FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “The Fast and the Furious” (2001) and “Nightcrawler” (2014)

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 two of the filming locations for The Fast and the Furious (2001). The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath is what the location looks like today.

This filming location used for the Toretto home is located at 722 N. East Kensington Road, Echo Park, CA, while “Toretto’s Market and Cafe” (Bob’s Market) is located at 1230 Bellevue Ave, Los Angeles, CA.  

Bob’s Market was also featured in the movie Nightcrawler (2014).

The Cassette Chronicles – Accept’s ‘Death Row’

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.

ACCEPT – DEATH ROW (1994)

The Death Row album is the 10th studio album from Accept and it is jam packed with a lot of music. This is both good and bad in my view. When this album came out I wouldn’t have said that I would count myself as anything more than perhaps a casual fan of the band. Despite loving the song “Balls To The Wall”, it took me a while to get around to becoming a full-fledged member of the Accept fan base.

But now that I am a huge fan of the band, I’ve acquired most of their studio albums and get to enjoy what I may have missed out on the first time around. What I found with Death Row and its 15 song track listing is that much like a novelist who turns in a book that is entirely overwritten, the band could’ve used an editor to prune the album of its weakest parts.

The album does get off to a strong start. The title track opens the album with a relentlessly pounding soundtrack and there is an oddly effective kind of rhythmic swing to singer Udo Dirkschneider’s vocal performance on the track.

On the rest of side one, songs like the rocket-fueled “Sodom & Gomorra” and “Guns ‘R’ Us” help give the album some of its highest points. On “Guns ‘R’ Us”, guitarist Wolf Hoffman has a particularly fantastic solo.

But then you have songs like “Dead On!” and “Like A Loaded Gun” which never felt all that fully-formed to my ears.

Still, the side closing “What Else” is a pretty solid track and I love the song “The Beast Inside”. That particular song starts out with a slow intro that helps establish a moodier atmosphere to the track. Even as the pace of the song picks ups, that ominous tone remains throughout and helps give the song that much more of an epic feeling.

Side two of the album found me discovering it is probably not a good idea to listen to an album first thing in the morning when you had a mediocre night of sleep. I actually nodded off in the middle of the music and had to rewind the tape to listen to the two songs I missed.

Side two opens strongly with aggressively attacking numbers like “Stone Evil” and “Prejudice”. The lyrics for the latter song are anti-racism in nature but while the sentiment is strong that message doesn’t detract from the song as a whole. That is the true sign of a great song in my book.

Death Row features just one slow song that might be mistaken as a ballad. For all their metal bonafides and the gravelly rip your throat out vocals from Dirkschneider, I almost always find myself impressed when they pull out a song that is slow and dramatic in presentation. The focused clarity of the vocal performance on “Writing On The Wall” is pretty affecting.

The song “Generation Clash II” felt like a stab at a sci-fi angle to the band’s songwriting but it came off for me a bit pedestrian. I can live with that but I am utterly confused about the decision to close out the album with the instrumentals “Drifting Away” and “Pomp And Circumstance” (yes, the music you hear played at high school graduations). Neither song is particularly intriguing and these are definitely songs I would’ve cut from the release.

The volcanic rocking from Accept is best demonstrated on Side Two with the songs “Bad Habits Die Hard” and “Bad Religion”. Fast paced and relentless, you will not get a second’s rest.

I suppose that when you have 15 songs on an album, there’d bound to be a clunker or two. It is likely the nature of the beast when it comes to songwriting. But in the final analysis, Death Row is a solid album that could’ve been even greater if Accept had been a bit more judicious selecting what songs they included on this release.

NOTES OF INTEREST: On the cassette edition of the album, the song “Bad Religion” is listed on the physical cassette but is eliminated from the track listing on the liner notes. On the CD edition, it is included in the printed track listing. The lyrics are included in the CD booklet but not on the cassette insert.

Stefan Kaufmann recorded the album’s drum tracks except for the songs “Bad Habits Die Hard” and “Prejudice”. Those were done by Stefan Schwarzmann, who took over as the drummer for the tour supporting the Death Row album when Kaufmann stepped down due to health problems.

Drummer Carmine Appice is mentioned in the thank you section of the liner notes.

The Cassette Chronicles – Journey’s ‘Evolution’

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.

