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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ November/ December 2017

November 13, 2017

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Mitch Miller and His Orchestra ~ March from The River Kwai (1958)¹

Sparky & Our Gang ~ Like To Get To Know You (1968) 

Harlem Johns Reshuffle ~ Good Lovin’ (1968)²

Piero Umilani ~ Lady Magnolia (1969)

Hookfoot ~ Here I Come/ Mystic Lady (1973)

Sarah Vaughan ~ Frasier (The Sensuous Lion) (1974)

The London Symphony Orchestra ~ A Day In The Life (1978)

Donna Summer ~ On The Radio (1979)

Bill Conti ~ Theme from Dynasty (1981)

Vangelis ~ Memories of Green (1982)³

T’Pau ~ Heart And Soul (1987)

ABC ~ When Smokey Sings (1987)

808 State ~ Pacific State (1989)

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¹ David Lean’s masterful, multi-Oscar-winning, near-anti-war epic, with which this theme is so intimately associated, celebrates its 60th anniversary this autumn

² Goldie Hawn, the subject of the video that accompanies this tune, established herself as a late ’60s ‘It Girl’ thanks to her bubbly dumb blonde persona on the classic NBC sketch comedy Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In (1968-73), in which she appeared for the first three seasons, sometimes memorably in the bikini-clad, body-painted manner showcased here

3 From the soundtrack of the seminal sci-fi adventure Blade Runner (1982); the composition actually predates the movie, having originally appeared on Vangelis’s 1980 album, See You Later

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Playlist: Listen, my friends ~ October 2017

October 3, 2017

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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The Jimi Hendrix Experience ~ Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967)¹

Anna Karina ~ Roller Girl (1967)²

Ron Grainer ~ Theme from The Prisoner (1967)³

Rita Coolidge ~ Superstar (1970)

Neil Richardson ~ Approaching Menace (1970)4

Don McLean ~ Vincent (Live) (1972)

Fleetwood Mac ~ Sara (1979)

The Two Ronnies ~ Mastermind Sketch (1980)

Burt Bacharach ~ Night Shift Love Theme (Instrumental) (1982)

Lee Wilkof and Ellen Greene ~ Suddenly, Seymour (1982)

David Dundas ~ Fourscore (1982)5

Martika ~ Toy Soldiers (1989)

Tom Petty ~ Free Fallin’ (1989)6

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¹ As performed at the Saville Theatre on London Shaftesbury Avenue (now an Odeon cinema) on May 28 1967, just two days after its eponymous album’s release; both Paul McCartney and George Harrison were in the audience

² From the 1967 French-language musical movie Anna

³ The opening episode of the cast-iron icon of 1960s British TV was first broadcast on ITV on September 6 1967

4 The unmistakeable theme from the intimidating quiz show for boffins, Mastermind (1972-97 and 2003-present)

5 The awesome instrumental that scored a montage of ‘forthcoming attractions’ seconds after the launch of the UK’s Channel 4 on November 2 1982; for years afterwards is was used to fill transmission breaks and, memorably, an excerpt of it accompanied the channel’s televised idents

6 The modern rock music legend passed on October 2; RIP, Tom.  

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ September 2017

September 7, 2017

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Mason Williams ~ Classical Gas (1968)

Tammi Terrell ~ Memory Chest (1968)

Johnny Harris ~ Footprints On The Moon (1969)¹

Mouth & MacNeal ~ Hello-A (1972)

The Love Unlimited Orchestra ~ Love’s Theme (1973)

Slade ~ Far Far Away (1974)

David Shire ~ CREEP List/ Sequence (1976)²

Roy Wood ~ Lovely Rita/ Polythene Pam (1976)

Linda Ronstadt ~ Ooh Baby Baby (1978)

Lindisfarne ~ Run For Home (1978)

Huey Lewis and The News ~ Heart And Soul (1983)

The Bangles ~ Walk Like An Egyptian (Live) (1986)³

Jean-Claude Petit ~ Theme from Jean de Florette (1986)4

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¹ The awesomely atmospheric instrumental that was used by the UK’s ITV terrestrial channel for its coverage of the Apollo space programme’s moon shots and landings between 1969 and ’72; Johnny Harris was musical director for Shirley Bassey throughout the early and mid-’70s, a particularly buoyant era in her decades-long career

² From the score of the unparalleled journalists-on-the-job-thriller and timeless Watergate cover-up exposé-explaining All The Presidents Men (1976)

³ Performed live at Philadelphia’s Syria Mosque Arena sometime in 1986

4 Effectively an adaptation of the music from the aria Invano, Alvaro from Giuseppe Verdi’s opera La Forza del Destino (1862), this oh-so evocative theme from the French film industry-reviving heritage cinema classic (along with its back-to-back-released sequel Manon des Sources) lived on in the consciousness of UK TV viewers for many years, soundtracking as it did commercials for the Stella Artois lager brand, all of which borrowed the look, style and tone of the aforementioned flicks

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George’s Journal’s pick of the flicks and top of the pops ~ 1980-84

August 10, 2017

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Yes, after an unplanned, extended sabbatical (apologies, but life has a habit of getting in the way of the best-laid plans!), George’s Journal has come roaring back with a familiar friend… Well, that’s if you consider the latest in a series of overlong (sorry!) blog posts taking a look back at the best single feature film and song release from each year across a specific half-decade as, er, a friend. But hey, given this blog’s already spurted out such posts covering the early ’50smid-to-late ’50searly ’60smid-to-late ’60s; early ’70s and mid-to-late ’70s, at least it’s familiar. Right?

