Sunday, April 24, 2016

Remembering Prince: The Genius of Rock, Pop, Soul, and everything in between

It took me a couple of days to process the passing of Prince. He is my favorite musician of all-time. I was too shocked by the news, that I couldn't really say anything about it till now. Ever since I listened to the greatest hits collection issued in `93 when I was 15 years old, I have been a rabid fan, buying anything he put out (which led to some truly adventurous attempts to buy such rarities as Crystal Ball and New Power Generation). His music, the strangeness of it, the uniqueness of its sound, the magnificence of the guitar playing, the funkiness of the drum programming, was and always will be unlike anything else I've ever heard. I won't even mention his prowess as a live performer, or his legendary status as the greatest guitar player of all-time.

To me, Prince was the sound of my youth, the soundtrack to my writing, the musician who influenced me the most as a soundtrack composer. His world - the showy outfits, the obsession with the color purple, the overt spirituality, the moodiness of it all - always spoke to me, inspired me, touched me.

I always imagined that Prince would continue making music late into his seventies. I never thought he would die so soon. But an artist as talented as he was never really dies. I have his music, I have his concerts, and I have the memories of me as a kid listening to "1999" and "319" and "When Doves Cry" in my bedroom, imagining myself being as cool as he was, playing music as good as he did.

To this day, I consider Sign `O` Times (1987) one of the greatest albums ever. I think I am going to listen to that right now.

Rest in Peace and Love and Joy, Prince. We hear you.

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.

Review: Ash Vs. Evil Dead: Season 1

With the involvement of Sam Raimi, Ivan Raimi, and Bruce Campbell (the team behind the original Evil Dead films), there was no doubt in anybody's mind that Ash Vs. Evil Dead was going to be something special. The question was: How special is it going to be? Well, dear fans, the answer is very!

From the pilot episode (co-written and flashily directed by Sam Raimi), Ash Vs. Evil Dead establishes a demented, funny, an darkly entertaining tone, which is full of style and just the right dose of nostalgia. The addition of new characters to the mythology (especially Ray Santiago as Pablo and a kick-ass Lucy Lawless as the mysterious Ruby), opens up the scope of the storytelling, while injecting a healthy dose of freshness and energy to the series.

That's not to say that the series is perfect. It isn't. My biggest complaint is that, with the exception of the stunning final three episodes, set in the original cabin from Evil Dead and Evil Dead II, the series isn't scary enough, as Raimi and co. seem to be more interested in making the series closer in tone to Army of Darkness (over the top gags, plenty of gore, and laugh-out-loud dark humor), than the fiercely nightmarish Evil Dead and Evil Dead II. Also, the season's plotting, for the most part, is herky-jerky, with the myriad plot strands not meshing together as well as they should.

But what Ash Vs. Evil Dead gets right is enough to make the faults a minor nuisance. From the stunningly stylish visuals, to the stomach-churning make-up effects, to the awesomeness that's Bruce Campbell as Ash, there's plenty here to satisfy the most rabid fan of Evil Dead.

With a terrific finale that sets up a hell of a plot line for the coming season, Ash Vs. Evil Dead: Season 1 is a joy to watch from beginning to end. Groovy!

Text © Ahmed Khalifa. 2016.