Critic Joe Viglione reviews movies, books, DVDs, CDs, and has all sorts of opinions on a variety of things. The monthly Top 40 is a sort-of directory...
commentaries and essays expand the thought process on RockJournalistJoeVig.blogspot.com ...so the reviews on the Top 40 aren't final, they are just the starting point to more discussion. You can always contact Joe directly at visual_radio [@] yahoo.com
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Mamma Mia July Top 40 The Real Kids, Long Lost Pride
The Joe Vig Top 40 for July 2018
Alternate Universe Erotic Wizard of Oz
Mamma Mia 2 Here We Go Again
By Joe Viglione
The early reference to Witches of Eastwick co-star Cher as "The Wicked Witch" in Mamma Mia! 2 Here We Go Again! is just a hint at the references to 1939's The Wizard of Oz in this wacky, colorful, beautifully filmed sequel to 2008's Mamma Mia, The Movie. (Oz playing Mon, Aug 13 Coolidge Corner Theatre - Map
This is an erotic version of the Wizard of Oz, and I'm not kidding when I say that. Read further for more details.
Mamma Mia! 2 Here We Go Again has parallel timelines, which the filmmakers expect you realize, and for some reason they have killed off Meryl Streep's character, Donna Sheridan, and have actress Lily James playing a younger version of her, though Streep is in the film, as a ghost. Streep is Glinda the Good Witch juxtaposed against her film mama Cher as the Wicked Witch of the West. Confused yet? Though the 2018 release is ten years after the 2008 original (and 19 years after the stage show) it is supposedly set five years after the 2008 release with Amanda Seyfried (from Channing Tatum's Dear John hit) again as Sophie. Seyfriend does bear a resemblance to actress Lily James, who - as stated - plays the younger version of Sophie/Seyfried's mother, it's a lot of character development to get up to speed to without seeing the first film so buyer beware. Lily James as young Donna gets to bang the Scarecrow (handsome Hugh Skinner as Colin Firth's character "Harry",) the Tin Woodsman (handsome Josh Dylan as a younger Stellan Skarsgård's character "Bill",) and the pièce de résistance Pierce Brosnan's younger Sam, hunky handsome Jeremy Irvine . In other words, this Twilight Zone meets Golden Girls version of a 26 year old Dorothy Gale from Kansas is a slut having casual sex with every guy she meets on her yellow brick road to some Gilligan's Island in Greece. It's the Matrix of chick flicks grabbing elements from fun film and TV shows and throwing them into the mix master for your summer pleasure. When Scarecrow/Young Harry Hugh Skinner begs Donna (let me repeat - Lily James as the reconstituted Dorothy from Oz) for casual sex, even claiming to be a virgin, they go into Abba's breakthrough hit "Waterloo" (the ending credits song from the first film) in a bizarre Munchkinland kind of foreplay in a bar before they IHop it into bed. Even their meeting in a hotel with Skinner in his bathrobe is in your face sexuality, not to mention the camera zooming in suggestively on both sexes. With the zillions of dollars the original film and its DVD spawned (in an age where DVDs do not sell as they used to,) the producers/powers that be, including Abba and Tom Hanks, know what they've got and deliver the goods to the audience that they know is out there. Girls will drag their boyfriends to this chick flick, but the guys might get into the swing of things as the acting is superb all the way around, surpassing the twisted script. As with any good Golden Girls episode, you will see the jokes coming, it's the delivery that each actor puts into it that makes it all work. Cher getting it on with an older Andy Garcia as "Fernando" - which is a spoiler - is just part of the star power of Sunny Bono's ex. Cher steals the show, the build-up is to Cher, and the critics at the early screening applaud her performance. The rock icon brings everything to an entirely different level, and her duet with Garcia on "Fernando" has hit record written all over it. The ending song, "Super Trouper," which played in the original film, is a take-off of the conclusion of Kevin Kline's gay farce In and Out where enemies and friends all party and dance together to The Village People's Macho Man Super Trouper has Cher and Toto Too, well, not really Toto Too, but you get the idea. A bizarre but fun sexy summer oasis that is at times incomprehensible, so just suspend your belief and go along for the ride.
