Paul MacLeod

REVIEW: Paul MacLeod – Close and Play (2006)

PAUL MacLEOD – Close and Play (2006 Busted Flat)

This CD was given to me by Uncle Meat for the purpose of reviewing.  Unfortunately I was too slow and Paul didn’t live to read it.  For that I’m sorry.

With Hawksley Workman in the production chair, one expects great sonics and perhaps just a touch of “weird”.  The opening track “Ghosts” has a familiar piano-based “bop” that is reminiscent of Workman.  This delightful little track is upbeat with just a slight sense of melancholy.  Moving on to “Cruelty”, the song has a strange aura that sounds as if you’re playing it on vinyl.  This electric song really showcases how versatile MacLeod’s voice was.  “Cruelty” does not easily escape from the memory.

Sadness and loneliness are two prevailing feelings on “Schopenhauer’s”, a beautiful acoustic tune.  “Gloat” adds a base of electric guitar for a rock solid foundation.  On top of this, Paul sings his soul out.  “All I could ever do was, was be but a crutch to you.”  The mood flows into the next tune “Pools of Blue” which speaks of regret.  This changes to anger on “Broken Wing”.  “She’s feeding the bullshit, a mouthful at a time.”  A tense little guitar lick goes on until the brilliant chorus releases it.  “Broken Wing” is an easy contender for best track on the album.

After the emotional peak of “Broken Wing”, it’s nice to go back to mellow on “Listen Mary”.  Its love acoustic guitar solo is a definite highlight.  “Giants”, another upbeat catchy number, would also be a peak point.

Closing the CD is “Stanley Steamer”, initially a shock as it begins with uncharacteristic electronic sound effects.  This soon turns into a humourous look back to an era long gone.  Paul’s song sounds as if it could have been born in that past decade.  One thing Paul had a talent for was tapping into the musical feelings of the past, like a human time machine.

Check out this fantastic CD by Paul MacLeod the Musical Tardis.

4/5 stars

 

#510: Kayys?

GETTING MORE TALE #510: Kayys?

We only get to do it once a year, so you gotta make it count!

Readers here have been treated to many tales from Sausagefest every year, the annual music countdown that occurs every July at a top secret outdoor location.  The parties are epic and the music is never disappointing.  You’ve read all about the countdown and activities many times here and even been treated to a few videos.  Sausagefest is such a blast every year that even the trip up is worth hearing about.

My two passengers this year were Uncle Meat, and Chris the Lamb Lad.  We had to pack a lot of stuff into my little Pontiac G5 including three coolers.  The Lamb Lad had packed his cooler full of freshly made pulled pork for everyone.  Perhaps even more important than the succulent and delicious pulled pork was the music selection.  Uncle Meat commandeers the stereo, but I brought four flash drives loaded to the brim with tunes.  I had spent several hours curating the music on these flash drives, much longer than we would actually spend listening to them.

Instead, we spent most of the time listening to the CDs that Uncle Meat brought.  As many music fans in Ontario now know, recording artist Paul MacLeod passed away a couple months ago.  Paul and Uncle Meat were very close friends, and Paul had set aside a couple CDs of his for me to review.  Meat gave them to me, and we listened to Paul in the car, with Meat remembering the good times.  I now own his albums Close and Play, and Tell the Band to Go Home.  Both are incredible, but we’ll save that for the eventual reviews.

Also given to me were two studio CDs by recording artist and Sausagefester Max the Axe:  self-titled, and Overload.  There was some pretty heavy metal on those two CDs.  Thanks to Uncle Meat, I now own three Max the Axe albums in total.  Needless to say, there was plenty of rocking in the car.


“Livin’ the Country” from Overload (2008)

Meat was on his best behaviour.  No backseat driving at all this year, which was an awesome change of pace.  He also didn’t piss in the middle of the road this time.  Up through Salem and into Arthur, we made our first stop at Tim Horton’s for some ice capps.  Usually I was the most prepared of us, but this year I neglected to eat a good lunch before we departed.  I was starving and ordered a steak wrap.  Unfortunately the place was really busy, as it always is, and I should have known it was going to take 20 minutes.  While I waited inside for my wrap, Meat and the Lamb Lad went outside for a smoke.

Moments later, Meat came back into the store.

“Kayys?” he said to me.

“Kiss?” I responded.  I had a flash drive with every single Kiss album.  Gotcha covered.

“Kayys?” he repeated, hand outstretched.  People looking at him now.  Lots of people waiting in line.

