Posts tagged ‘entertainment’

Ray Coniff His Orchestra and Chorus – Mack The Knife [1963]

He had the chops to be considered the King Of Easy Listening.

When I think of instrumental versions of popular songs, I always think of Ray Coniff and His Orchestra. As a band leader, he was great. And to get what could easily be called “The Ray Coniff Sound,” he added choral parts over the instruments. Still without words, the vocals added an element to the songs that seemed to smooth everything out.

Listen to his version of Mack The Knife from 1963, digitized from glorious vinyls, and you’ll see what I mean!

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Quiet Riot’s “Metal Health” From 1983 Gets Its Due Attention In 2013

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Lately I’ve been digitizing some songs from my record collection, pulling sources from albums I’ve had for decades – or ones that I’ve found at thrift stores over the years. It’s pretty hard to pass up a 99-cent copy of Herb Alpert, Sergio Mendes, Sarah Vaughan, or Henry Mancini, when you still have a working record player. I mean, seriously…single MP3 tracks off Amazon or Apple cost that, and only if that vintage track is available at all. I can get the whole album for the same price?

Here’s my dollar, Ms. Cashier.

Plus of course, there is the argument over the “warmth” of listening to analog recordings from vinyl. Frankly my ear isn’t well tuned enough to hear anything shrill in digital remasters. I will say this: there is a familiarity to hearing the “clicks and pops” of a record, something tangible and tactile on a turntable playing a song for me through a vinyl track of glory.

Life isn’t perfect, and therefore the soundtrack to life shouldn’t necessarily demand perfection.

Last night I was putting away canned goods in the pantry when I spied a box of records that hadn’t been touched in a while. Taking a quick look inside exposed a few items I had owned since the 1980s, along with some other items given to me by friends when they gave away their record player in the early 1990s. One of those albums is the one you see here: Metal Health by Quiet Riot.

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Of course there’s nothing quiet about it; Metal Health was standard-issue early-80s rock, courtesy of the blaring-yet-powerful high-pitched vocals of Kevin DuBrow, mixed with the hook-heavy guitar solos of Carlos Cavazo and solid backing by Frankie Banali and Rudy Sarzo. Since its release in 1983, the album has sold over 6 million copies. Quiet Riot was a seasoned crew of performers by this time, having been together for a decade. They played many of the same venues as Van Halen during the 1970s. While not achieving the same notoriety as other L.A. rock bands of the era, they continued to play until 2007, when singer DuBrow was found dead of a cocaine overdose at his home. They reformed in 2010; none of the original early-70s line up remains.

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On my copy of the album the first track is titled “Metal Health,” which according to resources makes it part of the first release. On subsequent releases of the album, the track was retitled as “Bang Your Head (Metal Health)” – which is what most people called it anyway. Much like The Who’s Baba O’Riley being called “Teenage Wasteland” by most of the listening public.

Metal Health is considered widely to be Quiet Riot’s largest hit and, thanks to the 2013 Superbowl, has seen a worthy tribute 30 years later as part of a really funny Hyundai commercial – the two versions of which are posted below:

And if you’re itching to hear the original song in its epic entirety, here’s the track I digitized from my LP version. All Hail Vinyl!

Twisting with Carl Stevens and His Orchestra [1962]

99-cents isn’t a lot anymore.

Despite that, it can still get a few good things.  For example, I picked up this album today at Goodwill because I didn’t have any Twist music in my collection.  Besides, the cover is kinda cute 🙂

What I found was so upbeat that I can’t stop listening to it.

I don’t know much about Carl Stevens, but I can say this album is mid-paced, happy, and makes fun of itself.  Most of it is without words, but when they do sing it’s in goofy voices.  There are twangy guitars, fast versions of old standards, and plenty of percussion.

In short, this 99-cent album is fun!

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The Earworm Masters #1 – Michael Murphey’s “Wildfire” [1975]

Is it soft rock, pop, or country? Seems to me the inaugural Earworm Masters song is a little bit of all three. The smooth melodies mixed with a story filled with mystery kept half of America fixated on what the song was about. In fact, the song Wildfire came from a dream Michael Murphey had, one which hinged on a story told by his grandfather.

