RECORD STORE TALES MkII:
Getting More Tale
Music, Movies, and more
How things have changed at the cottage in just two years. It is true that Kincardine is not far from Bruce Nuclear. What’s new is the mandatory early warning system (in case of meltdown) and government-issued emergency iodine pills! Welcome to the atomic age. Cottage essentials used to be beach towels, a few candles if the power went out, and lots of card games. Now it’s distant early warnings and nuclear iodine pills!
This CD was given to me by Uncle Meat for the purpose of reviewing. Unfortunately I was too slow and Paul didn’t live to read it. For that I’m sorry.
With Hawksley Workman in the production chair, one expects great sonics and perhaps just a touch of “weird”. The opening track “Ghosts” has a familiar piano-based “bop” that is reminiscent of Workman. This delightful little track is upbeat with just a slight sense of melancholy. Moving on to “Cruelty”, the song has a strange aura that sounds as if you’re playing it on vinyl. This electric song really showcases how versatile MacLeod’s voice was. “Cruelty” does not easily escape from the memory.
Sadness and loneliness are two prevailing feelings on “Schopenhauer’s”, a beautiful acoustic tune. “Gloat” adds a base of electric guitar for a rock solid foundation. On top of this, Paul sings his soul out. “All I could ever do was, was be but a crutch to you.” The mood flows into the next tune “Pools of Blue” which speaks of regret. This changes to anger on “Broken Wing”. “She’s feeding the bullshit, a mouthful at a time.” A tense little guitar lick goes on until the brilliant chorus releases it. “Broken Wing” is an easy contender for best track on the album.
After the emotional peak of “Broken Wing”, it’s nice to go back to mellow on “Listen Mary”. Its love acoustic guitar solo is a definite highlight. “Giants”, another upbeat catchy number, would also be a peak point.
Closing the CD is “Stanley Steamer”, initially a shock as it begins with uncharacteristic electronic sound effects. This soon turns into a humourous look back to an era long gone. Paul’s song sounds as if it could have been born in that past decade. One thing Paul had a talent for was tapping into the musical feelings of the past, like a human time machine.
Check out this fantastic CD by Paul MacLeod the Musical Tardis.
I will be going LIVE at 12:30 AM (ET) Saturday morning with Robert Daniels on VISIONS IN SOUND. Tune in on your dial to 98.5 or internet to CKWR! You folks in the UK can tune in as you enjoy some morning java!
Rob says: “May is Star Wars month on Visions In Sound and we will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary with a slew of special shows. Joining me this week will be special guests Jason Drury, Michael Ladano & Erik Woods to help with the celebration. Featured music will be from the original Star Wars trilogy (John Williams). Join Us THIS Saturday 12:30-2:30am (ET)”
The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Supplemental: Peter Criss solo #2.
Life after wasn’t easy for the cat known as Peter Criss. His first post-Kiss album was met with indifference, and the superior second LP suffered the same fate. This marked an 11 year gap before the Catman released anything else. Let Me Rock You, Peter’s third solo album in total remains his best to date. It has a number of Kiss konnections, including a song written for Kiss by Gene Simmons. Looking further down the credits and you’ll find Billy Idol guitarist Steve Stevens, Paul Stanley’s co-writer Adam Mitchell, and a young upstart named Vincent Cusano, who features into the main story very soon.
Let Me Rock You is the better of the Criss albums for a number of reasons. One is that is has superior songs, often pulled from outside sources. Another is that returning producer Vini Poncia gave it a harder rocking sound. It’s still nowhere near a Kiss LP, but the adult contemporary leanings are severely curtailed. Opener “Let It Go” has a little bit of the familiar R&B beat that Criss likes, but is otherwise a steady rocker. “Tears” (Cusano/Mitchell) is a pop rocker that missed the mark just enough that John Waite was able to make it a hit a mere two years later. Peter’s version is less overblown, and daresay more likeable.
