Back in the late 80s and early 90s, one of my favorite comics writers was Gerard Jones. At the time, he was writing some really fun – and sometimes really different – stuff in the trio of Green Lantern-related books. He did some Batman work, which I could take or leave, and he worked on a Justice League comic (at first with a co-writer and later solo) that was pretty funny. He was clearly liberal, but he was a lot more intelligent than most lightweight armchair libs writing comics, and even went against the liberal line at times. Mostly, his work was just smarter than the usual by-the-numbers crap that was and still is being published.
His work seemed to take a dip around 1993, though, and in a few years he didn’t seem to be writing much for comics anymore, if at all. I believe part of that had to do with clashes with editorial, which was undergoing changes at the time. I saw his name again in the local newspaper’s comics page around 2000 – he was writing a Pokemon strip.
He wrote a few non-fiction books in the 2000s, but I didn’t keep up with those. I heard very little about him after that until today, when I discovered he was arrested about a week ago for possessing kiddie porn and uploading it to YouTube.
I’ve long learned to separate the art from the artist. And he hasn’t been proven guilty yet. But there are limits. I doubt I’ll ever really enjoy his work again.
Have some music to rock out the old year and ring in the new!
See you in 2017!
In Current Year, Russia criticizes you for being Godless.
I grew up in the 80s, when things were quite the opposite. A short and not-really-exaggerated summary –
I just read over at Vox Popoli that George Michael of Wham! died today, Christmas Day.
I liked some of their music back in the 80s, and this has been a perennial radio staple this time of year ever since it was released –
This one’s heavy on video, yo. But it’s smooth.
In 1978, the Doobie Brothers released their album Minute By Minute, containing the song “What A Fool Believes”….
…and, of course, it became a hit. So smooth.
Comare and contrast with Robbie Dupree’s 1980 single titled “Steal Away”…
…which seems to be exactly what happened here. Very suspiciously similar.
According to this site, Dupree’s song also was, uh, inspired by Eddie Money’s 1977 song “Baby Hold On.” I can kind of hear it.
Doobie Bro Michael McDonald had this happen with another song, 1982’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” –
The song was sampled in 1994 by Warren G and Nate Dogg in “Regulate” [mildly NSFW]-
A completely and totally 100% absolutely true and smooth account of how this came about was related on the internet series Yacht Rock [also a bit NSFW]. And “Hollywood Steve,” the host of the show, is a real life music critic.
However, “I Keep Forgettin'” itself is heavily inspired by Chuck Jackson’s 1963 song titled, amazingly, “I Keep Forgettin'” –
McDonald’s version is sometimes listed as a cover of Jackson’s song, but there are differences. Although sharing credit with the writers of Jackson’s song, McDonald does get a songwriting credit on his version.
Michael’s old friends in Steely Dan had their own run-in with this sort of thing. From 1977, their song “Black Cow” –
…which got sampled in 1997 by Lord Tariq & Peter Gunz for their single “Uptown Baby” [you know it’s NSFW]-
The opening of the song features another sample, Amores Como El Nuestro by Jerry Rivera.
Turns out The Dan weren’t happy with Tariq and Gunz sampling the song and causing Walter and Donald some difficulties. Peter Gunz discusses it here (a little NSFW language in there).
Not long after that, Tatyana Ali released her 1998 single “Daydreamin'” (lots of apostrophes in music, apparently), where Tariq and Gunz sampled themselves sampling “Black Cow” in some kind of recursive loop and rapped on it –
“I heard Steely Dan “Black Cow” and went wild!”
Some truly monster-ous mashups for your Halloween.
One of the first mashups to go big was Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” crossed with Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” circa 1983 –
By the 90s, mashups were becoming quite the thing, and during the 2000s (especially with everyone having a computer and YouTube coming online), mashups exploded. Most are crap, but some are really good, such as this Daft Punk/Adele mix –
DJs and home remixers began digging up old classics to mix with more modern songs –
A Korn song was massively improved by combining it with a Cure song –
There was a real video for that song, but it’s gone now. Had a neat Escher ending, not to mention Robert Smith getting slowly eaten by the Spider Man (no, not that Spider-Man).
Disco is a prime fountain of pure unrefined mashup material. Especially when mixed with the most incongruous types of music –
Speaking of incongruities, this takes the cake right out of the rain –
It works so well!
Dance music goes well with more classically-influenced works –
Who knew Enya could spit rhymes like that?
If you feel like your childhood has been violated, your teen years touched inappropriately, your college years…. well, something involving microaggressions and a rape hoax, I’m sure… then this song is dedicated to you.
