Sunday, July 31, 2011

Mr Mike's High School Record Collection: April Wine - Power Play

I've been watching MTV30 on VH1 Classic this weekend which has been fun, except I was expecting to see music videos (since that is what MTV used to show). Instead they are showing mostly clips from their various non music shows mixed in with VMA music performances. It seems the memory of the channel itself has removed video clips from their past. I was going to do a post on my favorite music videos from the MTV glory days (and still might) but while looking for old clips to rave about I stumbled across a forgotten album: April Wine Power Play. So that's the theme of today's post. Let's see how many wine metaphors I can pour into this bota. Oh yeah, I know nothing of wine and don't like the taste of most of them. Master Of Wine I am not.

1. Anything You Want, You Got It

One of my favorite opening tracks to any album ever, this hard charging rocker is designed to light up arenas from coast to coast. The ultimate aperitif, it was easy to envision a field of raised fists held high when Myles Goodwin would ask "Do you want it?" and the audience would reply "Yeah!" I imagined this was an awesome concert opener, too bad I didn't get to see the Wine in action when they were in season.

2. Enough Is Enough

The Bordeaux of Power Play, this was the song most people heard from this record. Funny though, I didn't buy this album for "Enough Is Enough" but for the song after it. Still loved this song once I heard it, particularly the guitar part underneath the "You fill me up until I get enough" line 'cause it reminded me of pumping gas into a car. Oh sorry, I think I meant to say the decanting process. Anyway, the video is a fine tribute to early 80s variety with the band trucking and shouting on the CB for girls. Remember the CB craze? When we used to wear trucker hats and talk jibberish ending with a 10-4 good buddy or a cackling Burt Reynolds laugh? Glad I rewatched this video, all these years I thought the solo was by Brian Greenway (one of three axe slingers in classic April Wine) but it turns out to be Gary Moffet. (the third guitarist? Myles Goodwin. He sings. He dances. He does it all!!!). You know what would have made this video better though? An orangutan and seven gorgeous lady truckers. Left turn Clyde.

3. If You See Kay

The song I bought this for, a song whose video I saw on public television no less. They sounded out a dirty word, how could I not buy this?? My friends tried to tell me this group was plonk, I ignored them and was sold on the song / video that easily fit in with the Caddyshack / Fast Times At Ridgemont High varietal. Hard to believe this and Bryan Adams "Cuts Like A Knife" was considered racy by todays standards. When Britney Spears released "If You Seek Amy" my mind screamed "stop ripping off April Wine!". I say my mind because if I screamed it aloud I would 1) be considered crazy and 2) probably asked what an April Wine is. April Wine what's that? It's a Canadian rock band with a drummer that looks like one of WWF's Bushwackers led by a curly haired dude but that's not important right now.

4. What If We Fall In Love

It's important to let Wine breathe, so we get a nice ballad here not too far off from their big hit "Just Between You And Me". I like the song yet thought it was a verse section too long, sort of like a fine wine aging into vinegar. Good place for a ballad though, gotta play up the romantic side at least once when the other songs are about possessiveness and lust.

5. Waiting On A Miracle

This upbeat rocker I've been indifferent to so I'll use this space to talk about some other things April Wine. Like the album cover to Power Play. It shows a kid playing a video game (that for some reason reminds me of Tempest on the side of the box) of April Wine with Myles Goodwin on screen arms outstretched in rock and roll victory / ecstasy. So wait, you're telling me there is a video game and rock music together in the same place? (I used to love Tempest, wasn't very good and usually died a lot once the spikes appeared. Early round victories where you get to spin the control and watch the Tempest spin all over the grid on the way to the next grid was the best though) April Wine, you're talking my language. Oh, and one other visual note I'd like to say I was pissed when the fancy April Wine logo was discontinued on the following record (the mediocre Animal Grace disc).

