Amoeblog

One Album Wonders

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 15, 2014 04:14pm | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. In the album era, for a variety of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album. Here's Part I of a look at some of my favorite "one album wonders."

*****


THE FIREBIRDS - LIGHT MY FIRE (1968)

The Firebirds - Light My Fire


In 1968 a group of studio musicians who cut a collection of songs as The Firebirds as a cash in for budget label, Crown Records, "king of the junk record labels" (not their slogan but an apt description). It was joined by the label's Hey Jude, credited to Underground Electrics, and Hair, credited to 31 Flavours -- all of which were recorded anonymously and might very well have been a product of the same musicians. Theses sorts of cheapie cash-ins used to be a dime a dozen but they're almost never performed as well as here, where the faceless group of unknowns bash out some stoned immaculate heavy psych and acid rock of the brown variety.




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Gorillasploitation - Giant Gorilla Movies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 8, 2014 09:48am | Post a Comment

 
Aurora King Kong model

I have liked gorillas from an early age. I think I was eleven when I read Dian Fossey's Gorilla's in the Mist, shortly after finishing Jane Goodall's In the Shadow of Man; both works made me want to pursue ethology or primatology for many years afterward. My fascination with gorillas went further back -- past the Donkey Kong game which I was pretty good at (if hardly King of Kong material) at least back to toddlerdom, when I carried around a wallet which contained, if memory serves, a picture of a glow-in-the-dark Aurora model of King Kong

 
 
 
GORILLAS IN THE WEST
 
 
Gorillas are the largest primates on earth. Their strength is estimated to be between six and fifteen times that of a human and they have rather large and intimidating canines. A silverback could, rest assured, easily best any human in hand-to-hand combat. Gorillas, however, are not at all blood thirsty. The occasional snack of ants is all that keeps them from being classifiable as vegans and they generally (and understandably) avoid encounters with humans. Reality, in this case, has traditionally had little bearing on the European imagination, though, and Western artists have frequently endowed the peaceful creatures with their own human feelings  composed -- as Charles Baudelaire said -- partly of terror and partly of priapic curiosity.
 

MENAGERIES AND FANTASIES

Grand Tour of the Northeast and Quebec -- a snapshot of Philadelphia

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 2, 2014 09:11pm | Post a Comment
Eric Brightwell in Elfreth's Alley
The author in Philadelphia (image courtesy Una Zipagan)

I recently visited Philadelphia for the first time as a stop on a sort of Grand Tour of the Northeast and Quebec, which I undertook following my sister's graduation from Princeton. To date, the only states that I haven't visited in the lower 48 are located along the East Coast... except for North Dakota. Even those East Coast states that I had previously visited are not states in which I've spent much time. I'd been to New Jersey just once, New York just once, and Miami a few times. I've also been informed by several Northeasterners that Miami does "not count." I respond with a quote from Posdnuous, “Characters have the tendency to con themselves/ To think the East Coast is only New York and Philadelph.”

Suspense - Radio's outstanding theater of thrills

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 23, 2014 01:36pm | Post a Comment
AND NOW, A TALE WELL CALCULATED TO KEEP YOU IN SUSPENSE
 
Lurene Tuttle (left) and Rosalind Russell in "The Sisters" (9 December, 1948)
Lurene Tuttle (left) and Rosalind Russell in "The Sisters" (9 December, 1948)

On 17 June, 1942, the anthology Suspense debuted on CBS Radio. The long-running series, which anticipated television programs like Alfred Hitchcock Presents and The Twilight Zone, concluded in 1962, an occasion now usually cited as signalling the end of radio's Golden Age.

The formula of Suspense was similar to that of another excellent anthology of the day, The Whistler. In most episodes a crime occurs shortly after the program begins. Suspense is heightened as the drama unfolds. In the end justice prevails and the program concludes. Suspense succeeds where lesser anthologies often failed through good production, usually-taut writing, and the presence of some of the biggest names in Hollywood including giants like Bela Lugosi, Cary Grant, Charles Laughton, Henry Fonda, Humphrey Bogart, Joan CrawfordJohn Garfield, Judy Garland, Lana Turner, Lena Horne, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Paul Muni, Peter Lorre, among others -- who were often cast against type (especially in the case of actors mostly thought of as comedians like Jack BennyLucille Ball, and Red Skelton). 

A map and snapshot of Los Angeles

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 17, 2014 01:26pm | Post a Comment
Los Angeles County map of neighborhoods and communities
Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's hand-painted map of Los Angeles County communities and neighborhoods

Yesterday I finished painting a large map of Los Angeles County. On it I attempted to depict every Los Angeles County community and every Los Angeles neighborhood. It was also important to me to include the two Channel Islands that are part of Los Angeles and to depict them where they actually are in relation to the rest of the county (and not shrunken and stuffed into a box in the corner -- a fate with which Hawaii and Alaska are intimately familiar). 

I first started writing about exploring Los Angeles neighborhoods in October 2007. I began writing about Los Angeles County communities a month later. I expanded to Orange County in 2010, in defiance of ignorant protestations based on stereotypes which, as with those leveled against Los Angeles, have a increasingly little resemblance to reality. I tagged all of my pieces California Fool's Gold in homage to the late, great Huell Howser, a fellow immigrant from the Upper South and explorer of the real California. I'd love to be able to map and explore other countries, cities, and neighborhoods too though and there is literally nowhere that I won't go. Have easel, will travel.

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