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#474: Vertigo Records in Ottawa Ontario

Last weekend, Aaron went record shopping in Toronto while I did the same in Ottawa. Check out his post too, and see what we scored!

GETTING MORE TALE #474: Vertigo Records in Ottawa Ontario

Something very special happened on March 24, 1956.  On that day, Clifford Michael Woodhouse married young Jean, the light of his life, and they began a large and loving family.  Clifford, known as Mike, was a radar operator in the CF (Canadian Forces).  As such he and his family lived in many parts of the world at many times.  According to his son Richard, who also served in the CF:  “During the height of the Cold War he was a Radar operator, working on what was known as the Pine Line, where he monitored and collected information on the movement and position of threats to the Canadian Forces and to Canadian sovereignty.”  He was also involved in classified projects, but I can’t talk about that, or he’ll have to shoot me.

Sgt. Woodhouse ultimately settled in Ottawa after stops in France and Gander, Newfoundland.  He retired in Ottawa where he and Jean still live today.  I am lucky to have married his beautiful grand-daughter Jennifer.

A 60th wedding anniversary is a big deal.  Did you know that couples who are citizens of the British empire (including Canadians) can receive a letter from Queen Elizabeth II for their 60th anniversary?  The diamond Woodhouse anniversary celebration (held on Sunday the 20th) was not an event we were likely to miss, so Jen and I climbed aboard a train and headed east to our nation’s capital.

We stayed in the Novotel (good experience; recommended) which was a block or two away from a store called Vertigo Records.  Brilliant.  First excursion solved!  We’ll get there eventually (I promise), but lemme tell you, I’ve never been in a Hummer limo before.  Jen’s cousin Missy arranged this beast of a vehicle, 18 feet in length, and just a pleasure to ride in.  (So screw the environment I guess; I rode in a Hummer limo and enjoyed it!)  There were 14 of us inside that Hummer, including Mike and Jean, two of their kids, three of their grand-kids, and FIVE of their SIX great-grandchildren!  How incredible is that?  Even more met us at the Keg Manor; a large and incredible group of people.

During the celebration, the lucky couple were presented a number of precious documents in honour of their achievement.  The letter from the Queen was perhaps even overshadowed by a personal letter from the Right Honourable Steven Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada.  Family member Chris acquired this by writing to the office of Mr. Harper, who was kind enough to send a signed letter in response.  There was also a letter from David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and direct representative of the Queen in this country.

Jennifer has a great family in Ottawa and I can’t wait to return to the city, in warmer weather.  It was bitter cold that weekend, windy and unpleasant to walk in for a long period of time.  As such we didn’t go far in distance from our hotel.  I did find this interesting place that I might have to check out next time.*  It was situated beside a couple tattoo shops.  Hey, it says it’s FREE, right?

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Vertigo Records (193 Rideau St, (613)-241-1011) is an inviting and cool store selling new and used CDs, vinyl and even cassettes.  They had a copy of Metallica’s tape-only No Life ‘Til Leather, sealed for $25.  Even cooler, they had a signed Motorhead drum head (not for sale).   We arrived shortly after they opened and there were already customers browsing.  They had a lot of stock and they were putting out plenty of new stuff as I was there.  There were a number that struck my eye.

Should I have bought Goblin Cock?

Should I have bought Goblin Cock?

 

One of the first discs I noticed was Yngwie Malmsteen’s Live in Leningrad, which I have wanted for a long time but never had.  Vertigo had a good variety of tunes in rotation over the speakers, including some Motley Crue.  Maybe that’s what inspired me to pick up the double Live – Entertainment or Death.  I’ve seen a lot of copies of it in the past in just wrecked condition, so not remembering if I owned it or not, I picked this one up.  I did own it already.  So this one goes into the Aaron pile.**  In the new arrivals bin, I saw Robert Pollard/Doug Gillard’s Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department.  I wasn’t certain if he owned it or not, so for only $6.99 it was better safe than sorry.   He does have it, so I’ll keep it.  He tells me I won’t be disappointed with it anyway, because Gillard is a guitar hero of his and I should be in for a treat.

