#1009: These are Crazy, Crazy, Crazy, Crazy Nights

RECORD STORE TALES #1009:  These are Crazy, Crazy, Crazy, Crazy Nights

 

I got my first Kiss albums in September of 1985, the first few weeks of school that year.  The band’s newest album Asylum was released September 16.  I was just learning about Kiss and spent the next year collecting all their albums.  All of them from the debut to the new one were in my collection in some way within two years.  To me they were one monolithic body of work that I had spent 24 months studying.  I had all this time, the formative years of my life, to dive deep into that body of work.  So it was an interesting feeling when, on September 21 1987, Kiss released another new album.

It’s not an experience people talk about much, but it’s a unique one:  hearing the first new Kiss album to come, after you fell in love with the band already.  And I had two years to figure out who Kiss were in my mind.  How would a new album change that image?

My next door neighbour George took the bus downtown to Sam the Record Man, picked up the new album Crazy Nights, and later that evening called me up.  “Wanna tape the new Kiss?”  Yes I would!  So with a Maxell UR60 tape in hand (I can still smell how they came out of the wrapper) I went over to record George’s brand new Kiss vinyl.

He had already told me earlier that summer what the title was going to be.  “Isn’t that ripping off Loudness?” I asked upon hearing the title Crazy Nights.  George also informed me that Paul said he had been writing new songs on keyboards.  I didn’t yet appreciate what that meant, but upon hearing the album, I was starting to get it.

George and I scanned through the track list, counted the number of Paul vs. Gene songs (seven vs. four) and discussed what we were hearing.

The most memorable quote of the night was George’s.  When we played “I’ll Fight Hell to Hold You”, he said this.  “If a song this poor made the album, imagine the outtakes that didn’t.”

The keyboard factor was new and took some adjustment.  Keys like this were not present on prior albums.  Not like this.  The overly pop approach was also jarring at first.  Asylum Part II, this was not.  Asylum was a pretty straight sequel to Animalize, and I could hear that after two years of many listens,

I accurately picked what I thought would be the next two singles.  With the ballad “Reason to Live” I knew Kiss had a shot at a mainstream hit, so I knew that would be the next single.  After that, I hoped it would be “Turn on the Night”, and it was.  “Turn on the Night” is still the best tune on Crazy Nights, a total 80s Kiss anthem.

As a kid age 15 hearing his first “new” Kiss album since getting into the band, I had three main thoughts to consider.

1. Gene’s voice.  He was, at least for this album, leaving the growling and howling Demon voice behind.  His singing on Crazy Nights is smooth all the way through.  Immediately noticeable as different, but I kind of like it.  Gene didn’t have many songs but a couple of them were pretty strong:  “Good Girl Gone Bad” and “Hell or High Water”.

2. Paul’s dominance.  With the majority of songs being Paul’s by a historically wide margin, we sensed Gene was checked out.  Not to mention the atrocious quality of “Thief in the Night”.  Even the thrash-paced “No No No” was of questionable constitution.  Was a breakup imminent?  The rock magazines pushed this narrative.

3. The lyrics.  They were undoubtedly mostly dirty, but that was par for the course.   We already had Gene putting his log in some “bitch’s” fireplace so even Crazy Nights stuff was fairly tame.  Still, Gene singing about that “Good Girl Gone Bad”…I wanted a good girl gone bad!  I was absolutely useless at flirting or making moves or even talking to girls, so I figured a good girl gone bad could show me what to do.  Where was my good girl gone bad?  Nowhere near me and my GI Joe figures I assure you.  So I lived my fantasies through Kiss lyrics and although they were hugely unrealistic, Gene and Paul provided some of the imagery.

I had to wonder what a crazy, crazy night was.  The song was about empowerment, and doing what you believe in even when people try to keep you down.  But if life is a radio, turn it up to 10.  It’s that simple.  Don’t back down.  Keep on keepin’ on.  Don’t let the bastards wear you down.  Have your crazy, crazy nights.  But what the hell was that?  For me it was eating ketchup potato chips, renting Andre the Giant videos, and staying up late drinking pop and watching the Giant beat five guys at once.

