RSTs Mk II: Getting More Tale

#787: Mix CD 19 – “Green Album”

GETTING MORE TALE #787: Mix CD 19 – “The Green Album”

As we’ve done in the past, let’s have a look at a mix CD I dug up, from about a decade ago.  It’s an interesting mix, made mostly of stuff I found online.  Any time I’d gather at least 80 minutes worth of downloads, I’d burn them to a CD.  I considered that to be a much more permanent format.  This disc is really just an archive of things I downloaded during a certain period of time in 2008.  The title 19 suggests that it’s the 19th such archive CD that I burned.  More than that though, I made it a good listen.  As usual there are surprises and a few attempts at buffoonery.  Let’s dive in.

The first thing to notice:  There are 23 tracks on the CD, but 19 listed on the front sleeve.  That means I hid four comedic bits somewhere between the songs, to be discovered by surprise.  That’s why I left off the track numbers.

The opener “Big Yellow Joint” is a jingle from the TV show Arrested Development.  Remember the Banana Stand?  In the 60s it was a popular place to meet to buy and sell weed!  But that’s out of the way quickly and it’s “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago from a very poor quality mp3.  “25 or 6 to 4” is the definitive rock song with a horn section.  Find me a better one.

Then, seamlessly, it’s an old childhood favourite:  “Bad to the Bone”!  When you make a mix CD, the software generally defaults to a three second gap between songs.  I liked a tighter flow than that, so I always used one second or even no gap.  This disc is almost 80 minutes long so I used every second I could find.  The transitions on my mix CDs are always top notch.  After George Thorogood, it’s Pat Travers with “Snortin’ Whiskey”.  I was probably hearing these tracks on the radio a lot at the time, so I downloaded ’em and burned ’em.

A really terrible sounding mp3 of “Sonic Reducer” by the Dead Boys reflects my love of the movie Hard Core Logo.  It started with the H.C.L. version of “Sonic Reducer”, and then Pearl Jam’s cover.  If I liked those, I figured I should download the original.  But all this proves to me is why you need to buy the CD.  Downloaded versions suck.  This is sonically not up to par and I’m surprised I was satisfied by this 10 years ago.

The first audio hoodwink follows the Dead Boys.  It’s a 30 second clip from the movie Walk Hard, starring John C. Reilly as Dewey Cox.  This clip features Jack Black as Paul McCartney, Paul Rudd as John Lennon, Justin Long as George Harrison, and Jason Schwartzman as Ringo Starr.

Having a chuckle at the Dewey Cox clip is a perfect way to transition over to a couple good reggae songs by Inner Circle: “Sweat” and (of course) “Bad Boys”! Have a laugh, then get down and dance. I like what I did here, if I do say so myself! Going from that back to rock and roll is tricky, but I think I pulled it off with the very poppy “Fire, Ice & Dynamite” by Deep Purple (Mk V). It’s an oddball rarity, only ever appearing on a Deep Purple DVD as a video slideshow.

One of my favourite 80s songs, the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey” still pleases today. I can only handle the Dead in small doses, but this is my favourite of their songs. It’s probably 50% pop and 50% nostalgia. In keeping with the 80s, it’s Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, a live version with the 1999 lineup supposedly intended for the Sandler flick Big Daddy.  Immediately following is a live version of “Dead Flowers” from an earlier time.  Ah, Limewire!  I remember regularly typing in searches like “Guns N’ Roses rare” or “Guns N’ Roses live” and downloading anything I could get my digital digits on.  It was also hit and miss in terms of quality.  These are bootleggy but not excessively so.

I remember watching Napoleon Dynamite a fuck of a lot back then.  I used the presentation Napoleon gave about the Loch Ness monster for the next unlisted comedy bit.  Then it’s another rarity, also only available as a bonus track on a DVD:  “Nobody Knows What It’s Like to Be Lonely” by Motley Crue.  The track is 7:05 long, and every fan of Too Fast For Love needs to hear it and have it.  “Song to Slit Your Wrist By”, which I used to think was by Motley Crue but is actually by Nikki Sixx’s 58, is a waste of time that I shouldn’t have included.  I thought I had downloaded a rare Japanese bonus track.  In a cruel twist, Motley included a 58 song on the Japanese edition of Generation Swine, forcing me to seek it out, not realizing it wasn’t actually Motley Crue.

In the very first instalment of Getting More Tale called That Crush on Avril, my not-so-secret affection for Avril Lavigne was revealed.  Let’s be honest, folks — her second album rocked.  I still like it.  She’s never rocked heavy like that since, and I’ve long since gotten off the train.  This CD has a rare acoustic version of “Complicated”, but far better then that is Weird Al’s parody “A Complicated Song”.

“Why’d you have to go and make me so constipated?
‘Cause right now I’d do anything to just get my bowels evacuated,
In the bathroom I sit and I wait and I strain,
And I sweat and I clench and I feel the pain,
Oh, should I take laxatives or have my colon irrigated?”

Keeping the comedy going, it’s a clip from Arrested Development with Jason Bateman and Michael Cera.  It’s a good show; you should watch it.

