Sunday, December 4, 2016

Some Movies Are So Bad....They're Still Bad


This may seem confusing but this film is so bad but I still love it.

Released in 1980, this Robert Altman film was not given the script it should have. It had a great cast. Robin Williams, in his first staring role and Shelley Duvall, coming off her role in The Shining, lead a cast that would be recognizable over the next few decades. Paul Smith (as Bluto) would be seen again in Dune. Paul Dooley (as Wimpy) would play Molly Ringwald's dad in Sixteen Candles. Richard Libertini (as Geezil) would play the guru in the movie All Of Me. Ray Walston (as Poopdeck Pappy) would play Mr. Hand in Fast Times At Ridgemont High. David Moffat (as the Taxman) would play LBJ in The Right Stuff. Linda Hunt (as Mrs. Oxheart) would win an oscar for her role in The Year Of Living Dangerously (she's also reunite with Paul Smith in Dune). Dennis Franz (as Spike) would be nominated for an emmy award all 8 years he played Detective Andy Sipowicz on the television show NYPD Blue, winning 4 times. And in a small nod to the music in the film, Klaus Voormann (as the band leader) was once the artist that created several album covers for the Beatles and would play bass for the band Manfred Mann.

The story is all over the place: Popeye is looking for his father and comes to Sweethaven to find him. Olive Oyl is getting engaged to Bluto and during her engagement party, she and Popeye find an abandoned baby, which Popeye names Swee'pea. Bluto destroys the Oyl house when he learns that Olive has skipped out on the engagement and beats up Popeye. To pay for the taxes that Bluto imposes on the Oyl family, Olive's brother, Castor, signs up to compete against a local prize fighter, Oxblood Oxheart. When Castor fails, Popeye jumps into the ring and beats Oxblood. The next day, Olive tells Popeye that Swee'pea can tell the future. Wimpy takes Swee'pea to a gambling riverboat and uses Swee'pea's ability to win at the horse races. Bluto kidnaps Swee'pea so that he and the Commodore, who runs the town, can get rich. SPOILER ALERT** The Commodore is really Popeye's father, but since we meet the Commodore only 3 minutes before we learn that he's Popeye's father, its all ok. Popeye confronts Bluto and saves Olive, Swee'pea and dispatches a giant squid all to bring the film to a happy ending....well as happy as you can be after 120 minutes of this script.

But the saving grace for this film is the songs and the performance of Robin Williams. With most of the songs being relatively catchy and the visuals for each musical number being so layered and full of sight gags, the songs will stick with you. Robin's ability to immerse himself into a role was on full display from the first scene. Most of his little asides and comments were ad libbed and added to the performance. Seeing him with bleached blond hair and rubber arms is still very odd but he sells the character.

The set was built in Malta and still exists and is a tourist attraction. It was a fully functioning town and every scene of the film was filmed within the town, no studio sound stages used in this film.

Please enjoy the trailer for the film and take the time to watch the whole film. Its so bad, its good.....sorta.

Monday, November 21, 2016

It's Not The Australian National Anthem...But It Should Be.

Down Under by Men At Work

Yeah, I know, its not the Australian National anthem but nearly everyone that hears it instantly thinks of Australia so.....mission accomplished. The song was released in Australia in October of 1981 where it went to #1 by the end of the year. In the US the song was released in November of 1982 and reached #1 by the next January. Overall the song reached #1 in 7 countries and within the top 10 in 7 other countries.

The songs popularity could have something to do with its catchiness.....but I assume its the silliness of the video that helped. There's something about living in Australia that just makes for general silliness. Could be the toilets flushing the other way or something.

We get to learn about several Australian slang phrases. "A fried out kombie" is a beat up VW combo van. "A head full of zombie" is, of course, a head full of pot. And where men "Chunder" is about vomiting after drinking too much. I won't explain vegemite because its gross. Try it at your own peril. You may just end up Chundering.

But I want to take a moment to highlight lead singer and co-songwriter (along with Ron Strykert) Colin Hay's vocals. Most memorable singers have a distinct voice that captures your ear and says, "that's _______" fill in the blank. Colin has two distinct voices. Notice how his voice sounds during the verses of the song. Low and measured. But during the chorus (and more pronounced near the end of the song) his voice has a more falsetto style with a characteristic growl or "flutter" (hard to describe but you'll hear what I mean).

Over the years, I've seen the band 3 times (minus half of the members) and I've seen Colin solo 3 times and his voice is still just as great as it is here on record. He plays this song every time (even with drunks yelling out for it from the start of the show). But its his story telling between the songs that make Colin worth seeing. He is hilarious and quite the story teller. Plus its obvious he loves all the songs he's recorded over the years.

