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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Announces 2018 Induction Class

Written by Jon Williams

Early yesterday morning, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame announced the bands and musicians to be inducted into its hallowed halls this coming year. It must have been a tight race: among the acts that didn’t make it this year are Radiohead (in their first year of eligibility), Eurythmics, Depeche Mode, and LL Cool J. Those that did make it in, on the other hand, are as follows:

Bon Jovi won a fan poll on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s website, which garnered them an extra vote toward induction. They’re the “newest” band in this year’s class, with their self-titled debut album releasing in 1984. They hit it big in the heyday of hair metal with 1986’s Slippery When Wet, with hits like “You Give Love a Bad Name” and “Livin’ on a Prayer” propelling the album to 12x Platinum status. They’ve been going strong ever since, adjusting their rock sound over the years and releasing a total of thirteen studio albums to date, with the most recent being last year’s This House Is Not for Sale. Speculation has already begun that original members Richie Sambora and Alec John Such will reunite with the rest of the band for the induction performance.

Dire Straits got their start a bit earlier, but, like Bon Jovi, enjoyed their greatest success in the 1980s. Formed by brothers Mark and David Knopfler in 1977 with a pair of friends, the band released Dire Straits (containing their knockout first single “Sultans of Swing”) and Communique before the decade was out. The 1985 album Brothers in Arms, on the strength of “Money for Nothing” and its ultra-popular music video, became the first million-seller in the compact disc format, and also won two Grammy Awards. They released just one album after that, 1991’s On Every Street, although principal member Mark Knopfler has enjoyed a very successful solo career since then.

The Cars’ induction brings them full circle—singer Ric Ocasik and bassist Benjamin Orr originally met in Cleveland in the 1960s. The Cars came together in 1976, and they took off with their 1978 debut album, which included the hits “Good Times Roll,” “My Best Friend’s Girl,” and “Just What I Needed.” They released six albums before the band’s breakup in 1988. Founding member Orr passed away in 2000, but the remaining members reunited for the 2011 album Move Like This (currently unavailable on CD, but available digitally on hoopla). Like Knopfler and Dire Straits, Ric Ocasik has also had success as a solo artist.

The Moody Blues have their origins more than a decade before, coming together in 1964. After one album as an R&B outfit of sorts, they hit their stride with the landmark prog rock album Days of Future Passed (containing their biggest hit, “Nights in White Satin”) in 1967. Although they’ve been through a number of lineup changes, they’ve been quite prolific, with sixteen albums to their credit. The last was 2003’s Christmas-themed December, perfect for this time of year, but the band has continued to tour, and to release compilation and live albums.

Nina Simone sadly passed away in 2003, but will play a large role in the 2018 induction nonetheless. Born Eunice Kathleen Waymon, she adopted her stage name as a small-time singer in 1954. She became a full-fledged member of the civil rights movement with her 1964 live album Nina Simone in Concert (available on hoopla) and incorporated that message into her music going forward. She put out an incredible number of albums, both studio and live, and has influenced a generation of musicians, from the Beatles and David Bowie to Aretha Franklin and Lena Horne to Elton John and more. Whoever performs in her stead at the induction ceremony, it’s sure to be an incredible show.

As these stellar musicians are enshrined into the pantheon of rock legends, patrons are sure to crave their music, whether to relive classic sounds they’ve loved for years or to dig into these incredible discographies for the first time. Be sure to check out this collection of essential albums we’ve put together, and SmartBrowse each of them on our website to find even more.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Excitement High for The Last Jedi

Written by Jon Williams

Next week sees the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi in theatres, the saga’s Episode VIII, and the middle installment in the sequel trilogy that began with 2016’s The Force Awakens. Excitement is at a fever pitch for the new movie, and library patrons will be looking for all kinds of materials relating to a galaxy far, far away.

Following on from The Force Awakens, The Last Jedi returns stars Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, and Oscar Isaac as heroes Rey, Finn, and Poe, as well as Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker and the late Carrie Fisher in her final appearance as Leia Organa. The opposition comes in the form of the First Order’s Supreme Leader Snoke (Andy Serkis), General Hux (Domhnall Gleeson), and Kylo Ren (Adam Driver). They’re joined in the cast by newcomers Laura Dern, who plays Resistance Admiral Amilyn Holdo, and Benicio del Toro, in the mysterious role of DJ. The Last Jedi is written and directed by Rian Johnson, who has previously made such acclaimed films as Brick and Looper. It’s clear that Lucasfilm thinks the world of Johnson’s effort; they’ve already announced that he’ll be helming a new Star Wars trilogy set in a heretofore unexplored time period and area of the galaxy.

On the day the new movie is released, the score drops as well, featuring the typically outstanding work of Academy Award-winning film music icon John Williams. Fans will have to wait a bit longer for Jason Fry’s novelization, which releases in March. For those who need something sooner than that, Canto Bight, released earlier this week, tells several tales from the opulent, high-stakes casino city to be introduced in The Last Jedi, while Delilah S. Dawson’s Phasma explores the backstory of Gwendoline Christie’s chrome-armored villain.

The third and concluding installment in the current trilogy won’t come until 2019, but that doesn’t mean there’s no more Star Wars on the more immediate horizon. Coming on the heels of last year’s Rogue One, the second standalone film is scheduled for release on May 25, 2018. That movie will be Solo, the origin story of everyone’s favourite smuggler, scoundrel, and nerf-herder, Han Solo. The title character will be played by Alden Ehrenreich, while the multitalented Donald Glover will portray his good buddy Lando Calrissian; such names as Woody Harrelson, Emilia Clarke, and Thandie Newton will round out the cast. That movie is directed by acclaimed filmmaker Ron Howard based on a script by Lawrence Kasdan (writer of The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, as well as The Force Awakens) and his son Jon, while the music will be provided by John Powell.

Star Wars is arguably the most popular movie franchise of all time, and patrons will always be looking for the latest and greatest related titles. You can SmartBrowse on our website for all this media and more to lead into The Last Jedi and Solo. And if your library is a hoopla member, patrons can log in anytime to check out movie scores as well as original eBooks and comics for enjoyment at home or on the go.