moving pictures

#808: Remembering Neil – Ten of his Best

Forever I’ll be grateful for Neil Peart.  If there was ever one shining example of a rock star you’d want to emulate, it was Neil Peart.  He was a giant.  Musically he was untouchable.  Considering Rush have 19 studio albums and other odds and ends in their discography, it’s a daunting task to make a list of the best.

Probably half the list fell together immediately.  The other half was agonizing.  Focusing on songs, not necessarily solos, made it a simpler task.  Any one of Neil’s big live solos are essential listening anyway.  “The Rhythm Method” on Different Stages comes highly recommended.

At one point I had nine tracks and needed one more.  I asked Facebook for help.  Facebook responded with so many great runners-up that I have to list them.

  • “War Paint” (T-Rev)
  • “The Pass” (Leo)
  • “Afterimage” (Leo)
  • “The Body Electric” (Jamie)
  • “Xanadu” (Jamie)
  • “Mystic Rhythms” (Jamie)
  • “Animate” (Jamie)
  • “Between the Wheels” (HMO)
  • All of Hemispheres (Uncle Meat)
  • “Natural Science” (Scotty G)

A good showing for Presto tunes there, notably.  T-Rev always loved that album.  Ultimately I used none of these suggestions and completed the list below.  A list that I believe are the 10 best songs to represent Neil Peart.

All of these songs (above and below) will enrich your lives.  Enjoy.  And rest in peace, Neil Peart OC (Order of Canada), one of our proudest native sons.

Novelty #11: 

The Hockey Theme

I use the term “novelty” with a caveat: really, only because the song is 70 seconds long.  Neil’s arrangement of the classic Hockey Night in Canada theme written by Dolores Claman deserves note as one of very few tracks credited to him as a solo artist.  This track shows off his roots and his ability to make anything sound heavy!  Yet dig in and listen to his meticulously arranged drum part.  He put just as much creativity into this as he did any of Rush’s originals.


“One Little Victory”

A victory indeed!  Neil suffered immeasurable tragedy in the late 1990s when he lost both his wife and daughter.  He disappeared on a motorcycle, remaining out of sight for five years, the wind on his back as he sought healing.  His return was “One Little Victory” from Vapor Trails with a crescendo of power drumming.  It’s Rush saying, “He’s back, baby.  The Professor is back!”



This track from Roll the Bones is a personal favourite.  Well, they all are, but this one is for just one moment in time. At 3:50 of the song, Peart performs a drum roll that I can only describe as pure ecstasy.

And if the music stops, there’s only the sound of the rain.


“Red Sector A”

80s Rush rules! Neil was using more and more electronic percussion, but to no less lethal effect. Give this number from Grace Under Pressure a spin.  The programmed pulse of synth topped by the crashing clank of Neil’s electronic drums give this track a digital, otherworldly feeling.  By this time, Peart’s cymbal work was just as interesting as what he was doing elsewhere on the kit.  Listen to him ride that beat and accent it with the perfect touch.


“The Spirit of Radio”

This enduring track from Permanent Waves is a lyrical and rhythmic triumph.  It’s easy for cynics to mock descriptive phrases like “Invisible airwaves crackle with life, bright antennae bristle with the energy.”  But there is no denying the truth that is “Emotional feedback on a timeless wavelength, bearing a gift beyond price, almost free.”  Music.


“Cygnus X-1”

A Farewell to Kings was Rush during their progressive peak, a stream of albums with side-long concepts.  “Cygnus X-1” utilises such Peart favourites as bells.  And it’s 11 minutes about a black hole.


“Cotton Tail”

In 1994, Neil Peart organized the Buddy Rich tribute album Burning For Buddy, uniting the Buddy Rich Big Band with drummers such as Dave Weckl, Steve Smith, Matt Sorum, Simon Phillips, and of course Neil with his debut in the jazz section.  His groove on “Cotton Tail” is unlike anything he’s done in Rush. It’s unreal that he could master both rock and jazz like this.


