PopCult

Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

Monday Morning Art: From The Depot

 

Our art this week is a quick and sloppy small study for a potential large-scale painting later. It’s so sloppy you can probably see where I dropped my straight-edge on the canvas board right when I was almost finished, and was too lazy to clean it up.

This is an acrylic study based on a photo taken from the train in Staunton, Virginia. There were a few utility poles and lines that I didn’t like, so I left them out. When I do this on a larger scale I may leave out the guy who was just standing there, staring at the train.

We’re still working on fixing the glitch that prevents you from seeing a bigger version.  For now, to see it bigger try clicking HERE.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a recent episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a recent edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis.  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

Psychedelic Shack can be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM,  and Saturday at 9 AM. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.

You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.

Tonight at 8 PM you can hear an hour of great stand-up by Billy Connelly on The Comedy Vault. Wednesday evening at 10 PM, we’ll have another new episode of The Comedy Vault.

Then, at 9 PM we bring you an overnight marathon of live, local music by some of Charleston’s best musicians.

Sunday Evening Video: The Jam, Live…Again

Sinice we have moved PopCult to an undisclosed location, away from the Charleston Gazette-Mail, I have been trying to go back and clean up broken links, missing graphics, and videos that have been yanked from YouTube. Tonight we bring you another one of those videos, originally posted here in August, 2014.

Enjoy The Jam, Live At Bingley Hall, Birmingham, England from 1982. Go back 40 years, when The Jam were a hot young English band that sprung out of the punk/new wave movement and spearheaded a short-lived Mod revival.  Paul Weller’s pre-Style Council band was one of those great musical entities that never quite managed to cross the Atlantic and find commercial success in the US. That doesn’t take away from the excellence of their R&B inflected, sharp British Pop-punk. 

Also, remember to keep checking PopCult for all our regular features and possible top secret surprises this week.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 98

This week The RFC Flashback goes to April, 2010, for Radio Free Charleston 98, “Marilyn Monroe Shirt,” featuring music by The Diablo Blues Band, David Synn and Captain Crash and The Beauty Queen. We also had animation by Frank Panucci, and a look at the then-new GI Joe Adventure Team.

You can read the original production notes HERE.

MIRRORBALL and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat Are New Friday On The AIR!

The PopCulteer
May 13, 2022

Don’t be frightened. Today is not like every other day. It’s the 13th day of the month, and this Friday we offer up shiny new episodes of MIRRORBALL and Sydney’s Big Electric Cat.  The AIR is PopCult’s sister radio station. You can hear these shows on The AIR website, or just click on the embedded player at the top right column of this blog.

At 2 PM, Mel Larch uncorks a new MIRRORBALL! The AIR’s showcase of classic Disco music presents a wild collection of classic Disco tracks from the classic era of people dancing in dark rooms on cocaine.

For one hour you can go back to the Golden Age of Disco, where the sideburns were long, the skirts were short and the dancing was endless.

Check out the playlist…

MB 51

Kool And The Gang “Hollywood Swinging”
The Crusaders “Street Life”
L.T.D. “(Everytime I Turn Around) Back In Love Again”
The Brothers Johnson “Stomp”
Donna Summer “Hot Stuff”
Oliver Cheatham “I Need To Find”
Tavares “Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel”
Leon Heywood “Don’t Push It, Don’t Force It”
Thema Houston “Don’t Leave Me This Way”
The Commodores “Lady”

You can hear MIRRORBALL every Friday at 2 PM, with replays Saturday at  9 PM (kicking off a mini-marathon), Sunday at 11 PM, Monday at 9 AM, and Tuesday at 1 PM  exclusively on The AIR.

At 3 PM, it’s Big Electric Cat time as Sydney Fileen delivers a special mixtape edition of her show that, rather than flowing smoothly, attempts to be as jarring and disconnected as possible. It’s all designed to jar your senses with the type of random diversity that you’d have experienced at the time.

