limited edition

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Made In Japan (4CD/1 DVD box set) Part 3

NEW RELEASE: Part 3

This box set is so massive, I needed to review it in three installments.  The first two can be found here:
DEEP PURPLE – Made In Japan Part 1
DEEP PURPLE – Made In Japan Part 2

DEEP PURPLE – Made In Japan (2014 limited edition Super Deluxe box set)

“Smoke on the Water” Japanese 7″ promo.  This is a reproduction of a rare Japanese promo single from 1972, sleeve and all.  It is pressed on heavy 70 gram vinyl, a treat indeed.  It features the promotional single edit of the studio version, and an edit of the Made In Japan version on the other side.   The studio edit is available on plenty of releases, such as Singles A’s and B’s.  The live edit is one that I don’t think I owned prior to this.  I actually enjoy something like this; it’s interesting to see where and how they did the edits, from a technical point of view.

Including a 7″ single in a box set of this size is something I wholeheartedly support.  Not only do I love the vinyl format, but when you spend this much money ($115 Canadian) in one place, you deserve something extra.  A lot of the stuff included in box sets these days, even in this box set, amounts to nothing more than paper.  Music trumps packaging, so I’ll always take something like a bonus vinyl, especially when it has an exclusive track on it.

Interestingly, on this printing, the times for the two tracks are reversed.  The live version is the longer, not the shorter as the label suggests.


LORDDVD:  Made In Japan: The Rise of Deep Purple MKII and more.

This hour-long documentary consists of new and archival footage and interviews, assembled into a narrative.  Old footage of Deep Purple MKI begins our story.  The shortcomings of this lineup led the core members of Ian Paice, Jon Lord, and Ritchie Blackmore to seek new bandmates.  They had gone as far as they could musically with Nick Simper (bass) and Rod Evans (vocals).  In stepped Roger Glover and rock’s greatest screamer, Ian Gillan.  Then, the big albums:  In Rock, Fireball, and Machine Head.

Strangely, it was a tax loophole that led to Machine Head. It was expected that the fortunes of the band would only rise, but British tax laws would keep them all paupers.  If they became tax exiles, and wrote and recorded in mainland Europe, they would not be taxed.  This led them to Montreux, Switzerland.  According to Claude Nobs, they were planning on recording an album called Made In Switzerland.  Nobs invited them to record at the local casino, and the circumstances of this have been well documented.  A Frank Zappa concert that night was attended by Deep Purple and Nobs.  Someone fired a flare gun into the bamboo ceiling, and the place went up in smoke.  This DVD has the audio of Zappa asking the audience to leave!

The place did indeed burn to the ground.  Luckily Deep Purple had not yet moved in their gear, or it too would be gone.  Next they tried recording in a small theater, but noise complaints caused them to move again.  It took almost a week to find the Grand Hotel, which was closed for the winter.  Perfect.  The results speak for themselves.  Machine Head is the classic Deep Purple album.  But according to Blackmore, it was Made In Japan that made them a phenomenon.  It was a live album that they didn’t want to do, but could not have regretted doing.

Bruce Dickinson, James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, and more show up to discuss the impact of Made In Japan on themselves.  Dickinson points out that the remarkable thing is that Made In Japan is 100% live.  There are no overdubs.  Martin Birch managed to capture it raw.  There’s a lot of great footage here; live footage, showing the interplay of the band.

IMG_20140607_062755

Next, the band headed to Rome to record the difficult Who Do We Think We Are.  Made In Japan had not even been released in America yet, only Japan, until mass importing of the record forced the label to release it.  Unfortunately at the height of their powers, Ian Gillan and Ritchie Blackmore had a massive falling out.  Ian resigned.  Blackmore and Paice almost formed a trio with Phil Lynott.  Glover was fired, which was a condition Blackmore set to stay in Deep Purple.  A final Japanese tour was the last commitment of the band.  Glover describes a cold atmosphere, and the tension in the air.

Glenn Hughes appears next, remembering a Trapeze gig attended by members of Deep Purple.  He sussed out the reason for their attendance.  Still, he did not expect to be asked to join.  It was an emotional time for Glover.  He saw his Deep Purple albums on top of the charts, yet with magazines printing pictures of their new lineup featuring David Coverdale and Glenn Hughes.  Hughes reveals he was mistakenly sent awards for albums like Who Do We Think We Are.  Glover felt deeply hurt but strove to be a professional.

As a Deep Purple fan who owns a lot of Deep Purple on video, I enjoyed this documentary.  Although it has some footage that I had before, it also had a lot that I didn’t, such as interviews that were new to me.  Footage from Japan is a highlight.  “Smoke on the Water” is presented almost in full (from the 17th), though it is very lo-fi.

