psychedelic rock

GUEST REVIEW – Roky Erickson and the Aliens – The Evil One – The Meat Challenge

The Meat Challenge:  Listen to an album we’ve never heard before, and write about it while listening for the first time on headphones.  Meat was given Roky Erikson by LeBrain.

ROKY ERICKSON & THE ALIENS – The Evil One (1981)

How did we get to where we are now?  Let’s have a very quick nutshell synopsis of a pretty incredible story (a story which is captured in much more detail in a very good 2005 documentary titled You’re Gonna Miss Me.  Have you seen it? It’s a beauty.)

Roky Erickson was born in 1947 in Dallas, Texas.  He co-founded an influential psychedelic rock band called The 13th Floor Elevators, who had some chart success in the late 60s. In 1969, Roky Erickson got arrested for smoking a joint and to avoid jail, pled guilty and was sent to the nuthouse until his release in 1974.  Roky Erickson & the Aliens were born and released their debut album in 1980.

Now that we have that out of the way, I have not heard the debut album.  Nor have I heard any other Roky Erickson album going into this.  I was not sure what to expect and what I got was different and frankly more than I expected.  The Evil One was produced by ex-CCR bassist Stu Cook, and together he and Roky definitely came out with a great sounding record…that talks about Lucifer a lot…and the devil …and ghosts….  Basically, you could look at this album a collection of crazy stories.  More specifically, I now look at The Evil One as a collection of 15 short B-movies expressed through exceptional Pop-Rock songwriting.  Imagine if Hall and Oates got a bit of Rock balls and started worshipping Satan.  Here are some thoughts I had while listening to each song/movie on The Evil One.

  1. “Two Headed Dog (Red Temple Prayer)” –  The first track is the only song I had actually heard before on this album.  LeBrain picked this for a tribute back in the days when Sausagefest was doing them.  Hearing this again, I enjoy it like I did when I first heard it.  Great rock song with guitar licks that kinda surprised me.  Roky Erickson possesses a great voice with a naturally high register, which allows him to belt out the hearty Rock.
  1. “I Think of Demons” –  Another solid rock song bringing to mind everything from the Ramones to Thin Lizzy to “insert 70s melodic rock band here”.  A lot of poppy goodness here.  Perhaps the happiest song ever with “Demons” in the title?  You’d be right if you guessed there is more of this kinda thing to come.
  1. “Creature With The Atom Brain” –  Nicholas Cage would have been the star of this movie.  I really like the twin guitar parts in this track.  Bit of a hillbilly rock song.  Some conspiracy-minded strange banter in the middle which leads to even stranger banter at the end.
  1. “The Wind and More” –  This is probably my favorite track on the album.  I really got a Max Webster meets Wishbone Ash vibe from this song.  Erickson seems to have a great way of finding his way melodically through rock and roll riffs.  Of course Lucifer is mentioned again.   Speaking of…could this be what Pye Dubois would have sounded like if he made music? Hmmmm.
  1. “Don’t Shake Me Lucifer” –  Yes, this time the one of the Prince of Darkness’ given names makes the title.  Roky really channels his inner Mick Jagger in this track.  Very Rolling Stones-esque all around really.  A bit more of an aggressive punk thing going on here.  Perhaps Teenage Head would be a better comparison.   Not one of my favorite tracks on the album to be honest.
  1. “Bloody Hammer” –  This is another stand out track on the album.  Bit of a cock-out rock song that probably just cooks live.  Some epic ranting in this too.  For some reason I was thinking about Budgie during this song.  As for lyrically?  I am really not sure if I really wanna know what the actual bloody hammer was that inspired this song.
  1. “Stand For the Fire Demon” –  I don’t know what to make of this one.  While I admire the passion poured out in this track, there is a bit of a drag to it.  Another Nicholas Cager here.  You know…the crazed, bug-eyed Cage where he makes no sense but is really adamant about it?  I think this might be a prayer to Satan.
  1. “Click Your Fingers Applauding the Play” –  Fun Thin Lizzy twin-guitar licks in this.  Other than that nothing especially stands out about this track.
  1. “If You Have Ghosts” –  …You have everything.  This is a hell of a song.  The middle musical part in this song starting with the solo is a fun piece of music.  Very good slightly-off-road rock song.
  1. “I Walked With a Zombie” –  Imagine if you were watching an episode of Happy Days, and instead of a jukebox they had a really fucking high Tom Petty playing music for the acid-tripping kids at Arnold’s.  I think Ralph Malph lost his virginity to this song.   Just another sock-hop with the devil.
  1. “Night of the Vampire” –  This song is very Alice Cooper.  This would be the Rob Zombie directed movie set in the 70s.  By the way, I’ve given up trying to analyse these lyrics.
  1. “It’s a Cold Night for Alligators” –  An average silly mid tempo rock song.  Actually it’s better than that.  I’m getting a Max Webster vibe again, and some fun twin leads once more.
  1. “Mine Mine Mind” –  Starting off with a tribal Alex Harvey rock feel, this is pretty much everything I like about 70s pop-rock.  This is basically what Trooper and Streetheart were doing around this time, but in this case, instead of singing about cars and girls, Roky Erickson chooses to sing about the Devil.  To each his/her own I guess.
  1. “Sputnik” –  The second this song started, I was thinking about Ace Frehley.  Even the lyrics seem cosmos and NASA inspired.  This is the KISS song of the album.  I really like this track, and it could right now be one of those songs everyone is sick of hearing on FM radio.  Why isn’t it?  Well… the science fiction lyrics.  Oh…and Satan.
  1. “White Faces” –  The album ends with more driving rock and roll.  The first verse of this song is:

