REVIEW: Ted Nugent – Double Live Gonzo! (1978)

scan_20161129-2TED NUGENT – Double Live Gonzo! (1978 CBS)

Ted Nugent has expressed his displeasure with Double Live Gonzo! I wish I still had the 1990 magazine interview where he trashed the record, because I have to strongly disagree. To these ears, Double Live Gonzo! is another one of those incredible 1970s cornerstone live albums that every self respecting rocker should listen to at least once. It’s the album that spawned the name “Nashville Pussy”, and houses the definitive live take of “Great White Buffalo”.

Double Live Gonzo! was recorded at multiple shows. The shout-outs to Nashville and San Antonio (“suck my bone-i-o!”) make that obvious, but it’s not a detriment to the LP. With Derek St. Holmes on guitar and vocals, Ted and the gang bring the rock and roll noise to the best party in town. All you have to do is hit play and hold on tight.  It’s an intimidating track list at first: three songs run over 10 minutes, with the majority over 5:00. There is Terrible Ted on the front cover, covering his ears as if in pain from the powerful feedback contained inside.

Ted’s hits are present (“Catch Scratch Fever”, “Stranglehold”, “Yank Me Crank Me”) but are overshadowed by more epic rock orgasms. “Great White Buffalo” and its incredibly dexterous riff is the main attraction.  Though this song was originally recorded by Nugent’s Amboy Dukes, the live version is the most important.  Love Ted or hate him, no serious rockers should have to live without “Great White Buffalo” in their collections.   It’s all about that riff, which is hard to duplicate but impossible to forget.

The Indian and the buffalo,
They existed hand in hand,
The Indian needed food,
He needed skins for a roof,
But he only took what they needed, baby,
Millions of buffalo were the proof.

But then came the white man,
With his thick and empty head,
He couldn’t see past the billfold,
He wanted all the buffalo dead,
Everything was so sad.

The Amboy Dukes’ “Hibernation” grandstands with some equally impressive musical chops (as do all the songs).  Almost as good as “Hibernation” itself is its live intro.  Ted introduces his guitar to the crowd:  “This guitar right here is guaranteed to blow the balls off a charging rhino at sixty paces,” he claims.  “You see this guitar definitely refuses to play sweet shit, you know, it just refuses.”  However “Hibernation” is pretty sweet, as far as rock n’ roll goes.

If you are looking for some “Wang Dang Sweet Poontang”, then Terrible Ted has your prescription:  it’s “Just What the Doctor Ordered”.  The Nuge has done a few live albums over the years, but none as beloved as Double Live Gonzo!  For its minor faults (it could sound beefier with less crowd noise), Double Live Gonzo! serves the needs of the masses looking for some full bluntal Nugentity. His gut-busting guitar playing can’t be touched and with Derek St. Holmes in the house, you also don’t have to listen to Ted singing lead on every track.

Double Live Gonzo! isn’t just for guitar players, but guitarists will absolutely dig Ted’s incredible licks and control of feedback. Few guitarists can command the instrument like Ted does. Players will find much to examine, while the average listener can just look forward to a double serving of 1970s live rock. No lyrical messages, just brutal sonic massages.

4.5/5 stars


The back cover has a mis-print.  “Hibernation” is 16:55 long, not 6:55.


#531: The More Things Change…

GETTING MORE TALE #531: The More Things Change…

The first record store I worked in no longer exists.  It closed (moved actually) in 1996, but even the physical location it was in has gone.  It was tucked away in a mall, but that unit was torn up and enlarged and made into a discount store.

That entire mall has changed completely in the last 20 years.  I spent a lot of years in that mall as a kid, teen and young adult.  Before the record store opened in ’91, I would mostly shop at the Zellers store.  Zellers wasn’t bad.  They carried 7″ singles, and that is the very store about which Record Store Tales Part 4:  A Word About B-Sides was written.  The fact that they even had singles made my early music collection much more interesting.  Once I even spied a very rare Def Leppard promotional cassette called Soundtrack to the Video Historia.  It was exactly that — a cassette version of all the songs on Leppard’s Historia home video.  I assumed it would have the rare video mix of “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, and I wanted it.  But they wouldn’t sell it to me, even though it appeared in their flyer that week.  Whoops.

