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REVIEW: Psycho Circus – Psycho Circus (1992 cassette)

PSYCHO CIRCUS – Psycho Circus (1992 indi cassette EP)

Psycho Circus put out their one and only album in 1993.  They were a talented band who avoided grunge cliches and instead dove into funk-metal and a darker Faith No More sound circa The Real Thing.  The album was split down the middle between the two sides.  Decades later I found an earlier indi cassette, released after they signed with SRO Management, the team behind Rush.

It’s quite clear this band had musical chops.  Opening track “Picky Purple People” is killer.  Faux-horns, massive bass and busy drums are relentless.  This is a goofier side of the band, but well executed.  If the Chili Peppers and Faith No More had a baby, it would sound like “Picky Purple People”.  Next is “Funk in Our Souls”, a track that was re-recorded for the album later.  The cassette version sounds more bass heavy.  It’s more enjoyable for that reason, not to mention the smoking guitar solo.  “Can You Feel It?” was also re-recorded for the album, but this is one of those darker songs that eschew the funk.  Singer Vince Franchi hits unreal notes.  His voice is versatile.  It’s Faith No More without the twisted mind.

The final track didn’t make it onto the CD.  “Psycho Circus” opens with traditional circus music, a full six years before Kiss did the same thing with their own song called “Psycho Circus”.  Maybe they should try suing Kiss?  It would be fun to see!  That’s the only similarity.  This is another funky track, and though the circus music is a bit silly, the chorus rocks.

The tape comes with a nice J-card and full lyrics.  In a way it’s a better listen than the album.  It doesn’t have as many great songs, but it also has less filler.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Faith No More – “Cone of Shame” (2016 RSD single)

scan_20170303-3FAITH NO MORE – “Cone of Shame” (2016 Reclamation Recordings 7″ single for Record Store Day, gold vinyl)

All hail the mighty JHUBNER, decorated hard-core hunter…of records.  Raise your Romulan ale (or what have you)!  Somewhere somehow, the subject of limited edition Faith No More singles for Record Store Day came up.  Mr. Hubner kindly took note that he had seen some at his local establishment.  With great care and expense, he packed it well, armored in a shell of cardboard that could withstand any wayward bombardments.  Thusly, I have acquired “Cone of Shame” on limited edition clear gold vinyl.  Had I thought this through, I would have asked for green, to compliment this burning green alcoholic beverage that Scotty below is hoisting to Mr. Hubner.

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This is a gorgeous 45.  The cover art is quite funny: a pug (with eyes blacked out for anonymity) wearing a doggie “cone of shame”.  Would have been better with a miniature schnauzer, but pugs are fine.   The vintage style label is starkly awesome in black & white.  The pristine yellow disc is a piece of beauty indeed, clean and clear and rich with awesome music carved into its grooves.

The A-side is the standard album version of “Cone of Shame” from Sol Invictus.  This is a song I have strongly warmed up to in the last year.  I didn’t care for it at first, but I have since fallen for its weirdness and Patton’s vocal heroics.  Flip over to the B-side and you will find J.G. Thirwell’s “Calcitron Mix” of “Motherfucker”.  I love what he did with it.  Most of Patton’s voice has been wiped leaving only Roddy Bottum’s hypnotic verses.  The word “motherfucker” is chopped and looped to become the main hook.  There is very little of the original song left.  Essentially a new song has been created with Roddy’s “get the motherfucker on the phone, on the phone” hook, chopped up and given the Max Headroom treatment.  The techno backing feels like a bunch of idiots at a rave, but that’s not my thing.  I’m easily amused so the rearrangement and repetition of the word “motherfucker” keeps me entertained.

Remixes are what they are.  You either like them or you don’t.  I usually lean towards the opinion that an original is better than a remix, 99% of the time.  There are the odd exceptions.  I think you need to use a different measuring stick when talking about remixes.  Instead of “did it make the song better”, perhaps the question should be “did it make the song different?”  In this case “Motherfucker” has been reimagined as something new, and that’s pretty cool.

