RECORD STORE TALES & REVIEWS: Complete Table of Contents

February 1, 2012 7 comments

Part 307: Court

July 26, 2014 1 comment



I can only say so much about this subject, for hopefully obvious reasons. I can say this: Yes, I have had to testify in court, in a case of stolen CDs.

It was the Monday after Mother’s Day, in the year 2000. It was a long, ongoing case, a break and enter. I had forgotten all about it. I had made my written statement a year prior. The store had done nothing wrong. We did everything exactly as we had to, when dealing with a situation like this. As per the instructions of the police, we took all the correct ID from the suspect when buying the CDs, and followed all the correct procedures. When dealing with stolen goods, the police actually preferred us to buy the goods rather than send the person away. That way, they get evidence.

Unfortunately since I was the buyer this time, I was a witness and was therefore subpoenaed to testify. Two of my co-workers from other stores also had to appear in court. I was the only one who decided to wear a suit and tie for my appearance. The other two came in jeans and T-shirts.

“Mike!” laughed Cam. “What are you wearing a suit for? You look like you’re the one on trial!” I looked around. Indeed, the only people who seemed to be dressed as nicely as me were the people who were on trial and their lawyers! And I didn’t look like a lawyer.

“I thought you had to wear a suit to court,” I said in ignorance.

Without going into details, here’s what I remember:

- Cam got a parking ticket because there wasn’t any parking available.
- We spent hours waiting in a room that looked like school class room. Hungry and unable to leave, we decided to order a pizza. We pooled our cash together but didn’t have much left for a tip. I remember that the delivery guy threw the extra coins back at us.
- A year after the incident, I couldn’t remember what the guy looked like. I remember him being big, and bald. That was not enough to satisfy the court that I could recognize the accused. My testimony was all but useless.

I remember reading in the paper a short while later that the defense lawyer got his client off. It wasn’t really a surprise to me.

I only had to go to court twice, both for this one case. The experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth. The store had paid cash for the CDs we bought from this guy, but we never got compensated for them when the police took them as evidence. In my experience, we only ever got compensated once, and that was just for four CDs. Although we always cooperated with the system, and made sure we always followed procedure, we got burned too.

REVIEW: Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (2014 deluxe edition – Disc 2)

July 25, 2014 3 comments


Part 2 of 2: Yesterday I reviewed disc 1 of Redeemer of Souls.  Today, the bonus disc!

JUDAS PRIEST - Redeemer of Souls (2014 deluxe edition)

Sometimes a bonus CD is made up of obvious castaways.  Other times, such as with the most recent Black Sabbath album, the bonus disc contains some serious gems.  I don’t know why everybody wouldn’t just go and buy the “deluxe” editions to get the bonus CDs, relatively cheap as they are.   For whatever reason, deluxe editions with bonus CDs flood the stores today.  Thankfully, Judas Priest put just as much effort and passion into these five songs as they did the 13 on disc 1 of Redeemer of Souls.

JPROS_0002“Snakebite” inhabits an 80′s-like Priest vibe.  Dare I say it?  This would have sounded at home on Ram It Down, but it’s better than that.  “Tears of Blood” on the other hand reminds me of “The Sentinel”.  This is one of my favourite songs on the whole Redeemer of Souls set.   There’s no reason a song like this shouldn’t be a single.  I don’t know how songs like this are selected for a bonus CD on a deluxe edition.  Granted, disc 1 of Redeemer is topped to the brim in quality.

Still in an 80′s Priest mold, “Creatures” boasts a catchy chorus within a heavy song.  (The title “Creatures” is short for “Creatures of the Night”, so I’m pretty sure they shortened it to avert lawsuits by G. Simmons.)  What is it that has injected this youthful rediscovery of classic Priest melodies and riffs?  Has Richie Faulkner re-ignitied the passion for writing those kinds of songs?

