RECORD STORE TALES & REVIEWS: Complete Table of Contents

February 1, 2012 7 comments

R.I.P. Warren Murchie

July 31, 2014 8 comments

WARREN

I woke up this morning to find some sad, unexpected news: my friend, contributor and former customer Warren has passed away.  I know he had been sick in hospital in Switzerland.  I have only seen him once since he moved there many years ago, but we kept in touch.  He read my site regularly and contributed a lovely piece on the late bassist Randy Coven.

Warren loved the bass.  Actually he just loved music, period.  He was passionate about it, it was his life.  That and his wife, whom I know he loved very much.  As the tributes to Warren pour in, I find myself at a loss for words.  I know Warren loved the bass playing of Chris Squire, so the best I can think to do is post this, for my friend Warren.  I can’t believe we’ll never talk about music together again.

Rest in peace, Warren, and thank you for all you’ve done.

 

REVIEW: The Jerky Boys – Sol’s Rusty Trombone (2007)

July 31, 2014 1 comment

Part 3 of a 3 part series on prank call CDs, dedicated to my buddy Peter!

Part 1: The Jerky Boys – The Jerky Boys
Part 2: Bum Bar Bastards – Tube Bar

TJBSRTTHE JERKY BOYS – Sol’s Rusty Trombone (2007 Laugh.com)

As stated in my review of the first Jerky Boys album, I have a fairly long history with these guys as a fan. Through thick and thin I stocked their CDs in-store, as their albums steadily got less and less funny. On this, their seventh (!) CD, which they had the gall to ask $10 for, they have completely given up. They’re not even trying anymore. How hard is it to put together a full album of prank calls?

My beefs with this CD are three:

1. This CD is billed as “The Jerky Boys”, but “The Jerky Boys” is in fact only one Jerky Boy now. This is essentially just Johnny Brennan. Kamal and all his characters are long gone.

2. There are only six prank calls contained here. Six. The rest of the album is padded out by useless ring tones and voicemails, all in the 10-20 second range. “Boy, I sure do want a CD of ring tones and voicemails from Johnny B of the Jerky Boys, I’ll pay $10 for it!”  Said nobody ever.

3. Even with all that padding, 98 tracks total, this CD is only 36 minutes long.  Perhaps that’s a blessing.

Buyer beware.

0/5 stars

REVIEW: Bum Bar Bastards – Tube Bar

July 30, 2014 6 comments

Part 2 of a 3 part series on prank call CDs.  Dedicated to my best bud Peter.

Part 1: The Jerky Boys – The Jerky Boys

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BUM BAR BASTARDS – Tube Bar (1993 Detonator)

Once again, my friend buddy Peter is to blame. He somehow got a hold of some of these prank calls on cassette back in the 90’s. One afternoon, I was hanging out at his place.  We were listening to comedy tapes, as we often did.  He hit play, and we spent the next half hour or so listening to two guys calling up the “Tube Bar” in New Jersey purely to antagonize the owner, Red Deutsch. A former heavyweight boxer, Red was a foul fountain of obscenity simply unheard of before on this Earth. He strung together swear words in ways novel and horrific, in that gravelly voice that sounded like he spent his mornings gargling glass.

The prank calls were all real. The tape became legendary, and somehow found its way into the hands of Simpsons creator Matt Groening. You know when Bart phones up Moe with those hilarious crank calls? And then Moe loses it and threatens to do nasty things to Bart? That’s all based on Red and the Bum Bar Bastards.

For example, the perpetrators call the Tube Bar looking for people such as Stu. Stu Pitt. Red calls out the name, not realizing what it sounds like, until it is too late. Upon realizing he’s been pranked again, he launches into a tirade that would strip paint.  Threatening life and limb, Red knows no limits.  I don’t know how they found this guy, but you can’t imagine a better victim. As Red begins to catch on to the prank callers (over what I assume is several weeks to months of harassment) the threats become more elaborate. To some, this is a cult classic.   I wouldn’t say that myself, but Red does make me laugh.  There’s not much difference between this and some of the crazy stuff you see on Youtube these days.

The CD consists of 6 tracks. Tracks 1 and 6 are all Red, the rest of the CD is padded out with bizarre toilet flushing sounds, songs, and prank calls to other people. This is all just filler. The CD is worth listening to only for Red; the rest is mostly unfunny. Choose your pricing accordingly.

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: The Jerky Boys – The Jerky Boys (1993)

July 29, 2014 26 comments

Part 1 of a 3 part series on comedy CDs – specifically, prank call albums!  Dedicated to my best bud, Peter.

