killer dwarfs

#766: The Blue Tape (1991)

GETTING MORE TALE #766: The Blue Tape (1991)

This blue Scotch tape has seen a lot of use over the years.  It was my first blank tape, 120 minutes.  This cassette was well loved.  Back in ’83, it contained open-air recordings of songs like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “The Mighty Quinn”.  At some point in history (early 1991) I must have recorded over it.  Let’s have a listen.

Play ►

I have a feeling I know what it is now.  Sounds like something I recorded for a girl!  It would have been for my long distance crush Tammy.

This tape was never anything more than a cheap cassette, and it sounds awfully horrendous today.  The contents, however, are still identifiable.  The reason I never sent it to her was that it didn’t pass the sound quality test when I played it back.  That was the shitty thing about cassettes.  You could pour hours into making something, and then abandon the entire project.

I’m writing this in real time as I listen.  If I’m right about my original intentions with this cassette, then I know that I’m going to find a specific song buried somewhere in the track list.  Let’s find out.

Side 1

1. Tesla – “Love Song”

The acoustic intro to the song made a perfect run-in for this lovey-dovey tape.  I’ll spare the identity of the poor girl who this was made for, but she knows!  This Tesla ballad is still utterly perfect.  Off to a good start.

2. Kiss – “Shout It Out Loud”

Whew, I sure am glad it’s not all ballads.  This track took me by surprise.  I’m glad I used a classic Kiss rocker as the second track, instead of pandering for romance with “Reason to Live”.  Good for me!

3. Cheap Trick – “The Flame”

I read a lot of hate for this song today.  In the 80s, it was my favourite Cheap Trick and it’s still in my top five.  It may be a ballad but like the Tesla one, it’s utterly perfect.  This tape is now clearly made for a girl.  I’d never do 2/3 ballads for my opening trio otherwise.

4. Warrant – “Thin Disguise”

Here I go again with the rarities!  She loved Warrant but there is no way she had this song unless she had the cassette single for “Cherry Pie”.  I did — I collected that stuff even back then.  Turns out the B-side “Thin Disguise” is one of the best Warrant tracks, even today.  It’s an acoustic/electric killer.  Jani wrote some incredible songs in his time.  This is one.

5. Warrant – “I Saw Red (Acoustic version)”

Another rarity, this time from the “I Saw Red” cassette single.  I think this simple acoustic track (just Jani and a guitar) is better than the bombastic A-side version.  Even then, I was trying to impress a girl with my music collection — how comical is that?

6. Kiss – “Reason to Live”

Ahh shit, there it is!  That is hilarious.

7. Cinderella – “Nobody’s Fool”

OK, I’m getting a little sick of the power ballads now.  The cool thing is, I know for a fact that I taped this off a cassette that she gave me for Christmas called Rulers of Rock.  I wanted to show that I appreciated the gift by including this song.  Kind of like when your favourite aunt gave you a sweater and you had to wear it when she was over to visit.

Enough with the ballads though.  Let’s get a rocker next.  Let’s hope for a rocker.

8. Kim Mitchell – “Easy to Tame”

Well, it’s not a ballad, but it ain’t a rocker either.  Kim Mitchell was a good way into a girl’s heart in the late 80s and early 90s.  Everybody loved “Patio Lanterns”.  “Easy to Tame” was kind of like it’s cooler, lesser known cousin.

9. Paul Stanley – “Hold Me, Touch Me (Think Of Me When We’re Apart)”

Jesus fuck!  I went full ballad.  This was probably my favourite ballad of all time back then.  Stanley’s guitar solo is flawlessly written and executed.  And I got three Kiss songs right there on side one.

10.  Kiss – “I’ll Be Back”

Four!  Four Kiss songs!  What a wild inclusion, too.  This is a brief, very quick, Beatles tune done a-cappella for Kiss eXposed on VHS.  I dubbed this from the video for a “soundtrack tape” that I made, and then recorded it here tape to tape.  Just a filler between two other songs, but fuck…that’s cool.

