THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – ELECTRIC BOYS’ ‘GROOVUS MAXIMUS’

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.

ELECTRIC BOYS – GROOVUS MAXIMUS (1992)

When it came time to start putting together this article you are now reading, I originally thought I was going to be writing an opening that talked about how I had never heard anything from the Swedish rockers Electric Boys.

And that’s why it is always good to do research. As it turns out, while I’m sure that I haven’t heard much from the band before listening to this second album from the band, I had actually heard the one song that they are probably most remembered for. On their debut album Funk-O-Metal Carpet Ride, they had the song “All Lips N’ Hips”. I wasn’t sure that I remembered the song but one quick trip to Youtube and I remembered the song (if not the actual video for it). It’s a huge sounding prime cut of 80’s metal with a big chorus and a great overall inviting soundtrack.

That said, while I probably have mostly heard that song via Dee Snider’s radio show The House of Hair, it did bring me back to when the song would’ve been originally released and I liked that metaphorical trip back through time.

I may not have heard anything else from the band, but when I pulled the group’s second album Groovus Maximus out of ‘The Big Box of Cassettes’, I was game to see what I might discover for myself. Of course, this would be one of the rare occasions where the cassette involved would be playing for the first time. Yes, the cassette was still in its original wrapping. It was apparently bought from a Strawberries record store back in the day for the whopping price of $9.99.

The Electric Boys had kind of a hybrid sound, where they crossed their hard rock inclinations with a heaping helping of funk mixed in. It’s a sound that for the most part worked in their favor on this album.

The album opened with the title cut, the first of five straight fast moving rocker type tracks on Side One. The title track has what should be an expected great rhythmic feel to it. The vocals from Conny Bloom (who wrote all the songs on the album) grab you from the start and the song’s one line chorus is an immediate earworm.

The songs “Knee Deep In You” and “The Sky Is Crying” are superb offerings. Meanwhile, there seems to be a slightly grittier tone to the vocals on “Fire In The House”, a song that is definitely more metal than funk driven.

The song “Mary In The Mystery World” starts out with a misleadingly slow intro before the song then bursts out of the speakers in a cacophonous explosion of noisy rock and roll. The main lyrical verses to the song are a bit slower in delivery but the chorus moves quite a bit more lively. I was struck by just how much of a Cheap Trick vibe I got off of the song.

The last track on the first side of the album is the not quite a ballad song “Bed of Roses”. It is near enough to that song style but it does have a bit more of a pulse in terms of tempo. Unfortunately, the song didn’t quite fully endear itself to me.

So for the most part I enjoyed the first side of Groovus Maximus. I had great expectations when I flipped over the cassette for side two and initially that hope for greatness was rewarded.

The opening song of Side Two is the powerfully rocking track “She’s Into Something Heavy”. The album is kicked up another notch on “Bad Motherfunker” which has an incredible serving of guitar work, including a solo that I enjoyed quite a bit.

But I really had trouble getting into the pretty standard power ballad “Dying To Be Loved”. And while they are both somewhat frenetic rock songs, “When Love Explodes” and “Tambourine” were pedestrian tracks at best.

I will say that Groovus Maximus closes out on a high note though. “Tear It Up” is an all attitude song with a fantastic sound to it. I loved the second verse in the song, even though if they tried to put that into a song in today’s climate, they’d likely get a bunch of crap thrown at them.

The last song is an instrumental called “March of the Spirits”. I freely admit that I have my ups and downs when it comes to instrumental music at times but this cut was actually quite good and I would definitely recommend it.

As I researched the album, I learned that Groovus Maximus did not live up to label expectations when it was released. Of course, given that the release came as the grunge sound was taking over music, I don’t think anyone should’ve been surprised that this album didn’t set the sales chart ablaze. And while I do think the second side of the album is a bit of a letdown, overall I can’t help but say that I really enjoyed giving Electric Boys a full first deep listen. The band has a really good sound that appealed to me right off as I played the cassette. I definitely missed the boat on them the first time around but I’m glad that I am on board now.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Electric Boys split up in 1994 but got back together in 2009 and are still active to this day. Their seventh overall studio album is set to be released sometime in 2021 and will be called Ups!de Down.

During the time the band was on hiatus, singer Conny Bloom and bassist Andy Christell spent some time as members of Hanoi Rocks.

Magazine advertisement for Electric Boys’ Groovus Maximus

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – ALDO NOVA’S ‘BLOOD ON THE BRICKS’

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.

ALDO NOVA – BLOOD ON THE BRICKS (1991)

I don’t think it is that much of a shock to most music lovers that when you think of Aldo Nova, that thought likely begins and then ends pretty quickly with the hit song “Fantasy” from his self-titled debut album. It’s maybe a little unfair to sum up his career that way, but it isn’t exactly totally inaccurate either.

