Uncle Meat

Happy Birthday Uncle Meat!

Let’s all wish a happy birthday to Uncle Meat!  Good pal, Jedi Master, and rock and roll contributor Uncle Meat is one year older with more metal in his body than ever before.  (A plate in his leg!)

Happy birthday Meatmaster General!  A man actually made of metal!

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#576: “Why’d You Lick My Pee-noose?” – The Sausagefest 2017 Countdown

GETTING MORE TALE #576: “Why’d You Lick My Pee-noose?”
The Sausagefest 2017 Countdown

By the time it was all over I fairly surmised that, personally speaking, Sausagefest 2017 (the 16th annual) was the best one yet.

There are many reasons for this. One happened by pure change.

The weather reports for the weekend were changing daily. I contacted Uncle Meat on Wednesday to tell him they were calling for rain all weekend. He responded, “No they’re not, are you new?” But they were! And the next day, the forecasts had changed again.

By our Friday departure the skies were partly cloudy, but we’ve seen worse. After we arrived and set up our tents it started pouring for a short while. The old fire pit was flooded. When the rain stopped the decision was made to move the location for the Countdown, uphill on dry land. This was the first time the actual location had ever been changed after 15 years down by the river. It turned out that this was the best possible decision. The new location was wide open, more conductive to mingling and conversation, and as you have seen, provided some beautiful photographs. The new location will be permanent from now on.

I felt one of the reasons things went so well for me was good preparation, but that may not be the case. Uncle Meat also had a great time, and was so ill-prepared that he only arranged a tent to sleep in when we were halfway there! Way to be ready, Uncle Meat!

The vibe was right from the get-go and the Countdown began on time.

Highlights from the first night included some lesser-heard tracks:

  • Queen – “We Will Rock You” – the “fast” version
  • Deep Purple – “Vavoom: Ted the Mechanic”
  • Kiss – “Shock Me” – live version from Alive II with solo
  • The Beatles – “Helter Skelter” – mono version
  • Queen – “My Fairie King”
  • Mercyful Fate – “Into the Coven”

There were lots of cool tunes this year: 87 in total including tributes (more on those later). “Indians” by Anthrax was a perfectly appropriate song this year too, since I pulled a large chunk of my own recorded bits from the Brocket 99 CD, a spoof of Indian reservation radio stations. (I voted for “Indians” as #22 on my list.)

And plenty more! You can check out the Countdown list yourself. It was also a treat hearing Ray Charles’ “Mess Around”, which you probably know from John Candy in Planes Trains and Automobiles. Rainbow’s “Light in the Black” was a personal favourite for my air guitar workout.

The comedy sketches were on-point, and I had tears streaming down my face laughing so hard. The Lord of Lamb, Zach Britton, wrote a sketch regarding my insistence that a Bacon Big Mac is not the same thing as a Big Mac. Bacon is not in the Big Mac song, therefore a Bacon Big Mac is not the same thing. Britton rebutted me successfully, and hilariously. “Loosey Goosey” is now a catch-phrase. As a peace offering, he gifted me a bottle of Big Mac sauce.

The first night it rained, but it mattered not as we huddled in our waterproof tents. We were up by the crack of 10:00 to grab breakfast at the Spatula – not the “Flying” Spatula anymore, please note. They have officially changed the name of the place, but still offer the “Flesherton Fill-up” for breakfast. Not as large, nor as good as it was in the past. On the way up, Uncle Meat yelled “Loosey Goosey!” at anyone we passed on the road.

You have to give credit to our Spatula server Heather. I sat with Max “I’m kind of a big deal” the Axe, and I got to witness him working his magic on Heather the server. He promised her the last CD copy in existence of one of his albums. What a deal! Max told me I had a good singing voice. Was he hitting on me, too? Wayne also had a golden line at the store Top of the Rock, with the girl who was distributing bags of ice. “Are you the ice lady? Ice to meet you!”

There was a new exciting twist this year at the 16th Sausagefest. Submitting lists (aka “paying your rock and roll taxes”) has long been a problem. Some people are always prompt. Those people were rewarded with an extra song, a “tribute” this year. Mine was The Police – “Next to You”. That was a blast for air guitar. You can see by the list at bottom, only eight people got tributes. That means only eight people got their lists in on time without nagging! Due to the amount of time it takes to compile the votes and actually record the Countdown, it was decided that this time, you must vote for 2018’s songs by the end of the weekend. And so Saturday afternoon was spent socially compiling lists. It was weird seeing a bunch of guys at Sausagefest with clipboards and pens, furiously writing, colluding and discussing. It was also successful. All lists are in. There will be a whole year to compile and record for 2018!

