RECORD STORE TALES & REVIEWS: Complete Table of Contents

February 1, 2012 9 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
#351-400


DIRECTORY OF REVIEWS 

Music, Movies, and more

WTF?

 

Categories: Table of Contents

REVIEW: Trapeze – You Are the Music…We’re Just the Band (1972)

April 19, 2015 3 comments

TRAPEZE_0001TRAPEZE – You Are the Music…We’re Just the Band (1972 Threshold)

Trapeze in ’72 was:

  • Glenn Hughes (future Deep Purple) – bass & vocals
  • Mel Galley (future Whitesnake) – guitar
  • Dave Holland (future Judas Priest) – drums

Due to the fame that this trio found fame separately elsewhere, Trapeze will be on interest to fans of classic British 70’s rock. Trapeze are a funky soul rock band — picture some of the funkier moments that Deep Purple were into when Tommy Bolin was in the band, and you are in the general ballpark.  The very first track “Keepin’ Time” easily could have been on Purple’s Come Taste the Band.  Not only is a high quality funk-rock song, but Mel Galley has some serious chops going on!


Personal highlights on this CD for me are the ferocious funk of “Way Back To The Bone”, the soul of “What Is a Woman’s Role”, and the solid rock of “Feelin’ So Much Better Now”. I also need to single out the track “Loser” as a great little lost funk rock gem. One thing is clear to anyone upon first listen: These guys could PLAY. Particularly with Holland and Galley, what they did later really was only the tip of the iceberg that is Trapeze. Hughes is in fabulous voice, at the very peak of his vocal powers, and this is essential listening for fans of the man that the Japanese call “The God of Voice”.

3.5/5 stars. A pleasantly perfect example of great 70’s soul/funk/rock!

REVIEW: I Mother Earth – Blue Green Orange (1999)

April 18, 2015 5 comments

This one goes out to Patrick Dynamite!

I MOTHER EARTH – Blue Green Orange (1999 Mercury)

When Edwin left I Mother Earth for a solo career, many fans (myself included) were disappointed with his wishy-washy not-rock of his solo debut, Another Spin Around the Sun.  Sure the song “Alive” was incredible and epic, but the rest of the album was so middle-of-the-road and lukewarm.  It was with great relief that I Mother Earth only went from strength to strength by hiring on unknown singer Brian Byrne to replace him.

I Mother Earth didn’t scale the top of the charts with Blue Green Orange, but what an album it is!  Byrne has enough of the rasp and power that Edwin possesses, so he is a natural fit and the sound is pure IME.  The opener “Love Your Starfish” immediately proclaims that the band are back!  Back to playing longer, more complex song structures with interesting drum patterns, bellowing vocals, and riffs.

But it’s not all just hammering away.  “All Awake” brings back the spacey, quiet side of I Mother Earth.  The psychedelic textures and exotic percussion are reminiscent of a song like “So Gently We Go” from the first album.  Drummer Christian Tanna is joined by longtime I Mother Earth percussionist Daniel Mansilla, and Armando Borg on additional percussion.  Jagori Tanna remains one of the most underrated and interesting guitarists to come from the Great White North, and his work here is exemplary.  His willingness to explore reminds me of other progressive players such as Steve Rothery.

“Gargantua” is one of the shortest songs at 4:34.  Most of them are in the five to six minute range.  Appropriately “Gargantua” is the most radio-friendly.  Its pop melodies and straightforward beats make it the most immediate, all it lacks is a great chorus.  For that, go for the ballad “When Did You Get Back From Mars?”  I don’t know if we can call it a “ballad” but it’s a quieter acoustic tune with a plaintive chorus.


Video edit version of “Summertime in the Void”

You wouldn’t usually pick out a track that is seven minutes long for a first single, but that’s “Summertime in the Void”, one of the best tunes on the album.  It’s also one of the most rocking, though like all I Mother Earth tunes it’s full of twists and turns including loads of percussion.  I’m a big fan of Bruce Gordon’s intricate bass.  Even so, I do have a favourite bass player in the world, and that’s Geddy Lee.  And guess who turns up on the song “Good for Sule”?  Geddy frickin’ Lee!  (Alex Lifeson played on the previous IME album, Scenery & Fish.)  “Good for Sule” may well be the best tune on the album.  Gentle piano helps make it the most laid back track on the disc.

