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: Yngwie J. Malmsteen – Trilogy (1986)

March 2, 2015 25 comments

YNGWIE_0001YNGWIE J. MALMSTEEN – Trilogy (1986 Polygram)

Trilogy: not only my first Yngwie Malmsteen album (cassette), but also the first Yngwie Malmsteen review here at mikeladano.com.

Trilogy was, appropriately, Yngwie’s third album.  It was also his first with new singer Mark Boals after the departure of the uber-talented Jeff Scott Soto.  I received this album (cassette) for Christmas of ’86 and it was all but instant dislike.  I knew a couple Yngwie songs, but none of the new ones, and I didn’t care for the new singer.  I saw this listed in an A&A Records and Tapes flier so I asked for it for Christmas.  All I really knew was that Yngwie was heavy metal and that he was a blazing fast player.  That did not prepare me for the distinctly European flavour and neo-classical leanings of Trilogy.

As it was, Polygram used to put out the shittiest quality cassettes.  My copy of Trilogy was unlistenable in a matter of months, so until I got it again a decade later on CD, I didn’t have a chance to let it grow on me.  In 1996 a used CD came into the store, and I was mocked for buying it by staff member the Boy Who Killed Pink Floyd.  Here’s a weird thing about our old store receipts.  They would imprint, permanently, whatever was on them onto the jewel case of a CD.  My jewel case for Trilogy still has a faint accidental imprint of the receipt, so I know that I bought it October 11 1996, at precisely 4:29 pm!  Apparently I paid by debit card.

Trilogy has grown on me over the years and now it’s a favourite Yngwie album.  I still get what I didn’t like about it as a kid.  The drums don’t sound very good (the album is self produced) and Mark Boals can be a bit over the top at times.  There’s no denying the guy has range and power, but it was all flat-out back then.  And of course Yngwie’s songs aren’t always the catchiest.  You need to give them time, and I have.

The one song that I did like as a kid was the mid-tempo opener “You Don’t Remember, I’ll Never Forget”.  I’ve always thought the melody and hooks were strong, and I still think it’s the strongest track on the album.  “Liar” is also excellent, from the fast part of the spectrum.  It sounds at times like Yngwie really wanted to be Ritchie Blackmore, but that’s OK.  There are very few that can come even close to Ritchie Blackmore.  “Queen in Love” is another mid-tempo track, similar to “You Don’t Remember” and almost as strong.  As a kid, I found this one too slow.  As an adult, I’m playing air bass along to it.  (Yngwie played all bass on the album.)

YNGWIE_0002One of things that I was most excited about hearing on an Yngwie album were instrumentals.  “Crying” is the first, which features both classical and electric guitars.  I’m noticing Yngwie has a nice vibrato when playing classical.  This fine instrumental track is only hampered by the production values.  Too much bass and poor drum and cymbal sounds distract the attention.  The album side is redeemed by “Fury” which is another blazingly fast Yngwie electric medieval dance, and good enough for me.

“Fire” commences with some incendiary guitar, but the song itself is a plain old hard rocker with Jens Johansson providing keyboard hooks for the verses.  Then from some sorcerer’s bag of tricks is “Magic Mirror”, but it is indeed just smoke and mirrors.  Killer chorus aside, the song doesn’t catch, except when Yngwie is unleashing his own electric magic.  “Dark Ages” sets the scene; some dark cloudly and cold landscape about a thousand years ago.  This is a slow Dio-esque prowl, with Boals screaming his balls off.  It’s a bit much with the screaming, but the song does not suck.

I was expecting more instrumentals than this, but Yngwie saved a seven minute epic instrumental for last.  “Trilogy Suite Op:5″ is as bombastic as you’d guess it is.  Running the gamut in tempos and tones, Yngwie composed a track here that is highly enjoyable.  Jens and Yngwie get to duel with each other, but it’s definitely a guitar showcase.  Electric and classical, Malmsteen pulls out all the stops on his opus.  I mean, hey: it’s Yngwie J. fucking Malmsteen!

I am glad to say that I enjoy Trilogy a lot more today than I did in 1986.  Bonus points are added for the cover art.  Dio, after all, only had a single-headed dragon!

