Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Glam of Pan Am (and Retro Travel)

Oh, man. I feel badly about the crickets chirping on this blog lately, especially after UMRK Radio gave me a few nice plugs last Sunday, but it shaped up to be another very busy week. I had wanted to get a Halloween related post up this weekend, but instead I want to share a bit of love for ABC's series Pan Am, especially as I'm now hearing the show is in danger of being canned after only a few weeks. 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Retro Hi-Fi Fun: UMRK Web Radio

Friends, for a while now I've been meaning to dedicate some posts on Go Retro to other folks such as you and I who are keeping the retro dream alive, and doing a pretty nice job of it. I'd like to start today by introducing you to my friend Greg's groovy website for UMRK Web Radio. If you miss the bygone days when radio was actually FUN to listen to, when DJs had their own personality, corny jingles, and didn't stick to the same 50 classic rock song rotation, then you need to check out Reverend Greg's show! He streams live on the site every Sunday evening starting at 9 PM EST for approximately 3 hours. Too busy watching Pan Am or reruns of Mad Men? No problem, every show is recorded as a podcast and available for your free listening pleasure on the site at any convenient time. 

Even Pan Am girls listen to UMRK Radio!
Reverend Greg is a rabid Beatles fan like me, so that means each show begins with an hour of the Beatles, including rarities and live tracks, followed by music from the 50s through the 80s. The best part about his radio program is that you're going to encounter some lost songs (like some of the ones I try to feature on Two Forgotten Friday Favorites) that you haven't heard in quite a long time through your typical modern day radio FM station. Did I mention that the program is completely commercial free? When's the last time you experienced THAT on the dial?

Greg is a super cool dude with an impressive history in the radio industry who has met just about anyone who was anybody during the 60s-80s music scene. He was hosting a show on an oldies station in the Philadelphia area when he decided to make it available to the global masses, and UMRK Radio was born in 2001. Still going strong after 10 years!

So if you need a break from Spotify, Pandora and the like and long for the nostalgia of 1960s/1970s radio, definitely give UMRK a visit. It's completely free and listener supported, and like John Lennon sang, guarantee to raise a smile. Have a listen and let me know what you think!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Go Retro's Retro Hottie of the Month: Steve Jobs

Photo: Rolling Stone Magazine
Sometimes it's fun to just be superficial. I know that Steve Jobs is going to be remembered as a visionary, a genius, and an arrogant SOB but let's face it, before he got sick and wore black turtlenecks non-stop the man was pretty darn good to look at, too. He may seem like an ironic choice for Retro Hottie of the Month but the truth is I do love Apple computers. I first learned the fundamentals of graphic design on the tiny screen of a Macintosh II (using Aldus Paint.) I then studied Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator on Macs and loved every minute of it. Earlier than that, my elementary school's library had an Apple computer that my classmates and I would scramble over each other to play with (it had some game on it that was interactive and sort of like Where in the World in Carmen Sandiego?) So while I've bashed our society's addiction to technology on here before, if it weren't for Apple, I may not be blogging or working in my particular area of marketing today. 

Back to being superficial...was this man yum-worthy, or what? Smart AND hot. A rare combo! 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

What You Didn't Know About the Doctor Who Theme

Take a look at this chick. She looks like she should be dancing at the Whiskey-A-Go-Go or chasing after the Beatles down a London street, doesn't she? Her name was Delia Derbyshire, and damned if that doesn't make her sound like a Bond girl. In reality, Derbyshire was the mastermind behind one of the eeriest and most memorable television theme songs of all time: the Doctor Who theme!

In the 60s, Derbyshire worked for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop, which was essentially the sound effects department of the BBC. She was fascinated with music and the mechanics of sound, and had previously tried to get a job at Decca Records only to be told that women weren't allowed in the recording studios (Decca was also the record company that turned down the Beatles; talk about a company that couldn't recognize talent.) Derbyshire didn't actually compose the theme (that was done by a man named Ron Grainer) but she was responsible for setting his notes to music. The story gets even more intriguing when you realize how this was actually accomplished in a period before commercial synthesizers were readily available. It was a complicated process at the time which involved a lot of cutting, splicing, speeding up and slowing down fragments of analogue tape. Honestly, I read about what Derbyshire did on this Wikipedia page and couldn't make heads or tails of it. Let's just say she was extremely clever. When Grainer heard the finished product for the first time his astounded response was, "Did I write that?" to which Derbyshire responded, "Most of it." 

The sad part of the story is that Derbyshire didn't receive official credit for her work. Grainer tried unsuccessfully to have Derbyshire listed as a co-composer and allow her to receive part of the royalties, but the Radiophonic Workshop was considered a secret bureau of the BBC and they wouldn't allow it! 

Every time the show came on PBS while I was a child, the theme gave me the chills. I was not the only one--apparently the BBC received complaints from at least one parent who said their son was terrified of the opening music. And yet, it's also strangely hypnotic. I can't think of a more appropriate, freaky TV theme for a sci-fi show!

