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 20, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 20, 2022


[Hot Mess?] -- After achieving their first #1 album (The Game) and releasing a top 25 soundtrack (Flash Gordon) in 1980, Queen took some extra time wrangling their next studio release. And on May 21, 1982 – nearly two years after The Game dropped – Queen released Hot Space, their tenth studio album. More dance-y and more synthy, Hot Space was a definite departure for Queen. Perhaps the huge success of "Another One Bites the Dust," the fourth single off The Game, encouraged them to go for more of a dance-oriented album this time around. Maybe it was the band's inner strife and piecemeal recording process they fell into for this record. Or, it was the outsized, and perhaps unwanted (per journalist Mark Blake in the 2016 book, Freddie Mercury: A Kind of Magic), influence of Paul Prenter, Freddie Mercury's personal manager. 

Whatever made Queen expand their use of synths, add horn sections, and tinker with drum machines for an entire record, the results were ... mixed. Well, the reception was mixed. Reviews were mainly, but not entirely, negative. And sales were lukewarm. If not for "Under Pressure," a collaboration with David Bowie that was released in October 1981, the album might have been forgotten. However, with the advantage of 40 years of hindsight, Hot Space is not a bad album, it's just different. It's not what might be expected from a band largely regarded as a guitar-driven rock quartet, but Queen has never been static with their sound. They were always rather eclectic. It's just that, I suppose, Hot Space went so far in one direction that many of their fans felt left behind. Still, the album does have its fans, even if it is an experimental blip in the extraordinary career of Queen (15 studio albums, 10 live albums, 2 EPs, 2 soundtracks, and 72 singles). 

Do you have a favorite track from Hot Space? Setting aside "Under Pressure," which I always felt stands on its own rather than being part of this album, I'm kind of partial to "Put Out The Fire" and "Life Is Real (Song for Lennon)." Oh, and I like how Queen used THX 1138 (George Lucas' 1971 dystopian film) as the basis of the video for "Calling All Girls." 

FlashbackHot Space (1982)




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 13, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 13, 2022


[Shuttered Decades] -- There was a time, in the early 1980s (of course), when I thought Reach the Beach was The Fixx's debut album. This is probably because "One Thing Leads to Another" penetrated my small town's radio before either "Red Skies" or "Stand or Fall." Yes, my introduction to The Fixx came with their sophomore record, Reach the Beach, which helped the band break into the international scene in 1983. I discovered their debut album, Shuttered Room, shortly thereafter. Regardless of when I learned of it, Shuttered Room was released 40 years ago this week, on May 13, 1982. Well, the UK version came out in May 1982. The US release had to wait until October of that same year. 

But I digress.

The Fixx formed in 1979, coming together in London, England, and initially taking the name, Portraits. After a few singles and a lineup change, they became The Fix. Their very first single, "Lost Planes," along with a few live tracks, garnered them enough attention to warrant a contract offer. But that offer was contingent on a name change -- MCA was apparently worried about connotations of drug use. And, thus, The Fixx was born and they set about recording their debut album, Shuttered Room. In the US, this record peaked at #133 on the Billboard 200. The aforementioned singles -- "Stand or Fall" and "Red Skies" -- peaked at #76 and #101 on the Billboard Hot 100. They fared better on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, where "Stand or Fall" peaked at #7 while "Red Skies" hit #13. Both songs featured in MTV rotations and were top 100 hits on the UK Singles chart as well. 

Some tracks on this record have a frenetic energy and urgency, but not the sound, associated with the band's later, and bigger, hits. But I kind of feel like they could have been recorded by any other run-of-the-mill new wave band of time. In particular, "Some People," "Cameras in Paris," and "Sinking Island" evoke this feeling for me. A few other non-single tracks, however, show the band's promise. I place "The Fool," "Lost Planes," and "I Live" in this latter category. Even with those assessments of a split quality, I find the entire record to be entertaining. I'm not saying Shuttered Room is a complete album, like most of the band's later releases, but I would call it a complete experience. As usual, your mileage may vary. 

