THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER

REVIEW: Scorpions – Animal Magnetism (2015 deluxe edition)

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
Final review in this series! Mike and Aaron did simultaneous daily reviews of albums that they sent to each other. Mike gifted the original CD of Animal Magnetism to Aaron when he upgraded to the deluxe edition.  This time, we are joined by the mighty DEKE from Stick it in Your Ear!
Aaron’s review:  Scorpions – Animal Magnetism

Scan_20160402SCORPIONS – Animal Magnetism (2015 BMG deluxe edition, originally 1980)

Post-Lovedrive, the Scorpions were on a roll.  American chart success had finally come their way, and the pressure was on to follow it up.  Rather than break under the strain, the Scorpions thrived in that atmosphere and put together another solid Euro-metal album with commercial tendencies.  Newest member Matthias Jabs was now integrated with the band, and they were ready to roll.

The modern Scorpions thrived on simple, heavy metal riffage and melodic vocals.  “Make It Real”, the opening track on Animal Magnetism, exemplifies these qualities.   Chunky chugs and soaring guitar melodies are only topped by Klaus Meine’s voice of power.  “Make It Real” remains one of the classic, unforgettable Scorpions rockers today and it’s easy to hear why.  It’s a perfect concoction of what melodic heavy metal can be.

I don’t like to be too hard on the Scorpions for their lyrics, because their English is a hell of a lot better than my German!  With that in mind, “Don’t Make No Promises (Your Body Can’t Keep)” is one of those Scorpions titles that makes me cringe.  Thankfully it’s a blitzkrieg of a track, full steam ahead and dripping sleaze.  Scorpions had easily mastered the fast metal stylings that put them in similar territory as Judas Priest, but they also had a knack for slow and relentless riffs.  “Hold Me Tight” is one of these, like a slow Dio-era Sabbath prowler.

The album is strong throughout.  “Twenthiest Century Man” continues a chopping onslaught of rock, but the Scorpions also have a knack for a ballad.  “Lady Starlight”, acoustic with a full-on string section with woodwinds, is one of their finer early examples.  It’s bizarre to hear a song this tender on the same album as “Don’t Make No Promises (Your Body Can’t Keep)”.

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In case you were worried the Scorps had lost it, “Falling in Love” continues the bruising on side two with another simple and effective riff.  “Only a Man” is about the only stumble, an off-kilter track that rests in the shadows of the songs before and after.  The chorus is great, but next to amazing metal classics like “The Zoo”, there is no contest.  And speaking of “The Zoo”, has there ever been such a slow yet so menacing track?  Written about their time spent in America, the lyrics are pretty silly.  “We eat the night, we drink the time, make our dreams come true.  And hungry eyes are passing by, on streets we call the Zoo.”  You don’t want to be hard on the guys for their skills with the language, but at the same time…this is also bizarrely catchy!

The title track “Animal Magnetism” is saved for last, an exotic slow crawl preceded by thunderclaps of noisy guitars.  Zeppelin meets Black Sabbath on this one, and it’s over and out.  Unless you own this deluxe edition….

“Hey You” is tacked on as the first bonus track, a strangely catchy pop rocker with Rudolph Schenker singing lead on the verses.  It has a remarkable uniqueness.  It was first released as a single, but most of us didn’t hear it until 1989’s Best of Rockers and Ballads.  That’s the easiest place to find this fun little tune.  A slew of rare demos end the deluxe CD:  “Animal Magnetism” (not at all like the album version), “American Girls”, “Get Your Love”, Restless Man”, and “All Night Long”.  Some of these songs are exactly what they are — outtakes!  Some are better than that.  “Get Your Love” was reworked on 1995’s Live Bites CD as “Heroes Don’t Cry”.  “Heroes Don’t Cry” has better lyrics and more meat on the bones, but “Get Your Love” has a raw basic quality.  “Restless Man” is an early version of “Twentieth Century Man”, all but complete including prototype guitar solos.

There will always be those fans who think albums like Lovedrive and Animal Magnetism were the beginnings of a long slide in quality.  When Uli Jon Roth left the band in 1978, he took with him their adventurous side.  Their post-Uli music was streamlined and more calculated.  Animal Magnetism remains one of their finest albums since.

4/5 stars

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REVIEW: Def Leppard – Mirrorball: Live & More (2011 Japanese with bonus track)

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Down to the nitty gritty!  This is the second last review in this series.  Mike and Aaron have been doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums that they have sent to each other. This one was gifted to Aaron when Mike upgraded to the Japanese edition.  Enjoy!

DEF LEPPARD – Mirrorball: Live & More (2011 Marquee Japan)

Def Leppard hyped this baby as their “first official live album”.  First official live album? Maybe, but the astute collector had already been aware of a 1984 live album included with the deluxe 2 CD edition of Pyromania.   For vintage 80’s Leppard thrills featuring Steve Clark, that’s the ultimate go-to live CD.  More obscurely, after the Euphoria album, Def Leppard issued an entire live album’s worth (11 songs) of MP3 files for free, which are no longer around. You can read our review of that untitled release right here.