It’s all in the spirit of fun, so check out this playlist…

BEC 090

Adam & The Ants “Kings of the Wild Frontier”
B 52s “Dance This Mess Around”
Duran Duran “Planet Earth”
Pretenders “I Go To Sleep”
Godley & Creme “Under Your Thumb”
Aneka “Japanese Boy”
Bad Manners “Can Can”
The Look “I Am The Beat”
The Police “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”
Visage “Fade To Grey”
Toyah “It’s A Mystery”
Madness ‘It Must Be Love”
Altered Images “Happy Birthday”
The Human League “Love Action”
ABC “Tears Are Not Enough”
Human Switchboard “Who’s Landing In My Hangar”
Siouxsie And The Banshees “Spellbound”
Fun Boy Three “The Lunatics (Have Taken Over The Asylum)”
Department S “Is Vic There”
The Teardrop Explodes “Reward”
Gary Numan “She’s Got Claws”
Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark “Souvenir”
Kim Wilde “Kids In America”
Ultravox “Vienna”
Japan “Quiet Life”
Hazel O’Connor “Will You”
Modern Romance “Everybody Salsa”
Spandau Ballet “Chant No. 1”
The Passions “I’m In Love With A German Film Star”
U2 “Fire”
UB40 “One In Ten”
The Jam “That’s Entertainment”

Sydney’s Big Electric Cat is produced at Haversham Recording Institute in London, and can be heard every Friday at 3 PM, with replays Saturday afternoon, Monday at 7 AM, Tuesday at 8 PM, Wednesday at Noon and Thursday at 10 AM, exclusively on The AIR.

That’s what’s on The AIR Friday, and that is this week’s PopCulteer. Check back every day for fresh content and loads of regular, irregular and constipated features.

The Power of Power Records

The PopCult Bookshelf

Power Trip
written and compiled by Jason Young
Self Published
$25 available directly from Jason Young/Old Times Digest

For the last couple of years, Jason Young has been self-publishing some terrific books about the fringes of pop culture where your humble blogger likes to shine his spotlight. He’s done it again with a great look at one of the niche collectibles from the pre-“Me Decade.”

Kids of the 1970s have fond memories of Power Records. Power Records was an imprint of Peter Pan Records, a long-running record label devoted to selling records to children.  They started out by producing kid’s novelty songs and storybook records, but during the 1960s Superhero boom, Peter Pan produced an album of DC superhero adventures, and a few “monster” records, and in the early 1970s they revisited the concept in a big way with the Power Records imprint.

Power Records is most known for producting book and record combo sets that included a comic book, with the best printing on the highest-quality paper that had been used for comics to that date, and a seven-inch single that brought the story to life with voice, music and sound effects, like a short radio play.  The company licensed characters from DC and Marvel, as well as Star Trek, Conan, Planet of The Apes and more. Not only were they beautifully-drawn comics, they were even educational, helping encourage some kids to learn to read.

At the time, a lot of hardcore comic snobs ignored these books because they had the stigma of being designed for kids. However, those comic snobs missed out on some of the most spectacular comic book art produced in the 1970s.  Power Records had hired the late Neal Adams and his Continuity Associates to oversee the artwork and production, and the end result was that the Power Records comics looked better than almost every regular comic book being produced at the time.

Most of the Marvel entries from Power Records were simply adapted and reprinted from existing comics, but for the rest, most of them sport covers by Adams, and much of the internal artwork shows his touch as well. Other artists working on the interiors included masters of the field, such as Russ Heath, Gray Morrow, Dick Giordano, Rich Buckler and others.

In his latest book, Power Trip, Jason Young gives us a generously-illustrated look at the history of Power Records and Peter Pan Records, and clears up some of the confusion over which imprint released which comic/record sets when. He also covers the end of the Power Records line, the switch to using cassettes instead of vinyl records, and a series of 12″ LPs that compiled the audio portions of these sets wih or without the comics (but usually with gorgeous new covers by Adams).

