When you know the guy ran out of toilet paper at 8:30 am on a Saturday, but didn’t want to put just the toilet paper on his debit card.
And then I got home and it turns out I bought the “wrong” toilet paper.
GETTING MORE TALE #539: Been a long time since I been to Frankenmuth
Frankenmuth Michigan is a small Bavarian hamlet/tourist trap not too far from the Canada border. Some people love going; I seem to be one of the only dissenting voices. My best friend Peter introduced us to the Frankenmuth tradition. His family would typically go once a year, staying at the Bavarian Inn. The big draws to the town are two. One is the big “family style” chicken dinner at Zehnder’s, where the food just keeps coming. The other attraction is Bronner’s, an all-year-round Christmas store. Some in my family seemed absolutely thrilled to be buying our Christmas ornaments in April.
Frankenmuth seemed a long way to go for some chicken and Christmas ornaments. However, it’s not too far for a shopping excursion focused on music, so that’s what I turned it into for me. In the three years I went to Frankenmuth, I found plenty of goodies, and accumulated some entertaining memories.
My first year was 1992. I had just finished writing all my final exams for my first year classes at Laurier. The Freddie Mercury Tribute concert had just aired. I taped the whole thing, and then recorded it to cassette (three 100 minute tapes). I tossed that into the Walkman, and joined the family for our first US road trip together.
The Mercury concert was special. Queen shared the stage with some luminaries as David Bowie (RIP), George Michael (RIP), Mick Ronson (RIP), and many more. Vivian Campbell played live with Def Leppard for the first time. Tony Iommi and James Hetfield shared the stage with Queen on “Stone Cold Crazy”. Guns N’ Roses were there, and Axl got to sing with new friend Elton John. The excitement in the air was genuine. There was talk afterwards of someone charismatic, like George Michael or Gary Cherone joining Queen permanently so they could continue.
Our first road stop was a McDonalds in a small town just outside of Flint. The washroom stunk of piss so badly that my dad couldn’t even use it. Great first impression, Michigan!
When we got to the Bavarian Inn, I had the chance to watch MTV for the first time at length. After all I’d heard about it, I was disappointed to see it was not nearly as good as Canada’s MuchMusic. The American coverage of the Mercury concert (which was re-running all weekend) was truncated compared to what we saw in Canada. MuchMusic had Erica Ehm and others on site at Wembley interviewing the stars and covering behind-the-scenes, while the US coverage cut away to other things. The food at the Bavarian Inn was incredible, including what I remember to be the best omelette I’ve ever tasted.
I can’t say that I cared for the family style chicken dinner. “Family style” isn’t my thing (where everybody has the same dinner, all served together on big platters). If I’m eating out, I will rarely order chicken. Seemed like a big waste of a night out, to go and eat somewhere that serves chicken dinner just like you get at home. But I didn’t make these decisions, I just complained about them!
On the way home, we stopped at a Target store in Port Huron. My first Target store; I had never even heard of them before. This is where I made my first US music purchases. In stock was the cassette single for “Let’s Get Rocked” by Def Leppard. This featured the bonus track “Only After Dark”, a Mick Ronson track, who had just played at the Mercury concert! The other item I picked up was Slaughter’s new The Wild Life CD, which had a different cover than the ones I’d seen in Canada. It still appears to be the rarest version today.
The 1993 trip was even better, because this time Peter came with us. In 1993, Peter was the man with the plan. He was looking for something. Something very specific, that as of yet was not released in Canada. He had read about this new comedy tape called The Jerky Boys, and he was determined to find a copy. And find a copy he did.
We found The Jerky Boys at a record store just on the outskirts of Frankenmuth. At the same store, I picked five tapes that I couldn’t get back home: Savatage’s first albums Sirens (1983), The Dungeons are Calling (1985), Power of the Night (1986) and the brand new Edge of Thorns (1993). There was also Richie Kotzen’s third album, Electric Joy. These fine records meant that the summer of 1993 was filled with sounds both heavy and complex. The Kotzen album was a whole level beyond was I was used to listening to. As for Savatage, they heavied up my tastes at a time when I was craving faster/heavier/louder.
I spent a lot of time absorbing each of these albums, but it was The Jerky Boys that dominated the car tape deck on that Frankenmuth trip. Peter and I listened to the entire thing through. Tarbash the Egyptian Magician, Sol Rosenberg and his glasses (he can’t see goddammit), and the whole gang had us laughing so hard, my sides actually hurt. When the tape was done, we put it on repeat and played it again. I’m not sure if my mom and dad enjoyed the Jerky Boys as much as I did. I started calling people “sizzlechest” and responding to questions with “listen jerky, I don’t need to talk to you.”
What a summer.
This Frankenmuth trip was also my Karaoke debut. I chose “The Immigrant Song”. And I fucking killed it, in my opinion! Like Axl Rose gyrating on meth, I owned that stage. The heels of my cowboy boots stomped the boards, keeping their own beat. I asked my entire family to leave the room, but I lost my place in the song when I caught them spying around a corner.
On we sweep, with threshing oar, our only goal will be the western shore.
That was a fantastic trip. Mission accomplished, with both the music shopping and the Jerky Boys acquisition. On my third and final year going to Frankenmuth, Peter really upped his game. Once again, the goal was to acquire something that we could not get in Canada.
Instead of travelling in one car, we did a convoy with two. Peter and I needed transportation of our own to run the missions we were planning.
As much as MTV did not impress me on my first US trip, our goal this time was dependant on MTV.
