The Terrifying 200: A “Spook”-Tacular Seemingly Endless List of Songs For Your Halloween Party

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Forgive me guys for the “mega-list” I put together. I left off some of the iconic TV and movie theme songs, like The Exorcist, Halloween and The Twilight Zone. I also love to use “trailers” for many of those cheesy B-movies from the ’50s and ’60s in the midst of the songs on this list. I also left off, yet love to use my album of Halloween Nuggets which contains some of the greatest garage rock Halloween sounds of the mid-’60s. If you love the Nuggets collections that have been released  in the past, then that collection is a great source of some off-beat Halloween music. But, for this list, I stuck with the “classics”. Enjoy! Let the countdown begin…

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  1. “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” – Blue Öyster Cult
  2. “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” – The Outlaws
  3. “A Ghost to Most” – Drive-By Truckers
  4. “A Night with the Jersey Devil” – Bruce Springsteen
  5. “A Nightmare on My Street” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
  6. “Bad Moon Rising” – Creedence Clearwater Revival
  7. “Bark at the Moon” – Ozzy Osbourne
  8. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” – Bauhaus
  9. “Black Magic Woman” – Santana
  10. “Black Sabbath” – Black Sabbath
  11. “Black” – Pearl Jam
  12. “Bones” – The Killers
  13. “Boris the Spider” – The Who
  14. “Candy Shop” – Madonna
  15. “Candy” – Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  16. “Careful with That Axe, Eugene” – Pink Floyd
  17. “Cat People (Putting Out the Fire)” – David Bowie
  18. “Children of the Grave” – Black Sabbath
  19. “Clap for the Wolfman” – The Guess Who
  20. “Creature with an Atomic Brain” – Roky Erickson & the Aliens
  21. “D.O.A.” – Bloodrock (This may be the creepiest song to EVER hit the Top 40!)
  22. “Dance with the Devil” – Prince
  23. “Dancing in the Moonlight” – King Harvest
  24. “Dead Babies” – Alice Cooper
  25. “Dead Man’s Party” – Oingo Boingo
  26. “Dead Souls” – Joy Division
  27. “Death Valley ‘69” – Sonic Youth
  28. “Demons” – Imagine Dragons
  29. “Demons” – The National
  30. “Demons” Sleigh Bells
  31. “Devil in My Car” – The B-52’s
  32. “Devil with a Blue Dress Medley” – Bruce Springsteen & the E-Street Band
  33. “Devil Woman” – Cliff Richard
  34. “Devil’s Child” – Judas Priest
  35. “Do They Know It’s Halloween?” – North American Halloween Prevention Initiative
  36. “Dracula’s Daughter” – Redd Kross
  37. “Dracula’s Wedding” – Outkast
  38. “Dragula” – Rob Zombie
  39. “Enter Sandman” – Metallica
  40. “Everyday Is Halloween” – Ministry
  41. “Evil Eye” – Franz Ferdinand
  42. “Evil Fantasies” – Judas Priest
  43. “Evil Genius” – Pat Benatar
  44. “Evil Urges” – My Morning Jacket
  45. “Evil Walks” – AC/DC
  46. “Evil Ways” – Santana
  47. “Evil Woman” – Electric Light Orchestra
  48. “Evil” – Interpol
  49. “Eye of the Zombie” – John Fogerty
  50. “Fear of the Dark” – Iron Maiden
  51. “Feed My Frankenstein” – Alice Cooper
  52. “Fire” – The Crazy World of Arthur Brown
  53. “Firestarter” – The Prodigy
  54. “Frankenstein” – Edgar Winter Group
  55. “Frankenstein” – The New York Dolls
  56. “Frankie Teardrop” – Suicide
  57. “Freaks Come Out at Night” – Whodini
  58. “Gary Gilmore’s Eyes” – The Adverts
  59. “Ghost Dance” – Patti Smith Group
  60. “Ghost Dancing” – Simple Minds
  61. “Ghost Rider” – Suicide
  62. “Ghost Ship” – Blur
  63. “Ghost Story” – Coldplay
  64. “Ghost Town” – Cheap Trick
  65. “Ghost Town” – Kurt Vile
  66. “Ghost Town” – The Bicycles
  67. “Ghost Town” – The Specials
  68. “Ghost Train” – Counting Crows
  69. “Ghost Train” – Elvis Costello
  70. “Ghost Train” – Feargal Sharkey
  71. “Ghost Writer” – Garland Jefferys
  72. “Ghost” – Katy Perry
  73. “Ghost” – Lianne La Havas
  74. “Ghost” – Neutral Milk Hotel
  75. “Ghost” – Pearl Jam
  76. “Ghostbusters” – Ray Parker Jr.
  77. “Ghosts of Princes in Towers” – Rich Kids
  78. “Ghosts” – Dan Fogelberg
  79. “Ghosts” – Japan
  80. “Ghosts” – Michael Jackson
  81. “Ghosts” – The Head and the Heart
  82. “Ghosts” – The Jam
  83. “God of Thunder” – KISS
  84. “Halloween Parade” – Lou Reed
  85. “Halloween” – Dead Kennedys
  86. “Halloween” – Mastodon
  87. “Halloween” – Misfits
  88. “Halloween” – Mudhoney
  89. “Halloween” – Siouxsie & the Banshees
  90. “Halloween” – Sonic Youth
  91. “Halloween” – The Dream Syndicate
  92. “Halloween” – The Gaslight Anthem
  93. “Heads Will Roll” – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  94. “Hellhound on My Tail” – Eric Clapton