_____________________________________ Alice Cooper Brutal Planet
For the Alice Cooper fans who feel his output was spotty before and after the 1989 classic Trash on Epic, Brutal Planet is a cause to rejoice. It is a solid hard rock offering. Cooper is in great voice, and he sounds mean and spirited. The title track would be a blessing on radio today. It has great bottom, sizzling guitars, and wonderful backing vocalists. The most impressive thing about this album is Cooper's lyrics. "Sanctuary" could be Lou Reed meets Deep Purple in their heyday. Back in 1987 Cooper performed with an unruly band all over the map. It was very uncomfortable and a far cry from his heyday of "I'm 18" and "Under My Wheels": guitars too loud, and an artist obviously struggling with his personal demons.
This disc rocks hard with hooks galore and is delivered with the intensity of a Mike Tyson punch, double entendre fully intended. "Wicked Young Men" continues the thump thump brigade of this fine album. Cooper is now being a bad boy with sophisticated lyrics. "I am a vicious young man" sounds like the soundtrack to A Clockwork Orange II: the aforementioned street lingo of Reed and Springsteen turned up a notch. "I've got every kind of chemical pumping through my head/I read Mein Kempf daily just to keep my hatred fed/I never ever sleep, I just lay in my bed/dreaming of the day when everyone is dead."
Cooper is ready to exterminate everyone and everything. And though listeners who love Alice Cooperknow it's all tongue in cheek, the bigger picture is that a known artist has created a very studied, very calculated, and very electric compact disc. It works on so many levels, and how many listeners had written Cooper off? There may be no song here that will brand itself into the consciousness as "School's Out" or "Elected" did, but those were different times. This is more powerful than most rap. It is direct. It is hard hitting. It is Alice Cooper at his most absolute sinister. Burt Reynolds said that "nothing plays as good as an old Stradivarius" and Alice Cooper proves that saying true. He has created a splash of cold water that could rip radio wide open if given the chance. In "Blow Me a Kiss," Alice sings "blow me away... I'm in my room... I'm Dr. Doom... I'm not me, I'm someone else." Where has Cooper been hiding these lyrics all these years?
Former bandmate of Jon Felice, one Jonathan Richman, had a hit with "Egyptian Reggae" in Europe while The Real Kids, sons somewhat of The Modern Lovers, had an underground sensation with "Reggae, Reggae". The fact that neither tune had any reggae to speak of in their respective grooves doesn't take away from the brilliant artistic license of both compositions - two of the best examples of these songwriters apart from their work together. "Reggae, Reggae" owes more to the grunge of the second Velvet Underground lp, White Light/White Heat, than it does to Jimmy Cliff or the "Ice Cream Man" chronicles of Jonathan Richman on tour. At five minutes and one second it is the longest of the dozen tunes on the Red Star Records debut of the band, concluding the album with a diligent Billy Borgioli lead. Borgioli is the band's rhythm guitarist, but tears away from those duties to add some riveting sounds, an exclamation point to this disc that is so cherished by many in underground circles. Jon Felice blurts out something that sounds like "Your brother thinks I'm a fag", and again employs that right-wing mentality that the band thought was cool in the seventies, but wasn't. At least when Lou Reed made comments they came from a space which accepted life's mutations and variations. The Real Kids played to a narrow cult and were never able to catapult themselves onto the stages where Cheap Trick, The Ramones and other larger acts played to bigger crowds. "Reggae, Reggae" was a step in the right direction and sounds like nothing else on this interesting work by a punk band that took themselves very seriously. It is said that this is the true direction that the group was heading in until the heart of the band, rhythm guitarist Billy Borgioli and drummer Howard Ferguson, left with the revamped lineup recording with producer Andy Paley five years after this. A pity as
the fuzzy sound and condensed energy suited Jon Felice's muted vocals much better. It's a powerful statement, imagine "Sister Ray" from The Velvet Underground finding some kind of form halfway through, the frazzled elements of that assault coming together in a powerfully fused focus. "Reggae Reggae is a dynamite statement to conclude the first Real Kids lp, and is arguably their finest moment.
