Metallica – Looking Back To Move Forward

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I have a few thoughts on Metallica’s newest album Hardwired…To Self-Destruct. I have been a Metallica fan since 1987 so new music from one of my favorite bands is generally a great thing. Hardwired is a very solid collection of diverse metal songs. I must say that their previous album, Death Magnetic, is a much better record. However, Hardwired is far from being a disappointment. After the long layoff between albums I really did not know what to expect. But if I’m honest, after hearing Lords Of Summer back in 2014, I had low expectations.

Let me start off with the album cover and the various band photos inside of the booklet. Whose idea was this, these photo montages are kind of creepy. Perhaps the album cover will grow on me over time. If done differently this could have been a cool heavy metal album cover, instead it looks like a poster for a horror movie. As a big fan of album cover art I am disappointed. Metallica really has not had a great album cover since   …And Justice For All, back in 1988.

Now onto the music. Metallica have composed twelve songs that not only manage to pay tribute to their past, but also show a newer side of the band.  Throughout the twelve tracks one can hear nods to their prior albums, especially Kill ‘Em All, Master Of Puppets, The Black Album and Load. For my taste there may be a few too many nods to Load, but overall I really like where the band is going musically.

I love the confidence and diversity that Hetfield displays as a vocalist. I have always enjoyed his vocals on the prior albums. He has been among my favorite metal vocalists for a long time. But listening to these new songs I hear a level of confidence, vocally, that was not as apparent on prior albums.

Say what you want about Lars Ulrich’s drumming and his timing issues, in a live setting. It’s true that he has some troubles live, but he is an inventive and dynamic drummer, in a studio setting. Lars has never been on  my list of favorite drummers, but he always keeps the drums interesting. That is definitely the case on Hardwired.

I applaud Kirk Hammett for continuing to push himself on the guitar. He’s not content to rest on his laurels or his considerable skills. He continues to learn new things and push his skills on the guitar. He still favors the wah-wah pedal a great deal, but after all this time I have come to accept this as a part of his guitar stylings. He must be given some credit for becoming a bit more tasteful with his wah usage.

Bassist Robert Trujillo is along for the ride helping to hold down the very solid rhythm  section on display  throughout the album. Anyone that can keep up with Hetfield is a solid player and Trujillo is up to the task.

Overall Hardwired…To Self-Destruct is a great metal album. It is far from Metallica’s best album and it is far from their worst album. Like all of their albums this is a team effort.  That being said Hetfield continues to be the star of the band. He has layed down some excellent rhythm guitar and he really shines vocally.  I applaud the band for pushing themselves to the next level. The songs may not be as melodic or the riffs as memorable as prior albums, but this it the newest chapter of this great band. As a fan I am enjoying the journey.

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Troy T.

Thankful In 2016, And Beyond

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Here it is Thanksgiving of 2016 and I am thankful. We as a nation have so much to be thankful for. That’s not to say that the United States of America is a perfect place, far from it. I would love to declare that we are a unified nation, but that would be a lie. This recent presidential election has really exposed how divided some segments of the population are.

However, regardless of how one may feel about the election results we all still have so much to be thankful for. The fact that we can vote for our leaders. We have the ability to publicly voice our opinions. We can criticize those same elected leaders without fear of punishment, or even death. I could go on and on in regards to the freedoms that we enjoy in this country.

As 2016 nears it’s end I do hope that we as a nation can begin to work on our differences and come together. In areas where we can not find accord I hope that we can peaceably agree to disagree. As a nation, united we will stand, but divided we will fall.

As I reflect on our country, at this time in history, things may not be ideal but I am thankful. May God continue to bless this great nation in 2016 and beyond.

Troy T.

The Genesis Show: A Tribute Band With Their Own Special Way

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The Genesis Show are a New Jersey based Genesis tribute band. I just had the great pleasure of seeing the band live at The Newton Theatre, in Newton New Jersey.  Their show is billed as The Wind And Wuthering Tour Live. After seeing the show all I can say is WOW!!!  What an experience, this band is phenomenal!  If you consider yourself a Genesis fan and The Genesis Show is playing in your area, do yourself a favor and buy a ticket.

