Category: Music

Crazy 80s Aussie Rock Opera: SONS OF STEEL!

I’ve been stating lately here that I’m just not a big fan of movie musicals. BUT perhaps the type of musicals I’ve seen my entire life just don’t bring the fucking goods to the dance floor! I recently viewed 1988’s Australian musical oddity ‘Sons of Steel’ at a double feature movie night & paired it up with ‘The Legend of the Stardust Brothers’ from 1985! It was a gloriously cheezy musical combo!  

 If you were to ask me to really explain to you the plot of Sons of Steel I’d have a big problem trying to do so. It’s basically a “Dee Snyder” (Twisted Sister) look-a-like who sings a buttload of cock rock songs and also travels into the future or something where he meets some weird barbarians to try to try to stop an evil genius with a “mini-me” sidekick from destroying the planet?!  I guess that’s the gist, but who really gives a damn, it’s one giant awesome mess of a rock opera with a TON of foggy, neon atmosphere, bizarre characters, a meandering wild plot, jam packed with terribly excellent heavy metal songs!

 If you’re looking for a tubular 80s party movie this is definitely a BANGER! It’s sure to get the juices with it’s unusual plot & wild fashion, however, this like many other Aussie genre flicks of this era (Razorback, Fortress, Road Games, The Quest) have some truly stunning cinematography and rich atmosphere that amplify the onscreen antics to eleven. Simply said as dumb (and fun) as it’s story is, this movie looks far more fantastic that it has any right to. Easily one of the aspects here that make this such enjoyable viewing aside from the leather clad wardrobe, roaring motorcycles and two tone proto punk hairdos soaked in loads hairspray.

It’s leading musclebound  man, Rob Hartley, (who portrays Black Alice) is a real joy to watch. He overacts and grunts his way through most of the strange dialogue as well as belts out some mindnumbing musical numbers. Apparently trying to save the world from a nuclear holocaust, he’s not quite the person you want to put the fate of the planet in the hands of. That being said Black Alice gets into some good trouble and there’s some pretty impressive action scenes to chomp into as well. I was excited to check out director Gary Keady’s  filmography, however Sons of Steel remains his sole, one and only contribution! What a pedigree! Lucky for us all this one received received a snazzy fancy new blue ray release last year from Future Video-if you wanna ROCK check this shit out!

1980s Cine-MAGIC From Japan: The STARDUST BROTHERS!

I’m willing to bet you’re just like me and never heard of this near “forgotten ’til now” 80s gem from Japan: The Legend of The Stardust Brothers! This incredible movie from 1985 is most definitely one of the most unique oddities I’ve stumbled upon in quite sometime. An incredibly ambitious musical gem, packed with practical effects and eighties fashion that will likely knock your neon socks right off!

It tells the tale of  two struggling rival musicians: one a rowdy punk rocker and the other an egotistical wanna be popstar who meet a mysterious man while sharing the same bill  at a seedy night club. He offers them the contract of a lifetime, claiming that within one week, if they follow all the rules, the two of them will be rocketed to full blown pop super stardom. That is as long as they join forces, from that point on become The Stardust Brothers and tell the world they are indeed real bonafide brothers.

Now admittedly I’m not a real big fan of musicals, there’s only a few that I really love (Popeye, The Wizard of Oz & Little Shop of Horrors immediately come to mind). However this one has now EASILY made the list as a must watch and it’s something I’ll be watching over and over again. Essentially it’s the wildly unpredictable story of the bizarre rise and fall of this pop duo. It’s firmly glued together with a series of incredible little musical vignettes that are a visual and sonic feast.

A sweet mixture of punk rock, powerpop & some cool new wave numbers, connecting a series of incredibly ambitious music videos within one insane narrative. There are touches of the supernatural as well as a ton of amazing special effects, stop motion & practical monster effects that really impress, especially if your a fan of the 80s. It’s also filled to the brim with some of the best Japanese fashion of the era to go along with the catchy songs. As I write this, their theme song is still stuck firmly in my brain. I’d love to get my hands on some vinyl of the soundtrack. Aside from the cool music, luckily it’s got a pretty unique story that blends elements of scifi, horror and even a bit of romance. It’s unexpected twists and turns deliver a frenetic, action packed finale that will  leave you pondering the events of the entire film. Its all done with a heroic dose of heart too.

Just how far do you really go to live the life of a superstar without any of the hard work required to get to the top? The Stardust Bros go the distance and the musical journey is definitely a wacky one worth taking. Apparently director Makoto Tezuka tried to catch lightning in a bottle a few years ago by producing a direct sequel, but after doing a little poking around it doesn’t seem like he was quite to able to recreate the neon electromagnetic magic of the first.