When Lion Music executive Lasse Mattsson introduced guitaristBob Katsionis to Swedish singer Bjorn Jansson -- merging the prolific Greek musician with a talent from further north -- a new chapter in the group Imaginery's history began. Not to be confused with new age ensemble Imaginary (note the one letter difference), the album Long Lost Pride contains ten very hard rocking episodes that contain creativity and bite. Opening tunes "Hypnotized" and
"The Sign f Today" have enough melody and balanced tempo to keep one's attention, a tough formula to execute, and one that Katsionis and Jansson achieve with the help of bassist Olof Sundfeldt and drummer Mark Adrian. "Roughly Scratched but Alive" clocks in at almost six minutes (nothing here is under four) with a terrific opening riff and an equally strong hook close to one used by the Bee Gees, of all people, on their song "Alive" from 1972's To Whom It May Concern disc. The difference is that Imaginery's title will be limited by the style -- a metallic onslaught that is top-notch for those who follow the intricacies of loud music. For example, "Korozon (The Lord of Evil)" is hardly the same theme as Carole King's "Corazón" from 1973s Fantasy album -- Imaginery's seems to be a variation on the Australian Black Mermaid Productions' comic book character from 1998 -- an immortal merman. Imaginery's "Korozon" -- "the prince of the night" -- keeps you in his home, the place of "fear and evil, rage and fury." A menacing Iron Maiden-style excursion as dark as it is majestic, Long Lost Prideneeds repeated spins; its effect is not immediate, but for fans of the genre the CD provides fun from the opening notes to the conclusion of the multi-layered, tempo-switching "In My Life."
This is a very interesting soundtrack to what was supposed to be the film "Spring Break 3" and ended up getting renamed Speedzone with actors Brooke Shields, the Smothers Brothers, John Candy, Peter Boyle, and others. Boston band Splash -- veterans of that scene managed and produced by J.D. Worthington, the pseudonym for the same individual who originally managed Boston band Mass -- open up the disc. Somehow Worthington (aka Ron Pasquelino) managed to sign the group to Grudge Records, a New York label distributed by BMG. Simultaneous with this soundtrack, the band Splash -- featuring the Evangelista Brothers (changed to the Evans Brothers by Worthington) -- released an album called Spring Break, which also has "Dizzy Miss Lizzy" as its opening track. The Larry Williams tune made famous by the Beatles is terrific here; it jumps off the soundtrack and starts things right. "Roll Away" does not sound like Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals, but it is, and the song would have been appropriate for the soundtrack to Beverly Hills Cop. Everything here sounds very '80s, from Ross Vannelli's production of James House's "Born to Race" to that producer's work behind Rocky Burnetteon "Perfect Crime," which really could have been on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. That Vannelli gets two of the ten tracks is interesting, as David Wheatley is given the credit in the film for the music. His instrumental "Tiffany's Theme," with saxophone by Moe Koffman, is elegant enough following Denny Colt's decent "Good Guys Are Hard to Find." The stunner here is Richie Havens doing an original which is up-tempo, dancey, and not what you'd expect to hear from Havens. It's one of the best tracks and should have been on theBeverly Hills Cop II soundtrack. Though released in 1989 everyone here seems to have taken cues from Glenn Frey's 1985 work. Rocky Burnette may have made his name at the beginning of that decade, with Richie Havens hitting ten years prior, but Will to Power was hot at this point, the song on this album coming right in between their 1988 and 1990 chart hits. Somehow this very decent work got lost in the shuffle that is the record biz, but it's quality product on a small BMG imprint and deserves a bit more attention. Charlie Karp & the Name Droppers sound like John Cougar Mellencamp while Omar & the Howlers conclude the disc with their rewrite and update of an old Fleetwood Mac idea which comes off like a reprise of"Dizzy Miss Lizzy." Competent and entertaining, this album is a sleeper and a must for fans of Cavaliere and Richie Havens.
