Like any kid in the ’80s, I grew up on the Star Wars franchise. Back then we didn’t even know how lucky we were at the time, able to actually enjoy films like these for their artistic integrity and not just based on how “cannon” or “inclusive” they were or could be.
Originally released on May 25, 1983, Return of the Jedi was the third and final entry in the initial Star Wars trilogy (long before all of the various prequels, sequels, and spin-offs), and while it often gets a bad rap for being too “kiddie” for the use of fury little Ewoks (there’s no denying how popular the characters would become, spawning an animated series and two made-for-television films of their own), Jedi was equally as epic a film as its predecessors.
There’s no doubt a lot to unpack this time around. Right off the bat, Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill) travels to Tatooine to rescue the enslaved Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) and their old confidante Han Solo (Harrison Ford) from the clutches of the monstrous Jabba the Hutt after the grim confinement forced upon him at the end of The Empire Strikes Back. Armed with the help of trusty droids C-3PO (Anthony Daniels) and R2-D2 (Kenny Baker), as well as Lando (Billy Dee Williams), Skywalker takes down Hutt and his henchmen seemingly with ease.
From then on it’s one heroic adventure after another, as the reunited team fight to take down the empire and the second Death Star under construction. Along the way we learn that Luke and Leia are actually brother and sister, and Darth Vadar (voiced again by James Earl Jones) actually does have some good still left in him. What results is one of the most exciting and satisfying conclusions to play out on film, and could’ve easily ended the franchise right there on a high note.
For better or worse, Jedi helped up the ante merchandising-wise, marketing to every kid within eyesight in true ’80s fashion. Then of course there was that golden bikini donned by Fisher in the first half of the film that had every young man such as myself looking at Princess Leia in a whole new way.
Aside from invoking some of my first prepubescent fantasies, I have other fond memories from my childhood of this particular entry of the series, namely the time my old dog Sam (R.I.P.) started barking at the TV when the ghostly spirit of Obi-Wan (Alec Guinness) first appeared on screen, resulting in instant hilarity. If for no other reason, the film will always remain a classic in my book.
Some items from the author’s personal collection, including a first edition copy of Return of theJedi on VHS, and a collector’s magazine originally published in 1983.
The last time Rewind It Magazine made it out to Daytona Beach for the annual rock fest Welcome to Rockville in 2021, the event was held at the end of the year, and the weather was nearly perfect. Thankfully we skipped last year completely, which by all accounts reached near disastrous levels with torrential downpours that caused delays throughout the festivities.
Thankfully things did not go as terribly wrong by the time we decided to make an appearance on Saturday, May 20 (the first two nights just didn’t have enough to offer of interest in all honesty), although by the time we did finally make it, we had just missed Kreator’s (one of the main selling points of the day for myself personally) set, arriving just in time to see their crew breaking down their gear.
So we waited for Sepultura’s set on the very same stage instead. Having already seen them once back in 2011, I already knew what to expect more or less, and only stayed to hear a handful of tracks from them in the form of “Isolation,” “Territory,” and “Means to an End” before making our way onto better things.
One of the other main selling points for me personally this year was actually Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening, which is what we promptly left said Sepultura set early for in order to catch their full set. It was a blast hearing the likes of “Immigrant Song,” “Good Times Bad Times,” “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “The Wanton Song,” “Ramble On,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “The Ocean Song,” “Black Dog,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Rock and Roll,” even if many of these by now are beyond overplayed radio standards.
Chevelle were the next act to catch, and although I’ve never had too much of an issue with their music (this would be my third time seeing them live, too), it was a perfect chance to take a breather and catch a bite to eat while listening to the likes of “Face to the Floor,” “The Clincher,” “Send the Pain Below,” and “The Red” in the background.
