Extreme were about to get really big for a little while with Extreme II: Pornograffiti. Guitar wunderkind Nuno Bettencourt, singer Gary Cherone, bassist Pat Badger, and drummer Paul Geary sat down with MuchMusic in 1990 to discuss their name (only a jokey answer here), influences, and music videos vs the live show. Very prophetic and timely here….
REVIEW: Extreme – Waiting for the Punchline (1995 Japanese/bonus track)
EXTREME – Waiting for the Punchline (1995 Polydor Japan)
Let’s start with the bonus track! “Fair-Weather Faith” is only available here, on the Japanese pressing of Extreme’s fourth album. And it is…well, it’s probably not controversial to say it’s the weakest of the 13 (12 plus one unlisted) tracks. That’s why it’s a bonus track. Is there anything wrong with it? Hell no! But do you absolutely need it in your life? No. You can live without it. Be warned though that Gary sings his ass off, while Nuno plays it funky. It sounds as if this is one of the tracks with Paul Geary on drums. (Mike Mangini joined the band mid-album.) Like many Extreme songs, religion is the topic. Gary is critical of these who put on the act of believing for the benefit of those around them. Decent bonus track, but not especially mind-blowing.
(The rest of this review was previously published in 2017)
Sometimes you just gotta laugh. Extreme released two of their finest albums after grunge wiped the slate clean. Extreme were the punchline, but that didn’t stop them from making a smokin’ fourth album. In 1992 Nuno envisioned the next album as “really funky”, and there is some funk here. However Waiting for the Punchline was much more straight ahead: stripped down, no orchestras, no rap, just guitar rock through and through.
“There Is No God” sounds like an odd title from a band as Christian as Extreme were, but Gary Cherone has always been a lyrical champion. It’s not as simple as it appears, but the groove just lays waste. The next track “Cynical Fuck” turns it up further. It is pure smoke, and perfect for the decade it was written in. “Tell Me Something I Don’t Know” takes the soft/hard approach with a loud droning Nuno riff. It’s another brilliant song, and harder than what Extreme were doing before. Much of Waiting for the Punchline is driven by the bass and drums. The interesting thing about this is that drummer Paul Geary left during the making of this album, and was replaced by Mike Mangini who is now in Dream Theater. You hear two very distinct drum styles through the CD. Geary has a straight ahead approach, while Mangini is capable of just about anything. His first track is the single “Hip Today” and you can hear how his beats are anything but basic.
“Hip Today” is a good tune and a good indicator of what the album sounds like: Bass, drums, guitar. Listen to how the rhythm guitar drops out when Nuno solos. Just like the first classic Van Halen. The lyrics sound bitter as Gary warns the next generation of bands that their time too will end. Things slow down a little on “Naked”, before the side-ending instrumental “Midnight Express”. This is a truly brilliant track, proof that Nuno’s stunning plectrum practice has paid off. When it comes to acoustic guitar work in rock and roll band, Nuno is among the very best. “Midnight Express” gives me callouses just thinking about it.
Dark moods commence the second side with “Leave Me Alone”, a sentiment many of us understand. Don’t worry about me — I’m happy alone sometimes. Nuno uses volume swells a-la Van Halen’s “Cathedral” to create a nifty riff. Into “No Respect”, Nuno makes his guitar purr, while the rhythm section throws it into overdrive. “Evilangelist” tackles the religion questions again, with a funky riff and cool digitized chorus. The dark and heavy vibes give way to light shortly on “Shadow Boxing” and “Unconditionally”. Both tracks are brilliant but different. “Shadow Boxing” might be considered the “Hole Hearted” of this album, while “Unconditionally” leans towards “More Than Words”. Neither are re-writes, but those are the easiest comparisons.
One final surprise is the unlisted bonus track. It wasn’t on the cassette version, but you will find the title track “Waiting for the Punchline” after “Unconditionally” (or “Fair-Weather Faith” on the Japanese CD). There are two cool things about this. One: it’s an awesome track, much like the angrier stuff on side one. Two: it closes the album even better than “Unconditionally”. Great little surprise so don’t hit “stop”!
The thing about Waiting for the Punchline is that it’s a grower. The first couple listens, I thought “It’s not as good as their old stuff, but what is these days?” The new stripped down Extreme didn’t seem as interesting as the lavish one from Extreme III or the flashy one from Extreme II. After a few listens, different textures began to emerge, add their own colours and depth. Particular with the guitar work, but also the rhythms, there is much delight to be discovered here.
