bob marley

#761: Gimme Some Reggae!

GETTING MORE TALE #761: Gimme Some Reggae!

Like many things, I was first exposed to reggae music as a child.  And like many things I was exposed to as a child, Catholic school did not approve!

It was grade six, the same year I discovered Quiet Riot and Van Halen.  The ironic thing was first hearing reggae in class.  There was a film we were watching, the details of which are now lost.  Most likely religious in nature.  The music might not even have been specifically reggae.  It was Caribbean music of some sort, and I remember steel drums, but what I remember most was the teacher’s comment.  A few kids mentioned that they liked the music in the film (I was one).   The teacher responded, “The music was fine, but that kind of music is usually about drugs.”

She kind of put a wet blanket over it.  I felt deflated.

At home, I asked my mom if this was true.  “Some is,” she said.  “Some.”  The door was left wide open.  My mom was good to me.

The following school year, MuchMusic debuted on Canadian television.  It began as a pay TV channel, but we had it as part of a package including movie and sports channels.  We had to talk our parents into getting it, but the fact that there was a package with sports made it easier.  My mom could watch more Blue Jays, at least when my sister and I weren’t hogging the TV with music videos.

In 1984, MuchMusic played music videos and nothing but.  Now it’s the opposite.  In 1984, there weren’t many music videos to choose from.  There are two specific videos that I remember Much playing in regular rotation right from the beginning.  They were “Voodoo Chile” by Jimi Hendrix and “Buffalo Soldier” by Bob Marley.  I didn’t care for Jimi (way too advanced for my age) but I loved Marley.  “Buffalo Soldier” clearly had nothing to do with drugs.  And that hair!  I couldn’t figure out dreadlocks.  What were they?  How did they do make them?  Dreadlocks looked cool, in an alien way.  Novel and interesting.  My sister and I loved watching Bob Marley videos on Much.  He was one of the few artists we actually agreed on.  I hated her Corey Hart and she hated my W.A.S.P.!

She and I were always in tune with each other on reggae.  There are no other genres of music that we agree so much on.  In the 90s, we rocked it to Inner Circle.  Like everyone else on the planet, we discovered them via Cops.  My dad watched Cops a lot!  He loved that stupid show and it became a Saturday night ritual.  We’d play a game where we’d point out any time a male was not wearing a shirt.  When “Bad Boys” came on at the beginning, my sister would hit that floor and dance!  And she did the same at Bob Schipper’s wedding, where she requested the DJ play that song.  We tore up the floor for that song, and avoided dancing completely otherwise.  Some may forget this, but Inner Circle had more than just one hit.  “Sweat” is actually a way better song than “Bad Boys”.

She had the cassette single for “Bad Boys” and in the summer at the cottage, we’d be cruising with my old buddy Peter in his car.  She always wanted him to blast her tape of “Bad Boys” any time we were stopped at a red light on the main drag.

I didn’t buy any Bob Marley until I was in my 20s.  Until that point, I adopted a pretty strict “metal only” policy to my music collecting.  There were few exceptions.  Kim Mitchell wasn’t metal, but he’s still firmly in the rock camp, occupying a quirky Zappa-esque corner to himself.  The kind of thing that some more adventuring metal heads were into.  The 1990s forced me to loosen my “metal only” policy.  When I began at the Record Store, I befriended Aaron and acquired my first Marley album from him.  It was the deluxe edition of Catch A Fire.  Go big or go home.

There was a kid at work, Matty K, who was way, way, way into reggae and all the associated activities.  He was whiter than white, but damn he sure knew his rap and reggae.  I began to enjoy Snoop Dogg because of him.  At night before closing the store, he always liked to play one of DMX’s prayers.  Ironically, of course.   It is reggae music that I always think of when I think of Matty K.  Listening to Marley and Peter Tosh at the store.  One of the few things we agreed on musically.

When I need something lighter, particularly for summer drives, I have a lot of genres to choose from.  Marley’s One Love compilation usually does the job.  I find it palatable to just about any passenger.  It raises the spirits and raises the roof!

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#595: Fighting for Kenner and Ivy

GETTING MORE TALE #595: Fighting for Kenner and Ivy

Sorry for the lack of musical content in this instalment of Getting More Tale, usually a series of stories about music.  In lieu of a music story, I’ll include my Top Five Tracks About Fighting for a Good Cause at the end!

 


Our friend Kenner Fee has not given up the fight, so neither will we.