In the meantime I highly recommend picking this one up on a newly released blu ray from SRS Cinema. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers is packed with pure charisma, tons of vibrant youthful energy and shows you exactly how inventive some directors in the 1980s were in Japan with a limited budget!  Don’t sleep on this one!

 

The Best TANGERINE DREAM Song of ALL Time?!

Tangerine Dream is easily one of the best instrumental synth groups of all time, they have scored some iconic movies and even some sweet lower grade B-flicks. Creating true atmosphere that can take you to some pretty stunning places with their beautiful scores and trippy albums. Very few can go toe to toe with their brilliance, maybe the likes of John Carpenter & Goblin, come to mind.

This German electronic synth group was founded in 1967 by Edgar Froese with many different musicians joining the fold over the years. Sadly he passed in 2015 but the band continues on without him, for better or for worse. Anyway if you don’t know the group at least I can say you have probably heard them unknowingly in a movie over the years. The other day I came to a bold conclusion, which is in my opinion my top 3 favorite songs by the group. This is an open invitation to have my selections challenged and discover more of their best songs as I haven’t explored their vast scores and albums in their entirely. That being said here are my current picks for their BEST compositions of ALL time!

‘No Man’s Land’ from Hyperborea (1983) 

 As things currently stand I’m gonna have to go out on a limb and say that this is the best Tangerine Dream song of all time. As far as I know this was never used in a soundtrack and that’s a shame because this one takes you places places you’ve never been before flying through different dimensions sit back and close your eyes close your eyes take a puff off your joint and let your mind go wild!  If it’s not their best track it’s at the very least my current favorite…

The close 2nd goes to their mystically dreamy atmospheric track from the soundtrack of 1977’s brilliant mega tense adventure film ‘Sorcerer’ called ‘The Journey’. This song doesn’t play for nearly long enough in the movie but you get just enough of it there to make you search out the full version and behold it’s true glory…

  I’m also gonna have to mention ‘Love on a Real Train’ from 1983’s ‘Risky Business’ soundtrack.  Let’s face the facts without the brilliant tendering dream soundtrack this movie would lose a lot of it’s appeal and emotional flavor. Simply a stunner…

 So my question to you is what do you think are the best Tangerine Dream songs of all time? Please share!!

Top 10 Rock Album Covers by Comic Book Artists?!

There are some epic comic book artists out there in the world, true legends who produced some of the most iconic artwork of all time. I’ve always wondered if any big name comic book artists were employed by rock bands to make album covers? Let’s face it, one of the most important things as a musician is having an unforgettable album cover. So I did a little research of my own to see who, if any, throughout time had actually enlisted these talents! Here’s what I found!

Mark Texiera: Public Enemy, Muse Sick-n-Hour Mess Age (1994)

Texiera takes a break from the pages of comic books to spice up Public Enemy’s 1994 release with an awesome LP cover. This is a great example of how wise it is to hire a comic book artist to craft a freakin’ masterpiece cover for your band.

 

Barry Windsor Smith: The Byrds, Preflyte (1973)

Barry is easily one of the greatest comic book artists of all time, who the hell wouldn’t ask the guy to do the art work for their record? This one though was a real surprise I had no idea he dabbled in the music genre with his skills!

 

Bob Camp: Newcleus Jam On Revenge (1984)

Bob Camp did some great work with Marvel Comics in the eighties on titles like The ‘Nam, Conan the Barbarian and G.I. Joe. But what a lot of people forget is that he actually did this iconic cover art for rap supergroup Newcleus!

 

John Byrne: Joe Satriani, Surfing With The Alien  (1987)

Superstar comic book artist John Byrne’s rendering of the Silver Surfer was used for Joe Satriani’s most famous guitar rock album. Apparently no one talked to him about using the artwork and apparently he remains uncredited in the album liner notes!

 

Todd Mcfarlane: Korn, Follow the Leader (1998)

I’ve gotta say I’ve never liked Korn, at all.  In fact I can admit that I actually hate their music. But when I found out they hired Todd McFarlane to do the cover art for their album they won me over just a little bit..

 

Bill Sienkiewicz: RZA, Bobby Digital in Stereo (1998)

Getting Bill to do your cover artwork Is probably about the wisest thing you could do for your damn musical career. The guy is a living legend and one of the best cover artists in all comic book history!  He nails it for RZA!

