classic rock

NON-REVIEW: KISS – Hit Collection 2000 (Russian import)

kiss-logo – Hit Collection 2000 (E.S Records – Russian import)

I call this a “non-review” because I’ve never actually listened to this CD.  I’ve never even opened it.  This disc is one of dozens of Russian imports sold to us by a guy named Serge.  Ah, Serge — part time Russian CD distributor, part time male model.  And a total pain in the ass.  Most of what he tried to sell us was utter shit.  “This is really big in Europe”, he would say about just about every dance CD that I would pass on.  Because this CD is more a curiosity than anything else, I’d like to keep it sealed.  These compilations are so shady that Discogs won’t even allow them for sale.  Think of them as bootlegs.  It’s not the real Kiss logo at the top and that should be cautioning. Because I don’t want to open it, I’ll just listen to the songs on other albums, and review it that way.

The track “Psycho Circus” is a logical opener for a CD released in 2000.  The Psycho Circus album was Kiss’ most recent, and they opened their shows with the title track.  It’s the closest thing to a classic from that album.  Never mind that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss aren’t really on the song; that was typical for Kiss.  It just takes one play and you know it’s Kiss.  Nobody else sounds like this.  Kiss basically ripped themselves off on this song.

Off to a good start, but then things go a bit strange.  “Charisma” from 1979’s disco album Dynasty follows, and by contrast to “Psycho Circus”, the band has never played it live.  (The internet will tell you they played it in Mexico in 1981, but this was just miming for a TV performance.)  The Russians then dropped “Detrot Rock City” (yes, that’s how they spell it) in the third slot.  Then it’s “God of Thunder” which works really well immediately following “Detroit”.  Strangely, back to disco next.  It’s the hit “I Was Made for Lovin’ You”, before it gets even weirder.  Sandwiched between “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” and a slew of tracks from the Kiss solo albums is the ballad “Beth”.  Granted, “Beth” is pretty out of place no matter where she is placed.  It’s also strange that three of Kiss’ biggest hits are crammed together in a small group like this.  It’s even stranger when you look further down the tracklist and realize that one of the biggest hits (“Rock and Roll all Nite”) is completely absent in any form.

The only thing more jarring than hearing Gene Simmons’ solo track “Radioactive” immediately after “Beth” is when the painkillers start to wear off in the middle of a root canal.  Were the solo albums big in Russia?  All four solo albums get a track on this CD, though not all were singles like “Radioactive” was.  Frehley’s “Rip It Out” is arguably a better song than his single anyway (“New York Groove”).  “Rip It Out” is more than welcome here since it so rarely makes it onto compilations.  It’s only on two others:  Best of Solo Albums, and Ikons.  Stanley’s next with “Ain’t Quite Right”, an interesting choice since it’s such a laid back track.  His album has so many better songs for compiling.  Last of the solo tracks is Peter’s single “Don’t You Let Me Down”, a nice ballad, but as you’ll see this CD already has enough ballads.

Back to the mainstream Kiss songs, “Do You Love Me” works really well as a transition out of the solo stuff.  Then it’s time for some Elder.  “A World Without Heroes” isn’t shunned like it used to be.  It’s been on a few compilations, like Kiss 40, Icon 2, and the Box Set.  Another hit from the disco era, Frehley’s “2000 Man” (a Stones cover) is a welcome addition.  The only other compilation it’s been on was Ikons (not including live). Here’s a fact for you:  a Kiss compilation is only strengthened by more Ace.  Fortunately this isn’t the last.

As we get close to the end, “Shout It Out Loud” is rolled out, which makes up for the lack of “Rock and Roll all Nite”.  Then the Russians go full Chernobyl by including the weak ballad “I Finally Found My Way” as the last song in the set.  Why?  Was this a hit in the motherland?  Was it a hit anywhere?  Peter sings it, but he didn’t write it.  Paul did.  And Paul was writing a lot of shit ballads back then.

Russian imports usually had “bonus tracks”.  Sometimes they’d use tracks from live or solo albums.  They went live in this case, with three tracks from the Psycho Circus bonus CD.  Ace sings on “Into the Void”, one of those undeniable Frehley riffs.  “Into the Void” was a highlight from the disappointing Psycho Circus, and this live take swaggers.  “Black Diamond” is dramatic as ever, but where I give the Russians the most credit is closing the CD with “Let Me Go, Rock and Roll”.  Think back and realize, that’s how the original Kiss Alive ended too.

I’m not going to bother giving this CD a rating (what’s the point?) but I will point out that the Russians go all over the place, from genius to asinine, with this track list.  Sometimes it feels like they just threw a bunch of stuff to the wall and didn’t wait to see what stuck.  At others it sounds well thought-out.  It’s probably just random.

?/5 stars

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REVIEW: KISSworld – The Best of Kiss (2017) – PLUS Kiss Re-Review Series complete directory

The KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES Part 47: The Conclusion

Two years ago, I bought this CD to use as the final review for the KISS Re-Review Series. I hadn’t played it.  I hadn’t even opened it. I wanted to save it for our conclusion…so here it is. A lot happened since we started, most notably the current End of the Road farewell tour.  Let’s wrap this series up in a bow.  And to do that properly you’ll find links to every single part and supplement to the KISS Re-Review Series below!

