The Band

#895: Toxicity

RECORD STORE TALES #895: Toxicity

I get it.  I understand why people are surprised.  When a guy like me boasts about owning about 4000 CDs, you kind of expect certain things.  Surely, one of those 4000 CDs has to be so-and-so, right?

I’m fond of the saying “better late than never”.  There are always a variety of reasons for missing an important band in my collection.  Sometimes a band’s image turned me off.   That was true of Skid Row for a year or two.  I couldn’t get past Rachel’s nose chain.  In other instances, they weren’t what I was into during a younger phase of my life.   But on a couple of occasions, I avoided bands because they reminded me of people that I didn’t want to be reminded of.

I’ll give you an example:  The Boy Who Killed Pink Floyd.  Even if he didn’t burn me out by playing Floyd every single shift, he was such a shitty worker.  It took me years to finally take the plunge on Pink Floyd.   But I did, and I have most of the albums now.  Certainly all the critical ones and then some.  I mean, I even own Ummagumma!

So, better late than never.  I have my whole life ahead of me to keep discovering your favourite bands that I haven’t got to yet.

Recently, I really discovered The Band.  It started with “The Shape I’m In”.  The local radio station changed up the songs they repeat every year or two.  Thanks to CanCon, there’s always at least one Band song.  Several years ago, they used to spin “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” frequently, but this year it’s been “The Shape I’m In”.  And suddenly I was grabbed like never before.

Maybe it’s that I’m not feeling in the best shape myself, mentally and physically.  Robbie Robertson’s lyrics weren’t written about someone like me, though.  “The Shape I’m In” was written for the late Richard Manuel, singer and piano player.  As I often do, I googled the track and read up.  Richard Manuel’s tragic life story struck a chord with me.  Drugs, alcohol, and ultimately suicide.  Every time the song came on the radio, it inspired me to read a little bit more about Richard Manuel, The Band, and the rest of their members.

I watched a bit of The Last Waltz on YouTube and was absolutely blown away.  The vocals!  The musicianship!  The keen lyrical throwbacks to a time before we were born.  It transports you!  This is what I love in music!  What took me so long?

The most toxic person in my life at the Record Store loved The Band.  I don’t know how often we listened to them at work, but I began to strongly associate The Band with this person.  I couldn’t look at a picture of Garth Hudson without a feeling of this person’s presence.  For some reason poor innocent Garth Hudson became the face of The Band in my loathing mind.  It really is unfortunate.  Some of you will read this and say “pffft, snowflake.”  We each respond to stress according to our strengths and what I dealt with at the Record Store drove others to quit when I just kept going as long as I could.

I didn’t know a lot about The Band, and I remember having a conversation with this person about who their lead vocalist was.  I assumed Robbie Robertson, since he was a big solo star in Canada in the late 80s.  I had no idea that they had three main singers, and my impression was that this person thought less of me that I didn’t know.  Either way, our conversations didn’t make me want to listen.  You attract more bees with honey rather than vinegar.  This person was vinegar to me.

On one of the Taranna trips with Aaron, I found Music From Big Pink (remastered) at Sonic Boom for $7.99.  It had “The Weight”, so I bought it.  Still, I only played it a couple times and then put it on a shelf.  It didn’t connect.  Yet.

Suddenly it’s 2021 and “The Shape I’m In” is speaking to me like nobody’s business.  I pulled out Music From Big Pink again, ordered a reissue of Stage Fright, and put The Last Waltz on my wishlist.

It’s not just Richard Manuel.  Yes, something about his voice is sweet and weary and powerful at once.  Rick Danko’s voice was also very special.  The high notes!  Wow.  And Levon Helm?  Watching him drum, he was so physical!  And singing so expressively all the while.  As for Robbie Robertson, the best word I saw used to describe his guitar playing was “stinging”.  That nails it!  But I owe the deepest apologies to Garth Hudson, whose inventive multi-instrumental wizardry is key to the sound of The Band.  Mr. Hudson, I am so sorry that I used to associate your visage with this evil person in my life.

Still, it’s Manuel’s story that I find myself reading most.  So heartbreaking, but his struggles are  common with so many people.  I empathize.  Or maybe it’s just the fact that he was from Stratford, just 30 minutes away.  In fact he’s buried there and I thought maybe it would be cool to visit his grave this summer.

People can be toxic, and they can poison the things you associate with them, but here’s the cool thing.  Toxins can be worked out of the body.  Finally, it is time:  no more toxicity with The Band.  I welcome them into my heart.  They are now becoming part of my being, and that’s the best part.

