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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

 Dangrdafne review 

Hmmm I liked it but it wasn’t amazing or anything. In fact I really want to watch it again already to see what it was about it that was just ok or if it can be elevated.

All the actors were great and overall the story was interesting. The cinematography of course was incredible. I was worried about the horror aspects but I think watching it on our TV and not a huge movie screen help temper the scenes for me. It is definitely violent and there is definitely horror aspects throughout, it is Sam Raimi after all. But I had no issue overall.

I did feel like I was thrown into the middle of the story when the movie started and I don’t mean because this is the middle movie. I mean it felt like I was missing information to start the movie. But apparently it didn’t matter overall as I managed to figure it all out and watch the movie.

I am sad that Scarlet Witch was a villain but it is important to distinguish the difference between Scarlet Witch and Wanda in this case. I’m curious where we go from here and I will definitely stick around to find out.

3 paws

Friday, July 1, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for July 1, 2022


[The Punk Heart of Americana] -- Hailing from the West Coast hard-core-punk scene, X drew upon multiple musical elements and swirled them into a unique sound. That sound included the vocal harmonies of John Doe and Exene Cervenka, which were hauntingly aggressive, clashing in a marvel of minor keys. And forty years ago this week, X released their third studio album, Under The Big Black Sun. This was the band's first outing on a major-label (Elektra), so there was some chatter that X had sold out with this record. However, I would argue that, just as X was leveling up musically, the new contract likewise leveled up their potential audience. 

This quartet's playing on Under The Big Black Sun is just as strong, if not stronger, than what they laid down on either Los Angeles (1980) or Wild Gift (1981). And lyrically, well, these tracks are peppered with existential humor and mortal peril. Cervenka, in particular, is using her songs to grapple with the devastating death of her sister by a drunk driver ("Riding With Mary" and "Come Back to Me"). This is an extremely personal and poetic album, wrapped in blistering guitar licks and a furious rhythm section. And I don't think it's too much to claim that Under The Big Black Sun may well be one of the best records of 1982, perhaps even the entire decade. 

I look forward to hearing what your favorite tracks are from this album.

FlashbackUnder The Big Black Sun (July 1982)




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!

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Moon Knight

 Dangrdafne review:

I may just keep this short and simple and say go watch this... right now!

It will feel a but off kilter in the beginning but trust me it allll works out.

Episode 5 may be one of the best things I have ever watched of anything at any time.

Oscar Isaac deserves all the awards for his acting in this series but specifically in episode 5. He is phenomenal in his performances and his dedication to this role is everything!

I knew NOTHING about Moon Knight before going in to this and you don't need to. In fact, don’t even read anything about it before watching and just indulge in it all unfolding in front of you. It is such an incredible show!!

May Calamawy is now on my list as one of my favorite actresses for her role as Layla. She is superb and her character arc is pure, strong and simply incredible.

4 paws and a tail

plus two more cats with 4 paws and tails for Oscar Issac himself!

Friday, June 24, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 24, 2022


[Forty Boingo] -- These days, Oingo Boingo's frontman, Danny Elfman, is best known as a composer of film soundtracks. But forty years ago this week -- on June 22, 2022 -- Oingo Boingo released their second studio album, Nothing to Fear. This album featured two singles. The first, the frenetic and still prescient "Private Life," was accompanied with a music video. The second single was a double release of "Grey Matter" with "Nothing to Fear." 

The songs on this record are lyrically weird and fun. Musically, they are gems of offbeat 80s pop rock: searing guitar, crisp drums, and plenty of synths. The album did well commercially, despite poor reviews. And while none of the singles charted, "Private Life" is certainly a standout. Other standout tracks, at least in my opinion, include "Running on a Treadmill," "Whole Day Off," and "Reptiles and Samurai." 

FlashbackNothing to Fear (June, 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!

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

What If...

 Dangrdafne review:

What If... they didn't create this series? Would we have missed anything? Are we more invested because of this series? What do we gain?

