RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale

#736: San Fransisky? Did you drove or did you flew?

GETTING MORE TALE #736: San Fransisky? Did you drove or did you flew?

One of the first friends I met when I started at the Record Store in 1994 was Christina, better known as “San Fransisky”.  I’ll get to that in a minute as it requires an explanation.  San Fransisky was a friendly, outgoing girl who worked at the dollar store around the corner called A Buck or Two.  When I was the rookie in my first months at the Record Store, she would come in and chat, which helped me feel welcome at the Mall.  Our store played her store in the Mall bowling tournament, and I think they probably beat us.

San Fransisky was Portuguese and proud of it.  Her house had one of those front rooms for your shoes, and another room that was strictly decorative.  You didn’t go into that room or sit in it, it was to be admired from outside.  My memory is hazy on one detail, but I could swear that room had a stuffed (taxidermied) dog in it.  But what about that nickname “San Fransisky”?

When she used to call my house, the call display showed her dad’s name Fransisco.  This led to my dad doing his best Sid Dithers impression.  Remember Sid Dithers, Eugene Levy’s overtly Jewish character on SCTV?  His catch phrase was “San Fransisky?  So how did you came here, did you drove or did you flew?”

Every time she called the house, the name came up “Fransisco” and my dad would howl, “San Fransisky?  How did you came here, did you drove or did you flew?”  Nobody in our house even called her Christina.  It was San Fransisky.  That’s the effect my dad can have when he repeats the same joke over and over again.

She was cool; we used to go out to eat, see Rangers games, and enjoy general good times.  The owner at the Record Store knew San Fransisky long before I did, and according to legend they once had this conversation:

Owner – “Hey Christina, ask me if I’ve ever had sex in my store.”

San Fransisky – “No!  I don’t want to know that!  Gross!”

Owner – “Go ahead, ask me if I’ve ever had sex in my store!”

San Fransisky, sighing – “Have you ever had sex in your store?”

Owner – “I’m not telling! Hahah!”

I like to think that he did it over in the rap section.

Nothing lasts forever and the Record Store eventually moved out of the Mall.  We continued to hang out with San Fransisky after hours but problems in the friendship began to emerge.  I was never much of a night owl.  I didn’t go out to bars, or to dance at the clubs, but once in a blue moon.  San Fransisky thought that if I wanted to meet someone, I needed to get out to the bars.  I didn’t like the music, the crowds, or even drinking that much.  I would decline but she’d really push, and push persistently.  People who really know me also know that I hate being pushed.  If I say no to something, please just respect that.

“Mike if you came out you’ll really have a good time,” she’d insist.  “You know if you keep saying no, people are going to stop asking you to go out.”  I knew that, and eventually that’s what happened.

I really pissed her off once in the winter of ’96.  She was setting me up with one of her friends.  It was a skating date, and it was OK.  Nothing happened for a while.  Several weeks after, we all went out together again as a group to go bowling, loser having to sing karaoke afterwards.  San Fransisky brought two of her friends, and I brought two of mine.  One of them happened to be my ex.  Turns out, the girl that San Fransisky was trying to set me up with, didn’t appreciate that I brought my ex bowling.  Ah well.  I screwed up that night absolutely gloriously even after that.  I lost at bowling, and I had to sing.  When I sing karaoke, there’s one song I always go to:  “The Immigrant Song”.

I don’t know if San Fransisky had ever been more embarrassed in her life.  I had a great time, but I was definitely on her shit list.

She was starting to get a little demanding as a customer at the Record Store too.  She wanted better discounts than I was allowed to give, and she wanted more money for her used DVDs than I was permitted.  There was a dispute over the movie Bubble Boy.  She wanted way more than I could pay, and the disc was pretty scratched up too.  She wouldn’t let it go.

The next bump in our friendship involved a guy named Hercules.  I have no idea what his real name was.  San Fransisky met Hercules at the bar.  If I remember the details correctly, she didn’t know his name so she called him Hercules.  I remember Hercules lied about his age and his name, which set off alarm bells.  T-Rev and I met him once, but soon after he told San Fransisky that she was not to see us anymore.  He was that kind of boyfriend.  We didn’t like it, but we were cut off.  T-Rev may or may not have felt like inflicting violence upon Hercules, but he is a peaceful man who finds violence to be the last refuge of the weak minded.  If someone got mad and challenged T-Rev to a fight, he’d laugh and say, “Sure, because if we fight and I win, that means I was right, and if you win that means you were right.”  We knew Hercules wouldn’t last long.  San Fransisky was an independent girl with lots of friends.  It wasn’t in her nature to be locked down like that.

Eventually San Fransisky re-emerged, told us that Hercules was done, that we were right.  That was that and we all moved on.  But, like many things, friendships often have a trajectory in life.  We were all changing.  T-Rev moved to Sarnia, and I drifted away from San Fransisky.

Our friendship ended permanently after I bought a place in the same condo complex that she lived.  We were briefly in contact again, but she got mad at me when I was mentioned I was interested in buying a used microwave oven from a friend of hers, and then changed my mind because new ones were so cheap.  I just went over to Canadian Tire (or “Newfy Speed N’ Sport” as T-Rev used to call it) and bought a small one out of box.  It just seemed like I should have a new clean microwave for my first place.  She was pissed that I reneged on the deal; sorry about that.

The straw that broke the camel’s back was fittingly over a CD.  We met at a CD store, and we departed over a CD.  This story was recounted in Record Store Tapes Part 313:  Not Allowed Lending!  We were living in the same building, and she was having a party upstairs.  Keep in mind, I knew how well she took care of her CDs and DVDs, because she used to trade them in to me at the store.

The story continues as follows.


A few weeks after I moved in, she came down to my unit. She was having a party upstairs. She needed some music.

“Do you have any Beatles?” she asked me.

“Yup, I have the Red and Blue albums. They’re excellent. The Red one probably has all the songs you’d want for a party.”

VH 194_0001She asked me about a couple more CDs.  Van Halen was one. I got them out of my CD tower.

“You’re going to take care of these, right? And you’ll return them tomorrow morning?” I asked pointedly.

“It might not be tomorrow morning but I’ll bring them back, of course.”