In 2008, Harem Scarem released a free official download:  a recent live version of “Hard To Love”.  This was intended as a final gift to fans, since the band were breaking up.  Temporarily, thank you very much!  The live version shows off the band’s impressive singing abilities, and of course being an official download, the sound quality is all but perfect.  I followed that with a live radio performance by ex-Tesla guitarist Tommy Skeoch, a song called “I Left the Circus”.  Well, I think technically he was kicked out of the circus.  It’s a jokey song about Tesla.  According to Skeoch in the intro, one of the guys from Tesla heard it and took it well.  “Although he’s kind of a pompous fuck and I don’t really like him.”  I’m glad I downloaded this; I don’t know how you’d find it today.  Who knows what radio show I downloaded it from.  The LeBrain Library is a storehouse for things like this.  I keep things that the record companies lose in massive fires.

Too soon?

In the late 80s, Robbie Robertson had a popular single called “Somewhere Down the Crazy River”, from his solo debut.  Some like it, some hate it, but it’s a remarkable song.  It sounds both retro and futuristic.  It featured a weird electronic instrument called the Omnichord, and an explosive chorus accompanied by Sammy BoDean.  A lot of this CD, scattershot as it is, features songs I enjoyed in my youth, but don’t own the albums.  I should fix that.

After a final sketch from the movie Superbad (“I’m gonna cry myself to sleep every night.  When I’m out partying”) it’s the ultimate rock comedy of all time.  Can you guess what that might be?  No, not Spinal Tap.  No, not Bad News either.  It’s Van Halen’s isolated vocal track of “Runnin With the Devil”!

Weird CD indeed, random but with a lot of effort to make it cohesive and listenable.  I’ll give myself:

4/5 stars

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#786: R.I.P. The (Flying) Spatula

“It is with sadness that we announce that as of October 27, 2019, The Spatula Diner will be closing its doors.”

 

Sadness?  For the staff, surely.  For us, it’s more like mixed emotions.  Yes, the Sausagefest crew has enjoyed breakfast there for almost two decades.  We hadn’t planned on returning in 2020 even before the closure.  A shrunken menu and poor service made up our minds for us.  Our favourite meal was the breakfast monstrosity known as the Flesherton Fillup.  Under new management, it ceased to exist.  Remember when Uncle Meat had this conversation in July with the server?

“When did you get rid of the Flesherton Fillup?” he asked.

“Oh, we haven’t had that in a long time,” she responded.

“We were here last year and you had it then, I’m just surprised,” said Meat.

Condescendingly she answered, “Isn’t a year a long time?”

Relatively, but when you’re in a location like Flesherton Ontario where the business is seasonal, expect to be asked that question more than once.

Admittedly, we could have been…more considerate as customers.  We could have called in advance to let them know they were about to be slammed by 30 hungry, sweaty guys.  I would have preferred to do it that way, but was shot down every time!

Goodbye, Flying Spatula.  Many a good steak-n-eggs and Flesherton Fillups were enjoyed there.  But your time had come and parting isn’t always such sweet sorrow.

#784: Black Leather

GETTING MORE TALE #784:  Black Leather

In my earliest memories, watching television with my mom and dad, I remember thinking greasers in black leather jackets looked so cool.  And I think that single impression had a cascading impact through my life.

It probably started with the Fonz.  Arthur Fonzarelli.  Happy Days was one of the most popular TV shows of the 1970s and it was on in our house all time.  At least until Chachi showed up.  My dad did not like Chachi.  But we all liked the Fonz and his pals, Ralph Malph and Richie Cunningham.

I remember discovering rock and roll thanks to TV.  Shows like Happy Days and The Hilarious House of Frightenstein.  Similar to Fonzie was Bowser from Sha Na Na.  It had to be the black leather and black hair.  That and the low voice.  I was obsessed.  I’d go nuts every time Bowser was on.  Along came John Travolta in Welcome Back Kotter.  I loved Vinnie Barbarino.  The black hair and black leather jackets are the only common thread.

The next black hair, black jacket dude to come into my life was Ric Ocasek.  The Cars were “Just What I Needed”, but the song that hooked me (like everyone else) was “You Might Think”.  There was a music video TV show that was on WUTV Buffalo 29 in the early 80s:  The Great Record Album Collection.  It was on right after my after-school cartoons.

I would have seen my first Van Halen and Quiet Riot videos on The Great Record Album Collection, but I absolutely fell for The Cars thanks to that show.  Everybody loved “You Might Think”, but for me it was also the singer.  He had that look that I thought was the absolute pinnacle of cool.  Black hair, jacket, glasses, the works.  Plus he was in a band!  It couldn’t get any cooler.  If you used the most advanced lasers to freeze every atom in your body to the point of absolute zero, you still couldn’t come close to Ric Ocasek’s state of cool.  He was a dominant force in the music video, the visage towering over the beautiful object of his affection.  I didn’t think about how it was creepy that he was watching her from the windows and mirrors, no.  Didn’t occur to me at all.  Put on a black leather jacket and I guess you could get away with anything.