11. Killer Dwarfs – “Doesn’t Matter”

At least this ballad has balls.  We played this song a lot the previous summer.  Bob had the cassette for Dirty Weapons, and he loved this song.  A couple years later it was still good enough to include on their next album Method to the Madness.  It’s still great.

12. Triumph – “Let the Light (Shine on Me)”

I’m getting steadily more and more disgusted with myself as the ballads play on.  This one was recorded from the 7″ single, but at this point I don’t care and I just want the side to be over so I can flip the tape.

13. Quiet Riot – “Don’t Wanna Let You Go”

I’ll let myself off with a warning here, because this electric song is still pretty great.  Truthfully, I included it hoping she’d like it, as Quiet Riot wasn’t really her thing.  I was feeling nostalgic for the early 80s, the simplicity and quality of the Metal Health era.  You didn’t need a ballad to have a hit then, and indeed “Don’t Wanna Let You Go” isn’t a single.  Even in this shitty tape, Carlos’ guitar sound incredible.

14. Slaughter – “Fly to the Angels (Acoustic version)”

I put this on because she loved Slaughter but didn’t have a CD player, and this was a CD bonus track.

Side 2

I need a break from all the balladeering, but I have a feeling the mush will be just as relentless.  On the whole of side 1, there was only one track that you could call a rocker!

1. Judas Priest – “Out in the Cold”

Here it is!  Yes, I sure do remember making this tape.  The main motivation was — get this — to trick her into liking Judas Priest.

She hated Priest.  Meanwhile, we were in the Painkiller era and I was riding a Priest high.  I planned to write this song on the cover as:

1. Exciter – “Out in the Cold”

I used an alias (disregarding the thrash band with the same name because I know she wouldn’t recognize it) because I wanted her to hear this awesome Priest song with no preconceived notions.  I wanted her to love it.  I never found out since the cassette sounds so terribly bad and I never sent it, but this proves that I remembered my intentions correctly.

This sheds a new light on all the balladry.  I was trying to really lull her in.  I figured I needed a tape with nothing but the best soft songs in the world to really get her with the mighty Priest.  It’s all coming back to me now.

2. Frehley’s Comet – “It’s Over Now”

I didn’t think she would know this one, but I hoped she’d like it.  I was a big proponent of the second Frehley disc, appropriately called Second Sighting.  I always thought this song should have been a huge, huge hit.  I was hoping she would agree.  Unusually for a Frehley song (but wiser from a commercial ballad point of view), it has both lead vocals and lead guitar by Tod Howarth.

3. Frozen Ghost – “Promises”

This one takes me completely by surprises.  It’s a great song, but I didn’t have it back then.  My sister did — I must have poached it from her collection for this tape.  Bob played this a lot in the car over the last couple summers, so our whole gang would remember it fondly.  She would have been in the car when we were rocking Frozen Ghost.  Lead singer Arnold Lanni later went on to become quite a successful producer.  Guitarist Phil X made it even bigger, now touring the world with Bon Jovi!

4. Lee Aaron – “Only Human”

I don’t think this is one of Lee’s finer moments, but I thought she’d like it, so on it went.

5. Winger – “Miles Away”

Putrid.  Just awful.  Fast forwarding.

6. AC/DC – “Moneytalks”

Holy shit!  Finally a rock song.  AC/DC were huge in ’90-’91.  I couldn’t have gone wrong with AC/DC.  Then why the fuck didn’t I include more?  “Who Made Who”.  “You Shook Me All Night Long”.  Everybody likes those songs.  Holy shitballs.

7. Motley Crue – “Home Sweet Home”

Tammy had Dr. Feelgood before I did, but I don’t know if she would have Theater of Pain back then.  There was no such thing as a Motley greatest hits (can you imagine such a world?) so I thought this would be nice for her to have.

8. Van Halen – “Dreams”

OK, probably not a ballad.  Very keyboard-heavy.  Very easy to enjoy, and Van Hagar were still cool as fuck.

9. Van Halen – “Dancing in the Streets”

Some folks that are not necessarily Van Halen fans really like their version of “Dancing in the Streets”.  It’s probably better than Bowie/Jagger, at least.  I’m pleased with myself for including both Sammy and Dave on this tape, and one after the other no less!

