Gallery: Iron Maiden “Eddie” Reaction figures — full set

Check out the photo gallery below for a gander at all 19 Iron Maiden “Eddie” figures by Super7.  This is their line of 3 3/4″ ReAction figures.  Same size and articulation as classic Star Wars.  For a little bonus content, check out the video instead.  Some havoc broke loose during the photo shoot.

 

REVIEW: Minoru Niihara – One (1989)

MINORU NIIHARA – One (1989 Triad)

Original Loudness vocalist Minoru Niihara was let go in 1988 so they could have a stab at a success with an American singer.  While they went their way (and did not cross over onto the charts as they hoped), Niihara recorded his first solo album appropriately titled One.  He worked at Cherokee studios in Hollywood, where there must have been a lot of rock stars hanging out.  The credits on One include:  Mark Slaughter, Reb Beach, Doug Aldrich, the rhythm section from Journey (Steve Smith and Ross Valory), Kal Swan, David Glen Eisley, and the Tower of Power horns!

That being said, you might expect a straightforward hard rock album right out of 1989 like so many you remember from that year.  You’d be partly right.  However the lyrics are mostly in Japanese, and while the intent might have been to make a straight-ahead commercial rock record, it goes a bit sideways on some tracks.

It sounds like some of the same opening sounds as on Alice Cooper’s Trash album (also 1989) are used on first instrumental “Overture”.  Then it goes soft rock, with guitar strings tinkling like a fragile piece of glass, backed by heavenly keyboards.  In a jarring shift, the first proper song “Let’s Get Together” doesn’t meld well with this intro.  It also sounds a bit out of time, a relic from a couple years prior.  But Minoru is on top of it.  “Let’s get together! Have fun tonight!” goes the boppin’ English chorus, with plenty of the expected thick backing vocals from the Hollywood cast and crew.  Although it already sounded dated for 1989, “Let’s Get Together” is a fun track clearly aiming for a party concert vibe.  Not bad — production is clunky, and there are a couple key changes that sound off, but it’s otherwise a fun song that does what it’s there to do.

American rock vibes dominate “Stand Up to the Danger”, sounding a bit like “Loud and Clear” by Autograph.  That could be Reb Beach just rippin’ it up on the solo, but the track is very standard for the genre.  A neat ballad follows, the Journey-like…ahem…it’s a case of a language barrier, I’m sure, but the song is called “Come Over Me”.  Very much like a Journey ballad, and it’s probably Valory and Smith on bass and drums respectively.  Maxine and Julia Waters on backing vocals.

A cool 80s bass groove sets the tone on “I Can’t Wait”.  This mid-tempo car-cruiser is an album highlight, and a track worth getting in your ears.  Great solo too (Doug?).  Coincidentally, Minoru’s replacement in Loudness was a fellow named Mike Vescera, and he later recorded a different song called “I Can’t Wait” with Yngwie J. Malmsteen.  One of Minbru’s weaknesses (and it probably comes down to English as a second language) is a reliance on cliche song titles.  “I Can’t Wait”, “Stayin’ Alive”, “Dynamite”, and “Fool For You” are all song titles you’ve heard before.

Speaking of “Dynamite”, the next track on the disc — it’s a little more unique.  With a bluesy opening, it soon lets loose with a blast of saxophone.  The chorus is full-on pop.  A little clunky in construction and production, but different and still cool.

A soft keyboard ballad called “You Can Do It” sits right in the middle of the album.  Even though vinyl, and  especially cassettes were big in 1989, One only saw release on CD.  No “side one” or “side two” with this album.  Once more the ballad would sound appropriate on a Steve Perry album, and the guitar solo is really smooth.  Good song; Minoru’s style of singing is a bit overblown for a soulful ballad, but you can certainly tell he loves singing this way.

“Bluest Sky” is cool, acoustic and stripped back but “Stayin’ Alive” really scorches.  It’s the closest thing to classic Loudness.  It is the only clearly heavy metal track on the album.  Probably Reb Beach ripping up his fretboard and whammy bar on the solo.  Definitely Mark Slaughter on the chorus.  The horn section returns on “Fool For You”, but Minoru’s over-the-top singing does not suit the funky metal stylings.  He does well on “Too Long Away to Reach”, a little more restrained.  But it is the third ballad that really does sound like Journey.  So much that you’d assume it was Neal Schon on guitar.

Finally Minoru closes his solo debut on one more ballad, “I’ll Never Hide My Love Again”.  This time it’s a big power ballad with a massive chorus, and because it’s dramatically different from the earlier ballads, it works.  Definite vibes of King Kobra’s “Dancing With Desire” (1985).

