Guest Shot

#626.5: The Big Lists of 2017 Part Five: The Mighty Meat

Uncle Meat’s Top Ten Movies of 2017

  1. I, Tonya
  2. Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  3. Jim and Andy : The Great Beyond – Featuring a very special, contractually obligated mention of Tony Clifton
  4. Baby Driver
  5. It
  6. Justice League
  7. Gilbert
  8. Logan
  9. Get Me Roger Stone
  10. ESPN 30 for 30 – Ric Flair: The Nature Boy

 

 

Uncle Meat’s Top Ten Albums of 2017

 

I must admit that it was hard doing this list, for the simple reason that Uncle Meat rarely likes anything new.  Call me a Fuddy-Duddy…call me stuck in the glorious past…But you cants call me Johnson.  Considering I am using a very old reference to the David Steinberg show, maybe I should just get on to 2017 instead.

 

10)  Queens of the Stone Age – Villains  – The first track on this album called “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” came out and literally kicked me in the face…pun intended.  But the rest of the album drags and is kinda forgettable.  However the aforementioned track might be my song of the year so it makes up the bottom end of this list.

 

9)   Pallbearer – Heartless   – Not as blatant as my number 10 entry, but again this is based mostly off one track. The song pointed out by Dr. Dave,  “I Saw the The End”, seems to have so many intentional or unintentional “nods” within it they are hard to count.  I have heard it reminds people of Queensryche, Iron Maiden, King’s X…etc.  But the rest of the album doesn’t seem to live up to that glorious track.

 

8)  Deep Purple – InFinite  – Yet another solid output from Morse-era Deep Purple.  Steve Morse has been in the band so long now it seems weird to keep referring to the “Morse era” anymore.  Ian Gillan is writing vocal lines that seem to better suit his limited vocal range right now.  I really like the keyboards on this album.  Even Frank put one of the tracks as his song of the year.  Listen to Frank.

 

7)  Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit – The Nashville Sound  –  Someone has to mention something other than “Heavy Metal Bullshit” on this site.  2017 may have been a bit of a Metal resurgence year for me, but Jason Isbell’s 2017 offering needs to be on this list.  His lyrics are reminiscent of the great John Prine on this album.  He also rocks out a little bit more here, which is good because I found some previous album to be way too mamby-pamby and not enough guts.  Plenty of guts and beauty on this record.

 

6)  Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun  – This band was introduced to me by Doctor Doom a few years ago.  Always appreciated what they do but found it hard to get into.  A few listens of Every Country’s Sun, and it’s diverse song styles have made me more than appreciate them. It is really quite simple.  I need to hear more Mogwai.

 

5)  Steve Earle and the Dukes –  So You Wanna Be an Outlaw  – I have only had a couple listens of this in full, which just is not enough to really dig into a Steve Earle album.  But what I have heard I have loved, as per usual.  You just cant go wrong with Mr. Earle.

 

4)  Power Trip – Nightmare Logic – Was introduced to this album by a review on Banger TV (highly recommended You Tube channel run by Sam Dunn).  It was compared to Slayer’s Reign in Blood both in overall style and the album’s short running time.  Once again the past draws me in as it definitely is “old school Thrash Metal”.  Not an album I could listen to a lot, but hard not to elicit a reaction anytime it comes on.

 

3)  The Necromancers Servants of the Salem GirlIron Tom Sharpe or whatever he calls himself here on this blog introduced me to this French band that totally rocks.  Sounds like an oxymoron I know, but it indeed rocks.  I really find they remind me of Orange Goblin at times, which is a high compliment in my world.  I have found myself in the rock guitar pose frequently with this album playing.  Frank would like it.

 

2) Elder – Reflections of a Floating World  – Elder came out of absolutely nowhere for me about a month ago. Kicked my fucking ass…and soul.  Reflections of a Floating World is absolutely the greatest collection of music I heard in 2017.  I couldn’t put it number one which will be explained shortly, however it is so fucking good I would say this might be my favourite “Metal” album in many many years.  Years ago I wanted so bad to find a truly Progressive Metal band, and the closest thing I could find was Dream Theater.  But they continually had this gloss and sparkly side to them which turned me off a lot of the time.  If Pink Floyd and Kyuss had a baby, and it grew up listening to nothing but Gabriel Genesis albums, you would get Reflections of a Floating World.  The singer kinda reminds me of Perry Farrell, which seems like an odd fit but works perfectly.  No barking on this record.  The second track, “The Falling Veil”, is a song I have went to many times within the last month.  If you like good music, and have the patience to appreciate it, soak yourself in this record.  Do it, Frank.