  95. “Helter Skelter” – The Beatles
  96. “Highway to Hell” – AC/DC
  97. “Hip Priest” – The Fall
  98. “Howlin’ Wolf Boogie” – Howlin’ Wolf
  99. “I Love the Dead” – Alice Cooper
  100. “I Put a Spell on You” – Marilyn Manson
  101. “I Put a Spell on You” – Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
  102. “I Want Candy” – Bow Wow Wow
  103. “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” – The Cramps
  104. “I, Zombie” – White Zombie
  105. “I’m Your Boogie Man” – KC & the Sunshine Band
  106. “I’m Your Boogie Man” – White Zombie
  107. “Intruder” – Peter Gabriel
  108. “It’s Halloween” – The Shaggs
  109. “Jizzlobber” – Faith No More
  110. “John Wayne Gacy, Jr.” – Sufjan Stevens
  111. “Kill V. Maim” – Grimes
  112. “Killer” – KISS
  113. “Little Ghost” – The White Stripes
  114. “Living Dead Girl” – White Zombie
  115. “Maggot Brain” – Funkadelic
  116. “Magic Man” – Heart
  117. “Magic” – Olivia Newton-John
  118. “Magic” – The Cars
  119. “Man in the Box” – Alice in Chains
  120. “Moanin’ at Midnight” – Howlin’ Wolf
  121. “Monster Jam” – Spoonie Gee Meets The Sequence
  122. “Monster” – Fred Schneider & the Shake Society
  123. “Monster” – Kanye West featuring Jay-Z, Rick Ross, Nicki Minaj & Bon Iver
  124. “Monster” – Lady Gaga
  125. “Monster” – Michael Jackson Featuring 50 Cent
  126. “Monsterman” – Devo
  127. “Mr. Crowley” – Ozzy Osbourne
  128. “Nightmares” – A Flock of Seagulls
  129. “Nightprowler” – AC/DC
  130. “People Are Strange” – The Doors
  131. “Pet Sematary” – Ramones
  132. “Polly” – Nirvana
  133. “Psycho Killer” – Talking Heads
  134. “Psycho Killer” – Velvet Revolver
  135. “Psycho” – Muse
  136. “Psycho” – System of a Down
  137. “Psycho” – The Sonics
  138. “Psychotic Reaction” – Count Five
  139. “Raining Blood” – Slayer
  140. “Running with the Devil” – Van Halen
  141. “Satan Rejected My Soul” – Morrissey
  142. “Scarecrow People” – Andy Partridge
  143. “Scarecrow” – Counting Crows
  144. “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps)” – David Bowie
  145. “Scream” – Michael & Janet Jackson
  146. “Season of the Witch” – Donovan
  147. “Sick Things” – Alice Cooper
  148. “Skeletons” – The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
  149. “Skull Ring” – Iggy & the Stooges
  150. “Skulldiggin’” – Black Joe Lewis
  151. “Skulls” – Lemonheads
  152. “Skulls” – Misfits
  153. “Skulls” – The Pretticoats
  154. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
  155. “Spiderwebs” – No Doubt
  156. “Spirit in the Sky” – Doctor & the Medics
  157. “Spirit in the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum
  158. “Spirit” – Doug E. Fresh & the Get Fresh Crew
  159. “Spirits in the Material World” – The Police
  160. “Spooky” – Atlanta Rhythm Section
  161. “Starman” – David Bowie
  162. “Supernaturally” – Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds
  163. “Supernature” – Cerrone
  164. “Superstition” – Beck, Bogert & Appice
  165. “Superstition” – Stevie Wonder
  166. “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” – Marilyn Manson
  167. “Sweet Transvestite” – Tim Curry
  168. “Sympathy for the Devil” – The Rolling Stones
  169. “That Smell” – Lynyrd Skynyrd
  170. “The Beautiful People” – Marilyn Manson
  171. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” – Dave Edmunds
  172. “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” – The Cramps
  173. “The Devil Inside” – INXS
  174. “The Devil Went Down to Georgia” – The Charlie Daniels Band
  175. “The Evil Men Do” – Iron Maiden
  176. “The Ghost and the Black Hat” – The Go-Betweens
  177. “The Ghost at Number One” – Jellyfish
  178. “The Ghost in You” – The Psychedelic Furs
  179. “The Ghost In-Between Us” – Plasticsoul
  180. “The Ghost Is Gone” – The Shelters
  181. “The Moan” – The Black Keys
  182. “The Monster Mash” – Bobby “Boris” Pickett & the Crypt Kickers
  183. “The Monster” – Eminem featuring Rihanna
  184. “The Raven” – The Alan Parsons Project
  185. “The Time Warp” – The Rocky Horror Picture Show
  186. “The Witch” – The Sonics
  187. “The Wolfman’s Brother” – Phish
  188. “Thriller/Heads Will Roll” – Glee Cast
  189. “Thriller” – Michael Jackson
  190. “Vampira” – Misfits
  191. “Vampire” – Peter Tosh
  192. “Voodoo Chile” – The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  193. “Welcome to My Nightmare” – Alice Cooper
  194. “Werewolves of London” – Warren Zevon
  195. “What’s Behind the Mask” – The Cramps
  196. “When Worlds Collide” -Powerman 5000
  197. “Witch Doctor” – David Seville
  198. “Witchy Woman” – Eagles
  199. “Zombie Dance” – The Cramps
  200. “Zombie” – The Cranberries

