As an avid KISS fan, I’ve always been a fan of guitarist Ace Frehely’s contributions to his former band, as well as his solo catalogue. There’s just always been a certain realness to his songs and voice that fans have always found appealing, and what makes another collection of covers in the form of OriginsVol. 2 so easily digestible, even if the track list found here is once again just so-so.
Like with Vol. 1, Frehely goes back to his early rock roots, in some cases improving on the original source material. Choosing to kick off things with an admirable version of Led Zepplin’s “Good Times, Bad Times,” Frehely quickly wields his magic throughout (most) of the album’s remaining tracks, including singles like Deep Purple’s “Space Truckin'” and The Beatles’ “I’m Down.” But other renditions of more obscure dinosaur rock tunes like Cream’s “Politician” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Manic Depression” are sure to get lost on younger fans.
But the real highlights come in the form of the collaborations; Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander lends his voice on a lively version of Humble Pie’s “30 Days in the Hole,” while the lovely Lita Ford adds her talent to a unique take on The Rolling Stones’ “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” And of course Ace even tackles one from his former band KISS, going back to the Dressed to Kill album to unearth “She.” These later tracks alone do enough to cancel out nearly any of the filler tracks on Vol. 2. Overall, not a completely bad way to spend 45 minutes or so.
On September 14, 1985, Americans everywhere welcomed four irresistibly lovable ladies into their living rooms for the very first time when it premiered on NBC. The series was created by Susan Harris, who also served as executive producer, along with her husband, Paul Junger Witt, and Tony Thomas.
Set in Miami, FL, the show followed roomates Dorthy Zporank (played by Bea Arthur), Rose Nylund (Betty White), Blanche Devereux (Rue McClanahan), and Estelle Getty as Dorthy’s mother Sophia Petrillo, who was originally only slated to be a recurring ‘guest’ before testing so well with audiences she ultimately replaced the show’s original fourth character, a housekeeper named “Coco” who only appeared in the pilot episode (portrayed by the late Charles Levin).
Since my earliest memories of first seeing the series, I’ve often related the women on the show to the ones in my own life; airy but lovable Rose reminded me of my mother, Joyce; feisty Sophia bore a striking resemblance to my late grandmother, Mary; and sultry southern belle Blanche was the spitting image of my late Aunt Roberta, who actually lived in south, FL at the time the show was on the air. It wasn’t until I eventually met my lovely wife Brooke many years later, who also re-introduced me to the show after many years of being away from it (we now fall asleep with it on nearly every single night), that I would finally come full circle and find someone that represents the strong willed Dorthy.
Actress Deena Freeman, who played Dorthy’s daughter Kate on the season 2 episode “Son-in-Law Dearest” from 1987, can also relate to the same sentiment on an even more firsthand basis. In a recent conversation via email, Freeman, who currently runs a teen acting studio out of Los Angles with her husband, reflected on her time on the set to me; “It was a sheer pleasure to work on The Golden Girls; I was flying high. Working with Bea as my mom is a memory I cherish forever.”
Aside from it’s ability to produce witty one-liners at a rapid pace, the series was also timely throughout it’s run, touching on multiple topics ranging anywhere from discrimination, teen pregnancy, and homosexuality. Actor Monte Markham, who first appeared as Blanche’s gay brother Clay Hollinsworth in the season 3 episode “Scared Straight” from 1988, took the time to speak with me over the phone regarding his appearances on the show. He says; “The Golden Girls was probably one of the best on-camera experiences I ever had. I had actually known some of the ladies prior; Bea I had known from New York – her husband (Gene Saks) had directed me in (the Broadway production) Same Time, Next Year. And Betty and I had crossed paths many times over the years, so to finally get to work with her on camera after all those years was truly great. The set was brilliant, the writing was brilliant…and everything you could possibly want or need from a show was just there. Corralling all those ladies with such different personalities to work together like that was really quite amazing.”
Markham would later reprise his role again in the 1991 episode “Sister of the Bride,” and notes the subtle changes that had occurred on set since his last appearance; “When I went back for the second episode, there was a new director that was very abrupt, and the atmosphere had changed and just felt like it was more about ‘business as usual.’ I think they knew by then they weren’t going to be doing the show much longer.”
