bubbles

REVIEW: sandbox. – a murder in the glee club (1997)

sandbox. – a murder in the glee club (1997 EMI)

This is a fascinating album.  Sandbox (parsed as “sandbox.” on the album) had come out with a successful enough debut, but what we didn’t know then was how much ambition they had.  For their second CD, they did what most bands usually wait to do, much later on: the dreaded concept album! It is such a gamble to go for a concept album at all, let alone on your second record.

Setting the scene is the title track, “A Murder in the Glee Club”; but is all what it appears to be?  The liner notes state:

“Recorded as in introduction to a play in 1932 by Freddie Corn and the Ohioans, the song has sat dormant on a shelf for the past 65 years.  Shortly after it was recorded, the production was cancelled and the song was never released or published.  The version you hear on this record is the original recording, sonically enhanced and embellished using mordern technology.”

Hmmm.

An online search for “Freddie Corn and the Ohioans” reveals only one hit: an old interview with Mike Smith from the University of Western Ontario, which is only quoting the liner notes.

I always wondered if Sandbox were trying to pull the wool over our eyes a little bit with those liner notes.  You can draw your own conclusions but “A Murder in the Glee Club” does lull you in to the concept of the album:  Altered states of consciousness and mental illness eventually lead to murder.  Then, the murderer becomes haunted by the crimes he has committed.  That “1932 recording” really sets the mood right.

“…to red” is the first proper song on the album, and this is lyrically connected to the final track on Sandbox’s first album, Bionic.  It’s immediately obvious that the production, this time by Don Fleming, is far superior.  “…to red” is a vast improvement sound-wise over anything on the first album.  Performance-wise too; the band no longer sound stiff.  Singer Paul Murray seems less shy, and willing to stretch out his voice.  “…to red” is a fantastic up-beat start, with enough twangy-crunchy guitars to compensate for the pure pop that is the melody.  “I woke up with a different life, I was wondering where I’d been,” and the disoriented lead character is introduced.  This track was written by the uber-talented Mike Smith.  “Spin”, by Jason Archibald continues the story.  “I can’t believe you ran, I can’t believe you wanted out.”  When the character sings, “The Devil was my name,” then I get a bad feeling.  The music is darker, but driving.   The excellent guitar chops of Sandbox really make it enticing.  They leave a lot of space between the instruments so you can really hear what is going on.

“Spin” fades softly into “The Garden Song”, and it is clear that something bad has happened.  “They found you in the garden, arranged smile stained your face.”  While the lyrics are poetic it’s difficult to pay attention to them, because of the imagery they evoke.  The music is absolutely lovely, almost uplifting at times, but this has to be the darkest moment in the story.  “The Spectre”, faster and loaded with tasty backwards guitar, begins to deal with the haunted thoughts of the killer.  This is a duet with Mike Smith on second vocals.  You can picture this guy wandering through some a cold field somewhere, arguing with himself.  It’s an electrifying song, leading into the blitzkrieg of “Melt”.  This is the heaviest song Sandbox have ever done, blasting with a heavy chunk-tastic riff.  “Better stories, a better plan, this guy thinks he’s Superman, I think I’d like to smash his face with Kryptonite.”  I love that line.  There’s an intense feeling of anger.

Forwarding the story, “If I Tell” reveals regret, and delusions.  The killer now wishes he could bring his victim back, but he certainly isn’t willing to confess.  He justifies this by saying that he’s just protecting those whose lives would be impacted by his confession, perhaps family or friends.  Jason Archibald plays what sounds like electric sitar recorded backwards.  Then, “Self-Contained”, the best track on the album steps forth with a powerful, catchy riff.  This was the first song to really jump out on first listen.  “I hate the way I’m self-contained,” sings Paul Murray, wishing he could escape the insanity.  But the really crazy thing is, even though we know what’s gone on before, taken individually anybody can relate to the lyrics.  “I wanna feel the rush, of an electric song, I wanna be in love, it turns me on.”  On first listen, you’re not going to follow the concept of the album completely.  This song jumped out at me, and I always loved the lyrics, even though I hadn’t pieced it together with the rest of the album yet.

“Carry” was a the lead single/video, and an upbeat pop rocker it is.  Guitar jangle and steady beats provide what you need for a hit, only it wasn’t.  (For shame.)  Perhaps it just wasn’t edgy enough for rock fans in 1997, I don’t know and I don’t understand why Sandbox were not absolutely huge.  Jason Archibald’s “Missed the Day” is a beautiful, softer ballad.  The guitar and vocal melodies are ace, but I also like listening to the drums of Troy Shanks.  Brilliant song with its own hit potential, untapped and wasted.