Scan_20160302 (5)Regardless, this is the first stand-alone Leppard live album (double live, in fact) that you can walk into a store and buy.   The domestic version comes with a bonus DVD, with behind-the-scenes stuff and music videos (“Nine Lives” and “C’mon C’mon” from the Sparkle Lounge album).

Upon inserting Mirrorball into the car drive and hitting “play”, the first thing I was impressed with was Joe Elliot’s voice. The singer is often the member who suffers most from the ageing process.  Singers like Joe who basically screamed for the first few albums don’t always have the ability to do it convincingly anymore.  The “old voice” is usually gone.  However here it is, right in the opening of “Rock! Rock! (‘Til You Drop)”. It recurs many times over the course of the album.

All the hits are here, even the ones you’d rather forget like “Let’s Get Rocked” and “Make Love Like a Man”. The set leans heavily of course on Pyromania and Hysteria, with most of the singles being rolled out: “Rock Of Ages”, “Foolin'”, “Photograph”, “Animal”, “Hysteria”, “Love Bites”, “Sugar”, and “Armageddon”. Album classic “Too Late For Love” is also present, as is the perennial medley of “Bringing On The Heartbreak/Switch 625”. “Heartbreak” has a nice acoustic intro, different from the one that Leppard used to do back in the 80’s (see: Live in the Round in Your Face).

Then, you get a few boring tracks.  Some of these, such as cover tunes, I have no idea why they still play them live.  Do they not have enough old originals that fans are clamouring for?  Did we really need covers on Leppard’s first official live album? No. But there’s “Rock On” anyway.  I hate that song.  And The Sweet’s “Action” is here, again, which I guess has almost become a Def Leppard song itself.  For other dull content, the B-side-later-A-side “Two Steps Behind” also appears, a song which was never more than a throw-away to me.

As far as more recent material goes: Two songs from Adrenalize, none from Slang, none from Euphoria, none from X.

At least they included three songs from the latest album, Songs From the Sparkle Lounge: The awful, derivative  heard-it-all-before “C’mon C’mon”, as well as a smokin’ version of “Bad Actress” and the single “Nine Lives” (without Tim McGraw!).  Regardless of what’s included and what’s not (you can make your own wishlist of tunes!), Mirrorball does represent the Def Leppard live experience well.  They are bang-on, every track.  These five guys have really grown together as a band.  It doesn’t sound like much fixing was done; indeed it doesn’t sound like much needed to be done.  Four of them can sing well enough, so the trademark Leppard layers are well represented live.

Onto the new studio songs: None are very special, but at least two rock: “Undefeated” is the catchiest, even though it has derivative “Sugar”-like moments that don’t help.  It has a thick Zepp-y chorus riff though, and that gives it some heft.  “It’s All About Believin'” also rocks, but Sav’s “Kings Of The World” is too soft. Leppard need to stay away from the ballady-stuff.  They’ve got more than enough now.

As is the norm, those lucky Japanese fans got a bonus track.  It is the descriptively titled “different version” of “Kings of the World”.  What’s different?  It doesn’t appear to be a demo, but it is a shorter version, piano-based with most of the instrumentation stripped off and an acoustic guitar solo.  My preference is to the more bombastic and Queen-like album mix.

For a first official one, Mirrorball is a pretty good live album. It could have been a lot better. It should have been better, considering.  However they did do better, when they released the next live package, Viva Hysteria!   That one scratches virtually every musical itch you have.  And don’t forget, you can pick up that aforementioned deluxe edition of Pyromania for a youthful, smokin’ set.

3/5 stars

 

 

REVIEW: Killer Dwarfs – Reunion of Scribes Live 2001

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Mike and Aaron are doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums that these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

 

 

“You guys do like to drink, don’t ya?  You are Canadian aren’t ya?  Most of us are Canadian in here, except for there’s one guy that I know of.  Security!”  — Russ Dwarf

Scan_20160313KILLER DWARFS – Reunion of Scribes Live 2001 (2002 Bullseye)

Aaron scored this for cheap at his “junk shop” and passed it down to me.  It was the only Killer Dwarfs CD I was missing — and for good reason.  I had the chance to hear it once, at the Record Store, while I was working for a stretch in Hamilton.   I didn’t think much of it then.  Has anything changed?

The Killer Dwarfs quietly went extinct after their final studio album, 1992’s Method to the Madness.  10 years later, the band reunited including Mike (Hall) Dwarf, who had actually left the band prior to 1992.  This is a full reunion of the classic lineup:  The Dwarfs Russty, Mike, Darrell and Bad Ronbo.  Let’s “Go DuNK” and see what the Killer Dwarfs 2001 sounded like.  At one hour and 11 minutes, Reunion of Scribes is the longest Killer Dwarfs album to date.

Strangely enough for a Canadian band, the concert begins with a recording of “The U.S. Air Force” (also known as “The Wild Blue Yonder”) before the band emerges with a limp version of their own “Dirty Weapons”.  What’s the problem?  It’s certainly not Russ Dwarf, who sounds vintage strong.   The guitar is too thin, and blemished with sour notes here and there.  Hey, it’s been a long time since Mike was a Dwarf!  The drums also sound disconnected from the song from time to time.  Chock it up to a bad recording?  (At the Docks, in Toronto.)  “Stand Tall” also suffers: the guitar needs to be front and center.  The sound of the band suddenly becomes sparse and weak every time Mike Dwarf stops playing the riff in order to lay down a solo.  The bass isn’t fat enough to fill the gap.

