mercyful fate

GUEST SHOT: 30 Albums that Uncle Meat Thinks You Should Visit (Or Re-Visit) Part 2

Missed part 1? Click here.

Here’s part 2 of 3 – 30 albums essential to Meat’s being, that should be essential to yours, too!  So, without anymore preamble, I’ll leave you with Uncle Meat, as he discusses 10 more albums, in alphabetical order by title, that you need to visit (or re-visit).

 

HIGH TENSION WIRES  –  STEVE MORSE (1989)

Simply put, Steve Morse is my favorite musician of all time.  I have had the pleasure of seeing Mr. Morse a total of 6 times when you combine The Dixie Dregs, Deep Purple and The Steve Morse Band.  Unlike the releases of some of his contemporaries, High Tension Wires is not your typical shredder album.  Oh it shreds alright, but Steve Morse is much more than a trickster.  There are beautiful compositions, unforgettable solos and some just plain ol’ rocking too.  Included is the link to a live version of a track perfectly named “Tumeni Notes”.  For more examples of the greatness of Steve Morse, introduce some Dixie Dregs into your collection.  You can thank me later.

 

HOT HOUSE  –  BRUCE HORNSBY (1995)

When Bruce Hornsby said goodbye to The Range, he immediately said hello with Harbor Lights, a heavily jazz-infused turn that completely changed the music world’s perception of him.  Hot House sees Hornsby taking that one step further.  The album’s cover speaks a thousand words.  It is a painting of an imagined band session between Bluegrass legend Bill Munroe and Jazz legend Charlie Parker. Nuff’ said there.  This recording contains many musical giants including Pat Metheny, Jerry Garcia, Bela Fleck and Chaka Khan.   Hot House is very addictive.  I know most of the words off by heart on this record.  Hopefully someday you will too.

JEFF BECK GROUP  –  JEFF BECK GROUP (1972)

This album definitely falls under the underappreciated category.  Sometimes known as  The Orange Album, Beck’s playing has never been better on this collection of original compositions and covers.  I would call this more of a Soul album than anything.  The incredible vocals of Bobby Tench seem to highlight this record at times, as you will see on the live performance of “Tonight, I’ll Be Staying Here With You” I have included for this entry.   Also worth noting, this album is one of the first recordings of the late Cozy Powell’s career.  The guitar work alone on “Definitely, Maybe” is enough reason itself to seek this record out.  Perhaps a rock n’ roll legend’s best work.

JOHN PRINE  –  JOHN PRINE (1971)

I actually discovered the music of John Prine while working at the same record store chain that Mr. Ladano speaks of in this blog.  There is no one quite like John Prine.  Some artists write great songs.  Some artists write great lyrics.  Only a select few truly do both this well.  There is no doubt that John Prine’s self-titled album contains some of the best lyrics ever written.  “There’s a hole in daddy’s arm where all the money goes.  Jesus Christ died for nothin’ I suppose?”  That is just brilliant shit.  “You may see me tonight with an Illegal Smile.  It don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while”.  I have said this many times and I am still saying it now.  John Prine is THE best lyric writer …. Ever.  Fuck Bob Dylan.  Yeah, I said it.

 

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON  –  KRIS KRISTOFFERSON (1970)

For the sake of alphabetical order by album, this Kristofferson follows the John Prine album on this list.  Really it should be the other way around.  While I stand by my earlier praise of Prine lyrics, I would certainly listen to the argument that there wouldn’t be a John Prine without Kris Kristofferson.  The songs on this album show a huge diversity and a sense of patience that just makes him so cool.  “Best Of All Possible Worlds” is just insanely-good storytelling and “Me and Bobby McGee” became a mega-smash for Janis Joplin.  Of all the great concerts I have seen, watching Kris Kristofferson and a guitar for two hours in 2006 will always be one of the best concerts I will ever see.  The true greats just need to show up.

LEGALIZE IT  –  PETER TOSH (1976)

After being a key member of Bob Marley & The Wailers for years, Peter Tosh embarked on a solo career.   On his first solo release, Legalize It, I personally believe Tosh recorded the greatest Reggae album of all time.  Fuck Bob Marley.  Yeah, I said it. (Wait why am I so hostile? Ha.)  Remember that one of Marley’s biggest hits “Get Up Stand Up” was co-written with Peter Tosh.  I love this album from beginning to end, and the album’s cover remains a visual anthem for Marijuana activists everywhere.  Sadly, Peter Tosh was taken from us when he was shot in the head during a home robbery.  Rastafarian music at its finest.