VHS Archives #135: Extreme sign autographs in Scarborough, Ontario (1991)
Not much to be said here, just four guys at a mall signing autographs for throngs of fans! From the Pepsi Power Hour.
GALLERY: 7 New Japanese Imports!
For those who often find themselves victims of mail theft, having parcels sent from Japan is a risky and anxiety-inducing activity. You cannot have parcels shipped by regular mail, only courier, and dealing with DHL is a nightmare. Fortunately, Jen happened to be home when DHL delivered the parcel on the wrong day when I was not.
I unboxed these Japanese import CDs on Friday February 3’s episode with my good friend MarriedAndHeels. I didn’t spend a heck of a lot of time going through them, so here is a closer look at each!
D-A-D – Osaka After Dark (1990 live EP)
EXTREME – Extragraffitti (1990 EP)
EXTREME – Waiting For the Punchline (1995 Japanese version with “Fair Weather Faith”)
AEROSMITH – Vacation Club (1988 EP)
LOUDNESS – Slap In the Face (1991 EP)
BON JOVI – I Believe – Live At Milton Keynes – September 93 (1993 EP)
BON JOVI – Hey God (2 CD Japanese singles)
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REVIEW: Extreme – “There Is No God” (1994 CD single)
EXTREME – “There Is No God” (1994 A&M CD single)
Extreme’s underrated (extremely underrated!) fourth album Waiting For the Punchline was released in January of 1995. Yet it was preceded by the 1994 single “There Is No God”, a three track disc with two B-sides included. Waiting For the Punchline was Extreme’s “back to basics” album. After the sprawling three sided magnum opus, III Sides To Every Story, Nuno desired to strip things back and funk things up. Waiting For the Punchline was more raw and groovy, but not as the expense of quality. Criminally underrated!
The A-side is technically still a non-album track! The album cut of “There Is No God” is over six minutes; this one is a 4:25 edit. The opening stuttery guitar remains. What an awesome drum sound! Paul Geary played on most of the album (you can tell which ones) and he just had a full, impactful drum sound on this album. Meanwhile Gary Cherone was singing and writing as strong as ever, turning up the anger dial. Nuno utilises minimum guitar overdubs (if any) and sounds absolutely wicked here. His solo is exotic, and there’s no rhythm guitar behind him. Just Pat Badger laying down the bottom end. What a killer 90s rock tune, and you don’t really notice the edits until the fade-out.
Second up is a tune called “Never Been Funked”. Nuno’s using a treatment on his guitar here, giving it an electronic moog-like sound. This is a basic groove, punchy and to the point. Not a lot in the way of hooks, just that guitar of Nuno’s, zigging and zagging. As expected, his soloing and fills are just as bonkers.
The third and final B-side, “Better Off Dead”, is a completely different direction. Waiting For the Punchline wasn’t a ballad album. “Better Off Dead” would not have fit, although it has the same ambience as the album. With minimal accompaniment, Gary and Nuno sing together through the opening. When the band kicks in, it sounds like Mike Mangini on drums rather than Paul Geary. (There are no credits.) It’s a lovely song if a bit meandering. It’s the longest tune at 5:40. The outro guitar sounds like Jimmy Page!
Great single to pick up if you’re a fan of Extreme. Especially if you love Waiting For the Punchline.
This piece is a followup to the Friday July 17 live stream “Lead Singer’s Disease”.
GETTING MORE TALE #845: VHIII
We carried two magazines at the Record Store: Spin, and Rolling Stone. I cannot remember which printed the following comment in 1996, when Van Halen announced their new lead singer. After a tumultuous few months with Sammy Hagar quitting and David Lee Roth briefly re-joining, the Van Halens decided on Extreme frontman Gary Cherone to carry the VH torch.
Spin or Stone, in a brief paragraph, commented: “Roth, Hagar, Cherone…the downward spiral continues.”
I called bullshit then and I call bullshit now. That is crap journalism, and so typical of the anti-rock attitudes of the 1990s.
First of all, we hadn’t heard one note of Gary Cherone’s new music with Van Halen, so how could they make that judgement? Second, it severely short-sells Sammy Hagar, who took Van Halen to their first #1 and scored some seriously massive followup hits with the band. Critically acclaimed ones too, like “Right Now”. So: bullshit! They were absolutely out of line to print that, and we had many reasons to be optimistic about Gary Cherone.
