Listen: C. Eric Banister on Pop Culture Tonight with Patrick Phillips!

C. Eric Banister, author of Johnny Cash FAQ, talks with Patrick Phillips of “Pop Culture Tonight” about Johnny Cash’s musical legacy and Banister’s book.

>>LISTEN HERE<<

00119344Johnny Cash remains one of the most recognizable artists in the world. Starting in 1956, he released an album every year until his death in 2003. In addition to these albums, there were also some posthumous releases in the years after his death. From rockabilly to country, folk to comedy, gospel to classical, the prolific Cash touched them all. His hit singles crossed over from country to pop, as he transcended genres and became a superstar around the globe.

Cash skyrocketed from the beginning, flying through the ’60s until he was one of the country’s biggest stars by the end of the decade. Following his own muse through the ’70s, Cash slowly faded commercially until he nearly disappeared in the ’80s. Instead of giving up, he made an incredible late-career run in the ’90s that took him into the new millennium, along the way collaborating with various contemporary rock and pop artists.

His offstage problems often overshadowed the music, and his addiction often takes center stage in the story, pushing the music off the page. But Johnny Cash FAQ celebrates the musical genius of Cash and takes a look at every album Cash released, the stories behind the hits, and how he sustained a fantastic nearly 50-year career.

 

Dale Sherman: KISS Update

00122479With the upcoming release of Dale Sherman’s latest FAQ book (Coming in March!), Quentin Tarantino FAQ, Dale is celebrating by going back to his previous books in the series to pull up some new details for readers! This week, he has provided additional information on KISS!

In KISS FAQ I cover the making and ramifications of the notorious television movie, KISS Meets the Phantom of the ParkThe chapter of the book certainly held no surprises to readers in the acknowledgement that the movie contains wooden acting, a bizarre musical soundtrack (namely in the televised version; not as much in the later theatrical one), bad special effects, and a clunky script, but one myth that was put to rest was of KISS Meets the Phantom being one of the highest rated television programs of 1978. NBC certainly wished that had been the case, as they pre-empted a showing of their popular cop series, CHiPs for the movie in hopes of gaining a good chunk of young viewers.

It was a gamble that NBC needed, as they were floundering; the network had only two 00333153programs with ratings high enough to place in the top twenty-five programs of the 1978-1979 television season: the family-oriented drama about frontier life, Little House on the Prairie, and the police series CHiPs. Even so, a gamble on using the CHiPs timeslot earlier that October for a two-part showing of Rescue from Gilligan’s Island had earned a 40 share for NBC, making Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park in the same time the last Saturday of October a seemingly good risk.

However, when the ratings came out, KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park was nowhere near the Number One slot. It wasn’t even in the top 25 for the week. It finished at #45, leading to Variety , to proclaim “NBC had its worst Saturday of the year,” with the KISS movie being the reason. Its failure in drawing interest as a television movie was only the starting point of concern for those connected to the film, as it was about to be released as this type of filmic albatross in theaters overseas. But that story and other details about the movie can be found in the pages of KISS FAQ.

Check out the rest here!

Rock-n-Roll.biz Interview with Peter Aaron

In a recent interview, Rock-n-Roll.biz spoke with Peter Aaron about the multi-faceted nature of musician as an artist:

Rock-n-Roll.biz: You also wrote a book about Ramones? I grew up in Forest Hills where Ramones started out and I could tell you I understand the angst and ferociousness of their music to the core. Why did you decide to embark on this project?

I did. Sort of. It’s more of a book about stuff that relates to the Ramones. It’s called If You Like the Ramones… and IYLramonesCoverwas published last year by Backbeat Books as part of the If You Like series. I was in negotiations about doing a book for the series—originally I was going to do If You Like Frank Sinatra…, but Backbeat ran into legal problems with the Sinatra estate and took that project off the table—and the idea of a Ramones book came up, so I jumped on it. In keeping with the IYL concept, the aim is to steer new fans toward the artists and other entities (certain movies, cartoons, comic books, TV shows, etc.) that influenced the Ramones, were influenced by the Ramones, or are connected with the Ramones in some way. Obviously it mostly targets neophytes, but I did try to cover some stuff that even long-time fans might not know about.

Rock-n-Roll.biz: How important is it for a musician to get out of the music world and focus his energies elsewhere? Is it for sanity’s sake or mere detachment?

Very. The music world is like the Island of Misfit Toys. It’s a sanctuary for musician-freaks like me, who was never going to fit into the general population. And yet the music world, especially the underground music scene, is a bubble, an alternate reality that we’ve created to escape the insanity of mainstream society. I don’t at all advocate joining the masses, but I do believe it’s healthy to keep things in perspective by venturing outside your comfort zone and challenging yourself at least once in a while. I can’t help but think of all the interesting music, art, ideas, and people I would have missed had I remained stuck in the same New York rock scene I inhabited in the 1990s—which, from what I can tell, continues to be a largely tail-swallowing environment. Not only does trying new things make you grow as a person, but as a musician it makes what you do richer and more interesting.

