Here’s a Sausagefest telling of what would later become Record Store Tales Part 289: Tom’s Frozen Beater. This was recorded for the 2013 ‘Fest.
GETTING MORE TALE #558: Easter Eggs
“Easter eggs” – Hidden content that you have to really search to find. Often refers to hidden DVD/Blu-ray bonus features. The first DVD Easter egg I heard of was on the original “steelbook” version of Terminator 2. If you go to the right menu and punch in the exact date of Judgment Day, you can access a super-extra-extended version of the film, only visible in this specific way. Another great DVD Easter egg was on Fellowship of the Ring. Click around, and you will find a clip from the MTV movie awards where Jack Black has pierced his own wiener with the One Ring.
The term “Easter eggs” is common vocabulary today, and has expanded to include secret cameos or information in films too. Recent examples: The appearance of the droid Chopper from Star Wars: Rebels in the new film Rogue One. Or brief glimpse of Lexcorp trucks, in Man of Steel. They’re designed not to be immediately noticed, but only detected by die-hard fans after repeat viewings.
The old Record Store has Easter eggs too, so secret that I don’t think anyone who still works there even knows about them. But they’re still there.
When I first began Record Store Tales, I made a decision to never publicly identify the name of the store. For that reason, I’ll remain vague. Back in the olden days when everybody more or less got along, at least two Easter eggs were hidden somewhere on the store website. They were nods and winks at two employees: myself, and one other guy who had been there a long time. They are still there, hidden unless you know where to look. They were never removed even after both of us left.
There is one more Easter egg, that only two people know about: Tom (co-founder of Sausagefest) and myself. Tom owned a franchise at the time. When he eventually moved on to something else, he asked me to do him a favour. He wanted to leave his mark in some way on the place. I can understand that. Tom, T-Rev, a couple others, and I put our blood, sweat and tears into that store. It wouldn’t be right to call us “original members” or “founding fathers”, because there was only one owner who started it all. T-Rev and I weren’t owners, we had no stakes. It was all just pure passion. We were there in the very early days as we made the baby steps. We contributed all our energy to that place, helping to build it and make it grow. I can’t speak for Tom, but I personally am very proud of that. Tom pushed to be the first one that carried vinyl. T-Rev helped actually build the stores, putting up shelving and all the works. I trained dozens of people and came up with the idea of a store newsletter. It’s not as if they have a “wall of fame” with our pictures on it. Tom leaving his mark seems pretty justifiable.
So, he asked me to sneak something in there, and I did. Tom’s little tribute is still on the website. Only he and I know where to look. His franchise was always kickass, and he personally supplied me with plenty of great rock from there, including autographed Helix records, some Foo Fighters singles and a rare live Judas Priest. He had a 25 cent bin of vinyl that always had good stuff in it. Let’s all raise our Romulan ale to a true rock and roll animal, the mighty Tom.
Part two of a two part series. Part one: High Country album review
GUEST CONCERT REVIEW by UNCLE MEAT
I don’t think we ever found out the name of the first band that played on this night. They had some great riffy moments, nothing too spectacular but a good way to warm up the crowd. Seconds after they finished their set, Tom turned to me and said, “Never too old to enjoy a Rock Show.” A month earlier we had enjoyed another Rock Show, catching ZZ (that little band from Texas) Top when they rode into town. Ironically enough, tonight was all about seeing The Sword, another band of Texans who actually cite ZZ as a major influence. Six degrees of integrity, or something like that. Thus begins yet another musical journey, and yes Thomas is right. In our 40’s and still lovin’ the Rock Show.
I had the pleasure of seeing The Sword once before as openers for Kyuss Lives: Relentless hard-rock riffing personified. We realized that this would be quite the different experience. Not only because they were playing a headlining set, but more importantly, we were seeing a completely different band than they were just a few years ago. Debuting in 2006, The Sword released four great metal albums. Albums that I definitely enjoyed, but apart from a few exceptional tracks, to me they were just another metal band. While I can still appreciate a good thrashing once in a red Satanic moon, the genre as a whole has kind of taken a nostalgic back seat for me. Before their latest album High Country was released, I didn’t LOVE The Sword. When I read comments from The Sword that basically stated that this new album would reflect more of who they really are, and that if they made another similar “metal” album it wouldn’t be authentic, it instantly intrigued me. From the first listen I connected with the polarizing High Country in a serious way. So much so that I actually over-played it and had to put it away for a bit. However “metal” fans had a different take on it. Almost every review I read was negative and most of them could have been summed up with three words: “not heavy enough”. That’s OK, cement-heads. They didn’t make this album for you. They made this album for themselves, and apparently me. Several songs on High Country tap into the 70’s soft-rock genre (Ambrosia/Little River Band/Bee Gees) that I am a huge sucker for. Thank you The Sword.