3.5/5 stars
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WTF Comments: Everyone’s a Critic edition

March 1, 2015 36 comments

MUPPET-CRITICS

WTF Comments II: Everyone’s a Critic edition

Jeez, everyone’s a critic these days! Even critics have critics! Welcome to another installment of WTF Comments. This time I collected comments from readers who had a bone (or two, or three) to pick with my reviews!  I realize that sometimes my reviews can be a bit acerbic, but I calls ‘em like I sees ‘em.  Sometimes I can be a bit harsh, but it’s all in fun.  It serves me right to have some critics of my own take some shots at me! First up, Bryan did not like my 3.5/5 (70%) review for the Rival Sons. Bryan’s comment was lengthy so I took the liberty of highlighting the parts I like best!

your gimmicky comment is idiotic. They record with real vintage gear because they are trying to create that vibe not for one song, but that’s who they are and frankly I’m glad. So much of what is out now is 150 tracks of productions and tricks that cater to the ADD society who needs a new sound effect coming at them every 10 seconds to keep their attention. Just enjoy the fact that these are guys are setting up a few mics into some of the best gear studios can pull out of the closet and they deliver great songs that they can actually reproduce live with backing tracks…hey, there’s a concept. If you can appreciate that you shouldn’t be reviewing music…you know..music???

also, STOP comparing them to Led Zeppelin just because the drums are open mic’d and there’s space. Go back and read the reviews when Zep was playing…the critics killed them…but somehow now their the greatest thing ever. Have you ever hear them live? I love Zep but Jay Buchanan can hit EVERY note on the album live, Plant couldn’t do that a lot of the time. But I don’t even compare the two, just enjoy the band without having to pigeon hole them. Basically your saying here’s this band, but we don’t really validate them because I heard something similar before. The album has potential…Geez.. the album kicks ass so just get past yourself and get on board. How about this for a review…”Hey everyone, in this day and age of laptops and samples, finally a band just plugs in and records to tape and here it is…enjoy some great rock with soul and vibe and enjoy these guys laying it out there while not pitch correcting and time aligning everything. AND, when you see them live they’ll sound like what you heard on your iPod, how refreshing. Rival Sons should be applauded and you should buy the CD”.

:-)

Thanks, Bryan!  I always thought being compared to the mighty Zeppelin was quite a compliment, myself. Then there’s Dave.  Dave also does not think much of my writing skills, in regards to Triumph’s 1986 turd The Sport of Kings:

This article is pretty lame. Please do some research before you post stuff like this. Triumph had issue with the producer Ron Nevison. He wanted them to have a hit single and he was trying to craft the songs to be radio friendly. The band had been pretty much cranking out an album a year for the whole decade and touring in between and the record company was demanding more. The band was spent! Some of the songs aren’t as strong as previous outings, but it sounds like you were never much of a fan in the first place. Never be embarrassed about the music you like…whether it’s Triumph, Kenny G or Michael Jackson. I like what I like and i don’t care what anyone else thinks!

Somebody needs to tell Dave that you don’t have to be “much of a fan” to write a music review!

Then lastly, there’s scm.  He or she isn’t a person of many words, but smc didn’t think too much of my Man of Steel movie review.

You continue writing articles about what great screen writers & film makers bring son. Man of Steel 4.5/5.

For the record: I am not scm’s son!  Hope you enjoyed these comments.

 

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Slaves and Masters (1990)

February 28, 2015 10 comments

Get some Epic Review Time right here for your weekend!

DEEP PURPLE – Slaves and Masters (1990 BMG)

The much ballyhooed Deep Purple MkII reunion came to a crashing halt when Ian Gillan was fired in 1988. Just as the band released their first double live in aeons (Nobody’s Perfect) and a new single (a remake of “Hush”) to celebrate their 20th birthday, Gillan was out again. Except this time he was fired. And this time, Roger Glover did not go with him.  Even his friend Glover said to him, “Ian you have gone too far this time.”  His drunkeness and anger towards Ritchie Blackmore had gotten the better of him.

Blackmore briefly considered reforming Rainbow, or launching a new Blackmore-Turner Blues Band.  He was however reluctant to break up Purple, liking the current chemistry he had with the other musicians.  After inviting a singer named Bill Mattson from up-and-comers Tangier to try out for Deep Purple, the band reluctantly gave former Rainbow singer Joe Lynn Turner a shot.  They eventually invited him to join.  According to Turner, “I had to sit down with the boys in Purple and say, ‘Are we going to be true to Purple? Are we going to have the hard rockin’ blues image come out?  I really don’t want to scream.”  Turner would get his wish.  According to him:

“The guys told me, ‘We’ve never really had a singer.’  I go, ‘Well you had Ian Gillan.’  They go, ‘He’s not a singer’s singer. He’s a stylist.’  I go, ‘Ahh, I see what you mean, a stylist as opposed to a singer — it’s two different things.’  They wanted someone who can really sing and write songs, like what we did on this record, as opposed to The House of Blue Light record, which was no songs and really yielded nothing they could bring to the stage.”