Kenner has Autism. And Ivy is a Black Lab. Ivy calms Kenner’s anxieties and helps him cope with school and socializing. Outside of school, the two are inseparable. At school however, Ivy isn’t allowed to be with Kenner. The Waterloo Catholic District School Board says that Kenner doesn’t need a service dog. Kenner’s doctors, psychologists, therapists, parents and the Lions Foundation say otherwise.

Kenner’s parents, Craig and Amy. have been fighting with the WCDSB for over three years to get them to allow Ivy to attend school with Kenner at St. Kateri Catholic Elementary School in Kitchener. The fight has now escalated to the Ontario Human Rights Commission, where the Fee’s have had to invest thousands of dollars into lawyers and their charges, out of pocket. While the WCDSB has, what seems to be, unlimited taxpayer resources to pay for their lawyers.

Kenner was denied his basic human right to have his service dog in class with him.  Allow me to share a little bit about what I know of Kenner, because I see quite a few people are misinformed about this situation.

Ivy is not a therapy dog, as some sources have stated.  She is a service dog, trained and matched by the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides.  Some bystanders have asked, “What about kids who are afraid of dogs?”  An excellent question, and I think Kenner’s supporters have offered a lot of great suggestions about that.  The truth is, if you have ever met a service dog, you know that they basically just…lay there!  That’s part of the training.  Second, having a service dog in a school would be a rare and valuable teaching experience.  I was terrified of dogs as a kid.  I’d run and they’d give chase!  Ivy would not do that, because she is a service dog.  If I had the chance to meet a dog like Ivy as a kid, it really would have helped me get over my fear of dogs earlier.

Another legitimate question has been about kids with allergies.  Supporters have suggested solutions to these problems too.  None of them are unsolvable.  I’m terribly allergic myself.  If there happens to be only one class for Kenner’s grade, make sure the classroom doesn’t have carpet flooring, and keep Kenner on the opposite side of the room as any kids with allergies.  Ensure that teachers have a supply of each child’s allergy medication — Reactine, Visine, whatever.  Why is every other child’s needs more important than Kenner’s?  Allergies are real, but so is autism.  And the results Kenner has seen because of Ivy are extraordinary.  I know a little bit more about the situation than I can talk about, but I can say this.

I’ve seen Kenner, with Ivy at his side, give an amazing speech in front of hundreds of adults.  I couldn’t believe it.  Seeing that knocked me out; he made me see what potential can be unlocked.  He’s a gifted young man.  He deserves to be able to go to school and be at his best.  The Catholic school board keeps talking about how they assess each kid on a case by case basis.  It is interesting to note that they don’t have any service dogs in any of their schools in Ontario.  A child in Burlington is currently fighting the same battle as Kenner Fee, for the same reason.  He too has autism.  I wonder if the Catholic School Board is fighting this so hard simply because it’s easier than doing the work to accommodate. Currently, the Board is denying Kenner his basic right to fulfill his potential in school.  They say he gets good grades without Ivy.  That may be true, but he is truly exceptional when he is with her.  I have seen this and  I admire the little guy.

This is an expensive fight.  A GoFundMe page has been set up.

We’re asking the public to join us in raising  funds to help the Fee’s offset a fraction of the legal expenses they’ve personally incurred throughout the Human Rights Tribunal.  Anything raised over our target amount will be donated to the Lions Foundation of Canada Dog Guides, where Ivy was obtained.

Even if you can’t donate, every comment helps!  I know for a fact that Kenner is blown away by the amount of support he’s seen.  “I didn’t know so many people cared about me!” he said after a recent service dog protest.  He loves to know he has support so feel free to leave a comment, and we’ll make sure his parents get them!

#KennerAndIvy #WeStandWithKennerAndIvy #IStandWithKennerAndIvy

 


Top Five Tracks About Fighting for a Good Cause

5. Triumph – “Fight the Good Fight”

4. Warrior – “Fighting for the Earth”

3. Motley Crue – “Fight for Your Rights”

2. Bob Marley – “Get Up Stand Up”

1. Tom Petty – “I Won’t Back Down”

 

In the top photo there is a service dog and a Party Dog.  Can you tell which is which?

 

 

#488: Almost Cut My Hair

GETTING MORE TALE #488: Almost Cut My Hair

Whatever musical subculture you come from, if it has a uniform, then no doubt hair style is a part of that uniform.

