Saturday, November 04, 2006

This Day In Music History: Anne Murray and You Needed Me

On this day in music history #1 song in the country on November 4, 1978 was one of my favorites. It was You Needed Me sung by Anne Murray, written by Randy Goodrum and produced by Jim Ed Norman. It was the biggest hit song of Anne Murray’s career and at that time she had just came back off a two year retirement from show business. She took the time off to have a family. She gave birth to her son William and daughter Dawn during that time. A few years ago Anne recorded and preformed with her daughter. In one of my postings on the 70’s I tell of what Mr. Goodrum was told by publishers when they refused it. Thankfully someone did accept it as Anne recorded it on Capitol Records. Anne was born in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada. As a young girl she took piano and voice lessons. When she attended College she auditioned for a TV series called “Singalong Jubilee.” She was rejected but that turned out to be the longest wait for a call back any performer has had. It was two years later when she was called back to join a summer edition of the series. One of the producers of the series was William Langstroth. He would later become her husband. After college she taught high school but kept hearing from Brian Ahern, the musical director of the series. He kept offering to record her. Anne said, “I thought they were crazy. Singing was something you did in the bathtub and around bonfires. I felt there was no security in singing.” This was coming from the woman who paved the way for CĂ©line Dion, Sarah McLachlan and Shania Twain. The woman, who would eventually sell millions of records, was one of Elvis’ favorite singers and whom John Lennon said that her version of "You Won't See Me" was the best Beatles cover ever. She even helped give validation to fans of the Monkees when she had a top 10 hit with her remake of Daydream Believer in 1979. Throughout the 70’s you weren’t cool if you liked the Monkees. When someone else had a hit with a remake of one of their songs showed the world what Monkees fans knew for years. The songs were good.

She finally gave in to Mr. Ahern’s persuasion and he got her a recording contract with a small label called Arc Records. This led to her getting a recording contract with Capitol where she had her first of many hits when she recorded the song Snowbird. Many of her songs were hits on the Pop, Country and Adult Contemporary charts. However, You Needed Me was her only one to reach #1 on the Pop charts.

In 1981 Anne had many hits with ballads. It was taking a toll on her as she yearned to record other material. She told Billboard “I’m sick of ballads…Everybody thinks I want to do ballads because that’s all I’ve ever done, and I’m not saying that I want to do rock…just something uptempo. Nobody ever sends me other kinds of material.” Over the years I have lost track of Anne’s career. I know she is still recording. I hope she has been able to record the more uptempo songs she wanted to.

Friday, November 03, 2006

If I were in Springfield I would go because Davy Jones, Peter Tork, William Shatner and Linda Blair are attending

Davy Jones & Peter Tork as well as William Shatner and Linda Blair will be featured guests at UNITED FAN CON
November 10-12 in Springfield MA.

There also will be a film crew there doing a Monkees documentary.

More info at (781) 986-TREK.

This Day In Music History: M (Robin Scott) and Pop Muzik

On this day in music history the #1 song in the country On November 3, 1979 was held by M (foreshadowing Prince’s other name but at least you can pronounce M) with the song Pop Muzik. M was the alter ego of British musician Robin Scott. Mr. Scott said he was in Paris, France finishing the recording. He thought that he needed an alter ego to create interest in the song. When he looked out the window he saw a sign for the Metro bus. The signs for the bus stops just had a big M on them. He said he thought “Perfect I’ll take that. The more people read into it, so much the better. I should have never told anybody who I was.”

The song was first a hit in his home country of England where it peaked at #2 earlier that year. A few months later it crossed the ocean and made M a one hit wonder in the USA as he never had a hit in America again. However, in England he had three more chart hits. One was called Moonlight and Muzik.

He said when creating the song he wanted it to fuse together many different styles of music so that it would be a summary of the last 25 years in music up to that point. There were three different versions of the song. The first that was recorded was an R and B style of song. The second sounded more Funk. The third is the version that was released as it sounded different then anything that was out at the time.

The budget to record the song was less then a shoestring budget. It took six months because M had no money to book studio time. He negotiated with the studios to use their down time. He told them he would give them a point or a percentage of what the record made. “I had to sort of beg, borrow or steal the whole record.” said M.

He also said, “I used the studio like an artist would use the canvas. It’s like a workshop situation where you build layer upon layer. I just had one or two people who I knew were talented, and I kind of put them together at different times.” Doing it that way M was able to overdub other musicians when they were available.

