Retrospective: 30 Years Since we first entered ‘Wayne’s World’ By Jesse Striewski

Before Saturday Night Live became the embarrassing mess of mean-spirited, nasty nonsense that it unfortunately has, it actually gave us some great moments and memorable characters in TV history. In the ’70s the likes of the Coneheads stood out, while Eddie Murphy dominated the early part of the ’80s with multiple personas, including Gumby, Buckwheat, and Mr. Robinson.

But by the late ’80s, we were introduced to two guys who “rocked” out in a basement while filming a public access show, Wayne and Garth, potrayed wonderfully by castmates Mike Myers and Dana Carvey. The original Wayne’s World skit officially premired on February 18, 1989, ushering in a new era of pop culture phenomion. Shortly after, I began discovering many of the bands (Guns N’ Roses, Aerosmith, etc…) the duo would reference on their “show” on my own personal journey, so it made perfect sense for me to fall for these two lovable dimwits.

It didn’t take long for Producer Lorne Michaels and co. to cash in on their newfound hit skit, and by 1991, a film version for Paramount Pictures was green lit. Veteran rock director Penelope Spheeris, who at the time was best known for her Decline of Western Civilization films, was tapped to direct.

Released on February 14, 1992, Wayne’s World was an instant hit, eventually going on to gross over $180 million at the box office. Aside from Myers and Carvey, it also starred Tia Carre as Wayne’s sexy love interest, Cassandra, and ’80s brat packer Rob Lowe as sleazy television producer Benjamin, hell-bent on exploiting the show and stealing the girl all at once.

Wayne’s World was a one-of-a-kind ride like few others that came before it, with the two heroes stumbling upon a host of colorful characters along the way, with bit parts played by everyone from Meat Loaf, Ed O’Neill, Chris Farley, to even Alice Cooper himself (I couldn’t help but think of the film when I saw Cooper perform “Feed My Frankenstein” for the first time years later in 2005).

Aside from Cooper, it’s soundtrack also boosted many others who weren’t necessarily considered “in” by 1992’s standards, including Black Sabbath and Cinderella, as well as giving Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” it’s highest ever chart position sixteen years after it’s original release (shortly before his death that same year, late Queen frontman Freddie Mercury actually gave his blessing for the song to be used in the film, reportedly loving the head-banging car scene it was used in).

I myself was not able to see the film during its original run in the cinemas; just two months after it hit theaters, I was involved in a car accident that would ultimately change my life forever and leaving me permanently disabled. But during the many months I spent recovering in the hospital, I watched the film for the first time with a fellow long-term patient shortly after it came out on video.

However, I was finally able to catch Wayne and Garth on the big screen the following year when Wayne’s World 2 was released in December of 1993. Although lacking some of the charm of the original (and the direction of Spheeris, who Myers reportedly butted heads with during production of the first film), the sequel did have some of its own memorable moments, including some stand out performances from the likes of Christoper Walken, Kim Basinger, and Oliva d’Abo, among others.

Still, even with all of its flaws, I will gladly take Wayne’s World 2 over ninety-nine percent of what passes as “comedy” these days. When the Wayne’s World films were released, there was still a sort of innocence that’s just been lost today; so much of what comes out now is either hollow, or contains a level of ugliness fueled by some need to push an agenda and/or criticize in the name of “social justice.” Society is indeed headed down an unfortunate path, and should really take a cue from Wayne and Garth, and just be “excellent” to each other again.

Album Review: Debbie Gibson – The Body Remembers (Stargirl)

By: Jesse Striewski

I wasn’t exactly a Debbie Gibson “fan” during her ’80s hey day. I was certainly aware of her presence thanks to MTV, but in my young mind, she was just something for my older sisters to listen to, not me. But with age comes wisdom, and my appreciation for all genres of music has grown exponentially over the years. Not to mention the moment I first saw Gibson scantly slinking around in her recent video for “One Step Closer,” I knew she had me hooked.

The Body Remembers contains fifteen cutesy pop tracks that often sound comparable to many of the current hits heard on modern radio today. Along the way, there’s contributions from the likes of Sixx: A.M./former Guns N’ Roses guitarist DJ Ashba and Cinderella drummer Fred Coury. There’s even a duet with Joey Mcintyre of New Kids on the Block, appropriately titled “Lost in Your Eyes, the Duet,” though said track is not as strong a ballad as probably hoped for. But the main overall highlights here are definitely the title track, and “Dance 4U,” the latter a seemingly perfect strip club anthem.

Okay, so I probably won’t go out of my way to listen to The Body Remembers on a regular basis any time soon. But you know what? I’d rather have my kid listening to something like this than the garbage that passes for music these days that was on full display at the V.M.A’s the other night. It’s a shame that someone with actual class such as Gibson’s doesn’t get the type of attention that the masses so blindly hand over to far less talented artists; if for no other reason, give her new disc at least one spin.

