rock and roll

REVIEW: Sultans of Ping F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex (2018 expanded edition)

SULTANS OF PING F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex (Originally 1993, 2018 Cherry Red expanded edition)

What an odd situation, when an extremely obscure album you spent years and years hunting for is reissued in a 2 CD deluxe expanded edition, and is sitting there in stock on the Canadian Amazon store.  17 bonus tracks (16 of which I’ve never heard before in my life) now sit alongside the core 12 album classics in my collection.  The world is a better place for it.

We reviewed Casual Sex in the Cineplex by the Sultans of Ping F.C. back in 2013, but it deserves another look now that it’s been expanded.

Casual Sex boasts a fun but snearing punky side, accompanied by hilarious shrieky lead vocals and lyrics to match.  Top this confection with an Irish accent and loud guitars!  Opener “Back in the Tracksuit” is a perfect example of this recipe: a blast of punk guitars & drums with the bizarrely catchy lead vocals of  Niall O’Flaherty.  Half the time, we couldn’t figure out what he was singing.  “Indeed You Are” sounds like he’s singing “Konichiwa!”  So that’s the way we sing it.

The relaxed poppier songs are just as good.  “Veronica” is a cute serenade with strings and harmonica.  Perhaps it’s inspired by early period Beatles, filtered through the Sultans’ own bedraggled lenses.  “2 Pints of Rasa” is in a similar spirit: a stroll through the park on a sunny Saturday afternoon “drinking with the guys”…and with strings!  In the lyrics, O’Flaherty proclaims to his girl of interest, “but I still like you, you are my ice cream.”  Write that one down for the next time you’re with your significant others.

A broadside shot of breakneck guitars kick off “Stupid Kid”.  The infectious chorus goes on for days.  “You’re stupid, S-T-U-P-I-D kid!”  I don’t think I’ve ever heard a more entertaining combination of snark and melody.  “Stupid Kid” is among the best tunes on the album.  “You Talk Too Much” is its twin brother, shrieks and surf-rock drums notwithstanding.

A rollicky bass intro kicks off “Give Him a Ball (And a Yard of Grass)”, and the body surfing begins!  You can’t hear what O’Flaherty is singing for most of it, but it hardly matters.  You can sing along as if you do, and nobody will notice.  The party has only one lull:  “Karaoke Queen” is OK, a little slack, but it is quickly followed by “Let’s Go Shopping”.   It’s another one of those sentimental Sultans numbers about, well, going shopping.  We always found the jubilant lyrics quite mirthful:

Put on your flip-flops and we’ll go shopping, dear
Put on your flip-flops, we’ll go flip-flopping, dear
You can buy crisps and I can buy jam,
You push the trolley, I’ll push the pram.

The sentiment stops there, since the next song is entitled “Kick Me With Your Leather Boots”!  That means you can count on brisk, boisterous shenanigans.  As a bonus, the lyrics planted the seed for me to seek out Schaffner’s bizarre conspiracy movie The Boys From Brazil.  “Clitus Clarke” approaches being skip-worthy, but who cares since the final song is our favourite, “Where’s Me Jumper?”

My brother knows Karl Marx
He met him eating mushrooms in the public park
He said ‘What do you think of my manifesto?’
I like your manifesto, put it to the testo.

This album would be worth buying just for the one song.  “Dancing at the Disco, bumper to bumper,” but then disaster!  “Wait a minute — where’s me jumper?!”  Niall goes on to complain that “It’s alright to say things can only get better.  You haven’t lost your brand new sweater.”  True, true.  “My mother will be so, so angry.”  But it’s impossible not to grin ear to ear like a gleeful hooligan by the end of it.

For years the original 12 tracks were all we had.  Later Sultans albums could be found in the wild, but T-Rev always said the fun wasn’t there.  He even found the single for “You Talk Too Much” which had “Japanese Girls” on the B-side.  Nothing to him was as essential as the first album, which is easy to listen to end-to-end and then do all over again.  Which is usually the way we listened to it.

How does adding 17 rarities change the listening experience?

Not badly, as it turns out.  The bonus CD is only a punky 42 minutes long so it never becomes an exercise in testing patience.  Seeing that information about this band is scarce already, it’s impossible to know how “complete” the bonus CD is with rarities.  It seems to compile Sultans EP and single B-sides from 1991 to 1993.  Other Sultans deluxe editions are out there comprising the later albums.