After his initial LP, which had Pop Muzik, he released more albums in England and Japan. None of them were as successful as his first album. Still you have to give him some respect for reaching the top of the charts. Even only doing it once is a big accomplishment.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein

Another horror comedy favorite of mine that is rarely shown on TV these days is from the ever dependable comedy team of Abbott and Costello in Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein. Actually the title is not correct. First off they meet Frankenstein’s monster. Dr. Frankenstein is nowhere to be seen. Secondly they meet more then the monster they also meet Dracula, the Wolf Man and have a brief encounter with the Invisible Man played by Vincent Price in what I believe was his only portrayal of that character in any film. The movie is actually one of the best film satires ever made of horror films. The movie starts with A and C working as shipping in Florida. Two crates arrive for the House of Horrors Wax Museum. They are not aware that the crates actually contain the real bodies of Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster. Costello gets a call from Larry Talbot (the Wolf Man) who warns Costello not to open the crates. However, Mr. Talbot is calling from England where it is nighttime. The full moon comes out while they are on the phone and he changes into the Wolf Man. When he hears growling on the line Costello ask him to get his dog away from the phone because he can’t hear what is being said. When the growling continues Costello hangs up. Later we meet Costello’s beautiful girlfriend Sandra. We find out that she is not really in love with him but she has been in contact with Dracula. He is bringing the monster here so that Sandra can get the unwitting Costello’s brain into the monsters head. That night A and C deliver the crates to the museum. Costello is alone when he opens up the case that contains Dracula. Dracula quickly puts him into a trance and opens up the monster’s crate. In a funny scene of their first meeting, the monster is frightened by Costello’s appearance. He has to be reassured by Dracula that Costello won’t hurt him. The two are interrupted when the museum owner arrives but they escape. The owner is furious when he sees the crates are empty. He holds A and C responsible and has them arrested where they spend the night in jail.

The next day they are bailed out by Joan an insurance investigator trying to find the missing contents of the crates. Also, that day Larry Talbot arrives from England. Talbot tries to convince A and C of what Dracula has planned with the monster. Costello has seen them and believes him. So far Abbott hasn’t seen anything and thinks he is crazy. Since Costello believes him Talbot confess to him that when the moon comes out he changes into a wolf. Misunderstanding what he means Costello says “You and 20 million other guys.”

One of the funniest scenes in the movie happens when A and C are in a castle. They are trying to find the monster. Costello finds it by accident and doesn’t realize the chair he is sitting in is really the monster’s lap. The scene starts off with Costello realizing that he has a third hand. I have heard that this was one of the scenes that took the longest time to be filmed as Glenn Strange, who played the monster, couldn’t stop laughing.

During a masquerade party Dracula finally gets Costello. He gets him on a boat and takes him back to the castle in the everglades. When he finds out that they are going to take his brain, Costello pleads with the monster to not let it happen. He says to him “I’ve had this brain for 30 years and it hasn’t worked right yet.” Just as the operation is about to start Abbott and Talbot arrive to rescue him and Joan who was also kidnapped. However, night has fallen and the moon has risen again and suddenly Costello is still strapped down to the table when Talbot becomes the Wolf Man. So he is trapped between a fighting werewolf and Dracula. The monster also joins in the fight. During the fighting Costello is freed and he and the others try to escape. I have read that one time during the filming of this scene that Costello stepped off his mark and Glenn Strange accidentally really hit him. Drac and the Wolf Man fall off a balcony to their presumed deaths. A and C head for a rowboat to escape with the monster in hot pursuit. They get to the rowboat and leave the monster standing on the pier. Another unwitting accomplice of Dracula’s arrives and takes the opportunity to set the pier on fire to kill the monster.

They now feel they are safe in the rowboat until the disembodied voice of Vincent Price says he wanted to get in on the excitement and says…”Allow me to introduce myself I’m the Invisible Man.” Just as a cigarette starts to float in midair and then lights itself they jump out of the boat to swim for shore.

This was a very funny film. It is almost hard to believe that it is said Costello wanted to pass on the film thinking it wasn’t very good. It turns out to have been one of his best performances and their most popular film. Still maybe they should have passed on it. It forever type cast them as the studio would put them in other films where they met the Mummy, Mr. Hyde and another version of the Invisible Man.

You can get the lobby card you see above if you click on the title to go to the auction site.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Scared Stiff

My thoughts are still on all things Halloween. Mostly the Halloween movies that I have liked over the years are the comedies. One that is rarely seen these days is the Martin and Lewis film “Scared Stiff.”

