Mastodon – White Walker 12″ Picture Disc

Look what just arrived at our KMA East offices today! We’re big fans of Game Of Thrones, around here, and y’all know I’m a big Mastodon fan, so this was a natural acquisition.

 

And the music itself? Super-cool build, I love the feel. And the a capella version is… quite something… Here, try them yourself!

Cool collectible AND it’s pretty to look at!

Score!

 

The Sadies In Concert Volume One

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 15

IT’S EPIC FRICKIN’ REVIEW TIME, FOLKS!!

In looking up this record, I noticed that there’s no easy place on the internet to get accurate and complete track listings, album sources, and guest players on these tracks. So, as a public service, I have done my best to include as much information as I can, here (below, after my blathering).

Alright, brace yourselves!

First off, let me just say I love the Sadies. So much great music, and so uniquely themselves in sound and attack. I just love it. So, this one was a no-brainer. It was sitting right at the front of a row of discs on the shelves at BMV, a mere $7.99 for 2CDs. As you read on, you’ll see just how awesome it all is, and how criminally under-priced this package was!

Recorded live at Lee’s Palace in Toronto, February 3 & 4th, 2006, this set contains amazing songs and a long list of guest artists, enough to make you drool…

Check it outBob Egan, Bruce Good, Brian Good, Larry Good, Margaret Good, Garth Hudson, Kelly Hogan, Heavy Trash: Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray, Andre Ethier, Jon Langford (Mekons), Neko Case, Paul Rigby, Gary Louris (Jayhawks), Mike Bulington, Rick White, Greg Keelor, Jim Cuddy, Bob Packwood, Bazil Donovan, Maud Hudson, and Gavin Brown…

And they’re playing songs off the Sadies’ own records, and well as albums by Neko Case, Heavy Trash, Flat Duo Jets, Canadian Squires, The Band, The Jayhawks, Pink Floyd, The Unintended, Blue Rodeo, Roger Miller, and The Mekons…

And several tracks here are previously unreleased!

Strap yourself in, folks, as I wade my way through all the brilliance…

CD1 (21 tracks)

This disc concerns itself with Sadies tracks from their own albums. I don’t own them all, so can’t really tell you how they compare to the studio tracks, but the live versions kick ass.

Cheat’s a great western instrumental at a quick clip. Why Be Curious? is pure Sadies doing mid-tempo Blue Rodeo, yet still sounding inimitably like themselves! In fact, going forward, any time I mention sounding like another band, they do sound like that, but also themselves. Cool? Cool.

1000 Cities Falling Apart Pt.1 is classic old school country with those great low vocals and that western movie soundtrack sound. Rat Creek is instrumental country surf, Song Of The Chief Musician Pt.2 rocks 50s-style with that sweet twang. Love the crash ending.

16 Mile Creek blasts by at 1000mph, whoa! Taller Than The Pines is pure Buddy Holly country. Loved it. Lay Down Your Arms is another instrumental, like a country Misirlou. Higher Power takes off on a spiritual party track complete with banjo, Uncle Larry’s Breakdown keeps that banjo pickin’ like crazy and is pure hoe down dancin’ music. Eastern Winds has that high lonesome sound.

Stay A Little Longer quick-steps through another great hoe down dancer, double-time. Loved the lap steel solo. Northumberland West rocks out with that inimitable and incredible guitar work for which the Sadies are well-known. Actually, the guitars are all over this record, so good! Wow.

Lonely Guy’s sweet 50s sock hop slow dance sway is just gorgeous. The fuzzy guitar solo gives it great edge, and the vocals pick up on it. Brilliance! Snow Squad rocks out another instrumental with that great twang, then switches gears mid-track to become a bright and surf sound before combining the two feels by the end. Leave Me Alone has great full-on vocals growling a warning to steer clear while the band jams away with equal menace and joy behind him. What a track! Ridge Runner Reel eases us back gently… then kicks it up double-time! Then faster! And faster! And faster! What brilliant guitar playing, my goodness. Sit down, son, the grown-ups are showing us how it’s down.

1,000,002 Songs is a superb rocker about marital dischord, wonderful duet vocals. Dying Is Easy brings back that western swing with duet vocals that match the guitar line. An instrumental evocative of western movies and wide-open desert landscapes, Tiger Tiger kicks itself up into a stomper that’s built for dancing and partying. What a way to end CD1!

CD2 (20 tracks)

This disc features a metric ton of guests. So, rather than type out their names every time, feel free to check out the list of players after this disc’s summary. I mean, it’s crazy all the players who are here on CD2 (as if CD1 wasn’t awesome enough). Anyway, I’ll try to keep it briefer than listing all the time…

Back Off has soul shout crowd raising over a George Thorogood-style riff while the band gets introduced. Then he sings over that riff as it morphs into an early Stones-sounding tune. Justine Alright punks out ramones-style via Chuck Berry… I know! So cool. Talking Down keeps that early Stones bluesy 60s vibe.

American Pageant rocks up a bit while keeping the blues fuzzin’. Strange Birds brings back that gorgeous Blue Rodeo country sound. Home is a sweet country swing. Hold On, Hold On haunts us over a cool rocking surf country tune. Damn.

Evangeline is a glorious slow, shambling dancer. Tailspin Neil Young’s us with its own brand of rock. Oh my goodness this set is just owning it! Wow! A Good Flying Day country picks us through its shuffle. Lucifer Sam sounds like spy movie music, with some rock thrown into it via the Cramps, or something. Yeah!

Another Day is a cool tune but doesn’t quite fit this mix somehow. It’s an interesting wall of sound, though! All Passed Away brings things back a bit with its easy going rockin’ blues. The Story’s Often Told is a great country sweeper with those deep vocals. I love their tracks like this! You’re Everywhere picks up the pace a lot and country jams its way along with aplomb. This is just a great tune, of course. Within A Stone is another Blue Rodeo-styled tune, a slow dancer about life being tough. Gorgeous! Food, Water, Etc. has a cool blues stomp and shows off a lot of greatness. What a huge sing-along fun tune!

And then it’s the encore:

Jason Fleming is another swingin’ surf -like tune. Jason sounds like he needs to slow down haha! Her Love Made Me has that Jon Spencer Blues Explosion sound with country in the mix too. Memphis, Egypt (Eagle Bauer’s Rock & Roll) ends the night with big bashing rock-out guitar picking and a huge sound. The crowd cheering wildly at the end of this is absolutely justified!

In Sum:

No word of a lie (and I bought a lot of greatness in Taranna last trip), but this is easily THE SCORE of my Taranna foray. Honestly, mind = blown! I could go on endlessly about all of the greatness here, but in the interests of saving you having to read a zillion pages of my raving, I can sum it up like this:

Incredible playing.
Incredible songs.
Super-cool guest artists.
What a great live set.
OWN THIS!!!!

***

And now, here’s my bit as public service for the internets:

Album Source And Guest Information

CD1 (21 tracks)

Introduction
Cheat~
Why Be So Curious (Pt. III)*
1,000 Cities Falling (Pt. I)* [f. 1]
Rat Creek^
Song Of The Chief Musician (Pt. I)*
16 Mile Creek^
Taller Than The Pines**
Lay Down Your Arms%
Higher Power^ [f. 2,3,4,5]
Uncle Larry’s Breakdown** [f. 2,3,4]
Eastern Winds^ [f. the Good Family]
Stay A Little Longer (Duncan/Wills) [f. 1,2,3,4]
Northumberland West*
Lonely Guy@ [f. 6]
Snow Squad~ [f. 6]
Leave Me Alone& [f. 6]
Ridge Runner Reel! [f. 6]
1,000,002 Songs! [f. 6, 7]
Dying Is Easy~ [f. 5, 6, 7]
Tiger Tiger% [f. 2,5,7]

CD2 (20 tracks)

Back Off** [f. 8]
Justine Alright# [f. 8]
Talking Down^ [f. 8, 9]
American Pageant` [f. 10]
Strange Birds` [f. 1, 10]
Home- [f. 1,7,11]
Hold On, Hold On## [f. 7,11]
Evangeline!! [f. 6,11,12]
Tailspin@@ [f. 1,4,7,11,13]
Good Flying Day* [f. 13]
Lucifer Sam$$ [f. 13, 14]
Another Day%%** [f. 15,16]
All Passed Away%%** [f. 15,16]
The Story’s Often Told% [f. 1,16,17,18,19]
You’re Everywhere^^ [f. 1,16,17,18,19]
Within A Stone% [f. 1,5,16,17,18,19]
Food, Water, Etc.** [f. 1-20]
Jason Fleming&& [f. 6, 11]
Her Love Made Me** [f. 8]
Memphis, Egypt++ [f. 7, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 19, 21]

Guest Stars [f.]

1 Bob Egan
2 Bruce Good
3 Brian Good
4 Larry Good
5 Margaret Good
6 Garth Hudson
7 Kelly Hogan
8 Heavy Trash: Jon Spencer and Matt Verta-Ray
9 Andre Ethier
10 Jon Langford (Mekons)
11 Neko Case
12 Paul Rigby
13 Gary Louris (Jayhawks)
14 Mike Bulington
15 Rick White
16 Greg Keelor
17 Jim Cuddy
18 Bob Packwood
19 Bazil Donovan
20 Maud Hudson
21 Gavin Brown

Album Sources

~ Precious Moments
* Favourite Colours
^ Pure Diamond Gold
% Stories Often Told
! Tremendous Efforts
` Mayors Of The Moon
– My Uncle Used To Love Me But She Died
@ Flat Duo Jets – Lucky Eye
& Canadian Squires 7”
** previously unreleased
# Heavy Trash – Heavy Trash
## Neko Case – Fox Confessor Brings The Flood
!! Band – The Last Waltz
@@ Jayhawks – Rainy Day Music
$$ Pink Floyd – Piper At The Gates Of Dawn
%% The Unintended
^^ Blue Rodeo – Casino
&& Roger Miller – Decca 45rpm
++ Mekons – The Mekons Rock ’n’ Roll LP

Premier Guitar Magazine (August 2016)

It’s tradition for me to buy a magazine to read during our week at the beach. It’s pretty much the only time of the year I actually buy a magazine off the rack, anymore. Usually, I buy a Mac magazine, one full of tips and tricks and stuff I can try out when I get home.

This year, my eye was caught by this Premier Guitar magazine, with its main story on How To Buy A Used Amp: 7 Tips To Avoid Post-Purchase Blues. That seemed like useful information! I flipped through it in the store, and there was a ton of stuff that interested me. The Mac mag might have to wait for later in the week…

This issue has (in order):

– an ode to steel picks. I have one, and I agree they’re pretty damn cool,

– 20 new products coming soon, guitars, amps and pedals. I liked the Bill Kelliher LTD BK-600 with Dissonant Aggressor pickups (drools),

– Opening Notes live guitar specs with Charlotte Cooper (Subway), Claudio Sanchez (Coheed And Cambria), and Yngwie Malmsteen,

– Rig Rundowns (with pics!) with Justin Hawkins, Dan Hawkins and Frankie Poullain of The Darkness, and with Zakk Wylde,

– a piece about the 1958 Gibson Les Paul Custom,

– a reader letter about the worth of their Epiphone EA-28RVT Pathfinder amp from the 70s,

– a huge builder profile on the Hi-Tone amplifier company,

– studio and live tips and tricks interviews with East Bay Ray (Dead Kennedys), J. Mascis (Dinosaur Jr.), Lou Barlow (Dinosaur Jr./Sebadoh), Garbage, The Kills, and Woods,

– Pete Thorn’s stories of where the guitar can take you in life (meeting Muhammed Ali, and Barack Obama!),

– an ode to vintage acoustic guitars as enablers,

– basic audio editing: slicing and splicing,

– string trees on Fender headstocks,

– the main article, on How To Buy A Used Amp,

– a spotlight on Sonny T (Prince),

– Searching For Resonance (bass guitar),

– Master The Fundamentals Of Lap Steel (bar control, muting, intonation, slurs, and vibrato),

– delay vs. reverb,

– rewiring a Fender Mustang, and troubleshooting a finicky Mesa/Boogie Maverick,

– studio monitors under $500,

– Quick Hits (more pedals and guitars, with ratings),

– profiles on the Laney GH50R-212, and Supro 1695Y Black Magick amplifiers (with ratings),

– profiles on the Eddie Van Halen EVH 5150 III LBX, the Peavey MimiMEGA & Headliner 410, and the Genzler Magellan 800 & 112T heads (with ratings),

– PHRED Instruments profile (guitars inspired by Dead and Phish originals),

– pedal reviews of the Matthews Effects Astronomer, the Walrus Audio Vanguard Dual Phase, and the Chase Bliss Audio Spectre Analog TZ (with ratings),

– recommendations for bands or recordings with prominent pedal steel (by readers and editors),

– a cool piece about questioning yourself as to why you need to spend that much on an expensive guitar, and finally

– how to mix players on stage to get the best sound (with tips on how Ray Charles and Prince used to do it)…

Whew!

Hell, even all the ads are about new guitars, amps, and pedals that look appealing.

I never did buy the Mac mag, as I got sunk into this awesome guitar magazine all week.

The Tragically Hip, Kingston 2016-08-20

Well, that’s that.

My lovely wife and I sat here and streamed the Tragically Hip’s final show on the CBC’s free broadcast. It was a rollercoaster, it was a blast, it was love.

Sure, Gord mucked up a couple of times, and sure, there were sound issues, and the camera was looking for cute girls in the crowd when it should have been on the stage for big moments. Gord even took a moment to rant politically and endorse our Prime Minister, which I could’ve maybe left out but, hey, it was a Hip concert. Warts and all.

And what a show! Three encores. My word. Have a look at the setlist, and then I’ll continue:

Setlist:

Fifty-Mission Cap
Courage (for Hugh MacLennan)
Wheat Kings
At the Hundredth Meridian
In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
What Blue
Tired as Fuck
Machine

Intermission (Thunder storm visuals & effects) 

My Music at Work
Lake Fever
Toronto #4
Putting Down
Twist My Arm
Three Pistols
Fiddler’s Green
Little Bones (Extended outro)
The Last of the Unplucked Gems (Extended intro without Gord Downie)

Something On
Poets
Bobcaygeon
Fireworks

Encore 1:

New Orleans Is Sinking
Boots or Hearts
Blow at High Dough

Encore 2:

Nautical Disaster
Scared
Grace, Too

Encore 3:

Locked in the Trunk of a Car
Gift Shop
Ahead by a Century

***

Truly, a beautiful set. A highlight for me was Fiddler’s Green. I used to sing that for my son when he was a baby, to get him to sleep. It felt like home.

So now we have to look at our lives (potentially) going forward without more Hip music. It’s a weird thought. All of the build up has led to this, a moment we knew was coming but didn’t quite grasp as real. They’ve always been there. The decades of solid records, stellar shows, and just being true gentlemen artists as we all know they’ve been. Their legacy is intact. Indelible.

Thank you, Tragically Hip. I’m still listening.

You’ve shown us the way. Now we live it for ourselves.

We’re Baaaaack!

Hey everyone, we’re back from our annual week at the cottage. Was it awesome? Ha, does Lars Ulrich chew gum like a cow?

First off, thanks to all who wished us fun times in the comments section of my last post, notifying you of my absence. I could respond THANKS! to all of you individually, but I am beach-tired and this seems easier.

We did have some rain that lived up to the adage that when it rains it pours (holy hell it was torrential), but we don’t let a little thing like rain stop us from doing fun things.

Our kids, of course, are the perfect age (7 and 5) for tearing up the beach like nobody’s business. They really, truly went for it. Both of them are light years ahead of where they were last year in terms of confidence in the water (thank you, swimming lessons), and no one got any sunburns all week (incredible, really), so it was damn near perfect.

We had many adventures. I’ve put together a little set of shite photies of some things from this trip. What does it have to do with music? Nothing! Well, I did get the new Gojira album (Magma) because my town seems unable to keep it in stock. So that counts, right? Yes! GOJIRA!!  \m/  \m/

SLCR #255: 54-40 (August 19, 2016)

I turn 40 in two- wait. That won’t work twice. And it’s 20 minutes to midnight anyway.

This was a last-minute decision for me. I had forgotten the show was even happening until it popped up on Facebook a little while ago, and I only bought my ticket a few hours before the show. I like 54-40 well enough and all, but I saw them a few years ago and described it as the most just-a-show show that I’d maybe ever seen. I really wasn’t sure that I needed to pay to see that again. Plus Mika didn’t feel like going, even when good seats opened up on the day of the show.

But then I was looking them up online, which can be a bit tricky, because if you google 54-40, you get 14. But I still found their website and it described this show as acoustic. “Featuring intimate and unplugged versions of 54-40’s greatest hits performed as you’ve never heard them before.” That would make sense – their newest album is a collection of acoustic reworkings of their biggest hits. I haven’t heard it, but Aaron says it’s good. This intrigued me, as it would be a different show from the last time I saw them. On the other hand, the last show dragged until it got to the more high-energy second half. Should I risk the $37.13? I asked Aaron, which meant I already knew what I wanted the answer to be, because what was he going to say? No?

So I got my ticket, rushed through a dinner of Indian food while finishing off the Weird Al review, and made my way to the casino. I was up in the balcony. The show wasn’t sold out, and I had an entire row to myself. Actually, several rows as pretty much everything behind me was also open. This is a fine way to watch a show.

Right at 8:00, some local radio guy introduced the band and we were underway. The first thing I must note is that there was nothing acoustic at all about this show. This was a straight up rock show, and oddly (considering last time), the crowd was into it right from the start. By the second song, there were people standing up at the front of the stage, with more joining with every song. By the end of it, the people at the first few rows of tables wouldn’t have been able to see anything and those tables were largely abandoned.

I didn’t take notes about the set list, but I’m pretty sure they opened with Easy to Love and from there, it was all hits, all the time. I didn’t keep track of the setlist, but if you know a 54-40 song, they played it. I mean, not if you’re some kind of superfan or something. But if you know only the radio songs, like me? They didn’t leave you wanting much. I Go Blind, Since When, Baby Ran, Crossing a Canyon, Lies to Me, Love You All, One Day in Your Life, Ocean Pearl, Nice to Luv You, Crossing a Canyon, One Gun, She-La, Radio Luv Song, Blame Your Parents, Casual Viewin’… it turns out that 54-40 had way more hits than I realized, and I knew pretty much everything.

I guess there was one song that wasn’t a hit – a new song from their upcoming album. The song was based on a Winston Churchill quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” The song was probably called something like Keep Walking, while lead singer Neil Osborne offered the suggested title of “Grizzled, Chiseled, and the Wine is Fine” for the new album; about this, I can only say it received the reaction it deserved. Interpret that as you will.

Questionable album title aside, the new song was good, and the whole show was great – much better than last time out. There were big singalongs for Ocean Pearl and Casual Viewin’, but there was much more energy from both the band and the fans as compared to before. I don’t know what changed in the crowd, but whatever it was, it was there right from the start. It’s amazing the difference that the atmosphere makes. It created this loop where the band was having more fun because the crowd was really into it, and because the band was enjoying themselves, the crowd got MORE into it. It’s too bad the show ended after 90 minutes (plus a two-song encore) because we could have been on the verge of discovering some sort of perpetual energy machine.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Greg MacPherson w/Dan Holbrow & Leo Keiser (September 1)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat w/Oh Pep! (October 5)
• I Mother Earth featuring Edwin w/The Standstills (October 8)
• Sarah Slean with the Regina Symphony (October 22)
• Bush w/The Dead Deads (October 27)

SLCR #254: “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14, 2016)

I turn 40 in two days.

This is an excellent way to start a concert review. For one, it ensures that I have to finish it today instead of letting it sit for another week or two. Also, it advises you, the reader, that there will be very little distracting music talk getting in the way of me nattering on about myself, which is what you’re all here for.

