wild in the streets

#920: Wild in the Streets – Helix – Center in the Square, Kitchener, 1987

RECORD STORE TALES #920: Wild in the Streets
Helix – Center in the Square, Kitchener, 1987

We simply could not wait to see our first real concert.

As soon as the date was announced, we got tickets:  Helix with a band called Haywire opening.  Center in the Square, downtown Kitchener.  We were second row mezzanine.  Bob and I were so psyched to finally see our first real rock concert.

We wanted to bring a banner that said “HOMETOWN HELIX”.  We dreamed big.

Helix were hot on the road for their new album, Wild in the Streets.  We’d seen the video and knew what their stage show was going to look like.  The stage set played on the brick wall artwork from the album cover, with two ramps on the sides, that resembled the “fangs” in the Helix logo.  We thought those ramps were absolutely badass.  We couldn’t wait to see Brian Vollmer slide down mid-song,

We were not interested in Haywire — too pop.  The two girls in front of us were obviously Haywire fans.  They had the shirts and were going nuts for singer Paul MacAusland.  Bob and I didn’t think much of him, especially when he laid down flat on his face on the stage.  “That’s his stage move?” we questioned.  Bob liked the guitarist, but I wanted to hear some “real” rock, not this.

A kid from our school, Brian Knight, was there in the loges on the side.  He boasted the next day at school that Helix were not that good; he had seen better.  Ironically he later went on to roadie for Helix.  He could be seen in the 1991 MuchMusic special Waltzing with Helix.  He was also acknowledged in Brian Vollmer’s book Gimme An R, albeit his name was misspelled “McKnight”.  Sadly, Brian passed away this year.

What Brian claimed was simply untrue.  It might have been our first real rock concert, but it was a hell of a first.  We didn’t know a lot of the songs but we knew the hits and some of the deep cuts from Walkin’ the Razor’s Edge.  They certainly played everything we wanted to hear, including the new single “Dream On”, “Wild in the Streets”, “Gimme Gimme Good Lovin'”, “Rock You”, “Heavy Metal Love”, “(Make Me Do) Anything You Want”, “Kids are all Shakin'”, and “Deep Cuts the Knife”.  They also played a new tune that we found amusing.  It went, “Bend over and kiss your ass goodbye” (“Kiss It Goodbye”).  Fritz Hinz took a drum solo, and turned around and shockingly revealed his bare bottom with nothing but a jock strap.  We laughed – we were easily entertained!

The highlight of the show was when Vollmer climbed the loges, and then ran all the way across the mezzanine, right past our noses!  We could hardly believe it.  Bob reached out his hand but Brian didn’t slap it.  I simply made a fist, like “right on man”!  It was amazing how we’d been watching this guy climb up, and then make his way in our direction…and then he ran past and it was over in a second!  Before we knew it he was on the other side, and climbing back down to the stage again.  We knew he had a reputation for climbing on top of things and doing somersaults, but we sure didn’t know that was going to happen when we bought our tickets!

Helix didn’t make as much use of the side ramps as I thought they would, but they did put on a hell of a show.  Doctor Doerner played that big doubleneck that we wanted to see so bad, and of course the “Wild in the Streets” guitar.  We got to see all their stage moves and tricks, and yes, the women in the audience were unlike any we’d ever seen before outside of a video.

We got all the songs we wanted, plus a few we didn’t know like “Dirty Dog”.  They put on one of the most energetic shows that I’m ever likely to see.  It was the MTV/MuchMusic era and all we had seen before were music videos.  The quick cut-and-paste editing of a music video is hard to compete with.  Helix had to work hard on stage, and they went above and beyond that night.

Not a bad “first”.  What I did notice was that Vollmer’s voice sounded thinner than on album.  I wondered if all concerts were like that?  I couldn’t believe how deaf I was afterwards!  Both of us were experiencing this for the first time.  It was a strange sensation and we must have been yelling in the car the whole way home, when my dad came to pick us up.

We couldn’t stop talking about Helix for days.  Weeks.  They didn’t really have to win us over; they were hometown heroes to us.  Instead Helix just cemented our loyalty.  It is said that a great rock show can change a life.  In this case, it simply affirmed everything we had hoped.

Rock Candy reissue

VHS Archives #77: Brian Vollmer of Helix co-hosts the Power Hour (1987)

One of the best early Power Hour co-hosts.  Helix mainman Brian Vollmer stopped by the Pepsi Power Hour with Laurie Brown to discuss their new album Wild in the Streets.  He also brought with him a Helix “Rockumentary” filmed at the Capitol Records building.