I have to put myself in this particular category as well. I don’t think I’ve ever heard any other song from Nova until I pulled this album out of The Big Box of Cassettes to write this article.

But for all the prior lack of knowledge about Nova’s music, I can’t help but think that I really missed out by not having listened to Blood On The Bricks before now. The fact that this is the 30th anniversary of the album’s release makes it a perfect time to finally listen to it, I’d say.

The album contains a number of highly charged rockers, full of amped up guitar rock with keyboards adding depth to the overall sound. Throw in a couple of ballads that don’t make you want to puncture your ear drums and it turns out you have quite the overlooked album.

Blood On The Bricks opens up with the title track and it does the intended job of getting things going with a kinetic burst of energy. The song moves pretty fast, with melody aplenty. The song is pretty darn catchy too. It’s a perfect kind of single for the time of the album’s initial release.

The next couple of tracks on the first side of the tape are also full on rock and roll numbers. “Medicine Man” was the third of three singles released from the album and it’s damn good as well. But I really liked “Bang Bang” a whole lot too. It may not have the most original title but the actual song itself was just…COOL!

I mentioned that the album has a couple of power ballads. The song on Side One is called “Someday”. It was the second single released from the album. While it didn’t really make much noise on the singles chart, I thought it was a decent enough track. I was a bit surprised to find that I didn’t really get into the song “Young Love” all that much. It’s an okay sounding rocker (co-written by Bryan Adams collaborator Jim Vallance) but it just didn’t really do much to differentiate itself to me.

When you flip the tape over to Side Two, you get treated to another solidly rocking opening track in “Modern World”. Of the ten songs on the album, it is one of my favorites. There’s a great feeling of aggressively melodic rock and roll that helps sell the song to you.

While “This Ain’t Love” was a bit disappointing to me, the second power ballad, “Hey Ronnie (Veronica’s Song)”, more than made up for it. “Someday” was decent but this one found me really enjoying the fullness of the track each time I listened to it.

Blood On The Bricks closes out with a couple of straight on rockers. I thought “Touch of Madness” was decent but Aldo Nova definitely saved the best for the very last number on the album. The song “Bright Lights” is over six minutes long and it is an astoundingly great song! It is simply my favorite song on the album and I would definitely say that for me, I like it even better than “Fantasy”. If that’s a blasphemous statement for fans of Nova, so be it.

I’m definitely one of those people who would only think of the song “Fantasy” if someone had asked me anything about Aldo Nova. But after listening to Blood On The Bricks, it has become quite clear that there is a lot more to discover about the artist and this album is the definitive proof of that newfound belief.

NOTES OF INTEREST: The album was produced by Jon Bon Jovi and features Randy Jackson (the former American Idol judge) on bass. The Japanese edition of the album contains the bonus track “Dance of the Dead”. This was the first album in six years, the fourth overall album in the Aldo Nova’s discography. According to his Wikipedia page, three more albums (for a total of seven) have been released.

Kenny Aronoff, who spent 16 plus years recording and touring with John Mellencamp, performed all the drum tracks on Blood On The Bricks. Aronoff has had a lengthy and varied career having performed or recorded with everyone from Tony Iommi, Melissa Etheridge (the only time I’ve actually seen him perform live), Mary Chapin Carpenter, Mick Jagger and many more.

Aldo Nova has collaborated with a number of notable artists as a writer and producer. The biggest name among these is undoubtedly Celine Dion.

Magazine advertisement for Aldo Nova’s Blood on the Bricks

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “COMA” (1978)

On the final Friday of every month in 2021, 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 Coma (1978), which was directed by Michael Crichton. 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 November 2020.

The filming locations for those featured below were taken at the following addresses:

Photo 1: This is currently Boston Medical Center, located at 39 Worcester Square in Boston, MA.

Photos 2-4: The building used for the Jefferson Institute is located at 191 Spring Street in Lexington, MA. It is currently the offices of Mimecast and formerly Xerox.

The Cassette Chronicles – XYZ’s ‘Hungry’

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.

XYZ – HUNGRY (1991)

Like many, I first became aware of XYZ when their self-titled debut album was released in 1989. I remember seeing a magazine trade ad for the album and I was intrigued. After all in 1989, I was 18 and in my glory as a rock and metal fan.

That magazine ad stuck with me because I could swear that I remember seeing not only that Don Dokken had produced the album but that Survivor guitarist Frankie Sullivan being credited in the ad as having a hand in the production as well. But that appears not to be the case since it is just Dokken that got the credits. I’m guessing that it must be my faulty memory playing another trick on me.

I guess that I liked the album well enough, but the band didn’t really stick with me that much and they kind of faded from my playlist at the time. I know that the album disappeared from my collection as well. So it probably isn’t much of a surprise that I never bought the Hungry album.

