Tag Archives: Entertainment

Sweet – The Most Underrated Band Of The 70s, Releases Their Final Hit, Love Is Like Oxygen, 40 Years Ago

Sweet – The 1970s Band That Should Have Been As Big As Anyone.  They Released Their Final Hit In January 1978 – Love Is Like Oxygen

A Story of Sweet Success And Missed Opportunities

Sweet in their glam band outfits circa 1973. From l-r Brian Connolly, Steve Priest, Andy Scott and drummer Mick Tucker holding guitar.

If you were to name a rock band that should have had long-lasting, international success and made a major musical impact but didn’t, one of the top contenders would have to be Sweet.

In the pantheon of great rock bands, Sweet has been forgotten.

There are many reasons for this amnesiac neglect. Possibly the reasons add up like this: a series of bad breaks; not being taken seriously by a dismissive, indifferent critical press; an insufficient amount of American touring and radio exposure; and unsure musical direction. But certainly not because of a lack of producing great rock music.

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Sweet’s final hit Love Is Like Oxygen which was released  in January 1978. We’ll discuss the song at the end of this article, but here is an abbreviated version from the TV program Top of The Pops.

A very similar band from the same time, Queen, became, a juggernaut, filling arenas and stadiums, having tens of millions of album sales and critical acclaim – all things Sweet seemed destined to achieve, but didn’t.

And if you don’t think Queen was heavily influenced by Sweet, then maybe you should have a listen.

Despite over 35 million album sales and moderate touring success around Europe, Sweet never lived up to their potential. With the exception of a handful of songs, Sweet was rarely played on American radio, hampering whatever breakthrough success they deserved.

Today, younger listeners unfamiliar with Sweet during their heyday, will rarely be able to name the band when they hear them. They recognize the songs, but often mistake the band’s music for that of E.L.O., the Bee Gees, Queen or some other band.

In the 1970s, Sweet, an English glam pop band, morphed into a serious hard rock band with a long list of hits in the United States and England. Originally they recorded songs written by others, primarily their managers and main songwriters Mike Chapman and Nicky Chinn.

But Sweet was more than just a Three Dog Night, Grass Roots or Monkees sort of band. Those bands could barely get by playing an instrument live and never or rarely wrote any of their own songs.

Sweet’s bass player Steve Priest, drummer Mick Tucker, guitarist Andy Scott and lead vocalist Brian Connolly were all accomplished musicians who could write and play their own music and do it damn well.

What made Sweet stand out was their vocal harmonies.

Frequently featured on the weekly British music show Top of the Pops, Sweet would, as the custom was at the time, go on stage and lip synch what they had done on record. Their disdain for lip synching was apparent and they would often make a mockery of their own performances.

Their early “hits,” all written by Chapman and Chinn, were simple but immensely catchy ditties, in the genre known as “bubblegum rock.” Innocent lyrics with just a bit of double entendre intended for a teen audience.

Blockbuster, Wig Wam Bam, Funny Funny, and the American crossover hit Little Willy were just a few of their early chart successes. These were followed by more hits Hell Raiser, No You Don’t, AC-DC, Turn It Down and Sweet’s most famous song The Ballroom Blitz. Continue reading

“Fast” Eddie Clarke Motörhead’s Greatest Guitarist

Some Highlights Of The Late, Great, “Fast” Eddie Clarke, Guitarist Of Motörhead

The “classic” Motorhead line-up on stage circa 1980 (l-r) Phil Taylor, Eddie Clarke & Lemmy Kilmister photo: Simon Fowler

When “Fast” Eddie Clarke (October 5, 1950 – January 10, 2018), guitarist with Motörhead from 1976-1982 died from pneumonia last week at the age of 67, it closed the book on what many consider Motörhead’s greatest line-up.

In the space of a little over two years, Eddie Clarke, singer-bassist and founder Lemmy Kilmister and drummer Phil “Philthy Animal” Taylor, all died.

The trio put out albums that are considered the high points of Motörhead’s career: Motörhead (1977), Bomber (1979), Overkill (1979), Ace of Spades (1980), No Sleep ’til Hammersmith (Live 1981) and Iron Fist (1982).