Friends with a beast,
Because of sharp teeth,
The devil so red,
The fiery evil blieb.
 

WHAT!?!?!?!?!??!

 Once again we have melodic and poppy mid tempo rock referring to Satan.  This man is just too happy about demons.

Overall I would call this a better than average rock record.  Perhaps with multiple listens some of the melodic hooks would sink into me deeper, but as of now better than average is pretty much what I feel about this record.  Anyone who loves 70s rock would really love this album.  The devil is in the details.  No…I’m serious…The devil is truly within the details of this album.  I think the title speaks for itself.  This is an album about The Evil One.

3.75/5 demons

 BY MEAT

REVIEW: Scorpions – Box of Scorpions (2004)

SCORPIONS – Box of Scorpions (2004 Universal)

Don’t worry – this Box of Scorpions cannot hurt you!  If fact if you allow yourself to be stung, you will find your reality injected with musical ecstasy.

This isn’t a box set to buy if you are looking for unreleased treasure.  It’s strictly a compilation, although you may be able to get a few tracks you didn’t have before.  Box of Scorpions covers every album from the debut Lonesome Crow, beyond 1999’s Eye II Eye, going as far as 2002’s Bad For Good: The Very Best of Scorpions.  That compilation CD included two new songs called “Bad For Good” and “Cause I Love You”.  They were recording specifically for Bad For Good, but it makes sense to get them on the beefier Box of Scorpions instead.

The first disc of this set is inaugurated by “I’m Going Mad”, the same technicolor workout that opened their first album.  The early psychedelic Scorpions songs are only represented by a couple, with “Fly to the Rainbow” being the second.  Stone cold classics form the bulk of the disc, with “Speedy’s Coming” being an obvious focal point.  “In Trance”, “Steamrock Fever”, “We’ll Burn the Sky”, and “Virgin Killer” are all essential cuts.  You can’t fit ‘em all in, of course, but the live album Tokyo Tapes fills in some of the most obvious blanks.  “Top of the Bill”, “Dark Lady” and “Robot Man” are great live inclusions.  The disc ends with the first steps into the modern Scorpions sound with a pair from 1979’s Lovedrive.

Disc two showcases the 80s and all the big Scorpions hits.  The band streamlined their sound.  Some may say “dumbed down”.  The Scorpions of the 80s were massive, but certainly were not challenging your grey matter with complex music like the 70s band were prone to.  They also lost the regality of the Uli Roth era, something his guitar brought to the band.  It was replaced by solid 4/4 hard rock, with plenty of hits.  There is only one live song (from World Wide Live) here, “Another Piece of Meat”.  The rest are all studio originals:  “Big City Nights”, “Still Loving You”, “Rhythm of Love”, “The Zoo”, “No One Like You”, and of course that unstoppable “Hurricane”!  Deeper cuts like “Coast to Coast” and “Dynamite” provide some serious meat.  This disc would make a pretty good standalone compilation.