And, to needlessly extend that point, the five years that spanned 1980 through to ’84 are certainly familiar to many of us. The semi-dectet that gave us the early years of Ronnie and Maggie at the top – and, thus, established both at home and abroad (and for better or worse) Reaganism and Thatcherism – as well as the US and Soviets trading Olympics embargoes; conflicts in the Falklands and Lebanon; the Greenham Common peace protests; political assassinations (as ever); recession (again, as ever) and miners’ strikes (again… you know the drill).

Meanwhile, in the arts realm, the punk and disco eras gave way to post-punk, ‘New Romantics’ and synth-pop and there was, of course a Spielberg-Lucas-driven rise in Hollywood’s box-office fortunes but still a commitment to interesting, curious and varied work from filmmakers the world over.

So, when you get down to it, it’s far from easy to sum up the early-to-mid 1980s in a nice, easy-to-consume soundbite (what many perceive as the 1980s arguably didn’t arrive until the middle of the decade; at least, aesthetically or properly in political terms). Instead, the seeds were being sown – MTV arrived and Michael Jackson and Madonna burst on the scene, as did Indiana Jones, Max Headroom and The A-Team. In which case then, why not join me in reliving the intriguing and surprising reality that was 1980-85 through this very post? Oh, go on – you never know, you might even enjoy it…!

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CLICK

on the film and song titles for video clips…

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1980

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Ronald Reagan sweeps to power; John Lennon dead; Iranian Embassy Siege;
Maze hunger strike; Mugabe elected in Zimbabwe; Solidarity rises in Poland;
Coe vs Ovett; CNN launches; Alton Towers opens; Pac-Man gobbles up Japan

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Film:

The Empire Strikes Back

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Directed by: Irvin Kershner/ Starring: Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher,
Billy Dee Williams, Anthony Daniels, David Prowse, Peter Mayhew, Kenny Baker and Alec Guiness/
Country: USA/ Running time: 122 minutes/ (Sci-fi-space fantasy adventure)

What George says: Deeper, darker, smarter but also funnier, grander and more elegant and stylish than the original Star Wars, Empire may not possess the same narrative purity, but with its exploration of the murkier aspects of fairy tale and Classical myth, sublime set pieces, sensational score, shock Luke-Vader plot twist, cliffhanger non-ending and, well, Yoda, it’s definitely one of the greatest sci-fi flicks ever made. A New Hope may be the Star Wars for the purists; Empire’s the one for grown-ups.

What the critics say: “At once more graceful and melancholic than its predecessor, Kershner enhances the pensive mood of impending tragedy with an array of inhospitable worlds … The film culminates in a whirl of emotional intensity and the infernal machine of the carbon freezing chamber … the whole feel is of a Wagnerian opera: dark and epic. … Nothing in the Star Wars canon betters this.”
~ Ian Nathan

 Oscar count: 2

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: Ordinary People

The public’s pick this year: The Empire Strikes Back (global box-office #1)

Discover a pictorial celebration of The Empire Strikes Back here and read a full review of the film here

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George’s runners-up: 2. Raging Bull;
3. Le Dernier Mètro (The Last Metro);
4. The Shining5. The Long Good Friday

  

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And the rest: Airplane!Atlantic CityThe Big Red One; The Blues Brothers; Coal Miner’s Daughter; Dressed To Kill; FameThe Elephant ManHeaven’s Gate; Kagemusha (Shadow Warrior);
Melvin And Howard; 9 To 5; Ordinary People; The Stunt ManUsed Cars

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Song:

Love Will Tear Us Apart ~ Joy Division

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Writers: Ian Curtis, Peter Hook, Stephen Morris and Bernard Sumner/ Released: June 1980

What George says: Poetic desolation as irresistibly cool percussion-driven pop song; this may be post-punk faves Joy Division’s most accessible track, but it’s also their finest. With tragic frontman Ian Curtis’s fatalistic, almost ethereal lyrics – they may well be autobiographical – accompanied by a haunting synth melody that soars and falls throughout, it’s a flawless creation that, like all great products of pop, takes you somewhere neither of place nor time; instead here, beautiful melancholia.

What the critics say: “What has always been … compelling … about Love Will Tear Us Apart is that it comes from a mournful, sad place, where the end of love has become a harsh yet inevitable reality. Few bands get the chance to end their careers on the absolutely perfect note, but Joy Division did.”
~ A. J. Ramirez

Chart record: UK #13

Recognition: Ranked #1 for 1980, #1 for the 1980s and #18 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.nets cumulatively ranked song lists/ ranked #1 on NME magazine’s ‘The Best Single of All-Time’  list (2002)

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George’s runners-up: 2. Atmosphere (Joy Division)/ 3. Same Old Scene (Roxy Music)/
4.
 Comfortably Numb (Pink Floyd)/ 5. (Just Like) Starting Over (John Lennon)

   