Then there’s good old Alice Cooper, who at this stage in the game feels timeless. And speaking of time, this marked my fourth time actually catching him in concert (and two of those instances I had actually worked security for him). “Lock Me Up,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “I’m Eighteen,” “Under My Wheels,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Fallen in Love,” “Snakebite,” “Feed My Frankenstein,” and “Poison” were all thrown out there before fans were given a guitar solo by the lovely Nita Strauss that ended in a jam of “Black Widow.”
“The Ballad of Dwight Fry” found Cooper singing in his signature straight jacket before his daughter Cheryl Cooper came on stage and decapitated him with a guillotine under the tune of “I Love the Dead.” The classic ’70s anthem “School’s Out” (complete with a few bars of Pink Fylod’s “The Wall” thrown in there for good measure) seemed to end the set before Cooper emerged behind a podium for an encore of “Elected.” Although far from my first time seeing him, it was surreal finally watching him with my two favorite people by my side, making it an especially fond memory for me.
For the life of me I’ve never really gotten the appeal of Godsmack, even though I have caught them live before as well (just once, back at Earthday Birthday in 2012). And how they were even remotely above Alice Cooper on the roster makes zero sense, but either way they opened with “When Legends Rise,” before going into the likes of “Cryin’ Like a Bitch!!,” “1000hp,” “You and I,” “Something Different,” “What About Me,” “Bulletproof,” and “Awake.”
By this time, frontman Sully Erna pulled back to have a “drum off” with drummer Shannon Larkin (who some may recall was the drummer for Ugly Kid Joe for many years). This lead to brief medlies of rock staples such as “Back in Black,” “Walk This Way, and “Enter Sandman” thrown in, and seemed like the perfect time to start heading over to the next stage.
And said stage contained what everyone had really came to see, the reunited Pantera. I was beyond lucky enough to see the band back at Ozzfest in ’97 when both guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul were both still alive, so it really didn’t bother me to see singer Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown now joined by Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde and Anthrax’s Charlie Benante filling in for the departed brothers in tribute to them (it also gave my wife and teenaged son a chance to finally see them for the first time as well).
While my memory is somewhat fuzzy as far as what the band played way back over twenty years ago, there’s no mistaking the band ripped through “A New Level,” “Mouth For War,” “Strength Beyond Strength,” “Becoming,” and the recently added “Suicide Note Pt. II.”
“5 Minutes Alone,” “Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit,” and “Fucking Hostile” continued the non-stop aggression before the band slowed things down a bit, showing video footage of the Abbott brothers with “Cemetery Gates” draped over top of it before segueing into their trippy cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Cavravan.” More hard-hitting classics in the form of “Walk” and”Domination/Hollow” followed before they closed things out with “Cowboys From Hell,” effectively leaving even the biggest of naysayers with their jaws to the floor.
The following day, Sunday, May 21, paled in comparison after what was beheld previously. By the time we had made it, Senses Fail were already on stage and wrapping it up, so after catching a couple of tracks like “Buried Alive, “Chop Suey/Break Stuff,” and “Can’t Be Saved,” we proceeded to the one that post-grunge ’90s rockers Filter was appearing on. They wasted no time with their five-song set as they plowed through “Welcome to the Fold,” “Face Down,” “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do,” “Take a Picture,” and of course, “Hey Man Nice Shot.”
More ’90s rock followed as legendary skate punks Pennywise then took over the Octane stage. It was my third time seeing them since the very first Warped Tour I ever attended back in 2001, and I was still genuinely excited to hear tracks like “Peaceful Day,” “The World,” “Straight Ahead,” “My Own Country,” “Same Old Story,” “Fuck Authority,” a cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” “Pennywise,” “Society,” and “Bro Hymn.”
Sets from the likes of mediocre acts such as The Mars Volta and Coheed & Cambria were again perfect opportunities to grab a bite to eat and check out the merch tents before watching the likes of trap rapper Ghostemane. For perhaps the first time ever, I fully understood what it felt like to be that fish out of water parent just there for their kid, as I endured songs with titles like “Nihil,” “Bonesaw,” and “Trench Coat” that made little to no sense to me.