Extras include a music video for “Smoke on the Water”, made up of footage from the documentary.  “The Revolution” is a short film about rock music and counter-culture, focusing on Deep Purple while at Montreux in 1971.  Much of this footage is in the main documentary.  A bearded Gillan rips his way through “Speed King”, and the band are interviewed.  There’s also a short German documentary from 1972, subtitled of course.  I enjoyed the description of their stage attire:  “intentionally scruffy hippie uniforms”.  Finally, there is a 1973 performance of “Smoke”, but now I’ve really heard the song too many times.  It’s the best footage though: full colour, pro-shot.  Roger is wearing bright red platform shoes.

This DVD was adequate.  The main documentary feature was re-watchable.  “The Revolution” and the German doc, not so much.  It’s too bad that the video content is only tangendentally related to Made In Japan.  The DVD is really not much more than a supplement to the main feature.

IMG_20140603_173713Final words:  The box set is rounded out by an excellent booklet, a reproduction of the Japanese tour program, a family tree, and a reproduction press release.  Ultimately these things are just pieces of paper.  Nobody would go out of their way to buy a reproduction of a press release.

As a boxed set of music, Made In Japan is a home run.  This is the way they should have released it back in ’93, instead of the incomplete Live In Japan.  I’ll hang onto my old 2 CD anniversary edition of Made In Japan, because I believe in keeping the original mix of something.  It’s an historic piece, not to be discarded.  When I want a briefer Deep Purple live experience, I’ll play that version of Made In Japan.  When I want the full Monty, I’m listening to this box set.  Not only is it the best release sonically, but it is the only complete release of all three Japanese shows.

As a celebratory boxed edition of a classic, I’m less satisfied.  The DVD and the papers inside are things I will get less enjoyment from.  If the DVD had included a feature on the making and remixing of this edition, I would have been more interested.

Still, I’m happy.

For the music:  5/5 stars

For the box overall:  4/5 stars

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Made In Japan (4CD/1 DVD box set) Part 2

NEW RELEASE: Part 2

 

This box set is so massive, I needed to review it in three instalments.  The first one can be found here:

DEEP PURPLE – Made In Japan Part 1

IMG_20140607_062429DEEP PURPLE – Made In Japan (2014 limited edition Super Deluxe box set)

Disc 3:  Tokyo, August 17 1972.  Finally we arrive at the third night.  The band were comfortable by the time they hit Tokyo, but the sound from the venue wasn’t as desirable as the two nights in Osaka.  That’s the main reason that most of the Tokyo show was not used on Made in Japan originally.  Yes, sonically this is not as crisp nor clear.  It seems like a noisier mix, with Gillan’s voice more difficult to make out.  However, we have heard plenty of Deep Purple recordings worse than this, and this is still Deep Purple MkII at the top of their game.

The band tune up and say hello before “Highway Star”, a quaint reminder of the way concerts used to be compared to today.  Like the other two renditions of “Highway Star”, this is an electric performance.  Jon’s organ solo was the highlight for me, Ritchie’s blistering frets notwithstanding.  Gillan tells the crowd that the song is about somebody named “Fat Larry” and his automobile.

“Smoke on the Water” begins with Ritchie teasing a bit of “God Save the Queen”.  Jon and Ritchie fall out of sync a bit in the beginning of the song, but they quickly lock back into place.  Of the three, this is my favourite version of “Smoke on the Water”, just because it is different.  The band are looser and willing to play around a bit more.  Blackmore’s solo is a highlight as he travels all over the musical landscape.

Always epic, “Child in Time” is greeted by polite applause, a true show of Japanese appreciation.  While the August 16 Osaka version may well be Uncle Meat’s favourite because of the guitar solo, I think this one is pretty special due to Jon’s keys.  Either way, we’re splitting hairs here.  It’s “Child in Time” performed live in Japan in 1972!  To talk about favourites at this point is to be speaking in nanometers.

IMG_20140603_173412“The Mule” has an entertaining intro; Ian Gillan tells the monitor guy, “Can we have everything louder than everything else?”  This is the version from the original Made In Japan.  The intro was so legendary that Lemmy paid homage on the live Motorhead album, Everything Louder Than Everyone Else.  The song goes absolutely mental at the 2:20 point, before Ian Paice breaks into his drum solo.  Not a lot of drummers are interesting to listen to soloing for five minutes.  Paicey is.

“Strange Kind of Woman” is another track that is never exactly the same twice.  Gillan and Ritchie improvise together, a reminder of a day and age when they (mostly) got along.  It’s hard not to smile.  According to Ian, this song is about “Terrible Ted” and his “awful lady”.

Diving into newer material from Machine Head comes “Lazy”; always interesting since it too relies on a lot of improvisation.  This is the version used on Made in Japan originally, and Jon’s solo (dipping into “Louie Louie”) is familiar and fun.  That Hammond howls, and then Blackmore enters.  This is one more Deep Purple long bomber.  The vocal doesn’t even start until six minutes in!

