The future America’s Got Talent judge had a great career in the ’80s. In addition to his 6 year role of Dr. Wayne Fiscus, he was doing stand up comedy. I saw him in person twice, and my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. He also provided the voice of Gizmo in the movie Gremlins.
Here is the awesome theme song from St. Elsewhere:
Back in Black was the second album/cassette that I owned. Not too shabby. I believe my parents were in a music store, and they asked somebody “What are the kids listening to these days?” So many things went right for this whole situation. First of all, my parents were smart enough to know that I was old enough to listen to my own music instead of listening to Neil Diamond and Barry Manilow.
Second, they asked the right person. Back in Black had just come out, and would go on to be the third highest selling album worldwide (behind Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon). So that store employee knew what they were talking about. Last of all, with me being 10 years old, I’m pretty sure if the album that had just come out was Highway to Hell instead of Back in Black, I would have never gotten an AC/DC album until many years later!
Back in Black is such an incredible album. It does not have a single bad song. A lot of people say that all AC/DC songs are the same. But, if you listen to these songs, you will find that this is not the case.
AC/DC’s popularity was rising higher and higher. Especially after the success of 1979’s Highway to Hell album. Then tragedy struck. The band had begun developing their next album when lead singer, Bon Scott, died unexpectedly from alcohol poisoning on February 19, 1980 at the age of 33.
The remaining members contemplated disbanding. However, Bon Scott’s parents encouraged them to continue on. So, AC/DC went on to hire Brian Johnson as their new lead singer, which was an excellent decision. They also brought in Mutt Lange to produce the next album, after he had done a great job producing Highway to Hell.
Back in Black was released on July 25, 1980, less than half a year after the death of Bon Scott. According to Angus Young the album’s all-black cover was a “sign of mourning” for Scott. Atlantic Records disagreed with the cover, but accepted if the band put a grey outline around the AC/DC logo. They were worried about how well Back in Black would be received. The worries did not last long though, as it became an immediate success. Not only did it go to number one on the UK Albums Chart, its success meant AC/DC were the first band since The Beatles to have four albums in the British Top 100 simultaneously, as Highway To Hell, If You Want Blood You’ve Got It, and Let There Be Rock all re-entered the charts right after Back in Black was released.
Now, let’s get to the music:
1. “Hells Bells”
13. That’s the number of times the bell tolls at the beginning of the song. I used to love counting the tolls of the bells for some reason. Any rock band worth their salt just had to have the unlucky 13, and AC/DC delivered! This was a great way to start the album. “Back in Black” would also be justifiable as the lead single. But since the song was written to commemorate the death of Bon Scott, it was a cool song to lead off with, and Scott would have approved.
2. “Shoot to Thrill”
3. “What Do You Do for Money Honey”
4. “Given the Dog a Bone”
5. “Let Me Put My Love into You”
This song rated number 6 in the Parents Music Resource Center Filthy Fifteen list in 1985. The was the censorship commie committee founded by Tipper Gore and some other wives of politicians. The goal of the committee was to gain parental control over the access of children to music. The outcome was that “Parental Advisory” labels were placed on selected releases.
“Let Me Put My Love into You” made the list. I guess they didn’t listen too closely to the previous song! Who needs 50 Shades of Grey, ladies?!
So AC/DC made the list along with the scandalous Sheena Easton (“Sugar Walls”), Cyndi Lauper (“She Bop”), and of course Judas Priest (“Eat Me Alive”) and Twisted Sister (“We’re Not Gonna Take It”).
At least the labels helped us realize which albums were the best ones!
6. “Back in Black”
TURN IT UP!!! How can you not get pumped by this song?! This is one of those songs that you recognize immediately upon hearing the first note. Bands are lucky if they have a signature song. AC/DC has three! “Highway to Hell”, and then two from this album alone – this song, and the next song coming up. The song “Back in Black” was AC/DC’s tribute to Bon Scott. And it ranks on many music lists. It was ranked No. 4 by VH1 on their list of the 40 Greatest Metal Songs, and in 2009, it was named the second greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1. It was also ranked No. 187 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The same magazine has also ranked “Back in Black” number 29 on “The 100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”.
