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REVIEW: Helix – Icon (2018)

HAPPY CANADA DAY from LeBrain and Superdekes! HELIX double feature!

HELIX – Icon (2018 Universal vinyl)

New Helix vinyl?  Yes please.

The Icon series of compilations used to be a budget CD line that you could pick up for $5 or under.  Now, you can even get ’em on vinyl.  Buy ’em direct from Helix mainman Brian Vollmer and he’ll sign it for you.  This copy is signed by all five current Helix members, including a pre-injury Fritz Hinz.

As far as Helix compilations go, you can’t do much with just 11 tracks.  Even so, Icon has some surprises and plenty of pleasers.  There’s also enough difference from 2016’s compilation Rock It Science to justify it.  Opening with the one-two punch of “Rock You” and “Heavy Metal Love”, Helix top loaded this thing with their best known songs.  Perfect for the newcomer, or just a great party.

From there it’s “The Dirty Dog”, a long time Helix concert favourite.  This is followed in quick succession by some great singles:  “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”, “Wild in the Streets” and the dark ballad “Deep Cuts the Knife”.  All three songs are considered to be Helix classics.  “Deep Cuts the Knife”, written by guitarist Paul Hackman, is a particularly powerful ballad.  The entire first side is from the Capitol Records years, featuring the best known Helix lineup:  Vollmer, Hinz, Hackman, Brent Doerner and Daryl Gray.

Side two has a different flavour.  Only the hit “The Kids are All Shakin'” originates in the 1980s.  This top Helix pop rock track is followed by the Helix of the 90s and today.  “Good to the Last Drop” is another ballad, but much brighter than “Deep Cuts the Knife”.  This is the original album mix, with minimal keyboards.  Then it’s “Runnin’ Wild in the 21st Century”, kicking your teeth in at lightspeed.  The last two songs feature some help from guitarist extraordinaire Sean Kelly.  A razor sharp “Even Jesus Wasn’t Loved in His Home Town” comes from 2014’s excellent Bastard of the Blues.  The aggressive rocker is based on the fact that Helix can’t even their new songs played on the radio in their home town of Kitchener, Ontario.  Finally, the 2016 single “Gene Simmons Says (Rock Is Dead)” tells the demon where it’s at!  Maybe Helix don’t get radio play in Canada but rock ain’t dead — not if Vollmer and Co. have anything to say about it!

When it comes to Helix compilations, they are so numerous that you can really take your pick.  If you really care about the band, then just buy ’em direct from Vollmer at Planet Helix.  There are loads to choose from, but only this one was ever made on vinyl.  Or, you can just go CD!  Either way, support the boys if you’re gonna buy some Helix.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Nirvana – Icon (2010)

NIRVANA – Icon (2010 budget compilation)

The Icon series of compilations is mostly shit.  One of the stinkiest of the shit is Nirvana’s installment of Icon.  Where’s “Sliver”?  There’s not one song here from Bleach.  “About A Girl” is from the Unplugged CD and “You Know You’re Right” was a “new” song added to Nirvana’s first and only official greatest hits set, Nirvana.  In fact, every song here can be found on Nirvana.

Rather than bitch bitch bitch about how shitty this CD is, and how pissed Kurt would be to have his music released in configurations that nobody in the band authorized, I’d rather just rate it and change the subject.  Enjoy the following essay.

1/5 sharts

A Brief History of Kitchener, Ontario by Michael Ladano

DOWNTOWN KITCHENERKitchener, a city of 220,000 in southern Ontario, was settled around the year 1800 on lands by the Grand River.  The Crown gifted this land to the Six Nations, who sold it.  It was settled by loyalist German Mennonites from Pennsylvania, to escape religious persecution in the United States.   The Mennonites who settled here included families such as the Schneiders, Webers, and Ebys whose names can be found on streets and buildings all over town today.  They named the settlement Sand Hills, within the Township of Waterloo.

Land was converted to farms, and the Grand River enabled an early sawmill industry.  Streets such as the present day King Street were built, as were landmarks such as the Heuther Brewery, in the early 1800’s.   The town grew with waves of German immigrants, and in 1833 Sand Hills was renamed Berlin.

LORD KITCHENERIn 1856, Berlin was connected to railways, and industry grew.  In 1912, Berlin was declared a city.  During the First World War, anti-German sentiment in 1916 caused the town to be renamed Kitchener, after Lord Kitchener, a British war hero.  His famous face adorned many British recruitment posters.  The bust of Kaiser Wilhelm was thrown into Victoria Lake.

Although some still wish to rename the city Berlin, Kitchener today boasts strong industry, easy access to excellent post-secondary education, and a huge annual Oktoberfest honoring its German heritage.  It is known for its OHL hockey team the Rangers, and for spawning many NHL athletes.  It is also known as the birthplace of William Lyon McKenzie King, Canada’s longest-serving Prime Minister and possibly the only one who regularly sought advice from a crystal ball.

Kitchener is also known for its music.  The annual Blues Festival is always popular.  Kitchener has also spawned such international musical artists as Rob Szabo, Helix and Kathryn Ladano, and world famous writers like Michael Ladano.

Come to Kitchener (only 100 km west of Toronto) in the summer to enjoy boating, hiking, biking, music festivals, and much more, including a large population of Miniature Schnauzers.  Don’t bother coming in the winter.

REVIEW: Rush – Icon (2010)

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RUSH – Icon (2010 Universal)

No “Tom Sawyer”? No “Subdivisions”? No “2112”? This baffling compilation had zero involvement from the band, and should probably be avoided. There are plenty other Rush comps — official Rush comps, longer and with better variety of tracks — to satiatate your need for the holy trinity.

I do give whatever exec put the track list together credit for including ancient classics like “The Necromancer” and “Circumstances”…but this set of obscure album tracks mixed with singles makes little sense.  It will only disappoint those looking for a good one CD Rush collection with all the songs they know.  And real Rush fans don’t need to buy discs like this.

0.5/5 stars.

  1. Working Man
  2. Fly by Night
  3. The Necromancer
  4. The Twilight Zone
  5. Closer to the Heart
  6. Circumstances
  7. Freewill
  8. Limelight
  9. The Analog Kid
  10. Red Sector A
  11. Marathon
  12. Force Ten

REVIEW: KISS – Icon and Icon 2 (2010)

The 49th and penultimate instalment in my series of Kiss reviews, all leading up to the release of Monster

KISS – Icon and Icon 2 (2010)

OK, this is where I lose it!

Fuck you, The Island Def Jam Music Group, for putting out these discs!  These suck!

Kiss Icon:  IDENTICAL to 20th Century Masters – The Millenium Collection:  The Best of Kiss Vol. 1Exactly the same, track for track.  Without the liner notes, and suckier cover art.

Kiss Icon 2:  This time, a 2 disc set.  Logically, you’d assume it would be Vol. 2 and Vol. 3 of the Millenium Collection, right?  Well, hell no.  It has some of those songs, but it also has songs that weren’t on those, like “A World Without Heroes” and “Shandi”.  But…BUT!  The first disc of this set?  It’s just Icon over again!  Yes, disc 1 of Icon 2 is just Icon, over again!  But it doesn’t tell you that.  It also has an incorrect song listed!  The cover says “Shout It Out Loud (Live)” is the last track of disc 1.  But no.  The last track on disc 1 actually is “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”, just like the Millenium Collection.

But wait, I ain’t done!  Disc 2, track 1, is “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”…AGAIN!

GAHHH!  Just…stop putting this shit out!

-101/5 stars