 

1) Five Alarm Funk – Sweat  – Do I think this is the best album of 2017?  As mentioned earlier, that goes to my number 2.  However this was by far my favourite album of this year as well as my favourite band of this year.  Five Alarm Funk is Canada’s best keep secret, but subsequent albums never really captured what it was like to see this band live.  They did release a great live album in 2016, but what FAF have created with Sweat seems to be taking the energy of their live shows and writing appropriate music to suit their show.  The song “Iceberg” is as many parts Zappa and “Heavy Metal Bullshit” as it is a funk song.  Many other tracks have this groovy girth to them.  If you hear about Five Alarm Funk playing a show near you…you owe it to yourself to see Canada’s hardest working band.  The band will kick your ass and back again while you are dancing to it.  But this album will do in a pinch. Love these fucking guys.


And we love you, fuckin’ Meat!

 

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#626.3: The Big Lists of 2017 Part Three: Iron Tom Sharpe

No commentary from Tom, just rock.  Pay attention, as many of these titles are recurring on these lists!

 

Tom’s Top 20 for 2017

20 Vulfpeck – Mr. Finish Line

19 The Wizards Of Delight – The Wizards Of Delight (EP)

18 Neil Young – Hitchhiker

17 Thundercat – Drunk

16 Mothership – High Strangeness

15 Steve Hackett – Night Siren

14 Deep Purple – InFinite

13 Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

12 Gov’t Mule – Revolution Come Revolution Go

11 John Garcia – The Coyote Who Spoke In Tongues

10 Pallbearer – Heartless

9 Steve Earle – So You Wannabe an Outlaw

8 Elder – Reflections of a Floating World

7 Magpie Salute – Magpie Salute

6 Jason Isbell – The Nashville Sound

5 Fireball Ministry – Remember the Story

4 The Obsessed – Sacred

3 The Atomic Bitchwax – Force Field

2 Five Alarm Funk – Sweat

1 The Necromancers – Servants of the Salem Girl

#626.2: The Big Lists of 2017 Part Two: Frank gets frank with you

First timer but long time fester FRANK drops his lists of awesome.  Who is Frank?  He is the Sausagefest Man of Mystery.  All we really know about Frank is that he pays his rock and roll taxes on time every time.  Here’s his best of 2017, and just because the rest of us did albums, Frank brings his best songs and movies.

His only commentary:  “After doing this list I realised I need to stop watching so many kids movies.”

Frank’s Top Ten for 2017

Movies 2017

  • Star Wars: The Last Jedi
  • Thor: Ragnarok
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
  • The Kingsmen: The Golden Circle
  • Justice League
  • Logan
  • Cars 3
  • Spiderman: Homecoming
  • Lego Batman
  • John Wick 2

Songs 2017

  • Fozzy – “Judas”
  • Mastodon – “Show Yourself”
  • Trivium – “The Sin and the Sentence”
  • Five Finger Death Punch – “Gone Away”
  • DragonForce – “Ashes of the Dawn”
  • Theory of a Dead Man – “Rx (Medicate)”
  • Kreator – “Hail to the Hordes”
  • Stone Sour – “Song #3”
  • Clutch – “150 Pesos”

#626.1: The Big Lists of 2017 Part One: Dr. Dave

 

 

Dr. Dave’s Top Ten for 2017

By Dr. Dave Haslam

I can’t believe that it’s been another year and I have to do one of these things again. Where does the time go? Right into the shitter, apparently.

Anywho, where was I?

 

Not a great year, but not a terrible one, either (musically speaking). Since I’ve become something of a “standard bearer” for LeBrain, flying the dirty, blood-stained banner of METAL year after year, it should not be surprising that most of my list is metallic. I tend to gravitate towards that, though I could mention things non-metallic (Stranger Things, Godless, Big Mouth) that are not musical but which would feature in my yearly “best-of” if I did not choose to restrict myself to my top-10 musical releases of the year. And, for the record, I do like things that are not metal. Just…not so much these days. And that’s not really my fault. So…

 

10 – Power Trip – Nightmare Logic

Old-school thrash that is direct and catchy. The speed and double-bass assault is kept to a minimum, so the emphasis is on the mid-tempo swagger and the down-picked chug. Totally convincing without sounding like a nostalgia act (I hate that). There are parts that recall Slayer (the sudden accelerations) and Exodus (the tricky rhythmic shifts in some of the riffs), but, by and large, it doesn’t sound completely derivative of any particular band. Nicely done! (Question: how long are we going to have to wait, with Trump’s America, for some obscene country-rap duo named “Buy and Large” to break big? Don’t tell me you can’t imagine it. I know you can. And that is SAD!).