The second evening had more great rock. Ghost, Dunsmuir, The Sword, Iron Maiden, CCR, Floyd, Purple, Tenacious D, Sabbath and Zeppelin…all building up to the top ten. Not only building up to the top ten, but also setting up the very first Sausagefest live theater….

There were plenty of fake-out tracks in the top ten, as they pretended they couldn’t read the songs written on Uncle Meat’s upper thigh. Sabbath, Rush and Metallica were played eventually. After the #2 track “The Immigrant Song” (Zeppelin), there was an announcement made.

Tom, father of four, the co-founder, the Captain himself, wanted to take a step back. Recording the Countdown was no longer possible for him, due to family demands at home. This made sense, since the guy does have four rugrats and was absent from some of the top ten due to a supposed argument with his wife about it. They saved the announcement for the #1 spot. Only one person was told in advance, and that was the immortal Lord of Lamb himself, Zach Britton. As the song lyrics state, “He is the reason we still do this shit.” He was given a 20 minute heads-up to collect his emotions.

As the announcement was made, they said there would be no #1 song this year. They’d play it first in 2018. Instead, they played the traditional “Happy Trails” by Van Halen as Tom clinked glasses and shook hands with attendees. And then Zach got up to make a speech. He was obviously still shocked and upset by this sad turn of events.

His speech began as expected: melodramatic, sad, and stirring…until it was interrupted.

There was a 4 minute 30 second gap built into the Countdown…specifically timed for Zach to start his speech but not finish. All part of the pre-planned “live theater”. Then….

“ZACH BRITTON!” boomed the speakers.

Suddenly the Countdown recording continued, as a pre-recorded Bucky urged Zach to shut the fuck up and sit back down because he had just been pranked! Tom wasn’t retiring. Zach didn’t have a clue, nor did any of the rest of us! We all bought it, hook line and sinker, even though Tom has 12 months to record for 2018. It seemed so believable especially with that supposed “argument” with his wife built into the recordings. So I raised my goblet of Romulan Ale to Zach “the Lord of Lamb” Britton for being a great sport and a diamond geezer! The “live theater”, the first ever attempted at Sausagefest, was a tremendous success. As Uncle Meat said afterwards, “They will never ever trust us again.” It easily could have gone sideways, if Zach didn’t stand up to make his speech. They were counting on him and he fell right into it. Brilliant live theater!

The actual #1 song, played after the live theater, was “Cygnus X-1” by Rush, a fantastic song on which to close.

The following morning, we packed up to go home. As per usual, Uncle Meat kept singing and repeating one sentence. This year, it was a ditty called “Why’d You Lick My Penis (Rectum)”.*

“Why’d you lick my pee-noose…why’d you lick my pee-noose, rectum…” Over and over again. You can hear this on the Sausagefest video.

We made our way home, but for many of the guys, it was time to rock again. Five Alarm Funk played a free show in London on Sunday night, and a few tired ‘Festers trekked out to party some more. Totally fitting, since Five Alarm Funk had three songs on this year’s Countdown.

What a Sausagefest! Best one ever? Until next year, maybe….

 

THE COUNTDOWN

 

