radio

#692: Summer of the Album

GETTING MORE TALE #692: Summer of the Album

I’ve had the same routine for over 10 years: get to work, turn on the radio, and listen. I would occasionally hear new bands that I had to get into. I wouldn’t want to do without Greta Van Fleet, Royal Blood, or A Rebel Few in my life. But every routine eventually gets stale.

For the last several weeks I’ve been trying something different. No matter how much radio tries to shake it up, you are guaranteed to hear certain songs and bands every single day. AC/DC, for example, are a radio staple. You will hear them on rock stations every single day, usually from a pool of 10 to 12 songs. In my regular daily album-listening life, I don’t actually listen to AC/DC that often. In fact, I’m less likely to listen to AC/DC when I hear them on the radio daily.

At the recommendation of Uncle Meat I’ve been loading up flash drives and bringing them to work instead. This has enabled me to not only listen to whoever I feel like, but also given me the ability to play full albums.

The first day without radio was an interesting experiment. In the morning, I played the entire Max Webster The Party box set in its completion. In the afternoon, an album I hadn’t played in years: Neil Diamond’s 20th Century Masters! Part of doing without radio is forcing myself to listen to albums that don’t get regular rotation at home. Especially multi-disc sets. It’s easy to listen to a box set when you’re seated at the same desk for eight hours.

A nice big flash drive means I have hundreds of my favourite albums available at a click, but there are pros and cons.

PROS:

1. The chance to spend my listening time with my own music; hopefully neglected music.
2. Hearing full albums.
3. The ability to “pause” when I am interrupted and have to do something else.

CONS:

1. No traffic or news reports.
2. A feeling of disconnection from the community and friends during the day.
3. Missing those new tunes and rarities that sometimes surprise you on the radio.
4. Going from a stereo radio behind me to a mono speaker in front of me.

It was really weird going without the morning radio news reports at first, but I’m used to it now.

This far into the journey I’ve played virtually every studio album by Kiss and Black Sabbath.  I’m working my way through Priest next, and a whole bunch of soundtracks. I actually played Jeff Wayne’s legendary War of the Worlds musical two days in a row, so enthralled was I with the album.  Featuring Justin Hayward, Richard Burton, and Philip flippin’ Lynott, it is an album I am glad to have finally caught up on.  It’s the kind of thing you need to have the time to play, the more the better.

Hopefully, listening to more albums will enable me to review more albums. The unfortunate thing is not being exposed to new and unfamiliar songs. I’ll just have to rely on readers and other sources for that.

With flash drives by my side, 2018 will be the Summer of the Album. Let’s see how this experiment works!

 

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#691: A Face for Radio

GETTING MORE TALE #691:  A Face for Radio

I was at work, listening to a recording of Visions in Sound, Rob Daniels’ radio show about movie soundtracks and more.  It was the June 23 episode (show #924):  The Mockumentary, on which I guested.

One of the folks at work, who I call “Happy”, is a super guy but he doesn’t throw around compliments very readily.  He’d rather tease most of the time.  He happened to walk into my office while I was listening to the show.  He listened with me for a few minutes, and then began his speech.

“You know, you might be offended by what I have to say, but listen,” he began.  “You and I could be sitting in a bar and I would have no interest in anything you are talking about.  You like music, I like sports.  We have literally nothing in common to talk about.

“But you need to do a book, or a show, or something.  I have listened for two minutes, and I am already interested in what you’re talking about.  I don’t care about this stuff.  But you made me want to care.

“It was the same when you were on that other station, Dave FM.  We were listening here at work when you were on.  I don’t care about any of that music, but you make it interesting.

“It’s like when I am watching soccer with my wife.  There can be an amazing British commentator talking about it, and I am so into what he is saying.  My wife, she does not care.  Not at all.  But you, you can talk in such a way that you make it interesting for people who do care, and people who are not interested at all.

“You have a gift, and you need to be on a show, or do a book.  And if you’re offended by this I don’t care!”

Offended?  Not at all!

Gimme a show.  Any show.  I’ll be there.

 

Sunday Chuckle: A Call from “Visa Mastercard”

Big thanks to Craig Fee over at 107.5 DaveRocks for this one!

During Craig’s live “Tedious Tiresome Trivia” segment on the Tuesday afternoon show (on which he takes live phone calls), he received a call from Ray at “Visa Mastercard”.  The entire thing went out on the air, live, just as you hear it below.  There’s nothing Craig loves more than messing with a solicitor calling into his show. Needless to say, things go wonky very quickly.