During my highschool years, the mall even had an A&A Records & Tapes.  A&A closed up shop nationwide in 1990-91 (much sooner in our mall).  Now Zellers is gone too (turned into a Walmart) and the grocery store Zehrs has grown supersized.  My first ever job was at the Zehrs store.  Now I can’t find my way around it; it’s too huge.  Trying to find a box of crackers takes me 15 minutes.  I have so much history with that mall.  My dad worked there before I did.  Amazingly, the bank at which he used to work is still open, though completely changed and enlarged.  His old office is now just part of the general reception area.  The old vault, which my dad used to let me into when we visited, is also long gone.

When we were really young, my mom, sister and I went to visit my dad at the bank regularly.  We liked playing with the calculator and his phone.  My sister enjoyed sitting in his big chair.  Within reach of her tiny hands was the silent alarm, hidden under his desk.  She found it, and decided to try it out and see what it did.  Nothing!  Nothing at all.  We left and headed home, while my dad continued work.  A few minutes after we departed, in rolled a squad of cops responding to the silent alarm!  My dad had no idea, but he figured it out in short order.

Needless to say, I grew up with that mall as a second home.  When I was in grade school, it was basically right next door.  I knew every inch of it, at least the way it used to be.  The Baskin Robbins – long gone.  Little Short Stop where I bought all my comics, candy and Star Wars cards — gone.  The sole restaurant — gone.  Black’s Photography – gone.  Radio Shack – also gone.  Entire wings of the mall don’t exist anymore, swallowed up by other stores.  Nothing decent moved in to replace them.  Walmart took over the skeleton of Zellers and the grocery store expanded.  Everything else was taken up by crap discount stores of questionable value.  Nobody shops there anymore.  The mall is dead.  It used to be infested with mall rats.  Now you couldn’t find a teenager within 100 meters of that place.

The second record store I worked in was also in Kitchener, but not in a mall.  It was in a strip plaza.  That strip plaza has also completely changed over the last 20 years.  When we first moved in there, they had a coffee shop and a bank.  The coffee shop was gone within the first year and the bank a few years later.  There were two gigantic gift and craft shops – both gone.  There was a dollar store where we could pop in and buy a bag of chips – gone.  “Cheese chips” was our thing at that location.  It was a new flavour to us, cheddar cheese.  We bought a lot of cheese chips from that store.

That plaza doesn’t even look the same anymore.  Today, most of the stores have been bulldozed, including my old record store.  However they moved down a little ways; not too far for the customers.  These stores were torn down to make way for a new grocery store.  Quite a shock, to see my old store reduced to rubble.  There was nothing but concrete shambles where I spent every weekday for many years not so long ago!  A strange sight to behold.  So much happened on that little patch of rubble!  Half of Record Store Tales came from that destruction zone.

I think it would be fascinating to take a look at these places in another 20 years.  Will they even exist?  Will anyone care?  Or am I just another old fogie reminiscing about the “good old days”?  You only live once and I’m very happy to have lived where I have.


REVIEW: Joe Lynn Turner – Rescue You (1985)

jlt-ryJOE LYNN TURNER – Rescue You (1985 Elektra)

Post-Rainbow, Joe Lynn Turner embarked upon a solo career.  With the last Rainbow drummer Chuck Burgi on hand, Joe debuted his solo self with Rescue You in 1985 on Elektra.  Roy Thomas Baker, best known for his work with Queen, worked on the production.  All songs were written by Joe and guitarist Alan Greenwood.  The direction was heavy on keyboards, and sampled drum sounds.  The only thing in common with Rainbow is the voice.

That voice cannot be mistaken.  Nobody can sing soul-driven broken hearted AOR rock like Joe Lynn Turner.  Opening track “Losing You” fits this description like a glove.  The samples and keyboards are occasionally distracting, but the melodies are strong.  Joe has always been a fine writer.  Perhaps Journey should have knocked on Joe’s door for some help when they were struggling to come up with Raised On Radio.  The second song, “Young Hearts” is pure pop rock like Steve Perry did on Street Talk in 1984.