See what I mean when I say that One sounds dated already even for 1989?  That doesn’t make it bad, but not all pieces fit.  There are some obtrusive keyboard overdubs, some of the ingredients just don’t mix.  While Minoru is a fine vocalist, and he gives 110% here, some of the songs sound like they would work better if he laid back a bit.  Then again, that could be the language barrier; the words he is singing might be totally appropriate to his vocal output.  Everything in music is subjective anyway.  Regardless of interpretation, Minoru Niihara’s effort is no less than his whole heart, and you have to give credit for that.

3/5 stars

 

 

Sunday Chuckle: Doug Ford explains “lockdown” vs. “shutdown”

The premier of Ontario explains what a “lockdown” is vs. a “shutdown”.*

 

*satire

Live Iron Maiden Super 7 Reaction blind box unboxing

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike Ladano

Episode 59.5 – Iron Maiden Super 7 Reaction blind box unboxing

 

Wanna see every Iron Maiden figure that Super 7 has ever released in their Reaction line?  Unboxing starts at 2:00 PM E.S.T., Saturday April 10.  This surprise episode is brought to you by Obsessive Compulsive Disorder!

FINAL TALLY:

  • 2 x Killers blood splatter Eddie
  • 1 x Maiden Japan Eddie
  • 3 x Aces High camo flightsuit Eddie
  • 1 x Aces High bulletholes Eddie
  • 3 x Powerslave stone Eddie
  • 1 x Powerslave black transparent Eddie
  • 1 x The Trooper zombie Eddie
  • 1 x The Trooper glow-in-the-dark Eddie
  • 2 x sealed blind boxes remaining

 

#894: Entertainment Needed at the Vaccine Clinic

“I’ve been shot!”

Every once in a while, Jen’s disabilities don’t entirely suck.  We get the best parking spots when we go out, which admittedly isn’t often these days.  She was also eligible for the Covid vaccine due to her high-risk health category.  In a twist of fortune, as her caregiver, that made me eligible too.  I was very concerned about “line jumping” so we called and confirmed multiple times that I was allowed to get the shot.

Ironically, we were scheduled to get our ‘rona shot at the old Rona location in Cambridge.

It used to be a huge warehouse, and now it is a huge clinic.  Very organised, with multiple checkpoints, and ample workers to guide you.  We asked plenty of questions and they were all answered.  For me, the whole process took less than 30 minutes.  Screening, registering, sitting with a doctor, getting the shot, waiting for any sign of reaction, and then finally release and followup appointment.  Jen took an extra 15 minutes due to the complexities of her health, but we were out the door in 50 minutes total.

The sitting area for the wait after the shot was vast, with many chairs, all separated by a good distance.  It was kind of funny, seeing all these chairs facing the same direction as if waiting for a show that would never come.  Here there were workers to answer questions too.

“No movie?” I asked jokingly.

“No movie, no bands,” she answered.  “We should get bands,” she continued.  “I know lots of bands who would love the chance to play here.”

I laughed and said “Well maybe in a couple months they’ll jazz it up.”

Our shots (Pfizer for those curious) were administered by doctors, and I peppered mine with questions.  I was concerned about side effects, although neither of my parents felt any.

“Younger people have much stronger immune systems,” he explained.  “Theirs get revving up much stronger.  When you feel the side effects, that is your body creating those antibodies.  So the side effects are actually a good sign.  They should taper off after a day.”  I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Well, except for the live bands — maybe that lady was onto something!

Have any questions about the shape I’m in?  Just ask!

 

Andy Curran…Part One

Apologies in advance for the technical issues on this week’s program. We did our best, and fortunately Andy has agree to come back next week and talk about the latter half of his career!

This week we discussed:

  • The new forthcoming album Coney Hatch Live at the El Mocambo
  • A second live album in the can
  • The first three Coney studio albums:  self-titled, Outa Hand and Friction
  • Road and studio stories
  • Andy’s first two “solo” albums, Andy Curran and Soho 69 – Scatterbrain

And next week we’ll be back to discuss Caramel, Leisureworld, Four and beyond.

I really want to thank Andy for his patience this week.  Hopefully we can get a better stream next week.  When it worked it kicked ass!

Tune into the stream at 0:36:45 for Andy’s arrival and interview.

Thanks for watching, and thanks for your patience everyone!

 

C’mon C’mon, the Legendary Andy Curran is on the LeBrain Train!

