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REVIEW: Marillion – “Easter” (2020 Version)

MARILLION – “Easter” (2020 video recorded in quarantine)

Count on Marillion to bring the light in the dark.

It has been over 30 years since Steve Hogarth and the Marillios first serenaded us with “Easter”.  As a surprise gift in 2020, they’ve re-recorded the track from isolation.  All five guys with their home setups recorded and filmed their parts for a new video.

“As it’s Easter Weekend, Mark [Kelly] had the cool idea of us virtually-getting-together to record a new version of Easter in our homes. Hopefully it will put a smile on your faces.”

It’s poignant, watching the guys play from their personal spaces, unable to connect in person just like us.  While “Easter” has always contrasted light and shade, this time the contrast is sharper, though that may simply be in the minds of the listeners.

A bare acoustic version with a shortened and re-arranged ending (probably due to necessity), “Easter” soothes.  Even under these circumstances, Marillion pulled together a new recording of an old classic and did it quite well.  (Meanwhile behind closed doors they continue to write for their next studio LP.)  If Marillion can use technology to stay connected and celebrate creativity and ingenuity, then so can we all.

Happy Easter.

5/5 eggs

 

#806: Freestylin’ in 2 the New Year

A followup to #804:  Freestylin’

 

GETTING MORE TALE #806: Freestylin’ in 2 the New Year

Here we are, friends!  Only a few days into the new year and new decade.  Doesn’t really feel like it, does it?

One of the last things I did in 2019 was hang out with the ever-entertaining Uncle Meat.  The newest musical addiction he’s got me started on is a YouTube channel called Todd in the Shadows.  Todd has two series that we are currently enjoying:  Trainwreckords, and One Hit Wonderland.  Both series have been immensely entertaining and informative.

I’ll give you an example.  Remember the New Radicals?  They had a single hit at the end of the 1990s called “You Get What You Give”.  At the time, people thought singer Gregg Alexander was the next Mick Jagger, but the thing that caught the attention of the press were these lines:

Fashion shoots with Beck and Hanson,
Courtney Love and Marilyn Manson,
You’re all fakes, run to your mansions,
Come around, we’ll kick your ass in!

Manson was pissed off just to be mentioned in the same line as Courtney Love, who was far less amused.  The media focused only on those lines, and none of the rest, like “Health insurance rip off lying, FDA big bankers buying.”  The New Radicals split before they released their second single, with Alexander having achieved everything he set to accomplish.  He then moved behind the scenes, where he became an even bigger success.

Bigger success?  Indeed, Alexander’s songs have been recorded by Santana, America, Mandy Moore, Hall & Oates, Enrique Iglesias, Rod Stewart, some of the Spice Girls, Rivers Cuomo, and even Hanson who held no grudges.  The guy is definitely getting the last laugh.

I was aware of none of these things except for the media hype.  I wrote off Gregg Alexander as a poser with a dumb hat.  Well, he ditched the hat and found his niche.   Thanks to Todd in the Shadows, I know more about the New Radicals and I even like their second single, “Someday We’ll Know” as covered by Hall & Oates.

Todd in the Shadows also has excellent episodes on Van Halen III, Hootie and the Blowfish’s sophomore record, Mungo Jerry, Cyberpunk by Billy Idol, and CCR‘s Mardi Gras among many.  Did you know Mungo Jerry re-recorded “In the Summertime” as an 80s song?  While I don’t always agree with Todd, it’s remarkable how often our thought-paths do cross.  We had many similar misgivings about Van Halen III, including the lack of Michael Anthony’s vocals.  He concludes that it could just be that the Van Halen brothers are assholes.

Meat and I ended the decade by surfing the Tube, and enjoying a few laughs.  It occurred to me, you could just record us talking and put it online as-is, like a four-hour podcast.  I don’t want to start recording the conversations I have with friends, but that’s exactly what it is like.  At one point I said to myself “It’s almost a waste that I’m not recording all this talk.”  But then I smacked myself in the head and said, “No fucking way do I want to do that.”