“I don’t know what you’re asking me,” I said uselessly.

“Kayss?” again.

I stood there like a doorknob; lots of people there looking at us trying to see what this weirdo was doing.  “Kayss?” he kept repeating.  It was clear I had no idea what he was asking, so he finally broke character.

“Keys?  Can I get your car keys?  I left my smokes in the car.”

“Why didn’t you just say that, you friggin’ goof?” I said as I dug for my keys.

“I did!” he retorted.  “Kayss?”

OK, I heard it now.  In the meantime, me and everybody else in Tim Horton’s in Arthur assumed he wanted a kiss.

We made our way up the windy country roads, listening to more Paul, more Max, but no Kiss.  Next stop was Flesherton.  There used to be a killer chip wagon there, but it has been gone for the last two years.  Instead, Lamb Lad went into a sandwich place and ordered what looked to be some pretty amazing food.  Outside, an elderly couple in the late 70’s or early 80’s seemed to be having an argument.

We waited for Lamb Lad to order, and then stepped outside again so the guys could smoke.  As we walked out, a cop car pulled up and blocked in the elderly couple!  It seems somebody had taken notice of their discussion and called the cops.  The couple looked like they had figured out whatever it was just as the cops arrived.  It was weird to see this happening in Flesherton Ontario with a couple who looked older than Moses.  We shook our heads and marvelled at how weird the day was getting before we even arrived at Sausagefest.

But the farm wasn’t far, and before we knew it, our destination was at hand.  Familiar faces were greeted, and help was offered in setting up tents.  It’s a magical place.  There are friends here that we only see once a year, but have bonded with like brothers.  It’s a remarkable experience to have.  And the music ain’t bad either.


“Giants” from Close and Play (2006)

 

 

 

#497: Sausagefest 2016 Official Report

Welcome to another week of Getting More Getting More Tale!  Join us each day this week for a new instalment of the Getting More Tale series, including the all-important, top-secret #500.

 

 

IMG_20160709_154153

GETTING MORE TALE: #497: Sausagefest 2016 Official Report

I have returned, bitten by many insects of all kinds, from Sausagefest.

Every year, Countdown has its own personality, or personalities.  This year, the fifteenth annual, the 81 songs were drawn in almost equal amounts from the fountains of heavy metal and soul/funk.  There was Metallica, and there was Five Alarm Funk.  There was Iron Maiden, and there was Charles Bradley.  It was a stunning mix, also including long bombers by Yes and ELP.   Because of this year’s countdown, I will soon be purchasing Close to the Edge by Yes, and a number of Clutch CDs.

The countdown began, appropriately, with a song by Hibakusha and a previously unheard Paul MacLeod comedic bit.  MacLeod had a comeback show scheduled for the same weekend as Sausagefest.  It is sad that it could not come to pass.

I was given 10 songs to do “LeBrain” intros for.  They were as follows:

78. “Hanger 18” – Megadeth (for this I did a 7-minute comedic steam-of-consciousness bit as my own intro)
67. “Go Down Gambling” – Blood Sweat and Tears
60. “Snakes for the Divine” – High on Fire
55. “Rock and Roll Suicide” – David Bowie
49. “Why is it So Hard” – Charles Bradley
42. “Old Joe’s Place” – The Folksmen
36. “Burn In Hell” – Twisted Sister
29. “Fade to Black” – Metallica
18. “The Sounds of Silence” – Disturbed
11. “Empire of the Clouds” – Iron Maiden

Now, I do not care for Disturbed, and I did not want to introduce that song. I wanted another tune because I had an intro planned already for it (“Hollywood”, by Thin Lizzy). Tom and Uncle Meat refused to give me Thin Lizzy. They did not want to hear Disturbed so they left it to me. I told Meat, “Fine, but I am going to record my intro in the bathroom while taking my morning shit.” And that’s exactly what I did. The intro was received…with grace, all thing considered, by the people who voted for Disturbed. I have no issue with David Draiman, he is an incredibly gifted and obviously trained singer. It’s just not my cup of tea. It’s not a song I wanted to hear done that way. So I did my intro the only way I knew how: with exaggerated disgust. Love it or hate it, nobody ignored it!

