Amoeblog

Glam & Glitter Christmas

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 24, 2008 10:15am | Post a Comment

 

I'm not
sure what it is about Glam Rock and Christmas but I've always appreciated how many contributions to the Christmas song canon have big drums, fuzzy sax and '50s via the '70s Yuletide vibes.


My vote for the best Glam Rock Christmas song goes, hands down, to Slade with their never-tiresome-no-matter-how-many-times-you-hear-it classic, the misspelling free "Merry Xmas everybody."



 

Sadly, there's no proper footage of T. Rex's "Christmas bop" but you can just imagine Marc and Gloria Jones frolicking in the... snow.


 

No doubt eager to cash in on the success of Wizzard and Slade's Christmas successes, the less-inspired but still enjoyable Mud give us this Showaddywaddy-esque version of "Lonely this Christmas."



Even before Gary Glitter got himself in all sorts of inexcusable scandals, he was always extremely creepy with his blink-punctuated stare and heaving and hoing hairy barrel chest. But what's been forgotten by many is that the Glitter Band were an ace band. Check out "Another Rock 'n' Roll Christmas" for further proof.



Here's Marc Bolan, again with the Christmas music, this time in Elvis (or Mud) fashion.



Who's that at the door? Oh, it's that leper messiah, Ziggy Stardust! Come in and, I don't know, let's sing 'Little Drummer Boy,' yeah?"



T. Rex again. This time with a fried sounding Christmas number sort of in the Space Rock vein.


 
Wizzard with "I wish it could be Christmas everyday." I like that Roy Wood opted for a Father Frost look, and not Santa... but making that kid kiss him on the cheek probably scarred 'em deep.


Yeah, so Marc Bolan was Jewish. But here he is again, the biggest champion of T. Rexmas.


And then there's this! Embedding was disabled by request, although I doubt many people want to put this absolute monstrosity on their blogs. I got all Nicholas Cage in 8mm as a bunch of artists (is this ever a good idea) got together to turn one of Lou Reed's best songs into a bloated, horrific black hole where no real emotions can escape. And there are several Glam rockers on board. Watch at your own risk!!!

Ch-ch-changes: thoughts on music, election Day '08

Posted by Kells, November 8, 2008 01:19pm | Post a Comment

Tuesday was tough. I woke up early, voted without having to wait in line (my polling place has always been quiet) and spent the bulk of the day thereafter feeling like I had been physically rendered into ragged shreds of mixed emotions that mainly resembled a patchwork of grief. Being confined to the registers at work, restless, while polls across the country closed at their designated times, the ague that wracked my body and mind increased as the day sank heavily into night. On my dinner break things started looking up; I spent the hour with a politically like-minded coworker (and dear friend) at a local sports bar so decorated with festive balloons, streamers and flat-screen televisions that the effort needed to focus on what might really constitute "news" distracted my mind away from any results I didn't want to see, but nevertheless felt somewhat prepared to receive. When it was projected that my home state of Virginia was going to "go red," as red as a Virginia cardinal, my nerves slackened into an uncomfortable numbness.

Given the option to leave work early, I fled and hopped a bus to meet up with some friends at a bar I'd never been to or heard of. Trying to find a place unknown on such a night was absolutely frustrating and just when I was knitting my brow in consternation, bent over my cellphone feverishly texting queries to inebriated friends, a girl at the front of the bus began to squeal like a steam leak. Suddenly strangers were hugging, kissing and high-fiving me, dancing and falling all over each other on a crowded, careening Haight street bus with a horn-happy driver at the wheel. Images alike to those photos taken during the block parties that erupted at the end of World War II flashed to life in front of me and, maybe for the first time in my life, I felt the news. Everyone here would remember this night, the night the streets of San Francisco went wild for Barack Obama's victory and the end of eight years of  George W. Bush.

