Category: Music

“Plane Nuts” (1933) starring Moe Howard, Larry Fine & Curly Howard / Z-View

Plane Nuts (1933)

Director:  Jack Cummings

Screenplay: Ted Healy, Matty Brooks, Moe Howard

Stars: Larry Fine, Moe Howard, Ted Healy, Curly Howard.

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Ted Healy and His Stooges perform vaudeville routines with MGM dancers performing between acts.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

The Three Stooges before they became famous as The Three Stooges.  For die-hard Stooges fans only.

Plane Nuts (1933) rates 2 of 5 stars.

RIP: Eric Carmen

Eric Carmen’s wife announced that he had died over the weekend.  No specific date or cause of death was given.  Eric Carmen was 74.

Eric Carmen taught himself guitar, but was a classically trained pianist.  Mr. Carmen first fame came as lead singer of The Raspberries.  Eric Carmen was also the writer or co-writer of the groups hit songs such as Go All the Way and I Want to Be With You.

Eric Carmen left The Raspberries to pursue a solo career.  His biggest hits were All By Myself and Never Gonna Fall in Love Again from his first solo album.  Mr. Carmen would go on to write, sing, perform and produce for himself and others for the remainder of his career.  Eric Carmen produced the mega hit Hungry Eyes from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack.

Eric Carmen’s hits, both with The Raspberries and solo, were a big part of my childhood.  I still find myself smiling (and singing along) when I hear them.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Eric Carmen’s family, friends and fans.

“Legend of Lead Belly” (2013) / Z-View

Legend of Lead Belly (2013)

Director:  Alan Ravenscroft

Stars: Huddie Ledbetter (aka Lead Belly), Bob Dylan

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

Huddie Ledbetter aka Lead Belly, despite being born in poverty, growing up in a time of extreme racism, and serving several jail/prison terms, became an accomplished musician whose influence spanned music genres and generations.  Although crowned the “King of the Twelve-String Guitar”, Lead Belly was an accomplished musician who could also play piano, mandolin, harmonica and violin.  His songs have been covered by Frank Sinatra to Nirvana.  His influence in music is still felt 75 years after his death.  Legend of Lead Belly provides an excellent overview of his life.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

Lead Belly was serving time for murder.  He wrote and recorded a song asking for clemency from the Governor… and received it!

It’s interesting that late in life, Lead Belly wanted to play a movie singing cowboy.  Unfortunately he never achieved that goal.

If you know the name Lead Belly, but don’t know much about him, Legend of Lead Belly is a great starting point.

Legend of Lead Belly (2013) rates 4 of 5 stars.

“The Greatest Night in Pop” (2024) / Z-View

The Greatest Night in Pop (2024)

Director:  Bao Nguyen

Stars: Lionel Richie, Harry Belafonte, Quincy Jones, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Kenny Loggins, Huey Lewis, Smokey Robinson, Dionne Warwick, Sheila E.,  Kenny Rogers, Dan Aykroyd, Christie Brinkley, Lindsey Buckingham, David Byrne, Kim Carnes, Ray Charles, Bob Dylan, Bob Geldof, Daryl Hall, James Ingram, Jackie Jackson, La Toya Jackson, Marlon Jackson, Michael Jackson, Randy Jackson, Tito Jackson, Al Jarreau, Billy Joel, Madonna, Bette Midler, Willie Nelson, John Oates, Jeffrey Osborne, Steve Perry, Anita Pointer, June Pointer, Ruth Pointer, Prince, Diana Ross, Paul Simon, Tina Turner, Stevie Wonder and Waylon Jennings

Tagline: None.

The Plot…

The Greatest Night in Pop chronicles everything from the birth of the idea to the night that dozens of the greatest recording stars in the world came together for a single session to create We Are the World.  The record went on to raise millions for African famine relief.  To this day, the song continues to raise money for the charity.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)…

It’s amazing that dozens of the biggest singing stars of the era could be brought together for one recording session.  Egos had to be left at the door.  Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones were able to keep the process moving.

At one point Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles both walked to the restroom together.  One of the stars remarked, “That’s truly the blind leading the blind.”

Paul Simon said that if a bomb was dropped on the studio, John Denver would be back on top.

It’s surprising that Madonna wasn’t included.  She was a huge star at the time.  Dan Aykroyd gets to be on the record, but not Madonna?