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And the rest: Ace Of Spades (Motörhead )/ Against The Wind (Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band)/ All Out Of Love (Air Supply)/ All Over The World (Electric Light Orchestra)/ And The Beat Goes On (The Whispers)/ Another One Bites The Dust (Queen)/ Army Dreamers; Babooshka; Breathing; December Will Be Magic Again (Kate Bush)/ Ashes To Ashes; Fashion (David Bowie)/ Atomic; Call MeThe Tide Is High (Blondie)/ Baggy Trousers; Embarrassment (Madness)/ Biko; Games Without Frontiers (Peter Gabriel)/ Brass In Pocket (The Pretenders)/ Celebration (Kool & the Gang)/ De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da; Don’t Stand So Close To Me (The Police)/ Enola Gay (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark)/ Everybody Needs Somebody (The Blues Brothers)/ Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime (The Korgis)/ Fade To Grey (Visage)/ Fame (Irene Cara)/ Funkytown (Lipps Inc.)/ Geno (Dexys Midnight Runners)/ Give Me The Night (George Benson)/ Going Underground; Start! (The Jam)/ Han Solo And The PrincessThe Imperial March (Darth Vader’s Theme); Yoda’s Theme (John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra)/ Happy New YearOn And On And On; Our Last SummerSuper Trouper; The Winner Takes It All (ABBA)/ Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Pat Benatar)/ Hungry Heart (Bruce Springsteen)/ I Got You (Split Enz)/ I’m Coming OutUpside Down (Diana Ross)/ It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me (Billy Joel)/ Jump To The Beat (Stacy Lattisaw)/ Let’s Go Round Again (Average White Band)/ Little Jeannie (Elton John)/ Love Sensation (Loleatta Holloway)/ Main Theme from The Long Good Friday (Francis Monkman)/ My Perfect Cousin (The Undertones)/ 9 To 5 (Morning Train) (Sheena Easton)/ Oh Yeah; Over You (Roxy Music)/ One Day I’ll Fly Away (Randy Crawford)/ Oops Up Side Your Head (The Gap Band)/ Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) (Squeeze)/ Redemption Song (Bob Marley)/ Refugee (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)/ Ride Like The Wind (Christopher Cross)/ Rock With You (Michael Jackson)/ Run Like Hell (Pink Floyd)/ The Spirit Of Radio (Rush)/ Stop The Cavalry (Jona Lewie)/ Take That Look Off Your Face (Marti Webb)/ Theme from Magnum, P.I. (Mike Post)/ Theme From New York, New York (Frank Sinatra)/ To Cut A Long Story Short (Spandau Ballet)/ Train In Vain (The Clash)/ Turn It On Again (Genesis)/ Turning Japanese (The Vapors)/ Use It Up And Wear It Out (Odyssey)/ Woman In Love (Barbra Streisand)

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1981

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Charles and Di wed; urban riots in Britain; first space shuttle, Columbia, in space;
Reagan and Pope survive shootings; Mitterand is French President; Yorkshire Ripper jailed;
MTV launches; ‘Botham’s Ashes’; first London Marathon; Bob Marley dies

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Film:

Raiders Of The Lost Ark

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Directed by: Steven Spielberg/ Starring: Harrison Ford, Karen Allen, Paul Freeman,
John Rhys-Davies, Wolf Kahler, Ronald Lacey and Denholm Elliott/ Country: USA/
Running time: 111 minutes/ (Period-fantasy action-adventure)

What George says: A rollicking adventure in the grandest tradition of its exotic if corny forebears (complete with snakes, tarantulas and a rolling boulder), Raiders absolutely transcends its genre thanks to the peerless craftsmanship of director Spielberg. In adapting Lawrence Kasdan’s tip-top script (where wryly God, via the Ark of the Covenant macfguffin, tops everyone come the climax), he blends blood-pumping thrills and spills with droll comedy, a dash of romance and a touch of ghoulish spectacle, to bring George Lucas’s post-Star Wars hero, the instantly iconic Indiana Jones, irresistibly to life.

What the critics say:Raiders of the Lost Ark is an out-of-body experience, a movie of glorious imagination and breakneck speed that grabs you in the first shot, hurtles you through a series of incredible adventures, and deposits you back in reality two hours later – breathless, dizzy, wrung-out, and with a silly grin on your face.” ~ Roger Ebert

Oscar count: 5

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: Chariots Of Fire

The public’s pick this year: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (global box-office #1)

Read about the making of Raiders Of The Lost Ark here and a full review of the film here

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George’s runners-up: 2. Das Boot (The Boat); 3. Time Bandits;
4. An American Werewolf In London5. The French Lieutenant’s Woman

   

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And the rest: Arthur; Blow Out; Body HeatChariots Of FireEscape From New York;
Excalibur; Gallipoli; Gregory’s GirlMad Max 2: The Road WarriorMephisto;
Mommie Dearest; On Golden PondPennies From Heaven; RedsThief

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Song:

Under Pressure ~ Queen and David Bowie

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Writers: Queen and David Bowie/ Released: October 1981

What George says: Recalled as much for the Vanilla Ice-half-inched bassline that opens proceedings and those finger-clicks that close them, as it is for being one of the highest profile rock collaborations of all-time, this is nonetheless a perfectly composed and produced supergroup-esque venture; Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s voices gloriously soaring at different points and the whole rumbling, thundering and crashing towards its conclusion as the lyrics declare, unequivocally, that we should all care about the downtrodden among us a little more – we should all give love one more chance. And so we should.

What the critics say: “[With] Queen providing the musical backing, mixing the Chic-reminiscent bassline of John Deacon with piano and a lovely Brian May guitar melody … Freddie Mercury handles the higher vocals in his own inimitable way, delivering some classically bravura moments, while Bowie tackles the lower register to provide the perfect balance. Anthemic, showy and warm-hearted, it’s a clear standout for both acts.” ~ Ned Raggett

Chart record: US #29/ UK #1

Recognition: Ranked #12 for 1981, #103 for the 1980s and #717 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.nets cumulatively ranked song lists

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George’s runners-up: 2. Souvenir (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)/ 3. Vienna (Ultravox)/ 4. In The Air Tonight (Phil Collins)/ 5. Don’t Stop Believin’ (Journey)

   

