REVEALING DAVID BOWIE’S BIRTHDAY SECRET

This piece was originally published January 14th, 2013.

David Bowie Secret Post IconOn Tuesday, January 8th at 5:00 AM, David Bowie, on what was his 66th birthday, gave his fans around the world an unprecedented gift by suddenly releasing a single, with an accompanying video and new photograph, on his web site and for immediate download purchase on iTunes.

The song was simply added without any notifications or press releases.

As I saw the video and listened to the song, with those incredible, familiar sounding chords, I knew that, for myself, 2013 was already off to a great beginning. For here was never expected new music from one of my top 5 favorite artists that I have revered since I was an inquisitive little child staring at the strange alien-like being depicted on the American LP cover for his Space Oddity album.

Presented was this fantastic surprise that is truly one the best kept secrets to ever have been tucked away by any legendary mega-selling. hugely influential musical performer long thought to be retired and finished with making music.

Where Are We Now?, The Next Day, Ziggy Stardust, Berlin Trilogy, Thin White Duke

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LYRES: Back on Fyre! — MY FAVORITE MUSICAL ACTS, PART 3!

This piece was originally published November 19th, 2012.

Lyres Post Icon TemplateOnce again, here is the next installment of a series of columns that would each cover one musical act that I would gladly go to see in concert over and over again.

As previously mentioned in an earlier episode, in deciding which acts should go into this list of live favorites, these are my prerequisites:

1) They are still currently making music I like and are touring live.
2) I’ve seen each more than a few times.
3) All stand out with a unique sound, presence and charisma.

Here I present to you,  MY FAVORITE MUSICAL ACTS, PART 3 — LYRES

By the time he had assembled his band Lyres, Boston singer/songwriter/tambourine shaker/pianist/Vox Continental organist, Jeff Conolly, had already become a legendary figure on The Hub’s local music scene via his band DMZ.

DMZ was one of the nascent punk rock bands formed in Boston, early 1976, that landed a label deal with Sire Records (and later Bomp!) with their Stooges/Saints/Stones sound filtered through a heavy dose of  ’60s garage trash punk.

 

DMZ featuring singer Jeff Conolly (center)

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After DMZ broke up, Conolly, a.k.a. “Monoman” (a nickname that has several possible origins including Jeff’s obsession with ’60s monaural soul and rock and roll recordings and collecting them, as well as a single-minded obstinate determination when it comes to running a band) founded Lyres in 1979, retaining the fiery power of DMZ, but pushing even more of a garage rock and soul 60’s sound to the forefront.

The two members of DMZ who stayed on as the first of a billion changing lineups of Lyres would be the always present Jeff Conolly and bassist Rick Coraccio.
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Presidential Candidates Endorsed By The Mystery Box

This piece was originally published November 5th, 2012.

Like many a good upstanding citizen of pop trash culture, Friday night monster movies and Saturday morning cartoons, it has always been a bit of a task for me to embrace most political candidates, yet for my entire life, ever since I was eligible, I have taken part in voting at every election.

I guess I watched Robert Redford in The Candidate a few too many times, so between that film and the fact that the majority of politicians that I have known personally have been sketchy, self serving egomaniacs out to fill their own slimy pockets, sort of makes one a bit suspicious and cynical of the whole process in general.

Still, as I write this on the eve of the next American Presidential election, I will vote and hope for the best, and wish that perhaps the winner will be a person that, if I were given the opportunity, is a person you could sit down with over a beer to talk about which Funkadelic or Rolling Stones album is best.

In keeping with the spirit of the great MAD Magazine, here then from Mystery Box H.Q. are my own “usual gang of idiots” picking some candidates we wished had won in the past or in tomorrow’s election…

Horror Host Legend Zacherley

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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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THREE FREAKY FILMS FOR THIS HALLOWEEN

This piece was originally published October 15th, 2012.

Coffin Joe Post Icon TemplateIt’s that fun time of the year again.

A time when the shadows get a little darker, the wind howls a bit more mournfully, and those creeps that have been lurking and glaring at you from around corners get a bit creepier.

Halloween is a special time of the year not only for the Trick or Treat kiddies on the alert waiting for their special day, but it’s also a great time for adults who are able to enjoy the entire month with a mindset filled with desire for all things spooky and scary.