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Glueleg – Heroic Doses (1994)


GLUELEG – Heroic Doses
(1994 Page Publications)

Any band that can handle an instrument as beastly as the Chapman Stick is worth listening to at least once. Glueleg, from Toronto Ontario, were once such band. They boasted not only the Stick but also a horn section with sax and trumpet. If that wasn’t enough to garner them some local praise, a few people turned their heads when they hooked up with former Cult bassist Jamie Stewart to produce their first CD, Heroic Doses. Prior Glueleg releases were cassettes…CD was the big time.

The title track was the first single/video, and entered rotation on MuchMusic and several rave reviews. Guitar player Ruben Huizenga sings this immediately infectious track. The hypnotic vocals, the punchy horns, the Stick, that low-as-fuck rib-busting riff…this track is perfect in every way. “Heroic Doses” nails it completely and there is no wonder that it garnered some serious attention. The end result of this was a record deal with EMI, but nobody can accuse Glueleg of being commercial on “Heroic Doses” even so.

“Pollo” (“Chicken”) is rapped and sung by Stick player Carlos Alonzo. He has an interesting voice, able to do a rap in a Beastie-like style but with his own spin. He can also sing quite well. He also sings “Mister Pink”, another manic groove. The horns deliver consistent punctuation, and that Stick just thumps. “Lilies” has a droney riff/groove combo that stoner rock bands today love to utilize. “Spiderman” is an original, an instrumental, but it certainly recalls the classic cartoon theme. Glueleg songs don’t tend to adhere to convention song structures. They have more in common with Mr. Bungle than the Chili Peppers, but much more accessible. Their songs have the complexity and chops of Bungle, but are direct. There are also grunge elements, a-la Alice in Chains.

The sonics of this album are really quite good even today. The Stick has a snap to it, and the horns have depth. Jamie Stewart (billed as James Stewart III) was doing a lot of production work in Toronto, all well received by local rock critics. Having two singers enabled them to play different styles of songs even within the confines of what Glueleg were doing. “Dust” is a dirge, for example. Then the next track “Pampa De Chooch” is completely different, at times almost sounding like Kyuss with horns. “Park Alien” might be Zappa-esque progressive jazz. “I Saw You Joja” is then something else again. Perhaps there’s a lack of focus, or maybe it’s just that Glueleg were so bursting full of ideas, but some songs come off as scattershot.

Biggest surprise of the album: the closing track “Red”, the King Crimson instrumental. What a drum tour de force performance this is, by Christian Simpson. Simpson is no slouch; he later went on to play with Saga for several years, as well as David Usher and Edwin.

I like all of it. Heroic Doses is one of those discs that are indicative of their times, and has nostalgia value, but also plenty of musical chops to keep you busy. If the songs had been tightened up a bit more I think you’d have a serious classic here. Unfortunately there are some songs that are just not quite there.

3.25/5 stars

REVIEW: Faith No More – Sol Invictus (2015 Japanese import)

We temporarily interrupt the Aerosmith series in order to bring you this…

NEW RELEASE

FNM SOL INVICTUS_0001FAITH NO MORE – Sol Invictus (2015 Reclamation, Japanese import)

When I worked at the Record Store, I used to tell the younger folks, “If you like bands such as Korn, System of a Down, or Incubus, then you need to check out Faith No More.  They were doing what those bands did way back in the early 90’s.”  I still maintain that to be true.  Faith No More have been there, done that, and moved onto Sol Invictus, their first studio album in 18 years.

Every Faith No More album requires multiple listens to “get”, usually somewhere between three and a dozen listens.  There is no shortcut to this.  The only way to appreciate Faith No More is to give each record the time and focus that it deserves.  Faith No More is not background music nor have they ever been.  Scott from Heavy Metal Overload said in his Sol Invictus review, “…On initial spins it seemed like Faith No More were playing it too safe. The material and delivery seemed lazy and half-baked.”  I had the same impression.  The songs seemed too laid-back and passive at first.  Then the album began to sink in, as I absorbed its shadowy intensity.

As a fan since 1990, I tried to keep my expectations reasonable in 2015.  In my heart, I knew that if Faith No More were to live up to their past, the new album must meet the following criteria at minimum:

1.  The album had to continue to straddle many genres of music, as they always have — preferably within the same song.  They have done this again, blending exotic moods and textures together into a contiguous whole.  Diversity is not an issue.

2. I needed Mike Patton to blow me away with his singing again.  I know his voice has changed (as voices do!) but he is such a unique, innovative vocalist that I couldn’t settle for anything less than manic intense awesomeness.  Once again, Patton has risen to the occasion.  Utilizing gutteral grunts, Tom Waits’ low grumbles, and sandpaper screams, he uses his voice as an instrument.  Just listen to that “Go! Go! Go! Go!” hook in “Superhero”.  There is no better way to describe it than vocals as a bizarre instrument.

3. A Faith No More album must be bracing, even if the songs are slower and quieter.  I found 1997’s Album of the Year (the last album, and the only other one with guitarist Jon Hudson) to be tame by comparison to their prior work.  Not Sol Invictus.  Even on slower, more melodic tracks like the excellent “Sunny Side Up”, they bristle with tension.  There’s an emotional intensity to every track.

4. Faith No More have to sound like they mean it — and they do.  I hate when a band reunites, but do not add anything to their legacy when they do it.  Sol Invictus has a purpose; you can hear the blood sweat and tears in the songs.

5. This one was a given.  The musicianship had to be top notch.  No worries there.  In addition I feel like I’m “getting to know” guitarist Jon Hudson for the first time, due to his diverse work here.  Heavy Metal Overload also laid kudos at the feet of keyboardist Roddy Bottum, and he does deserve credit for creating the textures and atmosphere.

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I have to admit I was worried about this album.  I didn’t care for the first two singles, “Superhero” and “Motherfucker”.  Because of this, I purposely did not play them again, until the album came out. I know that Faith No More are not the kind of band you can always appreciate from a single.  I was concerned that the first two singles didn’t leave an impression, but I knew that the context of a full album would do them good, and I was right.

My favourite track of the album cuts is “Rise of the Fall”.  This singular song combines elements from all eras of Faith No More into one.  At times it sounds like a Mosely-era track from Introduce Yourself.  At others, one of the more humid and tropical moments on King For A Day.  Then a track like “Matador” reminds me of how “Zombie Eaters” from The Real Thing builds, and builds, and builds.   It stands out to me for those reasons, but it is impossible for me to ignore any of these songs.  Each one has a personality of its own, and there are none I haven’t grown to like.  I look forward to listening to Sol Invictus this summer, and allowing the songs to unfold on their own, and reveal their colours.

The Japanese version of this CD has a fantastic bonus track — a remix called “Superhero Battaglia”.  Because I normally dislike remixes, you can trust me when I say this is a good’un.  The song is intensified and made more exotic.  I like it better than the original.  “Superhero Battaglia” was originally the B-side to “Superhero”, logically enough.  This leaves one B-side, a J.G. Thirwell remix of “Motherfucker”, still on my “want” list.  (It was the B-side to the Record Store Day single for “Motherfucker”.)

Sol Invictus is the first contender for album of the year.  (Pun intended.)

4.5/5 stars

DVD REVIEW: Goo Goo Dolls – Live In Alaska (2002)

GOO GOO DOLLS – Live In Alaska (2002 Earth Escapes DVD)

I bought this for myself the week after I broke up with Radio Station Girl, looking for some new music to soothe my soul.  This DVD hit the spot for two reasons: the music and the scenery.  I like a lot of Goo Goo Dolls’ albums, and I really love the icy landscapes of the north.  Live In Alaska delivers on both.  From a series called “Music in High Places”, the DVD takes us all the way to Arctic Circle among the glaciers.  The band don’t play a traditional concert.  Instead they made videos in unusual locations, such as outdoors next to a partially frozen lake in the tundra.

That is the scene for “Black Balloon”.  There must have been some serious technical challenges to record there.  There are scenes of people arriving by small plane and air drops of equipment by helicopter, and then getting into position via rubber dinghy.   Wouldn’t it be hard acoustically to record songs in an open expanse?  I don’t know, but they did it and I like it.  The visuals add another element, and it surely must have been inspiring for the band to play in such a clean, isolated environment.

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Up next, the Dolls get to participate in the sport of dogsledding on Punchbowl glacier.  Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik says, “I have a really cool job. I get to do stuff like this,” and I’m jealous!  It’s warm enough for just short sleeves.  He is then taken by helicopter to an even more beautiful and remote location.  Standing on an ice island in the middle of a sparkling blue lake in the middle of Knik glacier, Rzeznik sings “Acoustic #3”, and it’s haunting.  It’s also a sight to behold.  The frigid water is bluer than anything you have seen before, not to mention this is one of his most beautiful songs.  You can hear the water gurgling faintly behind.

The band reconvenes in Hope, Alaksa at a tiny little bar to play the hit “Broadway” acoustically.  If the locals know who they are, they don’t let on, but one does play harmonica with them.  This is one of their best tunes, and I like the sound of it in this environment.  Only one thing pisses me off, and that’s interrupting the damn song to edit in some interview footage!   Bad editing.  I don’t know why some videos do this — splice interviews into the middle of the song.  Fucking stop it!  I hate that!  Fortunately, one of the DVD bonus features is something called “just the music”, where you can watch the song uninterrupted.

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Going mudsliding looks like a ton of fun.  The Dolls had a blast playing this game with kids, and getting absolutely covered in mud in the process.  (Rzeznik after cleaning: “It looked like a mud bomb went off in my bathroom.”)  Another cool concert location is on a train, where “Here Is Gone” is performed.  I must wonder if this was a technical nightmare to record.  The train appears to be moving extra slowly, perhaps to reduce noise.  I am sure this scene was meticulously planned.  The train was a special charter for the Dolls, and they could start and stop as they pleased.  The band are in a coach car with a glass dome roof.  The train enters a tunnel mid song, and things get dark, before it emerges in the light again at the end of the tune.  Really cool shot.

Flying to Kotzebue, Alaska the band are greeting by a cheering crowd.  The local news crews are out for this major event!  The next concert location is a bridge, where they play “Big Machine”.  This song isn’t as strong acoustically.  The album version with its electric riff is more interesting, but hey.  It’s the outdoors in Alaska in the summertime.  What more do you need?

Taking a break from performing for a moment, the band next get to enjoy some native culture and music.  But then it’s back to work, and they play “What A Scene” right there on a stoney ocean beach surrounded by the townsfolk.  10% of the population turned out for it!  This track works a bit better acoustically to my ears than “Big Machine” did.  Some of the kids in town are into it, some look bored, but soon it’s back to fun and games.  People are hurled into the air via a huge trampoline-like skin.  Robby Takac volunteers and gets pretty high up there!  But he only does it once!

The final song of the DVD is “Slide”, another huge favourite of mine. This is performed by the full band, on another chunk of ice in the middle of a lake.  You could not imagine a more perfect setting for such a bright, melodic song.  Once again I wonder about the technicalities of recording this performance but it sure looks and sounds 100% live.  Behind the scenes shots show giant boom mics and cameras on cranes.  Great tune to close on though, a highlight of this set and their career.

GOO GOO_0003The DVD has some very cool bonus features.  These include a terrible text bio that nobody will ever read.  The others include behind the scenes documentaries about Kotzebue and its inhabitants, and the Alaskan railroad.  Some of this material is included in the main feature, but it’s not really about the band.  It’s about the people and the scenery, but that’s cool in its own right. Interesting fact:  Even though the sun shines all night in Kotzebue in July, they still have fireworks on the 4th.  They’re not as cool, but they do have ’em!  They also have warm sunny swimming at 1 am, and the local radio station gets calls for requests all the way from Russia.

Not listed on the back of the package, but more important than the other features, are two bonus songs.  These can only be found if you happen to check out the “just the music” section.  “Sympathy” is the first, performed acoustically on the train.  Great tune.  “Do You Know” is the second, on the beach on Kotzebue.  This is Robby Takac’s only lead vocal (and it was cut from the main feature)!  This song reflects the Goo Goo Dolls punk rock side, from which they originated.  Robby’s vocal is raspy and ragged, just like I like it!

For Goo Goo Dolls fans, I can’t recommend this DVD enough.  The cool thing is that even if you’re just a casual fan who knows the hits, you’d dig it too.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Live – Throwing Copper (1994)

LIVE – Throwing Copper (1994 Radioactive Records)

20 year ago.  It seems like such a long time, but it’s true: There was an era when the top of the charts were dominated by the likes of Hootie, and Live. Kids today might not know Live, but many of these songs are still radio staples today: “I Alone”, “Lightning Crashes”, “All Over Me” among others.  8 million copies sold, and although you can find it used quite easily today, a lot of people hung onto their copies of Throwing Copper.  I am one.

I began working at the record store in 1994, and I used to tell my customers, “You’ll probably know all these songs.” I said that for a few albums back then, such as Purple by Stone Temple Pilots and Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. Not only did Throwing Copper have five hit singles, but virtually every album track was getting played somewhere. That’s how strong this record is.

The legacy of this album is its influence. I will maintain that without Throwing Copper, there would be no Matchbox 20, and certainly no Daughtry. Unfortunately all those bands learned from Live was bombast, and they turned it up to 11. They learned nothing about song craft, nothing about expression, nothing about restraint.

Throwing Copper has bombast in spades. It’s there in Ed’s vocals, but it’s also there in the rhythm guitar parts and the noisy Neil Young-esque solos. It’s there in the rolling bass lines and the thundering drums. But Ed Kowalczyk also knew how to use his voice quietly (“Lightning Crashes”), which amazingly was still as expressive. He names Michael Stipe as a huge influence, and you can hear R.E.M. and even U2 between the grooves.

Personal fave song:  “Shit Towne”.

Production by Jerry Harrison is stunning. The drums are some of the best, most natural sounding drums recorded in the 90’s and the bass is strong without dominating. This CD is in no need of a remastering, it sounds just fine as it is.

It’s kind of a shame that Live never did anything this good again, or with this kind of impact. While I have listened to every Live album since, I never bought any of them. This is the only one I bothered buying, and I liked it so much I bought some of the singles when I could find them. The domestic single for “White, Discussion” has a great acoustic version of “I Alone”.

If you need some 90’s nostalgia, and don’t have this album, you absolutely need it. If you’re too young to remember the 90’s but love bands like Theory of a NickelCreed, then you need to find out what real music sounds like. Throw out your Daughtry discs and pick up Throwing Copper.

5/5 stars

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There is also an unlisted track after “White, Discussion” known as “Horse”.

REVIEW: Mr. Bungle – Mr. Bungle (1991)

MR. BUNGLE – Mr. Bungle (1991 Warner)

For the uninitiated, get ready. You’ve never heard anything in your life like Mr. Bungle. Featuring the powerful pipes of Mike Patton, Bungle was his pre-Faith No More band which he admirably kept going through the 90’s before finally calling it a day. This album, produced by John Zorn and completely different than anything Bungle did after, is a challenging first listen for the musically timid.  It is also acutely rewarding, and can only do good in expanding your musical vocabulary. If that ain’t your cup o’ tea, it also has lots of X-rated, adult only lyrics; words that will keep you laughing, disgusted or titillated all the way through. See: “Squeeze Me Macaroni” (sex with food) or “The Girls of Porn”.

Mr. Bungle squeezes multiple genres into single songs, often switching gears multiple times within a minute. Careening joyfully from breakneck-speed horn-laden funk, to death metal guitar with doo-wop vocals, to circus music and beyond, this is not for the meek. This is for the open minded. This is for the bored, those who can no longer handle the same damn songs on the radio all the time, the same keys, chords, time changes and instrumentation. And if you’re a Mike Patton fan already, but somehow missed this, prepare to have your mind blown.The production by John Zorn is perfect. How he managed to arrange all these instruments, samples, and voices together into coherent songs is nothing short of genius. The sound is gloriously crisp. This is Mr. Bungle’s magnum opus.

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Highlights:
  • “Travolta” – Changed to “Quote Unquote” on later pressings for obvious legal reasons.
  • “Squeeze Me Macaroni” – “Hostess Ding Dong wrapped an eggroll around my wong / While Dolly Madison proceded to ping my pong”
  • “The Girls Of Porn” – “The urge is too much to take / All I can think about is playing with myself / It’s time to masturbate / I got my Hustler and I don’t need nothing else”
  • “My Ass Is On Fire” – A memorable shocker ending with Patton chanting “Redundant, redundant, reeeedundant, reDUNdant…”
  • “Stubb (A Dub)” – A song that questions, among other things, if a pet dog believes they will grow up into a human being.

 

Regardless of the contrasting styles and lightning fast changes, after a fashion the album flows, and cannot really be broken down into singles, or put on a mix CD. It needs to be listened to in its entirety, in sequence. And be careful, when turning up the volume during the quiet moments.  You might want it louder to hear some bit of dialogue that’s mixed in too quietly.  That’s just when they blast you with more guitar and horns!

If you don’t like this on first listen, don’t fret. You’ll love it by the 21st. Guaranteed*.

5/5 stars

* I don’t actually honour any guarantees.

Top Five(s) of 2013 – Part 1

No bullshit, let’s just get to the lists!  Yes, lists!  This year I asked some past contributors & readers to give me their Top Five Albums of 2013.  Some have left comments with their lists.  So let’s get to the lists — I also threw my hat into the ring!

Lemon Kurri Klopek

5. OST- Alan Partridge: Alpha Papa.
Mostly for the Alan Partridge banter between tracks. Insanely funny stuff from Steve Coogan. Some decent music too. Featuring an eclectic playlist featuring the likes of; The Human League, Glen Campbell, Carly Simon, Sting and OMD.
STEVE4. TravisWhere You Stand
Quietly released in August. Solid record from the Glasgow quartet.
3. David BowieThe Next Day
I’m one of the people who like all eras of Bowie. That’s it.
2. Sigur RósKveikur
Love this band. Everything they’ve done.
1. Steve Earle and The DukesThe Low Highway
Some of the best songs Steve has written. This record is up there for me with I Feel Alright and El Corazon.

Seb

Black_Sabbath_13Sebastien, whom I first met at Sausagefest is a talented guy and you will be hearing from him in the future!  He’s a musician/ producer/ filmmaker/ Star Trek fan and we’ll be collaborating on something in 2014 for sure.   Consider this Seb’s first guest shot.

5. Killswitch Engage –  Disarm the Descent
4. Black Sabbath13
3. Philip H. Anselmo & The IllegalsWalk Through Exits Only
2. Avenged SevenfoldHail to the King
1. Protest the HeroVolition

Tom

Tom is our host at Sausagefest, and one of the Jedi Masters who helped instruct me in the ways of Rock.  Top Five was simply not possible for this rock warrior.

GHOST11. Vista Chino Peace
10. MotorheadAftershock
9. Deep PurpleNOW What?!
8. Charles BradleyVictim of Love
7. AnthraxAnthems
6. VoivodTarget Earth
5. Steve EarleThe Low Highway
4. Black Sabbath13
3. Orange GoblinA Eulogy For The Fans
2. Clutch Earth Rocker
1. Ghost Infestissumam

Meat


You guys already know Uncle Meat from his numerous lists in the past.  Please welcome back the one, the only, the man the myth the legend, Uncle Meat.  He’s submitted a Top 8 this year.  That’s cool with me.

8. MotorheadAftershock
7. EminemThe Marshall Mathers LP 2MEAT
6. Vista ChinoPeace
5. GhostInfestissumam
4. The SadiesInternal Sounds
3. Black Sabbath13
2. Sound City PlayersReal to Reel
1. Steve EarleThe Low Highway

LeBrain

NOW WHAT_0003I thought I had my Top Five nailed down weeks ago.  Then, Aaron threw a spanner in the works by giving me the new Pearl Jam for Christmas.  Instantly enamored with this sure-to-be classic, I had to re-think my Top Five.

Then, just two days ago I realized that one of my albums is a 2012 release.  But I felt so strongly about it, that I can’t take it out.  So here’s a Top Six.


6. Queens of the Stone Age…Like Clockwork
5. Pearl JamLightning Bolt
4. Alice In ChainsThe Devil Put Dinosaurs Here
3. Flying ColorsFlying Colors 2012 release
2. Black Sabbath13
1. Deep PurpleNOW What?!

I would also like to give credit to the new self-titled Dream Theater for putting out an album that caused me to rethink this list over and over and over again!

2013 was an interesting and exciting enough year that I’ve decided to do another buncha lists tomorrow!  We’ll be looking at movies, television and more.  Come back then for some bonus Top 5’s of 2013.

Oh…and HAPPY NEW YEAR!  See you in 2014!

FURTHER READING:  Check out Aaron’s 2013 lists at the KeepsMeAlive.

 

REVIEW: Nine Inch Nails – Broken (1992)

 

NINE INCH NAILS – broken (1992 Interscope EP) / halo five

I remember seeing this in my local HMV store in 1992.  I thought, “Nine Inch Nails have cool packaging,” because you didn’t see too many digipacks back then.  It’s cooler than just that though, with three panels unfolding in a “T” shape each with a letter on it.  “n”…”i”…”n”…

Gotta give Trent Reznor credit for packaging, he usually has very striking and original concepts for his discs.  Also cool how the packaging for broken nicely complements the remix album fixed once both are bought.  broken technically qualifies as an EP I guess, or a mini-album maybe, even though it is longer than most classic Van Halen albums.

BROKENThere is a version of broken out there that was once considered one of the Holy Grails of Nine Inch Nails collectibles.  I guess the advent of eBay made it much easier to get, because eBay has one as of this writing for $12, free shipping, VG condition.  It is a 2 CD version, with the two “hidden” tracks on a separate 3″ CD enclosed within the digipack.  This was supposedly discontinued because unscrupulous store owners were taking out the bonus CD and selling it separately.  Or so goes the legend.  I think cost would also have been a factor in discontinuing the bonus CD.  On re-releases like I own, the bonus tracks are included as #98 and #99, with 91 tracks of 1 second silences preceding them.

“Pinion” serves as a brief intro to “Wish” and they are always presented together.  This serves to intensify the mighty “Wish”, the heaviest song released by Nine Inch Nails up to the time.  What sounds like a blowtorch punctuates a frantic drum rhythm.  This progresses into a mélange of bizarre sounds, shredding guitars and a sledgehammer riff.  “Last” follows, a slower more relentless riff.  At times its the industrial version of “Sad But True”, but with a synthpop style chorus.  Reznor maintains his angry snarl throughout, bitching about whatever he’s bitching about.  “Pigs” are referenced, he sounds upset, angry, sad…aww!

“Help Me I Am In Hell” is one of the coolest tracks, a quiet two-minute guitar n’ noise respite.  It sounds a lot like some of the quieter moments that would later come on The Downward Spiral (a genius album if there ever was one).  Then, “Happiness in Slavery” serves as a barrage to the noggin’, Trent yelling stuff about slaves screaming in a distorted voice.  There are some cool, ascending metal-y guitar licks and another synthpop chorus.  If I had to guess, I’d say the lyrics are a thinly veiled discourse on getting screwed by your record label, as Trent was at the time.

The final song of this batch of tracks is “Gave Up”, another fast metallic song.  It’s hard to discern the melodies from it, such is the distortion of the track.  It does have a bad-ass keyboard solo though. Trent sounds like he’s singing on a broken tape deck and the guitars sound like they’re on the same cassette too.  It’s my least favourite song on the EP, although I remember it had a cool “live” style music video with Marilyn Manson on guitar.

After 91 tracks of silence (a quaint-oh-so 90’s gimmick that I sidestepped by not ripping them) are the bonus cover songs.  “Physical (You’re So)” is an Adam and the Ants tune, morphed into something that sounds like a cross between Nine Inch Nails and Motley Crue.  This is a great track.  Among the best on the album.  There are jackhammer sounds, plenty of distortion and unidentifiable but cool sounds.  “Suck” is a Pigface cover (from Gub) that Trent originally sang and co-wrote anyway.  It has a powerful chorus and riff much like the rest of broken, but the verses (pun intended) kind of suck.  That funky bassline…it’s not my thing, I guess.

One weird thing.  I don’t know where it came from, but I somehow got a booklet for a Japanese version of broken.  I found it inside my copy…I must have found it laying around at the store.  Kinda neat to have, I can’t read a word of it, but cool.  My CD appears to just be the regular single disc US release otherwise.

4.5/5 stars

More Nine Inch Nails at mikeladano.com:  RECORD STORE TALES Part 222:  Mr. Self Destruct

Part 248: Hagar Bashing

SAMMY HAGAR

RECORD STORE TALES Part 248:  Hagar Bashing

There’s been some Van Hagar bashing recently here at mikeladano.com.  First there was this, and then this…some strong language here and there as well.  Seems that “Hagar Bashing” has been a hobby for me for a long time.  Witness this nearly decade old record store journal entry that I found.

Date: 2004/08/26 10:03

Someone should pass a law preventing Sammy Hagar from singing any old classic DLR tunes. “I got my ass against the record machine”???  Fuck you Sammy, go drink your tequila.

I kind of like that, I wish I’d worked that into my Best of Both Worlds review.  “Fuck you Sammy, go drink your tequila!”  I’m sure that would be considered a very professional review!  Speaking of which, apparently I wasn’t too impressed with a review that I read in Bass Guitar magazine, judging by the journal entry below.

Date: 2004/08/25 00:25

I hate reading an article in a magazine, and realizing I could have done a better job than the guy who gets paid all that cash for being in a big glossy.  I am reading a bass magazine, and there’s an article on Van Halen.  They’re talking about how consistent Michael Anthony’s sound and style has been, and continues to be on the three new songs.

Well, if the writer had bothered doing any checking, he would have seen that Anthony doesn’t play bass on the three new songs.  He in fact has nothing to do with the new album whatsoever.  I would have known that, not made a mistake in the article, and in addition asked Anthony about it in the interview!  I could have done a better job than this pro…and I wouldn’t even ask for a dime!

And I still haven’t made a dime!  Goal achieved.

Legend has it that Sammy Hagar liked this song even though Thelonious Monster meant it to be insulting.

More VAN HALEN at mikeladano.com:

A Different Kind of Truth (2012) – The Best of Both Worlds (2005 2 CD set) – Record Store Tales Part 186: The Van Halen TinVan Halen III (limited edition tin) – “Can’t Stop Loving You” (1995 single tin) – “Right Now” (1992 cassette single) – “Best of Both Worlds” picture sleeve 7″ single