[Album Review] "O, Yeah" – Aerosmith

Ultimate Aerosmith Hits - AerosmithAlbum Title: O, Yeah: Ultimate Aerosmith Hits
Artist: Aerosmith
Year: 2002
Running Time: 142m 7s

Track listing: [DISC 1] 1 Mama Kin; 2 Dream On; 3 Same Old Song and Dance; 4 Seaons of Wither; 5 Walk This Way; 6 Big Ten Inch Record; 7 Sweet Emotion; 8 Last Child; 9 Back In The Saddle; 10 Draw The Line; 11 Dude (Looks Like A Lady); 12 Angel; 13 Rag Doll; 14 Janie’s Got a Gun; 15 Love In An Elevator; 16 What It TakesĀ  [DISC 2] 1 The Other Side; 2 Livin’ On The Edge; 3 Cryin’; 4 Amazing; 5 Deuces Are Wild; 6 Crazy; 7 Falling In Love (Is Hard On The Knees); 8 Pink (the South Beach mix); 9 I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing; 10 Jaded; 11 Just Push Play (radio remix); 12 Walk This Way (w/ Run DMC); 13 Girls of Summer; 14 Lay It Down; Bonus Tracks: 15 Come Together; 16 Theme from Spiderman; 17 Toys In The Attic

I know, I know. It’s like the fourth greatest hits collection from Aerosmith. Well, actually it’s the sixth apparently. Following on from last year’s release from Geffen (“Young Lust”), this collection differs as it encompasses the band’s entire career on one release for the first time. And just like the previous collection, this one is wroth having too.

Starting with hits from their eponymouse 1973 debut album (‘Dream On’, ‘Mama Kin’), we get a collection that surprisingly brings us the perenially under-rated ‘Seasons of Wither’ and the jazzy big-band cover version of ‘Big Ten Inch Record’. The seventies hits continue on disc one with massive hits singles ‘Walk This Way’, ‘Sweet Emotion’, ‘Back in the Saddle’ and ‘Draw the Line’ before jumping forward a decade to the comeback era of ‘Dude’, ‘Angel’ and ‘Rag Doll’.

On disc two, the hugely successful “Get A Grip” album is well represented with end-of-the-world lament ‘Livin’ On The Edge’ and the infamous ‘Alicia Silverstone’ trio of ‘Cryin’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Amazing’. The move to Sony brought more hits with ‘Falling in Love’ and a remix of the Grammy award winning ‘Pink’ as well as recent smash hit ‘Jaded’ and a remix of the title track of their “Just Push Play” album.

I know that thirty years of existence means that you can’t include everything, and while it is a relief that the likes of marginal tracks such as ‘Eat the Rich’, ‘Shut Up And Dance’, ‘Hole in my Soul’, ‘Blind Man’ and ‘Walk On Water’ are not here, it is also disappointing to note that tracks from 1982’s “Rock In a Hard Place” and 1986’s mediocre “Done With Mirrors” have been omitted. There’s also no room for ‘Angel Eye’ from the “Charlies Angels” soundtrack or the brilliant ‘Sunshine’ from 2001’s “Just Push Play”.

And why is the classic ‘Toys in the Attic’ only a bonus track on some releases of the album while two versions of ‘Walk This Way’ are included? A mystery.

But overall it’s a great collection and a fitting testament to a band that have survived because they have adapted so well. A new alubm is slated for release in 2003 – a return to ‘blues roots’ they say, but they’ve been saying that for years. I’ll believe it when I hear it. Meanwhile, enjoy.



[Movie Review] Red Dragon

Red DragonStarring: Edward Norton, Anthony Hopkins, Ralph Fiennes, Emily Watson, Harvey Keitel
Director: Brett Ratner
Genre: Thriller
Cert: 18
Released: 2002

I love watching prequels. It’s so much fun watching “Star Wars Episode II” and knowing that Luke’s dad takes a trip to the darkside in future movies. Eh…in “The Amityville Horror Part II”, we see the possession and mass-murder that led to the haunted house portrayed in the first movie. True story, apparently.

“Red Dragon” is such a prequel. Except it’s not. To the uninitiated it is a prequel to the 1991 Oscar winner “Silence of the Lambs”. But for those who trawl through the back catalogue of their local video store, they will probably know that it is a remake of Michael Mann’s 1986 sleeper, “Manhunter”. So to some it will be a brand new experience and to others it’ll be case of ‘been there, rented the video’. Anyway…

FBI agent Will Graham (Norton – “Fight Club”, “Primal Fear”, “American History X”) is on the track of a serial killer with the help of criminal psychologist, Hannibal Lecter (Hopkins – “Bad Company”, “Hannibal”, “Meet Joe Black”, “M:I-2”). But a penny drops and Graham realises that the killer is actually Lecter himself. He captures him but not before the doctor puts a stilletto in his gut. Lecter is jailed and Graham retires.

Roll forward a few years and a new series of grisly murders are stumping the police. FBI Chief Jack Crawford (Keitel – “Mean Streets”, “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs”) pursuades Graham to help them solve the case. Of course Graham can’t do it all by himself and so he must go and see Lecter in order to get some assistance. Needless to say there is a bit of tension between the pair and a cat and mouse game begins between Lecter, Graham and the murderer himself, nicknamed ‘The Tooth Fairy’.

I haven’t seen “Manhunter” so comparisons are out the window. But while I presume the well-received “Manhunter” worked very well, “Red Dragon” simply doesn’t. When “LA Takedown” got ported from TV and became “Heat” in 1995, it was presumed that it would have been overhauled to suit the big budget, the big stars and the big screen. It wasn’t, and it suffered as a result.

“Red Dragon” encounters a similar fate. The script is at times pitiful. The banal dialogue that flows (stutters?) between Graham and Crawford is unconvincing. Crawford comes to see Graham at his retirement home on the beach, and to paraphrase, we endure a scene of: ‘why me?’; ‘because you’re the best’…blah blah blah. Norton, versatile and intriguing as an actor, is left with a cardboard cut out character that he can do very little with. There’s no personality or humour and when he does inject some during a later scene with Emily Watson, it’s a sign of what could have been.

The story is not that bad, but the bad guy is – in more ways than one. It doesn’t take long after the cast list rolls to guess who plays ‘The Tooth Fairy’. A hugely disturbed and troubled character needs a suitable actor. It’s the fulcrum of the whole picture, and it just doesn’t work.

Brett Ratner was a surprise chocie for director. With credits that include the “Rush Hour” movies (with a third one to come) and the 2000 minor hit “The Family Man”. While he doesn’t hang about, getting us into the thick of things within minutes, he must take responsibility for the seeming absurdity of much of the movie. Maybe it takes itself a bit too seriously, maybe it’s just not loose enough. I don’t know. It’s disappointing though.

I’m not going to moan about everything. Emily Watson (“Breaking the Waves”, “Gosford Park”) does a decent job in a limited but demanding role as a blind love-interest for our villain, and Philip Seymour-Hoffman (“The Talented Mr Ripley”, “Almost Famous”, “State and Main”, “The Big Lebowski”, “Magnolia”) is fast becoming one of Hollywoods most entertaining supporting characters.

“Red Dragon” is watchable but I think I’ll check out “Manhunter” and see where they went wrong.