10″

REVIEW: Rich Robinson – Got to Get Better in a Little While (10″ EP)

RICH ROBINSON – Got to Get Better in a Little While (2016 Universal 10″ clear single for Record Store Day)

This really pretty record (a single or an EP, who cares?) was found on the Taranna 2016 expedition with Mr. Books.  It’s apparently a Record Store Day exclusive from April 2016, although I had no problem getting this one for $16.99 in October.  This my first purchase of anything by Rich without his brother Chris.  Knowing the Black Crowes, I was fairly certain it wouldn’t suck.  I was still surprise to see on the back, an ad for not one not two not three but FOUR Rich Robinson “Expanded Editions” on CD and LP!  Who knew?  Not this guy!

“Got to Get Better in a Little While” is a Derek and the Dominoes cover, apparently one that Crowes used to do regularly, as does Rich.  You have to hear this if you like bluesy rock that produces pure smoke from sheer musical chemistry.  Yes, Clapton is God and the original can’t be touched, but a real jackass could easily make this song sound like shit.  Rich does the opposite, and it sounds as part of his musical being.  There’s some deep bass that just cuts through, and this goes on for eight and a half minutes of jam session heaven.  Just bop along.

The second side has two Rich originals.  Greasy late night blues is on the menu.  “Look Through My Window” sets a scene of steamy Tennessee dusk.  Brilliant stuff for any fan of slippery slidey guitars.  Then an acoustic/electric tune called “Falling Away” closes on a first light of a quiet dawn.  Great tunes, both, making up a tidy little 16 minute EP.  Or single.  Whatever!

The vinyl itself is clear and thick.  The package doesn’t say anything about clear vinyl, but you almost expect clear or coloured when you buy these limited editions.  It looks lovely spinning with its green label.  Great little EP, reasonably priced for the collector and fan.

4/5 stars

 

Advertisements

REVIEW: Mastodon – “White Walker” (2016 picture disc single)

MASTODON – “White Walker” (2016 Warner 10″ picture disc single)

Disclaimer: I’ve never seen a single episode of Game of Thrones, although I will admit a crush on Emilia Clarke, and a man-crush on Kit Harington.  And I don’t really know a lot about Mastodon.  I know they rock — and that’s enough.

Since Sunrise Records in Kitchener opened up again back in April, I’ve been doing my best to support them.  Taking a chance on something I haven’t heard before, and finding the artwork badass as hell, I plopped down for Mastodon’s “White Watcher” single.  There is nothing typical about this song.  The war drums opening the track sound as if from battle.  The lyrics certainly paint a picture:  a cold and desolate land full of despair.  There is little musical backing, just some spare acoustic guitars and a few atmospheric electric licks until the haunting guitar solo kicks in.  It’s atypical of any Mastodon I’ve heard.

The B-side is the A Cappella version of “White Walker”, with just one voice.  I love how it reveals the imperfections of the human voice.  It sounds like something a character on the show might be singing, before battle.  The mourning feeling is there in the grooves of the record.

And speaking of the record, what artwork!  The A-side is a brilliant painting of a White Walker, while the B-side is a still from the show.  The snowy landscape and ragged people huddled around fires certainly illustrate what the song feels like.  Incredible single.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes – Live at Jones Beach (2017)

Gratitude to James Kalyn of the KMA for acquiring this treasure.

JIMMY PAGE & THE BLACK CROWES – Live at Jones Beach (2017 The Orchard Record Store Day EP)

Aficionados of Led Zeppelin and the Black Crowes rejoice! It has been a long time since the fantastic concert collaboration, Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes Live at the Greek (2000).  That double CD delivered a surprisingly bang-on dose of legendary Zeppelin cuts and blues covers.  Here, it’s a seven piece band consisting of Page, Rich Robinson and Audley Freed in a lethal triple guitar lineup.  The band was completed by vocalist Chris Robinson, drummer Steve Gorman, bassist Greg Rzab and keyboard player Eddie Harsch.  Now you can hear three more tracks, from an additional concert at Jones Beach.

As expected, Pagey and the Crowes are whipped up into a blues jam rock frenzy loaded with atomic playing.  Off to Middle Earth with “Misty Mountain Hop”, a song easily conquered by Chris Robinson.  You may be surprised by how comfortably it fits the Crowes.  “Bring it on Home” seems more their style, and with Jimmy they turn it into a loud rocking assault.  The three guitarists are really able to bring to life “In the Light”, giving it the kind of depth it has in the studio.  Chris and Rich double the vocals to emulate the production on the Physical Grafitti original.