REVIEW: The Black Crowes – Freak ‘N’ Roll…Into the Fog (2006)

The rather late first review from Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013!

 

CROWES FREAK ROLL_0002THE BLACK CROWES – Freak ‘n’ Roll…Into the Fog: All Join Hands, The Fillmore, San Francisco (2006 Eagle Records)

I somehow missed this when it first came out!  This double live album (acquired at Sonic Boom Music for the awesome price of $7.99), recorded in 2005, reunited the Robinson brothers with members from the classic era.  Returning are Marc Ford (guitar),  Ed Hawrysch (keyboards, from Toronto Ontario), Sven Pipien (bass) and original drummer Steve Gorham.  I believe the original bassist, Johnny Colt, was busy with Rock Star Supernova at the time…

Anyway, with a set concentrated on classic Crowes tunes from the earlier albums with a few other gems, this is an awesome collection.  There are a few later songs, such as a mind-blowing psychedelic version of “Soul Singing” (Lions).  Many of the songs, “Soul Singing” included, turn into long extended jams.  I wouldn’t call them meandering jams; they are spellbinding and with purpose at every moment.

The Crowes are backed by guests:  the Left Coast Horns and backup singers.  The horns kick ass on the extended “(Only) Halfway to Everywhere”.  They transform “Welcome to the Goodtimes” into something a little more sassy, likewise with “Let Me Share the Ride”, and “Seeing Things” from the first LP.  They also help stretch “Non Fiction” into 10 minutes of exploratory rock.  The backup singers really compliment “My Morning Song” transforming it into an ecstatic moment.

I have always taken a bit of flak from other Crowes fans over my favourite album.  Mine is Amorica, and most people I knew favoured Southern Harmony.  Regardless, it’s a delight to hear “Wiser Time” from Amorica on this album.  Songs like this are really special, and with most of the original players on it, “Wiser Time” shines.

I enjoy that the Crowes threw some rarities, covers and B-sides on Freak ‘n’ Roll.  “Sunday Night Buttermilk Waltz” and “Mellow Down Easy” are among the highlights of these tracks, but I was most excited about “The Night they Drove Ol’ Dixie Down”.  The original is a favourite of mine so I couldn’t wait to hear the Crowes’ interpretation.  And guess what?  It’s awesome.  It would be ludicrous to compare it to the original by The Band.  All that matters is that the Crowes wring more soul out of the song than you’ll hear in modern rock on any given day.

The Walmart version of the CD came with a download code for a bonus track, the Stones’ “Loving Cup”.  I obtained it via the seedy underbelly of the internets.  On the DVD this was played after “Welcome to the Goodtimes”.  I’m glad to have this song because the horns really fatten it up nicely, and it’s also a great tune!

5/5 stars

Record Store Excursion 2013!

PART 1

PART 2

VIDEO: Mike and Aaron Return to Toronto

Making these videos is a lot of work (a lot more than it looks like, thank you Winblows*) but it’s a labor of love.

Aaron and I did very well on Toronto Record Store Excursion 2013.  We used modern technology, such as smartphones and GPS, to maximize our time.  The weather was gorgeous (absolutely perfect) the whole day, and boy, did we buy a lot of music.

If you wanna check out the 2012 Record Store Excursion vid, click here.  If not, enjoy this year’s videos embedded below (two parts)!

PART 1

PART 2

* Need to move on from Windows Movie Maker.  Its glitchiness made this way too hard.

FILM

Sausagefest XII: The Complete Countdown!

There were some pretty awesome picks this year.  I have to give Scottie props for “Coming Home” by Iron Maiden, from the excellent Final Frontier album.  I found some things a bit surprising, such as the overplayed-on-radio “Black Betty” by Ram Jam, placing so high.

“Thick As A Brick” was the live version, so just over 10 minutes.  Other long bombers included all of “Supper’s Ready” by Genesis, which resulted in a tirade by Phil for just as long, about how much he thinks it sucks!  (And he’s an old-school Marillion fan…surprising.)  And of course there were several Maiden tunes that clock in well over 5 minutes.

For your edification, here is the official Sausagefest XII Countdown:  75 tracks, plus 35 tributes.  One tribute for each person that submitted a list!  110 songs over one weekend!  Awesome.

