New G.I. Joe Classified

 

Hasbro Pulsecon 2021 has wrapped up their G.I. Joe segment, and were happy to announce one new figure the fans have eagerly been awaiting. The all new Going Commando Snake Eyes will be available for pre-order from Target at 5:00 PM today, limited one per customer, with only ten being produced. Good luck!

 


Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Retro Spins: Duran Duran - Future Past

 

Duran Duran released their fifteenth studio album, Future Past, today, October 22, 2021. With it, we see the return of veteran rockers, Simon Le Bon, Nick Rhodes, John Taylor and Roger Taylor, four of the five original members. This album comes quite a bit out from their 2015 entry, Paper Gods, but was it worth the wait?

Short answer? Yes.

Long answer, after forty years of albums, Duran Duran show that they still know what it takes to stay relevant in today's music industry, while continuing to craft hits. Unlike many artists over time who have released albums with numerous throw away tracks, Future Past feels finely honed and meticulously carved out to deliver a heavy punch from start to finish.

The tunes are heavy pop driven, while continuing to provide that groovy funk bass that people have come to expect. Overall, this plays well to their strong points. It's difficult to find a weakness in everything because from start to finish it doesn't let up in the energy. Though personally speaking, the leading track, Invisible, is by far my favorite. It sets the tone and stage for the album as a whole.

It's days like this that make me glad to see bands from the 80's continue to push on through multiple decades. It's awesome to see that they still have material worth recording, and physical albums to release. It helps to make old people like me not feel forgotten amongst a generation of digital children.

Future Past is definitely one worth checking out. I can't imagine Duran Duran fans would be disappointed, and new inductees may find something worth digging into the past for to see where it all started.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below. 

Disclaimer: They Toy Box does not endorse or contribute to piracy. Retro Spins posts are intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. None of the music discussed here is available for sale, downloading or distribution.

Hasbro Pulsecon 2021

 

2021 Hasbro Pulsecon starts today at 11:00 AM, and runs through tomorrow. You excited? Maybe? Possibly? Meh?

Join the livestream at their official Youtube page.


Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Retro Spins: Suzi Quatro - Suzi Quatro

 

Spanning a career multiple decades long, Suzi Quatro doesn't appear to be showing any desire to stop even in her 70's! She hit my radar not too long ago with her song, "She's In Love With You, from her 1979 album, Suzi...And Other Four Letter Words. Though I never really spring boarded from there into anything else from her.

Suzi was born to play music, having literally gotten her start playing drums for her father's jazz band at the age of seven. In 1964, at the age of fourteen, her sister started a garage band after seeing a broadcast of The Beatles. Suzi joined the group, providing vocals and bass. However, the band was limited to gigs, playing mostly at Cabernet venues, where it was more about their looks than the music. Still, this made them somewhat popular with the Detroit music scene, and they eventually released two singles in 1966 as the Pleasure Seekers.

In 1971, the music industry was looking for the next Janis Joplin, who had passed away in October of 1970. Quatro was garnering this attention with Elketra's president telling her that if he signed with them that she could be just that - the next Jopin. Enter producer Mickie Most, founder of Rak Records. Most promised he would take her to England and make her the first Suzi Quatro. However, there was just one problem. He didn't know how he was going to do that. This resulted in Quatro staying in a hotel for a year, while Most worked with her.

Quatro embarked on a tour in 1972 with Thin Lizzy and Slade, and it was during this time that she released several singles. While her first song, Rolling Stone, went to number one, this was only in Portugal. Her second single, Can The Can, went number one in both Europe and Australia. 48 Crash, Daytona Demon, and Devil Gate Drive would follow with Can, 48, and Devil all selling over a million copies. Her self titled debut would follow, but fail to garner much attention in the USA. Despite this, she would release five more albums throughout the 70's, Quatro (1974), Your Mama Won't Like Me (1975), Aggro-Phobia (1977), If You Knew Suzi... (1978), and Suzi...And Other Four Letter Words (1979).

She continued to be successful throughout Australia, but by 1980, this too waned when she switched labels to Dreamland Records. With the exception of a brief appearance in 1986 alongside the London Cast for Annie Get Your Gun, Suzi only released two albums in the 80's before disappearing. 1980's Rock Hard, and 1982's Main Attraction. To the general public, it appeared she had tapped out. However, this was far from the truth.

Though she would switch labels consecutively with each album, barring her last two, Suzi returned in 1990 with her tenth studio album, Oh, Suzi Q. She would then disappear until the middle of the decade, once again reappearing with 1995's What Goes Around - Latest And Greatest, which was part new album, part re-recorded hits. This was followed up with in 1998 with Unreleased Emotions, and 1999's Free The Butterfly, the latter which was by no means an actual album. Rather, it was a self-help sound therapy record in correlation with Shirlie Roden.

