Remember That Song: 4/24/15

Hair’s to Friday!!!

Can you name the artist artist and song song:

I know it’s silly
But girl I really thought we had a chance
I must’ve been crazy


Last Song: “Photograph” by Def Leppard from Pyromania (1983)

Great job Frida (@carrjam94)!!!

I’d be your lover, if you were there
Put your hurt on me, if you dare

Return to the ’80s Movies: Big Trouble in Little China

Starring
Kurt Russell
Kim Cattrall
Dennis Dun
James Hong
Victor Wong

Rated PG-13

Runtime  99 minutes

Released  July 2, 1986

 

 

Synopsis: Kurt Russell plays hard-boiled truck driver Jack Burton, who gets caught in a bizarre conflict within, and underneath, San Francisco’s Chinatown. An ancient Chinese prince and Chinatown crime lord has kidnapped a beautiful green-eyed woman, who is the fiancee to Jack’s best friend. Jack must help his friend rescue the girl before the evil Lo Pan uses her to break the ancient curse that keeps him a fleshless and immortal spirit.

Last time I had seen this? Never

What I knew about this movie before watching it Not much. I knew Kurt Russell was in it. I had forgotten that this was a John Carpenter movie. I also knew it was an action/adventure movie.

Review/Summary: Truck driver Jack Burton (Kurt Russell) brings his friend Wang Chi (Dennis Dun) to the San Francisco airport to pick up Wang’s fiancee Miao Yin (Suzee Pai), who is arriving from China. While waiting at the airport, Gracie Law (Kim Cattrall) catches the eye of Jack. She is there to pick up another Chinese girl. As the passengers arrive from their flight, a gang tries to kidnap Gracie’s friend. Jack interferes, but they end up taking Miao Yin instead. Jack and Wang get in the truck and try to hunt down the kidnappers.
They end up in an alley, where they stumble upon a funeral procession that quickly erupts into a street fight between two gangs. Then three supernatural ninjas appear, and begin to slaughter the good gang. Jack and Wang get out of dodge by driving off. Then a sorcerer looking guy appears in front of Jack’s truck. Jack plowed him over. Jack gets freaked out and gets out of the truck, only to find the sorcerer behind the truck unscathed, and annoyed. Wang grabs Jack and they take off on foot before they get themselves killed.

They regroup at a restaurant that Wang owns, where they meet up with Gracie, Wang’s friend Eddie Lee (Donald Li), and magician Egg Shen (Victor Wong). Then they explain to Jack (and us) the story of Lo Pan (James Hong), the sorcerer that Jack ran over. Lo Pan and his men run a brothel, in San Francisco’s Chinatown, where they sell women as sex slaves – which is why they went to the airport to capture Gracie’s friend.

Jack and Wang go to rescue Miao Yin from Lo Pan. Instead, they get captured. They are brought to Lo Pan, who is now in the form of an ancient looking old man. Lo Pan needs a special green-eyed girl to break an ancient curse, and he intends to sacrifice Miao Yin. Centuries ago, Lo Pan, a great warrior and powerful wizard, was defeated by an emperor. The Emperor placed a curse on Lo Pan where his flesh disappears. Lo Pan can temporarily recover his body a little. But, in order for him to permanently break the curse and regain his human form, he must marry a woman with green eyes (which Miao Yin happens to have). And to satisfy the Emperor, he must sacrifice her.

Jack and Wang manage to escape, and free the sex slaves. Gracie and Eddie had gotten there in time to help. As they escaped the building Gracie gets captured. And as it turns out, she has green eyes too. Lo Pan decides to sacrifice Gracie, and make Miao Yin his wife. Wang and Jack go to see Egg Shen, and with the help of the good gang from earlier – Chang Sing – they enter an underground cavern to return to Lo Pan’s headquarters. Egg gives everybody a potion that makes them feel invincible. They arrive at the ceremony where Lo Pan is trying to break his curse, and a huge final battle ensues.

I was expecting an action movie, but nothing like this! This was a combination of standard action as well as supernatural action. And of course, action that is reminiscent of Kung Fu Theater. The movie was also funny, and had some great quotes. Kurt Russell was incredible. I still have yet to see a Kurt Russell movie that I did not like. Technically, this movie was a flop, grossing just $11.1 million with a $25 million budget. But, it has developed a cult following – justifiable so. Another great thing about the movie was the soundtrack. The music was written by John Carpenter, and nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Music. It was his trademark synthesizer/rock music style.