Hey, whatever makes you happy.

Crazy Nights didn’t exactly make me happy though.  Songs like “My Way” were almost embarrassing, and as 1987 wore in 1988, Def Leppard replaced Kiss as my favourite band.  It got worse a year later with “Let’s Put the X in Sex”.  Was that going to be it for me and Kiss?

Of course not.  But this was the beginning of a low period that lasted almost my entire highschool life.

VIDEO: Rocking August Weekend to the Greatest Hits of Tee Bone Erickson

Sometimes my videos are inspired, sometimes less so. This time was one of those times I just couldn’t seem to satisfy myself. However, there’s still some great footage here. A couple of blue jays, some delicious steaks, incredible sunsets, waves in slow motion, and miniature Schnauzers. All to the greatest hits of our good pal Tee Bone. And you can’t resist his music!

#1008: Backstreet’s Back (in stock)

RECORD STORE TALES #1008: Backstreet’s Back (in stock)

 

Little known fact, people:  did you know that in the United States, the Backstreet Boys had a second self-titled album, with the same cover art as Backstreet’s Back?  It’s true, and I know it’s true because I once had about 200 brand new sealed copies in the trunk of my car.

The 1997 self-titled Backstreet Boys (as opposed to the 1996 self-titled debut) was a compilation.  It contained hits from Backstreet Boys and Backstreet’s Back.  Some of the tracks were slightly remixed, others not.  I acquired this box while dating “JJJulie”, the girl that dumped me while I was on the road opening a new store in Barrie.  For the record, I don’t blame her for dumping me.  I was miserable working that job.  I only blame her for not waiting until I was in the comfort of my own home instead of a strange hotel room.

JJJulie and I dated for two months in 2003.  If I recall the story, her mom owned one of those book clearance businesses.  The kind of business that buys and sells old overstock from other chains.  JJJulie must have got the box of discs from her.   Unable to move the product, she gave it to me.  Our store was crammed full of Backstreet Boys.  I think I might have given her 10 bucks for the whole box.  Then it sat in my trunk for months.

I did find some use for the box of BSB.  We were allowed to carry two copies at a time in our bargain bin.  We paid $1 to $2 each for bargain bin CDs.  I sold two copies to the store for $2 each.  I kept track of them.  Any time we sold a copy (every few weeks), I would sell another $2 disc from my box to the store, for the bargain bin.  That went on for a year or so.  I probably moved about 20 copies from my box before I quit.  Not a huge profit, but some small change for me.  The store would have made double what I did with their markup.

I did all this on the sly.  The owner would have said “No more Backstreet Boys!”  I had to do some things on my own, even if they helped the store in the long run, simply because the upper management tended to throw one word at me repeatedly:  “No”.  They wouldn’t have complained at the 200% markup when the discs eventually sold, but they really had pickles up the ass.  So, anytime I looked at the sales reports and saw that a copy sold, I went out to my car, grabbed another Backstreet Boys, and sold it to the store for $2.

When I eventually quit the store, I had an almost full box of BSB still left.  I didn’t know what else to do with it, so I put it in the dumpster.  Backstreet’s back…where they belonged!  In the dumpster.

#1007: Kissathon Tomahawk

RECORD STORE TALES #1007: Kissathon Tomahawk

According to my Facebook memories, on this day in 2009 I was listening to a massive all-encompassing Kissathon.  This was done so I could review all the albums before the release of Sonic BoomThe first run of Kiss reviews here on this site came from that 2009 Kissathon.  By coincidence only, this past weekend was a mini-Kissathon, started on Thursday night with some music we don’t play as often in the car.

1. Crazy Nights (1987).  Even the underdogs deserve some love.  Listening to this album inspired me to write a new Record Store Tale about the experience of hearing it for the first time.  You see, for me this album was unique.  I got into Kiss in 1985 just as Asylum was released.  In two years, I collected, listened to, and absorbed all the Kiss albums to a degree only a kid that age can.  Crazy Nights, therefore, was the first “new” Kiss album to come after completing my journey through their discography.  And unlike Asylum, it was different.  I spent a morning writing up the impressions I had in 1987.  As for the car trip, we laughed at some of the terrible lyrics and obvious musical attempts to copy Bon Jovi, but it was an enjoyable listen.

