RECORD STORE TALES & REVIEWS: Complete Table of Contents

February 1, 2012 7 comments

MAINRECORD STORE TALES

Parts 1 – 50  
Parts 51 – 100 
Parts 101 – 150
Parts 151 – 200
Parts 201 – 250
Parts 251 – 300
Parts 301 – 320

    RECORD STORE TALES MkII:

GETTING MORE TALE

# 321-350

DIRECTORY OF REVIEWS 

Music, Movies, and more

WTF?

Categories: Table of Contents

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Bark at the Moon (2002 Remixed version)

October 31, 2014 16 comments

Happy Hallowe’en! AAHOOOOOOOH! Bark at the moon!

OZZY OSBOURNE – Bark at the Moon (2002 Sony, unadvertised remixed)

Much like Diary and Blizzard, when Bark At The Moon was reissued in 2002, it was also remixed. People who own my preferred edition of this beloved Ozzy classic have noticed the unadvertised remix. (There was no sticker on the cover indicating this album was remixed, and it was also ignored in press releases.  The liner notes claim this was mixed by Tony Bongiovi, like the original.) Why this was done is a mystery to me, I’ve never read anything about it. All I can say is that you’ll notice particularly on Jake E. Lee’s solos, the overall sonics, and some keyboard parts as well. The ending to some songs, and the beginnings of others are very different.  Maybe Ozzy thought the album sounded dated?  The remix seems as if they were trying for the drums and effects to sound “current”.  Which is silly, of course.  This year’s “current” is next year’s out of date, but classic will always be classic.

Either way, the original mix of Bark has been an underdog favourite for many years.  Ozzy seems to really want to bury the Jake years.  He only plays the title track live, none of the other songs. Granted, “Bark at the Moon” is clearly an outstanding track.  There are still some lesser-known classics here equally good as the album tracks on Diary or Blizzard. For example, “Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel”. This riff monster sounds like the natural successor to some of the best moments on Diary. There are a ton of great songs here. “You’re No Different”, which is one of those great Ozz slow burners is another one. I’ve always liked “Slow Down” and of course “Waiting for Darkness”. Ozzy had gothed out his sound a lot more on this album and you’ll hear a lot more keyboards and even strings.

Ozzy was in a bad place back in ’83.  Still hurting from the death of Randy Rhoads, Ozzy was forced to audition players again, a process he hated.  Jake E. Lee (ex-Ruff Cutt) was selected, perhaps due to his ability to meld white hot riffs with neoclassical shredding.  Bassist Bob Daisley returned, as did drummer Tommy Aldridge, who had played on the last tour.  Don Airey returned for keyboard duties, creating a spooky atmosphere for the Ozzman to prowl.

And prowl he did.  This is a hard rocking album, probably harder than the two Rhoads discs.  It is also a dark sounding album.  Blizzard has a lot of musical joy on it; you can hear that these guys were stoked to be playing those songs.  Bark sounds a bit tired by comparison, a bit like a druggy haze.  “Now You See It (Now You Don’t)” is an example of a song that has all these qualities.  It has a hard, almost Sabbathy guitar riff, but is cloaked in darkness.

“Rock ‘N’ Roll Rebel” is the most upbeat song.  Who doesn’t like a song about rebellion in the name of rock and roll?  It also has obvious references to the TV preachers who were out to get Ozzy at the time, so the song is like a big middle finger from Ozzy.  “I’m a just a rock ‘n’ roll rebel, I’ll tell you no lies.  They say I worship the devil, they must be stupid or blind.”

Then you have the jokey weird ballad, “So Tired”.  At least that’s how I heard it then, and still hear it now.  The video seems to emphasize the jokey aspect.  Who doesn’t love to see Ozzy dressed up as monsters?  As far as the song goes, I have no idea what they were thinking at the time.  Maybe it was the drugs?  Another weird thing — even  thought I think the song is a joke, I love it!

As mentioned, since the remix changes the sound of the album and swaps out solos here and there, pick up one of the earlier CD editions. The 1995 remaster is pretty good; it contained the B-side “Spiders” (sometimes written as “Spiders In The Night”).  Unfortunately even though it’s a well sought rarity, it’s not one of Ozzy’s better songs. It’s an obvious B-side. Better (because it’s funnier) is “One Up The B-Side” which makes its CD debut on this edition. “The bent overture”. Heh.

Now that Ozzy and Sharon have seen the light and finally reissued the original mixes of Blizzard and Diary, one can always hope for a long term Ozzy reissue program. I’d like to see the original mix of Bark At The Moon made available again. I think it’s a shame that Ozzy seems to have disowned most of the Jake E. Lee era. Jake was and remains a great guitarist — check out his work on the incredible Badlands album.