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Happy Halloween!

How About Some Power Pop Suggestions For Your Collection

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Everyone knows how much I enjoy power pop music. I can’t get enough of that pre-Sgt. Pepper Beatles melodies mixed with Beach Boys’ vocal harmonies and Who-like and Kinks-esque power chords, with a touch of Byrds-ian jangle, into this dream amalgamation that Pete Townshend once called power pop, which has stuck to this conservative brand of rock music. And when I use “conservative”, it is not a political designation but a musical one because of the tight definition of this genre. Sure, I am still in touch with the AM radio side of youth.

So, today, I am going to send you into the weekend with my 15 suggestions of power pop albums that every music lover should have in their collection. I love making these of suggestions. Rock on!

15 Power Pop Albums Every Music Lover Should Own

  1. Big Star – #1 Record (1972); Key track: “Thirteen”
  2. Raspberries – Raspberries (1972); Key track: “Go All the Way”
  3. Flamin’ Groovies – Shake Some Action (1975); Key track: “Shake Some Action”
  4. Bram Tchaikovsky – Strange Man, Changed Man (1979); Key track: “Girl of My Dreams”
  5. Cheap Trick – At Budokan (1979); Key track: “I Want You to Want Me” (was there EVER any doubt?)
  6. The Knack – Get the Knack (1979); Key track: “My Sharona”
  7. The Records – The Records (1979, USA), Shades in Bed (1978, UK); Key track: “Starry Eyes”
  8. The Rubinoos – Back to the Drawing Board (1979); Key track: “I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend”
  9. The Romantics – The Romantics (1980); Key track: “What I Like About You”
  10. Rick Springfield – Working Class Dog (1981); Key track: “I’ve Done Everything for You”
  11. Squeeze – East Side Story (1981); Key track: “Tempted”
  12. Marshall Crenshaw – Marshall Crenshaw (1982); Key track: “Cynical Girl”
  13. Jellyfish – Bellybutton (1990); Key track: “I Wanna Stay Home”
  14. Velvet Crush – Teenage Symphonies to God (1994); Key track: “Hold Me Up”
  15. Weezer – Weezer (1994, “The Blue Album”); Key track: “Buddy Holly”

Now, if you would just throw in some early Ramones, non-concept album Green Day, the Buzzcocks’ greatest hits album Singles Going Steady and some non-experimental or blue-eyed soul Todd Rundgren (or his band Utopia), then you will have a well-rounded power pop collection that embraces most sides of the genre.

I hope everyone has a great weekend and a rockin’ Halloween!!!

When A Tribute Is Really More Than A Bunch Of Covers

The notion of a tribute is appalling to many and intriguing to a few. Most of these things come off as nothing more than a bunch of cover bands hacking up the hits. Most of the time you can just as well as go to the local dive bar to listen to crappy versions of good songs. Many times these tribute albums are done as a fundraiser for some well-deserving charity. But, much of the time, it is simply a ploy by a small record company in an attempt to hype their roster of talented artists (my apologies Bruce B!) or a crass attempt to revive interest in a fading artist. Still, occasionally, magic will strike, and we will be given a brilliant album of cover songs.

There are two types of tribute albums. The first is when one artist tackles the songs of a beloved artist, album or era of songs. A famous example of the first type of tribute album is Jennifer Warnes’ brilliant late-Eighties album of Leonard Cohen songs entitled Famous Blue Raincoat. For some reason, this album introduced many people my age to the wonderfully dark world of recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leonard Cohen.

An example of the second type of tribute album is when The Smithereens released their 2009 album, The Smithereens Play ‘Tommy’, their tribute to The Who’s Tommy album or whenever Phish does their Halloween concerts during which the band dons a musical costume in the form of an album. In the past, Phish have played, recorded and released these concerts during which they have covered among many others Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus, Remain in Light by Talking Heads and The Beatles’ White Album.

The last example of a tribute album by a single artist is when the artist covers songs from a particular era in musical history. The best examples are when Rod Stewart (his Songs from the Great American Songbook series), Bob Dylan (2015’s Shadows in the Night and 2016’s Fallen Angels) and Willie Nelson (his widely acclaimed late-Seventies album Stardust) have all made albums in which they recorded songs from “The Great American Songbook”. On these albums, each artist covered songs that which made famous in the 1920s through the 1950s.

And, then, there are those tribute albums which were compilations of songs by an eclectic group of artists covering a more famous artist’s songs or albums. The compilation albums of an artist’s songs include the tribute album to KISS from the mid-Nineties called Kiss My Ass: Classic Kiss Re-grooved or the vastly popular country artist tribute album to the Eagles from the same time period entitled Common Thread: The Songs of the Eagles. The success of both albums resulted those bands reforming to great fanfare and tour success.

The more difficult tribute album to pull off is the famous album’s songs being covered by different artists. Although this type has not been attempt much, you can discover many examples included with various rock magazines, particularly those produced in the U.K. Not too long ago, a power pop label gathered some artists together in order for the artists to record a song found on The Who’s The Who Sell Out album. Although many of the artists are unknown to the general public, this album was successful as an artistic statement. This album can be found on the Bandcamp website (bandcamp.com), which is full of new artists selling their music, and is entitle The New Sell Out. I only have an electronic copy of that one, but I guess I could order a hard copy if I was motivated to do so.

Below is my lists of my favorite tribute albums. I have separate lists for albums by one artist and multi-artists albums.

My Favorite Single Artist Tribute Albums

  • Erasure – Abba-esque (1992) [Abba]
  • Jennifer Warnes – Famous Blue Raincoat (1987) [Leonard Cohen]
  • P. Hux – Homemade Spaceship: The Music of ELO Performed by P. Hux (2005) [Electric Light Orchestra)
  • Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs – Under the Covers, Vol. 1 (2006) [Music from the ’60s]; Vol. 2 (2009) [Music from the ’70s]; Vol. 3 (2014) [Music from the ’80s]
  • Cheap Trick – Sgt. Pepper Live (2009) [The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band]
  • Phish – Live Phish: 1996-OCT-31 The Omni (1996) [Talking Heads’ Remain in Light]
  • Phish – Live Phish: 2010-OCT-31 Atlantic City (2010) [Little Feat’s Waiting for Columbus]
  • Rush – Feedback (2004) [’60s Classic Rock Songs]
  • Ciccone Youth – Whitey Album (1988) [Madonna]
  • Ryan Adams – 1989 (2015) [Taylor Swift’s 1989]
  • Dump – That Skinny Motherf***ker with the High Voice (2001) [Prince]

Various Artist Tribute Albums

  • Endless Highway: The Music of The Band (2007)
  • Right to Chews: Bubblegum Classics Revisited
  • Drink a Toast to Innocence: A Tribute to Lite Rock (2013)
  • Never Surrender: A Cheap Trick Tribute (2015)
  • Two Rooms: Celebrating the Music of Elton John and Bernie Taupin
  • Enconium – A Tribute to Led Zeppelin (1995)
  • Enjoy Every Sandwich: The Songs of Warren Zevon (2004)
  • Beyond Belief: A Tribute to Elvis Costello (2014)
  • The Music Is You (A Tribute to John Denver) (2013)
  • Substitution Mass Confusion: A Tribute to the Cars
  • What the World Needs Now: Big Deal Recording Artists Perform the Songs of Burt Bacharach

There are so many others that I could have mentioned, but this blog is long enough. At least I hope you will search out some of these albums to try some of the music on them. Not all tribute albums are crappy!

