Author: mikeladano

Metal, hard rock, rock and roll! LeBrain's Record Store Tales & Reviews!

REVIEW: Bon Jovi – “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1987 cassette)

BON JOVI – “Wanted: Dead or Alive” (1987 Mercury extended play cassette)

Some rarities are easiest to find on tape.

That’s definitely still the case for “Wanted: Dead or Alive”, the 1987 acoustic version originally released only on an extended play cassette in most of the world.  This version, discussed below, is a Holy Grail collectable.  What about CD or vinyl?  There was a rare Japanese version with a slightly different tracklist, but for 30 years, all I had was this cherished cassette.

The tape has four tracks.  The original studio version (titled “Long Version” here to avoid confusion with the  4:10 single edit) leads side A.  “Wanted” is Bon Jovi’s first truly brilliant song.  An extended cowboy metaphor about the road, it’s timeless.  It always has been.  Richie Sambora’s 12 string guitar made all the young guitar kids want to play one.  His backing vocals were the real highlight.  Funny thing about Bon Jovi:  the backing vocalist was better than the lead singer!  Smoking guitar solo too, where every note counts.  You can hear Richie pushing those strings and wrenching that solo from the instrument.  It’s a perfect song, with every component serving a purpose and coming together.  The old west as seen from New Jersey.

The acoustic version of “Wanted” is the real delight here.  It’s just Jon and Sambora together with two acoustic guitars.  Jon explains the details in the liner notes, but only the cassette has this information: one more good reason to hunt down the tape.  Read below:

“On March 18, 1987 or somewhere there bouts, Richie and I flew into New York to mix some live tracks for a radio special.  After a couple hours of record making, donut eating, and MTV watching we got bored, picked up two acoustics and started to jam.  The results are here on tape, the way we wrote it, just like it was in the basement on that cold January night in Jersey.”

If that doesn’t set the scene, nothing will.  Richie sings more of the lyrics, and belts out a killer acoustic solo too.  It was this recorded that demonstrated to me the talents of Mr. Sambo.  What it lacks in glossy finish, it makes up for in spades with vibe.

On side B, the live version of “Wanted” is another rarity.  It’s an extended 8:13 full band version, with a long instrumental prologue.  According to the liner notes (again, only on the cassette), it was recorded at Cobo Hall in Detroit on March 11, exactly a week before the studio jam was recorded.  It’s likely this is one of the live songs that Jon and Richie were in New York mixing on the 18th.  (Production is credited to both.)  You may have lots of versions of “Wanted” already, but owning an extended take from early ’87 is better.

The tape ends on “I’d Die For You”, a song that was good enough to be a single in its own right.  However, it wasn’t.  It’s just an album track from Slippery When Wet, but it’s safe to say it’s a bit of an unsung classic.  The Japanese CD version, on the other hand, comes with the non-album rarity “Edge of a Broken Heart”, one of their best tunes ever.  After “Edge”, there is an exclusive unlisted interview with all five band members.  Inside, Japan also got a “Bon Jovi Dictionary (R to Z)”.  Presumably the other volumes of the dictionary can be found in other Japanese CDs.

Though this cassette has an overabundance of “Wanted”, you simply need to get that acoustic version.  You want the one that’s 5:31 long, recorded in March ’87.  In fact, you need that one.  And even though CD is the superior format, the tape has the liner notes and other details you won’t find on CD.

5/5 stars

Thanks to Mitch Lafon for helping me locate a CD copy of these tracks!

#748: Lulu’s Balloons

GETTING MORE TALE #748: Lulu’s Balloons

Lulu’s Roadhouse closed in early 2000, and a sad day it was! Today, an office complex sits where Lulu’s once ruled the roost. Of course there’s the obligatory Tim Horton’s among the urban commercial wasteland that replaced it. 3000 people used to rock and roll all nite at Lulu’s, gathered around the world’s largest bar.

