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I am a part-time author of dollarbinhorror.blogspot.com...short story and novel writer. I've found true love with the one I love.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Stardate 0830.10

“Conflict is the gadfly of thought. It stirs us to observation and memory. It instigates to invention. It shocks us out of sheeplike passivity, and sets us at noting and contriving."-John Dewey

Another Descent Into...
The Runaways(2010)-I am a huge fan of The Runaways. Lita Ford(junior high school crush#1), Joan Jett, Cherie Currie, Sandy West, and a revolving number of bass players made for a dirty three-chord rock-n-roll band whos music is as timeless as it was thirty years ago. Like most popular groups, sooner or later, a movie had to be done. An inaccurate, by-the-numbers movie.

The film opens with Cherie (Dakota Fanning) and her sister, Marie Currie (Riley Keough), as Cherie has just got her first period. Marie's boyfriend, Derek (Brendan Sexton III), picks up the sisters from Marie's job at "Pup n' Fries" and Marie announces to him that Cherie has gotten her period. Angry at her sister for telling, she informs Derek that Marie is not wearing any underwear. Later, Cherie is seen cutting her hair in a shag and putting on face makeup in an attempt to create a look resembling Bowie on the cover of Aladdin Sane (the cover is shown on her wall as a poster). The scene is accompanied by scenes of Joan huffing marijuana with her girlfriend. Cherie is later seen lip-syncing David Bowie's Lady Grinning Soul at the school talent show and is the target of paper balls, to which Cherie reacts by flipping off the crowd, but wins the talent show.

Joan Jett (Kristen Stewart) is making out with a guy outside a club when she sees record producer, Kim Fowley (Michael Shannon). Joan approaches him and talks about starting an all-girl rock band. Kim is interested and introduces Joan to Sandy West (Stella Maeve), a drummer. Joan and Sandy become friends and start jamming when Kim suggests that they recruit a hot blonde in the vein of Brigitte Bardot.

At a club, Kim and Joan look for hot blondes and discover Cherie. They ask if she wants to be in a band and she accepts. Then they tell her to come to auditions in a trailer park in the valley.

Cherie learns the cover song of Suzi Quatro's "Fever" and goes to audition, however they're disappointed at the song. Instead, Kim kicks Cherie out of the trailer and with Joan, thinks of a song for Cherie to audition for, thus writing "Cherry Bomb". Cherie sings it and, after improving, is part of the band.

After moving in with her aunt because her mom moved to Indonesia, Cherie travels to her first gig with the band. Soon, they get signed to Mercury Records and start recording an album. Due to the album's success, they travel to Japan to play a concert. After their performance, Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) throws magazines at Cherie that have pictures of her, something Cherie thought was for the whole band.

After an argument with Lita, Cherie, and Joan, crazy Japanese fans break through the window and chase the girls out of the building. Afterward, Cherie overdoses in the hotel, collapses in an elevator and is sent to the hospital. Upon arrival home, Cherie's alcoholic father is passed out on his bed. Cherie takes his painkillers and her actions are seen by Marie.

At the studio recording their next album, Cherie has a breakdown and refuses to play, followed by Lita trash-talking her and Joan defending Cherie. After a very heated argument, Cherie quits the band and leaves. Joan has a fit, throwing chairs and beer bottles against the glass. Cherie returns home while Joan continues playing and starts her own band, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. Cherie collapses again in a phone booth in a supermarket parking lot. At the hospital, Marie visits her and tells her to get her stuff straight.

Later at a job, Cherie hears Joan's cover of "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" on the radio and calls the station, where Joan is visiting for interviews. After an awkward conversation between Joan, Cherie, and even the radio host, Rodney Bingenheimer (Keir O'Donnell), Cherie says her goodbyes and continues working, smiling when Joan's next song, "Crimson and Clover", comes on the radio.

I'm sure the director got the group implosion right but really this is just a typical band film, nothing special. The make-out scenes with Fanning and Stewart are far from erotic. Their version of "Cherry Bomb" is, pardon the pun, the pits! Worst of all, Lita Ford is barely portrayed in this movie. No how she got in the group or anything. What gives?