JOURNEY – EVOLUTION (1979)

This week’s random draw out of “The Big Box of Cassettes” was a bit of a surprise for me. I actually already owned a copy of Evolution on cassette but this copy came to me courtesy of my friend Jeff from Georgia.

The funny thing about this copy for me was that it had never been opened. The plastic wrapping was intact and still had the $4.99 bargain bin price tag on it from a Woolworth’s store. Of course, there was a $2.99 price tag on the front of the album so you know this came cheap.

But hey, a brand new copy to listen to for this article is always a good thing in my book. And it is pretty hard to go wrong with a Journey album once they started writing some hit songs. And let’s face it, Steve Perry has one of the signature vocal sounds of all time. When you hear him sing, you KNOW it is him!

I know that this album’s release year of 1979 falls just outside of my usual range of material to cover but it does show what was to come when the band really took flight in the 1980’s. While I started my musical love for the band’s music with the Frontiers album, I went back and bought as much of their earlier albums as I could find at the time. But the further back you go, the less interesting the music was to me. The earliest Journey albums are ones that I don’t think I’ve listened to after initially buying them. They just weren’t my cup of tea.

But when Steve Perry joined up for the Infinity album, the band’s sound became much more accessible and the hits started coming. That lead into Evolution and a bit of a re-discovery for me.

Whenever I hear a Journey song on the radio, it is a welcome few minutes. But because I hear them on the radio all the time, I kind of forget what songs come from what albums. While I’m really familiar with Evolution songs like “Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” and “Just The Same Way” given their standing as all-time great Journey tracks, it was finding out (again) that so many of the songs on the album were songs that I just loved. Oh, and I’d forgotten that Gregg Rolie sang the majority of the lead vocals on “Just The Same Way”.

The album opens with the one song I didn’t care for, the instrumental track “Majestic”. I found myself thinking, “Come on…get on with it willya?”

But after that speedbump, boy did the fun kick off! I think I’d forgotten about the song “Too Late” but I loved hearing it and being reminded of just how much I enjoyed the song. And I think that I’d classify “City of Angels” as one of the more underappreciated songs in the band’s catalog.

But what I really liked about the first side of the album was the last two tracks. “When You’re Alone (It Ain’t Easy)” is a pretty up-tempo track that got me pumped up and though I know I’ve heard it before, “Sweet and Simple” felt like a brand new song to me and I really got into that track a lot.

The band’s more in-your-face rocking style on the opening track of side two gave “Lovin’ You Is Easy” an extra bit of heft for me. I thought the guitar work on this song as well as “Just The Same Way” was pretty striking.

While both “Daydream” and “Lady Luck” are solid tracks that I enjoyed a lot, the song “Do You Recall” was a song that I quite frankly didn’t recall much at all. But the fast pacing and just pure song craft got me to invest in the song a lot. It was like hearing the song for the first time and liking it right from the start.

There’s no denying that I am a huge fan of the band’s glory days. They gave you some of the best rock and roll has to offer. The version of the band that exists today is an utter embarrassment of public pissing contests and dueling lawsuits that have left more than a little tarnish on their legacy. However, Journey defined what was once “arena rock” and is now mostly referred to as classic rock. Evolution is a pretty good representation of all that the band had to offer and a great starting point for both new and old fans alike.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Evolution sold over three million copies and was the highest charting album for the band at that point in time. The album was the first to feature Steve Smith on drums. He was hired to replace Aynsley Dunbar who had performed on the first four Journey albums.

Roy Thomas Baker produced Evolution as well as its immediate predecessor Infinity. He’s had a legendary career working with Free, Queen, Nazareth, Foreigner, The Cars and many more acts.

The Cassette Chronicles – JOHN CAFFERTY AND THE BEAVER BROWN BAND’s ‘TOUGH ALL OVER’

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.

JOHN CAFFERTY AND THE BEAVER BROWN BAND – TOUGH ALL OVER (1985)

Back in 2018, I wrote an article in this series about the John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band album Roadhouse. As I said then, I know that they will always be most famous for the song “On The Dark Side” from the first Eddie and the Cruisers movie. But then again most musicians would kill to have even one song that stands the test of time.

I admit that I come to my own fandom for the band because of the movie soundtracks but hearing the stuff not tied to those films, I can see just what people seem to have missed out on. After the smash success of the first movie soundtrack, the band’s second album might not have had the same level of commercial success but Tough All Over is a pretty damn solid piece of music.