Speaking of Aaron, he has some Deep Purple castaways coming his way.  When I saw these lovely Japanese reissues in mint, complete condition for only $14.99 each, it was all but a no-brainer to pick them up.  There are Russian forgeries on the market, but these are the genuine article from Japan.  I’m very pleased to add these to my collection and pass down my old copies to the next generation of Purple fanatics.*** And lo! More Japanese treasures were to be found! Complete with obi strip was some rare Rage Against the Machine.  I have a brief story about this CD, that was too short to make it into Record Store Tales*^ but fine for an anecdote here.

One of the few guys that actually worked at the old Record Store before me was this guy Dave.  There was the owner, his brother, two guys named Craig and Dave, and then me.  A bit later on, Dave went to Japan but kept in touch via snail mail (back then, we just called it “mail”).  I will never forget that he sent us a letter to the store, almost taunting us with rare CDs that he found in Japan.  He mailed us the obi strips for Nirvana’s Hormoaning and a Rage Against Machine CD called Live & Rare.  “Ever seen these before?” read part of the letter.  Hormoaning yes, Rage no.   I never saw it again either, until Vertigo Records.  $12.99, obi strip intact.  Dave doesn’t even have his own obi strip anymore!

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Moving on, some classic rock finds were hard to turn down.  Cream Gold ($8.99 for 2 CDs!) and Jethro Tull’s Living With the Past ($6.99) came home with me to Kitchener.  I have the Tull DVD of the same name, and it’s excellent.  And Cream?  This is my first Cream purchase.  This is something I’m glad to have fixed in my collection.

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I love me some Fu Manchu, but I missed We Must Obey the first time out.  Brant Bjork’s Punk Rock Guilt also slipped past me.  Not this time!  $7.99 each.

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Finally, I could not safely bring home a lot of vinyl on the train, so I didn’t go nuts on it.  I saw some cool stuff, believe me, and I was considering getting some Kiss solo album reissues.  I bought one 45, which was “The Devil Stole the Beat from the Lord” by the Hellacopters, taken from their Kiss-like LP Grande Rock.  The single contains two non-album B-sides:  “Holiday Cramps” and “Be Not Content”.  The devil-dragster cover art probably made Rob Zombie cry tears of jealousy.

The guy behind the counter gave me the 45 for free.  “Because you’re buying so much,” he said.  What a pleasant surprise.  That was awesome.  I guess he didn’t know who I was*^^ and that I like to do this whenever I can!  We had a brief chat while he carefully put the discs and inserts in the cases.  We marveled at the folks out there who actually throw away CD packaging.  Why would anybody do such a thing?  I will truly never understand.

It was such a pleasure being in Ottawa that weekend, windy cold weather aside.  We will definitely return, and stay longer so as to check out some of the other record stores in town.  Vertigo Records is a must, a highly recommended store that I would rank as highly as my favourite Toronto record stores.

5/5 stars.

And thank you to C. Michael Woodhouse for your hospitality and for everything you have done for this country.

Mike “LeBrain” Ladano

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*I’m kidding!  I’m kidding!

**I have a lot of stuff here that I should really mail out to the friends I promised I would mail them out to.

***Hopefully Aaron and his kids.

*^Have you been reading Record Store Tales?  If not, please click here.

*^^I’ve always wanted to say to somebody, “Do you know who I am?” and then whip out my mikeladano.com cards as if I’m actually somebody.

 

 

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MOVIE REVIEW: Beware of Mr. Baker (2012)

“He influenced me as a drummer, but not a person.” – Simon Kirke, Bad Company

BEWARE OF MR. BAKER (2012 SnagFilms)

Directed by Jay Bulger

Cream.  Graham Bond.  Fela Kuti.  Blind Faith.  Masters of Reality.  The resume is one of the most impressive for any drummer of any genre.  It belongs to the one and only Ginger Baker, a phenomenon of a man, a loose cannon, and a rhythmic genius.  As you might guess, a documentary based on this wildman prodigy had to be tour de force.

From the start, you know this is not going to be your typical love-fest documentary.  It begins at the end, with Ginger Baker assaulting director Jay Bulger with his cane, cracking his nose over the issue of who else might appear in this film.  Indeed, Ginger was not happy about some people the director was interviewing, perhaps his ex-wives and arch nemesis but brilliant bandmate Jack Bruce (RIP).

