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 music, movies, TV, comics, books, and comic cons. And, from time to time, we'll share our thoughts on these nerdy things.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 16, 2017 (On a Saturday)

[Sun City] -- December 1985 saw the release of "the most political of all of the charity rock albums of the 1980s" (per AllMusic). I wrote about it on it's 30th anniversary, but given what we're seeing in the news on a regular basis, I think now is a good time to revisit it. It's a damn good reminder of how far we've come ... and how much further we still have to go ... as a society.

Sun City (1985) was a protest album driven by Steven Van Zandt (perhaps best known for his affiliation with  Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band) and Artists United Against Apartheid. The name pretty much tells you what the group was all about. They recorded two versions of the song, "Sun City," and other material for this album. The personnel assembled by Van Zandt reads like a who's who of popular and critically acclaimed artists of the mid-80s. For example:
  • Little Steven (Van Zandt) – vocals, guitar, drum programming
  • Kool DJ Herc, Peter Wolf, Pat Benatar, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Cliff, Daryl Hall, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne, Bob Dylan, Nona Hendryx, Kashif, Peter Garrett, Malopoets, Gil Scott-Heron, Afrika Bambaataa, RubĂ©n Blades, Bono, George Clinton, Peter Gabriel, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Grandmaster Melle Mel, Bonnie Raitt, Run DMC, Bruce Springsteen, John Oates, Michael Monroe, Darlene Love, The Fat Boys, and others – vocals
  • Zak Starkey, Tony Williams, Ringo Starr – drums
  • Sonny Okosuns – talking drums
  • Keith LeBlanc, Benjamin Newman – drum programming
  • Pete Townshend, Stanley Jordan, Keith Richards, Ron Wood – guitars
  • L. Shankar – double violin
  • Clarence Clemons – saxophone
  • Miles Davis – trumpet
  • Herbie Hancock, Richard Scher, Robby Kilgore, Zoe Yanakis – keyboards
  • Doug Wimbish – bass; Ron Carter – acoustic bass
  • Jam Master Jay, DJ Cheese – scratches
Sun City didn't achieve great commercial success, but it did peak at #31 on the Billboard 200 pop albums chart. It did, however, receive critical acclaim in abundance, reaching #5 on the Pazz & Jop Critics Poll (yes, that's really the name) for albums for that year. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 8, 2017

[Flashbackiversary!] -- I started posting the Friday 80s Flashback on September 3, 2010. That's seven years ago as of last week! From 9/3/2010 through 4/29/2016, I made these Flashback posts over at Prophet or Madman. On 6/24/2016, I moved the Flashbacks here to Bookended by Cats. This may be surprising to you, but my very first flashback had no commentary whatsoever. It didn't even have a theme! The weekly theme didn't become part and parcel of the flashback until the fourth entry, on September 24, 2010 (a two-fer: Angry Edition and Uplifting Edition). Sample lyrics first appeared in the November 5, 2010, flashback (Politics Schmolotics). And header images made their debut with the December 10, 2010, flashback (Winter Holidays: Week 2).

So, do you remember what songs I featured seven years ago this week? It might be fun to revisit them, so read and hear more after the jump!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for September 1, 2017

[School Daze] -- Have you noticed a disturbing trend on Facebook over the past week or so? I'm not talking about storms or politics. I'm talking about the fact that parents are posting "1st day of school" photos! Now, I was initially confused because I thought the kids had recently just been let out of school for the Summer. Fortunately, the confusion was lessened slightly because July's back-to-school sales had already taken me well off guard. But, of course, Summer ends with this weekend's Labor Day holiday. People are already dreaming of pumpkin-spice everything, and even champing at the bit for sweater weather. So, how about we observe this not quite subtle schedule shift with some 80s songs about school? If you like that plan, you can read and hear more right after the jump. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Observing the Kirby Centennial

August 28, 2017, marks 100 years since Jacob Kurtzberg came into this world. Of course, we all know him better under the name he chose as he honed his profession: Jack Kirby. And he was one of the greatest storytellers ever to put pen to paper!

