singles

REVIEW: Triumph – “Spellbound” (1984 special promo 12″)

TRIUMPH – “Spellbound” (1984 MCA 12″ radio promo disc)

1984’s Thunder Seven was a big one in Canada, with “Spellbound” and “Follow Your Heart” both hitting the top 100 singles chart.  Triumph singles rarely offered up much in the way of non-album material, but the odd curiosity could be found.  This Triumph single for “Spellbound” was acquired by a friend, from Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh back in 2013.

On the A-side, the standard 5:12 single version of “Spellbound” without edits.  You can really hear why this was a hit in 1984.  Triumph had learned to marry keyboard and guitar riffs for a bigger radio-ready sound.  With Gil Moore on lead vocals, “Spellbound” had huge chorus.  The track was also made into a cool video.

The B-side was specially designed for radio airplay.  Each track on Thunder Seven is given a brief special intro by the three band members.  You could look at this as an interview disc.  It’s nine minutes in length and not without value.  By listening we learn that “Spellbound”, for example, changed much from conception to release.  It was once titled “White Lies” before it was rewritten.  “Time Canon” was made up of 18 parts over 66 tracks.  Amazing stuff.  Their Canadian accents are adorable.

An excellent purchase for Triumph fans who have it all and need a little more.

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Faith No More – “From Out of Nowhere” (1990 UK 3 track 7″ single)

FAITH NO MORE – “From Out of Nowhere” (1990 Slash records 3 track 7″ single)

When I was beginning to seriously collect Faith No More in 1991 onwards, I had no idea what was out there.  I found the UK 7″ single for “From Out of Nowhere” at a record show in Guelph.  There are different versions of this single out there with “Cowboy Song” on the B-side, but that track can also be found on Live at the Brixton Academy.  The UK single on Slash/London has two live tracks you can’t find anywhere else, recorded by the BBC on March 2 1990.  Shortly after “Epic” was released as a single, but before it went mega.

The problem is, with 10 minutes of music squeezed onto the B-side, this single sounds horribly thin and is ridiculously quiet.  Tons of surface noise too.  The A-side, which spins at 45 rpm, is better.  Have a look at the unaltered waveform in Audacity for comparison.

Faith No More didn’t truly make it big until the end of the (first) vinyl age.  The album version of “From Out of Nowhere” was always an excellent song; one of their most “mainstream” if you can call it that.  The keyboard hook is the main angle, and Patton’s notable for using that clean nasal voice he discontinued not long after.  An excellent song, and a cornerstone of any nutritious Faith No More collection.

The B-side, the exclusive live recordings, rotates at 33 1/3 rpm.  Captured in Norwich, “Woodpecker From Mars” is Faith No More’s instrumental classic led by a keyboard violin voice by Roddy Bottum.  There is a different performance on a home video called You Fat Bastards (which is the complete Brixton set) but nothing else on audio.  “Epic” is disappointingly edited by the BBC.  They obscure the line where Mike Patton naughtily sings “get down on it and fuck it some more.”  The band sound fresh and almost green with enthusiasm for the song, playing it a bit more straight than they would later on.

On the plus side, this single comes packaged in a gatefold sleeve, a rarity for 7″ release.  Inside Mike Patton is givin’ ‘er live on stage.  Some kids probably taped this to the wall as-is.

In short, the music is great.  The vinyl is not.

2.5/5 stars

REVIEW: Sloan – “Stood Up” / “Same Old Flame” (1995 7″ single)

SLOAN – “Stood Up” / “Same Old Flame” (1995 murderecords 7″ single)

Though those without the syrup of the Mighty Maple flowing through their veins might not be familiar with Sloan, there are some who consider the east-coast quartet to be Canada’s greatest rock band.  With four writers / singers / instrumentalists, it’s an argument with some merit.  Though some say they are too sloppy live, in the studio they have some truly shining diamonds.  Some of those gems aren’t even from albums.

1995 was a difficult time for Sloan.  After receiving no support from Geffen for their shoulda-been breakthrough album Twice Removed, the band either broke up, or were about to break up, or considered themselves broken up even though they weren’t.  The double A-sided “Stood Up” and “Same Old Flame” single comes from this murky period in their timeline, released on their own label murderecords.  (In Japan, these two songs were included as bonus tracks on their third full length CD, One Chord to Another.)

