Thursday, May 31, 2012

Nu Shooz - Kung Pao Kitchen

Do you ever have one of those days when you wanted to just party like it was 1992? Well, now here's your chance.

Last week, the Portland based husband-and-wife team of John Smith and Valerie Day, best known to the music world as Nu Shooz, released their sixth studio album Kung Pao Kitchen. The tracks were pulled from a nearly twenty year stay in the vault of previously unreleased material and re-mastered for the new millennium.

Happy Birthday, Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels

Happy forty-eighth birthday today (May 31st) to American hip-hop pioneer Darryl "D.M.C." McDaniels.

McDaniels grew up in New York City and attended Catholic school. After he enrolled in St. John's University. Inspired by the recordings of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, he taught himself how to DJ. By the end of the decade, along with friends Joseph "Run" Simmons and DJ Jam-Master Jay, he was preforming rap publicly.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Happy Birthday, Topper Headon

Happy fifty eighth birthday today (May 30th) to Nicolas Bowen "Topper" Headon, the rock and roll drummer for the British punk band the Clash.

Born in Crockenhill, north of Kent, Headon started playing drums and an early age. He lists jazz drummer Billy Cobham as an influence. In 1973, he played in a progressive rock group called Mirkwood for a year and a half.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Junior - Ji

The 80’s R&B singer who went by the name Junior was born Norman Giscombe in London, England. From 1980 to 1982, he was a backing vocalist for a British soul/funk band named Linx. The charismatic singer soon decided to go solo and recorded his own album.

Thirty years ago this month, Junior released Ji. The album went to number 28 in the UK, number 71 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 15 on the Billboard R&B charts.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Glenn Frey - No Fun Aloud

American singer, songwriter and guitarist Glenn Frey spent the 70’s as part of the California super-group the Eagles. When the group broke up, Frey went on to a solo career.

Today (May 28th) marks the 30th anniversary of his solo debut album No Fun Aloud. The Gold certified album went to number 32 on the US Billboard Hot 200; it also went to number 39 on the Swedish charts.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Karla Bonoff - Wild Heart of the Young

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the third studio album by American singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff. Wild Heart of the Young reached number 49 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and gave Bonoff her highest ranking hit single.

Bonoff started her career as a background singer for Linda Ronstadt and Wendy Waldman before releasing her first album. Over the years, her songs have been recorded by the likes of Ronstadt, Bonnie Raitt, Lynn Anderson and Wynonna Judd.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Roxy Music - Avalon

Today (May 26th) marks the 30th anniversary release of Avalon, the eighth and last studio album by Roxy Music.

This 1982 release by Bryan Ferry (lead vocals, keyboards), Alan Spenner (bass), Phil Manzanera (guitar), Andy MacKay (saxophone, oboe), Paul Carrack (keyboards) and Andy Newmark (drums) went to number 53 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 1, for three weeks, on the UK charts. The album was ranked at number 307 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All-Time and number 31 on its list of the Top 100 Albums of the 1980’s.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Spandau Ballet - Diamond (30th anniversary)

Today, May 25th, marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Spandau Ballet's second studio album Diamond.

For my review of this album, please click here.

Time to put this one on play on the iPod and get ready to chant "I Don't Need This Pressure On".

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Terri Gibbs - Some Days It Rains All Night Long

Blind since birth, country music artist Terri Gibbs learned to play piano at the age of three. In 1980 she was signed to MCA Records at age twenty six. After her debut album Somebody’s Knockin’ in 1981, which included a smash hit crossover single of the same name, she won the Academy of Country Music’s Top Female Vocalist award that year.

This month marks the 30th anniversary of her third studio album Some Days It Rains All Night Long. The record went to number 33 on the US Billboard Country Albums chart. It also produced a trio of singles.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Franke and the Knockouts - Below the Belt

Today (May 23rd) marks the 30th anniversary of Below the Belt, the second album by Franke and the Knockouts.