I knew how this girl took care of her own CDs. I had bought enough used discs from her at the store. She always bitched when I told her the discs were scratched up. She never put them back in the case, and left them out all the time.  Knowing her ways of handling discs, I added additional instructions.

“I want you to be careful with these discs, and put them back in the cases when you’re done. I also want you to make sure nobody else touches my CDs. Only you.  I want them back exactly as they are.”

She gave me this flabbergasted expression. What she said next was the sentence that ended what was left of our “friendship”:

“What do you care if they get scratched?! You work at the store!”

That was it. I told her I wouldn’t loan her the CDs if that was her attitude. She went upstairs in an angry huff, and we never socialized again. I ran into her now and then, and she was always bitchy.  The friendship was over.

 


She moved out of the building later that year, got married and de-friended me on social media.  I’m not even sure what her new name is.  I do know one thing that has not changed.  I still have those Beatles CDs, in the exact condition I bought them in.  That microwave still works, too!

It’s been at 15 years since she moved, but I hope San Fransisky is out there doing well.  Some personalities are just not meant to mix for extended periods of time, but there are more good memories than bad.  Bowling, arcades, playing cards, eating food, and mini-golf.  Good times.  Such a shame she couldn’t take care of her CDs!

 

#735: Quite Possibly the Worst Music Video I’ve Ever Seen: Vigilant – “Run For Cover”

GETTING MORE TALE #735: Quite Possibly the Worst Music Video I’ve Ever Seen
Vigilant – “Run For Cover”

Recording music videos from the TV as a kid was a fine art.  My method was to keep the machine on “record-pause” as videos were playing.  Then all I had to do was un-pause and I’d be able to start recording almost immediately.  I’d lose maybe a second of video.  Then I’d pause again at the end, waiting for the next “good song”.

The Pepsi Power Hour was an amazing way to discover new (or old) bands.  By recording the videos, I could hear the songs over and over.  If there was a new band I was curious about, I’d take a chance and hit record.  If I didn’t like the song or band, I’d just rewind and record over it.  The Power Hour would play virtually any kind of metal.  Their intro had Slayer’s “Angel of Death” as the theme music!  From Poison to Cro-Mags, they would play it.  Venom were regular favourites.

One afternoon in 1986, I was recording away when J.D. (John) Roberts announced a new band coming up, called Vigilant.  (Over the years I’ve seen it spelled as Vigilants and Vigilante, but I will continue to use the spelling as it appeared on TV that day.)  I recorded it — decent enough hard rock song — and I kept the video because their labelmate Lee Aaron had a cameo in it.  Lee Aaron was and is Canada’s Metal Queen, so I thought the band must be OK.  But dear God, what a video.  What a horrendous video!

Let’s break it down.

We got the asshole record exec who won’t give a band a shot.  We have Lee Aaron at reception, and a stripper entering the offices!  What could this be about?

The stripper plays the record exec a tape, and then suddenly enters:  more strippers!  How many?  Who knows, but you can play “count the strippers” with your friends if you like.  The song is playing, but we still haven’t seen the band.

It’s well over two minutes before the band burst into the room, guitars in hand, to play along to their song.  The fashion of the day:  checkers, stripes, tassels, and tight tight pants.  Pants so loud that Jon Bon Jovi himself wouldn’t have been seen in them.  The bassist has one of those narrow body basses that were trendy at the time.  The drummer?  He doesn’t even show up until the 3:00 mark.  Poor drummer!  The point of course is that the strippers have far more screen time than the guys in the actual band, the hallmark of the stinkiest of the 1980s.  Sulfer-stinky!

The one on the left is in roller skates.

The plot thickens when a roadie enters, with a flash bomb.  He’s going to blow up the band!  But then, Lee Aaron pulls the old switcheroo.  And the roadie, though good at plugging in flash bombs, doesn’t seem to know how to unplug them.  Guess who gets blowded up!  Not the band or the strippers, I’ll tell you that!

Don’t worry, it’s a happy ending for everybody.  Including the lead stripper, it’s heavily implied….

Please enjoy (?) the music video for “Run For Cover” by Vigilant (or Vigilante, or Vigilants) featuring Lee Aaron.  The song actually wasn’t that bad.  The verses were nothing to write home about, but the bridge and chorus are pretty good!  Generic as hell, but it was the 80s.  (Oh, and check out the funny MuchMusic bumper before the actual video, featuring Loudness singer Minoru Niihara!)

#734: The Spaceman’s Wife and the Demon Sex Addict

GETTING MORE TALE #734: The Spaceman’s Wife and the Demon Sex Addict
“Guitars, Makeup and Murder”

Today, another in a long string of sad days in KISStory, we will dissect Ace Frehley’s incendiary statement to his ex-bandmate Gene Simmons.  (If it was written by Ace at all.  The statement appeared on Ace’s wife’s Facebook 22 minutes before it appeared on his.)  He was responding to a recent Gene Simmons quote:

Gene – “They [Peter Criss and Ace Frehley] were in and out of the band — fired — three times. For drugs, alcohol, bad behavior, being unprofessional…they weren’t carrying their load.  So the short answer to your question is we’d love to have Ace and Peter join us here and there. And if they don’t, it’s not going to be because of us. But they’re never going to be in Kiss again.”

Ace has been quite clear in recent months – he wants to be back in Kiss for their End of the Road tour.  The fans would be on board for that.  Kiss, meanwhile, continually shoot down these hopes, while proclaiming their show to be the best live performance ever.  They have questioned Ace’s ability to do a gruelling tour like this.  It seems Frehley has had enough of Gene’s trash talk.  Perhaps on his next covers album, Ace should tackle “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, because it sure sounds like he ain’t gonna take it anymore!

Let’s look at Ace’s statement piece by piece.

 

“Gene, your memory is really incorrect!”

 

Gene forgets the words to his own songs, and often inflates his own history.  At this point I think Gene simply “remembers” what he wants to.

 

“…I was NEVER FIRED from KISS, I quit twice (not 3-times) of my own free will, because you and Paul are control freaks, untrustworthy and were too difficult to work with!”