Tribute bands can be hit or miss. Some look a bit silly trying to resemble the band that they are celebrating. Others just do not have the talent to adequately  reproduce the music. Some others may be talented musically but lack any kind stage presence. None of these scenarios apply to The Genesis Show. Musically they are phenomenal. The light show is great and they are a band that you will enjoy watching. In Jeff Giulanni the band have a charismatic and extremely talented singer/second drummer. The fact that he is very funny is an added bonus.

There are quite a few Genesis tribute bands floating around, and that’s a good thing. What sets The Genesis Show apart from others is that their singer is not trying to sound like Phil Collins or Peter Gabriel. He is not dressing up in costumes or trying to replicate the movements and mannerisms  of Gabriel or Collins. There is nothing wrong with these things, but there seem to be quite a few tribute bands in this vein.

During the show Giulanni stated that he and his band mates are Genesis fans trying to play the music of Genesis  to the best of their abilities. Overall they were quite successful.  Aside from a few minor sound and technical issues the band’s presentation  of  the Wind And Wuthering tour was progtastic. The band played for about two and a half hours and never seemed to tire. Some of the night’s highlights included Your Own Special Way, Supper’s Ready, Firth Of Fifth, The Musical Box (closing section) and Blood On The Rooftops (an added bonus since Genesis never played it live).  The band really excelled when playing many of the long  instrumental sections.  Giulanni joined main drummer Vince Corda for a thunderous double drum assault. The rest of  the band includes Steve McQuaid on electric and classical  guitars, Andre De Champlain on bass, 12 string guitar and bass pedal and Matt Thomas on keyboards.

In conclusion, I can not recommend this great tribute band enough. Take a little trip back and go see The Genesis Show.

Troy T.

Favorite Noirs For Noirvember

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I count Film Noir as one of my favorite movie genres. I have viewed quite a few, but I know that there are so many more films for me to see in this genre. Considering that I really became a fan of this genre about eight years ago I have some catching up to do. That being said, in honor of Noirvember, here is a list of my favorite Film Noir movies.

Blade Runner  (1982) – A movie that I have seen countless times since 1982, yet to this day I still see new and different things with repeated viewing. A sci-fi  film that is noir to the core. Rick Deckard is one of Harrison Ford’s greatest movie characters.

Out Of The Past (1947) – “Why don’t you break his head Jeff?” One of the many great lines uttered by the lovely Kathie Moffat. Robert Mitchum, the second coolest actor in old time Hollywood, after Humphrey  Bogart, is the doomed protagonist. If someone asked me, “What is film noir?” I would show them this fantastic movie.

Dead Reckoning (1947) – Allegedly Bogart wanted Lauren Bacall for this movie. Bacall was a far better actress than Lizabeth Scott, however Scott was better suited for this femme fatale role.

In A Lonely Place (1950) – Humphrey Bogart and Gloria Grahame have great chemistry here. As a viewer you really want their relationship to work out……but this is a film noir. Is it fate or just bad timing that rules in the end? Bogart plays Dixon Steele, a nice, likable  guy, when he’s not being cynical, sarcastic, hot tempered, paranoid, reckless and violent.

Double Indemnity (1944) – “I was thinking about that dame upstairs and the way she looked at me.” Walter Neff’s words after meeting Phyllis Dietrichson, one of noir’s great femme fatales. Little did he know where that fateful meeting would lead him. Contains some of the best dialogue of any film noir movie that I have seen.

Dark Passage (1947) – Bogie and Bacall together for the third time. A prison break, plastic surgery and a quest for justice. As outlandish as it is, I love premise of this film. Bogie and Bacall are great together, once again.

Conflict (1945) – There’s that man again, yes another noir featuring Humphrey Bogart. Sydney Greenstreet and Alexis Smith costar. One of Bogart’s lesser known movies, it features a great story, great performances and great production.

The Big Combo (1955) A great cast, great dialogue and fantastic,(in some cases iconic), visuals. Richard Conte is incredibly ruthless and sadistic portraying crime boss Mr. Brown. A surprisingly gritty and brutal film for 1955. Special mention must be made in regards to Ted de Corsia and Helene Stanton, both great in supporting roles.

