Paul McCartney’s Egypt Station: a review

The number one record in the United States this week was from a 76-year old man. This would be a shock in our otherwise-youth-oriented culture until we learn the man is Paul McCartney and his album is Egypt Station. It is his first #1 album in 36 years.

eight_col_McCThe album has grown on me in its two weeks since release. The first taster, “I Don’t Know” disappointed me the first few times it aired, despite its genuinely lovely piano intro. Paul’s voice sounds flinty and … old. The mix (and the too-loud and simplistic drumming), that was made more for a youthful audience, only enhanced the weakening vocals of this musical legend.

The second song released for listenership, “Fuh You” that Paul describes as “a raunchy love song”, certainly got a lot of free publicity due to its title. But the style and mix seems meant for someone born when Usher was making hits, not Glenn Miller.

And the controversy had any Beatle-fan rolling their eyes. It’s been done (google “King of Fuh”).

The album is produced by Greg Kurstin, who also produced Adele and Beck. This explains the album’s penchant for modern-style recording techniques (murky overdubs and autotuning); my first reaction was Paul was emulating the current sounds and artists he enjoys – Kanye West, Katy Perry, etc.  I found this to be a mismatch … at first.

It reminded me of a critique of 1979’s Back to the Egg with Chris Thomas as producer, who did albums for Roxy Music and the Pretenders – cutting edge hipness at that time especially for a former Beatle.  The criticism went something like “a state-of-the-art hypodermic needle does not necessarily improve the medicine being taken…”.  I felt the same here.

BUT, multiple listening (and they play Paul’s new songs on Sirius every hour) has revealed the album’s charms.

In fact, it is safe to say this is his best album of this century. I would have to go back to 1989’s Flowers in the Dirt for a comparably solid, all-around-well-done album.  Ignore comparisons to 2007’s Flaming Pie – one of his best of course; but to be fair, Paul plucked 35 years of unused material to pepper the selections on that album.  Also ignore comparisons to 2008’s Electric Arguments. That album was a force of nature and belongs on any list of Paul McCartney’s All-Time Top One Albums.

With someone of Paul McCartney’s industrial stature, comparisons to his legendary catalogue is inevitable and, ultimately, disappointing. “It’s not as good as Band on the Run!” Well, what is?

How is Egypt Station standing alone on its merits?

Pretty good. Very good. In fact, the two tasters above are the weakest links of the album.

“Dominoes”, “Back in Brazil”, “Caesar Rock” are all fun and (more importantly) memorable songs. “People Want Peace” harkens back to the Beatles’ ultimate message of peace and love. The title comes from another of Paul’s father’s wise sayings. Paul should dip into his dad’s insights more often – “Put It There” from Flowers in the Dirt is another Jim-ism and one of Paul’s best songs.

“Come on to Me” is an average rocker with a superb middle music break that redeems the song. Otherwise it seems like a Wings B-side (see? I told you comparisons to his legacy are unavoidable).

“Happy With You” is gentle and sweet – one of the best on the album.

“Hunt You Down” is the final song on the album and a rocker worthy of being on Electric Arguments. There can be no greater compliment for a Paul McCartney song.

The modern-influenced production will attract the young ‘uns and there is enough “Paul-ness” to keep we geezer-fans happy. As its position in the charts shows, it will gain more than a “generally favorable” response as did his prior albums New and Memory Almost Full. Good albums, yes, but when was the last time those were on your playlist?

Egypt Station will likely stay there for a while. You go, grandpa…

 

Copyright 2018 Michael G Curry

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John Lennon on US commemorative stamp

by STEPHEN R. GROVES

https://apnews.com/568c687641f147deaff0d9f1c18bfb9e

Sep. 07, 2018

NEW YORK (AP) — John Lennon’s iconic round glasses and shaggy 1970s mane will now adorn a U.S. stamp.

