All posts by limelightmagazine

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU” (2019)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight one of the filming locations for I Spit On Your Grave: Deja Vu  (2019). The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in October 2019. This shot was taken at Evergreen Cemetery, 204 North Evergreen Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. This exact location was also used in Mausoleum (1983) and A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984).

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – HELIX’S ‘WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

HELIX – WALKIN’ THE RAZOR’S EDGE (1984)

For longtime readers of The Cassette Chronicles, you might recall that the 1987 Helix album Wild In The Streets was the very first album to be spotlighted. It was the band’s sixth studio album but it was the very first time that I’d ever even heard of the band. Despite my enduring love of that album, I never really tried to hear the early Helix material until just recently. I tried to listen to a copy of Long Way To Heaven a while back but the tape pretty much imploded before I got two songs into it.

But after 160 or so articles since that first one on Wild In The Streets, I thought it was time to take another listen to the band’s earlier offerings and ended up pulling a copy of Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge out of The Big Box of Cassettes.

As I was taking notes I was surprised to see that the band recorded two covers amongst the ten tracks on the album. I did like their cover of the Crazy Elephant song “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin” which was amped up rather nicely. However, I was a little less enthused by the cover of the A Foot In Coldwater track “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”. It’s the only song on the album that you find the band hitting the brakes and making a turn towards balladry. I didn’t think the song was terrible in and of itself, but it just doesn’t really get me excited overall.

As for the rest of the album, what else can I say but…WOW! The band rocks out hard and fast throughout the other nine tracks (including the Crazy Elephant cover). And this is kind of why I seem to have an affinity for Helix. They just come out and rock your socks off with some hard charging rock and roll that sounds like it is the perfect soundtrack for a rocking Saturday night party. The fast fretwork from Brent Doerner and Paul Hackman get the blood pumping and singer Brian Vollmer (the only original member of the band still in the band lineup to this day) draws you in. I hope no one takes this in a negative way but his vocals always seem to be a little tongue in cheek. It’s a playful smart aleck kind of tone that helps enliven the proceedings just that much more. Vollmer’s vocals strike me that he’s having just as much of a good time as the music is intended to make the listener have for themselves.

The album opens with “Rock You” which was the first single released from the album. It’s got a perfectly catchy anthemic sound and sets the stage for the rest of the album’s fast charging rocking bent. The rest of Side One is just as aggresively entertaining as that song. The tracks “Young & Wreckless”, “Animal House”, “Feel The Fire” and the outstandingly cool sounding “When The Hammer Falls” are all designed to get you up and pumping your fists in the air.

The album’s two cover songs are on Side Two but sandwiched amid them are three more uptempo tracks. “My Kind of Rock” is another anthemic track with “You Keep Me Rockin'” closing out the album quite nicely. But it’s the song “Six Strings, Nine Lives” that really showcases just how furiously fast the band could rock out musically when they put their foot on the gas.

As I said, I’ve been very remiss in checking out the early origins of the band. But after listening to Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge, it is high time for me to rectify that gap in my musical experience. This is a hellaciously entertaining good time and show’s just how good a time it was to be growing up in the middle of the 1980’s hard rock uprising!

NOTES OF INTEREST: As I said, I want to check out more of the band’s early work and that should be a bit easier as four of their albums in total have been reissued on CD by Rock Candy Records. Besides Wild In The Streets and Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge (which has three live cuts included as bonus tracks), the No Rest For The Wicked and Long Way To Heaven albums are also available.

The band shot three videos for the album. They were for the songs “Rock You”, “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want” and “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”. According to the Wikipedia entry for the Walkin’ The Razor’s Edge album, Helix actually shot two versions of the video for “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”. One was the regular version to be shown on regular music channels. But the second one was the “adult” version which featured topless models in the video. However, I’m not sure that that version is available to see online because one of the models was porn star Traci Lords, who unbeknownst to the entire industry at the time (in 1984) was actually underage during the majority of her adult career. (Additional fun fact, I actually met Traci Lords at one of the Super Mega Fest conventions a few years back).