My answers to these questions don't actually influence if I liked the series or not because my responses would make you think I didn't like it but in fact I did. I think I liked it because it put more emphasis on the female characters and let them be in the forefront more than usual.

I loved seeing Peggy Carter as Captain Carter and would love if that became real somehow. Also Black Widow had a HUGE role and I had to laugh that they kept her changing looks from the movies in each episode of this series. I guess some things never change ;)

I definitely could have done without the zombie episode and honestly I couldn't even watch it when the zombies were one, just too gross for me. But I guess that is a tip of the hat to the animators. They were able to draw zombie so gross that I couldn't even look at them. The story though was very interesting and it did end up being a part of the bigger picture which from the beginning I didn't know about or expect.

I thought each episode was stand alone but I was wrong. Each one lead to a final episode where it all came together and resolved. I did love that each episode was 30 minutes or less, so we were able to binge the whole series in one evening. It also made it more like a comic book and you had to get in all your information in a short amount of time. 

I do wish Scarlett Johannson had been able to do the Black Widow voice. Not that Lake Bell wasn't good but it was hard not to hear Poison Ivy from Harley Quinn in many scenes whenever Black Widow spoke. 

Overall I recommend watching this series especially if you love Marvel and don't mind thinking outside the box for your characters. Will you miss out on anything if you don't watch it? I don't think so but I am glad I watched.

3 paws

Friday, June 17, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 17, 2022



[Feel Your Heartbeat, Heartbeat] -- I've previously written about discovering music through the time-honored tradition of fishing deals out of cut-out bins. If you don't recall, these bins were so-named because they featured records and cassette tapes (and, later, compact discs) that had been deleted, or "cut-out," from the catalog. The cut-outs were non-returnable, and non-refundable, so they were significantly discounted to quickly move them out of stock. I could purchase a handful of cut-out records for the same amount of money as one popular record or tape. 

And that's how a cassette copy of King Crimson's ninth studio album, Beat, entered my collection: The cut-out bin at my local G.C. Murphy's

I knew nothing about Beat at the time of purchase, but I had heard of King Crimson. (I was, at least, somehow familiar with "21st Century Schizoid Man" from their 1969 debut album). When I got home with my purchase, slapped it into my cassette player, and heard the opening strains of "Neal and Jack and Me," I was transported. In fact, revisiting that track for this Flashback brought back a strange flood of road trip tensions, but in a good way. Thinking back to my very first listening session of Beat from beginning to end, that sense of being transported remained with me for the duration of the album. I was especially enamored with the two ballads – "Heartbeat" and "Two Hands" – as well as the instrumental, "Sartori in Tangier," the very precise "Waiting Man," and the raucous "Neurotica." 

Now, I might not find many others who appreciate this album as I do, particularly not among King Crimson fans. I have read, and heard, people complain that Beat is perhaps a little too new wave, perhaps not prog enough, for their tastes. Maybe such fans prefer Discipline, King Crimson's 1981 outing. They definitely prefer some of the earlier records in the Crimson catalog. 

Anyway, 40 years ago this week, on June 18, 1982, King Crimson released Beat. Interestingly, it was King Crimson’s first release to feature the same lineup as the previous studio album (they apparently shifted their lineup frequently). This record was inspired by the Beat literature of the 1950s, especially the twenty-fifth anniversary of Jack Kerouac's On the Road. And, although this record's critical reception might have been rather mixed, Beat still reached #39 on the UK albums chart and #52 on the US Billboard 200. The lone single, "Heartbeat," peaked at #57 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart. 

Whatever Beat might lack commercially, it more than makes up for in the band's technical prowess and songwriting. Also, having both Robert Fripp and Adrian Belew play guitar (among other instrumentations) on one record is pretty much a masterclass in fretboard alchemy. Of course, the rest of the quartet was filled out by Tony Levin (on bass guitar and Chapman stick) and Bill Bruford (on drums and percussion), and they weren't exactly slouches either. Whatever one might think of the songs, there is just no denying the virtuosity that was captured on this record.