After disappearing again, Quatro would work on the album which would be presented as her come back. 2006's Back To The Drive. It was mildly successful in Switzerland, but failed to chart anywhere else in the world. With her comeback somewhat stunted, she would once again step out of the spotlight, but return with 2011's In The Spotlight...Which she ultimately wasn't, because that album too failed.

In 2017 Suzi returned with Andy Scott (of Sweet) and Don Powell (of Slade) for the aptly titled, Quatro, Scott & Powell. The album was a mix of covers and original material, and while the ingredients were all there, the album just didn't get any attention. But, Suzi didn't seem to care. She released another album in 1999, No Control, and again in 2021, The Devil In Me.

Despite Suzi's mainstay popularity in Australia, and a stunted career from the 80's and on, I'm here today to go back to her original debut album from 1973. I want to hear who Suzi was, where she started, and see for myself that piece of an era that I can't help but feel has most likely been forgotten by the world.

Well, sadly this write up isn't going to be long. While Suzi has a powerful voice, and her band is suitable for the tunes they're playing, they just aren't any good. In fact, they're so forgettable that as I was typing all of the above, I actually tuned it out. I was surprised when typing this paragraph that the album was wrapping up with the final track. Nothing stood out.

It appear that perhaps the rest of the world may have been right with this one. It's just not good. Well, let me take that back. It's just not memorable. And that, in and of itself, is probably worse than being bad. See, I'll remember a lot of songs I absolutely hate for all the wrong reasons. Whereas, even now, I can't really remember anything from this album that I heard. I couldn't repeat one word to you from any of the songs.

I guess for me, I'll stick to the one tune I pulled from her 1979 album, which I own, but have never heard in its entirety. After this listening session, I see no reason to really do so. But, I suppose if there's one thing to be happy about. At least we got her appearance on Happy Days to perform, Do The Fonzie!

Yeah...That's probably not something to be proud of.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Disclaimer: They Toy Box does not endorse or contribute to piracy. Retro Spins posts are intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. None of the music discussed here is available for sale, downloading or distribution.

Retro Spins: Howard Jones - Dream Into Action



I would have never guess Howard Jones had so many albums if I hadn't seen the list for myself. While he contributed some major staples to the 80's, he wasn't an artist that stayed on my radar for very long. He kind of just came and went with all the other one hit wonders of the era - even though he wasn't one of them.

My experience with Jones starts and ends with Things Can Only Get Better, No One Is To Blame and my all time favorite from him, Everlasting Love. Beyond that, I didn't think he really did that much, and clearly, I was wrong. Between 1984 and 2015, the artist has released twelve albums, being one of the few 80's singers to encompass a career through the difficult 90's. I call them difficult, because they honestly were for a lot of 80's artists who just couldn't find a way to stay relevant in the grunge and despair era of music.

As I began to dig deeper into the singer, I thought I would start with his 1985 album, Dream Into Action. If it offered nothing else, I would still at least walk away with two of the three songs from him I knew - Things Can Only Get Better and No One Is To Blame.

It's not an awful album. I didn't find myself saying, "Wow, this song is terrible," or wanting to skip any. However, at the same time, I didn't hear anything that necessarily blew me away beyond the hits. Automatron may have come the closest in this regard. I ended up adding it to my 80's shuffle, and I'll have to see after a few more listening sessions if it will stay.

The verdict is also still out on the song Hunger For The Flesh. It was a track that intrigued me as I listened to it because it sounded really deep lyrically, and grabbed me here and there in the actual music. However, I don't know where it sits with me overall. I think in general I need to listen to this album again.

It was interesting to find the version of No One Is To Blame was released on this album with a three minute twenty-eight seconds running time, and then again on his 1986 follow up album, One To One, in a single version with a running time of four minutes thirteen seconds. It's kind of a red flag for his latter album to have to rely on his prior hit to sell copies.

Overall, Dream Into Action has a very 80's synthpop sound, and that may be what kept me intrigued to keep listening from start to finish. At the end of the day though, I'm not a fan. I'll eventually make my way into his 1989 album, Cross That Line, for the track, Everlasting Love, but I'm not chomping at the bit to get there in a hurry.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Hi-C Ecto Cooler (The Coca-Cola Company)

 

Hi-C Ecto Cooler
The Coca-Cola Company
1989 - 2001

It's the juice that defined a generation. It was based on one of the most highly anticipated sequels of all time, and went on to remain on store shelves long after the highly popular cartoon series based on that movie, and if you believe it or not, I've never so much as sipped one.