“Endlessly” was the single/video, a keyboard rock ballad, and a decent one at that, but it is overwhelmed by the title track. “Rescue You” is once again very keyboard heavy, but rocks better than anything else on the album. It has a European flavour, sounding a bit like some of the material Glenn Hughes was doing in the 1980s. Back to the Americas, “Feel the Fire” is a bit limp, but sounds like something that could have been played on radio.

The LP continued on side two with “Get Tough” which isn’t that at all. The toughest thing about it is Burgi’s excellent drumming at the start. The bassline sounds like “Livin’ on a Prayer” but before that song was ever conceived. One gets the feeling that many of these songs could have been hits if only recorded by someone more famous. “Eyes of Love” is a decent moody mid-tempo song, and Joe sounds awesome on it. “On the Run” is a bit more upbeat, boasting a strong chorus that’s as good as anything on Slippery When Wet.  Moving into Purple territory, “Soul Searcher” could have fit in well on their Slaves and Masters LP.  One almost aches to hear what Blackmore and Lord would have added to it.  Going into the closer, “The Race is On” really has the life sucked from it with the keys and samples.  You can distinctly hear a heavy blazing rocker desperately trying to get out.  The recorded song sounds half-arsed, with those unnecessary keys taking up valuable sonic ground.

Not a bad solo debut from Joe, but certainly inferior to the Rainbow that came before and the Purple that came after.

3/5 stars


Songs written by Greenwood/Turner except noted

“Losing You” – 4:25
“Young Hearts” – 3:52
“Prelude” (Newman, Turner) – 0:56
“Endlessly” – 3:40
“Rescue You” – 4:31
“Feel the Fire” – 3:28

“Get Tough” (Delia, Turner) – 4:33
“Eyes of Love” (Turner) – 3:49
“On the Run” – 3:53
“Soul Searcher” (Greenwood, Newman, Turner) – 4:08
“The Race Is On” – 3:23


REVIEW: Jeff Beck – Blow By Blow (1975)

Purchased at BMV in Toronto, $4.99

scan_20161111-2JEFF BECK – Blow By Blow (1975 Sony)

Jeff Beck’s second solo album, Blow By Blow, was co-produced by George Martin.  The talents of both need no elaboration.  A guitar god and “the” producer’s producer were bound to make something special together.  With an ace quartet (Max Middleton on keyboards, Phil Chen on bass and drummer Richard Bailey), there were no weak links.

Blow By Blow spans many musical genres, all augmented with Jeff’s sharp and slippery fingerwork.  Funk, jazz, blues, Carribean and progressive rock all collide in the grooves.  The songs are instrumental hybrids of styles, but Jeff keeps it consistent.  His guitar speaks.  There really isn’t a better way to describe what he does with tone, technique and technology.  There is even an uncredited Stevie Wonder cameo on “Thelonius”.  If you can’t get enough funky clavinet, you’ll love Blow By Blow.

This albums is tops in almost every conceivable measure.  The drum rhythms and bass grooves are hard hitting and relentless.  Musicianship like this is rare and valuable.  Without Jeff Beck there could be no Steve Vai — this, I firmly believe.

Play Blow By Blow, and then play it again.  Thanks to George Martin’s fine musical sensibilities, it reveals new nuances each time.  A complete triumph.

5/5 stars


This has been a 200 word review in the tradition of the #200wordchallenge.




REVIEW: The Sword – Age of Winters (2006)

Purchased at BMV in Toronto 2016 for $6.99.

scan_20161126THE SWORD – Age of Winters (2006 Kemado Records)

The scene:  Earth, post-Rapture.  A seedy bar somewhere in America, haunted by the few remaining survivors.  In walks a cloaked figure, here to recruit the only man who can help him defeat the Antichrist:  former CIA agent Stan Smith.  On the jukebox in the futuristic post-apocalyptic watering hole:  “Barael’s Blade” by The Sword.  (American Dad season 5 episode 9 – “Rapture’s Delight”)

Sounds bizarre, right?  Seth MacFarlane’s American Dad has always used modern rock music in interesting ways, and this wasn’t the only use of music by The Sword on that show.  “Iron Swan” appeared in an episode called “Minstrel Krampus” (also featuring soul crooner Charles Bradley).  Interestingly, not only are both these appearances in rather twisted Christmas episodes, but both songs were drawn from The Sword’s debut long-player, Age of Winters.

