but I know I'd be lying if I rated it lower than that. Dane Cook has the right to be here, there are plenty of performers who don't. He is an entertainer and he entertains effectively. He'll never be in the pantheon of great comedians, but that's OK, few others will be inducted in that club either. That's no excuse to deny him his place.
Comment Comments (13) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 18, 2010 3:57 AM PST

From Heaven
From Heaven
Price: $10.99
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars High five! blip blip blip, March 20, 2008
This review is from: From Heaven (Audio CD)
Ah, and the world just got a bit funnier. Todd Barry is one of the very best out there right now, period. It's a shame he doesn't get more attention than he does. With this album he once again proves that above all else, GOOD, SOLID WRITING is important in comedy. This is humor in purest form, virtually gimmic free...

...unless you consider his near comatose delivery a gimmic. That's debatable (though he sounds a bit peppier this time around.) He has a brand of sarcasm that is so smooth yet scathing, it is observational humor at its best. Yes, here's where I'm supposed to say "he takes the absurdities of our worlds and tackles them with his wit." To which you are supposed to reply "yeah, that's what most comedians do." True, but Todd does it better.

Todd is able to come up with material ABOUT ANYTHING. This is the man who had a joke about the band FUGAZI in his act a few years ago. I never thought there could be ANYTHING funny about Fugazi, but I stand corrected. Renting an apartment across the street from Sara Jessica Parker ... Parkning ticket money going to the homeless ... restaurant chain, Chipotle ... his aim is broad but deadly. There is a purity to Barry's comedy that doesn't require overselling, wild gesticulations, excessive theatrics and perhaps that's why Todd Barry albums tend to be superior to a lot of other guys out there. This is a guy who works out very well on audio recording, you don't feel like you're missing out by not being there. The art of subtlety usually trumps excess and that brilliance shines on this album.

This is also recorded in a small venue (which frankly ALL comedy albums should be.) You can hear distinct voices in the audience, (this was recorded in a Chinese restaurant ... no kidding.)

For those of you who have not yet discovered this guy, you really need to do yourselves a favor and check him out.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 14, 2012 1:42 PM PDT

All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt
All Roads Lead to Ausfahrt
Offered by IMS Distribution
Price: $19.52
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Still wrong and brilliant., March 2, 2008
Several years ago when I was living in Dayton, Ohio, the whole bloody town was indulging in self high-fives, congratulating itself on being the home of the Wright Brothers, celebrating their acheivement of flight. Phooey!! Their importance and acheivements are nugatory in comparison to the Wright brothers from the north. Yeah, I guess inventing the air plane is kind of cool ... so what? On the other hand you've got the contributions of Nomeansno. If I could choose only one or the other: the band or the inventors, the music or the vehicle ... I'm gonna choose Nomeansno.

And thank god they're back!! Gentlemen, we missed you. Maybe there weren't many of us that missed you, but the world of music needs you.

I'm ashamed to say I didn't manage to score every album by these guys before they suddenly left Alternative Tentacles Records and their discography disappeared into the aether. But hot crap, do I ever love their music. No one, NO ONE sounds like Nomeansno. There isn't a bass out there that sounds like theirs, even though it's a fairly simple rig and a P-bass. No band has vocals like Nomeansno, no one is even marginally similar, sounding simultaneously like speech and singing from a podium in a Leni Reifenstahl film ... yeah, that's the atmosphere you sense in their music sometimes. Does anyone write lyrics like them? It's possible, but good luck searching. It's all back: the swirling cynicism of a jaundiced world view in all its scathing glory. When you don't take yourselves seriously, you have license to make fun of everyone and everything. Yet, they're also able to be shockingly poetic in spite of their very discomforting nature. Truth is madness and madness is truth.

Look, these guys have been around a long time. MTV won't introduce you to them because in their eyes "they're not a group the kids can relate to." Suck it, MTV!! Just keep on pumping that bubblegum punk and we'll keep laughing at you. Yes, the Wright brothers' hair is gray without even an attempt to hide it. Yes, they look like my dad and to some of you they might look like your grandfather. Get over it. Nomeansno still crank out music with an energy and urgency that fools like Blink 182 aren't even worthy to attempt.

Ausfahrt continues the tradition of everything that makes this band great. The rusty razor wit and uncomfortable rythms are all there after all these years. Aren't they supposed to mellow out now and make something new agey to put us to sleep? Frankly, these guys HAVE NO RIGHT TO BE THIS GOOD. If you have no right, then you might as well be wrong. "Be strong, be wrong." Wrong and beautiful as ever.