I remember visiting the Calgary Zoo when I was younger.  The most haunting image in my mind was a polar bear named Snowball who paced back and forth, back and forth, back and forth…endlessly.  (Read more here.)  When Snowball finally died, I am sure I was not the only Canadian who believed that he was probably better off.  Watching that bear, having long ago gone insane in that tiny enclosure, pacing back and forth was one of the most difficult lessons Young Me had to learn about our relationship with nature.  “Bear Bear” was not inspired by Snowball, but by a similar bear at the Metro Toronto Zoo.  It fits into the concept of the album only metaphorically.  Musically, it’s quite jagged and drony, in a strangely catchy way.  This is a powerful song!

According to the liner notes, “How I Feel” was written by Mike Smith, and was lyrically inspired by seeing the Spice Girls on Saturday Night Live one night.  He pulls no punches:  “I’ve been watching all the sheeple of the world, Masses flocking to the mindless shit they’ve heard.”  Musically, it’s brilliant and very 1960’s in vibe.  The electric piano brings me back a few decades.  On this song, the lead character simply cannot connect with people — he is baffled by their behaviour, their words and beliefs.  And he resents them.  “Will you even notice when I go?  I’ll be leaving here when I say so.”

The final track for this dark concept album is “A Question of Faith”, with sparse echoey guitars and a plaintive melody.  What you hear and what someone else hears may be two different endings altogether.  You decide what it all means.  The song is brilliant, and emotionally heavy.  Yet it also feels like release.  A great weight lifting.  “A Question of Faith” is as well crafted as everything else on A Murder in the Glee Club.

I have said in the past, that if I had only bought this album in the year 1997, it would have made my top albums list (published in our store newsletter) that year.  Alas, I did not get it until early in the new year.  If I had got the CD in time, it definitely would have been on that list.  It’s truly a shame, but this second CD proved to be Sandbox’s last album.  Mike Smith had no problem finding fame elsewhere, as his career as Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys has certainly skyrocketed!

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: sandbox. – Bionic (1995)

Part one of a Sandbox two-fer!

sandbox. – Bionic (1995 EMI)

Because it was the 1990’s, and you had to do stuff like this, Sandbox referred to themselves as “sandbox.” with the period at the end.  This being 2015, in this review we’re just going to call them Sandbox.  Sandbox were very, very 1990’s with some melancholy music and an abstract album cover of an apple with nails in it.  There is no reason for this that I can tell.  It may well have just been, “Hey, let’s make this apple look like the guy from Hellraiser.”

Sandbox were from Nova Scotia, and have two really interesting connections.  One, the lead singer Paul Murray is the nephew of Anne Murray, who made “Snowbird” a national treasure back in the 70’s.  Two, the lead guitar player was a talented fellow named Mike Smith.  Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 10 years, then you know Mike Smith as his Trailer Park Boys alter-ego, Bubbles.  I saw these guys opening for the Barenaked Ladies back in 1996 and was impressed by the six tunes they played.

The big hit was “Curious” and it’s still fantastic once you get past the trendy 90’s-isms.  (By that I’m referring to the watery, distorted vocals, lack of a solo, and simple construction.)  But damn, what a song.  All the right parts are there.  The guitar riff works its way into your brain effortlessly, and the band provide all the necessary backing.  Paul Murray is not a singer of remarkable range or power, but his voice works with the music to create a a wave that washes over you.  Mike Smith and the band are more than capable of providing melodic backing vocals.

The problem with the Bionic album was that it had a couple really strong, powerful songs and a lot that didn’t have the same impact.  “Collide” is a good song, but it plods along without enough excitement.  It doesn’t get you moving.   I think a few of these tunes worked better live.  The studio can be a stifling environment, and it took Sandbox an album to really grow in the studio.  “For You” boasts a strong chorus hook, but again not enough spark.

“Decisions”, dark quiet and slow, boasts a great chorus and impassioned lead vocals.  It is augmented by a nice cello part, which works so well for dark tracks such as this.  “Decisions” is a standout on the album, with a big part of that being due to the cello.  More songs on Bionic would have done well with some augmentation like that.  “Grief” is similarly dark, but edgy.  I dig the backwards guitar solo, a touch I have always loved in rock music.  “Three Balloons and a Trapdoor” is the kind of song title I find annoying, but the cello is back.  It’s a sparse little acoustic song without much else going on with it besides the cello.  It sounds like a side closer, and that’s the exact position it occupies on the CD running order.  Coincidence?  I don’t think so.