All this month – even starting last month during San Diego Comic Con – comic book veterans and fans have been paying loving tribute to the man known as the “King” of comics. I cannot hope to approach the quality of their tributes, particularly not in terms of addressing the breadth of Kirby’s influence. Nor can I shed new light regarding his biography. So, for details about Kirby’s place in history, as well as his own history, I will share a few links that more than satisfactorily address those topics (at the end of this post).

But I do feel the need to offer some words on this date, to participate in this grand celebration. So, I will simply share how I came to know the King’s work and what it means to me. Now, I was a child of the 70s, so my earliest comic memories date back to only about 1974. Therefore, I missed Kirby's work in comics' Golden Age, launching the Marvel universe, and creating the Fourth World. However, I was acquainted with some of his work through reprints and recycling. Here are the books that form my earliest memories of Jack Kirby, even though I did not know him by name until a decade or so after I had first read them.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Mind of Bizarro

Bizarro's "Just Us" League

Bizarro's imagining of his own origin (in Red Hood and the Outlaws, Vol. 2 #13) is just about the cutest thing ever.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for August 25, 2017

[Double Drumming] -- Many bands have one or more percussionists in addition to their drummer. Double drumming, however, refers to bands that have two drummers playing two drum kits at the same time. The intent could be to lend a fatter sound, such as when they mirror each other rhythmically, or to add complexity or interest to the main rhythm. If I had to guess, I would say it's mainly done because it looks so cool on stage. Now, double drumming has not been all that uncommon in music history, but it was not all that wide spread a technique in the 80s. So, it was a bit difficult for me to come up with three good examples for you in this week's 80s Flashback. Fear not, though, for I have prevailed, and I present a trio of double drumming instances for your 80s delight. Perhaps you can chime in with additional examples in the comments. To see what I found in the 80s vault, read and hear more after the jump.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Friday 80s Flashback for August 18, 2017

[Substance 1987] -- Another week, and another beloved album turns 30. This time, it's New Order's Substance 1987, which was released on 8/17/1987. This double LP featured the 12-inch versions of all of New Order's singles to date and a previously unreleased single, "True Faith." The CD and cassette releases included the singles' respective B-sides (the latter of the two having a few extra tracks). Here, in one place, fans had New Order's best work. It was also, for the most part, their most danceable (due in part to the fact that the 12" mixes were designed for dance clubs). One of the best descriptions of this album that I've read comes from AllMusic.com reviewer, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, who wrote that it "expanded the notion of what a rock & roll band, particularly an indie rock band, could do."

As I think about it, I probably didn't hear this record until September of 1987, after I returned to Penn State for the start of my sophomore year. Someone in Holmes Hall would have been playing it, but I'm not certain whose copy I first heard or borrowed. I'm guessing that Paul had the double album while my roommate, Jeff, had the dual cassette. Not sure who among the North Halls gang first had the CD. I did eventually have my own CD copy sometime after I left Holmes for my R.A. gig in Atherton. To this day, I keep the 12" versions of these singles on my phone. Just in case I want to listen to them while driving around.

I cannot pick just three tracks from this compilation, so I found a video that has both discs of the CD release. Enjoy!

1. Ceremony 0:00
2. Everything's Gone Green 4:23
3. Temptation 9:53
4. Blue Monday 16:52
5. Confusion 24:21
6. Thieves Like Us 29:04
7. Perfect Kiss 35:41
8. Subculture 43:43 
9. Shellshock 48:31
10. State of the Nation 55:00
11. Bizarre Love Triangle 1:01:32
12. True Faith 1:08:16

1. In a Lonely Place 0:00
2. Procession 6:16
3. Cries and Whispers 10:44
4. Hurt 14:10
5. The Beach 21:09
6. Confusion (instrumental) 28:28
7. Lonesome Tonight 36:06
8. Murder 41:18
9. Thieves Like Us (instrumental) 45:14
10. Kiss of Death 52:11
11. Shame of the Nation 59:11
12. 1963 1:07:09

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.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!