Finally, “Space Truckin'”.  One more amusing song intro:  Ian says that this song is about what would happen if space travel and rock and roll ever met, which has not happened.  Therefore, this song does not exist.  But it sure does slam!  The crowd clap along, obviously into it.  I love every pick scrape, every drum roll, and every scream.  Deep Purple can simply do no wrong at this point.  The only flaw is distracting audience (or perhaps crew) noise.  You can hear people speaking Japanese around the 13:00 mark.

IMG_20140603_174039Disc 4: Encores.  This CD comprises all the encores from all three shows.  “Black Night” was played first, at all three shows.  “Speed King” was played twice, on the 1st and 3rd nights.  On the 2nd night the band played Little Richard’s “Lucille” at absolutely breakneck pace.  For many years, these encores were largely unavailable.  “Black Night” from the 3rd night in Tokyo was released (edited) as a B-side, and then re-released on many compilations such as Power House (1977).  The other encores didn’t receive release until the 90’s or later.  Now, finally, all the tracks from Japan are collected in one set.  I could barely keep track of where to find all the songs from the Japan shows, spread as they were over multiple releases.  Now it’s all in one place, as it should be.

After tuning up, Blackmore noodles for a bit.  Then “Black Night” crashes to a start.  This song is almost a respite for the audience, after a track like “Space Truckin'”.  If you remember from Part 1 of this review, Gillan had a case of bronchitis that he was recovering from.  He couldn’t stand his performance on the 15th, but you’ll be hard pressed to tell on “Black Night”.

Ian says “good luck, good night,” but it’s just a clever ruse.  Much applause results in a return and a noisy take of “Speed King”.  There’s quite a bit of feedback, sour notes and noise coming from the guitar.  Blackmore was either struggling with it, or abusing it.  A knackered Ian Gillan is out of breath at times.

MIJThe second version of “Black Night”, from the 16th, is quite different.  It’s quite ragged and feedback-laden, and this version reveals human errors that, to me, only add to the live experience.  Deep Purple were taking things over the top at these concerts, and sometimes things fall apart.  It’s rock and roll.

Once again, the applause of the audience brings Deep Purple back to the stage.  Their insane cover of “Lucille” was a pleasant surprise.  Deep Purple had been playing this for ages, since Gillan first joined the band.  Another version (from London) can be heard on In Concert ’72.  That is probably the superior version, though this is no slouch.  Almost half of it is just intro!  It is stretched over eight minutes.  It keeps getting faster and faster, until they’re playing at Ludicrous Speed.

The final show in Tokyo is sonically different, as mentioned at the start of this review.  That’s most obvious on this CD when you go straight from Osaka to Tokyo.  This time, Deep Purple are introduced in Japanese, before Ian asks for the monitors to be turned down.  This is the version used on B-sides and compilations numerous times before, and it is my favourite, probably due to familiarity.  This mix allows Jon’s organ to shine a lot better.  It is also unedited, which of course is a bonus.

And finally the journey ends with “Speed King”.  The band tune up for the last time in Japan, and dive in.  Once again, they’re off the rails.  I don’t know where Gillan got the energy.  Even though he’s tired, he’s still wailing.  Jon Lord’s solo is especially enjoyable.  I’m exhausted by the end of it.  This has been a lot of Deep Purple to digest.  But we’re not done yet.

To be concluded.

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Made In Japan (4CD/1 DVD box set) Part 1

NEW RELEASE: Part 1

IMG_20140607_062032DEEP PURPLE – Made In Japan (2014 limited edition Super Deluxe box set)

Giving you the kind of detailed review that you have come to expect from me is no mean feat when it comes to a massive set like this. This 5 disc (plus 7″ single) Made In Japan reissue was an epic undertaking to absorb. Just as much as reviewing Machine Head‘s 5 disc deluxe edition last year was a huge task, Made In Japan was its equal!

Because of this, I’ve decided to split the review into three: Today we’ll look at the first two CDs. Then the third and fourth CDs, the DVD, the 45, and everything else.  Enjoy this first installment.

Disc 1:  Osaka, August 15 1972.  “Good morning!” jokes Ian Gillan as the band arrive on stage.  A few moments of quiet as the band plug in and strum, and then…the opening drum beat to “Highway Star”.  The first of three shows has begun!

Gillan says he was suffering from bronchitis on this first night, and you can indeed hear a bit of extra rasp in the man’s voice.  Gillan says he hates these performances, but I think the extra rasp only adds to the furious “Highway Star”.  Both Ritchie Blackmore and Jon Lord are on fire, ripping through their parts with great aggression.  Blackmore makes a few mistakes during the solo, but who cares?  Right from this opening salvo, you can hear the nuances and details of this new remix.  Reading the liner notes, you realize that the biggest difficulty in remixing this album was that everything was bleeding through Gillan’s vocal mike.  I’ll be damned if it tarnishes the listening experience though.

