RECORD STORE TALES
Music, Movies, and more
TONIC – Sugar (1999 Universal)
Why did Tonic never make it big? Maybe they didn’t have enough of their own identity, maybe it was the 90’s, maybe it was the “one hit wonder” stigma. Whatever it was, I tweaked onto this band in April of ’96 thanks to a positive review in the Kitchener-Waterloo Record (probably by Robert Reid). I thought their modern rock take on their classic roots was interesting and full of integrity. Indeed, this band didn’t seem to be about following the flavour of the week, but by reaching back to 70’s rock roots in a modern context.
Sugar, the second album, was the one where it all came together. Not one weak track on the whole bloody CD. The slow songs are sweeter, the hard songs are angrier. Something must have happened to Emerson Hart to really tick him off. Girl problems. From “Knock Down Walls”: “So don’t tell me that I’ve gone crazy, you’re the one who tried to fucking change me…” Emmerson also begs the question, “Why do you have to be so fucking mean to me?” on the track “Mean To Me”.
Whatever his inspiration, the anger struck a chord with me. Yet the slow songs like “Waltz With Me” were beautiful, gorgeous, full of love. It’s not a heavy album, but it rocks and has a level of quality that was often absent in the mainstream rock music of the late 90’s. Sugar is loaded with layers of electric, slide and acoustic guitars, great drumming, great singing, and relatable lyrics. The songs themselves are packed with variety and quality. Really, this should have been a huge album in 1999, and the biggest hit of Tonic’s career, but they were never trendy. Shame. They deserved more than the one hit.
The whole album, but I especially love “Drag Me Down”, “Mean To Me”, “Knock Down Walls”, “Sugar”, “Future Says Run”, “Waiting For The Light To Change”.
Happy Anniversary to my beautiful soul mate Jennifer. Every day gets better and better, and you look younger and younger! I don’t know how you do it. Meanwhile I’ve turned into a grey-bearded old man with a bad back and lactose intolerance, and you still keep me around! Must be love. It’s the only possibly explanation why you live in a house full of Transformers, CDs, and records.
The last six years have been the happiest of my life. Thank you for being the puzzle piece that was missing all that time.
Love you, sweetie. Here’s one of the songs we danced to six years ago, on the best day of my life.
SNOOP LION – Reincarnated (2013 Vice films)
Directed by Andy Capper
What the hell? It’s not April 1. Are you on the wrong site?
Nope, it’s me, LeBrain. And today we’re going to be talking about a Snoop Lion movie. Snoop Lion, aka the artist formerly known as Snoop Dogg.
It may surprise you to learn that Snoop Dogg/Lion entertains me. It was one of my old staff guys, Matty K, who exposed me to Snoop’s music. I enjoyed the humour in the lyrics and his smoove voice. He’s funny. And, let’s face it, who didn’t think he kicked ass as Huggy Bear in Starsky and Hutch?
Reincarnated is a documentary that chronicles Snoop’s transformation from gangsta to peaceful Rasta. This process included a visit to Jamaica, to record his first ever Reggae album (Reincarnated) with such talented artists as Bunny Wailer, Damien Marley and Stewart Copeland of The Police. (Snoop: “We got the drummer from The fuckin’ Po-lice!”) He also had the last surviving Wailer. The creative process of the album is observed, and it’s always fascinating to me, to watch songs evolve. Snoop’s singing voice does well with Reggae. He is a natural fit, and he had some damn good guidance there in Kingston.
Snoop discusses his early adult life as a pimp bluntly and honestly, but says that he wasn’t comfortable with that lifestyle and image any longer after his friend Tupac Shakur was killed. The night Tupac died is described in full detail; a heavy moment in the film. After this, Snoop decided on a change of lyrical direction, under the guidance of Master P of No Limits records. Louis Farrakhan became a guiding force to Snoop at this time, and Snoop was inspired by the Nation of Islam to clean up his act. The process of transformation led him to many moments of epiphany, but the death of his friend Nate Dogg in 2011 really hit him hard.
I won’t lie to you, there’s a shit-ton of weed in this movie. One memorable scene involves a trip up a mountain with some local Rastas (where they grow the herb) to smoke the herb. While climbing down the mountain, Snoop’s cousin falls down laughing, and can barely stand, having smoked so much. You will even see Bunny Wailer smoking a pipe made out of a carrot, I shit you not. It’s there, it’s part of it. If that’s not something you need to see, fair enough.
As fascinating, sincere and transformative the movie seems, I did wonder if Snoop has maintained his Rasta values and practices? Or if this too was a phase? In researching for this review I found that Bunny Wailer has since accused Snoop of “outright fraudulent use” of Rastafari. This issue comes up in the film itself in a segment with Bunny. He does not seem to like the commercialization of Rastafarian culture, through popular music, images and style. It seems that since the movie, he lumps Snoop into that category.
Be that as it may, I’m only going to review the film, regardless of that controversy. I enjoyed it, quite a bit actually, and I’m putting the album on my Amazon wishlist.
RECORD STORE TALES Part 318: Oh What A Feeling
In 1996, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Juno Awards, a box set titled Oh What A Feeling was released. It was four CDs loaded to the gills with Canadian music, from all corners of the country and all styles of music. It was a great set and one which sold regularly in our stores. The original run of the set sold out briskly. We had a hard time keeping it in stock new, and a few years later, used copies were somewhat scarce. We sold it at a very reasonable price of $19.99, used.
We had one customer, who I never gave a name to except for “Eastern European Guy”. He had an accent and broken English so that worked for me. He pulled Oh What A Feeling off the shelves and asked to listen to it on one of our six crappy listening stations. I popped in all four CDs, handed him the headphones and remote, and left him to listen.