To be honest, I’m more than a little surprised that DC hasn’t released a collection of the stories featuring their characters, and that IDW hasn’t compiled the Star Trek comics into a hardcover yet.

These records were repackaged and reissued so many times in so many different formats that compiling a complete checklist would be extremely difficult. Young sidesteps that problem, instead just presenting as much information as he can, without trying to be complete. It’s much more useful as a reference book if it doesn’t try to be definitive about a business as undocumented as the kid’s records market in the 1970s.  You never know when a previously-unknown limited release or foreign-market edition of something may turn up.

The market for collecting Power Records has not gone crazy yet. Aside from a few items that can go for hundreds of dollars, most of the best book/record sets can be found for under fifty bucks, which isn’t bad considering the very high quality and the fact that these came out five or six decades ago.

As it is, Power Trip hits all the key points of the Power Records story, and packs a ton of information and artwork into its 156 pages. The art direction is clever and lets the graphics from the original records shine. Power Trip is a must-have for fans of 1970s mainstream comics. It was a little bittersweet receiving this book in the mail shortly after Neal Adams passed away. It’s loaded with his artwork, and stands as yet another tribute to his lasting influence and appeal.

Mid-May STUFF TO DO

As we approach the middle of May it’s time, once more, for your guide to things you can do in and around Charleston, Beckley and Huntington  this week in our latest edition of STUFF TO DO.

We are trying to get sort of back to normal here in the PopCult office and this week we’re again going to mention a few things that are happening that don’t have handy graphics for me to swipe. Links will take you to their Facebook events pages.

Live Music is back at Taylor Books. There is no cover charge, and shows start at 7:30 PM. Friday it’s The Parachute Brigade. Saturday sees Swingstein and Robin at Charleston’s Bookstore/coffeehouse/art gallery institution. Also, at Unity of Kanawha Valley in South Hills, Ron Sowell’s Open Mic will take place this Friday, May 13 at 7:30pm. Andrew Adkins will be the guest host. General admission is $5.00 with seniors, kids, and performers $2.00. Performer sign-ups start at 7pm.

This weekend in Beckley we have two very cool events that you will see listed below. Friday night Lady D, Doris Fields, presents the premeire of her video series, Those Who Came Before, celebrating West Virginia’s Black musical history and heritage. Then Saturday, just down the street, there will be an all-day tribute to Bill Withers. You can find the full details for both events in the graphics below.

Please remember that the pandemic is not over yet, and now only the stupidest of people are going without vaccinations if they’re eligible. Despite some recent dubious legal rulings, many people are still wearing masks, and many of us, understandably, are still nervous about being in crowds, masked or not. Be kind and understanding  while you’re out.

If you wanna hear something funny,  tune in to The AIR Wednesday night at 11 PM where we will offer up a new episode of The Comedy Vault, this time featuring an hour of allegedly funny songs by Allan Sherman.

In the meantime, if you’re up for going out, here are some suggestions from folks who were kind enough to provide graphics and make my job easier…

WEDNESDAY

THURSDAY

Continue reading

New Swing Shift Tuesday!

Tuesday on The AIR we deliver a brand-new episode of The Swing Shift.  In order to hear this new hour of Suh-Wing, you simply have to move your cursor over and tune in at the website, or you could just stay on this page, and  listen to that copascetic little embedded radio player at the top of the right column of this blog.

But before that, we bring you the latest Radio Free Charleston, which debuted last Thursday.  You can read about that show, and even listen on demand HERE. Then at 1 PM we have  two hours of  MIRRORBALL, including Mel Larch’s recent fiftieth episode.

At 3 PM a new hour of The Swing Shift arrives after a two-month absence with a show made up of some offbeat parts, including a set of female vocals and a song that literally arrived in the mail as I was putting the show together.

