shaw blades

REVIEW: Shaw Blades – Hallucination (1995 Japanese import)

SHAW BLADES – Shaw Blades (1995 Warner Japan)

Ever wonder what Damn Yankees would have sounded like without Ted Nugent?  Possibly, a little like Shaw Blades.  In 1995, the Nuge returned to his solo career with Spirit of the Wild.  Tommy Shaw and Jack Blades had already formed a successful songwriting partnership (with an Aerosmith hit under their belts) and so together they continued.  Damn Yankees drummer Michael Cartellone joined them, but for the most part it’s expert Journey-man Steve Smith — one of the smoothest drummers in rock.

Expect acoustic rock and ballads with impeccable harmonies.  Boring, you say?  Not at all; not when you have a batch of songs this strong.  Opener “My Hallucination” is a lament for the 1960s, with an electric guitar backing up Shaw and Blades’ perfect vocals.  Those two guys can hit some notes.  “I’ll Always Be With You” is more like campfire rock, a summetime gem and ode to innocent love.  There are some sweet Def Leppard chords tucked in there.  Third in line, the strong “Come to Be My Friend” gets a touch psychedelic but it’s the smoking acoustic soloing that will blow you away.  Either that or the insanely good chorus harmonies.

“Don’t Talk to Me Anymore” is the first song you could call an outright ballad even though it’s a soft album.  It’s lightly arranged with a less is more attitude.  Then things get upbeat on “I Stumble In”, an outstanding memorable head-nodder.  Journey fans will recognize their favourite drummer’s always fascinating tom tom work.  Moving on to the album’s second true ballad, “Blue Continental”, a laid-back Southern vibe permeates.  It’s logically followed by “Down that Highway”, upbeat but stripped to the basics.  A couple acoustic guitars, two voices, some tambourine and accents (fiddle, keys) and you have a song!

The electric guitar comes out for “How You Gonna Get Used to This”, one of the less remarkable songs compared to the catchier acoustic tunes.  The mandolin makes an appearance on “The Night Goes On”, another quiet but excellent ballad.  “I Can’t Live Without You” draws things to an end, but is also unremarkable.  Among diamonds, it fails to shine bright enough.  Fortunately, the ending it was preceding is a short track simply called “The End”, which reprises themes from prior songs, tying up the album with a nice bow.

This album produced no commercial singles, but there were two extra tracks, exclusive to the Japanese CD.  “How Does It Feel” brings back the electric guitar, but it’s more interesting than the other electric songs on the album.  It could be a grower.  “Straight Down the Line” is the gem.  It’s the fastest song of the whole bunch, upbeat but light, and a blast in the car.  Tommy’s intricate little lightning fast guitar hook is a tasty delight.  Tracks like this are why collectors really seek out Japanese imports.  They are their own rewards.

Any version of the debut Shaw Blades is going to be thoroughly enjoyed.  Get one.

4.5/5 stars

#382: Record Store Tales Mk3 – The New Direction


RECORD STORE TALES Mk3: The New Direction

Having been on the interweb for three years now, endlessly driveling on about heavy metal music, science fiction movies, and whining about the trials and tribulations of working in a Record Store, I have decided to make a clean break with the past.  It feels like all I’ve been doing here is dwelling on events and music of the past.  I’m through with the zoilism.  I have now made peace with it, and moved on.  It’s time to do something new for a change.  I have analyzed the trends of the internet, let go of my rage, and found the next big thing.  My new direction.

The new direction is this:

Mushrooms!  Delicious mushrooms, the edible kind.  Not the poisonous or psychoactive ones.  The kind you would put in a salad or on a pizza.  I love mushrooms.  I always have.  Some people consider them “shit flowers”* but I think they’re awesome.  They taste great and smell great when cooked in butter.  They’re even delicious and healthy when served raw.  They are loaded with vitamins B and D, and are an excellent source of minerals.  The fruit among fungus, mushrooms are a delicious way to eat healthy!

Not only are they good for you, but mushrooms are also good for the environment.  New studies have shown them to be adept at removing toxins from soil.  The industrial uses for the fungus in the future are limitless, and they are still being investigated for medicinal purposes, in the treatment of various cancers.

The future for fungus is bright, and I hope you will join me daily here at as we share recipes and the latest science of mushrooms!  But balance is also important.  With me on my latest adventure is the ever loyal Aaron, to add some counterbalance to my raving.  As a taste (yuk yuk) of things to come, here is Aaron’s first rant (I hope of many) on mushrooms!


