SLCR #289: Crash Test Dummies & the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (August 7, 2017)

I feel like I’ve told my history with the Crash Test Dummies a million times. But it’s been seven years since I’ve seen them – really, seven years since they’ve played together – so the super short version is I was a big fan back in the day and somehow wound up running their website for a few years. They’re good people. We’re still friends to this day, if you’re really generous with how you define “friends.” I mean, most of them would remember who I am. Maybe.

The last time I saw them in concert was two shows in 2010. In Regina, the vocalists – Brad Roberts and Ellen Reid – were joined by guitarist Murray Pulver. The next night in Winnipeg, they were joined by bassist Dan Roberts (Brad’s brother) and drummer Mitch Dorge, playing together for the first time in years. Since then, I know Brad and Ellen have each done a few solo shows – and maybe a few gigs together? I’m not sure. Point being, they don’t play together a lot anymore. So I was pretty surprised when Ellen let me know about the reunion gig – with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, no less.

This show was part of the Jeux de Canada Games – I need to use the full bilingual title if I want to keep getting my federal grant for writing these things. There were 11 nights of free concerts, one for each province (the territories had to share a night), each with the kind of lineup you might see at our local Folk Festival. The Canada Games were in Saskatoon when I was 14 or so, and while I wasn’t a concert-goer back then, I certainly don’t remember anything like this. For a brief moment, I was sad I didn’t live in Winnipeg. That feeling soon passed – Winnipeg might be my least-favourite city – but I enjoyed it for its novelty.

For those wondering, the Saskatchewan night was hosted by speed skater Catriona LeMay Doan and headlined by Buffy Sainte-Marie and – of course – The Sheepdogs. Always the Sheepdogs.

On the morning of the show, I got up like I was going to work – 5:20 am because I hate myself – and was on the road by 7:00. It’s a six-hour drive to Winnipeg and it flew buy surprisingly quickly. I credit the podcast Reply All. Once in town, I found my way to Kristin’s apartment and we spent an hour trying to convince her cat Beatrix to pay attention to me. This was pleasant if largely unsuccessful. Eventually, we gave up on this futile endeavour and went to check into my hotel. The hotel was close to the concert, had ample parking, was clean enough, and the people were nice. A success by my low standards.

At this point, it was around 4:30 and we were a short walk to the festival grounds. And as fate would have it, there was a Zapdos raid on the way. Now, if you aren’t a Pokémon GO player, then you don’t need to know about the phenomena of raid battles and legendary Pokémon. This puts you in the same boat as Kristin. I, meanwhile, was thrilled to get in on a Zapdos raid so quickly after its launch and even more thrilled to catch the thing on my first try, all while trying to explain to Kristin what was going on and why dozens of Pokémon players had suddenly converged on one spot.

Once in the park, we took a walk to orient ourselves, by which I mean I quickly lead us out of the park on the (successful) hunt for a second Zapdos. Finally, we found a patch of grass in the shade near the Indigenous arts market and settled in to listen to William Prince and Sierra Noble. I’ve seen Prince before and I really enjoy his songs. This was no exception, though I did wonder why it was billed as William Prince and Sierra Noble when it was really William Prince with a fiddle player and occasional back-up singer. At any rate, this was nice. Then the Royal Winnipeg Ballet came out and did some Irish step dancing. The men were wearing these velour bodysuits that made them look naked and also probably cooked them alive. Does velour retain odours?

When the Ballet was done, we wandered off in search of food. There were a wide range of food trucks by one end of the park, and we settled on the grilled cheese truck. As we waited for our food, we ran into some of Kristin’s friends, one of whom gave me one of the better high-fives I’ve had in some time. My grilled cheese had ham and pineapple; Kristin’s had spinach and red peppers. Most of you would prefer hers and most of you are wrong.

We found a spot on the hill to sit – this was trickier than you might think because it was really starting to get crowded – where we could eat our dinner and listen to the New Meanies. I’d never heard them before but certainly knew of the name – it seemed like they were playing in Saskatoon all the time when I was in university. “The New Meanies are still a thing?!” Mika said, when I told her who was playing. To be honest, I don’t know if they are or aren’t, and probably lots of people said “Crash Test Dummies are still a thing?!” too. Anyway, as far as the New Meanies went, I dug the music. The vocals, though… the lead singer was fine but whenever there was an attempt at harmonies, they were pretty bad. I thought they got better a few songs in but Kristin pointed out that they just weren’t trying harmonies for those songs.

As the hill filled up, it got to a point where it was hard for me to shift to a new position without nearly kicking someone, so we got up and wandered around. The park was full of people, so we threw some elbows to get through the crowd and I bought myself a bottled water and a Diet Coke from the food truck with the shortest line. At the very back of the park, we found some picnic tables and sat at one – and after lots of time on the ground, the picnic table made for some good sitting. We enjoyed it until a wasp showed up, trying to eat some crumbs on the table. I brushed the crumbs onto the ground but the wasp came back looking for it, and then brought reinforcements. It was actually pretty funny – it was like you could hear the first one saying “Seriously, it was right here, help me look for it.” But they’re also stinging angry shitheads, so we wandered back to the stage.

Royal Canoe was playing and I really only have two things to say about Royal Canoe: we mostly didn’t listen to Royal Canoe, and from what I did hear, Royal Canoe might not be my thing. So it goes.

We were getting close to the Crash Test Dummies and it was time to find ourselves a good spot. The standing area in front of the stage was packed for Royal Canoe, and we had high hopes that people would leave in between sets and we could move up. And… this worked? Royal Canoe finished up, and people headed out for drinks and whatnot before the Dummies started. We inched our way to the front, swimming upstream, and wound up only two or three rows of people back, stage left. A great spot.

And then the emcee told us that lightning had been spotted on the radar, and that if it came closer, we should evacuate calmly.

This was pretty much my worst-case scenario. Everything gets called off, but late enough that I’m out all the expenses. And in Winnipeg. But until that happened, they were going to push forward. There’s nothing to worry about until there’s something to worry about, I guess. The stagehands worked at setting up the stage for the Dummies and the orchestra, while we were entertained by a DJ with a wonderful prairie name, DJ Co-op. He kind of looked like Mark Cuban, if Cuban made every decision in his life differently. At one point, he played a Weakerthans song that he mixed with pow wow music and a dubstep beat. It was a thing.

Finally, the Dummies and the orchestra took the stage. No lightning. Never even a hint of it. They launched into God Shuffled His Feet and began what was mostly a greatest hits set (with three songs from their newest album, which is itself now seven years old).

The last time I saw them, about half the show was Brad, Ellen, and Murray, and half also included Dan and Mitch. This time, the whole band played on everything, and the symphony played on about half the songs. The arrangements were nice but not drastic changes – it felt very much the band playing with the orchestra as accompaniment, as opposed to when I’ve seen Ben Folds with the Edmonton Symphony, where everything is reworked with the orchestra in mind.

I took note of the setlist. If you’re not Canadian, you’ll only know one of these. If you are Canadian, and of a certain age, you might recognize around half:

God Shuffled His Feet
The Ghosts That Haunt Me
Swimming in Your Ocean
Androgynous
Put a Face
The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead
In the Days of the Caveman
Songbird
Keep a Lid on Things
Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm
Heart of Stone
Superman’s Song
Encore: Afternoons & Coffeespoons

Not the longest set, but I knew that going in – it was a festival show with start and end times pre-defined. But it was fantastic – the band looked and sounded as good as ever, and they all seemed to be having a great time. Brad, in particular, seemed more genuinely appreciative for the warm reception than I’d seen before.

And they should have been having fun. I mean, I get that this is a weird band for someone to be into, especially in 2017. They’re a one-hit wonder in the US. Even in Canada, they haven’t had a hit song since 1999. But for one more night, they were hometown heroes, playing to a packed crowd of thousands who were excited to be there and sang along with all the hits. I’ve seen the band four times before, but never with an atmosphere like this. I thought this would be a fun concert but it wound up challenging July Talk for my fake-yet-coveted Show Of The Year award.

The band wrapped up, and we hung around the front of the stage for a bit while the crowd thinned out. This process was helped along by fireworks starting the second the concert ended – and they were strategically placed so that you couldn’t really see them with the stage in the way. A unique and clever way to get people to clear out in a hurry. As we waited, Murray Pulver came out to talk to some folks and gave me a big hug when he saw me. We chatted for a little bit and he said I should stick around to talk to everyone else, but I didn’t figure they’d be coming out. And they didn’t, at least not before the security guards started clearing the area of us weirdos who weren’t immediately drawn to the fireworks.

With that, we walked back to the car, past groups of people having the most fascinating conversations. There were inside jokes, dating stories, lyric analysis, all kinds of things. I dropped Kristin off at her place, and became very thankful for the GPS on the drive back to the hotel. I don’t have a good internal compass at the best of times, but without that GPS, I think I’d still be lost in Winnipeg. Or maybe somewhere in Ontario by now. Everything the GPS told me to do was against my instincts and it took me right back to the hotel.

You never know what the future will bring. There’s always a market for nostalgia, but everyone in the band has moved on to post-Dummies activities and I imagine it would be difficult to coordinate future gigs. This show only happened as part of a special event in their hometown. They may never do another show, or they might go on a 25th (ugh, christ) anniversary tour of God Shuffled His Feet next year. Who knows? But if they never play together again, this was an almost perfect way to go out.

I say “almost perfect” because during Afternoons & Coffeespoons, my favourite Dummies song, they got to the part where the harmonica solo should be, and it just wasn’t there. I knew it wouldn’t be a full reunion without Benjamin Darvill, but in that moment, he was especially missed. I don’t know if he chose not to come to this, or if he was ever even asked. Either way, I can’t see him ever playing with them again. I know he’s off doing his own thing, and it’s very different and I really dig it, but still. You know?

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Beck w/McRorie (August 20)
• kd lang w/Kacy & Clayton (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• BA Johnston (September 15)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles (October 24)
• Headstones w/SNAKEandtheCHAIN (November 17)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)

SLCR #288: Queen City Ex (August 3-4, 2017)

When I wrote the big long recap of the Jazz Festival (and, like, a million other things), my intent was to group a bunch of shows together so that I could keep each section relatively short. And I failed miserably. So I can see why you might be leery now. So if you don’t read any of the rest of this, just know that July Talk is now in the lead for Show of the Year in my non-existent year-end awards. So good.

But you should probably read the rest of this because it’s mostly about disgusting delicious fair foods. And I promise I will not start three straight sentences with “so” again in this. (But six straight sentences starting with conjunctions, on the other hand…)

The Queen City Ex is our local fair. Rides, contests, garbage food, bands, you know the deal. Despite what the title above might indicate, it runs for five days. We only went for two, cherry-picking solid lineups for our visits: July Talk with The Zolas on Thursday, and a double-bill of The Watchmen and I Mother Earth on Friday. This left us skipping (in order) Gord Bamford with Nice Horse, Ruth B with Christian Hudson, and Brett Kissel with hypnotist Wayne Lee and why is a hypnotist opening for a country singer? Too late to find out now even if I wanted to. And I don’t really want to.

Thursday was not only our first day at the fair, but it was also Mika’s birthday. I took her to a place with next to no gluten-free options and she got to watch me eat stuff she would have enjoyed, and then we saw a band I really like. Don’t ever say that I don’t know how to treat my wife on her special day.

As we both had to work on Thursday, we got to the fair fairly (oh man that’s some good comedy) late. We strolled around and pondered our food options while searching for the Great Western Stage, which was not where we remembered it. After making our way from one end of the Ex to the other, we checked our little map to discover that they’d moved it into the Brandt Centre. Seating! Air conditioning! No chance of getting rained out (as happened to the July Talk show at the Edmonton fair)! This was a pretty decent deal. And I suppose it makes sense – during our last fair visit two years ago, you didn’t have to deal with the giant new stadium on the fairgrounds.

The Thursday night openers were The Zolas and we got there just in time for them to begin. I knew one song, Swooner, but the rest of their stuff was new to me. Mika, however, was surprised to discover how many of their songs she’d heard – I gather they’re CBC Radio 3 favourites. Pop-rock, heavy on the keyboards and made me feel like I might be just a bit too old to really get into them, though the singer gained some bonus points by getting everyone to clap along to a song and then saying “now keep doing that until it’s awkward.” I mean, that’s what we do, but I’d never heard it spelled out so plainly before. These guys were fun enough, though they were probably my least-favourite set of the two nights. But that shouldn’t be taken as a knock – they were just up against some stiff competition.

Between sets, we headed back out onto the midway in an attempt to give ourselves coronaries. We were both saddened to discover that the nacho truck from our last fair visit was nowhere to be found. Tasty warm homemade chips with fresh toppings, right by the entrance to the Great Western Stage. You were too beautiful to live, nacho truck. Mika eventually found a place that made fries and didn’t fry anything else, so she could eat them. And they were good, but they’re not as ridiculous as you want from the fair, you know?

However, as mentioned, I had my pick of absolute crap. Last time, I started with a corndog and realized that I don’t like corn dogs as much as I think I do. This time, I went back for the corndogs, but with a twist – they stuck a dill pickle in there too. The perfect solution. I also got something called “bacon pickle balls” but they turned out to be just smaller pickle corn dogs that had an infinitesimal amount of bacon in there somewhere. Still good.

We made our way back to the Brandt Centre for July Talk. I first heard of them when the AV Club had the premiere of their video for Summer Dress, and – for reasons unknown to me – I actually bothered to watch the thing instead of skipping it like I do most web videos. (Sorry, people who ever send me links to anything.) I really dug it, which is not something I say about new bands these days because I am a miserable old fart who is set in his ways. And then I liked their album. And then their new album. So I was looking forward to this, was my point.

We’d sat in the stands for The Zolas, but moved down to the floor for July Talk, passing Mark and Arlette on the way down. The crowd for The Zolas was pretty respectable, but it had to be at least double that for July Talk. Sometimes good things become popular and that is rad!

The band took the stage and started by welcoming “ladies, gentlemen, trans, non-binary and genderfluid folk” before acknowledging that we were on Treaty 4 land. And then they blew the roof off the place. They played Summer Dress two songs in and I thought that would be the highlight for me but then it just kept getting better. Ridiculous levels of energy all night long. Two very different singers, with Leah Fay’s sultry vocals providing a sharp contrast to Peter Dreimanis’ guttural rasp. Great, catchy songs. Great musicians. Charismatic performers. This was the kind of show that made me want to tell everyone I know that they should have been there. I did text that to some of you. Not sorry.

At one point, Fay walked out into the crowd and asked everyone on the floor to sit down, and they all just did it. (I mean, WE didn’t, that floor is kinda nasty – but we were also far enough back so as to remain somewhat inconspicuous.) And then she rode back to the stage on a fan’s shoulders. She asked his name and he was the most excited Bob you ever did hear.

And then the encore. A fan threw something onto the stage. I couldn’t see what, but I assumed it was a stuffed animal, since we’re at the fair and all (even though most of the prizes were either Pokémon plushies or fidget spinners as far as I could tell). But no. Fay picked it up and said “If there’s one thing I’ve learned about being in a band, you never give the people what they want right away. But I like you.” And she put on a rubber horse mask. And Fay and Dreimanis did a song together – the only one all night with just the two of them – with her in this horse mask. I use the word “ridiculous” a lot, and this was, but it is just as true to say it was amazing. Then Horse Fan (she had a name but that is not relevant right now) got to come up on stage and dance with the band for the last song. In the horse mask.

This ruled. This all ruled. The horse mask was just the icing on the cake. Horse icing. It cost $37 to get into the fair (two adults at $15 each, plus one car at $7) and I would have paid more than that for one ticket to July Talk and it would have been a deal. Go see them.

We ran into Mark and Arlette again on the way out – by which I mean I saw them leaving and chased after them – and we got to chat for a bit. Then with the show over, we set out to make some more bad decisions. Mika got a lemonade (again, tame by fair standards) while I went for the more ridiculous deep fried cookie dough. It was pretty good. Then I packed up my regrets and we went home, ready to do it all over again the next day.

Sometimes people ask me “how’s work?” and all you need to know is that on Thursday before the concert, I went from “I can come in this weekend” to “I’m taking tomorrow off because everything’s so broken that I can’t do anything” in the span of about 15 minutes. So I had Friday off, which was nice and restful. It let me prepare myself for another day of punishing my eardrums and my stomach.

Speaking of which, on Thursday, we discovered that one of the BBQ places was selling corn on the cob coated in Flammin’ [sic] Hot Cheetos dust. We reported this to Jeff and he had a day to build this up in his mind. By the time we got to the fair on Friday, he was already there, had already eaten the Flammin’ Hot Cheetos corn, and reported that it lived up to his imagination. Mika tried to have some too, but they misheard her order and gave her regular corn instead. She also got some blue slushie drink. Again, good but not fair-worthy craziness.

I, on the other hand, took my time to find the ideal monstrosity for dinner, and found the perfect combination of ridiculous and a short line – the bacon-wrapped foot-long hot dog topped with macaroni and cheese. With the optional fried onions, for… vitamins. Or fiber or something. Antioxidants? This was as delicious as it was challenging to eat. I wound up with mac and cheese on my nose and my hat. Not surprised. Didn’t care. Worth it.

We made our way to the Brandt Centre for the Watchmen, stopping to sample some apple whiskey on the way in. Not bad.

This was the only night where the two bands were given equal billing, though in essence, the Watchmen were opening. We debated whether the Watchmen or I Mother Earth should have gone on last, with Jeff firmly on the side of the Watchmen. I wasn’t sold on this. I mean, I know way more Watchmen songs than I Mother Earth songs, and having seen both bands recently, I liked the Watchmen better, but I figured that was just me. I Mother Earth just seem like the bigger band to me. And I was way wrong. There were tons of people in there for the Watchmen, on par with the crowd for July Talk. They opened with Boneyard Tree and closed with Stereo – in between, you got most of the singles you’d want (Incarnate, Any Day Now, All Uncovered, Absolutely Anytime and more) with some interesting covers, including The Only Living Boy in New York by Simon and Garfunkel and part of Superman by R.E.M.. This was a great set.

I’m writing this weeks after the fact. I think we got dessert between Watchmen and I Mother Earth, but I could be wrong. Maybe it was before? Who cares, if I’m wrong, only two people will know and they can write their own reviews if they’re so concerned about historical accuracy. Either way, I had red velvet mini donuts and Jeff got an Oreo churro. The mini donut people got my donuts from somewhere behind their stand. I don’t know where or why. I didn’t really want to know.

Having seen I Mother Earth last year, I realized that I only know one of their songs and also I only have so much interest in guitar solos. This show didn’t really change my opinion. That song was good! And the guitar solos were well done and all, but I can only care to a degree. I called this set “very good but not entirely my thing.” And I love this format of cramming tons of shows into one review because I can stop there, but I do need to mention that the crowd for I Mother Earth was shockingly smaller than it was for the Watchmen. At one point near the end of the set, I turned around and realized how bad it would look if they turned up the lights. They had maaaaaaybe half the crowd that the Watchmen did.

As soon I Mother Earth was over, Mika went to the bathroom and Jeff left, which was a real shame. The leaving part, I mean, not the bathroom part. Because if Jeff had left the arena with us, he’d have been treated to one lady’s rant about people bringing their fuckin’ kids to loud concerts and it’s not good for their hearing and you should get a fuckin’ babysitter or else just suck it the fuck up and don’t come – made all the better when I realized that some guy and his kids were 10 feet behind us. Then I got a caramel apple because I never learn anything.

The Rest Of July

My last post here was on July 16, when I mentioned I would be taking a break from writing here (though I’m trying to still read and comment on your blogs). That was only two weeks ago, I know, but I thought I’d round up July… and it turns out not much has happened. Well, life has happened, we’ve been running four nights a week to various kids events (soccer [football, for our UK Readers], swim, etc), and working, of course. We got to the beach, that was nice. I had a birthday, for which I was surprised with a visit from friends and family (which I loved). I also got an Amazon gift card, which I’ve spent a million times already without actually hitting Place Order haha. One day I’ll actually order stuff, but right now it’s too much fun window shopping. Oh, and I got the Rolling Stones DVD of Olé Olé Olé: A Trip Across Latin America, which is the companion/run-up to the Havana Moon DVD I got a while back. I do love me some Stones.

One day, recently, my iTunes coughed up an amazing playlist. I hit Random on my entire collection [50,800 items, 140.7 days, 191.39GB] and this is what I got:

Izzy Stradlin – Shuffle It All
Hawksley Workman – Remember Our Wars
Guided By Voices – My Zodiac Companion
Blue Rodeo – Two Tongues
Robert Pollard – Into It
Jane’s Addiction – Strays
Pearl Jam – The Fixer
Wilco – Jesus, Etc.
Nightwatchman – The Lights Are On In Spidertown
Brent Hinds – Highwaters
Goober Patrol – Part Time SF Ecologist
Stone Sour – Your God
John Lee Hooker – The Motor City Is Burning
Accept – Teutonic Terror
Hope Blister – Sweet Unknown
Delta 72 – I Feel Fine
Stevie Ray Vaughan – Wall Of Denial
Marillion – Hope For The Future
Vandals – Moving Up
Girls Vs. Boys – Kill The Sexplayer
Me First And The Gimme Gimmes – Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me
Rick White – I Don’t See You
Eric Clapton – Lead Me On
Red Hot Chili Peppers – This Velvet Glove
Queensryche – Breaking The Silence
Watchmen – Anything But That
Ozzy Osbourne – Spiders
Heavy Trash – She Baby
Danny Michel – Feather, Fur & Fin
Dio – Hungry For Heaven
Live – Dance With You

It was a little disjointed in places, mix-wise (John Lee Hooker into Accept? Sure!), but overall a super-cool collection of tunes.

Otherwise… We’re booked to go to Taranna for a couple of days in September, near our wedding anniversary, so my lovely wife can go to a work-related conference on the brain. Me, I’m gonna look for records, of course. I’ll have two whole days in the downtown, free to do as I please while she’s in conference, and then we’ll have evenings together to go wherever she wants to go. That’s gonna be awesome.

And that’s about it. I may do a round up of August, in early September. Right now I don’t forsee any new reviews or content from me for the next month. That could change, but I doubt it. This break is good on many levels.

Hope you’re having a great summer. Stay cool.

SLCR #287: Bob Dylan (July 15, 2017)

This was a show that almost didn’t happen. I mean, for me. Which is essentially the same as it not happening at all, right? I mean, you likely weren’t there either. I didn’t see you there, anyway. If Bob Dylan performs a concert and several thousand people see it but they aren’t you or me, did it really happen?

This review also nearly didn’t happen because I’ve spent all of my computer time downloading wrestlers for Fire Pro Wrestling Returns, but that’s an understandable thing. You all know what it’s like when people are waiting for you to talk about concert-adjacent nonsense and you’re torn, trying to decide which Brutus Beefcake is the right Brutus Beefcake for you.

But yeah. I saw Dylan once before, back in 2002. While I enjoyed that show, I wasn’t sure that I needed to see him again. I’ve passed up his concerts here in town before, in fact. But Bob’s getting up there – coincidentally, we’re both 15 years older now – and I do like the guy, so as this show drew closer, it started to feel more and more like something I’d like to see. A week out, I checked tickets and I was able to get fifth row, dead centre. I don’t know if I just got lucky or if they repriced some unsold tickets from premium tiers. Either way, good deal for me.