“Here and There” is the first song that rocks in a while, and it’s very welcome.  It could have used more hooks, but it gets the job done well enough.  It takes advantage of the jangling guitar chords of Mike Smith and Jason Archibald.  Then, “Live” is a fantastic song.  Where sometimes, Sandbox’s songs seem to lack sufficient passion and memorable melody, “Live” completely delivers.  I feel the sadness, and I can swim in the melodic vocals like a river.  “Flux” and “Weatherman” are both OK. “Flux” has a nice hard beat and a chorus I can get into.  “Weatherman” is sparse, acoustic and intimate.

The last amazing tune, on a par with “Curious”, is the incredible “Lustre”.  A simple guitar lick coupled with another killer chorus is all it takes.  A classy acoustic guitar solo just makes it all so perfect.  It’s hard to describe just what makes the song click, but it has clicked with me for almost 20 years, so there must be something good going on here.

The final track is the slow and dull “And the Mood Changes…”, followed by silence and then a strange distorted spoken word bit that always struck me as another 90’s gimmick.  I was wrong, it is actually the first part of the second Sandbox album, which was a concept album called a murder in the glee club.  This spoken word bit is meant to lead directly into the beginning of that album, a story of a killer who is tormented by what he has done.  And speaking of that second album, what an album it was!  Sandbox obviously benefited from the studio experience on Bionic, because what they achieved on a murder in the glee club was something quite special and fantastic.  But that’s another review.

3/5 stars

MOVIE REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Live in F**kin’ Dublin (2014)

NEW RELEASE

TRAILER PARK BOYS – Live in F**kin’ Dublin (2014 Netflix)

Some things never change!

Some time before the events of Don’t Legalize It, our boys Ricky and Julian had to help Bubbles make a music video, to win a chance to go to Ireland with Rush. Bubbles, dressed as Alex Lifeson, chose a shot-for-shot remake of the “Closer to the Heart” video. Ricky, wearing a false nose, is Geddy Lee (Ricky thinks it’s “Freddy Lee”). Julian taped a piece of chicken skin to his chin to get the look of Neil Peart’s Fu Manchu ‘stache. Drumming one-handed with a glass full of rum and coke in the other hand isn’t easy, but Julian pulls it off.  The video wins the contest! Alex calls Bubbles personally and the three are soon on a private jet bound to Ireland (“Ironland” according to Ricky), with Randy tagging along.

IMG_20140818_165727

Unfortunately for Ricky, a private plane isn’t a free license to bring your own dope into Ireland. The judge, however, is sympathetic. Since the boys are so popular in Ireland, he will drop the jail sentence if the boys will perform a show for community service, about the dangers of drink and drugs. The boys agree to a show in Dublin (“Doobylin”), and the live portion of the program begins.

The Trailer Park Boys live on stage in this case consisted of a puppet show, some audience participation contests, a couple of live songs (including Bubbles’ hit “Liquor and Whores”) and a lot of fuckery. If you have seen the boys live, then you know their show is basically just organized chaos. Audience members are invited on stage (the two dumbest ones, apparently) to play Cory and Trevor for the evening.

Highlights included the appearances of the Green Bastard (from “Parts Unknown”) and the evil puppet known as Conky. Apparently Conky must have survived being drowned in the episode “A Shit River Runs Through It”. I also enjoyed Ricky’s trick of “hippotizing” the crowd. He learned how to do it by watching Reveen, and wears a Reveen-esque magician cloak for it.

The film ends with the boys returning to Canada, having missed the Rush concert.  As a bonus, you do get to see their Rush video in its entirety, side by side with the original. A nice addition, as this video is the highlight of the film.

3.5/5 stars

Further reading:
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Movie (2006 Alliance Atlantis)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Don’t Legalize It (2014 E One)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Big Plans, Little Brains: The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Third Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fourth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS Xmas Special (Conky Puppet, Dope and Liquor Editions)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fifth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Sixth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Seventh Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys

Blu-ray REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – Don’t Legalize It (2014)

NEW RELEASE

Thanks to Chris Thuss for loaning this disc to me.

TPB3_0001TRAILER PARK BOYS – Don’t Legalize It (2014 Entertainment One)

Directed by Mike Clattenburg

Two years prior to the start of the new Trailer Park Boys opus, Ricky and Julian were released from jail for the 17th time.  Jim Lahey has suffered from a Ricky-induced stroke.  He now limps with a cane, hooked on coke (“white liquor”), still beside an increasingly disgusted Randy.  Lucy is living with mall cop George Green (aka “Fucky McFucksnapper”).  Ricky and Julian have ceased working with each other.  Ricky’s growing dope on an unprecedented scale, in a house in the subdivisions, but the Shitmobile only drives in reverse.  Bubbles is delivering chicken and beer on bicycle, living under J-Roc’s front step.  Terry & Dennis (the Flappy Bird Brothers) and Sam Losco are working for Cyrus.  And Lahey’s buying coke from Sam.  It’s a viscous circle.  Julian was bouncing at a local club, but now has taken a step up (?) in the world by selling piss.