Most of the songs have a vague pop rock vibe circa 1982: “Move on Over”, “Destiny”, and “Bad Boys” sound like rock hits from the period. Bon Jovi’s early excursions are not too far from this. A Russ Ballard song called “Some Kinda’ Hurricane” fits the same mold, but a second Ballard tune (the better of the two) is completely different. “Let Me Rock You” is doo-wop right out of the 1950s. If “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is OK, then so is “Let Me Rock You”. In fact it’s the most fun track on the album.
The unfortunate cover of John Lennon’s “Jealous Guy” adds nothing to the party except a reminder that Peter Criss will never be as good as the artists he so admires. The worst track is Stevens’ ballad “First Day in the Rain”, which might have been a better song performed by…anyone else. Peter sleeps right through this one and some listeners will have a hard time finishing. Keep going though; Stevens plays a sweltering guitar solo. Elsewhere on the album, Steve Lukather contributes six string.
By far the most historically interesting track is the Simmons-penned “Feel Like Heaven”. A snip of the original Simmons demo, for consideration during the Music From the Elder sessions, can be found on the previously reviewed Kiss – Deadly Demos CD. It’s too funky and danceable for Kiss, but Peter sounds more at home. It is a shame that the (very vulgar!) Simmons original has yet to be released. Until then, feast on the Peter Criss version, which is good enough for now.
Although Let Me Rock You was the first album to feature Peter’s unmasked face, it failed to sell and Peter entered a long period of obscurity. A short-lived band called Balls of Fire was followed by a project with another ex-Kiss member called Mark St. John (who joins the main story in 1984). He wrote with Buffalo’s own Phil Naro of Talas, and did a guest shot on Ace Frehley’s 1989 solo album Trouble Walkin’. His biggest humiliation had to be when a homeless imposter claimed to be him with little difficulty since nobody had seen Peter Criss in so long. It didn’t seem too unbelievable…even if there was no resemblance at all.
(l) Criss (r) imposter
At least Peter has one decent solo album, and that album is Let Me Rock You.
To be continued…
I first became aware of Tim “Too Slim” Langford when he and the Taildraggers played Kitchener Blues Fest 2013. I heard them on the radio and immediately called in. My comment was that it sounded like “dirty ZZ blues”, and that’s still a suitable description. Gravelly vocals, references to the “muddy Mississippi”, and bluesy electric guitar licks definitely put them in that category. The Blue Heart album was recorded in Nashville but this is electric blues!
Whether you like it blastin’ loud (“Wash My Hands”) or slow & miserable (“Minutes Seem Like Hours”), Too Slim has something for the electric blues fan in you. There’s some honkin’ harmonica on “Blue Heart” to go with the greasy guitar.
Mixing rock and blues is a very precise science. Too much rock and it turns to cheese. Too Slim has a recipe here that works. Blue Heart is a great sounding CD, crisp and edgy. The song titles say it all. “When Whiskey Was My Friend” is a colourful title that should paint a picture of what it sounds like. Dig into the energy, feel the pain and rock your blues away.
Best track: “If You Broke My Heart”. Blazing hot and cool as ice!
This was a 200 word review in the tradition of the #200wordchallenge.
GETTING MORE TALE #566: Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!
1998. I had just moved in with the legendary T-Rev. Two Record Store managers under one roof. Can you imagine the CD collections? We used to marvel at the wall of discs. Two CD towers, massive ones, side by side. We’d boast that nowhere else in town would you find two copies of Metallica’s Garage Days in the same place. Same went for many of our rare singles and imports. Finding one was difficult enough, but with our combined collections we often had two. You could come over for a drink and end up spending hours just going through our collections.
T-Rev and I had a lot of fun, although as it turned out, I wasn’t the right guy to have a roommate. I’m a real early to bed, early to rise kind of guy and our wake/sleep cycles didn’t really work out. Having said that, I wouldn’t trade those months for the world! I’d never fallen asleep on the floor before, but we had some pretty epic parties. It was also the first time I’d woken up to find girls in the apartment! Yeah, we had good times. When we weren’t partying, we’d be playing video games on the good old N64. Goldeneye was a staple. Duke Nukem and Top Gear Rally were regular go-to’s.