This fact is also relevant because these concert tickets were my 40th birthday present to myself. I’ve seen a ton of concerts this year, but this one was special – I forked over a not-insignificant amount of cash to get the Mandatory Czar VIP tickets – not only do you get premium seats, but also a bag of stuff and – most importantly – a meet-and-greet with Weird Al himself. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, which is why I made up the “40th birthday present” justification after the fact. I needed something. These were the most expensive concert tickets I’ve ever bought.

Which is a questionable purchase to make, you know? I love Weird Al, but I also know how his shows go. You have a good idea of what he’s going to play, because there are so many costume changes and special sets that things can only vary so much from tour to tour. If you’ve been once, you kind of know what you’re getting.

Though to be fair, the VIP tickets promised some new experiences. There were two tiers of VIP tickets; ours (the pricier ones) came with the meet-and-greet, but both had the gift bag and also the pre-show experience. And that’s two sentences in a row ended with “experience,” but that really is the best word for it. They let people in at 5:30, but we didn’t get there until after 7:00 as I didn’t think it would really be my thing. They gave us our stuff bags at the door – nothing too exciting. There was a flag, a lanyard, a beret, and a copy of the Mad magazine from last year that Al edited. We walked into the hall, and right into the middle of a costume contest and lip-sync battle. There was an Amish guy, some Jedi, lots of tinfoil hats, and some girls in Weird Al costumes who gave me really conflicted feelings. There were also some costumes where their relevance was… dubious. Either these were some deep references that I didn’t understand, or else it was just random dressing-up.

At the back of the room, there was a small touring museum with a selection of props from videos, lots of pictures, things like that. That stuff was really neat to see. There were snacks set out, a cash bar, and a merchandise stand so you could shop for your Weird Al paraphernalia without being interrupted by the masses. I wanted an action figure but it was cash-only and I had brought none, so I had to hit up an ATM later and shop at the normal souvenir stand like some sort of god damned commoner.

We were only there for a few minutes before the festivities wrapped up, concluding with the host tearing around the room singing Leggy Blonde (which is decidedly not a Weird Al song, but I guess it does say “goodbye” a lot) and knocking things over. We took this as our cue to leave so Mika took a picture of me with the Wheel of Fish, and then went off to our seats. The VIP tickets had us front row, just slightly right of centre. No complaints there.

Weird Al may be wacky but he is super serious about starting a show on time. 8:00 on the nose. I know it’s the same show from night to night – you can’t mix it up too much when it’s that choreographed – so I don’t want to go into too many details here. The structure of the show itself was as I remembered – lots of songs from the newest album (Mandatory Fun), lots of classics (I wonder if Canadian Idiot gets added to the tour specifically for the Canadian shows?), lots of video clips between songs while the costume changes were happening. Hearing the new songs done live was cool, and like before, there was a medley with a mix of songs from all through his career so you could hear things you might not expect. This time, there was also an acoustic set partway through that offered new versions of some of his classics. This was new to me and it was a great way to mix things up. He’s been playing some of these songs for over 30 years so it’s probably nice for him and his band to do something different too.

Anyway, this was a delightful time. Al was in fine form – I’m pretty sure he ages at one-third the speed of the rest of us – and his band was excellent as ever. Sitting front row adds to the experience, as Al once again serenaded Mika during Wanna Be Ur Luvr, putting his foot up on her chair and singing “Have you seen my picture? It’s in the dictionary, under ‘kablam’.” We also got splattered with water during Smells Like Nirvana when Al threw the contents of his cup out into the crowd. And during Fat, Al’s cries of “hooooooooo” drew an appearance from Santa Claus, who got punched, sending “teeth” across the stage. One of Santa’s teeth hit me in the ankle, which is not a sentence I’ve had much reason to say before now.

And while the show was familiar, there was a lot of new material – not only were there the new songs, but many of the video clips used during the show were new to me, and lots of the classic clips had been retired. Al has had a renaissance of sorts in the past few years, with Mandatory Fun being the first comedy album to hit #1 in 50 years, and the first one ever to debut at #1. Plus he’s been the bandleader on Comedy Bang Bang and done lots of TV guest spots and voiceover work, so there was a lot of material to draw from.

Once the show was done, after the Star Wars songs (he always ends with the Star Wars songs), it was time to meet the man. About 50 people had the purple VIP badges that allowed for the meet-and-greet. We got the rules (have your camera or phone ready, have your item to get signed ready, decide beforehand if you want individual pictures or a group shot). The host said he’d be the one taking the pictures, and that we could trust him because he used to work for Sears before he got fired. As someone who’s been paying close attention to the goings-on at his local Sears Portrait Studio, this joke did not fill me with confidence. Search Instagram for #searsyqr for more details. Anyway, once that was done, we were led to a side area of the centre. There was a bit of a wait; occasionally, someone would leave to use the bathroom, and then disappoint everyone upon their return. Not every door that opens leads to “Weird Al” Yankovic. Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers, who made an on-stage appearance during the Star Wars songs, stood behind the table to serve as a backdrop for photos with Al. Some other Stormtroopers wandered the line and chatted with people, posed for pictures, that kind of thing.

Before too long, Al showed up. They moved through the line at a pretty good clip. I got my phone ready, and I decided to just get the concert tickets signed (in part because I’d already taken all our stuff to the car before the show started). Al posed for a picture with us, signed our tickets, and I got to thank him for the show and for all the music over the years. Not only have I been a big fan since childhood, but he comes across like a really down-to-earth normal guy. I’ve never heard of anything that suggests otherwise.

And with that, we were out the side door and back to the car. Would I do it again? That’s a tricky question. I cannot stress enough that these tickets were really expensive and by most anyone’s estimation, buying them was a really dumb idea. I could live without the pre-show deal and the bag of stuff – I’m almost 40, I’m not going to wear a Weird Al hat or hang a Weird Al flag (and I already had the magazine because Aaron’s got my back). But we had great seats for a great show, and I got to meet one of my favourite celebrities ever, if only for a minute. That part of it was really cool. Ultimately, I certainly have no regrets that we did it once. I don’t know if I’d do it again for the next Al show, though. I had my moment with him, I got what I wanted, I’m good. For someone else? Maybe. For the right band at the right price, especially if they come with great tickets. But there just aren’t that many celebrities I really care about meeting. Watching from afar is usually good enough. This might be a one-off – but it was worth it.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• 54-40 (August 19)
• Greg MacPherson w/Dan Holbrow & Leo Keiser (September 1)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat w/Oh Pep! (October 5)
• I Mother Earth featuring Edwin w/The Standstills (October 8)
• Sarah Slean with the Regina Symphony (October 22)
• Bush w/The Dead Deads (October 27)

And Now A Word From Our Sponsors

Hey folks, Happy Sunday!

This post is to inform you that I will be off for this week. It’s our annual time at the cottage! As my KMA brother James has so rightly put it before: VACATION!

In previous years, I had it together enough to have posts lined up for the whole week, so that content was uninterrupted. After all, I know how incredibly important these sizzling and scintillating KMA posts are to your daily lives. Sadly, this year, it’s just been too busy to accomplish everything else and have enough listening done to keep the KMA topped up a week in advance.

But hey, you never know. The elusive James might pop in with another post of quality and substance (which is more than you ever get from me).

We’ll be back here next weekend, so regular posts should resume shortly after that. In fact, I plan on taking the iPod with me, loaded up with all the stuff I’ve intended to hear (haha as if my 120 GB iPod even holds that much), so if I can get some listening time, I’ll jot down ideas and then type them up when we get back.

Have a great week, folks. I’ll think of you as we enjoy the beach, tearing around with the kids. There are many sand castles in our future. It’s a tough life.

I know waiting is tough, but you’ll be OK!

Until next week, GIVE ‘ER!

ISIS – Mosquito Control

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 14/25

By now it should be well-established that I am a big fan of the work of this metal band, Isis. Their brand of heavy metal music hits me just right.

I’ve made a hobby of collecting up whatever of this band’s output I can find. I have most of it, now, I think. But this first release was elusive to me, in the shoppes, until I found it at Sonic Boom for $7.99, during this most recent trip. An instant purchase, for me! And well-played, as I learned when I got home and looked it up. On the Canadian Amazon, copies go from $40.16 – $103.32. If you want it together with the Red Sea release, it ranges from $41.95 – $329.35 (I already have the Red Sea, so this is moot for me). On Discogs, it was a much more reasonable, $16-$20, but I still think my $8 wins the day for a 4-song release!

Knowing their full length releases like Panopticon and Oceanic much better, I wondered what this early EP would sound like. Let’s find out!

Poison Eggs leads us in, building prettily into a menacing thing that means to crush the skull. By the time the vocals arrive, you know it’s a pummelling! The bottom end on this is huge. Whoa. Instant love!

Life Under The Swatter picks up where Poison Eggs left off, the snare drum taking on a machine gun burst approach, the guitars chugging heavier. When it reaches its apogee, it’s a real blast of heavy. Of course, there’s a breakdown in the middle – it’s needed, or this track would crush weaker mortals, hell it’s even a little jazzy, but it’s all of a piece and its fantastic. The heavy here will ruin your home’s foundations. Fuck yes.

Hive Destruction builds through some weirdness into another amazingly heavy riff. These guys were masters of this art form. This one made me want to drive at top speed and break things as I went. The vocals come unhinged just before it turns damn bluesy heavy. Oh hot damn.

Relocation Swarm, the longest track at 11:46 in length, brings back that adamant snare over the droning heavy guitars. Then we’re off into heavy land again. Oh man. We do a bit of a drum break, but this is clearly a band going for broke, now. The first three songs were like an intro and a beginning and real work of tearing down the walls. By the time we reach this track, all the chips are on the table, and they’re going for goddamn broke. The whole shebang will be rubble by the time they’re done! Sadly, the last four minutes are used up with a droning deconstruction of everything already built in this EP. I get why, the feedback and noise make for a calming down… but with this much invested, it does take way, way, waaaaay too long for the track to die. If it had ended at 6:50, it would be a masterpiece.

In Sum:

Holy shit, I loved this. What an EP! These four tracks are a band debuting their sound, and going for fucking broke. I’d say they succeeded in getting attention, and then some. Pure excellence.

Weezer – Maladroit

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 13/25

I’ve gotta be honest, I don’t really know from Weezer. I never connected with them when they were big and popular, and have never really sought them out. I know some of their big singles, that’s about it, haven’t ever bought any albums before this. But my buddy Brian is a big fan, and some of the bloggers in our awesome community have mentioned a love of them, so when I found this one in the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV, I snagged it. I don’t even know anything about it, or where it fits in the Weezer story, but why not, right? Right!

Wiki says:

Maladroit is the fourth studio album by the American alternative rock band Weezer, released on May 14, 2002, through Geffen Records. Self-produced by the band themselves, the album is the first Weezer album to feature bassist Scott Shriner, following the departure of former bassist Mikey Welsh in 2001. The album features heavy metal riffs, uncommon to Weezer’s previous releases.

Mmm heavy metal riffs… I like the sound of that…

Maladroit, for the record, is an adjective, defined as “ineffective or bungling; clumsy..” Somehow, without even knowing much about these guys, I’m doubting this album will be clumsy or ineffective. Let’s find out…

American Gigolo rocks with crunchy guitars and that pop punk grunge hybrid sound. A good album opener. Dope Nose keeps the crunchy going and is an incredibly catchy tune. Of course it was a single. Keep Fishin’ is pure Green Day, wow it’s uncanny*. It was also a single.

*Even the cover art somehow reminded me of Insomniac. But anyway.

Take Control goes for the big classic rawk sound and manages it mightily. It goes from quiet and chunky to wall of sound with a cool riff. Nice. Death And Destruction is the slow song, but it’s still heavy and loud. I quite liked it! Slob builds into a heavy chugger that has pretty good lift.

I should note by now that listening to this record is a little like listening to pop punk and metal made by people who really understand the fine points of pop radio number ones. There’s that sensibility to the whole thing.

Burndt Jamb is a funky soul jam, and even when the heavier guitars took over here and there, I liked this one a lot! Space Rock is exactly that, with lots of harmony vocals. Another wall of sound, this one just keeps blasting away. Slave takes up the mantle of Space Rock, but then shifts into a happy Sloan-like rocker. And from that reference you can infer I liked this one well enough.

Fall Together chugs heavily, guitars fairly burying the vocals and sounding quite a bit like other songs we’ve already heard. Great riff, though. Possibilities is more Weezer-does-Green Day, without Billie Joe’s snotty brat vocal stylings. I liked the backing vocals, nice touch. Love Explosion sounds, to me, like Weezer loudly trying to emulate Guided By Voices circa Do The Collapse. This is not a bad thing, it’s just something I noticed. And finally, December rockingly swings us out with a song that should probably be a slow and lovely song but is played with heavy riffing guitars and loud everything.

In Sum:

If this isn’t their usual sound, it oughta be. As I said above, there’s a real pop sensibility to the rocking out that they do here. I have no idea where this one stands amongst the Weezer cognoscenti, as I never looked it up. But I heard plenty to love, and I will definitely be playing this one again.

PS: There’s lots more about this record and how it was made, etc, RIGHT HERE.

Ron Sexsmith – Retriever

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 12/25

Ron Sexsmith is one of those artists I’ve always meant to get to, having heard nothing but good about him for years. I love the singer-songwriter thing, and all reports were that he’s one to have in your collection, for sure.

And here’s how connected to my collection I am – I bought this album in the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV, an easy grab, thinking it was going to be my first Sexsmith record. I got home, went to alphabetize it into the collection, and realized I already own another of his CDs, Other Songs. How long has that been sitting there? Man, I really need to update my info, because I had no memory of this CD being here!

On the upside, I have two Ron Sexsmith CDs!

Now, Retriever. I loved it. It’s almost dreamy, drifting along with great pop sensibilities but keeping all closer to the chest, like it’s an intimate house party, or something. Does that make sense? The songs are so smart, perfectly realized. At first first blush, some might say it’s non-offensive, unmemorable music. But they wouldn’t have been listening closely enough.

This is such a rich album. It’s layered, almost like the Beatles. Strings, piano, guitar, all these elements blended together into a beautiful, lush, melodic soundscape that lets his storytelling shine. It’s intimate, like he’s singing right to you, and there’s not a weak song in the bunch. And the guitar solos! Great work.

So many little things that will turn up with repeat listens. With the good headphones, I could even pick out the creaking in the background of Tomorrow In Her Eyes. Listen closely, and you will be rewarded! You’ll also wonder how he does it, and wish you could write songs like this yourself.

In Sum: 

My sincere apologies, Ron. I should’ve been listening to you ages ago! And I’ll be getting to Other Songs very soon.

The Tracks: Hard Bargain / Imaginary Friends / Not About To Lose / Tomorrow In Her Eyes / From Now On / For The Driver / Wishing Wells / Whatever It Takes / Dandelion Wine / Happiness / How On Earth / I Know It Well

SLCR #253: Regina Folk Festival (August 5-7, 2016)

SATURDAY, 3:40 p.m.

Here we go again. Let’s see if I can talk about 15 bands in fewer words than it took me to talk about one.

I was honestly not super excited for the folk festival this year. The first band they announced was the Cat Empire, who I saw in Calgary a few years ago and enjoyed, but the rest of the lineup didn’t do a ton for me. Then Ry Cooder dropped out; to be honest, I know way less about him than I probably should, but I know the guy is a legend and I was looking forward to seeing him for that reason alone.

We considered getting rid of our tickets – we buy early when they’re cheap, which makes it easy to sell them later at cost if we need to unload them – but ultimately decided to go. Mika made the point that if you don’t support (what you see as) the weaker years, they won’t have money to bring you (what you see as) the better years. Fair enough. And sometimes acts you don’t know about can take you by surprise. Like last year. Lisa Leblanc? Never heard of her. Who cares? And then she tore it the heck up and was awesome and I’m sad that she hasn’t been back out this way since then. So there’s hope.

Each day, the gates open at 5:00, which on Friday is a bit of a pain for someone who works normal hours. I’m done at 4:02 (union reasons) but I figured Mika wouldn’t be able to leave the office until at least 5:00. After considering a dozen options, none of them ideal, I decided to drive my lawn chairs to the office on Thursday night so I could easily take them and get in the festival line on Friday. “Easily” being a relative term; the chairs are comfortable, but they’re also mighty solid. But whatever; I dragged them from the office, through the mall, then got to the park. I set up one of the chairs and had a nice sitdown, listening to podcasts and catching Pokémon until they let us in.

Walking up, I was surprised to see that there wasn’t much of a line. I got there at 4:15 and was on the corner of Scarth and Victoria. Last year, Mika made it to the line at 3:30 and was a block further back. It certainly seemed like there were fewer people in the park this year, at least on the Friday. The food lines were shorter too.

I was inside with the chairs set up by the time Mika made it downtown. I got our usual spot, though a few rows closer than normal. Taking a cue from Jeff, I took a picture of the weekend schedule and set it as my phone’s lock screen. So handy!

The Friday night host was children’s entertainer Al Simmons. I will say that lots of people enjoyed his shtick. I will also say that I do not understand those people. At one point I joked that he was my second-favourite performer of the evening and everyone else was tied for first. During one particularly interminable bit, a friend messaged me that Simmons was dipping into third place. Solid enough joke but absolute gold-star timing.

The festival was kicked off by Terra Lightfoot, who we saw open for Blue Rodeo earlier this year. I liked her well enough then and a few people I know said they preferred her to Blue Rodeo at that show. I hope those folks were at this festival because she was great here – almost like she was holding back last time. Great songs and a likeable, charismatic personality with lots of energy. As one of only a handful of artists I knew on this year’s festival, I was really looking forward to her set and she exceeded my expectations.

The first teaser was Twin Peaks, a duo from BC. I question the wisdom of choosing a band name that will be so tricky to search, but they were charming and fun so I’ll just put the link to http://twinpeaksmusic.ca/ here and now the world doesn’t need Google anymore. It feels good to know that I fixed the internet forever. They’re playing a full show at 3:00 on Sunday and I’m thinking about checking it out. I mean, let’s be honest, I never get around to the daytime stages unless Hawksley Workman is there, but I’m considering it.

Next up was IsKwé, a First Nations performer from Winnipeg who performed what I would describe as hip-hop-influenced pop. I thought this was pretty interesting; in particular, I really enjoyed the first song. She also covered a Björk song (Army of Me), though I don’t know from Björk and didn’t recognize the song. Mika knows these things. She should write these. Though I think I enjoyed this set more than she did so maybe not.

Somewhere in here, I got Indian food. I suspect I will write this sentence two more times in the coming days. Mika went for falafel, and later on, we split a box of salted caramels. Kettle corn truck, I’ll see you later.

The next teaser was by Twin Bandit, another pair of ladies from BC. I wonder if Twin Peaks are their mortal enemies? Or maybe best friends? OR BOTH? Someone write me some fan fiction about two bands you’ve never heard of.

DAMMIT I am out of time and will have to finish the Friday night wrap-up later. I skipped ahead and wrote the last part first, so uh here it is I guess:

The first night’s headliners were The Head and the Heart. I knew the name but no songs, so Mika played me some. They were pleasant, if aggressively dull – so much so that not only did I not remember a note ten minutes later, I think I was actively forgetting them as they were playing. Point being, I wasn’t really looking forward to them. I can tell you that live, they were much better than what she played for me. However, this still didn’t interest us much and we packed it in halfway through. The screaming girls down at front would surely have a different opinion of this performance. Maybe I am a stubborn old poop or maybe they just weren’t for me. Or maybe anyone would have struggled to follow the one-two punch of Ginkgoa and the Cat Empire.

=======

MONDAY, 8:25 p.m.

Okay, my plan of writing this in short, reasonable chunks over the weekend didn’t pan out.

Also not panning out: my plan of getting downtown in time on Sunday for the Twin Peaks set. Unsurprising. Oh well, I bought their CDs instead so that’s probably better for them anyway.