What I learned from “Visa Mastercard” on this call is that, apparently, your credit card number is not personal information.  It’s right there on the face of the card, so that makes it public…apparently.  “Anyone can see that or memorise that,” according to the “Visa Mastercard” rep (“not a third party!”) that unwittingly called a radio station.

Please enjoy!

 

#585: Days Full of Music

Getting More Tale #585: Days Full of Music

I might not rock and roll all night, or party every day.  I do, however, sleep well at night because I rock and roll most of the day.

I play music every day.  I have played music every day with only a few exceptions for the last 30+ years.  A grade 8 weeklong Catholic school retreat at Mt. Mary meant a week of no music, so I listened to as much Kiss as I could beforehand.  I hoped to have the tunes in my head all week.  Unfortunately that’s not a substitute for the real thing, but I did survive Mt. Mary.

I have always said that listening to the radio at work is a much better fate than listening to whatever was popular at the Record Store in the later days.  Better for me, anyway, rather than being force-fed Franz Ferdinand, Alicia Keys, or Big Shiny Tunes all day.  I’d much rather check out what’s on the local rock airwaves.  The higher-ups at the Record Store didn’t like my kind of music much, so when they were around I stuck to the stuff they wanted played.  I didn’t want to get in shit for playing Kiss in store anymore.

Below you’ll find what a typical happy day at work sounds like today.  I used July 5 2017 as a sample date.  There are a few readers here who listen to the same radio station I do (107.5 Dave Rocks where I have done guest shots in the past) so some will know these songs well.  Then there are others who loathe the radio (which is fine) and they can skip this one.

I started my daily commute that day with the second disc of Rush’s 2112, the 40th anniversary edition.  The drive to work consisted of the cover tunes by Foo Fighters, Billy Talent, Steven Wilson, Jacob Moon and Alice in Chains.  On this trip I was struck by how little like Alice in Chains they sounded.   I was also very impressed (as usual) with Jacob Moon.  I’m almost embarrassed to add that Billy Talent is gradually growing on me, and this Rush cover doesn’t hurt their case.

When I got into the office I turned on the radio to hear One Bad Son.  They are a new hard rock band from Saskatoon, but they sound international.  A band to keep an ear to the ground for.  The day went on as you see it below.  I have marked all Canadian Content songs with a red CC, since radio stations in Canada must play certain percentages of CanCon.

Here was my music for the day of July 5:


Car:  Rush – 2112 40th anniversary edition (first half of disc 2)

1. One Bad Son – “Raging Bull” – Great rock reminiscent of Skid Row! CC
2. Spacehog – “In the Meantime”
3. Alice in Chains – “Check My Brain” –Killer track, it’s been a while.
4. April Wine – “Weeping Widow” – I’ve never heard this smoking track before. CC
5. Motley Crue – “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)”
6. Age of Electric – “Ugly” – Vintage Canadian alternarock! CC

7. The Cars – “Just What I Needed” – I will never get tired of this.
8. The Struts – “Kiss This” – I  absolutely hate this song.
9. The Tragically Hip – “Fully Completely” CC
10. Bon Jovi – “Born to Be My Baby” – Old classic back in circulation.
11. Soundgarden – “Rusty Cage”
12. U2 – “Beautiful Day”
13. The Guess Who – “American Woman” CC
14. Bryan Adams – “Kids Wanna Rock” CC
15. Foo Fighters – “All My Life”
16. Bachman-Turner Overdrive – “Hold Back the Water” CC
17. Papa Roach – “Help”
18. J. Geils Band – “Love Stinks”
19. The Trews – “So She’s Leaving” CC
20. Aerosmith – “Back in the Saddle” – I did air guitar in my office for this song.
21. Metallica – “Until it Sleeps”
22. Harlequin  – “Thinking of You”— A great old tune that deserves your attention. CC

