Coleman Hawkins – April In Paris

Coleman Hawkins is amazing. Everything he did seemed so easy, so fluid, so melodic and tuneful that your ear would follow him anywhere. If someone were to ask me what I would consider to be beautiful music, I would point them in the direction of this collection as a great example.

Spanning recordings made between 1939-1956, this collection of 10 tracks made me wish it was a collection 1000 tracks. I particularly loved the earlier stuff. There’s a sound, a swing to the whole affair that just can’t fail to make me incredibly happy when I hear it. Big band music has the same effect on me – I grew up on this sound, and it always fills me with joy. But then again, I love the stuff on here that’s from a decade later too, with the strings… oh hell, the whole thing is amazing!

The list of players with him in these sessions is boggling. To name a few: Benny Carter, J.J. Johnson, Fats Navarro, Hank Jones, Max Roach, Zoot Sims, and so many more… GLORY.

Here are the tracks (with years, for your edification):

Body And Soul (1939)
When The Day Is Done (1940)
Bouncing With Bean (1940)
April In Paris (1947)
Angel Face (1947)
I Love You (1947)
There Will Never Be Another You (1956)
Little Girl Blue (1956)
The Bean Stalks Again (1956)
Have You Met Miss Jones? (1956)

In Sum: 

Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.

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Why AC/DC Matters

I think it’s quaint that this book got published. Not to disparage it in anyway, because I am always (always) happy to read about AC/DC. What I meant was that it pretty much didn’t need to be written. Let’s be real here: We all already instinctively know that AC/DC matters. It’s primal. Visceral. It just IS, and thank goodness for that.

What Anthony Bozza’s book is, then, is basically a mini-biography of the band and its members, interspersed with a collection of all the ways he could think of to use and twist the English language into new ways to effuse about the band.

So, when Bozza tells us about how the band started and who the members are, and the band’s story, etc, we say: we already knew this stuff. And when he enthusiastically raves about every aspect of the band and their playing and their magic, soul and consistency, and how they play for the fans not for the money (haha erm, sure), we say: WE KNOW.

Fair play, it’s still a cool book. But it’s preaching to the choir, baby. Now turn it the hell up and get some AC/DC in yer ears! \m/ \m/

Joy Division – Permanent

This review may potentially meet with disagreement from fans, as the internet seems full of people who swear these guys are great. So I’ll say off the top that I give all deference to your tastes, and fair play to you. This is just my experience, posted on my (and James’) site. Thanks for reading.

I just never understood the appeal of this band, for myself. I mean, I get why other folks liked it – it was a fine enough example of 80s post-punk. And some people like it because the singer, Ian Curtis, was a bit of a poet of “desolation, emptiness, and alienation.” (Wiki) Even his 1980 death by suicide (he suffered from both epilepsy and depression) seems to have added a sheen to the myth and legend of the band for some people, which I find morbid and weird.

With me, though, it never really caught on. Not at the time, and not now in 2018, either. I dunno, it just isn’t my brand of sound. So why did I even bother to buy this compilation? Because I feel as though I ought to like it, somehow, and not just because many other people seem to. It has an edge to it that makes his odd vocals and the content of his lyrics a fascinating subject of study, when (potentially) seen in a different light. So I gave it a whirl. And… nope, it just doesn’t click. Not something I would choose to play often, anyway.

Love Will Tear us Apart is the most recognizeable, of course, and there are two versions here. It has actually taken me several days to get all the way through this CD, because I could only do two or three tracks at a time, and I needed to play other things in between to balance it all out. That says something right there, too, honestly.

Maybe I oughta add Joy Division to my Every Five Years project with My Bloody Valentine. I try them out, try to ‘get it,’ then wait five years before trying again. Might do, we’ll see.

Anyway, this compilation contains the following:

1 Love Will Tear Us Apart (Pennine version)^
2 Transmission
3 She’s Lost Control
4 Shadowplay
5 Day of the Lords
6 Isolation
7 Passover
8 Heart and Soul
9 Twenty Four Hours
10 These Days
11 Novelty
12 Dead Souls
13 The Only Mistake
14 Something Must Break
15 Atmosphere
16 Love Will Tear Us Apart (Permanent Mix)

^ Not listed as being alternate version at all

Tracks 1 and 10 first released on the Love Will Tear Us Apart single in 1980.
Tracks 2 and 11 first released on the Transmission single in 1979.
Tracks 3 to 5 first released on the Unknown Pleasures album in 1979.
Tracks 6 to 9 first released on the Closer album in 1980.
Track 12 and 15 first released on the Licht und Blindheit single in 1980.
Tracks 13 and 14 first released on the Still album in 1981.
Track 16 previously unreleased.

It’s One Of Those RIP Kind Of Days

Yesterday, a co-worker left in a hurry as family had been called asap to be with their mother in hospice after over a year’s fight with cancer.

Also yesterday, we got news that Dolores O-Riordan (Cranberries, solo) passed away during a recording session in London. She was only 46.

And, of course, a few days ago, we lost the last remaining original Motörhead member when Fast Eddie Clarke died of pneumonia.

And so it goes.

Ministry – ΚΕΦΑΛΗΞΘ, or Psalm 69: The Way To Succeed And The Way To Suck Eggs

Whoa, this one takes me back. There were two guys in my class in high school who were waaay into this album. To any younger readers out there, yes, I am old, I was in high school in 1992. Anyway. I didn’t listen to this stuff a whole lot at the time (I was into jazz), but over time I have discovered that techno-metal smash-up derby albums like this are actually quite fun, when the mood strikes… I even saw Ministry live one time, I’ll get to that, stay with me… First, the songs:

N.W.O. has a hypnotic driving pulse that ought to be annoying but is certainly not so, particularly at high volume. I can hear where Trent Reznor might get his rocks off, listening to this track, and if this is how the New World Order will sound, I am OK with it – turn it up, overlords! Next is Just One Fix, which shoves raunchy guitars to the fore and tries to crush your skull with its pounding and distorted vocals, all while its opening statement reminds us to never trust a junkie. Glory!

TVII was an oft-quoted bit, back in school. “Connect the goddamn dots!!” But oh man the BPMs here are certifiably insane. What a total rush! Whooaa! Hero keeps the pace racing in a fantastic Motörhead homage. It’s metal, punk and crazy all wrapped up in an explosive and brilliant track.

Jesus Built My Hotrod features Gibby Haynes (Butthole Surfers, etc) on lead vocals. It’s another relentless psycho tech-metal blow-out, guaranteed to strip paint and set you to destroying the living room as you crash around to its energy. Scare Crow is the first track to cut the blistering tempos to half, even a quarter speed. It plods along menacingly with a searing metal guitar assault and sounds like what every bad guy in every movie ever wished had been their intro scene soundtrack track. It’s Sabbath done Ministry-style.

Psalm 69 takes that metal plod from Scare Crow and carries it into its first half, but then things take off and it’s a swinging stomping metal basher that vascillates between the two feels over its length. Two songs in one, and I like them both! Crank it! Corrosion is exactly that, a swirling metal mindfuck that probably got played at that rave scene in the Matrix. You know the one – “hey all the metal robots are coming to kill us, but tonight let’s party instead of trying to get the fuck out of here!” Yeah, that one. And finally, Grace is three minutes of pure noise and distorted talking voices, and epigraph for your mind, a come down from the driving and relentless energy of all that has come before, a ngoodnight kiss as you drift back into the nightmare of reality.

In Sum: 

Add in all of the hilarious, quasi-religious and weird spoken bits at the start of tracks (and within tracks), and you have a stellar record of metal, punk and electronic mayhem that has an esthetic all its own. This is fully-realized and controlled chaos, a statement of intent and philosphy. It’s also bent on crushing your skull as it drives over you at 100 mph. Fun!

***

So yeah, one time in Saskatoon we went to see Ministry in concert in 2004. Our friend Michael was bent on going, so my lovely wife and I went along. Opening the gig was My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult. I don’t remember a single song they played, but I know they were loud and, well, writhing. That’s my memory of it, well, that and the fact that the lead singer was wearing these tight black leather pants and jacket (and no shirt beneath) and he kept teasing the crowd that’d he’d strip it off until he eventually did this gross strip tease as he removed the jacket… despite, may I add, all my yelling at him to please not do so. Yeah. And Ministry, in full regalia, was super-loud and punishing, but actually a lot of fun too. I liked Al’s mic stand, covered as it was in skulls and detritus and whatever else.

Below is Ministry’s setlist from that gig. I also remember an encore that included their cover of Black Sabbath’s Supernaut, so I don’t think setlist.fm has the complete info. Anyway, I’ll take their word for it that this is otherwise accurate…

Setlist for Ministry, Prairieland Park, Saskatoon, SK
2004-10-03

No W
Waiting
Worthless
Wrong
Warp City
WTV
World
N.W.O.
Just One Fix
Deity
Hero
Thieves
Psalm 69

Ultimate Oscar Peterson

This Verve series is fun – each disc is an ‘Ultimate’ set of an artist’s songs, as chosen by another famous jazz musician. For example, the Clifford Brown set was selected by Nicholas Payton (yes!), Billie Holiday was chosen by Shirley Horn (yes!), Lester Young was selected by Wayne Shorter (yes!), etc. Amazing, I love it.

This Oscar Peterson set features songs chosen by bassist Ray Brown. I know! Brown, who played in trios with Peterson for 14 years, said, “Oscar had a power, he could play soft… and he could swing. He has that great command of the piano.” No kidding, brother!

There’s no arguing with Peterson’s talent. He was so strong and spectacular that the listener has the ease of just sitting back and marvelling as the songs wash over and infuse themselves into your brain. And of course, the track selection is perfect:

Sometimes I’m Happy / Love You Madly / In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning / Reunion Blues / Waltz For Debby / Blues For Big Scotia / Jet Song / Noreen’s Nocturne / Mumbles / Chicago

Bliss. I cannot stop playing this disc. So much gorgeousness, so much taste, incredible playing…

I’ll just leave track one here to lift your soul and leave you wanting more:

 

Another Other Woman (Again)

The other day, I teased that I was expecting delivery of something awesome here at the KMA Eastern offices. Joy of joys, it arrived today!

So. Y’all know my lovely wife calls my guitars and amps The Other Women. But she’s laughing when she says it, and adds that at least she knows where I am when I’m with them. I do love her so!

In older posts, I introduced you to my acoustic guitar, my Epiphone Les Paul, and (most recently acquired), my Squier CV Telecaster. Also, the Pignose and Fender G-DEC amps. I have played along happily with all of this gear for years… except for the Tele, everything is at least a decade in use around here!

***

And so herein lies a tale I like to call: Another New Other Woman (or, technically: my other other other other other other woman)…

As happens to us all (surely), I’ve spent quite some time over the past year watching guitar gear reviews and demonstration videos on the Tubes Of You. I seemed to be focussing on amps, though, which is odd because I love my G-DEC and Pignose. The only thing I knew would send me over the moon would be a tube (valve) amp, but those are pricey so it wasn’t gonna happen.

Then, back in July (for my birthday), I received an Amazon gift card as a prezzie. Sweet! I spent that thing a million times without actually clicking Submit Order – it was fun just window shopping. So naturally I combined my guitar gear video-watching with some Amazon price-checking…

Yeah OK, I looked at a ton of amps, varying wattages, capabilities. I compared them all and watched a ton more videos. A plan seemed to be forming… I looked at Fender, Marshall, Vox, Yamaha, Bugera, Orange, Blackstar and Boss/Roland, among others, and many models within each brand. There is so much awesomeness out there!

Finally, I narrowed things down to three (maybe four) amps I really liked, and kept them in mind for someday. Then, after Christmas, one of my two that topped the list was listed at a price I liked, and I jumped on it. It arrived today from a secondary seller in Quebec, and in perfect shape.

KMA Readers, I give you a (brief) KMA Exclusive Unboxing Of My New Boss Katana KTN-50, The Photo Essay Edition!

 

The only thing it doesn’t have, which is odd for a digital emulating amp, is a built-in tuner. Seriously, Boss? My 15w G-DEC has one! Most others do too. Weird. Ah well!

But it can use the Roland foot controller pedal, hooks up to the computer for 50 more effects through USB, though it already has every effect I’ll need for ages already built in:

Booster: blues drive/overdrive/distortion, and Mod: chorus/flanger/phaser
Delay: digital/analog/tape echo, and FX: tremolo/t. wah/octave
Reverb: plate/spring/hall

And all are easily adjustable (with the twist of a knob) to achieve exactly the amount of effect you need, singularly or in concert. Such a slick set-up, really. Kudos to the designers.

There are 5 main sound settings: clean, crunch, lead, brown sound (that 5150 howl!), and an acoustic guitar setting built in. Sadly, my acoustic doesn’t have a pick-up in it so I can’t try that out. Alas.

It also has a power attenuator, so it can be the full 50w, 25w, or 0.5w for late-night practice. The best bit about that is, there’s no tone or sound quality loss while attenuated, even at 0.5w! Glorious!

***

They do make three other models in this series: the 7w Katana Mini (which gets rave reviews as a take-anywhere practice amp), a 100w 1×12, and a 100w 2×12 model. I eyed the wee 7w, for the sheer portability of it (and the price), but in my heart I wanted more. The 100w 1×12 and 2×12 are too big for home use, at least for me. And I’m not gigging with it, just playing at home. So the 50w was perfect.

