Over the course of his solo career, Kim Mitchell kept on givin’ ‘er even though some albums are cloudy in the collective memory today. Aural Fixations made less of a hullabaloo than Rockland, and many of its tracks are forgotten by the Canuck masses. Public amnesia does happen to deserving songs sometimes, and there are a few on Aural Fixations that merit dusting off.
Kim really made a niche of good time summer party songs: “Rock N’ Roll Duty”, “I Am A Wild Party”, “Lager and Ale”. “World’s Such a Wonder” assumed that duty on Aural Fixations. His picking is impeccable, but fans in the know noticed something was “off”. The quirky poetry of Pye Dubois was gone; he and Kim had a falling out during Rockland. Others such as Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness – review at Boppin’s Blog) and Andy Curran (Coney Hatch – review at Stick It In Your Ear) filled the lyrical void instead. This meant that one of the qualities that made Kim special, Pye’s unique wording, was gone. Also departed was bassist/singer Peter Fredette. Peter still provided backing vocals for this album. That said, most in the Great White North probably did not notice or care.
“Big Smoke” is a bluesy grind, good stuff for guitar enthusiasts. A couple upbeat tracks got radio play, such as “Hullabaloo” and “Find the Will”. Both sound like what we had come to expect from Kim Mitchell: rock and roll guitars, big hooks, and choruses built for shoutin’ along to. The most outstanding one of the bunch is “Hullabaloo”, a real Canadian good time summer song.
“There’s a lot weekend doin’ on this hullabaloo,
Honey’s on the beaches, Monday back in old ‘T.O.’,
Showin’ off her sunburn.”
The song is perfect from the ground up. Verses, bridges and choruses all line up for one quintessential Kim Mitchell classic. “Take a walk on that wild guitar, it’s such a wild guitar…”
Aural Fixation also shifted towards lighter sounds, perhaps a bit too far. “Pure as Gold” is the best of the softies, a quiet, slow smouldering bluesy ballad. “Some Folks” steers right into the pasture, a keyboardy country ballad that could have been left in the barn. The twangy “America” isn’t as bad. It carved out another hit video, following in the footsteps “Easy to Tame” (1986). Other tracks just simmer without ever really cooking: “There’s a Story”, “Flames”, “Dreamer”. The musicianship is above reproach, but the songs don’t all meet expectations. “Dog and a Bone” has the rock, but the chorus lacks impact.
One of the most interesting tracks is the final one, an instrumental called “Honey Forget Those Blues”. A total of six guitar players are credited on it, creating a massive guitar harmony part. It sounds like a guitar orchestra playing the blues and it’s brilliant. Its cheeky creativity hearkens back to the glory days of Max Webster. It is in fact Kim’s first instrumental song as a solo artist.
Aural Fixations has those sparks of brilliance that makes you wish it consistent throughout. “Hullabaloo”, “World’s Such a Wonder”, “Find the Will” and “Honey Forget Those Blues” could all be on a hypothetical Kim Mitchell “box set”. Is that enough to add this album to your collection?