Happy Birthday to the LAVA LAMP: Fifty Years of Cool Wax!

This piece was originally published July 15th, 2013.

Lava Lamp IconIn the mid-Fifties, a former WWII pilot and post-war British accountant named Edward Craven Walker was at a local English country pub called Queen’s Head along with a friend, and found himself staring at a homemade egg timer made by one of the pub’s regulars.

This particular object, which Walker described as a “contraption made out of a cocktail shaker, old tins and things” dated from WWII, and was filled with two immiscible liquids (liquids that do not mix together).

As the contents, “odd oily globules” were heated upon the pub’s stove, the wax rose and signaled that your egg was ready.

Inspired, he purchased the egg timer/lamp and worked for a decade and a half tinkering with various liquids and containers in an attempt to create a better version. He achieved his goal in 1963.

Walker filed a patent for a “Display Device” in 1965 and but had already started merchandising his creation in September of 1963 as a company called Crestworth Ltd. using the name Astro Lamp.

 

Edward Craven Walker

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BOB PEAK: American Illustrator Superstar

This piece was originally published June 1&th, 2013

Bob Peak Icon TemplateThere are times here at Mystery Box H.Q. when I set out to write about a subject that I feel is so undeniably a legend, so incredibly talented beyond mere words, and such a large influential part of the fabric of popular culture, that I start to feel…to say it in two words— humbly intimidated.

Bob Peak is one of those subjects.

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THE ROLLING STONES: SOME GIRLS Live in Texas ’78

This piece was originally published April 8th, 2013.

Some Girls still stCharlie Watts Some Girls Icon Templateands today as one of The Rolling Stones last incredible album masterpieces.

While they certainly made some outstanding albums afterwards—Tattoo You and Undercover are both high points—there were none that would be so perfectly complete as Some Girls.

Released in 1978 and quickly becoming a #1 album, it is hailed as an across the board classic, and one of their all time best selling studio albums.

Recorded in ’77 & early ’78, the writing and sessions were done amidst a time of even more internal turmoil than usual for The Stones, with Keith Richards’ looming Toronto drug bust a concern as to whether he could be imprisoned for years, and the challenge of responding to punk rock’s ground zero takedown of the dinosaurs of many of rock and roll’s giants.

 

The original cover art (there was also another color variant cover) to the 
Some Girls album, spoofing a wig ad is brilliant. The cover was quickly changed 
when copyright issues came up regarding the various female celebrities depicted.

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LED ZEPPELIN: CELEBRATING THEIR LAST HURRAH!

This piece was originally published December 17th, 2012.

Led Zeppelin Post Icon
Ah, Ah,
We come from the land of the ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow,
The hammer of the gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying: Valhalla I am coming!
On we sweep with thrashing oar, our only goal will be the western shore.
© 1970 Led Zeppelin

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The above is the lyrics to Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” from their third album, 1970’s Led Zeppelin III.

It was written by Robert Plant after being inspired by a concert the band played at a college in Reykjavik, Iceland and touring the country, which reminded him of Viking hordes and big ships.

It’s perspective, as that of the Vikings leaving Scandinavia in search of new lands and new adventures, always left me with the impression that it easily could have been a song about the members of Led Zeppelin themselves.

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The gods swooped down to conquer in their own private jet

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JOHN ENTWISTLE: Halloween’s Favorite Bass Player

This piece was originally published October 22nd, 2012.

John Entwistle was the legendary and highly influential bass player for The Who.

Before Entwistle, pop music fans of all different styles could care less about the bass as an instrument, often not paying that much attention to who was playing it or listening for its sound.

Playing the bass as a lead instrument with a full on volume, treble and bass attack, and with his very specific selection of type of bass, plus what strings and amplification to use, Entwistle brought an uncompromising new approach to the bass guitar.

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GODZILLA VS MEGALON: JET JAGUAR Finally Sees The U.S.A. on DVD!

This piece was originally published September 24th, 2012.