This week's embedded YouTube playlist follows the track order of the eight songs that appear on the 1982 release of Beat. I have, however, taken the liberty of including a live version of "Neal and Jack and Me," an actual music video of "Heartbeat," and an extended live performance of "Waiting Man." All other items in this playlist come from King Crimson's own YouTube playlist for Beat, which includes two bonus tracks, "Neurotica / The Howler (Live In Philadelphia)" and "Absent Lovers."

FlashbackBeat (King Crimson, 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!

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Fantastic Beasts: The Screts of Dumbledore

 Dangrdafne review:



I almost didn't finish this movie. Ironically right after the part where I almost turned it off, the movie got better and found its way. So I am glad I hung in there but it was really tough.

From the very first scene, I was unhappy. I knew they were changing Grindelwald BUT they didn't help viewers know that it was the person who was on screen in the first scene. Brainwise thought I should have just known but honestly if I did know at some point, I had forgotten before the movie started. So I started out annoyed and it went downhill from there until I bottomed out at the "jail" scene and the swivel walk in and out of the scene. WHY? Why was that needed? The movie opened all depressed and serious and then they put in that scene! It was horrid. They only way it could have worked is if it were in the first movie or if the opening of this movie had been lighter in any way. 

We paused the movie after this scene and took a small break. I really didn't want to not see the rest but I was verrrry apprehensive about continuing. Thankfully, the silliness departed as did the deep depression and the movie seemed to find a happy medium and get back to its story telling ways.

The story still hit too close to home but I hung in there and have closure for the most part. I do find it interesting that there are three troubled people in this franchise: Johnny Depp, Ezra Miller and J.K. Rowling. And if this ends up being the end of the story, I am good with that. As interesting as it would be to meet up with the Harry Potter series, I can be ok without filling in that time. I am finding that it is hard to rally behind things anymore, as each time I seem to do that, it all goes sideways.

If you are a completist, as I am, you will need to watch this film to close out the current series but if you are on the fence with watching it, I say go back to the side of the fence without the movie.

I will say that it was visually stunning. They have even increased their abilities with showing magic and scenes from just the last movie. Although if I think about it, it might be to distract from the story and it's confusion. Anyway, I'm glad I made it through and I am grateful for Pick, Teddy the Niffler, and Jacob. Without them, I would not have made it. And I also loved Lally, a new character for this movie.

I think the best thing I can say to describe my opinion of this movie is that I might not watch this movie again but I have watched the first one over and over and still would. 

1 paw for first 1/3 of movie, 2 paws for the rest

Friday, June 10, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 10, 2022


[Sweet 16?] -- Forty years ago this week -- on June 7, 1982 -- Chicago released their 13th studio album, Chicago 16. The 16 comes from the band's canon numbering, which ignores several of their live and compilation albums while including Chicago Transit Authority (1969), Chicago at Carnegie Hall (1971), and Hot Streets (1978) as their first, fourth, and twelfth releases. 

Depending on one's tastes, Chicago 16 is either a valiant comeback or the beginning of the band's decline. Either way, this record certainly represents a new phase of Chicago's sound and career. They had moved to a new label, Warner Bros., and with that shift came a new producer, David Foster, as well as management edicts indicating that radio stations "didn’t want anything with horns on it." Foster not only helmed the studio, but also joined the band by playing keyboards and was a co-writer on eight tracks of Chicago 16. Through Foster, Chicago embraced more aspects of the 1980s and arena rock, with keyboards and guitars becoming more prominent. And to satisfy that management note, Chicago's previous trademark horns, while still present, start to take a back seat. This is particularly true of the two big hits -- "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" and "Love Me Tomorrow" -- the latter of which has no horns whatsoever. 

