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…
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]
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.
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…
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…
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.
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!
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).
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.
• 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)
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.
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!
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!!!
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.
Fine evening viewing for the whole family!
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!
I hereby accept Mike‘s #0wordchallenge.
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…
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
• 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)
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.
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!
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?
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.
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…
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…
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.
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! 😉
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!
Or how about HERE?
Winning entrant will be announced in these pages tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17). Stay tuned!*
*See what I did there? 😉
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:
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):
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… 🙂
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.
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!
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?
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!
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.
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…
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!
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…
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!
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.”
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.
*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.
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.
* A lot of the angry tracks come across as all talk and posturing, just words that sound tough and cool.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
* Their 2000 split EP with Bob Log III, entitled Let Every Town Furnish Its Own Women, is on my Grail List!
I wants one!
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
Long ago, I had a ticket to see Electric Six in Regina. Didn’t go. Don’t remember why. Busy at work? Too tired? Who knows, something lame I’m sure. Whatever the cause, I’ve seen that unused purchase in my order history on the ticket site and it’s always bugged me. Still, I wasn’t sure about going to see them this time around either. Find a new venue in another city? Hang out by myself? Dubious.
But I like Electric Six and regretted missing out last time, so I went. Obviously. Though I think I’d enjoy writing a review for a show I didn’t go to.
(Also, I emailed the promoters for Canadian Juggalo Weekend and asked for media passes so I could cover the festival for my blog and its tens of readers, but for some reason, they never got back to me – can’t understand why not – point being, I had more spare time than I might have otherwise.)
I bought a ticket online and hopped on a train to SAIT. I then hopped off said train two stops later because I was playing Pokémon Go and the tracker showed there was a wild Wobbuffet nearby, and I didn’t have one of those yet. This seemed like an exceptionally stupid thing to do but also a great validation of my choice to buy a day pass for the train instead of a single-use ticket. The Wobbuffet was right by the Arts Commons, where I saw The Last Waltz Remembered the day before. As such, this also answered my question as to whether it was faster to simply walk there (as I had done) or walk to the train, wait for the train, and then take the train. (Answer: the train was much faster but I lucked into not having to wait long for it.)
Anyway, you’ll surely be pleased to know that I was successful in catching the Wobbuffet, and I was back just in time for the next train – mostly because the police had stopped it from leaving so they could escort an exceptionally drunk man off it. Success! Well, mostly – there are two train lines and I got on the wrong one. But I figured it out while still in the area serviced by both trains, so whatever. I still got to the Gateway shortly after doors opened.
The Gateway is the campus bar at SAIT. It reminded me a lot of the Owl from the University of Regina, though with more communal tables, which is not ideal for someone flying solo. There was a bench in the back that I had my eye on, but some dude was sleeping on it. As soon as he left, I claimed it. Or at least one butt’s worth.
Getting there as early as I did was a misstep. Not my fault – I’d never been there before and you never know if a place is going to run on Casino Time or Louis’ Time or Amigos Time. I’d call this Louis’ Time, which is acceptable. I wound up with nearly an hour to kill, so I texted with Colin, Mika, and Josy, played some games (doughy grey-haired 40-year-old doing crosswords on his phone at the back of the bar), and mostly just sweated. It was mighty warm in there. I thought about getting a drink but didn’t want to lose my coveted bench. We also all got to listen to the rock hits of the early 2000s, by which I mostly mean The Hives. I love The Hives. It got to be too much The Hives.
Our openers were a Calgary band called 240, pronounced “two-forty” if you care about such things. Mostly straight-up rock, though I detected hints of Red Hot Chili Peppers in a few songs – funk guitar and that kind of not-quite-rap staccato talk-singing. All original material, which the singer pointed out a few times. They played for about 45 minutes and were not entirely my thing but were decent enough – reminiscent in that sense of a lot of local opening bands I’ve seen.
Electric Six have 12 albums out. I know this because the lead singer mentioned it repeatedly and wanted all of us to buy all of them, saying that if we did, they’d make $48,000. I was going to call this into question until I realized I was doing the math wrong. So I’m a dumb.
The most recent Electric Six album came out last year, and they played at least one song off it (saying that the record company made them). I don’t know where most of the rest of the songs were from, as many songs were introduced as being “from one of the albums.” I also learned a lot about what each song was about, as in “This next song is called When Cowboys File For Divorce. It’s about when cowboys file for divorce.”
I also learned that Electric Six got into music to meet cool and interesting guys, like Carl, Doug, Gordo, and Randy, all of whom were in the crowd. It was later clarified that they didn’t get into music to meet guys because nobody does that; instead, they got into music to meet some of the girls. They dedicated a song to some of the girls.
It’s kind of surprising that I hadn’t seen Electric Six before now, as they’ve come through Canada (which the singer called “a great city”) many times, often including Saskatoon and Regina. They’d clearly played the Gateway before, as singer Dick Valentine knew all about its history, how it was founded by Doug and Carol Gateway, who had a dream to open a bar that served alcohol.
In between all this, they played some songs! Early on, they played my favourite Adam Levine song. It’s called Adam Levine and features a very catchy singalong chorus of “burn in hell / rot in hell / burn in hell / motherfucker.” I gather that Electric Six is not a fan of Maroon 5. It occurs to me now that maybe part of the issue is the similarity of their names? Personally, I would much rather have an electric 6 than a maroon 5, as I favour functionality over form. Plus it’s clearly one better.
Unsurprisingly, the biggest reactions of the evening came for all the hits – Gay Bar, Danger! High Voltage (including a saxophonist who was only brought out for this song and promptly disappeared after giving out some fistbumps), and the last song of the encore, Dance Commander. However, a good number of the folks there knew all the words and sang along with every song. This show was loud, hilarious, dancey, and fun as all get out and I’m sadder now that I missed that show years ago. This was worth the heat and the Hives and would have been worth lowercase hives too, if I’d contracted any as a result of the show. But I didn’t. So that’s good.
It should go without saying that these folks do not take themselves super seriously. This has led me to a situation where I was checking some information on Wikipedia and I have no idea how much of it is legit. Their past members apparently include Rock and Roll Indian, Surge Joebot, Murdock Ramone, Disco, M., Frank Lloyd Bonaventure, Dr. Blacklips Hoffman, Macro Duplicato, Brian Blastoise, The Colonel, Smorgasboard, Percussion World, and Dr. Diet Mountain Dew. This shouldn’t seem as completely plausible as it is.
The band said they wanted to meet and drink with everyone once they were done, but I left as soon as the show was over. In case I didn’t have enough comedy for one evening, I wound up sitting on the train in front of two guys that I can only describe as the Iron Sheik having a conversation with another Iron Sheik, in full-on playing a character for the internet mode, only there was no audience of millions, just me, entertained and a little scared. That seems somehow fitting.
• BA Johnston w/Napalmpom (April 28)
• Colter Wall (May 8)
• 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)
This book wasn’t exactly engrossing, despite being exhaustively written. Seriously, the minutiae is here. Prince fans would rejoice in having so much so easily to hand.
But for me? It was a bit of a war of attrition, turning pages felt like wearing the damn thing down bit by bit.
Don’t get me wrong. I like Prince, and I can appreciate what he did. But this was waaaaay more than I needed to know about interpersonal relationships and drama in the bands he created, and all the little bits about what songs got played live where, and blah blah blah.
Let me try to sum it up for you:
Prince was a genius.
He worked crazy long hours.
He worked to the exclusion of many other things.
Prince was a genius.
He was sometimes misunderstood in his time.
He often took credit for other peoples’ contributions.
Prince was a genius.
He was restlessly creative.
He shunned media and social contact.
Prince was a genius.
He had trouble with relationship commitment.
He alienated and overworked many people.
Prince was a genius.
The more he created, the further he went inward.
He was (mostly) a control freak.
Prince was a genius.
He responded to mounting pressure by recording more music than ever.
He disbanded his best line-up for the wrong reasons.
Prince was a genius.
There. Now you don’t have to read it.
Happy news! I have managed to get my hands on copies of Black Sabbath’s Eternal Idol (the deluxe 2CD!), and one of my guitar heroes Doug Gillard’s Parade On. Removing two items from the list feels really damn good!
Also, let’s all keep our eyes peeled for Michael Penn’s March on LP, a new addition to the list for the mighty jhubner!
Also, I’m planning a trip to Taranna in May, so head on up to that Master Grail List tab at the top of our home page and make sure that your list is up to date! If you don’t have a Grail List yet, and there are items you just cannot find (in your town or online for reasonable prices), and you want the rest of us to watch for it in our own travels, send us your list and I’ll add it in! COMMUNITY!
When I go to Calgary, I like unique concert experiences. It’s always good to see a band I like, but if I’m going to be in a bigger city anyway, I may as well go see something that isn’t going to come to Regina. And I’m pretty sure this all-star affair was a one-off.
You’re familiar with The Band, yes? And their farewell concert, the Last Waltz? Am I asking rhetorical questions so as to hide how little I actually know? Am I trying to avoid rewriting a Wikipedia article in a futile attempt to appear knowledgeable?
Replace Wikipedia with books and that was pretty much my entire university career, really.
Anyway, yes. Very famous farewell concert. 40 years ago. This show was to be a bunch of songs from that night, performed by Corb Lund, Amy Helm, Matt Andersen, and the Russell Broom House Band.
The show was at Jack Singer Concert Hall in Arts Commons. I’ve been there before but always took the train. This time, after an exceptionally lazy afternoon, I walked it. Took about 40 minutes. I wish I had something more exciting for you, but I like my walks to be uneventful, so really, I don’t.
The hall was mostly sold out. I was sitting in the first row of the mezzanine, far off to the right. After the Lyle Lovett/John Hyatt show, I was a bit concerned about my seating choice but this wasn’t really off ground level at all, so that was nice.
There was no opener, and the show got started right on time. This was my first time seeing both Andersen and Helm. Andersen had a bit of a rough start in the first song, Up On Cripple Creek, as he very clearly forgot the words to his part. As he tried to talk to Helm to figure out his spot, Corb jumped in and took over. Andersen seemed to have a good sense of humour about it – really, there’s no better option – and he redeemed himself later in the show.
Helm is the daughter of Levon Helm of The Band, a fact which became less relevant as the show went on. She may have been brought in for her name, but she has a fantastic voice and more than deserved her spot for that alone.
The first half of the show flew by. Like I hinted at, I’m not super familiar with The Last Waltz – I’ve never watched the movie or listened to the soundtrack album – but there were so many classic songs from that night that you probably know some of them. The first half included The Shape I’m In and Ophelia. Andersen, Helm, and Lund all got to perform some of their own material during the show, and during the first half, Lund played The Weight (dramatic pause) of the Gun. Possibly chosen solely so he could make that joke. The whoops from the crowd suggested that possibly Corb was the one who drew the audience.
During intermission, I could have gone for a bottle of water. However, I stopped to look at the merch table and as I did so, the lobby area filled up with an ungodly sea of humanity. Just making it back to my seat felt like a genuine achievement.
The second half was much the same as the first. Corb’s own song was This Is My Prairie, but he also did a fantastic version of Ian Tyson’s Four Small Winds. But the second half was mostly the Matt Andersen show, with a great version of Neil Young’s Helpless, followed by another song that drew a mid-set standing ovation.
The three singers would walk off stage for songs where they weren’t needed. Upon one return for Lund, someone yelled “CORB YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL,” to which Andersen simply replied “meh.” Perfectly timed.
Before the last song, Russell Broom introduced the house band, which was pretty sizeable. Including the singers, they maxed out at 11 people on stage, including a horn section and an organist who also played accordion when called for. It also turned out that the band included Chris Byrne of the Road Hammers, as well as Joey Landreth. This clarified things for me, as Landreth got to sing on a few songs and whenever he did, the folks sitting to my left were really excited.
They closed with The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down, and came back for an encore of I Shall Be Released and The Weight, and it was over too soon. What a great show. Fantastic performances from the three singers, and the band killed it. Highest recommendation. I mean, you’ll never get to see this, but hypothetically.
I can’t say that I love the 90s, really. The first four years were high school and let’s pretend that never happened. University was better, and there were various good times and new adventures and stuff, but I don’t look back at James aged 13-23 as being Prime Era James. I mean, God, I hope not.
As far as the music of the 90s, there’s a certain type of late 90s alternative that I still quite like because I am old and afraid of anything new. This show, however, was not that. Instead, we were treated to a selection of early 90s R&B and rap that isn’t really on my current playlists. But I loved some of this back in the day. Nostalgia, right? This should be fun, right?
Before the concert, Mika and I met up with Reagan, Deserée, and Reagan’s friends Dustin and Sarah for dinner. Twice, in fact, because the first place was full. I had a delightful Thai chicken pizza. Would get again. Then Mika went home because she is the only one of us with any sense. The rest of us were off to the show.
We had splurged, relatively speaking, on floor seats. Not too far back, pretty close to the centre, and I was even on an aisle. A lovely view for what was in store.
When we got to our seats, there was a party host on stage inviting people to join him for the opportunity to win Salt-N-Pepa t-shirts and a chance to dance on stage with the band. You could also just buy the shirt and get to dance with them that way too. Despite repeated requests from Deserée, I refused to take part in any of this. Anyway, the people who did go up for the contest would hear a snippet of a TV show theme – name that tune, and you get your shirt and can come back later and dance. Out of probably 20 contestants, I think they gave away three shirts. The thing is, this is I Love The 90s, right? But apart from the Jeopardy song (which is technically from the 80s or earlier anyway), it was all shows like The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley, Happy Days, and Welcome Back, Kotter. The host – whose name was also James – even said “you’re here because you love the 90s and the 80s and the 70s” and it’s like… no? That was never part of the deal, my dude. James seemed quite disgusted with how this all went down. As a black person, he was especially disappointed when the black contestants didn’t know the themes to Good Times, The Jeffersons, or Sanford & Son. He was also annoyed with the white guy who missed All in the Family and gave “I don’t know, I’m 35” as his excuse. Apparently age shouldn’t matter as Those Were The Days is “in the white people handbook.” Fair enough. The only contestant he seemed to like was a dude wearing a rainbow mohawk wig who grabbed the mic out of his hands and yelled FUCK YEAH and then James said FUCK YEAH and then rainbow guy said FUCK and James said FUCK and rainbow guy said IT’S MY BIRTHDAY and James said FUCK YEAH and then James said fuck like 30 more times and none of you who get reviews by email will ever see this. I’m sorry for clogging your spam filters. I should mention that rainbow guy’s theme was Knight Rider and of course he didn’t get it because he’s probably 25 and how would he know what the Knight Rider theme is?
Anyway, this may have been the highlight of the evening.
Our opener was Young MC, who also stretched the credibility of this 90s conceit as he’s known for one big hit – Bust A Move – that came out in 1989. Close enough, I guess. 1989 was quite a while ago and Young MC is pushing 50. I suppose that illustrates the danger of naming yourself “young” anything, though his actual last name is Young, so he gets a pass. He did five songs, I think, highlighting a new song called Nocturnal that is on the soundtrack to a movie he directed, possibly also called Nocturnal. He really wanted us to know about his directorial debut. Anyway, he did Bust A Move and then said that normally that was the end of his set, but he was going to give us something more (I assume every city gets something more) and asked if we remembered a song of his called Fastest Rhyme. I am 100% fine with admitting that 2017 James inherited 1989 James’ enthusiasm for Fastest Rhyme and if I could pick any one song of his for this show, that would have been it. So I was delighted, even if he did have to pause for breath in the middle of it. Though I did think it was a little funny that his only other hit single was Principal’s Office and he didn’t do that one.
Next up was Color Me Badd, the band Deserée was most looking forward to. I had always said I didn’t know anything about them, but when Mika did some YouTube research, it turned out I was actually pretty familiar with their hits. We also discovered that the Lonely Island’s Dick In A Box video is just Color Me Badd’s video for I Wanna Sex You Up reshot with new people (and some boxes).
Anyway, these guys got about 25 minutes to do a half-dozen songs and they were better than I expected. I knew all the songs, including No Diggity, which is not actually one of theirs. It reminded me of seeing Bobby Curtola and other oldies at the casino with my dad, where they play their own songs but also play random other songs from that era because you’re nostalgic for the time more than the specific artist. I can’t remember if I mentioned this then, but it would be like seeing 70-year-old Justin Bieber at the casino doing Gangnam Style and Call Me Maybe and Blurred Lines. Which could very well happen. I’ll go to his show in 2064 and report back.
In a compelling example of how expectations change one’s perception, Deserée didn’t care for Color Me Badd so much: “I was fairly disappointed with them actually. I mean, fun and nostalgic, yes. But for one thing – in 1990-whatever, I truly believed Color Me Badd was an edgy R&B group (that I had to turn down when listening to at home, because of all the sex songs). It wasn’t until dinner the other night when Mika talked about them that I realized they might actually be a boy band. And then when they came out in matching outfits (including hats) and started doing their dance moves, I realized the horrible truth. Overall though, it made me sad that the lead singer was off-key and off-time for much of it. But like I said, nostalgic and fun anyway.”
It should be noted that the crowd was very excited for all of this. Between sets, the DJ played Funky Cold Medina and people went wild for it. You didn’t really even need live musicians or rappers anymore. Just play recognizable songs and you’ve got them in the palm of your hand.
Right about now, we were about to be possessed by the sounds of MC Rob Base. Base got four or five songs too, most of which were about our hands, where we could put them (in the air), and how we could wave them (like we just don’t care). He also wanted to yell things and have us yell other things back at him. To be fair, everyone did that all night, but he was especially interested in this. He closed with It Takes Two. Of course.
We had a bit of an intermission while they set up the stage for Salt-N-Pepa. James came back out to talk to us and seemed delighted to spot his friend in the crowd. “HEY! IT’S FUCKING FUCK BIRTHDAY GUY!” Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy was delighted by the attention.
Salt-N-Pepa had about an hour-long set – the only one of the evening – and played pretty much everything you’d expect – Shoop, Push It, Whatta Man, Let’s Talk About Sex. Continuing a theme from earlier, they also played a bunch of things like Billie Jean (not 90s) and Smells Like Teen Spirit – by which I mean Spinderella just played the MP3s and everyone sang overtop them. Like I said, you didn’t really need any musicians at this point.
All the girls who bought or won t-shirts got to come up and dance to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun (not Salt-N-Pepa, not the 90s) and then they invited guys up for Whatta Man. You could see a rainbow mohawk wig making its way through an ocean of humanity like a shark fin. He neither bought nor won a shirt, but Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy was allowed on stage anyway because James was in charge and James was laughing to nearly the point of tears. Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy tried to take Salt’s mic and yell FUCK YEAH but she just told him to settle down. Total professional. Then he didn’t want to leave the stage until James basically had to drag him out of there.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that Pepa had apparently just discovered what Regina rhymes with. This happens a lot when bands come to town. I believe that by now, all possible avenues in this area have been explored (not a euphemism) (but probably true if it was?) but she was so amused and enthusiastic about it that nobody minded.
And then it was our headliner, sort of, Vanilla Ice. Grade 9 James (me, not the host) (if only there was an easy way to differentiate us) loved some Vanilla Ice. But even then, there are only a handful of songs I remember. Ice Ice Baby, of course. Play That Funky Music White Boy. Ninja Rap OBVIOUSLY. And beyond that – and I am not proud of this, much less proud than I am of admitting to having liked Vanilla Ice in the first place – I remember a verse he had on a Bloodhound Gang song. And that was what he actually opened with, which kind of blew my mind a little bit. I don’t think he actually did Ninja Rap (the sound was terrible all night – way too loud, distorted, and full of feedback) but he did say GO NINJA GO NINJA GO a few times and that was good enough for me. But it was pretty much downhill from there, and we weren’t starting from high up.
The absolute funniest moment of the night came when Ice said “I just wanna give a shoutout to the Pats. Regina Pats, making it to the playoffs! I think they’re going all the way this year.” And look, I know that “local sports team” is second only to “name of city” in terms of cheap pops. But you can get away with that if you’re talking about a major league team. Even if Ice had said something about the Roughriders, I can almost pretend that he cares enough to have CFL opinions. But come on. Far be it from me to call into question the credibility of Vanilla Ice, but I really don’t think he’s following the Western Hockey League that closely.
Anyway, if you’re Vanilla Ice, what song do you end on?
He called a bunch of fans up on stage and played Ice Ice Baby about five songs in. It seemed early to wrap things up but where can you go from there?
“THE PARTY DON’T STOP!”
He did some song nobody knew.
“THE PARTY DON’T STOP!”
He did another song nobody knew. People were filing out of the place at this point. Including Vanilla Ice, who disappeared from the stage (or at least hid behind the fans, who were still up there) though his voice could still be heard.
“THE PARTY DON’T STOP!”
Deserée: “…but it could.”
At this point, Vanilla Ice played Turn Down For What.
“YEAH YOU LOVE THE 90S!”
Turn Down For What is from 2013.
“ALL THE HORNY PEOPLE PUT YOUR HANDS IN THE AIR!”
Not to reveal too much about myself, but I did not, in fact, put my hands in the air. I mean, sure, you’d THINK nothing would get a person going like hearing loss and complete bafflement, but it didn’t do it for me. In fairness, it seemed to be the secret sauce for lots of the folks who were left, including Fucking Fuck Birthday Guy who had found his way onto the stage by this point.
But hey, at least Turn Down For What is a good song to end a party on, right? But Ice – who had also made his way back onto the stage – possibly he got lost and followed the rainbow mohawk – had one more for us. First, he told us to follow our dreams. Believe in ourselves. Not let borders divide us. And then he sang No Woman No Cry. Vanilla Ice, reggae superstar. I texted this to Mika who simply replied “Oh no.” People were flooding out of the arena. I could not leave. I was transfixed. What is this? Why is this? And then it was over. No encore, just a voice – possibly prerecorded – thanking us for attending. It didn’t end with “…leave now” but it may as well have, not that I would have needed encouragement.
To cap off the evening, as I walked alone to my car, mostly deaf and lost in some sort of existential crisis, two guys stopped me and asked for a ride. They did not say to where, but they did promise me “a lot of money.” I declined, not feeling up to being a good Samaritan and also not wanting stab wounds and a stolen car. Though it would have made a more compelling conclusion than “I went home and had some Coke Zero and Crispy Minis.”
I’m writing and posting these reviews out of order. As I’m finishing this off, it’s the day before my trip to Calgary. By sheer happenstance, I am there during Canadian Juggalo Weekend. Part of me badly wants to go to Canadian Juggalo Weekend just so I can write about the experience. But I kind of feel like there’s much less reason for that now. I mean, sure, there will be wrestling and circus performers and crazy shit and clowns EVERYWHERE but is that really so different from this? I mean, Vanilla Ice even had two dancers who were fat guys in clown suits and wrestling masks who sprayed water on the crowd. Switch out the water for Faygo and we’re set.
I can’t recommend this show enough and I also can’t recommend avoiding this show enough.
I forgot to mention this in the Joel Plaskett review, but I was talking to Josy and he noted how much I hate writing these things. Mika has said something similar. I’m concerned that this belief has spread, so let me clear some air here. I like writing at least half of these things unconditionally. This happens when I get excited about an artist and want to convince you to check them out too. Like this one right here. I also really like writing the reviews when crazy stuff happens. Unfortunately, this happens much less often the older I get, but if this is your thing, you might enjoy the next review.
For some of the reviews, I get lazy and fall behind and then it becomes a bit of a chore. This is my own fault, and it may be worth mentioning that it’s 2:43 am right now. And for some, I just don’t have a whole lot to say. This usually means I don’t know the artist well and they were neither off-the-charts good nor bad, so I likely had a nice night out but don’t have hundreds of words to share about the experience (but will try, whether or not it’s a good idea). This was exacerbated last year when the number of concerts I saw ramped way up and I was a lot more willing to go see almost anyone I’d ever heard of. I’ve tried to dial that back some this year, mostly for financial reasons, but I did start this year with a number of “it was good, what more do you want” shows. And there will always be those.
I believe Josy wanted an exact percentage of how many reviews I enjoyed writing but I’m not doing that when my alarm is set to go off in under 3 hours.
Onto the show. Lisa LeBlanc played the folk festival here in 2015. At the time, I had no idea who she was, and seemingly neither did anyone else. As she prepared for her set, people wandered off to the bar, the port-a-potties, the food trucks, wherever. I would have gone too but I am a seasoned veteran and I know that you never leave before hearing a new-to-you artist’s first songs. Wait until they’re a few tunes in and the lines will have died down. But when LeBlanc played her first song and blew the roof off the place (because there is normally a roof over the open-air park), Mika elbowed me and gestured to the gates where people were swarming back in. LeBlanc was my favourite performer at the festival that year, or as I wrote at the time, “RULED RULED RULED.” I’d been looking forward to her coming back ever since.
On my way into the Artesian, I ran into Mark and Arlette because of course I did. They weren’t going to the show, they were just sort of there. I tried to convince them to come with me, but Mark was going home to finish working on his performance appraisal, which is the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard for missing a show, and that includes all of my “it’s late” and “it’s cold” and “I’m tired” and “I don’t feel like it.”
Please note that when I have skipped a concert due to a work obligation, it’s always been 100% justified. That’s different.
Into the venue, I took a seat at the top of the pews, nicely tucked away in a corner where I could play Yahtzee in peace and wait for the show to start.
The opener was Eliza Mary Doyle, a banjo player from Saskatoon. She’s been touring as part of The Dead South as of late, though on this night, she had her own band consisting of a guitarist and an upright bassist. By which I mean “someone who plays the upright bass” and not “a bassist who has good posture.” Not that I want to call her posture into question.
Doyle only had about 30 minutes so she mentioned that she’d have to keep her stories to a minimum. She did, but mostly because the bassist would shush her to try and keep things moving along.
Anyway, this was fantastic and one of those rare sets that I wish had more time. I think I might really like banjos? I’m not sure how I feel about that, discovering something so profound about myself at 40. I should probably just appreciate the insight it offers.
Should I buy a banjo and take lessons? I hear the banjo is particularly hard.
I’m now looking up banjos on banjobuyingguide.com and I should never have access to the internet and a MasterCard this late at night.
A compromise: no banjos at least until I get to Calgary so I can save the sales tax.
Lisa LeBlanc also plays the banjo. In fact, her and Doyle became pals at that folk festival a few years ago, when Doyle was there as a volunteer and they got to talking. Banjo talking. Though for most of LeBlanc’s set, she was on guitar with a full band backing her up.
LeBlanc is Acadian and bilingual. She switched back and forth between English and French for most of the night, offering what she called “the true Government of Canada experience.” It seemed to me that the French speakers in attendance were far more enthusiastic. Specifically the women – in a venue with no real standing area, there were clusters of girls off to the sides and at the back of the hall, all dancing and very into everything.
LeBlanc played a lot from her new English album, though fewer songs than I would have expected. I suppose that happens, given limited time and wanting to ensure a good number of French songs are included too. I find her songwriting interesting – almost nothing ever rhymes. I don’t know if that’s just a stylistic choice or maybe something to do with writing in a second language? I haven’t paid enough attention to her French songs to see if those rhyme. Now I’m curious.
The banjo made its appearance partway through the set for a few songs, including my favourite of hers, You Look Like Trouble (But I Guess I Do Too), as well as a cover of Ace of Spades that gets all the fire emoji. So great. “RULED RULED RULED” as a wise man once said.
It was another short set, going just over an hour. I would have been fine with more – I would be fine if it was still going on – but it was not to be. She ended with a Fleetwood Mac cover. Because I don’t take notes right after the show like I should, I am 99% certain it was Never Going Back Again but my attempts to verify this using the internet have been stymied because it seems she really likes covering Fleetwood Mac songs.
Whatever it was (275 of these things and I am STILL SO BAD AT THIS), I dug it. This was an early contender for my favourite show of the year. Fantastic tunes and some unexpected self-discovery. And now I need to sleep and not buy a banjo. Yet.
There are a ton of songs out there that are sad, or about difficult things, but what’s the song that’s just the saddest damn thing you ever heard?
Giving it a few moment’s thought, the first few that came into my head were:
Nine Inch Nails – Hurt (and Johnny Cash’s version, too)
Mike & The Mechanics – The Living Years
Eric Clapton’s Tears In Heaven
Hank Williams – I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry
Billie Holiday – Gloomy Sunday
Harry Chapin – Cat’s In The Cradle
and so on…
But for me, the winner has to be George Jones’ He Stopped Loving Her Today.
It doesn’t matter whether you like country music or not. This one is a relationship tune, but it’s not about a break-up. No, this one’s about a man who loved a woman for a long time, but he wasn’t even with her. Unrequited love. Still he loved her until the day he died. THAT was the day he stopped loving her.
Just… damn. Right in the feels!
He said “I’ll love you till I die”, she told him “You’ll forget in time”
As the years went slowly by, she still preyed upon his mind
He kept her picture on his wall, went half-crazy now and then
He still loved her through it all, hoping she’d come back again
Kept some letters by his bed dated nineteen sixty-two
He had underlined in red every single “I love you”
I went to see him just today, oh but I didn’t see no tears
All dressed up to go away, first time I’d seen him smile in years
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today
You know, she came to see him one last time.
Aww, ‘n’ we all wondered if she would
And it kept runnin’ through my mind-“this time he’s over her for good.”
He stopped loving her today
They placed a wreath upon his door
And soon they’ll carry him away
He stopped loving her today.
Around the fifth time I saw Hawksley Workman, I complained in my review that I didn’t have anything more to say about the guy. As ridiculous as that seems some 14 Hawksley shows later, I kind of find myself there with Joel Plaskett now. I can tell the whole story in one sentence: Mika’s favourite guy; she introduced me to his music; I like him a lot too; he’ll usually skip most of the songs I want to hear.
I did not say it would be a quality sentence.
Even the idea of seeing him in concert with his folk-singer father isn’t new; Bill Plaskett was a surprise guest on the 2009 tour for Joel’s album Three. What was new, however, was the venue. Regina has a shortage of concert venues, largely because Regina has a shortage of people who go to lots of concerts. So with Darke Hall being renovated, there’s not much left that’s smaller than the casino but bigger than the Exchange. Thus, we found ourselves at the Wa Wa Shrine Centre, a place I’d only ever gone to for the winter indoor farmers’ market.
It should be noted that when I call this a new venue, I very much mean it in the new-to-me sense. This is not a new building. It is, however, kind of amazing, a feeling shared by Joel Plaskett himself who posted lots of pictures of it to his Instagram. I always enjoy it when I see musicians I like interacting on social media as though they are regular humans, and it turns out I like it even more when said interaction involves Shotgun Jimmie being excited about some ornate wallpaper.
And amazing wallpaper it was, to the point that the host recommended selfies in the women’s washroom. I made Mika do this. The wallpaper there is a vibrant red floral pattern. But the aesthetic was everywhere – all over the place there are pictures, awards, signs, pins, more and different wallpaper – “style for miles,” as Joel said. The main hall where the concert was to be held was full of plastic chairs and cafeteria tables, with lights strung across the ceiling. When Joel posted a picture a few hours before the show, I was sure they’d move the tables. They did not. When we arrived, we sat six or eight to a table with our new best friends.
I went in search of sodas and returned with ciders. They had a drink ticket system. I wasn’t expecting that and panicked. This explains much of my life.
Our openers were the Mayhemingways, a duo from Peterborough who were on the whole tour with the Plasketts. They played an enjoyable set of folky rock and seemed like two likable guys. They got a good reaction from the crowd, which was weird – it seemed like a ton of applause after each song, but they’d talk and ignore the band while they were actually playing. Later on, there was one group of attendees (couldn’t call them “fans”) over by the drink ticket table that was so continually and carelessly disruptive that someone from the Shrine Centre or the Folk Festival (who put on the show) really should have had them thrown out.
But I won’t dwell on the negative, even though doing so is a great way to distract from the fact that I have very little to say about the Mayhemingways other than “they were good.” I suppose I can add that they came back out later as the rhythm section for the Plasketts and were, again, good.
The Plaskett concert itself wasn’t quite what I was expecting. For a show billed as “Bill & Joel Plaskett,” touring in support of an album also by Bill & Joel Plaskett, this was a lot closer to a Joel Plaskett solo show than I anticipated. This is not a complaint, mind you – Joel Plaskett shows are among my favourites. I just expected it to be closer to 50/50, when in actuality, Bill only sang lead on a few songs, and the whole band left Joel on stage by himself for a few more.
As you’d expect, they wound up playing most (maybe all?) of the new album, Solidarity. The album is much folkier than one expects from Joel Plaskett, who never rocks that hard to begin with. But as often happens, the live versions had a little extra energy which made me appreciate the album that more. Just spending some time focusing on the songs also helped – I paid more attention to the lyrics, and Joel and (especially) Bill talked about the stories behind some of the songs, which helped give them context and made them that much more interesting. One new song, Dragonfly, was about a purported paranormal encounter Joel had. I don’t think I’d have ever picked up on that without the backstory, which makes the song a little more interesting and a lot weirder. Another of the new songs was described as a union song, which really pleased the dude to our right, who ran off and bought the album as soon as they’d finished playing it. I don’t think the guy to my left was nearly such a fan of this whole union idea, based on his wife’s grin and condescending pats on the knee. Somehow, we narrowly avoided a riot.
The Plasketts also played a lot of songs from Three, including quite a few that aren’t normally on the setlist (and some that are, including closing with Wishful Thinking). This surprised me at the time, but makes much more sense now that I’ve gone back and reminded myself that Bill was on the Three tour. I’d really remember nothing about these shows if I didn’t write stuff down.
While Joel was on stage by himself, he took requests from the crowd, including Happen Now and North Star. I’ve still never heard him play Penny for Your Thoughts (or most of Ashtray Rock) and I wasn’t about to start yelling requests now. This was wise as Joel seemed kinda picky about what requests he’d play, turning down one song for being a downer and another for some other reason.
What a great story that was. Joel Plaskett didn’t play a song, I don’t know which one, for reasons that I also do not know. Thank god I’m immortalizing these events with carefully selected words.
Anyway, if you’ve been reading these things for any length of time, you should know by now that you can skip the Joel Plaskett reviews. They’re pretty much always going to say he’s great, show was great, will go again, you should go see him too. I guess I could add “and take lots of pictures in the bathroom” but that may have to be a judgment call every time out.
It’s Sunday morning. Get a coffee, put up your feet, and follow my travels!
Yesterday I had the day to myself. And what did I do? Hahaha silly you if you said anything other than “go record shopping.”
I’d thought about going to Toronto, but I’d be on my own and that’s no fun. Mike was just there recently himself, and my Dad wasn’t available. Plus, it’s a lot of driving from my door to downtown, and traffic on a Saturday can suck, so… no. Maybe next time!
Instead, I did a tour of local spots recommended by the illustrious and industrious Boppin. Go read his blog. I’ll wait!
There follows a wee description of my travels yesterday, and the treasures I discovered along the way:
Walkerton – Scotty’s
I was back to Scotty’s, my second trip. You’ll recall my first visit. The man always has so much music I want to get, and I must be very selective. It’s always fun talking to the man himself, too. Today, I think I did very, very well:
Various – Castle Donnington Monsters Of Rock
Aretha Franklin – 30 Greatest Hits (2LP)~
Max Webster – Universal Juveniles^
Kim Mitchell – Shaking Like A Human Being ^
U2 – Rattle And Hum (2LP)^
U2 – War^
Roxy Music – Avalon^
~ a gift for my Mom. She doesn’t read this blog, but don’t tell her!
^ These were $2 each, but Scotty included them gratis because I was buying other things. What a guy!
Black Mountain – Black Mountain
Manic Street Preachers – Everything Must Go
Corb Lund Band – Five Dollar Bill
Townes Van Zandt – Live At The Old Quarter (2CD)
Diana Krall – From This Moment On
Report: The Monsters Of Rock LP looks unplayed. Score! The U2 were a nice find, Mike loved that I found Max and Kim, and I think it was 1537 who recommended Roxy Music…. Black Mountain was recommended by Bop, the Manics recommended by 1537 and J., and the Diana Krall completes (I think) my collection of her stuff except her very newest one. Corb Lund and Townes Van Zandt always rule. Woot!
Hanover – Flea Market
Bop then recommended the flea market in Hanover, though Scotty didn’t think I should go. I backtracked and grabbed lunch (hello again, amazing meat lover’s panzerotti!), and hit up the market anyway. Who knows, right?
Report: I spent an hour and a half going through all of his stuff, CDs and LPs. It was dark in there, and dirty. All his stuff is alphabetized by first letter of artist’s first name, so Frank Zappa is under ‘F’, etc. It took a long time to dig through. Gahhhh…
A huge percentage of it was nothing I’d want. He had a bunch of Dillinger Escape Plan CDs I needed, but they were all nicked or scratched. I did find three other CDs I’d like, and held onto them a long while. I went through his rock music vinyl room, and found a few I considered getting, though most were priced too high. He wanted $190 for a Beatles LP called Beatles Story. I think I got that one for free…
Most were in sleeves and priced, which is fine, at least you know quickly where you stand. When he told me that unsleeved unpriced LPs were $10 each because he has high rent to pay, I picked up a basic copy of Duran Duran’s Rio LP at random and said “You mean to tell me you’d charge me $10 for this?” Yup. Haha you silly man. I put back everything I had been considering, including the CDs. I just left. Wasted an hour and a half of my day. Scotty was right.
Will skip in future.
Harriston – Raven’s Nest
Bop had also recommended a shop in Harriston, so it was down the highway through my old stomping grounds to check out the Raven’s Nest. CDs were all $3 each (nice!), and several boxes of LPs to dig through, sorted helpfully into genre (mostly).
Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers – Drum Suite
Queensryche – Rage For Order (a Grail List item for Brother Craig!)
*undisclosed* – a gift for someone I’m not saying who, nope, no way
Duff McKagan – Believe In Me
KISS – Alive! (2CD)
Dragonforce – Inhuman Rampage
Barstool Prophets – Last Of The Big Game Hunters
Report: Art Blakey on LP for cheap? Hells yes. And a couple of LPs for other folks. Cool! I’d wanted that Duff since Mike mentioned it, KISS Alive! is one I’ve meant to get for years because Mike keeps telling me how awesome it is. Dragonforce was an impulse grab but I’ll give it a go, and Barstool Prophets was one I still needed to get.
Williamsford – Williamsford Mill
Rolling back north towards home, I noticed our other car in the parking lot of the Williamsford Mill. I found my lovely wife, our beautiful and rambunctious kids, and my Dad inside the shoppe. They’d stopped to check out the books! Before that, they’d spent their day together in Holstein at the maple syrup festival, and it had been a great time.
There are a few LPs here occasionally, but it’s not steady stock and usually there are none. You might get one milk crate of LPs to dig in if you’re lucky. But today I scored big:
Deep Purple – Made In Japan (2LP)
Report: Hells yes. The records are in mint shape too, though the glue has come loose from the sleeve. I can fix that!
And that was my day. It maybe doesn’t seem like much, but I think I got a ton of great tunes, and all for under $80. And I spent my day doing some of what I love doing: driving through beautiful countryside on a gorgeous sunny day, eating awesome meat-stuffed folded pizza and, most importantly, digging through records looking for treasure.
My thanks to everyone for their recommendations, especially Boppin. The man certainly knows where to find records.
Give ‘er! \m/ \m/
Congratulations to the inimitable Mike Lebrain for his super-fast turnaround of a mere 17 minutes after the contest post went live. He correctly answered the skill-testing question with the name of David Bowie’s character of the Goblin King in Labyrinth, which was “Jareth.”
Mike, your CD will be in the mail shortly!
And thanks to everyone else who entered their guesses… creative as some of them were!
Yup, that’s right folks. I’ve come into possession of another CD copy of Blackstar, David Bowie’s last album. I want to send it to YOU!
Who gets it? The first person who correctly comments their answer to this skill-testing question:
WHAT WAS DAVID BOWIE’S CHARACTER NAME, AS THE GOBLIN KING, IN LABYRINTH?
NB: I will be away from my computer for most of today (Saturday), but your answers will be in chronological order in the Comments section (below), so when I return I’ll announce the winner as soon as I can tonight!
Good luck, everyone!