Sunday, June 18, 2017

Anybody Want A Peanut?

The Princess Bride

Released in September of 1987, this film adaptation of a 1973 book written as an abridged version of a much older tale (obviously, the entire thing is original but it added to the humor and the fantasy of the whole project).

The film begins with a young boy (Fred Savage) staying home from school because he's not feeling well and his Grandfather (Peter Falk) coming to read him a book to make him feel better. The Grandfather narrates throughout the film with occasional asides from the Grandson. The basic plot is this:

Umm..... Ok, I'll start nearer to the boy Westley is presumed dead and his true love, Buttercup, has finally agreed to marry Prince Humperdinck. But the Prince has other plans. He hires three assassins......

....Inigo Montoya, Vissini and Fezzik to kill Buttercup and frame the neighboring country for it so he can go to war with them. But they are followed by a man in black who beats all three assassins and rescues Buttercup. Along the way we get introduced to Count Rugen (he's on the right next to Humperdinck).....

....and Miracle Max and his wife, Valerie....

....but really, I'd be doing you all a disservice if I gave away the entire plot. But I will point out that this film has some of the best movie quotes ever.

"You seem a decent fellow, I hate to kill you" "you seem a decent fellow, I hate to die"

"You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means"

"Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line"

"Its possible, pig, I might be bluffing"

"Truly you have a dizzying intellect" "wait until I get going. Now, where was I?"

"I am not left handed"

"You've been mostly dead all day"

And of course....."Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die"

Please enjoy the trailer of this classic film and if you haven't seen it.....don't tell me that.....go see it now. Or the citizens of Florin will boo you.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

I Think This Guitar Solo Caused The Apocalypse

You Got Lucky by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers

Released in October of 1982, this song about a guy trying to convince himself that the girl that just left him won't find anyone better, reached #20 on the US charts. But it was the video that made this song memorable.

Based on a post apocalyptic world, the band came up with the idea for the video themselves (one of the few early bands that embraced music videos), and MTV rewarded them by playing the hell out of the video. Groundbreaking at the time in that the music doesn't start for nearly a minute into the clip, the band is only listening to the song being played on a boombox while they investigate the contents of a mysterious tent in the desert (also groundbreaking since most videos were some form of performance pieces).

Lucky for them one of the band members discovers the guitar right before the solo but this brings up an interesting note about the song.....its based around a keyboard and drum loop which was unusual for a guitar based band. Still, they got lucky he knew how to play that solo and they got lucky the fans loved the song.

Please Enjoy....

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Albums Of 1987.....Part 2

Appetite For Destruction by Guns N' Roses

Released in July of 1987, the bands major label debut was the closest thing to a perfect time capsule of the Sunset Strip in the late 1980's. The band formed only two years earlier as pieces of two different bands (LA Guns and Hollywood Rose) came together. From the first gigs played by the band it was apparent that there was little anything could be done to stop super stardom. Record labels were courting the band within months of their first show and the album was one of the most anticipated releases of the year.

Lead singer Axl Rose was one of those dynamic front men that commands the attention of the whole room. Combine that with the fiery playing of lead guitarist Slash and you had a duel attack on the crowd that usually was hard to ignore. When you add in the debauched lifestyle and attitude (and isn't that what rock n' roll is all about?) and more than a little songwriting talent and you ended up with the product delivered as promised.

The album reached the #1 spot on the US album charts and sold over 18 million copies (that buys a lot of Jack Daniels). Lets take a look at the songs that made up this amazing debut.

1. Welcome To The Jungle - Sounding like a decent into the depths, this semi-autobiographical song sets the tone for the whole album. As a teenager, a young Axl exited a bus in New York City and was yelled at by a homeless man, "you know where you are? You're in the jungle baby, you're gonna die". When he later moved to Hollywood, he felt that statement applied just as well to the Sunset Strip area.

2. Its So Easy - Describing the sad state the band found themselves in during the early days when they had to live off the groupies and hangers-on that surrounded them. Kinda sad, really.

3. Nightrain - Written as a tribute to cheap alcohol, which the band used to fuel its creativity and generally survive on.