Before you can catch a breath, “Highway Star” has ended and they’re into “Smoke on the Water”, which had yet to become the classic concert favourite that it is today.  Ritchie plays around a bit on the intro, as the crowd claps along.  Clearly, they know the song.  “Smoke” lacks the furious energy of “Highway Star”, but it is still an incredible performance.  Once again, Ian Gillan’s raw voice only adds to the experience (but it’s not even that bad).  “Smoke” is the only track from this show that was used on the final album Made In Japan.

Ian introduces “Child in Time” as a “sad story”, but nobody was mourning that night in Osaka.  One thing I enjoy about “Child in Time” is that it is never played the same twice.  Jon in particular changes up his opening melodies all the time, and this version is quite different from the one they debuted a mere three years prior at the Albert Hall.  Somehow, bronchitis and all, Gillan still manages to scream his way through this monster.  At times, Ritchie’s solo sounds like it’s drifting into “Lazy”.

IMG_20140607_062642According to Ian’s intro, “The Mule” is a song about Lucifer.  This track from Fireball is essentially an excuse for Ian Paice to do a five minute drum solo.  Nothing wrong with that; it’s Ian Paice after all.  Gillan’s voice is a bit shaky at times, but I think that only adds to it.  I enjoy that Allmusic refers to “The Mule” as an instrumental, proving once and for all that they don’t know what they’re talking about.

It’s all long-bombers from there.  “Strange Kind of Woman” is extended with Ian and Ritchie’s usual interplay, and a gonzo guitar solo.  “Lazy” is never short, nor is “Space Truckin'” which exceeds 20 minutes (complete with flubbed lyrics).  They are all stellar.  I found the intro to “Lazy” quite enjoyable, because after a brief noisy organ bit, Jon teases the crowd by stopping.  It becomes dead silent  for long enough that you’ll wonder if the CD stopped.  That’s something you never hear on a live album these days; a silent crowd.  Before “Strange Kind of Woman”, Ian begs the audience for a few moments to tune up.  It pays off in the end, he says!  All this talk is preserved on the box set version of Made In Japan.

I found the remix on this disc to be great.  I love that I can hear every conga on “Space Truckin'”.  I haven’t played my old 3 CD remixed Live In Japan (1993) set in a few years, so I haven’t compared the two mixes, but this is so good, I don’t really have a reason to play Live In Japan anymore.

IMG_20140607_062555Disc 2:  Osaka, August 16 1972.  Once again, “Highway Star” gets the proceedings off to a bang.  Gillan’s voice is still raspy, but a new day has given it strength.  The band sound more confident, as if they lacked any in the first place.  It is, after all, the second Osaka show that made up the bulk of the original Made In Japan album.  Once again, the remix is a joy.  I believe in hanging on to an original mix of an album, that’s just the way I am.  The original Made In Japan might not sound “better”, but it is an historical document of the circumstances of its making.  It has its own sonic charm, and I think both can co-exist happily in my collection.  (The ’93 mix, I’m afraid, will be retired in favour of this new 2014 mix.  Interesting how they remix this album every 21 years.)

Not actually Made in Japan

Once again, “Highway Star” is followed by “Smoke on the Water”.   Ritchie plays with the opening riff, but in a completely different way from the first concert.  Later on, there’s a couple bum notes, and perhaps that’s the reason they used the version from the day before on the original album.  The solo is a little loose too.

“Child in Time” is the adventure that it always is, and this version is familiar because it’s the one from the original Made in Japan.  The song is truly a rollercoaster; that word applies here as well as any other.  There are times it feels like it’s coming off the rails, but Glover and Paice keep it locked.  Uncle Meat tells me that the original Made in Japan is his favourite live album “of all time.”  (Perhaps it is also one of Dream Theater’s, since they did a song-for-song cover of the album.)  Meat also says this is the “greatest guitar solo of all time,” right here on “Child in Time”.

“The Mule” was not used on the album; instead the version from the next night (in Tokyo) was selected.  Same with “Lazy”.  “Strange Kind of Woman” and “Space Truckin'” from this concert were used on Made in Japan.  I couldn’t tell you why “The Mule” wasn’t used, it sounds great to me.

I very much enjoyed Ian’s “Strange Kind of Woman” intro.  After explaining the song’s inspirations Ian says, “Why I’m talking such a lot is ’cause, like, we gotta tune up again…’Cause there’s a big time change from England you see, and the guitars are still not recovered from it.”  After they are all tuned, Ian drops his famous line, “I have to announce that next week, we’re turning professional.”  Through to his ungodly ending scream, “Strange Kind of Woman” is a corker.