In this film Dean Martin plays Larry and Jerry Lewis plays Myron. They cross paths with a gangster. When they are on the run from him they run into the beautiful Lizabeth Scott who is playing an heiress. She is sailing for Cuba. Hoping this will put more space between them and the gangster and after they find a dead body and threatening note they decide to go with her. Once on the island they see a lot of mysterious things and cross paths with a zombie. Eventually the three of them find out who is behind all of they mystery.

This is a very funny movie. The first time I saw it I was home sick from school. That night it was the movie of the week on TV. I saw the advertisement on TV of Jerry sitting in a chair. Hands come from behind the chair and grab Jerry. He screams! The hands let go. He laughs at having defeated his would be kidnaper. Then a hidden panel in the floor opens up and Jerry falls through. I laughed so hard at that little bit of film I couldn’t wait to see the movie. So that night I was in the living room with my Mom and Dad. I was lying on the couch in my PJ’s. The movie was just starting and guess what…I fell asleep. So it would be a few years before I would be able to see the movie. The next morning my Mom tried to tell me what she thought was the funniest scene in the movie. When she started with Jerry sitting in a chair I finished it for her. I know it wasn’t polite but it was the only part of the movie that I had seen. She asked me how I knew it even though I was sleeping. I said I saw that scene in the advertisement.

Once I did see the movie all the way through it was a treat. It turns out to have been a rare treat as it hardly turns up on TV anymore. You may see other comedy horror movies on TV at Halloween but I have not seen Scared Stiff in years. Thankfully I taped it once and still have it on VHS.

Some trivia on movie is that Bob Hope and Bing Crosby made a cameo appearance at the end of the film. The producer of “Scared Stiff” also produced “Road to Bali” and Martin and Lewis did a cameo in that film the year before. It was a trade off as a favor to the producer. “Scared Stiff” is actually a remake of a 1940 Bob Hope Paulette Goddard film called “The Ghost Breakers.” Also, one of the writers on the film was Norman Lear. Mr. Lear went on to become a TV mogul with hits like All In The Family, The Jefferson’s, Good Times, One Day At A Time, Maude, etc.

If you want a good laugh then rent or buy “Scared Stiff.” It is very funny. If you are a younger viewer you should still find it funny but keep in mind in the 1940’s and 1950’s they always tried to put in some music. So don’t be surprised when Dean breaks out into song at a moments notice. You may find that you even like it.

You can get the signed lobby card that you see above if you click on the title of this posting.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Scariest Movie I Have Ever Seen!

Ok here is the scariest film I have ever seen in my life. The movie is “Brian’s Song.” What! You didn’t think Brian’s Song” was a scary movie? Well then you weren’t a ten your old when you saw it. The movie was released in 1971 starring James Caan as Brian Piccolo and Billy Dee Williams as Gayle Sayers. As many know they were football players for the Chicago Bears. The movie was based on the book “I Am Third” by Gayle Sayers. The title of the book referred to Gayle’s Christian beliefs. Jesus first, family and friends are second and himself third. The book was Gayle’s autobiography and at the center of the story of the movie was about Brian and Gayle’s friendship and how it weathered the storm when Brian was diagnosed with cancer. The closing scene when Brain dies is one of the most frightening moments I have ever seen on film. Here was this still healthy strong looking young football player and he was being eaten up inside by his own body. This scared me so much because it was the first time I realized that you didn’t have to be old to die. That meant that even though I was only 10 that I could die before I reached 11. I didn’t sleep hardly at all for weeks. The scriptwriter for the film was William Blinn who also created one of my favorite buddy cop shows. That show was Starsky and Hutch. So Mr. Blinn your television cops created much happiness for me. However, your script for “Brian’s Song”…SCARED THE DAYLIGHTS OUT OF ME!!!

To top it all off I got to see how true to life the movie was when it depicted how cancer kills. My Dad died of colon cancer 13 years ago. He was a big, strong, healthy man and looked healthy even at his funeral. Just like Brian Piccolo looked strong and healthy in the last scene of the movie. The funeral director at my Dad's funeral said that Dad looked so healthy that they hardly had to do any touch up on him. As you can tell I have never watched “Brian’s Song” again.

Monday, October 30, 2006

Bill Mantlo Tribute Book

Thanks to This is Pop Culture I found out about this. This is from their site.
Fans and friends of Bill Mantlo have come together to create a tribute book to the comics scribe, who spent years writing for Marvel Comics before being struck by a hit-and-run driver in the early 1990s. Mantlo sustained serious head injuries and can no longer care for himself.

