Australia

Sunday Chuckle: Australian Calendars

Here’s a Sunday Chuckle for all our Australian readers.  Enjoy.

 

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READER SPOTLIGHT: Harrison From Down Under

Welcome to the first ever Reader Spotlight at mikeladano.com!  It’s time to turn the mirror on you!

If you enjoy this feature, it might be the first of several.  Be sure to let us know.

There’s a story about how this came to be.  The timeline is as follows:

1997:  Record Store Tales Part 135:  Back in a Tracksuit

  • T-Rev discovers Irish band The Sultans of Ping F.C. and turns them into a local cult phenomenon.

2005:  Getting More Tale #425:  The History of the Holy Grail

2012:  Aaron FINDS THE SULTANS ALBUM and gives it to me for Christmas!

  • And there was much rejoicing.

 

2018:  Reader Harrison from Australia alerts me that there is a 2 CD “deluxe edition” of Casual Sex in the Cineplex, in stock at the Canadian Amazon store.

  • Three left in stock!  Ordered, shipped and delivered — thanks for the tip, Harrison.

In gratitude, I decided to do a Reader Spotlight on Harrison, a pretty cool guy who has now helped me solidify my music collection even further.  Harrison graciously agreed.  We had a chat and I asked him ten questions.  Then he went and added more on his own!

Meet Harrison!


M:  So Harrison, tell us how old you are and where you live, and what you’re doing at school.

H:  I’m eighteen (nineteen in July). I live in Perth, Western Australia and I’m currently at university studying Professional Writing and Economics.

M:  How did you discover heavy metal?

H:  Pure chance, almost. My dad likes Led Zeppelin a lot and my mother likewise with AC/DC, so I guess I kind of always had it in my life but is wasn’t until my uncle passed on his CD collection to my family after digitizing it that I experienced a moment of clarity (to quote LeBrain). Among the many other discs of varying genres was a battered copy of Iron Maiden’s Best of the Beast (2 CD edition but only disc 1 included). By the first chorus of the third song (“Man on the Edge”) I was hooked. That disc got a lot of play thereafter and is single handedly responsible for starting my love of metal.

M:  This helps explain why you love the Blaze era so much!  Was there ever any other music you loved this much?

H: My dad has varied musical tastes and a diverse collection, so I got to experience a wide variety of artists. Before Iron Maiden came along my favourite band was the Electric Light Orchestra

M:  Top five bands — GO!

H: Oh dear, I was dreading this question. Very difficult to do a top five, but here I go anyway.
1. Iron Maiden
2. Black Sabbath
3. Deep Purple
4. Dio
5. Electric Light Orchestra
(Honourable Mentions – Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Blaze, Zeppelin, Slade)

M: You’ve guest reviewed here before and I don’t think you’re done writing reviews. What’s next?

H: Well I’ve got some tales to tell but seeing as you can’t write your memoirs at age 20 that will have to wait until I’m older and (hopefully) wiser. I’m planning for it now though. I enjoy writing and discussing the reviews, so I hope to guest more in the future. I just want to keep them few and far between, to preserve the occasion.

M: Who would win in a street fight: Ozzy or Alice Cooper.

H: Hmm…yes…very deep question…very philosophical. They would never fight though. Ozzy can’t leave his mic stand for more than ten seconds, and Alice is too nice.

But for the sake of the question, Alice would. His head is bigger than a bat’s so he safe, and he once pulled a gun on Elvis. (Although he was promptly shown by Elvis how to deal with an armed man when you are unarmed.)

M: That’s right, Elvis was into Karate. Why the heck do you keep coming back here to read the garbage I post?

H: Firstly, it’s not garbage. Secondly, funny you should ask that, because there’s a bit of a tale involved (there’s a Japanese bonus paragraph if you want). In short, I stumbled upon your 2 CD Best of the Beast review a while back, and I enjoyed it a lot. The personal style and in-depth review was far better than the mediocrity I could scrape up from other sites. I liked it so much that I kept coming back to it (although I did disagree with some points). Eventually I branched out into other Maiden reviews before going the whole hog. It was definitely your writing style that hooked me at the start, followed by your great insights, humour and personality that kept me here.

M: Well thanks!  Speaking of writers:  Heavy Metal OverLOAD, or OverLORD?

H: Overload (which would make a decent Metallica album title).