Since this is the home of Record Store Tales, I should include this. While we were in London we stopped by the Record Store Tom used to own in London. I don’t think the name of this particular chain can be mentioned around these parts, but I swear it doesn’t rhyme with “Pete Rose Con”. Anyways, I witnessed first-hand that while record stores are a dying breed, there are still gems to be mined out there. Tom’s face lights up as he finds a new copy of a Spiritual Beggars CD being sold new, at a used record store. Irony ensues as we find out that the store manager that ordered in that particular CD was a guy Tom trained 20 years ago. Sowing the seeds of Rock. But I digress.
Second opening band Royal Thunder took the stage and began doing a…umm…sound check? Considering there was a fair crowd in the London Music Theater at this point, this was something I haven’t seen very often, if at all. After their first song which understandably sounded pretty shitty, the female lead singer goes on a bit of a tirade about problems at the border and that Canadian cops are assholes. Aha! Live sound check explained. Royal Thunder had some great groove moments, but too many scattered riffs going nowhere. And too much “plinkilly plinkilly” with the guitars going on; it overall needed some more beef to it. Female lead singer/bass player certainly had some good pipes on her, but and I quote from Tom, “I liked their sound check better than most of their set.” To me they kinda sounded as if Bonnie Tyler developed an affinity for Satan and became the singer of Concrete Blonde. I also enjoyed that the drummer looked like our friend Tyler Generoux or 1971 Ian Paice, and he played like 1971 Bill Ward. In all reality their whole set acted as a glorified sound check for The Sword anyways. Step aside…this is High Country.
The lights go down and before The Sword come out, Christopher Cross’s “Ride Like the Wind” blares through the theater and it’s a glorious confirmation to me. This band is making a statement right away. High Country’s opening track “Unicorn Farm” plays as the hombres walk on stage. Launching into the album’s next track, Empty Temples, all sound issues have been corrected and they sound great. It’s during this song that it hits me. The Sword is one of my favorite bands and I don’t know even the first name of any band member on stage. I can still tell you off the top of my head that the classic lineup of Ratt is Stephen Pearcy, Juan Croucier, Bobby Blotzer, Warren DiMartini and Robbin Crosby. I even know how to spell them. But I have to use Google to find out the names of the members of one of my favourite bands. That’s just freakin’ stupid.
Lead singer John D. Cronise (who also plays rhythm/lead guitar) never had your typical heavy metal voice, so their new direction sits right in his wheelhouse. His partner in axemanship, Kyle Shutt, is the most rambunctious one in the band, and these two guys trade rhythm/lead guitar with the grace and prowess of combos like Adrian Smith/Dave Murray or any or all of the twin guitar combinations within the under-appreciated Thin Lizzy, and the great Wishbone Ash. Watching these guys together was a pure joy. Perhaps the most interesting musician on stage was bass player Bryan Richie, realizing early on that the standing synthesizer and keyboard foot pedals surrounding him make it possible for them to play some of the more eclectic material from High Country on stage. The band’s new direction has basically made him the most important member of the band, for live performances. Last but not least, in the immortal words of David St. Hubbins…“Great drummah…great drummah”. Fittingly enough, he even has a Spinal Tap-esque name. His name is Santiago “Jimmy” Vela III. You just can’t make that shit up. But seriously, he was a very solid drummer. Every few songs he would ride that cowbell all the way to Valhalla! There is just something about the cowbell that cuts clean through, especially with live music. It’s powers certainly worked on Tom and I, as we often found ourselves screaming ROCK SHOW!!…ROCK SHOW!!, in appreciation of The majestic Sword.
Staying mostly within the hallowed fields of High Country, more aggressive tracks “Ghost Eye” and “Suffer No Fools” actually conjured up a mini mosh-pit, which thankfully faded away as fast as it started. Who needs that bullshit anymore. Stand-out track “The Dreamthieves” was executed perfectly with background vocals and keyboards abound. The mind-blowing portion of the night comes when they play the robust “Mist & Shadow”, putting everyone in a rock and roll haze. I have been calling this song “The ‘Layla’ of hard rock” since I first heard it, and the patience in the composition and performance of “Mist & Shadow” defines not only this show for me but what this band has become.