Journey: Need I Say Any More?

 

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Back in high school and into college, I was a big-time Journey fan. I can’t think of a more perfect album than their two-CD set The Essential Journey. Their song “Don’t Stop Believin'” only seems to get more popular as the years go on. The once formidable jazz-fusion band that played only instrumentals morphed into arguably the greatest band of the Album Oriented Rock era was an unlikely trip. Yet, somehow, their lyrics were able to diagram a teen’s love life perfectly, all the while setting them to a clean version of hard rock and metal with clear pop overtones. It was easy for critics at the time to cry “sellout!” in reviews of the band’s music from 1978’s Infinity through 1986’s Raised on Radio. But, could it have been simply blind luck for this band to stumble across a sound made popular by Boston, only to take their music to newer popular and, dare I say, more popular heights?

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It all started when this quartet of San Francisco hotshot musicians gathered together to record some jazz-fusion instrumental albums. Then, they got the itch to find a lead singer. Enter the sincere-sounding soulfully rocking former turkey farmer Steve Perry, the other with the trademark soaring instrument that was equal parts Robert Plant and Sam Cooke. Perry transformed Journey from a musicians’ band into a hit-making, make-out inducing machine. For every transitive “Don’t Stop” and “Anyway You Want It”, there’s a slow dancing gem like “Faithfully”. Whether they knew it or not, Bon Jovi’s career blueprint was equal parts Loverboy and Journey.

And, then, last week, it happened. I stumbled across the article listing the 19 (!!!) nominees for the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame while surfing the net at the hospital where my 81-year-old mother lay with a surgically repaired left hip. As we have seen for more than a decade, Chic was back on the list. So were Pearl Jam and 2pac, who were nominated in their first year of eligibility. Then, upon second glance I saw it! Journey had finally been nominated for induction! I could not believe it. But, there is was on the nomination list, the name “Journey”. Yes, they are equal parts rocker and popper, but who cares. I have to admit that they have outlasted many of my “culturally” significant artists like Squeeze and The Replacements. Journey should be immortalized, since they continue to be a band that sells music.

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In order to paint the picture, the last high school at which I taught and coached would play “Don’t Stop Believin'” at every home football and basketball game between the third and fourth quarters during which the whole student section would sing along. This newer tradition is quite a sound, and sight, to behold.

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So, yes, Journey has transcended the rock music genre and may one day be mentioned alongside Beethoven. And that first step toward immortality could take place in mid-December when the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announces the Class of 2017 Inductees. So, the band whose Departure album cover was tastefully completed in icing on my 18th birthday cake (God bless the lady that actually pulled that off!).

Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty & John Mellencamp may all weave tales about the working man. But, when it comes to that same working man having a soundtrack of his life, it is Journey who is there for his celebrations, his defeats, his achievements, his sorrow, and possibly even there for the creations and births of his children. Nearly every Journey hit song sends me back in time in search of a particular memory.

Now, the new singer sounds very similar to Steve Perry. Guitarist Neil Schon could not have found a singer that was so close to Perry vocally-speaking. But, the guy really is missing something soulful in his vocals that Perry naturally had. Maybe Steve was never given the credit he was due for that touch of Motown and soul in his tone, all the while we were busy making out to the band’s music. And while I feel all former members of this band deserve induction, including the last two lead singers who tried to fill Perry’s shoes, the version all of us wants to hear perform at their induction ceremony is Steve Perry. Plain and simple.

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By the way, how many “nahs” does it take Journey to get to the end of “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'”? 151.

Back When Robert Stigwood Was The Movie Soundtracks

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In 1980, Robert Stigwood was facing a changing musical landscape. Just three years earlier, a little film based upon a fictional magazine article describing the nightlife of some Italian-Americans in New York City at the local discos became a huge hit. That movie made a movie star out of a former “Sweat Hog” from TV’s classic sitcom Welcome Back Kotter by the name of John Travolta. Stigwood made a brilliant move casting Travolta in the iconic role of the lonely dancer from the working class world to become a dancing star. The movie nabbed Travolta an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. The movie was Saturday Night Fever.

But, there was  another brilliant move Stigwood made, and it was to release a soundtrack album on his own label, RSO, and featured some great disco songs along with some new disco songs by his own artists, the Bee Gees, who were in the process of making a change in their musical style by incorporating disco sounds. So, throughout the cold winter of 1977-1978, Stigwood had the top movie with Saturday Night Fever AND the best-selling album, the double-album soundtrack from that movie which featured his hot artists’ work, the Bee Gees.

Well, when someone is hot like Stigwood was at the time, people will begin throwing all kinds of cash at him to produce more movies with hit soundtracks. These soundtracks became the music of my high school years. Robert Stigwood produced a little musical called Grease, once again starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The soundtrack was a monster as well. To top off that soundtrack, Stigwood got the creative mind behind the Bee Gees, Barry Gibb, to write the theme song for the movie. Their genius was to have former teen star Frankie Valli to sing that theme song, “Grease”, and the rest was history. So now, Stigwood and the Bee Gees were the hottest working combo in the world. That’s when their egos bit off more than they could handle.

Stigwood always wanted to set the Beatles’ music to a screenplay and call it Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. And, now he was allowed to fulfill his dream. The problem was that he cast the extremely hot and good-looking Peter Frampton in the lead role of Billy Shears, and the Bee Gees as the rest of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The problem was three-fold. First, no screenwriters could have possibly written a screenplay for a group of songs that had nothing in common except they had been performed by the Beatles. Next, the four rockers could NOT act to save their lives. And, third, and perhaps most importantly, no one wanted to hear the Beatles’ songs covered by Frampton and the Bee Gees. Or, almost anyone else they threw on the soundtrack, such as Steve Martin or Billy Preston. Earth, Wind & Fire did record an funky version of “Got to Get You Into My Life”, and a coked-out Aerosmith did a decent version of “Come Together”, but the rest of the soundtrack was a mess.

