Category Archives: 1980s

Lost Hits of the New Wave #29

“Bop ‘Til You Drop” by Rick Springfield

There was a time when Rick Springfield was cool, we may all want desperately to want to forget it, but it’s true. Memory is a tricky thing. We may want to remember Rick Springfield as bubble gum pop, but there was a time he was considered not only rock, but even a little tiny bit new wave. I heard “Jessie’s Girl” for the first time on WMMR, and follow-ups “Affair of the Heart,” and the two videos featured here, all on WYSP during their new music hour.

Rick Springfield was impossibly huge in the early 1980s, between his music career, appearances on “General Hospital,” and even a feature film Hard to Hold, before vanishing into semi-obscurity.

The truth is that he had been around a long time before his ‘overnight success,’ was a minor pop idol and even had his own Saturday morning cartoon in the 1970s. And after, he was the original “Forever Knight,” the original “Human Target,” and released what I think his best album, Tao.

I fully agree with my online friend DJ Marilyn Thomas, “Bop ‘Til You Drop” is a New Wave song, no matter what you say, you selective memory music heathens.

And then there’s this one…

“Human Touch” by Rick Springfield

Rocker trying desperately to be new wave in a music video, trying to capitalize on the odd music video fashions of the time, pretending it’s the future, and looking uncomfortable the whole time – check. For a long time, this was what music videos looked like. At least it’s not…

“You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Wow, the future looked kinda bleak in the early 1980s…

Lost Hits of the New Wave #28

“Wot” by Captain Sensible

Honestly I had never really thought of this one as lost, but as more of a classic, but it’s been pointed out to me recently by someone who really knows his music – this was something new to him. New, but properly loved, as it should be.

“Wot” is one of my favorites of the new wave era, and could be listened to on a loop for maybe hours, grooving every moment. I love it. And the fact he namedrops and disses Adam Ant in the song just makes all that much cooler.

Captain Sensible goes way back in the punk and new wave movements. He founded The Damned, was in the supergroup Dead Men Walking, and was the first of many to record “Jet Boy, Jet Girl,” which I am sure we’ll cover here at some point. Last I heard, the Captain had formed his own anarchist political party over in the UK. Still punking after all these years.

Miley Gone Mad?

With an impending birthday coming this week, after watching the opening number of this year’s MTV VMAs, I had to ask myself two questions. Or rather one question with a choice. Am I old, or has Miley Cyrus lost her mind?

I am concerned for her well being honestly. The woman is clearly out of control, if not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or just plain stupidity. If she was a close friend, or a member of our families – you know damned straight she’d be long overdue for an intervention.

Yeah, and there it is. It’s not like the VMAs don’t have a reputation for controversy. I remember quite clearly as a young man seeing Madonna hump the floor in a bridal gown while singing “Like a Virgin.” I will never forget that as long as I live. Later shows have tried to recreate or top that moment, but rarely succeeding. It may be time for MTV to stop trying to do that, and just do an awards show. The Oscars and the Tonys have both shown in recent years that ‘just an awards show’ can actually be quite good.

What bothers me most about the Miley Cyrus performance at the VMAs is that no one stopped it, no one pulled her aside and said No. Even Robin Thicke, especially co-conspirator Robin Thicke should have known better. Lady GaGa is outrageous. Madonna is outrageous. But poor Miley just made us feel embarrassed and worried for her.

Outrageous, unique, and controversial are something to aspire to in the entertainment industry, but this was just a freak show, and pitiful and shocking for most of us to watch. And I’m sure Will Smith and his family agrees with me.

Ben Affleck Is Batman!

So Ben Affleck will play Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, likely to be called Batman Vs. Superman.

The announcement came late last night while my friend Ray and I were recording this week’s GAR! Podcast. Had we known, we surely would have been discussing it. Instead you get the usual Prince, Dave Sim, Avengers, and French fries mix of goodness, lucky you. You can hear it here, shameless plug.

After the recording I got on Facebook and Twitter to watch the internet explode. Seemed like no one was happy with the casting.

Well, he’s no Michael Keaton. I mean, it could be worse. He could be Michael Keaton.

What’s that you say? Michael Keaton was one of the best Batmen, he was Batman. Yeah, right. Y’all got selective memories. I remember it quite differently.

I remember people screaming and whining that Mr. Mom/Beetlejuice was the worst choice for a serious version of Batman. The balding no-chinned comedian was no Batman. In the pre-internet world of 1988, this was a horrible mistake, and the angry fanboy letters burning the pages of the Comics Buyer’s Guide were proof of it.