Another weakness to this recording is a concentration on songs from 1988-1992.  There’s nothing at all from their first self-titled album, even their first single “Heavy Mental Breakdown”, the song that helped put them on the map.  Instead the Dwarfs focused on more radio-friendly later music for this set.  Of that tunage, most of the hits are here:  “Stand Tall”, “Keep the Spirit Alive”, “Dirty Weapons”, “Doesn’t Matter”, “Hard Luck Town”.  Their first big label single, “We Stand Alone” is missing from the set, which instead includes lots of notable album cuts.  The best of these include “Believe in Me” from their second album Stand Tall.  Russ Dwarf’s ageless voice delivers hard-edged numbers like “Starting to Shine”, “Last Laugh”, “Nothin’ Gets Nothin'”, and “Comin’ Through” with all its usual intensity.

The most emotional moment (for fans) has to be the ballad “Doesn’t Matter”.  “Roll the dice and play the game, for the fortune and the fame.”  The Dwarfs did roll the dice, at least they tried.  “Doesn’t Matter” is a pretty simple lyrically:  get out there and give’r.*  The live recording doesn’t deliver its full power, but I do get the feels to hear them return to Toronto and play this song for their friends.

Most of these songs are still high-quality hard rock workhorses.  While Russ Dwarf brings it all and then some, the poor recording renders Reunion of Scribes an album that will only get infrequent plays at LeBrain HQ.

2/5 stars

* The Killer Dwarfs are the only band I can think of who actually used the word “give’r” in a song lyric.

REVIEW: Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia EP (2016 vinyl)

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Mike and Aaron are doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums that these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

Aaron’s review: Foo Fighters – Saint Cecilia EP

FOO FIGHTERS – Saint Cecilia EP (2016 RCA vinyl)

You know what really grinds my gears? How the media goes ape-shit gaga over every fart or burp that Dave Grohl makes.

The only problem with that is, most of what Dave Grohl says and does is usually quite good.

He’s been on a roll lately, too. The last real clunker he’s released (under any guise, be it Foo Fighters, Them Crooked Vultures, or whoever else) was Foo Fighters’ One By One. None of the following albums could be considered poor by any stretch, though Wasting Light has to be the high water mark of them. Perhaps Grohl’s only weakness is his prolific output. After a while, many of the songs just blur together in a haze of Fooey rock.

Saint Cecilia, released on iTunes last year but only now getting the vinyl treatment, is another quality Foo Fighters release. They dedicated its release to the victims of the terrorist attacks on the Bataclan hall. As usual, it boasts a variety of Foo stylings, all of them loud.

“Saint Cecilia” has become a radio smash, and while its indistinguishable from any other fast melodic Foo rocker, it does stick to your brain. This is my favourite kind of Foo Fighters song anyway — fast, easy to remember, guitar-heavy and loaded with killer drums. A great albeit obvious choice for a single. Faster still is “Sean” recalling Dave’s punk roots. It recalls the sound of the first Foo Fighters album back in ’95, but amped up with a full three guitar band. Two minutes, in-and-out, that’s it for “Sean”. Then “Savior Breath” is vintage metal, making this three genres in three songs and nine minutes! It’s good stuff and even boasts a pretty smoking 80’s guitar solo.

The B-side of the EP commences with the nifty acoustic “Iron Rooster”. It has a cool atmospheric vibe, peaceful, but with the occasional loud bursts of electric guitar. It’s the only break on an otherwise pretty relentless stream of music. “The Neverending Sigh” is anything but. It’s instead a blast of riffage, three guitar’s worth and layered effectively. It defies categorization so we’ll just call it pure Foo Fighters. It’s action packed, complex and it qualifies as one of the finest Foo Fighters compositions in recent memory. Bully for you, Mr. Grohl and Co.!

Incidentally, according to the liner notes, Foo Fighters lineup appears to have expanded to a six piece. Joining Dave, Taylor, Pat (Smear – guitars), Chris (Shiflett – guitars) and Nate (Mendel – bass) is Rami Jaffee on keyboards, listed as a member of Foo Fighters. That’s cool. I always seem to get excited when a band expands its lineup. It’s my Kryptonite!

4/5 stars

REVIEW: Russ Dwarf – Wireless (2013)

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Mike and Aaron will be doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

Aaron’s review: Russ Dwarf – Wireless

RUSS DWARFS – Wireless (2013 Smoothline)

I don’t know where Aaron finds this stuff up in Owen Sound, but here is a pristine digipack CD of Russ Dwarf (of Killer Dwarf) and friends doing acoustic versions of old Killer Dwarfs classics.  Wireless is a great name for such a venture, and the friends list includes Ron “Bumblefoot” Thal (ex-Guns N’ Roses) and Glen Drover (ex-Megadeth).  Holed up in a studio in Newmarket, Ontario they laid down some pretty cool acoustic renditions of these numbers.