LITTLE EARTHQUAKES  –  TORI AMOS (1992)

There is only one way to put it.  During the spring of 1994 I became a literal disciple of Tori Amos.  By the end of 1996 I had seen her live 7 times.  Several of them in 2nd or 3rd row center seats, since this was back when you could actually wait all night for tickets and be rewarded for it.  This album spoke to me in a way no other album has, or really could.  Frustration with women, with Christianity and with life, I didn’t want to hear about hope in the horizon.  I obviously needed to experience the frustration of someone who understood.  I still have a red-head obsession because of Tori.  This is in my ten favorite albums of all time and always will be.  Little Earthquakes is full of intense and pretty compositions. The humor of “Happy Phantom” contrasts the pain of “Me and a Gun”.  And the included track here is “Precious Things”, which sees Tori Amos exposing herself as the angry and sexual piano player she truly is. Myra Ellen Amos is quite simply a beast.

 

MELISSA  –  MERCYFUL FATE (1983)

Mercyful Fate’s first two albums are among the best Metal albums of all time.  When you realize that this album came out a full year before Kill ‘Em All did you can start to see just how important this band truly were.  Mercyful Fate are the High Priestesses of underappreciation.  Yes King Diamond looks kinda ridiculous. And yes their lyrics are nothing short of evil incarnate.  Lines such as “Drinking the blood of a new born child” and “I’ll be the first to watch your funeral, and I’ll be the last to leave” sometimes are  so over the top that I guess it is understandable how an album this good could be ignored.  If Thin Lizzy and Iron Maiden had a baby, and that baby grew up listening to nothing but Black Sabbath, the end result would have to look and sound something like Mercyful Fate.  It’s no coincidence that the best thing Metallica has recorded since …And Justice For All is their medley-cover simply-titled “Mercyful Fate”.  One of the greatest Metal albums of all time hands down.  Click on the YouTube link and hear the start of “Curse of the Pharaohs”.  If you don’t immediately recognize “2 Minutes to Midnight” you are lying to yourself.

 

NEVER, NEVERLAND  –  ANNIHILATOR (1990)

After Annihilator’s first album, Alice in Hell, it was time for a new lead singer.  Out was the awful singing of the ridiculously-named Randy Rampage, and in was ex-Omen singer Coburn Pharr.  The second album of this Ottawa, Ontario band was a vast improvement  over the first album in every way.   Without question the guitar playing of Jeff Waters alone makes this an absolute must-have recording for fans of thrash guitar or just guitar in general.  If you can think of a better Metal album to  come out of Canada then I would love to hear it.  If you have never heard this album, and you consider yourself a “Metal guy” then you are missing out huge.  I am having a hard time trying to pick a song to post here for listening purposes.  That is how truly great this record is from beginning to end.

 

OPUS EPONYMOUS  –  GHOST (2011)

I know, I cannot believe it either.   Only the second of twenty (so far) albums to be released after 1999 that appear on this list.  This album by Swedish band Ghost is nothing but special.  Before I heard this album I was told that it sounded like a cross between thrash metal and Blue Oyster Cult.  As it turned out that description really was right on the money.  Melodic background vocals nestled in between heavy riffing.  I have to say that this album is my favorite Metal album in probably the last twenty years.  The PERFECT blend of melody and heaviness.  This is the only album that since I have got my iPod, every time I switch the music on it I leave this whole album on there.  Every minute of this album is pure genius and I am super-stoked for their upcoming 2nd album titled Infestissumam that will be released this spring.  Hail Satan!!!!

 

That’s it for now, stay tuned for part 3, coming soon…

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Part 78: GUEST SHOT! Meat on LeBrain

Normally I wouldn’t post something so self-glorifying, but I won’t edit a word out of any of my guest shots.  This one comes from the infamous Sausagefester, ex-record store alumnus, and music connoisseur, Meat.  He sent this to me by surprise this afternoon, so I had to post it.   Enjoy.

RECORD STORE TALES PART 78:  Meat on LeBrain

Today is Lebrain’s 40th birthday.  Today seems like a good day to give you all my thoughts  on the man…the myth…the legend…Michael Ladano.