Nowhere has this been exemplified better than the classic mohawk made famous by 1970’s punk rockers.  Mr. T made it mainstream in the 80’s, rendering the punk shock value of it dead.  On to the next thing!  How about a a 1″ hole in your earlobe to keep it edgy?  Hair cuts and music have a much longer association than that, of course.  The Beatles were considered rough and shaggy for their hair that COVERED THEIR EARS!  Can you imagine?  On the other side of the pond, Elvis was popularizing the greaser look.  All over the world, kids tried to look like these rebellious rabble-rousers.

The late Eric Carr, who served as Kiss’ drummer from 1982 until his passing in 1991, told stories of how he desperately tried to straighten his hair to look like a Beatle.  He’d put pantyhose on his head overnight to try and get the curls out.  Meanwhile, there are photos of young Gene Simmons with bangs down to his eyebrows and Paul Stanley with hair covering his ears.  (Paul had a second motivation — one of his ears is deformed and he was eager to hide it.)

In America, another hairstyle was emerging, and it was strongly related to the funk, r&b and disco scenes:  the Afro.  It is the only hairstyle I am aware of that is probably measured in diameter, not length.  In the 1960’s, the Afro was associated with the ripple effect emanating from the civil rights movement.  Today it is a classic hairstyle, immediately adding strength and character to almost any face that it frames.  The Afro is a beautiful thing, truly.

Billy Preston "the Fifth Beatle"

Billy Preston “the Fifth Beatle”

Almost as beautiful are the dreadlocks.  In many cultures, dreadlocks are sacred.  The association of dreadlocks with modern music is due to the emergence of Reggae.  Rastafari (part of the Abrahamic family of religions) emerged in Jamaica in the 1930’s.  Who in the whole genre of Reggae was more famous than Bob Marley?  Marley was Rastafari, and as his musical fame grew, so did his locks.  As far as pop culture is concerned, Marley is an icon, and the silhouette of his dreadlocked head is known all over the world.

I think somebody must have just invented hairspray at the beginning of the 1980’s.  That’s the best explanation that I can provide for what happened next.  Everybody lost their mind, and instead of measuring their hair in length or even diameter, they began to measure it in height.  It also began to take on bizarre shapes.  Like the wings of Mike Score, from the obvious example A Flock of Seagulls.  Cultures clashed.  Culture Club, a New Wave band, featured a cross dressing lead singer with braided hair!  It was glam meets Rasta in all the wrong ways.  Boy George today is happily bald.  Meanwhile, across the pond in suburban New Jersey, Jon Bon Jovi was attempting to break the 12″ height record.

The hairstyle closest to my heart is the one most associated with rock music:  the classic long-hair.  It’s the perfect hair in almost every way.  You can tie it back for the “I mean business” look, or just to keep it out of the way.  When you need to unleash the rock fury, long hair is superior.  The best part is, after a good solid thrash around, long hair usually looks better than it did before!  Only dreadlocks can rival classic long hair for headbanging money-shot images.

I never liked getting haircuts in the first place, but when I started getting interested in music in the early 80’s, it seemed as good a reason as any to stop getting them.  Besides, one kid at school named Ian used to chide me that I “didn’t look like a rocker” with my lame short hair.  I wanted so bad to look cool like a rocker.  Sure, there were some cool short haired rockers, like Rick Neilson, Alex Van Halen and Alec John Such, but they were a vast, sometimes teased, minority.  My hair started to grow down past my neck.  This caused clashes with my dad like you would not believe.  You thought Darren McGavin made for some foul language in A Christmas Story?  My dad can eat Darren McGavin for breakfast and ask for seconds.  My dad invented many of his own swears.  He even started singing in swears!  One of his biggest hit songs with us kids was always “Shittily, Shittily, La La La”.  And that is exactly how the lyrics went.  Over and over!  One day, he was singing “Shittily, Shittily, La La La” in public again.  He must have been overheard, because the next thing that happened was a Jehovah’s Witness approached him.  She handed him a Watchtower magazine, and told him, “I think you really need this.”  But I digress.  You can imagine how the hair battles in our house ended.  Usually with us not speaking to each other for the next three days.