1 Toronto Tontos Max Webster
2 Long Cool Woman in a Red Dress The Hollies
3 The Grudge Tool
4 Rooster Alice in Chains
5 Supper’s Ready Genesis
6 Papa Was a Rolling Stone The Temptations
7 Mississippi Queen Mountain
8 Black Betty Ram Jam
9 Locomotive Breath Jethro Tull
10 I’m Your Captain Grand Funk Railroad
11 Wasted Years Iron Maiden
12 Low Hanging Fruit Tenacious D
13 Green Eyed Lady Sugarloaf
14 Hey Joe Jimi Hendrix
15 Headlong Flight Rush
16 Roadhouse Blues The Doors
17 Thick as a Brick Jethro Tull
18 Powerslave Iron Maiden
19 Bohemian Rhapsody Queen
20 Trapped Under Ice Metallica
21 Nautical Disaster Tragically Hip
22 No Quarter Led Zeppelin
23 Mr. Blue Sky Electric Light Orchestra
24 The Wizard Black Sabbath
25 Mama Told Me Not To Come Three Dog Night
26 Blackened Metallica
27 Jungle Boogie Kool and the Gang
28 Telegraph Road Dire Straits
29 Sanitarium Metallica
30 Renegade Styx
31 Eulogy of the Damned Orange Goblin
32 Throw Down the Sword Wishbone Ash
33 Electric Worry Clutch
34 The Alabama Song The Doors
35 Rise of the Fenix Tenacious D
36 Livin Thing Electric Light Orchestra
37 The Shape I’m In The Band
38 Mother Danzig
39 The Chain Fleetwood Mac
40 No One Knows Queens of the Stone Age
41 Die Young Black Sabbath
42 Bang Bang Terry Reid
43 Caught Somewhere in Time Iron Maiden
44 Buried Alive Avenged Sevenfold
45 Dream Police Cheap Trick
46 Would Alice in Chains
47 Don’t Fear the Reaper Blue Oyster Cult
48 Zero the Hero Black Sabbath
49 Pool of Booze Volbeat
50 Parabola Tool
51 Why Cant We Be Friends? War
52 Rock and Roll Led Zeppelin
53 While My Guitar Gently Weeps The Beatles
54 Breadfan Budgie
55 Strutter KISS
56 Holy Wars Megadeth
57 Old Man Neil Young
58 Southern Man Neil Young
59 The Pusher Steppenwolf
60 Tempus Fugit Yes
61 Fight Fire With Fire Metallica
62 Kielbasa Tenacious D
63 Green Onions Booker T and the MG’s
64 Weird Beard Fu Manchu
65 Tonight’s the Night Neil Young
66 BYOB System of a Down
67 The Zoo Scorpions
68 As the Years Go By Mashmakhan
69 Toxicity System of a Down
70 Deuce KISS
71 Space Truckin’ Deep Purple
72 South of Heaven Slayer
73 Rocky Mountain Way Joe Walsh
74 Roadie Tenacious D
75 Rock and Roll Motorhead
TRIBUTES
TOM Earache My Eye Cheech and Chong
ERIC Rosanna Toto
BUCKY A Day in the Life WAR
LAMB LORD The Wizard Uriah Heep
LEBRAIN Well You Needn`t Herbie Hancock Quartet
TROY Caught Up in You .38 Special
ERNIE Apocrophon The Sword
SCOTTIE Coming Home Iron Maiden
RYAN Still Counting VolBeat
SEB Demiurge Meshuggah
PHIL Under Black Flags We March Arch Enemy
CHUCK New Fang Them Crooked Vultures
TYLER G. Come on in my Kitchen Robert Johnson
C Time After Time Savage Steel
CHAD She`s a Rainbow The Rolling Stones
DR DAVE Ogre Battle Queen
LOGAN Cowboys From Hell Pantera
GRANT Around the World Red Hot Chili Peppers
WAYNE Inside Looking Out Grand Funk Railroad
CAM Red Hot Mama Funkadelic
AARON High Caliber Consecrator Clutch
JOHN B. I Stay Away Alice in Chains
TAL Dear God XTC
LAMB LAD Kick Out the Jams MC5
ALEX Chicken Strut The Meters
TREVER Volare Dean Martin
FRANK Whiskey in the Jar Metallica
JAGGER Frozen Love Buckingham/Nicks
MARK E. Are You Mine? The Arctic Monkeys
JON K. Stone Deaf Forever Motorhead/Metallica
TYLER W. We Are All on Drugs Weezer
MARK S. People are Strange The Doors
JUSTIN Monsters Blue Oyster Cult
MIKE Monarchy of Roses Red Hot Chili Peppers

The official video