So Stigwood was saddled with this multi-million dollar loss, putting a dent in his armor. Since Stigwood was backed against the wall, he decided to dip back into the New York night life for a story that would be set in the burgeoning punk/new wave scene in New York City as the backdrop for his next movie, Times Square, peoples’ ears perked up. First, Stigwood limited the Bee Gees participation in the project to one song, since the band was beginning to wane in popularity. Then he chose Bill Oakes as the Executive Producer of the soundtrack, who began choosing the other songs for the soundtrack. This soundtrack is stuffed with great music by great punk and new wave artists, such as Pretenders, Ramones, XTC, The Cure, Talking Heads, Lou Reed, Patti Smith Group, Roxy Music and Joe Jackson, to name a few. But, this was the problem with the movie because the songs were driving the movie and not the other way around, like Fever and Grease did.

Once again, the movie script sucked, and the acting sucked. Then, to add salt to the wound, the one song in the movie that was something of a hit, was kept off the soundtrack album. That song was “Dangerous Type” by The Cars. That was a monumental act of stupidity. The movie soundtrack lacked a hit song, so despite the stellar cast of artists, who donated some outstanding tracks for the project, the soundtrack quickly sank.

Now, that very same double-album soundtrack has become something of cult classic with collectors. Times Square continues to be an album that I will listen to when I want a diverse selection of punk and new wave hits. But, good luck finding it. The album is difficult to find, and the cassette is even more rare. This album is a grossly overlooked soundtrack album. Any time an album has Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime”, “I Wanna Be Sedated” by Ramones, Lou Reed’s classic “Walk on the Wild Side” AND “Talk of the Town” by Pretenders, you know this is a classic album.

To me, this was RSO’s finest soundtrack of the four released during my high school years. I like Saturday Night Fever and Grease, but I love Times Square. And, my advice to you is to stay far away from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band Soundtrack because it is horrible!

How Does This All Happen In A Week?

Sir Isaac Newton stated succinctly in his Third Law of Motion that for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. Although we have learned that this law works only macroscopically and not at the atomic level, we often see the law being played out in life itself. Which brings me to what is happening right now.

One week ago, with my beautiful bride out of town, I connected with my younger son, grabbed a bite to eat then visited our favorite record store in Muncie, Indiana. To me, since my physical change, visiting a record store is one of the more relaxing activities in which I can engage. I had two outstanding “finds” that day, First, I got a copy of a bootleg R.E.M. concert album from 1984 that was used to play on a radio station. The second was more sentimental, in that I finally found another copy of the first album I ever purchased, that included all the cards that hand not been punched out AND it contained the “money” that was originally included. That album was Alice Cooper’s Billion Dollar Babies. Man, was life good.

Unfortunately, the next day my step-dad called to tell me my very frail 81-year-old mother with dementia had fallen and gotten hurt. Immediately, I knew she had broken her hip, which X-rays proved at the hospital. Now, I am dealing with her being in a rehab center, which I understand is best for her but am worried that she may never get out of there. It is so sad to witness a creative spirit slowly being snuffed out. And when that spirit is your mother, very little is more painful to watch. Since Mom had always recognized and encouraged my writing, I am dedicating the entry to her.

Believe it or not, but my mom was never threatened nor insulted by the music I would bring home, including Frank Zappa’s Sheik Yer Bouti, with such tawdry songs as “Broken Hearts Are for Assholes”, “Jewish Princess” and “Bobby Brown”. The only thing she would say was something like “Are you going to play that music around your kids?” Well, I tried to keep those questionable albums away from them until they turned 13. But, they got into those albums when my wife and I were gone.

So, all of us rock fans awoke last Friday to the news that Bob Dylan had been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, thus becoming the first rock artist to do so. At the time, I did not know how to process this information. I mean, my favorite book of all time was a Nobel Prize winning book, A Confederacy of Dunces. But, Dylan? Sure, his lyrics are light years ahead of the normal rock star. So, I went and read his lyrics without listening to the accompanying music. You know what?!?! Those lyrics mostly hold up as poetry. So, I am fine with the award. I just wonder if the bard himself is, since the committee cannot reach him. My advice to Bob is to take the award and the accompanying accolades and be done with it. Anything else will simply hype the situation up to unmanageable levels.

Now, let’s tackle the other major new release of the week, the nominees for the 2017 Class of Inductee into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The nominating committee must be commended for a fairly well-rounded list. My guess is that only five of these acts will be inducted in April 2017. The nominees are listed below.