I saw a few great shows at Lulu’s. Without a doubt, the best was Black Sabbath with Motorhead opening. It was summer 1995, the very last tour with Tony Martin on lead vocals. We saw Neil Murray and the late Cozy Powell that night. A few years later, it was Alice Cooper. Sloan kicked ass there in 1999. Famously, Lulu’s hosted a reunited Max Webster, a legendary concert that sold out swiftly.

Motorhead played there twice. Kim Mitchell and David Wilcox were regulars. Styx, Meat Loaf and the Black Crowes played to packed houses. As the 1990s drew to a close it was clear that not all was well at Lulu’s. They courted controversy when they cancelled a Stompin’ Tom Connors concert due to poor ticket sales. Stompin’ Tom had never been cancelled in his entire career.  He was uphappy about it and the story made national news. The new anti-smoking bi-law also had an impact on Lulu’s, as concert goers didn’t want to step outside for a cigarette between bands.

Anyone living in Kitchener would hear amazing stories of the bands that played that stage at Lulu’s, the Max Webster reunion being the one I heard about the most. What I didn’t know, until recently, is what was up with those coloured balloons?

I remember sitting there with T-Rev, waiting for Sloan. Opening band The Flashing Lights finished their set and the headliners were next. There were girls walking around with balloons tied to their wrists or belts. There were different colours, but what did the balloons mean? We vaguely understood they were to help meet people, but we didn’t know the colour code.

It seems that few mysteries remain unsolved in the age of the internet. A local resident dug up an old “balloon meanings” flyer from Lulu’s and the mystery is finally answered:

  • Red balloon: available woman to dance and party
  • Blue balloon: available man for fun time
  • White balloon(s): virgin (why would you advertise that in a bar?)
  • Yellow balloon: shy person
  • Silver balloon: looking for hookup
  • Purple balloon: horny

I probably would have been a yellow looking for a red.  What would your colour have been in the year 2000?

REVIEW: Queens of the Stone Age – Over the Years and Through the Woods (2005 CD/DVD)

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – Over the Years and Through the Woods (2005 Universal CD/DVD)

First thing’s first.  You will notice that the DVD has six more songs than the CD, and that’s not including the bonus features. That’s OK. While I wish there were two CDs so you get the whole show on audio, Over the Years and Through the Woods is still a damn fine live album.

No Nick? No problem. As much as I love the Nick Olivieri era of Queens, this live album smokes. Oftentimes, I don’t give a toss for Queens without Nick (Villains being an exception).  I do own and love this. Yeah, there are tunes that I miss. Yeah, I miss his screaming. But the album makes up for it in pure tuneage. (Nick’s in some of the bonus materials anyways.)

There’s a great mix of material from all the Queens albums, with a heavy leaning on Songs For The Deaf. There are even a couple Desert Sessions tunes, and an unreleased one.  It’s one awesome set, and great value for the money. It’s a CD I play at home, in the car, on the big stereo and on the earphones. Sound and video quality are fine. Don’t expect a hi-def show from the Queens though. This is sweaty and rough.

My favourite part: Josh Homme gets pissed off at some kid throwing things at him, and berates said kid in front of the crowd a bit.  “Hey cocksmoker.  Eat a bag of dicks.”  He then breaks into the “Anti-Cocksmoker Song” (“Tangled Up in Plaid”.)

Lineup: Josh Homme, Joey Castillo, Alain Johannes, Troy Van Leeuwen and Natasha Shneider.

5/5 stars. Indispensible.

 

CD
1.”Go with the Flow” – 2:58
2.”Regular John” – 5:24
3.”Monsters in the Parasol” – 4:39
4.”Tangled Up in Plaid” – 4:00
5.”Little Sister” – 2:51
6.”You Can’t Quit Me Baby” – 9:49
7.”I Wanna Make It wit Chu” – 4:27
8.”Leg of Lamb” – 3:34
9.”I Think I Lost My Headache” – 5:24
10.”Mexicola” – 5:09
11.”Burn the Witch” – 3:12
12.”Song for the Dead” – 7:47
13.”No One Knows” – 7:47
14.”Long Slow Goodbye” – 7:20

