Retro Video of the Day – Planet Rock

You may have never heard of Kraftwerk unless you are a true Retro lover however you most certainly heard their music or their musical influences on other artists. Artists like Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Ultravox, Devo and David Bowie all owe their sound to the ground breaking efforts of these four German electronic originals.

Founded in 1968, Kraftwerk tried to carve a sound that was uniquely German. They experimented with new technologies and relied on the industrial world around them for inspiration. Album after album their innovative approach to creating new sounds attracted the attention of young musicians and by the early ’80s, pretty much every new wave / synth group credited Kraftwerk as a major influence. This made Kraftwerk’s Euro sound a dance floor staple.

“Funky Futuristic White Boys”

Th0ugh Trans Europe Express was released in 1977, it eventually caught the attention of an American DJ who went on to release a little ditty you may have heard of – “Planet Rock” by the Soul Sonic Force masterminded by Afrika Bambaataa who dubbed Krafterk “Funky futuristic white boys”. Planet Rock was the catalyst to the whole Electro Funk sound that became synonymous to the whole ’80s sound.

Random 80’s Movie Prick of the Day

Growing up in the 80s and 90s it would have been impossible for you not to have seen Pretty in Pink. If you were a guy growing up in the 80s, most of you were probably wondering why they kept casting Molly Ringwald as the female love interest in all those teen movies. Was everyone else simply not available? Was it her pouty lips? Did she do the movies for free? If they ever remade that film again, I can guarantee they wouldn’t be casting a pale, scrawny girl for the role. I can see Megan Fox in that role. Okay – maybe that’s too much but hey – she definitely looks pretty in pink! She’d have to get a restraining order on Duckie for sure.

Back to topic though. In the movie, the chief protagonist was Blayne’s best friend Biff who was played superbly by James Spader. James is a great actor and watching him on Boston Legal is simply a treat and certainly deserves his Emmy for that role. In the movie he kept trying to convince Blayne that Andy (Molly Ringwald) was nothing special and to stop wasting his time while in reality, Biff had the hots for her as well and the only reason he didn’t like her was because Andy kept shunning his repeated attempts at a hook up.

James played the part to perfection from the swaggering walk, the holier than though attitude and just the droll, couldn’t care less mannerism in the way he conducted himself. We all knew guys like this in high school and wanted to take a swing at them just for breathing air. I’m sure Biff went on to become an investment broker and probably was a key player in the saving and loan scandals and now doing time with his second wife waiting for him on the outside.

Who Knew That Lysol Was a Girl’s Best Friend?

Read the ad first. Not sure what’s more disturbing about this ad, the fact this woman needs a household cleaner to achieve that fresh feeling down there or that women walked around in the 50’s smelling like pine cones. Honestly, what if it didn’t work? Where do you go from there if Lysol doesn’t work for you? It was the 50s afterall – Woolite? (Just sayin’……..)

I can imagine the conversation at the lodge between the men.

“Say, how’s the Lysol working for you Bob?”

“Pretty good Fred! Got the boat all scrubbed down and ready for fishing!”

“That’s great Bob. How’d it work on Ethel?”

“Not so good Fred…….not so good.”

“That’s a damn shame Bob.”

“Go to hell Fred.”

Duran Duran Turning Japanese

Most bands tend to be influenced by another artist to forge a new sound or style. It’s either a blatant rip-off or just a skimming of the best traits to take advantage of a trail already blazed. One such example is one of my all time favorite 80s bands, Duran Duran. A true Duranie would already know that the fab five were heavily influenced by a group called Japan who were a former glam rock band that made the switch to the New Romantic scene in 1980.

Japan was formed by Steve and David Batt, two brothers who were heavily influenced by David Bowie and the New York Dolls to the point where they not only copied the musical styles of both Bowie and the Dolls, but actually changed their last names in homage of the Dolls’ key members, Sylvain Sylvain and David Johansen. Steve and David Batt became Steve Jansen and David Sylvian.

As a glam band they achieved little success and by 1980, they were ready for a change. The idea was incorporating elements of the emerging Euro Disco sound, heavy synthesizers and a back beat all performed in a rock band setting. The timing was perfect, and they created one of their classic albums, Quiet Life. It was around this time that they took the androgynous cartoon like image to a new level of sophistication with their suave demeanor and sophisticated style fashion similar to what Brian Ferry was rocking with Roxy Music. This “gay but straight” look became pretty mainstream, and pretty much sums up what it means to be “totally 80’s.”

Separated at birth ?

After a few years they spilt up but by then, their influence on mainstream music in the U.K. was undeniable. One young musician that noticed and followed Japan’s moves was Nick Rhoads. Nick took the best elements of Japan and created Duran Duran. Though Japan’s influence is undeniable, and in some cases blatantly obvious, it seems like an appropriate passing of the torch. Japan created the look and sound and Duran Duran took it to the mainstream and to the next level and beyond.

Michael Jackson – Then and Now and What Could Have Been

No matter how you feel about Michael Jackson, there is no disputing the fact that he had a seriously messed up childhood which probably led to much of the weirdness in his later life. I challenge any of you to grow up in his environment and be normal and not end up on the floor in the corner in a fetal position singing Diana Ross songs. No doubt this is only the beginning with much more weirdness to come thanks to people’s never ending thirst for celebrity dirt. Let the man moonwalk with Elvis in peace.