I’ll stop here — I don’t want to review Blue Green Orange song by song, because it’s all variations of “wicked guitars”, “awesome percussion”, and “challenging twists and turns”.  Blue Green Orange is not an instant pleasure, but one that reveals layers the more you listen.  As such it’s my second favourite I Mother Earth album, after Dig. Reception was mixed at the time however.  Some fans did not embrace the new album, others preferred the old singer.  Fellow reviewer Deke from Arena Rock – Thunder Bay and Beyond said, “I did at one point have it, but after one listen I gave it to my bro, and never seen nor heard from it again!”

The packaging for this CD is cool.  You could choose between blue, green or orange covers.  The inside booklet is layered with pages of different sizes and lyrics for all the songs.  Packaging like this on a standard edition CD is something we collectors appreciate.

4/5 stars

#387: Standing Alone

April 17, 2015 13 comments

LeBrain, “Standing Alone” in front of Planet Helix, London Ontario

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#387: Standing Alone

When I first started at the Record Store, we worked alone. Everybody worked alone. The owner worked all the days alone, and then T-Rev and I alternated nights and weekends alone. I actually enjoyed working by myself. Nights were slow enough that one person could handle it, plus still get all the stocking and cleaning done. It wasn’t until later on that we brought in a second person on Saturdays. Until then, you could still close the store for 5 minutes to go to the washroom.  You could eat your lunch in the store because you didn’t have much choice.

The way to make an 8 hour Saturday shift go faster is to play music you love! Back then we were allowed to bring in the odd CD or tape from home to play in store. My sister made me a cool store play mix tape, with a lot of top hits by artists like Sting, Barenaked Ladies, and Bryan Adams. I had the idea that we could even make tapes monthly, in the store, to showcase hits without having to constantly swap discs in and out. We only had a single disc player. We never did do the monthly tapes but it was a neat idea.

On your typical Saturday I would leave the house around 9:00 or 9:15 am and walk to the store with a bag full of snacks, drinks and music. There were usually lots of “new” used arrivals to price and display. There were sometimes customers to call and let know that their special orders had arrived. There was always something to clean, a project to do, and filing to take care of.  When you were tired there were Spin and Rolling Stone magazines to flip through.

I would get busy and overwhelmed after lunch hour, but that would pass and I could take a moment to breathe again. The busy times weren’t the problem though, it was the 8-9 hours of standing. I told T-Rev before he worked his first Saturday alone that it was hard on the legs. He discovered what I meant! We didn’t have a chair. Well, that’s not entirely true. We had one, we were just not allowed to use it. It was used as a step-stool only. The first time you stand for a whole Saturday is hard but then you get used to it.

Feet get swollen and legs get tired. My method for dealing with it was ample stretching, and changing my shoes halfway through the shift. I don’t know why, but putting on a fresh pair of shoes helped with the discomfort. It provided a fresh bolt of energy. Much, much, much later on, when I was nearing the miserable end of my dark final days at the record store, I artificially maintained energy levels with caffeine drinks and sugary snacks. I was no longer working alone, but the fun was also gone.

Today I sit in a chair and get fat all day. It’s a trade-off for sure!

REVIEW: George Lynch – Sacred Groove (1993)

April 16, 2015 34 comments

It’s a shame I lost my original 1993 review of this album.

LYNCH_0001GEORGE LYNCH – Sacred Groove (1993 Elektra)

If you like Dokken but never followed George onto the Lynch Mob, then this album is for you.

George Lynch is a very talented shredder, capable of playing a wide variety of styles.  Sometimes he hits, sometimes he misses, but on Sacred Groove he makes the mark every time.  Sacred Groove was designed as a solo project shortly after the second Lynch Mob album.  The idea was to work and write with different singers and musicians, and George loaded up on some great singers.  Glenn Hughes, anyone?