23. Monster Truck – “The Enforcer” CC
24. The Kinks – “You Really Got Me”
25. Sublime – “Santeria”
26. The Killjoys – “Today I Hate Everyone” CC
27. Led Zeppelin – “Night Flight” – Points for a more obscure song!
28. Pop Evil – “Footsteps” – Sorry Pop Evil fans. I can’t get into this band at all.
29. The Cult – “Wildflower”
30. The Wild! – “Living Free” – Tyler Generoux is into these guys. CC
31. Kaleo – “Glass House”
32. Moist – “Resurrection” CC
33. Guns N’ Roses – “You Could Be Mine”
34. Rush – “The Big Money” CC
35. The Rolling Stones – “Rocks Off”
36. Soundgarden – “Burden In My Hand”
37. The Who – “I’m Free”
38. Blink 182 – “Bored to Death – I’ve really been enjoying their new songs with Matt Skiba.
39. Nirvana – “Breed”
40. Neil Young – “When You Dance You Can Really Love” CC
41. Sloan – “She Says What She Means” CC
42. Our Lady Peace – “Supersatellite” CC
43. AC/DC – “Rock N’ Roll Train” – It’s nice to hear “newer” Black Ice material.

44. Led Zeppelin – “Four Sticks” – The second Zep of the shift.
45. Stone Sour – “Bother”
46. Scorpions – “The Zoo”
47. Jimi Hendrix – “Fire”
48. Metallica – “The Unforgiven”
49. ZZ Top – “Sharp Dressed Man”
50. Nickelback – “Feed the Machine” – First and thankfully only Nickelback of the shift. CC
51. Max Webster – “Paradise Skies” CC
52. Sam Roberts Band – “If You Want It” CC
53. Foo Fighters – “D.O.A.” – Second Foo Fighters of the shift.
54. Van Halen – “Hot For Teacher”
55. Hole – “Awful” – Ironically not awful!
56. Rush – The Analog Kid”  – Second Rush of the shift. CC
57. The Guess Who – “Bus Rider” – Second Guess Who of the shift. CC
58. 311 – “Down” – I hated them then, and I hate them now.
59. The Glorious Sons – “Mama” CC

60. Big Sugar – “Dear Mr. Fantasy” CC
61. Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll” – Third Zep for the shift and the most typical.
62. The Offspring – “Gone Away” – A band I never ever liked.
63. Def Leppard – “Hysteria” – Their greatest ballad ever.
64. Bon Jovi – “Lay Your Hands On Me” – Second Jovi of the shift and second from New Jersey.
65. The Trews – “Lotta Work Little Love” – Second Trews of the shift. CC
66. Soundgarden – “Blow Up the Outside World” – Second Soundgarden and second from Down on the Upside.
67. Triumph – “Lay It On the Line” (remixed) CC
68. The Rolling Stones – “Gimme Shelter” – Second and best Stones of the shift.
69. Green Day – “Revolution Radio”
70. The Clash – “Rock the Casbah” – Booooring.
71. The Standstills – “Orleans” – Great Canadian blues rock duo.  Check them out.  CC

72. Van Halen – “Unchained” – Second Van Halen of the shift.  It’s the Craig Fee Show!
73. AC/DC – “Who Made Who” – Second AC/DC of the shift.
74. Bryan Adams – “Summer of ‘69” – Second Bryan of the shift. CC
75. Big Wreck – “You Don’t Even Know” CC
76. Foreigner – “Hot Blooded”

And that was it.  That’s 7:30 to 4:30 right there, not a bad shift to work.  I went home resuming the Rush, and that got me to the door.

Car:  Rush – 2112 40th anniversary edition (live songs from disc 2)


How do you like that day?  There were very few stinkers in that list of songs.  I could leave behind the Nickelback, the “Rock the Casbah”, and the Struts among others.  Those tracks aside, this was a very solid day of great rock and roll, new and old.  No repeat.  Only a few bands had more than one song played.  A good number of songs were off the beaten track.  Pretty good for a full day at the office, right?  I count my blessings every day, believe me!  I am very grateful I get to listen to such great music at work.

I’m the office Milton. I even have the red stapler.

#567.5: Thanks Rob! (Visions in Sound)

Regular readers know that for the past five weeks (except one!) I’ve been appearing with Rob Daniels on his radio show Visions in Sound at 98.5 CKWR, talking about movie soundtracks.  Also appearing were Erik Woods and Jason Drury live from the UK.  May was Star Wars month, and we did four shows dedicated to the 40th anniversary of that franchise:


May 6: Star Wars for a New Generation (Rogue One, Rebels)

May 13: Alternate Forces (Star Wars video game soundtracks – I missed this one due to prior commitment)

May 20:  The Prequels (Music from Episodes I, II, and III)

May 27:  Where it All Began (Music from the original trilogy)

And there was also the June 3 show, the celebration of The 30th Anniversary of Spaceballs, a classic Mel Brooks parody of Star Wars (and other classic sci-fi).