 

KISSworld – The Best of Kiss (2017 Mercury)

You know what KISSworld makes me miss?  The good old days when bands would bribe you into buying their new hits compilation by including something you didn’t have already.  In 1978, Kiss re-recorded “Strutter” for Double Platinum.  In ’82, Kiss recorded “I’m A Legend Tonight”, “Partners In Crime”, “Nowhere To Run” and “I’m A Legend Tonight” for inclusion on the UK compilation Killers.  And in ’88, Paul Stanley produced two new songs (“Let’s Put the X in Sex” and “(You Make Me) Rock Hard”) for Smashes, Thrashes & Hits.  Not great songs, but new ones at least, so you felt less foolish for handing Kiss more of your money.  By the time of 1996’s Greatest KISS album, they tacked on a new “live” version of “Shout It Out Loud”, and from that point on they pretty much gave up giving you any added value.  True, they did record “Samurai Son” for 2005’s KISS 40, but that was a mere blip in the overall pattern.

So in terms of reviews, all you can really talk about is song choice and running order.  It looks like KISSworld is just a revamping of various versions of KISS 40.  The running order is no longer chronological, but the songs are the same.  Opener “Crazy Crazy Nights” was on the single CD KISS 40.  “Unholy” was on the double CD version of KISS 40, albeit live.  “I’m A Legend Tonight” was on both, and so on.  It would have been nice to hear something you don’t get very often, like “All Hell’s Breaking Loose” or “Got to Choose”, but nobody expects bravery from a Kiss tracklist or setlist these days.

Kiss Dynasty poster

Fans who were buying Kiss albums during the peak years probably miss the excellent packaging Kiss would throw in for free.  Look at the mirror finish of the original Double Platinum LP, or the posters and masks and booklets that came with other albums.  Buy a Kiss CD today, get nothin’!  KISSworld has one vintage 1974 black and white photo inside, song credits and nothing else.  Granted, we know that Kiss doesn’t come up with these releases, it’s the record label.  And we keep buying them and buying them, “for the collection”, even though we know we’re going to be disappointed.  The label isn’t thinking of us when they issue this stuff.  They think of it as a part of their latest marketing push, aimed at people buying their first Kiss (or first Kiss in decades).  But they know — they know — that we fans are buying these things too.  They can’t throw us a bone?  What is there here for us?

Nothing, except another CD to file in the appropriate slot, making our collections “complete” again.  Will you listen to it?  Maybe, if you’re tossing coins and can’t decide which greatest hits to play on this particular road trip.  It is, however, the most complete of the in-print, easily-acquired hits CDs.  For a first timer, it would appear to make sense to grab this over Double Platinum or one of the other choices at the CD shop.  You’d be getting a good variety of tunes from over their entire career.  But you’re not getting something assembled with any logic or care, nor are you buying a fair representation of their best stuff.  In fact, this CD only has one song from their first three albums (“Rock and Roll All Nite”)  You could make a greatest hits just from their first three albums!  KISSworld‘s ill-considered tracklist is its downfall.

1/5 stars

 

 

