Thursday, 23 May 2019

May 23rd, 1979 - Marvel UK, 40 years ago this week.

As we all know, things are going swimmingly well between the West and Russia at the moment.

Clearly, there's only one thing for it.

We're going to have to call in Elton John.

That's what we did forty years ago this week, at the height of the Cold War, when the toupéed ivory-tickler became the first rock star from the West to perform live in the Soviet Union.

I do remember that event well, and also the communist Soviet media's incomprehension at the amount of money Elton was earning each year.

Someone else who was, no doubt, raking it in at that time was Debbie Harry because this was the week she and the rest of Blondie hit the UK Number One spot with their single Sunday Girl which, if I remember right, was their second consecutive British chart-topper, following on from Heart of Glass.

At Number Two was Roxy Music's Dance Away, their big comeback single after several years of working apart. At Three was M's Pop Muzik, while ABBA resided at Four with Does Your Mother Know which is the only ABBA single I can think of that had a lead vocal by one of the blokes. At Number Five was Peaches and Herb's Reunited which, for all its pleasantness, I must declare I do view as not being on a creative par with those other four singles.

But, obviously, no one really cares about any of that.

All anyone really cares about is where were Boney M while all this was going on?

They were at Number Seven, with Hooray Hooray, It's A Holi-Holiday, on its way down the chart, having already peaked at Number Three.

Sadly, the M's musical fortunes took a major downturn from this point on and it was their last Top Ten single in Britain until their Mega Mix in 1992, with barely any of their singles from this point on even making the Top 40.

It was a living tragedy.

Still, at least we had Marvel UK to keep our spirits up.

Star Wars Weekly #65

Han and Chewie are still in that cave and still under fire from Jabba the Hut and his not-so-merry men.

According to the internet, the Micronauts escape from H.E.L.L, Ray Coffin meets Time Traveller, Argon rescues Slug, and Karza meets Prometheus.

Frankly, I don't have a clue what any of that means - and I say that as someone who's actually read the story.

Meanwhile, we've reached The Strange Death of Adam Warlock which, for me, is one of the great comic book tales of the 1970s.

There would appear to be no Tales of the Watcher this issue. I can only assume he must be on holiday.

Hulk Weekly #12, Bigfoot

Hooray! The Hulk's up against the Abominable Snowman!

Except he's not. He's up against Bigfoot.

Admittedly, they're in the same ballpark but several dozens of thousands of miles apart.

Ant-Man's up against that man who looks like Brian Blessed and can control others with the power of his voice, enabling him to turn the entire city against our insect-sized hero.

In The Eternals, Sersy's been abducted by the Deviants.

Night-Raven's been stalked by an inquisitive reporter.

Nick Fury's up to something. I don't know what but it might involve a desert.

Captain Britain and the Black Knight get to meet Moondog the elf. His name-check on the cover suggests this is viewed by the company as major news. Personally, I don't remember him.

Marvel Comic #343, Daredevil vs El Jaguar

More memorably, DD finds himself up against El Jaguar, the Kraven lookalike who decides it's a good idea to try and kidnap the Black Widow at a party.

Spider-Man Comic #324, the Masked Marauder

Just when everyone was asking why Marvel would bother to bring back the Masked Marauder, it cannily quells those doubts by making us ask why it'd bother to bring back the Tri-Man. One can only assume someone on the editorial staff has a thing for half-forgotten Daredevil villains.

With developments like this, surely it can only be a matter of time before Spidey finds himself up against the awesome power of the Matador.


Killdumpster said...

Didn't Spidey go up against Leap-Frog? That would be worse than Matador.

Aggy said...

Moondog the Elf meant nothing to me so I googled. Turns out that Moondog is a Jazz musican with a track called Elf Song and you absolutely must Google him.

In other news I googled Moondog Elf Marvel... and nope still don't remember him.

Steve W. said...

KD, I don't remember Spidey going up against Leapfrog. I do remember him going up against Stilt-Man at least once and clobbering him with ease.

Aggy, that is indeed a remarkable discovery.

Steve W. said...

Aggy, I am now listening to that track on YouTube:

Killdumpster said...

Any book that featured The Marauder is a downer.

As I've previously stated, my pals & I were big Warlock fans. Our school picnics were held at a small amusement park at Conneaut Lake, PA. They had quite of few cool rides: a rikety swaying old wooden roller coaster, classic funhouse, "dark rides" like Devils Den, Ultimate Trip, Hellhole, Dracula's Cave, and a cheesy boat ride called Jungle Cruise loaded with political incorrectness. We loved the place, but not just for the rides & games..

They had a gift-shop with magazine racks LOADED with comics! We wouldn't eat lunch at school for MONTHS, saving our lunch money for comics. After the rides and midway games, about an hour before we had to get on the bus, we'd hit the gift shop.

That's when we saw it. The Incredible Hulk issue, "The Death Of Adam Warlock". After a day of fun & comradery, we got slapped with shock & grief.

My best friend yelled, "I'm not buying that!" The rest of us did though.