Before I bought my ticket, I texted Mika to see if she wanted to come along. She said she didn’t but would go if I wanted the company. And I love her company, but I didn’t feel like paying an extra $100 to drag her to something that she wouldn’t enjoy. I told her this and she sent me the saddest gif of a crying cartoon rabbit.

Fun fact: you can tell how work is going by how many concert tickets I buy. When work is dead, I get bored and browse the internet and buy concert tickets. When work is crazy, I decide I need to treat myself. There’s a sweet spot in between where I’m busy but not TOO busy where I shop a lot less. That’s as stupid as it is true.

After Mika and I had dinner, I headed out to Moose Jaw, bravely battling my own dumb tendency to show up several hours early. I timed things well and got there with ten minutes to spare. Fine work, me. I picked up my ticket at the Will Call window and walked in past dozens of signs warning us to not record anything or take pictures of anything or use our phones at all. I had to show my ticket to get to my floor seat and got this spiel directly from one of the ushers, who asked me to just turn my phone all the way off entirely. I did not do this. But I also didn’t record anything or take any pictures; it’s 2017 and all but if someone cares that much, whatever. Instagram will survive without my blurry snaps and we all know what Bob Dylan looks like anyway.

My seat was great, apart from its proximity to the rest of them. Whoever laid out the floor seats at Mosaic Place once sat in the middle seat on an airplane, loved it, and wanted to share his joy with others. I’d like him to contract dick cancer.

A nice thing about Dylan’s obsessive fan base is that within minutes of the show ending, a complete setlist was up on the internet:

Things Have Changed
Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right
Highway 61 Revisited
Why Try to Change Me Now (Cy Coleman cover)
Summer Days
Make You Feel My Love
Duquesne Whistle
Melancholy Mood (Frank Sinatra cover)
Stormy Weather (Harold Arlen cover)
Pay in Blood
Once Upon a Time (Tony Bennett cover)
Tangled Up in Blue
Early Roman Kings
Desolation Row
Soon After Midnight
That Old Black Magic (Johnny Mercer cover)
Long and Wasted Years
Autumn Leaves (Yves Montand cover)
—the-dashes-mean-that-this-was-where-we-clapped-before-the-encore—
Blowin’ in the Wind
Ballad of a Thin Man

A solid lineup of tunes, though a relatively short night – done in just over 90 minutes – and from looking online, it looks like he’s playing mostly the same show every night. I can see where this would be disappointing to some people; part of the appeal of going to multiple shows on the same tour was that you never knew how he’d mix things up, or when he’d play some song for the first time since 1974 because he felt like it.

So I said earlier that “I wasn’t sure that I needed to see him again.” And this show got a bad review in the local paper, much to the delight of my Dylan-hating father. And the two people sitting to my left took off about five songs in, with one person (who didn’t seem to care much in the first place) saying to the other, “yeah, I can see why you’d be disappointed if it wasn’t what you were expecting.” I’m sorry they had a bad time but I enjoyed their shoulder room and butt room.

The thing is, Bob Dylan is Bob Dylan and a Bob Dylan concert is its own thing. The ticket said the show was going to start at 8:00 and it did, right down to the second. Last time I saw Dylan, the only words he said to the audience all night were “Ladies and gentlemen, here’s my band!” This time, not even that. He sang and we may as well have not been there. Bob Dylan isn’t real interested in you and you’re okay with that or you’re not. Some of the arrangements were very different from the recordings, to the point that it took quite a while to recognize some songs, even familiar ones. And his voice – you might love it, you might hate it (this seems to be much more likely, outside of a small but vocal group of my internet pals), but it is what it is. It may have become rougher over the years, but I can’t see where you’d have liked it 20 years ago and hated it now.

I guess I’m saying it all comes down to your expectations. I got pretty much exactly the show I thought I’d get and I liked it a lot. I can see why someone else might not, though. Which makes them wrong. But that’s okay.

Can we at least all agree that the band was really good? And Dylan spent much of the time playing piano and he seemed really into that. I even saw him smiling a few times, which was weird and didn’t fit with my mental image of him. No wonder we weren’t allowed to take pictures.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• July Talk (August 3)
• I Mother Earth and The Watchmen (August 4)
• Crash Test Dummies & the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (August 7)
• Beck (August 20)
• kd lang w/Kacy & Clayton (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles (October 24)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)

The Passing Of A Friend

Our neighbour Don passed away in the wee hours of Friday night. Sure, he was pushing 90 years old, and his body was riddled with cancer (among other health issues), but it doesn’t make it suck any less.

We moved into this house four years ago, and our neighbours adopted us – as older couples whose own kids live far away will do when a younger family moves onto the street. We went back and forth, they made a fuss over the kids, they’d watch our cat while we were on holidays, I’d always clear their lane of snow every winter… and then we’d have play fights over whether or not they should pay me for doing the work (I always won, because of course they should never pay me for that. I love being outside in the winter, so they’re doing me a favour). Months ago, Don gave me a bottle of whiskey. His chemo wouldn’t allow him to drink it, and he wanted me to have it. I haven’t opened it, and I doubt I will. Well, maybe some day.

Anyway, it’s a tough time for the family and the neighbourhood, even though we all knew it was coming. It was a long, slow decline for him, hard to watch. And it’s only adding to my own little reorganization here. You’ve maybe noticed I haven’t posted much in the last little while. A wee bit ago, I’d texted James to say I was thinking of taking the summer off from blogging. I was running out of steam. I’d just started that All The Everything series and it is (admittedly) very daunting. You’d just have to see the Man Cave’s contents to think I was nuts for even starting. James’ perfect response was “meh, just post when you want.” Good advice, as it is what he does in these pages.

I turn 43 years old in a couple of weeks (I am quickly coming to the end of my year of being the answer to life, the Universe and everything), and I was reflecting back on having done this blog for nigh on eleven years. It’s a labour of love and fun and great tunes and experiences and the building up of an awesome community and it’s cool. But for now I’ll read all your posts (likely at the weekends over coffee, mostly). I’ll rest for a bit, focus elsewhere… jam tunes for the sake of pleasure, not for how I’ll write about them. Chase the kids (and my lovely wife), do some work on the house, create, breathe… I’ve done this before, and I know I’ve said hiatuses are for chumps (they are), but here I am.

R.I.P. Don. The last few months were a true struggle of pain and worry, but hopefully now he can have some peace. And I’ll still be here, moreso as a Reader, for now. Some day, surely, I’ll be filling these pages with gibbering once again. Until then, see you in the Comments.

SLCR #282: Amanda Marshall (June 23, 2017)

For all the concerts I go to, it’s a little ridiculous that it took me 31 years to finally attend the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival. I suppose it makes sense if you figure that aside from knowing that jazz plus jazz equals jazz, I don’t know what the jazz is all about. But much the same way that our Folk Festival includes rock, country, hip-hop, and much more, the Jazz Festival is really just a jazz festival in name only.

The initial draw for me was the chance to see Son of Dave for the first time in 17 years. I saw him on his first solo tour on April 18, 2000, and haven’t made it to a show since. He lives in the UK now and doesn’t tour Canada much, though he does occasional gigs in Winnipeg (where he’s from) and I’ve had tickets to those shows on at least two occasions, but work or something always got in the way.

And then – THEN – Hawksley Workman retweets some rando saying he can’t wait for Hawksley’s show at the Jazz Festival. I’m not sure if Hawksley was a late addition or if I’m just slipping in my old age, but I missed his name on the lineup page. I excitedly check the schedule… and he’s playing on the same Saturday night as Son of Dave. I curse the fates. But wait! Hawksley is on from 8:00 to 9:30. Son of Dave starts at 10:30! I LOVE the fates. The fates are awesome. Heck yeah, fates, you’re okay by me.

I had tickets to Serena Ryder in Regina for Sunday night, so I had to head home early, but I checked the rest of the schedule to see who was playing on the Friday night, and Amanda Marshall was headlining the main stage. I hadn’t heard any Amanda Marshall songs in years, but I was immediately intrigued. I don’t know if her name will ring a bell for any non-Canadians reading this, but Marshall was HUGE in Canada for a little under a decade. Her first album came out in 1995 and was basically all hits, and her third (and thus far, last) was released in 2001. After that, she basically disappeared. And I don’t mean “got less popular,” I mean she vanished. No new music, no tours, no online presence. Wikipedia makes vague reference to legal issues that started when she fired her management team in the early 2000s, but whatever the cause, it was kind of remarkable for someone that famous to disappear so thoroughly. I mean, I know Alanis Morissette isn’t as big a star now as she was 20 years ago, but I’m sure she has a website, right?

Over time, Marshall eventually resurfaced for infrequent performances, but even now, there’s very little to indicate that she’s actively working. Her Wikipedia page notes a radio interview where she said she hoped to have a new CD out in 2013. It hasn’t arrived yet. I decided that I had to go see this show because how often is this opportunity going to come around again? And besides, I’d never seen her before.

Or hadn’t I? I drove to Saskatoon early Friday morning, stopping only for a quick visit with my pal Garth before skipping town. Garth is my chiropractor, and about a week before, Mika said “you haven’t had any problems with your back in a long time,” so you know I was doomed. But really, it wasn’t so bad – just kind of stiff feeling – and Garth loosened me up. Plus, when I listed off who I was going to see at the Jazz Festival, he was oddly excited for Hawksley Workman. That was as delightful as it was unexpected.

I got sidetracked, so let me try this again. Or hadn’t I? On the drive in to town, Deserée texted to ask if we’d seen Amanda Marshall years ago. I had been sure all along that I hadn’t, but I immediately started second-guessing myself. Some research showed that she played Saskatoon on June 23, 1999 – or exactly 18 years to the day before the Jazz Festival show. Thanks to these old reviews, I know I wasn’t there, but by remembering how Marshall moved around on stage, it’s safe to say Dez was.

After lunch with Dave, I drove around Saskatoon, hitting record stores, buying nothing, and marveling at how much has changed. I don’t come to town much anymore and 8th Street and Midtown Plaza are both nearly unrecognizable.

I made my way to Josy and Anna’s house, where I’d be spending the weekend. With a little time before the weekend of music would begin in earnest, Josy and I set out on a Pokémon GO walk, since we’re the only people left still playing it. The River Landing area of Saskatoon is new since I lived there and it’s quite nice, if currently buggy.

Back to the house and their son wanted me to read him a book. He brought over The Book of Facts, which doesn’t exactly have a lot of story to it, but that’s not the point. One time he wanted me to read him a story. I told him that I couldn’t read and I made up a story based on pictures (after first claiming to believe that his book was a Domino’s Pizza ad) and now that’s just a thing we do. He doesn’t really believe that I’m illiterate anymore but I still keep kayfabe, so to show him that my reading had improved, I had to get something close to right. That’s how The Book of Facts became The Big Book of Farts. From there, I didn’t really need to do much – he ran with the premise (the premise being “farts”) and I just kind of supervised.

Eventually, it was time to pick Deserée up and head downtown for Amanda Marshall. We knew the show was sold out and that seating would be at a premium, so with an 8:00pm start time, we figured that we’d need to be there by 7:30.

hahahahahahaha we’re dumb, look at us, we’re really dumb

What followed was a series of events that I can’t say I didn’t anticipate, but the scope of them was far beyond me. First was parking. Downtown Saskatoon is notorious for not having a ton of parking at the best of times. Long before I moved away, I can remember six-block walks to go see a movie. And those movies weren’t in downtown parks that don’t normally host anything beyond vagrants and sparrows. The short version is that we tried to get a good spot, failed, then circled out wider and wider until we’d doubled back to a ridiculous degree. I feel like there’s a funnier way to say this but maybe “we parked far away” isn’t the anecdote gold it originally seemed.

With more time spent parking and a longer-than-expected walk to the park, we got there later than we wanted. Luckily, we had brought our nice lawn chairs with us so we could relax and enjoy the show. Unluckily, there was no place left to park a chair. This place was packed. I later learned that a sellout, for the Jazz Festival main stage, is 3,500 people. I don’t doubt this. And you could probably seat 3,500 people there given uncomfortably cramped arena seating. But when you let people bring their own reasonably sized chairs and space them a reasonable distance from each other, that space gets filled up pretty quickly.

Ultimately, we shoved a recycling bin to one side and put our chairs next to it. This put us behind the main walkway at the back of the park, which was far from ideal, but was as good as we were going to manage. It could have been worse; other people eventually came and sat behind us. Others showed up with chairs, saw the situation, and left.

“Why are we taking our chairs back to the car?” asked one mother.

“‘CUZ THERE’S NO PLACE TO PUT THEM” said her kid.

Now. I don’t know if this reads funny to you. Maybe you had to be there. Maybe you had to see – or more importantly, hear – these two folks. The mother sounded like she’d just woken up in a gutter. The son’s voice was 50% the squeaky-voiced teen from The Simpsons, 50% a literal demon. It was amazing. We did impressions of them all night long.

Our openers were Regina Folk Festival favourite blues-rockers The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer. As they were unarmed during this performance, I don’t know which was which. Also, I’m pretty sure there were at least four people on stage. I don’t know if the other two are killers too. Maybe The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer & The Climate Change Denier & The Guy Who Refuses To Vaccinate His Kids is too long to fit on the marquee?

I can’t really tell you much about this set because we were so far back, and people were using that walkway as a place to stand and watch the show, so we really couldn’t see anything. Even the big screens were mostly blocked from our view. All of these extracurriculars made it pretty hard for me to pay any attention. I will say that Dez and I were in agreement that they sounded good and we’d both like to see them again sometime under better conditions. Luckily for me, they seem to play Regina fairly regularly.

Okay. Up until now it had not been the best experience. If I ever come back to a mainstage show at the Jazz Festival, I’ll know that you have to be there waiting for the gates to open if you want a shot at seeing the show. I can’t even get mad at all the yahoos standing directly in front of us. It’s kind of a dick move, but we’re all just trying to see the show we paid for and there really isn’t enough space for the number of tickets they’d sold. I get that. Though I will take a certain joy in knowing that the one guy who stood in front of us forever went around all evening with his fly down. Enjoy the breeze, Mr. White Jeans.

For Amanda Marshall, I gave up on the chairs and went and stood with the other yahoos. If you can’t beat ’em until they fall over and get out of your way, join ’em.

I had joked, before the show, that I’d once thought Amanda Marshall had died. I know now that she is, in fact, still alive. The new theory I’m going with is that around 2002, she fell into a time portal. 2017 Amanda Marshall sounds the same and looks the same (and has the same hair, much to everyone’s delight) and this time portal theory makes a lot of sense to me – though I’m open to the possibility that she may be a robot. That would work too. Someone else suggested she’d been kept in cryogenic stasis for the past 15 years but that sounds pretty silly to me.

Anyway, I wasn’t at that Amanda Marshall show 18 years before, but I’d have to think this experience wasn’t all that different. Like I said, she hasn’t missed a step. This was very much a greatest hits show – there were only a handful of songs I didn’t recognize all night. It was a bit like Bryan Adams, where Mika and I thought “okay, we heard all the singles, what’s left but Cuts Like a Knife” and then he’d play hit after hit that we’d forgotten about. Except in this case we were waiting for Birmingham (though I bet she could kill Cuts Like a Knife if she really wanted to), which was the closer. The encore was Let It Rain. The only single we noticed missing was Everybody’s Got a Story, much to the dismay of the loud drunk dude behind us who yelled quite loudly for it.

Marshall came across like a really likeable person. She joked about her trademark giant hair and she joked about her absence (though never explained it), and seemed truly appreciative to get such a warm reception after so many years. And she was beloved – I read news stories about the show that talked to fans who flew in from Alberta and BC to see this. Though I don’t know that anyone loved her as much as that drunk guy.

Though it was funny – you know how you go see a band, and they play the first few notes of a big hit, and everyone recognizes it and cheers? Well, because Marshall has been out of the spotlight for so long, she’d start playing a song and when people recognized it, instead of cheering, you could hear 3,500 people all say “oh!” in unison. Like we’d all forgotten Fall From Grace was a thing and we all remembered it at once.

Despite less than ideal conditions – apart from the park being packed, it was also unseasonably chilly – this was a delightful show and you should go see Amanda Marshall if you get the chance. I mean, you likely won’t get the chance, but if she falls through the time portal somewhere near you, I recommend it.

Afterwards, we packed up our neglected chairs and made the long trek back to the car. I picked up some snacks, dropped Dez off at home, and got back to Josy’s house much later than anticipated. We had a little time to visit before I crashed out. I plugged my phone in, with a cord that was a little too short to be convenient (this will matter later), and briefly perused the internet before falling asleep. This seemed like such a good idea that I did it for most of the morning too – wake up, look at phone, pass out, repeat. This went on for so long that I didn’t get up until almost 11:00.

Eventually I staggered back into the land of the living. I made Josy make me burgers and we went to the University to look around and chase more Pokémon. This didn’t work out so well – my foot was killing me and the weather didn’t cooperate. We spent most of our time inside, avoiding a rainstorm. Eventually, we headed back to his place so I could turn around and go back out.

SLCR #283: Hawksley Workman (June 24, 2017)

See, my idea was to do the whole Jazz Festival as one review, like the Folk Festival, so I could keep each individual segment nice and short. And I suppose I should fess up: that didn’t happen. At all. This thing is huge. I’d have told you up front but you’d never have read this. Now you’re stuck here and you need to see how this ends. It’s brilliant, really.

After dealing with the crowds the night before, Dez and I had decided that we needed to get to the free stage nice and early for Hawksley. We also made plans to meet Jenn and Nicholas for Jamaican food beforehand. These two things combined resulted in us eating at “senior time,” as Nicholas aptly put it. But who among us hasn’t eaten Jamaican curry at 4:30 in the afternoon? And fantastic Jamaican curry at that.

We finished with dinner and headed out. The rain had left and it was delightfully hot and sunny. Three of us headed right to the park while Nicholas went home for a quick nap to recover from the afternoon’s Pride parade. I found a better parking spot this time, and we got a quality patch of lawn to plant our chairs, so that was very exciting. Or at least pleasant. Mostly pleasant.

The day’s free stage events were a cross-promotion between Saskatoon Pride and the Jazz Festival. I checked out the schedule and apart from headliner Hawksley, I didn’t recognize any names. We arrived in time to see most of Catey Shaw’s set – which at an hour, she said was the longest of her career – and we all really liked her. Fun singer-songwriter pop, and Shaw seemed very personable. I’ve since checked out more of her songs and maybe you should do the same?

Somewhere in here, Reagan showed up and Nicholas returned. I wandered away to get a drink, eventually settling on some ridiculously good fresh lemonade (and some kettle corn, because kettle corn). When returning to my chair, I had a moment of “where are we sitting again?” that was quickly alleviated because Nicholas was wearing a rainbow striped cowboy hat that matched his rainbow striped tank top and rainbow striped glitter beard. He was hard to miss, is what I’m saying. It’s hard to stand out at Pride but he managed quite well. He’d also offered to glitter up my beard (you use a glue stick and hairspray) (and glitter) (duh) and I was sorely tempted, but I didn’t think I could put Josy’s pillows through that.

There were some drag queens performing between Shaw and Hawksley and – I say this with the utmost respect to my wife and my family and my friends and I hope you understand where I’m coming from here – I can only hope that one day I will love anyone or anything as much as Nicholas loved these drag queens. It was amazing to see. And hear. Mostly to hear.

So, Hawksley. This was my 20th Hawksley show and by now, I know how this works. When he takes a full band on tour, he digs through his back catalogue and plays a whole bunch of weirdo songs that probably don’t do much for a lot of people but that I love. When he’s just playing one-off shows here and there, he has about 25 regular songs that he draws from. This was one of those shows. I’m not complaining – I thought this was great. Of course I would.

Plus there were some interesting twists in terms of the band that made this a unique show, at least in terms of the ones I’ve seen. I’ve seen Derrick Brady play bass for Hawksley many times, and I think Brad Kilpatrick on drums as well. Mr. Lonely’s absence was conspicuous and he was missed, though Hawksley filled in on keyboards, which I hadn’t seen before. And Jackie Mohr (of The Mohrs, a band I’ve totally heard of and know nothing about) was on guitar, which also presented the opportunity for female backing vocals on some songs that don’t normally have them. Or vocals that were, like, five times louder than Hawksley on the first song – but the sound folks got that sorted out in short order.

I took notes during the show so here’s a full setlist:

• We Will Still Need a Song [this was an all-ages show, so he started with “Baby, you’re drunk” instead of the usual “Fuck you, you’re drunk”]
• The City is a Drag [an extended version where he also sang part of Karma Chameleon and a bit of We Built This City]
• We’re Not Broken Yet
• Warhol’s Portrait of Gretzky [this was the “pretty bloody sexy” version]
• Teenage Cats
• It’s Really Starting to Snow
• Or Maybe a Boat
• someone called out for Claire Fontaine and he did the first few lines
• Goodbye to Radio
• Jealous of Your Cigarette
• Your Beauty Must Be Rubbing Off
• Oh You Delicate Heart
• Safe and Sound
• he started Autumn’s Here but decided against it
• Beautiful and Natural
• Smoke Baby [it sounded like there was a bit of Wicked Game thrown in there, but I couldn’t hear well enough to be certain]
—encore—
• Don’t Be Crushed

So no real surprises, but a fine set. Of course, Hawksley spent lots of time talking to the crowd, and everything was very Saskatoon-centric. He talked about his first shows at Louis’ Pub and moving up to the Broadway Theatre, though he seemed to hold a special spot in his heart for Amigo’s. I don’t remember him ever playing Amigo’s (apart from one show with Mounties a few years ago that I was too sick to attend), but he really wanted all of us to go swimming in the river after his show, and we should all swim over to Amigo’s. But we had to be careful doing it. “Safety third? No. Safety first? Yes.”

As soon as the show was over, I was out of there – I had about an hour to get back to the car and make my way to Amigo’s. Nicholas helped me tote my lawn chairs back to the car before heading home to touch up his glitter. The others went for poutine. I was very much looking forward to Son of Dave but I did have a touch of poutine envy.

SLCR #284: Son of Dave (June 24, 2017)

I made it to Amigo’s with time to spare, got myself a cider, and grabbed a seat by myself up at the front and off to the side. There weren’t a ton of people there, though I was delighted to see anyone at all. That first Son of Dave show back in 2000 was pretty sparsely attended. By that, I mean – without exaggeration – there were more people there who paid to see me than to see the band. I had my table of friends who were there on my recommendation, and there was one guy who worked at the local community radio station, and that was about it. Other stops on that tour were about as well-attended. His previous band had garnered a lot of fame but it didn’t carry over to his (very different) solo project. It was a pretty difficult time for him, but he’s done well for himself since then, and it’s been really gratifying to watch him go from busking in London to regular tours and having songs in commercials and TV shows like Breaking Bad and Preacher.

Because this was a Jazz Festival show, it was the rare Amigo’s show that would start on time. I felt like I’d seen a unicorn. Unfortunately, Son of Dave’s set was scheduled to go short – only 45 minutes – because he was the opening act for Reverend Raven & the Chainsmoking Altar Boys. He had a longer set scheduled at the free stage on Sunday evening, but I needed to be back in Regina by then as we had bought those tickets to Serena Ryder long before finding out about this.

It’s really hard to not shorten Son of Dave to just Dave. But he’s not Dave. That’s his dad. He’s Benjamin.