The third disc concentrates on the 90s, which saw the Scorpions reborn by the success of “Wind of Change”.  Unfortunately, this ushers in a slew of ballads.  The few rockers like “Tease Me, Please Me”, “Alien Nation” and “Don’t Believe Her” are almost drowned by the ballads.  There are some songs you may have missed the first time around.  In addition to the aforementioned “Bad For Good” and “Cause I Love You”, you’ll also get “Over the Top” and “Life Goes Around” which were released in 1997 on Deadly Sting: The Mercury Years.  “Cause I Love You” is really the only keeper of these four obscurities.  It was originally written in 1978 for Lovedrive, and recorded in 2002.  That’s how it sounds, too.  As for the rest, at least getting by these songs all in one place, you don’t really need the other two compilations.  Disc three also contains the unfortunate “Mysterious” from the dreadful Eye II Eye album, and the soul live song “Hurricane 2000” from Moment of Glory with the Berlin Philharmonic.  Neither are really essential though “Hurricane 2000” has its fans.

Box of Scorpions adds up to a good set with plenty of value and a few minor surprises.  If you don’t own all the albums already, this is a good buy.  Be sure to get a copy with the outer plastic slipcase still intact!

3.5/5 stars

 

R.I.P. Roky Erickson (1947-2019)

He didn’t have an easy life, so we hope he will rest in peace.  Roky Erickson was a songwriter extraordinaire, an innovator, and an influencer.   He impacted a young Dave Grohl and befriended ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons.  He was a founder of the psychedelic rock movement with the 13th Floor Elevators.  He also suffered from schizophrenia and endured horrific electro-shock therapy.

Roky Erickson eventually got the right treatment and made a return to recording and touring.  Yet it’s his 60s and 70s material that remains immortal.

Recommended listening:  The Evil One on CD, which is essentially two albums combined into one.  Every single song is amazing, but here’s “Mine Mine Mind” (produced by Stu Cook of CCR).  You can tell he was haunted.  Rest in peace, Roky.

REVIEW: Deep Purple – Hard Road: The Mark I Studio Recordings 1968-69 (5 CD box set)

scan_20170123DEEP PURPLE – Hard Road: The Mark I Studio Recordings 1968-69 (2014 Parlophone)

It’s fantastic that old mono recordings are getting the CD treatment.  The original mono mixes of the old Beatles albums were a revelation to those who had never heard them before.  The original mono versions of Deep Purple’s Shades Of and Book of Taliesyn are less surprising, but still a welcome addition for completists who want to hear it “as it was” in 1968.  Comparisons are difficult, but both albums sound like they were meant to be in stereo.  Unlike the Beatles pop rock compositions, Deep Purple’s featured a lot of solo work and even full-blown orchestral movements.  The stereo separation makes that easier to appreciate.  Only Purple’s third album, 1969’s self-titled Deep Purple, did not receive a mono mix.  It is presented here in stereo only.

Now, these three Purple albums all received the deluxe edition treatment (single discs) in the year 2000.  Those versions on Spitfire (links in above paragraph) are still excellent ways to get this early Deep Purple music.  They are fairly common, have great liner notes and pictures, and feature the stereo versions plus 14 bonus tracks combined between them.  There is also a compilation CD called The Early Years featuring more bonus tracks, including 2003 remixes and live takes.  Where Hard Road fails is in replacing these previous four CDs completely.  One would hope you would get  all the associated bonus tracks from this period in one handy-dandy box.  Sadly this box is not quite so dandy.  Here is a list of tracks missing from Hard Road that were on the remastered single discs:

  • “Kentucky Woman” (alternate take on The Early Years)
  • “Hard Road” (BBC session on The Early Years and The Book of Taliesyn remaster)
  • “Hush” (live from US TV)
  • “Hey Joe” (live BBC recording from the remastered Shades Of).
  • “It’s All Over” and “Hey Bop-a-Rebop” (unreleased songs, live BBC sessions from The Book of Taliesyn)

The live BBC songs above can also be found on the double CD BBC Sessions…except for “Hard Road”.

scan_20170123-4

Of course there is plenty of material on Hard Road that is not on those earlier discs, making things that much murkier.  In addition to the original mono versions, these include:

  • “Kentucky Woman” remixed in 2003
  • “Playground” in a non-remixed version
  • “River Deep, Mountain High” and “The Bird Has Flown” (single edits)
  • A fresh 2012 stereo mix of “Emmaretta”
  • The isolated single B-side version of “April (Part 1)”
  • An early instrumental version of “Why Didn’t Rosemary”