None of the bonus tracks are as indispensable as disc one, but that’s not the point.  A blast of a time will still be had, with more of the same sound that endeared us to the band in the first place.  There’s an early version of “Stupid Kid” from a 1991 EP, and a live recording of “Indeed You Are” from a 1993 EP called Teenage Punks.  “Miracles” (from 1991) adds a hint of the Ramones to the stew.  B-side “I Said I Am I Said” is fun like the album and makes a fine addition.  Check out “Robo Cop”, and the live track “Football Hooligan” for a couple more songs that are hard to resist.  Some, like “Turnip Fish” are just weird and more like early Alice Cooper.

Great to have more early Sultans, all in one place.  Get yours.

 

4.8/5 stars

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Intermission: Mail Call!

The mailman has been busy this last week or so.  Just look at the goodies!

LED ZEPPELIN – “Rock and Roll” / “Friends” Record Store Day single

DEF LEPPARD – Live at Abbey Road Studios 12″ Record Store Day EP

RAINBOW – Memories in Rock II Japanese CD – 2 bonus tracks

STRYPER – God Damn Evil Japanese CD – bonus track

STEPH HONDE – Covering the Monsters 

DALE SHERMAN – Mel Brooks FAQ: All That’s Left to Know About the Outrageous Genius of Comedy books – one for me, one for my dad’s 80th birthday!  SHHH don’t tell.  He doesn’t read this!

 

 

 

 

 

REVIEW: Led Zeppelin – “Rock and Roll” / “Friends” (2018 RSD remix single)

Unreleased Led Zeppelin?!  You don’t say!

LED ZEPPELIN – “Rock and Roll” / “Friends” (2018 Atlantic Record Store Day single)

The hype for Record Store Day exclusives is as strong as ever, but most of these releases are just empty cash grabs.  Coloured vinyl reissues of this, that or the other thing…nothing will compete with a mint original.  Sometimes you’ll see vinyl releases for albums that used to be exclusive to CD, but rarely will you be able to buy exclusive music.

Led Zeppelin saw to it that your Record Store Day dollars did not go to waste.

And as if you thought Led Zeppelin had “cleared the vaults” of unreleased material!  Here’s two more unheard mixes.  These cannot be found on the Zeppelin deluxe editions.  If you’ve collected all those already, then prepare to add two more tracks to your collection.  This is a pretty clear indication that Jimmy Page is not finished dusting off old tapes to sell.

There are no liner notes to explain when these mixes were done or by whom, but “Rock and Roll” was mixed at Sunset Sound.  Alternate mixes are fun for a fresh sound on an old favourite.  You can hear different nuances.  “Rock and Roll” has a nice clear heavy sound and maybe a little more echo.  “Friends” (from Olympic Studios) has a harsher sound, with the percussion part prominent in the mix.  The old intro is trimmed off in favour of a clean start with the acoustic guitar.

The yellow vinyl is a gorgeous bonus.  Add it to your Zep treasure chest.

4/5 stars

 

Thanks to Mr. James for picking this up for me.  You are a true gentleman, with a creepy Facebook avatar.

#629 / REVIEW: Oasis – The Red and The Blue

GETTING MORE TALE #629:  The Red and The Blue

It was the second of April, 1973. EMI released two Beatles compilations simultaneously, the “greatest hits” to end all greatest hits. They were double albums, split up by era. Hence the titles 1962-1966, and 1967-1970.  Nobody refers to them as such.  Due to their packaging, fans simply call them the Red and the Blue albums.

This story is not about those albums.

Of course, some cheeky bootlegger used a similar gimmick when compiling up all of Oasis’ B-sides and non-album tracks back in the late 1990s.  The earliest rarities were lumped together on The Red Album 93-94.  Everything beyond was on The Blue Album 94-96.  The CDs had matching artwork and back covers that boasted “A complete and global anthology of non-album tracks”.  And for the period, that seems to be generally true!

When I first got into Oasis, they already had plenty of singles and B-sides out there.  Collecting them all was an intimidating prospect.  Oasis singles were always chock loaded with quality unreleased songs.  Unlike most artists, Oasis’ Noel Gallagher insisted that their B-sides were as good as album tracks.  And they were — often better.   My Record Store cohort T-Rev had a complete collection of singles, but was still missing a few other rare songs.  While at a record show, we found the Oasis Red and Blue CDs.  At $30 a pop they were still cheaper than trying to collect all the Oasis singles, with the added bonus of the songs T-Rev was missing!  They were recorded for him immediately of course.