The pure rock and roll sound the band captures in their music always seems to grab me whenever I listen to their music. The soulful and powerful vocals and the driving rhythms and pounding beat are further enhanced with that sweet saxophone sound cutting through the mix. The keyboards give the material an added dimension and when you mix in that all-female backing chorus employed on a couple of the album’s songs, the material on Tough All Over just becomes a bit of magic.

Side One opens with three of the four singles that were released in support of the album. “Voice of America’s Sons” has a quick up-tempo pace and there is a strikingly good guitar solo. In fact, the guitar work from Gary Gramolini is pretty damn enticing throughout the album.

The title track became a Top 40 hit for the band as a single and it is one of those “story” type songs that lets the band’s ability as chroniclers of “small town hopes and dreams” shine bright. I know that is the bread and butter of Springsteen but surely there’s always room for more than one artist to mine that particular vein of songwriting, yes?

The third song on Side One is “C-I-T-Y” which was a Top 20 hit for the band on the singles chart and believe me, the zesty driving beat to the song is all you could ever hope for when it comes to a fun, get the party started rock and roll anthem.

The entire first side of the album is actually chock full of one upbeat and up-tempo rock and roll song. Cafferty’s vocals are always the immediate draw. He’s got a sound that becomes imprinted on the listener and whenever you hear him sing, you immediately recognize that sound. Those first three songs may be the hits but when you listen to “Where The Action Is” and “Dixieland”, you understand just how good he is at making the lyrics come alive for you.

The second side of the album is a bit of a different breed in comparison to the first side. It opens with a rocking “Strangers In Paradise” but then things kind of slow down. The material hits the only real speedbump for me on “Small Town Girl”. The song was the fourth single from the album and I just really couldn’t find any way to appreciate the track. I was bored, plain and simple.

On “More Than Just One Of The Boys”, the songwriting-slash-storytelling comes to the forefront once more. I’ve said before how much I like stories of any kind and this is the band once again proving they’ve got those authorial chops.

After being fueled up with all the rocking anthems and stories, I think the slow pace of “Small Town Girl” was part of what made me dislike the song. But given that Tough All Over‘s closing song “Tex-Mex (Crystal Blue)” was similarly paced, I was a bit flabbergasted that the song drew me in far more than the other track. It may not have been an adrenaline burst in terms of pacing but the band’s focused musicianship melded together with Cafferty’s emotive vocal take to envelop the listener and transport them to the Lone Star State.

You may dismiss John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown band as a Springsteen substitute or as a soundtrack band, but you are doing both them and yourself a huge disservice. They have a rock and roll sound that draws in the listener and Tough All Over shows that they are more than just their career highlights.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The song “Voice of America’s Sons” was used on the soundtrack to the Sylvester Stallone movie Cobra. John Cafferty had a solo track called “Heart’s On Fire” on the Rocky IV soundtrack. The band’s music has also been used for movies like There’s Something About Mary and Dumb and Dumber To.

While the original release of album featured a cover shot of the band standing on a street, the album was given a reissue with a new cover that featured artwork from the Eddie and the Cruisers movie as well as the added tagline “The Voice of Eddie and the Cruisers”.

The Cassette Chronicles – Ted Nugent’s ‘Penetrator’

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.

TED NUGENT – PENETRATOR (1984)

The recent passing of vocalist Brian Howe made me want to seek out the one bit of his discography that I had never heard before. This was an idea easier said than done however. The Ted Nugent album Penetrator was Howe’s first US gig and judging by what I’ve read online, this album is not looked upon all that fondly by the press or Ted Nugent’s fanbase. Making matters worse, when I tried to find a CD edition of the album online, it seemed I would have to give up an arm or a leg to afford the asking prices.

But the day was saved by my friend Roger. He arranged to drop off his cassette copy of the album in my mailbox (social distancing, don’t you know) so that I could listen to it.

I know you might wonder why I’ve never heard this album before now. Much like a lot of what I’m going to write about this release, I find myself going a bit against the grain when it comes to Ted Nugent. The truth of the matter is, I wouldn’t say that I’m all that much of a fan. Sure, I like the stuff you hear on the radio like “Stranglehold”, “Free For All”, “Wango Tango” and “Cat Scratch Fever”. I even liked the title track to the Little Miss Dangerous album. But I’ve never once felt the need to buy any of his solo music. In fact, the only material I own that features Ted Nugent are the two Damn Yankees albums.

