Peter Fredette

VHS Archives #18: Kim Mitchell wins Best Toronto Male Vocalist (1990)

An unusual but amusing one for you!  (I recorded everything.  I have a tape here labelled the “Star Trek Awards”, I can’t wait to see what that is.)

This tape comes from the 1990 Toronto Music Awards.  Mike Levine and Gil Moore of Triumph are called to present Best Toronto Male Vocalist.  Triumph were without a singer at the time, imagine if Rik Emmett were nominated!  But he’s not.  Check out the seven (!) nominees and who Kim had to beat.  “Sebastian Back” was a formidable singer and Kim said as much.

Finally, Peter Fredette is hilarious.  Listen to him singing opera style as he approaches the podium.  Did you know he was Kim’s vocal coach as well as bassist?

 

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Aural Fixations (1992)

ontario-bands-weekWelcome back to Ontario Bands Week, presented by BoppinsBlog,  Keeps Me Alive, Stick It In Your Ear, 1001 Albums in 10 Years, and mikeladano.com.  

SARNIA.

scan_20170128KIM MITCHELL – Aural Fixations (1992 Alert)

Over the course of his solo career, Kim Mitchell kept on givin’ ‘er even though some albums are cloudy in the collective memory today.  Aural Fixations made less of a hullabaloo than Rockland, and many of its tracks are forgotten by the Canuck masses.  Public amnesia does happen to deserving songs sometimes, and there are a few on Aural Fixations that merit dusting off.

Kim really made a niche of good time summer party songs:  “Rock N’ Roll Duty”, “I Am A Wild Party”, “Lager and Ale”.  “World’s Such a Wonder” assumed that duty on Aural Fixations.  His picking is impeccable, but fans in the know noticed something was “off”.  The quirky poetry of Pye Dubois was gone; he and Kim had a falling out during Rockland.  Others such as Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness – review at Boppin’s Blog) and Andy Curran (Coney Hatch – review at Stick It In Your Ear) filled the lyrical void instead.  This meant that one of the qualities that made Kim special, Pye’s unique wording, was gone.  Also departed was bassist/singer Peter Fredette.  Peter still provided backing vocals for this album.  That said, most in the Great White North probably did not notice or care.

“Big Smoke” is a bluesy grind, good stuff for guitar enthusiasts.  A couple upbeat tracks got radio play, such as “Hullabaloo” and “Find the Will”.  Both sound like what we had come to expect from Kim Mitchell:  rock and roll guitars, big hooks, and choruses built for shoutin’ along to.  The most outstanding one of the bunch is “Hullabaloo”, a real Canadian good time summer song.

“There’s a lot weekend doin’ on this hullabaloo,
Honey’s on the beaches, Monday back in old ‘T.O.’,
Showin’ off her sunburn.”

The song is perfect from the ground up. Verses, bridges and choruses all line up for one quintessential Kim Mitchell classic. “Take a walk on that wild guitar, it’s such a wild guitar…”

Aural Fixation also shifted towards lighter sounds, perhaps a bit too far.  “Pure as Gold” is the best of the softies, a quiet, slow smouldering bluesy ballad.  “Some Folks” steers right into the pasture, a keyboardy country ballad that could have been left in the barn.  The twangy “America” isn’t as bad.  It carved out another hit video, following in the footsteps “Easy to Tame” (1986).  Other tracks just simmer without ever really cooking:  “There’s a Story”, “Flames”, “Dreamer”.  The musicianship is above reproach, but the songs don’t all meet expectations.  “Dog and a Bone” has the rock, but the chorus lacks impact.

One of the most interesting tracks is the final one, an instrumental called “Honey Forget Those Blues”. A total of six guitar players are credited on it, creating a massive guitar harmony part. It sounds like a guitar orchestra playing the blues and it’s brilliant. Its cheeky creativity hearkens back to the glory days of Max Webster. It is in fact Kim’s first instrumental song as a solo artist.

