Category Archives: beatles

RIP Neil Armstrong

We have lost another great man. Last week, astronaut, explorer, hero, Neil Armstrong passed away at the age of 82. He was the first man to walk on the moon way back in 1969.

Wait a second. Didn’t he die last year? Groan. Is anyone else tired of these Twitter and Facebook delayed and fake deaths? How about those folks who read something on the internet and don’t check the date? Yeah, exactly. That said, Neil Armstrong was still a good man, a great man, and he should be remembered.

While I don’t precisely remember the event, Armstrong walking on the moon, as I was quite young, I was glued to the TV for all of the Apollo missions that followed. NASA, Apollo, space, the moon, astronauts – it was an American past time, it was hysteria, it was like Beatlemania, or Batmania, only real.

Some of my first and most beloved toys were space and astronaut themed. We were all drinking Tang and eating Space Food Sticks, and racing home from school to see the splashdowns. And to many of us, Neil Armstrong was the guy who started it. Godspeed. A year later, and forward.


Paul McCartney Really Is Dead

Paul McCartney Really Is Dead ~ This one has the also just as intriguing subtitle of “The Last Testament of George Harrison.” It comes from the gist of this documentary being tapes discovered by George Harrison disclosing the horrible secret that has burdened the Beatles for decades – that Paul really is dead. The tapes are George’s confession. Yeah, if you smell the Blair Witch, don’t worry, I do too.

Apparently all that nonsense, all those hints about the hoax that Paul was dead – it was all true. As suspected, Paul dies in a car crash. MI6 has a double, William Campbell, after cosmetic surgery, join the band as Paul. The remaining Beatles, under penalty of death keep quiet, while still leaving clues on their albums and in their music as to what really happened.

Supposedly, the voice of George narrates a somewhat skewed history of the Beatles and thereafter, with these new facts inserted, creating a new truth. All the usual stuff is in here, along with some shocking new bits. One truly bizarre addition indicates that ‘Lovely Rita,’ who witnessed Paul’s death, is actually, wait for it, Heather Mills.

As a kid, it was always fun to find the clues, but come on, we all knew it was a hoax. I gotta give the producers props for trying at least. It gives new meaning to many lyrics previously thought indecipherable, a nice touch. A fun, if at times, rather sinister, faux documentary/conspiracy theory.

RIP Ravi Shankar

Lost Hits of the New Wave #7

“Stop This Game” by Cheap Trick

The above video is from an old Italian music TV show. The song, from the 1980 album All Shook Up. Like with Alice Cooper and “Clones (We’re All),” this represented a marked change in the traditional Cheap Trick sound, aping the now more popular New Wave sound.

The song and the album were enough to put off the fans who had made Cheap Trick rock gods with their Live at Budokan album. Personnel changes kept the band from putting out a complete album for too long, and the Budokan heat had cooled. The fans were divided, rockers thought they were pop, and poppers thought they were rock, and in the end, they were screwed.

That wasn’t all that led to Cheap Trick’s downfall. Some say it was the Beatles curse, after Budokan they were dubbed the new Beatles, especially in Japan. That usually kills a band. It didn’t help that Cheap Trick themselves were huge Beatles fans, doing various covers like “Daytripper,” “Magical Mystery Tour” and even a mash-up with John Lennon of his “I’m Losing You.”

And then there were the plagiarism claims. Listen to their early 1980s pop ballad “The Flame” next to Spirit’s “Nature’s Way” if you don’t believe me. Even the above tune, “Stop This Game,” borrows a few rifts from KISS’ foray into disco and new wave, “I Was Born for Lovin’ You.”

Now, I don’t mean to bag on Cheap Trick. I still have a place in my heart for them. This song, as well as “Reach Out” from the Heavy Metal soundtrack, and “On Top of the World” from the classic 1978 album Heaven Tonight are among my favorite guilty pleasures.

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What’s Your Lunchbox?

I’m old, I grew up waaay back in the 1970s. Back then, in public school at least, everything you had was a status symbol. I’ve talked about SSP Racers before, but the real status symbol of those elementary days was The Lunchbox.

First it was all about the lunchbox you got, whether you picked it out yourself, or your parents got it for you, you were psyched for the first day of school, so you could show it off, and show everyone how cool you were. Or not.

I was a geek, I am a geek, I mean. I was never the cool kid, never. Round about first and second grade I was all into comics and also Peanuts. I loved Snoopy and Charlie Brown, and especially Linus. Why I never had a blanket or thumbsucking problem is beyond me. But the point is I had a Snoopy lunchbox.

My lunch box was a big goofy yellow dome metal lunch box that kind of had Snoopy sleeping on top as if it was his doghouse and said, “Go to school with Snoopy” and “Have lunch with Snoopy.” Again, me being a dopey kid, I had two of them, cuz I left one at the bus stop one morning. Dopey and forgetful.

At the time, and in hindsight, I really was very uncool. I still remember decades alter who had the really cool lunchboxes. “Land of the Giants” and “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” “Johnny Lightning” and “The Archies,” and the Beatles Yellow Submarine – those are the folks you wanted to sit next to at lunch, just to look at their lunchbox.