Topics covered:

  • The album cover
  • Jagger
  • AC/DC
  • Touring
  • A mythical future Helix album called Blood, Guts & Beer
  • The next video

Added bonus:  stay tuned to the end for a Music World TV ad for Wild in the Streets!


Gallery: Overload of Van Vinyl!

My pal Craig Fee has returned from Jerry’s Records in Pittsburgh with a bag full of goodies for me!


Craig strongly recommended a two to three day stay at Jerry’s Records should I ever find myself in Pittsburgh.  That’s how much vinyl they have.  He also told me that they had a whack of old Van Halen picture sleeves.  I said cool, bring ’em back to me!  So he did, every single one that they had.  He also picked up a promo Helix 12″ single for “Wild in the Streets” on red vinyl!  That and some Triumph 12″ promos, plus a surprise that I think tops them up.  I think the real treasure may be David Lee Roth’s “Stand Up”, from Skyscraper — a 12″ remix vinyl single that I was previously unaware of!  Pretty exciting huh?  Additionally, the Van Halen “Best of Both Worlds” contains the live version from the Live Without A Net video on the B-side.

Total expenditure?  $45 bones.  Craig is a great shopper.  Thanks man!

All of these will come in handy in the future, because they coincide with a couple different series ideas that I was already going to work on.  Now, those series will be even cooler.  Stay tuned.

Part 234: Wild in the Streets

For Aaron.

RECORD STORE TALES Part 234:  Wild in the Streets

1987’s Wild in the Streets was one of the harder Helix albums to acquire on CD. Cassette and LP were no problem at all, but relatively few CDs were produced in comparison. In 1992 I found a used cassette, (at a filthy music store in Port Elgin, Ontario) which came in a neat glow-in-the-dark cassette shell. It was the only glow-in-the-dark cassette I’ve ever seen or owned. Cassettes being what they are, I later desired a more permanent copy, CD being my preferred medium. This proved frustratingly difficult to find, even after being hired at the record store in July 1994.

This was important to me, because Helix were my first rock concert, on the Wild in the Streets tour. Johnny Cash was my first concert, but I saw Helix in October of 1987 in the Center in the Square, with Haywire opening, and they were awesome. The album wasn’t one of their best, but it did have classics such as “Dream On”, “Kiss It Goodbye”, “She’s Too Tough” and the title track. That old cassette wasn’t going to last very many plays.

Once starting at the record store, I discovered that Capitol/EMI had long since deleted the album. Brian Vollmer was still years away from reprinting and selling the albums himself, so my only option was to find a used copy. Since we sold used CDs, I hoped that one would eventually float my way. In the meantime I checked the “H” section of every record store I could find. No luck. Years, I looked. Like a woe begotten sailor searching for Cthulhu and the lost city of R’lyeh, I sailed the seas of music, searching.

Our first store didn’t have a computer, just pens and paper. We worked without a computer for years. All of our CD orders and reservations were done manually, in binders and note books. We had several pages of used CD reservations: many people looking for copies of the Beatles’ Red and Blue albums, T-Rev looking for Saga and Steve Earle rarities, and my hunt for the elusive Helix CD. This system wasn’t very efficient, as you basically had to remember what albums people were looking for, and go and check the book for the person’s information. If you saw, for example, a Traveling Wilburys CD in stock, you’d check the book because you knew someone was waiting for it.  It wasn’t an exact science but we did the best we could.

In 1996, when I was given my own store to manage, we finally got a computer!  The software had a computerized reservation list.  When you were entering new arrivals, you’d manually type in a title.  So, “MOTLEY CRUE” – “DR. FEELGOOD”.  A little note would pop up saying “reservation found”. You would then go to a different screen, find the person looking for the CD, write down their contact info, and delete the reservation.  This system was extremely vulnerable to human error.  They later refined it, making it smoother and more automated.

I entered my name in for Helix – Wild In the Streets right from the very beginning. With this new computerized system, I figured my chances of finding the CD had improved.  Not so.

