skid row

#956: MY ENEMY

STOPARRETPotentially triggering material ahead. 

RECORD STORE TALES #956: MY ENEMY

It started in second grade, and for no reason that anyone knows.  There was a kid in my class named Steve.  My enemy.  A born bully, he had his radar locked onto me the very first year we met.  Because he was the classic bully, needing to project strength to the other kids, he sensed that I was the only one he could go after and wouldn’t fight back.  That’s how bullies operate.  Picking on me in class, in the school yard, in gym.  He always had someone else nearby, and I was always alone.  The teachers did not care.  Catholic school was the worst, because the teachers preferred to ignore these things or blame both parties.  They thought that teaming me up with Steve in gym was a way to make us get along.  Teaming up the abused with abuser.   Real smart.  We had to do stretches together and support each other as we stretched back and forth.  The thought of touching that bastard’s skin made me feel sick.  Needless to say, I hated him just as much afterwards as before.  Well done, Catholic school teachers!

The torment went on for a couple years until I finally had enough.  In grade four he went one step too far and I fought him at recess one day — our first actual fight.  I lost it and pummeled him.  He later claimed that I broke his tooth, which I doubt, but I took it as bragging rights.  I remember a bigger kid lifting me up off of Steve and dragging me away.   “He started it!” I screamed.  “He started it!”  As usual, the victim got in as much shit as the perpetrator.  That’s just how bullying works.  We both had to go to the library for detention after school, but I don’t think either of us actually went and I don’t think any teachers noticed.  I could care less — I knew I was in the right.  When you push someone relentlessly eventually they push back.  Half of the thrill for the bully is finding out how much they have to push to get to that breaking point.  It took him two years.  Shithead Steve got what he deserved that time, and there was no way I was accepting a punishment for it.

Steve wasn’t in my class for grade five which was a reprieve.  It was not to last.  Grade six was bad.  He was back at it, but I had an idea.  The Catholic and public schools had March break on different weeks, and when Shithead was going at me hard that month, I asked my friend Bob to show up at school to intimidate him.  Bob was off for the break, was two years older, and towered over everyone else.  He didn’t show up on the Wednesday, and the bullying intensified that afternoon.  When he did come on the Thursday, I introduced him to Steve, who fell over backwards in fear.  It was awesome.  Bob didn’t have to do anything.  He did just stood there and smiled.  His imposing size did the rest and Shithead left me alone for a while again.  But not forever.

Grade eight was the worst year for bullying.  It was the year of the Mount Mary retreat.  But it was also the year I got Steven off my back, permanently.

In September ’85 he started at me right away, and I wasn’t taking it.  Bob was trying to teach me to stand up for myself.  So, this was going to end.  I was done taking his shit.  I challenged him to fight and finish this.  After he no-showed the first appointed date, I insisted — absolutely insisted — that we do this on my turf.  No unfair advantages for him.  So we met at the baseball diamond at Stanley Park School.  He brought a bunch of his friends.  All I had was Ian Johnson and Kevin Kirby, who weren’t really my friends at all.  They sure didn’t seem like they were on my side.  They made it clear they just there for the show.  I was saddened but not surprised that my “backup” was just there to watch a fight.

We tangled.  A lot of me chasing him around.  I landed a punch in to the head — I’d never hit someone in the head with my fist before.  I dragged him down on the ground and just beat the piss out of him.  Then he got up and started running in circles.  I  nailed a few painful kicks on him, grabbed his shirt and got him on the ground again.  I didn’t want to injure him.  Just wanted him to cry.  I stayed away from the head and face and laid a beating on his upper body.  My watch broke, a fragile Transformers watch that I wish I still had.  Steve cried and screamed.  His scream was ungodly, but the truth is, like a sadist, I savoured every one.  I wanted more.  Heinous?  Then this is my confessional.  Over the last seven years, how many times did that bastard make me cry?  He had this coming — and far more than I was willing to deliver.  I just wanted to hear him scream again.

I let him up and then he started running around again, taunting me.  This went on several times.  Me getting him on the ground for a beating until he cried, then I’d let him up and he’d start running around again.   He grabbed my hair a lot but I don’t remember him landing any hits.