10. REZ – “Shadows”

Woah!  Deep cut.  This was a tape, of a tape, of a tape, of a tape.  You can imagine what it sounds like today.  Bob and I loved this song by the Christian rock band REZ, formerly Resurrection Band.  You can see that I snuck in a few unfamiliar songs like this, hoping she’d get into them.  This one is pretty easy to like.  Total shock to find it here.

11. Kiss – “Hard Luck Woman”

Kiss Count:  five.

12. Brighton Rock – “One More Try”

This also comes as a surprise.  Then I think to myself that my music collection wasn’t very large back then and I would have to pull a few obscure ones out.  If I remember the details clearly, Tammy had MTV and so didn’t necessarily hear as much Canadian content like Brighton Rock.

13. AC/DC – “You Shook Me All Night Long”

Ah, good.  What’s interesting to me about this is that at this point of the tape, the right channel is completely inaudible.  So all I get is Angus (no Malcolm), Brian, and maybe half of Phil Rudd.

To my surprise, that is the last song.  Usually I snuck something short and goofy at the end of a tape.  “You Shook Me All Night Long” does make a good final song….

Wait!

I didn’t erase the tape to the end!  There is something left at the tail.  Older contents; older than 1991.

It’s “On the Road to Rock” by Kick Axe!  It is a mystery how that song got on this tape in the first place, as I didn’t own it back then and don’t even own it now.  I must have recorded it off someone.  Who, I have no idea.  Perhaps my next door neighbour George had it.  It was him or Bob, but I’ll never know for sure.  George is gone now and Bob wouldn’t remember.

Knowing when I made this tape, and all the motivations behind it doesn’t forgive it for being a piece of shit. I did a shitty job here folks! Too many ballads, not enough variety. It’s a real slog to listen to without a fast forward button. At least half of those ballads could be axed, and replaced with something else that I had in my collection at that time.

Usually when you make a tape for someone, you give it away and never hear it again. In this case I had the rare chance to play back a mix tape that I made 28 years ago and never sent. It’s just as bad as I feared though not without some surprises and the odd cool inclusion.

That blue Scotch tape, an ancient C-120, goes back to at least 1983 making it 36 years old at minimum.  120 minute tapes are never any good, and this one was always particularly cheap.  Now that I’ve satisfied my curiosity, I will never play this tape again.

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VHS Archives #73: Killer Dwarfs interview + Bruce Dickinson rips off Darrell Dwarf’s undies! (1989)

“‘Arry wants it…’Arry gets it.” – Killer Dwarfs

You won’t believe this got broadcast on daytime television!

Laurie Brown talked to the Killer Dwarfs in rehearsal for their excellent fourth LP Dirty Weapons. Additionally you will hear a preview for a new song called “Nothing Gets Nothing” live in concert, plus some behind the scenes footage.  The band talk about the music scene in Canada at the time (not good) and touring with Iron Maiden.  “What Harry wants, Harry gets,” they tell us.

But the real reason you’re watching this video is to see Bruce Dickinson rip the pants right off Darrell Dwarf.  It was the last night of the tour and therefore prank night!  Enjoy seeing “all of Darrell” as the audience did that night!

 

VHS Archives #22: Killer Dwarfs Power Hour bumper (1987)

So glad I found this!  Pepsi Power Hour bumper from 1987 starring the Killer Dwarfs!

 

VHS Archives #15: Killer Dwarfs on MuchMusic (1986 and 1990)

Here are two MuchMusic clips featuring the Killer Dwarfs!

First is Russell and Darrell Dwarf in the Much studios in 1986. You can see just how small these guys are! Then in 1990 (they must have grown a bit by then) it’s Mike and Darrell Dwarf talking about their newest album Dirty Weapons.

Great, heavy band with a sense of humour.  Check ’em out!

