A blog about my favourite movies, music, and TV.

31 January 2009

So, we're a month through 2009 already

I can't believe we're less than an hour away from February 2009! So far the year has been pretty disastrous for the UK's economy, I think my upcoming US trip is going to finally get me banged up in the poor house - damn that exchange rate! But anyway - there have been a few delights in the trashy entertainment world to keep us, well me, entertained.

2009 has quickly established itself as the year La Toya Jackson went mainstream. Not only did the one time Grammy nominee and Greatest Playboy Centrefold of all time show up on Celebrity Big Brother, but she's also appeared on a few shows since and has an autobiography, and a reality show on E! or VH1 in the pipeline! Go Toy Toy! Toy soldiers across the world (all 10 of us) are wet with anticipation over what could be her most successful year ever! Although it has been 6 years since she showed u on Larry King Live at started this comeback, so it's about time!
Lady GaGa has provided the first decent number one the UK has had in years. I first heard her Just Dance in Chicago while I was on holiday and I thought rocked, it was played in between Kylie videos and selections from Hairspray, I was in seventh heaven... A zillion plays later, I could take a break from it, but GaGa's style over substance image is right up my alley. She was great on the Sunday Night Project a few weeks ago - good on her for singing live I say!

My Bloody Valentine 3D showed that while the horror genre may be completely bankrupt of any kind of originality in 2009, going old school really paid off at the box office and hopefully kick started a 3D comeback. I wish the Friday the 13th remake out next month was in 3D, I'd love Jason to come out of the screen and headbutt me with his hockey mask! Now that's what I call entertainment.

LaBelle's brilliant new single, Superlover, will keep me going into February, as will the miserable news and current affairs shows, and a lot of cheap wine (courtesy of the credit crunch). In other good news Dynasty is coming to DVD in the UK very soon - perhaps that will cheer everyone up as they soak up the opulence and fur-tastic delights of Alexis and Krystle all over again....

LaBelle - Superlover (The Remixes)

While LaBelle's first album in thirty years was released last October to the joy of fans everywhere. The lead single, the urban pop jam Roll Out featuring Wyclef Jean, did little to endear the group to pop fans anywhere! To say it stiffed is an understatement, however the album still managed to debut at a respectable #45 on the Billboard Top 200.

Well they're now on the road and have had a minor R&B hit on their hands in the shape of Superlover, the second single from Back To Now. What better way to get the track to gain crossover appeal than a set of stunning club mixes!! These come from Craig C, Mark Picchiotti, Pink Noise, Matthias Hellibron, and Lost Daze who provide an electro mix. The best of the bunch is the fantastic effort Mark Picchiotti who turns the soul slow jam into a storming disco filled house anthem! I absolutely love it. It's got everything from a great beat, some subtle horns, DJ vocal sampley bits, and crucially it uses all of the song! It ticks every box for me and is sure to be a massive hit on the Billboard Dance/Club Play chart.

It's a shame that the album hasn't done better, but the LaBelle ladies and Verve Records seem to be sticking with it and for that I am eternally grateful. US fans can purchase the complete remix single, while the rest of us will have to go to more underhanded lengths to get hold of these. There are a few promos on eBay already.

29 January 2009

Falcon Crest is back on TV

Falcon Crest is now airing daily on Zone Romantica on Sky in the UK! Sadly they don't seem to have the budget to pay for space on Virgin Media. Thank goodness for bootlegs.

Sheena Easton - Do You

Riding high on the success of her Platinum selling album, A Private Heaven, and another Grammy, Sheena Easton quickly recorded a follow up with producer Nile Rogers, in 1985, the result was Do You, a set of funky state of the art dance/pop tracks with a subtle retro vibe that was most prominent on her cover of Martha and the Vandella's hit Jimmy Mack.

The album kicks off with the cool and sophisticated Do It For Love, the lead single, and the first sign of a big decline in Sheena's popularity. Whereas Sheena enjoyed two Top 10 hits from her previous album, this lead single slumped at #29 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the beginning of the end between her and EMI Records.

Don't Break My Heart is quite similar, but perhaps a little more playful. I think this is one of the stronger tracks, and would have made a great single.

Magic of Love is not one of the best tracks here and it was an absolutely terrible choice for a third single. It's a ballad amongst a set of mainly dance orientated pop songs and it just doesn't work. As ever, Sheena's stunning vocals are brilliant and shine through, its delivered with a lot of sincerity and subtlety. It failed to make any impact on the charts.

