The Fifties Express

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Producer: William Brown

Timeframe: 1950s

Locations: USA, Canada

Length: 52 minutes

Source: Irving E. August

Irving August is a notable railroad Cinematographer, from the 1950s. This impressive all color collection, is a wide ranging one. Covering a variety of lines, in the United States, and Canada.

Steam and early diesel. Electrified lines. Freight and passenger trains. An ore hauler. A tourist line.vlcsnap-2019-05-31-17h24m31s999

Mr. August filmed in high quality 16mm! A mixture of music, and train sounds. No additional extras.

Rege Cordic is the familiar voice on WB Video. He does a professional job.

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At under an hour, the pace is fast. Some of the edits are abrupt. Given the limitations of the period equipment. He probably ran out of film. For the rarity, it is a wash. Rather see those trains.

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Each railroad is billboarded. The corresponding footage is then shown. The earliest date quoted is 1950.

There is even more! Here are some highlights. Figure that it was probably the best of his own feels. More or less.

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Canadian National is west of Montreal.

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Boston and Maine. Pacific power on locals.

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New Haven is chased on a fantrip.

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Baltimore and Ohio. Action packed. Plenty of trains here Steam and diesel.

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Western Maryland, is using steam and diesels. Mid-train helpers and pushers.

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Milwaukee Road Little Joe electric locomotives, in rarely seen paint.

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New York Central has several trains.

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Nickel Plate Road, shared the right of way with New York Central, in Westfield, Ohio. Number 748 is one of the Berkshire class.

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Norfolk and Western, is one of the longest chapters. Although, there are no designated chapters, on a menu. Focus on the behemoth Y-6 class. The 600 series passenger locomotives are seen.

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An unusual scene. N&W work train in a backup move.

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Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. Another extensive visit. Yellowstone’s, for certain.

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Canadian Pacific receives lengthy attention around scenic Kicking Horse Pass. Including some footage from a passenger car.

vlcsnap-2019-05-31-18h01m04s354Two for CP. Need a Selkirk. A beauty!

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Northern Pacific steam is hard to find. Irving has some here.

vlcsnap-2019-05-31-17h54m35s448A large coaling tower gives the feel of keeping large steam in service. Northern Pacific.

vlcsnap-2019-05-31-17h18m24s280Similar scene on Central Vermont.

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Caboose on Duluth, Missabe and Iron Range. The majority of cabooses were shades of red. These are standouts!

The Fifties Express

An Express tour seeing over a dozen railroads in the fabulous 1950’s. A fine presentation. Suitable for family viewing.

Rating: 5 Stars

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Ohio Steam in the ’50’s

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1950s

Locations: Ohio

Length: 1 hour 40 minutes

Source: Ed Birch, Sr.

A fabulous collection of classic steam. Filmed during the 1950s. Ed Birch shot all of this, in full color. He was on a high level.  This covers several railroads.

Baltimore and Ohio, Nickel Plate, New York Central plus Pennsylvania Railroad. Special guest stars, are big Santa Fe 5000 class power!

There is even a little Grand Trunk Western. Cameos of Detroit interurbans.

A sprinkling of early diesels appear.

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There is no Chapter Menu. No maps either. Dubbed sound for the trains. Good sound levels. Some scenes work better than others.

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Carrothers Tower, with Pennsylvania Railroad signage

 Narration by Aaron Gonthier. Basic script. Locomotives and locations. Additional information.

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Excellent looking films! Some occasional flaring. Very clean. Fine Cinematography.

Too much to get it all here. Hit some highlights. Not in running order.

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Baltimore and Ohio had moved steam into this area. Their behemoth, EM-1 can be found operating with a Pacific. Going to Wheeling. 

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EM-1, in a flurry of scenes around the yard.

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Ride into Deschler. On a B&O passenger train. Quick trip. Much happens at busy Deschler station. The inclusion of railroad structures are valuable.

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4618 leaves Deschler, with a friendly wave from the Engineer.

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5301  Cincinnatian. Streamlined Pacific stops at Deschler. Ride this train to Toledo.

 

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New York Central. Niagara 6014 departs with a passenger train. Toledo.

 

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Central Union Terminal. A modern passenger station. Built in 1950.

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Grafton, West Virginia. An important B&O facility. A good visit there.

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B&O 4453 getting water. Fascinating scene, 50 ton hoppers elevated.

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Cincinnatian to Detroit. PCC cars on Woodward Ave.

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Grand Trunk Western Station. Milwaukee Junction.  See the locomotive service area. A bit dark. Time of day perhaps. Notice, how they do not promote this segment.

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Sandusky in 1956. ATSF 2-10-4 engines on lease. Model Railroaders will find plenty of freight cars in the trains.

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Berkshire 776 has picked up orders at Bellvue. Nice sequence.

 

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A Santa Fe 5000 class, on the: Mansfield to Carrothers, Pennsylvania Railroad line.

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Attica Jct. This tower gives a sense of size to the large 2-10-4 Santa Fe steam engines. Note the man at the bottom of the stairs.

