Thursday, July 31, 2014

Thursday's Underappreciated Music: The Left Banke

It's the last day of July 2014, and it's also the last Thursday of the month, so it's time for this month's Underappreciated Music. My selection this month: the two most famous songs by the 1960s group The Left Banke.

The band has a storied and interesting history which you can check out here, and I recommend you do so. There were many band member changes that led to some interesting connections (including comedian Michael McKean and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith). The most important aspect of the band, of course, was the music, including their two big hits featured here.

First, the very pretty song in itself, "Pretty Ballerina." This is a beautiful and elegant song that doesn't get much airplay today, so I'm featuring it first. This is followed by their signature song, "Walk Away Renee." The greatness of the song speaks for itself.


Monday, July 28, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: The Beatles Forever 1977 TV Special

Welcome back! Sorry for the two week hiatus, but I'm happy to be blogging again. For this week's Tuesday's Overlooked, I discuss the obscure 1977 television special Beatles Forever.

This special, which aired Thanksgiving night, November 24th, 1977, was a tribute program to the Beatles, as you can imagine, with a list of performers that was quite a unique mix. Ray Charles, Diahann Caroll, Anthony Newley, Mel Tillis, Bernadette Peters, and Paul Williams were the star performers, and the special was hosted by Tony Randall (who also performed). To my knowledge, the special only aired once, and it has a negative reputation, and I can understand why. Based on the clip below, the special has all the trappings of a bad 1970s variety special. However, having a fondness for such kitsch, I find it amusingly quaint.

I'll let you judge for yourself. Enjoy! If you want more, you can listen to the entire audio portion of the special courtesy of WFMU-FM's blog here

Fun fact: this special aired exactly one week after the infamous Star Wars Holiday Special.


Thursday, July 10, 2014

AMC Pacer TV Commercials

A couple of weeks ago I posted a documentary for Tuesday's Overlooked Film about the late, lamented car the AMC Pacer. It was an intriguing look at a car that is often maligned today, but when it made its debut back in 1975, it was the hottest car on the market. Everyone was talking about it, and many consumers were eager to buy one. Part of this attraction to the Pacer was due to AMC's marketing of the car.

Below are several TV commercials selling the sizzle of the AMC Pacer. I love seeing this currently criticized product being discussed so positively back in its time. Plus, between the fact that it's a Pacer being advertised and the style of production and look of these commercials, they scream 1970s American culture, which I always enjoy seeing. I hope you do too.


The following clip isn't a TV commercial, but it appears to be an industrial film, perhaps for dealers interested in learning more about the cars they were selling. Either way, it's fun to watch.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Films: Philadelphia City Archival Films

This week for Tuesday's Overlooked, I present a small selection of films recently posted to YouTube by the city of Philadelphia's Department of Records. These films were produced by various city agencies and feature footage and promotion for the city dating back to the 1950s and up.

As a proud Philadelphian (even though I now live across the Delaware River in New Jersey), I'm thrilled to see these films unearthed. They are a window to the past of a city that's always been underappreciated. I once featured a tourism film before, and today's post is in that tradition. It always to amazing to me to see how much the city has changed since the times of these films.

Even if you're not from the area, I think one can appreciate seeing big city America the way it used to be compared to now. The films below, which vary in quality (the third has no audio), are just a sampling of what's available. To see the full current selection, you can visit the YouTube channel here.


Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Primary Colors

This week's Tuesday's Overlooked Film is the 1998 comedy-drama Primary Colors.

Based on the highly successful 1996 novel by Newsweek writer Joe Klein (though first published anonymously), Primary Colors follows the primary presidential campaign of Jack Stanton (John Travolta), a Bill Clintonesque southern governor. We follow the campaign through the eyes of Henry Burton (Adrian Lester), an up and coming politico still learning the ropes. The two are joined by Jack's wife Susan (Emma Thompson), James Carville stand-in Richard (Billy Bob Thorton), spokeswoman Daisy (Maura Tierney), and a firecracker of a damage control specialist named Libby (played with gusto by Kathy Bates). Throughout the film, the team handle various scandals (both of Jack's and his opponents), internal feuding, and the suicide of a key member of their staff.

Although largely marketed as a comedy (as you'll see in the trailer to follow), the movie takes the viewer through a wide spectrum of emotions, from amusement to disgust at the behavior of those trying to seek what should be the highest office of maturity and professionalism. While still clearly a work of fiction, Primary Colors gives a glimpse into just how dark the political process can be, and encourages the viewer to really think critically about who we elect to office, and forces the viewer to realize that the biggest strength and weakness in our public officials is that they are all too human.

Here is the aforementioned trailer. Thanks!