“Vital Signs”

80s Rush rules!  Introducing reggae vibes seems natural in hindsight given Neil’s willingness to explore new rhythms.  Peart’s creativity knew no bounds.  His delicate touch on the Police-like “Vital Signs” (from Moving Pictures) is so good that it should probably be higher on this list.  But there are some key tracks still to come.



Rush’s most famous instrumental.  This number showcases all three of Rush’s members.  Of course Neil Peart’s drums are in integral part of it all.  And there’s a reason they call him “The Professor”.  According to minds more musical than mine, “The piece’s introduction, played in a time signature of 10/8, repeatedly renders “Y-Y-Z” in Morse Code using various musical arrangements.”



This track from Signals exemplifies Neil’s philosophy of drums as an active part of the composition of a song.  Every beat matters; everything the stick hits is a hook.  Never before have the drums been so integral a part of what makes a song truly great.


“Tom Sawyer”

The quintessential Neil Peart song.  Iconic, untouchable.  Barenaked Ladies even quoted his famous drum part in their song “Grade Nine”. When people think of Rush 100 years from now, it’ll be the image of them jamming “Tom Sawyer” at Le Studio, with Neil framed by that big window and snowy landscape behind.



Epilogue:  Meanwhile, in England…

Sarge from the piercing shop Metal Fatigue in Bournemouth tells us “I have been listening to Rush…ALL DAY.  Really loud.  He added, “I did 40-odd piercings today with that soundtrack!!”  Absolutely brilliant.

#726: Misplaced

GETTING MORE TALE #726:  Misplaced

I lost my favourite flash drive.  It’s around here somewhere.  Maybe I left it in a shirt pocket that ended up in the laundry.  Flash drives can survive a go in the wash, that’s no big deal.  It has 32 gig of various music on it, and it’s my handy dandy go-anywhere music solution.  Most recently it had the complete studio albums of Black Sabbath, Van Halen, Deep Purple, and many more.  Losing it (temporarily we hope) meant putting some tunes on another flash drive instead.

This time, I loaded it up with some AC/DC, Faith No More, Led Zeppelin, Rush, Joe Satriani, Whitesnake, and more.  Jen had a day of errands to run, so I decided to use a vacation day and help her out.

Our first mission, for most people, was no big deal.  In the lives of Mike and Jen, it requires planning and preparation:  getting your photo ID at Service Ontario.  You know those lovely pictures that look like mug shots because you’re not allowed to smile or show any facial expression at all?  Those are an obstacle and a half for Jen.  Why?  Because she’s epileptic and can’t have her photo taken with a flash.  Just another day in the Mike and Jen Show.

Since this wasn’t her first rodeo, Jen knew what to do.  She learned the hard way last time.  I know what you’re thinking.  “Why don’t they just take a photo without a flash?”  They can’t.  Those cameras are hooked up in such a way that they cannot turn the flash off.  Last time Jen had to do this, the staff at Service Ontario were absolutely stunned.  This time, we called in advance and booked an appointment.  Jen told them of her condition and made sure that they were prepared for her.  Then she went to Walmart and had some photos taken without a flash.  We picked the most bland-faced one of the bunch, and she had it printed up in various sizes and finishes so we’d have lots of options.

“Print it?” you’re asking.  “Why not just give them a card with the pictures on it?”  Yeah, they can’t do that either.  So what we do, and it’s quite ingenious, is take the Walmart photo and tape it where you’d normally stand to have your picture taken.  Then, they take a picture of that, while Jen looks away.  It took a few tries but we got her photo ID today with no hassles.  That was a first for Jen!  Mission accomplished.

Then we hit the road for Mission #2.  I loaded Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap up on the flash drive.  The mission this time was really simple.  We were going to visit Jen’s best friend Lara in Brampton for lunch.  It was a lovely day for a drive and AC/DC kept my pedal to the metal.  We both had a chuckle at the lyrics to Big Balls, with me remembering what it was like to be 10 years old and laughing every time Bon Scott said “balls”.