The New Jersey band was fronted by singer/songwriter Franke Previte, whose most known work may be the two songs he co-wrote for the film Dirty Dancing - “(I've Had) The Time of My Life" and "Hungry Eyes". The Knockouts were made up of Leigh Foxx (bass), Billy Elworthy (guitars), Claude LeHenaff (drums), and Blake Levinsohn (keyboards).

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Greg Kihn Band - Kihntinued

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the seventh studio album by the Greg Kihn Band.

1982‘s Kihntinued went to number 33 on the US Billboard Hot 200.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Remembering Robin Gibb

This morning I was listening to the satellite radio in the car (Sirius/XM 70's on 7) and heard an audio clip from a past interview with Robin Gibb. He was remarking at how amazed he was that the music of the Bee Gees was being played at weddings and funerals. He mentioned hearing that "How Deep Is Your Love" records were played in churches as people got married. The interviewer asked him which song of theirs he would have played at his funeral. Without hesitation Robin said "Tragedy", their 1979 hit, and then he added jokingly "Staying Alive just wouldn't work now, would it?"

That's how I felt when I heard the news last night of the passing of Robin Gibb, at age 62, after losing a tough battle to cancer. It is truly a tragedy that we've lost another music legend this year.

Queen - Hot Space

Today (May 21st) marks the 30th anniversary of the tenth studio album by the British rock band Queen. Hot Space fused a number of different elements like pop, disco, R&B and dance into the musical mix, which was a bit of a turn-off to many of their fans who preferred their earlier, traditional rock sound.

The album went to number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 200, number 15 in Australia, number 7 in France, number 6 in Japan, number 5 in Germany, number 4 in their native UK and in Sweden, number 3 in Norway, and number 1 in Austria and the Netherlands. Six of the tracks were released as singles with varying degrees of success.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mermaids (soundtrack)

Welcome to another edition of Soundtrack Sunday. Today (May 20th) is also the sixty-sixth birthday of an American singer, actress, television star, director and winner of an Oscar, Grammy and Emmy. Of course, I can only be talking about the one and only Cher.

In December of 1990, Cher starred along side Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci in the comedy-drama Mermaids. The story is about fifteen year old Charlotte Flax (Ryder) who lives with her eccentric mother (Cher) and younger sister Kate (Ricci). The film did well at the box office, clearing over $110 million.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Remembering Donna Summer

Today we have a bit of sadness to mark this edition of Seventies Saturday.

To paraphrase from the title of her 1979 song that featured the Brooklyn Dreams, Heaven knows that this week it welcomed an angelic voice to its eternal chorus. LaDonna Adrian Gaines, best known across the globe by her stage name of Donna Summer, passed away on Thursday at age 63 following a battle with cancer. She is survived by her husband Bruce Sudano, their daughters Brooklyn and Amanda, and her daughter Mimi from a previous marriage.

Bow Wow Wow - Last of the Mohicans

This month marks the 30th anniversary release of The Last of the Mohicans, a four song EP by the English new wave band Bow Wow Wow. The band (consisting of Matthew Ashman on guitar, Leigh Gorman on bass, and David Barbarossa on drums and singer Annabella Lwin) had released a couple studio albums prior to this record. They also worked with mastermind producer Malcolm McLaren.

The May 1982 release went to number 67 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and features the group’s biggest hit. The cover features the under-aged Lwin completely naked (it was the same photo used for the band’s first full-length album from 1981).

Friday, May 18, 2012

Kid Creole & the Coconuts - Tropical Gangsters

In the early 80’s, Kid Creole (August Darnell) and his musical group the Coconuts (which included Coati Mundi, Cheryl Poirier, Adriana Kaegi and Taryn Hagey) combined a number of musical styles from Latin and South America, the Caribbean and Trinidad with those of the big band era to create an entertaining sound.