 

Gene was clearly talking about both Ace and Peter in that sentence about being fired “three times”.  Peter was indeed in and out three times.  But Ace is right, he was never fired from Kiss.  He quit both times.  The reasons he quit are not as clear as he’s making it sound.  He had severe substance abuse problems at the time and probably wasn’t thinking clearly or even functioning normally.  Yes, Paul and Gene are control freaks when it comes to their brand, but I’m sure they have a different perspective on who was difficult to work with.  Ace’s statement could very well be the pot calling the demon-kettle black.

 

“…Your slanderous remarks about my bad habits over the years has cost me millions of dollars and now that I’m over 12-years sober you’re still saying I can’t be trusted to play a whole nights show! Well that’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the last 12-years with different configurations of ‘The Ace Frehley Band’ to you and Paul’s dismay!”

 

Slander is only slander when it’s not true.  Ace’s “bad habits” are well documented.  Being sober for 12 years is an achievement to be proud of, but I don’t think that is what Gene and Paul are talking about.  Once bitten, twice shy.  They’re very wary of working with Ace under those high-pressure situations.  A tour that like can cause a relapse in anyone.  It is not going to be an easy tour for those guys at that age.  It really helps to have younger guys like Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer behind them on tour.

 

“…I’m also the most successful solo artist to come out of the original KISS lineup, and proud of it!…You and Paul have tried to derail my solo career multiple times over the years unsuccessfully.”

 

True, Ace has had the most successful solo career, but there’s not much competition.  Saying that Paul and Gene have tried to derail it?  Multiple times?  That could indeed be slander.  Where’s your proof, Ace?  Did Gene go to Megaforce and say “Don’t promote Ace’s records”?  Of course he didn’t.  Innuendo like this just comes across as someone making excuses for their own perceived lack of success.  Gene was probably not all that helpful in the 80s, but shouldn’t that be water under the bridge this many years later?  Gene wrote songs for your new album, Ace!  Frehley was invited to be the opening act for Gene’s solo tour.  It went so well that Ace hired Gene’s solo band.  The point is, Gene’s been doing a lot lately that should have benefited both of you.  That’s not derailing anything.  Anything else should be ancient history now.

Of course, maybe by “derailing”, Ace’s wife refers to the time in the 70’s that Gene and Paul “tried to have Ace killed“.

 

“…I’ve tried to be nice and friendly by inviting you and Paul to perform on my past albums for eOne Music, give each of you guys one of my prized Gibson Les Paul 59’ models, but today’s comments have made me realize you’re just an asshole and a sex addict who’s being sued by multiple Women, and you’re just trying to sweep it all under the carpet!

“…The icing on the cake was when you groped my wife and propositioned her in Los Angeles at the Capitol Records building behind my back, when I was trying to help you out at one of your ‘Vault Experiences’ which I only found out about several weeks later…she was planning on pursuing a suit against you, but I told her to call it off!!!”

 

Woah!  Heavy shots fired!

Having Paul and Gene performing on Ace’s solo albums was a dream come true for the fans.  This is the kind of thing they have always wanted.  Kiss heroes working together!  United front!  The cooperation between members over the last few years has been an unexpected treat.  Now suddenly Ace is bringing up Gene’s womanizing.  Whether the event Ace’s wife is alleging ever happened as stated, we don’t know.  Gene is a flirt and may have been making inappropriate jokes.  But if it did happen, airing it in public isn’t helping anyone.  Deal with this stuff privately!  If Ace wants back in Kiss, how the hell does he expect that to happen now?

 

“…Well now the gloves are off after your terrible comments today and I’m thinking that this really may be ‘The End Of The Road Tour’ for you guys!!!”

 

Hopefully it’s the end of the road for real, because listening to Paul singing is painful.  He was one of the true greats.  Now he’s the worst singer in Kiss, but I digress.  “Gloves are off”?  What does that even mean?  Are we about to witness a geriatric street brawl?  That outta be amusing.

Now, here’s the real kicker below:

 

“….Without a complete and heartfelt apology, an offer to give me my old job back, and removing Tommy from the Throne that I created… THE SHIT WILL HIT THE FAN AND THEY’LL BE NO STOPPING IT – IT’S ON!!!”

 

(Oooft, grammar.  “THERE’ll be no stopping it”.)

Hahah!  Hah.  You’re joking, right Ace?  When does Gene Simmons offer complete and heartfelt apologies?  Very rarely, and not after being attacked by ex-bandmates.  To demand his old job back in this way is not only ridiculous, but a flight of pure fancy.  This will only put Kiss’ backs up to the wall.

If Ace had any chance of joining Kiss on tour this year, I’d say he has blown it completely.  I will say it:  Ace Frehley will never be on the same stage as Kiss on the End of the Road tour.  That door has closed.

Let me put what Ace is asking in my own words.  Tell me how it sounds to you.

“Gene, you better stop talking shit about me, and you better apologise to me and my wife for what I’m alleging without proof!  After that, I want you to fire Tommy Thayer regardless of whatever contracts you have in place or what your relationship is.  Even though I haven’t played stadiums in almost two decades, your only option now is to welcome me back with open arms!  If you don’t…empty threat!  Empty threat!  Empty threat!”

I am in no way defending Gene Simmons or Kiss.  Gene could have spoken far more kindly of both Ace and Peter over the years.  Kind words are free to offer, and solidarity does a lot for a band’s image.  Ace’s statement simply escalates this in a childish, juvenile way.

We are now in the Twilight Zone with a group of bickering children.  Rock and roll, baby?

 

#732: Where the Hell Am I?

GETTING MORE TALE #732: Where the Hell Am I?

What is the most important information to possess when you’re shopping?  Is it your shopping list?  Is it money?

No friends, that is not what matters most.  What you need to know most of all is where the hell you actually are.

I was working at the Record Store in the late 90s.  We had big red gift certificates in different denominations.  They had our logo printed on them.  You could use them at any of our locations.  They were pretty standard gift certificates, like any other store might have.  Today virtually everybody has switched to magnetic gift cards instead, which undoubtedly saves on paper.

A family came in one afternoon looking to spend.  They had over a hundred dollars in gift certificates.  Enough for the whole family to enjoy.  Collectively they had numerous questions, but were courteous and friendly.  I spent roughly an hour with them, helping them find songs and retrieving CDs for them to listen to.  They narrowed down their pile of CDs to the discs they wanted most.  Then we got to the checkout counter.

