Music » Culture Jamming

Here are the week's best releases from the pop-culture universe:


CD -- Family Tree: Nick Drake's been dead for 33 years, but this new set manages to exhume more than two dozen never-heard tracks by the morose singer-songwriter. Most of them were recorded as home tapes before Drake released his debut album. But the lo-fi sound lends the songs (including Bob Dylan's "Tomorrow Is a Long Time" and a Mozart composition) an appropriately haunting vibe.

VIDEO GAME -- Earth Defense Force 2017: What is it with giant bugs wanting to take over our planet? This third-person shooter for the Xbox 360 doesn't offer anything new to the already-saturated genre. But very few games are as literally explosive as this one. With more than 150 different kick-ass weapons (everything from rifles to flamethrowers) to choose from, laying waste to entire cityscapes for the good of mankind has never been so fun.

DVD -- The Henry Rollins Show: Season 1: Rollins is only as good as the guests who drop by his Independent Film Channel program. Fortunately, he had some pretty good ones during last year's inaugural season. All 20 episodes are collected here on three discs. Jeff Bridges, Kevin Smith, and Billy Bob Thornton join the former Black Flag singer in some good old-fashioned Bush-bashing. And Rollins' musical guests -- Dinosaur Jr., Sleater-Kinney, Thom Yorke -- put Leno's to shame.

CD -- Jersey Beat -- The Music of Frankie Valli & the 4 Seasons: Still lamenting the end of The Sopranos? This four-disc box (three CDs, one DVD featuring television appearances) includes more than 75 songs by every wiseguy's favorite '60s group. The chronological set spotlights the monster hits ("Sherry," "Big Girls Don't Cry"), the rock-snob-approved Genuine Imitation Life Gazette album, and solo smashes by Valli, who played -- what else? -- a mobster on The Sopranos.

DVD -- Welcome Back, Kotter: The Complete First Season: Before he wiggled his way into a size 26 dress for Hairspray, and even before he debated the merits of a Royale with Cheese, John Travolta was the breakout star of this '70s classroom sitcom. Originally a vehicle for stand-up comedian Gabe Kaplan, it's apparent from Travolta's first appearance (as lead Sweathog Vinnie Barbarino) who did the schooling.

COURTESY FLUSH, PLEASE -- The Bill Engvall Show: Like pal Jeff Foxworthy, Engvall tells countrified jokes that lovingly poke fun at rednecks, hillbillies, and other southern stereotypes. On his new television show (which premieres at 9 p.m. Tuesday on TBS), the Blue Collar TV vet plays a family counselor who can't keep his own wacky brood under control. The jokes are tired, dull, and unfunny. Yet another thing the red states should be ashamed of.

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