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The bloodied director Jay Bulger

Bruce is one of many associates interviewed.  Bill Ward, Chad Smith, Neil Peart, Charlie Watts, Eric Clapton, Chris Goss and many more praise the drummer’s abilities.  His skill seemed to earn Baker many a free pass over the years, for his quick temper.  Poor Eric Clapton thought he was free of the fiery drummer with the end of Cream, but then Ginger joined his new band Blind Faith!  In this film, Baker seems like an incredibly difficult individual.  He barks at the director many times over questions he doesn’t like.  He’s purposely difficult.  Living a faraway life on a ranch in South Africa, Ginger Baker had isolated himself from his past.  It is a recurring theme in his life.  When things got tough, or when he went flat broke, he has always uprooted and gone elsewhere, starting over fresh.  Baker never had it easy, losing his dad in World War II when he was only four.

The constant uprooting and starting anew took its toll on Baker and his family.  While living in California in the early 90’s with his third wife, he hooked up with Masters of Reality for their landmark second album, Sunrise on the Sufferbus.  Though it was a good experience musically, Baker couldn’t hack starting over this time.  Opening for Alice in Chains, the drummer was pelted with crap by grunge fans that had no idea who the legend Ginger Baker even was.  The union did not last and Baker was off again to start over once more.

Through the mess that was his life, Ginger Baker was always one of the most brilliant drummers on the stage.  More a jazz drummer who played heavy, Baker learned to move all four limbs independently which created an illusion of a blur of speed.  He wasn’t physically moving as fast as it sounds, but the end result was a unique sound in rock that nobody else copied.  Jazz drummer Phil Seaman introduced him to African rhythms which led to a life-long quest.  Baker lived in Africa more than once, absorbing the local rhythms and playing with Fela Kuti, learning all he could from the birthplace of the drum.

Johnny Rotten, with whom Baker played in P.I.L., praised the drummer regardless of his personal shortfalls.  Whatever his personality might be, it is what was necessary for Baker to perfect his craft, argues Rotten.  The ends justify the means.  He could not have been Ginger Baker, if he was not Ginger Baker.  A very punk-like attitude.  Whoever Baker bruised and bloodied, the higher goal of rhythmic transcendence was achieved, and could not have been achieved if he was a different person.  That’s the way Johnny Rotten sees it, and since nobody can change the past, that’s a good way of looking at it.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Ozzy Osbourne – Under Cover (2005 Japanese import)

Purchased this year at the Toronto Musical Collectibles Record & CD Sale.

OZZY OSBOURNE – Under Cover (2005 Japanese CD/DVD set)

I want to know who thought this album was a good idea to release.  Sure, we know Ozzy will do pretty much anything.  He even appeared on a tribute album to Black Sabbath (Nativity In Black Vol. 2).  So why not have Ozzy cover a bunch of songs that, by and large, the world didn’t need him to cover?

“SHARON!”

I’ve never thought much of this album, and I think you can gather why on the first track “Rocky Mountain Way” (Joe Walsh).  Why did this song need to be redone, metalized, and howled upon by Ozzy Osbourne?  It’s awful.  The female backing vocals are totally out of place, the changes made to song are unnecessary, and the vocal is stale.  The only positive thing I will say is that Jerry Cantrell (Alice in Chains) plays on Under Cover, and he’s the only thing redeeming it.  His slide and talk box solos on “Rocky Mountain Way” are swampy and great.

Whether Ozzy covers the Beatles (a pukey echo-drenched “In My Life) or Cream (“Sunshine of Your Love”) or the Stones (“Sympathy for the Devil”), nothing of value is added to the song.  It’s assembly line rock.  There are no innovations or interesting slants.  “Sunshine of Your Love” is altered to resemble Sabbath’s “N.I.B.” which doesn’t help matters at all.  Ozzy even does two solo John Lennon songs (“Woman” and “Working Class Hero”).  I get that Ozzy has a connection to the lyrics to “Working Class Hero” and is a huge fan of Lennon.  That doesn’t mean he should try doing his own version.  Most songs don’t benefit from being metalized.  I’ve even heard a good metalized cover of “21st Century Schizoid Man” better than Ozzy’s.

