THE BEST OF TIMES
In the movie "Big Daddy," Adam Sandler describes the band STYX as "one of the greatest American bands ever but they catch a bad rap because most critics are cynical ass holes!" I couldn't agree more. The band has played an important part in my life. Their 1978 concert in Lakeland, Florida, which I attended with Matt, was a very "memorable" experience. The song "Come Sail Away," is a seminal and emotional moment in the history of our (mine, Matt and Nolan's) band, the HATS. I'm proud that my son is a fan of their music and this past week we had the opportunity to see them live in Kansas City.
The band was one of the featured concerts at the annual American Royal Rodeo in town and we arrived at around 6:45 for the 7:00 show time featured in the newspaper and on the tickets. Little did we know that first we would have to endure almost three hours of bull riding. After about 20 minutes of rooting for one of the rodeo clowns to be trampled, we headed downstairs to the high priced bar and watched the World Series. We were told the show would start no later then 10:00 but, due to "technical difficulties," the band didn't hit the stage until almost 10:30. As the opening chords of "Too Much Time On My Hands" began, the crowd jumped to their feet. As Tommy Shaw, looking very buff at age 52, went into the lead all thoughts of the past three hours of cattle punching magically disappeared.
Originally formed in Chicago in 1972 by brothers John and Chuck Panozzo, their neighbor Dennis DeYoung and James (JY) Young, STYX had minor success with the song, "Lady." But the band took off when Shaw joined the group in December 1975. Songs like "Renegade," "Crystal Ball," "Miss America," "Rockin' the Paradise" and, yes, "Mr. Roboto" kept the band at the top of the charts for the next 10 years. Like most bands, there were some defections. Shaw left to form Damn Yankees with Ted Nugent and Jack Blades from Night Ranger. DeYoung went solo and had a modest hit with the song, "Desert Moon." I actually saw DeYoung as Pontius Pilate in the traveling production of "Jesus Christ Superstar." The band continued to record tour, but with very little success. They did regroup in 1996 but, during their "Return to the Paradise Theater" tour, John Panozzo passed away. Chuck Panozzo was diagnosed with AIDS in 1998 and retired. OK, back to the show.
After a rousing "Miss America," keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, who is vocally a dead ringer for DeYoung, announced that the band had a new album out and would now play one of their new songs. As the opening notes of the Beatles' "I Am the Walrus" began, I thought to myself, "uh oh." But I needn't worry. With Gowan in great voice, the band played a kick ass version that finally brought the few people still sitting down out of their seats. After the crowd settled down some, Shaw asked us to welcome a special guest. A spotlight hit the stage as Chuck Panozzo took center stage. With JY on his right and Shaw on his left, Panozzo basked in the applause, which grew to a din as the piano opening of "Come Sail Away" began. When the song ended, the band took a brief break and then returned to do a few more numbers. Due to the technical problems and the fact that the band was scheduled to sing the National Anthem at the Bears game in Chicago the next day, the concert ended much earlier then I would have liked. I urge anyone that likes good old rock and roll to see them if they come to town. Just make sure there's no bull riding before hand!
THIS WEEK'S ISSUE
Thank you, ED Tucker, for your excellent review of the latest SCREAMFEST. It's always a pleasure to read your work. And Terence, great piece on Zappa. While in the service I spent a lot of time at the Edgewood, Maryland arsenal that his father once worked at. I can tell you that the people of Baltimore are proud the can claim Zappa as their own.
To the youngest HAT, Corey Castellano. It seems like only yesterday we were eating your mom's friend chicken and I was crashing on your couch! Many happy returns my friend!
ANOTHER TOP 10 CHALLENGE
It's been more then three years (issue #117) when readers of the PCR listed their 10 favorite cover songs. So, what could be next? Of course, how about the WORSE cover songs you've ever heard. I'll give you a hint...one of mine is from a former Hardy Boy!
2,000 AMERICANS KILLED IN IRAQ
Do I really have to say anything else?
LIKE RAP MUSIC...
