Saturday, 4 September 2021

space: 1999

Though only running for two seasons, the titular BBC programme (renewed the second year by ITC Entertainment) that premiered on this day in 1975 was quite ahead of its time and established among many other tropes the “cold open” scene that preceded the credit sequence, itself boldly a spin-off of a narrative in the Supermarionation production Thunderbirds by the same creative duo Sylvia and Gerry Anderson in non-puppet form. A radioactive waste dump on the far side of the Moon, detected by the research staff at Lunar Base Alpha, experiences a magnetic anomaly, which causes the material to reach critical mass and triggers a thermonuclear explosion 13 September 1999 and propels the Earth’s satellite into deep space. This spaceship Moon wanders into a black hole and several “space warps” to continue its exploration of the Cosmos.

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

spare him his life from this monstrosity

Starting on this day in 1975 and continuing for the next three weeks, Queen recorded their innovative, multi-segmented epic with ballad, guitar solo and mock opera—and notably for the genre, classified as symphonic rock by some, without refrain, Bohemian Rhapsody (previously), at Rockfield studios in the Welsh town of Monmouth. The operatic conceits, the chorus and the braggadocio, were present in some of Freddie Mercury’s earlier compositions, notably “My Fairy King” and bandmates, their individual vocal part drilled over the course of weeks ten to twelve hours per session, laying down successive overdubbed tracks.

Monday, 9 August 2021

typically tropical

Best remembered for the 1975 Song of the Summer “Barbados,” reaching its pinnacle of popularity on this day those decades hence, the duo comprised of recording engineers Jess Calvert and Max West, the track was covered by the Vengaboys in 1999 as “We’re Going to Ibiza.” Typically Tropical performed the song on Top of the Pops, rounding out an album called Barbados Sky, and three years later received a song writing credit for the Hot Gossip disco number “I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper,” inspired by the Star Wars craze. “…Or are you like a droid—devoid of emotion?”

Sunday, 11 July 2021

would you stay if she promised you heaven?

The eponymous tenth studio album from Fleetwood Mac released on this day in 1975—referred to as their White Album—includes such hit tracks as “Say You Love Me” and “Over My Head” and the below single who takes its title from a strong-minded Otherworld figure from the Welsh legendarium the Mabinogion. Reportedly live performances of Rhiannon took on the earnest theatricality of a possession and exorcism with Stevie Nicks more engrossed by the story of the character the more she learned about her.

Sunday, 30 May 2021

music for grocery stores

We really enjoyed this ambient soundtrack, via r/ Obscure Media, to accompany one’s shopping list in this 1975 muzak selection Sounds for the Supermarket. The track titles that I suppose match the arc of the hunter-gatherer quest and could be suited to some independent gaming adventure are a bit strange and evocative: Mister Satisfied, Mister Lucky, To a Dark Lady, A Touch of Class, Harvey Wallbanger, Delicate Treasures, Departure, etc.

Saturday, 6 March 2021

lone gunman

Awarded a contract to conserve and present the twenty-seven home movie filmed by Abraham Zapruder (previously) of the Kennedy assassination due to his experience and expertise in converting eight-millimetre footage into theatrical quality video, processing film for the 1969 documentary on Woodstock, technician and author Robert J. Groden (*22 November 1945) became obsessed with conspiracy theories (self-fulfilling in part for feeling persecuted and censored for doing what’s to follow) surrounding the president’s murder, going on to become a photographic consultant for a House Select Committee on political assassinations and a vocal critic of the Warren Commission, first had a national venue with the first televised presentation of the Zapruder film on this day in 1975. Appearing opposite comedian and activist Dick Gregory on a show called Good Night America, hosted by Geraldo Rivera (*4 July 1943) whose more celebrated expose was the empty vaults of gangster Al Capone, Groden shared his personal, unauthorised copy of the film, marking the first time general audiences saw it in full.