All these shows and more can be accessed on the Visions in Sound archives.

So thanks Rob for asking me to be on the show, and to new friends Erik and Jason.

Not to toot our own horns too much, but these were great shows.  It’s hard to listen live at 12:30 in the morning, but if you take the time to listen to one of these shows in the archives, I know I’d appreciate it.  Great music was played, much geeking-out was had, but you’ll also hear a ton of knowledge that you probably never knew before, from four guys who live and breathe this stuff.

Hoping to do this again soon!

Mike “LeBrain”

Star Wars radio tonight! The original trilogy on Visions In Sound

I will be going LIVE at 12:30 AM (ET) Saturday morning with Robert Daniels on VISIONS IN SOUND. Tune in on your dial to 98.5 or internet to CKWR!  You folks in the UK can tune in as you enjoy some morning java!

Rob says:  “May is Star Wars month on Visions In Sound and we will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary with a slew of special shows. Joining me this week will be special guests Jason Drury, Michael Ladano & Erik Woods to help with the celebration. Featured music will be from the original Star Wars trilogy (John Williams). Join Us THIS Saturday 12:30-2:30am (ET)”

#466: Clap for the Wolfman

 

“Another lovely day begins, for ghosts and ghouls with greenish skin. So close your eyes and you will find that you’ve arrived in Frightenstein. Perhaps the Count will find a way to make his monster work today. For if he solves this monster-mania, he can return to Transylvania! So welcome where the sun won’t shine, to the castle of Count Frightenstein!”Vincent Price

GETTING MORE TALE #466:  Clap for the Wolfman

I surely cannot be the only person in the world who heard of rock and roll because of the legendary radio DJ Wolfman Jack…although mine was in a roundabout way!

The irresistibly gravel-voiced Wolfman Jack was born in 1938 as Robert Smith.  A love of classic horror led to the creation of the Wolfman character.  He played rock and roll records from a high-powered transmitter on the Mexico border.  So powerful was the signal that Jack claimed “Birds dropped dead when they flew too close to the tower.”  On a clear night, listeners in the Soviet Union could hear the Wolfman half a world away.

Killing birds and eating records, the Wolfman really came to fame when tapes of his broadcasts were used for radio syndication.  By selling his tapes world-wide, Jack could be heard on over 2000 stations at his peak.    The Wolfman character became synonymous with rock and roll no matter where you lived.

American Graffiti: Richard Dreyfuss and Wolfman Jack

I was too young to know of Wolfman Jack directly.  I was even too young for American Graffiti, the 1973 George Lucas classic about the cruising scene in Modesto California circa the summer of ’62.  Wolfman Jack made a memorable appearance as himself, and did radio DJ intros for most of the tunes through the movie.  This however was preceded by a 1971 Canadian kid’s comedy show called The Hilarious House of Frightenstein. Similarly to of the syndication that made the Wolfman a smash success, Frightenstein was on TV well into the 70’s and 80’s, even though all the episodes were made in 1971.  Via Frightenstein, I learned who the Wolfman was.

Because of the endless re-runs, there was no way for young Canadian kids to miss it.  Before we had cable, it was one of the few shows we could reliably get, both at home and at the cottage, as it was broadcast from Hamilton Ontario.  Billy Van played almost every character himself: Grizelda the Witch, the Librarian, Dr. Pet Vet, Bwana Clyde Batty (a British explorer who ran the “Zany Zoo”), and many more.  Van’s most memorable character however had to be The Wolfman – an actual wolfman radio DJ inspired by Jack, down to the gravelly voice and wolf howls!  The Wolfman would spin classic rock and roll records each show, accompanied by psychedelic images of him dancing and playing air guitar with the character of Igor, played by Fishka Rais.  (The huge Rais was one of very few additional actors on the show.  Vincent Price and Professor Julius Sumner Miller recorded all their parts over the course of the summer of 1971.  And let’s not forget Guy Big, as the Midget Count!)

When the Wolfman’s segments would begin, you would know it immediately.  His theme song was “I Wanna Take You Higher” by Sly and the Family Stone.  “I am the Wolfman!  Ah-oooooooo!” he would howl at the start of his show.  He would play “golden oldies” by the Stones and other classic rock and roll artists, on his radio station “EECH”. He would tell callers that he was “fangtastic”.  (The “golden oldies” concept was brilliant.  Even if he was playing a fairly recent Stones single, he’d call it a “golden oldie”, thus ensuring that the show seemed current even when being broadcast in, say, 1986.  Planning and syndication!)

