Friday, August 28, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - I Just Can't Get Enough

What better way to start a Friday than with a Retro classic from the early 80s from an influencial band that is still around today? Depeche Mode's "I Just Can't Get Enough" from their album Speak and Spell was the first single they released in the U.S. though they released two others songs before this in the U.K.

The song reached number 8 in the Uk Singles chart and number 26 on the U.S. Hot Dance Music / Club Play charts. This was the final song written by Vince Clark before he left to team up with Alison Moyet to form Yazoo (later changed to Yaz) and is the only Depeche Mode video to feature Vince Clark. It's also the last video anywhere with Vince Clarke featuring a full head of hair with no shaved areas. I tend to nit pic with my trivia at times.






Retro Bonus Video - It's a rare one!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Retro Celebrity Disses and Put Downs

When you watch the chemistry between a couple of actors at the top of their game on the big screen you tend to think to yourself what a wonderful life they must have and how great it must be to be working opposite other famous actors. You figure they can't possibly have the same problems you do in your job like dealing with the obnoxious slob in the cubicle next to yours or the whiny girl in accounting that always seems to be at your desk just as you're about to head out to lunch.

Well guess again. Although many actors have great experiences while filming with their co-stars, others have less than happy thoughts after the fact and aren't afraid to express themselves. Here are a few for your consideration.
Susan Sarandon once said of Mel Gibson, "He's somewhere to the right of Atilla the Hun. He's beautiful, but only on the outside." Ouch. I'm pretty sure Mel mentioned something about her outer beauty as well and how he wanted to go all Atilla on her but I'm pretty sure it's not the same thing.
Kris Kristofferson commented on his "A Star Is Born" co-star Barbara Streisand saying, "Working with Barbara Streisand is pretty stressful. It's like sitting down to a picnic in the middle of a freeway." Well, that paints a pretty picture don't it? He's not alone though. Tennis star Pete Sampras used to date Babs and he once noted, "She's what I call a pitching wedge. She looks good from about 150 yards away." I don't think in all recorded history has a woman ever been compared to a golf club.
Ava Gardener seemed a little embittered towards her ex-husband Frank Sinatra when he married actress Mia Farrow. Ava said, "I always knew he'd end up in bed with a boy." Meeeeow. Having said that, looking at the picture kind of makes it hard to dispute. Well played Ava......well played.
Frank Sinatra was one of the hottest crooners in music for the longest time until a good ol' boy from Memphis took the country by storm. Elvis Presley - nuff said. What did ol' blue eyes think of Elvis's style of music? He said, "His kind of music is deplorable, a rancid-smelling aphrodisiac." Seriously Frank, how do you really feel? Always remember, Frank may have been the Chairman of the board, but Elvis was the King. Thank ya vury muuch.
I would have asked what's up with Melanie Griffith's sunglasses but they really are the least of her problems at the moment. Here's what the Antonio Banderas loving actress said about working with James Wood, "It is like being pregnant. At first you are happy. Then you think it was a mistake. And in the end you want it to be over." Geez - where is the love? Who knows, maybe James is difficult to work with, but having said that, it's also true that James Woods is actually prettier than Melanie.

Before They Were Famous Part 3

Many a young actor has been faced with making commercials as a way to pay the bills that can hopefully lead to something bigger and better. If they're lucky, it will be an advertisement that is classy and have artistic merit that they can proudly look back on. On the other hand, it may be something they regret ever doing and hate anyone for bringing it up.

Here's a look at a few more examples of commercials featuring celebrities before they made it big - you decide what category they belong in as mentioned above. To check out the first installment, click
here and the second installment, click here.


Before hanging with friends as Joey Tribiani, Matt LeBlanc did a Heinz Ketchup commercial that was actually pretty cool. Even back then you could almost picture the classic line oozing out of him made famous years later on Friends, "How yooooou doin'.....?"




Bruce Willis made an appearance on our second installment, with hair, dancing away in a Levi's ad. Here he is again in a Seagram's commercial, still with hair, which illustrates clearly he wasn't afraid to ham it up for the camera.