“Keep the Spirit Alive” remains irresistible today in acoustic form.  That’s because a good song has a lifespan.  A great chorus and memorable lyrics plus a pinch of magic made “Keep the Spirit Alive” a minor hit.  It’s one of the most purely enjoyable Dwarfs tunes and works well as an acoustic spirit booster.  Russ can still hit all the notes.  From the same album (Stand Tall, 1986) comes “Stand Tall”, which also makes the acoustic transition successfully.  A pretty incredible guitar solo (it’s not clear who is playing what) ensures this isn’t just “KD Lite”.

1988’s “I’m Alive” was an upbeat morale booster in its band arrangement.  Acoustically it’s the campfire version of the same thing.  The musical arrangements on Wireless do not deviate very far from the originals.  There are no radical re-imaginings.  What makes Wireless special for fans is Russell Graham’s earnest and still strong vocals, and of course the impressive six-string slinging of Drover and Bumblefoot.  The harder rock songs transition into an acoustic versions well enough, but ballads like “Doesn’t Matter” really shine.  A touch of piano and a vintage Russell vocal are the perfect topping.  A lot of this sounds live in the studio.  It doesn’t sound like a lot of time was spent mucking around fixing things in the mix, or sweetening things up.   What it sounds like, more or less, is Russ singing live in your living room.

The one thing that I did not think would work acoustically was “Comin’ Through”, the angry barnstormer from Dirty Weapons (1990).   It exists acoustically as a semi-epic and righteous twister through the plains of Canada.  “Crazy fuckin’ people living in the past, can’t you see that ain’t gonna last?” sings Russ with all the grit of the original.  Whatever Mr. Dwarf is doing to maintain his voice…well, good on you sir!  “Dirty Weapons” itself is mournful and slow rather than aggressive.  Interestingly, Russ arranged this album in chronological order.  The last three songs are from the final Dwarfs studio album Method to the Madness (1992).  That puts a nice bow on it, serving as a reminder that the Killer Dwarfs were still writing great tunes right to the end.  I can’t think of a better tune to end with than “Driftin’ Back”.

I quite liked Wireless and recommend it to any fan of the mighty mites known as Killer Dwarfs who wants to check out some quieter versions of their best material.  No new songs, sadly.  That would have been bitchin’.

3.5/5 stars

Spot the Mitch

Spot the Mitch

REVIEW: Blue Rodeo – Just Like a Vacation / “Joker’s Wild” bonus track (1999)

The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2
 Mike and Aaron will be doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

BLUE RODEO – Just Like a Vacation / “Joker’s Wild” bonus track from Stardust Picnic  (1999 Warner)

I spent a lot of days in the summer of 1999 working in the Record Store in Cambridge. That was T-Rev’s store, normally, but he was out of town. He was Ajax, I think, helping build our next franchise. T-Rev is handy so his role was, in theory, supposed to transition to building new stores full time. That never fully happened, which in a way was a good thing, because they never had a plan for filling T-Rev’s time slot as store manager in Cambridge! In the interim, they sent me there and I was responsible for managing two stores. Not the first time and certainly not the last time.

’99 was a great summer for double live albums. There were two in particular I played daily: Sloan’s 4 Nights at the Palais Royale, and Blue Rodeo’s Just Like a Vacation.  Despite the added stress and mileage on the car, these two double live albums helped ensure that summer was hot and fresh with great music.  Blue Rodeo are one of the greatest live bands I’ve seen and I had long been awaiting a full-on double CD set of the live concert experience.

Just Like a Vacation is the absolutely perfect document of the Blue Rodeo experience circa 1999.  Hard edged and jamming, Blue Rodeo were at this time a mixture of country crooning and long noisy Neil Young jams.  The set is taken from a variety of shows and assembled into a coherent running order.  Perhaps the first track, the upbeat country of “Til I am Myself Again” was recorded in Stratford; Jim warns the crowd they may be snowed in that night, a common threat at the Stratford festival during their annual show there!

The first seven Blue Rodeo albums, from Outskirts (1987) to Tremolo (1997) are all essential listening.  This live set is loaded heavy with some of the best songs from that era, from the tender Jim Cuddy ballads (“Try”, “After the Rain”, “Bad Timing”) to the more epic Greg Keelor blasts of power:  “Hasn’t Hit Me Yet”, “Diamond Mine”, “Girl in Green”.  There’s country jazz (“Piranha Pool”), songs for singalongs (“Cynthia”) and even comedic stories of heartbreak (“Florida”).  Jaw-dropping musicianship ensures there is never a dull moment.  Even the slow dance hit ballad “After the Rain” boasts a long, noisy guitar jam at the end.  Blue Rodeo are fearless on stage and this album delivers that.

Some fans noticed that earlier tracks from Outskirts such as “Rebel” and “Joker’s Wild” were seldom played as Blue Rodeo amassed more and more studio albums.  Thanks to HMV, one bonus track is available to add to this live collection:  “Joker’s Wild”, from their promotional Stardust Picnic Sampler CD.  The back cover of the Stardust CD claims there was no room left for “Joker’s Wild” on Just Like a Vacation, but that’s not true.  The first disc is under an hour, and the second is 1:07.  Lots of room on either disc for a four minute bonus track!  Regardless, here is “Joker’s Wild”, a rarity to be sure since it was never available for purchase.  “Joker’s Wild” is done acoustically, very different from the original version.  It transforms from a spy movie theme to a swampy jam with slide and fiddle.