One of the things that Michael always denied was the amount of plastic surgery he had. He only ever admitted to doing his nose (shocker!) to correct a breathing problem and attributed his facial change simply to natural aging. Obviously there was nothing natural in the way he looked in his recent years. Back in 1985, Ebony magazine commissioned an artist to create his rendition of what some celebrities would look like by the year 2000 which is what you see in the middle picture above. Did he take a picture of Latoya and simply draw a mustache? Not even close. Still, makes you wonder what Michael would have indeed looked like if he just chilled a bit with the surgeries. Vanity Kills.

The magazine was also wrong about something else. They predicted that by the year 2000 Michael’s fan base would grow by ten times. His popularity is way off the charts now. Say what you will about him but I doubt any artist alive or yet to come will ever top him in terms of impact on our culture and post death adulation.

Saturday Morning Kids Programs We Actually Watched

When you try to tell your kids that back in the old days certain things were better you can usually make a decent argument. For example, you could play outside without fear of smog, nobody you knew was alergic to peanuts and you could walk out of a store with a handful of gum and candy that would last you the whole week for a quarter.

Some things aren’t as easy to defend such as Saturday morning kids shows. Sure we had classics like Looney Tunes (before they got all censored and polically correct), the Flintstones and Scooby (before Scrappy) and of course Josie and Pussy Cats but let’s look at some live action shows that you likely watched as a kid in the 70s either because nothing else was on or you actually liked it though secretly you wished the Jetsons were on again.

Ark II

Nobody really remembers this until you show them the picture of the jacked up RV and they suddenly vaguely recall seeing it. The other reason they likely don’t remember is the fact it only aired one season’s worth of shows but ended up in reruns for many years after.

From the opening sequence we learn, “For millions of years, Earth was fertile and rich. Then pollution and waste began to take their toll. Civilization fell into ruin. This is the world of the 25th century. Only a handful of scientists remain. Men who have vowed to rebuild what has been destroyed…this is their achievement… Ark II, a mobile storehouse of scientific knowledge, manned by a highly trained crew of young people. Their mission: to bring the hope of a new future to mankind.”

That’s it? That’s the master plan? Even as a kid I knew we’d be screwed if the future of mankind depended on an Asian woman, a young boy, his monkey and a hipster with a jet pack. The show did have some decent morals and was kind of an eerie foreshadowing to what is actually happening with our environment.

Shazam! Isis Power Hour

Okay I’ll admit she was rather easy on the eyes but are you telling me there weren’t any beefed up actors that could have filled the Shazam! costume out a little more super heroish than Jackson Bostwick? But I digress.

Shazam! lasted three seasons after its debut in 1974. The premise was Billy Batson (Michael Gray) and his guardian known only as Mentor traveled around and always wound up mixed up in some kind of problem (Nice going mentor – way to teach the kid how to stay out of trouble). Whenever the need for a super hero came up, Billy Batson would utter the word “Shazam!” and get transformed into Captain Marvel.

Not to be confused with this guy – he’s Kazaam!

The storyline for Isis involved Andrea Thomas (Joanna Cameron), who was a high school science teacher. While on an archeological dig in Egypt, she found an amulet that belonged to an ancient queen named Hatshepsut (rumor has it is was a play on the phrase “That Cheap Slut”) which would grant the wearer the powers of the Goddess Isis.

She only lasted two seasons even though it was a much stronger show than Shazam!. Both characters would appear in each other’s shows which kind of begged the question of why not just let them join forces for the whole hour and get a real good story going. In the end both shows would try to hammer some moral into you at the end of each episode which is more than what you can say for Yugioh! They eventually made them into cartoons which were probably much less expensive to produce.

Bigfoot and Wildboy

I’m not really sure where they blew they’re budget on this show but it certainly wasn’t on Bigfoot’s costume. The premise was that Bigfoot found the orphaned boy and raised him in the wild, hence the name Wildboy (man, the writers were firing on all cylinders that day). Naturally they went on to battle all evil doers in the forest and avoid capture. Let’s see the Loch Ness Monster do that !

The show started as a fifteen minute piece on the Kroft Super Show in the late 70s before getting it’s own thirty minutes in 1979. It lasted only one season after that. Can’t imagine why – there’s all kinds of evil happening in the forest on a regular basis. Isn’t there? The episodes were released on DVD but have been extremely rare and have actually become a collector’s item.

Retro Video of the Day – Pump Up the Volume

In honor of the 40th anniversary of the Apollo landings, I thought the video should reflect the space theme and frankly Pete Schilling’s Major Tom thing is way too obvious so I decided on one of my personal favorites from 1987 – “Pump Up The Volume” by M/A/R/R/S. The video featured some vintage footage from the early U.S. and Russian space program. The footage confirms these astronauts had balls of steel or were heavily sedated and brainwashed to volunteer for this gig. How do you convince a guy to sit on top of a long gas tank and let them light the fuse. Now it seems fairly routine but back then I’m sure there was a lot of finger crossing and rabbit feet rubbing going on in the control rooms.

This song was a collaborative effort and became a one hit wonder since the people involved couldn’t play nice together. Literally. Even though they were nominated for a Grammy in 1989, they never released anything after that. I never get tired of this one. Turn the volume way up on this one!

Quest for the Perfect Mullet

If you were around in the 80s you would have seen the birth of a new hair trend. I didn’t call it a style and when you see the pictures you’ll know why. The Mullet was the perfect solution for anyone who wanted long hair but couldn’t be bothered dealing with the hassle. Best of both worlds – short around the sides and front to keep hair out of your eyes and out of your way while doing stuff and long silky locks in the back to show the world you were actually a badass.

Click the pic of the patron saint of mullets to see a definitive guide to mullets and a gallery of every kind of mullet recorded to date. Truly an archive for the ages. When it comes to mullets, I’m all for keeping it Retro but I do have my limits!