I don’t even remember hearing the single release “Face Down In The Gutter” when the album got its 1991 release. I know now that there is a video for the song but I didn’t see that either. Apparently it didn’t get a lot of play on MTV at the time because of some controversy about the way women in the video were dressed.

When I pulled the Hungry album out of The Big Box of Cassettes, I was intrigued that I’d now discover what the band had to offer me in the album’s 30th anniversary year. And I’ve got to say that I came away pretty darn pleased!

The single is the opening song on the album and it’s got a fast paced rocking style. Overall, it is just a great sounding track and has a pretty catchy and memorable chorus. I liked it immediately.

Even more impressive to me was “Don’t Say No”. Like most of the songs on Hungry, it’s got an in your face aggressively rocking feel to it, but at the same time has a fantastic hook and great melodies. I’ve got to say that I really loved the guitar work from guitarist Marc Diglio. And though I’m sure it’s well established that Terry Ilous is a damn good singer, it is here that I really came to appreciate that fact for myself.

When it comes to cover songs, I’m both picky and fickle about what makes a good cover. And there are some bands that I don’t feel should be covered by anyone because you simply can’t do the original songs justice no matter how hard you try. One of those bands is Free. There’s just something about their music that defies replication in my mind. I don’t know why I feel that way but it also extends to Bad Company and I’m guessing part of the reason may be that I’m so loyal to the vocals of Paul Rodgers. However, I came away highly impressed with XYZ’s cover of “Fire And Water”, the title track of Free’s third album. It may not be exactly like the original but I thought this version really worked well.

The rest of Side One of the album is just as impressive with the songs “When The Night Comes Down”, “Off To The Sun” and the side closing “Feels Good”. That last song pretty much sums up how I felt after listening to the first side and spoiler alert…the album as a whole.

Side Two breaks through from the start with “Shake Down The Walls”. It’s got a rocking immediacy to it and I can just imagine being in the audience at a show and just pumping my fist in the air to this track.

You’ll note that as yet I’ve not described any song with the dreaded “power ballad” term. That ends quickly on Side Two with the song “When I Find Love”. While I’ve found some ballads in recent albums that I’ve actually enjoyed, this song will not be joining the list. While it checks all the expected boxes for a power ballad to be successful, it just seemed to set my teeth on edge.

The song “H.H. Boogie” is flat out awesome and a great showcase for Marc Diglio. There’s a swinging feel to the song’s tempo and everything about this song made me want to hear it over and over again. The band gets even more aggressively paced on the song “The Sun Also Rises In Hell”. The song really got my blood pumping as the band as a whole combined to put on a fantastic performance with this track. I love just how hard-edged the song sounds and along with “H.H. Boogie”, is among my favorite cuts on the album.

Hungry closes out on a continued roll with the songs “A Roll Of The Dice” and “Whiskey On A Heartache”. The two tracks are both rockers and continue to demonstrate that while I may have taken until this release marked its 30th anniversary to “discover” it, better late than never is definitely true.

Seriously, this album is a superbly entertaining release and I know that if the band ever returns to my area whenever lives concerts return, I’m going to be in the audience…fists pumping in belated but fervent fandom!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The Hungry album failed to chart when it was released and led to the departure of guitarist Marc Diglio and drummer Paul Monroe. The band recruited new members Tony Marcus and Joey Shapiro for the tour and they are still in the current lineup today.

Personally, I thought the album cover art was a bit cartoonishly silly but I loved the “warning” in the liner notes saying that the recording may contain subliminal messages. The CD release of the album contains the bonus track “Two Wrongs Can Make A Right”. It isn’t on the cassette

Musician Jeff Paris co-wrote three of the songs on the album as well as co-arranged the band’s cover of “Fire And Water”. Over the course of his career he has written songs with and/or for Y&T, Lita Ford, Mr. Big and Vixen and others. He’s sometimes credited as Geoffrey Leib. Paris has released six solo albums as well.

Magazine advertisement for XYZs “Hungry.”

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – TOTO’S ‘ISOLATION’

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: Welcome to the fifth year of The Cassette Chronicles. Thanks for continuing to read the articles in this series. Just a reminder that for the first six months of 2021, The Cassette Chronicles will be on a twice monthly schedule instead of the usual weekly one.)

TOTO – ISOLATION (1984)

In the interest of full disclosure, the only reason I bought the Isolation album oh so many years ago was on the basis of the lead single “Stranger In Town”. The song became a Top 30 hit but the problem with that is that two years after the Toto IV album, both the band and record label had far greater expectations for the song and album as a whole.