“Let’s rent a VCR and tape some episodes of Beavis and Butthead!” We didn’t get the show in Canada.
That is exactly what we did. We drove over to the local video store, and rented a VCR. You might think renting a VCR in a foreign country might be difficult, but it wasn’t. We hooked it up to the hotel TV (much easier than doing something like this today — more on that in a future instalment of Getting More Tale also involving Peter). Tuning up MTV, we watched some music before Beavis and Butthead was scheduled.
This time, MTV really pissed me off. They gleefully ran the embarrassing 1994 Motley Crue interview that the band infamously walked out of. But the band didn’t do themselves any favours in that interview. MTV baited them a bit with the questions, but they didn’t have to attack Vince Neil in their answers. “No one cares anyway,” said Nikki Sixx when asked about his former frontman. Pushed further, they were asked to comment on Vince’s recent jet-ski accident that put him in hospital with broken ribs. Laughing, Mick Mars asked “What happened to the coral reef?” Sixx answered, “Hey, when 300 pounds of blubber lands on a coral reef, there’s gonna be some dust flying around.”
The question that killed the interview was about “women, hairspray and fire.” MTV ran the segment complete with Nikki mocking the question, while showing images of women, hairspray and fire from their music videos. Stick in a fork in that lineup; it was done. No matter how good that 1994 Motley Crue album was (and is), that interview polished off the attempted comeback in one stroke.
We recorded a couple episodes of Beavis and Butthead and called it a night. The next day we did some music and comic book shopping. US exclusive once more: Quiet Riot’s reunion album Terrified found and liberated. I didn’t even know they had come out with anything new. A cassette single for “Heaven Help” by Lenny Kravitz also found its way home with me. I scored an oversized Black Sabbath comic (Rock-It Comics) and Transformers: Generation 2 #1 with the silver foil fold out cover.
With another successful trip in the books, we packed our bags and checked out. The last mission to run was returning the VCR to the video store. There was only one snag. We were primed and ready to head home early…and the video store opened at noon. We had to kill some hours driving around, but when that store opened we got the hell out of dodge. Not the greatest return trip ever, but at least we had Lenny Kravitz.
I stopped going to Frankenmuth after that trip, although Peter and his family returned yearly for some chicken and Christmas ornaments. My family too. My mom tells me of a memorable trip that ended in the hospital! Four years ago my mother, father and sister made a trip where they did the usual; Frankenmuth chicken and the Christmas store. They also ate a lot of junk food; pizza, hot dogs, French fries and candy. On the way home they stopped along the 401 for more French fries. That night my mother ended up in the hospital with a gall bladder attack. It was serious enough that she had it removed two weeks later. Thank goodness they were home when it happened as they never bothered with extra insurance for a short trip to the US.
As years went on, I ran into people all the time who had gone to Frankenmuth for a vacation. Inevitably, they will always talk about three things: the Bavarian Inn, the chicken dinners, and the Christmas store. None of them seem to have any stories about cool comic books, or finding rare tapes and CDs in Frankenmuth. Very few of them have done Karaoke, and none have performed “The Immigrant Song” at the Bavarian Inn. Nobody rented a VCR to record Beavis and Butthead, and then have to wait hours for the store to open to return said VCR. Nobody even discovered the Jerky Boys on their Michigan trips.
I guess that means that Peter and I are the only ones who did Frankenmuth right.
MÖTLEY CRÜE – Girls, Girls, Girls (originally 1987, 2003 remaster)
The Tom Werman-produced Girls, Girls, Girls album is a bit underrated. Its weaknesses are fairly obvious, but its strengths are less appreciated. The Crue were coming off a bit of a stinker (Theater of Pain), so some changes were in order. The band dropped the makeup and spandex in favour of a tougher street-ready look. The intended direction this time was a bit of a combo of the first three Crue album. They wanted the rawness of Too Fast For Love, the heaviness of Shout at the Devil, and the sleaze of Theater. There was no reinvention of the wheel, nor was anybody in the band capable of that. Nikki Sixx was deep into a heroin problem at this time, barely focused on the music at all. This has been documented in his graphic book The Heroin Diaries. Much of his time was spent hiding in a closet with a gun, afraid of imaginary intruders.
As an audience in 1987, we really did not suspect that things were such a shambles behind the scenes. The band looked good, and sounded like they had rediscovered the skills of writing memorable songs. Case in point: opening track (and second single) “Wild Side”. Boasting the kind of rock groove that Motley made their trademark, “Wild Side” rocked. They even threw in a time change on the bridge. “Wild Side” was augmented with a cool music video, showcasing the Motley stage show in 1987. This included a spinning, upside down Tommy Lee drum kit. “Girls, Girls, Girls” was a video too, but it never saw airplay up in Canada. Too risqué for the frozen tundra of the north? It too was a hit, played live in concert right to Motley’s final show (opening number, in fact).
The album was rounded out by a number of cool, sleazy rock tracks and a couple ballads. “Dancing On Glass” kicks; it’s pretty much an autobiographical track about living in the fast lane. This is something the Crue were well acquainted with.
“Silver spoon and needle,
Witchy tombstone smile,
I’m no puppet,
I engrave my veins with style.”
Since the cassette didn’t come with a lyric sheet, kids of the 80’s (or at least the parents of the 80’s) probably had no idea what Vince was singing about. The song is given some traditional rock cred with soulful female backing vocals and boogie piano.