And indeed they would not, as the show would come to an end just one year later in 1992. A short-lived direct spin-off, The Golden Palace, would premiere in the fall of that same year. But despite having all of the actresses attached sans Arthur, it didn’t have the same effect as the former show, and would only run for one season before falling through the cracks by 1993.
With the series now on round-the-clock syndication and perhaps more popular now than ever in pop culture thanks to everything from board games to t-shirts, The Golden Girls remains an enduring classic that continues to gain new generations of fans. The one and only Betty White herself was kind enough to provide Rewind It Magazine with a brief quote (via her agent) reflecting on her time playing Rose Nylund on the show; “It was always great fun shooting each episode and I truly miss everyone involved.” One thing is for certain; no matter how much time may pass, the lasting legacy created from The Golden Girls will always continue to entertain and endure. Always.
I tend to usually shy away from tribute/cover albums (always found them a tad too on the ‘gimmicky’ side), but this track-by-track rendition of Black Sabbath’s masterpiece 1970 debut album arranged by Zakk Wylde and company was way too irresistible to pass up.
Backed by former Ozzy Osbourne/Rob Zombie bassist Blasko and ex-Danzig drummer Joey Castillo, Wylde does justice (both vocally as well as musically) to not only classics like “N.I.B.” and the title track, but equally brilliant (yet sometimes overlooked) numbers such as “Wicked World,” “Behind the Wall of Sleep,” and “Sleeping Village,” all of which are a welcome trip back through time.
What’s also interesting is that instead of releasing Vertigo digitally, the band is only offering physical copies in an effort to bring back a more ‘authentic’ feel to the entire rock experience. Fifty years since it’s original release, Black Sabbath is still just as timeless as ever, and this new addition serves as one more reminder of it’s enduring legacy.
After nearly three decades since their last adventure, Bill S. Preston, Esq (Alex Winter) and Ted “Theodore” Logan (Keanu Reeves) have finally returned to the big screen (and with the current state of the world, it’s not a moment too soon). Bill & Ted have always been a personal favorite of mine (to this day, I still have my original VHS copy of the first film), so taking the family to see the latest entry was a no-brainer.
This third chapter finds Bill & Ted traveling through time once again to find their future selves in order to obtain the song that will ultimately unite the world and prevent reality from totally collapsing, often with hilarious results. Meanwhile, the duo’s daughters (played by Samara Weaving and Bridgette Lundy-Paine) simultaneously attempt to construct the greatest band ever (a la the original Excellent Adventure) by jumping through time and nabbing every historical maestro possible from Mozart to Jimi Hendrix.
Sure, there’s plenty of ridiculousness along the way that requires one to have a really open mind, including a cameo from Dave Grohl, and an emotionally conflicted killer robot (played brilliantly by Anthony Carrigan) named Dennis. There’s also plenty of familiar faces from throughout the series that return here, including William Sadler as the Grim Reaper, Hal Landon Jr as Captain Logan/Ted’s dad, and even Amy Stoch briefly returns as Missy (I mean, “mom”). A brief appearance of George Carlin as Rufus via archival footage adds a touch of class as well.
If there’s anything to complain about with this entry, it’s the music itself, or lack of it. Sure, there’s a couple of headbanging tracks thrown in here and there, but the previous two films were nearly giant MTV advertisements with their enriched soundtracks in comparison. Still, Bill & Ted Face the Music is harmless, dimwitted fun, a wyld ride of sheer escapism, and everything the world needs in 2020. Definitely worth seeing on the big screen, if you’re able to make it to one.
The Killers continue to further evolve their unique sound six albums in, with more of the same vibrant instrumentation and thought-provoking lyrics the band has always been known for. Yet, there’s a slight lack of unity felt with the absence of guitarist/co-founder Dave Kuening missing from the fold (long-time bassist Mark Stoermer has also been largely m.i.a. in recent times after a pyrotechnics accident).
Lead-off single “Caution” stood as a fair representation of what was to come with the rest of Imploding the Mirage when it was released this past spring. But tracks like “My Own Soul’s Warning” (another sure to be staple for the band) and “Dying Breed” either equal or surpass that first teaser track on many levels. Other numbers like “Fire in Bone” invoke the Talking Heads, while “Lightning Fields” features an appearance from k.d. lang.