The song “Rock You” was written by Bob Halligan, Jr. He’s had a pretty prolific career both as a performer and a songwriter. Some of his credits include writing “(Take These) Chains” and “Some Heads Are Gonna Roll” for Judas Priest. He also wrote “Twist” for the Halford album Resurrection. He co-wrote seven of the ten songs on the Kix album Midnite Dynamite and co-wrote the band’s biggest hit song “Don’t Close Your Eyes” (from the Blow My Fuse album). He also co-wrote “Rise To It” and “Read My Body” with Paul Stanley for the Kiss album Hot In The Shade. Halligan Jr. has his own band called Ceili Rain.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “FRIDAY THE 13TH: pART 2” (1981)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight some of the filming locations for Friday the 13th: Part 2 (1981). The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath it is what the location looks like when I visited in June 2015.

These locations were shot in the towns of New Preston and Kent, CT. Unfortunately, all of the camp cabins used in the film that were located at North Spectacle Pond in Kent, CT, have been torn down.

Harry Manfredini reflects on his iconic “Friday the 13th” score and its legacy

By CHRISTOPHER TREACY

“Friday the 13th” film score composer Harry Manfredini signs the Warwork Records release of the album on vinyl in September 2014 at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA. Since then, Waxwork records has released the first seven films that Manfredini composed for the horror movie franchise on vinyl. (PHOTO BY J. KENNEY)

True innovators don’t often realize they’re marking new territory until after the fact.

 

When composer/musician Harry Manfredini got the job to score Friday the 13th, which is celebrating its 40th-anniversary this year, he already had a few notches in his professional belt, but he was mainly just trying to keep working.

 

“It was about putting food on the table,” he said recently, over the phone from his home in Valencia, California. “I knew I was going to get paid, and, at the time, that was enough for me. Nobody involved had any idea what we were onto. It wasn’t until we actually screened it and saw the audience’s reaction that we realized we had lightning in a bottle.”

 

Manfredini went on to score most of the Friday film franchise alongside a lengthy list of other projects. However, there was a time in his life when film scoring was more of a fantasy than anything else. As a classically trained musician playing sax in jazz clubs and earning a doctorate in Music Theory at Columbia University, he wasn’t at all sure what direction his career would take. A fellow Columbia student that was producing records on the side helped point him in the right direction.

 

It began slowly with a shoe commercial and assisting with some demos. That led to working with Arlon Ober (RobotechDeepStar Six) on the score for a controversial art-porn film released in 1976, Through the Looking Glass, directed by Joseph Middleton. Scoring music for porn might not seem like an auspicious break for a classically trained guy holding a doctorate, but Through the Looking Glass doesn’t sound anything much like the blaxploitation-toned soundtracks that characterize skin flicks from that era.

 

“Middleton told us he wanted a really classy, orchestral score,” he recalled. “It was wall-to-wall music forever – scored like a real film, very unusual. I’ve only seen the parts of it that I composed the music for, but it’s supposedly a well-regarded, experimental film for that genre.”

 

And as if to balance out Through the Looking Glass, Manfredini and Ober also scored two short films during that same time frame that went on to win Academy Awards, The End of the Game and Angel and Big Joe. Sometimes versatility is your best asset at the beginning of a career.

 

“One of the things you learn in the land of low budget and small films, especially back then in New York, is that with each one you work on, you’ll know some of the people on the next assignment,” he explained. “The small budget family is very small and very close, and we were all out there helping each other. “

 

When Ober left for California, Manfredini worried the phone might stop ringing, but the Academy Award wins opened some doors. It wasn’t long before someone introduced him to Sean S. Cunningham, producer and director of Friday the 13th.

 

“Given my background, I understand a lot of contemporary avant-garde music. But one of the things you learn about scoring films is how different the composition is from other modes of writing. You’re ninety percent dramatist ─ sometimes you write just one note, and it works. Your obligation is to the film, not to show off your chops or how complex your understanding of composition can be.”