Aural Fixations has those sparks of brilliance that makes you wish it consistent throughout.  “Hullabaloo”, “World’s Such a Wonder”, “Find the Will” and “Honey Forget Those Blues” could all be on a hypothetical Kim Mitchell “box set”.  Is that enough to add this album to your collection?

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Rockland (1989)

KIM MITCHELL – Rockland (1989 Alert)

This album was huuuuge in 1989. In Canada, summer time is Mitchell time. Cottages, brewskies, BBQ and Mitchell. That’s what it was all about! Shakin’ Like a Human Being was also a huge success for Kim, but he expressed a desire to use less keyboards and programming. Kim recorded in the US this time, and for budget reasons, did not bring along lyricist Pye Dubois with him. Pye had been in the studio with Kim for every album prior, and this caused a rift between the two that took years to heal. This was the last time they collaborated until 1994’s Itch.

The pseudo-title track, “Rocklandwonderland” refers to the “concert bowl” at Canada’s Wonderland.  “Listen to the music, listen to the voices, listen to my guitar,” sings Kim, although the song is a little light on guitar. “Rocklandwonderland” was a big hit for Kim, and although it’s not a heavy rock, his guitar playing on it is stellar. Perhaps he shouldn’t have followed a slow rock tune with a ballad, although “Lost Lovers Found” is a hell of a ballad, with just a hint of twang. Some felt that Rockland was too soft compared to Kim’s progressive rock past, but a Kim ballad has more integrity than most. Kim’s backup singer extraordinaire, Peter Fredette, is present here and he also serves to class up any song by several notches.

Other ballads on the record include “Tangle of Love”, which is quirky and experimental but not great. “O Mercy Louise”, which has a rocking chorus, is a fine song with cool lyrics. The “big one” however was the single “Expedition Sailor”. This introspective acoustic song is sparse and effective. Kim’s buddy Rik Emmett from Triumph drops by to play an excellent solo on classical guitar. “Expedition Sailor” is top drawer stuff.  (The music video received a remix, which you can get on Kim’s Greatest Hits album.)

The “big” song on the album, still getting airplay today, is the anthem “Rock N’ Roll Duty”.  The tougher direction of the song is exemplified by a “live” style music video in a seedy bar.  As a fan I really wanted Kim to come out with a tough rocking tune, with a killer chorus, and he did.

“I’m just doing my rock n’ roll duty,
Creating a buzz buzz buzz,
Some say I’m in it for the money,
Man, I’m in it for love love love!”

The phrase “I’m just doing my rock n’ roll duty,” is now commonly heard among music fans in Canada. The song just hits the spot, and the riff is now synonymous for summer in my mind.

Other highlights on Rockland include the joyful “The Crossroads” which opens side two. The guitar-heavy “This Dream” is another favourite. I could always identify with the lyrics. It’s just a stellar song, an also-ran that could have been a fourth single. The record is rounded out by “Moodstreet” and “The Great Escape”, two decent but unremarkable tunes.

MVP:  Drummer Lou Molino, a near legend in these parts.  Curiously, when you Google images of Lou Molino, you will also get hits for Lou Ferigno.

Overall I was pleased with the direction of Rockland, going a bit more raw and rocking. Unfortunately with the exception of a few tracks like “Rock N’ Roll Duty”, it feels very tame. Except for quirky moments within guitar solos, it doesn’t possess enough of Kim’s humour and idiosyncrasies. It feels as if it’s on a leash, but it’s also not straining to get off it. It feels like Rockland hits the mark in many respects, but plays it too safe.

3/5 stars

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REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – “Alana Loves Me (New 2014 version)” single

NEW RELEASE

ALANAKIM MITCHELL – “Alana Loves Me (New 2014 version)” (iTunes-only single)

Kim’s last studio album, 2007’s Ain’t Life Amazing, failed to blow me away.  Since then he’s been very busy, changing to a career in radio at Toronto’s Q107.  While I miss the days of being able to look forward to new Kim music every other summer, he’s been very popular and successful at Q, so good for him!