The death of Ric Ocasek has hit me pretty hard.  I’m trying to figure out just why his passing has impacted me more than the usual.  I think it has to do with the very young age I first encountered him, thinking absolutely nothing could be as cool as that guy in the video.  But look at him — he’s not handsome in the classical sense.  He was awkward looking, skinny and gangly.  Kind of like I was.  If that guy could become so cool by singing a song…could I too?

At least this depression has led me to a rediscovery of The Cars, who I haven’t played in a long time.  Hearing their brilliance, song by song by every damn song, reassures me that Ric was anything but just an empty jacket.

And you know what?  I’d still like to be as cool as Ric Ocasek.  I’d rather be him then, say, David Lee Roth.  Ocasek’s cool was effortless.  It was natural.  And that’s what made him the coolest of all.

#783: Take A Look at this Photograph

GETTING MORE TALE #783:  Take A Look at this Photograph

One day in mid ’95, Tom Morwood brought a camera to work at ye olde Record Store.  It was the earliest of days, and I was still working at the original mall store.  “What are you taking pictures in this place for?”  He snapped one of me flashing the devil horns behind the counter.  “Just for the memories man,” he answered.  I’m glad he did it.

He dug up that very same old photo recently, and a like a rush of blood, suddenly memories flooded my brain.  I barely recognised myself, but the store?   I’ll never forget it.  Let’s have a look at the anatomy of this picture and dissect it for details!

Detail #1: Handmade signage!

Before we went corporate, most of the signage was hand made.  Most was done by T-Rev, though “DJ Donny D” helped.  “NOW PLAYING”, “CD CASES”, “RAP/DANCE”.  It looks totally ghetto, like a real record store.  None of this professionally printed generic signage like today.  Now all the stores have to look exactly the same, like a chain.  Back then we could be artistic and do what we wanted.  The boss didn’t think I was very good at making signs so he let T-Rev do the majority.  He was probably right, though it wasn’t for lack of effort, just ability.  And it looks like an actual cool record store.  Not a video arcade or whatever they’re trying to be today.

There’s one sign that isn’t hand made, and that’s the “no smoking” sticker at the cash register!  Can you imagine needing that sticker in a store today?  Also:  cash register!  The first and last one I ever used.  Everything was done on computers after this store closed.

Detail #2:  The fuck is up with ma hair?

It looks black.  It was not black.  I dyed my hair dark once in 2000, but this picture is not from 2000 (as we’ll get to).  It must just be the lighting.  That’s definitely me though.  You can just make out my mullet.  I loved that Laurier sweatshirt!  I’m guessing it’s not summer; it must be a colder month or I wouldn’t be wearing a sweatshirt.  I’m assuming here, but I look really goofy and totally uncool.

Detail #3:  The front racks.

On the top left of the photo you can clearly make out CD and cassette copies of REM’s Monster.  That dates this photo to sometime in 1995.  The album came out in ’94 but Tom wasn’t hired until ’95.  There’s no way it was still front racked all the way into 1996, so it has to be ’95.  I can’t make out the other titles on the front rack.  You can see the plastic security cases that we kept the CDs and tapes in.  Anti-theft devices were not cheap, by the way, but a future chapter called “A Case For Security” will get into this in more detail.

Detail #4:  The magazines.

We used to sell Rolling Stone and Spin.  Funny enough, here we have them displayed in a rack for Vibe magazine!  We stopped carrying Vibe in 1994 but kept using the rack.

Detail #5:  The mirror.

If you glance over to the far right, you can see a vertical line in the wall slats.  That’s actually a corner; the back wall was a mirror.  As told in Getting More Tale #409, it fooled some people.  One day an elderly gentleman asked me if “that section back there is closed to cripples and old men?”  Nope, it’s just a mirror, not a secret room!  We must have kept it pretty clean if we fooled him!

Detail #6:  The CD cases.

Notice there are no clear CD cases there?  Just the ones with the black spines?  We didn’t carry clear cases.  If memory serves, our supplier didn’t carry them until a year or two later.  That meant clear cases were a rare treasured commodity to us.  I have a few memories of needing clear trays to replace broken ones, but not having any lying around.  We had to conserve them.

Detail #7:  Overstock.

See all those CDs behind me?  Those are overstock – additional copies of stuff that was already on display on the racks.  Generally these were titles that were not moving, and I can absolutely guarantee that there are multiple copies Motley Crue ’94 and David Lee Roth’s Your Filthy Little Mouth in this picture.

Detail #8:  Happiness.

Don’t let the metal faced scowl fool you.  This was my happy place.  I don’t care what ex-bosses and regional managers thought.  That store was special.  One of the bosses used to tell me that my nostalgia for the old store was warped by rose-coloured glasses.  I disagree.  Look at this picture.  It’s one guy working in a cramped little music store.  There is nobody looking over my shoulder, no “suits” wheeling and dealing.  We were free to make that store as cool as possible.  We could listen to music of our choosing with few but sensible limits.  Nothing like the spiteful “No Kiss” rule of later years.  (Although you can see here I didn’t display anything under the “Now Playing” sign.  I didn’t like the way the alligator clip could scuff up a case.)  We were responsible for cashing out, doing the bank deposit, and closing up.