I would have first met Mr. Ladano in I believe late 1998 or early 1999.  I was working at a record store and really didn’t know anyone at other locations.  Since there was a fair amount of phone activity between different stores, it was inevitable that our paths would cross.  I kept hearing about the manager of another store that was something of a music aficionado, and the biggest Kiss fan in town.  Considering myself of the same ilk, and a long-time Kiss fan myself, I was looking forward to the inevitable.  I don’t remember the first conversation we had honestly,  it was probably some sort of inquiry about an Anita Baker stock transfer , but anyways,  I do remember the first time we talked about Kiss.  I remember his genuine enthusiasm hearing that I had seen Kiss on the last tour with makeup (Creatures of the Night) and the first tour without makeup (Lick it Up).  He proceeded to tell me that Ace Frehley was not actually in the makeup on the first aforementioned tour (something I already knew) and a bunch of other obscure Kiss facts.  Needless to say we immediately hit it off.  We worked together only once at his location.  He actually has a better memory of that one shift (Meat’s memory is randomly hazy…gee I wonder why) but I do remember that the shift literally seemed to go faster than any shift I had worked previously.

[LeBRAIN’S NOTE:  I do remember that night very well.  I remember driving Meat home, talking about Metallica’s medley of Mercyful Fate tunes.  As it happens, I had that tape in the car, so we rocked it!] 

I am lucky to know many guys who are self-proclaimed and ordained-by-others as music experts.  The mighty Tom has been mentioned in this blog before.  Others include Scottie Geffros…Scott Hunter and more.  Michael Ladano trumps them all in both knowledge and actual music collection.  No one loves music more than LeBrain.  I certainly disagree with a lot of music that Ladano loves, and have been very vocal to him about that, but I guess that’s just part and parcel with being “LeBrain”.  But most importantly, Michael Ladano’s greatest trait is simply being himself.  If there is someone who is more truly sincere and kind, I have not met them.  No one treated complete strangers better during his record store days than Mike Ladano.  No one loves his wife or significant other more than Mike Ladano.  The truth is  everyone likes Ladano.  As a matter of fact, there are only a very, very select few that I know that don’t like him.  Literally a few select people that all hang together and work together. Not-coincidentally these people are sincerely some of the worst people I have ever encountered in my life.  Truly lacking character, substance and kindness of any sort, they should be ashamed of themselves.  It says something that only the worst people in the Tri-Cities are the select few that don’t like him.

I really enjoy this blog Mike and try to read every entry.  Even old Meatdogs can learn new tricks, and I appreciate reading and learning about musical artists, bands and albums that I thought I already knew everything about.  Your love of music is infectious and impressive,  but not as impressive as Mike the friend, the person and the husband.  Is this blog-entry just alot of over-blown Maudlin? Of course it is. If anyone I know deserves Maudlin, its Sir Michael Ladano.  Remember, when the rest of you are sleeping comfortably at night…LeBrain is rolling in his sleep anticipating the upcoming Kiss and Darkness albums.  You gotta love the guy.

Meat

Part 30: Sausagefest

I can’t believe we’re already at Part 30.  And we’re just getting started, folks.  Stories have been collected, going back a decade.

For Part 30, something of a milestone I guess, we’ll do something special.

SAUSAGEFEST

Much like a secret society, men today speak of Sausagefest in hushed tones.

Earlier, I mentioned Tom and Eric (“Uncle Meat”) and something called Sausagefest (in a previous chapter).  What happens at Sausagefest, stays at Sausagefest.  Mostly.  But here’s what I can tell you.

The heart and core of Sausagefest is the annual Top 100 list.  The format has varied slightly over the years, but it remains largely unchanged.  They take votes from all attendees, months in advance, of their top 100 song picks that year.  They tabulate them, and over two crazy nights in an undisclosed but vast outdoor location, they count them down one by one.

Beer is consumed.  Sausage is eaten.  There are no vegetarians at Sausagefest.  I have packed Froot Roll Ups in the past but that’s it for me.  The rest is all sausage, and succulent marinated lamb for me.

The top 100 list was started by Eric and his buddy Derek back in 1990.  It was New Year’s Eve, and he collected a top 100 list and put together the tapes (!) himself.  He often had to borrow a CD from somebody to do it, because there was no web.   An evening would typically run from 5pm to 3am, solid with tunes and the odd skit in between.

This went on for three years.  Much later, in 2002, the concept was reinvented as Sausagefest.  The setting was now a pristine scenic valley with a river running through it.  Awesome.  A generator powers the wall of sound, and there are no neighbors to complain about the noise.

The top 100 is usually epic in scale and scope.  You will hear everything from AC/DC to Zappa, as far out as Dixie Dregs, and as local as Helix.  You will hear Lightfoot, Cash, Nelson, and Kristofferson.  Maiden and Priest are regulars, and the thrash gets positively evil.  Mercyful Fate anyone?

The story goes like this:  Tom was frustrated one night and blurted out, “We need just an all-guys’ weekend. We can have it up at the farm.  Summer weekend  No chicks.  And it will be called Sausagefest…’cause if you dont have your own personal sausage…you can’t come!”

