Glueleg

REVIEW: Play It! ROCK – An EMI In-Store Play Compilation – Various Artists (1997)

Play It! Volume Seven – ROCK – An EMI In-Store Play Compilation (1997 EMI promo)

“Woah!  I own ‘Song 2’.  How about that.”

That was my first reaction upon revisiting this old promo CD from the Record Store days.  I really didn’t know that I had that song, and I’m sort of glad that I do.  This was a freebie, and not a bad one as it had some rarities on it.  In fact there’s only one artist on this disc I’d flat-out skip.  Let’s dive on in.

The first track is a rarity:  an unadvertized single edit of “Temptation” by the Tea Party.  “Temptation”, crossing the new sample-driven sounds of the late 90s with classic exotic Zeppelin, was huge.  The single edit snips off the extended intro.  Industrial rock band Econoline Crush is up second, who also had a big album (The Devil You Know) at the time.  “Home” was a memorable fast-paced single, but their big single “All That You Are”  is also included as track #14.  Far more mainstream, “All That You Are” was omnipresent in 1997.  It’s still a little too over-familiar to be enjoyable.

Skip Meredith Brooks.  I’ll be happy if I never hear the novelty song “Bitch” ever again.  Brooks has a second track on this CD, “I Need”, which suffers due to the spoken word verses.  No thanks.  Skip ’em both.  “I Need” reminds me of what I hated about 90s music.

Foo Fighters’ “Monkey Wrench” and “Everlong” were two of the greatest singles of 1997.  Fast paced, drums-a-blazing, and perfectly rifftastic.  In ’97 Grohl could do no wrong.  He released one of the few perfect albums of the year.  ’97 was Peak Foo — prove me wrong.  Flawless songs, still not taxing on the ears.  Probably never will be.

Queensryche had a new album in 1997, the ill-fated Hear in the Now Frontier.  “You” wasn’t one of the most notable songs, and here on this mainstream compilation, doesn’t fare well.  I don’t think EMI knew what to do with Queensryche, so hey let’s pick a song with 90’s intonations and throw it on this store play disc.  A second Tea Party song, “Transmission”, is its full unedited length, combining the same ingredients as “Temptation” but at lower velocity.  “Song 2” follows that, I song I’m admittedly not bored with at all.  A second Blur track later down the line, “M.O.B.” boats a cool riff and pop sensibilities.

I Mother Earth were riding a wave with their second album Scenery and Fish.  I’m not a fan of that disc and I can usually do without “Used to Be Alright”.  Fortunately Megadeth bring some metal to the proceedings.  From the underrated Cryptic Writings comes “Almost Honest”, a hard rocking single with nary a glimmer of thrash.  Great song from a period when Megadeth were quite adept at writing mainstream metal.

Rarities ahoy!  Moist’s “Tangerine” is remixed here, a mix that is far more industrial than the album, but that’s why remixes go on weird compilations I suppose.  Always fascinating, Glueleg are up next with “Dragonfly”, one of their catchiest numbers, still maintaining their weird genre-bending tendencies.

Alice Cooper steps in with a live version of “School’s Out”.  This being 1997, that automatically means it’s the one from A Fistful of Alice.  It’s a little strange hearing “School’s Out” on a compilation of all-new material, but I suppose EMI didn’t have confidence that a new Alice song (“Is Anyone Home?”) would attract new buyers.  But they were more likely to hear Radiohead’s “Let Down” and buy OK Computer instead.  It’s a stunning ballad that might have been unfamiliar to those who hadn’t bought the album yet — the exact people this CD was aimed at!  The CD closes on the slide-inflected “Faded” by Ben Harper.  It’s choked by unnecessarily grungy production.

Record companies rarely sent us free CDs, because we were a used CD store and they assumed we’d sell ’em.  What they didn’t realize was that it was usually guys like the asshole at CD Plus that would be selling their free CDs.  We’d try to be educated about what we bought, and avoid the promos like this one.  If a customer left it behind for us to take for free, it was up for grabs.  As a store-play disc, this would have been pretty good, assuming we had all those albums in stock to sell.

2.5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Glueleg – Heroic Doses (1994)


GLUELEG – Heroic Doses
(1994 Page Publications)

Any band that can handle an instrument as beastly as the Chapman Stick is worth listening to at least once. Glueleg, from Toronto Ontario, were once such band. They boasted not only the Stick but also a horn section with sax and trumpet. If that wasn’t enough to garner them some local praise, a few people turned their heads when they hooked up with former Cult bassist Jamie Stewart to produce their first CD, Heroic Doses. Prior Glueleg releases were cassettes…CD was the big time.

The title track was the first single/video, and entered rotation on MuchMusic and several rave reviews. Guitar player Ruben Huizenga sings this immediately infectious track. The hypnotic vocals, the punchy horns, the Stick, that low-as-fuck rib-busting riff…this track is perfect in every way. “Heroic Doses” nails it completely and there is no wonder that it garnered some serious attention. The end result of this was a record deal with EMI, but nobody can accuse Glueleg of being commercial on “Heroic Doses” even so.

“Pollo” (“Chicken”) is rapped and sung by Stick player Carlos Alonzo. He has an interesting voice, able to do a rap in a Beastie-like style but with his own spin. He can also sing quite well. He also sings “Mister Pink”, another manic groove. The horns deliver consistent punctuation, and that Stick just thumps. “Lilies” has a droney riff/groove combo that stoner rock bands today love to utilize. “Spiderman” is an original, an instrumental, but it certainly recalls the classic cartoon theme. Glueleg songs don’t tend to adhere to convention song structures. They have more in common with Mr. Bungle than the Chili Peppers, but much more accessible. Their songs have the complexity and chops of Bungle, but are direct. There are also grunge elements, a-la Alice in Chains.

The sonics of this album are really quite good even today. The Stick has a snap to it, and the horns have depth. Jamie Stewart (billed as James Stewart III) was doing a lot of production work in Toronto, all well received by local rock critics. Having two singers enabled them to play different styles of songs even within the confines of what Glueleg were doing. “Dust” is a dirge, for example. Then the next track “Pampa De Chooch” is completely different, at times almost sounding like Kyuss with horns. “Park Alien” might be Zappa-esque progressive jazz. “I Saw You Joja” is then something else again. Perhaps there’s a lack of focus, or maybe it’s just that Glueleg were so bursting full of ideas, but some songs come off as scattershot.

Biggest surprise of the album: the closing track “Red”, the King Crimson instrumental. What a drum tour de force performance this is, by Christian Simpson. Simpson is no slouch; he later went on to play with Saga for several years, as well as David Usher and Edwin.

I like all of it. Heroic Doses is one of those discs that are indicative of their times, and has nostalgia value, but also plenty of musical chops to keep you busy. If the songs had been tightened up a bit more I think you’d have a serious classic here. Unfortunately there are some songs that are just not quite there.

3.25/5 stars