Sure, it was a little like working in caveman times to a certain degree.  We had no computer, just a gnarly old cash register.  If you look behind me, under the overstock shelves you can see boxes full of clear plastic baggies.  Each one had a CD inside.  If somebody wanted to know if we had a used CD in stock, we’d flip through the baggies which were in alphabetical order.  Not an exact science but we got the job done.

As the store got bigger, we became more sophisticated, had more buying power, and better stock as a result.  Yet it’s the original store that I’m nostalgic for, not the second or third one with the larger floor space and computerized inventory.  Those stores had their own perks and problems, but they didn’t have as much personality.  Some may disagree.  This isn’t a critique on the owner, either.  He had to do what he had to do in order to grow, put bread on his table, and follow his own dreams.  We understand.  He had a vision and it led him to success.  Together as a tight team, we ran a pretty cool music store.  We all contributed ideas and our talents, and did the best with what we had.  The fact that so many people tell me they have fond memories of that store means it couldn’t have been all that bad.

When I look at this photograph all I see are good memories.  Thanks for the foresight, Tom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

#782: Eliminated Headlight Restored

A sequel to #760: Eliminated Headlight

I saw Eliminator was now a one-eyed cyclops car. A headlight came off and was nowhere in sight. It’s gone. If it had simply fallen off, it would be on the shelf, next to the car. I only had two suspects. One of the two was more credible, while the other claims to know nothing. I know it was my dad!

 

 

GETTING MORE TALE #782:  Eliminated Headlight Restored

The old cottage bedroom isn’t the safe storage space it used to be!

For over 30 years, my old Monogram model kit of ZZ Top’s “Eliminator” car sat undisturbed.  The shelf it occupied was shared by a stunningly beautiful red Ferrari Testarossa, some old books, and several Lego battle droids.  Eliminator’s structure held sound, with only minor repairs needed over the years to keep it intact.

Then one day in 2019 a headlight went missing.  We didn’t need a confession to know that my dad did it while puttering around!

I thought the story was over, but a few weeks ago my dad said to me “I found your headlight”.

What?  Did it just fall behind the bed?

“No, I got you a new one!”

Right on, thanks dad!  Did you find an old model kit on Ebay?

“No, I saw a brand new one at the hobby store and picked it up for you!”

I couldn’t believe my luck!  But what are the chances the kits are the exact same?  Could I simply swap out an old headlight for a brand new one?

Turns out, I can.  Both kits are 1/72 scale, and though the new one is made by Revell instead of Monogram, they are identical.  Revell actually bought out Monogram in 2007, so they must have acquired these old molds and reissued the exact same kit.

Opening the kit and seeing the exact parts, I found myself at a crossroads.  I did a good job back in 1987-88 when I built my original Eliminator.  There are some things I would change; I would have painted the red engine block to be more accurate if I had another crack at it.  And now I do.  Or, I could just glue the new headlight onto the old car and leave it be.

Pros to building a new car:

  • Fixing mistakes I made as a kid, like the engine colour.
  • A higher budget, better tools, access to more paints.

Cons:

  • Possibly screwing up and wrecking a new model kit.
  • I hate, hate, hate water decals.
  • Realising I’m not as good at this as I used to be.

“You know my hands aren’t as steady as they used to be,” I told my dad.

“Fuck your hands!” he responded.

I turned to my mom and asked if she just heard what he told me to do.  She did and said I should write about it.

Betcha didn’t expect that’s where this story would go at the start!  I neglected to take my father’s advice, but vowed to tell the tale in my own way.

The end.

 

 

The ZZ Top Eliminator Project will continue in Summer 2020.  What would you do with the model kit?  Let us know in the comments below.

 

#781: What Happened to C-3PO’s Hand? (Video story)

GETTING MORE TALE #781: What Happened to C-3PO’s Hand? The Story

Pardon the volume on this video, I really struggled with it and then said “fuck it”.

#780: Radio Friends & Exes

GETTING MORE TALE #780: Radio Friends & Exes

I’ll always be grateful to radio for giving me a start.  I won’t rehash the whole story but I used to be a call-in contest winner and then became a semi-regular guest.  Radio is a lot of fun, though I don’t really listen to commercial stations anymore like the one that got my name out there originally.  (I still appear on Rob Daniels’ Visions in Sound, and I’ll be back there in December at the latest to talk about new Star Wars music.)   One thing that hasn’t changed is that I have met so many solid people through radio.

There’s Jolene the Jays fan, always raising money for good causes.  Or Greg, the contest winner who seems to have free tickets to offer to me all the time.  I met one of my best friends, Jay, through the radio.  He noticed I was talking about Transformers one day and next thing you knew, we were buddies.  And let’s not forget about Jamie, an old-school rocker who was writing articles for Access magazine under the tutelage of Keith Sharp back when I used to read it!  It used to be that we listened to the same radio station, but in 2019 I was honoured to be a guest at Jamie’s wedding.