The fact that I’m a huge fan of Brian Howe’s voice compelled me to finally listen to this album and while the research I did for this article suggests that it isn’t all that good and suffers from trying to sound like everything else coming out in the mid 1980’s and not quite getting there, I found that I kind of liked the Penetrator album. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised by that feeling though. So often I hate stuff other people like and then when everyone is hating on something, it turns out that I like it. I guess that’s just a bit of my contrarian nature coming through.

I will admit that the album does sound a little dated. It is pretty easy to realize that it was released in the 1980’s. It has “that” sound which marks the era. But from the start, there’s a wildly reckless energy to a lot of the songs.

That sense of the energetic starts right at the top with “Tied Up In Love”. Given Nugent’s predilection for sex, it is no surprise that most of the material could be seen as having plenty of double entendres. But the smoking hot guitar and Howe’s vocals keep this song rocking from start to finish.

The first four songs on Side One of the album are all pretty fast-paced. I really liked the solo on “(Where Do You) Draw The Line” but I thought the keyboards through the song off a bit. That song was written by Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance, which made me chuckle to think of the guy who sings balladry like “Heaven” having one of his compositions performed by the Motor City Madman. I also liked the solo in the expressively up-tempo “Don’t You Want My Love”. Say whatever you want about Ted Nugent, the man can shred his butt off on the guitar.

I think my favorite song on Side One might just be the rocker “Knockin’ At Your Door” which was written by Andy Fraser, the bassist for Free. I don’t know what it was but this was just a really cool track to me.

The closing song on the first side features a slightly slower pace as they seem to be going for a bigger sense of the dramatic. The keyboards (from Billy Squier’s Alan St. Jon) heavily influence the song here.

Brian Howe’s vocals graced the tracks on Side One, but when you flip the tape over you are immediately hit in the face as Ted himself once again steps up to the mike. You might tend to forget that you are listening to a Ted Nugent album when it is someone else singing the lyrics. But then Ted’s vocals kick in and you remember it’s “Uncle Ted’s” world and we’re all just witnesses to it.

While the Side Two opener “Thunder Thighs” pushes right against the line that marks when a song crosses over into a comedic self-parody, the maniacal guitar playing and ballsy vocal take elevate this song into a kind of interesting full-blown rocker. There is absolutely no sense of subtlety here but I have to admit that as the song played through, I didn’t care.

I did care more about the song “Blame It On The Night” though. Brian Howe was back on vocals for this song but it didn’t quite work for me because I thought the track could’ve done without the keyboards in the mix. That could just be me, but I thought it held the song back from reaching for what could’ve made it a potentially better song.

I loved the down and dirty grind of “No Man’s Land” and the self-congratulatory nature of the blazing “Lean Mean R&R Machine”. Both of the songs are flat out rockers and I thought they came out pretty damn fantastic.

And in a bit of a reversal, there was some restraint and subtlety on the album’s closing song “Take Me Home”. It is the only song that could legitimately be considered a ballad. While the tempo does increase a bit during the course of the song, it really does surprise that you. The funny thing is I went looking for the official lyrics only to find that none of the online lyric websites seems to have them. A few of them simply say “We’re sorry but the artist has decided not to disclose the lyrics for this song”. I don’t know if there’s some kind of story behind that decision or not but given the lyrics that are online for some of Nugent’s other songs, it was a bit amusing.

My entire reason for wanting to hear this album was because Brian Howe sang the majority of the songs on it. As I stated when I wrote about the Bad Company album Holy Water, I’m a huge fan of his voice. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect to find when I started listening to Penetrator given my less than full-throated support for Ted Nugent’s career. I know that the prevailing opinion about this album seems to veer towards being overwhelmingly negative, but Howe’s vocals and the fantastic music from Ted and company gave me a different opinion.

After listening to this album, even with it’s hiccups, I found the album to be surprisingly enjoyable. You could’ve probably knocked me over with a feather when I realized that fact. Now if I can just find myself a copy of my own that doesn’t require me to sell off a body part to afford it.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album and the tour for it were the beginning and end of Brian Howe’s time with Ted Nugent. According to Howe’s Wikipedia page, a dispute over the lack of writing credits on the album (The song “Tied Up In Love” is specified) and financial matters led to his departure.

The drums on Penetrator were performed by Billy Squier drummer Bobby Chouinard who also played with Cher, Alice Cooper and Peter Wolf amongst his credits. Peter Wolf is credited on the Penetrator album as providing percussion and sequencing. The artwork was done by noted fantasy artist Boris Vallejo.