Michael Brown will not go away! This week Homeland Security Chief Michael Chertoff told reporters that he has extended former FEMA chief Michael Brown's post-resignation employment for another 30 days. That's more then $12,000 in Brown's pocket. Brown told reporters that he "wants to move on, but they want me to participate" in post-Hurricane assessments. I didn't think there were that many horse shows in the south!
NO WONDER I CAN'T SIT DOWN
Remember how many American's reacted when the price of gas skyrocketed? Remember how the oil companies told us it was because the cost of oil went up, so they had to spend more? Well, this week those same oil companies released their earnings for the last quarter and it's obvious that they are almost destitute. On average, profits rose 75% from the last quarter, with Exxon showing a profit of $10 BILLION. $10 BILLION!!! Right behind are the poor bastards at Shell, who only netted $9 BILLION. Shame on me for being suspicious of those poor paupers!
PUT IT ON THE BOARD...YES!
Baseball fans will recognize the above as the home run call of Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. And it usually gets on my nerves. Harrelson, probably the biggest "homer" in broadcasting, had plenty of reason to celebrate this year as the White Sox won the World Series for the first time since 1917. In fact, the Sox had thrown a Series (1919) more recently then they had won one until this week. As a fan, I was very happy for players on both teams. Houston's Jeff Bagwell and Craig Biggio are borderline Hall of Famers and have played the game the way it should be their entire careers. I always liked Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, except for the fact that he always won the gold glove over Cal Ripken, Jr. So, as the season comes to a close I can only add one more thing...158 days until Opening Day!
Elmer "Len" Dresslar, Jr., who made sure kids ate their vegetables as the voice of the Jolly Green Giant, passed away Tuesday. He was 80. According to his daughter, he would periodically record his booming "Ho, Ho, Ho," the most recent session almost 10 years ago.
Folk-music promoter Harold Leventhal, who introduced Bob Dylan in his first major concert-hall performance, has died at the age of 86. Along with Dylan, Leventhal worked with both Woody and Arlo Guthrie and won a Grammy in 1989 as producer for the album, "Folk-ways: A Vision Shared - A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly." He also served as a producer on the films, "Alice's Restaurant," "Bound for Glory" (a great film starring David Carradine as Woody Guthrie" and "Wasn't That a Time."
Tony Adams, who served as a producer for director Blake Edwards for 30 years, died this week from a stroke at the age of 52. He served as an associate producer on 1975's "Return of the Pink Panther" and the next year's "Pink Panther Strikes Again." At 26, he produced the hit film, "10" and also teamed with Edwards on such films as "SOB," Micki + Maude," "Victor/Victoria" and "Skin Deep."
YOU NEVER GIVE ME YOUR MONEY
If you've got an extra $250,000, you could walk away with an envelope on which John Lennon wrote the lyrics to "Give Peace a Chance." At least that's the price the Bonhams auction house is hoping to get.
WE'RE NUMBER THREE!
Britain's Total Film magazine named "Jaws" as the third best film of all time, behind Martin Scorsese's mob drama, "Goodfellas" and Alfred Hitchcock's "Vertigo." Rounding out the top five were "Fight Club" and "The Godfather Part II." I know what you're thinking. But please allow me this moment.
THE STORY OF JAWS - PART 39
Last week, I pointed out some of the differences between the original novel and the film. But what about the sequels? How much did they adhere to the Benchley story and how much did they stray? Truth be told, the novelization of "Jaws 2" is a much better story then the film. Based on the screenplay by Dorothy Tristan and Howard Sackler (which was later revised by Carl Gottlieb), the book featured a great Mafia subplot. On the other side of the coin, the book also showed Michael Brody thinking back to his encounter with a shark in the estuary, which was NOT in the first novel. The film "Jaws 3D" had only the Brody name in common with the original story. And the film "Jaws the Revenge" discounts the entire story line of the third film. Though I've never read it, I've been told that the "JTR" novel is better then the film, which is like saying Jar Binks is better then a sharp stick in the eye.
Well, that's all for now. Have a great week and a safe and happy Halloween. See ya!
"Mike's Rant" is ©2005 by Michael A. Smith. Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of Nolan B. Canova. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.