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Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, and their son, Sean Lennon, were in New York City’s Central Park Friday to celebrate the U.S. Postal Service’s release of a stamp honoring the late Beatle. Hundreds of Beatles fans gathered for the event.

“I know that my father would have been really thrilled to be accepted, officially in this way, on a stamp,” said Sean Lennon. “About as official as it gets, I think.”

The commemorative stamp features a photo of Lennon taken in 1974 on the roof of his Manhattan apartment building by photographer Bob Gruen, who also spoke at the event. The stamp is designed to look like a 45-rpm record sleeve.

“Everybody loves to listen to John’s songs and I’m very proud of it, but also the fact that this day, Imagine and you guys are here. It’s incredible,” Yoko Ono said.

She also joked about the blame she gets for breaking up the Beatles.

“If John just went with me and then he began, ‘La La La, Da Da Da’ or something like that, people say, ’Well, that’s Yoko’s fault,’” she said. “Well, it’s always my fault.”

The crowd received her warmly though, giving her a standing ovation.

“I always knew how much he loved her,” said Donna Gallucci who came from Pennsylvania for the event. “A lot of people didn’t understand that.”

After the event, people lined up to buy the stamps and enjoy one more day of Beatlemania in New York City.

Gallucci said, “He was so much a part of the city, so much a part of the park.”

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I got mine!

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Thanks for allowing me to share the story!

About the blogger:

Michael Curry is a life-long Beatles fan and has written the short story “The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles”, available here on Amazon Kindle.

Isis #5. July 1977.

“Perilous Pyramid Power”

Cover Artists: Mike Vosburg & Vince Colletta

Writer: Jack C Harris; Penciler: Mike Vosburg

Inker: Vince Colletta; Editor: Dennis O’Neil; Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

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From DC Wikia: During a class field trip to the observatory, the astronomer spots a UFO in Earth orbit. Andrea slips into another room and becomes the Mighty Isis. When she reaches the alien spacecraft, she finds that the air is too thin, so she cannot utter a spell to stop it. She is stunned by a force beam and plummets back to Earth. She lands near the highway and, unconscious, changes back into Andrea.

As Rick starts to look for her, Andrea awakens and begins to doubt why she has to put up with the pressures of being, “The World’s Only Human Goddess”. Andrea comes back to her apartment where Rick is waiting for her. When he demands an explanation, she says that where she goes is none of his business. Rick then has to tell her she’s been laid off by the school board. After throwing Rick out of the apartment, Andrea decides that this is the last straw and says, “Oh Mighty Isis — FOREVER!”

The next day, Isis shows up at the high school to take Andrea’s place. She is appalled when the students ask her about the secrets of nature and she walks out.

Meanwhile up in orbit, the alien observes Isis as she flies back to Egypt. Isis brings forth her sacred dwelling from its hiding place, near the Great Pyramid at Giza. The alien, having landed nearby, declares that he is Aten, the Sun God of the Egyptian heretic, Akenaten. He tells Isis how thousands of years ago he was forced to land his damaged spacecraft in Egypt. He came to be worshipped by Akenaten and his Queen, Nefertiti. He taught them Astronomy and other sciences. The Egyptians taught him the powers of the Gods and their pyramids. When Akenaten died, Aten knew the people would soon revolt, so he buried a signal device to warn him if the Gods of Egypt returned and left for his home planet. The planet’s high council then banished Aten for interfering with Earth’s development. Now, to gain revenge on the council, he returns to use the power of the Great Pyramid; the same one that Isis receives her powers.

Isis tells Aten that she would destroy the pyramid before letting him use it, so Aten attacks Isis with a power bolt. She replies with a power bolt of her own, but Aten absorbs it and hurls it back at her. True to her word, Isis then destroys the source of her power, the Great Pyramid. Aten marvels at the Goddess who gave up her powers to stop his plans for revenge and leaves the Earth. Isis smiles a knowing smile, then uses Andrea’s knowledge of geometry to magically reshape the pyramid.