 

Though he initially wondered who, if anyone, would go to see the film, Manfredini brought musical personality to the soundtrack of Friday the 13th by making his score come to life as a character. ‘Leitmotif’ is a compositional term mainly used in opera that denotes a recurrent passage of music associated with a specific person. In this case, he bent that musical tool to indicate the presence of someone we can’t see. It was an unusual twist for a slasher film.

 

“I told Sean that because we don’t see the killer until the ninth reel, we needed to somehow introduce them in reel one,” he said. “I suggested that we only have music when the camera is from the viewpoint of the killer, making it immediately indicative that we’re now seeing with their eyes. So, the score became a character, in that sense, and I think that’s a large part of what makes the music stand out so much.”

 

And stand out it certainly does, particularly with the chilling “Ki-ki-ki-ki…” and “Ma-ma-ma-ma…” chants (recordings of his own voice saying the words ‘killer’ and ‘mommy’ processed through some filters) and the orchestral swells that frame the boat scene toward the movie’s end.

 

“The chanting is scary because it’s a human sound,” he noted. “For the boat scene, it was my job to make the audience think the movie is over, and the editors stretched that damn thing out as far as they possibly could. I couldn’t imagine what the hell I was going to write to make that work.”

 

In the end, he chose to retool a country song he’d written for the diner scene from earlier on in the movie. The second version of the song bears little resemblance to its jaunty former self, presented as an orchestral piece with keyboards, light drumming, and a substantial ‘flange’ effect. It projects what one might call a ‘mournfully triumphant,’ tone, leading the viewer down a path of resolution and effectively indicating that the story is ending ─ but there’s just a hint of menacing undercurrent. Folks that are familiar with the film know why.

 

It would appear that, despite the unlucky associations with the calendar day itself, Friday the 13th is the gift that keeps on giving.

With a no-name cast (Kevin Bacon’s career was barely underway, leaving Betsy Palmer as the sole recognizable star) and a meager budget of $550,000, Friday the 13th still grossed nearly $60 million at the box office when it debuted in 1980. Now considered a classic, it’s been franchised, novelized, incorporated into comic books, and made into a video game. Manfredini, now 77, says producing music for the game was particularly challenging, given that the music continually shifts for each person playing (up to 8 simultaneous players) depending on the path they take.

About 15 years ago, Manfredini got clued into a fun world of fandom he previously didn’t know existed when he attended the movie’s 25th-anniversary screening in Los Angeles. Encouraged by Friday cast members ─ folks he’d never met before because the composer is usually the last person to work on a film ─ he discovered an audience, thriving at conventions throughout the country, that’s familiar with his work and wants his autograph. He’s since become a regular at these events.

A promotional poster for Harry Manfredini’s appearance at the Rockula Horror Expo in San Antonio, TX, in October 2017. Manfredini said he enjoys meeting fans of his scores and the “Friday the 13th” films at conventions across the country.

He’s also enjoyed a resurgence of interest in his scores through the vinyl revival. Horror-centric indie label Waxwork Records has pressed the original soundtrack twice, and it has completely sold out both times. In fact, all but three out of eight Manfredini releases the label has issued have sold out. He says he’s thrilled on multiple levels.

 

“It’s incredibly gratifying and monetarily tasty, too. What’s really cool is that we went to Paramount and got the original tracks specifically for the Friday stuff, and then they were remastered by James Nelson for the 6 CD box set that came out on La-La Land Records. I called him up and he asked me what I’d like to do, so I told him ‘more low end, more high end, and clean up the middle,’ because sometimes the mid-range can get plugged up. He added some reverb, and when I heard the results, it was like night and day! I’m very grateful to him for helping my work sound so good. For the vinyl releases, Kevin Bergeron at Waxworks remastered the tracks specifically for vinyl, which requires a different process, working off of the great sounding transfers that James Nelson had already done. They’re unbelievably good.”

La-La Land Records was the first company to release an officially licensed box set of “Friday The 13th” soundtracks back in 2012. The limited edition and long sold out set contained the first six “Friday the 13th” film soundtracks that were composed by Harry Manfredini.

