corrosion of conformity

REVIEW: Corrosion of Conformity – “Seven Days” (1995 promo single)

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – “Seven Days” (1995 Sony promo CD single)

COC’s landmark album Deliverance spawned three singles, the least known of which was “Seven Days”.  The promo CD single contains a rarity that makes it worth tracking down.  It’s not expensive, and thanks to online stores not hard to find.

Deliverance is a heavy album even with a few slower songs on board.  “Seven Days” is one such track.  A slow, heavy dirge can often make for a good single.  This CD has two versions, the full-length album cut and a shorter single edit with a truncated fade-out.

The special track here is a “jam box tape” of “Fuel”, a track that was as yet unreleased.  COC recorded it properly for their next album, Wiseblood.  This early version is an identical arrangement, but way way more ragged.  Pepper sounds like James Hetfield on this one, but it has far more balls than the Metallica song of the same name.  Total smokeshow.  This is the proverbial “song you buy the single for.”

3.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Corrosion of Conformity – Deliverance (1994)

CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – Deliverance (1994 Sony)

Gre-ea-easy!  That’s how the molton hot guitars sound on this landmark album.  Greasy, in the most complimentary way.  Six-stringers Woody Weatherman and Pepper Keenan have a way of making their guitar licks sound slippery and heavy at the same time.

Corrosion of Conformity (“COC”) did something really smart when they set out to record this album.  After the departure of bassist Phil Swisher and singer Karl Agell (who both turned up later in Leadfoot), they promoted Pepper Keenan to lead vocals, and brought back founding member Mike Dean on bass.  Pepper scored a hit for COC last time out with a lead vocal on “Vote With a Bullet”, so it was a logical move.  As for Mike Dean, his punk roots and busy bass are important to the sound of this band.  Dean was also COC’s vocalist from time to time in the past, and gets a lead vocal once again on the title track.

The resulting album Deliverance is 14 tracks (give or take an instrumental or two) of heavy, dirty metal they way they make it in Raleigh, North Carolina.  Pepper’s vocals lent them a southern edge.  Metallica are fans — Pep auditioned for them on bass when Newsted left the band.  (What a sound Metallica could have had, with James Hetfield backed up by Pepper Keenan on vocals!)

Regardless of who’s singing or playing, COC nailed all 14 songs.  None of the proverbial “filler”.  This is one hell of a trip, an album that demands to be listened to from start to finish, no skipping.  John Custer’s crisp and chunky production brought out the metal side more than ever.


“Help me Jesus, help me clean my wounds. He said he cannot heal that kind.”

Check out the choppy riff on the single “Clean My Wounds”.  The song is a tour-de-force, a textbook example of all the right ingredients.  The riff is outstanding, but the verse and chorus melodies slay.  Drummer Reed Mullin has a spare groove, but he knows exactly when to accent it with some heavy hitting.  The multi-tracked vocal in the chorus (“Knock it down!”) is the perfect fit, but the Lizzy-ish guitar solos are an additional layer of perfection.

Another key track, “Albatross” is too heavy to be a ballad so let’s call it a dirge.  You can hear what Mike Dean brings to the table — a slinky, Geezer style of bass that provides subliminal melody.  “Albatross” flies on the wings of a strong melody and heavy performance.  It has a vibe similar to “Outshined” by Soundgarden but more mournful.

The aforementioned instrumentals are integral parts of the album.  Remember how a Black Sabbath album had key instrumental bits, usually introducing another song?  That’s what COC do here.  “Without Wings”, a dark acoustic guitar figure, leads into the heavy-as-fuck “Broken Man” exactly like a Sabbath song.  Later on, “#2121313”, an electric guitar piece, is joined directly onto “My Grain”.  “Mano de Mono”, another acoustic piece, is basically the front end of “Seven Days”, a mid-paced groove single.

Speaking of “My Grain”, it’s the most punk rock track, but even so it features a kickass bass solo!  Other noteworthy tracks include the wah-wah inflected title track (Mike Dean on vocals).  Jittery, jumpy riffs dominate “Señor Limpio”, another blistering blitz.  Finally there is “Pearls Before Swine”, the slowest and bluesiest of the tracks and a seriously heavy closer.

