New Sensation

Ever since listening to that live INXS record, I’ve had New Sensation in my head. It’s a classic tune, of course, and was a big hit for the band.

There’s one sections of lyrics, though, that stuck out for me, and I wonder if anyone said the same to Michael Hutchence. I hope so:

Cry baby cry
When you got to get it out
I’ll be your shoulder
You can tell me all
Don’t keep it in ya
Well that’s the reason why I’m here

Yoav – A Foolproof Escape Plan

I bought this on spec at work. I dunno, something about the cover drew me to it, even though I didn’t know anything about this artist or the music. Let’s dig in!

First, some details (hi, Wiki!):

Yoav (born Yoav Sadan on October 15, 1979 in Tel Aviv, Israel) is a singer-songwriter of Israeli-Romanian descent, raised in South Africa.

His debut album Charmed and Strange was released in early 2008. Yoav’s music features his own vocals and accompaniment by an acoustic guitar, which he uses to create electronica-style beats with his hands. He has also released two singles, “Club Thing” and “Beautiful Lie”, the former having some success and charting in countries around Europe. His song “Adore Adore” was also featured in “Redwood”, an episode of The Mentalist. He also had a version of his cover song of “Where Is My Mind?” featured in the 2011 film Sucker Punch, which starred actress and singer Emily Browning. The song was subsequently included on the soundtrack.

His father, a Jewish architect who lived through World War II in his native Romania, before moving to Israel (where Yoav was born) and then relocating to South Africa with Yoav’s opera singer mother.

Well then, what about the music? It’s really something! As it’s noted above, he sings and plays guitar. There are definitely some interesting noises throughout, but not in any obnoxious way, and I couldn’t tell if they were even electronic. I’d have to see him playing to know what was what, but there’s definitely looping pedals involved.

The songs are hypnotic, with a world music flavour (does that even make sense? It just feels global). It’s singer-songwriter-y, but not in that obnoxious coffeehouse way. Each song feels huge, expansive, even though most of them also feel up close and personal. It defies labels, judiciously using elements as they best serve each song’s heart.

Going into this, I had no expectations, just curiosity. Coming out the other side of having heard it, I am drawn back to track one because it all needs more attention (though I’m becoming a quick fan of this album). Clearly, I am struggling a bit trying to describe this. I think it’s just something you have to hear for yourself, more than once if you can. I recommend it!

In Sum:

Sometimes I buy discs just to try them out, and often they are OK but nothing special, or will receive few replays. This one, though… this one definitely has that extra-ordinary, strong something that will demand further listens. Score!

 

The Tracks: Greed / Moonbike / Safety In Numbers / Yellowbrite Smile / Spidersong / Little Black Box / Easy Chair / Anonymous / 6/8 Dream / We Are All Dancing

RIP Sib Hashian

Former Boston drummer passed away March 22, 2017, after collapsing mid-set while drumming on a cruise ship. He was 67.

 

 

Lazy Friday Continues

So this morning you got to read some copy/pasted stuff about an album I loved, so here. Have some pictures.

Can you tell it’s the end of the week?

Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come

This could very well be my laziest post ever. Well, maybe just slapping up funny pictures is lazier, I dunno, but this was pretty damn lazy. No effort at all, really. Why? I was too busy cranking this goddamn gem of an album!

The following is all well worth a read, and I could type all of this out, but why? Take it, Wiki!

This album marked a sharp and conscious departure from Refused’s earlier work. The philosophy of the album, expounded in the ample liner notes and encapsulated in the song “New Noise”, was that punk and hardcore music could not be anti-establishment by continuing to package revolutionary lyrics in sounds which had been increasingly co-opted into the mainstream. The sound of the record challenged existing punk sensibilities; it can be seen as “punk” at a fundamental level and includes experimental combinations of post-hardcore, post-punk, techno, and jazz sounds. The album reveals musical differences to pop punk bands such as Green Day and Blink-182, and also to even more traditional punk rock bands such as Bad Religion and Pennywise.

The album also includes “political interludes” between some songs. The use of more technological sounds or drum and bass music, particularly on The New Noise Theology E.P. which followed the album, is a tactic that various members of Refused have credited to the influence of Philadelphia punk band Ink & Dagger.

Samples and “borrowed” material

  • The song title Worms of the Senses / Faculties of the Skull is an allusion to a line from Allen Ginsberg’s long poem “Howl”.
  • The Deadly Rhythm features a musical quotation of Bo Diddley’s 1959 R&B song I’m a Man.
  • The break in New Noise samples Col. Kurtz’s famous monologue from the 1979 Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now.
  • Tannhäuser / Derivè includes a reference to the theme The Augurs of Spring: Dances of the Young Girls from Igor Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
  • The spoken text at the start of Protest Song ’68 comes from the opening of the Henry Miller novel Tropic of Cancer.
  • The album’s title The Shape of Punk to Come and the song of the same name are a reference to Ornette Coleman’s 1959 avant-garde jazz album The Shape of Jazz to Come.
  • The cover artwork is taken from the cover of Teenage Dance Session by Rye Coalition, which is of itself a copy of an earlier album cover.
  • The title of the song Refused are Fucking Dead is a reference to the Born Against song Born Against are Fucking Dead.

Or, try this:

Originally released in 1998, The Shape of Punk to Come “blurs the lines that separate punk, metal and hardcore, while peppering this brutal fusion with bits of techno percussion, jazzy rhythmic change-ups and long, complex song structures that support politically-charged messages,” (CMJ, 1998). Refused’s most critically acclaimed and final album exploded on the scene with the jaw-dropping hardcore anthem “New Noise,” which Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello once described as “one of the great rock jams of all time” (Filter, 2006), and helped change the game forever influencing a range of genres still to this day.

Or this!

It’s a ballsy move to claim you’re reinventing a musical genre that has been slogging along quite happily for more than two decades, but the Refused back up their chutzpah with an absolutely awe-inspiring and fearless slab of musical mayhem. The Shape of Punk to Come is nothing short of a punk-rock manifesto. Hardcore pathos is merely the foundation for their architecture: upon that they build an edifice of political expression with a take-no-prisoners approach to the search for artistic meaning and a musical liberation that includes elements of speedcore, free jazz, electronica, lo-fi, and absolutely no pop. Politics, art, and music merge into one monolithic whole. The disc starts with the spoken epigraph, “They told me that the classics never go out of style, but they do, they do,” followed by a swirling mess of noise that finally jells into the last undiscovered thunderous riff of “Worms of the Senses/Faculties of the Skull.” The song stutters, then speeds along, skips, pauses, then rolls. They follow that with the groovy Gang of Four metronomic punch of “Liberation Frequency.” When vocalist Dennis sings, “We want the airwaves back” in a sweet falsetto that belies his ability to deliver a screech not unlike a bull alligator clearing its throat, you believe this band isn’t going to gently rise up the Billboard charts; they’d rather storm the ramparts. Unfortunately, when the band writes a song called “The Refused Are Fuckin’ Dead,” they aren’t kidding around: the band broke up before the release of Shape. Let’s hope enough people hear this album to kick-start the revolution. –Tod Nelson

Well then!

All that’s left is my reaction to the album… That’s easy: HOT DAMN! I hear all sorts of other bands in this. One of my recent favourites, Dillinger Escape Plan, and old faves Rage Against The Machine, for sure. But nevermind all of that, just rock to the damn record. Holy crap, it’s loud, it hits hard, it’s experimental and fascinating, and I totally understand why folks drooled all over this one. Pure classic.

GET THIS.

What’s Your Rap Name?

Try this (and put your results in the comments below!):

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apparently, I’m Lil Pretzel Goldfish.

I’ll call my album “This Record Is Making Me Thirsty!”

INXS – Live Baby Live

I used to own this, years ago. It was a cassette, of course. No idea what happened to it. So when this came in at work and no one else bought it, nostalgia washed over me and I grabbed it up right quick.

INXS was a big part of our childhood listening, especially Kick and, for myself more than my sister, X. Honestly, I imagine it was the same for a lot of people. This live album (from 1991), is their “…first live album. It was released on 11 November 1991 and features tracks recorded during their Summer XS Tour in Paris, New York, Chicago, London, Dublin, Glasgow, Rio de Janeiro, Montreal, Spain, Switzerland, Melbourne, Sydney, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas.” (Wiki)

Interestingly, “The title’s two uses of ‘live’, indistinguishable by spelling alone, are pronounced differently – according to The Greatest Hits album’s accompanying booklet – the first is pronounced to rhyme with ‘give’, whereas the second is pronounced as in ‘five’.” Why? Because they could, that’s why!

Myself, I had a blast listening to this. If I could zap myself back in time and go to an INXS concert, this could be a setlist I’d wanna be there to hear (sure there are a ton of songs missing, but whatever). Still, not everyone liked it: “Allmusic gave the album one star out of five. AllMusic‘s reviewer, Stephen Thomas Erlewine, was unimpressed with Live Baby Live, “[it] is a lifeless live album … All of the performances sound like the studio versions, stripped of their excitement and savvy productions”. Well I disgaree, Mr. Erlewine of Allmusic, but you’re entitled to your opinion, as am I!

If you have a nostalgia for this band, and you see a copy of this in your travels, get it. It’s fun!

CD Tracks:
New Sensation
Guns In The Sky
Mystify
By My Side
Shining Star* (the album’s only single)
Need You Tonight
Mediate
One X One
Burn For You
One Thing
This Time
Stairs
Suicide Blonde
Hear That Sound
Never Tear Us Apart
What You Need

* not a live track!

PS: This was also released as a DVD, recorded at Wembley Stadium during the Summer XS tour on July 13, 1991. The DVD has a different track listing from the CD, not just in order, but in the tracks appearing:

Guns In The Sky
New Sensation
I Send A Message^
The Stairs^
Know The Difference^
Disappear^
By My Side
Hear That Sound
Original Sin^
The Loved One^
Wildlife^
Mystify
Bitter Tears^
Suicide Blonde
What You Need
Kick^
Need You Tonight
Mediate
Never Tear Us Apart
Who Pays The Price^
Devil Inside^

^ denotes DVD-only tracks from the Wembley gig. I count 11 of them!

Rolling Stones Trivial Pursuit

This had sat at work for several days and no one bought it, so I knew I had to be the one to (emotional) rescue the damn thing. It was even still in the shrink wrap!

It has a game board with Stones pictures and logos all over it, and a custom die. Even the category markers (we called them pieces of pie, as kids) have the Stones tongue on them.

There are 400 cards (2400 questions total) covering 6 categories: Hot Rocks, Rewind, Rolled Gold, In Concert, Story Of The Stones, and No Stone Unturned.

The categories cover “the band’s history, music, accomplishments, and more.”

I’m excited to try it out, but my lovely wife refuses to play against me. I wonder why… 😉

Jake Bugg – Live At Silver Platters

This is a Record Store Day release from 2014. I own it on both LP and CD… because… why not! Sure do like me some Jake Bugg, and this little 4-song EP is fun.

Recorded at Silver Platters, Seattle, WA on January 20, 2014,

There’s A Beast And We All Feed It, Trouble Town and Lightning Bolt all have a great energy, that Johnny Cash-like strumming pattern and chug. But they sure sound different with him solo, without the band backing him. And all acoustic guitar (no Tele, this time ’round). I like it! He announces Lightning Bolt as the last track, so the set seems short… Were there more tracks that day and they only released these? If not, why would they only schedule him for so short a time?

It seemed that was it, but then Storm Passes Away is here too. There’s no talking to the crowd at the start of it, so was it an encore track, or tucked somewhere in the middle of the original set? So many questions, it seems… No matter, it’s a sweet swingin’ mid-tempo country tune that suits him perfectly.

In Sum:

Two off the first record, two off the second record. Short and sweet, and a cool little collectible. I have no idea if it was limited or rare (probably not too rare). Were there more tracks played that day, and if so, why did they only release these four?

Ah well, if it weren’t for RSD one wonders if we’d have even had this set at all. I mean, he played for that special day, and this was released because of that day, so I say right on, RSD. And right on, Jake Bugg.

AC/DC – Stiff Upper Lip Live

Well this was a no-brainer. I picked it up at work for next to nothing, and knew exactly what I was getting. Rock fucking on!

They’ve still got it (of course), and the set list is great. Shows how deep your catalogue is when you drop Shook Me All Night Long at track 2…

The crowd was well into it, and the sound is good. I could have done with fewer camera cuts. It felt a bit like watching a pong pong ball quickly bouncing around the stadium, so you’d just get focussed on something and then it would zap to something else. Too many quick cuts.

But the rock prevailed, and the mighty AC/DC tore down the fuckin’ house. My daughter (she’s 5) sat on my lap for the first few tracks and, when I asked her if she liked this kind of music, she turned to me with a huge genuine smile, gave me the metal horns and said “YEAHHHHHH!” That’s Daddy’s girl! My son also asked me to scan ahead to Back In Black (his fave, ‘cos Daddy can play it on guitar), and they both danced around like loons. Ah, kids…

The big blow-out For Those About To Rock… was fun, and then a quick and dirty encore of Shot Down In Flames was a sweet encore. Cool DVD.

In Sum:

FUCK YEAH!!

Deets:

Stiff Upper Lip Live is a DVD made by Australian hard rock band AC/DC during their Stiff Upper Lip World Tour, which was supporting their album Stiff Upper Lip. It was recorded on 14 June 2001 at the Olympiastadion in Munich, Germany and released to DVD on 4 December 2001 in the USA.

Tracks:

Stiff Upper Lip / You Shook Me All Night Long / Problem Child / Thunderstruck / Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be / Hard As A Rock / Shoot To Thrill / Rock And Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution / What Do You Do For Money Honey / Bad Boy Boogie / Hells Bells / Up To My Neck In You / The Jack / Back In Black / Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap / Highway To Hell / Whole Lotta Rosie / Let There Be Rock / T.N.T. / For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) / Shot Down In Flames

SLCR #273: The Tea Party (March 18, 2017)

I can write this in 15 minutes before bed, right?

A little better than 20 years ago (god), Pat invited me to go see The Tea Party with him at Louis’. I didn’t know anything about The Tea Party and I didn’t really know Pat that well – it was the first time we ever hung out without Deserée around – but he had a spare ticket and knew that I was generally up to go see any band for any reason. Apart from being historic in my friendship with Pat, this gig was fondly remembered because it was Halloween and there was a girl there in a genie costume (think Barbara Eden) that remains memorable to this day. Even without that, I had a fine time though Pat was somewhat disgusted that I was so ignorant about the band yet still found myself with a coveted ticket for the sold-out show.

Back in 2011, 6 years and 110 reviews ago, I saw The Tea Party for the second time, this time because Mika wanted to go. During that 15-year span between concerts, the band went on hiatus for many years. I was barely more familiar with them the second time out and wasn’t really super pumped to go, but they put on a really good (and, again, sold out) show. Though they sounded the same as ever, their personalities had softened over the years and that was a pleasant surprise. Also, I’m pretty sure that this was the last show I ever went to at the Distrikt but if I have 15 minutes, I’m not about to fact-check that.

Now it is 2017. There’s been another Tea Party album since then. They still own teaparty.com and I don’t imagine that’s as valuable as it would have been back in 2011 but it’s still probably worth something. They’ve moved from the late lamented Distrikt to the much larger casino but this show still sold out a month in advance. This makes three straight shows where I’ve been surprised by how popular they are and you’d think maybe I’d learn something from this.

It was also the first time I’ve ever been to a sold-out show at the casino where they offered general admission standing room on the floor. You can fit a lot of people in there. And there were some characters. Mixed in with a ton of people who looked like me (old doughy dudes in Louis CK cosplay), there were definitely some interesting choices of attire, haircut, and makeout technique. It was some of the best people watching I’ve had outside of Las Vegas.

The Tea Party has been around for quite a while, and this was the 20th anniversary tour for their album Transmission. I had an earlier album, The Edges of Twilight, but was only familiar with Temptation, the big single from Transmission. I had big plans of giving the album a once-through before the show, but when I went into my Apple Music, one of my daily playlists it chose for me was Jukebox Hits: ’90s Alt, Vol. 1, so sorry guys, you lost out to Spacehog and Marcy Playground.

Someday I’ll remember that whenever I hear a song that sounds vaguely familiar, like the most generic 90s alt-rock song possible, it’s always, always Silverchair. But I digress.

Anyway, as one would expect, The Tea Party played all of Transmission, though not in order. This nicely solved the issue that can develop with these play-the-whole-album anniversary shows; namely, everyone knows the hits from the first half of the album and nobody knows the back half. This let them build to and close with Temptation instead of starting with it.

After no opener and a bit of a late start (20 minutes – not even worth noting at most shows but an eternity in casino time), playing Transmission took about an hour. After that, they took an intermission and came back for the second half. Or the third third, really, since the second part was only about a half-dozen songs. There were a few more songs I knew (Heaven Coming Down, Sister Awake, The Bazaar) and also a selection of covers, including Heroes and Paint It, Black.

I mentioned before that the band’s personalities had softened over the years. Back in the day, they wrote dark, moody, mysterious songs. Now, they joke about writing dark, moody, mysterious songs. I can’t see The Tea Party of 20 years ago doing that, and I especially can’t see them starting Sister Awake and using that to segue into U2’s With or Without You because it was St. Patrick’s Day yesterday and it kind of fits, so why not?

Like at the previous shows, I was not really the intended audience but I still thought they were quite good. If you want actual musical opinions, I don’t know. I liked the harder stuff better than the more ballady parts. The Middle Eastern influences that have always been their differentiators are always interesting. They mentioned some of their 90s contemporaries like I Mother Earth and Moist, and I liked The Tea Party’s show better than when we saw those bands at the casino. (Mika liked I Mother Earth best of the three. But we still appreciated your efforts, guys from Moist.)