Call it what you like:  Deep Rain Snake, Deep Rainbow, or just Deep Purple Mk V. Blackmore, Lord, Paice, and Joe Lynn Turner added a new album to the Purple canon called Slaves and Masters, with Roger Glover once again producing.  With most of the music already written by Blackmore, it fell to Turner and Glover to take those riffs and turn them into songs.  But what would it sound like?  Would it sound like Deep Purple, or Rainbow?

Slaves and Masters is a regal disc, different from everything else in the Purple catalogue, but beautiful in a subtle, understatedly powerful way. The first track and single, “King of Dreams” for example gives you an idea of the what the rest of the album sounds like. It is a rock song, based on the bass guitar groove, but mellow. It’s in the pocket. The power in the song comes from the groove and the soulful and smooth vocal by Turner. The lyrics are a subtle rebuttal to Ian Gillan’s scathing 1973 song “Smooth Dancer”, which was a backhanded attack on Blackmore. “King of Dreams” takes Gillan’s lyrics and turns them on their head:

“I’m a real Smooth Dancer, a fantasy man, master of illusion at the touch of my hand.”

If you think “King of Dreams” is too mellow, fear not. “The Cut Runs Deep” is second up, and after a brief deceptive piano intro, the old Hammond organ kicks in backed by some ferocious riffing by Blackmore. When Ian Paice picks up the pace (a fast “Kickstart My Heart” drum beat), you’re out of breath and beaten. All you can do is submit to it and take the body blows of drums and guitars.

“Fire in the Basement” is acceptable, a blues shuffle that serves its purpose.  Most of the album tends to be balanced between groove rockers in the “King of Dreams” mold, and ballads. There are quite a few ballads on this record: “Foretuneteller”, “Truth Hurts”, and “Love Conquers All”, which is fully 1/3 of the record.  That is not to say these are bad songs, for all three are actually quite excellent. “Foretunteller” is particularly wonderful, with some beautiful fingerpicked chords as only Ritchie can play. These are not ‘power ballads'; rather these are powerful ballads, dark and moody. After all, this is Ritchie Blackmore; and the man in black himself could never turn in pop trash.

The band were sure to end the album wisely on a 6 1/2 minute jam called “Wicked Ways”.  This is pedal to the metal Purple with Turner’s smooth rasp on top.  You can hear Blackmore letting loose with his pick scrapes and pyrotechnics, but they are unfortunately too low in the mix to come through.  Obviously Purple were going for a radio-friendly sound even on the heavy rockers, because you could remix this one heavy as hell if you had the master tapes!

SLAVES AND MASTERS_0003

I remember listening to this album for the first time at the cottage.  I had rented the CD (remember that?) from a local video store in Kincardine, and I was recording it.  When “Wicked Ways” came on, my dad said, “Who is this group?”  Deep Purple, I said.  “They are obviously a musician’s band,” he said.  Normally he’d come up with one of his wisecracks like, “Why is the singer screaming so much, is he sick?”  Not with Deep Purple.  Upon “Wicked Ways” he bestowed one of his rare compliments.

There are only two poor tracks on the album: The lame-titled “Breakfast In Bed”, and “Too Much is Not Enough” which was written by Turner and outside writers. Otherwise, this is strong music. It is arguably not a Deep Purple album except only in name, but I think today most Purple fans are also fans of Rainbow.  It could have used a ballsier mix.

Regardless of the quality of the album, the tour was a reportedly a bit of a disaster. Having Joe in the group did enable them to play a few rarer tracks, such as “Burn” which was originally sung by Coverdale, but this wasn’t enough to sell tickets or convince fans that Joe was “the singer” for Deep Purple.

