About Me

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I'm the co-host of THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl (Sunday nights, 9 to Midnight Eastern, www.westcottradio.org).  As a freelance writer, I contributed to Goldmine magazine from 1986-2006, wrote liner notes for Rhino Records' compilation CD Poptopia!  Power Pop Classics Of The '90s, and for releases by The Flashcubes, The Finkers, Screen Test, 1.4.5., and Jack "Penetrator" Lipton.  I contributed to the books Bubblegum Music Is The Naked Truth, Shake Some Action, Lost In The Grooves, and MusicHound Rock, and to DISCoveries, Amazing Heroes, The Comics Buyer's Guide, Yeah Yeah Yeah, Comics Collector, The Buffalo News, and The Syracuse New Times.  I also wrote the liner notes for the four THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO compilation CDs, because, well, who could stop me?  My standing offer to write liner notes for a Bay City Rollers compilation has remained criminally ignored.  Still intend to write and sell a Batman story someday.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Lights! Camera! REACTION! My Life At The Movies Sidebar: Justice League



I don't want to think very much about this right now; I just want to get my first impressions down as quickly as I can.

I saw the new Justice League movie Monday night, a few nights later than I originally planned. And I loved it, loved it so much more than I would have thought likely. It struck all the right chords, maintained an agreeable balance of action and humor, executed the character interplay that prevents this sort of thing from devolving into a two-hour video game, and just soared from start to finish with the ease of a beloved hero leaping over tall buildings in a single bound. I won't spoil any of it for those still wishing to see it. But I do have a few quick points:

Although Justice League is a sequel, it is most definitely not another Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice, a film which a lot of people despised. I was okay with BvS and its predecessor Man Of Steel, but I understand why so many seemed to hate them both; they were dark and somber, with far too little light, and far too eager to follow the tone of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and writer/artist Frank Miller's scowling epic The Dark Knight Returns. They weren't...fun.

Well, Justice League is fun. Yet it doesn't seem frothy. It takes itself seriously enough to lend gravitas, but not so seriously that it gets in its own way. For all the perceived faults of Man Of Steel and Batman V Superman, I don't think Justice League would be able to hit its heights without having those films as a foundation upon which to build something...grand. And it also wouldn't work if this year's superb Wonder Woman movie hadn't already begun the task of bringing all the threads together. (It does work best if we ignore Suicide Squad, though; God, that movie was terrible.)

"Terrible?" You're so negative!
Justice League's cast is magnificent. Much of the film's humor comes through Ezra Miller's portrayal of The Flash, but Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman is the center and the soul. I hope the rumors of Ben Affleck walking away from the Batman role prove false (or that positive reaction to Justice League prompts him to stay on anyway). Really, I hope everyone stays, but man--Gal Gadot? Warner Brothers should be falling over itself to accommodate whatever Gadot wants so she can continue as Wonder Woman for a long, long time. I'm impressed with how seamlessly the characters were introduced and integrated, and I'm eager to see more. As a bonus, those in charge of the DC Universe films have finally realized it's okay to copy the Marvel Universe's standard practice of including post-credits scenes. Justice League offers two separate scenes after the movie proper ends, beginning with a pure fun scene early in the credits, and a more plot-essential scene at the very, very end, after all credits have rolled. Stay in your seats until the screen goes blank, my friends.




If you hate superhero movies, this probably won't convert you. If you love superhero movies, Justice League is about as good as they get, nearly on a par with Wonder Woman. It has what you expect in the genre. Explosions! Super fight scenes! Cataclysmic threat! Petty squabbling among the good guys! It also has the one not-so-secret ingredient essential in making these flights of fancy sustain themselves: heart. Justice League believes in itself, and that inspires the audience to believe as well. To believe a man can fly. To believe that criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot. To believe that strength comes from love, and that love is strong enough to conquer hate. To believe in justice. To believe in hope.