When Dirty Deeds ended, I threw on Rush’s Moving Pictures.  On a recent episode of Eddie Trunk’s radio show, Geddy Lee left no doubt that Rush is over.  Neil Peart has not only retired from Rush, he said, but from drumming altogether.  The physical toll that those 40 years took on Peart’s body means he needed a permanent vacation.  Rush will never play again.  That was running through my mind when I selected Moving Pictures, but soon I was immersed, rushed down “the river” like a modern day Tom Sawyer.

We picked a cheap steak place for lunch called Chuck’s roadhouse.  Surf & turf for $20?  Sure, I’ll try anything once.  Better than a fast food burger.  My steak was overdone but I haven’t had a lobster tail in years!  The sweet taste of lobster and salty butter was almost too much to bear.  I could have cried with joy.  Lobster is the ocean’s steak.  That was the easiest $20 to spend, ever.  I’d go back; maybe next time the steak won’t be over cooked!

We had a great lunch.  Jen broke a plate, but like a true friend, Lara took the blame.  We dropped her back off at work and headed home to Led Zeppelin’s In Through the Out Door.  It’s a quirky one and that’s why I love it.

As we rocked to “Fool in the Rain”, Jen remarked on how much her musical taste had improved over the last 10 years.  “I’ll always love Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots, but now I like Led Zeppelin too.”  Hey, I’m glad to have been a positive influence!

I think every music fan likes to share their favourites and hope it connects with somebody else.  The car is my favourite place to do that.  Thanks, Zep!


REVIEW: Rush – Red Stars of the Solar Federation (Live at Montreal Forum May ’81)

RED STARS_0001RUSH – Red Stars of the Solar Federation (X-Rekords, Live at Montreal Forum May ’81)

I found this bootleg when I was unceremoniously transferred from one location to another.  When I started at the other location, this was among the first CDs that came in that I just had to buy.  It’s a Rush bootleg from the legendary Moving Pictures tour.  In fact this CD is the audio of the Rush video Exit…Stage Left, which is a different audio from the LP.  It sounds like a vinyl rip.  Otherwise the sound quality is pretty good.  The audience is shrill and very loud.  There are also clearly speed/pitch issues with the audio.  (This could be corrected in Audacity, but I don’t think I could do it by ear.)  This CD is selling for over $70 currently on Discogs.  I paid nowhere near that.

Between the songs are interview snippets from the band, same as the video.  It features a few tracks that were not on the Exit…Stage Left album:  “By-Tor”, “In the Mood”, “In the End”, and “2112” which is unlisted.  The rest of the songs are completely different recordings, anyway.  I guess that’s why the asking price is $70.  They are no less perfect; no less electrifying.

“The Trees” and “Xanadu” take up one massive 17 minute track on the CD, and it’s a monument to perfection of performance and craft.  I can barely remember the sequence of all the different parts of Xanadu; I can’t imagine how Rush can play a set full of this stuff with precision and feel all the time!  All this while Geddy has to remember complex lyrics about searching for the lost Xanadu.

RED STARS_0002I love Peart’s slamming drums on “Red Barchetta”, a song I simply never tire of.  What is it about Rush songs?  They don’t burn out like so many other bands.  Not even “Closer to the Heart” has burned out on me yet, and it’s always a pleasure hearing a less familiar version.

On to “By-Tor”: it features a nicely noisy and meandering Alex Lifeson solo, surely a highlight of the entire performance.  This segues directly into a truncated “In the End”, also from Fly By Night.  This then is butted against “In the Mood” from the first Rush album in an awkward transition.  Geddy appears to change the lyrics from “Hey baby” to “Hey Cookie”.  Even this song is shortened, and segues into “Grande Finale” from 2112.  Alex ends it with some noise-laden blasting on his axe, almost stealing the spotlight from his two bandmates.  It’s a perfect storm of musical excellence and heavy rock.