Another band I can’t say I’ve ever had much interest in at all, Incubus, were somehow after all this. And while I still can’t say I’m a fan by any means, I never realized what a jam band they really are in concert (nor how easy-on-the-eyes their current bass player Nicole Row, who’s also served some time with Panic! At the Disco, actually is). All of their staple songs were present of course, including “Nice to Know You,” “Come Together” (Aerosmith cover), “Pardon Me,” and “Wish You Were Here.”
Another act I was there mainly for my kid were Deftones (it’s not that I have anything against them, they’ve just never been my style). But I was surprised to see their live set was actually quite entertaining, despite some of their songs still landing on the tedious side for me. But they managed to pack in sixteen tracks with non-stop energy that included “Genesis,” “Needles and Pins,” “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away),” “My Own Summer (Shove It),” “Diamond Eyes,” “Digital Bath,” “Tempest,” “Swerve City,” “Rosemary,” “Ohms,” “Minerva,” “Bloody Cape,” “Change (In the House of Flies),” “Rocket Skates,” “Nosebleed,” and “Engine No. 9.”
And finally, Tool. Sure, I was semi-into them when Undertow first came out back in the day like most sixth graders at the time. But I have long since disliked them ever since the first time I saw them live back in 2002, and frontman Maynard James Keenan performed with his back facing the crowd the entire time (exciting). I’ve seen them one more time since, in 2016 with Primus, where I promptly left soon after they hit the stage. On Sunday night, I did the same thing once again, making my way out of Rockville as they were performing “Forty Six & Two” (just their second track of the night).
I’ve since seen the images from the show and have heard others that stuck around for it express their disappointment as well. And Keenan’s drag outfit was far from some deep political statement about Florida or some meaningful artistic expression as some might try to spin it to be, but rather just another gimmick from an overrated, obnoxious hack. Hopefully this will be the final time I ever have to witness such a joke in person, and if anyone deserved to close out such a festival, it was definitely not them.
It’s been four long years since the last time fans have had some new material from N.W.O.T.H.M. titans Enforcer. There’s since been some changes in band personal since 2019’s Zenith album, with Garth Conduit now taking over for longtime bassist Tobias Lindqvist, yet that hasn’t slowed them down one bit.
The instrumental “Armageddon” opens Nostalgia up with hauntingly beautiful dueling guitars that segue directly into “Unshackle Me,” and from then on listeners are demanded to come take a ride of epic proportions with the band, with “Coming Alive” quickly following and launching one brutal attack of the senses after another.
“At the End of the Rainbow,” “Metal Supremacia,” “Keep the Flame Alive,” and “When the Thunder Roars (Crossfire)” are all more examples of what the band is capable of. The only time listeners are really even given a chance to catch their breath at all is during the title track, a ballad of sorts that finds frontman Olof Wikstrand pouring his heart out (curiously he is the only member of the band featured in the song’s video).
All in all, Nostalgia is thirteen tracks of pure metal at its finest. Make no mistakes about it, Enforcer are at the top of their game (and genre), and surely to remain there for a long time coming.
Things heated up at the Bandshell in Daytona Beach this past Saturday, May 6 for the Summer Throwback Bash featuring Taylor Dayne, Tiffany, and Freedom Williams of C+C Music Factory (I realize as I type this, these are mostly all artists I remember my older sisters listening to while growing up, and not so much my own – I was more the Iron Maiden type back then).
Upon arrival (fashionably late as usual, of course) local cover artists Are Friends Electric were well into their set already, and within moments they were having technical difficulties with their mics. After having a laugh or two at its expense, the issue was resolved, and the band was able to resume churning out more hits like “Love Shack” before bowing out and stepping aside for the rest of the acts.