T-Rev preferred the Creation Records singles, which were the UK printings.  My bootlegs were interesting to him, but not something he would spend money on.  When I moved into his apartment for a few months in ’98, he could listen to my bootlegs whenever he wanted to anyway.  He knew I was fussy about the handling of my music, and he was as well, so we could easily trust each other with our collections.  It was a very easy situation because we both had total respect for each other’s music.

The two songs he didn’t have (yet) were only available in two official capacities.  “Sad Song” was exclusive to the vinyl and Japanese versions of Definitely Maybe.  Similarly, “Bonehead’s Bank Holiday” was exclusive to the same formats of (What’s the Story) Morning Glory.  Neither of us had heard these songs before.  What a joy to find that they were as extraordinary as the rest of Oasis’ B-sides.

Several other rarities couldn’t  have been found just by collecting the regular Oasis CD singles.  A demo of “Cigarettes and Alcohol” came from somewhere else, likely a compilation.  The second version of “Fade Away” on the Blue Album with Noel singing was from a Warchild charity CD.  A demo of “Some Might Say”, and the Beatles cover “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” (lead vocals by Noel) were only on Japanese CD singles.  These songs have since been reissued on official Oasis releases, but at the time, the value they added to these bootlegs was immense.

Still, a bootleg is never as good as an original.  Sound is a problem on a couple tracks.  “Up in the Sky”, “Sad Song” and “Whatever” have volume issues.  There are also cute track-listing errors.  “Round Are Way” is amusingly “corrected” to “Round Our Way”.

Oasis have done a commendable job of deluxe edition album reissues.  Their first three albums have all been given triple disc deluxe CD upgrades.  That renders the Red and the Blue bootlegs largely obsolete.  There is only one song on the Blue Album that can’t be found on one of the deluxe Oasis reissues, and that is “Fade Away”, the Warchild version.  It can, however, be found on the B-side to Oasis’ 1998 single “Don’t Go Away”.

There is some truly remarkable music on these CDs that make their occasional listening a recurring pleasure.  Even some of the primitive early material like “Alive” and “I Will Believe” have true spark.  By the time you get to the more polished side of Oasis, like “Whatever”, you’ve already been treated to a number of early Oasis classics.  Live and alternate versions of “Columbia”, “Bring it On Down”, “Up in the Sky”, and “Supersonic” represent the best of Oasis’ early material.  There is also the love-it-or-hate-it extended live workout of “I Am the Walrus”, all 8:20 of it.

The Blue Album is a consistently brilliant listen.  So many incredible single-quality originals:  “Acquiesce”, “Round Are Way”, “Step Out”, and “The Masterplan”.  Any of these could have stormed the charts as an A-side.  “Bonehead’s Bank Holiday” is decent too, though it sounds a bit of drunken fun.  There are also the terrific covers of “Cum on Feel the Noize” and “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”.

At the time, circa 1997, it was easy to justify paying a combined $60 for these two albums.  T-Rev’s friend Paul “Geeza” thought they were pretty neat.  Geeza was from England, and he visited Canada in the summers.  T-Rev befriended him via the store.  When he was back in Canada, he came over to the apartment and looked over our awesome CD collections.  He was all over my Red and Blue albums.  I made sure Geeza knew how I liked to take care of my stuff.  He was respectful but teasing.

I had to go out.  When I got back, Geeza and T-Rev were gone, but a note was left behind.

It was from Geeza.  He teased that he took my Oasis CDs!

We lived in such a small place, they weren’t hard to find.  I think the Red Album was under my pillow.  The other CD took longer.  It was just in good fun.  I was probably pissed off for a minute or five, but who cares now?  I get the joke now.  Living with me must have been a little like living with Sheldon Cooper.

If a guy like Geeza, who was an absolutely madman for Oasis, was interested in the Red and Blue albums, maybe you should keep an eye open for them too.  Don’t pay $30 each, but consider adding these eye-catchers to your collection.

