My new Think Again column is called “Government by (and for) Murdoch” and it’s here.
This came out this week, too: “Eric Alterman often ends up the reasonable man in the room. He wears the label “liberal” in full view, but he brings integrity to his positions and confronts his opponents with intellectual honesty. One of the nation’s foremost media critics and a trained historian, he has insightfully diagnosed a chief malaise of contemporary journalism: it’s ignorance of American history. So who better than to acquit liberalism while pulling together a history of its development since Franklin Delano Roosevelt?"
—From the review of The Cause in America (the National Catholic Weekly), June 4-1, 2012, 19-24
Also this fine review in Democracy by Eric Rauchway.
Paul Simon, Graceland 25th Anniversary Collector’s Edition Box Set
This deluxe box set will get you lots of bonus tracks (a second CD of them, actually), a concert DVD and video clips from Saturday Night Live and the like, the documentary film Under African Skies (which is also available on Blu-ray separately), a big deluxe book featuring unreleased photos, new liner notes and a replica of Paul Simon’s handwritten lyrics pad. The not-quite-deluxe version, for a fraction of the price, will get you the original album, some demos and the documentary. Almost everybody loves this album and it’s not hard to justify the treatment, but the excessiveness of the box is obviously a matter of taste. Many fanatical types will have bits and pieces of the package already, including the 1987 concert film. What can one say? It was a masterpiece when it was released and it remains pretty great today. Amazon’s got some exclusive versions too, so take a look over there.
Heart, Strange Euphoria box set, three CDs, one DVD
There sure have been a lot of Heart “best of’s.” This one, curated by Ann Wilson and Nancy Wilson, is a mixture of hits, rarities, demos and live performances. Strange Euphoria consists of three CDs and one DVD, though some of the biggest hits are included not in their original versions but in demos or live versions, indicating that this is directed toward people who already have the basics. Personally I think “Magic Man” is one of the greatest rock songs ever, up there with Free’s “All Right Now” as a kind of ur-’70s guitars-and-vocals masterpiece. Anyway, most of the best-of’s ended before Heart started up again and did their side and solo projects, and this one collects bits and pieces from everything. The DVD provides a fifty-five-minute live performance recorded in 1976 at Washington State University’s television station, KWSU, and the sound quality is not bad at all.