And that is my new Boss Katana 50w amp. It is SO GOOD! It is a thing of beauty. I love it unreservedly. I played with it about an hour already and never got off the clean tone – I was trying out all the settings! The sound is spectacular, honestly. This thing will provide so many hours of great tones and fun – the mind boggles.

Plus, I can now use my time playing through this tone monster instead of watching videos of amps! Here’s to many (many) years of beauty with Another New Other Woman!

***

Bonus: 

Rather than trying to film my hacking away at it, here’s a professional (and really excellent) demo that really captures the tones and capabilities of this beast. Watch the whole thing – I did! Several times! 🙂

Glass Tiger – Thin Red Line

This isn’t a review, though I will get to this classic from my childhood eventually.

Instead of putting in the work (haha), today we went skating with the kids (they’re really improving!) and had post-skating hot chocolate. Good times!

So, this is just an appreciation post for a cool copy of this LP, which I recently found. Call it Eye Candy Sunday…

You see, the copy I found has a clear LP! Sweet.

 

Huey Lewis & The News – Four Chords & Several Years Ago

I grew up listening to Huey Lewis, especially the Sports, Fore!, and Small World albums, and of course we all loved his cameo (and tune) in Back To The Future. Pure classic 80s pop rock, a huge chunk of my childhood, and so many huge hit songs. My goodness. And you know, to this day I still do love their stuff. Not just for nostalgia, but because the tunes truly do stand the test of time.

This 1994 effort for the band is a collection of nostalgia for them, all old 50s and 60s R&B cover tunes that were influential for the band members. In the hands of this ace unit of players, this album is friggin’ amazing.

The song selection is perfect, aimed to perfectly fit Huey’s one-of-a-kind voice, and the band nails the feel of every single song. If you know Huey’s voice, this track list oughta prove it:

Shake Rattle And Roll / Blue Monday / Searching For My Love / (She’s) Some Kind Of Wonderful / But It’s Alright / If You Gotta Make A Fool Of Somebody / Mother In Law / Little Bitty Pretty One / Good Morning Little School Girl / Stagger Lee / She Shot A Hole In My Soul / Surely I Love You / You Left The Water Running / Your Cash Ain’t Nothin’ But Trash / Function At The Junction / Better To Have And Not Need / Going Down Slow

See? Honestly, this sounds like the band was just having so much fun, like (maybe) they were finally getting to make the record they always wanted to make. This is a truly soulful album, and the joy really comes through in the music. Fun times!

Tangerine Dream – From Dawn ‘Til Dusk: 1973-1988

This is the first Tangerine Dream effort I’ve ever owned. I bought it purely because I’d read Bruce talking about them before. Let’s give ‘er!

Tangerine Dream has released over 100 albums since 1967, which is boggling. They seem to be widely regarded as one of the preeminent pioneering acts in electronic music, that’s for sure.

Covering the years 1973-1988, this 1991 compilation is a snapshot of their experimental electronic/rock/pop music from that earlier period. Dave Simpson’s liner notes just about cover it:

The band’s music has always sought to capture and evoke the technicolour dream-state, to prompt a condition where the music becomes the trigger for some kind of mental wandering. To hear Tangerine Dream at their best is to experience the full power of technology as a sense-surrounding aural force, where the sound becomes a kind of all-enveloping black hole, a canvas for all thoughts and projections; a screen, ready for illumination.

and then as the liner notes end…

…Tangerine Dream remain an enigma. Ridiculed by some for their general intransigence, the same consistency has seen them survive changing fashons, fluctuating line-ups and occasional stagnation; not to mention the ravages of time and deafening PAs. In 1991, as ever, Tangerine Dream are still the hitch-hiker’s guide to an infinite galaxy. A journey into space for the price of an LP.

Precisely. Through the good headphones, this was exactly as described above: an expedition into the senses and the mind that seems gentle and yet capable of rocking well too, all of which becomes soothing and expanding as it unfolds. There’s an open quality to it all, and the whole is one of lifting, rejoicing, celebrating, and empowering beauty.

I don’t know a whole lot about this band, or even if this is a good compilation to get or a good period to start with, from them, but I do know now that I enjoyed this disc and would be open to suggestions for hearing more by this band!

The Best Of The Peter Green Splinter Group

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do I need to tell you this rules? Probably not.

Sweet, sweet blues, across a span of 15 tracks on CD1 ,and 5 tracks on CD2. This compilation pulls tracks from Destiny Road, Hot Foot Powder, Robert Johnson Songbook, In Soho Live At Ronnis Scott’s, and Peter Green Splinter Group. As representative of all the styles of blues they play, this set will blow your mind.

It’s all here – great tunes with that clear cool feel, glorious control, vocals that are a little Clapton-like at points, and (actually) understated beauty. The production here is pristine, and through the good headphones it’s unbelievable. Best of all is that true guitar tone that resonates for days.

Of course, the early Fleetwood Mac is awesome, we all know that. And this Splinter Group stuff is just as good. Oh baby.

 

Motörhead – Under Cöver

Can I just say off the top that I am thrilled my first post of 2018 is a Motörhead effort? It just feels right!

I got this disc for Christmas and hell, any Motörhead is a great gift indeed! That said, this was an interesting listen…

Breaking The Law (Judas Priest) and God Save The Queen (Sex Pistols) were what you’d expect, fairly straight-on renditions. Good, but except for Lemmy’s vocals there’s not a lot to distinguish them from the originals. Their cover of Heroes is a highlight only because you kind of forget you’re listening to Motörhead while it plays. Weird to hear them hew so close to Bowie…

Starstruck (Rainbow) kicks the tempo up and rips well. Cat Scratch Fever does a decent job, playing it pretty straight. Then it’s two Stones tracks – Jumpin’ Jack Flash rocks hard, I liked it. Lemmy’s rasp adds some cool menace to Sympathy For The Devil. You know, I don’t tend to like covers of the Stones (just listen to the originals, seriously) but these two were bloody damn good. Especially when the guitar rips a solo in SFTD. Twice! Whoa.

Next is Ozzy’s Hellraiser (I forgot that Lemmy wrote this one for Ozzy). It’s pretty close to the No More Tears version, but my ear kept wanting Ozzy’s vocals. Lemmy sounds odd here, especially in the chorus – still cool, mind you, and the band’s smokin’ on this one wow. Next is the Ramones’ Rockaway Beach, and here’s a track with some real energy, finally! Go go go! Yeahhhhhhhhh!!!!!!

Twisted Sister’s Shoot ‘Em Down is a nice addition and they play the hell out of it. Great track. And finally it’s Metallica’s Whiplash. Whooaaa goddamn they really blast this one! Best track here! YES! Go go go! Smash! (Seek And) Destroy! Rarrrgh!!!!!!

In Sum:

Especially early on, some tracks just felt like they were playing it safe or something. I dunno. Maybe more listens will prove I’m wrong as I write this up tonight and I’ll love this disc as I know I should! The album seems to pick up steam as it goes, all the energy buried in the second half… They might have been better to reverse the track order of the CD!

I did find that Lemmy’s vocals were sometimes buried in the mix, and he’s hard enough to understand as it is! But there’s no knocking any of the playing, in fact most of the time it’s amazing work. And I gotta hand it to them, this is a stellar selection of tunes to cover!

Aaron’s Best Of 2017

Since starting the blog (and this year-ending post series) in 2006, I have always chosen one favourite album of the year, then listed the rest in no particular order. In all of those years, it’s never an easy task – I love all the records! This makes sense, because I tend to only buy things I know I will like…

This year is no different, except that I haven’t played most of these 2017 albums enough to even review them yet! Some of this is because they need more spins, some is that I was simply listened and didn’t write them up as I went, and some I just plain forgot I should be writing…

As you’ll see below, only a few current releases on my list have been reviewed in these pages to date, as marked by a ^. Still, I have played all of these records in the list, but not written a lot of them up, so maybe perspective is a wee bit lost in it all, this year. Also, the majority of my buying this year has been of older releases, mostly used CDs, a few re-issue LPs of old jazz stuff…

No matter. I strive to provide, here at the KMA, and I cannot break tradition now. So let’s give ‘er!

AARON’S BEST OF 2017:

Once again it was a tough (very tough) choice. So much good music, even with the (relatively) few I actually got to hear. Some are sad because the artists have passed in the last year or two (Gord Downie, David Bowie, Chris Cornell on the Singles OMPS), some are awesome because they involve my hero Robert Pollard (GBV, Circus Devils), one was not really in my wheelhouse (Kendrick Lamar), and many of them rock really hard… and all were truly excellent releases. Of course I’m going to say that – I wouldn’t have gotten them if I didn’t want to hear them! And so I wanted to make them all my Best Of 2017… But a winner I must pick, and so congratulations for Aaron’s Best Of 2017 goes to:

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (deluxe edition)^

Not only is this a stellar live set, it is also a time capsule for all of us who were fortunate to have seen the band in concert on this epic tour. This is a band so far into the game, and still playing on all cylinders and totally owning it night after night. It’s also another cool deluxe packaging triumph (like the Book Of Souls was), thus proving this band pretty much can do no wrong at this point.

A nice companion award to go with their 2015 win for Book Of Souls! Congratulations, Iron Maiden!

***

THE REST (IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER) (20):

Gordon Downie – Introduce Yerself
Jack Johnson – All The Light Above It Too
Jake Bugg – Hearts That Strain
Greg Graffin – Millport
Geoff Berner – Canadiana Grotesquica
Mastodon – Emperor Of Sand^
Mastodon – Cold Dark Place^
Deep Purple – Infinite^ (and Time For Bedlam, All I Got Is You)
Guided By Voices – How Do You Spell Heaven
Guided By Voices – August By Cake
Circus Devils – Laughs Last
Circus Devils – Laughs Best (The Kids Eat It Up)
Dead Cross – Dead Cross^
Singles OMPS 25th Anniversary (2CD)
Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.
John Mayer – The Search For Everything
David Bowie – No Plan^
Solstafir – Berdreyminn

PLUS – LATE ADDITIONS I HAVEN’T FINISHED YET (3):

Max Webster – The Party 1976-82 (8CD boxed set)
Black Sabbath – The End: Live In Brimingham (2CD)
Motörhead – Under Cöver

***

AWESOME 2017 INDEPENDENT RELEASES (3):

Manipulant – Eclectro^
Amherst Drive – Amherst Drive^
Cruel Bloom – Relapsing

***

FREE ALBUM DOWNLOAD (1):

Public Enemy – Nothing Is Quick In The Desert

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PREVIOUS YEARS’ WINNERS:

2016  Leonard Cohen – You Want It Darker / Metallica – Hardwired… To Self-Destruct (tie)
2015  Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls
2014  Leonard Cohen – Popular Problems / Sloan – Commonwealth (tie)
2013  Black Sabbath – 13
2012  Leonard Cohen – Old Ideas
2011  Wynton Marsalis & Eric Clapton – Play The Blues: Live From Jazz At The Lincoln Center
2010  Jack Johnson – To The Sea
2009  Leonard Cohen – Live In London
2008  Metallica – Death Magnetic
2007  Carolyn Mark – Nothing Is Free / Immaculate Machine – Fables (tie)
2006  Sloan – Never Hear The End Of It

***

STILL TO GET:

And finally, in this space I usually list all the albums I wish I had/could have/still want to buy every year. However, this year there are simply too many. I’ve seen some year-end lists on other excellent blogs in the community and I haven’t heard a single album in their entire lists! Scrolling through a full list of 2017’s releases, I saw even more I wanted to hear… So, instead, I will be happy with what I have and keep my eyes peeled for anything cool and recent as I go along… Suffice it to say, given unlimited funds, I would buy ALL the records!

***

IN SUM:

2017 had its up and downs, but so it goes. With the hiatus as summer wound down, I missed out on some time, but that was definitely necessary time away for several reasons. Looking back, it’s hard to believe we’ve in our 11th year of this blog, but here we are, still kicking and screaming and blathering, and we have all of you to thank for it. Without you, we’d just be yammering away into the ether, unheard. Absolute thanks from James and myself to all of you, for Reading and Commenting, for sharing great tunes and ideas and opinions, and for being the greatest community in the world.

Happy New Year to you all. See you in 2018!

2017 Christmas Goodies

Each year I do a quick post of the goodness that has come my way from the holidays. Of course, most importantly, we were able to spend time with family and friends. And watching the kids tear through their stuff in record times was fun (and unnerving). As it should be.

My main gift this year was a new chair, a recliner. It’s pretty sweet, and I’m adjusting to it – I’m a bit tall for most chairs, so I’m figuring out how to maximize my use of it. But this is a music site, so I’ll share a few other things that might interest you guys…

CD (in alphabetical order):

Yup, the 2CD last-ever concert of Sabbath, oh baby… I’ve been wanting that case/lang/veirs album for a long time, right on… these two CCR albums (Green River, Pendulum) are the 40th anniversary releases, with bonus tracks, so now I wants them all…and the Motörhead covers album just pleases me to no end. Can’t wait to dig in!