The song has a really catchy pop single feel to it and a lively guitar track as well. And since I was 13 years old at the time, the lyric containing the phrase “son of a bitch” was kind of forbidden fruit for some reason. No, I make no claims to being a great thinker at the time!

What I do remember about the album from when I originally listened to it is that I didn’t really care for the rest of the album. It was all about “Stranger In Town” for me and none of the other songs registered with me like that one did. I can’t even say if I’ve ever listened to the album in the decades since it was originally put out. So as I started listening to the album for this piece, I was surprised to find the first side rather entertaining. Funny how time and growing as a music fan alters opinions, eh?

The first four tracks, including “Stranger In Town” are fast paced rocking type songs. While the side ending “How Does It Feel” is more of a ballad and was released as a single, it didn’t make a dent in the charts. As for the songs “Carmen”, “Lion” and “Angel Don’t Cry”, each track might’ve lacked the pop chart bonafides, but they turned out to be perfect “album tracks”. Strong vocals combined with flashy guitar work and amplified keyboards made for a propulsive musical soundtrack.

The album featured three different people tackling the lead vocals. Fergie Frederiksen was the newest member of the lineup after the firing of singer Bobby Kimball (though Kimball is credited with providing “additional backing vocals” in the liner notes). Frederiksen sang lead on seven of Isolation’s tracks. Guitarist Steve Lukather was the lead on “How Does It Feel” and keyboardist David Paich sang lead on the “Stranger In Town” and “Holyanna” songs. He also sang co-lead vocals on the album opening “Carmen”.

The album’s second side started off with with “Endless”. This song was apparently the band’s choice for the first single but they got overruled by the record label. Still, it’s not a bad song and did eventually get released as a single in the UK in 1985.

The album’s title track is a bit more restrained in tempo at the start but the pace soon picks up. And it does pack in a strong guitar sound with a brief but effective solo too. “Mr. Friendly” was a vibrant little number that comes off to me as one of the stronger overall tracks on the album.

I really got into “Change of Heart”, which is driven by David Paich’s keyboards and the song has an uptempo and epic feel to it. I was also captivated by “Holyanna” which has not only a great musical sound but an interesting story in the lyrics as well.

As I said, when this album was first released, I bought it but found myself essentially uninterested in any of the songs other than “Stranger In Town”. But now that I’ve listened to this as a far better formed music fan, I can see that there was quite a few tracks that I should’ve enjoyed the last three plus decades or so. I didn’t know anything of the behind the scenes upheaval that seems to have affected the creation of the music at the time but whatever the reasons for the relative failure of the album’s commercial fortunes may be, I think Toto fans might just have to give Isolation a new evaluation. They just might find themselves as surprised as I was to see just what they may have missed the first time around.

NOTES OF INTEREST: While the Isolation album did eventually achieve gold status in the US, the prevailing school of thought was that the album was a commercial failure. Compounding matters further was the financially disastrous tour in support of the album. Rock Candy Records released a remastered edition of the album in 2015. It’s one of seven remasters the label has done with the band’s back catalog.

Besides the Isolation album, Toto was working on the soundtrack for the movie Dune. That album was also released in 1984. The first attempt at the cover art for Isolation was designed by the movie’s director David Lynch, but it wasn’t used.

The video for “Stranger In Town” featured actor Brad Dourif, who has had a lengthy career in TV and film. Some of his best known work includes One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, Dune and Blue Velvet. He also played “Grima Wormtongue” in the Lord of the Rings film series. He also provided the voice of the murderous doll in the Chucky (a.k.a. Child’s Play) horror films. His TV work includes guest stints on Star Trek: Voyager, Babylon 5 and a co-starring role on Deadwood.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE’S TOP 15 FILMS OF 2020

Every year, I set a goal to see at least 100 films in a theatrical setting. Prior to the start of the pandemic, I saw 23 films and was well on my way to achieving my goal. However, when movie theaters were forced to close and screens went dark in mid-March, it was clear that my goal would not be met this year.

While I was fortunate that drive-ins and movie theaters reopened in a limited capacity in the region where I live during the summer, this was the first year I resorted to online streaming to see fresh content when a film wasn’t available on physical media.

As a result, I concluded the year by seeing 46 films in theatrical setting and approximately 250 more on physical media or streaming. While my year end list is always diverse from all genres, my favorite films are all horror related this year.

As with any list, I have not viewed every film released in 2020, but these were the 15 that stood out above the rest. Unlike my top 10 albums list of 2020 where I reviewed each one, I am only including the film’s synopsis below. I hate spoilers and trailers that give everything away and I firmly believe not knowing too much is the best way to view most of these gems.

For those who are interested, you can also view my favorite horror films of 2020 on our Letterboxd account. So far, we ranked our favorite 46 films. This wasn’t easy to do as every film on this list is solid from start to finish. Click HERE to view the list.