Sonically,  Red Stars of the Solar Federation is vastly inferior to the current Exit…Stage Left DVD.  Yet I have a geeky love for an oddball CD like this.  While I can’t say it’s worth $70, I can say it’s worth:

3.5/5 stars

WTF Search Terms: More Rock and Roll edition

WTF Search Terms XII: More Rock and Roll edition

“Here We Go Again” with more WTF Search Terms!  Everything seen below is an actual search term, that a real person clicked to somehow get here to  As David Coverdale might say, “Here’s some rock and roll for ya!”

  1. jon mikl thor arnold the beatles greatness (One of these things is not like the other)
  2. russ parish is god (Good, yes, God, no.)
  3. buyers for kiss albulms (What you got?)
  4. taking the rush blu ray disc out of moving pictures deluxe edition (It’s not that difficult, guy.)
  5. queensryche take hold of the flame cheap trick lyrics (Again these things are not the same.)
  6. used t-120 vhs recording tapes for kids sing along (OK…)
  7. cherone nice good guy (I wouldn’t know?)
  8. marilyn manson sucks himself (No!  How many fucking times do I have to tell you!)
  9. iron maiden gone too soft (Bullshit.)
  10. the demon code prevents me from declining a rock off challenge lyrics (ACCEPTED!)

If you enjoyed this and would like to read more WTF Search Terms, please click here!


REVIEW: Rush – Moving Pictures (CD/blu-ray deluxe edition)


Everybody got to evelate from the norm…


RUSH – Moving Pictures (2011 Anthem remaster with 5.1 blu-ray)

The great musical academic, Tom Morwood, once called Moving Pictures “the greatest album of the 1980’s”. I think he has an arguable position. Besides the obvious “Tom Sawyer”, you get such classics as “Red Barchetta”, “YYZ”, “Limelight”, and of course “Vital Signs”. This is back in the day when 7 or 8 songs made an album, and Moving Pictures’ 7 songs are a hell of a concoction.

Although the Rush catalogue was last remastered back in ’97 (or there ’bouts), this was the first Rush deluxe edition to hit the shelves. Unlike most deluxe editions, this one contains no “bonus tracks” per se, at least none in CD form. Disc one is Moving Pictures, in stereo, and disc two is the entire album in hi-def 5.1, plus three music videos. Disc one has been remastered (yet again!), but don’t fret — unless you’re an audiophile, you don’t need to worry about that. The 1997 CD edition sounded fine, as does this. You’re buying this for the 5.1, and if you can’t play 5.1 just stick with the original CD which sounds pretty much the same to the average Joe Listener.   (There’s also a “96k PCM stereo” with “256 times more resolution than a CD” on the blu-ray disc.)


If you don’t own this album yet, then what are you waiting for?  You couldn’t find a better CD to start with.  Although Geddy had brought the keyboards out, this album still represents the perfect mix of Alex’s guitar and Ged’s keys — not fighting for space in the mix, but sharing it equally and powerfully.


Do I really need to talk about “Tom Sawyer”?  It’s Rush’s most recognizable riff.  I can think of few other songs where the drum part carries just as many hooks as the other instruments.  But that’s Rush, that’s the Professor.  That’s part of their genius.

“Red Barchetta” is a futuristic tale.  The Motor Law has been passed, banning cars.  Romance for the old vehicles still exists in some, who seek the thrills.  I always felt the subject matter was similar to the movie The Last Chase, which didn’t come out until the following year.  Musically, the song twists and turns like the roads it’s about.

“YYZ” is perhaps Rush’s best known instrumental, a slammin’ piece of polyrhythmic madness.  It’s stuff like this that Rush is best known for, and “YYZ” is one of the best examples of it.  Alex’s guitar work is nothing short of stunning, meanwhile Geddy’s bass licks are perfect.