Recently, at the request of an orchestra in Spain, he’s reworked the Friday the 13th score into an orchestral suite, which then got performed by a group at MIT (a YouTube video exists). To continue fostering the trend, he’s also remade DeepStar Six into an orchestral suite and is currently developing Suite from Swamp Thing. Additionally, Austin-based film composer Brian Satterwhite has interviewed him extensively for an upcoming book about the music of Friday the 13th.

According to IMDB, Manfredini also has many new scoring projects on the horizon, and, looking at the long list of contributions to his credit, he’s remained consistently busy. Curiously, he says he’s not a big fan of horror as a genre because much of it involves gratuitous killing and torture. He sees Friday the 13th as a murder mystery.

 

Friday the 13th knew what it was, it knew what it was going to be, and it didn’t try to be anything else. The cast looked like a bunch of regular people, not models, and you briefly got to know each one of them. It knew exactly what it was, and for what it was, it was very good.”

Film composer Harry Manfredini signs a poster art insert of the “Friday the 13th” vinyl soundtrack at a signing at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA. (PHOTO BY J. KENNEY)

[PUBLISHER’S NOTE:  Harry Manfredini & Fred Mollin’s score to Friday the 13th Part VII: New Blood was recently released on CD through La-La Land Records. Copies of the CD signed by Manfredini are currently available for pre-order at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, CA, by clicking HERE. Please support small businesses during these difficult times.)

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – TOTO’S ‘IV’

By Jay Roberts

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

TOTO – IV (1982)

The first Toto album was a big hit for the band, but after the next two albums weren’t as successful, the group had one last shot to hit it big or face being dropped from their label.

The pressure of having to create music that will please a large audience might crack any performer but Toto rose to the occasion and gave music fans 1982’s IV album.

If you are the least bit familiar with Toto, then you’ve certainly heard their two most successful songs. “Rosanna” opens the album and “Africa” closes things out. If you were only interested in those particular tracks, the cassette makes it easy to play the first, then flip it over and essentially play the second right off as well.

Now, I’m a big fan of both songs. Whenever I hear them on the radio I still harken back to the days when I would listen to the track on the radio in my room at the time and sing along with each verse. Not that I was any good at it but I got the joy out of the song regardless.

I’ve owned this particular cassette for decades and while I probably should upgrade, the fact that I didn’t lets me write this article and come to realize that I really didn’t pay much attention to the rest of the material on IV.

I never realized that they had five singles released. And while “Waiting For Your Love” didn’t make a dent in the charts (which isn’t surprising because it fell flat as I listened to it), the other four songs certainly did. “Rosanna” went to #2 while “Africa” became the band’s only #1 hit.

But what I never knew before now was how “Make Believe” became a Top 30 hit (and was actually released before “Africa”.)  I vaguely remember the uptempo number but hearing it now gave me a new appreciation for the song. Oh, and the ballad “I Won’t Hold You Back” was went to #10. I remember the song well enough but since I haven’t paid enough attention to the album and the track listing in all these years, I didn’t remember the song was on this album. Instead, my familiarity comes from the fact I hear it on the radio station that plays at my job. The song is really low-key but rather enjoyable.

The surprise of the album’s first side for me was the song “Good For You”. A lively quick pacing had me tapping my foot along to the music and it was almost like hearing the song for the very first time.

I will say that I wasn’t all that fond of “It’s A Feeling”. The big reason for that was the completely undersold way the vocals were performed. I know that Toto is sometimes referred to as “soft rock” but this was just WAY too soft for my tastes.

The album’s second side started off superbly with the catchy beat of “Afraid Of Love”. It’s a pretty standout song really. But the weird thing is that it doesn’t really seem to get a proper ending. Instead, the next song “Lovers In The Night” seems to just start as one flowing from the other. That might’ve been okay if I’d like the song but I really got nothing out of it.

But you soon forget that when you hear “We Made It” which is another bit of lively rock and roll from the band.