The Sword left and subsequently returned to the stage for their encore. This is when I believe the band made its most profound statement of the night. I am sure that the metal fans wanted to hear their classic riffer “How Heavy This Axe”: Great heavy tune off their second album that I wanted to hear as well. Almost seemed to be what they should do. Instead, they chose to play the two tracks on High Country that are the most un-metal songs of not only the album, but their career. It was a brilliant choice and the message was clear. A message that became clearer as the lights come on and America’s “You Can Do Magic” starts playing. The look on some of the stunned faces around me in the crowd were pretty comical, and made me almost me feel proud of this band for not taking the easy way and going through the motions with just another metal album. This is what happens when musicians know who they are and what they want to become. Maybe the message is that once you get to this magical place that The Sword are in musically…You can do magic. You can play anything that you desire.
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#422: Sausagefest 2015 – The Complete Countdown
The annual trek to Sausagefest is centred upon the always epic Countdown. There were many misadventures on the way to the Countdown, and after. While I am sworn to abide by the credo “What happens at Sausagefest stays at Sausagefest,” I am also bound by my own nature as a storyteller. Therefore, I can share with you a number of brief tidbits, hints, and insinuations.
Yes founder Chris Squire died only days before the Sausagefest countdown. It was too late to include a tribute a Squire tribute into the countdown itself, so Tom and Uncle Meat sequenced about an hour of Squire’s best music to precede the actual countdown. This was a promising hour, but upon hitting “play” on the laptop, it was immediately obvious that something was wrong. We were only getting one channel. Yes music, with its layers and wide stereo panning, turned out to be great music to test the four speakers. Unfortunately it took almost all of the Squire-allotted time, seventeen men* and one record producer to figure out that all the muss was being caused by an RCA adapter somewhere. We got two Squire songs, excellent as they were.
The Countdown this year was informally dubbed “The Greatest Songs of All Time”, because for the first time in years, the slate had been cleared and any and all songs were open for voting. Because of this anything goes approach and some younger blood, we got to hear a lot of classic tunes that often are either overlooked or just not up for grabs. I’m sure this was the first ever appearance of Boston on the countdown. I can probably say the same for Foreigner. These top ten hits are offset by more obscure favourites by Ian Thomas and UFO.
Now below, please analyse and enjoy the one and only OFFICIAL 2015 Sausagefest Countdown. Every track was a winner. I’ve highlighted songs I voted for (only two this year).
|1||Battle Scar||Max Webster/Rush|
|2||Shine on You Crazy Diamond^||Pink Floyd|
|3||Hallowed be Thy Name||Iron Maiden|
|5||Sultans of Swing||Dire Straits|
|6||La Villa Strangiato||Rush|
|7||Eulogy for the Damned||Orange Goblin|
|8||When the Levee Breaks||Led Zeppelin|
|10||A Day in the Life||The Beatles/War mashup|
^ The whole thing…parts I-IX.
Look at that majesty. FOUR RUSH SONGS IN THE TOP TEN!
|12||Heaven and Hell||Black Sabbath|
|13||Toronto Tontos||Max Webster|
|14||Wish You Were Here||Pink Floyd|
|16||Rime of the Ancient Mariner||Iron Maiden|
|17||Master of Puppets||Metallica|
|18||End of my Daze||Trouble|
|19||Papa Was a Rolling Stone||The Temptations|
|20||The Trooper||Iron Maiden|
|21||Ramble Tamble||Creedence Clearwater Revival|
|22||War Pigs||Black Sabbath|
|23||Penis Ground||Groove Daddys|
|24||The Ocean||Led Zeppelin|
|26||Sympathy for the Devil||The Rolling Stones|
|27||Muffin Man||Frank Zappa|
|29||Child in Time (Live ’72)||Deep Purple|
|30||Aces High||Iron Maiden|
|31||Into the Void||Black Sabbath|
|32||25 or 6 to 4||Chicago|
|33||Machine Gun||Jimi Hendrix/Band of Gypsies|
|36||Old Man||Neil Young|
|37||Suite: Judy Blue Eyes||CSNY|
|38||Illegal Smile||John Prine|
|39||Testify||Rage Against the Machine|
|40||Get Up Offa That Thing||James Brown|
|45||Tres Brujas||The Sword|
|47||The Temples of Syrinx||Rush|
|48||Space Oddity||David Bowie|
|49||46 & 2||Tool|
“Then I fuckin’ diddle-riddle-dee-doo.”
|50||Monkberry Moon Delight||Paul McCartney & Wings|
|52||What is Hip?||Tower of Power|
|53||Over the Hills and Far Away||Led Zeppelin|
|54||The Mob Goes Wild||Clutch|
|55||Better Living Through Chemistry||Queens of the Stone Age|
|57||Roadhouse Blues||The Doors|
|58||Inside Looking Out||Grand Funk Railroad|
|60||Don’t Stop Me Now||Queen|
|61||Careful with that Axe Eugene||Pink Floyd|
|62||The Chain||Fleetwood Mac|
|65||Fairies Wear Boots||Black Sabbath|
|66||Where the Devil Don’t Stay||Drive By Truckers|
|67||Fat Bottomed Girls||Queen|
|73||Green Eyed Lady||Sugarloaf|
|75||Red Hot Mama||Funkadelic|
|76||Painted Ladies||Ian Thomas|
|77||Down by the River||Neil Young|
Please note that double-shot of Queen, above!