Song Selection: “Executioner’s Tax: (Swinging the Axe)”

 

9Paradise Lost – Medusa

So apparently there is a Halifax in England as well as in New Scotland (Latin is for jerks, word to your mother). And judging by the output of that town’s most notable musical export, it must be a really, really, REALLY gloomy place. Paradise Lost has been one of metal’s most unsung bands since the late 80s (check out Draconian Times if you think I’m fooling – that shit’s killer). They’ve made some dizzying left turns in that time, but they’ve mostly returned to their roots, which is a hybrid of doom and death metal. They’ve released better albums than Medusa in the past ten or twelve years, but I just have to include this on principle.

Song Selection: anything really, it’s all pretty much the same.

 

8 – The Necromancers – Servants of the Salem Girl

Props to Mr. Morwood for drawing my attention to this French outfit who present as a less-polished, more sprawling Ghost, filtered through some Fu Manchu and a host of other stoner/70s humping outfits. They even have a BOC feel, like in the opening track, which has a chorus reminiscent of “Astronomy.” And then, at 3:50, they bust out a runaway freight-train of a riff that recalls the finest moments of Porcupine Tree’s “Fear of a Blank Planet.” And delicious solos to boot! A band to watch as they grow and better digest their influences.

Song selection: “Salem Girl, Part 1”

 

7 – Akercocke – Renaissance in Extremis

Back in the 90s, these sincere (and snazzily-dressed) English Satanists combined death, black, and progressive metal in a manner that veered from the unsettling to the undeniable (Words That Go Unspoken, Deeds That Go Undone will always be their opus). In 2017, they came roaring back after a long hiatus, and though they left the Brooks Brothers’ suits behind them, they are still a complex and scary proposition. Hail Satan!

Song selection: “Disappear”

 

6 – The Obsessed – Sacred

Thankfully, I have seen Wino perform at least once. It was in Philly, at the North Star Bar, for one of Spirit Caravan’s last live performances. The man is a legend – as close as any American comes to Lemmy, and he can basically do no wrong. Revivifying The Obsessed – a band that should have become major in the late-80s/early-90s – is as good a way as any to reassert himself. Nothing fancy here, just dirty and crusty heavy rock, done right.

Song Selection:

 

5 – Mogwai – Every Country’s Sun

Ah, Mogwai. Glaswegian post-rock titans. The only live band I’ve ever seen that was louder than Mogwai was Motorhead. That…was a while ago. Nowadays, Mogwai have three basic templates: the poppy/happy Mogwai, the ambient Mogwai (which has seen them become a very-much-in-demand soundtrack band), and the crushing, guitars-up-to-twelve band that I originally fell in love with. They don’t really start cranking it up until the second half of this album, but for “Old Poisons” alone this is easily a top-ten release for me. Their melodic turns often come from left field, but that’s part of the charm. Nobody else does this shit better.

Song selection: “Old Poisons”

 

4 – Wolves in the Throne Room – Thrice-Woven

I’m not, nor ever will be, a “black metal” purist or “troo kvltist.” I’m pretty sure many of those a-holes will slag this album with their last dying, frosty breath, but I don’t give a corpse-painted shit. After the demise of Agalloch, WiiTR stand alone atop the Cascadian Black Metal heap (that’s black metal from America’s Pacific Northwest for you noobs). After taking a whole lot of shit for their last album, in which they apparently let their ambient/experimental instincts take over (I’m afraid to listen to it, frankly), WiiTR have come back with an album that could stand as a “how-to” or “Idiot’s Guide” for composing black metal riffs and melodies. Each song has it’s ambient/atmospheric passages, but the riffs themselves are almost parodically perfect. The production is both modern and inviting; while “classic” black metal albums from the 90s sound like they were recorded in an over-turned dumpster, the sounds here are warm – the drums are thunderous yet precise, and the guitars are perfectly balanced between the biting and the enveloping.  This is THE record that could get any sane, functioning metalhead into black metal. It’s great. Fuck off and give it a listen. And if you let the raspy vocals put you off then you are weak, and you are why the world has gone to shite.