Feeling that I had to keep one promise, I did indeed eat Indian food all three nights. Specifically, the samosa platter with curried chickpeas and a Diet Coke. I mixed it up dessert-wise, though. Gotta expand those horizons. With mini-donuts.

Given that chronological order has already gone to hell, I suppose I could talk about Sunday now, since it’s freshest in my mind. I don’t have much to say about it, though. The mainstage acts were, in order, the Barr Brothers, Frazey Ford, Bobby Bazini, the Strumbellas, and the Mavericks. You know how sometimes I see a show and it’s good, but I don’t have much to say about it? That was all of Sunday night for me. Nothing was bad. Bazini was delightfully funky. The Strumbellas had fun banter and I enjoyed their sing-along clap-along tunes more than I was expecting to, especially the one song that I knew (it’s their one song everyone knows, even if you think you don’t) (even you). IsKwé was our host for the evening and she did a mighty fine job. We didn’t stick around for the very end – we left about halfway through the Mavericks – but this was all fine. Not the most memorable evening I’ve spent at the festival, but there was nothing wrong with it either.

As I mentioned above, that was all kind of my opinion about the Head and the Heart too. They were mightily upstaged by the bands that came before them. Ginkgoa, in particular, were the highlight of the festival for me. From France, they played an updated take on swing music, adding in some modern pop twists. The crowd loved these guys, going from “who?” to “OMG” over the course of their set – to the point that there were boos when they said it would be their last song. I bought their EP – it’s not exactly the one that’s featured at http://ginkgoa.bandcamp.com/releases. I haven’t listened to either yet to see if they’re entirely different; if they are, I’ll get the online version too.

Two years running that French speakers stole the show. I should have tried harder in grade school.

The next main stage act was the Cat Empire, who played another very energetic batch of tunes, though I thought the restricted length of their set (roughly an hour) may have hurt them a bit. They’d go on these extended jams that were fun enough, but when you only have an hour, I don’t know that you have time to do that too often. But whatever, I’m nitpicking. This was very well received and the one-two punch of Ginkgoa and the Cat Empire made Friday the best night of the three.

Before the Head and the Heart, I went in search of a Diet Coke but instead found the T+A Vinyl & Fashion tent in the marketplace, so I dug through their crates and found a 12″ of Love Junk by the Pursuit of Happiness for $7. This delights me.

Okay, so I covered Friday, then Sunday, then back to Friday. Time for Saturday. And I legitimately almost wrote “Thursday,” which would make this a recap of me writing my Tragically Hip review. Or, more likely, my procrastination techniques (usually logic puzzles).

The host for Saturday night was the artistic director of the Broadway Theatre in Saskatoon. He did fine work and I will note that his job title is not “professional entertainer.”

Additional amateur entertainment was provided by the family in front of us. Specifically, the grandma, who brought a bag of dried apricots (“DON’T STEP ON THE FOOD” she said) and who loudly told one of the grandkids “Come sit by me. Mama wants to drink.” But alas, my fond memories of them were stained when they went home, leaving all their trash behind on the lawn like idiot garbage people despite the numerous bins all over the park. Fred Penner’s gonna hunt you down, grandma.

It is interesting to note that if someone was littering, letting their friends cut into very long lines, or obstinately parking their lawn chairs in the middle of the walkway and then getting upset if you tried to use said walkway for its intended purpose (hypothetically), it was a senior citizen. There were lots of older folks who were perfectly pleasant, though. Maybe festivals like this just bring out people who don’t normally go to concerts and thus don’t know how to behave? Or maybe I’m just grasping at straws, desperately attempting to delude myself into thinking that I’m still young.

Anyway. The first two main stage performers were Ayrad (Moroccan music from Quebec – and NOT my Sociology professor) and Boogat (Latin music, also from Quebec). These were both enjoyable and not at all like what I usually listen to. Again, not a ton to say about either of them; sometimes it’s just nice to kick back and enjoy something a little different.

The next act was supposed to be Ry Cooder, Ricky Skaggs, & Sharon White, but instead wound up being Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder. So it goes. Earlier that day, my dad said he’d be interested in my opinion of Skaggs, who he described as very talented but also a “hardcore conservative.” Coming from my dad, this says something. Anyway, I wondered how receptive a folk festival would be to that kind of talk, but apart from one “bluegrass matters” aside that I rolled my eyes at, politics were a non-issue. But yeah, this was really good. Kentucky Thunder (guitars, banjo, fiddle, bass) were amazing musicians.

Next up was Bettye LaVette. This is yet another one where I am not informed enough to say anything of value, but what the hell, if you were going to tune out over that, you’d have done it years ago. People loved this lady. They cheered when she said her age (70! I should be half as active then) (or now). They cheered every songwriter she mentioned working with, including Dolly Parton and Lucinda Williams. I cheered when some girl went WOOOOO and LaVette said “I’ll give you a quarter if you never do that again. That’s piercing. But you’re very beautiful.” So that was fun. And she sings real good too. I’ve got all the hot takes tonight.

Finally, we had the Sam Roberts Band. I did not figure this would happen. Two years ago, Roberts was scheduled to headline the Friday night of the festival when, in his words, “the world came to an end.” The lightning shut down the festival, and the rain made everyone flee, but it was the plow wind that ripped off sections of my friend’s roof and caused another friend to walk home over downed power lines. Maybe not a good idea. Don’t do that.

Anyway, we’ve had lots of late night storms this summer, so when I saw Roberts was on last, I didn’t think it would actually happen. Somehow, it did – we actually had beautiful weather for all three nights – so Roberts and his band and the fans all got to settle some unfinished business.

Oddly, I’d never actually seen Sam Roberts before, which seems amazing considering he’s been a big deal in Canadian music for 15 years now. Though in all fairness, I was never a superfan; never disliked the guy, but never quite understood why everyone else seemed to like him SO much. I think that maybe this was the perfect Sam Roberts show for me – a handful of new songs and deep cuts, but this was mostly a greatest-hits performance, and it turned out that I knew and liked more of said hits than I thought.

The night peaked when the encore was starting and Mika showed me her phone – she got an alert from the Weather Network saying that lightning had been seen in the area. This was perfect. Too little, too late, God. We made it all the way to the end of Don’t Walk Away Eileen, so now who’s omnipotent?

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Greg MacPherson w/Dan Holbrow & Leo Keiser (September 1)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat (October 5)
• I Mother Earth featuring Edwin (October 8)
• Sarah Slean with the Regina Symphony (October 22)
• Bush w/The Dead Deads (October 27)

William Blakes – Wayne Coyne

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 11/25

I bought this for $2.99 from the discount bin at Sonic Boom. Why? For the sheer WTF of it all. Any album that has Wayne Coyne’s face on the cover has got to be interesting.

Turns out, The William Blakes are a Danish pop rock band. According to Wiki, this debut album was recorded during less than one week of 2008, in their house. For all that, the sound quality is quite excellent. Wayne Coyne was not involved at all, this is just the WB’s homage to the man. They even cleverly added Coyne’s face to Blake’s body for the cover art.

And how does it sound? Decidedly 80s. There’s that sound – you know the one. Lots of synths and drum machines and harmony vocals. But there’s so much more too, it’s very creative and it draws you in to its pop rock swing and sway. It’s bouncy and fun, full of varying instruments and (for those so inclined) I imagine it’s very danceable too. The lyrics have something to say, which is more than many can boast. I liked the tracks where the acoustic guitars showed up the best.

And there were trumpets! I always cheer for the trumpets.

It’s all over the map, rivetingly so, actually. Not unlike the Flming Lips… Will I play this again? Sure. It’s just weird enough to be engaging, and I quite liked their songs. A neat curio for the collection, I’m glad I took the chance on bringing this one home.

Björk and Trió Gudmundar Ingólfssonar – Gling Gló

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 10/25

I like Björk. And when I saw this one in the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV, it was a sure shot to my collection so fast I’m pretty sure the planet shifted slightly in my rush.

And that was me not even knowing anything about it. Who was the Trió Gudmundar Ingólfssonar? What the heck is a Gling-Gló?

Google translate tells me that Gling means ‘conference’ in Icelandic. And Glo… means ‘glo.’ So, um… maybe it’s a slang. Now, Wiki says: Gling-Gló is an Icelandic onomatopoeia whose English equivalent is “Ding Dong,” or the sound that a bell makes. So I’ll leave to decide for yourself.

No matter. Here’s the deal with this fantastic record: take what you know about how Björk sings, her inimitable voice and attack and everything it entails, and then apply it to a piano jazz bar band. Yes, this record seems like it has come to you straight from the lobby of the Reykjavík Holiday Inn on a Saturday night.

To save me all the work, Wiki says this:

Gling-Gló contains Icelandic themes, and most of the songs are sung in Icelandic. There are also five versions of English language songs by other artists: “Ruby Baby,” by Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, and the jazz standard “I Can’t Help Loving That Man”, by Oscar Hammerstein II and Jerome Kern; and in Icelandic “Það sést ekki sætari mey”, which means in English “There Is No Sweeter Girl”, and is misattributed in the album notes and on the CD as having been written by “Rogers/Hammerstein”, but is in reality a completely reworded cover of “You Can’t Get a Man with a Gun” by Irving Berlin from the famous musical Annie Get Your Gun. There is also the Icelandic version of Sway, Í dansi með þér. Additionally, “Bílavísur” is a reworked rendition of “The Blacksmith Blues,” first performed by Ella Mae Morse. “Ég veit ei hvað skal segja” is also a reworked rendition of “Ricochet Romance”, performed by the likes of June Carter Cash and Teresa Brewer. The title “Pabbi minn” is an Icelandic version of “O Mein Papa”.

Weird? Not really. Like everything else Björk does, it just works, whatever it may be. And I really enjoyed this album a ton. Never mind that I didn’t understand some of the lyrics (a good portion of it is in Icelandic, with a few English tracks), it doesn’t matter at all. This is super-groovy, jazzy fun, Björk-style.

Two thumbs way up.

Big Sugar – Five Hundred Pounds

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 9/25

Well now, here’s an old friend. Recently I reviewed the first release from this great band, the self-titled Big Sugar. I loved that disc top to bottom, right from first spin back in the day through to my recent spin. Solid gold.

Now, if you can imagine, I’ve gone a long time without a copy of this disc. I know, it’s crazy. I used to own it, but I have no idea where it went. I wouldn’t have ditched it, no way, I loved this record! Anyway, I found this copy at BMV for a paltry $5.99 (it’s worth waaaaay more than that). There it was, just sitting at the front of a row of CDs, calling to me… instant purchase. I’d have dropped the rest of what I had in my hand if this was the only one I could buy that day.

And what did I think of it this time around? Haha silly question. This album fuckin’ smokes.

We roll from the great big sloppy tight slide bluesy bliss of Ride Like Hell, through to the bass vocal/steel guitar blues majesty of Ride On. Along the way, it’s a glorious romp through all the blues styles hell, even surf/reggae, on AAA Aardvark Hotel, and soul on Deliver Me) that please most, done perfectly and with a helluva lot of soul and understanding of the form.

A perfect record… can such a thing even exist? Yes it can, folks, and this is one.

I’m in love all over again.

Tracks: Ride Like Hell / Standing Around Crying / I’m A Ram / Sugar In My Coffee / All Over Now / AAA Aardvark Hotel / How Many Times / Deliver Me / Still Waitin’ / Wild Ox Moan / Ride On

Buck 65 – A Walk In The Woods

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 8/25

I like Buck 65, whenever I hear his music. I read his book. But this, in 2016, is the first disc of his that I own. I know. Weird (and Wicked?)

Found it at Sonic Boom for $0.99. Deal!

This disc contains excerpts from his album Talkin’ Honky Blues. We get the excellent Wicked And Weird, which I assume we all know – to me, this is one of his most popular tracks… am I wrong? Anyway. We also get Riverbed Part 1, a laid-back rap track with a bit of lovely country lap steel. Yes.

Then it’s the track Sore, which timpanis its way into a funky, reggae-feel beat. This is my favourite track here, I love this groove. And finally it’s 463, which may have bored me, until the acoustic guitar started and laid down a bed for the riffing electric guitar. The whole instrumental section at the end is awesome.

There is a movie portion on the disc, “multimedia,” as they dubbed it, called Buck 65 Talkin’ Honky Blues. When I tried it with VLC, it attempted to play the video as an audio track. Ummm… My Mac had to convert it before playing (good ol’ Quicktime!). Once it finished converting, we get a 6:23 video that’s a bit of a bio of Buck, a look at his approach and his music, and it’s cool. Buck’s weird, funny, and wonderful.

Interestingly, if you look this disc up on Canuck Amazon, you get a link with no info and, well, a semi-NSFW picture. Seriously, Amazon, WTF.

In Sum:

Well worth my $0.99. I need to collect more Buck 65.

SLCR #252: The Tragically Hip (August 1, 2016)

Beloved Canadian legends. One final tour. An impossible ticket.

For my money, the Tragically Hip are most iconic band in Canadian history. But I might be biased; timing-wise, I’m about the perfect age to be a Hip fan. I’m also quite willing to discount Rush’s potential claim to the title due to not caring in the slightest about Rush. They join SCTV and Trailer Park Boys and hockey and beer on the big list of Canadian exports that I just can’t get behind.

Nevertheless. The Hip came on the scene as I was getting into high school. By the time I got to university, they’d cemented their spot as the top band in Canada. They seemed to skip over Saskatchewan on every tour (at least when I was old/interested enough to want to see them), so when they finally played Saskatoon on November 18, 1996, it was probably my most anticipated concert ever at that point. That said, it was SLCR #5 so it didn’t have a ton of competition.

I saw them twice more after that. Once was at Another Roadside Attraction (SLCR #18, July 21, 1997), an outdoor festival that also featured Sheryl Crow, Wilco, Los Lobos, Ashley MacIsaac, Ron Sexsmith, and others. The only other time was February 27, 1999 (SLCR #35), when I really only went because my mom won free tickets at work.

It may make you very sad to consider that 1999 was 17 years ago. That’s a long time to go without seeing a band that I have always really liked. Part of the reason was that having seen them, I chose to direct limited time and funds to other shows. Part of it was that the Hip shows I went to were packed full of the kind of drunken oafs I can’t stand being around. And part of it was simply that it’s so easy to say “there’s always next time.” Funny thing about that.

As anyone who cares enough to read this knows by now, a few months back, the Hip went public with the news that lead singer Gord Downie was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. This was pretty much a national day of mourning here, and I’m not even kidding. But the announcement was accompanied by other news; namely, the band was going to head out on tour, feeling that “this feels like the right thing to do now, for Gord, and for all of us.”

The dates were announced, and the band was skipping over Saskatchewan. I joked that this should allay any fears about the quality of Downie’s performances – the band was already touring like it was 20 years ago. I briefly resigned myself to missing out, but of course, my mind did as it will do; namely, it got a dumb idea and then started to figure out how to make it feasible. The Calgary show would work without taking any time off – I’d just have to move an EDO. Simple. Mika couldn’t go; she couldn’t get the needed day off work. That would be sad for her and a long drive by myself.

This was all hypothetical, of course, as I’d still need a ticket. Luckily, I was only up against an entire country of Hip fans and an army of scalpers looking to corner the market. No big deal.

On the morning of the on-sale, I heard about the instant sellouts of the Ontario shows with some alarm. Finally, at 10:00 local time, I was up – and nothing. Refresh. Nothing. Try again. Nothing.

Please re-read those last six words for about twenty minutes, okay? It’s important to my artistic vision.

I can’t really build any suspense here. I’m writing a concert review; obviously, I got in. I hit my give-up point a few times, but convinced myself to log back in and check just one more time. It finally paid off, with a seat on the 20th row of the floor. Not that the chairs were ever used once the music started.

So that’s it, I was going. I was really curious what the show would be like. Could they still deliver? Would it be sad? And what would they play? The Hip has 14 studio albums if you count their first EP – could any setlist satisfy everyone? Reports from the first few shows were promising, both in terms of their performance and the song selections.

It was finally time to hit the road. (Which means that it only took me 13 paragraphs or so to get to the parts you didn’t already know.) I left quite early on the Saturday morning, having gotten up at 5:20 a.m. as I do on workdays. I had high hopes of getting the drive out of the way quickly. This lasted until around Swift Current (about two hours from Regina), where I saw a billboard for the T.rex Discovery Centre in Eastend. I’d always wanted to check that out, and realized that I wasn’t likely to ever have a better chance. The detour took me about 2.5 hours out of the way, but I saw some rad dinosaur bones so I figure it was worth it.

Leaving the centre, the sky was pretty ominous. However, the windy road back to the main highway seemed designed to circumnavigate the storm. I was in the clear!

(I’m an idiot.)

I stopped for lunch at Medicine Hat’s finest Subway before nearing Calgary around 5:00 p.m. It was at this point that all hell broke loose. Between Strathmore and Chestermere, the car started handling really poorly. I am nervous about the car at the best of times, and the service light had come on earlier in the trip. I assumed it was just the reminder that we were due for an oil change upon my return, but the handling was really concerning. Then I realized it wasn’t the car – it was suddenly just that windy out. I discovered this when I encountered a dust storm so bad that you couldn’t see through it. I got past it, albeit slowly and cautiously. On the other side, I could see that the sky was a really strange colour. I later heard reports of funnel clouds in the area around the time that I was near. So that was a thing. And not even the worst of it – when I did get into Calgary, the skies opened up and unleashed a wicked hailstorm. I tried to find shelter but was unsuccessful. I then decided to just try to get to my grandma’s place, but the hail got worse so I abandoned that idea too. I pulled into a hotel parking lot and was somewhat shielded under a tree. This was loud and horrible and sucked and I hated it.

But I need to be thankful. It could have been much worse. After the hail ended, I got back on my way and passed all kinds of accidents and emergency vehicles. When I finally made it to my grandma’s place and stowed the car in the underground parking, my initial assessment didn’t reveal any damage. I don’t know how that could be possible – and I did find a windshield chip later on, so there was at least that – but we’ll get a car wash and see what we see. I’m still here and the car’s insured. Though I’m insured too so maybe we should run a cost-benefit analysis before declaring that everything worked out for the best.

I spent that night visiting with my grandma. I did get an invite from Colin to go out with him and some folks, but after that drive, our evening of frozen pizza and Lawrence Welk and NCIS reruns was just fine.

The next day (which was still not the day with the concert but I am trying to give you the full experience here), I walked to the Chinook Centre and saw some adorable bunnies on the way. Then I caught the C-Train to Colin’s neighbourhood and we explored the Harry Potter launch day celebrations. As Mika pointed out, me at a Harry Potter event would be like her going to a wrestling convention, but whatever, this was neat to see. Nobody was expecting this turnout and some places ran out of their Potter-themed specials two hours into the day. When we got there, the candy store had probably 100 people lined up out the door. After dinner, two hours after everything was supposed to be done, there was still a line just to get into the store.

The next day, I spent the afternoon walking around the neighbourhood, by which I mostly mean I spent it catching Pokémon. In music news, I popped by a record store where I found a used Refreshments vinyl for $12. Hopefully I like it as much now as I did in 1996. The deal was made even sweeter with the inclusion of a free Jason Collett CD that I’m about 80% sure I was allowed to take and didn’t just shoplift. They’d have said something, right?

Finally, it was time for the show. Multiple emails said it was doors at 6:30, show at 8:30 sharp. There were no physical tickets; you swiped the credit card you paid with at the door. I got there reasonably early, around 7:00, as I’d been expecting chaos trying to get in, but I needn’t have worried. There was no line, the swipe method worked fine, and I was inside in short order. I went in through the Chrysler Club entrance, and it took much longer to actually find my seat than it did to get inside. To go down, you must first go up. Very well.

