REVIEW: Helix – Rock It Science (2016)

NEW RELEASE


scan_20160930HELIX – Rock It Science (2016 Perris)

Helix just don’t stop!  Never have, never will.  They have been an ongoing property since 1974, steadily releasing albums with only minor gaps between.  They keep playing live, year after year.  They keep recording new music, ensuring there is always fresh product for fans to pick up at one of their unflagging shows.  The latest is a new “greatest hits” CD called Rock It Science, featuring a smattering of tracks from all over their career and one new song.

Bands and record labels are often guilty of exploiting their fans for one or two new tracks and a whole bunch of stuff they already own.  Helix fans generally don’t feel that way.  They want to support the band (“the hardest working band in Canada”), and it’s worth noting that most past Helix “hits” CDs are out of print now, and there is very little overlap in songs.  What overlap exists is usually limited to the “big hits” – songs like “Rock You” and “Heavy Metal Love”.  Incidentally, the hits from the Capitol years included here are the re-recorded versions from Best Of 1983-2012.  Fear not, they are very authentic remakes.  You gotta do what you gotta do to get paid!

Brian Vollmer has been good about including deeper cuts on his compilations.  “Billy Oxygen” and “You’re a Woman Now” from the first album are brilliant.  These are two of their best songs, period, and they commence Rock It Science brilliantly.  Any Helix CD that includes “Billy Oxygen” is better for it.  This jazzy little rocker is one of their more complex arrangements, written and sung by the “Doctor” Brent Doerner.  Speaking of Brent, he designed the artwork for the CD and directed the music video for “(Gene Simmons Says) Rock is Dead“.  That’s the new track on this CD (click the link for a review of the song) and a damn fine one it is.  Brian co-wrote it with his partner in crime, Sean Kelly, a brilliant musician in his own right.

A few other treasures worth mentioning are the lava-hot “Get Up!” from 2006, and the ballad “Good to the Last Drop” from 1990.  This is the single remix version of the song, which tips the scales as the slightly superior (and more rare) mix.  “Shock City Psycho Rock” (1998) is a pleasant surprise.  This is a track written by bassist Mike Uzelac in the early 1980’s but not recorded until the 90’s.  (When they recorded it, Uzelac was actually a missing person.  He has since returned to the land of the living, but I can remember meeting his brother back in the Record Store days and that is when I first heard the story that Mike hadn’t been seen by family or friends in years.)  Mike Uzelac was a talented writer and contributed lots of material to Helix.  “Shock City” is one of the fastest and most destructive tracks in their catalogue.  Finally, “Even Jesus (Wasn’t Loved in His Home Town)” is a favourite, notable for its biting lyrics and brain-searing chorus.

So go ahead and give them an R.  The band is like an institution, a hard working gang of rockers that aim to please each and every time.  Buy the CD direct from the band and you’ll get a signed copy with some great liner notes detailing some rare band history.  Rock It Science would make a fine first Helix album for any collection.

4/5 stars

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39 comments

        1. I try to do a mixture of both here! You get the facts and you get the personal.

          Actually writing wikipedia articles was good exercise. There are strict formatting and rules about sourcing, and I have to be honest, it was mega fun filling in minutiae from the history. A lot of fun — but not the creative expression we have here.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. I’m sure the band appreciates having a well-researched page too – I know whenever I read a hockey book (Jen can probably relate), and they mis-quote a stat (e.g. the leafs last made the playoffs in 2005, when it was 2004), I find it difficult to read on. Minutiae as you say, but important to get it right!

          Liked by 1 person

        3. It’s hard for a band to correct an article when there is a factual mistake though. You can find a lot of band-written wikipedia pages, still. You can tell when it’s a low-key band you read things like, “In 1989 they released their incredible second album, which caught major attention and rave reviews in the Lower Langly Falls area.” But the editors there try to work with the writers and what not to come up with a balanced page that fits the encyclopedia style.

          Liked by 1 person

  1. I was hoping when Helix played here back in July they would have copies of this at there Merch Table. They had a ton of stuff but not this…as far as my booze filled head could tell…!!!
    Interesting track selection and like you said deeper tracks makes it worthwhile. iTunes has the Rock Ain’t Dead tune as a single but if the album is added i will buy it….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I only own the Helix you gave me (Wild In The Streets), so a comp like this might just hit the spot as a gateway to more. Sweet deal on the signed copy, too.

    There’s a good challenge for you, Mike (and anyone else who wants to participate): make a 2CD hits of Helix. Go!

    Anyway, remind me to look these guys up when we’re in Taranna. Who knows what’ll turn up!

    Liked by 1 person

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