- 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.
Friday, September 8, 2017
THE EVERLASTING FIRST: Supplemental Quick Takes H-N
While we're waiting for the return of The Everlasting First, the A-Z remembrance of my introductions to various music acts and comic-book characters, let's take a look at some Quick Takes (or outtakes, I guess) not covered in previous installments. The Everlasting First will return soon with O is for THE OHIO EXPRESS.
HERCULES: Although nearly everyone probably knows about Hercules on some level, I betcha most kids first become aware of him through some pop culture filter. I can't speak for you, but I sure wasn't studying Roman mythology (nor the Greek Heracles either) when I was in kindergarten; nonetheless, we all pretty much knew who Hercules was. Maybe some learned of Hercules via a Steve Reeves movie, but it's more likely I was introduced to the Roman demi-god when he encountered my hero Popeye in an old cartoon on TV. Later, there was a series of The Mighty Hercules TV cartoons (basically casting Herc as an ancient superhero), and Marvel Comics introduced its own version as a partner of The Mighty Avengers. My first sighting of Marvel's comic-book Hercules was in The Avengers # 42 in 1967, a comic book which opened with the legendary strongman leanin' back and eatin' some grapes. Who's says this isn't the Marvel Age of superheroic nutrition?
HERMAN'S HERMITS: Herman and the lads were just always there, weren't they? I don't know if I heard "I'm Into Something Good" in 1964 (a year which my four-year-old self would insist belonged exclusively to The Beatles), but I probably heard "I'm Henry VIII, I Am" and "Mrs. Brown You've Got A Lovely Daughter" in '65. A bit later, I saw Herman's Hermits in a simply awful film called Hold On! at The Hollywood Theater in 1966.
INSECT QUEEN: Although Superboy's girlfriend Lana Lang was the true identity of the sporadic heroine (Legion of Super-Heroes reserve member) Insect Queen, my first Insect Queen was Lana's rival, Lois Lane. Lois subbed for Lana (as Bug-Belle) in Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane # 69 in 1966, which I read when I was in the hospital for tonsil removal. Lana herself also showed up as Insect Queen in the same story.
THE INVICTAS: I think I first heard this '60s Rochester, NY garage combo's regional hit "The Hump" on the radio...but where? I would swear I subsequently bought the group's lone LP The Invictas A Go-Go from the used bin at Brockport's Main Street Records, which means I got it before moving to Buffalo in August of 1982, which means I couldn't have first heard it via the most likely means: DJs Tina Peel or Cal Zone on Buffalo's WBNY-FM. Likely, sure, but I didn't start listening to that station until at least 1983. Did I pick up that Invictas LP on a subsequent visit back to Brockport? If not, what radio station could have possibly played "The Hump" for me before that?
THE JAGUAR: A luxury superhero! I arrived to comics too late to experience this Archie Comics superhero's brief 1961-63 run, and he wasn't an active part of Archie's mid-'60s camp hero attempt The Mighty Crusaders (of which I only read a single issue of Mighty Comics in the '60s anyway). I must have seen a reprint or back issue in the '70s.
JOY DIVISION: "Love Will Tear Us Apart," playing on Buffalo's 97 Rock, probably not long after the song was released in 1980. 97 Rock had a Sunday night show called Power Rock, which aired tracks that were in theory edgier than the station's regular fare. 97 Rock's signal was strong enough to reach my apartment in Brockport, and I listened to Power Rock religiously.
KANG THE CONQUEROR: Technically, my first encounter with this time-conquering adversary of The Mighty Avengers was on The Fantastic Four's Saturday morning cartoon TV show in 1967. An episode of that series adapted the first comic-book appearance of the FF villain Rama-Tut from 1963's Fantastic Four # 19. Ol' Kang made his first appearance about a year later in The Avengers # 8, and no one--not the readers, and probably not writer Stan Lee at the time--knew that Rama and Kang were one and the same. That revelation came via writer Roy Thomas in Avengers King-Size Special # 2 in 1968, which was my introduction to Kang his own bad self.