Sure, you could go and buy a Blue Rodeo Greatest Hits CD with your hard-earned dollars.  That’ll get you 14 songs; this’ll get you 22.  Blue Rodeo songs are just as great live as they were in the studio, just different.  You won’t have to suffer through a too-loud audience track, so get Just Like a Vacation instead and experience Blue Rodeo in the venue they were intended for — the stage.  There are even liner notes with a story or two about every song.  It’s a package to be enjoyed for a long period of time, and years later you will still smile.

5/5 stars

 

REVIEW: Rachel Fuller presents: In the Attic with Pete Townsend & friends (2 CD/1 DVD)

Hey folks! It’s The Best Fucking Collaboration Week Ever, Pt. 2! Just like last time, Mike and Aaron will be doing simultaneous daily reviews of albums these two intrepid music reporters have sent to each other. Buckle up, buttercups, it’s gonna be a blast!

RACHEL FULLER presents: In The Attic with Pete Townsend & friends (2009 Eel Pie 2 CD/1 DVD set)

A long time ago, Aaron found this triple disc set at Giant Tiger, for the ridiculously low price of $1.00!  Not being a foolish man, Aaron bought three of them.  One for me, one for the Heavy Metal OverloRd, and one for himself!

Pete Townsend and Rachel Fuller are life partners and musical collaborators.  She hosted a web show called In the Attic that featured performers from all over the musical spectrum.  The Pete Townsend & Friends installment was gifted to me by buddy Aaron!  What he did not know is this:  I’m only a casual Townsend fan (not a collector), but by buying me this, he added some more Tenacious D to my collection of that band!

The DVD contains most (but not all) of the same material as CD, but also a lot more.  For example Tenacious D’s “Tribute” is only on the DVD.  Jack Black was suffering from strep throat that night, and they had to lower the song an octave. For a guy with a sore throat, he still sings pretty great…and even more demonic and evil!  Their “Tommy Medley” is damn impressive, but it’s really too bad that Jack wasn’t in full voice.  Kyle Gass apologized to Pete for this jokey, uber-fast medley, but I don’t think the apology was necessary, since Pete yelled for an encore!

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Joe Purdy was unfamiliar to me before, a folk musician with a large discography.  When he invites his dad Dad onstage, and Pete Townsend fixes his mic stand, there is a brief “we’re not worthy” moment that must have been mind-blowing.  The pair does an original song called “Daisy” (great bluegrass) before Joe performs a couple more: “Let My Love Open the Door” and “Talk About Suffering”, both with Pete.  “Let My Love Open the Door” is the familiar Townsend classic, and delightful in its tender acoustic guise.

Rachel Fuller then performs her original song “Sir Walter Raleigh”, an f-bomb laden piano ballad!  A song is cut here from the DVD, another Fuller original called “I Can Fly”, on CD 1.  This pretty song is a nice contrast.  British solo artist Alexi Murdoch is next with two songs, both originals:  “Dream About Flying” and “Orange Sky”.  His impressive bluesy picking creates a dark folk sound on these songs.  “Orange Sky” is performed with Pete and Rachel which I would imagine reduces most people to jelly.  Imagine having Pete Townsend and his significant other playing on a song YOU wrote….

Most folks should be familiar with Ben Harper who takes the stage next with cellos and violins!  “Please Bleed” is incredible.  With Pete, he does his hit “Diamonds on the Inside”, still great today.  Finally, and still with Pete, they do “I’m One” from Quadrophenia together.  I imagine this is something you would stroke off a bucket list.  “I want this to last a really long time!” says Ben mid-song.

The final guest of the evening is Pete himself, with four acoustic songs.  “The Real Me” takes on a funky vibe, but brilliant as always.  “Acid Queen”, “Drowned” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” complete this Who set.  Even just solo on an acoustic guitar, this set is incredible.  Townsend’s presence and expertise soak through every note.

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That’s the end of that night’s show, but not the end of the DVD.  The release is split in two sections – “The Hotel Cafe” and “Joe’s Pub”.  The “Joe’s Pub” section has plenty more big name stars.  This came from a traveling version of Fuller’s show, shadowing the Who at their festival gigs.  In New York, they did a show at Joe’s Pub, and the first guest was a starstruck Amos Lee.  His two songs are “What’s Been Going On” and “Freedom” (CD only), with special accompaniment by Pete himself.  “What’s Been Going On” is an incredible moment of folk power and feeling.  “Freedom” celebrates with a big soulful chorus.  These are great songs.

Rachel Fuller played two songs at Joe’s Pub:  “Jigsaw” (CD only) and “Cigarettes and Housework” (what, you mean you and Pete can’t afford a maid to do the housework?).  “Jigsaw” is bright and pretty with lyrical references to some certain Who songs!  Fuller’s remarkable voice is the main feature on the sparse “Cigarettes and Housework”.