“Bad Boy Boogie” continued the theme, this time with some tasty Mick Mars slide guitar instead of piano. “Better lock up your daughters when the Motleys hit the road.” The song is a series of sexual innuendos, cleverness put to the side in favour of blunt sleaze. “Got my finger in the pie, my hand in the cookie jar.” Aerosmith leaks through the grooves on “Bad Boy Boogie” which wears its influence on its sleeve. The good times continue to bounce on “Five Years Dead”, loaded with more of Mick’s greasy slide. It’s a similar song to “Sumthin’ for Nuthin'”, which is even more fun. This time Vince is a gigolo, getting paid for pleasure (sumthin’ for nuthin’)! “Leave the money where it’s easy to see,” he sings with glee. It’s brilliant Motley filth just the way you like it. Best of all is the smokin’ “All in the Name Of…”, which pours high octane fuel in the tank and opens ‘er up wide. It’s sleazier than sleazy: “She’s only 15, she’s the reason, the reason I can’t sleep. You say illegal, I say legal’s never been my scene.” Probably a true story….
There are only two ballads, one of which is just 1:26 of filler (“Nona”). The other is the very entertaining “You’re All I Need”, which sounds inspired by Alice Cooper. It is a delicate piano based murder ballad, like the Coop has done so well. “You’re All I Need” isn’t Coop quality, but on the Motley scale it’s one of their better ballads. It has an anthemic quality, a pompous melancholy. The lyrics doomed it to semi-obscurity, which is too bad, since on the whole it’s a stronger song than the better known “Without You”.
Unfortunately for this album, “Nona” was not the only filler. An excruciating (and live?!) cover of “Jailhouse Rock” ends the album on a pretty putrid note. It’s not good at all, and reeks of weakness. Why would you end your new album with a cover, and a live cover at that? Only because you didn’t have enough quality tunes to make the cut.
The 2003 remastered edition of Girls, Girls, Girls came with bonus tracks, like all the albums in the Crucial Crue collection. Three of them are instrumental versions, bordering on filler material. Motley Crue are not Rainbow or Marillion — you don’t get much out of an instrumental version. “Nona” did once have a rock section in its longer demo form. More entertaining than the demos is the band and Tom Werman intro. Funny stuff. Then there is a long sought ballad “Rodeo”. This song was first mentioned in band interviews in 1989, when it was mentioned for possible inclusion on a never-released album called Motley Crue: The Ballads. The demo here is not very well fleshed out, but you can hear that it had a cool chorus ready to go. Finally there is a live version for “All in the Name Of…” from Moscow in 1989. Fans may recall that Motley played at the infamous Moscow Music Peace Festival…shortly before Tommy attacked Jon Bon Jovi and ripped the shirt off his back. Peace and love, man!
Although the Crue were only firing on a couple cylinders at the time, they managed to piece together a worthwhile album. There are only two mis-steps, which are “Nona” and “Jailhouse Rock”. The remastered edition adds a couple more worthwhile bonus tracks to extend your listening experience. Go for that one if you find it first.
1. “Wild Side” 4:40
2. “Girls, Girls, Girls” 4:30
3. “Dancing on Glass” 4:18
4. “Bad Boy Boogie” 3:27
5. “Nona” 1:27
6. “Five Years Dead” 3:50
7. “All in the Name Of…” 3:39
8. “Sumthin’ for Nuthin'” 4:41
9. “You’re All I Need” 4:43
10. “Jailhouse Rock” (live) 4:39
2003 Remastered Edition bonus tracks
11. “Girls, Girls, Girls” (Tom Werman & band intro, rough mix of instrumental track) 5:38
12. “Wild Side” (rough mix of instrumental track) 4:06
13. “Rodeo” (unreleased track) 4:14
14. “Nona” (instrumental demo idea) 2:42
15. “All in the Name Of…” (live in Moscow) 5:02
GETTING MORE TALE #523: Columbia House
How many of you were members of the Columbia House music club? Tapes or CDs?
The concept was simple. Get 12 tapes or records for one penny. Then agree to buy “X” more at “regular club prices” within a year. They would usually offer all sorts of incentives, such as getting your first regularly priced item for half price. Their “regular club prices” were fairly high, but if you played your cards right you could make joining the club worthwhile.
Every few weeks after signing up, Columbia House would send you a catalogue and an order form. The order system was controversial, because it required a negative response if you didn’t want to buy something. When you signed up, you could pick your favourite genre of music (I chose “metal”). Each time a catalogue came out, your selected genre would have a “selection of the month”, usually a new release but not always. If you did not respond with an order form expressing that you didn’t want it, they would automatically mail you the “selection of the month” and bill you for it too. (The Columbia Record Club system was worked into a sub-plot of the movie A Serious Man by the Coen Brothers.)
For many people this wasn’t a problem. Our parents let my sister and I sign up when I was in grade 11. We split the membership and free tapes 50/50. We paid for everything ourselves and diligently sent in our order forms each time. We were both already massive music fans, so we poured over every single page. Most times, one of us ended up buying something, if not the selection of the month itself.
I can still remember every album I received in that first shipment. Seven tapes. These tapes went into immediate and constant rotation, which is why I remember them all so well today.
Our musical world opened up in a massive way, and not just because of the new music we were listening to. The catalogues introduced us to names and album covers that we’d not experienced yet. What is this Bitches Brew thing? Why did Deep Purple albums have so few songs? Did Iron Maiden copy their Maiden Japan from Purple’s Made In Japan? Holy crap, Hank Williams Jr. has three greatest hits albums?
Everything was absorbed. Five years later, when I started at the Record Store, my boss was surprised that I knew who most of the artists were, what sections they should go in, and even what record labels they were on.
