Friday, August 2, 2019

Once Upon A Time ... In Hollywood

My original intention this morning was to run a full review of the new Quentin Tarantino movie "Once Upon A Time ... In Hollywood" ... but schedule-wise, I never had the time needed to do so.

Fortunately, two of our Forgotten Hits Readers DID send in THEIR reviews this week ... so I am now able to lead with those and then just offer some brief commentary of my own at the end of this piece.

Going in, you need to know two things ...

#1 - You're about to read some somewhat "mixed reviews" here ... but to me, that's one of the cool things about doing it this way. 

And "B" (I just LOVE when people do it this way), you're going to find some SPOILERS ... so if you haven't seen the movie yet (or simply don't want to know), please be advised.  (I will run a SPOILER ALERT headline where they appear so that at least you have the option to divert your eyes and skip over them.)

First up, Clark Besch:

Just a quick warning in advance ... I mention some things about this film, but I don't give much away about the story below.  However, there ARE a few SPOILER ALERTS, so please be advised going in.
We went to see this film Sunday afternoon and let me tell you, it's pretty cool to step into 1969, even in an area I did not live near.  
The music and KHJ airchecks blaring throughout was great to hear -- especially the obscure songs.  The LENGTH of the soundtrack songs as used varied from about three words of Chad & Jeremy's "Paxton Quigley" to nearly the full songs of "Son of a Lovin' Man" and "Bring a Little Lovin'"!! The soundtrack list that Kent ran the other day does not include many other songs that played roles in the film.  
For example, there was a 4th Raiders song and The Stones' "Out of Time" gets a long run as well ... as does the Mamas and Papas' "12:30."  There is also a funny scene with "Snoopy Vs the Red Baron."  
The Heaven Scent jingle is played and I love that little tune still after a million AM radio plays back then.  Neil Diamond gets a couple of songs in the film.  
The one song that did NOT fit the time frame was Joe Cocker's "The Letter," a 1970 hit.  
Altho Buffy Sainte-Marie sang "The Circle Game" in the film, I believe Joni Mitchell's rendition would have been better for this film.  Dee Clark gets an oldie play, but why not stick in "Light my Fire" or "My Little Red Book" instead?  
KHJ's main Boss Radio jingle gets at least three plays along with the great DJs of the time, Robert W Morgan, Real Don Steele and Humble Harv (who I did not remember hearing when I saw this).
Without spoiling the movie plot, I would greatly suggest reading what happened in the 1969 Sharon Tate murders by the Manson clan.  I only knew the basics, so it would have been much better, had I been "informed" on everything that happened.  Where reality and fiction meet is sometimes hard to tell, as many things (like TV shows) were real life things.  
They did a good job of finding actors who LOOKED like the actual people that were a part of the REAL Manson story.  How about Joey Heatherton?  She looked EXACTLY like her 1970 look.  Michelle Phillips and Mama Cass get nice portrayals as well.  Even the dog food dropped out of a can resembled the same muck we fed our cats in the same way in the 60's.  I'm not even sure that the main character, a Rick Dalton, is even the MAIN character!
The gruesome part is truly gruesome, but I won't add anymore there. 
The TV western the film's star is in is MUCH like any of the early 60's B&W shows like "Branded," "Rifleman," etc.  There's TONS of cool TV traits, movie connections and various terms in the film dealing with the 60's, often underlying to be found by those who wish to dig in their memory banks.  Also quite a few ironic twists, of which I probably missed many.  
The songs were fit in nicely to what was happening in the story, such as "Out of Time" and "Straight Shooter."  By the end, I was almost thinking some things were done on purpose, but they may have been invented in MY mind and may NOT have been anything intended.  It was like the Paul is Dead clue syndrome!  Was it just me or did the film's director play KHJ AM radio throughout the film, yet late when things took a turn, you see a radio dial being turned on the FM dial with Vanilla Fudge playing "You Keep Me Hanging On."  Was this the subliminal ending of AM radio to FM?  Was I just imagining things?  Naming one of the girls "Pussycat" was a bit like "Hell's Angels on Wheels," who I believe had a girl with the name "Mattress back."
One great thing with the film was the use of REAL records and the characters playing records that actually were the correct labels for the time (Raiders on Columbia and Mamas & Papas Dunhill.)  I see why Paul Revere & the Raiders were throughout the film now.  Of course, Terry Melcher produced these songs and he was the one to NOT give Manson his recording chance that led to ... whatever happens in the film (or doesn't.) 
It's funny but the TV show being watched by "the ranch gang" was the Raiders' Saturday afternoon bandstand show, "It's Happening" (complete with the correct theme being played), while in the supposed targeted ill-fated house, their "Something Happening" album is played, featuring music included on that album.  Kind of a cool twist.  You won't see cassette decks or 8 tracks blaring, but you WILL hear AM radio's glory days and music from reel to reels, which I enjoyed immensely.
If you get there early, you might get the free fake "fanzine" (ala the "That Thing You Do!" one) that has faux stories on the stars and the music and cigarette ads.  It was funny to see all the cigarette smoking that went on (just as it DID back then) and then walk out of the show and see three people congregated smoking outside.  There was nothing like unfiltered cigarettes!  Times have changed.
After watching the disappointing music film revolving around 1964-67 Laurel Canyon in LA last week, I feel like "Once Upon a Time" was almost MORE realistic and could have been the one called "Echoes from the Canyon."  I think about what could be used in such a film revolving around 60's Chicago.  Imagine a film scene starting with Jim Sohns screaming out "Oh Yeah!  Everything's gonna be alright this morning" by the Shadows of Knight.  If only gangsta Chitown was in the 60', right?  Haha.  
Anyway ...
It's a pretty cool film and at 2 hours 40 minutes, you get your money's worth of entertainment and great 60's music!  
