RECORD STORE TALES
- RECORD STORE TALES MkII:
GETTING MORE TALE
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THE GLORIOUS SONS – The Union (2014 Canada Factor)
Kingston Ontario is home to several great Canadian rock artists: The Tragically Hip, Hugh Dillon and the Headstones, Sarah Harmer and Weeping Tile, and many more. I dated a girl from Kingston about 15 years ago and guess what! She was a musician. (I even reviewed her CD for her back in the day!) The place is a musical hotbed and The Glorious Sons are my latest favourite band to hail from there.
The Sons have been earning a lot of radio play thanks to four great singles. The one that first gained my attention last year was “White Noise”. The way the singer (Brett Emmons) enunciates caught my ear. He has a unique sort of drawl to accompany his powerful rasp. The first two things that initially catch me about a band are usually the singer first and the song second. Turns out the Glorious Sons have both on “White Noise”; a brilliant track with a dark celebratory vibe. It sure sounds Canadian to me: guitars, bass, drums, singer, song. There’s a certain type of “Canadian Rawk” that the Glorious Sons inhabit a corner of, and I don’t mind at all.
“Lightning” is the current single I’m hearing on the airwaves. It is a spiritual companion to “White Noise”. It has a slow burn to it, and a killer vocal performance by Emmons. Four of the five Sons are credited to backing vocals, and “Lightning” has those “ahh ahh’s” that help bump a chorus into the stratosphere. For a harder rocking single, check out “Heavy”. Better get your boots on because this one will get your ass swaying. The fourth strong single I’ve been hearing is the southern flavoured “Mama”. Sounding something like an undiscovered Skynyrd track via the Black Crowes’ By Your Side, it’s plenty fun and gets the hips movin’.
Thankfully, The Union is more than just a few good songs on the radio. This is evident on the slow-building opener “Man Made Man” which sounds like good old 1980’s hard rock! Once again the band cover the backing vocals, keeping everything sweet enough for hit potential. “Hard Times” is another hard rock standout. The cool thing about the Glorious Sons is that not only could they be very big now, but they could have been very big in 1989! This kind of celebratory rock would have been right up my younger-self’s alley. “The Contender” covers the badass rock vibe, and what could be more Canadian than a song called “Gordie”? “I wanna be like Gord Downie!” sings Emmons, name-checking his home town hero on this campfire rock track. “The Union”, “Lover Under Fire” and “Amigo” round out the album, a strong collection of songs overall. All these songs share strong hooks, great singing and a soulful rock sound. “Amigo” is a nice mellow piano track to close the album. Not a poor song in the bunch.
I’m very happy with my purchase of The Union by The Glorious Sons, an up and coming band for sure. And for $12 on Amazon, the price sure was right!
I remember the Freddy Mercury Tribute concert (1992) like it was yesterday! I recorded the whole thing (to both VHS and three audio cassettes), and MuchMusic in Canada broadcast the whole thing, unlike MTV. I was immersed in that concert. It was a huge deal to me. It was Vivian Campbell’s debut with Def Leppard. Spinal Tap played. So did Metallica. So when Classic Rock Magazine posted today that it was the anniversary of the show, and they’d be taking a look at the acts who played there including Guns N’ Roses and Black Sabbath, I had to correct them!
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!
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.
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!