6. Doin It Right

OK, I'm wore out on wine phrases. You win April Wine! Now they're doin it right...on the wrong side of town. Side 2 of the cassette took a little while for me to get into. So much work involved with flipping a tape over, you have to push eject and rewind and then play - I can't handle all this manual labor. Power Play was released when record companies were trying to push cassette tapes over vinyl records, so it was made in nifty blue plastic and emphasized the emblem XDR which meant expanded dynamic range. This is just before record companies went bonus track crazy in it's final effort to bury vinyl (bet those record boys regret that move now.) Oh yeah, back to "Doin It Right". Typical mildly rebellious rock and rollers bragging about rocking in a semi dangerous situation type anthem. It works, I like this jam.

7. Ain't Got Your Love

This song is cool, nice struttin piece of hard rock. This was my favorite song on side 2, just had a good groove and energy to it. You know as much as I like April Wine, I don't know much about the band members other than their nationality (Canadian). So lets see what I can find out about these guys that's of interest. Well, one thing right off lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Myles Goodwyn spells his name "Goodwyn" not "Goodwin" like I've been writing this entire post. That's good info! Guitarist Brian Greenway is said to be a computer enthusiast on the April Wine site and seems to respond on their message board. Did not know that either. Can't find any info on Gary Moffet, but hey I just found out he did the solo on "Enough Is Enough" does that count? Bassist Steve Lang according to the April Wine message board is a rich man working a corporate job. According to wikipedia, drummer Jerry Mercer (the Bushwackers looking guy) he had been both a cattle rancher and IBM computer programmer. That's some versatility.

8. Blood Money

"Blood Money" is one of two tunes I don't remember now. I'm playing it now to see if it's familiar, I might have fast forwarded past it back in the day. I think I did. I don't remember this song at all.

9. Tell Me Why

A good amount of time went by, decades maybe, before I realized this was a Beatles cover. This version is so slowed down compared to the original that I didn't recognize it. And that's not a bad thing since I like April Wine's take better than the Fab Four's. Has more of a I wanna say Everly Brothers feel to it, a pensiveness that I like. I hadn't seen the video before today, it's pretty funny, Nice slow burn joke even though you see the end coming. She's got the jack :)

10. Runners In The Night

Song two that I don't remember. Playing's a decent hard rocker. Guess I was hoping for a fast paced whiplash guitars big finish.

Too bad I had jumped on the April Wine train just in time to watch them fall apart. The next album had the awesome "This Could Be The Right One" and that was about it. By the time we got to Walking On Fire there really wasn't a band anymore. There was however this video for "Rock Myself To Sleep" that tries to distract you from the lack of band members with some Heather Locklear inspired "sexy" dancing and extreme closeups of Myles Goodwyn's noggin.

April Wine was an awesome band, I think they might still be around with Goodwyn and Greenway so I'll say is an awesome band.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Ten Reasons Why T.J. Hooker Is Awesome

Lately my wife and I have gone back to watching reruns of the classic William Shatner cop show T.J. Hooker. T.J. Hooker, the 80s tv show created with the idea that people like me wanted to see Captain Kirk in a patrol car, ran for more years than I remembered (like three or four) entertaining with one self righteous speech after another. Hooker was the toughest cop in all of L.C. (L.A.) fighting for the rights of the innocent and taking down the scum that plagues society. He used to be a detective, but after a controversial shooting he went back into blues. Not that he was busted down, he asked for the streets! Where he can make a difference! After watching several episodes back to back, I've decided to list ten reasons in no particular order why T.J. Hooker is so awesome.