7. “You Shook Me All Night Long”
The third signature song by AC/DC. People that whine about AC/DC being too loud even like this song. When it was released, “You Shook Me All Night Long” reached up to #35 on the USA’s Hot 100 pop singles chart. It was re-released in 1986 when it was included on the Who Made Who album. The song placed at No. 10 on VH1’s list of “The 100 Greatest Songs of the 80s”. It was also No. 1 on VH1’s “Top Ten AC/DC Songs”.
I have one pretty cool memory of this song. Towards the end of my Navy Boot Camp, we were given a little bit more freedom. One of the rewards that we got was that at night, for a couple of hours, we could go to this greasy spoon diner on the base. The name of the diner – The Greasy Spoon! Anyway, the first time I walked in there, a jukebox was playing, and “You Shook Me All Night Long” was the song that was on. It was the first real music that I heard in almost 2 months! What a first song to hear! While most people were excited to get a burger and fries, I was excited to hear real music! So that is always the first thing that comes to my mind now whenever I hear that song.
So get yourself a nice greasy burger and some burnt fries, and click play!
8. “Have a Drink on Me”
9. “Shake a Leg”
10. “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution”
This was a great choice to close the album. It is the most “mellow” song on here. It has an awesome bluesy feel to it. This would have also been a great Bon Scott song. But Brian Johnson proved to be a perfect replacement.
Talk about the ultimate ’80s comic strip! Bloom County ran from December 8, 1980, until August 6, 1989 – right from the very beginning of the decade until the very end. The comic was created by Berkeley Breathed. It was a political and cultural comic that took place in middle America. It featured characters such as Milo Bloom, whose grandparents ran the Bloom boarding house, where many of the stories took place; Bill the Cat, who was a parody of Garfield, and usually just said “Ack” and “Pbthhh”; and of course Opus, the large-nosed penguin.
Opus was a fan-favorite, and eventually became the center of most of the stories.
Breathed decided to end the strip in 1989. However, Breathed started a Sunday-only strip called Outland with original characters and situations introduced in Bloom County’s final days. However, Opus, Bill and other characters eventually reappeared and slowly took over the strip. Outland ran from September 3, 1989, to March 26, 1995. Another Sunday-only spinoff strip called Opus ran from November 23, 2003, to November 2, 2008.
Question: What Bloom County character dreamed of having an interspecies relationship with Diane Sawyer?
Last Question: In what movie did Sam Jones play a New York Jets football star who finds himself trying to save Earth?
Answer: Flash Gordon (Great job Jim, and Christa – @buttercup081474!! )
I was inspired to ask that trivia question when I was reading my Entertainment Weekly yesterday. Sam Jones has a role in the upcoming Mark Whalberg movie, Ted. So there was a good interview with him. Here is the article, which you can also go to online at http://popwatch.ew.com/2012/06/22/ted-sam-jones-flash-gordon/:
One of the most memorable scenes in Seth MacFarlane’s talking teddy bear movie, Ted (out June 27), involves an out-of-control house party, an irate neighbor, and — surprisingly enough — a lot of wacky hijinks with Flash Gordon star Sam Jones. The actor has made some 45 films, but that Queen-soundtracked 1980 cult sci-fi flick didn’t exactly catapult him to superstardom, and his extended Ted cameo got us wondering what he’s been up to.
Quite a bit, it turns out. Jones is now mostly retired from acting, and these days the former Marine earns a living working in the personal security business, guarding high-level execs and other VIPs as they travel in high-risk areas. He works for a prominent security company that he’d prefer not to name, as well as running his own San Diego-based security business. “It’s primarily work in Mexico protecting dignitaries and executives from bad people wanting to do bad things to them,” he says. “And I love it. I absolutely love it.” Below, Jones fills us in on his weird career transformation.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you move away from acting? SAM JONES: You reach a point in your career when the weeks turn into a month or more of the phone not ringing. My wife said, ‘Honey, get your a– outside and don’t come back until you have a job. [Laughs] I thought about what could I do. What I did was, one day I called a [major security] company that was known for hiring good professionals, elite guys. I said, “What do I need to do to come on board?” They said, “Look, it’s going to take you a while to do it.” They sent me to specialized training, and I excelled in that, and next thing you know I was sent to Los Angeles, protecting a billionaire. From there I was sent to [New Orleans in the wake of] Katrina to protect executives who decided to remain. I just excelled there. Hopefully this doesn’t come across as arrogant, but I know myself — we know our skill sets and our core competencies. If I was to go out and try to record an album right now, I’d be out of my mind. That’s not something I’m good at. But I know what I can do and I do it with a spirit of excellence. And running security operations in high-risk environments and making movies, I’m very good at. Anything else, I might have some issues, you know? [Laughs] It really is a high. Being in the movies and playing a couple of superheroes and characters where other people had to depend on me…this is the real deal. I feel I belong in the movie business and I belong in the security business. It’s a natural for me.