  1. Bad Brains – An all-black punk band that incorporated reggae and jazz into their unique sound. This hardcore band is very deserving of this award, but I feel strongly that other acts should be inducted before them, such as Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Hüsker Dü, and Fear are all more worthy.
  2. Joan Baez – Bob Dylan’s sidekick on the folkie scene in the early 60s. Very deserving of this award.
  3. The Cars – The new wave band is back on the list for the second time, so this may be their year.
  4. Chic – For crying out loud! Just put this band in now, so we can end the Susan Lucci “jokes”. Is this the 12th consecutive time they have been nominated? Enough all ready!
  5. Depeche Mode – I love Depeche Mode, but not ahead of The Cure, The Replacements, New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths, among many others for the ’80s college rock slot.
  6. Electric Light Orchestra – To me and people my age, this band is a no-brainer. To my millennial boys, they would rather listen to Magical Mystery Tour Beatles instead.
  7. J. Geils Band – My favorite party band of the ’70s and ’80s is very deserving of induction.
  8. Janet Jackson – The second most successful Jackson should definitely be inducted thi year, since she was left out last year.
  9. Jane’s Addiction – Okay, so, Depeche Mode was nominated as was Jane’s Addiction. The Led Zep of college rock radio will probably be left on the outside looking in.
  10. Journey – THE mega-band of my high school years boasts one of the finest singers in all of rock history, although the guys in the comedic classic Baseketball used Steve Perry as a “burn”. Still, there is no denying the longevity of this band’s music, specifically “Don’t Stop Believing” (Thanks Glee!).
  11. Chaka Khan – The funk and disco diva herself deserves induction, but I am not sure it will be this year.
  12. Kraftwerk – Here is a band that had very little success in the States, but who casts a HUGE shadow over much of today’s music, let alone how they influenced the music of the ’80s. They are synonymous with the synthesizer sound.
  13. MC5 – First we got the Stooges in. Then Alice Cooper followed. Now, we are ready for other influential Detroit proto-punk band MC5.
  14. Pearl Jam – This is their first year of eligibility and they WILL be inducted! My favorite band on this list.
  15. Tupac Shakur – Another nominee in his first year of eligibility. Since no other hip hop artist was nominated, let’s get ready to induct the late great 2pac!
  16. Steppenwolf – The band that coined the phrase “heavy metal” has finally been nominated. I don’t really find them Hall-worthy, but director and Rolling Stone magazine founder Jann Wenner might make that decision for all of us.
  17. Joe Tex – The long time popularity of this soul icon cannot be denied any longer. His omission from the Hall is a crime!
  18. Yes – Well, the prog rockers have been nominated once again, so this is probably their year for induction.
  19. The Zombies – If you are a power pop fanatic like I am, you know how important this band is to the genre. Still, I would have preferred my beloved Big Star for this nod, but at least my favorite type of music has been recognized in the wake of Cheap Trick’s induction last year.

Well, I cannot believe there are 19 nominees this year, since the list is usually only 15 acts. Maybe, we will get a big class finally! After the last couple of year’s worth of a lack of performances, maybe by having a larger class, the induction ceremony will be worth watching by more people than by just the hardcore rock fans like us.

My picks for induction are Pearl Jam, Tupac Shakur, Chic, Journey and Janet Jackson. My next five in order are The Cars, MC5, Yes, Kraftwerk and Electric Light Orchestra. Then, I would say Joe Tex, Chaka Khan, Joan Baez, Depeche Mode and J. Geils Band. And to wrap it up, I’d go with The Zombies, Jane’s Addiction, Steppenwolf and Bad Brains.

Who do you think will be inducted? Let me know below.

Me, Cycling And The Psychedelic Furs

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Just the other day I was flipping through my vinyl albums, when I stumbled across my collection of The Psychedelic Furs. I loved that band back in the day, so I gently removed their Todd Rundgren-produced Forever Now album from 1982. As I melted into the atmospherics of that album, I remembered just how much I dug this band back in the day. As this happens often with me, that afternoon listening to The Furs’ third album jump-started what has become a week-long musical obsession. And, the albums bring back so many memories.

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Perhaps the song that elicits the most lasting memory is the first hit song from the band’s fourth album Mirror Moves called “The Ghost in You”. Man, that song takes me back to standing in line at the book store at college talking to people about the upcoming Bike-A-Thon race. I had just made the jump from being a full-time runner to a full-time cyclist, and my college had this five-member team race much like Indiana University’s more famous collegiate cycling race. But, back in the 1980s, Bike-A-Thon was a pretty huge weekend at Ball State. While the IU cyclists were racing on a nice quarter-mile track, we were riding this thick-framed bicycles with big balloon tires on a half-mile dirt track that was made for horse racing at the County Fairgrounds. Riding those “hogs”, as they were called, were brutal. Yet, The Furs were my preferred training music for my Walkman.

The day of the three-man time trials, one of my frat brothers was blaring “Pretty in Pink” as the team was getting ready to go over to the Fairgrounds for the trials. All of us were rookie riders, in that none of us had ever ridden in the race before. Many of the teams were loaded with “real” cycling racers. I was the first rider is the relay, meaning I was considered the fastest, so I would be compared to the fastest riders on all of the other teams. We were the second time to qualify that day out of 40 teams. 33 teams would qualify, the fastest winning the “pole” trophy and a trophy would be awarded to the fastest individual qualifier.

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With “Love My Way” grooving through the neurons of my brain, I readied myself on the track, 200 yards before the starting line that would give me a “rolling start”. I had been an 800-meter runner in high school, so I knew how to pace my running. Therefore, I was determined to ride in the same manner. As I pedaled past the Start/Finish Line, I was building up speed. In track, I had been a crazy maniac who ran to the front and tried to hold on to the end. In cycling, not really knowing what to do, I simply built up my speed.

As I charged down the backstretch, I could feel my legs seemingly in rhythm with the beat of “President’s Gas” playing in my head. Still, the weirdest thing was happening to me – I was getting faster. I know the announcer was saying something about my ride, but I was hyperfocused on the ride, knowing The Furs were psychologically pulling me along. As I flew into turn three, I felt that I had much more left. So, as I shifted the gears in my legs, I knew I was flying to the sounds of “Love My Way” in my memory bank.

Now, most cyclists will tell you that to sprint on a bike, you should stand on your pedals with your butt off your seat. I barely stood. I didn’t know that at the time. But, I was told that I looked like a blur charging up the track to my exchange. As I crossed the finish line, I yelled at my fraternity brother to take off and ride hard and I hit his hand with mine as he took off for the next leg. As I hit the brakes, I could hear a prolonged roar from the crowd of riders, fans, timers and workers. After talking with our last rider, I walked over to the fence to talk to our “catchers”, the two guys who were going to stop each rider when they came into the pits for an exchange with another rider. One of the guys asked how it went. I just told him that I couldn’t believe how easy it felt, much easier than trying to run it. He replied, “Well, I think you shocked the crowd with your time.” I said to get The Psychedelic Furs on the frat stereo ready if we qualify.

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Just as I was fumbling around with my Walkman, attempting to pop in Mirror Moves, a reporter from the BSU newspaper came up to me to conduct an interview. Come to find out that I had a faster time than the past couple of years’ worth of fastest qualifiers. I think I shocked him when I told him I had never ridden in a race before. My time was 59 seconds. As the day went on, I was still the fastest qualifier. That is until the fast guys from the top seven teams rode, all of whom were a full two seconds faster or less than me. It seems that I shook “The Ghosts in Them” (yuck!!!) with my time, that several of them were determined to be faster than me.

