Bookended by Cats was named after Milo and Otis. They are the short, orange, and furry brothers who, upon entering our lives in 2003, often bookended us on our couch. And who are we? We're a geek couple living in PA. We love music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Friday, May 10, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for May 10, 2024

[Still Twisted] -- Once again, my inner (glam) metalhead comes to the fore. This week, it's for Stay Hungry, Twisted Sister's third studio album which was released 40 years ago today. Even if you know nothing else of Twisted Sister, you probably know "We're Not Gonna Take It" and "I Wanna Rock," the first two singles off this album, both of which became the band's signature tunes. These two tracks remain staples of 1980s hair metal. "We're Not Gonna Take It" peaked at #21 and #7 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and US Mainstream Rock charts respectively, while "I Wanna Rock" languished near the bottom of both charts (#68 on US Billboard Hot 100 and #35 on US Mainstream Rock). Those songs, and their music videos, helped propel Stay Hungry to Platinum sales, and a spot at #15 on the US Billboard 200, making it Twisted Sister's most commercially successful album. 

At the time, "We're Not Gonna Take It" was considered controversial and it was targeted by the PMRC in their crusade against violent and sexual lyrical content. The PMRC's efforts in the 1980s led to Twisted Sister's vocalist,, to appear at a PMRC senate hearing. And, yes, that was the same hearing at which Frank Zappa appeared. Both Zappa and Snider spoke out against censoring rock lyrics, and made the PMRC look like absolute fools.

The notorious reputation of "We're Not Gonna Take It" has diminished over time, leading Dee Snider to claim that it "...has become almost a folk song, but the message has gotten lost" (via rock107.com). And when right wingers really didn't get the message, Dee had to spell it out for them.

Still, at this point in 1984, Twisted Sister had finally achieved fame and acclaim, and their album was blasting from radios and cassette players for most of the year. 

FlashbackStay Hungry (May 10, 1984)




And that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, May 3, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for May 3, 2024


[Goodbye Dad - Redux] -- I am taking another break from revisiting albums that turn 40 in 2024. This week is the 11th anniversary of my father's death. And, just as it did 11 years ago, May 3 falls on a Friday. So, I will pull the same three tracks I shared on that day, as well as two additional songs. They are the songs I picked to work through, and continue to work through, that sense of loss. If you care to join me, read and hear more below.


Flashback #1"My body bruised, she's got me with | Nothing to win and | Nothing left to lose."

First up, we have U2's "With or Without You" from their 1987 album, The Joshua Tree. It is one of the band's most recognizable songs. It can be interpreted either as a love song or about spiritual need. Or, perhaps, surrendering to love or spiritual faith. Therefore, just as I did back in 2013, I dedicate it to both my mother and my father.




Flashback #2"You don't have to put up a fight."

OK. It's another U2 song, and it's not even from the 80s. However, "Sometimes You Can't Make it on Your Own" (from their 2004 album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb) is simply perfect for today. So many people traveled with me, and supported me, on the journey during which I lost my father. I could not make it on my own, and I did not have to. 




Flashback #3"If you're lost, you can look, and you will find me."

Sure, Cyndi Lauper made "Time After Time" famous, but I think Tuck & Patti recorded the greatest version of this song. You can find it on Tears of Joy, the acoustic duo's 1988 debut album. 



Flashback #4Instrumental

"Last Train Home" is an instrumental by guitarist and composer Pat Metheny. It was first recorded by the Pat Metheny Group on their 1987 album, Still Life (Talking). My father is responsible for me being a fan of Pat Metheny. And because this track really has the sound and feel of a moving train, and my late father loved trains, I can imagine it is part of the soundtrack that played him on to his next home after his terrestrial life. 




Flashback #5"It's hard living life on this memory-go-round."

Sure, you might laugh that I'm ending this Flashback with a song by Night Ranger, but is there any better line about losing a loved one than "memory-go-round"? Well, there might be, but I can't think of it right now. "Goodbye" can be found on 7 Wishes (1985).