Proceeds from "Bill Mantlo: A Life in Comics" will help pay for the writer's ongoing care. You can learn more here.

Night Of The Comet

You know it is almost freeing to not have to worry about posting photos on the blog. Don’t get me wrong I am still working trying to correct the problem. However, at least I don’t have to worry about scanning or logging in twice, once to post and once to view. All I have to worry about is the information and yes I know I have made some spelling errors. Spell check and even my proof reading can’t catch them all before I post to the internet.

This post is about one scary movie. Night of the Comet! This was really a remake of the 1968 movie Night of the Living Dead. It was directed by Thom Eberhardt and starred Catherine Mary Stewart (best known as Gwen from Weekend at Bernie’s), Kelli Maroney and a pre-Star Trek Voyager Robert Beltran and Geoffrey Lewis.

This movie came out in 1984 a few months before the return of Halley’s Comet so I imagine they were trying to cash in on that. Thankfully it was a very good movie. Catherine and Kelli play sisters who are hiding out from their step-mom. There Dad is out of town and she is having fits trying to get ready for a party that she is throwing in honor of the comets return. However, what the public didn’t realize is that the Earth was going to pass through the tail end of the comet. The over dose of radiation instantly zapped everyone to dust. Only people who were in lead rooms were safe. If you were only partly covered by lead then it affected your brain and you became like a Zombie and would soon get to the point where you would eat human flesh. Catherine was an usher at a movie theater and she stayed the night in the lead lined projection booth of the theater. He sister was hiding from step-mom that night in a neighbors lead lined tool shed. The meet with Robert Beltran who played a trucker who was sleeping in the back of his lead lined truck the night before. When the three of them try to get supplies at a deserted mall they are terrorized by some stock boys who survived but are slowly becoming zombies. They are saved by a group of scientist who survived. The scientists are led by Geoffrey Lewis. They saw this was going to happen but were not able to warn the public. So they went into their underground lead lined bunker to save themselves. However, as smart as they are they forgot to turn off the vents and now they were slowly becoming Zombies as well. The reason they saved anyone who survived intact was to kill them so they could drain their healthy blood and use it to save themselves. They break free from the evil scientist and in the process save two children who had survived the comet. In the end it starts to rain and it cleans the Earth for a fresh new start.

I saw this movie with my two friends Chuck and Mike. When the rain started I joked saying “What if all the people were just dehydrated and all these naked people started popping up?”

Later we ate dinner at Dixie Chili. The movie started a conversation. What if one day you found you were the last person on Earth because of radiation from something like a bomb or a comet? We started saying how we would not eat or drink anything unless it was canned, how we would try to find shelter if our homes were not left, etc. The one thing we all said was how we would try to find our families first. Chuck said it before anyone that he would look for his Mom and Dad. Then he said not that I would pass you guys by if I came upon you first. Maybe you had to be there but that got a laugh from all of us too.

All in all this, as you can tell, was a memorable night for me. The movie was supposed to be scary and usually it was but it was more of an adventure film in many ways. I found it in the newspaper ad when I wanted something to do with the guys. It was not a highly advertised film so I was not sure what to expect. Another reason I wanted to see it is that it was rated PG. The other movies at that time were rated R. Now I was old enough to see R films but I was raised not to go to them. It bothered my conscience when I went to them so I stopped for a long time. I have seen a couple more in the last few years. However, I still try not to in honor of my parents.

That being said if you want to see a good, scary, adventuresome movie then rent, buy or borrow Night of the Comet. You won’t be disappointed.

You can get the poster that you see above if you click on the title to go to the auction site.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

What Will Be Your Legacy?

"I will not die, but I will live to tell what the Lord has done. Psalm 118:17 NLT"

Famous last words

"John Wycliffe lay dying in Lutterworth, England. The year was 1384, and most of his influential friends in church and state had deserted him. Many thought he had gone too far.

For one thing, Wycliffe had dared to translate the Bible into English. He also urged a separation of church and state in order to reform the church. He attacked the corruption and the abuses of power that he observed—particularly among the friars. But most of all he preached that the Bible should be made available in every language.

It sounded like heresy, and since Wycliffe was now at the point of death, some felt he should reconsider his statements. So four friars and four senators crowded into his bedroom. They spoke sternly to him, reminding him of all he had advocated. Now was the time to confess the error of his ways.