Back in the day, I’d go to shows with Pat and he’d go to the bathroom and come back and report on weird goings-on. As such, it was only fitting that Mika came back from the bathroom to let me know that someone was loudly complaining that the casino was cleaning the bathroom during intermission (note: this was not actually happening) and that if the four people ahead of her in line didn’t hurry up, she was going to piss in the sink. This is not something that I’ve ever encountered in the men’s room. I wondered what kind of person does that, since most drunk dudes I encounter at concerts just want to be loud and don’t bother with making words. Luckily, I was able to find out! As we were leaving, a very tipsy but very friendly lady told us how much she liked our glasses (specifically Mika’s; I only got added into the compliment through some initial confusion) and wished us a good night. I was later informed that this was piss-in-the-sink lady. I was pleased to make her acquaintance and glad that, wherever she eventually wound up peeing, she had a pleasant evening.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Bill & Joel Plaskett w/Mayhemingways (March 23)
• Lisa LeBlanc (March 30)
• I Love The 90s feat. Salt N Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Color Me Badd, Young MC, and Rob Base (April 1)
• The Last Waltz Remembered feat. Corb Lund, Matt Andersen, Amy Helm, & the Russell Broom House Band (April 5)
• BA Johnston w/Napalmpom (April 28)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses (August 27)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)

Police – Certifiable

I picked up this set at work, surprised that no one bought it before me. It sat there for a few days, despite my pricing it low, and it looked forlorn so of course I had to rescue it. This one I have here is the 2DVD/2CD set. 

Details? Go Wiki!

Certifiable: Live in Buenos Aires is a live album and concert video by The Police. It was recorded in December 2007 during the band’s reunion tour and was released in November 2008. The album was released in the US exclusively through Best Buy. The album has a number of releases including a four disc version containing two CDs and two DVDs. The two CDs contain the live album from River Plate Stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The first DVD contains the 109-minute wide-screen concert presented in Dolby Surround and Stereo. The concert film was directed and produced by Jim Gable and Ann Kim, of Graying & Balding, Inc. The second DVD contains the 50-minute bonus feature, “Better Than Therapy,” directed by Stewart Copeland’s son Jordan Copeland, detailing The Police’s reunion with behind-the-scenes interviews from the band and road crew, plus two photo galleries of The Police on tour: one shot by guitarist and photographer Andy Summers, and one by photographer Danny Clinch. The DVDs were also released on Blu-ray format. A triple vinyl format was also released that contained a digital download of the concert.

Honestly, it’s everything you’d want from a 2007 Police reunion gig. The band sounds great, the video quality is excellent, the set list is crazy good, and the crowd was definitely into it.

The documentary (DVD2) is fun. The band really fought each other, whatever caused their break-up has held on over all these years. To even do this was really something. A month of rehearsals and fighting each other leads to a gig at the Whiskey A Go-Go. Questions from the crowd included Taylor Hawkins and ?uestlove. They retire to Tuscany to rehearse for months. Tickets sell like crazy (over a million in seemingly no time). Finally they kick off and away it all goes. Crazy good. Check out this set to find out how much it kills. Damn.

Check out Stewart Copeland on the opening track of the gig. This one’s for Rich! Yes sir!

 

The Tracks:

CD1: Message In A Bottle / Synchronicity II / Walking On The Moon / Voice In My Head/When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Around / Don’t Stand So Close To Me / Driven To Tears / Hole In My Life / Truth Hits Everybody / Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic / Wrapped Around Your Finger.

CD2: De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da / Invisible Sun / Walking In Your Footsteps / Can’t Stand Losing You/Reggatta de Blanc / Roxanne / King Of Pain / So Lonly / Every Breath You Take / Next To You.

DVD1: Same as CD1/CD2.

DVD2: Better Than Therapy (documentary), two photo galleries.

From Junk To Thrift

So recently I mentioned I’d culled through all our Uncategorized posts and updated them to the correct categories.

This was all towards my effort to do some behind the scenes housekeeping here at your friendly neighbourhood KMA.

So I’ve also finished one other, much smaller project, but one I felt needed doing:

In several posts, I referred to where I work as a junk shop. It is indeed a second hand store, but further reflection led me to think that calling it a junk shop wasn’t really fair. So I went through and changed every instance to thrift shop, instead. It just seemed more pleasant, and it was pretty easy to change.

There are still several other projects on the go, one larger than the others, but leave it with me. I’ll get it all done eventually!

R.I.P. Chuck Berry

Pure legend, passed away at 90 years old. Thanks for the music, Chuck.

How To Destroy Angels – Welcome Oblivion

Here’s one last album I grabbed in the death throes of our shite little HMV. This will mark the end of my Death Throes series. At least for now. Who knows if I’ll find any more before they’re gone!

***

“How to Destroy Angels is a musical group featuring Atticus Ross, Rob Sheridan, Mariqueen Maandig and her husband Trent Reznor (Nine Inch Nails frontman). The group is named after a 1984 Coil song of the same name.” (Wiki)

This 2013 debut album is experimental, though the LA Times described it as “sensual electronic rock,” and I can’t argue with that either. It definitely has a muscular, sexy feel to it.

If you like Nine Inch Nails, there’s enough here to keep you happy. But this has another side, seperate from the angry pulsations of NIN. There’s an understated beauty to it where NIN can be quite jagged. Of course, I haven’t heard all of the later years NIN, so maybe there’s some of this in that work too, but this CD held my attention easily with it’s laidback tempos, an hesitation to be too forceful about anything. Different enough to be seperate, does that help?

The track Ice Age stands out as an oddity, those plucked strings (is it a banjo, maybe?), though there’s a humming whine in behind…

There was one single, How Long?, which is beautiful in its own way too.

In Sum:

I wouldn’t say there was one stand out track on this record, and I don’t know how often I would put it on as a focussed-listening album. But if this were on in the background as I did something else, I could see this album being pretty damn good accompaniment.

Harry Connick, Jr. – In Concert On Broadway

Here’s yet another disc I snagged from the death throes of our shite little HMV. It’s been a wonderful week of tunes, with lots of Harry listening!

This one’s an easy one for me, a live performance recorded during a 15-night (sold-out) run on Broadway. What’s great about it is the smattering of songs from across his career. The old jazz standards mix with the funkier creole New Orleans stuff, and throw in a few covers and it’s perfect.

We Are In Love is a Harry classic from the 90s, and he’s in full Sinatra mode. This takes me back to university, when my friend Joanna and I would sing it in the halls of the residence (“I… BAM!… know you… BAM!… so well… BAM!… I can tell by… etc”). Fun times.

Then it’s Fred Astaire’s The Way You Look Tonight, classy as always. But don’t think we’re in for a night of crooning only. Harry takes to the piano for a gorgeous piano rendition of Consuelo Velázquez’ Bésame Mucho. He nails the vocals, with strings behind him. Of course, they swing the hell out of it. There’s a couple of minutes of Harry talking about how sexy it is to sing in Spanish, and what it was like to work on Broadway.

That seques into The Other Hours, which jumps us to 2003 and his album Other Hours: Connick On Piano Vol.1, another lovely and (eventually) swingin’ tune in crooner mode. Nowhere With Love is next, off his Come By Me album. Held together by a gorgeous bass line, Harry jazzes up some piano before singing perfectly. I loved that whole album.

How Insensitive is an old standard, originally composed by Antônio Carlos Jobim (and loosely based on Frédéric Chopin’s Prelude No.4). It’s a slow jazzy burner and the whole band absolutely nails it. Now we’re back to Come By Me with, you guessed it, Come By Me. Here it’s a quick solo Harry New Orleans jazz piano romp in the Professor Longhair tradition before the band joins in and gives it even more lift. Much fun! If you don’t wanna dance to this, something’s broken somewhere!

My Time Of Day/I’ve Never Been In Love Before from Guys And Dolls. His voice is perfectly suited for it, going from the slower first track to full swinging big band beauty on the second. Oh man, this is so great. Up next is All The Way, which you might say is Harry hitting the nail on the head a little too well, but when he covers Sinatra it just fits. Great love song.

James Booker’s Bayou Maharajah comes from waaaay back, off Lofty’s Roach Soufflé (1990), just Harry on the piano and oh lordy, the man can play. Then Harry talks a bit about growing up in New Orleans and how he got to spend time with James Booker, which launches Hear Me In The Harmony, a tune he wrote for Booker. It’s a great moment.

Then we’re in New Orleans for mardi gras with Light The Way, a tune Harry wrote about the flambeaus, who used to light the parade routes before there were street lights in the city. What a fun tune, and that drummer is nailing it. But the party ain’t over! Take Her To The Mardi Gras keeps the fever beat alive, double-time! In looking it up, it’s a Wal-Mart-only bonus track from Harry’s Oh My NOLA album. I know that album and this was new to me! There was also a Borders exclusive track, Just Come Home, for that record. And, as Mike knows of suck things, the Japanese release had both extra tracks. Anyway, nevermind, we were partying mardi gras style!

Bourbon Street Parade (written by Paul Barbarin in 1955) is next, and we’re showing no signs of the party ending. This is Harry’s other wheelhouse, just let the band go with solos and wonderful fills all over the place. I can imagine him dancing on stage for this one. It was on Harry’s Chanson du Vieux Carré record, too. And finally, Mardi Gras In New Orleans (also from Chanson du Vieux Carré) gets wedged in at the end when there were only 6 minutes left (and no time for an encore). Oh man, they really leave it all out on the stage. There’s nothing left, they had to have collapsed! GLORY!

In Sum:

I loved this. It started out all serious and croony, with some great jazz standards. Then it fell into a big mardi gras party by the end and what a time! Fan-frickin’-tastic.

This is a DVD too, which adds a bunch more tracks!

Recipe For Love
Tug Boat
St. James Infirmary Blues
How Come You Do Me Like You Do?
Oh, Didn’t He Ramble
as well as A Conversation With Harry.

I NEED THIS DVD! Not want. NEED.

Danny Michel 2017-03-16

* Please note: We were front row center for this gig. I took a few pics with my cell phone, hoping to get a couple good ones for the blog. If for any reason I was not supposed to be taking pictures during the show, or I can’t use them here on this page, please let me know and I will take them down immediately. I’m hoping it’s cool, but one never knows. Thanks!

Just back from seeing Danny Michel at the Heartwood Concert Hall here in my town. What a fantastic time!

How we got there involves a wee tale (stay with me, I’ll get there):

I wanted to see Metallica in Toronto in July, but floor seats were $200+ each. For the Skydome? (or whatever they call it now)? I think frickin’ not. Anyway, I only get to about a concert per year, so I wondered what it would be… and then my lovely wife mentioned Danny was coming to town. I wanted to go. James said GO. We got tickets and voila. Definitely not Metallica, but that’s apples and oranges. Honestly, this was waaaaay better. Let me explain.

This show sold out, and that’s cool. I’m guessing numbers, maybe 150-200 people in that room? We got seats front row center at a table with old friends from back in the Knox Acoustic Cafe days, so it was nice catching up with them.

It was just Danny on stage with his guitar, tonight. No band. And that was actually really cool, really special, because it felt more like a house concert. I love that feel.

For this gig, I tried something new. I didn’t try to write down every song title. I didn’t try to memorize every wee thing that happened (though of course I’ve remembered some). I just sat back and let the music come to me and enjoyed the experience. I noticed little things, like how he has rubbed the ‘Ep’ off the ‘Epiphone’ on his guitar’s headstock so it says ‘iphone.’ And all the little tricks he does with the guitar (there were a ton). Just cool stuff.

He told a ton of stories, how songs got written, or where he was when things happened, or how he had a penpal in outer space, or how they spent a week drinking in the lobby of a whorehouse in Belize without knowing it was a whorehouse. He came across as charming, witty, and genuine. That’s a tough thing: most artists have a schtick and they say it the same every gig. He truly pulled it off just being himself and having fun between songs. It was beautiful.

He took questions from the crowd (such as ‘why do you wear those glasses’ because he’s always got them shoved up on the top of his head and never seems to use them. Someone also asked about a calf named Marty – apparently the cow has an eye issue so he named it Marty Feldman. Natch).

And the songs? I doubt I’ll get a setlist online, but who knows? I know he played some off the Black Birds… album, like What Colour Are You? and A Cold Road… He played Feather Fur And Fin, and a couple songs off the new record (recorded on a Russian ice breaker in the Arctic). That was fun because he played the title track (Khlebnkov) and when it’s just him it sounds one way, but on the record there’s a whole orchestra behind him. So he played some of the song from the album for us into the microphone from his cell phone, so we could hear the difference. Mid-song. He thought it was hilarious when we clapped.

He played one for his space penpal (something about Samantha in the sky with diamonds. Seriously). He played Wish Willy, and Who’s Gonna Miss You? [which he dedicated to Stuart Mclean, RIP, because Stuart (with whom he ate sardines) liked that song and always had Danny play it when he joined Stuart’s traveling show]. In two sets, he played a whole bunch of stuff. All of it excellent.

He also got a big cheer from the crowd when he announced he’s maybe kinda sorta living in our area now. Which explains why he was here for a while, recently. And also explains why someone asked about the calf named Marty.

He ended the night with the Clash’s Bankrobber (with us singing the chorus), and then a brilliant Nobody Rules You.

He played for a good long time, and every song was done with honesty and talent and fun. Truly, a great night. Take that Lars!

Oh, and on the way out, he was there to talk to, sign autographs, give high fives, whatever. But there was a line and we needed to get home (I had to get up for work next morning!) so I let go of the chance to say hi. Ah well, who knows. If he’s living near here now, maybe the chance will come up again soon.

I’d go see Danny Michel play again anytime. If you get the chance, GO.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver, Bon Iver

No, I’m not messing with you, with that title. That is the artist name, and then the album titled the artist’s name. Twice. I know.

Anyway.

Here’s another disc I rescued from the death throes of our shite little HMV. It was in the 2-for deal, and I’d heard the name (I remember people raving) and I thought, well, why the hell not. I don’t really know from Bon Iver, so this was as good a time as any to find out. 

Turns out there’s a record before this (For Emma, Forever Ago), and one after it (22, A Million). I tried to find the previous one, for perspective (reportedly this second effort is a departure), but my HMV didn’t have it. James looked for me in his store too, but no luck (thanks for looking, dude!).

I also read online that the name Bon Iver is pronounced the same as the french for good winter, bon hiver, and purposely mispelled. Because… why not? 

A lot of the songs titles here are place names, because, as Justin Vernon said, “…and every song I ended up making after that [Perth] just sort of drifted towards that theme, tying themselves to places and trying to explain what places are and what places aren’t.”

Alrighty, then.

***

Perth starts us off with a twisted little bit and then becomes a big crashing instrumental thing which is oddly satisfying. There are lots of interesting bits to it, I liked it. We move seamlessly into Minnesota, WI, which has a funky intro before becoming synth-backed vocal sections. Picked strings (a banjo, or maybe mandolin?) come in, and then 80s-style synth bass throbs while he sings normal and falsetto… Fascinating.

Holocene was a single (and was Grammy-nominated!), and it starts with a real pretty acoustic guitar bit. It floats along prettily, with more falsetto vocals. As it grows it just becomes more of itself without developing an edge. Holocene is an epoch of history, but it’s also a bar in Portland, OR. Justin Vernon said of it: “It’s a good example of how all the songs are all meant to come together as this idea that places are times and people are places and times are… people? They can all be different and the same at the same time. Most of our lives feel like these epochs. That’s kind of what that song’s about. “Once I knew I was not magnificent.” Our lives feel like these epochs, but really we are dust in the wind. But I think there’s a significance in that insignificance that I was trying to look at in that song.””

Towers (another single) carries on the falsetto vocals, this time over strummy electric guitar. It becomes a country swinger, a cool track that carries on this unique sound. Michicant is next, a plodding indie jangle that has beauty in its make-up. The skittery instrumental outro was my favourite part. Hinnom, TX lets echoes rule the track as it offers little jabs of vocals and bass. Weirdly hypnotic, this one held my attention because I kept waiting for something else to happen but it never did, and that ended up being alright by me.

Wash. has a soft piano intro with gentle high vocals over it, strings build in behind and it becauses one of the most starkly beautiful tracks on the disc. By the time the drums jitter their way in, I was already hooked. Calgary (another single) drifts along on synths and more of those same vocals, gentle and caressing and somehow precious. When the drums and spacey synths join in it’s almost a Peter Gabriel track done Bon Iver-style. The instrumental break is fun as it fuzzes out and the vocals finally get some backbone. The track is bookended by strummed acoustic and vocals from the beginning.

Lisbon, OH is short, just a held synth note with blipping and bleeping. It grows as it changes notes, but it’s an electronic soundscape. An interlude track. Maybe a song idea that wasn’t complete enough to become a full song. And finally it’s Beth/Rest (another single), which starts off sounding like some sort of Phil Collins/Howard Jones/Peter Gabriel hybrid synth tune. What a throwback. Not due to this, but because of the strength of the tune, I’d say this was one of my favourite tracks here. The guitar solo is great, with pedal steel in the background mingling with that sax… Lovely.

In Sum:

I went into this blind, and came away impressed. Deceptively simple tunes throughout, this record contains a lot of layers, little bits of creativity and nuance that I’ve surely missed on this run-through. I’m certain further plays will reveal more. I recommend this album for late at night, the lights low, the good headphones on, and nowhere to be but right where you are.

SLCR #272: Blackie & The Rodeo Kings (March 8, 2017)

As I’m writing this, it’s Sunday night at the end of my week-long staycation. With weekends and an EDO, I had nine straight days off work for the first time since last summer. This is coming after a months-long project that felt like it took years. I’ve always looked forward to vacations but this was the first time that one was really necessary, and I won’t lie, it was great. I ate whatever I wanted, read a few books, got some long overdue housework done, and got my 10,000 steps a day despite uncooperative weather. All told, it was delightful and the only sad part is that I have to wait THREE WHOLE WEEKS before I get to do it again. Good thing I have this coming Friday off; I don’t know how I’d survive otherwise.

There’s something to be said for banking ALL the overtime.

I did something else on my time off too. I wrote a song! It was on the way to this show, actually. I must have felt the music in the air. I haven’t recorded anything yet, but it’s called “Driving Behind Some Dickbag in His Stupid Orange Kia Soul.” Those are the only lyrics too, but the punctuation changes when you sing it. Distribute exclamation marks like so: “Dick! Bag!” and “Ki! A! Soul!”