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And the rest: The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash And The Wheels Of Steel (Grandmaster Flash)/ All Those Years Ago; Teardrops (George Harrison)/ America; Love On The Rocks (Neil Diamond)/ Angel Of The Morning (Juice Newton)/ Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do) (Christopher Cross)/ Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)Watching The Wheels; Woman (John Lennon)/ Begin The Beguine (Volver a Empezar) (Julio Iglesias)/ Bette Davis Eyes (Kim Carnes)/ Chant No.1 (I Don’t Need This Pressure On) (Spandau Ballet)/ Chariots Of Fire (Vangelis)/ Chi Mai (Ennio Morricone)/ Computer Love (Kraftwerk)/ Don’t You Want Me (The Human League)/ Endless Love (Diana Ross and Lionel Richie)/ Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic (The Police)/ For Your Eyes Only (Sheena Easton)/ Ghost Town (The Specials)/ Girls On Film; Planet Earth (Duran Duran)/ Grey Day; It Must Be Love; The Return Of The Los Palmas 7 (Madness)/ I Go To Sleep (The Pretenders)/ I Ran (So Far Away) (A Flock Of Seagulls)/ I’ll Find My Way Home (Jon and Vangelis)/ I’m In Love With A German Film Star (The Passions)/ Jealous Guy (Roxy Music)/ I Will FollowOctober (U2)/ Just Can’t Get Enough (Depeche Mode)/ Kids In America (Kim Wilde)/ Kiss On My List; Private Eyes; You Make My Dreams Come True (Hall and Oates)/ Lay All Your Love On Me; One Of Us (ABBA)/ Let’s Groove (Earth, Wind & Fire)/  Maid Of Orleans (Joan Of Arc) (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark)/ Memory (Elaine Paige)/ Mr. Mistoffelees (Paul Nicholas)/ 9 To 5 (Dolly Parton)/ One Day In Your Life (Michael Jackson)/ Once In A Lifetime (Talking Heads)/ Physical (Olivia Newton-John)/ Prince Charming; Stand And Deliver (Adam and the Ants)/ The Raiders March (John Williams and the London Symphony Orchestra)/ Rapture (Blondie)/ Reward (The Teardrop Explodes)/ The River (Bruce Springsteen)/ Romeo And Juliet; Tunnel Of Love (Dire Straits)/ Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) (David Bowie)/ Start Me Up; Waiting On A Friend (The Rolling Stones)/ Swords Of A Thousand Men (Tenpole Tudor)/ Tainted Love (Soft Cell)/ Tears Are Not Enough (ABC)/ Theme from Hill Street Blues (Mike Post)/ There’s A Guy Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis (Kirsty MacColl)/ (We Don’t Need This) Fascist Groove Thang (Heaven 17)/ Yellow Pearl (Phil Lynott)/ You Better You Bet (The Who)/ Young Turks (Rod Stewart)

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1982

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War in the Falklands and Lebanon; Greenham Common peace protest; Brezhnev dies;
China’s population tops 1 billion; UK jobless tops 3 million; Italy win third World Cup;
E. T.; CDs; Countdown launches Channel 4; first ever computer virus unleashed

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Film:

E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial

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Directed by: Steven Spielberg/ Starring: Henry Thomas, Dee Wallace, Peter Coyote,
Robert McNaughton, Drew Barrymore, K. C. Martel, Sean Frye, C. Thomas Howell and Erika Eleniak/ Country: USA/ Running time: 110 minutes/ (Sci-fi-human drama)

What George says: A target of cineastes for its supposed over-sentiment, this small movie that could (it went stratospheric at the box-office, proving the top champ for more than 10 years) is actually among that select band of films that are practically flawlessly crafted, showcasing Spielberg at his imperious best (again), with exquisite natural performances from the mostly young cast (and Carlo Rambaldi’s astonishingly realised alien puppet) and sublime sequences soundtracked by John Williams’ soaring score. A movie of emotional honesty, as well as wonder and magic; it’s one for the child in all of us.

What the contemporary says: “I was certain that not only would E.T. win [the Best Picture Oscar], but that it should win. It was inventive, powerful, [and] wonderful. I make more mundane movies.”
~ Sir Richard Attenbrough (whose film Gandhi won the Best Picture Oscar for 1982)

Oscar count: 4

The public’s pick this year: E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (global box-office #1)

Read about the making of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial here
and why it’s actually one of cinema’s greatest romances here

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George’s runners-up:
2.
Fanny Och Alexander (Fanny And Alexander);
3. Blade Runner4. The Thing; 5. Koyaanisqatsi

   

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And the rest: The Dark Crystal; Diner; Fitzcarraldo; 48 Hours; Gandhi;
Missing; My Favorite Year; Pink Floyd – The Wall; Poltergeist; The Secret Of NIMH;
Sophie’s Choice; Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan; Tootsie; The Verdict; Veronika Voss

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Song:

All Of My Heart ~ ABC

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Writer: Martin Fry/ Released: August 1982

What George says: Exuding all the luxury of a jet-setting Monaco sojourn with a touch of the camp of a Blackpool ballroom, this deluxe ballad is simply the Sheffield synth-pop superheroes at their scintillating best. ABC strove to eke out the total 100% richness a studio could lend their music, so much so that (especially on the supreme Lexicon of Love album from which this comes) their sound was wall-to-wall dripping with glorious gorgeousness and yet, ensuring the whole shebang would actually work, it was also shot through with a fair degree of irony – and All Of My Heart is the prime example. The fact it’s a bloody brilliant love song with heartfelt vocals from songsmith Fry doesn’t hurt either.

