Thursday, December 07, 2017

MA-89 - It Extruded from the 1980s

            Here’s another compilation of some of my favorite songs from that wacky-n-wonderful musical time, the 1980s, when MTV and my children were conceived.  Here’s the tracklist:

01. I Need That Record - The Tweeds (3:20)  1980
02. Chinese I's (Here Come the Minutemen) - Venetians (3:49)  1983
03. Vaguely Human - Flesh for Lulu (3:25)  1985
04. Forever Young - Alphaville (3:47)  1984
05. Equal/Equality - The Parachute Club (5:02)  1984
06. Cathode Mamma - Krisma (3:15)  1980
07. Flatland - November Group (2:49)  1982
08. Room That Echoes - Peking Man (3:51)  1986
09. Person to Person - The Signals (2:44)  1984
10. 1,000 Gene Autrys - Scattered Order (4:36)  1985
11. Study Up! - Mechanical Servants (3:42)  1980
12. Kids In America - Kim Wilde (3:29)  1981
13. There Was a Time - One to One (3:19)  1986
14. I Don't Wanna Die - The 4-Skins (3:13)  1982
15. Pac-Man Fever - Buckner and Garcia (3:55)  1981
16. Time to Get Up - Los Microwaves (3:04)  1981
17. You Pull Me Down - The Stabilizers (4:04)  1986
18. Cry Boy Cry - Blue Zoo (4:23)  1982
19. Did You Ever - The Cichlids (2:18)  1980
20. Don't Call Me Baby - Voice of the Beehive (3:07)  1988
21. All the Time in the World - The Crooks (3:03)  1980
22. C·30 C·60 C·90 Go! - Bow Wow Wow (3:03)  1980

So many wonderful songs ...
Track 3 ... Don’t wake up that thing in the room, it’s only ... vaguely .. human ...
Track 5 ... Another anthem for the world which should be.  I wanna live equal and equally!
Track 13 ... Something in the progression, or singer’s voice, something is so moving, to this nostalgic cat.
Track 15 ... of course, this was notorious and inescapable ... but so catchy and sort-of witty, like the best cash-ins.
Track 16 ... My favorite part is in the fadeout ... “If you wanted me to get up, why did you let me go to sleep?”
Track 22 ... The debut single from Bow Wow Wow.  Its subject: the scandal of home taping.  It was released in July, 1980, as the world’s first cassette single.  According to one blog post, “The B-Side of the single was blank, presumably so the fan who bought it could tape any other song they wanted onto it. Their label EMI weren’t too pleased about the song’s subject matter.”  It’s kind of surprising that, given the controversy it stirred at the time, this song has only been sampled once, according to Who Sampled Who, in 2009 by White Rabbits.  Another reminiscence about this song may be found here.

            Well, that’s it for this week, kiddies.  See you back here next Thursday, for another instalment in this Yuletide season of compilation-sharing!

Monday, December 04, 2017

An Open Secret, Part 3

An Open Secret
by Mark Alfred

            5)        In April, 1962’s Superman #152, Superman has agreed to wear a clock-faced medallion during a money-raising drive for the Combined Charities of Metropolis.  Unbeknownst to him, two members of the Anti-Superman gang have “fixed the clock sign Superman’s wearing so that it contains midget gimmicks that send TV color impulses to our private screen!  We’ll keep tuned in till we learn his Secret Identity!”  Just as they’d hoped, the big reveal takes place when Superman arrives at Clark’s apartment.  This disaster is remedied by a trick involving a Superman robot and false Kryptonite, enabling our hero to trap and fool the bad guys.

            6)        In May, 1967, Superman #196 tells how Clark becomes the surprise selection to play Superman, in movie star Lyrica Lloyd’s new movie.  Soon ensues a comedy of errors involving “faked, special-effects” super powers.  The light deceptive tone turns more serious when Clark falls for his beautiful leading lady.  He proposes marriage, revealing his Secret Identity, provoking her to faint – from the shock, he supposes.  But when she revives, Lyrica tells the bad news:  While on location in Africa, she contracted a rare jungle disease.  “That means ... my hours are numbered too!”

