Music » Culture Jamming

Country Comfort

An enduring songbird tops this week's pop-culture picks.


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Bob Dylan's, Gram Parsons', and Neil Young's BFF Emmylou Harris.
  • Bob Dylan's, Gram Parsons', and Neil Young's BFF Emmylou Harris.
TOP PICK -- Emmylou Harris: Songbird: Rare Tracks and Forgotten Gems
This five-disc box (four CDs, one DVD) includes more than 75 songs from Harris' illustrious, nearly 40-year career. There are plenty of unreleased and overlooked solo performances here, but the singer-songwriter truly shines as a duet partner on cuts with Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, and Elvis Costello. From twangy country to moody pop, Songbird echoes the sound of splendid elegance.

VIDEO GAME -- John Woo Presents Stranglehold
This shooter (for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC) plays just like one of director Woo's action-packed movies. Specifically, it springboards from the cult classic Hard Boiled, whose pistol-packing detective takes on a ruthless crime boss here. Woo's trademark style is splattered all over the game -- from two-gun shootouts to a graceful ballet of bullets. Best of all, the Tequila Time feature spotlights carnage in slow motion, so each and every bloody hit can be savored.

CD -- Pink Floyd: The Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd's debut -- made with original frontman Syd Barrett, before he fractured his mind with drugs -- remains one of the '60s' greatest freak-outs. This three-disc 40th-anniversary deluxe edition includes the album in stereo and mono mixes, plus all of the band's singles and B-sides from the period. The special packaging adds one of Barrett's notebooks, filled with scribbles and collages -- which look pretty much like the record sounds.

VIDEO GAME -- Stuntman: Ignition
Gamers play as lead-footed daredevils on a Hollywood movie set in this neat twist on the driving genre (for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 2). Get behind the wheel and perform three dozen different kinds of stunts in six tire-squealing action flicks. Obstacles include lava pits, big-ass trucks, and gravity-defying ramps. The most spectacular feats unspool in explosive movie trailers at the end of each level.

DVD -- The TV Set
This terrific film stars David Duchovny as a harried writer steering his extremely personal TV project through pilot season. Needless to say, the finished product looks nothing like the original pitch. Sigourney Weaver, Ioan Gruffudd, and Judy Greer round out the superb cast in this super-sharp satire of television's vapid audience and insipid programmers. Little surprise that the network's biggest hit is a reality show called Slut Wars.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- Bling: A Planet Rock
Million-dollar rings and 25-pound medallions are more than hip-hop accessories; they're an integral part of the culture. This DVD claims to be an in-depth examination of Sierra Leone's "blood diamond" trade. Rappers like Raekwon and Paul Wall visit West Africa, where they meet soldiers, people with missing limbs, and various other victims of bling. But the doc ends up exploitative and counterproductive: For all their finger-wagging, the filmmakers sure show a lot of rappers proudly rocking their big, shiny gems.

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