Later at the bar I learned from some fellow Virginians that my home state had, in the end, gone blue (!) and that, duh, Illinois senator Barack Obama had indeed won the presidential race. I sipped at my freshly drawn pint, feeling like a crumpled ball of unraveling strain while tears welled and fell freely over smiling cheeks on so many faces in the place. More hugs, kisses and high-fives were exchanged by all. After the silence that settled the rowdy throng of patrons during Obama's speech had lifted, the first thing my friends and I discussed, naturally, was music, or more specifically, the absence of it. We had noticed that the celebration for Obama in Chicago did not include any specific song, as in a campaign song or a victory song. Though plenty of chants were taken up by the exuberant crowd, no song nor soundtrack enhanced the event save for a sort of generic theme composed of sweeping yet soothing symphonic, vaguely patriotic sounding string-scapes that served to bookend the commercial breaks. Lame. Granted, no song need follow such a punctuating speech, a speech so signifying the end of weeks of high tension and sleeplessness for many Americans regardless of their respective preferred candidates. Nevertheless, for me and my friends, the absence of a song, any song, the song was sorely felt.

This musical missing piece turned our discussion from the recent used (some would say abused) campaign songs (like Obama's "Better Way" by Ben Harper and "Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours" by Stevie Wonder and John McCain's choice of "Take A Chance On Me" by ABBA after John Mellencamp asked the McCain camp to stop using his song "Our Country") to our infinite possible suggestions for songs that for whatever reason were not used by the candidates. My immediate go-to song choice for Obama would have been David Bowie's "Changes," but then a mental run down of the lyrics the comprise the meat of the song had me searching for something more appropriate. Maybe the Pointer Sisters' "Yes We Can Can" would be a better fit, as it goes right along with the repetitive phrasing of Obama's landmark speech, but maybe a little too down tempo to inspire fist pumping, or bumping...you know, victory daps. For McCain, who is just about the same age as my Dad, I gravitate towards songs I tend to associate with my Dad's taste in music. For example, my Dad really likes Kenny Rogers so why not play "The Gambler" at McCain rallies? It carries almost the same message as Abba's "Take A Chance On Me" besides the fact that it sounds a helluva lot better and strikes a chord with card players across America -- and that's basically everyone. A friend of mine in Michigan suggested that maybe "Money" by Pink Floyd might've been a good one to throw in the mix given our current economic conundrum as well as Li'l Kim's "Can't F*ck With Queen Bee" for Sarah "Barracuda" Palin. I know it's too late for such suggestions, but it's fun to play.
And speaking of Sarah Barracuda, anyone catch that song played at the close of the Republican National Convention a while back? Heart's 1977 hit "Barracuda" pounded over the loud speakers and into a mess of trouble, causing Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson to issue a statement condemning the use of their song along with the addition of a cease-and-desist notice sent from Universal Music Publishing and sony BMG. The ladies' statement read:

"Sarah Palin's views and values in NO WAY represent us as American women. We ask that our song 'Barracuda' no longer be used to promote her image. The song 'Barracuda' was written in the late 70's as a scathing rant against the soulless, corporate nature of the music business, particularly for women. (The 'barracuda' represented the business.) While Heart did not and would not authorize the use of their song at the RNC, there's irony in Republican strategists' choice to make use of it there."

And I always thought the song was about burning witches or something like the Salem witch trials -- a somewhat fitting theme for Palin depending on your political point of view. Though the song was meant to refer to Palin's nickname earned during her high school years for being skilled at basketball, really, could there be any better song than one that states, "if the real thing don't do the trick/better make up something quick?" I think not, especially now that everything's said and done and Palin critics have grown increasingly pointed in their harsh remarks and egregious commentary.

