Tag Archives: Hues Corporation

My iPod Has Issues – I’ve Seen Fire, and I’ve Seen Television

3 Feb

I am sitting by the fire and watching Top Gear. This show always brings out my inner race car driver. My wife is on the couch wondering why we are watching Top Gear. Apparently, it does not bring out her inner race car driver.

Earlier, we watched Bluegrass Underground. A few counties over someone has turned a cave into a concert hall, and some of the concerts are put on television. Tonight’s episode introduced us to a group called Davina and the Vagabonds. I thought they were pretty cool.Davina

The episode also brought out our inner musicians. Both of us wished we were outer musicians instead.

Before all of that, I put on my headphones, listened to the iPod and made out a test. In honor of Top Gear, Bluegrass Underground, my inner race car driver and our inner musicians, here are a few selections from the iPod that I had plugged into my headphones.

“Time of the Season” by The Zombies

“Without You” by Harry Nilsson

“Ballad of Davy Crockett” by Fess Parker

“I’m Gonna Catch You” by Hues Corporation

“De Guello” by Nelson Riddle

“Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins

“Try A Little Tenderness” by Otis Redding

“When A Guitar Plays The Blues” by Roy Buchanan

“If Anyone Falls” by Stevie Nicks

“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke

“Earth Angel” by The Penguins

“Electric Worry” by Clutch

“That’s My Man” by Marion James

“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards

“Hurdy Gurdy Man” by Donovan

“31 E. Blues” by Billie McAllister

“My Elusive Dreams” by David Houston and Tammy Wynette

“What A Difference A Day Makes” by Dinah Washington

“Clocks” by Coldplay

“I Want To” by Joe Tex

Now, I return to the regularly scheduled program.

Putting the Amp Back into Vampire

24 Feb

Last year, I saw Ozzy Osbourne in concert, and, like everything about the Ozzman, the show started out strangely. As the lights went down, movie scenes were shown on a giant screen with one caveat, Ozzy was superimposed into the scenes. One had him as a blue person from Avatar. As Ozzy checked out his new body, his arms and legs were not the only giant blue appendages showing. He was also placed in a scene with the Twilight girl. As she gazed into the distance, Ozzy slipped up behind her and said, “Vampires are (a slang term for female genitalia), I am the Prince of Darkness!” And with that, Ozzy hit the stage.

Now, Ozzy Osbourne is not a great philosopher by any means, but he is correct when he states at vampires are (a slang term for female genitalia). Things such as True Twilight Blood have taken one of the great characters of folklore/literature/movies and turned him into a dream boat for teenage girls in one incarnation and one member of a creature ensemble dropped into a southern gothic tale in another. How can vampires be reduced to such a status? Well, I am here to fix this and remind people of what a vampire is really meant to be.

The following is a list of real vampires who would not be caught “living dead” in a series of books with a girl named Sookie or in a series of movies that attracts squealing girls.

Eleonore von Schwarzenberg – Everyone should have the Smithsonian Channel because it has cool documentaries like The Vampire Princess.

Bram Stoker's Inspiration?

An Austrian princess, Eleonore gained the suspicions of her people as she battled cancer. Her physical appearance and her attempts to gain better health seemed strange to the people of the early 18th Century. Rumors fed into local folklore, and soon people began whispering that she was a vampire. Upon her death, steps were taken to make sure she would not awake. Some scholars believe her story was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s writings and use the deleted opening of Dracula as the proof. It seems that the original beginning had a vampire attack at the tomb of an Austrian princess.

Nosferatu– What would happen if this guy showed up at Sookie’s house?

Sookie! Sookie! Where's my cookie?

Ok, I have to admit that I have never seen this classic silent movie, but it is high on my list of things to do. After all, it introduces the concept that vampires can be killed by sunlight. And, the director thought Max Schreck, who played Nosferatu, was so ugly that all he needed was some pointy ears and false teeth. That’s a little more realistic that what is put out there today.

Bela Lugosi– The quintessential vampire for many people, Lugosi actually played Dracula on Broadway before he ever played the role on film.

The Curse of Dracula

On playing Dracula, Bela Lugosi once said, “It’s a living, but it’s also a curse. Dracula’s curse.” Perhaps no actor has been associated with a character like Lugosi was associated with Dracula. He played the character with style and a hypnotic personality. He didn’t have fangs because he didn’t need them. Lugosi had aspects that were more deadly. Dracula, one of Lugosi’s first films, was released in 1931, and he seemed stuck playing in horror movies from that point on. In fact, he returned to the role in an attempt to make fun of it when he appeared in 1948s Bud Abbott and Lou Costello Meet Frankenstein.

Blacula– Two genres come together as Blaxploitation meets horror. William Marshall plays an ancient African prince who is turned into a vampire by Dracula.

I'm Gonna Catch You

With a soundtrack featuring the Hues Corporation, the movie finds the vampire awakened in Los Angeles where he finds his reincarnated wife. In effect, he is played as a sympathetic figure who was a victim of the more famous Dracula. As a fan of Blaxploitation films, I have several songs from the soundtrack on my iPod and know that Blacula better be happy that he did not run into Pam Grier.