What the critics say: “ABC’s slickest and most gorgeous single, and yet also possibly their most bitter … Martin Fry alternates between open-hearted and suspicious, warm and resentful with the turn of a phrase. The outra – a swirl of soundtrack strings, plucked bass and cascading piano – is the most purely beautiful music of the era” ~ Jess Harvell

Chart record: UK #5

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George’s runners-up: 2. Gypsy (Fleetwood Mac)/ 3. Golden Brown (The Stranglers)/ 4. Shipbuilding (Robert Wyatt)/ 5. The Look Of Love (ABC)

   

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And the rest: Abracadabra (Steve Miller Band)/ Africa; Rosanna (Toto)/ Always On My Mind (Willie Nelson)/ Avalon; More Than This (Roxy Music)/ Back On The Chain Gang (The Pretenders)/ Beat Surrender; Town Called Malice (The Jam)/ Blue Eyes (Elton John)/ Chariots Of Fire (Vangelis)/ Come On Eileen; Jackie Wilson Said (I’m In Heaven When You Smile) (Dexys Midnight Runners)/ Da Da Da (Trio)/ Date Stamp; 4 Ever 2 Gether; Poison Arrow; Show Me; Tears Are Not Enough (ABC)/ Do You Believe In Love; Workin’ For A Livin’ (Huey Lewis and The News)/ Do You Really Want To Hurt Me; Time (Clock Of The Heart) (Culture Club)/ Don’t Go; Only You (Yazoo)/ The Dreaming; Sat In Your LapThere Goes A Tenner (Kate Bush)/ Driving In My Car; House Of Fun; Our House (Madness)/ Edge Of Seventeen (Stevie Nicks)/ Electric Avenue (Eddy Grant)/ Escape/ Chase/ Saying Goodbye; End Credits from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (John Williams) / Eye Of The Tiger (Survivor)/ Forget Me Nots (Patrice Rushen)/ Glittering Prize; Promised You A Miracle (Simple Minds)/ Gloria (Laura Branigan)/ He Was Really Sayin’ Somethin’; It Ain’t What You Do… (Bananarama & Fun Boy Three)/ Head Over Heels (ABBA)/ Heartbreaker (Dionne Warwick)/ Heat Of The Moment (Asia)/ Hot In The City; White Wedding (Billy Idol)/ Hungry Like The Wolf; Rio; Save A Prayer (Duran Duran)/ I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do); Maneater (Hall & Oates)/ I Melt With You (Modern English)/ I Ran (So Far Away); Space Age Love Song (A Flock of Seagulls)/ I Won’t Let You Down (Ph.D)/ It Started With A Kiss (Hot Chocolate)/ It’s Raining Again (Supertramp)/ Jack & Diane (John Mellencamp)/ Last Night A D.J. Saved My Life (InDeep)/ Lifeline (Spandau Ballet)/ Living On The Ceiling (Blancmange)/ Love My Way (The Psychedelic Furs)/ Love Plus One (Haircut 100)/ Mad World (Tears For Fears)/ Main Theme from Knight Rider (Stu Phillips)/ The Message (Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five)/ Mickey (Toni Basil)/ Mirror Man (The Human League)/ Never Give Up On A Good ThingTurn Your Love Around (George Benson)/ 1999 (Prince)/ Peace On Earth/Little Drummer Boy (David Bowie & Bing Crosby)/ Private Investigations (Dire Straits)/ Rock The Casbah; Should I Stay Or Should I Go (The Clash)/ Say Hello, Wave Goodbye (Soft Cell)/ Senses Working Overtime (XTC)/ Sexual Healing (Marvin Gaye)/ Shock The Monkey (Peter Gabriel)/ Steppin’ Out (Joe Jackson)/ Temptation (New Order)/ Theme from Cheers (Where Everybody Knows Your Name) (Gary Portnay)/ Theme from St. Elsewhere (Dave Grusin)/ Tug Of War (Paul McCartney)/ Up Where We Belong (Joe Cocker  and Jennifer Warnes)/ Why (Carly Simon)/ A Winter’s Tale (David Essex)/ You Can’t Hurry Love (Phil Collins)

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1983

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Thatcher back in with landslide, Kinnock new Labour leader; Reagan’s ‘Star Wars’;
Michael Jackson’s moonwalk and ‘Thriller’; US invades Grenada; Brink’s-Mat robbery;
half of America watches M*A*S*H finale; Mario and Luigi in arcades; first Hooters opens

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Film:

Local Hero

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Directed by: Bill Forsyth/ Starring: Peter Riegert, Burt Lancaster, Denis Lawson,
Peter Capaldi, Jenny Seagrove, Jennifer Black and Fulton Mackay/ Country: UK/
Running time: 111 minutes/ (Human-social comedy-drama)

What George says: Blending together social and environmental comment, wistfulness, absurdist humour and magical realism, writer-director Forsyth delivers a timeless fish-out-of-water comedy that’s less an intoxicating brew; more a gently delivered, enchanting paean to a place and community of people the like of which has probably never really existed, but it doesn’t matter. Local Hero is a quirkily funny, always subtly shifting ode to feeling, touching the soul and existential satisfaction, however indefinable and difficult to grasp and hold on to that may be; just as its everyman protagonist finds.

