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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Crüe Calling It Quits (Eventually)

Written by Jon Williams

In a press conference held yesterday in Hollywood, rock icons Mötley Crüe announced their impending retirement as a band. The foursome, citing a desire to go out while still on top of their game and not carry on with anything other than their original lineup, signed a legally binding “cessation of touring” agreement that will dissolve the band at the end of 2015.

Fear not, though, Crüe fans, as the boys are planning to send themselves out with a bang, announcing a few things fans can look forward to between now and then. One is a film adaptation of their collaborative 2001 book The Dirt, detailing the music and debauchery that have highlighted their career, to be helmed by Jeff Tremaine, who directed Bad Grandpa and the rest of the Jackass films. There will also be a Mötley Crüe tribute album, in which a number of big-name stars will cover the band’s hits in a country music style. Florida Georgia Line has been confirmed as one of the groups taking part, with names like LeAnn Rimes and The Voice winner Cassadee Pope also being mentioned. That album is slated for a summer release; keep an eye out for details as they become available. When asked about the possibility of a new original Crüe album, bassist Nikki Sixx replied, “We’ll just have to see.”

The biggest news from the event, however, was the announcement that the band will take to the road one final time, for the “All Bad Things Must Come to an End” world tour. The first 72 dates, making up the North American leg and running through November of this year, have already been set, kicking off July 2 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Crüe will be supported on their tour by Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Alice Cooper, who pioneered the type of theatrical “shock” rock that allowed Mötley Crüe to thrive.

When the band finally walks off the stage for the final time, it will close a 30+year chapter that began with their formation in Los Angeles in 1981. They self-produced and released their debut album, Too Fast for Love, in November of that year. Their outrageous style and antics brought them a great deal of attention, and soon they were staples on the fledgling MTV network. They helped usher in the popularity of hair metal in the ‘80s with a string of hit singles and albums: Shout at the Devil (1983), Theatre of Pain (1985), Girls, Girls, Girls (1987), and Dr. Feelgood (1989).

Shortly thereafter, as hair metal’s star fell and grunge rose to popularity in its place, Mötley Crüe went through a period of turmoil, with singer Vince Neil and drummer Tommy Lee both leaving the band for periods of time. They actually recorded one album, 1999’s self-titled Mötley Crüe, with John Corabi on lead vocals, and one, 2000’s New Tattoo, with Randy Castillo on drums. The entire original lineup reunited for 2008’s Saints of Los Angeles, and has been together ever since.

Mötley Crüe’s upcoming tour and retirement are sure to bring interest in their extensive catalog, as well as that of Alice Cooper and other rock and metal acts as well. Fill in the gaps in your collection by using the SmartBrowse feature on our homepage.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Late Night’s Changing Landscape

Written by Jon Williams

Fans of late-night television talk shows are in for some changes. Jay Leno’s final night as host of NBC’s Tonight Show will be on Thursday, February 6.

Leno began hosting the show on May 25, 1992. He took over following the retirement of legendary host Johnny Carson, who had been the face of the show since 1962. At the time, Late Night host David Letterman was hoping to move into Carson’s slot instead of Leno; the HBO movie The Late Shift depicts the events that put Leno behind the desk. Letterman then famously cut ties with NBC, moving to CBS for The Late Show, where he’s still going strong.

Leno’s tenure as host was put on hold briefly when he was replaced by Conan O’Brien in 2009. That change lasted less than a year, and Leno came back to The Tonight Show early in 2010. O’Brien, who hosted Late Night from 1993 until taking over The Tonight Show, took a short break from hosting to go on a very well-received comedy tour before returning to TV to host Conan on TBS late in 2010.

Leno’s first guest when he took over The Tonight Show in 1992 was actor and comedian Billy Crystal. In a nod to the show’s roots, Crystal will also be Leno’s final guest on February 6. That final show will also feature a musical performance from country legend Garth Brooks.

Leno’s successor this time around is, once again, the current host of Late Night: Jimmy Fallon. Fallon’s star began to rise as a cast member of Saturday Night Live from 1999-2004, where he served as co-anchor (with Tina Fey) of the Weekend Update segment, along with bringing a number of characters to life. After leaving the show, he appeared in a number of movies, most notably Fever Pitch with Drew Barrymore, before taking over Late Night.

Fallon’s first show as host of The Tonight Show will be on Monday, February 17. It will air at midnight for the first week due to NBC’s coverage of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, reverting afterwards to its customary 11:35 time slot. His first show will feature Will Smith and U2 as guests. Following Fallon as host of Late Night will be fellow SNL alum Seth Meyers, who will begin on February 24, after the Olympics are over.

