Great show today! John from 2loud2oldmusic brought on engineer/mixer/musician/songwriter Ryan Williams for storytime. Though his credits range from pop to metal, we tended to focus our discussion on rock and roll. If you’re a fan of Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam, Slayer, Staind, U2, Phil Collen of Def Leppard, Limp Bizkit, Velvet Revolver, Dave Navarro, or Kelly Clarkson then you’ll want to check this show out.
From starting out in Atlanta, to travelling the world recording epic performances, Ryan Williams has seemingly seen it all and done it all. Recording music on a Tascam 4-track home studio, graduating to two synced 24-tracks machines, to the modern tools of today, Ryan has kept learning. We talked about his beginnings, and working with Brendan O’Brien, all the way to the present day and the imminent release of a Stone Temple Pilots box set for Tiny Music. Ryan even had a little bit of show and tell with some hand-written original Eddie Vedder lyrics.
In honour of our special surprise guest yesterday, Mr. Dave Lizmi! One of the truly greatest hits 30 years ago in 1991 was “Nobody Said It Was Easy” by The Four Horsemen. Its dirty rock and roll sound clashed with everything going on at the time. They were rock, they were punk, they were southern, they were screaming, and they were truly special. “Nobody Said It Was Easy” is the song that hooked us.
METALLICA – Death Magnetic(2008 Vertigo Coffin Box)
“What don’t kill ya, make ya more strong!”
Like many bands these days, Metallica decided to release a boxed special edition of Death Magnetic to make a little extra cash. And also like a lot of other bands, this “coffin box” edition was crazy expensive. To me the deciding factor wasn’t all the bells and whistles (and there are a lot of them) it was the inclusion of the exclusive CD Demo Magnetic. This disc includes 10 demo tracks, unfinished and otherwise unreleased versions of the final Death Magnetic songs.
There were only 2000 copies of this made, so if you didn’t pre-order, chances are you gotta pay the late tax.
Death Magnetic CD (the digipack version, identical to the retail release)
Demo Magnetic CD
The Making of Death Magnetic DVD
Four imitation guitar picks (made of flimsy plastic, not actual guitar picks)
Backstage pass with lanyard
A card with a download code for a free show
Death Magnetic is, unfortunately, one of the most famous victims of the Loudness Wars. Why put time and effort into production only to drown it all out in the mastering? Apparently the version of Death Magnetic that was used in the video game Rock Band 3 was mastered “normally”, and is far better. This CD has punch though, I’ll give it that.
On its own the album is worth 4 stars. Mastering aside, It is an above-average collection of typical Metallica rockers. Gone are the nu-metal tendencies of St. Anger and that was the correct move. Clearly, Metallica were reaching back and trying to write riffs that sound like the late 80s and that’s also fine. Metallica are not Dream Theater. They do what they do, and they do it quite well.
Expect typical Metallica riffage, barking Hetfield vocals, the usual Lars drumming, some tasty solos from Kirk, and slamming bass from Robert. That is what Metallica do. It’s not a bad album and some of these songs are damned near as good as the old days. You’ll love “Broke, Beaten & Scarred”, “That Was Just Your Life”, and “The End of the Line”. A favourite song for sheer chorus reasons is “All Nightmare Long”. The demo version (called “Flamingo”) is also really decent.
If you’re a diehard Metallica fan, the kind who owns Fan Cans, then you’ll want this box set for the exclusive music. It’s sure to become a rare collectible.
The brightest always burn out the quickest. Audioslave lasted a mere five years but unleashed three albums in the same time most bands can only crank out one or two. It was a collaboration that bore sweet fruit. Ronnie James Dio used to say that when it came to collaborations, the first album was usually the best. That’s true of Audioslave.
Their first, self-titled album checks all the boxes: monster grooves, soaring vocals and wonky solos. Since it’s produced by Rick Rubin you know it’s gonna be loud. You can also count on a clear, big drum sound which Rubin achieves. At 14 tracks, the album is swollen, but despite its long runtime there is nary a dud.
There are some who, at the time at least, felt that Rage Against The Machine’s style of abnormally funky rap-metal could not be adapted to hard rock. They felt the fit between Chris Cornell and the Rage guys was forced and resulted in something that would only appeal to Soundgarden’s fans while alienating those of Rage. While there is a smidgen of truth to that assertion, Rage have proven time and again that they can pretty much do anything. No boundaries.