What the critics say: “[Forsyth] finds the perfect tone for this not-quite-a-fairy-tale set in a quaint seaside Scottish village named Ferness. By injecting a little (but not too much) magical realism into the mix, [he] leavens his pro-environmental message to the point that those not looking for it might not be conscious of its presence … [It’s] a fragment of cinematic whimsy – a genial dramatic comedy that defies both our expectations and those of the characters.” ~ James Berardinelli

Oscar count: 0 (but did win Best Director at 1983’s BAFTA Awards)

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: Terms Of Endearment

The public’s pick this year: Return Of The Jedi (global box-office #1)

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George’s runners-up: 2. The Right Stuff;
3. The King Of Comedy; 4. Trading Places; 5. Educating Rita

   

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And the rest: The Big Chill; A Christmas Story; The Dresser;
Gorky Park; Merry Christmas, Mr LawrenceNational Lampoon’s Vacation;
Return Of The Jedi; Risky Business; Rumble Fish; ScarfaceSilkwood;
Tender Mercies; Terms Of Endearment; De Vierde Man (The Fourth Man); Zelig

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Song:

This Charming Man ~ The Smiths

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Writers: Johnny Marr and Morrisey/ Released: October 1983

What George says: Charming, indeed, and still a magnificent slice of rock-pop it may be today, but this bouncy, irresistible tune was deceptively dynamic and courageous when released nearly 35 years ago, thanks to Mancunian misanthrope-deluxe Morrisey’s lyrics telling how a young man happens upon his first homosexual experience; his vocals soaring and dropping to match Johnny Marr’s deliciously jangly-guitar-peppered, upbeat melody. Never before had – nor since has – popular music sounded quite so self-aware, progressive, evocative, defiant, exciting and beautiful all at the same time.

What the critics say:Where has all the wildness and daring got to? Some of it has found its way onto The Smiths’ record This Charming Man. It jangles and crashes and Morrissey jumps in the middle with his mutant choir-boy voice, sounding jolly and angst-ridden at the same time. It should be given out on street corners to unsuspecting passers-by of all ages”
 ~ The Face magazine (written in 1983)

Chart record: UK #25 (#8 in 1992)

Recognition: Ranked #2 for 1983, #8 for the 1980s and #78 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.nets cumulatively ranked song lists/ ranked #1 on Mojo magazine’s ‘50 Greatest UK Indie Records of All Time’ list (2008)

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George’s runners-up: 2. Billie Jean (Michael Jackson)/
3. Every Breath You Take (The Police)/
4. Modern Love (David Bowie)/ 5. Gold (Spandau Ballet)

   

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And the rest: Ain’t Nobody (Rufus and Chaka Khan)/ All Night Long (All Night) (Lionel Ritchie)/ All Time High (Rita Coolidge)/ Baby Jane; That’s What Friends Are For (Rod Stewart)/ Beat It; Human NatureThriller; Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’ (Michael Jackson)/ Blue Monday (New Order)/ Change; Pale Shelter (Tears for Fears)/ China GirlLet’s Dance (David Bowie)/ Church of the Poison MindKarma Chameleon (Culture Club)/ Club Tropicana (Wham!)/ Come Back and Stay; Love Of The Common People; Wherever I Lay My Hat (That’s My Home) (Paul Young)/ Cruel Summer; Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye) (Bananarama)/ Down Under (Men at Work)/ Everyday I Write The Book (Elvis Costello and the Attractions)/ (Feels Like) Heaven (Fiction Factory)/ The First Picture Of You (The Lotus Eaters)/ Flashdance… What A Feeling (Irene Cara)/ Galaxy Song (Monty Python)/ Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top)/ Girls Just Want To Have Fun (Cyndi Lauper)/ Give It Up (KC and the Sunshine Band)/ Going Home (Theme from Local Hero) (Mark Knopfler)/ Goodnight Saigon; An Innocent Man; Tell Her About ItUptown Girl (Billy Joel)/ Heart And Soul (Huey Lewis and the News)/ Hold Me Now (Thompson Twins)/ Holiday; Lucky Star (Madonna)/ Holiday Road (Lindsey Buckingham)/ I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues; I’m Still Standing (Elton John)/ I Won’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me (Nik Kershaw)/ In a Big Country (Big Country)/ In Your Eyes (George Benson)/ Is There Something I Should Know? (Duran Duran)/ Islands In The Stream (Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton)/ It’s Like That (Run-D.M.C.)/ Just Be Good To Me (The S.O.S. Band)/ Little Red Corvette (Prince)/ Long Hot Summer; Speak Like A Child (The Style Council)/ The Love Cats (The Cure)/ Love Is A Battlefield (Pat Benatar)/ Love Is A Stranger; Right By Your Side; Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This); Who’s That Girl? (Eurhythmics)/ Mama (Genesis)/ Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence (Ryuichi Sakamoto)/ Moonlight Shadow (Mike Oldfield)/ Never Say Never Again (Lani Hall)/ New Year’s Day; Sunday Bloody Sunday (U2)/ Oblivious (Aztec Camera)/ Only You (The Flying Pickets)/ Owner Of A Lonely Heart (Yes)/ Pipes Of Peace (Paul McCartney)/ Rip It Up (Orange Juice)/ Rockit (Herbie Hancock)/ The Safety Dance (Men Without Hats)/ The Sun And The Rain; Tomorrow’s (Just Another Day)Wings Of A Dove (Madness)/ Temptation (Heaven 17)/ That’s Livin’ Alright (Joe Fagin)/ Theme from The A-Team (Mike Post and Pete Carpenter)/ Twisting By The Pool (Dire Straits)/ They Don’t Know (Tracey Ullman)/ This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads)/ Total Eclipse Of The Heart (Bonnie Tyler)/ Too Shy (Kajagoogoo)/ True (Spandau Ballet)/ Undercover Of The Night (The Rolling Stones)/War Baby (Tom Robinson)/ Wrapped Around My Finger (The Police)

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1984

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Reagan re-elected by monster margin; miners vs police at Ogreave; Indira Gandhi assassinated;
‘material girl’ Madonna’s ‘like a virgin’; Ethiopian famine and Band Aid; Brighton hotel bombing;
Torvill and Dean’s perfect sixes; Ghostbusters and Gremlins; Spitting Image splats on to TV