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Tiffen, on the Pennsylvania. A PRR J1

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B&O Q4 Mikado paced sequence.

vlcsnap-2019-05-13-17h43m34s743A Nickel Plate Road Berkshire, meets newer diesels. This was the near the end for steam on NKP.

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Baltimore and Ohio caboose,with an older paint scheme. Look at those colors!

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Nickel Plate Road, with High Speed Service.

Excellent program that exceeded expectations. Non- stop action of classic transition era trains. Variety of locomotives and the railroads are intriguing.

Ed Birch’s work, will stand with any of the well known Cinematographers. Outstanding composition. This man knew how to film a train!

This show is a must see for any steam fan.

Great for family viewing. You might find yourself wishing for more…

Rating: 5 Stars

The Heritage Collection, Volume 1

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Producer: Pentrex

Timeframe: 1940 – 1950s

Locations: USA

Length: 1 hour 35 minutes

Five vintage films from the 1940s and ’50s. Professionally produced by the Railroad organizations of the time. Most, if not all of these have circulated. Convenient to have a group on a single DVD.

A detailed Chapter Menu breaks them down by the five movie titles.  A Play All option, as well.

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These shall be reviewed by individual title. All are narrated. Full color films.

A roll up and combined rating upon completion.

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Burlington Route FT set. One of the myriad of rarities.

On The Track 

AAR short film of 1950s era. Dudley Productions.  A shared theme of America produces, and ships by rail. Wide variety of railroads passby the camera.  

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There are a number of famous landmarks. Prosperous, post war America. There are similar films made during this time.

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Covers much subject matter in about 15 minutes. Historical look back into time. Heavy industry is one focus.

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Plenty of early diesels. F and E units dominate. A few odd, Alco and Baldwin units. Several steam locomotives.

 

Life – Line of the Nation

Another Carl Dudley Production. Don McNamara has the narrator credit.

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An earlier film. Deals with World War 2. The valuable role of US railroads to move the military. The industry to manufacture equipment.

C&O 1490 is shown above.

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Hence, a National defense theme. Milwaukee Road box cab electrics.

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Get busy identifying what you see in all of these shows. Look closely…

Florida East Coast!

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Milwaukee Road Hiawatha. Nice runby!

Runs about 20 minutes. Plenty of steam.

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Rare, New York Central Empire State Express.

Early diesels in small numbers here.

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The might of the US industrial complex, to support the war effort. Cooperation amoung the railroads to move everything.

The responsibility of the railroads to keep the peace time America rolling.

 

225,000 Mile Proving Ground

A 1958 produced, Association of American Railroads. Dudley Pictures.

The Headline Story of Railroad Research.

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The subtitle sums up where this movie short is going. These old films do like to emphasize just how well they are doing!

This Union Pacific Turbine, is the future.

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The science of Railroading. Metallurgy, as in more durable rail is one subject. Freight car design and uniform improvements.

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Improved refrigerator equipment. Santa Fe.

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Modern hump yard.

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Modern signaling for reliable train movements. Great Northern.

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Boxcars are constantly improved.

America’s 225,000 rail miles are the proving ground for so much technology.

Suffice it to say, A Chicago headquarters, was at the forefront, of the leading edge.

Railroads and National Defense

Dudley Pictures. Korean War era.

America: with natural resources, industrial might and a strong military. Ready to meet any challenge. Transportation is the key.

 

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This short is packed with early diesels!

Missouri – Kansas – Texas E units. MKT.

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This one reassures the public, that our railroads are more than ready to move the military.vlcsnap-2019-04-28-20h15m48s775

By now, you will notice the recycling of some footage. Remember, the producers were doing these films separately. They would have never dreamed of a single DVD!

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Seaboard train

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Buses move troops to the trains. Going to embarkation areas.

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Runs about 12 minutes. Many of the same trains seen previously. Like this Monon.

In a way, seen one, seen them all with these old short films. They vary somewhat. Yet, are quite similar.

Mainline USA

Also an AAR release from the 1950s. Dudley Pictures. Gilmore is this narrator.

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Probably the best of this collection. Many diesels. Pennsylvania Baldwin Sharks.

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Rock Island TA.

Again with the greatest America.

Same recycled footage. Much new and additional film.

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This one contains the largest selection of diesels. Western Maryland trio, in fireball paint scheme.

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Baltimore and Ohio F7A.

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Advances, such as truck trailers on flatcars.

Runs about 20 minutes.

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The Heritage Collection, Volume 1

Pentrex has delivered on the advertised. These vintage short films are of a historical nature. Repeat scenes, no extra charge!

Years ago, many old train films were difficult to obtain. Much has surfaced over the decades. There are still some rare birds. Although, only a quick glimpse of each.

Overall, an authentic period collection. Has trains, and much more. One viewpoint of American life. May or may not, be of interest.

Rating: 3 1/2 Stars

 

Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany RR

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1934-1989

Locations: B&A

Length:1 hour

Sources: Blackhawk collection

This comprehensive, historical overview is complete. History from the 1830s. Films dating back to the 1930’s, document the constant activity.

The Conrail era brings the B&A current, as of the production year. Conrail footage bookends the story.