I can still hear the hum of the tubes in my AM Radio when listening to this.

If you’re my age – forty something or more – you know the chorus, word for word.  Don’t worry…it’s not a bad thing 🙂

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When I Grow Up, I’m Gonna Be On Youtube [1973]

YOU will grown up someday
YOU will get a job
YOU will be working

This educational film tells kids, in kind words, that the time will come when they stop goofing around the yard and start taking their goofing off to the streets. It talks about how grown-ups want to do things that contribute to families and the community. It does this through the display of wicked 70s fashion and an upbeat “I’m Okay You’re Okay” soundtrack.

Who would have imagined – in 1973 – that the film would be taken off the reels and digitized for all to see on Youtube?

So embrace the course knits, the groovy plaids, and shiny free-hanging hair with your whole 70s heart and enjoy the trip!

Santa Claus Conquers the Martians [1964]

It has been called “one of the worst films ever.”

Santa Claus Conquers The Martians tells the story of Martian children who have been watching “Earth TV” and are now pining for Santa Claus to visit their planet with toys and happiness.  The tale is told through the magic of hardware-store sets and Halloween-quality makeup.  I first saw this film on a cold December Saturday in 197, when I was a mere ten years old – in glorious black and white.  Even as a kid I remember thinking to myself, “What the hell am I watching?” It insulted my senses, and just seemed to be a horrible spectacle done in cardboard.

In the 1990s it was given the MST Treatment on Mystery Science Theater 3000, with the program’s signature humor commentary added to the movie.

Of course Santa wins out with his kindness and the bad Martians are defeated for the betterment of the entire Red Planet.  Goofy Dropo (Bill McCutcheon), the Jar Jar Binks character in the movie, becomes the new Martian Santa Claus after he takes a somewhat-awkward liking to the Big Man’s red suit, trying it on in secret.  Then all the kids sing “Hooray for Santee Claus” and the world spins normally once more.

Now thanks to a recent rights release into the Public Domain, you can watch the movie in its entirety above for free, courtesy of Hulu!  The film’s makers did not renew the rights (wonder why), so it is ready for us all to…umm…enjoy.

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What Martian would be legit without tubes coming out of their helmets?

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Voldar (Vincent Beck, on left), has the best mustache in the movie.  As one of the Martian children, the film also stars a very young Pia Zadora, who now entertains audiences from the stages of Las Vegas.

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Hoo-Ray for Santee Claus!

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Raquel Welch: Heck Yeah!

She is smart, beautiful, shapely, a bit irreverent, and an entertainment force of nature.

Raquel Welch is one of the original Sixties sex kittens, and a classic poster girl.  Many of her images – like Marilyn Monroe – still sell well in poster form.  At 71, she is still a looker.  Early on she wanted to be ballet dancer, but was told she didn’t have the right body to be one.  Lucky break for the rest of us, because we have been able to enjoy her company on TV and in movies ever since.

Jordan Smith is a huge fan, and has collected a number of pictures of Raquel over the years; he’s posted them all on Flickr for our review.

Enjoy!

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Party Like It’s 1970

Nothing says “Living It Up Seventy-Style” like earthy tones, sideburns, wine made from things other than grapes, and wood paneling under harsh florescent kitchen lights.

For those of us who grew up in the 1970s, the sight of people gathered around dark wood and formica is burned into our brains.  These were our parents, frolicking on any weekend evening in their native habitat: the kitchen and the living room.  Of course, we kids were sequestered to our rooms or to the basement to watch Brady Bunch while they talked about politics upstairs with friends.  The low rumble of laughing in another part of the house – tied to the smell of percolated coffee – is still fresh in my head.