Also note the presence of “Penis Ground” by the Groove Daddys (not to be confused with the Groove Daddies, or Groove Daddy). This was a local trio fronted by guitarist and singer extraordinaire Rob Szabo. I certainly didn’t expect anything that obscure making the list, considering the diversity of folks that attend. To rank all the way up at #23? That’s proof of the sheer quality of the music. Indi enough for ya?
Once again, a huge thanks to Tom, Meat and everyone else for working so hard for us. Thanks Craig Fee and Jeff Woods for your much-appreciated willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty. And lastly thanks to Uncle Meat for being such a delightful travel-mate this year. Enjoy some of these pictures from the weekend, official video still to follow!
The Live Bands:
* I didn’t take a head-count, but I swear if it wasn’t seventeen guys trying to fix the thing, it was close. It doesn’t really matter because more wouldn’t have helped!
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#355: “The man’s hot piss warmed my freezing cold hands”
Once upon a time, in a Record Store not far away, there was a manager named Joe. Some people call him “Big Nose”. Some people just call him Joe. Two things about Joe you must understand: 1) Joe doesn’t give a crap about what anybody thinks, and 2) Joe doesn’t really know boundaries. Joe is the one who told me he had a crush on my mom. Joe is the one who introduced me to the Open Door Piss. I like Joe, don’t get me wrong. He was pretty much the only one at the Record Store that I could confide in towards the end. He is trustworthy, 100%. A solid individual. He was the best support I could have had. But I’d be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that Joe is different from just about everybody you know.
The Tale goes like this:
Joe and Uncle Meat were driving from Waterloo to Windsor, to go and visit Tom who was attending teacher’s college there. It was December, and a cold one it was. By this time, Tom sold his own branch of the Record Store, so he could continue his education and become a teacher. Joe and Meat were travelling in Joe’s old beat up piece of shit. It was the quintessential “old man car”. It was huge, ancient, and nothing worked. I’m amazed it made to Windsor and back, honestly. One of the features that no longer functioned was the heat, which is a pretty darned important thing during a Canadian December.
Sometime during the three hour tour, Joe had to piss. Pulling off highway 401 to pee isn’t Joe’s style. Instead, he re-invented the piss jug, but with a large Tim Horton’s coffee cup. After relieving himself in said cup, he passed it to Meat!
Meat, all this time, was freezing his ass off in the passenger side. His hands and fingers in particular were as frigid as icicles. Although being passed a cup of piss in most situations isn’t a position you want to be in, this time it wasn’t so bad. The cup “felt like a hot double double in my hands,” says Meat. Still warm with Joe’s body heat, the piss-cup helped Meat regain some of the sensation in his digits. “What’s the greatest gift you can give? The warmth from inside of you. The man’s hot piss warmed my freezing cold hands,” according to Uncle Meat.
After warming his fingers, Meat rolled down the window. He carefully prepared the cup for ejection. He managed to throw it while only getting a surprisingly “minimal amount of piss” on his arm.
Neither Uncle Meat nor I condone littering, but sometimes life hands you a warm cup of piss, and you have no choice in the matter!
For the Top Whatever of No Pre-Determined Amount from two of Canada’s most knowledgeable rock gods, stay tuned right here. From Meaford Ontario, weighing in at XXX lbs, it’s Iron Tom Sharpe, who turns it up to 11.
Tom’s Top Eleven of 2014
11. Various Artists – RONNIE JAMES DIO: This Is Your Life
10. JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE – Single Mothers
9. MASTODON – Once More ‘Round the Sun
8. EARLY MAN – Thank God You’ve Got the Answers For Us All
7. OPETH – Pale Communion
6. JOHN GARCIA – John Garcia
5. ST. PAUL & the BROKEN BONES – Half the City
4. sHEAVY – The Best Of sHeavy – A Misleading Collection
3. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – English Oceans
2. BRANT BJORK and the LOW DESERT PUNK BAND – Black Power Flower
1. ORANGE GOBLIN – Back From The Abyss
Saving the best for last, here’s Uncle Meat. For added rocket sauce he’s also given me his top movies of 2014.