“Stood Up” is a Chris Murphy number with a catchy tremolo guitar hook.  The lo-fi recording is so tasty.  Sloan’s usual vocal harmonies create the melodic blend you expect, but that relentless guitar groove is center stage.  Not dark, but shady, with energetic shouts.  By contrast, Patrick Pentland’s “Same Old Flame” is light and upbeat.  The fun verses set up a more plaintive chorus, all danceable.  Though both songs are equally strong, it’s “Same Old Flame” that you will singing and tapping your feet to.

For only $7, I found this single at yet another record show in Guelph with my buddy Peter.  Today it sells for twice that.  Though I hoped to find more than just one Sloan single that day (“Rhodes Jam” still eludes me), at least I left with what I came for.  A great single for any Sloan collection, big or small.  An essential one in fact, now that everybody is into vinyl again as their primary format.

5/5 stars

REVIEW: Metallica – “Mama Said” (1996 7″ picture disc single)

Part One of a two-part “Mama Said” review

METALLICA – “Mama Said” (1996 Vertigo picture disc 7″ single)

I can admit that my first Metallica album was Load.  I concede that they were more Rocktallica than Metallica on that album, but the fact of the matter is that for the genre, Rocktallica was good!  A lot of hard rock and heavy metal albums in the mid-90s were not good.   Metallica introduced themselves to me with an album that was what I wanted, when I wanted it.  “Mama Said” was the third single from Load, a an acoustic ballad, and with an exclusive live B-side on the vinyl that wasn’t on the CD singles (to be reviewed next).

The 7″ single contains the album version, not the shorter single edit.  James Hetfield wasn’t afraid of getting personal in his lyrics anymore, and “Mama Said” is about his late mother.  It’s audible that he is getting something deeply important off his chest.  The music is notable for its distinct country twang.  Trash Metallica all you like, but this sounds great.  The thing about Metallica is that they usually (not always) do whatever it is they set out to do, and do it well.

That said, a 7″ picture disc is not the best way to hear Metallica play an acoustic ballad.  It can’t deliver the clarity and dynamics that a CD can.  The B-side, “Ain’t My Bitch” recorded live in California on August 4 1996, is a louder song and can get away with the format a little better.

James gets the crowd to shout “We don’t give a shit!” a couple times before they break into the song.  “Ain’t My Bitch” remains a fun little blast precisely about not giving a shit.  “Outta my way, outta my day!”  It might not be “Creeping Death” you can’t deny it’s fun to just bang along.  “Mama Said” might have been James dealing with deep shit, but “Ain’t My Bitch” says “just forget it and let go”.  Kirk Hammett’s solo on this one is mega fun, and it’s always a bonus to get Jason’s Newsted’s backing growls.  An underappreciated ex-Metallica member.

Including the tracks released over the two additional CD singles, “Ain’t My Bitch” is the seventh of seven total B-sides to “Mama Said”.  All the live ones are from the same show in Irvine Meadows.  If you gotta get ’em all, then “Mama Said” you need this picture single too!  Shame about the audio quality.

3/5 stars

Part Two tomorrow.

Gallery: A closer look at Alice Cooper and Japanese import unboxings

This week’s live show included some cool unboxings.  Here is a closer look at the three new arrivals at LeBrain HQ.

#1 Dokken – The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 Japanese import.  Old unreleased demos polished and finished for release.  This baby has a bonus track called “Going Under”.

#2 Accept – Blind Rage Japanese import.  2014 studio album.  “Thrown to the Wolves” is the name of this Teutonic terror’s bonus track.

# Alice Cooper – “Don’t Give Up” 7 inch picture disc single.  Great to finally have this new Covid-related recording on a physical format.

 

Live Stream – More Vinyl & Special Guests – Saturday May 9

Pardon the technical difficulties, we had some audio lag and some viewers experienced frozen video. I think we pushed the limits of what Facebook and our own bandwidth could handle.