While I’ve never seen Ted Nugent in a solo concert, I did see him live as a part of Damn Yankees when they toured for their self-titled debut album. I remember being pretty impressed by his playing then. I wrote about that album for a previous article in The Cassette Chronicles series.

Kristian Montgomery: From incarceration to ‘The Gravel Church’

By CHRISTOPHER TREACY 

It took a stint behind bars for Kristian Montgomery to find creative freedom.

Informed by an edgy country sound that blends Americana with southern-fried rock and even glimpses some super-light grunge, Montgomery has crafted a watershed record in The Gravel Church. But it came at a steep price: six months of incarceration as a result of voicing his disagreement with a family court judge.

“The Gravel Church” is a studio album from Kristian Montgomery & The Winterkill Band

“I wrote more than half of the record in prison,” he said in a recent chat from his Middleborough home where he and his wife were steaming up some fresh quahogs caught earlier that day. The title of the album refers to the yard — a barbed-wire-fenced patch of dirt — where he was allowed to roam while locked up.

“It was the first time that I’d ever been there. I saw some crazy stuff, and I’m not suggesting it’s a good idea for anyone. I got in a fistfight; I got put in solitary – it was a real horror show. My producer, Joe Clapp kept saying, ‘I’m so sorry you had to go through all this, but man — these songs are awesome.’ I guess the takeaway might be that being a male in probate court is detrimental to one’s health. But these new songs started coming together about starting over, having nothing, and finding a way to build your life back to where you want it to be.”

While the sound of the music he’s making has shifted, some of his most basic goals have not. As the frontman of Bone Dry System, formed in 1992, Montgomery and his bandmates used to covet the elusive spot on WBCN’s Boston Emissions playlist. The show has since moved from WBCN to WZLX to being online-only for the past two years, but “5 Horses” from the new album was the Boston Emissions Song of the Week in early April. With a striking post-apocalyptic tone and it’s “…Might as well go now” refrain, the track speaks to our collective contemplation of mortality as a species in the throes of a global pandemic. It’s appropriately surreal.

Montgomery says the song came to him after watching an old episode of Wild Kingdom on YouTube. The show was uploaded with the iconic ‘Keep America Beautiful’ PSA still tacked on, wherein the Native American horseman cries at the sight of a littered coastline. “It was very spur-of-the-moment, and I came up with the riff on a guitar from Nashville Guitar Company. If there’s a musical influence, it’d be Peter Gabriel.”

Montgomery cites Gabriel and Neil Young as huge influences, along with late Soundgarden frontman, Chris Cornell. Listen closely, and you’ll hear all three come through at different times on The Gravel Church, Cornell being a vocal inspiration throughout. But it was well before he’d ever heard Cornell sing that folks took notice of his voice. As is often the case with standout vocalists, Montgomery cut his teeth singing in church, where his grandmother, who he lived with, conspired with the choir director to bribe him into singing solos.

“When I was a kid, I was in church with my grandmother, and the reverend walked past and heard me singing,” he explained. “I was 10. He pulled my parents aside and said, ‘the kid has pipes, let me give him some lessons.’ It quickly went from hymns to Led Zeppelin. He was a very cool guy, and he’d formerly been a tenor with the Boston Pops. As far as being a reverend was concerned, he was more of a rock star to me. He had this super powerful voice. Sometimes he’d scare people with it, and I envied that power.”

The messages that Montgomery uses his vocal chops to deliver on his new record are more pointed and poignant than most of what’s going on currently in the world of mainstream country. Uninterested in candy-coating, he writes unflinchingly about some taboo topics. “Look at My Child” was penned for his brother-in-law, who returned from war in Afghanistan forever damaged. “The Tracks” is about being a channel of communication for a conspiring pair of co-defendants. Some songs are about events in jail, while others are about healing his life afterward. The opener, “Boston,” describes a love/hate relationship with a city that reads like a metaphor for addiction, while “The Bird Won’t Fly” is about his current wife, his biggest fan and supporter. In spots, he uses startling spoken word segments to illustrate his viewpoints. The resulting feel is of something charged with meaning rather than cooler-and-beach-blanket fluff.

Unsurprisingly, Montgomery feels that the genre we know as ‘country’ has lost its way.