Irritating, yes.  But only to completists.  For just about anyone else, Hard Road will satisfy their need for pretty much all the Deep Purple Mark I they can handle.  It’s not as complete as the title would let on, what with that live “Hush” and alternate take of “Kentucky Woman” missing in action.  Instead you will receive a large booklet with plenty of notes and a new 2013 interview with producer Derek Lawrence.  He was on board early, before they were in Deep Purple.  He describes an early version of the band called “Roundabout” (with Bobby Woodman on drums and Chris Curtis on bass) as “bland”.  When Ian Paice and Nick Simper joined, they sounded better, but to Lawrence clearly Ritchie Blackmore and Ian Paice were the stars.

Each disc comes in its own LP-style sleeve.  It’s a gorgeous set.  It sounds fantastic, and was assembled with the usual care that goes into a Deep Purple album.  A few niggling missing tracks aside, this is highly recommended to those looking add the first three Purple to their collection.

4/5 stars

 

 

REVIEW: Scorpions – Lonesome Crow (1972)


Scan_20150722SCORPIONS – Lonesome Crow
(1972 Metronome)

What an odd album this is, considering where the Scorpions went a decade later. Young kids from West Germany finding their musical feet, Scorpions seemed to be a psychedelic band at the start. Their major asset was the 17 year old guitar prodigy Michael Schenker. Throughout Lonesome Crow, it is Schenker’s sparing solos that hint that Scorpions may in fact be a rock band. Throwing down the wah-wah hard, Schenker hadn’t found his direction yet either, but the talent was clear.

Also obviously gifted was 24 year old singer Klaus Meine. Although his thick accent probably didn’t help gaining international appeal, he sure could wail. The one single scream on opening track “I’m Going Mad” revealed that perhaps there was a rock star here in cocoon form.

Some fans have developed great love for Lonesome Crow over the years. When I first found the album in 1990 (a cassette reissue at a Zellers store), I thought at the time that it was perhaps the worst album I had ever bought. My stance has softened considerably over the years, as I’ve managed to penetrate its foggy haze. I have friends who have offered great praise to Lonesome Crow after ingesting certain intoxicants.

There are indeed some stellar musical moments. The song “Action” for example boats a jazzy walking bassline and some stellar playing. Bassist Lothar Heimberg only ever appeared on this one Scorpions album, and the bass is one of the biggest noticeable differences to later Scorpions records. You just don’t hear busy, walking basslines like this on the rest of their catalogue. Drummer Wolfgang Dziony (also on his only Scorpions album) accompanies him appropriately.


Klaus should grow this beard back.

The factor that makes Lonesome Crow difficult to penetrate is the tendency towards long, meandering (often directionless) psychedelic rock jams. “I’m Going Mad” (though it has no vocals for almost 2 1/2 minutes) is pretty instant, and “In Search of the Peace of Mind” has its moments too. Other songs like “Inheritance” are head-scratchers. One of the most interesting (but also difficult to penetrate) songs is the 13 minute title track. I’m sure a more seasoned band could have trimmed the fat a bit. In general, the album has several flashes of brilliance, but you have to slog through long meandering slow jams to get there.  Producer Conny Plank, he of many Krautrock releases, allows the Scorpions to run wild with their imaginations.

Lonesome Crow isn’t a bad album. One reason it’s unlike other Scorpions records is that they broke up shortly after. When a new Scorpions formed, the only members remaining from this album were Klaus and rhythm guitarist Rudolph Schenker. Michael Schenker was noticed by UFO, who snagged him from the fledgling Scorpions. When the band folded, Klaus and Rudolph joined Dawn Road featuring another smokingly talented guitarist named Uli Jon Roth. Dawn Road was then renamed Scorpions, and together the new lineup began embarking on a harder rock and roll journey. With Roth’s help, and a growing songwriting duo of Klaus and Rudolph, great things were ahead.