A few weeks ago, Kim announced that he’d re-recorded his old hit “Alana Loves Me” from Shakin’ Like A Human Being, a 28 year old song.  The original is sounding pretty dated with all those 80’s synths and keyboards, so I approached this with an open mind.  Plunking down my hard-earned $1.29, I bought “Alana Loves Me 2014” on iTunes.

Even though I had not expected too much, I am crushed with disappointment!  All the charm of the original has been sucked dry with a boring acoustic arrangement.  This snooze-inducing rendition only comes to life towards the end, when it goes into a more interesting laid-back instrumental band arrangement.  The piano player (Ray Coburn?) is excellent and has a long solo.  Then, finally, Kim himself picks up an electric guitar and does what he does best.  He proves he’s still the most underrated guitarist that this country has to offer.  His solo is awesome, warm and melodic, but tricky too.

So: first half of the track sucks, and the second instrumental half isn’t bad.  How do I rate it?

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Kimosabe (1999) / “Sudbury Saturday Night” (1998)

Here’s a Kim Mitchell two-fer for ya!  Once again it’s Epic Review Time!

KIMOSABE_0006KIM MITCHELL – “Sudbury Saturday Night” (from Summer Dock Party, 1998 EMI)

‘Twas Thomas who alerted me to the existence of Kim Mitchell’s cover of “Sudbury Satuday Night”.  He had heard about it from one of his customers, when Tom owned his own record store.  Somebody came in and said to him, “I heard a new Kim Mitchell song on the radio.  I don’t know what it’s called or where it’s from, all I remember are the opening words.  ‘The girls are out to Bingo, and the boys are gettin’ stinko,'” he recited.

Tom immediately recognized that as the opening line to Stompin’ Tom Connors‘ classic song, “Sudbury Saturday Night”.  He called me at my store to ask what Kim album it was on.  I didn’t have a clue.  I didn’t know he had recorded anything since 1994’s Itch.

He had.  This cover appeared on the Canadian compilation CD Summer Dock Party.  And what of it?  How does one cover Stompin’ Tom?  Well, for Kim Mitchell, it’s a harder rockin’ version of KIMOSABE_0007the song, complete with accordion and an electric guitar solo.  I’ve grown to like it more over the years.  It’s hard to overlook the sheer joy in Kim’s vocal.  No matter how you feel about the sanctity of covering Stompin’ Tom, I think Kim’s version has plenty of merit.

Great cover…not-so-great CD cover though! What would Irish Jim O’Connel and Scotty Jack Macdonald say about that front cover? That sure doesn’t depict gettin’ stinko, or represent “Cause everything is wonderful, tonight we had a good fight,” to me!

3.5/5 stars

*I was surprised to find a completely different studio recording of this same song on Youtube.  Further investigation is required.


 

KIM MITCHELL – Kimosabe (1999 Chinook)

I think Kimosabe is about separation.  I read that Kim was going through a divorce around this time, and perhaps the lyrics reflect that.  Additionally, there was another separation, as once again Kim parted with his long time writing partner Pye Dubois.  The two had a falling out after 1989’s Rockland, due to Kim’s decision to record in Los Angeles, without Pye present, as he had been for all of Kim’s previous albums.  The two reconciled for 1994’s Itch, but appear to have separated once again, because Kimosabe was written with Andy Curran (Coney Hatch) handling the lyrics rather than Pye.  I don’t know what happened.

Nothing against Andy Curran, but without Pye Dubois, lyrics lose some of their poetry.  That’s Pye, that’s what he brings to the table.  Having said that, I think by now, most Kim Mitchell fans are looking for a catchy song to sing along to.  Curran does fine.  Kim himself wrote two of the lyrics himself (“Cold Reality” and “Over Me”, two of the best songs).

The opening duo, “Monkey Shine” and “Stickin’ My Heart” are both rockers.  “Monkey Shine” is très bien; they’re not trying to re-invent the wheel on any of these songs. They’re just doing what they do well, and that’s providing some good Canadian party rock. These are “stock” kind of songs. Reliable, not particularly possessing personality, but getting the job done. TCB, baby.