Imploding the Mirage is no doubt an admirable effort, but I still can’t help but feel some of the magic from the band’s first two now-classic albums (2004’s Hot Fuss and 2006’s Sam’s Town) is still missing. But I suppose it’s still better having this version of The Killers, then nothing at all.
It’s not unheard of for musicians to occasionally branch out into other, often similar or related fields. Skid Row bassist Rachel Bolan is already known to broaden his horizons with extracurricular activities; since co-founding the band in New Jersey in 1986, Bolan has kept himself busy with hobbies both in and out of music, being involved in everything from side projects, to competing in high performance car races. Bolan’s most recent venture in the soap business (appropriately titled Dirty Rocker Soap) might not be the most obvious of choices to some, but makes sense when considering the amount of miles musicians like Bolan average a year in travel time. I was recently able to catch up with Bolan regarding said foray into the world of hygienics, as well as take a trip down memory lane and revisit some of the many highlights of his tenure with Skid Row.
Before we got in to any serious talk regarding music or soap, and knowing Bolan originally hails from the same state as yours truly (New Jersey), I was curious what ties he still had to the Garden State, if any. He informs me; “I moved out of New Jersey in 2000, then lived to Atlanta for maybe 14 years before coming to Nashville a little over 5 years ago. All my friends were moving out here, and there’s really no music scene in Atlanta so to speak, so I came here.” I was also wondering if his parent’s house in Tom’s River, NJ, where the band spent their earliest days rehearsing, was still standing. He tells me; “That house is still there! The road’s a lot wider, so the front yard’s a lot more narrow and closer to the street than it was when I was a kid, but it’s still there.” He also notes that he does still have plenty of friends and family residing in the NJ/PA areas to this day as well.
Regarding just how he got things going with Dirty Rocker, he says; “It was about a year and a half ago now that I basically came up with the concept. Every band seems to be putting out their own hot sauce or coffee these days, so it was an idea that kind of culminated with another necessity. With traveling so much, you come across a lot of hotels that just have mass-produced soap that just doesn’t feel good, and already being prone to skin irritations, I thought, ‘let me try making my own soap.’ No one in rock music has ever put out a soap before to my knowledge, so I just took it from there. I have a friend who actually makes soap, and she gave me the lessons on what to do and what not to do. With her help, I was able to start selling soap, and it’s the craziest thing because it just kind of took off! (laughs). The response has been overwhelming though, and it still is.”
As far as how his new venture has been effected so far by the pandemic, Bolan informs me; “The timing has been completely coincidental – no one could have seen everything coming that has so far this year. But now I have time to dedicate to it, along with writing and all that stuff. But it just happened very organically, and now here we are talking about it.” Bolan also shares his personal preferences with me; “I’m a big fan of the Lemongrass Green, Mother Earth, and Lavendorwood. I like all the other ones too, but those are my top three, and they seem to be the ones I go through quickest online.” I also wanted to know if the other guys in Skid Row had tried Dirty Rocker yet, to which he tells me; “It’s funny that you mention that, because just yesterday I was thinking, ‘man, I got to send some out to these guys!’ (laughs) I haven’t seen them in awhile, but yeah, I’ll send them some soon for sure.”
The current Skid Row lineup with former DragonForce vocalist ZP Theart has been intact for just over four years now. I asked Bolan what it’s been like since having Theart enter the fold, and he states; “ZP’s band I Am I came out on the road with Skid Row at one point, and our friendship just grew stronger from that. Then when it was time for us to find a new singer, we called him. He came in, and it was just effortless for him. He had been listening to us since he was a kid; when we put out the first record, he was just 12 or 13! But he came in and just knocked it out of the park, and here we are nearly five years later. He’s a great frontman, great singer, and overall just a really great dude.”