LP:

 

 

 

 

 

This one’s from James. He probably got tired of telling me to buy the damn thing and just got it for me himself! Hooray! Thanks heaps James!!

DVD:

Letterkenny is also from James (thanks again, Dude!). It’s been recommended to us many times, as it is apparently sure to remind my lovely wife and I of where we grew up (the fictitious place of the show is based on a town about 20 minutes from our own home towns). Looking forward to seeing what’s up… Rogue One and The Force Awakens were ones I should already own and didn’t so here they awesomely are… and the two Tragically Hip DVDs are gonna be glorious and sad and wonderful and painful and awesome and, yeah, mostly awesome but also sad.

Birthday For Christmas:

I also got something awesome for myself. Which I know you’re not supposed to do. But I have good reason… see, I was given an Amazon gift card for my birthday, back in July. Over the past few months I’ve spent that thing a million and one times already without ever actually using it, just browsing and checking things out. Good thing they don’t expire! Well, last night I found a ridiculous post-Christmas sale on something I really wanted (and let’s be honest, I really need it too!), aaaaaaand it’s ordered. I will be sure to do a seperate post about it when it arrives, maybe even an unboxing if all goes well. I am so excited about this. Oh baby!

NB:

My final post for 2017 will be my annual year-end list. I’m still agonizing over the final details, but I promise to have it posted before the new year, which only gives me a couple of days… Stay tuned!

***

Thanks for reading – not just this post, but for every post you read. We really love this community and we thank you all for making us a part of it!

Happy Holidays From The KMA

Dear KMA Readers,

Wishing you a very Happy Holidays from the KMA! Our very best to you and yours for a safe and wonderful time!

And we hope Santa brings you records. Lots and lots of records.

Cheers, your friendly neighbourhood KMA!

Imagine

The internet is forever teaching me things. Like this:

In the 1980s, Tom Morello played in a high school band called Electric Sheep with Adam Jones (Tool).

Not All Politicians Suck

Read about it RIGHT HERE.

Zachary Lazar – Sway

Every so often, you read a novel that you truly enjoy. More rare, you read one that’s so good you wish you’d written it yourself. And the rarest of all is a novel that transports you to its time and place, so that you’re not wishing you wrote it, it’s so perfectly-realized that you are it, captured happily by its power long after you put the book down.

Lazar’s Sway is all three of those, in one. It’s been so long since I read a book this damn good. In its hypnotic swirl are the early Stones (and the death of Brian Jones), Kenneth Anger, the occult, the Manson murders, the Kennedys, Altamont and the Hell’s Angels, all stage scenes for the death throes of the Sixties. It has its own clear-eyed way of looking at the world, which comes easily across in its feel, as friendship, beauty and art crash into raw violence and descent. The language is enveloping, each word perfectly-chosen and placed, the characters written as though Lazar had been there in the room to witness it all, merely a reporter on the waning of a generation.

Sway held me in its sway from cover to cover. I truly cannot recommend this book enough.

 

Dead Cross

Because I can’t be bothered to re-type, here’s Wiki:

Dead Cross are an American hardcore punk supergroup formed in Southern California. The band consists of guitarist Mike Crain (Retox), bassist Justin Pearson (the Locust, Head Wound City and Retox), drummer Dave Lombardo (Slayer and Fantômas) and vocalist Mike Patton (currently of Faith No More and Fantômas).

And before you think ‘oh great, just what we needed, another supergroup,’ all I can say is that this is an important, vital release. Holy hell, what a record. It’ll pummel you within an inch of your life and not even look back as it rolls on past your carcass. There’s a dark edge to it all, and some supreme tastes of the weird, and it’s heavy as hell. Basically, look at the players and their day jobs and you’ll have some idea. I hear all of those bands, and others too, like the Dillinger Escape Plan-esque Grave Slave…

This sounds like hardcore punk and extreme metal met in a bar, got into a bar-clearing brawl, and then made a record before the sun came up and their knuckles could heal over. There’s a precision to the playing that is hypnotizing, driven as it is by rage and energy and barely-controlled chaos.

From Seizure And Desist through to Church Of The Motherfuckers, this is honestly one of the better, wildest heavy (new) records I’ve heard in a while.

\m/  \m/

Max Webster – The Party: 1976-82 (8CD Boxed Set)

Super-thanks to Boppin for the heads-up on this one. He emailed to say this beautiful set was on Amazon for $40, when it could (previously) have been as high as $100! Inexplicably, I suffered a blackout, and when I came back around, my Amazon had autonomously ordered it, no input from me I swear. Crazy! Merry Christmas to me!

Now, herein lies a story. Boppin also ordered it at that price, and we spent some time emailing back and forth with tracking updates on the shipping (it’s in Regina! It’s in Winnipeg! etc), like the good music collector geeks that we are. I received my copy yesterday, two days before the expected delivery date. Boppin (as of this writing) still hadn’t received his, as there was some weird delay even though it’s already in his town? Um, what? Man, I hope he gets his copy soon!

Also: When I first got the email from Bop, it was priced as he said. Cool. Ordered! A couple of days later it jumped back up to almost $140! WTF, Amazon. And now (as of this writing) it’s back to $40 again, but that price is an exclusive for Amazon Prime members only. We’d never seen that before. It doesn’t even seem to list a price for non-Prime members! Weird.

As for the box?

You Get (remastered copies of):

Max Webster
High Class In Borrowed Shoes
A Million Vacations
Live Magnetic Air (live)
Mutiny Up My Sleve
Universal Juveniles
The Bootleg (rarities)

and

Kim Mitchell EP (rare solo Kim!)

You Don’t Get: 

Any booklet or cool collectible extras, and just a basic cardboard sleeve for all the digipaks.

But who cares? This is a TON of Max Webster and it’s gonna be super-fun to go through it all. Great price (if you can get it?). Thanks again, Bop!

Van Halen – 5150

I chose this album at random from my iTunes and rocked it as I worked away in the Man Cave. It’s a really great record! All of the VH elements are here – the big riffs, the wheedly* solos, the synth passages, the plodding beats that are bluesy as hell without ever devolving into weakness, the fast rockers…

The first record made after DLR left and Sammy took over, I think the cover art speaks loudest for the position VH was in with the release of this album: VH is a collective Atlas, the giants of rock trying to hold up their own encircling reputations, as well as the mirror world of the shining, near-impossible expectations of their fans… all while still trying to be themselves and make music that matters.

Me? I really dug 5150. Crank it and go!

 

* My eternal gratitude to our HMO for this wonderfully descriptive word.

Thrift Store Religion

This one needs a disclaimer:

I give all deference to anyone’s beliefs. I do. I really do. This post is just pointing out something I’ve noticed, recently. And now you’re wondering what the hell I’m gonna say. Well, read on!

***

There’s a piped-in radio at our work. We have no say in what gets played. It’s been Christmas music lately, of course. Not my favourite, but it’s only temporary.

Thankfully, it’s not non-stop Christmas music, they’ve been playing regular pop music mixed in. And with those mixed in songs, I’ve been noticing that there has also been an increase in overtly religious songs in the playlist. Related to Christmas? Probably. Or maybe it’s just random chance. But I noticed.

Here are 5 songs I heard in heavy rotation last week, mixed in with Jingle Bell Rock and Blue Christmas:

Norman Greenbaum – Spirit In The Sky

Yes, the original. And if ever there was an overt religious song, it’s this one. You’ve heard it. You know.

Beach Boys – God Made The Radio

I generally appreciate the Beach Boys and what they were, but I’ve always found this song insipid and obnoxious, one of the worst in their catalogue. And every time it plays, all I can think is that God did not make the radio. A long list of human inventors discovered electromagnetic waves and subsequently built machines to use them. I don’t care how good your harmonies are, science made the radio.

Dishwalla – Counting Blue Cars

“Tell me all your thoughts on God, ‘cos I’d really like to meet her.” The story of a child asking a zillion questions, as “children often do.” Fun to purport that God is a woman (and why not, although Christianity seems certain it’s a man, who sent HIS Son, etc), and curiosity is great in anyone, but this one plays like pure calculation. like, ‘hey man, if we mention God in our song, and make it a woman, but package it as something relatable like a kid being curious, we might get radio play!’

Joan Osbourne – One Of Us

An OK tune the first couple of times I heard it, but every play after that (and it’s been countless times, in groceries stores, dentists’ offices, shopping malls, etc), has been annoying. And look, if God was “a slob like one of us,” “just a stranger on the bus trying to make his way home,” well, first of all… where is that bus going, straight up? Don’t people believe heaven is in the sky? Shouldn’t it be a plane, not a bus? And if God is here on the earth amongst us, dealing with commuter traffic, who’s running things upstairs? It all hurts my head.

George Harrison – My Sweet Lord

Yup, he’s here too, and George was my favourite Beatle. I know a lot of his music was about spirituality in one way or another, but this has had a lot of play at work too and so here it is on the list because you know what it says too.

***

In Sum:

I’m just pointing out that I noticed an increase in the number of songs containing religious overtones and references on my workplace music system. It’s unusual for this many to be played daily. Again, it’s probably the proximity to a Christian holiday that’s brought this on. I also have not heard a single Hannukah song.

What’s probably worse is that my co-workers hum along and don’t pay any attention to the words. The tunes are catchy enough to grab their ear and attention, and the songs are played at just that volume that they can be heard but they don’t demand your full attention, and so the content doesn’t phase them. If they’re Christians, these tunes are great, but it’s pretty subliminal if they’re not. Of course, they also hum along to that horrid I can’t feel my face song, too, so it’s equal opportunity.

Fortunately, I am off all of this coming week. And with all the work holidays for Christmas and other days off when the production team (that’s me) isn’t in the building, I only work two days between now and January 2. By then, the Christmas music should be gone, and we can go (hopefully) back to our regular pap pop.

SLCR #307: Hawksley Workman (December 9, 2017)

I’ve hit a point in my life where ten days between concerts seems like a long dry spell. And I had five days without an unfinished review nagging at me! It was like I was on vacation, a snowy vacation where I still had to go to work. What am I going to do with myself between now and Winterruption? Write about anything else? Read a book? Develop a hobby? Play one of those video games I keep buying? Unlikely.

So! Hawksley. Haven’t seen this dude in MONTHS. But this is a special show. Last year, he did a small Christmas tour where he played his Christmas album, Almost a Full Moon, front-to-back. The closest he came to me was Winnipeg, and I couldn’t justify a second trip to a Hawksley show in one year. Also, Winnipeg. Gross. Winnipeg winter. Double gross. So I was quite excited to see that Regina was one of the four stops on this year’s holiday tour, along with Saskatoon, Calgary, and Ottawa. Weird itinerary but I’ll take it.

Almost a Full Moon came out 16 years ago which seems impossible to me. I can’t understand how so many years have passed so quickly. Rather than contemplating death’s swift approach, I’ll lie to myself and chalk it up to the album’s re-releases throwing off my sense of time. A year after the first version of Almost a Full Moon came out, it was re-issued with two “new” songs – Watching the Fires (originally on a tour-only CD) and Silent Night. Then, in 2011, to mark the album’s 10th anniversary, Hawksley re-recorded the whole album and called it Full Moon Eleven. I love Hawksley but this is his one album that I just don’t understand or enjoy at all. Most of the songs on the original Full Moon are celebratory and joyous. None of the lyrics were changed for Full Moon Eleven, but all of the music was re-recorded and it’s slow and dour. It works fine for Merry Christmas (I Love You), though it’s not that different from the original version anyway. But for the other songs, it sucks all the fun and life out of them. It’s like someone killed Hawksley’s dog and made him watch, and then made him re-record the album right after. I’m listening to Full Moon Eleven now, as I do seemingly once every Christmas to see if I like it any better, and nope. It doesn’t help that the original is one of my favourite Hawksley albums. The best I can call Eleven is “unnecessary.” A few days before this concert, it suddenly struck me that we might get the Full Moon Eleven versions of the songs and I was concerned. Thankfully, I needn’t have worried.

They promised doors at 7:30 and show at 8:00, and since it was a Regina Folk Festival show, you know that’s likely to be close to correct. We got to the Exchange right at 7:30 and the line was out the door and just about around the corner. We took our place in line and slowly made our way inside. Ahead of us was (I’m guessing) a father and his young son. “Smell that? It smells like popcorn,” said the dad. “Smells like popcorn AND Coke,” said the kid. This made me so happy. I hope he got his snacks. I hope he found the toque that he lost shortly after entering.

Mark asked me to save seats for him and Arlette, and I succeeded expertly by showing up at least one whole minute before they did. Maybe one and a half! This was a seated show, and we grabbed a row of four about two-thirds back, stage right. We got drinks (iced teas and ginger ale! another hard partying Regina Saturday night) and settled in for the show.

Sheila Coles from the CBC emceed the show for the last time before her upcoming retirement. She was really nice to me that one time she interviewed me on live radio about my stolen marshmallow beanbag and how did that ever happen anyway? Life is weird. Anyway, she’s a local fixture and hopefully she has a fun time traveling and whatnot.

There was no opener and Hawksley took the stage right on time. It was just him on guitar and Leith Fleming-Smith on keyboard (and, for two songs, trumpet). I quite enjoy Hawksley’s usual pianist, Mr. Lonely, and am skeptical of any change, but Fleming-Smith did a fine job.