 

REVIEW: Brian Byrne – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and if it Rains… (2006)

Scan_20160505 (2)BRIAN BYRNE – Tuesdays, Thursdays, and if it Rains… (2006 Kindling Music)

Strangely, I first heard Brian Byrne’s solo single debut, “Far From Good”, on a local lite-rock radio station that I usually try to avoid.  The song caught my ear for its upbeat, country-rock sound, with bouncy violin and piano on top.  A neat mix.  When they said it was by Brian Byrne, I stopped myself.  Couldn’t be the I Mother Earth singer getting played on a lite-rock station, could it?  But it was.  I promptly ordered the CD from the Record Store at which I formerly worked.  The disc arrived in a few days, great condition, except for the promo-cut jewel case.  They normally should have replaced the case before the CD shipped, but somebody missed it.  I didn’t want to ask for a new case, because I just left the place six months before and I didn’t want to become “that” customer!

But enough about me, what about Byrne?  Here he worked with near-legendary Canadian producer Tim Thorney, as well as former Killer Dwarfs guitarist Gerry Finn.  (Byrne and Finn both hail from Newfoundland.)  I Mother Earth were deactivated, and Byrne honed Tuesdays, Thursdays and if it Rains… into a pleasing acoustic rock album, very “singer-songwriter” in sound.

“Far From Good” is the highlight, being the most immediate and lively.  The album is diverse.  The opening track “Days Go On” has elements of country, funk, classic rock and soul.  The juicy organ parts really suck you in.  “Jen’s Song” is one of many ballads, this one reminding me of 80’s Phil Collins for some reason.  Byrne gets to let his voice speak more than he does in the louder I Mother Earth.  Then there’s a big chorus on “Sweet Love”, a better light country rock tune than Bon Jovi’s ever written.  This is like country-Jovi, but with integrity and feelings, and not a lot of flash.  “Nova Dashboard” is a lovely, bluesy country ballad along the lines of Blue Rodeo’s dusky favourites.  The guitars (by Thorney) get right under your skin.

I could go on and on, but all the songs have a quiet, smouldering power to them.  The light and shade of the album sounds quintessentially Canadian to me, and the calibre of the musicianship is above reproach.  Expect an album of diverse music crossing several genres, but do not expect I Mother Earth.  Byrne almost went as far in another direction as you could imagine.  And that is really cool, because he does it so well.

3.5/5 stars

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REVIEW: Killer Dwarfs – Reunion of Scribes Live 2001

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Mike and Aaron are doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums that these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

 

 

“You guys do like to drink, don’t ya?  You are Canadian aren’t ya?  Most of us are Canadian in here, except for there’s one guy that I know of.  Security!”  — Russ Dwarf

Scan_20160313KILLER DWARFS – Reunion of Scribes Live 2001 (2002 Bullseye)

Aaron scored this for cheap at his “junk shop” and passed it down to me.  It was the only Killer Dwarfs CD I was missing — and for good reason.  I had the chance to hear it once, at the Record Store, while I was working for a stretch in Hamilton.   I didn’t think much of it then.  Has anything changed?

The Killer Dwarfs quietly went extinct after their final studio album, 1992’s Method to the Madness.  10 years later, the band reunited including Mike (Hall) Dwarf, who had actually left the band prior to 1992.  This is a full reunion of the classic lineup:  The Dwarfs Russty, Mike, Darrell and Bad Ronbo.  Let’s “Go DuNK” and see what the Killer Dwarfs 2001 sounded like.  At one hour and 11 minutes, Reunion of Scribes is the longest Killer Dwarfs album to date.

Strangely enough for a Canadian band, the concert begins with a recording of “The U.S. Air Force” (also known as “The Wild Blue Yonder”) before the band emerges with a limp version of their own “Dirty Weapons”.  What’s the problem?  It’s certainly not Russ Dwarf, who sounds vintage strong.   The guitar is too thin, and blemished with sour notes here and there.  Hey, it’s been a long time since Mike was a Dwarf!  The drums also sound disconnected from the song from time to time.  Chock it up to a bad recording?  (At the Docks, in Toronto.)  “Stand Tall” also suffers: the guitar needs to be front and center.  The sound of the band suddenly becomes sparse and weak every time Mike Dwarf stops playing the riff in order to lay down a solo.  The bass isn’t fat enough to fill the gap.