THE COMPLETE KISS RE-REVIEW SERIES

GETTING MORE TALE #551: “You’re Wrong on Unmasked“ (Introduction to the Kiss Re-Review series)
Part 1: Wicked Lester (1972) & the Eddie Kramer demos (1973)
Part 2: KISS (1974 Casablanca)
Part 3: Hotter Than Hell (1974 Casablanca)
GETTING MORE TALE #353: Hotter Than Hell
Supplemental: DUST – Hard Attack (1972) / Dust (1971) (2013 Sony Legacy)
Part 4: Agora Ballroom 1974 (2015 Go Faster)
Part 5: Dressed To Kill (1975 Casablanca)
Part 6: Alive! (1975 Casablanca)
GETTING MORE TALE #552: Alive!
Part 7: Destroyer (1976 Casablanca)
Part 8: Rock and Roll Over (1976 Casablanca)
Part 9: Love Gun (1977 Casablanca, 2014 deluxe)
Part 10: Alive II (1977 Casablanca)
Part 11: KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park (1978 Hanna-Barbera TV movie)
Part 12: Double Platinum (1978 Casablanca)
Part 13: Peter Criss (1978 Casablanca)
Part 14: Ace Frehley (1978 Casablanca)
Part 15: Gene Simmons (1978 Casablanca)
Part 16: Paul Stanley (1978 Casablanca)
Part 17: Dynasty (1979 Casablanca)
Part 18: Unmasked (1980 Casablanca
Supplemental:  PETER CRISS – Out of Control (1980 Casablanca
Part 19: Best of Solo Albums (1979 Phonogram)
Part 20: Music From the Elder (1981 Casablanca, 1997 Mercury remaster)
Part 21: Killers (1982 Germany and Japan versions)
Supplemental: PETER CRISS – Let Me Rock You (1982 Casablanca)
Part 22: Creatures of the Night (1982 Casablanca, 1985 Polygram reissue)
Part 23: Lick It Up (1983 Polygram)
Part 24: Demos 1981-1983 (Bootleg)
Part 25: Animalize (1984 Polygram)
Part 26: Animalize Live Uncensored – audio portion (2015 American Icons)
Part 27: Runaway (1984 Tristar feature film)
GETTING MORE TALE #579: Entering the Asylum
Part 28: Asylum (1985 Polygram)
Part 29: Crazy Nights (1987 Polygram)
Part 30: VINNIE VINCENT INVASION – Vinnie Vincent Invasion (1986 Chysalis)
Part 31: eXposed (1987 Polygram VHS)
Part 32: Monsters of Rock (Bootleg from 1988 tour)
Part 33: In the Land of the Rising Sun (Bootleg from 1988 tour)
Part 34: The Ritz, NYC, 12th August 1988 (2015 American Icons)
Part 35: VINNIE VINCENT INVASION – All Systems Go (1988 Chysalis)
Part 36: Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988 Mercury)
Part 37: KISS – Still On Fire (Dave Thomas & Anders Holm (1988 book)
GETTING MORE TALE #608: Hot in the Shade
Part 38: Hot in the Shade (1989 Polygram)
Part 39: “Forever” (1990 Polygram EP
GETTING MORE TALE #690: Unholy Kisses
Part 40: “God Gave Rock & Roll to You II” (1991 Interscope single)
Part 41: ERIC CARR – Rockology (2000 EMI)
Part 42: ERIC CARR – Unfinished Business (2011 Auto Rock Records)
Part 43: Revenge (1992 Polygram)
Part 44: Alive III (1993 Polygram)
Part 45: KISS My Ass – Classic Kiss Regrooved (1994 Polygram)
GETTING MORE TALE #697: Kiss My Ass
Part 46: Toronto – Scotiabank Arena, March 20 2019
Supplemental: KISS Playing Cards
Supplemental: KISS Crocs
Part 47: KISSWorld – The Best of Kiss (2017 Mercury)

AND THERE’S STILL MORE!

72 MORE KISS REVIEWS available by clicking this link!

 

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – “It’s Me” (1994 single)

ALICE COOPER – “It’s Me” (1994 Epic single)

The Last Temptation, Alice Cooper’s acclaimed 1994 concept album, spawned a couple collectable CD singles.  Collectable, because 1) they had unreleased live B-sides, and 2) Eric Singer of Kiss played drums on them!

As far as Alice ballads go, “It’s Me” is not particularly special.  The song fits into the story of the album, but it’s musically in the same vein as the ballads from Trash and Hey Stoopid.  The mandolin is a nice touch, but Alice has more fondly remembered ballads.  “It’s Me” works best as part of the album it was written for.

The two live tracks were recorded in ’91, which actually makes Eric Singer pre-Kiss in this case.  “Poison” is stunning sounding live, but still with rich backing vocals.  The chorus of “Poison” requires several backing singers and Alice’s bands are always equipped for the job.  You can’t tell if Eric Singer is one of the vocalists, but you can easily recognise his style on the drums.  That’s him alright!  “Sick Things” is a strange one live; always has been.  Here, it is inflamed by guitarists Stef Burns and Pete Freezin’ (Freisen).

Alice’s CD singles were hard to find in the early 90s, but thanks to the internet you can get them affordably.  If you’re a Kiss collector, this is one to consider.  If not, just enjoy a snapshot of Alice live during an era that is so far undocumented by a live album.

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Just Push Play (2001 2 CD Japanese edition)

AEROSMITH – Just Push Play (2001 Sony Japan 2 CD set)

Funny thing about some pretty bad albums: sometimes the bands con you into buying them twice. They do this with bonus tracks you may need and can’t find elsewhere. Aerosmith have been guilty of this on multiple occasions. You know what they say about fools and money.

In 2001, Aerosmith did it with Just Push Play. They placed a bonus track on the European CD (“Face”), and a completely different set of bonus tracks in Japan…but excluding “Face”. As one of the looser songs on a pretty stiff album, “Face” is pretty enjoyable.  So what about Japan’s exclusive song, “Won’t Let You Down”?  Well, for one it’s heavy.  For Aerosmith, it’s really heavy.  You could picture it on a better album like Nine Lives.  Though not perfect it’s a damn fine latter-day Aerosmith track.  It just needs another hook.

“Won’t Let You Down” and its associated Joe Perry guitar wizardry is the most interesting of the bonus tracks, but that doesn’t mean the rest are not.  Though “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” is more than slightly boring today, it was Aerosmith’s biggest hit to date.  This was the first time it appeared on an Aerosmith album, and only in Japan.