No tracks to skip, either, but some you may want to focus extra attention on. “Cochise” about the revered Indian warrior, has a groove that can crack concrete. Same with “Show Me How to Live” and “Gasoline”, heavier than the proverbial lead balloon, but infested with melodic vocals. Audioslave could even pull off slower material, though you’d be hesitant to call them “ballads”. “Like A Stone” is essential: precision, smoky rock crooning. The spare arrangement allows Chris’ vocals to make the impact, though the bass is certainly earth-moving. As if that wasn’t enough, Tom Morello’s solo combines his trademark noisy note-work with epic composition.
Despite the quality tracks before and after, the best may be the angry “Set It Off”. It slams. It’s closest to Rage’s anarchist tendencies. It’s just pissed off.
He was standing at the rock, Gathering the flock, And getting there with no directions, And underneath the arch, It turned into a march, And there he found the spark to set this fucker off.
A 14 track album this good could earn a 2000 word analysis, but we’ll save that for an inevitable deluxe edition. There are lots of B-sides and bonus tracks from this album that need to be properly collected into a set, like the download-only “Give”, a rhythmic little extra. Suffice to say, Audioslave is an essential album for anybody who ever liked rock music. There is a purity to it. As the liner notes say, “all sounds made by guitar, bass, drums, and vocals.” Even the weird squonky shit, so be ready for your mind and soul to be blown. Sit back and absorb it a while, because there’s a lot here to assimilate into your blood.
“Man Hunt” is Van Halen meets Iron Maiden; as bizarre as that concoction may sound is half as much as it is good! It’s EVH and DLR, “Back in the Village”, hunting for painted ladies. Blaze shows off some impressive pipes, but guitarist Jase Edwards showcases all the good things you can do with a speedily-played six-string. Dirty Blaze must have hooked up with a bird according to “Shakin'”, which takes the sound back into the pocket. A Dokken/Halen hybrid with a touch of sleaze, and certainly harder edged than what most American bands were doing in 1989. “Killing Machine” sounds a bit like a lost Van Halen demo from 1977 but with a 1980s heavy metal drummer instead of Big Al. There’s no break between it and “Fell Out of Heaven”, acting like one big multi-parted song. Blaze is on the make again, sounding like a big dirty Ian Astbury. Add in the absolutely blitz of “Money to Burn” and you have a definitive “lust” trilogy.
Side two opens with a punchy tune called “Greasy”, possessing an unholy scream that you wish they would have utilized in Maiden. “I Like It Hot” is the funny summer cruisin’ tune, one the most commercial song on the album that is decidedly not commercial. You can sing along to the terrific chorus on “All Or Nothing” but the blitzkrieg speed makes it clearly radio unfriendly. The only power ballad “Tears From a Fool” is harder edged with a long solo, uncompromised and remote. And with not even a breath’s break, “Pretty Baby” concludes this album-length treatise on picking up chicks in an accelerated manor.
The sonics of this Rick Rubin production are typically dry and crisp, but with an annoying snare drum sound that makes you question his hearing. He arranged some cool gang vocals with both melody and rawness, but Live Fast, Die Fast doesn’t have any special sonic qualities that scream “Rubin”.
Wolfsbane happened an interesting niche here. They blended the best aspects of American hard rock, tossed it with some heavy fucking metal, and a singer who didn’t sound like everyone else (with a dirty mind). It was dangerous and it was different.
THE FOUR HORSEMEN – Nobody Said it Was Easy (originally 1991 Def American, 2018 vinyl reissue with bonus tracks)
Though defunct for well over two decades, the Four Horsemen are like the gift that keeps on giving. When they bit the dust, all they initially left behind were two albums and an EP. Today there are a set of reissues with bonus tracks, live releases, and a “lost” second LP that was never released before. In 2018, another handful of unreleased tracks came to light on a brand new vinyl reissue of Nobody Said it Was Easy. This is the second reissue of the album now, the first (on CD) having three completely different bonus tracks (“She’s Got It”, “Homesick Blues (harmonica version)” and “Born to Boogie”). The vinyl replaces those with a bunch more you didn’t have.