John Cuniberti, who co-helmed many Joe Satriani albums, produced this opus and lent it some serious sonic excellence.  The opener “Memory Jack” is a collaboration between producer and guitarist, but this is little more than a sound collage to kick off a killer instrumental called “Love Power From the Mama Head”.  This isn’t to say that “Memory Jack” does not contain some shredding licks, because it does…but they are not the focus.  The sound collage itself is the focus.  Into “Love Power”, George lays down some serious riffy rhythm guitars.  This is topped with a very Satriani-esque guitar melody.  “Love Power” is constructed very much like a Satch rock instrumental track, with memorable guitar melodies and song structures.

There is a very cool moment in the guitar solo in “Love Power From the Mama Head”, at exactly 4:47.  While George was essentially assaulting his guitar with the whammy bar, he accidentally dropped the instrument on the studio floor.  “Shit!” said George, while producer Cuniberti ran over and stopped George from picking it up.  The producer then kicked the guitar for added effect!  Cuniberti assured George it would sound cool, and it kind of does!  The guitar just stops on this weird chord-like sound, before they punch out of that and into more shredding.  It’s different and spontaneous and I love shit like that.

“Flesh and Blood”, contender for best track on the album, is the first vocal, featuring Badlands’ Ray Gillen (R.I.P.).  It’s a Dokken stomper for sure, but with Ray Gillen’s bluesy Coverdale-isms all over it.  Killer.  The lyrics were co-written by George’s ex-Dokken bandmate Jeff Pilson, who also co-wrote and plays bass on the next track, “We Don’t Own This World”.

Now here’s the interesting thing about “We Don’t Own This World”.  Lyrics by: Don Dokken?  The fuck?

George, Don and Jeff had planned to reunite on this one song, that Don supplied the lyrics for.  Don however cancelled or chickened out (either/or) and didn’t make it to the session.  It just so happened that the Nelson twins, Matthew and Gunnar, were in town and eagerly sang on the track in Don’s absence.  With their harmonies, “We Don’t Own This World” sounds nothing like Dokken, except in basic ways.  It’s the most commercial track on the album; a pop rocker.  The vocals soar over one killer melody, and the solo is one of George’s best.  If this song had come out only two years sooner, it would have been a hit single.  The Nelsons have done some cool music over the years, and not gotten a lot of credit for it, so this song is pure delight.

I still think of CDs as “albums” with distinct sides, and on the cassette version “I Will Remember” closed Side One.  This instrumental ballad has a vaguely dark tropical feel, although it is an electric guitar song.  George’s solos are sublime and I love his unexpected timing on certain notes.  He has flawless chops mixed with feel…a rare combination.

LYNCH_0002

Side Two’s opener is an epic in two parts, but it’s as close to a skip as this album gets.  The problem is vocalist Mandy Lion, of WWIII.  You either like his glass-garling-elfin-metal voice or you do not.  I do not.  However, “The Beast” Parts I and II are such a slamming groove that I tend to block out the words and the voice singing them.  This is another track where the original vocalist slated could not do it.  Udo Dirkschneider wanted too much money and Rob Halford was too busy, but Mandy Lion would do it.  He showed up at the studio in the heat of summer wearing head to toe black leather.

“The Beast” could be a dirty sex anthem, I guess, but it’s far too heavy for the 50 Shades crowd.  I dig when halfway through, George breaks out his newly-bought sitar.  (I remember seeing pictures of George in Metal Edge magazine buying it!)  If only Mandy would have chosen to shut up at this moment.  Bassist Chris Solberg comes in and grooves through to a false ending, and then it’s “Part II (Addiction to the Friction)” — a 10 minute track in total.  Thankfully a huge chunk of it is instrumental.

The regal Glenn Hughes raises the bar any time he opens his mouth.  His two songs were the first new Hughes singing I had heard since Black Sabbath.  I detect some fragility in his voice here.  I think this may be from a period where Glenn was recovering from addictions.  Regardless, he sounds a lot better today, whatever the reasons are.  That’s not to say he’s bad here, because he’s still the best singer on the album.  You just feel he’s not giving it everything like he does today.

“Not Necessary Evil” is Glenn’s first song, a Dokken groove with Hughes’ soulful signature style.  This one too had hit single potential, but only in an alternate timeline in which Rock never fell to the Grunge Hordes in 1991.  “Cry of the Brave” is his second track, a slower and more soulful rock track.  This is a song about injustice to the American Indian (reading the lyrics, I’m assuming specifically Leonard Peltier), and it’s worth noting that Glenn wrote the lyrics by himself.