Song Selection:

 

3 – Mastodon – Emperor of Sand

Ho-hum. Another year, another Mastodon album in my top-10, as should be expected. “But they’re popuuular! They’re mainstreeeeeeem! They suck now!” Yeah, you know what? Go shit in your hat.

Song Selection: “Steambreather”

 

2 – Elder – Reflections of a Floating World

More of a #1b than an actual #2, this is the left hook to the next album’s right cross that made 2017 the year of progressive doom for me. Sumptuous, sprawling without being indulgent, sensitive yet strong, progressive without being a wankfest…holy shit, I can’t believe these guys are from Boston! Somehow it all hangs together in an entirely organic way. The live footage on YouTube of them performing “Sanctuary” is fantastic. Why they are on some obscure German record label is beyond me. Boston’s not that far away, you know. Throw us puckheads a fucking bone and come for a visit, Massholes!

Song Selection: “Sanctuary”

 

1 – Pallbearer – Heartless

            Heartless? I think not. This, like the Elder, has it all – dramatic arrangements, stirring melodies, and riff after riff after riff. Sure, it was kind of a cock-tease when they pre-released “I Saw The End” and it turned out to be the most directly impactful song, and arguably the best several straight minutes on the whole album. But fuck, that’s not just splitting hairs; that’s splitting the hairs on a paramecium. (Or a Porg. Now, really, what’s that deal?  I mean, look at them. They’ve got a brain the size of a very small plum. Yet one of them gets to co-pilot a spaceship? Fucking nonsense. Would you let your cat use a blender? Exactly.)

Song Selection: “I Saw The End”

 

So that’s it. Peace to you all and all your loved ones (unless they’re dicks).

And on a final note: please please please stop using the phrase “it is what it is.” It’s a tautology, and as such it is utterly devoid of any meaningful content. Seriously – just stop. It’s not Zen. It’s not wise. It’s silly. It is a form of cognitive surrender. And do we really need any MORE of that these days?

 

Dr Dave

Sunday Chuckle: No Quarter (by Mrs. LeBrain)

Currency is a method used to pay for goods and services in the country or region where these good and services are provided.  Its denominations are very specific and exact.  Often, the customer cannot pay the vendor an exact amount so the vendor is required to return the difference to the customer to complete the transaction.  This action is commonly referred to as making “change”.

Money is highly recognisable to its users.  Larger denominations are made of universally sized paper and plastic sheets referred to as “bills”.  Smaller denominations are metal pieces with a circular shape in a variety of sizes known as “coins”.  The different sizes typically indicate value so they can easily be detected and assessed by their users.  Many nations have ‘coins’ very similar in colour and shape, but with the value of these coins being so small, most users cannot be bothered to examine these pieces closely to confirm authenticity.

A common coin in Canada is known as a “quarter” which has a value of 25 cents.  (1/4 of a dollar) To put this into perspective, my daily coffee costs about eight quarters and an ass-kicking rock CD would cost Lebrain about 80 of these things.

One afternoon, after having a morning coffee with one of my girlfriends, we decided to visit the “Golden Arches” for a quick and unhealthy lunch.  The order came out to $11.25, and for once I had EXACT change (woot!!!).  I reached into my purse and pulled out my ten dollar bill, my one dollar coin (known in Canada as a ‘Loonie’) and what I thought was a “quarter”.

The cashier and her supervisor examined the coin closely and gave it back to me.

McD:  “What is this?”

Me:  “A quarter.”

McD:  (In a rude, shaming tone) “No it isn’t and we can’t accept it from you”

I took the coin back and gave the cashier a fifty dollar bill (making her provide me with a lot of change to complete the transaction.  It turns out the “quarter” was a Swiss Franc with an exchange value of $1.27 CAD.

Their loss, my gain.  I just hope they didn’t spit in my fries.

Mrs. LeBrain

#605: “Hey, you got a message, use Western Union!” 

GETTING MORE TALE #605: “Hey, you got a message, use Western Union!”

Featuring guest essay by John Hubner

“A lot of bands mature, which means they get square; they start delivering messages. Hey, you got a message, use Western Union.” – David Lee Roth

When David Lee Roth made that legendary statement, he was talking about rock and roll bands who take things too seriously.  Might as well jump?  This is course is a matter of taste.  I enjoy Van Halen and ZZ Top, but I also enjoy the more cerebral works of Marillion and Dream Theater.  In music there truly is room for all tastes and styles.  Few genres are as diverse as rock and roll, even lyrically.  If a writer is a strong enough to embed personal messages in their words that might go undetected by the listener, then this kind of lyric should be celebrated.  On the other hand, fans are sometimes turned off when the messages are too overt.  U2 have faced some backlash over this.