“I read the Columbia House catalogue cover to cover every month,” was my answer!
The catalogue provided knowledge, and pictures to cut out for locker or wall. We made the most of that catalogue every time. It was rare when pictures were not cut out!
I was even able to acquire things that might have been considered rarities back then. I had never seen Leatherwolf stocked in a store, but Columbia House had it. When vinyl was being discontinued, I was still able to get Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind (1991) on LP. They had most of the Savatage albums.
It all sounds wonderful, but Columbia House had flaws too. The biggest one was horrendous quality control. They licensed and manufactured the tapes themselves, which were simply not as good quality wise as the ones you could find in a store. They would be warbling within weeks (if not right out of the case) and the J-cards were sometimes shoddy, with printing not lining up with fold lines, or just they’d just start falling apart along perforations. They also didn’t carry certain record labels. While they had everything Warner Bros and Columbia Records, they had nothing from EMI. Finally, bands made next to nothing on albums that were sold through Columbia House. Some bands such as the Tragically Hip refused to sell their music via Columbia House. We didn’t know all of this as kids, of course. I started to pick up on the quality issues when they seemed to take a serious dive around 1991.
The key to not getting ripped off by Columbia House was to order smart. The 12 free tapes sounds like a great deal, but when you balance in buying the rest of your selections at full price, most people ended up on the losing side. Get in and get out, buying the bare minimum. That was the way to do it. Of course, we didn’t. We just enjoyed the convenience and stayed members for years! No regrets since this led directly to a 12 year career in the Record Store!
The third and final Kulick review from our Kulick week at mikeladano.com!
A mighty Union was formed from the ashes of two classic bands’ lesser-known lineups. First up is Bruce Kulick, formerly of Kiss and now in Grand Funk. Kulick had been taking an increasingly important role within Kiss, leading to the Carnival of Souls LP which Bruce was instrumental in writing and recording. With him was John Corabi who had just been booted from Motley Crue after making (arguably) their best album (or one of). Corabi was in a bit of a state. His confidence in himself was shaken after the Motley experience, who seemed impossible to please when their album tanked. John told Bruce that he didn’t want to sing anymore, he just wanted to play guitar. Bruce’s response was “Dude, you’re fuckin’ high!”
And so it was that Bruce and John teamed up (with Brent Fitz and Jamie Hunting) in the aptly named Union.
You wouldn’t call Union a supergroup, but they did create a fine album. It is in the mold of the last albums these guys made separately (Motley ’94 and Carnival). Union turned out as an angry, dark rock record, very much a child of the 1990’s. With Kulick on guitar, Union was more than a 90’s alt-grunge retread. The 90’s are omnipresent in the droning riffs and staggered rhythms, but then Bruce dumped out his tackle box of guitar tricks. Bruce evolved over the years from a guy who played really fast on 80’s Kiss albums to a serious player interested in pushing his own limits. Where he used to be content to play flurries of notes, on Union he goes for maximum gut impact. It’s less about playing the notes than bending them to his will.
It’s also quite clear how much writing Bruce and John did in their respective bands, judging by the sound of this. “Around Again” bears groovy similarities to tracks like “Jungle” by Kiss and “Uncle Jack” by Motley. There’s a pissed-off attitude, and musicianship that would make Nikki Sixx crap his pants. Thankfully Union have a good batch of songs backing them. Much like the previous Kiss and Crue records, Union is not instant love. It takes about three good listens to penetrate its metal-grunge (with a touch of Beatles) hybrid sound. Union usually seem to go for the guts rather than singalong melodies.
One of the exceptions to this rule is the pure fun “Love (I Don’t Need it Anymore)”. This is the one that hooks you on the first round. With a funky little riff and a chorus that sinks right in, it slays. The ballad “October Morning Wind” is another catchy track, an acoustic number a-la Zeppelin. Think of a track like “Loveshine” from the Motley album for the right ballpark. Stealing a Zeppelin title, Union’s song “Tangerine” is a groove rock tune like a heavier Aerosmith.
On the other side of the spectrum: psychedelic rock. “Let It Flow” is a trippy song broken up into sections called “The Invitation”, “The Journey” and “The Celebration”. I think John was smoking something green when he wrote the lyrics, but Bruce’s sitar-like guitar is the perfect complement. “Empty Soul” has similar scope, being a pretty huge song with musical goodness coming out the wazoo.
Adding the Beatles cover “Oh Darlin'” to a reissued version of the album is a little greedy, but fortunately worth it. As it turned out this band only made two studio albums, so more Union is good Union. If you recall the original song, Paul McCartney gave it his best rasp screams. Up to bat is John Corabi who can sing that way in his sleep. It’s a perfect match and “Oh Darlin'” is a nice little extra on which to end an exceptional album. The only issue I have with “Oh Darlin” is actually its placement as the last song. Previously, the solo-written Corabi acoustic ballad “Robin’s Song” was the closer, much like “Driftaway” was on the Motley album. You become accustomed to “Robin’s Song” as a closer, because it has that quality to it. “Oh Darlin'” is not a closer. It would have worked better earlier in the track list, so feel free to shuffle as you choose.
Whatever version you acquire, any fan of Kulick and/or Corabi would be foolhardy to live without this CD. It ranks as one of the best albums by either.
Welcome back to the week of Getting More Getting More Tale. This one is…not funny.