This morning when I checked my email I had a message from Tyler Pedersen. I’d already planned to include him in this week’s show, but he suggested that I feature The Boswell Sisters, a 1930s vocal trio from New Orleans who innovated three-part harmony and paved the way for everyone from The Andrews Sisters to The Manhattan Transfer to The Puppini Sisters. I haven’t really featured enough female vocals on the show, so I decided to offer up a couple of their tunes, and some from the singers they influenced. I even tossed in a song about them.

As I was finishing up the show, the mail ran and it brought “BAM” the latest album from The Daniel Glass Trio.  Glass is an amazing drummer who’s written books on the subject, and has played with Royal Crown Revue, The Brian Setzer Orchestra, Bette Midler and more top artists, when he’s not holding down the fort at Birdland of 54 Below in New York City. I rearranged the show and dropped in a cut from his new album right at the end.

By the way, it swings. Check out the playlist…

The Swing Shift 128

Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne “I Ain’t Gonna Be No Monkey Man”
Minor Swing “Minor Swing”
Joscho Stephan “Blues For Stochelo (live)”
Beverly Kenny “Destination Moon”
Ty Pedersen “Steppin’ Out”
The Boswell Sisters “Everybody Loves My Baby”
O Sister “Boswell Sisters Song”
The Puppini Sisters “Changes”
The Maguire Sisters “Sugar”
The Andrews Sisters “Strip Polka”
The Boswell Sisters “Crazy People”
Count Basie “In A Mellow Tone”
Brian Setzer Orchestra “That Mellow Saxophone”
Modern Jazz Quartet “Baseball”
Daniel Glass Trio “Bolivia”

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesday at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 8 AM and 6 PM, Thursday at 2 PM and Saturday afternoon, only on The AIR . You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Monday Morning Art: Construct #1

 

Our art this week is a digitally altered and transmogrified photograph, mirrored, stretched, squashed, run through filters and retouched so that you can’t really tell what it was to begin with.

I sort of like to keep it mysterious that way. It’s called “Construct #1.”

If you’d like to see it bigger, just click on the image.

Meanwhile, Monday at 2 PM on The AIR, we bring you a recent episode of  Psychedelic Shack, followed at 3 PM by a recent edition of Herman Linte’s weekly showcase of the Progressive Rock of the past half-century, Prognosis.  You can listen to The AIR at the website, or on the embedded radio player at the top of the right-hand column of this blog.

Psychedelic Shack can be heard every Monday at 2 PM, with replays Tuesday at 9 AM, Wednesday at 10 PM, Friday at 1 PM,  and Saturday at 9 AM. Classic episodes can be heard Sunday at 9 AM as part of our Sunday Haversham Recording Institute collection.

You can hear Prognosis on The AIR Monday at 3 PM, with replays Tuesday at 7 AM, Wednesday at 8 PM, Thursday at Noon, and Saturday at 10 AM. You can hear two classic episodes of the show Sunday at 2 PM.

Tonight at 8 PM you can hear an hour of classic Cheech and Chong on The Comedy Vault. Wednesday evening at 10 PM, we’ll have another new episode of The Comedy Vault.

Then, at 9 PM we bring you an overnight marathon of The Swing Shift, providing you with ten classic episodes of our weekly Swing Music showcase, hosted by your humble blogger, just because we haven’t run a Swing Shift Monday Marathon for quite a while and I should finally have the first new episode in over a month for you tomorrow.

You can hear The Swing Shift Tuesdays at 3 PM, with replays Wednesday at 8 AM, Friday at 8 PM and Saturday afternoon only on The AIR. You can also hear all-night marathons, seven hours each, starting at Midnight Thursday and Sunday evenings.

Sunday Evening Video: George Pérez

We have bumped our originally-scheduled edition of Sunday Evening Video to run the above half-hour summary of the comics career of George Pérez, whose death was announced yesterday.