Then he came back. We were thrilled. Then at the end of Starlin's Magus storyline, he literally killed himself.
Some of my buddies got up-in-arms again. I just said "Relax, he'll be back."

When the storyline ended where Warlock is reincarnated as the "Ultimate Avenger", turns Thanos to stone, then ends up residing in the soul gem with all the friends & enemies he's used it on, the same thing.

My pals,"They killed him!"
I said,"Yeah again, so?"
My pals, "This time they mean it! He's found his heaven inside the soul gem!"

"Okay, who has a lot of experience with the soul gem, an has already achieved returning from the dead?"

Crickets were chirping.

I just really hope that when he's introduced into the MCU they keep the original costume. DC might have an issue with it, SHAZAM having done decent box-office.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Boney M, George Clinton, Archie Bell and the Drells, Sugar Hill Gang... Charlie digs all the non-mainstream brothers. Growing up in Gary, Indiana, with a father who would turn on Vivian Cater on "Livin with Vivian" back in the day who would also bring home Motown Records from the library for us to listen on our monophonic record player, how could Charlie not?

FWIW - Vivian Carter was the Vee in VeeJay records, the first to sign the Beatles in the USA.

And being at my grandmother's house on Saturday mornings watching Soul Train with my uncles, cousins, et al. It was rather a surreal experience as the racial slurs would fly while everyone absolutely dug the scene.

Any Atomic Dogs out there chasing the cat this 3-day holiday weekend? "Bow-wow-wow-yippie-yo-yippie-yeah... Why must I always chase the cat...?" LOL!

Charlie Horse 47 said...

I could not read Warlock's stuff b/c the word Magus reminded me of Maggot and... well... it just turned me offffff.

It's a miracle I got past Maggia since it confused the crapola out of me in my child hood.

Bartoc vs. Leapfrog with Toad reffing? Who wins?

Anonymous said...

I'd say Batroc. He's pretty good with his hands, too.
...I like George Clinton, too! My brother saw him live once, said it was quite the show.
On another note, Stiltman has defeated Spider-man twice. Er..., sort of. Once in the pages of Daredevil ol' Stilty knocked out a relatively inexperienced Spidey with a stun gas grenade, and once in the pages of ASM he knocked Spidey out again in a factory using the armaments there. That one was kind of a fluke.
I'm kinda depressed I know this.


Anonymous said...

Sunday Girl remains a favourite of mine. It was only in the google-age that I realised it wasn't released as a single in the US. Odd, given its chart topping performance in Blighty. Blonde performed it on Top of the Pops that Christmas day (1979) and Debbie Harry looked fantastic. Sunglasses indoors! Crazy!


Killdumpster said...

Batroc takes Leap-Frog AND Toad, if they doubled teamed against him.

Outside of his silly banter, he's vicious and goes to battle to win.

He couldn't be one of Captain America's more memorable foes otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I have always loved Blondie and Debbie Harry.
When I twelve, one of my aunts, who was fairly young at the time, looked a lot like her.
...It was a confusing time for lil' M.P.

I remember my sister walking around singing "rip her to shreds!"


Anonymous said...

...Dreaming is my favorite track. Gets me every time.


dangermash said...

Frog-Man and Toad both appear in ASM #266. They're both being uncharacteristically childish clingy and wanting to ream up with Spider-Man, who just wants them to leave him alone. In the end the two of them form some team with a kid with Doc Oct arms and head out looking for whatever superhero teams look for. No sign of Batroc.

A truly terrible issue. Obviously not one I remember first hand after Dez threw me under the bus. Instead I read input in the early noughties when Marvel put ASM 1-500 and sold them off far too cheaply.

The Artistic Actuary said...

Written on my back with iPad on my stomach and no glasses on. Hence the typos.

dangermash said...

Thanks Mike. 🙄

Colin Jones said...

I didn't know Elton John was the first Western pop star to perform in Russia - I pity the poor Russians.

The first album I ever bought was THE BEST OF BLONDIE released in 1981 and that album's version of Sunday Girl included some lyrics in French but the UK No.1 version included no French lyrics, if I recall correctly.

Steve W. said...

Colin, I do vaguely remember hearing Sunday Girl with French lyrics at the time. From what I recall, she did like to sing in French. I remember Jeff Lynne doing the same on Hold On Tight To Your Dreams as well. I always suspected it was merely a ruse to disguise the fact that they'd run out of lyrics, and it was a means to get away with repeating the previous verses.

Dangermash, thanks for the Frog-Man/Toad info.

MP and DW, I think I would say Hanging on the Telephone is my favourite Blondie track.

Killdumpster said...

I thought the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band played Russia before Elton.

Steve W. said...

KD, you appear to be right. According to Wikipedia, they toured the Soviet Union in 1977.

Then again, it was Wikipedia that told me Elton John was the first to do it in 1979.

Clearly, Wikipedia is as reliable as ever.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Steve - I think your Wiki reference is fair enough. You said "rock star" and I can't say Nitty Gritty Dirt Band were rock stars? So...