The excellent Don't Turn Your Back is up next, I love it when Sheena gets very passionate toward the end and starts singing:

"Don't turn your back on me, don't you turn your back on me, don't you turn your back on me!"

I like the bit where she sings about her shiny car and colour TV too! Sheena had it all! This one is a bit more rock oriented than the songs so far.

Jimmy Mack is another really, really strong track, it was the second single. It did even worse than Do It For Love, peaking at #64 on the Hot 100.

Can't Wait Till Tomorrow is pretty great too, a lot of the songs on the album are similar and this one firmly fits in with the dance stylings of the previous tracks. Again, this could so easily have been a single.

The next track, Young Lions, takes awhile to kick in, and when it gets going I think its just brilliant. I'm not sure if US radio was into the retro vibe at this point, but Sheena had it going on! It's so American and so early 80's, it reminds me of some of her earlier stuff, only updated slightly. I really like the lyrics too...

"We're young lions and the call of the wild's in our hungry eyes
These are the times we must fight to keep our dreams alive."

Kisses, is pretty forgettable, but its okay. It just plods along, and has that zxylophone sound that's also featured in Do It For Love. Money Back Guarantee is another dancey one, and has a really nice arrangement. The final track is a mid-tempo ballad written by Dan Hartman, and is a fan favourite, although not one I would particularly rave over, but as with everything Sheena sings it has an air of class that is irresistible.

This is a solid album from a very able vocalist and performer who really deserves more recognition and more success. The only trouble with this set is that some of the material can come off as a tad generic and the tracks are a bit too long. Sheena's voice is deeper and smoother on this record, a conscious decision to appear more mature and sexy! Hearing her voice on groovy 80's dance/pop is a treat, this is a far cry from the likes of Morning Train (9 to 5) and Modern Girl. This album is proper top shelf stuff in terms of production and vocals, which is such a quintessentially 80's trademark in itself, that fans will lap it up.

I think Sheena's image was absolutely amazing at this time too, take a look at this Solid Gold performance of Do It For Love, she looked like a regular on Dynasty. The album eventually went Gold and sold over 500,000 copies, it was re-issued on CD in 2000, but has since been deleted. This was her final album with EMI America. After a soundtrack single, So Far So Good, and a Prince penned ballad, Eternity, her 1987 LP was shelved and Sheena left the label and underwent a transformation from pop princess to R&B diva...

27 January 2009

Debbie Harry - Rockbird

After Blondie finally broke up in 1983, Debbie Harry seemed to be at the bum end of her career. After the flop of her 1981 debut album and her 1982 collaboration with Giorgio Morroder, Rush Rush, it could have been all over for Debbie’s pop career.

However, 1986 would prove to be a great year. The single French Kissin’ In The USA was a major hit in the UK, peaking at #8 – back when that was quite good! The album, Rockbird, really cashed in on the pop appeal of French Kissin’.... It kicks of with I Want You, a shouty, electronic, bubblegum pop ditty with off the wall horns and some seriously silly lyrics. It has quite a 50’s rockabilly feel to it too. It’s totally throwaway, but somehow makes quite an impression and while it’s nothing like the material Blondie recorded, it is a bit punky and wouldn’t sound too odd with the synthesisers removed and the guitars turned up! Buckle Up is pretty similar in style and every bit as good, and You Got Me In Trouble also follows this trend, although is more on the pure pop side. This one has some nice horns and is a bit smoother.
Next up is the second single In Love With Love, while the vocals are just lovely, I like Debbie’s high vocals on this one especially, I think the production on the album version lacks the energy of the remixes, in particular the SAW remix, which was the single version in the UK. This whole album was Debbie at her absolute poppiest and it was a shame she didn’t stick with this kind of thing, as sales were pretty good for the album, over 100,000 copies in the UK alone. This single tanked though, although the Justin Strauss freestyle mix was a US club hit.

Free To Fall is the first ballad, and its absolutely lovely. It’s very emotive and extremely classy. Debbie’s voice is really strong on this album, and nowhere is this more evident than on the ballads. This was the third and final single, and it was big old flop in the UK. It had a great B-side, Feel The Spin, a euro flavoured slice of 80’s disco taken from the soundtrack to the movie Krush Groove.

