Here’s my second review from the The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale! It was Japanese import Heaven!
For the last installment of this series, click here.
WHITESNAKE - Good to Be Bad (2008 Warner/SPV)
Whitesnake disbanded in 1990. Coverdale did his album with Jimmy Page, but that didn’t prove to last either. Although they’d started writing for a second album, the affair ended and David Coverdale assembled a new Whitesnake for a Greatest Hits tour in 1994. This reformation eventually led to an album in 1997 called Restless Heart (billed as “David Coverdale and Whitesnake”. This R&B flavoured album, a personal favourite, did not resonate with some fans of 80′s ‘Snake.
After another hiatus, and a solo album (2000′s Into the Light), David once again formed a new group of ‘Snakes, a mixture of old and new members. After several years of touring (and lineup changes), the long awaited new Whitesnake album, Good to Be Bad, hit the shelves in 2008. Former Dio guitarist Doug Aldrich and Winger’s Reb Beach had been a formidable guitar duo since 2002.
Similarly to his partnership with Adrian Vandenberg, David has retained his writing style of co-writing with just one co-writer; in this case, Aldrich. It seems to be evident that the guys have gone for a John Sykes guitar sound and style. You can certainly hear a lot of trademark sounds and tricks that Sykes used to do, that gave the 1987 album such a cool sound. This isn’t to say that they don’t play plenty of their own style too, but the retro stuff is frequent.
So similar is the direction of this album to 1987, that you can play “name that tune” with all the new songs:
“Can You Hear The Wind Blow” for example directly references moments on 1987, right down to those flares that Sykes used to do. ”All I Want, All I Need” equals “Is This Love” Part Deux. Basically, every song on Good To Be Bad is a mash-up of songs from Coverdale Page, 1987 and Slip Of The Tongue, and you can hear the references quite distinctly. “A Fool in Love” is “Crying in the Rain”. ”Lay Down Your Love” is “Shake My Tree”, without Jimmy Page. Throw in a little “Kashmir” during “‘Til The End Of Time” (which seems to be based off “Till The Day I Die” from Come An’ Get It) too.
Having said that, despite the lack of originality, Good To Be Bad is still a very enjoyable listen, and a very welcome return. A world without David Coverdale’s voice is like a world without crème brûlée. That voice is in fine form, perhaps even stronger than it was on 1997′s Restless Heart. The album has a lot more life to it than Restless Heart, although it does lack that album’s subtlety and R&B moments. The band play great, kicking it on every tune, even the ballads. The melodies are strong and memorable. It’s just…too contrived.
The bonus live disc is the the Canadian special edition is highlights from Live: In The Shadow Of The Blues. No big deal. It’s nice to hear Whitesnake playing “Burn/Stormbringer” from David’s Deep Purple days, and cool to hear the old 70′s classics.
The real cool version to have is the Japanese release with two bonus tracks. And a sticker! Can’t forget the sticker. The bonus tracks are both remixes (a “Doug solo” version of “All For Love”, and a stripped down version of the lovely “Summer Rain”). For $20, I wasn’t complaining.
RECORD STORE TALES Part 198: Promos II
In Part 117, we talked about promo CDs: How to identify them, what they were, what they’re worth. A short while ago, Statham and I were having a conversation about promo discs. The conversation began in regards to one of my treasured rarities, a King’s X promo CD for their 1994 single, “Pillow”, from the Dogman CD.
Even though eBay (supposedly) have strict policies against selling promo discs, I just found one as I was writing this, identical to mine, on sale for $46.99 USD. It even says “Promo Copy – Not For Sale” in clear writing on the back cover, in the eBay photo! Somebody at eBay is asleep at the wheel.
I got mine for free, a decade ago!