The doomy riffs of opening track “Celestial Crown” immediately recall early Black Sabbath circa 1970-72, but drawn out, slowed down, grinding heavy like a glacier carving its path through a mountain.  J.D. Cronise’s howling vocals break the ice on “Barael’s Blade”, but the assault continues right on to “Freya”.  This track, the ogre stomping “Freya”, wields multiple guitar riffs as heavy as the thunder of an avalanche.  The Norse goddess of fertility is also the goddess of war and death.  “Freya” brings the sonic conflict to your speakers.

When the “Winter’s Wolves” arrive, your senses are already overloaded by the riff-heavy metal.  “Wolves” centers on a heavy drum section, like Bill Ward on ephedrine.  Almost as if part of the same song, “The Horned Goddess” reverberates like a coda to “Winter’s Wolves”, different yet solidly in the same icy field.  “The Horned Goddess” soon transforms into a stampede of mammoths making their last stand.  Hypnotizing lead vocals welcome you into this hazy landscape of sound.

Acoustic instrumentation brings “Iron Swan” a different aura, like the Beatles via The Sword.  Then it immediately launches in a thrash metal “War Pigs”, as if all the speedy chops the band had in storage were being used up right now at this very moment.  Epic only touches on what “Iron Swan” is, as there is so much riffery that it becomes overwhelming.  Scientific studies* have shown that the human memory can only retain so many riffs at one time, and so “Iron Swan” becomes like a wave of them hitting your senses one after the other.

Painting of an Aurochs from Wikipedia

Painting of an Aurochs (Wikipedia)

The Aurochs, a part of European megafauna until their extinction in the early 1600s, were the direct ancestor of the modern domestic bovine whose products millions of people consume every day.  It is the Aurochs you see in cave paintings today.  The Sword have given us a seven-minute-plus “Lament for the Aurochs”, and we do not forget the impact that mankind has had on the ancient land we inhabit.  Although back-breeding has produced Auroch-like “Heck cattle”, we shall never feel the ground shake with a herd of Aurochs again.

“And none may see again the shimmering of Avalon,
Or know the fates of all the races man has cursed,
Long gone are the ages of the alchemists,
Now there are none who know the secrets of the earth.

“Lament the passing of the Aurochs,
And the slaying of the ancient wyrm,
Would you dare meet the gaze of the basilisk,
Or face the flames as the phoenix burns?”

The Aurochs give way to an epic instrumental “March of the Lor”, another exercise in maximizing potential riffage.  When “Ebethron” arrives to end the album with a hammering blow, it is a mercy killing.  Age of Winters is almost non-stop, all-in, nothing but riffs and pounding through its entire length.  That in mind, it only takes a short while to recover, and hit play one more time….

I look forward to exploring more of The Sword’s discography.

4.5/5 stars

Look for a review of album #2, Gods of the Earth, soon.

*Not really.



ROGUE ONE: A Star Wars Story trailer “Trust”

It is a period of civil war. Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire.

Rogue One will be out in 19 days.  Get ready.


#530: Sauna


Anyone who has ever shared a workspace, a home, or a car with another human has probably had this experience:  It is sometimes very difficult to get two people to agree on what temperature it should be inside!

I walked into work recently on a cold November morn’.  We were blessed with a mild fall, but now winter has come, so bundle up.  I work in an office in an old building.  I’m as far away from the furnace as you can get.  I’m often very cold in the winter, and too warm in the summer, but certainly not always.  The best way for me to control the temperature in my office is by putting a big 500 ream of 8.5″ x 11″ paper on top of the vent.  I had to use the vent method to prevent my office from becoming a sauna.