Some of the thoughts that crossed our minds when the Van Halen news hit:
- Will Van Halen play “More Than Words” live, like they use to give Sammy a solo song or two? Eddie would sound amazing on that, wouldn’t he? He’d put his own spin on it, surely.
- With Cherone, Van Halen would be able to play a wider variety of Roth tunes again.
- Gary’s natural charisma, as witnessed at the 1992 Freddie Mercury tribute concert, was bound to bring new life to Van Halen.
- His lyrics, usually more serious than Hagar’s, would allow Van Halen to adapt to the 1990s.
- The only drawback I saw was that Gary didn’t play guitar, bringing Van Halen back to just one guitar, live. The tiniest of issues.
I was not only optimistic, but I was excited. It’s natural, when two bands you like merge in such a way. One of my favourite singers working with one of my favourite bands? Yeah, I was overly excited. At that time, coming off three amazing Extreme albums in a row, I was a bigger Gary fan than Sammy. However, when Van Halen III finally came out in 1998 after an agonising wait, I was not immediately impressed. Nor were a lot of people. But I gave it more than a fair shake, cranking it as much as I could get away with at the Record Store. And it grew on me. It was my favourite album to play in the car during the spring of ’98.
I bought the album in the limited edition tin. I got it from Al King at Sam the Record Man. I had a lot invested it in emotionally and monetarily. T-Rev will remember me praising the record, but also telling him, “Something about it doesn’t sound like Van Halen.” What I sensed then was the lack of Michael Anthony who only appeared on three tracks. His lack of vocals was very obvious.
When Eddie first decided upon Gary Cherone as singer, one of the things he commented was that Gary had the “voice of an angel”. I found that encouraging, but when they made Van Halen III, Gary bellowed almost every single song at the top of his lungs. His blown-out voice carried none of the nuance it did on the same-titled Extreme album III. It was a disappointing choice, making Cherone sounding overly similar to Sammy Hagar.
“Why bother changing singers if the new guy is trying to sound like the old guy?” I wondered to myself.
Van Halen did not play “More Than Words” or any other Extreme songs live. One could argue that Extreme didn’t have the pedigree of Sammy Hagar and didn’t deserve to take up any time in a setlist when you could play another Roth song instead. Many of them returned to the live setting after an absence: “I’m the One”, “Unchained”, “Mean Street”, “Romeo Delight”, “Dance the Night Away”, “Feel Your Love Tonight”, and even “Somebody Get Me a Doctor”, albeit now sung by Michael Anthony. The new Cherone album took up a generous chunk of the set, and the Hagar tracks were reduced to a few key hits: “Why Can’t This Be Love”, “When It’s Love”, “Humans Being” and “Right Now”.
The new Van Halen underperformed to say the least. I was shocked when we received 50 copies at the Record Store. There was no way I was going to be able to sell 50 copies, and I tried. Lord did I try! I have been very critical of our regional manager in the past, because she was absolutely merciless in pointing out every one of my failures. Now that she can’t hurt me anymore, I feel freer to talk about some of it. She definitely can’t blame me for us getting stuck with a huge pule of Van Halen III. I never would have ordered 50 copies. 20 was what I had in mind. But she didn’t ask me. Hand on the bible, this one was not on me.
YouTuber Todd in the Shadows tackled Van Halen III in one of his “Trainwreckords” episodes, and he goes into great detail about every single thing that went wrong with the album. This excellent and funny analysis is well worth the 18 minutes of your time.
#838: Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
A sequel to #548: Bad Boys
GETTING MORE TALE #838: Wild Nights, Hot & Crazy Days
I couldn’t believe it when that red Daytona pulled into the cottage driveway.
“Is that Bob?” asked my dad. It sure was!
Bob’s parents had a trailer not too far from our cottage, part way between Kincardine and Goderich. It wasn’t unusual for him to drop in, but this time was different. He was about to start a new job and wanted a little vacation before his first day. He chose to come and stay at the cottage with us!
You might think it strange that he just showed up unannounced, but that’s not unusual for cottagers. My dad’s friend Ron often showed up with his whole family, completely unexpected. Bob had an open invitation; he was always welcome.