First, about the album Nobody Said it Was Easy: We reviewed it back in 2016 and stand by every word. It was a shining beacon of rock n’ roll when it was in danger of drowning in a sea of grunge. Rick Rubin gave the album an edgy, loud and crisp sound. The band had a dirty vibe at odds with the Poisons and Motley Crues on the charts. And they boasted one of the greatest unsung frontmen ever: Frank C. Starr. A real life bad boy, there was nothing phony about Frank, nor any of the Four Horsemen. The nucleus was the man known as Haggis, ex-The Cult, ex-Zodiac Mindwarp. His slippy-slidey guitars melded perfectly with the southern soloing of Dave Lizmi. On bass was a chap named Ben Pape, but the secret weapon was drummer Kenneth “Dimwit” Montgomery. This mountain of a man, a Canadian punk rock veteran, had presence and a deep Bonham-like beat. The Four Horsemen couldn’t be touched by anyone in their field. The 12 songs that made up Nobody Said it Was Easy sound derived in equal parts from early AC/DC and the American South, with a healthy dose of sleazy intent.
“My name is Frankie, let’s fuck up the place!”
The three singles are flat-out indispensable. I wouldn’t want to live my life without “Rockin’ Is Ma Business” any more than I would want to live it without “Let There Be Rock”. “Tired Wings” is a greasy southern revelation, while the title track has more hooks than a tackle shop.
As an added bonus, this package also includes the first Four Horsemen EP, Welfare Boogie. It was available separately on a remastered CD with bonus tracks, but now you can get it on vinyl right here. The four EP songs were pretty high octane. “Hard Loving Man” remains a ridiculous highlight. Tattooed pecker indeed!
Onto the unreleased tracks, of which there are six: five songs and an interview. All of these are exclusive to this LP; nowhere else. The interview is a vintage road call from a humorous Haggis to a Calgary radio station, but it’s inconsequential at only 2:30 long. (My copy of the second LP has the sides labelled incorrectly.)
Check out the original open-G tuning of “Tired Wings”. It’s remarkable how changing the tuning made the difference between a good song and a great one. Now it’s timeless. Frankie did a completely different lead vocal on “’75 Again”, without the screaming (some of the guitar bits are missing too). I think I prefer the screaming version when you hear them side by side. An alternate version of “Can’t Stop Rockin'” is a different take, also without screaming (or backing vocals). These versions that didn’t make the original album are as well produced as the record, but ultimately it’s a matter of taste which you prefer. It’s certainly startling to hear different versions after this many years.
“The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down” is an instrumental, recorded Christmas Day 1991. This certainly foreshadows the direction the Four Horsemen would go on their “lost” second album, Daylight Again, which was more Band than AC/DC. Finally it’s an extended 8:32 live jam on “Can’t Get Next to You”, a non-album rarity. Another version can be found on the CD/DVD set, Left For Dead. Dave Lizmi really gets to cut loose on this.
It doesn’t really matter which version of Nobody Said it Was Easy you end up with. The original 12 track CD was 5/5 stars then and now, but which is best? The remastered CD gives you unreleased tracks exclusive to the format, so there’s that. This LP gives you even more, plus the original Welfare Boogie EP, but it is limited to just 500 copies. Better act fast before it’s too late.
“You know, Sean Connery was the best Roger Moore they ever had.” — Frank C. Starr
THE FOUR HORSEMEN – Left For Dead (1988-1992)(2005 CD/DVD set)
“Nobody said it was easy…and they were fucking right!”
The final review in this Four Horsemen series is a valuable live album/DVD set. The CD was put together from “a box of old tapes”, all from 1992 gigs (one of which was Toronto), and there are ample liner notes discussing the band’s history and the songs herein. It’s a brilliant live set, loaded with energy and Frank C. Starr’s unmistakable charisma. Every track sweats whiskey. With an opening one-two punch of “’75 Again” and “Moonshine”, you know you’re in for an action packed ride. “Moonshine” is particularly cool, because the album version featured an authentic over-the-phone lead vocal, but the live one is full-on. Throwing in a couple extra screams, Frankie added the icing on the cake. Man, we so miss Frank C. Starr.