So, rock bands:  by all means, feel free to tell us all about climate change, globalism, big pharma and Wall Street.  If you do it well, the fans won’t mind.  On the other hand, there is no shame in rock and rolling all nite and partying every day.  As Paul Stanley once said in one of his many stage raps, “We all came here tonight to escape from the world! Tomorrow morning when we get up it’ll be just as screwed up as it is today. We might as well have a little fun!” And that is certainly one very valid reason to rock.

Even here, in these very virtual pages, I’ve taken a few liberties where I’ve veered slightly off course.  I’ve preached a little bit about the plight of the Indigenous Canadian.  Other tangents included mental health, stigma, religion, tolerance, and even the rights of service dog owners, with music as the common thread.  I hope I haven’t offended anyone with these fairly benign notions.  I try to be careful.  As a writer, I founded myself with two projects:  my reviews, and Record Store Tales.  Most of you got here because of the music, and so that’s what I deliver.  I don’t need to bore you with social justice or environmental ideals.  I don’t want to bore myself, either.

Speaking of Record Store Tales, one of its many focuses was to relay lessons I learned from a decade of retail management.  Any time I walk into any record store, I could make mental lists of things they are doing great and others for Continual Improvement.  That goes for a lot of retail in general too.  Back to the subject at hand…and this should be patently obvious to most sensible people…leave your personal politics out of your customer service job.

Mrs. LeBrain and I were up at the cottage a couple years ago, and we stopped at Shoppers Drug Mart to pick up some bathroom essentials and some candy.  There was only one cashier on duty and she was a chatty one.  There was a problem with the person in front of us; something wasn’t scanning right.  It took forever to fix, and this cashier would not stop talking.  I had a feeling we’d be in for some chatting when she finally got to us.

I was right, and it didn’t start well with a “How are you today darlin’?”  Fine…thanks.  “Would you like a bag for this?”  I glanced at Mrs. LeBrain who nodded yes and said, “Yeah a couple bags.”  Her response threw me for a loop.

“Well have you seen the landfill?” she asked me in a condescending tone.

“Ummm…no?” I answered, very puzzled.

“Well,” she began, “There’s no room left in the landfill and the birds are choking on plastic from garbage bags…”

I politely let her finish, and then explained, “OK, but we have dogs here at the cottage, and these bags will be used for them.”  There were in fact three poop factories (Schnauzers) at the cottage that weekend.*  Stoop and scoop, people.  Stoop and scoop.

It’s none of her business why I wanted those bags, I didn’t need to explain myself and I certainly didn’t need to be lectured about reusing and recycling.  I went through highschool at the start of the green revolution.  I do my best to be a responsible inhabitant of Mother Earth.  Rest assured, I am not some littering jackass who doesn’t give a shit.  Sometimes you just need a couple plastic bags, goddammit!

I thought about being “that customer” and complaining about the talky cashier, but decided to live and let live, and instead save it for this story.  Consider my wisdom, young padawans.  You don’t know your customers as well as you think you might.  Say too much, and you just might lose your customer, or find them complaining about you to your boss, as happened to me once when I made a snarky comment about Radiohead!**

So ends today’s lesson, friends.  Do you agree with this experience and advice?

We asked Schnauzer expert John Hubner for a “message” about how awesome Schnauzers are.  He sent us the following treatise:


Klaus. Dieter. Helmut. Otto.