P.S.  Once you have SEEN the film, here's a great cheat sheet on who played what person and who that person was in real life and what happened to them all.  Do NOT look at this until seeing the film. 
Next up ... Phil Nee ... 
I went to Once Upon A Time In Hollywood last night and totally loved it.
Unlike the recently reviewed Yesterday, the characters are very memorable and likeable.  The movie is very long, but it did not seem like it.  I would have turned around and went to see it again.  
This movie was funnier than I expected it to be.  I was impressed with the old cars on the street, the can labels in the cupboards, the clothes and KHJ radio playing through the movie. 
The fantastic soundtrack sounded so good.  There are songs in the soundtrack that I have discovered for the first time.  When I was a youngster, I loved the t.v. western Lancer. 
Most people don't remember it because it only lasted for two seasons.
I found it incredible that they used that forgotten show as a part of the story line. 
All of the performances are good.  Margot Robbie as Sharon Tate is breathtaking.  Mike Moh plays Bruce Lee, and he hails from Verona, Wisconsin.
You and I don't always see eye to eye when we review movies.  I am pretty sure you will give this a Forgotten Hits
thumbs up!
Phil - WRCO
The film has been playing to nearly unanimous rave reviews ... it even got a seven minute standing ovation after the premier.  All of the press seems to be heralding it as perhaps Quentin Tarantino's greatest achievement.
I hated it.
And, once again, I went into it with the highest expectations and anticipation.  The idea of melding fiction with the real-life experience of the Manson Family / Sharon Tate murders was intriguing at the very least.
But I found myself sitting there waiting for something ... ANYTHING ... to happen to make me feel invested in the film ... and 2 hours and 40 minutes is a LONG time to sit there if this is what you're feeling.  (Truth be told, I started to keep track of time ... never a good sign ... and didn't have my first real "connection moment" with the film until we were 55 minutes in.  That's an hour I'll never get back!)
Yes, the soundtrack is brilliant (although at times annoying ... if you're only going to feature four words of a song, why include it at all?  In addition to Clark's example, I would include Neil Diamond's "Kentucky Woman" as another.)  In fact, the music editing was very abrupt on several occasions ... and including Joe Cocker's version of "The Letter" was an obvious flaw to me as well ... although the average film goer isn't going to notice something like that.  (Still, since so much of the music featured came from 1966 - 1969, why not just use The Box Tops' bigger hit version instead?)
As for the story, I hated it ... or perhaps more so wondered where it was.  Quentin Tarantino is either spot on or off by a country mile ... and there just doesn't seem to be any middle ground with him.  I guess my best characterization would have to be that I always feel like Quentin is laughing considerably harder at his own jokes than anyone else in the room.  He has a tendency to ramble on FAR longer than he needs to on many occasion, a trait that has provided the low point in several of his other films as well.  (Nothing's going to ever top "Pulp Fiction" for me, where I don't think there was EVER a dull moment of even 30 seconds!)
And it's a shame ... because Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt both put on Oscar-worthy performances.  The film is shot in a way that really captures the look of that era ... and the attention to so much of the detail is outstanding ... yet it just never drew me in.  I kept waiting for something to grab me ... and it never did.
The character profiles of DiCaprio's and Pitt's roles were well developed and well defined ... but there wasn't really anything new brought in to the stereotype Hollywood has-been story.  Margot Robbie IS stunning as Sharon Tate ... but I don't think she had more than eight lines of dialog in the entire film!  She was used more as a "prop" than a character in the film.
Yes, the Bruce Lee scene was funny and entertaining ... but we saw THAT in the preview.  The standout scenes for me were the ones between DiCaprio and ten year old Julia Butters ... these were the moments that meant the most to me.
So the reader may ask, "How can you point out and praise all of these significantly important things and still give the film a negative review?"
Because the movies for me have always been about escapism ... I want to go off some place else for a couple of hours and be entertained while I'm there.  I never felt that way with this film.  There were long, drawn-out stretches that were actually painful to sit through.  (Seriously, did we need that much background on Leo's trip to Italy to film spaghetti westerns?  Although I will say that on the flight back to Hollywood, he looked to be the spitting image of 1969 Tommy Roe!  It was uncanny!)
And yes, the actors portraying the incidental sideline characters were amazing ... I, too, would single out Steve McQueen, Mama Cass, Michelle Phillips and the incredibly beautiful Joey Heatherton, who dated our FH Buddy John Madara back in the day ... something that gnaws at me every time I think of it!  lol
Throughout the film I kept thinking to myself, "I can't give this movie anything higher than a '2' rating ... I wanted to but just couldn't ... I was that put off by it.
But then ... SPOILER ALERT ... when they drifted COMPLETELY off reality the night of the Sharon Tate murders, that was it for me.  DON'T TIE IN SUPPOSED REALITY AS THE BACKDROP TO YOUR FILM AND THEN PRESENT ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE REALITY OF THAT SITUATION!!! 
SPOILER ALERT:  If the whole motive of the twist of the story was to present "What would happen if the Manson Family murderers went to the wrong house that night by mistake?" ... meaning that everybody else that died that night gets to live ... then this is NOT a film or premise that I can support.  People DIED that night ... REAL people ... and to present any other fantasy doesn't lessen that reality.  (I immediately down-graded my ranking to a "1".)
END OF SPOILER ALERTS:  If any or all of this appeals to you, see it and draw your own conclusions.  I can only tell you that I left the theater feeling totally let down and disappointed.   (kk)