Back in the United States, Rick and Cindy discuss Andrea’s disappearance and Rick decides to go look for her. However, Andrea Thomas no longer exists. The Mighty Isis has returned — forever.

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The letter column promises us a new direction: is Andrea really gone forever?

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A great story – we see that Isis and Andrea really are two separate individuals who share the same space! At times in this comic it seems they disagree on issues – they might not even like each other!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

Shazam #29. June, 1977

“Ibac Meets Aunt Minerva”

Cover Artist: Kurt Shaffenberger

Writer: E. Nelson Bridwell, Penciler: Kurt Schaffenberger

Inker: Vince Colletta; Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

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Sivana kidnaps Stanley Printwhistle to convince him to help defeat Captain Marvel. Prince Lucifer appears (the one who gave Printwhistle his powers) and vows to make him stronger. Stanley says his magic word: “Ibac” (Ivan the Terrible, Borgia, Attila, Caligula) and turns into Ibac the Cursed! Sivana also brings in arch-criminal Aunt Minerva and instructs her and Ibac to distract Captain Marvel while he is busy blowing up Niagara Falls.

But Cap is busy doing charity work! So, when Ibac starts crushing cars and destroying lampposts, it is up to Uncle (Dudley) Marvel to stop him! Ibac runs from Uncle Marvel – well, it was actually from Minerva who rounded a corner and also gave chase…

… all the way to Niagara Falls! Ibac hides from Minerva in a barrel – which Sivana was to used for his bomb. Ibac begs Dudley for help and they both seek advice from Solomon.

Captain Marvel finds Dudley and Ibac. Thinking Dudley needs rescuing, he fights Ibac. Minerva finds them all, and Ibac reverts back to Printwhistle to stop Minerva’s advances (she’s not THAT desperate for a husband!). Cap catches Minerva and Sivana (who vows to escape and battle Marvel in Pittsburgh) and Printwhistle vows never to turn into Ibac again – to avoid Minerva’s romantic advances!

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So far so good – the letters are positive for Cap’s new direction! The return of great Captain Marvel villains continues: This is Aunt Minerva’s first Bronze Age appearance (Shazam #12 was a reprint) and Ibac’s fourth!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

 

 

Kobra #5, December 1976

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“The Eye of the Serpent”

Cover Artists: Rich Buckler & Frank McLaughlin

Writer: Martin Pasko

Penciler: Rich Buckler, Inker: Frank McLaughlin

Colorist: Carl Gafford, Letterer: Ben Oda

Story Editor: Paul Levitz, Managing Editor: Joe Orlando

I contributed this description to DC Wikia:

Kobra lands his ark in San Francisco. His surveillance overhears Jason Burr and Randu Singh back in New York discussing Melissa’s disappearance.

We then meet Jonny Double, a private eye from DC’s past who questions his current assignment – helping a secretary accused of murdering her lover/boss. His suspicions are aroused when police records confirm the murder, but there is no evidence of the existence of the boss … that and Double spots his client leaving a motel with her supposed victim.  Before he can trail them in his borrowed cab, he is flagged down by a fare. The customer leaves his valise; Double deduces it contains explosives – this WAS a set-up! Double escapes the destruction of his taxi. He finds remains of the case containing the bomb – marked with a strange cobra symbol…

Double returns to the office building at which he dropped off his murderous fare and is attacked by three hoods. Dispatching them, Double takes an elevator to a computer control room, where he gathers as much information as he can about the murder of Ricardo Perez and something called Operation: Chrysopylae … Through his contacts, Double learns of Perez, Horst Buchner and … Jason Burr. He calls Jason …

Double complains about the heavy traffic on the Golden Gate Bridge due to construction while on his way to testify to a trial. One of the construction workers has a cobra symbol on his hand-held radio.