In revisiting the songs on Shuttered Room, I found that the track lists for the UK and US releases differed in song order and content (the US release replaced two tracks on side 2). For this Flashback, I compiled a playlist based on the original 10-track UK listing, but I added "I Found You" and "The Strain" -- the US replacements -- as the 11th and 12th tracks in the playlist. There were also two different videos for "Red Skies." I think this video is perhaps the more familiar version for the US record buying, and MTV-watching, audience. But as far as I can tell, the version of "Red Skies" in my embedded YouTube playlist is truly the original video for that song. Enjoy!

FlashbackShuttered Room (May 13, 1982)




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 6, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 6, 2022


[The Animals Cry] -- It's a bleak record, but we're still celebrating its 40th anniversary. Forty years ago this week – on May 4, 1982 – The Cure released Pornography*, their fourth studio album. At the outset of 1982, The Cure was pretty much at the point of a complete collapse. Substance abuse, depression, and exhaustion from constant touring... it all likely contributed to the palpable gloom of Pornography, which is widely considered their darkest album. At the very least, Pornography does represent the nadir of The Cure's emotional descent, capping off a trilogy of sorts after Seventeen Seconds (1980) and Faith (1981). 

Critics were altogether unkind in their reviews. For example, my favorite reviewer, J.D. Considine, wrote: "Pornography comes off as the aural equivalent of a bad toothache. It isn't the pain that irks, it's the persistent dullness." However, the album did well in their native country, peaking at #8 in UK's album chart and staying on the charts for nine weeks. And, in retrospect, fans (and some critics) have come to regard Pornography as a seminal entry in the history of goth rock. While the truth of this record is probably somewhere between failure and masterpiece, I tend to side with those who praise it. Then again, I had the advantage of hindsight because I didn't discover this album until 1986 or 1987. 

Pornography's third track, "The Hanging Garden," was the record's sole single, and it was a minor hit, reaching #34 in the UK. For distribution, "The Hanging Garden" was part of a gatefold double pack of 7" singles with a total of four tracks: "The Hanging Garden" and "One Hundred" as Part One, and "A Forest" (Live) and "Killing an Arab" as Part Two. This double pack was titled A Single, but it is usually referred to as "The Hanging Garden" to avoid confusion. "The Hanging Garden" begins with a wonderfully driving drum beat and an accompanying bass riff that bends and dances, almost breathlessly. Although the lyrics are absolutely sombre, and the guitar and keyboard work is somewhat wispy or dreamy, the bass and drums keep the song moving with a sense of dread urgency. This might be the only track on the record in which the instrumentation does not completely overwhelm Robert Smith's voice. 

Much of this record feels like a wall of oppressive sound, especially the drums, obscuring the vocals. The drums were a conscious decision. Apparently, drummer Lol Tolhurst played his parts in a huge open space, facilitated by removing all the acoustic dividers from the main room ["Rediscover Pornography" on Udiscover Music]. The vocals, however, are an afterthought, and I've found nothing to account for the buried vocal mix. Perhaps that was by design. Alternatively, it could have been a subconscious result of Smith's state-of-mind at the time. He apparently wanted to create "the ultimate 'fuck off' record" [according to Jeff Apter's 2006 book, Never Enough: The Story of The Cure]. 

Of course, neither Robert Smith nor The Cure suffered a demise in 1982. They've gone on to record nine more studio LPs, nine EPs, and numerous singles. Their last studio record was released in 2008, but the band still tours; a European tour was announced for the Fall of 2022.  

This week's embedded YouTube playlist mimics the eight tracks of the original 1982 release, though I took the liberty of using live versions for two of the tracks. Enjoy! 

FlashbackPornography (May 4, 1982)




Well, 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!


*I do hope we don't get too many web 'bots trawling here because of that word.

Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Batman

 Dangrdafne review:

Wow Wow Wow Wow!!

For me this was The.Best.Batman!

I loved every second of it. I loved Robert Pattinson as Bruce Wayne/Batman. I loved Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I loved Jeffery Wright as Gordon and even Andy Serkis as Alfred (it was nice to see Andy as a full human ;) character). 