It’s no great shakes to say that IV is Toto’s most famous album and that it is jam-packed with a host of great songs. Both statements are solid facts. But if like me, you haven’t spent years obsessing over the band’s music, it is quite the nice experience to learn or perhaps be reminded that the album not only stands the test of time but is always waiting there for a new generation of listeners to discover of their own accord.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The IV album was certified triple platinum in the U.S. and has reportedly sold 12 million copies worldwide since its release. Rock Candy Records did a reissue of the album in 2015.

Timothy B. Schmit from The Eagles sang backing vocals on the songs “I Won’t Hold You Back”, “Good For You” and “Africa”.

Singer Bobby Kimball was fired from the band two years after the release of IV, but returned to the band a second time for a 10 year stint. Reportedly, he’s battling dementia now.

Toto is reforming after a hiatus but only guitarist Steve Lukather and singer Joseph Williams are listed as current members of the band.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – BANG TANGO’S ‘DANCIN’ ON COALS’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BANG TANGO – DANCIN’ ON COALS (1991)

It’s a little crazy I know, but I’ve never really found myself drawn to the music of Bang Tango. Oh sure, when the band’s first album, Psycho Cafe, came out in 1989 I heard and saw the video for “Someone Like You” a number of times. It was a decent enough song but when the song would end, I would move on and put the band out of my mind.

When Dancin’ On Coals, the band’s second album, came out in 1991 the process pretty much repeated itself. I remember hearing the album’s title track but continued to move on without really checking out the rest of the band’s music. I don’t even remember hearing the song “Untied and True” which was one of the songs released as a single from this album and apparently even shot a video.

All this is to demonstrate that I pretty much know nothing about Bang Tango besides a couple of songs that got them played on the radio. But I really don’t have any kind of explanation for why I never delved further into their catalog.

This week, when I pulled Dancin’ On Coals out of The Big Box of Cassettes, I was tempted to put it back and pick another album. I wasn’t sure that I wanted to hear it. But following the rules I established for myself, I put the cassette in the player and it was off to the races.

So to speak anyway. See, if you look the band up on Wikipedia part of the descriptors for their sound is funk rock. I’m not opposed to that stylistic choice but like anything else, you can go overboard with it. And that’s pretty much what happened with the album’s first song “Soul To Soul”. I found it an entirely underwhelming track in large part because it mostly forgoes any real rock sound (there are little flourishes) and focuses more on a pop/funk vibe that worked against the song in terms of me being drawn into it.

As if to illustrate the notion that I can like a funk sounding song, the album’s closing song “Cactus Juice” feature a heavy funk and rock soundtrack in equal measure that makes for quite the interesting song. This is a song that I really enjoyed and there’s a nifty little solo as well.

But let’s head back to the first side of the album. After the disappointing to me opening track, the more rock driven tempo asserts itself on “Untied And True”. There’s a nice rhythmic feel to the music and it stands out amongst the material. Yes, I probably should’ve known this years ago but let’s move on from my well-documented musical ignorance, yes?

While I did quite enjoy the more energetic pacing of songs like “I’m In Love” and “Big Line”, I wasn’t at all into the song “Emotions In Gear”. The reason? I really did not like the soft peddled delivery when it came to singer Joe LeSte’s vocals.

The first side of the album closes with a ballad but before any regular readers skip over this mention because of my disdain for the song genre, this actually turned out to be a pretty good track. Okay, at first I didn’t start out liking the song but once it hit the chorus, I did enjoy that immensely and that helped the song grow on me as a whole.

While the first side of the album was somewhat hit or miss, the second side of Dancin’ On Coals really got my adrenaline flowing.

After the title track, which remains a damn fine song, you’ve got great rocking songs like “Dressed Up Vamp” and “Last Kiss” which show off the rest of the band nicely. Of particular note is the guitar work from six string duo Mark Knight and Kyle Stevens.

Bang Tango’s Dancin’ On Coals album features eleven tracks and I ended up liking nine of them. Proof positive that I needed to do a far better job of vetting the bands I decided to check out back in the day. If I had, maybe it wouldn’t take me nearly 30 years to discover that this album was pretty damn good!

NOTES OF INTEREST: While Psycho Cafe did nicely for Bang Tango, the bloom seemed to already be off the rose when Dancin’ On Coals was released. It only made it to #113 on the Billboard album charts.