The first half of the show was the original Full Moon album, in order. Meaning that we were kicking the show off with Claire Fontaine, one of my favourite Hawksley songs ever. Like a lot of the songs on this “Christmas” album, it’s not very Christmassy. Mika describes it as “Christmas-adjacent.” It’s a love song to a pad of paper (or its namesake, at least) that happens to very briefly mention Christmas. Basically, Hawksley could have ended after the first song and I’d have gotten my money’s worth.

This is, of course, a lie. I wanted to hear the whole album. But you understand.

For as much as I love Claire Fontaine, it seemed like 3 Generations was the crowd favourite. I suppose it’s the most overtly Christmassy, and sentimental while still being… I dunno, rollicking? That seems like a good word for it. A word Hawksley would appreciate.

I feel like at this show, I saw him do some of the Christmas songs live for the first time, but I’m just not sure. I know I’ve seen him do Claire Fontaine twice before (I looked it up), and he did four other songs when playing with Stuart McLean’s Vinyl Cafe. I know I’ve seen him play A House (Or Maybe a Boat) before, since this was the first time I’ve seen him (correctly) sing “a couple of clementines” instead of “a bottle of clementines.”

On that note, I will say that I’ve never seen a musician who flubs more lines than Hawksley. At least once at every show I’ve seen going back years now. I’ve also read interviews where he talks about how difficult he finds it to remember lyrics, and he never takes requests during shows for that reason. Tonight, he got lost and had to restart both The First Snow of the Year and You and the Candles. It doesn’t bother me; it’s just one of those things that happen at live shows and I like unique moments. I can see where some folks might not be so into it, though I think Hawksley is charismatic enough that he can turn it into a positive.

After playing through the album, there was an intermission wherein Hawksley and Leith did very sweaty one-armed pushups while we all took a break. I visited a bit with some folks – talked a bit with Rob (or was at least present while Mark and Arlette did so – I love chairs but they get in the way of mingling), ran into Mary and Chris, waved at Erin. I also checked out the Stuff Table at Mika’s insistence – I wasn’t going to bother but she’s right, I’d have been real sad if they had something exclusive and I missed out. No luck, though. 7 CDs, two records, and Hawksley’s kids’ book. All stuff I have at home. So instead I got a Diet Pepsi; also something I have at home, but I got all hepped up on consumerism and it was cheap.

Also during intermission, the Exchange played Andy Shauf over the sound system. I mentioned in my recent review of Shauf’s show here that Hawksley was a fan. When he came back out, he said it was intimidating to hear Shauf’s songs right before having to play. He even mentioned that growing up, his musical idol was Bruce Cockburn, and that he struggled with his early songwriting because, in essence, if a song wasn’t going to measure up to Cockburn’s, what’s the point? And now Shauf’s music made him feel the same way. Quite the strong endorsement (and very well-received by the hometown crowd).

For the second half – I’m actually thinking there were only five songs. By my recollection, we had Winter Bird, Watching the Fires, You and the Candles, Autumn’s Here, Safe & Sound. Mark, you’re one of only two people who read these things. Am I wrong?

I mean, there was a lot more than that, but I’m talking songs here. Hawksley spent a lot of time telling stories, as ever. I think it was in the first half of the evening where he told the story of him and his brother spending time with their grandma as kids – I’ve heard that one probably 10 times now but it’s delightful every time, and there are always new little flourishes. This time, there were more details about Eaton’s. And Hawksley’s dad’s butter knife.

In the second half, though, he told us about writing Watching the Fires and how it was the first song he wrote where he was satisfied with the result and thought that maybe this career in music might be possible after all (and how the song later got shoehorned onto one of the Full Moon re-releases and it didn’t feel like it really fit). He said that “not every song can be great, some of them are-” and here he played the theme from The Greatest American Hero and I may have laughed way too loudly upon realizing what it was.

He also talked about HGTV for what had to be a solid 20 minutes. Dude has spent some serious time thinking about House Hunters International. Beautiful people with unloved entranceways and Arborite countertops.

Near the end of the evening, he said that he and Leith needed to go to bed and someone laughed way too loudly at what barely passed as unintentional innuendo. This led to Hawksley saying “yes, sleeping IS funny” and launching into a new song that was about – and one assumes was called – Farty Sleeper, though it was also about Grandpa’s riding mower. I don’t know if he was making it up on the spot, but he did promise that he’d never record it. We could listen to it as much as we wanted on the “Spotify of your mind.” Then he played a second new song – again, I’m guessing on the title here, but let’s go with Spotify of Your Mind. It’s about the song Farty Sleeper.

Mika made me guess what the encore would be and I wasn’t at all confident in my pick of Safe & Sound but I nailed it. This is another of my all-time favourite Hawksley songs and was a great version of it. A few lines in, and Hawksley asked the crowd to sing along. For parts, Hawksley dropped out to let the audience be heard. It was a really nice moment. It’s a mellower song so it was almost more like a choir than what you’d hear at a rock concert. Quiet, too. I sang along but you could hear individual voices really clearly so I mostly kept it under my breath. Nobody needs that. There was also a great keyboard solo in the middle of the song, giving Leith his best chance of the evening to show off.

And that was it. Had a great night, as I always do at Hawksley’s shows. The crowd helped a lot. Not just the singing; after a few shows that I’ll generously call under-attended, this one was sold out and people were into everything. Hawksley seemed appreciative and said he needed to come back more than once every few years. That sounds like the kind of thing he’d say to every crowd at every show but I’m willing to let myself believe the lie.

 

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Tom Wilson w/Mariel Buckley and Belle Plaine (January 19)
• Mo Kenney w/Lindi Ortega and Megan Nash (January 20)
• The Dears (March 17)
• “Weird Al” Yankovic w/Emo Philips (June 1)

Wave Grannies

Coming soon to a town near me…

BLOG DYLAN: A Community Bob Dylan Extravaganza

Huge thanks to Danica for the inspiration and for coordinating this project, and to Bruce for the art work. I’m super-excited to participate in this one day blogosphere Bob Dylan extravaganza, wonderfully-titled BLOG DYLAN. 

THIS LINK is both the introductory post to the collaborative effort, and the place you can find links for everyone’s Blog Dylan posts!

***

For my entry, I was tempted to write about many points of interest along the way in this man’s incredible (storied) career. But ultimately, I chose to go back to the very beginning. 1962. The debut album, simply titled Bob Dylan.

Recording 17 tracks in three short afternoon sessions in November of 1961, the final result of the first-ever Dylan album gives us 11 folk standards and traditionals, as well as 2 originals. 13 tracks in an economical 36:54.

Now, you can read all about it right here. I recommend that you do. That link has all the info on the whole history of this record, and on the four tracks that didn’t make the record, and how things were done, etc etc.

Instead of re-typing all of that and making it sound like I know more than I do, I am (instead) going to tell you about what I hear in the songs…

The first notes of recorded Bob Dylan are on Jesse Fuller’s You’re No Good, a quick-strum shouter that can’t help but make you smile. Dylan’s rapid-fire harmonica work is also damn sweet on this one. Next up is one of the two Dylan originals, Talkin’ New York. This ode to the city that never sleeps keeps the tempo up, but it’s pure Dylan as we know him now. Funny how we take so much of him for granted now, but back in ’62 this must’ve hit like a truck. “People going down to the ground, buildings going up to the sky.” Hell yes.

The next two are traditionals arranged by Dylan. In My Time Of Dyin drips blues, oh I loved it. I think he really nailed the howl in the vocals too. Definitely a highlight track, only three songs in! And Man Of Constant Sorrow somehow comes out sounding like it’s a Dylan original. Amazing how he does that…

Then it’s Bukka White’s Fixin’ To Die, which Dylan seems to turn into a race. Man, he’s really pounding this one out, like he’s barrelling head-long into death instead of trying to slow it up. Wow. I checked out the White original, and it’s got a good pace to it, but not this fast. Another traditional (arranged by Dylan) is Pretty Peggy-O, another Dylan sing/talker with that quick strum and harmonica work. And rounding off side A of the LP is Curtis Jones’ Highway 51, a raunchy fast blues with that great soulful shout again. He really goes for broke on the vocals, here.

Flipping over to side B, we get three more traditional tunes. Gospel Plow (arranged by Dylan) lets us know we’re in for another round of rapid-fire strumming and harmonica work. Love the growl in the vocals, even with his young voice when he goes from the shout to the growl it’s very powerful. Baby, Let Me Follow You Down (arranged by Eric von Schmidt) is a sweetly picked blues that we all know well. What a tune, and this version is a killer. House Of The Rising Sun (aaranged by Dave van Ronk), the tune we all learn to play early on in our guitar learning, is turned into mournful blues as (I think) it should be. This could be a definitive version for me. Gorgeous.

John Laird’s Freight Train Blues (arranged by Dylan) is aptly-titled, as once again we’re off down the tracks, chugging with speed while Dylan emulates a train whistle with his voice (and what a held note, there on the second round, ye gods!), and the harmonica glues the verses together and the whole thing crashes to a close and it takes a moment for you to decelerate from the momentum. The penultimate track is the second Dylan original, Song To Woody, a picked blues masterpiece. Since Dylan had Guthrie in his blood from the get-go, this track is pretty bold for him, too, placing his idols and influences right in front of him as if to say ‘here they are, now let’s go.’ It’s a nod to those influences, and a signal of what’s to come. Glory. And the album draws to a close with Blind Lemon Jefferson’s See That My Grave Is Kept Clean. Holy hell, what a track. It’s like a punch to the gut, buried down here at the bottom of the album. Just… wow.

In Sum:

This album is incredible, honestly. It makes you sit up and listen. This is not a passive experience – you’re drawn in and made part of the immersive, engaging proceedings. It’s a fun exercise to try to wrap your head around how this release started off a lifetime (and varied) career of one of the most iconic singer/songwriters ever. As for the tracks, I loved the freight-train breakneck folk and traditional stuff, but for me the real hits here are the bluesier numbers. This is protest Dylan, this is country Dylan, and it’s blues Dylan. And it’s one helluva record.

***

PS

I mentioned (ages ago) this when I bought it, but my copy has this different cover. It’s probably a remaster of a re-release of a re-release of a re-release, but I don’t care. It sounds good to me!

 

 

Unearth – III: In The Eyes Of Fire

I had only vague knowledge of this band, but once I gave it a spin I knew it for what it was – a brutal thrashing in your stereo! My goodness.

Every track pummels you breathless with aggression and melodic metal. Lots of screamo vocals, which I don’t always go for, but the tunefulness here makes up for any time they get too much. If I were to be unfair and compare them to other bands, I definitely hear Sevendust and many of their ilk, but there’s death metal in here too to give it more edge. When the dude sings cleaner I hear (oddly) Zack De La Rocha. Interesting.

Monster riffs, lithe and roiling guitar lines as well mixed in with the heavy chugging, and a bottom end built to destroy. No questioning the musicianship here.

This is a 2CD set, with CD1 the album proper, and CD2 containing two other live tracks (from an earlier album called The Oncoming Storm). The live stuff proves this band not only destroys in your stereo, they’ll do it to you in person if you go see them in concert, as well.

Whew! This was a punishing listen, but I really do appreciate what they do, and I can give it thumbs up to anyone into this kind of metal assault.

Funkadelic – Free Your Mind… And Your Ass Will Follow

Stone cold classic funk rock album here, my goodness.

The inimitable Funkadelic shakes your foundations, moves your ass, and seeks to expand your mind. I loved this now – I can’t imagine what it did to people when it dropped, in 1970.

It’s a groove, pure and gorgeous. Sure it’s weird, and there’s quite a bit of Hendrix in those guitar tones, but it’s unabashed and it’s true. Whatever energy you bring to this record at the opening (title) track, it will show you it knows the way, and spit you back out at Eulogy And Light a groovy jammin’ soul sister or brother.

Man, I so needed this right now. Thank you, Funkadelic!

John Mayer – Room For Squares

You may recall that I recently watched a documentary about Mayer on the Tubes Of You, said I was gonna get into his albums. I have two here (this one, and Heavier Things), so I thought I’d take a listen.

I bopped along absent-mindedly to most of it. Of course I knew the hits (Your Body Is A Wonderland, Why Georgia) because our piped-in work music plays them relentlessly. Well the deep cuts fit the same form, so it’s a cohesive record. There’s no doubting that the man can play guitar, as any live footage I’ve seen will attest, but this record doesn’t really show off those skills in a wankery way… it’s a band effort overall and that’s cool too.

As for his lyrics, I can’t tell if the man is telling it like it is (as he seemed to in the documentary) or if he’s got his head so far up his own ass and this is all just masturbatory. I cut him a break given that this is his first album, early days, so maybe his song-writing will get stronger as he goes along. The music was good, great in spots, even, though it does seem to be playing it fairly safe in a jazzy pop rock way. Future dentist office waiting room music, you know? But I thought the lyrics might’ve been a wee bit too much minutiae not enough meat. Says I, who probably could not do better, but still.

