Monday, August 31, 2009

Ellie Greenwich: 1940-2009

Yesterday morning while watching This Week with George Stephanopoulos, I learned that singer/songwriter Ellie Greenwich passed away on August 26th at the age of 68.  She had been admitted to a New York hospital a few days earlier for treatment of pneumonia and suffered a fatal heart attack.

If you don't recognize Ellie's name or face, I have no doubt that you know her music because she was one of the most prolific songwriters of the 1960s.  Below is a short list of tunes that she penned with her then husband Jeff Barry:

Be My Baby and Baby, I Love You by The Ronettes
Da Doo Ron Ron and Then He Kissed Me by The Crystals
Hanky Panky by Tommy James & the Shondells
Do Wah Diddy Diddy by Manfred Mann
Leader of the Pack by The Shangri-Las
Chapel of Love by The Dixie Cups
River Deep, Mountain High by Ike & Tina Turner (the above two written with Phil Spector)

In addition to her songwriting,  Greenwich also stepped behind the mike, recording under her own name, with Jeff Barry as the duo The Raindrops (a one-hit wonder with the 1963 tune The Kind of Boy You Can't Forget and the performers of the original version of Hanky Panky), and as a backup singer for such artists as Bobby Darin, Frank Sinatra, and Dusty Springfield.  She also was responsible for discovering a young singer/songwriter named Neil Diamond (producing and singing backup vocals on some of his early hits).

Ellie was also the subject and co-star of the long-running musical revue Leader of the Pack, which premiered in 1984 and later was nominated for a Tony (for Best Musical and a Grammy (for Best Cast Show Album).  In 1991, she was inducted (along with former husband and partner Jeff Barry) into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. 

Below is Ellie's recording of a song that she wrote which was made famous by The Beach Boys and The Ronettes, I Can Hear Music.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Summary of The Dark Knight

A few weeks ago, I conducted a poll asking readers to select a movie for me to watch that I hadn't yet seen.  The Dark Knight won in a landslide and as a result, I watched it shortly thereafter.  Here is my review:
  • Heath Ledger was absolutely terrifying as The Joker.  I was practically on the edge of my couch wondering what that psychotic S.O.B. would do next.  I have no doubt that Ledger's performance will go down as one of the all-time greatest.  It's a shame that he didn't live to see its success. 
  • Christian Bale was once again smooth as hell as Bruce Wayne and  formidable as Batman.  
  • Aaron Eckhart was a  revelation as D.A. Harvey Dent/Two-Face.  As a matter of fact, I think he was good enough for at least an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor.
  •  I really got into the relationship dynamic that Bruce Wayne shares with his butler/advisor Alfred (Michael Caine) and CEO of Wayne Enterprises Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). I'm looking forward to seeing how those relationships get explored in the future.
  • When Tiny Lister showed up near the end as one of the convicts, I knew his role was going to be pivotal.  Even though Tiny's screen time was minimal,  it was one of the most memorable parts of the movie.
  • Although Margot Kidder still holds the title of the "Least Hottest Love Interest of a Big Screen Superhero", Maggie Gyllenhaal isn't far behind in her role as Asst. District Attorney Rachel Dawes. Maggie is one of those women who's hard to categorize on the Hotness Meter.  Although she's not hot, she isn't ugly either. Having said that, I thought it was a bit of a stretch to believe that two of the most powerful men in Gotham City would be fighting over her.  
My rating of The Dark Knight: 8.5 out of 10.  Although the action scenes are the main selling points of big budget blockbusters, I am glad that the makers of the Batman films haven't sacrificed character development and good dialogue. Who knows, I may actually make an effort to see the proposed third film if and when it hits theaters. 

This past Thursday, I finally got around to seeing another popular movie for the first time. I will be writing about that soon so stay tuned.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 8/28/09

7 pm hour

It Takes Two- Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock
Shake Some Action- Cracker
I Wanna Be With You- The Raspberries
Chevy Van- Sammy Johns
Swoop- The Dazz Band
Thieves In the Temple- Prince
Jam- Michael Jackson

Double Retro segment:
I Want Candy- Bow Wow Wow (1982)
I Want Candy- The Strangeloves (1965)

The Glow of Love- Change
Free Your Mind- En Vogue
She's Strange- Cameo
Footstompin' Music- Grand Funk Railroad

8 pm hour

Wild Wild Life- Talking Heads
Science Friction- XTC
Lady Marmalade- Labelle
It's All About the Benjamins- Puff Daddy & the Family
Paying the Price of Love- The Bee Gees
I Want To Be Your Man- Roger
It's A Miracle- Culture Club
Happy People- The Temptations

The Guilty Pleasure of the Week:
That's Rock & Roll- Shaun Cassidy

You Learn- Alanis Morissette
Pass the Dutchie- Musical Youth
The Hustle- Van McCoy
Jumping Someone Else's Train- The Cure
Head On- The Jesus & Mary Chain
Remedy- The Black Crowes

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: It's A Miracle by Culture Club

Monday, August 24, 2009

Final Results of the John Hughes Poll

With just over 1/3 of the vote, the "Citizen Kane of teen flicks" (The Breakfast Club) came in 1st in the recent poll where I asked you to choose your favorite John Hughes film.