 

Richard Corben: Meatloaf, Bat Out of Hell (1977)

Corben is responsible for some of the grittiest comic book art out there! He hits a home run here with Meatloaf’s ‘Bat Out of Hell’. Recently I had to come to my own conclusion about Meatloaf, and I find myself in the same frame of mind as I did with Korn. NOT A FAN! But still Meatloaf wins me over employing Corben to make this iconic album cover…

 

Vincent Locke: Cannibal Corpse, Butchered at Birth (1991)

Legendary gore artist extraordinaire, Vincent Locke is best know for his crazy artwork for 80s horror comic Deadworld. With his unforgettable awesome LP cover for Cannibal Corpse he essentially just drew a cover for Deadworld and slapped on their logo and somehow created a truly gore-tas-tic metal massacre masterpiece!

 

Alex Ross: Anthrax, We’ve Come for You All (2003)

Mr. Ross is a true legend and Anthrax made an excellent choice in getting him on deck to craft this beautifully mysterious album cover. Ross is in league of his own and this adds more proof of that bold claim.

 

Jamie Hewlett: Senseless Things, The First of Too Many (1991)

 An amazing power pop punk album from the Senseless Things! This one was in heavy rotation for me when I was in high school. I didn’t make the connection until recently that this artist went on to produce the iconic Tank Girl comic book series!

 

Brian Bolland: Beautiful Happiness (1988) 

Who’d have ever thought that Brian Boland, comic book artist extraordinaire, most well known for Batman: The Killing Joke, was a punk at heart?  Easily one of my favorite comic book artists/cover artists of all time, this shows his true skill in crafting the ultimate punk rock compilation cover!


Freddy Krueger vs. The Goo Goo Dolls?!!

Hey I gotta admit, I love the old Goo Goo Dolls stuff and what most peeps don’t realize is that they started out as a punk rock band! Yep they had a very different sound in the late 80s and even in the early 90s were essentially an extension of sound to Minneapolis’ pop punk icons The Replacements. What even more people have forgotten is their horror themed music video they pumped out back in 1991 for ‘Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare’!

They indeed appeared on the soundtrack with a song called ‘I’m Awake Now’, this was when they were still brilliantly ripping off Paul Westerberg’s sound and touring with The Replacements on their final tours.

As it turns out The Goo Goo Dolls actually have 3 songs featured on the soundtrack as well as others by Iggy Pop & The Junk Monkeys. 

No wonder why I liked them so much back then they obviously were super down with Fred!

 And then there’s this super awesome fan made Freddy’s Dead video as well, that really highlights the movie’s insanity nice work OCPcommunications (a cool Youtube channel) on putting that together-A sweet little Halloween morsel!

Comic Cover of the Week: Marvel’s Epic 80’s Rock Fable!

The more that I think about it and revisit these classic comic book covers, it becomes so apparent, that Bill’s Sienkiewicz is quite possibly the greatest comic book cover artist of ALL time! Here with New Mutants annual #1 from 1984, we again get to see Bill’s amazing craftsmanship on display. I’m honestly quite surprised that bands from the 80s didn’t employ him to create their album covers! They would have been truly epic andvutterly unforgettable! Here’s the Proof!

Movie Review: Classical Thai Horror of ‘The Maestro: Symphony of Terror’!

I’m a big fan of the 1989 cult horror flick ‘The Laughing Dead’, If you’ve never heard of it and are a1980’s gore horror fiend, well I’ve a feeling that it’s gonna be your new favorite “lost” 80s gem. Rumor has it that it just might be getting a fancy blu ray release?! I hope that’s true! Well it’s director/cult horror novelist/composer extraordinaire S.P. Somtow is back after a long hiatus starring in and writing the latest creepy outing all the way from Thailand with ‘The Maestro: Symphony of Terror’.

The tale of a musical genius haunted by his past and pushed into a state of pure insanity, The Maestro tells the story of a mentally unstable man named Arun (S.P. Somtow), a dedicated composer who attempted a run for fame in Europe but ultimately finds himself deeply depressed, back in Thailand teaching rich kids music at a local shopping mall. Behind the scenes though, he’s been secretly planning a wildly dark magnum opus called ‘The Tongues of Angels’, his ultimate goal: premiering it to the entire world on a livestream during the Covid 19 pandemic. His wildly demented ambition however may induce a lot more than musical madness but also death to those who threaten his journey.