            However, she says consolingly, “I can die happy, Superman, knowing I would have been your wife ... if fate had been kinder!”  She soon dies in Superman’s arms (no Cutting Crew jokes, please), leaving the heartbroken Man of Steel to reflect, “My Secret Identity will go to the grave with her!  But that’s no consolation to me!  Goodbye, Lyrica, my dearest – forever!”
            Years before, Superboy had undergone a sadly similar experience in Smallville.  The cover story of Superboy #77, December, 1959, tells of “Superboy’s Best Friend.”  After his life is saved by the Boy of Steel, new kid in town Freddy Shaw had become a best pal for the Lad of Steel.  This friendship eventually prompted Superboy’s revelation of his Terran identity.  Freddy helped cover for some of Clark’s quick-change departures, prompting the thought, “He understands I must’ve taken care of some emergency!  It’s good to have a friend who knows your secrets!”

            However, before long Freddy developed dizzy spells which manifested a fatal, feverish illness.  At the end of this tale, Freddy had been laid to rest, and Clark sadly recalled “my first and last best friend!”

            7)  The scene:  a fifth-floor window ledge.  The players:  Clark Kent and Torpedo the mad bomber, caught in the act of planting his 29th device.  When Torpedo threatens to toss his bomb into the gathered crowd below, Kent claims an attack of vertigo, and ducks into a darkened room.  He doesn’t know that he’s being spied upon by two baddies, Maxie and the Professor.  They watch Kent closely:  “No look of fear ... no sign of dizziness ... He isn’t pale! ... Now what would you conclude ... if, in an emergency like this, Kent disappeared into that room and Superman flew out of it?”  Yes, this happens before their eyes; the Professor’s years of investigations have paid off in a big way.
            En route to jail via the Superman Express, the Torpedo vows to kill Kent, the man who tracked him down.  Meanwhile, the Professor sets into motion an elaborate blackmail scheme which includes plastic surgery to make Maxie’s face a duplicate of Kent’s phizzog.  The doctor who performs this service is one Marlene, who gloats, “My mother was Hitler’s greatest plastic surgeon ... And Mama taught me everything before she died!”
            Through a clever ruse, the Maxie-Marlene-Professor axis of evil is soon privy to not only Superman’s, but also Supergirl’s Secret Identities.  They decide to extort the Girl of Steel into robbery for them.  But the Maid of Might rebuffs them after much worry and consideration:  “Do your worst!  At least Superman can only call me a bungler, not a thief!”

             However, on their way back to town after their secret Supergirl rendezvous, and ready to reveal Kryptonian secrets, the three are slowed by a flat tire.  Maxie, the man with Clark Kent’s face, gets out and flags down a passing motorist for help.  Little does he know that the oncoming car is being driven by the Torpedo, who has broken out of the slammer to kill Kent.  One bomb explosion later, the Kryptonian Cousins’ secrets are safe.
            This twisted saga of mutilation, Nazi-esque sadism, and backfired revenge is told in February, 1967’s Action #346.

            8)        Action #340, cover-dated August, 1966, introduced “the most dangerous villain Superman has ever faced,” the Parasite.  The story begins as Jensen, a greedy, lowlife lab worker, comes upon a container marked “Radioactive Waste.”  The foolish would-be felon reasons to himself, “I heard they used to ship payrolls like this to fool crooks!”  WRONGO, sport!  The strange energy which explodes from the opened canister bathes the hapless Jensen in “strange, alien rays, which penetrate every cell of his body!”

            Upon recovering consciousness, Jensen finds that he can now absorb energy from other people.  In fact he must do so:  He quickly burns off that force, and must have more.  Jensen discovers that his leechlike abilities allow him to likewise acquire intelligence and skills from his victims.  Soon he hits the jackpot when he encounters Superman, learning the Secret Identity.  The Parasite realizes, in the mighty battle which ensues, that he might not have an audience for this world-shaking revelation:  “How can I threaten to expose Superman’s identity when I weakened everyone within hearing into unconsciousness?”  meanwhile the Man of Steel presses the battle until he falls, drained, before the malefactor ... just as planned.
            Suddenly, the Parasite’s body begins to glow; quickly it dissolves in a weird implosion of energy.  A recovering Superman reflects, “Though his parasitic ability allowed him to sap my power, his body was still mortal!  It was too frail to contain the awesome energies he absorbed!”

            Silver Age aside:  Many Baby Boomers will recall Filmation’s faithful adaptation of this Jim Shooter story, which first aired in December, 1966.  Above is a frame-grab of the Parasite just before he goes Super-nova. 
      And, what pre-teen who watched the Filmation episode can forget Bud Collyer’s doom-filled ending narration?  “He didn’t realize that an Earth man’s body was too frail to contain the super power of a man from Krypton!”

End of Part Three
See you next Monday for more!

See you Thursday with a new music compilation!
All original content
© by Mark Alfred