“Bring It On” is quite different from the other songs on Redeemer, but it certainly shares classic metal traits with them.  I could imagine a song like this going over quite well live.  Once again I ask, how does a strong contender like this get sent to the bonus CD?  “Bring It On” is a fist-pumper, pure and simple.  It’s uncomplicated by flourishes or production.

Finally, as if “Beginning of the End” wasn’t a proper album closer, comes “Never Forget”.  This quiet ballad is lyrically a poignant open letter of thanks to the fans:

We’ll play on to the end,
It’s not over, not over my friends,
We are together tonight,
Reunited for all our lives,
And we thank you all for it,
We will never forget.

Truthfully, this song gives me chills.  I think Priest get their point across.

JPROS_0003Before making closing arguments, I just want to briefly talk about the packaging and production.  I’m on record as being a fan of Mark Wilkinson, and his work here is primo.  Drawing on past characters as the Angel, Painkiller, and even Marillion’s Torch, here comes the Redeemer of Souls.  The art looks great on the embossed, metallic-looking outer cover.

Glenn Tipton and Mike Exeter produced Redeemer of Souls, and by and large I think they did a fantastic job of capturing all that is good about Judas Priest.  I find the mix to sound muddy.  Maybe the CD was mixed too loudly, or perhaps I’m just not playing it loud enough.  All I know is that I have a hard time hearing subtleties.

If Redeemer of Souls goes down as the final Judas Priest studio album, let it be known that it is a dignified statement.  The band clearly worked hard on it (not that they didn’t for Nostradamus).  Early feedback from fans is that they are by and large very happy with it.  This was in spite of some uninspiring early song previews.  When you listen to Redeemer of Souls, you will understand that it is not about individual songs so much as about the entire body of songs.  All 13 (or 18) tracks are part of a whole that is best enjoyed whole.

4.75/5 stars

REVIEW: Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls (2014 deluxe edition – Disc 1)

July 24, 2014 44 comments


Part 1 of 2:  Today, the album, tomorrow the bonus CD!

JUDAS PRIEST - Redeemer of Souls (2014 deluxe edition)

Whenever a classic metal band loses a key original member this late in the game, fans would be forgiven for being skeptical.  When KK Downing quit in 2011, the shockwaves could be felt on every metal message board in the world.  KK said, “There were at least 21 reasons why I decided to quit,” and you have to respect the man’s wishes.  It was hard to be optimistic about the future of Judas Priest (if there was to be any), but the band responded by hiring young Richie Faulkner (ex-Lauren Harris) who proceeded to inject a fresh bolt of electricity.

Filling a role on stage is one thing, and Faulkner did that ably (as proven on the band’s live Epitaph blu-ray).  He also brought his own sound to the table.  Creating new music is much harder to do.  Faulkner has a writing credit (with Rob Halford and Glenn Tipton) on every track of Judas Priest’s new album Redeemer of Souls, and the result is possibly Priest’s strongest since Painkiller in 1990.  Those who felt indifferent to 2008′s double Nostradamus CD should find plenty to like here.

JPROS_0007“Dragonaut” opens the album with a track almost reminiscent of  Rob’s solo band Halford.  For me the most important thing about this song is the classic sounding Priest guitar solos.  It’s almost like they said, “Do you doubt us?  Check out the new kid.”  The solo break has a harmony section similar to “Freewheel Burning”, but both shredders (Tipton and Faulkner) have plenty of time to burn.  “Dragonaut” is a good track, but compared with others on the album, it’s just one of many.

The title track is not that dissimilar to Nostradamus, sounding pretty much as latter-day Priest are expected to sound.  Perhaps that’s why it didn’t blow me away when it was first previewed a while ago.  Now that it has had time to grow on me, I consider it a favourite.  It has a chorus, a riff, and a beat you can bang your head to.  What more do you want?  More solos?  OK, no problem.  Sounds like Glenn has that under control!