Still, nothing succeeds like success (or was that excess-ive production?). "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" peaked at #1 on both the US Billboard Hot 100 and the US Adult Contemporary charts, as well as reaching the top 20 or better on charts around the world. "Love Me Tomorrow" did well on the Billboard Hot 100, Billboard Adult Contemporary, and US Cash Box Top 100 (#22, #8, and #22 respectively). Chicago 16 was a hit album, being certified platinum (their first album since 1978 to do so) and peaking at #9 on the Billboard 200 as well as within the top 40 for several other countries.

FlashbackChicago 16 (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!

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Ghosts - CBS

 Dangrdafne review 


I watched for Rebecca Wisocky, I stayed for it all. What an incredible show. It’s a comedy but my oh my I cried a lot at this comedy. It is so moving and thoughtful. So many issues are part of the show and it feels like therapy at times, very good therapy. 

I love that I only questioned the reality of what was happening twice because otherwise it just didn’t matter why the ghosts could pass through doors but could sit on chairs and lie on beds. It’s not the point at all. The ghosts do what’s needed to move the story forward and it doesn’t matter if it fits the “rules” of ghosts. 

I still can’t believe the main actress, Rose McIver, was I-Zombie, she is so different here and I love it. Utkarch Ambudkar, plays her husband Jay and I love how he just accepts the Ghosts. I am glad he goes along for the ride and I definitely love how he supports his wife.
 
Rebecca Wisocky is one of my favorite actresses and she does not disappoint here at all. She is perfection as Hetty. She is hilarious and I LOVE how she is becoming a feminist but still holds onto her "old" ways. I love watching her learn the ways of the modern world and how it impacts her ideals. Rebecca is hilarious and moving all at the same time. I just adore her and Hetty.
 
And don't get me wrong all the other Ghosts are wonderful too but my heart belongs to Hetty. I adore the story line of Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones) and Nigel (John Hartman). The two actors portray their "relationship" with tenderness and respect for the issue they are conveying. You can't help but root for them and I will admit I cried during the twist that was revealed late in the series. I'm grateful they were unneeded tears. 

I am also completely enamored with Sasappis (Roman Zaragoza). His voice, his calm, his outlook, he brings a much needed balance to the craziness of the Ghosts. The actor is a perfect fit for this role and he always makes me smile, of course until I cried all during the episode of his life and becoming a Ghost.

If I had to live in this house I would hope I could befriend these Ghosts and that they would become my family. I love how they all learn and work together for themselves and for the non-Ghosts around them. It is a funny, moving and joyous show. I highly recommend it.

4 paws for the whole show
4 paws and a tail for Rebecca Wisocky as Hetty

Friday, June 3, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for June 3, 2022


[Eye Love It] -- Depending on the source, this week's Flashback album was released in either May or June of 1982. Either way, it's forty years old as of this month, so now's as good a time as any to celebrate it.
 
Forty years ago this week, the Alan Parsons Project released their sixth, and probably best-known, studio album, Eye in the Sky. As with most of their releases, this was a concept album:
The concept behind this album was related to belief systems, whether they be religious beliefs, political beliefs or belief in luck (as in gambling). Generally the concept is related to the universal idea that there is someone looking down on us all. The expression is also used in military and surveillance contexts. [the-alan-parsons-project.com]
Eye in the Sky was recorded on analog equipment and then mixed to Sony 1610 digital format (i.e., digital master tape). The first single from this album was the title track. It was originally accompanied by a nearly two minute intro instrumental titled "Sirius." Later single releases edit out the intro, and this pared down version received the most airplay on pop-oriented stations. AOR and classic rock stations, however, typically play the full track. The official music video includes "Sirius" as well. Whichever version you recall from the radio, "Eye in the Sky" is the reason this 1982 album is so well known. The single peaked at #3 on Billboard. And it has inspired numerous cover versions, my favorite being the the 2004 version by Jonatha Brooke.