Having been continually (and meticulously) working on a biography of Skid Row for the past two-plus years, I was already well versed on the band’s history prior to our interview (and judging by his reactions, Bolan was even impressed by my knowledge a time or two throughout). Still, there were some fuzzy details about the band’s formation, including the original lineup (which often incorrectly lists a former school mate of Bolan’s as the original drummer) that I wanted to clarify. I started by revisiting how Bolan and co-founder/guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo had met while the latter was working at the Garden State Music Center in the mid-80s. He explains; “Scotti (Hill, Skid Row guitarist) and I had a band before Skid Row that we were thinking of disbanding. At the same time I had just met Snake – and there was a point where all three of us worked at that store (Garden State Music Center) at the same time, which was just freaking chaos all the time! (laughs). I realized I had actually met Snake years before when he mentioned he lived in Sayerville and was previously in a band called Steel Fortune. We got to talking, and he told me he needed a bass player for this new band he had. He already had Matt (Fallon, also ex-Steel Fortune, as well as Anthrax) on vocals, Jim (Yuhas) on guitar, and Charlie (Mills) on drums – those were all Snake’s ‘crew.’ And then once Scotti came in and we shifted some people around (eventually adding drummer Rob Affuso and vocalist Sebastian Bach to complete the band’s ‘classic’ lineup), it started taking on a new life and ended up working out really well, obviously” (laughs). As soon as Snake and I started writing songs together, it just turned in to dropping everything, and focusing on Skid Row.”
I also inquired if he remembered just what that first song the band ever composed together was. He points out; “It was a song called ‘Telephone.” I remember the riff and chorus, and I know there’s a demo of it on cassette around in a box somewhere that I’ve got to find!” Skid Row have obviously produced many great songs since those early days, and hits like “I Remember You” and “Youth Gone Wild” will always remain staples in their set lists. But I wanted to know if there were any possible obscure tracks Bolan would ever consider resurrecting, such as the forgotten “Walk Like A Stranger” off of their original 1986 demo. His reaction; “I haven’t even heard or thought about that song in years! (laughs) Our buddy’s in Trixter actually did a really good cover of it a few years back. We have brought back “Forever” from that first demo a couple of times recently though, and it seems to have gone over well.”
And as far as how the band is holding up with all of the uncertainties of today’s world, Bolan proclaims; “Everyone’s keeping it together. We’re still making music, or at least sending each other ideas. It’s a new way of doing things that we’re totally not used to, but I think everyone’s kind of going through that no matter what line of work they’re in. But whenever everything ‘rights’ itself and we all go back to ‘normal life,’ I think everyone’s going to be a lot stronger for it.” While on the subject, I saw this as a good chance to ask if there might be some new music materializing soon. He replied; “I’m hoping so. If we don’t get the songs out all at once, maybe we’ll release just a song or two or something. But yeah, we’re hoping to have something out (if not the whole thing) in the not-too-distant future…and I can confidently say it shouldn’t be too much longer.”
The Go-Go’s may forever be remembered as the first group made up entirely of females to pen their own music while reaching the top of the Billboard charts in the early 1980’s. But despite their squeaky clean mainstream image that brought the world such pop staples as “We Got the Beat” and “Vacation,” the band’s punk roots (lead singer Belinda Carlisle was even briefly an early member of The Germs) are often far overlooked. This recently-released Showtime documentary delves deep into those early days, giving each member a chance to recall their own individual accounts the way they remember them.
Director Alison Ellwood paints an immaculate picture of the band’s gritty origins, and the interviews from not only the members of the “classic” lineup, but more obscure ones such as original bassist Margot Olavarria and drummer Ellissa Bello, and one-time bassist Paula Jean Brown, are equally fascinating. Various other musicians, managers, producers, and music writers also lend their insight throughout, and all the typical internal stories of drugs, drama, and debauchery are included, yet somehow still feel uniquely fresh, even to those already fairly familiar with their story.
While the band’s earliest period may be detailed thoroughly, the latter half of the film feels somewhat rushed, and key moments (such as the band’s 1990 reunion) are quickly glossed over or omitted entirely. Still, Ellwood brings the story of the band full circle, ending on an optimistic note that finds the core members performing a brand new song together. Even if The Go-Go’s aren’t your type of thing per se (I don’t claim to be a huge ‘fan’ by any means), the story is more than engaging enough to get lost in it for just over an hour and a half.
It’s been forty years now since the world was first introduced to the infamous Jason Voorhees via the original Friday The 13th, when it was originally released in May of 1980. Since then, the series has influenced a plethora of related pop culture across various media platforms, one of the latest being the Chicago-based First Jason, lead by none other than the original Jason himself, Ari Lehman, who was the first in a long line of actors to play the notorious killer Jason himself (hence the band name). Lehman was gracious enough to recently answer a few questions about First Jason, as well as his time portraying him on the big screen before anyone else.