Jet Jaguar Post Icon TemplateDespite my hyperbole with the title for this week’s Mystery Box column, there is actually a great cause for celebration to the many of us obsessive Godzilla fans.  

Finally, an official stateside DVD release for one of the more controversially loved and disliked (and in many cases both) Godzilla films in his entire canon,Godzilla vs. Megalon has appeared.

This past August, after years of subsisting on via poor quality VHS versions, sad expensive bootlegs and Japanese only DVD copies, then after another long, long wait from the time the rumors started, cover art finally appeared, and there were endless promises and pushed back release dates, the prize finally appeared, arriving in my mail.

At long last, for the very first time we have the company Media Blasters’ Toho approved, official release of Godzilla vs. Megalon as a DVD you can hold in your hand and pop into your player.

 

Front and back cover for Media Blasters’ DVD release of Godzilla vs. Megalon

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“Of Sounds And Something Else”: Remembering Music Producer TOM WILSON

This piece was originally published September 10th, 2012.

Tom Wilson Post Icon TemplateSeptember 6th marked the anniversary of the death in 1978 of one of music’s great producers of the 1950’s and 1960’s, Tom Wilson.

Although his name is not as familiar as that of say, Phil Spector, Brian Wilson or George Martin, his achievements and influence are profoundly important.

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Record producer and DJ Tom Wilson stands outside ABC Studios, in New York City,
promoting his radio show “The Music Factory” — June 21, 1967. Photo: GETTY IMAGES

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HUGO, MAN OF A THOUSAND FACES

This piece was originally published March 26th, 2012.

Hugo Post TemplateHere at Mystery Box H.Q. I was pondering a few column ideas as I often do, and one that I’d wanted to cover for some time was a fave toy from the ’70s called Hugo, Man Of A Thousand Faces.

I have been spending a few days up in the beautiful green of New Hampshire, and one night after laying in bed wondering if indeed this Hugo toy would make for a good column subject, I got up and made my way to splash some water on my face.

There staring back at me from one of the bathroom shelves was none other than a hand and body lotion named HUGO. 

If ever there would be a sign from the retro toy heavens telling me to write about something, then surely, this was it…


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GEORGE CLINTON and PARLIAMENT-FUNKADELIC: THE MOTHERSHIP STILL ORBITS

This piece was originally published February 13th, 2012.

Funkadelic Post TemplateThe Mothership touched down a few nights ago here in Providence, RI.

Legendary “King Funkateer” George Clinton, brought his mighty Parliament-Funkadelic tour (now known as The P-Funk All Stars) to the venerable downtown nightspot, Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel for an evening that will not soon be forgotten by the lucky punters in attendance.

Elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997, Parliament/Funkadelic still remain as one of the largest groups to ever be elected to the Hall, and most definitely the most colorful of any to ever grace a stage.

The history of George Clinton’s musical accomplishments is as vast as the outer space themes he so frequently mined for ideas.

 

The Parliaments in 1969 (George on the right)

 

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Imagine a career that spans a timeline from the mid-fifties and mid sixties (brief songwriter with Motown, R&B vocal group The Parliaments) through to the late sixties and seventies (formation of Acid Funk Rock group Funkadelic and sister group, the chart topping hit-makers Parliament) to solo work in the eighties and nineties, and onto his present time as a heavily sampled and heavily influential bandleader.

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MINGERING MIKE: THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF SOUL MUSIC’S GREATEST SUPERSTAR YOU NEVER HEARD

This piece was originally published January 16th, 2012.

Mingering Mike Post TemplateThe true story of Mingering Mike is as unbelievable and gloriously happily, as it is also sadly believable and poignantly bittersweet.

For a period of time there was little this amazingly talented Giant of Soul Music, with his touch of gold, did not turn into a massive success.

“Between 1968 and 1977 Mingering Mike recorded over fifty albums, managed thirty-five of his own record labels, and produced, directed and starred in nine of his own motion pictures. In 1972 alone he released fifteen LPs and over twenty singles, and his traveling revue played for sold out crowds the world over.”

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