After being forced out or leaving Motörhead in 1982 (stories conflict on the departure), “Fast” Eddie formed Fastway with bassist Pete Way of UFO. Continue reading

“Good Acting Is Like Good Love-Making” – Old Time Movie Stars Reflect On Acting

 Actors Talking About Acting

Heartbreak Pair in New Air Epic – William Holden reaches new stellar heights as a flying cadet whose career is temporarily shattered through his love for Veronica Lake in Paramount’s “I Wanted Wings” an Arthur Hornblow, Jr., production based on the Army Air Corps training and tactics. Blonde and sultry newcomer, Miss Lake, plays menace in piece. photo – Paramount studios

William Holden – “The best actors I know have no style but that of genuine professionalism. They act each role according to the script. And if they do have a style, it is so much a part of their personality it can’t be noticed.” (Atlanta Constitution April 22, 1956)

If you hear people lament that today’s movie stars don’t stack up to the old stars, there are probably many reasons for the lack of charisma or star power today. Regardless of their approach to acting, the old-time Hollywood stars all had one thing in common: they came through the studio system, where they were trained and “groomed” to be and act like movie stars. How each actor accomplished that varied from actor to actor.

Whatever techniques they used to develop their acting style; “The Method,” “Chekhov,” or simply showing up and knowing your lines, movie stars usually could provide philosophy or insight into their craft when being interviewed by the press. Whether they had honed their skills on the legitimate stage or come straight from a farm, to be a star you had to learn and understand something about acting.

Here are twelve old time movie stars expressing their views, sometimes simply, other times with great insight about acting.

Veronica Lake – “I’m no great actress. I just had a movie job dumped into my lap, the public seemed to like me, and that’s all there was to it.”  (Wide World Features May 3, 1942)

Rod Steiger – “Good acting is like good love-making. Leave yourself alone and explore. Do it. Don’t watch yourself do it. Don’t think about yourself doing it. You just go from moment to moment. But don’t take anything for granted either, especially not in acting. That’s when you get your ass kicked.” (Los Angeles Times  September 15, 1994)

Yul Bryner – “I’m not of the can-kicking, shovel-carrying, ear-scratching, torn T-shirt school of acting. There are very few real men in the movies these days. Yet being a real man is the most important quality an actor can offer on the screen.”  (Detroit Free Press April 27, 1958)

Paul Muni – “Acting is a scientific art. It’s a matter of trial and error. You try out your effects like a man who is experimenting on a new chemical formula. I enjoy the experimenting.”  (Boston Globe Feb. 6, 1949)

Barbara Stanwyck on reluctantly accepting the role of the “no good” Phyllis Dietrichson in Double Indemnity – “Once I said yes I was awfully glad. During the making of it Fred (MacMurray) would go to the rushes. I remember once the next day he said, ‘You’re not acting, you’re enjoying it.’ And I remember saying ,’Fred, really, how was I?’  And very candidly he looked at me and said, ‘I don’t know about you- but I was wonderful!’ And that was such a true remark. Actors only look at themselves.”  (Los Angeles Times April 5, 1987)

Spencer Tracy – “I’ve always played the same character. Larry Olivier says the way to act is learn your lines and get on with it. I’m Spencer Tracy with some deference to the character. When a person says he’s an actor – he’s a personality. The whole idea is to show your personality. There are people who are much better technically, but who cares?  Nobody cares.” (Los Angeles Times  November 18, 1962) Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #66 – Rudolph Valentino Goes To Court In Costume

Rudolph Valentino Is Not Acting, He’s Actually In Court – 1925

Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d’Antonguella – aka Rudoplh Valentino, one of the world’s biggest film stars in 1925.

As big as a film star Valentino was it would not prevent him from being compelled to show up in court against his wishes to answer a speeding violation. His crime: going 38 in a 20 mile per hour zone in Santa Monica.