For all the struggles people had getting tickets, I lucked out – 20th row on the floor, dead centre. It was such a good seat, in fact, that someone else claimed it too. We each went for the little slips they gave us when we did the swipe thing, and sure enough – Row 20, Seat 23. A matching set. Luckily, there was someone missing on the other side of the dude to my left, so he shuffled down a bit and all was well. This remained a mystery until I got home and examined my slip more closely. The slips have a perforation, and the printer deal doesn’t print real well on the perforation, so if you look really closely at my 23, you’ll see the telltale traces of ink that indicate it was actually a 28. Hahahaha whoops – I’m an idiot, but in fairness, that other dude didn’t notice it either. It WOULD explain why the other guy had room to move down.

If this all sounds relatively civil, well, it was. We all got along nicely. Fears of drunken yahoos – which escalated when I heard about the pre-party at Cowboy’s – were unfounded. Not that nobody was partaking (so so so much pot), but at least where I was, people weren’t rowdy at all. The mood wasn’t somber – far from it – but you didn’t get the people who were only there just to drink. I mean, I did hear one guy loudly belt out Boots or Hearts as I was leaving, but if that’s as bad as it gets, it’s been a good night.

There was no opening act. I figured this was for the best, since Hip crowds can sometimes be… single-minded in their interests, let’s say. The first time I saw the Hip, the Rheostatics were the openers and the crowd was having NONE OF IT. But in front of this audience… I don’t know, maybe? I don’t think people would have been outright mean to an opener here, but I also don’t think they wanted anything to take time away from the Hip.

As time passed, we got brief updates; a voiceover booming “THE SHOW WILL BEGIN IN 30 MINUTES” and an accompanying graphic on the big screen. Again at the 15-minute mark. Finally, it was “THIS IS ROB FROM THE HIP. THE SHOW WILL BEGIN IN 5 MINUTES, AND IF YOU ARE NOT IN YOUR SEAT, I WILL BE VERY DISAPPOINTED IN YOU.” Hilarious. Also, they were not messing around. At 8:30 on the nose, the lights dimmed, the band took the stage, everyone stood up (and stayed on their feet the entire time), and the show began.

The energy from the crowd was off the charts. Much like the Spirit of the West farewell show I saw earlier this year, everyone in attendance knew the story and they were ready to turn this into a great concert by sheer force of will if need be. However, the Hip – Gord in particular – didn’t need any help. He’s always been an entertainer and a showman and that’s what he was there to do. You’d never know that he’d had health issues – his voice was in fine form, as were his trademark… let’s go with unique dance moves. If anything, he seemed happier than the other times I’d seen them. More in the moment, with lots of big smiles, playful waves at the audience, and the ongoing struggle to pick his towel up off the floor with his feet. The costume changes helped the mood too. It’s probably hard to be sad when you have your choice of three shiny lamé suits to wear; gold, silver, and pink. With matching top hats. And a Jaws t-shirt underneath for good measure.

I broadcast the first four songs from the show on Periscope, more just as an experiment to see what would happen. I had over 300 live viewers at the peak, and it seemed like the sound came through okay – I haven’t watched it back. The idea was to set it up, stick my phone in my shirt pocket, and just kinda hope it worked out. But then it’s like… you want this to be good, right? So I’d hold the phone for a while, and then back to the shirt pocket, and then hold it some more, and then that aforementioned conversation with that dude about our “matching” tickets… ultimately, I shut it down pretty quickly. Too bad – it could have been a nice souvenir for me, and the folks who tuned in seemed really appreciative. But one only has so much battery and data, and I was finding it distracting. Still, a limited success. Will try again in the future with other shows.

As to what those songs were, the Hip were gracious enough to put the full setlist online so I don’t have to fight to remember specifics:

Three Pistols
Twist My Arm
Fiddler’s Green
Little Bones
In a World Possessed by the Human Mind
What Blue
Ocean Next
Machine
(five-minute break for the whole band)
In View
The Kids Don’t Get It
World Container
Yer Not the Ocean
So Hard Done By
Grace, Too
Yawning or Snarling
Daredevil
(Gord takes a brief break while the band plays on)
Something On
Escape is at Hand for the Travellin’ Man
Poets
Bobcaygeon
(encore break)
Giftshop
Flamenco
Ahead by a Century
(second encore break)
Boots or Hearts
Blow at High Dough

First, you’ll notice it was kind of like they were their own opening act, with eight songs (around 35 minutes) and then a quick break leading into a longer set. But what I didn’t notice in the moment is that all the songs are grouped together by album. Check it: four songs from Road Apples, four from Man Machine Poem, four from World Container, four from Day for Night, four from Phantom Power, three from Trouble at the Henhouse, and two from Up to Here. I did notice that a lot of album-mates were played close together, but only after I got home did I realize just how segmented it was.

This also means that there was nothing from We are the Same, Now for Plan A, In Between Evolution, In Violet Light, Music@Work, and – gasp – Fully Completely, once my favourite Hip album (I still love it, but I go back and forth with Henhouse and Day for Night now too).

The second Calgary show, this past Wednesday, followed a similar format. It featured blocks of songs from Up to Here, Man Machine Poem, Day for Night, In Violet Light, Trouble at the Henhouse, Phantom Power, and Fully Completely. I want to say that about half the songs repeated but I am not about to count it all up right now to be sure. I can’t say for sure which night I’d rather have seen. There were some obvious omissions in my show, but what can be done about that? They could play a six-hour show and there’d still be people who didn’t get to hear their favourites. On the drive home from Calgary, I tried to come up with my ideal setlist for a second show with no repeats. This was a hard game to master but an easy game to play – it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Hip have a ton of great songs.

And in Calgary, they played them all so well. The songs weren’t really messed with in any way; there were no fancy new arrangements and Gord didn’t really play with the lyrics as I’d seen him do before. The songs were all largely as we know them. The band was – well, as good as you’d expect musicians with 30 years of experience to be, which is to say, fantastic.

I have now ended two straight paragraphs with the most obvious “insights.” Maybe I should also mention that people cheered everything but they were much louder for the big hits.

Though I have to make special mention of Grace, Too. I’ve been asked if the show was sad, and it really wasn’t. People – both fans and the band, really – were there to celebrate, not to mourn. But there’s that part near the end of Grace, Too where Gord is just yelling, right? So they’re playing this song, and the crowd has been singing along, and they get to that part, and he’s just wailing, and you can clearly see his face on the big screens and he looks sad. The more he wails, the louder the crowd gets, and this carries on as far as you’d think it could go, and then just keeps on still. It was just so intense and cathartic – probably more for the crowd than for Gord – that when it finally ended, I was just in awe of what had happened. In 252 reviews – and with openers, festivals, and whatnot, surely well over 500 individual performances – I’m confident that this was the best single song I’ve ever seen done live.

“It’s one of those nights,” said Gord, and it was. Maybe he says that every night. Maybe every night is one of those nights now. I said that show wasn’t sad but it was bittersweet, especially at each break when the band would leave Gord alone on stage to soak in the adulation for a few moments before he joined them, and when they all hugged at the very end. He never talked about why we were all there, but it couldn’t be avoided.

Near as I can tell, the band has never said this is their last tour. I hope it’s not. Ideally, Gord will Magic Johnson this thing, and 30 years from now, we’ll all be asking him “I thought you said you were sick?” But I also know those are long odds. If this is the last time I see them, they went out on a high. Of the four Hip concerts I’ve seen, this was easily the best of the bunch. But though I know how lucky I am to have gotten into this one, I left wanting more, and I don’t think I can make another stupid plan pan out.

The CBC is broadcasting the final concert of the tour on Saturday, August 20 – live and commercial-free on TV, radio, and online. The casino here has announced that they’ll be showing it on the big screen in their concert lounge – it’s free to get in, but they’re taking donations to the Canadian Cancer Society. I don’t know if events like that will be happening everywhere, but I think that would be a fun way to watch the show; not quite the concert atmosphere, but maybe the next best thing. Whether this really is a farewell tour or just a much-deserved victory lap, it’s an opportunity to join the rest of Canada in a celebration of the band that defined Canadian music. (Eat it, Rush.)

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Regina Folk Festival w/The Head and The Heart, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Roberts Band, The Mavericks, Bettye LaVette, The Cat Empire, The Strumbellas, Frazey Ford, more (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat (October 5)
• I Mother Earth (October 8)

Luke Doucet – Broken (And Other Rogue States)

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 7/25

I should probably turn in my Canadian citizenship card for admitting that this is the first Luke Doucet album I’ve ever owned. I know. It’s pathetic. He’s another one of those ones I always meant to get to, and just never have… until now. I got this disc from the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV.

NB: I really wish BMV wouldn’t use 4 pricing stickers on each CD, or at least not these impossible-to-remove ones that they currently have. It’s hard enough to remove them from a plastic CD case, but on a digipak like this album, it’s just ridiculous. 

Wiki tells me that this whole album is about “the heartbreak of a failed relationship.” I agree! Also, it was nominated for a Juno Award in 2006. Cool! Alright, the music.

Brother is slinky, bluesy, and absolutely riveting. If you think it’s plodding and goes nowhere, you’re not listening nearly close enough! Lots of cool bits here that make it a great album opener. Broken One is a pretty, memorable melody masquerading as a country-pop tune. “…but you’ve gotta have a heart to have a broken one…” Oh man what a great line.

The wonderfully-named Stumbling Gingerly Back To Emily’s Apartment is a weird little drum machine and other elements (even a kid on an answering machine) intermission that melds perfectly into the country roadhouse bar gorgeousness of Emily, Please. I loved this one.

Lucky Strikes is a sweet pop tune about finding your way away from a bad relationship Hansel and Gretel-style, using cigarettes. Yes. Then we go into the folk pickin’ of Wallow, another tune that is just great storytelling and songwriting. Why, oh why have I not been into this guy all along? Alas.

It’s Not The Liquor I Miss is a strummy pop tune with electric guitar support and (yes) hand claps. There’s something breezy about the whole thing, it’s a sweet confection indeed. One Too Many brings us back to the bluesy stomp feel, which lends itself well to the song’s contents of maybe having that one too many drinks.

Vladivostok is not your typical Canadian pop song writing material… It’s a bouncy tune with cool little jazzy breakdowns and a cool melody line. I wouldn’t have credited it possible, but here it is! And then we roll into If I Drop Names, a short intro which lightly leads us into the bright pop tune called Free. The organ is perfect, and so are the backing vocals. I could hear Hawksley Workman singing this one, actually.

No Love To Be Made Here Now is an achingly beautiful tune, slow and melancholy and absolutely real. This was fantastic. And finally it’s Keep Her Away From Me, a blues stomper worthy of Bob Log III and R.L. Burnside in duet. I loved it, but I might not have let this short one end the album. I’d have preferred No Love… as the album closer. Ah well. No one ever asks me these things and then it’s too late.

In Sum:

By this album alone, I can tell you that Luke Doucet is an incredible, versatile songwriter who exhibits intelligence and humour. Get this. Get them all (I presume)!

Seven Mary Three – Rock Crown

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 6/25

It’s been ages since I’ve heard this CD. I loved it, back in the day, but I couldn’t tell you what happened to my copy of it. No matter, the BMV 3-for-$10 bin hooked me up and I’m all set now.

I saw Seven Mary Three in concert right in between American Standard and this album. They were flying high, and their sound was perfect for the times. They were also a great live band, and it may even be likely that we heard them play a couple of these tracks before the record was released. Sadly, I don’t recall the setlist.

I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating: Sook Yin Lee, a MuchMusic VJ, was there to announce the band’s set. She stood on stage and shouted to us all, “and now, here’s Mary Three Seven!” People laughed. She tried again. “Sorry! Here’s Three Seven Mary!” And people booed. In fact they booed her right off the stage (in tears). When the singer finally approached the mic, he said “Hi. We’re The Doors…” Oh man…

Back in the day, I loved the opening track, Lucky. And honestly, here in 2016, I still love it! What a great track. Inextricably tied to my memories of those days, this track is welcome in any mix I make today. I also think it was really bold to open the album with that song. That sort of confidence, instead of opening with the title track for example, says a lot about the band’s vision versus what might sell better, or whatever. They knew it was a great track, and it is!

Rock Crown ratchets up the energy and rocks us the hell out. Yes! The vocals are buried way back in the mix, guitars front and center. Needle Can’t Burn (What The Needle Can’t Find) brings out the Mellencamp/Gin Blossoms sound and it fits perfectly. Bet you can’t not tap your foot to this one! Love the guitar line.

Honey Of Generation is bluesy and slinky, and has a loud and crashing chorus section. Home Stretch swings while it rocks really hard. I really like the middle breakdown section with the arppegiating guitar. People Like New starts off with a great piano bit, then the band comes in and it becomes a sweeping epic tune. A highlight track!

Make Up Your Mind keeps us at mid-tempo, with some Zep-like guitar and a wonderful piano part. This would be a great show closer. Gone Away slows us down a bit more, a sweet and gentle late night-feel tune. The voice is front and center, and that guitar holds attention while the drums nail it down. Lovely.

Times Like These brings back the acoustics, a perfect coffee shop tune with just the right touches. Lovely. Up next is I Could Be Wrong, another slower and lovely tune complete with muted trumpet! At this point of the album, I have to imagine that fans of the heavier rock tunes, of which this band is quite capable, would be bored of all of this other stuff. And that’s a shame, these are really strong songs!

What Angry Blue? is one I remember from back in the day. It caught my ear for the bluesy guitars and the bullhorn vocals in some sections. When it explodes, it’s the big full-on rock track some would’ve been waiting for, and it owns. Very bluesy, great roadhouse music. Yeah! Houdini’s Angels brings back the gentle acoustics and the thoughtful slow song.

This Evening’s Great Excuse has an almost tribal drum part, with the band playing over top of that driving beat. It’s very powerful, bluesy, riveting. The big reveal middle section isn’t nearly as interesting (to me) as the rest of it – it doesn’t quite fit. Bring back the edge to it all (and it does). Player Piano gives us that driving, Johnny Cash-like snare drum intro and we lift into a rootsy jam track. I love the piano part (is it out of tune?). What a party! His voice shouldn’t work over top of this, but it does! And finally, it’s Oven, a strummy acoustic track that takes us right back to open mic night. By the time the rest of the instruments join in, including strings, it’s a great way to bring the album to a close. Again, loved the piano.

In Sum:

A generous 15 tracks that took me right back to hearing this record for the first time. There are so many great moments here,  I just know that my blathering up above hasn’t nearly done it credit. Suffice it to say, I loved it. Score!

Swingers OMPS

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 5/25

Motivated by Mike’s recent (and excellent) post on this, when I saw this disc in the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV, I grabbed it up super-fast. I love this music (love love love) and it’s a no-brainer purchase for me. Actually, I’m surprised I haven’t owned it all along. Go figure.

What a feel-good disc! So many favourites here. YES! Kudos to whomever’s job it was to put this gem of a mix together.

Cruising Wiki to see what it had to say about it, I discovered that there was a second disc released, called Swingers Too! Guess what’s getting added to my Want List!

Check out all of the majesty (copied shamelessly from Wiki because I am lazy)…

Swingers – Music From The Miramax Motion Picture
  1. “You’re Nobody till Somebody Loves You” – Dean Martin [1964]
  2. “Paid For Loving” – Love Jones [1993]
  3. “With Plenty of Money and You” – Count Basie/Tony Bennett [1959]
  4. “You & Me & The Bottle Makes 3 Tonight (Baby)” – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy [1996]
  5. “Knock Me a Kiss” – Louis Jordan [1941]
  6. “Wake Up” – The Jazz Jury [1996]
  7. “Groove Me” – King Floyd [1970]
  8. “I Wan’na Be Like You” – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy [1996]
  9. “Mucci’s Jag M.K. II” – Joey Altruda [1996]
  10. “King of the Road” – Roger Miller [1964]
  11. “Pictures” – The Jazz Jury [1996]
  12. “She Thinks I Still Care” – George Jones [1962]
  13. “Car Train” – The Jazz Jury [1996]
  14. “Pick Up the Pieces” – Average White Band [1974]
  15. “Go Daddy-O” – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy [1996]
  16. “I’m Beginning to See the Light” – Bobby Darin [1962]
Swingers Too! – More Music From… “Swingers”
  1. “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head?” – (Dean Martin) [1960]
  2. “Adam and Eve” – Paul Anka
  3. “Magic Man” {Single Version} – Heart [1976]
  4. “She’s a Woman (W-O-M-A-N)” – (Sammy Davis, Jr.) with (Count Basie)
  5. “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” – (Dinah Washington)/(Brook Benton) [1960]
  6. “Down for Double” – (Mel Tormé)
  7. “Staying Alive” – (Marty & Elayne)
  8. “There’ll Be Some Changes Made” – (Ann-Margret)
  9. “One Mint Julep” – (Xavier Cugat) [1964]
  10. “Gimme That Wine” – Lambert, Hendricks & Ross [1960]
  11. “Datin’ with No Dough” – (Royal Crown Revue)
  12. “Bring Me Sunshine” – (Willie Nelson) [1968]

Steve Miller Band – Greatest Hits (1974-1978)

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 4/25

Initially, this was a purchase to correct the oversiiiiight of not actually having this disc in my collection. I mean, everyone owns this one, right? Well, everyone but me, as it turned out… until this past weekend, anyway.

It was also a total nostalgia purchase. We played the hell outta this disc in high school, we sang along to every word and loved it. I don’t need to tell you anything about any of the songs here.

But more importantly, as I listened back to it with my 2016 ears, I realized that the reason this was so appealing, so singable, so enjoyable, was that these are incredibly strong, well-realized songs. Even more impressive, these are all from a four year span (1974-78)!

Overall, they have a universal appeal, even non-fans could at least get along with these tunes.

How do you argue with this…?

Swingtown / Jungle Love / Take The Money And Run / Rock ’n Me / Serenade / True Fine Love / The Stake / The Joker / Fly Like An Eagle / Threshold / Jet Airliner / Dance, Dance, Dance / Winter Time / Wild Mountain Honey

See? Impossible. Non-offensive, superbly played classic rock we’ve all heard a zillion times. More information on this release, and other Hits sets for this band, can be found here.

Now, I do have one other memory of Steve Miller Band, and that was seeing them in concert in London, ON, at the Fairgrounds back in ’92. It was Bryan Adams’ Waking Up The Nation Tour, so we got (in order): Sass Jordan, Steve Miller Band, Extreme, and then Adams.

Miller was pretty out of it that day somehow, it seemed he was struggling to remember the words to his own songs. Actually, it was pretty weak. I got the feeling that if the crowd hadn’t been singing along with every word (and acting as a cue for him), he might’ve been a disaster. Ah well.

It doesn’t colour my opinion of this disc. It’s filled to the gills with great tunes, and was a cinch to grab from the 3-for-$10 bin at BMV. Score!

Hayden – Moving Careful

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 3/25

Boil it down, I really like Hayden’s work. Albums like The Closer I Get (1998), and Everything I Long For (2000) were a big part of the mid-to-late 90s for me (and a lot of us). I was even fortunate to catch him in concert once, on the second stage at the big Pearl Jam show we saw in Barrie in 1998. Hayden played a great set, I loved it.

This 7-track Ep came before those other records I mentioned, in 1996, but really they’re all a part of the early years of his career. His was a sound that drew you in. This disc could be a demo… it sounds like every other dude with a 4-track in his bedroom, but it has a true heart, and a langorous view of the world passing slowly in front of his eyes. It has that appreciation for the smaller things, that careful approach to everything that, to some, might seem like making precious things that are not, but in the right mood it just feels right and brilliant. In another way, it’s like Tom Waits, in that it sounds like it might fall apart at any moment, yet instead it all holds together and you realize the genius in this sort of playing.

One song from this disc, Stride, also appears on The Closer I Get. Here, it is acoustic with slight effects. On the album, it’s got a bit more electronics and a cleaner sound, but by and large the song remains unchanged. Probably my favourite track here is Old Fashioned Way, it’s just great storytelling, and so quintessentially Hayden.