Wycliffe was surprisingly alert. He asked if he could be raised in his bed so he could speak more clearly. Then he summoned all his remaining strength to quote Psalm 118:17, or at least part of it: ""I will not die, but I will live, and will again declare the evil deed of the friars.""

Wycliffe died, but his message and work lived on: the English Bible available to the common people. People die, but what they have begun is not halted by death. The trail they have left behind them goes on ahead of them.

This Day In Music History: Roger Williams and Autumn Leaves

Having posted about the song “Rise” in the last two weeks it is only appropriate that we post that on this day what Randy Badazz correctly described as a rarity when he said that it was rare for an instrumental to top the pop charts. The first instrumental hit to top the pop charts was “Autumn Leaves” by Roger Williams on October 29, 1955. It was #1 for 4 weeks that year. It was originally a French melody written by Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prevert. It was a hit in France by Juliette Greco. Capitol records asked Johnny Mercer to write English lyrics to it. It was recorded by many popular artists like Bing Crosby and Jo Stafford. No one ever made it a hit till Roger Williams released his piano version.
Mr. Williams was considered a prodigy when he learned to play the piano at the age of three. By the time he was four he had written his first song. By the time he was eight he was fluent in even more instruments. He was very active in music when he was in high school in Des Moines, Iowa. His Father was a Lutheran minister. His Dad taught him how to do something that most would consider dangerous for any musician. He taught him how to box. Roger served in the Navy during World War II and won a boxing title while serving for his country. After the war he went to college and got his Masters in music. He enrolled in the famous Juilliard School when he moved to New York and later won on “Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts.” He was playing piano at the Madison Hotel lunge when Dave Knapp of Knapp Records heard him and signed him to a recording contract. However, Knapp insisted that he change his name. You see Roger’s name he was given at his birth was Lou Weertz. Knapp didn’t think that name would stand up anywhere so he changed his name to Roger Williams. In later years Roger was an early supporter of stereo recordings and also invented an electronic piano that would play songs itself and simulate speech. It was an early version of the synthesizer. In the 1960’s Roger was named as DJ’s favorite instrumentalist. He also recorded another hit song when he released an instrumental version of “Born Free” based on the theme of the movie. It peaked at #7 in 1966.
In 1956, after the song Autumn Leaves was a hit, a movie called Autumn Leaves was released. It starred Joan Crawford and the title song was sung by Nat “King” Cole.

Jughead #174

I know it may be late to write about issue #174 of Jughead but I just got it yesterday. Now if you have been reading this blog long then it comes as no surprise to you that I am a fan of Archie comics. For years now I have thought that the heart of the Archie series was fading from all there books. The exception is from the digest series and that is mostly because they are also doing reprints of their older books in that series along with the new stories. Well with this issue of Jughead I think this has changed. Either that or I was in need of a good laugh. Now I don’t want to give away too much of any of the stories in case you decide to buy it. As with all good Archie and his gang stories the fun is in the journey not the destination. Basically the stories revolve around Jughead and Archie helping Chuck win a sporting event. Another is Jughead trying to help Dilton with getting a new hobby and the last is Jughead as a ladies man. The last one is hilarious and most of it is sight gags. It also starts off with something I had wanted Archie of Reggie to say for years. They have a problem with a couple of girls and Reg says to Arch…”Sometimes, I understand Jughead’s attitude toward females!” I have been reading Archie comics since I was a little boy when I thought girls had kooties so this really satisfied the little boy in me. There were no gimmicks in this issue. They were all just simple slices of life with Jug trying to help his friends and finding out that girls don’t have kooties. The writer or writers for this book found the heart of the Archie universe. I didn’t even mind that Archie was driving a red convertible instead of his red jalopy anymore. If this book is still available at your local comic book store or local supermarket I recommend that you buy it.

Also I am using this post to see if with the template change that I can post photos. I hope you see the cover of the book above. If not I hope beta blogger will rectify that very soon. Beta blogger please get on the ball with Netscape 7.2 and Picasa!!

New Look

Just thought that after a year it was time for a new look to the site. I am still hoping to keep the site on blogger but if I can't post photos soon that may change. For the time being I hope you like the new look. I have to add a new counter as I lost that with the template change. Don't ask me what the star in the upper left hand corner is for. I don't have the answer it just came with the template. Perhaps the designer is from Texas. Also the mysterious # of 897 came with the template. I suspect that is the id # of the template. Anyway I hope you like it. Now it is time for me to go to bed. Plesant dreams everyone.