GREG KIHN: WOUR-FM in Utica turned me on to some cool new sounds in 1977, when I was preparing (HAH!) to graduate from high school. One such discovery was "For You" by Greg Kihn. I didn't know it was written by Bruce Springsteen, but I did know it was from the album Greg Kihn Again, because the good folks at WOUR also played an ad for that album, probably more than they played Kihn himself. (I also recall that I somehow got confused and thought that Graham Parker's "Hotel Chambermaid" was a Greg Kihn song, and that it was also on Greg Kihn Again. Oops.)
LED ZEPPELIN: I was never a big Zep fan. Didn't dislike 'em, but my interest in the group ran the gamut from they're-pretty-good-I-guess to they're-okay-I-guess to they're-pretty-good-but-I-still-don't-care-all-that-much. Never hated them, but grew tired of them in the aftermath of punk. I have a handful of Zeppelin tunes on my iPod; when they come up on shuffle, I will listen or skip as my mood dictates in the moment. My first memory of Led Zeppelin is hearing "Black Dog" on AM radio. I do dig "Communication Breakdown."
LITTLE ANNIE FANNY: That big stack of Playboys I discovered when I was 10 included more than just photos of beautiful nude women; they also included a cartoon series starring a beautiful nude woman. While Little Annie Fanny's appeal was perhaps primarily prurient, it was also frequently funny. It couldn't help being funny, since it was created and crafted by the genius of Harvey Kurtzman and Bill Elder, the inventors of a little comic book called Mad. So, a pretty heroine engaging in hijinks that invariably deprived her of clothing? Yeah, I was a fan. Annie couldn't quite compete with flesh-and-blood Playmates Lorrie Menconi, Sharon Clark, Lorrie Menconi, Deanna Baker, Lorrie Menconi, Liv Lindeland, or Lorrie Menconi for my fickle affection, but I loved her nonetheless.
THE MIRACLES: I do not remember The Miracles at all from the '60s. But one of the highest of high points of my AM radio heyday in the early '70s was "The Tears Of A Clown," a 1967 Miracles LP track released as a 1970 single billed to Smokey Robinson & the Miracles. "The Tears Of A Clown" will soon get its turn in the Boppin' (Like The Hip Folks Do) spotlight as a future subject of my series The Greatest Record Ever Made.
MR. TERRIFIC: The 1940s hero Mr. Terrific was one of the mighty Justice Society of America members featured in Justice League of America # 55 in 1967, a JLA/JSA meeting that was also my first issue of JLA. But the JSA stalwart was not my first Mr. Terrific. No, my first Mr. T--I pity the fool!--was mild-manned Stanley Beamish, whose ingestion of a super-secret power pill gave him the power to be the title star of the short-lived 1966 sitcom Mr. Terrific.
NEW MATH: You don't know New Math? Your loss! Great late '70s/early '80s band from Rochester, and I first heard 'em live when they shared a bill with The Flashcubes at The Firebarn in Syracuse in 1978. I later bought their first single "Die Trying," which was a British import. A Rochester band on a British label? Okeydokey. "Die Trying" did absolutely nothing for me on first spin, so I filed it away. But when I played it again some time later, it hit me full-on. It's been one of my all-time Hot 300 tracks ever since. New Math subsequently released another great single ("Older Women"/"The Restless Kind"), a domestic issue of "Die Trying" (with a different B-side), an EP called They Walk Among You, and an LP called Gardens before morphing into The Jet Black Berries. The world is long overdue for a decent New Math CD retrospective.
NEW TEEN TITANS: I think we'll be covering the original group eventually in T is for THE TEEN TITANS. But The New Teen Titans are worthy of a separate entry because of what that property meant to DC Comics in the early '80s, and what it meant to me. I stopped reading comics when I was in college, just because I was disappointed by everything I read after Steve Englehart stopped writing Batman in Detective Comics in 1978. After graduating in 1980, I stayed in my college town of Brockport, and eventually started stopping by a store called Comic Book Heaven. The New Teen Titans was one of a handful of titles (Frank Miller's Daredevil was another) that reignited my interest in comics, and I've been back in the fold ever since. My first was The New Teen Titans # 4.
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