But for now, please enjoy his biggest hit.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Ahhhh...The Dreams Of Young Men

(She's) Sexy & 17 by Stray Cats (yep, there's no "the" in their name)

I was 15 years old when this song came out and my girlfriend was.......16. But close enough for a guy like me. Still, lets get to the real heart of the matter. Brian Setzer is a guitar GOD! This is full on classic rockabilly cool and Brian is laying it down. When he was a kid (about 5 minutes before the band was signed!) he idolized old 50's guitar masters like Carl Perkins and Eddie Cochran. And it shows in his playing. Really take the time to listen to his guitar throughout this song....its like another vocal line. Its always singing something in the background. Very skillful. Plus the solo blisters the speakers.

And of course who could forget his "little Marie"?.......oh my.

On a personal note: I've actually met Brian twice. Once back in an airport in the 80's when he was with the whole band (well, all three of them) and again about 15 years later in a restaurant near my house in Santa Monica. Both times he was really nice and let me blather on about how amazing he is as a guitar player (even let me buy him a beer that second time). Its nice when you meet your idols and they are cool.

Please Enjoy

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Bass Line You Can Chew On

Blood And Roses by The Smithereens

Released in 1986, the first single from their debut album contains an unstoppable bass line. As proof of how powerful and important it is to the song, I've seen this song done live twice, the first time a solo acoustic performance and the second, a full band version. The acoustic performance, while intimate and revealing, lacked the punch of the bass and drums. It was amazing to hear the song as it was written by lead singer/song writer Pat DiNizio and to hear the story behind the song. But with the full band, the song comes to life. The bass starts the song off and signals to the crowd what's coming. And when the guitar solo ends, its the bass that brings the song back to its heart.

Listen to the song and try not to keep you foot from tapping along to the drums while your head nods along to the bass.

Please enjoy.

Friday, November 4, 2016

All He Wanted Was A Pepsi

Institutionalised by Suicidal Tendencies

Released in 1983, this hardcore punk song was almost immediately embraced by all the people I knew in LA. The song didn't chart at all on the US charts but it reached #23 on the KROQ charts for that year (and that says it all in my book).

The song tells the story of our hero, Mike, and his quest to just get through life and "figure things out" all while just hoping to get a Pepsi. BTW that part about getting a Pepsi has long been the most memorable part of this song...but I personally like the last line of the song where Mike says he'll probably get hit by a car anyway....turns out Mike is still with us and continues to lead this band as they play all over the world.

This Venice California based band was the first hardcore punk bands to be featured on MTV and that gave a lot of us "weirdos" a great feeling to know that music we liked could be available to others. Musical Diversity was the name of the game in the 80's and that's still its greatest legacy.

The video was not anything to write home about but that's not the point of punk rock...its about the music and the message. So just enjoy the song and marvel at the silliness.

Please Enjoy. And will someone please get Mike a Pepsi.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

This Was Before Caller ID

Obscene Phone Caller by Rockwell

Released in 1984, this follow up single to the hit Somebody's Watching Me, made it into the top 40 on the US charts. It was a great song, but what's up with his accent?? He sounds like he's English but he's the son of the owner of the Motown record label and was born in Detroit. I guess when that's your Dad and your best friend is Michael Jackson, you try to set yourself apart by changing your name (his real name was Kennedy Gordy) and you try to sound like you're English. Nice try, anyway.

The video is spec-tac-ular!! I do like that the mailman from the Somebody's Watching Me video makes a cameo. But you've gotta love Rockwell's outfits.....very 80's with the trash-bag shirt and the eyeliner and the headband.....he's deserves an award for his fashion alone.

Please enjoy

Thursday, October 27, 2016

You Finally Get A Hit And No One In Your Home Country Notices

Your Love by The Outfield

Released in February of 1986, this song reached #6 on the the US. In the UK (where the band was from) it barely made it into the top 80. The band never got much love in its home country but America more than made up for it.

One of the things I loved about the video for this song, which is just a simple performance piece, is that it extends the guitar intro of the song. Not long after the song came out, I would sit in my room and just play that opening guitar part over and over and over. Its so simple and so easy. Plus it sounds so awesome........sorry, I just went and played it again.

One of the interesting parts of the video is that there's a girl painting the cover of the album....while the cover is already painted on the walls of the stage. What? Still, its a great song.