So what better a way to pass your leisure hours than to bask in the warm glow of your friendly viewing screen and watch a few movies or TV shows that go well with the season.


For myself, I am typically not so enamored of the usual slick, CGI film re-make of the moment, and nothing reeks of dull for me as much as most of the re-made horror movies that tumble out of Hollywood.

I grew up with drive-in double and triple bill schlock and exploitation films from around the world.

For me these NOT critically acclaimed works are filled with ineptitude, low budgets, Swiss cheese scripts, and often questionable acting, thankfully! They are also often the work of single minded, visionary auteurs (albeit with a tweaked vision) and were made with far fewer cooks in the kitchen making decisions by committee, something that ruins many Hollywood films.

To use a term coined by the great Michael Weldon, these Psychotronic Films are a few of my favorite things.

Here then is a fun Mystery Box triple bill Halloween film recommendation for you to enjoy this month.
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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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Jimmy Cliff’s Glorious REBIRTH

This piece was originally published August 27th, 2012.

Jimmy Cliff Ivan Post Icon TemplateIt’s been a really good year for album releases by music legends.

There have been great albums turned out by the usually reliable: Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Americana, Patti Smith, Bhangra, Air, La Voyage Dans la Lune, Paul McCartney, Kisses On The Bottom, Tom Jones, Spirit In The Room, and Public Image Ltd.,This Is PIL. 

The Beach Boys delivered a surprisingly wonderful (and I have to admit, completely unexpected) album, That’s Why God Made The Radio, and two Rock and Roll Hall of Famers released not only among the year’s best albums, they are two of my faves of this year, plus they will also rank alongside these artists discographies finest.

The first album is Dr. John’s Locked Down, reviewed previously here, and the second, the subject of this Mystery Box— the newest album by Reggae legend Jimmy Cliff, astutely entitled Rebirth.

The Beginnings

 

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The Mystery Box: MY FAVORITE CARS OF TELEVISION

This piece was originally published August 13th, 2012.

HermanI love lists that mention fave thangs. 

It’s fun, although highly subjective, but you can usually come away with learning something new to add to your pop culture brain-file.
So dear readers, here then is a compiled list of my favorite cars from television. At first I was going to include films and also animated television shows, and have them all mixed up, but decided not to, as those can be part of future lists.
I’m sure that you will have your own favorite vehicles that did not make my list. 

Some folks worship KITT, David Hasselhoff’s modified ’82 Pontiac Trans Am co-star in Knight Rider. 

Others may drool over Magnum P.I.’s Ferrari 308 GTS—and for good reason, as that is a mighty sweet car indeed!

Yes, there will be plenty of vehicles that people like but I just find boring.

Here at The Mystery Box H.Q. I have a particular fondness for vintage hot rods and antique sports cars. Plus, I can never get enough of the unusual one-of-a-kind rides and weird hybrids that were prevalent on sixties and seventies TV shows. If you feel I left one of your faves out, then by all means let me know about it.

In no particular order, except for the very last car, here they are!
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THE ENGLISH BEAT: FINALLY…THE COMPLETE BEAT!

This piece was originally published July 30th, 2012.

English BeatBirmingham, England has been called the birthplace of Heavy Metal.

Primarily since this industrial, largely working class city was home to Black Sabbath and later, Judas Priest.

However, though musically the city of Birmingham has stood in the shadows of both London and Liverpool as landmark cities in the U.K.’s rich musical timeline, it is just as illustrious, culturally vibrant and hugely important.

Birmingham’s musical scene in the 60’s was second greatest to Liverpool and while no city anywhere produced an act as world changing as The Beatles, Birmingham gave music The Nightriders/The Idle Race with first, Roy Wood and then Jeff Lynne, both of who became huge stars. Wood joined The Move, enlisted Lynne and then the two eventually transitioned the band into The Electric Light Orchestra (Roy Wood then formed Wizzard). There was The Moody Blues, Traffic, The Spencer Davis Group and in the 80’s Duran Duran, among many other notable acts that came form Birmingham.

Meanwhile back in the 70’s as punk rock caught on with England’s disenfranchised youth, so too did Reggae, Ska, Rocksteady and Dub music, which was always a part of the fabric of the nation’s heavy Jamaican populace since the 60’s anyway, as well as what many teenagers that gravitated towards punk rock also grew up listening to.

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