The title track, Rockbird, is quite intense and makes use of that saxophone again. I’ve never been particularly keen on this one, but it is good, and picks up the frenetic pace of some of the earlier tracks on the album. Secret Life takes things down to a mid-tempo before kicking into a rocky chorus. Some really nice lyrics and pretty vocals on the verses make this one an absolute pleasure to listen to. Beyond The Limit is more of the same.

The horn section of Debbie’s band are really prominent throughout and it gives the whole album a bit of a retro feel. Producer Seth Justman did a really great job on the album and produced a set of glossy pop songs with just enough of an edge of craziness to befit a legend like Debbie. Stephen Sprouse and Andy Warhol did the artwork and soul legend Jocelyn Brown provided some of the background vocals. It’s a fine collection of trashy pop that would be perfect in any collection!

Video - In Love With Love [Remix]
Video - Interview

25 January 2009

Taylor Dayne - Can't Fight Fate, 1989

There's an ad campaign over here at the moment featuring a lot of famous people who've changed their names to promote the change of name of insurance company Norwich Union to Aviva. I can't help but think that the day Leslie Wunderman became Taylor Dayne is in fact a far greater moment in history, or at least it should've been...

Yes, Tat Parade is going all out, well using up a few paragraphs at least, to celeberate the brilliance of 80's pop diva Taylor Dayne who had massive hits in the UK with Tell It To My Heart, and not much else! Despite my homeland treating Taylor like a grotty club singer after her third single I'll Always Love You was brutally ignored, she had a slew of fabulous glossy pop/rock hits in the US from her second album, Can't Fight Fate!

With names like Diane Warren, Arthur Baker, Ric Wake, Eliott Wolf and executive producer Clive Davis all behind it there's no wonder it was a big hit over there, how could it not? While her first album was all but pressed within weeks of her laying down the first vocals, this album had a lot more time and effort put into it, and it was so worth it.

Fantastic dance/pop gems like With Every Beat of My Heart and Up All Night sit perfectly amongst top notch rock/pop anthems like I'll Be Your Shelter, Heart of Stone, You Can't Fight Fate, and Ain't No Good. It even has ballads, including the classic Love Will Lead You Back, and Wait For Me. For me its just a perfect pop album, and Taylor's rough and ready powerhouse vocals raise a good set of tracks up to the level of pop perfection. You can just tell Taylor doesn't have to try either, she just feels this kind of music, and pulls it off with ease and inimitable gusto, something followers like Anastacia could never pull off without sounding strained and slightly unwell...

Although the singles from this album were mostly AOR/pop releases, With Every Beat Of My Heart had a remix by Richie Jones that was pretty popular, there are also some mixes of Up All Night, and I'll Be Your Shelter. But Taylor had moved on from the disposable pop and club sound of her easiler singles in favour of something a bit more mainstream and it paid off. Sales of this album surpassed her debut - passing the 3 million mark in the US alone. With Every Beat Of My Heart, I'll Be Your Shelter, and Love Will Lead You Back were Top 5 hits on the Billboard Hot 100, while Heart Of Stone made a respectable final single peaking at #12 in 1990. None of them even entered the UK Top 40, and the album barely sold a few thousand copies here! A video collection, Twists of Fate, featuring interviews and music videos was released in 1990.

The UK got it so wrong on this one, Taylor Dayne should've been a huge star. Almost three years passed between Can't Fight Fate and its follow up Soul Dancing which saw Taylor team up with Shep Pettibone, and then fade into obscurity. No such thing will happen on this blog though, Taylor's latest releases are as important here as any new Kylie album or crappy horror movie.

Her latest singles have been brilliant, especially 2007's I'm Not Featuring You, a collaboration wth DJ Manny Lehman. Unfortunatley her 2008 CD, Satisfied, wasn't really good enough for her, from the bland songs to the over-airbrushed artwork - the voice was there, but the songs just weren't worthy for the most part. The Hex Hector mixes of the lead single, Beautiful, were quite good, but standard fare and after 10 years of waiting, I think she could've tried a bit harder with it. But who cares? When you have gems like Can't Fight Fate and hits like Tell It To My Heart in your catalogue, a boring album is neither here nor there!

Get some retro Taylor mixes inc the rare Up All Night single from Burning The Ground, which is just one of the best blogs you'll find for this kind of music!

