Saturday, December 31, 2011

Top 10 Blog Posts of 2011

With only about ten hours left for 2011 here on the East Coast of the US, I thought I'd give a quick listing of the Top 10 Blog Posts (based on hit traffic) here at Martin's View in 2011.

Let's check out the list...

John Denver - Back Home Again

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday. Today (December 31st) would have been John Denver’s sixty-eighth birthday had he not died in an aircraft accident in 1997.

In 1974, at the height of his growing popularity, John Denver released his seventh studio album Back Home Again. This was his first album to reach number 1 on both the US Billboard Hot 200 chart and the US Billboard Country chart; it also went to number 1 in Canada and number 3 in the UK.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy Birthday, Jeff Lynne

Happy sixty-fourth birthday today (December 30th) to English singer, songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jeff Lynne.

Jeff started out by playing music locally in the early 1960's. In 1970, he formed the Electric Light Orchestra (known by many as ELO) with Roy Wood and Bev Bevan. The group were together for sixteen years and made some amazing, innovative records that were a fusion of rock and classical music.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Pat Benatar - Crimes of Passion

Happy fifty-sixth birthday today (December 29th) to guitarist Neil “Spyder” Giraldo and husband to rocker Pat Benatar (the two have been married since 1982).

After a strong debut album In the Heat of the Night in 1979 (click here for my review of that one), Pat Benatar followed it up on August 5th of 1980 with her second album Crimes of Passion. The album did very well, reaching number 2 on the US Billboard Album chart with a total run of ninety-two weeks, and has been certified multi-platinum.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Terry Bozzio

Happy sixty-first birthday yesterday (December 27th) to drummer Terry Bozzio.

The San Francisco born Bozzio was inspired to become a drummer after seeing the Beatles perform on the Ed Sullivan Show. After high school, he went to the College of Marin on a music scholarship. After school, he played in a number of local jazz groups.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Foreigner - Agent Provocateur

Happy sixty-seventh birthday today (December 27th) to English guitarist, songwriter and producer Mick Jones of Foreigner.

After their hugely successful album 4 in 1981 and before their appearance on the 1985 Vision Quest soundtrack (click here and here for my reviews of each of those), Foreigner put out their fifth studio album Agent Provocateur on December 7th of 1984. This concept album, which tells the story of a spy who sees life from many sides, went to number 1 in the UK, Germany and Switzerland; in the US it reached number 4 on the Billboard Album chart. Sales-wise, the record achieved multi-platinum status.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Daughtry - Daughtry

Happy thirty-second birthday today (December 26th) to American rocker Chris Daughtry.

The native North Carolinian came to national fame as a fifth season contestant on American Idol. A strong contender in a season packed with talent, he placed fourth that season and was able to move on to work on his debut album for RCA records. The self-titled Daughtry was released in 2006 and became the fastest selling debut rock album in Soundscan history. Within five weeks of its release it had sold over one million copies and by its ninth week on the charts it reached number 1 on the US Billboard 200 chart. It stayed on that chart for a total of one hundred and thirty six weeks. The album also won the American Music Award in 2007 for Favorite Pop-Rock Album.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Rubik's Cube

Guess what I got for Christmas this year from my sixteen year old son?

Yup, all of you 80's lovers know what that is. It's a Rubik's Cube, the colorful and often frustrating puzzle toy invented by Erno Rubik, a Hungarian engineer, back in 1974.

A Very Special Christmas

Merry Christmas to all of you, my blog readers. Today (December 25th) also happens to be the fifty-seventh birthday of Annie Lennox of the Eurythmics.

In 1987, the first of what has turned into a sporadic series of A Very Special Christmas albums was released. The series, created by music producer Jimmy Iovine, takes popular music artists of the time and has them sing holiday favorites. The album sales go to benefit the Special Olympics charity. Each cover has been designed by artist Keith Haring.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Beach Boys' Christmas Album

Welcome to another edition of Sixties Saturday, a very special Christmas Eve edition to boot.