Also, I scavenged this from a review of this disc on Amazon, and kudos to the author, they nailed it: “songs in which the mundane is clarified into poignancy, the ordinary distilled to its tragic essence, and the everyday exposed as the ineffable and the amazing.”

Exactly.

I found this in BMV in the 3-for$10 bin. A total score.

Tom Waits – Mule Variations (2LP)

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 2/25

Here’s another quick and dusty post, since I’ve already reviewed this album RIGHT HERE.

But there is a story about this find:

One of the last times I was in Taranna, I saw the 2LP set of this classic album in Kops Records on Bloor and, while I was sorely tempted to get it, I had other things in my hand to buy, and we still had BMV and Sonic Boom to go (and, believe me or not, I do try to show restraint on these excursions, otherwise we’d need to take out a second mortgage just to support my habit). So, reasoning that we already had the CD at home, I left it in favour of whatever other finds were to come later that day.

But, to be honest, I never forgot about this set, and resolved to pick it up next time I was in the city. I should probably just have bought it when I had it in my hand, because…

Yesterday, I stood in Kops on Bloor, right in front of the Tom Waits section, and discovered that, while they had several other Waits records there… they no longer had a copy of this one in stock! Gah!

So, after Kops on Bloor, my Dad and I continued our ramble, all the way across Bloor to Yonge (with a glorious stop at BMV, among other places), then down Yonge to Queen (with a stop at Baton Rouge for lunch). Of course I popped into Kops on Queen to see about that Mule Variations and… they had it! An immediate must buy at $24.99 for the 2LP set. Now, I am aware that there is a 180g Euro release of it, but this was what they had in stock, and I was done mucking around. It would be ours!

Happy days! I said to the young lady, as she rang up my purchase, that I have long enjoyed our CD copy of this album, but that I was quite certain that this album was made to be heard on vinyl. She smiled, looked me right in the eye and said “oh hell yes!”

***

Final Note: When I showed my lovely wife this copy of one of her favourite records, her face lit right up and she said “Oooooo. THIS is gonna sound sooo good!”

Mission accomplished!

Mother Love Bone – This Is Shangri La

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 1/25

Alright, you knew I wasn’t gonna leave you hanging for long, as regards my Taranna scores yesterday…

This one’s an easy post, as it only contains one song, but it does have some cool things about it.

Of course, we all know who Mother Love Bone was, and this find is a bit timely as Temple Of The Dog is back in the mix these days, with a tour and all.

This is a 1990 promo single from Polydor (CDP348), for the single from their release, Apple. My copy here is in great shape, and has the 6-panel mini poster intact. The CD media looks brand new.

And the tune itself is, of course, a classic for everyone who was into this scene at the time. Bouncy, bluesy, rockin’, and tight as hell. It’s so great to hear Andrew’s voice any time, and the band is smokin’. This was as no-brainer track as a single, for sure.

Looking it up on Discogs, prices (in CAD) go from $12 – $65 for a copy. I paid $2.99 at Sonic Boom. So yes, I paid $3 for one song, but this is a collectible, and I’m happy that it’s here!

Teaser, And An Explanation

So this weekend I was going to have the Saturday (yesterday) all to myself. And I planned to go to KW to hit up record shops and (hopefully) meet up with Mike (and probably not Bop as he wasn’t around).

But that plan got put on hold when I learned that my work does not give us this Monday, the civic holiday, off as a holiday. Bastards, I have to work Monday! Well that sucks! Plans went on hold.

Then my lovely wife has Monday off, and she’ll be taking the kids to the inlaws that day, while I work (which also sucks, because I like my in-laws and I actually want to go see them with the gang).

All of which meant that Saturday (yesterday) was still free for me. Mike already made other plans, so I talked to my Dad on Friday night. He said “what about Toronto?” Hm. Yes. What ABOUT Toronto…?

So, we went. And I got to go to Kops (both Bloor and Queen locations), BMV, and Sonic Boom! And we walked over 14,000 steps, according to Dad’s pedometer. And it was fucking hot downtown, ugh. But we perservered and a great time was had.

Holy shit. From having plans, to getting those torpedoed, to having new plans and hitting all my Taranna happy buttons… things actually worked out, albeit much differently than I’d originally planned. I still need to get to KW to see Mike (and maybe Bop, at some point)! It will happen.

Anyway, you wanna know what records I got, because I couldn’t go to all of those places and not get things. It’s true! And I’ll tell you all about them, but not now. I typed this up last night when exhausted from all the heat and walking (plus I did all the driving there and back, about 5 hours on the road round trip). But I counted up the albums and there are 25 things to talk about… I’ll begin revealing those this week. It could even be a series… the Taranna Was Hot series.

Stay tuned.

SLCR #251: Gateway Festival (July 22, 2016)

Hey, so this was fun. There’s a tiny town in Saskatchewan called Bengough and they host a music festival every summer and we’ve never been but now we’ve been! And I suppose I could stop right there but then you’d miss out on the murdering part.

I was actually ready to murder before we ever left Regina. The day before the festival, Mika’s friend Shannon came to visit and she complained bitterly about the difficulty of navigating the Regina traffic with all the summer construction. And while I was sure it was bad, I figured she was exaggerating. She was not. Not even close. She was being kind. Getting gas, avoiding the worst road, actually getting out of town, all of those things were much more difficult and infuriating than they needed to be.

It was so bad that when we initially stopped for gas and Mika asked if I was going to get a snack, I said “No. Too angry.” But then I saw the hot dog-flavoured Pringles. The flavour scientists have worked their magic yet again. You can really taste the wiener.

The actual drive was smooth an uneventful once we got out of town. It was a fine way to spend an evening and we weren’t even there yet. I almost never speed to any real degree but I went 130 km/h pretty much the whole way. We listened to podcasts and tunes, and the GPS recovered from its miserable performance on our recent drive into Calgary where it tried to make us cross a river without the use of a bridge.

They had lots of signs up to let us know where to go, and a ton of volunteers to help with the wristbands and parking. It’s a smaller festival than the local folk festival we attend every year, but it seemed really well run. Also, the wristbands were these nice cloth ones and not that waxy paper you get everywhere else.

We stopped at the campground restroom on the way into the grounds. There was a sign outside the women’s washroom advising the ladies not to have water fights in the bathrooms. Women, amirite? Though I suppose it’s worth noting that both washrooms had signs saying that you’d be “punished and banned” for putting sand or dirt in the sinks.

We found our way into the grounds and met up with Jeff and his wife. Despite the traffic woes, we got out of town earlier than I had been expecting, so we showed up in time for the end of Quinton Blair’s set. I didn’t see much of it but enjoyed what I saw. Countryish singer-songwritery stuff, with a good sense of humour when chatting between sets. That says very little!

Unlike the folk festival here, the Gateway Festival has two stages, so as soon as one act ends, the next one starts up right away with no delay. Bands alternate between the main stage and the slightly smaller stage that faces the beer gardens. It’s a pretty good system, though sometimes it results in things like Fred Penner playing to the beer gardens.

To be fair, it was still early and that section of the grounds was not yet closed off to minors. But still.

Jeff’s wife disappeared as soon as Penner started playing; we didn’t see her again until well into Limblifter’s set, when she returned with a picture of her and Fred together. This was not the first time she’d met Fred Penner. We may have a superfan on our hands. As one who is less of a Penner diehard, I took this time to get some dinner. The wiener Pringles weren’t gonna cut it. I wound up with a grilled chicken wrap that was actually pretty great. Kudos, chicken wrap stand! Mika went for a gluten-free salad from another stand; “gluten-free salad” was its actual name on the menu and maybe that should have been a red flag. The server also said something like “I don’t know what’s in it and nobody’s ordered it yet, so come back and tell me how it is!” which was equally ineffective at inspiring confidence. Mika did not go back and tell her how it was. She did tell me and Jeff – not directly, but she said “have you ever wanted to open a can of chickpeas and eat it with a spoon?” which I think says enough.

As a reward for surviving the salad (or about half of it, anyway), Mika went and got some cotton candy. I made her bring me some too. I have never eaten cotton candy while having a beard before. I did not anticipate that it would be so challenging.

I don’t know what to say about Fred Penner. He’s Fred Penner. Maybe he is a cherished part of your childhood? I’m a few years too old for that, and as he was playing, it occurred to Jeff and I that we knew very few Fred Penner songs. The first one I recognized was about sandwiches and I’m pretty sure the only reason I knew that was because he played the folk festival a few years ago. At least I think he played songs there. Mostly I remember him chastising us to pick up after ourselves.

I did eventually recognize Puff the Magic Dragon. Also, the Cat Came Back, which Penner amended with cat-themed versions of Happy Together and Hit the Road, Jack. This was not dissimilar to every song Mika ever sings, as they all have the lyrics changed to be about Carl.

The cover songs led us to talking about the recent trend of bands I see covering the Tragically Hip, and who would do it this weekend, and what songs. This turned into talk of Penner covering the Hip, and what the best (read: most inappropriate) song would be. At the risk of sounding immodest, I declare that my pick of 38 Years Old was the winner.

For the record, I heard no Hip songs at the festival (though I am hopeful that the next show will deliver at least one). But Mika and I only came to the Friday night; Jeff did report that on Saturday, Odds snuck the chorus of Poets into the end of Make You Mad.

Next up was Limblifter, which you’d have known if you read that bit up there. Ryan Dahle, who we saw with Age of Electric a few months ago, was back with his other band. Or one of them, anyway. Jeff said he might have been the only person there who knew more Limblifter songs than Sloan songs, but I bet Dahle did too. Actually, maybe not – there are a LOT of Sloan songs that Dahle might know. Me, I knew Tinfoil because heck yeah Big Shiny Tunes. Also Ariel vs. Lotus and Screwed It Up. So maybe I never listened to a whole lot of Limblifter – and somehow, I’d never managed to see them in concert before now. No time like the present, I suppose. We stood right down at the front and had a great view, and this was all quite delightful. Would see again. (I did maybe like Age of Electric better, though.)

Next up was Bry Webb of the Constantines. Formerly of the Constantines? I don’t know what they are doing nowadays. I won’t lie; I paid very little attention to this. What I heard was fine.

I think it was in here that I went looking at the stuff table. I mean, I went a few times, but was hopeful that I’d discover a copy of Sloan’s One Chord box set, as I had promised to check for Mike. No dice. No Sloan stuff at all, actually. But I did pick up two records: Corb Lund’s Counterfeit Blues, and also You Can Count on Me by the Karpinka Brothers, a band out of Saskatoon who were here hosting the side stage. I went to high school with Shawn Karpinka, and actually ran into him on the way to the merch tent. We chatted for a few minutes and it was nice to get caught up – I don’t think we’d talked in a decade. We weren’t super close friends in high school, but he was never a dick and that is higher praise than it sounds like.

I rushed the records back to the car. Luckily, the host of the main stage was asked to stall for a few minutes before Sloan began. I can only assume this was specifically to give me time to get back. So considerate! But then Sloan came out and the dude kept talking. And then it would look like he was about to stop, and then he’d talk some more. I was never able to tell if this was needlessly aggravating or hilarious trolling.

But whatever. You know it’s a festival show because of the lack of people yelling SLOOOOOOOOO-OOOOOOOOAN. Also because Sloan knows enough to know that a festival crowd doesn’t want the deep cuts – this was pretty much a greatest hits collection. No Underwhelmed, because of course there wasn’t, but there was most every other single you’d want – Money City Maniacs, The Good in Everyone, Everything You’ve Done Wrong, The Lines you Amend, The Other Man, Unkind, If it Feels Good Do It, People of the Sky, Coax Me, Losing California, The Rest of my Life, Who Taught You to Live Like That… there was more but you get it.

So yeah, in a shocker, Sloan played Sloan songs.

I don’t know what was talked about beforehand, but when the band traded off instruments and Chris Murphy got on drums, dude was determined to prove a point. I have seen him play drums before but never with this much showboating. Jeff accused him of showing off to the “cute girl” at the back of the stage, but then we figured out it was actually the drummer from Limblifter. He’s got some nice long blonde hair, but I don’t know if I’d say “cute.” Maybe just not my type.

I’d have to read old reviews but I’d have to think that this wasn’t the best Sloan show I’ve seen – if nothing else, there seemed to be sound issues where it was hard to hear the vocals every time they switched who was singing – but I don’t remember getting their songs so doggedly stuck in my head before. The past week in my brain has been pretty much non-stop Maniacs or California or Everyone or Underwhelmed and they didn’t even play Underwhelmed, I just like it.

Once they wrapped up, I was off to the side stage for Shotgun Jimmie. Mika described Jimmie as “if Joel Plaskett fronted a BA Johnston tribute band” and I love that description and you have no idea how badly I want to actually see this happen. Shotgun Jimmie is someone I know very little about. Every time I hear one of his songs, I think “this is a dude I could really dig if I gave him half a chance” and then somehow I never remember to do so. Gotta change that. This was great fun. He opened with Late Last Year, basically the only song of his that I could actually say I know, and then played his new song Join the Band, making it the second time in a few months I’ve heard someone sing “experience Regina.” I enjoyed it all, though I did duck out before the last song or two in order to get a good spot for Corb Lund, a move that was a mistake in several ways.

First off, Corb Lund might be my #1 reason to constantly quote Sloan: “It’s not the band I hate, it’s their fans.” The casino show earlier this year wasn’t too bad, but there have been a few times where the drunken yahoo assholery in the audience has been too much for me. Although I can maybe forgive it this time due to the excellence that happened when a drunk girl staggered over to near where we were and slurred (not to us) “is this the party zone?”

“No?” said Jeff.

“It’s the standing and listening respectfully zone,” added Mika.

The drunk girl stumbled away, saying “I hate it when old people are rude.”

Died. I’m dead now. That killed me and I am reporting back from the afterlife. I hate it when old people are rude. Oh my god. This was the best the best the best the best. I am bad at coming up with titles and I have never liked “Stupid Little Concert Reviews” so now I want to rename all of these to “When Old People are Rude.” When Old People are Rude, Volume CCLI: the Gateway Festival.

This is where you say “shut up and get to the music” and I WOULD say “I hate it when old people are rude” but you have a point in that I am not talking about music BUT I have no more music to talk about. The dark night sky was seeing more and more lightning, so they made the call to delay Corb’s set. As the lightning got worse, Jeff and his wife (and their friends – they had friends there too! I never mentioned them before but they were there) the hell was I talking about? Oh, right. All those people left.

Then I made a plan. Let’s take the chairs to the car now – since we weren’t planning on staying after Corb anyway – so either we can then leave, or we can go back, listen to Corb, and then have an easier time leaving later. So we did. Chairs to car. They’re still in the car now, a week later, in fact, because I am bad at simple human tasks. But we sat there for a bit as the lightning got worse and the thunder got louder. I decided that the show was likely not going to happen and so we left.

Corb did play. I don’t know how long the delay was. Jeff said the grounds were bone dry the next day. This amazed me, as the drive home took us through the worst rainstorm I’ve ever driven in, and it lasted almost the whole way. At one point, I had to pull over. I made up for my 130 km/h earlier by going 50 km/h for long stretches. It all averages out. That’s the law. The law of averages.

The rain brought out the animals – I saw a badger, three deer, a raccoon, some frogs, and oddly, ducks. The water had pooled on the road, and we drove by a duck just sitting in the water, seemingly disinterested in the big loud metal headlight machine that went whipping past it. We remarked on the stupidity of this duck. Then we saw no fewer than three other ducks at various points, all sitting in road puddles. Two of them are probably still ducks to this day. One of them took its sweet time getting out of my way, and I didn’t feel like swerving into either the oncoming car or the ditch, so the duck bounced off our bumper. Sorry, duck. I mean, it was your own fault for being an idiot, but I guess all ducks are stupid so you couldn’t help that. At least the rain washed off any pieces of you that got stuck to the car.

So yeah, it started with a bad drive getting out of town and ended with a bad drive all the way back, but everything in between was pretty great. The festival site was nice, there were decent food options (skip the chickpea salad), the bands were good, the weather was nice (right up until it wasn’t, anyway), would go again. And there was a whole other day of fun that we missed out on. 21 bands, just on the Saturday alone. Lots of local artists, as well as Odds, Mo Kenney, Chixdiggit, the Stampeders, and way more. (Hey Jeff, how was it?) Mika and I aren’t camping people so to go both nights means a lot of driving, but we had a good time so we’ll see what the lineup is like next year. There are too many ducks anyway.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• The Tragically Hip (August 1)
• Regina Folk Festival w/The Head and The Heart, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Roberts Band, The Mavericks, Bettye LaVette, The Cat Empire, The Strumbellas, Frazey Ford, more (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat (October 5)
• I Mother Earth (October 8)

R.I.P. Marianne Ihlen

So long, Marianne.

Yes, the song (and many poems) were about her, Leonard Cohen’s love in the 1960s. Passed away on July 28, 2016, just one week after being diagnosed with leukemia.

Leonard called her “the most beautiful woman I’ve ever met.”

2016 continues its terrible toll.

Tears For Fears – Tears Roll Down (Greatest Hits 82-92)

As you know, I raved about Songs From The Big Chair the other day. And I mentioned in the comments that I would really like to get my mitts on more of their stuff.

Well lo and behold, guess what showed up at work yeserday, in pristine shape! Yup, their Greatest Hits set! I actually laughed out loud happily when I saw it – of course, it was a no-brainer buy.

And guess what, you’ll know just about every song here. Even if you’re not really a fan and don’t own any of the records, you’ll still know most of these – they’re classic tunes, played everywhere. Fantastic stuff.

This disc’s 12 tracks only cover the first three records, ending as it does in 1992. And of note, it also contains one single released just for this compilation, Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down). Curt Smith had already left the band, so this was Roland Orzabal’s solo entry to the disc for new material. Just like everything else they ever did, all the elements come together to make a fantastic track.

In Sum:

You want this disc. It’s full of earworms that you’ll be humming for days. Amazing songwriting, brilliant execution. Get this!

Tracks (and source albums):
Sowing The Seeds Of Love~
Everybody Wants To Rule The World*
Woman In Chains (f. Oleta Adams)~
Shout*
Head Over Heels*
Mad World^
Pale Shelter^
I Believe*
Laid So Low (Tears Roll Down)#
Mothers Talk*
Change^
Advice For The Young At Heart~

Tracks From:
^ The Hurting
* Songs From The Big Chair
~ The Seeds Of Love
# single released to coincide with this hits compilation

Studio Albums Not Covered:
Elemental
Raoul And The Kings Of Spain
Everybody Loves A Happy Ending

Hit It Or Quit It: The Series So Far

Here’s a post with some raw data on the Hit It Or Quit It series so far. I’m really enjoying going back through all of these LPs from Brother Craig!

If I were cool and capable like Geoff, this would have some awesome charts and graphs in it. Alas, I am not that cool and capable, so here it all is in a big pile that’s not nearly as pleasing to the eye…

TOTAL SO FAR: (35 LPs played)

HIT: 26  (74%)
QUIT: 9  (26%)

***

HIT (25)

Ambrosia – Life Beyond L.A.
Asia – Asia
Brian Auger And Julie Tippets – Encore
Babe Ruth – Babe Ruth
Babe Ruth – Stealin’ Home
John Baldry – It Ain’t Easy
John Baldry – Good To Be Alive
Harry Belafonte – Ballads, Blues And Boasters
George Benson – Breezin’
Big Country – The Crossing
Big Country – Steeltown
Big Country – The Seer
Elvin Bishop – Struttin’ My Stuff
Black Oak Arkansas – High On The Hog
Gary U.S. Bonds – Dedication
Gary U.S. Bonds – On The Line
Roy Buchanan – Roy Buchanan
Jimmy Buffett – Son Of A Son Of A Sailor
Eric Burdon And The Animals – Best Of Vol. 2
Byrds – The Byrds
Jim Capaldi – Oh How We Danced
Captain Beyond – Captain Beyond
Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless
Canned Heat – Boogie With Canned Heat
Chicago – Chicago III

QUIT (9)

Alabama – Mountain Music
Ananta – Night And Daydream
Audience – The House On The Hill
Audience – Lunch
Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express – Straight Ahead
Babe Ruth – Kid’s Stuff
Be Bop Deluxe – Drastic Plastic
Berlin – Pleasure Victim
Ray Charles Singers – Quiet Moments For Young Lovers

CHANGED MY MIND (1)

I had one record on which I changed my mind. It started out as a Quit, but I tried some more of it again and decided I would keep it.