The movie, Ghostbusters II, the cartoon, The Real Ghostbusters, and the drink I somehow missed out on my entire childhood and young teen years, Hi-C's Ecto Cooler.

Ecto Cooler made its debut in 1989, and was a repurpose of their already existing flavor, Citrus Cooler, which I also have never had.

1986 - 1995 Juice Box

1986 - 1995 Family Size Can

1986 - 1995 Family Size Jug

Don't let the delicious green juice in the container above fool you. If you found one of these today, chances are high that it would have turned a disgusting black / purple color. Definitely recommended that you not drink one if you find it.

The drink was so popular among juice enthusiasts, that even when the cartoon series ended in 1991, sales justified it remaining on the market. It got an updated package for the 1996 release, and this one is rather difficult to find these days.

1996 Juice Box

A fun fact about the drink is that IDW gave it a parodying nod in its 2011 Ghostbusters comic book series under the guise of Slime-C. It's shown as both ads in the panels of pages, as well as a drink. Even Ecto Cooler itself has made an appearance in the various IDW Ghostbusters titles.

1996 Family Size Can

Slimer was removed from the package in 1997, and the name was changed to Shoutin' Orange Tangergreen until the drink was discontinued in 2001. After a brief hiatus, the flavor returned in 2006 in the form of Crazy Citrus Cooler, but disappeared again after just one year. These two variations of flavors are difficult to find (from a collector's perspective).

1997 - 2001 Shoutin' Orange Tangergreen (left)
and 2006 Crazy Citrus Cooler (right) Juice Boxes

It wouldn't be until 2016, with the upcoming new Ghostbusters film, that Ecto Cooler would make a brief marketing campaign comeback. The Coca-Cola Company never intended on keeping the drink on store shelves long term, and this was obvious by how quickly it sold out in stores, never to be replenished.

2016 Juice Box

2016 Pop-Top Can

As an homage to the drink, FYE released an exclusive Ecto Thirst Quencher Tropical Soda. The bottle features Slimer on the label. However, at a whopping $3.99 per bottle, I imagine this isn't something people are picking up by the case load to drink.

FYE Exclusive Ecto Thirst Quencher Tropical Soda

For those of you itching to get your Ecto Cooler fix, and others like me, who want to see what all the fuss is about, Ghostbusters News posted a video in 2021 where they shared their own mock recipe for the drink, but don't appear to be the original makers of the faux drink. The recipe is below, and their video is, "HERE".

1 1/2 Cup Orange Juice (no pulp)
1 1/2 Cup Tangerine Juice (or Orange / Tangerine Juice
2 Tablespoons Tang Powder
1 Tablespoon Powdered Lemonade (such as Country Time)
1 1/2 Cup Sugar
4 Cups Water
4 Drops of Blue Food Coloring 

Why not get the fixings and make you up a batch for Halloween?

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

This Bag Is Blowing My Mind


Man, check out this artwork on this bag of wafers. It's totally blowing my mind.


Am I the only one who sees a dinosaur trapped in some pool of goo with a bunch of boulders falling all around it, and a plant based helicopter hovering overhead? It's like The Flintstones on this bag!

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Come To The Cool House This Halloween

 

You know what's up.


Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Retro Spins: Thin Lizzy - Thin Lizzy

 

For as much as I despise live shows, that is exactly how I was introduced to Thin Lizzy. With their album, Live And Dangerous. I didn't expect it to pack the punch that it did, but wow, was I floored. I immediately tracked down their album, Jailbreak, and from there expanded into more. 

Phil Lynott and Brian Downey met while in school in Dublin, and were already performing in the group, Orphanage when they were approached by Eric Wrixon and Eric Bell to form a band in 1969. Unfortunately, for Wrixon, who was a minor, his parents would not sign any recording contracts on his behalf. He was therefore dropped from the band.

The remaining trio began to attract immediate attention in the Irish press, and announced in February of 1970 they would be called, Thin Lizzy. By the end of this year they would sign with Decca to record and release their first album.

Despite airplay support by local DJ's, the album failed to chart. This was followed up by the groups unsuccessful EP, New Day. Despite this, Decca agreed to finance and release their second studio album, 1972's Shades Of A Blue Orphanage. Once again, the album failed to chart.

Continued failure followed with their third album, 1973's Vagabonds Of The Western World, which again, despite DJ support, failed to chart. Due to increasing ill-health and disillusion with the music industry, Eric Bell left the band shortly thereafter.

Lynott would expand the group to add two guitars, leading to Scott Gorham and Brian Robertson joining the lineup for their 1974 album, Nightlife. This "classic" lineup would remain in place for the next four studio albums, Fighting (1975), Jailbreak (1976), Johnny The Fox (also 1976), and Bad Reputation (1977).