My good vacation mood buoyed me through a fruitless hour-long search of the mall for a new pair of texting gloves (got some since then, hooray) and carried on to when I met up with Mark, Arlette, and Arlette’s son Kenton at the casino. Mark said I looked taller. I think it was because by that point, I had spent nearly a week not being crushed by the weight of the world and I was able to return to my normal, God-intended height. This was probably bad news for Kenton since I wound up sitting in front of him.

By sheer happenstance, our table was next to that of another coworker, Paul, and his wife. Paul is one of my absolute favourite people to irritate; more than once he has called me a “fucking fucker” while changing colours. But I’ve switched jobs and I think he mostly works from home now, so I was so surprised and delighted to see him that I forgot to wreck the evening for him. Next time.

You may remember that about a year and a half ago, I saw LeE HARVeY OsMOND at the Exchange. This was much the same deal in that Tom Wilson is in B&RK (it’s a long band name to type and they must have approved of this shortened version since it’s on their bass drum) and is in (or just is?) Lee Harvey Osmond (one wacky spelling permitted per review). And again, I didn’t really know any of the Kings’ music before the show. And again, Thompson Wilson (Tom’s son) was opening. And again, we were there with a ton of people Mark knew because Mark and this dude named Carver know a lot of the same people and Carver became pals with Tom Wilson through means I was once told but now only vaguely remember. And I still don’t think I’ve ever actually met Carver despite having been in his presence innumerable times at all kinds of shows. HOWEVER this show was different by being in the casino instead of the Exchange, by being a mostly different band doing entirely different music, and because I was on a vacation high instead of feeling like I’d swallowed a ball of knives and wanted to die. That Lee Harvey Osmond show was the highlight of a no-good very bad day.

But I digress. We met up, found our table, I poked Paul a few times, and Thompson Wilson took the stage. Well, first there was a local DJ who introduced the show and told us we’d be joined soon by “Thomas” Wilson, and then Stephen Fearing of B&RK talked for a bit and got the young fellow’s name right. You’d hope he would. The set was just Thompson and a guitar for the most part, though he was joined by his godfather, Junkhouse drummer Ray Farrugia, for a few songs. I wouldn’t call it country, but the influence is there. I think Thompson played all original songs – it was a very short set (25 minutes or so) and I didn’t recognize any covers, anyway. He seemed a little more confident than last time despite the much larger room, and this was quite enjoyable. Everyone seemed especially fond of the line “she asked me to kiss her somewhere dirty, so I took her to my home in Hamilton.”

A quick break and B&RK was up for two hours of country/roots rock. I don’t know how many more times I can say “this was real good” without any great detail and still expect to have any readers left, but here we are. Talented musicians! Good songs! Songs I didn’t know before and don’t know now but really liked at the time! A pair of loud drunks wanted to make the show about themselves and Tom Wilson made fun of them in a way that everyone else caught but they didn’t!

This was B&RK’s Kings & Kings tour. A few years back, they recorded an album called Kings & Queens where they were joined on each song by different female vocalists like Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Holly Cole, and Serena Ryder. Kings & Kings, of course, is the same idea, just with dudes: Bruce Cockburn, Eric Church, City & Colour, Keb’ Mo’, Vince Gill, and others. Looking at the album online just now, I note Murray McLauchlin is not listed, which makes his cameo appearance at this show a bit odd. Apparently, in Calgary the night before, B&RK were joined by McLauchlin, Ian Tyson, and Lindi Ortega, none of whom appear on the Kings or Queens albums if the iTunes tracklists are to be believed. Anyway, McLauchlin joined the band for three or four songs; Try Walkin’ Away was one I recognized, though it seems Murray McLauchlin is one of those people I know OF, not necessarily ABOUT. After the first tune, Tom Wilson was joking about how the song fell apart at the end, saying that B&RK “promises the best in semi-professional entertainment.” Sometimes it’s good to be musically ignorant; I didn’t notice anything was up.

For the encore, they invited everyone up to the front of the stage; until then, it had been one of those shows where everyone sits and applauds politely. Getting a bunch of people up to the front added to the atmosphere and thinking about it now, could have been done much earlier in the evening. But I can’t really call that a complaint if it took me four days to think of it.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• The Tea Party (March 18)
• Bill & Joel Plaskett w/Mayhemingways (March 23)
• Lisa LeBlanc (March 30)
• I Love The 90s feat. Salt N Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Color Me Badd, Young MC, and Rob Base (April 1)
• The Last Waltz Remembered feat. Corb Lund, Matt Andersen, Amy Helm, & the Russell Broom House Band (April 5)
• BA Johnston w/Napalmpom (April 28)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses (August 27)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)

Harry Connick, Jr. – Every Man Should Know

Here’s another disc I rescued from the death throes of our shite little HMV. When I was making up my list for the series this week, I spaced out the Harry albums with other stuff in between, in case you burned out on Harry two days in a row. Turns out, there was interest in him (yay!), so here’s another one for your edification…

***

Every Man Should Know is a lovely soul slow song that plays like a list of things every man should know, as told to a son. Interesting, given that he and his wife (former Victoria’s Secret model Jill Goodacre) have three daughters. Ah well… One Fine Thing shifts to slinky bluesy, oh man. It sounds like a 70s blaxploitation slow song. The flute solo and the muted trumpet stabs, riding over top that glorious piano line,make this one great. The lyrics are a little stalker-ish, how he’s basically a girl he likes, wants to be with her. She’s one fine, fine thing. Sure!

I Love Her brings on the salsa feel and a breathy sax, and holy Frank Sinatra, Batman, this one is a throwback big-time. When the strings swoon in, it’s a dead cert. Of course it’s awesome… Greatest Love Story shifts gears again, to a bluegrass-feeling contry tune with banjo and violin (er, fiddle) over top. This time we’re getting everything his momma told him about life and relationships, and Harry’s relating it to his new bride (because his Mom actually did die when he was young). I assume this one’s for Jill. The band chugs along happily in the background, the musicianship is really great. Fun!

Come See About Me is another slower love song, with beautiful piano (of course). Harry’s there for you, lady, and it’s a beautiful thing… Friend (Goin’ Home) is a bouncy happy tune with a great horn section (I always cheer for the trumpets!). This one has soul and a superb bass line. All the elements come together perfectly, and when the chorus comes in with that choir in the background, hot damn you are lifted!

Now, switch gears from all the love songs here, because now Harry’s happy Being Alone. The tune rolls in on a deep piano line, then we’re right back to the When Harry Met Sally… soundtrack. This is that sweet old late-night jazz Harry is (perhaps) best known for, and it’s glorious. Even better, the song features another hero of mine, Wynton Marsalis on trumpet, an extra voice adding nothing but class… Yup, this is a highlight track for me… Harry sings over a lovely acoustic guitar line in Love My Life Away, a thoughtful, introspective love song that reels you in and holds you close. He’s unhurried, and there’s no doubting his sincerity…

You’ve Got It is next, and it’s a peppy, energetic, uplifting soulful track, complete with horn section and backing choir again. Damn, can this guy do no wrong? Let Me Stay, featuring Branford Marsalis on (of course) a gorgeous saxophone part, while the bass rumbles a guitar strums, and the piano adds fills. It’s gentle but strong, another love song from this old irrepressible lover man. As the tune builds over strings, the saxophone soars and we’re mid-flight into greatness.

S’pposed To Be had to happen, a New Orleans jazz stomper. It’s Mardi Gras, baby! Duet vocals from Kim Burrell and absolutely smokin’ trumpet work from Harry’s longtime trumpeter Leroy Jones makes this one a blast. Oh, and don’t forget that glorious choir and the hand-claps… hot damn, get dancing! And as if that party wasn’t enough, there’s one more track, Time To Go. It’s a a slow waltz love song to the traveling musician who travels miles to be opening act. There are country (lap steel) touches that add woe to the tale. Harry could even believe it’s him in the song, but he’d be wrong.

In Sum:

Glorious. I loved every track. This is real songwriting, and beautifully done and arranged. Let’s all thank Harry for being who he is, unafraid to put himself out there and make records like this!

***

For anyone interested, here’s Harry’s message from the liner notes:

“this cd is a journey… a musical trip down a winding back road of my desire… no rules, no limits… I wrote what I liked, I played what I felt and I sang what I saw… sometimes I channelled my experiences, sometimes I made up stories… the melodies drifted through me, unfiltered by stylistic boundaries… my years of external influence seamlessly settled into my subconscious, bowing to the inevitability of choice, change…

all my previous recordings have been “limit pushers,” self-imposed challenges that led me to small but important personal victories… this effort is no different, except for one thing: I don’t recall ever reaching quite as deeply – or confidently – into my inhibition pool… I don’t even think I realized that it went that far down! (or up, depending on perspective…)

I hope the listener will trust me as we travel this path together – not trust me to lead, but trust that my sincerity to share the experience is unwaning… and what an experience! it was scary, exciting, tragic, overwhelming and rejuvenating… most importantly, it was an honor, as always, to make music with the hope that people would listen and even enjoy… thank you for the chance to let me show you my world…

harry”

Metal Band Logos

Calling our benevolent infernal HMO. We need your help!

Pink Floyd – Animals

It was the mighty Boppin who recomended this album to me, when it got mentioned elsewhere in the community of blog posts and comments. So when I saw this remastered edition in the 2-for deal at our dying HMV, I picked it up solely on that recommend.

I’m actually kind of nervous about writing this up – who am I to be writing about Pink Floyd, hearing this for the first time in 2017? Hahaha hooboy.

I’m fairly new to the Pink Floyd stuff. I have the hits set (Echoes) and have played it enough times, but the individual albums are mostly new to me. I have some of them here, and haven’t even played most of them yet! I know! I need 48 hours a day, with 24 of them devoted just to listening to all the tunes I have here… Which is all to say I am not a Floyd expert. If I muck this up, forgive me. I’m basically going in having only heard one track off this (Sheep is on Echoes). I’ll always bow to the superior knowledge of actual long-time fans of the band.

Anyway, Animals. This is my first time ever through it. I’m going to write this from the gut, as I listen, in real time. One thought up front: Wouldn’t it be great if this was somehow about Orwell? Looking at the album cover, all the track titles are animals, thinking of Animal Farm… That sounds like something Floyd would do, “four legs good, two legs bad!” Haha. Let’s see what’s up. 

***

Pigs On The Wing 1 is a short and sweet acoustic intro. Nice one! Perhaps there could be a bit more hope in the words, though…

But then the 17-minute Dogs fires up next, and it’s a mid-tempo Floyd rocker with acoustic in the fore. It soars and pleases in all the right ways. I didn’t even mind the synths. The guitar solo, though. Oh man. So simple (seemingly), but those notes hanging there are perfection. I know it’s part of the song, but I could have done without the dogs barking, as it reminds too much of an annoying neighbour dog we have right now. Right around the mid-point of this epic, there’s a bit of synth note-holding while a voice echoes. That wore on me a bit too. Thankfully, it doesn’t last forever. Oh wait, now the barking dogs are back. Fuck. How is this pleasurable? Makes me want to call the city by-law officer. If I repeat-listen to this, I will be scanning through all this barking shit. When it’s just the synths on their own, it’s trippy. Then the acoustic comes back, and I have hope the barking is over. It builds back into the previous mode, groovy, spacey and fine. Then the drums start pounding and another guitar solo rips away. Sweet. The song rides out on a galloping repeated riff. Nice.

Pigs (Three Different Ones) starts off with a grunt and some synths and bass guitar. The guitar stabs over the top, and then it evolves into a slow blues jam, Floyd-style. There’s even cowbell! Love the squawkbox-like solo bits. This 11-minute song has a great feel, and huge groove. The guitar solo at the end wails. So far this track is the album highlight for me.

Then we’re in a barnyard with lots of sheep and tweeting birds, and Sheep (which I know from my Echoes hits set) starts off with some bluesy organ noodling. The bass builds, as does the song, and when the drums come in you think we’re set, then double-take we’re off and running at a decent clip as the song crashes and throbs. This one’s got an punkier edge, but you never forget who it is as spacey synths wash through too. After a cool solo section, we get some robotic chanting. The space monks are here! But they’re quickly lost under another rockin’ blast. The last couple of minutes of the tune rock the best, that jangly guitar overtop the melee. It fades down to the sheep bleating again.

Bookending the album is another short acoustic track, Pigs On The Wing 2. The euphemisms for man as dog here are hilarious. In fact, it’s worth including the lyrics for both Part 1 and 2 here, so you can see how far we’ve come over the course of the album:

Part 1:

If you didn’t care what happened to me,
And I didn’t care for you,
We would zig zag our way through the boredom and pain
Occasionally glancing up through the rain.
Wondering which of the buggars to blame
And watching for pigs on the wing.

Part 2:

You know that I care what happens to you,
And I know that you care for me.
So I don’t feel alone,
Or the weight of the stone,
Now that I’ve found somewhere safe
To bury my bone.
And any fool knows a dog needs a home,
A shelter from pigs on the wing.

In Sum:

I liked the music quite a bit, though the lyrics are mostly pretty angry and despairing. It comes off as a “we’re all fucked” societal rant, though not always overtly. As I mentioned off the top, and without looking it up, there’s probably (definitely) some sort of concept to the album, and that’s cool. When I get done here, I’m gonna go see what it was (see below). Primarily for me, though, I can’t help but think that the overall project would have been stronger without all of the animal noises. Especially the barking dogs. Can’t stand that. So while having them there was probably part of the whole point, I think we’re smart enough to understand that we’re being herded like sheep without actually having to include the noises of sheep to drive the message home.

***

So Then I Looked Up The Album:

I was right! (Wiki):

Loosely based on George Orwell’s political fable Animal Farm, the album’s lyrics describe various classes in society as different kinds of animals: the combative dogs, despotic ruthless pigs, and the “mindless and unquestioning herd” of sheep. Whereas the novella focuses on Stalinism, the album is a critique of capitalism and differs again in that the sheep eventually rise up to overpower the dogs. The album was developed from a collection of unrelated songs into a concept which, in the words of author Glenn Povey, “described the apparent social and moral decay of society, likening the human condition to that of mere animals”.

Apart from its critique of society, the album is also a part-response to the punk rock movement, which grew in popularity as a nihilistic statement against the prevailing social and political conditions, and also a reaction to the general complacency and nostalgia that appeared to surround rock music. Pink Floyd were an obvious target for punk musicians, notably Johnny Rotten of The Sex Pistols, who wore a Pink Floyd T-shirt on which the words “I hate” had been written in ink; Lydon, however, has constantly said it was done for a laugh (he was a fan of several progressive rock bands of the era, including Magma and Van Der Graaf Generator). Drummer Nick Mason later stated that he welcomed the “Punk Rock insurrection” and viewed it as a welcome return to the underground scene from which Pink Floyd originated. In 1977 he produced The Damned’s second album, Music for Pleasure, at Britannia Row.

In his 2008 book Comfortably Numb, author Mark Blake argues that “Dogs” contains some of David Gilmour’s finest work; although the guitarist sings only one lead vocal, his performance is “explosive”. The song also contains notable contributions from keyboardist Richard Wright, which echo the funereal synthesizer sounds used on the band’s previous album, Wish You Were Here.

“Pigs (Three Different Ones)” is audibly similar to “Have a Cigar”, with bluesy guitar fills and elaborate bass lines. Of the song’s three pigs, the only one directly identified is morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse, who amongst other things is described as a “house-proud town mouse”.

“Sheep” contains a modified version of Psalm 23, which continues the traditional “The Lord is my shepherd” with words like “he maketh me to hang on hooks in high places and converteth me to lamb cutlets” (referring to the sheep of the title). Towards the end of the song, the eponymous sheep rise up and kill the dogs, but later retire back to their homes.

The album is book-ended by each half of “Pigs on the Wing”, a simple love song in which a glimmer of hope is offered despite the anger expressed in the album’s three other songs. Described by author Andy Mabbett as “[sitting] in stark contrast to the heavyweight material between them”, the two halves of the song were heavily influenced by Waters’ relationship with his then-wife.

Categorized

Way back around the new year, I said something about finishing up some admin crap on the site, some behind the scenes stuff that needed doing. The unsexy stuff. But it bugged me that it wasn’t done, so I’ve been chipping away at a couple of projects for the past while.

And recently, I got one done! You’re gonna care!*

If you don’t have categories on your site, WP automatically marks every post as “Uncategorized.” I won’t go into why I feel that’s not better than just not having a category on a post at all (it’s tyranny, that’s what it is!). Ahem, anyway. Here on the KMA, we have two categories: Posts By James, and Posts By Aaron. Simple.

But for some reason, there was a period of about 400 posts or so where neither of us was using our namesake categories, so we ended up with all of those posts marked as Uncategorized. That bugged me, more than it would a normal person (I never said I was normal!). So, I sat here and went through all of those posts using Quick Edit in the admin section, and I unclicked each Uncategorized radio button and applied the correct KMA category to each post that needed it.

It was boring. It sucked. But now it’s done and, going forward, it’ll be easy to maintain.

For any of you dear Faithful Readers who want to read only the work of one or the other of us (read James’!), I’ve added a Categories widget to the sidebar on the right side of the main page. The dropdown menu there lets you select either of us.

Anyway, that was a lot of reading about something for which you likely couldn’t care less. But the KMA is committed to bringing you the best experience, and this unsexy stuff is just part of the full meal deal.

 

 

* sarcasm is just one of the fine features we offer here at the KMA!

Harry Connick, Jr. – That Would Be Me

Here’s another disc I snagged from the death throes of our shite little HMV. I maybe haven’t talked as much about how much of a fan I am of this man’s work, over the years of typing things into these pages. I know I haven’t yet reviewed much of his huge discography. That’s an oversight I intend to correct. 

But let me put it this way. I’ve been a fan of Harry’s since I was in high school. One of his CDs was the first CD I ever bought. I’ve said before, I was the jazz kid. I ate it up. Over the years he’s shown a lot of sides to his talents, and each one’s done very, very well. 

***

This record (from 2015, and his most recent) is jazz, soul, country, love songs, danceable, and above all, fun. Can I just express how happy it makes me just to be able to sit here in and talk about how he made another great record? Fantastic.

