Views on pop culture through my eyes

Posts tagged ‘blondie’

Summer Reviews Part 2

So what CDs and DVDs am I enjoying this summer? Read on…

Music

Jason Mraz — Yes!
Jason continues to mine the adult contemporary terrain of “I’m Yours.” Honestly, I have heard it about 5 times through, and nothing is sticking to me. What happened to the guy who did fun up-tempo songs like “The Remedy”? Time to mix it up, Jason. Grade: D

Ed Sheeran — + (plus)
I fell in love with him on his second album. So now it is time that I checked out his debut album. You have the hits: The A Team and Lego House. Plus a good collection of tunes that show he is someone to watch out for. Interestingly, radio just played the folk songs, while he has some nice uptempo/hip-hop inspired ones. Grade: B+

Celine Dion — Loved Me Back to Life
Celine’s most recent pop album and her first since “Taking Chances.” It is definitely growing on me. You have pop, uptempo songs, ballads and a few cover songs. Special guests include Ne-Yo and Stevie Wonder. She’s been better, but I still like it. Grade: B-

Mary J. Blige — The London Sessions
Mary J. went to London to record this album which pairs her with Sam Smith, Disclosure and more. So you have some dance textures on here. An interesting diversion, but I liked the previous album “My Life II” much more. Grade: B

Pentatonix — PTX, Vol. IV: Classics
The latest EP from the a capella 5-some has them covering songs by Queen, a-ha, Dolly Parton (who guests on here) and more. It is still amazing that they can create such full arrangements with just their voices. Grade: A-

Beauty and the Beast — Soundtrack
The soundtrack to the latest Disney smash movie includes all your favorites from the film including “Be Our Guest,” “Belle,” “Gaston” and the title track. Includes bonus songs from Celine Dion, Ariana Grande & John Legend and Josh Groban. Grade: A-

Kelsea Ballerini — The First Time
The debut album from the up and coming country/pop singer. Features the hit songs: “Love Me Like You Mean It” and “Peter Pan.” She reminds me a bit of Taylor Swift. She’s definitely someone to watch out for. She is on the road with Lady Antebellum this summer: Grade: A-

Brett Eldredge — Bring You Back
I became a fan of this man on his second album “Illinois.” This is his first one. The vocals are what stand out for me, even if the songs are not as strong as what he has on his second album. I definitely sensed potential, even if it was not all there. Grade: B-

Blondie — Blondie 4(0)Ever: Greatest Hits Deluxe Redux/Ghosts of Download
Ground-breaking new-wave group Blondie is back for their 40th anniversary. The first half is re-recorded versions of their biggest hits. The second half is all-new songs. Honestly I wish I just could have bought the 2nd half, since I have several greatest hits collections from them already. The new versions bring nothing new to the equation. The second half has Blondie trying on dance and latin textures. Includes their take on Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax.” Grade: B-

Josh Turner — Deep South
The deep-voiced singer country singer is back with an all-new collection. Highlights include the title track and “All About You.” He has a few beach inspired tunes on this. Not too much different from his other albums. It is a solid collection. Grade: B

Natasha Bedingfield — Strip Me
I was a fan of this singer’s first 2 albums, and am finally getting around to this one. It came out 7 years ago, and it bombed. It shouldn’t have. She has dance, rock, ballads, and alternative music on here. Plus there are some unplugged versions and videos on the deluxe version. Still hoping she comes out with a new album. Grade: A-

Videos

Sing Street
What a pleasant surprise this movie is! A teenage boy falls for an older woman and makes up a lie about being in a band and needing an actress for his music video. This romantic comedy set in Ireland in the 80’s has a great soundtrack, so you get Duran Duran and Hall & Oates. Plus the band that he starts with a few other misfits from school, ends up being pretty good with some catchy songs of their own. You’ll enjoy yourself. Grade: A-

Sully
Ton Hanks stars as the title character “Sully” Sullenberg who landed an airliner on the Hudson river. It is based on Sullenberg’s autobiography and directed by Clint Eastwood. Did he know what he was doing? Did he make the right choice? How did he handle being labeled a hero? Aaron Eckhart costars as the copilot. Grade: B

Southside with You
Otherwise known as the Michelle and Barack Obama date movie. This is the story of the first date between Michelle and Barack Obama in the southside of Chicago. They went to an art museum, and then to a rally at a black church. You could see the sparks flying between them. Grade: B+

Denial
The true story of a Holocaust denier taking a writer to court in England for slander. She was someone who called him out for what he was doing. Yet he had the nerve to try and sue her for slander. Could she prove that the Holocaust really existed? Or would she let the whole Jewish race down? Starring Rachel Weisz, Tom Wilkinson and Timothy Spall. Grade: A-