The other two singles – "Psychobabble" and "Old and Wise" – do not loom large as radio tunes in my memory. In fact, I don't recall hearing either of them until I had a cassette copy of Eye in the Sky. They weren't hit singles but they weren't exactly failures either: "Psychobabble" peaked at #57 on Billboard (between the end of 1982 and the beginning of 1983), while "Old and Wise" peaked at #21 on Billboard and #74 in the UK. "Old and Wise" is still one of my favorite tracks on this record, and I think it was a masterstroke to end the album with it. 

My opinions aside, critical reception for Eye in the Sky was not exactly glowing. Ken Tucker gave the record a single star in his Philadelphia Inquirer review. Retrospectively, the album has fared better, and it currently has a four and a half star rating on AllMusic. Still, whatever reviewers thought in 1982, the record received a nomination for Best Engineered Album (1983 Grammies); it just did not win. However, in 2019, the 35th Anniversary Edition of the album did win a Grammy for Best Immersive Audio Album. Eye in the Sky fared well commercially, peaking within the top ten on charts around the world, including #7 on the US Billboard 200. It was certified Gold or better in several countries, and it was the Alan Parsons Project's last Platinum record. 

FlashbackEye in the Sky (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!

Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Twig - Skottie Young - comic book

 Dangrdafne review

Yes, I did indeed buy my very own comic book during Free Comic Book Day.

Yes, I did indeed READ my very own comic book that I purchased during Free Comic Book Day.

I had seen lots of photos and posts about this comic book and I was intrigued and of course the art is adorable. That seems to be a prerequisite for me to want a comic book. See also: HeroBear, MouseGuard, etc. :)

So, not only is the art beautiful and adorable, but the story is quite the fantasy adventure. It is only book 1 of 5 but I definitely would like to read the rest after reading just this one. I am very curious what Twig and Splat are doing and what will happen in their adventure. I can't imagine how difficult it must be to draw people into a story with just one piece of the story, but they did it easily with this one.

I decided on the Peach Momoko cover (Cover C) as I know that name from other books and usually like their art. There were 2 other options available at New Wave Comics, but I couldn't stop looking at Peach's cover, so into the pile of purchases it went.

It is rated T for Teen and I would agree, although the first book only has 1 item that might be in question for kids younger than Teen, and it was more than fine for a 52 year old adult ;) 

It looks like the next four books will be released over the next four months, so there is some time to wait until I can continue the story. I kind of wish I just had all of it at once, but it will be nice to savor to story and art each month. Although, honestly, I hope I remember each book before the next. I guess I would just reread it if not, LOL.

Book 1 = 4 paws for art and story

Friday, May 27, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for May 27, 2022


"And your destination | you don't know it | Avalon."


[Avalon] -- Forty years ago, May 28 fell on a Friday, and Roxy Music released their eighth studio album: Avalon. That record was also the band's swan song, post-2001 touring reunions notwithstanding. 

Roxy Music had previously disbanded after touring in support of their 1976 release, Siren. But they reunited in 1978 and released three more records before Bryan Ferry (lead vocalist and main songwriter) dissolved the band in 1983. Between 1976 and 1978, the band's lineup had been pared down to that of a quartet for Manifesto (1978). Then the lineup shifted to a trio, assisted by session musicians, for the final two records – Flesh + Blood (1980) and Avalon (1982). 

The lineup shifts resulted in the band changing their sound as well as their overall approach to music. These changes are most evident on Avalon. The remaining band members – Bryan Ferry (vocals), Phil Manzanera (guitar), and Andy Mackay (saxophone) – embraced experimentation and improvisation, using the studio itself as an instrument. The change in working methods also involved lots of drugs which, according to Bryan Ferry, "created a lot of paranoia and a lot of spaced-out stuff" (Chapman, 1995).

Ferry had wanted an album in which all the songs were bound up in one unifying story. That takes quite a bit of work, and what he had to start with was "10 poems, or short stories, that could, with a bit more work, be fashioned into a novel" (Clark, 2004). Still, in Ferry's mind at least, they could all be tied to that "ultimate romantic fantasy place" of Avalon, King Arthur's final resting place. That accounts for the more adult, and yet dreamy, lyrical content on Avalon. Even Ferry's vocal delivery is more mature on this record than previous outings. 