I’m very happy and proud to have met such good people thanks to radio.  I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that radio stations and their personalities are often very active in the community.  They bring people with similar interests together, while making the city a better place.

Of course, like any platform, it’s not exclusively good people.  There have been some seriously weird fucks that I’ve come into contact with thanks to the airwaves.  Like Dean, the conspiracy theorizing anti-vax, bike-riding vegan.  Or amateur wrestler turned far-right radio mogul Raymond.  A few Proud Boys.  The usual assholes.

I have fresh wounds from another radio listener.  I never met him.  He moved out to Alberta for work.  He was one of those guys who would periodically have serious life problems and post them all over social media.  Then he’d disappear a while and come back a few months later.  His latest problems involved a workplace injury.  He needed antibiotics and was short $28.  He sent me a private message.

I thought about what my old man has said in the past.  “If you loan somebody money, consider it a gift because you’ll never get it back.”  And my dad is right; I’ve helped people out in the past and don’t usually get repaid.  Sometimes it’s because I said “Don’t worry about it, you need this more than I do.”  But usually it was just people stiffing me.

For whatever sympathetic reason, I sent the guy $30.  He even sent me a picture back of the medication to prove that’s what he spent it on.  I have no reason to disbelieve any of his story.  He asked me for money again a few weeks later, promising to pay back the original $30.  I said no that time.  Then he asked for $20 for bus tickets.  He caught me on a good day that time.  A few days later he needed $25; I sent him a final $30 and said this would be the last time I could help him out.  I left it unambiguous:  this is the last time I can help you out.  “Man I love you!” he responded.

One weekend in late September I heard frantic messages on my phone.  I checked and it was him, needing $44 urgently.  He was being evicted and was short $44 to rent a U-Haul van to move his stuff.  He sent screenshots of landlords that owed him money.  He sent screenshots of his bank balance in single digits.  He showed an angry message from a landlord explaining that he already had three days’ court-ordered notice to pick up his stuff, and it would all be taken to the dump on the weekend.  I was getting all these messages while my wife was recovering from a humiliating public epileptic seizure.  I told him that I was very sorry, but I could not help him.  The messages continued through the night as I was dealing with my own shit.  He was promising me $88 in return for $44, within 24 hours.

I sat there, thinking to myself.  On one side, I felt for the guy.  Assuming he was being honest with me, he had only a few hours to raise $44 and move his stuff in a U-Haul.  He was going to lose all his possessions that day.  I felt terrible for him.  I was already down $80 so what’s another $44?  On the other hand…is there nobody else he can ask for help?  Somebody who lives in the same province as him?  Somebody who’s actually met him in person?  Friends?  Family?  Not a stranger that he used to listen to on the radio?

Sunday afternoon my wife had another seizure.  I heard my phone dinging but I didn’t answer it.  I had bigger things on my mind.  Later that evening, I checked my messages.  His belongings had been taken to the dump.

“This is the point I’m done with social media,” the message began.  From that I gather he’d been asking other Facebook “friends” for money.  “Needed $44 to save thousands, got zero. Will be lucky to maintain an empty apartment on my wife’s money, my tools are gone so I can’t contribute.”  Guilt trip time?  I couldn’t believe this guy.  Why should Facebook, or me for that matter, be responsible for you?

“Likely never hear from me again. I’m out.”

This one I responded to.

“Likely never hear from you again…even though you owe me money?”

I felt terrible the whole time I wrote this, but it had to be said.

“I told you last time, I would not be able to help you again. I don’t even know you. We have never met face to face. And now you are guilting me and threatening to rip me off?

“I am sorry but at this point I have no choice but to block you. I will never see my money again, I know that, but I refuse to be guilted when I have already been so generous.

“I hope whatever your problems are, you sort them out, but I cannot have this in my life.”

Alternating between feeling the guilt that I said I wasn’t going to let myself feel, and wondering what the fuck this guy expected of a total stranger, I went on with my night and worrying about my own wife. But what did he expect? I gave him money three times before. Small amounts, but I knew I wasn’t going to be paid back, and I told him on the third time that was it. Did he think we were…actual friends? Because he knew my voice on the radio, and because I write about my life in public, did he think we were…friends? He also wrote things about his life, but I tried to stay out of that. He seemed to be having problems with his job, his wife, and his sexual identity and I wanted nothing to do with a stranger’s problems. I have plenty of my own, believe me.

I tried to be a good person. I feel like I was a good person three times, but had to draw a line somewhere. The day that my wife was in the hospital having a seizure seemed like the right time to draw that line.

As for lines? The bottom line is that I have made some amazing friends through the radio, and I wouldn’t change that, ever. But you always have to have your guard up for the problems that come with it.

#779: Loch Ness

GETTING MORE TALE #779: “Loch Ness” – A Lyrical Analysis

Judas Priest are known not just for their incendiary riffing, but also vivid lyricism.  It’s often a winning combination.  Witness such metal concoctions as “Blood Red Skies” or “Metal Gods”.  When it works, it works.  When it fails, it fails gloriously.  Let’s have a look at Judas Priest’s most epic failure.  That would be the 13:28 long “Loch Ness”, from 2005’s reunion album Angel of Retribution.