Miss Peregine’s Home for Peculiar Children
Tim Burton directs this dark fantasy film based on book by Ransom Riggs. Eva Green stars as the title character. Jake is a teenager who travels to Wales to investigate the school that his grandfather went to. It is the school mentioned in the title. So you have a floating girl, a boy with bees, masked twins, and an invisible boy among others. The movie reminded me of other ones. You take parts of X-Men, Harry Potter and other fantasy films and you have this one. But I still enjoyed myself. Grade: B

Suicide Squad
The 3rd movie in Warner Brother’s DC Universe, brings together a bunch of villians who are tasked with saving the world because no one else can. So you have Dead Shot, Harley Quinn, Killer Croc and a number of other villians you have never heard of. You have the Joker too, but his story line is pretty much about him getting back with Harley Quinn (Margot Robbie). Again, I think special effects over shadowed the story in this one. It is a pretty forgettable movie. Grade: D

So that’s my take. If you agree or disagree with any of my comments, I would love to hear from you.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for friends, family and loved ones.

Complete Collections

As a music fan, I have noticed something with a lot of my favorite artists: they seem to be releasing more versions of songs that I already own. What I mean by this is: another greatest hits collection, or another live album. How about some new stuff?2371339

I am a creative person, I get it. It is not always easy to be creative and come up with new material. Maybe, you have writer’s block and don’t feel you can come up with something as good as you did in your heyday. But as someone who likes to have complete collections for an artist, it can be frustrating to keep up with these re-issues and re-packagings and such.

Another factor is the fact that artists make their money from live performances these days and not their records. So a new collection can serve as a reminder of an artist’s legacy as well as be an overview for those new to their career.

Another factor for me is having music on a bunch of different formats still and in different locations in my house. I have vinyl albums, 45s, cassettes, CDs, and then MP3s too. I converted a bunch of my vinyl albums and cassettes to MP3, but then my record player stopped working. And the speakers for the stereo gave out also. And then I don’t have enough space on my computer to store all the MP3s now. I will need a few back-up drives just to store everything.

So where do you draw the line? Do you buy the “new” release or just stick with what you already have? For me, I am looking at the situation a few different ways. For example, I will look at the outputs of the B-52’s, Pat Benatar, Blondie, and Olivia Newton-John — artists I have loved since the late 70’s, early 80’s.

I just got the B-52’s anthology “Nude on the Moon: The B-52’s Anthology.” It is their most comprehensive collection. I have all of their studio albums, and a previous greatest hits set too. But it is nice to have all the songs together in one collection. It has a few extras: alternate takes or live versions of some songs. Now I see they have 3 live albums, do they need 3? I am probably going to buy one since I am going to their show in September. I’ll pass on the other 2.

Pat Benatar has a new collection called “35th Anniversary Tour (Live)”. Now she includes her husband and guitarist Neil Giraldo in all the credits. I have 3 live albums from her already. Not sure I need this one too. Still love her.

Blondie celebrated 40 years last year with the release of “Blondie 4(0)Ever/Ghosts of Download.” One album was a CD of remixed and re-recorded greatest hits along with one disc of new material. I already have 4 previous collections from them, and if I had my way I would pass on the “new” greatest hits collection. But it is bundled with the new album, so I have to get both! Oh well!

Olivia Newton-John had a great run in the 70’s and 80’s. Now she still records but most of it is sort of mellow and boring to me. So I have passed on some of her recent studio albums. But now I see she has a 2-CD collection from her Las Vegas show. Yeah, yet another live album. But I am considering getting it, as it looks to be a good souvenir of a veteran artist.

Another thing I have noticed is the ability to release one-off songs at will — with songs being put on ITunes when they are released. They may be soundtrack songs, songs where the artist is featured on another person’s song, or just random songs that don’t fit on an album. An artist doesn’t have to put out a full album anymore… just release songs when they are finished. Do you get all of these songs too? You probably didn’t know they existed in most cases! I love Wynonna Judd, she has about 5 of these songs… Lady Antebellum: 5; Kelly Clarkson: 2; Rihanna: 8… and so on.

So now you can see what I am talking about. And don’t forget when an artist dies, or when they change labels either. The record company will release new collections whenever they want to. I realize I can’t keep up with everything, and I am not going to try. And then don’t forget Christmas albums or cover albums either, all artists seem to do those too sometime in their careers.

KiltManinSoCal is a Los Angeles-based writer and designer. Be sure to check out the latest T-Shirts for sale here, including Marriage Equality and Real Men Wear Kilts lines. They make great gifts for birthdays, anniversaries and more.