Finally I’d had it with him.  He obviously wasn’t going to concede, and I wasn’t going to damage his face.  I decided to bring the evening to an close with a final humiliation.  One more time, I got the little bastard on the ground and gave him a sound beating.  Then I got up and gave my speech.  It was a verbal tirade on the Art of Being a Loser.  As he lay in the dirt, I declared Steven to be nothing more than a malodorous piece of shit, and the absolute loser of the day.  It was pretty epic; I just improvised but it was Shakespearean thunder to me.  I ended my little speech by proclaiming that everyone already knew that he was a loser.

“That’s all you are, and that’s all you’ll always be.”

I got on my bike and rode off alone, to the deafening silence behind me.

Home again, I went into the kitchen and told my mom I broke my watch in a fight.  I burst into tears because I thought she’d be so disappointed in me.

I was also worried what the reaction would be the next day at school.  After all, I declared myself the winner and departed alone on my bike.  Would Shithead accept his defeat?  Apparently so.  He left me alone for the rest of the year.  Either Kevin or Ian came up to talk to me later.  “I was thinking about what you said about Steve.  You were totally right.  He IS a loser, and he’s always going to be one.”  The validation didn’t matter as much to me as the fact that Shithead Steve was scared off.  And he was.  He kept his distance from then on.

At the end of the year he made some half-hearted comments about a rematch, but it was not to be.  I caught Mono and was home sick for the rest of the school year.  And that was the end of my enemy.  He tried to make a comeback in grade nine, but his bullying powers were gone.

A loser for life.  My predictions were correct.  Today he is a pathetic antivaxxer, an angry drunk, and still a total piece of shit.  He lived up to the full potential that we all saw that night on the baseball diamond in 1985.  Well done.

VHS Archives #115: Sebastian Bach & Gil Moore get political at the 1993 Juno Awards

Celine Dion was the host.  Sebastian Bach (Skid Row) and Gil Moore (Triumph) were up to present an award.

For context:

On February 24 1993, Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, with a record low 21% approval rating, announced he was resigning.  Bach and Moore were at the Junos a month later, on March 21.  Watch what Sebastian does.

VHS Archives #16: Sebastian Bach talks to the Power 30 (1992)

Power 30 host Teresa Roncon doesn’t let Baz off easy here. Yes she does bring up the “AIDS Kills Fags Dead” shirt, and Sebastian answers. It’s a fascinating interview from a different time, only a few years after “One In a Million” by Guns N’ Roses.

What do you think of Sebastian’s response on this?

And just in case you wanted to hear Sebastian’s laugh on loop again, here ya go!

Sunday Chuckle: Sebastian Bach Has a Weird Laugh

This Sunday, a sneak preview of an upcoming episode of VHS Archives! Sebastian Bach of Skid Row sat down with Teresa Roncon on the Power 30 in 1992, and laughed real funny. I recorded it and 27 years later I made a clip of it. ENJOY!

REVIEW: Make A Difference Foundation – Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell (1989)

Make A Difference Foundation – Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell (1989 Polygram)

In 1989, I proudly sported my Moscow Music Peace Festival T-shirt in the highschool halls.  It was cool to see the rock bands on the forefront of heavy metal bringing music to the Soviet Union.  Scorpions, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, Cinderella, Ozzy Osbourne and Skid Row joined Russian metal band Gorky Park in the name of peace and being drug free.

Drug free?  Ozzy?  It’s true that this was a little strange, but Motley were at least clean for the first time in their lives.  The Scorpions had played behind the Iron Curtain before, and Sabbath were huge in Russia.  Meanwhile Bon Jovi were one of the few bands to legally release an album in the USSR, and in return they brought Gorky Park to the US.  I was lucky enough to have a girlfriend who recorded the televised part of the concert off MTV and sent me a copy.  It was a pretty mindblowing video.  Those Russians were going absolutely nuts, seeing their idols on stage.

Later on, the bands each contributed a song to a compilation album called Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell, each covering an artist who had been touched by substance abuse.  The CD was produced by the biggest name at the time, Bruce Fairbairn himself.  The proceeds went to an anti-drug charity, for all the good “just saying no” does.  The album itself was a pretty great compilation of mostly exclusive music.  Though almost all of it is now available elsewhere, that wasn’t the case in 1989, making this a tempting buy.

Gorky Park, the up and comers, started off with “My Generation”.  Some find it too putrid to stomach.  It’s virtually an original song with only the lyrics recognizable.  The riffs and melodies seem otherwise new.  So give Gorky Park some credit for at least not attempting a carbon copy, but then you gotta take off some points for turning “My Generation” into a Bon Motley song.  Unfortunately for Gorky Park, their momentum halted when singer Nikolai Noskov quit in 1990.