M: Do you get a lot of concerts down your way?

H: Not really unfortunately. Of the classic rock and metal bands, AC/DC come here often. Sabbath has a couple times (they even filmed a DVD in Melbourne for some reason). Maiden seem to do it mainly for the album tours. While I’m sure we get a decent amount of concerts here, most of them are not by bands I would see (which might have something to do with the fact that most of them are pensioners now).

M: If you want LeBrain readers to know just one thing about you, what would that be? GO!

H: I love The X Factor. I love Virtual XI. And (Shock! Horror!) I love Virtual Lights Strikes Over France.

Dream Lineup:
Bass – Geezer Butler
Lead Guitar -Joe Satriani
Rhythm Guitar – Tony Iommi
Drums – Nicko McBrain
Vocals – James Hetfield
Keyboards – John Paul Jones
Acoustic/Harmony Guitar – Adrian Smith

Stats of Doom:
First album – Iron Maiden – Killers
First Concert – Haven’t been to one yet. Hoping Iron Maiden’s Legacy of the Beast Tour will be the one.
First Vinyl – Iron Maiden – Maiden Japan (notice a theme yet?)
First Bootleg -Iron Maiden – 24th May 1981
First album bought twice – None yet thankfully
Current Collection size – 45 jewel cases/digipaks


Thanks Harrison for taking part!  If you enjoyed this Reader Spotlight, please do let us know in the comments.  You could be next!

REVIEW: The Whitlams – Eternal Nightcap (2000 Canadian version)

Scan_20160513THE WHITLAMS – Eternal Nightcap (2000 Black Yak Canadian version)

I honestly can’t remember who I saw the Whitlams opening for in 2000. I know it was the Center in the Square in Kitchener, so by process of elimination, they were probably opening for Blue Rodeo on their Days In Between tour.*  I actually expected a country band, because I confused the Whitlams with the Wilkinsons.  What I got, much to my delight, was an Australian piano-based pop rock band with witty lyrics and a couple absolutely unforgettable songs.  I like piano rock:  Ben Folds, or Elton John for example.  You can see similarities with both in the Whitlams.

At that time the Whitlams were in Canada promoting Eternal Nightcap, essentially a compilation of selections from their Australian releases.  Having never heard those albums, I don’t know if you would consider this a “best of” or not, but upon listening for the first time, I was clueless that these songs weren’t all from one album.  They sound cohesive.

The opening track “No Aphrodisiac” showcases Tim Freedman on vocals and piano with a melancholy opener.  One of the most impressive things about the Whitlams is their lyrical prowess.  “There’s no aphrodisiac like loneliness,” sings Freedman.  Ain’t it the truth?  It’s “I Make Hamburgers” that has perhaps the wittiest words.  “I make hamburgers, I get all the girls,” sings Freedman, and somehow I believe him in this amusing tale.

Jazz pervades “You Sound Like Louis Burdett” until the pure pop chorus.  “All my friends are fuck-ups, but they’re fun to have around.”  Eternal Nightcap is a diverse album, and the “Charlie” suite (three songs) has a quieter, more serious tone.  I have wondered if these songs are at least partly based on the Whitlams’ late guitarist, Stevie Plunder.  “You’re killing your soul with an audience looking on.”  Plunder died of a suspected suicide.  These are beautiful songs, but lyrically very heavy.  Plunder himself sings “Following My Own Tracks”, a great rock tune that actually reminds me a lot of early Blue Rodeo — the Greg Keelor songs.  Then there is some Beatles-y mellotron on “Melbourne”, a mid-tempo track that I remember them opening with at the Kitchener show.

With such a strong mixture of soft and rocking material, coupled with hard to forget melodies and skilled wordmanship, Eternal Nightcap (the Canadian version anyway) is a pretty easy CD to justify adding to your collection.  Now, to be transparent and honest, I will say that I did own a copy of their next album Torch the Moon, given to me by a co-worker.  I didn’t keep it because there was nothing on it that struck me as memorable like Eternal Nightcap.  Whether or not this CD is all the Whitlams you need, I cannot say.

4.5/5 stars

Scan_20160513 (2)

*Confirmed via the Wikipedias.