Not to be outdone by her ex-husband, here's Demi Moore, before the half million dollars worth of cosmetic surgeries, doing her thing in a Coke ad. I think this ad is older than Ashton Kutcher...........just sayin'.




Finally, rounding out our retro look at celebrities in advertising is Neo himself, Keanu Reeves, in a Kellogg's Corn Flakes ad from 1987. I can honestly say I've never seen such a look of pure joy, such satisfaction (ecstasy?) from any one eating a bowl of cereal before.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - I Want You To Want Me

Okay here's the deal - more often than not Mondays kind of suck for various reasons and to varying degrees. What's needed is a happy, go lucky feel good song with no strings attached to help either jump start your day or to give you the extra push to help you survive the next few hours until quitting time. Allow me to help.

Cheap Trick's "I Want You To Want Me" was a song from their second album, Colors, released in 1977 but failed to chart in the U.S. It did however reach #1 in Japan along with a few other of their songs prompting them to perform a few concerts at the Buddakan in Tokyo which they ended up recording and releasing as a live album. The live version of "I Want You To Want Me" went Gold and finally broke the top 10 in the U.S. reaching #7 on BillBoard's Hot 100 in 1979 - two years after it's initial release.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Retro TV Ad of the Day - Smash Up Derby

These days there are so many regulations, safety standards and laws in place to try and keep children's toys safe from harming kids and even with all that in place, you still hear about toys being recalled due to risks of chocking or burning and so on. However, back in the 70s and 80s, there were toys that almost seemed like the manufacturers were trying to compete on developing the most dangerous toys possible.

Case in point was the Kenner Demolition Derby play set that featured two fair sized cars that were designed to blow apart into little pieces when they were smashed into each other at a pretty good speed. So whenever you smashed them together, little bite sized pieces of the cars with sharp edges would go flying in all directions, perfect for taking out an eye or being found by a toddler and choking on it. Having said that - you wanted one.......you really wanted one.



Candies You Grew Up With That May Gross You Out Now (Part 1)

Being a kid in the 70s and 80s allowed you to experience certain candies that may no longer be produced but some of the stuff you grew up with is still around and there are even some specialty stores and websites that cater to making available the treats of your youth. However, just because you can still get them, doesn't mean you should. Your adult palette is vastly different than your youthful taste of what was gross and what was really cool.

While eating some of the stuff on this list today may remind you of your youth, it may also provide startling and sobering realizations that you may not have been firing on all cylinders when making choices while spending your hard earned allowance at the candy counter as a kid.


Bazooka - Not only was this gum cheap, 2 for a penny back in the day although I may be seriously dating myself, but it also came with a small comic featuring Bazooka Joe, who wore an eye patch and a bunch of his freaky friends including Mort who wore his turtleneck pulled up way over his mouth. If you collected enough of them, you could send away for X-Ray Specs or a Spy Ring. Only problem was the gum turned to rock and tasted like cardboard in about 3 minutes.



Gold Nugget Gum - Although this gum suffered the same fate as Bazooka in terms of turning to rock in your mouth and tasting like paste in less than 3 minutes, it came with very cool packaging in the shape of a little sack similar to what prospectors or cowboys supposedly carried their gold nuggets around in. When you were done pretending you were a cowboy after all your gum was gone, you could find other uses for the sack. Many a little plastic green army man suffered a cruel fate while imprisoned in the tiny sack with a fist full of marbles.



Wax Lips - While we're on the subject of gum that tastes like cardboard, I submit for your consideration the ruby red wax lips. You looked like a Mr. Potato Head when you wore them and when the novelty wore off, you tried to chew it like gum and found out - it ain't gum. Can you even chew wax safely? I mean there are lovely strawberry scented candles out there but is anyone compelled to take a bite out of one and chew on it?



Nik-L-Nip - Speaking of wax, these babies were little wax bottles that you bit the top off of and sucked back the sweet elixir within. These things were so freakin' un-Godly sweet and partly responsible for the footmarks on the ceiling in my room when I was a kid. There's also a version that looked like little coke bottles and tasted oddly like today's Coke Black.


