I wanted to acknowledge the passing of Chuck Berry. Just about anyone who has picked up a guitar to play rock and roll owes a debt of gratitude to this man. His influence on us is immeasurable. He truly was one of the early architects of rock and roll music.
Goodbye to a true music legend, a pioneer and trailblazer. Goodbye to the great Chuck Berry.
One of my favorite aspects of the classic movie Casablanca is the relationship between Rick Blaine and Sam. Obviously the movie is of its time. When Ilsa Lund arrives at Rick’s Cafe Americain she inquires about Sam asking about “The boy who’s playing the piano.” It was not said in a condescending or malicious way, it was just how things were at that time.
With that being said Rick and Sam are obviously much more than employer and employee. It is quite apparent that there is history, trust and deep friendship between these two men. Their interaction with one another is that of mutual respect. Both look out for one another throughout the movie. Between Paris and Casablanca I am sure that they went through a great deal together.
Casablanca is first and foremost a war time drama with a romantic subplot. These two themes intertwine to give the movie its main storyline. But the bond of friendship between Rick and Sam is definitely one of the movie’s most interesting and least mentioned subplots.
I want to acknowledge the 67th birthday of one of my biggest musical heroes, Steve Hackett. His music has been such a huge part of my life for over thirty five years. I first became aware of him in 1981 after hearing the Genesis album A Trick Of The Tail. After fully exploring the music of Genesis it was only logical to look into the solo albums of the band members. Highly Strung was the first Steve Hackett solo album that I purchased. 1981 started a musical journey with the music of Genesis and it’s members that has continued to present day.
Steve Hackett’s unique approach to the guitar and to songwriting have had a profound impact on me. I would consider myself to be an amateur musician and songwriter. His work with Genesis, and more so his long solo career, have influenced me a great deal. I absolutely love his musical contributions with Genesis, but it was as a solo musician that he truly blossomed as an artist. Over the years he has established a musician vision that is uniquely his own.
I applaud Steve Hackett for truly being a progressive artist. He has not been content to repeat the past or rest on his laurels. Four decades into his solo career and he continues to take risks as he pushes himself as a singer, songwriter and musician. It is astonishing how much music is inside of this one man. With each new album he continues to delight me. Just when you think that you have heard it all from Steve Hackett he puts out an album like his last one, Wolflight. Released in 2015 Wolflight features Steve Hackett taking his songwriting and guitar playing to new levels.
His newest album, The Night Siren, is slated to be released in March of 2017. I am eagerly awaiting the opportunity to plunge into his newest collection of songs. For some time Steve Hackett has been one of the few music artists that I trust. Whatever musical journey that he opts to go on I am right there along for the ride. Over the course of this long journey I can honestly say that he has disappointed me only twice. I was extremely underwhelmed by the albums Tribute (2008) and Beyond The Shrouded Horizon (2012). The albums are not bad, they are just not up to his usual standards. I would definitely rank them as my least favorite albums in his catalog. On the flip side his 1993 release Guitar Noir is my favorite of his solo albums. I would also rank it as my favorite album by any artist.
I will now proceed to wrap this up by listing my favorite songs by Steve Hackett. With over twenty studio albums to his credit picking favorites could be a difficult task. After some very deep thought, here are my top twelve favorite songs by Steve Hackett. Of course this list is subject to change over time.
Walking Away From Rainbows
Valley Of The Kings
The Virgin And The Gypsy
Hoping Love Will Last
Take These Pearls
I just want to acknowledge the passing of actor Richard Hatch, best known for his role on the original Battlestar Galactica. The show aired on television in 1978, a year after the great success of Star Wars: A New Hope. All these years later it remains one of my all time favorite television shows. Richard Hatch is a big reason for that. His portrayal of Captain Apollo really helped to elevate an already great show. Battlestar Galactica had a great cast, which included Jane Seymour, Lorne Greene and Dirk Benedict, which was led admirably by Richard Hatch.
This great show was on the air for only one season, but what a season it was. It goes down as one of the great science fiction shows on television. It contained great characters, great storylines and incredible special effects. But the focal point of the show was always on the characters and their relationships with one another. I applaud Richard Hatch’s effects over the years as he attempted to keep the show alive, despite being shot down numerous times.
Although he had a long and varied acting career, he will forever be known to me for part in Battlestar Galactica. Goodbye Richard Hatch.