The album closes with a final instrumental called “Tierra Del Fuego”, and if you couldn’t guess, that means George breaks out the flamenco guitar.  There’s also a guest electric guitar soloist named Daryl Gable.  If I remember the story correctly, Daryl Gable was a lucky fan who was selected to have a guest shot on the album.  How cool is that?  And he’s pretty good, too!  I have to admit I like these dusky tropical flamenco things, so I consider “Tierra Del Fuego” to be a very successful album closer.  But fear not, there’s plenty of electric guitar too!

Sacred Groove is pretty damn near flawless.  If only they could have got Udo instead of Mandy, eh?

4.5/5 stars

DVD REVIEW: Helix – S.E.X. Rated (2000)

April 15, 2015 14 comments

SEX RATED

HELIX – S.E.X. Rated (2000 EMI DVD – NTSC and PAL)

Every good Canadian that was alive and rocking in the mid-80’s remembers the music video: The dudes are breaking rocks in the quarry, in chains. Then the singer stands up and yells, “Gimme an R! O! C! K! Whatcha got? Rock! And whatcha gonna do? Rock you!” And then, freedom!  It’s just one of those great 80’s rock music videos, and it’s only one of many on this DVD. Here, you get ’em all from the Capitol years.

The videos are not in chronological order, which would be my preferred arrangement.  The DVD commences with the award winning “Running Wild in the 21st Century” featuring Snake the Tattooed Man from London Ontario.  The older classics range from edgy to campy, but are always cool in their own way.  My preference is towards the live on stage type of video, like the exciting “Wild in the Streets”.  On the other hand, “The Kids are all Shakin'” is undeniably fun, with Brian Vollmer playing multiple characters from an old man to a radio DJ.  You can’t help but chuckle in your beer.

There are also a handful of rarities here, including the “topless” version of “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'” that you definitely won’t see on MuchMusic. “Don’t Get Mad Get Even” was only played on Much, like, twice. So it’s pretty rare too. What’s missing is the alternate version of “Wild In The Street” that I have somewhere on a VHS tape, and any sort of special extras like interviews. Also, I have to say that I wish the video for “That Day Is Gonna Come” was on here. It is my all time favourite Helix video but it wasn’t on Capitol. It was on Aquarius.

[I have a buddy, Rob, who used to work for Rogers TV.  He told me that he had seen and knew where the tape was for the original “Heavy Metal Love” video.  They did an early version of it in T-shirts and jeans, before they changed their image to black leather.  Rob offered to copy it for me but I didn’t believe him so I said no!]

Great little DVD.  Extra interviews would have been awesome. However a lot of that stuff is available on other Helix DVDs. (Check ’em out.)  S.E.X. Rated has one last bonus going for it — it is encoded for NTSC on one side, and PAL on the other.  No matter where you are, you can buy it and enjoy the classic videos of 80’s Helix.

4/5 stars

How fucking cool does Brent Doerner look in every single video?

#386: ‘The Mighty Priest’ – A Mix CD

April 14, 2015 28 comments

BRITISH STEEL_0005

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#386: ‘The Mighty Priest’ – A Mix CD

In January of 2009, I determined to make another mix CD for my best friend Peter.   He really enjoyed them and wanted some more tunes from the LeBrain Library.  The theme this time was Judas Priest.  We had both been playing the video game Rock Band a lot, and I enjoyed singing lead on the song “Painkiller”, so we played that one frequently.  Peter decided that he wanted to check out some Priest, so I worked very hard to make a CD suited to his own personal needs.  I set out five constraints to my Mighty Priest mix:

1. Peter only knew three Priest songs: “Painkiller”, “Breaking The Law”, and “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin'”.

2. Peter generally hates slow songs. Therefore, unfortunately, I could not include classics like “Dreamer Deceiver”.

3. I always try to include a variety of tracks from as many albums as I can.

4. Must be limited to a single CD.

5. One rare track – my trademark is always sneaking in a rarity.

So I whittled down the 50 songs I started with to the nice and cozy 79 minutes you see below. Keeping in mind my self-imposed constraints, what would you have done differently?

