sean kelly

Killer Scotch on the Rocks debut with Greg Fraser, Andy Curran and Sean Kelly

Congratulations Deke on an historic first episode of Scotch on the Rocks!

All you need to know is Andy Curran and Sean Kelly both dropped by for an episode that you could have called “This Is Your Life Greg Fraser”.  The Storm Force guitarist dropped tons of knowledge and great stories.  Musicians:  watch this episode.

 

REVIEW: Lee Aaron – Radio On! (2021)

LEE AARON – Radio On! (2021 Metalville)

With a long career travelling landscapes of rock, jazz and metal, Lee Aaron has returned on CD with 12 new tracks that represent some of her best work to date.  It’s called Radio On! and it’s an apt title.  These are radio-ready tunes built for summer purposes.  For best results, roll down those windows and hit the highway with Lee Aaron on your deck, loud.

Lee’s band with whom she wrote and recorded Radio On! include Sean Kelly on guitar, Dave Reimer on bass, and John Cody on drums.  With a guy like Kelly contributing licks, you know you can count on some smokin’ guitar hooks and that’s exactly what you get on opener “Vampin'”.  Hard hitting, but constructed with melody in mind.  Lee is one of those artists for whom time has not passed.  As she’s explored genres other than rock, she’s only gotten better and that shows on “Vampin'”.  It belies the jazz records in her discography, but make no mistake, this is rock!  Kelly’s solo break ensures it.

A collection of vintage-sounding riffs on the mid-tempo “Soul Breaker” lend it a melodic base.  Lee uses that to springboard into hook after hook.  Future classic potential.  A memorable solo is like a maraschino cherry on top.  Things turn slightly pop-punk on “C’Mon”, a brilliant single that will be lighting up stereos all summer long.  Check out John Cody’s cool drum pattern and the jabbing stun-gun melodies that Lee delivers.

A diverse album this is, with “Mama Don’t Remember” sounding like a rocked-up roadhouse blues.  You can picture a band playing this number in a seedy bar with dusty beams of light leaking through the walls.  Then it’s the title track and the memorable hook “I wanna die with the radio on”.  Me too, Lee!

“Soho Crawl”, backed by bouncy piano, rocks pretty hard in a different direction.  Another road is explored on the dark “Devil’s Road”, with bass leading the way.  Burning slow, laden with some of Lee’s finest words, “Devil’s Road” has the potential to be the kind of song that makes an album immortal, like a “Black Velvet”.

Picking up the pace, “Russian Doll” has the “Radar Love” rocking boogie, while Lee belts line after line of sticky sweet vocal candy.  Kelly dives right into parts unknown for the wicked solo.  Live, this is the song that will get people up and dancing.  But this album doesn’t linger in the same places too long, and so the mid-tempo “Great Big Love” takes a different road.  Opposites attract in the lyrics, and the music leaves lots of room for Lee to do her thang.  Her lyrics just keep getting better.  “It all comes down to chemistry, the science is in babe and science don’t lie.”  There’s a swing and a country feel to it.

“Wasted” goes to dark territory.  Serious subject matter, but wrapped gently in some of the most beautiful music Lee Aaron’s ever sung.  All before it explodes punkily in the middle for a rousing chorus.  Shifting into a funk groove, “Had Me at Hello” has some wicked rhythm.  Lee’s playful words are an instrument to their own as the band jams on.

Finally closing on a piano ballad, Radio On! feels like a journey.  The last leg is “Twenty One” which is likely to take you back in time.  “Always in my mind, I’m 21.”  It’s a vocal tour-de-force, ending an album full of ’em.

It’s worth celebrating any time a beloved artist from our past puts out a truly great album these days.  For it to be one of the best albums of their career, that’s something very special.  Respect to Mike Fraser for another perfect mix.  Summer 2021 just gained another mainstay for its soundtrack.

4.5/5 stars

 

 

Sunday Screening: Trapper – “The Warrior”

This week we had Sean Kelly on the LeBrain Train. In order to highlight one of his many fun works, here is his version of “The Warrior” performed by Trapper with Emm Gryner on lead vocals.  The classic Scandal cover features a great guitar solo — a “composition within a composition” as Sean might say.  Check it some Trapper!