Depending on who you ask, you're get a different response as to why Brian Robertson left the group after Bad Reputation. The commonly agreed to tale is that he was unable to deal with the success brought with the album, Jailbreak, and as such, became a heavy drinker. After an accident, which resulted in a broken hand, and his inability to tour, Lynott replaced him with Gary Moore. Moore would make his debut with the band during a tour with rock legends, Queen, and even record for 1979's Black Rose: A Rock Legend. However, he ultimately declined to be part of the group permanently.

Snowy White would join Lynott, Gorham and Downey for their next albums, Chinatown (1980), and Renegade, the latter which also saw the inclusion of keyboardist, Darren Wharton. However, White would leave after growing frustrated with Lynott's professional schedule, which saw him chasing fame more than music. This wasn't helped by Lynott also pursuing a solo career, which left band members wondering if they were recording for him personally, or a Thin Lizzy album.

John Sykes would join to fulfill guitar duties for Thin Lizzy's last studio album, 1983's Thunder And Lightning.  Though he continued to write, and record music, sadly, Phil Lynott would die in 1985, ending the legacy of the band. Though it was discovered he had an addiction with heroin, which ultimately contributed to his health issues. It was also discovered that he had sepsis, which some state the singer used heroine to cope with the pain of the disease. He passed away from pneumonia and heart failure due to septicemia at the age of thirty-six.

Today we go back to 1971 to dive into the classic self titled debut that failed for Thin Lizzy back in the day, but ultimately became the foundation of which the empire was built. So let's go!

As I fired it up and heard the spoken monologue, I thought to myself, "Self, is this going to be a silly concept album which hasn't aged well because it's just silly?" The response I got was from Lynott's following vocals. A resounding, "No!" I don't know what it is about his voice, but he turns any song into gold. It's just enjoyable, even if the song isn't ultimately memorable.

Were there hits to be found here? No, not by a long shot. However, even the band knew that they only had one success, and that was, The Boys Are Back In Town. Lynott even mocks this himself during a liver performance where he says, "Here is a medley of our hit...This is The Boys Are Back In Town." The point being, I wasn't expecting to hear anything that blew me away. Rather, I just wanted to witness for myself where it all started.

In that aspect, this album is very much so worth listening to. It wasn't good. It wasn't bad. It was just a point in history I wanted to hear, and in that regard, it served its purpose.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Disclaimer: They Toy Box does not endorse or contribute to piracy. Retro Spins posts are intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. None of the music discussed here is available for sale, downloading or distribution.

Retro Spins: Bruce Springsteen - Born In The U.S.A.



With over 30 million copies sold, Born In The U.S.A. is not only Bruce Springsteen's most commercially successful album, but also cited as one of the best albums of all time by critics. The album was also nominated for album of the year at the 1985 Grammy Awards, but ended up losing to Lionel Richie's Can't Slow Down. That's a tough album to compete with.

Though he continued to press values and meaning in his lyrics, Born In The U.S.A. introduced the world to a more mainstream sounding Springsteen. It's a quintessential pop album, while at the same time staying rooted in 60's rock style. A defiant rock 'n roll album, as Roger Scott called it.

The album became the very first one to be produced on compact disc in the USA when CBS and Sony opened their CD manufacturing plant. With an option of cassette, CD and vinyl, it went on to become the best-selling album of 1985. This was most likely helped in part by the massive worldwide tour which Springsteen went on to promote it.

Thirty plus years later, does the album stand up to the test of time? Yes. Yes it does. It's as fantastic to hear today as it was in 1985. It's got raw emotion, solid rock music, and most importantly, it's just good.

It's difficult to turn your nose up at tracks like Born In The U.S.A., Cover Me, I'm On Fire, Glory Days, Dancing In The Dark and My Hometown. They lead the charge, and set the groundwork for high expectations.

Those expectations don't disappoint. The remaining tracks may not have been acknowledge as chart toppers, but they're still fantastic. Downbound Train is probably one of my favorites from the remaining songs. I honestly think you have to want to hate this album to actually do so.

Born In The U.S.A., the album, is definitely one I'm going to keep in frequent rotation in my 80's mixes. It's a fantastic album from start to finish, and definitely belongs in the collection of any 80's fan or audiophile.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Mousegetar (Mattel / Carnival)

 

Mousegetar
Mattel / Carnival
1955 - 1998

Even if they aren't musically inclined themselves, one of the greatest things I think a parent can do is purchase toy instruments for their young children. Even if it doesn't develop into a passion for the real thing, getting exposed to these forms of creative outlets at a young age have nothing but benefits for children.