One of the few Youtube clips featuring original audio and music.

So there I was, a young kid sitting on the basement floor during Canadian winter, playing with Lego and watching  this pretty low-budget kid’s show, when suddenly this wolfman appeared!  “I am the Wolfman!  Ahooooooo!”  I didn’t know the music.  I’d never heard Sly and the Family Stone.  They were great!  I was hooked.  I even made my own tapes of the Wolfman.  I played the Wolfman…and all the other characters.  I had him battling Star Wars composer John Williams for chart superiority!  Fortunately, these tapes no longer exist!

I had no idea yet that Billy Van’s Wolfman was based on a real person.   That came later, probably through my parents, as I learned more about rock and roll.  All I knew was that he was a fun character who played good songs.  “I Wanna Take You Higher” was an early favourite.  The Stones made a strong impression.  He also played Mungo Jerry.  I didn’t like the slow songs.  Unfortunately due to the legal rights involved, “I Wanna Take You Higher” had to be replaced on the DVD versions.  Rights could only be obtained to release a few episodes on disc. (Most of the Youtube clips you will find are overdubbed versions with different music, and a new voice, since Billy Van had passed away before the DVDs were released.)

Wolfman Jack himself appeared on many television shows and records over the years.  After American Graffiti, he appeared in the ill-advised sequel, which flopped.  TV loved him; he even guested on Battlestar Galactica’s spinoff series Galactica 1980.  Notably, in 1974 he appeared as himself on The Guess Who’s classic single “Clap for the Wolfman”, a memorable tribute featuring plenty of the Wolfman’s trademark growl.  His influence trickled down, creating waves far exceeding the radio broadcasts that once reached Russia.  Via these tributes to his accomplishments, the Wolfman served to introduce rock and roll music to new generations, either via TV and movies or Billy Van’s character inspired by him.  Clap for the Wolfman indeed!

#398: New Rock, Old Rock

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!)

Part 320: End of the Line #6: The Birth of LeBrain

RECORD STORE TALES Part 320: End of the Line #6: The Birth of LeBrain

I discovered quickly that listening to rock radio in an office was much better than listening to CDs in the Record Store. They really hounded me about my in-store music selections.  With the radio, nobody yells at me about the music. I could just enjoy it as I worked, and the music has not been lame!  Just this week, I rocked out to Judas Priest’s “Painkiller” and Savatage’s “Hall of the Mountain King” at work on the radio.  Last week it was Slayer.  I doubt I ever played any of those songs in the Record Store.  Traffic reports are an added bonus.

Our office has its radio set to 107.5 Dave FM, and it is through them that I met new friends such as Marko Fox, Craig Fee, Simon McGhee, Patrick Dynamite, and more. It is there that I became “LeBrain”.  There was a daily contest…a near legendary contest…called the 4 O’Clock 4-Play.  Every day at 4:00, Craig would play four songs with a common theme.  Guess the theme, win the prize.  I started winning frequently, and had started submitting my own 4-Play quizzes for the show.  They numbered in the hundreds, I am certain.  Some have never been used.  Craig told me he had an email folder filled with my 4-Plays that hadn’t been used yet.

Photo0978

Craig Fee with some beard douchebag.

This led to features on the station such as “Stump LeBrain Week”, where I was in the studio every day for a week as listeners tried to stump me. (The only day I was not in the studio was the Wednesday, where I was live on air with Marko at Chicopee ski club.)  Other listeners sent in their own 4-Plays specifically to stump me, and Craig picked his five favourites.  That was followed by LeBrainuary – an entire month of my own musical 4-Plays.  They also did a final LeBrain Week before they finally shut the contest down.

I still hear about that contest.  Every once in a while I meet someone new who knows me only as “LeBrain” from the radio.  There was one at Sausagefest this year.  I always get asked, “When are they bringing that contest back?  It was awesome.”  I wish I knew!  I’ve bugged Craig about it too.

While it lasted, it was awesome. I became a D-grade local celebrity! But I wanted more. I pestered and bugged Craig Fee daily. I sent him my reviews, early chapters of the Record Store Tales, rock news, rants, anything and everything!

You know what happened next. It was the “lightbulb moment”.  Craig said the magic words: “You need to start your own blog.”  