24 January 2009

Dollman vs Demonic Toys

The DVD box says it a 'Directors Uncut Version' - I can't imagine a trashier film to receive a directors cut release! This is a sequel to three Full Moon movies - Demonic Toys, Dollman, and Bad Channels, the 'stars' of all three movies - Tracy Scoggins, Tim Thomerson, and Melissa Behr, all reprise their roles. This 72 minute movie is an unashamed cash-in on the 'success' of those crappy movies, and despite some of the reviews I'd read of it, I didn't think it was that bad.

Judith Gray (Scoggins) is still on the trail of the evil demonic toys, and calls on Dollman (Thomerson) and shrunken Nurse Ginger (Behr) to help her prevent them from bringing back the spirit of their demon master.

Most of the toys return, in particular Baby Oopsie Daisy who attempts to impregnate poor Nurse Ginger in the 'climax' of this stellar addition to my collection. The Dollman series continued with further sequels, but it was the end of the line for the Demonic Toys until they was brought back by the Sci-Fi Channel a few years ago.

One interesting special feature on this DVD is a rather interesting special feature - an original making of documentary - The Video Zone. These were staple features of Full Moon videos, and its here in all its glory, featuring interviews with director Charles Band and all the stars, and some of the crew. In it Tracy Scoggins says that she's a big fan of movies like this, and you get to see how they did the effects. These kind of things are run of the mill these days, but in 1993 it must've been quite a novelty. In fact Paramount who distributed these movies refused to even pay for the tape to print the Video Zones on, so they were paid for entirely by Full Moon themselves. Melissa Behr didn't do much acting after this, except for writing, producing, and starring in her own movie Me & Will, which was released in 1999 - which is pretty good, and can be found in pound shops everywhere.

Demonic Toys 2 was filmed back in November and will be released later this year!

22 January 2009

La Toya got evicted!

Poor La Toya got evicted from the Celebrity Big Brother house last night after almost three weeks! She just missed the final which takes place on Friday. I'm in mourning...

21 January 2009

Tyler Collins - Girls Night Out

I know next to nothing about Tyler except that the Full Force remix of this is great, almost as brilliant as the stuff they did with La Toya Jackson. The track is about girls breaking free and having fun!

Girls Night Out - Single Mix, Remix Edit, Full Force House Mix

18 January 2009

Brooke Hogan - About Us (Remix)

I don't think that there's ever been a worse attempt at starting a pop career than Brooke Hogan's jawdroppingly lame effort, in particular her hideous debut single. Easily one of the crappest singles of the last few years. However, somehow Tony Moran & Warren Rigg turned this stinking pile of crap into one of my favourite trashy dance 'hits' of recent times. While searching for a link for it, I came accross her Wikipedia page which said something like "About Us is yet to chart anywhere in the whole world apart from the U.S.". I guess that says it all... Despite the album barely selling 100,000 copies worldwide, she isn't giving up, expect a new album later in the year...

Get the mixes! - Get the Mixshow! My personal favourite is the 'Up In My Bizness Radio Edit' which I'll have to dig out...

Rachel Sweet

Rachel Sweet was 15 when she had her first hit B-A-B-Y which made the Top 40 in the UK, her 'sweet' and powerful country tinged vocals and retro rock songs appealed to critics but didn't make a big impression with record buyers, her debut album Fool Around, flopped. This didn't deter her label, Stiff Records from putting out a follow up in the shape of the wonderful Protect The Innocent. A much better album in my opinion with a brilliantly sinister sleeve, if the public weren't buying her as trashy 'jailbait' country singer, why Stiff thought dressing her up like some sort of teenage child snatcher, would help her catch on, I'll never know! I just love this album, in particular the single Jealous, and Foul Play!

Probably fed up of not making any money out of her undeniable talent Rachel signed with US label CBS for her next album, Then He Kissed Me, and scored another UK hit with a cover Everlasting Love, which showed off her slightly cleaned up image. Another highlight is Shadows of the Night, later a hit for Pat Benatar, Rachel's ever so slightly country tinged version is my favourite, although I am a big fan of Pat's version too. A further popular single was Then He Kissed Me/Be My Baby which combines the two classic 60's songs into one 80's pop gem! She recorded one further album for CBS, Blame It On Love, which included the single Voo Doo, and it did even worse!

When thinking about the music for his upcoming movie, Hairspray, in 1988, director John Waters remembered Rachel and asked her to perform the theme tune. The full version of Rachel's song can be heard at the beginning of the movie and she even made a music video for the MCA Records single. I can't for the life of me think why it didn't get used in the musical, as good as a lot of the songs that were especially written for that, the majority of them aren't anywhere near as good.