Another weakness to this recording is a concentration on songs from 1988-1992.  There’s nothing at all from their first self-titled album, even their first single “Heavy Mental Breakdown”, the song that helped put them on the map.  Instead the Dwarfs focused on more radio-friendly later music for this set.  Of that tunage, most of the hits are here:  “Stand Tall”, “Keep the Spirit Alive”, “Dirty Weapons”, “Doesn’t Matter”, “Hard Luck Town”.  Their first big label single, “We Stand Alone” is missing from the set, which instead includes lots of notable album cuts.  The best of these include “Believe in Me” from their second album Stand Tall.  Russ Dwarf’s ageless voice delivers hard-edged numbers like “Starting to Shine”, “Last Laugh”, “Nothin’ Gets Nothin'”, and “Comin’ Through” with all its usual intensity.

The most emotional moment (for fans) has to be the ballad “Doesn’t Matter”.  “Roll the dice and play the game, for the fortune and the fame.”  The Dwarfs did roll the dice, at least they tried.  “Doesn’t Matter” is a pretty simple lyrically:  get out there and give’r.*  The live recording doesn’t deliver its full power, but I do get the feels to hear them return to Toronto and play this song for their friends.

Most of these songs are still high-quality hard rock workhorses.  While Russ Dwarf brings it all and then some, the poor recording renders Reunion of Scribes an album that will only get infrequent plays at LeBrain HQ.

2/5 stars

* The Killer Dwarfs are the only band I can think of who actually used the word “give’r” in a song lyric.

REVIEW: Russ Dwarf – Wireless (2013)

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Mike and Aaron will be doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

Aaron’s review: Russ Dwarf – Wireless

RUSS DWARFS – Wireless (2013 Smoothline)

I don’t know where Aaron finds this stuff up in Owen Sound, but here is a pristine digipack CD of Russ Dwarf (of Killer Dwarf) and friends doing acoustic versions of old Killer Dwarfs classics.  Wireless is a great name for such a venture, and the friends list includes Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses) and Glen Drover (ex-Megadeth).  Holed up in a studio in Newmarket, Ontario they laid down some pretty cool acoustic renditions of these numbers.

“Keep the Spirit Alive” remains irresistible today in acoustic form.  That’s because a good song has a lifespan.  A great chorus and memorable lyrics plus a pinch of magic made “Keep the Spirit Alive” a minor hit.  It’s one of the most purely enjoyable Dwarfs tunes and works well as an acoustic spirit booster.  Russ can still hit all the notes.  From the same album (Stand Tall, 1986) comes “Stand Tall”, which also makes the acoustic transition successfully.  A pretty incredible guitar solo (it’s not clear who is playing what) ensures this isn’t just “KD Lite”.

1988’s “I’m Alive” was an upbeat morale booster in its band arrangement.  Acoustically it’s the campfire version of the same thing.  The musical arrangements on Wireless do not deviate very far from the originals.  There are no radical re-imaginings.  What makes Wireless special for fans is Russell Graham’s earnest and still strong vocals, and of course the impressive six-string slinging of Drover and Bumblefoot.  The harder rock songs transition into an acoustic versions well enough, but ballads like “Doesn’t Matter” really shine.  A touch of piano and a vintage Russell vocal are the perfect topping.  A lot of this sounds live in the studio.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of time was spent mucking around fixing things in the mix, or sweetening things up.   What it sounds like, more or less, is Russ singing live in your living room.

The one thing that I did not think would work acoustically was “Comin’ Through”, the angry barnstormer from Dirty Weapons (1990).   It exists acoustically as a semi-epic and righteous twister through the plains of Canada.  “Crazy fuckin’ people living in the past, can’t you see that ain’t gonna last?” sings Russ with all the grit of the original.  Whatever Mr. Dwarf is doing to maintain his voice…well, good on you sir!  “Dirty Weapons” itself is mournful and slow rather than aggressive.  Interestingly, Russ arranged this album in chronological order.  The last three songs are from the final Dwarfs studio album Method to the Madness (1992).  That puts a nice bow on it, serving as a reminder that the Killer Dwarfs were still writing great tunes right to the end.  I can’t think of a better tune to end with than “Driftin’ Back”.