No, these are not the names of former members of Kraftwerk. Nor are they the names off the guest list to Angela Merkel’s surprise birthday party. Those four names are the miniature schnauzers that have had a profound effect on my life. “Miniature schnauzers? What?” Yes, those sometimes salt and pepper, sometimes gray, sometimes black, and occasionally blonde yippy terriers that bark bloody murder at you every time you pass by their house(the bark is usually followed up with a crazed “KNOCK IT OFF!” from the same house.) Those dogs with the short stature, manly beard, and a nub for a tail. They have personality for miles and loyalty till the end. They’re the go-to pooch for old ladies and your great aunt that doesn’t like men all that much.
How did I end up miniature schnauzer poster boy? I was a sick kid who suffered from allergies. When I asked my mom why we couldn’t get a Boxer she said it was because of my allergies. But not long after that a book on miniature schnauzers showed up at our house and I was told if we ever got a dog it would be a schnauzer. When I asked why my mom said “Well, schnauzers have hair like your dad’s hair, while a Boxer has hair like your uncle Chuck.” “We never see uncle Chuck” I said. “Exactly, because we’re allergic to him” my mom replied.
Regardless of that bizarre exchange, a miniature schnauzer ended up at our house when I was 8 years old and the rest is history. Growing up with a mini schnauzer I grew to love their loyalty but need for personal space. They weren’t goofy and sloppy like bigger breeds; but they weren’t standoffish like poodles and cats. What I came to realize is that miniature schnauzers are a lot like me. They can laugh and joke and rub elbows for awhile, but eventually they need to retreat from the crowds and the chit chat. Every mini schnauzer I’ve ever known mingle for a bit, then they say “See ya” and head for the comfort of their favorite spot on the couch. I love that about ’em. I respect that.
Miniature schnauzers are better than your dog. Sorry, it’s true. They’re like grumpy little people that don’t take crap from nobody and they’ve got an awesome beard to prove it. They’re loyal, temperamental, prone to anxiety, and do NOT like people knocking on the front door. They like to nap and will tell you what they want when you’re in the kitchen. They howl when left alone in the house and they keep the couch from floating away for a greater part of the day.
I think I’m part schnauzer.

** Freed of the shackles of the Record Store, I can say I like Radiohead enough to own a couple CDs, but still find them so very pretentious. 

GUEST REVIEW: Rush – “Distant Early Warning” (1984) by Aaron Lebold

I asked Aaron Lebold if he wouldn’t mind throwing in a few words about “Distant Early Warning” for my Grace Under Pressure review.  He sent me 772 words!  So here’s an entire separate post for you — Aaron Lebold on “Distant Early Warning”.

 

RUSH – “Distant Early Warning” / “Between the Wheels” (1984 Anthem)

by Aaron Lebold

Mike has asked me to do a review on the song “Distant Early Warning” by Rush.  When I first met Mike I quickly realized that Rush was one of his favorite bands,* and though he showed me a lot of their work, this song was the one that always stuck out to me the most.

My interpretation of the song may be a bit different now than it was when I first heard it; one of the greatest things about music is that its personal meaning can shift depending on what is going on in your own life.  I find musical interpretation to be completely personal, and what you take from it may be completely different than what the artist even intended.**

I was always reluctant to hear the artists of the songs I enjoyed explain them, as it could feel very crushing if the impact it had on me was not the actual meaning. I will explain what this song means to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m right.  It does mean that I am able to see why it had relevance to me, and if you have found a different interpretation, you are not wrong.

“An ill wind comes arising, Across the cities of the plain, There’s no swimming in the heavy water, No singing in the acid rain, Red alert, Red alert”

To me this is the ability to foresee an event, there is a metaphoric storm on its way, and it is serious enough for us to stop our own distractions, and unhealthy coping strategies in order to prepare for what is ahead.

“It’s so hard to stay together, Passing through revolving doors, We need someone to talk to, And someone to sweep the floors, Incomplete,  Incomplete”

This talks about the separation among us as people to me; we all tend to find our own paths and some of us become relevant to each other, where others become lower class, and we may see them as nothing more than the person who is sweeping the floors for us. This type of discrimination makes us incomplete as a human race.

“Cruising under your radar, Watching from satellites, Take a page from the red book, And keep them in your sights, Red alert, Red alert”

This again is a reference to having greater insight than others may possess. Being able to observe a situation undetected and being able to gather forethought about what the results may be.  The Red Book is a reference to Psychology, and this suggests using that manner of thinking as you move forward.

“Left and rights of passage, Black and whites of youth, Who can face the knowledge, That the truth is not the truth, Obsolete, Absolute, yeah”

To me this makes reference to our way of thinking, and things we may have misinterpreted as priority.  Rights of passage is the idea of moving from one group to another, and relates to social classes and advancement. Separating the races of children is another method of creating a divide.  The truth could refer to the idea that we are all one class and one collective  group of people, and that a lot of our perceptions are obsolete in the big picture.

“The world weighs on my shoulders, But what am I to do? You sometimes drive me crazy, But I worry about you”

To me this means that even though I may have my own problems, and I don’t always agree with someone’s actions, I still care for them and can’t help but notice when they seem to be heading in a bad direction.

“I know it makes no difference, To what you’re going through, But I see the tip of the iceberg
And I worry about you”

This basically means to me, that I am aware that my insight does not change your situation, but I can see the bigger picture and it makes me worried about how it may end up affecting you.  The Tip of the Iceberg is of course a reference to the Titanic, and how there is much more lurking under the water than is visible from the surface. The results can be potentially devastating, as they were for the historic vessel.