Another thing we had fun with was our answering machine. We couldn’t just have a normal answering machine message. One weekend, Trevor went out to see a Britpop band who I can’t remember. Supergrass? One of those. They met the manager Andy who kept on hitting on the girlfriends. So Trevor came home and did an answering machine message with a British accent. “You’ve reached Trevor, Michael and Andy! Leave a message after the beep!” That confused a few people. “Who is that British guy who is living with you?”
T-Rev was also a big fan of Jerry Springer. I’d never really watched before, but T-Rev was into it. The fights, the yelling, the chanting of “Jerry! Jerry! Jerry!”…we found it all terribly entertaining. In particular, I liked Jerry’s “final thought”. That’s the part of the show where he somehow simultaneously agrees with all parties on the episode.
Our enjoyment of the chaos of the Jerry Springer show led to a couple tributes.
T-Rev came up with a sign idea, and I wish he was able to put it up in the store. It was a “no shirt no shoes no service” sign that said:
Because highschool is free,
And Jerry Springer does not work here,
Shirts and shoes must be worn in store.
Yeah, shirts and shoes were an ongoing summer issue. When I once asked a guy to put on a shirt, his answer was “Why, are you serving food here?” I just didn’t want to watch that bead of sweat dripping off his nipple ring.
It only made sense that we should honour the mighty Jerry Springer Show with a new answering machine message. I did it up:
“Thank you for calling the offices of the Jerry Springer Show! If you’re a white trash mother who’s pissed off at your little white trash daughter, press one! If you’re a white trash daughter who can’t stand your bitchy mother, press two! For all others leave a message after the beep!”
People were used to bizarre answering machine messages from us by now.
The best response to it came from the boss at the old Record Store. He called one evening we were out, and left a message asking if one of us could cover a shift. And he ended the message by saying, “Oh, and I’ll take option two. Thank you.” He was a good sport.
There is an informal rule that a band should have at least three albums out before they entertain the idea of a live or “greatest hits” release. Aerosmith obviously had lots of albums out in 1994, but on two different labels: Columbia, and Geffen. Their 1994 best of, not-so-cleverly titled Big Ones, drew from only three Geffen albums. Therein lies its weakness, though Aerosmith have often had issues trying to balance their classic and pop hit eras on compilations. Big Ones is easily made redundant by later compilations, but how is it for a straight listen?
A long one: 73 minutes with lots of hits and perhaps a few too many ballads, although there is no denying their chart power.
Three songs were new to the majority of buyers. “Deuces Are Wild” was a fine ballad, one of their best from this era. It wasn’t entirely new; it was written for Pump and considered for Get A Grip before being released in 1993 on the Beavis and Butt-head Experience CD. The other two were brand new recordings: “Walk on Water” and “Blind Man”. Fans who dug the heavy Aerosmith on tunes like “Eat the Rich” will enjoy “Walk on Water” as one of their harder rockers. OK song, but long forgotten now. Unfortunately “Blind Man” is just another ballad, this one similar to “What It Takes” from Pump. It’s the better of the two new songs, but sadly another ballad is not what Big Ones needed.
Making this CD even less valuable to buyers, every single track is on the later album Young List: The Aerosmith Anthology (2001). Even the three new songs!
Otherwise Big Ones plays much like a run-though of Aerosmith’s radio staples that you can hear on the FM dial just about everywhere. Each and every big hit from the three massive Geffen albums is here. How often do you need to hear “Crazy”, “Cryin'”, “Amazing”, “Janie”, “Rag Doll”, “Angel”, “Dude”, “Elevator” and the rest? That is up to you.
Even the cover art is devoid of imagination.
Heir to the throne of the Trailer Park Boys: Letterkenny has arrived!