“Cellophane” is a funky blues. At this point I’ll point out the groove of drummer Randy Cooke, one of my Canadian favourites. You may have heard him with Rik Emmett or the Four Horsemen among others.  Kim’s very slick and lyrical guitar playing is in the spotlight of this outstanding track.

KIMOSABE_0004

Things start to cloudy with “Two Steps Home”.  Not that it’s a bad song, quite the contrary.  But this is where the party stops.  There’s a lot of feeling in this quiet ballad.  As far as sheer songwriting goes, Kim should be proud of this one.  Still, I feel the playing really shines brightly, guitar and drums both.

After a tune like that, I need a rocker, and Kim delivers with the title track, “Kimosabe”, a pun on the phrase “ke-mo sah-bee”, popularized in the 1930’s by The Lone Ranger.  Strangely enough the lyrics also contain the German phrase “auf Wiedersehen”, proving Andy Curran doesn’t mind putting three languages together in one song.

My favourite song is “Blow Me A Kiss”.  This outstanding track begins as a melancholy piano ballad, but transforms by the chorus into a bright, light rocker.  I would rank this track among Kim Mitchell’s best solo songs, without a doubt.  Randy Cooke really kicks this one in the ass.

“Cold Reality” also has a melancholy character to it.  This one starts a ballad and stays a ballad, and speaks of getting over the end of a relationship. “Halleluiah baby, I am healing. This pain and rage I felt for years is finally leaving.” This is one that Kim wrote the lyrics for himself, and as I said earlier, it’s not poetry, but when he sings it, I can feel something, you know?

KIMOSABE_0002

Back to something a little more upbeat, “Over Me” has a modern funky vibe to it, of the light-rock variety. Divorce seems to be the theme again, so we’re not hanging out in party rock land, but it’s musically upbeat and catchy. By the chorus, Kim’s singing, “One thing’s for sure, I’m going to get over you, just like you got over me,” and who can’t relate to that?

My least favourite song is the slinky blues, “Get Back What’s Gone”, featuring the great Canadian singer Lisa DalBello. In think this is a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.” There’s nothing wrong with this well-executed blues, it’s just not clicking with me. It may with you, especially if you want to hear DalBello just sing some blues.

Album close “Skinny Buddah” is one of those lyrics where I just shrug and say, “OK, guys, whatever!” I have no idea what it’s about, but it’s a good solid rock song on which to close an album that I would consider to be a bit of a comeback.

Except it wasn’t. Kimosabe didn’t sell, and it would be eight whole years before Kim would release another album (2007’s Ain’t Life Amazing). That’s too bad. Given the chance, I think that this album could have introduced a new, “more mature” Kim, still fun, but now with a more serious side.  The album could have delivered a couple of hits. Too bad that isn’t the way it turned out. Bummer.

4/5 stars

KIMOSABE_0003

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Kim Mitchell (1982 EP)

“Looking for the good life, in between all the clatter
Tonight I’m at the Bojar Grill, and they’re serving up only Tennessee water.”

KIM MITCHELL – Kim Mitchell (1982 Anthem)

This is an incredibly difficult review to write. How? How can words do justice to this magnificent 5-song EP of rock perfection? Am I supposed to somehow relay in English how this album makes me, and many other Max Webster fans feel? I don’t think it too crazy to suggest that the self-titled Kim Mitchell EP is the greatest EP our country has produced. As far as rock music goes in general, you will find very few Canadian releases as solidly untouchable as Kim Mitchell.  To say this is an intimidating review to attempt is an understatement.  There will be some reading this whose knowledge of Kim and Max vastly exceeds mine, and even though I have played this EP hundreds upon hundreds of times, I still need to actually play it again in order to convey to you how excellent it truly is.

KIM_0004Kim Mitchell burned out on Max Webster.   There were numerous lineup changes towards the end, and Kim walked out.   He was quick to bounce back with some new band members (Peter Fredette, Robert Sinclair Wilson, Paul DeLong) and some new songs.  Still with Kim through the breakup was Max Webster lyricist Pye Dubois, the only holdover from that band.  (Ex-Max bassist Mike Tilka was also an executive producer, as he was on the Max albums after he left.)  Kim settled into a recording studio in Oshawa Ontario (!) with the legendary Jack Richardson.