As a child, I had many plastic instruments before "graduating" to the real things and expanding from there. One such toy was the funtastic Mousegetar from Mattel and Carnival.

The original Mousegetar was built specially for Jimmie Dodd to use on the Mickey Mouse Club show. It was a four-string instrument, which Jimmie called a tenor guitar. It was based on this that Mattel first produced children's toy versions in 1955. Two different versions to be exact; The standard Mousegetar, and Mousegetar Jr. for toddler sized kids.



Not being a child of the fifties, I naturally didn't have the original versions shown above, nor the 1960's version below.


No, it wouldn't be until around 1980 that I would receive the Carnival brand version, originally released around 1978 / 1979. Based on the pictures I've been thumbing through as of late from Christmas's and birthdays of my childhood, it appears that I had the white version, and my brother received the brown one shown just below it.


Though i know I talked in a recent post about receiving the Muppet's Trap Drum Kit from my grandmother, in looking at pictures, it appears that this particular guitar came first in my life. In fact, I also apparently even received a smaller guitar a year before this one. However, in looking through pictures I can't tell what brand it was.


Carnival released quite a few iterations of the Mousegetar, and sadly, despite the numerous ones shown here, it's not all of them. I simply couldn't find the other two version I know of, one being a boxed version of the above guitar I had as a kid, and the other being a boxed version of the one below.


Truth be told, between the Mattel and Carnival brand ones, I don't honestly even know how many different styles have been released. Heck, there's even Canadian versions which are different from all of these USA released versions.


The last releases I know of where these two (above and below), released by Mattel around 1998. What's interesting to note is how both boxes contradict each other. One says it's the original based on the 1955 version, and the other says it's the original based on the 1957 release. Clearly, it's the same guitar, so I'm not too sure what happened here.


Having been released numerous times over the course of multiple decades, it's understandable that this guitar is not only readily available, but also somewhat affordable. Naturally, the older the model gets, the more expensive it gets, but you can still grab one of the latter releases loose for under ten bucks on a good day. Older ones with the box can garner around sixty dollars, but that's still not a terrible price for something released so long ago.


Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Scrub In For Surgery

 

As I was eyeing my collection of G.I. Joe figures, I came across an odd sight...

A handful of Joes seemingly exploded, severing them at the waists. Obviously the bands inside had broken, but more curious was the question it created. Why?

Well, I don't know why. Nor did I want to immediately deal with it. But, with a few minutes this evening, I decided it was best to put everything back together, and put the figures back on the full display they deserved.

Laying out all the patients, I dug into my toolbox for my number eleven bands, needle nose pliers and mini Phillips head screwdriver.

A quick disassembly of one confirms what I expected. Busted o-rings.

A quick loop around the leg hook...

A pull through the waist piece...

And a re-connection to the body...

Then all you need to do is put the screw back...

And bam, your figure is ready to go back into action.

Rinse and repeat, and the gang is back to their formal glory.


Click "
HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Retro Spins: Electric Light Orchestra - The Electric Light Orchestra

 

 Electric Light Orchestra was formed in 1970 by Jeff Lynne, Roy Wood and Bev Bevans, together they created a fusion of orchestration and rock and roll which would become the backbone of their unique sound and style for decades. Though the trio worked together as the group, The Move, by 1971 they had changed names to Electric Light Orchestra, or ELO for short.

Their self title debut was released in December of 1971 in the UK, but would not e released in the USA until early 1972. Additionally, for the US release, the album was given the name, No Answer. The album featured Wood, Lynne, Vevans, Bill Hunt and Steve Woolam, the latter would leave by their 1972 live debut at the Greyhound Pub, and further musicians, Andy Craig, Mike Edwards, Hugh McDowell and Richard Tandy were added. However, this lineup would soon dissolve soon thereafter.

First Craig departed, and then Wood, during the recordings for the band's second album. Taking Hunt and McDowell with him, Wood left the band to form Wizzard. Both members sited their manager, Don Arden, as the problem. Stating he failed in his role. Which is odd, because Arden would manage Wizzard.

Jeff Lynne would emerge as the new leader of ELO, and with Bevans, would create a new lineup featuring Richard Tandy, Mike de Albuquerque, Mike Edwards, Wilf Gibson, and Colin Walker to record their second album, ELO 2. Released in 1973, the album once again failed to cause any major impact.

Lynne and Bevans would release their third album, On The Third Day, also in 1973. However, another lineup change would occur for this recording. Though Wilf Gibson would play on a few tracks for the album, he was replaced by Mik Kaminski. Colin Walker would go on to join the Royal Opera House, and be replaced by Ted Blight. Members, Tandy, de Albuquerque, and Edwards would remain in place in their respective roles.