It’s a noisy affair, which actually suits this band just fine. It’s appropriate that a Four Horsemen live album isn’t an overdubbed and glossed collection. What it sounds like is a live band in a tiny club. All three of the Horsemen’s singles are included in live form. The slide-drenched “Tired Wings” goes down a treat. “Nobody Said it Was Easy” and “Rockin’ is Ma Business” are both electrifying; the latter especially so. You don’t hear a singer with a voice like Frank’s very often. He had the grit, the power and the ability, wrapped up in a rock star-sized bottle of Jack. Frank Starr has to be one of the greatest unsung losses in modern rock.
And what a band behind him! There is a constant and very hard-hitting beat at the back, courtesy of the man-mountain Ken “Dimwit” Montgomery. According to the liner notes, Dimwit was a psychiatric nurse in addition to being a hell of a punk rock drummer. The name Dimwit was clearly a joke, but there is a dark side. The rigors of his work and the amount of care and emotion that went into it may have contributed to the depression and substance abuse that eventually took his life. It’s sad really, but thankfully these live recordings exist.
One non-album cut is included in this set, a slow raunchy one called “Can’t Get Next To You”. The AC/DC influences are obvious as this one is clearly in the musical mode of “The Jack”. The fans wouldn’t have known this song, but Frank wants to see how many people know the album. Introducing “Hot Head” he announces, “Let’s see if some of you fuckers actually went out and bought this shit!”…right before an equipment breakdown! And it’s all there, documented for history. Leaving in things like amp troubles makes for a more authentic listening experience.
All told, only two songs from the legendary first Four Horsemen record are not on the live CD: “Can’t Stop Rockin'” and “Homesick Blues”. Although unlisted, “I Need a Thrill” does contain the “Something Good” coda, just like the album. It’s even longer, with some absolutely consummate playing from lead guitarist Dave Lizmi. The low grade sound quality perhaps enhances the overall experience. This was a dirty rock and roll band and that’s how the live CD sounds. That seems right. With almost the entire first album plus an unreleased song, any Horsemen fan worth his or her salt should probably get their ears on this. But there is still the DVD to feast our eyes upon!
Interspersed with rare footage and interviews, you get all the original Horsemen music videos, starting with “Rockin’ is Ma Business”. The stark music video for “Nobody Said it Was Easy” is a previously unseen version with some risque shots. An interesting clip from MTV has the band mistakenly called “Four Horseman”. (Apparently it was Riki Rachtman’s first show. But then MTV got the name wrong on a later episode too! MuchMusic got it right though.) A rare live bootleg of “Hard Lovin’ Man” is audio garbage but video gold. “High School Rock and Roller” is a blast to watch, especially the moving mountain that was Dimwit on drums. There is big stage action from October ’91, opening for Lynyrd Skynyrd (“’75 Again” and “Rockin’ in Ma Business”). Perhaps most interesting are some rejected music videos that didn’t see the light of day. An early version of “Tired Wings” (with a pre-fame Kate Moss) is pretty crap and rightfully hated by the band. Better than this is a rare “Mexican version” of “Nobody Said it Was Easy”. The intro borrows liberally from “The Old Man Down the Road” by John Fogerty, but it’s cool watching the band mime in a hot dusty town in Mexico. Then there is a never before seen $2000 budget video for “Welfare Boogie” from the original EP. This video was rejected by MTV because the band were “too ugly”.
DVD special features are sparse but cool. There is an exclusive acoustic demo version of “Tired Wings”. What a different spin this is! In demo form it was a slow acoustic drawl, laid back with angelic band harmonies. The lyrics and melodies are identical but the arrangement is completely different. This is set to a nostalgic slide show of rare band photos. There is also a band commentary track for the main feature (Haggis, Dave Lizmi and Ben Pape). Lots of laughs, memories and anecdotes. And making fun of “Dave Lizmo’s” hockey stick-style guitar neck. Mostly they poke fun of each other’s clothes. It’s a lot of fun to hang out with the Horsemen. The audio commentary track is a highly recommended shambles.
The CD/DVD set can be ordered straight from the band, and it comes autographed. I think mine is signed by Haggis but I cannot be sure!
Giddy up! Part one of a five part Four Horsemen series this week at mikeladano.com!
THE FOUR HORSEMEN – Nobody Said it Was Easy (originally 1991 Def American, 2009 Anniversary Edition with bonus tracks)
1991’s Nobody Said it Was Easy was one of the greatest rock albums to ever come from the grunge decade that you’ve never heard of. The Four Horsemen were a multinational band, with Rick Rubin at the helm at the legendary Sound City studios, and one of the greatest rock star frontmen to ever grace the stage: the late Frank C. Starr.