REVIEW: Crowded House – Woodface (1991)

This is a special birthday review for my sister who turns “30 something” today!  Happy birthday kid!  By coincidence she got this album for Christmas three days ago…

WOODFACE1CROWDED HOUSE – Woodface (1991 Capitol)

Crowded House remain one of the most critically acclaimed bands of the 80’s and 90’s.  Formed from the ashes of Split Enz, they did two successful albums before Woodface.  Unfortunately the songs Neil Finn wrote for Woodface were rejected by the record company, so he asked his brother Tim (also ex-Split Enz) if he could use some songs they wrote together for a future project.  Tim said OK, and joined Crowded House as an official member to boot.  That partnership was only to last one album, but what an album it was!  It was arguably their most acclaimed record to date.

The packed-to-the-gills 15 track CD commences with “Chocolate Cake”.  The production is incredible on this.  The snare drum has an excellent snap to it.  Neil and Tim harmonize perfectly on this confection of pop perfection.  It’s a piano based jam with melodic hooks galore.  There’s a smoking harmonica solo and cool lyrics, immediately reeling you in.  This tune rocks.  “It’s Only Natural” is a little softer, an acoustic track more like what I was used to before from Crowded House.  It’s an immediate song, a timeless classic.  Neil and Tim’s harmony vocals seal the deal.  Too bad isn’t wasn’t a smash hit single around the world, because it could have been, if it didn’t come out right in the middle of the grunge downturn!

“Fall At Your Feet” may well be the best song here.  You know this one.  If you don’t, all you have to do is play it once and you won’t forget the chorus.  Neil wrote this one alone, but it is a major triumph of songwriting perfection.  The plaintive chorus is one that many singers wish they had written.  It is followed by the upbeat “Tall Trees”, a brief irresistible rocker.  Too bad it’s over in only 2:20!   It’s pretty guitar heavy for Crowded House.  This gives way to the Eastern sitar opening of “Weather With You”, which was the big hit.  The Finn brothers surely have a knack for a chorus.  “Everywhere you go, you always take the weather with you,” and I can’t get it out of my head.  This is a very 90’s sounding hit single.  I’m sure Bono was pissed that he didn’t write it.  He probably would have ruined it, anyway.

A funky vibe introduces “Whispers and Moans”, which took me by surprise.  I like a bit of funky bass every now and again, and then some horns turn it up a notch at the halfway point.  I have to admit, the song was starting to lose me until the horns kicked in!  It grows on you.

The party stops there for now.  The soft brushes on “Four Seasons in One Day” tell us that the next song is a slow one.  “Four Seasons” sounds like a great lost John Lennon composition, with its harpsichord and children’s choir singing in the background.  I’ll single out drummer Paul Hester as an MVP here for his delicate touch, making his 2005 death that much sadder.  The drummer is the foundation, and although “Four Seasons” is an outstanding track in any universe, Hester helps make it that little bit extra special.   “Four Season in One Day” is pure composition and performance excellent, absolutely above the bar.

“There Goes God” combines a funky beat with an exotic riff and lots of harmonica.  It’s definitely a cool mix.  As weird as the song is, it still contains one of those patented Finn/Finn choruses.  Then “Fame Is” has a bombastic sound.  It’s a brief pop rocker, a fast head-nodder to get you out of your seat.  This leads into the gentle strings of “All I Ask”, a smokey slow waltz.  One of the strengths of Woodface is its diversity.   Each song has an idiosyncratic Crowded House sound, but many veer far and wide in many musical directions.  “All I Ask” is unlike any of the previous.

Another great chorus is the centerpiece of “As Sure as I Am”.  Accordion in the background loans it a folksy feel, as do the lyrics about the rhinos going extinct.  (Sad that 23 years later the rhinos are no better off.)   Drummer Paul Hester contributed “Italian Plastic”, an interesting title to say the least.  It’s anchored by cool guitar licks, and more great melodies, as strong as those that the Finns write.

The album closer, “How Will You Go”, is one very familiar to me.  Marillion covered it on their excellent 2001 live album, A Piss-up in a Brewery.  They are acknowledged Finn fans.  I can see why they chose “How Will You Go”, as it gave Steve Hogarth a chance to belt out some killer melodies.  Fantastic song, not a single but shoulda coulda woulda!

But it’s not really the ending, as a joke song called “I’m Still Here” occupies the coveted “hidden track” slot!  Sounds like they’re trying to be The Clash!  Why not?   (Hester wrote this hidden track, too.)