I made sure each case had the right CD inside, and I made sure each one was clean.  I rang them up and told them the total, when the man handed me a little blue HMV gift certificate.

My heart sank.

“This isn’t us, this is for HMV,” I informed the man.

“This isn’t HMV?”  He was stunned!

No!  This isn’t HMV!  Didn’t you notice all our massive signage?  Also, all our CDs are used!  When was the last time you saw a used CD at an HMV store?  My mind was screaming all of these things silently as the man.

What bugged me the most wasn’t all the wasted time on these people, it was that he was actually angry!  Angry at who?  If it were me, I’d be super embarrassed but I sure as hell wouldn’t be angry.  I would also be sure to buy something — anything — to make up for all the time the store spent on me.  This guy escorted his family out, leaving all the discs with me at the counter.

I’m sure the boss man was thrilled when I told him this story, and how effective all our store signage was!


Now a story of my own, but without the temper tantrum.

As many of you know, my friend Jason and I collect Transformers.  There are not really any decent toy stores in Kitchener.  We have a Toys R Us and an EB Games.  Up in Waterloo, there’s a good store called J&J’s, but they don’t carry Transformers.  (I did, however, buy up their GI Joes.)  Cambridge is the place to be for toy shopping.

I took a day off work to go toy shopping with Jay.  First we hit a place called The Toy Society, which is an excellent store for vintage action figures.  A little bit of every genre.  It’s hard to leave without spending money.  But Jay and I had a specific goal that day, which was to check out our friend Dan’s new store.

Dan owns B&K Collectables, which if you collect Pops, is now the place to go to get ’em.  He also carries vintage G1 and new Masterpiece Transformers.  His prices are high but when I buy a vintage figure from him, I know it’s complete and in working condition.  He’s never let me down, and I have scored several rare boxed G1 figures from him over the years.  He used to sell by mail, but in 2016 he opened an actual storefront, in a shared space with a computer store.

Jay and I hadn’t been there yet, and so partially planned this day to check out Dan’s store.  We knew roughly where it was, on Queen Street down by Len’s Mill Store.  We parked and started looking.

“This must be it,” said Jay as we entered a toy store.

We looked and took it all in.  There was a guy working near the back.

“BIG DAN!” shouted Jay.

The guy turned around.  He was big but he was not Dan.

“Did Dan hire someone?” I whispered to Jay.

“Sorry, is Dan around?” said Jay to the started toy store guy.

“No,” he answered simply, but probably confused.

“OK, thanks,” we said as we looked around for a bit.  The store was cool but he didn’t have any Transformers.  We had to be in the wrong place.  Turns out, it was a store called Playin’ Around.  B&K Collectables was still a few more doors down!

Once we found Dan, we had a laugh at our embarrassment.  As usual, his assortment of vintage figures was impressive.  I had my eyes on a complete G2 Megatron, but Jay was more excited about G1 Blitzwing.

“Holy shit you have Blitzwing!” said an excited Jay.  A customer over in the computer half of the store was amused by his excitement.  “I can’t believe you have a G1 Blitzwing, is he complete?”

The computer customer walked over.  “OK, I have to see what a G1 Blitzwing is, if it’s this exciting.”

Jay explained to him, “He’s a triple changer!  He changes into a plane AND a tank.”

“Ahh,” said the guy.

You have to have fun with shit.  Here I am with Jay, two guys in their 40s buying toys in the hundreds of dollars.  The computer guy thinks we’re nuts.  We also walked into a store and accidentally scared a guy by yelling “BIG DAN!”  It’s funny.  The guy with the HMV gift certificate could have made that experience so much better for everybody if he just saw the humour in it (and bought something for all my efforts).

Don’t be angry.  If you’re a dumb shit, just own it and laugh it off.  Ponoby’s nerfect, nam.

 

 

 

#731: Do as I say, not as I do

There are a few stories I held back from the original Record Store Tales because I didn’t want to get anyone into any trouble.  In this case, 24 years have gone by so I think it’s too late for this story to do any damage.  I was 21 years old, and as green as spinach.

When I first started, one of the earliest lessons I was taught was “Do as I say, not as I do.”  That came in handy the one time I witnessed a customer get physically hit by staff!

He was a kid.  He didn’t get hit hard.  It was a light smack on the brim of the hat.  And it was still shocking.

This kid came in wanting to return a CD.  I was still in training.  The guy behind the counter wasn’t too happy about the condition it was in.  He concluded the kid was trying to rip us off.  There was a bit of an argument about it.  The kid threatened to go downtown to “Mister Disc” from then on, and that’s when he got smacked in the head and called “Junior”!

“Do as I say, not as I do,” indeed!  So I never hit any customers!  The kid never came back, but could you imagine if that happened in 2018?  You’d have vigils and boycotts and Twitter going into overdrive.  In 1994, you just had an embarrassed kid leaving with his tail between his legs.

 

#730: It’s 2019. How do I play a record backwards?

GETTING MORE TALE #730: It’s 2019. How do I play a record backwards?

The fellows from Spinal Tap once lamented that there must be a conspiracy between the Dutch and the Japanese to eliminate any audio medium that you can play backwards.

There’s no proof, but Spinal Tap are not the kind of band who require proof.  The Dutch (Phillips) developed the compact cassette.  The Dutch and Japanese (Phillips and Sony) created the CD together.  You simply couldn’t play either format backwards, like you could with the good ol’ LP.  When the record was “finally” replaced by CD, it really did seem like playing music backwards to look for hidden messages was over and done.  How was Satan to communicate with teenagers like he did in the 1980s?

The 90s and early 2000s were a dark time for backwards messages.  It seemed like playing albums backwards would forever remain a thing of the past.  It was actually a real thing that some people did!  I have.  I played my Iron Maiden Piece of Mind LP backwards to find out what the hell Nicko McBrain was saying at the start of “Still Life”.  With the record on the platter, I cued the needle and spun the record backwards with my index finger.  It didn’t work very well, because I couldn’t keep a constant speed.  The pitch was all over the place.  Plus Nicko was using a comical accent, with reverb added.  Playing it backwards with a wobbly pitch meant I still could not tell what Nicko was saying!

This method of playing records backward wasn’t good for the player, the needle, or the vinyl.  We knew that; we just didn’t care.  We had cheap shit and it really didn’t make a difference.  The time to play a record backwards was when you had cheap kiddie equipment.