Let me repeat that: Julian is selling piss.

IMG_20140816_193148

Clean piss, stolen from the military, at $60 a vial.  Paying $60 to pass a drug test and keep your job is apparently worth it in Julian’s world.  “Liquid gold,” he calls it.  The quality and freshness of the piss is important to his customers.  Ricky’s business of choice, however, is about to be shut down.  Canada is legalizing marijuana, turning Ricky from king of the hill to unemployed overnight…unless he can stop legalization.

Allow me to repeat that too:  Ricky needs to stop the legalization of marijuana.

Bubbles then receives a mysterious letter from a lawyer: his long-lost parents have passed away, but have left Bubbles a piece of land in Kingston, Ontario.  All he has to do is claim it.  Since Ricky needs to get to Ottawa to stop legalization, and Julian needs to get to Montreal to sell his stolen piss, it only makes sense to combine road trips.  Or a “working vacation,” says Julian.  He’s turned the Dirty Burger into a “Piss Wagon” to transport the liquid gold.  And Lahey’s following them.

Will things go off the rails when Randy dumps all Lahey’s “white liquor” out of the window of their station wagon?  Can Julian trust Cyrus?  Will Bubbles stay in Kingston?  And can Ricky stop his precious illegal crop from being legalized and taxed by government dicks?  All will be decided by the time they get to Ottawa…

Trailer Park Boys shows are known for the mangled English known as Rickysisms.  Some of my favourite lines and Rickyisms in this installment included:

“Instant carla, fucky!” – Ricky.

“Just shutty that fucky!  What’s with your hair man, you think you’re a fucking Beavil or something?” – to Randy regarding his “Beatles ‘do”.

(Laughs) “Meth!?  He’s selling piss, you fucking dum-dum.” – Ricky to Lahey, who thought the test tubes and hazmat gear meant Julian was cooking crystal meth.

“Cocksuckers chicken-jacked me!” – Bubbles after being mugged for chicken.

“Julian, can you stop handling the weiners for a second?” – Bubbles

The movie is dedicated to Richard Collins, aka Philadelphia Collins, who passed during the filming of the movie.  Phil Collins has some excellent scenes in this installment despite being confined to a wheelchair.  It is also dedicated to Brian Huggins (Shitty Bill) and Rita MacNeil.

TPB3_0002

Special features: a 1976 vintage VW camper is discussed in the “Cars Of” feature.  Apparently that camper was a bitch!  The Laheymobile is an ’89 Crown Victoria station wagon that Randy is not allowed to fart in.  Ricky’s Shitmobile is a ’75 Chrysler New Yorker, which had to be drastically revamped structurally just to make it safe to film with.  Then there’s the Dirty Burger, which is actually an old camper that Robb Wells and John Paul Trembley bought years ago.  “Dogs, Busses & Barf Tubes” reveals the origins of Bubbles’ bus.  My favourite featurette is “The Cock Bomb Problem”.  What’s the “Cock Bomb” you ask?  The crew and cast ceaselessly pranked each other by drawing cocks on all of their stuff.

I felt that Trailer Park Boys went a little too dark on the last couple outings.  The final TV episode before the recent revamp of the show was the dour “Say Goodnight to the Bay Guys”, which was followed by the similar downer movie Countdown to Liquor Day.  Don’t Legalize It has its own moments of sadness and quite a few tears, but measured against its predecessor, it’s a much funnier and re-watchable film.  I think this captures the heart of the series better than the last film, even though many characters are absent or have smaller roles.  The core is the triumvirate of Ricky, Julian and Bubbles, along with the evil duo of Randy and Lahey.  As long as you have those ingredients, you have potential for a lot of fuckery.  Don’t Legalize It delivers.

4/5 stars

Further reading:
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Movie (2006 Alliance Atlantis)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Big Plans, Little Brains: The Complete 1st and 2nd Seasons
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Third Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fourth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS Xmas Special (Conky Puppet, Dope and Liquor Editions)
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Fifth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Sixth Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Complete Seventh Season
TRAILER PARK BOYS – Say Goodnight to the Bad Guys

GUEST WTF Search Terms: Fan Favorites – Thussy Edition

Happy Friday, everyone.  WTF Search Terms is a series in which I reveal actual search terms that somehow led real people to mikeladano.com.  This time I asked my buddy Chris to pick 10 of his favourites from the pile, which he did — along with his own commentary.  Enjoy!

For the last installment of WTF Search Terms, Unsolved Mysteries edition, click here!
For more shits n’ giggles, check out WTF Comments, too!