OASIS – The Red Album 93-94
OASIS – The Blue Album 94-96

They’d have been 5/5 stars in 1997.  In 2017…

3/5 stars

REVIEW: Arkells – High Noon (2014)

ARKELLS – High Noon (2014 Universal)

Thank rock and roll for new bands like the Arkells!  I’ve been happily enjoying their singles for years.  I really fell in love when I saw the Hamilton band open the 2017 NHL Awards.  A starstruck Max Kerman (vocals) gleefully fist-bumped with Wayne Gretzky.  I knew I had to get one of their albums.  On vinyl!  I chose their 2014 release High Noon to be my first Arkells, for its unforgettable single “Leather Jacket”.

Kerman managing to keep his shit together on national TV with The Great One

High Noon was a sound choice.  “Leather Jacket” has been an earworm for a long time.  High Noon also has another sterling single, “Come to Light”.  Its basis is similar to Bowie’s “Modern Love”.  While there is no mistaking the year, the Arkells put a slick 80s slant on these songs.  Whether it’s in the beats or the keyboards, there is a love of 1980s rock here on High Noon.

There are numerous highlights and few forgettable ones.  Album opener “Fake Money” has a strong piano riff, a classic U2 vibe, and an anti-corporate attitude.  One of the catchiest, more summer-y fun tracks is ironically “Cynical Bastards”.  Good time upbeat rock with solid beats to shake your butt to!  “11:11” is primed for dancing .  Everyone will pick out their own favourites, because there aren’t any poor songs on this wax.  Check out “Crawling Through the Window” for a slower tune with all the integrity intact, or the strange Disco hop of “Systematic”.

A band can make or break based on the lead singer.  I really like the expressive and sincere singing style of Max Kerman.  He stands out from first listen.  It’s hard to say exactly what makes him stand out, but he certainly does.  A band to watch.

4.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Big Ones (1994)

AEROSMITH – Big Ones (1994 Geffen)

There is an informal rule that a band should have at least three albums out before they entertain the idea of a live or “greatest hits” release.  Aerosmith obviously had lots of albums out in 1994, but on two different labels:  Columbia, and Geffen.  Their 1994 best of, not-so-cleverly titled Big Ones, drew from only three Geffen albums.  Therein lies its weakness, though Aerosmith have often had issues trying to balance their classic and pop hit eras on compilations.  Big Ones is easily made redundant by later compilations, but how is it for a straight listen?

A long one:  73 minutes with lots of hits and perhaps a few too many ballads, although there is no denying their chart power.

Three songs were new to the majority of buyers.  “Deuces Are Wild” was a fine ballad, one of their best from this era.  It wasn’t entirely new; it was written for Pump and considered for Get A Grip before being released in 1993 on the Beavis and Butt-head Experience CD.  The other two were brand new recordings:  “Walk on Water” and “Blind Man”.  Fans who dug the heavy Aerosmith on tunes like “Eat the Rich” will enjoy “Walk on Water” as one of their harder rockers.  OK song, but long forgotten now.  Unfortunately “Blind Man” is just another ballad, this one similar to “What It Takes” from Pump.  It’s the better of the two new songs, but sadly another ballad is not what Big Ones needed.

Making this CD even less valuable to buyers, every single track is on the later album Young List: The Aerosmith Anthology (2001).   Even the three new songs!

Otherwise Big Ones plays much like a run-though of Aerosmith’s radio staples that you can hear on the FM dial just about everywhere.  Each and every big hit from the three massive Geffen albums is here.  How often do you need to hear “Crazy”, “Cryin'”, “Amazing”, “Janie”, “Rag Doll”, “Angel”, “Dude”, “Elevator” and the rest?  That is up to you.

Even the cover art is devoid of imagination.

2/5 stars

#561: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

GETTING MORE TALE #561: (What’s the Story) Morning Glory?

In November 1995 I was going through another breakup.   A big one — my first really serious girlfriend.  After some soul-searching, I thought this would be a good time to expand my horizons a bit, including musically.  By 1995, heavy metal music was not doing well.  It was on life support.  I wanted to check out other forms of rock and roll.

Working at the Record Store was the perfect environment for exploration.  Christmas 1995 featured a lot of store play for Oasis, who my co-working buddy T-Rev was a huge fan of.  Their new album (What’s the Story) Morning Glory? was beginning to take off.  It also appealed to a metal head like me.  It had a bit of everything:  rockers, ballads, and hooks.  It was a breath of fresh air, and loud as fuck.  Grunge bands had dominated and carried with them cloudy skies for the early 90s.  Oasis brought back fun aspects of rock and roll, and were right in synch with the Beatles resurgence happening at the same time with the Anthology series.  Oasis were almost a poor man’s Beatles.

