Mixed Media

The Staples Singers Will Revive You With These Gospel and Soul Classics

| Tue Nov. 24, 2015 6:57 PM EST

The Staple Singers
Faith & Grace: A Family Journey 1953-1976

Not for gospel buffs only, the Staple Singers could make even a confirmed heathen feel blessed by the Holy Spirit. Featuring Roebuck "Pops" Staples and his children Mavis, Cleotha, and alternatively Pervis or Yvonne, the quartet evolved from local Chicago favorites to worldwide soul superstars over the course of a two-decade-plus run. Their sound drew its breathtaking beauty from the shimmering tremolo- and reverb-drenched guitar of Pops—a style his peers dubbed "nervous"—and the exuberant high harmonies of the four, with Mavis' powerhouse voice adding a thrilling jolt to the mix.

The earliest recordings on this fabulous four-disc set capture the Staples Singers at their most visceral. The live 16-minute medley "Too Close/I'm on My Way Home/I'm Coming Home/He's Alright" is downright hair-raising in its primal intensity. Curiously, the group's interaction with the like-minded folk movement of the early '60s resulted in some of their milder efforts in the form of a handful of Bob Dylan covers, although the lull was only temporary. Joining Stax Records in the late-'60s, they scored a series of secular-but-uplifting hits with foot-stomping songs like "Respect Yourself," "I’ll Take You There," and "If You're Ready (Come Go with Me)."

Pops passed away in 2000, but Mavis is still going strong today. In any case, Faith & Grace testifies to their illustrious achievements.

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John Oliver Slams Republicans Using Fearmongering Tactics to Refuse Syrian Refugees

| Mon Nov. 23, 2015 8:58 AM EST

On Sunday, John Oliver weighed in on the mounting refusal by many Republican governors to take in Syrian refugees in the wake of the deadly Paris attacks earlier this month.

"It is absolutely fair to be concerned about safety in the wake of these attacks, and it's fair to wonder who we're letting in or what kind of screening process in place," Oliver said. "Unfortunately, many of the people talking about it this week don't seem to have the first idea of what we're doing."

After displaying a montage of GOP politicians using baseless scare tactics to question the rigor of the current vetting process, the Last Week Tonight host deftly walked viewers through the intensive system all Syrian refugees must go through in order to be accepted into the United States.

"This is the most rigorous vetting anyone has to face before entering this country," he said. "No terrorist in their right mind would choose this path when the visa process requires far less effort. But nevertheless, the House still voted on Thursday to add a few more steps."

Oliver then singled out former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee for the fearmongering approach he's used to justify blocking refugees resettlement.

This Is the Greatest Correction I've Ever Read

| Thu Nov. 19, 2015 6:10 PM EST

Adele's new album is subliiiiiiiiiiime. Read our review.

Even Fox News Is Slamming Political Extremists for Refusing to Take in Refugees

| Tue Nov. 17, 2015 5:05 PM EST

Amid a growing chorus of Republican governors refusing to accept the settlement of Syrian refugees in their respective states—despite you know, the Constitution—Fox News' Shepard Smith made a rather surprising call for political extremists to reverse their stances and show some compassion to those escaping violence. 

"It seems to me we the people have the responsibility now to protect what we hold dear," Smith told viewers on Monday.

"We profess to stand as an example for all the world. Our unique experiment in freedom, tolerance, and equality is our gift to societies and peoples everywhere. Come join us. Enjoy a chance at the American dream. Today we mourn, but we cannot allow ourselves to become like those who want to destroy us."

Smith's heartfelt and measured exhortation was a welcome respite from much of the fear-mongering tactics some Republican politicians have been using in the wake of the deadly terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday. On Tuesday, Donald Trump went as far as to accuse President Obama of intentionally sending refugees only to Republican states, joining his fellow presidential candidate Mike Huckabee in suggesting "limousine liberals" of a NIMBY approach to taking in refugees. 

Adele's New Song Is Every Bit As Good As You Want It to Be

| Tue Nov. 17, 2015 12:34 PM EST

We were teased yesterday on Twitter and Facebook by an ad for an exclusive performance on 60 Minutes Australia. Now you can watch the full performance of Adele's new new song, "When We Were Young," the follow up to her first single in three years, "Hello", and the second song from the forthcoming album "25." The film clip is directed by Paul Dugdale, and shot at The Church Studios, the legendary north London recording spot.