Lord’s organ intro to “Lazy” is different from the first night, but just as interesting.  “Space Truckin'” is the familiar version we know and love from the original Made In Japan, and it’s still astounding how this band could jam!  Who cares that Gillan’s “Yeah, yeah yeah yeah!” is flat.  That’s part of the action!

We’ll stop here for now, and pick up the rest tomorrow.  Already, it’s apparent why a comprehensive set like this one was necessary.  It’s because even if the setlist is the same, Deep Purple never play the exact same concert twice.  Some of Ian’s song intros are by rote, but that’s where the similarities end.  Deep Purple weren’t content to crank out the same jams and solos night after night, and that’s why a box set like Made In Japan is an important document of this band in their prime.

To be continued.

GALLERY: Deep Purple – Made In Japan Super Deluxe unboxing

Thanks to Amazon, this arrived today.  Only a week late, but for free shipping I won’t complain too much.  When a parcel comes packaged inside not one but two boxes, you know it’s big.  And this sucker is heavy.  5 discs, with two huge books inside.  I can’t wait to dig in.

REVIEW: Deep Purple – “Above and Beyond” (CD and 7″ singles)

It’s THE WEEK OF SINGLES!  Each day this week I’ll be bringing you reviews and images of a recent CD or vinyl single acquisition.  Today’s is fresh hot off the presses!  I received this single on Saturday (the 16th).

Yesterday:  Van Halen – “Best of Both Worlds” 7″ single

DEEP PURPLE – “Above and Beyond” (CD and 7″ singles, Edel)

This has been a banner year for Deep Purple singles!  We’ve had “All the Time in the World”, “Hell To Pay”, “Vincent Price” and now “Above and Beyond” from the excellent new album NOW What?!  There’s a “gold” edition of NOW What?! coming soon, and I believe most of the B-sides from these singles will be on it.  Most, but not all…

“Above and Beyond” is one of two songs on the new album dedicated to Jon Lord.  It’s probably the most progressive sounding of the new songs.  It’s certainly one of the most epic.  I think Jon would have loved it.  Canadian producer extraordinaire Bob Ezrin adds his shine on “Above and Beyond”, you can really hear it in the arrangement.

The second track on the CD version is “Things I Never Said” from some editions of Rapture of the Deep.  It was originally from the Japanese CD, and then the “special edition”.  It’s one of the better songs from Rapture, and I’ve always liked Steve Morse’s guitar riff.  I just didn’t need to buy it again on a single…

IMG_00001462Brand new live recordings are the real bait on this single.  The CD has two; I don’t believe either is going to be on the “gold” edition of NOW What?!.  “Space Truckin'” (Rome, Italy 07/22/2013) doesn’t seem as peppy as other live versions I’ve heard.  I suppose that’s why some versions are destined for B-sides, right?  A pair of covers close the CD:  Booker T. and the M.G.’s classic Hammond organ instrumental “Green Onions” and Joe South’s “Hush”.  “Green Onions” serves as an intro to “Hush” essentially.  It’s a great song for a band like Purple to do anyway.  These come from Sweden, 08/10/2013.  Gillan’s struggling a little bit on “Hush”, but Airey and Morse get playful during the solo section, and it’s very reminiscent of how Blackmore and Lord used to interact.

The exclusive bonus track on the 7″ vinyl single is a different recording of “Space Truckin'”.  This one is from Majano, Italy, two days after the other version.  I actually prefer this version to the one from Rome.  I’m not sure why; maybe it’s just that audio illusion of warm vinyl.  Maybe Morse just sounds dirtier.   This single is absolutely beautiful, on purple clear vinyl complete with limited numbered stamp.  Mine?  #1934 of 2000.  I’ll consider myself lucky.  It’s kind of mind blowing to think that there’s an exclusive Deep Purple live recording out there, only 2000 copies made, and I have one of them.

4.5/5 stars

More Purple at mikeladano.com:

Live at Inglewood 1968Deep Purple (1969), Machine Head (40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition + vinyl + In Concert ’72 vinyl), Perks and Tit (Live in San Diego 1974), Stormbringer (35th Anniversary Edition), Come Taste the Band (35th Anniversary edition), Power House (1977), The Battle Rages On (1993), Shades 1968-1998, Collector’s Edition: The Bootleg Series 1984-2000 (12 CD), Listen, Learn, Read On (6 CD), Rapture of the Deep (2 CD Special Edition), “All the Time in the World” (2013 CD single), NOW What?! (2013) Record Store Tales Part 32: Live In Japan, STEVE MORSE BAND – StressFest (1996), ROCK AID ARMENIA – Smoke on the Water: The Metropolis Sessions.