Of course, a lot of the songs are about relationships, and he’s got some great lines in here (“You came out of nowhere / you snuck up on me / you put your smile right where my self-control was supposed to be.” from (I Think) I Love You A Little Bit). Some tracks are full of energy, some are gentler, but all of it’s thoughtful and well-constructed. Each track shifts and grows and becomes and, when they’re done, you know you’ve heard another great one.

Thinking on it now, and this would only be for those who are fairly well-versed in his albums, if anything (and feel free to disagree with me) this would fall more into the She and Star Turtle vein, more so than anything else, even though that doesn’t fully nail it either. In other words, it ain’t big band, it ain’t solo jazz piano wizardry, it’s straight up jazzy soul-infused pop rock and love song glory. But even better, it all stands strong on its own as a new album unto itself, fitting perfectly into his discography.

In Sum:

It’s been too long since I played a Harry album, I’m realizing that now. He’s an old friend I haven’t heard from in way too long. His work hits me right, every time. There’s a clarity, an energy, a lift to what he does that has buoyed me for more than half a lifetime. This record’s a keeper, I loved it. Thanks, Harry!

Jake Bugg – Live At The Royal Albert Hall

Welcome to another Series week! I’m calling this one the Death Throes Week.

Death throes? Yup, as has been noted, HMV will soon be shuttering all their Canadian stores. Last report I had from an employee at my tiny local shoppe, it could be happening in as soon as two weeks. But, in a happy turn of events, the other day I was told (by that same employee) that Sunrise Records will be coming in behind the HMV. I won’t need to rely locally just on Wally World for new tunes! This is happy-making.

Anyway, the death throes of the HMV have caused them to offer up some better pricing for their remaining items, and this week I’ll be going though the stuff I’ve found in their (rapidly-dwindling) stock.

Let’s give ‘er!

***

Today is a big Sunday blow-out review. Over 1000 words! Go get a coffee…

Y’all know I’m a pretty big Jake Bugg fan, from previous reviews, though I’m not as big a fan as my 5-year-old daughter. She just loves him.

I’ve stalked this DVD in the bins for a while now, and the best price it was ever at was as a 2-for-$30 deal, or $20 by itself. I wasn’t sure about spending that on it, and couldn’t find anything else I wanted as a 2-for-$30, so when the closing sale dropped it to 25% off, I figured I ought to snap it up before someone else did.

Let’s see what we have!

Wee bit of interview with Jake as he sits in the seats to see the crowd’s point of view. He really seems to want to appreciate it. I had a wee it of trouble understanding his way of speaking. Not so much the accent, just that he speaks quickly and mumbles.

He walks out alone and does a seated, acoustic Pine Trees that holds the crowd rapt. Another interview, this time about how he got started, then it’s full band into full-on Trouble Town. Cool to see an extra (electric) guitar player, and a keyboardist too. Seen It All is next, and it’s a great version.

Next interview is about trying to get gigs at the start, then his friend Ian joins for Storm Passes Away, a lovely country swinger with lap steel guitar too. Next up is a wee bit of interview about Michael Kiwanuka, and how welcoming and excellent Jake feels he is as an artist. Then, to help get him out there, Michael joins the band on stage and they play a cover of his Tell Me A Tale. The tune’s a soulful, welcome addition to the set of Bugg originals. Super-cool.

Jake then talks about how he listened to music different from his friends, growing up, called it a journey for himself. Then it’s a well-timed Two Fingers, which the crowd really got into, clearly a fan favourite. It’s a cool tune, one to which my (now 5-year-old) daughter knows the words too. Then he swaps acoustic guitar for electric (a lovely blonde Telecaster – my favourite, of course), and away they go into a rockin’, partying Messed Up Kids. Love it. There’s a wee bit of fancy guitar footwork at the end of the tune, and the quick smile between the guitarist and Bugg is great.

Then, through the magic of video editing cuts, we go back in time, to the gig the night before this one, at Nottingham Arena, his hometown gig. Country Song plays in the background. Fan interviews are fun, talking about how relatable his songs are for them, coming up from not much of anything to where he is now. They seem proud of him.

Then we zap back to the Royal Albert Hall for Simple Pleasures. It builds into a solid rocker, great version. Then it’s a bluesy rockin’ Taste It. There’s a woman up on a guy’s shoulders, waving her arms for this one, she has to keep pulling up the front of her shirt so her bewbs don’t fall out. To his credit, Jake does a great job of not staring. Mostly.

Then it’s a wee bit of interview with Jake about adding Johnny Marr to the show, and then Marr talks about his appreciation of Jake’s work. Marr joins them on stage for Kingpin and Slumville Sunrise, two rockin’ run-throughs with Marr ripping the guitar solos on his lovely Fender Jaguar. You could tell how much having Marr there really meant to Bugg, for sure.

Then we go to a cut scene of Jake working with a small choir of kids in rehearsal for joining him at the gig, and they have a couple of questions for him.

Jump back to the Royal Albert Hall, and away they go on Broken. The crowd goes silent and you could hear a pin drop in the place. It’s a slower version than I’ve heard him do in live settings before, but it’s such a strong song that it’s gorgeous no matter what they do to it. It takes a long time before the choir even comes in, and their part is pretty small, but when they do sing, the song achieves lift and the hairs on your arms stand up.

Before the show ends, they rip through Lightning Bolt, again with Michael Kiwanuka and Marr joining (that makes 4 guitars, a huge sound, and they all take solos) for a big blow out at the end.

One last talk with Jake, how much it all meant to him. He meant it. And as the credits roll, it’s Jake alone again, with acoustic guitar playing to the crowd (same as the DVD intro) on a bluesy tune called Strange Creatures, off the Messed Up Kids EP (the one Deke tried to get for me in T-Bay). Yes!

In Sum:

Jake Bugg might seem, himself, to be a bit of a dour wet blanket, never really impressed with his surroundings or anything else. But I don’t think that’s true, I just gather he’s a man of few words who doesn’t suffer fools very gladly. He’s also a man on a mission and he’s there to get the job done, so the lack of meaningless chatter and plattitudes is actually quite refreshing.

Fantastically filmed, with great sound, this is a perfect Jake Bugg concert. Loved it. I might wish they’d left the songs to stand alone and had the interviews as extra features, but this plays a bit like a documentary, and it’s still really enjoyable. The addition of Michael Kiwanuka and Johnny Marr brings the A game, and all the versions here are huge.

Glory.

Little Richard – 20 Greatest Hits

I really don’t need to tell you anything about Little Richard, do I?

Haha of course not. This is flat out press Play and enjoy yourself!

One thing I found, the packaging for this set contains two pull quotes:

1) “I’m the innovator. I’m the emancipator. I’m the originator. I’m the architect of rock ’n’ roll.” – Little Richard

2) “I want to do with my guitar what Little Richard does with his voice.” – Jimi Hendrix

Ah yes. Now, there are a bunch of versions of this out there, many with different cover art. Some claim the tracks are re-recorded. This one I have here may well be one of those. Do I care? Haha hell no. I was too busy having a blast.

20 classic tracks are here:

All Around The World / Bama Lama Bama Loo / Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave / Jenny Jenny / Long Tall Sally / Lucille / Miss Ann / Ooh My Soul / Ready Teddy / Rip It Up / Send Me Some Lovin’ / She’s Got It / True Fine Mama / Tutti Frutti / Baby Face / By The Light Of The Silvery Moon / Good Golly Miss Molly / Keep A Knockin’ / Slippin’ And Slidin’ / The Girl Can’t Help It

Ray Charles – Genius + Soul = Jazz

37 jazzy bluesy swingin’ gorgeous tunes spread over two soul-edifying discs.

Here are the details:

Genius + Soul = Jazz is a 1961 album by Ray Charles featuring big band arrangements by Quincy Jones and Ralph Burns. Charles is accompanied by two groups drawn from members of The Count Basie Band and from the ranks of top New York session players. It was recorded at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio in two sessions on December 26 and 27, 1960 and originally released on the Impulse! label as Impulse! A–2.

The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2011. It was re-issued in the UK, first in 1989 on the Castle Communications “Essential Records” label, and by Rhino Records in 1997 on a single CD together with Charles’ 1970 My Kind of Jazz. In 2010, Concord Records released a deluxe edition comprising digitally remastered versions of Genius + Soul = Jazz, My Kind of Jazz, Jazz Number II, and My Kind of Jazz Part 3.

So this set I have here (the 2010 edition) contains four albums (plus a bonus track) in one gorgeous collection! Hot damn!

And you know what I’m gonna say about the music, too, right? This is my wheelhouse! I love this stuff! I grew up on big band at my Nana’s house, and played it myself in the school bands. Just everything about it. Yes.

In Sum:

It’s all freakin’ gorgeous.

SLCR #271: Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt (March 1, 2017)

Over the past year, I’ve had pretty good luck getting front row seats to shows at the Conexus Arts Centre. It’s just a matter of paying attention to when tickets go on sale, combined with a little bit of luck (and, in some cases, dropping ridiculous coin). In this case, I had good luck – I was at my desk at work when the email came in announcing this show, and ticket sales began immediately. Look at all those front row seats! However, there was also some bad luck – I was already booked to see the Philosopher Kings at the Exchange. I’m not a huge Philosopher Kings fan, if I’m being honest; I only know one or two of their songs and enjoyed them but didn’t love them. Mika liked the band and would have gone except it was a school night. She was disappointed enough that I thought “if she thinks they’re that good, I should check them out.” Because that’s what kind of supportive husband I am.

Long story short, the Philosopher Kings show got cancelled. They’re allegedly coming back later this year to tour a new album. Of course, by the time they made this decision, the front row seats for this other show were long gone. So rather than sit as close as possible, I decided to go to this show as cheaply as possible. I was still front row centre, only it was the front row of the third balcony. At least I’d be able to see everything.

By the time the show rolled around, it seemed like tickets had sold reasonably well, but they still put the balcony seats on sale a week before the show (too late for me, alas). Poking around on the venue’s website revealed similar sales figures for this show, Colin James, and Tom Cochrane – and yet Charley Pride was nearly sold out. Good on him. The first half of that show will be good.

I showed up pretty close to the start of the show so I got to be the guy making everyone in the row stand up. I’d feel bad except I don’t at all; as one who normally sits on the end of the row, I’m usually the one doing the standing. Despite sitting in the middle of the row, I never once had to stand up to let anyone go by – I think this is probably due to the fact that because we were in the front row of the third balcony, any movement meant certain death. We were real high up, and that railing was real low. When I shuffled to my seat, I had to turn and face away from the stage because it was freaking me out. It turns out I will happily take awkward interactions with strangers over vertigo and potential doom. This feeling never really went away for the length of the show. Even when the musicians were playing and the lights were darkened and I had no visual sense of how high up we were, it was always kind of there in my mind. Suffice to say this was an experiment I may not repeat. Except in a month or so at The Last Waltz Remembered when I repeat it.

This show was billed as an acoustic evening with Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt. I wasn’t entirely sure what this would entail – would they take turns, was there an opener, etc. Turns out it was exactly what it said it would be. With no opening act, Lovett and Hiatt both took the stage right at 7:30*, each claiming to be the other man. They briefly discussed their laundry before Hiatt launched into Drive South. For the remainder of the night, they took turns playing songs, usually unaided but sometimes with the other musician playing along or singing backing vocals.

I cannot say I knew much about Lyle Lovett before this show, and even less about John Hiatt. I bought this ticket because I thought “this sounds like it would be good” without really knowing enough to back that up. In short, this concert is why I go to random shows for the heck of it. This show was fantastic. Nothing flashy about it, just two excellent songwriters and musicians. Great songs. Great musicianship; Lovett in particular showed off some impressive technique. Great singing; Lovett has a more traditional voice, for lack of a better term, while Hiatt was more inclined to work vocal flourishes into his tunes. Excellent sound in the Arts Centre, too.

Also, bring an ignoramus as previously mentioned, I didn’t really expect this show to be as funny as it was. Lovett and Hiatt had an effortless banter that added an extra dimension to an already great show. It felt like two old friends telling stories and swapping jokes and just spending some time together – which I suppose it was. I’m sure some of it is similar every night, but some of it was off the cuff. During one song, Hiatt flubbed a line and then cracked himself up repeatedly over the mistake, which led to Lovett telling a story of doing a similar thing on national TV.

And that’s about it, really. Nearly three hours (the lack of an opener was not a negative) of two excellent musicians just killing it. This show was so good that I looked up the rest of their tour dates and seeing they were headed to Calgary, I messaged Colin and told him he needed to go to this. He did not. Said he “already had family plans.” His loss.

(j/k Colin I am sure your cousin is a cool guy)

*Okay, really, it was more like 7:36 – late enough for a really grumpy old man to loudly complain about “what time is a 7:30 show supposed to start?” but not so late for literally anyone else in the building to have noticed

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Blackie & the Rodeo Kings (March 8)
• The Tea Party (March 18)
• Bill & Joel Plaskett w/Mayhemingways (March 23)
• Lisa LeBlanc (March 30)
• I Love The 90s feat. Salt N Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Color Me Badd, Young MC, and Rob Base (April 1)
• The Last Waltz Remembered feat. Corb Lund, Matt Andersen, Amy Helm, & the Russell Broom House Band (April 5)
• BA Johnston w/Napalmpom (April 28)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses (August 27)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)

David Bowie – No Plan EP

I snagged this 4-song EP at the same time as I got Blackstar.

The details:

No Plan compiles the original songs written for Bowie’s Broadway musical, Lazarus, including the titular “Lazarus”, “No Plan”, “Killing a Little Time”, and “When I Met You”. The songs were first recorded by the cast of the musical as part of its official soundtrack. The recordings featured on No Plan come from the sessions for Bowie’s twenty-fifth and final studio album Blackstar, with “Lazarus” appearing as the third track on the album. (Wiki)

Lazarus, as we know, appears on the Blackstar album (see yesterday’s review). Listening to it again now, it’s no less harrowing.

And then there are the three non-album tracks:

No Plan slowly shuffles, seeking something, but gentle. Bowie’s voice sounds frail, probably on purpose to fit the song. It’s quite beautiful, honestly, slightly ethereal and jazzy.

Killing A Little Time brings the rock, a pounding drum beat and buzzsaw guitar lead us into Bowie as ringmaster of this circus, relentless and sure. Here’s a taste of what we’re hearing as the band roils…

I staggered through this criminal reign
I’m not in love, no phony pain
Creeping through this tidal wave
No warm embrace, just a lover’s grain
This symphony
This rage in me
I’ve got a handful of songs to sing
To sting your soul
To fuck you over
This furious reign
I’m falling, man
I’m choking, man
I’m fading, man
And broke and blind
I’m falling, man
I’m choking, man
I’m fading, man
Just killing a little time

Whoa. It goes on, too.

Anyway.

The last track is When I Met You, a fairly straight-up light(er) rock tune. Actually fairly reminiscent of some songs he did decades ago, and that has its own resonance here, too. Of course, it’s updated too, bits of it fitting the rest of the Blackstar sound perfectly. I maybe can’t quite describe it well enough, but this is a wee bit like hearing young and older Bowie at the same time!

In Sum:

There’s an honesty and depth to the work here, and these are worthy additions to the Blackstar sound, feel, and approach. If you’re a fan of Bowie’s last album, you’re going to need this EP too, to complete the picture.

David Bowie – Blackstar

A few wee disclaimers/notes up front:

1 – I’m not what anyone would call a massive David Bowie fan, though by no means do I dislike him. I appreciate what he did, but I only own two or three records, and am best acquainted with his hits. If you want a better review by people who know WAY more than me, Google will show you countless efforts. I’d recommend Boppin’s take, for sure.

2 – Surely we all know that this was his 25th record, recorded mostly in secret. It was released to coincide with his 69th birthday (2016), and he died two days later of a cancer the news of which he’d not shared with the public. I say good on him for doing things on his terms. He’d never ave had a moment’s peace if he’d told everyone.

3 – Yes, I am writing this over a year late. But I only bought the album recently, so I suppose now is better than never…

4 – Given my limited knowledge (see #1), I’m likely the worst person in the world to be writing about this record. But I’m gonna do it anyway, aren’t you lucky! Er…

***

Blackstar starts out as a spacelord radiohead-ish weirdo track, with saxophone! Close your eyes and drift out to the stars, baby, until you reach the Blackstar! But then the second half is soulfully lovely and a bit more straight-forward, though there are still elements that creep in… By the time it winds down and the electronics blip and bleep, all I could think was ‘what a trip!’ Boldly starting your record with a 10 minute 2-part song? That’s confidence, baby.

’Tis A Pity She Was A Whore is just a great song name, full points for that. This is a peppier rocker, still with the jazzy saxes! It’s a brilliant blast of infectious energy.

Lazarus is, naturally, slow and comfortable, though it’s occasionally cut by jagged guitars. I picture a late night big city fly-over, all the lights laid out below us, life going on in its myriad ways underneath us and we’re soaring above it all…

Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime) is a jittery rockin’ spy movie tune, but with life news and events as lyrics. Fascinating. His singing acts as opposite to the frantic music. This track is busy like crazy, but worth every second. Engrossing.

Girl Loves Me has a cool little vocal rise at the end of lines (almost a yodel!) and it’s another electronic-driven tune with a sure to be classic “where the fuck did Monday go?” line…

Dollar Days is sheer pretty pop, floating and drifting above acoustic guitars and raising/falling bass. This one has his knowledge of his own impending death all over it.* The saxophone drives it all home and we’re left thinking maybe this ought to have been the last track on the album!

I Can’t Give Everything Away lifts us back up with a happier beat and smooth synths. He starts singing and I realize… oh man, they play this one at work on the canned store radio! I know this tune! Oh man, hang on. I don’t know what to do with this information – this is the last track Bowie would put on a studio album, and it gets played in my thrift shop! David would probably find it amusing. Ah, no matter. You know, he was right, the album couldn’t have ended on Dollar Days, a down note. This jazzy, upbeat tune was the way to end it. And when the song fades out, I sit here and think, well, dammit.