I believe. I've believed since I was a kid, watching and reading Batman, and my occasional flirtations with cynicism have never come close to robbing me of my sense of wonder. Justice League is a tale of redemption and heroism, humans rising to be whatever best thing they can be as gods battle and cities crumble. There is one specific moment in the film where I almost teared up, as an emotional scene on the screen achieved a moving, affecting jolt of sentimental catharsis. There were many, many moments throughout the film that made me smile, blissful and content, as comic books came to life before my eyes. I went into this film with my expectations managed. It was so much better than I anticipated, so much better than its commercials and trailers made it seem. This is the stuff my dreams are made of.



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You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

Monday, November 20, 2017

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio # 898

"Super 6...? No! THE MAGNIFICENT SIX!
                               
                               
                               

THE MAGNIFICENT SIX! This week's edition of This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl belongs exclusively to six Featured Acts: The Easybeats, Cocktail Slippers, The Jam, The Spinners, The Clash, and Circe Link. The result is magic. It's simply what we do.

IN TWO WEEKS: THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO # 900!! This is what rock 'n' roll radio sounded like on a Sunday night in Syracuse this week.

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse on The Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/

Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at http://sparksyracuse.org/support/

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at 
https://carlcafarelli.blogspot.com/

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe FlashcubesChris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

TIRnRR # 898: THE MAGNIFICENT SIX! 11/19/17

THE EASYBEATS: Gonna Have A Good Time (Retroactive, Gonna Have A Good Time)
--
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: You Do Run (Wicked Cool, Saint Valentine's Day Massacre)
THE JAM: In The Midnight Hour (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
THE SPINNERS: It's A Shame (Motown, VA: Hitsville USA)
THE CLASH: I Fought The Law (Epic, The Clash)
CIRCE LINK: Stars And Stripes (circelink.com, Enchanted Objects & Ordinary Things)
THE EASYBEATS: Made My Bed (Gonna Lie In It) (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
--
THE JAM: The Eton Rifles (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
CIRCE LINK: Absolutely Yours (circelink.com, The Pop EP)
THE EASYBEATS: Say That You're Mine (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
THE SPINNERS: One Of A Kind (Love Affair) (Rhino, The Very Best Of The Spinners)
THE CLASH: London Calling (Epic, London Calling)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: Keeps On Dancing (Wicked Cool, People Talk)
--
THE SPINNERS: My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me) (Motown, The Best Of The Spinners)
THE EASYBEATS: Pretty Girl (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: Hold Me (MTG, Rock It!)
THE JAM: Smithers-Jones (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
CIRCE LINK: Black Balloons (circelink.com, Enchanted Objects & Ordinary Things)
THE CLASH: I'm So Bored With The USA (Epic, The Clash) 
--
THE EASYBEATS: For My Woman (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
THE SPINNERS: Ghetto Child (Rhino, The Very Best Of The Spinners)
THE CLASH: Gates Of The West (Epic, Clash On Broadway)
CIRCE LINK:  Random Act Of Kindness (circelink.com, California Kid)
THE JAM: David Watts (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: She's A Fool (Wicked Cool, Saint Valentine's Day Massacre)
--
CIRCE LINK: Yellow Dress (circelink.com, Enchanted Objects & Ordinary Things)
THE CLASH: Police On My Back (Epic, Clash On Broadway)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: Starlet Cole (Wicked Cool, Mastermind)
THE EASYBEATS: She's So Fine (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
THE SPINNERS: Could It Be I'm Falling In Love (Rhino, The Very Best Of The Spinners)
THE JAM: Down In The Tube Station At Midnight (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
--
THE CLASH: Lost In The Supermarket (Epic, London Calling)
THE SPINNERS: Mighty Love - Pt. 1 (Rhino, The Very Best Of The Spinners)
THE JAM: Going Underground (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: Soul Salvation Of Love (Wicked Cool. People Talk)
THE EASYBEATS: Bring A Little Lovin' (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
CIRCE LINK: The Kindness Of Strangers (circelink.com, Bird's Amazing Odyssey & The Meaning Of Tea)
--
THE SPINNERS: The Rubberband Man (Rhino, The Very Best Of The Spinners)
THE JAM: Move On Up (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: Oh Boy (MTG, Rock It!)
THE CLASH: Brand New Cadillac (Epic, Clash On Broadway)
CIRCE LINK: Any Other Day (circelink.com, The Pop EP)
THE EASYBEATS: Sorry (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
--
THE JAM: The Modern World (Polydor, This Is The Modern World)
CIRCE LINK & CHRISTIAN NESMITH: I'm On Your Side (Kool Kat Musik, VA: This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4)
THE CLASH: Train In Vain (Epic, The Essential Clash)
THE SPINNERS: I'll Be Around (Rhino, The Very Best Of The Spinners)
THE EASYBEATS: Friday On My Mind (Albert, Absolute Anthology)
COCKTAIL SLIPPERS: St. Valentine's Day Massacre (Wicked Cool, Saint Valentine's Day Massacre)
THE JAM: All Mod Cons (Polydor, Direction Reaction Creation)
CIRCE LINK: Circe's Swing (circelink.com, Dumb Luck)