Gallery: Linkin Park edition Soundwave Transformers figure!

A few months ago, I did a video review of one of my favourite Transformers toys, Soundblaster aka Soundwave.

Linkin Park must dig him too.  Check out this article at Seibertron.com, for a full gallery of Botcon 2013 photos of the official Soundwave – Linkin Park Edition figure! It’s really cool looking.  The set contains recoloured G1 Soundwave, Ravage, Ratbat, and Lazerbeak figures, all done up in gold.  According to the Linkin Park website, Joe Hahn is behind the colour choice.  Only 2000 will be made.

SEIBERTRONclick the pic to get to the gallery!

REVIEW: Criss – Criss (1993 EP)

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CRISS – Criss Special Limited Edition (1993 EP, TNT Records)

At long last, Peter Criss was releasing new music, for the first time since 1982’s Let Me Rock You, over a decade prior.  Tellingly, it was a mail-order only release, on a small California label called Tony Nicole Tony Records.  It ran me over $40 Canadian (with shipping) to order it.  It was a limited edition, all copies to be numbered and signed by the Cat himself.

An angry letter and six months later, I finally received my Criss EP to find that the hyped signature was just printed on.  Yes, it was numbered (mine is #2408), but for $40…come on.

I overlooked the sad artwork of Peter’s face, half painted in his old cat makeup, and hair bleached blonde.  I cracked the seal, put the disc in and hit play.

I was struck immediately by the poor production.  The drums sound awful.  For a solo EP by a drummer, I was hoping for better sounding drums than this.  Peter’s singing was OK, but the lyrics?  He does this section near the end of the the first song, “The Cat”, that was just…stinky.

Listen to this one now.
Gene and Paul went up the hill to fetch a pail of water,
Gene fell down and broke his crown,
And Paul came tumbling over.

And then his does this weird high pitched shriek that is so embarrassingly terrible, that I couldn’t believe it made it only to the album.  Well, it could only get better from there.

Nope.

The same awful sounding drums, rapping, and another awful lyric:

Planes, trains and limozines,
So what? What does it mean?
We’re burning down like Mercury,
God bless the Killer Queen.

This time the singer isn’t Peter, but a fellow with a mohawk called Mike Stone.  This same Mike Stone would later end up in a band called Queensryche.  And if anything was worse than Peter’s shrieking on track one, it’s Mike Stone’s singing on track two.  And the song sucks, too.

“Good Times”, an electric ballad with a soulful vocal from Peter, is pretty good.  It has the vibe of something that would have fit onto Peter’s 1978 solo album, without the schlock.  OK, one good song.  At least there’s one.

But then Mike Stone rears his ugly mohawk again, on a song called “What You’re Doing”.  No, not the Rush tune.  It’s not a bad song, but Stone’s truly awful singing renders it unlistenable.  Finally, Peter saves this drowning EP with an acoustic remake of “Beth”.  It must be remembered that up to this point, an acoustic version of “Beth” had never been released.  It was presented that way in the Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park movie, but until this EP, you couldn’t buy it like that.  So this is cool, and slightly different from the version that later ended up on the Cat #1 album.

I have no doubt this is very rare today, and I’ve never seen another copy.  If you can find it, great.  But you may not need to listen to it.

1.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Black Sabbath – Mob Rules (deluxe edition)

I’m addicted to buying these deluxe editions, and I’ll be doing more Sabbath in the coming days! Check out more of my Sabbath deluxe reviews by clicking here!

SAM_2172

BLACK SABBATH – Mob Rules (2010 deluxe edition)

The entire Dio-era catalogue of Sabbath has now been reissued so many bloody times! First there was the original CD issues, then the Castle remasters in 1996, then the Dio years boxed set (The Rules of Hell), and now these deluxe editions. I’m feeling lightly pillaged. But buying these is optional…unless you’re a die-hard like me. If you’re not, stick to the Dio box. If you are a die-hard, plunge forward.

The big reason to buy this set is the Live at Hammersmith Odeon bonus disc. Folks, when Rhino announced this live album in 2007, I jumped on it immediately. The CD sold out immediately, only 5000 copies were ever made.  Limited and numbered (I got #3723), even if it sucked it was bound to be worth a fortune in the future right? Well not necessarily. Now it’s been included as a bonus disc. (It’s also seen a vinyl reissue.)  So, for me this sucks — my Rhino issue is no longer as desirable to collectors. For you, it’s awesome. Now you can have this blistering live album, way better than Live Evil!

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All the other expected perks are here, including bonus tracks:  the soundtrack version of the title track, and a B-side (“Die Young”, live) from a 12″ single.  It also has extensive liner notes that cover the recording, the tour, and the Hammersmith disc. Throw in some photos and a great remastering job, and you have (hopefully!) the last copy of Mob Rules that you will ever need to buy.