Corrosion of Conformity have made some good (albeit very different) albums over the years, but like many bands they have a clear peak.  That is Deliverance, the one perfect album they made.

5/5 stars

R.I.P. Reed Mullin (Corrosion of Conformity)

An incredible drummer from an incredible band, Reed Mullin had his demons.  Alcohol took him down, like so many before him.  Mullin, a founding member of Corrosion of Conformity, will be remembered by his rich hardcore and heavy metal discography.

In recent years as alcohol took its toll, Reed was absent from some COC performances and suffered a seizure in 2016. It was not looking good for the rock warrior, and now we know his particular battle has been lost.

Mullin drummed on one of my personal favourite albums, Deliverance, one of the best rock records of the 1990s.  From that album, here is “Albatross”.  Rest in peace Reed.

REVIEW: From Our Crypt to Your Crib – Various Artists (1992 promo cassette)

FROM OUR CRYPT TO YOUR CRIB – (1992 Sony promo cassette)

I used to love getting promo cassettes in the mail.  Occasionally they’d just come free with my month issue of M.E.A.T Magazine, like this one did.  In other cases I requested a free sampler.  They were usually pretty diverse collections.  From Our Crypt to Your Crib is a collection from Sony subsidiaries Relativity and Earache.  Heavy stuff!

Two new Corrosion of Conformity tracks lead it off:  “Dance of the Dead” and “Vote With a Bullet”.  The year was 1992 and that means Karl Agell was the lead singer of C.O.C., but Pepper Keenan sang on “Vote With a Bullet”.  The underrated punk/metal band were definitely more on the metal side by ’92.  Both tunes are aggressive rockers with wicked solos and musicianship, but the grungy “Vote With a Bullet” sounded more current.  What a riff!

Also playing musical chairs with lead singers:  Sweden’s Shotgun Messiah!  Original singer Zinny Zan departed and bassist Tim Skold took over the frontman position.  “Heartbreak Blvd.” is a fantastic, slick example of sleazy hard rock gone right!  Harry K. Cody had a good handle on writing a catchy guitar hook.  Their non-wimpy ballad “Living Without You” is a snot-nosed lament rather than a goofy love song.  “If there’s a tear in my eye, it’s not for you, don’t lie to yourself.”

It’s full-on punk next with Murphy’s Law and their comedic take on “Ebony & Ivory”.  This pales in comparison to the true heaviness of Death with “Lack of Comprehension”.  So progressive, so brutal, so ahead of its time.  Their ’91 album Human was a giant evolutionary step for the genre and you can hear why on this track.

Flipping the tape over, the heaviness continues with thrash giants Exodus.  It’s the live version of “Brain Dead” from Good Friendly Violent Fun.  John Tempesta on drums, Steve “Zetro” Souza on vocals — primo Exodus.  It’s a simply slamming affair.  The metal continues with Carcass (“Incarcerated Solvent Abuse”) and holy shit is it heavy!  It stomps rather than speeds…except when it goes breakneck!

Cathedral are up next with their unique brand of Sabbath-influenced metal.  Gutteral Lee Dorian is the stuff of nightmares.  “Condemned” by Confessor is sharp and heavy, but the high pitched “Geddy Lee on acid” vocals are offputting…if not downright hypnotic.  The pendulum swings back to punk on “Over the Edge” by Agnostic Front.  Asses are kicked all over the house, with precision!  Finally we return to Sweden.  It’s Entombed and “Living Dead”, and by now you are completely deaf, beaten and bruised.

Not bad for a free tape, eh?

3.5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Cry of Love – Brother (1993)

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CRY OF LOVE – Brother (1993 Sony)

He wasn’t in the Black Crowes for their heyday, but fans unfamiliar with Cry of Love may remember Audley Freed as the Crowes’ second guitar player, from By Your Side to their first breakup. Upon hearing this CD, his debut album with Cry Of Love, you will understand why the Crowes tapped him to replace Marc Ford.  I loved this album so much that I place it on my “Most Unrightfully Ignored Albums of the 1990s” list, with the comment that “Audley Freed plays his Fenders like bluesy butter.”