The previous day, somebody cranked the heat up on the office thermostat.  Whoever did cranked it way, way up.  For whatever reason, all the heat seemed to be concentrated in my office.  I could feel it in the hallway, which was warm, but my office was sweltering!  Every surface in my office was hot:  my desk, my filing cabinet, the walls, my computer…even the window was warm!  Meanwhile, it was -2°C outside. It really had to be hot inside to warm up the window that much. I covered the vent blasting all that hot air. Then I removed my winter coat, and my dress shirt leaving only my Iron Maiden T-shirt beneath. I was still sweating. I had to crack open an outside door just to get some relief.

Whatever happened, it took a few hours for the room to cool down once the thermostat had been reset. The Maiden shirt was a hit; it was suggested I wear it to the office Christmas luncheon. I was able to work comfortably (and fully shirted) the rest of the day.

It reminded me of the constant thermostat battles at the Record Store. In the store I worked, there was a retail storefront and an office in the back. The office people would be constantly fiddling with the thermostat while the people up front doing the real work had to sweat it out. It wasn’t a winnable battle so I didn’t even fight. With hot lights beating down on the counter, I’d sometimes have to turn them off to stay cool. At night when the office people went home, we could at least control the temperature again. But if we failed to leave the heat on overnight in winter, there would be hell to pay! Though few people worry about it, temperatures under 20°C could theoretically do damage to a computer’s hard drive. Employees would constantly be warned of the penalties.

“Mike! Your employees forgot to leave the heat on last night! I could see my own breath this morning! Remind them if those computers break down they’ll be paying to replace them!”

A hard drive costs less than a hundred bucks. Heating a large store…that’s expensive. But I didn’t make the rules, and nobody asked my opinion!

As we Canadians hunker down for yet another winter, get ready for the temperature arguments.  Fighting about tunes in the car will be replaced by “turn up/down the heat, I’m freezing/boiling!”  Best of all are those days where you don’t know if you’re warm or cold.  All perspective is lost on those days.  You can’t even tell if you’re comfortable anymore.  Join me in celebrating this joyful time of year, as some freeze and others work in a room hot as a sauna!


REVIEW: Don Dokken – Up From the Ashes (1990)

scan_20161027DON DOKKEN – Up From the Ashes (1990 Geffen)

“The best revenge is to live well.” — Don Dokken’s liner notes.  Passive aggressive much?

Dokken imploded in 1989 not with a bang but a whimper.  Rather than remembering the live album they finished with (Beast From the East), people recall the animosity and bitter attacks in the rock press.  George Lynch and Mick Brown began Lynch Mob, while Jeff Pilson formed War & Peace. Don Dokken meanwhile was cooking up a hot new band.  The only issue was the name.  The ex-members, who owned a stake in the Dokken name, refused to let Don use it.  They also shot down the names “Dokken II” and “DKN”.  (Reportedly Dokken was told if he wanted to just use the vowels “OE” for his new band, that would be fine with the others!)  Don was understandably upset that he couldn’t use his own last name for his name, so he opted to bill himself as Don Dokken the solo artist.

His solo band was a killer.  Fresh out of Europe with a smash hit album under his belt, John Norum joined on guitar.  Billy White from the thrash metal band Watchtower was the second guitar player, giving Dokken a double guitar lineup (or three if you count Don himself).  King Diamond’s Mikkey Dee was aboard on drums, several years away from joining Motorhead (and now Scorpions).  Rounding out the band was veteran Accept bassist Peter Baltes, who played with Dokken in their earliest days.

With all this burning anger coupled with tremendous instrumental firepower, one might expect Don to come back rockin’ harder than ever.  His solo album Up From the Ashes was a down-ratchet from Dokken, slightly, with an emphasis on melodic rock.  It did however continue the core Dokken sound, with some biting and very Lynch-like guitar riffs.