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So, for that one day, I was a pretty fast cyclist while qualifying for Bike-A-Thon. Our team had qualified an all-rookie team best 13th. We finished the big race the following week in 18th place, which was a record for an all-rookie team. Not too shabby for five guys none of whom had ever raced on a bicycle before that day. That’s one of the best memories I have associated with The Psychedelic Furs, a band that many overlooked back in the 1980s. Go back and give them a listen and make some of your own greatest memories while you have The Furs music running through you head.

I Wish I Was One Of The Romantics!

From the moment I got up this morning, my head ringing and ears smoldering like I had been to a thrash metal concert, but it was only because, against my better judgement, I watched the stupid Presidential debate (Thank God SNL is back on again this coming weekend!). When I was taught debate in junior high and high school, I always had to back up my assertions with FACTS. I was great at using hyperbole and conjecture, but rarely had facts to back them up. But, once I learned that aspect of debating, I became a decent debater. The only problem is I no longer enjoy debating because people now can find any source to reinforce their conjecture and hyperbole, without utilizing critical thinking about that internet source.

Oh well, so I thought I would enjoy a day of listening to old ’70s Stevie Wonder albums, just to reset my faith in mankind. Then, I was going to blog all of these wonderful memories about Stevie’s music in my young life. But, I finally picked up my copy of the great Ken Sharp’s latest volume in his series about Power Pop artists/heroes. The series is called Play On! Power Pop Heroes, Volume 3. The first chapter is all about the great Detroit power pop band, The Romantics. So, I had a musical change. And, let me just say this: how did this album not become a hit? It is every bit as good as The Knack’s debut album. I don’t get it. Just because some New York critics didn’t like the Knack’s homage to the Beatles, then we have to “Knuke the Knack”? When that happened, ALL power pop artists seemed to get written off. What a shame!

Everyone knows the big song on this album, “What I Like About You”. For all four years of college, I heard the song at seemingly every party. Yet, the song never hit the Top 40 on Billboard’s Hot 100 Singles Chart. If there is a perfect song out there, this one may be it. It’s fun, it’s fast, it’s the whole teen experience packaged in a 3-minute pop song. To this day, it makes me want to pick up my air guitar and pogo around the room, though my body won’t let me because of my age.

But, what you may not know is that the Romantics’ self-titled debut album is a power pop dream. Where The Knack attacked their sound from The Beatles side, and Cheap Trick attacked it from The Who’s and The Move’s side of thing, The Romantics conjured up a sound that relied mainly on The Kinks, who, ironically, were experiencing something of a comeback during the power pop heyday of the late ’70s and early ’80s. Now, The Romantics did not ignore The Beatles, but they weren’t afraid to conjure up the Dave Clark 5, as well. And, then you have to factor in that toughness in sound that all artists from Detroit have, from Motown through the Stooges and MC5 up to The Romantics.

Like I said, this album was a fun party album. I remember one particular party that was taking place in my dorm room, when I put this album on. Somehow, we had 50 or so people sardine-canned in our room. But, when the first strains of “When I Look in Your Eyes” came blaring out of my stereo speakers, the room door opened and the dancing spilled out into the hall. Needless to say, that party got broken up for a half hour. Then, when I put “What I Like About You” on, the party restarted and chaos ensued the rest of the night.

So, I would like to thank The Romantics for that fun dorm room party, which I do NOT recommend having that many people in a dorm room at one time. And, I gotta give up to The Romantics for resetting my attitude today. I knew I was going to play some Detroit music today, I just didn’t expect it to be this wonderfully overlooked power pop quartet from Hitsville, USA.

Really! I Want My New Green Day Album Now!

As you get older, you don’t really get too excited about an old favorite artist releasing a new album. Hey, life changes really do reduce your reliance on music as a friend. Much like one’s youthful optimism, you really don’t have a visceral reaction to music that I did between the ages of 12 and 36. It’s kind of like my “athletic” intelligence was at its peak back in my late-twenties and early-thirties. Yet, every time Green Day releases a new album, I get a twinge of excitement that I used to get every time Prince, Tom Petty & R.E.M. dropped a new joint. Green Day? Yes, Green Day.

When the band burst on the scene back in 1994 behind their brilliant pop-punk album Dookie, I was in the midst of a second wind of music excitement thanks to Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Tupac and the rest. But something about Dookie reminded me of an American version of The Jam, only with a slacker point-of-view. Then, the boys released their next album, Insomniac. Needless to say, I felt like they were trying to please their critics instead of themselves. At that moment, I really thought they were creatively done.

Let’s fast-forward to 1999, and Green Day’s Nimrod. Initially, all of the songs that had been released were run-of-the-mill Green Day songs. But, if you listened ALL the way through the album, you would finally get to the pay-off with the title of “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)”. Finally, you Gen X-ers had a Graduation song. The song was so ubiquitous that for the next five years you would hear it at every freshly graduated senior’s commence party. The band followed up the success of that song with the 2000 album Warning, and the great protest single “Minority”. I thought it was just a flash-in-the-pan.

Now, let’s move ahead to 2001, when my youngest son, who at the time might have been the biggest Blink-182 fan in the world, wanted me to take him to see them in concert. He thought he was selling me on the concert by adding that Green Day was the co-headliner. Reluctantly, I agreed. I took him and a couple of his 13-year-old buddies to see this skater punk’s dream concert. In short, Green Day surprised me with their show! It was at that moment that I became a fan of them. I felt like I was watching a band that had absorbed everything from all of the bands that I grew up loving.

Then, Green Day released American Idiot, which changed everything for the band. That was the moment that they grew into their sound. They had finally made an adult punk rock statement that no band had stuck around long enough to create. Then, they released another album under their alter-ego the Foxboro Hottubs, which was nothing but loose fun. I thought their next album was going to explode.

