Sunday, September 18, 2016

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 7

Popjunkie’s Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 7

Here is a cool little item – a copy of ‘Bandit 1’ in the discontinued HD-DVD format!
Almost like the “VHS vs Beta” wars from the early 80’s, we had the “Blu-Ray vs HD-DVD” a few years ago. I eventually did open this one and played it on a friend’s HD player way before the Blu-Ray for this movie came out and it looked great.

To see more photos of this item as well as others of my Bandit collection, check out my public Google drive folder by clicking here.

#smokeyandthebandit #burtreynolds #brift #hd-dvd

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Life on Planet Earth - The debut of Duran Duran

Life on Planet Earth - The debut of Duran Duran

Ba Ba baa  Ba  Ba Ba Ba Baa….

To the uninitiated, these words represent nothing more than a simple, catchy vocal riff in an early 80’s pop song. But to the faithful, this ‘hook’ is a New Romantic rally cry of monumental importance as it signaled the arrival of Duran Duran to the world. The line is from the song Planet Earth, the first single that the band released on this very day - February 2 - in 1981. 35 years ago.

Released four months ahead of their debut album, Planet Earth was a resounding success in the U.K, Europe, Japan and Australia. In the U.S, the reaction was a bit muted as the 'New Romantic' movement which Duran Duran were a major part of in the U.K failed to catch fire as it had on their home turf but it little mattered; superstardom was only two years away.

What is remarkable is that all of the benchmarks of the Duran Duran sound were present right from this first single: the slightly disco-fied drum beat, the galloping, midrange heavy bass line, and guitars that were funky one moment and crunching the next. Topped off with keyboards that relied on texture more than technicalities and obtuse, cryptic lyrics and Planet Earth is a fully formed Duran Duran song. The band never really did naive, raw and earnest; they just sounded like Duran Duran.

Parting fact of the day - In the scope of the pop culture landscape, 1981 was a watershed year for the New Wave era. Not only was it the year that Duran Duran emerged, debut albums hit the shelves from the Stray Cats, Thompson Twins and Depeche Mode. Incredibly, the music from these bands is still finding new audiences, constantly growing in their influence. Duran Duran and Depeche Mode especially are active, creative entities who easily sell out arenas all over the world.

“Is there anybody out there trying to get through?”... Indeed there was Simon, indeed there was. Happy Duraniversary!

UK 12" single 
(UK 7" single pictured at top)

Monday, January 11, 2016

My David Bowie Story...

Waking up to the news today that David Bowie had just passed away brought a flood of emotions - moments from his massive, 50-year recorded history played through my head as well as something more personal. That time when I attended a birthday party with him.

In 2002 I was doing guitar repairs in Hell’s Kitchen and one of our clients was the lovely Gail Ann Dorsey - bassist and vocalist for Bowie’s band since 1995. It was always a treat when Gail came into the shop, I used to enjoy talking with her about music and the multitude of projects she was always involved in. One day she told us that her 40th birthday was around the corner and that we were invited to the soirĂ©e! I was honored and thrilled to be invited, maybe some of his legendary backing band would be there. I laughed to myself about David himself being there, but surely that would not happen. The question still swam through my mind over the next few weeks because after all, he did live downtown in the same neighborhood as the club…

On the night of the party I got myself together the best I could, because if there was ever a night to look cool, this was it. While my friend and owner of the shop, was taking a very NYC approach to the evening and planned to be fashionably late, something told me to be right on time that night.

The club was only a 2-3 block walk from my house but when I arrived at the correct block, I was unable to find the place! How can I possibly be lost in my own neighborhood? I was like one of those annoying tourists that I used to pass by as I cursed under my breath. Standing there incredulous, I saw four figures approaching. As they got closer, I happily realized the the figure leading was Gail herself. “Great, I will play it off that I just got here and saw her and was waiting to enter the club together!” As I greeted her she tells me that they are also looking for the club! Great, I fess up that I am clueless as to the location of this mystery club when she introduces me to her guests.

I meet the person standing next to Gail who I believe was drummer Sterling Campbell. My mind is fuzzy on that detail as it may have been someone else but I absolutely did talk to him later on at the party for sure. I was then introduced to a well-dressed woman named Coco, who I knew of instantly for if anyone has studied up on their Bowie history, than they surely know of his long-time personal assistant, Coco Schwab. I was very excited by this - a direct connection to Bowie! - but ended up completely gobsmacked when I turned to meet the previously unseen forth guest and found myself look straight at the impossibly dapper Mr. Bowie himself!

I've met a lot of my heroes, more than I could ever have imagined as a music-obsessed teen and I’ve always maintained that the musician I would be the most starstruck over would be David Bowie and I was right; I was staring at him like a fan-boy in the headlights. I actually got him to chuckle when we shook hands as I said, “No introductions needed here - I know your name and it's a pleasure to meet you!” Or something like that. I think. He did laugh though!