There could only be one Frankie. But there was so much more to this band than just the singer.
There was Haggis, on rhythm guitar (ex-The Cult, formerly known as Kid Chaos). He lent the album an AC/DC edge with simple rock and roll riffs. Then there was Dave Lizmi, an uber-talented guitarist with a knack for classic tube-amp driven solos. On bass was Ben Pape who provided the album with interesting and melodic basslines. Finally, on drums, the man the myth the legend: Kenneth “Dimwit” Montgomery. A Canadian native as big as the mountains that spawned him, Dimwit was an absolute beast on the skins. His brother Charles Montgomery would change his name to Chuck Biscuits and join Danzig. Both brothers would spend time in the legendary Canadian punk band D.O.A. Sadly, Dimwit succumbed to drugs and died in 1995. What a gargantuan loss. (He later inspired the Horsemen track “Song for Absent Friends” from their second CD.)
This album was preceded by an impossible-to-find four song EP (since reissued), so when it was released on Def American, it was the first time most of us heard the Horsemen. And it was instant. With three unforgettable singles, the Horsemen kicked out the jams.
“Nobody Said it Was Easy” was a hell of an introduction. With a riff similar to those peddled by the Black Crowes a year before, but with a much harder edge, the track kicked every ass in the room. Get into the groove and enjoy, because the party is just starting. Frankie had a rock n’ roll voice, but when he let loose with his screaming, that’s when we knew he was special. Able to sing with a Brian Johnson shred, the Horsemen really had an ace in their pocket with him. Frankie was something else. He took no prisoners and without him, the Horsemen just didn’t sound like the Horsemen.
There aren’t breaks between the songs, so “Nobody Said it Was Easy” goes right into “Rockin’ is Ma Business”, the heavier second single. Louder, groovier and weightier, “Rockin’ is Ma Business” proves its point. “And if it’s so good why am I still fuckin’ broke?” asks Frankie before Lizmi rips into another solo. (That would be a question for the accountants, Frankie!)
The third (and some say the best) single was the slide-drenched “Tired Wings”. With a southern Skynyrd vibe, “Tired Wings” is simply awesome. I’m a sucker for a slide guitar, and there’s enough here to drown a cat. Haggis makes sure there is plenty to go around.
There could have been more singles, but the band hit the rocks when Frank was arrested and jailed for a year on drug charges. They were dropped by the record label, who stopped promoting the record. That effectively put the band on ice for several years, but that’s another tale for another review (or two).
T-Rev always pointed out the strength of the closing track, essentially two songs over eight minutes long, “I Need a Thrill/Somethin’ Good”. The song reeks of cigarettes, booze and tired hotel rooms. With organ and loads of Lizmi licks, it’s an epic track soaked in feeling. T-Rev pointed out that the Horsemen seemed to like closing their albums with slow bluesy epics like this. The next CD, Gettin’ Pretty Good…at Barely Gettin’ By has a similar track called “What the Hell Went Wrong”. Their long lost second album (finally available today) called Daylight Again closes with an 11 minute version of “Amazing Grace”. That’s the kind of track this is. It could only be an album closer.
This CD reissue has three bonus cuts from the original demo tapes. I didn’t really want to trade up my old original CD copy of this album, but these bonus tracks made it worth while. “She’s Got It” was written by Dimwit, and has a pure AC/DC riff like they used to write when Bon Scott was alive. “Born to Boogie” is a rare Starr co-write (with Haggis). This is a completely different song from the same-titled demo that was included on the EP reissue (Welfare Boogie). It has a completely different riff, which is good because the original one basically sounded like “New York Groove” by Ace Frehley. I prefer this version, the faster and more fun of the two. Finally there is a different version of “Homesick Blues”, featuring a harmonica part by Tim Beattie. The funny thing here is that Beattie later joined a reformed Horsemen as their lead singer! It is he that recorded Daylight Again, before yet another version of the band would form and start recording with Frankie up in Canada….