This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio Featured Artists [updated list]

Once again, it's time to bump this up in the ol' blog queue. Here is an updated list of Featured Artists on This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio



This is a (presumably) complete list of all performers that have ever been a Featured Artist on THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO with Dana & Carl. When we have a Featured Artist, that artist is played at least once per set in that week's show, which generally means a minimum of eight or nine tracks in a three-hour show (and often more than that). Our first Featured Artist was The Kinks, who remain the only act to ever take over an entire episode of TIRnRR; in fact, we have now done TWO all-Kinks shows. This list will continue to expand as we program more Featured Acts on future shows.

TIRnRR FEATURED ARTISTS:

Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass
The Animals
The Archies
Paul Armstrong
The Bangles
Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd
Jim Basnight
The Bay City Rollers [2 times]
The Beach Boys
The Beatles [3 times]
Chuck Berry
The Bevis Frond
Big Star
Joe Bompczyk
David Bowie
Glen Campbell
The Catholic Girls
Alex Chilton
The Dave Clark Five [3 times]
The Clash
Gene Clark/The Byrds
Cocktail Slippers
Paul Collins
Cotton Mather
The Creation
Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich
Devo
The Dickies
Fats Domino
The Dukes of Stratosphear
The Easybeats
The Equals
The Everly Brothers
The Flamin' Groovies
The Flashcubes [7 times]
The Fleshtones
Gary Frenay
The Bobby Fuller Four
Game Theory
Go Home Productions
The Go-Go's
Lesley Gore
Rachael Gordon
The Grip Weeds [2 times]
George Harrison [3 times]
Herman's Hermits
John Hiatt
The Hollies
The Hoodoo Gurus
The Isley Brothers
Joe Jackson [2 times]
The Jam
Jefferson Airplane
The Jellybricks
Joan Jett
Davy Jones
The Kinks [3 times]
KISS [3 times]
The Knack [2 times]
The Knickerbockers
Arthur Lee/Love [2 times]
John Lennon [5 times]
Circe Link
Nick Lowe
Lyres
Mad Monster Party
The Marlowes
Adam Marsland/Cockeyed Ghost
Norm Mattice [1.4.5./The Richards/Dress Code]
Paul McCartney [4 times]
The Monkees [8 times]
Michael Nesmith
The Pandoras
The Pengwins
Pezband
Wilson Pickett
Gene Pitney
Pop Co-Op
The Poptarts
The Pretenders
Prince
The Ramones
The Raspberries
Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground
Paul Revere & the Raiders
The Rolling Stones
The Romantics
The Rubinoos
The Runaways
Kelley Ryan/astroPuppees
Screen Test
The Searchers
The Sex Pistols
The Shocking Blue
Shoes
The Small Faces
The Smithereens
Squeeze [2 times]
The Spinners
The Spongetones
Ringo Starr
Sweet
Johnny Thunders
Peter Tork
The Tragically Hip
The Trend
The Turtles
The Dwight Twilley Band
Chris von Sneidern
Mary Weiss/The Shangri-Las
Lou Whitney/The Skeletons/The Morells
The Who
John Wicks/The Records
X-Ray Spex [2 times]
XTC
The Zombies [2 times]

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 



This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio with Dana & Carl, Sunday nights from 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse on The Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7, and on the web at http://sparksyracuse.org/

Spark Syracuse is supported by listeners like you. Tax-deductible donations are welcome at http://sparksyracuse.org/support/