At one point Stevie Wonder wanted to include some lyrics Swahili.  Quincy Jones and others tried to see if they could make it work.  Waylon Jennings got frustrated with the attempts and left the recording.  Someone ultimately pointed out that Swahili wasn’t the language of the famine area.  The idea was dropped.

Having stars who are star-struck by being in the same room with their idols is fun.  Bob Dylan and others weren’t sure how to sing their solos. Things like that humanized them.  Hats off for having the soloists get parts that made the singers instantly identifiable.

The Greatest Night in Pop (2024) rates 5 of 5 stars.

“We Are the World” – Behind the Scenes Trivia!

Kenneth Partridge at Mental Floss posted The Greatest Night in Pop: 10 Facts About the Making of “We Are the World”. It takes you behind the scenes of who wanted in, who was not invited, and more.  It’s well worth a read.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorite facts and my thoughts on each.

Prince was notably absent from the proceedings.  (According to Partridge, “His (Prince’s) absence likely had something to do with his rivalry with Michael Jackson.”  It’s unfortunate that Prince didn’t participate.  It would have been the icing on the cake. – Craig)

Madonna was also missing—though not by choice. (According to Partridge the organizers didn’t think she could sing.  Madonna apparently carried a grudge of not being invited.  She “opted not to join the ‘We Are the World’ finale” at Live Aide. – Craig)

Not everyone liked “We Are the World.”  (And we’re talking about those who performed on the recording! Billy Joel was quoted as saying, “I don’t think anybody liked it… There was a lot of side-eye.”  Cyndi Lauper thought the song sounded like a Pepsi commercial.  Hopefully opinions changed when they saw the good the proceeds did. – Craig)

“The Greatest Night in Pop: The Untold Story Behind ‘We Are the World'” – The Poster and Trailer are Here!

This looks like a winner.

Deal me in.

Premiering January 29th, the untold story of how the global hit “We are the World” almost didn’t happen! 46 of the biggest pop music stars had only one night to turn chaos into magic. As told by stars who were there, this film reveals the rollercoaster ride to write and record the groundbreaking song that would go on to raise millions for famine relief in Africa, win 2 Grammys and become a global sensation.

RIP: David Soul

David Soul died yesterday.  Mr. Soul was 80.]

David Soul began performing as a founding member of the Firehouse Theater in Minneapolis.  In 1967, Mr, Soul had guest appearances on Flipper, I Dream of Jeannie and Star Trek.  In 1968, he landed a co-starring role on the series Here Come the Brides.  When the series ended, David Soul continued to act in movies and television roles.  In 1975, David Soul became a household name with his co-starring role in the hit series Starsky and Hutch.  His popularity allowed him to return to his love of singing (in addition to acting).  David Soul’s release of “Don’t Give Up on Us” hit number 1 in the US.  He also had 5 singles in the top twenty in the UK.  During his hiatus from filming Starsky and Hutch and after the series ended, David Soul would perform concerts in the US and around the world.

For the rest of his career, David Soul would perform as a singer, actor and director.

Some of David Soul’s television appearances include: Flipper; I Dream of Jeannie; Star Trek; Here Come the Brides (52 episodes); The Young Rebels; Dan August; Ironside; All in the Family; The FBI; The Streets of San Francisco; Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law (7 episodes); Cannon (2 episodes); The Rookies; McMillan & Wife; Medical Center; Gunsmoke; Starsky and Hutch (92 episodes); Salem’s Lot; The Manions of America (3 episodes); World War III (2 episodes); Casablanca (5 episodes); The Yellow Rose (22 episodes); The Key to Rebecca; Crime Story; Secret of Sahara (4 episodes); Unsub (8 episodes); The Young Riders (2 episodes); Jake and the Fatman (2 episodes); Murder She Wrote (2 episodes) and Sandra the Rebel Princess (7 episodes);

Some of David Soul’s feature film appearances include: Johnny Got His Gun; Magnum Force and Appointment with Death.

I first remember seeing David Soul in Here Come the Brides.  However, I may have seen him first in Flipper,  I Dream of Jeannie or Star Trek since I regularly watched these shows as a kid.  When I was in high school Starsky & Hutch premiered and it was must-see tv.  I’m also a fan of David Soul in Salem’s Lot.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to David Soul’s family, friends and fans.

RIP: Tom Smothers

Tom Smothers, born Thomas Bolyn Smothers III, died yesterday from cancer.  Mr. Smothers was 86.