In addition to Lehman fronting the band on vocals and heavy metal keytar, First Jason also consists of guitarist Eddie Machete, drummer Prince Fabian Arroyo, and bassist Johnny Danger. The band released their first album, Jason is Watching!, on February 13, 2009 – the same day the F13 remake was actually released. Ari described their sound to me as “A heavy metal band with an eclectic range of styles from upbeat hardcore to thrash-y metal; there are influences of punk, metal, funk, and reggae on every album.”
Lehman explained the band’s sound even further; “Since my main instrument is keytar, it has a profound effect on the writing, giving me the capability to draw upon a wide range of rock motifs. The focus is on a high-energy performance with Jason-themed lyrics that also speak to a wide range of emotions and viewpoints. To paraphrase my musical hero Duke Ellington, ‘limitations enhance creativity.’ Drawing on the dark sources of horror and metal, the possibilities are endless…”
Of course I had to ask Lehman what it’s like looking back now on playing the one and only Jason Voorhees four decades later. He tells me; “I will never take it for granted that I was lucky enough to get cast in a role that fans love so much that they continue to demand more and more Jason and Friday The 13th each and every day worldwide. It is the imagination of the fans that has kept Jason alive these 40 years, and there will be many more decades to come.” He continues; “Not the same as horror films today, but I think it holds up well because of (F13 Director) Sean S. Cunnigham’s attention to not allowing the actors to overdo their roles in an effort to make it as real as possible. Also, Tom Savini’s use of practical effects and the often overlooked camera work of Director of Photography Barry Abrams created an environment that lured the viewer into a sense of safety – and then SHATTERED that completely. Together they transformed a usually bucolic setting – a summer camp – into a place of sheer terror, much like Jaws did the same way for sunny beaches in the summertime. And the fans never forgot!”
I also wanted to know just how much interaction Lehman had with the other actors on the set. He explains; “I did get to meet Adrienne King of course as well as most of the actors on the set including Kevin Bacon and Harry Crosby. It was ironically the actress who played my mom, Betsy Palmer, that I did not get to meet until years later, when we bonded as friends and she took me under her wing as a confidant and advisor. Betsy and my real mom shared the same birth date, November 1st, the day after Halloween! If I could have gotten her into a music video WOW!!! What I did do and you can see it in the “Voorhees is the Name” video is to commemorate what she would say to me when she knew that I had a rock show with First Jason – ‘mama said Knock ’em DEAD, and leave ’em writhing in the aisles!!!’ I love her forever…” Having actually met Palmer myself (at the same convention along with Tom Savini and Kane Hodder as well, albeit briefly) back in 2007, I can attest to Lehman’s sentiments of her kindness firsthand (though regrettably I did not get a photo to mark the occasion).
Lehman also shared with me what he took from working on the film so long ago; “Working with Tom Savini and Taso Stavrakis for four months and creating the FX for the film gave me a sense of camaraderie, and taught me that hard work can be fun and rewarding. Also I learned from being on the set how to make the most out of the resources that are at hand – this has served me well as a leader of a touring band, and when doing independent films like The Barn & Clown Motel.”
I was also curious what Lehman’s thoughts were on the later films of the F13 series. He states; “Honestly, I feel that each Jason actor and every production team brought a new perspective to the mythology. One of my favorites is Friday The 13th Part VII: The NewBlood (1988), which was directed by John Buechler and starred Kane Hodder as Jason (for the first time). I feel that this episode does the most to recollect all of the sagas and bring it all together. Plus I enjoy that Jason is opposed by Tina (played by Lar Park Lincoln), a young psychic girl; that provides for great moments, like when she tears his mask off and sets the roof on fire!!!”
“The First Jason INTERSLASHIONAL album is the top priority now. Clown Motel 2 is shooting soon and I will return to play Psycan the deranged clown. The Barn 2 is completing now and my role as Dr. Dock was greatly expanded from the original. I am particularly proud of the work I did in this film and the team that created it for director Justin Seaman. And my weapon of choice to kill zombies in that film is even a KEYTAR!!!”
You can keep track of what’s going on with Lehman and First Jason on YouTube and Spotify, as well as Facebook (at the time of this writing, the band still has some tour dates set, with the first starting next month in Kenosha, WI on Sat., Aug 1).
Disney/Pixar’s Onward was unfortunately overshadowed by the pandemic when it was released to theaters earlier this year. But despite the brief appearance in actual cinemas, it quickly found a new life on home video and streaming services.
The story centers around brothers Ian (voiced by Tom Holland) and Barely (Chris Pratt), two elves who embark on a road trip to bring back their deceased father via a magical artifact. It might sound a little far-fetched on paper, but in terms of computer-animated films set in fantasy worlds, it really is at the top of the line. Julia-Louis Dreyfus and Octavia Spencer round out the main voice cast, while veteran voice actors like John Ratzenberger and Wimer Valderrama also lend their talents along the way.
Safe for the whole family, yet still appealing enough to hold adult attention as well, it’s a fun, welcomed piece of escapist entertainment despite it’s somewhat standard storybook plot. Ultimately it’s a trip worth taking for those raised on Toy Story and the like.
Last month, Rocky III, and it’s mega-hit theme song “Eye of the Tiger” by the band Survivor, both turned 38 years old. Originally released in late May of 1982, they’ve each endured the test of time in their own respective rights, with the latter remaining one of the biggest arena anthems and classic radio staples of all time to this day. Recently, I was able to speak with Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan (who was taking a stroll around his neighborhood at the time) via phone about just what the song’s legacy means to him, as well as what’s in store for the band in the near future.
Sullivan co-wrote said track “Eye of the Tiger” along with former Survivor member Jim Peterik (the duo co-penned the majority of the band’s material together), and is literally the lone ‘survivor’ of the band’s original lineup. One of the first things I asked Sullivan was whether or not he felt the song would go down as the one he’s most remembered for. He says; “Well, I don’t really think any one song can define character. It defines a moment in somebody’s life, maybe, but not the person themselves. But some really great relationships came out of that whole thing, though.”
I wanted to know if Sullivan still felt the same he did when performing live not only songs like “Tiger…,” but many of the band’s other classics such as “The Search is Over” or “I Can’t Hold Back” as he once did when those songs were all still brand new. He tells me; “The first couple notes, that’s when the magic happens, and you can really see it in people! It’s all awesome!”
I also asked what Sullivan’s been keeping himself busy doing with all of his recent down time, and he tells me,”Interviews! I don’t normally do a lot of them, but I said ‘I’m gonna do this,’ and it turned out to be a lot of great fun. Usually we’d be out on the road working right now, but I think people are paying more attention to what’s going on in the country right now than what bands are doing.”
With the passing of former lead singer Jimi Jamison in 2014, and, more recently former bassist Stephan Ellis in 2019, I asked what he wanted people to remember them for; “I think they remember exactly what they saw of them. Sometimes it was energy, sometimes presence. I think the world already knows that. If they don’t, then they’re not thinking about them enough, anyway. That’s why I don’t always comment much on the guys who have passed.”
I was also curious if Frankie kept in touch with any other former members, such as original lead singer Dave Bickler, and former drummer Marc Droubay. He tells me; “Well, I don’t keep in touch with Dave, but that’s not unusual. We’ve never really kept in touch from day one. I’ve known Marc since around ’75 though, and he’s a great drummer, man. Marc always followed the guitar riffs and ignored the bass, but that’s a whole other thing. It was kind of like how Jimmy Page felt about John Bonham.” And as far as having his own son (current Survivor drummer Ryan Sullivan) in the band with him now, Frankie says, “As long as he’s a good drummer, it’s great! He was Marc’s tech before he was in the band, too, so he always called him Uncle Marc.”
And when asked if Survivor has any plans for new music in the works, Sullivan simply states; “If it happens, it happens. but Survivor has such a rich catalogue of original material and stuff people haven’t even heard yet. We have demos from sessions that I don’t think some of the guys who have been in the band have ever even heard. But at this time with what’s going on in the world and country right now, I haven’t even considered going and recording new music.”
Sullivan left with this sentiment; “I was young when I started, and was recording during the best years of music history; analog tape recording. After that it was all digital, and before that it wasn’t ready for prime time. These days kids can make records in their bedrooms, and God bless them for it. But I came from a different school, and like the stuff that came before all that. I lived through the greatest years in recording history…and it’s still the best!”