Lily Munster– Vampires are supposed to have a sex appeal that attracts their victims. That’s why we have the pop culture vampire problem of today. For my money, the sexiest vampire of all time appears in a sit-com.

Look into my eyes.

Yvonne De Carlo played Lily as a housewife trying to get through the zaniness of her husband and father. However, she also had a bit of spice because De Carlo simply couldn’t help it. Those who know her only for The Munsters have missed out on one of the sexiest and most beautiful actresses of all time. I must admit that the show never made sense to me because I never understood why she was married to Herman. Lily could have sunk her teeth into any man. (Sidenote, the Munster house sits on Wisteria Lane and is not far from the Bates Motel.)

Gary Oldman – Apparently, this is coming full circle. The list started with the princess that inspired Bram Stoker and ends with an iconic portrayal of Bram Stoker’s creation. Obviously, producers wanted everyone to know that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was based on the original work. Why else would they put Stoker’s name in the title? But, I am not honoring Stoker here. I am honoring Gary Oldman.

Nice Shades

I mean, how cool is that? Blue-tinted sunglasses. Top hat. Stick pin. He could be a ZZ Top song. But, the best part about Oldman’s version is his choice of damsels to quench his thirst. Winona Ryder is my favorite actress of all time. I’ve had a crush on her since Beetlejuice, and I am serious when I say that she can steal from me anytime. On top of having Winona hanging around, Dracula gets to have sex on a park bench with the hot redhead.

Look, I don’t know anything about Team Blonde Vampire or any of these other reincarnations, but I know one thing for sure. If I ever head to that little Louisiana town in search of Sookie, then this is the team I am taking with me.

Love, Peace and Soul

2 Feb

This morning the internet was covered with reports of the death of Don Cornelius, creator/host/conductor of “Soul Train”. Because this is the first day of Black History Month, I decided to begin my history classes with the news and a short talk on his influence on music and culture. Some of the students had heard of “Soul Train”, but they really didn’t know anything about it. I hope they do now.

During my younger years, I watched “Soul Train” every chance I could, and I am sure that I was not the only white kid to do that. I think the first attraction was the opening. The animated train chugged across the screen in bright colors while the high-pitched Sooouuulll Traaaiiinn came out of the speakers.

However, once the show started the real action hit the screen. Don Cornelius introduced the performers with a rich, deep voice. Dancers wore funky clothes and made funky moves on the dance floor and down the “Soul Train Line”. I was mesmerized by the people, the music, and the action. Being a red-blooded American male, I paid special attention to the female dancers. I never tried any of the moves because I didn’t want to bust my butt, but I wished I could wear the clothes and be absorbed by the music. I didn’t really understand the impact that “Soul Train” had on society. I only knew that it was having an impact on me and what I thought was cool entertainment.

As a historian, I have a deeper understanding of the times I grew up in and Don Cornelius’ role during that time. He brought the soul genre to a wider audience and introduced many Americans to a vibrant African-American culture. He provided a stage for young African-Americans to express their talents and beauty. There was more to people than what white America portrayed and/or believed. Some say that “Soul Train” was simply a black version of “American Bandstand”. True, there were similarities in show design and cultural impact. But, in my opinion, “Soul Train” was a lot more fun.

In coming days, there will be many tributes to Don Cornelius, and this post will pale in comparison. There are several playlists on my iPod with titles that only I understand. When I put together a soul playlist, there was only one thing to call it – “Soul Train”. As a small tribute, these are a few of the artists and songs included on that list. If I could organize an intergalactic concert in Cornelius’ honor, then this is the lineup of performers that I would choose.

The Love Unlimited Orchestra – “Love’s Theme”

The Temptations – “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone”

Curtis Mayfield – “Freddie’s Dead”

Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get it On”

Barry White – “I’ve Got So Much to Give”

Edwin Starr – “War”

The Five Stairsteps – “O-O-H Child”

Stevie Wonder – “Superstition”

Billy Paul – “Me and Mrs. Jones”

Kool and the Gang – “Summer Madness”

Isaac Hayes – “Soulsville”

Roberta Flack – “The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face”

James Brown – “Down and Out in New York City”

The Isley Brothers – “That Lady”

The Commodores – “Brick House”

Bobby Womack – “Across 110th Street”

Sly and the Family Stone – “Everyday People”

Hues Corporation – “I’m Gonna Catch You”

Aretha Franklin – “Chain of Fools”

Chic – “Good Times”

The Staple Singers – “I’ll Take You There”

War – “All Day Music”

Bill Withers – “Ain’t No Sunshine”

The Brothers Johnson – “Strawberry Letter 23”

Gladys Knight and the Pips – “Midnight Train to Georgia”

Jackson 5 – “I Want You Back”

Lakeside – “Fantastic Voyage”

G.C. Cameron – “It’s So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday”

Of course, Don Cornelius would come out at the end and sign off with his signature line, “I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul.”