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Film:

Once Upon A Time In America

(European version)

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Directed by: Sergio Leone/ Starring: Robert De Niro, James Woods,
Elizabeth McGovern, Tuesday Weld, Scott Shutzman Tiler, Rusty Jacobs
and Jennifer Connelly/ Country: USA/ Italy/ Running time: 229 minutes/
(Crime-period drama)

What George says: Something of a cross between the first two Godfathers and Leone’s Once Upon A Time In The West – and a companion piece to them – this four-hour mob opus is a tale of ambition and opportunity; kinship, loyalty and betrayal; love and loss; and the passage of time. Told through the eyes (and opium-addled dream?) of a Prohibition-era New York-Jewish hood, it’s a bewitching mix of, yes, brutal violence, borderline misogyny and bawdy humour with melancholic nostalgia, historical curiosity and opera-esque melodrama sweep. Not perfect, but intoxicating and an utter one-off.

What the critics say: “Ultimately America is much more than just a gangster picture. Certainly some of the familiar genre-trappings are floating about … But it’s at its deeper level that the film transcends genre and becomes something much more profound. It’s a movie about the unreliability of memory; about ageing and guilt and indelible regret.” ~ Adam Smith

Oscar count: 0

Oscar’s Best Picture pick this year: Amadeus

The public’s pick this year: Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom (global box-office #1)

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George’s runners-up: 2. Amadeus;
3. The Killing Fields; 4. Ghostbusters5. Starman

   

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And the rest: Beverly Hills Cop; Birdy; Blood Simple; Broadway Danny Rose; Cal;
The Company Of Wolves; The Cotton Club; GremlinsIndiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom;
Moscow On The Hudson; A Nightmare On Elm Street; Paris, Texas;
Romancing The Stone; The TerminatorThis Is Spinal Tap

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Song:

Drive ~ The Cars

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Writer: Ric Ocasek/ Released: July 1984

What George says: To my mind, this ballad and summer ’85’s Live Aid are so indistinguishable (thanks to the tune soundtracking a film shown partway through the concert of starving Ethiopian people, many children, to remind everybody what the day was about), it seems fruitless trying to write about the song here but not about the event. Yet, it’s exactly because this is a mellifluously melancholic, sublimely synthed pop song, with its singer lamenting the dire straits of his subject (whom he clearly loves), that it perfectly fitted that moment on that day. The effect could have been inexcusably glib; it wasn’t. It was kismet; a profound union of devastating imagery and beautiful music.

What the critics say: “The lonely ache in the bassist’s voice haunted and captivated listeners … The rhythm sways at slow-dance pace, although this is the kind of dance that immediately precedes a final farewell … Maybe The Cars aren’t who anyone would have expected to deliver one of the most heartfelt ballads of the ’80s, but Drive is impeccable evidence that they did.” ~ Jim Beviglia

Chart record: US #3/ UK #5 (#4 in 1985)

Recognition: Ranked #52 for 1984, #497 for the 1980s and #3,053 for ‘all-time’ on acclaimedmusic.nets cumulatively ranked song lists

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George’s runners-up: 2. Radio Ga Ga (Queen)/ 3. The Heat Is On (Glenn Frey)/ 
4. Shout To The Top! (The Style Council)/ 5. Dancing In The Dark (Bruce Springsteen)

  

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And the rest: Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)One More Night (Phil Collins)/ All I Need Is EverythingJump (Aztec Camera)/ Axel F (Harold Faltermeyer)/ Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream) (The Icicle Works)/ Blue Jean (David Bowie)/ Borderline; Like A Virgin; Material Girl (Madonna)/ Born In The U.S.A. (Bruce Springsteen)/ Borrowed Time (John Lennon)/ The Boys Of Summer (Don Henley)/ Can’t Fight This Feeling (REO Speedwagon)/ Careless Whisper (George Michael)/ Dance Hall Days (Wang Chung)/ Dancing With Tears In My Eyes (Ultravox)/ Do They Know It’s Christmas? (Band Aid)/ Eyes Without A Face (Billy Idol)/ Footloose (Kenny Loggins)/ Free Nelson Mandela (The Special A.K.A.)/ FreedomLast Christmas; Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go (Wham!)/ The Ghost In You; Heaven (The Psychedelic Furs)/ Ghostbusters (Ray Parker Jr.)/ Hallelujah (Leonard Cohen)/ Hammer To Fall; I Want To Break Free; It’s A Hard Life (Queen)/ The Heart Of Rock & Roll; If This Is It (Huey Lewis and the News)/ Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now; Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want; William, It Was Really Nothing (The Smiths)/ Here Comes The Rain; Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four) (Eurhythmics)/ Holding Out For A Hero (Bonnie Tyler)/ I Feel For You (Chaka Khan)/ I Should Have Known Better (Jim Diamond)/ I Want To Know What Love Is (Foreigner)/ It’s My Life (Talk Talk)/ Jump (Van Halen)/ Jump (For My Love)Neutron Dance (The Pointer Sisters)/ The Killing Moon (Echo & the Bunnymen)/ Legs (ZZ Top)/ Let’s Go CrazyPurple RainWhen Doves Cry (Prince)/ Let’s Hear It For The Boy (Deniece Williams)/ Locomotion (Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark)/ The Longest Time (Billy Joel)/ Michael CaineOne Better Day (Madness)/ Mothers TalkShout (Tears For Fears)/ My Ever Changing MoodsYou’re The Best Thing (The Style Council)/ 99 Luftballons99 Red Balloons (Nena)/ The NeverEnding Story (Limahl)/ A New England (Kirsty MacColl)/ New Moon On MondayThe ReflexThe Wild Boys (Duran Duran)/ No More Lonely Nights (Paul McCartney)/ Please, Please, Please, Let Me Get What I Want (The Dream Academy)/ The Power Of LoveRelaxTwo Tribes (Frankie Goes To Hollywood)/ The RiddleWouldn’t It Be Good (Nik Kershaw)/ Robert De Niro’s Waiting (Bananarama)/ Robin (The Hooded Man) (Clannad)/ Smooth Operator; Your Love Is King (Sade)/ Smuggler’s Blues (Glenn Frey)/ Stir It Up (Patti LaBelle)/ Young At Heart (The Bluebells)