Pillsbury published the Entertainment Idea Handbook in 1970, which outlined tips on everything from conducting a wine tasting to decor.  It’s actually quite handy, with great recipes and party suggestions.  Its color pictures are also very unforgettable.  They highlight a social life well placed between the freestyle Sixties and the Malaise Seventies, where people in their twenties savor the spoils of their world in naive happiness and bold prints.

For this post I have created a fictitious 1970 party, by using the pictures from the Pillsbury guide.  Enjoy!

Glen and Linda Arrive

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The young couple brought their own rack.  The rest of the wine is out in the trunk of the Road Runner.  Glen has a taste for Tiger Beer, which he consumed in sizable quantities while stationed in Saigon.  But stateside he’s had to change the pace and switch to the grape – wife’s orders.  He still resists, steering towards hard liq instead.

Linda is 64 now, and still looks like Raquel Welch.  But then, so does Raquel Welch.

Meat Tree

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Appetizers await; this one’s a masterpiece of meat, fruit, and olives – skewered through a head of cabbage.  Think of it as an artist’s rendition of a  Soviet Satellite done in food.  If anything, it tasted better than this:

It’s Arti-Choking Me!

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An enthusiastic partier dips an artichoke leaf in french dressing.  Second custard cup from the right looks like it’s filled with mayonnaise.  Yeah, there’s a combo…artichoke and mayo.  Very possible it’s mayo’s tangy cousin Miracle Whip.  I’d be more inclined to christen that artichoke leaf with spray cheese before ladling it through that goo.

Let’s be honest: The artichoke looks like an miniature alien will be popping out of the top at any moment.

Social Hour `70

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They’re the Young Generation, and they’ve got something to say…to each other!

These are the men and women who tamed the Seventies,  Fresh and excited about the future, they celebrate their upcoming triumphs in laughter on a Friday night – lubricated by communal charm, posturing, and tumblers filled with alcohol.  In five years time, the good laughs would be replaced by PTA meetings on Thursdays and episodes of Six-Million Dollar Man on Fridays. No doubt that at least one person in this crowd owned a yellow Porsche 914.

I’m talking to you, Blue Velvet Suit Coat Guy…

Speaking Their Minds

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Lita’s black and white print dress catches the eye of Stan, who has been working with her husband at the plant now for three years.

Brad compliments Lynn on her burgundy sash and explains in animated detail how beautiful it is against her white dress.  He’s hoping for that date she promised in college.  She’s hoping he notices her wedding ring.

Shelley and Maya are content to sit and discuss General Hospital over Cabernet.

Glen shares a Highball and a little floor time with his boss, Mr. Pennington.

“Yes, Mr. Pennington – that pipe tobacco smells great.  ”

“No Mr. Pennington – I actually think that bald is beautiful.”

“Well Mr. Pennington – I agree that me working next Saturday is good for the company’s bottom line; I sure hope you have fun golfing then.”

King of The Cheese Tray

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Under the watchful wrought-iron sentry of chained gothic candle art, guests devour appetizers.  Cliff has no resistance whatsoever, to the piles of crackers and bowls laden with liquidy cheese product that adorn the living room table.  And why should he have any?  Since the bypass last year, these tasty snacks no longer giving him heartburn!

Marge knows to stay out of his way when it comes to cheese, preferring to nibble a single cracker by his side while nursing the Cosmopolitan in her left hand.  Denise and Laura agree that the crackers are wonderful, and each grab a symbolic single cracker in order to pretend eating.  They’re saving space for the Fondue.


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In the kitchen, all the elements of party success are assembled on the counters, under the dark wood cabinets and curtains patterned after dish towels.  Linda’s wine rack is filled and at the ready.  Candles are lit, blending the aromas of vanilla, berries, and a random Kool menthol to create an ambiance of smoky comfort. Laura has set up a wine tasting center – complete with:


Booze Candles!!

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What day in 1970 would be complete without dripping multi-colored stalagmites of wax?  Ten bucks says the bottle on the left once held fermented loganberries.


Wicker Anything!!

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Is the vine plastic?  Only the host knows, because it’s placed high above an avocado-green rotary wall phone in the kitchen.