4.5/5 stars (original)
3.5/5 stars (remix)

VIDEO: Steve Earle – “Dominick Street” and “The Galway Girl”

October 30, 2014 5 comments

STEVE EARLE – “Dominick Street” and “The Galway Girl”

My old friend Mike Lukas has shot and edited this cool video with his new GoPro camera.  I gotta get me one of these!  He edited the video on his Mac and voila — “The Galway Girl” live on stage with Steve Earle. This is my favourite song from Transcendental Blues.

Mike tells me that John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin is visible at the beginning of the video.  See if you can spot him.

DVD REVIEW: Free Enterprise (1999)

October 30, 2014 6 comments

 

FREE ENTERPRISE_0001FREE ENTERPRISE (1999, 2006 “Five Year Mission Extended Edition”, Anchor Bay)

Directed by Robert Meyer Burnett.

I’ll admit I never saw the original cut of this 1999 cult indy classic. I’d heard of it back then, but never saw it. All I’ve seen is this recut version, and I am pleased to bits over it. Not knowing what to expect, I popped the movie into the DVD player. This movie was a good 15 years ahead of its time. Now you can see this every week on The Big Bang Theory. I’d almost go as far as to call Big Bang a ripoff. Almost. Big Bang never got Shatner on their show.

I was immediately inundated with sci-fi and pop culture references to make Kevin Smith wet his bed. Anyone born in the 1970’s will understand. Yet, this is not as cheesily done as the disappointing Fanboys.  Something about this strikes the nerve of authenticity.  From re-enactments of Logan’s Run (“Run, runner!”) to geekouts over Wrath Of Khan laserdiscs, and incorporating Terminator quotes into everyday life, if you’re a sci-fi geek, you will never find a more wretched hive…sorry, got carried away there. Throw in Swingers influences for the late 20’s crowd in the late 90’s and you have a pretty entertaining film.  Although in the wake of Big Bang Theory, I fear viewers today will simply feel they’ve seen this before.

FREE ENTERPRISE_0004Eric McCormack is a struggling writer (his latest screenplay, Brady Killer – a horror movie set in the Brady house — is pretty much junk).  Rafer Weigel (who?) is a film editor for a tiny studio, making movies like Beach Babe Bingo Fiesta. Their lives consist of trying to score, geeking out over Star Trek (“only original, only classic!”), and in Rafer’s case, paying the bills without hawking his Trek goods. Their lives take a turn for the interesting when they are browsing books and run into…William Shatner (browsing porn), as played by William Shatner.

This is, in my own humble geek opinion, Shatner’s best movie. At times he plays himself understatedly dark, other times with panache, and outrageously at others. Most of all, Shatner’s Shatner is whacko. A lonely whacko, and lovable, but also out-of-his-tree whacko, as if every story you ever heard about his ego was true. He is working on his own film project, a little epic. William Shatner and William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. A musical version. Six hours long. Three intermissions. With Shatner playing all the parts. Except Calpurnia. He was thinking about getting Sharon Stone for that part.

Shatner, as great as he is, is only the background for this lovingly made film. He appears in childhood dream sequences, and he pops up unexpectedly when the characters need to confess their problems to what essentially amounts to a friendly, lonely stranger. Our main characters are going through their own late-20’s problems, mostly with women. The performances are merely adequate, certainly not Oscar-worthy, but damned if McCormack doesn’t do the best Shatner monologue that I’ve ever seen.  It’s a very, very good Shat.

This is not a complex story, but it is a warm one about friends and Trek, and is infinitely re-watchable. I pull it off the shelves every year or so to enjoy and geek out. I can’t say the same thing about Fanboys.  Its only flaw is its ending, which is a shame since the ending is kind of the important part.  Considering that the ending is a musical performance by William Shatner though, there’s some camp value to it.  It’s just…not very good.

FREE ENTERPRISE_0005The DVD bonus features are pure awesomeness at warp 9. My favourite was a pilot for a series called Cafe Fantastique that was never picked up, but damn, it should have been. The makers of Free Enterprise came up with a series where they just discuss science fiction news and films over drinks in a bar with special guests. Chase Masterson (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) appears in this pilot. It’s kind of like that show that Jon Favreau had where he just hangs out at dinner with his friends. Shoulda woulda coulda been a series. I would have watched it, and so would you.  Lastly there is a large booklet with lots of pictures and essays, and a glossary of geek speak.  For example “Soylent Green is people!”