GETTING MORE TALE #499: Top Five Most Heinous Rock Criminals
Who are the biggest dicks in rock? People who have committed crimes so atrocious, so heinous, that forgiveness is all but impossible? Here is a list of some of the most well known examples of extreme douchebaggery in rock and roll.
Not everybody gets to have Gary Oldman play them in a movie. In order to attain this dubious distinction, you have to be the bassist for the most notorious punk band in the world, stab your girlfriend (Nancy Spungeon) to death, and then die of an overdose before the case can go to trial. The unanswered questions will remain so forever.
The genius producer extraordinaire may have been most well known for his “wall of sound” in the 1960’s, but today people remember him showing up in an array of outrageous wigs for his murder trial. On February 3 2003, actress Lana Clarkson was killed by a gunshot to the head at Spector’s mansion. Spector was found guilty on April 13 2009, and has been in jail ever since. His bald mugshot was a stark contrast to the huge wigs he was known for.
This bizarre tale cannot be summed up in a paragraph. Varg did 21 years in jail for stabbing Mayhem guitarist Euronymous (Øystein Aarseth) to death. Vikernes has explained and justified the events of August 10 1993 many times, but every interview just makes the situation more bizarre and surreal. Vikernes is a free man today, continually working on and releasing new music with his solo project Burzum.
Drinking and driving is a crime that no-one should ever take lightly. When it involves injury and death, that goes double. On December 8 1984, a drunk Vince hopped into his Pantera with Hanoi Rocks drummer Razzle Dingley to pick up some more booze. Neil hit an oncoming car, seriously injuring its passengers, and killing Dingley. Neil spent 15 days in jail. To make matters even worse, this was not Neil’s last instance of drinking and driving. He faced charges in 2007 and again in 2010. This is an example of a man who is old enough to know better, but will never learn.
Ian Watkins is in jail right now, and hopefully will remain there for a very long time. His crime? According to investigators, Watkins is a “committed, organized paedophile” and “potentially the most dangerous sex offender” they had ever seen. His lack of any sort of remorse has made his crimes that much more disgusting.
MOTLEY CRUE – Quaternary (1994 Elektra Japanese EP)
For me, undoubtedly the most heavily anticipated new album of 1994 was the new Motley Crue. Originally titled ‘Til Death Do Us Part, the self-titled ’94 Crue disc was their first with new singer/guitarist John Corabi. They holed up with producer Bob Rock and knuckled down, creating what could have been the most important album of their careers. The long wait (five years between studio albums) and cryptic remarks from the studio indicated that this would be the heaviest Motley album ever, and their most ambitious. The new, serious Motley for the 90’s had, as always, written plenty of extra material too.
In addition, producer Bob Rock had an idea for getting creative juices flowing. He asked each of the four members of Motley Crue to write and record a solo track with no input from the other members. This was slightly historic: the first time Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Tommy Lee or John Corabi had done anything solo. With all the numerous outtakes recorded for the Motley Crue LP, there was now plenty of extra material to put out as a bonus EP.
A mail-away coupon inside the Motley Crue CD alerted fans that five more tracks were available by mail order only. 20,000 copies of the original EP were pressed. They included all four solo tracks and a new Motley Crue song called “Babykills”, featuring fifth Beatle Billy Preston on clavinet!
Still, the lucky fans in Japan didn’t have to mail away for anything. They were able to buy Quaternary right on their store shelves, and because it’s Japan, they also got bonus tracks. The Japanese version of Quaternary was not a five song EP, but more like a nine-song mini-album. I had no idea such a thing existed until finding one at Sam the Record Man in Toronto in the summer of 1996. It still has the price tag: I paid $49.99, for a total of three songs that I did not have before.
Today, every one of these songs can be found on the box set Music to Crash Your Car To: Volume II, along with even more bonus mixes.
Quaternary commences with industrial noises and studio dialogue:
Tommy Lee: “I can’t play with fuckin’ clothes on man, this is bullshit.”
Bob Rock: “Play naked.”
Tommy Lee: “Fuckin’ jeans on, a fuckin’ shirt…what up with that?”
Bob Rock: “What, do you work in a bank?”
The industro-rap metal of Tommy Lee’s “Planet Boom” is a track he had been working on for years. An early version made its debut in the background on the 1992 home video release Decade of Decadence. Even though the words “industro-rap” and “Tommy Lee” don’t really sound good together, “Planet Boom” kicks ass. Tommy played all the instruments, utilising a simple, detuned Sabbathy riff and a relentless drum loop. The strength of his vocal came as a surprise, as did the song in general. A few years later it was remixed for Pamela Anderson’s movie Barb Wire. (Stick with this original.)
After a brief studio discussion with Mick Mars about hemorrhoids (?), his blues instrumental “Bittersuite” blows your ears off. Motley fans know that Mick Mars is the most musically talented member, considered an underrated and under appreciated rock god. The blues-rock of “Bittersuite” isn’t as satisfying as I imagine a pure blues offering to be, but there is no doubting Mick’s talent here. Both as a writer and a player, Mick hit it out of the park (Chris Taylor played drums). Mick’s goal was to pay tribute to rock-blues greats like Beck, Hendrix and Blackmore. Mission accomplished. His guitar tone is beautiful and so are his emotive licks.
Nikki Sixx goes third, with another industrial-metal cross. “Father” is one angry fucked up track. It’s heavy and direct, on-trend for 1994, and very abrasive. The riff and song are simple, but Nikki’s anger leaks through. “Father — where were you?” Backwards guitars, electronics and loops on top — you can tell Nikki and Tommy were listening to the same kinds of music at the time!