In Sum:

As a swan song, this is one helluva record. Short, at only 7 songs, it still contains more than enough to keep folks happy for a long time. Death looms large over a lot of it, along with a sense of a life well-lived but with so many more thoughts to follow and share and create, and so with a sadness that time is not on his side… I really thought the jazz elements made this record what it was. Sure, there’s so much else going on, most of it more important, but that saxophone was the glue, the common line, the recognizeable relief (but never the fool).

Truly an excellent goodbye to his fans. Even if he hadn’t died right after this dropped, this would still have earned most of the accolades it received.

FUCK CANCER.

 

* Dollar Days lyrics:

Cash girls suffer me, I’ve got no enemies
I’m walking down
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

I’m dying to
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to

We bitches tear our magazines
Those Oligarchs with foaming mouths come
Now and then
Don’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying to

Dollar days
Survival sex honour stretching tails to necks
I’m falling down
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

If I never see the English evergreens I’m running to
It’s nothing to me
It’s nothing to see

I’m dying to
Push their backs against the grain
And fool them all again and again
I’m trying to

It’s all gone wrong but on and on
The bitter nerve ends never end
I’m falling down
Don’t believe for just one second I’m forgetting you
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to
I’m trying to
I’m dying to

Ani DiFranco – Live At Bull Moose Music 4.17.2009

Alright, enough of me whining about being sick. I still feel like crap, but this is a music site, dammit. Let’s get to it.

***

Recorded live at Bull Moose Music, in Scarborough, ME on 2009-04-17, in celebration of Record Store Day. It was for radio broadcast, as well. It’s a short and sweet set, just Ani with Todd Sickafoose on bass.

There’s a short radio station intro, then Ani greets the crowd and goes into an excellent run-through of Alla This. Cool song (from Red Letter Year), as you all know already.

Breaking up the songs there are interview segments. First up is asking Ani about her association with Record Store Day. As a fiercely independent artist, it’s an easy question. Apparently Bull Moose Music was one of the first stores to carry her stuff, so there’s resonance there, too.

Then they play November 4, 2008.* Typically Ani, it’s politically charged and gorgeous to listen to… also quite interesting, given the current political dumpster fire in the US. So much hope in this song, and now…

Interview segment 2 asks her what she thinks of all the labels applied to her (she doesn’t think of them), and what makes a ‘red letter year’ for her (another softball question, you can imagine her answer). Then she discusses post-Katrina New Orleans, where she was living at the time.

Then she drops tuning and they “take us back a few years” to play Everest (from Up Up Up Up Up Up). Gorgeous.

Interview segment 3 she discusses what it’s like to tour with a baby, and when the new record (at the time) will be ready. Then they play one last song, Ani prefacing it by checking they were no longer on the radio, in case she needed to swear in the song…

Unworry is an excellent new tune, which appeared on the next album (2012’s ¿Which Side Are You On?). Hot damn.

In Sum:

Sonically, this EP is gorgeous. Actually pretty hard to believe it’s a live recording. The crowd must have been held rapt, so quiet while she played. The interview segments were fine (mercifully short and to the point), but it does break up the listening. Take all the talking out, and this is a 4-song EP.

I’m happy I got this (I try to collect as much Ani as I can!), and in the spirit of indie music, I got it fairly cheap too. If you come across it in the shoppes, buy with confidence!

NOTES:

NB: Tracks #4 (November 4, 2008) and #8 (Unworthy) were previously unreleased, at the time of this recording. The sleeve of the release does not indicate this.

NB: Wiki says this was limited edition, but I couldn’t find anywhere just how limited it was.

* The lyrics for November 4, 2008:

the victory was ours and you were the first to say it.
never known so many people donate time to a campaign.
and when you were elected there was a global wave of joy.
who knew a world gone mad could still go sane. 

and we poured into the streets
and we danced and we cheered
and a neighborhood was a neighborhood
like it hadn’t been in years.

all eyes meeting were filled with tears
yes we prayed you were coming and then we saw you were here
you are black you are white you are red you are blue. 
you are green you are orange with a purple and yellow hue. 

you’ve risen like a phoenix from each flame that they threw.
you’ve been everything that we’ve asked of you
oh president Obama it’s an honor just to say it, 
i used to hide my passport now i want to display it. 

thank you for our democracy through you is resurrected,
thank you for our basic decency in you is reflected
thank you America for being more than i expected

yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can
yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can

president Obama you do not have to be perfect,
i trust that you are a public servant,
steady as Abraham Lincoln ready as Martin Luther King
is the spirit that you bring. 

and we vow to uphold you through these tricky times.
keep you safe in our hearts and informed with our minds.
and we will uphold each other we won’t divide and attack
cause there’s no going back, no there’s no going back yes no going back

yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can
yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can, yes we can

the victory was ours and you were the first to say it.

Back To The Grind, And A Hockey Game

Well, I’ve run out of days to be sick. It’s back to work today. And straight into hell week. Hooboy. Today is a 50% off sale in the store. And then Tuesday is the usual 30% off senior’s day. If the place is still standing on Wednesday, it’ll be a miracle.

And what a welcome back to work! I’ll need every reserve of strength, I imagine. Nothing like jumping in with both feet.

***

Some cool news from yesterday, partially music-related. For Christmas, my Dad got us tickets to see an NHL alumni hockey game, which was held yesterday. They didn’t release any player names beforehand, so it could be big names, or who knows. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to go, feeling as sick as I was, but come yesterday around noon, I thought I could do it. We went.

The tickets said doors at 1pm, puck drop at 2pm, but no one was assigned seats. It was general admission, first come and first served. So of course we showed up around 12:00, thinking there’d be a line-up. No one. We go into the building, the folks are still setting things up. They had a lot of the stairways roped off, only one way in. We stood around, and finally I approached an official-looking lady at the stairs and she let us up to the seats, just as a guy came over to say we couldn’t go up yet. I muttered under my breath “just keep walking!” and we did. Turned out we were the first ones into the rink, so we had our pick of every seat in the place. My son (it was his choice) selected the first row at the ice, right beside the penalty box at center ice. Attaboy.

We were still hella early. They were testing the sound system pre-game, and playing Queen’s We Will Rock You. On repeat. For half an hour, at varying volumes while some guy said “check, check, check” into a microphone. Now, I love that song, but come on. And that’s the music-related bit of the story. Carry on…

Finally the players come out for a skate-around pre-game. This was a benefit game, in support of Special Olympic Ontario and the Law Enforcement Torch Run. The local team was made up of some of my town’s police officers and firefighters. The NHL alumni team… was like we’d been zapped in the wayback machine.

There was Mark La Forest in net, with Mike Krushelnyski, Lou Franceschetti and Bryan Muir on defense. There was Dan Daoust, Dave McLlwain, Luca Caputi, Mark Napier, and Todd Harvey. Even the referee was Mike Pelyk. The two players I was most excited to see were Brent Gretzky (yep, Wayne’s brother), and Rick Vaive. Man, I loved Rick Vaive as a kid, the way he’d blast up the right wing and shoot pure bullets on the net from the top of the circle… Seriously, it was (mostly) like I was back being a kid in the 80s, watching Hockey Night In Canada on Saturday night.

In all, this was a really fun afternoon. The local law were trying their best, and the old pros were barely putting in effort and still winning. It was clear that if they’d turned it on and really tried, the score would’ve been 50-0, and PDQ. The power and smoothness of the skating was still there, and the control was a pleasure to watch. I was watching Vaive in the warm-ups and he still has a wicked shot. He may have a head of white hair, but he’s been keeping up his skills, it was beautiful.

This afternoon was for fun, though, so there was a lot of horsing around. The NHLers made duff passes just to give the other team chances, and the goalie even tried for an end-to-end rush. Krushelnyski kept collecting snow from along the boards with his stick blade, then dumping it over the glass onto the kids up front, yelling “it’s snowing in here!” Fransceschetti kept knocking the net off its moorings and throwing his stick along the ice to stop breakaways. When the referee gave him penalties for it, he threw his gloves at the ref. Oh man.

A highlight was the first goal the cops team scored. La Forest, the goalie, had requested a photo with the goal scorer for his own ‘wall of shame, in his garage back home.’ So they lined up for the photo and then Gretzky pied the guy in the face. That goal scorer is a dad at my kids’ school, so I’ll have to ask him his side of the tale.

In all, it was a fun afternoon. I wish I had been feeling better – the cold of the rink didn’t help much – but I’m glad I was at least well enough to go to the game. My boy, of course, loved it, and my Dad had a blast remembering all the old players. And, of course, just being in the rink and watching hockey (at any level) is a curative for the Canadian soul.

This is a tour of games, not just a one-off here. I don’t know if they have the same players for every match (probably not, just whomever’s available to come to the rink) but it’s a great time. If there’s one in your town, for all you folks in Ontario, get out to it. It’s for a great cause and it’s a really fun time.

Down With The Sickness

This started out out as a one or two post thing, with me figuring I would be back to fighting form fairly quickly (as is my usual). This goes on much longer, it could turn into a friggin’ series!

And so today was more of the same. In fact, now I can add dizziness to the lack of energy. Oh joy! I went with the kids to their swimming lessons this morning. We were at the pool for an hour. And that was enough to do me in for most of the day – and I wasn’t even in the water!

J. suggested tea and cookies would help. I’ve been downing a lot of tea already (with honey for the sore throat), but I hadn’t considered cookies. Which is some fundamental failure on my part, knowing as I do that cookies solve many problems. J. had suggested chocolate digestives and man, that sounded just right. So my lovely wife went out today for groceries and came back with two packets of McVities’ milk chocolate digestives. The real UK McCoy! Did I ever tell you I love that lady? ‘Cos I do.

So, since I haven’t watched any movies or listened to any tunes today (!) (I know, but it wouldn’t help the headache), I’m just gonna cheat and throw in a couple more pictures and call that enough. Man, we’ve got hockey game tickets for tomorrow (hope I can make it), and then I gotta work on Monday! I’m running outta time to feel this shitty.

 

Couldn’t Stand The Weather

Again, thanks to all who wished me well!

Day three, and I know you’re all riveted with how sick my pathetic ass is, lately. I ended up calling sick yesterday (Friday) too. I’d woken myself up coughing to the point of struggling for breath, around 3 a.m. I was awake until the alarm went off at 6:45. Nope, no way was work happening! Fortunately, my boss was understanding.

So again I had that thought, like “Hey I have the house to myself! I should do tons of stuff!” Aaaaaaaand I lay around all day doing nothing. I watched a Statham movie (they always cheer me), the Italian Job (yes, a remake of the old one). Then I started one of my favourite battle/strategy/kung fu films of all time, Red Cliff. It’s 288 minutes long (that’s almost 5 hours), each DVD has about 140 minutes on it. Anyway, it’s just so beautifully done, and so perfectly acted, and John Woo directed it, so the fight scenes are awesome… but my head wasn’t really into following the plotting and reading all the subtitles today. I totally recommend it (though make sure you get the full film, not the 150 minute edited version), if you ever want to watch an unsung hero of an epic frickin’ film. I love it completely.

Anyway, I still haven’t played any tunes, which is frustrating because I have a ton of cool stuff to cover here…

Ach, here’s some more silly pictures…

“Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you…”

First up, thanks to all who wished me better health yesterday! I’m getting there.

So I called in sick to work yesterday, something I almost never do. But I knew when I got up at 7am to get ready to go that I would be useless in my job. My supervisor was understanding. My folks stepped up and took the kids to school, even picked them up after school and fed them supper so I could sleep.

Here’s something my lovely wife rolls her eyes about, everytime I’m ill. When I get sick, especially when feverish, I decide right then is the perfect time to do all of the everything I’ve been meaning to do. One time, in Montreal, I went on a mission to buy a new stereo and was determined to carry the giant box across the downtown of the city to our apartment. She made me get a cab. I should have been home in bed…

So yesterday I thought ‘I have the house to myself. I can do all sorts of things I’ve been meaning to do! Work in the Man Cave! Play the guitar as loud as I want! It’s endless!’

In the end, I crashed on the couch and half-watched Suicide Squad (really, really stupid film, apologies to its fans). Then I ate a wee bit and slept the entire afternoon. So much for my big plans!

As you’re reading this it’ll be Friday, and I assume I will have gone back to work. I won’t be 100% by the morning, but I can’t afford two days off and I do feel better than I did. Well, better enough, I suppose. Instead of feeling like I weigh 500lbs, it’s more like 300lbs…

Lacking any musical listening and, remarkably, with nothing half-written waiting in Dennis (my hopper), I can’t even half-ass my way through a review of anything. Which is frustrating because I have a lot of really cool music here that I’ve been wanting to share.

Ah well, here are some silly pictures. I’ll be back to usual eventually!

 

The Weather I’m Under

Yesterday morning I woke up to a bit of a runny nose. No big surprise: we have two small children and they are petrie dishes and have been sick several times throughout this winter. I blame the big changes in temperatures this year. The lake hasn’t ever frozen over and that always messes with everything. Folks enjoy the spring-like temps but it’s a fool’s paradise. The cost is too large. We need deep freeze.

Ignore it. I went to work.

I was rocking it like I always do, on pace to crush my quota yet again. Come about 1:30, I suddenly felt like I weighed 500 lbs. Every limb just gave up. I had no breath or energy. I sat down, which I never do. Good thing I leave at 2:15.

I am typing this at 8pm last night, and I still feel that way. I skipped supper – I never do that. I just drank tea and rested. I went to bed early. There’s no fever, no upset anything. Just that feeling like something’s coming on and it’s taking it’s damn fine sweet time in getting around to it.

Here’s hoping tomorrow doesn’t see me waking up to a full-fledged flu or something. I would say a few blue words.

Festival In The Desert

Mr. 1537 raved about this set a long while back, and I’ve spent the intervening time trying to find a copy that wasn’t too expensive. Finally, success! And holy shit, as always, the man was absolutely right. This set is incredible

I’ve got it all here in 80 words…

Live from Festival In The Desert (Essakane, near Timbuktu, Mali, January 6-8, 2003), this set is absolutely killer. I knew a few artists (Tinariwen, Oumou Sangaré, Ali Farka Touré), but most is new-to-me brilliance.

Sole westerner track is Robert Plant (with Justin Adams) doing a supremely bluesy “Win My Train Fare Home.”  But for me the real meat is the rest of the disc, in that gorgeous beat, that rhythm of life, that soul… Hands-down: Stunning.

 

The Tracks:
Takamba Super Onze – Super 11
Afel Bocoum – Buri Baalal
Tartit – Tihar Bayatin
Robert Plant And Justin Adams – Win My Train Fare Home
Sedoum Ehl Aïda – Ya Moulana
Lo’Jo + Django – Jah Kas Cool Boy
Oumou Sangaré – Wayena
Ali Farka Touré – Karaw
Tinariwen – Aldachan Manin
Adama Yalomba – Politique
Tidawt – Ariyalan
Ludovico, Einaudi & Ballaké Sissoko – Chameaux
Kel Tin Lokiene – Ihama
Kwal + Foy-Foy – Le Juge Ment
Tindé – Wana
Aïcha Bint Chihaly – Koultouleili-Khhalett La
Igbayen – Oubilalian
Baba Salah – Fady Yeïna
Blackfire – What Do You See
Django – Laisse-Moi Dire

Foo Fighters – Skin And Bones

Rather than me type it all out, here’s the relevant info:

Skin and Bones is a live acoustic album by Foo Fighters released on November 7, 2006. The 15-track set was recorded on August 29, 30 and 31, 2006 at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles and spotlights an expanded eight-piece lineup featuring violinist/singer Petra Haden, former Germs/Nirvana/Foo Fighters guitarist Pat Smear, Wallflowers keyboardist Rami Jaffee, and percussionist Drew Hester. Haden and Jaffee had appeared as guest musicians on the band’s previous studio album, In Your Honor. A three-song encore consists of Grohl’s solo performances of “Friend of a Friend”, “Best of You”, and “Everlong”. The album debuted at number 21 on the Billboard 200, selling about 49,000 copies in its first week. This was also the album’s peak position on the chart.

Excellent, with that out of the way, it frees me up to write about my gut reaction to the album!

I got this for cheap, at work, and I quite enjoyed it. I’m not the hugest Foos fan, though I own a couple of their records. That said, I do generally like when their songs come on, and then I think I oughta own more, then I wonder why I don’t…

This is a cool set, some hits, and songs you oughta know. Like the Nirvana MTV Unplugged set, songs get reworkings and become new beasts. Honestly, I like some of these versions better, especially the ones that were originally big rockers now turned to strong stripped back tunes.

I’d be interested to see the DVD, and not just for the extra tracks. I get the feeling the power of the show, which comes through well on the CD, would be even more enhanced by seeing them in action.

In Sum:

Right on. Bought on a whim, this was a mighty damn good set.

 

***

The Tracks: Razor / Over And Out / Walking After You / Marigold / My Hero / Next Year / Another Round / Big Me / Cold Day In The Sun / Skin And Bones / February Stars / Times Like These / Friend Of A Friend / Best Of You / Everlong

The DVD has a slightly different track order, and several extra tracks: Intro, On The Mend, Still, See You, What If I Do, and Ain’t It The Life.

SLCR #270: Big Wreck (February 9, 2017)

This might be the ultimate “it was fine” review. I’ve been putting this off for over two weeks now because it’s going to be a bit of a struggle to say much of anything. But I want to clear my slate before Lyle Lovett on Wednesday, and The Walking Dead is on, and I find paying attention to The Walking Dead to be even more of a chore than writing reviews when I don’t have anything to say, so here we go.

Jeff really likes these guys. I should just let him write this whole thing, but we’re coming up on tax season and he’s probably not got time. Plus, over the past 20+ years, I have carefully cultivated an audience of at least a dozen people who clearly aren’t interested in expert opinions. But yes, Jeff, big fan. One of their albums is his favourite ever, he told me. Which is largely why I went to this show. Not that I got around to listening to that album beforehand – not that they played anything from it anyway – but a recommendation that strong is usually enough to get me to a show. So I went to a show.

I did listen to a collection of Big Wreck singles before buying the ticket. I didn’t think I really knew much of anything by them, but that proved to not be the case. They’re very much one of those bands where I was like “oh, THEY do that song.” Stuff I knew from the radio from back in my pizza delivery days, though they reunited in 2012 and have been putting out music since then.

