I spend a lot of time here writing about the things I like.  Why am I doing all the heavy lifting around here?  What are you listening to?  What are you watching?  What are you reading?

Get in touch with me via Twitter (@RadioFreeBillyD), Facebook (Billy D’Ettorre), or email (RadioBillyD@gmail.com) and tell me what is making you smile these days.  In a future post I will share some of the replies I get with the other eleven people reading this, so let me know if it’s ok to include your name along with your recommendations… after all you’ll deserve all the credit or blame.

While I wait for the deluge of replies I’ll point you towards the stuff that has kept me entertained this past week.

– Music Recommendation:  It has occurred to me that country music is hugely popular nowadays but I hardly ever mention it.  Well, this past Friday at the Black Friday Record Store Day I picked up an album that I think is fantastic.  “Southern Child” was recorded in 1972 by the biggest star to ever to come out of Macon, Georgia but was shelved by the record company.  Reprise Records never did explain why they didn’t release this collection of songs by music legend Little Richard.

Yep, that Little Richard.  Wop bop a loo bop a lop bom bom! Tutti frutti, oh rutti Little Richard recorded a country album, with all the songs written or cowritten by the man born as Richard Penniman.  I’m assuming that country music fans in the early 70’s would’ve been thrilled to have an album by a flamboyant, bisexual black man.

That slight has been corrected by Omnivore Recordings, who released last week’s limited edition yellow vinyl (1800 copies nationwide), along with the CD version that comes out this week.  These include the original (hilarious) cover photo of Richard in overalls milking a cow in his backyard, and great liner notes by award winning music historian Bill Dahl.  After 48 years we finally get this album released as Richard intended… it’s too bad he didn’t live to see it, having died on May 9th in this terrible year of 2020.

By the way, colored vinyl and picture discs sometimes have a reputation for having inferior sound, but not this time.  This canary yellow record is high quality, has a heavier feel to it, and I think sounds great to my untrained ear.  Record Archive may have some of these left from Black Friday, so if you are interested give them a call at 585-244-1210 and ask.  If you want the compact disc you can order it here.  https://shop.recordarchive.com/UPC/816651019267

– Movie Recommendation(s):  Let me give you a couple movies to check out, both of which are based on true stories, and you can see both on Netflix.

I’ll start with “The Trial Of The Chicago 7”.  Aaron Sorkin (The West Wing, A Few Good Men, etc…) wrote and directed this historical drama that shows us that 2020 may not be the craziest times in the history of American politics.  1968 was just as bad, if not worse, and this film following the aftermath of the ’68 Democratic Convention in Chicago might be my favorite movie of the year.

Excellent performances by Sacha Baron Cohen as Abbie Hoffman, Jeremy Strong as Jerry Rubin, Eddie Redmayne as Tom Hayden, and Frank Langella as Judge Julius Hoffman are just a few of the actors that make a great script even better.  What more can I say?  Watch it.

Not quite as good as “The Trial Of The Chicago 7” (in fact it’s not even close) is “I Am Woman”, the biopic of 70’s pop singer/women’s rights icon Helen Reddy.

I Am Woman is a straight up crowd pleaser, but would’ve just felt like a Lifetime Movie Of The Week if it weren’t elevated by the outstanding portrayal of Ms. Reddy by two people… relative newcomer Tilda Cobham-Hervey as Helen the person, with Chelsea Cullen supplying the singing voice that Cobham-Hervey lip syncs to.

I will say that the musical performances in this movie are so perfect I didn’t know if the actress was doing her own singing, or using tracks recorded by Reddy in the seventies and eighties.  Turns out it was a third option (which makes sense once I thought about it).  This way the songs can be shortened, given slightly altered arrangements, etc… that wouldn’t be possible if you only used the original recordings.  I’m glad I did the research to learn this (and by research I mean I read an article on Wikipedia).

I’m still not sure what to think about Evan Peters as Helen’s manager/husband Jeff Wald.  It’s certainly memorable, if over the top and lacking any sort of nuance.

I’m not sure who was cutting onions in my living room during the movie’s climactic scene.  That can be the only excuse for the tears that were running down my face.  I did wind up picking up a used copy of “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits” at the Archive for $5 when I was there last Friday.

– Book Recommendation: Last week I also got a copy of the best book I’ve read in quite a while, and it’s a comic book… sort of.  I can’t tell you how much I loved the first issue of “The Other History Of The DC Universe”.

For those of you that don’t speak nerd, DC Comics is the company in charge of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, etc… As opposed to Marvel who does Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, and all the other Avengers.  You’d be surprised how many people don’t know the difference, or you’d be surprised how surprised I am at the number of people that don’t know the difference.

Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave, Let It Fall) examines the mythology of the DC Universe in this compelling new miniseries that reframes iconic moments of DC history as seen through the prism of DC superheroes who come from traditionally disenfranchised groups and minority backgrounds.

This unique new series presents its story as prose by Ridley married with beautiful color illustrations from a number of illustrators and comics artists. Alex Dos Diaz provides art for #1, which follows the story of Jefferson Pierce, the man who will one day become Black Lightning, as he makes his way from being a young track star to a teacher and, ultimately, to his role as a hero.  I’d love to know the backstory of how an Oscar winner came to write the “autobiography of Black Lightning”.  It’s phenomenal.

There is one small negative with this book.  While reading it I came across a couple typos and misspelled words.  I blame this on recent layoffs at DC that saw a bunch of editors, office people, and management let go from their jobs.  Luckily I have a couple people looking out for me… that way it’s umpossible fer me to have wurds spelt rong on this blog.

I hear that future issues focus on characters such as Karen (Bumblebee) and Mal (Guardian/Vox) Duncan, Tatsu Yamashiro (Katana), and Renee Montoya (Gotham City Police detective, and later The Question).  I’m looking forward to these, and hope they are as good as this initial issue.

If “The Other History Of The DC Universe” is of interest to you may I suggest you follow the Record Archive philosophy of supporting small local businesses and stop by one of the many comic book shops here in Rochester.  I’m not sure why Rochester is so geek friendly, but I can think of at least six or seven stores off the top of my head.  Maybe I’ll run into you at Rhino’s  Comics or All Heroes Heroes on the west side.  If you’re out near Victor then Two Kings Comics is very cool, or maybe stop into Comics Etc. while you’re downtown.  If you need help finding a place I’m your guy.

I was also going to write about a podcast I like, but I think I’ll save that for next week.  My brain is tired right now.  Stop laughing… it is!!!

Don’t forget, I want your recommendations.  Send them to me.  Stay safe, stay warm, and wear a mask.

RadioBillyD@gmail.com – @RadioFreeBillyD on Twitter – Billy D’Ettorre on Facebook

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