Of course, I found lots of love for Mayer online, but I also found detractors. Such is the way, I suppose, with artists who’ve exploded into fame as he has. You can imagine what the fans say, but one bit I found I reproduce here just for shits and giggles:

“Singer-songwriter John Mayer fills his debut, Room for Squares, with pep talks to and advertisements for himself. Even when questioning his young life, Mayer’s doubts come off glib; not one second of “Why Georgia” convinces that “the stirring in my soul” keeps the artiste awake at night. Between his Dave Matthews-wannabe vocals and the accomplished but bland lite rock of his band, he could be just as easily offering tunes for hire to a coming-of-age network series as making a stand for himself and his worldview. The premise of “City Love”–that Mayer couldn’t find his way around Manhattan until finding a girlfriend to root him to the place–is nice but not edifying. “My Stupid Mouth” is similarly fuzzy; letting us in on just what he said to alienate a dinner partner would’ve gone a long way toward fleshing out the song’s pat self-deprecation. Ultimately, Mayer comes off less like a commiserating friend than a blabbermouth who’s forever forgetting there’s someone else in the room. And instead of whining about a discarded lunch box (“83”), dude, learn to brown-bag it the way the rest of us did. –Rickey Wright”

Haha. So, in sum? It’s a decent record. I played it with the good headphones on, and it was alright. Not sure how much I’ll play it, going forward, but hey. And I’m gonna try the second record too, see if there’s growth.

 

PS: I also learned that this album was named in reference to Hank Mobley’s 1963 Blue Note album No Room For Squares. I don’t quite make the connection between the two, but there ya go.

Ozzy Osbourne – The Ultimate Sin

This is Ozzy’s fourth solo record, last to feature Jake E. Lee on guitar, first album for Randy Castillo on drums, and the only record to feature Phil Soussan on bass. I learned all this on the interwubs.

So of course I cranked this sucker, because OZZY. Every song has that Ozzy swagger and sound that you just can’t deny.

Some detractors say the songs over the course of the album are too same-y, and some say the production on this copy is a bit sketchy, but I didn’t have a problem with it. Mind you, my ear isn’t audiophile quality, but to me the sound is just fine, and the tunes are varied enough. You get the singles (the title track and Shot In The Dark, the latter is almost flirting with 80s pop/rock fighter jet movie soundtrack territory), plenty of solid rockers (mid to faster tempos), and even an epic like Killer Of Giants, which is one of my favourite tracks here.

I had good fun rocking this one!

 

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Healing The Divide – A Concert For Peace And Reconciliation

Welcome to the last day of this brilliant Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival. Hope you’ve had as much as we did with this one! Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts from all the writers involved in the series. And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

This is a fascinating CD. I cribbed this from Amazon, which oughta tell you everything you need to know about it:

In September 2003, actor Richard Gere introduced a brief address by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, an evolved soul if ever there was one. The two men hosted a benefit concert at New York’s Avery Fischer Hall to raise funds for Healing the Divide, a humanitarian organization founded by Gere and dedicated to fostering understanding between East and West. The Gyuto Tantric Choir’s deep, overtone-laced throat singing opens the festivities. Appropriately enough, Tom Waits, hoarse and rumbly-tumbly as ever, is up next, appearing with the eternally questing and utterly fearless Kronos Quartet, as is Gambian kora (a West African harp-lute) virtuoso Foday Musa Suso. The latter also sits in with minimalist composer Philip Glass and his ensemble–an unexpectedly thrilling juxtaposition. The beautiful and brilliant young Indian mistress of the sitar, Anoushka Shankar (daughter of Ravi), shoots sparks while N. Carlos Nakai’s Native American wooden flute is heard in an ineffably spacious and moving peace chant with Tibetan musician/composer Nawang Khechog. Each of the artists involved and the record label are donating all their proceeds from the sale of this commemorative CD to the Tibetan Health Initiative, a program providing health insurance and medical care for refugee Buddhist monks and nuns. But aside from offering a painless opportunity for accruing positive karma, these awe-inspiring live tracks would be a bargain at double the price. –Christina Roden

As for my own take on it, after all that, I’ll tell you that I could not help but be pulled deep into this disc. It’s so different from what I usually play, and utterly intriguing and fully immersive, that as it unfolded it quickly became one of the best discs I’ve heard in a long time! This is how we expand our horizons and learn new things… And of course, anything with Tom Waits (with Kronos Quartet, no less!) is worth every penny. Buy this with confidence.

 

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: American Roots Songbook: The Blues – From Yesterday’s Masters To Today’s Cutting Edge

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

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This one’s super-easy for me – I loved it!

Me and the blues go way back. I was listening to old blues in high school and haven’t ever quit. Of course, I had no real perspective on it, back when I got started in it, but I was learning. And what happened in the listening was it got deep into my blood and never left.

This comp is amazing. Discogs struggled to nail down how they wanted to label it, check it out:

“Genre: Jazz, Rock, Funk / Soul, Blues, Folk, World, & Country

Style: Piedmont Blues, Blues Rock, Chicago Blues, Rockabilly, Jump Blues, Rhythm & Blues, Piano Blues, Delta Blues, Boogie Woogie, Soul, Folk, Swing”

Whew! Whatever label, the playing is stellar, the tracks are killer, and this comp is one I will play often, any time of day and any day of the week.

Track Listing:

01 Rev. Gary Davis – Cross And Evil Woman Blues
02 Michael Bloomfield – Memphis Radio Blues
03 Duke Robillard – Sayin’ Don’t Make It So
04 Debbie Davies – I Just Want To Make Love To You
05 Anders Osborne – Boxes, Bills And Pain
06 Pinetop Perkins – Hoochie Coochie Man
07 Sue Foley – Every Road I Take
08 Curtis Salgado – Cookie Dough
09 Otis Taylor – Stone Pony
10 Stefan Grossman – Love, Devils And The Blues

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Birth Of Surf

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

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There are tons of surf music compilations out there, but most of them leave me wanting more because I can always think of songs they should have added. Also, many comps like this (especially the real budget ones) have varying sound quality from track to track, which definitely downgrades the experience.

Then I stumbled across this UK comp and was blown away. Compiled by Pipeline Magazine, the 26 tracks here represent a fantastic overview of early surf music. Not a bad one in the bunch! It really captures how surf music burgeoned out of 50s rock and because its own thing in the early 60s. Love that Danelectro twang… Also, the sound quality is excellent across the, er, board.

And yes, I had more than one Pulp Fiction flashback as I listened to this haha.

Apparently, there are a vol.2 and vol.3 out there too. I wants them!

Check it out!

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival – Vintage Sex Songs

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

This entire compilation pleased me to no end. 40 tracks of jump blues, swing and ragtime – all about sex, often couched in double entendre (though sometimes not!). What a great listen, seriously.

This is a euro comp from a label called Primo, who remastered everything and sent this out into the world for our amusement and edification in 2008.

If you ever happen across a copy of this set, don’t even hesitate. It’s pure glorious. So much fun!

Tracklist

CD1

1-1 The Swallows – It Ain’t The Meat (It’s The Motion)
1-2 Bullmoose Jackson – I Want A Bow-Legged Woman
1-3 Crown Prince Waterford – Move Your Hand Baby
1-4 Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon – It Must Be Jelly (‘Cos Jam Don’t Shake Like That)
1-5 Wynonie Harris – She Kept On Sittin’ On It All The Time
1-6 Julia Lee – King Sized Papa
1-7 Sister Rosetta Tharpe – I Want A Tall Skinny Papa
1-8 Mabel Scott – Just Give Me A Man
1-9 Connie Allen – Rocket 69
1-10 Cleo Gibson – I’ve Got Ford Engine Movements In My Hips
1-11 Margaret Carter – I Want Plenty Of Grease In My Frying Pan
1-12 Sippie Wallace – A Man For Every Day Of The Week
1-13 Fats Noel – Ride Daddy Ride
1-14 Jimmy Preston – Hucklebuck Baby
1-15 Papa Charlie Jackson – You Put It In, I’ll Take It Out
1-16 Al Miller – I Found Your Keyhole
1-17 Jimmie Gordon – Bed Springs Blues
1-18 Roosevelt Sykes – My Baby’s Playground
1-19 Memphis Minnie – Keep On Eatin’
1-20 Bessie Smith – I Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl

CD2

2-1 Lillie Mae Kirkman – He’s Just My Size
2-2 Barrelhouse Annie – If It Don’t Fit, Don’t Force It
2-3 Sippie Wallace – I’m A Mighty Tight Woman
2-4 Johnny Temple – Sit Right On It
2-5 The Treniers – Poon Tang
2-6 Lowell Fulson – Let Me Ride In Your Little Automobile
2-7 Lightnin’ Hopkins – Let Me Play With Your Poodle
2-8 Charlie Pickett – Let Me Squeeze Your Lemon
2-9 Bo Carter – My Pencil Won’t Write No More
2-10 The Mississippi Sheiks – Driving That Thing
2-11 Lonnie Johnson – The Best Jockey In Town
2-12 John Lee Hooker – My Daddy Was A Jockey
2-13 Blind Boy Fuller – Sweet Honey Hole
2-14 Jazz Gillum – Sarah Jane
2-15 Wynonie Harris – I Want My Fanny Brown
2-16 Victoria Spivey – Good Cabbage
2-17 Lil Johnson – Sam The Hot Dog Man
2-18 Bo Carter – Banana In Your Fruit Basket
2-19 Floyd Dixon – Baby Let’s Go Down To The Woods
2-20 Lucille Bogan – Shave ‘Em Dry

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Atlantic Jazz – Be Bop

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

Do I even need to say anything about this? I hope not, for a couple of reasons. First, I hope the names and songs you see in the track listing (below) are enough to make you say ‘holy shit, that’s an amazing mix!’ Because it really, really is. Second, writing about jazz is hard, for me anyway. I don’t have words when I listen to this stuff. It’s all visceral, elemental. It just goes into my blood and I know… but I couldn’t tell you how or why or all the reasons for its brilliance. It just is.

So. Seven tracks of be bop. This disc was amazing. Trust me!

 

Track Listing (Shamelessly copied from Discogs, tidied up by me):

1 Dizzy Gillespie – Our Love Is Here To Stay

Baritone Saxophone – Bill Graham
Bass – Percy Heath
Drums – Al Jones
Producer – Ahmet Ertegun, Herb Abramson
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie
Vibraphone – Milt Jackson
Written-By – George & Ira Gershwin

2 Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey – Evidence

Bass – Spanky DeBrest
Drums – Art Blakey
Engineer – Earl Brown
Piano – Thelonious Monk
Producer – Nesuhi Ertegun
Tenor Saxophone – Johnny Griffin
Trumpet – Bill Hardman
Written-By – Thelonious Monk

3 John Coltrane, Milt Jackson – Bebop

Bass – Paul Chambers
Drums – Connie Kay
Engineer – Tom Dowd
Piano – Hank Jones
Producer – Nesuhi Ertegun
Tenor Saxophone – John Coltrane
Vibraphone – Milt Jackson
Written-By – Dizzy Gillespie

4 Sonny Stitt – Ko-Ko

Alto Saxophone – Sonny Stitt
Bass – Richard Davis
Drums – Connie Kay
Electric Guitar – Jim Hall
Engineer – Tom Dowd
Piano – John Lewis
Producer – Ahmet Ertegun, Arif Mardin, John Lewis
Written-By – Charlie Parker

5 Philly Joe Jones – Salt Peanuts

Bass – Paul Chambers
Cornet – Michael Downs
Drums – Philly Joe Jones
Engineer – Phil Iehle, Tom Dowd
Piano – Walter Davis
Producer – Nesuhi Ertegun
Tenor Saxophone – Bill Barron
Written-By – Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke

6 Max Roach – Almost Like Me

Bass – Art Davis
Drums – Max Roach
Engineer – Tom Dowd
Piano – Hasaan Ibn Ali
Producer – Arif Mardin
Written-By – Hasaan Ibn Ali

7 The Giants Of Jazz – Allen’s Alley

Alto Saxophone – Sonny Stitt
Bass – Al McKibbon
Drums – Art Blakey
Piano – Thelonious Monk
Producer – George Wein
Trombone – Kai Winding
Trumpet – Dizzy Gillespie
Written-By – Denzil Best

Oh baby!

SLCR #306: Michael Bernard Fitzgerald (November 29, 2017)

“Two days! Just two days until @ilovembf is back in the Exchange.” tweeted the Exchange.

This was on Monday. And I was sure they were mistaken. I’d planned all week to go see Michael Bernard Fitzgerald on Thursday night. I was about to point out their error when a tiny voice buried in the back of my brain pointed out that maybe… just maybe… *I* was wrong?!

Sure enough, Fitzgerald was here on Wednesday, not Thursday. I even wrote down Wednesday in the text file I use to organize my life (if only this phone had a calendar app), but for some reason, I was convinced the show was on Thursday. Never one to wisely hide my foolishness, I thanked the Exchange for saving me from a sad Thursday evening discovery. They replied, “Glad we did! Especially since Thursday is Austrian metal band Belphegor, so pretty different than MBF unless he’s really changed directions.”

In fairness, I’d pay to see MBF play Austrian metal at least once.

Anyway, for a dirt cheap $10 ticket, I somehow found myself at the Exchange on the correct night. Mika was in school so I was flying solo again. I prepared myself for a raucous evening of misbehaviour by grabbing a raspberry iced tea – the kind with real sugar and everything (on a Wednesday?!) – and went to find myself a chair. As luck would have it, I again ran into Rob and his wife, who once again let me crash their night out. They were joined by Carver and Rob actually properly introduced us to each other, ending a years-long running joke I had with myself. (I’m lots of fun.)