Skid Row surprised the hell out of everyone with the Pistols’ “Holidays in the Sun”.  It was the first indication that Skid Row had punk roots.  “Holidays” was very much a look ahead to where they would go on Slave to the Grind.  They were on the punk bandwagon a full two years before Motley decided to cover the Sex Pistols.  It’s always strange to hear flashy metal guitar solos on a Pistols song, but it’s sheer joy to hear Sebastian spitting and screaming up a storm.

Scorpions had a new compilation out called Best of Rockers ‘n’ Ballads.  Another Who song, “I Can’t Explain” was taken from it to be used on this CD.  It is by far the better of the Who covers, as Scorpions really made it their own.  Next, Ozzy’s track is quite interesting.  It’s the only studio recording of the lineup including Zakk Wylde, Randy Castillo, and Geezer Butler.  Geezer quit the band shortly after, and this incredible lineup never recorded anything else.  I consider it the strongest band that Ozzy had after Randy Rhoads.  The quartet did a live sounding cover of “Purple Haze”, unfortunately not the greatest version.  It is at least a showcase for Zakk Wylde to go nuts on the wah-wah pedal.

I will argue that the best track on this album came from the band that was riding a brand new high:  Motley Crue.  Clean and mean, they were incredibly strong in 1989.  They the balls to choose an obscure Tommy Bolin (Deep Purple) solo tune:  “Teaser”.  Motley put on that Dr. Feelgood groove, and Mick Mars laid waste to the land with his slidey guitar goodness.  It’s no surprise that “Teaser” has reappeared on Motley compilations several times since.  It has balls as big as a bus!

Another strong contender is Bon Jovi’s take on Thin Lizzy.  “The Boys are Back in Town” fits seamlessly with that small town New Jersey vibe that Bon Jovi used to have.  Lynott must have had some influence on a young Jon Bon, because all his old tunes are about the boys – back in town!  Dino’s bar and grill could be in Sayreville NJ.  Of course, Bon Jovi are a competent enough band to be able to cover Thin Lizzy and do it well.

Another surprise:  Cinderella doing Janis Joplin.  Singer Tom Keifer suited Joplin, though you don’t immediately associate the two!  “Move Over” takes advantage of that Keifer shriek that isn’t too far removed from Janis.  From there on though, it’s filler.  Jason Bonham, Tico Torres and Mickey Curry do a pretty boring “Moby Dick”.  It’s funny how John Bonham sounds bigger on the original, than three drummers on this remake.  Then it’s a bunch of live jams from the Moscow concert:  “Hound Dog”, “Long Tall Sally”, “Blue Suede Shoes” and “Rock and Roll” (Bonham on drums again for the latter).  Vince Neil is hopelessly out-screamed by Sebastian Bach on the Zep tune.  All the singers participated, but Sebastian Bach and Tom Keifer blew ’em all away.

This disc has been out of print a while, but isn’t too hard to find.  80s rockers need to have it for its historical value.

3/5 stars

WTF Search Terms: WOO! edition

WTF SEARCH TERMS XXXVII: WOO! edition

What are “WTF Search Terms”, you ask?  Simply, they are phrases that people typed into a search engine to wind up at mikeladano.com.  They’re sometimes weird, sometimes wonderful, and always amusing.  I hope you enjoy this 37th instalment of WTF Search Terms!

First please welcome “Nature Boy” Ric Flair to the WTF Search Term family!  The 16 time world wrestling champion was immortalized in the Legendary Klopeks song “Ric Flair” from their album Straight to Hell.  Someone googled the lyrics:

i wanna do a chop i wanna do a woo i wanna be like ric flair cause he’s so fucking cool

I love that somebody heard that lyric and had to google it.  Next up:

does anyone like the 2002 version of blizzard of ozz

The answer is yes:  Sharon does.  But next is a band that Sharon does not like.

benjamin of beef iron maiden

Oh, autocarrot.  I think they meant Benjamin Breeg.