Anyway. He took the stage right on time, bringing with him a box of harmonicas and a fruit basket that featured a bag of barbecue chips. He later showed this off to the crowd, claiming that it was his rider.

If you were hoping for something more exciting to happen with the fruit basket, sorry – it just seemed worth mentioning since it was a fruit basket with chips, but I maybe should have skipped it since it didn’t play a big role in the evening. Don’t mention the fruit basket unless Son of Dave later kills someone with the fruit basket. Chekhov’s fruit basket.

Son of Dave plays the blues, kind of. He plays harmonica and whatever else he feels like, and he beatboxes and sings and mixes it all on the fly with a sampler. He calls himself a bluesman and you can hear it in his music, but he’s much better suited for a dance party than one would expect from a bluesman. His most recent release is a covers album called Explosive Hits, and that was mostly what he played here. There were some of his originals, like Leave Without Running and Shake a Bone (someone more knowledgeable than me will surely point out that these are old blues songs that I don’t know about), but he played a lot of covers – everything from Tequila to Pump Up the Jam with a little Daft Punk for good measure.

Much as I watched his career progress from that 2000 show to now, you could see him winning over the audience as the evening went on. At the start, everyone stayed back in their seats, which he said was fine, we’d had a hard week and he’d just “do all the fuckin’ work” for us. Then a few fans went up to the front. They were even requesting specific songs of his, which was pretty cool. Over the brief set, they were joined up at the front by more and more people. He showered them with dollar bills and people scrambled for fake money. Eventually, he demanded a conga line, and he got one. This was all great fun and my only complaint was that we didn’t get twice as much of it.

I didn’t stick around for Reverend Raven & the Chainsmoking Altar Boys, so as tradition dictates, I’ll assume they were great. I also didn’t stick around to chat with Benjamin, which I would have liked to do, but it was getting late and I wasn’t sure he was going to come out anyway. Hopefully I’ll get a chance next time, and hopefully that isn’t another 17 years away.

I made my way back to Josy and Anna’s house, where their son was having a sleepover with three friends. I met Anna on the front porch, and we visited for 20 minutes as we mentally prepared ourselves for what awaited inside. But mostly they were just watching a movie and it was pretty reasonable, all things considered. I chatted with Josy and Anna for a while as the kids all passed out. I tiptoed around them on my way up to bed for fear of waking them up and setting them off once more. Again, I read some internet on my phone before falling asleep.

Now, I’d taken over Josy’s son’s room for the duration of my stay. And as I mentioned in the last review (or was it two reviews ago? I forget how this gimmick works and I’m too lazy to scroll up), my phone cord was just a little too short – I could reach the outlet from the bed, but I couldn’t actually set the phone down on the bed – and because of the headboard, there was no convenient place to rest my phone – so I just left my phone hanging over the headboard. The first night, that worked fine. On the second night, not so much. I woke up around 8:00 and my phone was missing. Which sounds like the punchline to a tremendous joke about giant marshmallows (or… something smaller and harder, I guess?) but it was all too real.

“Oh well,” I thought, “it has to be here, no sense worrying about it now.” I got up and went to the bathroom, then laid back down to sleep some more. And of course I couldn’t. I dumped the pillows on the floor. And then all the blankets. Nothing. And then the mattress. Still nothing. There were these slats that supported the mattress, and clearly the phone had fallen through them. And the slats were screwed into the bedframe. There was no removing them.

Luckily, I had also brought my work phone with me, and I could use the Find My iPhone app to track my lost personal phone. I could also use it as a flashlight. The bad news is that I hadn’t charged it and it was down to the dreaded red sliver of battery life. I used the app, and sure enough, the loud ringing (it’s 8:00 a.m.) told me that my personal phone was somewhere under the bed. (Here I discovered that you can’t turn off the ringing without finding the phone and the phone was vibrating loudly too.) The bed has drawers in it, so I figured that was my answer – pull out a drawer and I can reach my phone. I shone my work phone flashlight into the darkness and saw something. I stretched as best as I could to reach it – and found a sock. This phone had mysteriously vanished, except that it was still ringing at me from somewhere in the darkness. I tried moving the bed. No phone – it was moving WITH the bed. And still ringing. And vibrating against my feet – it had fallen into the bedframe somehow.

Jesus, that was three paragraphs just to remind myself to pack the longer phone cord next time. Suffice to say, I eventually got the phone out and silenced it – and dropped my work phone under the bed in the process. I retrieved it, moved the bed back, got the drawer back in, put the mattress back, made the bed, and collapsed into it. This was all so very stupid and I’m pretty sure this anecdote is setting records for its dismal ratio of length vs. quality. IT WAS A BIG DUMB MESS AND IT KEPT GETTING DUMBER AND MORE RIDICULOUS WHEN IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN SUCH AN EASY FIX IS MY POINT

When I finally got up for real, I headed back to Regina in short order so that I’d have plenty of time before the Serena Ryder show. This was not part of the SaskTel Saskatchewan Jazz Festival, though I did see it once referenced as being part of the smaller and seemingly unrelated JazzFest Regina 2017 (my tickets didn’t say it was, but I saw it on the internet somewhere), so sure, let’s go ahead and confuse future me and lump it in here. This thing isn’t long enough yet.

SLCR #285: Serena Ryder (June 25, 2017)

I first saw Ryder in 2003. Hawksley had produced her album, and she was on tour opening for him. I saw her twice more after that in short order – once at the 2004 Regina Folk Festival (with Hawksley and his band as her band), and later that year at a solo show at the Exchange. There were probably around 100 people at that one.

Since then, of course, she’s become a bonafide star with some big hits. She’s playing bigger venues to far more people. And that’s great! I like it when talented folks succeed. That said, my interest had waned over time. As her stuff sounded more produced and took some of the focus away from her voice, I lost some interest. And somehow this led to me not seeing her in concert for 13 years. I cannot fathom this. I mean, it makes sense. I was new to Regina. It may have been the first Regina Folk Festival Concert Series show I ever went to. But 13 years?

I’d like to finish this monstrosity sometime before 2018 is done, so I’ll set aside my existential crisis for now. They announced the concert, I thought “maybe, if I can get good tickets,” and then I was quick on the draw and got front row centre. That’s good enough.

On our way into the Conexus Arts Centre, I ran into my friend Brian, who noted that the crowd was skewed a lot older than he expected. There were lots of white-hair folks in the audience. Neither of us pointed out that he fit that bill too. Or that if you’re going strictly by colour, I’ll be there soon enough.

Mika and I took our seats and killed time before the concert as we often do – by going through our respective Instagrams and showing each other pictures of cute pets. It’s basically a pre-show ritual at this point, and that’s a problem when we have too many shows too close together. You people need to get more cats.

Our openers were local musicians Ava Wild and Scott Pettigrew, who played a very short set. They took turns, each singing lead on 3 or 4 songs. This was folky singer-songwriter stuff, mostly originals but with two covers – Wild sang Tennessee Waltz, and they closed with a duet – Hotel Yorba by the White Stripes. This was only enough to get a taste of each, but it was quite enjoyable and I hope to see them again someday.

Ryder took the stage and immediately started into Stompa, one of her big hits from her previous album. This was one of only three songs that Mika recognized all night, saying that she only knew the songs that they use on football. “Or are football-adjacent,” she added. What I Wouldn’t Do is another one; I don’t watch enough football or ads during football to guess the third and I’m not waking her up to check. Really, I didn’t know many more songs than that either – there weren’t many old songs and those are the ones I know best.

The show was divided into three sections. The first and third had the full band (including two backup singers with amazing shoes), whereas the second was just Ryder and a guitar. I enjoyed her newer stuff – nothing on the show was bad – but the part where it was just her and a guitar was my favourite. It was a lot closer to the shows I remember. Plus it gave her more time to talk to the audience which was always good. She comes across as very down to earth with a great sense of humour.

The real star of the show may have been this “piece of confetti shaped like a leaf” that fell from the ceiling, somehow, and fluttered in the air, taking forever to finally land on the stage. Not only did it distract Ryder mid-song, but she then went in search of it, eventually handing it to an audience member, telling them to pass it to the back in hopes that it would eventually make its way up the balcony and fall on the stage again. It didn’t 😦

One thing I always liked in the old shows was when Ryder would do a few songs a capella; Sing Sing and Melancholy Blue being two favourites. There was nothing like that on this show. I don’t know if that’s been retired for good, or if she just wasn’t doing that now so as to rest her voice. She mentioned that her voice was in rough shape and that she couldn’t sing as high as normal right now. This, of course, is one of those things that I’d have never noticed if she hadn’t said anything, and her voice was always the big selling point for me.

All told, it wasn’t like the shows I remember, but she still has a great voice and a really likable personality. Would I go see her again? That’s a tricky one. I like her a lot, but have less interest in her newer songs and those will always be the focus. She’s played the Folk Festival before and probably will again, and maybe I should just wait for those appearances to roll around. Really, it probably just depends what kind of mood you catch me in when tickets go on sale.

Does this mean we can finally wrap this thing up?

SLCR #286: Ava Wild & Scott Pettigrew (July 9, 2017)

No. We cannot. This cannot end. It’s two weeks later but this cannot end. This is only tangentially related to the previous review, but this cannot end.

Mark and Arlette got married. Hooray! And Other James got them a concert as a gift, which is totally something he’d do, and also a sign that the rest of us need to step up our game. Gravy boat? No longer acceptable.

Historically, I have skipped out on writing full reviews when seeing my friends’ bands since… well, I don’t have a good reason. I say it’s because I can’t be impartial (basically, I can’t say mean things if they’re awful), but mostly it was a good excuse to half-ass a review and call it good. And while I don’t know Ms. Wild or Mr. Pettigrew, I do know Mark and Arlette and this was in their backyard, so… good enough. Or so I thought – then Mark asked me mid-concert if he was getting a review. Mika said “now you have to.” She was right. Whole ass: engaged.

We showed up around 2:40. We were greeted first by Other James, then random guests, then Gus, a friendly little dog who rapidly lost interest in us as there were many other people around and one of them might feed him. We eventually found Mark and Arlette who welcomed us into their lovely yard and showed us where everything was. We were told there were snacks in the garage, but I was involved in the construction of that garage so we wisely stayed away for fear it might collapse at any moment. We sat near it for a while which was risky enough.

You’ll note I did not say I helped build the garage. I was there while much of it was built. I mostly tried to stay out of the way and for at least part of that day, I was not an active hindrance. That’s as good as you’re going to get.

The B that we BYO’d came from Last Mountain Distillery – Sweet Tea Vodka Lemonade coolers. I picked up a four-pack at the farmers’ market the day before, so we had two each. The second one was better than the first; in a related note, I should have brushed my teeth immediately upon waking up instead of right before leaving the house.

The music was broken into three sets – Wild solo, Pettigrew solo, and then the two together. I believe Wild played all originals, all on acoustic guitar. She has “a lot of songs” – some of which you can hear on her first album, Bare. Bare came out last year. Wild graduated from high school this year. That was enough to bring on a full-on “What have I done with my life?” crisis, but get this. I saw Ava Wild open for Serena Ryder two weeks ago. The last time I saw Serena Ryder in concert? Wild was 5. If you need me, I’ll be curled up in the corner, thinking about how quickly I’ll be dead.

No! I must soldier on. Ceaselessly. Like time itself. Scott Pettigrew played an electric guitar – it’s worth nothing that people who know things about guitars were really into both Wild and Pettigrew’s guitars – and while he sang a number of original tunes too (some from his album Alone, which also came out last year), he also threw some covers into the mix. He started with a Robert Johnson song, and later played a new Dan Auerbach song (Never In My Wildest Dreams) and – oh yes – Hallelujah. He did a fine job on it but that’s almost immaterial for me – I’ve grown to love covers of Hallelujah to a ridiculous degree, just because I know how much Aaron hates them. Let’s campaign to get Robert Pollard to cover Hallelujah just to see what happens to Aaron.

After Pettigrew’s set, we had a bit of an extended break so I chatted with a few folks from work. I also mustered up my courage and braved the garage. There were snacks; it was inevitable.

The last set with both Wild and Pettigrew was a lot like their slot opening for Serena Ryder – among other songs, they again played Tennessee Waltz and Hotel Yorba – though the whole thing was more relaxed. Despite joking that they were only pretending to know what they were doing, they did a fine job – both with the whole music thing, but also in handling our talking, heckling, stage-managing gang of hooligans. They’re very talented singers, songwriters, and musicians and they seem like delightful humans to boot. Recommended.

As for the venue, our lovely hosts took good care of us all. There were a couple dozen people in a tight space but everyone had a fine time. Also, I think there should be a dog at every concert I go to. I mean, maybe not the loud shows. But, like, if I could leave Guns ‘N Roses for five minutes to play with a dog who only loved me for my watermelon, wouldn’t that be better? Also, I’m confused why so many concert venues sound so bad and a random backyard can sound that good. In 286 reviews and probably around 300 actual concerts, this was my first house concert and I think maybe I’ve been doing it all wrong. Maybe if someplace tells you it’s a concert hall or an event centre or whatever, it’s trying too hard to convince you. Just find a backyard instead, one that’s all like “I got this.”

Yes. Find a talking backyard with confidence and hold all your concerts there. That is a wonderful note to end on.

Except…

SLCR #287: NO NO NO NO NO no no no nooooooooooooooooooo no

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Bob Dylan (July 15)
• July Talk (August 3)
• I Mother Earth and The Watchmen (August 4)
• Crash Test Dummies & the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra (August 7)
• Beck (August 20)
• kd lang w/Kacy & Clayton (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• Steve Earle & The Dukes (September 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Sarah Slean (October 14)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)
• David Myles (October 24)
• Tanya Tagaq & the Regina Symphony Orchestra (November 25)

HAPPY SESQUICENTENNIAL!

 

Bryan Adams: All The Everything Part 12

Get comfy, folks, this is another long one (that’s what she said). 

This one’s (mostly) easy (that’s also what she said). I’ve been a fan of Bryan Adams since I was a kid, getting his cassettes from Columbia House. We played those tapes over and over. I know every word, every note, every solo. At least for the early years stuff…

Adams has come up recently, too. James went to see him in concert, and said they just kept playing hit after hit and it was endless. That’s our childhood, right there. It really is incredible how many songs they had that we all know by heart. In the comments on that post, Deke mentioned Keith Scott and oh man, that’s a guitar hero of mine right there.

I was along for the ride early on, but I drifted pretty much after Waking Up The Neighbours. I don’t precisely know why. That album was… well, I’ll get there.

So, since you likely know all of these, I’m just gonna run quick through the records and you’ll see what I’m on about. These are the only ones I still have here, because I’m quite sure these are the only ones that matter…

NB: For the record (pun intended, of course), I owned all of these on CS as a kid… Waking Up The Neighbours was the first one I bought on CD…

***

1980 Bryan Adams (0…)

I had this first, self-titled record here, in one format or another, but now I do not. What happened to it? Weird. I need to replace it. It has a ton of great early Adams on it. Hidin’ From Love… Remember… Give Me Your Love… Win Some, Lose Some… When I get another copy, I’ll add it into this series as an extra. I’m on it.

 

***

1981 You Want It You Got It (CD, LPx2)

Truth to tell, it was this record and those following it that got played a whole shit-ton more. Witness the radio-ready Lonely Nights (later covered by Uriah Heep) and the chugging blues rock of Fits Ya Good, both of which proved the template was already in place for later records. But there’s a ton of great deep cuts here too. Honestly, it’s an album of coulda-been hits. Coming Home is almost a 70s soul ballad, Jealousy (later covered by Prism) bops along like 70s Springsteen, the title track pogos like a pop punker, and No One Makes It Right is a big piano torch ballad Elton John would’ve loved.

In Sum:

A classic. Pure early Adams.

***

1983 Cuts Like A Knife (CD, LP)

Folks, this is where shit started to go crazy. 6 friggin’ singles, all of them huge. Straight From the Heart, Cuts Like A Knife, This Time, Take Me Back, I’m Ready, and The Only One. I mean, if the first two records were good, this one was great. And the 4 tracks that weren’t singles, What’s It Gonna Be, Don’t Leave Me Lonely (co-written with Eric Carr), and Let Him Know all coulda-been. And let’s talk a minute about how the flying fuck The Best Was Yet To Come was not a single. Seriously, folks. HOW? What dumbass at A&M fell asleep on THAT one?

In Sum:

If you like Adams at all, you already have this. If not, you need it. You know, most artists would call this a career album. Adams was just getting started. Read on…

***

1984 Reckless (CD, LP)

If CLAK was where things started to go crazy, Reckless was where it got unhinged. The accomplishements and accolades of this record are crazy. It hit Number 1 on the Billboard Top 200, and was the first Canadian record to sell 1 million copies in Canada. 6 more singles off this one: Run To You, Somebody, Heaven, Summer Of ’69, One Night Love Affair, and It’s Only Love (the giant duet with Tina Turner). All six of these songs made the Top 15 on the Billboard Hot 100, a feat previously only managed by Thriller and Born In The U.S.A. I mean, this thing was everywhere.

Even in my super-small hometown. 1984 I was 10 years old. THIS was the record. We played the absolute hell out of our cassette copies. We knew all the words, every second of that thing, and now here in 2017, I still do. Listening back to it now, it isn’t just revisiting an old friend, it’s re-living my childhood.

And again, the non-singles shoulda-been. We loved the straight-ahead rock of She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’ and Kids Wanna Rock (still one of my favourite tracks on this album today), Long Gone, and Ain’t Gonna Cry.

In Sum:

Top to bottom, this record is insanely good. Perfectly crafted, every track an earworm and a hit. When I’m 90 years old and half-senile, I will still know every word and every damn note of this record, so ingrained is it in memory and psyche. Beyond essential. This is the stuff of a lifetime.

***

1985 Diana (CS, LPx2)

Here’s a fun one. My sister and I first heard the track Diana late one night on CFTR (still a Toronto station, though it’s 24/7 news, now). My sister used to record the radio onto cassettes, sitting there listening and recording, pressing pause for the commercials. She got most of the songs she wanted, that way. Now, it should be noted that she was (and still is) a Diana-phile. She got up crazy-early to watch the wedding on TV. She still has all the books, probably knows as much about Diana as anybody, even now. So when we heard this song, she broke out laughing. We both knew it for the joke it was. How anybody could get offended and think Adams was taking shots at Charles in a serious way, we had no clue. It wasn’t on Reckless (as Adams was worried it would offend Charles and Diana), but it was a b-side of Heaven. It was also released as this EP.

Honestly, Diana (the song) rocks. I get why he hasn’t played it since she died, and why it isn’t on any official record since, not even Hits sets. But it should be. It’s just a great tune.

Also on side A is the album version of Summer Of ’69 (because why the hell not), and then on Side B it’s The Bryan Adamix. I can’t decide if that’s a great title or cringe-worthy. Today I say the latter, but another day I might think it’s clever. Anyway, the track is a mash-up of Somebody/It’s Only Love/Diana/Fits Ya Good/Somebody (again), with jittery cuts between them to signal the song’s about to change to the next in line. This has always struck me as a bad idea. I mean, it proves you can splice stuff together in a studio, but why? You’ve just stuffed the essences of 4 solid stand-alone songs (one of them twice!) down into 5:52. Congratulations? I guess? Anyway, an oddity they (thankfully) never repeated.

In Sum:

I first owned this on cassette (a copy found in a cheap-o bin in a video shoppe in Stratford, ON, of all places). I found my LP copies downtown in our… special used record shoppe. I don’t even know why I own two copies on LP. It’s available cheaply online, too. Worth owning for the title track, definitely. The rest… up to you. I’d say no.

***

1987 Into The Fire (CD)

And now here, in ’87, Adams found himself in a conundrum. How the hell do you follow up Reckless? The expectations and pressures on him must have been huge. Still, make a record they did, and I loved it. There were (again) 6 singles on this one: Heat Of The Night, Hearts On Fire, Victim Of Love, Only The Strong Survive, Into The Fire, and Another Day. All of them excellent. I sort of skim over these with just titles because I assume you know all those songs already. If you don’t, you oughta. This one’s damn strong.

This record went to Number 2 here in Canada. But even for all of that, I knew so many people who got off the bus here. It just goes to show you that fans are fickle, I guess. But nevermind those dummies. Myself, and especially my winger Michael, played the hell outta this one too.

The deep cuts (again) were also awesome. The mid-tempo rock buoying the strong message of Native Son, the piano ballad that builds into a homecoming tale on Rebel, and the longing of the album closer Home Again are all awesome. And I have to give a huge shout to Remembrance Day, an absolutely powerful track I try to remember to play every November 11. It’s one of my favourite Adams songs, to be honest.

In Sum:

I think they nailed it, with this record. It got lots of exposure, sure, but it seemed to me that a lot of the people who were on board with Reckless didn’t get as into this one. Shame, that. This one’s just as strong.

***

1988 Live! Live! Live! (CD)

Recorded (live, duh) at the Rock Werchter festival 1988-07-03 in Werchter, Belgium, except for Into The Fire, which is from Tokyo, Japan. It was pouring rain in Werchter for this recording, and Adams even mentions it from the stage, saying “I’ve got to tell you something. For you people to sit out in the rain, means you’re one hell of an audience. I mean, to sit out in this…”

It’s telling, looking at the track listing, just how much work Adams had to draw from, all of the songs great. I mean, look at this (they had the crowd in hand the whole time):

She’s Only Happy When She’s Dancin’ / It’s Only Love / Cuts Like A Knife / Kids Wanna Rock / Hearts On Fire / Take Me Back / The Best Was Yet To Come / Heaven / Heat Of The Night / Run To You / One Night Love Affair / Long Gone / Summer Of ’69 / Somebody

And then, as if all that isn’t enough, they lay out two awesome covers, first it’s Patsy Cline’s Walking After Midnight (which they turn into a bluesy guitar party rocker), following that with a pretty straight-foward (but still with that Adams sound) version of the Clash’s I Fought the Law. The disc closes with Into The Fire (from Tokyo, the only song not from Werchter).

In Sum:

Honestly, what a set. I can name songs that should be here, but it’d have to be a 3CD set if I got to choose. More importantly, though, this one captures the energy and prowess of Adams and band in concert around this time. It’s an excellent encapsulation of that early “era” of Adams’ career, so why not cap it with a live record. I mean, as we’ll see shortly (below), things were going to change a bit. If you don’t have this live disc, get it. It’s tons of fun.

***

1991 Waking Up The Neighbours (CD)

If I were honest, looking back, this is where I started to drift from Adams’ new stuff. At the time, of course, I was over the moon there was a new record and I bought it straight away (this would have been my first CD new release purchase of his work, too) and played the hell out of it. And deservedly so, as it had 7 singles on it: (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, Can’t Stop This Thing We Started, There Will Never Be Another Tonight, Thought I’d Died And Gone To Heaven, All I Want Is You, Do I Have To Say The Words?, and Touch The Hand.

Listening back to the record now, all of those earned every praise, and so did the others. Is Your Mama Gonna Miss Ya?, Hey Honey – I’m Packin’ You In, Not Guilty, Vanishing, House Arrest, Depend On Me, If You Wanna Leave Me (Can I Come Too?), and Don’t Drop That Bomb On Me all had that signature style and knack for a hook.

