Music Video of the Day: Bark At The Moon by Ozzy Osbourne (1983, dir. Mike Mansfield)


I am not going to talk about the background of the song or album. There’s a reason I usually stay away from behind-the-scenes stuff, and stick with the finished product. It’s a great song–end of story for me on that matter.

The music video is cheesy fun. It’s Ozzy Osbourne going around like he’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Wolf with the occasional cutaway to band members. It was partially filmed at an actual sanatorium. That sanatorium being Holloway Sanatorium.

My favorite thing I found on this music video was that in at least two places online they bring up that this was early on for music videos, which is why it looks the way it does. Not true. They had been around for a lot longer prior to 1983 in the modern form. Abba did a music video for Waterloo in 1974 and many more throughout the 1970s. You can go back even further to the 1960’s music video for Strawberry Fields Forever by The Beatles. The same year as Bark At The Moon, we had stuff like Shooting Shark and Love Is A Battlefield that are a far cry from this music video.

I think it looks the way it does because it was directed by Mike Mansfield who also brought us Goody Two Shoes by Adam Ant. If you look at several of the music videos that he did for Adam Ant around the time, then you’ll notice they have this stagey/theatrical look about them. I’m willing to bet they hired him because the people involved liked the style Mansfield was using in the Adam Ant/Adam & The Ants music videos that not only look the same as this one, but were mostly made in the years right before 1983. The best example to look at is Stand And Deliver that was done in 1981. In fact, you can look several other artists he did music videos for at the time such as Charlotte Sometimes by The Cure and Love Blonde by Kim Wilde to see the same kind of style.

Enjoy!

Film Review: Ghostbusters (dir by Paul Feig)


Ghostbusters

If you need any further proof that 2016 is a screwed-up year, just consider the fact that Ghostbusters, an entertaining but ultimately rather mild-mannered and innocuous summer action/comedy, has become the center of one of the biggest controversies of the year.

It all started, of course, when the reboot was first announced.  Fanboys reacted with outrage, offended that Hollywood would even consider remaking a film that was apparently one of the defining moments of their childhood.  Then, it was announced that Ghostbusters would feature an all-female cast and it would be directed by Paul Feig, the director of Bridesmaids.  The howls of outrage grew even louder.  Then that infamous trailer was released and even I felt that trailer sucked.  I wasn not alone because the trailer quickly became one of the most disliked videos in the history of YouTube.  Reading the comments underneath that trailer was literally like finding yourself trapped in a production of Marat/Sade.

Suddenly, in the eyes of very vocal group of internet trolls, the reboot of Ghostbusters went from being simply another dubious idea to being a crime against humanity.  And the trolls were so obnoxious that they managed to turn this big-budget, studio-backed production into an underdog.  Here was a movie directed by one of Hollywood’s biggest directors and starring some of Hollywood’s hottest stars and suddenly, it had become David in a biblical showdown with the Goliaths of internet.

ghostbusters1-800x430

And then it happened.  Earlier last week, Ghostbusters was finally screened for critics.  The first reviews started to come in and they were surprisingly positive.  In fact, they were so positive that I found myself distrusting them.  I found myself wondering if critics were reacting to the film or if they were simply trying to prove that they were better than the trolls who leave obscene comments on YouTube.

Which was true, I wondered.  Was Ghostbusters the worst film ever made or was it the greatest?  Or was it perhaps just possible that Ghostbusters would turn out to be a typical summer film?

With all the controversy, it’s tempting to overpraise a film like Ghostbusters.  Battle lines have been drawn and sometimes, I feel as if I’m being told that failing to declare Ghostbusters to be the greatest and most important comedy of all time is the equivalent of letting the trolls win.

Well, that’s not true.  Ghostbusters is not the greatest or the most important comedy of all time but you know what?  Ghostbusters is good.  Ghostbusters is entertaining.  Especially during the first half, it’s full of laugh out loud moments.  At times, Ghostbusters is everything that you could hope for.

No, it’s not a perfect film.  Paul Feig is a great comedy director but, in this film at least, his direction of the big action sequences often feels uninspired (especially when compared to his previous work on Spy).  The final fourth of the film gets bogged down in CGI and the film goes from being a clever comedy to being just another summer spectacle.  Even the one-liners, which flowed so naturally at the start of the film, feel forced during the final half of the film.  Ghostbusters is good but it never quite becomes great.

ghostbusters-2016-cast-proton-packs-images

Here’s what did work: the cast.  As he previously proved with Bridesmaids, Paul Feig is a director who is uniquely skilled at creating and showcasing a strong comedic ensemble.  Kristen Wiig plays Erin Gilbert, who is denied tenure at Columbia when it is discovered that a book she wrote on the paranormal has been republished and is being sold, on Amazon, by her former best friend, Dr. Abby Yates (Melissa McCarthy).  When Erin goes to confront Abby, she not only meets Abby’s newest colleague, Dr. Jillian Holtzmann (Kate McKinnon) but she also gets dragged into investigating an actual case of paranormal activity..  Soon, Erin, Abby, and Holtzmann are investigating hauntings and capturing ghosts, all with the secret approval of the Mayor of New York (Andy Garcia).  Of course, for PR reasons, the mayor’s office has to continually disavow the Ghostbusters and occasionally have them arrested.  Working alongside the three scientists are Patty (Leslie Jones), who apparently knows the history of every building in New York, and Kevin (Chris Hemsworth), their adorably stupid receptionist.