Sean Kelly Rocks the LeBrain Train

No preamble needed here! Just sit back, grab a drink and enjoy the entire 1:45 chat with Sean Kelly below. We tackled just about every project he’s ever been in, from Lee Aaron to Helix to Trapper to Coney to Crash Kelly, 69 Duster, Nelly Furtado, and more.  What’s this about Motley Crue figures?  And hear about the new upcoming Coney Hatch Live in Germany LP, Lee Aaron’s new tunes, and a hell of a lot more.

Sean’s enthusiasm for music and especially rock and roll is contagious.

The interview with Sean begins at the 0:17:30 mark.  Tune in and enjoy!

 

A big thanks to Sean for taking his time to talk to us, and also to Deke for hooking this one up.  You guys rock.

Happy long weekend, Canada!

 

Sean Kelly boards the LeBrain Train, Friday at 7:00 PM!

The LeBrain Train: 2000 Words or More with Mike and Deke

Episode 65 – Sean Kelly!

Sean Kelly is a busy guy!  He was in fact one of the very first guests to agree to come on the show, back before we had even done anything notable.  We finally got him on the schedule just in time to celebrate two new albums.  One is Lee Aaron’s upcoming Radio On, with its insanely catchy debut single “Cmon”!   The other is Coney Hatch’s brand new Live at the El Mocambo.  As if that wasn’t enough, he recently worked on a new Helix song called “Not My Clowns, Not My Circus”.  Did I mention he’s a busy guy?

Additionally, Kelly is known for his work with Crash Kelly, Trapper, and 69 Duster  You might also be familiar with his collaborations with Gilby Clarke, Nelly Furtado, Emm Gryner, and Carole Pope.  As if that wasn’t enough to do, he also plays classical.  On the side, he put together an EP to go with a book he wrote called Metal On Ice!  Will we have time to ask him about all this activity?  We’ll try!

Superdekes is the guy who asked Sean to come aboard, so let’s give him a round of applause while we’re at it! This is another show you’ll want to make sure you catch live.

Friday May 21, 7:00 PM E.S.T. on Facebook:  MikeLeBrain and YouTube:  Mike LeBrain.

 

UPCOMING SCHEDULE:  All times are Eastern Standard.

Friday May 28:  Dave Lizmi of The Four Horsemen (co-host T-Rev)  7:00 PM

Saturday May 29:  Top Cover Art Designers (with Aaron and Tim Durling from Tim’s Vinyl Confessions)  3:00 PM

Friday June 4:  Top Judas Priest Albums (with Harrison, John 2loud2oldmusic, and Geoff on graphs)  7:00 PM

Friday June 11:  Best “Blind Buys” (with BuriedOnMars, Sarca and J)

Saturday June 12:  Andy Curran of Coney Hatch returns for round 3 (co-host Superdekes)  1:00 PM

Friday June 18:  Author Robert Lawson (co-host Superdekes)  7:00 PM

Friday June 25:  Brian Hamilton of Storm Force (co-host Superdekes)  7:00 PM

 

REVIEW: Sean Kelly – Where the Wood Meets the Wire (2011)

SEAN KELLY – Where the Wood Meets the Wire (2011 Opening Day Entertainment)

By now, we all know Sean Kelly.  Coney Hatch, Lee Aaron, Helix, Crash Kelly, the list goes on and on.  As much as Kelly enjoys rocking out, he’s just as capable of chilling.  His 2011 solo release, Where the Wood Meets the Wire, could be the perfect gateway for those curious about classical music but afraid to dive in.  As stated on the back cover, this album “retools classical guitar works” and that might be just what you needed to get your Schubert on.

By pairing the classical guitar with a little bit of electric, Kelly combines two worlds.  Opener “Adelita” is certainly accessible enough for rock fans, having qualities not unlike a mellow Satriani ballad.  The percussion here is outstanding.

Kelly takes on classical guitar masterworks by composers such as Agustín Barrios and Joseph Kaspar Mertz, displaying some pretty impressive dexterity.  The odd shot of electric guitar is like a punch in the arm.  Some pieces such as “Rujero” (Gaspar Sanz) will appeal to fans of Blackmore’s Night.

Another highlight is an acoustic instrumental rendering of Gowan’s classic “A Criminal Mind”.  Appropriately listed as “Une Mente Criminale”, this brilliant arrangement is a worthy re-imagining of the original.  The unmistakable melody translates into the classical style quite well.  It becomes a bit of a tango halfway through when the tempo is cranked up!