This one found its way into our warehouse, probably via a liquidation. The warehouse manager knew we couldn’t sell it, not with that big inscription on the back, so he gave it to me, knowing I was a huge fan. As I explained to Statham:
LeBrain: We weren’t legally allowed to sell promos, at least ones that were obviously identifiable as promos, in the store. We’d been caught once when one hit the shelves .Even if I bought this CD from you for $5, I technically couldn’t sell it in store. We could have asked $20 for it easily, because of the unreleased tracks. Those weren’t on anything else.
Statham: So even on the dark days, the ones you HATED about being there, there were then moments like your getting this CD that made it OK again!
LeBrain: Yes! Although I had to keep them secret…Our warehouse manager would slide them my way, on the condition that I don’t tell. Don’t know what they would have done with them otherwise, besides throw them out. That would have been a shame. [I think the statute of limitations has expired on my promise not to tell!] We paid money for these promos though, we got nothing for free. Everything we sold was purchased from somebody else, be it a wholesaler or an individual.
Statham: Right, but all of that is pre-killed by the writing all over the promos prohibiting their sale. So there never was a [legal] leg to stand on, with those. But nobody ever reads those warnings anymore. The Interpol warning at the start of a DVD? Just something else to skip. Part of the scenery. Surely we can ignore that, right?
LeBrain: Yeah exactly. Every other store in town had promos on their shelves too. And they weren’t as discerning as we were, they’d sell anything. [But] you’re right, we didn’t have a leg to stand on. I guess in the long run it meant that I could get stuff like this for free.
Statham: Even as recently as last year, I bought a promo single from there [LeBrain's old workplace]. So apparently things still slip through the cracks!
LeBrain: I’m sure they do. After all, it was over 10 years ago that we received a warning about selling promos. I don’t know who tattled on us, but it always struck me as unfair. We PAID for those promos. We got NOTHING for free! And I would never buy or sell a promo in the store that didn’t have something worthwhile on it, like bonus tracks of some kind. It had to have some kind of value.
And so it goes. I have a lot of promo discs from those days, stuff that you technically couldn’t buy in stores, stuff that guys at record shows routinely ask $20 for. eBay prices? Double that. Some of them are worthless, one track promo singles with no cover and no real value. Others have exclusive live tracks, like this King’s X single we’re about to discuss.
KING’S X - “Pillow” (promotional CD single, 1994 WEA)
“Pillow” was released as a single in mid-1994, and promptly went nowhere. That’s too bad, as it’s a great song, heavy and slow, fitting right in with the grunge movement that was still dominating the charts. King’s X trademark harmony vocals by Ty Tabor can be heard during the chorus, under Doug Pinnick’s soulful lead. Doug’s 8-string bass chimes while drummer Jerry Gaskill sets the groove. This track, one of the standouts from the Dogman album, simply crushes.
The two B-sides are live, recorded in Dallas on May 8, 1994. ”Shoes” is another great Dogman track. What is especially cool is how great King’s X harmonies sound live! This track proves they have the goods, but the Texas crowd is more than happy to take over the vocal chores. They clearly knew the new songs backwards and forwards.
The second B-side is the complex “We Were Born To Be Loved” from the landmark Faith Hope Love album. ”I like a crowd that makes a lot of noise,” says Doug, before the band tear into the intricate rhythms and harmonies involved with this rocker. It’s another Doug lead vocal, with Ty and Jerry on the harmonies. Knowing how great King’s X are, I’m sure this truly is live — no backing tapes or overdubs.
There’s not much in the way of artwork; just a sticker on the front of the case and a pretty plain white back cover. Stickers don’t age too well, as the gooey sticky stuff starts to seep through the paper. Plus if you crack that front cover, you’re screwed.
Since this single was released, both these recordings have seen the light of day on an album, called Live & Live Some More, from 2007. While that sort of destroys the collector’s value for a single such as this, it doesn’t change the fact that these songs are awesome!
Next time on Record Store Tales…
Hooray for Stock Transfer Day!
Happy birthday Dad!!