I’m very impressed with Woodface.  It’s easy to listen to, but there’s more there than just pleasant melodies.  There’s vocal brilliance.  There are instrumental passages that are intricately composed and performed.  There are also great lyrics, all topped with perfect production and a cracking drum sound.  Some songs are more memorable than others, but give it time.  Woodface is a grower.

4/5 stars

WOODFACE BACK


 

Marillion’s version of “How Will You Go”:

REVIEW: AC/DC – ’74 Jailbreak (1984)

Welcome back to the Week of EPs! Each day this week, I’ll be checking out a variety of EP releases, both famed and obscure.

MONDAY: Aerosmith – The Other Side (1990)
TUESDAY: Wolfsbane – All Hell’s Breaking Loose Down at Little Kathy Wilson’s Place! (1990)

AC/DC – ’74 Jailbreak (1984 Epic)

As most AC/DC fans are aware, their Australian and American discographies differed greatly in tracklists and cover art.  Australia also got one more record (T.N.T.) than we did.   This amounted to a number of Bon Scott tracks that were left off the original American releases.  It made sense to eventually release them, so in 1984, five tracks were released on the tenth anniversary EP, ’74 Jailbreak.  Of note, none of these songs are actually from 1974.

The track “Jailbreak” itself didn’t become a hit until this compilation was released.  It was originally on 1976’s Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap in Australia.  It definitely sounds from that era, and it’s long been one of my favourites.  I found that little riff irresistible, then and now.  I love Bon Scott’s storytelling lyrics, still cool today.  “Big man lying on the ground, with a hole in his body where his life had been.” And c’mon, you have to love the music video, or you have no sense of fun in your rock!

The next four tracks were all from High Voltage, another favourite album of mine. “You Ain’t Got a Hold on Me” is one of those slinky Bon Scott rockers. I like the spare riff and Angus’ bluesy playing. Uptempo “Show Business” is a wry dig on the business side of rock and roll. “You’re smoking butts, they smoke cigars.” Angus’ playing here is especially tasty as he takes his Gibson SG for a ride. Then “Soul Stripper” takes it to a dirty place. AC/DC return to that slinky territory they used to do so well with Bon. “Soul Stripper” is a highlight among highlights, with those quieter bass-driven verses. “Pulled out a knife and flashed it before me, stuck it in and turned it around.”

A cover of “Baby, Please Don’t Go” closes the EP on a frenetic extended jam. Bon shrieks as if in agony. The band blast away as only one of the greatest pure rock and roll bands can. This is rock and roll 101, your teachers are in class, so pay attention to Mr. Young and Mr. Young!

None of the songs on ’74 Jailbreak are outtake quality. I never fully understood who decided what songs were to be left off American releases and why. Some of these songs were singles in Australia! As mentioned, these are only some of the songs unreleased on American albums. There were more and they too were pretty damn good. They are “Stick Around” and “Love Song” from High Voltage, “R.I.P. (Rock in Peace)” from Dirty Deeds, “Crabsody in Blue” from Let There Be Rock, and “Cold Hearted Man” from Powerage. All these songs can be had on the Backtracks box set today.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Perfect Strangers Live (2013 2LP/2CD/1DVD set)

NEW RELEASE

DEEP PURPLE – Perfect Strangers Live (2013 Eagle Vision 2LP/2CD/1DVD deluxe edition)

Perfect Strangers Live, a new 2013 release of a 1984 recording in Sydney, proves many things but one of them is this:  The proverbial “vaults” must be an endless place where this band is concerned.  Year after year newly released archival recordings hit the shelves, all worthy of your hard-earned music budget dollars.  Perfect Strangers Live is available in multiple formats, but I chose to go with the deluxe 180 gram vinyl set, complete with 2 CD and single DVD versions included.  I bought this via the Deep Purple Appreciation Society, who I especially appreciated this time.  I ordered the set and it got lost in the mail.  After contacting Ann directly she posted another one right off to me which arrived safely to my delight.