The second CD has a diverse stew of bonuses.  The first is a 3:17 radio remix of “Just Push Play”.  It’s mostly a matter of making the guitar, drums and other elements more prominent in the mix.  It’s quite a bit better than the album cut, though just as silly.  You gotta wonder if anybody in the studio told Steven to try it without the rasta accent.  That’s the remix I want to hear, because the chorus is great.

Moving on to live rarities, Aerosmith included a handful of previously released tracks that weren’t necessarily already in your collection.  First up:  California Jam II.  “Same Old Song and Dance”, “Draw the Line” and “Chip Away the Stone” were all available on the various artists album California Jam II.  If you have this, you don’t need to buy that.  The year was 1978 and Aerosmith were still cooking live.  Whether it comes from youthful or chemical energy, these tracks are faster than their studio counterparts.  Rough and dirty live Aerosmith without the backing tapes and fixes:  what’s not to love?  “Draw the Line” has more…definition?…than the original.  Still, smoking so hot that Joe Perry probably melted his strings.  It’s just plain great to any live version of “Chip Away the Stone“.  Top five Aerosmith song?  Welcome to the collection.

That’s not all folks, as we stick to 1978 and the famous Texxas Jam.  “Big Ten-Inch Record” and “Lord of the Thighs” would be familiar if you own Pandora’s Box.  Strange they included two tracks that were readily available, but here they are and there’s nothing wrong with ’em.

A brief word on the album Just Push Play itself.  We’ve already reviewed it in full, so let’s not rehash.  Joe Perry’s least favourite Aerosmith albumy panders for hits in the most embarrassing ways.  Hi-tech recording and outside songwriters watered it down.  The old Tyler/Perry combination was not to be found on a single track.  The other three guys have not a single writing credit between them.  It’s a sad state of affairs.

If you’re a masochist like me, you’ll want to get this one for the bonus tracks.  If not, just stay away.

Just Push Play1/5 stars

Bonus CD – 3/5 stars

REVIEW(S): Helix – Breaking Loose, White Lace & Black Leather (2019 expanded editions)

HELIX –

  • Breaking Loose – 40th Anniversary Expanded Edition (originally 1979, 2019 Prog AOR)
  • White Lace & Black Leather – Classic Hard Rock Expanded Edition (originally 1981, 2019 Prog AOR)

Helix have really done it this year. They have a new album (Old School) made up of some pretty excellent songs that were never completed before. On top of that, you can also get brand new reissues of their first two indi albums, Breaking Loose and White Lace & Black Leather.  Those two albums have already been reviewed in full, so this time we will focus primarily on the perks of these new CD versions.

Both discs feature lyrics, rare photos, and liner notes by Brian Vollmer.  All essential things for a reissue, so what else?  Unreleased tracks, that’s what else.  Good ones!  The hell, Brian?  Where have you been hiding this stuff?  If anyone assumed thought Helix cleared the vaults with their B-Sides album, they were mistaken.  Maybe Universal should have been storing their tapes at Planet Helix….

Too soon?

Breaking Loose features “Let Me Take You Dancin'” (not the Bryan Adams song), apparently the first song they ever recorded, at the behest of manager William Seip.  You can understand why they didn’t put it out, considering the Disco revolution going around.  It’s too dance-y for what Helix wanted to be:  a rock band.  With 40 years hindsight, it’s bloody brilliant.  Full-on horn section blasting away on a blatantly commercial rock song with just a whif of surf rock.  Nothing wrong with any of that in 2019.  “Sidewalk Sally” is the very first Brent Vollmer/Brian Doerner composition and you can tell by Dr. Doerner’s trademark chunky riff.  This song is strictly outtake quality, but it’s notable for historic reasons (and the pretty advanced drumming by Brian Doerner).

The second album, White Lace & Black Leather, has two interesting bonus cuts as well.  Brent Doerner wrote and sang a killer tune called “When the Fire is Hot”, which is one of the songs submitted to Capitol that got them signed.  It’s never been released.  It’s a very unpolished demo, but with a serious stomp and stunning guitar solo.  The final bonus track is an unreleased early version of “White Lace & Black Leather”, which was re-recorded for their third album No Rest for the Wicked.  See, for the first couple Helix albums, you had to wait until the next record to get the title track!

A brief talk about the albums themselves:  both are chock full of great, unpolished youthful rock.  Helix were just learning how to make records, but they had more than enough original material.  Between the key songwriters (Paul Hackman, Brian Vollmer & Brent Doerner), they had plenty of quality songs.  “Billy Oxygen”, “I Could Never Leave”, “Here I Go Again”, “You’re a Woman Now” and “Wish I Could Be There” from the first album alone are must-haves.  Nobody should be forced to live their life without hearing “Billy Oxygen”.  The second LP was almost as great as the first.  “It’s Too Late”, “Breaking Loose”, “Mainline”, and “It’s What I Wanted” stand with the best material from the first.  Sure, the band were rough around the edges, but they could already sing, play and write.  They were goin’ places!