In 1963, the California based rock band the Beach Boys released a holiday track. The song did so well that the following year they put out a full album of Christmas tunes. The Beach Boys’ Christmas Album reached number 6 on the US Billboard Christmas album charts in 1964 and eventually became a gold seller. The record contained a mix of original songs and holiday standards.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Robbie Dupree - Robbie Dupree

Happy sixty-fifth birthday today (December 23) to singer-songwriter Robbie Dupree.

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Robert Dupuis took the stage name of Robbie Dupree when he performed. He started out singing on street corners in the 60’s and performed in Greenwich Village night clubs in the early 70’s with Nile Rodgers in a group called New World Rising.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cheap Trick - Dream Police

Happy sixty-fifth birthday today (December 22nd) to guitarist and songwriter Rick Nielsen.

In late September of 1979, Nielsen and his band-mates of Cheap Trick released their fourth and best selling studio album Dream Police. The record went to number 6 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 7 in Australia and number 4 in Japan; it was certified platinum by the time the decade ended a few months later.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Robin Gibb

Happy sixty-second birthday tomorrow (December 22) to Robin Gibb, a third of the talented super-group the Bee Gees.

Robin and his identical twin brother brother Maurice, who passed away in 2003, were born on the Isle of Man. While the family was living in Australia, they along with older brother Barry began their musical careers in the 1960's.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Alan Parsons Project - The Turn of a Friendly Card

Happy sixty-third birthday today (December 20th) to British musician and producer Alan Parsons.

In November of 1980, the Alan Parsons Project released its fifth studio album The Turn of a Friendly Card. The progressive rock album, which told the story of a middle-aged man who gambles it all and loses, reached number 38 in the UK, number 22 in Sweden, number 16 in Canada, number 13 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 11 in Norway, and number 2 in Austria and Germany. It also generated two Top-20 hit singles.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Survivor South Pacific (ep. 16 - Reunion)

So earlier today I blogged about the final episode of Survivor South Pacific (click here for that post). It has been an interesting season to see how it would all play out.

Now, we move on the live reunion show where, among other things, we get to see how well folks clean up.

Let's look at the details...

Survivor South Pacific (ep. 15 - Finale)

Here we are, the finale episode of Survivor South Pacific. This one is called "Loyalties Will Be Broken" and boy is that an understatement. We go into this episode with Ozzy and Brandon on Redemption Island, the winner of the duel getting back in the game to play against Rick, Albert, Coach and Sophie. From there, two more Immunity Challenges and one winner. Let the fun begin!

Let's look at the details...

Kajagoogoo - White Feathers

Happy fifty-third birthday today (December 19th) to Christopher Hammill, better known to all of us 80’s music lovers as Limahl, the lead singer for Kajagoogoo.

In 1979 in Bedfordshire, England, a four-piece instrumental group was formed by Nick Beggs (bass), Steve Askew (lead guitar), Stuart Croxford Neale (keyboards) and Jez Strode (drums). In 1981, they advertised for a lead singer and ended up choosing Limahl to round out the group. The group then settled on a new name of Kajagoogoo.

DVD: Rolling Stones - Some Girls: Live in Texas ‘78

Last month, just in time for a holiday gift idea for that classic rock lover on your list, Eagle Rock released Some Girls Live in Texas ‘78, a concert DVD of the Rolling Stones from their huge 1978 tour. This performance was filmed on July 18th, 1978, at the Will Rogers Memorial Center in Forth Worth, Texas; it was right about the time that their Some Girls album was peaking at number 1 on the Billboard Hot 200 charts.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Brian Setzer Orchestra - Boogie Woogie Christmas

Brian Setzer got his musical start as part of the Stray Cats, a rockabilly band in the early 1980’s. Having grown up playing the baritone horn in his school band, he always had a love for the big band orchestra styles. When the Cats split, he created a new group in 1990 filled with trumpets, trombones, saxophones as well as a rhythm section and dubbed it the Brian Setzer Orchestra. Playing a mix of swing, jump blues, and jazz, they were part of the swing revival of the mid-1990’s.