I quite liked Wireless and recommend it to any fan of the mighty mites known as Killer Dwarfs who wants to check out some quieter versions of their best material.  No new songs, sadly.  That would have been bitchin’.

3.5/5 stars

Spot the Mitch

Spot the Mitch

#333: Social Media

LEBRAIN FACEBOOK

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#333: Social Media

“Social media”, as they call it today, is nothing new.  Before Twitter there was Facebook.  Before Facebook there was MySpace.  Before MySpace there was Friendster, and so on.  What has changed is the degree to which we have included social media sites into our lives.  They’re already integrated into our phones and software, making it easy to dive in.  Some have shunned all social media, and who can blame them?  It’s not for everybody to put your life out there, or to see these endless streams of useless info pouring in.  If you only have “x” amount of online time a day, it’s easy enough to waste it all on Facebook.

Social media has its ups and downs.  Obviously we can now see breaking news all over the world as it happens.  We can also see false rumours start like fires, with “re-tweets” and “shares”.  You know this and I know this, so I won’t spend too much time commenting on it.  Social media can be a brain-killer.  It can reduce our teens to near illiteracy, as they spout their “urs” and “lols”.  (“Ur” drives me nuts.  Is it so hard to type “your”?)  Social media must be used wisely, if you choose to partake.  To the ignorant, it can have devastating results.

I believe in using social media for myself, but wisely.  Here are some positive things that have come from social media:

IMG_20141028_1715151. Direct contact with the stars.

The one time I received a message from Sebastian Bach (ex-Skid Row) regarding something I wrote on MySpace about Helix was pretty exciting to me.  Now, you can tweet your own thoughts to your rock star heroes, and some of them actually read them!  Our good friend Heavy Metal OverloRd received a direct response from David Coverdale of Whitesnake, to his suggestion for a future Whitesnake DVD release.  I’ve been thanked or complimented for my reviews and stories by members of Helix, Killer Dwarfs, Harem Scarem and Judas Priest.  Dave Bidini liked that my reviews are “different” from the mainstream, and that comment really made me feel great!

The kind of interaction we can have today with our rock heroes is unprecedented.  I don’t mean the types who hire a social media guru to do all their online posts.  I mean the kind who are hands-on with their accounts.  I enjoy having the chance to say to somebody, “I really liked that song.”  Music is about communication and it’s nice to have another avenue of feedback.

2. Creating your own social groups.

Here on WordPress, there is a strong, supportive community of writers.  Some of us are pros, most of us are not.  Quite organically, many of us have grouped together to read, support, and offer feedback.  There’s no organization to it, it’s just a bunch of us here who have similar interests and comment regularly.  There’s no exclusion.  It’s just writers who read and enjoy each other’s work.  It’s a great, positive atmosphere that I believe has made us all better writers.  Very little negativity seems to happen here.

3. Surprise “follows”.

I’m fascinated by the people who follow me on Twitter.  Even though I’d never contacted her, followed her, or reviewed any of her music, Serena Ryder follows me.  I don’t know why, but I still think that’s pretty cool.  Other surprise followers included Olivia Black of Pawn Stars fame.  Leatherwolf followed me, and I’ve been a fan of theirs for a long time.  Then, I was followed by local cosmetic surgeon Dr. Takhar. I assume she heard me on the radio, rather than thinking I need some work done…but I could be wrong!

Best for me though, a couple writers I really admire have read some of my stuff, and have left positive comments.  That means more than any Pawn Star or plastic surgeon.  I really looked up to those two guys when I was starting to write.

SERENA RYDER FOLLOWS ME


There have also been some drawbacks to social media.