New kid John Corabi goes last, and in the liner notes he says that “Friends” is his first piano song. He meant to go acoustic, but “Friends” just came out of him. It’s a pretty Queen-like ballad with lovely harmonies in the middle. Although Mick Mars’ song is probably a greater technical achievement, “Friends” is my favourite of the solo tracks. When a guy like Corabi gets going on a ballad, it’s usually going to be amazing anyway. Throw in the Queen elements, and I’m just a sucker for it! It’s really a shame that Motley did not continue with John beyond this. The potential for greatness was always there.
After more studio chatter, we break into “Babykills”, the Billy Preston collaboration. “Babykills” is fun and funky hard rock, probably the heaviest thing Preston ever played on. Unfortunately his part is little more than an added topping. Great tune though; probably far too good to lie hidden away on an obscure mail-order EP.
An impromptu jam that seems to be called “I Just Wanna Fuck You (In the Ass)” ends the original EP on a jokey note. “What the fuck do you want, for fuck all?”
As mentioned, the Japanese had bonus tracks. These are tracks that did not make the finished Motley Crue album, since they had recorded so much extra material. “10,000 Miles Away” is a cool blues ballad, showing off more of Mick’s fine fingerwork. It was obviously too much of a standard sounding song to fit in with the experimental Motley Crue album. Not that the album stood a chance in hell after grunge cleared the decks, but you do wonder if it would have been better received if some of these more digestible songs were included on it.
The one track on the Japanese release that is easy to skip is the Skinny Puppy remix of “Hooligan’s Holiday”. This track was already available on the “Hooligan’s Holiday” single and it’s since been re-released in other places too. It’s long — over 11 minutes. Dave “Rave” Ogilvie remixed it with Dwayne Goettel and cEvin Key, so it is of possible interest to Skinny Puppy collectors. The thing that bugs me about it is that it strikes me as lazy. The song is pretty much the same as always for the first three minutes, and then the remixing begins. The whacked out and frankly boring remixed part goes on for almost seven more minutes, before transitioning back to the standard song. In other words, what Skinny Puppy did here was edit out the middle section and guitar solo of the song, drop in seven minutes of remixed barf, and then put the ending back on.
Two demos round out the CD: “Hammered” (which did make the album) and “Livin’ in the No” (which did not). The “Hammered” demo is structurally the same as the album version, no radical departures. It sounds like much of it is live in the studio, and it’s clear that Motley were focusing on grooves. It’s all about the four guys being locked in. Finally “Livin’ in the No” is in the standard hard rock mold. Again, a track like this fits in less well with the unorthodox LP, but might have made it more accessible for fans. Even so, a guy like Vince Neil would never have been able to sing “Livin’ in the No” and make it sound good.
There is little question that the Motley Crue album deserves its 5/5 star rating. This being a collection of outtakes, the same cannot be expected. Still, it does deserve a very respectable:
Get the complete EP including all Japanese bonus tracks on Music to Crash Your Car To: Volume II. That set also contains more remixes originally from single B-sides of the era: “Misunderstood” (Guitar Solo/Scream Version), “Hooligan’s Holiday” (Derelict Version), “Misunderstood” (Successful Format Version), “Hooligan’s Holiday” (Brown Nose Edit).
This movie stunk. Somebody had the idea: “Hey, let’s get Andrew Dice Clay to headline a raunchy comedy movie, and get a hard rock soundtrack! The kids will love it.” The movie and soundtrack were loaded with famous names: Wayne Newton, Sheila E., Vince Neil, Priscilla Presley, Robert England and so on. It didn’t help; the movie tanked and its resultant soundtrack was a hodge-podge of music that no one listener would like all the way through.
There is plenty to dislike on this CD.
A past-his-prime Dion remade “Sea Cruise” with Don Was, rendering it limp like a stunted child of the 1980’s. Skip the unbelievably terrible Sheila E. track. The Teddy Pendergrass song is also pretty awful, in a nondescript 80’s fashion. Tone Lōc dropped a turd with “Can’t Get Enough”, despite a phat Hammond organ riff that must have been sampled from something much better. Finally, Andrew Dice Clay taints both the band Yello and the song “I Ain’t Got You” with his voice. The Yello track is just synth music with movie dialogue on top. Then “I Ain’t Got You” is less than two minutes long, so at least it’s relatively painless. I don’t know if somebody had the idea to launch Dice as a rock star next, but if they did, it failed miserably.
There are a few songs that could be considered keepers.
Billy Idol was experiencing a comeback at the time, with the classic-tinged “Cradle of Love”. It combined new wave production values with rock and roll stylings of the 1950’s. Striking while the iron Idol was hot, the song is included on this soundtrack as the opening number. It was Idol’s first single, post-Steve Stevens. It featured his new guitarist Mark Younger-Smith, and ex-Ozzy bassist Phil Soussan who briefly appeared in the movie as one of Vince Neil’s bandmates. (He later became one of Vince’s bandmates in real life.)
Speaking of Vince, Motley Crue contributed the Dr. Feelgood outtake “Rock ‘n Roll Junkie”, well before it was released on Decade of Decadence. This mix is slightly different than the one commonly released on Motley albums. Vince sings an audible “Uh!” sound at the 30 second mark on the usual versions. That is absent on the Ford Fairlane mix. There is also a stronger flanging effect on the bass during the intro of the common version. So, for Motley diehards, this CD presents one mix that you don’t own elsewhere in your collection.