T- Men (1947) A compelling story, a great cast and fantastic characters. Charles McGraw is great as one of the movie’s main tough guys, Moxie. Many great noir visuals and one of the most heartbreaking scenes in film noir.

The Asphalt Jungle (1950) – Fantastic cast, great story. One of the best film noirs around. As in many noirs fate wins in the end.

Detour (1945) – A fantastic B-Movie and one of the best examples of what film noir is about. If educating someone new to noir I would show them Out Of The Past and then Detour.

Troy T.

Chan and Stallone

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I am a movie lover who has an active imagination. I love to watch movies, but I also love to ponder on possible movies as well.  A few of my prior blog posts have illustrated this fact: see A Warner Brothers What If (June 23, 2016) and Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford: Never Too Late (August 19, 2016).

Jackie Chan and Sylvester Stallone have long been among my favorite movie actors. For many years I have desired to see them make a movie together. They have stated that they are fans of the other’s movies and on more than one occasion have expressed a desire to work together. In fact Stallone wanted Jackie Chan for one of The Expendables movies. Unfortunately  Chan declined, not wishing to be one of several costars.

Chan is currently 62 years old and Stallone is 70. Both are still in great shape, but well past their action movie prime. They continue to make movies so perhaps this collaboration will happen one day. Maybe the movie will be called Better Late Than Never.  Now of course if you wanted to give it one of those macho 80’s movie titles than perhaps you could call it Let The Fists Fly or Hit The Bricks.

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Troy T.

Philip Marlowe, Private Eye

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Originally aired in 1983 and 1986, Philip Marlowe, Private Eye was an early attempt at original programing by HBO. It ran two short seasons and totaled 11 episodes. Powers Boothe stars as Philip Marlowe, a wise cracking, hard drinking, tough talking, out for justice P.I.

Each episode features a tale very loosely based on one of Raymond Chandler’s short stories. Overall Boothe’s Philip Marlowe is nowhere near as cynical as Chandler’s version. Boothe’s Marlowe is actually a very likable guy. But he is tough as nails and able to take a hard punch or two. Whether he’s shot at, sapped or beaten by the mob he stays on the case.

The eleven episodes are filled with dames, dolls and femme fatales. The bad guys include henchmen, mobsters, gamblers, hitmen, dirty cops, corrupt politicians and gangsters. In each episode Boothe delivers plenty of hardboiled voice over narration to move the stories along. And there is an abundance of snappy Raymond Chandler like dialogue. The following are some great examples from the show.

“I’m a bad girl Mr. Marlowe. I don’t need money, men bring it to me, tied up with a ribbon.”

“Beat it before I punch your teeth down your throat. “

“I’ve got great faith you could be rehabilitated. After they electrocute you,”

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Overall I really love each episode, some are better than others but they are all rather enjoyable. As a bonus a great jazz score helps to set the mood of the episodes. The only real downside, at times, is the show’s obvious low-budget. In places the show is a bit hampered by poor 1980’s production values and mediocre acting by some of the supporting cast. These are really just minor issues. The star here is Powers Boothe and his strong performances really carry the series. The second season vastly improved on the production values and featured a more film noirish look.

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I was fortunate enough to have seen the original episodes back in the 1980’s when they first aired. The series, and Powers Boothe, made a huge impact on me. Boothe as Marlowe  is my favorite portrayal of the character. A few years ago when I discovered that all of the episodes were collected in a three dvd set I was ecstatic. Of the eleven episodes my favorites include The Pencil, Spanish Blood, Guns At Cyrano’s and Red Wind. I would highly recommend this series for fans of mysteries, P.I. stores, film noir and Powers Boothe.

Troy T.

 

Fan Art Featuring The Empire Strikes Back

There are some really excellent examples of  movie inspired  fan art too be found on the web.  I came across this striking  image online and I had to share it. I have been a Star Wars fan for most of my life.  The Empire Strikes Back is far and away my favorite Star War movie, as well as being one of my favorite movies overall. I am unsure as to who the artist is, but the work is phenomenal. I love how the image depicts a slightly different vantage point of this extremely pivotal  scene in the movie and the series. 

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