In 1993, I fully hoped and partly expected Cry of Love and Brother Cane to end the domination of grunge rock, hand in hand!

Cry Of Love not only had the awesome, tubey guitar sounds of Freed but also (for this album, anyway) an excellent little known singer named Kelly Holland. Sounding like a cross between Chris Robinson and Joe Lynn Turner, Holland had pipes to spare and knew how to use them with soul.  What a powerful throat.  At the time I used to say, “If only I could sing like Kelly Holland or Joe Lynn Turner!”  I only discovered while writing this review that Holland died last year at age 52.  Hard living and alcohol took their toll on a singer who never achieved the fame that he had potential for.

Hopefully Mr. Holland was very proud of the one album he made with the band.  Every track on this album is a live-sounding standout, with very few audible overdubs. Production by John Custer (Corrosion of Conformity from their hometime of Raleigh, North Carolina) is spot on.  With a bluesy band like this, you want clear and crisp, yet with the illusion of a live rehearsal.  The album delivers on that, with the power one expects from a modern recording. The guitar tones in particular are stunning. With a chilly, round, and natural sound, Freed proved that in the 90’s you didn’t have to downtune.

There are a lot of favourites on Brother.  The first single “Peace Pipe” was killer.  I can’t get enough of that bopping bass line and irresistible chorus.  The second single “Bad Thing” wasn’t bad either, but the opener “Highway Jones” was really awesome.  It has a blurringly fast blues riff that just stuns.  On the mellow side of the blues, there is the soulful (and mournful) “Carnival”.  Excellent lyrics on that one too.  I saw them perform it acoustically on MuchMusic in the 1990’s.  Still have that on VHS tape, too.  Then there’s “Too Cold In The Winter”, which makes use of Freed’s chilly tone to full effect. You will have your own favourites, but I think “Peace Pipe” will grab you no matter who you are.

After this album, Holland departed to be replaced by Robert Mason (Lynch Mob, currently in Warrant) on the second album, Diamonds and Debris, which destroyed half of what made this band unique. While they still had Freed, it’s just rare to hear a singer of Holland’s caliber, and Mason is just a tad generic. At least at that phase of his career.  That album isn’t nearly as memorable as Brother.

So: Brother, an excellent lost gem of an album, may be relegated to the footnotes of the Black Crowes’ biography. It’s a shame, because I think it’s up there with some of the best albums the Crowes have never done. Of note: I also own two CD singles, for “Bad Thing” and “Peace Pipe”, which also had two non-album studio tracks on it.   Those, and some live cuts on “Bad Thing” are worth checking out if you crave more of the original Cry of Love.  I’ll review those another day.  Rest in Peace Kelly Holland.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Leadfoot – Bring It On (1997)

LEADFOOT – Bring It On (1997 TMC)

This band was first brought to my attention courtesy of Tom Morwood.  Leadfoot might be considered a spinoff band from Corrosion of Confirmity.  Bassist Phil Swisher and vocalist Karl Agell were members on the critically acclaimed Blind album by that band.  Leadfoot has a similar kind of appeal.  It has groove, balls, guitars and no bullshit.  Bring It On is their debut.

One major issue with Bring It On is one common to so many records.  It features a strong, memorable and overall top drawer first side, leading into a dull and monotonous second side.  Too bad, because side one is really, really good.  The title track for example has all the qualities I like in stoner rock:  groove, howlin’ vocals, enough melody to get me by, and gutsy memorable guitars.  The drums have some swing to them, the guitars have a southern flavour, and the lyrics are cool and defiant.  “Bring It On” indeed.