And so I did, and that’s why you’re reading this today.

I knew immediately I wanted to finally publish the Record Store Tales.  I started writing them over 10 years ago.  I originally envisioned a book version of Record Store Tales.  I started writing it with that in mind, but most of it hasn’t been used, because I felt some chapters were a little too off-topic.   Instead I mined my extensive journals to create new content.  It took about 2 1/2 years to post all of the Record Store Tales, at an average of one every three days.

So here we are, at the end. I knew this day would come eventually. I thought at most I’d come up with 100 installments, tops.  Having said that, the number of stories that I chose not to tell exceeds this body of work greatly.  Believe it or not, I decided to be nice.  There are many things done and many things said that have been left out.  I’ve tried to be candid and maintain my own integrity, and just tell the story of a very cool time in my life.  Not everybody gets to work in a record store.

Positives and negatives aside, the writing experience for me has been mostly healthy, sometimes cathartic, and immensely fun. I hope you have had fun too.

Thank you for your support, inspiration, kind words and contributions: Mrs. LeBrain, Craig, Marko, Aaron, Uncle Meat, Iron Tom Sharpe (Meaford’s greatest athlete), T-Rev, Lemon Kurri, my parents, and everyone else who has ever contributed or told me not to stop.

A huge thanks to the owner at the old Record Store. You gave me a chance and taught me so much.  You have my number.

Sincerest apologies to those I have hurt or offended.

Finally, thanks to YOU – the people who have read this stuff, whether you were a one-timer or a regular. I thrive on feedback and you made this a very rewarding experience.

I hope you’ll stick around, as we launch the Post-Record Store Tales (official title to be announced soon) and continue on with the awesome reviews! Live long…and prosper.

The End.

SPOCK

Part 191 / REVIEW: Respighi – Pines of Rome

RECORD STORE TALES Part 191:  Respighi

In the early 2000’s I was very interested in growing a little bit of a classical music collection.  Classical music can be had in reasonably priced but expansive box sets, but I wanted to be a little more discerning.  There were some things I knew I wanted to get just based on reputation, such as Niccolò Paganini and Glenn Gould.  I knew the CBC had a lot of classical programming so I used to tune into them driving home from work after the night shift.

The first time I did so was a turning point.  I heard some music, but I didn’t have a clue what it was.  It sounded dramatic and soundtrack-esque to me.  I could picture a sprawling epic such as Spartacus unfolding in front of me.  It wasn’t until I stopped at the red lights that the announcer came back on the air and told me that the piece I heard was “The Pines of Rome” composed by Ottorino Respighi.  Respighi…Italian!  My countryman!

I went into work the next morning, and checked the computer for anything by Respighi.  Turns out, we had one in stock, a London Records recording of Pines of Rome.  It was my first true classical purchase, not counting movie soundtracks.  Working at a record store enabled me to cheaply expand into any genre of music I wished.  I’m strongly in favour of trying new music, no matter what section of the store you find it in.

RESPIGHI FRONTOTTORINO RESPIGHI – Pines of Rome / Fountains of Rome / The Birds (1969 Decca / London)

Reviewing classical music is tough for me because it’s way out of my zone of expertise.  All I know is what I like and what sounds good to my ears.  This old recording, conducted by István Kertész, fit the bill for me.  “The Pines of Rome” is such an incredible piece.  Apparently this is considered a “symphonic poem”.  In other words, the classical music equivalent of a concept album!  It has majestic moments that phase into romantic interludes; scenes, basically.  By the end, it is a triumphant anthem worthy of the most awe-inspiring movie soundtrack.  You can easily visualize the sun rising over the tall pines; apparently that was the composer’s intention.  It works!

“The Birds” starts as jaunty piece, perfect for a fancy dinner or event!  What I enjoy about music like this is that it enables me to travel back in time, in my mind.  It is easy to place yourself at the hearth of a warm fire, almost 100 years ago.  This piece’s different sections attempt to transcribe birdsong into a musical arrangement:  doves, hens, nightingale, and the cuckoo.  I can’t help it, I like the cuckoo best.  It’s whimsical.

“Fountains of Rome” is another symphonic poem, this one beginning at daybreak.  The second movement sounds like a summoning, as creatures begin to frolick.  The piece paints a picture, allowing the listener to really just sink in.

Great gateway album.

4.5/5 stars

Next time on Record Store Tales…

Do you still have the first mix CD you ever made?