Although that came as no surprise to me, there were a couple of things that did catch me off guard. The first was the fact that the John Hughes-penned Some Kind of Wonderful (starring Eric Stolz, Lea Thompson, and Mary Stuart Masterson) tossed up a goose egg in the poll. As I think about it, Some Kind doesn't seem to get much mention when people talk about teen films of the 80s. Although not great, I think it was a solid effort with a few twists that made it "not another teen movie".

The other surprise for me was that John Hughes' first directorial attempt at adult-oriented fare (Planes, Trains & Automobiles) only received 1 vote. Although it wasn't what we'd come to expect from John Hughes, I think it's one of his best movies and features one of the great onscreen odd couples in Steve Martin & John Candy. Plus, how can you deny Candy swerving all over the freeway late at night as he jams to Ray Charles' Mess Around?

Here are the final results of the poll:

The Breakfast Club- 34%
Ferris Bueller's Day Off- 23%
Sixteen Candles- 19%
Uncle Buck- 15%
Pretty In Pink- 11%
Home Alone- 7%
Weird Science- 3%
Planes, Trains & Automobiles and She's Having A Baby- 1%
Some Kind of Wonderful and "Other"- 0%

Saturday, August 22, 2009

The Retro Mix Playlist For 8/21/09

On this week's show, I was joined in the studio by my niece Pjazzy. She also had a hand in selecting some of the artists featured (such as Heart, the ones included in the "Common Thread"segment, Bonnie Raitt, and Teena Marie) and we discussed why she chose them. Although she had never been on the radio before, she did an excellent job. We had a ball co-hosting and the two hours flew by even faster than normal. I'm looking forward to the next time Pjazzy comes to town so that she can sit in with me again on my show.

7 pm hour

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)- Eurythmics
Theme of Foxy Brown- Willie Hutch
Hollywood Swinging- Kool & the Gang
Future Love Paradise- Seal
Crazy On You- Heart
Galaxie- Blind Melon
It's My Life- Talk Talk

Common Thread segment: Singers who got their start as drummers (in parentheses is the group who they played drums for)

Only Human- Jeffrey Osborne (L.T.D.)
Serpentine Fire- Earth, Wind, and Fire (lead vocalist Maurice White was the drummer for The Ramsey Lewis Trio)
I Don't Love You Anymore- Teddy Pendergrass (Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes)

Thing Called Love- Bonnie Raitt
Glory Days- Bruce Springsteen
Ride In the Sky- The Brand New Heavies

8 pm hour

Poison Arrow- ABC
Disco Nights (Rock Freak)- GQ
Sara Smile- Hall & Oates
You Can Do It- No Doubt
Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin'- Journey
Hearts- Marty Balin
The Model- Kraftwerk

Now & Then segment's fea. artist: Teena Marie
Can't Last A Day (feat. Faith Evans; from Teena's 2009 CD Congo Square)
I Need Your Lovin' (1980)

Come Give Your Love To Me- Janet Jackson
Look Into Your Heart- Aretha Franklin
Hurts So Good- Millie Jackson
That Lady- The Isley Brothers
Rock of Ages- Def Leppard

The Retro Mix Video of the Week: Hearts by Marty Balin

Friday, August 14, 2009

Top 5 On Friday: From the Music Section of My Bookshelf

Top 5 On Friday Week 235:

Top 5 Rock Bios that you want to read or have read (or a combination of both)

If you're a blogger and would like to join in on the Top 5 on Friday, please click here. If you don't have a blog but would still like to participate, feel free to list your Top 5 rock bios in the comments section of this post.

1. Dodd Darin- Dream Lovers: The Magnificent Shattered Lives of Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee

2. Mary Wilson- Dreamgirl: My Life As A Supreme

3. Micky Dolenz- I'm A Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music, and Madness

4. Little Richard- The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock

5. Peter Brown & Steven Gaines- The Love You Make: An Insider's Story of The Beatles

The books above are all ones that I've read. However, there are many music bios (too numerous to mention) that I'd like to read someday.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Mount Rushmore: Fictional Villains

For the 3rd installment of my periodic series in which I select who/what I think are the 4 ultimate in a given category, I'm focusing on fictional villains. To me, the four characters below represent the vertex of villainy.

Darth Vader

Hannibal Lecter

J.R. Ewing

The Wicked Witch of the West

What four fictional characters would you put on your Mount Rushmore of villains?

Sunday, August 9, 2009

FInal Results of the Recent Michael Vick Poll

By a very slim margin, 51% of you felt that Michael Vick deserves a second chance to play in the NFL. As of now, Vick hasn't met with or held serious negotiations with any NFL team. However, it's been reported that some teams have expressed an interest in signing him.