We raised hell that week. Bob didn’t know, but my cousin Geoffrey and his family were also scheduled to visit. Geoffrey was…how do I put this? Hyperactive was the word they used, but at that age, he was…impossible! I am glad he had since turned into a fine normal young man, but back then you could only take so much Geoff at a time! Naturally, Bob and I ganged up against him, which was a nice change of pace! It was during that week that Geoff infamously pierced his ear, while we took the blame for it. I didn’t trick Geoff into anything, I just chickened out. But that was just one of the many things we did that week.
Bob was obsessed with one album in particular that summer: Extreme’s Pornograffitti. In that Daytona, we all cruised endlessly to the sounds of that album. My grandmother, in the cottage two doors down, was not impressed by our loud hootin’ and hollerin’. I was at that age when I thought being loud and obnoxious was funny.
Pornograffitti is a special album, but that summer it was extra-special. We played it on a loop, and I had just about every song memorized. I asked for and received it for my birthday later that month. While I liked all the rockers, “Hole Hearted” really hit me where it counts. Its melancholy exuberance reflected how I felt at that time. (I know that sounds like a contradiction!) I was both excited and scared to be starting a new journey in my life, at University. Fall was only a couple months away and I was nervous. Whatever the case, the acoustic strumming of “Hole Hearted” was exactly how I felt, before I jumped into the deep end of school.
It was a beautiful summer, bright and warm. Bob and I took the canoe out onto the lake. There was a rock far from the shore, that was just inches below the water. Finding it was the trick. We were determined! I knew roughly where the rock was located, but once you’re out on the featureless water, it was difficult to pinpoint. Yet we found it relatively easily, by carefully looking for little crests of water where it rolled inches over that rock.
We dropped anchor and stepped onto the rock. There was room for both of us. Singing heavy metal songs at the top of our lungs, we both “mooned” the shore. We were so far out that nobody would have been able to see. I guess I’ve always been an exhibitionist. But we did it — we mooned a crowded Lorne Beach.
As my dad likes to remind me, we could have been arrested!
Ah well. “We didn’t,” was my answer then and now!
We had huge beach fires at night, and found plenty of activity during the days. There was one afternoon that we took a trip up to Bruce Nuclear. We usually did that once a year, to go on the tour. There were actually two tours: one indoors through the visitor’s centre, and a bus tour through the grounds. Bob came with the family on the bus tour. And we were awful. I don’t mind saying so. That poor tour guide had to put up with our running commentary. The grounds included nature preserves, and she was telling us about the wild deer that you could sometimes see in the trees to our right.
“Yeah, that one has two heads!” chuckled Bob out loud. Chuckled, or heckled? That’s up to interpretation.
I like to say that we were like Tom Green, but without the video camera. If only we had one! We were definitely a public nuisance. And I’m definitely an old fart now, because I would find that behaviour annoying today.
But we didn’t hurt anybody. Nobody got arrested. We were loud and annoyed a few people, but at the time I thought that was very rock n’ roll. We were ahead of our time. My cousin started his summer by getting a hole in his ear and Bob and I had one last hoorah together. That all sounds real good to me.
#820: The Last Note of Freedom (1991 – Part One)
This is Part One of a series based around the year 1991. In music, culture and my personal life, 1991 was a landmark year. There was life pre-1991, and there was life post-1991. I’ve spent a couple months piecing together details of that critical period. Stick around and enjoy the memories.
GETTING MORE TALE #820: The Last Note of Freedom
(1991 Was the End and 1991 Was the Beginning – Part One)
After all the hard work, studying and good times, there was only one thing left to do: attend the big highschool graduation ceremony. I’d be seeing some of my friends for the very last time. Shirt and tie on, I was clean shaven and ready to go. Family arrived at the house and gifts were given. I remember a new watch. I even received the novelization of the hot new Schwarzenegger flick, Terminator 2: Judgement Day from my sister Kathryn.
Only this time I wouldn’t be back. This was it. The last hoorah.
Blue graduation cap upon my head, I looked like a girl with my long hair. I barely recognise myself in the old photos, receiving my diploma on that big stage.