Rating: 3/5 Stars

Book Review: Nothin’ But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the ’80s Hard Rock Explosion By Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (St. Martins Press)

By: Jesse Striewski

With renewed interest in the decade of decadence continually growing each year, there’s no shortage of various media information on ’80s hard rock (a.k.a. ‘hair’ or ‘glam’ rock) and heavy metal out there these days. But this new book by rock journalists Tom Beaujour and Richard Bienstock (with a brief forward by Slipknot frontman Corey Taylor) is truly the new bible on ’80s hard rock and heavy metal.

Largely tracing it’s roots back to the influence Van Halen had on the movement in the mid to late ’70s, here the two authors put together a collection of interviews that includes numerous musicians, producers, promoters, magazine editors, and the like, to help tell the tale of arguably one of rock’s greatest eras. Various key members of such staple acts as Motley Crue, Ratt, Guns N’ Roses, Quiet Riot, Dokken, L.A. Guns, W.A.S.P., Poison, Cinderella, and Warrant, – as well as numerous Rewind It Magazine interviewees from over the years – including Jay Jay French of Twisted Sister, Jack Russell of Great White, Brian Forsthye of Kix, and Rachel Bolan of Skid Row (among many others), are just some who help recall the foundation of the genre that changed it all in great detail.

The perspective is unique and fresh, despite some of the stories already found in other published works (many of those involved have previously published their own individual biographies). There’s even a brief but brilliant collection of many never-before-seen photos included as well. In short, Nothin’ But a Good Time is a rollercoaster ride of literature from start to finish, and one of the best of it’s kind currently available on the subject. It simply ‘don’t get better than this.’

Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Album Review: Tom Keifer – Rise (Cleopatra Records)

Tom Keifer

By: Jesse Striewski

From the moment he first arrived on the scene with Cinderella in the mid-80s, Tom Keifer has defined what it means to be the “cool” rock star front man. Now on his second full-length solo effort (with his new backing band), he’s still kicking just as much ass as he was back in his heyday.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect at first with Rise, but once I was finally able to give it my full attention, I knew Keifer still had “it”. Songs like “Untitled,” “Touching the Divine,” and “The Death of Me” (my personal favorite off the record) are all enough to get crowds moving. Conversely, numbers like “Waiting on the Demons” and the title track are more somber efforts (the latter of which Keifer even seems to be channeling his inner John Lennon on).

I’ve made no secrets over the years regarding how huge of a Cinderella/Tom Keifer fan I am; with this new release, my respect for both has only grown further.

Rating: 4 Stars

Bret Michaels and Lita Ford Live in Orlando on 11/3/18 Words By Jesse Striewski/Photos By Brooke & Jesse Striewski

7SM_3767edit2

Back in 2013, two kids who had been dating for a few months went to Orlando to quench their mutual thirst for ’80s rock by seeing Poison front man Bret Michaels live in concert. It was at that very show they realized they had finally found something special, and by the next weekend, they were engaged. Now married, the two make up not only a great husband and wife couple, but also a writer/photographer duo that occasionally team up to cover local concerts, such as the recent Bret Michaels show in Orlando this past November 3. This time around the two were there with a purpose, covering the show (which this time featured not one, but two ’80s icons as Lita Ford opened) with photo passes in hand. The result was truly a night to remember for all who were there.

Lita Ford has been on my personal list of artists to see live for some time now, and after several missed chances over the years, that wish was finally realized (and with the best seat in the house -the photo pit – nonetheless).

Immediately packing a punch with fan favorite “Gotta Let Go,” Lita indeed got the staged primed for a night full of great old school rock. And with only so much time to spare, Ms. Ford didn’t waste any of it, belting out classics like “Playing with fire,” “Hungry,” and “Back to the Cave,” before rounding things out with her monster hits “Close my Eyes Forever,” and of course, “Kiss Me Deadly.”

And finally, Poison frontman Bret Michaels took over the stage, getting the party started appropriately with the classic “Talk Dirty to Me.” Michaels wasted no time, and quickly followed up with “Ride the Wind” before going into a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” that the crowd ate up completely. And joined by Cinderella bassist Eric Brittingham by his side, there was no denying the ’80s hard rock energy coming from the stage.

From there on out, it was one Poison hit after another; their version of “Your Mama Don’t Dance,” followed by “Something to Believe In,” “Unskinny Bop,” “Every Rose Has Its Thorn,” and of course, the party anthem “Nothin’ But a Good Time.” Although his set may have been cut slightly shorter this time due to a shared bill, the energy was still undeniable. It’s hard to imagine anyone in attendance that night went home unsatisfied.

Lita Ford opening the show (photo by Jesse Striewski).