As written, both Patty and Kevin are fairly thin characters.  Kevin’s the handsome dumb guy.  Patty is streetwise and sassy.  But both Hemsworth and Jones give such enthusiastic and sincere performances that they transcend the stereotypical nature of their roles.  At times, Kevin runs the risk of becoming too cartoonish for even a Ghostbusters film.  But if you can’t laugh at Chris Hemsworth explaining that he took the lenses out of his glasses because they were always getting dirty, what can you laugh at?

Erin is an interesting character and Kristen Wiig deserves a lot of credit for her performance.  Erin is actually given a fairly affecting backstory, centering around how she was haunted by the ghost of the old woman who used to live next door to her.  Erin is a former believer, someone who, in order to succeed in the “real” world, gave up her beliefs and conformed to the expectations of society.  When she actually meets a ghost, it’s more than just a confirmation of the supernatural.  It’s a chance for Erin to finally embrace who she truly is and what she truly cares about.  When she and the other ghostbusters chase after evil spirits, Erin is not just doing a job.  Instead, she’s finally found somewhere where she belongs.  She no longer has to pretend to be someone that she isn’t.  Wiig plays the role with just the right touch of neurotic wonder.  She grounds the entire film.

Wiig McKinnon

But the true star of the film is Kate McKinnon.  Whether she’s cheerfully smiling as a ghost vomits all over her colleagues or cheerfully explaining how easily their equipment could kill them all, Holtzmann is the greatest character in the film and McKinnon gives the best performance.  If Wiig grounds the film, McKinnon provides it with a truly demented soul.

The first half of the movie, which focuses on the relationships between the characters and features snappy and endlessly quotable dialogue, is wonderful and I was thrilled while watching it, convinced that the entire movie would be as good as the first hour.  However, the second half of the film gets bogged down in a rather predictable plot and the final action sequences could have just as easily been lifted from Pixels or one of The Avengers movies.  The surviving cast of the original Ghostbusters all show up in cameos that are, at best, inoffensive and, at worst, groan-worthy.  The end result is rather uneven.  If the film had maintained the momentum of that first hour, it would be a classic.  But that second half transforms it into just another entertaining but not quite memorable summer action film.

That said, Paul Feig is an excellent comedy director and let’s hope that he never gets so self-important that he ends up turning into Jay Roach.  Hopefully, if there is a sequel, Feig will return to direct it and Kate McKinnon will have an even bigger role.

tumblr_o3h37546Pl1v6mqeeo2_540

 

Song of the Day: War Pigs (by Black Sabbath)


BlackSabbath

“War Pigs” is the classic heavy metal song by the godfathers of heavy metal itself, Black Sabbath. This song will kick you in the nuts from it’s ominous bass heavy intro right through one of the best guitar solos in the middle right up to it’s epic ending. It’s not a surprise that many heavy metal fans both new and old still consider this one of the best heavy metal songs ever. It also highlights Ozzy Osbourne as a frontman who became a template for future metal frontmen everywhere. Hearing him sing out the lyrics reminds us that he wasn’t a mumbling, drug-scarred reality tv show personlality. Ozzy was the face of metal and his voice in the early albums of Black Sabbath was one of the best in the business.

The song itself is actually an anti-war song despite many uses of it in films, tv and trailers highlighting war and violence. Last year’s 300: Rise of An Empire literally reveled in using this song for it’s end credits. Which makes me wonder if those who actually listened to this song actually listened to the lyrics after the first verse.

The lyrics speaks of the inequality of war and how those most willing to begin one are the rich and powerful (meaning they would never ever be put into harm’s way) while those who do the killing and dying are the poor and downtrodden. The interesting thing about this song is how it’s early version was not an anti-war one but just a metal song about witches and black magic rituals. The early name for the song was “Walpurgis” but with the band already being seen as Satanic by puritanical groups in England and in the US they were convinced to change the title to “War Pigs” and adjusted the lyrics to make it the anti-war song it is today.

No matter it’s history and backstory, “War Pigs” remain one of the essential heavy metal songs that any prospective heavy metal newbie needs to listen to and study.