You can follow Carl's daily blog Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) at 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe FlashcubesChris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Tonight On THIS IS ROCK 'N' ROLL RADIO




THE MAGNIFICENT SIX! Tonight's adventure in The Best Three Hours Of Radio On The Whole Friggin' Planet will be devoted exclusively to the music of six Featured Artists: The Easybeats, Cocktail Slippers, The Jam, The Spinners, The Clash, and Circe Link. Has radio let you down in the past. Don't worry! THE MAGNIFICENT SIX will save you! Sunday night, 9 to Midnight Eastern, on the air in Syracuse at Spark WSPJ-LP 103.3 and 93.7 FM, and on the web at www.sparksyracuse.org





Saturday, November 18, 2017

1963-1973

I was asked to prepare a four-hour party playlist of music from 1963 to 1973. It's not supposed to be definitive, it is in no way scholarly, and it omits The Monkees, so it's not even the perfect playlist for me. But I like it. It serves its purpose, and it's worth sharing here.

Congratulations to my cousin Albert Pallone--the single most Italian-American person I've ever met--on his induction today into The Urban Sports Hall Of Fame Of Syracuse, NY. This was a great day with family, and that's always a good thing. Mazel tov, Alberto!



SOLOMON BURKE: Everybody Needs Somebody To Love
THE YOUNG RASCALS: Good Lovin'
THE O'JAYS: Love Train
STEVIE WONDER: Superstition
THE BEATLES: Ticket To Ride
GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS: Midnight Train To Georgia
THE FOUR SEASONS: Walk Like A Man
JOHNNY NASH: I Can See Clearly Now
BLACK SABBATH: Paranoid
SMOKEY ROBINSON & THE MIRACLES: The Tears Of A Clown
THE ANIMALS: It's My Life
EYDIE GORME: Blame It On The Bossa Nova
ALBERT PALLONE & THE BACKSTAGE FIVE: (I've Got The) Boogie Woogie Woogie
THE KINKS: You Really Got Me
BADFINGER: Baby Blue
BILL WITHERS: Lean On Me
THE DOORS: Break On Through
CAROLE KING: I Feel The Earth Move
ALICE COOPER: School's Out
ARETHA FRANKLIN: Respect
ARGENT: Hold Your Head Up
CURTIS MAYFIELD: Superfly
THE EAGLES: Take It Easy
DUSTY SPRINGFIELD: Son Of A Preacher Man
BIG BROTHER & THE HOLDING COMPANY: Piece Of My Heart
AL GREEN: Let's Stay Together
BARON DAEMON & THE VAMPIRES: The Transylvania Twist
ALBERT PALLONE & THE BACKSTAGE FIVE: Milk Shake Blues
FREDA PAYNE: Band Of Gold
BOB DYLAN: Knockin' On Heaven's Door
THE BAR-KAYS: Soul Finger
CHICAGO: Feelin' Stronger Every Day
THE DRIFTERS: On Broadway
HAROLD MELVIN & THE BLUE NOTES: If You Don't Know Me By Now
THE BEACH BOYS: Good Vibrations
SLY & THE FAMILY STONE: Everybody Is A Star
THE ROLLING STONES: Jumpin' Jack Flash
THE BEATLES: Come Together
MARVIN GAYE: Let's Get It On
GENE PITNEY: It Hurts To Be In Love
THE RASPBERRIES: I Wanna Be With You
SAM & DAVE: Soul Man
ELVIS PRESLEY: Suspicious Minds
STEVIE WONDER: Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I'm Yours
NEIL DIAMOND: Brother Love's Traveling Salvation Show
THE BOX TOPS: The Letter
FONTELLA BASS: Rescue Me
THE HOLLIES: Long Cool Woman In a Black Dress
THE FOUR TOPS: Reach Out I'll Be There
THE FIFTH DIMENSION: I Didn't Get To Sleep At All
THE WHO: Pinball Wizard
WILSON PICKETT: In The Midnight Hour
THE ISLEY BROTHERS: It's Your Thing
LED ZEPPELIN: Communication Breakdown
THE FOUNDATIONS: Build Me Up Buttercup
JEAN KNIGHT: Mr. Big Stuff
THE McCOYS: Hang On Sloopy
THE JIMI HENDRIX EXPERIENCE: All Along The Watchtower
DEREK & THE DOMINOES: Bell Bottom Blues
DEEP PURPLE: Hush
THE CASTAWAYS: Liar, Liar
ELTON JOHN: Saturday Night's Alright For Fighting
THE KINGSMEN: Louie Louie
LULU: To Sir, With Love
THE JOE JEFFREY GROUP: My Pledge Of Love
T. REX: Bang A Gong (Get It On)
MARVIN GAYE & KIM WESTON: It Takes Two
THE GUESS WHO: No Time
THE TEMPTATIONS: Ain't Too Proud To Beg
GARY LEWIS & THE PLAYBOYS: This Diamond Ring
THE ROLLING STONES: Happy
THE TRASHMEN: Surfin' Bird
OTIS REDDING: (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay
PAUL SIMON: Me And Julio Down By The School Yard
100 PROOF AGED IN SOUL: Somebody's Been Sleeping
ROY ORBISON: Oh, Pretty Woman
THE TROGGS: Wild Thing
LOUIS ARMSTRONG: What A Wonderful World



TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Lights! Camera! REACTION! My Life At The Movies, Part 2: Superhero Movies



My first superhero movie was Batman in 1966. I was six years old, a huge fan of the twice-a-week televised adventures of Batman and Robin, so it was quite the big deal to see my Caped Crusaders crusade on the big screen against the combined nefarious might of The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, and Catwoman. I couldn't quite understand why I was sssshed from shouting out the POW!s and BIFF!s that accompanied the climactic fight scene--I was always able to do that when watching at home--but nothing could dilute the thrill of seeing superheroes at the movies.

It would be a long, long time before I would have another chance to do that.




In today's world of cinematic superhero plenty, a time before blockbuster Marvel and DC films at the cineplex seems long ago and far away. But the success of the Batman TV series in '66 did not translate into boffo box office in theaters, nor did it inspire any feature-film imitations in Hollywood. Unless you count Barbarella in 1968 or even Modesty Blaise in '66--and you shouldn't really count either as part of this specific discussion--there wasn't anything else that could be called a mass-market comic-book or superhero film until Doc Savage: The Man Of Bronze in 1975. I was a fan of the Doc Savage pulp novels and Marvel's comic-book adaptation, but I'm not aware of the movie ever playing in Syracuse. (I finally had a chance to see it on either cable or home video many years later, but I have yet to make it through the whole film; it's pretty bad.)

In the interim, I had discovered superhero movie serials from the '40s. Not quite the same thing, sure, but I was happy to have 'em. My introduction to these quaint artifacts was Super 8 home movies, specifically silent, abridged versions of two chapters apiece from 1941's The Adventures Of Captain Marvel and 1943's Batman. I then saw the Captain Marvel serial in its entirety in a looooong evening screening at The Syracuse Cinephile Society. I also saw the 1936 Flash Gordon serial, split over the course of two different weekend screenings at The Hollywood Theater, the same Mattydale, NY movie house where I'd seen the '66 Batman. In the mid '70s, the popularity of the late actor Bruce Lee (who had played the role of Kato in the 1967 TV series The Green Hornet) prompted a theatrical release for Kato And The Green Hornet; this was an ineptly-edited compilation of three episodes of the TV series, but I saw it in a movie theater, so I guess it counts as a superhero movie.





In the mid '70s, there were rumors of new superhero films on the horizon, particularly a proposed big-budget version of Superman. Rumor had it that the Man of Steel would be played by Robert Redford! Or not. The role eventually went to an unknown actor named Christopher Reeve. He was...um, he was pretty damned good in the role. There were also rumors of a Batman film, a Vampirella film (which had cast actress and model Barbara Leigh in the role, but which was never made), a Silver Surfer film. But even the successes of Star Wars and Superman couldn't get any of these films out of development limbo. The closest thing was an awful Flash Gordon movie in 1980.