Like many graduation ceremonies, there was a slideshow to remind us of all the good times. The song they chose for the slideshow was an interesting selection: “The Last Note of Freedom” by David Coverdale, his first solo track in a decade and a half. Who selected it and why, I will never know. It was the kind of song I would have chosen myself, but I had nothing to do with it. I just found the title very apropos: “The Last Note of Freedom”, and when that last note rings out, we would be cast into the larger ocean of “real life”. It was a poignant choice even if the lyrics really didn’t apply. The words had nothing to do with a milestone like graduation, but it sure sounded cool when Coverdale started screaming in the middle of the ceremony.
We need love,
We gotta want it so bad.
We need it now,
So run for it fast.
I know it,
And the world will be cheated.
I can’t go on, in a world where love’s defeated.
I know it.
I can’t go on.
“The Last Note of Freedom” was from the Days of Thunder soundtrack, and I made sure to order a copy from Columbia House forthwith. It was probably the most commercial track that Coverdale had recorded to date, with a vaguely 80s tropi-synth feel.
I would never see many of my friends again, and I knew it as I walked out of the building with my grad cap in my hands. I shook hands with Anand “Boboe” Etwaru who I never crossed paths with ever again. I was pleased to find out, many years later from a mutual friend, that he still had the nickname “Boboe” which I gave him. (It’s just the ASCII characters for “Anand” with each letter bumped up by one, an accidental discovery I made.)
My parents owned a rental cottage and I wanted to rent it for one weekend, just a final chance to hang out with my friends. The parents said “no way” and the last weekend never happened. Instead, a bunch of us just made a run downtown to Sam the Record Man one afternoon. We walked – none of us had a car. It was fun and bittersweet. The new Van Halen sat there on the shelves but the packaging was rather bland. It would have to wait for my birthday. Instead I bought some singles: “You Could Be Mine” (CD), by Guns N’ Roses, and “More Than Words” (cassette) by Extreme.
I can still recall one thing that happened that day. As our small group walked down Frederick Street towards King, we passed by a little old lady. As we passed her, she smiled and chuckled an evil laugh!
“Heh heh heh heh!”
Creepy stuff, man!
“We’re hexed now!” someone commented.
I’m glad that a small group of my friends got back together for one record shopping trip in the summer of ’91. We knew things would be different from here on in. Many of them were going into serious engineering programs. Intense, time consuming stuff. On some of my lonely days that fall, I thought of picking up the phone and calling some of them. But I didn’t. “They all have their own lives now,” I reasoned.
An era had ended, and the last note of freedom had rung. Onto bigger things!
GETTING MORE TALE #769: Twenty-Three
July 1995 was a very complex month, at least for a young 22 year old guy living in Canada, not yet named LeBrain.
The girl I really liked had just broken up with her boyfriend — a guy in our circle of friends named Nick. Just about everybody in the world knew I had a crush on her. She dumped him one weekend when I was at the cottage. My buddy Aaron called me long distance just to tell me! Nick was a bit of a cock sometimes, but I tried to be reasonably respectful to him. I thought I should wait three weeks until I made any move.
By mid-July I still hadn’t done anything, although I talked to the girl just about every day. My 23rd birthday was coming up, and a small group of friends decided to throw a party. It was a joint birthday party — another girl with the same mutual friends had a birthday the same week as me. We combined everything into one party, in my parents’ basement. Aaron was there, my wingman. He was good at making people laugh, so that was always helpful when I didn’t know what to say around girls. And of course, the girl I liked was coming too!
We decided on a murder mystery party, and we were supposed to be dressed somewhat in character. I think I was a race car driver. Crush-girl dressed as a gypsy. Oh my God. I was well on my way to bonertown. She even did an accent for her character. Schwing!
One of my friends that came gave me my first copy of Rush’s 2112. That alone would have made it a memorable birthday. The most memorable thing to me, however, was the final guest to arrive.
Craig arrived late. I didn’t know him, not really. He was there at the invite of the girl who also had a birthday to celebrate. But I certainly knew of him! As soon as he came to the door, I recognized him immediately and with total surprise. Though he was two years older, Craig and I went to the same highschool. We even hung out in the same circles, although we’d never officially met before. He was friends with guys like Bob Schipper and Rob Daniels. In fact, one reason I knew Craig’s face so well was that he was actually on one of the tapes in my VHS Archives! Back in 1989, Rob Daniels was just beginning his career in broadcasting and media. He did a public service ad for Rogers cable. He wrote and directed “One More For the Road”, an anti-drinking and driving ad. Bob Schipper played the victim. Craig played the drunk driver. I had a copy. I knew every line of dialogue in that ad. It was actually really well made with a killer soundtrack. Bon Jovi’s “Bad Medicine” is playing from the car stereo when Bob is struck down in his prime.