The news caption reads:

Valentino in Court in Screen Costume – Fined $50

Rudolph Valentino, failing in an attempt to have a representative answer speeding charges in court asked to have court held at his studio pleading business pressure. Justice Marchetti became angered demanded Valentino’s appearance and fined him $50. Photo of “The Sheik” in the costume of his latest screen vehicle – 9-11-25 (photo Wide World)

Valentino was not being a prima donna asking the court to come to the studio. Shutting down production for one day of the film he was starring in, “The Eagle” would cost $10,000. More importantly the people who could least afford it, all the extras involved in the filming, would have lost a days wages

On September 8 Justice Marchetti said, “I am sorry that anyone should lose money or be inconvenienced, but the court can show no partiality. Before the law a famous actor is in the same situation as anyone else. The dignity of the law would be compromised, the courts would be made a laughing stock, were I to set up legal machinery in a studio.” Continue reading

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young Is Dead And So Is AC/DC

AC/DC Was Dead Long Before Founder Malcolm Young Died

Malcolm Young’s death does not end AC/DC.

The end unofficially came at the conclusion of the Black Ice tour in Bilbao Spain on June 28, 2010. That was the last show Malcolm Young performed with AC/DC.

In 2014 when Malcolm Young left the band because he was suffering from dementia, that more or less sealed the deal. Any song put out in the future by AC/DC would not be written by Malcolm Young.

Though there is a band called AC/DC and they are still recording and touring, the 2008 Black Ice album was the last that Malcolm Young had a hand in writing. Musically, that is what is important.

Guitar players are replaceable. Great songwriters are not.

As great as a rhythm guitar player he was, writing music is what Malcolm Young did best.

Not just writing amazing songs, but incredible memorable riffs and jaw dropping solos performed by his brother Angus. They are deceptively simple, yet undeniably catchy songs and riffs that changed rock n’ roll and influenced, and will continue to influence generations of musicians.

Proof? Listen to the magical 1977 AC/DC album Let There Be Rock.

As hard as it may be, ignore Bon Scott’s brilliant tongue in cheek lyrics and just listen to the main riff of every song.

How many rock albums have two memorable songs? Let There Be Rock has, “Go Down”, “Dog Eat Dog” ,”Let There Be Rock”, “Bad Boy Boogie”,  “Problem Child”, “Overdose”, “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be”, and “Whole Lotta Rosie”. Eight catchy songs, heard once – remembered forever.

Lead guitarist Angus Young, the only remaining original band member, has continued AC/DC.

I feel sorry for Angus Young. Angus certainly keeps AC/DC going not for the money, but  because honestly what else is there for him to do? An entertainer, a performer has a need to perform.

However without retired bassist Cliff Williams, the unceremoniously dispatched lead singer Brian Johnson and drummer Phil Rudd and the late rhythm guitarist and main songwriter Malcolm Young, this is not AC/DC.

This is like calling Paul McCartney and his recent 2017 touring band The Beatles. It’s not and McCartney knows better.

The touring AC/DC is is basically a juggernaut of explosions, lights,and sound. Even with the great Angus Young heading them up, AC/DC are truthfully now no better than an AC/DC tribute band.

How many post-1982 songs were in AC/DC’s live set list in 2016 with Axl Rose on lead vocals? Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #65 – Lillian Gish, Ethereal Beauty In The Dawn of Cinema

Lillian Gish – An Eight Decade Career in Entertainment

 

Lillian Gish, whom George Jean Nathan the eminent critic, has termed “the finest actress in motion pictures”, has again scored a signal triumph by her characterization of “Romola” in the Inspiration company’s production of George Eliot’s celebrated novel of the same name. Miss Gish spent a year in Florence, Italy making this picture, under the direction of Henry King. Photoplay reviewers have classed her work in “Romola” as fine as that of “The White Sister”. “Romola is a Metro-Goldwyn release. October 20, 1925

For longevity there are few stars that can rival Lillian Gish (October 14, 1893 – February 27, 1993).

The star of D. W. Griffith’s legendary Birth of a Nation (1915), Gish made her stage debut in 1898 and her final movie The Whales of August in 1987. In between those many years, Gish alternated between the stage, movies and television.

In 1914 theatrical producer David Belasco was quoted as saying that Lillian Gish “is the most beautiful blond he had ever seen.”

