Friday, February 12, 2016

bullhead o'reilly

Ah, IMDB. As some of you may know, the Internet Movie Data Base has a sub-section devoted entirely to something called "wacky credits". I think i've found the wackiest of all time (and not in the way they mean). In the two-part television episode "The Great Invasion" from 1966's SHANE, actor e.j. andre plays a character named bullhead o'reilly. It's the only time the character ever appears in the series. Simple enough...but wait! As listed on IMDB, in part 1 e.j. receives "credit only". In part 2, e.j. is listed as "uncredited". If that sounds confusing, let me fail to clear it up by explaining that what they mean is that andre DOESN'T appear in part 1 (even though he's given credit), and DOES appear in part 2 (even though he doesn't receive credit). In other words, he wasn't there when he was there, and he was there when he wasn't there. Everybody clear? Aside from violating any number of the laws of time and space, this presumptive mistake is the most fascinating credit snafu i've ever seen. Is it IMDB's error? A boner in the original show credits? Is there any possible way it could be true?? If so, SHANE was decades ahead of its time in terms of post-modern irony. Any fans out there who can clear this up?
Yes, i need to get out of the house more...but scroll down yourself! If you dare...

Sunday, February 7, 2016

sunset, lone arranger

glenn frey
As i said to my brother yesterday, "Is there a hole in your world?" Farewell glenn, you'll be missed. You'll also be resurrected more than most humans, your songs sure to be heard for many more decades (oops, that comment's for joe). One of the founding members of the Eagles, glenn deservedly rode that wave for the rest of his life, enjoying a successful solo career and eventual Eagle rebirth. He also painted pictures, took the occasional acting gig, and sang a perfect (and largely unrecognized) guest vocal on randy newman's "Short People". That he garnered as many solo raspberries as he did kudos is largely subjective nonsense, as the vagaries of fame are endless. Did some enjoy kicking glenn, just because he took away America's favorite band? History wants to re-write the Beach Boys into that slot, and it's a worthy debate, but much of the anti-Eagle sentiment is small-minded crap - anti-country snobbery, anti-intellectual snobbery, anti-California snobbery...for smart, multi-faceted music that evolved and endures, the Eagles take a back seat to no one. So was solo glenn gratuitously abused for what he wasn't, rather than what he was? His ex-partner don enjoyed greater success, but the concomitant anti-don backlash was more pointed as well. I myself once pooh-poohed glenn's work, but when judged fairly, he owes apologies to no one (except for taking lead vocal on the resurrection of "Take It to the Limit"). The only vaguely objective assessment for popular music is, does it pop into your head without prompting? By that measure, even glenn's worst (i'm looking at you, "Heat is On") had some sort of merit. The poet and social agitator in me always pulled me to henley, and in that light it's interesting to compare glenn and don to paul and john, the greatest musical duo from the other side of the pond (one even wonders whether the late-Beatle dominance of paul mirrors late-Eagle don, but the parallel doesn't stand up). A part of me wants to say that don's work is flat-out better, and probably it is...but maybe that just means he had more motivation, and knew better how to offset his own weaknesses, often using the Heartbreakers as both band and co-writers. Perhaps glenn wasn't chasing his own shadow so much. Or not - whatever the case, maybe glenn just had fun making music (with writing partner jack tempchin). And some of it's much better than you think.
Flaccid and forgettable, with one balladeer gem ("The One You Love" - insipid, but undeniable).
A step in the right direction, as rocker glenn is back with a blues edge. Some consider "Sexy Girl" the pinnacle of frey saccharin stomach-churners, but stripped of all Eagle expectations, it's a well-crafted, fun song. And "Smuggler's Blues" burns the barn.
Returning to the music that came out of the Detroit of his youth, frey made an album more listenable than its predecessors, with two standout singles.
The best frey by far...and i say that not just because he channeled his inner henley. Unfortunately, no one was listening - i've yet to meet a single person who knows how great this one is. Long enough to be a double album, you might search for a weak link in vain, as track after track sinks into your consciousness. On a great album it can be hard for any song to stand out...but the exquisite "River of Dreams" manages that effortlessly.
LIVE (1993)
Had glenn released a live album earlier, it might now be held up as a classic example of what not to play at a party. And i suppose this one will never gain a hip cult following...but be glad he waited. I'm not promising there won't be moments when you'll wish for a tad less frey, but if you forget about "that band", you'll have a dandy time. Filmed in Dublin, he offers the perfect four songs off the new album, four from the catalog, and six Eagle tracks - including a respectable take on "Desperado". You might even abide that song from 48 HOURS. The standouts are "River of Dreams" and irish classic "Wild Mountain Thyme".
Led off by three new tracks which show almost no fall-off from STRANGE WEATHER, the rest (except for "Heat...") is spot-on, largely because his less-successful fourth album gets more play than the previous three.
In the american-songbook era, an album of standards from a heretofore rocking dinosaur is cause enough to tense up. But relax - this one's more nightclub than big band. Yes, there's an orchestra, but they play second fiddle to a jazz combo. And glenn's vocals are silky smooth. Along with the forties and fifties, he throws in a little brian wilson and randy newman, plus one original. Of course the lyrics are occasionally embarrassingly regressive - but if you can relax on that, let the smoky sounds carry you away.
Dream Set List
-Common Ground
-New Kid in Town
-This Way to Happiness
-Lyin' Eyes
-Smuggler's Blues
-Love in the 21st Century
-Here's to Life
-After the Thrill is Gone
-What Do I Do with My Heart
-Tequila Sunrise
-I've Got Mine
-Soul Searchin'
-True Love
-River of Dreams
-Peaceful Easy Feeling

Saturday, February 6, 2016

"Barbary Coast"

-created by douglas heyes
Only for cultural historians with a masochistic bent, BARBARY COAST was mercifully canceled after half a season. One longs for intelligence in a show. Failing that, cleverness counts. Minus those two, you'd better have a lot of charm. This show has none of the above. William shatner's one television lead smack dab between TREK and HOOKER, it's a WILD WILD WEST clone that's an object lesson in what happens with neither a vision nor good writing. Painful is the word, and once you're committed as a reviewer, all you can do is hope for the end. Shatner plays a governor's agent (and master of disguise) fighting corruption in post-Civil War San Francisco. Doug mcclure is a casino owner and reluctant partner. Richard kiel gets a chance to play against type, as a good guy who's more handyman than muscle. Kiel is wasted, mcclure is competent, and shatner needed either more devotion to his craft, or a director who could prod him to deliver more. The pilot, starring dennis cole in mcclure's part, is abysmal, and it gets only marginally better. There are no juicy guest spots. I wouldn't be writing this however, without some tiny glimmer of watchability to offer. In the final three episodes, something good almost starts to happen. For the shatner devotee, watch these two and promise to leave it at that.
-The Day Cable was Hanged
The writing finally approaches competence, and a larger historical context is added to the mix, as cable captures a man alleged to be john wilkes booth. He hands him over to a general more concerned with self-aggrandizement than truth. Cable digs deeper, and springs the condemned prisoner. They missed a chance for an inspired ending, by having the man turn out to be booth after all, but this one's worthwhile.
-Mary Had More than a Little
Cleverness finally arrives, as two nefarious plot lines weave their way toward a convergence you can't see coming. A gang of crooks take over a soup kitchen, in order to tunnel into the safe next door. The daughter of one of cash's old friends turns out to be a hustler with angel wings and a thug boyfriend ready to mug the big winners who leave her table. One of shatner's characterizations finally becomes fun.