Popeye Cigarettes - What was cooler
than riding up on your banana seated bike, with hockey cards in the spokes, in your Fonzie T-shirt and Nike canvas high tops and whipping out a pack of Popeye Cigarettes and slowly pulling one out of the pack and raising it casually to you're lips, pretending to take a slow drag like you saw your dad do on a real cancer stick, looking at your friends and giving the thumb's up signal while uttering the coolest thing you could come up with back then, "Aaaaaaaaaaay!". Answer - nothing, nothing was cooler.


Fun Dip - Quite possibly the most impractical candy every marketed. Concept was simple. Lick the candy stick and dip it in the flavored crystals and lick the crystals off and repeat. However, it was hard to sneak a dose during class, and sharing was a bitch. Either you split the candy stick, which made it harder to eat, or you had to let your friend stick a wet finger in the pouch. Yummy.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - Baby Don't Forget My Number

The buzz that surrounded the sudden emergence of German dance group Milli Vanilli back in the late 80s was huge. Fab Morvan and Rob Pilatus, the faces (notice I didn't say lead singers) behind Milli Vanilli took the dance floors by storm when they dropped an album out of nowhere that spawned a number of hits, massive international sales, numerous American Music Awards and a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1990.

For a couple of guys who just won a Grammy - they don't look too thrilled.
Then it all imploded when it was revealed that they didn't actually have anything to do with the creation of the album nor did they sing a single note on any of the songs either in the studio or live. When producer Frank Farian put the project together, the original group lacked what he felt was a marketable image so he found Rob and Fab to front the group in videos not realizing the huge success that would come and the demand for live performances that followed.

During a "concert", their equipment failed which revealed they had been lip synching the whole time and their critics pounced on the issue and escalated it to the point where their Grammys were revoked and their record label not only dumped them but deleted the album and the masters from their catalog forcing the album out of print.

They attempted a few comebacks with them actually singing but they never achieved the same success. On the eve of the release of their final attempt at a comeback album that used the original Milli Vanilli singers as backup, Rob Pilatus was found dead in a hotel room as a result of a drug overdose. A problem he picked up after the scandal broke. Fab went on to be a radio DJ and even released a solo album but never achieved the same level of success or fame.

The original unmarketable Milli Vanilli


Interesting note - Frank Farian, the producer that was responsible for the whole mess has over 800 gold records and is responsible for some very successful German dance acts like La Bouche and Le Click as well as No Mercy and produced a Meatloaf album. He was also the guy behind the success of Boney M in the 80s.



The video may not prove they couldn't sing, but they sure couldn't dance either!


Retro Classic Bonus!




Is it me or does it look like they're lip synching? (Just sayin'.....)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Movie Rolls That Could Have Been

When you think of certain roles in classic films, there are actors that take the role and truly make it their own for all time. You watch the film and you can't imagine any other actor in that role because they just seemed to have nailed the character in every way and have in many cases made the character an icon who no other can portray.

Here are a few examples of casting attempts that almost changed some iconic characters in American cinema.


Al Pacino - His body of work is impressive and second to none. He's brought to life some classic characters in his career such as Michael Corleone in the Godfather, Tony Montana from Scarface and Colonel Frank Slade in Scent of a Woman to name a few. He was also offered, and turned down the lead roles in Pretty Woman, Crimson Tide and the part of Han Solo in a little movie that came to be known as Star Wars. "Here they come Chewie - Hoo Haaa!"



Gene Hackman - One of the most versatile character actors working in film today, Gene can do it all from drama, thrillers, comedy and has brought many memorable characters to life on the big screen. In the 70s, Gene was offered a role on the small screen for a new sitcom that was in development. Although he considered it, he eventually turned down the role of Mike Brady on the Brady Bunch.

Marie Osmond - One half of the most successful brother and sister duo acts, Marie Osmond had quite the fan base in the late 70s and early 80s prompting producers to offer her the lead role of Sandy in the original Grease movie. Marie turned the role down on moral grounds. She of course went on to be a regular performer in Las Vegas - a city known for it's high morality. Go figure.