IMG_20140217_082459It’s a beautiful beast of a package.  The heavy vinyl gives the set real heft, but it’s also a triple gatefold sleeve as well.  If you loved the reunion era of Deep Purple Mk II then some version of this set will be an obvious must for you.  You can buy it separately as a 2 CD set, a DVD, a 3 disc set, or go hogwild like I did with the vinyl deluxe set.  Hell if you’re really nuts for the band there’s a 3 LP, 2 CD Japanese version with extra goodies.   As to the version I own, the only disappointment comes in the way the CDs and DVD are housed in the set.  I hate spending a lot of money on a package that will absolutely scratch your CDs.  No matter how careful you are, something will get scratched and that’s a bummer.  So I ripped the CDs and put them away for good.

The music contained within is 100% worth your money and probably the best documentation of this era of Deep Purple.  There are other collections out there, most notably the 1985 recording In the Absence of Pink (Knebworth).  There was also the Highway Stars bootleg contained within the Bootleg Series box set.  This one tops the rest sonically.  The recording and mix are excellent.  You could easily mistake it sonically for a modern recording.  Everything is audible, including Gillan’s oft-buried congas.

Speaking of Gillan, the man was in absolutely stunning shape.  I don’t know why the band used backing tapes (quite obviously) during the screams on “Child In Time”.  Gillan’s live screams didn’t need the boost.  Somehow he keeps it going all the way to the 12 minute closer “Smoke on the Water”.  Gillan had just finished his stint with Black Sabbath, but he sounds infinitely better here than on any live recording I’ve heard with Black Sabbath.

It’s hard to pick a single MVP on Perfect Strangers Live, such is the dynamic of Deep Purple when firing on all five cylinders.  Certainly Ritchie Blackmore is a delight, projecting intensity and playfulness at every turn.  During “Strange Kind of Woman”, Blackmore treats the Australians to “Waltzing Matilda”.   On “Under the Gun”, he’s mesmerizing as he tortures his Fender.  Ritchie’s solo that closes a 15 minute “Space Truckin'” is among the most electrifying moments you will hear.  Jon Lord is as wonderful as ever on that same song, and of course “Child In Time”.  Not to go without mention are Glover and Paice.  Ian Paice is the little engine that would not quit; Roger Glover the anchor.

IMG_20140217_082623

Also important to mention are the “new” songs.  Deep Purple played more than half of their new LP including both singles:  “Knockin’ On Your Back Door”, “Perfect Strangers”, “Nobody’s Home”, “Under the Gun” and “A Gypsy’s Kiss” (preceded by a bluesy Blackmore jam).  Purple rarely played so much off Perfect Strangers at one time, and some of these versions are just scorching!  “Nobody’s Home”, possibly “Under the Gun” too, are superior to the album versions…even when Gillan forgets the words. (That’s kind of my favourite part.)

As for the DVD, it too looks and sounds amazing.  I don’t know what else is out there video-wise from this period but I haven’t seen anything better than this.   You know Blackmore and cameras, he’s often got his side to the camera, or he turns away just as they turn to him.  That’s the man in black, that’s the enigma.  It’s a great DVD, although Lord and Paice are often buried behind their instruments.  Lord goes from keyboard to keyboard, extracting different sounds.

The cherry on top is a 20+ minute tour documentary.  It’s a rare look at a time when Deep Purple was more or less getting along as well as they ever would!

I haven’t played the vinyl.  I haven’t decided if I will.  Let me know if you care enough for me to review the vinyl, and I’ll consider it as a possibility.  I’ll be honest, after struggling to get the records back in the sleeve after taking the photos for this review, I’m not eager to take them out again.

4.5/5 stars

More PURPLE at mikeladano.com:

DEEP PURPLE – “Above and Beyond” (CD and 7″ singles, Edel)
DEEP PURPLE – ”All the Time in the World” (2013 Edel single)
DEEP PURPLE – The Battle Rages On… (1993 BMG)
DEEP PURPLE – Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD set)
DEEP PURPLE – Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition)
DEEP PURPLE – Deep Purple (1969 EMI, 2000 reissue)
DEEP PURPLE – Inglewood (2002 Purple Records/Sonic Zoom)
DEEP PURPLE – Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD box set, 2002)
DEEP PURPLE – Machine Head (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition + vinyl + In Concert ’72 vinyl)
DEEP PURPLE – NOW What?! (2013 edel)
DEEP PURPLE – Perks and Tit (2003 Purple Records/Sonic Zoom)
DEEP PURPLE – Power House (1977 Warner Bros, Japanese import)
DEEP PURPLE – Rapture of the Deep (2 CD special edition)
DEEP PURPLE – Shades 1968-1998 (4 CD Rhino 1999 box set)
DEEP PURPLE – Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition)

