RECORD STORE TALES MkII:
Getting More Tale
- OLD DIRECTORY OF REVIEWS (not updated – use search)
An incredible drummer from an incredible band, Reed Mullin had his demons. Alcohol took him down, like so many before him. Mullin, a founding member of Corrosion of Conformity, will be remembered by his rich hardcore and heavy metal discography.
In recent years as alcohol took its toll, Reed was absent from some COC performances and suffered a seizure in 2016. It was not looking good for the rock warrior, and now we know his particular battle has been lost.
Mullin drummed on one of my personal favourite albums, Deliverance, one of the best rock records of the 1990s. From that album, here is “Albatross”. Rest in peace Reed.
The Goo Goo Dolls were made for the 90s. When the big bands dropped off the charts, where were we to get our fix of melodic rock with acoustic ballads? From Buffalo, NY. Their sixth Goos album, Dizzy Up the Girl, was the latest in a stream of albums that got progressively less punk and more acoustic. It was also their first album with critically acclaimed new drummer Mike Malinin, and the first since they had a huge single in “Name”. It’s no surprise they went further in that direction.
Commercial intents aside, Dizzy Up the Girl is a remarkable album. Every song helmed by singer/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik boasts an explosive chorus. The four tracks with bassist Robby Takac singing are the ones that maintain a punk aesthetic, but with a refined sense of composition.
Lead track “Dizzy” is the first of many great single-worthy choruses. In fact it was a single, though not the biggest of the bunch. That would of course be Iris, previously issued on the soundtrack to City of Angels. The 90s were not that much different from the 80s when it came down to it, and a power ballad is what made the Goos a household name. Better than Iris though is the single “Slide”. It charted just as high as “Iris” (#1) in the US and Canada. Unlike “Iris”, “Slide” has a driving acoustic vibe. It’s the kind of tune Extreme made their bread and butter with, like “Hole Hearted”.
Two years after “Iris”, the album was still producing singles. “Broadway” is just as good as “Slide” with more emphasis on the electric guitar. It has an earthy, down home quality. “Black Balloon”, another single, takes it back to acoustic with harmonics, and strings added by Canadian David Campbell (father of Beck). Even without the accompaniment it’s one of their biggest and best choruses.
Takac’s four tunes (“January Friend”, “Amigone”, “Full Forever”, and “Extra Pale”) are great breaks between Rzeznik’s more mainstream crooning. Robby’s rasp isn’t commercial but it’s the only real link back to their punk rock days. His songs don’t suck. “Amigone” (pronounced “Am I Gone”) sticks to the brain like chunky peanut butter.
Four of the five singles are top-loaded onto the front of the album, normally a death knell for a solid listen. Not in this case. The Goos boasted album tracks as good as their singles. “Acoustic #3” is good enough to be yet another single. “Bullet Proof”, with its driving guitar, could have been the album opener. The chorus lifts off to the atmosphere. It’s the kind of chorus you expected from the 1980s, not the 1990s. A dramatic “All Eyes On Me” could also have been a solid album opener. All they need is a closer! Nope, they got that too: “Hate This Place” winds things up nicely the way it began. “Hold on, dream away, you’re my sweet charade.”
Dizzy Up the Girl might not be up your alley, but in the 90s, choice was more limited. It was hard to find mainstream rock that didn’t suck. This one stands the test of time, with a collection of excellent guitar-based tunes that fit the mold.
A couple weeks ago, we looked at “limited edition” CDs once more. Today, we follow up with a postscript reinforcing everything we discussed last time.
To recap: Deep Purple have been issuing live albums from a recent “limited edition series”, but all is not as it appears on the surface. As shown last time, the record company (Edel) couldn’t be bothered to even print the number of your limited edition on the sleeve, instead relegating it to a sticker. That was on a copy of the second album in the series, Rome 2013.
Today I received my copy of the first release in the series, Newcastle 2001. This is a track-for-track reissue of discs 5 & 6 of the 2001 Soundboard Series box set. This time the discs have been “remastered” though there is surely nothing wrong with the original release. They have also been numbered as part of a limited edition run. Mine is copy #4222/20,000.