Doctor Who debuted on British television in the UK in 1963 and it's still alive and well today which makes it the longest running TV series in Great Britain. Each time the actor playing the doctor was written retired via "regeneration" the show's titles would change and the theme would get a slight makeover as well. Reportedly Derbyshire was mortified that anyone would tinker with her creation; the original theme that ran for the first few years is the only one she approved of. The video below shows how the theme and opening credits have changed throughout the decades and it's interesting to see the variations that kept up with the times and how computer special effects have advanced as well. I was never a big Doctor Who fan, but I prefer the cheesier 70s effects, sets and costumes from my childhood. I think the original black and white opener is also the freakiest and the best. 

Derbyshire was truly a pioneer of electronic music and would go on to have a lucrative career experimenting with music and producing scores for the theater and movie soundtracks (you can look up her work on YouTube) but the Doctor Who theme will always be her most famous piece. She deserves our kudos. Thanks, Delia, for freaking me out as a kid!

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Taking a Break

At least once or twice a week, I receive an email from a kind reader who discovered this blog and wanted to let me know how much they appreciate it. I also get a lot of tips for possible post ideas from my readers and people representing collectors' and other retro pop culture sites. In addition to this, I occasionally hear from PR folks who are seeking bloggers to write about upcoming nostalgic music, TV series, and DVD releases. I'm very grateful for it all and I'm often amazed when I hear from someone or discover that a site with high traffic mentions my blog and links to it.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that Go Retro is becoming another job for me in and of itself--and while I often wish I had an extra day or two during the work week to just stay at home and post to my heart's delight, I simply don't. I have a full-time marketing job and a part-time social media job and I'm now trying to run a social group on the weekends. Needless to say I'm on a computer a LOT. Most days, when I get home, the last thing I want to do is fire up the iMac or laptop. I want to exercise, I want to read, play the guitar, or simply meditate and relax. 

That is why, my friends, I'm taking a short break from Go Retro. No need to panic! I'm not talking about the time Bobby Darin became a hippie and hightailed it to the Big Sur with an Airstream trailer...though that honestly doesn't sound like a bad idea to me right now. I'm just thinking I need a couple of weeks to rejuvenate my creativity and think about some good future posts. Who knows, I may surprise you and get a post out this weekend. Truth be told I just need a vacation from a lot of stuff right now and want to focus on a few other areas of my life; namely, my career. 

Anyways, if this blog goes quiet for a while that's what's up. Didn't want to leave folks high and dry (maybe just high!) Be back real soon!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Messed Up Pin-Ups

I had planned on taking this weekend to finally profess my love for sideburns, but in the middle of conducting research (research = drooling over pictures of John Sebastian) I came across a motherlode of a site for anyone into retro pop culture: The Totally Awesome Teen Pinups and Magazines site. Holy smokes, what a collection over there! Anybody and everybody who was featured as a pin-up from the 60s to the present day can be had for a few dollars. 

Unfortunately, along with the Scott Baios, the Kirk Camerons and Joey Lawrences, there are quite a few people who were maybe not quite as famous or odd/creepy choices who were selected for teen pinups. For example...

Can't say I'm too familiar with this double trouble who "wanta kiss you," but there's a gazillion photos of Andy and David Williams on this site--the twin nephews of Andy Williams, who were teen heartthrobs during the 70s. There's some irony to the headline of the last photo--David is gay and came out in the mid-90s. 

There's something very wrong and creepy about wanting a pinup of Adam Rich --he was just a kid when Eight is Enough aired. It's hard for me to imagine a 13 year-old fantasizing over an eight year-old...even if she were a cougar!

Great. Now we've gone to the other extreme--Alan Alda's a nice guy, but WTF is he doing in a magazine aimed at 13 year-old girls? He's more like somebody's dad!

Gee, by the mid-80s they were really starting to run out of pin-up choices. Yes, even ALF was an intergalactic sexy symbol.

I've never heard of Andre Gower, and I'm too lazy at the moment to Google him, but doesn't he look like the secret love child that we learned Arnold Schwarzenegger was hiding? I bet this was one of the pin-up posters that saw the least amount of locker and bedroom wall action. Poor AMH--so many of us were not pretty teenagers. I can sympathize.

Again, I'm clueless...I've never heard of Bill Beyers, but judging by those hitched-up shorts he appears to be a man who has no fear walking on the edge.

Aww, I love Bill Murray. He actually WAS one of my teenager crushes, and I would have happily appreciated a pin-up of him, but how many girls my age actually saw The Razor's Edge at the time? This should have been a shot of him from Stripes or Ghostbusters.

Well, I could go on and on here, but that would take away the fun. Check out the site--not only do they have a goldmine of pin-ups that you may actually want to own, but they also sell old rock magazines.

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