This high-speed action comedy stars Charlie Sheen as Jack Hammond, who has been given a life sentence for a bank robbery that he didn't commit. Hammond manages to escape, and while trying to avoid capture at a gas station, he ends up kidnapping Natalie Voss (Kristy Swanson); he threatens her with what she thinks is a gun, although it turns out to be a candy bar. Jack and Natalie take off in her BMW, with Jack unaware that his "victim" is actually Dalton Voss (Ray Wise), one of California's richest and most powerful land barons. Soon half the state's law enforcement officers and every member of the media is on Jack's tail as he races down the highway; in the meantime, Natalie and Jack get to know each other, and while she doesn't much care for him at first (as you might imagine), before long her attitude has softened quite a bit. Alternative rock fans might want to keep an eye peeled for Henry Rollins, playing a policeman, and Anthony Kiedis and Flea from The Red Hot Chili Peppers as a pair of yahoos with a very large truck.
The Unknown is saxophonist/composer Phillip Johnston's soundtrack to the 1927 silent film of the same name. As with much of Johnston's other work, the music here is a witty, often changing mix of sounds and styles from various eras. Appropriately, there is an emphasis on various film music archetypes, although not just from the silent film era, but from more modern times, too. The tracks weave in and out of frantic, polka-driven chase-scene themes, genteel waltzes, nostalgic parlor-room piano sections, sultry noir-jazz passages, and more. Johnston also adds in more modern elements, from dissonant horn harmonies and free-leaning improvisation to a few rock-oriented rhythms and even some electronic/synthesizer touches.
A posthumous collection of all of the Wonder Stuff's singles from 1987 to 1993, plus a cover of Slade's "Coz I Love You" from a charity compilation, If the Beatles had Read Hunter…the Singles is both a fine starting point and, for most, all the Wonder Stuff they'll ever actually need. Albums one and three, 1988's The Eight-Legged Groove Machine and 1991's Never Loved Elvis, are solidly entertaining (in wildly differing styles) throughout, but the rest of the group's output was fairly inconsistent. However, in the classic Brit-pop tradition pretty much all of the band's very best material, from the Kinks-like, music hall-style tune "The Size of a Cow" to the manic buzz of "Give Give Give Me More More More," was released as singles. There are a couple of iffy inclusions, particularly the frankly terrible version of Tommy Roe's "Dizzy," recorded in collaboration with British comedian Vic Reeves, but overall, this is a solid, completely representative overview. Those whose curiosity is stoked would do well to buy The Eight-Legged Groove Machine next.
Fans of Asia can celebrate with the release of this live album from bassist John Wetton, who recorded it during a tour of Japan. During the course of the seventeen tracks here, he covers a number of Asia tracks (starting with an acoustic version of "Heat of the Moment") along with material from his King Crimson and UK days. On the whole, it's okay, recorded fairly well and played professionally; the vocals are often mixed too far back, and some of the effects on the instruments (particularly acoustic guitars) are a little drastic even for this kind of music, but these are relatively minor things. It isn't a particularly compelling album, however – Wetton goes through the paces, and nobody flubs their part, but nothing stays once the album is done: even the King Crimson material didn't generate much interest (in fact, "Easy Money" is performed in such a way that it's close to annoying).