One thing that always pissed me off was people who constantly need help on the listening stations. It’s not hard. Volume controls were right there in front of you. The remote was like any remote that people would have had at home. People who couldn’t figure out how to skip tracks pissed me off. How do you listen to music at home? I didn’t get it.
Eastern European Man motioned with his hand for me to come over. “This song…there is a problem with it. Listen please.”
“Hey, I have an idea. Let’s stick the lead guitar player behind the bassist for this video.”
I placed the headphones on my head. It was track 1, disc one. “American Woman” by The Guess Who. I listened for a few seconds, nodded my head in approving time with the song, and removed the ‘phones.
“Sounds good. What problem are you having?” I asked as politely as I could manage.
“This song…there is strange sound. Listen again.”
I placed the headphones back on. Dah da da da da, dah da. American Woman, stay away from me-hee. Sounded fine. I heard no strange sounds. I told him I heard nothing unusual.
“There is a sound…ticking sound. Tick tick tick. Listen please.”
I put the phones on for the third time. Finally I got it. I heard the ticking. It was the cymbal.
“Oh, OK, I get it. Yeah, that’s not a defect. That’s the drummer playing cymbals.” I made a drumming motion to get my point across.
“No, no. There is ticking sound. Tick tick tick. This not right.”
I explained again, “I hear the ticking sound you’re talking about. It’s part of the song. It’s the drummer playing cymbals, it’s a percussion instrument, like this.” I made the drumming motions again.
“I not like. Can you order me other copy?”
Man, I freaking hated ordering shit in when I didn’t have to. There was nothing wrong with Oh What A Feeling. If I ordered in a copy, it would be coming from another store in our chain. We carried this item as a used item, but they were all going to be the same. When we brought in this item from another store, we wouldn’t make any money on it. The store that sent it to us gets the sale. So, even if he buys it which was not guaranteed since the next copy would have the same tick tick tick, I would be losing the sale.
He insisted. I ordered in the box set, we called him, and inexplicably, he bought the new one even though they were identical. He never even returned it, which I completely expected.
Later on, the same man came in and picked out Bruce Dickinson’s album Balls To Picasso to listen to. Once again, I brought him over to the listening stations, and left him to listen. Once again, he signaled me over with a hand gesture. I made my way to home wondering what the hell could be wrong this time.
“Did you put in correct CD? I know this singer. This is…not him.”
I put on the headphones and turned it up. It was Bruce singing “Cyclops”, track one.
“This is the right CD. This is Bruce Dickinson,” I told him.
Puzzled, the man said, “He changed his style!” Well, win some lose some man. I left him to listen once again. I got back to my work, I had lots of customers to deal with that day. About 10 minutes later, he motioned me over once again.
“The player…it not working.” This happened quite frequently. Our stuff was used and abused by the lowest scum and passersby who needed to kill 10 minutes while they waited for the bus. Tire kickers. They like to try things, but not to buy things. Eastern European Man was not one of these, he did buy things. However our stuff took a lot of abuse from others and was always on the verge of failure.
Attempting to joke around with him, I put on a happy voice and said, “Oh, did you break it man?”
Not understanding the humour, he answered, “Ehhh…perhaps.”
He bought the disc. After a while, I never saw him again. It’s funny. You dread people like this coming into your store, and you having to wait on them hand on foot when they want to listen to something. You hate them constantly signaling you over when you’re busy with other customers. But, then you miss them. You miss that eastern European accent because hey, he might have been annoying but at least he wasn’t a dick, and he did buy things. He might have treated you like a servant to him, but technically that’s what you were. You might have been a manager but to these guy you’re serving them, and they’re the customer, and that’s it, and I don’t begrudge it anymore.
But what happened to him? Did he return to Eastern Europe? Did he go online and start listening and downloading there? Who knows. After all, I never caught his name. He was just Eastern European Man.
I like to listen to the radio at work. On today’s Craig Fee Show on 107.5 Dave FM, a caller named Roy phoned in to complain. His reason was that Craig used the word “bitches” on the air. (The context was, “If you don’t turn down your radio when you call into the show, I will hang up on you bitches.”)
I’ve heard Craig use the word periodically in the past. For example, to him the Boston Bruins are the “Boston Bitches”. (He’s a Canucks fan.)
Roy said that he had already called Corus head office in Toronto, and that he was going to call the CRTC next if Craig did not apologize sincerely for using the word “bitches,” by the end of his show. That was the deadline Roy set. He was quite upset, and quite emphatic about the demand for an apology. His reason was that he had his grandchildren in the car, and they repeated the word. Roy reminded me of some of my old customers at the Record Store, who would call and complain because they didn’t like your face. I hate to go for such an obvious pun, but it’s rather bitchy, isn’t it? (I wonder if Roy lets his grandchildren listen to Nickelback – “you look so much cuter with something in your mouth”.)
I don’t know why Roy was listening to Dave FM with his grandchildren in the car, during the 3 o’clock Tedious Tiresome Trivia in the Tri-Cities, since most of the questions are sexual in nature. But rather than question his grandparenting, Craig simply responded by playing the Rolling Stones’ “Bitch”, followed by Sir Elton John’s “The Bitch is Back”. The list could have gone on, just do a Google search for songs with that word in the title! (And that’s not even including rap music.)
Do you think Roy had a point, or should he have simply chosen more appropriate programming for his grandchildren? What’s your favourite “Bitch” song? (I have two others: “Love’s a Bitch” by Quiet Riot, and “Burn Bitch Burn” by Kiss.) Comment and let me know!