As for the mastering job, the music is not brickwalled like the versions of some songs on the Rock It Science CD.  These discs are the versions to get; the expanded tracklist making them musts to the collecting fan who already own them all.  Best of all, Planet Helix is offering them and the new Helix album for just 40 bucks.  40 bucks for 3 CDs is a ridiculous deal.  I daresay these two albums have been steady companions to me over the years, and I look forward to re-enjoying them in this new form.

5/5 stars for Breaking Loose

4/5 stars for White Lace & Black Leather

 

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Unplugged 1990

AEROSMITH – Unplugged 1990 (2017 Zap City broadcast CD)

When Aerosmith’s MTV Unplugged aired in Canada, we didn’t get the whole show.  We only got about half.  Now thanks to easily acquired broadcast CDs, you can get all 14 tracks in one handy place.  Because MTV were rigid about things being 100% live, you’ll get none of the annoying backing tracks that Aerosmith use today.  That makes Aerosmith Unplugged a strong contender for the best live Aerosmith purchase since Classics Live II.

“Hangman Jury” is a natural for an opener, and actually superior to the Permanent Vacation album cut.  “Monkey On My Back” is more surprising, being a heavier groove from Pump.  Deconstructed as an acoustic jam, it lays it down hard.  The first surprise of the night comes from the Air America soundtrack, to which Aerosmith contributed their Doors cover “Love Me Two Times”.  Frankly the unplugged version is better.  Tyler gets to honk on the harmonica and tear it up on the vocals a bit.

The first step back into Aerosmith’s past is 1974’s “Seasons of Wither”.  When this set was recorded in 1990, only people who owned Get Your Wings would really have known this song.  The purity of the unplugged stage is the ideal setting.  Then it’s onto 1975 and “Big Ten Inch Record”, the old R&B classic they covered on Toys in the Attic.  The album version with full horns is rearranged into an acoustic shuffle with individual guitar solos by Brad Whitford and Joe Perry.  That’s all before Thom Gimbel shows up with his sax!   This version kills.

Going even further back in time, Aerosmith pull “One Way Street” from the first album featuring a cool Perry solo.  For serious fans, “Smokestack Lightning” is a treat because Aerosmith have never recorded it before.  The oft-imitated Howlin’ Wolf cover is a natural jam for them.  They they unload the heavy artillery exactly halfway into the set:  “Dream On”.  Arguably the song everybody was waiting to hear; easily a highlight.  Playing with minimal instrumentation is a wise way to do it, though it picks up steam at the end.

“Milk Cow Blues” is rolled out next, a rarely played number from Draw the Line.  Full steam ahead just like the album version, you don’t wanna be standing on the tracks when this one rolls by.  Then, as if you’re daring them to try one that fast again, it’s “Toys in the Attic”.  Tyler and Perry’s voices blend naturally together in the unforgiving unplugged environment.

Returning once more to the first album, “Walkin’ the Dog” is the fifth of six cover tunes and the first encore.  It’s particularly cool because you get Tyler playing flute.  “Train Kept-a Rollin'” from Get Your Wings is the final cover, though presented twice:  “fast” and “slow” versions.  For a solid thrills-per-second ratio, you gotta go for the fast take.  Finally “Last Child” is announced to the excitement of one really hyped guy in the crowd.  The funky classic works surprisingly well.  A highlight from a show of nothing but highlights.

The CD had a few sonic clicks and quirks that may vary player to player.  That would be its only flaw.  Anyone buying broadcast CDs should be prepared for less than perfect audio.

4/5 stars

#760: Eliminated Headlight

GETTING MORE TALE #760: Eliminated Headlight

As children, we were told many stories of what being a kid was like in the 1940s and 50s.  The greatest toy was Mecanno.  (My dad’s Mecanno #7 set was a treasured possession.)  Movies were 12 cents on Saturdays, and you could stay as long as you like.  (Once my dad went to go see Red Rider with his pal Jerry Irwin.  He stayed for four — well, three and a half — showings.  Then his father phoned the theatre looking for him, as he was supposed to home a long time ago!  Boy did he catch hell at home!)  One thing my dad always emphasized to us was how sad he was that all his childhood toys were gone.  His little brother wrecked some, and his dad threw out the rest.  He says they’d be priceless today.  All gone; somewhere in a Guelph landfill.

When kids move away from home, they don’t take everything with them.  Things like old toys get left behind.  That’s how my dad lost all his stuff.  I had trust in him that the same wouldn’t happen to me, and my sister.  The number of times we had to hear about his lost toys, his Mecanno #7 set, and all that stuff…I assumed he wouldn’t do that to us.

I assumed incorrectly.

A few months ago my sister was over at his house, went down into the basement to look at the board games…our old childhood board games…and they were gone.

We found some of them in a storage bin, but the rest had been thrown out.  That included my copy of Chopper Strike, a turn based combat strategy game that came with intricate little pieces and a massive two-level board.  I bought it at a garage sale for a couple dollars in the early 80s.  It was complete.  The game came with an army of plastic jeeps and helicopters.  The copters had rotating blades, and the jeeps had moving anti-aircraft guns.  Lots of easily lost components.  Rare for an such an old game (1976).  We played it over and over and over again as kids.  I thought it would remain safely stored at the old house.  It cost over $50 to replace it with a complete one again (thanks, Mom).