The Grass Roots charted 14 times with ABC Dunhill. Three years after their last chart action, producers Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter, and (in an arranging capacity here) Michael Omartian gave singer Rob Grill a platform. The good news is that it works much better than Uprooted, the highly dysfunctional "solo" album that had much promise and little substance. At least "Optical Illusion" is as hooky and commercial as the latter-day Grass Roots hits like "Two Divided by Love" and "Sooner or Later." Lambert & Potter crafted a typical '70s pop song, but it is fun, and more in tune than the cover of Holland/Dozier/Holland's "Something About You," which backfires while starting this album off. "Out in the Open" and "I Wanna Slow Dance Again" sound very much like Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds -- schmaltzy, but not unbearable. The performance of Randy Newman's "Naked Man" really is a stretch and might have been better-suited for the Uprooted solo affair. John Travolta/Tony Orlando haircuts adorn the group photo on the back cover, while the front looks like one of those generic bargain basement releases. A section of what looks like farmland is cut away showing tree roots, declaring an image problem for the band and this album. The world didn't need another version of "Up on the Roof," but it is one of the better tracks on The Grass Roots, though it exposes Rob Grill's lack of vocal personality. "It's a Cryin' Shame" is another sharp, classic Grass Roots-style song, and like "Optical Illusion," is perfectly crafted pop by Lambert & Potter. "The Last Time Around" falls flat, and was written by Dennis Provisor, who contributed four songs to the 1979 release Uprooted. There are two songs by Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil: the ready-for-TV "Nothing Good Comes Easy," which sounds like a Bobby Sherman hit from Here Comes the Brides, and "Mamacita," which concludes the album. It's an off-color south-of-the-border style take-off on Abba by way of Jay & the Americans. It's homogenized stuff with few surprises.
Foreigner's Alive & Rockin' DVD is a slick presentation from Eagle Vision that features eight of the group's 16 hits, a classic track -- "Starrider" -- from the first album, and a "Juke Box Hero" medley that includes "Whole Lotta Love," a nice treat since son-of-Led ZeppelinJason Bonham is on drums. Sequencing those two titles after the drum solo that follows "Urgent" is also a nice touch. Here's the up and the down of it, beautifully recorded at the Bang Your Head!!! festival in Balingen, Germany, for the band's 30th anniversary in 2006 -- and with all the players doing their corporate rock best, the purist may be chagrined to find hard rock refugee Kelly Hansen filling in for original member Lou Gramm on a package that the average radio listener might think is the original group. Only Mick Jones remains from the 30 years that have passed and, though his playing is as solid and impressive as ever, those who appreciate and care about music integrity might want some kind of a warning beyond the six photos on the cover. Foreigner never had the massive cult charm of Jim Morrison and the Doors, and that means the mainstream leanings of this group make the tribute band approach less offensive, but Hal Horowitz's same criticisms of the L.A. Woman Live DVD by the Doors of the 21st Century still come into play here. If grading for packaging and technical proficiency, this DVD is a well-crafted document of a collection of hard rockers working with sole original Foreigner member Jones. Kelly Hansen was lead vocalist in the Bob Ezrin-produced Hurricane in 1989, the year after Foreigner had their last of 16 chart hits. As Brian Howe never became a household name fronting Bad Company, neither will Kelly Hansen get universal recognition taking the reigns of Foreigner, replacing Lou Gramm who replaced King Kobra vocalist Johnny Edwards who replaced...Lou Gramm.
And therein lies the problem for this glossy document of the 2006 version of Foreigner as recorded at Bang Your Head!!! The musicians here -- longtime Aerosmith sideman Thom Gimbel, Dokken's Jeff Pilson, the younger Bonham on drums, and Jeff Jacobs ("who played with Billy Joel and who's been in this band a very long time" singer Hansen relates during his 15-and-a-half-minute interview) -- are all very talented. It's just not as magical as Foreigner in their heyday, with a choir joining them on-stage for performance versions of "I Want to Know What Love Is," which isn't on this collection. Jones and Bonham are also interviewed, and had this been called Foreigner III and included some history of the players, it would have been a bit more appealing for the aforementioned purists. Better still, why Storieslead singer Ian Lloyd isn't fronting the band, a fellow who is friends with the group and backing vocalist on most of their hits, is the real question for fans who want the band to evolve in a more logical fashion. Still, it's a professional set of half of Foreigner's major hits with one original member and an eight-page booklet that is most comprehensive. Of course, a sticker with "Featuring Kelly Hansen of Hurricane on vocals" would be helpful -- and would certainly limit sales, but isn't that the reason there is a band called the Doors of the 21st Century?