I excitedly greeted Craig at the door and told him of our mutual highschool friends. He looked exactly the same except for the hair, which was now long and in a ponytail. He was a short fella, funny and well read. How cool was it that we happened to have all these connections, and then just run into each other at my own birthday party?
I was having the best time!
As the day wore on and guests began to leave, I was looking forward to spending a little more time with the girl I liked. The only issue: Craig didn’t seem to want to leave. Worse, he was really making conversation with my crush. A little too much conversation.
I sat there smiling, helplessly thinking of something to do. I suggested that I wanted to eat, and I think he helped himself to stay for pizza or whatever we ordered. I didn’t want to be rude. I was on my best behaviour in front of my crush. She was a strong independent woman and there was no way I was going to hint that I was jealous. Inside, I was Hulk-green.
I whispered to Aaron, “Is this guy ever going to leave?” He shrugged. He didn’t know what to do either.
Craig clearly didn’t know about or appreciate the hard work I had been laying these last few weeks. Hell, I was waiting for something to happen with crush girl for months! I knew she was not going to last with Nick. She called me to complain about him often enough. He was too clingy. I was playing a long game. I’d been a sympathetic ear a long time. She flat out told me that if she met me before him, it would have been different. And Craig was sticking his nose in all my patience!
I know that I said earlier that I was trying to give it time out of respect for the other guy, before I made a move. I know that sounds contradictory to the idea of a long game I had been playing for months. It’s not really. There’s a certain code of conduct you had to respect. It was all very complex and mathematical. Having discussed it with Aaron, I was convinced three weeks was the minimum amount of time I had to wait before I asked her on a date. There was also the small matter of stumbling over my words and not knowing at all how to ask her out. I had a serious inhibition there, stuttering and fumbling and turning back.
Extreme had a single called “Tragic Comic” that, ironically, I made a cassette tape of for the birthday girl sharing the party with me that exact dame day. And that song has the line I really identified with: “I’m a stut-tut-terring p-poet.”
It was dark out before Craig finally left, having failed in his quest to sway my crush his way. I decided that was to be our first and last meeting! My day began on such a high, and ended with me tense and frustrated. We all headed our separate ways, and I went to bed brooding.
Time was up. She wasn’t going to wait forever. (In fact, she didn’t — little did I know, she banged some other guy a couple weeks earlier. I think he rode a motorcycle, or something. But I didn’t know.) I finally worked myself up, said something stupid, she said yes, and I danced around the house playing air guitar.
It was so simple in hindsight. All I had to do was be myself. She already liked me, pimples and all. So we dated that summer and it was awesome! On one of my first lunch dates with my new girl, we were at an outdoor patio in Elora, and that was the first time I ever heard “Sign of the Southern Cross” by Black Sabbath. Yes, on an outdoor patio on a lunch date in Elora. Who else can make that claim? It was a good summer; nay a great summer. The year I turned 23 will always be burned into my memory. The birthday I got 2112, and met Craig the attempted-wicked-woman-stealer. Pretty summer-defining events!
#756: Japanese Attack!
Anybody who has spent 10 seconds glancing at this site knows one thing: I love Japanese imports!
Every music collector has his or her own priorities. Today, many fans prioritise vinyl, be it original pressings, reissues or both. Some like elaborate packaging; the bigger and bolder the better! My needs are pretty simple. I want all the songs, and I’ll buy however many physical editions it takes to get them all. That means that, over the years, I have purchased hundreds of Japanese CDs. They almost always have bonus tracks, and some of those bonus tracks never see the light of day again on any other releases. Those are the best kind!
There are two great sources for Japanese imports.
- CD Japan, my main store for new releases. I have Whitesnake incoming!
It is Discogs that is responsible for today’s content. If you’re a music collector unfamiliar with Discogs, you need to change that right away.
A few weeks ago, one of my favourite lesser known metal bands called Leatherwolf was celebrating the 30th anniversary of their third album, 1989’s Street Ready. (Probably their best album, but that’s unimportant.) Someone on social media was showing off their most prized Leatherwolf collectible: A Japanese import CD of Street Ready, with a bonus track unreleased anywhere else! Out of print for almost 30 years, that’s a rarity if I ever saw one. Plus it has that feature that is like catnip to me: an unreleased bonus track. In this case, it was a track called “Alone in the Night”, and I wanted it. It’s rare that I go 30 years without even knowing about a song.