You live in the San Diego area but work primarily in Mexico. How does that work?
It’s Monday through Friday, unless there’s a film I’m doing [security for] or something. I wake up at 3:30 in the morning. That will give you an idea. There are times when we travel to other cities when I could be there for a couple of days, but there’s nothing like going home every day.
What’s it like doing security work in Mexico right now? It seems a little scary at the moment. It can be for somebody who’s not paying attention, who’s not using common sense. It could be very scary. It’s all perception. Don’t present yourself as a soft target. When we’re in these environments where it’s the real deal, we are traveling hard. We’re in armored vehicles. They look like normal sedans or SUVs, but they are armored. And we’re traveling hard and we’re traveling fast. With that said, most of the time we’re traveling low profile. We’re not putting up red flags. There are times when we have some dignitaries when we have to travel in a huge motorcade with weapons out the windows and stuff like that. But usually we stay under the radar. In other words, we don’t give the bad guys any opportunity. They’re watching us. We’re not stupid. They’re assessing, saying, “Well let me see, if I decide to hit this motorcade or this convoy, what are my percentages of success?” When they look at us and they know our training, they can only come up with one conclusion: it’s going to be a 20 to 30 to 40 percent chance, if that. So they’re not going to mess with us. And that’s not a macho statement. It’s just in the training. It’s just how we present ourselves.
What’s the scariest situation you’ve been in? We’re trained in being proactive, so if we’re driving in a motorcade and the lead vehicle is looking up ahead and he or she sees something that they do not like, we’re not going to continue forward. We’re going to make a left turn, a U-turn, a right turn. Numerous times — many, many times — we see something ahead we don’t like and we just avoid.
What might you see that would make you turn around?
Okay, we’re at a major intersection in Tijuana and you look around at your situational awareness and you see the taco stand, everybody is doing their behavior that they’re supposed to be doing. You’ve got a couple next to you in a car who are kissing, a couple on your left who are arguing, you have people crossing the street, normal behavior. Why is there a pickup truck parked with two people in it and they’re not talking, their heads are not moving, and why are there a couple of SUVs across the street not moving? Well, I don’t know. But I’m not going to continue. I’m going to turn around. In other words, bad guys are usually bad actors. Seriously. They don’t know how to commit to the character that they’re doing.
Have you actually encountered violent situations?
I can’t get into anything specific, but there are certain things that have happened, and we have had success every time.
Can you describe the situation without names or places?
I mean, I really can’t. Any incidents that have ever happened or been attempted, we’ve always had success.
Have clients ever recognized you from your acting?
They figure out after a while, but I separate the security industry from the film industry. When they find out that I was Flash Gordon and in the film business for years, that’s okay once I’ve already proven myself as a security professional. But when I start a project and people say, “Wait a minute, time out: you’re saying that we have a former superhero and/or actor in the movie business who’s protecting the lives of my family and me? Something’s wrong here.” [Laughs] I had a big, big successful executive at a major [movie] studio. I had been protecting him for about a year. Then he put it together. He said, “Oh my God, I know exactly who you are. I trust you with my life! Thank God I knew you as a security professional before I found out you were Flash Gordon.”
Here is the Flash Gordon movie trailer:
And since Flash Gordon is now synonimous with Queen, here is the song:
Question: In what movie did Sam Jones play a New York Jets football star who finds himself trying to save Earth?
Last Question: On which of the following record labels was “Thriller” released?
A. Jive Records
B. Epic Records
C. Arista Records
D. Motown Records
Answer: B. Epic Records
The legendary Thriller album was released by Epic Records in 1982, and turned the music world on its head. The album won Michael Jackson a record-breaking eight Grammy Awards in 1984, including Album of the Year. That same year, Jackson won eight American Music Awards, the Special Award of Merit and three MTV Video Music Awards. Thriller was recognized as the world’s best-selling album on February 7, 1984, when it was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records. It is one of only three albums to remain in the top ten of the Billboard 200 for a full year, and spent 37 weeks at number one out of the 80 consecutive weeks it was in the top ten. The album was also the first of three to have seven Billboard Hot 100 top ten singles, and was the only album to be the best-seller of two years (1983–1984) in the US.