This month marks the 30th anniversary release of their third studio album Tropical Gangsters (in the US it was released under the title Wiseguys). Though the album stalled at number 145 on the US Billboard Hot 200, it fared better on the US R&B charts (reaching number 43). Around the world, though, the record was a smash. It went to number 22 in Sweden, number 18 in Norway, number 9 in France, number 6 in the Netherlands and number 3 in the UK.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Squeeze - Sweets from a Stranger

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Sweets From a Stranger, the fifth studio album by the UK band Squeeze. The album went to number 20 in their native UK, number 26 in Canada and number 32 on the US Billboard Hot 200 album charts. All of the tracks were written by Chris Difford (guitars and vocals) and Glenn Tilbrook (guitars, keyboards and vocals). The band split up for awhile after the world tour to promote the album, re-uniting again in 1985.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

TV: Once Upon A Time (ep. 22, season 1 finale)

This week was the finale for the first season of Once Upon A Time, and boy was it a rollercoaster ride of an episode!

The title is "A Land Without Magic". The previews summary stated the following: Regina forges an alliance with Emma in order to save Henry's life which leads Emma to believe in the Curse. Meanwhile, the events surrounding Prince Charming's escape from the Evil Queen and his reunion with Snow White are revealed.

Let's dive right into the action...

Juice Newton - Quiet Lies

This month marks the 30th anniversary release of Juice Newton's seventh studio album Quiet Lies.

Likes its predecessor from the year before, this 1982 album had crossover appeal. It went to number 7 on the US Billboard Country charts and number 20 on the Billboard Hot 200. It also reached number 36 on the Canadian charts. The album also generated a number of hit singles that appeared on both the country and pop charts.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

TV: Survivor - One World (reunion show)

After thirty nine days and setting a Survivor milestone of an all-women top five, Kim came out on top as the Sole Survivor on Survivor: One World, beating out Sabrina and Chelsea by a vote of 7:2:0.

What followed then was the Reunion episode with all the returning castmates and some surprise audience members too.

Here are my thoughts on the reunion and some final summary of the season...

Altered Images - Pinky Blue

Altered Images was a an early 1980's new-wave band out of Scotland made up of Clare Grogan (lead vocals), Michael Anderson (drums), Tony McDaid (guitar), Johnny McElhone (bass), and Jim McKinven (guitar).

This week marks the 30th anniversary of the release of their second studio album Pinky Blue. The record went to number 12 on the UK charts and generated a number of singles.

Monday, May 14, 2012

TV: Survivor - One World (ep. 14)

Last week on Survivor: One World, the women alliance made history when the voted out Tarzan. For the first time ever, an all-women final five would be left to beattle for the title of Sole Survivor.

The title of the episode this last episode for the season is "Perception Is Not Always Reality" where two challenges and three Tribal Councils will yield the winner.

Let's look at the episode...

The Clash - Combat Rock

Today (May 14th) marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the fifth studio album by the Clash. Combat Rock was originally planned as a seventeen-track double album with the title Rat Patrol From Fort Bragg but was cut back a twelve song single album during production.

Chart-wise, it reached its highest spot in the rock band's native UK, number 2; it also went to number 12 in Canada, number 9 in Sweden, and number 7 in Norway. In the US, it peaked at number 7 on the Billboard Hot 200 and spent sixty one weeks on the chart total.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Film: The Avengers (2012)

Last night, the family went out to see The Avengers at the local movie complex. Even a week after the American debut, the theatre was packed. They actually had to ask people to shift over seats before the film started. That's a good thing.

The Avengers, of course, was the culimination of a number of Marvel movie franchises and featured an all-star cast. We got Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (the Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (the Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) as the heroes. Tom Hiddleston returned to play the villain of the piece (Loki), and we had a health dose of S.H.I.E.L.D. as well (Samuel L. Jackson as Col. Nick Fury, Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Colson, and Cobie Smulders as Agent Marie Hill).

And, of course, we have the screenplay and direction done by none other than the legendary Joss Whedon, the ultimate in fan-favorites.

Did I love it? Read on (warning - there will be Spoilers)...

Rick James - Throwin' Down

To follow up his hugely successful album Street Songs (click here for that review), Motown records released Rick James’ sixth studio album Throwin’ Down on March 13th, 1982 - thirty years ago from today.