2. Dynasty (1979).  After the Paul-dominated Crazy Nights, I wanted to hear something with all four guys singing lead.  There are very few albums like that, and only three with the original lineup:  Love Gun, Dynasty, and Psycho-Circus.  I went with Dynasty this time.  A short but very energetic listen as we passed through Palmerston, Wingham, and Whitechurch on the way to the cottage.

3. Gene Simmons (selections from) (1978).  Once we hit Lucknow it was time to put on an album for the last 20 minutes or so of our drive.  Gene Simmons was under-represented in our first two choices.  Only two Gene songs on Dynasty, and only four on Crazy Nights.  The Demon needed some love, and I wanted to expose Jen to some of his more…ahem…questionable material.  We played a lot, some good some bad.  The good:  “Radioactive”, “Mr. Make Believe”, “See You Tonight” “Always Near You/Nowhere To Hide”.  The bad:  “Burnin’ Up With Fever”, “Tunnel of Love”, “Living In Sin” and…yes…”When You Wish Upon A Star”.  I remember back in the old days going to the lake with my parents.  Sometimes they’d let us listen to an album on the car deck instead of our headphones.  My dad praised “When You Wish Upon a Star”.  “Finally, a good song!” he said.  Good song perhaps, but not a good vocal performance!  I explained to Jen how Kiss fans were shocked and flabbergasted when Gene’s album was finally released.

As the gentle strains of Pinocchio completed their final crescendos, we pulled into the driveway at our humble place in paradise.

Our little furry friends the chipmunks began visiting, as did a pair of blue jays that I named Domaso Garcia and Lloyd Moseby.  These blue jays were brave little birds and I managed to get a little bit of footage up close.  However by Friday morning the calm turned to distraction!  I worked on completing an upcoming list, my second collaboration with Jonathan Lee.  If you recall, Jonathan and I ranked all the Kiss albums from worst to first a short while ago.  Now we are finishing up another comprehensive pair of lists, on another band we both love (and you do too).  When they are ready, the lists will be revealed…but not until they are ripe!  I had to work on my list while the chipmunks and blue jays made annoyances of themselves, distracting me from my rock and roll duty.  Therefore the peanut supply was cut off for the rest of the weekend, especially when the chipmunk ate his way through the bag.

Unlike the last several weekends, this one was fairly uneventful.  We did get in a good swim, and some footage of crystal clear waters.  Listening to Kiss (and then Judas Priest) on the porch, working on writing, playing video games and cooking meals.  In fact the only “new” thing that really happened this weekend was the cooking of the Saturday steak.

For the first time we tackled a 2″ thick tomahawk steak.  It was actually 2 1/2″ at the thickest point.  It was fun to cook but the fat content caused lots of flame-ups so it was a matter of taking care.  Jen thought it was the steak of the summer.

Traveling home was uneventful, until we passed Listowel (home of the original Helix).  At this point, traffic was heavy.  An impatient pair of blondes in a red jeep decided that passing cars the conventional way going to take too long, and so they went onto the gravel shoulder, and passed three cars including myself on the right.  I gave ’em the horn as they endangered my life, and they didn’t even look over.  I imagine the inside of their jeep smelled like Patty and Selma from the Simpsons.  They had that kind of look.

A few miles down the road, I had an opening so I went for it and passed them, flipping them the bird as I did.  They didn’t seem to notice, but they remained stuck in the line of traffic for the rest of the ride home.  I never saw that red jeep again.  This all happened to the tunes of Raise Your First and Yell by Alice Cooper.  The exact song they passed me on was “Chop, Chop, Chop”.

We came home tired and had some naps.  Funny that even though the weekend was less active than others this summer, we were just exhausted.  I was too wiped out to work on a video, but hopefully that will come.  In the meantime I’ll just sleep and wish upon a star.