Be Bop Deluxe – The Best And The Rest Of Be Bop Deluxe

IN SUM:

Stick around, folks. I’ve barely made a dent in the pile of LPs from Craig. Seriously, there were 5 boxes of them! I’ll be sure to do an update every now and then, let you know the numbers on this series. Enjoy!

Doug Gillard Rejoins Guided By Voices

It made me happy just to type that title! Yes, folk, James has passed along the wonderful news that Doug Gillard, who was with the band from 1997-2004, has returned to GBV! Fantastic, he’s one of my biggest guitar heroes ever!

But Gillard isn’t resting easy, he and Robert Pollard have also started a new side project called ESP Ohio, “featuring current GBV bassist Mark Shue and drummer Travis Harrison, founder of Serious Business Records and member of The Homosexuals and Double Dong.”

Gillard will also keep playing with his other current band, Nada Surf!

He’s everywhere! And he rocks!

Here’s the scoop from the GBV mailing list:

Former (1997-2005) Guided By Voices guitarist Doug Gillard is rejoining the band! Gillard has been performing and recording with Nada Surf the past 5 years, and will continue to play with that group as his schedule allows. Gillard replaces Nick Mitchell on GBV’s live tour, which hits the Midwest and West Coast starting on August 13. The new line-up, Gillard, Kevin March (drums), Bobby Bare Jr. (guitar) and Mark Shue (bass) will be recording a new GBV album with leader Robert Pollard in September.  Pollard comments:  “We’re all extremely excited to have Doug back in the band.  He is one of the best guitar players in the world, if not the best.”  

Matthew Caws of Nada Surf discussed the news: “We can’t say enough what an enormous contribution Doug makes to Nada Surf.  He was my favorite guitar player around long before he started playing with us. We’re thrilled for him that’s he’s going to be in Guided By Voices again. He wants to be in both bands and we absolutely support that.  We’ll have to play as a trio again some nights because of scheduling conflicts,  but Doug’s spot is always here for him.”  

Gillard remarks: “The last time Bob and I were in the same studio together was for our Lifeguards LP Waving At The Astronauts in 2011, so I’m excited to reconnect and be in the band again. I’m also having a great time as a member of Nada Surf and look forward to continue my work with them. Both bands are family to me and am grateful for the efforts of both in making this possible.”

Cleveland native (now living in NYC) Gillard recently reunited with Pollard (along with Shue and drummer Travis Harrison) to record an album under the name ESP Ohio.

Hit It Or Quit It!

I got some uninterrupted time in the Man Cave last night, and that meant I got to drop the needle, so it’s time for more Hit It Or Quit It...

Ambrosia – Life Beyond L.A. (1978)

I found this at work and, I gotta be honest, I wasn’t gonna buy it (not even for $1). By the cover, it looked totally cheese 80s I’d never heard of, so it almost got left behind. But I grabbed it anyway because one never knows, right?

Turned out I did know a song on this LP, How Much I Feel. It’s a creepy tune, about how he still wants this lady even those he’s married to another lady. Dude, seriously, make up yer frickin’ mind. And honestly, this was the song I liked the least on the record. There is plenty of stronger material than that on here.

Anyway, I looked them up and all the prog and experimental sounds I was getting from this (when I was expecting 80s synth fluff), as well as the hints at soul and r&b, holds true. Right on, this wasn’t actually too bad. The attention to detail is what really grabbed me – everything is in its right place, in every song.

According to Wiki, they still tour to this day, and plan on releasing an album of new material in 2016. Who knew?

Hit It Or Quit It? Unexpectedly (given my judging books by covers), it’s a hit. I would listen to this again, so it stays.

Asia – Asia (1982)

Another one I found at work, this one’s a bit of a no-brainer. Of course I was gonna like this. What’s not to like from this supergroup? Heat Of The Moment was the big hit we all know well, and I really liked the guitar work in the mix (Steve Howe is a name we’ve all heard before).

This is music on a grand scale, aiming at epic and, while still constrained by the 80s and its trapping, the band pulls off a successful record with aplomb.

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit!

Chicago – III (1971)

This 2LP set, found in the boxes from Brother Craig, is a friggin’ workout. And looking it up online, it turns out that this was the band’s third double album of new material in less than two years. Holy mackerel!

They hit just about every musical style under the sun, from jazz to rock to folk and back round again through many others. There are big solos all over the place, notably for the drums and the flute. The musicianship is above and beyond. These people are serious!

This record is damn funky, superbly played, and a real gem to have in the collection.

Hit It Or Quit It? Hit hit hit hit hit!

Ray Charles – The Country Side Of Ray Charles

Snagging this disc from a bin, just because it was Ray Charles (love him!) and because it has 24 tracks on it, I thought I (probably) knew what I was getting by the title of the disc.

NB: It was originally titled Modern Sounds In Country Music (Vol. 1 & 2)

Plug it in, and… right off the top, Bye Bye Love is pure big band Ray Charles swing. Haha whut? Where’s the country? Alright, no problem, stick with it…

Hm. Not sure I would call a lot of this country music, by the old country definition of it. This is more like Ray Charles and his big band (and choral singers – remember I reviewed that Ray Charles Singers LP?) doing run-throughs of some old classics. It’s a bit disorienting, loving the delicious swing (either snappy quick or gentle and slow) of these tunes and hearing lyrics for Born To Lose, You Win Again, Hey Good Lookin’, and Your Cheating Heart.

Once I got past that, though, I realized these are just wonderful versions of some old classics, done as only the master Ray Charles could do them. There are many times where the band devolves into schmalzy 40s strings and choir a la Lawrence Welk or something, but Brother Ray is always there to galvanize your attention on him.

Probably my favourite track here is the Motown blues jump swing of You Are My Sunshine. Hot damn! But country? Haha no.

The tunes were country, originally. But in Ray Charles’ hands, they become orchestral swing blues on a country chassis. And it’s all about Ray.

Tracks:

Bye Bye Love / You Don’t Know Me / Half As Much / I Love You So Much It Hurts / Just A Little Lovin’ / Born To Lose / Worried Mind / It Makes No Difference Now / You Win Again / Careless Love / I Can’t Stop Loving You / Hey, Good Lookin’ / You Are My Sunshine / No Letter Today / Someday / Don’t tell Me Your Troubles / Midnight / Oh, Lonesome Me / Take These Chains From My Heart / Your Cheating Heart / I’ll Never Stand in Your Way / Making Believe / Teardrops In My Heart / Hang Your Head In Shame

Kula Shaker – Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts

I always knew about this band, but never bought an album. When I found it at work for cheap, it was worth a shot. I also remember this album cover as a huge poster hanging at the top of the escalator in the 333 Yonge St. HMV in Toronto. Get it? Because the dude’s coming up the escalator? Anyway.

So many influences here, I mean, most of classic rock, from the Beatles up through Pink Floyd and some other prog stuff too. There’s also some great heavier rock edges mixed in. Throw some Eastern sounds, some bagpipes, hammond organ, horns, acoustic and buzzing electric guitars, and lots of backing vocals into the soup and you have a really, really cool record.

The musicianship here is the major selling point, for me. It’s flawless. The band grooves and those guitars just soar (I really liked the guitar work). It totally sounds like the 60s, but updated to its current time (1999).

I should note, I have never cared much at all for the Britpop wave. The only ones I could stand out of all of it were Radiohead and Stone Roses, and I’d put this one in that latter category if I had to… but these guys are their own animal, and it’s all friggin’ beautiful.

The sound is superb (production-wise), the album flows from one track to the next like one giant party, and if you’re a fan already, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

There’s a joy here, something in making the music that comes across as just truly happy to be doing it, instead of it being a calculated move into a genre.  I liked this spacey, rocking jam CD very, very much!

Two thumbs way up.

The Waterboy OMPS

At some point, Adam Sandler lost his appeal to me, and I know I missed a bunch of his films. This is one of them.

Because of this, I have no idea how integral the songs on this disc are to the film, or whether it’s just a collection of tracks that somebody somewhere threw together to make an obligatory soundtrack.

Look at that, folks! Aaron of the KMA goes to great lengths for ALL of the details for you! Ach, nevermind. Let’s see what’s here…

Creedence Clearwater Revival – Born On The Bayou starts us off with its beautiful swampy groove. Nobody did it like CCR. Nobody.

Goldfinger – More Yesterday Than Today is a real switch of gears without a clutch. It starts off slower, swaying, then it quickly goes to loud and crashing. Not bad, not great. I still love the horns, and I’m a sucker (still) for that 90s ska band thing).

Big Head Todd & The Monsters – Boom Boom… yup, the John Lee Hooker tune, with JLH’s voice here too! This is a real, ripping blues run-through. I loved it.

Candyskins – Feed It starts off gentle, but you can feel the build. When it culminates, it’s a straight grunge-lite tune that doesn’t hold any surprises. It’s OK for a compilation like this, but I wouldn’t want a whole album like this.

Doors – Peace Frog is one of my favourite Doors tunes. You already know it, as you were.

Earth, Wind & Fire – Let’s Groove is pure disco. Not my bag, but I get it that this kind of thing was popular once upon a time.

Lenny Kravitz – Always On The Run is a great Lenny rocker we all know well. It was even better live in concert, through the big sound system (I hope he wasn’t lip-syncing this one). And actually, it cleanses the palate after that disco track before it, while still keeping the groove alive.

Lifelong (f. Incident) – Doin’ My Thang is a dance hip hop track, complete with hand claps. Good flow, a non-stop bassline repetition. I didn’t mind it, but wouldn’t need it all the time.

John Mellencamp – Small Town once again shifts gears without a clutch. It’s a pure Mellencamp classic. I don’t need to tell you about this one, do I? Of course not.

Joe Walsh – New Year’s Eve finds Walsh jamming the reggae beat… er, not his greatest work. His guitar work over the top of it all, though, is fantastic. Of course.

Allman Brother’s Band – No One To Run With pulls out all the Buddy Holly stops and jams itself into a cool blues tune. We all know it anyway, of course.

Rush – Tom Sawyer, of course, you know this absolute classic so well. Loved hearing it again (as always). Rush FTW!

Candlebox – Glowing Soul is a real bluesy George Thorogood-style stomper, that goes for the big double-time bridge into a melodic chorus. You know, I really liked Candlebox back in the day (and I knew plenty other who didn’t). Cool track.

In Sum:

This is a really eclectic mix. Lots of classic rock, favourites, and some oddity tracks to keep things off balance. My first reaction was I didn’t really like it, as a mix, but on further reflection, I have to say it plays well if you imagine you’ve pressed Random Play on your entire iTunes collection. Which leaves me thinking that it probably is integral to the film… Maybe sometime, in the wee hours, when I’m too tired to get up and the batteries in the remote are dead and this film comes on a channel and I’m trapped by it*, I’ll see it and prove myself right.

*all of this is assuming I am at someone else’s house, too, because we don’t have a TV.

Life, The Universe, and Everything

There’s no real post today. I’m taking the day off.

You see, today is my 42nd birthday. And 42, as we all know, is the answer to this post’s title (thank you so much, Douglas Adams. I still think digital watches are “a pretty neat idea,” and I know where my towel is!).

So go have a cold one in my honour. Hell, tie one on, if you want! I might just join you in that.

Cheers.

Tears For Fears – Songs From The Big Chair

This album is absolutely relevant to our current world state of affairs.

Check it out:

Shout is a great call to action. “Shout! Shout! Let it all out! These are the things I can do without!” is just perfect. Life’s too short, and too many want to control us, to let things go unsaid. The song’s driving beat and soaring ending guitar solo is a total lift. There’s a lot going on, musically, and it’s built to be a hit single for sure. And it’s got a lot more to say, too:

In violent times
You shouldn’t have to sell your soul
In black and white
They really really ought to know

and

They gave you life
And in return you gave them hell
As cold as ice
I hope we live to tell the tale
I hope we live to tell the tale

The Working Hour starts us off with some jazzy saxophone, before tribal drums roll in and the synths take over. It has the feel of an early morning opening credits montage one of those 80s movies set in L.A. You know the ones. But then it reins itself in and locks into a tight groove of elements and remains an incredibly strong and timely song that seeks understanding of what we’re facing:

This is the working hour
We are paid by those who learn by our mistake
And fear is such a vicious thing
It wraps me up in chains
Find out
Find out
What this fear is about
Find out
Find out
What this fear is about

Everybody Wants To Rule The World is one we all know well. It’s a breezy beauty. With all of it’s great pieces working seamlessly, and some more excellent guitar work, we have a message of hope in the midst of the madness, but not a naive hope. It feels real, possible.

There’s a room where the light won’t find you
Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down
When they do, I’ll be right behind you
So glad we’ve almost made it
So sad they had to fade it
Ev’rybody wants to rule the world

Mothers Talk takes us to Depeche Mode-like territory, another drivingly restless pop tune that talks about the cost of self-reinvention to keep up with the latest trends, instead of remaining true to yourself and your own strengths…

It’s not that you’re not good enough
It’s just that we can make you better
Given that you pay the price
We can keep you young and tender
Following in the footsteps of a funeral pyre
You were paid not to listen now your house is on fire

and

Some of us are horrified
Others never talk about it
But when the weather starts to burn
Then you’ll know that you’re in trouble
Following the footsteps of a soldier girl
It is time to put your clothes on and to face the world
Don’t you feel your luck is changing
When everything starts to happen
Put your head right next to my heart
The beat of the drum is the fear of the dark

I Believe is searching, slowly reaching out for meaning and strength in the face of the world, but without much hope for it happening. Its light drum touches and piano beauty, and those aching vocals, keep it from being sappy.

I believe that when the hurting and the pain has gone
We will be strong, Oh yes we will be strong
And I believe that if I’m crying while I write these words
Is it absurb ? Or am I being real
I believe that if you knew just what these tears were for
They would just pour like every drop of rain
That’s why I believe it is too late for anyone to believe

and

I believe that if you’re bristling while you hear this song
I could be wrong or have I hit a nerve ?
That’s why I believe it is too late for anyone to believe

Broken, despite it being a peppy pop tune perfectly placed for mid-80s domination (with a real earworm of a hook line from the album’s next song hinted at here), yet finds us in despair about the state of the world.

Between the searching and the need to work it out
I stop believing everything will be alright
Broken
We are broken

… and then we roll into…

Head Over Heels, another huge song from the record. Still seeking love, hoping we can hold onto the good things in life, but living in the reality before us…

I made a fire and I’m watching it burn
Thought of your future
With one foot in the past now just how long will it last
No, no, no, have you no ambitions?

My mother and my brothers used to breathing clean air
And dreaming I’m a doctor
It’s hard to be a man when there’s a gun in your hand
Oh, I feel so…

Broken (live), an instrumental section at 0:52 in length, seemed out of place, until I realized it’s meant as a bookend for the full track before Head Over Heels. This makes sense when you consider the Head Over Heels tagline running through it, though it didn’t need to be a live version to be an effective reprise… and finally we have…

Listen, which is a pretty, very Phil Collins-esque melody, with choral voices and electronic blips and bleeps mixed in, basically only has four lines of lyrics:

Mother Russia badly burned
Your children lick your wounds
Pilgrim father sailed away
Found a brave new world

The whole album, thus far, seemed to be leading towards finding some strength and hope, so as it plays on we get variations of these lines:

Cumpleaños chica, no hay que preocuparse… (Spanish for ‘birthday girl, do not worry)
Soothe my feeling

which leaves me feeling like soothing, healing, understanding is still not quite here, there’s still work to do.

In Sum: 

As a kid, I never realized how insightful and connected this album really is. I played it a million times, and always loved it, more for the music than the lyrics. Also, I was a kid, so a lot of it went right over my head. But now, here in 2016, with all the terror attacks and garbage politics and growing unrest, this album is more important than ever.

I’ve probably missed out on a bunch, here, but I purposely just listened without looking it up for more information. This is what I got from it!

Tears For Fears achieved the nearly impossible – they made a record that reflects fear and despair in the face of a disintegrating world, yet never really seeming strident or weak. This is, I believe, because it’s coming from a place of genuine caring, just trying to make sense of things and find a little peace.

Two thumbs way up. I’ll play this again anytime.

Def Leppard – Vault (Hits 1980-1995)

I got this at work for cheap, just because I could. I suppose the 2CD Rock Of Ages set would be more comprehensive, but I have to tell you that this single disc was all the Def Leppard I needed in one sitting.

It’s chock full of every song you’ve heard a million times, and stands as testimony to the pop rock songwriting prowess and longevity of this band. They have a sound that is instantly recognizable, and they’ve curated it meticulously for all these years.

Pour Some Sugar On Me is still pure silliness fun (I’ll never forget my son saying, “Dad, why would you want someone to pour sugar on you?”), and Photograph is a classic. Love Bites is one I could skip but I know it was huge. Let’s Get Rocked is more arena fodder. The acoustic Two Steps Behind is a staple, which I used to rather like but I’ve heard it so many times now that this spin felt more like sitting through it than being into it.

Animal, Foolin’, and Rocket are all rockers in the DL zone. When Love And Hate Collide is the next ballad, another one we’ve been through enough times. Armageddon It brings back the rock before Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad takes us back to Balladtown. Actually, I appreciate that they did this – two DL ballads in a row would probably make me need to go play outside for a while.

Rock Of Ages is another classic, of course, and Hysteria follows it with its mid-tempo rock-like mildness. Then it’s an acoustic version of Miss You In A Heartbeat, which is another pure DL ballad. I always thought the intro and verse chords sounded a lot like Neil Young’s Helpless. And finally, Bringin’ On The Heartbreak rocks us out epically.

So,  here’s some context on my DL listening life:

I own the early albums, up to Pyromania. Now, when I was a kid, the Pyromania cassette came from Columbia House. We played the hell out of that tape. When I think of Def Leppard, I tend to think of that record. I never followed up on anything after that, probably because the cool kids over-played Hysteria and I grew tired of it. Decades later, Mike sent me a couple of later records that I enjoyed. Whenever I hear this band, I like it well enough, and everything, but in between listens to this band, I honestly never think of them. Huh.

Fast forward to the mid-90s, I was living in Kitchener-Waterloo, and I was drummer in a band you never heard of, and that’s OK. Our guitar player LOVED Def Leppard. I’m sure he still does, wherever he is in his life now. I hadn’t heard them in years until we started hanging out and he went on and on about this or that thing they’d done with the guitars and recording, etc. Huge fan.

Fast-forward to the present, and I’m sitting here re-listening to all of these tracks again. This disc is loaded to the gills with hits, with When Love & Hate Collide being an exclusive for this release in 1995. I’m glad I played it, though I found the ballads fairly tedious.

So, in sum, it was nice to revisit all the old memories, and now I’ve had my fix and can go a while longer before playing it again.

Mumford & Sons with Baaba Maal, The Very Best, and Beatenberg – Johannesburg

I snagged this 5-song EP because it was cheap, because I like the first two Mumford records, and because I love Baaba Maal’s work. I was intrigued by the promise of this release!

All deference to Beatenberg and The Very Best, but they were new to me with this release.

For the purposes of avoiding typing names over and over again in certain spots, I’ll use this key for the artists involved in each track:

1 Baaba Maal
2 Beatenberg
3 The Very Best

There Will Be Time (1) starts off with Maal and Mumford trading verses, then the song achieves lift-off. It’s an amazing hybrid between that Mumford Sound and those sweet African influences. Not two approaches that I would have credited working well together, but here it is natural and seamless. Yes!