So off I went. I opted for standing room on the floor, while Jeff and his brother got balcony seating. The floor always seems like a good idea, but then I stay far back from the stage anyway, leaving me with sore feet, strained eyes, and an unsupported backside. Plus I think the floor costs $5 more. Someday I’ll learn. Probably not anytime soon, though.

Our openers were Ascot Royals. Or as it kind of sounded like they were saying, “NASCAR Roses.” Didn’t know much about them beforehand and still don’t, really, but they were fun enough. A short set of straightforward rock, nothing groundbreaking but well done, kinda catchy, and they seemed like good dudes. I approve! I’m playing their new EP, New Skin, right now, and it’s worth a listen. I think they played pretty much this whole thing during their set.

Before the show, I killed time reading ALL-CAPS tweets about Trump (this was the day of the infamous “SEE YOU IN COURT”) as the casino played the alternative rock hits of the 90s, including Ocean Pearl by 54-40 (who I have seen at said casino) and Santa Monica by Everclear (who are there in a few months). However, because between sets, we were treated to Reflektor by Arcade Fire. Like, not just the title track, but the whole album on shuffle for the entire 30ish minutes. It seemed like a really strange choice, is all. And probably not one that portends a future casino show, I’m guessing.

As for Big Wreck, the most notable thing was when singer Ian Thornley went off on the fans down in the very front who had their phones out, recording video. He didn’t seem to care that they were taping so much as they were right in the very front where he could see them. Like it made him overthink how he was standing, his facial expressions, all that stuff, instead of just playing music. Which is fair. But he really singled a few people out, and I think he felt bad about it – he walked it back a bit after the next song, and wound up shaking hands with the fans before he was done. At the end, he handed them picks too, so everyone was friends in the end.

As for the show itself, they were good. Like I said, it was fine. They played all the songs I know (as if there are a ton of them). Really, I was not invested enough in things to have a strong opinion one way or another, and I was more interested in what Jeff had to say. He enjoyed it, noting they didn’t play his favourite songs but the new stuff sounded a lot better live (and they played a lot of it). Which is not a ton to go on but a lot more than you were ever going to get from me.

UPCOMING CONCERTS
• Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt (March 1)
• Blackie & the Rodeo Kings (March 8)
• The Tea Party (March 18)
• Bill & Joel Plaskett w/Mayhemingways (March 23)
• Lisa LeBlanc (March 30)
• I Love The 90s feat. Salt N Pepa, Vanilla Ice, Color Me Badd, Young MC, and Rob Base (April 1)
• The Last Waltz Remembered feat. Corb Lund, Matt Andersen, Amy Helm, & the Russell Broom House Band (April 5)
• BA Johnston w/Napalmpom (April 28)
• Ron Sexsmith (May 7)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses (August 27)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)

Wilco – Wilco (The Album)

It’s gratitude day again! As I mentioned in my Steve Vai – Passion And Warfare review, I recently received an awesomeness holidays gift from the illustrious Mike at mikeladano.com

This Wilco record was in there too, but it’s special – it’s the Japanese import version! It has a bonus track! I know. As would we all be, I was floored.

Let’s check it out, shall we? We shall…

First off, it has a camel on the cover. I love it already.

OK, let’s go!

Wilco (The Song), a song title I love for an album opener for Wilco (The Album), is a jaunty Werewolves Of London-ish tune. Fun! Deeper Down stops and starts a lot, very gentle rocking and lots of cool instrumental jabs and interludes. For all that, it’s quite uplifting. I really liked this one!

One Wing is a haunting melody, yet still with the energy of a solid pop song. I heard shades of Radiohead in the music, the chord changes and the electronics. Bull Black Nova grooves along under a repetitive stabbing piano riff. We do get respite, but wow that gets tired quickly! The song woulda been just fine without it, though I suppose it does a measure of menace or, at least, divided attention. Get past that, though, and this song has a lot of cool stuff going on. The guitar solo is silky great.

You And I is the first time Wilco has ever featured a duet on one of their records, and it’s with Feist. It starts off strummy and builds into a dreamy, drifter of a track. The voices work well together.

You Never Know is, for lack of a better description, a typical Wilco song circa, say, Being There. It rocks, but not too hard… just right! Its lyrics are interesting, given our current times: “Come on children / You’re acting like children / Every generation thinks / Its the end of the world / And all ya fat followers / Get fit fast / Every generation thinks it’s the last / Thinks its the end of the world / Yes dream down a well / There’s a lone heavy hell / I don’t care anymore / I don’t care anymore / It’s a feeling we transcend / If we’re here at the end / I don’t care anymore / I don’t care anymore / You never know”

Country Disappeared is a gorgeous, elegiac track that left me wanting more when it was done. Solitaire continues the feel, softly and beautifully leading us through its twists and turns, with organ swells and lap steel guitar.

I’ll Fight has Motown soul while he talks about the horrible things he’ll do for you. Seriously, the music and the words here meet in jarring ways! Fascinating… Sunny Feeling is a bluesy rocker, a track I really loved. When it starts stomping, I’m lifted and gone, baby, gone!

Everlasting Everything soaks you in its rising and falling waves of tenderness and edge, with piano at the core and acoustic guitar to steady it. When the drums kick in, and then the strings, well sir, you know you’re in the presence of glory.

***

And that’s where the regular version of the album ends. Honestly, that’d be a lot to digest, all of it fascinating. But my version is the special Japanese import version, because that’s how Mike rolls! So I get one extra track:

Dark Neon starts off with an odd stomp but it quickly resolves into a mildly wild rocker that swaggers and swings its way through, buoyed by buzzing guitar and some damn fine bluesiness too. When it crashes to a close, it’s too damn soon. I don’t know why this didn’t make the main album!

In Sum:

I loved this record. Wilco gives us so many looks at the their incredible talents. Each track  stands strong and makes you say ‘yes, this is beautiful and perfect.’ But then when the record is done, and you’re leaning back in your chair, the good headphones still strapped to your head, trying to collect your thoughts on everything you just heard, you realize that for as much as the songs work well alone, they also compile into one helluva winning album.

THANK YOU MIKE!!!!!

***

For those who love all the details, I’ve included two sections for your enjoyment:

1) This is what Jeff Tweedy said was the theme of the record (Wiki):

Tweedy summarised the main theme of the album as the acceptance of life’s uncertainties, stating:

“I think there’s a liberating nature to that concept […] It allows for a playfulness and an engagement in life that is more enjoyable than the alternative. I’ve aspired to convey some of those things for a long time now, maybe not so clearly before because it hasn’t been so clear to me. But I do believe that the greater ability you have to tolerate ambiguity, the more successfully you can steer your life. The alternative point of view—the complete dismissal of ambiguity, trying to rationalise irrationality—can be very destructive.”

This theme is manifested, for example, in the line from “Deeper Down” which goes “I adore the meaninglessness of the ‘this’ we can’t express.”

The album’s lyrics portray both dark and light subject matter, from “Bull Black Nova”, which is written from the point of view of a man who just killed his girlfriend, to the Feist duet “You and I”, which treats two lovers trying to keep a relationship together.

2) Here’s some more info (also Wiki):

Wilco (The Album)

Wilco released their seventh album, Wilco (The Album), on June 30, 2009. In March 2009, it was announced that singer-songwriter Feist would make a guest appearance on the new album, on the track “You and I”. Like their previous three albums, Wilco streamed the entirety of the album on its website prior to release. The album hit the charts at a career-high No. 4 with sales of 99,000 on the Billboard Top 200 Album chart as well as the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums chart. It marked Wilco’s third top 10 album on the U.S. pop chart. The album’s first single “You Never Know” reached the No. 1 spot on the AAA Chart, their first No. 1 in twelve years.

Beginning in April 2009, the band freely distributed a cover of Woody Guthrie’s “The Jolly Banker”, downloadable from their website. It was recorded at the Wilco loft in February of that year, at the suggestion of Guthrie’s daughter, Nora. Downloaders were encouraged to donate to the Woody Guthrie Foundation. Feist returned to accompany on the track, playing the Garden Weasel. The track eventually became unavailable for download. In October 2011, the website began streaming the track via a plugin.

On May 25, 2009, former band member Jay Bennett died in his home in Urbana, Illinois. In a prepared statement, Jeff Tweedy remarked that he was “deeply saddened” by Bennett’s death.

Feist and Wilco performed “You and I” on Late Show with David Letterman on July 14, 2009. In June during their West Coast tour, Wilco joined Beck, Feist, Jamie Lidell and James Gadson in the studio to take part in Beck’s Record Club project, covering Skip Spence’s Oar album. The first song “Little Hands” was posted on Beck’s website on November 12, 2009.

On April 6, 2010, Wilco announced during their Boston performance that they would be headlining and curating a festival in North Adams, Massachusetts, dubbed Solid Sound Festival. The event ran at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art from August 13–15, and featured various Wilco side projects, including The Autumn Defense, Pronto, The Nels Cline Singers, and Jeff Tweedy solo. Other bands who appeared included Mavis Staples, Avi Buffalo, Outrageous Cherry, Richard Bishop, The Books, and Vetiver. It also featured non-musical media, such as the Bread and Puppet Theater and comedians Todd Barry, Kristen Schaal, John Mulaney, and Hannibal Buress as well as interactive musical installations by Cline and Kotche. In November 2016, the band also curates their own program during the tenth Anniversary Edition of Le Guess Who? Festival in Utrecht, The Netherlands. This curated program includes performances by amongst others Tortoise, Bassekou Kouyaté, Lee Ranaldo, Fennesz, Steve Gunn, William Tyler and The Cairo Gang.

Wilco’s contract with Nonesuch ended in 2010 and they formed their own label. Wilco announced via their web site and Twitter page on January 27, 2011 that the new label will be called dBpm Records (Decibels per Minute) and will be run out of the offices of their manager, Tony Margherita, in Easthampton, Massachusetts.

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – 20 Years Of Awesome!

For my Sunday Pondering today, I ponder the wonder (wonder ponder) the glory that is Me First And The Gimme Gimmes.

Inspired by my listening for yesterday’s post, here is a complete list of every Me First And The Gimme Gimmes album and EP, and the songs they covered. I also threw in the rarer stuff I could find from their 7″ singles and compilation appearances…

Since 1997!! 20 YEARS!!

Why? Because the KMA LOVES YOU!

Have A Ball (1997)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Danny’s Song” Kenny Loggins Loggins and Messina 2:10
2. “Leaving on a Jet Plane” (from Denver) John Denver Chad Mitchell Trio 2:32
3. “Me and Julio Down By the Schoolyard” (from Paul) Paul Simon Paul Simon 2:42
4. “One Tin Soldier” Dennis Lambert, Brian Potter Original Caste 2:01
5. “Uptown Girl” (from Billy) Billy Joel Billy Joel 2:22
6. “I Am a Rock” (from Garf) Paul Simon Simon & Garfunkel 2:04
7. “Sweet Caroline” (from Diamond) Neil Diamond Neil Diamond 2:53
8. “Seasons in the Sun” Jacques Brel Terry Jacks 2:27
9. “Fire and Rain” (from In Your Barkalounger) James Taylor James Taylor 1:24
10. “Nobody Does It Better” Carole Bayer Sager, Marvin Hamlisch Carly Simon 2:28
11. “Mandy” (from Barry) Scott English, Richard Kerr Barry Manilow 2:27
12. “Rocket Man” (from Elton) Elton John, Bernie Taupin Elton John 3:15

Are A Drag (1999)

No. Title Lyrics Music Musical Length
1. “Over the Rainbow” E. Y. Harburg Harold Arlen The Wizard of Oz 1:32
2. “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina” Tim Rice Andrew Lloyd Webber Evita 2:29
3. “Science Fiction/Double Feature” Richard O’Brien O’Brien The Rocky Horror Show 2:34
4. “Summertime” DuBose Heyward, Dorothy Heyward, Ira Gershwin George Gershwin Porgy and Bess 2:10
5. “My Favorite Things” (contains an interpolation of “Generator” by Bad Religion, written by Brett Gurewitz) Oscar Hammerstein II Richard Rodgers The Sound of Music 1:52
6. “Rainbow Connection” Paul Williams, Kenneth Ascher Williams, Ascher The Muppet Movie 2:18
7. “Phantom of the Opera” Charles Hart, Richard Stilgoe, Mike Batt Andrew Lloyd Webber The Phantom of the Opera 1:45
8. “I Sing the Body Electric” Dean Pitchford Michael Gore Fame 1:44
9. “It’s Raining on Prom Night” Jim Jacobs, Warren Casey Jacobs, Casey Grease 2:57
10. “Tomorrow” (contains an interpolation of “Surrender” by Cheap Trick, written by Rick Nielsen) Martin Charnin Charles Strouse Annie 1:31
11. “What I Did for Love” Edward Kleban Marvin Hamlisch A Chorus Line 1:46
12. “Cabaret” Fred Ebb John Kander Cabaret 3:24

Turn Japanese EP (2001)

No. Title Writer(s) Original artist Length
1. “The Times They Are A-Changin'” Bob Dylan Bob Dylan 2:09
2. “The Boxer” Paul Simon Simon & Garfunkel 2:49
3. “You’ve Got a Friend” Carole King Carole King / James Taylor 2:35
4. “Blowin’ in the Wind” Bob Dylan Bob Dylan 1:44
5. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” Elton John, Bernie Taupin Elton John 3:49

Blow In The Wind (2001)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Blowin’ in the Wind” (begins with a similar clip of “Perfect Government” by NoFX”) Bob Dylan Bob Dylan
2. “Sloop John B” (contains an interpolation of “Teenage Lobotomy” by the Ramones, written by Dee Dee Ramone) Brian Wilson The Beach Boys
3. “Wild World” Cat Stevens Cat Stevens
4. “Who Put the Bomp (In the Bomp, Bomp, Bomp)” Barry Mann, Gerry Goffin Barry Mann and The Halos
5. “Elenore” (contains an interpolation of “London Calling” by The Clash, written by Joe Strummer and Mick Jones) Howard Kaylan, Mark Volman, Al Nichol, Jim Pons, John Barbata The Turtles
6. “My Boyfriend’s Back” Bob Feldman, Jerry Goldstein, Richard Gottehrer The Angels
7. “All My Loving” (contains an interpolation of “You Drive Me Ape (You Big Gorilla)” by The Dickies, written by Stan Lee, Leonard Graves Phillips, and Steve Hufsteter.) John Lennon, Paul McCartney The Beatles
8. “Stand by Your Man” Billy Sherrill, Tammy Wynette Tammy Wynette
9. “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” (contains an interpolation of “Stranger Than Fiction” by Bad Religion, written by Brett Gurewitz and “Pessimistic Lines” by Bad Religion, written by Greg Graffin) John Phillips Scott McKenzie
10. “I Only Want to Be with You” (contains an interpolation of “The Money Will Roll Right In” by Fang) Mike Hawker, Ivor Raymonde Dusty Springfield
11. “Runaway” Del Shannon, Max Crook Del Shannon
12. “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow?” Gerry Goffin, Carole King The Shirelles
13. “Different Drum” (ends with a guitar riff taken from “Georgy Girl” by The Seekers)

Take A Break (2003)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” Frank Wildhorn, Chuck Jackson Whitney Houston
2. “Hello” Lionel Richie Lionel Richie
3. “End of the Road” Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Antonio “L.A.” Reid, Daryl Simmons Boyz II Men
4. “Ain’t No Sunshine” Bill Withers Bill Withers
5. “Nothing Compares 2 U” Prince The Family
6. “Crazy” (contains an interpretation of “Six Pack” by Black Flag, written by Greg Ginn) Seal, Guy Sigsworth Seal
7. “Isn’t She Lovely” Stevie Wonder Stevie Wonder
8. “I Believe I Can Fly” R. Kelly R. Kelly
9. “Oh Girl” (contains an interpretation of “Race Against Time” by GBH) Barbara Acklin, Eugene Record The Chi-Lites
10. “I’ll Be There” (contains an interpretation of “Just What I Needed” by The Cars, written by Ric Ocasek) Berry Gordy, Bob West, Hal Davis, Willie Hutch The Jackson 5
11. “Mona Lisa” Ray Evans, Jay Livingston Nat King Cole
12. “Save the Best for Last” (contains an interpretation of “Pretty Vacant” by the Sex Pistols) Phil Galdston, Wendy Waldman, Jon Lind Vanessa Williams
13. “Natural Woman” Gerry Goffin, Carole King, Jerry Wexler Aretha Franklin

Ruin Johnny’s Bar Mitzvah (live) (2004)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Jonny’s Blessing” 1:04
2. “Stairway to Heaven” Jimmy Page, Robert Plant Led Zeppelin 2:33
3. “Heart of Glass” Debbie Harry, Chris Stein Blondie 2:43
4. “Delta Dawn” Larry Collins Tanya Tucker 2:41
5. “Come Sail Away” Dennis DeYoung Styx 2:48
6. “‘O Sole Mio” traditional 2:19
7. “Strawberry Fields Forever” John Lennon, Paul McCartney The Beatles 2:57
8. “Auld Lang Syne” traditional 1:49
9. “The Longest Time” (contains an interpolation of “Suspect Device” by Stiff Little Fingers, written by Jake Burns and Gordon Ogilvie) Billy Joel Billy Joel 2:30
10. “On My Mind” Johnny Christopher, Mark James, Wayne Carson Thompson Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson 2:36
11. “Take It on the Run” Gary Richrath REO Speedwagon 2:44
12. “Superstar” (contains an interpolation of “Kids of the Black Hole” by The Adolescents) Bonnie Bramlett, Leon Russell Delaney and Bonnie 3:21
13. “Hava Nagila” (contains an interpolation of “Come Out and Play” by The Offspring, written by Dexter Holland) traditional 3:41
14. “Hava Nagila (Christmas Arrangement)” (contains an interpolation of “Feliz Navidad” by José Feliciano) traditional 12:53
15. “Seasons in the Sun” (featuring Uncle Roger) Jacques Brel, Rod McKuen The Kingston Trio 2:27
16. “Sloop John B” (featuring Jonny Wixen; contains an interpolation of “Teenage Lobotomy” by the Ramones, written by Dee Dee Ramone) Brian Wilson The Beach Boys 2:09

