The Cosmic Superheroes are a band out of North Carolina, and I have just received a copy of their new CD, Hell Yes Ma’am Sessions! Bluesy, rootsy rock and roll with boogie! I’m digging their sound. What caught my attention was that they covered “Peace Pipe” by Cry of Love, one of the greatest songs of the 1990s. They were also produced by John Custer, so you know the final result would sound good. And it does!
Check out the unboxing video below, and become familiar with the Cosmic Superheroes!
CRY OF LOVE – “Bad Thing” (1993 Columbia CD single)
“Just a new song, that I gotta sing…”
Cry of Love were awesome. Most frequently they were compared to the Black Crowes, but perhaps like many bands who live in the shadow, they might actually have been better. On a technical level, they had a better singer and a stellar lead guitarist. The original lineup with Kelly Holland (R.I.P.) was something truly special so you may as well try to get all the tunes you can. To do that, you’ll need some CD singles. “Bad Thing” was a single in 1993, featuring four tracks – one remix and three live.
Leading the single is “Bad Thing” in the form of a “New Mix”. It is admittedly hard to tell specific differences without doing an A/B test, but it is ever so slightly new. One thing for sure: “Bad Thing” is a wicked cool groove, with a thumping bassline and incredible guitar work from Audley Freed. The man has such a tube-y sound! There’s really nothing better than a Cry of Love groove with Audley and Kelly wailing!
The three live versions are pretty clean sounding. Live in the studio? Probably. Their big hit “Peace Pipe” is way, way groovy. The way that bass rolls just makes your guts rumble.
Tearing the temple down! Burn down the sacred ground! Tear the temple down! In the name of God somehow. Burn down the sacred ground!
Sing it Kelly! What a chorus. The powerhouse blues rocker made short work of it, drilling the song fully into your noggin. While your grey matter focuses on that melody, your intestines are shaken by the groove. Then Audley takes a solo and bam! Instant classic. The live version is very authentic to the studio original.
The Willie Dixon cover “I Ain’t Superstitious” takes the blues and cranks it right up. You’d be forgiven if you thought this was a lost Crowes tune, but Cry of Love rock it just a little bit harder. This one is a party so bring your dancing shoes. It boils and bubbles through a jamming middle section and finishes with a bangin’ flourish.
The 7:10 “Bad Thing” opens with a two minute slow blues jam. Audley’s wiry guitar tone here is different and cool. Then the drums and bass kick in and we’re groovin’! Killer version of a song that was already killer.
If you haven’t checked out Cry of Love yet, then what are you waiting for? You’ve had 30 years!
What a brilliant band, Cry of Love were! Audley Freed is a hella talented guitar player; don’t forget that he did a stint with the Black Crowes. The band visited MuchMusic in 1994 to play live and acoustically. Erica Ehm interviewed the guys on the Saturday Start Me Up program.
Check out this amazing version of “Carnival” from their first and best album Brother.
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.
I had one really, really awful summer at the store. My full-time backup had quit, and head office made the decision not to hire a replacement until the Christmas gear-up season. Instead, they decided to spread out the part-timers to cover the hours. They were always eager for hours, but not necessarily weekend hours!
I was required to work two Saturdays a month anyway. That summer, I had to pull a lot more than that. Saturdays, Sundays, the odd 12 hour shifts…I didn’t get to the cottage very much that summer. Allegedly, one head office staffer was overheard saying to another, “It’s going to be funny watching Mike try to work all summer without a full-timer.” Good to know they had my back.
I was furious. But I was also defeated.
I had one weekend booked off in July. I couldn’t miss that weekend. My grandma’s 80th birthday party was that weekend. There was no way in hell that I was going to miss my grandma’s 80th birthday party. It was a 2 hour drive away, in Kincardine Ontario. I only have one grandma (88 this year!), but wouldn’t you know it? Nothing ever went smooth for me….
I had a date the previous night (Friday), with this girl who was originally from Thunder Bay. We went out and we had a nice meal followed by a night of drinks. I woke up slightly hungover, but eager to hit the lake, and say hi to grandma. Then, my phone rang. Not a good sign.
My least reliable employee, Wiseman, was calling in sick. The truth was more likely that he was calling in wasted. Somebody had to get the hell over there and cover him. And that someone was me.
I pulled in, unshowered, unshaven, and pissed off. I had never been so mad at Wiseman in my life. It was becoming a far, far too regular occurrence that he was always “sick”, and someone had to cover for him. You can’t expect every part time employee to give up their Saturday plans and work on no notice, but a manager had to.
To her credit, there was one head office person on duty that weekend, and she came in to take over. I will always be grateful to that person for covering me on my grandma’s 80th birthday weekend. If memory serves, my great aunt Marie, her sister, made it that weekend too. I think that was the last time I ever saw her, she passed away not too long after.
My relationship with head office people was rocky to say the least, especially after that “It’s going to be funny watching Mike try to work all summer…” crack. But she did cover me when I needed it. I won’t forget that, and I’ll always be grateful.
The rest of the summer was what it was, weekend after weekend of working, the same grind and drudgery. The musical light in the tunnel that summer was the release of Marillion’s double Marbles CD. It is my favourite Hogarth-era Marillion to this day, and when I received it that summer, it got me through. We didn’t carry it in stock in our store, but it was in my car, and on my home player, all summer. It brightened the mood, it kept me going, waking me up in the morning and getting me out the door. The Summer of Hell’s bright spot was Marillion, and my grandma.
I would like to dedicate this installment of the Record Store Tales to that one head office person who stepped up and covered for me that day. We had many knock-down-drag-out arguments over the years, and I’m sure that her side of many events differ from mine. Regardless, if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t have been present for my grandma’s 80th, and for that I owe her a debt of gratitude.