Nineties rapper Freedom Williams, best remembered for his time fronting dance hit makers C+C Music Factory, was up next. He wasted no time as he and co-lead vocalist (whose name I want to say was Smooth Jenny?) ran straight through the hits; “Here We Go (Let’s Rock n’ Roll),” “Things That Make You Go Hmm…,” and of course “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” all made their way into the set.
I have long since flown the flag for ’80s pop sensation Tiffany, and I’ve said before and I’ll say it again; her lesser-known, more recent material is far more interesting than the hits she’s remembered for most. And while I’ve seen her live twice before, I was looking forward to hearing her with a full live band this time instead of acoustic (guitarist Mark Alberici was once again by her side, as well as former and current L.A. Guns members Johnny Martin and Scot Coogan).
After opening with “Keep on Swinging,” she launched into the title track of her latest album, “Shadows,” no doubt one of her best songs in recent memory. A couple more new tracks in the form of “Cried For the Last Time” and the ballad “You’re My Everything” followed before going through a trio of her most well-known hits in the form of “I Saw Him Standing There,” “Could’ve Been,” and of course, “I Think We’re Alone Now.”
And lastly, headliner Taylor Dayne – another female artist I can clearly remember salivating over on my big sisters’ LP covers – closed out the evening. “Prove Your Love” and “With Every Beat of My Heart” initially paved way for bigger hits like “Don’t Rush Me,” “Heart of Stone,” and “I’ll Always Love You.”
More than once Ms. Dayne gave a little back story on some songs before performing them, including with “I’ll Be Your Shelter,” “Love Will Lead You Back,” Can’t Get Enough of Your Love,” and of course, “Tell It to My Heart.” While these songs might not have been my cup of tea per se at the time of their original releases, it’s no doubt easier for me to appreciate them now all these years later as a father and husband (especially with my beautiful bride by my side; it turned out to be yet another one of our many adventures together).
It feels like just yesterday when The Goldbergs first premiered on ABC in 2013. The discovery of this simple nostalgia-based show that takes place in the ’80s was an innocent enough concept, and one I was easily able to relate and dive into with my own family from the start.
I really wanted to get into this season since its start last September, and did my best to give it a chance. For the most part, there were some moments reminiscent of those earlier seasons that reminded me of why the show was so good in the first place. Yet far too many times it still felt as though something was still missing.
But the series had no doubt gone down consistently in quality after the death of late actor George Segal (who played the grandfather, “Pops”) after season eight, and the unceremonious departure of Jeff Garlin (the father, “Murray”), the latter of which was finally shown some mercy this season and at least killed off instead of the weird CGI angle they tried to pull off the last half of said ninth season (which was more laughable itself than most of the jokes at the time).
There were some moments in season ten that did stick out; “DKNY” finds Adam (Sean Giambrone) visiting his once best friend Dave Kim (Kenny Ridwan) in the Big Apple and learning how much they’ve actually outgrown each other (all with a Halloween party as a back drop, where Tim Meadows guests and does a surprisingly funny impression of Prince); “A Flyer’s Path to Victory” is a spot-on ode to the Philadelphia Flyers hockey team (second only to the New Jersey Devils in my own world), and “Love Shack” is somehow now relatable as Erica (Hayley Orrantia) and Geoff (Sam Lerner) struggle to find some grown-up time alone together for romance.
But by the final episode “Bev to the Future,” it feels like they are trying to just wrap up ten years worth of a show in just thirty minutes. And even including flashbacks with former cast members (even ostracized ones), it still feels like a case of too little too late. Whatever Garlin might have said or done behind the scenes to warrant his exit (which, judging by the vague reasoning given for his dismissal, it likely wasn’t much more than a case of weak woke Hollywood needing to control everything yet again), it surely was a mistake that unfortunately proved too costly in the end. Let it be a lesson learned to all those involved.
For whatever reason, I tend to forget just how great a metal band Overkill really are from time to time. But then a reminder comes along in the form of an album like Scorched, their twelfth full length studio effort and arguably one of their best releases in years.