One friend of mine mentioned at Tuesday night's election party that if any musical genre stand to lose from Obama's victory it has to be punk rock. Of course punk thrives on political gaffs, governmental abuse of power, and war, war, war but, let's face it, it also thrives on bad fashion, general malaise, apathetic grimaces and beer, beer, beer. I agree that American punkers might have a more difficult time gnashing their teeth at Obama than they've had with Bush, but there is enough decay, injustice and tyranny in the world yet to provide for at least a dozen other punk bands as good as, say, The Subhumans, who once asked their liberty-hawked bretheren, "are you prepared to die for your beliefs or just to dye your hair?" Punk's not going anywhere, but maybe reggae is, thanks to Obama supporter Papa Michigan:


Has the problematic playlist for the historic McCain/Palin campaign been pushed aside to make way for a new wave of upbeat, Obama-centric dance mixes? Part of me hopes not because I personally like to keep my politics and my kinetics separate. That song sure is catchy though and other Obama inspired tracks are soon to follow in the footsteps of artists like Papa Michigan and Will.I.Am, who is ready to release his third song about Obama which sounds like it'll be titled "It's A New Day." One can only hope that the political changes that occur within next four years will have minimal effect on the music industry not to mention the overall quality of music made during the impending Obama administration (read Brad Schelden's Amoeblog for his take on this issue). I, for one, am hopeful and look forward to seeing what form the next four years will take musically and politically. Like Bowie says, "Turn and face the strain/Ch-ch-changes/don't wanna be a richer man...I'm gonna have to be a different man," nice words from a man who once penned a song called "I'm Afraid of Americans." It would seem that many Americans are afraid of Americans these days despite what any English musician like Bowie or Morrissey might say. No matter, our differences, however vast, are united through the music we make as we are, all of us, beings who express themselves via sound, song and music-making. That's a simple fact that puts us right out there in the wild we came from with the howling wolves, the singing whales and the sonic mimicry of the Australian Lyre bird (the ultimate rip-off artist). That said, given all this talk of politics and music, no misappropriation of song use is worse than the absence of joyful music at an event that clearly called for it. And thanks to that oversight I've got "Changes" in my head again.

S-s-s-s-s-soundtrack of sh-sh-sh-shame

Posted by Job O Brother, February 5, 2008 11:55am | Post a Comment
I thought it would be difficult to find songs I was ashamed to love. Fact is, it’s much more challenging to keep my attention span with this series, so, I’m going to wrap this “soundtrack of shame” up with a grand finale. Cringe with compassion.

LITTLE RIVER BAND “Reminiscing”

Little River Band had a gift for recording songs that would one day become a staple of grocery stores’ piped-in music. It might surprise you to know they had 13 American, Top 40 hits, despite the fact that their “sound” is akin to a waiting room lobby in a retirement home.

This song got a lot of radio play in Hawaii when I was growing up there – learning how to body surf and not learning my times-tables – so I associate it with childhood and a dark, iced tea that you could always buy at Kailua Beach.

This video is a perfect example of what “boring” means. I mean, even the lead singer brought a book to read during the bridges! I was surprised to see a 30-something-year-old Cousin Oliver as part of the band.



MARY COSTA “Once Upon a Dream”


I think animated Disney films are pretty swell, provided they were actually produced by Walt Disney himself (the last of which was “The Jungle Book”). Something happened in the 1970’s when the Don Bluth posse was still working at Disney – something gross feeling. I’m not saying Bluth is a bad man, but (with the exception of “The Secret of NIMH”) every movie he worked on, post-Walt, makes me crazy. And not crazy in a rad, Spuds Mackenzie way. Crazy in a “Christina, bring me the axe!” sort of way.

My favorite Disney film is “Sleeping Beauty”. The animation – based on Medieval illustrations, and thusly more stylized than any film Disney had made before, is gorgeous. The choice of colors – mostly cool and brilliant – are spooky, which is always a compliment coming from me. It’s also the last Disney film to have cells that were inked entirely by hand, which I much prefer to the computer-generated creations of today. Also, I defy you to find a better villain in an animated film than Maleficent. She rocks. She rocks so hard.

Doesn’t sound like I’m ashamed of this film, does it? For the most part, I’m not. Until this happens…


This song (with music based on the ballet “Sleeping Beauty” by Tchaikovsky) makes me all knobby-kneed. I think it’s romantic. And it makes me wanna barf. Is there a word that means both those feelings at once? Someone let me know so I can use it next time I talk about this.

FRIDA LYNGSTAD “I Know There’s Something Going On”


Known by many as “not the blonde one” from ABBA, Frida (born Anni-Frid Synni Lyngstad) left the group (the closest thing Sweden’s had to a WMD) to pursue a solo career.