I can’t recall exactly what drew me to this song when I was younger, and I may have interpreted things differently back then, but the bottom line is that I found relevance and importance in the lyrics.  You may have a completely different take on this song, which is great.  The best thing about music is using it to find our own connections, and get us through our own lives.

Aaron Lebold


* So he thought.  In 1994 I was still a Rush poser.  I only owned Chronicles.  

 

** “Distant Early Warning” was written about the loneliness of someone who worked the DEW Line- a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic region of Canada set up to detect incoming Soviet bombers during the Cold War, and provide early warning of any sea-and-land invasion. – wikipedia

#592: Gene Simmons on Addiction? (GUEST SHOT by Aaron Lebold)

Please join me in welcoming back guest writer Aaron Lebold. Today he’s discussing Gene Simmons’ recent controversial comments on addiction.  This post was intended for Saturday, but as it happens, August 25 is Gene’s birthday.  So, here is Saturday’s post a little early.  Happy birthday, Gene!

GETTING MORE TALE #592: Gene Simmons on Addiction?
Guest shot by Aaron Lebold

In a recent interview with The Chicago Tribune, Gene Simmons from the band Kiss is quoted as making the following statement;

“I’ve never done drugs or alcohol, so my soul is intact.”

I have never personally been a fan of Kiss, and have always found the way they present themselves, and the way they sound to be a bit of a dichotomy. Regardless of my personal opinion, I have always done my best to remain objective. With this in mind, I find this statement to be rather ignorant.

Clearly the notion of avoiding substances is a positive thing, and the fact that he is successful in many ways and has never used any drugs, or alcohol sends a positive message. This statement however seems to fuel the stigma that people who do drugs are not as good as the rest of society. Apparently Gene thinks that people who struggle with addiction no longer have souls that are intact.

Drugs and alcohol are simply a byproduct of a bigger picture, and just because Gene has not found a place for them in his own life does not mean that he hasn’t taken other things to excess in the same manner. Everyone who has heard of Gene Simmons has also heard about the countless sexual partners he has had, and is likely aware that he will make money off just about anything.

Sexual addiction is a very real thing, and can ruin lives and relationships in the same way as drug or alcohol dependency. Of all the partners Gene has had over the years, I imagine that not all of them were single, and a lot of relationships were likely destroyed. This shows disregard for others, and selfishness in the same way that can be presented by people in addiction seeking their next fix.

I am also fairly certain that with numbers like Gene has, he didn’t always use protection. The risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections or diseases strongly mirrors that of a heroin addict who is willing to share needles. It is reckless and potentially fatal, and also runs the risk of passing them on to others unknowingly. Again, this is typical addict behavior.

When we think of addiction it is often drugs or alcohol that first come to mind, but that is only one way that this can be presented. Most addicts use substances to cope, but after a certain amount of time it becomes obvious to others, and they generally seek help. This is not always the case, but they say the first step is admitting you have a problem, and judging by Gene’s constant bragging I assume he has yet to reach that conclusion.

Just because someone is successful it doesn’t mean they are happy, money and fame will only take you so far, then like everything else in life the novelty will wear off. The amount of marketing that Gene Simmons is involved with is often comical. I generally compare him to Krusty the Clown from the TV show The Simpsons because he wears make-up and will put his name on anything if he thinks it may sell.

Money and business are also things that can be addicting. Anything that takes the focus off your life, or your own problems can overtake your reality. Does Gene Simmons really need to make a Kiss Coffin? A kiss toilet seat? These are real items for sale, and to me this indicates that Gene clearly is more focused on making money then preserving integrity.

Things are not always as they seem, just because Gene Simmons looks like he has it all, my guess is that he is just as lost as the rest of us. He even went to the extent of recently trying to patent the “devil horns” hand gesture, which was being done before he even got into music. How do you get to the point where you already have more money then you could ever spend, but still want to try and stake claim to the way others can shape their own hands?

To me that speaks of someone who is obsessed, which again is no different then someone who struggles with any other addiction. It is not my place to criticize someone I don’t know, but at the same time it isn’t his place either. The idea that he is better than anyone else because he has abstained from drugs is laughable. He clearly has no problems taking things to excess, and my guess is that if he found enjoyment in drugs he would likely have a different story.