But again, that’s another story for another review. If you are one of the many rock fans who missed the Four Horsemen during their brief heyday, then this CD reissue makes the album easy to acquire. The important thing is to get it!*
“The internet’s cool for some stuff, but like many things, there’s no book store, there’s no music store, and there’s no Sound City.” — Josh Homme
SOUND CITY (2013 Roswell Films)
Directed by Dave Grohl
Uncle Meat persuaded me to see this movie, and I’m glad that he did. He said it wasn’t optional; that it was a must and that I would love it. So I bought it on Blu-ray, invited him over to co-review it with me, and we viewed it one afternoon after work in 5.1 surround. Needless to say, Sound City was good. So good that we never felt we could do it justice in a review, so I sat on my notes for over a year! Having recently re-watched Sound City (directed by Dave Grohl) with Mrs. LeBrain, now I can finally finish what Meat and I started last year.
Van Nuys, California. Sound City Studios, the legendary place where everybody who is anybody recorded. Nirvana? Check. Fleetwood Mac? Rick Springfield? Tom Petty? Check. Slipknot? Also check. Neil Young recorded much of After the Gold Rush there, after being enamored of the vocal sound that he got on “Birds”. Keith Olsen learned his craft there. It’s not much to look at on the outside: according to producer Butch Vig, it’s “kinda dumpy”. On the inside, there’s booze and cigarettes everywhere. Big room, huge floor. Lots of black magnetic tape.
Grohl narrates, personal anecdotes flow, then he steps out of the movie’s way. Grohl has a nice visual style, a combination of close ups and wide shots with plenty of details to look at. He infuses the movie with plenty of humour, sometimes at his own expense. The film has two phases: the first is a history lesson regarding the studio and the artists who created the hits there. The second consists of Dave purchasing the studio’s Neve board, moving it north to his own studio, and recording a brand new album with the same legendary artists. Pretty cool concept.
The huge Neve console was built like a “brick shithouse” (Keith Olsen), or a “tank” (Neil Young). Its original purchase price: bought for $75,175 in 1969 dollars. A nice house at the time cost around $30,000! The Neve was one of only four. Combined with the room itself at Sound City, the drum sound you can capture is incredible. The studio’s acoustics were not designed; it was a complete fluke. It was originally a box factory that happens to sound magical.
As for that Neve console, it is of course entirely analog. The one at Sound City was unique, considered the best sounding one. Rupert Neve tried to explain the electronics of it to Grohl in one of the movie’s more humourous scenes. The very first song recorded on that board was “Crying in the Night”, by Buckingham Nicks. This led directly to Mick Fleetwood hearing them while at the studio, and hiring not only the studio, but also Buckingham and Nicks! Essentially, the modern Fleetwood Mac formed right there at Sound City. The studio’s success really began with Rumours. Then, everyone wanted to record there. As for Tom Petty? It appears that Tom Petty pretty much spent his entire career at Sound City. In fact one of the coolest scenes was an old behind the scenes video from the 1990’s. Seeing Rick Rubin produce Tom Petty and being brutally honest was very interesting.
Rick Rubin to Tom Petty: “Sounds like you’re aiming a little lower today than you should be.”
Along came the compact disc, and the infancy of digital recording. Digital was the latest trend, and you could do new things with a computer that were harder to do on tape. Sound City suffered during this time, as newer rival studios were on trend. Sound City was dead…but one album helped resuscitate it: Nevermind. Then came Rage Against the Machine, Tool, Slayer, Kyuss. Analog tape and vintage equipment became popular again. Rick Rubin and Johnny Cash recorded Unchained there with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. Nine Inch Nails combined the old with the new, by bring in their own computers to record on ProTools along with the Neve.
Unfortunately ProTools was heavy competition, and working with tape was so difficult by comparison, that Sound City finally shut its doors. They just couldn’t pay the bills anymore, even after selling off their excess equipment. Then Dave bought the board. It is amazing to watch it taken apart, boxed up, reassembled and functioning in Seattle. Regarding the sale of the board, Grohl says, “I think they knew that I wasn’t just going to bubble wrap it, and stick it in a warehouse. I was gonna fuckin’ use it. A lot.”