4. Out Ta Get Me - A general complaint about authority figures, the police in particular, keeping poor Axl down......but lets face it, Axl probably wasn't a choir boy when it came to his dealings with the law.

5. Mr. Brownstone - We've had abuse of their fans (mostly the female kind), alcohol abuse and defiance of the law.....guess we need a song about drugs. This is about heroin. Interestingly, the song doesn't celebrate drug use but instead points out the negatives of heroin use.

6. Paradise City - Another song about Hollywood and longing for the more idyllic lands of their upbringing.

7. My Michelle - Written for a friend that said she wanted to be immortalized in song. The first version of the song was some sappy love song. Axl rewrote the song to more accurately reflect her actual life....she apparently loves the song.

8. Think About You - Its an attempt at a love song. But not as good as the song that comes after this one.

9. Sweet Child O' Mine - What originally started as a guitar picking exercise, would become the bands only #1 hit. Happy accidents are the lifeblood of rock musicians. While Slash insisted it wasn't a song, the rest of the band encouraged him to continue while they all added their instruments to the song and Axl quickly scribbled down a few lyrics about his girlfriend at the time. Fame and stardom was never more unintentionally stumbled upon. Its always fun to think about how the song would have changed if GPS had existed back in 1987. Listen to the lyrics after the guitar solo and you'll understand.

10. You're Crazy - All things considered.....I'm sure he wasn't a joy to live with either.

11. Anything Goes - I spent a little bit of time on the Sunset Strip, this probably worked with a few of the groupies....not that its ok, but still.

12. Rocket Queen - The tale of two women. Written about another female friend of the band who is also proud of being the subject of this song.....but its the girl heard having sex during the guitar solo whose tale needs telling. That's actually the drummer's girlfriend having sex in the studio with Axl (she also wanted to be immortalized on the record).

Lets take a look at the first video from the band, Welcome To The Jungle....please enjoy.

Friday, June 2, 2017

I Went To School With Who???

Centerfold by J. Geils Band

Released in September of 1981, the song made it to #1 on the US charts and was a huge hit for the band. They had been radio darlings back in the late 1970's but this song blew the door right off its hinges for their career and helped to make the album that the song came from, Freeze Frame, a #1 hit as well. The song deals with a guy learning that the girl he knew from school has become a centerfold model and now she's the object of everyone's desire and not just his.

The video had plenty to offer the MTV crowd. Lots of models acting like the school girls from the lyrics and dancing around in their underwear. But lets not forget a few of the moments that made this video a classic. The drummer doing a drum roll in a drum filled with milk. All the girls doing cartwheels across the hall as lead singer, Peter Wolf, runs through them. And of course, all the skimpy night gowns (sorry, I'm back to being 15 again).

But the song also reminds me of some actual people I knew. I went to high school with a centerfold model and a porn star. Traci Lords was in my English class 2 years in a row. Of course her name wasn't Traci in our school. She was Nora. This is a picture of her below.

Looks like your average 1980's high school girl. But this is what her "professional" photos looked like...

BTW this photo was not easy to find as most "professional" photos of Traci from this era are either non existent or are simply illegal.....and I can not comment on her performance in any of her films as those would also be non-existent or illegal (she's verrrryy good). As Traci Lords she made dozens of porn films and continued to go to high school. She sat next to me one year and never knew what the homework had been so I was often helping her. When it was discovered that she was underage while making all those films, lots of people got in trouble and all of the films and pictures she made immediately became Child Pornography and were pulled from sale (the picture above is NOT illegal 'cause she's not nude......just putting that out there for legal reasons...just in case). By the 1990's Traci had become a legitimate actress and a DJ and is a much happier person (I read that somewhere).

The centerfold model was a girl named Brandy but she was a year younger than me. Here's a picture of her from her magazine cover.

Brandy was of legal age when she started her modeling career, so no legal trouble here. I didn't know her other than seeing her in the halls but one of my brothers insists that he dated her. I don't remember that. Brandy became the 1992 Penthouse Pet of the Year and is now an actress and model.

Now, to be clear, I never "got with" either of the two girls (its a question I ALWAYS get asked. Seriously? I'm not that cool) but in the years since I graduated, this song has always made the memory of these two girls come to mind.

Please enjoy.