We're a geek couple living in PA with our two boys -- Milo and Otis -- who are short, orange, and furry. Oh, and they're the cats we're bookended by! We love movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for May 19, 2017



[A-weema-weh] -- This evening, Montgomery Theater Too's production of DISNEY'S THE LION KING, JR. opens for a two-weekend run. Although Disney's animated film, The Lion King, was originally released in 1994, I think I can find a few 80s songs to share in honor of the local stage production. And I won't even have to tap the work of 70s and 80s icon, Elton John, who co-wrote songs for The Lion King's soundtrack. Still, each song in this week's playlist will have at best a rather tenuous connection to the subject matter. That should be fun, right? 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for May 12, 2017


[Word to the Mothers - Redux] -- I am re-running a previous Mother's Day Flashback post.

This weekend we in the U.S. observe Mother's Day. I don't know if you've ever looked for "mother" songs before, but there are many, many songs with some variation of "mother" in the title or lyrics (mother, mama, mom, etc.). However, the subject matter of the vast majority of those tunes, particularly in the 80s, was not exactly fodder for Hallmark. And, on top of that challenge, two songs that I thought were perfect for the holiday were not recorded or released in the 80s. They both came out in 1991. So, I've been scrambling to fill out this week's playlist. I think I have successfully crafted a flashback set that honors mothers, recognizes folks who have less-than-perfect relationships with their mothers, and gives a nod to something that most mothers believe about their offspring at one time or another. So don't just sit there and wonder what three songs I have for you this week. Read and hear more after the break!

Friday, May 5, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for May 5, 2017



[Wrascally Wrabit] -- In the 80s, long before the days of the interwebz and streaming music on demand, there were only a few ways to discover new (or nearly new) music. First, of course, you had your friends. Then you had radio shows. Next, there were record stores, if you were lucky enough to have a local shop. After that, you had to rely on magazine and newsletters, which were printed on real paper. Kind of limiting, right? Well, there was one more option for the adventurous seeker. And by "adventurous," I mean, "doesn't mind possibly wasting some money." That option, my friends, was the cut-out bin.

The concept of the cut-out goes back to the 1960s and it started with vinyl, both LP records and 45s, but it was also applied to cassette tapes and, later, compact discs. That means the cut-out was not unique to the 80s, but it was probably the last decade that featured such selections prominently. In regard to vinyl, a store employee would cut a notch into, or cut an entire corner off of, the LP record jacket. This was to indicate that the record could not be returned to the retailer for a refund. Cassettes and CDs would receive a similar treatment; their spines would be cut, or a facing corner would be drilled. In all cases, only the cover or case was damaged. The music medium was untouched. The cut-out would often feature a special sale sticker as well, as these items were then dramatically discounted to move them out of stock.

You probably see what I'm getting at now, right? Items in the cut-out bin were often considered commercial failures. They likely featured songs that had little, if any, airplay. And there was even less information about the artist and their songs. But you could purchase a handful of cut-out records for the same amount of money as one popular record or tape. The only risk: You could end up walking home with a pile of garbage. And, if you were truly hit music oriented, you probably would have found precious little to enjoy in such a haul. If you were a bit of weirdo, like me, however, you often found treasure like today's Flashback artist: Wrabit.

I could give you all the background info on this Canadian band that I never had back in the 80s. Or, I could simply direct you to their page on CanadianBands.com. Having done that, I can now tell you that I'm revisiting their 1981 debut album. Somehow, I was able to acquire the Canadian only release in the cut-out bin of my local G.C. Murphy's. It was repacked for the U.S. in 1982 as Wrough And Wready. Fun fact: Bugs Bunny artist Chuck Jones designed the band's logo. Anyway, if you want to check out some tracks with me, you can read and hear more after the break.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for 4/28/2017



[Guilty Pleasures 2 (or is it 3?)] -- Well, it's my birthday weekend. Somehow, this past week, the topic of guilty pleasures in regards to music came up. You know, songs you like even though you feel a little embarrassed about it. I first posted a few such Guilty Pleasures in 2013. I did another set in 2014, but not under the banner of "Guilty Pleasures" (that was All Right, Already, Enough with the Flamingos!) Generally speaking, if I like a song from the 80s, I'm not embarrassed about it. But that doesn't mean other folks share my opinion. So, I've decided to share a few more of my unpopular opinions. If you're curious to know three more songs that rank on my list of guilty pleasures, you can read and hear more after the break.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for April 14, 2017

J. Geils: 1946 - 2017

[RIP J. Geils] -- J. Geils, guitarist and leader of the J. Geils band, passed away this week.  I have so many fond memories of the J. Geils Band's music that I had to make them the subject of this week's Flashback post. The band had its roots in the mid-60s as an acoustic blues trio called Snoopy and the Sopwith Camels. By 1968, they had opted for a more electric sound, added a few members, and rebranded themselves as the J. Geils Blues Band. They dropped the "Blues" part of the name by the time they recorded their eponymous debut album in 1970. Their third album, Bloodshot (1973), was their first taste of commercial success. But it wasn't until 1980 that they reached their peak level of success and mainstream popularity. That was shouldered squarely by two records: Love Stinks (1980) and Freeze-Frame (1981). Everyone knows the big hits from those records ("Love Stinks," "Centerfold," and "Freeze-Frame"). So the rest of this Flashback will feature a few of their lesser known tunes. I might be the only person to hold them in as high esteem as their hits, but perhaps you'll come to embrace them as I do. They're waiting for you just after the jump. Feel free to let me know your favorites as well.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Heart of Batman (Batman, Vol. 3 #20)

Yeah, Batman is still here. Respect!