Best tune (only good tune):  “Fire” originally by the Crazy World of Arthur Brown.

OZZY UNDER COVER_0003Special guests: Leslie West plays some smokin’ axe on the cover of his own “Mississippi Queen”.  Ian Hunter joins Ozzy on “All the Young Dudes” but doesn’t do much other than shout along.  Others such as Gregg Bissonnette (David Lee Roth) and Joe Bonamassa are credited on the album, with no indication of what they did on which tracks.  Maybe Bissonnette was hired solely to play cowbell.  Who knows?

The final rip off to fans is that almost all of Under Cover was previously released on Ozzy’s Prince of Darkness box set earlier that year!  Many Ozzy fans such as myself picked that one up for its numerous long-sought rarities.    When Under Cover was released as its own album, four new recordings were added to make you buy it again: “Rocky Mountain Way”, “Sunshine of Your Love”, “Woman”, and “Go Now”. If you have Prince of Darkness, then you already own over 75% of Under Cover.

The Japanese bonus track was daughter Kelly Osbourne’s cover of Black Sabbath’s ballad “Changes”, with dear old dad singing with her, and lyrics adapted to suit.  If you were one of those (I hope not) who bought Kelly’s 2002 album Shut Up, then you already have this.  But like most Ozzy fans, I already have this song on the Prince of Darkness set.  This version also comes with a bonus  region 2 DVD: the music video for “In My Life” (whoop-de-do) and a long (about 45 minutes I think) feature called “Dinner with Ozzy and Friends”.  You might recognize a couple of these friends.  Road stories are shared, the funniest ones involving Ozzy being mistaken for Meat Loaf, and Lemmy for Willie Nelson.  And there’s the infamous story of Zakk Wylde and a cork.  Finally, the two sided DVD also has the entire album in “enhanced stereo”.

1/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Inglewood (Live at Inglewood 1968)

This review comes by official request of the one, the only, the Scottish Heavy Metal OverloRd!

DEEP PURPLE: Inglewood (2002 Purple Records/Sonic Zoom)
Re-released in 2009 as Live at Inglewood 1968

Most casual rock fans think of Deep Purple Mk II when they think of this band: Gillan, Glover, Blackmore, Lord, and Paice. Before that classic lineup formed in late 1969, the prototypical Deep Purple Mk I recorded three studio albums.  One of which (1969’s Deep Purple) is truly an excellent piece of work

INGLEWOOD_0005Deep Purple Mk I consisted of lead vocalist Rod Evans (later of Captain Beyond), bassist Nicky Simper (later of Warhorse) and of course Richie Blackmore, Jon Lord, and Ian Paice. They were more of a psychedelic hippy jam band than the heavy rock band that would record In Rock and Machine Head, and Made in Japan. As such, their live shows lack the ferociousness you’re used to. Having said that, this is an important historical document. It is bootleg quality, recorded in mono, but this is also the only live album of the Deep Purple Mk I years.

Track listing:  1.”Hush”, 2.”Kentucky Woman”, 3.”Mandrake Root”, 4.”Help”, 5.”Wring That Neck”, 6.”River Deep, Mountain High”, 7.”Hey Joe”.  Seven numbers.   Purple were the opening band for Cream that night. Purple’s setlist is mostly covers, with only two originals!  Cream were recording that night, and part of their set the following day ended up on Goodbye.  No audio tapes of Deep Purple survived, if they were recorded at all.  That this CD exists is a miracle of sorts.  It is actually from a video (not film) recording of the night.  They were experimenting with a new video camera and were trying out various angles on Purple’s set.  The tape sat for decades and degraded so badly that the video was a mere grey fog…but the audio portion survived.  This CD is the result, and it is actually a complete recording of the Deep Purple set.  No songs went unrecorded.

Blackmore was still playing a Gibson, so his guitar sound is still prototypical, beefy and out of control. Evans was no Ian Gillan, preferring to croon.  Most of the songs are long meandering jams.  While Deep Purple were excellent as musicians even back then, their jams only occasionally rise to the electricity they are now known and remembered for.  They had only been together nine months.