We were in Kincardine, Ontario, on Queen street, or “the main drag” as my dad calls it. We were in this crappy clothing store called Sandy’s that’s not there anymore. But this time, they had a Kiss T-shirt for sale! I never saw any cool band shirts in Kincardine before. We spent much of each summer there, and when I was younger the place seemed kind of dull. Finding a Kiss shirt there, well obviously I had to get it. It was 1992, a Revenge shirt.
My dad asked, “Did you find a shirt, son?”
“Yep,” I answered. ”This one is cool, because it has the new Kiss member on it.” [Eric Singer]
“Yeah,” my dad said with a disapproving smirk. ”I don’t think I’ve ever seen that bearded guy before…”
This was one of the first, if not the first, discs I bought with my staff discount at the record store! I wonder if Deke remembers these guys?
PSYCHO CIRCUS - Scarred (Anthem 1993)
20 years ago, Psycho Circus were one of the bands hyped as the “next big thing” out of Canada. They originated in Mississauga, Ontario, just west of Toronto. They signed with SRO management (Rush, Van Halen, King’s X, Extreme) and producer Terry Brown (also Rush) and released a trendy but still unique goth-rap-funk-metal album called Scarred. They also released a music video for the excellent “Pulsate”.
These guys were hanging out with old dudes way before Our Lady Peace.
The problem with Psycho Circus is their split personality. On one hand (roughly half the album) they inhabit this cool, dark land I call Diet Faith No More. Singer Vince Franchi has the lungs and range to emulate Patton’s style on The Real Thing. Their cool use of keyboards also reminds me of that band, but without the dementia. On the other hand, there’s a goofy rap-funk side, which does not appeal to me in the least. I think funk metal got stale very quickly, and the juvenile lyrics render the rapping limp. ”Acid Monkey Junk”, a song about the testing of cosmetics on animals, is painful at time. ”Monkeys in the ocean and fishes in the trees?”
A M.E.A.T Magazine interview by Karen Bliss, from 1993, reveals that the band had already dropped even more irritating material from their live set. They name a discarded song called “Picky Purple People” as being particularly notable for its silliness. Glad I didn’t have to hear that one.
I prefer the Diet Faith No More side of the band: hard, melodic and dark songs like “Thru the Backbone” (which also featuring rapping in a non-annoying way). ”Pulsate” is easily the best song on the album, demonstrating Franchi’s impressive vocal range and power. I’m also fond of the angry “I Know”, the haunting “Leave Me Alone”, and the closer “Goodbye”. The rest of the album is unfortunately skip-worthy and occasionally irritating to me.
There was also a CD single made for “I Know” featuring an exclusive “Psylicone Mix”. Although I don’t enjoy the remix as much as the album version, it’s notable for being remixed by Brown and the band, not some outsider. I happened upon this single within my first year at the record store, and it surely must be one of the rarest discs I have.
For half a good album:
Happy long weekend, Canada!
METALLICA - St. Anger (bonus DVD, 2003 E/M)
Ahh, the much-maligned St. Anger! When I first reviewed St. Anger back in 2003, I pointed out that some Metallica fans are suffering from “Highschool Syndrome”:
Highschool Syndrome: “The band doesn’t sound the same as they did when I liked them in highschool, therefore they are sellouts and I don’t like this album.”
A staunch critic must remember something before they brand St. Anger a sellout. An album recorded this harshly, with songs this aggressive by anyone else would get zero airplay. How is that selling out?
Perhaps by “selling out”, some fans are referring to the lack of solos and the alternative, downtuned sounds on St. Anger. Unfortunatly, the lack of solos is really a mistake. Kirk Hammett did record at least one very cool and appropriate solo for this album; check out the movie Some Kind Of Monster for a glimpse at that. Hammett felt that the cutting of guitar solos was a mistake and so do I. As Hammett said in the movie, “Having no solos dates the album to THIS time (2003)”.