At least my dad saved some of the obviously valuable games, like our original Star Wars and Transformers.  Everything else from Admirals to Careers ended up in the trash, lost forever.  Feeling bad, my mom bought my sister a new Careers game on Ebay (and replaced my Chopper Strike).

I thought that was it.  I thought the point was made.  I thought our possessions were safe again.

Wrong again.

Some of my old model kits are at the cottage.  The cottage is a great place to build a model.  My ZZ Top Eliminator kit has safely lived at the cottage for 30 years.  A few years ago I took it out, dusted it off, and secured a few loose pieces with glue.  The last time I saw Eliminator, it was fine.

This time, I noticed a few things on my shelves had been moved.  When I returned them to their proper places, I saw Eliminator was now a one-eyed cyclops car.  A headlight came off and was nowhere in sight.  It’s gone.  If it had simply fallen off, it would be on the shelf, next to the car.  I only had two suspects.  One of the two was more credible, while the other claims to know nothing.  I know it was my dad!

“You can always pretend it was in an accident,” said my sister.

I used to think my stuff was safe in the hands of my dad.  Now I realize I need to keep valuables far, far away from him!

Gallery: Cheap Trick, Kitchener Ontario, 6/10/2019

Dr. Kathryn saw Cheap Trick at the Centre in the Square and has returned with photographic proof.

Comments:

“Cheap Trick were great! They played for about an hour and a half straight with no encore. It was a good mix of old songs and new. There were a bunch in the middle I didn’t know. Robin Zander can still sing pretty well, but his shortcomings were very obvious when he started to sing ‘The Flame’ with just himself on guitar. When he has all the other players behind him, his voice sounds much better and you can’t hear where he’s lacking. There was an extra guitar player (Robin Zander’s son Robin Taylor Zander) in the back and Tom Petersson played a twelve string bass. Rick Nielsen threw picks into the audience and I caught three!  Looking back, I didn’t get any close ups of Robin Zander! He was right in front of me plenty.”

Setlist:

  • Hello There
  • Way of the World
  • Oh, Candy
  • Big Eyes
  • California Man (The Move cover)
  • On Top of the World
  • Stiff Competition
  • Downed
  • Ain’t That a Shame (Fats Domino cover)
  • High Roller
  • Lookin’ Out for Number One
  • Stop This Game
  • I’m Waiting for the Man (The Velvet Underground cover)
  • The Flame
  • I Want You to Want Me
  • Dream Police
  • Surrender
  • Clock Strikes Ten
  • Goodnight Now

#758: Len Mix Vol. I and II

GETTING MORE TALE #758:  Len Mix Vol. I and II

In the early 2000s, the best way to “share” music (note the quotations) was to burn a CD for your friends.

I had a customer, now friend, named Len. I knew him originally via some mutual highschool pals. I recognised him because he was in a Kiss air band when I was in grade 10.  I befriended him later on as a customer at the Record Store, and I learned more about his taste in music and his collection. We were on the same page in virtually every way musically.

Len had a neat way of tracking his music, in the days before computers made this easy. He made a black and white photocopy of every CD cover, and filed them all in order, in a huge binder with title, year and tracklist. A work intensive process I’m sure, but it benefited me tremendously as you’ll soon see.

Len loaned me the book and said “pick anything you want me to burn for you.”

I still have all the CDs Len burned for me! One was a Kiss rarities disc (we’ll look at that another time), and another was all Bon Jovi B-sides. He made me a CD copy of the first Hurricane EP with a non-vinyl bonus track. And he put a whole ton of miscellaneous songs on two CDs that I titled, obviously, Len Mix!

The title confused a few people.  I remember I had a girl over and she saw the CDs.  “Are those all songs by the band Len?”  At that point I may have realised I should have picked another title.

I made a list of songs that Len had that I wanted.  They were generally big singles from bands I liked, that I didn’t own the album.  A lot of songs I was exposed to on the Pepsi Power Hour in the 80s.

Let’s have a listen then, shall we?

LEN MIX Vol. I

Autograph’s “Loud and Clear” is a killer rocker, far less commercial than “Turn Up the Radio”.  I do have the album today (on CD), but I don’t own the Krokus that follows.  “Midnite Maniac” is still enjoyable, especially since I haven’t played it in over 10 years.  Kingdom Come’s “Get It On” is one I own a couple times over now, and I think I like it more today than I did in the beginning.  Y&T’s “Summertime Girls” is horribly cheesy, and yet so much guilty fun.  It’s bright, it’s catchy and I don’t give a fuck!  I still don’t own it properly on album.  Nor do I own “Run Runaway” by Slade, a song I have liked since I was a little kid.  I should pick up a Slade compilation, shouldn’t I?