I mean, they really wanted to be The Beatles, didn’t they?

I got to listen to the CD a lot in store, but we had a long waiting list for used copies. Because of that it would be a few months before I was able to get my own copy of Morning Glory.  T-Rev was on top of things, and had been collecting Oasis singles.  Oasis had a knack for B-sides, and often saved their best tunes for singles.  This was rare; in 1995 it was unheard of to save good songs for single B-sides.  Oasis didn’t care and did it anyway.  My first Oasis purchase was actually the CD single for “Don’t Look Back in Anger”.  T-Rev made sure it was stocked, even though we rarely stocked any singles.

So “Don’t Look Back in Anger” was my first Oasis purchase ever.  Buying a new copy of the single was more expensive than buying a used copy of the album, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.  I dug the piano part ripped from John Lennon, and the bright melody with a hint of shade.  It really felt like an homage to the Beatles.  And the B-sides weren’t half bad either.  “Step Out” and “Underneath the Sky” were both top notch songs each with their own flavour.

The track that really sold the single for me was “Cum on Feel the Noize”.  T-Rev asked, “Why would they cover that song?”  I explained it was originally by Slade, not Quiet Riot.  Oasis’ version is more authentic to the Slade original.  The song was a perfect bridge between my heavy metal past and my Oasis present.

Oasis quickly became my favourite “new” band in 1996.  That was the year that we opened up the branch of the Record Store that I managed.  I thought Oasis would be a good band for store play, and while some customers enjoyed that, no staff members did.

Oasis did their part to keep the single alive in the 1990s.  They issued box set after box set, re-releasing their old singles to those who missed them the first time.  The coolest of these were the “silver” and “gold” boxes.  They were plastic hard-shell box sets, one for the Definitely Maybe singles and one for Morning Glory.  They included an interview disc (same one in both boxes) and made it easy to get caught up on Oasis’ CD singles.

These were good times.  Though a breakup with a girl was the trigger, Oasis was the remedy.  Some songs, like “Cast No Shadow” had me wallowing in my own pity, but it was hard not to feel good things with “She’s Electric” and “Roll With It”.  For that reason, although there may be better Oasis albums, What’s the Story remains the most personal to me.

TOP FIVE REASONS TO LIKE OASIS:

5) Lars says it’s OK .

4) They had a member (Paul “Guigsy” McGuigan) who looked like Mr. Bean.

3) Noel frequently refers to Liam derisively as “our kid”.

2) Wibbling Rivalry

1) Liam Gallagher’s unibrow.

MOVIE REVIEW: Accidental Courtesy (2016)

ACCIDENTAL COURTESY (2016 PBS)

Directed by Matthew Ornstein

I’ve done it, and you have probably done it too:  Getting in an argument online with a total stranger over racially charged politics.  We live in new times.  It’s the era of Trump, Trayvon, and Mike Brown.  We live in the years of racial profiling and travel bans.  Just when we think we’ve made amazing strides including the first black US president, we seem to be heading backwards just as fast.

Daryl Davis is a musician.  Most notably, he was the keyboardist in Chuck Berry’s band.  He’s played with B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Jerry Lee Lewis, the Platters, and knows all the greats.  He’s a very talented but also intelligent and compassionate man.  Upon watching Accidental Courtesy, I wondered if music really is his first calling.  It seems that Davis’ true talents may just be sitting down and talking.  “When two enemies are talking, they’re not fighting,” says Daryl.

Although this movie is about a musician, it’s not about the music.  Music does play a small role.  The first time Davis experienced race-related hate, he was the only black child in an otherwise white marching band, and didn’t understand why things were thrown at him.  He thought, maybe they were playing the music poorly.  His parents had to explain to him, “They don’t like you because of the colour of your skin.”  Life was never the same after that.

Accidental Courtesy isn’t about his music career, but about what Daryl Davis has done with the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists.  Since 1990, Davis has sat with various members of the KKK, both high ranking and rank-and-file.  Very few people can rival Davis for his knowledge of the Klan’s history and practices, so much so that Klan members have even approached him to learn.  Over long periods of time, after truly and sincerely befriending Davis regardless of his race, 26 Klansmen eventually turned in their robes to him and gave up the Klan.