Clint Eastwood - Clint brought the role of Dirty Harry Calahan to life on the big screen and gave the character the grit and attitude the role demanded. Before he was cast for the role, it was offered and turned down by John Wayne, Frank Sinatra and Paul Newman. It was Paul's idea to suggest Clint to the producers after he turned the role down. I guess he made Clint's day. (Sorry I couldn't resist that one)


Jodie Foster - No doubt Jodie Foster is not only a beautiful woman but an accomplished actress with many credits to her name. One of her most famous roles was Clarisse in Silence of the Lambs though she only got it after it was turned down by Michelle Pfeiffer. She was also offered the role made famous by Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct but turned it down obviously.

Chris O'Donnell - Chris had no problem accepting the role of Robin for one of the Batman movies that basically sucked and hurt his career to this day. He did give up a role in another movie that he thought would hurt his career although the man it went to had no regrets. Will Smith had no problem putting on the dark suit and sunglasses in Men In Black that Chris had turned down.


Kevin Spacey - American Beauty was a role that earned Kevin Spacey an Academy Award for leading man. It's interesting to wonder if the award would have been given to one of the other actors the role was offered to first. They were Chevy Chase and Tom Hanks.



Tom could probably have pulled it off though Chevy would have likely ruined the film and it would have taken on a more "Vacation"ish vibe. What a difference good casting makes!




Woodstock Dropouts - Bands That Said No and Probably Regretted It

Much has been written about the "Three days of Peace and Music" that took place on a 600 acre dairy farm just north of Bethel, New York. The Woodstock Music Festival took place 40 years ago this past weekend, and as the saying goes, if you remember it - then you weren't there.

Rolling Stone listed it as one of the 50 Moments That Changed Rock and Roll and for good reason. The lineup was a who's who of the best artists of the day with 32 acts performing in front of over 300,000 people. The movie and soundtrack of the event went on to be top sellers and some artists credit their success to their appearance at the event.

What isn't really talked about are some of the big names that decided not to appear at the event for various reasons. Some didn't really suffer much in terms of their own success but in some cases, it may have been exposure that could have taken them to the next level. Let's look at some of these acts:


Led Zeppelin - Their manager refused since they'd be sharing the spotlight with so many other acts. Instead they played a few concerts in Toronto on the fourth day of Woodstock.




The Beatles - Too busy putting the finishing touches to an album you may have heard of - Abbey Road.




The Rolling Stones - Mick was busy filming a movie in Australia and Keith Richard's wife had a baby that week.




The Doors - Jim Morrison bailed at the least minute because he wasn't a big fan of the big festival type gigs.




Tommy James and the Shondelles - They were in Hawaii at the time and could have made it to the gig but they weren't properly told what the event was all about. They thought it was a small gig on a pig farm.




Bob Dylan - One of his children got sick so he opted out.




Joni Mitchell - Even though she went on to write an epic song about the event, she never actually played or attended the event thanks to her agent telling her it would be a better career move to be on the Dick Cavett Show. People still talk about Woodstock. Dick Cavett - not so much.





Others that didn't make the gig for one reason or another include Frank Zappa, Procul Harem, Jeff Beck, The Byrds, Iron Butterfly, Jethro Tull and the Moody Blues. One of the strangest acts to refuse to play was Roy Rogers. The organizers wanted him to end the festival by singing his trademark "Happy Trails" but apparently his manager didn't think it would be a great idea. Good call.


Here's what that may have looked and sounded like. Imagine a bunch of stoned hippies rocking out to this:





Friday, August 14, 2009

Father of Electric Guitar Les Paul Dies (1915-2009)

It's a sad day for guitar players and recording artists with the passing of one of the originators of the hard body electric guitar. He was Lester William Polsfuss but musicians around the world knew him as Les Paul. He considered himself an inventor first and a musician second though he was an exceptional guitar player. In fact, he actually taught himself to play the guitar in order to experiment with some of his theories on converting an acoustic guitar into what we now know as the electric guitar. He became one of the most respected and innovative guitar players with many of the greatest guitarists citing him as a major inspiration.

