Friday, September 27, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW: Joan Jett - Bad Reputation

MOVIE REVIEW
Joan Jett
Bad Reputation
Documentary ‧ 1hr 33min
Release Date 9.28.18
(BMG / Blackheart Films)
__________

After 40+ years in the music
biz, Joan Jett has become an
iconic, all-American brand.
Apparently, her reputation
ain't really so bad after all.
__________

Details regarding this much-anticipated bio pic first were revealed onstage during Joan Jett's 2018 summer concert tour supporting classic rock stalwart, Styx. My interest was piqued immediately. However, despite my acknowledged obsessive passion for the iconic singer / songwriter / guitarist, the film somehow eluded me when it was released a year ago. In fact, I didn't finally discover it (on Amazon Prime) until last night. Was it worth the wait?

Directed by Kevin Kerslake, Bad Reputation is the compelling life story of rock trailblazer Joan Jett— from her earliest memories of receiving her first guitar as a little girl to her groundbreaking days as the co-founder of the Runaways in the '70s to her platinum-selling breakout success as a solo artist in the '80s to her 2015 Rock and Roll Hall Fame induction and beyond.

Joan Jett during her days in the Runaways - circa 1978
But offering more than heart-stopping recollections of rock and roll access and heart-breaking revelations of overcoming career obstacles, Bad Reputation is a heart-warming account of Jett's longtime relationship with creative and business partner, acclaimed songwriter, producer and manager, Kenny Laguna.

Jett's story is enhanced through the personal insights provided by those who know her best — past and present bandmates, including Cherie Currie, Gary Ryan and Thommy Price, rock legends, Pete Townshend, Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry and a host of others, as well as such current chart-busters as Billy Joe Armstrong and Miley Cyrus. Along the way, Hollywood stars Kristen Stewart and Michael J. Fox also reflect on their experiences of working with the rock superstar.

Laguna and Jett in the early days.
The Bad Reputation WOW factor amps-up further through often never-before-seen, high-energy live concert footage of Jett as a solo artist as well as with the Runaways.

All in all, Kerslake does an impressive job of recreating Jett's story. Although I'm not sure how I managed to miss the film for a year, I'm sure glad I finally experienced it. Well worth the wait, indeed! (3.5 / 4)

-Christopher Long
(September 2019)



SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)

Saturday, September 21, 2019

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK: Karla Bonoff "Karla Bonoff"

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK
Karla Bonoff
Karla Bonoff
(Columbia Records)
__________

Just so you know, I am NOT
addicted to Karla Bonoff. I'm
in complete control, and I can
quit anytime I want. After 40+
years, I just choose not to.
__________

As a music-starved kid coming of age in the Midwest during the early '70s, I craved the coolest chart-busting AM radio hits from the hottest singer / songwriters of the day — consuming a constant array of 7" singles from such artists as Carole King, Paul Simon, John Denver, Jim Croce and Carly Simon.

By the mid '70s, I was a drooling teenage music fanatic living near Cocoa Beach — devouring full-length LPs from the likes of Jackson BrowneBonnie Raitt, Neil Young, James Taylor and Warren Zevon. As a diligent student of emerging AOR artists, I began noticing several names listed frequently within various album liner notes — session players including multi instrumentalist David Lindley, guitarist Waddy Wachtel, bassist Leland Sklar and drummer Russ Kunkel, as well as songwriters J. D. Souther, John Prine and a so-Cal gal named Karla Bonoff.

Produced by sought-after multi instrumental session player, Kenny Edwards, 26-year-old Karla Bonoff's self-titled debut album dropped via Columbia Records in 1977. An opening slot on Jackson Browne's then-current concert tour, along with modest airplay of the engaging single, "I Can't Hold On," helped bolster the record to gold status.

The track listing already was familiar to many, with four of the ten songs having been covered by a couple of prominent artists in recent years. But in the day when new album options were plentiful, my personal funds were limited. Hence, I had to base my music purchases on sound criteria — the album covers. As a result, I missed out on Bonoff's debut when it was released originally. However, I did score her 1979 sophomore set, Restless Nights. With her long, flowing dark locks pinned back and dangling past her shoulders, and her delicate frame draped in a slinky, reddish pink dress, the seductive image of Bonoff adjusting her high heels on the front cover of Restless Nights was alluring — more than my 16-year-old, hormone-guided self could resist as I perused the bins at my local record and tape outlet. SOLD!

See what I mean?
Years later, I went back and rediscovered Bonoff's first release. While I remain an ardent admirer of her entire catalog, truth be told, it's her debut record that thwacks me hardest. A stylistic fender-bender somewhere near the intersection of Joni Mitchell Avenue and Aimee Mann Boulevard, just outside of an Emmylou meet-and-greet, Karla Bonoff is an honest and pure collection of heartfelt sing-alongs — one that feels as springtime fresh today as when it first arrived in stores 42 years ago.

The musician credits — also familiar. In fact, many of my favorite players of the day make appearances on the record  Waddy, Leland, Russ, J.D. — even celebrated singer / songwriter / multi instrumentalist Andrew Gold and Eagles co-founder Glenn Frey accompany Bonoff who manages most of the heavy lifting, providing lead vocals, backing vocals, piano and acoustic guitar.

A stunning classic, the opening track, "Someone to Lay Down Beside Me," drips with powerful piano-driven passion and heart-stopping lyrics of a love lostStripped bare, the piano / vocal, "Lose Again" is a transparent confession of dysfunctional love — and it remains one of Bonoff's mightiest compositions to date. Also covered in 1977 by Bonnie Raitt, "Home" is a charming, country-flavored delight. Equally noteworthy, "If He's Ever Near" reflects Bonoff's longing for love, while "Falling Star" reveals honest heartache — and it sparkles like a diamondDespite her notoriety as an acclaimed songwriter, another of the record's shiniest gems, "Faces in the Wind," came from outside writer, Craig Safan. However, Bonnoff succeeds in owning it famously.

Although I bought the record digitally not too long ago, I still prefer the vinyl experience. In the spirit of full disclosure, I'll admit that my LP copy now is beat to shit — so old and scratchy, I can only play it while it's wet. Yeah, that IS a "thing." But the beautiful, warm crackle actually enhances the authenticity of the music. That's a "thing" too.

In sum, Karla Bonoff is an all-American music treasure. So is this record. And more than 40 years later, it still hasn't lost its luster.

Track Listing 
(All songs written by Karla Bonoff except where noted)

01. Someone to Lay Down Beside Me - 4:06
02. I Can't Hold On - 3:15
03. Lose Again - 3:42
04. Home - 4:19
05. Faces in the Wind (Craig Safan) - 3:07
06. Isn't it Always Love - 3:08
07. If He's Ever Near - 3:17
08. Flying High (Steve Ferguson) - 3:29
09. Falling Star - 4:30
10. Rose in the Garden - 4:43

Running Time 37:36

-Christopher Long
(September 2019)



SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)

Monday, September 16, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW: Linda Ronstadt - The Sound of My Voice

MOVIE REVIEW
Linda Ronstadt
The Sound of My Voice 
PG-13 ‧ Documentary ‧ 1h 35m
Greenwich Entertainment
1091 / CNN Films
Release Date: September 6, 2019
__________

There I was, chatting with the gals
the other morning at my favorite
hometown salon. As I sat flipping
through the pages of a popular
show biz mag, draped in a goofy-
looking black salon cape, waiting
for the fresh, gooey hair color to
soak in sufficiently, I read of the
just-released Linda Ronstadt bio
pic. As an ever-faithful, drooling
45-year fan boy, it sounded like a
film I would have to see  pronto.
___________

Her voice was like that of an angel. Her records — equally magical, and now iconic. Simply put, she's a bona fide living legend — one who defined and defied musical genres from the late '60s into the early '90s. In the process, she blazed a trail for her contemporaries, as well as for aspiring future female artists. And with the new bio pic, The Sound of My Voice, the larger than life story of Linda Ronstadt finally has come to the big screen.

Directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey FriedmanThe Sound of My Voice opens with fabulous aerial footage shot over Mexico — the homeland of Ronstadt's ancestors. The marvelous-looking intro suggests the mighty scope of Ronstadt's amazing story — hooking the audience immediately, and keeping them reeled in for the next 95 minutes.

Linda Ronstadt circa 1969
(Photo courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment)
Most of Ronstadt's superstar achievements are known widely even by casual admirers — chart-busting singles, platinum-selling albums, sold-out concert tours, steamy magazine covers and captivating TV appearances — even a particular of high-profile romance. However, the film's biggest payoff comes through Ronstadt's less known back story — intimate accounts, shared by Ronstadt herself, of growing up in a home filled with eclectic music and an early desire to pursue her passion.

Ronstadt with Eagles co-found Glenn Frey circa 1975
(Photo courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment)
Based on Ronstadt's bestselling 2013 memoir, Simple Dreams, the film bursts with WOW factor. The rarely, if not never-before-seen vintage concert footage is absolutely heart-stopping — capturing all the fire and fury of Ronstadt live on stage during the apex of her career. Additional payoff is provided through the personal reflections offered from the friends and family members who know her best. And the list of Ronstadt's musical colleagues offering first-hand insights reads like a "Red Carpet" roll call from back in the day when rock was alive and well — legendary artists, including Dolly Parton, Karla Bonoff, Bonnie Raitt, Emmylou Harris, Ry Cooder, Jackson Browne and Don Henley, as well as record mogul David Geffen, celebrated songwriter J.D. Souther, renown producer Peter Asher, acclaimed journalist and filmmaker Cameron Crowe and so many more.

Ronstadt onstage with Emmylou Harris circa 1978
(Photo courtesy of Greenwich Entertainment)
The film opened in super-limited release on September 6, 2019. This past weekend (September 13, 2019) it opened in additional theaters across the country. Although it wasn't showing in my immediate area on Florida's sunny "Space Coast," it was showing at a multiplex, 40 minutes south in Vero Beach. Was it worth making the trek? You betcha! While I realize it's a totally tired term, the film truly is a "must see," especially for die hard enthusiasts. In fact, I would echo the Hollywood Reporter endorsement wholeheartedly — "The Sound of My Voice will make you fall in love with her all over again!" (A-)

-Christopher Long
(September 2019)

- LindaRonstadtMovie.com
- GreenwichEntertainment.com




SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)

Thursday, September 12, 2019

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK: YYNOT – “YYNOT”

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK
YYNOT
YYNOT
__________

A popular entertainment news
site I wrote for extensively over
the last couple of years ceased
operations recently. As a result,
in the next few weeks, I will be
re-posting some of the best bits
contributed to the magazine.
Here's one of 'em  from the
spring of 2018.
__________

Many of today’s most promising and appealing young rock bands are smeared from ear-to-ear with the stylistic DNA of legendary artists from the past. While the celebrated British brigade, The Struts, appear to be a legit, modern-day recreation of Queen and U.S. darling, Greta Van Fleet, “barrows” in abundance from Led Zeppelin, the Illinois-based combo, The Fantastic Plastics, points to Devo for their quirky, pop-driven inspiration. As for YYNOT, the four-piece American alliance perhaps can be described best as “the classic Rush you get (and crave) when you no longer can get classic Rush.”

Although the popular bi-coastal outfit first came together online as a Rush tribute project, the band shines brightest as its own original music entity. Case in point, their stunningly brilliant self-titled debut record.

First and foremost, YYNOT’s musical badass-factor can NOT be denied. Typically brandishing a vintage ‘69 Gibson ES-335 and a ‘77 Rickenbacker, songwriter / producer / guitarist Billy Alexander and bassist Tim Starace are the “real deal,” through and through. Similarly, the drum work of studio players, Chris Moore and Tony Morra, as well as official full-time member, Joel Stevenett, is delivered with total Peart-like authenticity. As for 20-year-old vocalist, Rocky Kuner, the California native is a charming breath of fresh air — a delicate delight — a musical gift from God. Her Geddy-inspired vocals are honest and pure — passionate and exciting.

But, as they say, “If you ain’t got songs, you ain’t got jack.” And in that regard, this nine-song set delivers in spades — residing stylistically somewhere between A Farewell to Kings and Permanent Waves — peppered to perfection with zesty dashes of 2112. Steeped in prog-style precision, the songs also ooze infectious, sing-along likability and will also fit comfortably in a commercial radio format. Of the record’s many highlights, “Invisible Heart,” “Kingdom Come” and “The Curtain Falls” serve as the most powerful earworms.

In sum, for true classic rock aficionados, the debut from YYNOT just might be the most irresistible seduction of 2018 — emotional feedback on a timeless wavelength, to be sure.

-Christopher Long
(March 2018)




SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)



Saturday, September 7, 2019

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK: Jimmy Buffett "Buried Treasure"

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK
Jimmy Buffett
Buried Treasure
(Mailboat Records)
__________

A popular entertainment news
site I wrote for extensively over
the last couple of years ceased
operations recently. As a result,
in the next few weeks, I will be
re-posting some of the best bits
contributed to the magazine.
Here's one of 'em from way
back in the fall of 2017.
__________

In a day when “icon” has become hackneyed to the point of impotence, the name Jimmy Buffett continues to define the term perfectly. An acclaimed singer, chart-busting musician and savvy businessman, Buffett’s greatest gift has always been his keen knack for storytelling  as a songwriter, entertainer and author. Through such classics as “He Went to Paris,” “A Pirate Looks at Forty,” “The Captain and the Kid,” “Tampico Trauma” and “African Friend,” Buffett has introduced us to fascinating people over the last 45 years, while also transporting us to exotic, faraway places. And it’s this master storytelling ability that makes Buffett’s latest release, Buried Treasure, such a uniquely enjoyable treat.

Produced by renowned Nashville-based musician, Will Kimbrough, Buried Treasure is much more than a mere collection of long-lost leftovers, packaged cleverly and fed to hungry fans. Discovered only recently, hidden away in a Tennessee studio “vault,” all 11 selections are culled from Buffett’s formative songwriting days during the late ‘60s when he traveled, recorded and performed in various Deep South locales  from “The Big Easy” to “Music City.” But despite being well-preserved and now glossed with studio TLC, what makes this set particularly compelling after all these years is the engaging song-by-song commentary woven between each track  narration offered by Buffett himself, in his candid, laid back signature style.

Available as a standard, single-CD with a 28-page collector’s booklet and as a deluxe CD / DVD combo with an expanded 40-page booklet, Buried Treasure truly is a “treasure” indeed  one that surely will delight both dedicated and casual parrotheads everywhere. MailboatRecords.com / margaritaville.com

-Christopher Long
(November 2017)




SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)


Tuesday, September 3, 2019

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK: Barb Wire Dolls "Rub My Mind"

RECORD REVIEW FLASHBACK
Barb Wire Dolls
Rub My Mind
(Motörhead Music)
__________

A popular Internet entertainment
news site I wrote for extensively
over the last couple of years
ceased operations recently. As
a result, in the next few weeks,
I'll be re-posting some of the best
features and reviews I contributed
to that magazine. Here's one of
'em — from the summer of 2017.
___________

What makes the latest from Barb Wire Dolls such an intriguing seduction is that it’s not a light or catchy record  it’s dark and infectious. In fact, delving into this 13-song collection is similar to discovering the diary of "that" girl in chemistry class. You know, the unwashed “weird” girl who’s never been asked to the prom, despite “engaging” frequently with half the varsity football team. But as one tears through the deeply personal diary, page by disturbing page, it becomes clear that her real life revelations are far more fascinating than any confessions fabricated by the Homecoming Queen.

Produced by Jay Baumgardner (Bush, Sevendust, Papa Roach, Godsmack, Three Days Grace, New Found Glory) Rub My Mind oozes gloriously lo-fi grit and is packed with sweaty, dirty, streetwise anthems reminiscent of classic underground college radio. Frontchick, Isis Queen channels the authentic charm of Siouxsie Sioux successfully, while Pyn Doll creates plenty of Gene Loves Jezebel-style guitar zing.

BARB WIRE DOLLS
“Back in the USSA” is a clever, guitar-driven opening track  one that sticks with ya long after the record’s 50-minute running time. Residing stylistically somewhere between The Clash and Green Day, “If I Fall” is also one of the set’s irresistible highlights. Another standout, “Hole of Isolation,” is seemingly transparent, edgy and lil’ bit unsettling  Drowning eyes, my blood is soaked in tears. Shouting walls escape the grave that's near. Doggonit, man  that’s solid stuff!

Although the band certainly possesses a penchant for creating punk-fused street rock, the true strength of Rub My Mind lies actually with the more polished-sounding, song-based cuts  FM radio-friendly tracks, including the Bon Jovi-flavored, “Fire to Burn” and the record-closing epic, “Waiting to be Lost.”

One of the hardest-working bands on today’s rock scene, Barb Wire Dolls can be seen daily this summer, live on the Vans Warped Tour Skullcandy stage through August 6th. 


-Christopher Long
(July 2017)



SUPERSTAR -
__________

SHOUT IT OUT LOUD -
(2014)
__________

C'MON! -
(2012)