But wait! Didn’t our friend Heavy Metal Overlord, who got his copy far earlier, have a higher number?
He sure did — #8616. Proof that it doesn’t matter how early you order these things. It will have little impact on the number you receive. It’s also proof that there are plenty of copies to go around. Confirmed: you can take your time to order this “limited” release.
This time, however, I’m complaining about a little bit of false advertising. There is a sticker on the front that says “only 2000 copies worldwide”. A bit of a typo there. 20,000 is the correct number. There’s quite a bit of difference between the two. And we still don’t know if that is for CDs, or both CD and vinyl copies.
Once again, we state what should be obvious: if the record companies can’t be bothered to get these “limited editions” right, then why should we care?
Refer yourselves back to Record Store Tales Part 52: Air Guitar. Playing air guitar is fun! It’s healthy! It’s good for you and it’ll burn the calories something fierce.
This past summer I was rocking out to the track “Set Your Sails” by Deadline. I was at the cottage, really digging the notes, and just started spontaneously jamming out. I was alone and I thought, “Maybe I should film myself”. So I did and now I’m finally over how stupid I look.
I enjoy this interview with Neil Peart, because it touches on something that I love about music: A good lyric is open to vast interpretation by the listener. Inevitably, we are going to derive our own meaning from the lyrics regardless of what the writer intended. Take this review by my buddy Aaron Lebold. “Distant Early Warning” had a meaning completely unique to him. Meanwhile, it had a very different meaning to me.
In this clip from the Presto tour, Neil Peart discusses crafting lyrics with MuchMusic. It’s a brilliant lesson from The Professor so pay attention!
Wishing Ozzy and his family all the best with his recent Parkinson’s diagnosis.
GETTING MORE TALE #810: So Tired
I don’t know what I expected the first time I saw Ozzy Osbourne on TV. All I knew of him was that he was supposedly a drug-crazed metal madman. What I saw on TV was a blonde guy in a cowboy hat. Certainly not how he had been described to me. Just an ordinary guy? I didn’t know any of his music yet, just the name and a little bit of the reputation.
I began learning a little bit more during one of my childhood basement VHS taping sessions in 1985. George came over with his tape collection and I recorded clip after clip of rock and metal from him. It was a feast! Imagine getting all the key early videos by Ozzy, Dio, Twisted Sister, Black Sabbath and more in one afternoon. All this new music! All these new artists! I only knew a few faces and names.
It was actually only Carmine Appice that I knew from Ozzy’s band. The distinguished looking drummer, with his jet black hair and cool-as-fuck moustache was prominent in the video for “Bark at the Moon”. I knew him from King Kobra. There was no mistaking Carmine.
I taped a few Ozzy videos from George that day. He only started making music videos in 1983 for Bark at the Moon. There was nothing to represent the Randy Rhoads years — “Crazy Train” wasn’t released until 1987. The videos I had collected to date were a live concert version of “Paranoid” from the Bark tour, “So Tired”, and “Bark at the Moon” itself.
“Paranoid” featured Jake E. Lee on guitar, but I certainly didn’t know his name. I wouldn’t have known it was a Black Sabbath song or anything else about it. I couldn’t tell what he was singing or shouting at the crowd. “Get your hands on it!” I thought I heard him shout. Hands on what? I assumed it was something that went over my head, but all this really proves is that it doesn’t matter what a rock star is yelling at an audience. They just have to sound cool yelling it. He could have been shouting “Eat Grapenuts!” and it still would have sounded cool. Sure Ozzy, I’ll have some Grapenuts. I also misheard him singing “I can’t find” as “Yeah yeah fight!” When you don’t know the words, your mind fills in the blanks.
Over the years, Ozzy has taken a lot of flak from religious circles for lyrics that promote suicide. There is no way I was getting “suicide” from that performance of that song. I wasn’t getting anything! Rock haters — you can’t have it both ways. You don’t get to say “You can’t understand the words” and “The lyrics cause drug abuse and suicide”. You can’t have both at the same time. All Ozzy caused in my household was turning up the volume knob on the TV set.