Some other innovations Les Paul gave the world include multi-track recording, overdubbing, delay and phasing effects and also created some original guitar playing techniques used to this very day. He's inspired generations of musicians and many fine guitars still bear his name to this day while some of the earlier models are in the prized possessions of many famous artists who won't be parting with them anytime soon. Here's what a few of them had to say about Les Paul:

"Les Paul was a shining example of how full one's life can be, he was so vibrant and full of positive energy. I'm honored and humbled to have known and played with him over the years, he was an exceptionally brilliant man." — Slash

"Les is single handedly responsible for the direction and evolution of the modern rock movement. Period. If you are a fan of modern music, you owe Les Paul an enormous THANK YOU!" - Dave Navarro

"He was a genius inventor, musical innovator, and a wonderful person. Without the advances he pioneered, the recording sciences and the electric guitar would have been left years behind. I will miss him so much." — Joan Jett

“The music industry has lost a giant! I’m very saddened by the news of Les Paul’s passing. I was lucky enough to have known Les as a friend, and admired him as a musician and innovator. He forever changed the way we listen to music.” — Ace Frehley

Here are a few examples of his work from the man himself and a few of his many admirers:











Retro Video of the Day - You Sexy Thing

What better way to start off a Friday morning than digging deep into the retro archives? Hot Chocolate's "You Sexy Thing" was actually released as a "B" side to another song you probably never heard of - "Blue Night" since the producer didn't think it had hit potential. Further proof that anyone could make it in the music business back then.

You Sexy Thing reached number 2 in the UK charts in 1975 and number 3 in the U.S. a year later. It's enjoyed a resurgence in recent years thanks to a cover version by Dee-Lite and also being featured in "The Full Monty" in 1997 which prompted the song to chart again. In fact, it is the only song in the UK to enter the charts in the 70s, 80s and 1990s. Not even Elvis or the Beatles did that.







Thursday, August 13, 2009

Vintage Ads From A Simpler Time - That Are Sexist As Hell

In a previous post we covered retro ads from a simpler time that were among the creepiest I've ever seen. (Click here to see that post) Let's now take a look at some ads that were done in a time when it was considered a man's world and women were here only to serve men, be a perfect wife, do all the house work, try not to do stupid things and always be fresh and pretty regardless of what they were doing.

We all know that not only does such a Utopia not exist (I'm kidding ladies) but in retrospect, the people behind the creative direction of these ads really missed the mark not only conceptually but the ad wording (or copy in technical terms) is just plain awful. Clearly, these ads were designed by men, written by men, sold by men and bought by men.



"Husbands admire wives who keep their stockings perfect." I love how this ad implies that being married is no reason for a woman to let herself go and should always look her best. Especially since the guy took the trouble to put on a suit and tie to read the paper while she knits. What's going through his mind? "What's this? A run in Jane's stockings? Could I have married the wrong woman?!? How many more years before divorce becomes an acceptable society norm?!?!?"


You really don't need to read beyond the lead line to know where this ad is going. The copy goes on to say that the beauty photographed in the picture is "stacked and endowed" with the most refined developments for culinary perfection. I'll bet it is. Of course they are talking about the appliance but the double play on words is typical for the ads in the late 60s and early 70s.


So to recap, in the 70s, cooking was what wives were for.........and they better not have a run in their stockings while they are cooking and whatever they knit better not be in weird colors damn it!

Forget Victoria's Secret or a day at the spa - if you want your woman to look better, simply give her more to do around the house. Oh, she also needs vitamins apparently.


Thank god Delmonte made a ketchup bottle that woman could open when their men weren't around. Although how the heck is she supposed to open the mustard and relish? Were women condemned to have ketchup as the only condiment option when their men weren't around? The woman in the ad looks so shocked and thrilled she's liable to start putting ketchup on everything. Why? Because she can!!!!!



Apparently men were too stupid to operate Telex machines back in the day but they sure knew how to hire sweet operators. By the way, the price for the glorified word processor in the picture started at $6800. To contrast, I'm pretty sure my toaster has more processing power and it only cost $28 and it wasn't even a sale!


