HELIX: Best Of 1983-2012 (Anthology, 2012 Helix Records)
Just in time for the hockey season — or not? — here comes Helix with a brand new single called “All I Want For Christmas Is the Leafs to Win the Cup”. It’s on 7″ vinyl, but in case you can’t play vinyl, you can still get that track on their brand new anthology as a bonus track. I’m going to let Mrs. LeBrain review the single. Let’s talk about the anthology.
The packaging is a bit skimpy, but Brian Vollmer autographs every copy that you order from his site, so that makes up for the lack of a booklet, in my opinion. I’ve always been about owning a physical product, and if a CD doesn’t have a booklet to flip through, an autograph helps make up for that.
A lot of people (if you’re reading this, say hello!) don’t care about owning a physical product; to them it’s all about the music. So let’s talk about the music.
Helix have lots of hits compilations out there available, but nothing that covers this range of material. I’m really fond of the albums that Helix has made in more recent years. Vagabond Bones and The Power of Rock and Roll are both up there among the band’s best work, and one of my favourite Helix albums ever is B-Sides. I’d recommend those albums to anyone who enjoys rock and roll in the gritty, honest and catchy style that Helix specialize in. So it’s nice to have material from those three albums in one place.
There are familiar hits here as well, including “Running Wild in the 21st Century”, the ballad “Good To the Last Drop”, and the recent remake of “Heavy Metal Love” from the Power Of Rock and Roll album. You’ll also notice other big ones: “Wild In the Streets”, “Deep Cuts the Knife”, and “Rock You”. These are re-recordings, I assume because Capitol/EMI owns the originals. I think an original version is always superior to a re-recording. But you can understand the reason for it. A brand new song written by the duo of Brian Vollmer and Sean Kelly called “Axe To Grind” rounds out the album.
Personal favourites: The heavy and grooving “Danger Zone”, from B-Sides. The undeniably catchy “Get Up!” (seriously, you won’t get this song out of your head). “You Got the Love That I Like”, another modern and heavy one from B-Sides. The slick and fast “Animal Inside”, from Vagabond Bones.
Omissions: I would have loved an acoustic track from Helix’ excellent Smash Hits…Unplugged CD.
Unlike a lot of hits packages released this time of year, Best Of 1983-2012 is a really good and justified compilation. Helix has had a hell of a lot of good music in recent years. Even for fans like myself who have the albums already, hearing a good compilation like this really highlights some recent triumphs.