 

REVIEW: Def Leppard – Yeah! II (CD Collection Volume 3)

Part Thirty-Eight of the Def Leppard Review Series

DEF LEPPARD – Yeah! II (CD Collection Volume 3 Disc 5) (2021)

This disc, exclusive to the box set, isn’t really a sequel to Yeah! as the title implies.  This CD instead collects all the Yeah! bonus tracks (aside from the live ones – they’ll be coming next week) and a few other covers from single B-sides.  19 tracks total, this is the collector’s dream disc for knocking a few rarities off the list.  There are also B-sides here going back to Adrenalize, so well overdue to appear in this series of box sets.  If you were wondering, “Hey, how come ‘Little Wing’ hasn’t popped up in this set yet even though it goes all the way back to 1992?”, now you know.

There is a lot of information here to digest, so buckle up!

1. “Only After Dark”, the original B-side mix (as opposed to Retro-Active remix) leads us off.  This Mick Ronson cover was the first Adrenalize B-side, from “Let’s Get Rocked” in 1992.  The remix added guitar overdubs by Vivian Campbell, but this one is all Phil Collen.  Great tune, and perfect for Leppard to cover.  Upbeat, cool riff, great playing by Phil and vocal performance by Joe Elliott.

2. “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.  This and the next track are by The Acoustic Hippies From Hell, which was Def Leppard plus three Hothouse Flowers:  Fiachna Ó Braonáin, Liam Ó Maonlaí, and  Peter O’Toole.  Tin whistle, piano and mandolin are interesting accents for Def Leppard, but this is a brilliant cover, essentially live in the studio.  These Acoustic Hippies tracks originated from the 1992 “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single.  Notably, this group also recorded the Leppard original “From The Inside”, so the sound is similar.  Brilliant if surprising.  Especially considering this song is so difficult to cover without wrecking completely.

3. “Little Wing”.  Also by the Acoustic Hippies From Hell, and also from the ’92 “Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad” single.  Quieter, darker, and slightly trippy.  The tin whistle here is really something and is the only solo instrument.

4. “Ziggy Stardust”.  This track is from the 1996 UK “Slang” single, and it is another acoustic performance.  It would not be a stretch to say it is one of Leppard’s finest covers.  I daresay nobody covers David Bowie better than superfan Joe Elliott.  An shimmery acoustic stunner.

5. “Under My Wheels”.  Very rare track from the 1999 “Goodbye” single.  Not the first time Leppard have covered Alice Cooper, but we won’t get to the first time until next time!  Very confusing, I know.  Good, if stock, cover.  Lots of bands have tackled “Under My Wheels” over the years, but the unexpected sax solo is a treat!

6. “Who Do You Love?”.  Also from the “Goodbye” single.  This Ian Hunter cover is a bit forgettable unfortunately.  It replicates the thump of the original but lacks the same sass (and harmonica).

7. “Rebel Rebel”.  Back to Bowie and another great version.  Another rarity, originating with the 2002 single for “Now”.  Electric Bowie this time, and performed near-perfect.

8. “Led Boots” from the 1996 “All I Want Is Everything” single, and not performed by Def Leppard.  It was recorded by Vivian Campbell as a solo artist for a Jeff Beck tribute album called Jeffology.  This one is way out in left field compared to the others, being a funky zig-zag of a song.  That’s Jay Schellen from Hurricane playing those funky drums, and John Alderette from Racer X on bass.  Very much in the vein of early, jammy Journey and a side of Vivian you never get to hear.

9. “‘Cause We’ve Ended as Lovers”.  Phil Collen’s solo Beck cover featuring the same rhythm section as Viv’s, with Billy Sherwood on Rhodes.  From the same 1996 CD single as well.  This song cries; it just weeps.  Again, a side of the guitarist that you never get to hear.  You’ve never heard Phil play so slow!  (Don’t worry, he burns it up later.)  Full of feel and one of the guitarist’s most memorable performances.

10. “Search and Destroy”.  Finally, onto the bonus tracks from different versions of the Yeah! album.  The Iggy & the Stooges cover “Search and Destroy” originated on the Walmart bonus CD.  It features Phil Collen on all instruments and lead vocals.  If it wasn’t for the expert solo work, you could call it fully-fledged punk.  Phil captures a snotty vocal vibe, and you gotta say it sounds authentic.