If you missed the classic sound of Priest of old, then “Halls of Valhalla” may please you, as it sounds as if it could have been written for Painkiller (think “Hell Patrol”).  Faulkner nails the classic Priest vibe, but it’s the riffs here that truly feel classic.  Regardless of past experiments in sound and direction, there are certain guitar parts that simply sound Priest-ish, and Redeemer of Souls is loaded with them.  Halford throws in a couple screams, while Scott Travis and Ian Hill create the patented Judas Priest back beat.  “Halls of Valhalla” is the strongest song thus far.

“Sword of Damocles” is rhythmically different; the band slow it down a bit to let the song stomp.  The chorus here is top-notch, and the track has a lot of light and shade to it.  Even though it’s only five minutes in length, I’m inclined to use the word “epic” to describe it.  Meanwhile “March of the Damned” has a bit of a groove to it, something not always associated with Judas Priest.  The riff has some “Metal Gods” in its DNA, but melodically I’m thinking of Ozzy.  Regardless, it’s a great mid-tempo groover that would be an obvious single.  Then a really nice guitar harmony introduces “Down in Flames”, which is nothing like its intro.  Judas Priest can do heavy music of every type, and “Down in Flames” is Priest doing hard rock.  It’s the heavy side of hard rock, but the catchy chorus leaves no doubt.  Richie and Glenn trade off solos just like KK used to do, and I’m glad Priest have discovered some new chemistry guitar-wise.

At the midway point of the album comes “Hell and Back”.  A ballady intro is merely a fake-out, soon one of those grinding British Steel riffs takes over.  This one doesn’t boast one of the best choruses, but luckily the riffs and groove are entertaining enough.  It definitely sounds like classic Judas Priest in style.  It also has a killer outro.

JPROS_0005“Cold Blooded” might be considered the “power ballad”.  This one took the longest to grow on me, due to a similarity to some of the slower material on the Demolition CD.  I like it more now; the verses and choruses are really strong.  I think there will be a lot of people who pick this song as a favourite.  The solos absolutely smoke.

Priest usually like to lay down one or two breakneck speed metal workouts.  “Metalizer” is one of those fast tracks, like “Painkiller” or “Demonizer”.  This requires a couple Halford screams, and Rob delivers, insomuch as his voice will allow.   Think Rob sucks now?  Let’s hear you scream at age 62!  Then, “Crossfire” also has a classic Priest vibe, but I’ll be damned if the “quiet” guitar lick in the song isn’t eerily similar to “I” by Black Sabbath.  Who sang for Black Sabbath on the last two dates of their Dehumanizer tour?  Rob Halford.

Regal riffing opens “Secrets of the Dead” which is yet another outstanding track.  This one reminds me of “Laid to Rest”, off the first album by Rob Halford’s Fight.  It doesn’t sound like Fight; it sounds like Judas Priest, but there is a clear similarity to the earlier song.  I also hear a little bit of “Night Comes Down”, from Defenders of the Faith.  Then, what better to follow a slow track than something fast and metallic?  “Battle Cry” is pure, classic metal.   There is nothing that sucks about “Battle Cry”; it lays waste to the landscape and features one of Rob’s best vocals on the album.

The land has been scorched.  Nothing remains but the fires and ashes of the past — so “Beginning of the End” is a perfect end to this CD.  It is a slow and mellow epic with texture.  I firmly believe that an album should feel like a journey with a beginning, middle and end.  A song like this feels like an album closer by destiny.

After 13 tracks of timeless heavy metal, it is understandable if you’re exhausted by the sheer power of it all.  It’s over an hour of pretty much non-stop quality metal, so it is hard to believe that there’s yet more!  On the deluxe edition, that is.  Five more to be exact and we’ll be taking a close look at them tomorrow.

As for the basic version of Redeemer of Souls?

4.75/5 stars

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”

July 23, 2014 14 comments

The final part in my series of Trailer Park Boys reviews, as we gear up for the debut of Seasons 8 & 9! 