In fact during the car chase, before the chase even ended, I said to Brainwise that this was my favorite Batman ever. He asked, "person or movie?" I answered Yes. Then the chase ended and I clapped and cheered. Wow!!!! I am all in.

This was an excellent noir detective movie and it was like a full comic book come to life in front of my eyes. Seriously, full on eye candy in all ways. Every scene was important and carried out perfectly. 

Hilariously I was concerned about people saying the movie was too dark to see but I had absolutely no problem with this issue. I was able to see everything and never felt that it was too dark to see. I also felt the violence was not as bad as people had said. I expected gore and blood and to avert my eyes all the time and I never did and I didn't think the violence was actually that violent. It was Batman comic book violence but it was also noir violence and you don't actually see most of it. Maybe I am just immune at this point after all the movies I have seen but I have no complaints about this movie... ok maybe there was a little too much whispering :) but I heard it all and didn't miss anything as can sometimes happen.

So my favorite things were:

1) The shots of Rob with the black eye makeup and his hair all disheveled and no, not because he looks hot or anything like that, as some would say. I just thought it seemed the most real Bruce out of the Batman suit and I think it represented Bruce's mind set: dark, disheveled, confused, lost, and wanting.

2) The car chase!! The noise, the rain, the speed, the filming of it all, the fire and the end shots!

3) The dark hallway shooting scene! Woah! Incredible filming and choreography!

4) The music. From the score to the chosen songs. All the sounds added depth and brought me deeper and deeper into the movie. So impressed.

5) Everything!

Seriously, I loved this movie. I didn't think it was too long, I didn't think it was too dark, I didn't think it was too violent, I didn't think anything bad at all. I thought it was a brilliant story, acting, filming, directing, everything. Can’t wait to watch it again! 

4 paws and a tail

Friday, April 29, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for April 29, 2022


[A Flock of Decades] -- Due to movies, TV, and the Space Shuttle, the 1980s had something of a fascination with "space age." That simply meant folks were fascinated with things that looked or sounded ... space age. One band that capitalized on that fascination, at least briefly, was A Flock of Seagulls. A Flock of Seagulls formed in 1979 as a four-piece band: Mike Score (keyboards, vocals) and Ali Score (drums) formed the original lineup with Frank Lee Maudsley (bass) and Paul Reynolds (guitar). In a 2017 interview, Score said the band took their name from a song – "Toiler on the Sea" by the Stranglers – and the 1970 book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull. And forty years ago this week, on April 30, 1982, this quartet released their self-titled debut album. Their debut recording is, according to some, a concept album about alien abduction [reference: The New Rolling Stone Album Guide; 4 Rev Updated edition 2004]. Looking back, maybe their hair had some alien interaction.

I was all of 14 years old when A Flock of Seagulls was released and I devoured it. I eventually owned the album on cassette and even had three of the four singles on 45. I still own one of those 45s. Two of the singles – "Modern Love Is Automatic" and "Telecommunication" – were released in late 1981, but still count as singles from A Flock of Seagulls as they were released to generate buzz. "Modern Love Is Automatic," which also appeared on the band's 1981 EP, failed to chart, at least as far as I can tell. "Telecommunication," the second single, did very well in the dance circuit, peaking at #19 on the U.S. Billboard Dance Club Songs chart. The third single was the heavily popular "I Ran (So Far Away)," which hit the top ten in many countries, including three charts in the US: US Billboard Hot 100 (#9), US Billboard Dance/Disco Top 80 (#8), and US Billboard Top Tracks (#3). It failed, however, to dent the top 40 of the band's home country of the UK. Released fourth, "Space Age Love Song" didn't chart very well; it peaked at #30 in the US and #34 in the UK. But I still rank it as something of a personal favorite. After all, it's the single I still own on 45. Oh, and "Space Age Love Song" apparently earned its name because lead guitarist Paul Reynolds suggested it actually sounded like a space age love song

The US track listing, which matches this post's embedded YouTube playlist, differs from the original UK track listing. Not only are the songs in a different order, but the UK release also includes an extra track: "Tokyo." 
 