11. “How Does It Feel?”.  SERIOUS RARITY ALERT!  The only way to get this track was by iTunes download, and only with the initial release of Yeah!.  The song was discontinued thereafter and you were out of luck.  Therefore, this is a first time physical release!  The piano-based Slade cover features Joe on all instruments (piano and acoustic guitar).  It’s a beauty that sounds very different from the typical Slade sound.  Melodic as hell and Joe does a bang-up job.

12. “Roxanne”.  Another serious rarity, a previously unreleased Phil Collen demo of the Police classic.  Unsurprisingly, Phil has a Sting-like voice, so it sounds about right, though Phil sings it in an understated way.  It’s funky and Phil’s solo is perfect butter on top.

13. “Dear Friends”, a Queen cover by Rick Savage, is an album highlight.  Originally from the Walmart bonus CD, it features Sav on vocals and all instruments.  And holy shit, dear friends, did Rick ever go in left field!  Although it begins similar to the Queen original with soft layered vocals, it then goes in a Live Killers “We Will Rock You” hard rock direction!  Almost a punk rock speed to it.

14. “Winter Song”.  A seasonal sounding acoustic Lindisfarne cover from the Best Buy edition of Yeah!  (One of two Best Buy bonus tracks, with the second one appearing on Yeah! Live.)  Lindisfarne were a folk rock combo, and this version is performed as a duo by Joe and Sav.  A great addition to your favourite homebrew Christmas mix CD.

15. “American Girl”.  Fabulous Tom Petty cover from the Walmart bonus CD.  Performed by Joe and Viv, with Mark Danzeisen on drums.  Another disc highlight.  Joe and Viv captured everything you like about the song.  Its spunky upbeat vibe lasts all night.

16. “Heartbeat”.  Joe calls this cover the most “out there” of them all, but I think that honour has to go to “Dear Friends”.  “Heartbeat” was by Jobriath, the first openly gay artist signed to a major label record deal.  He only made two albums before fading into obscurity.  It’s a beautiful piano ballad performed by Joe.  You could originally get it on the Walmart bonus CD.

17. “Space Oddity”.  The final Bowie cover and fifth & final track from the Walmart bonus CD.  Joe on all instruments.  Lovely version but it’s hard to top the sheer vibe of the original, no matter how faithful.  At best you can say it’s a nice reproduction.  At worst, it’s unnecessary.  However it was recorded as a gift from Joe to his dad, so can you really blame anyone?  Not at all.

18. “When I’m Dead and Gone”.  Target was the last chain to get exclusive bonus tracks, and like Best Buy they got two.  And like Best Buy, one was live and therefore appears on Yeah! Live.  The other Target bonus track was “When I’m Dead and Gone” by McGuiness Flint.  It is another folk rock cover, done up nice acoustically by Joe and Phil.  An album highlight; so damn melodic, upbeat and catchy!  And then it detours into “Ooh La La” for a minute.  The perfect ending!

19. “Stay With Me”.  Closing Yeah! II just like it closed Yeah! is The Faces’ “Stay With Me”.  This is an earlier B-side version from the “Now” CD single (2002).  Phil Collen takes on the raspy Rod Stewart lead vocal (and probably had to gargle salt water for several days after).  The version from Yeah! sounds more full than this original, but you gotta have ’em all or it ain’t complete, is it?

So there you have Yeah II, a mixed bag of a compilation from all kinds of singles and assorted releases.  One more disc of covers to go before we’re done, but Yeah II is the best listen of the three.  Though long, it has the variety and fearlessness that sounds great on the speakers compared to the original Yeah!.