Please enjoy

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Songs That Need Our Love....Part 28

Common Ground by Rhythm Corps

Formed in 1981, this Detroit band finally made it in 1988 when they released their debut album. Its first single made it to #9....on the mainstream rock charts (not exactly the Hot 100). I really like this song. It says more than people seem to hear. I'm a message-song kinda guy, so it speaks to me.

The video is a total product of the time. The band changes outfits 3 times and all they're doing is just playing the song. I realize that not every band was filled with actors (in fact, not every band was filled with musicians....cough *milli vanilli* cough). So we at least get to see them playing the song.....but what's up with the chicken? I get the dove....I guess I'll have to live with never knowing what was going on there.

Please enjoy

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Only One Person Makes Fun Of The King Of Pop

Eat It by Weird Al Yankovic

Released in February of 1983, it was Weird Al's first top 40 hit, reaching #12 in the US charts. A parody of Michael Jackson's #1 hit, Beat It, both the parody and the original won Grammy awards. So the song is a good one

But it's the video that put Weird Al's version on the charts. Al takes the time to duplicate every shot of the video with a comic twist. The two gangs don't appear so tough with no pants on....or waiting for the bus. The final dance/battle is fought with forks while they hold on to a rubber chicken. Al goes through all of the dance moves that for Michael seems so effortless but not quite so graceful for Al.

This would start a string of great parodies by Weird Al and his videos were usually better than the original videos.

Please enjoy....and laugh.

Friday, October 21, 2016

He Was in Queen, But On This Day, He Was The King.

Queen at Live Aid.

July 13th 1985. The world came together, in JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and Wembley Stadium in London (and around the world via television) to raise some money and raise awareness to the famine in Africa. The concerts brought out some of the best musical acts at the time. Duran Duran, Hall & Oates, Madonna and legendary acts like Led Zeppelin and the Rolling Stones knocked them dead in Philadelphia. While Elton John, Sting, Phil Collins and U2 were the bands to see in Wembley.....until Queen took the stage.

It was 6:40 in the afternoon and it was really hot that day in London. Add in 72,000 people and you had a very warm crowd. The show had started at noon and would finish up at nearly 11:30 PM, so it can be understood if an ordinary crowd might not be ready to get into a performance. But this was no ordinary crowd and this was no ordinary band. By 1985 the band had been around for 15 years and had proven themselves to be a fantastic live band, having toured the world many times over and being able to rely on a deep background of hits that were solid crowd pleasers. When you include a lead singer like Freddy Mercury......they were unstoppable. And this was the kind of crowd and the kind of moment that someone like Freddy lived for.

As the band took the stage, the crowd had just finished watching Dire Straits and U2 before them (who everyone said had the best performance....up to that point). Freddy almost immediately proved that he was a master of the live arena, taking control of the entire 72,000 people strong crowd and lifting them up to a height that has probably never been attained before or since. He literally has the entire stadium in the palm of his hand. And he does what any master showman would do....he entertains them completely.

In the years since this performance, music critics have almost unanimously agreed that this is the best live performance ever given. The entire set is 21 minutes and includes 6 songs (or 5 and a half since Bohemian Rhapsody is only half of the song). Watch the video and be impressed.

(the video included the song that Freddy and Brian May, his guitarist, came back out later and performed. Its a good song but there were several sound issues, so stop the video after the 21 minute spot)

Please enjoy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Early Morning Musing....Or Music

Better Be Home Soon by Crowded House

Released in July of 1988, this was the first single from their second album. And after having two huge hits on their first album, the band was expected to deliver. I personally love this song but it didn't chart as well as their previous big hits....which is sad.

But the song is credited by lead singer/song writer Neil Finn as being the easiest song he ever wrote. He says he woke up one morning and it just all came out nearly as you hear it. That must be some great sleep he's getting 'cause this is a great song. You can almost see him sitting on the edge of the bed while he pours his heart out in 3 minutes and 24 seconds.

The video is typical of Crowded House (or most Australian bands of the time) in that it features nice little silly moments. I guess living in Australia makes you enjoy life a little bit more.

Please enjoy.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Its A Multi-Decade Hit

They Don't Know by Tracey Ullman

It's a song written in the 1970's that sounds like a 1950's song, covered in the 1980's with a video featuring a pop star from the 1960's. Have ya got all of that?

Tracey Ullman was a well known comedian in the UK before she decided to start a singing career. The second single from her first album became an international hit. Reaching #2 in the UK and #8 in the US. Not a bad way to start the 80's. Tracey would end the decade as the star of her own hit show that spawned the career of Paula Abdul and the beginning of the television show The Simpson's.