According to MSG, “Love Is Not a Game”.  I have this one on vinyl today, but Len Mix is still my only CD copy.  Next, a very important song for your Ozzy collection.   “Close My Eyes Forever” is by Lita Ford, featuring Ozzy in a stunning duet.  Yet it may as well be an Ozzy song featuring Lita if that’s what you prefer.  You can’t get it on any of the Ozzman’s albums.  Today I have it on a Lita CD.  Then King Kobra advise us to “Never Say Die”…”Iron Eagle”, baby!  I still don’t have this album, and the song is a guilty pleasure.  Not one of King Kobra’s proudest moments.  You gotta admire that they all cut their hair for the music video, though.

I was always jealous that Len owned a four track copy of Def Leppard’s “When Love and Hate Collide” CD single. Mine only had two tracks! So I requested that Len burn me the demo version of the song that I did not yet own.

“Why Do You Think They Call It Dope?” asked Love/Hate. I ask myself why I still do not own Blackout in the Red Room!  It was rare back then, but there is no excuse today in the age of Discogs.  The Blink 182 song that follows it sticks out like a sore thumb, but I still like a lot of Blink.  Travis Barker is a tremendous drummer, and these guys wrote some great pop punk.  Then Kingdom Come are back with their tremendous ballad “What Love Can Be”, followed by the incredible British band Thunder.  They had a number of great tracks on hard to find albums.  “Low Life in High Places ” classes up the CD by several increments, but then Y&T are back to crash the party.  “Contagious”, like “Summertime Girls”, sounds a bit dated today.  Yet it’s just so damn catchy.

The next two songs are ones I have happily acquired on CD.  Actually, Keel’s “The Right to Rock” is here on LP and CD.  It’s an old classic I grew up with, and so very 1980s.  So is Aldo Nova’s “Fantasy” but in a completely different way.

Len had some extra space on the end of this CD and so threw on Axel Rudi Pell’s “Tear Down the Walls”.  I have not played this song in over a decade, but it sounds great!  Far more modern than anything else on this disc, but Len was right to add it!  Discogs tells me that the stunning lead vocal is by Johnny Gioeli of Neal Schon’s band Hardline.  Of course!

LEN MIX Vol. II

That’s it for Len Mix Vol. I.  The rest of the songs went onto Vol. II, which like Vol. I, begins explosively.  Kingdom Come had a few bangers, and “Do You Like It” is the best of them.  This one comes from their underappreciated second album In Your Face.  (Legend has it that some stores thought the band was called “Kingdom” and the album Come In Your Face, and refused to stock it.)

The next three songs in a row are ones I still need to own on CD or LP:  More Y&T, Autograph and Krokus.  So far, all the Y&T songs have been pretty weak (though catchy and fun).  “Mean Streak” is anything but weak!  Y&T’s heavy metal roots are on full display with a riffy blast.  Then it’s Autograph’s return, with the previously mentioned “Turn Up the Radio”!  This song is probably better known today then it was in the early 2000s, thanks to video games and radio nostalgia.  Krokus’ “Ballroom Blitz” cover was one that, like “School’s Out”, I grew up thinking was a Krokus original!  Fortunately in time I learned the truth.

House of Lords albums were hard to come by at the time, and back then I didn’t own any but their first.  On this CD is the ballad “Remember My Name”.  This is from the second album Sahara which I now happily have.  I don’t particularly care for this one, as it has that overly saccharine faux-romantic sound that was too common in the late 80s into 1990.  But then like a kick in the face, it’s an Udo-less Accept with “Generation Clash”!  Though David Reese’s tenure in the band was brief, this song is a triumph.  I am happy to own the oddly titled album Eat the Heat today, because this darkly sparse prowl is still ace. What a voice on Reese, who could reach for those Udo screams when necessary.

Hey mom,
Have you always followed the golden rule?
Cause this just happens to be my first love.
And that being a must – a must.
That being playin’ my guitar!

It’s hard to come down from such a peak, and unfortunately the fall is broken by an out-of-place Blink 182 song.  “All the Small Things” is such a diametrically opposed song, it’s like cold water dumped on your head!  Two older goodies are not far behind:  “Blackout in the Red Room” by Love/Hate, and the amazing acoustic ballad “Loving You” by Kingdom Come.  It’s oh-so-very Zep, but what the hell.  Zep weren’t making that sound in 1989 and there was obviously a demand for it.

The aforementioned “School’s Out” by Krokus marks their last song on this set, meaning that via Len Mix I got all the Krokus songs that I knew as a kid.  Then it’s Y&T’s final song, the ballad “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”.  It’s not one of their finest moments, but I would have requested this one because I had it on VHS but nothing else.  With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, Y&T were obviously aiming to score that “hit ballad”, but Meniketi’s always perfect voice is still a pleasure to listen to.

Thunder’s “Dirty Love” from their first album reminds me that I really need to buy some Thunder.  Then comes a band from whom I only know one song.  It’s a good’un called “You’re So Strange”, though the band had a silly name:  Kik Tracee.  Their ace in the hole was singer Stephen Shareaux.  What a set of lungs on this guy!  He was one of many who auditioned for the vacant vocalist role in Motley Crue in 1992.  Gotta wonder what kind of music they could have made with a pair of lungs like Stephen Shareaux’s.