Studio experimentation included building up backing grooves as well as scoring the backing tracks with a Linn drum machine. They also recorded live drums and percussion parts in the Power Station studio’s stairwell, giving both a natural and resounding reverb. Overall, the sound is more textured. Even Manzanera’s guitar and Ferry’s keyboard parts are understated and sparse, providing the rest of the arrangements with more room to breathe and expand. 

Avalon peaked within the top ten of charts around the world, even reaching the #1 position in the UK, Sweden, Norway, and a few other countries. But in the US, Avalon stalled at #53 on the Billboard 200. Still, Avalon went on to be registered platinum globally, including the US, and it landed in the year-end top ten list for several countries. Avalon consistently receives critical praise, even to this day. And it ranks on many "best of" lists, such as Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of all Time and Entertainment Weekly's 100 Greatest CDs A Love-It-Or-Loathe-It Guide to the Essential Disc Library.

FlashbackAvalon (5/28/1982)



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!

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Star Trek - Strange New Worlds - episode 1

 Dangrdafne review:

EVERY HUMAN on this planet should watch this first episode right now!!!! This is the story we all need right now. This is the direction we need to go. Where is the Federation when you need them? On Paramount+ apparently. WOW!!!!

The writers of Star Trek are of another realm of brilliance. I do not know how they do it but they never fail to amaze me. This first episode is beyond incredible. I laughed, I cried, I yelled, I sighed.

Anson Mount is spectacular and each crew member is perfectly chosen and I am in love with all of them. I seriously am floored by how quickly I was enamored with each character. But then I am a Trekkie at heart.

The cinematography is out of this world and I could see that even from watching the episode on our TV via YouTube! I can only imagine how incredible it would be in its original format.

4 paws and a tail and a whole Enterprise filled with cats!! Like Tribbles but better 😉


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!

Friday, April 15, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for April 15, 2022


[40 Year Old Diver] -- In October 2020, we lost Eddie Van Halen, the guitarist and driving force behind the band with his surname. He was only 65 years old at the time of his death. But forty years ago this week, on April 14, 1982, a 27-year-old Eddie released Diver Down, the fifth studio album by the mighty VH. The album's first single – a cover of Roy Orbison's 1964 hit, "(Oh) Pretty Woman" – preceded the LP's release by several months, hitting the charts onJanuary 18, 1982. They released the second single – a cover of the  Martha & The Vandellas song, "Dancing in the Street" – concurrent with the LP's release on April 14, 1982. The band was supposed to take a hiatus after releasing "(Oh) Pretty Woman," but due to the single's success, Warner Brothers put pressure on Van Halen for a new album, and the quartet squeezed out Diver Down in two weeks (according to tour manager Noel Monk's 2017 memoir, Runnin’ With the Devil. The album includes three other covers (for a total of five!): 
  • "Where Have All the Good Times Gone!" originally recorded by the Kinks
  • the 1924 song "Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)" – with a clarinet solo by Eddie and Alex Van Halen's father, Jan Van Halen
  • "Happy Trails," the Roy Rogers and Dale Evans classic 
There were also three instrumentals, which is three times the number of instrumentals featured on any previous Van Halen album. The instrumentals are "Cathedral," Intruder" (the intro to "Pretty Woman"), and "Little Guitars (Intro)."

After the darker themed Fair Warning (1981), Diver Down's combination of pop covers, brighter synths, and Eddie's blistering guitar riffs proved successful. The record peaked at #3 on the US Billboard 200, and even ended 1982 as one of the top 100 albums of the year. Of course, the singles did pretty well, too. "(Oh) Pretty Woman" peaked at #12 and #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and Billboard Mainstream Rock charts respectively. "Dancing in the Street" peaked at #38 and #3 on those same charts. 