Other standouts:

  • “Soul Full of Lies”, throwing some snaky guitars down.
  • “High Time”, my favourite.  It starts with a “Radar Love” vibe, but then goes sludgy awesome.
  • “Roll All Over You”, an AC/DC-meets-Danzig prowler.
  • “Right Between the Eyes”, just an assault of bass and groove.  Aptly named.
  • “Ripe”, my other favourite.  This is just melodic singalong rock, though I have no idea what the lyrics are about.
  • “Sooner”, a relentless battering of drums and chords.
  • “Under the Sun”, which has a superficial resemblence to “Supernaut” by Black Sabbath.

And it’s pretty much downhill from there.  There’s nothing overtly wrong with the rest, just nothing overly special or memorable either.  At least in comparison to the far superior first half of the album.

3/5 stars

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Part 312.5: Coming to a Close – Poll Results

POLL

RECORD STORE TALES Part 312.5:  Coming to a Close – Poll Results

A few days ago I made the announcement that I will be drawing the Record Store Tales to a close soon.   It was inevitable that eventually I’d run out of good stories to tell. However I like to write so much more than just album reviews. When the Record Store Tales are concluded with the proper ending, I want to continue the storytelling. Music and retail will remain the main focus, it’ll just be from the other side of the counter.

I asked you for your suggestions for a new title for these “Post-Record Store Tales” (for which I have already been coming up with cool shit). And boy, did you deliver! Inundated with great suggestions, the problem became choosing just one.

So, I chose more than one.

Yes, a name has been selected for the “Post-Record Store Tales”, and it is an amalgam of multiple submissions. I hope you like it. I’ll reveal it when the new saga of stories begins. Until then, hang on tight. I’m currently finishing up the last few Record Store Tales, before the epic ending which will be a multi-part series. Wanna know how it all ends? Check back soon.

Cheers,
LeBrain

The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale

My thoughts are with those in Boston tonight.
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Yesterday, T-Rev, Wes and I attended the  The Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale.  T-Rev went specifically hoping to find Ogden’s Nut Gone Flake by the Small Faces, on vinyl, with the original round cover in displayable condition.  He came home with that record for the price of $30.

I hit paydirt.  I came with $200 and I left with $0 (there was a $5 entrance fee).  I also left with seven (7!!!) Japanese import rock albums all with bonus tracks, five 12″ records, a 7″ single, and a rare book.  Today I’ll show you the CDs, which I am most excited about!  You can see the rest another day.

You can’t find Japanese imports anymore around here.  And many of these are long out of print.  I’ve been looking for the Pistols’ Filthy Lucre Live since 1996.  Blackmore’s Rainbow is one that I’d seen before.  The HMV store at Fairview Mall in Kitchener had one…in 1995.  Rob Vuckovich used to try to goad me into buying it, but I couldn’t pay the $50 price tag for just one bonus track.  $15 though?  With obi strip intact?  Hell yeah!

So here’s the list of Japanese imports and what I paid.  I believe most of these have to be half of retail.

HAREM SCAREM – Live at the Gods.  This is a Japanese exclusive live album.  I paid $20, sealed.
SEX PISTOLS – Filthy Lucre Live.  I’ve been waiting a long time.  I love this album.  Two bonus tracks:  “Buddies” (“Bodies”) and “No Fun”.
SCORPIONS – Face the Heat.  I paid $15, for 2 wimpy bonus tracks called “Kami O Shin Jiru” and “Daddy’s Girl”.  Both are ballads, but for $15, no bother!
IAN GILLAN – Gillan’s Inn.  This one was a bit more expensive:  $30, because it had the DVD (that won’t play in this region).  But it also has the bonus track “Eternity” that isn’t even on the Tour Edition.
CORROSION OF CONFORMITY – Wiseblood.  I paid $20, has the bonus track “The Land of Free Disease”.
RAINBOW – Stranger In Us All.  Bonus track: “Emotional Crime”.  Paid $15.
WHITESNAKE – Good To Be Bad.  Paid $20, sealed.  Two bonus tracks:  “All For Love (Alt mix/Doug solo)” and “Summer Rain (Unzipped)”.