Rachel landed her own TV show shortly after, The Sweet Life, which aired on what is now Comedy Central in the US. There are quite a few clips on youtube, and Rachel seemed to have a sense of humour about her flop pop past. She was also seen in the movie Sing alongside Patti LaBelle, which I reviewed awhile ago now...

She also provided the singing voice of Alison in John Waters' Cry Baby in 1990, and can also be seen in the TV version of Gypsy in a small role alongside Bette Midler. I also read somewhere, while digging around for pictures for this post that she also wrote and performed the theme tune to Clarissa Explains It All, I'm not sure whether to take that seriously or not...

Since having her own show Rachel has become more involved behind the scenes as a producer and writer on Dharma and Greg (hey, a girl's got to eat!), for example! She was also the producer behind the ill-fated Legally Blonde: The Series! Crappy TV shows aside, her music rocks, thankfully a lot of it is available and her debut LP was re-issued last year on CD and Download with bonus tracks, I hope Protect The Innocent follows suit in 2009!

Video: B-A-B-Y (1978)

16 January 2009

Trancers, 1985

I found this little gem in a £1.99 DVD bin in Cash Converters, I can only imagine who would've taken this in to get the 25 pence or so they'd pay out for it. Anyway, this movie is great, Tim Thomerson plays a cop from the future who must come to the 20th century to track down an evil cult leader who takes over his victims by 'trancing' them. The beginning of the movie is just brilliant... Trooper Jack Deth (Thomerson) stops by a diner to get a cup of coffee and gets attacked by a geriatric waitress whose been tranced.

While in New York, 1985, Jack teams up with a young Helen Hunt who rides a motorbike and has blue streaks in her hair! She's a 'punk rock chick' according to the sleeve. Pedestrian script aside, this is really well acted and extremely enjoyable, and at only 80 mins it never outstays its welcome. 80's sci-fi b-movies rule, and this is a brilliant cheapie - made for just $400,000.

Thomerson reprised his role in 4 sequels and even has his own action figure! Trancers was directed by Charles Band who later started his own z-grade movie company, Full Moon Entertainment and had direct to video hits like Puppetmaster, Demonic Toys, and Shadowzone (dire!!!!). This one was released in the UK by Vestron and the UK DVD is a reasonable VHS transfer, this one deserves a good quality released sometime soon.

15 January 2009

Fuzzbox - Big Bang!

Fuzzbox started out with a sound as rough as nails (by this blogger’s standards anyway) and a look that encompassed pretty much covered everything from grunge to punk and cool new wave with a few of granny’s old socks and some horrible knitwear thrown in to boot. They were a hot mess, but in a good way. Their first album Bostin’ Steve Austin was released by Vindaloo Records (no, I am not making this up) and caused quite a stir with catchy Indie singles like Rules and Regulations, What’s The Point, and Love Is The Slug becoming popular with pop fans too.

They were snapped up for a US release of their album by Geffen Records, and signed with WEA in the UK soon after, it was that deal that saw them come back in 1989 with a slicker image and sound.

Theirs must rank as one of the best pop makeovers anyway; just compare the picture above with the one bellow! The irresistible Pink Sunshine launched their second album, Big Bang! A polished album that sounded more like Bananarama with louder guitars and more interesting ideas, than the rough and ready pop/punk girl band that had initially brought them to the limelight.

Their album Big Bang made it to #5 in the UK and they had further hits, firstly with the brilliant International Rescue, a song that pays homage to not just Thunderbirds but also Barbarella (see the video). It’s pure pop brilliance! The itself album was very strong, including similarly full on synth-laden pop/rock songs like Fast Forward Futurama, Versatile for Discos and Parties, and the more rocky Self! Which is rumoured to include a guitar solo, not performed by band member Jo, as the video might suggest, but in fact by Queen’s Brian May. Whoever played the solo, it’s a fabulous track, and perhaps my favourite on the whole album, I love the use they made of that ‘whip’ sample too.