It’s bizarre to see men who don’t believe in the mixing of races show up at Davis’ wedding to a white woman, to celebrate with him.  His friendship with them trumped their belief system.  It’s strange to see a black man invited into a KKK home, and vice versa.  It’s certainly unusual to see a fully robed KKK wizard sitting and shaking hands with a black man, simply enjoying conversation and company.

In the film, Davis also sits with the Southern Poverty Law Center, who seem less moved by his “person to person” method of combating hate.  They prefer to use a bigger stick.  What was surprising is how much flak he took from representatives from Black Lives Matter in Baltimore.  Here, he was mocked by two dropout activists for “only” converting 26 KKK members since 1990.  What was especially shocking was that the Black Lives Matter reps refused to continue to the conversation.   To them, he was worse than a white racist; to them he betrayed the cause.  All these white supremacists were willing to sit down and shake hands with Davis, but Black Lives Matter gave him the most difficult time.  They actually got up from the table and berated and belittled him before cutting the conversation off completely.  He was even treated with more respect by the KKK leader who refused to acknowledge the holocaust and said that blacks should be grateful to whites for freeing them.  It’s troublesome to think on what that means.

Certainly not everyone approves of the methods of Daryl Davis.  But in this day and age of social media, it’s more important than ever to talk.  Not online, not on Facebook, Daryl advises.  In person, where people can get to know each other, see each others faces and expressions, actually get to know one another.  Talk to each other, instead of talking at each other.  In this film, Davis asks questions, but rarely lectures.  Davis’ technique is simply to ask what makes people tick.  “How can you hate me when you don’t know me?” is a good opener.  He finds out what makes them think the way they do.  There is always more to the story than appears on the surface.  There is always a root cause.

Some felt Daryl did more harm that good with his methods.  Some feel he has betrayed his own people.  But, as Daryl says in the film, whites and blacks and people of all races must share America together.  That’s why we have to talk and figure out how to co-exist.  If he could convince an Imperial Wizard to hang up his robes, that is one small step to making the world a better place.  Black Lives Matter and the Southern Poverty Law Center have their own methods.  That does not negate the inroads that Davis made, just by talking.

There doesn’t seem to be much accidental about Daryl Davis’ courtesy.  It’s all very much on purpose.  Davis has a rich tapestry of friends behind him, some of whom have given up on hate.  If they can, why can’t everybody?

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Aerosmith – Just Push Play (2001 import version with bonus track)

scan_20170109AEROSMITH – Just Push Play (2001 Sony, includes bonus track “Face”)

“I don’t think we’ve made a decent album in years. Just Push Play is my least favorite.” – Joe Perry

The sad and depressing fact of the matter is, Aerosmith could have retired long before Just Push Play, and we would have lost nothing terribly valuable.  They’ve pandered for hits before, but never as blatantly contrived as Just Push Play.  It’s an embarrassing state of affairs that deserves every inch of scorn we’re about to unload upon it.

Hi-tech digital tracks written and produced with outsiders make up Just Push Play, a weak attempt to be young hip and cool when Aerosmith were anything but. Look at the sleek haircuts in the band photo. Only Joe Perry appears to know what band he’s in. The album was recorded with sterility. At no time were all five members in the studio together, according to Joe, and that’s exactly how it sounds.

If their heads weren’t in the clouds (coming off their biggest hit single ever) they might have made a rock album.  “Beyond Beautiful” is a close imitation, a robotic and stiff carbon copy.  Ballads like “Fly Away From Here” sound as if faxed in from the office.  These blatant attempts to repeat past glories are among the most offensive on Just Push Play.  It is true that one of Aerosmith’s first hits (“Dream On”) was a ballad.  That was a long time ago and a long way from being flat broke and banging out a song in the middle of the night on a piano.  These new ballads like “Luv Lies” and “Sunshine” are written specifically by hitsmiths in order to appeal to people who would not normally buy an Aerosmith CD.  The result is that they appeal to nobody.

As bland and unappealing as these forgettable ballads are, none are as offensive as the title track “Just Push Play”.  Nobody asked Aerosmith to do a rasta-hip-hop track.  The Run-DMC version of “Walk This Way” is the definitive Aero-rap, a masterpiece of serendipity and cutting edge ambition.  Aerosmith thought it was necessary to revisit that sound 15 years later, and once again the result is a blurry facsimile that pales in comparison.