1 Cygnus X-1 Rush
2 The Immigrant Song Led Zeppelin
3 Blackened Metallica
4 Heaven and Hell Black Sabbath
5 La Villa Strangiato Rush
6 Sweat Five Alarm Funk
7 Burn Deep Purple
8 When the Levee Breaks Led Zeppelin
9 Atlas Rise Metallica
10 Rocky Raccoon The Beatles
11 Green Machine Kyuss
12 The Chain Fleetwood Mac
13 Quick Death in Texas Clutch
14 Muffin Man Frank Zappa
15 Cloak of Feathers The Sword
16 Sabotage Beastie Boys
17 Consolers of the Lonely The Raconteurs
18 Space Truckin’ Deep Purple
19 Zenith Escalator Five Alarm Funk
20 Pigs (Three Different Ones) Pink Floyd
21 Cocaine Eric Clapton
22 Tribute Tenacious D
23 Wasted Years Iron Maiden
24 Fortunate Son CCR
25 The Mob Goes Wild Clutch
26 Smokey Funkadelic
27 Time Travelling Blues Orange Goblin
28 Supernaut Black Sabbath
29 46 and 2 Tool
30 Freya The Sword
31 Money For Nothing Dire Straits
32 The Lemon Song Led Zeppelin
33 Square Hammer Ghost
34 Hung on the Rocks Dunsmuir
35 Cosmo Bozo Orange Goblin
36 Layla Derek and the Dominoes
37 Electric Worry Clutch
38 Odyssey Kyuss
39 Catholic Girls Frank Zappa
40 Vidage 10,000 Mods
41 Nautical Disaster Tragically Hip
42 Skullduggin Black Joe Lewis
43 Squash That Fly Fu Manchu
44 Holy Wars Megadeth
45 I Should Have Known It Tom Petty
46 Great Gig in the Sky Pink Floyd
47 Heart of the Sunrise Yes
48 Inside Looking Out Grand Funk Railroad
49 Boston Rag Steely Dan
50 Lady Writer Dire Straits
51 Helter Skelter The Beatles
52 My Fairie King Queen
53 Into the Coven Mercyful Fate
54 After the Gold Rush Neil Young
55 Watcher of the Skies Genesis
56 Shock Me Kiss
57 Pusherman Curtis Mayfield
58 Domino Masters of Reality
59 The Soft Parade The Doors
60 Smoke 2 Joints Sublime
61 Cosmic Fiend The Black Crowes
62 London Calling The Clash
63 DeanTown Vulfpeck
64 Light in the Black Rainbow
65 Wha Cha Want Beastie Boys
66 Mess Around Ray Charles
67 500 Miles John Garcia
68 Ted the Mechanic Deep Purple
69 Ripoff T Rex
70 We Will Rock You – Fast Queen
71 Everyday People Sly and the Family Stone
72 (NOT SURE?) (Uncle Meat??)
73 Our Only Master Dunsmuir
74 We All Scream Five Alarm Funk
75 Dinosaur King Crimson
76 She Caught the Katy The Blues Brothers
77 Take Off Bob and Doug McKenzie
78 Indians Anthrax
79 Low Hanging Fruit Tenacious D
     
     
  TRIBUTES  
     
ALFRED Old Time Rock and Roll Bob Seger
LADANO Next to You The Police
MICHAEL Don’t Fear the Reaper Blue Oyster Cult
PHIL Sinner Judas Priest
FRANK Ride Captain Ride Blues Image Ltd.
TYLER W Belly of the Beast Anthrax
RYAN Paranoid Android Radiohead
ROB A Tricky Run DMC

 

*Search terms on that one oughtta be funny.

Sausagefest 2017: The Video

QUIZ WINNER! The Merciless Book of Metal Lists!

WE HAVE A WINNER!

 

The fastest win in contest history goes to…

WARDY!

 

The correct answer to the question was JINGLE CATS!

The answer was found on Record Store Tales Part 167:  Top Five Discs that Got Us in Shit at the Record Store

Well done Wardy!  Your Merciless Book of Metal Lists is in the mail!

#551: “You’re Wrong on Unmasked” (Intro to the KISS RE-Review series!)

GETTING MORE TALE #551: “You’re Wrong on Unmasked
(Introduction to the kiss-logo Re-Review series)

When mikeladano.com launched five years ago on March 9 of 2012, one of the earliest projects on hand was posting a complete series of Kiss reviews.  This included every compilation I’d ever listened to, every studio album, every official live album, every B-side.  As comprehensive as it was intended to be, it was not 100% original.  Most of it was recycled from old reviews I wrote long ago and posted elsewhere.  Posting the old Kiss reviews was a good way to kick-start the site with loads of content right off the bat.

There was, however, a certain sense of dissatisfaction, as there often is with any old writing that is repurposed for something else.

Several months after the series was completed, I received a text from a girl I knew named Lee.  Out of the blue, she sent me this Kiss-related note:

“You’re wrong on Unmasked”.

“Pardon?” I texted back.  We’d never talked about Kiss even once.  She’d didn’t read my stuff.  I didn’t get it.

“You’re wrong on Unmasked.”  Then a followup: “Eric told me to text that to you,” she added.  “I’m not sure what it means.”

Ah, that made sense.  Lee played darts with Uncle “Eric” Meat, legendary Kiss fan and one of the Jedi masters who instructed me in the ways of the Rock.   Apparently, Uncle Meat felt I was too harsh on the second of Kiss’ two disco albums.  He urged me to one day revisit it.  Having moved on to other series since (including Iron Maiden, Van Halen, Aerosmith, and King’s X) I wasn’t too interested at the time of going back and doing any Kiss over again.