Throughout my elementary school days things changed as tin turned to plastic, the Archies turned to Josie and Pussycats, and “Land of the Giants” turned to “Six Million Dollar Man,” but the lunchbox continued to be a status symbol. It faded away as I entered junior high and high school obviously. Heck, those places had vending machines – what did we need with lunchboxes any more?

As with most nostalgia however, lunchboxes, especially the tin kind have made a comeback. We have a miniature Superfriends lunchbox as a Christmas tree ornament, and The Bride uses a Nightmare Before Christmas lunchbox for her stage make-up. So what’s your lunchbox?

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The Rock Tenor

There are times in music where genre cross and mix. When Queen brought opera into rock with “Bohemian Rhapsody” would be one such occasion. When the London Symphony Orchestra performed the songs of Queen later in the 1970s was another. Things like Apocalyptica and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra grew from these hybrids. Sometimes there are actual moments like Jam-Master Jay putting “Toys in the Attic” on the turntable or Jimi Hendrix playing “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock or Tchaikovsky bringing cannons onto a stage. That’s the kind of passion and creativity that thrives within “The Rock Tenor.”

The tagline touts the show, now running at the Wilma Theater until August 23rd, as “All the songs you love, like you’ve never heard them before.” That pretty much describes this intriguing mix of Broadway, classical and rock and roll. And it’s not just mixing genres, we also see and hear songs re-arranged as they’ve never been heard before, regardless of musical type. Know also that this is not your standard Broadway-type stage show, it is more or less a performance or a concert. No plot to follow, just sit back (or stand up, or dance!) and enjoy this melding of musical style.

Lead vocalist Rob Evan is a veteran of the musical stage, appearing in Jekyll & Hyde, Les Miserables, Little Shop of Horrors and Dance of the Vampires. His foremost singing credit is probably singing lead for the aforementioned Trans-Siberian Orchestra. He is flanked by a stage of amazing vocalists and musicians including Betsy Goode and Susan Aquila on strings and the subtle but powerful J.D. Valenteen on guitar. The latter’s charisma shines from the background throughout the show.

The mixing of Journey with Sondheim, Daughtry with Les Miz, Bocelli with The Police, and Puccini with Led Zep are brilliant. And had the cast stayed with that type of magic, the show would have been perfect. While I found the unique covers of the Beatles’ “Yesterday” and Leonard Cohen’s “Halleujah” equal to the task, I was just as disappointed with the redos of “Life Is a Highway” and especially “Paradise by the Dashboard Light.” By the same token, I thought singer Morgan James’ “Somebody to Love” amazing yet Evan’s Queen tribute a bit over the top. I might put “The Devil Went Down to Philly” in the same category had it not highlighted the mad skillz of Goode and Aquila.

All that said, this is an incredible show that I highly recommend to everyone. The crowd I saw it with was very mixed age-wise, and everyone enjoyed immensely. For young or old, fans of rock or classical, everyone should see “The Rock Tenor.”

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Quickies 8-3-2009

Imagine That ~ This is actually pretty good, imagine that. Unlike Adam Sandler who I really don’t care for, I like Eddie Murphy. Like Adam Sandler however, Eddie keeps making terrible films. When The Bride wanted to see this new one, I just groaned but went along just cuz I love her and all – but I was relatively sure I was not going to enjoy it. Surprise! And a pleasant one too. Imagine That is a feel-good little family film. It’s a tad predictable and requires a bit of that old suspension of disbelief from the adults, but still a lot of fun. Great Beatles cover soundtrack too.

American Zombie ~ A cool concept of a documentary made about zombies in a world where they have integrated into society. It moves swiftly from funny art school hi-jinks with a camera to Blair Witch-esque horror to conspiracy theories. Just when you think it’s run its course the film changes form like a basilisk. More intriguing and compelling than it deserves to be.

I Hate Valentine’s Day ~ More anti-chick flick chick flick entertainment from Nia Varadalos. She seems to excel on using the formula while bringing a new twist or touch to it. This one, written and directed by Nia, reunites her with My Big Fat Greek Wedding co-star John Corbett. Cliched but fun, definitely worth seeing.

Knowing ~ More of Nicholas Cage playing himself flawlessly in a one note flick. Unimpressive, despite the intriguing premise, but the disaster scenes are pretty cool though. It’s a shame the rest of the film doesn’t match up. For a movie about predicting the future, this was just waaay too predictable.

Pauly Shore Is Dead ~ Probably the best Pauly Shore film ever, period. Smarter and funnier than it should be – if only it had an ending.

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The Beatles – Rock Band

Courtesy of Brad Meltzer and E3 2009, here comes the sneak preview trailer for “The Beatles: Rock Band.”

Check it out here.

It just doesn’t get any cooler than this. The Beatles. Rock Band. Anime. Pychedelics. And of course, the Beatles. Wow. A shame the actual game (see below) just doesn’t look half as cool…

The game releases on September 9th, 2009.


Paul McCartney Makes Mashed Potatoes