Another year is upon us, but do we dare hope for the best? I feel doubtful at best as the last four years have been far beyond major disappointments. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, I was surprisingly and sadistically proven wrong.
So, let’s take a deep breath, cross our fingers, close our eyes and jump into 2022. Happy New Year?!
Over the decades, New Year’s Eve has steadily devolved into a ceremonial ritual for the inconsiderately narcissistic. Celebrating the arrival of a new year has become nothing more than a feverishly desperate need to be seen, to be noticed and most of all, a primal urge to stave off loneliness. Getting drunk, hooking up and being seen on television and/or social media is now the new standard for ringing in New Year’s Day.
This year is certainly no exception, but the end of 2021 also comes attached with the dangerous spike of a deadly virus’ latest variation. I can’t help but wonder how many people attending tonight’s super-spreader events will begin the new year with regret and remorse.
So, for auld lang syne, Happy New Year to all and to all a good night.
With all the buzz and hype already surrounding the latest album by Adele, I’m going to cut right to the chase by saying I’m having a hard time connecting with her fourth album, 30. Yes, I know it’s breaking records and is well on its way to becoming the biggest selling album of 2021, but none of that matters to me. All that matters is the music she’s presented here, which I’m sorrow to say is not as powerful as Adele’s previous output.
The album’s lead single “Easy On Me” is the highlight here, but nothing else on 30 is as compelling. Album closer “Love Is a Game” is the next best track, but the rest is just mediocre at best. Sadly, I’m beginning to come to terms with the fact that Adele may be one of those artists that reached her peak at the early stage of her career. If I had to sum up 30 in one word it would be: disappointing.
Trick or treat? It may be Halloween, but it’s no trick that The Go-Go’s were officially inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last night, marking a milestone not only in the band’s career, but also in the museum’s history as well. The Go-Go’s are the first and only female rock band to be inducted into the historic RRHOF, marking yet another first of many firsts in the fearless fivesome’s four decades of music and mischief.
The Go-Go’s remain the first and only all-female rock band to score a multi-platinum debut album written and performed by women to land atop the Billboard 200 album chart. Like Drew Barrymore stated in her induction speech at last night’s ceremony, The Go-Go’s were also my first favorite rock band/group, as well as my very first rock concert and also the unknowing recipients of my first adolescent rock star crush.
The Go-Go’s music has remained a constant in my adult life as the band’s unforgettable discography has been permanently etched into my psyche with irresistible and life altering earworms including: “Fading Fast,” “Get Up and Go,” “Turn to You” and “Apology” from the band’s albums Beauty and the Beat, Vacation, Talk Show and God Bless the Go-Go’s.
So, it is with great pride and sentimentality I say congratulations to Belinda Carlisle, Kathy Valentine, Gina Schock, Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin. Thank you for the music, the cherished memories and most of all for the endless hours of unbeknownst discussion fodder you’ve provided to me and my fellow Go-Go’s cohort (you know who you are, VG!) over the past four decades.
The name is Bond…James Bond. Ian Fleming’s iconic persona James Bond has no doubt left a permanent mark in cinematic history with 25 films spanning 7 decades, but the James Bond series has also produced some legendary movie themes as well. As we prepare for the premiere of the 25th 007 film, No Time to Die, here are my top ten favorite Bond themes:
10. “Die Another Day” was performed by Madonna for the 2002 Bond film. The Golden Globe and Grammy Award-nominated title song was composed by Madonna and Mirwais Ahmadzaï. The song is also infamous for being described as the worst Bond theme of all time by Elton John.
9. “The Living Daylights” was performed by Norwegian pop group A-ha for the 1987 film, which saw Timothy Dalton debut as new Bond in the first of two films. The title track was composed by the group’s Paul Waaktaar-Savoy and John Barry. This was Barry’s final score for a Bond film.
8. “All Time High” by Rita Coolidge was written by John Barry and Tim Rice for the 1983 Bond film, Octopussy and is one of the few Bond themes that doesn’t include the film’s title.
7. “Nobody Does It Better” written by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager and sung by Carly Simon from 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me. The movie theme was a major worldwide hit and spent three weeks at number two on the US Billboard Hot 100, earning a Grammy nomination and selling over a million copies.
6. “For Your Eyes Only” was performed by Sheena Easton, who also featured in the 1981 film’s title sequence, the first and only time a musical artist was included in a Bond film’s opening titles. The film’s title song was co-written by Bill Conti and Michael Leeson, which made Australian newcomer Easton a household name on the pop music scene.
5. “The World is Not Enough” by American rock band Garbage, served as the title song for the nineteenth James Bond film in 1999. The top ten title track was co-produced by Garbage and written by David Arnold with Don Black. The lyrics, sung by Garbage lead singer Shirley Manson, detail the film’s storyline of seduction and global domination.
4. “GoldenEye” performed by Tina Turner, was the title song for the 1995 blockbuster, which was the first of four Bond films starring Pierce Brosnan as the ultimate spy. The movie’s ostentatious theme was composed by Bono and the Edge from U2.
3. “A View to a Kill” performed by Duran Duran was the theme to the 1985 movie, which was Roger Moore’s final Bond film. The title song became a number one hit for Simon Le Bon and company, which was co-written by Duran Duran and John Barry.
2. “Skyfall” was the title theme for the twenty-third James Bond film of the same name. The title song was performed by Adele and was nominated for and won an Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards ceremony in 2013 for Best Original Song. The title song was written by Adele Adkins and Paul Epworth.
1. “Live and Let Die” was the title track performed by Paul McCartney and Wings for the 1973 film of the same name. Live and Let Die introduced the world to Roger Moore with his silver screen debut as the series’ renowned character. “Live and Let Die” reached number one on the pop charts and was the most successful Bond theme at the time of its release.