Bang Tango had a few breakups over the years. They’ve also featured a revolving lineup during their inevitable reunions. However, since 2019 the original lineup of singer Joe LeSte, guitarists Mark Knight and Kyle Stevens, drummer Tigg Kettler and bassist Kyle Kyle have been back together in full.

Singer Joe LeSte formed the band Beautiful Creatures with guitarist DJ Ashba in 1999. They release a self-titled debut album in 2001 and Deuce in 2005.

LIMELIGHT mAGAZINE’S FAVORITE 31 FEMALE DIRECTED HORROR FILMS

Every October Limelight Magazine focuses its attention on horror films. This year, we decided to rank our favorite 31 horror movies directed by females. While Hollywood is still predominately male driven with its offerings, women are increasingly making a name for themselves in the horror genre, especially during the past decade.

Despite the critical praise and positive audience response to many of the films on this list, most of these female directors don’t have same name recognition in the genre as John Carpenter, Wes Craven, David Cronenberg, Brian DePalma, and George A. Romero or even more contemporary male directors like Mike Flanagan, Eli Roth or James Wan.

What these female filmmakers have done is tip the horror movie genre upside down by offering a different perspective for the viewer. In the stomach-churning Revenge, for instance, French director Corlalie Fargeat takes the rape-revenge formula to a whole new level with the multi-layered performance from lead actress Matilda Lutz.

As film critic Christy Lemire noted in her positive review of the movie on robertebert.com, Revenge is “intense and often excruciating to watch, but it’s also extremely satisfying as it allows us to live vicariously through a woman who delivers payback and then some to the men who viewed her as disposable. Fargeat displays a masterful balance of tone and pacing, as well as a super-stylish visual flair and a heightened ear for sound design. Revenge is shocking but not gratuitously so; surprisingly, it ends up becoming a feel-good tale of a woman enduring a series of horrific abuses and triumphantly coming into her own.”

It should be noted that we have not seen every horror movie directed by a female but we’ve definitely tried to see as many as possible. By our most recent count, we’ve seen close to 100 and this list could easily change as we view more films. However, this is what we came up with and we hope you take the time to check these films out.

  1. The Babadook (2014) – Directed by Jennifer Kent

  1. Raw (2017) – Julia Ducournau

  1. Revenge (2018) – Coralie Fargeat

  1. The Invitation (2015) – Karyn Kusama

  1. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2015) – Ana Lily Amirpour

  1. The Lodge (2019) – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

  1. The Nightingale (2019) – Jennifer Kent

  1. Near Dark (1987) – Kathryn Bigelow

  1. We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011) – Lynne Ramsay

  1. Pet Semetary (1989) – Mary Lambert

  1. You Were Never Really Here (2018) – Lynne Ramsay

  1. American Psycho (2000) – Mary Harron

  1. Rust Creek (2019) – Jen McGowan

  1. Prevenge (2016) – Alice Lowe

  1. Goodnight Mommy (2015) – Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala

  1. M.F.A. (2017) – Natalia Leite

  1. Sea Fever (2019) – Neasa Hardiman

  1. Honeymoon (2014) – Leigh Janiak

  1. Slumber Party Massacre (1982) – Amy Holden Jones

  1. In My Skin (2002) – Marina de Van

  1. Rabid (2019) – Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska

  1. The Ranger (2018) – Jennifer Wexler

  1. Tigers Are Not Afraid (2019) – Issa Lopez

  1. American Mary (2012) – Jen Soska & Sylvia Soska

  1. Chained (2012) – Jennifer Lynch

  1. Sorority House Massacre (1986) – Carol Frank

  1. Relic (2020) – Natalie Erika James

  1. Evolution (2015) – Lucile Hadzihalilovic

  1. Trouble Every Day (2001) – Claire Denis

  1. Jennifer’s Body (2009) – Karyn Kusama

  1. Soulmate (2016) – Axelle Carolyn

The Cassette Chronicles – Banshee’s ‘Race Against Time’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BANSHEE – RACE AGAINST TIME (1989)

You’ll have to forgive me this week because I have to claim complete ignorance about the album I’m writing about. It doesn’t happen often but the debut full-length album Race Against Time from Banshee had me stumped.