Finally, a familiar voice joins in on the final track “Ave Maria”, and it is Brian Vollmer of Helix.  Vollmer, trained in Bel Canto, is a frequent Kelly collaborator in the rock world, so his crossover here is a real treat.  You get to hear what Vollmer can do that doesn’t apply to Helix.  What Kelly and Vollmer both share is a fearless inclination to explore styles and techniques usually untapped by rockers.

If the classical world still holds a nose to modern music like it seemed to when we were younger, Where the Wood Meets the Wire might be met with indifference by purists.  For those who don’t think boundaries between genres are a big deal, Where the Wood Meets the Wire could end up being a favourite.  Only way to find out is to listen.

4/5 stars

Don’t miss Sean Kelly on the LeBrain Train Friday May 21 at 7:00 PM

REVIEW: Coney Hatch – Live at the El Mocambo (2021 limited edition)

CONEY HATCH – Live at the El Mocambo (2021 limited numbered & autographed edition)

It only took four decades, but like a fine Chardonnay, time made it just parfait.  Coney Hatch’s first live album, recorded back in October 2020 at the legendary El Mocambo is, in a word:  perfect.

First, let’s define “perfect”.  “Perfect” doesn’t mean “exactly like the studio versions”.  Not when we’re talking about live albums.  It means there’s an exciting vibe, great songs, top-notch performances, and a band that sounds like they’re out for blood.  Coney sound as if there was no pressure — but they delivered their best anyway.

Four albums, 15 tracks, over an hour of tunes.  Live at the El Mocambo represents the entire career of Coney Hatch, including all your favourites like “Stand Up”, “Devil’s Deck”, “Monkey Bars”, and “Hey Operator”.  A couple great tunes from Coney Hatch Four (like “Marseilles”) prove that the Hatch lost nothing when they reunited a few years back.  While everyone will have their own highlights, “Wrong Side of Town” absolutely smokes.  The album is paced perfectly with more contemplative tunes like “She’s Gone” balanced out by bangers like “Boys Club”.  Lots of songs about “girls gone bad”, according to Carl.

Andy Curran discusses Live at the El Mocambo

The on-stage banter by Andy Curran and Carl Dixon is warm and humorous.  It’s clear that they appreciate where they are in their careers now, fortunate to have this amazing second run.  In the back, drummer Dave “Thumper” Ketchum gives us an idea of how he earned that nickname.  But let’s not forget the newest member, guitarist Sean Kelly, who proves why he is one of the most in-demand players you’re likely to hear these days.  His ripping licks on this record are hair raising.

Another strength is that these guys have lost nothing in terms of vocal abilities.  It’s all there.  How Carl hits the notes he does, is actually unknown to modern science.  Andy Curran has just as much expression as ever, the ying the Carl’s yang.  When the band sing together on a big chorus, it’s arena-ready.

The first 100 copies came signed by all four members, and with a Coney Hatch can cooler!  If that’s not an invitation to get your buzz on with this great album, I don’t know what is.  It’s done in true bootleg style:  plain white cover, with logo stamped on the front, and plain white labels on the records.  The track listing is on a separate insert.   The non-limited version is available for you to purchase so get on that right now!

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Helix – Eat Sleep Rock (2020)

HELIX – Eat Sleep Rock (2020 Perris)

If there’s one thing you can count on, even in 2020, it’s that Helix keep on keeping on. 46 years running, and a new compilation CD on the shelves called Eat Sleep Rock.  Sounds a bit like Brian Vollmer’s life story!  Helix have given us two new songs and nine previously released numbers.  As has been the case recently, the cover art is by former guitarist Brent “The Doctor” Doerner.

We love Helix, but opening with “The Story of Helix” is a bit of a misfire.  I get that it would be a great opener for Helix’s acoustic gigs (it even has band member intros), but it’s a sluggish start to an album.  On this track, Brian Vollmer takes us through Helix history, with the odd musical segues through “Billy Oxygen”, “She Loves You”, “Heavy Metal Love”, and “Lick It Up” among others as the story progresses.  Even “Teen Spirit” in the 90s, “when everything went to shit”.  But what didn’t kill them made Helix stronger and they’ve certainly made great albums since.  Some of their best in fact.  Eat Sleep Rock contains shining gems aplenty of post-grunge-era Helix rawk.  But “The Story of Helix” should have been left for the last track on the album.