1974's Eldorado would become the groups first concept album, and also lead to their first platinum record in the UK, and gold in the USA. In addition to the members who recorded On The Third Day, High McDowell would be added to the lineup, but Mike de Albuquerque, and Mike Edwards would leave the band during the recording session. De Albuquerque cited "domestic reasons" for his departure, while it appears Edwards left to join the movement, sannyasin of Osho.

The album had a bit of a unique aftermath, with filmmaker Kenneth Anger re-releasing his 1954 film Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome in 1978, using Eldorado as the soundtrack. In 2010, Classic Rock Magazine would label it one of the fifty albums that shaped progressive rock, and Rolling Stone would rank it as one of the greatest prog rock albums of all time in 2015 (coming in at number forty-three).

Face The Music, released in 1975, was my personal introduction to the band. Though this wouldn't come until the New Millennium. With the departure of both Mike's, as noted above, Kelly Groucutt, and Melvyn Gale would join Lynne, Bevans, Tandy, Kaminski and McDowell for the recording. While it's among my favorites from ELO, it only went gold in both the UK and USA. This lineup would remain in place, becoming the "classic lineup" for subsequent) albums, A New World Record (1976), and Out Of The Blue (1977).

By 1979, a major change took place within the group when their string trio was removed from the band. While 1979's Discovery would become their first number one album in the UK, it brought with it a very condensed sound, with Lynne on vocals and guitars, Bevans on percussion, Tandy on keyboards and piano, and Groucutt on bass.

Since A New World Record, the band was consistently selling platinum albums, and this trend would continue with Discovery, and their biggest hit to come, 1980's soundtrack for the movie Xanadu, starring Olivia Newton-John. Though the first side of the album is credited to John Farrar, who penned the hits Magic and Suddenly, all of side two is credited to Jeff Lynne, and personally speaking is the better half of the album. Despite the movie itself having mixed reviews, the soundtrack has been so well received, that Newton-John still incorporates songs from it in her live shows, and greatest hits albums.

Lynne, Bevans, Tandy and Groucutt would press forward with 1981's Time, and 1983's Secret Message. However, with each forthcoming release, sales would dip lower and lower. Groucutt would leave the band during the recording session for their 1983 album, citing unhappiness with his royalty payments, and the group would release their final album for over a decade as a trio, Balance Of Power in 1986.

Bev Bevans would form ELO 2, and release three albums under the new name between 1991 and 1999. However, by this point, most of the world had moved on from their scene, and sales were not noteworthy. The group disbanded in 2000, when Bevans sold his rights to the name ELO to co-founder Lynn

Though Lynne contributed to other projects throughout his entire career, such as the songs for the soundtrack, Electric Dreams, he wouldn't release his first solo work until 1990's Armchair Theatre, and its follow up, 2012's Long Wave. Though it seemed without the ELO banner, few took notice of these efforts.

With a bevy of guest musicians, Jeff Lynne would front a new Electric Light Orchestra album in 2001 entitled, Zoom. Despite the likes of Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Marc Mann, and even former member Richard Tandy, the album was ultimately skipped in mainstream music. Sales were so poor that a planned North America tour was cancelled.

Lynne would try again with 2015's Alone In The Universe and 2019's From Out Of Nowhere, this time as Jeff Lynne's ELO. Sales were much better this time around, with the 2015 album going platinum in the UK, and the second going silver. Though he has not announced any formal retirement, currently, there is no word on whether or not ELO will continue on into the future.

Though I've heard my fair share of Electric Light Orchestra songs over the years, I've never really sat down and listend to any album front to back, with exception of Face The Music. So today, I'm going back to their first release to start from the beginning.

 As I listened to the debut album of ELO, several words left my mouth throughout it. Those included, "This is awful," I really hate this," "What is this garbage," and "Is this over yet?" Songs that ran three minutes felt like they were droning on for eternity, making the longer six minute ones all the worse. If this were my first exposure to Jeff Lynne and his group, I would have never bothered to come back again. 

It wasn't until song five that something reminiscent of an ELO album started to form with the track 1st Movement, and the following thereafter, Mr. Radio. While these songs at least brought me out of my funk of hearing the album, it was just too little too late. Even then, it was far from what I would label as their best.

Bottom line, I didn't like this album. As I said above, if this were the first album I heard from them, it definitely would have been the last. It stunk. Though I plan to hear more from them, I think I'm going to go ahead and jump to Eldorado, and work my way forward through their 1986 album. That may be a better launching point. At least, I hope it is.