“The genre as it stands today is very propaganda oriented… love your country, support your soldiers, support the war machine,” he said. “Originally, country music was attached to the blue-collar working class. In its classic sense, I draw a parallel between country and punk, which was embraced by the lower class, struggling folks… people of the street. I grew up skateboarding in Harvard Square and getting my head smashed in at punk shows. Over time, punk got less edgy and became the music of the masses, but the message changed less than it has with that of country, which flies in the face of everything it once stood for. Like punk, country music was supposed to question authority and support individual freedoms. Now it seems to be about conformity.”

But while conformity isn’t compelling to Montgomery, getting his music out to more people certainly is. He says he fears releasing new music during a pandemic might be ill-advised. But the flip side of that idea is that more people have time to listen right now than when they’re trying to keep pace with their complicated modern lives. For a man whose manager used to tell him and his Bone Dry bandmates, “You guys are the next Van Halen,” his career in music is more about humility these days. And maybe, on a larger scale, doing his small part to perpetuate some necessary change.

“I think this crazy time is an awakening of sorts,” he said. “I think people are recognizing how hard they’ve been working, blindly pushing along, and how it has affected their families. We’re not meant to just keep going until we can’t go anymore. We’re supposed to be able to enjoy our family and foster relationships. Running ourselves ragged so that there’s nothing of us left shouldn’t have to be the secret to success.”

“A lot of this record is about moving forward,” he continued. “It has plenty of little nuances and details to discover for anyone that wants to spend the time. And as long as the songs mean more to me than to other people, I know I haven’t lost sight of it being a creative thing. You can get lost in that world pretty quickly when it’s not art anymore, when you’re pandering to try and achieve a certain sound or appeal to a specific group of people. I don’t want to become that guy. I’m just another worker among workers.”

For more information about Montgomery or to purchase The Gravel Church and other merchandise, click HERE. The website also contains links to his Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages.

 

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “Falcon Crest” (1981-1990)

Although our “Filming Location Spotlight” series typically runs on the second and fourth Friday of every month, we decided to post these today since it is the 30th anniversary of when the final episode of Falcon Crest aired on CBS. If some of these photos look familiar, that is because we posted them in 2015.  However, we never posted the photos from our visit to Spring Mountain Winery the following year. Spring Mountain Winery served as the exterior of the estate of Angela Channing (portrayed by the late Jane Wyman) and interior during parts of the first season.

Falcon Crest is an American television show that aired on CBS for nine seasons from December 4, 1981, to May 17, 1990. It aired after Dallas at 10 p.m. on Friday nights for most of its run and a total of 227 episodes were produced. It was a top 30 show for its first six seasons, reaching a peak of #7 during its third season (1983-1984).

On a trip to Napa Valley, I couldn’t resist taking screen shots from the DVDs of the first three seasons and finding the actual filming locations to see what they looked like today. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath is what the location looks like when I visited.

 “A toast to you, Falcon Crest, and long may you live,” – Angela Channing (May 17, 1990)

The Cassette Chronicles – Bad Company’s ‘Holy Water’

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.

WRITER’S NOTE: On May 6th, 2020, singer Brian Howe died as the result of a heart attack. I woke up that morning to discover the news and it hit me like a gut punch. I just loved his voice and the job he did fronting Bad Company between 1986 – 1994. While the band has virtually wiped out Howe’s time with them from their official history, the four studio albums he recorded with them are among the finest melodic rock albums one could hope to hear.

Howe was a pretty darn good songwriter, managing to come up with any number of hard driving rock numbers, the heart-rending ballad and every song style in between. Hell, the guy even co-wrote the lyrics for the song “I’ll Get Even” on Megadeth’s Cryptic Writings album!

The 2010 solo album Circus Bar is one of the best albums I’ve ever heard and it was among my favorites of the year upon its release. You can check out what I wrote about that album HERE.

The death of Brian Howe is a huge loss to his family and friends. The loss to those of us who are fans of his music is markedly different of course, but no less a profound sadness. I can only hope that anyone who hasn’t heard his work before now will soon discover that Howe’s voice was one of the great highlights of rock and roll.

BAD COMPANY – HOLY WATER (1990)

Depending on who you ask, opinions vary about the best of the four studio albums that Bad Company recorded with Brian Howe as the group’s lead singer. A lot of people will say it is Dangerous Age and it would be hard to argue with that choice. It’s a great album and I love it a lot myself.