Geroge’s death was not a shock. He had announced late last year that he’d been diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer and chose not to undergo chemotherapy. He knew he only had a matter of months to live, and happily, he made the most of that time, enjoying tributes from all around the industry, messages from fans and resting as comfortably as possible while spending time with his wife and family.

For those who don’t follow comics, it’s a little hard to explain how widely beloved and admired Pérez was. He was the definitive superhero team artist from the mid-1970s well into the 1990s. He co-created characters that have been featured in several DC and Marvel movies and TV shows, and his reboot of Wonder Woman, as the writer and artist, in the late 1980s elevated the super-heroine to her rightful status as part of DC Comics’ “Trinity” alongside Superman and Batman.

His work as the artist on DC Comics’ Crisis On Infinite Earths remains a pinnacle of superhero comics, as it included virtually every major character published by DC Comics, and the characters they’d acquired from othe publishers like Charlton Comics, Fawcett and Quality. That book redefined the entire DC Universe for future generations and has remained in print since it was collected in 1986.

It’s a real blow to comics to lose Pérez just eight days after Neal Adams died. Pérez was part of the first generation of comics artists to grow up with Adams as an influence, and Pérez managed to be much more prolific. For a few months in 1980 he was illustrating The New Teen Titans and The Justice League of America for DC at the same time he was drawing The Avengers for Marvel.

Pérez excelled drawing the “team” comics, where most artists dreaded such assignments. Drawing all those different superheroes and cramming them into each panel is quite a challenge, but Pérez enjoyed it and threw himself into the job, asking for even more characters to be tossed into the mix.

Pérez developed an almost definitive approach to comic book anatomy, with a streamline sense of how the human body was constructed, but also a diversity of body types and body language that made him one of the premiere storytellers to ever work in the superhero and science fiction genre.

He was the only artist who could have ever drawn a team-up of The Avengers and The Justice League, and after a soul-crushing false start in the 80s, that was killed by office politics, he finally got his chance in 2003, and he lived to see a new collection of that mini-series rush-published before he passed away.

The fact that DC and Marvel set aside years of corporate hostility in order to get that book into print says a lot about how beloved Pérez was. I’ve never heard a negative word uttered about the man, and that’s quite a feat for someone who was at the top of the industry for over four decades. He was such a nice person that he was in very high demand at comic book conventions and he did his best to make time for every fan. Everybody loved the guy.

That’s almost a bigger accomplishment than the fact that he co-created The New Teen Titans and several characters who were in the MCU Avengers movies, or that he rebooted Wonder Woman, was part of the reboot of Superman, drew The Infinity Gauntlet, or spent years as the top-selling artist in comics.

I remember being familiar with his work on The Avengers in the 1970s, but the first book he drew that I collected was Logan’s Run, for Marvel, and I was impressed. In 1978 Marvel published an unauthorized biography of The Beatles, and he was the penciller of that, and I became a fan for life.

I never had a chance to meet him in person, but we did exchange a couple of emails many years ago. As will millions of other comic book fans, George Pérez will always rank among my favorite comic book creators.

He left the comics industry and the world a better place.

Even in a small panel depicting a funeral scene, Pérez managed to include fifteen members of two superhero teams, plus a priest.

Pérez, along with inker Klaus Jansen and writer David Anthon Kraft, manage to distill the story of The Beatles down to 38 pages and still hit all the high points.

The RFC Flashback: Episode 96

From March, 2010 PopCult’s RFC Flashback brings you Episode 96 of Radio Free Charleston, “Storm In A Teacup Shirt.”

This edition of our local music, film and animation show includes music from one of the RFC favorite bands, WATT 4, and from the then-upcoming CYAC production,”Romeo and Juliet: A Rock Opera.” We also had a movie trailer from director Amy Trent, and the RFC debut of MURFMEEF.

This Flashback is a bittersweet one. You will see Mark Scarpelli, who just passed away in March, accompanying Austin Thomas, Micah Atkinson and Donnie Smith in the CYAC clip.

You can find the original production notes HERE.

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