Newflash - if you have 14 fingernails, a dirty oven is the least of your concerns. You'll never get people to stop staring and good luck finding a decent pair of gloves. Also note the puke green color of the oven that was actually a very popular color for appliances at one time. Although I think they called it something nicer than puke green. Having said that, judging by the content of these ads, you never know.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Classic Retro Wendy's Ads

The late, great Dave Thomas created the Wendy's Old Fashioned Hamburgers franchise (who knew old fashioned hamburgers were square!?!) after making a name for himself with Kentucky Fried Chicken. Working with Colonel Sanders himself, Dave was responsible for trimming down the menu offerings, and focusing the restaurant on specializing on chicken and turned the business into one of the most successful fast food franchises in the world.

Taking what he learned with KFC, he poured all his energy into making Wendy's (named after his daughter) more than just a pain in McDonald's and Burger King's side. It was because of him that other fast food restaurants had to change certain processes and begin offering certain things that were never done before, like the larger sized portions (yeah - thanks for that Dave), salads and the super value menu.


The real Wendy (Melinda actually)


Wendy's was also pretty creative in the marketing department as well. Before Dave became the spokesman and created over 800 ads featuring himself, the company took some risks to get noticed in the burger wars. Let's look at two of these ads.

One ad that raised a few eyebrows was an ad that was set in Soviet era, cold war Russia. The ad showed a Russian fashion show where the woman of generous proportions paraded in the same outfit with only quirky accessories to distinguish evening wear from day wear. This hammered home the point that Wendy's was all about choice, unlike what Russians had to endure supposedly. This was done before the age of political correctness and before the Berlin wall came down but it's interesting to note that an ad like this would never see the light of day today.




The other ad gave birth to an 80s catch phrase from the most unlikely of sources. In 1984, Clara Peller ensured her place in the retro hall of fame with the phrase "Where's the beef?" The ad campaign, featuring the 80 year old, was one of the driving factors behind Wendy's turnaround and helped make the brand a force not to be ignored by the larger chains. Interesting side note on Clara, she was fired by Wendy's as their unofficial spokesperson after she made a commercial for a spaghetti sauce featuring the now famous phrase. I hope she didn't spend all the Wendy's cash in one place or finding the beef would be alot harder.
















Retro Video of the Day - Blind Vision

There are many bands that truly embody the 80s electro-synth sound and Blancmange would have to be high on that list. Riding the wave of the 80s electro revolution, Blancemange was growing in popularity alongside the likes of Depeche Mode, Ultravox, Soft Cell and other bands forging a new sound for the decade.

Although their first real major hit was "Living on the Ceiling", they did have some other decent songs that charted fairly well. "Blind Vision" reached number 10 in the UK in 1983 thanks in part to this creepy video. The group recently reformed and are working on new material for a new album.




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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Retro Arcade Game of the Day - Pac Man

One of the all time greatest arcade classics, Pac Man brought the video games out of the arcades and into the public consciousness. Even though it was critically not well received, it was the hottest selling game for the Atari 2600 and one of the biggest games in terms of revenues at the arcade for it's time.

The simple game play yet challenging levels meant hours of fun for people of all ages and was simple enough for anyone to play. Here it is again in the original arcade version. Just click start to begin and use the arrow keys to control the little yellow quarter bandido.




arcade


Retro Video of the Day - Can You Feel It


When they were known as the Jackson 5 signed with Motown, Michael Jackson and his brothers only received less that 3% of the Royalties so when they made the jump to CBS, papa Joes made sure the boys received a massive 20% which obviously changed quite a few things for the now renamed Jacksons and their family.

Even with the success of albums like Destiny and Triumph, Michael still cranked out solo work that outsold the Jackson's work by a significant amount. When Thriller was released, instead of going on tour to promote the album, he rejoined his brothers for the Victory tour which meant if you wanted to see Michael doing Billie Jean, you had to go see the Jacksons.

"Can You Feel It" was released from the Triumph album in 1981 and charted well in many countries reaching number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart until Cool and the Gang pushed them off with their monster hit, "Celebration". The video was voted one of the Top 100 videos of all time in 2001 for MTV's 20th Anniversary.





Retro '80s Fashion Trends

When you think back to the '80s you will no doubt look back on many things with fond memories and in some ways yearn back to those simpler times. Nothing really defined the '80s as much as the fashion. Some was really good, some - not so much. Here now is a look at some trends you may have forgotten about but likely were into back in the day.

