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30 Years Ago Today: Terrible music was released

Nirvana Bleach is one of the worst so called rock records in the history of the universeNirvana’s debut album, Bleach, was released on the Sub Pop label on June 15, 1989.

I have never liked Nirvana. The simplistic songs and nonsensical lyrics make a mockery of actual talent. The band was awful from the start, and Bleach serves as Exhibit A.

Nirvana was not the greatest “grunge” band. Nirvana was not a good band period.

I will not apologize for this opinion. I question the sanity of those who gave the release positive reviews, both at the time and in the years since.

“About A Girl” is perhaps the most tolerable song on the album. If you want to torture your eardrums, click play:

30 Years Ago Today: The Crypt Keeper begins to tell his tales on HBO

Tales from teh CryptTales from the Crypt, the horror anthology television program, debuted on HBO on June 10, 1989. I did not have HBO growing up, so it was not until much later that I saw a few episodes. As a youth, I was more familiar with George A. Romero’s syndicated Tales from the Darkside.

Tales from the Crypt was based on a series of comics produced in the 1950s, and most of the storylines came from those books. The program lasted for seven years and resulted in many related projects, including feature films, a Saturday morning cartoon, a game show for kids, and three music compilations.

The first album is a soundtrack from the series, including music from Danny Elfman, Jan Hammer, and Ry Cooder. The second is Christmas-themed, called Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas, with inspired music such as “Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie” and “‘Twas the Fright Before Christmas.” The third—Monsters of Metal—featured a mix of hard rock favorites by bands such as Black Sabbath, Pantera, and Dio.

The television series is not currently included for free on any of the major streaming services, but you can buy the complete series from Amazon. If you prefer to read the comics that inspired the show, there are several anthologies available as well.

35 Years Ago Today: What you see…isn’t always what you get

Gremlins“Don’t get him wet, keep him out of bright light, and never feed him after midnight.”

Perhaps the best-known rules in cinematic history.

Joe Dante directed Gremlins, released June 8, 1984; the movie starred Zach Galligan, Phoebe Cates, and Hoyt Axton. The June release date seems a little strange to me as the film is set at Christmastime, but it worked as it ended up the fourth highest-grossing film of 1984.

A bizarrely brilliant half comedy, half horror movie, the film was criticized for its violence but beloved for its cuteness. It is cited by many as one of the films that prompted the creation of the PG-13 rating less than a month after its release.

The Hardee’s fast food chain released five book and record sets to coincide with the popularity of the film: “The Gift of the Mogwai,” “Gizmo and the Gremlins,” “Escape from the Gremlins,” “Gremlins—Trapped,” and “The Last Gremlin.” I am lucky enough to still own four of the five in my record collection.

35 Years Ago Today: Who you gonna call?

GhostbustersDan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis, Bill Murray, and Ernie Hudson teamed up together in the Ivan Reitman-directed classic Ghostbusters, released in theaters on June 8, 1984. The movie was a massive success, the second highest-grossing film of the year, trailing only Beverly Hills Cop.

The theme song by Ray Parker Jr. was just as big as the film, hitting #1 in August 1984 for three weeks. At the end of the year, it landed at #9 on Billboard’s chart of all 1984 singles.

There was, of course, a sequel to Ghostbusters released just a few years later (we’ll talk about that one in a few weeks), a reboot released a few years ago (we may never speak of that one again), and a planned second sequel to the original next summer. In addition, Aykroyd has hinted at a prequel television series based on the original characters.

There are tons of toys, books, costumes, and even video games. Here are just a handful of the offerings on Amazon, but you can page through several more items yourself

Ghostbusters remains to this day a cultural phenomenon.

40 Years Ago Today: The Sweathogs leave the air

Welcome Back Kotter

I fondly remember watching reruns of Welcome Back Kotter during the summer when I was off school. I loved imitating Horshack’s “Oo-Oo-Oo” because I was knew I wasn’t cool enough to pull off Barbarino. Sadly, Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs left the air after only four seasons, with the final episode, “The Breadwinners,” airing June 8, 1979.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (“Boom Boom” Washington) and John Travolta (Vinnie Barbarino) are still active actors, while Gabe Kaplan (Mr. Kotter) became an accomplished professional poker player.

Two of the actors that portrayed Sweathogs are no longer with us. Both Robert Hegyes (Juan Epstein) and Ron Palillo (Arnold Horshack) passed away in 2012. Marcia Strassman, who played Mr. Kotter’s wife Julie, also passed in 2014.

The theme song, “Welcome Back,” was written and recorded by Lovin’ Spoonful frontman John Sebastian. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1976.