In 2002, the Brian Setzer Orchestra put out their fifth album, the holiday tune filled Boogie Woogie Christmas. They applied their unique musical style to holiday standards and some original tracks, resulting in a swinging, fun Christmas record.

Film: The Muppets (2011)

This weekend I was finally able to set aside some time to go to the movies to see the Muppets, the first Muppets theatrical film to be released in twelve years. Yes, I know, the film has been in theatres since Thanksgiving week. Things have been a little busy.

I won't give too much away from the plot. Basically, it is the story of Walter who is the world's biggest Muppet fan. He and his brother Gary (Jason Segel) and Gary's girlfriend of ten years Mary (Amy Adams) plan to visit Muppet Theatre while on a vacation in Hollywood. However, they learn that the theatre is in trouble and only Kermit and the gang can save it. Problem is that the gang has long since parted ways. So, in the most classic of film traditions, the trio has to help Kermit get the gang back together and to put on a show.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Carpenters - Christmas Portrait

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday.

Back when I was a kid growing up in the 1970’s, we only had three network channels on television. When the holiday seasons rolled around in December each year, it was always magical to enjoy the various specials that came on each night. Yes, we had the many animated classics that still survive today but we also got to enjoy brand new variety show specials that were headlined by popular musical acts. One of those acts that did just that was the Carpenters.

Spinning out of specials from 1976 and 1977, siblings Karen and Richard Carpenter decided to put out an album of holiday songs. The result was 1978’s Christmas Portrait which led to another special that December. The record, a mix of popular and secular holiday songs, sold over one million copies.

Friday, December 16, 2011

ZZ Top - Afterburner

Happy sixty-second birthday today to singer and guitarist Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top. Besides four decades of hard rocking blues, Gibbons also has a recurring role on the FOX TV series Bones, playing a fictionalized version of himself as the highly protective father of Angela Montenegro. He also started a successful line of hot sauces and other products under the BFG Brand in 2011.

Back in the 1980’s, ZZ Top was working hard to follow up their hugely successful eighth studio album Eliminator (click here for that review). Their ninth album, 1985’s Afterburner, was a worthy follow up. It went to number 4 on the US Billboard Album chart, number 3 in Sweden, number 2 in the UK and Switzerland, and number 1 in New Zealand.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Clash - Give 'Em Enough Rope

Happy fifty-sixth birthday today (December 15th) to bassist Paul Gustave Simonon of the Clash.

Sandwiched between their self-titled, well-received 1977 debut record the Clash and their landmark 1979 album London Calling (click here and here for each of those respective reviews) came 1978’s Give ‘Em Enough Rope (it was released on November 10th). In the UK it went to number 2; in the US it was the first of the band’s albums to be released and reached number 128 on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Survivor South Pacific (episode 14)

Episode 14 of Survivor South Pacific is called "Then There Were Five" as things get tough now that the day-one alliance has to turn on one another. Oh, and we have a Redemption Island duel between Ozzy and Edna.

Let's look at the details...

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Bananarama - Deep Sea Skiving

Happy fiftieth birthday this week (December 17th) to Sara Dallin, co-founder of the 80’s pop/new-wave group Bananarama.

Formed in 1979 by Dallin, Keren Woodward and Siobhan Fahley, the group was big followers of the punk rock and post-punk scenes in the UK. They released a single in 1981 that was an underground favorite. In 1982, they appeared on the track “It Ain’t What You Do…” on the Fun Boy Three debut album. Finally, on March 2nd of 1983 they released their debut album Deep Sea Skiving which went to number 7 on the UK album charts and number 63 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Morris Day - Color of Success

Happy fifty-fourth birthday today (December 13th) to R&B singer and actor Morris Day.