Of course, in 1991 I was deep into it and heard it plenty. I couldn’t even put into words, though, that it somehow felt different from the others. The songs were there, it was fun and loaded with hit tunes, but the sound had changed. Of course, this was the first record not made by Adams and Bob Clearmountain (or Jim Vallance), but instead with Mutt Lange. As we know now, Lange makes Adams sound like Def Leppard sound like Shania Twain sound like… well, sound like what Mutt Lange would want to sound like if he were in those bands. It’s a case (like Daniel Lanois) where producer takes over record with their sound. Turns out, and all deference to him, I don’t like this version of Lange’s ‘sound.’ Not for sustained periods, anyway. At least there weren’t exclamation points! after! every! damn! word! in! the! song! titles!

There was, as you know, also the whole CanCon blow up over (Everything I Do) I Do It For You, but that was what it was. This album’s tour was also the first (and only) time I’ve ever seen Adams in concert. I’d go again, just never gone much out of my way. Anyway, I think I’ve told that story before – we were at London Fairgrounds, and the line-up went Sass Jordan (who was good but shrill as hell, and possibly drunk), Steve Miller Band (Miller was so out of it the crowd taught him the words to his songs), Extreme (who fucking rocked it), then Bryan Adams. The Adams band put on a helluva show. I remember it getting so cold, as the night wore on, despite it being August, that at one point a guitar went out of tune. The whole band stopped mid-song and held position like mannequins while a roadie ran out and swapped guitars, then BAM they went right back into the song where they’d left off as if nothing had happened. The place went nuts. Talk about a well-oiled machine. Thinking back on it now, my lovely wife went with the group of us to that gig, but we weren’t dating then. Just friends in a group. Funny how life goes.

In Sum:

This was the first Adams record I didn’t go back to as often, as the years have gone past. If I hear one of the tracks in a mix, of course I perk up. But playing the whole album through now, in 2017, made me a little tired. It sounded like Bryan Adams covering Bryan Adams, through a Mutt Lange filter. I dunno. It’s good, the songs are strong. I feel weird blasting it a bit, but there ya go.

***

Post In Sum:

Adams has gone on to release several more records, and has had a legendary career, by this point. I know I had 18 ’Til I Die for a while but ditched it long ago. That was the last studio album of his I bought. I was sure I had the MTV Unplugged, and thought it was still here, alas it doesn’t seem to be. Where did it go? Sigh. I don’t know.

It hardly matters. If I want Adams, I’m gonna listen to 1980-1987 anyway. All deference to fans of the later stuff. Maybe someday I’ll get around to it. I probably should.

As it stands, I had a ton of fun going back through the early years of Adams’ work that I have here (I still need to replace the first record). I sort of wrote this assuming you all knew all of these songs, which may have been presumptuous. If you don’t know them, I recommend you get to them at some point. A lot of this stuff is absolutely undeniable.  Great records, back then, the stuff that memories of an entire childhood and upon which a nascent lifelong music obsession was built. OH YEAH!

Oh, and as for the Hit IT or Quit It series, these are all Hits. It should be noted that Waking Up The Neighbours walked a fine line, to my 2017 ears, but nostalgia outweighed my concerns and I’ll hang onto the CD for now. I’ll probably move on the duplicate copies I own of these records.

Series Stats:

13 posts
51 albums

43 hit
8 quit

44 CD
11 LP
9 CS
2 DVD

A Sunrise Score

I had a wee dig at our new Sunrise the other night, and came up with a gem.

 

Oh yes. I do love me some Burnside. This was one I didn’t already have, so I’m thrilled to bring it home.

Check out that price sticker up in the top right corner. $11.99 (CAD) for a brand new LP? That’s awesome! Especially considering I checked the Amazons when I got home and it’s going for $26.19, thus giving me a savings of $14.20! And that’s not including shipping, as they now require $35 before free shipping…

Now, I’d be inclined to think Sunrise had mis-priced this item and I got away with something. But I can also recall buying a Burnside LP at Kops on Bloor in Taranna for about the same price.* So maybe Fat Possum just prices things well so that even with store margins, we win. As a favour to all of us diehard blues fans. Right on, if that’s true, Fat Possum!

Either way, I’m very happy with this addition to the collection. Sunrise scores again!

 

* I checked, it was a brand new LP of Mr. Wizard for $9.99!

A Gift From Geoff!

Yesterday, a parcel arrived at our KMA eastern offices from the illustrious and awesome Geoff of 100albumsin10years! Oh yes, a parcel of much goodness…

Inside was a note:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OMG. This contains three of my favourite things: Sloan, GBV, and COMMUNITY!

First up, the Sloooooaaaaann…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out that handsome ‘Navy Blues Brother.’ Yessir, that’s Sloan’s Andrew Scott on the cover of this May 1998 issue of Chart magazine. Inside the mag is a five-page article called Sloan: Fantastic 4, about the band and the new (at the time) album, Navy Blues, which is a rocker for sure, and there’s a bio page of the band to-date as well. Hot damn! There’s a ton of other stuff in this mag too, which I’ll surely cover in a later post, but right now I’m reading about Sloan so that other stuff will have to wait!

And then, tucked into the mag, to mark the page of the Slooooaaan article (natch), was a 7″ record. Oh yes.

[click the shite photeys to embiggen them…]

Guided By Voices – Planet Score b/w Zero Elasticity

Limited to 1000 copies, and including a free download of the tracks, this 7″ contains Planet Score and Zero Elasticity from the excellent 2014 album Motivational Jumpsuit.

This is thrilling on a couple of levels. One, I am a huge Guided By Voices fan and will always happily welcome any of their releases into my collection. And two, for years I have consciously skipped trying to collect the 7″ output by this band. There are soooo many, I mean, they put out about six albums a year for a decade and a half, and each record gets at least a couple of 7″ singles… That said, I always look at them longingly in the shoppes… and now here is one in my house! It’s GORGEOUS!

Geoff. THANK YOU. You’re always verbalizing the positive on your excellent site, and you’re sharing the greatness by mail too!

COMMUNITY!

It Takes Two (Tylenol Extra Strength)

I thought it would be fun to make a mix of old school hip hop for the kids, show the kids what we used to like back in the 80s. Two things happened:

  1. It is nearly impossible to find old school rap songs that don’t have swearing, or sexual references, or violent imagery in them. I mean, I ultimately found about 25 tracks, but I combed all 4 of my Anthems Hip Hop sets (3CD each = 12CD) to even get those.
  2. My kids didn’t really like it.

They were OK with Run DMC and Aerosmith’s Walk This Way, mostly, but they liked A Tribe Called Quest’s Can I Kick It? better… my lovely wife says in this way you can tell they take after me. We tried Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash, Gang Starr, Eric B. & Rakim, Young MC, EPMD, Kurtis Blow, a whole bunch of old hits (and reading those names, you can probably guess the tracks they heard). But… meh. My boy said he’d rather Iron Maiden, while my daughter asked for Jake Bugg. So there you go. I’ll keep the disc and we can try it again in a year or so.

One track that bugged me lyrically, though, was Rob Base & DJ E-Z Rock’s It Takes Two. It’s seemingly innocuous, and it has a funky beat (and that damn repeated “yeah!”… “scream” thing throughout) but I listened closely to the lyrics and it hurt my damn head…

 

Check it:

Right about now
You are about to be possessed
By the sounds of
MC Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock

Possesed? Should I call an exorcist? A… rapsorcist?

I wanna rock right now
I’m Rob Base and I came to get down
I’m not internationally known
But I’m known to rock the microphone

So how far is the range of your being known? Your state? Your town? Your Mom?

Because I get stupid, I mean outrageous

So, say outrageous the first time, then.

Stay away from me if you’re contagious

Um, OK? Are you a germophobe?

‘Cause I’m the winner, no, I’m not a loser

That’s redundant.

To be an MC is what I choose-a

That doesn’t rhyme with loser.

Ladies love me,

Sure they do.

girls adore me

Creepy.

I mean even the ones who never saw me
Like the way that I rhyme at a show

What? If they never saw you, how could they…?

The reason why, man, I don’t know

I don’t know either because you’re not making sense. Also, way to have self-confidence. You don’t know why people would like what you do?

 

My name is Rob, I gotta real funky concept
Listen up, ’cause I’m gonna keep you in step
I got an idea
That I wanna share
You don’t like it, so what, I don’t care

Wait a minute, we just listened all the way to here and you couldn’t give a shit? Why did you write this song, then? It’s to make sure people don’t come near you with their germs, isn’t it. I knew it.

I’m number-one, the uno, I like comp
Bring all the suckers ’cause all them I’ll stomp

Rob Base is Yoda, now?

Bold and black but I won’t protect
All of my followers ’cause all I want is respect

Wait. So you won’t protect your followers but expect them to respect you? Dude.

I’m not a doctor, put them in rapture
A slick brother that can easy outfox ya
‘Cause I’m Rob, the last name Base, yeah
And on the mike, I’m known to be the freshest

Go on, boast to all those you won’t protect…

So let’s start, it shouldn’t be too hard
I’m not a sucker so I don’t need a bodyguard
I won’t fess, wear a bulletproof vest

So you don’t need protection either.

Don’t smoke buddha, can’t stand sess, yes

What? Wait a minute, are you high right now?

The situation that the Base is in
I’m kinda stingy that’s why I don’t wanna lend
A funky rhyme to a foe or a good friend
But listen up ’cause I want you to comprehend

Folks he won’t protect you, and he won’t help you.

‘Cause I’m the leader, the man superior
I take care of ya and then ya get wearier

But you just said you won’t take care of us at all.

So just sit, my rhymes are not counterfeit
The record sells which makes this one a hit
It won’t hurt to listen to Red Alert
Take off your shirt, make sure it don’t hit the dirt

I will not take my shirt off for you, Rob Base.

I like the kids, the guys, the girls
I want the ducats ’cause this is Rob Base’s world
I’m on a mission, ya better just listen
To my rhymes ’cause I’m all about dissin’ ’cause

Now wait a minute. Who are you “dissin’?” And ducats? Seriously? I think the only thing you said here that makes sense to me is that Rob Base is in his own world.

I stand alone, don’t need anyone

You must be fun at parties. Remember your John Donne though, Rob. No man is an island.

‘Cause I’m Rob, just came to have fun

Uh huh.

Don’t need friends that act like foes
‘Cause I’m Rob Base, the one who knows
About things that make ya get weary
Don’t cheer me, just hear me
Out ’cause I got the clout, shout (ho!)
Before I turn the party out

You know about things that make me weary, alright. Have you read your own lyrics?

I won’t stutter, project my voice, speak clearly
So you can be my choice on stage

Wait, so I get to join you on stage now, Mr. I Don’t Need Anyone? What about the germs?

Or on record, go to the Wiz and select it
Take it off the rack, if it’s wack put it back

The Wiz? Of Oz?

I like the Whopper, fuck the Big Mac

Given that you haven’t mentioned food anywhere else in this song, this is random but OK, suuure…

If you want static, so let’s go
So, throw up your hands, go for what you know

I could go for a Big Mac…

Bro’, I got an ego

No kidding. Really?

Yo, talkin’ to me, no, oh?

No. Oh. Yo?

‘Cause Rob is in the front, EZ Rock is on the backup

And he’s probably wondering how long he has to put up with this before he gets a better gig.

We’re not soft, so you better just slack up
‘Cause I’m cool, calm just like a breeze

You have not sounded calm once in this song. In fact, you’ve been very opinionated and nonsensical.

Rock the mike with the help of E-Z Rock
On the set, the music plays
Only cuts the records that I say

And if you don’t get your way, Mr. Bossypants, do you lie on the floor, kick and scream and cry until they let you have your way?

***

In Sum: 

It seems like such an innocuous vacuous pop rap song. And it is. Just don’t listen to the lyrics. They’ll hurt your head.

And keep your germs to yourself. Apparently. Haha what a dumb song.

Pass the Tylenol.

a-ha: All The Everything Pt.11

a-ha – Hunting High And Low (LP)

This one’s a total nostalgia blast for me. I got it on cassette (from Columbia House) when I was a kid and held onto it for years. Over the years, I lost that cassette, never had the CD, or the LP… until recently, I found the LP and brought it home.

For being a debut album, this Norwegian band’s work is wonderful. There were five (5!) singles from it: of course, you all know the huge hit Take On Me (and it’s fantastic video)… and then there’s Breakfast Club dancer Love Is Reason… the big synth popper The Sun Always Shines On T.V… the club-thumper Train Of Thought… and sweet ballad Hunting High And Low. All of them worthy singles. The album was nominated for a Grammy (the first Norwegian band to achieve a nomination). Hell, even the cover photo was nominated for a Grammy.

And hey Geoff, it’s even on the 1001 list!

Yup, this thing was huge in 1985.

The other tracks here are just as exciting, with Depeche Mode-ish Blue Sky… slinky mid-tempo Living A Boy’s Adventure Tale… gentle pure 80s ballad And You Tell Me… the 80s dance track that uses all the keyboard effect in I Dream Myself Alive… and, finally, the mid-tempo love tune Here I Stand And Face The Rain… They’re all equally excellent. Honestly, this was such a throwback for me, I hadn’t heard it in years, but I still knew every song and every twist and turn… heck, I still knew a lot of the lyrics (crazy!). Talk about blowing the dust off my memory of a tape I played endlessly as a kid…

In Sum:

Hunting High And Low has that pure 80s sound, but of the pile of shite that went down back then, this one is among those that actually still sound frickin’ great. This album is a Hit for two reasons: 1) for nostalgia’s sake, just like when I re-heard Tears For Fears’ amazing Songs From The Big Chair a while back – I was transported pleasingly to my childhood boombox in my room… and 2) for still being a mid-80s blast of synth-pop full album excellence that stands up remarkably well all these years later.

NB1: The album was remastered and re-released as a Deluxe 2CD, 37-track edition in 2010, with a whole wealth of remixes, demo and extended versions, and it all looks delicious. I’ve never seen on in the wild, but if I did, I’d surely be tempted if it was a good price.

NB2: There also looks to be a 4CD / 1DVD 30th anniversary set with a whole pile of even more extra tracks and videos and what have you. It’s about $70 though, and I’m not sure I am THAT much of a fan haha.

PS: Here’s a neat bit of trivia for you: A-HA singer “Morten Harket holds the European record for the longest note held in a Top 40 pop song. During the song “Summer Moved On” Harket sustains a chest voice note for 20.2 seconds (8 measures). [Wiki]

Series Stats:

12 posts
44 albums

36 hit
8 quit

38 CD
5 LP
8 CS
2 DVD

First Sunrise Purchase

As I noted recently, a Sunrise Records opened up in the carcass of our old shite little HMV. I went through it to check it out and, ultimately, didn’t buy anything that day.

Well, I had occasion yesterday afternoon to be out for a walk (gotta keep this fighting trim, don’tcha know) and happened past our shite little mall. Why not, I thought, as I wandered into Sunrise to see if round 2 would yield differences from my first visit, as the store gets its feet under it.

They definitely had more LPs than last time, and the rest seemed about the same. They STILL didn’t have any copies of the new Kendrick Lamar album (DAMN.), and that is just DAMN. silly. It’s one of the biggest albums right now, they’re fools for not having mutliple copies. Ah well.

On my first foray to this shoppe, I’d asked about the new Solstafir album, Berdreyminn, which I would have bought on the spot. Not only did they not have it, they didn’t even have a place marker for the band in the racks. A staffer looked it up, said they could get it, but it’d be an order. I left that idea there, as I can order from Amazon myself (and probably cheaper, I thought).

On this trip yesterday, not only did they have a place marker for Solstafir in the racks, but they had the new album on CD AND the boxed set deluxe edition. Of course, this is all because I asked them about it and definitely not because it was always gonna come in and it just wasn’t there yet on my first attempt, nope. It was all me. Anyway, there it was. And boom, I bought the deluxe on the spot. I paid $24.99 CAD. Today on Discogs they start at $26.40, so that’s ballpark, but on our Cdn Amazon today they’re $32.30 which is noticeably higher. Secondary sellers have them starting (new) at $21.18 plus $3.49 shipping (total $24.67), so it’s all in a range right now but I’m happy with what I paid as this copy was right there in my hand, no waiting for it to come to my house!

I haven’t even played it uninterrupted all the way through yet, (and now it’ll probably have to wait ten years for me to get to “S” in my All The Everything Series before I review it) but I can confirm that it sounds frickin’ great. If you like their sound, this one will please you for sure.

And the deluxe box was really nice, just like the last one for Ótta. This one comes with three bonus tracks on the CD, an extended 24-page booklet, a pin, and a patch. But probably my favourite addition to the box was a set of ear plugs with their own little storage pouch. That’s a thoughtful touch, I think, in case you ever go to see the band live you’ll be all set to protect your ears!

It’s limited to 10,000 worldwide, where the Ótta deluxe box was 4000 copies worldwide (did you get yours?), so make sure you get your copy quickly!

Sweet score. I’m totally happy.

10,000 Maniacs: All The Everything Pt.1.1

First up: Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there. You rock.

Back when I did the three 10,000 Maniacs albums I have here for this All The Everything series, I actually voted Miss on all three. That seems harsh, eh? I mean, they’re good albums. But two are on cassette, which isn’t my primary playback source, and the one CD is just one I couldn’t see myself going back to to play again very often. I said then that I’d be happier with a Hits set of the band and, as I was going to Taranna, I’d keep my eyes peeled.

Well, guess what… I found it (thanks, Sonic Boom!). It’s a 2CD set called Campfire Songs: The Popular, Obscure & Unknown Recordings Of 10,000 Maniacs. Covering tracks from the five years between 1988-1993 (the Natalie Merchant Era), this set really shows how good and prolific this group was during that time. CD1 is the hits. CD is the extra stuff: b-sides, covers, demos, etc.

Delicious. Let’s see what’s here! I’m going to listen to each disc and make comments…

CD1

Planned Obsolescence / My Mother The War / Tension / Scorpio Rising / Like The Weather / Don’t Talk / What’s The Matter Here? / Hey Jack Kerouac / Verdi Cries / Trouble Me / Poison In The Well / You Happy Puppet / Eat For Two / Stockton Gala Days / Candy Everybody Wants / These Are Days / Because Of The Night*

* MTV Unplugged (originally written by Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith)

In Sum: Well, this CD1 was exactly what I was after. I was gonna go through track by track, but you know what? All the songs you know are here, plus a few you maybe don’t know but are still damn happy you’ve heard them. Kudos to whomever put this disc together. It’s stellar from top to bottom. Also, I usually rant about inclusion of live tracks on Hits discs, but in this case I’ll let it pass as it’s a great version and not a song of theirs.

But CD2 is where things really get interesting. I mean, as if it’s not enough that somany great songs are up there on CD1, but now we get a lot of stuff I would never have otherwise heard…

CD2

Poppy Selling Man has a skittery beat and a Casio keyboard quality to it, Leonard Cohen would love it. Fascinatingly, I know she’s singing in English, but somehow it sounds like German in enough spots to make me sharpen my ears. Neat.

Can’t Ignore The Train (demo version) is a sweet pop song with jangly guitar and that beat that Molly Ringwald could dance to in Breakfast Club. I’m sure deep fans would know the differences between this demo and the one that ended up on Wishing Chair.

Up next it’s Cat Stevens’ Peace Train, appears here, which I think is fair and balanced. As you may recall, it was removed from In My Tribe because “comments made by Stevens (by then a Muslim convert and known as Yusuf Islam) that were perceived to be supportive of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie. The song remains on vinyl copies and CDs released outside the United States.” It’s actually a well-written song with that sway done so well by the Maniacs.

Wildwood Flower switches us to a barnyard hoedown, written as it was by the Carter Family’s A.P. Carter. Yee-haw! Haha this was fun. Good on them for jamming this one out. I told my lovely wife this one was on here and she said “oh, I love that song!” So there you go.

I was thrilled to see Hello In There included. I do love me some John Prine, and their version of this heartwrenching song is quite excellent, though a bit disorienting… Prine’s original is a gorgeous, picked acoustic version, while the Maniacs turn it into a bit of a pop song which still works… but being so used to the original, it threw me a wee bit.

To Sir, With Love is a live outtake from MTV’s Rock n’ Roll Inaugural Ball, as well as the Few and Far Between EP. It features Micheal Stipe on vocals and they do a credible run-through of this film tune. Actually, those voices work well together, as they’ve proven at other times. You knew this already. Onward.

I had to read the credits to know that Everyday Is Like Sunday is a Morrissey song, but now that I know that, I totally hear it. I was just saying elsewhere about how I just can’t ever get to caring about Morrissey at all, but power to those who do. So… this is a good version? I guess? I’m not about to be hearing the original to compare, so I’ll say it’s fine.

Next up is Jackson Browne’s These Days, which is beautiful and awesome. This band was built to cover this song.

We already own a copy of their cover of Tom Waits’ I Hope That I Don’t Fall in Love With You, on the Step Right UP: The Songs Of Tom Waits tribute disc. They do a great job.

We’re not done with the covers here, ‘cos next it’s David Bowie’s Starman. I wouldn’t have been able to imagine it, but the Maniacs handle the reggae beat well too! Yes, you read that correctly, they turned it into a light reggae tune. Which isn’t a total stretch, but interesting nonetheless!

Let The Mystery Be is an Iris Dement tune, and comes from the MTV Unplugged and features David Byrne. This track was not on the CD, but it was on the laserdisc and VHS releases. It’s actually quite brilliant, both the song and the execution here. Shoulda been on the CD!

Then we end off with three demos from Our Time In Eden: Noah’s Dove (demo), Circle Dream (alternate lyrics demo), and Eden (alternate lyrics demo) are all lovely versions of the final album tracks.

In Sum:

Holy shit, CD2 is really fantastic! I mean, you buy this set for CD1, to get the hits, but then you hear CD2 with all of its treasures… mind-blowing, really. Incredible.

Whole Set In Sum:

A definite Hit in the Hit It Or Quit It Series. If you want 10,000 Maniacs, this set will keep you happy for a good long while. It’s put together with thought and care, and the work here speaks for itself. Gorgeous.

 

NB: As Wiki pointed out, “In spite of what might be expected from the album’s title, the collection does not include “A Campfire Song” from In My Tribe.” Missed opportunity there!

 

Series Stats:

11 posts
43 albums

35 hit
8 quit

38 CD
4 LP
8 CS
2 DVD

R.I.P. Anita Pallenberg

Anita Pallenberg has died, aged 75, on June 13 after a long illness (cause of death has not, thus far, been given).

Keith Richards said “A most remarkable woman. Always in my heart,” in response to the news.

After leaving Brian Jones for Richards, the couple were together 1967-1980, having three children together: Marlon, Angela, and Tara (who died of pneumonia at 10 weeks). Both Richards and Pallenberg struggled with heroin addiction in the 70s, nearly going to jail in Toronto.

She had quite a life as a model, actress, designer, and artist. Check her out here.

She is survived by Marlon, Angela, and five grandchildren (Ella, Orson, Ida, Ava, and Otto).

RIP, Anita.

SLCR #281: Bryan Adams (May 27, 2017)

Let me take you back to the very first ever SLCR, Great Big Sea on October 9, 1996.