Meanwhile, “Limelight” represents the simpler pop side of Rush that the band were interested in exploring at the time.  It is still anchored by a solid riff, but with Geddy’s vocal melody enduring.  A song like this is an appropriate lead-in to “The Camera Eye”, a more complex piece featuring Geddy’s synth.  It’s over 10 minutes long, and perhaps the kind of thing people expect from Rush.

“Witch Hunt” is a shorter one, but ominous and dramatic.  Alex’s riff is the main focus, although Neil certainly throws in plenty of interesting accents.  The final track, “Vital Signs”, is my favourite.  Finding words to describe it is difficult.  It’s perfect — an amalgam of incredible playing with interesting influences and complex arrangements.  There is a clear reggae vibe, as they had been listening to a lot of The Police.  It’s also extremely memorable.  Neil’s drum work on this is stunning.

And that’s the album!  Seven songs done and dusted.


The 5.1 mix, done by Toronto’s own Richard Chycki (he’s been doing Rush and Triumph remixes for years now) is pretty damn good. It’s different. Listen to “Vital Signs” for example. It’s different, the balance of instruments and vocals. Considering the original stereo mix was perfect, and you can’t fairly compare to perfection, I will just say the mix is different. It’s definitely a great listen on a good system, I liked what Chycki did. Again, listen to “Vital Signs”. What he did there just creates this amazing field of sound. There’s a great separation of instruments. Moving Pictures was a great choice to mix in 5.1, you can really hear the individual playing.

The music videos are old, and don’t look so hot, even on blu. I have always loved watching the “Tom Sawyer” video, Neil bashing his kit in Le Studio with that big glass window behind him in the dead of winter. Geddy with those big glasses.  My best friend Peter, he loves Geddy’s glasses!  There’s also “Limelight”, which is seen less frequently.  The “Vital Signs” video, from the same taping, is previously unreleased.

The liner notes are by David Fricke, and are quite different from the who-played-what-when notes in previous deluxe editions. Fricke’s don’t go into great detail regarding the making of the album nor the 5.1 mix, as previous deluxe editions do. However, it’s David Fricke, and therefore a good read. Enjoy while immersed within this album, in sublime hi-def 5.1.

5(.1)/5 stars

REVIEW: Rush – Sector 2 (box set)

This one goes out to Rich from KamerTunesBlog, a great, informed site that you should check out.

I got the other two Sectors for Christmas, but this is an older review.

RUSH – Sector 2 (2011 box set, 5 CD + 1 DVD)

Damn you Rush.  Damn you!

If it wasn’t for the fact that I liked their past 5.1 mixes so much, I wouldn’t have bought each of these albums again in this box set.  And the fact that only one album (A Farewell To Kings) has been mixed in 5.1 really grinds my gears.  Because you know more is coming.  2112, recently released as a part of Sector 1, in normal stereo, is now coming again in 5.1.  It’s obvious Rush are going to continue to issue 5.1 mixes of their albums, in seemingly random order, which will probably make these box sets completely redundant in the future.

Rich Chycki did the 5.1 mix once again, and once again, it’s a pleasure to listen to.  In particular I found “Cygnus X-1” to really benefit from the treatment.  The swirly opening section made me feel as if I too was aboard the Rocinante, wheeling through the galaxies.  The album sounds three dimensional, clear, shimmery.  I’m very happy with the 5.1 mix.

Farewell is included on a standard stereo remastered CD, and also in stereo on the DVD.  I have read online that there are flaws with the stereo mix of this DVD but I’ve never played it.  I’m not that much of an audiophile that I would really care to, when I already have a CD.

The other CD’s included in the set, aside from A Farewell To Kings, are:

  • Hemispheres
  • Permanent Waves
  • Moving Pictures
  • Exit…Stage Left

…all of which I have now bought more than once.  In Moving Pictures‘ case, three times now, since they just issued that as a deluxe edition with a 5.1 surround blu-ray last year!  (Reviewed here.) Bastards.