Regina’s own Danny Olliver was added as an opener earlier in the day. The last time I saw him was also in an opening spot for Fitzgerald, who produced Olliver’s albums. He played a short set of singer-songwriter type stuff – kind of on the folkier side – while showing off some impressive guitar work. Not much different than the last time I saw him, but I liked that time and enjoyed this round too.

Though really, if this set is to be remembered for anything, it’ll be salmon. Olliver took audience questions – because that always goes well – and someone asked him what his favourite food was. He said salmon and was immediately cut off by a girl at a nearby table not-quietly-enough exclaiming “oh God, I love salmon too.” They then tried to have a back-and-forth about salmon but the table quickly resumed talking amongst itself (about salmon) and the show went on.

At least salmon table was invested. Somewhat. It was not a particularly lively or enthusiastic crowd all night. When Olliver said “Are you ready for Michael Bernard Fitzgerald,” you could hear crickets. The crowd was a little bigger than for Nomadic Massive, but there, it seemed like people collectively decided “there aren’t many people here, we need to make up for it in enthusiasm.” There was no such thought at this show. MBF later said “you do not seem like a crowd that is interested in answering questions.”

The two openers both complemented Fitzgerald well. In Olliver, you could hear traces of MBF’s folkier side, and the second opener, The Middle Coast, were stylistically a lot closer to Fitzgerald’s more upbeat songs. I’d call them a three-piece from Winnipeg, but there was a pillar blocking the far right hand side of the stage for me, so I’ll just assume that the two people I could see were actually talking to someone else. Could have been twenty people behind that pillar. Or maybe they’re a duo and a robot or a tape deck or a ghost? However it shakes out, all three (?) took turns on lead vocals, and they did their best to bring up the energy level of a room that wasn’t real into cooperating. I liked these folks and would see them again. They earned bonus points for talking up local favourite eateries (even if their pronunciation gave their out-of-towner status away) and for disparaging their own album cover, a shot of the three of them making dinner (it was curry!) taken by someone who, I can only assume, was squatting atop the fridge. Sounds both dangerous and unsanitary, if you ask me.

One brief break and mere moments later, the Middle Coast returned, serving as MBF’s band – now with a keyboard player who could possibly have been there all along (see above, re: pillar). They all did a fine job in this role and, not being a musician, I’m always a little amazed at that sort of thing. Sure, we’ll learn an entire set of your tunes and play them flawlessly for a three-week tour – never before and never again. I mean, I know they’re not super musically complex songs or anything but that still seems daunting to me. But the only instrument I can play is one loud piercing note on a tin whistle that I use to scare the cat sometimes.

We were promised some new songs and we got them! Always a treat to hear new stuff from a favourite singer. We were not promised any old songs, so no promise was broken – I’m not sure he played anything that came out before his 2015 album Yes. (Okay some of those songs were on an earlier EP but that detracts from my point so shut it.) Luckily, I like his two newest albums – though the older tunes would have been welcome too.

I didn’t take notes but the more energetic songs included I Wanna Make it With You, This Isn’t It, and Last Train to Georgia, which was probably the standout to me. It’s never been in my favourites of his but I got a new appreciation for it on this night. The folkier songs included Follow, One Love, Love is an Easy Thing to Miss, and I think he played Reach You? Maybe? I’ve been listening to all my MBF songs on shuffle while writing this and may have confused myself. I feel like he did play Reach You and it was the only song from before Yes but who can tell now? Rob or Carver, maybe. I wonder if they’re available at 12:15am for factchecking.

I didn’t list a ton of songs up there, and it was a short set, clocking in at just around an hour. Fitzgerald never seems to play for too long, at least when I see him. I’d have happily listened a bit longer, but I do appreciate someone doesn’t leave ’em wanting less, and I can’t imagine the crowd was particularly inspiring. At one point, MBF addressed a couple who’d just gotten engaged and said that they were going to be at the show – no response. Then he talked about someone’s girlfriend’s birthday – also no response. Then he vowed to quit paying attention to things people say to him on Facebook. Not a crowd that’s interested in answering questions, indeed. At least he got a good laugh whenever he mentioned salmon.

For the record, I did not spend my Thursday night with Austrian metal band Belphegor. Instead, after work, I went to Costco. Much more expensive. Harder to navigate through the crowds. Worse parking. To be fair, Belphegor probably doesn’t sell iTunes cards at 20% off, but it would be unfair to ask them to.

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Milestones – 20 Rock Operas

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

This 1990 budget compilation is a brilliant listen. It’s the kind of set you can throw on, do other things, and let the time pass as the songs take you away.

The list of artists is impressive, and the songs are all worthy of inclusion: check out the track list photie (below). I couldn’t find what criteria the makers of this comp used when defining ‘rock opera,’ (I mean, some were obvious, not so with others to me, anyway) but no matter. I let the tunes do the talking and all was well.

Check it out:

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Earthquake Album

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

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Here’s another oddity (to me). Y’all probably know all about this one, already.

Compiled by the British music industry for Rock Aid Armenia to aid those affected by the 1988 Armenian earthquake disaster, it was the first UK charity album to go gold. There were (apparently) a series of singles and compilations in the project.

I can see why. This edition I have here is a cool, if slightly weird, mix of amazing bands all in one place.

The first track merits further information for your edification… Deep Purple’s “Smoke On The Water ’90”:

The project is most remembered for a re-recording of Deep Purple’s famous hit song, “Smoke on the Water”, with different vocalists singing each verse. The single made it to the UK Top 40 Singles Chart. The track was recorded by an elite group of contemporary progressive rock, hard rock and heavy metal musicians who gathered at the historic Metropolis Studios in Chiswick, London. Recording began on July 8, 1989 and was completed over 5 different sessions.

The rock musicians involved in the recording of the song included Bryan Adams, Ritchie Blackmore, Bruce Dickinson, Geoff Downes, Keith Emerson, Ian Gillan, David Gilmour, Tony Iommi, Alex Lifeson, Brian May, Paul Rodgers, Chris Squire and Roger Taylor. John Paul Jones and Jon Lord were credited as “helping” behind the scenes with the track. The track’s producers were Gary Langan and Geoff Downes. Talent co-ordination for the record was overseen by Jon Dee, with David Gilmour being the first to join up after a call from Dee. Ian Gillan’s manager Phil Banfield also helped out with talent recruitment. “Paranoid” by Black Sabbath was used as a B-Side for the releases.

In 1990, the song was released again with an alternate mix, one example of which was released by Dino Music, which unlike the rest, had “Black Night” also by Deep Purple as a B-side and had Tony Iommi’s name incorrectly spelt on the front of it. (Wiki)

It was even a making-of video:

The recording sessions for the re-recording of “Smoke on the Water” were filmed and released in the same year on video as Rock Aid Armenia: The Making of Smoke on the Water, along with interviews and a video clip for the single. Film producer Paul Lovell produced and edited the final extended version of the documentary which was released on Laser Disc and VHS in Japan in 1991. (Wiki)

But the rest of the disc is cool too. Overall the mix is pretty damn consistent. Sabbath and Maiden are the heaviest here, but even they fit in alright, all of the tunes are on about the same wavelength. I say right on, good for everyone that this got made, and if it went gold that means (hopefully) that a lot of relief money got sent to those who needed it most. Mixes like this can sometimes be a weird listen, but this one contains a lot of great bands and does a pretty good job all the way through.

SLCR #305: Regina Symphony Orchestra feat. Tanya Tagaq (November 25, 2017)

Hey, now here’s something I have no business talking about! I mean, I can’t play Rock Band above medium without failing out; whatever made 20-year-old me think I should start reviewing concerts is beyond me. But talking about a symphony orchestra seems especially like overstepping my boundaries.

“whatever made 20-year-old me think I should start reviewing concerts” – Pat was drunk and it was funny and I wanted people to laugh at him, that was mostly it

Anyway, this was part of the Regina Symphony’s Masterworks series, a performance of Dvorák New World Symphony (should that be “Dvorák’s” when you’re using it in a sentence?). My symphony-going experience, because I am a mature grown-up adult, is mostly limited to one-off novelties. Video game themes, or songs from kids shows, or the orchestra is accompaniment to mainstream pop/rock musicians (Ben Folds, Sarah Slean, Crash Test Dummies). Seeing that Tanya Tagaq was here, I think I was expecting something closer to those latter performances. This wasn’t that. Mika said that the evening was basically exactly what she was expecting, so I attribute this to me seeing Tagaq’s name and doing no further research at all.

Here’s what the program says:

Dòchas – Laura Pettigrew
Trumpet Concerto – John Estacio
Qiksaaktuq – Christine Duncan & Jean Martin
Intermission
Symphony No. 9 in E minor, Op. 95 (From the New World) – Antonin Dvorák

I was surprised to find, when we got there, that we were sitting in the front row. I mean, I chose the seats, so it shouldn’t have surprised me, but that was five months ago now. I forget things. The online shopping experience through the Symphony’s website is not ideal – it’s tricky to pick the seats you want. I could call in or stop by their offices, but if I’m going to spend 20 minutes going back on forth on price vs. location, I’d like to be alone with my shame, thanks. Also, when you get your tickets emailed to you, they look like printouts of a website from 1996, with lots of blue underlined Arial text. These particular tickets also had a space at the bottom with the text, “A message from our Venue.” I guess the Conexus Arts Centre had nothing to say to me.

Anyway, they were good seats or not so good seats, depending on what you wanted to see. Not so great if you wanted to see the brass section, real good if you wanted to watch the conductor and the cellos and the violins and Tanya Tagaq. Also real good if you wanted to compare the shininess of everyone’s shoes. The conductor? Very shiny shoes.

Look, I’m not even going to try to seriously critique anything here. I enjoyed everything and have no deep thoughts about most of the music beyond “that was nice” and “maybe I should have dressed up at least a little.” Thank goodness they hand out programs so I can make a half-assed attempt to at least spell things right. That said, please note that putting the accent on the R in Dvorák is not going to happen and that is how it is. Dude’s dead, he doesn’t care.

The trumpet concerto was commissioned for Canada 150 and performed by symphonies across Canada throughout 2017, so it was neat to hear the one time it was performed here. The featured musician was the regular Principal Trumpet of the orchestra; though he’s a local (and a he), they still gave him a bouquet of flowers when he was done. He seemed very surprised.

Of the four pieces, I was unsurprisingly most interested in Qiksaaktuq; that was the one featuring Tanya Tagaq. She’s an Inuit throat singer who won the Polaris Prize a few years back, and this piece was described as a lament for missing and murdered Indigenous women. This was very moving and very unique – I gather that semi-improvisational pieces with two conductors and a throat singer are not so common. This was well worth the cost of admission alone, which is good since it was the reason we were there. It did seem like a fair number of people left once Tagaq was done.

The day before, Mika told me that the fourth movement of the New World Symphony was the inspiration for the music from Star Wars and I was supposed to let her know if I could hear the influence. Sort of, though I don’t know if I’d have noticed it if I hadn’t been prompted. Really, if I heard any John Williams in there, it was one brief part that clearly inspired the theme to Jaws.

And that was our grand symphony adventure. Honestly, if I’d fully realized what the night was going to entail, I wouldn’t have planned a write-up for it since I have no business doing so and it’s so far removed from a normal concert. But here we are. I did enjoy it! Would go again, which is good, since they’re doing selections from West Side Story in May and someone might have opinions about whether we should go to that. Would probably at least wear a shirt with a collar. Would prefer to not sit in the front row.

But the big takeaway, from the conversation in the car on the drive back home, is that you’re not supposed to clap between movements. People did anyway. Certain people who may have an interest in West Side Story may also hold strong opinions about this. I don’t have a dog in this fight. I clap when other people clap. I stand when other people stand. I know better than to try to start anything.

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Royal Concert

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

I had to do a wee bit of detective work for this one, as the packaging on this set was shite for information.

Nowhere in the minimal booklet is it indicated where or when this concert was held. I found A&M Records listing 1987 (this Telstar version followed in 1989), and the bigger clue was the Prince’s Trust which, as you know, is Prince Charles’ long-standing charity in the UK to help young people.

Being like Sherlock as I am, I followed the information I had: Prince’s Trust and 1987, as well as the artist list on the back cover. The interwubs told me that the 10th anniversary of the launch of the Trust (1976) saw an all-star rock concert held at Wembley Stadium in 1986… An Eric Clapton fan site (which tracks every show Clapton has done) informed me it was held June 20, 1986…

So.  Setlist.fm shows more of the same artists as are on this CD set than does the 1987 listing they have, but the 1986 listing only gives artist names, not the actual set played that night. I have no idea if this is the whole concert, though it is a 2CD set so… probably? Also, on this set the songs are split up – e.g. Elton John plays three songs, but one is on CD1 and the other two are on CD2. I would guess he played them all back to back that night, since he was already on stage? Etc.