The guitar blasts of “Kids In Action” are sometimes included on Max Webster hits albums, but it was originally released as the opening track on Kim Mitchell.  “I guess we’re just gonna have to be the best bonfire in town,” sings Kim, and I think he succeeded.  “We want modern thrills, we want rock n’ roll that kills,” sing the backing band.  I think we got it.

IMG_20141002_180602“Kids In Action” is the perfect storm of Max’s harder side, with Kim’s newly found-melodic sensibilities.  That guitar is hard (though just as finger-lickin’-good) but the choruses have a new harmonic sheen.  Peter Fredette provided backing vocals to the record, and Kim fans know how awesome and integral he is to Kim’s solo sound.  Meanwhile DeLong can’t resist throwing in some Max-worthy drum fills that shake the cranium.  (I read somewhere that David Lee Roth’s band had worked on a cover of “Kids In Action” for Diamond Dave’s first solo album.)

What a killer opener.  Yet “Miss Demeanor” may be the best tune on the record.  This one has always sort of reminded me of “Beast of Burden” by the Stones, and I often sequenced them together on mix CDs.  It’s harder than “Beast of Burden”, but has irresistible “ooh ooh” backing vocals.   Everything about this song is perfect from the simple riff to the amazing rhythm section.  Kim unexpectedly throws on an acoustic solo, just as terrific as any electric solo would be.  The song is also supersaturated with nice little electric guitar licks.

IMG_20141002_180616If you title a song “Big Best Summer” then it had better sound like it.  Kim’s “Big Best Summer” is as gleeful as you want it to be, with most of the joy coming across in the guitar licks.  Once again the rhythm section has it laid down perfect, leaving Kim plenty of space to splash down tons of little guitar bits and pieces.   “Sometimes we thought we were the only ones under the sun.”  Yeah, I think I’ve had those summers too.

If “Miss Demeanor” wasn’t the best tune on the album, then “Tennessee Water” has to be.  This one blows the doors off, with a slippery southern guitar lick and relentless groove that keeps cooking and won’t stop.  This is also Pye’s first lyrical mention of the Bojar Grill, that I am aware of.  It’s good time rock n’ roll, performed by guys who really know they’re doing.  Incredible stuff.  I definitely gotta hit up this Bojar Grill.

The slow rock of “Chain of Events” was chosen to close the record.  There are a couple slight dissonant chords that keep the song on the experimental side.  It also has a strange rhythmic quality, and quirky Pye lyrics.  Kim’s guitar solo is bizarre and Zappa-esque.  This song would have satisfied any Max fans who worried that some of the other tunes were too straightforward.  And that’s the EP.

It’s worth noting that unlike Kim’s later albums, and also unlike Max Webster, this EP has no keyboards.  This allows the bass guitar to breath, and leaves Kim plenty of space for guitar fun.  As such, this is the toughest Kim solo release by far.  As good as Akimbo Alogo was, this is undeniably even better.

6/5 stars


KIM1

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Shakin’ Like A Human Being (1986)

KIM MITCHELL – Shakin’ Like A Human Being (1986 Alert)

Kim Mitchell really seemed to soften up on 1986’s Shakin’ Like A Human Being.  It’s Mitchell’s most successful album, featuring the massive hit single “Patio Lanterns”.  A lot of people are very fond of Shakin’ Like A Human Being, but I for one find it inferior to Akimbo Alogo in almost every way, especially production. Still, I haven’t played Shakin’ in a couple years, so let’s have a listen and try to be fair.

KIM_0004There’s certainly nothin’ wrong with the opener, “Get Lucky (Boys and Girls)”.  Kim wisely commenced the party with a rocker similar to Akimbo Alogo.  Synths are kept to a minimum, and a shout-along chorus that’s easy to remember is always a plus on a Kim Mitchell album.  Pye’s lyrics are as cool as ever.  “The more moral you get the more oral we get.”  I love that.  Kim tops the cake with a fun melodic guitar solo which is like the cherry on top — uber sweet.