THE JERKY BOYS – The Jerky Boys (1993 Select)

When this album came out back in 1993, it wasn’t available in Canada yet. Somehow, my best friend Peter caught wind of it. I think he read about the Jerky Boys in the Toronto Sun. Regardless, he knew it was available in the US. With a trip already planned for Frankenmuth, Michigan in April of ’93 (right after final exams), Peter and I made the trip with a secondary mission: acquire a copy of The Jerky Boys.  On cassette, so we could listen to it on the way back home.

Mission accomplished. We listened to that tape (I upgraded to CD later on) non-stop in the van. Literally, non-stop. As in, flip the tape, start over. And then do it again. The whole time there, and the whole way home. Within days we had started calling people “jerky” and incorporated words like “sizzlechest” into our daily vernacular.

That was a long time ago and Peter and I are older (and wiser?) now. But we both still like that first Jerky Boys album. I guess it’s because when I was a kid, I used to prank call people all the time. That was the 1980’s and well before caller ID. If we only could have mastered our craft, maybe we would have been like the Jerky Boys! If only we knew you could have made money doing this!

Anyway, long story short, this CD is for people with immature senses of humour, like me. It’s all prank phone calls, all real, mostly hilarious. There are several “characters” (played by Johnny Brennan and Kamal) who perform the calls. Most of the time, they’re responding to ads in newspapers.  Businesses abused by the Jerky Boys include lawyers, doctors and car dealerships.  Highlights for Peter and I were:

* “Auto Mechanic” – This was our favourite.  Johnny B is looking for a job, because at his old job he had problems with his “fucking boss”.

* “Egyptian Magician” – Kamal calls up a nightclub to audition his magic act. His magic tricks include “stabbing customer in eye with sabre” and “sicking a mountain cat on the crowd.”  (He is advised not to bring the mountain cat for his first show.)

* “Car Salesman” – He can sell anything, but don’t ask him why he wants to commute that distance. That’s his business, jerky!

* “Sushi Chef” – The caller repeatedly punctuates his sentences with the unintelligible words “Unnn gahhhh!” much to the confusion of the sushi restaurant.

* “Dental Malpractice” – I’m sure the receptionist answering the phone at this office knew it was a prank, but she doesn’t let on.

* “Sol’s Glasses” – The character of Sol can’t see goddammit, and wants new glasses. One problem – he’s not on file. He manages to keep them on the call for 3 minutes without cracking up!

Of the 21 tracks of obscene, juvenile humour, most of these are winners.  Even though I’m supposed to be a grown man, I still laughed upon hearing “The Home Wrecker”.  “Jocko Johnson” has split up with his wife and he wants to hire someone to tear her goddamn house down!  I still find it amazing that people didn’t just hang up, proving there’s a fool born every minute.  Same with “Super Across the Way”.  As soon as somebody says, “Look jerky, I don’t need to talk to you!” I would be hanging up!  But in New York (where the Jerky Boys are from) perhaps that’s just not the way.

Most tracks are from 1-3 minutes in length, and have a respectable laugh-per-minute ratio.

4/5 stars

TJB1_0002

Part 308: The Cottage in the Woods (VIDEO BLOG)

July 28, 2014 31 comments

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RECORD STORE TALES PART 308:  The Cottage in the Woods

As bad as the stress used to get, there was always one place I could return and truly recharge my batteries:  the cottage.

I’d pack a dozen or so CDs (tapes in the early days) and go on long walks with my Discman.  Eat some steaks.  Check out the water, rivers and funky bridges.  The phone never rang.  Heck in the early days there were no phones here.  No cable TV, no wi-fi.

Today, I created, edited and posted the video you’re about to see in one day, entirely at the cottage.  How unimaginable to me back then.

I tried to re-create the experience of being here visually — probably the most peaceful place in the world.  I hope this gives you a taste.  Enjoy

REVIEW: Heaven & Hell – The Devil You Know (2009)

July 27, 2014 17 comments

H&HTDYK_0001HEAVEN & HELL – The Devil You Know (2009 Atlantic)

If one considers The Devil You Know as a part of the official Black Sabbath canon (as I do), then it’s not a stretch to call it the darkest and heaviest album in this band’s storied career. The only album that would be on a par with that is Born Again. If I refer to Heaven & Hell as Black Sabbath in this review, I trust you’ll forgive me. After all, this is the Mob Rules/Live Evil/Dehumanizer lineup of Black Sabbath, and a rose by any other name….