And that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, April 26, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for April 26, 2024

 


[38 Years Ago This Week and Five Years Ago Today] -- I'm graduating from graduate school this weekend. Yup, 56-year-old me is getting a Masters degree. Five years ago, in April 2019, I was accepted into the Interreligious Chaplaincy program at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities. Five years ago today, April 26, 2019, was a Friday, just like April 26, 2024. So, to save time while I'm packing and preparing for graduation weekend, I'm repurposing that prior 80s Flashback post, which looked at songs and events from April 26, 1986. On or around that day, Marshall Holman won the Firestone World Bowling Tournament of Champions, France performed a nuclear test, the Chernobyl nuclear power station in USSR exploded, and these five songs topped the Billboard Hot 100. 

Time for a flashback countdown, from #5 to #1!

Flashback #5"So tell me why can't this be love?"

"Why Can't This Be Love" was the first single off Van Halen's seventh studio album, 5150 (1986). It was also the first single with the band's new lead singer, Sammy Hagar, and it would peak at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. It also helped drive 5150 to a #1 position on the US Billboard 200, Van Halen's first album to reach that position. But as of today, April 26, "Why Can't This Be Love" was sitting at the #5 slot.




Flashback #4"These are the days | When you wish your bed was already made."

The Bangles released "Manic Monday" as the first single off their second studio album, Different Light (1986). It hit the charts on January 27, 1986, and climbed to its peak position of #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 on April 19, 1986. It kept the #2 slot for April 26, 1986, before beginning its drop. 




Flashback #3"If when why what how much have you got."

British synth duo Pet Shop Boys originally released a version of "West End Girls" in April of 1984. But their first single with major label BMI, "Opportunities (Let's Make Lots of Money)" in 1985, didn't get much attention. So the duo decided to re-record "West End Girls" and release it as a new single. The new version hit charts in October 1985, and it climbed to its peak position of #3 on April 26, 1986. 




Flashback #2"You know you're gonna have to face it, you're addicted to love."

The week of April 26, 1986, what would become Robert Palmer's signature song hit its peak position as #2 on the Billboard Hot 100. "Addicted to Love" was Palmer's second single off his eighth solo studio album, Riptide (1985). While not exactly critically acclaimed back in the day, Riptide is now considered a perfect packaging of 80s commercial sensibilities with Palmer's persuasive R&B stylings. And "Addicted to Love" with its distinctive music video was part of the driving force behind the record buying public's love of that packaging.




Flashback #1"I just want your extra time and your ... Kiss."

We lost him three years ago this week, but Prince's music lives on. "Kiss" was the lead single from Prince and The Revolution's eighth studio album, Parade (1986). "Kiss" hit the charts in February 1986, and climbed to the top position on 4/19/1986 where it remained for this week in 1986. All told, "Kiss" was on the Billboard Hot 100 for a total of 10 weeks. More than enough time for it to have a lasting impression in pop music history. Age of Chance and The Art of Noise have covered it (the latter with Tom Jones).  And "Kiss" appears on both Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and NME's 150 Greatest Singles of All Time.




That's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, April 19, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for April 19, 2024


[Reckoned 40 Years Ago] -- Forty years ago this month, R.E.M. released their second studio album, Reckoning, on I.R.S. Records. In the UK, the record came out on April 9, 1984; the US release date was the following week, on April 17. Now, even though I did not discover R.E.M. until the first semester of my freshman year at Penn State, at which time I devoured their first four studio albums. The band was a huge part of my college experience as well as my first several post-college years. So, yes, as I've previously confessed, I'm probably one of the reasons R.E.M. is considered a vanguard of "college radio."

Only two singles were released: "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" and "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville." I guess parentheses can be counted among the band's favored punctuation marks, along with periods and ellipses. "So. Central Rain" peaked at #85 on the US Billboard Hot 100, but "(Don't Go Back To) Rockville" failed to chart in either the US or the UK. The album reached #1 on several college charts wile peaking at #27 and #91 on the US Billboard 200 and the UK Album Charts respectively. 

I love both singles, and "So. Central Rain (I'm Sorry)" was part of R.E.M.'s US television debut a year earlier, but they are only two out of the album's ten tracks. So, let's highlight a few of the other tracks. First up, and coming right after "So. Central Rain" on side one of LP, is "Pretty Persuasion." This one has a nice jangle and drive to it, both of which are carried by harmonized vocals. Next is the album's intro track, "Harborcoat," which probably doesn't make too many other fave lists. For me, it is similar to "Pretty Persuasion" in that it has a good driving beat with some cooking guitar by Peter Buck, but "Harborcoat" veers away because it is, lyrically, inscrutable to me (while I believe I do understand "Pretty Persuasion"). I just go along for the ride. Finally, I have to single out one of the album's more introspective songs, "Time After Time (Annelise)." This one captures me because of the haunting, droning guitar and the equally haunting, or is that hypnotic, supporting vocals. 