I had mixed feelings about the Superman movies. Reeve was just flawless in the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman, and Margot Kidder was likewise a terrific Lois Lane. But the overall tone wasn't quite...right. In the first film, released in 1978, the opening sequence had an epic feel that felt nothing short of awe-inspiring. The early scenes on the planet Krypton, with Marlon Brando as Superman's daddy Jor-El, had an undeniable gravitas. The Smallville scenes, with young Clark Kent learning his moral code from adoptive father Jonathan Kent (expertly played by Glenn Ford), were affecting and heartbreaking. But the tone changed abruptly when the narrative switched to present-day Metropolis, and the audience was introduced to Lex Luthor's oafish henchman Otis (Ned Beatty). Gene Hackman's Luthor projected murderous intent, but always seemed a pratfall away from a descent into camp humor. I got the feeling that the filmmakers, including director Richard Donner, weren't so much reluctant to take a superhero film seriously as they were simply unable to fathom the idea of taking a superhero film seriously. Superman II, directed by Richard Lester, had a lot going for it, but Lester was even less--far less!--interested in straight superheroics than Donner had been. I don't mean to quibble, then or now, because I loved those first two Superman movies, their flaws notwithstanding; I still wish those flaws weren't there, though.

There was no real relief in sight for superhero film fans in the '80s. Reeve made two more Superman movies, each one a waste of his talents (though he shoulders some of the blame for the final entry, 1987's Superman IV: The Quest For Peace, which he helped brainstorm). There was a lackluster Supergirl movie. There were rumors of Marvel superhero movies. And, in 1989, there was Michael Keaton in Batman, arguably the first superhero film to play it straight. It was a blockbuster hit, and I loved it. That franchise went south real fast, but the '89 film proved that a straight superhero film could be done.



It took a while for that lesson to take hold. With the first X-Men film in 2000, the first Spider-Man film in 2002, Batman Begins in 2005, and the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man in 2008, the current era of successful superhero movies began in earnest, and it shows no sign of ceasing. This year's fantastic Wonder Woman may be the greatest superhero film I've ever seen. And I've seen a lot of them!



I don't see every superhero movie that comes along, but I do see most of them. I'm one of the relatively few folks who liked 2016's Batman v Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Tonight, my sister and I are going to see its new sequel, Justice League. It's a long way from when we saw Adam West in Batman more than five decades ago. But I'll still cheer the heroes, boo the villains, and exult in the spectacle of comic-book superheroes coming to life before my widened eyes. It's a sense of wonder I don't ever intend to relinquish.

I'll exult quietly, though. Don't want anyone to haveta ssssh me for yellin' out the POW!s and BIFF!s.



TIP THE BLOGGER: CC's Tip Jar!

You can support this blog by becoming a patron on Patreon: Fund me, baby! 

Our new compilation CD This Is Rock 'n' Roll Radio, Volume 4 is now available from Kool Kat Musik! 29 tracks of irresistible rockin' pop, starring Pop Co-OpRay PaulCirce Link & Christian NesmithVegas With Randolph Featuring Lannie FlowersThe SlapbacksP. HuxIrene PeñaMichael Oliver & the Sacred Band Featuring Dave MerrittThe RubinoosStepford KnivesThe Grip WeedsPopdudesRonnie DarkThe Flashcubes,Chris von SneidernThe Bottle Kids1.4.5.The SmithereensPaul Collins' BeatThe Hit SquadThe RulersThe Legal MattersMaura & the Bright LightsLisa Mychols, and Mr. Encrypto & the Cyphers. You gotta have it, so order it here.



Thursday, November 16, 2017

THE EVERLASTING FIRST Part 16a: My First Exposures To Some Singers And Superheroes

Continuing a look back at my first exposure to a number of rock 'n' roll acts and superheroes (or other denizens of print or periodical publication), some of which were passing fancies, and some of which I went on to kinda like. They say you never forget your first time; that may be true, but it's the subsequent visits--the second time, the fourth time, the twentieth time, the hundredth time--that define our relationships with the things we cherish. Ultimately, the first meeting is less important than what comes after that. But every love story still needs to begin with that first kiss.