Double hopes to meet Mack, his CIA contact, at a Chinatown theater, but finds Mack murdered. The killer fires on Double Meanwhile, Jason Burr cannot find a flight to Frisco. The booking agent helps find a flight on a smaller airline. She reaches for her walkie-talkie … which has a cobra symbol on it.

The gunman who killed Mack runs for it and Jonny Double gives chase. He also takes out two more Kobra hitmen before escaping onto a cable car. Kobra confronts Double directly and disengages the cable car, causing it to plummet downhill.

After several hours of delay, Jason finally boards his flight to San Francisco. The pilot’s hand-held radio is marked with a cobra-symbol.

Jonny Double jumps from the cable car just before it crashes, knocking him unconscious on the street; his limp form rises slowly in Kobra’s anti-gravity beam.

The engines of Jason Burr’s plane catch fire; it plummets into the Oregon wilderness.

Double awakes to find himself strapped to the Golden Gate Bridge. Kobra reveals his plan – he will destroy San Francisco with an earthquake! To use his words: “… an earthquake created by one of my devices … which is implanted in the beam to which you are tied. The mechanism is constructed of a material that disintegrates when it vibrates. The earthquake’s shock-waves will destroy the machine and no evidence of its ever having existed will survive! The device extends down through the support beams – into the bay – forming a needle which penetrates the earth’s crust! The needle will cause the San Andreas fault to shift! … The action of sunlight on the solar panel triggers the mechanism. At dawn – approximately 20 minutes from now – the bridge will be the first casualty. And you, Mr. Double, will be …. the second!”

Mwah-Ha-ha-ha-ha!!!!!

To be continued!

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The letter page mentions a new approach and welcomes Rich Buckler as the new penciller. The magazine was saved by an “avalanche” of positive mail!

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Jonny Double previously appeared in Showcase #78, Challengers of the Unknown #74 and Wonder Woman #199-203.

Note the cover date – December? Three months since issue #4. Was it scheduled for cancellation but given a reprieve with a new direction and new art team? The opening splash says “The story originally scheduled for this magazine will not appear.” Hyperbole? Did the story exist and crumbled to dust in someone’s file cabinet telling us of the “Panic on Pennsylvania Avenue” (as hyped on the final panel of issue #4)?

Regardless, the quality of this comic’s plot increased 1000%. DC hyped this issue and the next – these last three issues (and the “conclusion” in DC Special Series #1) were some of the best pulp-inspired comics ever published. Seriously. I love them, I f’ing love them!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Super-Team Family #2: January 1976

Behold, the Bronze Age!

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Creeper and Wildcat: “Showdown in San Lorenzo!”

Writer: Denny O’Neil, Artists: Ric Estrada & Bill Draut, Editor: Gerry Conway

Wildcat agrees to fight contender Japhy Shim for charity but also to drum up publicity for Shim and the resort paradise San Lorenzo. Jack Ryder of WHAM is there doing the play-by-play.

A gas grenade interrupts Wildcat’s interview. In the chaos, thugs grab Shim and Jack Ryder changes into the Creeper! Creeper’s old enemy Proteus is standing in the ring and Creeper attacks!

Creeper eventually realizes he is fighting Wildcat and not Proteus; deducing that Proteus used hypnotic gas to fool Creeper to get him and Wildcat out of the way. Creeper and Wildcat decide to rescue Shim together.

Their hunt leads them to San Lorenzo. General Pedro Lobo (who lost the recent national elections), demands to be put back into power or Shim will not fight the champion! The financial loss to San Lorenzo will bankrupt it! The readers discover Lobo is really Proteus using his power of disguise.

Wildcat agrees to take Shim’s place during the big fight.

Jack Ryder/Creeper spots one of the thug from the charity match and follows him. He discovers Proteus intends to off Shim by dropping him to the ring from the ceiling of the arena!

Creeper captures Proteus and his thugs, but not before Proteus hurls Shim from the rafters to the boxing ring. Wildcat, knocked flat by the champ, sees Shim and breaks his fall. Through the thugs’ confession, Creeper confronts the President of San Lorenzo – who orchestrated the entire kidnapping plan to consolidate his power and ensure his reelection!