Of all people, Jimmy Fallon is next.  “Carwash for Peace” reveals that he actually has a pretty good singing voice.  It’s a silly but fun sing-along.  “Let’s have a car wash for peace, there’s trouble in the Middle East,” he sings.  If we do this, there’ll be no more wars, or dirty cars!  It’s hard to argue with that logic.  “President’s Day” is a folksy send-up on the subject of getting totally wasted on President’s Day, because hey, it’s a day off.  “Beer and a shot with my man Dick Cheney!”  Hey, it was 2007, still the Bush years.

Rachael Yamagata takes the stage with Pete Townsend and Kevin Salem for “Paper Doll”, a sultry original acoustic number with some amazing soulful singing.  There’s a nice moment on the DVD when Rachael smiles, looking at Pete playing her song, a real “pinch me” experience I’m sure.  Her other song, “Be Be My Love” (CD only) has a similar chord progression as Bon Jovi’s “I’ll Be There For You”.  This is her first song on her first album and I’m sure any similarity is coincidental.  Then it’s Townsend’s turn to go it alone, with “Acid Queen” and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (both CD only).

The final guest on this set is Mr. Lou Reed.  “White Light/White Heat” with Pete is a moment so gravitous* that news reports suggest a new black hole formed over New York that night!  “Pale Blue Eyes”, with accompaniment by Pete on the chorus, is delicate and weighty at once.

For a mere buck, I would postulate that In the Attic with Pete Townsend & friends has to have the most bang-per-dollar value of any purchase made for my collection.  This is great stuff for music fans of all tastes.

4/5 stars

* Not an actual word.

 

#380.5: Thank You!

KMA

KeepsMeAlive

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#380.5: ThankYou!

Thanks to you, the reader, for joining us this week for THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER! All week, Aaron and I reviewed the same discs, and it was a ton ‘o fun. You got two reviews for the price of none each day! On Tuesday, Aaron’s gracious co-host over at the KeepsMeAlive, James, joined us to review Danko Jones’ Born a Lion CD!  A big thanks to Aaron and James for a very fun week.

Due to the great reception, I have a feeling this will happen again, with an even larger field of participants. We shall see.

Below you will find links to every installment. Be sure to check ’em out, especially since you don’t want to have to read my crap all the time.  Enjoy!

METAL HEALTH_0001

QUIET RIOT – Metal Health

DANKO_0001

DANKO JONES – Born a Lion

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BLACK CROWES B-SIDES

PURE CULT

THE CULT – Pure Cult

priest

CUSTOM PRIEST BOX SET MANIA!


#380: Custom Priest Box Set Mania!

THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER

Alas, it’s the end of THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER!* I made a five disc Judas Priest box set for Aaron a while ago.  Let’s take a close look at the tracks.  Dig in!

Aaron: Custom Priest Box Set Mania!

priest

RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#380: Custom Priest Box Set Mania!

I’ve known Aaron, your incredible co-host over at the KeepsMeAlive website, for almost 20 years.  For most of those 20 years we haven’t lived in the same town, so we kept in touch via email, text messages, and physical mail.  It wasn’t that long ago that we were sending each other parcels semi-regularly, including musical gifts and mix CDs.  Mix CDs are an art that we both take very seriously.

At one point Aaron had expressed interest in hearing more Judas Priest, so I took it upon myself to create a custom box set, by me, for him.  The official Metalogy box set is pretty good, but as I said in my review for it, “just not the box set that I would have made given the opportunity.”  Aaron gave me the opportunity so I decided to out-do Metalogy and go for a full five discs, and update him to the then-current Priest album Nostradamus.

I found a track listing that I drafted for that very set.  The final CDs that I made for him may have differed, because I was rough-guessing my disc times here.  As close as I have records of, this is the box set that I burned for Aaron.  Let’s take a look at it disc by disc and see how it holds up.

Rocka Rolla – The Old Grey Whistle Test

DISC 1

1. One For The Road
2. Rocka Rolla
3. Diamonds and Rust
4. Dreamer Deceiver
5. Deceiver
6. Cheater
7. Caviar and Meths
8. Prelude
9. Tyrant
10. Dissident Aggressor
11. Better By You, Better Than Me
12. Race With The Devil
13. Stained Class
14. Beyond The Realms of Death
15. Exciter
16. Delivering The Goods
17. Rock Forever
18. Burnin’ Up
19. The Green Manalishi (With The Two-Pronged Crown)
20. Take On The World
21. Hell Bent For Leather

In my Metalogy review, I complained about the absence of “Rocka Rolla” and “One For the Road”.  I have fixed that oversight here, but at the cost of “Never Satisfied”.  It’s not the perfect trade-off.  The ending to “Never Satisfied” was as epic as early Priest got, so it is a win for a loss.  I replaced the live “Diamonds and Rust” with the studio version though, so that is a good thing for a listener like Aaron.  I like that I included the rare “Race With the Devil”, a cover of The Gun.  There is also a healthy dose of Hell Bent for Leather/Killing Machine.  I’m not sure what I was thinking with the track order, but I probably modified that before I burned the final CD.


When the Tax Man comes for Priest’s money, he loses his head and pants!