4/5 stars

 

Previous:  

  1. The Early Years Disc One – On Through the Night 
  2. The Early Years Disc Two – High N’ Dry
  3. The Early Years Disc Three – When The Walls Came Tumbling Down: Live at the New Theater Oxford – 1980
  4. The Early Years Disc Four – Too Many Jitterbugs – EP, singles & unreleased
  5. The Early Years Disc 5 – Raw – Early BBC Recordings 
  6. The Early Years 79-81 (Summary)
  7. Pyromania
  8. Pyromania Live – L.A. Forum, 11 September 1983
  9. Hysteria
  10. Soundtrack From the Video Historia – Record Store Tales
  11. In The Round In Your Face DVD
  12. “Let’s Get Rocked” – The Wait for Adrenalize – Record Store Tales
  13. Adrenalize
  14. Live at the Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert
  15. Retro-Active
  16. Visualize
  17. Vault: Def Leppard’s Greatest Hits / Limited Edition Live CD
  18. Video Archive
  19. “Slang” CD single
  20. Slang
  21. I Got A Bad Feeling About This: Euphoria – Record Store Tales
  22. Euphoria
  23. Rarities 2
  24. Rarities 3
  25. Rarities 4
  26. Cybernauts – Live
  27. Cybernauts – The Further Adventures of the Cybernauts (bonus disc)
  28. X
  29. Best Of (UK)
  30. Rock Of Ages: The Definitive Collection
  31. Yeah!
  32. Yeah! Bonus CD With Backstage Interviews
  33. Yeah…Nah!  (Recored Store Tales)
  34. Songs From the Sparkle Lounge
  35. “C’Mon C’Mon” (picture disc)
  36. Taylor Swift & Def Leppard – CMT Crossroads (DVD)
  37. B.Sides

Next:

39. Yeah! Live
40. Mirror Ball – Live & More (Japanese import)
41. iTunes re-recordings

Sunday Screening: Tim’s Vinyl Confessions – Tim and Mike discuss Freedom by Journey

Tim Durling approached me about doing this Journey show…six months ago?  A year?  Two years?  We have been waiting for this Journey album a long time, and a rocky ride it has been.  Does this album live up to the hype?  Tim and I are remarkably alligned on the new Journey album Freedom.  Dig in.

My text review of Journey Freedom can be found by clicking here.

REVIEW: Journey – Freedom (2022)

JOURNEY – Freedom (2022)

What a…well, Journey…it has been!  First drummer Deen Castronovo was fired for…reasons we won’t get into.  Steve Smith was brought back to replace him, until both Smith and bassist Ross Valory were fired for attempted takeover of the band?  One way or another they ended up with Randy Jackson and Narada Michael Walden forming a lethal new rhythm section.  Also added was second keyboardist Jason Derlatka.  Now Deen is back and the album they created together, Freedom, is a special one compared to all the other post-Perry records.

This review is a little different.  It is based off notes I made for an episode of Tim’s Vinyl Confessions.  As such the format is a little different.  Tim also provided all the photos!


Musically, Freedom is the strongest lineup since the classic Steve Perry era. With Narada on songwriting, there is a clear uptick in memorable material. 15 songs and a more satisfying listen than the last three or four Journey studio albums.  Freedom actually feels like a three sided album, with five songs per side.  Listen with that in mind and see if you agree.

1. “Together We Run” – Classic 80s sound with a catchy Jon Cain piano opening. Awesome chorus. The “Woah Woah Woah” part is excellent.  Top it with a classic Schon solo. Arnel  Pineda sounds more soulful than before. 5/5

2. “Don’t Give Up On Us” – This is the “Separate Ways” ripoff.  Tell me you can’t hear it.  It’s slowed down a tad, but similar. Good tune though! 4/5

3. “Still Believe in Love” – The first ballad.  Narada’s really nailing that soul vibe on drums. Really soft/romantic but good. 4/5

4. “You Got the Best of Me” – Second single. Solid Journey style hard rocker. Narada nails this vibe too in a style reminiscent of Steve Smith. Chorus is stellar. 5/5

5. “Live to Love Again” – Jonathan Cain solo writing credit. A bit corny but not more so than other Journey ballads or Bon Jovi for that matter. 3/5

6. “The Way We Used To Be” – First single, so long ago! Darker, more ominous Journey, but absolutely killer. Takes a while to sink it. Works better on the album than as a single. Powerful, with great chorus. 5/5

7. “Come Away With Me” – Uncharacteristic hard rock groover. Randy Jackson for the win. Do I hear an homage to the first album on this one? Relentless song! 5/5