Eric Brittingham

Eric Brittingham

That’s not due to my dad, mind you.  It’s due to me being a stubborn little shit.  To be fair, I learned the “stop speaking to your parents” schtick from my best friend Bob who frequently stopped speaking to his mother.  Bob too was attempting to grow long hair.  His goal at that time was to be a redhead version of Eric Brittingham from Cinderella during the Long Cold Winter era.  He thought that would have looked awesome.  It probably would have, but eventually he had to get a job and cut it.  He went with a classic crew cut, and a little bit of a fringe on the back:  the mullet.  This is what I ended up with as well, because instead of growing over my ears, my hair simply began curling and going back up again!  My dad hated this but more importantly, wanted me to be employable.  One day he came home to tell me that the manager of the nearby grocery store wanted to speak with me about a job opportunity.  This I was not going to be stubborn about, so I went to the barber, cut it all off, and went in for a brief interview.  I started that week.

The teasing at school was inevitable.  Most of those kids had never seen me without some form of attempted mullet.  The drastic sudden change also made my ears look (in my eyes) freaking huge.  To me, I looked like another kid in our school named “Trophy”.  Trophy was called that because his ears stuck out so far they made his head look like a big trophy.  I was hideous!  I was Samson without his locks.  I had nothing.  I attempted to grow a moustache.  This was abandoned in less than a week when a girl at the grocery store that I liked named Kathleen recommended that I lose the ‘stache.  It was hopeless.  I felt…naked.

When grunge hit the ground running in the early 90’s, rockers one by one began to shed their locks.  Many ladies of the 80’s fainted when Jon Bon Jovi went short in 1993 for Keep the Faith.  Three years later, some thrash acolytes nearly had heart failure when not one, not two, not three, but all four members of Metallica included James Fucking Hetfield cut their hair short!  The game was over.  While many rockers such as Ozzy, Alice, and Nikki elected to keep their hair, they were overshadowed by the folks who let it go:  David Lee Roth, Edward Van Halen, Tommy Lee, Paul Stanley (notably for Phantom of the Opera), pretty much all of Aerosmith except for Tyler and Perry….There were no magazine headlines that said “Alice Cooper Keeps His Hair Long”.  But there were headlines to the effect of “The World is Ending — Jon Bon Has Cut His Curls!”

As rockers age, so do our styles.  I thought Jon Lord looked very distinguished, with his silvery hair in a ponytail when he got older.  Some of us have cut our hair, some of us have lost our hair.  Some of us dye it and some of us shave it.  In this day and age, it is very difficult to tell one’s musical affiliation by hairstyle alone.  You can have long hair and be a DJ spinning samples on a laptop.  A guy shredding lead electric guitar is just as likely to have short hair as long.  Over there, that metal band has a bunch of people with dreadlocks, and that rap group does too!  Mohawk with dreadlocks?  Hello Doug Pinnick from King’s X!  Sub-cultures continue to clash in ways both new and retro, and as with any style, music will always have a part in it.

1993, return of the long hair.

 

GUEST SHOT! #434: The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt

A sequel to Record Store Tales Part 111: The Girl in the Sam Roberts Shirt.

Guest Shot by Mrs. LeBrain

GETTING MORE TALES #434: The Man in the Bob Marley Shirt

10 years ago was a very interesting part of my life.  I had been out of college for a few years, and took a promotion at a company that I had been working at for some time.  I was single and enjoying my life as a woman in her mid-twenties doing a lot of volunteering and making great friends.  A lot of my friends from earlier years were getting married and having kids, but that didn’t seem like a part of my future at that time.  Until September, 18th.

I had made a friend through the world of social media who lived an hour down the highway in Kitchener Ontario.  We were spending a lot of time using Messenger to chat and occasional phone calls on land lines.  One day this friend was having a bit of a bad day.  He had been on a first date the day before with a woman he found on the internet who he described as creepy.  He was having a bad day at the job he no longer enjoyed.  In our chats I invited him to make the drive up the highway to Bramalea Ontario.  He accepted and we made plans for him to pick me up at my family home.

He told me that he wanted a laid back evening with a walk in a park.  I told him that I could handle that, but in actuality, I was scared shitless.  I had never gone on a single date with anyone from the World Wide Web.  I had heard horror stories of serial killers and this guy wanted to walk in parks on a Sunday night.  Not the smartest of ideas, but for some reason I went with it.  Something was telling me that things were going to be okay.