The instant the twin guitar attack of the title track kicks off the record, it’s clear that listeners are in for some truly worthy thrash metal. While the intro is a definite highlight, there’s plenty of other moments that come close to duplicating it’s greatness; “Goin’ Home,” “Wicked Place,” “Won’t Be Comin’ Back,” and “Bag o’ Bones” are just a few of the numbers I wouldn’t mind personally hearing in the band’s set list should I ever see them live again.
While Overkill emerged from the same scene and era that spawned the likes of Metallica (who also just recently dropped a new album) all those years ago, their style still remains much more true to form. Overkill might not necessarily be the be all end all of their respective genre, but they certainly have earned a level of respect few others in the scene can match equally.
It’s been so long since the last season of The Mandalorian aired in late 2020, I honestly had a difficult time at first remembering where things had even left off. But rest assure there’s still plenty of Baby Yoda (or Grogu for those who like to be more technical) to go around.
This time around Mandalorian Din Djarin (Pedro Pascal) and Grogu are joined by fellow Mandalorian Bo-Katan Kryze (Katee Sackhoff) on their travels after some initial hesitation. Right off the bat there’s plenty of giant monsters and fire fights involving lasers and sabers, perfect thirst-quenchers for any old school Star Wars fans.
There’s plenty of returning familiar faces (though sadly still no Gina Carano), including Carl Weathers and Giancarlo Esposito, and even some delightful new ones (Jack Black and Christopher Lloyd are especially likable additions). The strangest moment of them all though is The Convert, an interesting enough stand alone episode featuring Omid Abtahi in the lead role that leaves viewers feeling empty without a proper ending or follow up.
It might be overly adorable at times thanks mainly to Grogu (at least the puppetry is actually done right with mainly practical effects instead of all-CGI as in most cases these days), and it’s far from perfect. But if nothing else, it is pure escapist entertainment worth occasionally getting lost in.
Shortly before Aerosmith released their fifteenth (and arguably their most commercially successful) album Get a Grip in 1993, I was introduced to the band via their classic 1975 offering Toys in the Attic when I came upon it among a pile of other cassettes in my family’s community “stash” of tapes and CD’s. I was roughly around twelve years old, and while I had already owned albums by the likes of M.C. Hammer and “Weird Al” Yankovic (naturally), Toys… was the first rock record that ever fully crossed my path. And what a game changer it was.
Not long after my discovery, the band released said Get a Grip album on April 20, 1993, and I was there for it all the way. I would actually shell out the few bucks it cost for a cassette single each and every time the band dropped a new song, slowly leading up to getting the album itself (I eventually would on Christmas morning that very same year, along with the band’s 1973 self-titled debut album along with it). By all accounts, the album was marketed perfectly, and I was just the right audience for it at the time.
Get a Grip starts off with an odd little intro that finds frontman Steven Tyler “rapping” some lyrics before kicking into high gear with “Eat the Rich,” arguably the most aggressive (and one of the best) track on the entire album. The equally fun title track and “Fever” follow before “Livin’ on the Edge,” the first single initially released from the record and one of the most unique videos made for any of the album’s singles (featuring Terminator 2 actor Edward Furlong).
“Flesh” takes things to a darker level, while the Joe Perry-penned “Walk on Down” brings a cool blues-ridden swag to things. “Shut up and Dance” was co-written by Damn Yankees bandmates Jack Blades and Tommy Shaw, and the band was also featured performing the track in the film Wayne’s World2 (released later that same year). It’s at that point the “ballads” really start taking hold with the song and video that introduced the world (and every eager twelve-year-old boy at the time, such as myself) to a young Alicia Silverstone, “Cryin’.”
