In Loving Memory Of…

REVIEW: Big Wreck – In Loving Memory Of… (20th Anniversary edition)

BIG WRECK – In Loving Memory Of… (Originally 1997, 2017 Linus Entertainment anniversary edition)

“You need to get into some new bands, man,” said my buddy T-Rev.

Trevor had a point.  Most of my collection was rooted in the 70s and 80s.  New bands weren’t appealing to me, one or two excepted.  But I did hear this new band on the radio (Q107) called Big Wreck that I didn’t mind.  “Like a bluesy Soundgarden with a hint of Rush” said the DJ.  Their first single “The Oaf” was pretty awesome.

“I found a new band I liked,” I told Trevor.  “Big Wreck.”

“Hahaha, oh man.  You found a new band and they suck!” he retorted.  Trevor was really into Brit-pop and probably hoped I would have discovered the Bluetones or Supergrass.  Alas, it wasn’t to be this time.  I bought the Big Wreck album In Loving Memory Of…, and I liked it enough to get the 20th Anniversary Special Edition two decades later.

Big Wreck were a little bit of a throwback.  Their use of blues was different from the post-grunge bands they were competing with, and that’s what initially appealed to me.  And yes, Ian Thornley could be compared to Chris Cornell in terms of singing power.

The album boasted a number of immediate standouts.  “The Oaf” was the tough introduction, but “That Song” followed it with something immediately accessible.  “Look What I Found” takes a trip to the levee, emulating a Zeppelin stomp through the production of 1997.

There’s a balance of heavy/light here, that skews too much on the light side.  Fortunately the two CD bonus tracks put the scales back on the heavy side.  The only real weakness to In Loving Memory Of… is a reliance on slow songs within the bulk of the album.  Some of the quiet songs are incredible.  “Under the Lighthouse” (a single in Canada only) has atmosphere out the wazoo.  Echoes of heartbreak are smeared through “Blown Wide Open”, another single.

If I had to put my money on it, I’d say “Under the Lighthouse” is the best song on the disc, ballad or not.

In Loving Memory Of… is most enjoyable when jaunting through bluesy rock guitars.  The musicianship is always exceptional.  “How Would You Know”,  “Fall Through the Cracks”, “Overemphasising” and “Between You and I” are comfortably in rocky framework, with outstanding lead work.  The album does run a bit long, though.  In 1997, the full length value of a CD was being utilised more than today, now that bands realise less is often more.  The original 13 tracks ran an hour long, which is probably 15 minutes too long.

Yet the two additional bonus tracks are excellent.  Both speed along at a good clip.  The bright “Ill Advice” is more upbeat than most of the album, save “That Song”.  “Still Holding” has punch.  The album would have been stronger for their inclusion if they had been there all along, despite its length!

Fixin’ for a shot of 90s nostalgia?  The Big Wreck anniversary edition might be what you needed.  The band are playing the whole album in sequence on their current tour, so you may as well become re-acquainted.

3.5/5 stars

 

#645: Catching Up

GETTING MORE TALE #645: Catching Up

The last couple months were pretty crazy.  I was clocked out.  My wife’s cancer diagnosis and surgery really took their toll on me.  This resulted in me getting very sick right during Christmas holidays.  There has been so much chaos that I really haven’t paid attention to music.  I neglected my reading, I didn’t buy anything, and I didn’t listen to much either.  I’m just starting to get caught up now that Jen’s surgery seems to have gone so well.  She’s getting a little more independence back, and I’m able to take a little time to listen to music and write about it again.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about my history with the band Queen.  I am on a Queen kick, but until recently I was missing two of Queen’s discs in the 2 CD format:  Hot Space and A Kind of Magic.  Eager to get back into the game, I ordered both from Amazon on a whim.  I’m surprised how much I’m enjoying Hot Space.  You wouldn’t think those synths and I would get along, but I’m digging the soul!  I already owned one version of A Kind of Magic, the 1991 Hollywood CD, but the extra disc has seven bonus tracks.

Soon after, the new CD by Mike Slayen called DUDE came by the post.  That enjoyed a couple spins, but I really wanted to go shopping again.  I haven’t been to a record store since the stress kicked in.  I had no idea what I was going in for, but I wanted to leave with a purchase.  There have been plenty of new releases that I missed, and reissues too.  The problem with new releases is, I don’t like to buy anything until I know what is on the Japanese version.  I want the maximum amount of bonus music.  So I decided to look at reissues instead and skip new releases.  Fortunately for me there was plenty going on in reissues.

Big Wreck’s 20th Anniversary edition of their debut In Loving Memory Of… was my first grab.  I didn’t think it was going to have bonus tracks on it, but it does:  “Ill Advice” and “Still Holding”.  I used to love that album, and I don’t know those two songs, so that was an easy buy.  For those who don’t know this band, check out the big single “That Song”.  Other hits you may know from this album are “The Oaf (My Luck is Wasted)” and “Under the Lighthouse”.

I then spied the recent 40th Anniversary edition of Rush’s classic A Farewell to Kings.  The 3 CD set was $30, so I tucked it under my arm.  Then I thought to myself, “You know what, I’d better check to make sure there isn’t another edition with more songs.”  Good thing I did.  Blabbermouth told me that there was a version with a brand new 5.1 surround mix by Steven Wilson on a blu-ray.  OK, then.  That had to be the one I get.  Via the Sectors box sets and other super deluxe editions, I already had every other Rush 5.1 mix.

How much?

$149.99.

Ahh, fuck it.  I earned this.

3 CDs, 1 blu-ray, and 4 LPs of vinyl, plus assorted goodies like a Rush turntable mat, a tour program and lithographs.  The CDs and vinyl include an unreleased (in full) concert, Live at Hammersmith Odeon – February 20, 1978.  A portion of this concert (11 tracks) was released in 1998 on a bonus CD to Rush’s live Different Stages.  This box set has the full 14 song (plus drum solo) performance, newly mixed by Terry Brown himself.  On blu-ray you will find the 5.1 and the stereo mix of the album A Farewell to Kings, in studio-quality clarity, plus three music videos.  Mixer Steven Wilson is generally considered one of the great masters of the 5.1 art.  The Sector 2 mix by Richard Chycki received a mixed to negative reception from fans, so I look forward to comparing.

And there’s still more:  new Rush covers by Dream Theater, Big Wreck (hey, Big Wreck again!), The Trews and Alain Johannes.  Plus a final mystery bonus track called “Cygnus X-2 Eh!”

It’s going to be fun digging into the Rush over  the next week or so.  But I wasn’t done catching up.  Because of all the shit that happened, I didn’t get to see Star Wars in the theatres.  Yes, I’m sorry folks, I’ll admit it:  Until now I only saw The Last Jedi online.  This, of course, could not stand.  I must see every Star Wars Saga film in the theatre three times, minimum.  For The Force Awakens, it was four.  Fortunately the Waterloo Galaxy still had a 3D screening, which has disappeared elsewhere in town.  Now I just have to see it two more times (2D will do fine).

I still have quite a few issues with The Last Jedi.  The slow motion is annoying as hell, and the Finn/Rose side story is still just a side story.  The ending is still at odds with set style of the saga Saga, and the movie could have used some editing.  In general I enjoyed the film more this time.  The Last Jedi is more poem than plot, but it has many rhymes.  I think it’s a fine Star Wars movie, and the fanboy overreaction is ridiculous.

Catching up feels great.  Music and movies still work as the best kind of escape.  I highly recommend both.