Here are the final results:

Yes- 51%
No- 48%

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Current John Hughes Poll... Thank You

The Retro Mix Playlist For 8/7/09

7 pm hour

Hurts So Good- John Cougar
Harvest For the World- The Isley Brothers
One Nation Under A Groove- Funkadelic
Tarzan Boy- Baltimora
I See- Letters To Cleo
Keep the Fire Burning- REO Speedwagon
(Every Time I Turn Around) Back In Love Again- L.T.D.

With or Without You segment's featured artist: Christine McVie
Love In Store- Fleetwood Mac
Love Will Show Us How- solo

Knockin' Boots- Candyman
Cumbersome- Seven Mary Three
Gone Daddy Gone- The Violent Femmes
Don't Do Me Like That- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
Mr. Welfare Man- Gladys Knight & the Pips

8 pm hour

We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off- Jermaine Stewart
Make That Move- Shalamar
Do It Again- Steely Dan
I Feel You- Depeche Mode
Crazy Horses- The Osmonds
Workin' Together- Maze feat. Frankie Beverly

Common Thread segment: songs from John Hughes films
Oh Yeah- Yello (from Ferris Bueller's Day Off)
If You Leave- OMD (from Pretty In Pink)
Weird Science- Oingo Boingo
Don't You Forget About Me- Simple Minds (from The Breakfast Club)

Flex- Mad Cobra
Could You Be Loved- Bob Marley
I Hate Myself For Loving You- Joan Jett

The Retro Mix Video of the Week- Crazy Horses by The Osmonds

Friday, August 7, 2009

Please Take A Moment To Vote In the Current Michael Vick Poll... Thank You.

As you may know, former Atlanta Falcons QB Michael Vick has been given a conditional reinstatement by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to play in the league again. For more on the story, please click here.

If I was participating in the poll, I would say that Michael Vick does deserve a second chance. Although what he did was wrong, he's served his time and should be allowed the opportunity to play in the NFL again. Having said that, I am keen to hear your opinions on this story.

Update: As of Wednesday July 29th at 1:02 am, the votes are evenly split (3 to 3). I noticed that the 3 who voted "No" chose not to share their opinions in the comments section. If you feel that Michael Vick doesn't deserve a second chance, please don't let the fact that I disagree stop you from sharing your thought in the comments section of this post.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Director John Hughes Dies At 59

I was shocked to learn this evening that director and Lansing, MI native John Hughes died in New York at the age of 59 of a heart attack. I don't think any other director is more closely tied to 80s cinema than John. If you were to make a Mount Rushmore of 80s teen movies and chose Sixteen Candles, The Breakfast Club, Pretty In Pink, and Ferris Bueller's Day Off, you wouldn't hear a lot of boos and hisses from the bleachers. If it wasn't for John, I never would have heard the term "neo maxi zoom dweebie" or witness a pre-nose job Jennifer Grey deliver a swift ass-kicking to Jeffrey Jones.

Even though he was the Orson Welles of teen movies, he veered away from the Clearasil set and made the hilarious road comedy Planes, Trains, and Automobiles with Steve Martin and John Candy. Since I couldn't find the "Mess Around" scene from Planes, Trains..., here's another clip from the movie that puts my stomach muscles to work. Lesson: If somebody's yelling out you that you are driving on the wrong side of the road, you damn well better listen.

R.I.P. John

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

TCM's Annual "Summer Under the Stars" Marathon

On Saturday August 1st, TCM kicked off its annual "Summer Under the Stars" festival. For the whole month, TCM will devote an entire day to a single performer, screening movies and specials pertaining to the star. This is a great way to either revisit an old favorite or discover the work of a star you don't know much about. Below are some of the stars that TCM will be featuring this month, along with a few of the movies that will be aired during their day.

Tuesday August 4th- James Coburn (Hell Is For Heroes, Hard Times, and Harry In Your Pocket)

Saturday August 8th- Bette Davis (Now Voyager, The Man Who Came Do Dinner, and In This Our Life)

Sunday August 9th- Cary Grant (Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, Notorious, and Mr. Lucky)

Thursday August 13th- Gloria Grahame (Crossfire, Macao, and The Bad and the Beautiful)

Friday August 14th- Sidney Poitier (Pressure Point, A Raisin In the Sun, and Brother John)

Sunday August 16th- Elvis Presley (Jailhouse Rock, King Creole, and Roustabout)

Wednesday August 19th- Red Skelton (The Show-Off, The Fuller Brush Man, and The Clown)

Saturday August 22nd- Sterling Hayden (Johnny Guitar, The Asphalt Jungle, and Manhandled)

Sunday August 23rd- Angela Lansbury (The Manchurian Candidate, Bedknobs and Broomsticks, and The Picture of Dorian Gray)

Thursday August 27th- Ida Lupino (Out of the Fog, They Drive By Night, and The Hard Way)

Saturday August 29th- Peter Sellers (The Mouse That Roared, Murder By Death, and There's A Girl In My Soup)

For a complete schedule of what TCM will be airing during its "Summer Under the Stars" marathon, please click here.
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