“In Xanadu did Kubla Khan, a stately pleasure-dome decree: Where Alph the sacred river ran, through caverns measureless to man, down to a sunless sea.” – Samuel Taylor Coleridge
On August 8, 1980 the musical fantasy Xanadu starring Olivia Newton-John, Gene Kelly and Michael Beck opened in theatres nationwide. All summer long, I was filled with anxious anticipation for Olivia Newton-John’s feature film follow-up to the mega-hit Grease. While I enjoyed a good movie, my attention was mostly focused on the musical soundtrack of the upcoming film, which I’d read was to feature an entire side of ONJ tunes, plus half an album’s worth of tracks by Electric Light Orchestra. By this time, I’d long been an Olivia fan, but now I was at the height of my fandom for ELO. Therefore, the Xanadu soundtrack was a highly coveted treasure chest of jewels by two of my favorite artists.
I remember watching an episode of the Midnight Special hosted by ONJ, that featured her performing her current hit single “Magic” (the lead-off track from the soundtrack), as well as a mesmerizing rendition of the yet to be released ballad “Suspended in Time” (now my all-time favorite ONJ track), as well as showing an enticing clip of Xanadu. After seeing that, I was totally captivated. [Read Full Feature]
My how time flies when you’re having fun. With the Go-Go’s recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the recent re-release of the band’s fourth album, I must admit I’ve been reliving Belinda Carlisle and gang’s heyday a bit. It was just brought to my attention that it has been almost four decades since the Go-Go’s sophomore effort was released smack dab in the middle of the summer way back in 1992. If only I could somehow describe my excitement for this musical event of my youth. It seems like only yesterday when…
After a six-week run atop Billboard’s 200 album chart with the multi-platinum debut album Beauty and the Beat, all-girl rock group the Go-Go’s hurriedly released the follow-up sophomore effort, Vacation. Echoes of previous singles “We Got the Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed” could still be heard across radio airwaves when “Vacation” became the band’s third hit single in the summer of ’82. The bubbly title track was the first-ever cassette single and was accompanied by its vivid and playful music video, which revealed the band members hamming it up while pretending to be highly skilled water skiers.
For me, that entire summer revolved around the Go-Go’s, from joining the band’s fan club, scouring magazine stands for any glimpse of Belinda and company, to recurrent spins of Beauty and the Beat as I counted down the days anticipating the arrival of Vacation. Alas, the day finally arrived when my eyes unexpectedly gazed upon the album’s totally kitschy cover art by Grammy-winning designer Mick Haggerty, which seemed to be waving at me from the record store’s new release rack. The ride home from the mall was an agonizing eternity as I shuddered with excitement.
Has it really been 12 years? I find it unconceivable that the legendary Michael Jackson passed away over a decade ago. I find myself becoming more sentimentally reminiscent as the years add up, especially as time seems to rapidly increase with each fleeting birthday.
Recently, I found myself mining the musical memories of my youth, when suddenly my attention span focused upon the Jackson 5. Some of my most distinct childhood recollections involve Michael Jackson. No, I’m not talking about the reclusive, oddly behaved and disfigured scandalous celebrity that many remember. Instead, I’m recalling the Motown-era’s magnificent entertainer whose records I cut off of cereal boxes and whom I watched weekly on Saturday morning cartoons. That’s my Michael Jackson.
Sure, as the years progressed, I became a fan of The Jacksons and solo Michael, but my most vivid thoughts of Michael Jackson are of the earliest years of his career. Jackson’s Motown canon – solo and with his brothers – were staples on my turntable, radio and television with the Jacksons’ various appearances on variety shows and TV specials during my adolescent formative years. That’s the Michael Jackson I remember most fondly and find myself missing the most.
Michael Jackson caught my attention again many years later with his outstanding Off the Wall album and his watershed epic, Thriller. Unfortunately, after those two mythical records, things began to get very strange and out of control for the legendary, but often misunderstood artist.
Rest in peace upon the wings of a dove Michael. May your music last for all time.
The trailblazing Go-Go’s have not only been selected for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, but also see the reissue of the totally awesome, but criminally overlooked God Bless the Go-Go’s.
Ironically rereleased two days after the RRHOF induction announcement, the band’s fourth studio album finally makes its vinyl LP debut, in addition to a deluxe edition CD with new artwork and the inclusion of two exceptional bonus tracks: “King of Confusion” and “I Think I Need Sleep.”
Although seventeen years separate the Go-Gos’ third and fourth releases, God Bless the Go-Go’s remarkably picks up right where Talk Show left off in 1984. In fact, the piano intro of “Talking Myself Down” subtly but undoubtedly recalls echoes of previous hit “Head Over Heels.” Just as the ladies’ 1980’s output demonstrated growth and proficiency with each release, God Bless the Go-Go’s not only continued that trend, but also became a worthy and vital entry into the band’s musical legacy. [Read full review here]
Tonight’s the night! Smart Objects will be livestreaming a 30-minute show on May 1st at 8:00 PM CDT over at StageIt’s 5 Spot. You can find ticket info and purchase tix here. Personally, I can’t wait to see they’ve cooked up for everyone.
Nashville’s indie rock band may currently be Music City’s best kept secret, but that could be changing soon. The band’s dynamic debut album is getting its first physical release (finally!) on vinyl and you can preorder your copy here at this link now!
In case you missed the digital release of Smart Objects’ mindboggling debut during last year’s pandemic, you can rectify that now by reading my Q&A with the band’s mastermind, Benjamin Harper here, as well as downloading a copy now at Bandcamp or check it out on various streaming platforms everywhere: Apple Music, Amazon Music or Spotify.
Don’t miss out on your chance to own this intelligent and vital album on vinyl LP. Believe me, you will want this in your collection.