In high school Tom Smothers was a state champion gymnast in the parallel bars.  While attending San José State University, Mr. Smothers competed in gymnastics and the pole vault with the track and field team.

Tom and his younger brother, Dick, wanted to be folk musicians.  Tom thought that while he wasn’t good enough to be a professional musician, he was funny enough to be a comedian.  So the two began adding comedy bits to their performances.  Their act caught on.  CBS gave them their first television show, The Smothers Brothers Show.  It lasted one season.

Tom Smothers negotiated creative control for their next CBS series, The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.  By this point Tom had become politically active.  He and Dick began to push the limits with references to recreational drugs, sex, religion and the Viet Nam war.  The show’s war with the CBS censors generated a lot of publicity and the show ended up being cancelled.

Tom Smothers continued to appear with his brother for live performances.  Tom Smothers also continued to be a political activist.  He attended the famous Monterey Pop Festival where he introduced several of the acts.  He became friends with John Lennon and actually played acoustic guitar on Lennon’s “Give Peace a Chance” record.

For the rest of his career Tom Smothers performed live, on television, feature films and commercials.

Some of Tom Smothers’ television appearances include: The Danny Thomas Show; Burke’s Law; My Brother the Angel (32 episodes); The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (73 episodes); Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In (3 episodes); Love American Style; Fitz & Bones (4 episodes); Fantasy Island; The Love Boat (2 episodes); The Smothers Brothers Show (13 episodes); Hotel; Tales of the Unexpected (2 episodes); Dream On; Suddenly Susan (3 episodes); Norm (2 episodes) and The Simpsons.

Some of Tom Smothers’ feature film appearances include: Get to Know Your Rabbit; Silver Bears and Serial.

I was a kid when The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour was getting all of the heat over trouble with the censors.  It just made me want to watch it more.  I always enjoyed seeing Tom and Dick Smothers perform.  They never failed to give me  smile.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Tom Smothers’ family, friends and fans.

RIP: Jean Knight

Jean Knight, born Jean Caliste, November 22, 2023, of natural causes.  Ms. Knight was 80.

Jean Caliste began singing professionally after she graduated high school.  In 1965, Ms. Caliste was signed to Jet Star/Tribe records.  At that point she changed her professional name to Jean Knight.  With Jet Star./Tribe she released four singles.  Although she attracted local attention, the records never took off nationally.  Jean Knight began working as a baker to make ends meet.

In 1970, songwriter Ralph Williams and record producer Wardell Quezergue heard some of Jean Knight’s songs.  They brought her in to Malaco Studios for a recording session where she recorded Mr. Big Stuff.  The song was shopped to several record companies.  It was rejected by everyone.  Then in 1971, King Floyd’s hit Groove Me went to #1 on the R&B charts. It was recorded at Malaco Studios.  At that point the producer at Stax records remembered another song recorded at Malaco Studios.  That song was Mr. Big Stuff,

When Mr. Big Stuff was released it shot to the top of the charts.  It went to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts.  It sold over two-million copies and was awarded gold and platinum status.  The song was also nominated for a Grammy award for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female.  Although Ms. Knight never had another major hit, she continued touring for years.

Mr. Big Stuff is one of those songs that everyone knows the words to.  Years after it was popular, I gave my best friend the nickname Big Stuff.  It gradually morphed into Big Time.  He’s sometimes still called that today when friends from our group get together.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Jean Knight’s family, friends and fans.

Dolly Parton Rockstar

I can’t remember the last album I bought.  It was probably a soundtrack,  Albums aren’t as big a thing as they used to be since folks download individual songs.  With that said, I’d like to direct you to Dolly Parton’s Rockstar album.

When Dolly was nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, she politely declined.  Dolly said, she was known as a country/western singer and had never sung rock and roll.  Dolly also said she would change that by doing a rock album.

And in true Dolly Parton style she did.  Take a look at the songs and artists she teamed with…