Thursday, August 1, 2019

The Ides Of March 55th Anniversary Party ... And An Introduction To Colin Peterik's Brand New Band, The Brooklyn Charmers

Our Rock And Roll Weekend continued on Sunday, July 28th, when we attended a very special "By Invitation Only" party thrown by Jim, Karen and Colin Peterik at The Jam Lab celebrating:

A) The 55th Anniversary of The Ides Of March

B) The CD Release Party for The Ides Of March's brand new CD "Play On"

C) The live, video shoot for the very first single from the brand new CD, "Friends Like You" and

D) The first-ever, live performance by The Brooklyn Charmers, Colin Peterik's Steely Dan Tribute Band 

And what a completely fun-filled, exciting day it turned out to be.

First up, the video shoot.

The new Ides single is phenomenal ... give this thing a shot with a little bit of airplay and they've got a hit on their hands.

Featuring the incredible Mindi Abair wailing away on saxophone, this things rocks along at a real, feel-good pace ... great vocals and great instrumentation throughout.  (I'd love to play it for you right now but since the CD doesn't officially get released until August 16th, I hesitate to do so.)  However, the moment the video is released, you can be guaranteed seeing it here in Forgotten Hits.  (In fact, depending on the final edit, you may even see me and Frannie IN the video!!!)