The Jennifer Kaufman directed video of "Punk Rock Girls," which is placed towards the end of this fascinating DVD by New England area band, the Queers, is a defining moment. Joe King, aka Joe Queer, comes up with the best song the Beach Boys never wrote with a superb hook of "yummy yummy punk rock girls" and excellent lines like "I wish they'd let me share their bubble gum." Placed after a sonically challenged "Noodlebrain," one gets the picture that the carefree spirit and approach of this band are as limiting as they are empowering. The pastiche of videos from "This Place Sucks" to "Blabbermouth" keep the art contained inside the underground while the professional cartoon video to "I Can't Get Over You" has the pop elements that hit radio craves. It's total dichotomy, the singsongy, commercial potential of these great, short, classic pop tunes and their cool videos obliterated when "Fagtown" and "Wimpy Drives Through Harlem" come over the speakers -- as recorded in Florence, Italy -- and sonics that feel like a transistor radio after the speaker got smashed. The band can switch from pounding Ramones-styled vignettes to pure hardcore rife with the stage crushing crowds, plenty of 'F' words, and impending violence. Interviews with Joe Queer are spliced throughout, though he's not about to unleash the secrets of the universe -- it's more like he's trying to fit as many expletives into a sentence as humanly possible. As a document The Queers Are Here is intriguing, it has its lows as well as highs, the lows good for one spin, the highs begging for different placement on this disc. One of those magic moments is another Beach Boys flavored epic called "Don't Back Down" -- a delightful bikini beach movie kind of clip directed by Isaac Camner. Followed by "Night of the Livid Queers" guarantees that the audience attracted by the slick pop is going to leave in a hurry when the slam dancing starts up again. There's no denying the Queers have worked hard over their decades in the biz and have made their mark, it just would've been nicer to have the studio videos kick the DVD off and let the lo-fi material follow. But "nicer" and the attitude of the Queers are complete opposites. J.J. Rassler from DMZ makes a guest appearance or two, and 28 titles is a generous helping, though it is the studio videos that you'll give repeated plays to.
39)Jeffland - Review by Craig Fenton No Condiments Please
Jeff Mastroberti (Jeffland 12) – No Condiments, Please
In April 2015 I received a call from Music & Film Producer Joe Viglione. The circumstances of the communication were to discuss the upcoming New York Yankee/Boston Red Sox three game series and to afford me an invite to attend a performance by Jeff Mastroberti.
Since the end of the 1970’s music and poetry in any form have often lacked originally, conviction, and memorable moments. With a profusion of people making up many demographics praising Jeff’s words and his meritorious skill in articulation along with the groundswell of approval Jeff’s gigs had earned made me resonate a loud “Yes” to Joe’s offer.
In 2002 Jeff had settled in Pennsylvania and the soil for his unique style had been planted. The term Spoken-Word often pigeonholes an artist and poet. The stereotypical definition is some girl or guy is reading from a book or scribed notes without musical accompaniment.
To place Jeff into a sea of conformity not only is insulting to his performances and vision but limits someone with his ability to reach a weightier base of exposure.
The case in point is the experience that I rubber-stamp to this day sitting in the audience soaking up the auditory sounds. Jeff immediately commandeered the room with a connection to his fans and a speaking style that was both pleasant, natural, and never condescending. Many of the Spoken-Word performers even in the most intimate of settings don’t make eye contact and seem to protect themselves with the Great Wall of China, rather than let the guard down and allow natural occurrences to be the order of the day.
In the sixty-minutes Jeff not only read flawlessly in a solo format from his 2012 book of forty-four poems, he also presented us with a backing-band that would without blemish play jazz, country, blues, and folk music as Jeff would open his soul, heart, and mind to the mesmerized audience.
Jeff’s third CD release “No, Condiments, Please” follows “Caution: Your Entering Jeffland” and “This Land Is Jeffland.”
The twelve tracks are taken from the 2012 book. It must have been forever painstaking to narrow down the choices to a dozen since any of the poems could have been successful in Spoken-Word form (without music representation) or with a group of musicians.
