RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale #398: New Rock, Old Rock
A selection of songs I’ve been rocking out to on the radio lately, for your consideration and perusal.
ROYAL BLOOD – “Figure It Out”
It seems that bass/drums duos are all the rage. I like this awesome, aggressive groove from the English duo of Royal Blood. Just slammin’! Proof that you don’t need more than two people to make good heavy rock!
DEATH FROM ABOVE 1979 – “Trainwreck 1979”
Having ignored these two Canadian guys for years, I have recently become infatuated with “Trainwreck 1979”. I could do without the piano touches and the “woo ooo ooo’s” but it’s hard to deny that this is a slamming song living up to its name. Well done, Death From Above 1979.
THE TREWS – “New King”
This aggressive riff-based song combines three elements I love about the Trews – guitar hooks, memorable melodies, and a great singer. Bonus points for cool lyrics like, “A bitter hipster hick, Can’t stop talking shit, The F’N idiot, Don’t know when to quit.”
DANKO JONES – “Do You Wanna Rock”
No surprises here! Danko Jones = Danko Jones = Danko Jones, but it’s always nice to hear a new track. This one’s pretty simple — it’s about rocking! More cowbell!
I MOTHER EARTH – “The Devil’s Engine”
Different from anything I’ve heard this band do before, “The Devil’s Engine” combines traditional IME percussion with metallic riffs and licks. With the prior single “We Got the Love” out in 2012, it would be nice to get a new album by I Mother Earth.
THE PRETTY RECKLESS – “Follow Me Down”
I haven’t been a fan of the Pretty Reckless. Until now I’ve found their music to be tiredly generic. This track, however, kicks it! Taylor Momsen’s turned herself into a metal howler, in her natural environment. Her songs can get repetitive but I’m not bored with this one yet.
I’ve also recently rediscovered some of these tracks that I knew very well, but have been dusted off on the radio recently.
AC/DC – “Rock the Blues Away”
I’m glad that after “Play Ball” and “Rock Or Bust”, this excellent AC/DC track has been chosen as the newest single from AC/DC’s latest. It’s absolutely a favourite of mine! Great choice for a single.
NEIL YOUNG – “Downtown”
I’m pleasantly reminded of this collaboration between Uncle Neil and Pearl Jam, showcasing their kickass new drummer Jack Irons. A great, simple little rock tune.
TRIUMPH – “Lay It on the Line”
This is undeniably a Canadian classic of double-necked guitar majesty. I noticed that the version getting airplay today is the beefier remixed version, from Greatest Hits Remixed. (I was the only listener that noticed, I know because I wrote in to ask about it!)
RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale #332: Getting Older Everyday
I’ve been lucky enough to marry a simply awesome lady. Jen is a remarkable human being, but she also has one additional gift: the gift of looking perpetually young. She still sometimes gets carded, mistaken for a student, and so on.
Meanwhile here I am: Captain Grey Beard. I still look pretty young when I’m clean shaven. When I have a beard, forget about it! My beard started greying a year or two after marriage. I don’t think the two events are connected…but you never know.
Now, things are so bad that I have twice been mistaken for Jen’s father.
The first time it happened, we were at the Keg. It was Jen, her mom, and myself. The server handed Jen a hot plate without enough warning and she burned her hand slightly. While she and her mom went to the washroom to run some cold water on her hand, the manager came out to apologize. He said to me, “I’m so sorry about what happened to your daughter.”
My daughter! Oh man. That was a shitty meal, I’m sorry Keg, but you blew that one! None of us were in a good mood after that.
The second time it happened, Jen was meeting me at work. She walked in as our shipping supervisor was heading out the door. He’s a nice guy, about my age. The following day, he asked me, “So who was the young lady that you were meeting here yesterday? Was that your daughter?”
I didn’t stab him in the eye with a pencil.
And then, this past summer, something similar (and weird) happened.
Jen and I were out for a nice evening stroll. There were some kids playing near the park by our place. They were younger kids, none of them would have been older than about 10. As we walked past, I heard one kid yell the following:
“LOOK! That lady and that old man peed their pants!”
I looked around. There was nobody else on the street! They were referring to us, and I assure you that we had NOT peed our pants! I don’t know where that came from, but it was probably the first time I’d been referred to as “old man”!
“The internet’s cool for some stuff, but like many things, there’s no book store, there’s no music store, and there’s no Sound City.” — Josh Homme
SOUND CITY (2013 Roswell Films)
Directed by Dave Grohl
Uncle Meat persuaded me to see this movie, and I’m glad that he did. He said it wasn’t optional; that it was a must and that I would love it. So I bought it on Blu-ray, invited him over to co-review it with me, and we viewed it one afternoon after work in 5.1 surround. Needless to say, Sound City was good. So good that we never felt we could do it justice in a review, so I sat on my notes for over a year! Having recently re-watched Sound City (directed by Dave Grohl) with Mrs. LeBrain, now I can finally finish what Meat and I started last year.
