The occasion: It was Helix’s 25th anniversary. How about an album, and some classic returning band members, for a good time?
The title B-Sides here is misleading; a B-side is a track that appears on the flipside of a single, and is often not on the album. No tracks on this album appeared on the flipside of any singles, at least not these versions. However, the misleading title does not mar the excellent music contained within.
B-Sides contains songs written and/or demo’d for various Helix albums from 1990 onwards. Some of these have been re-recorded, such as “Love Is A Crazy Game”, which appeared as an acoustic version on the Business Doing Pleasure CD. This version is electric and is much heavier. I could imagine this version fitting right in on an Aerosmith album. “S.E.X. Rated” has also been re-recorded. It’s the only song that actually appeared as a B-side, but it’s not the same version as on that single.
Various versions of the Helix band appear on this album, but most interesting is the lineup on the bonus tracks. “Like Taking Candy From A Baby” and “Thinking It Over” are both from the sessions from Helix’s excellent first album (Breaking Loose), left unreleased until now. “Thinking It Over”, a terrific pop rock song, is a Del Shannon cover. Helix worked as Shannon’s backing band during an early 70’s Canadian tour. There are also three songs by a reunited “80’s Helix”, and it’s great to hear that version of the band again.
In a way, it’s a shame that this album was given the title and terrible album cover that it has. Brian Vollmer and Co. could have simply put this out as the next Helix album, which may have given it the respect it deserves. From the ballads to the heavy stuff, this Helix CD has a bit of everything you already liked about the band, with a modern edge. Every song kicks, there’s not a weak track in the bunch. By the time you get to the bonus tracks, Helix have already pummelled your eardrums.
Helix fans absolutely need to hear this music; not B-sides but in fact some of Helix’s best stuff. Along the way, there are appearances from pretty much every major Helix member from the indi days to the mid-90’s. You will even hear songs written and performed by Paul Hackman, the late Helix guitarist who was tragically killed in a 1992 auto accident. The major selling point of the disc was that three songs featured a reunion of the surviving members of the classic 80’s Helix. With Hackman gone, that consisted of leader singer Brian Vollmer, guitarist Brent “the Doctor” Doerner, bassist Daryl Gray, and drummer Greg “Fritz” Hinz.
- “Thinking It Over” which my wife thinks sounds like Sloan.
- “Devil’s Gate”, hard and hammering.
- “You Got Me Chained”, with killer horn section.
- “Take It Or Leave It”, moody and dark but catchy as hell.
Final bonus: a booklet absolutely chock full of never before seen photos. A real treat!