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

REVIEW: Metallica – Six Feet Down Under Part II

Yesterday we examined Part I of the Six Feet Down Under EPs.  Click here if you missed it,

METALLICA – Six Feet Down Under Part II (2010 Universal)

Unlike the first Six Feet Down Under disc, Part II was not taken from bootleg sources. The fidelity here is much better, making this an immediately more enjoyable listen. Whereas the first EP released Australian Metallica recordings as far as back the Justice days, this EP was taken solely from Metallica’s most recent Aussie tour.

The track list is quite good:  “Blackened”, “Lightning”, “Horsemen”, “Sanitarium”, “Puppets”, “Justice” (which was also on the first EP), “Fade to Black” and “Damage Inc.”  How could you possibly go wrong?  I found “The Four Horsemen”, performed in breakneck, heavy delivery to be the highlight.

TALLICA SIX FEET_0005You’ll notice all the songs are oldies.  They are all over 20 years old, with nothing from the Black album or beyond. That’s because these tracks were selected for release by the fans!  The fans have spoken, and this is the Metallica EP they wanted to buy. Personally, I prefer a more varied lineup. While I’m sick to death of a lot of the Black and Load album material, it would have been nice to get some recent stuff from Death Magnetic too.

The performances are, as expected, pretty sloppy at times. Hey, it’s Metallica.  We all know Lars is a sloppy drummer.  I get it.  Still, the energy and adrenaline is there, and that’s what makes a Metallica concert special. Since these tracks were pulled from several concerts in Australia and New Zealand, you have to assume the band picked the versions that they liked best.

Packaging wise, this one lacks the little liner notes. However, the cool part is, it comes in a double CD digipack designed to house both Part I and Part II in the same case. Remember back in the early 90’s, when bands would do that with CD singles? I love this little retro touch.

My only complaint once again is the price. Like the last EP, this is not cheap. You have to remember this was released for Australians in Australia. Lots of bands do exclusive releases for certain territories all the time, it’s not a Lars cash grab, and I’m sure most of the money you’ll pay goes straight to the retailers and importers. If you’re a devoted fan you’ll pick this up, and if you’re a resourceful one you’ll figure out how to get it at a reasonable price. If not, there’s lots of live Metallica available out there for peanuts.

I find these two releases (plus a third EP from 2010, Live at Grimy’s which I own on 10″ vinyl) to be a really cool retro treat. Some of us still like to buy CDs and limited editions. That’s who this stuff is for, and I’m really happy Metallica remember their roots as rock fans and collectors themselves.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Metallica – Six Feet Down Under EP

First of a two-part Australian Metallica EP extravaganza!  And check out KamerTunesBlog for an awesome Metallica discography series

METALLICA – Six Feet Down Under EP (2010 Universal)

This Metallica EP for Australia only, Six Feet Down Under, will be of limited interest to casual fans. The EP (the first of two for Australia) is a decent tour souvenir for those fans, but for fans in Canada or elsewhere who will have to pay much higher prices, this is mostly just a collectible.  The sound quality varies wildly.   The tracks were selected as songs that were not often (or ever) released as live B-sides before.

TALLICA SIX FEET_0003The oldest tunes from ’89 (“Justice” and “Beholder”) are from audience bootleg sources, and are very rough. I have heard much better bootlegs.  The idea was to give fans rare tracks recorded in Australia, so this really is something geared towards collectors.  I’s hard to critique the tunes beyond sound quality, because it’s not like you can really discern bass parts or cymbals and so on.

The ’93 tunes are “Through The Never” (extremely sloppy, especially on the rhythm guitar) and “The Unforgiven”. These songs sound a lot better. “The Unforgiven” in particular is a very nice version. Metallica had started recording their shows via soundboard by now.

Then we jump ahead to the ReLoad tour. Personally, I really liked Load, but I wasn’t very hot on ReLoad. I was still excited to hear live versions of “Low Man’s Lyric” and “Devil’s Dance”, but quite frankly, they sound uninspired.