After their third album Ice Cream Castle (click here for that review) in 1984, the Minneapolis based R&B/funk band the Time split up (for the first time).

Morris Day naturally moved from the role of the group's lead singer to a solo recording career. In October of 1985, he produced and released his debut solo effort Color of Success where he provided vocals, drums and percussion, and some of synthesizer parts as well. The album charted well, reaching number 37 on the US Billboard Album Chart and number 7 on the Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Album chart.

TV: Once Upon A Time (ep. 7)

It is week seven for ABC's Once Upon a Time, and the last episode of 2011. What a way to end up before the break! This one made me wanting more - now!

This week's episode was entitled "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", which focuses on Sheriff Graham who suddenly starts remembering that he was the Huntsman in another lifetime.

Let's get to the episode breakdown, shall we?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sheila E.

Happy fifty-fourth birthday today (December 12th) to percussionist extraordinaire Sheila Escovedo.

Born in California, Sheila grew up in a family of music. Her father is the famous Mexican-American jazz percussionist Pete Escovedo, and her uncle Alejandro Escovedo has worked with groups like the Nuns, and Rank and File. Jazz/salsa musician Tito Puente is her godfather.

DVD: God Bless Ozzy Osbourne

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that Ozzy Osbourne has lived a very infamous rock and roll lifestyle. From the days of Black Sabbath in the 70’s to his solo career in the 80’s to the Osbournes reality show on MTV in the 2000’s, his life has always been one of public display with over-the-top moments.

In 2011, his son Jack Osbourne and film directors Mike Fleiss and Mike Piscitelli put together a documentary film entitled God Bless Ozzy Osbourne, a very intimate and honest look at the rock legend’s life. Starting with growing up as one of six children of a factory worker in war-torn Birmingham, England, it chronicles the events of Ozzy’s career and personal struggles, ending with the over-60 rocker still touring to sold-out arena stadiums all over the world.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Twisted Sister - A Twisted Christmas

I decided to take a break from Soundtrack Sunday for a few weeks so that I could present some more holiday albums for the season.

In 2006, Dee Snider and his fellow band mates of Twisted Sister decided to put out a CD of holiday songs entitled A Twisted Christmas. Given the band's musical slant, the album, of course, delivers holiday standards in a heavy metal style. The album sold very well commercially, reaching number 147 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 27 on the Billboard Holiday charts.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Partridge Family Christmas Card

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday. Seeing as Christmas is just a few weeks away, I thought I would start to sprinkle in a few holiday albums for the season.

In December of 1971, the Partridge Family TV show was going strong in its second season on the ABC network. It is no surprise either the thirteenth episode which aired December that year would include a holiday themed offering. "Don't Bring Your Guns To Town, Santa" was the story of how the family's bus breaks down in a ghost town in the middle of nowhere which forces them to miss Christmas. I remember this episode fondly from the years the show ran in syndication locally during the late 70's; it was especially a favorite around the holiday times.

Friday, December 9, 2011

DVD: The Love We Make

Just released on DVD is The Love We Make, a documentary film directed by Albert Maysles and Bradley Kaplan. This ninety-four minute narrative follows Paul McCartney's activities and encounters during the days post-September 11, 2011 in New York City.

From the introduction, we learn that McCartney was on a jet waiting on the tarmac to take off when the 9/11 attacks occurred. The flight was postponed and he got to feel first hand what the great city was going through during those chaotic and emotional times.

Donny Osmond - Donny Osmond

Happy fifty-fourth birthday today (December 9th) to American pop singer Donny Osmond.

Performing is in the Osmond family blood. Donny started out as a teen idol in the early 1970’s, first as a part of a group with his four older brothers and then a solo career. In the mid-70’s, he teamed up with his sister Marie for a number of albums and a successful musical variety show. He took some time off from the music scene for most of the 80’s as he struggled with a squeaky-clean image of his youth.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Frankie Goes to Hollywood - Liverpool

Happy fifty-second birthday today to singer and dancer Paul Rutherford of the group Frankie Goes to Hollywood.