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The writers dove deep on this program. Lecturing on the early incarnations, that were later rolled into the larger company.

Frequent map usage illustrates the territories. Multiple maps are posted of various areas. Extremely helpful for those who are unfamiliar, with this region.

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This program is approximately: one half, black and white, film. High quality footage, for the most part. All of this, is shot very well. Also, Hudson class steam galore!

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The diesel era is in quality, color film and video. This includes some cab rides.

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Majority of the film sourced audio, would be dubbed. Video of Conrail should be live. A fine sounding show.

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Ted Daluku performs his usual pro level narrative. The script is very well written. Chronological progress makes it easy, for even non railfan viewers to follow. Steam to diesel. Good for family viewing.

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Steam powered 20th Century Limited trains are shown.

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A 1932 Chevy gives chase to this train!!

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Away he goes…

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Checkout the heat running in that old, snow covered caboose. Baby, it’s cold outside!

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RDC car provides some interurban service.

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New York Central, with rare Alco RS 32 models.

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The Penn Central is a part of the Boston & Albany story. Much more coverage in Vol.2.

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Amtrak SDP40F proved unsatisfactory.

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Very early Conrail merger. No blue paint.

 

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The only misstep in my opinion. The title of the two volumes. I was expecting the likes of Starucca Viaduct. After some research. Whistler’s Arches were flood damaged. Abandoned. That’s it?

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Whistler’s Western – The Boston & Albany.

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A traditional approach has been used to present, The Boston and Albany Railroad. Say what you will about traditional. One truth is. Traditional becomes tradition, because it works!

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A&R has covered all the bases. Done their homework. Organized it all in a clear and concise presentation. Kept it nicely paced. Interesting history and brought current.

That is easier said, than done.

Excellent work!

Rating: 5 Stars

 

 

New York, New Haven & Hartford Volume 2

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Producer: A&R

Timeframe: 1940/50s

Locations: CT

Length: 90 min.

Sources: Paul Wales, Gary Gurske

An grab- bag assortment of: train rides, cab rides, caboose ride and trainwatching. Also, a radio slideshow interview, with a radio chatter insert, that doesn’t belong. Limited, good bonus section of a little; B&A, CN,CV, plus NYC. Late 1940s into 1950s.

 

The vintage mixture of films. Mostly color. Overall good, but variable condition. An early black and white train ride, has so much camera bounce, as to be unwatchable. Other various rides are better quality. Locomotive cab rides are even, much smoother.

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Unrestored films, as we generally see from A&R. The slides are excellent quality. Yet, this should be a video.

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Audio is ranging from silent, to ambient sound. Sound levels get loud at times. Somewhat unbalanced, to be critical. Although, those steam engines do get attention. The radio interview audio plays at a lower volume. That is harder to understand.

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The show is narrated by Aaron Gonthier. Information also varies. Maps are used earlier in the show. No Chapter Menu.

vlcsnap-2019-02-27-21h24m01s426Steam to diesel transition era. Keeps this main portion unpredictable. Really interesting. Never know what is next.

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Crossing guard shanty.

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This man liked to film wrecks. Steam cranes at work, on multiple sites. Watch this Alco FA get pulled up from it’s side. An extensive look at this wreck in particular.

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A cornucopia of action. Fan trips dating back to the 1950s.

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Classic Alco RS led local freight.

 

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Cab rides galore! RDC cars are present too.

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Super rare New York Ontario & Western FT. Parked at an engine facility.

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Plenty of steam engines. New Haven fans will be satisfied.

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Let’s look at this odd inclusion. The old timer taped on the radio! Mr. Healey retired from the New Haven. A radio interview, is included with him. This is accompanied by a slideshow. No slides shown in this review.

Healey held multiple craft positions in the steam era. Dispatcher to fireman. More info, with his father serving 54 years, as well. Interesting background and insight to railroad service life.

Although, I do not know believe there is much replay value on this interview. Plus the lower sound quality.

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Another strange inclusion. Random train radio chatter. The way this is inserted is a distraction! Maybe little children would enjoy this. Not good. Drags it down!

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The interview declines into a never neverland of who knows what. This radio chatter randomness, is a genuine turn-off. I had to suffer through this crap for a complete review! For kids. Who cares… Edit..edit..edit.. Back to the interview?

Plays like nonsense…

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A Penn Central era scene appears.

 

Bonus footage. Central Vermont steam. Silent with narration. Willamatic. Candian National FM C liners. Notice how the silent passages win any argument for having sound. Looks great, boring!

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All of a sudden. Sound returns. Vintage New York Central. Last run of a Niagara. Some Boston and Albany shots. Plus…wait for it….

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Boston and Maine! Steam and diesel. Now we are cooking. If for just a few minutes.

New York, New Haven & Hartford Volume 2.

This show has some bright spots. Rarities. It has some other odd sections, which drag it down. Lame production decisions, are the main problem. Dump the radio interview. Delete the radio chatter. Insert sound, versus the dumb silent reel sequences. Voila!

Oh wait. That is not what we have. It is this flawed release. Listen kid. You could have been a contender! Hardcore fans only.

Rating: 2 1/2  Stars