The weather was a challenge, but not unbeatable.  Friday afternoon and early evening, we were pelted with rain, hail and lightning.  Due to the weather forecasts, it was decided late last week that there would be no live jams this year.  The more capable among us assembled tarps and gazebos to protect the precious Wall of Sound, and us.  Standing in the refreshing rain on such a hot day, I felt like Andy Dufresne after having climbed through the mile-long shitpipe.  There were many personal highlights for me this year, but I will say this. I am glad that I slept in Saturday morning, and did not go into Flesherton to get breakfast at the Flying Spatula. A highlight of previous trips, the Spatula is now under new, surly ownership. Our guys were treated to disinterested and slow service. One group of eight guys was asked to share one booth. Disappointing. We’re disappointed in you, Flying Spatula.

The most important part of Sausagefest besides the countdown is the camaraderie. Every year it gets better, too. Many of these guys only see each other once a year. Some of us show up fatter, balder, or both. Some of us even showed up with a broken ankle. That’s dedication. It’s that important to us.

Or, as Uncle Meat sang during his interpretation of Pink Floyd’s “Hey You”:

“Hey Scott,
Where the fuck are you?
Did you have better things to do
Than rock and roll, man?”

Can’t wait to do it all again.

A Tribute to Paul MacLeod (1970-2016) by Uncle Meat

PAUL

I first met Mac in the early 90s when I was dragged to the Walper by a mutual friend of ours Jeff Marsland (aka Chewie). Not long within the set he played Tori Amos – “Pretty Good Year” and Motorhead – “Ace of Spades” and I was hooked. Then being blown away by Six Months … as well as the re-named Hibakusha. Actually my most memorable Paul moment on stage was when Hibakusha broke into Supertramp’s “School” at the Starlight. One of the greatest covers I have ever seen.

Years after that I was fortunate enough to join the infamous MacLeod poker nights, and this was where we started becoming close friends. Also through him I was fortunate to meet and get to know his great and talented friends. We just seemed to enjoy pretty much exactly the same things… music…sports…darts…and I would say most of all…comedy. Considering how long before this I had admired him as a musician, it was surprisingly quick and easy for me to put that away and just look at him as my friend. A few times Paul brought up the first poker game I went to .. and said this statement that always made me laugh: “I had to be friends with you. You had the balls to tell me to my face, in front of my friends, that Scott Deneau was the the best guy you’ve ever seen with just a guitar and a voice.”  I can still picture the look on his face when he would say it and it still makes me laugh.

One Canada Day at the Boathouse (the year would have been 2011 ish? maybe?) Paul played two full sets of all Canadian tunes. Some of the songs he pulled out of the air that night were classic. They weren’t perfect. Some of the lyrics were wrong. But with every song the crowd just wanted to see what was coming next. His interactions with Kevin Doyle that night were so much fun. This was followed by an after hours set of Who tunes with Paul only singing and Chris Latta on guitar. Totally kicked my ass. Hard to forget moments like these.

A few amazing years of playing darts with the man. Getting my ass thoroughly kicked most of the time. Loved going to war with him for a few years on the same team. His personality shone through every dart venue we played at. What can I say? The man knew how to own a room.

I was lucky enough many times to get the gift of him just picking up his guitar and singing. Sometimes singing along but mostly just soaking it in. And then we would go back to comedy. And lots of it. Every time I would go over to his sister’s place he would be so “on” with the comedy. Relentless. The man loved making people laugh. So, included here is one of his favourite bits from his all-time favourite comedian Norm MacDonald. This is what made the funniest guy I know laugh.

Long live old Harold Delaney.

RIP Paul MacLeod (1970-2016)

PAUL

2016 has taken another precious musical genius, and this time it hurts even more, because Paul MacLeod was one of our own.

MacLeod was the local prodigy that joined Skydiggers and launched an impressive series of solo albums.  I’d heard lots of Paul’s music over the years but it was only a short while ago that Uncle Meat told me, “You have to get the CD by this band called Hibakusha.  They are the local Rush.”  So I did and he was right.  5/5 stars.  That was the first CD of Paul’s that I bought.

Paul was very close to a number of friends of mine, Uncle Meat in particular.  His heart is now broken, his dear friend gone.  Below is my favourite Paul MacLeod video. Recorded live in the downtown streets of Kitchener, “Down on the Street” is simply amazing.  There are many people here that miss Paul.  Rest in peace.

#471: Canadian Rawk

STRAT

GETTING MORE TALE #471: Canadian Rawk

What do you think of when you read the words “Canadian rock”?  Perhaps you imagine the vocal shrieks and drum thrills of Rush?  If you have a negative impression of Canadian music, no doubt your mind drifts to the sultry sounds of Nickelback.  Landmark artists from the golden age that you know would include Neil Young, the Guess Who, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Joni Mitchell, Steppenwolf and countless more.