Some people simply don’t like to alter the way they think or feel. Sometimes it is hard for them to be in a position where they have less control over what is going on their life. The fact that Gene Simmons has never used to the point of intoxication does not make him a hero, his actions have still destroyed lives and turned into an obsession. Substances just weren’t his thing, and avoiding things you don’t like isn’t exactly a heroing feat.

If you are interested in blogs about addiction and recovery, please check out my wordpress site;
aaronleboldblogs.wordpress.com

#574: GUEST SHOT – Association Through Music

GETTING MORE TAKE #574:  Association Through Music
Guest shot by Aaron Lebold

A sequel to #571:  Record Store Tales – A Different Perspective

Before I met Mike, my knowledge of music was pretty minimal, and I had not yet been able to see the influence it could have on daily life.  I mostly listened to what my friends had shown me, which was basically dance and rap music.  I did have a friend who made me a mix tape, it mostly consisted of tracks from one of those Dance Mix [also known as MuchDance] albums, but amongst all that was “Sweating Bullets” by Megadeth.  I listened to this song fairly often.

When I met Mike I absorbed a lot of his musical tastes.  I looked up to him, and he seemed to know a lot about music, and was very passionate about it. Initially I was just enjoying what I liked the sound of, but this eventually shifted to me being a  bit of a music snob, and focusing mostly on the lyrics, and the message of the song.

Some of the first bands Mike showed me were Soundgarden and Rush.*  Once I got more into music I found I enjoyed a lot of Rush’s music, but couldn’t really find much personal value in it.  There was one song, “Distant Early Warning” that I always found to be powerful, and to this day it is still my favorite song by the band.  I have a feeling that Mike still thinks of me when he hears this song.**

I also associate Rush with a different element of my life.  I had a friend who I spent a lot of time with, and  really liked the girl who lived next door to him.  I remember talking to her about music, and at this point I still didn’t really have an abundance of knowledge, so I went with the few things I had learned from Mike at the time.  I told her I liked Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Rush.  I remember her response of “Rush sucks” made me feel a bit embarrassed, because with music in general I really didn’t know what I was even talking about at that point in time.***

Another association I still have to this day is in relation to Soundgarden. It was around the time that Superunknown had been released, and Mike and I were both huge fans of the album.  At this point in my life I was starting to find value in the lyrics, and Soundgarden and Nirvana really had what I was looking for.

I used to live across the street from a public school, and one evening Mike and I went over there and were just belting out the lyrics to “Spoonman.”  I would take the more mellow parts like “All my friends are skeletons,”  and Mike would follow by screaming at full capacity “They beat the rhythm with their bones”.  This would of course prompt us to both yell “Spoonman!” in unison.

I find it pretty extraordinary that music can be tied so tightly to memory.  I saw Soundgarden play in Toronto a couple years back on their reunion tour, and even then I thought of Mike when they went into “Spoonman.”  

If you are interested in learning a bit more about me, please check out my work on Medium.  

https://medium.com/@aaronleboldbmr  

I am in the process of reflecting on my life story.  Feel free to share some of your most memorable events that you use music to help you remember in the comment section below.

Godspeed,
Aaron

* Rush I remember, but I didn’t know I could take credit for getting him into Soundgarden.  That’s pretty cool.  

** I do!

*** Perhaps I should have warned him that girls did not like Rush.

#571.5: Aaron Lebold BMR – Diagnosis

New guest Aaron Lebold has launched his own site on Medium!  His site, much like Record Store Tales/Getting More Tale, is his memoirs.  Aaron will still be back here doing guest shots — he’s already sent me his newest one.  I wanted to post his most recent story from his own site here because it has personal meaning to me.  Regular readers here know that my wife has epilepsy.  It has been the biggest challenge ever thrown at us.  His story reminds me of ours.  Aaron was also the first person I ever knew to have seizures, although I never saw him have one.  

Diagnosis

As I had mentioned, the teacher I had for Grade six was the same teacher I had earlier in school. This was also the same teacher that went to my mother to express concerns about my attention in class. I held a pretty big resentment towards her back then, as I felt she was saying that something was wrong with me.

One day in school, my mother came and picked me up. I didn’t know where we were going, she just told me I was going to have some tests done. We ended up at a doctors office where they attached a lot of wires to me, and put me under a pretty intense strobe light for a few minutes.

The whole process, even though at the time I really didn’t understand it, already was solidifying in my head that I was different, and that something was wrong with me. No other kids that I knew of had to go and get this type of examination.


…read more at medium.com/@aaronleboldbmr