On February 8, the Power Records Project streamed a live performance of an original Flash Gordon radio serial from 1935. It was the next step in the evolution of an idea that grew out of my two-week adventure with COVID back in March. Something that started out as an individual endeavor has grown into a fun, creative troupe of seven. After kicking around ideas to expand beyond re-creating old book-and-record adventures, we decided to get goofy and do a live performance on Zoom and streamed through FacebookLive.
From a design standpoint it was fun for me to create some teaser and Zoom background graphics, as well as a short teaser video that allowed me more practice and play time with After Effects and Premiere.
With over 325 views as of this post, we’ve exceeded all of our modest expectations.
I shed a serious but thankfully mild case of the Coronavirus in early April and as my physical energy returned, so too did my creative energy. But where to channel it?
I decided to re-create an homage to one of my favorite book-and-record stories from my youth.
As we all practice physical distancing – in my case it was nearly 28 days of total isolation – we seemed to embrace or re-embrace ‘comfortable’ forms of media and mediums. Maybe it’s a simple psychological reaction to our new uncertain realities. One of my comfortable mediums are the old Power Records adventures from the 1970s. My brother and I spent hours listening and listening again to stories of Spider-Man, Captain America and the Falcon, Werewolves, Dracula and Frankenstein’s monster, reading along with the comic panels while the record scratched and popped with the… erm…finest Power Records voice talent money could buy.
One of my favorite stories was Spider-Man and the Invasion of the Dragon Men. It had Spider-Man wisecracks, dragon men from space and their leader, Draco, who somehow picked up a distinct New York accent during his travels across the cosmos (Peter Pan/Power Records was based out of New Jersey). I knew I could have fun with it.
It allowed me to dip my hands again in Adobe Audition and Premiere where I could set up slates and titles and layer my audio in with sound effects I downloaded from the BBC Sound Effects archive (it’s seriously incredible). My plan was to do all the voices, but I ended up recruiting my talented cousin Abby on the female characters. My best friend Jon provided some musical cues and after about a week of editing, it was done!
Tune In Next Time
When I posted the finished video to YouTube and linked it to my social accounts, a very lovely thing happened. A few friends expressed interest in wanting to contribute if I planned to do more stories. After some coordination, six of us – myself, Jon, Abby and three other friends – did a virtual table read over Zoom to kick off the start of two more book-and-record adventures! It was more fun than I hoped it would be and I’m now even more excited to continue this little project and follow where it leads.
Need Even More Power?
Medium ran a story about the history of Power Records, with a bit of a hip-hop bent. They were apparently a fertile ground for sampling. Who knew?
There’s also an older blog that seems like an exhaustive repository of everything Power Records if you are looking for a rabbit hole to explore.
Of course, many of the old Power Records stories are available to watch/listen on YouTube, uploaded by fans.
As a children of the 1980s, my buddy Jon and I have far too much useless pop culture in our head. In an attempt to let some of it out, we’ve started a podcast called Making the Grade where we’ll discuss all the things that shaped who we are today. We’ll tackle topics like horror movies, video games, discovering music, discovering girls, mix tapes, and movies so bad they’re good.
That leads us to our very first episode, the 1987 cheese-tacular Steele Justice, starring Sensei Kreese (Martin Kove) and a boatload of B-C- and D-movie actors that are probably still too good for this movie. The producers threw in pretty much every 80s action movie stereotype – terrible one-liners, supercheese Frank Stallone-esque anthem, emotionally stunted lead character who cares for a pet snake, a spandex-clad music video, cocaine, uzis, beach workout montage with pink sweater and a mop handle, uncomfortable sexual tension between Steele and his best friend’s teenage daughter – it’s a veritable stew of batshit crazy and it fails spectacularly.
Jon and I could talk about this movie for weeks, if not months straight. Each scene is a perfectly realized helping of insanity, served with a sweaty (literally) side of Martin Kove. The original 35mm print of this needs to be preserved in the Smithsonian. But what did Jon and I really think? Does Steele Justice make the grade? Listen and find out!
About two weeks back I had a conversation with a friend of mine back in Boston, the elusive rapscallion known as Bob Danger. It went something like this:
BD: “Hey Pete, I came up with an idea and was wondering if you would -”
Me: “I’m in.”
It may or may not have happened exactly that way. Regardless, this Monday we proudly introduced the world to episode 1 of The Bobcast, our shiny new weekly podcast discussion of movies, pop culture and whatever topics that happen to strike our fancy. And we do like our fancies struck.
A vampire social outcast. One with buck teeth instead of fangs. Makes it a little difficult to bite people on the neck. A completely ridiculous idea, which is probably why Jon and I thought it was perfect. It also perfectly went over everyone’s head at the Halloween party Jon debuted the costume at. Oh well, we were sold.