PRIEST METAL

I sought feedback, and I received feedback.  My ever faithful rock compatriots had these words:

Uncle Meat: Well…Michael…valiant effort. It is a good mix of new and old Priest. But…no “Electric Eye”? What is wrong with you? I cant even believe you would make this list without including it. That “Turbo Lover” is on here…and not “Electric Eye”…kinda makes me feel dirty…unloved. And?!?!?! No “Freewheel Burning”? . I’m getting mighty confused Mr. Ladano. No “Sinner”? “Heading out to the Highway”? I know their catalogue is extensive…but the omission of “Electric Eye” especially is very disturbing….

Dr. Dave: “Rock Hard Ride Free”!!!

Sarge: No “Metal Gods”?  Actually I only ever owned British Steel, so I cant comment on anything.  “Metal Gods” was always my favourite on that album.

Andy: I’m going to have to register an alternate opinion entirely, and that is, with any band that’s been around as long as Priest has, and has done as many albums as they have, simply cannot be captured in a “best of” that is only one CD. You just can’t do it – there’s too much good stuff, even disqualifying the “slow” songs like you did. I tried it with Manowar, and ended up with a full CD after their first four albums. I’ll be doing my personal The Best of Manowar, Volume II sometime soon….

So what I would have done differently is this: Go in chronological order, and put in all of the absolute “must have” songs from each album (remembering the rules for your friend, of course). Don’t overlap songs from one album on more than one CD, so you might have to juggle the playlist a little. Then, when CD #1 is full, move on to Volume 2.  Eventually, hand over your two (or in the case of Priest, maybe 3!) CDs to your friend, apologizing that you simply couldn’t fit it all onto 1.

Johnny Sixx: What I would have done is include their track “Love Bites”…it’s a gem.

All of them made excellent points, and I think it must be concluded that a truly great single disc Judas Priest collection cannot be made.  As Uncle Meat said, I think I made a valiant effort, but 80 minutes is simply not enough time for the Mighty Priest.  The next time I attempted to do something like this, I went with Andy’s advice in the back of my head…

…And ended up with a 5 CD set!  But that’s another story.

 

REVIEW: Van Halen – OU812 (1988)

April 13, 2015 31 comments

Review by special request of reader Wardy!

OU812_0001VAN HALEN – OU812 (1988 Warner)

Those who were displeased with 1986’s 5150 album were optimistic about the next Van Halen.  “I heard it’s supposed to be heavier like old Van Halen,” were the whispers in the highschool halls.  “More like the stuff with David Lee Roth.”  Even though Van Hagar plotted their own course with tremendous success, there were and always will be factions that prefer Diamond Dave.  It is all but impossible to review a Van Hagar CD without asking, “is it as good as the classic records?”

I like OU812, a lot. It’s probably my favourite Van Hagar album and I’ve liked it since it came out. It is a little harder than 5150, and it does sport old school Van Halen shuffles like some from the days of old.  I would often argue that where Sammy Hagar fumbled in Van Halen is in the lyrical department.  But few of his lyrics on OU812 outright suck, and some are pretty cool.  Eddie’s guitar tone was beefier than it was on 5150.  Most importantly, the band were all fired up and still writing great rock songs and ballads.

Keyboards remained on the new album, as heard on opener “Mine All Mine”.  The context now was a harder rock song, and they work effectively.  Hagar turns in a surprisingly penetrative lyric regarding religion and self reliance.  “You got Allah in the East, Jesus in the West — Christ, what’s a man to do?” sings Sammy, never one to mince his words.  The breakneck track serves as an excellent starter for the new Van Halen.

“When It’s Love” kills the momentum momentarily.  It was a huge hit and also happened to be Van Halen’s first actual “music video” since David Lee Roth quit the band years before.  As far as ballads go, it’s edgier than “Love Walks In” or “Dreams”, although I don’t think it’s as good as either of those.  Thankfully the boys chase this with the weird-titled “A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)”.  This blazingly fast Van Halen shuffle isn’t too dissimilar from the style of song the band used to do with Dave.  Eddie, of course, knocks everybody down with his impossible licks.  Meanwhile, drummer Alex Van Halen gleefully enjoys the odd beats and searing tempo.