1. T.J. Hooker is so cool that everyone in the fictional city of L.C. knows him and only refers to him by his last name.

Hooker has contacts throughout the city, everyone who is not a criminal knows Hooker and is on good terms with him. He relates to all walks of life and is revered by them for being the living God he is. Almost all criminals know Hooker too, they're just not on good terms with the man. To be accurate, all snitches know Hooker and can't handle the heat when TJ leans on them for information. Only occasionally does the criminal of the week know Hooker, because obviously he did know Hooker the punk would be too scared to commit a crime in L.C. Along with his fame comes a cache of cool, so everyone calls TJ Hooker by his last name. His partner Vince Romano calls him Hooker. Other police officers. Community leaders. Even his ex wife. Only his kids don't call him Hooker, but maybe that's because he's never around home. Too busy fighting crime to raise his kids.

2. Sub Plot Stacy aka Heather Locklear

Heather Locklear was working double time appearing on both TJ Hooker and Dynasty. Her character Stacy Sheridan started as the desk / dispatch clerk and is the daughter of the police chief. She later becomes a street beat cop with Moondoggie James Darren where she morphs into sub plot Stacy. Whenever a kid or civilian woman needs to be watched, wherever a beautiful young woman is needed as bait, or if a cop is going to be taken hostage by bad guys Stacy is there to do it. Locklear fills in her role as eye candy nicely which is just as well since she's never once believable as a police officer (she looks 90 pounds and has no attitude). It doesn't help her that the Sheridan character is made out to be so naive that she is disarmed and taken hostage more times than I could count. It's as if Sheridan carries a gun so she could arm the criminals that capture her. Part of the fun of sub plot Stacy is to make fun of her character's stupidity in service of the story, plus you get to make Tommy Lee jokes and view possibly the corniest exotic dancing to hit the airwaves. Work those shoulders and snap them fingers baby!

3. Vince Romano is a Vietnam Veteran

I feel bad for Adrian Zmed, his career had such promise. After Grease 2 and TJ Hooker it seemed like he just disappeared. Zmed did a really good job as Hooker's eager young guy on the make sidekick Vince Romano. Completely believable as a rookie cop, completely believable as Hooker's partner with a different acting style, believable in his action scenes...but totally not believable as a Vietnam Veteran. I'm sorry, Adrian Zmed looks like he's in his mid 20s during this show - maybe he looks young for his age? His character is portrayed as a guy in his mid 20s too, which makes it ridiculous to claim Romano is a Vietnam Vet. It's not like they referenced this once and let it go, Romano's Vietnam past is brought up multiple times in the series (including flash backs). It's said Romano went to 'Nam faking his age to join the war, but what was he 5? A 5 year old faked his way into the army? Really?

4. 80's L.C. (L.A.) is a beautiful thing

Remember the old Kentucky Fried Chicken sign? Or when you could buy a new truck for $5999? Or gas for $1.11? You get to see a lot of the ol sights and sounds of Los Angeles. Just watched an episode today that opens with a robbery at Venice Beach. Watch the background, you get to see old company logos ( TJ Hooker makes a speeding left turn through an intersection next to Safeway in many episodes) and businesses that don't exist anymore (1st Interstate bank I think was one). The settings and backgrounds are a nostalgic treat. I hadn't felt that nostalgic since playing Grand Theft Auto - Vice City.

5. TJ Hooker drinks and drives

Particularly in the early seasons Hooker would often frequent bars after work. Then he'd down a few drinks, mull over the case he's working on, flirt with a girl then DRIVE HOME. And we can also assume still carrying his gun too. If a major tv character did this today people would be up in arms I tell you. But again, because he's TJ Hooker we can assume as well that he is immune to the intoxicating effects of alcohol.

6. Worst Car Chase Cops In The Biz

Hooker and Romano are the worst cops to put in a car chase. 81% of the time they lose the bad guy due to traffic or wrecking their vehicle in a fiery explosion. Only if the villian crashes his own car in a fiery explosion do they get caught. Hooker has destroyed so many vehicles not to mention private property (like entire gas stations) that L.C. should be bankrupt from the liability claims on this guy. The general rule of TJ Hooker is this: if the car chase happens within the first half hour, it will end with the criminals getting away and Hooker punching the car while shouting "Damn!" Second half hour, somebody is gonna get caught.