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And coming up…

George’s pick of the flicks
and top of the pops ~ 1985-89

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Playlist, listen my friends! ~ August 2017

August 3, 2017

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Henry Mancini ~ Baby Elephant Walk (1962)

Love ~ She Comes In Colors (1966)

Nancy Sinatra ~ You Only Live Twice (Alternate Version) (1967)

Bernard Cribbins ~ When I’m Sixty-Four (1967)

Claude Bolling ~ Full Speed (1970)¹

Shirley Bassey ~ Light My Fire/ Big Spender (Live) (1973)

Alan Hawkshaw ~ Girl In A Sports Car (1973)

Peter Falk ~ Lt. Columbo Roasts Frank Sinatra (1978)²

Godiego ~ Monkey Magic (1978)³

Electric Light Orchestra ~ Shine A Little Love (1979)

Yazoo ~ Nobody’s Diary (1983)

Paul Aitken and David Owen Smith ~ Theme from Hartbeat (1984)

Duran Duran ~ A View To A Kill (That Fatal Extended Kiss) (1985)

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¹ From the soundtrack of the 1970, Romy Schneider-starring Franco-Italian mystery-thriller Qui? (or The Sensuous Assassin)

² From The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Frank Sinatra, broadcast on the NBC network July 2 1978

³ The unmistakable theme tune from the 1978-80, cult Japanese adventure-drama TV series Monkey (Saiyūki/ 西遊記)

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ July 2017

July 13, 2017

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

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CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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The Standells ~ Batman Theme (1966)¹

Hljómar ~ Sveitapiltsins Draumur (1967)²

Maggie Smith ~ I’ll Make A Man Of You (1969)³

John Shakespeare ~ Bell Hop (1970)4

Candi Staton ~ In The Ghetto (1972)

Albert Hammond ~ It Never Rains In Southern California (1973)

Peter Reno ~ Silver Thrust (1973)

Fela Kuti ~ Water No Get Enemy (1975)

Marvin Hamlisch ~ Bond 77 (1977)5

Elkie Brooks ~ Fool (If You Think It’s Over) (1981)

Električni Orgazam ~ Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite! (1983)

Nik Kershaw ~ Wide Boy (1985)

Madonna and Mandy Patinkin ~ What Can You Lose (1990)6

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¹ Adam West, star of the classic kitsch Batman TV series (1966-68) passed on June 9, aged 89

² An Icelandic-language version of the utterly iconic hippiedom and Vietnam War-era track from The Mamas & The Papas, California Dreamin’ (1966)

³ As featured in the First World War film satire Oh! What A Lovely War (1969), itself adapted from Joan Littlewood’s musical stage show

4 The ‘music library’ track that years later was chosen as the theme to the loveable, middle-of-the-road BBC sitcom Terry And June (1979-87)

5 From the soundtrack of the awesome, still enormously popular disco-era Bond epic The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), which was released 40 years ago this month – specifically on July 7 1977 (yes, 7/7/77)

6 Written by musical theatre maestro Stepehn Sondheim and from the big screen comic book-inspired gangster caper Dick Tracy (1990) 

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Playlist: Listen, my friends! ~ May/June 2017

May 30, 2017

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In the words of Moby Grape… listen, my friends! Yes, it’s the (hopefully) monthly playlist presented by George’s Journal just for you good people.

There may be one or two classics to be found here dotted in among different tunes you’re unfamiliar with or have never heard before – or, of course, you may’ve heard them all before. All the same, why not sit back, listen away and enjoy…

.

CLICK on the song titles to hear them

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Pop Tops ~ Oh Lord, Why Lord (1967)

Harry Nilsson ~ She’s Leaving Home (1967)

Bobbie Gentry ~ Ode To Billie Joe (1968)

Acid Gallery ~ Dance Round The Maypole (1969)

Open Mind ~ Magic Potion (1969)

Booker T & The M.G.’s ~ Time Is Tight (1969)

Dusty Springfield ~ To Love Somebody (1970)

Alan Hawkshaw ~ The Night Rider (1972)¹

Jefferson Starship ~ Song To The Sun
(Part I: Ozymandius/ Part II: Don’t Let It Rain)
(1976)

England Dan and John Ford Coley ~ I’d Really Love To See You Tonight (1976)

Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band ~ Nutbush City Limits (Live) (1977)

Carly Simon and Friends ~ Nobody Does It Better (Than Roger Moore) (1977)²

Marvin Hamlisch ~ Pachelbel’s Canon in D (1980)³

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¹ The theme made oh-so famous in the UK thanks to its use in the James Bond-parodying ‘Milk Tray Man’ TV adverts of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s

² RIP, Sir Roger Moore (October 14th 1927-May 23rd 2017)

³ From the soundtrack of Robert Redford’s multi-Oscar-winning family drama Ordinary People (1980)

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