“Oh my God, Chicago kicks ass!”

So how can kids play music backwards today?  Without being able to play back-masked messages, can they truly enjoy the albums as completely as we did?  Thankfully, playing your records backwards is easier today than ever.  Thanks to “computer magic” (using Spinal Tap’s words) you can do it quickly and more easily than ever before.

STEP 1:  Download Audacity.  It’s free, easy to use, and very solid.

STEP 2:  Record your vinyl (forwards) into Audacity using a USB turntable.  Or, even easier:  load any track from your computer into Audacity.  For this demonstration we’re using the aforementioned “Still Life” by Iron Maiden.  The backwards spoken word Nicko bit is isolated by deleting the entire rest of the song.  (I’ve also boosted the volume on this part, which is quite quiet.  Now you can see the waveform more easily.)

STEP 3:  Highlight the entire track.  Click “Effects” and “Reverse”.

STEP 4:  Press play!  With just a glance you can see the waveform is completely reversed.

What’s Nicko saying?  Even playing it backwards at a constant pitch, it’s still impossible to tell what it is without enlisting the help of the internet, who have already solved this riddle.

“Hmm, hmm!” sniffs Nicko.  “What hoo said de t’ing wit de t’ree bonce.”   Roughly translated:  “What said the thing with the three heads?”  You might recognise “what hoo said de t’ing” as one of Nicko’s favourite phrases.  It appears again on Maiden’s “Black Bart Blues”.  Then he warns, “Dooon’t meddle wit t’ings you don’ unnerstand.”  Good advice for anyone.  Then finally, a belch!  It’s still all but unintelligible, even digitally reversed.

We had much  more success with an older record, Great White North by Bob & Doug McKenzie.  On the track “Black Holes”, you can choose to highlight and reverse only the backwards part of the track.  When you do it in Audacity, it’s a perfect digital reverse.  You can play it and it’s indistinguishable from any of the rest of the album.  In the waveform below, you can see the reversed section highlighted.  When you play the whole track like this, it’s perfectly seamless.

Now you can say that you learned something useful today.  Go ahead and try it on your Slayer albums now!

 

#729.7: The Mighty Tom’s Top 16 of 2018

Before we get going on our final list (which is a good one I assure you), I’d like to say a few words about irony.

Every year before we went to a new on-site voting system, Tom would rant and rave about getting our Sausagefest lists in.  “PAY YOUR ROCK AND ROLL TAXES”, went the mantra.  He’d make posts and memes about it.  Hell, I’ve posted some of his memes!

 

So the irony is, Tom the Taxman was last with his 2018 list for me this year.  That’s all.  Tom, the guy always wanting the lists in early…was last with his list.  

In his defence he said, “Whoa…there was no timeline or due date…as far as I’m concerned I have until the 31st at 11:59.”  He then goes on to throw Uncle Meat under the bus!  “Meat stole most of mine, he didn’t even have a list two weeks ago…”  

That almost sounds like “the dog ate my homework!”  More irony?  Tom’s a teacher!

Onto the mighty list!


 

TOP 16 OF 2018

16. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity
Late comer…just got it yesterday…might be higher on the list after a few more spins…Nothing like this…Devo on coke…and other shenanigans.

15. Tenacious D – Post-Apocalypto
Let down? Yes….But if I can hear J.B. belt out , “I’m the Daddy Ding Dong” I’m in!

14. Mos Generator – Shadowlands
Doomy, stonery, riffy, heavy…revolutionary? Nah…just rawk!

13. Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe
A return to form…Wished I liked the Alex Lifeson track more, but it’s a meandering mess…

12. Yes – Fly From Here (Return Flight)
Originally recorded in 2011, this version has Trevor Horn on lead vocals and a couple more bells and whistles. With Horn at the helm it features the lineup that produced 1980’s grossly under-rated Drama album. Any fan of that masterpiece will find much to like here. (But probably not Steve Howe’s vocal debut “Don’t Take No For An Answer” which would work much better as a B-side, or better yet a No-side.)

11. Brant Bjork – Mankind Woman
Is there a cooler dude alive? Probably not. He was a driving force in both Fu Manchu and the mighty Kyuss for fuck sake…This slice of classic heavy rock is direct yet it does have flavours of blues, jazz and even bit of funk that spices it up. Solid rawk!

10. Ghost – Prequelle
Love the sax…hate their homage to Asia, “Dance Macabre”…Overall, Satanic ear honey…which they’ve done better before.

9. Magpie Salute – High Water I
Is it the Black Crowes? Not really…But it comes from the same rock’n’roll, Americana and southern blues spring…And it has Marc fucking Ford on it…looking forward to High Water II this year.

8. Adam’s House Cat – Town Burned Down
One of the odder releases this year…since it was recorded over 20 years ago. The little rock ‘n’ roll acorn that would grow into the mighty oak that is the Drive-By Truckers. Not just a curio however, but great, gritty American rock (with smatterings of early R.E.M.).

7. Necromancers – Blood & Wine
Sophomore slump? Only if you compare it to their phenomenal debut (my #1 last year). A heavy dose of guitar riffage from Satan’s apothecary.

6. John Prine – Tree of Forgiveness
My favourite songwriter. Darkly comic with a heart of pure gold. Writes about the essence of a situation, and sings them in a way that you know it’s the truth. I love this man.

5. The Sword – Used Future
Played the shit outta this…Love how they’re stretching out with their sound and finding ways out of the metal box…but still retaining the noodly rock greatness that keeps them heavy.

4. Voivod – The Wake
I just knew this sucker was going to be good…their last few have been great (Target Earth a gem)…but I didn’t think it was going to be this good. Thrash, punk, prog, jazz…King Crimson at there most pissed off and ragged…You know you’re listening to a Voivod album and that these francophone fucks are still giving a shit! I love the variance of the tempos and textures of the songs that allow the riffs to burrow deep.

3. Clutch – Book Of Bad Decisions
God damn! These guys cannot make a shitty album. Heavy groove merchants with wickedly fun and fucked-up lyrics that always put a smile on my face as I belt them out. This album would make this list for the strutting horn-driven “In Walks Barbarella” alone… Making heavy metal fun and in-the-pocket funky…

2. Orange Goblin – The Wolf Bites Back
These guys should be huge. Their diverse influences are expanding their heavy metal pallet, and it is all so fucking cool. Orange Fucking Goblin baby!