7. The Shatner 2000

It's no secret that the Shat wears a rug. Or has plugs from what one co-worker once told me. In any case, the Shatner 2000 (so named from a classic Night Court episode) lives up to it's hype. A pure masterpiece of false follicles, there are times when I think the 2000 covers not just the top but the front side burns as well. Speaking as a bald man myself, that's impressive coverage.

8. Recycled guest stars and pilots for shows that never came to be

TJ Hooker made two attempts at spin offs that funnily enough did not feature any of the regular cast. The most noticeable one was Sharon Stone - yes, that Sharon Stone - as a tough female detective working the Hollywood beat. She's tough...but she's sympathetic too because she cares (awww...). Stone herself is pretty bland here, no hint of the ice pick wielding psycho she'd successfully portray a few years later. The second spin off attempt wasn't much better, it was a blatant Beverly Hills Cop rip off set in Chicago starring a guy working overtime trying to match Eddie Murphy's manic brilliance and coming up short. And trying to rip off the Pointer Sister's "Jump" as background muzak for a foot chase scene. Classy.

For other guest stars, there is the predictable Star Trek link with Leonard Nimoy making an appearance. Not to mention Ike Eisenmann from ST II ("he stayed at his post, when the trainees ran..."). And I suppose I can throw in Marcy Lafferty (ST:TMP) though that's cheating since she was married to Shatner at the time. I'd also use that to justify her playing two different characters on Hooker (one a murderous thief and the other a psychic) except they did that with actors who weren't married to Shat as well. Clarence Williams III was an armed robber twice and not the same character. Lynne Moody was a doctor one day and then a police clerk in Chicago the next. Most notable was James Darren who first played an illegal street racer before making series regular as Jim Corrigan.

9. TJ Hooker rides the hood of a car

This moment in tv history was so indelible that decades later it became a joke in a Robert DeNiro movie. So here it is, revel in the glory.

10. Danny can't hear!

TJ Hooker tried hard to be sensitive to people in need, but in typical Hooker / Shatner fashion that sensitivity is delivered loudly and clumsily - which is pretty awesome once you get used to it. Nowhere was this more evident than an episode where Hooker berates a gang member / crime suspect until he realizes the punk has a hearing problem. Hooker does a complete 180, trying to get the gang banger a better life and medical operations(!) because (Shatner dramatic pause) Danny can't hear! Hooker goes on and on about how this kid could have been a lawyer or doctor or whatever but because he can't hear (and the kid's brother is a junkie) the kid HAD to join the gangs to survive. Danny...he could have built a rocket ship to the moon, cured cancer, brought world peace but no, he had to join the gangs because...Danny can't hear!

And those are just ten reasons why TJ Hooker is so freakin awesome. But don't take my word for it. You can watch a brief version of one of my favorite TJ Hooker episodes below. And just to give a shout out to a website, provides tons of info on this beloved tv show.

Midnight Madness - Comic Con Edition

It's On Like Comic Con - the latest nerd mecca is in full effect right now! Maybe someday I too will join the throng of sweaty geeks begging for an autograph from a supporting actor on a cancelled syndicated sci fi show. A man can dream, can't he?

Mr Mike "Likes" This - saw The Social Network on DVD and it was pretty good, an interesting tale of modern greed and cutthroat ruthless business acumen implemented behind probably the biggest online meeting place ever. It's directed by David Fincher so of course everything looks dark and smudgy. Fincher does a good job of keeping the story moving while the actors are convincing throughout - Jesse Eisneberg does a good job of adding an intellectual coldness and social awkwardness to his usual jabber jaw persona. So it's a good flick with a fascinating message - that the people who invented the website that connects so many folks to others don't know how to get along themselves. And that the main archetect of Facebook decided he needed money more than friends. If it wasn't for the very last part at the end I'd rate this as a near classic, as it is The Social Network gets:

Yet More Drama - decided to give Yes' 1980 album Drama aka the first one without Jon Anderson a spin in my car this week. Have thoroughly enjoyed going back to songs like "Machine Messiah", "Does It Really Happen" and "Tempus Fugit".

