attitude

#715: The Lost Chapters – “The First Year”

These paragraphs were chopped from Record Store Tales Part 6:  The Record Store, Year 1.  I dunno why.

 

GETTING MORE TALE #715: The Lost Chapters – “The First Year”

Ever seen High Fidelity with John Cusack?  When Cusack says, “I hired these guys to come in three days a week, and they started coming in every day.  There’s nothing I can do to stop it.”  That was us.  That me and T-Rev.  The boss man hired on Trev in the fall, two months after I started.  We worked opposite nights and opposite weekends.  We were like ships passing in the night.  We never would have gotten to be such tight friends if we didn’t keep coming into the store every freaking day!

See, as used CD store, we got in new inventory every day.  We were getting in cool shit.  I was just beginning to transfer my music collection over from cassette to CD, so I just started to upgrade and buy up old back catalogue.  I snagged You Can’t Stop Rock And Roll by Twisted Sister that year, which was a big deal to me because it was deleted at the time.  I got some Dio CDs that I never had before.  I began collecting Rush in earnest.  We had rarities too.  I got a split King’s X / Faith No More live bootleg called Kings of the Absurb which is pretty damn good.  I really got quite a few CD singles at that time too.  A few previously unknown Faith No More singles dropped into my lap.  It was crucial to come in frequently.  If you didn’t, you might miss something you were looking for.  Or something you didn’t know you were looking for.

After two months of shadowing the owner, I was working solo and loving it.  I got to pick my own music every night, within reason.  There were obscure rules.  Judas Priest was out, but Soundgarden was OK.  Anything that was a new charting release was considered OK for store play.  We were allowed to open anything to play it, as long as we didn’t abuse that.  For the first while we were even allowed to bring music from home.

That ended when I brought in a bunch of recent purchases to listen to one morning.  They included an indi band from Toronto, called Feel, formerly known as Russian Blue.  The sound was vital, and the early 90s buzz was that Toronto was going to be the next Seattle.  I was all over these bands, like Slash Puppet, Russian Blue, Attitude (later Jesus Chris), Gypsy Jayne, and the rest.

[An aside:  I caught a little flak when I took in a used copy of Slash Puppet.  “This is an indi band,” the boss complained.  “It’ll sell,” I defended myself.  “Trust me I know this band.”  I knew half a dozen customers by name that I could recommend it to.  I sold it to the first of those guys to come in, this insurance guy named Tony who loved 80s rock.  He bought it after one listen.]

The day I had my personal Feel This CD in the store player, a customer noticed it.  He thought it was cool, wanted it, and asked how much.  I had to tell him it was my own personal copy, and no I couldn’t order it in because it was an indi band.  He would have to write to the band to get a copy, and I wrote down the information inside the CD for him.

The boss thought this was kind of a silly situation, and rightfully so.  Why play music we weren’t selling and were not able to sell?  This was a store.  So that ended.  No more bringing music from home.  I guess I’m the guy who ruined it for generations of Record Store employees to come.

 

Part 310: Logos Galore

RECORD STORE TALES Part 310: Logos Galore

This subject came up in discussion a few months ago: Did you used to draw band logos on all of your stuff? Sure you did! If you’re reading this blog, then you’re a music lover, and all true music lovers have scrawled a logo on something at least once.

I found a single page with dozens of my old hand-drawn logos. This goes back to my first days at the Record Store!  Some are good, some are shite, some aren’t even the real logo!   I think the TS “bone” logo looks pretty good, and I’m going to give myself props for using obscure versions of the Kiss and Helix logos.

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REVIEW: Jesus Christ – Jesus Christ (1994)

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JESUS CHRIST – Jesus Christ (1994 Hypnotic)

Jesus Christ were formerly a glam band; a really decent glam band called Attitude. You may recall their video on Much for “Tear The Walls Down”. I still have their indi cassette, and some of the songs on it were pretty good. Grunge then came and went, and Attitude decided to toughen up, and go full-on metal. They changed their name to Jesus Christ for attention, which didn’t really work.

You can find this CD in just about every clearance bin in the province. I paid $24.99 at HMV in 1994 without hearing a note; a decade later I was clearing these out of my bargain bin for 99 cents.

Musically this is really heavy, poorly produced detuned sludge-thrash metal circa 1994 when you weren’t allowed to have catchy riffs or solos anymore. Lots of screaming vocals, not a lot of catchy parts or memorable songs. Downtuned guitars and pseudo-metal grooves are the norm here. It kind of reminds me of an early 90’s version of St. Anger. Headache inducing, harsh, not a lot of melody or songcraft.

Best tunes:

  • “Peace By Piece” (angry song…rahr!)
  • “I Hate” (another angry one, rahr rahr! but with some dynamics)
  • “Ace of Spades” (yes, a Motorhead cover)

And that’s pretty much it. The rest is one chugging detuned song into the other.

2/5 stars

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REVIEW: Slash Puppet – Slash Puppet (EP, 1993)

I found much to my horror that my original Amazon.ca Slash Puppet review had been taken and credited to some defunct site called “bandfocus.net”!  I thought it would be wise to re-claim it for myself.  Here it is in slightly revised form.

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SLASH PUPPET – Slash Puppet (Fringe EP, 1993)

A short while ago, I reviewed the debut release by the legendary Toronto glam metal band, Slash Puppet. For a while there, it looked like Slash Puppet was destined to be the “next big thing”.  They were winning awards, had national video play, and a stunning collection of hard rock material to draw from for their well-reviewed gigs.

Well, you know what happened next. Grunge took over, and the Toronto metal scene never exploded the way it was hoped. If it had, Slash Puppet would have been the band leading the charge. (With Winter Rose, I Mother Earth, Sven Gali, Russian Blue, Slik Toxik, Attitude, and so many others right behind…ahh, but I digress.)