The good news is that Vollmer proudly proclaims he will “NEVER” retire!  And if the second song, “Eat – Sleep – Rock” is any indication, that’s a good thing.  This is a HEAVY Helix.  Produced by Daryl Gray, with guitars aided and abetted by Sean Kelly, this one smokes.  There ain’t no rest for the wicked, as “Eat – Sleep – Rock” resoundingly demonstrates.  Long-time Helix fans are going to love this newbie that recalls the fire and fury of 1984 all over again.

As mentioned in “The Story of Helix”, the 90s were not kind to Kitchener’s favourite band.  That said, they still put out three excellent albums in that decade, the last of which was 1998’s half-ALIVE.  It was the first Helix release in five years and included some new material to go with the live side.  “Shock City Psycho Rock” and “Wrecking Ball” (both heavy hitters) are two of the best.  “Shock City” is an upbeat boogie, and “Wrecking Ball” just slams.  Giving these two songs fresh attention is a good thing.

Brian Vollmer’s solo album When Pigs Fly (1999) is a Helix album in all but name, so “I’m A Live Frankenstein” is a valid addition.  This grinder has a hint of industrial rock and Helix alumnus Brian Doerner on drums.  It sounds a little out of place, but as Vollmer alluded, the 90s were a weird time.

“Even Jesus (Wasn’t Loved In His Hometown)” is a scorcher originally from the excellent Bastard of the Blues (2014).  That album is criminally forgotten, and it’s actually under-represented here.  The guitar hook and chorus melody will gnaw away at you until it’s right in your brain.  “Cyber Space Girl” (from 2007’s The Power of Rock and Roll) hasn’t been on a compilation before.  It’s another great tune from a tragically forgotten album.  The Power of Rock and Roll was loaded with heavy melodic tunes, and “Cyber Space Girl” definitely deserves a revisit.  Even better though is “When the Bitters Get the Better of You” from the superb Vagabond Bones (2009).  That was the first Helix album to feature Daryl Gray, Greg “Fritz” Hinz, and Doctor Doerner since the 90s.  They loaded it with top-notch songs and “Bitters” is just one of many.  It’s another boogie, so get down!

Later, in 2017, Helix issued a bitchin’ 12″ single for “The Devil is Having a Party Tonight” and “The Tequila Song”.  Both those songs resurface here.  I’ve said it before, but Helix have written a better song about tequila than Sammy Hagar ever has or will.  As for the classic metal sounds of “Devil”, it has a positively beastly bass groove.  These are both great tunes.  Now you can get them affordably on CD.  And of course, “(Gene Simmons Says) Rock Is Dead” (from 2016’s Rock-It Science) still stands up.  It ran the risk of being a novelty, but holds up in the present.  Gene did proclaim rock to be dead, many times.  I’m glad he was wrong.  If he wasn’t, then Brian Vollmer couldn’t still Eat Sleep Rock today!  But he can, and so the Helix band keep putting out worthwhile new material.

The track listing for this CD was well chosen as there is minimal overlap with other compilations (with three in common with Rock-It Science).  It spotlights songs that haven’t have their rightful day in the sun.  The only thing I’d do is move “The Story of Helix” to the end.  Minor quibble aside, if you haven’t bought a new Helix album in a while then now’s the time.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Trapper – “Illégal” / “Bye bye mon cowboy” (2020 single)

It’s a LeBrain/Superdekes two-fer! Check out his Trapper review by clicking here.

TRAPPER – “Illégal” / “Bye bye mon cowboy” (2020 iTunes single)

Trapper are a Canadian supergroup who gained a bit of extra attention when they got to open for Def Leppard.  Sean Kelly (guitar), Emm Gryner (vocals/bass), Frank Gryner (bass/guitar) and Tim Timleck (drums) impressed everyone with their version of “Illégal” by Corbeau on the concert stage.  Their only EP sold out long ago, but now Trapper are back with a studio version of “Illégal”.  The two-track iTunes single is backed by a surprising cover:  “Bye bye mon cowboy” by Mitsou.  Two Canadian covers, both in French…ballsy move for a single!