2/5 stars

REVIEW: Roky Erickson and the Aliens – The Evil One (15 tracks)

ROKY_0002ROKY ERICKSON and the ALIENS – The Evil One (originally 1980, 2013 Light in the Attic)

I first became aware of the 13th Floor Elevators via ZZ Top, but it wasn’t until Dave Grohl’s excellent Sonic Highways (full review coming soon) that I was enlightened to the genius of Roky Erickson.  I’m not a huge fan of the psychedelic rock of which Roky was one of the founding fathers.  I do however love the pure guitar-based rock that he later played with the Aliens.  Having heard “Two Headed Dog” in Sonic Highways, I took the plunge and bought a deluxe reissue of The Evil One.

Roky’s story is a long and tragic one marked by mental illness, LSD, bad recording contracts, injustice and years of neglect.  The huge (48 page) CD booklet has liner notes with the story, and I won’t re-tell the tale for this one album review. Thankfully there is the documentary You’re Gonna Miss Me if you’re intrigued. The good news is that Roky has since gotten the help he needs and has financial and medical support today, and a whole new generation of fans (like me) discovering his genius.  “The talent behind Roky’s voice,” said ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, “is the mystery factor that no one could touch.”  His powerful rock and roll screams and moans are hooks in themselves.  Erickson cited James Brown as a major vocal influence.

This excellent CD reissue compiles all 15 tracks that were released over the course of two overlapping albums, The Evil One and Five Symbols. The albums were produced by ex-CCR bassist Stu Cook, who captured a vibrant droney guitar sound here. Roky’s voice had lost nothing, and perhaps only gained power over the years.

The incredible thing to me is how excellent every single track is!  I went into this only knowing “Two Headed Dog”.  I came out knowing and loving 15 different songs, each special in their own way.  The factors they have in common are Roky’s incredible voice, bizarre lyrics of paranoia and monsters and demons and aliens, and that unique and beautiful guitar.  It’s not psychedelic rock, it’s just rock and roll.  A song like “I Walked  With  a Zombie” emulates a slow dance from a late 1950’s highschool prom.  Meanwhile “Night of the Vampire” sounds more like Alice Cooper.

I cannot say enough good things about this CD.  I am beyond happy with this purchase.  I do truly love every song, already, but it’s not too hard to pick out my favourites.  “Mine Mine Mind” is irresistible no matter who you are.  “Sputnik”, “It’s a Cold Night for Alligators”, “I Think of Demons”, “Bloody Hammer”, “Creature With the Atom Brain”, “Two Headed Dog” and “If You Have Ghosts” round out the songs I don’t want to live without ever again.  The vocal and guitar hooks are incessant.  There are even guitar fragments that sound like classic Thin Lizzy!  Most fall within the 3-4 minute range and none overstay their welcome.

I am very happy to have started my Roky Erickson collection with this reissue from Light in the Attic records.  I understand that Roky’s royalty woes have since been fixed and he does get paid from releases such as this.  Buy with clear conscience.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band – Trout Mask Replica (1969)

“My smile is stuck; I cannot go back t’yer frownland.” – Don Van Vliet

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & HIS MAGIC BAND – Trout Mask Replica (1969 Reprise)

Produced by Frank Zappa, written by Don Van Vliet.

I’m no professional musician — not even close.  I can’t speak that language, so I can’t explain to you why Trout Mask Replica is pure genius. I can tell you that it is not for everybody. Frank Zappa once said, regarding the public’s attitude towards popular music: “Give me something that sounds exactly like something that I already like.” With that sarcastic comment, Zappa hit the nail on the head. Most listeners want music in standard (4/4) time, with familiar tones, and based on familiar scales. If you fall into that majority, do not buy Trout Mask Replica.

I’ll give you an example of the weirdness within, right out of the liner notes.  “Captain Beefheart plays tenor and soprano saxophone simultaneously on ‘Ant Man Bee’.”  [My emphasis]

TROUT MASK_0003Those who have studied music, particularly free improvisation, find Trout Mask Replica to be utterly brilliant. It is an ugly duckling of an album, something that seems stark and unforgiving on first listen, but revealing more depth and beauty the more you hear it. There is much to be enjoyed here. The drumming (by Drumbo aka John French) shatters preconceived notions about tempo and timekeeping in a rock/blues context. Bass clarinet is present, a rare instrument these days to be sure, and not an easy instrument to appreciate. The guitar and horns are harsh and difficult for the average listener to digest coming across as nothing more than a cacophony. Often, it sounds as if all six musicians are playing different songs at the same time, and that is not too far off the mark. Yet, these conflicting parts mesh and intersect at key moments, creating an overall effect of, “It sounds wrong, but right.” With repeated listens, it begins to sound more right than wrong. Bits and pieces gradually coalesce, and suddenly it clicks. There are hooks here, catchy guitar parts that reveal themselves slowly.  The howling moans of Don Van Vliet are always enticing.  I love his “old man” voice on the scratchy “The Dust Blows Forwards ‘N the Dust Blows Back”.

The music is playful (“Ella Garu” for example). Captain Beefheart plays homage to Americana on “Moonlight on Vermont”.  “Pachuco Cadaver”, the most immediate piece here, is catchy and pop-like in its structure. Yet Trout Mask Replica‘s prime influence in the blues, both at its most ancient and futuristic simultaneously. If that’s even possible, then Beefheart did it right here. Then again, “Hair Pie: Bake 2” is just pure jazz.

TROUT MASK_0006If you gave it a shot and you didn’t like Trout Mask Replica, then that is a question of personal taste and you are not wrong. However, nobody can say that this is “not music”, or that this is the work of “amateurs”. It takes years for musicians to be able to compose and play music of this stature. If you don’t appreciate it, that’s fine. AC/DC are still making records. A lot of people can’t appreciate Edgard Varese or Ligeti either. Yet their music continues to live on years after their deaths. So will it be for Don Van Vliet & his Magic Band.

After repeated spins, I believe that even the most jaded of listeners can find something to enjoy if they try. Whether it be Van Vliet’s gutteral blues howling or the loud and aggressive slide guitar, there is much to be loved on Trout Mask Replica. If by chance you are a Beefheart fan already, or are slowly becoming one, there are some interesting companion pieces to be had:  The one I want is Grow Fins: Rarities 1965-1982.   It’s a 5-CD box set containing two entire discs of Trout Mask outtakes and sessions.

Buy this if you like experimental Frank Zappa, Tom Waits, Mike Patton, the works of Edgard Varese, early (Easy Action and Pretties For You) Alice Cooper, or free improv.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: The Sheepdogs – Learn and Burn (2011 bonus tracks)

SHEEPDOGS AND LEBRAIN

Ewen, Leot, LeBrain, Sam & Ryan

THE SHEEPDOGS – Learn and Burn (2011 Warner reissue, originally 2010)

SHEEPDOGS_0002Like many of you, I first heard The Sheepdogs via the excellent single “I Don’t Know”, a rollicking journey through territory pioneered by The Guess Who and Neil Young. And what a cool Canadian success story, what with that Rolling Stone cover and all.

A few months after falling in love with “I Don’t Know”, I was invited to a private acoustic session with the Sheepdogs. There were about 40 people in the room tops, including myself and my co-worker Bart who was my “+ 1”. I remember them playing “How Late, How Long” and an older tune. They were great, friendly and gracious.  They did a short meet & greet after the show, and I appreciated it when Ewen said to me, “I really like your Beatles shirt.  That’s my favourite period of John Lennon.”  I told him I specifically picked that shirt because I hoped they’d dig it!  The beards, you know?

I’m going to coin a new genre here:  “Beard Rock”.

Before seeing the band, I bought the album based on “I Don’t Know”.  That was sometime in fall of 2010; I remember listening to it on a cold, cold night at the cottage.   My impressions?  It’s a really cool mellow rock album. It sounds as if it came right out of 1969. It sounds very authentic to the period, even sonically.  Very different from their current work with Patrick Carney of the Black Keys.  I am impressed. I really like it.  Admittedly though, it’s a bit too derivative.  SHEEPDOGS_0006

Highlights for me included:

  • “Please Don’t Lead Me On”, which was very Beatles-y.  It’s jaunty, I like it.
  • “I Don’t Get By” which has a very country (or even Led Zep III) vibe.
  • “Right On” and its fat saxophone solo.
  • “Southern Dreaming” which reminds me of the Allmans, CCR and The Band
  • “Soldier Boy”,  probably the most rocking song on the album.
  • “Catfish 2 Boogaloo” kind of reminds me of a laid back version of Cream.

And, the whole Medley. These four mini-songs all meld together seamlessly, but are distinct sections.  It’s a gimmick similar to Abbey Road side two, but in miniature form.

The only song that does nothing for me is the title track “Learn and Burn”. Not into the vocal hook at all. Sorry.  I also didn’t dig the lyric referencing “Facebook invitations”, it just doesn’t vibe with the vintage 1971 sound of the song.