Fire! Fire! Fire! -
heard the news that Beavis and Butthead are making a comeback. Huh huh, cool.

Out Of Touch -
why is it whenever I am in line at the grocery store I see that Teresa person from the New Jersey Real Housewives show on the cover of In Touch magazine? It feels like she's been on the cover for months, I don't read the mag but like to read the headlines of the gossip rags while waiting to have my Pepsi and chips scanned. Does she have some kind of exclusive contract to be on the cover forever? And I remember one of those headlines saying something about she can't stand all the exposure she gets. Yeah, right.

But I'm An American! - have had fun watching National Geographic's Locked Up Abroad series. Real life stories of westerners who have travelled to foreign lands usually to deal drugs and get arrested. The re-enactments are well produced and potently mixed with the real person's voice over. Most of the stories go - person goes to foreign country, sees opportunity to get rich (usually off drugs / alcohol), makes money / feels invincible dealing, gets arrested and finds out third world prisons / justice systems are no joke. The blind arrogance of these people who likely wouldn't dream of committing similar crimes in their own countries is palpable.

Back To Black
- this weekend the sad, seemingly inevitable close to the Amy Winehouse saga came to be with her passing. Despite her numerous personal issues in life I did enjoy her Back To Black album a lot. Seems fitting to close out with this track from Winehouse's last disc.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Midnight Madness - Money In The Bank edition

Today's WWE Money In The Bank PPV is not going to be ordered by me (costs too much), although I'm pretty curious about what's going to happen. I watched this week's Raw and part of Smackdown tonight and saw some exciting stuff happen. Big Show vs Mark Henry is sporting some pretty big spots (smashed cages and tackles off the entrance stage), there are multiple ladder matches (as 'ol J.R. would say, look at the carnage!) and the CM Punk / John Cena feud is the most engaging one I've seen in the 21st Century (mainly due to Punk turning shoot (a parenthesis within a parenthesis, another level of the dream world (shoot is wrasslin lingo for going off script and speaking truthfully) here's the kick out of the second parenthesis) into a meta angle all to itself). It's a rare spike in WWE energy we're seeing here. Looks good.

Don't Talk To Strangers - Or police officers, Rick Springfield was recently charged with a DUI and not charged for allegedly threatening to kill the officer's family. It's hard to tell what's sadder, that the aging teen king is still (allegedly) wasted on drink or that a murderous threat from him is so feeble the police don't bother to do anything about it.

World Start Turning - For you Springfield fans, you may notice I used a RS song title here. Almost by accident I got into watching The Core, that disaster movie by numbers flick from 2003 starring The Next Karate Kid Hillary Swank. It was a surprisingly watchable Armageddon rip off. Being a Bay Area guy I did find the destruction of the Golden Gate Bridge segment a bit insensitive imitating the Loma Prieta earthquake. Between the San Francisco fictional disaster depicted in the movie and the film title, I found my mind wandering to Eric Clapton's "The Core" and "Mean Old Frisco". It's all Slowhand's fault. Damn you Clapton, you're supposed to change the world not end it!

J.Lo and Marc Anthony split up - I'm not a huge fan of either one nor dislike them either, have the impulse to write something sarcastic about this but I actually feel bad for them.

Harry Potter and the something something something dark side is in theaters - and since I've seen none of these movies, I'm glad the series is ending. No more billboards or tv commercials clogging up my eyesight. Since I haven't seen any of these flicks who knows, maybe I missed out on the story of a lifetime. But I doubt it.

How I Met Your Stoner - Kai Penn is lined up to be in the upcoming season of How I Met Your Mother. Will they go for the obvious "eating sandwiches" gag?