Meat’s Top Eight of 2014
8. MASTODON – Once More ‘Round the Sun
7. ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN – Meteorites
6. FOO FIGHTERS – Sonic Highways
5. “WEIRD AL” YANKOVIC – Mandatory Fun
4. FLYING COLORS – Second Nature
3. BRANT BJORK and the LOW DESERT PUNK BAND – Black Power Flower
2. DRIVE-BY TRUCKERS – English Oceans
1. ORANGE GOBLIN – Back From the Abyss
Meat’s Top Twelve Movies of 2014
11. X Men : Days of Future Past
10. St. Vincent
8. The Lego Movie
7. The Grand Budapest Hotel
6. Captain America: The Winter Soldier
5. The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies
4. Guardians of the Galaxy
3. Get On Up
GUEST SHOT by UNCLE MEAT
RECORD STORE TALES MkII: Getting More Tale
#340: A Tribute to Jeff Woods
When you meet someone who has some sort of “celebrity” status, you almost expect them to be stand-off ish with you. A few years ago Tom and I won the chance as per a radio contest to see an intimate-type interview with Geddy Lee and Alex Lifeson of Rush, which was conducted by Legends of Classic Rock/Q107 radio personality Jeff Woods. We met Geddy and Alex very briefly and had a quick picture taken. However the true joy of this experience was our meeting afterwards with Jeff Woods.
He was extremely accommodating to our request of a sound byte for our Sausagefest recordings. He has continued to participate for a few years now and I thought I would post this to show just for appreciation to the man.
After a first try, he himself offers to “take it from the top”. He had known us for all of 30 seconds. He excused himself to leave to get a pen, and come back and record so he could get it right.
Important side note…became Facebook friends with Mr. Woods a week after this was done. Looking over his timeline, I noticed a post he put up days before we met him. It read, “Integrity is how you treat people that can do nothing for you”. Good to know someone out there practices what he preaches.
RECORD STORE TALES Mk II: Getting More Tale
#339: Tyler and LeBrain episode two – Monster Truck & More
Missed the last episode of Tyler and LeBrain? Click here for episode one: Nickelback, and get up to speed.
Today’s subect: Continuing our Nickelback discussion, Tyler and I turn to a controversial comparison: Do Nickelback and Monster Truck sound the same? Listen to what we have to say, and leave your thoughts in the comments. Enjoy.
*NOTE: I got the name of the Fu Manchu song and album wrong. It’s “Saturn III” from The Action Is Go.
RECORD STORE TALES Part 289: Tom’s Frozen Beater
This is a previously unreleased story! It was first recorded in audio format only, as a special “exclusive” Record Store Tale for Sausagefest XII. Now, the text version is available for all to enjoy — a rare exclusion to the “What happens at Sausagefest, stays at Sausagefest” rule.
It was early in 1995, winter. The near-legendary Tom, who today hosts Sausagefest every year, was working the day shift at our mall store. I was working the 5-9 shift. As was my modus operandi, I showed up early (about 4:30) to check out the new stock and do bank runs. Tom and I caught up for a bit; he was acting as store manager for the moment and let me know what needed to be done.
His shifted ended, Tom met some of his friends at the store, and departed. I began my shift and started pricing new CDs for sale.
10 minutes later, Tom and his friends stormed back into the store.
It was the first time I had ever seen Tom enraged.
“Jeez, is there anything I can do to help?”
“Not unless you have lock de-icer on you,” Tom responded. I did not have lock de-icer. I had walked to work.
I’m assuming the Zellers store in the mall was also sold out of de-icer, because Tom’s next proposed solution surprised me.
“Fuck it. I’ll just sleep here tonight. I have to open tomorrow anyway. Yeah, fuck it. This is fine. I’ll fucking just lie down in between Easy Listening and Rap. Fuck it. Yeah. Fuck, I’m sleeping here tonight.”
Great googly-moogly! Was that even allowed? Tom scoped out that section of floor, eyeballing it, making mental measurements.
“Fuck, this is perfect, I’ll just sleep right there on the floor.”
Thankfully one of Tom’s friends found some hot water from the mall coffee shop, and with some effort they got one of the car’s doors open. If they hadn’t, it might have been the first time somebody slept on the floor! (It would not have been the last time – a homeless man fell asleep on my floor in the middle of the afternoon once.)
Tom however has a different conclusion to the story: “A little piss on the lock and voila…”