The two bonus tracks on the remastered edition are “Birthday” and “Slim Pickens”.  Yes, I re-bought the album to get two more songs.  You knew I would.  “Birthday” is worth it, a lovely 60’s sounding pop rock tune, with twang and banjo.  I wasn’t expecting “Slim Pickens” to rock as hard as it does, but it does!  This is a smokin’ little electric guitar bluegrass boogie instrumental.

Good album though, and a band to watch. Their work with Patrick Carney on their 2012 self-titled record expanded on their sound.  I expect them to continue to grow.

3.5/5 stars

TV REVIEW: American Dad – “Lost in Space” / Wax Fang – “Majestic”

AMERICAN DAD – “Lost in Space” (Episode 18, season 9)
WAX FANG – “Majestic” (from the album La La Land)

I’ve been sick the last couple days.  Stuck home, hurting and with no energy, at least I had my American Dad re-runs.   It seems to be a show I turn to when I’m sick at home, and it does the trick.  I love the adsurbity of the alien character, Roger — how all he needs is a wig to “disguise” himself and nobody* can tell he’s an alien.   The other day one of my favourite episodes was on:  “Lost in Space”; or “the one that shows what happens to Jeff Fischer once he’s taken to space by Roger’s species.”

This episode was a real risk taker.  It is almost entirely about a secondary character, that of stoner Jeff (husband to Hayley Smith). Aside from an opening recap, only one main character appears in a surprise cameo.  When we last saw Jeff Fischer, Roger tricked him into being sucked up by an alien spaceship.  While I expected him to be written off, he has returned, with his new sidekick Sinbad.

SINBADLet me say that again.  With new sidekick Sinbad.

In “Lost in Space”, Jeff is used as slave labor at the local Shawarma Hut in the alien spaceship’s massive food court.  Emperor Zing (Michael McKean) has created a shopping mall spaceship, which he rules with an iron fist.  The only way off is if a slave can prove he or she was in true love, and must be set free.  Jeff decides to take a chance and prove his love for Hayley was real, at the risk of losing his genitals as the price of failure.

This sets up a musical number involving a rock band called Wax Fang.  I won’t be all cool and pretend I knew who Wax Fang were before seeing this episode.  I dig the vintage operatic bombast of “Majestic”, which appears in the episode all but whole.  The song itself inspired large parts of the episode, and the character of the Majestic as well.  As to the song, it has Queen-like qualities and a simply irresistible lead vocal.   On top of that is a lovely guitar solo, classic rock in quality.  I will definitely be checking out more by Wax Fang.

For both the episode, and the song:

5/5 stars

*Toshi can.

ADLIS

REVIEW: Jimi Hendrix – “Valleys of Neptune” (2010 7″ single)

Welcome back to the WEEK OF SINGLES 2!  Yesterday we took a look at Dream Theater’s “Lie” — click here if you missed it.

 

JIMI HENDRIX – “Valleys of Neptune” (2010 Experience Hendrix, Record Store Day release)

I’m just a casual fan, certainly not an expert on the labyrinthine Hendrix back catalog of songs. There are so many takes both released and “previously unreleased” of so many songs. Anyway, bottom line, here is “Valleys of Neptune”, a previously unreleased 40-year old take of a Hendrix song, the title track to the 2010 album it comes from. This is via the official Hendrix-family-approved reissue program. It’s a pretty cool looking single, with suitably 60’s cover art suiting the title, and painted by Jimi himself. The tune itself is a catchy toe-tapping Hendrix rocker performed with Mitch Mitchell and Billy Cox.  It’s pieced together from recording sessions in 1969 and 1970.

The B-side is a previously unreleased version of “Cat Talking To Me”.  This one was not made available on Valleys of Neptune, not even as a digital download bonus track.  You can only get it on this single.  Jimi cut this one with the Experience in 1967, but Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding returned to the studio in 1987 to add the bass and drums.  Why it wasn’t released in ’87, I don’t know.  I like this one better than the A-side.  It has a good little groove going, at times anticipating where Aerosmith would take American rock and roll in the 1970’s.  The lead vocal is by Mitchell.

For something cool to add to your collection, you can’t go wrong with “Valleys of Neptune”. It looks neat, it sounds great, and the cover art and rare track are sure to make this a collectible.

4/5 stars

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