The lead singer was in fine form, carrying on a running conversation with the audience. “Did anyone see us at the MuchMusic Video Awards? (crowd cheers) What a great party. Alanis was there. (crowd boos) And Bryan Adams opened the show, then we played. You know what that means? Bryan Adams opened for us! (crowd cheers) We said, ‘Hey Bryan, anytime you want to open for us again, you’re more than welcome.’ And you know what? He was playing in the parking lot, we were in the studio, so we told the guys, ‘You know, we’re not that big, you coulda let the poor bugger in to meet us.’ Ah, Bryan Adams. Keep an eye out for that kid, I think he’s got a real future in this business.”

Finally, I could see if he lived up to the buzz!

I suppose it’s a little surprising that I’ve gone to lots of concerts in the past 20 years and have been a Canadian for all 40 of my years but have never seen Bryan Adams in concert before. There’s a long, drawn-out reason for that: I didn’t care to. I mean, Bryan Adams is fine, some of his songs are good, some of them are kinda dumb. He’s played here before since I’ve lived here. Saskatoon too. I just never bothered to go see him.

When Adams was announced as the headliner for the first-ever concert in our shiny new football stadium, it seemed like a decent enough choice. He’s been a big star forever, and though I always thought of him as more of an arena-level guy and not a stadium-level guy, that actually worked here. Though the event was called “Regina Rocks” in marketing, it was called “Test Event 2” on volunteers’ badges (the stadium doesn’t officially open until July 1, and there was a college football game last fall). Probably good to start with Bryan Adams before you bring in someone who can sell out a stadium in an hour.

It didn’t seem like tickets for this event sold as well as they organizers were hoping. It was a triple bill with Adams, Our Lady Peace, and country singer Johnny Reid. They said they’d capped ticket sales at 70% of capacity, and it looked like they’d sold about 70% of that. They gave the final number at somewhere around 21,000 people.

When the show was announced, Mika seemed really excited to go despite not caring about Adams or knowing anything about Reid. And while we were both Our Lady Peace fans back in the day (they were huge here while I was in university), she’d never expressed an interest in going when they’d played here before. I think it was just hype for the first concert at the new stadium, and not wanting to buy pricey tickets, I… didn’t. The hype faded and we largely forgot about going.

But that hype. I buy into it too, right? In the week before the show, I checked my work’s intranet and discovered a passcode that would let me get discount tickets. And I like concerts. And I like Our Lady Peace well enough, and Adams is a legendary Canadian musician, so why not? I texted Mika, who opted against going. Too busy with school. So I didn’t get tickets. And I was actually a little bit disappointed.

About two hours later, my dad texted me to let me know he’d got free tickets from a supplier of his, and did I want them? I did indeed, and for free, Mika would make time to go too. Lesson learned: never pay for anything.

My dad and I then had a series of texts back and forth over several days (not an exaggeration) wherein I tried to determine how many free tickets there actually were. I had assumed all along that I was getting two, but didn’t want to pick the tickets up and find out there were more when it would be too late to invite others. I think my dad thought that I was disappointed in getting only two, which I wasn’t, and then it sounded like I wasn’t getting tickets at all, and I don’t know why this was so hard. They need to invent something like texting except where you can just talk to the other person.

The new stadium has many amenities but one of them is not parking. As in, it has none. They want people to take the bus, and when we’d gone to football games at the old stadium, we’d done that a few times. So fine. Concert’s at 6:00. We get to the nearby mall at 5:00… and there are HUNDREDS of people in line. Shit. We park the car on the complete opposite side of the mall because the parking lot is packed, and make our way over to the line. Things are not looking good. A bus was taking people away when we got there, and by the time we were in line, a new bus had arrived. Okay. This is manageable. Some lady walked by and said that busses (buses? I never know) were coming every 5 minutes. I can live with this. Then we go 15 minutes without a bus. Shit. Again.

I’m sure it’s super enthralling to read someone describing waiting for a bus so let’s skip to the end – it took over an hour to get on a bus and by the time we got to the stadium, Our Lady Peace was 20 minutes into their set already. I get that this was a “test event” and that there were kinks to work out, but this should not be one of them. You had stadium buses before. You need more now since there’s less parking. Pretty simple.

I’d be more upset – and was at the time – but Our Lady Peace is coming back in less than 3 months to open for Guns N’ Roses in the stadium and we’re going to that, so whatever. We’ll see them again. As long as we get on a bus three hours early.

Back to the event at hand. There was a lady on the bus wearing a pink ballcap that she had adorned with plain white stickers – like the kind you might use to print address labels, maybe – upon which she’d handwritten BRYAN ADAMS ROCKS! with a Sharpie. This lady filled me with so much hope. Hope that Bryan Adams would rock.

Luckily, the bus stop at the stadium was right by our gate, so we were inside in no time. We could hear OLP playing Innocent as we walked up. Our seats were on the lower level, near the back. Far enough away that we were mostly watching the big screens. The seats at the new stadium are a massive improvement over the old ones. One of my dad’s coworkers and his wife got tickets too, and they were in their seats already when we got there. We said hi but didn’t really get to chat much throughout the evening. Music is loud. And also we don’t really know each other, so y’know.

I had read an interview with Raine Maida before the show where he said he was looking forward to testing out some new material, and I was all like …my dude. You have a 45-minute set and you’re not the headliner. Play all hits all the time. Ultimately, we got a mix of songs I knew and ones I didn’t; I don’t know how many were truly new, as I mostly only know the singles and the first couple albums. Looking up their setlist online, I see we missed Naveed and Superman’s Dead, which is disappointing. I had hopes for One Man Army, and they didn’t play that one. But there were some that I knew well, including Is Anybody Home, Clumsy, In Repair, and Starseed. Maida also sang part of Grace, Too by the Tragically Hip, which got a nice reaction. I still hope the Hip will get to play the new stadium someday.

The sound for OLP was good but seemed to be having a few issues; it wouldn’t cut out, but the volume really fluctuated at times. Mika thought the wind might have had something to do with it. I thought the issue got better as the night went on but I heard people say the same thing about Adams’ set later and I didn’t notice it at all then, so maybe it was environmental and based on where you were sitting.

There was a quick switchover before Johnny Reid played. I knew nothing about him, and I thought I knew none of his songs until he played Fire It Up – and even then, I only know the part that goes “fiiiiire it up.” This was a pretty well-executed thing that wasn’t entirely my thing. I like piano. I like fiddle. Reid seems like a good dude. This was enjoyable enough but I still found myself getting distracted for long stretches.

At some point during the set, Mika left to go to the washroom. I didn’t ask about lines but she was gone for quite a while, and when she got back, said that the lines for food (and even for 50/50 tickets) were too long to even consider getting anything. More on this later.

During the switchover to Bryan Adams, they put a still image up on the big screen, the cover of Adams’ newest album, Get Up. It’s just him standing there with a model standing behind him with both her hands on his face. Or at least I assumed it was a still image – at one point, a cellphone rang and Adams pulled his phone out, turned it off, put it away, and went back to the same image as before. A cute visual and also a clever way to get people back to their seats before the show, as it essentially served as the five-minute warning. A few more minutes of the picture and suddenly Adams lunged forward and roared, and the real Bryan Adams and his band sprinted onto the stage.

Adams was interviewed by the local newspaper before the show. One question asked that because Adams has so many hits, how does he decide which ones to play? He said “that’s easy – we play them all!” I can now confirm that this is true. Bryan Adams has a million hit singles and he played pretty much every one. At several points, Mika said “what could be left beyond Cuts Like a Knife” and then he’d play three more songs that we knew. By the end, I was actually expecting him to sing his unfortunate but hilarious holiday song Reggae Christmas because there really couldn’t be anything left. Dude has so many hits that when he played Summer of ’69 about halfway into the set, I thought it was a really weird choice – OBVIOUSLY you close with Summer of ’69 – but by the end it didn’t even register. So many hits. Older songs. Newer songs. If you like a Bryan Adams song, he played it.

I mentioned that I’m not a huge Bryan Adams fan. I am here to tell you that such people do exist, and they exist by the thousands. This was really noticeable about a half-dozen songs in, when he played Heaven, the first ballad of the night. Thousands of people held their cellphones high since nobody has lighters anymore. And EVERYONE sang along. I mean, I didn’t, but was surprised to realize that, yeah, I could have. And then there was a whole lot of applause from the section to my left because someone had gotten engaged mid-song. My goodness.

For the first two bands, the big screens gave a nice view of the show. Adams used the screens to show footage from music videos, as well as to show live footage with effects applied. It made for a much flashier presentation, but being so far back, it made actually a little more difficult to actually see the show, so there was a bit of a tradeoff there. Not one I minded, since it was a nice change of pace from earlier.

All told… I don’t know? The sound was good for his set and the crowd was really into it up until close to the end. It was a perfectly fine show for the nothing that we paid for the tickets. I didn’t go into the show as a huge Bryan Adams fan and that hasn’t really changed. It was pretty telling, though, just to see how many songs of his I knew. And not “oh yeah, I think I’ve heard this one before,” but ones where somehow I knew every word. It’s not like I ever doubted he was a star, but I didn’t really have a sense of just how big he’d been for how long until you string together one huge hit after another like that. So even if I’m not walking away as some Bryan Adams superfan, I definitely have a newfound respect for the guy and his career. And even my least favourite of his songs was made better by making jokes about it that were so dirty that I have been forbidden from including them here. Sorry, but if it’s any comfort, I’ll be as left out as you when I re-read this in five years.

One unfortunate side effect of the earlier transit issues was that it seemed people were leaving in droves towards the end and especially during the encore. I suspect a lot of this was people not wanting to wait hours to get home. We stayed until the very end and it almost felt anticlimactic – Adams ended the encore on a solo acoustic performance of All for Love. I said he played every hit, but he did skip There Will Never Be Another Tonight. It felt like – and I could be entirely wrong here – that one gets saved for if the fans want a second encore. In this case, however, they did not. He finished All for Love and there was barely even any applause, just a stampede to the exit.

Leaving, the good news was that we were close to the pickup point for the buses. The line was still ridiculous, however, and there was nobody from the stadium or the bus system to help people figure out where they needed to be. There was some confusion and some line-cutting, but whatever. They did a good job of quickly filling up buses and shipping people out of there, so I can’t complain about that. The thousands of people still in line behind us, however, might tell a different story.

On the ride back to the mall, we overheard some people talking about concessions running out of food and water around 7:00 – and this was now 11:45. Because it was a test event, I know they didn’t have all the concessions running, but still, they clearly have some bugs to work out. I chose wisely when I didn’t try to get food there or I would have wound up pretty cross. Instead, I picked up a poutine burger at midnight on the way home from the bus dropoff point, which is its own unique brand of questionable decision making.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Amanda Marshall w/The Harpoonist & the Axe Murderer (June 23)
• Hawksley Workman (June 24)
• Son of Dave (also June 24)
• Serena Ryder (June 25)
• Beck (August 20)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses w/Our Lady Peace (August 27)
• The Sadies (September 14)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Whitehorse w/Terra Lightfoot (October 13)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)

AC/DC: All The Everything Pt.10

Go get a coffee and something tasty to munch on. This one’s a big one (that’s what she said)! Seriously, you may have to read this in chunks, over the course of the coming week…

***

My last All The Everything post was waaaay back on May 24. That’s 19 days ago! Sure, I’ve been putting up posts here and there, like my awesome experience with Manipulant (thanks again!), and Mike’s #0word challenge, among others, in the interim. You’ve been here, reading, so you know already. And thanks for that!

But I’ve also been sick with this cold that’s been going around. I’m into week two now, and showing no signs of abating. Alas, this means I haven’t always felt like listening to music. But I’ve soldiered on, because the KMA always brings you the truth from the front lines.

This next band has required a heap of listening, over the past couple of weeks. It’s been fucking glorious…

AC/DC: A LOVE LETTER

Ultimately, this was an easy post to put together (though it’s taken ages, in bits and pieces). I mean, it’s fucking AC/DC! Just go with the primal, lizard brain response that that name evokes for you, and you’re there!

Over the years, I have already written up most of what I own, so I’ve provided handy links to those reviews. I’m not gonna change a damn thing about them. I hope you’ll take a moment to read back on the records that interest you.

I also had a blast going back through all my old reviews because it’s brilliant how many of these CDs have been gifted to me by Brother HMO (*), and by Brother Lebrain(^)! COMMUNITY! Thanks so much, you guys, you’ve really built up my collection!

There are a couple albums that I hadn’t yet covered in these pages, so I’ll get to them too (below). Already-posted reviews are in blue (with links). New writing for this post are marked in red, with accompanying review! I’ve placed it all in chronological order of the discography, because the KMA loves you.

Oh, and spoiler alert: These are all Hits, in the Hit It Or Quit It portion. I put this off the top so I don’t have to write it every damn record. I’m keeping them all. Of course.

ARE YOU READY? Damn right you are. Let’s get it.

***

1976 – High Voltage (cd*)

1976 – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (cd, lpx2)

1977 – Let There Be Rock (cd*)

1978 – If You Want Blood You’ve Got It (cd*)

1979 – Highway To Hell (cd*)

1980 – Back In Black (cd) and here too

1981 – For Those About To Rock We Salute You (cd*) and here too

1985 – Fly On The Wall (cs)

Maybe it’s just my cassette copy, or did this record have some sound issues? It’s not a worry, there’s something charming about hearing it rough and a wee bit sketchy like this, as though it were some sort of bootleg or something.

Side A kicks off with Fly On The Wall, pure AC/DC mission control, rev and go, baby! Shake Your Foundations brings the blues rock straight to your brain and it’s beautiful. First Blood has another one of those idelible AC/DC riffs that is so quintessentially them, you can’t help but be lifted. Danger is one of those slow, slinky swanky swaggering tracks they do so well. Oh man. Yes! Sink The Pink is one I knew already, great build, great pay off. Classic!

Side B starts with Playing With Girls rocks a great long intro, straight up barroom blues fightin’ music! That guitar bit in the chorus kinda reminds of G’n’R… Stand Up brings the ZZ blues to AC/DC land and it’s awesome. Great track for punching the sky with your fist! Hell Or High Water has the vocals buried way in the back (moreso than some others here), but that’s cool. Just another instrument in the melee. The tracks another template AC/DC rocker and I dig it… Back In Business is more ZZ blues, and I love it. Maybe one of my favourite tracks on this record! This is not a deep cut, but it’s buried like it is. Weird. And finally, Send For The Man takes out on a blissful rockin’ riff and oh man.

In Sum: Freaking great, this album’s a goddamn barroom brawl. I want a CD copy to replace this cassette I have here.

1986 – Who Made Who (cd)

This was a soundtrack for Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive. Cool. New track (at the time) Who Made Who starts us off with that (now) iconic riff and away we go! I love it when the bass keeps dropping. Visceral. You Shook Me All Night Long is one we all know well, and it’s still hotness. D.T. is another new track, an instrumental. Cool to hear them go for something without vocals – and of course it’s strong blues rock. My ear kept waiting for Brian Johnson to start screeching at any moment… There’s a neat little, quieter, throbbing outro too.  Sink The Pink is from Fly On The Wall, while Ride On is the only Bon Scott track here, a slow blues pulsing masterpiece from (the excellent) Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap album.

Hells Bells, of course, is from Back In Black, and it’s killer. Shake Your Foundations is also from Fly On The Wall. Chase The Ace is another new instrumental, and it’s another full-on AC/DC rocker. Hells yes! For Those About To Rock (We Salute You) is the titular track from that album, of course, and it’s friggin’ glory.

In Sum: A semi-weird little compilation of new stuff, old stuff, and one track from the even older stuff. I haven’t seen Maximum Overdrive in years, but I assume this collection of songs fits the show and that’s why they’re here. Rawk!

1990 – The Razor’s Edge (cd*)

1992 – AC/DC Live (2cd)

I owned this 2CD set ages ago, but I don’t know what happened to that copy. It’s possible I sold it off, but that would have been silly of me. Anyway, I looked to replace it and only ever saw the 1CD edition. This 2CD copy  I have now came to me at work before I even started working there, and of course it followed me home.

I have a soft spot for this album, as it covers so many of the songs we all know and love. More than that, it fucking rocks. What a great live sound! Recorded at Glasgow, Edmonton, Birmingham, Donington and Moscow shows on the Razor’s Edge tour, this master blaster has a companion DVD, Live At Donington (see below DVD section). Some overdubs were done afterwards, but who cares? Check this out:

CD1: Thunderstruck / Shoot To Thrill / Back In Black / Sin City / Who Made Who / Heatseeker / Fire Your Guns / Jailbreak / The Jack / The Razor’s Edge / Dirty Deeds Done Cheap / Moneytalks

CD2:  Hells Bells /  Are You Ready / That’s The Way I Wanna Rock ’n’ Roll / High Voltage / You Shook Me All Night Long / Whole Lotta Rosie / Let There Be Rock / Bonny / Highway To Hell / T.N.T. / For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

In Sum: I mean, holy shit. At this point, it’s like they’re showing off. WOOOOO!!!

1995 – Ballbreaker (cd)

Learned that this album saw the return of Phil Rudd (to Chris Slade’s chagrin), and it’s the only full album album (to date) recorded with Rick Rubin. He had previously worked on Big Gun, from the Last Action Hero soundtrack. Well then! Hard As A Rock is the single, and it’s pure AC/DC beauty. All the elements are here, and I always thought that noodly guitar riff line could’ve been done on bagpipes. They’re no strangers to those, right? Right! Cover You In Oil, the album’s third single, is a fun jaunty blues rocker at mid-pace. The Furor keeps that pace alive and is a decent track with some cool chord changes. Actually it represents a bit of a change in their sound (though not completely), and I dig it!

Boogie Man is pure blues growler, so much fun. Honey Roll is playful and built on another of those damn fine AC/DC riffs. Burnin’ Alive builds into another slinky rocker, hot damn they’re owning it again, with this record. Hail Caesar was the second single, and I swear it’s another killer. How do these guys do this? Cool. Love Bomb brings the stomp and is another one you could swear you’d heard before from these guys, but you haven’t! Magic! Caught With Your Pants Down has this great stop/start thing in the intro, then builds into this freakin’ fantastic guitar-run riff that chugs along, absolutely smokin’. Seriously, this is one of the best tracks on the record. How the hell was it not a single?!?! Whiskey On The Rocks teases a bunch of cool ideas before settling into a satisfying slow thumper that totally gets the job done. And finally, the title track, Ball Breaker takes out on another huge rocker that would absolutely own live.

In Sum: I’m no expert, but after all those years passed these guys hadn’t lost a step. This was a great record. Huge in sound, primal in execution. Turn it the hell up!!!

2000 – Stiff Upper Lip (cd^)

2008 – Black Ice (cd)

2012 – Live At River Plate (2cd^)

2014 – Rock Or Bust

* awesome gift from HMO Scott!
^ awesome gift from Mike Lebrain!

***

Also, DVD!

Live At Donington

Recorded live at Castle Donington 1991-08-17, this is the companion DVD to the AC/DC Live set (see above review), as I mentioned earlier. Huge crowd, huge energy, steallar performances… a band at the top of their game. Truly a pleasure to watch! It felt like I was there!

This disc has a different track list than my 2CD set:

Thunderstruck / Shoot To Thrill / Back In Black / Hell Ain’t A Bad Place To Be / Heatseeker / Fire Your Guns / Jailbreak / The Jack / Dirt Deeds Done Dirt Cheap / Moneytalks / Hells Bells / High Voltage / Whole Lotta Rosie / You Shook Me All Night Long / T.N.T. / Let There Be Rock / Highway To Hell / For Those About To Rock (We Salute You)

I had a quick look online, and the 1CD version of the CD is even different from this DVD setlist. Good luck keeping it all straight!

Still, this DVD has a helluva setlist, even if a ton of songs got left off from the 2CD set. The DVD also has lots of sound options, a new transfer, video band member selections for some songs, commentary from Angus and Malcolm, and a discography.

In Sum:

Fine evening viewing for the whole family!

Stiff Upper Lip (dvd)

***

The Ones I Still Need:

I still need a few more main ones on CD (shown above)…

1978 – Powerage
1983 – Flick Of The Switch
1984 – ’74 Jailbreak EP
1985 – Fly On The Wall (replace cs with cd)
1988 – Blow Up Your Video
2014 – Rock Or Bust

And then of course, still to get, there are the boxed sets, like Backtracks and Bonfire… and more DVDs… and so many singles… and so many books about them…

Still, I think have a pretty good start to the collection here, eh? Yessir!

***

A LOVE LETTER TO AC/DC – IN SUM:

First off, thanks so much to all of you, Dear KMA Readers, for reading any or all of this. It’s a lot, I know. It’s why it took me so long to get this posted, though, as there was just so much to get through, and I insist on listening back to everything I have here even if I’ve already reviewed it before. That’s the level of my commitment to this project – I will hear every record in the house, either for the first time or the millionth!

As for AC/DC… Fuckin’ A. Man, this is a band we all love, and for damn good reasons. This immersion into their work, for the past couple of weeks, has been so much fun. Right on. LET’S GO!

 

Series Stats:

10 posts
42 albums

34 hit
8 quit

36 CD
4 LP
8 CS
2 DVD

Re-Review: Slayer – Reign In Blood #0wordchallenge

I hereby accept Mike‘s #0wordchallenge.

George

I’ve known my lovely wife for what seems like forever (37 of our 43 years). Together 19 years, married 14… she’s put up with a lot from me, by now! I always joke it’s Stockholm Syndrome, at this point…

Most of what she endures is my rattling on about this band or that, this version of a song versus another, or where I was when I first heard something. Mostly, she listens in good humour, but when her eyes start to glass over, I know I’m maybe offering too many minute details… Oh, and she absolutely, categorically and completely refuses to play name that tune with me.

During our road trip to African Lion Safari and the butterfly conservatory last weekend, we had lots of time in the car. We discussed many things and a good time was had. Our daughter got to hear both her favourite Jake Bugg albums, and our son discovered that he really likes Crowded House. Right on.

Somehow, the Beatles came up in the course of our rambling, far-flung conversation. Probably because I’ve been seeing Sgt. Pepper reviews and Beatles talk in the blogs. It’s fairly well-known by now that I’m not the world’s biggest Beatles fan. I grew up on them, and burned out on them at a fairly young age. While I respect them and appreciate some (not all) of what they did, I don’t get all twitterpated about them being the world’s best whatever.

My lovely wife braced herself for my usual rant about them, but I wasn’t in the mood for that and, in fact, even mentioned a few of their songs that I like. As I listed a few off, she stopped me and said, “you know, we talk about the Beatles now and again, and whenever you mention songs that you like, they add up and I realize: you don’t like the Beatles, you like George Harrison!” It was true. I hadn’t even realized, but every song I was listing off was written by George.

Fair enough. And thanks to my lovely wife for this brilliant insight…

Hello There, Sunrise

Ages ago, we had a Music World in our shite little mall. They closed and I panicked. Then HMV took over and I felt better. As you all know, HMV closed out, and I panicked. But then Sunrise Records took over some of HMV’s spots and, when I found out we were getting one, I felt better. Apparently, these comings and goings are a bit of a rollercoaster for me. In my defense, if we didn’t have a corporate store like this, we’d be stuck with Wal-Mart and that one used shoppe downtown that, well, anyway.

Yesterday I spent about twenty minutes perusing our new Sunrise records. Apparently the shoppe’s already been open for about a week, but I just haven’t had time to get there before this. I wanted to see what was up.

It’s music store ver.3 in my town!

Some First Impressions:

– it really hasn’t changed all that much in appearance (yet, they may change more with time). Pretty sure they just re-used all the old HMV CD bins and everything.

