the Buzz for January 2012


Jerry Orbach, David Ogden Stiers,
and Angela Lansbury
— “Be Our Guest”
(from Beauty and the Beast [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]) — Be Our Guest - Beauty and the Beast (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture)

For a glorious evening last week, A managed to drag me away from the 2012 Republican presidential race — which, with its daily plot twists and turns and constant sniping about adultery, sex, and foggy finances, has proven to be a quite adequate substitute for my dearly departed favorite soap opera — and to the movies, where we took in a showing of Disney’s 1991 touchstone Beauty and the Beast, which has returned to theaters this month with a dazzling new update just in time to mark its twentieth anniversary. For this latest reissue, the film has been converted — wholly unnecessarily — to RealD 3D, which required special glasses that I had to wear on top of my regular glasses and which had given me an ginormous headache by the time the credits rolled. Still, it was worth it for the rare chance to revisit one of my all-time favorite films once more on the big screen; even with all the three-dee hoohah, the masterfully hand-drawn animation is as sumptuous as ever — warm and inviting in a way that none of those so-called masterpieces from Pixar will ever be, if you axe me — and the soundtrack — anchored by this stunning set piece, still a magnificent mind-blower, even two decades hence, with all its dancing dishes and frisky flatware moving around in expertly executed choreography — continues to stand tall as Disney’s most brilliant best. (Oh, and young or old: when that garish Gaston meets his ultimate fate during the film’s exquisitely intense climax, you’ll still stand up and cheer.)


Etta James — “At Last” (from The Essential Etta James) — At Last - The Essential Etta James

Etta James — “Stop the Wedding” (from The Definitive Collection) — Stop the Wedding - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Etta James

Etta James — “Holding Back the Years” (from All the Way) — Holding Back the Years - All the Way

I’ve been trying to get this written and posted for a solid week, but it has just been crazy around Chez Buzz of late. Nonetheless, fare thee well on your next journey, Miss Etta, and thanks for giving the whole damned world a lifetime of musical dreams to press our collective cheeks to.


Tori Amos — “Silent All These Years” (from Little Earthquakes) — Silent All These Years - Little Earthquakes

In all my agita and verklemptitude over the One Life to Live series finale last week, I allowed two crucial anniversaries slip right past my addled mind: Friday actually marked the twentieth anniversary of the release of one of the seminal recordings of the 1990s, Tori Amos’ intensely personal, ionically charged quasi-debut record, Little Earthquakes. (Earthquakes isn’t technically Amos’ first album, as she was the brilliantly becleavaged, hellaciously hair-sprayed face of an ill-fated ’80s rock band called Y Kant Tori Read, whose one and only release was such a dismal failure that Amos has since disowned it.) The album was never the out-of-the-park commercial sensation it so richly deserved to be — quirky and disquieting generally makes for a lethal combo out on the mass-appeal market — although it did, largely on the strength of word-of-mouth and scattershot radio and television exposure, scratch and crawl its way to platinum status, and it undeniably laid the foundation not only for Amos’ future success but for the estrogen-fueled revolution that lay in wait just around the bend. (I know I’m given to hyperbole around here, but it seems absolutely reasonable to believe that there could nor would have been no Jagged Little Pill without the trail that this astonishing album so fearlessly blazed, and that gals like Liz Phair, Sarah McLachlan, Joan Osborne, and Jewel should write profusely effusive thank-you notes to Ms. Amos daily.)

(The second anniversary is much less culturally and sonically significant by comparison, but Saturday marked the third birthday of Brandon’s Buzz Radio, which continues going strong after thirty-six months and eighty-seven episodes, which have been listened to by roughly 56,000 people all around the world. I remain extremely humbled and honored by your response to the marvelous madness that I continually conjure up in this forum, and I hope you all continue to come along for the ride.)



Sadly, you can’t actually buy any of the tunes in the expertly-assembled video below — ridiculous, considering that no fewer than one of them is considered a touchstone of the form; yet typical, considering ABC’s piss-fucking-poor attempts to properly monetize one of the most valuable entertainment properties it has ever owned — but make no mistake: these are the songs of the day. (Pay close attention to this montage’s fifth clip, with Peabo Bryson lending his dulcet tones to a soap theme that continues to be regarded alongside The Young and the Restless’ powerfully pristine “Nadia’s Theme” as perhaps the greatest in history. God bless you, Peabo, you brilliant, brilliant man.)