Explode it did, but in a manner I did NOT expect, because what we got with 21st Century Breakdown, an over-bloated rock opera like most of them are. Oh well! I’d rather they try that route than creating a Broadway show. Oops! They did that too. Okay. Well, at least they weren’t doing a GNR Use Your Illusion I & II. Oh crap! At the end of 2012, they released THREE albums in four months: ¡Uno!, ¡Dos! and ¡Tré! Yep, what should have been a brilliant run from 2009 through 2014, we got an abundance of ego and ambition. And, as if the band was truly ready for their own real episode of VH-1’s Behind the Music, bad luck and demons struck. Family members became ill. Billie Joe Armstrong, the creative force behind the band’s songs, fell prey to addiction. Now, the band and their families were backed in a corner. So, they turned inward. People got healthy. The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame actually inducted the band into the Hall in their first year of eligibility. When they played at the ceremony, I knew they were back and ready to make up for that three-to-four-year stretch during which the wheels came off of them.

Which leads me to today. I am STILL waiting on my mail carrier to hurry up an bring me my new Green Day album! I saw them last night on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. That new song “Bang Bang” rocks! Where is my album!

Wait! I hear the mail carrier’s vehicle. I gotta go! Have a great weekend….

I Was Reminded Of 25 Albums I Left Off My Previous Lists

As usual, my family and friends have stepped up to remind me of some essential albums I left off my previous two lists. It’s like everyone’s an expert now. You know the new adage, give a guy a blog, and he thinks he rules the world. As the Stones have said, “It’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but I like it, like it, yes i do.” Here we go again, in chronological order.

  1. James Brown – Live at the Apollo (1963). This is a document of why Brown was called “The World’s Hardest Working Man” and “Soul Brother #1”. Here is the beginning of funk.
  2. The Beach Boys – Pet Sounds (1966). This is what happens when a musical genius outgrows his band’s musical talents but not their singing talents. This is the act of pop music growing up.
  3. The Beatles – Revolver (1966). This is my favorite Beatles album, and the one that influenced my favorite genre of musical – power pop.
  4. Bob Dylan – Blonde on Blonde (1966). Oh the growth Bob displayed between his previous album (Highway 61 Revisited) and this one is extraordinary. Bob really DID change the world.
  5. The Zombies – Odessey and the Oracle (1968). This album takes Pet Sounds and combines it with Sgt. Pepper to create this baroque rock masterpiece.
  6. The Band – The Band (1969). The Band may have been the greatest rock band in the world when they recorded this gem of Americana music. The irony is it was created by an Arkansasan and four Canadians.
  7. Deep Purple – Machine Head (1972). Along with Sabbath and Zeppelin, Deep Purple helped birth heavy metal, along with the greatest guitar riff of all time, “Smoke on the Water”.
  8. Bob Dylan and the Band – The Basement Tapes (1975). The long-rumored and oft-bootlegged collaboration between Dylan and a fully constituted Band was a beautiful collection fun rock ‘n’ roll.
  9. Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s the Way of the World (1975). This album is the intersection of funk, soul and spirituality. Plus, it’s got a good beat and easy to dance to.
  10. Parliament – Mothership Connection (1975). We need the funk! Gotta have the funk! What else can I say?
  11. KISS – Destroyer (1976). And here’s the gateway drug of millions of kids into the metal scene. And what better way than using four masked men to do the trick.
  12. Lynyrd Skynyrd – One More from the Road (1976). This live album allowed the boys in Skynyrd to fully show their musical chops. In other words, these rednecks could jam! Plus, the album contains the definitive version of “Free Bird”, with all the yelling too.
  13. Stevie Wonder – Songs in the Key of Life (1976). If you really want to know where D’Angelo and Kendrick Lamar got their Black Power message, look to this classic. Wonder takes us on a musical history trip through the music of African Americans.
  14. Elvis Costello – My Aim Is True (1977). The greatest songwriter of rock’s third generation showed his fully developed skills on his debut. Plus, it has one of my favorite lines of all-time: “I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused.”
  15. Steely Dan – Aja (1977). This album is where jazz, rock and pop music met comfortably only because Becker and Fagen’s songwriting and vision.
  16. The Cars – The Cars (1978). As I have said before, this is the intersection of new wave and album oriented rock. Plus, their songwriting was strong.
  17. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – Damn the Torpedoes (1979). Created at a time when Petty and company had nothing left to lose except to push the boundaries of rock music beyond anything else.
  18. Cheap Trick – Heaven Tonight (1978). Here’s where Cheap Trick transcended power pop music and became rock stars, and eventually Hall of Famers.
  19. Def Leppard – Pyromania (1982). Who knew metal could be played within pop constraints? Sure, hair metal was the outcome. But, at least the band was gifted to us.
  20. Bob Marley – Legend (1984). Few Americans really knew the power of Bob Marley’s gift until after his death when this album was released.
  21. Eric B. & Rakim – Paid in Full (1987). Rap turned a corner after this album was released. Eminem would have never been possible if it weren’t for Rakim, possibly the greatest MC of all-time.
  22. Prince – Sign ‘o’ the Times (1987). This album was Prince’s third or fourth masterpiece, but this is the one that has the most lasting effect on music, from P.M. Dawn’s hippie hip hop through D’Angelo’s and Kendrick Lamar’s recent masterpieces.
  23. Pixies – Doolittle (1989). Here’s where Black Francis and company perfected the Loud-soft-loud song structure that Cobain would perfect in a couple of years in Nirvana.
  24. Pearl Jam – Ten (1991). These rock gods of the Nineties have outlasted everyone else from the grunge era through sure will and love. But, it is their first album which has stuck in our collective hearts the longest.
  25. Eminem – The Marshall Mathers LP (2000). Boy, did I ever catch hell over leaving this one off my original lists. This was a bonding album between my boys and me. Slim Shady may be the greatest rock alter-ego ever.

So, there’s my updated list. But, guess what? That’s right! There’s one more to come tomorrow that should set the record straight, once and for all!