Canada has always had an inferiority complex when it comes to our southern neighbours, the Americans.  In the music world, this is manifested in “CanCon”.  Simply put, Canadian radio broadcasters must play at least 40% Canadian content.  Starting in 1968, fears that American artists would flood our airwaves resulted in the first CanCon rules.  If you have ever bought a Canadian CD, perhaps you have seen the letters MAPL on the back.  MAPL is an acronym that determines if content does indeed qualify as Canadian.

MAPL

M:  Music.  Did a Canadian write the tune?
A:  Artist.  Is the primary artist a citizen of the Great White North?
P:  Performance.  Was the recording made in Canadian, in a Canadian studio?  Or for live albums, was the concert on Canadian soil?
L:  Lyrics.  Separate from the music qualifier, this determines if the lyrics were written by a Canadian.

Controversy erupted in 1991.  Bryan Adams had the biggest record of his career, Waking Up the Neighbors, which was co-written by Robert John “Mutt” Lang and recorded overseas.  Under the MAPL rules (since tweaked to avoid this situation), Adams did not qualify as CanCon.  His manager Bruce Allen was quite vocal against these rules.  Allen was never one to mince words, but he sparked a discussion on CanCon rules and how they ultimately hurt Canadian artists.  Flooding the airwaves with Canadian songs that weren’t that good was one issue commonly discussed. Another was that some international artists qualified for CanCon by recording in Canada with some of our most in-demand hit-makers such as Jim Vallance or Bruce Fairbairn.   Finally, these rules implied a lack of confidence in the strength of our own music.

Some feel that there is a stigma in being Canadian.   Though controversial, some feel there is such thing as a “Canadian sound”.  While this is obviously not universal, I do think there is something to it.  There is a commonality in Canadian bands that defies description.  To my ears, the Tragically Hip sound Canadian.  BTO and the Guess Who sound Canadian.  So does Bryan Adams.  I can’t explain it nor do I want to open that can of worms.  I think the roots of Canadian rock, going back to Neil Young and the Guess Who, are basic folksy traditional origins.  I think this has somehow been passed on in our DNA.  This is not always considered a good thing.  The alternative rock band I Mother Earth put out their debut album Dig in 1993, utilizing Mike Clink as producer and hoping to break open in the American market.  They were hyped as “the next Jane’s Addition”, but they did not want to be openly identified as Canadian in promo materials.  They felt that there was indeed a Canadian stigma and they would have more success if their citizenship wasn’t brought up.  M.E.A.T Magazine covered this story but were firmly in the pro-Canadian camp.

Here at mikeladano.com, we don’t have to follow CanCon rules, but Canadian content has dominated regardless.  I believe that our music is strong enough to stand proudly on its own.  We have so much talent in this country.  So many incredible songs have emerged from the frozen tundra.  Countless incredible, under-appreciated, creative artists:  VoiVod, Paul MacLeod, Sloan, Death From Above 1979, Blue Rodeo, Strapping Young Lad, the Trews, Sarah Harmer, Big Sugar…the list truly is endless because great new performers emerge every day.  When I worked at the old Record Store, we were fiercely proud Canadians.  We put a little Canadian flag sticker on the header cards of every Canadian artist.  A lot of customers would say, “I didn’t know that singer was Canadian!”

This week, join me each day for a close look  at some good Canadian Rawk albums that you may have missed over the years.  Trust me, you do not want to miss these reviews or you may miss a future favourite record.  Grab a Timmies or a wobbly pop and get ready to rock!

 

REVIEW: Paul MacLeod – Gauge (2011)

The fifth and latest review from Mike and Aaron Go to Toronto…Again!  Aaron gave me this CD…thank you dude!

This is also a SIMULTANEOUS REVIEW!  Aaron has reviewed the same album today: take a look!

GAUGE_0002PAUL MacLEOD – Gauge (2011 Busted Flat Records)

I’ve wanted to check out some solo Paul MacLeod for a while now.  I’m a huge fan of the one and only album he released with Hibakusha, the best album Rush never made.  Gauge is not like Hibakusha.  Gauge is an acoustic record, a format that does not always appeal to me.  In this case, the attraction was immediate.  These songs are incredible.