The band began work on a second Deep Purple Mk V album, but regardless of any progress made, Gillan came back for The Battle Rages On in 1993, ending this brief era of Deep Purple’s history.  But if you like Turner era Purple, there are still a few more rare tracks to be had.  They are as follows:

  • NEW LIVE“Slow Down Sister”, a single B-side, which was since reissued on a remastered version of Slaves and Masters.  It can also be found on the Shades 1968-1998 box set.  It cleverly recycles the riff from “Stormbringer” into a new song with a similar groove, although way more commercial.  This does not sound much like Deep Purple at all, and the funky bass does not sound like Roger Glover playing.
  • “Fire, Ice & Dynamite”.  This is apparently from a movie soundtrack called Fire Ice & Dynamite that I have never heard of.  I however have it on a Purple DVD called New, Live and Rare (2000).   This song is a Blackmore/Turner/Glover original, but Jon Lord did not play on it.  I believe Glover plays keyboards, and Paice was also present.  It is a pretty straightforward hard rock song, not too different from material on The House of Blue Light.  Decent song, and an uber-rarity.

Final note: this album just sounds better on headphones.  I don’t know why.

Check out Slaves and Masters for one of those lost Purple platters that, with a few listens, you could grow to love.

4/5 stars

R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy

February 27, 2015 14 comments

This is, by far, the most painful loss that Star Trek fans have had to endure yet.  Even more so than the great Gene Roddenberry, Leonard Nimoy embodied Star Trek.  He was Spock — he became that character.  After Star Trek, he struggled against it.  His first autobiography was entitled I Am Not Spock.  A couple decades later, he recanted and released a new book called I Am Spock.  It took him a while to come to peace with the fact that he will always be remembered as Mr. Spock, but he did and the fans loved him for it.

I’ll miss you, my Vulcan friend.


 


 

#370: “I use that bucket for everything now!”

February 27, 2015 5 comments

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RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#370: “I use that bucket for everything now!”

Am I ever glad that I started journaling 10 or 15 years ago. Most of what I recorded is nonsense that I can barely relate to, but every once in a while I stumble across relevant entries from the Record Store. Just a glimpse of Record Store life — the bad times, the good times, and a laugh or two!

Date: 2004/06/01 16:57

God I’m tired. I slept well but work has been non-stop since I got here. I hate that kind of day, you need to breathe some times! And Matt is late, so I can’t eat my lunch. I am having a Bad Retail Day. Everything and everybody is making things worse.

Date: 2004/07/30 12:47

BENAROYAI am expecting the new Pearl Jam to arrive today (late).  [That would have been Live at Benaroya Hall, released officially on July 27.]  I can’t wait to hear it.  Two discs of unplugged Pearl Jam?  Count me in.   The best “grunge” bands weren’t “grunge” at all.  What’s so grungy about Pearl Jam?  Nothing.  They are just good rock rooted in the 70’s and in the willingness to try anything once.  Hence, Eddie Vedder doing drunken covers of ridiculous stuff onstage.  I love it.

Date: 2004/07/30 16:15

An actual conversation at work today between myself and the accountant Jonathan.  We were talking about staying in hotels on the road:

Me:  I like to steal bars of soap and shampoos from hotels.  I mean, I’m paying like $120 for my room, I want some goddamn soap!

J:  I hear ya, man.

Me:  Last time I even stole the little tea packets.  Like, fuck, I want tea!  Coffee, too.

J:  I stole the bucket that you put the ice in.

Me:  Really?

J:  Shit yeah.  I use that bucket for everything now!

Date: 2004/09/30 21:32

Doing a bank run to get change for the register and do deposits.  On the way to the bank, this one kid asked me to buy a candy bar today.  I told him I had no money.  Then he asked me again on the way back from the bank.  I told him I still had no money.  Then he went into my store and asked me to buy a candy bar.  I told him I still had no money!

Just one more drop in the bucket.

REVIEW: AC/DC – Iron Man 2 (2010 deluxe CD/DVD)

February 26, 2015 16 comments

AC/DC – Iron Man 2 (2010 Columbia deluxe CD/DVD set)

For the second time, AC/DC have supplied the soundtrack to a movie (see: Who Made Who, the soundtrack to Stephen King’s Maximum Overdrive). This release basically amounts to a cool “best of” CD. While Who Made Who had some new material, Iron Man 2 is the straight oldies, with a few unexpected surprises thrown in. Since AC/DC have never released a proper “best of” CD, this is about as close as you’re likely to get. And it’s just fine.