For fans of Adele, the main feeling is relief—that it's a real comeback. Here's the conversation I had with Mother Jones creative director Ivylise Simones when she texted me urgently this morning with the link:

Here's that teaser for the 60 Minutes interview:

And just for the die-hard fans, here's a GIF of that diva moment, sized for Twitter's 2MB limit, to be used at your leisure:

Charlie Sheen Reveals He Is HIV Positive

| Tue Nov. 17, 2015 8:59 AM EST

Actor Charlie Sheen confirmed on Tuesday morning that he is HIV positive and has known about his diagnosis for about four years.

"I am here to admit that I am in fact HIV positive," he told Matt Lauer on the Today show.

"It's a hard three letters to absorb," he said. "It's a turning point in one's life."

The troubled television actor also revealed he has been the victim of several extortion plots and has paid people millions to keep them from going public with his diagnosis. Sheen told Lauer that the sexual partners he had unprotected sex with after he was diagnosed were being cared for by his doctor.

Sheen's revelation comes one day after a National Enquirer cover story speculated on his diagnosis. Rumors about the 50-year-old actor's health started swirling after several blind item reports were published, including a RadarOnline story that appeared two weeks prior. Many of the stories were believed to be pointing to Sheen.

"I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, that threaten the health of so many others that couldn't be further from the truth," he said on Tuesday, alluding to the mounting tabloid reports.

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This Video of a Guy Getting This Close to Obama and Putin Might Be the Best Video of the Year

| Mon Nov. 16, 2015 8:43 PM EST

For more than 30 minutes on Sunday, President Barack Obama could be seen huddling on the sidelines of the G20 summit meeting in Antalya, Turkey, in conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin and two aides, apparently hashing out a plan to deal with the chaos in Syria. "President Obama and President Putin agreed on the need for a Syrian-led and Syrian-owned political transition," the White House said.

Now, state-backed broadcaster Russia Today has released a video of the incident—in which a man seems to be trying to listen in on the high-stakes conversation between the leaders.

Look, I'm no fan of Russia Today, and its propaganda-choked airwaves. And it's true we don't know exactly what this guy is doing or what he's thinking. Homeboy might just be chilling out with that funny smirk and a truckload of self-consciousness, and his funny use of his cell phone, and the odd way he keeps glancing at the camera. We'll never know. But just look at that face. It's very funny:

Watch the full video, posted Monday:

h/t My friend Steph Harmon, out-going editor of Junkee. Congrats on the new gig.

John Oliver Unleashes Profanity-Laced Rant on Paris Attackers: "Fuck These Assholes"

| Mon Nov. 16, 2015 8:37 AM EST

Following the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, John Oliver began his show on Sunday by unleashing an impassioned, profanity-laced condemnation on the attackers responsible for the deadly siege.

"It's hardly been 48 hours and much is unknown, but there are a few things we can say for certain," Oliver started off. "And this is when it actually helps to be on HBO, where those things can be said without restraint, because after the many necessary and appropriate moments of silence, I'd like to offer you a moment of premium-cable profanity."

"First as of now, we know this attack was carried out by gigantic fucking assholes, unconscionable flaming assholes, possibly working with other fucking assholes, definitely working in service of an ideology of pure assholery," he said. "Second, and this goes almost without saying: Fuck these assholes.

"And third: It is important to remember, nothing about what these assholes are trying to do is going to work. France is going to endure."

The Last Week Tonight host continued to offer a message of hope for France, vowing terrorism will never succeed in the face of freedom.

These Just-Released Bob Dylan Recordings Go Behind the Scenes of His Iconic Albums

| Mon Nov. 16, 2015 6:00 AM EST

Bob Dylan
The Cutting Edge 1965-1966: The Bootleg Series Vol. 12
Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings

The archival Bootleg Series plumbing Bob Dylan's illustrious (and sometimes not so illustrious) history has produced such gems as the complete Basement Tapes and a compilation of his early Witmark publishing demos, but The Cutting Edge is far and away the most exciting entry yet. This dazzling six-disc set covers the period when Dylan plunged wholeheartedly into rock'n'roll and created one masterpiece after another, turning out Bringing It All Back Home, Highway 61 Revisited, and the two-record Blonde on Blonde in a frenetic 18-month burst of genius.

Consisting largely of previously unreleased material (actual bootlegs aside), The Cutting Edge collects early versions, rehearsals, alternates, and other fascinating leftovers from the sessions for those albums. What's immediately most striking is how hard Dylan and company worked in the pursuit of perfection, and how much songs evolved during recording. Want to hear "Like a Rolling Stone" as a waltz? "Visions of Johanna" as a spiky uptempo rocker? They're here, along with other classics-in-progress, and tantalizing orphans such as "Lunatic Princess," "You Don't Have to Do That," and "Sitting on a Barbed-Wire Fence." For those who want even more, there's a hefty (and pricey) 18-CD version available via Dylan's website.