I have no idea how Queensryche got involved with this soundtrack; they were even on a different record label. “Last Time in Paris” was an accessible rock track; an outtake from the sessions for the forthcoming Empire. It would not have been one of the best Empire tracks, but it’s good enough for fans of vintage ‘Ryche. Chris DeGarmo employs a slide on his guitar solo, and Geoff Tate throws down a sassy lead vocal.
The final track was also an outtake from a forthcoming release: Richie Sambora’s Stranger in this Town solo debut. Sambora recorded a classy cover of Hendrix’s “The Wind Cries Mary”. Sambora was displaying previously unseen depth and blues chops. “The Wind Cries Mary” was later included on a deluxe edition of Stranger in this Town, but by and large most Bon Jovi fans have not heard it. With this track, Richie had the best tune on the soundtrack.
The verdict on this “rock and roll detective” movie sountrack? It gets the dreaded Flaming Turd.
MOTLEY CRUE – 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection (2003 Universal)
As a change of pace, this review focuses not on what is on the album, but what was left off. This 20th Century Masters is more than a little shoddy, as this series can often be. So let’s talk about what it is not.
“Piece of Your Action” is a great little ditty from the debut record Too Fast For Love. What you’re missing though: the speedy single “Live Wire”! It makes little sense to have this one without “Live Wire”.
“Shout at the Devil” and “Too Young to Fall in Love”: Great choices. Both are classic 80’s metal. What you’re missing is hit single “Looks that Kill”. But as Meat Loaf says, two out of three ain’t bad.
“Home Sweet Home” is Motley’s biggest hit ballad ever, but where is the Brownsville Station cover “Smokin’ in the Boys Room”? Can you believe it’s not on here? And it’s not because it’s a cover, because, well, we’ll get there.
The title track makes good sense to include, but why is “All in the Name Of…” on here instead of “Wild Side”? Also missing, but understandably so, is the ballad “You’re All I Need” which never made much impact. “Wild Side” though remained a concert staple to the end, so that’s one you’ll need to find elsewhere.
There were five singles on this album, and of course you can’t include them all on a 20th Century Masters CD. What you do need are the title track and lead single “Dr. Feelgood”, and obviously “Kickstart My Heart”. “Kickstart” was an explosive statement by the band, proving they were as mighty as ever without the drugs. Those two songs embodied the album, but there’s no “Feelgood” here. Inexplicable! Certainly one of the biggest oversights on this disc.
Great song! Not on this CD!
For reasons that are unexplained and perhaps best left that way, instead of including any of the above better known songs, 20th Century Masters has the far less famed “Rock ‘N’ Roll Junkie”, and Sex Pistols cover “Anarchy in the UK”. “Junkie” is a Feelgood outtake, original released on The Adventures of Ford Fairlane soundtrack in 1990. “Anarchy” was recorded for Motley’s first greatest hits, Decade of Decadence. Neither song is essential, and both are on Decade. Why are they here? “Primal Scream”, which was a powerful single, is a must have. But it’s not here. Yet another song you’d still have to get elsewhere, because it’s awesome and important.
No complaints here. “Hooligan’s Holiday” is included from 1994’s self-titled album with John Corabi on vocals. Nice to see this single represented instead of ignored.
At this point, for a compilation like 20th Century Masters, I don’t think you need to explore the 90’s. But, from 1997’s dreadful Generation Swine comes the title track. Not the minor hit single “Afraid” mind you, but the title track which did nothing and went nowhere. Baffling!
Ending the album with “Hell on High Heels” brought the compilation up to date for its 2003 release date. Unfortunately, there was nothing on New Tattoo worth bringing to the table. Tommy Lee had left and there was a serious dip in quality, even after Generation Swine. Although it was the only Motley album featuring late drummer Randy Castillo, New Tattoo is simply a turd with no songs that are up to snuff. Crappy way to close a pretty crap compilation, though. Motley Crue’s instalment of 20th Century Masters sounds as if it’s a single disc from a double CD compilation, and the other CD’s been lost. Sorry Motley, this CD gets the dreaded Flaming Turd.
GETTING MORE TALE #474: Vertigo Records in Ottawa Ontario
Something very special happened on March 24, 1956. On that day, Clifford Michael Woodhouse married young Jean, the light of his life, and they began a large and loving family. Clifford, known as Mike, was a radar operator in the CF (Canadian Forces). As such he and his family lived in many parts of the world at many times. According to his son Richard, who also served in the CF: “During the height of the Cold War he was a Radar operator, working on what was known as the Pine Line, where he monitored and collected information on the movement and position of threats to the Canadian Forces and to Canadian sovereignty.” He was also involved in classified projects, but I can’t talk about that, or he’ll have to shoot me.
Sgt. Woodhouse ultimately settled in Ottawa after stops in France and Gander, Newfoundland. He retired in Ottawa where he and Jean still live today. I am lucky to have married his beautiful grand-daughter Jennifer.
A 60th wedding anniversary is a big deal. Did you know that couples who are citizens of the British empire (including Canadians) can receive a letter from Queen Elizabeth II for their 60th anniversary? The diamond Woodhouse anniversary celebration (held on Sunday the 20th) was not an event we were likely to miss, so Jen and I climbed aboard a train and headed east to our nation’s capital.
We stayed in the Novotel (good experience; recommended) which was a block or two away from a store called Vertigo Records. Brilliant. First excursion solved! We’ll get there eventually (I promise), but lemme tell you, I’ve never been in a Hummer limo before. Jen’s cousin Missy arranged this beast of a vehicle, 18 feet in length, and just a pleasure to ride in. (So screw the environment I guess; I rode in a Hummer limo and enjoyed it!) There were 14 of us inside that Hummer, including Mike and Jean, two of their kids, three of their grand-kids, and FIVE of their SIX great-grandchildren! How incredible is that? Even more met us at the Keg Manor; a large and incredible group of people.