I do not remember either the band or the album at all. This is a pretty rare experience for me because when the album was originally released in 1989, I would’ve been at the height of my personal musical investment in the decade of metal ruling the world. I might not have heard every album but usually I would’ve at least heard a song or two. Hell, I would probably have heard of the band at least. But sadly, that is not the case with Banshee.

The band’s sound at the time of Race Against Time’s release was what you might expect. It was a highly commercial melodically infused rock/metal blend. In other words, it was what is now called “hair metal”. And while that term is generally used as an insult, it isn’t that to me. It is a fitting way to describe a large portion of what made the 1980’s musically relevant for me.

The album features eleven tracks, but you can quickly discount two of them right off the bat. Unless you are an instrumental purist, the songs “Circular Flight Of The One Winged Sparrow” and the album’s closing piece “Desert Moon” amount to little more than musical doodling. I know that might seem a little harsh but neither piece really serves to enhance the overall listening experience for me.

But that isn’t to say that I didn’t enjoy what else the album has to offer. The first side of the album opens up with the song “Shoot Down The Night”. If your goal is to offer up a track that perfectly encapsulates what your band is about, Banshee did a superb job with this song. The funny thing about this song is that when I was first listening to the album and making my notes for the article, I wrote “single worthy” about this song. Turns out that I called that right because if you do a YouTube search, there’s an official video for the song. Again, the fact that I didn’t know anything about Banshee before now leads to these “new” discoveries for me.

The song “All Alone” is also fast moving but there’s a little bit of a moody atmosphere to the overall sound of the song as well. Singer Tommy Lee Flood has a deeper sounding vocal presence than a lot of other singers of the era but his delivery is pretty spectacular and I really dug into his vocals on the majority of the album’s tracks. Also, while the album lists all the songs as being written by the band, all the lyrics are separately credited to Flood.

The guitar-driven speediness of songs like the album’s title track and Side Two’s “Drive Like Hell” are a testament to the talents of guitarist Terry Dunn. Each track lives up to the titles of the songs and you find yourself incredibly amped up as you listen to the songs.

I also quite enjoyed the closing song on Side One, “Call of the Wild”. It’s another hard driving and rocking song which fits in perfectly with the rest of the album.

The band’s music focuses mostly on hook-laden fast paced rockers. This gives it a slight edge with me since they don’t get overly bogged down with pursuing “balladry” immortality. The one power ballad that is included doesn’t show up until late in the second side of Race Against Time. It’s called “Missing You” and my reaction to the song was about as generic and uninspiring as the song itself. It is just not my cup of tea at all.

But that’s the essential low point of the album for me because tracks like “Precious Metal” which is lively rocking throughout helped fuel the growing appreciation I had for this album.

The standout track for me on the second side of the album was the song “Get It On The Run”. It’s a song that is just purely energetic and drives home the band’s signature sound.

It isn’t often that I find myself utterly flummoxed by a lack of any kind of knowledge about a band from the time when I was growing up as a music fan. But I will tell you that I really found myself enjoying Race Against Time. Whatever the circumstances that surrounded Banshee not becoming a bigger presence on the music scene at the time of this album’s original release, I have to acknowledge the fact that I really missed out on them back in 1989. If I had heard it then, I think that I would’ve been a big fan of the band.

NOTES OF INTEREST: While the band broke up around 1993, they did reunite for various concerts throughout the ’90s and 2000s. When the band played a reunion show at the 2008 Rocklahoma festival, Tyson Leslie played bass for them. You might know him best today as the keyboardist for Vixen.

Bill Westfall, who played bass on Race Against Time, was a part of the band during three separate occasions. However, he is listed as having passed away during 2020 on the band’s Wikipedia page.