Wona (1, 2, 3), is bouncy, beautiful world music fun, with a half-time chorus bit. I could listen to this all day, even the parts that sound a bit too much like the Lion King theme.

Fool You’ve Landed (2,3) starts with some tribal drum sounds and breaks into a fairly straight-up pop song. It’s damn catchy and happy-making, and features excellent playing by the band(s).

Ngamila (1,3) is a dreamy pop tune that drifts along pleasantly, with a haunting guitar line underscoring the amazing vocals. It builds and builds but never falls apart.

Si Tu Veux (1,3) lets those sultry vocals carry us into a truly mesmerizing beat with those synths hanging behind it all, and then it shifts and crashes in on the build and it hits ecstatic emotion and catharsis. This may be the best track here!

In Sum:

This EP has atmosphere, that overriding feeling that no matter what else is going on in the world, no matter our differences or where we’re from, music will give us a bond that cannot be shaken. Every player here nails it, and even switching between languages wasn’t distracting at all. I came away feeling like this was a completely, beautifully realized project.

I wish this was a full-length album. Full marks.

 

Hit It Or Quit It!

Time to go for a rip through more LPs from the giant box from brother Craig! I’ll be getting lots of time in the Man Cave, in the next while, so I’m gonna drop that needle…

Captain Beyond – Captain Beyond

I played this and it sounded really familiar… because I had already played it, and reviewed it August 9, 2015! Here’s what I said then:

Crazy good rock record. How could it not be? You’ve got Rod Evans (Deep Purple) on vocals, Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt (Iron Butterfly) on guitars, Lee Dorman (Iron Butterfly) on bass, piano and organ, and Bobby Caldwell (Armageddon, Johnny Winter) on drums. Ah yes. Lots of moments where I heard Hendrix, or Santana, or others, but they always sounded themselves, too. My copy (another score from the boxes from Craig) has big marks across Side 1, but it played through fine on the Rega. The cover is also definitely showing wear since its manufacture in 1972. Hard to know whether to keep this copy or not – it ain’t pretty but it plays fine.

Honestly, after this year’s listen, I have nothing to add.

Hit or Quit? Hit! Damn straight.

***

Captain Beyond – Sufficiently Breathless

Great title, ‘cos that’s what this record left me… (insert title here). They swapped out Bobby Caldwell for Marty Rodriguez on drums, but that’s it. This record sounds superb, same as the first one.

Experimental, jazzy rock is the order of the day, and I’ll take a double helping, please!

Hit or Quit? Hit it, baby! Woohoo!

***

Canned Heat – Boogie With Canned Heat

Straight up blues rock, and a total classic.

Yes, this one has On The Road Again, but I actually preferred a lot of the other tracks here to that one. Right up my alley!

Hit or Quit? Hit hit hit hit hit!

***

Ray Charles Singers – Quiet Moments For Young Lovers

Wowzers, this is Lawrence Welk territory. It’s lovely, but not really my thing.

Flashback to your grandparent’s place 30 years ago… yeah.

Hit or Quit? Quit. It wouldn’t really be something I’d play again.

 

***

Stay tuned for more Hit It Or Quit It, I’m hoping to make great strides into the stacks in the next while! Thanks for Reading!

SLCR #250: Mother Mother (July 1, 2016)

TWOOOOOOOOOOOO HUNDRED AND FIFTY! My goodness. To celebrate the occasion, Mika and I celebrated Canada’s birthday with Mother Mother. And my mother! And Mika’s mother! And Mika’s dad and brother, who are no less important, except in the context of this story where they totally are.

To make this review extra special, I have spent the past two+ weeks perfecting it and totally not procrastinating at all. I have not spent this weekend paying too much attention to Mika’s repeats of Grey’s Anatomy when I should have been writing this. Don’t believe what anyone tells you.

But seriously why does Arizona gotta be such a b to Callie

We were in Victoria, British Columbia for Canada Day at about the half-way point of our summer vacation. All in all, it was a delightful trip – lots of driving through gorgeous scenery and onto SEVERAL boats, lots of family time and friend time and a wedding and a podcast taping (not at the same time) (that I know of) and I saw seals up close and whales from a distance and an otter who PEED and you should really be following my Instagram if you’re interested in otter pee action.

We were staying with Mika’s family at a place we were renting in Victoria. Canada Day started when she and I went to pick my mom up at the ferry before catching up with everyone else for breakfast at the Days Inn near the house. I had some deal where they put poached eggs on samosas and topped it with a curry sauce and the whole thing was a bit on the salty side but in an amazing way? I don’t think this dish will ever be common enough to replace chicken fingers as the official food of the SLCR series but maybe it should.

Then we did what people do on Canada Day – walk around with a billion other people in red and white shirts and hats and whatever else. Our group was very conspicuously non-patriotic with only one red shirt in the bunch and I’m pretty sure that one was accidental. But our home base was a block from the legislature buildings where all the festivities were taking place, so we looked at all the vendors (Mika bought a painting), roamed the grounds of the legislature, and took our picture with a Mountie in full dress uniform which is about as Canadian a thing as there is. Satisfied with our Canada Day experience thus far, we returned (via a most circuitous route) to the Days Inn to do some drinking.

Suitably refreshed, we headed back out. There were bands playing for Canada Day – in case you were wondering what the heck the point of this overlong unnecessary blog post was – and we came across the merchandise stand. It was suggested that maybe the Mother Mother “I’m not antisocial, I’m just tired of the people” shirt would be an appropriate purchase for me. What are you trying to say, MOM?

We wandered over to where the bands were playing. Mika left to find a washroom and came back to report she saw someone getting arrested for being too drunk, and when he cops were frisking him, he was giggling “tee hee hee, I’m ticklish!” and this was great and I’m sad that I missed it.

We hung out there for about an hour and saw a local, no-audition choir called The Choir who sings all your favourite pop hits. I was… let’s say, skeptical. But they opened with Birdhouse in Your Soul by They Might Be Giants and that won me over. They sang for about 45 minutes, including Call Me Maybe, With or Without You, Dancing in the Dark, Summer of ’69, and Mass Romantic. There was a David Bowie song and a Taylor Swift song and as is now mandatory in Canada, a Tragically Hip cover – this time, Wheat Kings. Which, I gotta say, is maybe not the fun-time summer jam I would have picked.

As it had at this point been a good 90 minutes since we’d shoved anything into our face holes, we wandered away in search of food. On our way, we watched another drunk get arrested – unfortunately, this one wasn’t amusingly ticklish. We met up with more of Mika’s family at some place I don’t remember the name of, but the burger I had was good, so get that if you go there. Wherever it was.

While there, we were treated to exclusively Canadian music in the background – lots more Hip, but also everything from Anne Murray to Gordon Lightfoot, Rush, Sarah McLachlan, Great Big Sea, and whatever else. This all inspired me to look up what was happening back home in Regina. Victoria got Mother Mother, and Regina’s Canada Day headliners were Doug and the Slugs. Yes. I then had to do research to determine if this was the original lineup, and it was not. Sadly, Doug has passed away. He was replaced with a new singer who is not even named Doug. In fairness, I can see how making it mandatory would limit their options.

HEY there was a kid eating with us and he had chicken fingers I’m pretty sure! I legitimately just realized this now and I am oddly delighted about this thing that I completely forget about nine reviews out of ten these days.

Anyway. With dinner done, we wandered back to the legislature and oh my. I had thought it was busy there before. I did not even know. It was now completely mobbed with people in their finest red and white dollar store novelty Canadian flag t-shirts. We wandered down to the docks to find a place to sit and watch some girl get raised to the top of a boat’s mast so she could take selfies at the top. Mika’s brother and I went in search of mini-donuts, but returned empty handed as I’m quite certain it would have taken an hour to get through the mini-donut line and nobody needs mini-donuts that badly. Though a lot of people seemed to think they do.

While we were on this mission, George Leach was playing. He played a fine set of rock that I really have nothing to say about. There were a million people all over and we never even saw the stage and we were searching for mini-donuts and trying to stop my mom from kidnapping someone’s dog and trying to stop Mika’s mom from kidnapping someone’s baby. It was busy work and we didn’t really pay the music much attention. I mean, I listened enough to think “this is good” but nothing beyond that.

In between sets, there were some nattering DJs from a local radio station. The lady was in a band called Carmanah and she sang a few songs and she was fine.

When it was time for Mother Mother to start, Mika and I wandered away from the docks and off toward the stage. This was maybe not the most effective thing we have ever done. I mean, we got closer, close enough to even see the stage, though it was still pretty hard to discern the actual humans who were performing. We could have gotten closer if we really wanted to swing some elbows, but staying further back seemed preferable. We were on the street, with me in a prime spot to watch people nearly turf it as they didn’t realize they were stepping off a curb. This happened 50 times and was never not funny.

I am not the biggest Mother Mother fan in the world – I don’t dislike them either, they’re just one of those bands that are good but who I don’t think about a lot. I saw them once before at the Regina Folk Festival and liked it, and this set was really fun too – lots of energy and a really enthusiastic crowd. And at least where we were, an oddly well-behaved crowd given what I’m sure they’d all been consuming. Anyway, we got the handful of Mother Mother songs I know – Monkey Tree, Let’s Fall in Love, and later on, Get Out the Way. No Hip song (though I thought one was coming at one point), but we did get Nirvana’s In Bloom for some reason.

It wasn’t a super long set – about 45 minutes or so as per the schedule. This was fine by me – they didn’t overstay their welcome and had to wrap things up in time for fireworks. They were nice – maybe a little better than what we get for Canada Day at home, but not much. The fireworks were out over the water and our folks probably had a better view than we did, but I am certain we got to smell way more pot stink, so that’s a thing. There wasn’t much when the bands were playing, but my goodness, the fireworks brought it out.

We had agreed that the house would be our rendezvous point after everything was over. This turned out to be wise, as there was no way we could have swam upstream to meet up with our people. Instead, we joined the hordes leaving the grounds, listening to throngs of drunks singing O Canada. One recurring theme of the day that I’ve yet to mention is that they recently changed the lyrics from “in all thy sons command” to “in all of us command” and nobody seemed sure whether this is actually an official thing yet, so the crowd-approved technique is just to quietly mumble your way through that line and hope everyone else carries it. Unfortunately, everyone else singing has the same idea, so it’s a lot of O Canada / our home and native land / true patriot love / in allllaaaahhmmmmuhhhh command – which at least has the benefit of not needing to be translated into French.

We got back to the house and everyone else met us there. We hung out for a while and got into the chips while the crowd dispersed. I have been stuck in traffic for hours leaving Canada Day celebrations in Saskatoon, so I was really impressed with how quickly they cleared everything out. We drove my mom to her hotel after a short while, and you’d never know there’d been a big party just an hour or so before. Except for getting spot-checked three times over the course of the drive. That was a clue.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Gateway Festival w/Sloan, Corb Lund, Limblifter, Shotgun Jimmie, Bry Webb, more (July 22)
• The Tragically Hip (August 1)
• Regina Folk Festival w/The Head and The Heart, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Sam Roberts Band, The Mavericks, Bettye LaVette, The Cat Empire, The Strumbellas, Frazey Ford, more (August 5-7)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic (August 14)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat (October 5)
• I Mother Earth (October 8)

Kendrick Lamar – Good Kid/m.A.A.d. City

Well, I ended the recent Stones Run yesterday, so let’s take a total left turn, shall we? YES WE SHALL!

I bought this record after a recommendation from the illustrious Marshall Gu at Free City Sounds. If you aren’t Following his blog already, folks, go do it now!

Anyway, if you want a review, GO READ MARSHALL’S. He went so far as to give it an A+.

Note: My copy is the 2CD version, with CD2 having 4 extra tracks. It’s the only version I’ve ever seen, in the shops. Lots of appearances here too, like Dr. Dre (two tracks), Jay-Z, Drake, Mary J. Blige, MC Eiht, Jay Rock, and Anna Wise. Uncredited appearances include Pharell Williams, Chad Hugo (Neptunes), and Schoolboy Q.

Anyway, since I can’t see the point in trying to top what Marshall wrote, I’ll just write a bit from my gut…

I should preface this by saying that I don’t listen to a whole ton of hip hop, so I have no real cred here, but I will say that I know what I like when I hear it, and this record is one that I loved by instinct. This really is an incredible record. Every song is its own animal, yet the whole thing manages to flow as a complete album should. The bass is huge, the flow is relaxed yet also quick, the voices span the whole range, and the songwriting is fascinating. The lyrics are largely quite excellent.

And even with that, there were a couple of things I could have done without… and I should preface this by saying that living here in my white middle class existence in Canada, I don’t know the first thing about what it’s like to live in Compton. At all. So probably this stuff is normal and expected.

I am not much for skits on rap records. I know there’s a tradition, but to me, it wrecks the flow, not unlike What’s He Building In There, on Tom Waits’ (otherwise perfect) Mule Variations album. They’re interesting the first run-through, but after that it’s just distraction. I’d leave them off. I could also do without all the n-word and hos crap. I know it’s pervasive in the genre, and I have to assume that they actually talk like that, but it’s sad, because it makes them sound dumber than they are. And I really do not believe that these people are dumb, not for one second.

Anyway, I did still enjoy this record a ton, it’s musically interesting, and a lot of what he has to say is intelligent and well-told. I just hope that, with maturity, his next record will leave out the silly childish crap and move towards the promise of even more greatness that I absolutely can hear in this effort.

Rolling Stones – Singles Collection: The London Years

It’s a Sunday 3-CD blow-out!! After today, I’ll probably give you a bit of a break from all of this Stones run I’ve been on. Best if I play a few other things too, but never fear. I’ll be back with more Stones at some point, as I still have a ton more here to cover!

Now, the Singles Collection boxed set…

This 1989 set is so great. Honestly. 58 tracks on 3 CDs… all the singles from 1963-1971, from Chuck Berry’s Come On through to Wild Horses and Brown Sugar. Most are still in their mono mixes, and it covers all the UK and US singles (their decade with Decca and London Records).

Wiki points out some omissions:

The only omissions are four B-sides from 1970 and 1971. “Bitch” and “Let It Rock” (released in the UK on the “Brown Sugar” single) and “Sway” (B-side to “Wild Horses”). Allen Klein did not have release rights to this material when this compilation was released. Also not included was “Natural Magic”, a Ry Cooder instrumental, released as the B-side to the 1970 Mick Jagger single “Memo from Turner”. These are available on the box set Singles 1968–1971 except “Let It Rock” which is available on the box set Singles 1971–2006 and the Rarities 1971–2003 album.

Folks, if ever you needed a master class in brilliance, this set would be a great place to start. Just have a look at the track listing (below), to fully behold the majesty. Here you have every reason why these guys became one of the biggest bands in the world.

I own the big, original, LP-sized 3CD version of this. I know it’s been re-released  as a digipak, for those who have limited storage space.

And how many times have I played this, in my life? “Oh… a few*…”

Seriously folks, if you can get your hands on a copy of this (which should be easy to do), do not hesitate. It’s an absolute gold mine of early Stones tracks. What a band!

* Where “a few” means (at least) a zillion.

Let your eyes fall upon all of the majesty:

Track listing:

Disc 1
1 Come On (Chuck Berry)
2 I Want To Be Loved (Willie Dixon)
3 I Wanna Be Your Man (John Lennon/Paul McCartney)
4 Stoned (Nanker Phelge)
5 Not Fade Away (Charles Hardin/Norman Petty)
6 Little by Little (Nanker Phelge/Phil Spector)
7 It’s All Over Now (Bobby Womack/Shirley Jean Womack)
8 Good Times, Bad Times
9 Tell Me
10 I Just Want To Make Love to You (Willie Dixon)
11 Time Is On My Side (Norman Meade)
12 Congratulations
13 Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon)
14 Off the Hook
15 Heart Of Stone
16 What A Shame
17 The Last Time
18 Play With Fire (Nanker Phelge)
19 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
20 The Under Assistant West Coast Promotion Man (Nanker Phelge)
21 The Spider And The Fly
22 Get Off Of My Cloud
23 I’m Free
24 The Singer Not The Song
25 As Tears Go By (Mick Jagger/Keith Richards/Andrew Loog Oldham)

Disc 2
1 Gotta Get Away
2 19th Nervous Breakdown
3 Sad Day
4 Paint It, Black
5 Stupid Girl
6 Long Long While
7 Mother’s Little Helper
8 Lady Jane
9 Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
10 Who’s Driving Your Plane?
11 Let’s Spend the Night Together
12 Ruby Tuesday
13 We Love You
14 Dandelion
15 She’s A Rainbow
16 2000 Light Years from Home
17 In Another Land (Bill Wyman)
18 The Lantern
19 Jumpin’ Jack Flash
20 Child Of The Moon

Disc 3
1 Street Fighting Man
2 No Expectations
3 Surprise, Surprise
4 Honky Tonk Women
5 You Can’t Always Get What You Want
6 Memo From Turner (Released as a Mick Jagger solo single in November 1970)
7 Brown Sugar
8 Wild Horses
9 I Don’t Know Why (Stevie Wonder/Paul Riser/Don Hunter/Lula Hardaway)
10 Try A Little Harder
11 Out Of Time
12 Jiving Sister Fanny
13 Sympathy For The Devil

Rolling Stones – Big Hits: High Tide And Green Grass, and Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)

It’s a Saturday two-fer of Stones! YAY!

I bought both of these discs at Ernie King’s Music on the main drag of Wingham, ON, when I was still in high school. Man, Ernie King’s… that takes me back. He sold musical instruments, offered lessons, did repairs, and had a small music section at the front. Cool place!

Big Hits (High Tide and Green Grass)

Released in 1966 (US) and 1968 (UK), with different covers and track listings (of course). And, as usual, it’s a brilliant blast of Stones. Not a bad song here, I love the early stuff.

What’s most interesting is the differences between the releases. The UK release had two more tracks over all. Many of the tracks are the same, however, and they’re in a different running order…

The UK got:

Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Paint It, Black
Come On
Lady Jane
Little Red Rooster

whereas the US got:

Tell Me
Good Times, Bad Times

Of course, it was a big success all over the place, and it remains a cool source for a sweet swath of early Stones hits. I love it!

Track Listings (All songs by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except where noted.):

UK:

Side 1
1 Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?
2 Paint It, Black
3 It’s All Over Now (B. Womack/S. J. Womack)
4 The Last Time
5 Heart Of Stone
6 Not Fade Away (Petty/Hardin)
7 Come On (Chuck Berry)

Side 2
1 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
2 Get Off Of My Cloud
3 As Tears Go By (Jagger/Richard/Oldham)
4 19th Nervous Breakdown
5 Lady Jane
6 Time Is On My Side (Meade)
7 Little Red Rooster (Willie Dixon)

US :

Side 1
1 (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
2 The Last Time
3 As Tears Go By (Jagger/Richards/Andrew Loog Oldham)
4 Time Is On My Side (Norman Meade)
5 It’s All Over Now (Bobby Womack/Shirley Jean Womack)
6 Tell Me (You’re Coming Back)

Side 2
1 19th Nervous Breakdown
2 Heart Of Stone
3 Get Off Of My Cloud
4 Not Fade Away (Norman Petty/Charles Hardin)
5 Good Times, Bad Times
6 Play with Fire (Nanker Phelge)

***

Through The Past Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2)

Released just after Brian Jones’ departure from the band (and subsequent death) in 1969, the vinyl release of this one had an octagonal cover (cool!).

From Wiki:

The name of the album is a play on a line from the KJV translation of I Corinthians 13: For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face…, but it is more likely the Stones intended a homage to Ingmar Bergman and his 1961 film Through a Glass Darkly.

In the inside flap of the album, there is an anonymous poem chosen by Jones, which reads: When this you see, remember me, and bear me in your mind. Let all the world say what they may, speak of me as you find.

And once again, there were differences between the UK and US editions. The UK got one extra track, and again they’re in a different track order…

The UK got:

You Better Move On
We Love You
Sittin’ On A Fence

The US got:

Paint It, Black
Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing In The Shadow?