Musically, “Loch Ness” is utter garbage; lethargic rock for the sleepy.  The lyrics are a little better, though not enough to save the song.

Judas Priest usually create their own mythology.  Characters such as the Painkiller, the Sentinel and the Jugulator are three such examples.  This time, Priest dipped into cryptozoology and Scottish legends for their subject matter.  Today, the general consensus is that there is no monster in the depths of Loch Ness.  It’s still fun to speculate and imagine what might have been.

The first verse of “Loch Ness” sets the scene.  The loch is the largest (by volume) in the UK, with an incredible depth of 755 feet.  Because of the loch’s depth and murkiness, long has there been uncertainty about what may be down below.  Using sonar and other modern technologies, nothing of any great size has ever been found.  Though legends remain strong today, it is highly unlikely that a large monster lives in Loch Ness.  What say Judas Priest?

Grey mist drifts upon the water,
The mirrored surface moves,
Awakened of this presence,
Dispelling legends proof.

Stories of a beast in the loch date back almost 1500 years.  A definitive modern day sighting would indeed be the proof needed to move the monster from legend to reality.  Rob Halford references the grey mists, and how the movements of the “mirrored surface” can look like a creature is swimming beneath.  This is how most sightings begin.  Then “Nessie” rises from the water:

A beastly head of onyx,
With eyes set coals of fire,
It’s leathered hide glides glistening,
Ascends the heathered briar.

Physical descriptions of “Nessie” the monster vary wildly.  A head attached to a long neck is a defining characteristic.  It is usually described as dark, which Halford here exaggerates as “onyx” (black) in colour.  It’s eyes being “coals of fire” seems to be a Halford invention.  Likewise the hide, which is usually not described in much detail.  Out of necessity, Rob had to elaborate on the myth in order to describe the beast.  An interesting line is “ascends the heathered briar”.  Indeed, in some of the older sightings, the beast is seen climbing onto land – once even crossing a road.  When seen in full, the creature is often described as similar to a plesiosaur.

This legend lives through centuries,
Evoking history’s memories,
Prevailing in eternities,
On and on and on.

More interesting than the physical descriptions of the beast are the old legends. Water beast legends were not uncommon.  Why was Loch Ness always such a hotspot for such tales?  There is no simple answer.  Recently, large eels were filmed in the loch.  A mistaken sighting of an eel could account for many of the stories.  With the advent of modern media in the 1900s, tales of the monster spread worldwide and stories were reported with more frequency.  Proponents of the monster theory point to the oldest legends as proof that there was always something mysterious about the loch, though there is no proof that there is any connection to the “Nessie” of today.

Loch Ness confess,
Your terror of the deep,
Loch Ness distress,
Malingers what you keep,
Loch Ness protects monstrosity,
Loch Ness confess to me.

This chorus is a contender for the worst on any Judas Priest album.  There is nothing here to sing along to.  The words are awkward and juvenile with overly simple rhymes.

The speaker is addressing the loch itself; asking the loch to give up its secrets.  But “Terror of the deep”?  Few today find the idea of the Loch Ness monster to be terrifying .  True, early sightings would have been quite scary. Even if the creature spotted was only an otter or an eel, in the dusk or fog it could have been startling.  As you’ll see, however, it is implied this song takes place in the modern age.

The most interesting word choice here is “malingers”, meaning to pretend to be sick in order to avoid something.  It’s possible the word is being intentionally misused because it simply sounded good.  Insofar as meaning goes, “distress”, “malinger” and “protect” all imply the creature isn’t actually threatening.  Perhaps it or its young need protection.  Halford begs the beast for the truth, but the truth is not to be found.

Somehow it heeds the piper,
From battlements that call,
From side to side it ponders,
In passion in the skirl.

Scottish imagery here, implying that the monster will appear if a piper plays its song.  “Skirl” refers to the shrill sound of bagpipes.  “From side to side it ponders, in passion in the skirl” is a variation of the old saying that music soothes the savage beast.  Otherwise, the connection between the pipes and the monster seem to be a Halford construction.  There is also an old joke:  “Bagpipes and the Loch Ness Monster have two things in common – they both attract tourists and terrify little children.”

This highland lair of mystery,
Retains a lost world empathy,
Resilient to discovery,
On and on and on.

“Resilient to discovery” isn’t the most accurate phrasing.  “Resilient” means to recover quickly.  The Loch Ness monster is more “resistant” to discovery than “resilient”, though the legend certainly is resilient.  It goes on and on regardless of a narrowing scope of possibilities.  “Retains a lost world empathy” probably refers to the age of the beast.  It is so old that it comes from a simple time when people had more empathy than today.

This legend lives through centuries,
Evoking history’s memories,
Prevailing in eternity,
Your secret lies safe with me.

These lines simply refer to the age of the old legends, which will live forever.  Rob assures the beast that if it reveals its secrets, he will not tell.

This creature’s peril from decease,
Implores to mankind for release,
A legacy to rest in peace,
On and on and on.