The group also explored their softer side on tracks like Jamaican Sunrise and Irish Bride, which are really quite sophisticated and dreamy; the latter is about domestic violence. The group had not only grown up and explored their sound, but they had developed a stronger, sexier image. But back to the music, rumour has it that unlike their debut, the girls didn’t actually play much of this album themselves. This could be true, but on a pop album this really doesn’t matter. The lead singer Vicky has such a compelling voice anyway, I love it! She may not be Celine Dion, but she knows how to use what she’s got, further evidenced by her performances in the videos!
The group pretty much split for good in 1990 when their next single Your Loss Is My Gain flopped, save a late 90’s appearance at Gay Pride in their hometown of Birmingham, the results were not pretty...

A best of Look At The Hits On That! Is available with new remixes and a DVD of their music videos as a bonus. Vicky, now known as Vix, has a solo CD out, entitled LovePower and Peace, which is available from Damage Control Music
Video – What’s The Point (1987)
Video – International Rescue (1989)

14 January 2009

Joyce 'Fenderella' Irby - Maximum Thrust, 1989

This album was mostly produced by Joyce ‘Fenderella’ Irby herself with help from Dallas Austin, and also Bernadette Cooper. Fenderella used to be in Klymaxx who had several pop and club hits in the 80’s. She signed with Motown in 1989 to release this, her first and only solo album to date. It didn’t do very well.

Mr DJ (feat Doug E. Fresh) was the lead single, it’s not bad at all, not that catchy, not compared to her hits with Klymaxx like The Men All Pause, or Meeting In The Ladies Room, for example. This was the albums only hit, making #7 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart.

I’m Available sees Fenderella team up with Bernadette Cooper (ex – Klymaxx) who not only produces this jam, but provides some of her famous talk/singing. I really quite like this one. Its frivolous and fun and its nice to hear anything these two girls do together.

She’s Not My Lover is perhaps my favourite, I love toward the end of the track when the guy gets pissed at all of Fenderella’s questions and comments on what he was doing with another girl, and fesses up! This was the albums second single, and was a great choice.

I Love You is quite nice, its a slow jam slightly reminiscent of Karen White’s Superwoman, mixed with Klymaxx’s 1986 hit I Miss You. Like the rest of the album it has an air of cool that stops it being sickly. Perhaps this could’ve been a potential single. This was also produced by Bernadette Cooper.

Let’s Do It is pretty fun, its a hip-pop rap that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Salt n Pepa album, it seems to sample a bit of Push it and a lot of Vanity 6’s Nasty Girl, which gets my vote! In fact this is so trashy, I love it! Lots of scratches, does go on a bit though... Fenderella keeps the rapping going into the next song, the title track – Maximum Thrust, easily the weakest track so far.

Guardian Angel is reasonable, but pure filler. It’s a mid-tempo, slickly produced number, with not much else going for it. I’ll be There is a cute duet with Anthony Bailey, about whom I know nothing, pure schmaltz!

Go-Go Girl is okay, picks up the beat again, but certainly not memorable. Kind of says it all about this album this album, there are a few good tracks, mainly the two that Bernadette Cooper produced - she was great. I will do a review of her album soon.

The main problem with the album is that it’s a bit self indulgent, there are great ideas, fresh production, fun guest appearances, but the songs go on too long in places and could have done with losing a minute or so. None of the lyrics or hooks are strong enough to warrant five or six minutes. Shortly after her solo career went tits up, she became involved in promoting the city of Atlanta as a centre of urban music as well as developing new acts.

Video - She’s Not My Lover -> http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=q7hbtfvqTQU
Video – Mr DJ -> http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=EqciC2VVRRo

Download - Mr DJ; I'm Available; She's Not My Lover; Let's Do It -> http://www.zippyshare.com/v/51527819/file.html

13 January 2009

Night Of The Demons, 1986

What the hell did I just watch! There is something bewildering about this 1986 favourite. I really don’t know quite where to begin with my review of it. I guess lets take a look at the plot...

A group of teens go and stay at an old house haunted by the spirit of a killer on Halloween night, naturally. When their totally rad’ portable cassette player runs out of batteries, imagine it! They hold a séance and some of the teens become possessed and try to kill the rest. Pretty standard fare, but the performances are just so out there and bad; it was strangely quite compelling, although it really is just utter rubbish. Linnea Quigley is probably the best known of the stars, and she hams it up the most, and provides a whole lot of nudity which might be a reason why this one is quite popular. In one scene she pushes her lipstick into her breast.

I don’t especially rate it, even as a bad movie it doesn’t really do it for me, but it was okay, probably best enjoyed with a few drinks, I liked the scene where one of the girls, Angela (Amelia Kinkade) gets possessed and does a fierce dance with loads of strobe lights!