1. Crazy Bull – The Past Is Today
Thanks to Classic Rock’s July free CD I was turned on to this album of southern fried heavy riff rock at it’s groovy gritty best. Skynyrd, Hatchet and more than a few nods to Brits Wishbone Ash. Sumptuous riffs, and leads and solos that put a smile on your face….

 

 

 

 


Thanks to Tom for his awesome list.  I’m placing an Amazon order for Tenacious D and Voivod right now!

#729.6: Dr. Dave’s Late 2018 List

A couple lists arrived late this year, so let’s keep rolling with ’em!  (The lateness of the lists will be addressed next post.)

I witnessed Dr. Dave Haslam play in four bands this year:  1. Mickey Straight 2. Nancy Vicious & the Nasty Bitches 3. The Helen Keller Band 4. Max the Axe.  He has the rock and roll skills and credentials, so pay attention.  Here’s the good Dr. Dave!


 

DR. DAVE’S TOP “TEN” FOR 2018

When I glance over my (extended) list for this year, I must admit to being a little underwhelmed. There are some pleasant surprises, but other than the last few entries of my list nothing much really kicked the pants off me. Mind you, I might have slept on an album or two that I may hold in high regard a year or two from now because that’s how I roll. If last year was the year of progressive doom for me, this year is more all over the place. There are some usual suspects and a few true outliers.

First, a few “close but no cigar” awards go to:

  • Sleep The Sciences
  • Fu Manchu Clone of the Universe
  • Sargeist Unbound
  • Yob Our Raw Heart 
  • Orange Goblin The Wolf Bites Back

tl;dd (“too late; didn’t digest”):

  • Ihsahn Amr  
  • Uncle Acid and the DeadbeatsWasteland
  • Rivers of Nihil Where Owls Know My Name (shit, this one is insane – proggy death metal that all of a sudden drops into slow jazz bass lines and then a sax solo – WTF?  I will be listening to this a lot over the next year…4 and a half minutes into this album – what the utter fuck? WOW.)
  • FailureIn the Future Your Body Will Be the Furthest Thing From Your Mind (LOVE this band – didn’t hear this much, and it’s not as immediately engaging as their last one, but anything new by them is a real treat).

Starting at the bottom…

12.    Judas Priest Firepower

I’ve pretty much avoided Judas Priest in recent years. Of course I respect the hell out of them as one of a handful of bands that invented heavy metal, but I have a bone to pick with them. A band like Black Sabbath has given birth not only to metal itself but to various sub-genres like stoner metal and doom (even thrash, see “Symptom of the Universe”), and anyone familiar with my recent lists knows that I loves me the doom, particularly when it gets pushed in more progressive directions, like Pallbearer and Elder. And I’ve certainly indulged in the stoner over the years. BUT – other than Manowar (a band I have never cared for), Judas Priest is perhaps most responsible for spawning “power metal.”  And therein lies the problem. Power metal is easily my least favorite type of metal (well, besides tungsten, because fuck tungsten). And so, in my own petty, meagre, utterly irrelevant way, I have been punishing them for that. The thing is, Firepower is a really good album. That new kid has learned his lessons well! Respect.

 

11.   DrudkhThey Often See Dreams About the Spring

So this gets a little fucky because, in terms of their discography, this album sits solidly in the bottom half in terms of quality. But it was a nice surprise (they are Ukrainian, and I had no idea that it was even being made, let alone released). They’ve still got the kind of skewed, deliciously dissonant riffage that made me fall for them in the first place, but the last couple of albums have presented a diminishing returns problem.

 

10.   WinterfyllethThe Hallowing of Heirdom

The best thing that ever happened to English black metal (as far as I’m concerned) decided to throw a curveball and release a totally acoustic album full of plaintive, melancholic, beautiful songs based on old English poems and folktales. This is some prime Hobbit-diddling music (if you’re into that sort of thing – I prefer dwarf-tossing and elf-peeping, like my good friend Peeping Tom Bombadil). Definitely Game of Thrones soundtrack-worthy, and it’s great to have on in the background when doing chores, or you want to grade student papers without approaching that particular task like Ramsay Bolton.

 

9.    ClutchThe Book of Bad Decisions

As Tom Morwood once said, “Clutch just don’t make bad albums.”  Agreed!  This album is a bit of a let down still, because I simply haven’t loved it as much as the previous two. But fuck it, it’s Clutch. “In Walks Barbarella” is one of the songs of the year.

 

8.    The Ocean Phanerozoic I: Paleozoic

These German science nerds write concept albums about ENTIRE EPOCHS OF EARTH’S FUCKING GEOLOGICAL AND BIOLOGICAL HISTORY.  I didn’t think they were going to top 2013’s Pelagial, and I don’t think they have.  This album has a song on it called “Age of Sea Scorpions” and all I can picture is Klaus Meine, leather glistening, striding out from the prehistoric sea towards some damp scorpion the size of a Winnebago, which awaits him, on the leafy beach, to do battle.

 

7.    GhostPrequelle

Let the roasting begin!  Ha. I really only love half of this album (“Rats,” “Faith,” “Witch Image,” the instrumentals). It’s a shame that the band is such a dictatorship, but they wouldn’t be Ghost without it. Tobias Forge’s more saccharine tendencies are let loose on this album, and unless you are in the right mood they can really make America grate again. But it’s intrinsically cheesy, and they (he) were always looking to be bigger, and more, than just a metal band. But if it really is him writing the riffs to “Rats,” then I say hats off to him (not that it’s rocket surgery, but still). There IS too much fluff on this album, and I can’t really object when people say the first album is their best. Now, if “Square Hammer” had been on this album instead of “See The Light,” then this would be a different conversation. Come to think of it, why wasn’t it?

 

6.    Immortal Northern Chaos Gods

An Immortal album without Abbath? How is that going to work?

Quite well, actually.