1. Too much music.

For every band that I love who has followed me, such as the aforementioned Helix and Killer Dwarfs, there are plenty that I’ve never heard of.  Some turned out to be pretty good!  But each one would probably like if I had a chance to listen to their music and review it.  I only wish I had the time!  I have a home life, and I work full time.  Mikeladano.com is something I do in my spare time, and it’s something I love doing.  I love listening to and talking about music.  I wish there were enough hours in the day to listen to everyone.  I guess there is such a thing as “too much music”.

2. Haters gonna hate.

You’re going to encounter haters online.  Geoff Tate fans, for example, have made a nuisance of themselves here in the past.  Worst for me personally were the Record Store Tales haters.  Social media meant it was inevitable that Record Store Tales would be read by people who didn’t like what I wrote, or that I wrote anything at all!


Regardless of the drawbacks, I don’t regret using social media to promote mikeladano.com.  I’ve made readers out of people who only knew me as “LeBrain” on the radio, and that’s what I was going for in the first place.

If you don’t like social media, I get that.  I support your decision to use it or not.  Aside from a few bumps in the road, it’s worked well for me to get my stories and reviews out there.  It’s part of the online landscape now, like it or not!

REVIEW: A World With Heroes EP

NEW RELEASE

A WORLD WITHA World With Heroes EP – A KISS Tribute for Cancer Care (Anniversary release)

You’ve heard me talking a lot about this one lately.  It’s a release I’m really excited about.  The record shows that I heartily approved of last year’s A World With Heroes (A Kiss Tribute for Cancer Care), assembled by Mitch Lafon.  Proceeds went to benefit the Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence in Hudson, Quebec.  And it was a killer, killer CD as my 5/5 star rating attested to.  To hear there was an EP coming featuring more Kiss covers, that peaked my interest.  Lafon always makes sure that there are quality tunes, performed by artists we care about.

The Killer Dwarfs do “C’mon and Love Me” just right.  I like that Russ Dwarf throws in some of Gene’s mannerisms in the chorus, but also sings it in his own voice.  If you like Killer Dwarfs and Kiss, you will love this, guaranteed.  Once again, the A World With Heroes series has delivered a solid Kiss cover that is valuable to fans.

“Calling Dr. Love” as performed by Crash Kelly is a real rarity.  You had to pre-donate to the original compilation CD to get an mp3 of it.  Now you can buy it on the EP.  They turn in a fun version of “Dr. Love”.  They make it a bit more pop rock in feel, and Sean Kelly absolutely nails Ace’s solo note for note.  It’s uncanny.  We all know Sean is a talented axeman, but that solo was flawless.

“Save Your Love” is an awesome Ace song, but Matt Bradshaw’s take on it is unique to say the least.  He transforms it into a funky acoustic ballad.  But it works!  I was prepared to hate it but was pleasantly surprised.  It’s bizarre how the song completely works in this format.  This is an example of an intelligent, innovative cover — something that is rare these days.   Brilliant cover.  Seriously.

“Every Time I Look at You” was originally from the Revenge album.  Some fans assume that Bruce Kulick played the guitar solo, but it was in fact Bob Ezrin’s old pal, Dick Wagner.  Dick Wagner passed away recently, at age 71.  This was his last song ever, which makes his version of this song that much more poignant.  His quavering voice speaks of the years past, but much like a late period Johnny Cash album, it only adds character to the song.  He sounds like a cross between Bob Dylan and Keith Richards.  The guitar work is lovely of course.

The Dwarfs return with “Nothin’ to Lose” from the first album.  Once again Russ nails the Gene mannerisms, while still sounding like Russ Dwarf.  This one is replete with piano and cowbell (Piano is by Bruce Stephen Foster, who also played on the Kiss original!).  I gotta be honest with you, I like the idea of the Dwarfs covering Kiss songs.  They can do more if they want.  They’re allowed.

Sudden Flames are a metal band from Quebec City.  They heavy up “Coming Home” considerably.  It’s one of my favourite Kiss songs ever, so it’s kind of funny to hear it with drums blasting away like this.  Like “Dr. Love”, this song was only available to those who donated in advance to the original CD.  Now you can get it on iTunes too.   I enjoy hearing their Québécois accents, truly one of the greatest accents on this Earth.