and each day that follows

posted at 4:04 pm by brandon in in a lather

“The fans are so loyal, so passionate, so invested in their stories…. I always ask how they started watching Fraternity Row: some of them were stay-at-home mothers, taking a break before their children got home from school; others were college students with free time between classes; many of them inherited a love of the show from their parents, or their grandparents, who were longtime fans themselves. I remember the first time I tuned into Fraternity Row. I was hooked instantly; I needed to know what would happen next to these fascinating people. Would the hero and heroine find their way back to true love? Would the villains get their comeuppance? Or would their crimes go unpunished? Would loving families overcome their obstacles? Or would their troubles prove too difficult to surmount? Ultimately, that’s what soap opera is about: families. Close families, rival families. Families that are unexpected, or families that we choose for ourselves. And when a show is lucky enough to have been on the air as long as Fraternity Row has been on, these families become extensions of our own…. We know them so well: they’ve become our friends. We yearn for their happiness, especially when it’s hard won. We laugh as they laugh, we cry as they cry, and we can’t imagine doing without them. And when things are at their very worst on the show, that’s when we seem to enjoy them the most. There’s just one thing we have to do to keep them in our lives: tune in tomorrow.”

— the ever-eloquent Victoria “Viki” Lord (the peerless, radiant Erika Slezak), on yesterday’s penultimate, heart-wrenchingly majestic episode of One Life to Live, beautifully eulogizing Llanview’s own soap opera, Fraternity Row — and in a funny, marvelously meta way, One Life itself — as only she can. (One Life has always been more than happy to wink right back at us and send up the conventions of the soap genre that it has mastered so brilliantly, even in its last days: in the storyline, in case you’ve been foolish enough to not follow it religiously, WVLE — the local channel which airs soap-within-a-soap Fraternity Row, which once counted, in days which pre-date his successful stint as Llanview’s police commissioner (!), homespun hero Bo Buchanan as its executive producer (!!), and the aforementioned Ms. Lord’s spunky spitfire of a long-lost daughter Megan as its lead actress — has canceled the series after a forty-three year run (wink, wink), which has led to quite the hue and cry from many of Llanview’s citizens, even those of whose undying love for the show we have had no prior knowledge. And Thursday’s episode of One Life featured Llanview’s local talk show paying tribute to Fraternity Row — much the same way The View did this very morning with One Life — which gave Miss Viki one final chance to crumble, cry, carry on with her trademark stately stoicism, and then teach us a little bit more about ourselves. Myself, I started watching One Life in that unforgettable summer of 1988, just a few months before my mother passed away, and in times great and horrific, wonderful and wrenching in my life, I have CLUNG with both hands to that show, above any and every other show, and I’m quite sincere when I tell you, there have been times throughout those years when it felt like I didn’t have a friend in the whole world except for Viki, Bo, Clint, Nora, Renee, Cord, Tina, Megan, Jake, Blair, Joey, Dorian, Asa, Max, Luna, Marty, Gabrielle, Sarah, Mel, Andrew, and Dr. Larry. The show lived its one life with a ridiculously reckless brilliance, and it comes to an end today after some 11,000 episodes and 43 years —- indeed, after one of the most remarkable runs that American television has ever witnessed. And so today, I salute my fellow fans who mourn right along with me, and I thank Agnes Nixon, all the writers and producers, camera guys and crew(wo)men who have upheld and succeeded her genius with all the grace that the world will allow, and all the actors who have collectively breathed such gloriously gorgeous LIFE into the hallways and highways, into the bedrooms and byways, of Llanview, PA. From the bottom of my hard and heavy heart, thanks for every last one of those magnificent memories.)


Dog’s Eye View — “Everything Falls Apart” (from Happy Nowhere) — Everything Falls Apart - Happy Nowhere

“I met God this afternoon /

ridin’ on an uptown train /

I said, ‘Don’t you have better things to do?’ /

and He said, ‘If I do my job, what would you complain about. . . ?'”


U2 — “New Year’s Day” (from 18 Singles) — New Year's Day - U218 Singles (Deluxe Version)

Dan Fogelberg — “Same Old Lang Syne”
(from The Very Best of Dan Fogelberg) — Same Old Lang Syne - The Very Best of Dan Fogelberg

These things are just too easy some days. (And don’t pay no mind to the fact that, technically, as per the song’s elegantly evocative first verse, “Same Old” actually takes place on Christmas Eve: it’s still the best one year ends, another one begins tune that anyone ever sat down and thunk up.) Happy 2012, y’all; may it bring us all peace, prosperity, powerfully riveting music, and a presidential candidate on the Republican side of the aisle that actually passes the smell test on the first swipe. (Is that too damn much to ask?)