“Jaded”, the first single, is a great Aero-hit, one of the few from this era of co-writers and collaborators.  Fortunately you don’t have to buy the album to get it, as there was a five track EP you could buy instead.  If you go that way, you can still enjoy a couple different versions of the charismatic single.  “Jaded” had the kind of chorus that Aerosmith used to be able to write in their sleep, but now apparently need help to do.

There were different bonus tracks for different regions.  US and Canada got nil, but Europe got “Face” while Japan received “Won’t Let You Down” and a bunch of other stuff including five live tracks from 1978 (California and Texxas Jams).  That 2 CD Japanese edition might be worth tracking down for the bonus material, but “Face” remained exclusive to Europe.  Is it worth it?  Actually…it might be.  “Face” is an acoustic track that sounds a bit like a B-side.  It’s closest to “Jaded” in sound, and sounds looser than most of the rest of the album.  It’s certainly not going to become a lost favourite, but if you find a copy at the right price, consider it.

Just Push Play deserves the dreaded Flaming Turd.

FLAMING TURDS

1/5 stars

REVIEW: The Four Horsemen – Death Before Suckass (2012)

scan_20161216THE FOUR HORSEMEN – Death Before Suckass – Live at Saratoga Winners (2012)

“No edits.  No overdubs.  No bullshit.”  No kidding!  There also also no frills, just seven songs and 30 minutes of rock and roll.

Death Before Suckass, recorded fall 1991, sounds like a crowd recording.  You can tell by the douchebag talking before the Horsemen’s set.  “You should see our drum kit!  It fuckin’ blows that one away!  $5000 Yamaha…”  Whoop-de-do, fucko.  Because no matter how much your kit costs, I doubt you could hammer on it as hard as Ken “Dimwit” Montgomery did on his.

Dimwit swiftly kicks things into motion, with “75 Again”, a screamy rocker that is about 9 out of 10 on the AC/DC scale of kickass.  Lead singer Frankie Starr’s voice was primed for screaming, and could do it better than most.  Without even a pause, “Hothead” follows up.  In a groove now, lead guitarist Dave Lizmi greases up his Gibson and lays down some beautifully fluid solo work.  In the realm of heavy bluesy rock and roll, few can touch Dave Lizmi.  Then rhythm guitarist Haggis takes out his slide for the single “Tired Wings”, soaking it in whiskey stained blues.  Frankie’s charismatic singing shares the spotlight with the biting licks.

frank-c-star-biting-licks

A non-album track that used to get some live play was “Can’t Get Next to You”, an AC/DC blues a-la “The Jack”.  There is a sloppy edit into “Wanted Man” but as Haggis says in the liner notes, there is nothing perfect about this CD.  “Wanted Man” comes close, with Lizmi again doing some really impressive playing on the six string.  The most familiar songs are the singles “Nobody Said it Was Easy” and “Rockin’ is Ma Business”.  The beat is a little faster, a little more intense for the stage.  The only tragedy is the fidelity of this CD does not capture the thunder.  You can hear it on the stage, but you cannot feel it shake the floor.  Too bad, because you can be assured it all but certainly did shake the floor.

And this leads to a quandry.  This album is packaged intentionally minimalist.  It suits the recording inside.  But it has hard to ignore that what is recorded inside is only 30 minutes, and costs $18 US plus shipping.  Yes, it definitely costs The Four Horsemen a lot to press up these independent discs, and they surely don’t make a lot of money on them.  Still, it is hard for the cash-strapped fan to justify that kind of money, unless you are a superfan.  And unfortunately, it is likely that only superfans will be able to appreciate Death Before Suckass as the valuable noisy treasure that it is.

3.5/5 stars

scan_20161216-2

COMPLETE FOUR HORSEMEN REVIEW SERIES:

1. NOBODY SAID IT WAS EASY (21ST ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
2. GETTIN’ PRETTY GOOD…AT BARELY GETTIN’ BY (1996)
3. WELFARE BOOGIE (21ST ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
4. DAYLIGHT AGAIN (21ST ANNIVERSARY EDITION)
5. LEFT FOR DEAD (1988-1992) (CD/DVD SET)