This next person mixed up two bands, but it also could be autocarrot.  Funny either way:

deep leppard heartbreak

Then a grouping of searches for Snake the Tattoo Man.  But people need to decide where he’s from.  (It’s London).

snake from brantford tattoo guy
guy named snake in london, on
the man called snake, london, on

I got a chuckle from this next one:

fankie banali sucks

Well, let’s be fair.  Frankie Banali is an awesome drummer.  I’d never say he sucks.  I never have.  But his current version of Quiet Riot does kinda suck.  Unlike the following album:

europe last look at eden satanic lyrics

Oh, come on.  I’m sick of the “satanic” accusations levelled at this band.  Some deluded people actually think Joey Tempest is a demon.  I’m not fucking kidding.  Next question.

does album slave to the grind have any value?

Only what the music is worth to you.

which rock band was dressed to die in 1974

Hah!  None.  But Kiss were Dressed to Kill in 1975.

Thanks for reading!  The WTF Search Terms keep rolling in, so there will always be more….

 

 

 

#523: Columbia House

GETTING MORE TALE #523: Columbia House

How many of you were members of the Columbia House music club?  Tapes or CDs?

The concept was simple.  Get 12 tapes or records for one penny.  Then agree to buy “X” more at “regular club prices” within a year.  They would usually offer all sorts of incentives, such as getting your first regularly priced item for half price.  Their “regular club prices” were fairly high, but if you played your cards right you could make joining the club worthwhile.

Every few weeks after signing up, Columbia House would send you a catalogue and an order form.  The order system was controversial, because it required a negative response if you didn’t want to buy something.  When you signed up, you could pick your favourite genre of music (I chose “metal”).  Each time a catalogue came out, your selected genre would have a “selection of the month”, usually a new release but not always.   If you did not respond with an order form expressing that you didn’t want it, they would automatically mail you the “selection of the month” and bill you for it too.  (The Columbia Record Club system was worked into a sub-plot of the movie A Serious Man by the Coen Brothers.)

For many people this wasn’t a problem.  Our parents let my sister and I sign up when I was in grade 11.  We split the membership and free tapes 50/50.  We paid for everything ourselves and diligently sent in our order forms each time.  We were both already massive music fans, so we poured over every single page.  Most times, one of us ended up buying something, if not the selection of the month itself.

I can still remember every album I received in that first shipment. Seven tapes.  These tapes went into immediate and constant rotation, which is why I remember them all so well today.

  1. Leatherwolf – Leatherwolf
  2. Motley Crue – Girls, Girls, Girls
  3. Hurricane – Over the Edge
  4. Stryper – To Hell With the Devil
  5. Stryper – In God We Trust
  6. White Lion – Pride
  7. Sammy Hagar – VOA

Our musical world opened up in a massive way, and not just because of the new music we were listening to.  The catalogues introduced us to names and album covers that we’d not experienced yet.  What is this Bitches Brew thing?  Why did Deep Purple albums have so few songs?  Did Iron Maiden copy their Maiden Japan from Purple’s Made In Japan?  Holy crap, Hank Williams Jr. has three greatest hits albums?

Everything was absorbed.  Five years later, when I started at the Record Store, my boss was surprised that I knew who most of the artists were, what sections they should go in, and even what record labels they were on.

“I read the Columbia House catalogue cover to cover every month,” was my answer!

The catalogue provided knowledge, and pictures to cut out for locker or wall.  We made the most of that catalogue every time.  It was rare when pictures were not cut out!

I was even able to acquire things that might have been considered rarities back then.  I had never seen Leatherwolf stocked in a store, but Columbia House had it.  When vinyl was being discontinued, I was still able to get Skid Row’s Slave to the Grind (1991) on LP.  They had most of the Savatage albums.

It all sounds wonderful, but Columbia House had flaws too.  The biggest one was horrendous quality control.  They licensed and manufactured the tapes themselves, which were simply not as good quality wise as the ones you could find in a store.  They would be warbling within weeks (if not right out of the case) and the J-cards were sometimes shoddy, with printing not lining up with fold lines, or just they’d just start falling apart along perforations.  They also didn’t carry certain record labels.  While they had everything Warner Bros and Columbia Records, they had nothing from EMI.  Finally, bands made next to nothing on albums that were sold through Columbia House.  Some bands such as the Tragically Hip refused to sell their music via Columbia House.  We didn’t know all of this as kids, of course.  I started to pick up on the quality issues when they seemed to take a serious dive around 1991.

The key to not getting ripped off by Columbia House was to order smart.  The 12 free tapes sounds like a great deal, but when you balance in buying the rest of your selections at full price, most people ended up on the losing side.  Get in and get out, buying the bare minimum.  That was the way to do it.  Of course, we didn’t.  We just enjoyed the convenience and stayed members for years!  No regrets since this led directly to a 12 year career in the Record Store!