Entering with the kind of jagged riffs that made Dokken famous, “Crash ‘N Burn” sounds almost exactly like Don’s old band.  Hard rock, smooth vocals, and six-string acrobatics.  There is no familiar Jeff Pilson backing vocal, but Peter Baltes and John Norum get the job done.  The incredibly impressive guitar histrionics are clearly not George Lynch, but fans will love what John and Billy White cooked up.  A strong follow-up called “1000 Miles Away” sits in a comfortable mid-tempo rock zone.  It’s not a ballad, it’s not a rocker, but it’s somewhere in between.  Hit material.  The album’s single was a track called “Mirror Mirror”, with a stuttery Van Halen riff.  The lyrics are very telling:

“Mirror mirror, on the wall,
Seven years, I survived them all,
Mirror mirror, tell me more,
If that was love, then love is war.”

Dokken had a roughly seven-year long life as a recording band, so think what you will.

A lot of Up From the Ashes fits into a nice little hard rock box, a little smoother around than edges than classic Dokken, but strong as ever.  “When Some Nights” has a similar vibe to “1000 Miles Away”, and there are many others.  No real weak songs abide within.  There are only a few that are head and shoulders standouts.  Among these is “Living a Lie”, a sharp Norum co-write with a Europe-like sound.  Also up there, “Give It Up” is a brief blast of rock.  “Stay” leans in a slightly more pop direction, successfully so.

Drony ballads are less impressive.  “When Love Finds a Fool” is fortunately the only one, which does at least boast some impressive musical contributions from all the players.  The momentum is killed by starting side two with this slow Scorpions-wannabe.  Another issue is a slightly damp production, which makes the drums sound woefully underpowered.  This is a shame since Mikkey Dee is such a drum demon.

With Up From the Ashes, Don re-established himself.  Nobody could accuse him of leaning on George Lynch.  With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, this band really should have been called Dokken.

3.5/5 stars


#529: Demanufacture

GETTING MORE TALE #529: Demanufacture

When a store buys and sells used CDs, theft is an ongoing problem.  It’s not the left of your own stock that is the issue.  Used CDs are usually kept safely behind the counter in 99% of stores.  The theft headache is more a problem of people selling stolen goods to you.

We have discussed these issues here in the past [click the links for the full stories].  In order to combat theft, all customers selling used goods had to be 18 years or older, with valid government issued photo ID.  No photo ID, no sell.  People would get pissy about it (“I have to show you ID to sell one CD?”) but that was the law in the province of Ontario.  We didn’t make it, we just followed it.  To a “T”.  That was our responsibility and how we protected ourselves.

Stolen CDs are not easy to identify at a glance.  They don’t come in with glowing security dye on them.  They look like any other CD.  Sometimes they are sealed, but what does that prove?  Only that the disc was never opened.  I have lots of CDs here that have not been opened yet.  The best clue might be if a young Korn-looking kid came in selling a well-stocked jazz collection.  (Yes, that’s profiling.)  It was often an indicator that a kid may have ripped off mom or dad’s CD collection.  Sadly this happened a handful of times in my 12 years at the store, and once to a customer that I knew.  He was ripped off by his own son.

We did our part by taking the ID.  We also diligently recorded every single disc bought from customers.  Every single one.  Whether you sold one CD or 150 CDs, we had to write down every last title.  (Before we had computers to do it with, anyway — the cops hated our penmanship.)  This helped police track possible stolen property…but only if the victims reported it stolen.  If they said, “I lost 150 discs,” that doesn’t help.  If they instead reported, “I lost 150 discs, mostly jazz.  There was a Miles Davis Bitches Brew, Sketches of Spain, Kind of Blue, Milestones, and Tutu…” then they might have a chance.  Those titles were less common and should stand out among the fodder.

When T-Rev and I were working at the first store in the chain, at a small mall, we used to get unfortunate calls about stolen property infrequently.  The guy who worked at Dr. Disc downtown was one such victim, who put an A.P.B. out for his lost collection.  He lost a number of Beatles discs, but he marked them with a piece of tinfoil under the CD tray.  It was rare that we’d see the stolen items, but on one occasion in 1995, we were able to save the day for one particular customer.

stencil-guyPeter the Rocker was a regular.  The legend goes that he painted the Metallica “stencil guy” on the hood of his car.  His Austrian accent made him sound more “metal”.  He once announced loudly, “Hey, someone shit their fucking pants in this store!”  (Everybody could smell it, apparently, except the perpetrator who approached the counter to ask questions.  We backed up as far as we could and tried not to breathe.)