Rock-n-Roll.biz: Are there any other arts you are dabbling with? Any more books on the horizon?

FAQ_LOGOwebRight now I’m working another book for Backbeat, The Band FAQ. It’s for their FAQ series, which is more in-depth than the recently discontinued If You Like series. So this one will cover everything connected with the Band and dig more deeply into topics connected with them—the music that influenced the Band and has been influenced by them, but also their history collectively and as individual members; examinations of each of their albums; their time as Ronnie Hawkins’s band, the Hawks; outside figures associated with the group; The Basement Tapes and their years with Bob Dylan; solo albums; their contemporaries and collaborators; their best and worst music; the Toronto and Woodstock scenes they were part of; books; movies; etc., etc. Since I’ve lived in the area that gave birth to Music from Big Pink and The Basement Tapes for over a decade, have covered the local music scene for both the main area newspaper and the arts magazine Chronogram (of which I’ve been the music editor since 2006), and even got to interview Levon Helm, I’m kind of sitting right in the bullseye for this one. I’m also planning an illustrated anthology of the many profiles of Hudson Valley musicians I’ve written over the years, which includes everyone from the Bad Brains to Pete Seeger, Sonny Rollins, Graham Parker, Pauline Oliveros, and others. And of course I’d like to write a memoir, which in addition to my time in the Chrome Cranks and the ’90s Lower East Side scene would cover my participation at the start of the East Coast hardcore scene, my years in the 1980s Boston and Midwest scenes—I was a promoter when I lived in Ohio and booked most of the touring underground bands of the day (Nirvana, Flaming Lips, Pussy Galore, etc.)—and perhaps some of the Hudson Valley stuff.

Check out the rest of the Rock-n-Roll.biz interview with Peter Aaron here: http://rock-n-roll.biz/multifaceted-nature-musician-artist-interview-peter-aaron-chrome-cranks/

A New Generation of FAQs: Lifestyle and Pop Culture

Soccer FAQBeginning in the spring of 2015, Backbeat Books will take the FAQ series beyond performing arts and publish Lifestyle and Pop Culture FAQs. The debut titles will include Tattoo FAQ, Soccer FAQ, UFO FAQ, The Beat Generation FAQ, Pro Wrestling FAQ, Beer FAQ, Dracula FAQ, and Cocktails FAQ.

Since its 2007 launch, the FAQ series from Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group has evolved into a robust, successful line of books. Originally conceived by pop culture historian Robert Rodriguez, the FAQ series offers books

Beat Generationthat are one-stop sources of info, history, and minutiae on a given subject—from a music artist to a film genre to an iconic television show. Packed with a staggering amount of data and rare photographs and period ephemera, these reader-friendly volumes are presented in a lively, engaging style. Each chapter serves as a freestanding article on any aspect of the story, allowing readers to put down and pick up the book with ease.

In the past seven years, Backbeat Books and Applause Books have published more than 30 FAQ titles, earning critical acclaim as well as success in the marketplace. Library Journal called James Bond FAQ, “A complete and appealing volume of information,” going on to say that “Bond aficionados, movie buffs, and trivia junkies will enjoy this title and refer to it often.” Vintage Guitar said of Bruce Springsteen FAQ, “Flip to any page and you’re bound to find something to grab your attention.”

Wrestling FAQ

“The FAQ series has had great success within the subject area of music, film, and TV, appealing to passionate fans who wants to know all that’s left to know about a given subject,” explained Hal Leonard Performing Arts Publishing Group publisher John Cerullo. “It is a natural evolution to take the series into subject areas beyond performing arts with the logical next step being pop culture.”

The fast-paced, entertaining format and depth of coverage that define the series are no longer limited to fans’ favorite bands, films, or television shows. Book lovers can now enjoy the same stimulating reading experience with their favorite hobbies and varied interests.

Keep an eye out next Summer for the introduction of new lifestyle FAQs!

 

Stephen King Films FAQ

Stephen King Films FAQScott Von Doviak’s Stephen King Films FAQ, the latest in the series from Applause Books is now available, with all that’s left to know about the king of horror on flim.  While his book looks back the four decades during which Stephen King has made his mark at the movies, Von Doviak is also looking forward.  Here are his thoughts on what this year may hold for Stephen King film fans.

