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Now in our eleventh calendar year!

PCR #543 (Vol. 11, No. 34). This edition is for the week of August 16--24, 2010.
Mike's RantMike's Bust
Hello gang! Short and sweet this week. Shall we begin?

"The Switch"  by Mike Smith
Will's 2009 South Florida Adventure: Part One  by William Moriaty
Series Retrospective: Legends of the Superheroes  by ED Tucker
Woking  by Jason Fetters
Movie Notes .... .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith


If Sylvester Stallone has his way, he'll add some more starpower to the sequel to "The Expendables." Earlier this week, while appearing on Ryan Seacrest's syndicated radio show, Stallone hinted that in the film he has planned Bruce Willis would play the bad guy. He also said he'd try to include other well known action heroes of the past in the new installment, including the Muscles from Brussels, Jean Claude Van Damme.

Sam Worthington is rumored to have nabbed the title role in director Alex Proyas' upcoming film about Vlad the Impaler, "Dracula: Year One."

As shooting grows closer more stars are lining up to join the cast of "X-men: First Class." Recent additions include Oliver Platt, Kevin Bacon, January Jones, Zoe Kravitz and Bill Bitner. Platt will play a character known as The Man In Black, while Bacon has just been announced as a "villian," however it is the opinion of several fans that he will play Dr. Sinister. Jones is signed to play Emma Frost, better known as the White Queen. Kravitz will play Angel while Bitner is rumored to be playing the young Magneto.

Moody Blue by Elvis Presley

Paradise Alley - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - Music by Bill Conti

This week I thought I take a look at Elvis Presley's last album to be released before his death, whose August 16, 1977 date was commemorated this past week.

Released less then a month before his death, "Moody Blue" is a combination of live recordings and studio work. Like many of Presley's later albums, the record consists of several covers of popular songs, here including "Let Me Be There" and "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)," both of which were hits for Olivia Newton John, and the Righteous Brothers' "Unchained Melody." The title track had been released as a single in early 1977 and went on to hit #1 on the Country Chart, reaching only #31 on the pop chart. Because of the dearth of new studio material the song was included on the album. Other hits on the album include "Way Down" and "Unchained Melody."

I had the extreme privelege of seeing Elvis at Bayfront Center on Valentines Day, 1977. My neighbor was in charge of the valet parkers at the Ramada Inn on Dale Mabry close to Tampa Stadium. We parked many cars there on Sundays during Buccaneer home games. One Sunday in 1976 a large man in a larger Cadillac pulled up and gave me the keys. "Put her where you can watch her, son," he told me. I moved an old VW Bug that was right in front of the Valet Stand and put his car there. When he returned after the game he tipped me five bucks and asked "do you like Elvis, son?" I nodded my head and he handed me two tickets. Of course, when I went to the show I had no idea that the man would be dead within 6 months. But even as a young boy of 16 I marveled at the way he held the crowd in his hand. If memory serves me the only song he did that is on this album is "If You Love Me (Let Me Know)." Mostly it was older hits, a few medleys and solos from the band. I actually tracked down a photo of Elvis from that concert:

The King wows the fans at Bayfront Center, 2/14/77

Here is a fan clip with images of Presley doing my favorite song off of the album, "Way Down":


As a promotional gimmic, the album itself was pressed on Blue vinyl, which makes it pretty much readily available (some collector shops hype the fact it's on blue vinyl like it's a rarity). However, shortly after Presley's death, newer copies were pressed on black vinyl. Those are the rare ones.

At the same time Elvis was preparing to record the "Moody Blue" album, Hollywood was preparing to give out its annual Academy Awards. "Rocky" was the big winner that year and the academy surprised star Sylvester Stallone while he was about to present an award on stage. As he began to read the nominees the crowd gave a shout, prompting Stallone to ask "what?" and turn around. There behind him was Muhammad Ali:


If you paid attention to Stallone during the sparring, he tells Ali that his real name is "Kid Salami." A few years later, Stallone would write and direct the movie "Paradise Alley," featuring a man who wrestles under the name Kid Salami. I actually think, compared to some of the "Rocky" sequels, that it is Stallones' best work behind the camera. And highlighting the action on screen is the wonderful score by Bill Conti. As in other films, Sly's brother Frank Stallone pens and sings a couple of songs on the album. But more surprisingly is that Sylvester Stallone himself sings the main song, "Too Close To Paradise." What's even more surprisingly is that Stallone sings it well. In fact, I think he sings better here then he did years later in "Rhinestone" when he was SUPPOSED to be a singer. Here are the opening credits backed by Stallone:


OK, my wife just made a funny face listening to this. Maybe its the 30 plus year man crush I've had on Sly. I like it. Sue me!

Well, that's all for now. Have a great week. See ya!

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. "Mike's Rant" is ©2010 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 ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.