8. “After Glow” – Ballad #3. At least each ballad is different from one another, which is necessary on an album like this. Deen Castronovo on lead vocals. Very Steve Perry circa Trial By Fire. 3.5/5

9. “Let It Rain” – Woah! Completely different. Funk courtesy of Mr. Randy Jackson on bass. Solid unexpected funky groove going on here. Schon is mental! 4/5

10. “Holdin’ On” – Randy’s first co-write. Very much an homage to the first three progressive Journey albums. Time signature is nuts. 4/5

11. “All Day, All Night” – Randy Jackson is MVP for his bass pulse on this soulful, funky groove. Wicked song, An album highlight. Schon just punctuates the air with some chords while the bass carries the verses. Arnel in top voice on the screamin’ outro. 5/5

12. “Don’t Go” – Arnel’s first co-write. Like early 80’s Bon Jovi with an uplifting power chorus. 5/5

13. “United We Stand” – No quite a ballad, but a midtempo tune. Lyrics could be interpreted as about the division in the US. Not a highlight, just kinda sits there. 3/5

14. “Life Rolls On” – A song about aging and rolling with the changes. Begins as a ballad and transforms into a rocker. Nice organ on here by Jon Cain. 4/5

15. “Beautiful As You Are” – album closing ballad/rocker. Lovely acoustic closer. Understated and perfect until it goes rocker at the end. Arnel in top voice hitting the high notes. Homage to classic Journey at the end – “Anytime”? Walden kicking absolutely ass on the outro. 5/5

There is also a Japanese bonus track called “Hard to Let It Go” that we will check out at a later time.

Freedom is the first Journey since Trial By Fire that really intrigues you enough to go in for multiple listens.  This lineup has it all and though health issues have gotten in they way of Randy and Narada touring, the album is a moment frozen in time when Journey had these two awesome veterans in the engine room.

4.5/5 stars

Saturday Screening: Davey504 – 200 basses, one solo

It’s a Saturday Screening this week as, if all goes well, I will be posting my Journey Freedom review tomorrow.

Today, watch awesome Youtuber Davey504 play a bass solo on 200 basses!  Utilizing the basses in stock at a favourite store, Davey rocked this solo with fast fingers and clever edits.  Check it out and be ready to be slapped by bass.

REVIEW: Blue Rodeo – Daze In America (1995 promo EP)

BLUE RODEO – Daze In America (1995 Discovery Records promo CD)

Blue Rodeo have a number of promo-only releases of great value to fans.  There’s the The Live CFNY Concert for one.  “Diamonds in the Rough” / Demos and Other Stuff….. is another.  Perhaps the most superb of them was 1995’s Daze In America CD, including five live songs but never released to retail on any Blue Rodeo album or single.

The sextet were riding high with the triumphant Five Days In July album, a surprise hit recorded spontaneously in…well, five days.  An utter masterpiece, Five Days in July produced numerous classics that endured in setlists for decades.  “Head Over Heels” was one such track, an upbeat Jim Cuddy stomper with harmonica, mandolin, and the kitchen sink.  It’s the kind of Blue Rodeo track that gets people off their seats.  The version here is the studio cut, which is logical since it was one of the big singles they were promoting at the time.

“Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” is live in Omaha, and it emanates energy from the crowd.  “This ain’t nothing new to me, it’s just like going home,” sings Greg Keelor.  “It’s kinda like those sunsets that leave you feeling so stoned…”  Crowd roars.  Live, Jim Cuddy’s harmony line is more prominent.  Blue Rodeo’s best song, hands down.  And check out Bazil Donovan’s lyrical walking basslines and tell me he isn’t one of the best bass players in this great nation of ours!  Yes, “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet” is a freakin’ gem, where every facet matters, and elevates the song further.

Jim’s bluest ballad, “Bad Timing” is received by quiet punctuated with screams.  If you see Blue Rodeo live, then you know this is a common reaction to Cuddy’s crooning, a country heartthrob if there ever was one.  “Bad Timing” is sentimental, beautiful, and soothing in its own pain.  The ultimate breakup song.  It’s just bad timing, that’s all.