And now, over two decades and two movies later, Keaton is considered one of the best Batmen. So why are people so riled up about Ben Affleck? Because Daredevil was a dud in the theaters? Hell, I liked Daredevil, and liked the director’s cut even more. I even liked Elektra.

And even if I’m wrong about that, what about Affleck’s Oscar and other awards and nominations for acting, writing, and directing? He even has comic book cred beyond Daredevil as an actor in the Kevin Smith films and playing George (Superman) Reeves in Hollywoodland. Talk Gigli and Pearl Harbor all you want, you can’t take Argo or The Town away from him. Everyone has hits and misses.

I think Ben Affleck can pull off Batman and Bruce Wayne like a pro. I dare say he might be a better Batman than anyone else we’ve seen. And yeah, I’m saying that based on his Daredevil performance. I stand behind Ben as Batman. If Michael Keaton could do it…

Lost Hits of the New Wave #27

This has happened before. Even though I lived through the New Wave era, the 1980s give or take, there are still songs that eluded me. This is another.

I knew the name Robyn Hitchcock, and I had seen it dozens upon dozens of times flipping through albums while shopping or browsing (or filing albums when I worked in a record store). But oddly enough, I don’t actually recall ever hearing any of his music. At least not when it was current.

“Balloon Man” by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians

Now I hear the tune quite often on the First Wave channel on SiriusXM. Robyn Hitchcock continues to make music today. Check out his website here.

Behind the Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra ~ I remember Liberace from my childhood. I remember him from the 1966 “Batman” TV show (in syndication, I’m not that old), where his appearance as villainous twin brothers equaled the series’ highest rated episodes. Such was the power of Liberace. He was not only a fabulous piano player, and a faaah-bulous showman, he was a huge star, and a serious draw when it came to stage and screen. When Liberace was on TV, for various reasons, you had to see it, and his stage show, whether in Vegas, New York, or LA, it was always a sensation.

While it wasn’t talked about back then, I think everyone knew Liberace was gay, it was oddly accepted he was different in that way. Liberace was wholesome entertainment. When I heard HBO was making a movie about him, I feared the worst. Especially after recent hack jobs on Phil Spector and Alfred Hitchcock. HBO knows how to make quality television series, but the folks who make their movies are out of control.

When I heard it would be about Liberace and his last lover, Scott Thorson, I knew it would be another smear piece. Thorson’s book of the same name was a memoir in much the same vein as Mommy Dearest.

Then I heard about the casting, and I was intrigued. Michael Douglas as Liberace, and Matt Damon as Scott Thorson. Wow. Boggles the mind, doesn’t it? Here’s the thing, they pull it off, they pull it off mind bogglingly well. When I see a flick with a big name star, if I can stop calling them by name, and believe they are the character, that’s impressive to me. For instance, Meryl Streep and Mel Gibson are always Meryl and Mel to me, but here, this was Liberace and Thorson. The actors’ performances are stunning.

True or not, those performances are scarred by the outrageous and flamboyant story. It may have happened that way, and they may have worn those clothes, but the absurdity of the situations take away from the quality of Douglas and Damon.

It also doesn’t help that the rest of the cast is filled out by comedians and actors doing their crazy best. Rob Lowe, Dan Ackroyd, Scott Bakula, and Debbie Reynolds, among others, are at their insane peak, equal to Douglas and Damon.

Should you watch it? Definitely. Behind the Candelabra is both time capsule and freakshow, and most importantly a manic showcase for the actors involved, and nowhere near the usual trainwreck we have gotten recently from HBO Films.

Evolve or Die, A Star Trek Rant

Those Star Trek people infuriate me. You know the ones I mean. Whether they call themselves Trekkers or Trekkies (and yes, I do know the difference), it makes no difference when it comes to the 2009 reboot of the franchise, and its upcoming sequel in just a few weeks.

Let’s be serious now – if Gene Roddenberry had actually gotten his “Star Trek: Phase II” on the air when he wanted to, would we be still talking about Trek now or would the proposed series just be an embarrassing footnote like “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island” or “The Brady Bunch Hour”? Let’s all be thankful that Star Wars was so successful, and Paramount made Roddenberry move it to the big screen.

And while we’re being thankful, let’s be thankful for J.J. Abrams for finding a way to both be faithful to continuity, and to free himself of it. He paid respect to the fans, and opened up the field for a new generation of fans. It works in the story, and you have the old continuity and the new continuity existing side by side. And come on, it’s not like time paradoxes and parallel universes are foreign territory for the franchise. It’s almost the norm if you look at the original series.