If I had to pull songs from this album that were "good", 1st Movement and Mr. Radio were definitely the stand outs, but not to the point that it made their debut worth listening to. I know that ELO can make good music. I've heard it. So it's not like I'm counting them out. They have a lot of songs I like. It's just a shame that their debut didn't feature any of them.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Disclaimer: They Toy Box does not endorse or contribute to piracy. Retro Spins posts are intended for educational and entertainment purposes only. None of the music discussed here is available for sale, downloading or distribution.

Retro Spins: Information Society - Information Society



I remember the disputes around the school yard. There were those who believed the voice in What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy) was that of Spock from Star Trek, and those who said, "No way. Not true." Well, let's first start by clearing up that schoolyard scrap. It is Spock, AKA Leonard Nimoy from the Star Trek episode Errand of Mercy. The track also features a sample of DeForest Kelley, AKA Bones from the episode I, Mudd. Nimoy delivers the chorus line, "Pure Energy", while Kelly's voice is the intro to the track, "It's worked so far, but we're not out yet." As they say in Tridimensional Chess, "SuDtaH chaH, HIjmeH, qul naQmey!" - Thanks, English to Klingon translator!

The self titled Information Society album from 1988 was the band's debut, and with it delivered a heavy dance driven, and almost techno style, sound. It's full of bass thumping, drum track jumping beats, as well as a lot of sampling of spoken dialog from various sources.

Additionally, the album remains one of the very few in music history to be released in CD+G format. The downside to this is it renders it relatively unplayable on a standard computer disc drive. When played back in both Windows Media Player and VLC, it was sputtering and skipping horrendously. Fortunately, it ripped flawlessly to iTunes.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the format, CD+G is a music disc which not only provides the music from the album, but also low resolution graphics along with the music which are often times are attributed and used with karaoke displays to show lyrics on the screen. Because I don't have a CD+G player, I wasn't able to see any of this on my own disc. However, thanks to the day and age of Youtube, you can see it for yourself courtesy of of a quick search of "Information Society CD+G". At least you could at the time of this writing. The disc contains not only the lyrics at the bottom, but also a ton of information on the band. It's kind of entertaining.

As for the album itself, well, that's a different story. It's okay, but it doesn't deliver much. It's a shame too because What's On Your Mind (Pure Energy), the album's opening track, really sets a high expectation.

I won't call it a total loss, because I'm sure to many fans of dance music it's probably a well deserved top ten in their music catalog. If I was looking at this album from that perspective, you know, just looking for dance-able beats, I'd probably be more so apt to enjoy it more. However, for me, I'm just looking for something along the lines of radio friendly, top forty type material.

I respect the album for what it is, but it's really just not for me. As I've said before, if nothing else, I'm at least broadening my horizons by giving "new" stuff a chance. I've been pleasantly surprised in the past, and I'm sure I will be again in the future.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

A Ditty

 




Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Spider-Man Little Hot Cycle (Empire)

 

Spider-Man Little Hot Cycle
Empire
1978

Back in my day, we kept our hair long, and we rode the mean streets hard.

And we did it in style.

We didn't have time for "the man" giving us the shake up. We kept it real before keeping it real was a thing. We were cool, calm, yet mysterious all in one. Men wanted to be us, and women wanted to be with us.

My hog of choice was the 1978 Spider-Man Little Hot Cycle from Empire. It got me anywhere I wanted to go with under a gallon of milk in my tank. I went everywhere the hallways would take me, stopping just long enough to let the girls snap a photo.  No woman could tame this wild man.

Sure I had toys back home, but for me, my first love would always be that glistening giant red and yellow wheel. It purred to me as it scratched and rattled under my body. It was as if we were one.

I'll never forget that fateful day when that rock split that tire wide open from stem to stern. It was as if my own heart had been ripped in two. Things were never the same for me after that.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.

Homemade London Broil With Macaroni And Cheese

 

London Broil is a cut of meat my mom used to make for us growing up, and would always serve it as a husk of well done leather. See, my mom doesn't like anything less than well done, and as such, she didn't make anything that wasn't. This resulted in a lot of dried out meal, that quite honestly, didn't taste good. It's because of this that I grew up hating London Broil.

After talking to my girl, she convinced me, that if done right, London Broil can be a tasty cut of meat. While I wasn't convinced right away, during one of my many trips to the grocery store, I picked one up. Which leads me to today's recipe sharing.

London Broil was a popular meat during the 40's and 50's because it was a cheaper, yet sufficiently sized cut to serve a family. However, even back then, it was notoriously known as a tough slab, and as such, people had to find ways to make it more tender. This often led to the use of vinegar, lemon or lime based marinades, as well as cooking it to rare / medium rare temperatures. Often, it was served with some form of gravy to add additional moisture.

With this in mind, I started with making a marinade which would not only aid in the tenderizing, but also add a lot of flavor.