The most puzzling thing Ozzy had done to that point might be the single/video “So Tired”. Even to people well aware of Ozzy’s career, the video was more than odd. So imagine a kid like me in 1985 with no Black Sabbath or Ozzy albums. That music video was peculiar to say the least.
Playing multiple characters, Ozzy seems to occupy a Victorian village, where he performs at the local opera house. He’s also an old man, and there’s a guy with a decaying face, and another guy with one lopsided eye. In the 80s, you see, you had to have a guy with a lopsided eye. Black Sabbath had one in “Zero the Hero”. An orchestra covered in cobwebs accompanies Ozzy at the playhouse. Then Ozzy, garbed in black with sequins, shoos the ballet dancers off the stage. Oh look! There’s Abraham Lincoln in the balcony. Not for long!
The lopsided eye guy (a stage hand presumably) suddenly pulls a knife, cuts a rope, and drops a sandbag on Ozzy’s foot! Meanwhile, the stage manager (played by Ozzy) feeds Ozzy his lines in frustration. Then an Ozzy with a Hitler moustache emerges on a riser playing piano. Again, remember, Black Sabbath had a Hitlerstache guy in “Zero the Hero”! By the time Lincoln hit the floor, I was utterly baffled.
Couple this with the fact that the song is a lush, campy ballad with strings and piano. Not the kind of song I associated with the heavy metal madman. I didn’t know of his history with ballads like “Changes”, nor was I aware of his love for John Lennon. I thought “So Tired” had to be a joke! The only guitar is in the brief solo. Ozzy certainly couldn’t be doing this kind of music seriously. Could he?
“So Tired” is cheesy, but that doesn’t take away that it’s actually a pretty great ballad. The song (like the entire album) is credited solely to Ozzy. I think Bob Daisley probably wrote it with Ozzy, maybe even Don Airey was involved. There’s no way Ozzy wrote it alone.
The video though, that’s still to do this day one of the most outlandish things Ozzy’s ever committed to celuloid (and he had a reality TV show). Like an Ed Wood film, it stumbles far beyond being bad, instead becoming some sort of ugly but priceless treasure. I can’t stress this enough — at the time, Ozzy only had two official music videos. One was “Bark at the Moon” and the other was “So Tired”. We didn’t have much to judge Ozzy by, and it’s safe to say that “So Tired” threw us all for a loop!
Three young local lads united their computing power and formed the Seagram Synth Ensemble: James Dowbiggin, Dave Klassen, and James Reesor. Armed with Korgs, Moogs and Rolands, the trio recorded a remarkable new album called No Moving Air.
With a slightly minimalist bent, No Moving Air is a full-length album that can serve as a soundtrack for any quiet night. Mixing new and old instruments, the synths form relaxing soundscapes with recurring patterns. Hard to describe, but easy to listen to. Floating in space, or under the sea — it is easy to close your eyes and put yourself in another world. Some of the sounds resemble those recorded under Antarctic ice (“Amphiquarium”). Others are dark, but not uninviting. Everything seems to flow, except when flipping the record!
Handily there is a diagram on the back, done in the style of an electrical flow chart, to tell you when to “invert disc”. The striking back cover (designed by James Dowbiggin) is more interesting than the front! The lovely clear aqua blue vinyl was an unexpected surprise.
Moving on to side two, a hint of rhythm augments the epic length title track. There’s a cool synth bell section and a variety of moods. 16 minutes well spent, though you might lose track of where and when you are! The last few minutes are killer.
Without much experience in synthesizer music, this comes highly recommended. It’s memorable and warm. It has a niche and fills it nicely.
I had already started a Rush marathon just hours before the news hit that Neil Peart had passed away from brain cancer. Why did I choose Rush at that exact moment? It’s not proof, but it’s certainly makes me wonder about premonitions.
I’ve been on a Rush binge ever since. I have been listening to nothing but Rush with only two exceptions. I listened to one album by another artist that I wanted to review, and I listened to something else (Hollywood Vampires) in the car. I didn’t have any Rush on the car flash drive.