The proceedings commence with the old-tymey fun of “Be My Girl”.  Even though it’s a MacLeod original, it sounds like it could have been written in the 1930’s.  I love that about it.  If you put scratchy record sounds over it, you might not be able to tell it’s actually from 2011. “Change Your Life” on the other hand sounds more contemporary.   It has a hymn-like quality to it.  It’s very serene.

GAUGE_0003“December” sounds almost as if it was recorded live.  I’ll point out MacLeod’s excellent picking skills here.  He lets his fingers speak.  Then, the song “Hero” sounds like something that would be excellent in an electric band format.  It boasts big verses and a catchy acoustic riff.  “The Trickster” is whimsical and lullaby-like.  MacLeod lends it a theatrical flair with his expressive voice, which seems to change from song to song.  The funny thing about that is, just as I’m really getting into all the different voices he can use, the very next track is called “Instrumental”, and that’s exactly what it is.  It’s also just lovely.  “Stop” is delicate, much like the preceding instrumental.

“Another White Band” is different yet again, upbeat this time, with an incredible chorus.  Again, I can’t help but think the song would benefit from an electric version.  Then, the final track is “It Belongs to You”, a sad sounding ballad.  But check out that guitar melody and chords.  They are transcendent, to me.  There’s something pure and classic about them.

Boy, am I glad Aaron gave me this CD.  Thanks buddy.  This is one that, I suspect, is going to grow near and dear to my heart.

4.5/5 stars

GAUGE_0001

VIDEO: Sausagefest XIII – Part II

Thanks again Windows Movie Maker for not messing up this video. This is the last video I’ll be using Movie Maker to create. Thanks Seb for the new software.

Part II features the first ever live performance of “The Maiden Song” written by Seb, Dave and Meat.  Yours truly on second vocals.

Part I is below:

 

ZACH2

REVIEW: Hibakusha – Hibakusha (2004)

“Like” the LeBrain Facebook page!

HIBAKUSHA FRONT

HIBAKUSHA – Hibakusha (2004)

Way back in 2004 we were selling this album in our stores on consignment.  One of my co-workers said, “You have to buy this.  These guys are incredible.  They’re like a local Rush.”  Intrigued, I played the album and put it aside for myself to buy later.

For reasons unknown (probably too much music to buy and not enough money to buy it with) I didn’t buy the first and only release by Hibakusha.  It is only now, in 2013 that I have finally acquired this album.  Uncle Meat had come over to do our recent video, and he reminded me how great this album is.

This truly is a great, world-class album.  You can hear the Rush influences in the lead vocals, the complex rhythms and drum patterns, and the impeccable musicianship.  You can tell Hibakusha had listened to their fair share of the Holy Trinity in their formative years, particularly the later groove-oriented Rush circa Counterparts.  This exists simultaneously with a modern edge; a drony cloud of simple melodic elements that grounds the whole thing.  It shines that a new car, one you can’t wait to drive over and over….

Uncle Meat pointed out that there aren’t any real guitar solos until the final track!  And it’s a explosive solo at that.  The role of the lead guitar here seems not to solo, but to shower down melodic hooks.  “The Moped Song” is a great example of this.  It is a mid-tempo melodic tune with a repeating guitar hook where the solo would go.

Elsewhere, “Is It Concern?” quiets things down, until the chorus explodes with impassioned vocals.  “Televangeline” is a massive, rhythmic machine barreling forward unstoppable.  The album is loaded with great songs, great playing, terrific vocals, and memorable melodic lines.  Drums crash, fleeting fingers ride the groove from fret to fret…there isn’t a dull moment on this album.

“Masquerade” might be the best summation of the Hibakusha sound in one song.  It begins deceptively gently, before turning into in a light bass-driven groove.  Then out of nowhere comes a colossal stuttering riff straight from the Burke Shelley of Budgie school of thought.  The wailing Geddy vocals seal the deal.

My only beef about Hibakusha is the dreadful cover art.  It just screamed “indy” and failed to stand out.  There is absolutely no way I would have picked this album up off the shelves just by seeing its cover.  The cover does nothing to indicate what’s inside.

Hibakusha were Paul MacLeod (formerly of Skydiggers) on vocals and guitar, Cory Barnes (guitar and vocals), Mark McIntyre (bass) and Gord Stevenson (drums).  Even though I was almost a decade late, I’m glad I finally picked up this disc.  It had been a long time since I last heard it, and I am treating it as a happy reunion.

Great album.  Don’t hesitate to look for it online, it is easy to find.

5/5 stars