Welcome to the new series – Albums of the ’80s! I will try to post at least one album a week. We will go over some classic albums of the ’80s as well as some lesser known ones. We’ll have some fun remembering songs we haven’t heard in a while, and maybe we’ll hear “new” old music we missed the first time around. I hope you enjoy this. Let me know if you have any suggestions of albums you would like to know about, or if you have any favorites that you want people to hear.
I plan on jumping around to different years. But the first two albums I will cover happen to be from 1980. They are the first two that I ever owned. We will start with:
Kiss – Unmasked
Unmasked was the first album (well technically cassette) that I ever owned. I got it as a present along with a tape recorder to play it on. I still have the tape, and it is still in pretty good shape – especially considering the number of times it has been played.
So, my first album came at a transitional period for Kiss. Unmasked was the last studio album to feature the original lineup of Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss until the band reunited. Peter Criss technically was not even involved with the album. Anton Fig played drums on all the tracks, and was uncredited for it. After the album came out, Eric Carr would go on to be the permanent drummer for Kiss, until his death in 1991.
Although the album was titled Unmasked, this is not when the band did away with their makeup. The cover art was actually a comic strip. It featured a goofy photographer trying to catch the band members without their makeup on. Finally, Ace told him that if he dropped the camera they would take their masks off. They took their masks off, only to reveal that they had their makeup on underneath. Since I had this on cassette, I would read the comic with a magnifying glass!
The real unmasking of Kiss came on MTV on September 18, 1983:
Now let’s get into the music. Unmasked wasn’t one of their most popular albums. Even some of the band members did not like it! According to Paul Stanley:
“Unmasked? I would give that one star. A song like “Tomorrow” is really a great song, but I think ‘Unmasked’ is a pretty crappy album. It’s wimpy. A lot of those songs started out much ballsier, and much more rock’n’ rolly. Somehow they lost something on their way to vinyl.” p331, Kiss-Behind the Mask
Nonetheless, I loved this album, and still like most of the songs on it. Here is the playlist:
1. Is That You?
The album started out wi a bang. Or actually a Paul Stanley scream. This Paul Stanley song is probably the hardest rocking song on the album. A great way to start.
Another Paul Stanley song. This time a ballad. This song was a hit in several countries. It peaked at #47 in the U.S., but reached all the way to #5 on the Australian charts.
3. Talk to Me
I love this Ace Frehley song. The song was not released as a single in the U.S., but was released in several other countries where it reached the top-10.
4. Naked City
Hehe. He said “Naked”. As a ten year old, that was awesome! Of course, the Naked City, in this Gene Simmons song, refers to New York, and not a city where people are actually walking around naked. But it’s a pretty cool, if not depressing, song.
5. What Makes the World Go ‘Round
There were 3 songs on this album that I played over-and-over again. And this Paul Stanley tune was one of them. Warning: This song could possibly give you an earworm! Not a bad song to have stuck in your head though.
This is song #2 that I played over-and-over. This is another great Paul Stanley song. I really like the guitar solo as well.
7. Two Sides of the Coin
I like this Ace Frehley song a lot. If you liked “Talk To Me” earlier in this album, then you’ll like this one.
8. She’s So European
Back to Gene Simmons. Not a bad song. Not exactly the best song on the album, but still good.
9. Easy As It Seems
The last of the Paul Stanley songs. It’s probably my least favorite Stanley song on the album, but it’s still not bad.
10. Torpedo Girl
Ugh. This Ace Frehley song is somewhere around 3 1/2 minutes, and I think he repeats the title of the song for the last 2 1/2 minutes. The song after this was one of my favorites so I would always try skipping by this one. But since they repeat the same thing over and over and over again, I could never tell when it was almost over. Then I would skip too far, and have to rewind, and keep going back and forth. All you guys that used to listen to cassettes know what I’m talking about. Eeesh, It would have been faster to just listen to the whole song.
11. You’re All That I Want
This Gene Simmons song was one of my favorites. Great way to close out the album.