The best live stream of the series so far is available for you to watch below! We went for 90 minutes and featured so much vinyl your head will spin. We also had three special guests joining us: Dr. Kathryn Ladano, Uncle Meat, Scotty P, all local legends in their own rights!

Saturday Live Stream: 6:00 PM E.S.T – Part 2! – Favourite Vinyl & Free Discussion

MORE VINYL!  MORE CHAT!  MORE COFFEE!

Last week was a lot of fun, wasn’t it?  Let’s continue!  Starting at 6:00 PM E.S.T., I’ll be going live on Facebook.  We’ll catch up with some general chit chat and then we’ll delve into another batch of my favourite records. This time I’ll include 7″ singles and cherished oddball releases.

In music news we have some tragic deaths and new releases.  Have you heard the new Rolling Stones single “Living in a Ghost Town”?

Let’s talk about this and more tonight at 6:00 PM Eastern Standard Time.  Facebook:  Michael Ladano

#801: Dinking Your Records

GETTING MORE TALE #801: Dinking Your Records

Let’s say you have a stack of new and old 45 rpm singles to play, but only an old Wurlitzer jukebox to play them in.  You might run into some problems if you don’t have the right records.  You know how some singles have the large holes and some do not?

Back in the 1940s, RCA were 100% behind their new 45 rpm record format.  They had a system where you had a stack of up to 10 records on a thick spindle.  One would automatically drop as the previous record finished.  When all 10 songs had played, you just flip the entire stack over and play the other sides.  That’s why singles have an upraised ridge around the center; so their playing surfaces never touch when stacked.  The larger spindle size made for tougher, longer lasting records and players since that auto-changing could be pretty rough on the 45s!  Through trial and error, RCA learned that the smaller standard holes would eventually deform if their mechanism were to use it.

The two hole sizes on records today are the remnants of an ancient format war.  The now standard small spindle won out, but many jukeboxes still used the larger spindle.  So what happens if you have a jukebox but not the right kind of record?  You dink ’em!

I’m not talking dirty here.  The term for cutting out a larger hole in your singles is called “dinking”.  We won’t speculate why.

If you need to dink a large number of records, or if you simply need it done right, there are actually record dinking services out there.  You send them your records, and they will use proper machinery to cut the holes perfectly.  If you’re braver, you can try dinking your records at home.  You can buy a couple different devices to do this.  One looks like your old school compass.  You simply etch a new hole by cutting around and round.  The other is a little device that you attach to the center of your record and tighten, and tighten, and tighten until it cuts through.

Neither device is perfect and both require you to do some serious handling of your precious vinyl.  It also requires practice to get the hole just right.  If it’s a little off-center, you’ll notice when you play it.

Watch the informative video below by Youtuber Mat aka Techmoan. Notice that he purchased a stack of worthless records from Ebay to pull this stunt. (New Kids on the Blech!)  Is this something you’d be willing to try yourself?

Granted, the number of working vintage Wurlitzer jukeboxes out there is dwindling, but if you had one, I’m sure you’d be well familiar with dinking services at this point!

Most record collectors doubtlessly have singles with both size holes.  We’ve been putting those little plastic “spiders” or spacers in the middle without thinking too hard about it.  Sure beats dinking around doesn’t it?

REVIEW: Ghost – “Kiss the Go-Goat” (2019 single)

GHOST – “Kiss the Go-Goat” (2019 Loma Vista 7″ single)

Ghost began as a gothic, Satanic metal experiment.  They grew to include more pop and more humour, and while it hasn’t all been good, most of it has.  In 2019, Papa Nihil and his merry band of Nameless Ghouls have returned with the kitschy single “Kiss the Go-Goat” / “Mary on a Cross”.  It’s not much of a departure from their last album, the excellent Prequelle.

Look at the subtitle on the A-side of the label.  “The long-lost remastered 1969 single.”  That Ghost humour again.

“Kiss the Go-Goat” has a driving organ/guitar riff that is the kind of stuff recent Ghost glory has been based on.  The corny chorus of “Satan, Lucifer…” is far removed from the old orthodox days of “Satan Prayer” and ante-nicean creeds.  But it rocks, solidly and without embarrassment.  A track this good could easily have been on Prequelle.  “Mary on a Cross” doesn’t have the same impact, but is not an also-ran.  It’s a little darker but the recurring organ part is perfectly piquant.

