The Golden Days of AM Radio and Cereal Box Records

Whenever summer rolls around, it annually evokes fond memories of youthful days I’d eagerly spend counting down until the school year would finally end. The anticipation of long, lazy summer days, extended car rides, and family vacations was always palpable. That was the era of AM radio hits which often turned into road trip sing-alongs which served as a much needed reprieve from being cooped up for hours on end in the car. I’m referring to a time when portable electronics were almost non-existent and the only access to music was the standard AM radio that came factory installed in the family owned American automobile.

Summertime also reminds me of how excited I’d get about routine trips to the grocery store when I was a kid. Yes, the grocery store, because back in those days, they used to print records right on the backs of cereal boxes, similar to flexi discs often found in music publications or instructional books. Nothing made me happier than picking out a brand of cereal I’d pretend to like just so I could get a new record by The Archies, The Monkees, or The Jackson 5. I can still recall being mesmerized and oddly entertained as I’d watch the phonograph stylus play over the faces of Betty, Veronica, Archie, Reggie, Jughead, and Hot Dog as I carefully memorized every word of “Everything’s Archie” and “Nursery Rhyme.” [Read Full Feature]

Advertisements

At the Closing of the Year

2013

As we say goodbye to 2013 with all too fresh memories of Miley Cyrus’ embarrassing raunch, the aural overkill of Lorde’s “Royals,” and the over saturated blandness of Katy Perry still lingering about, we can only look ahead with hope that 2014 will redeem this year’s failures.

The beginning of a new year always seems exhilarating as it promises a fresh start and a renewed faith that things can only get better. Looking into the not so distant future we can expect new releases from U2, a return to alternative pop from Tori Amos (after her last three classical infused releases), Cher’s final farewell and last hurrah (Dressed to Kill Tour), and after an extended absence from live performing, cerebral shit stirrer Lady Gaga returns to the touring scene with her upcoming artRAVE: The ARTPOP Ball Tour.

Although too much time was wasted during the past few months on less than triumphant spectacles and dashed expectations, 2013 managed to deliver some great musical moments including David Bowie’s return with The Next Day, Justin Timberlake’s The 20/20 Experience, Cher’s first album in 12 years, Closer to the Truth, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP 2, Christian Burns’ Simple Modern Answers, Panic! at the Disco’s Too Weird to Live, Too Rare to Die! and of course Lady Gaga’s heady party record ARTPOP. The year’s end also saw masterfully crafted seasonal offerings by Kelly Clarkson, Erasure, and Leona Lewis, all of which brought 2013 to a fitting and timely end.

With fingers crossed and musical palettes cleansed, let’s close out 2013 by taking a beat to remember how music makes us feel as it permanently finds its way into the soundtrack of our lives. As we prepare to leap forward into a new year, let’s hope our high expectations of better days to come are fulfilled in 2014.

Cher: Closer to the Truth

cher

Closer to the Truth

Cher may be a good candidate for heated water cooler debates, but whether you love, hate, or are simply indifferent to her, she is irrefutably iconic to millions, and has managed against all odds, to pull off an unparalleled and long lasting career. Over the span of six decades, the fashion daring diva has successfully conquered television, film, and music, sold over 100 million records, and amassed a variety of awards including an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy, and three Golden Globes.

Cherilyn Sarkisian, who became a household name thanks to the classic pop duet “I Got You Babe” in 1965 with her then husband and partner Sonny Bono, holds the distinct honor of being the only recording artist to have had a number-one single in each of the past six decades.

Now, 12 years since her last full-length recording (2001’s Living Proof), Cher has returned with what she insists will be her last effort. On her twenty-sixth solo album, Closer to the Truth picks up right where Cher’s musical legacy left off, with an auto-tuned anthem (“Woman’s World”) and a sassy club banger with a feminist slant (“Take It Like a Man”). However, those hastily tempted to write off Closer to the Truth as just another dance record may be surprised to find it includes three tracks co-written by Cher herself and offers a multitude of tempos, including a handful of ballads, which clearly demonstrate Cher still has the chops to amply deliver a powerful and emotive lyric in her inimitable style.

With a pair of tracks supplied by P!nk, and production from Timbaland and Paul Oakenfold, Cher shows she’s kept her finger on the pulse of music during her extended absence. Moreover, the woeful 9/11 inspired “Sirens” and the stirring “I Hope You Find It” (thankfully rescued from Miley Cyrus), both easily position themselves among Cher’s strongest material to date. If this is truly Cher’s swan song, then she should be content that Closer to the Truth is nothing less than a fabulous finale to her illustrious career.