Let’s talk about TOS, as “The Original Series” is called. It may as well stand for The Old Series, because it’s dated. Worse than that, “Next Gen” is even more painful when it comes to looking dated. Special effects and hairstyles weigh down TOS, but man oh man, ST:TNG just screams eighties. It’s so bad, it’s almost embarrassing. And for most of these Trek people, TNG is the gospel canon.

I lost interest in Trek television, when “Deep Space Nine” came along, and once the Captains met in the movies, I was out of there too. “Enterprise” brought me back. The Trek people hate “Enterprise.” I think it was great, it not only brought me back to Trek, it brought The Bride as well. The Trek folks whined about how the Vulcan protagonist behaved, behavior that was rationalized in the context of the series by the way.

These are the same people that don’t have a problem with Klingons not having ridges in TOS, faulty physics, jumbled histories and timelines, and of course the fantasy of a cashless society. But a Vulcan enacting free will, that’s wrong. It’s okay for Spock, but nobody else.

Seems to me that the Trek folks have a problem with the mainstream taking their toys. It was okay when no one else liked Star Trek, but when there’s a blockbuster movie, they get defensive. And I throw the “Doctor Who” latecomers into the same garbage bin.

I loved Abrams’ Star Trek, and can not wait for the sequel. All y’all old Trekkies and Trekkers, feel free to stay home and not see it, just shut up about it. You’re ruining it for the rest of us.

Annette Funicello 1942-2013

April has been lousy with famous deaths, and today we lost another great one. I grew up with Annette Funicello, and no, I’m not that old. In the 1970s, there were reruns of the original “Mickey Mouse Club” on TV every weekday afternoon, and the 1960s Beach Party movies ran quite often on the UHF channels. I was very familiar with who she was, and even dug her when she would appear on talk shows and variety shows, and even Skippy peanut butter commercials, of the era at her current age.

Annette was a regular on “MMC” as well as appearing in their serials and several other Disney television series and movies. Later she moved on to the popular Beach Party films with Frankie Avalon, as well as having many top ten hits as a singer, one of them eventually becoming the theme to “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson. She made a comeback in 1987 starring with Avalon in Back to the Beach, a clever homage to the Beach Party movies.

Continuing to sing, act, and make appearances over the next decade, Annette was eventually diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, complications of which finally took her life earlier today in California. We have truly lost another legend today, of many media. Annette Funicello will be missed.


RIP Roger Ebert

After announcing a leave from work yesterday, today, Roger Ebert passed away after a long battle with cancer. He was 70.

The multiple award winning Roger Ebert has been a big part of my life for at least thirty years, maybe longer. He has been an influence, an inspiration, and even yes, an advisor as to what movie I should see and not see. I loved watching “Sneak Previews” with him and Gene Siskel when it first aired in the 1980s, and immediately gravitated to Ebert as a guy who liked the kind of films I did.

Regarding the original “Sneak Previews,” in college, a friend pointed out that the ‘bald guy’ knew film, but the ‘fat guy’ knew about films we wanted to see. My friend, fellow writer, and fellow movie reviewer, Derrick Ferguson said today on Facebook, “He understood that genre movies had to be compared to other genre movies and based on the standards of that genre… you don’t compare “A Nightmare On Elm Street” to “Gone With The Wind” You compare it to “Friday the 13th” or “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”” Well said, my friend.

We didn’t always agree, but such is the way of critics of any media, but I knew he was one of us. He understood genre, he understood movies so bad they were good, and he understood what really made for a good film. I loved his books on film, and even his outlandish Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Ebert was an extraordinary writer, reviewer, and entertainer, and he will be missed.

James Herbert 1943-2013

Stephen King may have always been the king of horror since his emergence in the mid-seventies, but for a while at the same time, there was one man who outsold King in horror in the UK. I discovered James Herbert around 1980, and found him to be a suitable rival to King. Where King took his time, Herbert seemed to go right for the jugular. He was a similar writer but with a more canny sense of the horrific and the repulsive – a true master of the genre.

His books, The Fog (unrelated to the James Carpenter film), The Rats and its sequels, and especially The Dark were early influences on my writing just as much as King in that genre. He was extremely prolific, pumping out a book a year during the 1980s and slowing down as the years went on.

Author James Herbert passed away yesterday at the age of 69. The man will be missed, but his work will live on. If you’re a fan of King, I urge you to seek out Herbert’s books, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised, and horrified.