“Illégal” has a beautifully chunky riff, and Kelly captures that with a nice crunchy guitar tone.  Emm Gryner’s lead vocal is to die for, squealing in all the right parts, shouting it out loud, and delivering the goods.  She has depth, grit, power — the whole package.  The drums are huge.  When you hear it you’ll be wondering where this song has been your whole life.  And that’s all before you hit the guitar solo, a treat in itself, like something from a classic Bon Jovi track that you never heard before.

Now I’ll be honest about something here.  As a snobbish rock fan in the 1980s, I hated “Bye bye mon cowboy”.  It was on MuchMusic all the time and I grew weary of Mitsou.  But I like Trapper’s version!  I am pretty sure Mitsou didn’t have this much guitar.  Transformed into a rock song, “Bye bye mon cowboy” works!  The groove is perfect and Emm’s delivery is just right.  Big rock hooks, while still retaining everything important about the original.

As for that guitar crunch?  Sean Kelly says “Can’t beat a Les Paul and a Marshall!  (Actually the Headrush Plexi amp simulator.)”  There you have it, players!

I wholeheartedly endorse Trapper’s “Illégal” and “Bye bye mon cowboy” for your patio this summer.  I knew this was going to be good, but I didn’t expect to like “Bye bye mon cowboy” as much as I do.  They rocked it up, put it in my ballpark, and I’m pumping my fists to Mitsou!  Grab ’em on iTunes today, and cross your fingers and hope Trapper have more music coming in the future.

5/5 stars

#743: A Shout-Out to Sean Kelly

GETTING MORE TALE #743: A Shout-Out to Sean Kelly

When it’s warranted, I like to use the Getting More Tale banner to include tributes to helpful individuals.  This goes as far back as Record Store Tales.  These chapters are mini-stories wrapped in a thank-you…or vice-versa.

So let’s go back to the beginning for a moment.  Ever since I first launched this site in 2012, I’ve been talking about my insanely cool VHS library and how badly I wanted to show it to you.  Now I’m doing that (as you’re all painfully aware by the lack of review content), and it has been enjoyable, rewarding work!  Long hours, but well spent.  Reliving old memories, hearing forgotten songs, and seeing those MuchMusic VJ faces from ages past…watching these old tapes is something I try to do a little bit every day.

But I’m not doing this just for me.  If I was just looking for “hits” or “views” I would just make endless lists of things.  That seems to be the kind of content people click these days.  I’m doing this for history, both personal and general.  I think these old rock star interviews and clips are historically interesting.  For you, and for posterity, I think it’s important to get the details as right as possible.  I can usually nail down a rough date of recording, and the names of all the people involved.

Usually.  This is where Sean Kelly comes in.

Sean Kelly is the Canadian axeman behind Metal On Ice (the book and album).  He’s currently playing with Lee Aaron, Trapper, and I can’t keep track of them all!  I have his #1 Classical Guitar Album.  He has been a regular on Helix CDs over the past decade.  He’s played with Nelly Furtado, and of course his own band Crash Kelly!  Superdekes interviewed him last year, and there’s no question:  the guy knows his rock!  (According to the Superdekes interview, Sean and I have something in common:  the first rock album we bought was Metal Health by Quiet Riot.)

As I’ve been going through my tapes, I’ve been taking screen shots (like these below) to tease social media.  Sometimes I’ll post a challenge:  “Name all the people in the picture”.  Sean Kelly has a 100% score!

Yeah that’s right.  Sean Kelly has yet to get any wrong, and I’ve posted some challenging ones.  Only Uncle Meat has come close to Mr. Kelly.  (Meat is at about a 99% or so.)

But where Mr. Kelly has helped me out was identifying some of the MuchMusic personalities.  As I said, I want to get the details of these videos right for historical purposes.  Any time I needed help figuring out who the interviewer was, Sean knew it, and usually got it within five minutes!  And it’s funny too.  The names “Ziggy Lorenc” and “Lance Chilton” were on the tip of my tongue, but he just knew them right away.

I guess that’s why he’s the professional!

The guy is a virtual encyclopedia of rock.  He identified some of the artists just by the instruments they were wielding.  He’s also a super talented player and writer, and a helpful friendly chap too!

I really appreciate Sean’s assistance getting the details for the VHS Archives right.  Check out the track I currently cannot get enough of: Trapper’s cover of “Illégal” by Corbeau. Trapper is a supergroup consisting of Emm Gryner, Frank Gryner and Tim Timleck. This song rocks! Enjoy.