4.5/5 stars

This was a 200 word review in the tradition of the #200wordchallenge.

 

REVIEW: Quiet Riot – 10 (2014)

We’ve had a couple strong new releases in a row here of late: The new Helix and Judas Priest albums have been particularly great.

I guess two out of three ain’t bad.

NEW RELEASE

CoverQUIET RIOT – 10 (2014 iTunes or Amazon mp3 download)

I’ve made no secret of my dislike for the happenings in Quiet Riot recently.  I find their current reunion, with no original members, to be tenuous at best.  Singer after singer, Quiet Riot stumbled onwards before finally hiring Jizzy Pearl of Love/Hate and Ratt fame.  With Pearl they’ve managed to record an album.  10 is the name of that album, another thing I find a little disrespectful.  The name 10 seems to me to imply it’s their 10th album.  It’s not; all fans know Metal Health was their third, not first, album.   This seems to play into an earlier attempt to re-write the Quiet Riot related Wikipedia pages to state that Metal Health was the band’s first record.  Why?  I can only speculate that this is done to promote the current Quiet Riot as having “original members”, when in fact they have none.

However, I’m going to listen with open ears, because that’s what I’m here to do.

First track, “Rock in Peace” is one I like quite a lot.  What I don’t like is the muddy, muddy sound.  The drums sound like they’re in another room.  It’s too bad because I think the song has potential.  As for Jizzy, it’s easy to adjust to him as lead singer of Quiet Riot.  Although he doesn’t sound like the late Kevin DuBrow too much, he does have certain screamy qualities in common with DuBrow.  This enables him to adapt to the Quiet Riot sound.  The lyrics quote the band’s biggest original hit, “Metal Health”, which is alright.  Halford’s quoted himself before too.  OK, so production aside, not bad.

“Bang For Your Buck” has some tasty guitar by the talented Alex Grossi, making his first Quiet Riot album appearance here.  Unfortunately the otherwise fine song is held back by Jizzy, overreaching and straining.  Grossi really does redeem the song especially with the solo…but damn this album sounds muddy.  Congested.  Like I have a head cold while listening to it.

Third in line is the weird titled “Backside of Water”.  I don’t know what that title means, and since this is a digital release, there are no lyrics.  It smokes along nicely, with more fantastic Grossi guitars, but it’s an unremarkable song that doesn’t sound like Quiet Riot, except in the sense that Quiet Riot has a lot of unremarkable songs.  The Ratt-like “Back on You” is outtake quality.  I’m sensing that the guys think they can just throw a shout-AC/DC-style chorus on something and call it catchy, but it doesn’t work that way.

“Band Down” is what you’d call a “down n’ dirty” rocker.  I’d call it dull, and poor sounding.   I think they’re trying to recapture that “Stay With Me Tonight” vibe, but without a memorable chorus.  But “Dog Bone Alley” is worse, absolutely sunk by horrendous backing vocals.  It has a slinky, heavy groove, and some smokin’ guitars, but that’s not enough to build a song with.

Alex Grossi, Jizzy Pearl, Frankie Banali, Chuck Wright

Alex Grossi, Jizzy Pearl, Frankie Banali, Chuck Wright

Quiet Riot’s biggest stumbling block has always been songwriting.  That’s why some of their biggest hits are covers.  Quiet Riot 10 continues that frustrating tradition.   Just like albums such as Alive and Well had some good songs and solid moments, so is Quiet Riot 10.  And that’s only six songs!

What Quiet Riot did to make a full album is include four live songs, kinda taking a page out of the ZZ Top book, a-la Fandango!  These tracks are all obscurities, songs not available in live versions before.  They all feature Kevin DuBrow, but could Frankie have not found better sounding recordings?  From Quiet Riot III is a horrid sounding version of “Put Up or Shut Up”.  This is bootleg quality, and not even good bootleg quality.  Too bad; sounds like it was a good version.  Then, from the stinky Rehab CD comes an unnecessary “Free”.  So it’s heavy, whoop-de-do.  It’s a shitty song, and the vocals are so damn distorted at times that it sounds as if Kevin’s under water.  “South of Heaven” too suffers from these sonic defects.  It seems like they were going for a Zeppelin “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” kind of vibe, but as if the mothership crashed into “The Ocean”.  (See what I did there?)  Kevin even yelps, “Push, push!”  It’s a shame because Frankie really is a smokin’ drummer.

The final track is a nine minute rock n’ roll medley.  This is a great jam.  Humble Pie’s “Red Light Mama, Red Hot!” is a great little obscure choice.  Kevin sounds like he’s having a blast.  Actually the whole band sound like they’re having more fun here than they were playing their own originals.  This seques into other more familiar hits, still harkening back to that old British blues rock sound.

Live many albums of Quiet Riots past, 10 stumbles and fails at times, while producing pleasing hard rock surprises at others.  The sonic issues are a surprise to me.  I hope a physical CD release, if there is to be one, would improve the sound.

2/5 stars

1. “Rock in Peace” 4:00
2. “Bang For Your Buck” 3:52
3. “Backside of Water” 4:18
4. “Back on You” 3:24
5. “Band Down” 3:17
6. “Dogbone Alley” 4:29

Live
7. “Put Up or Shut Up” 4:18
8. “Free” 4:05
9. “South of Heaven” 5:25
10. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Medley” 9:22

 

For further reading, check out Jon Wilmenius’ review of Quiet Riot 10.

REVIEW: Them Crooked Vultures – “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” (10″ single)

Welcome back to the WEEK OF SINGLES 2!  We’re looking at rare singles all week.

Monday: Dream Theater – “Lie” (CD single)
Tuesday: Jimi Hendrix – “Valleys of Neptune” (7″ single)

VULTURES

 

THEM CROOKED VULTURES – “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” (10″ single)

I love unique looking items and this sure qualifies. Enveloped in a transparent red sleeve is a 10″ picture disc; this is something to behold. It looks great and you’ll want to put it in some kind of protective sleeve right away to keep it pristine, which is what I did.

The A-side contains the album version of “Mind Eraser, No Chaser” and a live cut of an unreleased song called “Hwy 1”. This  live track was recorded in January in Sydney, Australia. It’s an awesome tune, punctuated by some seriously dexterous playing from John Paul Jones. Those who have heard his solo album Zooma know exactly what I’m talking about. I really liked this song a lot, it gets into a great groove, locking in with Dave and Josh, and a melody that makes it a real standout. If it had been on the album it would have been one of the choicest cuts.

“Mind Eraser, No Chaser” itself was one of the better album tracks as well, making this side a great listen.  It’s a pretty succinct track that could be easily mistaken for a Queens of the Stone Age song.  No matter that John Paul Jones is 1/3 of the band, Them Crooked Vultures simply resembles QOTSA more than they don’t.

The B-side is an 11-minute interview conducted by film director Liam Lynch (Tenacious D: The Pick of Destiny).  It’s actually quite a good interview, with all three members of the band.  Both Dave Grohl and Josh Homme went into the album without having played their “main” instruments in a long time (drums and guitar respectively).  John Paul expresses his disappointment that many metal bands are simply parodies of the genre; but that the Vultures are certainly not.  My favourite quote is Dave Grohl’s:

“I’m never nervous about hitting ‘record’, and I’m never worried that, ‘hmmm, I hope I come up with a riff’.  ‘Cause riffs…I don’t have a problem coming up with riffs.  It’s songs that are important.  I even said that to Josh after the first we time we jammed.  I said, ‘You know, you and I could fill the Grand Canyon with riffs.  But we need to write some songs’.  That’s the hard part.  And that’s where John comes in handy ’cause he’s the genius composer/arranger.”

This was an April 17 2010 Record Store Day exclusive, but even today you can find them all over the place.  Don’t pay more than you need to, because you don’t need to.

5/5 stars

GALLERY: Three More Great Finds

This time, I was in a store that a buddy of mine runs, the same location that Uncle Meat used to work in.   My buddy wasn’t in (sick) but one of my old trainees was working  I trained him towards the end of my run as a Record Store Dude.  I was pleased to see that he was as nice as ever, and had grown an awesome big bushy beard.

I found two treasures, and took a gamble on one vinyl purchase.  Here’s the details:

1.  GENE SIMMONS – Gene Simmons Family Jewels Season 1, with bonus CD

For $9.99, this was a decent find.  It’s missing the outer case, which I can live without.  I bought this for the bonus CD.  This is apparently an Amazon.com (not .ca) exclusive, currently selling for $13 plus shipping.  So I paid an acceptable amount.  The CD contains two songs:  “Rain Keeps Falling” (sounds like a Crazy Nights outtake) and “You’re My Reason For Living” (sounds much more recent).  These are from the “forthcoming” Gene Simmons box set called Monster.  (I’m guessing he won’t be using that title now.)  Considering that Amazon.com advertises the Gene Simmons Monster box set as coming in 2007, I thought it might be nice to have these two songs.

2. THE ROLLING STONES – “Doom and Gloom” 10″ single

This one was…I dunno…I like the song, “Doom and Gloom”, and I won’t be buying that Stones box set any time in the near future, so this seemed like a good way to get it.   What troubles me is this is a remix by somebody named Jeff Bhasker.  So I have no idea if this will be any good.  We’ll see.  Apparently it’s one track, with the second side etched with a Stones logo.  I haven’t cracked the seal yet.  At $18.99, this one was probably overpriced.  But I’m a sucker for gimmicky vinyl, so, whatever.

3. ERIC MARTIN – Pure (Japanese Import)

Eric Martin is, of course, the lead throat from Mr. Big, a band that is basically big only in Japan.  This solo EP collects new acoustic versions of his solo tracks and Mr . Big hits.  It even includes stuff written in his pre Mr. Big days, from his Sucker For A Pretty Face album.

I paid $8.99, which was way underpriced for this.  A European import version goes for about $7 on Discogs, but the much rarer Japanese you’ll be lucky to find for under $40.  They didn’t have the disc cataloged in their system as Japanese so I’m thinking they didn’t notice.  I did though!  The Japanese writing on the back was the dead giveaway, even though the obi strip is missing.

Another funny thing:  Somebody put a sticker over the cover statue’s nipple!  A pasty, so to speak.  (Sticker removed for this gallery; it’s only a statue after all.)

So; another enjoyable shopping experience.  Some treasures found.  Good tunes, good times.  Look for reviews one day on LeBrain’s Blog.

For ethical reasons, I don’t identify the place I used to work, considering the nature of the Record Store Tales.  However if I did a Store Report Card as I have done for other record stores, I would rank this particular location:

3.75/5 stars

Doom and Gloom

REVIEW: Queens of the Stone Age – Rated R (deluxe edition)

SAM_2238

QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE – Rated R (2010 deluxe edition)

Any serious heavy rock fan worth his or her salt own at least one QOTSA album, usually Rated R. I mean, let’s face it…do you need integrity in your rock music? Could you give a crap about comercial stuff? Rated R is the album for you. While my personal preference is the Songs For The Deaf LP, Rated R is a close second.

This two disc edition is awesome and renders obselete any old versions you own. I happily gave away my previous UK only two-disc edition which came with the “Feel Good Hit Of The Summer” single and video. This new deluxe edition even replicates the colour scheme of the Rated X LP version which had the bonus track “Ode To Clarrisa” (included here).

SAM_2243

Every B-side from the Rated R years are included, live and studio. It also includes a concert, live at Reading from 2000, expertly captured by the BBC. That concert is awesome, containing QOTSA hits as well as the Desert Sessions classic “Millionaire”. (Later re-recorded by QOTSA on Songs For The Deaf as “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire”. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with live QOTSA, and this isn’t just live QOTSA…this is live QOTSA with Nick Olivieri still in the band. I lost interest to a certain degree after Nick was fired.

What of the album itself? Well, of course this edition sounds awesome. You should know some of these songs, especially “Feel Good Hit”. You may have heard “Monsters In The Parasol” from Desert Sessions or the QOTSA live album. Mark Lanegan’s vocal turn on “In the Fade” is awesome, and forshadows that singer’s awesome work on Songs For The Deaf. “Leg Of Lamb” is awkward but undeniably catchy. My personal favourite track is “Better Living Through Chemistry”, exotic, atmospheric and grooving. Perfect for late nights with a beverage by the campfire.

Noteworthy cameo:  Rob Halford (who was not in Judas Priest at the time, but in fact was in Halford).  He’s on “Feel Good Hit of the Summer”.  I couldn’t hear it at first, but, according to Uncle Meat:

Yes you can…put the song on right now…I am serious…do it!!  Listen closely at about the 2:03 mark … the little cuh-caine … about 2:03 or 2:04. Go do it!

He’s right!  That’s Halford!

Pick this up, if you’re only going to own one QOTSA album, this one is fully loaded and well worth the cash!

5/5 stars…rated awesome