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Two things we know to be true: Stephen King is one of America’s most prolific authors, and Hollywood is always hungry for material. So it’s not surprising that the Stephen King movie has become a genre unto itself, spanning nearly four decades since the 1976 release of Brian De Palma’s Carrie. This year is shaping up to be one of the most King-heavy in some time, so here’s a brief look at what 2014 has in store.

– Mercy is based on the 1984 short story “Gramma,” which was previously adapted by Harlan Ellison for an episode of The New Twilight Zone in 1986. This feature-length version is directed by Peter Cornwell (The Haunting in Connecticut) and stars The Walking Dead’s Chandler Riggs and Super 8’s Joel Courtney as two boys who discover their ailing grandmother is not what she seems.

— On a similar note, A Good Marriage is a novella from the 2010 collection Full Dark, No Stars about a woman who discovers her longtime husband is a serial killer. The adaptation directed by Peter Askin (Company Man) stars Joan Allen and Anthony LaPaglia and boasts a screenplay by King himself.

Cell is now shooting and may make it into theaters by year’s end. The big-screen version of King’s tale about a cell phone virus that turns people into zombies stars John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson, who previously co-starred in the King-based thriller 1408. Tod Williams (Paranormal Activity 2) directs.

— The first season of Under the Dome on CBS was so successful from a ratings standpoint that what was once intended as a limited series has been extended indefinitely. What began as a promising series quickly deteriorated, however, and the first-season finale was a nonsensical mess. There’s reason to hope the show will get back on track, as King is aboard to write the first episode of the second season, due this summer.

In addition to the above, there are always King projects in various states of pre-production, notably Tom Holland’s The 10 O’Clock People, which may finally go before the cameras this year. One film fans shouldn’t hold their breath for is the long-awaited big-screen version of The Stand, which has churned through a number of potential directors over the years. The latest word is that Josh Boone, writer/director of Stuck in Love (a movie in which Stephen King made a cameo appearance) is on board, but the actual end of the world may come before this post-apocalyptic vision reaches theaters.

Q & A with Mike Eder

Mike Eder, author of Elvis Music FAQ, answers some questions about his book on Elvis Information Network.

Mike, thanks for agreeing to an interview, I’m really looking forward to the book finally getting published. How long have you been working on your book ‘Elvis Music FAQ’ ?

Mike Eder: I have been working on it since the fall of 2011. I did the initial chapter for the proposal and then wrote most of it in from June to December 2012. Editing has gone on pretty constantly since then, ending only about one month ago. I had input on pretty much every aspect of the book. Backbeat has a great team who came up with a lot of great ideas, but they were very respectful of me as the author at all times. It is a nice feeling.

It must be hard to gather so much information and then distil it down to a publishable size!

Mike Eder: It is because I am a completest by nature. I basically used my Elvis record collection to write this book. I have read over 300 Elvis books myself so I knew what really had NOT been said. Or at least I didn’t feel it was said in the same way. I do cover every song and make some sort of comment on each one. I did draw the line on home recordings as they weren’t really meant for public consumption and truthfully there is too much we just don’t know about to cover them as definitively as I like to generally. Every tour is mentioned and given a review of sorts, all the films, and every major record, LP, EP, or 45, released during Elvis’ lifetime.

The FAQ series of books tend to cover some quirky stuff and I also had fun doing chapters on “borrowed” songs, records made by imposters, etc (see below left). I always try to be accurate on my dates and most importantly to have a balanced perspective. I am hard on myself that way but the great thing about doing an FAQ book is that you can take your subject seriously without losing the reader. These aren’t dry reference books, but rather meant to be thought provoking and fun. I want there to be a degree of entertainment for the reader.

I know what I like as a fan of Elvis, and music books in general, so I try to make it a book people will want to thumb through again. At the same time I put basically as much information as a typical reference book might have. Whether you have one scratchy 45 and a Christmas comp CD, or every pressing known to man, I aimed to make it work for any kind of Elvis listener. I want it to be a different sort of project in that any sort of fan can take something away from it.

Do you have a favourite period 50’s, 60’s or 70s?

Mike Eder: Well my very favorite Presley recordings generally come from 1954-60 and then 1968-72. I like a lot of stuff from 1961-67, and bearing in mind his troubles at the time, I also find much to enjoy during the later years. Though from a live standpoint the pickings get slim by 1976. Still I think the two periods I mentioned are when Elvis was enjoying what were ultimately two different kind of peaks.

There is no secret that Elvis was a great artist who made some bad records. I try to make sense of those and maybe try to understand how many of them came about. Elvis must bear the blame for making some bad decisions, yet I have no anger or disgust at him for not always making the best choices.

Throughout his career Elvis performed so many different types of music, do you think that your reviews might reflect your own taste in music? 