In that time (a week) I’ve listened to every Rush studio album, some of them more than once. (Even the early Rush without Neil.) When I cycled through all the studio stuff I moved onto live albums, which I am still enjoying. The first four Rush live albums (All the World’s a Stage, Exit…Stage Left, A Show of Hands, and Different Stages) really form a cohesive story. You can listen and hear the band grow, evolve, change, and adapt.
Most of the live albums past that point weren’t on my computer yet (something I am remedying now) but I still had plenty more live stuff to enjoy from a variety of sources. A Farewell to Kings has two discs worth of live Rush added. (I have the deluxe Hemispheres with another live album coming in the mail.) There is also Grace Under Pressure Live from the Rush Replay X3 box set. A live bootleg called Red Stars of the Solar Federation from 1981. A couple radio broadcasts from 1974 and 1975.
What I’ve gained from all this Rush immersion is not only new appreciation, but old memories re-emerging. Although 70s Rush is absolutely essential music, it was 80s Rush that hooked me in and still thrills me today. Albums like Moving Pictures and Signals were played multiple times during my marathon. Hold Your Fire and Grace Under Pressure were enjoyed more than once. I grew up in the 80s when Rush were in constant rotation on MuchMusic. Songs like “Subdivisions”, “Tom Sawyer”, “Distant Early Warning”, “Lock and Key”, and “Time Stand Still”. Although not an 80s album, Counterparts is very special to me as well. It was my first Rush studio album. I think it’s magnificent and contains many triumphs within. It’s the culmination of all the evolution that happened from Presto onwards. Its followup, Test for Echo, unfortunately remains a low point in the discography. I remember feeling the same in 1996 when it came it. It just wouldn’t click with me and still won’t.
As brilliant Neil Peart was, my appreciation is balanced. It’s about Rush. The lyrics would not have the same impact without the voice. The voice would be naked and bare without the guitar. All three guys stand out when you listen to all the Rush like this. There are spotlight moments for Neil, Geddy and Alex as individuals but that’s not what this marathon reinforces. Rush is a band — an exceptionally great band, where the players can shine more than other bands because there are only three of them.
Only three dudes? I know, even this guy can’t believe it!
“There’s no way! There’s no way this is three dudes!”
I have plenty more live Rush albums to spin, so the marathon carries on. I’m grateful we have so much Rush. Some bands don’t deserve to release so many live albums and box sets. Rush do. They’re allowed for two reasons. One is a rich history with many nooks and crannies to explore. The other is sheer quality. They never put out something they weren’t proud of.
Thank you for the music — I ain’t finished yet!
I’ve been making videos for over 30 years. It’s important, when possible, to keep your source material. It’s necessary if you ever feel like revisiting your work. Or, if you feel like presenting “previously unseen material” to your audience as new content.
Here are some outtakes representing the last 30 years of making videos. You’ve never seen ’em before and I hope you enjoy!
If you happen to find a 6″ Mandalorian Black Series action figure, snag it — those things are going for crazy money in resale. As of this writing, Amazon.ca is asking $80 for one (ridiculous).
I continued scrolling, looking for a better deal. What I found was…chuckle-worthy.
Mandalorian Handjob by “Harlotte Sometimes” is available to read, but only on Kindle!
“Fapper Oden Zero sets off on his first Galactic adventure. From his home planet in the Gamma System, the young man sees opportunity; Coruscant and the Core Worlds promise riches for the quick and the clever when the Republic finally falls. Oden signs on with a freighter. One last night of freedom tempts him. ‘Who is that innocent, sexy, seductive blonde?’ he asks. ‘Did she really just wink at me?'”
It turns out that Harlotte Sometimes is a prolific author with 16 titles under their belt. These include Bachelor in Space and Hard For Hillary.
I’ve only dipped a toe into reading fan fiction, and never the naughty kind. Maybe I’m missing out. For those with a pantsuit fetish, I recommend Hard For Hillary. If you’re more into tall, dark, and heavily armoured, maybe Mandalorian Handjob is for you!