But watch the video and see how great Tracey is....she's in love with her man, Paul and she doesn't care what anyone says...even when she's pregnant while shopping for food with her small child and Paul is working at the store. She still looks like she loves her man....but wait for the end of the video to see the real Paul she's in love with.

Please enjoy.

Monday, October 10, 2016

There's No Electric Sheep...But There Are Androids.

Blade Runner

Released in 1982, this is one of the best science fiction films ever (and that's not just my opinion, film critics agree). The year is 2019 and Rick Deckard (played by Harrison Ford) is a Blade Runner (or at least he used to be). Blade Runners are police officers charged with hunting down Replicants (bio-engineered androids that only have a 4 year life span, enhanced physical strength and abilities) and "retiring" them. Replicants are not permitted on Earth (must be a huge problem if they have a team of dedicated police officers just to deal with this problem) and a group of four Replicants have come to Earth seeking a way to extend their lives. Deckard gets "talked into" (*threatened into) coming back by his old boss to hunt this group down.

The entire plot line would take me several pages to type out, and I assume most people have seen this film (or at least they should have!!) so I won't go that deep. But lets talk about the look of this film. Its dark, its gritty, its not bright and shiny. The future does not look like a fun place to be....(only three years away from when I'm writing this post)..but it has a retro look that caught the imagination. It has an air about it that draws you in but repels you at the same time. It's a futuristic world but its grounded with its familiarity, cars still ply the streets, pedestrians still need to get across the street, the local food stand still gets your noddle order wrong. It's the Replicants that pull us into the future. Created as slave labor on off-world colonies, they inspire fear because of their enhancements.

The film asks a lot of questions that are open to as many conclusions as their are fans of this film. Consider the idea that Deckard may be a Replicant. Is the film a warning about big corporations? What about the idea of humans fearing the technology they've created? And why does Harrison Ford always get his ass kicked? (in this case by all four Replicants)

In the end, its about wanting to feel human and to connect to the things that make us human....our memories and our relationships. The leader of the group of Replicants, Roy (played by Rutger Hauer) has a wonderful monologue at the end of the film, which was written by Rutger the day before the scene was filmed. I'm including the scene below because its a great piece of film making.

Before I do that, I'm going to take a moment to talk about the many versions of the film that have been released over the years. By some accounts, there are as many as seven versions of the film. In its originally released version, there was a voice over through out the film by Harrison Ford (he hated the voice over) that explained what we were seeing and what the characters were thinking....which is...ok but having seen the film now with several scenes added back in and with the voice over removed, the Final Cut as released in 2007, really presents the film as something that allows the viewer to decide for them selves what they feel the answers are. The scene below gets lost when the voice over cuts across the moment as Deckard sits and watches the last minutes of Roy's life. With out the voice over, the scene is allowed to impact the viewer just as the actors wanted it to. Thankfully we have the film as the actors and director intended. Seek that version out. Its worth the effort.

Please Enjoy

Monday, October 3, 2016

Its A Happy Song By Depeche Mode......Wait...What???

But Not Tonight by Depeche Mode

It was a song recorded in less than a day. The band wasn't very proud of it and they felt so unattached to it that when the record company asked them if they could put it in a movie, the band said, "what ever". In the UK the song Stripped was the single released in February of 1986.....but in the US the record company flipped the single and put the original b-side, But Not Tonight, on the a-side. They had a movie cross promotion going and a soon-to-be-huge band....but the band was having none of it. They filmed a video and its obvious they are putting in one attempt at this and then they're outta here. The movie the song was in, Modern Girls, is being projected on the wall behind the band while they sorta play the song. Lead singer, Dave Gahan, does give a serviceable performance, but if you've ever seen Depeche Mode live, you know he's only performing at 1/4 effort.

I've never seen the film but from the clips they show in the video, I can see that they spent a lot of time filming in the Hollywood area late at night. If there's anything that screams 1980's club life, its Hollywood. I might have to see the film at some point but the band refers to it as the "dodgy film" so I'm not in a hurry to see it.

But I'm serious about it being a happy song. Main songwriter, Martin Gore, was not a "happy song" guy and this one kinda sticks out among the dark dreariness of the Black Celebration recording sessions. It is, by far, one of my favorite songs by them. Its one of the few songs that the band rarely ever performs live but during their 2014 world tour, Martin himself would sing an acoustic version of the song.....he must have reexamined how he felt about the song and that makes me happy.

Please enjoy.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's A Cruel.....Cruel Video....

Cruel Summer by Bananarama

Released in 1983 in the UK (1984 in the US), the song was a hit, reaching #9 and helping to kick off their career.