Paul Delong is a fantastic drummer, and he gets a nice long (but clanky) intro on “In My Shoes”.   Unfortunately the song itself suffers from too much synth and programming.  It does have a nice little guitar lick to it and a great chorus, but the song is just too middle of the road.  “Alana Loves Me”, though a ballad, is better.  The chorus, featuring Peter Fredette, is stellar.  Too bad that synth is back.

“Patio Lanterns” sure does bring on the nostalgia.  The lyrics are so pure and perfect.  Even though it’s one of Kim’s softest moments, there is an integrity here in its earnest honesty.  Although Max Webster were a progressive rock band, as a solo artist Kim Mitchell definitely evolved into cottage rock.  This kind is song is the type that we hosers play on those warm July evenings on the cottage patio, outside speakers and beer at the ready.  It’s the kind of song everybody seems to like.

Side closer “That’s the Hold” is the hardest rock moment on the album.  It’s one of my favourite 80’s Kim rockers, and if didn’t have so much damn synth on it, it would be a classic.  The live version on I Am A Wild Party is much better.  Too bad.

The second side commences limply with “In Your Arms”.  This is just synthetic syrup.  This is the only song that isn’t written by the duo of Mitchell and Dubois: keyboardist Todd Booth co-wrote it, which might explain why I cannot discern any guitars until the song is half done.  But it gets worse:  I cannot stand “City Girl”.  There is no redeeming value to this steaming pile of synth and bad lyrics.

The fine country twang of the hit “Easy to Tame” is unfortunately tempered by…grrrr!…too much damn synth!  I should be able to hear Kim’s Fender clear and true, but it is buried beneath keys.  It’s still a great song, but all I really want is to hear what it would sound like without the keys. The music video, vocals and guitar solo are all great at least.  Incidentally, the music video is a completely different mix of the song.

“Cameo Spirit” is pretty cool, although it’s another slow keyboard song.  This is the kind of sentimental ballad that Kim became very adept at writing, post-Max.  His spare guitars are delightful, but I only wish for more of them.  The final track “Hitting the Ground” is equally good, but also equally drenched in keys.  The chorus is stellar, as are Pye’s lyrics.  Fortunately there are some guitars to sink your teeth in.  At least you end the album on an up note.

Sadly, Shakin’ Like A Human Being is the last Kim Mitchell album to feature his legendary O.P.P. (Ontario Provincial Police) baseball hat on the cover.  Shakin’ could have been a great album, equal or superior to Akimbo.  I place blame fully on the production.  Kim Mitchell self produced this album, so if anyone is to blame for all the synth and keyboards, it’s gotta be him.  Of note, Kim produced it at Le Studio, the same place Rush recorded Moving Pictures.  Too bad.  Oh what might have been.

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Kim Mitchell – Fill Your Head With Rock (CD/DVD set)

Happy long weekend, Canada! Here’s a bonafide Canadian content bonus review for ya! Party on.
FILL YOUR HEAD WITH ROCK_0001KIM MITCHELL – Fill Your Head With Rock – Greatest Hits (2005 Sweden Rock CD/DVD set)

If you’re gonna buy this, you’re gonna buy this for the DVD, not the CD.  There’s so little live Mitchell material out there, and it’s somewhat surprising that this great nugget of a live show (1989 Rockland tour) came out as part of a weird Swedish greatest hits set.  Included on the CD is a new song written for the Sweden Rock Festival called “Fill Your Head With Rock”.  It was later included on Mitchell’s studio album Ain’t Life Amazing, rendering this CD obsolete.  Since the CD is little more than an extra to me, I’ll start by reviewing the included live DVD.

What kind of solo artist opens his show with five minutes of drum solos before taking the stage himself?  I can only think of one:  Kim Mitchell.