After their smash debut album Welcome to the Pleasuredome (click here to read my review of that record), Frankie Goes to Hollywood was pressed to follow it up. It was almost two years to the day until they released their second and subsequently final album as a group. 1986’s Liverpool did well in the band’s native UK (it reached number 5 on the charts) and around in Europe (number 5 in the Netherlands, number 8 in Norway, number 7 in Switzerland). In the US, however, the album stalled at number 88 on the Billboard Hot 200.

Survivor South Pacific (episode 13)

Episode 13 of Survivor South Pacific is called "Ticking Time Bomb", and indeed I could hear the sounds of each tick getting louder and louder. The Upolu tribe is about to implode, but not before we get to a duel at Redemption Island first.

Let's look at the details...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tim Butler

Happy fifty-third birthday today (December 7th) to Tim Butler of the Psychedelic Furs. The English songwriter and bassist was a co-founder of the band along with his older brother Richard. The group started out from the emerging punk scene in the late 1970's. While the group was influential on the music scene, particularly on college radio stations, their only big crossover hit was the title track for the film Pretty In Pink (click here for that soundtrack review).

After the Furs broke up, Tim and Richard Buttler were also founding members of the alternative band Love Spit Love in the early 90's.

Here are links to a few of the Psychedelic Furs albums I reviewed previously on my blog:

- for the self-titled 1980 debut the Psychedelic Furs please click here

- for the band's 1981 release Talk Talk Talk please click here

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Book Review: Getting Lucky

DC Brod is an American author from Illinois who, per her official website, attended two Beatles concerts in her younger days. She lists as her writing influences Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert's Dune, Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird, among others. Her published work includes 2005's Heartstone (a modern day Authurian thriller), a series of novels about head of security Quint McCauley (from 1989 to 2000, available in the Kindle format) and 2010's Getting Sassy, the first novel starring freelance writer Robyn Gutherie.

Happy Birthday, Peter Buck

Happy fifty-fifth birthday today (December 6th) to R.E.M. guitarist and co-founder Peter Buck. Born in California, his family eventually moved to Atlanta, Georgia. After dropping out of Emory University, he moved back to Athens, Georgia, and began attending the University of Georgia. It was while working at a local record store that he met future bandmate Michael Stipe.

Besides performing with R.E.M., Buck as been an official member of a number of other groups as well. These include Hindu Love Gods, and Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3. As a record producer, Buck has worked with the Fleshtones, Uncle Tupelo and more. He has also been a session musician for the Replacements and Billy Bragg.

Here are the three album reviews I did from Buck's 1980's offerings with R.E.M. Enjoy.

For R.E.M. - Murmur click here

For R.E.M. - Document click here

For R.E.M. - Green click here

Monday, December 5, 2011

TV: Pan Am (episode 9)

This week was the airing of the ninth episode of ABC's Pan Am. The episode is entitled "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and the crew has a flight to London while Dean and Colette play hookie. Let's take a look at the details.

Once Upon A Time (ep. 6)

Week six for ABC's Once Upon a Time has arrived. This week's episode was entitled "The Shepherd", which focuses a bit more on the backstory of Prince Charming while in present day time David has to chose between his estranged wife Katherine and the woman he is falling for Mary-Margaret.

Let's get to the episode breakdown, shall we?

Missing Person - Missing Persons

Happy fifty-fifth birthday this week (December 8th) to Brooklyn born rocker Warren Cuccurullo. In his teen years, he was a devote fan of Frank Zappa and traveled to many of the band's concerts throughout the northeast. At age 22, he auditioned as a guitarist for Zappa's new road band. That led to some studio work on with the band on Joe's Garage.