The band released an EP and two studio albums before their original breakup. They are still active today though. Terry Dunn is the only founding member of the band still in the lineup. Banshee has released two further albums this decade. Mindslave (2012) and The Madness (2019) mark a dramatically different and much heavier sound for the band. This might turn some people off but I checked out a couple of tracks from the albums on YouTube and found them to my liking.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD” (1968)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films. Today we spotlight some of the filming locations for Night of the Dead. The film, which was directed by the late George A. Romero, was released in 1968. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath is what the location looks like when we visited in June 2018.

The filming locations for those featured below were taken at Evans City Cemetery, located at 8600 Franklin Road in Evans City, Pennsylvania.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – COREY HART’S ‘fIRST OFFENSE’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

COREY HART – FIRST OFFENSE (1984)

It’s funny how some songs stick with you even with the passage of decades without giving much thought to the artist who performed it.

For better or for worse, that’s how it works for me regarding singer Corey Hart. He had a monster hit from this debut album in the song “Sunglasses At Night”. The song went to #7 on the Billboard singles chart and I can distinctly remember loving the song as it climbed the charts each week on Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio program.

I won’t admit to wearing sunglasses whenever I heard the song during the night as I would either sing or lip-synch along to the song, but if you want to assume that I did, I probably couldn’t truthfully argue with you about it. The song was just a really cool track. The funny thing is that I can’t remember the video at all. I know it got some heavy rotation on MTV but even after reading the Wikipedia information about what goes on in the video, I can’t recall it. This seems strange to me since I usually have a good memory regarding videos from the 80’s.

This is another one of those albums that I never got around to buying back in the days when I barely had started working so I wasn’t exactly flush with cash to buy everything I might’ve wanted. So when I listened to First Offense for this article, I was surprised that the album isn’t merely a pop music album. It’s got some decent rock and roll sounds to it. While the only other song released as a single was the ballad “It’s Ain’t Enough” (#17 on the singles chart), there are actually a number of songs that struck my fancy.

On the first side of the album “Lamp At Midnite” and “She Got The Radio” are strong tracks while I found “Peruvian Lady” to be a bit of a drag despite the quick moving pace of the song.

The second side of the album opens up with an incredibly strong rock track “Does She Love You”. It’s not only got a great rock vibe but the guitar work on the song is fantastic. Setting aside the strength of the album’s two singles, this is probably my favorite track of the rest of the album.

The song “Cheatin’ At School” was a bit less interesting but there’s some more strong guitar work in the song, particularly the solo. I wish I could say even that much about “The World Is Fire” but I just didn’t like that one all that much.

I’m about as uncoordinated and lacking in the necessary rhythm to be anything but an embarrasment to myself and others on the dance floor but the jaunty pace and delivery of the song “At The Dance” does get your foot tapping and if you were inclined to dance, this would be a song you might’ve heard on the audio system back in the day. It’s a get up and go type of rhythmic track and despite my inability to dance, I enjoyed the song.

It’s funny how you sometimes make connections that make no sense between songs. When I first heard the opening of the album’s closing track “Jenny Fey”, I was reminded of the song “Jenny of Oldstones” that was featured in the “A Knight Of The Seven Kingdoms” episode of the TV series Game of Thrones. I don’t know why my brain tied the songs together because the tracks really don’t share much in common beside the name “Jenny”. But the connection was made nonetheless. Whatever the reason, I found the ballad to be quite intriguing and it made for quite the all-encompassing way to end the album for me.

It isn’t always a good thing to revisit the pop music of the early-mid 1980’s. There’s been an album here and there that made me question why I had ever liked that track or group back in the day. But I have to say getting the full album exposure to First Offense was a pretty good experience for me. Sure, it’s not perfect but it is rare that any album is and despite a couple tracks that I found wanting, this is a pretty darn good release.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The First Offense album has three versions. The first two were Canadian releases in 1983 before the US version (all three are slightly different) came out in 1984. The US release is the version of the album I have. The US release was certified Gold.

Corey Hart was nominated for four Juno Awards (the Canadian Grammys) in 1984 and won for “Best Video”. He was also nominated for the Best New Artist Grammy Award for the same year.

The song “Jenny Fey” features Eric Clapton making a guest appearance on the Dobro guitar.