The previous album that these four guys did together was 1992’s masterpiece Dehumanizer, (notwithstanding the three new songs on the compilation Black Sabbath: The Dio Years). The last official Black Sabbath studio album prior to this was 1995’s Tony Martin-helmed Forbidden, a dreadful rushed piece of garbage that almost buried Sabbath forever.*

So, it is quite refreshing that The Devil You Know is so heavy, and so good. If you are familiar with the slow, dirgey sludge that were the three new songs on The Dio Years, that is a good reference point to the sound on this album. Very sludgey, mostly slow, guitar-heavy and intense. There are some faster ones (“Double The Pain”, “Neverwhere” etc) but for the most part this is 10 tons of pure heavy Black Sabbath. Songs like “After All” from Dehumanizer are the blueprint.

Especially enticing are the riffs. Iommi’s riff on “Bible Black” is crushing. “Fear” has some exotic noodling that I found surprising and refreshing. Vinnie’s drums are all cannons without the machine guns, which I do miss. I also wish Geezer’s bass was more slinky and audible, but combined with Iommi’s guitar it just creates this sheer wall of metal. All this is held together by Dio’s still-strong, unique, wonderful voice. Tonally, it is deeper than it was back on Dehumanizer, over 15 years previous.  He was 66 years old when this was recorded.

Walmart version

Walmart version

The Devil You Know is not an instant pleasure. Hooks are scarce, as the album bludgeons you with sound. However, the familiarity that these four musicans create with their combined sounds are the hook. One of the most missed sounds in metal was that of Black Sabbath. When Ozzy came back to Sabbath in ’97, new music was scarce (only two new songs on Reunion, although a third never-released new song called “Scary Dreams” was absolutely mindblowing). I am glad that Dio-era Sabbath was capped off with one hell (pun intended) of an album. This album stands up to the glory days without copying it, and that is a hard thing to do.

Itunes bonus tracks exist for the OCD collector: You can find unique live versions of both “I” and “Neon Knights” on their version of The Devil You Know. If you’re not a hardcore collector, then you can stick to the double live album Live From Radio City Music Hall. If you are a Sabbath completist, then be aware the two live bonus tracks are not from that album, but are unique (and great) live versions unavailable anywhere else.

Rest in peace Ronnie. Sleep well, knowing that you did something rare. You created a cap stone worthy of your body of work.

3.5/5 stars

* The “rough mix” of Forbidden is better.

Part 307: Court

July 26, 2014 17 comments

COURT

RECORD STORE TALES Part 307: Court

I can only say so much about this subject, for hopefully obvious reasons. I can say this: Yes, I have had to testify in court, in a case of stolen CDs.

It was the Monday after Mother’s Day, in the year 2000. It was a long, ongoing case, a break and enter. I had forgotten all about it. I had made my written statement a year prior. The store had done nothing wrong. We did everything exactly as we had to, when dealing with a situation like this. As per the instructions of the police, we took all the correct ID from the suspect when buying the CDs, and followed all the correct procedures. When dealing with stolen goods, the police actually preferred us to buy the goods rather than send the person away. That way, they get evidence.

Unfortunately since I was the buyer this time, I was a witness and was therefore subpoenaed to testify. Two of my co-workers from other stores also had to appear in court. I was the only one who decided to wear a suit and tie for my appearance. The other two came in jeans and T-shirts.

“Mike!” laughed Cam. “What are you wearing a suit for? You look like you’re the one on trial!” I looked around. Indeed, the only people who seemed to be dressed as nicely as me were the people who were on trial and their lawyers! And I didn’t look like a lawyer.

“I thought you had to wear a suit to court,” I said in ignorance.

Without going into details, here’s what I remember:

- Cam got a parking ticket because there wasn’t any parking available.
– We spent hours waiting in a room that looked like school class room. Hungry and unable to leave, we decided to order a pizza. We pooled our cash together but didn’t have much left for a tip. I remember that the delivery guy threw the extra coins back at us.
– A year after the incident, I couldn’t remember what the guy looked like. I remember him being big, and bald. That was not enough to satisfy the court that I could recognize the accused. My testimony was all but useless.

I remember reading in the paper a short while later that the defense lawyer got his client off. It wasn’t really a surprise to me.

I only had to go to court twice, both for this one case. The experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The store had paid cash for the CDs we bought from this guy, but we never got compensated for them when the police took them as evidence. In my experience, we only ever got compensated once, and that was just for four CDs. Although we always cooperated with the system, and made sure we always followed procedure, we got burned too.

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