Big Hair

When I say big, I mean large. Perm, fluff, spray - repeat. Not sure who to thank for this look but most videos from the '80s by female artists were well represented by massive hair. This was a particularly dangerous look if you were a smoker.

Rubber Bracelets

If you owned a rubber gasket company in the '80s you suddenly had a new demographic besides mechanics and plumbers. Suddenly teenagers everywhere were wearing little black rubber rings as bracelets (thanks Madonna!) and were asking for funky colors besides black (cue the neon again). The more you wore the cooler you looked (and the longer it took you to get ready in the morning).


Shoulder Pads

Not sure who was responsible for the linebacker look, but back in the 80s, both woman and men's jackets and suits would have padded shoulders whether subtle or extreme. Perfect for when a sudden game of pick up football erupts at a party.


Neon

Thanks to Miami Vice, neon came back in a big way in the 80s and our eyes have never been the same since. Neon was everywhere, not only in actual lighting but the colors of our clothing which is never a good thing. To make things worse, neon colors were mixed with some of the other trends on this list adding to the ugliness in many (who am I kidding?) all cases.

Huge T-shirt with Clips

For some reason, t-shirts came in only two sizes in the 80s. Extra large, and Freakin' Huge. To tame these beasts, girls would clip them up on one side with a huge plastic clip (probably neon!) to try and normalize the look.


Choose Life / Frankie Says / Don't Worry Be Happy.....

When you're wearing a T-shirt that can cover you and all your friends at once, the best thing you can do to distract a person's eye from realizing how strange that looked was to slap a phrase in huge, bold, black letters. Hit songs of the day by Wham, Frankie Goes to Holly Wood and Bobby McFerrin gave inspiration for the phrases.


Stone and Acid Wash Jeans

There was a time when Levis jeans became lame in the eyes of teenagers. Hard to believe but the in thing was stone wash and acid wash jeans where you basically took a good pair of jeans and splashed bleach onto them and then rolled them in a dryer with rocks to age them. The effect was a patchy mixture of dark and light colour and if you were really hip, they'd be ripped and held together with safety pins to give you that punk, Billy Idol wannabe look. Also - they had to be skin tight. If you could breathe, you were wearing them wrong.


Spandex & Leg Warmers

With the success of the "Twenty Minute Workout" and Olivia Newton-John's "Let's Get Physical" video, people everywhere wore spandex, sweatbands and leg warmers whether they worked out or not. In some cases it was a very good look if you were blessed with the right proportions - in most cases though spandex is not a good thing.........not a good thing at all. Unless you're going for the stuffed sausage look, stay away from the spandex.

Off the Shoulder Look

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jennifer Biels and the producers of Flashdance for giving us the sleeves-off-the-shoulder look and for making welding a sexy career option for teenage girls back in the 80s. Speaking for all males that were going through puberty at the time - thank you.......thank you very much.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Before They Were Famous Part 2

Here's the second installment of a glimpse into famous celebrities early start in show business thanks to the retro miracle of VCRs. When you're first starting out, any role you land to try and pay the bills is a good one.

In our first installment we featured the McDLT commercial with Jason Alexander. Here he is again in another commercial with Bruce Willis for Levis's Jeans.




Before suffering Growing Pains or sinking on the Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio was just a cute kid who liked to chew gum and listen to really big boom boxes.




The late Farrah Fawcett was one of the most beautiful women on television. Before her big break on Charlie's Angels, Farrah took really good care of her most second famous attribute besides her hair, her teeth.



Saturday, August 8, 2009

Retro Video of the Day - No Promises

If you've been following my retro videos of the day, you'll notice I tend to steer towards some of the more obscure and not overplayed tracks. Today is no exception. Australian synth-pop group Icehouse's first single from their 1986 Measure to Measure album was a sleeper hit called "No Promises". It reached #9 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock charts. This album featured the help of Brian Eno which was very evident on many of the songs on this album.



Friday, August 7, 2009

Steven Tyler Hopes To Walk This Way Soon

Steve Tyler, the lead singer of Aerosmith was showing his age the other night when he fell off the stage while doing his little dance during a performance at the"Buffalo Chip Campground and Trailer Park" - What the hell did I just type? A campground? My how things change. How do you go from playing the Superbowl to a campground?

