Ricky Flake: Speed metal, Gershwin and Asperger's

By Ricky Flake

This week's column kicks off with a Texas speed metal band I'd never heard before, followed by Willie Nelson dipping into the Gershwin songbook and Microcosm founder Joe Biel's autobiography. Enjoy!

'Welcome To Your Funeral: The Story Of Rigor Mortis (Part 1),' Rigor Mortis (MVDvisual, HHHH½)

This Feb. 12 DVD tells the story of Texas speed metal band Rigor Mortis from beginning to their controversial 1987 Capitol Records contract. The Michael Huebner documentary is narrated by former Pantera vocalist Phil Anselmo and directed by late RM lead singer Bruce Corbitt.

The unique guitar style of Mike Scaccia, prodigious bassist Casey Orr and Harden Harrison's powerful drumming came together through partying and younger bands' flame-outs. Corbitt came onboard after probation for a drug bust and relieved Orr from having to sing lead while playing bass. The band had a brutal demo and a notorious, violent reputation that caused record labels and local promoters much concern; but they were signed to Capital by young A&R rep Rachel Matthews.

Unfortunately, the film ends soon after. I will be waiting for Part 2.

'Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin,' Willie Nelson (Legacy Recordings, HHHH)

This Feb. 26 CD presents the 2015 Library of Congress Gershwin Prize winner singing 11 Gershwin classics in his own unmistakable style along with harmonicat Mickey Raphael, co-producer/collaborator Buddy Cannon and other top-notch players. Willie's known for his songwriting, but one of his best-selling albums is "Stardust" from 1978, which has been certified quadruple platinum and is in the Grammy Hall of Fame.

My favorites include the hopefully swinging "Somebody Loves Me," "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" (with Cyndi Lauper and a nifty harp solo), the witty "They All Laughed," the gentle "They Can't Take That Away From Me" and the subtle title song.

Fans of Willie's approach to the American songbook will really dig this one.

'Good Trouble: Building A Successful Life & Business with Asperger's,' Joe Biel (Microcosm Publishing, HHHH)

Joe Biel is the founder of Microcosm Publishing, and part of this March 15 book details the company's progress from a DIY, collective-managed entity through its evolution to the more prosperous but still-subversive company of today.

Joe's lengthy relationship with a caustic, argumentative, self-centered girlfriend who became his wife is hard to understand, but it evolved partially from a dysfunctional childhood with a father who had a debilitating stroke when Joe was about 6, making his mother the only active parent in the worst possible way.

Joe's health, other relationships, Asperger's diagnosis/coping and the evolution of Microcosm into today's much-more successful model wind up an interesting, fascinating, informative and occasionally frustrating read.

Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at flakericky@gmail.com