DISC 2

1. Victim of Changes (Live)
2. Sinner (Live)
3. The Ripper (Live)
4. Breaking The Law (Live)
5. You Don’t Have To Be Old To Be Wise
6. Living After Midnight
7. The Rage
8. Desert Plains
9. Heading Out To The Highway
10. Troubleshooter
11. Turnin’ Circles
12. Riding On The Wind
13. (Take These) Chains
14. Bloodstone
15. You Got Another Thing Comin’
16. Devil’s Child
17. The Hellion / Electric Eye (Live)
18. Steeler (Live)

I see here that I included the live versions of “The Ripper” and “Victim of Changes”.  I suppose that I left these on, because Unleashed in the East is such a critical live album.  It simply must be represented on a box set like this, so I chose to keep a few songs, some of the best ones.  I also like to include rare tracks, so I snagged the live “Steeler” from the radio broadcast CD called Concert Classics. I see a lot of personal favourites on this CD, especially from Screaming for Vengeance. Pretty damn fine disc!

In the dead of night, Love Bites

DISC 3

1. Love Bites
2. Jawbreaker
3. Rock Hard Ride Free
4. The Sentinel
5. Some Heads Are Gonna Roll
6. Night Comes Down (Live)
7. Heavy Duty
8. Defenders of the Faith
9. Turbo Lover
10. Parental Guidance
11. Reckless
12. Out In The Cold (Live)
13. Metal Gods (Live)
14. Freewheel Burning (Live)
15. Ram It Down
16. Hard As Iron
17. Blood Red Skies

From Defenders of the Faith to Ram it Down, the 80’s can be a tricky period of Judas Priest to navigate. This third CD could have been the worst. I opened with the studio version of “Love Bites”, where Metalogy utilized an unreleased live version. I think it makes a great disc opener. For rarities I went with the live “Night Comes Down” instead, a great version from the Priest Re-Masters.  I also had to represent Priest…Live! from this era, so I chose its dramatic concert opener “Out in the Cold” as a live version.  The live version of “Metal Gods” from that album is more melodic than others, so I went with it too.  I look at this disc as some of the very best Priest from this period.

Priest with Ripper – Blood Stained, live in London

DISC 4

1. Heart of a Lion (Demo)
2. Painkiller
3. Hell Patrol
4. One Shot at Glory
5. Jugulator
6. Rapid Fire ‘98
7. Burn In Hell
8. A Touch of Evil (Live)
9. Blood Stained (Live)
10. One On One
11. Feed On Me
12. What’s My Name
13. Running Wild (Live)
14. The Ripper (Live)
15. Diamonds and Rust (Live)
16. The Green Manalishi (With The Two Pronged Crown) ‘98

There it is! “Heart of a Lion” is one of the best rare Priest demos, only available on the Metalogy box set, but recorded in the Turbo era.  It would make a good disc opener, but following it with “Painkiller”?  I’m not sure about my transition there.  It could be like a sledgehammer of awesome, or it could be an awkward stumble.  I think the most difficult mixture of different periods has to be the sudden change of lead singers.  When Tim “Ripper” Owens replaced Rob Halford on 1997’s Jugulator, the band’s sound changed.  That’s probably why I chose a remake of the oldie “Rapid Fire” to be one of the first Ripper songs on this CD.  There are also plenty of live versions here of old Priest classics, from the various live albums Priest did with Ripper.  “Blood Stained” was a live take on a new Ripper song, from their ’98 Live Meltdown album.  I think it’s vastly superior to the original version on Jugulator.   “What’s My Name” is included as a rare B-side from the Japanese version of Demolition.  On the whole I think this is a pretty good CD representing a difficult period in Priest history, and in hindsight it could use more tracks from Painkiller.

The Hellrider, live — same version that I used

DISC 5

1. Judas Rising
2. Revolution
3. Worth Fighting For
4. Demonizer
5. Angel
6. Hellrider (Live)
7. Between the Hammer & the Anvil (Live)
8. Eat Me Alive (Live)
9. Dawn of Creation
10. Prophesy
11. Revelations
12. Death (Live)
13. Persecution
14. Calm Before The Storm
15. Nostradamus

I remember having a really hard time with this disc. I wanted to give Nostradamus a fair shake, but as a double concept album it didn’t lend itself well to chopping up into bits for a mix CD.  By the time I got to this mix CD, all I had left to include were two studio albums (Angel of Retribution and Nostradamus) and a live album (A Touch of Evil) to utilize.  The version of “Hellrider” from that live album is among my favourite tracks due to Rob Halford’s over the top screaming.  This disc doesn’t appear to have any rarities among its tracks.  Not a bad disc but I think I could have done better here.

I remember having difficulty burning the CDs to my satisfaction.  There was some quirk happening with my Nero version, and ultimately I just abandoned the project and sent the discs to Aaron.  Apparently I didn’t even bother making a track list or covers for him.

Making mix CDs to my own satisfaction is a lot of work.  I know I sunk a lot of time into this Priest set, ripping the discs and meticulously choosing the songs.  Ultimately though, it was just fun to hand pick the Judas Priest songs to help Aaron in his exploration of this awesome band.

Monday: QUIET RIOT – Metal Health
Tuesday: DANKO JONES – Born A Lion
Wednesday: Aaron’s Black Crowes B-sides
Thursday: THE CULT – Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995

* Not the last collaboration, however.  Stay tuned.