Ah well, I am reasonably certain that I have the right gig tracked down. As you can see by the set list (below) it was a pretty stellar cast of players all night long. It really dates itself with Midge Ure, Level 42, Paul Young and Howard Jones. I had no idea who Labi Siffre* or Mark King & Mike Lindup (Level 42, but I never knew the players’ names) are until I saw the names here. But I was pleased to see Big Country (I like that band lots!) and Joan Armatrading is a cool addition. And how cool is it to have Ben E. King there to sing Stand By Me? Exactly.

The big names you know well, of course, and the versions of popular songs are all pretty damn good. I enjoyed the covers, including Phil Collins and Paul Young’s Motown romp and Righteous Brothers tune besides, and Bryan Adams and Dave Edmunds doing Dion is cool, although I wish Adams had taken a turn singing verses. Early on, I cracked up when Phil Collins, before starting In The Air Tonight, said “Now I know what you’re saying… You’re all saying that he’s going to play that bloody song again. Well, I am.” Haha get ‘em, Phil!

The quality’s decent enough, and the versions are good, so I call this one a win. Even though it took me a while to figure out what and when this even was.

 

*Turns out I really should have known who Labi Siffre is. But look at me! I am learning new things!

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: Songs And Artists That Inspired Fahrenheit 9/11

Welcome back to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

Here’s a good one for a recharge of your righteous indignation battery. As the title says, it’s songs and artists that inspired Fahrenheit 9/11, the 2004 documentary by Michael Moore.

There was a soundtrack released for the film as well, with a different track listing entirely

Lots of great anti-war stuff here, like we’ve been zapped back to the ideologies of the 60s (fair point: Dylan has three tracks here, one by him and two covers of his songs). I dug a lot of the songs, live or studio, right up until the Jeff Buckley cover of Hallelujah. I have already stated, in these pages, that I am not a fan of this cover (or any cover) of that song. It’s only Leonard’s original version for me, everyone else misses the point of it completely. Mix-wise, I also question its inclusion here – I don’t think it fits the mix at all, better to end on the Nanci Griffith track. Ah well.

In the liner notes, it says “Ultimately this record speaks to the responsibility we all have as citizens to act upon our beliefs. This is our country, our world. We can help shape its future or we can have others do it for us.” Let’s break that down, as I get what they mean but the wording is interesting:

“Ultimately this record speaks to the responsibility we all have as citizens to act upon our beliefs.” You are acting on your beliefs and so are they. Thinking your way is the only way is what you gets you into all of these messes.

“This is our country, our world.” Excuse me, your world? Really? Ah hubris.

“We can help shape its future or we can have others do it for us.” This I agree with, except I’d have better worded it as “We can help shape its future by working towards peaceful resolution of conflict, pulling troops out of foreign countries (especially when the real reason is oil), and generally stopping being the manipulative power-hungry global bully. Then, perhaps, others wouldn’t feel so compelled to strike back.

Man, I try to leave politics out of this blog, and yet, look at me go. I just get so tired of all the conflict and drama and war. Resources, finance and greed. Perhaps we’re beyond repair, perhaps this will go on and on and my kids will be hearing the same damn thing in the news long after I’m gone. But discs like this remind us it doesn’t have to be that way. We can be peaceful. It isn’t likely, but we could and it’s worth holding on to the potential.

Anyway, most of the rest of the disc is a worthwhile listen. Have a look at the track list!

Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival: The Official 1991 (20th Anniversary) Juno Awards Collection

Welcome to the Various Artists/Various Blogs Festival! The festival runs December 1st-10th, across many blogs in the Community… Check out THIS PAGE at Bruce’s site for all the posts as we go along! And most importantly: our huge thanks to Bruce for getting the ball rolling on this, and for all his hard work in making it all happen!

***

I start off my contributions with a bit of a weird set. You see…

Discogs doesn’t list this, neither does Amazon. Google doesn’t even find it.

There is no barcode or label information anywhere on the packaging. But it still looks like an official release, manufactured by Cinram in Canada. So while I don’t know what this is, precisely (besides the obvious, that it is a compilation of Juno Award artists from 1991, natch!), I can surmise that perhaps it was handed out at the Juno event that year, as on the very back inside page of the included booklet it says NOT FOR SALE. Who knows. I can’t find anything about it, not even an image online!

It’s quite a mix (as you can see by the shite photie of the track listings). Lots of favourites here, several Canuck evergreens, a bit of a time capsule for the songs included (check out the Hip, Rush, Colin James, Maestro Fresh Wes! oh my). There are several classical pieces included here, which made me happy indeed. And there are several folks here about whom I knew nothing prior to buying this set (Susan Hammond, Mike Murley, Simply Majestic and B. Cool, Jayson & Friends). I am a bit miffed that I now have Celine Dion and Rita MacNeil in my collection (not my cuppa), but what the hell. Saving the whole thing, though, is the grand master, Leonard Cohen. Lovely!

As you can imagine, it’s a bit of an uneven listen, but not any weirder than putting my entire iTunes collection on shuffle… if you could somehow filter only Canadian artists in 1991…

Check out the shite photies (below), for which I apologize. My iPhone’s camera has stuff in front of the lens on the inside where I cannot get at it without dismantling the phone. I may soon have an updated (for me) iPhone, though, so perhaps by the new year I’ll have things clearer for you! I did try to get a picture of the front cover (above), the back cover with the track listing (below), and the sponsor page where it says NOT FOR SALE (bottom left corner of that last shite photie, below).

Also included in the booklet: four pages of all the artists nominated that year, with printed checkmarks beside the winners’ names… which tells me it was done well after the show? If so… how long after…?; two pages with the track list and all accompanying label/album information for each track; and two pages of all the (then current) contact details for management of every artist on the compilation… which makes me think this was handed out to the judges, or insider people in the crowd who might want to arrange tours or recordings with the acts… That last page indicates the set was presented by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS)… I wonder how many copies were even made…

I just don’t know how this set came about, so I don’t know if I have a rarity here, or not. But it’s a cool enough 2CD mix, and I’m happy it’s here!

SLCR #304: Corb Lund (November 23, 2017)

I like Corb Lund. Saw him before and enjoyed it. Wanted to see him again. Not everything is interesting.

With Mika in school, on this night I was accompanied by Jason and Melissa, a friend from work and his wife. You may recall them from when we went to see the UFC in Saskatoon together, except that wasn’t a concert so I didn’t tell you about that. Jason was kind enough to not only let me invite myself along with them but he even picked up our tickets. He put us in the front row of the balcony; fine work.

The last time I saw Corb Lund at the casino, you may remember that I complained about all the big-ass trucks in the parking lot. It turns out that I didn’t know from big-ass trucks; when you go see a country singer while Agribition is on, it’s a whole ‘nother level. Of trucks. As is becoming tradition, I composed and sang a song to myself during the ever-frustrating drive through the casino parkade. It had swears.

I’ve mostly never been to Agribition. Doesn’t seem like my thing. One time I walked past a bunch of closed exhibits to go see Willie Nelson at the Brandt Centre, but I don’t think that counts. I know very little about it other than when it’s on, you can’t find a hotel room in town. Folks from all over the province come in big-ass trucks to see… I don’t know, whatever there is to see at an agricultural exhibition. They also like going to country shows.

I got to the casino with 10 minutes to spare and met up with Jason and Melissa in the balcony. The last Corb show at the casino had floor seating too, which wasn’t quite ideal for a crowd that wanted to get drunk and rowdy. This time, they’d left the floor as standing-room, which… again, not quite ideal. You can’t win, casino. Earlier in the day, I read that this show and tour was called “BS With CL” – instead of a full band, Corb was going to be out there by himself with just a guitar. There was a phone number where you could text Corb your questions and he’d answer some of them and tell stories as the show went on. I thought it was a little odd that there was no mention of this in any of the casino’s advertising for the show (at least, nothing that I saw). Had I not seen that one Facebook post, I’d have been expecting a normal concert. Don’t get me wrong – I’d rather see something unique. I just think if an artist is going to be doing something markedly different from normal, you might want to tell people before they buy tickets. The casino is very upfront about Weird Al’s upcoming show being a significant departure from his usual shenanigans, and Saskatoon’s Broadway Theatre used the BS With CL name and description in advertising, so I don’t know what happened here.

I wasn’t sure if we were getting an opener, but the show was kicked off by Mike Plume. I knew the name, not sure from where. He’s pals with Corb and I suspect if you like one, you’d like them both. He sang a short set with a lot of Canadiana – songs about hockey and Stompin’ Tom and working in Fort Mac and Remembrance Day and the country itself. It seemed like he won the crowd over by the end of it – the ode to Stompin’ Tom was a particular favourite and has been stuck in my head off and on since then.

Corb was out after a noticeably brief intermission, and yep, the whole set was just him and a guitar (apart from a few songs where he was joined by Plume, so it was two guys with guitars). I don’t think you could complain about the setlist – it was packed with old and new favourites and there wasn’t much you could have been left wanting. Looking over Corb’s discography now, it occurs to me that 1) I’ve listened to a fair bit of his music, 2) it’s real good, and 3) he sampled pretty evenly from all his records. Really, if you wanted the Corb Lund starter kit, this setlist was perfect. The biggest reactions were saved for Five-Dollar Bill and The Truck Got Stuck, as well as anything that mentioned Saskatchewan or places therein (Hurtin’ Albertan, Long Gone to Saskatchewan, and the one Plume song they did together, The Big American Headliner). Really, between Lund and Plume, there’s no way I’ve been to a show with more local references, and they’re both no-good Albertans. Plume may be a transplant from New Brunswick, but still. No-good Albertan.

As far as the BS part went, there really wasn’t a ton. Corb had his phone on stage and checked it for questions, but there wasn’t much more talking than a normal show. He went into a little detail about Talkin’ Veterinarian Blues, Family Reunion, The Truck Got Stuck, and personal favourite S Lazy H. A lot of his stories centred on which of the songs are based on true stories. Answer: a lot of them, though they have made-up parts too. Which is what you’d expect.

I thought this was great, but it did seem like maybe this wasn’t the show the Agribition crowd wanted. You could hear an awful lot of distracting talking coming from the folks on the floor. I think there was a pretty sizable contingent that wanted to get drunk and rowdy and this didn’t really provide the opportunity. I mean, some did anyway, but nowhere near what you’d expect. I really dig Corb but find his fans to be a bit much sometimes. I keep going to see him, since he’s great and all, but you need to prepare yourself for the drunken yahoos you may encounter. This seemed like it was less of a show for them and more for me, so, y’know, no complaints here.

I say “Corb Lund fans” as if I’m not one, but somehow, Corb became one of my favourite musicians. I didn’t even really realize it until I was thinking about it today and realized just how much of his stuff I know well and enjoy. I’ve liked him for a long time, but I wouldn’t have ever thought to list him among my very favourites, but somehow, that happened and I didn’t even realize it.

Or to put it all another way, enjoyed it. Want to see him again.

Cult – Born Into This

During a recent workout, I threw on this album and I learned something that should have been apparent to me all along – the hypnotically driving beats and big riff mayhem of this excellent rock band make for perfect exercise accompaniment.

Knowing none of the songs (from 2007) before hearing this, I felt like I was breaking new ground as my rickety frame attempted to support the minimal weights I was manouvering and dubiously calling it exercise.

You’ll know this album already for yourselves, but on this play-through I thought this was a strong batch of songs. It rocks like hell, really, and sounds like the Cult I knew way back when. Tracks like Dirty Little Rockstar and I Assassin (among several others) pleased me greatly. One track, Holy Mountain, is a departure – a slower, simpler, more melodic showcase for Astbury’s vocals. Wild.

This one I have here is the 2CD Savage Edition, the second disc of which has a few bonus tracks that I also liked… though I’ll admit that by then I was resting my weary carcass after punishing it enough during the workout, so I heard the bonus disc as I yelled for a medic. I liked Stand Alone here, and the demo versions of the album tracks were a nice addition.

This album did the job well, I liked it!

SLCR #303: Andy Shauf (November 18, 2017)

Until this show, I liked Andy Shauf, but I never really got Andy Shauf.

For those who don’t know the name, he’s a singer-songwriter from here in Regina. The first time we saw him was in 2013, when he opened for Mo Kenney at a half-full Artful Dodger. By that point, he was already well known around these parts. We later saw him at the 2015 Regina Folk Festival and then again opening for Whitehorse in 2016. In all cases, I thought he was good and very likable and I wanted him to do well, but there was always something that didn’t quite work for me – he’s real quiet, and I sometimes found him hard to hear and that everything kinda sounded the same. He’s one of many people where I thought I could really get into him if only I spent some time with his albums, but we all know I’ll talk about that but likely never do it.

I did think he was best suited to small, intimate venues. This time, he was headlining at the Exchange, which seemed to be the ideal place. That it was a sold-out hometown show could only help.

I suspect this will be the last time we can see Shauf at a place this small. Even now, I’m guessing he only played the Exchange because he used to work there. They said he was the only person ever to serve as caretaker and also headline a show there. This was the second last stop on his tour; the only remaining date was in Toronto’s Massey Hall. When I looked, you could only buy single seats for that one.

Watching his rise has really been something. When Hawksley Workman discovered Shauf and praised him, I wasn’t that surprised. But to see Reggie Watts do the same thing, it really illustrated how far Shauf was going.