Pickup Free Enterprise if you:
a) are a Shatner fan
b) love Kevin Smith style films
c) think Han shot first.

3.5/5 stars. An indispensable part of my Trek library.

 

REVIEW: White Lion – The Best Of (1992)

October 29, 2014 4 comments

WHITE LION – The Best Of (1992 Atlantic) I’m going to keep it short and sweet this time, and defer to a 1992 review by M.E.A.T Magazine’s Drew Masters (issue 38, Nov. 92): BEST OF WHITE LION_0001 He’s right.  I don’t agree with the single M rating though; these are mostly good tunes.  They’re sequenced awkwardly as fuck though.  The flow on this disc is just completely fucked.  The songs don’t work in the sequence they’re in.  And Drew is correct in inferring that many of White Lion’s prouder, heavier moments are missing.   Vito smokes on the live tracks, but Tramp can’t hit the notes.  Buy Pride, not this. 2/5 stars

#330: A Journey of Journaling (RSTs MkII: Getting More Tale)

October 29, 2014 24 comments

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RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale

#330: A Journey of Journaling 

Just because I left my old job at the Record Store didn’t mean I stopped journaling. It did slow down, but it’s interesting to review them today, having just completed the Record Store Tales. It’s fascinating to me how positive they are (in general) compared to the ones only 18 months prior. It’s also interesting how even over a year after leaving that place, certain people continued to terrify me. Even though the person I’ll call “the office bully” had no power over me anymore, I was still in the grips in fear at the mere thought. I’m seeing journal entries about this person haunting my thoughts over a year after my last encounter, and I’m reading words like “terror”. I didn’t realize how I’d been affected by the whole thing.  I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.  It took years for me to really put it all together, and I’m still doing that.

My journals after the store are pretty bland by comparison to the ones before. There are still some pretty funny ones, such as a review of the movie Transformers (2007) that is so stupidly positive that there is no way I will post it here, not even for comedic value! I would simply lose all credibility, so forget it.  I remember dragging Jen out to see that stupid thing.

Of the journals I’ve re-discovered, one in particular jumped out at me as a great one to post first.

I won’t share the whole thing in its entirety as it includes a private email, but the first paragraph is pretty cool.  I had made a video on Youtube back then regarding the passing of Mark St. John.  I don’t have the video anymore, but it was pretty heartfelt and apparently others must have got that out of the video as well.  This journal preserved an email that I received from a cousin of Mark:

Date: 2007/04/07 05:17

I just got the most amazing email in regards to my youtube video (below) [now gone] about Mark St. John of Kiss:

“Thank you so much for your tribute to Mark. He was my cousin. Mom called to tell me the bad news. She said Aunt Terry said to look him up online to see all the posts etc. on different sites. It was really cool of you to make your RIP video. [content edited] Thanks again for what you said….he will be greatly missed.”

Stuff like that video, I just threw it together. It was a first take with no edits. But apparently it really touched Mark’s cousin.  This was yet another stepping stone in my realization that I should be online, talking about music.  I think that was a good decision.

REVIEW: Blaze – Silicon Messiah (2000)

October 28, 2014 28 comments

BLAZE_0001BLAZE – Silicon Messiah (2000 SPV)

It took Blaze Bayley a couple years to bounce back with a new band and album, and given the fan reception to his work with Iron Maiden, I was skeptical.  I didn’t shell out for the Japanese, but I did grab the domestic CD as soon as a copy arrived in our stores.  I was pleasantly surprised, as Blaze’s debut solo release Silicon Messiah is a very heavy and memorable disc.

The weakness for some will be Blaze’s voice.  You either like it or you don’t.  Outside of the context of Iron Maiden, his deep vocals work better.  The opening track “Ghost in the Machine” for example is a de-tuned chugger the likes of which Maiden wouldn’t do.  Blaze’s vocals work better with this kind of low, growly metal.  Fortunately there is still enough melody (on the killer chorus) and riffage to keep heads banging.  And no wonder: the CD is produced by metal master Andy Sneap, who laid waste to several excellent Accept albums recently.  Blaze wrote the music with his new eponymous band:  Steve Wray and John Slater (guitars), Jeff Singer (drums), and Rob Naylor (bass).  The band is somewhat faceless, aside from Blaze himself there’s nothing identifiable about the band.

If there is a weakness to Silicon Messiah, it’s that there is a certain sameness to the songs.  It’s a bit homogeneous:  grinding, de-tuned riffs, melodic choruses and solos, with powerful but low vocals.   Fortunately Blaze has written some surprisingly decent lyrics to go with the songs, with several seeming to fit together into some kind of cyberpunk concept.