Love Their Country (2006)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Much Too Young (To Feel This Damn Old)” Garth Brooks, Randy Taylor Garth Brooks 2:02
2. “(Ghost) Riders in the Sky” Stan Jones Stan Jones and his Death Valley Rangers 1:33
3. “Desperado” Glenn Frey, Don Henley Eagles 2:28
4. “On the Road Again” (contains an interpretation of “Astro Zombies” by the Misfits, written by Glenn Danzig) Willie Nelson Willie Nelson 2:13
5. “Annie’s Song” John Denver John Denver 1:42
6. “Jolene” Dolly Parton Dolly Parton 1:47
7. “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” Hank Williams Hank Williams 2:00
8. “Lookin’ for Love” Wanda Malette, Robert Morrison, Patti Ryan Johnny Lee 1:48
9. “Goodbye Earl” Dennis Linde Dixie Chicks 2:25
10. “East Bound and Down” (contains an interpretation of “Love Song” by The Damned) Dick Feller, Jerry Reed Jerry Reed 1:47
11. “She Believes in Me” Stephen Gibb Kenny Rogers 2:11
12. “Sunday Morning Coming Down” (contains an interpretation of “Police and Thieves” by The Clash, written by Junior Murvin and Lee “Scratch” Perry)

Have Another Ball (2008)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Rich Girl” (from Happy Meals, Vol. 2: The Perfect Marriage) Daryl Hall Hall & Oates 2:06
2. “The Boxer” (from Garf) Paul Simon Simon and Garfunkel 2:49
3. “Country Roads” (from Denver) John Denver, Bill Danoff, Taffy Nivert John Denver 2:10
4. “I Write the Songs” (from Barry) Bruce Johnston Barry Manilow 2:57
5. “Sodomy” Galt MacDermot, James Rado, Gerome Ragni Hair cast (musical) 0:28
6. “You’ve Got a Friend” (from In Your Barkalounger (contains an interpretation of “Blitzkrieg Bop” by The Ramones)) Carole King James Taylor 2:35
7. “Mahogany (contains an interpretation of “Richie Dagger’s Crime” by the Germs)” Michael Masser, Gerald Goffin Diana Ross 1:50
8. “Mother and Child Reunion” (from Paul) Paul Simon Paul Simon 2:10
9. “Only the Good Die Young” (from Billy) Billy Joel Billy Joel 2:47
10. “Coming to America” (from Diamond) Neil Diamond Neil Diamond 2:24
11. “The Harder They Come” (from the Warped Tour 2003 Tour Compilation) Jimmy Cliff Jimmy Cliff 2:25
12. “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” (from Elton)

Go Down Under EP (2011)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Never Tear Us Apart” Andrew Farriss, Michael Hutchence INXS 2:04
2. “All Out of Love” (Contains an interpretation of “Rise Above” by Black Flag, written by Greg Ginn) Graham Russell, Russell Hitchcock Air Supply 2:55
3. “Friday on My Mind” Harry Vanda, George Young The Easybeats 2:28
4. “Have You Never Been Mellow” John Farrar Olivia Newton-John 2:31
5. “I’ve Done Everything for You” Sammy Hagar Rick Springfield 2:04

Sing In Japanese EP (2011)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “Hero” Yoshihiro Kai Kai Band 2:33
2. “Kokoro No Tabi” Kazuo Zaitsu Tulip 2:12
3. “Kekkon Shiyoyo” (Contains an interpolation of “Story of My Life” by Social Distortion) Takuro Yoshida Takuro Yoshida 2:43
4. “C-C-C” (Contains an interpolation of “Bloodstains” by Agent Orange, written by Mike Palm) Kunihiko Kase, Kazumi Yasui The Tigers 2:08
5. “22 Sai No Wakare” Shōzō Ise Kaguyahime 2:17
6. “Linda Linda”

Are We Not Men? We Are Diva! (2014)

No. Title Writer(s) Original performer Length
1. “I Will Survive” Freddie Perren, Dino Fekaris Gloria Gaynor 2:27
2. “Straight Up” (uses the intro from “Evil” by 45 Grave, composed by Dinah Cancer, Paul Cutler and Don Bolles) Elliot Wolff Paula Abdul 2:59
3. “Believe” Brian Higgins, Stuart McLennen, Paul Barry, Steven Torch, Matthew Gray, Timothy Powell Cher 3:08
4. “Beautiful” (uses the intro from “Superficial Love” by T.S.O.L.)) Linda Perry Christina Aguilera 2:12
5. “My Heart Will Go On” James Horner, Will Jennings Celine Dion 2:44
6. “I Will Always Love You (from Dolly)” Dolly Parton Dolly Parton 2:12
7. “Top of the World” Richard Carpenter, John Bettis The Carpenters 2:09
8. “Speechless” (uses the intro from “Sonic Reducer” by The Dead Boys) Stefani Germanotta Lady Gaga 3:19
9. “Karma Chameleon” (uses the intro from “Everybody’s Happy Nowadays” by The Buzzcocks, written by Pete Shelley) George O’Dowd, Jon Moss, Mikey Craig, Roy Hay, Phil Pickett, Alfie Malone Culture Club 3:45
10. “Crazy for You” (uses a ukulele interpretation of the intro from “The Tide Is High” by Blondie, written by John Holt) John Bettis, Jon Lind Madonna 2:48
11. “On the Radio” (uses the intro from “Brickfield Nights” by The Boys, written by Stein “Casino Steel” Groven and Matt Dangerfield) Donna Summer, Giorgio Moroder Donna Summer 3:36
12. “The Way We Were” Alan Bergman, Marilyn Bergman, Marvin Hamlisch Barbra Streisand 2:53

***

The band also appeared on several punker compilations. Often it’s just an album track. But with the release of Have Another Ball they compiled a lot of the stuff that was only ever on those compilations as single tracks. However, here are some of the non-album tracks still out there:

Fat Music Vol. V: Life Fat, Die Young – Hats Off To Larry (Del Shannon – on the Shannon 7″ too)
Moloko Plus #19 – My World (I assume it’s the Bee Gees, but there are others)
Aggropop Now – I Just Called To Say I Love You (Stevie Wonder – on Stevie 7″ too)

***

They have also released a bunch of 7″ records (I have a few, but I want them all the precioussssss!). Some of them have non-album tracks too:

Stevens 7″ – Father And Son (Cat Stevens)
Jackson 7″ – Ben (Jackson 5)
Cash 7″ – I Still Miss Someone (Johnny Cash)
Willie 7″ – City And New Orleans (Willie Nelson)
Kenny 7″ – Lady (Kenny Rogers)
Jerry 7″ – East Bound And Down (Rough Mix) (Jerry Reed)
Jerry 7″ – I’m Gonna Write A Song (Jerry Reed)

***

All of those compilation and single tracks add up to 10. That’s an album’s worth, boys! Collect them up and make it happen!

UPDATE! AWESOME NEWS:

Two second on the Fat Wreck Chords site tell me that on April 7, 2017, the Gimmes will be releasing Rake It In: The Greatest Hits! Wahoo!

This fills me with so much glee. Their releasing their greatest hits… of other peoples’ greatest hits! Have I ever told you that I love this band?

The set looks awesome, and even moreso because they’ve added some of that stuff from other places I’ve listed above:

1 – their Willie Nelson cover of City Of New Orleans, previously only available on the Willie 7″ single!

2 – their Del Shannon cover of Hats Off To Larry, previously only on the Shannon 7″ and the Fat Music V compilation!

3 – their Kenny Rogers cover of Lady, previously only on the Kenny 7″!

That takes care of 3 three of the rarer tracks. Only 7 more to go! The other 7 can still be an EP, boys! Make it so!

Anyway, here’s the Rake It In track list!

1: The Times They Are a-Changing
2: Rainbow Connection
3: City of New Orleans
4: Summertime
5: All My Loving
6: Straight Up
7: Over the Rainbow
8: Country Roads
9: Sloop John B
10: Jolene
11: Uptown Girl
12: Hats Off To Larry
13: Desperado
14: Lady
15: San Francisco
16: I Believe I Can Fly
17: End of the Road

Mark your calendars for April 7, folks. I know I sure will!

In Sum:

Whew! So much goodness. I highly recommend you get it all! I may have missed tracks, so if you found anything else let me know!

PS: Let’s not forget the time their merch page was selling a coke mirror. Glorious…

Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Are We Not Men? We Are Diva!

I’ve said before, in these pages, that I sure do love Me First And The Gimme Gimmes. They’ve taken playful, punker stabs at all sorts of genres, over the years, and handily managed each with aplomb. Every record just fills me with glee, and I’m always so glad to hear from them again.

This most recent effort (from 2014) is, as you’ve guessed, their turn playing diva songs. Check out the songs they’re covering:

Gloria Gaynor – I Will Survive
Paula Abdul – Straight Up
Cher – Believe
Christina Aguilera – Beautiful
Celine Dion – My Heart Will Go On
Dolly Parton – I Will Always Love You
Carpenters – Top Of The World
Lady Gaga – Speechless
Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
Madonna – Crazy For You
Donna Summer – On The Radio
Barbara Streisand – The Way We Were

Haha oh man, it’s beautiful (yes, Christina, it’s true!). And the brilliant part of writing this up is, if you know their sound at all, you can already (pretty much) imagine what these tracks sound like in your head right now! But before you go ‘why would I buy more of the same?’, they’re not all straight on sped-up punk fascimiles of the tunes, though they’re all recognizable and glorious.

And there’s more. In keeping with what must surely pass for tradition in their camp by now, they have utilised some other songs as intros to the main cover tunes…

Straight Up uses 45 Grave’s Evil, Beautiful uses T.S.O.L.’s Superficial Love, Speechless uses the Dead Boys’ Sonic Reducer, Karma Chameleon uses Buzzcocks’ Everybody’s Happy Nowadays, Crazy For You includes a ukulele interpretation of the intro to Blondie’s The Tide Is High, and On The Radio uses Brickfield Nights by The Boys.

In only 34:11, Me Fist And The Gimme Gimmes can make you love them all over again. They’re the insouciant and mouthy, fun-loving kid up the street who’s always slightly off, but soooo much fun to hang out with on a school night.

In Sum:

This band rules. I hope they make albums forever.

Smashing Pumpkins – Siamese Dream

Still on a grunge kick, here’s another classic of the genre that everyone owned (with the probable exception of our infernal HMO), at one point or another… 

Playing this 1993 record now, in 2017, I still knew every word and what came next in every song. Rather than that being boring, though, it was like being with an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. The good kind, with whom you can just pick right up and it’s like no time has elapsed at all. Damn, we played the hell out of this CD, back in the day! I even learned how to play Disarm and Today on the guitar. Bet I could still do it now.

I had vague memories of (at one time) thinking that this album was over-produced, that it was so fixed up that the sound was brittle. This time through, I didn’t notice at all. So, either my memory is faulty, or I thought that way at the time but didn’t this time around? Cool story, bro… Anyway.

What struck me most was just how fuckin’ heavy this all was… I hadn’t remembered. There are guitars all over this damn thing, and they’re crunchy as hell, the bass is massive, and the drums are pounding… Turn it up in the good headphones, it’s a huge, passionate sound.  Whoa.

In Sum:

A pure classic of its era, and another damn-near-perfect, very satisfying album.

 

Tracks: Cherub Rock / Quiet / Today / Hummer / Rocket / Disarm / Soma / Geek U.S.A. / Mayonaise / Spaceboy / Silverfuck / Sweet Sweet / Luna

Nirvana – Nevermind

I revisited this record, recently. What can I say about it that hasn’t already been said? Exactly. So here are 80 words to try to cover it…

It’s where Nirvana rocketed into the stratosphere. Certified Diamond and still selling today. There were four singles, but shoulda been a ton more. Arguably, it’s the record that brought ‘grunge’ and ‘alternative’ kicking and moping into the limelight.

I still prefer the raw blast of Bleach, but it’s pretty damn hard to argue with this one, top to bottom. It is perfectly recorded, perfectly crafted, a one in a million moon shot that exceeded all expectations. Epochal.

Steve Vai – Passion And Warfare

It’s Gratitude Day!

I was recently thrilled to receive a box of Christmas goodies from the incomparable Mike at mikelandano.com (go Follow that blog if you haven’t already! It brings the rawk!). As always, it’s too much…

Here’s a goodie that was in the box…

***

I don’t know from Steve Vai, except that he’s a guitar guy – and reportedly a damn good one. So, I’m gonna listen to this first, and write it up from the gut. Then I’ll go look it up and see what was what. Let’s find out what’s up with this record!

Liberty has that epic, national anthem feel to it. Erotic Nightmares brings the rock/metal and then spacey electronics, and then sound effects like dogs growling and a man screaming, and… whoa. The Animal has a satisfying funky bluesy metal swagger, Answers rips along with a vaguely 80s soundtrack feel to it (but no less impressive), and The Riddle buzzsaws dripping blues at a walking pace, with sexy talking (in French? and moaning for a bit…).

Ballerina 12/24 might seems like a bunch of high pitched noodling, but that’s the music box, baby! Did we need to listen to him breathe? Haha no. For The Love Of God is beautiful, another bluesier track but bringing quicker David Gilmour passages to mind. The Audience Is Listening is a huge rapid-fire rocker a la Van Halen Hot For Teacher. I wish they’d have left the teacher talking out of it and just let the music be enough. It really wrecked the track for me.

I Would Love To carries on the Van Halen sound, holy mackerel. great rocker tune, just ripping away and tearing the roof off. Blue Powder is a gorgeous ballad, smokin’ along while still shredding completely. Great control, and again with the playful bits of experimentation. Greasy Kid’s Stuff blasts right in your face and never relents. It’s a chunky fast rocker and bluesy as hell.

Alien Water Kiss is 1:11 of weirdo shrill space noises and silliness. Necessary? Not really, but hey. At least it’s short! Sisters is gentler, and damn beautiful – as it should be, with a title like that. It’s jazzy, playful, and clearer. I really dug this track, a higlight for me. Love Secrets is a total freakout, going out with a lightning quick blast. All the instruments just go for broke here, and it’s a corker. 3:38 of controlled mayhem! And then it all just crashes to a close. Whoa.

And over top of them all, Vai’s blistering fretwork and pyrotechnics amazes and impresses. I found the talking bits a little weird and dated, but they’re short, and they must be part of the concept of the album, so it hardly matters.

In Sum: 

Wowzers, what a record! I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything quite like it. Like I said, I knew OF the man, but have never gone out of my way to try it out. As expected, the guitar work here is incredible. He makes it sound easy, I know it sure the hell isn’t. And the rest of the band keeps up with him, no problem. This is technical playing and compositional songwriting at its most impressive. I didn’t know I needed this album until it landed here. THANKS HEAPS MIKE!!!!

***

And now for what Wiki says about it:

Passion and Warfare is the second studio album by guitarist Steve Vai, released in September 1990 through Relativity and Epic Records. It has been certified Gold by the RIAA. It was written based on a series of dream sequences that Vai had when he was younger, and in the guitar music book of the album, Vai sums it up as “Jimi Hendrix meets Jesus Christ at a party that Ben Hur threw for Mel Blanc”. It was all recorded in The Mothership studio at his home in the Hollywood Hills, a 1,600-square-foot (150 m2) building in which his guitar parts for Whitesnake’s 1989 album Slip of the Tongue were also recorded. As such, Whitesnake frontman David Coverdale has small spoken parts on Passion and Warfare.

Vai states that planning the album started as early as 1982, but was shelved after joining the David Lee Roth band and not picked up again until parting ways with Roth in 1989. Vai utilized many unusual recording techniques on the album. For what would come to be one of his most popular songs to date, “For the Love of God”, he fasted for ten days and recorded the song on the fourth day of the fast. “Blue Powder” was originally recorded in 1986 as a showcase track for Carvin, using their X-100B amplifier, and given away with Guitar Player magazine in flexi disc format. Vai was introduced to Carvin by his mentor Frank Zappa, who had also used the X-100B. The drums were subsequently re-recorded for the album.

The equipment used to record Passion and Warfare was: Ibanez JEM and Universe guitars; Charvel Green Meanie guitar; Marshall JCM900 and Carvin X-100B amplifiers; ADA MP-1 preamplier; Boss DS-1 distortion pedal; Eventide H3000 harmonizer; Lexicon 480L.

The song “For the Love of God” is available for download for the 2007 video game Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock, and was voted the 29th best solo of all time by a readers’ poll in Guitar World magazine.

In 2016, Vai embarked on the Passion and Warfare 25th Anniversary World Tour, where he played the album in its entirety for the first time.

Whew!

Rage Against The Machine – Renegades

So it’s 2000 and Rage drops a covers album. What. Haha it rocks, and the songs are well selected, so fear not.

Even the cover art is a parody of another artwork, Robert Indiana’s LOVE, replacing LOVE with RAGE. Of course. I’m really sure we stood with the reproduced LOVE sculpture at 6th Ave and 55th St. in New York City…

 

As for the tracks:

Eric B. & Rakim – Microphone Fiend
Volume 10’s – Pistol Grip Pump
MC5 – Kick Out The Jams
Afrika Bambaataa – Renegades Of Funk
Devo – Beautiful World
EPMD – I’m Housin’
Minor Threat – In My Eyes
Cypress Hill – How I Could Just Kill A Man
Bruce Springsteen – The Ghost Of Tom Joad
Stooges – Down On The Street
Rolling Stones – Street Fighting Man
Bob Dylan – Maggie’s Farm

So it’s either rap or punk artists… oh yeah, and Stones, Dylan and Springsteen. Right on. There was a version that bonus tracks, a couple of live versions, if that interests you.

They play the whole damn thing with aplomb, turning each track from whatever it used to be into a Rage song. I used to bitch about how they turned the Stones track into a Prodigy-feel rave-up, but now I don’t mind so much. The Ghost Of Tom Joad was always my fave, here. Anyway, it all hits damn hard, and in the good headphones you’re in for a right pounding! And now that I’ve typed that, I’m pretty sure I didn’t need to. You knew this already.