For more from any of these talented comedians and performers, SmartBrowse their names on our website.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Tupac’s Songs Coming to Broadway

Written by Kyle Slagley

I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that most serious fans of today’s rap and hip-hop music can rattle off a few details about the life, career, and murder of the late Tupac Shakur. It’s also probably safe to say that most of today’s rap and hip-hop artists will acknowledge Tupac’s influence over the entire genre in a very short amount of time.

Tupac’s fame was short-lived, but his influence enormous. He began to gain notoriety around 1991 while performing with the group Digital Underground.  That same year, he released his first solo album, 2Pacalypse Now. In the next five years, he would produce four more solo albums and act in seven films. On September 7, 1996, at the age of 25, Tupac was shot in Las Vegas by rival gang members on his way from the MGM Grand to Club 662 (now known as the restaurant/club Seven). He died on September 13.

Six additional solo albums and three of his seven films were released after Tupac died. The big news earlier this week was that the Broadway musical made from his music has announced it will premiere sometime later this year. The show, titled Holler if Ya Hear Me, is reportedly set in the present day in a fictional Midwestern industrial city and tells the story of two childhood friends as they grow up on the inner-city streets.

Holler if Ya Hear Me is not the first full-length Broadway production to be made from the music of a single artist.  In recent years the show Jersey Boys, featuring the music of Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons, has seen huge success. A few years ago, Mamma Mia, featuring the music of ABBA, was extremely popular, and Movin’ Out was drawn from the songs of Billy Joel. Today, the most popular show made from repurposed pop songs is probably Rock of Ages featuring some of the top songs from ‘80s rock bands.

According to, Holler if Ya Hear Me will run at the Palace Theatre and officially open on June 19 after three weeks of preview performances. It replaces the 2012 revival of Annie.

For a complete list of albums and films by and featuring Tupac, SmartBrowse ‘Tupac Shakur’ on our website.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Jack’s Back

Written by Jon Williams

On January 17, the movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit will hit theatres across North America. It features the title character as a young U.S. intelligence officer for the CIA as he uncovers a terrorist plot and must investigate to find evidence to support his claims. The film features such notable names as Kevin Costner as Ryan’s CIA role model, Keira Knightley as Ryan’s wife, and Kenneth Branagh (who also directs the film) as the villain.

Actor Chris Pine has already taken the reins of one iconic role, taking over for William Shatner as Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise in the 2009 Star Trek reboot, as well as its 2013 sequel. Now he does it again, becoming the fourth actor to bring Jack Ryan to the big screen. With this being a story of Ryan’s early days as an operative, a younger actor was needed, and Pine eagerly stepped into the shoes of the actors who came before him.

The first actor to bring Jack Ryan to life, of course, was Alec Baldwin in 1990’s The Hunt for Red October, in which he helps the captain of a Soviet nuclear submarine to defect to the United States with his ship. At that point, Baldwin was known primarily for his role as a confused, recently deceased ghost in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice. He has since gone on to have quite a distinguished acting career, appearing recently in the Woody Allen film Blue Jasmine, and starring for seven seasons as Tina Fey’s blowhard boss in 30 Rock.

Baldwin played Ryan in just that film. For 1992’s Patriot Games, the role went to Harrison Ford, which continued with the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger. Ford will always and forever be best known as Han Solo in the original Star Wars trilogy, a role he is rumoured to be reprising, as well as Indiana Jones, but he has had a long and varied career that includes American Graffiti, Apocalypse Now, Blade Runner, The Fugitive, and, more recently, the Jackie Robinson biopic 42 (just to name a very few).

After 1994, the character was put on the shelf for a few years. Then in 2002 came a movie exploring some of Jack Ryan’s younger days: The Sum of All Fears, featuring Ben Affleck in the title role. After starring in the cult hit Dazed and Confused and the Kevin Smith comedies Mallrats and Chasing Amy, Affleck jumped into the spotlight with 1997’s Good Will Hunting. He has since become one of the biggest movie stars in the world, poised to take over the role of Batman, as well as an acclaimed director.

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is the first film in the series since 2002. It departs from its predecessors in that it’s the first of the films not to be based directly on a novel. The character was created by late author Tom Clancy (who passed away in October of last year) in the 1984 novel The Hunt for Red October, which was adapted for the 1990 film. Ryan went on to feature in a number of Clancy’s novels, climbing through the ranks of the CIA and eventually becoming President of the United States, with his son, Jack Ryan, Jr. taking his father’s place as an operative.

With the new film’s release just days away, make sure you have the Clancy audiobooks and previous films on your shelves for patrons who will want to catch up on Ryan’s exciting exploits.