But if I’m the one making the call, I have to go with Holy Water. The album was the most successful release in terms of sales (it went platinum) during the Howe era and I pretty much consider it their masterwork for this part of their history.

There are thirteen songs on the album and there isn’t a bad one in the lot. As I was listening to the album ahead of writing this piece, I even got to get a new perspective on a trio of the “album track” songs. They didn’t get the airplay as a single release but I got to enjoy them anew as songs that give the album the depth of quality it has.

The first side of the album wastes no time in kicking off things in a rocking fashion with the title track. It bursts out of your speakers and really grabs your attention. It’s the kind of declarative statement that makes you sit up and take notice. As I was researching some information about the album online, I saw that when the “Holy Water” song was released as a single, it became the #1 rock track for a couple of weeks. I’ve listened to this album a lot since it was released but as I listened to the track again, I could definitely recall how I felt when I would hear it playing on the radio as I would listen to 94 HJY out of Providence, Rhode Island.

That song was followed up by “Walk Through Fire” which became a Top 40 single for the band. It’s another pure rocker that gets the blood flowing through your veins. The band had a huge hit with the power ballad “If You Needed Somebody”, which made it into the Top 20. While it does have what would be considered the standard requirements for a song of its nature, I can listen to that track over and over and not get bored with it.

While the remaining three songs on the first side of the album weren’t released as singles, they still give you plenty of bang for your buck. “Stranger Stranger” has an amazing riff that runs through the song. The song rocks but with a slyly seductive groove to it.

The Mick Ralphs-written song “Lay Your Love On Me” closes out the first side with a driving tempo. However, the most surprising discovery for me was actually rediscovering the song “Fearless”. It’s a blast of pure hard rock rhythm that is so surprisingly effective that I found myself singing along to the lyrics.

There’s been a lot of talk over the years about what led to the split and acrimony between Brian Howe and both Simon Kirke and Mick Ralphs. A lot of that talk centers around the songwriting for the band. However, I don’t see how the credits for this album could be such a breaking point for the band. Brian Howe co-wrote seven of the Holy Water‘s thirteen songs. Meanwhile, Simon Kirke wrote one song on his own and co-wrote another. Mick Ralphs had “Lay Your Love On Me” on his own and co-wrote three other songs.

But regardless of who wrote what, I have never been able to understand why the band grew apart. I mean, the album is full of great material. Yes, it is a dramatically different sound than the classic rock origins of the band. But as a confirmed fan of the more melodic rock stylings, this album is one of the highlights of that genre.

If you can’t take my word for, then just flip the album over to side two and check out songs like “With You In A Heartbeat”, “I Don’t Care” and “Never Too Late”. While the album is chock full of great straight up rockers, it closes on a decidedly more mellow note. Simon Kirke sings lead and plays the acoustic guitar on “100 Miles”. It’s a decidedly upbeat song and it kind of gives you a preview of the direction of his songwriting would go on the solo albums he did in 2011 (Filling The Void) and 2017 (All Because of You).

Much like “Fearless”, the songs “Dead of the Night” and “I Can’t Live Without You” became moments of re-discovery for me as I listened to the album. They are both hard rocking numbers with explosively melodic choruses heightened by a big backing vocal sound. Once again, I found myself singing along to these tracks.

I’m a fan of storytelling, whether it be in a book or through song. And the opening song on side two feeds my love of story. “Boys Cry Tough” was a monstrously successful song on the rock charts (it went to #3) even without being released as an official single. The story of Bobby and Mary has a clearly defined narrative. As a listener, you become involved in the storyline. It’s a prime example of how to tell a story through song and when you add in the fantastic music that backs up Brian Howe’s superb vocal performance on the song, you have the showcase track of Holy Water.

While it may have taken the death of Brian Howe to get me to write about this album for The Cassette Chronicles, what matters most is that I get to share my love of the album with people. This year marks the 30th anniversary of it’s release and for my money the Holy Water album is one of the finest albums I have in my collection.

NOTES OF INTEREST: Terry Thomas produced Holy Water but he was deeply involved in all aspects of the recording as well. He co-wrote eleven of the songs and played guitar and keyboards (the cassette liner notes list it as Hammond organ) and added backing vocals as well. He and Brian Howe had worked together on Howe’s 1997 solo album Tangled In Blue and he was also the producer for the Bad Company albums Dangerous Age and Here Comes Trouble.

Brian Howe re-recorded the song “Holy Water” for his Circus Bar album but gave it a significant re-do for an entirely different spin on the track. I love the original song as I said, but if you hear the new version he did, you’ll be shocked to discover how powerful it is.

I have only seen Bad Company in concert once but it was with Brian Howe on vocals. It was during the tour for the Dangerous Age album. I can still remember the T-shirt I bought when I saw them play the Orpheum Theatre in Boston. They had Winger as their opening act.

 

EDITORIAL – Why rescheduled shows in reduced capacity venues won’t work?

[This is the first in a series of editorials related to Covid-19’s impact on JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine.]

While no one knows with absolute certainty when the concert and event business will make a full scale return due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve seen many posts from our readers, fans and friends on social media about artists playing rescheduled shows in venues with reduced capacities. Although this is a hopeful idea that could possibly work for newly announced shows, it would result in major losses for venues and promoters across the board for rescheduled shows.

JKB Entertainment Group/Limelight Magazine has been booking national touring acts at various venues throughout New England since 2009. So far, we have booked 95 shows (7 as Limelight Magazine and 88 as JKB Entertainment Group) with acts from all genres of music, including classic rock (e.g. The Zombies, Justin Hayward of The Moody Blues, Jon Anderson of Yes), ‘80s pop (Richard Marx, The Fixx, The English Beat), metal (Michael Schenker Group, Nita Strauss), alternative rock (Candlebox, Ed Kowalczyk of Live), boy bands (O-Town) and everything in between.

When a show is booked, there are several variables that factor into the ticket price, including artist fee, backline, hospitality (meals/lodging), security, sound tech, insurance, rent, and marketing costs. After developing the budget, the ticket price is set based on the capacity of the venue. In most cases, promoters need to sell between 70% and 80% of the house to break even. In some cases, it can be even higher, especially for superstar touring artists. Anything sold beyond that is your profit unless the artist is getting a backend or percentage on top of your breakeven point. [Federal and state taxes still need to be taken out of your profit].

So, if a venue has a capacity of 400 and it is reduced by 50% due to social distancing requirements, you would be taking a significant loss at selling 200 tickets because you needed to sell 300 (75% capacity) to break even. To keep the math simple, a ticket price of $35 would mean that a loss of $3,500 is automatically incurred (assuming you’ve sold all 200 tickets). Venues that have bars could make up some of that revenue, but in a reduced capacity house, alcohol sales will be much lower than before.

When a show is postponed to a new date (which we’ve already had a few), our contract with the artist is still for the original capacity of the venue. Reducing capacity to anything less than 75% would mean we have to enforce force majeure, which is a common clause in contracts that essentially frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the control of the parties (i.e. Covid-19 pandemic) prevents one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

There is also the notion that artists will lower their fees in order to still play. The likelihood of that is unlikely because of their touring expenses. Most artists lose 10% of their performance fee to their booking agent, between 10% and 20% to their manager, and, in some cases, a percentage or flat rate to their publicist. After these expenses are deducted, they need to pay their road crew, liability insurance, transportation costs, withholding taxes, other miscellaneous expenses, and finally themselves. Although it depends on each individual artist, most acts that play clubs or performing arts centers have told us they typically receive between 30% and 40% of the artist fee. Superstar acts may get a higher percentage depending on the production element of their tours. It should be noted that with reduced capacities and social distancing requirements, artists will be selling less merchandise on the road and meet and greets will likely be put on hold for the time being. On top of this, many smaller venues may not be able to properly self-distance, but that’s a whole other issue for another editorial.

Since none of us know what the future holds, we’ve only booked one show since the pandemic started. This show would easily be a sellout before the outbreak but we aren’t even announcing it for fear it will be postponed to sometimes in 2021. But one thing is certain, we will not be able to reschedule any shows in venues with reduced capacities and any artists we book in the future will have Covid-19 related language in their contracts. It’s the only way we can move forward in these challenging times.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “DEATH WISH 2” (1982)

On the second and fourth Friday of every month in 2020, Limelight Magazine will spotlight the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films. Today we spotlight the filming location for Death Wish 2. The film, which once again starred Charles Bronson as vigilante Paul Kersey, was released in 1982. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the movie while the photo underneath is what the location looks like today.

This filming location used for Paul Kersey’s home is located at 1203 South Crescent Heights Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA.

Music and entertainment coverage since October 2006!