“A Never-Ending Wheel”: The Heroic Quest in Dio’s ‘Holy Diver’

By Michael Grasso

Ronnie James Dio broke out in a big way in the spring of 1983 with the release of his solo debut LP, Holy Diver. Formerly the lead singer for heavy rock/metal pioneers Elf, Rainbow (Ritchie Blackmore’s followup project to Deep Purple), and Black Sabbath (joining the band after it parted ways with Ozzy Osbourne), Dio brought to his new eponymous project over a decade of experience as a foundational heavy metal vocalist and lyricist…

New England Whalers Victory March (‘Brass Bonanza’), 1976

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) was established to compete with the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL, much like Major League Baseball in the early ’70s, was dealing with its labor market’s rebellion against the unjust reserve clause. The WHA offered players better salaries and an opportunity to sign contracts as free agents…

K-tel Music Compilation Commercials, 1970 – 1984

Television advertising in the 1950s took a fairly staid and classic form: the advertising agency would spend 30 to 60 seconds presenting a domestic problem that its client’s product promised to alleviate. But the dawn of the 1960s introduced a more aggressive, hard-sell type of direct advertising, where the product’s manufacturer would sell a product directly to the TV viewer through product demonstrations…

‘For You’ by Tatsuro Yamashita, 1982

Tatsuro Yamashita is one of the most famous musicians from the City Pop genre, an eclectic blend of rock, funk, jazz, and disco that was omnipresent in 1980s Japan. To me, listening to City Pop evokes feelings of speeding down a Tokyo freeway on a sunny day or dancing in a neon lit disco somewhere in Shibuya…

The Bruton Music Library, 1977 – 1989

Alongside the industrial manufacture of popular music which characterised the second half of the twentieth century, another type of music aimed at a smaller group of consumers and offering another perspective on the humours of its day was also being recorded: production music, also called library music, was instrumental music recorded to evoke a certain mood or tone and licensed for use in other media (for example as background, incidental or theme music)…

Earth, Wind & Fire Panasonic Boombox Commercials, 1980 – 1983

At the dawn of the 1980s, soul-funk-disco orchestra Earth, Wind & Fire (EWF) were at the top of their game. They’d just released their LP I Am (1979), which featured hit single “After The Love Has Gone,” and double-album Faces (1980). Both albums came close to hitting number 1 on the US pop charts and solidified the band’s already-solid reputation as reliable hit-makers…

Double Exposure: ‘A-Z’ by Colin Newman and ‘Positive Touch’ by The Undertones

By Richard McKenna and K.E. Roberts

It must have been difficult to imagine, when art-punk band Wire’s guitarist and vocalist Colin Newman released his first solo record, that he could have much to add to the evocation of the strange tensions of contemporary life that Wire had elucidated over the course of their first three LPs: Pink Flag (1977), Chairs Missing (1978), and 154 (1979)…

Walking Straight Into the Past: David Keenan’s ‘This Is Memorial Device’

By Michael Grasso

“Worldbuilding” has become a trendy word to throw around when it comes to fictional universes. Franchises with the luxury to build their worlds over multiple motion pictures costing billions and billions of dollars fill the media landscape. In David Keenan’s debut novel, This Is Memorial Device, we enter a world with a much more humble, much more homely set of concerns, but with a universe no less studded with outsized personalities…