George Jean Nathan the critic who provided the quote in the news caption above was in love with Lillian Gish and the two dated for many years. In April 1925, Variety, the weekly theatrical paper, reported that the two were engaged to be married. Similar reports emerged in 1927. Gish and Nathan never  married and no reason or announcement was ever provided except that they were just “good friends.” Continue reading

Was Game 5 “Greatest World Series Game Ever?” Who Knows? The Game Ended At 1:40 A.M When Most Of The East Coast Was Fast Asleep

Was Game 5 Of The 2017 World Series The Greatest World Series Game Ever Played?

How Many Were Still Watching When The Game Ended At 1:40 am EST?

WORLD SERIES game 5 2017 1:39 A.M EST

I started watching game five of the World Series with the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night.

It looked like it was going to be a great game. The Astros had overcome two deficits and at 11:30 pm the score was tied 7-7 and it was only the sixth inning.

But like most people on the east coast who had to get up for work in the morning, it was getting near time to turn in for the night.

Some  children might get a pass and be allowed to stay up til midnight, but not many, because there is school the next day. And the adults? As much as they want to watch, they know they have real life obligations that require not being exhausted the next morning.

Over 19 million people watched the game but viewership peaked between 11:45  – midnight EST. After that, a steady drop-off in viewers occurred as the game went on and on.

The winning run – game 5 2017 World Series

It did not surprise me that the game ended with a dramatic 13-12 Astros extra inning victory. What was surprising was that the game lasted until 1:40 in the morning. Total time of the game: five hours and seventeen minutes!

How many millions of people missed seeing this great game because of how long it lasted and its starting time? We’ll never know. All I know is that I did not see its conclusion, nor did any of my friends.

As I will continue to point out in story after story, Major League Baseball needs to get their priorities straightened out.

Is it more important to run nonsensical advertisements featuring children “you’re a bigger fan than me? Prove it.” to sell officially sanctioned MLB garbage? Or is it more important to have that target audience watching the games?

Why a Sunday World Series game was not played during the daytime is simply because FOX TV gets to dictate the start time and derive maximum advertising revenue. Money is more important than the future of the game. Continue reading

6 Ways Television Is Helping To Make Baseball Unwatchable

How Television Has Helped To Ruin Baseball

Watching the game from center field – the only way an entire generation of TV director’s have decided to televise baseball

Here are just a few of the ways television has helped to ruin watching baseball. None of the corrective suggestions will be heeded, but someone has to point it out.

1 – The camera angles

Guess what? About 80% of the time you’re not watching baseball. What you are seeing is four guys – a pitcher’s back, a catcher, a batter and an umpire.

What kind of a lead is the runner taking? Where are the outfielders shaded? Is the overused shift in effect? Where was that ball hit? Is it going to be a hit?

How would we know? The audience rarely sees any other part of the field except from the center field camera.

Unless you attend games in person and sit in center field with a high power telescope, this is not the way anyone views an entire baseball game. Nor should it be the way to televise one.

It would be nice to see the return of the overhead mezzanine high camera from behind the catcher so we can see the whole field.

So here are two angles from behind the plate – one high and wide the other not as high. Both of these camera angles are more conducive and infinitely superior to the view you see on most broadcasts.

2- The busy screen

I don’t know about most people but I want to watch a baseball game, not be diverted by ads and a constant scroll of information.

While not every channel is guilty of the news scroll on the bottom of the screen, your view is still cluttered with unnecessary information.

Watching the World Series there are no other scores or news to scroll on the screen so you won’t see the scroll there. Yet that doesn’t stop clutter.

Showing “Fox World Series Game 1” in the upper right hand portion of the screen for the ENTIRE game? Does the score, runners on base, balls and strikes, number of pitches, pitch speed and all other sorts of information need to be shown every second of the game?

Go watch a game from the 1980’s or earlier. How did people enjoy the first 40 years of baseball telecasts with just having the game and nothing else on the screen? Quite well.

Check out a random pre-1980 baseball broadcast on Youtube to see what I mean.