Finally the last verse goes back to the idea that the creature is in some sort of distress.  It’s unclear what the peril is, but mankind is a part of it.  Is it the call of the pipers?  The monster simply wants to be at peace. Perhaps this is a hint of an environmental message, for conservation.

The lyrics to “Loch Ness” are not overly complex. Their simplicity, combined with slow monotonous music, make the 13 minute song seriously drag.  A few unusual word choices tend to obscure meaning, but “Loch Ness” is otherwise a fairly straightforward Judas Priest lyric.  When sung aloud, it begins to sound a little foolish.  “Loch Ness, confess, your terror of the deep” is not poetry.  It’s something you would have written in highschool English class.  While the words mostly stand up to analysis, they are not resilient to singing aloud.  In this manner (perhaps the only manner in which rock lyrics really matter), “Loch Ness” flounders.

“Loch Ness” has never and will never be played live.  It’s a shame that one of the greatest cryptids in all of legend has been given such a weak heavy metal song!

 

#778: Bi-curious

GETTING MORE TALE #778:  Bi-curious

You could tell Mrs. Powers didn’t like Elton John, and why.

I was just beginning my exploration of rock and roll, at a very young age.  I knew who Elton John was.  He had at least two songs that I knew and liked: “Sad Songs Say So Much” and “I’m Still Standing”.  Although in the 80s he had toned down his image, my mom explained that he used to be known for his crazy hats and glasses.

I don’t know how Elton John came up, that day in Catholic school.  It was grade 7 or 8, so 1985 or 1986.  Powers was strict and believed in public shaming.  Like the time she said “Shame on you!” to me for choosing a non-Catholic highschool, in front of everyone.  My sister had Powers a few years later, and got in shit in front of the class because she wasn’t as good at math as (presumably) her dad, who was a bank manager.  She was just a nasty teacher.

However Elton’s name came up that day, it doesn’t particularly matter.  What I remember was what Mrs. Powers said about him:  “And I don’t care that he’s BI-SEXUAL.”  Emphasis on that “BI-SEXUAL” part.  The immediate undertone was that she did care, very much, or she wouldn’t have brought it up.  And her feelings on the matter were in the negative.

Questions swirled in my head.  Elton John, the guy with the glasses and hats — was bisexual?  Most importantly, what the fuck did that even mean?

If you think Catholic school sex-ed curriculum covered things such as bisexuality, or even homosexuality, you’d be sorely mistaken.  She dropped that word, “bisexual” in a sentence and didn’t elaborate.  My immediate assumption (and you can see how I got there in my thinking) was that Elton John probably had both genitalia.  It’s not like I was going to raise my hand and ask.

I don’t know how many years I went about my life, thinking that Elton John had both a wiener and a vagina.  But I did, and it was because of a Catholic school teacher.  Nice, eh?  In many regards, although I went to class every day like anyone else, I think I was largely homeschooled until I got to highschool.  I learned more about history, science, and the arts at home thanks to my mom and dad.  At a young age, I was watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos with my dad, and listening to early Canadian rock and folk music with my mom.

The second takeaway from this story is the negative tone when Mrs. Powers said “BI-SEXUAL” like that.  I don’t need to explain how that just reinforces negative stereotypes.

The irony of course is that, bisexual or not, Elton John has been with his husband David Furnish for over 25 years, and they have proven to be model parents to their two kids.  I wonder if Mrs. Powers has since changed her tune on Elton John.

#777: Road Rage

GETTING MORE TALE #777: Road Rage

On 19 September 2010, a Wikipedia user posted the following on the talk page for the rock band Quiet Riot’s entry on the site.

Hello,
This is the official Quiet Riot band and management. We are slowly and steadily attempting to clean up the vast array of inaccuracies on this page and post a historically correct bio. Please be patent [sic] and please do not come behind us and vandalize or attempt to “correct” this page. Thank you.

This note and a number of edits were allegedly made by Regina Russell, now the wife of current Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali.  This raised a number of red flags, notably conflict of interest.  Nobody may edit their own Wikipedia article, or one they have a vested interest in.*  The edits were made using an account called Pinkmermaid.  Going down the rabbit hole, you could see Pinkmermaid also made a number of contested edits to the Regina Russell Wikipedia article.  But the Quiet Riot wiki became a constant battleground.  For example Pinkmermaid objected to people like Tracii Guns being listed as members, even though he was confirmed as one by Frankie Banali (for a single rehearsal) in an interview with the late C.C. Banana.

There are a few people listed as members that were not. As for me or the band editing the page or “allowing” this person or that person to be listed. That is a joke. Anything that the band camp has edited just gets deleted. I barely began deleting lies and false members (it would be a big job) when the trolls took over so this page is now abandoned by anyone who could verify actual facts. This page is largely inaccurate. Siting [sic] “references” that are nothing more than blogs or interviews that are not truthful. If anyone is coming to this page for info about this band they are just getting a mish mosh of myths & rumors anyway.