When he arrived at the house in his green neon I was outside having a cigarette.  I approached the car and opened the door.  Inside was a very cute guy in a grey Bob Marley t-shirt and a blue sweater.  Very cute.  We drove around for a bit turning on a lot of streets that started with the letter A so I could get him a bit lost (Bramalea is divided into ‘sections’ where streets are all named with the same first letter after UK communities – I figured if he was a serial killer, I could out run him and call 911, telling the police there was a green neon, lost somewhere on Aberdeen.

We took a walk into the park and played on some swings before making our way down to a creek to talk about our lives.  He told me that he was starving and saw a Wendy’s.  He asked if we could grab a burger there.  For all burger aficionados, Wendy’s is at the bottom of the totem poll.  I told him there was a much better burger not too far away.  We got back in the car and drove to Sonny’s, a drive in burger joint around since the 60’s.  We ordered two hamburgers with ‘funky onions’ (a fried onion with paprika seasoning) and other toppings too our likings.  We shared a large poutine and talked a lot on the hard to get picnic table.  (The joint is so busy, you usually can’t sit – a picnic table is a prime piece of drive in real estate).  We talked so much, that we didn’t even give our burgers a try.  We left them in their wrappers to eat at a later time.

After our first dinner, we decided to go to another park to hang out some more.  I directed him to Gage Park in Brampton Ontario.  This is more of a romantic park that girls like to hang out in.  We walked around the park, talking for a while, and then moved to a knoll of grass to sit and do more talking.  After a few minutes, the man in the Bob Marley t-shirt leaned in and gave me our first kiss.  It was ground-breaking.  All bets were off.

After a bit more time of kissing in the park, Bob Marley boy realized that he needed to get home because of an early work start.  He drove me home, kissed me one more time in the car and drove back to his home in Kitchener.  I entered the house to my half-asleep mother.  She asked me how my date went.  I sat on the reclining chair next to her and told her that I met the man I was going to marry.

She stood up, looked at me and said “You’re just like your father”and went to bed.  That was September 18th in a nutshell.

I love you LeBrain.

MARLEY

*  In 1976, Jen’s father was in a Florida hotel.  He saw Jen’s mother for the first time in the lobby and went to the phone where he called his best friend and said “Graham, I just saw the girl I’m going to marry.  Now I just have to figure out her first name.”

GUEST SHOT: 30 Albums that Uncle Meat Thinks You Should Visit (Or Re-Visit) Part 2

Missed part 1? Click here.

Here’s part 2 of 3 – 30 albums essential to Meat’s being, that should be essential to yours, too!  So, without anymore preamble, I’ll leave you with Uncle Meat, as he discusses 10 more albums, in alphabetical order by title, that you need to visit (or re-visit).

 

HIGH TENSION WIRES  –  STEVE MORSE (1989)

Simply put, Steve Morse is my favorite musician of all time.  I have had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Morse a total of 6 times when you combine The Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple and The Steve Morse Band.  Unlike the releases of some of his contemporaries, High Tension Wires is not your typical shredder album.  Oh it shreds alright, but Steve Morse is much more than a trickster.  There are beautiful compositions, unforgettable solos and some just plain ol’ rocking too.  Included is the link to a live version of a track perfectly named “Tumeni Notes”.  For more examples of the greatness of Steve Morse, introduce some Dixie Dregs into your collection.  You can thank me later.

 

HOT HOUSE  –  BRUCE HORNSBY (1995)

When Bruce Hornsby said goodbye to The Range, he immediately said hello with Harbor Lights, a heavily jazz-infused turn that completely changed the music world’s perception of him.  Hot House sees Hornsby taking that one step further.  The album’s cover speaks a thousand words.  It is a painting of an imagined band session between Bluegrass legend Bill Munroe and Jazz legend Charlie Parker. Nuff’ said there.  This recording contains many musical giants including Pat Metheny, Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck and Chaka Khan.   Hot House is very addictive.  I know most of the words off by heart on this record.  Hopefully someday you will too.

JEFF BECK GROUP  –  JEFF BECK GROUP (1972)

This album definitely falls under the underappreciated category.  Sometimes known as  The Orange Album, Beck’s playing has never been better on this collection of original compositions and covers.  I would call this more of a Soul album than anything.  The incredible vocals of Bobby Tench seem to highlight this record at times, as you will see on the live performance of “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You” I have included for this entry.   Also worth noting, this album is one of the first recordings of the late Cozy Powell’s career.  The guitar work alone on “Definitely, Maybe” is enough reason itself to seek this record out.  Perhaps a rock n’ roll legend’s best work.

