Hibakusha

#497: Sausagefest 2016 Official Report

Welcome to another week of Getting More Getting More Tale!  Join us each day this week for a new instalment of the Getting More Tale series, including the all-important, top-secret #500.

 

 

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GETTING MORE TALE: #497: Sausagefest 2016 Official Report

I have returned, bitten by many insects of all kinds, from Sausagefest.

Every year, Countdown has its own personality, or personalities.  This year, the fifteenth annual, the 81 songs were drawn in almost equal amounts from the fountains of heavy metal and soul/funk.  There was Metallica, and there was Five Alarm Funk.  There was Iron Maiden, and there was Charles Bradley.  It was a stunning mix, also including long bombers by Yes and ELP.   Because of this year’s countdown, I will soon be purchasing Close to the Edge by Yes, and a number of Clutch CDs.

The countdown began, appropriately, with a song by Hibakusha and a previously unheard Paul MacLeod comedic bit.  MacLeod had a comeback show scheduled for the same weekend as Sausagefest.  It is sad that it could not come to pass.

I was given 10 songs to do “LeBrain” intros for.  They were as follows:

78. “Hanger 18” – Megadeth (for this I did a 7-minute comedic steam-of-consciousness bit as my own intro)
67. “Go Down Gambling” – Blood Sweat and Tears
60. “Snakes for the Divine” – High on Fire
55. “Rock and Roll Suicide” – David Bowie
49. “Why is it So Hard” – Charles Bradley
42. “Old Joe’s Place” – The Folksmen
36. “Burn In Hell” – Twisted Sister
29. “Fade to Black” – Metallica
18. “The Sounds of Silence” – Disturbed
11. “Empire of the Clouds” – Iron Maiden

Now, I do not care for Disturbed, and I did not want to introduce that song. I wanted another tune because I had an intro planned already for it (“Hollywood”, by Thin Lizzy). Tom and Uncle Meat refused to give me Thin Lizzy. They did not want to hear Disturbed so they left it to me. I told Meat, “Fine, but I am going to record my intro in the bathroom while taking my morning shit.” And that’s exactly what I did. The intro was received…with grace, all thing considered, by the people who voted for Disturbed. I have no issue with David Draiman, he is an incredibly gifted and obviously trained singer. It’s just not my cup of tea. It’s not a song I wanted to hear done that way. So I did my intro the only way I knew how: with exaggerated disgust. Love it or hate it, nobody ignored it!

The weather was a challenge, but not unbeatable.  Friday afternoon and early evening, we were pelted with rain, hail and lightning.  Due to the weather forecasts, it was decided late last week that there would be no live jams this year.  The more capable among us assembled tarps and gazebos to protect the precious Wall of Sound, and us.  Standing in the refreshing rain on such a hot day, I felt like Andy Dufresne after having climbed through the mile-long shitpipe.  There were many personal highlights for me this year, but I will say this. I am glad that I slept in Saturday morning, and did not go into Flesherton to get breakfast at the Flying Spatula. A highlight of previous trips, the Spatula is now under new, surly ownership. Our guys were treated to disinterested and slow service. One group of eight guys was asked to share one booth. Disappointing. We’re disappointed in you, Flying Spatula.

The most important part of Sausagefest besides the countdown is the camaraderie. Every year it gets better, too. Many of these guys only see each other once a year. Some of us show up fatter, balder, or both. Some of us even showed up with a broken ankle. That’s dedication. It’s that important to us.

Or, as Uncle Meat sang during his interpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You”:

“Hey Scott,
Where the fuck are you?
Did you have better things to do
Than rock and roll, man?”

Can’t wait to do it all again.

A Tribute to Paul MacLeod (1970-2016) by Uncle Meat

PAUL

I first met Mac in the early 90s when I was dragged to the Walper by a mutual friend of ours Jeff Marsland (aka Chewie). Not long within the set he played Tori Amos – “Pretty Good Year” and Motorhead – “Ace of Spades” and I was hooked. Then being blown away by Six Months … as well as the re-named Hibakusha. Actually my most memorable Paul moment on stage was when Hibakusha broke into Supertramp’s “School” at the Starlight. One of the greatest covers I have ever seen.

Years after that I was fortunate enough to join the infamous MacLeod poker nights, and this was where we started becoming close friends. Also through him I was fortunate to meet and get to know his great and talented friends. We just seemed to enjoy pretty much exactly the same things… music…sports…darts…and I would say most of all…comedy. Considering how long before this I had admired him as a musician, it was surprisingly quick and easy for me to put that away and just look at him as my friend. A few times Paul brought up the first poker game I went to .. and said this statement that always made me laugh: “I had to be friends with you. You had the balls to tell me to my face, in front of my friends, that Scott Deneau was the the best guy you’ve ever seen with just a guitar and a voice.”  I can still picture the look on his face when he would say it and it still makes me laugh.

One Canada Day at the Boathouse (the year would have been 2011 ish? maybe?) Paul played two full sets of all Canadian tunes. Some of the songs he pulled out of the air that night were classic. They weren’t perfect. Some of the lyrics were wrong. But with every song the crowd just wanted to see what was coming next. His interactions with Kevin Doyle that night were so much fun. This was followed by an after hours set of Who tunes with Paul only singing and Chris Latta on guitar. Totally kicked my ass. Hard to forget moments like these.