One of the best Van Hagar songs of all time closed side one, and it’s the song that loaned its name to an award-winning tequila:  “Cabo Wabo”.  A laid back summer classic, I challenge even the most cynical fan to not tap their toes during “Cabo Wabo”.  Hell, feel free to air-drum along.  Eddie lays down some juicy chords in that trademark brown sound.

“Source of Infection”, side two’s opening song, is barely a song at all.  I have always been convinced that Sammy ran out of time and didn’t have any lyrics written for this song so he just went in and sang stuff.  We know that Van Halen were indeed rushed in the studio.  I think “Source of Infection” is evidence of that, as there are barely any words to it.

Hey!OU812_0002
Alright!
Woo!
How ’bout ‘cha now, come on!
Oh yeah!
Dig it! That’s right
Is everybody ready? Let’s go!

(Movin’ up and down) Up ‘n down
(Round and round) Oh, round and round
(Movin’ up and down) In ‘n out
(Round and round) Yeow!

Crank it! Blow out!
Uh! Ouch!
Help me
Now flip on over
Oh baby, you know that I like it
(Woop! Woop! Woop!)

I think I’ve made my point.

It’s actually a smoking track, one of the heaviest Van Hagar blazers ever recorded, but to call it a “song” would be too generous and misleading.

I’ve been on record here for trashing Van Hagar ballads in the past, but I really like “Feels So Good”!  It’s the bright upbeat one.  Eddie’s keyboard sound on it is unique.  You have to give Eddie credit as a keyboardist, because that is so overshadowed by his guitar playing.  Eddie has always manufactured cool keyboard hooks, and accompanied them with an identifiably unique keyboard tone.  “Feels So Good” continues that tradition.  Top that with an Eddie solo complete with two-handed tapping and tricks, and you have a flawless Van Hagar pop rock track.

The country-flavoured “Finish What Ya Started” is one of the best top 40 hits about blue balls that I can think of.  I suffered from a high level of burnout from this track in ’88-’89, due to its saturation on radio and MuchMusic, but you can certainly hear why radio went for it.  The blue balls theme probably went right over their heads, and it’s accessible with plenty of incredible guitar hooks.  You just don’t hear Eddie playing like this often.  I also have to praise Alex’s snare drum sound here, so full and authentic.

“Black and Blue” was actually the first single, although no video was made for it.  It’s a slower Van Halen blues groove, but I don’t think it holds up particularly well after repeated listens.  (I caught hell for playing this album at work once, because Sammy sings “Bitch sure got the rhythm,” on this song.)  And unfortunately I don’t think “Sucker in a 3 Piece” is particularly awesome either.  It’s probably the weakest track on the album, although I remember one kid at school thought it was the best one, so there you go!  “Only Eddie Van Halen could come up with ‘Sucker in a 3 Piece’,” he praised.  I don’t see what his fuss was all about.

There was a CD bonus track on this, a rare novelty back in 1988.  I already had “A Apolitical Blues” on the flipside of the “Black and Blue” single.  For the first time since Diver Down, a cover (Little Feat) on a Van Halen album! Granted, only on the CD version, but still.  On MuchMusic, Eddie explained how this song was recorded about as low-tech as you can get:  four guys, two microphones, one room.  It sounded great on that scratchy old 45, but it’s not as memorable as a Van Halen cover can be.

Interesting and sometimes annoying factoids about the albums:

1. No producer is listed anywhere in the credits.  There is only “Recorded by Donn Landee”.

2. The tracks are irritatingly and purposely listed in the wrong order on the back cover, and in the lyric book.  They are alphabetical.  Who does that anymore?

4/5 stars

Final note:  A rare 3″ CD single with a remix of “Finish What Ya Started” and the album version of “Sucker in a 3 Piece” found its way into our store.  It came in with no packaging, so I bought it and stuck it in with my CD of OU812 as “disc 2″ in a 2 CD case.  The remix version is notable for not being audibly different from the album version in any detectable way!

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