The months went by, the seasons changed, still no Helix. My friend Len, who was a customer I met via the store, put himself in reserve for the Helix CD as well. I would have had first dibs on it if it came in, but as time went on two or three more people added their names to the waiting list. The likelihood of everybody getting a copy was nil, considering the years that I had been working there and never seeing one.  (In good enough condition, anyway.)  There was always a hope that one day, a copy or two would float our way. Len eventually found a copy at another store and removed his name from our reservation list. I congratulated him on his excellent discovery. He refused to sell it to me, however, even though I offered him $15 which was more than he paid.

A few months later, Len stopped in for one of his regular shopping visits. A pawn shop named Cash Converters had opened up in our plaza, causing us a little bit of unwanted competition. They too bought and sold used CDs. Usually they took whatever crap we didn’t, but occasionally people brought their good stuff to Cash Converters first.

This time, Len had an exciting piece of news for me.  “Do you still need Wild in the Streets?” he asked with a smile. “Because they have one at Cash Converters right now. 12 bucks.”

My eyes popped!  Excitedly, I handed Len some cash and asked him to pick it up for me. He returned a couple minutes later, with my own personal copy of Wild in the Streets. Mission accomplished! Finally! It was in like-new condition. All it needed was a fresh jewel case, which I provided as soon as possible. That night I finally had the chance to hear the album, in CD quality sound.

That original CD was in my collection for a long time.  In fact only recently did I find the Rock Candy remastered edition with expanded artwork and liner notes, used at Encore Records. I then handed my original to (former customer now friend) Aaron, which he received at Record Store Excursion 2013!

The lessons from this are two-fold:

1) When Record Store Guys befriend their customers, they get CDs out of the deal!

2) When customers befriend their Record Store Guys, they get CDs out of the deal!

Glad tidings for all around.

GALLERY: Four Great Finds! (with store report card – Encore Records)

During a trip to Encore Records in Kitchener, Ontario, I found some pretty cool stuff among their used discs.  I used to work with the guy behind the counter, Chris — trained him in fact.  We had a chance to catch up and discuss the difficulties of being a collector.  Piles and piles of discs, an expanding collection and lack of space for it.  Filing systems.  How easy it is to get behind in your filing.  Good to know there are still kindred spirits out there.

Thanks for the discs Chris, and without further delay…

1. VAN HALEN – In Concert

This double CD is at least partially taken from Live Without A Net, the old Van Halen home video.  That’s cool to me — some of those versions, like “Love Walks In”, were the originals that I was first familiar with.  It’s weird today hearing Sammy Hagar play guitar solos on Van Halen songs, but that’s how I first heard them.  $9 used.

2. HELIX – Wild In The Streets (Rock Candy remaster)

PROS:  These hard-to-find (in Canada) Rock Candy reissues have great liner notes and pictures.  CONS: It lacks the lyric sheet from my old Capitol Records version.  This one was expensive ($14 used) but the great Heavy Metal OverloRd tells me they are well worth it.

3. FISH – “Credo” CD single

Limited edition, #5945.  Cool?  Yeah, but how many copies did they make of a Fish single?  Anyway, this has two non-album cuts, a 7″ remix of the title track and a song called “Poet’s Moon”.  “Credo” itself is a great song from Internal Exile.  Great cover art by Mark Wilkinson!  $6 used.

4. IRON MAIDEN – Virtual XI with limited edition lenticular cover

This was a limited edition (expensive in Canada) that had a 3D cover similar to the current Kiss Monster CD.  I tried to get an idea of this in the photos.  Look at Eddie’s finger in relation to the boy’s headphones.  You can see it’s not in the same place in the two photos.  It’s much cooler in person.  Now, I know Aaron is probably going to give me shit for buying a Blaze Bayley album — any Blaze Bayley album — twice.  But it’s more about the Maiden collection than Blaze.  This is one I’d wanted back in the day but completely forgotten about.  $10 used.


Encore Records, 54 Queen St. South, Kitchener ON, (519) 744-1370

Encore is as good as as any of the stores that Aaron and I reported on in Toronto.  Sure, I’m biased in that I did train the guy behind the counter, and it was great having a conversation with somebody who understands my point of view vis-à-vis collecting.  But their selection is second-to-none in this town (rock, indi, roots, jazz, blues, vinyl), with fair prices, and excellent quality.  Not one blemish on any of the discs that I purchased.   As an added note I found a number of Guided By Voices singles for Aaron (some stealthily pictured below) — although he is apparently banned from purchasing them at this time, until he wins the lottery!

For these reasons, Encore’s grade is:

5/5 stars