Sonic Boom(2009)-
After nearly a year of waiting, I finally was able to download the most recent album from my favorite rock-n-roll group. My goal in these reviews of any of my favorites(albeit groups, authors,etc.) is to really be fair and balanced.(Gawd, I hate that phrase.) I don't like to play the role of fanboy and say 'oh jeez, this yet another great....". It sounds simpering and flaccid. With KISS, I know I'm not going to be listening to a musical masterpiece that is going to change the world.So with that in mind, here's my review.

The album starts with the kickass "Modern Day Deliah." Definitely one of the most strongest song KISS has produced in recent memory. It could have easily been the opener for the next album after "Love Gun" had they not have gotten full of themselves and went disco/pop. From there, it's Gene's first crack at bat with "Russian Roulette". It's down and dirty, the kind of tune you'd expect from the Demon. You can put it on his list of classic songs, i.e. "I Love It Loud", "Deuce", "God of Thunder", "Within",etc.

Track 3 is the middling "Never Enough". This is more in the vein of the MOR 80's KISS. Take it or leave it. "Yes I Know(Nobody's Perfect)" is next up on the playlist and again it's ok, no great shakes. A fun tune,nothing more. The weakest track on the album has to be the Gene/Paul duo "Stand". It tries to be an anthem for the 21st-century, but it falls flat. No "God Gave Rock-N-Roll II" here.

"Hot and Cold" leads off the 2nd half of the album. I like the track for the simple fact Gene sings"If it's to loud, you're too old". Timeless.  Revolving door drummer Eric Singer makes his vocal debut with "All For The Glory". He tries to sound like Peter Criss, but this song,to me, sounds like an Ace tune to me. Not bad, though. "Danger Us" is the stronger of the Paul efforts on Sonic Boom. Having said that, it's still not one of his best.

It may sound as if I'm slagging this album, but I'm not. The last three tracks prevent me from doing that. "I'm An Animal" is another great Gene tune. No wonder it's being performed live on tour right now. Awesome. Tommy Thayer(New Ace) makes his vocal debut as well with "When Lightning Strikes". It does sound like an Ace tune, but he sings light-years better than Mr. Frehely.  The album closes with the fantastic, truly anthemic "Say Yeah". So, I guess overall, if this were a sandwich, you'd pick off the lettuce("Never Enough,"Yes I Know") and enjoy the meat and bread. Better than "Psycho Circus" and most of the 80s catalog. 8/10.

When I tell people who are perhaps a bit narrow in their musical scope that my two favorite bands are KISS and Rush, I get looks of  "O, you poor thing", dumbfoundment, and "Huh?" nine times outta ten. Well, here's a bit of news for ya, a lot of folks like both bands. It's ok, really it is. At first glance, these two bands couldn't be different. One band relys mainly on stageshows and high energy to relay their brand of music. The other focus on pure musicianship. When you go to a Rush show, you won't see Geddy Lee spit blood and fly to the rafters.

Lyrically, one band channels the higher plains of art, the other channels the plains of, well, I can't print it here and have respect for myself know will I? Yet, they are similiar. They have fantatical devotees who will follow them to the edge of the universe. They have been around for nearly the same amount of time and sold,comparably, the same amount of albums.

So what is it about these two bands that appeal to me? I think they represent the duality of our psyche. KISS makes you want to cast your inhibitions aside and just live and have fun. Rush entertains the left side of your brain with it's pure weight and depth.  And, in a non-pretentious assement, they both FUCKIN ROCK! C'mon, don't fed me Gaga and Beiber codswallop. Give me the hard, dizzying odes about partying, working hard, and loving all you can. Give me stories of a man who changes a world through the discovery of a guitar.  Over the next few weeks, I will be reviewing each and every album from these two great bands legendary catalog. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I will.

BTW, induct these two in the R-N-R HOF!

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