Mob Rules itself is very much a brother record to Heaven and Hell. You have that big dramatic epic (“The Sign of the Southern Cross”), the speedy opener (“Turn Up The Night”) and everything else in between (“Voodoo”). It’s not quite up to the lofty standards of H&H, although it does follow the blueprint quite closely. I find the closer (“Over & Over”) to be the weak link in an otherwise pretty damn strong chain.

I think the title track, “The Mob Rules”, is probably one of the greatest heavy metal songs ever written.  Furiously paced, with Dio’s pipes in fine form, it an energized trip.  “The Sign of the Southern Cross” is, as far as I’m concerned, pretty much an equal track to “Heaven and Hell”.  Its riff is simply earth-shattering.  Once again, Dio’s pipes are unequaled.

Even something like “Country Girl”, a lesser known track, blows me away.  Iommi pulls another memorably powerful riff out of his bag of tricks, while Ronnie wails away…about what, I’m not sure.  But it sure is fun to sing along.  “Slipping Away” is another personal favourite due to Geezer’s fluidic bass solos.  “Falling Off the Edge of the World” smokes, another fast Iommi riff that bores its way into the brain.  You’ll be exhausted by the end of it.  Really, the only mis-step is the album closer, “Over and Over”, which I find a bit too dull and slow for an album as great as Mob Rules.

Pick it up to help complete your Sabbath collection, and to hear the awesome Live At Hammersmith Odeon.

5/5 stars

Part 160/REVIEW: Harem Scarem – Acoustic Sessions (Limited Edition)

I’m going to try and cover more rarities from my collection in 2013.  Here’s a very rare one indeed!  First, the story of how I acquired it, then the review.

RECORD STORE TALES Part 160:  Harem Scarem Acoustic Sessions

Everybody at the store knew I was a big Harem Scarem fan.  A bunch of Japanese imports found their way into the store, and I bought them all.  I also played their music frequently in-store, as it was melodic and radio-friendly.  Their stuff ranged from early Jovi-goodness to mid-period progressive pop rock sounds, to later pop punk.  I liked pretty much everything they did, until they changed their name to Rubber and drifted too far into the pop direction for my tastes.

At one point in the early 2000’s, we had a large warehouse in the back of one of our stores.  The idea was, we’d warehouse stock for opening future stores.   There was a warehouse manager, and he would inventory everything in there.  We’d send him anything decent that we had too many copies of.  He’d also have stock from liquidations, or estate sales.

A lot of the time, the stuff from liquidations would include promo CD singles.  I have dozens of promo discs from him, that we couldn’t sell in store.  Usually these promo discs would have edit versions of album tracks.  I have stuff from him including promos from Metallica, David Lee Roth, Motley Crue, and King’s X.  Some of them, like the King’s X (which we’ll talk about in the future), had rare non-album tracks too.

He also ran our eBay store, and eBay have strict rules about selling promo discs.  So basically, anything that was obviously promo sat in boxes gathering dust in our warehouse.  On occasion, when it was a band like Harem Scarem that he knew I liked, he’d let me have it.  Otherwise it would have sat there for years, probably just to be thrown in the garbage at some point.

One of the discs that he sent my way was a Harem Scarem EP called Acoustic Sessions.  Subtitltled Limited Edition, there were only 500 copies made (see footnote for confirmation of this number.)

Most commercial retail releases have barcodes, and this one does not, indicating it probably was not a commercial release.   Yet it also doesn’t say, “Not For Sale: Property of Warner Music Canada Ltd.” like a promo should, so who knows?  It doesn’t even have a year printed on the case, only the CD itself (1991).  The spine of the CD doesn’t even have a serial number.  Maybe it was given to fanclub members or contest winners?

Either way:  Never seen it before, never seen it since.  I don’t truthfully know how it ended up in our possession, whether it was a liquidation, or just something we purchased off a regular customer somewhere.   The details are now lost to the sands of time, but either way it ended up in our warehouse and consequently my collection.  I also don’t recall what I paid for the disc.  Probably $3.  That would have been typical, with my staff discount, for something like this.  With hindsight, we probably could have sold it for much more than that, but the folks in charge always underestimated the selling power of bands like Harem Scarem.

If it’s true that there’s only 500 copies out there, then I’m thrilled.

Oh, who am I kidding?  It’s a rarity no matter what!  I’m still thrilled!

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HAREM SCAREM – Acoustic Sessions Limited Edition (1991 Warner Music)

The EP starts with a 3:16 edit version of their single “Something To Say”, the fifth single from Harem Scarem’s self-titled debut album.  It’s a ballad, pleasant enough, acoustic.  It has a really nice acoustic guitar solo courtesy of virtuoso player Pete Lesperance.  Otherwise I’ve never considered it a standout.  If you like “To Be With You” by Mr. Big or “More Than Words” by Extreme, this is another ballad for your collection.  This same version was later released on another EP called Live & Acoustic.