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and Superdekes

Episode 59 – The Earl of the 8th Note – Andy Curran

His name is on so many albums in our collections, from Coney Hatch to Soho 69 to Caramel and beyond, to writing with Kim Mitchell and helping to put together Rush and Max Webster box sets.  His bass is literally made of the floor of the El Mocambo club, and now Coney Hatch have their first official live album recorded in that same club.

We come at Andy from two perspectives.  Deke has questions he has been burning to ask for 40 years.  Mike is the new fan whose first Coney Hatch purchase was pre-ordering the live album in late 2020.  That groundbreaking concert was live streamed during the Covid pandemic and then prepared for the imminent CD and vinyl release of Live at the El Mocambo.

Please give a huge welcome for Andy Curran on the LeBrain Train!

7:00 PM E.S.T.
Facebook:  MikeLeBrain  YouTube:  Mike LeBrain

 

#893: Damien Lucifer

RECORD STORE TALES #893: Damien Lucifer

My mom used to teach ceramics classes in the basement.  Our basement was split into two rooms — a finished rec room, and an unfinished work space.  There were craft tables and chairs and I liked to use it for building model cars and airplanes.  My mom had a kiln in there for her classes and everything.  On Saturday morning were the “kid classes” when my sister and her friends would paint ceramic teddy bears and balloons and God knows what else.  During the week, the neighbourhood adults and other friends came over to create.

The “rec room” area was more for us.  That’s where the big TV and VCR were.  That’s where I watched, recorded, and re-watched my Pepsi Power Hours.  Naturally the two adjacent areas sometimes clashed.  I had to “turn it down” from time to time.

I generally tried to avoid other people especially when they were close to my space.  We didn’t cross paths much, but on Power Hour days, I would race home from school and be waiting in the basement to hit record, as all the ceramic students were filing out.

I’m territorial but not confrontational.  More passive aggressive.  I know my mom had these hardcore Catholic friends across the street.  I couldn’t stand them.  They wouldn’t let their kids play with GI Joes, because they carried guns.  Yet they were allowed to play with Transformers, because the kids were smart enough not to tell mom and dad they carried guns.  They used to come to the ceramic classes and having them near my precious personal space irritated me more than anything else.  “Hate” is a strong word, but I really disliked them.  I knew they hated heavy metal music (the parents at least).  And I know in my passive aggressive way, I liked to leave my heavy metal stuff visibly on display in my space.

Rock and roll is about defiance, isn’t it?  It was very rock and roll of me to leave albums and magazines down there for them to see.

I loved buying new magazines all the time, and not just rock.  Sometimes it was WWF Magazine, and occasionally I’d buy something like Starlog.  The rock rags were the backbone of my collection, but every once in a while, I’d buy MAD.  If MAD was sold out, I’d buy Cracked.  Who didn’t love MAD and Cracked magazines?  I used to have a pile of favourites.  The March 1991 New Kids on the Block MAD was treasured; it came with an entire sheet of anti-New Kids stamps.  Another classic was my October 1984 issue of Cracked, a Michael Jackson issue.  I wish I’d have kept them, but I say that about a lot of things.

It probably wasn’t an accident when I left out, in plain view, my copy of MAD number 288.  July 1989.  The special Heavy Metal issue.  On the front: Alfred E. Newman in a suit of armor, flanked by Tommy Lee, Axl Rose, and a guy who looks like a cross between Don Dokken and Stevie Ray Vaughan.  But I didn’t leave it out with the front cover showing.  I left it out with the back in plain view.

The back cover was a “fake front” to a faux magazine called “Metal Sludge”, a clear satire of Metal Edge.  The top right corner featured a fat guy named “Damien Lucifer”, lead singer of “Antichrist”.  On his cheek, a pentagram is drawn.  He wears red devil horns and proclaims that “Heavy metal music is not about Satan!”

On another panel, a picture of Poison with a caption about “our confusion over sexual identity”.

There is a contest for the chance to be trampled at a Motley Crue concert.  The panel below that is about Anthrax getting deloused by Tipper Gore.  Another advertises a “life size poster of Gene Simmons’ tongue – special six page fold out”.

Eventually, it happened:  one my mom’s students saw the magazine and was offended enough to tell her that I was reading something “satanic”.  I have my suspicions who it was.  (My mom remembers none of this at all.)  Mom did her due diligence and asked me about this “satanic” magazine that had been seen in the basement.  I laughed at how ignorant that person had to be to think my MAD Magazine was a real rock book!  It seemed so obvious by that picture of Simmons’ “tongue”!  (Six page foldout, don’t forget!)

I couldn’t wait to tell my best friend Bob about this.  After all, it proved everything I thought was true about those neighbours.  How self-righteous, how nosy, how sanctimonious, and how ignorant.  As far as I was concerned, I had won a battle between heavy metal and the religious right.  And I did it with a MAD Magazine.

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: The Black Crowes – Shake Your Money Maker (2021 deluxe edition)

THE BLACK CROWES – Shake Your Money Maker (Originally 1990, 2021 Universal deluxe edition)

How many times have you bought Shake Your Money Maker (31 years old but not a day over 20)?  This time the Crowes did it (mostly) right.  The last time they reissued this album in 1998, they added only two bonus tracks.  Now there are 25.  These include a whole disc of rarities called More Money Maker, and a homecoming live set from December 1990 with the original lineup and a sneak peak at new, work-in-progress songs.  All of this is worth your money to buy one more time.  Especially for the songs they were already road-testing.

Disc 1:  Shake Your Money Maker

Freshly remastered and sounding good.  Opening up with a rip of slide guitar, the Crowes made their southern bluesy roots known from the get go.  It was nothing like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, or anybody else on the radio at the time, except maybe the London Quireboys.  They drew influence from the 70s:  Bands like the Stones and Skynyrd, as well as the old Mississippi Delta bluesmen.  Listen to Rich Robinson’s slide and dig in.  Chris Robinson’s bluesy drawl delivers a hell of a chorus.  “Twice As Hard” is perfect in every measure, and producer George Drakoulias captured it without messing with it.

Second in line is the debut single “Jealous Again”.  It sounds like the offspring of the Stones at their boogie-woogie best.  The noticable difference is the big drum sound wielded by Steve Gorman, the Crowes’ secret weapon.

Shake Your Money Maker is a well rounded album with a few piano based slow tracks.  The first ballad is “Sister Luck”, sort of prototype for the kind of things the Crowes would do in the future.  You want authenticity?  That’s Chuck Leavell on keys.

Back to the rock, “Could I’ve Been So Blind” kicks it with a shot in the arm and a great chorus.  Thing go slow again on the organ-based blues “Seeing Things”.  The wild thing is, the Crowes were just kids, but it sounds like they have years and years of pain to pour into these songs.

One of the most well known singles from Shake Your Money Maker was the old Otis Redding cover “Hard to Handle”.  A bit of a surprise to hear an Otis song on the radio, but we gladly took it.  The Robinson swagger on this one is enormous.  Back to rock, “Thick N’ Thin” begins with a car crash. Fast paced rock and roll with boogie woogie piano gets the feet moving, like the Faces on adrenaline.

One of the fastest songs gives way to the slowest one.  “She Talks to Angels” is the only one that technially deserves the tag “ballad”.  Acoustics guitars, organ, and Chris’ plaintive voice took it to #1 on the US “album rock” charts.  It’s still just as stunning today, with the feel still coming through.

Moving in for the close, “Struttin’ Blues” is relatively nondescript compared to some of the prior ass-kickers.  They save the most kick-ass for last:  “Stare It Cold”.  It starts as a standard Stones-y rocker, but then it picks up speed right to the end, brilliantly ending the debut album on a hell of a good impression.

Disc 2:  More Money Maker:  Unreleased Songs & B-Sides

This isn’t all the B-sides of course; the Crowes issued plenty of live tracks that you will have to track down the singles for.  This does collect the studio music that made it onto B-sides and bonus tracks, as well as far more serious rarities.  One of those is “Charming Mess”, a slamming unreleased track that easily could have been a hit.  Slippery guitars, bouncing piano, and a wicked chorus.  Early Crowes tended to keep things simple, and this a great example of their early charm, cranked up to 10.

The Humble Pie cover “30 Days in the Hole” is tight and clean.  Johnny Colt was an underrated bass player and you can hear it on this decent but underwhelming cover.  The original “Don’t Wake Me” is an also-ran, in the fast-paced category.  Great guitar work as always though, so always something to listen for.  The Lennon cover “Jealous Guy” always lacked something that the original had, but by turning it into a lamenting blues, the Crowes made it their own more than the other covers.  The original “Waitin’ Guilty” is a real treat.  Happier with twang, it was rarely played live, perhaps because it’s a bit of a departure.  A sweet, tasty, twangy departure.

The “Horn Mix” of “Hard To Handle” has been difficult to track down for years.  Here it finally is!  One thing not apparent when listening to it on a shitty radio — the bass really thumps on this remix.  With this version now finally widely available, it is the definitive mix.  Two acoustic versions of big hits are next:  “Jealous Again” and “She Talks to Angels”.  Stripped down to the very basics with no drums.  “She Talks to Angels” benefits very much from the bare arrangement, becoming something truly special.

This disc ends on a double treat:  Two early demos by Mr. Crowe’s Garden, the incarnation that preceded the Black Crowes.  “She Talks to Angels” is fully written but with a higher lead vocal melody.  “Front Porch Sermon” is more folksy than what we usually expect from the Crowes, at least until the later years.  Banjo is the dominant instrument.   The chorus is a dead ringer for Blue Rodeo.  Great stuff; let’s hope we get more Mr. Crowe’s Garden demos in the future.

Disc 3:  The Homecoming Concert:  Atlanta, GA December 1990

For many, this is the main feature of the set, and for good reason.  This era of the Crowes only lasted a short time and change is already evident.  The new material they were working on, and were already playing live, was different.  The band was also changing and soon guitarist Jeff Cease would be out of the lineup, replaced by Marc Ford.  This concert CD is one of our few chances to hear what Jeff Cease brought to the band.  They couldn’t have grown where they did with Cease, but as the lead guitarist on these rock and roll tracks, he’s perfect.

Chris Robinson is on fire, as evident on the stormin’ first song, “Thick N’ Thin”.  It’s an energetic version and that energy carries over into a new song called “You’re Wrong”.  It would later evolve into “Sting Me”.  The sound of Southern Harmony was starting to creep in and you get a lot more a  bit later into the set.  Although nobody sounds bored, the Crowes roll out the hit “Twice as Hard” next.  It could be one of the best versions out there, for Chris’ impassioned overblown vocal.

Favourites from the album are played one after the other:  “Could I’ve Been So Blind”, “Seeing Things”, “She Talks to Angels”, “Sister Luck”, and “Hard to Handle”.  Particularly powerful is “Seeing Things” though highlights are plenty through these tunes.  The Crowes also peppered their sets with non-album covers.  “Shake ‘Em On Down” (Bukka White) is unexpectedly followed by “Get Back” (The Beatles).  But really it’s just one extended jam on some familiar themes.

The real treat is a full 13 minute version of “Words You Throw Away”, the long jam that would one day evolve into a little hit called “Remedy”.  You can hear certain chords and rhythmic ideas that ended up in “Remedy”, and maybe also “Thorn in My Pride”.  It is however its own song, with some unbelievable hooks of its own that never made it into anything else.  Just lay back and enjoy all 13 minutes of musical nirvana.

Closing the set with “Stare It Cold” and “Jealous Again” can only be anticlimax after that workout.  What else could they do?

It’s very fortunate this live set was so well recorded, mixed and mastered for release.

In Conclusion

Though affordable, the 3 CD edition has skimpy packaging.  There is a small foldout with rare photos (and some really cool ones of Mr. Crowe’s Garden) but no real liner notes or other details.  It would just be nice to know more about where the rare tracks originated, or even the original studio album itself.  The album used to come with lyrics, but this comes with nothing.

Still the music more than makes up for up for the lack of packaging.  The top-notch live set is a revelation, and the bonus rarities are valuable and high quality.  You can’t say no to the music.

4/5 stars

 

#892 Perspective 2020: With Dr. Dave

#892: Perspective 2020: With Dr. Dave

Dr. Dave Haslam is the drummer for Max the Axe. A swell guy, but also a bit difficult to get to follow simple instructions. I asked him for a Top 11 of 2020 and he didn’t get it in on time. Dr. Dave doesn’t do deadlines.  However it’s a good list, so we’re re-framing it today as a treatise on some good things that happened in a pretty shitty year.  Perspective 2020:  with Dr. Dave.  Eleven good things that happened in 2020.  A Nigel Tufnel Top Ten!

 


  1. Blue Oyster CultThe Symbol Remains

There’s life in them yet, with enough variety and new blood to maintain interest. It compares particularly well to Ozzy and AC/DC. The former needs to just go away, while the latter has, let’s face it, become the absolute epitome of Dad Rock: safe, comfortable, predictable, and boring as FUCK. BOC still has its tongue planted firmly in cheek, though whose cheek it is remains in question.

 

  1. WayfarerA Romance With Violence

One of the best things about black metal in this century is how it can incorporate different styles, and it was only a matter of time before someone spliced it with a Morricone-spaghetti western feel. Weird heavy stuff coming from Colorado these days.

 

  1. SolstafirEndless Twilight of Codependent Love

Iceland ain’t all Bjork and Sigur Ros. Their black metal scene is led by these lads who have been dialing-up the post-rock on recent albums. Black metal at its best is (barely) controlled fury, but this is not what you’re getting here; rather, it’s like the aftermath of that: the veteran barbarian, grown wistful in retirement, drinking his mead and reflecting on past conquests.

 

  1. Paradise LostObsidian

Their late-career groove continues with another consistent slab of darkly melodic metal with well-timed nods to their earlier stylistic detours.

 

  1. Killer Be KilledReluctant Hero

Supergroups don’t always stick around long enough to make a second album, and it’s great that these guys did. Troy Sanders (Mastodon), Max Cavalera (Sepultura, Soulfly), Greg Puciato (Dillinger Escape Plan) and Ben Koller (Converge) combine for an album that is both heavy and catchy. They use the three different vocalists really well, and the heaviness is a solid blend of the bands they come from. “From a Crowded Wound” might be the core of the album, but the title-track might be my song of the year; supposedly about losing a parent to Alzheimer’s, it’s reminiscent of “Hurt” (yes, that one), before Puciato takes the second half of the song by the neck to a triumphant denouement. If there is a better response to the shitshow of 2020, I don’t know of it.

 

  1. PallbearerForgotten Days

Less immediate than the one before, this album took some distracted listening in my car for it to truly sink in. Though all of the plastic in the dashboard looked and sounded like it was going to disintegrate, I found myself actually singing along to it: me, who’s all about the holy trinity of guitar, bass, and drums. When doom lets the likes of Boston and Kansas shine through, good things happen.

 

  1. Hum – Inlets 

Even more surprising than the BOC album was this. Like Failure five years ago, another promising band from the 90s that didn’t take off like they should have released new stuff. Shoegazy with thick, stonerish-riffage and sharp hooks. STILL waiting for the goddamn cd, though. Grrrrr.

 

  1. WinterfyllethThe Reckoning Dawn

Still some of the catchiest black metal out there. After an entirely acoustic album, this sees them roaring back with some of their thrashiest riffage.

 

  1. DeftonesOhms

Everything likeable about them is represented on this album. Plenty of atmosphere, groove, and riffs. A flat-out masterpiece of sonic craftsmanship from start to finish, and one of the best-produced albums I’ve heard in a long time.

 

  1. The OceanPhanerozoic II: Mesozoic/Cenozoic

Germany’s heaviest nerds complete two-album concept about the extinction of the dinosaurs and the rise of mammalian life on Earth. With one foot in the ISIS/Cult of Luna school of post-metal and the other in the hypnotic prog-metal of Tool, this is like catnip for me. A baked-up headphone album for sure.

 

  1. Elder – Omens

It’s not enough that Reflections of a Floating World is a top-ten 21st century album for me, but they had to go and do this, too. Fuckers. “Halcyon” rides a similar vibe as the krautrocky “Sonntag” from the previous album, but does so better, with more depth and commitment. It’s fitting that the weakest part of the previous album becomes the nucleus for maybe the strongest song this time out (and it’s weird that they again hit me hardest with the fourth song of the album). My top 3 this year are more-or-less interchangeable, depending on my mood, but I don’t think I’m ever not in the mood for these guys. It just doesn’t happen.

 

What’s on the teevee?

Lots of television was consumed this year, and I’ll admit it – The Mandalorian was better than I thought it would be. But it’s still just popcorn, compared to which The Expanse is prime rib, with all the fixins, with a side of even more prime rib. Star Trek: Discovery was somewhere in the middle, though I found season 3 uneven: my emotional g-spot likes more subtle manipulation, and season 3 all-too-often went straight for the aggressive fisting. Ouchie! Also of note was Britannia, which was both dark and goofy while still being committed to the overall vision. Definitely a British thing. The Boys was simply The Boys, and that’s what we all want, of course. Lovecraft Country was a very interesting spin on the Cthulu mythos in a Jim Crow-era America. Cursed was okay but pretty forgettable, and The Witcher was fun enough, I guess. The biggest single disappointment was learning that there will only be one more season of The Expanse after this, the fifth. They haven’t caught up with the books yet, and I highly doubt there will be a Game of Thrones shitting of the bed, but I just can’t accept that we’re nearing the home-stretch.

Dr. Dave