But the video seems like it was missing a story line. The band is dancing around New York City singing the song and having a good time working at a gas station. Then a truck shows up and they get excited. The truck driver looks as confused as we are. And all of a sudden, a police car shows up and out pops a red neck sheriff.....did anyone tell them that Boss Hog doesn't live in New York City? And why are they throwing bananas at the cop car??.....Oh, bad pun time (they have the word Banana in their name).....well that's just silly. But can someone please explain why, after getting away from the police....they invite the cop and Boss Hog up to the roof top dance party???

The band has said that they tried some drugs for the first time on the day of the video shoot so that explains their super excited antics but who wrote this "story" that they forgot to tells us about?

Oh well, I enjoy the song and that's enough for me.....please go and enjoy the video.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Spaceman Spiff And His Trusty Tiger

Calvin And Hobbs.

First published on November 18th, 1985...within one year, it was featured in over 250 newspapers and was hugely popular. At a time when most comic strips were fading out or were essentially just being republished to fill space, this pair of animated pals were a fresh take on an old medium.

Calvin is a six year old boy who has a vivid imagination and a beyond-his-years intelligence. He imagines his stuffed tiger is really a real tiger named Hobbs and they go through life and all its philosophical trails and tribulations just like any six year old and stuffed tiger would.....they are wise beyond their years and reckless with their own safety. But its not about the destination....its about the journey.

They bother Calvin's dad with questions no six year old should ever need to ask....they annoy Calvin's mom with random destruction and a sense of mischief...they torture the little girl from school, Susie, with their immature boyness (Calvin really likes Susie, but don't tell him that)...they cause Rosalyn, their babysitter, endless trouble while helping her to fund her college education (Rosalyn is the only one that will babysit Calvin....for a very high price).

But Calvin is not always a rotten kid. He battles space aliens in his spaceship on distant planets that are really his school or his own house....the aliens being his teacher and his parents. Calvin can make very good use of a large cardboard box and his wonderful imagination, turning it into a duplicator and making several copies of himself ("they" cause all kinds of trouble that his mom blames him for), making it into a Transmogrifier, which changes the user into any desired shape.....usually with disastrous effect, or even turning it into a time machine.

Spending time with Calvin and Hobbs is to spend time enjoying the simple things, the fun things, the smart things. He's a look inside the rambunctious boy (or girl) we all were and the adult we eventually wished we had become...wise, enlightened, and carefree. His imagination HAS come to life and it makes the world a better place for him and everyone around him....well maybe not the adults in his life but they'll someday look back on this kid and his oversized sense of fun and long for those days when they've finally passed.

To those that have loved and enjoyed this comic strip or to those that missed all the silliness and fun, here is the very first strip that appeared featuring this boy we all wished we could be and the tiger he'd love forever.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

...And With That, I Won $50

The 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers were not considered to be much of a team at the start of the year. Made up of untried rookies and veteran players that had seen better days, they were expected to finish last in their division....but no one on the team agreed with that assessment. Led by Kirk Gibson, the team felt that they could prove everyone wrong and win the division and maybe make it to the World Series. Everyone expected the Oakland A's to win the whole thing any way, so getting to the end was victory enough for this team.

Coming off a hard fought series against the New York Mets to secure the National League title, the Dodgers were fairly banged up, with Gibson barely able to walk on two hurt legs but his intense drive and determination kept the rest of the teams spirits up. Even with hurt legs, he spent most of the first game of the World Series in the training room getting physical therapy on his injured legs and watching the game on television. As the 9th inning approached, he began to feel that he would have to come in off the bench to pinch hit and began to get ready by hitting balls off a tee in the locker room batting cage.

With 2 outs in the 9th, the score 4 to 3 in favor of the A's and a runner on first, the Dodger Manager, Tommy Lasorda, sent Gibson to the plate as the entire hometown crowd went crazy. The whole year Gibson had been the go-to guy in pivotal moments...and this looked like his kind of moment. The pitcher, Dennis Eckersley, was the best closer in baseball at the time. He was unbeatable and this was also his kind of moment. It was going to be a battle of wills between the best and the winner would be legend.