3 – The damn box superimposed around home plate

With the exception of a few local broadcast outlets, most networks televising baseball have adapted their own version of a strike zone box. And it’s getting to be de rigueur instead of a special feature.

This horrible innovation that began a few years ago is an artificial rectangular box on the TV screen surrounding home plate, that supposedly identifies the strike zone and differentiates strikes from balls. Unfortunately it is in the direct line of sight of the television viewer.

The worst part about it is you can’t ignore it. Continue reading

How Baseball Fans “Watched” The 1911 World Series

Before Radio Or Television If You Didn’t Have A Ticket To The World Series – You Could Still Watch It On The Play-O-Graph

Advertisement for the “wonderful Automatic Play-O-Graph” – Philadelphia Inquirer Oct. 13, 1911

In August, 1911 with $10,000 capital, John W. Baker, Henry H. Abbott and Sumner Ford incorporated the Baseball Play-O-Graph Company in Stamford, Connecticut. The men devised a way of transmitting the actions of sporting events “live” through telephone and telegraph.

The depiction of baseball games through mechanical means had been accomplished previously, but not showing the track of the ball, which was what made the Play-O-Graph unique. The Play-O-Graph would show the action without the aid of electric lights.

Baseball fans congregate outside the New York Herald Building during the 1911 World Series

In October of 1911 the American League champion Philadelphia Athletics lead by manager Connie Mack would play John McGraw’s New York Giants for the World Championship.

Giants manager John McGraw (l) and catcher Chief Myers (r) at Polo Grounds before 1911 World Series.

Giants manager John McGraw (l) and catcher Chief Myers (r) at Polo Grounds before 1911 World Series.

There were a couple of oddities in the 1911 World Series. Each game alternated cities with games one, three and five being played in New York and games two, four and six played in Philadelphia. The other strange occurrence was that there was a one week delay between games three and four as a deluge of rain hit Philadelphia for six straight days.

After inspecting the field for playability causing the fifth straight postponement of game four, umpire Bill Klem joked, “There was a pool around second base big enough for a diving exhibition by (swimming champ) Annette Kellerman. I was unable to locate the home plate for the lack of a diving apparatus. The outer gardens would make excellent pasturage for a herd of hippopotami.”

Both teams were considered evenly matched and felt confident they could win the series. Since 1904 each team had won three pennants.

Line outside the Polo Grounds at 7:00 am to buy tickets for game 3 of the 1911 World Series. photo: Bain

When tickets for the opening game of the World Series went on sale on Friday, October 13 at the Giants home field, the Polo Grounds all the tickets were gone within two hours. After the sell-out, the regular ticket price of three dollars shot up to five, six, seven and eventually eight dollars from speculators (scalpers) who had scooped up as many tickets as possible.

With over 38,000 fans cramming the ballpark it would be difficult to see the game without a ticket.

That would be where the Play-O-Graph would come into use. Setting up their machines at four locations in the United States, fans could see the game as it transpired.

“When the pitcher pitches the ball and when the batter hits it and when he is thrown out, is all shown upon the Play-O-Graph. Every move of the game is made clear to the spectator who watches the ball as it moves from place to place upon the board,” the company proclaimed.

The company installed two boards in New York, one in Chicago, one in Detroit and one in Philadelphia. Continue reading

Classic Hollywood #64 – Judy Garland & Vincente Minnelli at The Stork Club

Judy Garland and Future Husband Vincente Minnelli At The Stork Club In New York 1945

Judy Garland Vincent Minelli Stork Club photo AcmeJudy is altar bound again

Hollywood, CA – Screen actress Judy Garland has announced that she and director Vincente Minnelli will be married in New York City, at the Little Church Around The Corner, in June. The exact date has not been set, but it will be soon after June 7th when Judy’s divorce from composer Dave Rose becomes becomes final. The couple is shown together during a recent visit to the Stork Club, in New York.  (4-23-45) credit: Acme

Garland, age 23 and Minnelli age 42 had worked together on Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) and The Clock (1945). The couple wedded on June 15, 1945 not in New York, but at Judy’s mother Ethel’s home 750 South Ogden Drive in Los Angeles. It was Garland’s second of an eventual five marriages. Continue reading