SWAYZE

WTF Search Terms XV: Fan Favorites – Thussy Edition

Lebrain has wanted me to collaborate with him for a while, and I am no writer, so we decided to do a WTF Search Terms. He sent me a big list of weird search terms, and all I can say is a lot of people looking for porn found Lebrain’s blog. Also, no one can spell anymore.  So, keep reading below to find out my top ten WTF Search Terms!

10. google videos jethu tull too juong old to rock and roll and too juomg to died

“Me fail English? That’s un-possible!”

ME FAIL

9. boobsy animation whores wearing glasses acquire screwed hardcore 4 full animation

Someone was looking for some very specific porn, and ran into Lebrain.

8. toronto shemales tumblr

“If the girl did something to you but you didn’t do it back then you didn’t really do anything.”

7. videos da bada white snack

I had to include this one, because it apparently got 9 hits! Why?

6. oshawa women that like to fuck

Local easy girls, for when hookers are too expensive.

5. marilyn manson without ribs

Even I know that rumour isn’t true.

4. (Three-in-one!)
a. queensryche queensryche eyes of the strangers japan bonus
b. queensryche queensryche eye of the strangers japan import
c. queensrycheeye of the strangers japan bonus youtube

Japanese imports are very expensive.

3. sequined bathrobe

I think Lebrain has one of these.

2. poop in the shower guy

I remember when Lebrain first told me this story, still don’t understand why you would do that.

1. trailer park boys model train rod stewart

Where does Rod Stewart fit into this? “You know what, Patrick Swayze uses illegal parts. That is why he’s winning all the time.”

 

Part 218: Liquor and Whores

RECORD STORE TALES Part 218:  Liquor and Whores

The year:  Early 2004.

A new original TV show was starting to make waves in Canada.  I hadn’t caught wind of it yet — I didn’t have cable back then — but our destinies would soon intertwine.  The catalyst was my old childhood and highschool friend, Scott.

Scott remembers the story much like I do.  He used to come into my store every Wednesday to visit and check out new arrivals.  He had just become addicted to this new TV show in question, and was spreading the word.  According to Scott:

“I was trying to get everybody into that show…90% success rate by the way.”

That doesn’t surprise me at all.  Because when you’re talking about a show as Canadian, as original, and as funny as Trailer Park Boys, the series sells itself.  Scott figured I would be an easy convert.  “I just knew you were a Rush fan,” he tells me.  It was the Rush connection that initially caught my attention.

Scott was talking to me at the front counter.  “Have you heard of Trailer Park Boys?” he asked me that day.  I hadn’t.  “It’s hilarious,” Scott continued.  “You have to see this guy Bubbles.  In the best episode, he meets Alex Lifeson from Rush.  He gets to go on stage with Rush, play guitar with Alex, and everything.  He’s actually a pretty good musician.”

Going into more detail, Scott explained:  “Do you remember that band, Sandbox?”  I did.  “Bubbles is played by a guy from that band.  He’s got these big thick glasses, always swearing…Bubbles is the best!”

I had seen Sandbox eight years earlier, opening for Barenaked Ladies actually.  I was really impressed by their show and their single “Curious”, so I picked up their album.  In fact I think their ambitious second album, 1997’s A Murder in the Glee Club, is among the finest albums our country has to offer.  Their lead vocalist was a guy named Paul Murray, nephew of Anne.

Wanna see what Bubbles would look like with a shaved head?  Watch this.

So I was in.  As soon as the first box set came into inventory, I bought it, without seeing a single episode.  Dandy ratted me out for buying two DVDs in one week (which was against the rules at the time), but once I got the discs home, I put on the first season.  I was hooked by the second episode.

Now that the boys are coming back for an 8th season on SwearNet, it’s never too late to get yourself hooked on this incredible show.  After all, if Axl Rose, Sebastian Bach, and Alex Lifeson are all fans, aren’t you curious what you’re missing?

See Guns N’ Roses play “Liquor and Whores” with Bubbles on vocals & guitar

Liquor and whoresSAM_0436
Liquor and whores
Cigarettes and dope and mustard and bologna
Liquor and whores

I went down
Drinkin’ at the legion
I met a girl she was nice
She was pretty and pleasing

She said “Hey boy
We should do some marrying”
I said sure but before we do
There’s something that you should know

I like
Liquor and whores
Liquor and whores
Cigarettes and dope and mustard and bologna
Liquor and whores…

Then one night down at the legion
She walked in, I was drunk on gin
Dancin with a lady friend
She said hey boy, You’d better fly the fuck home
I said no cause five little words I coulda
Swore I said to you

I like
Liquor and whores
Liquor and whores
Cigarettes and dope and mustard and bologna
Liquor and whores…

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys – The Movie (2006)

Are you a Tragically Hip fan?  Then read on.