DVD
1.”This Lullaby” – 2:40
2.”Go with the Flow” – 3:12
3.”Feel Good Hit of the Summer” – 3:41
4.”The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret” – 3:44
5.”Regular John” – 5:30
6.”Song for the Deaf” – 5:09
7.”Avon” – 3:33
8.”Little Sister” – 2:52
9.”You Can’t Quit Me Baby” – 10:27
10.”I Wanna Make It Wit Chu” – 5:10
11.”Monsters in the Parasol” – 3:16
12.”The Fun Machine Took a S*** and Died” – 6:41
13.”Mexicola” – 5:17
14.”Burn the Witch” – 4:37
15.”Covered in Punk’s Blood” – 1:57
16.”I Think I Lost My Headache” – 5:07
17.”Song for the Dead” – 8:16
18.”I Never Came” – 5:54
19.”No One Knows” – 8:09
20.”Long Slow Goodbye” – 7:44

DVD BONUS FEATURES (from various tours):
From 1998:
“The Bronze” – 3:38
“Mexicola” – 5:34
From 2000:
“Better Living Through Chemistry” – 5:54
“Auto Pilot” – 4:19
“How to Handle a Rope” – 3:29
From 2002:
“Quick and to the Pointless” – 1:34
“You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire” – 2:36
“God Is in the Radio” – 11:19
“Song for the Dead” – 6:09
“Regular John” – 2:02
“Hanging Tree” – 3:16
From 2005:
“Precious and Grace” – 3:33
“Burn the Witch” – 2:41
(Band audio commentary commentary available for bonus tracks)

REVIEW: The Candidates – Who’s Your Daddy Now? (1998 EP)

THE CANDIDATES – Who’s Your Daddy Now?  (1998 EP)

When the Candidates burst onto the local rock scene in the late 90s, I was on board from the get-go.  The Candidates were one of the “Record Store Bands” I wrote about in Record Store Tales Part 40.  They were the product of a former band, The Mighty Fisherman, who put out an actual CD album.  Members of that band formed the Candidates – great guys who made great music.  I don’t use the word “great” lightly.  All four songs on their debut EP (never released to the public) are as good as anything on a major label at the time.  When the guys recorded this EP, they loaned it out to various friends, and so I made my own copy.  (My own liner notes, too!)

I always felt the Candidates had a sound not unlike Sloan, The Who, and the Jam rolled into one.  (Maybe even a hint of Kiss; check out the slow-down ending to “Cash Money”.) The point is: they rocked.  It was rock and roll, nothing but.  No ballads, no fluff, no solos.  Great lyrics, solid riffs and rolling bass lines out the wazoo.  The whole thing is over n’ out in under 12 minutes.

First up, “You’re All Heart”, the song with the most pop in its melody, and a little twang in the six-strings.  The handclaps are a nice touch, as are the rolling thunder drum fills.  Tambourine is thrown in for good measure on “Good to Go”, a song defined by its catchy bassline.  I always liked the line, “There’s nothin’ on the walls, and woo!  There’s nothing on…”  The beat just kills.  “So leave your boyfriend at home, and come hit the town with me.”  It’s the kind of tune that, in our early 20s, was a bit of an anthem.  More handclaps!

Things start to slam heavier on “Cash Money”; a banger of a riff.  “Got my good-to-go boots and I’m gone.”  They don’t come any more rock and roll than “Cash Money”.  Although, as a younger man, I identified most with “Barely Bruised”.  It seems I was constantly having bad luck with the ladies.  I really liked the lines, “I’ve been beaten but I’m barely bruised, I’m lost but I cannot lose.”  I liked the idea of being knocked down and getting back up for more, never giving up.  The band dedicated this one to me in concert one time, and I’ll tell ya, it made my night.  The song itself is a battery of broadsides, so put your dukes up.

Since this EP was never sold, and you’ll never hear it, reviewing it is rather strange and maybe pointless. Eventually, somebody somewhere will google this band, and smile when they read these words.  I just had to tell you about these guys.