The finale of "I am Bane," the fourth arc of writer Tom King's run on Batman, comes to a close in Batman, Vol. 3 #20. Tom King (Omega Men, The Vision, The Sheriff of Babylon) might not have been everyone's pick to follow Scott Snyder, but I know I was psyched about it (I mean, I love, love LOVED his run on Omega Men). And now, after having lit a proverbial fuse about 10 issues ago, this story has paid off in spades. Or batarangs. OK, maybe not batarangs. I don't think a single batarang was thrown in this throwdown between Bane and Batman.

Anyway, if I'm being honest, I'm worried any time Bane is front and center. Not because I'm worried about what will happen to Batman. No, it's because I'm one of maybe a dozen Bat-fans out there who don't really care for this villain who looks, acts, and talks like a professional wrestling trope on steroids. Was that redundant? Maybe. But in the hands of King and the art team, Bane has been almost interesting. And I've been on the edge of my seat with each issue.

So, if you don't care about following a full story and just want a great fight where Batman shows his major gravitas, pick up this single issue. But, if you're interested in a carefully crafted yarn that shows the heart and soul of Batman, read through this entire run from the beginning of Batman Rebirth.


Batman, Vol. 3 #20
April 5, 2017
Tom King (writer)
David Finch and Danny Miki (art)



Weaponize Cuteness (Giant Days #25)


Bobbie: "You can't weaponize cuteness."
Susan: "Watch me."



Giant Days #25
Boom! Studios 
April 5, 2017


Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for April 7, 2017


[April 7, 1984] -- Do you remember what you were doing this week in 1984? I know I was still in high school, but I have no specifics. I do, however, recall the tunes in this week's Flashback. Today we're revisiting the three tracks that topped the Billboard Hot 100 on April 7, 1984. We have two soundtrack songs, one of which is a ballad, and a song about paranoia. Man, and wait till you see how prescient that song turned out. Anyway, I'm getting ahead of myself. So, while I take a moment to sort myself, you click the jump so you can read and hear more after the break. 

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback on a Saturday for April 1, 2017


[April Fools'] -- April 1. The 32nd of March. April Fools' (or All Fools) Day. Yes, we have come to that annual observance of mirth and (hopefully minimally destructive and non-lethal) mayhem. You know: The day of reckoning (or, day of pranks and hoaxes). Well, rather than prank you, dear 80s-philes, I shall take pity on you and merely deliver an appropriately "foolish" set of 80s tunes. With an entire decade of artists who often looked the part of fools in addition to acting the role, I have many options. However, rather than looking to the Pucks and jesters who ruled (or attempted to rule) the charts, I chose to narrow my focus to their songs, specifically songs with some form of "fool" in the title. 

What foolishly delightful selections do I have for you this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for March 17, 2017



[Human's Lib is 33!] -- Howard Jones' debut album, Human's Lib (1984), was the first compact disc I ever purchased. In fact, I purchased it before I even owned a CD player. You see, I was saving up for the player, and I just wanted to ensure that I had something on hand when I finally connected it to my stereo system. Anyway, Human's Lib was released in the UK on March 17, 1984, and entered the UK Album Charts in the #1 spot. It hit the US in June of that same year. Human's Lib spent a total of 57 weeks on the UK charts and has been certified 2× Platinum. It also went Gold in many European countries and the US. All four singles from this album reached the UK top 20, the first two of which even reached the US top 50. None of that is surprising as this album is so full of 80s pop goodness that just about every track could be considered a true gem. But ... I can choose only three to share with you this week. So which tunes made the cut this week? Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for March 10, 2017



[30 Years of The Joshua Tree] -- U2's fifth studio album, The Joshua Tree, was released on March 9, 1987. As you might have gleaned from my Flashback's theme, that record is 30 years old this week! I was in my freshman year at Penn State when this record landed. Before college, I knew all the songs on The Unforgettable Fire (1984), the only U2 record I owned, and the singles off War (1983). But that was it. I had about a four year gap in my U2 knowledge. But a guy down the hall in my dormitory (Holmes Hall) was a huge fan of U2, and his record collection introduced me to the rest of this band's history. Not only that, his enthusiasm for U2 was contagious. So, when The Joshua Tree was announced (by posters and flyers as this was pre-Internet), we began a countdown and waited for its release. He bought a copy on the day the record dropped. We took it back to his room and listened to it, start to finish, twice. Right then, we knew this record was going to propel U2 to the next level of stardom. Of the six singles -- six! -- released from this record, only two failed to chart. Of the charting songs, two peaked at #1, one peaked at #13, and one squeaked into the the #44 slot, all of which on the Billboard Hot 100. And the accolades don't end there. Readers made The Joshua Tree #1 in Rolling Stone's annual Music Awards poll. Critics made it Rolling Stone's #2 album of the year. And it scored two Grammy Awards: (1) Album of the Year and (2) Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal. For this week's Flashback, lets look at some tracks that don't usually get radio play, but probably should. Read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for February 24, 2017