TRAILER PARK BOYS – The Movie (2006 Alliance Atlantis)

Directed by Mike Clattenburg

The story goes that Ivan Reitman, who produced Trailer Park Boys: The Movie (aka “The Big Dirty”), wanted to do a movie that would re-introduce the characters and target them to a new audience.  He preferred the flavour of the earlier seasons and steered the movie in that direction.  This is sort of a good and bad thing.

The movie is out of continuity with the TV series, unfortunately.  There are characters and events in the movie that would never be referenced in the series.  Lahey loses the roof of his car in both the movie and the TV series, but in different ways.  You’ll notice Trinity is played by a different actress (Lydia Lawson-Baird), and her character is slightly different in tone as well.

Remember those movie trailers where the Boys are auditioning actors to play themselves? I think it’s best to think of this movie in that context: It’s the Boys playing themselves, in a movie based on themselves.  Even though we’re talking about fictional characters in a mockumentary movie.

The plot:  Ricky and Julian go to jail (again) and are about to be released (again). No fair! cries Ricky, who wants to play in the jail hockey tournament against the prison guards, captained by Donny.  The rivalry between Ricky (a goalie) and Donny (Gerry Dee) result in a few classic exchanges:

Ricky – “Suck it, Donny.”

Donny – “You suck it.  More.”

Ricky – “What kind of comeback was that?  I said ‘suck it’ and you just added ‘more’ to it.”

Donny – “Because it’s more, you suck it more.”

TPB_0002Out of jail, Rick goes home to Sunnyvale trailer park, only to find that things have changed. Lucy’s got a new job.  “An awesome new job,” according to Sarah.  “She workin’ at Horton’s again?” asks Ricky.  Nope, it’s not a coffee shop, it’s a “gentlemen’s club”.  This “gentlemen’s club” is owned by Sonny (Hugh Dillon, of the Headstones), and he’s banging Lucy.

Julian, also out of jail, has an idea to get rich “without getting caught”: Do small crimes.  Steal change!  Ricky, on the other hand, has met a lot of really “smart” guys in jail, and they all say “the big dirty” is the way to go: one big crime, and you’re retired. The two ideas are combined and a plan is set in motion. Will Ricky still be able to play in the hockey tournament?

In addition to new characters like Sonny and Donny, look for cameos by Alex Lifeson (Rush) and Gordon Downie (The Tragically Hip). The soundtrack kicks ass, featuring Helix, April Wine, and lots of The Tragically Hip.  I always think of this movie now when I hear the songs “Bobcaygeon” and “38 Years Old”.  Hell, Julian even goes to see a movie called “The Dark Canuck” in the film.

I really enjoyed Trailer Park Boys: The Movie even if it’s not quite pure Trailer Park Boys. It sort of attempts to recapture what worked in the early seasons (you can tell by casting Trinity as a younger girl) and by and large, it works. Sonny works as a replacement antagonist, a role that Cyrus often filled on the show.  All your favourite regulars such as Philadelphia Collins, Jacob Collins, and Officer George Green are here. Lahey is suitably drunk, and Randy as shirtless as ever.

This actually works pretty well as a way for newcomers to get into the show. It distills what worked best in the earlier years, into a two-hour package that stays funny and doesn’t wear out its welcome. Bonus features include the music video for “I Fought The Law” (featuring Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson!), and lots of alternate takes.

5/5 stars. Two smokes, let’s go.

“I could easily fuck over 10 pieces of chicken”

REVIEW: Rush – Moving Pictures (CD/blu-ray deluxe edition)

 

Everybody got to evelate from the norm…

RUSH FRONT

RUSH – Moving Pictures (2011 Anthem remaster with 5.1 blu-ray)

The great musical academic, Tom Morwood, once called Moving Pictures “the greatest album of the 1980’s”. I think he has an arguable position. Besides the obvious “Tom Sawyer”, you get such classics as “Red Barchetta”, “YYZ”, “Limelight”, and of course “Vital Signs”. This is back in the day when 7 or 8 songs made an album, and Moving Pictures’ 7 songs are a hell of a concoction.

Although the Rush catalogue was last remastered back in ’97 (or there ’bouts), this was the first Rush deluxe edition to hit the shelves. Unlike most deluxe editions, this one contains no “bonus tracks” per se, at least none in CD form. Disc one is Moving Pictures, in stereo, and disc two is the entire album in hi-def 5.1, plus three music videos. Disc one has been remastered (yet again!), but don’t fret — unless you’re an audiophile, you don’t need to worry about that. The 1997 CD edition sounded fine, as does this. You’re buying this for the 5.1, and if you can’t play 5.1 just stick with the original CD which sounds pretty much the same to the average Joe Listener.   (There’s also a “96k PCM stereo” with “256 times more resolution than a CD” on the blu-ray disc.)