On November 2, 2011, reassembly of the board began at Dave’s Studio 606. Then he invited all the original artists back to record a new album on it, produced by Butch Vig. Regarding Stevie Nicks, in a memorable moment Vig says, “Fuckin’ A, that girl can sing!” More artists arrive. The Foo Fighters plus Rick Springfield create a monstrous sound together, a neat amalgam of their respective genres. Lee Ving (Fear) is hilarious, and performs the fastest count-in of all time. I discovered a new respect for Trent Reznor, a guy who uses the technology to create original sounds, but desires the warmth of tape. It’s incredible to see him collaborate with Homme and Grohl. It’s the sound of humans communicating with instruments. And they wrote a pretty frickin’ cool song together. Then, watching Paul McCartney writing “Cut Me Some Slack” with the surviving members of Nirvana is a moment that I’m glad was frozen in time.
Grohl: “What can’t it always be this easy?”
McCartney: “It is.”
The blu-ray bonus features include three additional performances: “From Can to Can’t”, “Your Wife is Calling”, “The Slowing Down”. It was these bonus features that inspired Meat and I to add “Your Wife is Calling” (with Lee Ving) to our 2014 Sausagefest lists. Our votes allowed the song to clock in at #64. (The track was my #1.)
Sound City is a complete triumph of a music documentary. It is the kind of music documentary designed for serious fans, not just passers-by. I would welcome another movie directed by Dave Grohl with open arms.
BLACK SABBATH – 13(2013 Universal deluxe, Best Buy, and Spotify editions)
Last year, Uncle Meat gave us his detailed review of Black Sabbath’s 13. (His rating: 3.25/5 stars. Check out his full review for the scoop on the first CD of this metal monolith.) Having had almost a year to live with it myself, I think it’s time I got around to reviewing the songs he didn’t: the bonus tracks!
The deluxe and Best Buy editions have “Methademic,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Pariah.” “Methademic” is cool for being a fast-paced heavy rocker, something I associate more with a Dio kind of sound. It’s a good track, good enough that Sabbath play it live. Geezer’s got a serious groove going on with the bass part, and Brad Wilk is playing with furious drive. You wouldn’t consider this song to be as good as any on the first CD of 13, but it’s a great bonus track.
“Peace of Mind” is of equal quality to “Methademic.” This time Sabbath have gone back to doomy, but Ozzy’s vocal melody takes it to a special place. All it’s missing is that looseness that only Bill Ward could provide. It sounds so authentically Black Sabbath, but if you concentrate on the beat, you can hear that the loose swing of old is not there. Having said that I enjoy “Peace of Mind” very much, especially when it picks up after the 2:15 mark.
My favourite of this trio of songs is “Pariah.” It occupies a mid-paced groove which chugs along nicely. Tony has a couple cool riffs in it, but once again Ozzy’s vocal seals the deal. Tony’s guitar solo is icing on the cake. I love when he has a chance to slow down and play bluesy, as he does here.
Japanese fans, and Best Buy shoppers have their own exclusive bonus track, and it’s the one with the best title: “Naïveté in Black.” You have to love that. This smoker is similar to “Time Machine,” from Dehumanizer. I don’t know why a song this good was left to Best Buy, because it’s better than the other three. It’s definitely unique among the 13 songs for sounding more like Dio-Sabbath than Ozzy-Sabbath; perhaps that’s the primary reason. Count me as a big fan of “Naïveté in Black.”
Finally even Spotify have a bonus track, which is “Dirty Women,” live. This is with Tommy Clueftos on drums, from the same show as the recent Gathered In Their Masses live DVD (but not the CD). I am fortunate enough to have an excellent quality copy of the song burned to a CD, the perfect final bonus track to 13.
But that’s not all folks. With the deluxe box set edition, there’s a DVD as well. There is a brief documentary about the reunion and recording of the new album. There are quite a few humorous moments, but I do not consider this to be much of a bonus. All this stuff is available for free on youtube. I don’t value a physical copy of something like this as much as I value a physical copy of a song.
Fan – “I came all the way from Croatia!”
Ozzy – “Where the fuck is that?”
The deluxe set is large and very nice to look at, but I considered it sparse in terms of worthwhile goodies. There are lots of large glossy photos, but they’re not up to handling repeatedly. There’s a print of the “God Is Dead?” single art, a 2 CD set (minus “Naïveté in Black”), and 13 on double 180 gram vinyl LPs. Everything is lovely and fragile. There’s also far too much room in the box itself for everything, so things move around inside. That’s a bit of a design flaw just to save on some extra cardboard packaging.
The Best Buy set came with a T-shirt, which I have kept in-package. You can find pictures of both versions below.