5/5 stars

Have a look at my humorous liner notes.  I also stole a setlist from an unknown gig!

REVIEW: Mötley Crüe – The Dirt Soundtrack (2019)

MÖTLEY CRÜE – The Dirt Soundtrack (2019 EM7)

Netflix scored another huge hit with The Dirt.  It’s a phenomenon with old fans basking in nostalgia, while youngsters hear the band for the first time.  It has been praised, debated, and nit-picked while a surge in Motley sales at the record stores boomed.

The movie soundtrack is an 18 track collection, spanning just a sliver of Motley history:  1981-1989.  All the glory, none of the ugliness or genre-jumping later.  To hype it further the band reconvened in the studio with producer Bob Rock and cranked out three new songs with one really calamitous cover.

Disclaimer:  I haven’t seen The Dirt, and am in no rush either.  I already have The Real Dirt in my VHS Archives.  I don’t need to see the cock-chopper from Game of Thrones doing an American accent pretending to be Mick Mars.  If the songs chosen for this soundtrack have anything to do with the scenes in the movie, I wouldn’t know.

Proceed.

 

Let’s get the greatest hits out of the way first.  Considering that Motley Crue had umpteen (five) compilations already, how does The Dirt hold up?

Remarkably well.

There are a few notable omissions you’ll have to acquire elsewhere.  “Smokin’ in the Boys’ Room” and “Wild Side” are missing, but there are better things included instead.  You won’t miss those songs too much since you get early album classics like “Merry-Go-Round”, “Piece of Your Action”,  “Red Hot” and “On With the Show” instead.   The album is also wisely light on ballads.  “Home Sweet Home” is obviously a compulsory inclusion, but you won’t find any second-tier ballads like “Without You” here.

There’s something interesting about the new recordings, and that’s the identity of Nikki’s new writing partner.  John5 is credited on them (along with a host of other names).  For those keeping score, this is the fourth fucking time Motley Crue have recorded a handful of new songs for a hits compilation.  (You could make a 13 track compilation album just from those songs now.)  But this particular batch of new songs is like finding a few rotten spoiled eggs in your carton.

When bands like Motley Crue start incorporating rap into their tunes, it reeks of desperation and that’s “The Dirt (Est. 1981)”.  Machine Gun Kelly is the rapper who portrays Tommy Lee in the film (and does a smashing job of it, say the reviews).  It’s not rap music that is the problem, it’s the fact that Motley have never been that band.  From a certain point of view it’s cool that they gave Kelly a part in the song, acknowledging his role in the movie.  Also, Mick Mars’ solo is brilliant: a six-string stunner, proving the axeman just… keeps… getting… better!  But the song is an over produced mishmash of modernity that is starkly at odds with the old material.

What do others think?  We reached out to Superdekes over at Arena Rock.

“I liked that Crue album,” he said. “Go figure.”

Even the new songs?  “Yeah I do,” continued Deke.  The rap too?  “Well, the rap as its more of a speed thing…”

And that’s a good point.  Check out a rapper like Logic for some amazing speed rapping.  That’s an artform and it sounds good.

It’s just not Motley Crue.  Next!

“Ride With the Devil” suffers from the same kind of overproduction.  What’s cool about it is this cool soul-metal hybrid sound it has going on.  Then Vince Neil starts rapping.  Yes, it’s true that in 1995, Vince Neil made a solo album that combined hip-hop and metal, and of course Tommy Lee has his Methods of Mayhem.  That’s why those were solo projects!

“Crash and Burn” is an appropriate title for this point of the soundtrack, but fortunately the songs is the best of the trio.  The groove is mechanical but Mars is right there laying his electric wizardry on top.

What is perhaps most indefensible is Motley Crue’s putrid cover of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin”.

In 1984, when “Like a Virgin” was getting regular television and radio rotation, we used Motley Crue to drown that shit right out.  To hear Motley Crue now singing that actual shit is alternate-universe level mindfucking.