Some scenes were over-the-top crazy, especially with the death of one of the villains towards the end of the movie. But, this movie was so much fun! I can’t believe I had gone this long without seeing it. If you like Action/Adventure Comedies mixed with Kung Fu, I would highly recommend this movie.

Does the movie stand the test of time? Yes. I feel that the action is pretty timeless. Some effects did look a little cheesy, but that was what made it fun. This movie stands the test of time on its own. If it was ever remade, the remake would pale in comparison. So leave this movie alone, Hollywood!!!!

Worth the Return? Yes!!! This was a fun movie, and I would go back and watch it when I get a chance.

Rating 4 sets of green eyes

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Have any of you seen this movie? What do you think? Do you have any favorite quotes?  I love this exchange:

Lo Pan: Ching Dai will be appeased, my curse will be lifted!

Jack Burton: And you can go on to rule the universe from beyond the grave.

Lo Pan: Indeed!

Jack Burton: Or check into a psycho ward, whichever comes first, right?

Wang Chi: Jack, will you…?

Jack Burton: “Jack” what? I’m supposed to buy this shit? 2000 years, he can’t find one broad to fit the bill? Come on, Dave, you must be doing something seriously wrong!

Toto’s Mark on the Musical Landscape of the ‘80s

Today, I am pleased to present this article written by Robert, our regular Return to the ’80s contributor. Today’s article is about one of my favorite bands – Toto. I loved them from the first time I heard them – 1982’s smash hit “Africa”. They have so many other incredible songs. Robert will take you on a journey to enjoy some of their hits once again, and help us discover more awesome Toto music. OK, Robert, I Won’t Hold You Back, so go ahead and take it away!



The recent death of Toto’s bass player Mike Porcaro in March due to complication form ALS has made the rock world a little less perfect. Toto is one of those band that straddles the line for most rock fans. Nearly everyone recognized a few of their songs, but few casual rock listeners could name more than a handful. Toto’s hit songs are in many aspects, timeless – they appeal to a wide range of listeners from several decades.

This is not meant to be a complete history of Toto, rather an homage to a group of fantastic musicians who have left an indelible mark on the rock world. Toto was originally formed in 1977 when studio musicians David Paich (keyboards) and Jeff Porcaro (drums) recruited friends Steve Lukather (guitars), Dave Hungate (bass), Steve Porcaro (keyboards), and Bobby Kimball (vocals) to create their own band. As with many bands, members change and the band is forced to evolve. Mike Porcaro, the brother of Jeff and Steve, joined Toto in 1982 and was a member of the band until 2007, when his ALS Diagnosis forced him to retire. Members of Toto played and wrote music for like likes of Boz Scaggs, Steely Dan, Seals and Croft, and Sonny and Cher; but it was not until the formation of Toto that their talents were allowed to soar.

Clearly the members of Toto have plenty of musical experience to be considered masterful studio players. One of the most successful and forgotten (or unknown) examples is by virtuoso guitarist Steve Lukather. Lukather was a major player on Michael Jackson’s mega album Thriller. Lukather played on many of the tracks. In a recent interview on Dutch television, when asked about how much he played on Thriller, Lukather humbly uttered, “Over 50%. And it was a blast.” Everyone knows that Eddie Van Halen plays the searing guitar solo on “Beat It“. What many do not know is that Lukather is the master of the rest of the song’s killer guitar work.

When considering the music of Toto, I cannot conceivably discuss all of it in the space here- it would not be fair to them. Instead, I am going to take a look at the big singles that the band released in the ‘80s, eleven hits to remind all of us about how good Toto is. This greatest hits entry is not (and not meant to be) a complete retrospective. Toto released five studio albums between the years 1981 and 1988. These album represent a clear high point of the band commercially due to the eight Top 40 hits (the had two previous to the ‘80s). Despite several lineup changes, which in the ‘80s included three different lead vocalists, Toto was able to maintain high quality music through excellent musicianship, solid writing, and sheer talent.