As the at bat went on, it became apparent that Gibson was lucky to be standing. His legs appeared to be useless to him if he needed to run and when he dribbled a weak ground ball that miraculously drifted foul, he could barely make it down the base path. If he had any chance he was going to have to hit the ball into a deep part of the outfield and lumber to first base so he could be replaced by a pinch runner. With a 3 balls and 2 strike count Gibson stepped out of the batters box and recalled something a scout had told him about Eckersley: when facing a left handed batter (like Gibson) on a 3-2 count he always used a backdoor slider to finish off the batter. With that knowledge at his disposal, Gibson stepped back into the batters a box and....... this day it brings tears to my eyes. The crowds reaction, the amazing way that two busted up legs carried Gibson around the bases as if he wasn't hurt at all and Vin Scully's call of the play...they get me every time. With Vin Scully retiring this year (2016) this moment is particularly bittersweet because only Vinny could have called that home run. He was the voice of baseball for me growing up...I hear plays called in his voice just out of common practice. I'm still amazed to see the brake lights go on from a car that was leaving the parking lot as Vinny says "It's GONE!!". Who were those people that they were leaving that game before that last at bat? The Dodgers, by the way, went on to defeat the mighty A's 4 games to 1 for their sixth World Series title.

Now for my story: I was working at a pizza place at the time and we had the game on. A co-worker bet me $20 that Gibson would strike out. I said, "I'll bet you $50 he hits a home run." Sweetest $50 I ever made.

Monday, September 19, 2016

I'm Not Sure They Ever Hired This Producer Ever Again

Eternal Flame by The Bangles

Released in February of 1989, the song was a huge hit, reaching #1 on the US charts. It's a great song and it was well produced (it even kept Milli Vanilli from reaching the #1 spot, so thank you to the girls) but there's a bit of behind the scenes info you need to hear. During the recording of the album, this was one of the only songs not uptempo. For the vocals, the producer, Davitt Sigerson (yes, I spelled that name right), suggested to lead singer Susanna Hoffs that she should do what Olivia Newton John had done when he produced some songs with her....sing in the nude. It was only after the song was finished that he admitted that had never happened, he just wanted to see if he could get Susanna to get naked. Clever guy...but you might never get hired by any other female singers with that kind of sense of humor.

If anyone needs help picturing what Davitt was (nearly) enjoying during the recording of the vocals, here's a quick pic from the 1987 movie Susanna was in called The Allnighter (I recommend it)...

...but here's the video for Eternal Flame (all the girls have their clothes on for this....bummer)

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Somebody Owes Me $5

Grease 2....

Yes, I saw this massive movie mistake in the theaters. And why wouldn't I? The original Grease had come out in 1978 and was a huge success. Great songs, great cast, great dancing. While Sandy and Danny were cruisin' back in 1958, this new story would rev into 1961....lets see if it was even worth it...

Released in 1982, it was supposed to be a slam dunk. The film came out in the same month as E.T., Star Trek II, Rocky III and was doomed. But they tried..

You had a new bunch a T-Birds...

And some new Pink Ladies....

...but Sandy and Danny were replaced by Stephanie and Michael...

...He's Sandy's cousin from England and she's the leader of the Pink Ladies.....honestly, the plot isn't important in this film, except to say he loves her (and he's "ordinary"), she loves a vision of a cool motorcycle rider (SPOILER ALERT*** It's him) and in the end they get together. But this film (like the previous Grease) are not about plot as much as they are about singing and dancing. So what does Grease 2 have to offer?

They had the dancing covered when they hired the original Grease choreographer to be the director. And they had a cast that could sing. And what do they sing about? They sing about a metaphor for sex. They sing about surviving a nuclear a way to trick your girlfriend into having sex. The sing about going to the grocery a place to find sex. They even sing about sex....from the perspective of pollinating plants!!! I'm it below.

Its bad and I want my $5 back.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Songs That Need Our Love....Part 27

Promises In The Dark by Pat Benatar

Released in September of 1981, this was the second single from her #1 album, Precious Time. This song only made it to #38 on the US charts so it received a little bit of love but I feel it deserves more.

The song is a full throttled display of her soaring vocals. Listen to how much power she has after the guitar solo, she clearly out-does the guitar of her husband, Neil and he had to get flashy to stay with her while she was tearing up the lyrics. Plus she looked fantastic in that skin tight jump suit. Yowza!!

Pat still performs this song and she sounds just as good today as she did back then. She's a force of nature.

Please Enjoy!!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

Albums of 1986....Part 8

Slippery When Wet by Bon Jovi

Released in August of 1986, the album was the third studio album from the band and the label was hoping they could deliver a hit album to go with the growing fan support.......12 Million copies later and 8 weeks at #1 on the US charts....I think they delivered.

The band released 4 singles from the album, 3 of which reached the top 10, 2 were #1 on the US charts. The band knew that they had struck pay dirt and toured extensively to support the album. The videos for the singles were simple performance pieces and highlighted the fun that the band had on and off stage....heck, 75% of their audience was hot chicks, why wouldn't they be having fun?

Now, if the band had had their way, this would have been the cover of the album....