The album peaked at number 13 on the US Billboard Hot 200 and number 2 on the R&B charts, generating a Gold sales certification. In the UK, the album only got as high as number 93 on the charts.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Steve Winwood - Steve Winwood

Welcome to another edition of Seventies Saturday. And a happy sixty-fourth birthday today (May 12th) the English born songwriter and musician Steve Winwood.

After a number of years as member of the Spencer Davis Group, Traffic and Blind Faith, Winwood decided to focus on a solo career. In June of 1977, he released his self-titled debut album Steve Winwood. Despite the presence of any major chart-busting singles, the record did go to number 12 on the UK charts and number 22 on the US Billboard Hot 200. A lot of that was likely fueled on his past work with Traffic and the fact that Jim Capaldi, drummer of that band, co-wrote two thirds of the album with Winwood and also played percussion on a number of the tracks.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Billy Squier - Don't Say No

Tomorrow (May 12th) marks the sixty-second birthday to American rock musician Billy Squier.

The Massachusetts born Squier was inspired to become a musician after seeing Eric Clapton and Cream perform in 1968. In the early 70’s, he played with a band called Piper who released two albums. From there, Squier signed with Capitol Records and released his first albums solo albums in the 80’s.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Disappointed With North Carolina

Most regular readers of my blog know I tend to shy away from things of a political nature. I usually reserve my space to talk about recreational activities I enjoy: listening to music, reading books, watching television shows. To say I am not the deepest of thinkers on many topics is a fair assessment.

However, the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina this week really inspired me to make comment.

TV: Survivor - One World (ep. 13)

Last week on Survivor: One World, the women alliance showed its first cracks as Kat got everyone's nerves and ended up going to the jury. Tarzan continues to keep a low-profile, hoping to continue riding his last-man-standing status all the way to the finals. Will it work?

The title of the episode this week is "It's Human Nature". The previews indicate that an unlikely betrayal within an alliance puts one castaway on the defense, while another tribe member concocts an alaborate story to gain an advantage in the game.

Let's look at the episode...

Duran Duran - Rio (30th anniversary)

Today, May 10th, marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Duran Duran's second studio album Rio.

For my review of this album, please click here.

So, like all my Duranie friends over on Twitter, today I am going to set my iPod to play this classic 80's album and enjoy. I hope you will join us.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Billy Joel - 52nd Street

Happy sixty-third birthday today (May 9th) to American pianist, singer, songwriter and composer Billy Joel.

Between his career breakthrough fifth album The Stranger and his seventh album Glass Houses (click here and here respectively for both of those reviews), Joel released 52nd Street on October 13th, 1978.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy Birthday, Alex Van Halen

Happy fifty-ninth birthday today (May 8th) to Dutch born and American drummer Alex Van Halen.

Alex started out initially on guitar while his brother Eddie dabbled with the drums. Alex actually took better to the later, so the two switched it up and the rest was rock history. The two played in a number of early bands together (the Broken Off Combs, the Space Brothers, and Mammoth Chammoth) before they settled on the name Van Halen in 1977.

TV: Once Upon A Time (ep. 21)

When Emma was faced with the truth about being the savior on last week's Once Upon A Time her response was to grab Henry and make tracks as far away from Storybrooke as possible.

This week the episode is entitled "An Apple Red as Blood". Henry must try to convince his birth mother to continue the quest, however Regina has devised a master plan that will force Emma to leave forever. On the Fairytale side, we learn the details of how Snow White rescued Prince Charming and her plan to enlist aid to defeat the Evil Queen once and for all.

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

Monday, May 7, 2012

Captain and Tennille - Song of Joy

Tomorrow (May 8th) marks the seventy-second birthday of Toni Tennille, the American pianist and singer with a contralto vocal range. She and her long-time musical partner Daryl “the Captain” Dragon have been married since 1975 and live in Prescott, Arizona.

Following their solid debut album Love Will Keep Us Together in 1975 (click here for that review), the musical duo starred in their own hour-long musical variety show on the ABC television network from September 1976 to March 1977. This coincided with their Platinum selling second album Song of Joy climbing the charts in 1976 (it went to number 9 on the US Billboard Hot 200 charts).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Beverly Hills Cop II (soundtrack)

Welcome to another edition of Soundtrack Sunday. And today (May 6th) we wish a very special happy sixty-seventh birthday to American rock musician Bob Seger.