Rosanna (album: Toto IV) #2

This was the first single off this Grammy award winning album. The song itself won the Grammy for song of the year and helped the album Toto IV becomes the band’s most commercially successful release. Legend has it that this song is about actress Rosanna Arquette (yes, the one who will soon film Desperately Seeking Susan). Despite this often heard story, songwriter and keyboardist Steve Porcaro has denied this in several interviews. The song is one of the many that features Toto’s fantastic musicianship that has its roots in the members long time involvement as studio musicians. Yes, it is catchy and the chorus is great, but do not stop the song too early or you will miss the tight sound Toto produced as a unit. The video does feature Cynthia Rhodes (the future star of Dirty Dancing and Mrs. Richard Marx).

Africa (album: Toto IV) #1

This song has always been of my favorites by Toto because it strikes me as being a bit different than the rest of their music. This song was one of my early experiences with Toto. I can remember playing this song non stop for hours. The keyboards are soothing and match the smooth beat and bass line along with Paisch’s vocals. The chorus is one that has always stuck with me and pops in my head at the strangest times- I don’t mind, I just leave it there: “It’s gonna to take a lot to drag me away from / There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.” This is Toto’s only #1 single and holds a strong place in the overall canon of ‘80s music.

Make Believe (album: Toto IV) #30

This song once again demonstrates Toto’s creative music talents that cannot be pigeonholed. It features a soaring saxaphone that highlights the great piano work. Lyrically, the song returns to the lost love story – a love that the speaker wishes he could get back, “Always remember – we met in the pouring rain / You were content and we went our separate ways / No matter which way the wind blows, I’ll hang on to it anyhow / Don’t ever say it could never be the same.”

I Won’t Hold You Back (album: Toto IV) #10

This is an excellent ballad and Toto’s third Top 10 single from Toto IV. This is a simple, but powerful song about guilt and the toll it can take on our hearts. I have always been intrigued by the fact that there are several band members who serve as lead vocalist. On Toto IV alone, the four hits have three different lead singers – this one features guitarist Steve Lukather. Not only is he one of the top rock guitarists (and underrated), his voice is smooth and fits this soulful song perfectly. This video is a live version that displays his great talent – and his solo is great!

Stranger in Town (album: Isolation) #30

This song is the first single from Toto’s album that features new lead singer Fergie Fredricksen. He was brought in to replace Bobby Kimball who was having drug related issues. Richard Page from Mr. Mister was asked to join Toto but he refused because he wanted to stay with his band (and we know what is coming from them). I have no good reason, but I have always liked this song. I discovered it one day as I was sifting through my girlfriend’s record collection. I was on the lookout for records I did not own, and, while she did not have many, this was one of them. I am not sure how I missed buying this one – I owned (and loved Toto IV) – perhaps this is a result of the poor airplay it received as well as the lack of a positive critical response. It is a bit of an uncharacteristic song from Toto. The lyrics are a bit story-like and focus on several sightings of a stranger- a bit of a mystery, I suppose. I do like the chorus: simple, but with a few guitar chords that I have always enjoyed. This song is catchy, but does not have the typical Toto musical punch, although Lukather’s guitar almost saves it.

Hollyanna (album: Isolation) #71

As the chart placement suggests, this was not a huge hit for Toto, but it was the second, and last, single released from Isolation. One thing that Toto has typically been known for is a song or two with a female name as a title. This song is not bad as it is another that features Paisch on both piano and vocals. The lyrics are not deep or thought provoking, but the song is catchy and worthy of a little attention.

I’ll Be Over You (album: Fahrenheit) #11

“Would Toto’s third lead vocalist of the ‘80s please take the stage.” That vocalist would be Joseph Williams, who will be featured on Toto’s last two albums of the ‘80s. This song is another very smooth ballad that features a lie. The speaker in the song has lost a special someone and is lying to himself- he doesn’t need her and she will soon be forgotten – yeah, right, “As soon as my heart stops breaking / Anticipating / As soon as forever is through, I’ll be over you.” This song received substantial airplay and was helped out by backing vocalist Michael McDonald. The video is shot on a rooftop (a bit cliche, but I love it) and shows Lukather on vocals, once again letting his talent shine through. I listened to this album hundred of times during the beginning of my senior year in high school. This song became an important part of my outlook on relationships. I met my girlfriend (now wife) in October of 1986 and I did not want to end up like the speaker in this song – alone, and wishing he could regain what was lost.