1. “Rockstar” (with Richie Sambora)
2. “World on Fire”
3. “Every Breath You Take” (featuring Sting)
4. “Open Arms” (featuring Steve Perry)
5. “Magic Man” (Carl Version) (featuring Ann Wilson with special guest Howard Leese)
6. “Long as I Can See the Light” (featuring John Fogerty)
7. “Either Or” (featuring Kid Rock)
8. “I Want You Back” (featuring Steven Tyler with special guest Warren Haynes)
9. “What Has Rock and Roll Ever Done for You” (featuring Stevie Nicks with special guest Waddy Wachtel)
10. “Purple Rain”
11. “Baby, I Love Your Way” (featuring Peter Frampton)
12. “I Hate Myself for Loving You” (featuring Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
13. “Night Moves” (featuring Chris Stapleton)
14. “Wrecking Ball” (featuring Miley Cyrus)
15. “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” (featuring P!nk and Brandi Carlile)
16. “Keep On Loving You” (featuring Kevin Cronin)
17. “Heart of Glass” (featuring Debbie Harry)
18. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (featuring Elton John)
19. “Tried to Rock and Roll Me” (featuring Melissa Etheridge)
20. “Stairway to Heaven” (featuring Lizzo)
21. “We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You”
22. “Bygones” (featuring Rob Halford with special guests Nikki Sixx and John 5)
23. “My Blue Tears” (featuring Simon Le Bon)
24. “What’s Up?” (featuring Linda Perry)
25. “You’re No Good” (featuring Emmylou Harris and Sheryl Crow)
26. “Heartbreaker” (featuring Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo)
27. “Bittersweet” (featuring Michael McDonald)
28. “I Dreamed About Elvis” (featuring Ronnie McDowell with special guest The Jordanaires)
29. “Let It Be” (featuring Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr with special guests Peter Frampton and Mick Fleetwood)
30. “Free Bird” (featuring Lynyrd Skynyrd and Artimus Pyle Band)

Dolly Parton has made Rockstar available on youtube to listen for free.

“That’s the Spirit” (1933) starring Noble Sissle, Cora La Redd, F.E. Miller & Mantan Moreland / Z-View

That’s the Spirit (1933)

Director: Roy Mack

Screenplay by:  Unknown

Starring: Noble Sissle, Mantan Moreland, F. E. Miller, Buster Bailey, Cora La Redd

Tagline:  None.

The Story:

F.E. Miller and Mantan Moreland play two night watchmen assigned to a pawn shop rumored to be haunted.  The rumors are true. As Miller and Moreland look on, small figures come alive and perform.  Ghosts make appearances.  Miller and Moreland are supposed to protect the pawn shop… but who will protect them?

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

That’s the Spirit is a short featuring an all black cast.  It is thought to be Mantan Moreland’s first film appearance. That alone makes it worth a watch.  That’s the Spirit  also features some of the finest musical / dance performers of the day, No wonder one fan said it was “one of the greatest all-black jazz shorts ever made.”

“Around the World” (1943) starring Kay Kyser, Mischa Auer & Joan Davis / Z-View

Around the World (1943)

Director:  Allan Dwan

Screenplay by:  Ralph Spence

Starring: Kay Kyser, Mischa Auer, Joan Davis, Wally Brown, Alan Carney, M.A. Bogue,  Georgia Carroll, Chester Conklin, Barbara Hale and Marcy McGuire.

Tagline: The musical that’s going places – and momma does she move!

The Story:

World War II is underway.  Kay Kyser takes his band on a tour of military bases around the world to entertain our troops with song, comedy and pretty girls.

Thoughts (beware of spoilers)

Kay Kyser and his band were popular on radio, feature films and television.  Kyser combined real musical talent with comedy and wasn’t afraid to let members of his troupe shine.  Around the World is filled with songs interspersed with one liners, sight gags, double talk and musical silliness.  Oh, and there’s a story that runs through the different stops.  It has a surprisingly sad, yet inspirational ending.

The Beatles’ “Now and Then” Short Film Trailer is Here!

I’m excited to hear the new single and looking forward to the short documentary.

Now and Then’s eventful journey to fruition took place over five decades and is the product of conversations and collaborations between the four Beatles that go on to this day. The long mythologised John Lennon demo was first worked on in February 1995 by Paul, George and Ringo as part of The Beatles Anthology project but it remained unfinished, partly because of the impossible technological challenges involved in working with the vocal John had recorded on tape in the 1970s. For years it looked like the song could never be completed. But in 2022 there was a stroke of serendipity. A software system developed by Peter Jackson and his team, used throughout the production of the documentary series Get Back, finally opened the way for the uncoupling of John’s vocal from his piano part.

As a result, the original recording could be brought to life and worked on anew with contributions from all four Beatles. This remarkable story of musical archaeology reflects The Beatles’ endless creative curiosity and shared fascination with technology. It marks the completion of the last recording that John, Paul and George and Ringo will get to make together and celebrates the legacy of the foremost and most influential band in popular music history.