So, enjoy an album that turns 40 in the very same week in which I turn 54!

FlashbackA Flock of Seagulls (1982)



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! 

Note: For this week's writeup, I leaned heavily on my three-song A Flock of Seagulls retrospective from November 2014. Looking back, that post was not as retrospective as I would have liked: It has one song from the debut album, which is covered in more detail in today's post, and two from the band's 1983 follow-up, Listen.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Spider Man: No Way Home

 Dangrdafne review

Overall I liked this movie. I don't think I will go as far as some are saying that it is the greatest movie of all time. Although I understand why people think that. It is quite clever and a really good story. I loved all the special guests and I really really wish I could have not been spoiled and was able to enjoy the guests as they showed up. So that perhaps detracted a little bit from me being all in on this movie. 

I also cried waaaaay too much during this movie and quite unexpectedly too. I wasn't spoiled on one very sad thing and I am grateful, in a way, because I was allowed a true response but it was quite sad and I cried quite a lot and hard. Sigh

I love Ned! I really love Ned! He is such a wonderful character and Jacob Batalon who portrays him is just perfection to me. His love of Peter Parker brings me pure joy. He is the friend everyone needs in this world. 

Zendaya is also perfect for MJ and I like that she made it to the in crowd in the last movie and is a strong support for Peter. The three of them, Peter, Ned and MJ just make my heart happy and of course this movie just broke my heart, no spoilers here.

If you want the full experience of this movie, I highly recommend watching all the previous Spider Man movies made. I am sure I missed many things because I couldn't remember what happened in the previous movies. In fact, I asked Brainwise many questions and clarifications throughout the movie. If I had known I needed all that background, I would have watched the previous films. And I still might :)

I like Tom Holland as Spider Man and Peter Parker. I think he portrays both very well and his comedic timing just works for me. And I was very impressed with all the emotions he had to go through in this movie. He filled my heart with joy and broke it all at the same time. Not an easy thing to do.

3 paws, if I hadn't been spoiled 4 paws :)

Ok, so we watched it again already and I am updating my rating to 4 paws. I get it. It is so clever in how it is put together and how it melds the past and the future. I loved all the guests and how it all comes together. So good. But I still think I might go back and watch all the others again ;)

Friday, April 22, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for April 22, 2022


[Big Science, Big Art] -- Prior to 1982, Laurie Anderson was already well-known in the art world. But when the single "O Superman" brought her wider notice in 1981, particularly after it hit the #2 position in the UK, WB signed her to a multi-release deal and re-released the single. It's a fair bet you know of Laurie Anderson because of either "O Superman" or her 1986 collab with Peter Gabriel, "This Is the Picture (Excellent Birds)." Anyway, her first record with WB – indeed, her debut studio album – was this week's Flashback, Big Science, which turned 40 this week (on 4/19/1982). I first encountered Anderson's brand of art/performance music in college, probably some time after the release of her 1986 concert film, Home of the Brave. So, I found Big Science through her back catalog. Fortunately, someone on our dormitory floor had what, at that time, was a pretty complete collection. Big Science is really a collection of highlights from United States Live, Anderson's eight-hour concert-art piece that was presented over the course of two nights (here is audio from a 05/27/82 performance at the Palladium, NYC). The music/performance aspects of that show were later recorded for a live album in 1983

During my re-listen of Big Science to prepare for today's post, I was struck by these lyrics from the title track:

Well just take a right where they're going to build that new shopping mall
Go straight past where they're going to put in the freeway
Take a left at what's going to be the new sports center
And keep going until you hit the place where
They're thinking of building that drive-in bank
You can't miss it. 

40 years later, these lyrics are still topical, particularly on Earth Day. 

In this week's embedded YouTube playlist, I've included a short video featuring Laurie Anderson at work in her home studio. Enjoy!

Flashback: Big Science (4/19/1982)




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!