This live DVD, recorded in 1989 at the Kee to Bala opens exactly that way.  Astoundingly, it’s a triple drum solo!  Three drum kits, from left to right, keyboardist Greg Wells, drummer Lou Milano, and bassist Peter Fredette! The stage is so crowded that Wells is hidden behind Mitchell’s amplifiers!  And the party-ready crowd loved it.  When Mitchell entered the stage at the start of “That’s the Hold”, they were already in the palm of his hand.  Mitchell sports his neon pink baseball hat, a duplicate of which I owned at the same time!  Mitchell’s guitar solo is extended and suitably gonzo.

A really bad edit goes into the single “Rocklandwonderland”, opened with yet another solo, this time on keyboards.  Keep in mind this is a radio-friendly commercial rock artist that appealed to old-school prog rock fans, but also every beer-slurping hoser in the 1980’s.  To their credit the audience seems to be digging every note.  But then again, this is no band of slouches.  “Rocklandwonderland” was a huge hit in Canada.  If the studio version is a little too light on guitar, Mitchell compensates live.

One of the more rocking new songs is next, “The Crossroads”, and no it’s not a blues.  While there’s no argument it’s a party atmosphere (beach balls passed around), it’s also an extravaganza of Mitchell’s always classy guitar.  Fredette is suitably solid yet goofy at the same time, and backing Kim up on vocals with range to spare.  In my opinion, Peter Fredette has always been the secret weapon of this band.

FILL YOUR HEAD WITH ROCK_0005“Crossroads” merges into the ballad “Lost Lovers Found”, not one of Mitchell’s best songs.  His vocal range on the chorus is still remarkable, and the duo of Wells and Fredette harmonize with just a hint of twang.  Once again the highlight is Kim’s soulful, brilliant guitar solo.  Yet all of this pales to the majesty of “Battle Scar”.  The three drum kits return for this Max Webster/Rush classic.  Fredette easily handles Geddy’s powerful vocal part.  “Battle Scar” remains one of Mitchell’s greatest compositions, heavy and relentless.

Another of Kim’s greatest, “All We All”, easily follows “Battle Scar”.  Once again, the solos are brilliant, as is Fredette’s lead vocal.  The Akimbo Alogo classic “That’s A Man” is a smooth showcase of Kim’s bluesier playing, on top of a cool ZZ Top style rock song.  Beers are hoisted into the air.  Fredette switches to guitar to accompany Mitchell on the lead solo, and several mustachioed audience members play air guitar.  One bearded man even attempts the air-drums.

“O Mercy Louise” isn’t exactly a standout, but the poodle-haired girls in the audience seem to like to bob and dance to it.  The whole room seems to sing along to the gleeful country of “Easy to Tame”.  Same story with the summer classic “Patio Lanterns”.  It’s nothing but the hits from here in, “Go For Soda” and “Rock N Roll Duty” inspiring plenty of sing-alongs.

As for the CD, I’m not sure if I follow the logic of its track selection.  While many of the biggest hits are included (“Rock N Roll Duty”, “I Am A Wild Party”, “Get Lucky”, “Go For Soda”), many are not.  Some of Kim’s best later material is included, such as “Kimosabe”, “World’s Such A Wonder” and “Find the Will”.  Even though the album concentrates on later Mitchell material, I’m baffled by the lack of inclusion of singles such as “America” and “Acrimony”.

There are, among the later songs, a lot of good tunes worth a revisit.  “Human Condition” is a grinding blues rocker, and “Wonder Where & Why” smokes from start to finish.  I think “Big Smoke” is one of the better tunes from the Aural Fixations album, an often overlooked record.

Of course we have to talk about the “new” song, “Fill Your Head With Rock”.  It’s very much in the mold of the later Kim Mitchell material included.  It’s hard, with a gritty guitar riff and slippery solos.  It won’t go down in history as a classic, but it’s a workmanlike Kim Mitchell rocker.  A year or two later, Helix wrote their own song called “Fill Your Head With Rock” for the Sweden Rock festival as well!

With Amazon.ca asking an absolutely ridiculous $124.75 right now, I would say snag this one if you find it used.

FILL YOUR HEAD

CD:  2.5/5 stars

DVD:  5/5 stars