Onto the exclusive acoustic tracks.  These three songs were only available here, or the 1994 Japanese import version of the debut album.  Good luck finding that today at a decent price!

The debut single “Slowly Slipping Away” (co-written by songsmith Marc Ribler) is rendered in acoustic form first.  These acoustic sessions were recorded at Cabin Fever studios and self-produced by Lesperance and singer Harry Hess.  As great a song as “Slowly Slipping Away” surely is, I think it does miss something in its acoustic form.  That really nice electric guitar hook that precedes the verses, I miss it!  I also miss that throbbing bassline.  Yet the band’s incredible harmony vocals are just as powerful as ever.

“How Long” is next, a great album track in acoustic form.   The chorus is just as big and dramatic as the album version, thanks to the band’s trademark harmonies.  In my opinion, the band’s strength here was the original drummer, Darren Smith.  What a voice.  (The quartet were rounded out by original bassist Mike Gionet who stayed for three studio albums and a couple live releases.)

“Hard To Love” was not a single, but it works really well acoustically and maybe should have been a single after all.   Once again the harmonies soar, with Smith in particularly standing out.  I’ve always felt that the band really lost something when he left in the early 2000’s.  This is a great track, radio ready and full of hooks.

The fifth and final track is just the regular album version of “Something To Say”, at 4:41, with the full (intricate) acoustic intro.

For a five song EP, this one is a winner.  Just wish I knew more about its history!

4/5 stars

ADDED NOTE:  Reader Danny has emailed the haremscarem.net site, and heard back from somebody regarding there being only 500 copies of this CD:

yes it’s true. Very rare now, because it was released in this very limited quantity.
Take care,
Dan

Thanks for sharing!

GALLERY: Four Great Finds! (with store report card – Encore Records)

During a trip to Encore Records in Kitchener, Ontario, I found some pretty cool stuff among their used discs.  I used to work with the guy behind the counter, Chris — trained him in fact.  We had a chance to catch up and discuss the difficulties of being a collector.  Piles and piles of discs, an expanding collection and lack of space for it.  Filing systems.  How easy it is to get behind in your filing.  Good to know there are still kindred spirits out there.

Thanks for the discs Chris, and without further delay…

1. VAN HALEN – In Concert

This double CD is at least partially taken from Live Without A Net, the old Van Halen home video.  That’s cool to me — some of those versions, like “Love Walks In”, were the originals that I was first familiar with.  It’s weird today hearing Sammy Hagar play guitar solos on Van Halen songs, but that’s how I first heard them.  $9 used.

2. HELIX – Wild In The Streets (Rock Candy remaster)

PROS:  These hard-to-find (in Canada) Rock Candy reissues have great liner notes and pictures.  CONS: It lacks the lyric sheet from my old Capitol Records version.  This one was expensive ($14 used) but the great Heavy Metal OverloRd tells me they are well worth it.

3. FISH – “Credo” CD single

Limited edition, #5945.  Cool?  Yeah, but how many copies did they make of a Fish single?  Anyway, this has two non-album cuts, a 7″ remix of the title track and a song called “Poet’s Moon”.  “Credo” itself is a great song from Internal Exile.  Great cover art by Mark Wilkinson!  $6 used.

4. IRON MAIDEN – Virtual XI with limited edition lenticular cover

This was a limited edition (expensive in Canada) that had a 3D cover similar to the current Kiss Monster CD.  I tried to get an idea of this in the photos.  Look at Eddie’s finger in relation to the boy’s headphones.  You can see it’s not in the same place in the two photos.  It’s much cooler in person.  Now, I know Aaron is probably going to give me shit for buying a Blaze Bayley album — any Blaze Bayley album — twice.  But it’s more about the Maiden collection than Blaze.  This is one I’d wanted back in the day but completely forgotten about.  $10 used.

REPORT CARD

Encore Records, 54 Queen St. South, Kitchener ON, (519) 744-1370

Encore is as good as as any of the stores that Aaron and I reported on in Toronto.  Sure, I’m biased in that I did train the guy behind the counter, and it was great having a conversation with somebody who understands my point of view vis-à-vis collecting.  But their selection is second-to-none in this town (rock, indi, roots, jazz, blues, vinyl), with fair prices, and excellent quality.  Not one blemish on any of the discs that I purchased.   As an added note I found a number of Guided By Voices singles for Aaron (some stealthily pictured below) — although he is apparently banned from purchasing them at this time, until he wins the lottery!

For these reasons, Encore’s grade is:

5/5 stars