Cypress Hill 3: Temples of Boom
Cypress Hill 3: Temples of Boom
Offered by CAC Media
Price: $13.26
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No bong necessary, January 10, 2008
Let's get one thing out of the way right now. I don't smoke pot. I never have. I think it is a foolish choice. (As Daniel Tosh put it "grow up and do cocain like an adult.")

With that stated ... this is in my opinion, Cypress Hill's finest album. I don't know if it's possible to make a goth rap album (a what?!) but this is the closest I've ever seen. Yeah, it's dark ... but there's a jillion skillion dark albums out there in multiple genres. But this one is different. The album has an atmosphere to it that I've NEVER heard in hip-hop before or since. Though it has ZERO in common with Type O Negative ... somehow it reminds me of the atmosphere on Bloody Kisses.

On Production, Muggs always had a sound that was rather signature. But on this one he expands the pallette he paints with and still maintained his signiture. What resulted was a strange concoction of sound few in rap then would dare to use ... and probably NONE in the conformist cesspool of today's rap would even consider trying.

On one hand, every song on this album makes me imagine night. Dark night with the pavement still shining from a recent rain. Yet still the album doesn't feel flat, it travels all over the place with its eerie gloom and grim fog ... that gets punctuated here and there with sparse sounds that sound way too bright and cheerful to belong on this album. And it all works. It shouldn't. It does. If you opt to listen to the whole album from beginning to end you get the sense that you've been taken for a ride in the way that few albums do. Few albums really NEED to be heard as a WHOLE to be truly appreciated but this one does. Some day down the road I think this album will be recognized for what it is, but as yet it hasn't received the full credit as a masterpiece that it deserves.

Tickets Still Available
Tickets Still Available
9 used & new from $7.98

5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure if this is mediocre or not, December 26, 2007
This review is from: Tickets Still Available (Audio CD)
I got this today and ... it just isn't doing anything for me. Am I saying it's bad? No, not as such.

Make no mistake. This album isn't bad the way Dane Cook's new album is bad. (Read my review on it if you want a full explanation.) This isn't braindead material that simply caters to the lowest common denominator in order to make people fill Madison Square Garden and scream like idiots. No, Maron's intelligence is plainly evident. His material has plenty of thought invested into it. He has a point of view, he lays it out with no apologies.

My complaint? It just didn't make me laugh much. I'm driving home with it playing in my car and it left me flat. It didn't leave me flat the way Brian Regan's album left me flat. I was actively paying attention and engaged. I wasn't uninterested. I just wasn't entertained.

Yes, I know this review really isn't saying much. I usually try to shoot for more substance than this. But that's just it, I really don't have much to say about this material and that's not a good thing. The album doesn't SUCK. I'm perfectly aware that it doesn't suck. But I find myself wishing I would have used my Beast Buy gift card on something else.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 10, 2010 2:01 AM PDT

Harry Potter Hard Cover Boxed Set: Books #1-7
Harry Potter Hard Cover Boxed Set: Books #1-7
by J. K. Rowling
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $102.82
56 used & new from $74.99

10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Yeah, cardboard. Get over it., December 13, 2007
OK, why all the moaning? I just received this item yesterday for my birthday and I was pleased as punch about it. Yes, the trunk the books come in is made out of cardboard rather than a fine elder box, lined with dragon hide with a 24 K gold locking mechanism. So bloody what?

As I see it ... this item is a set of seven hardcover books. These books make up one of the finest pieces of story telling for this generation. By my calculations, there's roughly 3600 pages of text. At $200 that's a good price. Discounted down to $116 is a shockingly good deal.

So why the complaining?

If you already have all the books then sure, this is not a purchase that makes sense for you. On the other hand, if you don't yet have these books in your posession, then I'd have a hard time naming a better deal out there right now. I've read the series seven times now, in both the american and british versions, love the story to pieces ... but have been primarily grabbing them from the library. $116 of my good wife's money and voila! I now own the set. A good story, good gift, I'm happy.

And someday, I hope that a full set will be put out with beautiful leather binding, gold leaf on the pages, all that ... a 20th anniversary set or something like that ... I would totally snatch that up. But for now, this will do just fine, I'll more than get my money's worth out of it.