I’m guessing Jon Favreau had a lot to do with the picking and choosing and sequencing of songs, and he’s obviously an AC/DC fan. I mean, “Evil Walks”? There is even a song (“Cold Hearted Man”) from the Backtracks box set and one from the more recent AC/DC opus, Black Ice. As such, Iron Man 2 is a pretty damn good single disc overview of the whole AC/DC shebang. It flows well, it has an excellent mix of Bon and Brian, and the sound is as good as any of the AC/DC remasters available. Lyrically, it even (very) loosely relates to Iron Man 2 (“Shoot to Thrill”, “War Machine”, “Evil Walks”, “Back In Black”; use your imagination). In short, it rocks. Buy this with Who Made Who, and you will essentially have all the AC/DC that a newbie needs to get kickstarted, with a fair chunk of deep cuts as well.

The deluxe edition packaging is awesome to behold, with (very fragile) shiny cover art, a generous booklet (loads of Iron Man and band photos in here) and a DVD. The DVD is nothing to write home about: the new video of “Shoot To Thrill” and a making-of featurette being the main draw. The live stuff is great, but a fair bit has been previously released on official AC/DC DVDs before (including the aforementioned Backtracks box set). Still, I have no complaints.  It’s just a bonus DVD from a soundtrack representing a Hollywood action movie; it’s not meant to cater specifically to me.  It’s good viewing and you may as well consider it a freebie at this price.

Die hard fans who already own the whole AC/DC back catalogue won’t need this, but I bought it anyway. As a car disc it’s fun due to the inclusion of obscure tracks. But it works. The album flows and rocks, and those obscure tracks deserve a second look-see. I’d forgotten how cool the song “The Razors Edge” is, and it totally fits the Iron Man vibe.

If you need some more AC/DC in your life, some more iron in your blood, go for it. You won’t be let down. Personal highlights for me include:

  • “The Razors Edge”
  • “If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It)”
  • “Cold Hearted Man”
  • “Rock n’ Roll Damnation”

But the whole thing is great, not a weak track in the bunch!

4/5 stars

#369: Grocery Store Rock

February 25, 2015 56 comments

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RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#369: Grocery Store Rock

The lovely Mrs. LeBrain finally came home from the hospital just before Valentine’s Day.  Three weeks in that place, or close to it, monitoring for seizure activity.  Mission accomplished, Mrs. LeBrain returned home to find my nearly empty fridge and cupboards.  A weekend grocery shopping trip was arranged and we restocked the essentials.

Normally I don’t really spend a lot of time at the grocery store, but this was an extended trip and I found myself noticing the songs that were playing.  I was hearing 80’s rock, oldies, classic rock, and a variety of tunes that I didn’t expect at the grocery store.

I remember growing up, going to the store with my mom as a kid, and they were playing Muzak.  Same store, same location, Muzak was playing 30 years ago.  When did this change?  I didn’t notice.  I worked in a grocery store myself when I was in highschool, but I’ll be damned I could tell you what music was playing.  Therefore it was most likely Muzak.  That same old Muzak that always sounded like a watered down version of the M.A.S.H. theme.  I’ll take classic rock over that any day.

Here are the tunes I remember from the Great Snowstorm Grocery Shop of Feb 2015:

1. Blondie – “Atomic”.  Blondie is coming to town this July as part of Big Music Fest, so that was totally appropriate.

2. ‎The Beau Brummels – “Laugh Laugh”.  I recognized this old classic from an episode of the Flintstones!

3.The Kinks – “Come Dancing”.  I have been on a serious Kinks kick since December.  “Come Dancing” and “Apeman” are currently my two favourite Kinks songs, but the tropical feel of “Come Dancing” hits the spot when it’s -16 degrees outside.

4. The Tokens – “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”.  This one killed the momentum for me, so I went to the junk food isle.

5. The Doors – “Break on Through”.  Morrison’s tormented screams haunted me in the cereal section.

6. Tommy Tutone – “867-5309 (Jenny Jenny)”.  By amusing coincidence, this song came on as I wandered away from Jen, and went looking for her.  I had a laugh over that, and I’m sure shoppers wondered why I was chuckling.  Jen couldn’t hear the song over the sound of the refrigeration in the produce section.


7. A Taste of Honey – “Boogie Oogie Oogie”.  I first heard this Disco classic on the Craig Fee Show.

8. Lynyrd Skynyrd – “Sweet Home Alabama”.  Moms listen to this now.  That’s the reality of the world we live in today.

Not a bad batch of tunes for a grocery shopping trip.  Certainly better than Muzak, you must agree!  It wouldn’t have been so bad working at the grocery store with those kinds of tunes.

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