...might not have attracted as many female fans in the beginning....the videos are when the female fans got locked into this band....I would have bought the original album cover...for several reasons. But the songs were really good and at least 11,999,999 people other than me agreed.

Here's the video for Livin' On A Prayer (one of the #1's) and it shows the band having more fun than they should followed by some great live shots. The song was (and is) an instant classic. I know Tommy used to work on a dock.....but this song is awesome.

Please Enjoy.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Hall Of Fame Badass....From The Start

Bad Reputation by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

The year after her band, The Runaways, broke up, Joan was back with a solo project and a backing band. A full album had been recorded and a few shows had been played.....but no record companies wanted to sign the band. In fact, 23 labels turned her down (some of which are listed in this video) she did what any badass would do....she started her own record label, Blackheart Records, and released this gem as the first single. The next year the band would release the single, I Love Rock N Roll, and when it stayed in the #1 spot on the US charts for 7 weeks, suddenly all the record labels wanted to sign her. Funny how huge success changed their opinion.

As for the song, it pretty much says, from the first line, what she thinks about anyone's opinion of her. "I don't give a damn 'bout my reputation". She would maintain that attitude her entire career and in 2015 she would be inducted (along with the Blackhearts) into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame. I recently saw her perform live and she still sounds great, still looks great, and she's still badass. I Love Rock N Roll....and I Love Joan Jett!!!

Please Enjoy

Friday, September 9, 2016

That Sounds Like Stalking To Me

Don't Talk To Strangers by Rick Springfield

Released in 1982, this song reached #2 on the US charts.

The video makes Rick look like a creepy stalker. He follows his girl down a dark alley, he hides under her table, he jumps in through the motel window when she's about to cheat on him.....ok maybe his fears were warranted....but still. This is over the top for anyone. If you watch closely, Rick is the one turning over the table in the restaurant.

The song should have been on more of my mix-tapes for some of my girlfriends because most of them ended up "talking to strangers" and breaking up with me for some other guy. I always thought I was a nice guy. I guess Rick and I are just too handsome for our women.....or maybe not so much in my case.

Please Enjoy.

Monday, September 5, 2016

It's All In The Reflexes......And The Porkchop Express

Big Trouble In Little China

Released in July of 1986, it was described by the director, John Carpenter, as an action adventure comedy kung fu ghost story monster movie. Originally written as a western in 1890's San Francisco Chinatown with the lead character being a skilled gunman but a complete klutz in a fist fight, the script was re-written to bring the story into a modern Chinatown and to tap into the mystical world of Chinese Legend and magic.

Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) is a truck driver headed into San Francisco to see his old friend, Wang Chi, and drive him to pick up his fiancee, Miao Yin (a girl with green will come up later), at the airport. Well, she gets kidnapped by a Chinese street gang and after some searching, Jack and Wang end up caught in a street fight between two rival gangs until Lo Pan (the bad guy/ancient wizard) and his henchmen show up.

So, Lo Pan has an ancient curse on him that prevents him from taking permanent human form. But he can break the curse placed on him by the first emperor of China if he marries a green eyed woman.....and then sacrifices her to appease the Emperor. It turns out that the reporter following Jack and Wang around, Gracie, also has green eyes. PLOT TWIST!!! So while trying to rescue Miao Yin, Gracie gets kidnapped as well. Now Lo Pan can kill one green eyed girl and marry the other.

But Jack and Wang are not giving up. They get Egg Shen, a magician and authority on Lo Pan, and one of the street gangs to help them attack Lo Pan's underground headquarters. During the wedding, a huge fight breaks out between the rescuers and Lo Pan's henchmen....Jack misses the whole fight because he's accidentally knocked himself out. Wang and Jack eventually confront Lo Pan and his Henchmen and Jack's reflexes (which he brags about often) prove to be just as sharp as he claims. The good guys win and everyone is safe. In the end, its Jack that has something he'll have to deal with that he may not be ready for.

What makes this movie so fun is that there is a ton of humor thrown in to make you laugh as often as you're on the edge of your seat with excitement. During a fight between Wang and one of the henchmen, there's all kinds of debris flying into frame while the two combatants fight off-screen. Most of Jack's lines are delivered for as many laughs as they are to sound like action movie catch phrases. I highly recommend seeing this film. Its a cult classic and its a fun hour and a half.

Now, I'm going to add a clip of the film which shows the end of the big fight but it has all of the elements in this clip that make up this great film. So Spoiler does show Lo Pan's end. But it also shows a moment that could have only been filmed once.....broken Buddhas is all I'll say.

Please enjoy..