Highlights:

  • “Silicon Messiah”, perhaps the most Maiden-like track.
  • “Born as a Stranger”, also Maiden-like (think “Be Quick or Be Dead”); speedy goodness.
  • “The Brave”, another fast one that kicks all the asses in the room.  “Fortune favours the brave” indeed.
  • “Identity” which boasts lots of tasty guitar bits along with loud and quiet parts.
  • “The Launch” which is essentially “Man of the Edge” by Iron Maiden re-written (but with a better chorus).
  • “Stare at the Sun”, your typical Maiden-inspired epic closer.

Blaze Bayley, his band and Andy Sneap created a pretty decent metal album here.  It’s perfectly listenable throughout, if a bit anonymous sounding.  Fans of Blaze will dig it.

3.25/5 stars

REVIEW: Europe – Europe (1983)

October 27, 2014 16 comments

EUROPE_0001EUROPE – Europe (1983 CBS)

Summer 1989.  My buddy Bob showed up at the door.

“Mike!” he began.  “They have a Europe album you don’t have down at Sam the Record Man.  You should get it, but it’s only on record.”

I knew Europe had albums prior to The Final Countdown, but I had never seen nor heard them.  Since my primary format was cassette back then, I passed on the vinyl version.  A few weeks later, Europe the album showed up in the new Columbia House catalog, so I ordered it on tape.  I had reasoned out that this was their first album, but the 1989 date on the back made it look like a new release.  In fact Martin Popoff even reviewed it as such in Riff Kills Man!, stating that the poodle hair and keyboards were “gone” and replaced by sheer heavy metal.  He’s right about the heavy metal, even if he had the order of the albums wrong.  Europe resembles the band of “Carrie” and “Rock the Night” only superficially.  This is a metal album, and a damn fine one at that.

The regal, thunderous riff of “In the Future to Come” should warn away anyone expecting power ballads.  This speedy UFO/Priest hybrid certainly took me by surprise.  Singer Joey Tempest’s voice was not the soulful powerhouse it would later become, but he was just a kid at the time.   The metal here is pure: no frills, no excesses, just steamhammer rhythm and a howling lead singer.  Throw in some ace John Norum guitar work and you have something to talk about.  His double-tracked solo might be reminiscent of Thin Lizzy.

“Farewell” is straightforward heavy metal, on the hard rock side of things.  Some may be off-put by the flat lead vocals, but I say, “Hey, it’s rock n’ roll.”  The song slams and the chorus is memorable enough for me.  Then “Seven Doors Hotel” changes the scene with a haunting piano opening…but it’s merely a fake out.  The speed metal riffing and wailing Norum are back.  Norum makes his Les Paul howl like Joey does at the microphone.  Even though there’s some neoclassical finesse to some of the music, I hear a bit of Phil Lynott in there too.

My favourite song then and now is probably “The King Will Return”.  The lyrics aren’t very good, but English wasn’t Joey’s first language.  I still enjoy the words, as it’s one of those medieval story-telling songs that I’m a sucker for.  This softer song is still pretty epic and wouldn’t be considered wimpy by anyone.  Side one was closed by the Norum instrumental song “Boyazont”.  I don’t know what a “boyazont” is, but who cares?  Norum instrumentals are usually ballsy and catchy, and this is no exception.

The second side is commenced by “Children of this Time”, which continues much in the vein of songs like “In the Future to Come”.  Then for a respite, “Words of Wisdom” has an acoustic verse.  That doesn’t make it a ballad!  No, this picks up speed for the chorus and continues to storm the gates of Valhalla like the rest of the album.  It’s a bit slower in pace, but the drums still hit like hammers while Joey howls at the thunder.  I think I can even hear timpani.  “Paradize Bay” (not sure why they spelled it with a z) is one of the album’s strongest cuts.  It’s a relentless battering ram with a chorus that hints at the grandness of Europe in the future.  Norum’s solo is sloppy but delicious.  “Memories” then closes the album on a frenetic note.  There are plenty of  “woah woah” vocals to go around, and drummer Tony Reno seemingly pulverizes his kit.  There’s another voice singing with Joey on the outro of the song; is this John Norum?

This album was self produced, and as such it sounds very raw.  But heavy!  Not all bands who self produced early in their careers managed to get results as good as those on Europe.   For 1983 and just a bunch of kids, this is damn fine work!  And it holds up.  It’s a headbanger.

5/5 stars

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