REVIEW: Skid Row – Skid Row (1989)


Scan_20160812 (3)SKID ROW – Skid Row (1989 Atlantic)

You can’t argue with five million copies sold.

Skid Row had the songs, but most importantly, they had the frontman.  Only once in a blue moon does a congenital entertainer like Sebastian Back happen upon the scene.  Born in the U.S. but raised in Canada, Bach had it all:  the looks, the youth, the charisma, and most importantly the voice.  He was a bull-headed bastard in those days too, but that is often a part of the frontman package.  Bach was a dynamo, always “on”, and with that voice on his side, people paid attention.

Without Bach, would Skid Row ever have made the impact they did?  Not to that degree, no.  Sure they had Jon Bon Jovi in their corner (and to take them out on tour) but without Bach, Skid Row would have been just another hard rock band in 1989, the peak year for the genre.  It can’t be understated how important the voice was.  Bach had the power, range and unique style required, but he had it right out of the gate!  The band was good too:  Dave “Snake” Sabo, Rachel Bolan and Scotti Hill wrote some great, bone-shaking cock rocking tunes.  Rob Affuso (today in Four by Fate with members of Frehley’s Comet) has long been an underrated drummer capable of some serious steppin’.  With Michael Wagener in the producer’s chair, everything aligned and came up platinum.

Three major hit singles made the album a must-have.  They were, of course, “Youth Gone Wild”, “18 and Life” and “I Remember You”.  These have become their career-defining songs, particularly the ballad.  “I Remember You” may have misled more than a few listeners when it first came out.  This is not a ballad album, but a very hard rockin’ record.  This wasn’t Bon Jovi.  It was heavier than everybody else on the radio that summer:  Motley, Warrant, Aerosmith, Van Halen, Def Leppard.  Though it rocks hard, it’s still memorable.

With the benefit of hindsight, we know Skid Row were capable of so much more, and they delivered on the next album Slave to the Grind.  Once they let the thrash metal and punk influences come out, the real Skid Row sound was conceived.  Their debut is good, but the next two were even better.

3.5/5 stars

#405: Brett-Lore (Excerpts)

BRETT LORE

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#405: Brett-Lore (Excerpts)

All artwork created by: Various denizens of Grand River Collegiate Institute, circa 1989-1991.

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#337: Oh Say Can You Scream

NOTE:  None of the information below should be taken as actual singing advice!

RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#337: Oh Say Can You Scream

In the 1980’s, screamers were king.  Rob Halford, Bruce Dickinson, Brian Johnson, Udo Dirkschneider…all of them were able to scream the high notes, sending chills up and down your spine.  We all wanted to be screamers back then!  None of my friends were able to croon like Coverdale, so screaming seemed like a viable option.  We worked on our screaming voices with practice, practice, practice.

My buddy Bob came up with two ways to practice our scream techniques:

  • At home: Go to your bedroom and close the door. Put on AC/DC’s Who Made Who cassette, and grab a pillow.  Then, scream along with Johnson directly IN to your pillow.  Nobody should be able to hear you!  The pillow should muffle your wailing Johnson imitation.  You can belt it at top lung power without disturbing mom and dad’s TV shows.  Just remember to lift your head from the pillow for breathing!  (That part is really important.)
  • If out at dusk: Go to your local park. Make sure the coast is clear.  Then, just sing and let it out!  Bob and I did this one frequently, walking through our local Stanley Park.  We serenaded the neighbors with a selection of AC/DC and Iron Maiden.

There were a couple specific Maiden songs that Bob and I really enjoyed screaming along to.  One was a classic from Powerslave: “Rime of the Ancient Mariner”.  Such an excellent, challenging choice.  We would focus on the line, “Then down in falls comes the raaaaaaaaaaain!”  We’d scream that section over and over again until we were satisfied that we had it right.

After a few years, I became quite good at hitting the high notes.  I moved on from my screaming by the time I was in University, and focused on the Bee Gees.  I knew that screaming Maiden tunes wasn’t a good way to attract female attention.  Singing “Stayin’ Alive” note for note though?  That may have had potential!  (Note: it didn’t.)

Although I can no longer perform the song as I used to, I am proud to say that I used to be able to hit every note in “Stayin’ Alive”.  Something to be proud of at Karaoke.