REVIEW: The Cult – Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995

THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER

For today’s installment of THE BEST FUCKING COLLABORATION WEEK EVER, Aaron and I are actually reviewing different albums.  Sort of.  He’s doing Pure Cult: For Rockers, Ravers, Lovers, and Sinners.  I’m doing Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995.  Same album, different versions thereof with slightly different tracklistings.  Dig in!

Aaron: The Cult – Pure Cult: For Rockers, Ravers, Lovers, and Sinners

PURE CULTTHE CULT – Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995 (2000 Beggars Banquet)

The original 1993 Pure Cult was great.  It didn’t need to be updated only seven years later, but given the chance to remaster and repackage something must be irresistible to cigar-chewing execs.*  The remastering ushered in a series of Cult reissues, coinciding with a reunion tour.  There was also an issue with an unauthorized UK compilation from 1996 called High Octane Cult.  That CD, which contained an exclusive new song called “In the Clouds”, was discontinued and replaced by this new Pure Cult, which re-released “In the Clouds” on its tracklist.

“In the Clouds” is a smashing song, heavy as a really heavy thing, from 1995.  It was recorded for a potential followup to 1994’s The Cult, but released on High Octane Cult when the band split up.  The sound points towards the heavy metal direction of 2001’s Beyond Good and Evil.  The hard hitting snare of drummer Garret is deliciously snappy.   Although “In the Clouds” isn’t particularly memorable on its own, I love when the Cult go really heavy.   That makes this an unsung classic.

As for Pure Cult: The Singles, “She Sells Sanctuary” still opens affairs as it did on the old Pure Cult.  It remains as shimmery as it was in the glow of the 1980’s.  Ian’s irresistible howl doesn’t remind me of Morrison one bit actually, but let’s not forget Billy Duffy and his big white Gibson.  Duffy has always been about his guitar sound, which changes from album to album.  It seems his guitar sets the tone for the album, and “She Sells Sanctuary” benefits from his echo-laden Edge-isms.


The first six songs on the CD are the same running order as the original.  I have always been fond of the Cult’s Sonic Temple period, and “Fire Woman” has aged remarkably well.  Say what you will about Bob Rock, his production has stood up on this track.  Back then, he was trashed for glossing up the Cult’s sound too much.  By today’s standards, this is a sparse production!  But if you like it basic, “Lil’ Devil” produced by Rick Rubin is excactly what you need.  The Electric period is universally celebrated by Cult diehards as a high point, and you can see why on “Lil’ Devil”.

I dig Dreamtime‘s “Spiritwalker”, but I think “The Witch” is really cool.  Produced once again by Rick Rubin but going in a completely different direction, “The Witch” brought electronic dance beats to the Cult giving them an industrial edge.  “The Witch” was released on the soundtrack to a movie called Cool World in 1992, but it received wider exposure the following year on the original Pure Cult.  Regardless of a strong chart performance for the song, the Cult chose not to go with Rick Rubin for their next album and instead returned to Bob Rock!  “The Witch” remains a cool experiment and a great song.

Love‘s “Revolution” is still one of my favourite Cult ballads, and it helps you come down from the rush that is “The Witch”.  The “Love Removal Machine” and “Rain” keep the classic momentum brewing, but this is the first deviation from the original Pure Cult running order.  “Wild Hearted Son”, a hard rocker from 1991, has been moved to the end of the album, though it originally fell after “Revolution”.  Then “In the Clouds” takes us fully into heavy modern Cult territory.  1994’s “Coming Down (Drug Tongue)” represents the alterna-Cult that responded to the grunge onslaught.  These two newer songs don’t replace any others at this point on Pure Cult; rather they are inserted between “Rain” and “Edie (Ciao Baby)”.  Ceremony‘s “Heart of Soul” follows “Edie” for over eight minutes of power balladry, but since it’s The Cult we are going to let it slide.

The song “Love” has been deleted from the running order, and we go straight into the classic “Wild Flower”.  Every bit as good as “Love Removal Machine”, these hits are still slamming today.  “Star” from 1994 is unnecessarily inserted into the track list here, a forgotten single that nobody really cares about.  “Go West” and “Resurrection Joe” from Dreamtime are flipped in order; now “Resurrection Joe” comes first.  I like the jittery early Cult, but it’s stunning how they change from album to album.  “Sun King” is an interesting choice from Sonic Temple, though I do love the song, it wasn’t that well known as a single.  “Wild Hearted Son” is dropped in here, in single edit version without the intro.  Finally “Sweet Soul Sister” closes the CD, in its music video mix which is a nice track to have since it wasn’t even on the CD single.  Unfortunately the original ass-kicking closer “Earth Mofo” has been deleted!  That is truly a shame, since it is such a rush of a rock song.

Ultimately Pure Cult: The Singles 1984-1995 has one more track overall compared to the original release.  Unfortunately I don’t think it’s quite as good.

4.5/5 stars

* This CD was followed by the release of the 7-disc box set Rare Cult (a review of which is coming this year), and a compilation called Best of Rare Cult!

Monday: QUIET RIOT – Metal Health
Tuesday: DANKO JONES – Born A Lion
Wednesday: Aaron’s Black Crowes B-sides