Mike Eder: One thing I would like to point out is that I am a huge fan of most any sort of rock, folk, blues, country, and gospel from the early fifties to the early seventies. I tend to focus on that one period of music history, but my tastes within that time are quite wide. I think that has put me in the unique position in that I like most of the styles Elvis tried. I have no hang up about him doing pop songs, if they are good pop songs. I like hard rock and I like love songs. It all depends on what I get from it myself.

Aside from the kind of historical factual information that a responsible writer does not let their own feelings color, I ignore other critics and try to tell the story that I get from the music personally. My own take on the whole Elvis Presley story is different than those that have been published before and I hope that’s why I have been able to gain readers over the years. I don’t want to come off like my tastes are more definitive than anyone else’s, I only want to make a case for what moves or doesn’t move me.

Keep reading the interview on Elvis Information Network!

 

Elvis Music FAQ is for anyone who has been inspired by an Elvis Presley record. Following in the tradition of the FAQ series, in Elvis Music FAQ, a lot of rare information is woven together in one concise, entertaining package.

There are chapters about every year of Elvis’s career, including a look at his pioneering original record label Sun; insight on his management; the continued importance of television in his career; a summation of each Presley concert tour; the inside scoop about the role Elvis’s band members and songwriters played in his sound; stories about the amusing musical oddities created by those trying to ride on the Elvis success train; details about the contentious role drugs played in his career; and, finally, a full review of every record the King ever issued.

Stephen King’s Horror Films

The talented and prolific Stephen King is 65 years old today! Now we can celebrate with an excerpt from Horror Films FAQ, written by John Kenneth Muir.

Although the horror film has frequently adapted literary material in its long history, from Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley to Thomas Harris and Dean Koontz, perhaps no writer has seen his work translated to the silver screen more often the oft-named “master of horror,” Stephen King (1947– ). King is a longtime resident of Maine and sets most of his stories in that region. And as a young man, the author was reportedly inspired to become a horror writer by the works of H. P. Lovecraft (1890–1937).

The writer of more than 50 novels and 200 short stories, King has written books selling more than 350 million copies worldwide. He has earned multiple honors, including the Bram Stoker Award and, controversially, the National Book Foundation’s Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. Suffering an identical fate to many authors who choose horror as the avenue for their storytelling, King’s work is often dismissed out of hand as lowbrow when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. King’s work often deals directly with the American blue-collar experience and the interfacing of that experience with the supernatural or paranormal. His protagonists are often a circle of friends reckoning with something outside the human experience but using their bond of friendship to defeat it.

Since 1976 and Brian De Palma’s cinematic adaptation of King’s novel Carrie, several dozen of King’s works have been adapted to film, television, and even the stage. “The simple fact is that King’s stories and novels have provided a wealth of materials for filmmakers,” writes King biographer Michael R. Collings. “Almost every novel published under King’s name has been produced as a film, is in production, or has been optioned.”

Furthermore, writes another King scholar, Tony Magistrale, “Between box office receipts and film rental distribution around the world, the Stephen King movie business is now worth well in excess of a billion dollars.” Tellingly, King’s most critically acclaimed film adaptations have emerged from outside the horror genre. Rob Reiner’s Stand by Me (1986), Frank Darabont’s The Shawshank Redemption (1994), and Green Mile (1999) have all been met with kudos and award nominations, whereas the horror films have achieved far less acceptance. In the eyes of judgmental, “elitist critics,” writes Mark Browning, “the films are associated with a cinematic subgenre with historically low status [horror] and secondly, the films are adapting overtly popular, best-selling writer who is commonly associated with this particular genre in literature.”

Clearly, however, the horror-film adaptations of Stephen King’s literary works have created a dilemma of “authorship” for many who admire the books. Audiences familiar with King’s novels bring high expectations to the theater that often can’t be met since film is a different art form than literature, and settings, events, and characters are sometimes eliminated, combined, or changed to so as to vet the cleanest, most concise narrative.

Secondly, many of the directors who have crafted films based on King’s work are of an unusually high caliber. As auteurs, they inevitably bring their own creative aesthetic to any filming of a King story. Thus King’s vision is changed or sublimated to accommodate the vision of the director in question. The result is that the images onscreen abundantly represent a hybrid vision: Stephen King through the lens of Brian De Palma (Carrie), Stephen King through the lens of Kubrick (The Shining), or Stephen King through the lens of John Carpenter (Christine).

Horror Films FAQ explores a century of ghoulish and grand horror cinema, gazing at the different characters, situations, settings, and themes featured in the horror film, from final girls, monstrous bogeymen, giant monsters and vampires to the recent torture porn and found footage formats. The book remembers the J-Horror remake trend of the 2000s, and examines the oft-repeated slasher format popularized by John Carpenter’s Halloween (1978) and Friday the 13th (1980).