Moving on to the end, it’s the final Autograph song “Blondes in Black Cars”.  I don’t think it’s their best moment, but I sure have a lot of childhood memories associated with the music video. I pretty much discovered what puberty was all about thanks to that video. I must have worn out that pause button.

MSG’s “Gimme Your Love” was their other single from Perfect Timing, an album I now have on LP but would like on CD for the bonus tracks.  I’m getting the feeling an Amazon order order is forthcoming.  Following MSG is a remix of “Armageddon It” by Def Leppard, from the same since-acquired single as “When Love and Hate Collide”.  At 7:44 it’s a bit much, but I’m a Def Leppard completionist.  Once again Len had a little bit of space at the end of a CD and so wisely included the brief Dokken instrumental “Without Warning”.

It’s important to note that these CDs would have taken Len a bit of time to put together for me.  Few of us kept our music on computer.  Len would have been painstakingly switching discs in and out of his computer to make these for me.  The addition of bonus tracks shows how much care he put into it.

For Len Mix Vol. I and II, I’d say the verdict is clear.  These were a blast to listen to again.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Alice Cooper – A Paranormal Evening With Alice Cooper at the Olympia Paris (2018)

ALICE COOPER – A Paranormal Evening With Alice Cooper at the Olympia Paris (2018 Edel)

You don’t so much ask if a new Alice Cooper live album is good; instead you just ask what songs are on it.

A Paranormal Evening With Alice Cooper at the Olympia Paris (what a mouth full) features “Hurricane” Nita Strauss on lead guitar, Chuck “Beasto Blanco” Garric on bass, drummer Glen Sobel, and guitarists Ryan Roxie and Tommy Henriksen.  Guys like Garric and Roxie are the veterans, but Nita Strauss is a serious focal point.  She can really shred.

The setlist spans most of Cooper’s career.  The CD even opens with “Brutal Planet”, which was the set opener back in 2000 on the Brutal Planet tour.  The industrial-tinged song is less jarring live.  From there, onto the oldies:  “No More Mr. Nice Guy”, “Under My Wheels” and “Department of Youth”.  Alice’s band are capable backing singers and they tend to focus on the melody while Alice does his schtick with character.  I won’t tell you who Alice name-drops in “Department of Youth” (remember, it used to be teen idol Donny Osmond).  That’s a surprise.

Another surprise:  the fabulous “Pain” from Flush the Fashion.  The powerful dark pop is heavier live, enriched by three guitars in harmony.  Alice can still infuse the song with suffering, even decades later.  Back to an oldie for a moment with “Billion Dollar Babies” (absolutely massive with three guitars) and then another surprise:  “The World Needs Guts”.  Very few songs from Constrictor get played live, and this one is a live album debut.  There’s a certain nostalgia now for the Kane Roberts era, and “The World Needs Guts” thrills my gorilla on this album.  Then to another niche album, 2005’s garage rock of Dirty Diamonds.  It’s an underrated gem of an album, and so “Woman of Mass Distraction” is a welcome selection, though others would have been more interesting.

“Poison” is a perennial, and here it is again representing 1989’s Trash album.  Every Cooper lineup has its own touch with it.  This one isn’t the sleekest version but it’s the most thunderous.  To cap off the first CD, it’s “Halo of Flies” from “Killer”, almost 11 minutes in length.  This is the kind of deep cut you crave, complete and unedited.  Once again, the three guitars really enrich the sound.

Another regular, “Feed My Frankenstein”, is one I could live without.  But this one is a generational song.  Fans who grew up in the early 90s remember it from Wayne’s World.  It’s the song Mrs. LeBrain sang along to in the car.  Boring to some, a highlight for others.  Then it’s back to “Cold Ethyl” from Welcome to My Nightmare, a stone-cold classic (pardon the pun) highlighting the rock and roll side of Alice.  The trade-off guitar solos are a newer twist.  From the same album comes “Only Women Bleed”, and really the only slow song in the set.  Alice doesn’t need to take it slow!

It took this long to play the one and only new song, “Paranoiac Personality“.  It’s not always like this — in the past Alice has peppered his set heavily with new material.  For whatever reason, this time the focus is on the variety.  There are new songs that will unfortunately never get the chance to shine live.  Still, it’s hard to complain, especially when the next song is “Dwight Fry”, the second epic on the album.  A medley of “Killer” and “I Love the Dead” keep that same vibe.

“I’m Eighteen” is the beginning of the end, with “School’s Out/Another Brick in the Wall” ringing the final bell.  Listen to the band introductions for something that Alice rarely does.  Take a minute and appreciate how great Alice’s band is — and always has been no matter the lineup!

A Paranormal Evening With Alice Cooper at the Olympia Paris (say that three times) comes highly recommended.  Anyone who collects Alice Cooper will find something here that they’ve wanted to hear live.  Has any artist been as great as Alice for as long as Alice?  Very few, and this album proves he’s still the one and the only.

4/5 stars