Van Nuys, California. Sound City Studios, the legendary place where everybody who is anybody recorded. Nirvana? Check. Fleetwood Mac? Rick Springfield? Tom Petty? Check. Slipknot? Also check. Neil Young recorded much of After the Gold Rush there, after being enamored of the vocal sound that he got on “Birds”. Keith Olsen learned his craft there. It’s not much to look at on the outside: according to producer Butch Vig, it’s “kinda dumpy”. On the inside, there’s booze and cigarettes everywhere. Big room, huge floor. Lots of black magnetic tape.
Grohl narrates, personal anecdotes flow, then he steps out of the movie’s way. Grohl has a nice visual style, a combination of close ups and wide shots with plenty of details to look at. He infuses the movie with plenty of humour, sometimes at his own expense. The film has two phases: the first is a history lesson regarding the studio and the artists who created the hits there. The second consists of Dave purchasing the studio’s Neve board, moving it north to his own studio, and recording a brand new album with the same legendary artists. Pretty cool concept.
The huge Neve console was built like a “brick shithouse” (Keith Olsen), or a “tank” (Neil Young). Its original purchase price: bought for $75,175 in 1969 dollars. A nice house at the time cost around $30,000! The Neve was one of only four. Combined with the room itself at Sound City, the drum sound you can capture is incredible. The studio’s acoustics were not designed; it was a complete fluke. It was originally a box factory that happens to sound magical.
As for that Neve console, it is of course entirely analog. The one at Sound City was unique, considered the best sounding one. Rupert Neve tried to explain the electronics of it to Grohl in one of the movie’s more humourous scenes. The very first song recorded on that board was “Crying in the Night”, by Buckingham Nicks. This led directly to Mick Fleetwood hearing them while at the studio, and hiring not only the studio, but also Buckingham and Nicks! Essentially, the modern Fleetwood Mac formed right there at Sound City. The studio’s success really began with Rumours. Then, everyone wanted to record there. As for Tom Petty? It appears that Tom Petty pretty much spent his entire career at Sound City. In fact one of the coolest scenes was an old behind the scenes video from the 1990’s. Seeing Rick Rubin produce Tom Petty and being brutally honest was very interesting.
Rick Rubin to Tom Petty: “Sounds like you’re aiming a little lower today than you should be.”
Along came the compact disc, and the infancy of digital recording. Digital was the latest trend, and you could do new things with a computer that were harder to do on tape. Sound City suffered during this time, as newer rival studios were on trend. Sound City was dead…but one album helped resuscitate it: Nevermind. Then came Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Slayer, Kyuss. Analog tape and vintage equipment became popular again. Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash recorded Unchained there with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Nine Inch Nails combined the old with the new, by bring in their own computers to record on ProTools along with the Neve.
Unfortunately ProTools was heavy competition, and working with tape was so difficult by comparison, that Sound City finally shut its doors. They just couldn’t pay the bills anymore, even after selling off their excess equipment. Then Dave bought the board. It is amazing to watch it taken apart, boxed up, reassembled and functioning in Seattle. Regarding the sale of the board, Grohl says, “I think they knew that I wasn’t just going to bubble wrap it, and stick it in a warehouse. I was gonna fuckin’ use it. A lot.”
On November 2, 2011, reassembly of the board began at Dave’s Studio 606. Then he invited all the original artists back to record a new album on it, produced by Butch Vig. Regarding Stevie Nicks, in a memorable moment Vig says, “Fuckin’ A, that girl can sing!” More artists arrive. The Foo Fighters plus Rick Springfield create a monstrous sound together, a neat amalgam of their respective genres. Lee Ving (Fear) is hilarious, and performs the fastest count-in of all time. I discovered a new respect for Trent Reznor, a guy who uses the technology to create original sounds, but desires the warmth of tape. It’s incredible to see him collaborate with Homme and Grohl. It’s the sound of humans communicating with instruments. And they wrote a pretty frickin’ cool song together. Then, watching Paul McCartney writing “Cut Me Some Slack” with the surviving members of Nirvana is a moment that I’m glad was frozen in time.
Grohl: “What can’t it always be this easy?”
McCartney: “It is.”
The blu-ray bonus features include three additional performances: “From Can to Can’t”, “Your Wife is Calling”, “The Slowing Down”. It was these bonus features that inspired Meat and I to add “Your Wife is Calling” (with Lee Ving) to our 2014 Sausagefest lists. Our votes allowed the song to clock in at #64. (The track was my #1.)
Sound City is a complete triumph of a music documentary. It is the kind of music documentary designed for serious fans, not just passers-by. I would welcome another movie directed by Dave Grohl with open arms.
Music, movies, and books! I’ve been very occupied these last couple days.