This 1993 EP was their second release (the afformentioned debut is now available on CD as No Strings Attached, on Sun City Records).  It is solid from start to finish. The singer, Mif (better known as Anthony J. Mifsud; you’ve seen him acting in the Norm McDonald comedy Dirty Work!) has a soulful, gritty, and gravelly voice that has elements of Brian Johnson and Lemmy, but really sounds like neither. Really, Mif sounds like Mif, and you have to hear the voice to get it. The band were tight, emphasizing tough riffs, killer choruses, and street-smart lyrics. No wimpy songs here. Even the sole ballad “Eyes Of A Child” isn’t a wimp-out. Not with lyrics like those, and a soulful delivery from Mif.

The lead track from No Strings Attached, “Slow Down”, reappears here, now parsed as “Slowdown”. (I believe this song is a remix with a new bass part, based on the credits. Peet Dove played bass on the original demo version but is not credited here, which leads me to believe the bass was re-recorded by new bassist Dave Carreiro. Otherwise, the song sounds almost identical to the demo version.)

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Every song smokes.  Slash Puppet down-shifted on speed for these songs, but traded that in for a slightly bluesier, soulful vibe.  Their songwriting abilities grew by leaps and bounds between releases, no doubt enhanced by their live experience.  When their debut was recorded, the band had not even played a gig yet!  Slash Puppet is much more melodic than No Strings Attached, but still tough as nails.

If you’re into tough, glammy rock n’ roll with great musicianship and songwriting, Slash Puppet are the band to check out. This EP just shines.  If you’re into collecting obscure albums from the era, or Canadian bands, this CD is an absolute must, although I saw one guy on ‘net claiming to have sold his copy for almost $200!  I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay that much.  Check thrift shops and used CD stores.  I used to sell this in my store for $5.99.

This EP was mixed by Rich Chycki, probably best known for his 5.1 work with Rush!

Here’s hoping Mif and the surviving members reunite for a few more songs or shows. I’ll be there.

5/5 stars

Part 146: Cassettes Part II – The Indi Years


Above:  A brief history of M.E.A.T Magazine…

RECORD STORE TALES Part 146:  Cassettes Part II – The Indi Years

Back in the days of the record store and M.E.A.T Magazine, I was into every indi band I could get my hands on.  M.E.A.T released a series of discs, four volumes total, called Raw M.E.A.T, showcasing the best in up and coming unsigned Canadian bands.  In addition, their magazine featured numerous ads from dozens of bands hawking their demo tapes.  Harem Scarem, who later went on to get signed by WEA and had great success in Japan, was one.  Unfortunately I never got their demo tape.  Just missed it.

One band that I was heavily into was called Russian Blue, from Toronto.  They were edgy hard rock.  1/4 Guns N’ Roses, 1/4 Zeppelin, 1/4 Coverdale, and 1/4 their own style.  Digging their two demo tapes up (both dated 1991) I was surprised how good this band was.  Not only were they good musicians with a truly great singer in Jo E. Donner, but some of the songs were exceptional.  They later changed their name to Deadmoon and finally Feel, before finally releasing their own alterna-rock CD called This.  (Feel This, get it?)  I was seriously into this CD during my first year at the store, as it combined the hard rock vocals that I loved from the past with a current grungier sound.  I gave it significant store play, since it was a current hip sound.

Two of their songs that made it onto the Raw M.E.A.T discs were standouts:  “Once A Madman” and “Mama’s Love”.  But ripping these tapes to disc, I re-discovered two more.  The unfortunately titled “Likkin’ Dog” was a great hard rock groover.  By the second tape, they were incorporating more experimental alternative sounds (ahead of their game back in 1991) and a track like “Bleed” showcases an angry riffy side.

Donner later formed a band called Ledgend with ex-Slik Toxik drummer Neal Busby, but I don’t know what happened to them after that.

Attitude were a glam rock band from Toronto who scored some video play with their song “Break The Walls Down”.  Their cassette looked pro all the way, printed on heavy card stock and even featuring a separate lyric sheet.  Their weakness was in the lead vocals department.  By 1994 they had abandoned the hard rock stylings and gone for a thrash alternative hybrid and changed their named to Jesus Christ.  Probably not a smart move.  The CD (released on the major label A&M) looked terribly low budget with awful indi cover art.  I recall trying to sell this in our store for 99 cents.  (I unfortunately paid $20 for it brand new when it was first released in 1994!  Little did I know that we would later see dozens of copies thanks liquidators.  They were impossible to sell, even though it boasted a throat-wrenching cover of “Ace of Spades”.)

Lastly, Gypsy Jayne were a very talented group from Oakville Ontario.  They released a song under the generic name Wildside on a Raw M.E.A.T  CD first.  Then they changed their name and put out a cassette.  This cassette got a lot of car play back in the record store days, and when we had a tape deck in the store I even gave it some store play.  Gypsy Jayne were very much in the mold of Illusions-era Guns N’ Roses. Not terribly original, but their ace in the hole was their classically trained guitarist Johannes Linstead. His talent speaks for itself today, as a nominee for a Juno award and winner of several other prestigious awards.  He has several flamenco albums out today, but to me I’ll always remember him as the shredder in Gypsy Jayne, playing alongside the Axl Rose clone Andy Law.  (The Gypsy Jayne cassette, Alive and Wandering, has an early flamenco piece called “Romanza”!)

The songwriting on this cassette is really excellent for what it is.  Every song is different, but memorable, catchy, and with a distinct direction.  If they had come out a year or two earlier, they could have been as big as L.A. Guns, Cinderella, or any of those bands.

Unfortunately, this cassette was well loved and well worn, and is barely listenable today.  Hey Johannes…any chance of a reissue?