Back around 1984, I used to watch a lot of MTV (which likely explains a lot about me). I also watched other music programs like Night Tracks, Friday Night Videos, and Night Flight. So I was often viewing strange music videos at 2 in the morning or later (Night Flight was especially damaging… they would show experimental movie shorts and bizarre comedy skits and who knows what other surreal stuff. It’s also where I first saw “Bambi vs. Godzilla.” I loved Night Flight!).
One such bizarreness was Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit!” –
Imagine being 14 years old in the 80s, when MTV and all this stuff was still kind of new, and seeing that at 4 in the morning.
The song was awesome, though – Herbie totally nailed the vibe of the time with the record scratching and synth sound. So awesome that he was nominated for a Grammy award, where he performed “Rockit!” live. I believe I saw it when it originally aired. Pay attention to this one –
Didn’t see that coming.
Also, watch after the song to see Michael McDonald announce the nominations for Best R&B Performance and see who Herbie was up against. Nice remix of the winning song (Spoiler: it wasn’t Michael Jackson) at the end.
Everyone knows Thomas Dolby’s classic song, “She Blinded Me With Science!” But he’s had quite a career since that song. A couple of his songs appeared in last weekend’s “No Static At All” post, “Radio Silence” and a live version of “Commercial Breakup.” Go give them a listen.
Before releasing his first album, The Golden Age Of Wireless, Dolby did synthesizer arrangements on Foreigner’s songs”Waiting for a Girl Like You” and “Urgent,” the latter also featuring saxophone by Junior Walker. Walker later recorded his own (Dolby-less)version of the song with his All-Stars, which can be heard here.
Kicking off this Studio proper is a 1983 “Live Wireless” concert in its entirety –
In 1985, he appeared onstage at the Grammy Awards with Units 1,2, and 4 in a synthesizer showdown –
“…the big surprise was I didn’t expect Thomas Dolby to come out in that amazing wig and tuxedo — which is so him, you know, and brilliant. And that tiny little keyboard!” – Howard Jones, who also explains why some of the performance was prerecorded.
A lot of it was prerecorded stuff that we’d already done in the studio because of the ambition of it, because it was using that amount of technology. I don’t think anybody would have been brave enough to play everything live! So we played some things over the top of it, and then the rest of it was pre-done in studio. I think that’s the only way to have achieved it for the Grammys. I think it would have been very risky otherwise!
Dig those keytars!
More recently, Dolby was involved with “The Toadlickers,” combining techno, bluegrass, and parkour –
He also worked on an online multiplayer game which coincided with his album of the same name, Map Of The Floating City, set in an alternate history. As he described it, “The Floating City is set against a dystopian vision of the 1940s that might have existed had WWII turned out a lot differently.”
Map of the Floating City playlist –
Finally, we finish with Dolby performing his signature song “She Blinded Me With Science!” at Moogfest in 2012, with some commentary about Magnus Pyke and the San Francisco Giants –
I first heard of Dead Or Alive around 1984, when the video for “I’d Do Anything” was in brief rotation on MTV. I had become somewhat accustomed to New Wave and other alternative music thanks to MTV, and even the radio was playing some oddball stuff here and there. But it was still a bit different and catchy in its own way., and never really caught fire.
The singer, whose name I didn’t know then, seemed to be really good, but he struck me as pretty damned weird.
Around spring or summer of 1985, the song “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record) hit the airwaves and just exploded. It was in constant rotation on radio and MTV for a good while.
It kind of dropped off after a few months, but was usually featured in any kind of 80s-themed event. Eventually it started getting airplay again, and I still sometimes hear it on the radio even now.
Time to put the needle on the record. No sucker Djs, just two turntables and a microphone on the avenue by Radio City with a transistor.
Wdydfae commented on the last post about his memories of radio –
My inchoate fragments of radio memories don’t coalesce into a particular story. Radio wasn’t a big part of my childhood, as far as I can remember, unless I was riding in someone’s car and it happened to be playing.
…Then it moves into adulthood, and radio was in another country and language. Basically, lousy radio selection–just not a radio culture. Then I realized the radio riches I had left behind, with at least a channel for just about any genre you could want. So, belatedly I appreciated that the radio world of the States is vibrant–lot of stuff out there, and a whole way of talking, presenting yourself, presenting sound, pacing things.
Read the full comment here.
Kicking off with Steely Dan’s classic”FM” in spectacular style…. From the YouTube channel of the Empire State Building, followed by a big block of tunes to crank up to 11 –
“On October 29, 2015, the 50th anniversary of the installation of a Master FM Antenna on the top of the Empire State Building, the global landmark synchronized its world-famous tower lights to Steely Dan’s 1978 smash ‘FM (No Static At All).'”
Bonus points if you saw a young Geordi La Forge or maybe Tom & Jerry in there.
Hope you enjoyed the music.