I get the Guiness’ Book of World Records, and the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not books every year. I imagine my surprise when I discovered a friend of ours in both books! Apparently, Sweet Pepper Klopek holds the world record for “Most Baking Sheets Buckled Over the Head for One Minute.” This is a guy who has been on my living room couch! Lemon Kurri says:
“He’s in there a couple times. Most mouse traps sprung on a tongue in 1 min too.”
The “A” is for Aaron! Thanks man! This parcel wasn’t a total surprise but the contents inside sure were! I’m really excited about many of these items. (The Olivia Munn film looks great…) I’m so overwhelmed I don’t even know where to begin.
Lemon Kurri Klopek – Living the Dream! (On the road with Steve Earle)
I immediately liked Lemon Kurri upon meeting him. I was introduced to LK (who also goes by the excellent real name of Mike) as our newest franchise owner and fellow Kiss fan. I spent a lot of hours training him, and he was one of the best people I met through the record store. He was easy to work with, and genuinely appreciated my help. One thing I will always remember, is that Lemon Kurri and his business partner Greg sent me notes of thanks for my help, and even cool records or CDs that I wanted. It was Lemon Kurri who gave to me a treasured copy of Bruce Dickinson’s 12″ single for “All the Young Dudes”. He also gave me Thin Lizzy’s “Gary Moore album”, Black Rose: A Rock Legend for my birthday one year.
When I eventually left the company, Lemon Kurri was supportive of my decision. We stayed in touch and remained friends. Two years later, LK himself moved on to new horizons. I’m pleased to report that he is now living the dream, working for one of my own idols, Mr. Steve Earle himself. Lemon Kurri is Steve’s “Merch Guy” and “unofficial drum tech” today. He travels the world, and gets to hear one of the true greats playing at night. Hard work but somebody has to do it.
Lemon Kurri has given me permission to share with you a selection of snaps of his life on the road with Steve Earle. Enjoy. Each picture tells a story! Click a pic to enlarge and read the description. Thanks letting me use these photos, Mike!
Lemon Kurri – drum tech!
Mike worked for Aimee Mann in 2009
John Sebastian and Steve Earle
Steve gave him his own custom picks
Steve at the Vic in Chicago
Boulder Theater, Colorado
Neil Young’s tour bus, parked outside Jack White’s studio
Allman Brothers, Big House, Macon, GA. Steve Earle on the right.
There were some pretty awesome picks this year. I have to give Scottie props for “Coming Home” by Iron Maiden, from the excellent Final Frontier album. I found some things a bit surprising, such as the overplayed-on-radio “Black Betty” by Ram Jam, placing so high.
“Thick As A Brick” was the live version, so just over 10 minutes. Other long bombers included all of “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis, which resulted in a tirade by Phil for just as long, about how much he thinks it sucks! (And he’s an old-school Marillion fan…surprising.) And of course there were several Maiden tunes that clock in well over 5 minutes.
For your edification, here is the official Sausagefest XII Countdown: 75 tracks, plus 35 tributes. One tribute for each person that submitted a list! 110 songs over one weekend! Awesome.
In 2008, the year we got married, Jen was diagnosed with epilepsy. Some people with epilepsy never have a seizure, once diagnosed and medicated. Unfortunately for us, Jen is not one of those people.
It’s been a long hard struggle, but we have made it through so far with humour and a positive attitude. One part of having a positive attitude came from my research on the illness. While researching epilepsy online, I discovered that numerous rock stars have it, but still function! Knowing this was a huge boost to our attitudes, because being on stage involves lots of lights, and lights can be a trigger for many people with epilepsy.
I constructed a 4 O’Clock 4-Play for Craig at 107.5 Dave FM, involving this theme. My goal was simply to raise awareness. I told Craig, “If just one person hears this and learns something about epilepsy then my work is done, because so many people have no idea what it is.” Judging by the feedback I got, it did succeed in getting people thinking!
1. Prince. The royal single-monikered one was born epileptic and suffered a lot of taunting at school. He’s obviously come a long way since! I submitted “Let’s Go Crazy” in my 4-play but Craig subbed in a collaboration with Stevie Nicks which was fine by me!
2. LindsayBuckingham. He was born with a mild form of the disease, but still manages to tour with Fleetwood Mac. Good on him! I chose “Go Your Own Way”.
3. AdamHorovitz. This Beastie Boy is sensitive to flashing lights, which I am sure they use in their stage show. It certainly didn’t seem to hold him back from massive success. For this 4-play I chose “Sabotage”.
4. NeilYoung. He was medicated for epilepsy as a child, but didn’t like the side effects of the meds, which can go all over the spectrum depending on you and your meds. Neil chose to make lifestyle changes instead, and has lived without medication since! And, obviously, rocked the world. Good on you Neil. I used “Rockin’ in the Free World”.
Epilepsy scares a lot of people when they see a seizure happen. Don’t be scared, but if you want to learn more, check out some of these links.