Hey - a political "system" question. NOT POLITICS. Is it a big deal in the UK when May steps down in June? I guess you guys vote for a party, not a president so it's not like here in the USA where the Prez stepping down is a big deal of cosmic proportions and unheard of (but for Tricky Dicky in 1973 or so, in my lifetime).

Steve W. said...

It is a big deal because we get a new Prime Minister. How big a deal it is depends on who the new Prime Minister is, which no one knows right now. I suspect that most people feel that nothing at all will change this time, whoever it is.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

So simplistically thinking, if the New Prime Minister does not meet expectations, you can get another via the "vote of no confidence?"

You guys don't change the party in power except in your general elections? The vote of no confidence just swaps out the PM but from the same party?

Killdumpster said...

Now now, Charlie.

While I am definitely not a Dirt Band fan, there is no denying they were the first music act from the west to play Russia.

Heck, I think I only knew about it from reading Time magazine in my school's library.

Guess just the very name of the band felt comfortable to the Russian government. "Da, the proletariate will find American rock & roll also lives in gritty dirt." Lol!

Anonymous said...

In Russia you do not wash dirt off, dirt washes you off.
(sound of crickets)
...And thank you! Goodnight, everybody!


Killdumpster said...

(Applause light turns on, live audience claps & cheers!)

Anonymous said...

Charlie, although it usually takes a general election to change the party in power in the UK, in theory if a minority government could no longer command a majority in parliament they could be replaced by the next largest party if they were able to show that they could. It would be up to the queen to decide.
Yep, its the twenty-first century, but the queen can decide. Like when she sacked the pinko Australian govt in '75.
The last time the British govt changed without an election was (I think) in 1940, which gives an idea of how unusual an occurrence it is.

&*%£# Theresa May lost me money! I was still hoping to collect on £20 I put on Corbyn to be next PM at 22-1, well before the last election.
Still, at least she's going (the tories let her hang on to the job til Trump's state visit - apparently to keep her dignity!)


Anonymous said...

We Americans are not currently in a position to question the political system in the U.K., Sean.
Not without being laughed at.


Steve W. said...

Charlie, adding to what Sean's said, it's all a bit fuzzy. As far as I'm aware, any MP can be Prime Minister, providing they have the backing of the majority of the other MPs. They don't, legally, have to be a party leader. Therefore, the House of Commons can get rid of a Prime Minister by having a vote of no confidence in them.

But, also, a party can dump its own particular leader by giving him/her its own internal vote of no confidence. Theoretically, you could be dumped as your party leader but still carry on as Prime Minister. However, a politician who doesn't have the backing of their own party is unlikely to have enough support in the Commons to remain Prime Minister.

In the last year, Theresa May has faced a vote of no confidence from both her own party and from the House of Commons and won both. However, it's been made clear to her that she wouldn't survive another, so she's had to quit.

Under normal circumstances, the deposed Prime Minister's successor as party leader would automatically take over as Prime Minister and things would continue seamlessly but, if their party doesn't have a majority in the Commons, the Commons might reject them and choose someone totally different as Prime Minister. However, the mess everything's now in, it's more likely that, if the new PM doesn't have the Commons' backing, the Queen would dissolve Parliament, as there's no effective government, and order a general election.

Dougie said...

Heart Of Glass is, of course, the greatest Blondie single.

Edinburgh country band the Felsons used to segue Springsteen's I'm On Fire into Heart of Glass on stage in the mid-90s.

Colin Jones said...

My favourite Blondie song is The Tide Is High.

The Queen is just a pointless powerless figurehead who can "decide" sweet FA - that's the job of senior civil servants.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Thanks Sean and Steve - sounds like "time will tell" as, from 4000 miles away, I am guessing (just a a guess) that it is not politics as normal with the Brexit thingie and your natural order of secession / ascension in politics might be a bit more volatile?

What I would give for a parliamentary system here, though! The "winnner take all" kills our progress b/c each party must appeal to it's radicals than perhaps a different party's centrists to take power.

Hey - did you know both Charlie and Blondie are of Hungarian ethnicity? Now that's a coincidence or what???

Bow wow wow... (That's for KD)

Anonymous said...

"Atomic", "Rapture", and "Maria" were brilliant songs too.
I tell ya, if you were a straight guy in the '80's and didn't have a crush on Debbie Harry, it was because you didn't have a pulse and were legally dead.
Same with Linda Ronstadt.


P.S. Charlie, you know who else was Hungarian? Elizabeth Bathory!
You don't got any Bathorys in yer family tree, do ya?

Charlie Horse 47 said...

Hey - is there a SUnday blog or should Charlie go outside and play???

Steve W. said...

There is indeed going to be a Sunday post. I can't guarantee it'll be riveting but it will exist.

Charlie Horse 47 said...

OK Steve - O! It's raining outside and I had to come back inside! Where's the @#^*(#@% Blog??? LOL!

Wait - I know! You are glued to the TV watching the EUro-election results! Never mind! Sorry to hastle you!

CHeers, Charlie

Steve W. said...

It's on its way, Charlie.

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