The result was “Something’s Going On”, her third solo album and biggest departure yet from ABBA’s sound (in interviews it’s mentioned that she wanted something akin to Pat Benetar). The album was produced by… uhh… urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr…

Sorry… getting woozy here…

…The album was produced by fuh fuh fuh… Phil Collins fkjdfhjlndlf knk fjklsdjlksjfsd, jhsg ueru 84urfj kfdkjgk dfgjc.gkdfjgk fjgslijtgshf hsdfui ghkjwh fjsdhfgjhs djhfgsfgu skfghsklhj kdgf789e y98fhieug hdrigiz dfhgkh jhhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhh hhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhh hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

Uh… ow… Sorry – blacked out and hit my head on the keyboard.

Anyway, the album was produced by… this one guy, who’s involvement is reason enough to feel ashamed for liking it.

While my favorite track from the record is a cryptic ballad called “Threnody”, only the title track has a video attached to it, so that’s what you’ll see here:


I’m guessing she acquired that hairstyle second-hand from David Bowie, who was no longer using it. Note, too, Frida’s apartment, which I assume she’s renting on Cloud City, Bespin.

PEACHES & HERB “Reunited”

Another childhood memory, not limited to this song: I came home one day to find my older sister, Jenny, sporting cornrows. For a five-year-old like me, this was discombobulating, and there was a moment when, at first, I wasn’t sure who she was. I don’t know if my facial expression had something to do with it, but Jenny didn’t have that hairstyle long.


Now, you’re old enough to know the truth: Peaches here (she’s the one wearing the silken Glad bag) is actually Linda Greene, who was the third of five incarnations of “Peaches” (six, if you count potty-mouthed, electroclash sensation, Merrill Beth Nisker). That’s right, my child, there were five Peaches.

See, when a Herb wants a hit single, he finds himself a Peaches and… well… go ask your father.

DOLLY PARTON “Here You Come Again”

I am a proud fan of Dolly’s early, country career, but once she began dabbling in that "pop sound" we kids are so fond of… well, I’m still a fan, but now I’m blushing.

This one is dedicated to Jaime Leftkovich, former Amoeba Music employee and full-time resident of my heart, who’s birthday it is today.


MILLA JOVOVICH “Gentleman Who Fell”

As I am bringing up the tail end of Generation X, I can love all these horrible songs and still retain some semblance of cool because there is a safe distance between now and when they were recorded. For example, all the hipsters today love mid-1980’s Madonna, but back then, admitting you “quite fancied ‘Papa Don’t Preach’” was enough to get your fag-tag yanked (or maybe it was just your use of the term “quite fancied”).

Therefore, this next song is probably the most dangerous one to admit loving, so far. It’s not that old (comparatively) and is sung by someone, not only still famous, but also famous for being a supermodel. (If you never hear from me again after this, you’ll know it was because my blogging privileges were revoked).


That about raps it up. I hope you’ve enjoyed this frivolous and self-absorbed series. Feel free to share any songs you love but dare not speak their name. You have the advantage of posting anonymously, after all. Cheers.

Postcards of My Vacation Back Home: "The natives are friendly. I'm pregnant."

Posted by Job O Brother, August 26, 2007 04:09pm | Post a Comment


The bar at The National Hotel. That's me in the denim shirt.

Originally, I thought this trip to NevadaCity would consist mainly of me giving my sweetheart the royal tour – showing him details, hidden mysteries and beauty that only a local knows, but the new and improved Film Festival proved to monopolize our schedule. Conveniently, the entire staff were the same people I would have tried to hang out with anyhow, so that was okay, but the only hidden mystery I got to expose Corey to was the dazzling amount of booze that an average NC townie can down in a day.

It’s historical.

Job & Orion

He did get to meet my family.

I can’t even begin to tell y’all about my family. Sufficed to say, it is eccentric. Like, I’m one of the normal ones, and I bark at UPS trucks and punch people for offering me a “slice of melon”. But, odd as they are, they’re also loving. Corey did just fine.