As a fan of progressive rock I am well aware of the importance of John Wetton. However, outside of his work with Steve Hackett I do not own any of his music. Of course I have heard some of his work with King Crimson and U.K. in the 1970’s and Asia in the 1980’s.
It’s his work with Steve Hackett, when Wetton toured as part of his band in the late 1990’s, that I am most familiar with. The set list was mostly Steve Hackett and Genesis songs. But also included were songs from Wetton’s past, including The Court Of The Crimson King, Battle Lines and Heat Of The Moment. One of the things that impressed me about Wetton was how dignified he looked on stage singing and playing the bass. He also brought a different feel to some of the classic Genesis songs that was rather refreshing. In 2012 Wetton lent his vocals to Steve Hackett’s reworking of the Genesis classic Afterglow. This live rendition seems like an appropriate song to end this tribute.
I just wanted to acknowledge the sixty sixth birthday of one of my musical heroes, Phil Collins. His music has been a large part of the soundtrack of my life for a long time. His work as a singer, drummer, songwriter, pianist and producer have brought a great deal of joy to my life.
My introduction to Phil Collins came in 1981, thanks to MTV and the music video for the Genesis song Abacab. I was immediately hooked and soon discovered other Genesis music videos for the songs No Reply At All, Man On The Corner, Keep It Dark, Misunderstanding and Follow You Follow Me. Also in heavy rotation on MTV were music videos for the songs I Missed Again and In The Air Tonight, from his solo debut Face Value. I have been a huge lover of the music of Genesis and Phil Collins ever since.
His Birthday is a great opportunity for me to reflect on his music and his career. 2017 promises more live performances from Phil Collins. He has hinted at the possibility of new music in the future. If he never records another note of music in his lifetime I will be satisfied. As a fan I feel that I can not ask for more from this man. He has given up so much for his love of music. He has spent a lifetime creating an impressive back catalog of music. But that work came at a heavy cost to him emotionally and physically. If he does one day decide to create new music I will be ecstatic. If not I will continue to enjoy his lifetime labor of love, his wonderful music. With that, here are my top ten favorite Phil Collins solo songs.
We Fly So Close
I Don’t Care Anymore
If Leaving Me Is Easy
You Know What I Mean
Can’t Find My Way
Against All Odds
In The Air Tonight
Come With Me
The Same Moon
I consider myself to be a huge fan of Humphrey Bogart’s movies. Of the seventy plus movies that he appeared in I have watched all but six of them. I own quite a few of his movies as well, including The Harder They Fall, his last movie. I must confess that there is a part of me that refuses to watch The Harder They Fall. I have owned the DVD for a few years now. I was fortunate to have found the DVD at a great price online. But it remains in it’s case waiting to be watched.
My initial intentions were that I would view The Harder They Fall once I had seen all of Bogart’s previous films. On the surface this was not an unrealistic goal since I had seen the majority of his movies at that point. However I ran into a bit of a problem. Some of his earliest movies are not available on DVD. In many of these movies Bogart had third, fourth or fifth billing. This was not an issue for me, I wanted to view the films and see his evolution as an actor. Over time I realized that this quest may not come to a completion. I watched as many of his movies as I could, with the intention of one day watching The Harder They Fall.
A few years have passed and I have yet to watch his last film. You might ask why. Well it’s a bit silly. Part of me feels that if I watch The Harder They Fall then it will be over. I know that Humphrey Bogart died in 1957, so his career has been done for a long time. So what exactly will be over? I suppose it’s the thrill of discovering and viewing his filmography, that will be over. Although I regularly re-watch many of his films, once I watch The Harder They Fall there will not be any unseen movies starring Humphrey Bogart for me to discover. It all sounds a bit silly, but I’m being honest. In those very early films he was just a costar or a supporting player. He may appear in the movies but they are not Humphrey Bogart movies.
I will watch The Harder They Fall one day, I would say that it is well overdue. The other films that he costarred in that I have not seen are Up The River, A Devil With Women, Body And Soul , Bad Sister (Bette Davis’ debut movie) and A Holy Terror. Hopefully one day I can complete my quest of watching Bogart’s entire filmography. It would be fantastic if a company released them all in a DVD collection, The Unseen Bogart Films. For now at the start of the new year perhaps I should resolve to watch The Harder They Fall in 2017.