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The text feature gives brief origins for Wildcat and Creeper.

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“Track of the Hook” (Batman and Deadman) from Brave and Bold #79 (September 1968)

Even in 1976 the Deadman saga from Strange Adventure was considered a comic book classic. Part of the saga was told in the pages of Brave & Bold. In fact, the two Batman/Deadman tales (of which this was the first) book-ended B&B’s greatest run: #s 79-86. Unabashed plug: for more check out my free ebook, Brave & Bold: from Silent Knight to Dark Knight).

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Green Arrow: “Mystery of the Vanishing Arrows” from Adventure Comics #266 (November 1959).

Superman appears to help solve the mystery.

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The Batman/Deadman story was not an odd choice to reprint in this issue, but it certainly overshadowed the “new” tale that fronted the magazine. This story got top billing on the cover.

So why “debut” the team-up format with (to be kind) C-grade heroes? Did they think a comic starring Wildcat and the Creeper would fly off the shelves? It even got second billing on the cover!

Why not team more popular heroes that did not have their own magazines – like Green Arrow or (at that time) Green Lantern? GA could have been deftly inserted over Wildcat (whose only appearances in the past twenty years were in the pages of Brave & Bold).

The story and art were good, but not great. The exercise was fun, but forgettable.

For a new team-up book, this is Strike Two (Strike One being the debut issue promising but not delivering no new material)…

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!

Hercules Unbound #7, November 1976

“To Slay a Legend”

Cover: Rich Buckler, Wally Wood & Tatjana Wood, Editor: Joe Orlando

Writer: David Michelinie; Pencilers: Walt Simonson & Wally Wood

Letterer: Milt Snapinn; Colorist: Jerry Serpe

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At the shores of Loch Ness, Hercules and friends are greeted by three beautiful women who invite them for a dinner and a peaceful repast. Naturally, Hercules is suspicious, but relents when the others see nothing wrong here.

Surprise! The parties are drugged into unconsciousness! When they awake, they are bound and Kevin is staked at the shores of the loch. The villain is revealed: Casper Zedd – given magical powers by a Cthulhu-esque insectoid who appeared at Loch Ness days after WWIII began.

Zedd was ordered to capture Kevin and imbue the new and weakened god-thing with Kevin’s more-than-mortal power!

Hercules recognizes the god-thingie as Oceanus the Titan! Hercules … unbinds and attacks Zedd, knocking him out and stopping Oceanus’ recharge.

Per Hercules, only Zeus’ lightning can destroy Oceanus. Our heroes decide to use the nearby hydroelectric dam to generate a large enough charge to destroy Oceanus – who felt the destructive power of WWIII and came to investigate the end of the world, but became too weak in transit.

Oceanus attacks the heroes at the dam, and is joined in battle once again with Hercules. Hercules wields the electrical bolts of “lightning” and knocks Oceanus back to his nether realm.

Zedd’s scepter explodes when Oceanus disappears and his followers leave him. He is now as he was before the war – alone.

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The letter column “Myth Mail” thanks legendary writer David Micheline and legendary artist Walt Simonson for this “fill-in” issue. Gerry Conway, we are told, is gone forever, and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez will be back next issue.

Simonson’s art is also hidden by Wood’s dominating pencils and/or inks, but it still makes for a dazzling combination!

And thank you, David, oh thank you for NOT having Nessie pop up anywhere in the story. Oceanus the Titan was enough of a Loch Ness Monster for all of us!

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About the author: Michael Curry is the author of the Brave & Bold: From Silent Knight to Dark Knight, The Day John F Kennedy Met the Beatles and the award-winning Abby’s Road, the Long and Winding Road to Adoption and How Facebook, Aquaman and Theodore Roosevelt Helped.  Check his website for more releases! Thanks for reading!