It was done as a live-action shoot, with the full band playing along live to the pre-recorded track, with lots of groove dancing by Mindi and Jim ... as well as the entire group of spectators surrounding the stage.

As you can see, Jim is in full metal jacket (or would that be full silver metallic attire, from head to toe) ... we were at the ELO concert the night before and didn't see this much glare and glitter in their entire laser light show!

After a second run through (Jim asked for a bottle of water between takes ... and I half expected to hear him squeak "Oil Can") ... the crowd broke up a bit to enjoy a beautiful spread of tacos and margaritas, during which time Jim's son Colin's band set up on stage for their first-ever, live performance as a band, The Brooklyn Charmers.  

The band, consisting of Colin Peterik (keyboards and vocals), Kevin Campbell (bass and vocals), Frank Minella (guitar and vocals), Sean Briskey (guitar and vocals) and Alex Zeravica (drums and percussion) have got the Steely Dan sound down.  (Look out, Deacon Blues ... there's a NEW band in town!)  They played a solid hour set of some of the most intricate jazz-infused rock you're ever going to hear.  (I've gotta say that it is just SO amazing to see this youthful group of like-minded musicians, so skilled in their craft and tackling ... and appreciating ... music of this caliper ... and then executing it with such precision.  Their first official gig will be October 12th at the Q Bar in Glendale Heights ... it's sure to be a sell-out so get your tickets early if you live in the area!) 

At the end of the night, all of the guests were presented with a copy of the brand new Ides Of March 55th Anniversary CD ... and let me tell you, it's HOT!!!

In addition to Mindi Abair (who, I must say, is not bad for a girl!), other guests include Cathy Richardson (current lead vocalist of Jefferson Starship), Bo Bice (current lead vocalist of Blood, Sweat and Tears ... and former American Idol Runner-Up), Tom Doody of The Cryan' Shames, Mark Farner (formerly of Grand Funk Railroad) and David Pack (former lead singer of Ambrosia.)  This one's a keeper!!!

And, as yet ANOTHER Forgotten Hits Exclusive, Jim has given us a few copies to give away to our loyal readers. 

That's right, friends ... you can  

Just shoot me an email ( and put IDES OF MARCH in the subject line and we'll register your name for a chance to win a copy of "Play On," the hot new Ides Of March CD release.

(Yes, that's us ... hawking CD's as usual ... but this one would be a real prize to add to your collection ... so get your entries in today!)

[Special Photo Thanks to Kristie Schram as credited, Chris May for the shots of me, Frannie and Jim, and Frannie Kotal for the shot of me and Jim, both dressed in our Sunday bests] 


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Concert Review: Jeff Lynne's ELO

One would think that if you filled the stage with thirteen extremely talented and accomplished musicians and vocalists, you would pretty much be assured that they would be capable of producing a sound bordering on perfection ... and, in this case, you would be right ... perhaps even EXCEEDING perfection a time or two (or ten!) along the way.

Now give that same incredible mass of talent the Jeff Lynne songbook to perform and the results are nothing short of magic ... and there's nothing strange about it!!!

For the second year in a row (after a 35+ year hiatus), Jeff Lynne and his remarkable Electric Light Orchestra returned to the Chicago stage to perform an array of hits that were mesmerizing in every conceivable way ... sonicly ... visually ... spiritually ... and all of it precision timed to coordinate sight and sound that reached down deep to touch your mind, your heart and your soul.

Simply put, it was nothing short of a 90-minute life-changing experience ... even if you HAD seen them the year before!

(We named Jeff Lynne's ELO our #1 Concert Experience of 2018 ... and I swear they were even better this time around ... perhaps because they're doing more dates and have had the chance to gel together a bit more ... perhaps because their own confidence has escalated, knowing that what they are producing is one-of-a-kind showmanship you just aren't going to find anywhere else.)   

The venue this time around was The United Center ... which can be questionable on occasion when it comes to sound ... but all of the planets were perfectly aligned Saturday Night as Lynne and company took to the stage (after an opening set by George's son, Dhani Harrison) and blew us away, song after song.  (We opted for mezzanine seats rather than main floor for this show and were glad that we did ... those folks on the floor didn't sit down for one song during ELO's 90 minute set!  Meanwhile, we had a perfect view from our vantage point and only felt obliged to stand for the necessary ovations the group deserved throughout the night.) 