Apparently Mike is writing something to praise mushrooms. And (I’m imagining) not the super-fun (so I’ve heard) hallucinogenic ones, either. No, my impression was that he meant the nasty, vile, disgusting little fungi that some people inexplicably eat in salads and all the other myriad ways people ingest the revolting things.

In his email asking me to participate as the dissenting voice (an easy job for me), he didn’t exactly specify how long my rant should be… actually, his reply was “I was thinking a paragraph of 4-6 lines, but Jesus…maybe it would be even funnier if you went balls deep, and on and on for a while!” To which, naturally, I replied THAT’S WHAT SHE SAID. Anyway, it would seem I have license to hold forth on these repellent little blobs for as long as I want!

Like most people, you’re thinking something along the lines of: what could I possibly I find so off-putting about these? Surely I’ll agree they’re tasty, and nutritious! Oh, if I’d only ever had them prepared properly, I’d surely change my mind about them! Well, no. No no no no no. And NO. They are a taste AND a texture violation. They’re nauseating, and I pick them off pizzas. Do you even know what they grow these off-putting things in? Hm? And yet still you eat them? Ohhh yes give me more of THAT unpalatable fleur de merde! Mmmmm…

SHIT FLOWER*Yes, that’s right. Shit flowers. That’s what I call them, and it’s entirely appropriate, not only in taste but in the actual gardening of them. My stomach turns at the thought of finding one in a stew, stir fry or pasta. Don’t put them anywhere near my panini, sauce, soup, or my beef/chicken/anything else. Sliced, stuffed, dried, baked, or wrapped in bacon (no, not even the MIGHTY BACON can help these sad little bastards), I do not want your vomitous little bulbs of distaste.

There’s only one (appropriately-named) mushroom that truly tells the story, and that is, of course, the shiitake mushroom. At least that one knows it is shiit. And that’s the only positive I can think of, when asked to turn my mind to even the thought of these little turds.

If you like them, and actually choose to ingest them, power to you. You’re welcome to have my share, today and forever after that. Enjoy eating your shiit.

Most Unrightfully Ignored Albums of the 1990s – LeBrain’s List Part 4

This is it!  The end!  In alphabetical order, here’s Part 4 of 4:  88 albums that meant the world to me in the 1990′s but never got the respect I felt they deserved.   Thanks for joining in!

Savatage – Streets:  A Rock Opera (sheer brilliance, their first and best rock opera)
Savatage – Edge of Thorns (an album to give Queensryche a run for their money)
Savatage – Handful of Rain (recovering from tragedy to create a triumph)
Savatage – The Wake of Magellan (how did this band just keep getting more brilliant?)
Scorpions – Face the Heat (had a couple good heavy rockers on there like “Alien Nation”)
Shaw/Blades – Hallucination (Tommy Shaw, Jack Blades, campfire goodness)
Skid Row – Subhuman Race (when you’re pissed off and you know it, bang thy head)

Sloan – 4 Nights at the Palais Royale (one of the best live albums of all time – ignored internationally)
Dee Snider’s SMF’s – Live / Forever Twisted (fuck, I missed Dee in the 90’s!)
Spinal Tap – Break Like the Wind 
Stryper – Can’t Stop the Rock (a compilation with two great new tunes)
Sultans of Ping F.C. – Casual Sex in the Cineplex (see here)
Talas – If We Only Knew Then What We Know Now… (Billy Sheehan and the boys reunited for one night, and has the wisdom to record it)
Tesla – Bust A Nut (in some ways it’s better than their prior records)
Testament – The Ritual (really heavily slagged at the time as a sellout)
Tonic – Sugar (much better than the first record, you know, the one that was a hit)
Devin Townsend / Ocean Machine – Biomech (one of his more accessible albums)
Union – Union (Bruce Kulick + John Corabi = better than what the Crue or Kiss was releasing)
Steve Vai – Sex and Religion (Devin Townsend — lead throat)
Veruca Salt – Eight Arms To Hold You (their best album, better than the big hit one)
White Lion – Mane Attraction (it was a little mushy, but brilliant guitars by Vito Bratta)
Whitesnake – Restless Heart (back to his blues rock roots, it wasn’t even released here)

We’re done!  88 albums that meant a lot to me in the 1990’s, but in some cases were criminally ignored.  Check them out.