He came in to see T-Rev one afternoon, quite upset because a number of his CDs were stolen.  He gave Trevor a list.  As mentioned, it would be helpful when a list like this contained at least one “rare” or “uncommon” title.  Peter the Rocker’s rare title was the latest Fear Factory album, Demanufacture.  It was the new imported limited edition digipack with three bonus tracks.

Lo and behold, a kid came in later and sold the Demanufacture digipack with bonus tracks.  The police and Peter were alerted.

The police came in, got our records, and tracked down the young seller.  “You sold these CDs.  Which of these is the one that you can only get on special import?”  The kid couldn’t answer.  He didn’t know because they weren’t his.  They were Peter’s.

This is a fine example of the customer, the store, and law enforcement working together to get results.  Peter got his CDs back, happily so.  The kid got busted, and we got to be the good guys by helping to get this done.

Crime doesn’t pay!


REVIEW: Metallica – “Lords of Summer” vinyl & download singles (2014)

img_20161120_080611METALLICA  – “Lords of Summer” (2014 Blackened Record Store Day single, additional download versions)

This past Friday, Metallica ended the eight-year long wait for a new album and put out the sharp-edged Hardwired…To Self-Destruct.  If you go for the deluxe edition (a measly $16!) then you’ll get the full 78 minute studio album and a bonus CD (to be reviewed later) with another 14 tracks.  That’s another 79 minutes of metal for a grand total of $16.  The value is insane.

Cast your minds back to 2014.  Metallica, embarking on a summer tour, released a new single called “Lords of Summer”.  The concept of “Lords of Summer” was pretty simple.  It’s a song about touring season, and it was one of the new pieces of music that the band were working on for the next album.  Ultimately, a slightly shorter and re-recorded “Lords of Summer” was included on the bonus CD for Hardwired.  The vinyl single (Record Store Day, limited to 4000 copies) has the original “First Pass Version” (8:20).  This was also made available via download.  If you’re already familiar with “Lords of Summer” then this is the version you know.  The “First Pass” is not as polished as Hardwired, but similar in direction with the same focus on metal riffs and melody.  Like much of the album, “Lords of Summer” careens from riff to riff blasting away at different tempos.  While not one of Metallica’s most remarkable songs, it has some cool individual riffs cooked up within it.

For the sake of completion, we should also discuss the “Garage Demo Version” of “Lords of Summer”.  This was included as a bonus track with Metallica’s official live downloads from that tour.  It was first played in Bogota Columbia, March 16 2014.  The “Garage Demo” (also 8:20) is different recording from the “First Pass”; very similar but even rougher.  Fans familiar with Metallica’s usual demos know that they are often so rough that the lyrics are not yet in place.  This time, the song was already fully formed in its demo stage.

The Record Store Day vinyl single contained a bonus live version, recorded in Rome on July 1 2014.  By that time the band had been playing it all summer, so it’s tight.  Kirk’s solo is drowned out in the mix, but of course you can hear the drums loud and clear.  Compare this to the version in Bogota, which captures the song played live for the first time ever.  The arrangement is the same, but it’s still coming together in Bogota.  The Roman version demonstrates that practice makes perfect.  But why stop there?  There are a total of 33 different live versions available for download on Metallica’s site!

There is one last bonus, which is the etched B-side on the Record Store Day vinyl.  Admittedly it looks pretty…but it’s just an “M”.  It’s minimalist cool, but what happened?…they couldn’t afford to etch the etallica?


For this review, we listened to the following:

  1. “First Pass Version” (8:20, available as single download or on vinyl Record Store Day single)
  2. “Garage Demo Version” (8:20, available with purchase of a concert at LiveMetallica)
  3. July 1, 2014, Rome Italy (8:48, available on vinyl Record Store Day single or for download at LiveMetallica)
  4. March 16, 2014, Bogota Columbia (9:18, available for download at LiveMetallica)

With 31 more live versions online, plus the new album version at 7:09, there are in total 36 official versions of “Lords of Summer” out there to consume.  Happy hunting.

3/5 stars