Other than "Strange Magic" (and, thankfully, no "Xanadu" this time around) the set featured some of the biggest hits of the '70's and early '80's (with a couple of new tunes sprinkled in for good measure.)  An especially emotional moment came when Dhani Harrison was brought back out on stage to perform "Handle With Care," the song his father performed with The Traveling Wilburys (which also featured Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan and Roy Orbison.)  Video footage of the supergroup played on the screen behind them as they performed a letter-perfect live version of this classic tune.  (My God ... can you imagine if The Traveling Wilburys had ever toured?!?!?)

Check out this incredible set list:

Standin' in the Rain
Evil Woman
All Over the World
Do Ya
When I Was a Boy
Livin' Thing
Handle With Care
Last Train to London
Eldorado Overture
Can't Get It Out of My Head
10538 Overture
Shine a Little Love
Wild West Hero
Sweet Talkin' Woman
Telephone Line
Don't Bring Me Down
Turn to Stone
Mr. Blue Sky 
Roll Over Beethoven

It was a remarkable show, start to finish ... and, believe it or not, after tomorrow, the U.S. Tour will already be over. (The laser light show and constant video images projecting behind them made this a sight and sound to behold.  We took some video but even as exciting as it is to watch, it doesn't do the whole experience justice.  Here's a video we found on YouTube from last year's concert in Chicago that gives you at least SOME idea as to the spectacle before you when watching a Jeff Lynne / ELO concert.):

Sunday, July 28, 2019

July 28th

Wow!  The Rolling Stones only took three weeks to top the WLS Hit Parade Chart with their latest release, "Honky Tonk Women."  (It went from #30 to #10 to #1!)

Johnny Cash's latest, "A Boy Named Sue," seems poised to hit the top of the chart as well ... this week it moves from #30 to #18 in its third week on the chart.

Tom Jones jumps ten places with "I'll Never Fall In Love Again" (from #35 to #25.  Ironically this record and the one by The Youngbloods at #38 ("Get Together") were both first originally released in 1967 but didn't make a dent here in Chicago.  Now all of a sudden they're some of this week's Pick Hits!

I'm also REALLY lovin' the new Creedence Clearwater Revival single, "Green River," which premiers at #35 this week.  Incredibly, CCR would release THREE albums of new material in 1969 ... "Bayou Country," "Green River" and "Willie And The Poorboys" ... and between them, those three albums would produce FIVE National Top Five Singles:  "Proud Mary" (#1), "Bad Moon Rising" (#1), "Green River" (#2), "Down On The Corner" (#3) and "Fortunate Son" (#4).

THIS WEEK IN 1969:  
July 22nd – The soundtrack to Elvis Presley's NBC "comeback" television special receives a gold record.  

Also on this date, The Band recorded "Up On Cripple Creek" in New York ... and Aretha Franklin is arrested for disorderly conduct after creating a disturbance in a Detroit parking lot.  Aretha posted $50 bail … and then ran down a road sign while leaving the police station.  (As far as I know, there were no costume changes at the police station)  

July 24th – Actress / Singer Jennifer Lopez is born

(I wasn't there ... but I don't think she looked like that then!!!)  

Also on this date, Paul McCartney recorded a demo of his new song "Come And Get It" to give to Apple Records' recently signed new band, The Iveys.  Paul plays all of the instruments on the demo (a practice he'll use again for his first solo LP) and it sounds nearly identical to the version that would eventually come out as a single some six months later, by which time The Iveys had changed their name to Badfinger ... and the song had been commissioned to be used on the soundtrack for "The Magic Christian" film, which starred Ringo Starr and Peter Sellers.

July 25th – Neil Young performs live with Crosby, Stills and Nash for the very first time when they played The Fillmore East in New York.  He will be a “sometime member” of the group for the next 40+ years

Also in concert that night ... Led Zeppelin in Milwaukee!

July 28th - Elvis attends Barbra Streisand's appearance at The International Hotel in Las Vegas, where his own show will open in just three days!