The “moment of clarity”, as they say, was instant.   They both knew they had to do this, and that the music would be the core of it.  Only these two guys could have cooked up and executed an idea like this at that moment.   The planets were aligned or something.  I bet if you knew the exact date that they invented Sausagefest, you would be able to find that a supernova happened that day too.

Again they did it on cassette.  Tom’s music collection was massive at that point, about 1500 discs and a growing collection of vinyl.   Only these guys had the resources to do it.  Finding these songs, on download, at the time?  Very difficult.

For the record, the very first #1 at the very first year was “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”!  Epic.

So Sausagefest was born, and the first one was a success.  Unfortunately I did not attend the first four.  In fact I didn’t attend a single one until I had quit the record store.  2006 was my first Sausagefest.  For many of them, I simply could not get the weekend off.  Everybody wants time off in the summer, and the actual date for Sausagefest wasn’t always known with enough notice.

The other factor in me not going was I was really stuck in a rut at the time with the store.   I was paranoid to leave town.  There were fuckups literally all the time that needed to be fixed, fires that needed to be put out, that I never felt comfortable leaving.  The very last vacation I ever took at the store was 2002.  No coincidence.

However once I was free of that fear, I drove up with no tent and just a cooler full of meat, water, and Roll Ups.  Actually no, that’s not true!  I was told there was no need to bring meat, because there was so much there, it wouldn’t be a problem.  So just water and Roll Ups, that first year!  I slept in my car.

At night, the music starts and the air guitars come out.  But the days have their own traditions.

An Iron Maiden loving guy named Zach brings the lamb.  He brings more every year and there is still not enough to satisfy my hunger.  It is incredible.  Zach is the lamb lord.  Some people put it on bread but I just eat it right with the fingers.  It’s an incredible meal, every year.

There is always beer and plenty of it.  A beer wagon was actually rented for two of the years.  Beer is consumed in massive quantities.  There is always one guy passed out before the top 100 really even gets going.  But that’s OK.  Nobody’s driving anywhere.  Sean often picks up coffee for the boys in the mornings but that’s about it.  We’re in it for the long haul.  And I mean long haul.  Music is often still playing at 3am.

My problem is I can’t sleep in at all, so I’m up by 7.  I’ll grab a book, a beer, and a chair and head down to the river.  My first Sausagefest, I was reading Dune.  It was incredible reading it in the river with nobody even awake yet.

The toilet is always a highlight.  I’m convinced that the boys rented a Porta-Potty for me specifically my first year, to keep me coming back.  Because there hasn’t been one since.  Why?  I don’t know.  We could easily collect for it, just like we do beer.  But they don’t do it!  I’m convinced it’s because part of the Sausagefest experience is shitting in the woods.

I won’t lie, I love peeing outdoors.  I’m not the only one either.  In a survey done at work, 3 out of 4 men enjoy peeing outdoors.  It’s just a natural expression of the animal side that is a part of nature, or something.  That’s what I tell my wife anyway.  What did our ancestors do?  Pee outside.  It’s social.  I’ll be at Sausagefest peeing, and another guy will pee next to me, and be like, “Hey man, how’s it going?  Good tunes eh?”  Anyway, I’m getting off topic again.

There’s a chair with a hole in the seat that you’re supposed to shit in, and the tree next to it has toilet paper hanging from the branch.  Personally I don’t want to see someone else’s shit.  Just a thing I have, I guess.  So I shit in the river.  Yes, I shit in the river.  The river is fast-flowing, like a toilet, but it’s cold.  You turtle right up stepping in.  But it’s also like a combo toilet/bidet.  You’re clean when you’re all done.  And I’ve seen dogs shit in it, so….

The worst thing about Sausagefest is, in fact, the shits.  You’re eating nothing but greasy (but delicious!) meat (not Meat!).  Every year, it is up early on Sunday morning (always by 6:00 am) on on the road, as fast as possible, to an actual bathroom!

Unfortunately, as stated, what happens at Sausagefest stays at Sausagefest, so I really can’t get too much into the stories.  I will say this.  It’s something that I look forward to every summer.  All of those guys do.  We talk about it when we arrive, how this event can be the best weekend of your entire year.  It’s also strange how time stands still up at the farm.  “Wow, just doing that drive up here, it’s so familiar like I was just here last week.”  It happens every year.  You get there and it feels like you never really left.

The music, combined with the fellowship, and of course the sweet joy of swimming in the river when it gets hot, makes this almost a spiritual place.  A Mecca for those about to rock, so to speak.  It is a secret society that I am proud to be a member of.