TODAY'S LETTER IS P



GENE PITNEY

It might not take much for you to convince me that Gene Pitney records have existed throughout modern times, that Eliot Ness listened to "Town Without Pity" while planning his crusade against Al Capone, that doughboys sang "Last Chance To Turn Around" en route to the trenches in The War To End All Wars, that Doc Holliday whistled "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance" as he neared the O.K. Corral, or that William Shakespeare's final thoughts within this mortal coil were of Pitney declaring "I'm Gonna Be Strong." I'd know you were lying, sure; but a part of me might believe it, only because I can't remember a time when I couldn't listen to Gene Pitney. Before The Beatles. Before I can recall hearing Elvis Presley, long before I heard Chuck Berry or Buddy Holly or nearly anyone else. As far back as I can remember, there was always, always Gene Pitney.

My earliest conscious memories date back to 1963, when I was three years old. I can remember watching as my crib was dismantled and put into storage. I remember being at the home of one of my Mom's friends in North Syracuse, and being given a choice of diapers or underwear; Speedos were not yet in popular use. I remember JFK, but only vicariously, through impressionist Vaughn Meader and his hit comedy album The First Family. I remember family and friends, playing outdoors and watching TV indoors. I remember music: LPs of original Broadway casts and 45s of rock 'n' roll, Chubby Checker on my Aunt Anna's hi-fi, The Four Seasons on the radio.

And, of course, I remember Gene Pitney.

My older siblings deserve the credit for my damned near in vitro introduction to Pitney. My brothers Art and Rob are respectively about 15 and 13 years older than me, my sister Denise eight years my senior. Much of the essential and prevailing pop culture I absorbed in the '60s came from them, and I can never thank them enough for that. I couldn't tell you which of them owned a copy of the Gene Pitney Sings World-Wide Winners album, but I can tell you that LP was in the family record collection in the same time frame as my crib demolition and The First Family's directive to vote for the Kennedy of your choice, but vote! 



And I can tell you that record got played. Before I could read, I could sing along with Gene Pitney's world-wide winners "Town Without Pity,""(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance,""I Wanna Love My Life Away," "Half Heaven Half Heartache," and "Hello Mary Lou." That last one, "Hello Mary Lou," was a song Pitney had written for Ricky Nelson, but I knew it as a Gene Pitney record. I don't remember hearing Gene Pitney on the radio, and I don't remember hearing him on the jukebox at The Moose Club, nor on other people's record players. At home? Yeah, I heard plenty of Gene Pitney at home.

For all that, I didn't follow Gene Pitney through the rest of the '60s. My sister Denise went to see Pitney in concert at The New York State Fair around '66 or so, but I wasn't even aware that she did. Nor was I aware of any Pitney songs after the familiar classics on that World-Wide Winners LP. I was aware of The Beatles, The Dave Clark Five, The Rolling Stones, Lesley Gore, The Monkees, The Archies. The closest I got to Pitney was second-hand, via The Royal Guardsmen's cover of "Liberty Valance" on the Snoopy Vs. The Red Baron album in 1967. I was in first grade by then. No need for a worldly first-grader to concern himself with the practically prehistoric sounds that walked the earth in the years before kindergarten.

My rediscovery and expanded appreciation of '60s music occurred when I was an adolescent and teenager in the '70s. Pitney wasn't necessarily high on my list of acts I needed to embrace and exalt immediately, but I got there in due time. Nonetheless, I always had a sense that Pitney was inherently...I dunno, worthy, special among pre-Beatles pop idols, neither a Frankie nor a Fabian, not an interchangeable poster boy, but real, essential, substantial. I couldn't have articulated any of that, but it was nonetheless something I knew.

A plank on my road back to Gene Pitney appeared when I was flipping channels on cable one day in the mid '70s, and I stumbled across Town Without Pity, a gritty 1961 film that opens with Gene Pitney's familiar title tune. Connection. Pitney's swing and swagger both contrasted and complemented the movie's grim tone; my ears were open. I don't think I found much to read about Pitney among the rock 'n' roll histories I was absorbing at the time; I eventually pieced together that he wrote "He's A Rebel" for The Crystals (in addition to penning Ricky Nelson's "Hello Mary Lou"), and I sought out the sound of Gene Pitney with my new best friend: oldies radio.

