Tipping Point: Our picks and pans ('Many Saints of Newark,' Tears for Fears, 'Something Wicked' special edition)
The Tipping Point
Tears for Fears
Musically speaking, there are folks who'd be perfectly happy if it was still the mid-'80s. If you're one of those, then "Songs From the Big Chair" by Tears for Fears is probably an all-time album for you. Works for me! I don't think Tears for Fears has ever been anything but very-good-to-excellent, but their new single, "The Tipping Point," from a new album due early next year, could fit wonderfully in the middle of "Big Chair." There are haunting ambient notes recalling "Listen" and the gated Linn snare drum and 12/8 pattern associated with "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." Add their gift for hooky vocal melodies and a haunting call-and-response chorus — could this tune be about the loss of TFF songwriter Roland Orzabal's departed wife? — and "The Tipping Point" is one of the top singles of the year. Will it — or their impending first album in 17 years — resonate with a younger audience? Who cares? Bring back '85!
— Rick Koster
The Many Saints of Newark
Full disclosure: I never watched “The Sopranos.” (I didn’t have HBO, poor me.) I have seen clips since then, of course, but I went into this Tony Soprano prequel as a relatively blank slate. Which is probably why I liked it more than “Sopranos” aficionados did. “Many Saints” seems at first like a standard mob flick, but it gets more engrossing as it progresses. It focuses on Tony’s mentor, Dickie Moltisanti (played by Alessandro Nivola with a conflicted soul and plenty of charisma). In a bit of casting that could have gone horribly wrong, creator David Chase chose the late James Gandolfini’s son, Michael, to play the young Tony Soprano. While he doesn’t hint at Tony’s eventual darkness, Michael Gandolfini is quite a good actor, a real natural. And he’s joined by an (excuse the phrase) murderers’ row of actors, including Ray Liotta (in two roles!), Leslie Odom Jr., Jon Bernthal, Corey Stoll, and Vera Farmiga.
— Kristina Dorsey
Something Wicked This Way Comes special edition
I know what you're thinking. "Rick's a little behind. This book came out in 1961." You'd be correct in that date, but I'm a longtime fan and re-read the novel every few years. It's that timeless and that great. But I came across this recent Simon & Schuster deluxe paperback edition that features all sorts of archival material from Bradbury's own notes, including manuscript pages and outlines. Plus, there are reviews and critical essays on Bradbury and the book from a variety of literary fans including Margaret Atwood and Stephen King. If "Something Wicked This Way Comes" isn't the best coming of age story wrapped in a Halloween pumpkin ever written, it's certainly on the shortlist. This version is an ideal October companion.
— Rick Koster