A few amazing years of playing darts with the man. Getting my ass thoroughly kicked most of the time. Loved going to war with him for a few years on the same team. His personality shone through every dart venue we played at. What can I say? The man knew how to own a room.

I was lucky enough many times to get the gift of him just picking up his guitar and singing. Sometimes singing along but mostly just soaking it in. And then we would go back to comedy. And lots of it. Every time I would go over to his sister’s place he would be so “on” with the comedy. Relentless. The man loved making people laugh. So, included here is one of his favourite bits from his all-time favourite comedian Norm MacDonald. This is what made the funniest guy I know laugh.

Long live old Harold Delaney.

REVIEW: Paul MacLeod – Gauge (2011)

The fifth and latest review from Mike and Aaron Go to Toronto…Again!  Aaron gave me this CD…thank you dude!

This is also a SIMULTANEOUS REVIEW!  Aaron has reviewed the same album today: take a look!

GAUGE_0002PAUL MacLEOD – Gauge (2011 Busted Flat Records)

I’ve wanted to check out some solo Paul MacLeod for a while now.  I’m a huge fan of the one and only album he released with Hibakusha, the best album Rush never made.  Gauge is not like Hibakusha.  Gauge is an acoustic record, a format that does not always appeal to me.  In this case, the attraction was immediate.  These songs are incredible.

The proceedings commence with the old-tymey fun of “Be My Girl”.  Even though it’s a MacLeod original, it sounds like it could have been written in the 1930’s.  I love that about it.  If you put scratchy record sounds over it, you might not be able to tell it’s actually from 2011. “Change Your Life” on the other hand sounds more contemporary.   It has a hymn-like quality to it.  It’s very serene.

GAUGE_0003“December” sounds almost as if it was recorded live.  I’ll point out MacLeod’s excellent picking skills here.  He lets his fingers speak.  Then, the song “Hero” sounds like something that would be excellent in an electric band format.  It boasts big verses and a catchy acoustic riff.  “The Trickster” is whimsical and lullaby-like.  MacLeod lends it a theatrical flair with his expressive voice, which seems to change from song to song.  The funny thing about that is, just as I’m really getting into all the different voices he can use, the very next track is called “Instrumental”, and that’s exactly what it is.  It’s also just lovely.  “Stop” is delicate, much like the preceding instrumental.

“Another White Band” is different yet again, upbeat this time, with an incredible chorus.  Again, I can’t help but think the song would benefit from an electric version.  Then, the final track is “It Belongs to You”, a sad sounding ballad.  But check out that guitar melody and chords.  They are transcendent, to me.  There’s something pure and classic about them.

Boy, am I glad Aaron gave me this CD.  Thanks buddy.  This is one that, I suspect, is going to grow near and dear to my heart.

4.5/5 stars

GAUGE_0001

REVIEW: Hibakusha – Hibakusha (2004)

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HIBAKUSHA FRONT

HIBAKUSHA – Hibakusha (2004)

Way back in 2004 we were selling this album in our stores on consignment.  One of my co-workers said, “You have to buy this.  These guys are incredible.  They’re like a local Rush.”  Intrigued, I played the album and put it aside for myself to buy later.

For reasons unknown (probably too much music to buy and not enough money to buy it with) I didn’t buy the first and only release by Hibakusha.  It is only now, in 2013 that I have finally acquired this album.  Uncle Meat had come over to do our recent video, and he reminded me how great this album is.

This truly is a great, world-class album.  You can hear the Rush influences in the lead vocals, the complex rhythms and drum patterns, and the impeccable musicianship.  You can tell Hibakusha had listened to their fair share of the Holy Trinity in their formative years, particularly the later groove-oriented Rush circa Counterparts.  This exists simultaneously with a modern edge; a drony cloud of simple melodic elements that grounds the whole thing.  It shines that a new car, one you can’t wait to drive over and over….

Uncle Meat pointed out that there aren’t any real guitar solos until the final track!  And it’s a explosive solo at that.  The role of the lead guitar here seems not to solo, but to shower down melodic hooks.  “The Moped Song” is a great example of this.  It is a mid-tempo melodic tune with a repeating guitar hook where the solo would go.

Elsewhere, “Is It Concern?” quiets things down, until the chorus explodes with impassioned vocals.  “Televangeline” is a massive, rhythmic machine barreling forward unstoppable.  The album is loaded with great songs, great playing, terrific vocals, and memorable melodic lines.  Drums crash, fleeting fingers ride the groove from fret to fret…there isn’t a dull moment on this album.

“Masquerade” might be the best summation of the Hibakusha sound in one song.  It begins deceptively gently, before turning into in a light bass-driven groove.  Then out of nowhere comes a colossal stuttering riff straight from the Burke Shelley of Budgie school of thought.  The wailing Geddy vocals seal the deal.

My only beef about Hibakusha is the dreadful cover art.  It just screamed “indy” and failed to stand out.  There is absolutely no way I would have picked this album up off the shelves just by seeing its cover.  The cover does nothing to indicate what’s inside.

Hibakusha were Paul MacLeod (formerly of Skydiggers) on vocals and guitar, Cory Barnes (guitar and vocals), Mark McIntyre (bass) and Gord Stevenson (drums).  Even though I was almost a decade late, I’m glad I finally picked up this disc.  It had been a long time since I last heard it, and I am treating it as a happy reunion.

Great album.  Don’t hesitate to look for it online, it is easy to find.

5/5 stars