At the time, Eddie Van Halen admitted he had fun recording the songs on this album. But Diver Down is supposedly one of the Van Halen brothers' least-favorite records, mainly due to recording so many songs that were previously hits. Having said that, my favorite tracks split the difference between covers and originals: "Dancing in the Street" and "Cathedral." 

In the embedded YouTube playlist this week, the instrumental intro for two songs are part of the main track's video. So, the fifth video, Van Halen - (Oh) Pretty Woman (Official Music Video), has "Intruder" and "(Oh) Pretty Woman" together, and the seventh video, Van Halen- Little Guitars w/ intro (HD) ... well, it's pretty obvious what is in that video. 

FlashbackDiver Down (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, April 8, 2022

Friday 80s Flashback for April 8, 2022

 

[Broadsword] -- 40 years ago this weekend – on April 10, 1982 – Jethro Tull released The Broadsword and The Beast. This was the band's 14th studio release and, after a major lineup change, it was a shift to electronic rock. I mean, sure, when compared to the folk rock and progressive rock of prior releases, Broadsword can seem to be too reliant on keyboards and swirling synths, but all the other elements of the band were in place, albeit with some different players. Speaking of the players, apparently the band was split between using "Beastie," the first track on side one, or "Broadsword," the opening track on side two, as the album's title track. As you can see, they ultimately opted for a combined album title, but the band also gave each side of the LP its own title (i.e., the first five tracks are Beastie, and the last five are Broadsword).   

Oh, and some critics were harsh, either in 1982 or more recently. A Rolling Stone review anointed this record with two out of five stars, concluding that "...the real beast may be Anderson’s penchant for ponderous sermonizing." Not to be outdone, AllMusic's Bruce Eder singles out two standout tracks ("Broadsword" and "Pussy Willow") but bashes the rest of the album as "little better than tuneless drivel." Kerrang referred to it as "Tull's Lame Beast" and suggested borrowing it from a fan if you weren't a completist. Still, many fans responded well. Sales were good, enough that the album reached #14 in Germany and Norway while peaking at #19 and #27 in the US and the UK respectively. Of the two singles, "Fallen On Hard Times" landed at #20 on the US Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart. And this record still ranks in the top 20 of Tull's best-selling albums of all time. 

I bought my own copy of the LP, probably in 1984, or 1983 at the earliest. And I'm pretty sure it was in a discount bin at the time (I also picked up a copy of Jethro Tull's 1979 album, Stormwatch, from that same bin). I was initially struck by that cover image, a watercolor painted by artist Iain McCaig, featuring bandleader Ian Anderson as a fairy creature. McCaig also did the back cover image, a stunning ship with a dragon-headed prow (see below). Louder/Prog published an interview with McCaig about the cover art in 2015. Check it out if you want to know the cool easter eggs he included. 


And while that cover art might have lead the younger me to expect fantasy-themed songs in a heavy metal setting (rather than Anderson's musings about early 1980s politics in the UK), there is still just enough metaphor here that this record kind of became my standard soundtrack for Dungeons and Dragons. I mean, for reading D&D materials (modules, Dragon magazine, etc.), not during actual game time. Oh, and Martin Barre's playing on both acoustic and electric guitar is great! In my re-listen for this week's Flashback, I would have to say that my favorite tracks are "Fallen On Hard Times," "Slow Marching Band," "Broadsword," and "Seal Driver," all from the original 1982 release. I have not yet revisited the eight bonus tracks from the 2005 CD reissue. 

This week, I'm giving you two options for listening: full album (one embedded video) or individual tracks (embedded playlist). Enjoy! 

"I see a dark sail on the horizon, set under a black cloud that hides the sun. Bring me my broadsword and clear understanding. Bring me my cross of gold as a talisman."

FlashbackThe Broadsword and the Beast (Full Album)



FlashbackThe Broadsword and the Beast (10-Track Playlist)




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!