After the huge box office success of the first Beverly Hills Cop film in 1984 and its smash hit soundtrack album (click here for my review of that record), Paramount Pictures re-teamed Eddie Murphy with Judge Reinhold and John Ashton for the sequel. Naturally, a soundtrack album was also released; the Beverly Hills II album debuted at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 200 charts and spent a total of twenty weeks there (slightly more than half the time its predecessor spent on the charts which was forty nine weeks).

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Air Supply - Now and Forever

Happy sixty-first birthday today (May 5th) to Australian rock guitarist Rex Goh. He has toured and recorded with such bands as Air Supply, Savage Garden and QED.

This month also marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Air Supply’s 1982 album Now and Forever. The record went to number 27 in the band’s native Australia, number 46 in New Zealand and number 25 on the US Billboard Hot 200 chart. It was also the last time the band achieved Platinum sales in the US.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I

Today (May 4th) marks the 30th anniversary of Stevie Wonder's compilation album Stevie Wonder's Original Musiquarium I. This 1982 release gathers together many of Wonder's biggest hits from the period of 1972 to 1980. The double-record set, which also included four brand new tracks, peaked at number 4 on the US Billboard Hot 200 chart and number 1 on the US Billboard R&B chart. It also reached number 8 on the UK charts.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

TV: Survivor - One World (ep. 12)

Survivor: One World is in an interesting position. After last week's removal of Troyzan, the field is left with one male (Tarzan) versus the strong alliance of six women.

The title of the episode this week is "It's Gonna Be Chaos". The previews suggest that the walls are about to come down for the Tikiano tribe thanks to an emotional moment with their loved ones. And, one of the castaways decides to create animosity amongst the wounded tribe members.

Sounds like it should prove to be very interesting indeed. Let's look at the episode...

Modern English - After The Snow

Today (May 3rd) marks the thirtieth anniversary release of the second studio album from Modern English. 1982's After The Snow went to number 15 in the UK and number 78 on the US Billboard Hot 200. The English band was made up of Robbie Grey (vocals), Gary McDowell (guitars), Stephen Walker (keyboards), Michael Conroy (bass, violin) and Richard Brown (drums, percussion).

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Book Review: Mockingjay

Last month I reviewed the first two books in Suzanne Collins' teen-fiction/sci-fi trilogy The Hunger Games (click here and here for the book reviews of The Hunger Games and Catching Fire respectively).

It took me another three plus weeks to finish Mockingjay, the 2010 novel that completes the story of Katniss Everdeen and the struggle for freedom in the dystopian future of Panem.

For those who have read my earlier reviews, the same shortcomings I found in the second book particularly are further compounded on this one.

The Cure - Pornography

This week marks the thirtieth anniversary of the release of the Cure's fourth studio album; Pornography was released on May 3rd, 1982. Chart-wise, the album went to number 45 in Sweden, number 81 in France, number 9 in New Zealand and number 8 in the band's native UK. Many consider this one the most gothic records by the group due to dark lyrics and heavy musical sounds. The album was included on the list of the 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

April 2012 Survey Results

Well, the month of April has ended and the little survey I had set up on my blog is over. The question of the month was: what kind of posts do you like reading on my blog?

Users were given four answers to chose from and could select more than one answer. The results are in.

Frank Zappa - Ship Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch

Thirty years ago this week (May 3rd, 1982, to be precise), Frank Zappa released his thirty third album. With only six tracks to it, Ships Arriving Too Late to Save a Drowning Witch not only had a very intriguing title but it also had an interesting format. One side of the album featured studio cuts and other side featured live cuts.

The album went to number 23 on the US Billboard Hot 200. In the UK, it reached number 61. And in Norway and Sweden it went to numbers 20 and 26 respectively. And, it featured Zappa’s best selling single in the US.