I loved Abbath’s first solo album (it was my #1 last year), and if this doesn’t quite have the highs of that album, it is, if anything, more consistent. One thing Abbath can do better than Immortal-without-Abbath is groove in mid-tempo, though this album does try to do that in songs like “Gates to Blasyrkh.”  But they basically end up repeating bits from Sons of Northern Darkness. But NCG doesn’t care much about the mid-tempo, and the drummer is the same axe-wielding cave-dweller, and this has blast-beats all over the place. When you are riding in to do battle against the trolls on the back of a huge wolf, this is what you want or your iPod.

 

5.    PanopticonThe Scars of Man on the Once Nameless Wilderness

Not the first time Austin Lunn has featured on my list, and probably not the last. If you’re going to combine black metal with bluegrass/Americana, and do it incredibly well, then at some point you’re going to have a surfeit of material, and start thinking about releasing a double album. But you’ll split the black metal side and the hillbilly pickin’ into separate albums and release them as one package. It’s like if the Odd Couple had to make an album, but instead of collaborating on songs they made their own distinct albums. But they really were in love the whole time, and despite the glaring disconnections they belong together. Just, you know, in separate rooms. But the black metal part is not to be denied because all of the traditionally obnoxious stuff (well, not all of it…) is minimized, and it has a very organic feel, particularly in the drum department. And the countryish stuff on the second album is completely convincing.

 

4.    Lubomyr MelnykFallen Trees

And now for something completely different. Lubomyr Melnyk was born in Ukraine and came to Canada as a wee lad and has earned himself the title of fastest pianist in the world. But if you think that sounds like Yngwie Malmsteen shred-wankery on a piano you’d be missing the mark by a wide margin. The compositions are quite beautiful, and from what I can tell the density of the notes come from each hand playing intersecting arpeggios with the sustain pedal on all the time, resulting in what Melnyk calls “continuous music.” The result is a complex cascade of notes that is more mesmerizing than indecipherable. I can almost feel brain cells re-growing as I listen to this stuff. It’s hard to find actual recordings of him, which is a shame since he has spent time homeless (in Winnipeg, no less), and deserves far more attention as a Canadian musical treasure.

 

3.   High on Fire – Electric Messiah

Matt Fucking Pike. This shirtless metal titan has made many a year-end list either for Sleep or High on Fire. I’m sure the 28-year-old me would have jizzed all over The Sciences, but for several years I’ve preferred to board the High on Fire train, and like Clutch they never disappoint. They really took it up a notch with Snakes for the Divine in 2010, and there are moments on this album that recall the mammoth and indescribably awesome title track of that fantastic album. That can only be a good thing, but I also get the sense that Pike is steadily progressing as a guitar player and songwriter. It’s as vicious as ever, but there’s more science to the heaviosity now.

 

2.   VoivodThe Wake

Snake and Away are doing their thing just fine, but it’s the new guys who own this album. Rocky’s bass guitar tone is mid-rangy but still has balls, and his ear for what the riff requires is impeccable. And Chewy? How do you innovate without alienating the ancient ones? How do you pay homage to tradition without sounding derivative? Chewy has all the answers. Best thing they’ve done since The Outer Limits.

 

1.  SlugdgeEsoteric Malacology

Slugdge has been a small obsession of mine for the past year (along with Failure, and if you don’t know them then you need to get with the program). Hail Mollusca! How can “technical death metal” be so catchy?  Take a bunch of Akercocke, a good bit of Carcass, throw in some Mastodon and Gojira for spice, and you’ll have all kinds of slimy, invertebrate fun. Now that they’ve acquired a human drummer, I can’t wait to see where they go next. Perhaps on the road, and not just in England? Please?


 

Other random entertainment mentions:

 

The Expanse – it might be a tad pat to call it Game of Thrones in space, but it kind of is, and it’s a hell of a lot more interesting than the last couple of Star Wars movies. Just more evidence that long-form television can kick the shit out of Hollywood almost any day of the year, and the exceptions are increasingly fewer and farther between.

Failure – I remember 20 years ago when you couldn’t cruise the bargain bin of any music store without seeing a copy of Fantastic Planet, and now I’d pay top dollar for one of those things. They are back and mean business, picking up right where they left off. Spacey, arty, but still accessible, they were covered by A Perfect Circle way back when, and they are just as good a band. 2015’s The Heart is a Monster is itself a monster. This band needs more love.

Solo – Don’t know, haven’t watched. Do I want to? Frankly, I don’t know. If it’s too much like The Force Awakens or The Last Jedi then I might just pass. Why is it so hard to use some of that insane Disney money to hire someone that can write a script that is interesting, creative, and compelling, and doesn’t rip off the earlier movies over and over again? Why is it so hard to write dialogue that doesn’t have me rolling my fucking eyes every three minutes? Is that too much to ask? Fun fact: 75% (at least) of any screenplay is people talking to each other. If you can’t do that well, then your script sucks. Pretty simple math, actually. Either start over, or delegate the task to someone with talent.*


* Way to rant about a movie you’ve never seen Haslam!  At least he hates tungsten.

 

 

 

#729.5: Silver Linings & Thanks 2018

GETTING MORE TALE #729.5: Silver Linings & Thanks 2018

This year, my wife beat cancer.  Her mom did not.  Those two things defined my entire year.

I kept up with this writing stuff the best I could, at the expense of reading and commenting.  For that I apologise.  For the first time ever, I even put this place in mothballs as I went on a summer hiatus to deal with everything else.  It was very necessary, even if it meant losing the chance to run an advertorial for my favourite band, Kiss.

By a strange happenstance, despite not being able to give you 100% in 2018, it was our most successful year in terms of hits.  With the exception of 2016, every year here has been an increase over the previous.  I didn’t expect that 2018’s numbers would be so high, so thank you for not forgetting about me!

Here are the Top New Posts of 2018 by hits:

  1. TRAILER PARK BOYS Season 12 (1420 hits)
  2. A Call from “Visa/Mastercard” (639 hits)
  3. JOHN CORABI – One Night in Nashville (603 hits)
  4. GUNS N’ ROSES “Not In This Lifetime” Tour advertorial (458 hits)
  5. READER SPOTLIGHT – Harrison from Down Under (307 hits)*

This doesn’t include old content from previous years that are still perennially popular:  Trailer Park Boys Season 11 (2350 hits, bigger than Season 12!), the Intro to the Kiss Re-Review Series (1650 hits), Van Halen – Zero (1170 hits) and many more.  The Van Halen post is the oldest (2014) and yet it still gets hits every year.