IMG_20140712_183919Part one: Seasons 1 & 2
Part two: Season 3
Part three: Season 4
Supplimental: “Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself”
Part four: Season 5
Part five: Season 6
Part six: Season 7
Part seven: “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”

TPB-SGTTBG_0001TRAILER PARK BOYS – “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” (2008 Alliance Atlantis)

“Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys”, the “final” Trailer Park Boys episode before the big movie Countdown to Liquor Day, is actually one of my least favourite episodes (right down there with “Steve French” and “Oscar Goldman”). A one hour special tacked on after Season 7, “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” follows Ricky, Julian and Bubbles after their big haul at the end of the last season. It took two years to finally do a DVD/Blu-ray release.  To date, this is the only Trailer Park Boys episode released to Blu-ray.  The movies, of course, are available on Blu.

Thought that the boys had finally made it rich, and everything was sweet? You’d certainly think so after seeing the hunky-dory last episode in Season 7. This is not the case! Turns out Julian has hidden the money, until such time as he feels it’s safe to distribute it. Ricky’s Shitmobile does have some sweet new rims, but it is now missing a tire. Old recurring nemesis Sam Losco knows about the cash, and with the help of Barb Lahey, finds out where it’s hidden. Before you can say “shit tides”, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are broke once again, and Lahey is back on the liquor.

Another scheme is hatched, this time revolving around a Country & Western dance. Can the boys make a little cash, or will Lahey win yet again? One thing for certain: you can count on some dirty dancing, backstabbing schemes, and Philadelphia Collins eating balogna sandwiches.  That I promise you.

Look for cameos by The Tragically Hip (specifically Gordon Downie and Bob Baker).  Blu-ray bonus features are sparse either way, just some behind-the-scenes stuff.  It does come with a cool Bubbles-as-Scarface mini poster though.  That would look cool in your man-cave.

Unfortunately “Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys” did not feel like a proper episode. It felt like an afterthought. It was revealed that a full season was intended, but all those ideas were distilled down into one episode.  Good thing the boys will be back on TV this fall.

3/5 stars


DVD REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – The Complete Seventh Season

July 22, 2014 6 comments

Part six in my series of Trailer Park Boys reviews, as we gear up for the debut of Seasons 8 & 9! 

Part one: Seasons 1 & 2
Part two: Season 3
Part three: Season 4
Supplimental: “Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself”
Part four: Season 5
Part five: Season 6

TPB7_0001TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Seventh Season (2007 Alliance Atlantis)

Even though it’s the most different from the classic, early seasons, the 7th and final season of Trailer Park Boys may be my favourite.  It featured a lot of changes, buit the show seemed revitalized by them.

Gone are Cory and Trevor, never to return (well, Trevor at least). In their stead are some new chracters: Tom Collins, the two “alien Trevors”, and expanded roles for Philadelphia and Jacob Collins. (Yes, apparently they are related! Nice ret-con.)

Ricky and Julian have roped Bubbles into helping them with their meat stealing business. Things go bad for Bubbles when he’s left in a freezing meat locker. (“Just pretend it’s winter,” says Rick. “Pretend you’re making snowmen out of meat.”) Bubbles decides never to work with the boys again, and then heads down to the United States with Ray (who is back on the road) selling scrap metal. Things go bad yet again when Ray is arrested for picking up two prostitutes (“friends of the road”), with Bubbles left hanging without a ride.

True friends Ricky and Julian head down to Maine to rescue Bubs, and to cheer him up, take him to a model train convention. There they meet Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) who wants to buy some of Ricky’s dope. A plan is set in motion, combining Bubbles’ skill with model trains and the Bach plan.

In other twists, Randy’s been messing around, and Lahey is still a cop, albeit things didn’t exactly work out for him the way he wanted them to. Jacob is obsessed with Julian, who realizes that he and his two “alien Trevor” buddies will make perfect “jail cover”. When Conky shows up, things get fucky.

Beefed up to 10 episodes, the 7th season was a change of pace.  A fresh direction was much needed after the 6th season, when it seemed Clattenberg and Co. were just treading water a bit. Having Sebastian Bach appear in multiple episodes was a stroke of genius, trumping the previous one-off with Alex Lifeson. Bach is hilarious.