“Gotta Love It” is sandwiched between “Cryin'” and another Silverstone track, “Crazy,” which is where most of us also first caught a glimpse of Tyler’s tall glass of water daughter, Liv. “Line Up” is a catchy number co-written by Lenny Kravitz that somehow found its way into the 1994 Jim Carrey vehicle Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Last but not least of the “Silverstone Trio” (and preceding the most forgettable track on the album, “Boogie Man”) “Amazing,” which featured a cutting-edge technology (at the time at least) virtual reality themed-video, and co-starring actor Jason London. Co-written by long time collaborator Richie Supa, the song also featured vocals from Don Henley of The Eagles.
Often when brought up today, Get a Grip is not regarded by many as one of their favorite Aerosmith albums (I can see now why some would feel this way). But the facts are undeniable; it was the band’s first release in their then-twenty plus year career to reach number one on the Billboard 200, and still their highest selling-album to date. Several of the hits are still played on rock radio stations to this day, and something tells me most bands that have not achieved the same level of success would absolutely welcome it.
The moment “You Betray” kicks Black Diamonds – the latest from ’80s hard rockers L.A. Guns – into high gear, it’s apparent the guys have still got plenty left in them, and more than plenty to prove here.
Said intro track instantly brought me back to another album opener, “Face Down” from the band’s 1994 Vicious Cycle record (which ironically was my “true” introduction to the band all those years ago). This is followed up with “Wrong About You,” which features mammoth lead-off guitar riffs from Tracii Guns and Ace Von Johnson that seem primed for cruising the strip on a Saturday night.
“Diamonds” shows the band’s abilities to still maintain a softer side, while “Shattered Glass,” “Gonna Lose,” and “Like a Drug” all echo respective ’70s punk and/or Led Zepplin vibes. Sure there’s some clunkers (see; “Shame”), but that’s to be expected. Overall, this is worthy of putting alongside any of the band’s classic material; shame indeed it will likely fall under the radar like most “new” music from its era does.
Remember the original 1993 Super Mario Bros. movie, where the late Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo first played the plumber brothers Mario and Luigi in a live action, heaping mess? It was the first ever film of its kind based off of a video game, and the makers of it painfully missed the mark, leaving audiences severely unimpressed. After all these years, TheSuper Mario Bros. Movie is what (most) fans have surely been waiting for.
This version is your standard search-and-rescue type of set up when brothers Mario (played by the very non-Italian Chris Pratt – but hey, it’s all about the selective outrage though, am I right?!) and Luigi (portrayed perfectly by Charlie Day of It’s Always Sunny inPhiladelphia fame) are whisked away and separated into an unknown underworld while attempting to save their home city Brooklyn from a plumbing emergency. They also just happen to land while the evil King of the Koopas, Bowser (another spot-on casting move with Jack Black) is plotting on taking over Mushroom Kingdom and marrying Princess Peach (Anya Taylor-Joy). But through the help of Peach, Mario learns just how “super” he can become as he sets off to save both his brother, and the innocent kingdom from peril.
Everything that was left out of the ’93 version makes its way into the story here seamlessly and without feeling forced, as the brothers each encounter strange new lands and befriend new characters along the way. And there’s nearly a reference to every MarioBros.-related game that’s come since the titular hero’s very first appearance in Donkey Kong all the way back in 1981, with everything from Mario Kart to Luigi’s Mansion. Sure, it’s essentially just a large advertisement for Nintendo, but it never crosses any lines that don’t make any sense to the plot.
All in all The Super Mario Bros. Movie is harmless family entertainment without being too overly cute, and focused solely on its story rather than getting in any unnecessary political agendas or jabs. The humor never stoops to low-brow levels, yet still manages to incorporate jokes aimed at adults. And there are plenty of throwbacks for nostalgia hounds to gush over (even the music, which stays very- ’80s throughout, is always well-placed). The film is a rare labor of love that’s beyond easy to find yourself fully escaping into it’s realms, and quite frankly, probably the best video game-related film produced thus far (sorry, Sonic!).