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Awkward Stage, Bach, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bad Brains

Awkward Stage – Heaven Is For Easy Girls

Ah, the mighty Mint Records. Let’s float back to 2006 on this tasty wave of pop rock bliss. Jammy guitars, swirling harmonies, all so very tasteful and redolent of the best of the 80s’ smartest bands…  Except that’s not it, by half. This is also consciously current, tapping into that urge towards huge melodies and solid backings and clever lyrical oddities that make today’s indie rock what it is. A masterpiece of the form.

Bach – The Best Of Bach

This is my lovely wife’s CD, in truth, but we both play it so often I may have assumed part ownership of it, by now… There’s something positively fascinating about what Bach’s music does to my brain. I can feel lost connections reconnecting, new synapses firing. Take the intricacies of Violin Concerto in Am (Allegro Assai), or the majestic beauty of Suite #3 In D (Air) or, well, all of the Brandenburg Concertos (only three selections found here)… hell, any of these 15 tracks are just what the doctor ordered when life gets crazy. This is centering music, for me.

Bachman Turner Overdrive – The Anthology (2CD)

To me, BTO was always so much more than the hits, though those are all here too. This band of superlative players mastered that classic rock sound and gave it everything they had, without fail. Any of the 31 tracks here will blow the roof off and have you scrambling for that guitar and amp you’ve been meaning to get back into playing. Even tracks like the lighter Lookin’ Out For #1 fit the form. There’s also unreleased and live material here, so it’s really a no-brainer. Hot damn, this was so much fun!

Bad Brains – Bad Brains

This is 33:56 of blistering punk perfection, with a couple of reggae tracks thrown in… I know! Oh this is so great. My current copy (not my first) is the 1997 reissue, with a bonus track of Jah Calling Dub. I cannot overstate the importance of this album. Own it, crank it, love it.

Bad Brains – Rise

This, their 5th album, is more funk rock than punk/hardcore (still with the ska/reggae tracks tossed in), and that’s fine by me. These are solid songs as only the Brains can imagine and play them. Sure, HR and his brother Earl Hudson aren’t here, but Joseph I and Mackie Jayson bring the goods. One thing that strikes me is just how good this records sounds, production-wise. It’s flawless. Throw this in and get your funk metal on, then rest on the sweet reggae jams before heading back into the pit again!



Sabbath, Nirvana, BTO, Beatles and The Hip

At long last, here’s another batch of favourites. I will get to yours soon, I swear!

16 MIKE: Black Sabbath – Born Again

Directly From Mike: “Favourite record — I always give the same answer.  Black Sabbath – Born Again.  Considered by some to be one of their worst, due to the horrible production and the addition of Ian Gillan of Deep Purple on vocals.  Me being a Gillan fan, and this being the first Sabbath album I ever heard (didn’t even know Ozzy was in the band back then), this has a warm place in my black, black heart.”

I’ve posted Mike’s response exactly, because after all, what else can I say to add to that? I played this record and to me, without Ozzy, the band is sub-Sabbath. Still brilliant, just less. I listen to Sabbath fairly regularly, but I must admit I’ve never even give this one any thought. Way to go, Mike! Your years spent working in a record shop are showing!

17 MATT: Nirvana – Nevermind

It was inevitable that someone would pick this record. Yes, it was seminal, yes it changed the way the world made rock music for a decade, yes Cobain was a tortured genius (even if, as radiohead said “you do it to yourself, and that’s what really hurts”). What really freaked me out about Matt choosing this one was that he said he was in public school when he first heard it. Man, that makes me feel old. Who did we have in public school, Bon Jovi? Gowan? Glass Tiger, ferchrissakes? What a difference.

I almost didn’t even need to play this record again. Just looking at the track listing on the back of the CD case instantly brought every track fully into my head, but I played it anyway and I loved it for all the reasons I did way back when. It’s loud, it’s angry, it’s messy, it’s slightly out of control (in a very controlled, calculated kind of way, but still). I still contend that Bleach is better, but this is the slick, monumental crest of that wave of grunge, and the world is indelibly altered because of it.

18 JIM: Bachman Turner Overdrive – Four Wheel Drive

What fun! This is pure, balls-out 70’s guitar rawk. Even better, it’s Canadian! We all know this band’s biggest songs, but it was a real pleasure to hear a record that was mostly album tracks that weren’t massive hits. It’s proof that this band had a lot backing up the songs we’ve all heard, and boy do they ever. This record weighs a ton in solid riffs and leads.

I had a bit of a hard time not injecting the words to You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet into the song Hey You (they do sound the same, in certain ways), but that’s OK. It’s all good. I really liked this record. Classic stuff.

19 PHILLIP: Beatles – The Beatles (White Album)

I asked Phillip what his favourite was and he didn’t even hesitate – he said this record. I have to agree, this one is pretty fucking sweet. I like the later Beatles a whole lot more than I like the early Beatles. Call it blasphemy, but that whole early, smarmy tripe thing didn’t sit nearly as well with me as did the band that gave us The Ballad Of John And Yoko. Excellent musicians, just not always the greatest song choices in their formative years. I say that as a Stones fan, you realize.

An excellent choice, Phil. Of all the Beatles albums, I agree, this one is stunning from start to finish. Most bands would give their left nut (and half of their right) to make even one track as good (or weird) as any of these.

20 MARSHA: Tragically Hip – Road Apples

I love the Hip. LOVE! And so does Marsha, apparently. Although she claims to be a HUGE fan and wasn’t even aware of the existence of their box set. Oh well. Such is the love that this band has garnered in this country. It asks no questions. It just rocks out to their tunes, and goes to see them in concert no matter what pot-hole they play in next.

Lots of people find the Hip repetitive and/or boring and/or annoying, and I even know a couple of people (an ex-girlfriend of mine included) who can’t stand Gord Downie’s voice like they can’t stand nails on a chalkboard. But I say it sucks to be them. That’s ‘Little Bones.’ I mean really, get with the program!

This is straight-on great rock/poetry as only the Hip can offer it up, and “we’re all richer for having heard them this evening.” (for those non-Hip fans out there, that’s a quote from the live record, so please try to keep up). Road Apples is one fan-freaking-tastic song after another until it ends far too soon. Just imagine, this happened before (before!) Fully Completely. They are truly unstoppable!

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