The 61 year old front man was air lifted to hospital after suffering minor head, neck and shoulder injuries after falling off a catwalk of the stage onto some fans. Back in the day that was called crowd surfing but at 61, that's just falling into a crowd. The clapper can't be too far behind at this point.










Cartoon Flashback - Battle of the Planets

It seems that many of the cartoons kids watch today are based on Japanese Anime which all seem to have a similar look to them. Often times you see faces locked in an expression with only the lips moving (never in sync with the audio) and many scenes seem to be repeated actions from episode to episode. A time honored recipe dating back to the early '70s.

Battle of the Planets came out on U.S. television in 1978 as a repackaged version of the 1972 Japanese anime program Kagaku ninja tai Gatchaman (which translates into Science Ninja Team Gatchaman). Ninjas in space? Awesome.




Battle of the Planets was based on the story of five "remarkable" teenagers, Mark, Jason, Tiny, Princess and Keyop, known as G-Force (not to be confused with the hamster movie of the same name) who spent their days trying to protect Earth from the evil planet "Spectra" and other attacks from "beyond space". Their mother ship, The Phoenix, was aptly named for it's ability to transform into a fiery bird (a Phoenix to be precise) and basically become a bird shaped blow torch in space.


Remarkable Teen-Agers wearing numbers


Some of the elements from the original Japanese show were changed or removed for the American audience like profanity, excessive violence and the transgendered leader of the main villain Zoltar.


Zoltar - Looking fierce and Fab-u-lous
In the American version, the female portion of the script was rewritten as being Zoltar's evil sister (obviously bad parenting at work here). Because of the popularity of Star Wars, the producers also added an R2D2 type robot, 7-Zark-7 and made the show based in space as opposed to the Japanese version which was land based and a bit darker and more violent.


7-Zark-7 at the controls of his DJ booth?


The show itself had some decent stories though many scenes were repeated from episode to episode like the shot of the kids lounging in between missions or their interactions with 7-Zark-7 but overall the show was pretty entertaining. When compared to the Japanese version, the Japanese version has a more consistent story line and theme as opposed to the American version which seems to have some elements forced together to work for the American audience. If you have nothing to compare it to though, you loved it and probably remember trying to run home after school in time to catch another episode of Battle of the Planets - even though you probably saw each episode about 50 times!


Retro Video of the Day - Rockit / Holiday

Herbie Hancock is an accomplished Jazz keyboard player who in 1983 released a real groundbreaking track that changed a few things. "Rockit" from his Futureshock album was a very unique sounding song but what took it over the top was the futuristic and slightly disturbing video and the use of a technique that would eventually be better known as "scratching" as well as other turntable techniques. Many scratch DJs that made it big in the 90s and today cite Rockit as the record that turned them on to the turntable as an instrument.

The video was directed by Godley & Creme who were two of the creative minds behind the group 10cc and had a number of hits of their own during that time. The video won numerous awards including five MTV video music awards in 1984.

It reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Dance Club Play for three weeks until it was knocked of by a song by a new artist you may have heard of - "Holiday" by Madonna.


Retro Bonus !



Director John Hughes Dies (1950-2009)

Retro lovers around the world will be sad to hear the passing of one of the most prolific write and director of '80s teen movies along with other great comedies. John Hughes passed away yesterday of a heart attack while walking in Manhattan.

His credits as a director include such classics as The Breakfast Club, 16 Candles, Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Weird Science, Planes, Trains and Automobiles, Uncle Buck and Curly Sue.

As a writer and producer, the list includes some of the above along with Pretty in Pink, Home Alone, Maid in Manhattan, National Lampoon's Vacation, Some Kind of Wonderful, 101 Dalmatians and much much more.

Before his career in film, he began as a joke writer for people like Rodney Dangerfield and Joan Rivers. His impact on our pop culture is undeniable thanks to his strong emphasis on using pop music in all his films creating not only a great mood for the film but amazing soundtracks as well.

He will be missed. Here are a few memorable examples of his work.