How about we focus on the actual books themselves, all you who toss out one star? Yes, let's do that. As for me, I don't really look at these as seven seperate books. (Just like Kill Bill vols. 1 and 2 really aren't two seperate movies.) In my mind, this is one giant tome, one great story, a five star experience from beginning to end. And if I ever meet Ms. Rowling, I will simply say thanks.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 23, 2013 6:10 PM PST

You Fail Me
You Fail Me
Price: $11.99
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Someone help me out here, December 13, 2007
This review is from: You Fail Me (Audio CD)
OK, I just don't get it. If I'm missing something, then please somebody set me straight. I read review after review about Converge and how they're the greatest thing since sliced toast. What am I not hearing that you all are?

Based on Amazon reviews, I go out and grab No Heros. And it's ok. I like it, but I don't love it. A few months later, I grab You Fail Me and it's the same feeling for me. They're OK but I'm not finding that unearthly brilliance that some seem to see in Converge. Am I listening to the wrong albums? If I check out Jane Doe will it hit me? "Oh, holy crap, these guys are unbelievable!! I get it now!!" What am I doing wrong here?

Somehow, everytime I hit Dillinger Escape Plan on amazon, the website does everything in its power to lead me to Converge, that's how I found Converge in the first place but it doesn't strike me as a logical match. You have DEP with their finesse and technical execution ... and then there's Converge. As far as I can tell, the Converge method of music is EVERYTHING LOUD AT ONCE ALL THE TIME NEVER RELENT UNTIL ABOUT TRACK 8. Guitars? Play them on 10. Bass? 10 also. Drums? Maybe 9.5. Vocals? Yeah, shred your larynx at 10 also. Variation? Nah. Just have everyone playing at 10 all the time, push people's car speakers to the very limit, keep it up all through the CD. Everyone in the band, set your amps at 10, 11 if you have the Spinal Tap special edition Marshals, and just bash out chord after chord, note after note.

And don't get me wrong. There's a place for that. If you had my job, you'd know there as a dire need for that once in a while. Yeah, I like their music ... I JUST DON'T SEE WHAT'S SO SPECIAL ABOUT IT. Everytime I throw in Colors by Between the Buried and Me, there's that "holy crap" feeling of amazement. I just don't get that with Converge and therein lies the problem. I just feel like I've been promised that kind of amazement and Converge's music just has not given me that. I guess I just need to drop those exceedingly high expectations and enjoy it the way I enjoy most albums. But from what people wrote, I half expected something with the complexity of Lateralus but that's more than an apples to oranges comparison. That would be like comparing apples to pork.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 12, 2011 11:21 AM PDT

Price: $10.99
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sea sickness never felt so good., December 11, 2007
This review is from: Leviathan (Audio CD)
You know, for years now, I've been wondering WHEN will a heavy metal band make an album based on the book, Moby Dick? And I've been waiting. In the 80s Motley Crue didn't step up to the plate. Nor did Poison. And that's why they suck. In the 90s Korn didn't do it. Metalica didn't have the vision or the balls to do it. And look at how far they've gone down. Will no one record an album based on Moby Dick? It seemed all hope was lost and as a result, problems in the Middle East would continue to fester...

... but wait. Someone has. Finally, Mastodon has done what many of us have been begging to see for decades, nay, centuries and life is finally complete.

OK, I'm being a bit silly. But there's a point there. In the raging sea of stupid music, there are still a few brave souls who step out to do something with some insight and intelligence. Of course no one has been asking for a Moby Dick metal album. There has never been a call for it. Yet Mastodon steps up and makes it and turns out a product far more meaningful than Jonathan Davis' continued whining about how hard life is (when you're a multi-millionaire.)

Mastodon's sound is every bit as big as the band's name implies ... without getting sucked into that stupid game of "harder core than thou." They put out an album with a pretty heady and educated concept behind it ... yet there is absolutely no trace of pretence. These guys are skilled, the musicianship is excellent ... without degenerating into "hey, mom, look at what I can do!" They just play their songs and leave them out in the sun for us to discover them if we're ever so lucky to come across them.

Yeah, it's a great concept. It's an album full of angst and isolation, and struggle without lowering itself to that level of pandering to kids who just graduated from middle school. There is a story here of singular obcession and isolation. When you are so focused on one thing, how far can you persue it before it destroys you. How alone will it make you? Listen to the album a few times and you'll start to get it. The protagonist is a man who is supremely alone. His company is irrelevant: he could be the only man on his boat or he could have a crew of a thousand, he is still so very alone and his only companion is this very unhealthy fixation which he hunts, refusing to recognize just how much it puts him in jepardy of complete destruction. How far can a man push himself, ignoring his slipping grasp on sanity? How long can a man ignore an isolation so great that it threatens to consume him as sure as the seas have consumed thousands of ships before his?