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If you don’t own this album yet, then what are you waiting for?  You couldn’t find a better CD to start with.  Although Geddy had brought the keyboards out, this album still represents the perfect mix of Alex’s guitar and Ged’s keys — not fighting for space in the mix, but sharing it equally and powerfully.

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Do I really need to talk about “Tom Sawyer”?  It’s Rush’s most recognizable riff.  I can think of few other songs where the drum part carries just as many hooks as the other instruments.  But that’s Rush, that’s the Professor.  That’s part of their genius.

“Red Barchetta” is a futuristic tale.  The Motor Law has been passed, banning cars.  Romance for the old vehicles still exists in some, who seek the thrills.  I always felt the subject matter was similar to the movie The Last Chase, which didn’t come out until the following year.  Musically, the song twists and turns like the roads it’s about.

“YYZ” is perhaps Rush’s best known instrumental, a slammin’ piece of polyrhythmic madness.  It’s stuff like this that Rush is best known for, and “YYZ” is one of the best examples of it.  Alex’s guitar work is nothing short of stunning, meanwhile Geddy’s bass licks are perfect.

Meanwhile, “Limelight” represents the simpler pop side of Rush that the band were interested in exploring at the time.  It is still anchored by a solid riff, but with Geddy’s vocal melody enduring.  A song like this is an appropriate lead-in to “The Camera Eye”, a more complex piece featuring Geddy’s synth.  It’s over 10 minutes long, and perhaps the kind of thing people expect from Rush.

“Witch Hunt” is a shorter one, but ominous and dramatic.  Alex’s riff is the main focus, although Neil certainly throws in plenty of interesting accents.  The final track, “Vital Signs”, is my favourite.  Finding words to describe it is difficult.  It’s perfect — an amalgam of incredible playing with interesting influences and complex arrangements.  There is a clear reggae vibe, as they had been listening to a lot of The Police.  It’s also extremely memorable.  Neil’s drum work on this is stunning.

And that’s the album!  Seven songs done and dusted.

RUSH BLU RAY

The 5.1 mix, done by Toronto’s own Richard Chycki (he’s been doing Rush and Triumph remixes for years now) is pretty damn good. It’s different. Listen to “Vital Signs” for example. It’s different, the balance of instruments and vocals. Considering the original stereo mix was perfect, and you can’t fairly compare to perfection, I will just say the mix is different. It’s definitely a great listen on a good system, I liked what Chycki did. Again, listen to “Vital Signs”. What he did there just creates this amazing field of sound. There’s a great separation of instruments. Moving Pictures was a great choice to mix in 5.1, you can really hear the individual playing.

The music videos are old, and don’t look so hot, even on blu. I have always loved watching the “Tom Sawyer” video, Neil bashing his kit in Le Studio with that big glass window behind him in the dead of winter. Geddy with those big glasses.  My best friend Peter, he loves Geddy’s glasses!  There’s also “Limelight”, which is seen less frequently.  The “Vital Signs” video, from the same taping, is previously unreleased.

The liner notes are by David Fricke, and are quite different from the who-played-what-when notes in previous deluxe editions. Fricke’s don’t go into great detail regarding the making of the album nor the 5.1 mix, as previous deluxe editions do. However, it’s David Fricke, and therefore a good read. Enjoy while immersed within this album, in sublime hi-def 5.1.

5(.1)/5 stars

REVIEW: Trailer Park Boys Xmas Special w/ Conky Puppet, Dope and Liquor Editions! With Video! (DVD)

TRAILER PARK BOYS Xmas Special  (Conky Puppet, Dope and Liquor Editions)

Upon first release in 2004, I bought the Trailer Park Boys Xmas Special.  It was a compulsory purchase.  This excellent show, one of the funniest on TV, had yet to issue the special as a part of a box set.  Plus it came with a Conky puppet!  Fans of the show know Conky to be the evil but hilarious puppet who has a tendency to take over Bubbles’ brain.  Surely, “Conky” is one of the two best episodes of the show.  The other would be “Closer to the Heart” featuring Alex Lifeson.

See the video to check out LeBrain’s Conky puppet!

I remember Tom used to put the Conky puppet on top of his Christmas tree!

Then, in 2006, I found the reissued “Dope and Liquor Edition” at a store for $5, and re-bought it, even though I already own the version that came with the Conky puppet. Why?