In 1980, Cuccurullo decided to form a band with husband and wife team Terry and Dale Bozzio and friend Patrick O'Hearn. Thus Missing Persons was born. They put together a four-song, self-titled Missing Persons EP to help promote their band while on tour. In 1982, the album finally entered the US Billboard Album chart, peaking at number 46 and spending a total of forty-seven weeks on the charts.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

The Rose (soundtrack)

Welcome to another edition of Soundtrack Sunday. Earlier this week (on December 1st), the featured artist on this record celebrated her sixty-sixth birthday.

In November of 1979, a musical drama starring singer Bette Midler (in her acting debut) hit the silver screen. The Rose was the story of a 1960’s rock star who was struggling with the pressures of her career and demands from her business manager. The story was loosely based on the life of Janis Joplin, and the film was nominated for four Academy Awards.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Black Sabbath - Paranoid

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday. Today (December 3rd) also marks the sixty-third birthday of singer John Michael “Ozzy” Osbourne.

Before he was portrayed as a mumbling father on a MTV reality show, Osbourne was one of the founding members of the heavy metal rock band Black Sabbath in the late 1960’s. In 1970, they released their first studio album to much success. They followed it up later that year with Paranoid which went to number 1 on the UK album charts and number 12 on the US Billboard 200 charts. The album was ranked number 130 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Britney Spears - ...Baby One More Time

Happy thirtieth birthday today (December 2nd) to singer/dancer/actress/former Mouseketeer Britney Spears.

As the decade of the 90’s was closing out, Britney Spears released her debut album …Baby One More Time in 1999 and helped reignite a teen-pop phase on the charts. The record sold like gangbusters the world over; in the US and Canada it achieved Diamond status while in other countries it went Platinum. Chart-wise, it reached number 1 in the US, Canada, Germany and Switzerland, and number 2 in Austria and the UK. It also generated five singles to score well on the charts.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Survivor South Pacific (episode 12)

Counting last week's previously not shown scenes episode, that puts us at episode 12 entitled "Cult Like". We get another three way duel at Redemption Island and the final seven in the merged tribe trying to determine where do they go now that the Savaii are all out of the way.

Let's look at the details...

Janelle Monáe - Metropolis: The Chase Suite

Happy twenty-sixth birthday today (December 1st) to American R&B/soul musician Janelle Monáe Robinson.

It was February this year when I first discovered Janelle Monáe. I was watching the Grammy Awards and was totally blown away by her performance. I sought out music videos and then decided this was one new artist that I had to hear more of. I quickly downloaded a couple of her albums.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Billy Idol - Billy Idol

Happy fifty-sixth birthday today (November 30th) to Billy Idol.

After his four song debut EP Don’t Stop (click here for that review) in 1981, rocker Billy Idol was ready to release his first full-length solo album. In July of 1982, the ten song album Billy Idol was released. The record reached number 45 on the US Billboard 200, becoming a gold seller. It also generated a pair of top selling singles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

New Kids on the Block - New Kids on the Block

Happy forty-third birthday today (November 29th) to Jonathan Knight.

Boston producer Maurice Starr was attempting to recreate the magic of when he discovered the guys who would become New Edition a few years earlier. In 1984, Jonathan along with brother Jordan, Joey McIntyre, Donnie Wahlberg and Danny Wood were chosen out of hundreds of audition to be assembled as a new musical group. Together, the five would become known as New Kids on the Block.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Once Upon a Time (episode 5)

Week five for ABC's Once Upon a Time. This week's episode was entitled "That Still Small Voice", where we get a more focused look at Dr. Hopper/Jiminy Cricket.

Let's get to the episode breakdown, shall we?

En Vogue - Born to Sing

Happy forty-third birthday today (November 28th) to singer Dawn Robinson.

In the summer of 1989, Robinson along with Cindy Herron, Maxine Jones and Terry Ellis came together in Oakland, California, to form the modern day R&B girl-group En Vogue. Combining strong voices with beauty and intelligence, the ladies made a strong debut with their 1990 album Born to Sing which reached number 21 on the US Billboard 200 and number 3 on the Billboard R&B charts. Within six months, the album had sold over one million copies in the US alone.