Disclaimer: This list is based on films I’ve seen as of Dec. 30, 2020. It could be adjusted in the future as I view other films from 2020 in early 2021.

  1. Synchronic (Directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorehead)

SYNOPSIS: Two New Orleans paramedics’ lives are ripped apart after encountering a series of horrific deaths linked to a designer drug with bizarre, otherworldly effects.

2. 1BR (Directed by David Marmor)

SYNOPSIS: When Sarah lucks into a sweet one-bedroom at Asilo Del Mar Apartments in Los Angeles, she think she’s hit the jackpot. It’s got plenty of space, friendly tenants, group BBQs and even a cute neighbour next door. All is not what it seems: loud noises start keeping her awake at night; her cat is missing; everyone seems to be a little too helpful and friendly, except for the weirdo, Lester. Soon, Sarah learns she didn’t choose this apartment — it chose her.

3. The Lodge (Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala)

SYNOPSIS: A soon-to-be stepmom is snowed in with her fiancé’s two children at a remote holiday village. Just as relations begin to thaw between the trio, some strange and frightening events take place.

4. Hunter Hunter (Directed by Shawn Linden)

SYNOPSIS: Joseph and his family live in the remote wilderness as fur trappers but their tranquility starts to be threatened when they think are being hunted by the return of a rogue wolf and Joseph leaves them behind to track it.

5. Run (Directed by Aneesh Chaganty)

SYNOPSIS: Chloe, a teenager who is confined to a wheelchair, is home schooled by her mother, However, her mother’s strange behavior doesn’t go unnoticed and when Chloe pries into some private papers, she discovers a Change of Name Certificate document with her mother’s name, Diane Sherman, on it. When Chloe googles “Diane Sherman,” the internet suddenly disconnects. Chloe becomes suspicious of all that her mother does, suspecting her of something sinister. She decides to go on the run in her wheelchair in a desperate attempt to get away from her.

6. Darkness (a.k.a. Buio) (Directed by Emanuela Rossi)

SYNOPSIS: It’s the story of Stella, a young girl living with her father and two little sisters in an isolated house with bolted windows. Because of a solar explosion occurred years before, the man is the only one able to get out of the house. But his version of the truth seems to hide a huge lie.

7. Zombi Child (Directed by Bertrand Bonello)

SYNOPSIS: Haiti, 1962: A man is brought back from the dead only to be sent to the living hell of the sugarcane fields. In Paris, 55 years later, at the prestigious Légion d’honneur boarding school, a Haitian girl confesses an old family secret to a group of new friends – never imagining that this strange tale will convince a heartbroken classmate to do the unthinkable.

8. Possessor (Directed by Brandon Cronenberg)

SYNOPSIS: Tasya Vos, an elite corporate assassin, uses brain-implant technology to take control of other people’s bodies to terminate high profile targets. As she sinks deeper into her latest assignment, Vos becomes trapped inside a mind that threatens to obliterate her.

9. Anything for Jackson (Directed by Justin G. Dyck)

10. A Good Woman Is Hard To Find (Directed by Abner Pastoll)

SYNOPSIS: The recently widowed mother of two, Sarah, is desperate to know who murdered her husband in front of her young son, rendering him mute. Coerced into helping a low-life drug dealer stash narcotics stolen from the local Mr. Big, she’s forced into taking drastic action to protect her children, evolving from downtrodden submissive to take-charge vigilante.

11. Alone (Directed by John Hyams)

SYNOPSIS: A recently widowed traveler is kidnapped by a cold blooded killer, only to escape into the wilderness where she is forced to battle against the elements as her pursuer closes in on her.

12. Unhinged (Directed by Derrick Borte)

SYNOPSIS: A divorced mother honks impatiently at a deranged middle-aged stranger at a red light while running late on her way to work. His road rage escalates to horrifyingly psychotic proportions as he becomes single-mindedly determined to teach her a deadly lesson for provoking him.

13. Becky (Directed by Cary Murnion & Jonathan Miliott)

SYNOPSIS: A teenager’s weekend at a lake house with her father takes a turn for the worse when a group of convicts wreaks havoc on their lives.

14. Swallow (Directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis)

SYNOPSIS: Hunter, a newly pregnant housewife, finds herself increasingly compelled to consume dangerous objects. As her husband and his family tighten their control over her life, she must confront the dark secret behind her new obsession.

15. Host (Directed by Rob Savage)

SYNOPSIS: Six friends hire a medium to hold a séance via Zoom during lockdown — but they get far more than they bargained for as things quickly go wrong. When an evil spirit starts invading their homes, they begin to realize they might not survive the night.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – 2020 RECAP

On the second and fourth Friday of every month throughout 2020, Limelight Magazine spotlighted the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. As you can see, we visited a lot of places across the country over the years. Here is a recap of all the locations we featured this year. Click on the name of the movie or TV show to see each of them.  