I’m still reeling in amazement as we all turn and start heading up the block looking for our elusive Soho haunt. We do eventually find the (unmarked) place and head downstairs into a very dark - yet totally NYC - club. For the few people that were in the club when we got there, just imagine their surprise when the door opens and in comes a small party with none other than the Thin White Duke in their charge! Of course, no one was more shocked and excited than I, trust me.

At this point, DB and Coco head to the back of the club where a private room was ready for them. Gail being such a gracious host would come chat with her guests and then make her way back to the VIP room in equal measure. After sometime - and I truly do not recall the exact amount of time - DB and Coco emerge from VIP, and walk out into the main part of the club clearly ready to make their exit. It was almost like one of those moments in the movies where the needle skips on the record player and the room is enveloped in silence - it was a magic moment; I literally felt the air get sucked out of the room.   

But for me, the best part was just about to happen. When David walked past me, he slowed, put his hand on my shoulder, leaned in and in that most distinctive voice intoned “Have a great night”. I don’t remember my reply but I guess it doesn’t matter; I have a David Bowie story.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Craig Dobbins - The View From Here, a PopJunkie album review

If there is power in understatement, than Craig Dobbins’ masterful The View From Here, is easily one of 2015’s most powerful instrumental albums. With nary a superfluous note to be found within its runtime, The View From Here is an unhurried, almost casual listen that relies more on melodies that sink in with every repeat playing rather then technical pyrotechnics designed to dazzle on first listen but diminish soon after.

The album manages to do what many all-instrumental affairs can not; take its listeners on a journey, the same way that the finest voice-led albums can. Starting with the charming Jojobean, the album builds over the course of its story. Many of the songs are comprised of solo nylon-string guitar but at various points, electric guitars, steel-string acoustic guitars, violin and other acoustic instruments provide a gentle bed of sound that helps propel the songs along their intended path.  

After years of teaching others the intricacies of finger-style guitar - Dobbins is acknowledged as an expert on the styles of Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed - Dobbins focused on his own muse and produced the finest album of his career and easily one of the best instrumental guitar albums of 2015.

The View From Here is also available in a highly recommended deluxe edition containing a book of photos and guitar transcriptions of every song on the album for those fleet-fingered pickers who want to tackle playing these tunes. No easy feat!

For more on Craig Dobbins, visit

Monday, November 30, 2015

Kung Fury - The Popjunkie Review

Kung Fury - The Popjunkie Review

If you make a movie which lampoons B-Movies, does that make your creation a C-Movie?
Can a Triceratops become a cop on the Miami police force?
Is it possible for an 80’s arcade game to come to life Transformer style and kill people?
Can Hitler show up in 1985 Miami steal someone's (very large) cell phone, call the police department and begin shooting at the receiver so that the bullets travel through the phone, killing the Police chief on the other end - as well as all of the remaining officers in the room?
If you find that you will not sleep tonight without knowing the answer to any of these questions, then you must not miss Kung Fury - the zaniest, most over-the-top 30 minutes you can hope to experience.
This short film tells the story of the titular hero, the cliched “burnt out cop”, who is called back into duty to stop Hitler from time traveling into 1985 to take over the world with his ancient and magical Kung Fu powers. How to stop him? By traveling back to 1945 by way of a computer hacker who can “hack time”.  
Kung Fury packs so many gags within its scant run-time, it's amazing that they were still able to tell their story! The first 90 seconds alone would take paragraphs to describe. Hell, the first 3 seconds had my attention when the production company's logo splashed across the screen! The name? Laser Unicorns, of course!
The movie must be seen to be believed but let's whet your whistle with some of the plot points that run rampant in Kung Fury: Thor, dinosaurs, time travel, Hitler as a Kung Fu master, hot cave girls and a hero that is created by being struck by lightning. And then bitten by a cobra.
Yeah, it's a must see. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Popjunkie's Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 6

Popjunkie's Smokey and the Bandit Collection: Part 6

Who remembers the Laser Disc? Who know, size of a vinyl record but looked like a CD... that played movies!
Well, quite a few LD's were released for SATB, all with different artwork. Here is the first LD entry for the first film.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Miles Mosley - Upright Bass Brigade

Miles Mosley - Upright Bass Brigade

Miles Mosley is the perfect embodiment of the modern bass player – sonically adventurous, can adeptly play a wide array of musical styles and is well-versed in social media networking. With such trademarks, it is not surprising that while Miles plays the upright bass, his vision for the instrument – and the role of the bass in general – is a bit “forward-thinking”:

“I think all of us, as bass players, are in tune with the fundamentals of a lot of different kinds of music. There’s no reason for us not to be leaders, be sidemen, be composers… The music industry’s changed so you have to change with it. It’s not as easy to be a one trick pony. You used to be able to do that! You can still but I find more comfort in having different irons in the fire. It’s not about being a jack-of-all trades. It’s actually about having different facets of your career.”

Recently on tour with Natasha Agrama – daughter of bass legend, Stanley Clarke – Mosley came to the Aguilar Artist Loft to discuss his use of effects to create bold new soundscapes, the challenges of amplifying the upright bass and his love of the “Aguilar sound”.

To read the Q&A portion of the interview, click here.