Track Listings (All songs by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards, except where noted.):

UK:

Side 1
1 Jumpin’ Jack Flash (Originally released as a single in May 1968)
2 Mother’s Little Helper
3 2000 Light Years from Home
4 Let’s Spend the Night Together (Originally released as a single in January 1967)
5 You Better Move On (Arthur Alexander) (Originally released on the 1964 EP The Rolling Stones)
6 We Love You (Edited version; originally released as a single in August 1967)

Side 2
1 Street Fighting Man
2 She’s a Rainbow
3 Ruby Tuesday (Originally released as a single in January 1967)
4 Dandelion ( Edited version; Originally released as a single in August 1967)
5 Sittin’ on a Fence (Originally released on the American compilation Flowers in July 1967)
6 Honky Tonk Women (Originally released as a single in July 1969)

US:

Side 1
1 Paint It Black
2 Ruby Tuesday
3 She’s a Rainbow
4 Jumpin’ Jack Flash
5 Mother’s Little Helper
6 Let’s Spend the Night Together

Side 2
1 Honky Tonk Women
2 Dandelion
3 2000 Light Years from Home
4 Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby, Standing in the Shadow?
5 Street Fighting Man

***

In Sum:

It’s a no-brainer, folks: buy them both! You decide if you want UK or US edition. Hell, buy all 4!

Rolling Stones – Rewind

I got my copy of this, of all places, in a furniture store in a small town near my home when I was in high school. I know. Stranger places to find things may exist, but one never knows where gems will turn up. It pays to keep your eyes open at all times!

It may have been a rarity even then, I don’t know for sure, but my researches into it now show it is out of print.

Released in 1984, covering 1971-1984, this compilation marks the end of their time at Warner Music and EMI. There are two different track listings, one for UK and one for US releases (see below).

Overall, I have to say I quite liked this compilation back then, and I still like it now! I like the inclusion of Hang Fire, I always felt that one should have been a big hit amongst their other big hits. The UK got She’s So Cold and Respectable.

I’m having great fun zapping back through all of these compilations, for this series, and I definitely included Rewind in the fun times. In truth, I don’t really even need to be playing this disc, I know the songs so well. I could just be writing them up and slapping them in here, but where is the fun in that? I like further imprinting these tunes into my brain, so let it play!

With it out of print, I suppose I should add that if you see a copy of the old original disc, get it!

And now here are the two different track lists! Mine is the US version…

UK:
1 Brown Sugar
2 Undercover of the Night
3 Start Me Up
4 Tumbling Dice
5 It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)
6 She’s So Cold
7 Miss You
8 Beast of Burden
9 Fool to Cry
10 Waiting on a Friend
11 Angie
12 Respectable

In the 1986 CD release, Hang Fire replaced She’s So Cold, while Emotional Rescue and Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) were added.

US:
1 Miss You
2 Brown Sugar
3 Undercover of the Night
4 Start Me Up
5 Tumbling Dice
6 Hang Fire – 2:21
7 It’s Only Rock ‘n Roll (But I Like It)
8 Emotional Rescue
9 Beast of Burden
10 Fool to Cry
11 Waiting On a Friend
12 Angie
13 Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)

It’s Only Rock ‘N Roll (But I Like It) and Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker) added to the CD and Cassette releases

Rolling Stones – Made In The Shade

Cute Kid Preamble:

I was sitting here listening to music, the kids were playing peacefully in the other room. Suddenly, my beautiful daughter (she’s 4) came steaming into the room and shouted “What are you doing, Daddy?” Always happy to see her, I said “I’m listening to the Rolling Stones, sweetheart.”

She put her hands on her hips, cocked her head to one side, and loudly said “The Rolling Stones?!?! THEY ROCK*!!” Then she ran off to find her brother.

Parenting. Sometimes it’s really easy to know when you’re doing it correctly. This was one of those times.

*  Emphasis hers.

***

Ah, Made In The Shade. I found my old CD copy of this one while it was nigh on impossible to get (out of print? Definitely pre-internet, anyway). I was well chuffed to get it, and have held onto it all these years. Looks like it was remastered and released again in 2005, for those who wanna get it more easily.

This is a great rockin’ compilation. The first comp of their Atlantic Records, released in 1975, it features only tunes from their first 4 Atlantic records (Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St., Goat’s Head Soup, and It’s Only Rock ’n Roll). Even better, it’s all rockin’ tunes, with the exception of Wild Horses and Angie, sandwiched in the middle of the disc.

As Wiki points out:

Although Made in the Shade bought The Rolling Stones time to deliver their next studio album (they were mid-way through recording Black and Blue upon this album’s June 1975 release), it was also released to capitalise on the band’s summer Tour of the Americas, featuring Ronnie Wood for the first time in Mick Taylor’s place. Wood, fitting in so well, was asked to remain in the band on a permanent basis following the tour’s conclusion.

Personally, I love this disc. I always found it weird that they put Rip This Joint in as the last track. It ought to have been higher – that one makes you wanna go go GO! But no matter. There’s nothing here that isn’t on an album already, no bonus or exclusive tracks, but it’s still a rockin’ good time!

The Songs:

Brown Sugar
Tumbling Dice
Happy
Dance Little Sister
Wild Horses
Angie
Bitch
It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (But I Like It)
Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)
Rip This Joint

Rolling Stones – More Hot Rocks

Yesterday we had a look at the awesomeness of Hot Rocks. Today, it’s time to have a look at its companion, More Hot Rocks!

Here’s the story (from Wiki):

When Hot Rocks 1964–1971 proved to be a big seller, there was never any doubt that a successor would follow. However, initially—with Andrew Loog Oldham getting involved—the project was to feature previously unreleased (or more accurately, discarded) material and be titled Necrophilia. Artwork was prepared and the album made it as far as the mastering phase when it was recalled and something a little more practical was compiled (ABKCO would revisit this concept with 1975’s Metamorphosis). The result was More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies).

Featuring the hits that could not be shoehorned onto its predecessor, as well as first-time release of many previously UK-only releases, the double album was quickly pressed and distributed into North American shops in December 1972, reaching No. 9 in the US and going gold. 

And here’s proof that Andrew Loog Oldham was an interesting dude. From the More Hot Rocks liner notes:

Andrew Loog Oldham’s liner notes, as preserved on the 1990 CD release, read:

way back when / the sleepy owls of the brill building / brillcreamed and braincreamed that melody was coming back / and lo it had / it flew past their windows yesterday / as Paulie, a bebeatled ballade / Lennon’s advocate for the Kalin Twins (who is the other jaggered half?) / seen so far away / and today will never come to the Judas Iscariots / who mock the hands that feed them / from here within / December’s Children and the Aftermath of the war of the parking lots / stay away from new caddies, they’re faulty / stick with our original edsel / the 17 + 8 / 8 from the brown cookie bag baked yesteryear and preserved and never before sold in your local deli / that remained (excuse me Mr Gershwin, I need another dime) standards of yesterday and now / good times, bad times to you all and have you seen your mother baby, balling in the alley

Haha OK Andrew, whatever you say!

Anyway, what’s this like to listen to? Fascinating! Knowing all the studio albums as I do, most of this isn’t much of a surprise to me, but the extra stuff made it worth it. I’ve played this set so many times, over the years, and I can confirm that it plays really well as a compilation. Hot Rocks was top to bottom radio hits, whereas this one has a few that fans of only the hits might not ever have heard. Which is a shame, because these are great tunes too! I really, really like it! This time through, I still loved No Expectations and Let It Bleed (duh), but Money and I Can’t Be Satisfied stood out. Next time, it’ll surely be others.

In my mind, Hot Rocks and More Hot Rocks are both essential – one for the big hits, and the other for the ones you also need to know equally well!

Check it out:

CD1:
Tell Me
Not Fade Away
The Last Time
It’s All Over Now
Good Times, Bad Times
I’m Free
Out Of Time
Lady Jane
Sittin’ On A Fence
Have You Seen Your Mother Baby, Standing In The Shadow?
Dandelion
We Love You

CD2:
She’s A Rainbow
2000 Light Years From Home
Child Of The Moon
No Expectations
Let It Bleed

and here’s where CD2 gets even more interesting with rarer stuff!

What to Do (First released in 1966 on the British edition of Aftermath)

Money (Berry Gordy Jr/Janie Bradford) – (First released in 1964 on the UK EP The Rolling Stones)

Come On (Chuck Berry) – (The Rolling Stones’ 1963 debut single in the UK, this was its first release in the US)

Fortune Teller (Naomi Neville) – (Recorded in 1963 and released in the UK in 1964 on the various artists LP Saturday Club)

Poison Ivy (Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller) – (Recorded in 1963 and released in the UK in 1964 on the various artist LP Saturday Club)

Bye Bye Johnnie (Chuck Berry) – (First released in 1964 on the EP The Rolling Stones as Bye Bye Johnny)

I Can’t Be Satisfied (McKinley Morganfield) – (Originally released on the UK album The Rolling Stones No. 2 in 1965)

Long, Long While (Originally released as the UK B-side to Paint It Black in 1966)

OMG NEW PIXIES!!

Thanks to sharp-eyed James for catching this news and forwarding it on to me!

Yessir, the Pixies have a new track, Um Chagga Lagga, and it has a great punk-like driving energy. It sounds totally like them. I loved it.

The new album, Head Carrier, drops September 30!

CLICK HERE FOR MORE NEWS!! SERIOUSLY, CLICKY CLICKY!

Wahooooo!!

Rolling Stones – Hot Rocks

Today’s Stones instalment is a bit of a cheat. I mean, we’ve all heard these songs a zillion times in our lives. And I’ve heard most (if not all of them) in recent days on other (later) compilations and various live records that I’ve been playing. But as I was scanning my CD shelves in the Man Cave, my eye fell on this set, an old friend indeed, and I knew I had to bring it up here. I’ve played the hell out of this set, over the years. For the longest time, it was the only place I knew to get Honky Tonk Women, too (it was a non-album single).

Crazy to think, Hot Rocks was released without input from the band, and it became their biggest selling album:

Hot Rocks 1964–1971 was released without input by The Rolling Stones (as was More Hot Rocks (Big Hits & Fazed Cookies)). The album has spent 262 weeks on the US Billboard 200 chart (between 1972-2016) and peaked at #4. After selling in excess of six million copies, it was certified twelve times platinum, as per RIAA rules regarding double album releases. It has ended up as their best-selling album. The UK release was delayed for many years, coming out on 21 May 1990, to coincide with the Urban Jungle Tour, reaching No. 3.

Ah hell, since we’re at it, let’s let Wiki will tell us the story of it:

Hot Rocks 1964–1971 is the first compilation album of Rolling Stones music released by former manager Allen Klein’s ABKCO Records (who gained control of the band’s Decca/London material in 1970) after the band’s departure from Decca and Klein. Released in late 1971, it proved to be The Rolling Stones’ biggest-selling release of their career and an enduring and popular retrospective.

After reportedly having been duped by Klein to unknowingly sign over the recording copyrights to all of their material from 1963 to 1970, The Rolling Stones left Decca and formed their own label, Rolling Stones Records, with a new distributor. They recorded Sticky Fingers throughout 1970, releasing it the following spring. Although Klein—and now ABKCO—no longer had The Rolling Stones as clients, their fruitful catalogue was ripe for the picking and, thus, Hot Rocks 1964–1971 was quickly compiled as a double album greatest hits package.

While the album carries most of the band’s biggest hits during their first decade, it does drop a few of them to include standout tracks such as “Play With Fire”, “Under My Thumb” and “Gimme Shelter” giving listeners a more well-rounded impression of The Rolling Stones’ music in this era. Although “Brown Sugar” and “Wild Horses” are a part of Sticky Fingers, those two songs are co-owned by the band and Allen Klein because The Rolling Stones recorded the songs while they were still under contract to Decca.

For me, I skip all of that label crap, and who owns what – that’s their business. I’m only after the tunes. And owning this set in my formative teens and 20s was really amazing. Just look at this track listing. Yes, we can say this or that song should be here, but same as I said elsewhere about these guys: if you want more, just own all the albums (I do!).

Look at all the majesty. Just look at it! What a band!

CD1:
Time Is On My Side (guitar intro version)
Heart Of Stone
Play With Fire
(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction
As Tears Go By
Get Off Of My Cloud
Mother’s Little Helper
19th Nervous Breakdown
Paint It, Black
Under My Thumb
Ruby Tuesday
Let’s Spend The Night Together

CD2:
Jumpin’ Jack Flash
Street Fighting Man
Sympathy For the Devil
Honky Tonk Women
Gimme Shelter
Midnight Rambler (live, Madison Square Garden, NYC 1969-11-28)
You Can’t Always Get What You Want
Brown Sugar
Wild Horses

2016 So Far

I don’t look at our site stats, hardly ever, although I will post our year-end stats when they email them to us. WP tracks that stuff, I say go ahead if you want to, WP!

However, inspired by Deke’s recent post about stats on his excellent site, I thought I’d blow the dust off this portion of the blog and have a peek to see what’s been popular for us in 2016 so far…

 

Our top ten posts/pages so far (views):

1. Home page / Archives (1110)

This makes sense to me, people coming to the main page to see the newest post, or clicking the banner at the top to come back to the main page.

2. KMA Sunday Service Week 4 (123)

This post reminded folks about our (then upcoming) Top 15 Albums Of All Time collaborative posts, talked about Alan Frew’s stroke, my bottle of the Tragically Hip wine (as of today, still not opened!), and how awesome my kids are. Also, how too many tags seem like spam to WP, and mention of my new (to me) Sony walkman for cassettes.

I did blurbs on Bill Evans’ Symbiosis, Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti 3LP deluxe, Rolling Stones – From the Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971 CD/DVD, and some new releases that excited me greatly.

3. Another January Death (104)

This was my rant about René Angelil.

4. Iron Maiden 2016-04-03

Up the irons! My fantastic trip to see Iron Maiden in concert!

5. R.I.P. Paul MacLeod (84)

I’m glad this one is on this list, it means many people checked out the sad news and, hopefully, grew closer in the midst of the loss.

6. KMA Sunday Service Week 39 (77)

In this one, I did blurbs on Seven Mary Three – American Satndard, Rusty – Sophomoric, Soundgarden, down on the upside, I Mother Earth – Dig (which I later reviewed again in a group effort), Rolling Stones – Sympathy For The Devil Remix single, and Dire Straits – Brothers In Arms.

7. SLCR #242: George Thorogood & The Destroyers 20016-04-29 (73)

James picture-laden post was a success! And well it should be, it sounds like it was a great show!

8. Best Sounding Albums (73)

I asked our dear Readers what they thought were the best-sounding albums. Not most popular, Imeant in terms of production values and sound.

9. Hillary (68)

A recounting of my efforts to get a copy of Keith Richards’ Cross-Eyed Heart from Amazon, and the amazing lady who heloed me sort out a whole mess.

10. Possession (63)

My post about one of the creepiest songs I know.

***

Hits By Countries:

3872 Canada
1162 United Kingdom
1147 United States
184 Germany
130 Australia
113 France
101 Romania
73 Brazil
33 Russia
23 Italy

I am thrilled that we have Readers in all of these countries! Thanks, everyone!

***

And to make Mike proud…

Our top 10 search terms that led people to the KMA:

1. 94.5 the bull

This must be from my radio rant series, where I listened to a local station per day, for an hour, and reported on what I heard. Someone at the Bull must be ego-Googling pretty damn hard.

2. jessica leonard photo album 100 and roy and ro 100

What? I Googled Jessica and it seems she was an overweight girl who died young. I am confused as to how this led anyone to our music site.

3. amazon music foo fighters b sides

Awesome, I like the Foos! But I don’t think I’ve talked much about b-sides of theirs…

4. sun brinnk milk and fucking video mom and sun

I don’t even want to know.

5. lyrics and poems book

I can get behind this! I know I covered books by John K. Samson, Ani DiFranco, and Gord Downie…

6. marillion hell

If hell is Marillion, I’m gonna sin a lot more before I die.

7. lighthouse hotel gah@lliee rite

Um, OK? How did this bring you here?

8. best fucking in the week

I appreciate what you were seeking, but how did you end up on our site with that search term?

9. who is the woman on scorpions love at first sting original album cover?

I don’t know who she is! Also, I never wrote about Love At First Sting… I did Animal Magnetism, Face The Heat, and Best Of Rockers And Ballads.

10. wordpress.com keepsmealive

This also makes sense. People who know the site, searching for it. Then they can bookmark it!

***

Thanks to all of you for reading. Without our dear Readers, we’d just be yammering unheard into the ether. We appreciate each and every one of you!

Rolling Stones – Still Life (American Concert 1981)

Here it is Monday morning and I’m still at it. This isn’t even a Stones run, anymore, folks. It’s a goddamn Stones binge.

I love it.

Well holy hell, here we go with a classic. How many times have I played this one? Who’s counting?

We start with style, and that good ol’ Take The A Train intro that break into the crowd screaming as the band rips into Under My Thumb. It’s a long intro, must’ve taken Mick a while to get to the mic, hahaha. This version is ingrained in my brain, those guitars always sounded that little bit off, distorted but in a good way. No matter, they’re on good form out of the gates.

Mick hopes everyone watching at home has a few beers and some joints to enjoy the show, saying why don’t we Let’s Spend The Night Together. Oh Mick. This rocker has a cool, sassy energy, mainly powered by the metronomic drumming of my main man, Charlie Watts. Up next is Some Girls’ Shattered, again with those warbly guitars. I’ve owned this CD for years, and always thought maybe something was wrong with my copy, maybe something in the transfer to CD. But it has to be the way it sounded, and it’s alright by me these days. It’s a rocking, almost 70s lite-punker version.

Eddie Cochran’s Twenty Flight Rock is next, practically a standard in the songbook, by now. Holy fuck I love their take, here. It’s short, but it gets the job done. It’s like Mick’s best Elvis impersonation, at times, and the band is right there with him. The Stones do rockabilly? Fuck yes.

The Miracles’ Going To A Go-Go thumps its way into the setlist next, and it’s a weird one (for the band) that I love. It feels out of left field, probably because it is, but despite that, they make it their own and Bobby Keys puts his inimitable sax stamp on it, so it’s all good.

There’s a fade-out here, I don’t know what happened, maybe just a break in recording of the show. Emotional Rescue’s Let Me Go is next, and it’s a full-tilt boogie in that classic old style that’ll rock yer socks off. Goddamn. This show is a frickin’ party, dammit. Get up and dance!

Now it’s time for a beautiful, late-night slow dance trip though Time Is On My Side. I’m sure the cigarette lighters were waving back and forth for this one, as it throbs and wheels its way to a gorgeous close. Just My Imagination (Running Away With Me) is next, full of soul and a bit of the blues and still remembering they’ve just entered a new decade (the 80s). It’s a perfect storm.

Start Me Up starts off thin on that single guitar line until Charlie’s bass drum drops and the rest of the band crashes in. It’s a pretty straight-forward take on this classic, after that. The ending is cool, that guitar note briefly hanging as the band stops abruptly. Man, the crowd’s in a frenzy now. The band likely was too.

And good thing, because they’re storming through a fast and vicious (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. Wowzers, talk about a blast-off late in the show. Proof this band has what t takes! All it needs is fireworks and topless dancers shaking their moneymakers… Mick would agree! And as an outro, it’s the Star Spangled Banner and ah, there’s the fireworks! It’s been a while since I ran through this disc but I knew they were here!

Final Note:

There were claims that this record was too slick, too polished. Worse, some complained that Just My Imagination was edited and therefore this is somehow invalid yada yada. Folks, this record rocked, and all the nit-pickers can go get lost. The rest of us will turn it the hell up!

In Sum:

Fuckin’ A. Stones live in 1981. Any questions? I didn’t fuckin’ think so!

PS If you demand more, here’s the Wiki.

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