The production by Bob Rock was definitely the wrong direction. He was overcompensating for what was perceived as overproduction on Load, Reload and Black. The band probably should have taken a production direction like Garage Inc. (heavy, but conventional) instead of pushing the envelope like they did. The sound he created was so harsh that it is actually headache inducing for me to listen to St. Anger in one sitting. (And this is selling out?)
The songs contained herein are by and large pretty decent. The title track was brilliant, with a great video to match. My personal favourite is the fast and furious “Frantic”, the melodic “Sweet Amber”, the angry “Shoot Me Again” and the epic “All Within My Hands”. There are ample time changes and musical adventures going on here, which harken back to the ambitiousness of Justice, while not sounding like old-school Metallica.
The lyrics, mostly introspective, are not my cup of tea. Some may call them brilliant, some may call them psycho-babble trash. Whatever they are, it is the first time that Hetfield didn’t helm them and they were written by the entire band. Truly, they’re not that bad when you’re banging your head at full speed, but most fans want to hear Metallica raging against something other than themselves.
The CD comes with a cool booklet, and of course the bonus DVD: all of St. Anger, recorded by the Hetfield / Ulrich / Hammett / Trujilo lineup, in order, in the studio. (Bob Rock played bass on the album.) At the time, a freebee like this was a bigger deal. They were obviously trying to placate pissed off fans after the fallout of Napster. There was even a code to download an entire live show of your choice. Basically, you are getting the value of three albums in one, for the price of a single CD. Not bad.
Yet, St. Anger was a hard album to love, and few people did. It is the sound of a fractured band piecing itself back together and experimenting with some interesting directions. It could have been better. It’s an important album in the sense that, this was a huge turning point. The band were basically reduced to two guys (Kirk and Lars) for months on end while James was in recovery. We all know the story.
From that point of view, it’s an interesting listen. Music had changed, Metallica were trying to lead and play catch-up at the same time, so it seemed. I think you have to give them credit for attempting something new, sometimes those albums end up classics 20 years down the road. There are enough good riffs and solid songs on St. Anger to come back to it once in a while.
Besides, if you want a band to sound the same album after album, why would you listen to Metallica? AC/DC are still around, you know.
Don’t count Bob Rock out — his work with the Tragically Hip has been excellent!
RECORD STORE TALES Part 197: What’s on the Menu?
Record store people have a wide variety of paletes. We had omnivores. We had vegetarians. We had some like myself that subsisted on pepperoni sticks and Red Bull. Some of them did come to work with healthy snack choices, such as fruit or carrot sticks. But carrot sticks aren’t very rock n’ roll.
Some places in the world are known for their cuisine. Nebraska, for example, is known for its “Hot Beef Sundae”.
The hit single “Hot Beef Sundae” dedicated to Nebraska’s state food
Likewise, record stores have their own cuisine.
Tom enjoyed a hearty dinner of baked beans and KD. I’ve also seen him eat chicken bones, but I don’t think that was for nutritional value. Here are some more record store classic dinners:
- T-Rev and I had differing tastes. I liked fish, his slogan was “nothing that swims”. We could always agree on Taco Bell. But no tomatoes for T-Rev.
- I will always remember that Lemon Kurri Klopek taught me how to eat sushi.
- One of our store managers enjoyed “taco sauce sandwiches”. Take any meat (he liked roast beef) and add Taco Bell mild, or hot sauce.
- Wiseman learned as a Subway Sandwich Artist. He liked a two-meat sandwich: turkey bacon with lots of onions.
You didn’t want to be working the same shift as Wiseman on turkey bacon onion night. Believe me.
Next time on record store tales…
DEEP PURPLE - Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (2000 Thames Thompson, Australia only, 12 CD set)
There are two (!) 12 CD Deep Purple bootleg collections; this is the first and best of them. Although Deep Purple’s career is chock full of live albums chronicling this period, this set does feature many treats that are hard to find or not available on official live albums. These really are bootlegs; the band decided to release their own versions of pre-existing audience bootleg albums! All artwork, errors included, are copied from the original bootleg releases.