1 HOUSE (1985)

2 MAUSOLEUM (1983)

3 LOOKER (1981)

4 THE BLOB (1958)

5 FRIDAY THE 13th (1980)

6 PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1987)

7 WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? (1962)

8 MOMMIE DEAREST (1981)

9 DEATH WISH 2 (1982)

10 FALCON CREST (TV SHOW)

11 THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS (2001)/NIGHTCRAWLER (2014)

12 DARK SHADOWS (TV SHOW)

13 THE BRADY BUNCH (TV SHOW)

14 SHADOW OF A DOUBT (1943)

15 THE GOLDEN GIRLS (TV SHOW)

16 DAWN OF THE DEAD (1978)

17 MAMA’S FAMILY (TV SHOW)

18 HAPPY DAYS (TV SHOW)

19 A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET (1984)

20 NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968)

21 FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2 (1981)

22 I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE: DEJA VU (2019)

23 INSIDIOUS: CHAPTER 3 (2015)

24 A CHRISTMAS STORY (1983)

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “A CHRISTMAS STORY” (1983)

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 A Christmas Story (1983). 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 2018. This house is located at 3159 W. 11th Street in Cleveland, OH.

LIMELIGHT MAGAZINE’S TOP 10 ALBUMS OF 2020

It’s that time of year where Limelight Magazine ranks its top 10 albums of the year.  While the pandemic wrecked havoc on the world in 2020, it was a great year for new music which brought comfort during these challenging times. Here are the 10 best records of 2020. We highly encourage our readers to give these albums a listen or even add them to your collection.

#10 Deep Purple – Woosh!

On their 21st studio album and third with legendary producer Bob Ezrin, Deep Purple show no signs of slowing down. Woosh! is one of the band’s most diverse studio offerings. If there is one thing that stands out with Ezrin behind the boards is his ability to give the band the freedom to breath and have fun in the studio. Don Airey’s keyboard wizardry is more profound and at the forefront on most of the songs on the album. I thought no one could replace Jon Lord in Deep Purple but Airey has filled the part nicely with his keyboard excellence, especially on the Hammond A-100. The rhythm section of Roger Glover and Ian Paice is in typical fine form and guitarist Steve Morse continues to dazzle with his six-string tones and phrasings. It’s hard to believe that he has already been in the band for 24 years and has recorded six studio albums with them. Lastly, it’s interesting to note that the band re-recorded the instrumental “And the Address” from their debut album Shades of Deep Purple (1968). It is the first song on that album and it’s the last one on Woosh!, excluding bonus tracks. If they did this deliberately to mark the end of their studio output, it was a nice touch. But, here’s hoping the band doesn’t go away anytime soon. (Standout tracks: “Throw My Bones” & “Nothing At All”)

#9 Kansas – The Absence of Presence

On their second studio album since the retirement of former vocalist Steve Walsh, Kansas continue to exceed expectations in every way. From the first song “The Absence of Presence” to the final track “The Song the River Sang,” it’s clear the band made a concerted effort to record songs that were in the vein of former member and primary songwriter Kerry Livgren. Whereas their last album The Prelude Implicit (2016) was more prog rock sounding, this album has that quintessential Kansas sound with some of the best harmonies the band has ever recorded in the studio. Tom Brislin has replaced David Manion on keyboard and is another welcome addition to the band, writing or co-writing seven of the nine songs. Once again, we want to give major kudos to original members Phil Ehart and Rich Williams for keeping the band going for nearly five decades and raising the bar high for quality musicianship and songwriting. (Standout tracks: “The Absence of Presence ” & “Throwing Mountains”)

#8 Metal Church – From the Vault

I’m sure that it is tempting to simply write off From The Vault as a run-of-the-mill compilation release since if features live cuts, songs left over from the recording sessions for the Damned If You Do album and other such material.

But if you do that, you are missing out on what I consider my own personal album of the year. While the various tracks may have been sourced from other parts of the band’s recording history, where they come from matters less than just how amazing the material actually is.

The newly written songs like “Dead On The Vine” and “For No Reason” are amazing. The Damned If You Do material like “False Flag” and “Tell Lie Vision” demonstrate that they could’ve been justifiably included on that release and the band’s covers of “Black Betty” and “Please Don’t Judas Me” are filled with a ton of emotion and adrenaline. Even the live songs fill a void you didn’t know you had!