Owner Of A Lonely Heart part 20: This Time It's Personal - Yes has released a video for their new single "We Can Fly". Enjoyed the song, the vid clip had a vision that waaayyy exceeded it's budget. It was reminiscent of their famous "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" clip except with the look and feel of a made for Syfy movie like Megapython vs Gatoroid. Still this is better than no video.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Midnight Madness - Debt Ceiling Edition

Uh oh, looks like the sky is falling and we're all screwed. Guess I better throw in a new post!

I Must Be Dreaming - I saw Inception and I've gotta say it lived up to the hype. It was intense,confusing yet I couldn't stop watching it. Makes me wonder what writer / director Christopher Nolan is like, all his movies have to do with a search for identity while grappling with a skewed perception of reality. Bet he's great at parties,all brooding in a corner playing with memories that may or may not be his. I was expecting this sort of wanna be The Matrix and there were definite similarities, but Inception had enough of it's own identity (ha ha) to live the dream.

The Reflex - I liked Duran Duran's lead single "All You Need Is Now" it's just too bad I can't say the same for the whole disc. The sound is nicely polished and there are parts of bass lines and keyboards that call back classic Duran, just taken as a whole it's kinda eh.

Portions For Foxes - Years after they fell off the face of the earth Rilo Kiley has broken up.

Nobody Messes With Niko Belic - working on my Niko imitation after playing a bit of GTA 4. Which of course sounds like a bad imitation of Borat. "I steal car now, you like?"

Don't Look Down!- I've gone back to listening to my favorite Lindsey Buckingham album Out Of The Cradle and finds it's still plenty awesome.

Swan Dive - Seems like someone's working overtime to make sure we know there's a new movie called Friends With Benefits coming starring Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake. It wasn't that long ago we were inundated with commercials for a movie with Ashton Kutcher and Natalie Portman in what sounds like the same plot - two friends try to have a sexual relationship without romantic feelings. It's like they're going to keep making the same movie with different people over and over until we give in and watch the damn thing. Which is an even bigger waste of time when you realize we can see Kunis and Kutcher get together for free five times a day in That 70s Show reruns.

Full Speed Ahead Captain - I lost interest in Thor after it came out (maybe because it doesn't look like the Thor I know, where were the red wrist sweat bands for example?) though Captain America looks promising.

By George, I think he's got it - this commercial for Bacardi throws me each time I see it 'cause it sounds like someone copied George Clooney's speech mannerisms. It's like one of those things I never thought of, Clooney has a specific style of speaking, until I heard it in this context. I am aware of his whole "I'm staring at you when I talk" thing that I find annoying, it's like "C'mon guy at least blink or something instead of delivering dialog as if you're in a staring contest with a dog". Not to say he isn't a good actor or anything (place Batman & Robin cheapshot here) I'm just amazed someone copied the way he talks.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Proof That Chris Cornell Likes The 4th Of July

I've come to the conclusion that Chris Cornell likes the 4th Of July for the following reasons:

1) Soundgarden has a song called "4th Of July"
2) There are a lot of fireworks in the Audioslave video "Cochise"

I rest my case.

Happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Rolling Away


Man, I was bummed that Raphael Saadiq's new opus wasn't better than it was. I've been looking forward to this album for a good month or two before it came out. The song "Good Man" is easily my favorite song so far this year, a brilliant combo of retro soul with a hint of modern day hip hop. And the song "Stone Rollin"? Awesome blues groove that any artist would love to lay claim to. Saadiq definitely has good taste, his ability to channel classic R&B passion with sturdy songwriting and present day spirit can generate strong results like 2008's The Way I See It. So it's a shame that beyond the two songs I love the rest of the material on Stone Rollin comes across as impressive yet hollow sonic experiments. Particularly "Go To Hell", "Daydream" and "Over You", those songs are just plain forgettable. The rest goes down easy and have catchy bits but still pass by inconsequentially.