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

show dna

Informed earlier by our faithful chronicler and now reprised for the cinematic adaptation of Larry McMurtry’s 1975 novel of the same name going into general release in US cinemas on this day in 1983, James L. Brooks directorial debut film (also writer and producer) has a throughline to the Simpsons. As a thank you gift for securing her and her production team an Academy Award (Terms of Endearment starring Shirley MacClaine, Danny DeVito, Debra Winger, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow and Jack Nicholson did quite well at the Oscars) assistant Polly Platt had procured for her collaborator an original panel of the comic Life in Hell—a bleak strip about a depressed, neurotic rabbit called Bongo, specifically one from 1982 entitled “The Los Angeles Way of Death”—as imagined and illustrated by Matt Groening. A year later, with a new television project, a variety show with a series of sketches, Brooks reached out to Groening about developing a series of animated interstitial bumpers between segments. Fearing loss of creative control over his original characters, Groening created a wholly new cast based on his own family, giving the world the Simpsons as a regular part of The Tracey Ullmann Show.

Sunday, 11 October 2020

studio 8h

For the decade leading up to the show’s debut on this evening in 1975, NBC had ran reruns under the title Best of Carson of the Tonight Show on the weekends to round out the evening’s programming until host Johnny Carson told network executives that he would prefer being taken out of the Saturday or Sunday schedule and save the curated segments for during the week to afford himself time off.

In order to fill the time slot, producers approached Lorne Michaels and developed the idea of a variety show featuring comedy sketches, political satire and musical and celebrity guests. Jane Curtin, Garrett Morris, Gilda Radner, John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, Laraine Newman, Michael Coe, Chevy Chase and Michael O’Donoghue were the premier comedy troupe of the show originally billed as NBC’s Saturday Night as rival network ABC aired a short-lived, awkward Saturday Night Live with sports-caster Howard Cosell—very much out of his element with this concept—and co-starring Bill Murray, who’d later join the cast of NBC’s revue to replace Chase after he left the show. The initial concept was to have a rotation of permanent hosts in Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor and George Carlin but soon changed the model to guest hosts once Pryor’s act was censored. The pilot episode also established the Weekend Update news segment and the first of the show’s recurring characters—Killer Bees.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

whyy

Still catching up on my back-catalogue of podcasts from over the holidays, this new-to-me feature might be old news but I found it pretty keen that the radio interview show par excellence Fresh Air has made its forty-five years of archived material, some twenty-two thousand segments available and searchable by topic and by guest. Sort of like the Wikipedia feature that allows one to create a textbook or travel-guide, the website not only hosts the audio and transcripts of all the programmes, it also allows one to create a custom playlist for oneself or to share with others.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

lisztomania

The 1975 cult film by Ken Russell, a kiss-and-tell style biopic loosely based on the 1848 book by Marie d’Agoult’s sordid love affair with the composer, was self-styled as out-Tommying Tommy, the soundtrack vehicle released earlier in the same year starring Roger Daltrey as the Pin Ball Wizard, strikes us as something of a cross between Amadeus and Barbarella and was the first movie screened with Dolby Stereo Surround Sound.
Taking its title from the observation of author Heinrich Heine of the overwhelming, swooning adoration that the public had for the virtuoso performances, Lisztomanie, Daltrey portrayed the main character as a charismatic and compelling rock-star and features the music of the prog-rock band Yes (rather than The Who) adapting samples from compositions by Liszt, Mahler and Wagner in the film’s score. Though critical reception was generally not positive and it was not the movie that Russell wanted to make, his druthers being for a picture on the life of George Gershwin starring Al Pacino or at least a project featuring Mick Jagger as the Hungarian composer, the concept is worth entertaining and reflecting on what its legacy might have been. Much more to explore, including several more posters and lobby cards with Dangerous Minds at the link up top.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

science fiction/double feature

Management reminds that this is not a blog about commemorations and anniversaries but marking some occasions are difficult to forego, like the debut on this day in 1975 in London of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, based on the popular musical stage production of two years prior. Technically still in limited release (at any given moment, playing in a cinema somewhere), after over four decades, it is the longest-running theatrical release in history, despite its exposure to wider audiences.

Friday, 13 July 2018

tierkreis

In 1975, electronic and experimental music pioneer Karlheinz Stockhausen (*1928 - †2007) composed twelve melodic character pieces representing the twelve signs of the zodiac, structured in a mathematically interesting manner and originally arranged for music boxes, though it can be played on any suitable instrument or even sung. Contracting with a Swiss manufacturer (which is one of the last firms specialising in making music boxes), Stockhausen made the custom music boxes commercially available and continued to be sold through the 1980s with later commemorative editions. Learn more and listen to other performances at the link above. Here’s a rendition of my sign, Skorpion, by clarinettist Liam Hockley below: