andy curran

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

 

#890.5: Easter in the Age of Covid, 2.0

It didn’t come as a surprise when the province of Ontario went back into the “grey zone” again last week.  But sad to say, when I asked myself “How will this change my daily routine?,” I had to admit that it wouldn’t.  Easter wasn’t that different from last year.  I did some live streaming, I did some listening, I did some writing.

Actually I did a lot of listening and writing.  Andy Curran (Coney Hatch, Soho 69, Caramel) will be on the show this Friday April 9.  The guy is fount of rock knowledge so this will be quite a tour-de-force, and I have been doing my research.  I’ve been listening to Coney Hatch and solo Andy, on repeat.  I have three Rock Candy remasters here with valuable liner notes and bonus tracks.  I’ve been reading.  Deke will be in seventh heaven getting to talk to one of his heroes.  It’s going to be a lot of fun, and that’s one reason I do this.  It’s fun.

Friday afternoon I went over to my parents’ house to pick up some mail.  Mail theft became a serious issue last year so now I have my mail delivered elsewhere to be collected.  In the mail were two Star Trek movies that I haven’t seen in a long time.  Two years ago, I made the mistake of donating all my Star Trek DVDs while doing a big purge.  I said “No big deal, I’ll just buy a Blu-ray set.”  But none of the Blu-ray sets had the features I wanted from the DVDs.  I have been slowly buying them back, and this weekend I got to star Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan and Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.

It has been literal years since seeing The Voyage Home, or “the one with the whales”.  Perhaps a decade.  What a perfect film, at least as perfect as any movie with time travel conundrums can be.  I smiled and chuckled the whole way through.

As for Khan, I know I streamed it somewhere fairly recently, but it has been just as many years since I watched the extended director’s cut.  It only adds up to a few minutes here and there, but it was all fresh and new to me.  The restored scenes help clarify the identity of young Peter Preston, who dies in the first attack.  “He stayed at his post, when the trainees ran!” mourned Mr. Scott.  A restored line reveals Peter Preston is Scott’s nephew.  “My sister’s youngest,” he says.  “Crazy to get to space.”  Lines such as this add value to the already perfect film.  Others do not.  Additional exposition was probably cut because it wasn’t necessary.  I did like one in which Kirk explains to Spock who David Marcus is.  “That young man is my son”, says Kirk.  The only reply necessary from Spock:  “Fascinating.”

So I had fun.  I made lots of time to play some music.  I listened to Paul Stanley’s Soul Station, and I’m trying to find a way to be objective about reviewing it.  I like it a lot.  But if anybody else with a better voice put out a similar record, would I give it the time of day?  Unlikely.  So there is a certain hypocrisy there that I must address before I attempt to review it.  But I will.  I genuinely like the album.  But I like it on the same level that I like the Peter Criss solo albums:  as a reasonable facsimile of the real article.  A forgery through the lens of somebody I already like and am familiar with.  Easier to digest.

Tonight:  Easter dinner courtesy of Golf’s Steakhouse, via the generosity of my mom who always spoiled us.  Friday night’s live stream was Easter themed, and viewers were shocked at how spoiled we were as kids.  We got great Easter gifts while other kids got a chocolate bunny.  My sister and I didn’t question it, we just went with it!

Thanks mom for dinner tonight.  I ordered a porterhouse.  It’ll be here in 10 minutes.

Happy Easter my friends.

 

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Greatest Hits (1995)

KIM MITCHELL – Greatest Hits (1995 Alert)

Five studio albums, one live and an EP to boot:  Definitely enough music to justify your first solo Greatest Hits.  For added value, Kim included a bunch of new and unreleased music.  With 15 songs and over an hour of music, Kim Mitchell’s Greatest Hits is an easy buy for fans and collectors.  For new fans it’s not quite ideal, for reasons we’ll get in to.

Long time fans will remember that Kim’s prior band Max Webster issued a greatest hits called Diamonds Diamonds with two new songs.  This album follows suit with two brand new tracks recorded for this set.  “No More Walking Away”, co-written by Pye Dubois, is an electric ballad with stunning guitar tones.  This is in the same lane as some of Kim’s previous ballads from Rockland or Aural Fixations; very much a “later Kim” sound.  Long time fans will love hearing Peter Fredette on backing vocals.  The other new song, “Rainbow”, is a straight-on hard rocker.  With Andy Curran on lyrical duties, “Rainbow” is just good time Kim rock as you have grown to expect it.  It goes without saying that his guitar playing is tremendous.  The chorus goes all the way to the clouds.  “I’m bringin’ you back your rainbow,” sings Kim and you better believe it.

In addition to the new songs, this time Kim also included two re-recordings.  This is unfortunately where first-time buyers are going to be let down.  One of Kim’s biggest career hits was undoubtedly 1986’s “Patio Lanterns” from Shakin’ Like a Human Being.  This compilation includes a new arrangement, which is actually quite cool.  It’s twangy and has lots of guitar play.  But that’s not the version that old folks remember from highschool — not even close.  The tempo they used to dance to is gone.  This version, excellent as it is, unfortunately is only for people who already own the original.  The other re-recording is the less sacred “Lager & Ale”, originally from Akimbo Alogo.  The vocal line is slightly modified, but this one shouldn’t upset too many people.  The Akimbo original remains the best version.

What else is to be found on this disc?  We have the opening and closing bits called “Transcendental Soda” and “Hare Soda”, which are simply snippets from the live intro to “Go For Soda”.  Nothing too special, but elsewhere you’ll find some cool stuff.  “Expedition Sailor” is credited as “The Other Version” which is a remix from the music video, long unavailable to regular folks like us.  This fine ballad was a decent hit back in 1989-90 so it’s nice to own that elusive video mix.

That’s it for the special stuff listed on the back, but there are two hidden surprises within.  Between “Rainbow” and “All We Are” (the live version from I Am A Wild Party) you will find 30 seconds of a demo.  This is a demo for “All We Are”, and the tape could even date back to the Max Webster days since that’s when he wrote the tune.  That’s gold.  What a cool way to introduce “All We Are”.  The other surprise is evident by the track times.  Hit single “Rocklandwonderland” is missing the fade out, and runs out to its actual end.  It just ends — the guys just stop playing.  Really cool unlisted bonuses here.

As for the rest, it’s the hits!  All singles (though some only for radio), except for “Lemon Wedge” which was a hit with the fans.  Though it doesn’t suit everybody’s needs, Greatest Hits still plays well and scratches some of those big Kim itches.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Aural Fixations (1992)

ontario-bands-weekWelcome back to Ontario Bands Week, presented by BoppinsBlog,  Keeps Me Alive, Stick It In Your Ear, 1001 Albums in 10 Years, and mikeladano.com.  

SARNIA.

scan_20170128KIM MITCHELL – Aural Fixations (1992 Alert)

Over the course of his solo career, Kim Mitchell kept on givin’ ‘er even though some albums are cloudy in the collective memory today.  Aural Fixations made less of a hullabaloo than Rockland, and many of its tracks are forgotten by the Canuck masses.  Public amnesia does happen to deserving songs sometimes, and there are a few on Aural Fixations that merit dusting off.

Kim really made a niche of good time summer party songs:  “Rock N’ Roll Duty”, “I Am A Wild Party”, “Lager and Ale”.  “World’s Such a Wonder” assumed that duty on Aural Fixations.  His picking is impeccable, but fans in the know noticed something was “off”.  The quirky poetry of Pye Dubois was gone; he and Kim had a falling out during Rockland.  Others such as Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness – review at Boppin’s Blog) and Andy Curran (Coney Hatch – review at Stick It In Your Ear) filled the lyrical void instead.  This meant that one of the qualities that made Kim special, Pye’s unique wording, was gone.  Also departed was bassist/singer Peter Fredette.  Peter still provided backing vocals for this album.  That said, most in the Great White North probably did not notice or care.

“Big Smoke” is a bluesy grind, good stuff for guitar enthusiasts.  A couple upbeat tracks got radio play, such as “Hullabaloo” and “Find the Will”.  Both sound like what we had come to expect from Kim Mitchell:  rock and roll guitars, big hooks, and choruses built for shoutin’ along to.  The most outstanding one of the bunch is “Hullabaloo”, a real Canadian good time summer song.

“There’s a lot weekend doin’ on this hullabaloo,
Honey’s on the beaches, Monday back in old ‘T.O.’,
Showin’ off her sunburn.”

The song is perfect from the ground up. Verses, bridges and choruses all line up for one quintessential Kim Mitchell classic. “Take a walk on that wild guitar, it’s such a wild guitar…”

Aural Fixation also shifted towards lighter sounds, perhaps a bit too far.  “Pure as Gold” is the best of the softies, a quiet, slow smouldering bluesy ballad.  “Some Folks” steers right into the pasture, a keyboardy country ballad that could have been left in the barn.  The twangy “America” isn’t as bad.  It carved out another hit video, following in the footsteps “Easy to Tame” (1986).  Other tracks just simmer without ever really cooking:  “There’s a Story”, “Flames”, “Dreamer”.  The musicianship is above reproach, but the songs don’t all meet expectations.  “Dog and a Bone” has the rock, but the chorus lacks impact.

One of the most interesting tracks is the final one, an instrumental called “Honey Forget Those Blues”. A total of six guitar players are credited on it, creating a massive guitar harmony part. It sounds like a guitar orchestra playing the blues and it’s brilliant. Its cheeky creativity hearkens back to the glory days of Max Webster. It is in fact Kim’s first instrumental song as a solo artist.

Aural Fixations has those sparks of brilliance that makes you wish it consistent throughout.  “Hullabaloo”, “World’s Such a Wonder”, “Find the Will” and “Honey Forget Those Blues” could all be on a hypothetical Kim Mitchell “box set”.  Is that enough to add this album to your collection?

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Kimosabe (1999) / “Sudbury Saturday Night” (1998)

Here’s a Kim Mitchell two-fer for ya!  Once again it’s Epic Review Time!

KIMOSABE_0006KIM MITCHELL – “Sudbury Saturday Night” (from Summer Dock Party, 1998 EMI)

‘Twas Thomas who alerted me to the existence of Kim Mitchell’s cover of “Sudbury Satuday Night”.  He had heard about it from one of his customers, when Tom owned his own record store.  Somebody came in and said to him, “I heard a new Kim Mitchell song on the radio.  I don’t know what it’s called or where it’s from, all I remember are the opening words.  ‘The girls are out to Bingo, and the boys are gettin’ stinko,'” he recited.

Tom immediately recognized that as the opening line to Stompin’ Tom Connors‘ classic song, “Sudbury Saturday Night”.  He called me at my store to ask what Kim album it was on.  I didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t know he had recorded anything since 1994’s Itch.

He had.  This cover appeared on the Canadian compilation CD Summer Dock Party.  And what of it?  How does one cover Stompin’ Tom?  Well, for Kim Mitchell, it’s a harder rockin’ version of KIMOSABE_0007the song, complete with accordion and an electric guitar solo.  I’ve grown to like it more over the years.  It’s hard to overlook the sheer joy in Kim’s vocal.  No matter how you feel about the sanctity of covering Stompin’ Tom, I think Kim’s version has plenty of merit.

Great cover…not-so-great CD cover though! What would Irish Jim O’Connel and Scotty Jack Macdonald say about that front cover? That sure doesn’t depict gettin’ stinko, or represent “Cause everything is wonderful, tonight we had a good fight,” to me!

3.5/5 stars

*I was surprised to find a completely different studio recording of this same song on Youtube.  Further investigation is required.


 

KIM MITCHELL – Kimosabe (1999 Chinook)

I think Kimosabe is about separation.  I read that Kim was going through a divorce around this time, and perhaps the lyrics reflect that.  Additionally, there was another separation, as once again Kim parted with his long time writing partner Pye Dubois.  The two had a falling out after 1989’s Rockland, due to Kim’s decision to record in Los Angeles, without Pye present, as he had been for all of Kim’s previous albums.  The two reconciled for 1994’s Itch, but appear to have separated once again, because Kimosabe was written with Andy Curran (Coney Hatch) handling the lyrics rather than Pye.  I don’t know what happened.

Nothing against Andy Curran, but without Pye Dubois, lyrics lose some of their poetry.  That’s Pye, that’s what he brings to the table.  Having said that, I think by now, most Kim Mitchell fans are looking for a catchy song to sing along to.  Curran does fine.  Kim himself wrote two of the lyrics himself (“Cold Reality” and “Over Me”, two of the best songs).

The opening duo, “Monkey Shine” and “Stickin’ My Heart” are both rockers.  “Monkey Shine” is très bien; they’re not trying to re-invent the wheel on any of these songs. They’re just doing what they do well, and that’s providing some good Canadian party rock. These are “stock” kind of songs. Reliable, not particularly possessing personality, but getting the job done. TCB, baby.

“Cellophane” is a funky blues. At this point I’ll point out the groove of drummer Randy Cooke, one of my Canadian favourites. You may have heard him with Rik Emmett or the Four Horsemen among others.  Kim’s very slick and lyrical guitar playing is in the spotlight of this outstanding track.

KIMOSABE_0004

Things start to cloudy with “Two Steps Home”.  Not that it’s a bad song, quite the contrary.  But this is where the party stops.  There’s a lot of feeling in this quiet ballad.  As far as sheer songwriting goes, Kim should be proud of this one.  Still, I feel the playing really shines brightly, guitar and drums both.

After a tune like that, I need a rocker, and Kim delivers with the title track, “Kimosabe”, a pun on the phrase “ke-mo sah-bee”, popularized in the 1930’s by The Lone Ranger.  Strangely enough the lyrics also contain the German phrase “auf Wiedersehen”, proving Andy Curran doesn’t mind putting three languages together in one song.

My favourite song is “Blow Me A Kiss”.  This outstanding track begins as a melancholy piano ballad, but transforms by the chorus into a bright, light rocker.  I would rank this track among Kim Mitchell’s best solo songs, without a doubt.  Randy Cooke really kicks this one in the ass.

“Cold Reality” also has a melancholy character to it.  This one starts a ballad and stays a ballad, and speaks of getting over the end of a relationship. “Halleluiah baby, I am healing. This pain and rage I felt for years is finally leaving.” This is one that Kim wrote the lyrics for himself, and as I said earlier, it’s not poetry, but when he sings it, I can feel something, you know?

KIMOSABE_0002

Back to something a little more upbeat, “Over Me” has a modern funky vibe to it, of the light-rock variety. Divorce seems to be the theme again, so we’re not hanging out in party rock land, but it’s musically upbeat and catchy. By the chorus, Kim’s singing, “One thing’s for sure, I’m going to get over you, just like you got over me,” and who can’t relate to that?

My least favourite song is the slinky blues, “Get Back What’s Gone”, featuring the great Canadian singer Lisa DalBello. In think this is a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.” There’s nothing wrong with this well-executed blues, it’s just not clicking with me. It may with you, especially if you want to hear DalBello just sing some blues.

Album close “Skinny Buddah” is one of those lyrics where I just shrug and say, “OK, guys, whatever!” I have no idea what it’s about, but it’s a good solid rock song on which to close an album that I would consider to be a bit of a comeback.

Except it wasn’t. Kimosabe didn’t sell, and it would be eight whole years before Kim would release another album (2007’s Ain’t Life Amazing). That’s too bad. Given the chance, I think that this album could have introduced a new, “more mature” Kim, still fun, but now with a more serious side.  The album could have delivered a couple of hits. Too bad that isn’t the way it turned out. Bummer.

4/5 stars

KIMOSABE_0003

Part 95: Pierced and Scarred

RECORD STORE TALES Part 95: Pierced and Scarred

When you walk into a CD store today, you might see all sorts of colourful characters.  Maybe you’ll see a mohawk, purple hair, piercings and tattoos.  Something about the music scene attracts that sort of style, and young folks in CD stores often emulate their rock star heroes.

Well, not in our store!

When I first started in ’94, the rules were clear:  No weird hair colours, no piercings (not even ears, on men), no visible tattoos.  In a music store.

The rationale behind this was that we were a mall music store – we catered to mall rats who listened to Nine Inch Nails, but also to grannies looking for the new Anne Murray.  We couldn’t scare off the old ladies with an earring.  It all came down to personality really.  The man who called the shots and paid the bills as well as the paycheques didn’t like earrings on men.  He was a pretty clean cut, physically fit, unpierced chap and earrings on men were the opposite of his vision for a record store.

I know.  I know how weird that sounds, for a music store, but rules are rules are rules.

Then in ’95, we hired a girl with a visible back tattoo, so the tattoo rule quietly went out the window.  Guys were still not allowed to have earrings.

In ’97, one of our guys spent the summer in England.  He returned in the fall with a nose ring.  He knew the policy and didn’t care.  The boss decided to bend the rule, since he had “already spent the money” to have the piercing done. This opened the door a crack.  Before too long we had girls with nose rings, guys with eyebrow rings and visible tattoos, and I decided to get my ears pierced.  I put up with a little grief over it (“Why would you want to do that to yourself?”) but the policy was no longer in effect.  We were finally starting to catch up with the rest of the world in general, and music stores specifically!  Our new policy stated that facial piercings were allowed as long as they were not “excessive”.  “Excessive” was never defined, but it was understood that a couple were OK.

I decided I wanted a lip piercing, and later on a nose piercing.  I became very active in the body modification community, making friends in tattoo shops.  (Some of those friends are LeBrain readers today.)  I never went hog wild.  To date I only have two tattoos, and one earring left.  However as I went from my 20’s to my 30’s, working in a music store, I was able to explore different looks.

By 2004, there was a rollback of the piercing policy.  Sales had been slumping thanks to downloading, and changes were made.

While girls were still allowed to keep their nose rings, guys were not.  I was given direct instructions to remove my lip and nose piercings, immediately.  I protested.  “What about our policy?  The policy states that facial piercings are allowed as long as we don’t go into excess, and I only have two, which is less than others.”

The response was, “I know.  The policy was a mistake.  We’re changing the policy back, effective immediately.”

Our Niagara Falls store owner, Lemon Kurri Klopek, was very active in his local tattoo community, and even a tattoo shop overseas, which enabled him to tour there with his band, the Legendary Klopeks.  He sent some reading material written by Shannon Larratt my way, on why allowing piercings in the work place is good for morale and good for a unique store image.  I left these reading materials for my boss, who “filed” them.  I don’t know if he read them or not.  My piercings grew in.

In the long run, this policy change was a good thing.  Don’t get me wrong – it did nothing to fix sales slumps.  It did nothing to herd in old ladies by the gaggle, to purchase Anne Murray discs.  It did succeed in making me ask questions.  One question was, “Since I can’t have the piercings anymore, why don’t I just look for a normal 9-5 job?” The piercings were already out, it only made sense to make a new resume and make some serious life changes.