1. Because I’m crazy like that and I love TPB.
2. Because it was cheap enough to warrant the second purchase.
3. Because the previously unreleased (on DVD) “Trailer Park Boys 101” special as hosted by Alex Lifeson was worth it to me.

This double-length episode (actually titled, “Dear Santa Claus, Go Fuck Yourself”) on its own is one of the best the series ever produced. Taking place in 1997, well before the fictional adventures of Ricky, Julian, and Bubbles were documented, this episode reveals a lot of Trailer Park Boys backstory and delivers a lot of laughs.

Ricky is bailed out of jail on Christmas Eve to help Julian with his present stealing racket. Ricky’s unhappy because Christmas is the best time to be in jail (“12 days of partying,” Ricky says). It doesn’t take long for Mr. Lahey to get wise to the theft scheme, and with his new friend Randall in tow, he promptly gets back on the liquor. In the meantime, sidekicks Jamie and Tyrone discover rap music and marijuana, while Ricky and Julian use “nerds” Corey and Trevor to help steal Christmas trees.

Some of the funniest dialogue in the show’s history was right here in the Christmas special. Ricky mistaking God for Santa Claus is priceless (if you’re not offended).

Ricky: Dad, I write letters every year, you know that. I mean, I’m sending a letter off to the big guy tomorrow. So, it’s taken care of. Done. No problem.

Ray: Huh?

Ricky: The letters… You and Mom got me to write them every year at Christmas. I’m sending one off tomorrow again.

Ray: To Santa Claus, Rick?!

Ricky: Yeah, the big guy.

Bubbles: The big guy?! The big guy? That’s God, Ricky.

Ricky: Yeah, God. That’s what I said. Santa.

Ray: Ricky, come on, you know Santa and God aren’t the same guy, right?

Ricky: Dad, you didn’t know that? I mean, think about it! How would he get around the world in one night? Of course he’s the same person. Right, Bubs?

Bubbles: No, Ricky. Santa and God, that’s two different things.

Ricky: What? Oh my fuck! You know, I did maybe think that I fucked that up. I wasn’t sure, and I didn’t want to say anything just in case Santa was God. Like, it would obviously, probably, wouldn’t it piss him off that I got that mixed up like that?

By the time you get to his big speech at the end, (“Christmas is about getting drunk and stoned with your family!”) you’ll be howling.

Like I said, this is hilarious if you’re not easily offended. If you are, I would advise you to stay far away from everything Trailer Park Boys. If you enjoy well delivered, largely improvised dialogue performed by the east coast’s favourites, then dig in for some Christmas dinner.

The special features here are the typical TPB fare. Alternate takes, extended takes, bloopers, and so on abound, making this worth your coin. As I mentioned before, to make up for the lack of the Conky puppet, the Dope and Liquor Edition has the Alex Lifeson documentary. As a Rush and TPB fan, this was worth the re-buy for me. You also get a preview for the first TPB movie, although this is well out of date now.

Merry Christmas, make sure mom is nowhere around when you watch this!

5/5 stars (for both)

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Forgotten Treasures – Ignored Albums of the 1990s – LeBrain’s List Part 5

Whoops!  I forgot these.  Thanks to the Heavy Metal OverloRd for pointing at least one of these out.

I really should have included these in my list of 88 albums that went under-appreciated in the 1990’s.  I loved these, still do, and my life wouldn’t be the same without them.

In alphabetical order:

BLUE RODEO – Just Like A Vacation (up there with Sloan as one of my fave live albums of all time)
FISH – Kettle of Fish 88-98 (my introduction to his solo music, a great set!)
HELIX – B-Sides (a misnomer: no B-sides included, but all great tracks that didn’t make albums)
GEORGE LYNCH – Sacred Groove (pure smoke!)
SANDBOX – Bionic (I guess Mike Smith makes significantly more money playing Bubbles on Trailer Park Boys)
SANDBOX – A Murder In The Glee Club (brilliant, brilliant concept album on insanity. Genius!)
REEF – Glow (I think these guys were pretty big in the UK but unknown here)
ROCKHEAD – Rockhead (see my review for all the details)
SLOAN – Between The Bridges (can’t believe I forgot my fave Sloan studio record!)

THIN LIZZY – Dedication: The Very Best Of (the song “Dedication” was my intro to Lizzy!)
BILL WARD – Ward One: Along The Way (I have a review forthcoming, one of the best solo Sabs ever)
THE WHITLAMS – Eternal Nightcap (Aussie band, saw them open for Blue Rodeo, blew me away)
ZAKK WYLDE – Book of Shadows (thanks HMO! Liked it so much I bought it twice)

I really hope I didn’t forget any more.  Embarrassing.  Check these out…all great albums front to back!