Oldies radio gave me "It Hurts To Be In Love." That became my favorite. As I finally grew old enough to visit bars and guzzle beer and badger DJs for songs to play while I didn't dance with any of the pretty girls there, an oldies bar called The Tip-A-Few became a favored hangout, and "It Hurts To Be In Love" became a favored request. I was well on my way to becoming a Gene Pitney fan.

I still had a long way to go yet. I remember a late '70s trip to Shoppingtown Mall, my Dad waiting in the car while I ran in to accomplish some errand. I stopped to flirt with a girl I knew from school, and I stopped in the record store to flip through 99-cent cutouts. I picked up a couple of these under-a-buck treasures--the eponymous debut by The Real Kids, and the obnoxious noise classic The Residents Present The Third Reich 'n' Roll--but I passed up on a 2-LP set of the best of Gene Pitney. That was a decision I regretted immediately!



(I also recall visiting my girlfriend Brenda on Staten Island in the early '80s, and watching a band called Blue Angel on TV as they performed a terrific cover of Pitney's "I'm Gonna Be Strong." Blue Angel's lead singer was named Cyndi Lauper; we'd hear more from her before long.)

I don't remember my actual first Gene Pitney acquisition. That family copy of World-Wide Winners was long gone, so I think my own Pitney collection began with either a used single-album best-of LP or a truly beat-up copy of Only Love Can Break A Heart; don't know where or when I snagged the former, but I definitely grabbed the latter out of the Get These GONE! bin at Gary Sperrazza!'s store Apollo Records in Buffalo in the early/mid '80s.



By the time Brenda and I moved back to Syracuse in the late '80s, my appreciation of Gene Pitney had matured and blossomed. We had a chance to see Pitney live at the State Fair in '88 or so, and I knew we couldn't miss that. My sister accompanied us to that great show--full circle!



There was never a time when I didn't know at least some of Gene Pitney's music, no such thing as a period in my life where Pitney's music wasn't at least some small cherished part of the jumbled jukebox that plays within my easily-turned head. The old favorites remained favorites: "Town Without Pity;" "(The Man Who Shot) Liberty Valance;" "Half Heaven Half Heartache;" "I'm Gonna Love My Life Away." I discovered new favorites: "It Hurts To Be In Love;" "Last Chance To Turn Around;" "She's A Heartbreaker;" "I'm Gonna Be Strong." But ultimately it was a track on that World-Wide Winners album, a track I never paid attention to as a child, which became my go-to Pitney track: "Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa."

Let me reprise something I wrote long ago about this unbelievable record: On paper, it's tough to sympathize with a ne'er-do-well who ups and ditches his long-time love because he runs into some hinge-heeled floozy when he's a mere day's travel away from home and hearth.  Good thing we don't enjoy records on paper.  This record is perfect in every respect, from Pitney's authoritative vocals through every small musical nuance of this incredible Bacharach-David number. The only thing I'll add now is that Gene Pitney's "Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa" is The Greatest Record Ever Made.

Gene Pitney was inducted into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2002, an overdue recognition, though I was at least pleased to see Pitney inducted alongside my heroes The Ramones. He passed away in 2006. His music is with me forever. It always has been.



Quick Takes For P:

PEZBAND



"Spakling Power Pop!" While it might seem unlikely that I could possibly resist that specific hype in the late '70s, the truth is that I didn't really get Pezband at the time. I think I picked up the Laughing At The Pieces album on a trip to Cleveland, and I may have purchased Cover To Cover somewhere in that time frame, but neither moved me, so I traded 'em in. Fast-forward to the early '90s, and it suddenly dawned on me that I needed Pezband records, so I tracked down each and every one of the band's releases. "Love Goes Underground" and "Stop! Wait A Minute" are my favorites.

THE PENETRATORS



I probably read about this band billed as "Syracuse's Only!" in the pages of our local punk/new wave fanzine Poser in 1979, before I ever heard their music. I bought their debut 45 "Gotta Have Her"/"Baby Don'tcha Tell Me," and loved it (particularly the B-side); I liked the follow-up, "Teenage Lifestyle," even more. Years later, I wrote the liner notes to a Penetrators live album, and to a solo EP by Penetrators lead singer Jack Lipton; I never had an opportunity to see the band play live.

WHEN THE EVERLASTING FIRST RETURNS:

P is for




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