Casino‘s “Til I Am Myself Again” brings us back to one of those upbeat Jim songs that people love to dance to.  Being seated during this song at a Blue Rodeo concert is not optional.  Often a set opener, this one kicks!  Laying back a bit, “Rain Down on Me” was another big hit, this time from Lost Together.  The size of the chorus, a big huge cumulus, is one reason why it is so beloved.  The pedal steel guitar solo by Kim Deschamps is outstanding.  Then “Last To Know” is another Jim ballad, but with a monolithic chorus.

Ex-Andy Curran drummer Glenn Milchem is all over “Trust Yourself”, a real bolder-buster of a tune.  It was always a bit of a jam, but live it just explodes from all its bounds.   Then it descends in a two minute outro of solos and jamming.  Blue Rodeo are one of the best live bands you’ll ever see, and this track shows why.

A great promo EP, somewhat rare, but worth the extra few bucks for these rare recordings.

5/5 stars

#1006: Too Many Cooks

RECORD STORE TAILS #1006: Too Many Cooks

Every so often, a thought or a memory has casting my mind back onto the old Record Store Days.

You probably don’t often think about a job that you quit almost 20 years ago now.  Then again, you probably didn’t work in a Record Store.

It was the Dream Job.  I always wanted to work in some way with music, and selling CDs was pretty high on my list.  It truly was everything I had hoped for.  I acquired hundreds of rare treasures, out of print CDs and things I never knew existed.  I got them with a discount, and I got to listen to music every day.  Lifelong friends were made.  That’s something I never thought would happen from a workplace.

The Record Store also put me back in touch with friends I had seen in years.  The Store was located at the local mall, the epicenter of the neighbourhood.  Banking, groceries, and everything you needed could be found at the Mall, and so a lot of the people I went to school with drifted in through my doors.  Some managed to stay in touch since then, thanks to social media.  I would not trade those connections for the world.

I know a young fella who now works at one of the many stores that I did time in.  It was one of my least favourite stores, in fact.  I hated working at that location.  The customers were not, shall we say, the upper crust of society in that neighbourhood.  But the kid loves his job!  Have things changed, or did I get it wrong? That’s what I ask myself sometimes.  Did I misrepresent those years in Record Store Tales?  Was I unfair?

The first two years were really awesome.  I looked forward to going to work every day.  I got there early and stayed late.  There is no question that the fun atmosphere changed when we started to expand.  10 years later I was having panic attacks.  Too many years of a retail job that was treated with as much urgency as a doctor’s or a lawyer’s.  Family came second.  Performance was everything.  Weakness was inapplicable.

Too many cooks spoil the brew.

At the end I had three bosses, and it was kind of shady how some of that went down.

I never looked forward to work anymore.  I still got there early, but that was more to take my own time opening.  Get ahead on some things.  Listen to music.  Fill orders.  I still do that today in my current job.  I arrive early, and slowly and casually start getting stuff done before we’re officially open for business.  Make a coffee.  Read some news.  Answer emails, before the phone starts ringing.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, but the boss told me, “If you worked at IBM, coming in early to do extra is considered bad work habits.”  I distinctly remember him saying that.  I simply could not win with them.  It was a record store, not IBM!  Who cares what IBM do?  They don’t buy and sell used CDs from the public.

I’ve said before that there were cliques at the Record Store, and I stand by that claim.  I never felt like I belonged.  I was the only hard rocking sci-fi nerd with severe social anxiety.  I wasn’t hanging out with the right people at the right bars, because that’s not my thing.  Being invited out to the bar doesn’t count.   I.  Did.  Not.  Fit.  In.  I stand by that.  And I maintain that people in power did let their personal lives leak into their work life.

No.  Upon reflection I feel like I was fair in my previous assessments.  I will say that I am guilty of one thing in my writing.  Once I knew that people at the Record Store were reading, I let that influence my writing too much.  Too often, I wrote with that knowledge in the back of my head, whether consciously or unconsciously.  Perhaps that was unavoidable.

Too many cooks spoil the brew,
Wanna be the king of the world,
Yeah, and too many jailers makin’ the news,
Wanna be the king of the world.