Before you get too excited I will state right off the bat: There’s no Deep Purple Mk V or VI. No Joe Lynn Turner, or Joe Satriani. There is, however, a show from 1995 with Steve Morse, previewing tracks from the yet-to-be recorded Purpendicular album. This transitional period is very cool. You get to hear Morse perform “Anyone’s Daughter”, which was dropped from the set not long after. Since Morse and Blackmore’s styles are vastly different, it’s a cool take on a track that you don’t hear often as it is. In addition, you’ll hear Morse reinvent “Woman From Tokyo” on a bootleg from 2000.
The Bootleg Series also contains my favourite version of “The Battle Rages On” ever released. 1995, Ft. Lauderdale Florida, Ian Gillan tore the roof off with that song. In my mind I always imagined his screams directed towards Blackmore, even though he was probably furthest from Gillan’s mind. It’s a magical version, you can hear the electricity and the emotion. Just awesome.
Also a treat is a revisiting of the old In Rock classic, “Into the Fire” from 2000. This version crushes! Unfortunately, a stiff and slow version of “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” follows it. Deep Purple are that kind of band, usually they just kill it. But their history does contain rare stumbles, and this take of “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” is nothing stacked up against other versions available. On the other hand, Purple just smoke the Abandon track “’69″ immediately afterwards! They extend this concise rocker to include an extended jam with a nod and wink to “Paint It, Black”.
Other highlights: Blackmore’s solo spot “Difficult to Cure”. Rarely heard 80′s-era tracks such as “Under the Gun”, “A Gypsy’s Kiss”, “Nobody’s Home”, “The Unwritten Law”, “Bad Attitude”, “Hard Lovin’ Woman”, and “Dead or Alive”. You can’t buy a live version of “The Unwritten Law” anywhere else. ”Fools”, a rarely played track from Fireball, simply crushes. Holy Ian Paice, Batman! Steve puts his own slant on the guitar part in “Fools”, but it is his solo spot on “Cascades” that is truly intoxicating.
These being bootlegs, don’t expect sound quality or packaging or liner notes, unfortunately. The sound quality does improve as you go from the oldest discs to the most recent. The oldest shows have a lot of crowd noise, and poor sounding drums. By the time you get the Japan 2000 show, things sound much better although can still stray towards muddy at times. Packaging-wise, what you see is what you get: A box, six jewel cases, front covers and back covers.
This was an Australia-only release. I have no idea what it’s worth today. I haven’t seen one in years.
Highway Stars (Adelaide Australia, 11/30/1984)
Third Night (Sweden, 06/16/1985)
Hungary Days (Budapest Hungary, 01/28/1987)
In Your Trousers (Stockholm Sweden, 11/13/1993)
Purple Sunshine (Ft. Lauderdale Florida, 03/04/1995)
Made In Japan 2000 (Osaka Japan 04/01/2000)
I decided that there’s no point rating these bootlegs individually. For one, it’s a set, and when it came down to splitting hairs, I like them equally. And that speaks volumes as to the consistency of this band.
Categories of Rock
Archives of Rock
- REVIEW: Whitesnake – Good to Be Bad (2 CD & Japanese versions)
- Part 198 / REVIEW: Promos II (King’s X – “Pillow” CD single)
- Sh*t LeBrain’s Dad Says: Gene Simmons’ Beard
- REVIEW: Psycho Circus – Scarred (1993)
- REVIEW: Metallica – St. Anger (bonus DVD, 2003)
- Part 197: What’s on the Menu?
- REVIEW: Deep Purple – Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD)
- REVIEW: Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (with DVD, 2003)
- REVIEW: Deep Purple – Power House (1977 Japanese import)
- Part 196: Happy Rockin’ Mother’s Day!
- REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – “Flying High Again” (2011 Record Store Day exclusive single)
- REVIEW: Deep Purple – Deep Purple (1969)
- REVIEW: Criss – Criss (1993 EP)
- REVIEW: Quiet Riot – Rehab (2006)
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