25 Years Ago Today: STP releases a #1 album

Stone Temple PilotsAfter the success of Core in 1992, grunge rockers Stone Temple Pilots upped their game in 1994 with Purple, released on June 7, hitting #1 just 18 days later. The English word of the title is nowhere found on the US version of the album; only the Chinese character 紫 appears on the cover with a picture of a child riding a qilin.

Several singles received airplay on alternative and modern rock radio stations and fared well on corresponding Billboard charts. “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song” both hit #1 on the Album Rock Tracks chart and #2 on the Modern Rock Tracks chart; “Big Empty” hit #3 and #7 on those same charts, while “Unglued” went to #8 and #16.

The album was released just a few days after I graduated high school and I remember listening to it with a friend who had received it as a graduation present. It didn’t have quite the impact on me that Core had, but I still enjoyed Dean DeLeo’s guitar playing and Scott Weiland’s voice.

The band is preparing an “Expanded Deluxe” double-disc release to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Purple. It will be released in September; you can pre-order it here. Of course, if you can’t wait, pick up the standard release here. One of the new tracks will be a previously unreleased acoustic rendition of “Big Empty” and the group uploaded the audio yesterday to YouTube. Listen to it below:

30 Years Ago Today: SRV gets “In Step”

SRV In StepStevie Ray Vaughan’s status as a legendary blues rocker was already established when In Step hit stores in 1989. Sadly, it would be his last album with Double Trouble before his untimely death in August, 1990.

The record produced four singles: “Crossfire,” which hit #1 on the US Rock chart, “The House is Rockin’,” “Wall of Denial,” and “Tightrope.” The album itself peaked at #33 on the Billboard 200 and Vaughan won the 1990 Grammy for Best Contemporary Blues Album.

The influence of Stevie Ray Vaughan lives on in the music of blues rock artists such as Jonny Lang, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Joe Bonamassa. SRV keyboardist Reese Wynans released an album called Sweet Release in March of this year, featuring two covers from In Step: “Crossfire” with Shepherd on guitar, and “Riviera Paradise” with Shepherd and Bonamassa.

35 Years Ago Today: The Boss releases “Born in the USA”

Bruce Springsteen Born in the USABruce Springsteen is a force to be reckoned with.

I have to be honest, I didn’t realize how many great (and popular) albums the Boss had released until looking back at his career for this blog entry. Born in the USA, released on this date in 1984, was his fifth of eight straight albums to reach the top ten on the Billboard 200 chart. It was his second of nine #1 albums. It remains one of the best-selling albums in history, certified 15x Platinum in the US. The title track is a sing-along pop anthem that will never go away.

Of the twelve songs on the album, seven made it to the top 10 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. At the time, only Michael Jackson’s Thriller record could make the same claim; since then, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation 1814 and Drake’s Scorpion have joined that list.

Bruce Springsteen singles

The first single, “Dancing in the Dark,” is also notable for featuring a pre-Friends, not-yet-famous Courteney Cox in the video.

30 Years Ago Today: Dead Poets Society arrives in theaters

Dead Poets Society Robin Williams Carpe DiemCarpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”

I am certain I did not see Dead Poets Society when it first arrived in theaters in 1989; I probably didn’t see it until more than two years later when I could drive to Blockbuster and rent it on VHS. Maybe I saw an “edited for television” version at some point before then. One thing I can tell you: when I did see Dead Poets Society, the movie had a major impact on me.

I have always been in love with writing. I often put it off and procrastinate and beat myself up for my lack of skills, but I cannot resist the pull of putting words to the page. The words of John Keating, portrayed by the legendary Robin Williams, inspired me as a teenager. I wanted to seize the day. I needed to make my life extraordinary.

Somewhere along the line, though, “real life” got in the way. I gave up on dreams until I stopped dreaming. I walked away from opportunities because of fear of failure and lack of self-confidence. I discouraged myself, despite the encouragement of others all around me.

Now, three decades later, I want to seize the day; I still feel the need to make my life extraordinary. And I still have no idea how to do that.

30 Years Ago Today: Indiana Jones chooses wisely

Indiana Jones and the Last CrusadeHave the adventure of your life keeping up with the Joneses.

Indiana Jones is at it again, this time with dad in tow in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Harrison Ford appeared again as the main character, while Sean Connery joined the cast as Professor Henry Jones and River Phoenix played a teenage Indy in the third film in the series.

The movie was recognized with an Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing, beating Black Rain and Lethal Weapon 2. It was the third Oscar for Ben Burtt, who took home an Oscar in 1981 for Raiders of the Lost Ark and in 1982 for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.

Last Crusade is set largely in 1938, placing it after the events of Temple of Doom (1935) and Raiders of the Lost Ark (1936). The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was set in 1957. With over 767,000 users voting, Last Crusade has a 94% score on Rotten Tomatoes.

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