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard
3 Tablespoons Worcestershire Sauce
3 Tablespoons A1 Steak Sauce
1/8 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/8 Cup Lemon Juice
1 Teaspoon Salt
2 Teaspoons Pepper
3 Tablespoons Fresh Horseradish

Mix all that up, and add your piece of meat to the party. Thoroughly coat both sides, and put it in the fridge. You want this to marinate for at least twenty-four hours uncovered, flipping it over and spooning the marinade on top half way through. You want to take it out of the fridge one hour before cooking, and place it on a wire rack  to allow it to drip and dry a little, as well as come to room temperature. Below is what mine looked like after the marinate process.

During this final hour, I'm starting my two sides; mac and cheese and some baked beans. The baked beans are going to go in the oven first, but they really aren't anything special.

I'm simply throwing a can of baked beans, drained Northern beans, and a few tablespoons of brown sugar together, and baking this at 350 for an hour. I'm starting these first, because they'll take the longest too cook.They'll eventually have the mac and cheese joining them in the oven.

Pro-Tip - My mom would layer her baked beans with raw bacon, which you certainly can do. You can also add barbecue sauce, pepper, etc. Whatever you like to flavor your beans. It's all good. The point being, put it in a casserole dish, and start baking.

Then I'm off to my mac and cheese.

Ingredients

12 to 16 Ounces of Uncooked Pasta
6 Tablespoons Butter
6 Tablespoons Flour
4 Cups Heavy Whipping Cream (2 one pint containers)
2 Teaspoons Pepper
1 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne
6 Cups Shredded Colby Jack Cheese
1/2 Cup Unseasoned Panko Crumbs
Olive Oil

Get a pot of water boiling, and add your noodles to it. Now the key here is that you don't want them to be completely cooked.

I'm using shells that take thirteen minutes for al dente, and fifteen minutes to be soft. I want neither of those. Instead, I'm cooking these for twelve minutes, straining them, and immediately drizzling olive oil on them.

Stir the noodles up, and periodically stir them to ensure they don't stick together.

It's roux time. Melt your butter 

Add your flour, and whisk it around until it's nutty brown.

Add your cream, and keep whisking.

Bring it to a simmer,and add your salt, pepper and cayenne.

Keep whisking until you start to see steam rising. You want the cream to be just hot enough to melt cheese, but not to boil, as this will get too thick if it does.

Speaking of cheese, pour your noodles into a casserole dish, and sprinkle it with one cup of your cheese.

Reserving one cup more of your cheese, put the remaining into your cream mix, doing so a handful at a time to allow it to melt as you continue to whisk.

You want a smooth and velvety texture that falls off your whisk when held over the pot.

Pour this over your noodles.

Give it a gentle stir, then top with the remaining cheese.

Then sprinkle this evenly with your panko crumbs.

Pop this into your 350 degree oven, and bake for thirty minutes.

While this is cooking, take your marinade from your meat, and transfer it to a pot. Add a tablespoon of thyme and a tablespoon of corn starch.


Whisk this this together until fully disolved, and simply set the pot aside.

After one hour of cooking the beans, and thirty minutes for the mac and cheese, remove them from the oven, and turn the heat up to broil. Depending on the temp you're going for, and the size of your meat will determine this. I'm cooking mine for six minutes on each side.

Meat thermometers work well for checking temps, but I don't personally like these. They leave holes in food, which are escape paths for juices. Instead, I simply press on my meat with my finger to see if it is the desired temp I want it. This takes some practice, but I highly recommend anyone cooking meats learn this.

Simply explained, on the same hand, touch the tip of your pointer finger to your thumb tip, like you're making the"okay" symbol. Then gently touch the section of your palm just where your thumb connects. It feels "mushy". This is rare meat. Now touch the tip of your pinky to the tip of your thumb. Feel how much stiffer this next area is? That's well done. Same concept with your other fingers, with the middle finger and thumb being medium rare, and the ring finger and thumb being medium well.

While it's in the oven for the initial six minutes, I'm bringing my marinade to a boil, and adding 1/2 a cup of Marsala wine. Just as it starts to thicken, I need to do something about this being highly acidic. For this, I'm adding five teaspoons of sugar, but you're going to want to do this to you taste liking. I'm not looking for sweet. I'm just looking to cut the acid.

Then I'm transferring this to a serving dish.

For the last six minutes of the meat, I'm flipping it over, and putting the mac and cheese in with it.


Looking for that mac and cheese to come out golden brown and delicious.

As for the meat, let it sit on a cutting board, tented with foil for ten minutes to redistribute the juices. Slicing this in half, you can see it's a nice rare temp.


Serve it all up, and watch the faces be happy.

You know what's up next. Get you some, and get to digging in!

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below.