So yeah I’ve been quite excited to check this out, but also had hoped Somtow would be at the mantle as director on the project. I really enjoyed his campy approach on ‘The Laughing Dead’ and the comedic elements incorporated with the heavy effects work of legend John Carl Buechler made it a total blast. That all being said ‘The Maestro’ does definitely deliver some of Somtow’s signature tones, but perhaps with a more artistic approach. Director Paul Spurrier does a decent job behind the camera, giving the movie at times a more slick approach then what I’d ultimately prefered. It combines lighter elements of horror with tense hypnotic dark classical music but also has a few more deeply disturbing psychological aspects at hand here as well that at times made me a bit uncomfortable. The lush locales of Thailand combined with Somtow’s intensely creepy musical compositions sonically assault in a truly unique way.


To be quite honest, his beautifully dark score is probably the biggest star of the entire movie. I’d been expecting something quite a bit different, with more old school fx leaning in on much more on the horror side of things. Instead this one plays out more a psychological thriller and is the first movie I’ve seen that takes place actually during the Covid 19 era. We finally see people on screen irritated with and fussing with their masks as well as trying to navigate life through these current bizarre times. But that doesn’t stop the shamed Maestro from seeking out his pawns, a crew of young musicians gathered from his mall class and the even from the streets.

Most of the madness takes place at a stunningly creepy decrepit mansion In the countryside where the symphony of horror begins to take shape. The Maestro has one thing on his mind: his music and will let nothing get in his way of composing the ultimate dark symphony.

This one’s definitely worth a watch, it’s got a great cast of young actors and Somtow shines again as the villain in a similar way he did back in ‘The Laughing Dead’.

I’m glad that S.P. has again returned to his horror roots, overall I think this is a pretty solid return to form. Going forward I’d like to encourage him to get back behind the camera again, I think he’s got the chops that the people thirst for today with the 80s cult camp fanatics. If anything ‘The Maestro: Symphony of Terror’ must be watched for it’s incredible musical finale, which blew me away. I’ll be hunting down the soundtrack for sure!!

The DESCENDENTS Find a Time Machine & Bring Back Their Lost 80s Album!

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of The Descendents, so you can imagine how damn stoked I am for their latest release ‘9th & Walnut’. Long story short, all of these songs from the new album are from the late seventies and early eighties. Lost tracks the band demoed but never released, instead produced a batch of new songs that became their iconic album ‘Milo Goes to College’. 

Well in 2002 the original line up recorded this lost album and in 2020 lead singer Milo Aukerman finally recorded the lead vocals for it. What we end up with is a bonafide classic brought back to the future, literally a lost punk rock time capsule. It oozes of eighties goodness with the sound and type of songs that I feel have been missing largely from the band’s last two albums. 

It also Clearly is oozing with teen angst, nowhere to be found are songs about getting too old or not being able to eat the greasy food you want anymore. Instead we get a batch of snotty love songs and angry punk ragers clearly fueled by a hefty dose of caffeine & french fries. This is the exact way that I love my Descendents, drenched in the 1980s sunshine and no filter.  It’s also notable that the sound comes full circle with the original lineup intact even though sadly guitarist Frank Navetta passed away not long after this was recorded.

Jam packed with classic guitar riffs with plenty of their nostalgic attitude & the sweet melodies of their original bassist Tony Lombardo bring me back to simpler times. This  album IMO is an absolute dream come true for hardcore fans who grew up listening to them in the 1980s. The anthems of those awkward teen nerds come alive one last time with this latest release from the Descendents! Mmmm…TOTALLY!

IRON MAIDEN Returns With Animated Metal Mayhem!

Legendary epic power metal band Iron Maiden has just dropped a brand new god damn song called ‘The Writing on the Wall’ which is accompanied by a brand new fully animated video that channels the cult classic style of the 1980’s movie ‘Heavy Metal’!

This 7 and a 1/2 minute long fully animated music video showcases a post apocalyptic distopian future with warring global factions hellbent on  ending all civilization. It also features plenty of action, cyborgs, monsters and ghostly motorcycle riding wraiths. All with a soundtrack by the epic band. It also features their mascot Eddie in a battle to the death against the evil forces that plague the planet!  At this point we can only speculate and hope that a new album is right around the corner- Maiden fans rejoice! 

U-Dork & Movie Melt Go on a Rad 80’s ‘ROCKIN’ ROAD TRIP’!

Check out the latest episode of the ‘Movie Melt‘ podcast where Universal Dork joins the conversation to cover an obscure summer blast of punk rock shenanigans with 1985’s ‘Rockin’ Road Trip’! 

Yes! We get down to the nitty gritty of this lost 1980’s summer road trip comedy adventure but also spend some time chattim’ about a ton of other weird-o movies, stupid demonic sex and more useless cinematic information than the human brain can comprehend!

Check this ridiculous shit out right HERE and check out the trailer for our wild ass feature presentation!