Still…I’ve improved as a writer since Kiss.  Some of those reviews are over a decade old.  Plus, the other series (particularly Van Halen) were so much, much better than Kiss.  That text message planted the idea in my head of one day re-doing all of my Kiss reviews fresh, from scratch, the way they should have been done.

So that’s what we’ll be doing:  Bigger, better, fresher.  The old reviews are fine, but feelings change, even in as short a period as five years.  Sometimes you might feel different about an album from day to day, even for an album you’ve owned for 30 years!  It will be interesting to compare.  The new reviews will be bigger and beefier, with more info and more photos.  Plus, Uncle Meat will even be joining me on some albums to add his own ratings and comments!    Just as a remastered CD forces you to buy the album again, my “remastered” reviews will hopefully force you to read about Kiss one more time.  There will even be a review of a rare officially released Kiss song that I was unaware of when I did the first series!  (It was on a tribute album, recently acquired and also featuring other luminaries such as Alice Cooper and Def Leppard.)

For these reasons, and in the effort of creating a truly high-quality series of reviews deserving of the Hottest Band in the Land, we will be taking one last in-depth look at the official Kiss catalogue.  One more time!  (It won’t be necessary to re-do budget compilations like 20th Century Masters, but everything significant from Wicked Lester to Sonic Boom will be given a second look.  Reviews from Monster onwards were fresh from the start, so we won’t need to look at those a second time either.  Besides, we have already posted reviews for three separate editions of Monster!)  There may even be room for some additional reviews outside the traditional discography.

2017 promises to be the year of  kiss-logo at mikeladano.com.  Get ready to shout it out loud!

Original KISS reviews are below:

KISS – 20th Century Masters –  The DVD Collection (2004)
KISS – 40 (2014 Japanese with bonus track)
KISS – 40 (“Best of Kiss 40” 2015 Universal Japan)
KISS – Alive! 1975–2000 (2006, 4 discs, Best Buy bonus CD, iTunes bonus track)
KISS – Alive! (1975)
KISS – Alive II (1978)
KISS – Alive III (1993)
KISS – Alive IV: Kiss Symphony (2-disc edition, 2003)
KISS – Alive 35: Live at Credit Union Centre, Saskatoon SK, Nov 10 2009 (Concert Online)
KISS – Animalize Live Uncensored (VHS, 1985)
KISS – Animalize (1984)
KISS – Asylum (1985)
KISS – The Best Of Kiss (Green Series) (2008), Playlist Your Way (2008), Legends of Rock (2009), Superstar Series (2009)
KISS – Best Of Solo Albums (German import, 1979)
KISS – The Box Set (Deluxe mini guitar case edition, 2001)
KISS – Carnival of Souls (The Final Sessions) (1997)
KISS – Crazy Nights (1987)
KISS – Creatures of the Night (1982, 1985, 1997)
KISS – Deadly Demos (1995 bootleg CD)
KISS – Destroyer (1976)
KISS – Destroyer (Resurrected) (2012, originally released 1976)
KISS – Destroyer (Resurrected) (2012 Universal, replacement CD)
KISS – “Don’t Touch My Ascot” (2015)
KISS – Double Platinum (1978)
KISS – Double Platinum (1978, 1997 foil embossed reissue)
KISS – Dressed To Kill (1975)
KISS – Dynasty (1979, 1997 Japanese import)
KISS – Exposed (VHS 1987, DVD 2002)
KISS – “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II” (1991 CD single)
KISS – Gold (2005, Universal)
KISS – Greatest Hits (1997, Europe only)
KISS – Greatest Kiss (1997 European, Japanese, North American versions)
KISS – Greatest Live Hits (2015 Concert Live limited edition)
KISS – “Hell or Hallelujah” (2012 single)
KISS – Hot In the Shade (1989)
KISS – Hotter Than Hell (1974)
KISS – Icon and Icon 2 (2010)
KISS – Ikons (2008, Universal)
KISS – Jigoku-Retsuden (2008) (aka Kiss Klassics)
KISS – Killers (1981)
KISS – Kiss (1974)
KISS – Kiss Rocks Vegas (3 CD/1 Blu-ray Japanese import, 2016)
KISS – Kissin’ Time in San Fransisco (1974 or 1975 bootleg)
KISS – Lick It Up (1983)
KISS – Love Gun (1977)
KISS – Love Gun (2014 Deluxe edition)
KISS – Monster (2012 CD, iTunes editions) Reviews by LeBrain and Tommy Morais
KISS – Monster (Japan Tour Edition bonus CD)
KISS – MTV Unplugged (1996)
KISS – Music From The Elder (1981, 1997 remaster)
KISS – The Originals & The Originals II (1976 & 1978)
KISS – Psycho Circus (1998)
KISS – “Psycho Circus” (CD/VHS single, 1998)
KISS – Revenge (1992)
KISS – The Ritz On Fire (2013 Gold Fish, recorded 1988)
KISS – Rock and Roll Over (1976)
KISS vs MOMOIRO CLOVER Z – “Samurai Son” / “Yume no Ukiyo ni Saitemina” (2015 CD singles)
KISS – Smashes, Thrashes & Hits (1988)
KISS – Sonic Boom (2009 Walmart exclusive version)
KISS – Unholy Kisses (1992 bootleg)
KISS – Unmasked (1980)
KISS – The Very Best Of (Universal, 2002)
KISS – Wicked Lester / Eddie Kramer Demos (1972 – 1973, CD bootleg)
KISS – You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!! (1996, Japanese import, bonus track)
KISS SOLO – Peter Criss (1978)
KISS SOLO – Ace Frehley (1978)
KISS SOLO – Gene Simmons (1978)
KISS SOLO – Paul Stanley (1978)
A KISS Tribute for Cancer Care: A World With Heroes – A 40th Anniversary Celebration (2013)
A KISS Tribute for Cancer Care: A World With Heroes EP (2014)
KISS My Ass: Classic Kiss Regrooved (Official tribute album, 1994)

 

 

 

Sunday Chuckle: Meat says the darndest things

For this week’s Sunday Chuckle, it started with an enthusiastic Facebook post from me that “Gypsy Road” by Cinderella was now playing on the radio.  That generated two responses including this one from Uncle Meat:

 

ear-fuckies

You just learned a new term.  “Ear fuckies” — the sensation of having Tom Keifer screamin’ in your ear!

#510: Kayys?

GETTING MORE TALE #510: Kayys?

We only get to do it once a year, so you gotta make it count!

Readers here have been treated to many tales from Sausagefest every year, the annual music countdown that occurs every July at a top secret outdoor location.  The parties are epic and the music is never disappointing.  You’ve read all about the countdown and activities many times here and even been treated to a few videos.  Sausagefest is such a blast every year that even the trip up is worth hearing about.

My two passengers this year were Uncle Meat, and Chris the Lamb Lad.  We had to pack a lot of stuff into my little Pontiac G5 including three coolers.  The Lamb Lad had packed his cooler full of freshly made pulled pork for everyone.  Perhaps even more important than the succulent and delicious pulled pork was the music selection.  Uncle Meat commandeers the stereo, but I brought four flash drives loaded to the brim with tunes.  I had spent several hours curating the music on these flash drives, much longer than we would actually spend listening to them.

Instead, we spent most of the time listening to the CDs that Uncle Meat brought.  As many music fans in Ontario now know, recording artist Paul MacLeod passed away a couple months ago.  Paul and Uncle Meat were very close friends, and Paul had set aside a couple CDs of his for me to review.  Meat gave them to me, and we listened to Paul in the car, with Meat remembering the good times.  I now own his albums Close and Play, and Tell the Band to Go Home.  Both are incredible, but we’ll save that for the eventual reviews.

Also given to me were two studio CDs by recording artist and Sausagefester Max the Axe:  self-titled, and Overload.  There was some pretty heavy metal on those two CDs.  Thanks to Uncle Meat, I now own three Max the Axe albums in total.  Needless to say, there was plenty of rocking in the car.


“Livin’ the Country” from Overload (2008)

Meat was on his best behaviour.  No backseat driving at all this year, which was an awesome change of pace.  He also didn’t piss in the middle of the road this time.  Up through Salem and into Arthur, we made our first stop at Tim Horton’s for some ice capps.  Usually I was the most prepared of us, but this year I neglected to eat a good lunch before we departed.  I was starving and ordered a steak wrap.  Unfortunately the place was really busy, as it always is, and I should have known it was going to take 20 minutes.  While I waited inside for my wrap, Meat and the Lamb Lad went outside for a smoke.

Moments later, Meat came back into the store.

“Kayys?” he said to me.

“Kiss?” I responded.  I had a flash drive with every single Kiss album.  Gotcha covered.

“Kayys?” he repeated, hand outstretched.  People looking at him now.  Lots of people waiting in line.

“I don’t know what you’re asking me,” I said uselessly.

“Kayss?” again.

I stood there like a doorknob; lots of people there looking at us trying to see what this weirdo was doing.  “Kayss?” he kept repeating.  It was clear I had no idea what he was asking, so he finally broke character.

“Keys?  Can I get your car keys?  I left my smokes in the car.”

“Why didn’t you just say that, you friggin’ goof?” I said as I dug for my keys.

“I did!” he retorted.  “Kayss?”

OK, I heard it now.  In the meantime, me and everybody else in Tim Horton’s in Arthur assumed he wanted a kiss.

We made our way up the windy country roads, listening to more Paul, more Max, but no Kiss.  Next stop was Flesherton.  There used to be a killer chip wagon there, but it has been gone for the last two years.  Instead, Lamb Lad went into a sandwich place and ordered what looked to be some pretty amazing food.  Outside, an elderly couple in the late 70’s or early 80’s seemed to be having an argument.

We waited for Lamb Lad to order, and then stepped outside again so the guys could smoke.  As we walked out, a cop car pulled up and blocked in the elderly couple!  It seems somebody had taken notice of their discussion and called the cops.  The couple looked like they had figured out whatever it was just as the cops arrived.  It was weird to see this happening in Flesherton Ontario with a couple who looked older than Moses.  We shook our heads and marvelled at how weird the day was getting before we even arrived at Sausagefest.

But the farm wasn’t far, and before we knew it, our destination was at hand.  Familiar faces were greeted, and help was offered in setting up tents.  It’s a magical place.  There are friends here that we only see once a year, but have bonded with like brothers.  It’s a remarkable experience to have.  And the music ain’t bad either.


“Giants” from Close and Play (2006)

 

 

 

#505: The Video – Sausagefest 2016 – 15 Years of Meat

fest 2016


A Tribute to Paul MacLeod (1970-2016) by Uncle Meat

PAUL

I first met Mac in the early 90s when I was dragged to the Walper by a mutual friend of ours Jeff Marsland (aka Chewie). Not long within the set he played Tori Amos – “Pretty Good Year” and Motorhead – “Ace of Spades” and I was hooked. Then being blown away by Six Months … as well as the re-named Hibakusha. Actually my most memorable Paul moment on stage was when Hibakusha broke into Supertramp’s “School” at the Starlight. One of the greatest covers I have ever seen.

Years after that I was fortunate enough to join the infamous MacLeod poker nights, and this was where we started becoming close friends. Also through him I was fortunate to meet and get to know his great and talented friends. We just seemed to enjoy pretty much exactly the same things… music…sports…darts…and I would say most of all…comedy. Considering how long before this I had admired him as a musician, it was surprisingly quick and easy for me to put that away and just look at him as my friend. A few times Paul brought up the first poker game I went to .. and said this statement that always made me laugh: “I had to be friends with you. You had the balls to tell me to my face, in front of my friends, that Scott Deneau was the the best guy you’ve ever seen with just a guitar and a voice.”  I can still picture the look on his face when he would say it and it still makes me laugh.

One Canada Day at the Boathouse (the year would have been 2011 ish? maybe?) Paul played two full sets of all Canadian tunes. Some of the songs he pulled out of the air that night were classic. They weren’t perfect. Some of the lyrics were wrong. But with every song the crowd just wanted to see what was coming next. His interactions with Kevin Doyle that night were so much fun. This was followed by an after hours set of Who tunes with Paul only singing and Chris Latta on guitar. Totally kicked my ass. Hard to forget moments like these.

A few amazing years of playing darts with the man. Getting my ass thoroughly kicked most of the time. Loved going to war with him for a few years on the same team. His personality shone through every dart venue we played at. What can I say? The man knew how to own a room.

I was lucky enough many times to get the gift of him just picking up his guitar and singing. Sometimes singing along but mostly just soaking it in. And then we would go back to comedy. And lots of it. Every time I would go over to his sister’s place he would be so “on” with the comedy. Relentless. The man loved making people laugh. So, included here is one of his favourite bits from his all-time favourite comedian Norm MacDonald. This is what made the funniest guy I know laugh.

Long live old Harold Delaney.

GUEST CONCERT REVIEW: The Sword 04/12/2016 by UNCLE MEAT

Part two of a two part series. Part one: High Country album review

GUEST CONCERT REVIEW by UNCLE MEAT

THE SWORDTHE SWORD – London Music Hall, London Ontario 04/12/2016

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.

665/666 stars