The Quiet Riot camp and the Wikipedia community went back and forth over the edits.  At that time, I was writing reviews, and editing Wikipedia articles on the side for fun.  I’m personally responsible for all the Helix articles created on Wikipedia from 2009-2010, and I’m very proud of doing so with proper references.  Obviously, this Quiet Riot drama was as fascinating as a car crash.  I couldn’t look away.  I followed the digital breadcrumbs left by the Pinkmermaid account and attempted to make some fixes, all over Wikipedia.

Things came to a head over the Metal Health article.  Pinkmermaid made an edit to the article claiming that Metal Health was Quiet Riot’s debut.  I changed it back, as it is actually their third LP after two that were released in Japan only.  This sparked an “edit war” between the two of us.  On 7 October, I posted the below on the Metal Health talk page in order to settle the matter once and for all.

This section is to resolve a dispute between Quiet Riot’s manager and the article as it stands, whether Metal Health is the first, or the third, Quiet Riot album.

My feeling is that management is trying to re-write history to make it look like the current Quiet Riot, which contains no members from the album Quiet Riot I, does in fact have original members. I have never in 27 years of being a collector, nor 12 years of running my record store, have ever heard of Metal Health being referred to as Quiet Riot’s debut album. North American debut, yes. But I strongly resist the band’s manager making this change as I believe it is self serving to their agenda, which is legitimizing the current lineup which in actuality has no original members.

The band has posted an interview with DuBrow where he refers to it as their first, however I think this is questionable as many bands like to rewrite their own history. Helix for example are going around saying they are touring with the “original lineup”. When in reality their only original member is the singer. Just because a band says something doesn’t make it so. There are also intefviews [sic] with DuBrow where he refers to QRI as the first album, such as Guitar For the Practicing Musician.

Management are arguing that the original Quiet Riot broke up, and then they started a new band (with two members from the first QR, DuBrow and Sarzo) also called Quiet Riot, and Metal Health is their debut album. I cannot see a single example on Wikipedia of any band whose discography is split between two phases of the band and considered separate entities. Deep Purple, for example.

Please discuss. I think is where a serious conflict of interest comes into play.

Things got nasty.  From Pinkmermaid:  “That IS a DEBUT. I know you are some fan and you have feelings about the subject. You don’t really know much about it though.”  When I asked her if we could agree to disagree and let Wikipedia decide, she answered “I don’t agree with you in any way. I’m just busier than you doing other things. Stalking wiki pages can’t be a full time obsession for me.”

Ouch!  She said “stalking” because I made the mistake of going down the rabbit hole and fixing more of her conflict-of-interest edits.  Big mistake.  Should not have poked the bear.  She did get the “obsession” word right, at least.  My OCD is a stickler for details.   I advised her to review the Wikipedia code of conduct.  She accused me of “stalking” more than once, I guess not realizing that Wikipedia has thousands of people constantly editing articles, including hers.  One day she even turned up on my Amazon reviews.  She didn’t like the part of my Quiet Riot Rehab review where I complained about the reunited Quiet Riot having no original members.  Apparently writing that review was “stalking”.  I hope she never sees my Quiet Riot 10 review….

Ultimately Wikipedia agreed that Metal Health is the third Quiet Riot album, and Pinkmermaid left it alone.

In January 2017, Wikipedia investigated her edit activity and blocked her indefinitely, for “advertising or self-promotion”.  This was in regards to the movie she directed, Quiet Riot’s critically acclaimed Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back.

I wasn’t planning on telling this story.  In 2012, I said all I had to say with “Cum On Feel the Disgrace – A Quiet Riot Rant”.  But a strange thing happened in 2017.  Quiet Riot acquired James Durbin on vocals and made a really, really good album.  I reviewed it, rated it 3.75/5 stars, calling it “Easily their best album since 1993’s Terrified or even before”.  I gave Live in Milan 4/5 stars.  Any beefs I had with Quiet Riot’s trajectory were assuaged.   Until now.  James Durbin is out, and Jizzy Pearl is back in as lead singer.  And strangely enough, I seem to be blocked on Facebook by Frankie “ALL CAPS” Banali.  I’ve never interacted with Banali.  I smell a Pinkmermaid.

That’s why I’ve decided to finally talk about what happened between Quiet Riot and myself.  The backups are all on Wikipedia, can’t be erased, and are available for you to read.  Just browse the talk pages and edit histories and see for yourselves.  As usual, I will continue to judge Quiet Riot by the merits of their music.  If their next album, Hollywood Cowboys is good, you can count on an honest review.  Same if it sucks.  For now, I’m going back to the beginning and playing Quiet Riot I.

“It’s not so funny,
Just a kid, nobody listens to me,
Ain’t got no money to do what I want,
Somethin’s got to set me free.”

* In the interests of full disclosure, I’m no saint and I have broken the Wikipedia rules on Conflict of Interest.  Though I have not touched it since 2010, I did make a small number of edits to the Kathryn Ladano Wikipedia.  

 

HOLD THE PRESS!

Check out Sleaze Roxx for more drama.  Frankie Banali is attacking fans who are questioning why he’s been missing gigs unannounced.