The Rickyisms, amazingly, might be even more clever and off the wall this time. Another well written season, the absurdity of this show has been taken to an entirely new level. Smuggling dope across the border via a model train? It’s so stupid that you can’t help but laugh. All this leads up to a hilarious cross-border confrontation.

Sometimes a show suffers when new characters are needlessly added.  I don’t think that happened here.  Beefing up the characters of Jacob and Phil, as well as introducing Tom Collins, was exactly what this show needed before it seemed like it was on repeat. Sometimes a show needs a shot of new blood after this many seasons, and Trailer Park Boys was very lucky to have the entire original cast intact for 6 whole seasons plus a feature film. In addition, this season wraps up in a nice neat little package like never before. You may even get warm fuzzies. But will it last?

No, it wasn’t to last. One last episode was tacked on (“Say Goodnight To The Bad Guys”) which we will talk about next time.  The jail-freedom-jail-freedom cycle never ends!

Yeah, season 7 is probably my favourite. Not a weak episode in the bunch, and a great story arc.

5/5 stars

DVD REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – The Complete Sixth Season

July 21, 2014 5 comments

Part 5 in my series of Trailer Park Boys reviews, as we gear up for the debut of Seasons 8 & 9! 

Part one: Seasons 1 & 2
Part two: Season 3
Part three: Season 4
Supplimental: “Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself”
Part four: Season 5

TPB6_0001TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Sixth Season (2006 Alliance Atlantis)

Season 6 of Trailer Park Boys, that Canadian “mockumentary” program about three lovable ex-cons who can’t stay out of trouble, shall forever be remembered for two simple words:

“Piss jugs”.

Yes, piss jugs. Seems that Ricky’s father Ray (Barrie Dunn) is still living in his old truck cab, and can’t break the old trucker habit of peeing in jugs. “Way of the road boys,” he says, even though his truck cab doesn’t move an inch.

Piss jugs of varying hues of yellow and orange inhabit every episode of the brief but hilarious season 6. There are only six episodes once again, but five of those six are classic. (The only one I didn’t enjoy as much was “Where in the Fuck is Oscar Goldman”.)

As for this season’s story arc:  Randy has finally dumped Mr. Lahey for his out of control drinking. Randy then finds a new love in a surprising place, while Lahey straightens himself out. But now he pretends to be drunk, to ensnare Ricky, Julian and Bubbles.   His plan?  Send them back to prison again, of course.  His logic is that if the Boys see him constantly blasted out of his tree, their guard will be down.  It will be easier to catch them committing crimes, which is an inevitability.  In the meantime, the Boys have started some businesses of their own: “Kittyland Lovecenter” for Bubs, “Garbageland” for Ricky (basically selling stolen goods and garbage), and “Cory and Trevor’s Convenients Store”.

TPB6_0004Things get fucky by the fifth (and best) episode:  “Halloween 1977″.  Seems Halloween of ’77 was the night that Lahey got fired from the police force, kicking off his drinking problem.  And he’s just found an old home movie from that night, proving he did nothing wrong and didn’t deserve to be kicked off the force.  I’m sure it won’t surprise you that very young versions of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles may have had something to do with it.

Season 6 is more of what you love about Trailer Park Boys. After the somewhat darker Season 5, the 6th season takes you back to a more familiar setting. In a way, this season was treading water a bit, with many familiar story elements returning (Lahey quitting drinking, Randy leaving him again). By the end of the season however, things have been drastically shaken up, which will lead right into Season 7.  Stay tuned….

4/5 stars

Gallery: More Birthday Goodness & Food

July 20, 2014 3 comments

A couple more T-shirts, another dinner (at Turtle Jack’s, one of our favourites), and some opened Transformers.  Good times!  My family spoils me.

I mentioned in the comments earlier that my dad paid for some car repairs too; damn potholes caused a bent rim.  Thanks for everything dad!  It was indeed a very happy birthday.


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