JOHN PRINE  –  JOHN PRINE (1971)

I actually discovered the music of John Prine while working at the same record store chain that Mr. Ladano speaks of in this blog.  There is no one quite like John Prine.  Some artists write great songs.  Some artists write great lyrics.  Only a select few truly do both this well.  There is no doubt that John Prine’s self-titled album contains some of the best lyrics ever written.  “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes.  Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose?”  That is just brilliant shit.  “You may see me tonight with an Illegal Smile.  It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while”.  I have said this many times and I am still saying it now.  John Prine is THE best lyric writer …. Ever.  Fuck Bob Dylan.  Yeah, I said it.

 

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON  –  KRIS KRISTOFFERSON (1970)

For the sake of alphabetical order by album, this Kristofferson follows the John Prine album on this list.  Really it should be the other way around.  While I stand by my earlier praise of Prine lyrics, I would certainly listen to the argument that there wouldn’t be a John Prine without Kris Kristofferson.  The songs on this album show a huge diversity and a sense of patience that just makes him so cool.  “Best Of All Possible Worlds” is just insanely-good storytelling and “Me and Bobby McGee” became a mega-smash for Janis Joplin.  Of all the great concerts I have seen, watching Kris Kristofferson and a guitar for two hours in 2006 will always be one of the best concerts I will ever see.  The true greats just need to show up.

LEGALIZE IT  –  PETER TOSH (1976)

After being a key member of Bob Marley & The Wailers for years, Peter Tosh embarked on a solo career.   On his first solo release, Legalize It, I personally believe Tosh recorded the greatest Reggae album of all time.  Fuck Bob Marley.  Yeah, I said it. (Wait why am I so hostile? Ha.)  Remember that one of Marley’s biggest hits “Get Up Stand Up” was co-written with Peter Tosh.  I love this album from beginning to end, and the album’s cover remains a visual anthem for Marijuana activists everywhere.  Sadly, Peter Tosh was taken from us when he was shot in the head during a home robbery.  Rastafarian music at its finest.

LITTLE EARTHQUAKES  –  TORI AMOS (1992)

There is only one way to put it.  During the spring of 1994 I became a literal disciple of Tori Amos.  By the end of 1996 I had seen her live 7 times.  Several of them in 2nd or 3rd row center seats, since this was back when you could actually wait all night for tickets and be rewarded for it.  This album spoke to me in a way no other album has, or really could.  Frustration with women, with Christianity and with life, I didn’t want to hear about hope in the horizon.  I obviously needed to experience the frustration of someone who understood.  I still have a red-head obsession because of Tori.  This is in my ten favorite albums of all time and always will be.  Little Earthquakes is full of intense and pretty compositions. The humor of “Happy Phantom” contrasts the pain of “Me and a Gun”.  And the included track here is “Precious Things”, which sees Tori Amos exposing herself as the angry and sexual piano player she truly is. Myra Ellen Amos is quite simply a beast.

 

MELISSA  –  MERCYFUL FATE (1983)

Mercyful Fate’s first two albums are among the best Metal albums of all time.  When you realize that this album came out a full year before Kill ‘Em All did you can start to see just how important this band truly were.  Mercyful Fate are the High Priestesses of underappreciation.  Yes King Diamond looks kinda ridiculous. And yes their lyrics are nothing short of evil incarnate.  Lines such as “Drinking the blood of a new born child” and “I’ll be the first to watch your funeral, and I’ll be the last to leave” sometimes are  so over the top that I guess it is understandable how an album this good could be ignored.  If Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden had a baby, and that baby grew up listening to nothing but Black Sabbath, the end result would have to look and sound something like Mercyful Fate.  It’s no coincidence that the best thing Metallica has recorded since …And Justice For All is their medley-cover simply-titled “Mercyful Fate”.  One of the greatest Metal albums of all time hands down.  Click on the YouTube link and hear the start of “Curse of the Pharaohs”.  If you don’t immediately recognize “2 Minutes to Midnight” you are lying to yourself.

 

NEVER, NEVERLAND  –  ANNIHILATOR (1990)

After Annihilator’s first album, Alice in Hell, it was time for a new lead singer.  Out was the awful singing of the ridiculously-named Randy Rampage, and in was ex-Omen singer Coburn Pharr.  The second album of this Ottawa, Ontario band was a vast improvement  over the first album in every way.   Without question the guitar playing of Jeff Waters alone makes this an absolute must-have recording for fans of thrash guitar or just guitar in general.  If you can think of a better Metal album to  come out of Canada then I would love to hear it.  If you have never heard this album, and you consider yourself a “Metal guy” then you are missing out huge.  I am having a hard time trying to pick a song to post here for listening purposes.  That is how truly great this record is from beginning to end.

