Odd Stuff In The Trunk

March 24, 2011

A couple weeks back, I was poking around for info on the ’80s cult movie Straight To Hell and most of what I found also mentioned another ’80s cult movie – Repo Man – mentioned.

(Alex Cox directed both movies)

My friends and I knew of Repo Man in 1984 when it was released and became an instant cult movie and favorite with midnight crowds. We certainly didn’t see it at the time, but, surprisingly, as we were living in Sticksville, we were aware of the movie.

Thinking back, it had to have been my buddy Beej’s uncle who told us about it. His uncle taught literature or something at a college in Cincinnati, an hour away, and was always turning us onto obscure (to us) new wave bands.

Eventually, we snagged a videocassette of Repo Man and a bunch of us watched it one Friday night.

It was Emilio Estevez’ first movie and he starred as a young punk named Otto being mentored in the ways of being a repo man by Harry Dean Stanton as the pair attempt to repossess a ’64 Chevy Malibu with two dead aliens in the trunk.

It’s been twenty-five years or more since that single viewing of Repo Man, but I remember digging some of it and thinking a lot of it was tedious.

The soundtrack consisted of Los Angeles bands – where the movie was set – including The Circle Jerks, Fear, and Burning Sensations.

That last band was known for their video hit Belly Of The Whale and – on the Repo Man soundtrack – covering the Jonathan Richman-penned Pablo Picasso. In the song it is opined that the artist “never got called an asshole.”

(though I seem to recall Paloma once referring to him as a bastard)

I don’t remember if there were or weren’t aliens in the trunk of that ’64 Malibu in Repo Man.

And though I had several friends who drove old Malibus at the time, I was with my buddy Streuss in his old man’s beloved Volvo when we got pulled over by the police.

I stood there in the night air with several friends as Streuss was unlocking the trunk of the car at the request of the cop.

All I could think of was Repo Man as the trunk lid swung open.

No aliens.

Instead, there was several handfuls of straw, a crumpled carton that had contained wine coolers, and one tube sock.

(and, no, despite the contents of the trunk his dad was not a serial killer nor some other deranged felon)

Though the soundtrack for Repo Man was heavy on punk music, we were more partial to the new wave and alternative acts we were discovering at the time from 97X, Night Flight, and Beej’s uncle. Here are four songs that I remember from that time…

Simple Minds – Waterfront
from Live In The City Of Light

Over the previous year, U2 had finally reached us in the Midwest with songs from War and Under A Blood Red Sky getting a smattering of attention on a couple radio stations. With Sparkle In The Rain, produced by U2 producer Steve Lillywhite, I heard Scotland’s Simple Minds for the first time and was drawn to their anthemic, widescreen sound.

Waterfront, with its thumping bassline and ringing guitars, was an immediate favorite. A year later, Simple Minds was no longer a band I’d only hear on alternative outlet 97X, but on an array of stations as the group scored with the massive hit Don’t You (Forget About Me).

Though Paloma and I have a copy of Sparkle In The Rain on vinyl, the only version I have ripped of Waterfront is this live version from ’87.

Guadalcanal Diary – Watusi Rodeo
from Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man

The band Guadalcanal Diary were from Athens, Georgia and contemporaries of R.E.M., but, unlike Michael Stipe and company, the group never managed to cross over to a more mainstream audience. They did have a modicum of success with college audiences in the mid- to late- ’80s.

It’s the quirky and engaging Watusi Rodeo for which they are best remembered. The odd, little number about cowboys in the Congo lassoing water buffalo fused jangle-pop with surf rock and why it wasn’t blaring from every radio during the spring of ’84 is mystifying.

Talk Talk – Such A Shame
from It’s My Life

My buddy Beej did get hooked on Talk Talk by his uncle and had already played It’s My Life into the ground for me before the trio notched a lone US Top 40 hit with the album’s title track.

I liked It’s My Life, but I much preferred the pulsating, skittering follow-up Such A Shame.

The Alarm – Blaze Of Glory
from Declaration

With their post-punk guitars, martial drumming, earnest lyrics, and rebellious attitude, the Welsh quartet The Alarm also appealed to the growing affection my friends and I had for U2.

Several songs from their debut, full-length album Declaration popped up on 97X including the defiant Blaze Of Glory.

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The Not Contractually Obligated Top Ten Of 2009

January 1, 2010

Almost every artist in the history of mankind has at least one title in their catalog that is a compilation, a stopgap collection meant to maintain interest between releases (often to boost holiday sales) or to fulfill a contractual obligation.

This is the former, a chance to make use, one more time, of a lot of wasted time over the past twelve months.

A year ago, I reflected on the annual, childhood tradition of spending New Year’s Day with a half dozen blank cassettes as Q102 played back the Top 102 songs of the previous year.