Opening with “Hush”, they sound a bit restrained compared to the more kinetic album version.  Rod and Richie provide some flash, but it’s a bit sluggish.  “Kentucky Woman” is more action packed, and during Jon’s organ solo, for a moment — just a second — you can hear a hint of the future of “Highway Star” emerge between he and Ian Paice.  “Mandrake Root” is an original, but for long stretches all you can make out is crashes and bangs of various things on various instruments.

I like Rod Evans’ understated introduction to “Wring that Neck”:  “It features once again our guitarist, who is…to my mind ’cause I play with him, one of the greatest guitarists I’ve ever played with.  True!  He’s not bad, for a young’un.”  Once Blackmore is in tune, he proves the flattery was justified.  He’s obviously much more comfortable on something like this.  I enjoy his bouncing, teasing solo.  It is an antecedent of his style later on.

INGLEWOOD_0004Jon asks the crowd if they’ve seen 2001; the mild clapping indicates that some have.  The band crash into an organ-dominated version of “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” before jamming into “River Deep, Mountain High”.  A workable version unfolds, and then the band close with a surprisingly emphatic “Hey Joe”.

For its sonic issues (dips in volume and the like) and sometimes sluggish set, this is still buried treasure. There are a few Mk I live BBC sessions available on Purple remasters and box sets; but this is it, the only complete live show released thus far.  Only one other is known to exist.

I have the Sonic Zoom digipack mail-order release. No matter the CD you purchase, all come with an excellent informative booklet with more information inside than you can absorb in one sitting. As mentioned though, this is bootleg quality. Don’t expect sonic clarity, don’t expect separation of the instruments. This is a one-mic recording, and there’s only so much you can do to clean it up.

If you’re a fan, add this historic recording to your library. If not, stick to one of more official live releases, like Made in Japan or In the Absence of Pink.

3.5/5 stars

More Purple at mikeladano.com:

Deep Purple (1969), Machine Head (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition + vinyl + In Concert ’72 vinyl), Perks and Tit (Live in San Diego 1974), Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition), Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition), Power House (1977), The Battle Rages On… (1993), Shades 1968-1998, Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD), Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD), Rapture of the Deep (2 CD Special Edition), “All the Time in the World” (2013 CD single), Record Store Tales Part 32: Live In Japan, STEVE MORSE BAND – StressFest (1996).

REVIEW: Cozy Powell – Over The Top (1979 Polydor)

Next in line of my reviews from Record Store Excursion 2012!  Check out the video below if you missed it.  This one bought at Sonic Boom Kensington.

MIKE AND AARON GO TO TORONTO

Let’s boogie!

The lineup is impressive enough:  Joining Cozy are Don Airey on keyboards/moog and Jack Bruce on bass.  Guitarists include Gary Moore, Bernie Marsden and Clem Clempson.   So, that’s all good.

But Over The Top starts with the disco-sounding “Theme I” (written by George Martin of all people).  There’s too much of Don’s dated sounding synth.  That continues into the next track, “Killer” featuring Gary Moore.  Don’s ray-gun keyboard are too much, although Gary is brilliant, and a highlight to the track.

Cozy expertly steps his way through every track,  sounding like nobody but Cozy.  But these cheesey keyboard anthems don’t lend themselves well to his style.  Too much disco, too much funk, too much boogie and not enough rock.  Jack Bruce is great, of course, very few can do what he does.  His bass here is articulate and precise but for me, too much jazz fusion and not enough anchor!

Most of this is progressive-based rock, but the dated synth echoes too many things that nobody really liked anymore.  The songs are not especially stiking, and Cozy doesn’t really go nuts until the final song, “Over The Top”.  The producer behind this mess?  None other than Martin Birch!

Best Song:  “El Sid” which has some groove and stomp to it, the keys are toned down while Jack plays some beautifully stretchy basslines, and Bernie Marsden throws in one of those bluesy solos that you know and love from early Whitesnake.  (Bernie wrote this one.)  Second best is “Sweet Poison” which has moments that smoke.

I dig the cover art with Cozy jumping his drums with his bike!  Sweet.

2/5 stars.  I think it likely that if Cozy were with us, hey’d probably regret the keyboard-saturated sound today.

TRACK LIST:

Side One – “Theme I”, “Killer”, “Heidi Goes To Town”, “El Sid”

Side Two – “Sweet Poison”, “The Loner”, “Over The Top”