Several days before they show, they announced that Steph Cameron would be opening. This was a delightful surprise. We saw her at the very same 2015 Regina Folk Festival. As opposed to all the other Regina Folk Festivals that year. I really liked her short set and later bought her album, Sad-Eyed Lonesome Lady. She was back in Regina only a few weeks ago, opening for Little Miss Higgins, but we were already booked that night, so this was a treat.

Doors opened at 8:00, which really isn’t that late, but it feels like it is if you’re used to the early-starting concerts the Folk Festival puts on. We got in at around 8:30 and had lots of time to stand around and critique the fashion choices of today’s youth. Tye Dillinger’s haircut was a standout, as was a jacket that read SAME SHIT, DIFFERENT DAY in large letters on the back. One girl was there in short shorts; I question her wisdom but admire her commitment when it’s -20 with the windchill.

Someone from the Board of Directors for the Exchange welcomed us to the show, since this was one of a series of concerts marking their 30th anniversary. She seemed nervous. Didn’t need to be. She did fine!

Cameron started around 9:00 and played for about a half-hour, mostly material from her brand new album, Daybreak Over Jackson Street, about her time living in one of Vancouver’s worst neighbourhoods. I didn’t even know she had a new album, so that was another nice surprise. Or maybe a continuation of the first one. She did a fine job despite a crowd that left something to be desired. Even the folks at the very front were talking and looking at their phones. By now, I should just have a boilerplate paragraph that covers this. You know the deal. If you’re going to do that, why don’t you just leave? Or not show up in the first place? There are lots of places that won’t charge you $25/person cover to stand around and be a dick. But standing dicks notwithstanding, she was real good. Last time I saw her, my verdict was “would see again” and that hasn’t changed. Even if she didn’t play the one song Mika knew.

Speaking of standing dicks, we had about 45 minutes of standing around time before Shauf and band took the stage. I won’t lie to you; I was ready to leave well before this point. The standing, the inattentive crowd, the heat of a packed, sold-out venue, and the fact that I’d never been super into Shauf before were all combining to kill my enthusiasm for the evening, such as it was.

Armed with a full band – including TWO clarinetists, as one does – Shauf returned to his hometown if not quite a conquering hero, at least well on his way. And this was where it all came together for me. Great sound in the venue combined with a crowd that was surprisingly quiet and respectful to create the perfect atmosphere to listen to Shauf’s lyrics. Hometown Hero and Wendell Walker became new favourites for me, but I enjoyed all of it.

Shauf’s stage presence is quite reserved. He’s not someone who will ever put on shows described as electrifying – they’re for listening, not for dancing. Throughout this review, I kept looking for the right place to put the term “low-key” since it kind of applies everywhere. But he does display a subtle sense of humour when talking to the crowd which breaks things up a little. Every time I’ve seen him, he’s asked the audience if they have any questions. This time, it was something about Star Trek. I liked it better last time when someone yelled “what do you have against horses?”

But that was the only part of the show that wasn’t quite as good as before. It’s telling that I liked the show at all, given the mood I was in before it began, but this was fantastic. It took me a while – I’m late to the party, perhaps – but I’m finally on the Andy Shauf bandwagon. Better get on now, before he takes over the world so quietly that nobody even notices.

Rushcue Mission

Fresh coat of paint in the bathroom, time for some new decorations…

I’d rescued these two old copies because I couldn’t stand to see them pitched. The LPs themselves are hacked beyond playable, but the cover art was worth the time, so they have a new home now.

My son named him Hedwig, says Hedwig watches him pee.

By the look on his face, the duck likes what he sees.

Oscar Peterson – The More I See You

Just leaving this here to say I absolutely adore this album. It swings, it has the blues, and it’s so impeccably done that it oughta be in every collection, post-haste.

Released in 1995, it was the first album made since his stroke in 1993. I read somewhere that he never fully recovered use of his left hand, but in listening to this record with the good headphones on, there’s no sign at all of anything amiss.

First, the players:

Oscar Peterson – piano
Clark Terry – flugelhorn
Benny Carter – alto saxophone
Ray Brown – double bass
Lorne Lofsky – guitar
Lewis Nash – drums

And the tracks?

In A Mellow Tone
Gee Baby, Ain’t I Good To You
On The Trail
When My Dream Boat Comes Home
Rons Blues
For All We Know
Blues For Lisa
Squatty Roo
The More I See You

Any questions? Haha I thought not! Love love love love LOVE.

Queen – Made In Heaven

This album was released in 1995, four years after Freddie Mercury’s death. Mercury recorded as many vocals as he could, and told the band to finish the album after he was gone, and that’s what they did here. Imagine working on that, after he passed… Man. Accordingly, I got the sense that a lot of the songs were a form of farewell from Freddie, and homage from the band. Bittersweet, spiritual, human, and uplifting. Makes sense, and it works perfectly.

Now, I’m no Queen expert but I’m a fan, and to me this sounds like a Queen album. The songs are strong, soaring, beautiful. Lots of different approaches here, from (somewhat) cheesy keyboard forays to full-on rockers, though mostly ballad territory. Queen had a sound that was unlike any other, instantly recognizeable as Queen, and that sound is here, for sure. The songs carry extra weight, of course, but even if Freddie had lived to see this released, this would still be a solid Queen record. I’d never heard this album before this, and while it was hard to write about, I quite liked it, honestly.

I was going to go through this track by track but found that, for one of the first times ever in writing for this blog, I simultaneously couldn’t and didn’t want to do it that way. No aspersions on the record, you just have to hear it for yourself, I think, because in all likelihood it’ll mean something slightly different to every listener. Cop out? In most cases yes, but for this one I don’t really think so. It just felt right to leave it up to you. Go get your copy! There are song-by-song blurbs HERE.

One cool thing: There’s a brief intro track called It’s A Beautiful Day, then the album proper. Following A Beautiful Day reprise at track 11, there’s a track 12 of Freddie saying YEAH!, and then at track 13 there’s a 22 minute track that iTunes lists as ‘Reprise.’ It’s beautiful, very ambient, spacious, experimental, a lot of chording. Just let it play and drift away…*

It’s actually a bit of a wrench to listen to Made In Heaven, but it’s definitely well-worth the time you spend with it. RIP Freddie.

 

 

* Running at 22 minutes and 32 seconds, Track 13 was an experiment by Richards with an Ensoniq ASR-10 sampler. He took the opening chords of “It’s a Beautiful Day” and made them loop, and then added Mercury’s voice through strange echoes. May and Taylor also added some ideas to the track. This track was previously only available on the CD edition of the album and the aforementioned promo cassettes.

Standard cassettes of the album end with the shortened “It’s a Beautiful Day (Reprise)”, fading out after Track 12 (“Yeah”), where this untitled track would continue on. Track 13 can be purchased also as part of the full album or as a separate piece from Queen’s official online store.

The LP (vinyl) edition of the album has only the first few seconds, which run into the run-off of the groove on the record, which actually means that if a listener has a record player which does not have an automatic stop activated at this point, it will play indefinitely, consisting only of the few seconds looped over constantly.

Track 13 created a good deal of surprise and confusion among fans, given its ambient musical nature and its sheer length, neither of which have much precedent in Queen’s catalogue (the longest of Queen’s prior songs, “The Prophet’s Song” from A Night at the Opera, running a mere 8:20). The album’s last listed track (all formats) is track 11: “It’s a Beautiful Day (Reprise)”. After, Freddie Mercury is heard loudly saying “Yeah”, which at four seconds long comprises the entire Track 12. Fans took to calling this track by that monosyllabic name. The ambient music underneath this track continues into Track 13, which ebbs and flows for another 22:32, and ends with Mercury calling out “Fab!”

Two schools of thought emerged amongst fans: one was that these were to be considered not only separate tracks, but separate “songs”; the second was that tracks 11, 12 and 13 were all one song (“It’s a Beautiful Day [Reprise]”) and that the splitting of it was a deliberate tongue-in-cheek gesture by the band. Initially, the band were content to maintain the air of mystery around Track 13. Over time, May has discussed it and shed a bit more light on it, such as the aforementioned creation by David Richards and the subsequent involvement by himself and Taylor.

In 2015, upon the re-issuing of Queen’s discography on vinyl, Made In Heaven was re-issued as a double disc set with track 13 taking up the entirety of side D. The track was given the name “13” and is listed on the artwork. (Wiki)

Rusted Root – When I Woke

When I Woke* one day not long ago, I realized I’d had songs from this album in my head for days. Checking the Man Cave, I no longer had my copy from long ago. Who knows what happened to it. So I found one online for $0.70 and it arrived here in a little while.

Amazingly, I still knew every track and every note of the album. Helps that I played the hell out of it all those years ago… The opening Drum Trip would make a wonderful concert stage entrance track, while Ecstacy keeps the world music drum swirl and energy alive and well. I’ll go all hipster on you and say I loved Send Me On My Way long before it got shoved into an Ice Age movie… Cruel Sun is one of my favourite tracks on the album, absolutely gorgeous from top to bottom…

And so on throughout the whole album. Not one track here even approaches mediocre. This kind of album with a big hit on it can have the deep cuts get lost to history, but in this case every single track is a keeper. The percussion throughout is absolutely killer, driven by a world beat feel that takes in South American and African rhythms, the vocals intertwine beautifully, instrumental stabs mesh and sweep and draw the ear…

Looking them up on Wiki, I was pleased to see that they are still going, with their most recent album dropping in 2012. This sure shot hit album from 1994 was a high point, but given their talents and ear for tunes, I would easily wager that there have been other high points along the way, and I want to check into other records of theirs too.

Hearing this record again made me very happy.

* see what I did there? So clever…

Iron Maiden – The Book Of Souls: Live Chapter (Deluxe Edition)

After waiting all weekend after release date to receive my Amazon pre-order of this deluxe edition, I’ve been listening to it regularly and my review is pure and simple:

HELL YES!

Seriously, everything about this set is absolutely perfect. The sound quality (including the instrument mixes), the track selection (of course it oughta include Hallowed Be Thy Name but I know there are reasons it couldn’t)… hell, even the balance between the band and crowd noise is spot-on. Of course, they completely nail every track – there was no question of that! The packaging itself is beautiful too, made to be companion to the deluxe of the Book Of Souls album proper. Solid slip-cover, hardcover book, all delicious. This one has lots of live pics and details and it’d be easy to spend time poring over everything (I know because I have).

Best of all, for me, is that this captures a memory, as a document of the show we saw in Toronto, April 3, 2016. They played pretty much the same tracks all along, so except for two tracks difference, this set is identical to what we got when we went. There are no Toronto 2016 tracks on here, though there is one from the gig a couple of days previous in Montreal (Children Of The Damned, April 1, 2016). No matter, I am very grateful to have this here, so I can revisit this excellent tour’s set whenever I like!

No need for me to go track by track. They fuckin’ nail it. This is a stellar live album!!

Up the irons!  \m/  \m/

 

Track Listing (w. Cities and Dates):

CD1

1. If Eternity Should Fail – Sydney, Australia; 6 May 2016
2. Speed of Light – Cape Town, South Africa; 18 May 2016
3. Wrathchild – Dublin, Ireland; 6 May 2017
4. Children of the Damned – Montreal, Canada; 1 April 2016
5. Death or Glory – Wrocław, Poland; 3 July 2016
6. The Red and the Black – Tokyo, Japan; 21 April 2016
7. The Trooper – San Salvador, El Salvador; 6 March 2016
8. Powerslave – Trieste, Italy; 26 July 2016

CD2

1. The Great Unknown – Newcastle, UK; 14 May 2017
2. The Book of Souls – Castle Donington, UK; 12 June 2016
3. Fear of the Dark – Fortaleza, Brazil; 24 March 2016
4. Iron Maiden – Buenos Aires, Argentina; 15 March 2016
5. The Number of the Beast – Wacken, Germany; 4 August 2016
6. Blood Brothers – Donington, UK; 12 June 2016
7. Wasted Years – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; 17 March 2016

Transmaniacon – The Darkening Plain

1537 is at it again.*

There I was, innocently reading along on his blog (a post about this very release), when he mentioned in the comments that a copy was available here in Canada, on Discogs, for ten bucks. Later, somehow, I’d placed an order and this LP was on its way to my house. Funny how that happens…

I highly suggest you go read 1537’s review on this release, as he nailed everything I could have hoped to have said (and a lot more I’m not equipped enough to have thought of), and he writes knowledgeably about the how and why of the project.  Seriously, go now.

So. What a good thing this platter got here. Seriously, this is an amazing freak-out of sludgy metal rock, unapologetically lean and strong. There’s more than a little Sabbath and Purple in all this, and a bunch of doom too… but most importantly for them, I think Transmaniacon are their own beast. An unrestrained, full-on beast. This is less homage than straight-up scouring of your senses and brain. It roils, it buzzes like a chainsaw, it menaces your aunties. YES. Hell, the opening track is 24 minutes…

One word review: EPIC.

And yes, as you’ll have noticed in the pic above, it’s on awesome-looking red/black spatter vinyl (180g, natch), with gatefold and printed insert… and there’s only 300 of them in the world. Oooo, the precious!

 

He got me into the Shrine, Red Fang, and now these guys, too… T’is a pleasing trend developing here, folks…

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Caught Me Gaming

Confessions of a Casual Core Gamer

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