Yes, strictly speaking, this is a compilation release. But the quality of the material amply demonstrates that Metal Church’s From The Vault is a utterly undeniably great album! (Standout tracks: “For No Reason” & “Above the Madness” – Jay Roberts, Special Contributor to Limelight Magazine

#7 Testament – Titans of Creation

While the studio output of some thrash metal bands from the 1980s has been inconsistent over the years, Testament never fails to disappoint. Since releasing The Formation of Damnation in 2008, Testament seems to only get better with age. On their 13th studio album, Titans of Creation contains 12 highly aggressive, in your face, tracks that matches anything up-and-coming bands of the genre have released. Furthermore, this album even raises the bar for their peers. If you’re a fan of trash metal, this a must have release. It’s full throttle from start to finish. (Standout tracks: “Children of the Next Level” & “City of Angels”)

#6 Stryper – Even the Devil Believes

When hair metal bands were at their peak in the late 1980s/early 1990s, I’ll admit that I never listened to Stryper other than when their videos aired on MTV. I found myself drawn to the excesses of Motley Crue than the Christian four-piece band. While my musical tastes have expanded over the years, it wasn’t until the release of No More Hell to Pay in 2013 that I paid attention Stryper. That record blew me away. It was the first Stryper release I purchased and I eventually bought their entire back catalog to add to my CD collection.

Since that release, Stryper has continued to create the best music of their career with Fallen (2015), God Damn Evil (2018), and again with this year’s Even the Devil Believes. This record oozes confidence, supreme songwriting, and showcases all the elements of Stryper’s trademark sound, from catchy rock (“Make Love Great Again”) to emotional ballads (“This I Pray”) to the hard and heavy (“Divider”). Whether you are a casual or die hard fan, this is definitely an album you need to listen to and have in your collection. This band continues to operate on all cylinders and we can only hope their renaissance continues well into the future. (Standout tracks: “Divider” & “Blood From Above”)

#5 AC/DC – Power Up

The first AC/DC album I ever bought was The Razor’s Edge in 1990. I recall reading a review at the time that said the band continues to release the same album over and over again. While that may be a detriment to some bands, it’s clearly worked in AC/DC’s favor throughout their career and they clearly take pride in it. 

On AC/DC’s 17th studio album Power Up, which opened at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, the band reunited with producer Brendan O’Brien who helmed Black Ice in 2008 and Rock or Bust in 2014. I still can’t pinpoint the reason, but those continue to be my least played AC/DC albums. I enjoyed O’Brien’s work with bands such as Stone Temple Pilots, King’s X, and Mastodon, but I was unsure if he was the right fit for AC/DC. Power Up clearly changed that perception as this is one of their best releases to date.

Every song on Power Up maintains AC/DC’s signature sound and is solid and catchy. It’s everything you’d want an AC/DC album to be with no filler. While this is the band’s first release without co-founder and rhythm guitarist Malcom Young, his fingerprints are all over the songs. He received co-writing credit on every track with his brother Angus. To quote vocalist Brian Johnson from an interview in The Guardian on Nov. 13th, “When we were in the studio, and I was trying out singing certain lines, it just kept flashing through my mind: ‘Is this how Malcolm wants this song?’ Malcolm was a strong character. He just commanded respect without even trying. And even though he’s not with us anymore, it’s still there. We don’t want to sound gooey, but facts is facts.”

In short, AC/DC are once again not trying to reinvent themselves on Power Up, but instead proving that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. (Standout tracks: “Shot in the Dark” and “Demon Fire”)

#4 Blue Oyster Cult – The Symbol Remains

I have always found Blue Oyster Cult’s Curse of the Hidden Mirror (2001) to be a mixed bag. While I enjoyed the songs, I have played the album less than any other in their catalog. For a while, it looked like that was going to be their final studio effort, but the band surprised us this year by releasing The Symbol Remains on October 9th. The 19-year gap between albums has proven to be well worth the wait. Production-wise the 14 tracks sound amazing. Collectively, the songs contain all of the elements that Blue Oyster Cult fans have come to enjoy for nearly five decades. From the hard driving “That Was Me” to the instant classic “The Alchemist,” this album doesn’t disappoint and makes a strong case for them to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Yes, we believe they should have been inducted years ago and it’s a darn shame they have been overlooked for so long!)

As to the band itself, original members Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and Eric Bloom are in fine form, while “newer” members Richie Castellano, Danny Miranda, and Jules Radino make many worthy contributions, especially Castellano who wrote/co-wrote many of the songs, sings lead on three outstanding tracks (“Tainted Blood,” “The Machine,” “The Return of St. Cecilia”) and co-produced the album with Roeser and Bloom.

In 2020, Blue Oyster Cult may not get the airplay or press coverage they once did. But it’s truly heartening to see a band who can still hold a candle to their glory days. (Standout tracks: “The Alchemist” & “Stand and Fight”)

#3 Lady Gaga – Chromatica

About 10 years ago, we ran a contest asking our readers to create their own supergroup of musicians. Our former managing editor had Lady Gaga as the lead vocalist of her supergroup and I was indifferent either way. Fast forward to February 5, 2017. On this date, Lady Gaga headlined the Super Bowl LI Halftime show and I was blown away by her performance so much that I actually started to listen to her music. I picked up her most recent album Joanne and loved the stripped back approach she took to this record. I eventually purchased her entire back catalog and saw her twice in concert since then. So, now that I consider myself a fan, it’s time to delve into her newest studio album.

On Chromatica, Lady Gaga has returned to her dance orientated pop sound of the early days of her career. Ignoring three orchestral interludes, the 13 songs are deep, personal and extremely catchy. In fact, each song could be a stand-alone hit on its own. As many critics have noted, Chromatica is Lady Gaga’s love letter to disco and house music and we fully agree with this sentiment. From the infectious lead single “Stupid Love” to the retro pop sounds of “Replay” and her collaborations with Ariana Grande (“Rain On Me”), BLACKPINK (“Sour Candy”) and Elton John (“Sine From Above”), this is Lady Gaga’s catchiest album since Born This Way. Quite simply, it’s pure pop perfection and we can’t wait to see her perform these songs live when it’s safe to do so again. (Standout tracks: “911” and “Sour Candy”)

#2 Alcatrazz – Born Innocent

Alcatrazz is one band that I never expected to release another studio album. After calling it quits in 1986, Alcatrazz resurfaced in 2006 and has had a couple reincarnations since then with various lineups. With the core lineup of vocalist Graham Bonnet, bassist Gary Shea and keyboardist Jimmy Waldo back together, the band recruited drummer Mark Benquechea and guitarist Joe Stump for the new record. So, how does their first album in 34 years hold up? It’s nothing short of fantastic and flat out rocks!

At 72 years old, Bonnet’s vocals are in top form and he belts it out on the title song “Born Innocent” and “Dirty Like the City.” Shea and Waldo, who are also members of the underrated rock band New England, are in fine form and always create magic when they record together in the studio. The percussive stylings of Benquechea fit in perfectly with the rest of the band. And while Alacatrazz will always be known for featuring young guitar phenom Yngwie Malmsteem on their debut album No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll (1983) and Steve Vai on their sophomore release Disturbing the Peace (1985), Joe Stump is every bit their equal. His fretwork is incredible especially on songs like “London 1966” and “Polar Bear.” In short, Alcatrazz is back with a vengeance and Born Innocent delivers the goods. (Standout Tracks: “We Still Remember” and “London 1966)

#1 Static-X – Project: Regeneration Vol. 1

Our top album of 2020 is a complete shock to us! Prior to this year, I never considered myself a fan of Static-X. My brother used to listen to their debut album Wisconsin Death Trip when he was a senior in high school, and I saw them twice in concert because they were part of the WBCN River Rave and Ozzfest lineups of 2000. If you asked me to name a song other than “Push It,” I sadly could not name one. I recall vocalist Wayne Static’s passing in November of 2014 at the age of 48, but other than that, I never paid attention to the band or even considered listening to them.

Fast forward to the spring of this year. While I rarely watch anything on TV, I decided to tune into the news to get an update on the Covid-19 pandemic. I accidentally hit a wrong number on the remote and ended up on the Music Choice Metal channel. Static-X’s music video for the song “Hollow” was airing and it immediately caught my attention. I absolutely loved the song and couldn’t get it out of my head. I went online to gather more information about the song and found out it was the band’s first single in 10 years taken from Project: Regeneration Vol. 1 that would be released over the summer.

In a press release, I read the album would include some of the last vocal recordings of Static and his role would be filled by new front man XerO. The album would mark the return of original Static-X members Tony Campos, Koichi Fukuda and Ken Jay and long-time producer Ulrich Wild who was behind the boards for Wisconsin Death Trip. I was looking forward to the release, and finally delved into the band’s back catalog for the first time.

While I liked almost everything I heard from their previous six albums, Project: Regeneration Vol. 1 is the band’s finest recording to date. The album is relentlessly heavy. The 12 songs manage to be both industrial and melodic with none of them sounding like leftover tracks that were omitted from previous albums. Finding a new vocalist to fill someone else’s shoes is no easy task but Xer0 absolutely kills it in every way, especially on “Otsego Placebo” and “My Destruction.” Static-X’s returning members don’t miss a beat and capture the essence of the band’s sound. But most of all, everyone involved in this project does Wayne Static justice. This is a pure Static-X album from start to finish and is the album that made me a fan of the band. I cannot wait for Project:  Regeneration Vol 2 and to see the band perform some of these songs live when the pandemic is over. (Standout tracks: “Hollow” & “Terminator Oscillator”)

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