I’m not going to review each individual album in this set.  That comprehensive task would require separate blog entries of their own.  They’re all great, of course.  Some (Moving Pictures) more so than others (Hemispheres) in my own personal opinion.  And of course, within this box set you will get such classics as “Closer To The Heart”, “The Trees”, “The Spirit of Radio”, “Freewill”, “YYZ”, “Limelight”, and “Vital Signs”.  In addition there are plenty of brilliant album tracks like “La Villa Strangiato” and “Natural Science”.

The box itself is attractive enough, and if you’re sucked into buying all three, then they all fit together on your shelf as one handsome library.  But you already own some of these albums, if not all, don’t you?  The bait is that 5.1 mix of Farewell.  And it pisses me off that Rush would treat their fans in that way.  Why not just remaster and re-release these albums on their own and in a box set?

The individual album packaging is nice enough too, mini record sleeve reproductions, with a nice booklet with lyrics and liner notes for the whole shebang, all taken from the albums.  As far as the booklet goes, there’s no exclusive essays or other content that is new to me.

And as for the new remastering?  I can’t tell the difference between this and the 1997 remasters.  I can’t.  Sorry.  I’m sure an audiophile would call me an idiot for saying so.

I probably won’t buy Sectors 1 and 3, not unless the prices drop dramatically.  I was able to re-gift my original Rush remasters off to other people, which is one way of dealing with the duplicates, but I’m not going to be getting rid of my deluxe Moving Pictures, since it has the blu-ray and a David Fricke essay.  So I’ve got two copies of that, and people who collect 5.1 mixes and have Sector 1 will end up with two copies of 2112.  Nice eh?

A Farewell To Kings 5.1 mix:  5/5 stars

Sector 2 box set:  1/5 stars

Part 27: Store Play

Another suggestion from Tommy Morais, my Amazon rock buddy from the east!  He wants to read about glam rock bands, and Canadian bands!  I played a lot of each at the store, especially in the earliest days.  I’m gonna throw some prog and metal in here too.  Here’s some of my fondest memories.


1996.  We had just opened our flagship store, and I was selected as manager.  This meant I’d be working alone for most of the day, and I could play what I wanted.  In the earliest days there were fewer rules.  The boss might make fun of me for playing Poison, but in the old days, he never told me to take it off as long as it was only once in a while.

I remember playing glam metal stuff like:

PoisonNative Tongue.  I enjoyed trying to turn kids onto music they’d like, but would never touch if they knew who it was.  It sometimes worked!  I think I sold one copy of Native Tongue that way, anyway.

Motley Crue – self titled.  This is in my top three Motley records of all time.  The one without Vince Neil.  A guy from the HMV store in Waterloo gave me props for playing it.  I once sold it to a guy who hated the latest Crue, Generation Swine.  I turned him onto self titled instead.  Instant fan.

David Lee RothYour Filthy Little Mouth.  I played this a shit-ton in the spring of 1995 too.  I don’t know why I like it so much, it’s so cheesey.  Dave does country!  Dave does reggae!  Dave does jazzy loungy stuff!  Dave does VH!  But Dave does write hilarious lyrics, and I did like that.

Van Halen – Any time, any where, any how.   But any time we had a copy of 1984?  Hell yeah!  And you couldn’t keep Best Of Volume I in stock for very long.  Certainly not if you played it.  The first year or two it was out, I probably sold it every time I played it!

Def LeppardSlang.  Again, much like the Poison and Crue, I was trying to turn new kids onto these classic bands that had explored new directions.  Unfortunately, Slang sold like shit.  I think it was too different for the old fans, and too old for the new fans.

And now let’s talk about Prog rock.  Ashleigh used to call prog music “smart-guy rock”.   That’s one reason why I wanted to play it every shift we shared.  I was trying to show her I was a smart guy, see?

MarillionMisplaced Childhood.  I played Marillion so frequently, that my co-workers Matty K and Ashleigh knew the words to some songs.  Unfortunately, they didn’t consider that a good thing.

Fish Kettle of Fish.  See above!