What did Deke have to say about “Like a Virgin”?

“I thought they did it well.  I really like how they twisted the music.”

(We understand that “Like a Virgin” has been getting regular dancefloor action over at the newly refurbished Deke’s Palace up in Thunder Bay.  “Asses are shaking” to the song, said our anonymous source.)

Ending this review on a positive note, what’s good is seeing Motley Crue back in the top of the charts again.  People are talking about the band again.  They’re having debates, like the good-intentioned ribbing here.  Fans are loving the movie and demanding a sequel to fill in the gaps and finish the story.

Have we heard the last of Motley Crue?   Not by a long shot.

3/5 stars

 

 

 

 

Sunday Chuckle: The Backwards Man

There’s a young guy at work who consistently makes me laugh.  He’s uber-intelligent and quirky and does something weekly that just slays me.

For example, he makes sound effects.  Sometimes he’s a UFO.  The other week he was a pterodactyl.  Once he was making sounds and proclaimed, “I’m a propeller!”

The most recent incident happened in the lunch room.  I was sitting there beginning to consume my reheated-whatever, when in he walked…backwards.  Right to the fridge, reaching behind him trying to open it and get his lunch.  I’m sitting there in stitches, unable to eat!

I kept bugging him about it over the following days, calling him “The Backwards Man”.

“I only did that for like 10 seconds!” he protested.

That was a damn funny 10 seconds, man!

VHS Archives #68: Geoff Tate of Queensryche (1986)

JD Roberts of MuchMusic’s Pepsi Power Hour talked to Geoff Tate (and a silent Chris DeGarmo) about Queensryche in 1986.  That means you get the rock-solid Rage for Order haircuts.  Not only that… but Geoff actually comments on the hair!

 

STAR WARS: The Rise of Skywalker – Teaser

Of all the titles available, The Rise of Skywalker was the last thing I expected Episode IX to be called.

The end of a saga. Over 40 years of movies. We never thought there would be a sequel trilogy. Now we’re winding it up, and the whole damn saga too!

Which Skywalker will rise? What’s with the Death Star? The Emperor’s laugh? LANDO! Set course for December.

CONCERT REVIEW: Claypool Lennon Delirium – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, April 10 2019

CLAYPOOL LENNON DELIRIUM – Danforth Music Hall – Toronto, April 10 2019 

By Uncle Meat

 

Sometimes you go to Rock shows and are blown away by the venue, or the sound of the band, or the band itself, or something extra special happens.  Usually you are lucky to be subjected to one or two of these wonderful things.  It’s rare when all these things happen at once to make truly iconic memories you could never possibly forget.  This happened for me last night.  Music is the gift that keeps on giving.

Found out yesterday morning that I was going to see Claypool Lennon Delerium at the Danforth Music Hall in Toronto.  Special thanks to friend and fellow Sausagefester Aaron Stepaniuk for inviting me.  I had never been to the venue, nor had I ever seen Les Claypool perform.  I found it interesting as well that it was the very first show of their tour, showcasing their new album South of Reality.

Walking into the venue during the opening band, instantly I loved the Danforth Music Hall.  Very cool place to see a show.  Warming up the proceedings was someone by the name of Jim James.  All I knew was that he used to be the singer for a band I know nothing about called My Morning Jacket.  I was informed on the way to Toronto by Aaron’s girlfriend Rachel that there is an American Dad episode basically dedicated to “the angelic voice of” Jim James.  Gonna have to check out some American Dad.  The few songs we caught I deemed as “whispy”.  It wasn’t bad but didn’t resonate with me.  Jim James’ look reminded me of Daryl Hall dressed as the Joker and I was kinda glad when it ended so we could go out and smoke a huge joint.

As I am hauling off of this Buck-constructed, Buck-approved monster of a spliff, a door opens beside me, (I was too concerned with smoking this massive joint to even realise we were standing right beside an equally massive tour bus) and while I’m taking a healthy drag out walks Geddy Lee.  Yes…THAT Geddy Lee.   I almost exhaled the drag right into his nose, he was that close to me.  Instantly I started wondering if he could be getting on stage, but that stuff never actually happens for real…Right?