– both staff members I saw working were from the old HMV, so at least a couple of the HMV staffers applied and got the new (old) job with Sunrise.

– I was approached by one staffer to see if I needed help, and I did – I’d looked and did not see the new Solstafir set. I’d have bought it if they had it. Not only had she never heard of them, they didn’t have a section for them in the shelves, and the deluxe wasn’t on their tiny end cap of boxed sets either. It didn’t seem likely they would be getting it either, so I guess it’s the Amazons for me, on that one.

– there are WAY more CDs than HMV ever had. This is awesome. The entire row that used to be DVD and Blu-ray in the HMV are now all CDs as well. This makes me incredibly happy. They do still have movies, at the back of the store, but music is clearly the focal point. Yay!

– CD prices seemed to be OK, maybe a wee bit higher (by $1-$2) than HMV would have done, but I’ve no way of proving that.

– they had a $5.99 CD wall, but it was all those ICON hits set CDs. Meh. Will see if they change things up, but if not I’ll miss HMV’s 2-for-$10 and 2-for-$20 sales racks.

– the LP section is much expanded, and moved front and center by the entrance, so the hipsters can’t miss it. I found most priced too high (like all places), but it’s nice to see them offering the hipsters of my town a new copy of OK Computer for $45.99 (it can be had for $30 online, shipping included). Some of the vinyls were better-priced, around $20-25, but I’d need more time to really dig.

– Punk and metal, in both CD and LP sections, are mixed into one category. Which means it’s possible that Gojira and Green Day might sit side by side in the bin. That’s OK, I guess, but a bit weird.

– There was no Guided By Voices section. While I am not surprised, this is still an oversiiiiight.

– Just testing things out, I looked for myself, then asked and… it turns out they did not have the new Kendrick Lamar album, called DAMN. (on CD or LP). This is quite weird, as it’s a huge record right now. The staffer said they may get it in soon, as their stock is still coming. They’d better!

– I found the 16’ of shelving for board games, and the entire wall of t-shirts (not to mention the other section full of crap tchotchkes, just like HMV had), to be a bit much, but after texting this to James he said (and he’s right) that no store can make it on music alone, anymore. Still, are board games that popular? Is this the new thing that hipsters will want so they can leave our LPs the hell alone? Do we need that many Ramones t-shirts? Hm. Maybe on that last point, we do…

– I didn’t see video games, but I wasn’t looking for them as I don’t play them. I assume they were at the back of the store, with the movies. Not a huge footprint for them, anyway.

In Sum:

It’s nice to have another record shoppe in town. Panic averted! I didn’t buy anything today, but I’m sure I will at some point. With only 20 minutes in the shoppe, I don’t feel I really had time to get to know it, but my first impressions are, by my gut feel, that it’s gonna do alright. I’m super-thrilled with how many more CDs they offer over the (in comparison) pathetic wee patch that HMV offered. Yes indeed, that’s great.

Alright Sunrise, time to make a go of it. Drop your LP prices and increase your sales, and you’ll have reason to stay!

KMA Search Terms

A long while back Mike, among others, started featuring funny search terms that led people to his site. I was wondering about the KMA’s input, so while I was jamming some tunes recently, I dug around in the site info for the KMA, for all of 2017 thus far.

Honestly, we don’t get that many funny or weird searches. Nothing too sexual or crazy, though I did find a few that are interesting:

 

 

burm me alive wordpress

“burm?” I don’t know what that means. Burn me alive? Haha no thank you!

akai dialer silip

Gesundheit.

kalyln pear no go haste.com mp3

I see James’ last name (misspelled), but what that has to do with pears or ‘no go haste’ I have no idea.

he make accidental physical contact

I assume this resulted after my old post about accidentally ( I swear!) bodychecking Moe Berg and Liona Boyd (on seperate occasions, mind you). But that’s a random thing to be searching (who elese has bodychecked Ms. Boyd?). However they ended up on this site, I am sorry to whomever had to Google this in their life.

“jon spencer” “masturbation”

Um, moving on…

“it suits the movie”

Does it? Does it really? And how did this lead you to our music blog?

saxytime tables name s

I may not know everything, but I know for sure that the times tables are saxy. Or maybe they meant saxytimes on tables?

bedlam, early 1990s rock band from nashville, released on mca records, fronted by jay joyce

I didn’t believe we’d ever covered a band called Bedlam or a person named Jay Joyce, but I was wrong. During the Film Soundtrack Festival of November 2016, I covered the Reservoir Dogs OMPS, and these both get mentioned in a footnote. I’d plain forgotten.

slaeyn sex

Um… Slayer sex? Is that what you were going for? Because nothing says sexy ties like South Of Heaven, if you know what I mean…

sexy fb album title

I did do a post about sexy album titles (I think?), but I have no idea what Facebook has to do with it. I don’t have a Facebook and I never will.

is natalie merchant with 10,000 at city winery on 5/25

I don’t know. Was she?

*

Well, there’s a few odd little searches that (apparently) led folks to our site. Nothing rude or sexual or genuinely crazy like those other guys sometimes get. Still, we thank the folks who wound up on our site for visiting us, even if it was inadvertent. And we hope they found what they were looking for, eventually.

RIP Freddy Pompeii

Whenever I’m in Taranna, I always grab a copy of Now and Exclaim! for my lovely wife. She likes to read about what’s going on/coming up in the city.

I was flipping through the copy of Now I’d picked up for her on our trip last weekend, and I learned that Freddy Pompeii of the Viletones had died on May 13, at the age of 70, of lung cancer.

RIP, Freddy.

There’s an excellent article/tribute right here and you should read it.

Manipulant – Eclectro: Review And Interview

Since starting this blog over ten years ago (oh god we’re old), we’ve always said that if anyone has their own music they want heard to please send it to us and we’ll gladly review it. Over these years, a few people have indeed taken us up on our offer. We love when this happens!

Manipulant found the KMA through Stoneygate, and wondered if I’d like to hear his new record. Of course I would! He also graciously agreed to answer a few of my questions, interview-style, which was very brave as I’m not the world’s best interviewer. Anyway.

This post will be made up of three parts: I: my review, II: an interview with Manipulant, and III: Manipulant’s EPK info and site links.

Disclaimer: This sort of music is not my usual wheelhouse, so listening here takes this old dog outside my already fairly broad comfort zone and that’s fantastic. Challenge me! Others, more knowledgeable than me, would write more eloquent things about this than I can. I’m just going to go from my gut and give impressions of what I hear.

 

PART I: AARON’S REVIEW

 

Run (f. Stoneygate) is such a restless track, with a cool 60s spy music feel but then this atmospheric, electronic stuff going on in the background, and with those occasional drum crashes too. Stoneygate’s vocals soar throughout, a perfect fit to this fascinating track. I loved it. Methodical thumps like Nine Inch Nails met Pet Shop Boys in the club, while the vocals come from the side, almost an afterthought, an echo as addition to the music, not overbearing at all.

Dr. Terenzi, I Need Your Expertise (f. Fiorella Terenzi) is a wee bit menacing, with distorted music and occasional vocals over a buzzsaw sound. We’ve entered the land of disorientation, a perfect soundtrack to that dream you can’t quite remember in the morning, though the edges of it nag at you all day. Marshmallow Fabrik’s bass throb with skittering overtop is utterly hypnotizing, perfect for the next club mix.

Faulty Tap is a brief half-minute intermission, some miltary-style drumming with almost a dripping sound added in, but we quickly move into jusq’à la mort nous sépare* (The Organist), which lifts us back up with that same skittering beat and some lovely organ notes held and soul-reviving. There’s real beauty here, even though he says, at one point, “I’m worried, I have a bad feeling about this” and other things besides in echoing vocals to offset it all.   [* translates roughly as ‘until death separates us’ or until death us do part.]

Requiem for 11th Earl Of Sandwich is another brief intermission, only a minute long, with a repeated musical line. Add in clicks and thumps and the atmosphere is definitely a wee bit creepy. But it’s a segue into N/A/B/C/F, an instrumental which brings synths and piano to the fore in one of my favourite tracks on the record. It’s almost as though it’s set to a ticking watch, and while one restlessly hammers out notes, the other holds long and sweet. When the piano goes solo, I’m held completely. This one has lift and hope. Beauty.

And finally, Doctor Terenzi Meets 808 (f. Fiorella Terenzi) brings back the atmosphere and throbbing bottom end, as well as the buzzing sounds and the play with volume up and down to match the beats. “… you are listening to real sounds, scientific sound space…” seems apt to me! He’s calling for Dr. Terenzi, he needs her expertise, but this track has been compiled by an expert already! When the track (and thus, the album) stops abruptly, your ear wants more, so much more.

In Sum:

I said in my disclaimer off the top that this is not my usual type of music. However, I know brilliance when I hear it, and the dark corners and hypnotic lulling of this effort are perfectly done. There’s an energy throughout, a real, thoughtful control, and fearless execution at every turn. Despite things being bleak sometimes, there’s hope, and in this way it is perfect for our times. A truly impressive, packed 27 minutes of music, and an album to which I will return because it will reveal more and more with each subsequent listen.

I thoroughly enjoyed Eclectro. Thank you so much, Manipulant, for this opportunity to hear your work!

 

PART II: THE INTERVIEW

 

[NB: For this reading, Manipulant is “M” and Aaron is “A.”]

A: You found this site through (the awesome) Stoneygate. How did your collaboration with her on this record come about?

M: You are correct, Stoneygate is awesome.  She actually found me.  I had a song featured on Radiocoolio out of Toronto. They do a fantastic job of giving exposure to some really excellent artists.  Stoneygate heard me on the show and dropped me a message. I did a little stalking and found her stuff on the web and although our styles are completely different I felt her vocal would be a good fit on “Run”  I think it creates a nice contrast.

A: How did you reconcile the (rather bleak) social commentary lyrics with such fun musical work on Run?

M: I think Stoneygate described the music as menacing when she first heard it.  That really was what I was trying to accomplish with it.  Something dark and driving.  It needed to try to capture the mood I was seeing around me in the aftermath of the U.S. elections and some of the chaos that was happening elsewhere in the world.

A: Your EPK info indicates that Dr. Fiorella Terenzi is an Italian astrophysicist, which makes this a unique collaboration indeed. Tell us how you came to work with her?

M: Pure luck. I was familiar with her “Music From the Galaxies” album released on Island Records some years ago and a song I was working on reminded me of her Acoustic Astronomy recordings that came from her research.  Really fascinating stuff, look her up.  Anyway, I sent her a copy of what I was working on and she loved it. She asked if she could get involved with the project and I of course agreed immediately.  Now I’m the only person I know with an astrophysicist in their rolodex.

A: From this album I hear worry and fear about society at large, but also hope and beauty. Can you tell us a little bit about the album’s concept?

M: It all evolved from Run. It can be difficult to maintain a theme throughout an album but I had several bits of things I had been working on at different times that all seemed to fit together. I don’t typically delve into social issues in my songwriting but I guess at the time it was something I felt appropriate.

A: Are the interludes (Faulty Tap and Requiem For 11th Earl Of Sandwich) mere segues, or do their brief moments carry heavier burdens, telling stories and shifting moods in little time?

M: Ah, now we are getting deep.  Tap was an extension of the frustration of Run put into something as simple and maddening as a leaky faucet.  Earl is kind of a death a civility thing.  So yes, they do contribute to the feel of the album in the form of a brief moment.

A: I looked up the 11th Earl Of Sandwich, John Montagu. Can you explain why he was chosen to be titular to your track?

M: It wasn’t the man in particular, it was more of an example of civility.  It could be a bit of a reach but when I think of civility I imagine Nobility. I hope he doesn’t become angry with me.

A: What does N/A/B/C/F mean? It’s one of my favourite tracks on the record, so I’m curious.

M: N/A/B/C/F is Not All Birds Can Fly. Originally released on (Manipulant’s 2016′ album) Méthode de Narration. This version took a different approach with different instrumentation so I gave it a different name – sort of.

A: Your EPK mentions Kraftwerk as an inspiration in Marshmallow Fabrik. Who are a few of the other artists you admire as being able to drive you towards your own creations?

M: I feel like I should explain Fabrik first.  I think many of us carry on as if we are living in a marshmallow factory. Everything is in order and it’s all fluffy and delicious. We don’t focus on things outside of our own space. We continue on with blinders as long as our personal factories keep producing things that make us happy.

Kraftwerk are a big influence for anyone that ever touched a $25 Casio.  Until Fabrik I never really noticed a defined influence on my work but it has always been there. New Order, the Fall, Legendary Pink Dots, Tom Waits, many others.

A: I read that this is your second record, 2016’s Méthode de Narration being your first. Not having heard Méthode myself, can you describe for us how Eclectro works beside Méthode, in what ways they’re similar or different? Does this second effort continue the first, or move in its own direction?

M: MdN was more of a feeling out process. Like what can I do by myself with a keyboard. It actually had a good amount of guitars and live percussion but it was certainly a step in cutting the cord which I did completely with Eclectro.

As for the songs themselves, they are mostly just stories of things. No real depth or theme.

So it is less of a continuation and more of an evolution.

A: Who is The Organist? Another player, an alter-ego, a character you made up?

M: The Organist is based entirely on a real person. In fact, most of the lyrics are actual quotes as the police led him away.

A: Anything else at all you’d like to add for our Dear Readers?

M: Don’t work in a marshmallow factory.

 

My huge thanks to Manipulant for agreeing to this interview, and for these excellent answers!

 

PART III: EPK INFO, ALBUM CREDITS AND INFO, AND SITE LINKS

 

“The second Manipulant release mostly adheres to the blueprint of 2016’s Méthode de Narration. The hypnotic rhythms, dark tones and vivid imagery are all present in “Eclectro” due 6.20.17. This time though, he brings along some help. Italian Astrophysicist Dr. Fiorella Terenzi and England’s chilled trip-hop siren Stoneygate both join in with sterling contributions. The latter in the driving social commentary of “Run” and Dr. Terenzi, the Goddess of Acoustic Astronomy, vocal bombs her own tribute song in “Dr. Terenzi, I Need Your Expertise”. Additionally, “Methodical” comes dance floor ready, “Marshmallow Fabrik” harkens Kraftwerk and The Organist makes a twisted reappearance. Once again, Manipulant manages to draw the listener inside his head, drag them through his thoughts and drop them into an empty room to contemplate what the hell just happened.”

Track listing; 1. Run (feat. Stoneygate) 2. Methodical 3. Dr. Terenzi, I Need Your Expertise (feat. Fiorella Terenzi) 4. Marshmallow Fabrik 5. Faulty Tap 6. jusqu’à la mort nous sépare (The Organist) 7. Requiem for the 11th Earl of Sandwich 8. N/A/B/C/F 9. Dr. Terenzi Meets the 808 (Feat. Fiorella Terenzi)

Recorded at Le Petit Manoir & Rotten Alex’s Basement. Mastered by Logan Kennedy. Ryan Durborow – Additional Keyboard on Methodical

http://manipulantmusic.com/

https://manipulant.bandcamp.com/

twitter @ManipulantMusic

Wanna Go To Taranna Pt.2: The Ones That Got Away

As I mentioned a couple of times in yesterday’s posts, I could easily have spent a whole lot more in BMV and Sonic Boom than I did. Actually, I feel I showed excellent restraint, even though I still got a pile of great tunes! Man, given unlimited funds, I’d have told them to back up a truck and we could start loading it up…

Anyway, there were too many great records I left behind to list them all, but three come to mind as worthy of mention…

1 – Refused – The Shape Of Punk To Come (2CD/1DVD set), at BMV. It was only $9.99. The second CD was a live set, and the DVD had the videos and a documentary.

But I reasoned that I already own the CD itself, and would I use the other discs that much when it’s the album I really love? I left it, in favour of spending that $10 on other things.

 

 

2 – Pavement – Wowee Zowee (original LP), at BMV. It was a new arrival. The guy said it was $25 because it was VG or VG+. Woulda been more if it was in better shape (he said). But there was some wear on the jacket and the LPs were OK but not VG+ in my mind. Still, how often do you see an original Pavement LP? Because I never see them! It was reeeeaaaallllly tempting because I love Pavement so much, but I left it because that was a lot for one LP and not the nicest copy (yet still the only copy I’ve ever seen). You see my dilemma. I texted Mike and he said it’s about that price online but the shipping kills. Gah!

 

 

3 – Dillinger Escape Plan – Instrumentalist 7″ (RSD 2017), at Sonic Boom. I didn’t get any RSD stuff this year, and I am a fan of DEP. But apparently not the biggest fan as I had this $12.99 7″ in my hand a while before finally putting it back. It was only two songs, and $6.50 per song is steep when I already had a basket full of other goodies. I dunno, it was real tempting, but how much would I play it? But it’s awesome and collectible… Gah!

 

 

In Sum:

A few times today, I feel like I probably shoulda just bought them anyway. I’d have been happy with all of them. And I know that they’ll be looong gone by the time I get back there, likely in the fall, with Mike. Ah well. I’m super-happy with what I did bring home, so these will be the ones that got away!

Wanna Go To Taranna

A successful day in the big (sh)city for me and my Dad! Lots to tell, but it’s late, I did a lot of driving and walking (I’m tired) and there’s work and getting the kids to school in the morning… Still, the least I can do is report back on today’s adventures real quick…

Traffic was non-existant (Mike, our next trip should be on a Sunday!), the weather said rain but we got sunny and warm, and the city was alive with people and festivals and awesome.

Parked up at Bloor, saw that Honest Ed’s is gone. The signs are still there but the store is empty. End of an era. I hit up BMV and Dad went off and did his thing. I could have spent SO much in BMV, it’s crazy. Really quality stock, as always. I was thrilled to see they have turned all their CDs with spines up so you can scan the titles without flipping – an excellent development. I didn’t get a whole of time with the LPs, but they have a ton…

Here are my BMV Scores (all CD):

Soooo much greatness here, eh? Wowzers!

NB: The Iron & Wine, Chuck Brown/Eva Cassidy and Jeff “Tain” Watts came from the 3-for-$10 bin.

NB: I wish Watts had a song called “Bartók” on his Bar Talk album. Alas, he does not. Missed opportunity, that.

***

Dad and I then met at Paupers for lunch (awesome as always), and walked down through the Annex to Chinatown. Kensington Market was jammed with people, as some sort of Art Festival was going on. The whole area was blocked off to cars, and people were dancing and singing and doing things (one lady was a Poet For Hire. Give her money and a topic, and she would type you out a new poem on the spot on her old Underwood). I hit up Sonic Boom while Dad went off and did his thing.

My Sonic Boom Scores (all CD):

Holy mackerel, what a pile of awesome! And again, as is always the case with Sonic Boom, several of these were either $0.99 or $2.99. And I could have spent soooo much more in there, too. I had a basket full and made myself go through and put stuff back. It was painful.

NB: The Buddy Guy is a high school nostalgia grab for me. I loved that set then, and I bet I will now.

NB: The 10,000 Maniacs was one I said I’d watch for when I put Quit on the three records of theirs I have (during their All The Everything series post, a while back). And here it is! It’s a hits disc and a rarities disc together. Right on.

NB: Granelli is a jazz drummer. DJ Stinkin’ Rich is a Buck 65 alias. Oh baby.

NB: The Evens includes Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat, Fugazi). With my three (3!) Fugazi scores at BMV as well, it was an Ian MacKaye kind of day.

NB: Though it was new CD full price, the Cowboy Junkies had to come home. Check out who guests on it: Skydiggers, Sarah Harmer, Hawksley Workman, Jason Collett, Doug Paisley, Lee Harevy Osmond, The Good Family, Martin Tielli & Dave Clark, The Screwed, Reid Jamieson, Harlan Pepper, Jessy Bell Smith, The Potion Kings, Ivy Mairi… Wow!

NB: The Greg MacPherson… I texted James did he need it, it was only $0.99. Nope, he had it already and likes it alot, said I should get it for myself and if I didn’t like it, he would give me $0.99. Challenge accepted!

NB: The Jam tribute is cool. Yes, it has Oasis twats on it, but it has Beastie Boys too so that makes it all better.

***

So then we walked back up to the car, blasted out of town. Quick bite to eat in Orangeville (watching some of the Memorial Cup hockey game on TV – Windsor beat Erie 4-3), then home.

***

And there you have it. A busy day encapsulated in one short-ish post. You’ll see all of these albums in the All The Everything series, eventually. At least now you know from whence they came. Also, sad to report I did not find one single Grail List item for anyone. Sorry, folks. I tried! I really did (the list was in my phone)! Ah well, next time.

Thanks, Taranna!

Grail List Reminder

Hey Dear Readers, it’s Aaron aka Mr. Books of the KMA…

A quick reminder that it’s early this Sunday morning (two days from today) that I head to Taranna on my (most recent) record shopping excursion. I can’t wait!!

So, knowing this, if you have any changes or additions to make to your Grail List, let us know today or tomorow.

If you don’t have a list and you want one, by all means drop us an email at keepsmealive at gmail dot com. Remember, the Master Grail List exists to share the titles of those special albums you’ve never been able to find, in shoppes or online, at all or at reasonable prices. It allows us all to aid each other by keeping our eyes peeled when we’re in our own neighbourhood shoppes. Never know when someone might walk right past the album you’ve wanted for years! And in case you’re wondering, the list really does work. Since the list’s inception, we’ve had several successes already! GO, KMA READERS, GO!

COMMUNITY!!

SLCR #280: Colter Wall (May 8, 2017)

I don’t know when I first learned that Colter Wall was a musician. It seemed like it just happened one day and suddenly he was everywhere. It was notable around these parts because Wall is the son of our Premier (the equivalent of a Governor for my American pals). This is the kind of thing that probably helped him a lot for a while and may be as much of a hindrance these days. When referencing the concert, I heard “great singer, shame about his dad” more than once.

But whatever. When your dad’s the Premier, that probably opens some doors in Saskatchewan. That doesn’t get you onto Rolling Stone’s list of 10 New Country Artists You Need to Know. It doesn’t get you a touring gig opening for Steve Earle. It doesn’t get Stone Cold Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar discussing how much they love your music on an episode of Austin’s podcast… okay, it probably DOES get you that since Brock lives here now and has met the Premier. But still. That other stuff.

I saw Colter at the folk festival a few years ago. At the time, he wasn’t big enough to merit a main stage spot, playing only a few songs as a teaser between headline acts. If I’m being honest, I thought he seemed a little nervous and I didn’t think that he came across that well. He had definite potential but wasn’t there yet. Since then came all that stuff I listed above. And I listened to his debut EP, Imaginary Appalachia, and it was really good. Dude won me over. This show was the launch party for his (self-titled) first full-length album and I was looking forward to seeing him live again.

On the weekend before the show, Mika fell ill with a cold. “Tell me if you don’t feel like going to Colter Wall and I’ll see if someone else wants to go,” I said on Sunday afternoon. “I’m not going to Colter Wall,” she said at 3:30 am Monday. I appreciated the advance notice, and we were both awake anyway, but it probably could have waited until morning. Anyway, she spent the day home sick and I went to work with a mission to find someone to take this extra ticket off my hands.

Luckily, Jason, a friend from an ungodly long time ago if I stop to think about it, has a blog. And in said blog, he had recently referenced Colter Wall and mentioned he didn’t have plans to go to the show. I checked with him and to my delight, he was in. It was either doors at 7:00, show at 8:00, or 8:00/9:00 depending on where you looked, so we agreed to meet at the Exchange just before 8:00. He got there a few minutes before I did and saw Colter hanging out with friends outside the venue.

Once inside, we got beers. I don’t know from beer so I went with my old standby, Same For Me. Whatever it was, it was good. We took our beers and made our way into the concert hall. It was a sold-out show with very little seating, so we found ourselves a good standing spot. The crowd was an interesting mix of country fans, hipsters, and Sask Party MLAs (and someone who we were pretty sure was Colter’s dad in a leather jacket) – if I ever hung out with people, I’d say this was “not my usual crowd.” I may also have compared it to being on the bridge of the ship in Spaceballs but I said I’d leave my politics out of this.

The opener was John Clay, who played a short acoustic set before returning later in the evening as Wall’s drummer. He played a mix of originals and covers that I didn’t know, encouraging us to check out music by his influences; in particular, the only album ever released by Willis Alan Ramsey. This suffered from the usual curse of nobody paying attention to the opener, but those of us who did got some good tunes. And though he was mostly pretty low-key, there was one point where he really showed off his voice and that got everyone’s attention. Fine stuff.

Wall, on the other hand, isn’t one for vocal showmanship. He has a deep bass baritone that suits his songs well. Not a huge range but he can bring the intensity when required. He was playing with a small band and showed no trace of the nervousness I had seen (or imagined) before. He was calm and confident and came across like a seasoned veteran.

As you’d expect, he played most of the songs from his new album and his EP, which, together, are about long enough to fill out a set. I don’t know how new the new material is – whether this was the first time he played it live here or if it was already familiar to much of the crowd. Everything got a really good reaction but the best was saved for two favourites from the EP – The Devil Wears a Suit and Tie and the last song of the encore, Sleeping on the Blacktop.

It’s hard to reconcile some of Wall’s songs with his upbringing. This likely isn’t an issue for anyone who doesn’t live here and shouldn’t be an issue for me. I mean, I don’t know anything about the guy personally and I know that songwriters don’t have to be autobiographical. But you get to songs like “You Look to Yours” with the line “don’t trust no politicians” and I get distracted, you know? But that shouldn’t matter if the songs are good, and these are, so never mind me.

I feel like I’ve been nitpicky here but this was a really good show. Packed house, hometown (well, homeprovince) crowd, great music. Would go again. Jason made this point but I’ll reiterate it – from all the buzz and the success Wall’s having, this could be the last time we’ll get to see him in a venue this small. And though he’s apparently living in the States now, I suspect he won’t be skipping past Regina on future tours even if he makes it big. So, you know, I’ll gladly take advantage of his connections when they benefit me.

UPCOMING CONCERTS:
• Bryan Adams w/Our Lady Peace and Johnny Reid (May 27)
• Son of Dave (June 24)
• Serena Ryder (June 25)
• kd lang (August 26)
• Guns N’ Roses (August 27)
• The New Pornographers w/Born Ruffians (October 6)
• Martha Wainwright (October 22)

Accept: All The Everything Pt.9

I’ll just put it out there off the top – I wasn’t an Accept fan back in the day (I was the jazz kid), and I really don’t know much about them now except that they’re a metal band (in my mind from the 80s, though clearly they’re still going). Robert, a buddy of mine in high school likely played them for me at several points but, hanging out with Robert, everything was 80s metal so I maybe didn’t register it properly.

Worse, I bought both cassettes (listed below) at work for $0.50 each and until I got here for this series, I’d not yet played them! Good thing I’m getting to ‘em now, eh?

Also, as is obvious from the dates on these albums I have here (below), there are huge gaps in my Accept collection. In studio albums alone (to date), I am missing 11 records. Not to mention 5 live albums and 7 compilations. I am by no means an expert. 

Alright, enough padding this damn post, let’s get into the records:

1983 – Balls To The Wall (cs)

OK, I know the title track here. What a riff!  I really like the crunch of this track. Hearing it today reminds me of a weird hybrid of classic Judas Priest, Bon Scott-era AC/DC, and wee bit of Motörhead (when he’s not screaming, he sounds a bit like Lemmy). Not that I’m complaining at all. The album carries on in this vein in its entirety. The riffs are crushing whether the songs are fast or slow, and the songs have just enough without being too much. Better, it transcends its era to achieve a sort of timelessness that is really, really satisfying. Fucking epic, top to bottom. This one was certified Gold for a reason. Definite Hit, though I’ll replace cassette with CD when I can.

1986 – Russian Roulette (cs)

TV War starts us off with a 100 mph blast, whoa! Listening, as I am, on the heels of Balls To The Wall, I hear all the same things all over again and I frickin’ love it. Three years on (this is their 7th record) and Accept is business as usual, and the business of rocking the hell out is damn good. Wiki tells me this was their last album with their singer Udo Dirkschneider for another 7 years…

There’s a swagger to what they do, a bluesy metal stomp that could easily be parody in the hands of lesser bands, but these guys nail it track after track after track. Another Hit, though again I’ll replace cassette with CD when I can. I’d play this one anytime. It’s really quite awesome.

2010 – Blood Of The Nations (cd)

I already wrote this one up (link in album title, above), but of course for this series I had to play it through again. There’s a gap in my Accept collection so huge as to make my perspective all off when it comes to what happened in between. Thank goodness for the internet! As I learned, “It is the band’s first studio recording since 1996’s Predator and the first album to feature vocalist Mark Tornillo and drummer Stefan Schwarzmann. It is the first Accept album without Udo Dirkschneider on vocals since Eat the Heat (1989), and the band’s first album to feature guitarist Herman Frank since Balls to the Wall (1983).”

All that to discover that this is another full-on metal record with not a stinker track to be found. Even though it was recorded in 2010, it could easily fit into the 80s with the other albums I heard before it.

You know, three records into listening to these guys and I’m starting to think they were unable to make a bad track. Statistically, of course, over a career as long as theirs this is nigh on an impossible claim, but all I hear here is beautiful, crisp, clean metal that makes you smile. Definite Hit. Accept is 3/3!

In Sum: 

Going into this series, I thought maybe this would be another band for which a compilation would be enough to make me happy. Now, having heard three of their albums (despite being decades apart), I wonder if the albums proper are the way to go, because all three of these are Hits for sure. What say you, Dear Readers? What’s more Acceptable for you, compilation or albums?

 

Series Stats:

9 posts
27 albums

19 hit
8 quit

20 CD
1 LP
7 CS

Manchester Bombing

News is still coming in as I type this (around midnight last night), but it appears that 19 people are dead and 59 others are injured in Manchester tonight. Police suspect a terrorist attack, which happened at an Ariana Grande concert at Manchester Arena.

Two explosions were reported, coming just after Grande’s show had ended.

This news site here seems to be live updating, so by morning there should be more information about this horrible event. My first thought was of the Eagles Of Death Metal concert in France, another event where a bombing took place.

Keep your eyes on your news feeds (or the link above, probably) as more information becomes available.

Our thoughts go out to all Mancunians in this troubling and terrible time.

ABBA: All The Everything Pt.8

Growing up, my aunt had a turntable. It played a lot of ABBA, and not just the hits, she played whole albums. Though arguably, they had so many hit songs that some of their records were probably like hits albums anyway… But my sister liked them (and played them often), my Mom, my Grandfather… This is all to say I heard them a lot, whether I wanted to or not.

I often associate ABBA with Elvis and the Beatles. Yes, you could look at it from a sales perspective, or from the angle of fame, but for me it was about burnout. I heard those three so much in my childhood that these days I tend to avoid them simply because I can. I don’t dislike any of them, but I don’t go out of my way to hear them.

Years ago, when my Grandfather died, my Mom gave me his cassette case (which looks like a full-sized faux leather briefcase, you know the kind… and I still have it). It was full of all the music he loved, all of which will appear in this series as I come to them. And, of course, inside this case was his black-covered copy of ABBA Gold.

Being an intrepid KMA reporter, I knew I had to play it in order to write it up for this series. I admit trepidation, because (through no fault of their own) I am still, all these years later, pretty tired of ABBA. But also, playing through it, I had many sweet memories of my Grandfather, as though he were there listening to it with me. I liked that part a lot. I suppose, now, the two are inextricably linked in my mind, though of course he loved many more types of music than just this, too. It’ll probably happen every time I get to a tape that used to be his…

And the contents of this tape? Holy mackerel, what a sea of memories. And all 19 of these tunes are so popular and ubiquitous, I don’t even need to tell you about any of them. Here:

SIDE A: Dancing Queen / Knowing Me, Knowing You / Take A Chance On Me / Mamma Mia / Lay Your Love On Me / Super Trouper / I Have A Dream / The Winner Takes It All / Money, Money, Money

SIDE B: SOS / Chiquita / Fernando / Voulez-Vous / Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight) / Does Your Mother Know / One Of Us / The Name Of The Game / Thank You For The Music / Waterloo

See? Every track an ear worm, a generally accepted bona fide huge hit. I’m not arguing that at all. For me, though, I doubt I’ll ever play it again. Generally, that would make it a Quit. But the memories of my Grandfather (because I’m a sentimental old fool) make me want to keep it here just to hold on to that part of him, and since there can be no middle ground, it’s a Hit. I dunno, maybe my Mom would want it back… I wonder if she even has a cassette player anymore…

Series Stats:

8 posts
24 albums

16 hit
8 quit

19 CD
1 LP
5 CS

Sunday Morning Coming Down

Hey Dear Readers,

So it’s been busy around here, and I have posts in the works but nothing completed.

To tide you over, here’s some goofy pics a la the old Sunday Service posts of yore.

Enjoy, and stay tuned (pun intended). More All The Everything posts will appear eventually…

R.I.P. Chris Cornell

Woke this morning to this news. Still processing it…

Chris Cornell, singer from Soundgarden, Temple Of The Dog, Audioslave and solo career has passed away at the age of 52.

At the time of this posting, no cause of death has been given.

R.I.P. Chris. Thank you for the music.

54-40 Dear Dear Contest Winner!

First off, a huge thanks to everyone who entered!

The question was: What is the full running time of Dear Dear?

The answer is: 54:40!

Oh those clever Canucks.

 

As promised, I placed all correct entrants’ names into a toque (my Rage Against The Machine toque, natch). My lovely wife, a neutral third party, drew the winning name.

The Winner Is: SARCA!

Congratulations, Sarca! Your brand new copy of Dear Dear will be winging its way to you ASAP.

Thanks again, everyone! Keep your eyes peeled for more contests in future…

 

Special mention goes to Deke, who included the times of all individual tracks on the album with his answer, and then proceeded to jokingly comment the tracks of the debut L.A. Guns album. I’d had to have come up with a consolation prize for him if he had included its Japanese-only bonus track, Winter’s Fool. I’m sure Mike would agree! 😉

Contest Deadline Today

Hey Dear Readers!

Today is your last chance to enter to win your very own (brand new, still in shrink-wrap) copy of 54-40’s amazing Dear Dear album (1992)!

Entries have been coming in, so don’t miss your chance!

GO HERE TO ENTER! Or HERE! Or maybe HERE!

Or how about HERE?

Winning entrant will be announced in these pages tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17). Stay tuned!*

 

*See what I did there? 😉

Filing Snag: It Could Go Both Ways*

I ran into an interesting filing conundrum when it came to the next two bands in the All The Everything series, Accept and AC/DC.

Simply put, does one count the / in AC/DC’s name when filing alphabetically?

 

1) If not counting it, meaning removal of the / from the name, it would look like this:

Accept
AC/DC

because the order would be ACCept then ACDc.

2) If yes, it counts as something preceeding alphabetization between the C and the D, it would look like this (and iTunes does it this way):

AC/DC
Accept

because the order would be AC/dc then ACCept.

I know, right? These are the things which keep me up at night.

After chewing on this for a while, I asked my lovely wife what she thought. Basically, after looking at me to be sure I was seriously asking this of her (I WAS!), she asked how I will remember it best when I go to my collection to get an album, and go with that. Ultimately, she couldn’t care less. And fair play to her, she has suffered these minutiae questions of mine for many years, now, the dear lady.

So, to avoid spinning wheels any longer, I have chosen to flout iTunes’ tyranny, and to not count the / in AC/DC’s name. Which means I will follow option 1, covering Accept first, and then AC/DC.

After deliberation, I have found this choice to be Acceptable.

And it really doesn’t matter. I’ve got a whole lotta rockin’ in my future in whichever order I choose to cover them!

* In other words, it could be AC or DC… 🙂

SLCR #279: BA Johnston (April 28, 2017)

My discovery of BA Johnston was tied directly to his 2015 Polaris Prize nomination. Mika and I were on a road trip – coming back from the farm maybe? – and she’d found a streaming audio station playing songs off the 40 albums that had made the long list that year. After a stretch of good-if-samey indie rock, Johnston’s song Gonna End Up Working in Fort McMurray really stood out. It was funny, and I made a mental note to check out more of his music later. Which, of course, I didn’t do.

A while later, Johnston unwittingly found himself mixed into some Polaris controversy. The very short version is that disputes among Polaris jurors led to one juror revealing contents of a private message board where some of the selection discussion was taking place. This included several jurors, including musician and CBC personality Grant Lawrence, being dismissive of Johnston’s music. Which, whatever. Taste is subjective and all that, and I can see Johnston’s low-budget, mostly-comedy music not being everyone’s cup of tea.

Anyway, this all reminded me that I was going to check out Johnston’s music, so I pulled up his Polaris-nominated (and then-newest) album, Shit Sucks. Looking over the tracklist, I went straight for the song Shitty Cat:

Go in the kitchen and I see my cat
On the counter eating taco meat
Say to my cat, “what the hell you doing”
He looks at me, keeps eating taco meat
I got a shitty cat, shitty cat, yo man he’s looking at me
I got a shitty cat, looks at me and then he falls asleep

There’s more, but you get the idea. For whatever reason, I would love to hear Gordon Lightfoot cover this song.

So yeah, I wound up buying the album. And then a bunch more. And then many again on vinyl. I may have a problem. Two of my records came from his own online store. The first was hand-addressed to James “Lite Lunch” Kalyn; the second, James “Dust Mop” Kalyn. Apparently you get a free gift with purchase and said gift is a nickname. I’m glad I planned things out poorly and made two separate purchases. What I lost in extra shipping costs I made up for in nickname.

I hadn’t seen him live before this, though. He tours across Canada regularly, but last time he played Regina was the night before we began our trip to BC last summer, and I didn’t think I could be out that late before a day full of driving. Little did I know.

I’ve only ever been to O’Hanlon’s once before for a show. It was 2006 and it was Geoff Berner playing in front of a completely apathetic crowd. O’Hanlon’s doesn’t charge cover, and the regular O’Hanlon’s patrons were not at all interested in Berner’s music, and he didn’t seem real interested in playing for them. I hoped Johnston would be a better fit.

Not knowing what time we could expect the show to start, I arbitrarily chose 10:00 p.m. based what Johnston had said on Twitter about other shows on the tour. It’s been probably a decade since I’ve been to a show on Amigo’s time and I am now much, much older. Like, 10 years older. And I didn’t care for the late starts then.

As we are old, we tried napping before the show, but a certain yowly cat outside the bedroom door was having none of this. Shitty cat, indeed. I eventually locked him in the basement but by then he had angered up my blood enough that I wasn’t about to get to sleep. Mika managed a bit of a nap, but not enough.

We got to the bar right at 10:00. This left us well-positioned to stand around for a further hour and a half before the openers started. I guessed poorly. As we hung out and drank our Diet Cokes like cool guys, we saw Johnston wandering around in a “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase shirt.

Our openers were Napalmpom from Calgary. They were loud. This was the number 1 impression they made on me. Also the number 2 impression through to somewhere in the 30s. The other impression they made was because one of the guitarists was really into everything they played, and he looked just enough like Colin to make this all hilarious to me. And then the loud thing again.

I get that I am old and I was up late and crotchety and you don’t even use that word before a certain age, but whatever. This was way too loud for the size of the place. The volume made it all sound kinda similar and my ears were still sore when I woke up the next day. Despite that, I still enjoyed them well enough, but they needed to be dial it back or they need to play someplace bigger. That said, BA Johnston (who is in fact older than me) seemed to enjoy them a lot – he spent most of their set down in the audience at the front of the stage.

During the break, Johnston set up his gear – this did not take long, as I’ll get into – and a big light-up BA that decorated the stage. Instead of starting the show, he announced that he was going to go change his pants and have a smoke. Which he did, I assume. He returned brandishing two sparklers, wearing a sailor’s cap, and draped in a Hamilton Tiger Cats flag; that he wasn’t immediately run out of town on a rail is proof that this wasn’t the regular bar crowd.

I would stop short of calling Johnston a full-on comedy act, but there is a lot of comedy involved, which means I have the potential to spoil the show for anyone who reads this. Especially considering that BA himself said that the show never changes. So I won’t go into great detail, but be assured that if you go to a BA Johnston show, you will see costume changes, snot rockets, and confetti which may or may not get sweat-stuck to back fat.

As for the music, BA has three instruments; a keyboard he played maybe twice, an acoustic guitar that has to have seen better days, and a Discman. He generally alternated between the Discman and the guitar. The Discman – sometimes referred to as an Apple 5c or a BlackBerry Notebook – was used to play backing tracks. This would free BA up to run out into the crowd, pour drinks into fans’ mouths, climb on tables, pour drinks into bartenders’ mouths, all that good stuff.

One highlight was hearing Johnston play his new song Saskatchewan for what may have been the very first time in Saskatchewan. At the very least, it isn’t one he plays on tour often; you could tell because he sat still and concentrated for the “45 fuckin’ minutes” it took to play it. (Its actual running time is 2:13, which would still be among BA’s longer songs.) The rest of the time, he was in constant motion – either frantically strumming the guitar or running all over the place.

Saskatchewan is an introspective (for BA, anyway) tribute to the land of the Roughriders, Wonderland arcade, and Humpty’s; a province where “all wounds can be healed but the thirteenth man on the field.” He really gets us.

A number of other songs were also from Johnston’s new album, Gremlins III, including Alley Beers, I’m Stayin’ In, and personal favourite Dayoff is a Dayoff. He did not play Shitty Cat and that is too bad. But I got another one of my favourites in GST Cheque, which not only has an excellent singalong part, but gives me warm nostalgic feelings about getting a “random cheque for like 63 bucks.” He closed with Best Day Ever, which is obviously about the day that the McDonalds coupons show up in the mail. The encore was only one song and as per tradition, he sang it in the bathroom. Specifically the men’s room, but I gather that can vary. It looked like he was standing on a toilet or a sink – I wasn’t sure. The song was I Wanna Drink With Aliens – I couldn’t really hear it (he was off-mic) but it’s another good singalong number so I got the gist of it.

And that was it – the whole set clocked in at a little over an hour. I would have happily taken more but I get that you can only keep that pace for so long, plus I appreciate someone who doesn’t leave ’em wanting less. Plus it was like 1:30 a.m. And it’s getting close to that now because I left my computer unattended and it rebooted for surely good reasons and I lost half my review and had to redo it. I made it better! Which says all it needs to about the original version. Anyway, I’m done now.

Taranna, Grail List Stuff, Contest Reminder

Hiya KMA Readers, it’s your friendly neighbourhood Aaron, here!

Just some admin stuff to clear up…

Let’s get in there and give ‘er!

 

Taranna

I will be in Taranna on May 28. Looking for records. Oh baby. Which means…

Grail List Updates

If you have anything to add/remove from your Grail Lists, let me know by May 27! If you don’t have a list yet, but you want one, send it to us! Remember, these are items you really want but cannot get at reasonable prices. Let’s all help each other find our Grail Items!

Grail List Addition

While I’m at it, I have added the Five Hole Band – Tales Of Hockey Erotica to my list. I can’t find one online for under $50. Can you find me one for good price?

And lastly,

Contest Reminder

Don’t forget a new (still sealed!) copy of 54-40’s amazing Dear Dear album is up for grabs. GO ENTER HERE! Contest runs until Tuesday May 16. Winning entries will be drawn from a toque, and the winner will be posted in these pages on Wednesday May 17!

Thanks for reading. Carry on!

 

Lee Aaron: All The Everything Pt.7

Alrighty, for this post I’m rockin’ some 80s rawk CanCon. It’s Lee Aaron, and I own the albums from 1985-1991. Let’s dig in and see what we get…

1985 – Call Of The Wild (cs)

Lee’s third album is heavy in that sweet 80s way, and the lyrics are sometimes (let’s be honest) cheesy. This album spawned three singles (Rock Me All Over, Runnin’ From The Fire, and Barely Holdin’ On). Aaron can really sing, and there’s a pure quality to her voice. This is still a quit, ‘cos it’s on cassette.

1987 – Lee Aaron (cs)

This fourth record had four singles (Powerline, Only Human, Goin’ Off The Deep End, and Dream With Me). I wasn’t as into this one, it’s a lot lighter fare. There are still a couple of satisfying rockers, but I found myself waiting for some of the songs to be over, though even those I could tell she was trying her damndest. Quit.

1989 – Bodyrock (cs)

Shift gears again on her fifth… No getting around it, Whatcha Do To My Body is full-on, big fun times rawk. Buzzsaw guitars, Lee’s powerful vocals, it’s all here. Add Hands On as another single, and this record was her best-selling to date, with nominations at the Junos and certifying Platinum the year of its release. Yup, this was the big time. Commercial? Hell yes. But I liked this record. It’s slick, well-crafted, and I assume it’s one of the ones to have in any essential Lee Aaron collection. Quit because cassette.

1991 – Some Girls Do (cd)

Follow-up, and her 6th record, Some Girls Do, is more big bluesy rock and fun times, with only one ballad tacked onto the end. Seriously, it’s all rawk. Heck, the first couple of songs reminded me of Motley Crue… At this point, though, I am suffering a wee bit of Lee Aaron fatigue. I like what she does, but four straight albums was a lot for me. I might need to come back later and play this one again. But today: Quit.

In Sum:

After four straight Lee Aaron records, I don’t know how much I would listen to her on a regular basis, but for this project I had a pretty good time. No matter whether the music has aged well or not, it’s unquestionable that Aaron can really, really belt it out.

Given that three of these I have here are on cassette, I’ll be ditching those and looking for CDs. Heck, I might even be happier with a Hits CD…

 

Series Stats:

7 posts
23 albums

15 hit
8 quit

19 CD
1 LP
4 CS

A KMA Milestone, And Another Contest!

Over there in the right-hand sidebar is our Visitor Counter. As always, thanks for visiting, you’re damn sexy! And as you can see, we’ve recently passed 50,000 unique visits to the site since we moved to WP, waaaay back in 2006.

That’s a lot of visitors.

Of course, we only have ALL OF YOU to thank, our lovely Constant Readers who tune in whenever James drops his awesomeness, or (more likely) whenever Aaron starts gibbering like a rhesus monkey on a three-day cocaine bender…

SERIOUSLY. THANK YOU ALL.

In honour of this milestone, we offer up another contest!

As mentioned in a recent query post (and the subsequent comments), this time we will not be offering the prize to the first person to correctly answer the skill-testing question in the Comments. To try to be fair to our friends in other time zones, and to those who may not blog every day, this time there’s a form (below) wherein you can place your answers before the contest closing date, and your response will be emailed to us. All correct players will have their names thrown into a toque, and my lovely wife (a neutral third party) will select the winner.

Also, for folks in other time zones (even half way around the world, wherever you are), please do feel free to enter. I’ll happily ship prizes anywhere.

Please do not put your answers in the Comments section, only use the form provided below. Thanks!

Cool? Cool.

So. This time, up for grabs is a brand new (still in the shrink-wrap!) copy of 54-40’s amazing 1992 album, Dear Dear.

Holy mackerel, I do love this album.

In fact, it would be far to say of it that it’s Nice To Luv You, Dear Dear…

Ahem.

Are you ready to get your mitts on this gem of an album? Of course you are…

 

SKILL TESTING QUESTION:

What is the full running time of Dear Dear? 

 

Contest closes one week from today, on Tuesday, May 16, with the winner being posted in these pages the following day, Wednesday, May 17th.

Alright kids, you’re off to the races. Submit your answers in the form (below), and above all, have fun!

 

 

5 Knuckle Chuckle: All The Everything Pt.6

1995 – Charliee Horse (CD)

Already covered this one, in January 2014, right here.

It’s CanCon punker time! I love this disc. A definite Hit.

Here are a couple of salient bits of the review at that link if you don’t wanna read the whole thing:

“Yeah, they sound quite a bit like NOFX. In fact, they used to called themselves Noah Fence before deciding to move away from simlarities of band name and settling on 5 Knuckle Chuckle. But they’re probably really tired of hearing that comparison made. Besides, this isn’t as slick-sounding as NOFX, and thinking they’re carbon copies isn’t much fair to 5KC. 

Still, it’s catchy, juvenile skate-punk with lots of melodic thrashy punk riffs and super-fast drumming.”

 

Series Stats:

6 posts
19 albums

15 hit
4 quit

18 CD
1 LP
1 CS

5,6,7,8s: All The Everything Pt.5

2003 – Bomb The Rocks: Early Days Singles 1989-1998 (CD)

I have indeed covered this one (succinctly) before, right here.

Of course I still feel the same way about this album now, 15 months later. This is the coolest, rocking-est, craziest bunchof Japanese ladies you’re likely to hear this week. They’ve got energy, chutzpah, and sass too, and rock and roll is deep in their blood and bones.

Yeah, Tarantino used a track of theirs track in Kill Bill, and you could list a pile of influences, like Link Wray, Dick Dale, Ramones, a ton of others… It’s punk rockabilly mayhem and it’s all friggin’ glorious. I throw this disc on when I want a lift, it makes me very happy indeed. Definitely a Hit.

Series Stats:

5 posts
18 albums

14 hit
4 quit

17 CD*
1 LP
1 CS

*NB: This number of CDs will not match the Albums totals, because I am using it to count physical discs. So, multiple disc sets will add more to the CD total count versus the Albums total.

2Pac: All The Everything Pt.4

I was digging around and found a box of CDs I’d set aside as possible Hit/Quit albums ages ago. They’ve been seperate from the main collection long enough that they’re not even in my alphabetical list. Oy. 

So, had I remembered that I had all of these discs set aside, this 2Pac album would actually have been All The Everything Pt.3, and 54-40 would have been Pt.4. Ah well, as long as I’m covering stuff, it’s all good. Also, this seems to be the only 2Pac album currently in my collection, which is odd. I know I’ve had more in the past…

***

1997 – R U Still Down? (Remember Me) (2CD)

I have already reviewed this album right here, almost exactly two years ago. Funny thing is, I wrote up a whole review yesterday before discovering this, and I realized I’d said exactly the same damn thing now! Apparently I am consistent on this set and, if you’re interested, all you need to do is click that link and go see what I wrote.

Short version for this post, though: This was way too long, too full of stuff that should never have seen release (either too angry* or too juvenile). There are decent tracks, they’re just buried under the more plentiful dubious stuff. I dug the music, though. Maybe it could have been a single disc, with the worst stuff left off. I shouldn’t be too hard on it, there were tracks that I liked, but overall, I really won’t be needing to keep this. A hits set would be all I’d need. Quit.

 

Series Stats:

4 posts
17 albums

13 hit
4 quit

16 CD
1 LP
1 CS

 

* A lot of the angry tracks come across as all talk and posturing, just words that sound tough and cool.

54-40 Contest Winner! And Future Contests Query

Congratulations to Brian of Boppin’s Blog! He is the winner of the 54-40 Sweeter Things: A Compilation CD!

Bop correctly identified the origins/meaning of the term/name 54-40. From Wiki: “54-40 is a Canadian alternative rock group from Vancouver, British Columbia, who take their name from the slogan Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!, coined to express the unsuccessful expansionist agenda of James K. Polk’s presidency, intent upon controlling a contested U.S.-Canada border area in the Oregon boundary dispute.” You can get a ton more info on the dispute here.

Once again, congrats Bop! Your CD will be in the mail shortly!

***

Also folks, I’ve got a question for you, r.e. future contests…

As you’ll have noticed, in the past little while I’ve held two contests, with CDs as prizes. And as you may recall, Mike won the David Bowie CD, while (as noted above), Bop has won the 54-40. Congrats, you two!

So I got to thinking about the contest itself. For both of those contests mentioned, I just said whomever gets to the correct answer first wins. That was cool! I found that enjoyable, I hope you did too. Mike hit the Bowie win in 17 minutes!  But given that our AWESOME COMMUNITY is so far-flung in every corner of the globe, how can I make it so that everyone (given time zones and blogging habits) gets a chance to see the question and have a crack at it? Not to take away from the brilliant speed and accuracy of the previous winners, but as further comments trickled in I wondered if there was a way to make it not so time-sensitive…

How would you like to see future contests held? Is this way fine, or do you have a better method in mind? Drop a comment and let us know!

Contest: Win a 54-40 CD!

In honour of the recent 54-40: All the Everything Pt.3 post, I am offering up a copy of the band’s Sweeter Things: A Compilation CD!

The first person to drop a comment that correctly explains what 54-40 actually means wins the CD!

Put on yer thinking caps, folks. It’s time to give ‘er!

 

Sweeter Things: A Compilation is a 1991 compilation album by 54-40. It was their final release for Warner-Reprise, and compiled tracks from their albums 54-40, Show Me and Fight for Love.

The title track from 1984’s Set the Fire as well as two unreleased tracks, “Sweeter Things” and “Don Quixote”, are also included.

54-40: All The Everything Pt.3

As you can see, I own 8 albums by 54-40. But even in this, I do not own nearly enough 54-40. There’s no excuse, really, as I’ve had years (decades) to collect it. Really, I need to get on this, as I truly do enjoy their music. There’s something hypnotic to their rockin’, something that just pulls me in and holds me there and it’s all one big happy.

The band’s discography sprawls a bit (as you might expect, starting as they did in 1981), with 13 studio albums, a whole whack (that’s an official measurement) of singles and EPs, about 7 compilations, and a live album.

I’ve written about a few of their records in the KMA pages already – having gone back and re-read them for this project, my reviews stand. But as I was saying to Deke in the comments elsewhere, even if I’m linking to old work in these posts, I am actually going back and listening to all of this stuff again. It’s only fair. And it’s a further sign that KMA goes to every length to do things right! Besides, if I disgreed with my old posts, I would correct things in this series. Deal? Deal.

Anyway, if you see 54-40 in the shoppes, buy them all with confidence! Oh, and of course, these are all Hit. Not a single Quit in these 8 efforts. Natch.

***

1987 – Show Me (LP)

Their third record, this one has big hits One Day In Your Life and One Gun and a whole pile of other great tunes that shoulda been hits. I’m very happy to own this one on LP!

1991 – Sweeter Things: A Compilation (CD)

1992 – Dear Dear (CD)

1994 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret (CD) here and here too!

1994 – Steal This Cd (Promo, Ltd. Ed.) (CD)

1996 – Trusted By Millions (CD)

Their seventh album, here we have more 54-40 awesomeness, including Lies To Me and Love You All. I wanna say Cheer Up Peru was on the radio too? Shoulda been. Anyway, this is yet another record of 54-40 awesome, this time for the mid-90s. Yessir!

1998 – Since When (CD)

2016 – La Difference: A History Unplugged (CD)

Holy mackerel, this is brilliant. An acoustic effort, this is the band 35 years after they started, revisiting and re-recording some of their biggest hits. Lots of cool new touches to the songs, like horns and piano and new arrangements. It’s groovy, it’s super-fun, and every song is obviously deserving of inclusion. Wish it had been a 3CD!

Check it out: Ocean Pearl / She La / Since When / One Day In Your Life / Baby Ran / I Go Blind / One Gun / Crossing A Canyon / Casual Viewin’ / Lies To Me.

See? Frickin’ awesome.

Series Stats:

3 posts
16 albums

13 hit
3 quit

14 CD
1 LP
1 CS

20 Miles: All The Everything Pt.2

Mr. Judah Bauer! Damn! The blues is #1!

Yup, I sure do love me some Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. And for as exciting and explosive as Mr. Spencer is, to me there’s equal importance placed on his guitar master, Mr. Judah Bauer (and JSBX drummer Russell Simmons too, natch). Bauer is blues to the bone, raunchy and tight and greasebucket gorgeous.

So when he and his brother Donovan launched 20 Miles as a solo project 20 Years ago (see what I did there), I was in ASAP. I’ve bought everything as it came out, though I never did get the EP* that’s on my grail list…

Anyway, I don’t even have to write up each individual record here – I’ve already done it. Each title is a link (below) to my previous KMA reviews. They still stand.

Which simply left me with the joy of re-listening to all of these glorious records. It’s blues, funk, punk, Velvets, and garage rock all wrapped up into disc after disc of glory.

Oh yeah, and if it wasn’t obvious already, these are all Hits, no Quits in the bunch.

Yowza!

1997 – Twenty Miles: R.L. Boyce Othar Turner Fife & Drum Spam (CD)

1998 – Sinful Tunes & Spirituals: split EP with Doo Rag (CD)

1998 – I’m A Lucky Guy (CD)

2002 – Keep It Coming (CD)

2003 – Life Doesn’t Rhyme (CD)

 

Series Stats:

2 posts
8 albums

5 hit
3 quit

7 CD
0 LP
1 CS

 

* Their 2000 split EP with Bob Log III, entitled Let Every Town Furnish Its Own Women, is on my Grail List!

I wants one!

 

10,000 Maniacs: All The Everything Pt.1

Alright, here we go with the first post of my new, massive All The Everything series!

1985 – The Wishing Chair (CD)

Decent pop music, I can hear influence on a lot of Mint bands from about ten years ago. A lot of the music is either straight-up pop, or east coast-sounding celtic-y, or both. Of course, Natalie Merchant’s vocals are amazing, and there are a few stand-out songs, but it all starts to blend and sound the same after a while.

1988 – In My Tribe (CS)

More of the same perfect jangle pop, it’s sweet, infectious, listenable. Same as with The Wishing Chair, I can hear their influence on others throughout this one. Many strong messages in the lyrics, and good on ‘em. Singles Like The Weather and What’s The Matter Here are decent. Merchant puts some thought into the Beats with Hey Jack Kerouac, Michael Stipe joins on A Campfire Song, and there’s a cover of Cat Stevens’ Peace Train, which I’ve learned got removed from later releases as comments from Stevens (now Yusuf Islam) about the song made it seem to be in support of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie (for The Satanic Verses).

1992 – Our Time In Eden (CD)

The last album they recorded before Natalie Merchant left for her solo career, this one feels way more mature, somehow more soulful (richer and smoother), less bouncy. Having huge tunes like These Are Days, Few And Far Between, and Candy Everybody Wants helps a bit, and adding Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis, Maceo Parker and Fred Wesley to your musicians list is awesome. Of the three, I liked this one best.

***

Hit It Or Quit It: 

About a year ago, I liked 2/3 of these a lot more. But I haven’t listened to them much since they followed me home, and I doubt I’ll play them much more now. Today, all three are Quit. There are many pretty songs, and I know they’re generally well-regarded, but of the three Our Time in Eden came closest to staying, and I still doubt I’ll return to it anytime soon. I’d probably be fine with a hits set (like Campfire Songs).

***

Series Stats:

1 posts
3 albums

0 hit
3 quit

2 CD
0 LP
1 CS

The All The Everything Series

Hey Dear Readers, Aaron of the KMA here.

As stated before, I’ve been finding other ways to spend some of my time, lately. Other projects have been building, mostly offline.

This lead to some reflection. What are my goals for this site, at this point? We’ve now been doing this for over 10 years… seems like maybe I oughta finally accept it as a permanent thing that sticks, eh?

You’re getting a condensed version here, but believe me when I say I’ve put a lot of thought into how to go forward. I realized that, over these years, I’ve made stabs at doing this or that, but it was bits and pieces. So instead, it’s time for the big kahuna. I’m wrapping up all my blogging goals into one all-encompassing series!

 

Some Goals I Thought Of (and thoughts to go with):

1 – Review every album I own: Long a goal of mine, and daunting as hell (given everything here). But imagine reaching a point where you’re only covering new things coming in… This would also (eventually, hopefully) cover any albums I still IOU to anyone.

2 – Create/maintain on-going What Owns Me (WOM) list as I go: cool, and also helpful to have an off-site list in case of damage, loss or fire.

3 – One band at a time, multiple albums per post: they say immersion is the best way to learn new things. Any reviews I’ve already done, I’ll link to them. No need to re-do 10 years’ worth of work. But I will still listen to everything again.

4 – Resume Hit It Or Quit it Series: will they stay or will they go? I’m doing a collection cull, so heads-up: I may get ruthless, here.

5 – Resume lower word count posts: honestly, I prefer this. Just say it and get out.

6 – Finish my behind-the-scenes site admin work: yawwwwwn… but it’s necessary.

7 – Make blogging fit into busy life: no schedule, I’ll post when I can.

8 – Have fun: Of course. Give ‘er!

 

Ready? Me too. It’ll take a long time, but who cares? Now that I’ve given myself a structure, it’s simply one step followed by another.

And what am I calling this ambitiousness?

The All The Everything Series

It’s the series to end all series.

Because the KMA loves you.

Hell yes.

 

Bonus Round Fun Facts: Some of the series I’ve undertaken here at KMA:

KMA Sunday Service, Album series (full artist catalogues or store purchases series), Hit It Or Quit It, IOU series, Drunk Reviews, Ontario Bands, Racy Lacy Anniversary, Beam Me Up Scotty’s, Taranna Was Hot, Greatest Hits Albums, Edenfest, and The Radio. Surely there were others, but you get the idea.

Guided By Voices – August By Cake

I am thrilled to announce the arrival of this momentous album at the KMA’s eastern offices.

Disclaimer: It’s hard for me to write about a Guided By Voices album. I tend to love them all unconditionally, even the weird ones. In this way, it’s akin to having children. But my bias is obvious and unswerving. Fair warning. 🙂

***

Not only is it the band’s first double album, but it also marks (remarkably) Robert Pollard’s 100th album.

Yes, you read that correctly.

There’s no question that the man is prolific, and no matter who is in the line-up, or what project is currently afoot, the music just keeps on coming. Currently, this band under the GBV banner involves Pollard (vox, guitars), Kevin March (drums), Bobby Bare, Jr. (guitar), Doug Gillard (guitar), and Mark Shue (bass). Can I just say (as loudly as possible) how happy I am that Gillard opted to return? He’s long been a guitar hero of mine.

And the record itself? At 32 tracks in 72 minutes, it’s a sprawling opus. With songs ranging in length from 1:01 to 3:44, there is a ton of stuff to digest, here.

Does it flow well as an album? Haha not really, given how much the sounds shift and grow and change. There’s epic rocking, pop sweetness, acoustic jamming, psychedelic weirdness, instrumental noise, wonky drunken leaners… But don’t be daunted. These are all GBV tricks of the trade! There is so much to love.

For this one, you could probably take out a bunch of the tracks and make a top-rated record that everyone would love. But that’s not how Pollard rolls. He branches out, he tries new things, and he includes what he frickin’ well wants to include. And it’s very often that songs that seem weird or awful the first time around are the ones that grow on you later, and become favourites over the immediate hits. THAT is how you know the band has vision. They know you’re gonna come around. We always do.

Me, I love this effort. Love love love.

Long live Robert Pollard. Long live Guided By Voices (and all the various side bands and projects, ad infinitum). Long live Rockathon!

Here’s to the next 100!

Good Friday Jamming

Back when I was a stay-at-home Dad, a job I proudly undertook for three years, I would often leave the iTunes on random play for my whole collection and let it play away in the background all day long. This was a great way to introduce the kids to awesome tunes, and a way for some small part of the day to about something for Daddy…

As time has gone on, I’ve gotten out of this practice, focussing more on individual albums. This is also fun, but not nearly as, er, random.

But this past Good Friday, the whole family was home and I thought I’d try out the ol’ random play manouver again. The kids, who are older now, were busy playing and quickly tuned it out. My lovely wife was probably listening, but she never says much unless it’s a song she likes. As for me, I loved it!

Right now, my collection in iTunes looks like this:

47,508 items, 131.3 days, 179.57GB

That’s right, I’m approaching 50,000 tracks! Heh heh, that’s a wee bit!

Anyway, iTunes also keeps track of everything played previously, so I went back and collected up what we heard during my first trip back to random land!

Radiohead – How Do You?
Donovan Frankenreiter – Bend In The Road
Leonard Cohen – Le Manic (live)
Pavement – Harness Your Hopes
Rush – Red Sector A
Good Pinsent & Keelor – Shadows In The Sun
Haywire – Wild Wild
Bonnie Raitt – About To Make Me Leave Home
Nick Buzz – If You Go Away
Duke Ellington – Sound Track Music: Anatomy Of A Murder
Guided By Voices – He Rises! Our Union
Robert Pollard – Run Son Run
Dropkick Murphys – Far Away Coast
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell – Old Yellow Moon
Mastodon – Bedazzled Fingernails
Ani DiFranco – Subdivision
Hank Williams – My Son Calls Another Man Daddy
Glenn Miller – Everybody Loves My Baby
Dream Theater – A Change Of Seasons II: Innocence
Ozzy Osbourne – Mississippi Queen
Marillion – Assassing (single version)
Candlebox – Arrow
Meat Loaf – The Future Ain’t What It Used To Be
Mozart – Serenade No.10 in Bb minor, K361 “Gran Partita IV: Adagio
Mother Love Bone – Holy Roller
Black Sabbath – Paranoid
Pearl Jam – Low Light
Fats Domino – I Want To Walk You Home
Songhoy Blues – Should I Stay Or Should I Go
Slayer – Filler / I Don’t Want Hear It
Headstones – Swinging
54-40 – Cheer Up Peru
Watertown – I’m Looking For A Love To Call My Own
Slash (f. Myles Kennedy) – Not For Me
New Morty Show – Terri (With The Delicate Hands)
Sarah McLachlan – Elsewhere
Frank Sinatra – Glad To Be Unhappy
Slipknot – Eyeless
Michael Franti & Spearhead – Radio Segment
Pussy Galore – Don’t Jones Me
Jeff Healey & The Jazz Wizards – Someday Sweetheart
Beatles – Nothin’ Shakin’ (BBC)
Pixies – River Euphrates
Modest Mouse – The Stars Are Projectors
Water – Thoughts
Dire Straits – Why Worry
John Lee Hooker – Crawlin’ Kingsnake
Pack A.D. – Hardtack Saloon #2
Kinks – Sunny Afternoon
Van Morrison – Little Village
Robert Pollard – Something Strawberry
Fleetwood Mac – I Don’t Want To Know
Wolfstone – The Howl
David Hillyard & The Rocksteady Seven – Father & Son
Gits – Social Love
Weezer – Peace
Mötley Crüe – Planet Boom
Gipsy Kings – Baila Me
Rheostatics – Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne
Pavement – Father To A Sister Of Thought
Live – Selling The Drama
Headpins – Just One More Time
Circus Devils – The Other Heart
Massive Attack – Spying Glass
Foreskin 500 – Superfamily
Buzzcocks – Paradise
Jeen O’Brien – Side By Side
Gordon Lightfoot – I Used To Be A Country Singer
Meta-Stasis – Space Occupying Lesion
James Keelaghan – Canadian Railroad Trilogy
Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – Free Girl Now
Coverdale/Page – Shake My Tree
Beastie Boys – Mullet Head
Hawksley Workman – A House Or Maybe A Boat
Rolling Stones – Rip This Joint
Duran Duran – Is There Something I Should Know
Black Flag – You Gotta Be Joking
Roots – BOOM! (f. Dice Raw)
Green Day – Reject
John Coltrane – Mr. P.C.
Psycho And The Birds – Oh My Chosen One
Louis Armstrong – Body And Soul
Spirit Of The West – Tell Me What I Think
Clarence Carter – Dr. C.C.
Serena Ryder – Is It O.K.
Robert Pollard – Motion Sickness Ghosts
Iron Maiden – The Aftermath

If I counted correctly, that’s 87 tunes. Assuming a 3.5 minute average, that’s 304.5 minutes, or just over 5 hours.

And that’s where I shut it down. It played for a good long while, and it was quite a good, eclectic mix! Some of the transitions were jarring, but it wasn’t on at a high volume as we were doing things around the house this whole time, so it was all to the good!

I daresay I’ll be jamming the random play feature again soon.

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Personal Album Review Website

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These are the songs that have and will continue to soundtrack my life.

timeweleftthisworldtoday

This world's so mixed up everywhere you go

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Naughty Stories and Mature Content

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REMEMBERING THE GAMES & MOVIES I GREW UP WITH AND MUCH MORE

Blog All Night

Rhyme All Night

Stuff and That.

We do reviews, ya dig?

stoneygate

chilled out music

Every number one

Journey through all the songs that topped the charts

Resurrection Songs

music makes the people come together. yeah.

The Audible Stew

Salt to Taste

KingcrimsonBlog - The official Blog of Kingcrimsonprog

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

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Vinylicious, Vinylvicious

Crash And Ride Music

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

HEAVY METAL OVERLOAD

... and classic rock too!

Metal Odyssey > Heavy Metal Music Blog

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

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

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

The Ü | Reviews and Stories

Jade's movie reviews, short stories, and beyond.

Songs on a Theme

pop, jazz, & other by subject

Living a Beautiful Life

~ Short Stories, Flights of Fancy and Everyday Anecdotes ~

VINYL CONNECTION

Music and Memory

jhubner73

Midwestern groaning since 2011

vinnieh

Movie reviews and anything else that comes to mind

mixolydianblog

music is life, music is breath, music is us

A (Mostly) Music Blog

Some other stuff too, but mostly music.

Boppin's Blog

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

Tangled Up In Music

Music Reviews (and other things)

Music Insanity!

The ramblings of a self-confessed music addict.

Mike Slayen ~ Guitarist

Mike is recording a new CD...Click the Dude picture below! Pre-Sale $10

LP on 45

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

Free City Sounds

Album Reviews by Marshall Gu

80smetalman's Blog

Just another WordPress.com site

mikeladano.com

LeBrain's Record Store Tales & Reviews

Every record tells a story

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

KamerTunesBlog

Revisiting my extensive music collection, one artist at a time

CD & Festival reviews

by Jon Wilmenius

the EARL of SWIRL

"to be average scares the hell out of me"

1001albumsin10years

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Rock Album, Concert Reviews And The Odd Book Review

Caught Me Gaming

Confessions of a Casual Core Gamer

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