Dream TheaterImages and Words.  This came in so rarely, that when it did you had to play it.  It always sold if you played it.  We had so many musicians and wanna be’s (like me) coming into the store, they inevitably would ask what the fuck is this?  This one kid, a drummer named Curtis, loved Dream Theater.  I sold him his first Dream Theater.  Do you know how cool that is, selling somebody their first Dream Theater?  Curtis is a fantastic musician.  He’s jammed with my sister, actually.

RushMoving Pictures.  Like nails on a chalkboard to the girls in the Operations staff.  Could not play this if they were in the city, let alone the store.  But my fuck, what an album.  I remember Tom put a sticker on it that said, “Best album of the 80’s!”.  I thought to myself, “Then I need to hear the whole thing!”  I had never heard “Vital Signs” before.  I am sure Matty K remembers to this day, “Everybody got to evelate from the norm”.

And speaking of Rush!  I did a lot of Canadian themes.  We had a 5 disc changer.  A lot of the time, I would specifically pick 5 Canadian artists to take up a shift.  You’d often hear:

Sloan4 Nights at the Palais Royale.  In my opinion one of the top five live albums of all time.  It is also my favourite Sloan album.

Stompin’ Tom Connors – Anything we had in the store would work, as he didn’t come in frequently.  Unfortunately, Stompin’ Tom didn’t fare too well for store play in Kitchener.  Nobody seems to like him in this town.

Rush – duh?

Triumph – ditto.

Kim Mitchell / Max Webster – Another artist our Operations people hated.  I did one entire 5 disc shuffle of nothing but Kim and Max.  Kim was playing in town that day so I was hoping to drum up some sales.  I failed to do so, but I did try.  I was told to remove the Kim and Max from the player.

Helix / Brian Vollmer – I’d play Helix when it was in, which was infrequent.  I remember playing the Brian Vollmer solo album for Kevin, one of the guys that ended up in my wedding party.  I played the song “Good Times Don’t Get Better Than This” in the store.  I thought he would enjoy it.  Unfortunately, he did not.  I believe the words he used were, “This is not good.”  Kevin, I kindly submit that I strongly disagree to this day.

Even more rarely though came the opportunity to play the early stuff, the stuff with Brent Doerner singing lead.  Once — just once — Breaking Loose and White Lace & Black Leather came in.  I’m kicking myself for not buying them.  But when they were in store, I played “Billy Oxygen” on repeat for about 20 minutes.

Oscar Peterson – I only had the opportunity to do that once though.

Voivod – self titled.  The first one with Newsted.  Metallica had come out with St. Anger and a lot of fans didn’t like it.  I tried to sell this, which was more traditionally prog metal like old Metallica.

Incidentally, at the same time,  I was training a new franchisee around that time.  He was amused by how excited I was that the album Angel Rat, by Voivod, had come in, with 3D glasses intact.  I explained that usually these would be missing, but the CD was mint!  And “Clouds In My House” sounded great in-store!

Voivod crosses the boundary from prog into metal (or is it vice versa?), but I certainly did play a lot of metal in the store.

Bruce DickinsonBalls To Picasso.  I played this virtually every shift during the fall of 1994.  At the time, I thought “Tears of the Dragon” and “Change of Heart” were among the deepest songs I’d ever heard.  Yeah, well.

Iron MaidenBrave New World.  I love this album.  Matty K knows every word of “Blood Brothers”.

G//Z/RPlastic Planet.  Easily the heavist thing I have ever played in store.  Even I was uncomfortable!

sHeavyThe Electric Sleep.  Incidentally, the greatest Black Sabbath album that was not made by Black Sabbath.  Every time, people would ask, “Is this the new Ozzy?”  Every time.  You could put money on it.

Judas PriestTurbo.  It was the only one I could get away with!

Man, those were good times!   I am sure I could write another dozen of these.  I mean, we played a lot of music.  From Esquivel to Brushy One-String to Pansy Division to Jaymz Bee & the Royal Jelly Orchestra, we tried and sampled everything.