I only wish this was a physical release.

4.5/5 stars

  1. “C’Mon and Love Me” – Killer Dwarfs
  2. “Calling Dr. Love” – Crash Kelly
  3. “Save Your Love” – Matt Bradshaw
  4. “Every Time I Look At You” – Dick Wagner
  5. “Nothin’ To Lose” – Killer Dwarfs
  6. “Coming Home” – Sudden FlamesA WORLD WITH EP

 

 

REVIEW: Metal On Ice – Various artists (2013)

NEW…ish RELEASE!

METAL ON ICE – Tunes from Canada’s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal heroes (2013 Warner Canada)

Good Sir Aaron purchased this for me at his local establishment for the low, low price of $5.  In Aaron’s review, he stated, “This is the best $5 I’ve spent on spec in ages. Bar none.”  That’s mighty tribute from a guy like Aaron, who buys a lot of CDs on spec.

What is Metal On Ice?  The talented guitarist Sean Kelly (Crash Kelly, Four By Fate, The #1 Classical Guitar Album) put together a book of rock tales from Canada’s best of the 80’s:  Helix, Anvil, Coney Hatch, Killer Dwarfs, Kick Axe and more.  To go with it, he also produced this EP.  Metal On Ice, the CD, consists of remakes of Canadian heavy metal classics.  For all but one song, he has the original singers from the bands singing lead vocals.  For the one that he doesn’t, (Kick Axe’s “On the Road to Rock”) he has Nick Walsh from Slik Toxik.  Then to top it all off, he and Walsh wrote a new song called “Metal On Ice” featuring vocals from almost everybody.

Many of these songs are radio staples.  “Heavy Metal Love” is one of those Helix classics that has endured.  Written by Brian Vollmer and the late Paul Hackman, I think it’s one of Helix’s best tunes, period.  Vollmer’s pipes speak for themselves.  Sean Kelly was in Helix, on bass, for a few months before Brian reunited the classic lineup.  Playing bass on this version however is Helix bassist Daryl Gray.  It’s a pretty authentic remake.

METAL ON ICEI found “Metal Queen” by Lee Aaron to be the most impressive track.  I cannot believe Lee’s voice, powerful as ever!  With the new production and guitars by Sean Kelly, “Metal Queen” has actually been improved.  It’s still an old-school metal chugger, but you can actually hear the lyrics now!  What is important is that Kelly has not changed the songs very much at all.  His impressively tasteful playing is enough to make each one shine just a little more.  Each solo is 100% appropriate to the classic songs.

A great example of this is the Headpins’ “Don’t It Make Ya Feel” featuring Darby Mills.  He has captured the vibe of the original guitar tone, and the song is very authentic.  Similarly, Nick Walsh does not deviate too much from George Criston’s lead vocals from “On the Road to Rock”.  When Walsh screams the high notes, it’s perfect.   Carl Dixon sings lead on Coney Hatch’s classic “Hey Operator”.  Dixon nearly died in a car accident not too long ago; it’s great to hear his voice as strong as ever.  How do these Canadian singers stay perpetually young sounding?  Is it our cold, frosty air?

Russ Dwarf returns to remake the Killer Dwarfs favourite, “Keep the Spirit Alive”.  This has always been my favourite Killer Dwarfs song, right from the very beginning.  It’s absolutely wonderful to hear a well produced updated version.  I admit that when I first got this CD, I went back and played “Keep the Spirit Alive” four or five times in a row.

Finally, there is the new original song “Metal on Ice”.  This ode to the road features lead vocals from Dixon, Vollmer, Mills, Walsh and Aaron.  I love the lyrics: “Hello Kelowna, goodbye Kenora, but we do it all tomorrow in Thunder Bay,” for example.  It is these kinds of Canadian towns that has kept the rock alive through trends and changing winds.  Walsh proudly proclaims that even though they may never make it to the top, they’re never going to stop.

A great sentiment on which to end a great CD.

4.5/5 stars