[Urban Dance Squad] -- For the end of February, we're going to revisit an album that came out in the final year of our favorite decade. Mental Floss for the Globe was the debut album by Urban Dance Squad, a rap rock band founded in Utrecht, Netherlands, in 1986. They recorded their debut in the middle of 1989 and released it eight months later in March of 1990. The album climbed to #54 on the Billboard 200 album chart, driven by their popular hit, "Deeper Shade of Soul," and a tour with Living Colour. I saw the Penn State show, which took place shortly after Desert Shield became Desert Storm. Urban Dance Squad was the opener, and I was fascinated with the lead singer's use of an old WWII field phone as a microphone. The three tracks for this week show a certain genius for melding rock, rap, soul, metal, etc. You can read and hear more about them after the break.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for February 17, 2017



[A Classic Case] -- I'm doing something a bit different for the Flashback this weekend. I'm featuring an album of music from the 70s ... that was re-recorded and released in the 80s ... with the backing of a symphony orchestra. I'll bet you're intrigued now, right? Well, the band in question is Jethro Tull. In 1984, the Tull lineup of Ian Anderson (flute, vocals), Martin Barre (electric guitar), Dave Pegg (bass), Peter-John Vettese (keyboards), and Dave Burgess (drums) teamed with the London Symphony Orchestra. And you can read and hear more about this project after the break.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for February 10, 2017



[Spike] -- After yet another brief hiatus, brought to you by my day job and multiple side gigs, I'm back to the blogging of 80s tunes. And what a post I have for you this weekend! Most people remember Elvis Costello's 12th studio album for the top 20 single, "Veronica," which he co-wrote with Paul McCartney. That is, if they recall the album at all. But Spike (1989) features a wealth of fabulous tracks ranging from sombre to spitfire, and it's a personal favorite. Spike was released 28 years ago this week (2/6/1989 in the UK and 2/7/1989 in the US), and it reached the #5 and #32 positions on the UK album chart and the Billboard 200 respectively. From its cover art featuring Costello's own head as the stuffed and mounted head of "The Beloved Entertainer," you knew you were in for something a bit different than his past efforts. Spike was also Costello's first album for his then new label, Warner Brothers. He started writing for it in 1987. And, as WB had provided him with a huge budget, Costello decided to use the blueprints he had in mind for five different albums. Maybe that's why this record weighs in with a whopping 15 total tracks. Now, I've already linked the album's highest charting single, so which of the remaining 14 tracks will I highlight? Well, to find that out, you can read and hear more after the jump.  

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for January 20, 2017

 

[Politics Schmolotics] -- After the November 2010 midterm election, I was looking for inspiration. Inspiration to help me write a Flashback post, and to help me move on from the election results. Now, I had heard arguments that all the best protest songs had been written and recorded in the 60s and 70s. That might be true, but I can assure you the 80s did not lack for politically charged passion or activist rhetoric. So, with this in mind, I assembled a politically minded set of Flashbacks tunes. Of course, your gut reaction to the word "protest" might very well be to add "against" after it. That's understandable. We're usually treated to, and entreated to engage in, protests against something. But you can also protest for something. You can use protest as a form of support for a cause. And the 80s tunes I highlighted back in 2010 still resonate for me in both regards of "protest," particularly in the wake of a rather vitriolic presidential election. Maybe even more so after a week of confirmation hearings for the most unqualified cabinet nominees ever assembled (not that qualifications guarantee success, but come on). Anyway, I'm still hopeful. Sure, I'm scared, too. Change is scary. There are people who are happy about this change, and there are people who are energized to fight what they perceive this change represents. Either way, if you want some 80s tunes that might help you through this transition, then read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for January 6, 2017


[First Flashback of the New Year] -- I've missed the last two weeks of 80s blogging. Travel and family obligations over the holiday season ganged up on me. And I'm sure there was some wasted time in there as well. But that's in the past, just like the whole of 2016 itself. We have a new year, brimming with possibility, and, perhaps, just a slight aroma of despair. So, I will do my best to move forward ... in my honoring of a past decade. Speaking of past decades, the calendar for 1989 is a dead ringer for that of 2017. That means you can expect me to mine 1989 for blogging content. Just like I did today. The Flashback for 1/6/2017 revisits the top three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 for 1/7/1989.  Do you remember what topped the charts 28 years ago this week? Well, read and hear more after the break to remind yourself! (But I think my accompanying image might have provided a clue or three).