Now, I'm sure I've lost a lot of people by now but maybe I've got the attention of a few of you. Reward yourselves by checking this album out. Musically, it is every bit as good as the driving idea behind it. Like I said, no gimmics, no stupidity, just some mighty good music. It's effortlessly heavy without trying to outdo anyone or prove anything. The instruments tell a story as sure as the words do. At times, the music tells of an unhealthy rage against something that should best be left alone. At times, the guitars will force you to picture an angry, tempestuous sea battering your fragile boat, the winds rending your sails. Everything about the album feels huge without being bloated. It's all the artistry without the arrogance.

This is yet another band I wish I'd found a while ago, (but I was living in India, what was I supposed to do?) There is something so raw and primal about them, like something that crawled out from a dank cave but quickly learned to walk erect. They deserve your attention.

So check out this album. I like Blood Mountain a lot, it's also worthy of your attention, but it's Leviathan that gets my five star rating. Play it in your car at high volumes and go sail some unfriendly waters.

Rough Around the Edges: Live from Madison Square Garden
Rough Around the Edges: Live from Madison Square Garden
Price: $13.13
107 used & new from $0.01

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Knicks aren't the only thing that sucks at MSG!, November 18, 2007
To begin, I want to state that I wish to be fair to Dane Cook in this review. Here's why it's necessary: Take all 6 billion people on the planet. Now, subtract every person who has never heard of Dane Cook. Next, subtract Dane Cook.

What's left is a population that can be divided into three groups.

1. People who say things such as "oh my god! Dane Cook is like the best comedian, like ever!" People who think the man is a comic genius. And yes, when they declare opinions to the effect of Dane's shocking potency on the microphone, 9 times out of 10, they will unnecessarily include the word "LIKE." Folks, you are entitled to your opinion. But you're opinion is wrong, I'm sorry, it is. The first question I want to ask them is "and how many comedians do you know?"

2. People who arbitrarily LOATHE Dane Cook and everything about him, insisting there is absolutely NOTHING funny about the man and that every time you buy one of his albums a child in Sudan dies. They hate him for the sake of hating him. These folks are also wrong and unfair. Face it, the guy has been entertaining, accept it.

3. Reasonable folks. I'm in this category, or at least I try to be. I know there are WAY better comedians out there. Patton Oswalt, Todd Barry, Mike Birbiglia, Lewis Black, Carlin, etc. all far superior. But Dane is entertaining. He's made me laugh and I'm OK with that.

Now, with that said ... I WANTED TO LIKE THIS ALBUM. I WANTED IT TO BE GOOD ... mainly because it cost me money. I wasn't EXCITED to get the new DC album, I bought it cuz it was 10 bucks at Beast Buy.

I listened to it and I'm sorry, it's really awful. Really, it's dire, almost a complete abomination. I didn't laugh audibly once and trust me, I wanted to!! I was bored with it. He's just not a great comedy WRITER. Pointlessly and needlessly vulgar at times. Pointless sex humor with no real clever hook to it. The humor was really run of the mill.

And I'll add that I don't like comedy albums recorded in large venues. Small club recordings are better, period. To disagree with that statement is to be wrong. With that said, of all the large venue comedy recordings I've heard, THIS IS THE WORST HANDS DOWN!!

Understand this: I'm a pacifist. I have Amish blood in me, this is a fact. I'm not a violent person. But I want to murder every person who was in that audience in alphabetical order. Clueless. Pointless. Senseless. Just perfectly unnecessary screaming. It wasn't laughter, it was a bunch of idiots screaming in idolatry. In the 60s it would be idiot girls seeing the Beatles. In the late 90s it would be idiot girls seeing the Backstreet Boys or N*Suck. Mindless screaming without any real appreciation for the ACTUAL PERFORMANCE, only for the Golden Calf there on stage, to be in its presence and bow to it, risking the wrath of almighty God himself!! ... yes, scream, worship, obey. Just don't look to me for help when Moses comes strolling down Mt. Sinai to shove the ten commandments up your tail sideways.

Really, I think there were some folks in that audience who had no clue why they were laughing at any given point. And I kept hearing the same voices over and over screaming inanely. Whatever credibility Dane's performance might have had, the crowd just kills it and in very painful fashion. Could nothing have been done about that noise on CD? Sure, but we want the listeners to know that everyone in that building was totally marking out to the almighty Dane Train as it derailed in the Big Apple. Can't have anyone not be painfully aware of that, can we?

This album made my colon constrict. It's that bad.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 20, 2011 5:31 AM PDT

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