The show starts off with Pink Floyd’s “Astronomy Domine”.  I knew they might do some covers since they released an EP of covers in 2017 called Lime and Limpid Green.  On that note, the covers played that night were epic songs that most bands wouldn’t dare even try.  “Astronomy Domine”, “Boris the Spider” and “The Court of the Crimson King” are songs that you MUST play well live to even consider such an idea.  Interspersed throughout the covers were songs from their 2016 debut album Monolith of Phobos and their newest album South of Reality.  I enjoyed everything I heard that night.  First of all, Claypool and Sean Lennon can both sing very well and both comfortable in a high vocal range. The keyboard player also sang backup vocals.  No matter if it was Lennon or Claypool taking lead vocals, the background vocals were top-shelf fucking glorious.  This aspect was a definite highlight of the show.  I was there to see Claypool and he didn’t disappoint whatsoever.  However Sean Lennon was a bit of a revelation to me.  He is an amazing singer and a much better guitar player than I would have imagined.

The stage banter between Les Claypool and Sean Lennon (or “Shiner” as Les kept referring to him as) was comfortable and cool.   After some more of their anecdotes, the drummer breaks into a very familiar drum pattern.  I turned to my buddy Bucky and said “They aren’t really gonna play this are they?” The rest of the band started to join in and yeppers , they are playing Tomorrow Never Knows, written by the guitar player’s father.  You may have heard of him.  I can see off stage as a stage hand is standing there with a bass in his hand.  He hands it to an emerging shadow and out walks Mr. Geddy Fucking Lee, possibly still on a contact high from the joint smoking he walked through earlier.  Now I am watching Sean Lennon sing his late father’s song with two of the greatest bass players of all time on stage.  You cant make this shit up.  This kinda stuff never really happens and now it is happening.  As they are jamming out the song hard, Les Claypool does one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  He takes off his bass and starts kinda bowing to Geddy Lee with a huge smile on his face, gives a little “see ya” nod to the audience and walks off stage, leaving now only Geddy finishing “Tomorrow Never Knows” with the band.  For a couple minutes it was actually The Lennon Geddy LEErium.  The respect and tribute that Claypool shone upon Geddy by the nod and walking off stage will be a top 5 (Or higher) concert moment for me.  I had the utmost respect for Claypool before this night.  With one little wave to the crowd and the walk-off, he made my Rock & Roll heart melt.  I so wish Tom Morwood was there.  He would have cried like a big bearded baby.

The band walked off and came back for an encore.  Claypool says something like, “Gotta love when guys like Geddy Van Halen just walk on stage.  That’s what still gets my dick erect”.  The Delerium then went into their lone encore song, Primus’s “Southbound Pachyderm”.  It totally kicked ass with a sensational bass groove.  What a show.

What more could you ask for?  Did that really just happen?  Mind…Blown.

 

R.I.P. Greg Haymes, aka Sergeant Blotto

Sad news this morning.  I’d heard through the grapevine recently that one of the members of Blotto was sick.  I had a bad feeling about it and this morning I read that Greg Haymes, aka Sergeant Blotto, has passed away from cancer.

This is particularly bitter for me.  I only got into Blotto last year.  I was so into them that Blotto became my favourite band of 2018.  As we drove to and from Toronto to take care of my sick mother in law, we had Blotto blaring in the car almost every time.  “Mum” was dying of cancer, and Blotto helped us forget and just laugh while rocking out.

Now Greg Haymes is gone from the very same, dreadful disease, and I’m pissed off.

Haymes was a writer, a musician, and an artist.  I’m sorry I only got to know his music in the last year.

Hopefully Blotto can bring you some of the joy that they brought to me when I needed it.  Here’s “I Wanna Be A Lifeguard” featuring Greg “Sarge” Haymes on lead vocals.