During the celebration, the lucky couple were presented a number of precious documents in honour of their achievement. The letter from the Queen was perhaps even overshadowed by a personal letter from the Right Honourable Steven Harper, former Prime Minister of Canada. Family member Chris acquired this by writing to the office of Mr. Harper, who was kind enough to send a signed letter in response. There was also a letter from David Johnston, Governor General of Canada and direct representative of the Queen in this country.
Jennifer has a great family in Ottawa and I can’t wait to return to the city, in warmer weather. It was bitter cold that weekend, windy and unpleasant to walk in for a long period of time. As such we didn’t go far in distance from our hotel. I did find this interesting place that I might have to check out next time.* It was situated beside a couple tattoo shops. Hey, it says it’s FREE, right?
Vertigo Records (193 Rideau St, (613)-241-1011) is an inviting and cool store selling new and used CDs, vinyl and even cassettes. They had a copy of Metallica’s tape-only No Life ‘Til Leather, sealed for $25. Even cooler, they had a signed Motorhead drum head (not for sale). We arrived shortly after they opened and there were already customers browsing. They had a lot of stock and they were putting out plenty of new stuff as I was there. There were a number that struck my eye.
One of the first discs I noticed was Yngwie Malmsteen’s Live in Leningrad, which I have wanted for a long time but never had. Vertigo had a good variety of tunes in rotation over the speakers, including some Motley Crue. Maybe that’s what inspired me to pick up the double Live – Entertainment or Death. I’ve seen a lot of copies of it in the past in just wrecked condition, so not remembering if I owned it or not, I picked this one up. I did own it already. So this one goes into the Aaron pile.** In the new arrivals bin, I saw Robert Pollard/Doug Gillard’s Speak Kindly of Your Volunteer Fire Department. I wasn’t certain if he owned it or not, so for only $6.99 it was better safe than sorry. He does have it, so I’ll keep it. He tells me I won’t be disappointed with it anyway, because Gillard is a guitar hero of his and I should be in for a treat.
Speaking of Aaron, he has some Deep Purple castaways coming his way. When I saw these lovely Japanese reissues in mint, complete condition for only $14.99 each, it was all but a no-brainer to pick them up. There are Russian forgeries on the market, but these are the genuine article from Japan. I’m very pleased to add these to my collection and pass down my old copies to the next generation of Purple fanatics.*** And lo! More Japanese treasures were to be found! Complete with obi strip was some rare Rage Against the Machine. I have a brief story about this CD, that was too short to make it into Record Store Tales*^ but fine for an anecdote here.
One of the few guys that actually worked at the old Record Store before me was this guy Dave. There was the owner, his brother, two guys named Craig and Dave, and then me. A bit later on, Dave went to Japan but kept in touch via snail mail (back then, we just called it “mail”). I will never forget that he sent us a letter to the store, almost taunting us with rare CDs that he found in Japan. He mailed us the obi strips for Nirvana’s Hormoaning and a Rage Against Machine CD called Live & Rare. “Ever seen these before?” read part of the letter. Hormoaning yes, Rage no. I never saw it again either, until Vertigo Records. $12.99, obi strip intact. Dave doesn’t even have his own obi strip anymore!
Moving on, some classic rock finds were hard to turn down. Cream Gold ($8.99 for 2 CDs!) and Jethro Tull’s Living With the Past ($6.99) came home with me to Kitchener. I have the Tull DVD of the same name, and it’s excellent. And Cream? This is my first Cream purchase. This is something I’m glad to have fixed in my collection.
I love me some Fu Manchu, but I missed We Must Obey the first time out. Brant Bjork’s Punk Rock Guilt also slipped past me. Not this time! $7.99 each.
Finally, I could not safely bring home a lot of vinyl on the train, so I didn’t go nuts on it. I saw some cool stuff, believe me, and I was considering getting some Kiss solo album reissues. I bought one 45, which was “The Devil Stole the Beat from the Lord” by the Hellacopters, taken from their Kiss-like LP Grande Rock. The single contains two non-album B-sides: “Holiday Cramps” and “Be Not Content”. The devil-dragster cover art probably made Rob Zombie cry tears of jealousy.
The guy behind the counter gave me the 45 for free. “Because you’re buying so much,” he said. What a pleasant surprise. That was awesome. I guess he didn’t know who I was*^^ and that I like to do this whenever I can! We had a brief chat while he carefully put the discs and inserts in the cases. We marveled at the folks out there who actually throw away CD packaging. Why would anybody do such a thing? I will truly never understand.
It was such a pleasure being in Ottawa that weekend, windy cold weather aside. We will definitely return, and stay longer so as to check out some of the other record stores in town. Vertigo Records is a must, a highly recommended store that I would rank as highly as my favourite Toronto record stores.
And thank you to C. Michael Woodhouse for your hospitality and for everything you have done for this country.
Mike “LeBrain” Ladano
*I’m kidding! I’m kidding!
**I have a lot of stuff here that I should really mail out to the friends I promised I would mail them out to.
***Hopefully Aaron and his kids.
*^Have you been reading Record Store Tales? If not, please click here.
*^^I’ve always wanted to say to somebody, “Do you know who I am?” and then whip out my mikeladano.com cards as if I’m actually somebody.