Carry on. And CRANK IT!

Nine Inch Nails – With Teeth

I have enough NIN to call myself a fan, though I’m by no means obsessive about it. Pretty Hate Machine was brilliant. I understood why The Downward Spiral went huge (and why many want him to remake it over and over – he won’t do it, nor should he), and I loved The Fragile. But I wouldn’t call myself an avid collector and, to be honest, it’s been ages since I even thought of Reznor at all.

So why did I buy this one? It was cheap. And why not, for all that.

And what did I think of it? It’s a natural next step, an extension, but also new enough to be interesting.  We get quiet, beautiful bits. Angry, jagged bits. Electronic techno freakout bits. Angry, self-absorbed, possibly (by now) developmentally arrested lyrics. But it’s all done with so much power, so much pure visceral energy and angst that it remains clear that there is no one else like them at all. Not even close.

It’s also a wee bit unfair to compare this to the other records that came before it, though it does combine elements. PHM’s openness and clarity, with TDS’s oppressive heaviness occasionally evident is definitely built to kill in here. Of course, it’s so much more than that, its own eloquent beast…

For me, it’s the production that’s the saviour. What a clear, punishing and enveloping sound! The frequent piano parts early on sent tingles down my spine, flowing stark beauty in the midst of the madness and chaos. Dave Grohl provided live drums for several tracks. One key, I discovered in my listening, is to have the good headphones on, and crank this sucker! Play it loud! You’ll hear what I mean.

Wiki tells me that this album was influenced by Reznor’s “battle with and recovery from alcoholism and substance abuse.” He had previously been “increasingly addicted to alcohol and drugs, resulting in erratic behaviour, depression, and writer’s block.” That would explain the six years between this and The Fragile (with a remix album and a live album in there, too). He apparently also drew inspiration from the September 11, 2001 attacks on Washington and New York. I can hear him telling us about his struggles in the lyrics, in songs like Every Day Is Exactly The Same, and several others. He’s looking for his place, his strengths. I think he found them, and it shows in this effort.

In Sum:

I went in expecting just another NIN record, and came away impressed by the scale and scope of the project, by the perfect sound production, and by the healing and clarity of the experience. It was worth the wait.

 

A Sunday Bloody Sunday Pondering, And An IOU Series Post Too

This Sunday Pondering post is part of my IOU Series. A 2-fer, you lucky kids.

Before you get started, go get a coffee or three. This could take a while…

You see, way back when, I’d mentioned to Deke that I had strong opinions about U2, and he said he’d love to hear it. Of course, I never wrote it, even when it came back up in comments here and there over time. 

So Deke, here’s my IOU post about U2. It’s also a Sunday Pondering, because I have fully pondered my (long but older) relationship to the band for this post, and discovered… well, read on…

***

Once And For All: Aaron Takes On U2 – A Pondering, With A Wee Bit Of Rant

Born in 1974, I am a child of the late 70s and early 80s. U2 formed only two years later, in 1976. Up until 1984 (when I was 10), I didn’t even own my own music. By then, they’d released four studio albums, an EP and a live album.

As a wee kid, I heard whatever everyone else played. I can’t say I was a fan early on, as they weren’t on the radar of anyone in my immediate vicinity. My sister didn’t play their records (she was into Wham! and Billy Joel), nor did any of my friends (they liked Bryan Adams, Gowan, Mr. Mister, Glass Tiger, Platinum Blonde – as did I, and I still do). I did hear the radio, so I probably heard early singles like I Will Follow, New Years Day or Pride (In The Name Of Love) on there, though my parents usually had the radio on the local country station because it gave the best weather reports.

I remember one girl in my school, we must’ve been in grade 4 (9 years old or so), who went to see U2 in concert in Toronto, and came back with the t-shirt. From our perspective in our small country community, it was as though she’d gone to another world and back.

Somewhere in there, though, we got memberships to the Columbia House tape club, and I got several U2 albums that way. I had Boy, and the Unforgettable Fire, and War. Close to all the early stuff, anyway. I really enjoyed it, loved the energy and how the songs told stories instead of just always blathering about love. The music worked on a level for me too, simple but not simple, and tied perfectly to the messages. Of course, I’m writing it like this now – back then, I’d have just said I really liked this or that tape. But suffice it to say that I was enough of a fan of those early tapes that they were definitely on my radar for the next bit…

It’s worth noting here, before we go on, that at this point, U2 was already a huge band. It’s not like they were toiling away in clubs in 1986. But when the next record arrived, they blasted into a different level…

In 1987 (I was 13), my team went to Goderich to play in a weekend hockey tournament. We had some time to kill and were down in the square, and I’ll never forget I picked up a copy of Joshua Tree from a rack of new tapes and said “I didn’t know they had a new record out!” and, after I pawed it for awhile, my Dad got it for me! A shock – not something that happened every day. Remember, we didn’t have internet then, and in my very small town (of 300 people) we didn’t get a lot of notice about this stuff. Hell, we only had three TV channels and you had to get off the couch to change them. We didn’t get cable ’til I was 15 years old, and by then I was a lost cause for being hooked on TV. We spent a lot of time playing hockey outside, or off doing other things. I also read a lot of books (for which I am grateful to this day).

Joshua Tree blew me away. The three big singles right off the top, of course, are what they are. But I was the kind of kid who played tapes all the way through, side A and side B. I rarely rewound a song or a side. I just let the whole thing play. So I heard the whole of every record I owned, and if I had to shut it off before it was done, next time I came back to it I just pressed play and let it pick up where it got stopped. The short-attention span kids of today would do well to have more connection to longer relationships with albums like that. Said the aging guy whom they’d think was a dinosaur. Anyway, for me the real meat of the album is found after those big three tracks. The longer it goes, the better it gets.

Not long after, they dropped Rattle And Hum, a year later, in 1988. Combined with Joshua Tree, I will maintain to this day that this was their high water mark. You can talk ’til you’re blue in the face but to me they never did better than those two, and to have one right after the other… damn. Rattle And Hum became my Sunday church music, the place I went when I needed a lift, so good for the soul, and even now as I am typing this I am playing it from top to bottom and it’s damn near unimpeachable. I played my first copy of that tape so often that I wore it out, the first and only tape I ever owned that I played so much I had to replace it.

Of course, all along in here, I’d been listening to all sorts of different music, a lot of the CanCon pop and AOR rock of the day, but also jazz and swing was always a staple for me. By the time I got to high school, I was into jazz, mostly. The shop kids were sporting Metallica t-shirts and I was talking about the new Harry Connick, Jr. album. I still played U2, though, especially those last two records.

When they dropped Achtung Baby in 1991 (I was 17), I snapped it up, ready for the next dose of U2 like I’d been absorbing in recent years. And it… well, I liked it… but I realize now, in retrospect, that I was liking it because I was wanting to like it… more than I actually liked it. It’s not a bad record, but it was a shift, and not what I was expecting or wanting. I know full well that bands have to grow, change, become. Usually, I’m along for the ride and it’s cool. But Achtung Baby, I don’t know, if I were honest as my 17 year old self, and could have verbalized it at the time, I’d say something about it left me cold. I liked some of the songs, still do, but it wasn’t a complete record for me, not like the others. It was the first time I only liked certain songs, not its entirety.

So I played Achtung Baby enough that I know it by heart, but it wouldn’t be a favourite in a list. Oh no, I’m about to be that guy who says “I only liked them in the early days, all the new stuff is shit!” Haha except that Achtung came out 26 years ago and I didn’t think it was shit. I just didn’t connect with it in the same way.

And by now it’s worth noting that they were at a level of fame that few acts reach. One could even argue that, after this point, it wasn’t even really about the songs anymore, it was about the spectacle. Somewhere along the way they lost their youthful energy and idealism, and now it’s like they have to make themselves write something vital instead of just doing it.

When Zooropa dropped two years later (in 1993), I was off the bus. I didn’t like the singles, and the songs weren’t the U2 I knew. Pop (in 1997) was worse. I’d stopped buying their records. And to be honest, I haven’t bought one since Acthung Baby. I retreated, as the band only grew larger and more popular. And good on them, I say. And fair play to all those who went along with them in those new directions and actually liked those records.

I would wager, though, that people who go see U2 in concert today aren’t really going just to hear songs off All That You Can’t Leave Behind, or How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb (WTF title). And not from No Line On The Horizon or Songs Of Innocence either (and I haven’t looked but I assume they’re cribbing from William Blake on that title). See, there’s me having read William Blake but not heard the newest U2 record. Go figure. I still hear the singles, but I never click with any of it.

Anyway, I’ll bet folks are wanting the old stuff, the hits from 30 years ago when they pay waaaay too much to go down to the U2 show, these days. And fair play, it’s what we’ve heard, and what radio has blasted us with the most. Maybe the newer songs will become classics in their own right, years from now.

***

Now. Set aside the albums, because there’s another angle to this story. Bono.

But before I get into him, I should note that I don’t hear too much about the rest of the band. They seem to have been smart enough to mostly keep it about the music (and enjoying their celebrity, I suppose, Clayton even married a model), but leave the rest to their singer. That’s just my impression, as a guy who doesn’t follow them anymore. Who knows, maybe the other three are just as bad.

Bono has always been a bombastic twat, and for a lot of years it worked for him. That larger-than-life persona helped propel the band to even greater heights, a consumate showman in most ways. Trouble is, somewhere along the history of everyone blowing smoke up his ass, he started to believe the hype and his own mythology and began speaking out on political issues outside of the albums and the stage. Unless you’re Woody Guthrie, Billy Bragg or Rage Against The Machine and politics in music is your wheelhouse, I generally tend to think a song or two about an issue you find important is great, and U2 were always a political (and religious) band that had things to say and that was fine.

But you’re a musician, not a politician… Not Bono, though, nope. He jumped over to a new realm, became a guy pushing for policy, telling the world (and world leaders) how he thinks things ought to be. Sad thing is, he actually gets meetings with decision-makers, and fair play if it’s just a photo op for them, but if they are actually listening, he has jumped the shark and needs to choose where he wants to be. At some point, it became less about the music and more about his grandstanding, and I’d argue the albums and the music has suffered for it. You could probably even chart a corresponding deterioration and decline in quality of the music to right around when he started speaking out more outside the music, if you cared to look it up. I sure don’t.

Yeah, here we’ve got a guy with more money than G-d going around telling the world how they ought to do things, dropping in on some impoverished place, trying not to get any on him, and then jetting back to one of his palatial residences in his private jet or helicopter. I dunno, I wouldn’t go across the street to talk to the guy, myself, these days. Fair play to those who think he has some valid place in international affairs.

And hey, for all I know, he may be quietly donating scads of money to worthy causes and not publicising that. That would be great. I just wish, if that were the case, that he’d leave it at that. Is it impossible to do good things and just quietly go about your business? The grandstanding is obnoxious, and absolutely detracts from any good he may be doing. Again, he’s been so hugely famous for so long, he’s likely so disconnected from our reality that he sincerely does not know how to be normal anymore.

In Sum:

I used to love U2, but I stopped caring about their new music over 25 years ago, because they stopped being the vital entitity they were, choosing fame over quality. I haven’t liked what I’ve heard in a loooong time. Shit happens, and we’ll always have those first twenty years of their career.

If you’re a U2 fan and reading this, yelling at your screen that I’m wrong and can’t wait to get into the comments section to flame me, calm down, there, Zippy. Go write your own blog about how you love their later work better and how Bono is your messiah. Just don’t link me to it.

The Shrine – Bless Off

This week has been busy with the Ontario Bands series. Thanks for letting me participate, guys! Today, as it’s gonna be a busy Family Day weekend (hooray for long weekends woo!), here’s an 80-word blast of pure fuckin’ rawk. Give ‘er!

1537 heartily recommends these guys. Surfing around one day, I found this for under $5 on Amazon and boom, here it is. What a blast! Unrelenting full-on fucking rock and roll at its most energetic metal punk best.

Glorious heart-pounding head-banging magnificence, riffage for miles, bass that rumbles your naughty bits in a very, very good way… Oh baby. Well-crafted songs built to destroy.

This makes you want to drive fast and break things!

GO!

Ontario Bands Series: Bunchofuckingoofs – Barrage Of Battery And Brutality

Get yerself a healthy eyeful of this glorious series logo made by the illustrious Mike @ mikeladano.com! Don’t you just love it!

Get yerself a healthy eyeful of this glorious series logo made by the illustrious Mike @ mikeladano.com! Don’t you just love it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TORONTO

I bought this in a CD shoppe at Circle and 8th in Saskatoon, the name of which I can’t remember and I’m sure is long gone. It was tucked back in from the road, almost behind another building, attached to a bad breakfast-type restaurant… They had another location downtown, their signs were black and yellow… James?

Anyway, the guy working that day was (and likely still is) pretty gay, and he was kinda hitting on me, which is flattering even though my wife might be proof I wouldn’t be reciprocating. But I remember clearly that he looked at the CD I brought to the counter and said “oh dear.” Haha. Awkward!

Bunchofuckingoofs were a Kensington Market fixture in the 80s, leaders of a scene that spawned several punk bands and ruined the hearing of many. This compilation disc (covering tracks recorded from 1984-1995) is in your face, angry shouting punk awesomeness. They have plenty to say, and they sure don’t pull any punches.

My favourite track has always been Get A Bike Asshole, ranting about bikes being better than cars. It reminds me of a friend, Luc, back when we lived in Montreal. He said “when I am in my car, I hate bikes! But when I am on my bike, I hate cars!” Haha.

Anyway, I’m rambling and not telling you about this CD. Honestly, in a way, this is pretty terrible – the production is muddy and all over the map (given different years), the vocals are brutal, and the songs sound kind of amateurish, like a garage band your brother thrashes with so he can work out his angst. BUT THAT’S WHY I LOVE IT SO! This sort of stuff pleases me to no end, and I love it completely. Perhaps the track titles tell the story:

Trust Me
Bad Dream In Toronto
Get A Bike Asshole
Bleeding Dead Cowards
Knock Em Down
It’s Your Problem
Alcoholiday Turned Alcoholacaust
Crack Attack
Fucking Right You’re Sick
Little Brother Watches Back
Fascist Statement
Have U Ever Seen
Total Breakdown
– and buried at track 69, it’s Oh Canaduh.

In Sum:

You’d have to be into drunken Canadian hardcore punk to want a copy of this for yourself, but me, I love it. I still play it every so often, and my run-through for this post was like visiting a long-time friend. A very drunk, very angry, slightly off-kilter, but never boring long-time friend.

 

***

If you want to know about them in detail, Wiki’s got ya covered:

Bunchofuckingoofs, or the BFGs, are an infamous Canadian hardcore punk band from Kensington Market in Toronto, Ontario who formed in November 1983 as a response to “a local war with glue huffing Nazi skinheads.”

They ran a 24 hour a day, seven day a week boozecan for five years from July 1983 to July 1988 at their Baldwin Street address known on the street as “Fort Goof”. Their “live like there is no tomorrow, end of the world by nuclear war” attitude and lifestyle was documented in Ruth Taylor and Edward Mowbray’s Victory Video Arts Presentation’s “Not Dead Yet” in 1984.

For another three and half years they continued their antics at the 26A Oxford Street warehouse (Goof World) until May 5, 1991. Spawned from this local scene were the bands 4½ Reasons For Retroactive Abortion, Brutally Honest, Ded Fuck, No Identity (No I.D.), Blasphamy, Nunoyerfuckinbiziness (N.F.B.), Armed and Hammered, B. Bob’s Banned, Verboten, PolitiKILL inCOREct and the singer of the present line-up for Random Killing. The band has a notorious reputation for their excessive beer drinking, anti social outbursts and violent behaviour on and off stage as well as their followers. They were label mates with the Dayglo Abortions on God Records and Fringe Product.

Buns Are All That You Require

Naughty Stories and Mature Content

Little Bits of Gaming & Movies

Remembering the games & movies I grew up with and much more.

Blog All Night

Rhyme All Night

Stuff and That.

We do reviews, ya dig?

stoneygate

chilled out music

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

Resurrection Songs

music makes the people come together. yeah.

The Audible Stew

Salt to Taste

KingcrimsonBlog - The official Blog of Kingcrimsonprog

A Metal Nerd's Blog... Well, What did you expect, porn?

1537

Vinylicious

Crash And Ride Music

The latest album reviews, concert reviews, and interviews of progressive and alternative rock and metal.

timeweleftthisworldtoday

This world's so mixed up everywhere you go

HEAVY METAL OVERLOAD

... and classic rock too!

Metal Odyssey > Heavy Metal Music Blog

Welcome to Metal Odyssey, it will be quite the Metal trip!

This is the story of the overly ambitious eagle...

...who evidently found a deer head in the landfill.

Reviews and Stories | The Ü

Jade's film/book reviews and short stories.

Songs on a Theme

pop, jazz, & other by subject

Living a Beautiful Life

~ Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes ~

jhubner73

Midwestern groaning since 2011

vinnieh

Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind

mixolydianblog

music is life, music is breath, music is us

A (Mostly) Music Blog

Yours truly, Soundhippy

Boppin's Blog

Albums, concerts, reviews, audio gear, how to's

Tangled Up In Music

Music Reviews

Music Insanity!

The ramblings of a self-confessed music addict.

Mike Slayen ~Musician

Guitar for Weddings, Events, Lessons ...Sharing the Love of Music!

LP on 45

Celebrating how rock music sends us, saves us, and shows us our true selves—one single at a time

Free City Sounds

Album Reviews by Marshall Gu

80smetalman's Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

mikeladano.com

LeBrain's Record Store Tales & Reviews

Every record tells a story

A Blog About Music, Vinyl, More Music and (Sometimes) Music...

KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

CD & Festival reviews

by Jon Wilmenius

the EARL of SWIRL

"to be average scares the hell out of me"

1001albumsin10years

Just another WordPress.com site

Stick It In Your Ear

Rock Album, Concert Reviews And The Odd Book Review

Caught Me Gaming

Confessions of a Casual Core Gamer

%d bloggers like this: