Ontario Bands Series: Headstones – Picture Of Health
Formed in Kingston in 1987, Headstones were built to kick ass and take names. Mission accomplished. As Wiki rightly points out: “They frequently sold out at small and mid-sized venues and were known for their high energy live shows, particularly the antics of (Hugh) Dillon, who interacted with his audience in a variety of ways including spitting on them and hurling lit cigarettes into mosh pits. The songwriting tackled many serious and taboo topics, including suicide and even necrophilia.”
This, the trio’s first record (in 1993), is a blast and a total nostalgia trip all wrapped up in one!
It’s All Over is a great title for a first song on your first record, eh? Haha go boys! It’s a corker of a rocker, totally refreshing amongst all the grunge angst on the airwaves. Heart Of Darkness is hit if I ever heard one, mid-tempo and hitting hard right outta the corner. Goddamn.
Then it’s my fave from back in the day, first single When Something Stands For Nothing. With acoustic guitar breaks in between the rocking, it’s catchy as hell a great mix of literate and goofy lyrics, and just punk enough to be sure to rock the bar (complete “oo-hoo-hoo-hoos” thrown in!). Just a great track. Tweeter And The Monkey Man is a rockin’ cover of the Traveling Wilburys track (which was a loose homage to Bruce Springsteen) and, guess what, I think it’s brilliant.
Absolutely keeps the pace up, another rocker with that (by now) signature Headstones sound. Three Angels finally slows things a bit, breaking out the acoustic guitars for a strummy bluesy hit. Love the lyrics here. Eventually the band comes in but it keeps that feel, just louder (and with keys)!
Oh My God! crashes with feedback into life, and it’s a huge stomper of a rock tune. Distortion, rumbling bass, crashing drums. Yes! But hold onto your teeth because Losing Control is a punk puncher at 100 mph hell yes! What a joyous noise! If they ever played this live, it must’ve just pummelled the crowd.
Cut pulls things back into a bluesy slinky tune that still sounds like only the Headstones can muster. This should have been a radio track, if you ask me. It’s glorious! Another album highlight, for me. Judy is another template Headstones rocker, building from gentler into heavier, but those keys are in the forefront and so it’s never boring!
Won’t Wait Again is another strummer, first electric the acoustic, and when the band joins in it’s a beautiful waltz that pulls you in and swinging you around and around and around, you won’t want it to stop… plus a harmonica solo! Up next it’s Where Does It Go? lulls you into thinking it’s a continuation of the previous track, but whammo! Full on rocker with a huge bottom end and tons of menace. It eases off, you think you’re in the clear, then whammo! Not a chance brother! Go go go!
And finally it’s Cemetery, which appeared on the Hard Core Logo DVD (for those sharp to notice it). It’s another album highlight track for me, blasting away at 100 mph with a punk metal rockabilly feel to it all. And listen to those lyrics (“Went down to the cemetery, looking for love… got there, and my baby was buried, had to dig her up!”) Er, well, there’s the necrophilia. The heavy breathing was creepy, Hugh, goddamn!
This record rocks you silly with its bar band punker energy, and it’s a ton of fun, but they had a lot to say and you’d do damn well to listen. They quickly establish their sound, here, and it’s a keeper. Pure greatness from our home and native land!