* These stats were compiled on December 29 and do not reflect the last two days of 2018, as if you care.


2018 wouldn’t have been as successful as it was if I didn’t have guest contributors.  A friend in need is a friend indeed?  These friends stepped up when I was unable to do it myself.  All these contributions were a big part of our successful 2018.  So let’s give a second look to the awesome work below!

 

GUEST SHOTS OF 2018



KIX REVIEW SERIES by Holen MaGroin:

HALLOWEEN REVIEW SERIES by Holen MaGroin:

THANKSGIVING REVIEW by Holen MaGroin:

 


Thanks to Derek, Harrison, Kovaflyer, Holen, and Dr. Dave for your help in 2018.  And also to Uncle Meat, Frank the Tank, and J from Resurrection Songs for your Top Lists of 2018!


FINAL WORDS OF 2018

Regardless of the setbacks, I did accomplish a goal this year.  I wanted to fight my fear of crowds and get back out there, and see some shows.  And I did that, twice!  Onto the next show…

…Which was supposed to be Sasquatch: The Opera, brought to you by Roddy Bottum of Faith No More.  Well, that won’t be happening:

This is truly unfortunate for me, as I planned to catch all four performances including an interview with Roddy.  I’ve been assured the interview will still go on, but I won’t get to see Sasquatch as part of it.

One goal that went unaccomplished was finishing the Kiss Re-Review Series.  When it does finally conclude, it’ll be two years in the making.  At least I’ll be able to coincide it with the farewell tour.  This project is not abandoned but I must be able to do it right and that takes time.  It’ll happen, so thanks for your patience.

I’m also planning on launching a series of shorter posts called Just Listening.  This won’t replace reviewing, but any music is on the table for Just Listening, even ones I’ve reviewed before.  I hope you enjoy when it debuts in early 2019.

Have a safe and happy New Year!  If you need some entertainment, then check out the videos below.  These are my Personal Favourite Videos that I Made in 2018!  Please watch and if you’re so inclined, subscribe to my Youtube channel.  See you next year!

1. Sausagefest 2018

2. Mike and Aaron do Taranna 2018

3. Max the Axe – “Randy”

4. Star Wars Black Series random unboxings

5. A Tribute to Superdekes

#729.4: LeBrain’s Unorthodox Top 10 of 2018

Given everything that happened in 2018 (cancer, more cancer, death), I wasn’t as tuned-in to rock and roll as I normally would be.  I missed a lot of new releases, some on purpose, others by accident.  Therefore, this year I’m doing something different from my Top Lists of 2018.  Before we get to the lists, let’s talk about the past 12 months.


2018: RELEASES IN A NUTSHELL

January saw new CDs by Joe Satriani and Corrosion of Conformity, finally reunited with Pepper Keenan on vocals.  There was new Loudness, and a release by Beth Hart & Joe BonamassaDef Leppard had a low-key EP exclusive to iTunes (The Lost Session).  In February we got the return of the mighty Saxon.  March was a big month, featuring Judas Priest, Stone Temple Pilots, Jack White and Myles Kennedy.  The rock kept rolling in April.  The big metal one here was Stryper‘s God Damn Evil, along with new Godsmack and Thirty Seconds to Mars.  During this time I was personally only able to get the Stryper and Priest.

As temperatures warmed in May, Bad Wolves came out with their novelty cover of “Zombie” by the Cranberries which became a predictable hit.  Frank Turner and Five Finger Death Punch also released new records in May.  News in June was unfortunately dominated by Kanye West and Drake, but don’t forget Ghost, The Darkness (with their first live) and Nine Inch Nails!  In July, Halestorm came out with the critically acclaimed ViciousAlice in Chains made their long awaited return in August with Rainier Fog, an album I bought but have not yet fully penetrated.

Autumn began with the biggest name in rock and roll, Sir Paul McCartney himself.  SlashPaul Simon, Lenny Kravitz and Suicidal Tendencies had records out on the same day.  VoiVod, Therapy?, Metric and even Rod Stewart returned in September as well.  October featured two big soundtracks:  Bohemian Rhapsody, and A Star Is BornAce Frehley, Greta Van Fleet, and The Struts came out with new music the same month.  In November we got Mark Knopfler, the Smashing Pumpkins, Ted Nugent and yet another live Beth Hart.  The month closed with the latest Def Leppard best-of.  December boasted Metal Church but not a lot of rock.  Thank the Metal Gods that Max the Axe swooped in with Status Electric to save the year.


I spent most of 2018 checked out mentally.  I missed most of the new releases and have a lot to catch up on.  The summer was spent on Highway 401, and a flash drive loaded with music helped me survive it.  New releases were not the be-all and end-all for me.  Therefore, my Top Albums of 2018 list includes some oldies that just helped me get through it all.  It seems right to do it this way, since I can’t really do a well-curated list of new releases without absorbing them properly.

TOP 10 ALBUMS THAT GOT ME THROUGH 2018

  1. Blotto – Combo Akimbo (1982)
  2. Max the Axe – Status Electric (2018)
  3. Ghost – Prequelle (2018)
  4. The Darkness – Live at Hammersmith  (2018)
  5. Judas Priest – Firepower (2018)
  6. Blotto – Tonight At Toad’s (1982)
  7. Ace Frehley – Spaceman (2018)
  8. Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson & Steve Vai – G3 Live in Concert (1997)
  9. The Sword – Used Future (2018)
  10. Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (1978)

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS

  1. Fu Manchu – Clone of the Universe (2018)
  2. Hello Hopeless – Dark Pasts, Brighter Futures (2018)
  3. Mike Slayen – Dude: A Guitar CD (2018)

TOP MOVIES OF 2018

Can’t do a movie list this year.  Not possible.  I didn’t see ’em all, but one movie blew away all the rest.

  1. Avengers: Infinity War

A PEEK AT 2019

What’s hot for 2019?

  1. Star Wars:  Episode IX
  2. Motley Crue‘s long awaited movie The Dirt, and new songs too.
  3. Dream Theater – Distance Over Time
  4. Avengers:  Endgame
  5. Queensryche – The Verdict

Stay tuned….