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Freedom...And A Hasselhoff Concert??

The Fall of the Berlin Wall...Part 2

For over 25 years, the residents of East Germany and the city of East Berlin had been unable to travel to the west. But after waves of East Germans began flooding into Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia and demanding asylum at the West German embassies in those countries, the East German government decided to ease travel restrictions. On the evening of November 9th 1989, during a press conference to announce the lifted restrictions, a party spokesman was asked when the new regulations would take effect. After hesitating for a moment he said "As far as I know immediately, without delay". The lifted restrictions included East Berlin and no one had bothered to inform the East German border guards. Huge crowds began showing up at all of the crossings and demanding that they be let through. After several frantic calls, the border guards stepped aside and the crowds swelled past and into freedom and the waiting crowds of West Berliners who welcomed them with champagne and flowers.

As the night went on people began to climb up onto to the wall and celebrate its demise. The party raged all night and included citizens trying to break down the wall. Some pulling it down...

....others taking a more visceral approach.

On New Years Eve 1989, David Hasselhoff performed a concert at the remains of the wall in front of the Brandenburg Gate. I'm not sure how many East and West Berliners crossed back in to East Berlin that evening in an attempt to escape his singing but the numbers are probably in the thousands (I won't inflict the video of him singing on a crane, swinging back and forth over the wall while wearing a light up jacket). He's not good. The wall was removed over the next few years and was completely removed (except for a few pieces left in place as historical examples) by 1992.

In late 1990 my parents traveled to Germany to witness the reunification of the city of Berlin and they brought me back a piece of the wall (along with a Soviet soldiers hat!). Millions of people took time out of their visits to the city of Berlin to chisel off a piece of the wall...but only one of those people did it with his words, President Ronald Reagan. But he also had a chance to take a swing at the wall he helped knock down....

Walls don't stop freedom...they just delay to for a few years. And they always fall.

Wow....This Guy Is Good.

The fall of the Berlin Wall.....Part 1

Construction of the Berlin wall began on August 13th 1961. It effectively cut the city of Berlin in half and came to symbolize the divide between the Democratic West and the Communist East. For over 25 years, the residents of West Berlin were surrounded by walls but it was the citizens of East Berlin that were walled in and unable to enjoy the freedoms of the west. The wall started out as a wire fence and a simple concrete wall. Over the years the fence was improved and the wall was strengthened. Any homes or businesses along the path of the wall were demolished. In 1975, the wall was improved (or more to the point, hardened). The picture below shows this version of the wall.... consisted of a 12 foot high reinforced concrete wall, built to nearly impervious standards, topped with a smooth round cap intended to deter someone from scaling the wall. Behind the wall, in an area referred to as the "death strip", were anti-vehicle trenches, barbed wire, a lighted service road, a raked sand or gravel road designed to easily show footprints and additional fencing and barbed wire. The open area between the fencing and the wall allowed a clean field of fire for posted guards who had orders to shoot to kill anyone attempting to escape. Research has confirmed 136 deaths but the numbers could be as high as 200. No one is really certain how many escapes were successful, some suggest over 5,000.

Over the years, the residents of West Berlin came to see the wall as a place to show their artistic outrage towards the wall. Some of the art was political...

...some was just artistic expression....

....but most was just a mishmash of graffiti that had a beauty all its own...

...either way, the people hated the wall.

In 1987, President Ronald Reagan, a fierce opponent of communism, came to West Berlin and gave a speech in front of the Brandenburg Gate to commemorate the 750th anniversary of the city of Berlin and said some very famous words....

Powerful stuff. Little more than two years later, the wall would come down on one of the most dramatic nights of the Cold War.

Continued on Part 2.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Metal Masterpiece Theatre

Holy Diver by Dio

Released in August of 1983, this was the lead single from the debut album of the same name. The song is considered one of the high water marks in early Heavy Metal, right before the genre really took off. It is one of those songs that set itself apart as what Metal could really be.

The video, on the other hand......

Dio is walking among the ruins of a church wielding a sword....then he kills a dude...who turns into some rats (???). Well, moving on. Dio then goes and throws away what just proved itself to be a perfectly good sword so that he can get a newly forged sword (???). Wait....what was wrong with the one that just successfully turned a dude into rats?? No time for explanations....there's a guitar solo coming up. And now there's monks from the Spanish Inquisition....

....and after all of that, Dio just leaves (????)

Oh well, it was metal and it was awesome. The song made it into the top 40 in the US Rock Tracks chart and VH1 placed it at #43 on the top 100 Hard Rock songs. So there's that. But take a moment and enjoy this......masterpiece?