Savoring Life’s Fermented Fruit

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Ron – in all his argyle finery – tries a newfangled “California Wine” that recently arrived on the market. He smells something that raises alarm, which brings a concerned scowl to his face.  Linda was almost successful in convincing Glen to have a taste; but after spending a half hour placating Mr. Pennington, her husband instead chose to conquer another Highball and the giant cheese globe with Cliff.

Time For Fondue!

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Gently placing the food around the table, Laura prepares for her guests’ enjoyment by providing tomatoes, mushrooms, and all other sorts of rounded food – ready for dipping in scalding goo.  The print in her dress is from the Summer Of Love Collection at J.C. Penney.


Space-Age Hot Tub for Meat

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Main Course

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Real parties have bowls of raw meat, dinner lava, and endless glasses of brandy.  So says Pillsbury.


Bring on the Veggies!

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Since Green Beans Supreme were cooked in 1970, it’s very likely that butter and salt were involved.  Lots. of butter and salt.  At least they didn’t add this to Jell-O.

Minus the mushrooms, we are making this for a family gathering soon.

Melted Chocolate Makes Everything Fonduier

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Hope they waited until the fruit and marshmallows were gone before dipping the raw meat in there.


Dessert Contemplation

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Scowling Ron considers the shape of Laura’s dessert offering, staring sternly for several awkward minutes.  Linda, Glen and Lynn shroud their mental health concerns in silence – with good-natured smiles.  They all know about Ron’s problem…

The Man says, “You’re done in this town.”

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After he eats this artfully-crafted orange, Lindall “Wes” Galvin will decide your future from behind an important-looking dark wood desk – heavier than a VW Beetle and covered with rotary telephones and a gold pens.  The presence of Rosé near his plate may be your only chance at keeping a job.

Designer Dessert

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Awesome swirly rough-crafted coffee mug – likely filled with Folgers – is presented along with a slice of coconut coffee cake.

After 2750 calories of fondue, 1000 calories of wine, and a 850 calories of cheese off the waxy wheel, each 1970 party goer is nearly full after this tasty dessert – and ready to sit back with a Marlboro.  It has been a great gathering, a place to recharge and catch up.  Forty years from this night, they will be immortalized in a computerized media form no one had ever thought of!

Marx TV Tennis [1977]

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It wasn’t actually a TV, but it provided hours of entertainment for the stunning Mrs. BelRedRoad and her brother.

The Marx TV Tennis game was released in 1975, as a completely mechanical version of the game Pong. The “ball” is actually an illuminated flashlight bulb connected by long rubber springs to the player’s control knobs.

This was a Christmas gift from their Mom in 1977.  Cost: $34.95 plus tax.  While the TV Tennis game itself is long gone, the box has been kicking around our garage now for as long as I can remember – holding various family stuff like toys and such.  But that too had to end, when the box started to fall apart. Before recycling it, I did the right thing and scanned all the artwork.

Enjoy the colors and the retro-tech!

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An interactive game run by a series of rubber bands and plastic gears?  Choke on that, Android App 🙂

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The above picture was the entire side of the box.  To present it here, I had to to six different scans on my flatbed scanner and then stitch them together in Windows Live Photo Gallery.

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The game was shipped to – and purchased from – Lake Hills Toys in Bellevue WA.  While the Sixties-era strip mall still exists, the store is gone.

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Introducing The Big Wheels, the neighborhood gang who found TV Tennis to be the most amazing thing to ever hit the unfinished basements of suburbia.  Jeffrey exemplifies the insecure kid in the neighborhood who only had friends because he put on an air of intelligence.  He got beat up a lot. I have no idea what Wendy is talking about, since the most successful multi-tasking I’ve seen comes from Mrs. BelRedRoad.  Daniel, you’re 7.  Why on Earth would you watch real Tennis on TV?  Oh yeah…Chris Evert.  Noodles grew up to be high-powered track coach.

Shrimp is on the most epic riding toy. Ever.

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