What are your favorite tracks or memories from this album?


FlashbackReckoning (April 9, 1984)




And that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, April 12, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for April 12, 2024


[Grace Under Pressure] -- Forty years ago today, Rush released their 10th studio album, Grace Under Pressure. Like many bands who came to popularity in the 1970s, Rush began augmenting their three-piece sound with synths in the early 1980s. Unlike they synths that adorn some recordings in the early half of the decade, their presence on Grace Under Pressure doesn't feel forced or overly gimmicky. 

Fans liked it, too. I mean, sure, there were complaints. But the album reached reached #4 in Rush's native Canada, #5 in the UK, and #10 on the U.S. Billboard 200. And it earned a spot on Guitar World magazine's list of "50 Iconic Albums That Defined 1984." The singles – "Distant Early Warning," "The Body Electric," and "Red Sector A" – all reached the top 40 in the US, with "Distant Early Warning" actually reaching the #3 position. "Afterimage" was one of my favorite tracks, and it was released as a single in Japan (though I seem to recall it did get some radio play in the US as well). My next favorite track has to be "The Enemy Within," which is the first part of the band's "Fear Series" of songs (the other parts appeared on later albums).

Considering four decades have passed since this record was first released, many of its themes still feel rather contemporary. Musically, that's fine. But more than a few songs here were informed by cold war paranoia, so that's not exactly a positive statement on the world, is it?


Flashback: Grace Under Pressure (April 12, 1984)




And that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven!

Friday, April 5, 2024

Friday 80s Flashback for April 5, 2024


[Still Lamenting] -- A bunch of albums were released early in April 1984, so why did I choose Lament, the seventh studio album from Ultravox, for this week's Flashback post? Well, in addition to me finding many of this album's tracks still relevant today, there's also the sad fact that Ultravox bassist Chris Cross recently died at the age of 71. Cross, who co-wrote the hit "Vienna," passed away on March 25, but the announcement didn't come out until earlier this week. So, this post serves as both a Flashback and a tribute. 

Lament was released 40 years ago this week, on April 6, 1984. The album peaked at #8 in the UK, #25 in Germany, and #115 in the US. This album's peak positions in other countries generally ranges between that of the UK and the US. The three singles – "One Small Day" (which they performed at the 1985 Live Aid concert), "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes," and the title track "Lament" – were all relative hits in the UK, but failed to chart in the US. I tend to think the US missed out. 

"Dancing with Tears in My Eyes" feels rather similar to the band's 1982 single, "We Came to Dance." And both songs echo something of a sorrowful attitude within the energy of dancing. But, this week, the lyrics hit a bit differently considering all those lost to violence or even indifference: "Dancing with tears in my eyes | Weeping for the memory of a life gone by." 

"Lament" is perhaps the most sobering track on this album. Midge Ure hauntingly sings: 

And just as my eyes start seeing
After all the pain
The twist in my life starts healing
Just to twist again
In stillness, in sorrow
Returns that softly sighing lament

"One Small Day" is still a favorite of mine. It is much more guitar-driven that any song Ultravox had released up to that point. If Ultravox had recorded this with their standard synth treatment, I doubt it would have quite the same punch. Even today, four decades after its original release, this song can revive me from my doldrums. Its message: All you need is that one day, one day where you can "feel the strength of love at hand," and you can "live a life the way it's meant to be." And, sometimes, that day may be closer than you think. 

FlashbackLament (April 6, 1984)




And that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the Prophet or Madman archives or via Bookended's 80s Flashback tag. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

I'll see you in seven! 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Green Lantern: War Journal


Wow. The latest John Stewart GL series, Green Lantern: War Journal, just continues to impress. It has horror, cosmic threats, political intrigue, and heartbreaking family illness. Phillip Kennedy Johnson (script) is really dialed into John Stewart as a character, while Montos (pencils), Adriano Lucas (colors), and Dave Sharpe (lettering) are delivering epic visuals. 

The first arc just ended, but the storyline carries over into the start of a new arc with issue #7. Jump in!

Image: part of a splash page from Green Lantern: War Journal #7. This shows John Stewart in seriously uncharted cosmic territory.