Without Your Love (album: Fahrenheit) #38

This is another song that features Lukather on lead vocals. This is a somber, brooding song with a killer bass line and guitar work. The speaker on the song is pleading, and realizing that life is not as good as it was when he was with the woman he loves. Neither of these two songs from Fahrenheit features Toto’s new lead vocalist. For a great sample of his work on this, his first album with the band, check out “Could This Be Love“.

Pamela (album: The Seventh One) #22

I was in the second semester of my freshman year in college when the album The Seventh One was released. To my surprise (and dismay), I had a number of friends who were not well versed in what I considered good ‘80s rock – this included being nearly clueless about Toto. I forced them to watch the video to this song many times. I continued to wear them down by listening to older music by Toto and soon they had to admit that they were a pretty good band. We did return to watch the awesome hair bands that were featured every afternoon on Total Request Live, but Toto left their mark on them. I love this song – another one by Toto with a woman’s name as the title. And it does feature Williams on lead vocals. It once again demonstrates superior musicianship and an all out catchy song. Since hearing of bass player Porcaro’s death a few weeks ago, this has been the song that I have come back to most often-despite all of these great songs, it is easily one of my favorites by Toto. It has two of my favorite Toto lyrics: “Don’t try mixing truth with jealousy, the road we’re on is clear as far as I can see” and “Wanting every part of you is not a crime / Could it be that you’re the one who is wrong this time?

Mike Porcaro’s death reminds us that an all things will eventually fade- even the heyday of great bands from an era of excellent rock music. Toto is still recording and performing live, and I admire their commitment to their music, but an important piece of the ‘80s rock world’s puzzle has been lost and can never truly be regained.

Toto has so many great songs that it is nearly impossible to have them all here. The ‘80s were clearly a great decade for this band, but do not limit yourself to just these songs and videos. Dig into the music of this group of influential and slightly underrated band- you will not be sorry.

Remember That Song: 4/22/15

Can you name the artist and song:

I’d let her take her chances with me
You see, she gets what she wants


Last Song: “Lovesong” by The Cure from Disintegration (1989)

Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am home again
Whenever I’m alone with you
You make me feel like I am whole again

My Love/Hate Relationship with Snack Pack Pudding

It’s been a long, boring morning of school. Well, maybe it wasn’t too boring. I gave myself an adrenalin rush by not doing my homework the night before, forcing me to quietly and quickly do it as the teacher was talking. Ah, there’s nothing like giving yourself stress in the 2nd grade! Yay, it’s lunchtime!! One of the best parts of the day – second to actually leaving school at the end of the day. Let’s see what we got. I’m sure it’s some kind of lunchmeat sandwich. If I’m lucky, it’s the chicken lunchmeat that I like. Hopefully it’s not ham with that disgusting fat dangling from it. Nope, it’s Bologna. And it has a first name, it’s O-s-c-a-r. And my bologna has a second name, it’s M-a-y-e-r. I don’t love to eat it every day, but today it will have to do.
And looky what we have with dessert! Chocolate Fudge Snack Pack Pudding!! My favorite!! Alright, I’ll take this can. Let’s see. I know there’s a trick to this. I lift the tab up. Ah, nothing like that popping sound. Now, I just have to pull the tab up without….DAMMIT!!!!! I’m over here holding a tab, and the lid is still on the pudding with a little tiny crack where the tab broke the seal! DAMN YOU TO HELL, SNACK PACK!!!! Now what am I supposed to do?!? Oh, let’s see. I can stick the plastic spoon in the hole and start to pry it op…SNAP!!! DAMMIT!!!! Now I have a broken spoon!

Well, I learned my lesson. From now on I bring a metal spoon to school. I still tried to challenge myself to peel the lid off the right way. More often than not, the tab would snap off. But, I would be able to pry it off with the metal spoon. I was finally able to take it off the right way take it off the right way without a problem.  And just when I had it figured out, Snack Pack comes out with a plastic container whose lid easily peeled off. Figures.

I don’t know if it was the lack of the challenge of opening the pudding anymore, or if the quality went down, but my Snack Pack pudding didn’t taste as good anymore.  Oh, don’t get me wrong. I still loved the pudding – as long as it was chocolate. But, I think it tasted better out of the can, even though it could be maddeningly frustrating trying to open it.

80's Pop Culture and News

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