The first track “My Place” with an easy jazz feel behind it slams you to the mat during the first verse “My frown is becoming permanent, my crown is aching with pain” but salvation is obtainable as Jeff pens at the end “Believe in myself, God, and dream.” No predictability here, only a solution that allows Jeff to persevere another day.
The second selection “I Recall” immediately changes the route as the sounds of a finely-tuned old time country band keeps the beat as Jeff struggles with the need for the mighty dollar and the dependence having become the thirteen-thousand-pound elephant in the room. The superlative expression is highlighted by Jeff’s Spoken-Word interchanged with a peerless vocal.
As we fast-forward to track five “Onion Waits” it will rip your eyes open with the instrumentation at times reminiscent of the Beatles “Eleanor Rigby.” Jeff ponders is he insane or a master of words and imagery? The proficiency is clear, and he is the master of words and imagery.
Number eight on the docket is haunting. “Kimberly” with an intro redolent to one of the finest songs ever designed “Today” from the Jefferson Airplane. “Kimberly” contains one of the best lines a poet has ever carved, “She can please a beggar without ever giving him a dime.”
Finality for now with “The Rain” has become a reality, the CD is approaching the laser’s last spin. The words “I taught her to enjoy the rain, she taught me how to feel the pain” rip through the skin as a nurse changing a band-aid on a still open wound. The concluding sentence “I learn to live alone again” is not meant for eternal bleakness, only to memorialize the words from “My Place”, “Believe in myself, God, and dream.”
All the best,
Author: Jefferson Airplane “Take Me To A Circus Tent”
Jefferson Starship “Have You Seen The Stars Tonite”
Met the lead singer/guitarist of Elsewhere, Michael Aroian, at the Model Cafe in Allston for the June 2015 edition of the Rock n Roll Social and he gave me a copy of the new E.P. created with Boston notable David Minehan of Wooly Mammoth Studio (Minehan out on tour with The Replacements at the time this essay is written, June 11, 2015.)
The disc starts off with “Multi-Man,” a highly commercial slice of what the group calls “Progressive Punk.” Perhaps ‘progressive/alternative’ is more like it as the guitar, bass and drums all combine for a driving and smart pop tune which fluctuates from the music of Sparks, King Crimson (think “21st Century Schizoid Man” on steroids,) the Romantics, Rush and much more, all put into a mixer to come up with something fresh, new and exciting. “Multi-Man” is the PICK TO CLICK on the Top 40 this month of June, 2015. The full-length that starts the CD off is 5:09, the radio edit clocks in at 4;12 and concludes the disc.
“We’ve Got a Movement” has cascading guitars to complement the revolutionary theme. With the addition of his keyboards, guitarist/singer Aroian builds a big sound, think Peter Townshend and the Who circa the Who’s Next / Lifehouse phase.
Track #3 is a live version of “Waiting Alone for a Spotlight,” the studio take on the album entitled 1981 album. Recorded Live at Ralph’s Chadwick Diner in Worcester you can hear the studio version of it on YouTube:
The material is just as strong live as Elsewhere’s studio recordings are, a consistent presentation that buzzes along in a fun and entertaining way.
Track #4 “Before the Stars Align” rocks out on the live tape, also from Ralph’s Diner More groups should consider putting the emphasis on a couple of new recordings and emphasizing material from a previous outing in a “live,” remix or out-take setting. With the glut of new music from so many artists, old and new, it’s mandatory to get a song out to as many ears as possible. Revisions of previous work gives those titles another shot at becoming a familiar favorite.
Joe Viglione is the Chief Film Critic at TMRZoo.com. He has written thousands of reviews and biographies for AllMovie.com, Allmusic.com, Gatehouse Media, Al Aronowitz’s The Blacklisted Journal, and a variety of other media outlets. Joe also produces and hosts Visual Radio, a seventeen year old variety show on cable TV which has interviewed Jodie Foster, director/screenwriter David Koepp, Michael Moore, John Cena, comics/actors Margaret Cho, Gilbert Gottfried, Gallagher, musicians Mark Farner and Don Brewer of Grand Funk Railroad, Ian Hunter of Mott The Hoople, Ray Manzarek, John Densmore, Felix Cavaliere of The Rascals, political commentator Bill Press and hundreds of other personalities.