It was followed by two sequels! Amelia Kinkade is now an animal psychic, and has even had a book published. Linnea Quigley will be in the 2009 remake of Night of the Demons which also stars Shannon Elisabeth.

12 January 2009

Kathie Lee - Heart Of A Woman

Another of my absolute favourite albums, ever, has to be Kathie Lee Gifford’s pop masterpiece, Heart Of A Woman. Perhaps, one of the world’s greatest underappreciated divas, Kathie Lee is best known as the former host of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, a mainstay of US daytime TV from 1985 to 2000, which even aired over here in the UK for awhile. I remember one of my many days spent skiving off school, and while parked in front of the TV one afternoon watching a double bill of Sally Jessy Raphael and Jenny Jones, on came Kathie Lee during the former and performed a stellar rendition of her single Love Never Fails. Kathie joked that she was no Britney Spears when quizzed about her album, maintaining that her soon to be flop album was filled with classy adult pop tunes, mainly for the Mums that watched her show. Well the housewives of the US may have deserted Kathie Lee while stocking up on her tatty leggings and sweaters at Walmart, but I never forgot about her foray into the world of pop.

The album opens with a brilliant track, The Hardest Part, in which Kathie explores the idea of being in a new relationship and saying goodbye once and for all to your old flame, beautifully delivered, and honest to a fault, poor Kathie.

Next up is the title track Heart Of A Woman, a beautiful, heartfelt rejection of the old ‘men are from Mars, women are from Venus’ analogy, Kathie Lee will have none of it.

“The heart of a woman, needs like his, it’s as simple as this,” she explains.

Next up is the fabulous single Love Never Fails, a mid-tempo gem with an almost dancey feel to it. You can tell Kathie Lee believes every word and sings with such bombastic passion at times it’s hard not to just join it!

Reason Enough follows the pattern of the first few tracks – Kathie is obviously pretty loved up and she’s totally into this slice of schmaltz, I just love it. We’re coming up for mid way through and Kathie pulls out all the stops for this version of In This Life, which has also been recorded by Bette Midler and Westlife!

Always Been You is another lovely one, a few beats add a bit of interest, as do the backing singers who help Kathie out on the choruses, in less skilful hands this would be bland filler, but from Kathie’s fair lips this is just sublime, although not the most memorable track on the album by any means.

“What’s happening, inside of me? I’ve never felt this way, baby,” sings Kathie as she opens her next stellar mid-tempo slice of pop perfection, I Don’t Wanna Say Goodbye. Much like the other songs on the album, this is relaxing but not unengaging pop at its best, perhaps a little dreamier and soulful than the tracks that have gone before.

I don’t like Make My Day too much; it’s a bit to saccharine even for this album!

Heartache Heartache sees Kathie Lee don a cowboy hat and a pair of leather chaps to lay the law down to a low down good for nothin’ man that dares to crack on to her, no doubt at some dodgy rodeo or cowgirl bar! Kathie rips him another one in this country classic that sadly never was.
“You’re trouble with a capital ‘T’, you’re nothing but a heartache for me!” Roars Kathie!
This is easily my highlight of this CD, I just love it, I wish I had Kathie’s gutsy chops! She should write one of her ropey musicals based around this song alone, I’d go!

We Don’t Make Love Anymore is so sad; I wonder what inspired this sincere exploration of the concept of a man not fulfilling his husbandly duties? Surely nobody would dare to deny Kathie a bit of action, not after hearing Heartache Heartache, anyway. Girl can throw down!

If Only Then Was Now closes the original tracks on the album, it loyally follows the pattern of much of what has gone before.

An absolute gem rewards all those who stick it out till the end, a Soul Solution remix of The Hardest Part closes the album and its easily the best mix those guys ever did! It would’ve been massive had Universal not pulled the plug after the album absolutely tanked the US, poor Kathie Lee. After years of recording Christian pop and fading ever closer into obscurity Kathie returned to daytime TV to co-host the Today Show in early 2008 to great success. Those with good memories will remember Kathie’s run in with human rights campaigners in 1996 when she was exposed for allegedly exploiting thousands of children in South American sweatshops who were making items for her trashtastic clothing line for Walmart. Kathie should have been forced to send the kiddies this CD as compensation, it’s that good!