After a few weeks of researching, I decided to pull the trigger. A Discogs seller had a copy in excellent condition for about $50, which I realized was about the cheapest it gets in the condition I want. Its only flaw was a missing obi strip (the little piece of paper along the spine) which you sometimes have to accept you’ll never get. The main thing was that bonus track. I was happy with the seller’s 100% rating so I put it in my cart.
That’s when Discogs showed its evil side.
A message popped up, telling me that just in case I wanted to combine shipping, this seller had 81 other items from my wishlist.
81 items. All Japanese CDs.
I spent the next few minutes frantically adding items to my cart, deleting them, adding them again, and then finally deciding on dollar amount I was willing to splurge. I even gave it another few days to clear my head before I clicked “buy”. This is what I ended up with.
LEATHERWOLF – Street Ready. Bonus track: “Alone in the Night”.
Now some lucky soul can be gifted my original US compact disc, because this is my new treasure. I loved this album as a teenager, and I still like it today. There is some well written metal here, and now I have 11 tracks instead of 10. I still can’t believe I didn’t know about “Alone in the Night” all this time. If I knew that back in 1989, this CD would have been on my holy grail list long ago.
EXTREME – “Hip Today” CD single. Bonus track “Kid Ego” (live).
I screwed up. I already had a UK single for “Hip Today”; one of those “part one of a two disc set sold separately” deals. However, for whatever reason, I never ripped it to my computer. I never even played it! When I did a quick search, I couldn’t find “Kid Ego” in my files so I assumed I needed it. I do not, but that’s OK. This CD was only $11 because the seller listed it with no obi strip. Turns out the obi strip is tucked inside, so that’s a win.
TENACIOUS D – The Pick of Destiny. Bonus tracks “Kong”, “Training Medley”.
Two extra songs to be found here. This album had more bonus tracks elsewhere, on non-physical (download only) versions. Now I have all the physical tracks, at least. “Training Medley” was already in the collection on a CD single for “P.O.D.”, but “Kong” was completely unknown until now. Even our resident Tenacious D expert, Uncle Meat, has never heard it before. (For the record, the other two bonus tracks are “Rock Your Socks” from the iTunes pre-order, and “It’s Late” which you can download if you buy the vinyl. Vinyl wishlisted.) Tenacious D collectables are usually very expensive. Their single “Jazz” (which I am missing) goes for roughly $100. I paid $26 for The Pick of Destiny.
QUIET RIOT – Alive and Well. Bonus track: “The Wait”.
20 years ago, the classic Metal Health lineup of Quiet Riot reunited for a new album. Alive and Well was a mix of new songs and re-recordings, but they could have just released a 10 song CD instead, had they included “The Wait”. It’s puzzling how songs are chosen to be obscure bonus tracks on rare editions. “The Wait” is a ballad, very much like old Quiet Riot, and a frickin’ great one too. Had it been included, Alive and Well could have been a well balanced 10 song album, and “The Wait” might have been the best one. At one point Amazon were asking $100 for this CD. I was delighted to score it for just $22. Perhaps it was cheap because it was listed as missing the obi strip. It’s there and looks great! Now my Quiet Riot collection is one song closer to being complete.
THE SWORD – Apocryphon. Bonus tracks: the same five from the deluxe edition, plus “Hammer of Heaven”.
This album has been frustrating for me. There are two versions, one with 10 tracks and one with 15. Because there’s no track listing on the back cover, I’ve never taken a chance on it. I didn’t want to bring it home only to find it’s the 10 track version. I’ve wanted this album ever since “Cloak of Feathers” made it to number 15 on the 2017 Sausagefest countdown. The only thing better than a confirmed 15 track edition? A CD with 16 tracks! Japan received “Hammer of Heaven”, which was a standalone single in 2012. It’s a boogie as heavy as plutonium! This would be its only CD release! Obi is intact, for just $25. (I’m still going to want the single for “Hammer of Heaven” since it had a live B-side of “Ebethron” not included here.)
Not a bad little spending spree. Most of these Japanese imports were pretty affordable. It seems like I spent a lot of money for just a handful of songs, but such is the quest.