If not for the worrisome possibility (probability?) that these two songs will show up on some kind of future deluxe edition, this single would be an absolute must for all boys & girls, far & wide.  In fact, it has shown up on a very very expensive edition of called Prequelle Exalted, in a disc called Seven Inches of Satanic Panic.  Unless you plan on spending that kind of dough, maybe buying this single is a good option after all.

4/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Iron Maiden – “Empire of the Clouds” (2016 Record Store Day picture disc single)

IRON MAIDEN -“Empire of the Clouds” (2016 Parlophone Record Store Day picture disc single)

The story of acquiring this single and RSD 2016 can be read right here, so without getting into the details again this is what you need to know:

  1. This was a Record Store Day exclusive (April 16 2016).
  2. There were only 5500 copies made.
  3. Everybody wanted one.

The picture disc and packaging are gorgeous.  The record is a depiction of the Eddie destroying the R-101 airship, but fear not, this is not how history actually unfolded!  This picture disc is ensconced in a die card cover with reprintings of the Daily Mirror newspaper article from the day following the disaster.  It’s a lovely keepsake for sure, but it also has an exclusive interview on the B-side.

Not that the A side is unimportant.  From my original review for The Book of Souls, I had much praise for “Empire of the Clouds”:

“Written solely by Bruce and coming in at almost 20 minutes, it is unprecedented in the Maiden canon.  Never before have the credits ‘Bruce Dickinson – vocals, piano’ been written inside one of their albums.  For the first time ever, the piano is a part of Iron Maiden’s makeup.  Maiden have used orchestras before, and the strings return as well.  ‘Empire of the Clouds’ is a peak accomplishment, something that they (and Bruce) can proudly proclaim, ‘we did that’.  The piano is a natural fit, in the way it is used to make an epic song even more dramatic.  Aviation has been one of Bruce’s favourite lyrical subjects for a long time, but ‘Empire of the Clouds’ might be his first song about airships.  You can trust him to instil it with all the drama and heaviness that you expect from Iron Maiden.”

Nicko McBrain and Bruce Dickinson discuss the making of the song, almost an album in itself, on the B-side “Maiden Voyage”.  The R101 was a massive airship (“the Titanic fits inside”) that was rushed into service and caught flame in 1930.  Bruce wrote the song on piano, which he had learned to play over the last three years.  He then researched the history of the airship and worked on the words.  The way he describes the incident on this interview track, it was a perfect storm of everything going wrong.  In its context, the airship was an expression of the ambition of the British Empire to stretch to all corners of the Earth and above as well.  Bruce says the crash was the end of this era.

Part of the story involves a storm, so Bruce came up with a piano part to depict that.  Before long he had enough components from his piano writings to build the different parts of the song.   One of the bits was written when Jon Lord (from Deep Purple) was ill with cancer.  After his death, Bruce used this piece for the part when the airship initially sets off.  It’s interesting that this era of British ambition inspired the most ambitious track that the singer had ever attempted.  This includes a musical “S.O.S.” in Morse code, something I picked up on upon first listen.

Bruce has particular praise for drummer Nicko McBrain in the building and recording of this song.  Nicko was not only a help in a technical respect, but also as a cheerleader keeping the band driven, so much was he into it.

Bruce Dickinson is a remarkable individual in heavy metal.  You don’t see many metal stars as well educated in history as Bruce, or as capable at communicating it to his audience.  Indeed, as a presenter on the BBC, Bruce has brought history to many diverse audiences.  You would think Iron Maiden fans would be one of the more challenging groups to reach, but Maiden followers are hungry for this kind of content.  We can only respect the band that much more when we realize the true depth of their work.  This coming from a licensed airline pilot, published fiction author, cancer survivor and amature fencer who also happens to be in Iron Maiden.  Extraordinary!

I’m not sure if this disc was worth the buying frenzy it spawned or the online prices you are about to see, but I’m sure glad I got my copy.

5/5 stars