 

OPUS EPONYMOUS  –  GHOST (2011)

I know, I cannot believe it either.   Only the second of twenty (so far) albums to be released after 1999 that appear on this list.  This album by Swedish band Ghost is nothing but special.  Before I heard this album I was told that it sounded like a cross between thrash metal and Blue Oyster Cult.  As it turned out that description really was right on the money.  Melodic background vocals nestled in between heavy riffing.  I have to say that this album is my favorite Metal album in probably the last twenty years.  The PERFECT blend of melody and heaviness.  This is the only album that since I have got my iPod, every time I switch the music on it I leave this whole album on there.  Every minute of this album is pure genius and I am super-stoked for their upcoming 2nd album titled Infestissumam that will be released this spring.  Hail Satan!!!!

 

That’s it for now, stay tuned for part 3, coming soon…

Part 111: The Girl In the Sam Roberts Shirt

RECORD STORE TALES PART 111:  The Girl In the Sam Roberts Shirt

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2005.  I had a rare Saturday off, and I wasn’t wasting it.

I was single, and interested in a couple different girls.  First there was Mel.  She was a nice but just always in a hurry.  She drove like a maniac and for her it was all rush-rush-rush.  We had a “date” that Saturday morning.  We were heading to St. Jacobs to go to the market.

Well, this wasn’t the kind of market excursion I was used to.  She was rushing from vendor to vendor, getting what she needed, with no time to look around!  I had a couple things I wanted to buy and she paced and tapped her toes waiting as I looked.  It wasn’t comfortable.  I ended up buying some T-shirts (Bob Marley and Slash) and a Lego set.  The Lego set, the Ultimate Collector’s Series Y-Wing fighter, was $200.  She wanted to pay for it.  That creeped me out a bit, considering I barely knew this girl.  I said no.  And that was basically it.  She drove me home, and that was all.  No sparks, just the creeps.

Before I went on my date with Mel, I was up all night talking to Jen.  Jen was from Brampton.  She was a hockey loving Christian who also liked Johnny Cash and Nirvana.  I didn’t even sleep that night, we were on the phone until daylight.  I said to Jen, “I have this date with this Mel girl in a few hours.  But I don’t even really want to go.”  In a way I was relieved that the “date” didn’t go well.  I wasn’t into it, and even though she was a hockey-loving Christian, and I hadn’t been to church in almost 20 years, I had a much better connection with Jen.

I spent Saturday putting together my Lego set.  It actually took me all week to finish.  It was massive. 

Sunday the 18th I had to work.  I grew to hate working Sundays.  I don’t remember anything about that work day at all — maybe I’ve blocked it out?  Jen recalls a little bit.  She remembers me telling her that I was having a shitty day at the store.  Sundays were usually pretty busy right from the get-go, and Sundays we were usually inundated with jerk knobs and dipsticks.  It wasn’t a great part of town to work in.  We attracted a high ratio of customers that did not carry any kind of currency, but needed to kill time listening to music at a CD store.

“Hey!” she said.  “Are you doing anything tonight?”

“Well, nothing I can’t cancel,” I said.  “Why?”

“Do you want to come down to Brampton and hang out?”

Sure!  I was down for that.  She gave me the directions, and I hopped in my green Dodge Neon and hit the highway.  

I pulled into the driveway, and a blonde girl wearing a Sam Roberts T-shirt, with the bluest eyes I’d ever seen was waiting for me.  She smiled a smile that lit up the whole day.  I was wearing the Marley shirt that I bought the day before.  The night flew by.  We went to a park and played on the swings.  We went to Sonny’s, and had some of their legendary poutine, and probably the best cheeseburger I’ve ever had in my life.  The night flew by. 

I had to work Monday morning, as usual.  I left Brampton around 9 so I could get home and get to bed at a decent hour.  As I drove down Dixie Road towards Highway 401, I said to myself, “That girl is special.  Whatever you do, you have to make sure she doesn’t get hurt.  She’s different than the others you’ve met.”

And she was.  And 3 years later, Jen became Mrs. LeBrain.