11 January 2009

Toyah - Minx

Toyah is best known in the UK for her string of early 80’s hits; most notably It’s A Mystery – a post punk/pop kitsch classic that has become her signature tune. Other hits included I Want To Be Free and Thunder In The Mountains – all Top 5 hits in 1981. Moving forward 4 years, and Toyah had a new label – Portrait/CBS, and had undergone a synth-pop makeover!

The end result was the album Minx, produced by Christopher Neil, best known for his work with Sheena Easton. Minx is one of my all time favourite records; it’s patchy, and horribly dated in the best possible way. My personal favourites are the amazingly over the top opening track – Soldier of Fortune (Terrorist of Love)l; check out some of the lyrics:

“In my dreams there's a sleeping hunger
The instincts of a hunter
We raise our fists as one to the power of the gun!


Are you sinners or saints (Terrorist)
Dripping hate (Of) – [I swear it sounds like ‘whore’]
Are you sinners or saints (Love)

Do you really know?


Soldiers of fortune seal your fate
The tears of ages still cascade
Soldier of fortune's burning flame
To let these lovers dance again!”

These are the kind of lyrics that Toyah fans have known and loved for years, but somehow when they are paired with heavy synth-pop/rock production and those backing vocalists they come across as pure camp rather than cool and edgy! I’m sure those backing vocalists are the same ones from Sheena Easton’s sessions a few years before.

The next song on the album is the amazing Don’t Fall In Love (I Said), the albums only ‘hit’ single, which deserved an awful lot better than the lowly no.23 that it managed. It’s just a catchy pop song with lots of synths and a wonderful video. Toyah’s image was so great at this time, that rubber hooker dress and spikey ‘Neighbours’ hair-do was ahead of its time! The follow-up single Soul Passing Through Soul is up next, not a typical Toyah song in my opinion, very MOR pop, but pretty nice with good strong vocals. Speaking of which, the next track Sympathy, sees Toyah really testing her chops, and she pulls it off in this quite heartbreaking dramatic ballad, I bet it would’ve been great live! Toyah was never known previously for her great singing, so this album really shows a lot of progress in that department, as well as a whole host of new tunes.

Next up is I’ll Serve You Well, which is pretty fab , pretty weird, and very Toyah! Check the Japanese lyrics!

“Watashini Makasete
Watashini Makasete
I'll serve you well, be your western girl
You must do as you please
Pass judgement, I kneel before you
Your pleasure, my punishment
I'll serve you well, I'm only here to please
Dressed to kill, I'll serve you well”

Things then go a bit downhill with Over 21, what can I say about this track? It’s atrocious, far too many backing singers all but drown out poor old Toyah, and the whole early 80’s American pop sound was already dated, it sounds like something you’d expect to find on a Sheena Easton b-side in 1980! A real dud!

I don’t even remember All In A Rage, the next song on the album.

Space Between The Sounds has some wonderfully ludicrous lyrics, and is a bit more early Toyah than some of the other tracks:

“The sounds are asleep
Motionless waters on a cobbled street
Entwined like the double helix
The silence speaks
Shady faded city lights
Dark, dark tinted nights
Alone in an orgy of peace
The silence speaks
I’m the space between the sounds”

If you ever wondered what Toyah would sound like singing Alice Cooper’s Schools Out, then wonder no more! The results aren’t too bad, but pretty surplus to requirements. The final single is up next, and I really like this one, another really poppy number – World In Action. There’s an extended version of all the singles included on this special re-issue, but World In Action has a remix! I believe this is Toyah’s first ever remix!

I don’t rate the final two tracks particularly highly, America For Beginners is quite political, but pretty uninspiring, likewise Vigilante isn’t a memorable track at all, nor a particularly fitting end to what is a pretty fun album overall. The original album ends at this point, but thanks to the brilliant Cherry Red Records we not only have the original album remastered, but all the b-sides and mixes! Of particular note is Kiss The Devil, which was a b-side to Don’t Fall In Love, its pretty similar, and fun!

All in all, Toyah’s foray into becoming a pop diva is still a lot of fun all these years later. Quality singles, and some memorable album tracks make the filler pale into insignificance. This stunning re-issue not only comes with extensive liner notes, lots of pictures, and even an introduction from Toyah herself!

Nothing beats Solider of Fortune (Terrorist of Love) though, best Toyah song ever in my opinion. And who else would wear a painted wicker birdcage on their album cover?

World in Action


Don’t Fall In Love (I Said)