And what the hell is a “Letterkenny”? It’s a fictional town in southern Ontario, named after a real town in Ireland, and based upon the real life Listowel Ontario (birthplace of Helix). It was however filmed in northerly Sudbury Ontario. According to the tagline for this Canadian comedy show, “Letterkenny consists of hicks, skids, hockey players and Christians. These are their problems.” And that pretty much sums ‘er up.
Creators Jared Keeso and Jacob Tierney tapped into something real about living in rural southern Ontario. The produce stands, the accents, the personalities. Keeso, who plays lead character Wayne, has mastered a dialect so fast and witty that multiple viewings are required just to understand all the jokes. Keeso may be better known to readers as Don Cherry from TV’s The Don Cherry Story. Comparing this show to Trailer Park Boys is natural as both shows are proudly Canadian and crude. Dare I say it, Letterkenny is smarter and more likable.
Keeso plays Wayne, a “hick” (he’s a farmer) who seems to make a decent living with his roadside produce stand. Anyone who has spent any time driving from town to town in rural Ontario knows the allure of a well stocked produce stand. Wayne is the toughest guy in town, never loses a fight, and still you can’t help but like him. His best friend Daryl (“Dairy”) is a loyal sidekick. So is the smart and super-sized Squirrely Dan. Wayne’s super-hot sister Katy Kat is sought by other players in town: Jonesy and Reilly, two wanna-be hockey losers, and Stewart the meth-making goth. Their adventures and agendas often collide in amusing ways.
When the show begins, Wayne is a bit of a broken man, having been dumped by his girlfriend. His girl didn’t lets him get in fights y’see, and his reputation as toughest guy in town has been long lost. Time’s to reclaims it! One by one, challengers arrive: Sled Ted, Rat Ass, and Joint Boy. If Wayne can take back the Toughest Guy in Town title, then other adventures lay ahead, such as creating a new popular fart sharing website called Fartbook. They also start a pest control business while Wayne continues to search for love (or at least action).
The idiosyncratic dialogue is so quick and slippery that just about every line is quotable. Certain phrases recur: “Let’s take about 5-10% off it over there Squirrely Dan.” “Not my forte.” “Hard no.” “Pump the brakes.” “That’s what I appreciates about you Katy.” Pay attention, because you’ll also hear about a couple deviants named the Ginger and Boots. And the boys might just need backup from the Ginger and Boots by the season finale.
Shows with a Canadian heart and such likable characters combined with lightning fast wit are few and far between. Letterkenny, now standing at two seasons, is the one not to miss.
Sammy Hagar released his solo album I Never Said Goodbye in 1987, right when he was still in Van Halen. It was co-produced by Sammy and Eddier himself. It was a mixed bag, with some killer tunes and a few things that were far too wimpy. A couple singles were released, and “Give to Live” was the best. As a power ballad, it probably could have suited any of the Van Hagar albums except For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. That’s Eddie on bass, by the way, and listen to how great he is. No surprise, right? When you’re as great at music as Eddie Van Halen is, it must be hard for other musicians to cut it in his eyes. (Cough cough Michael Anthony cough.)
Also on the A-side is album opener “When the Hammer Falls”, an OK rock track. As discussed in the album review for I Never Said Goodbye, “When the Hammer Falls” has a good riff but not much of a chorus. That’s too bad since it was one of the hardest rockers on the LP. (And just listen to Eddie’s bass…again!) you can’t hit a homerun every time, though there’s nothing here to be embarrassed of.
If you buy the single, there’s no point unless you get the 12″ with the non-album bonus track. On the B-side you will find the full-length version of “Standin’ at the Same Old Crossroads”, which was only 1:46 on album. It served as an introduction to the song “Privacy”, but on this single it’s unedited. This is a real treat for fans of Sammy’s underappreciated guitar playing. The song is just Sammy and an electric slide guitar, bluesing it up. The intro is longer and there’s a lot more playing than the album version. Stuff like this is the reason to have B-sides and buy singles in the first place.