Continue reading...

Labyrinth Anniversary Edition

Posted by Brad Schelden, August 19, 2007 07:08pm | Post a Comment
It is hard to believe that it has been 20 years since the original release of "Labyrinth." This movie was one of my favorites at the time. It came out a couple of years after Time Bandits, The Neverending Story, and Dark Crystal. The same year as Legend. A year after Goonies, Back to the Future, and Teen Wolf. The year before Willow and The Princess Bride.  Like many of us, I was a big fan of the fantasy film as a child and teenager. To be honest, I guess I still am.  Many of these films, like Labyrinth, had a story within a story. It allowed the story to be believable as a dream or "fantasy" world. But also never really that scary since we knew it was just a story. It wasn't until I was a bit older when my love of fantasy films turned into my love of horror films.  I was also obsessed with Jim Henson and the Muppets. Jim Henson directed both The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. Labyrinth also starred David Bowie. This movie really had everything going for it. It was sort of impossible for it not to be as successful as it was. The movie made its way deep into our hearts and still remains there to this day. This week we get the release of the Anniversary editions of both Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal. Muppets Season 2 also comes out. It is a big week for Jim Henson fans.

I have been in the process of replacing all my VHS with new DVDs. But I always have to wait until the deluxe versions of the movies come out. I want all the special stuff that they add on to the DVDs. And while there is always something missing, these versions often convince me to buy them. The Anniversary Edition of Labyrinth is 2 discs. I guess they meant to put this out last year as the 20th anniversary. But 21 years is close enough. Last year was also the 70th anniversary of Jim Henson's birth.  The movie starred Jennifer Connelly as a young girl bored with babysitting. She imagines herself into the world of goblins and creatures and the evil leader "David Bowie." The film is brilliant. And with the work of Jim Henson the film was ahead of its time. The creature effects still hold up and end up looking better than any modern film such as The Lord of the Rings. And with David Bowie we get an amazing original soundtrack. The soundtrack included 5 original David Bowie songs. The songs were sort of cheesy at the time, so I don;t really think they have gotten any worse.  And they are an integral part of the movie. I still know all the words to "Magic Dance" and "Underground." I always try to imagine this movie with Michael Jackson in the Bowie role. I don't know if it could have been better, but it for sure would have been amazing.

 This deluxe version includes the original movie with a commentary by conceptual designer Brian Froud. Disc 2 includes the old documentary that you may have already seen on earlier versions. It is even on the end of the VHS copy that I have. But it also has some new documentaries with new interviews and never before seen footage. The film still looks beautiful. The great thing about this movie was how fun and imaginative it was. Jim Henson was simply a genius. The 80's were really a good time for kids films. The PG films of the 80's were so much more exciting and intriguing than the film of today. I am sure some kids of today would not agree. But it is really hard to compare High School Musical to Labyrinth.  I really do feel sad for the kids of today. Although I am sure many adults who grew up with films like Labyrinth are also making their kids watch these movies on DVD today.

As a kid or young teen in 1986 we had Labyrinth, Legend, Stand By Me, Ferris Bueller's Day  Off, Karate Kid II, Short Circuit, Lucas, Flight of the Navigator, Space Camp, and Pretty in Pink. In 2007 we get High School Musical 2, Harry Potter, Super Bad, Nancy Drew, The Last Mimzy, Bridge to Terabithia, Ratatouoille and Surf's Up. There are still a bunch of movies aimed at the tween market. But the quality has gone down and the stories have become so predictable. High School Musical became the most popular kids film and soundtrack of all time. While I am all for kids choosing drama over sports, the storyline is so simple and predictable. No imagination went into its creation and it doesn't help kids improve their imagination. I really can't imagine that when the fans of High School Musical grow up they will still look back fondly on these movies. Will they flock to midnight screenings of High School Musical or buy the deluxe versions that come out on DVD in 2027? I really don't think so. There will never be another Labyrinth again. Although I am sure that they will remake it some day. They are making a new version of The Dark Crystal and Goonies...

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