So, as 2009 was the first, full calendar year of this blog’s existence, here are the most popular songs that appeared here during that time…

10. The Motels – Shame
from Shock
Coming Soon To A Record Store Near You (Or Not)

“In a previous life, I did a bit of freelance music journalism. For the past several years, I’ve been engaged in far more lucrative albeit soul-sucking work…”

9. Guadalcanal Diary – Watusi Rodeo
from Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man
Dear Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas…

Any Major Dude has noted the search engine terms leading the masses to his blog often involve unrequited or impossible love…”

8. Fleetwood Mac – Sara
from Tusk
Maybe I’ll Have Fleetwood Mac Perform At My Island Coronation

“Inspiration strikes at the most wondrously random moments. The other day, Fleetwood Mac’s Tusk popped up on shuffle…”

7. Big Country – The Storm
from The Crossing
If I’d Known He Was My Neighbor, I’d Have Brought Him Some Haggis

“For a band that had such minimal commercial success here in the States, Big Country made their one shot a memorable one. In A Big Country is a well-worn touchstone in the world of ’80’s pop culture…”

6. General Public – Tenderness
from Weird Science soundtrack
Adios John Hughes

“Last Thursday night, checking the news before going to bed, I read the headline that filmmaker John Hughes was dead. As I am of the age I am, it’s a passing of someone that had a rather measurable impact on my childhood…”

5. Los Lobos – Will The Wolf Survive?
from Will The Wolf Survive?
Even Rock Stars Need A Hug Sometimes

“It surely doesn’t suck to be a rock star…”

4. The Jacksons – Can You Feel It?
from Triumph
Michael Jackson

“Word spread quickly at our office on Thursday that Michael Jackson had been rushed to the hospital. Less than two hours later, while I was navigating rush hour traffic and dodging hobos on the interstate, the announcement came over the radio that Michael Jackson was dead….”

3. Mark Knopfler – Going Home (Theme For The Local Hero)
from Local Hero soundtrack
So Long, Little Friend

“Like most people, I would prefer the days to unfold like the colorful pages of a Dr. Seuss book, populated by the playful antics of furry, non-existent creatures and lots of nonsensical rhyming….”

2. The Dream Academy – Life In A Northern Town
from The Dream Academy
Ah Hey Oh Ma Ma Ma…

“I’ve mentioned how lately I have discovered that I possess a previously unknown interest in the music of Bob Seger. And in the last few days, I’ve rediscovered a band which I had loved and forgotten (despite owning all three of their albums)…”

1. The Pogues – The Good, The Bad & The Ugly
from Straight To Hell soundtrack
Straight To Hell, Indeed

“For several years, I worked in a very large record store. One of the perks of the job (aside from cocooning oneself from reality) was free rentals from our video department…”


Dear Barely Awake In Frog Pajamas…

November 8, 2009

question-markAny Major Dude has noted that the search engine terms leading the masses to his blog often involve unrequited or impossible love.

Here? It’s a lot of folks searching for sleepwear.

The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Iron Maiden, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, Marvin Gaye, and John Denver (yes, John Denver) are some of the acts with fans wishing to express their allegiance even as they sleep.

(Paloma takes this, admittedly, small sample as a sign that we should fulfill this niche and become pajama moguls)

The search engine statistics also reveal that you folks have questions – a lot of questions. Well, I’m here to help, so here are a few of your queries with the actual search engine topic in parenthesis…

Is Food Network personality Alton Brown a one-hit wonder?
(alton brown one hit wonder)

Mr. Brown is a favorite of ours and quite an accomplished fellow with success as a chef, cinematographer, author, and actor to his credit. And, after graduating from the University Of Georgia, Brown pursued a career in cinematography and was the director of photography on the music video for R.E.M.’s The One I Love.

However, aside from his resemblance to actual one-hit wonder Thomas Dolby, it appears that Alton has never pursued any musical endeavors of his own. So, no, he is not a one-hit wonder.

However, the band Guadalcanal Diary, who were fellow Georgians and contemporaries of R.E.M., might qualify as one-hit wonders. Though they never were a mainstream act, Guadalcanal Diary had a modicum of success with college audiences in the mid- to late- ’80s and are best remembered for the quirky and engaging Watusi Rodeo.

Guadalcanal Diary – Watusi Rodeo
from Walking In The Shadow Of The Big Man

Is Mark Knopfler obsessed with finding a cure for baldness?
(mark knopfler hair loss)

Yes, the former leader of Dire Straits is follically challenged. However, he is also one of the wealthiest musicians in the UK, so, if he wanted, he could afford to outfit himself with the most extravagant toupee in the history of man.

As he hasn’t done so, I would have to say that, no, Knopfler suffers from no vanity regarding his diminishing hairline. If he does wish to find the cure for hair loss, I suggest he get in contact as I could use an investor.

Dire Straits – Romeo And Juliet
from Making Movies

Has Kate Bush ever attacked the paparazzi?
(kate bush attacks paparazzi)

I’ve followed Kate Bush’s career since she broke through in the States with Hounds Of Love and I own most of her catalog. I know that Kate’s father was a physician, she comes from a musical family, she’s studied dance, she’s quite reclusive, and she’s British.

None of these things add up to a profile of someone that would physically manhandle photographers. She simply seems too refined for such behavior (or, behaviour).

(though it is amusing to imagine her having a snootful of brandy following Sunday dinner and letting the expletives fly)

I think this reader has Kate confused with another eccentric female artist, this one from Iceland.

Kate Bush – Breathing
from Never For Ever

What kind of earrings did David Bowie wear?
(what kind of earring did david bowie wear)

There’s no debating that David Bowie has been one of the most fashion-conscious artist in the annals of rock. He’s donned dresses, leather jackets, Italian suits, and indescribable garb as Ziggy Stardust.

However, a quick study of photographic evidence reveals that his ears have usually been unadorned. In the few pictures in which he does have earrings, it appears that the Thin White Duke opts for a single, ring-sized, silver hoop – tasteful, classy, and restrained.

David Bowie – Soul Love
from The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars