Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for December 19, 2014

Rex and Herb, the Hosts of A Claymation Christmas Celebration 

[The One with the Doo-Wop Camels] -- The Winter Solstice is upon us and Christmas Eve is just a few days away. Oh! And our TVs are alive with holiday movies nearly 24/7. As I came of age during the 80s in Small Town, USA, Christmas TV specials were a huge part of my personal history. Now, most of the TV specials I recall from my youth were originally broadcast in the 70s. This is a fact that became only more apparent to me as I went digging for a show to blog about in this week's Flashback post. As much as I love Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, for example, it premiered in 1978. So I can't use it here ... unless I want to talk about its network TV debut in 1980 (I don't).

However, I do recall a fantastic Christmas Special from the 80s, one that had top-notch musical performances: A Claymation Christmas Celebration. Hosted by a pair of very Siskel and Ebert-esque dinosaurs, Rex and Herb, A Claymation Christmas Celebration featured an entire cast made out of clay! They jawed back and forth while they introduce videos of Christmas carols and standards. To date, it is still the only Christmas show starring dinosaurs. Let's look at a few performances from the show!

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for December 12, 2014

[Winter Holidays Week 2 Redux (again)] -- The nice thing about having a year's worth of blog posts is that I can reach back and pluck a choice one from the archives. Such is the case today. In December 2010, I did four straight weeks of music about "Winter Holidays." Two years ago, I did 25 Days of Holiday Music in addition to my usual 80s Flashback posts. So why not re-run a previous Seasons Greetings kind of playlist? To learn, or remember, what stocking stuffers I shared two years ago this week, read and hear more after the break.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Friday 80s Flashback for December 5, 2014

The Meyers say: "Get your moose costume and come over for drinks!

[Better Off Cusack] -- We're into the December stretch now, so the holiday season is getting into full swing. Lights and trees are going up, ugly sweaters are going on, and holiday entertainment is streaming forth. So let's look at a holiday movie shall we? Or, rather, the music from one such movie. Now, I'm not ready to focus on a holiday-themed movie, but I am willing to look at a flick that features a holiday scene. And that movie is the 80s classic Better Off Dead (1985). This John Cusack vehicle is a teen romantic comedy with a bit of a dark streak (but, really, what John Cusack film doesn't have at least a bit of a dark side, right?). Cusack's character, Lane Meyers, is suicidal after his girlfriend, Beth, breaks up with him. He wafts between attempting to kill himself and striving to win Beth back, but ultimately he falls for Monique, the French exchange student next door (not exactly the oldest plot in the book, but whatever). The film is chock full of one-line zingers and teen angst, and the lone Christmas scene is truly a gem. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is a bit of a snoozer. That's primarily because popular tunes that appear in the movie --  Howard Jones' "Like To Get To Know You Well", Van Halen's "Everybody Wants Some", Neil Sedaka's "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do", Paul Simon's "Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover", Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady", Frank Sinatra singing "A Man Alone," and Hall & Oates' "She's Gone" -- do not appear on the soundtrack album, most of which was produced, arranged, and scored by Rupert Hines. The album is heavy on synthesizers and light on hooks (and devoid of Christmas songs). However, there are a few standout tracks, even if none of them will really jingle your bells. So, which tunes from the Better Off Dead score made the score this week? Read and hear more after the break!