War Pigs

Generals gathered in their masses
Just like witches at black masses
Evil minds that plot destruction
Sorcerers of death’s construction
In the fields the bodies burning
As the war machine keeps turning
Death and hatred to mankind
Poisoning their brainwashed minds
Oh lord yeah!

Politicians hide themselves away
They only started the war
Why should they go out to fight?
They leave that role to the poor

Time will tell on their power minds
Making war just for fun
Treating people just like pawns in chess
Wait ’til their judgment day comes
Yeah!

(guitar solo)

Now in darkness world stops turning
Ashes where the bodies burning
No more war pigs have the power
Hand of God has struck the hour
Day of judgment, God is calling
On their knees the war pig’s crawling
Begging mercy for their sins
Satan laughing spreads his wings
Oh lord yeah!

(guitar solo)

Great Guitar Solos Series

Song of the Day: Mr. Crowley (by Ozzy Osbourne)


a5d81617797db1062e96ace555453d94bab995fb

Why is it that those with creative talents that border on genius tend to die young and much too soon. This has become almost synonymous with the premature passing of some of the greatest musician of the last 50 years. Most seem to be from the rock and metal corner of the musical landscape. Some has been due to the very lifestyle led by these musicians. A lifestyle of libertine excess that catches up to their talent way too soon.

One such individual who went before his time yet made such an impact on the music scene that he’s considered one of the greatest metal guitarist of all-time (I say one of the best guitarist in or out of metal). His name was Randy Rhoads.

Only 25 when he passed away not due to a life of excess (he was actually quite responsible a rock star in his era where sex, booze and drugs were commonplace) but to a tragic accident that didn’t need to happen.

While some always point to his guitar work on the Ozzy Osbourne song “Crazy Train” from his solo debut album, I always thought one of his best guitar work was on another song from that debut album. The song I speak about is “Mr. Crowley”.

The song itself is one of those songs that drove parents crazy when they first heard their young teenage sons listening to it. I mean it’s a song about self-proclaimed Anti-Christ, libertine and sex magick user Aleister Crowley. Yet, it’s not Ozzy’s vocals that make the song memorable. It’s Rhoad’s lead guitar performance with special focus on the two guitar solos which rise up in the middle of the track and closes it out.

Mr. Crowley

Mister Crowley
What went down in your head?
Oh, Mister Crowley
Did you talk to the dead?

Your lifestyle to me seems so tragic
With the thrill of it all
You fooled all the faithful with magic
Yeah, you waited on Satan’s call

Mister Charming
Did you think you were pure?
Mister Alarming
In nocturnal rapport

Uncovering things that were sacred
Manifest on this earth
Oh, conceived in the eye of a secret
Yeah, they scattered the afterbirth

(guitar solo)

Mister Crowley
Won’t you ride my white horse?
Mister Crowley
It’s symbolic, of course

Approaching a time that is classic
I hear that maiden’s call
Approaching a time that is drastic
Standing with their backs to the wall

Was it polemically sent?
I wanna know what you meant
I wanna know
I wanna know what you meant, yeah!

(guitar solo/outro)

Great Guitar Solos Series

Song of the Day: Iron Man (by Black Sabbath)


I think it would’ve been quite remiss of me to not set this as song of the day just days before the release of Iron Man 2.

Black Sabbath’s iconic song from their second studio album (Paranoid) should be well-known to everyone by now. I’m not even talking about metal and rock fans, but even those who wouldn’t be caught dead listening to the so-called “devil’s music”. If people have seen 2008’s superhero film Iron Man then they’ve heard of this song. This song is pretty much classic heavy metal before all the different metal sounds started appearing years later.

Iron Man wasn’t your typical current heavy metal where sometimes speed and overly complex playing has been the choice of some metal bands. Not with Sabbath and definitely not with this song. It’s pretty straightforward and still has some of the progressive stylings that Led Zeppelin introduced with their third and fourth album. Where Black Sabbath really made the song their own was how heavy they made it. Whether it was Iommi’s lead guitar starting off the song right up to Butler’s near Bonham-like tree-trunk drumming.

With the sequel to Iron Man right around the corner I wouldn’t be surprised if this song ended up on iTunes top ten song download for the whole summer of 2010.

Iron Man

Has he lost his mind?
Can he see or is he blind?
Can he walk at all,
Or if he moves will he fall?
Is he alive or dead?
Has he thoughts within his head?
We’ll just pass him there
Why should we even care?

He was turned to steel
In the great magnetic field
Where he traveled time
For the future of mankind

Nobody wants him
He just stares at the world
Planning his vengeance
That he will soon unfold

Now the time is here
For iron man to spread fear
Vengeance from the grave
Kills the people he once saved

Nobody wants him
They just turn their heads
Nobody helps him
Now he has his revenge

Heavy boots of lead
Fills his victims full of dread
Running as fast as they can
Iron man lives again!