From 2004 we have a really cool live version of “Frantic”, one of the best tunes from St. Anger. Whether you like it or not will depend on how you feel about St. Anger. I liked this version. Wisely, Metallica decided to include only one St. Anger tune. The other tune from 2004 is “Fight Fire With Fire” which is, once again, very sloppy. But hey, at least you know it’s live.

There are liner notes included as per most Metallica singles and EPs. This just explains the purpose of the EP and the sources of each track.  Sounds like something you’d be into? Then go for it. If you’re not intrigued, don’t plop down the big bucks if you’re buying it on import.  I will say that Metallica aren’t ripping the fans off; this “EP” is 52 minutes long.  By way of comparison, Diver Down by Van Halen is 28 minutes.

3/5 stars

Come back tomorrow for a look at Six Feet Down Under Part II.

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD)

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DEEP PURPLE – Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (2000 Thames Thompson, Australia only, 12 CD set)

There are two (!) 12 CD Deep Purple bootleg collections; this is the first and best of them.  Although Deep Purple’s career is chock full of live albums chronicling this period, this set does feature many treats that are hard to find or not available on official live albums.  These really are bootlegs; the band decided to release their own versions of pre-existing audience bootleg albums!  All artwork, errors included, are copied from the original bootleg releases.

Before you get too excited I will state right off the bat:  There’s no Deep Purple Mk V or VI.  No Joe Lynn Turner, or Joe Satriani.  There is, however, a show from 1995 with Steve Morse, previewing tracks from the yet-to-be recorded Purpendicular album.  This transitional period is very cool.  You get to hear Morse perform “Anyone’s Daughter”, which was dropped from the set not long after.  Since Morse and Blackmore’s styles are vastly different, it’s a cool take on a track that you don’t hear often as it is.  In addition, you’ll hear Morse reinvent “Woman From Tokyo” on a bootleg from 2000.

BOOTLEGS FRONTThe Bootleg Series also contains my favourite version of “The Battle Rages On” ever released.  1995, Ft. Lauderdale Florida, Ian Gillan tore the roof off with that song.  In my mind I always imagined his screams directed towards Blackmore, even though he was probably furthest from Gillan’s mind.  It’s a magical version, you can hear the electricity and the emotion.  Just awesome.

Also a treat is a revisiting of the old In Rock classic, “Into the Fire” from 2000.  This version crushes!  Unfortunately, a stiff and slow version of “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” follows it.  Deep Purple are that kind of band, usually they just kill it.  But their history does contain rare stumbles, and this take of “Sometimes I Feel Like Screaming” is nothing stacked up against other versions available.  On the other hand, Purple just smoke the Abandon track “’69” immediately afterwards!  They extend this concise rocker to include an extended jam with a nod and wink to “Paint It, Black”.

Other highlights:  Blackmore’s solo spot “Difficult to Cure”.  Rarely heard 80’s-era tracks such as “Under the Gun”, “A Gypsy’s Kiss”, “Nobody’s Home”, “The Unwritten Law”, “Bad Attitude”, “Hard Lovin’ Woman”, and “Dead or Alive”.  You can’t buy a live version of “The Unwritten Law” anywhere else.  “Fools”, a rarely played track from Fireball, simply crushes.  Holy Ian Paice, Batman!  Steve puts his own slant on the guitar part in “Fools”, but it is his solo spot on “Cascades” that is truly intoxicating.

These being bootlegs, don’t expect sound quality or packaging or liner notes, unfortunately.  The sound quality does improve as you go from the oldest discs to the most recent.   The oldest shows have a lot of crowd noise, and poor sounding drums.  By the time you get the Japan 2000 show, things sound much better although can still stray towards muddy at times.  Packaging-wise, what you see is what you get:  A box, six jewel cases, front covers and back covers.

This was an Australia-only release.  I have no idea what it’s worth today.  I haven’t seen one in years.

4/5 stars

Bootlegs:

Highway Stars (Adelaide Australia, 11/30/1984)

Third Night (Sweden, 06/16/1985)

Hungary Days (Budapest Hungary, 01/28/1987)

In Your Trousers (Stockholm Sweden, 11/13/1993)

Purple Sunshine (Ft. Lauderdale Florida, 03/04/1995)

Made In Japan 2000 (Osaka Japan 04/01/2000)

I decided that there’s no point rating these bootlegs individually.  For one, it’s a set, and when it came down to splitting hairs, I like them equally.  And that speaks volumes as to the consistency of this band.