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Headsup: Little House, Little Village and a Big Boxed Set

An ongoing attempt to make sense of the onslaught of new swag that people want you to buy. Should you? I’ll try and help.

Tapestry the Legacy Edition by Carole King CD Cover Art
Sudden Impact soundtrack CD cover art

Sony Legacy has released one of their nifty Legacy Editions of Carole King’s Tapestry. These editions always have bonus bits on them that usually make them worth snagging, even if you have the original already–and that’s what I’m here to do is to let you know what’s what. This has the original album, just as it was remastered previously, but with a second disc featuring songs from the album performed live with just Carole and the piano from 1973 and 1976. These performances haven’t been released before, so if you’re a King fan, you’re going to want this. If you want to try it out, skip to the bottom of this post and I’ll have the MP3 samples from Amazon so you can try before you buy. But it’s a classic album with a worthy re-release in my opinion. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

So, Lalo Schifrin. He’s one of those composers who you know, even if you don’t know them. This is the guy who brought you the badass soundtrack for Bullitt, the score for Enter the Dragon, the theme to Mission: Impossible and scads more. He’s got 194 items listed with a composer credit on the IMDB. Not bad. He’s also the composer for Dirty Harry, having started with the franchise at the beginning in 1971. And this 1983 film, Sudden Impact, was the fourth in the series. I believe this is the first time it’s officially hit CD and it’s out from Aleph Records. If you’re a big fan of Schifrin’s work or of Dirty Harry, you’ll want to consider picking this up. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder Audiobook CD Cover Art
Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis CD Audiobook Cover Art
Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes Audiobook CD Cover Art

[ad#longpost]When it comes to Little House on the Prairie, I think this is the book series that puts the lie to the idea that children are as unstable and fragile as we think–and that their reading material has to be reduced to the level of pablum. The reason I say this is that even before these started coming across our desk here on audiobook, all I ever heard about the series–a family-friendly classic–is scenarios like this: “Well, that was the time they had to wait out the winter and everyone almost died. Then they got kicked off their land and had to cross to a new bit of land and everyone almost died. Then there was that time in the creek where so-and-so had scarlet fever, a plague of locusts attacked them, the river turned into blood and the wagon nearly tipped over and everyone almost died. Twice.” That is NOT an accurate representation of any plot points in this book, but it just serves to illustrate my point. This series seems to be pretty hardcore for little kids and they seem to get through it just fine. So go figure. Performed by Cherry Jones, this is unabridged on Harper Children’s Audio. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Harper Audio has also reissued Prince Caspian in a “movie tie-in” edition, which is fancyspeak for “We changed the cover.” Ordinarily, this would be the sort of thing where I’d tell you to pick this up if you haven’t already–because Lynn Redgrave’s the reader, and that’s flat out quality right there. Trouble is, this goes for $18 or so on Amazon, and it’s hard for me to tell you to snag it considering you can get all seven unabridged audiobooks in this set, each performed by incredibly capable readers like Patrick Stewart and Derek Jacobi and such, for $47. There is a bonus bit that was added that I don’t believe comes on the uberset, but I haven’t broken it out to check because frankly it’s not worth it. You pop it in and the CD-ROM enhanced stuff is links to Harper, and some illustrations. They’re nice, but a dozen or so pics is hardly a bonus. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Kevin Henkes is the creator of Lilly, the heroine from Lilly’s Purple Plastic Purse and other books regarding mice. He’s an excellent creator of children’s books, which is rare. Seriously, have you tried to look for kids’ books these days? Most of them are crap. Now he’s writing young adult prose–Bird Lake Moon concerns two boys hanging out over the course of a summer, becoming friends and having to deal with differing flavors of loss. Good for a short trip, it clocks in at three and a half hours, unabridged over three discs. It’s read by Oliver Wyman. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything DVD Cover Art
Cranford DVD Cover Art

Okay, so here’s a big box: Absolutely Fabulous: Absolutely Everything. It’s probably the most truthful DVD title in some time. You do get all five seasons of the series and all the specials. There’s also a behind the scenes bit, “Absolutely Fabulous: A Life,” the original sketch “Modern Mother and Daughter,” some French & Saunders sketches, the pilot Mirror Ball episode, “Joanna Lumley on Modeling,” outtakes and commentary by Saunders and Jon Plowman. Here’s the thing, though: if you’ve bought up all the DVDs that have come before and you’re wondering, do I need to buy this? Well, the answer is yes if you’re a completist. Or if you want the nice limited edition packaging. But if all you care for is content, then from what I can tell–and it’s been a bitch to try to compare this to all the other versions to make sure nothing’s missing–I think you’ve already got everything that’s here. This is the ubermongo set that I guess will close this out for the time being. So: if you’ve been holding out because you wanted to get everything in one fell swoop, now’s your chance. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

Cranford is a BBC miniseries that puts a small English village squarely in the path of oncoming modernity. Whether it’s medicine or ice cream or education or the railroad, things that we take for granted are trotted out as novelty for the characters in this series–some are welcomed, some considered controversial. And all are discussed in depth by a network of women who gossip and converse about everything. The cast for this is excellent: Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins, Imelda Staunton and Michael Gambon among them. Five hours of viewing time across two discs, this also comes with a making-of featurette. (Click here to buy it from Amazon.)

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