Most Unrightfully Ignored Albums of the 1990s – LeBrain’s List Part 3

In alphabetical order, here’s Part 3:  88 albums that meant the world to me in the 1990′s but never got the respect I felt they deserved.  

King’s X – Faith Hope Love (most KX discs didn’t get the attention they deserved!)
King’s X – Dogman
King’s X – Ear Candy
King’s X – Tape Head
Kiss – Carnival of Souls (while you can’t argue it wasn’t a sellout, it sure wasn’t wimpy!)
Leadfoot – Bring It On (Karl Agell and Phil Swisher ex-COC)
Marillion – Brave (what a brave, brave album)
Marillion – Radiation (a lot of people don’t like this one, but I consider it a highlight for them)
Duff McKagan – Believe In Me (diverse, fun and pissed off)
Kim Mitchell – Aural Fixations (a little soft, but Kim in the 1990’s was scarce indeed)
Kim Mitchell – Kimosabe
Motley Crue – Motley Crue (they were better without Vince, honestly)
Vince Neil – Exposed (…and Vince wasn’t doing too badly himself)
Ozzy Osbourne – Ozzmosis (it sold by the buckets, but I think today it’s ignored which is a shame)
Poison – Native Tongue (Ritchie Kotzen took them to a new level of maturity and virtuosity)

Pride & Glory – Pride & Glory (Zakk Wykde’s first album without Ozzy, and one of the best)
Queen – Innuendo (in North America, most of what Queen did went ignored before Freddie passed)
Queensryche – Promised Land (spacey and mature)
Queensryche – Q2k (riffy)
Quiet Riot – Terrified (the only thing they’ve done since the 80’s worth playing)
David Lee Roth – Your Filthy Little Mouth (I didn’t need to hear Dave do reggae but it ain’t bad)
David Lee Roth – DLR Band (John 5 on lead guitar…crank it up)

Most Unrightfully Ignored Albums of the 1990s – LeBrain’s List Part 1

In alphabetical order, here’s Part 1:  88 albums that meant the world to me in the 1990’s but never got the respect I felt they deserved.  When appropriate, I’ll pop in with comments.  Part 1!  Enjoy!

  • Aerosmith – Nine Lives (better than Get A Grip)
  • Armored Saint – Symbol of Salvation (John Bush lead vocals, nuff said)
  • Barstool Prophets – Last of the Big Game Hunters (from Ottawa Ontario Canada, great album)
  • Big House – Big House (from Edmonton Alberta, long forgotten hard rock classic)
  • The Black Crowes – Amorica (my favourite)
  • Black Sabbath – Cross Purposes (bleak gooder from the Martin-era Sabs)
  • Blue Rodeo – Nowhere To Here (psychedelically delicious)
  • Blue Rodeo – Tremelo (acoustically psychedelically delicious)
  • Bon Jovi – These Days (their most mature albeit darkest work to date)

  • Gilby Clarke – Pawnshop Guitars (the all time best GN’R solo album)
  • Alice Cooper – The Last Temptation (fans love it in hindsight, but it sold poorly in 1994)
  • Corrosion of Conformity – Deliverance (I was hooked upon hearing “Clean My Wounds”)
  • Coverdale Page – Coverdale Page (unrightfully ignored? well, most just disrespected)
  • Cry of Love – Brother (guitarist Audley Freed plays his Fenders like bluesy butter)
  • Deep Purple – Slaves & Masters (I have a soft spot for this ballady Deep Rainbow disc)
  • Deep Purple – The Battle Rages On (there are some strong forgotten tracks here)
  • Deep Purple – Purpendicular (one of the best records of their career)
  • Def Leppard – Slang (ditto)
  • Bruce Dickinson – Balls To Picasso (I believe I’ve discussed these enough in my in-depth reviews)
  • Bruce Dickinson – Accident of Birth 
  • Bruce Dickinson – The Chemical Wedding
  • Dio – Strange Highways (it took a while to grow on me, but at the time it was criminally ignored)

Part 2 of 4 coming tomorrow…