Blondie: Rapture Be Pure

Blondie in Concert
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Club Nokia LA Live

Special guest: Nico Vega

Panic of Girls Tour 2011

Songs performed: “Union City Blue,” “Dreaming,” “Atomic,” “D Day,” “Call Me,” “Love Doesn’t Frighten Me,” “Maria,” “What I Heard,” “China Shoes,” “Wipe Off My Sweat,” “Horizontal Twist,” “Mother,” “Rapture,” “Fight For Your Right,” “One Way or Another,” “The Tide Is High,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Heart of Glass”

Comments: Looking every bit the rock star she is, Debbie Harry took the stage at Club Nokia dressed in a military-inspired coat and dress with red sunglasses. Sure, she and her bandmates look a bit older and grayer, but the music was as strong as ever.Blondie "Panic of Girls"

This was my third time seeing the group since they got back together in the late 90’s. And from the show they put on, they seem to be reenergized with the new music and excited to be performing their classics live to their adoring fans. It was nice to see them in a smaller venue (2300 capacity) and to be so close to the stage too (We were about 10 feet from the stage).

As the set went on, Debbie took off more clothes until she had a mini-dress and leggings on. She is still a commanding stage presence in her 60’s. Chris Stein and Clem Burke round out the original lineup with help from Leigh Foxx (bass), Tommy Kessler (guitar) and Matt Katz-Bohen (keyboards).

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Best of ‘Greatest Hits’ for the Holidays

The holiday gift giving season is upon us. Do you have something for everyone on your list? As a big music fan, I have quite a CD/MP3 collection. Greatest hits collections are great for gift giving. You get all the hits people know, plus usually a few choice album cuts too. They are great for casual fans or die hards too.

  1. Madonna “Immaculate Collection”
    Still a gold standard as far as “greatest hits” collections. She has had a few other collections, but this one is still the strongest. It is amazing how many of these songs you still hear played today: “Holiday,” “Vogue,” “Crazy for You”. If you want to go deeper, try “Celebration” her most recent and most definitive collection (available as a 1 or 2 disc collection).
  2. Journey “Greatest Hits”
    They are still popular! I really believe we have “Glee” to thank for their continued popularity. After “Don’t Stop Believin’” was featured on there, you heard a lot more of this band. They have great sing-along songs and put on a fantastic live show. Not a bad one in the bunch. If you want to go deeper, try “The Essential Journey” (available as a 2 or 3 disc collection).
  3. Blondie “The Best of Blondie”
    Another influential and overlooked group of the 70’s and 80’s. Big hits like “Rapture,” “Heart of Glass” and “The Tide is High.” Debbie Harry was the cool chick lead singer that influenced everyone from Madonna to Britney Spears. If you want to go deeper, try the anthology “The Platinum Collection.”
  4. Donna Summer “The Journey: The Very Best of Donna Summer”
    Her most recent best-of collection featuring all her essential 70’s and 80’s hits (“Love to Love You Baby” to “This Time I Know It’s For Real”) plus a few new songs too that will have you out there dancing on the floor.
  5. Duran Duran “Greatest”
    Little did people think that the Fab Five as some people called them back in the day, would have the legacy that they do. Expanding upon the earlier “Decade” collection, this is the definitive collection for them. Everything from “Girls on Film” to “Ordinary World.”
  6. Keith Urban “18 Kids”
    I’ve heard his music described as “country for people that don’t like country music.” He’s much more rock than traditional country…with pop sensibilities to his songs. You are sure to tapping your foot and singing along to such songs as “You’re My Better Half” and “Think of Me.”
  7. Michael Jackson “The Essential Michael Jackson”
    A much more comprehensive collection than “HIStory,” this CD has everything from the Jackson 5 to the Jacksons to all of his solo mega-hits. One of the biggest and most influential entertainers of our lifetime — that was taken from us too soon. His songs will live on forever.
  8. Britney Spears “Greatest Hits: My Prerogative”
    Yeah, there is another collection called “The Singles Collection” that from the looks of it, is pretty good too (don’t have it), but her first best-of collection shows what made her the star that she is. Catchy tunes that you will be singing for days from “…Baby, One More Time” to “Toxic.”
  9. ABBA “Gold”
    This group has shown some longevity as far as popularity. They never seemed that big in the US to me… always bigger in Europe or South America… but then a little show/movie called “Mamma Mia” brilliantly brought them back into the spotlight and they haven’t left. Hear the original versions of all the original ear candy songs from the 70’s and 80’s. Definitely a guilty pleasure.
  10. Earth, Wind & Fire “Greatest Hits”
    Another great group that has had a great run. Sure to be a favorite at your backyard BBQ or dinner party, these guys combined rock, funk, and R&B into a delectable combination. Featuring such classics as “Shining Star” and “Fantasy.”

These are sure to be popular stocking stuffers for everyone on your gift list. Whether you order them from Amazon or download them from iTunes… you are getting collections with tons of hits on them.

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