It’s like I mentioned a few chapters back.  I can’t just write about music, or talk about music.  I have to spend more time just listening to it.  And it’s the same with friendships.  Just because he speaks solid gold every time he opens his mouth, that doesn’t mean I have record it for posterity.  In a way it’s too bad, because our discussions would blow away 90% of the podcasts already out there, but life matters more.  You gotta just live it, not constantly worry about missing an opportunity to post something and get hits.

Even though it would be awesome.

In 2020, I aim to live a little bit more, and search for content a little less.  Some folks (not naming names) feel that perhaps I’ve become too critical – that I can’t enjoy things without critiquing them.  While I’ve always been writing reviews, perhaps my gears are a little stuck.

Two more things I’d like to change:

  • Less politics
  • Less time on social media

Neither of those two things have made my world a better place.  They suck up too much time and energy.  It might be hard to be less political in 2020 knowing what it yet to come, but it’s not like a political rant is going to make the world a better place.

Don’t mistake this for “resolutions”.  New Year Resolutions are just lies we tell ourselves for a few weeks before we slowly but surely resume business as usual.  I’m not planning on ditching any of my bad habits, just some unproductive behaviours.

Music can make the world a better place.  So let’s consume more of it!  Let’s chat like Uncle Meat and I can, about all the great stuff out there that’s filling our ears!

 

REVIEW: PelleK – The Fox (Power Metal version)

By request of Kyle “the Rock” Darrock.

PELLE K – “The Fox” (Power Metal version, 2013)

I never would have heard the original version of this song (by Norwegian comedy duo Ylvis), if Craig Fee didn’t subject his listeners to it one afternoon.  I’d never heard of PelleK before seeing this video of his cover.  I know that he’s a Norwegian metal singer with a fantastic Justin-Hawkins-wide range.  I’ve seen numerous YouTube videos, of PelleK covering a wide variety of songs.  I guess when Ylvis went viral with their irritating but amusing video for “The Fox”, PelleK decided to take a shot at it, too.

Power metal style, of course!

I can’t help it, I’m addicted to PelleK’s take on this annoying novelty track!  I don’t think I’d be exaggerating if I said that this has been played on somebody’s phone at least a dozen times during our lunch hour at work since it came out!  “The Fox” works as a “power metal” version!  Egad!  And PelleK’s incredible pipes lend themselves to some hilarious interpretations of what the Fox does indeed say.  I’m surprised how much I like the heavy guitars and drums on “The Fox”.  I might have to play this in the car, windows down, down on King Street to piss the rapper kids off.

Even if that’s the best thing to come from PelleK’s version of “The Fox”, then it’s still worth:

6/5 stars

REVIEW: Johnny Cash – American IV: The Man Comes Around (with DVD, 2003)

For Lara, and Rob.
CASH FRONT

JOHNNY CASH – American IV:  The Man Comes Around (2003 American)

I have published over 300 reviews here at mikeladano.com (use the search button on the top right to look up anything you want).  Yet, I still hadn’t got around to Johnny Cash!  That’s strange, because Johnny Cash is very special to me.

Everybody “says” they love Johnny Cash.  Many of them jumped on board when he died and became “cool” again.  Take Dandy, for example, a trend chaser who inked Johnny’s face on his arm a few months after he died.  But hey, if you’re on board now, that’s cool.  There’s plenty of room for everyone.

Johnny Cash was my first concert.  In Canada in the early 1980’s, Johnny had an endorsement deal with Canada Trust, where my dad worked.  Their brand new ATM machines were called Johnny Cash machines, and my dad even had some promotional Johnny Cash bills, a cool marketing gimmick.  He went to see Johnny, his idol, when Johnny came to town.  The first night of a two-nighter, my dad met him.  On the second night, he brought me along (I didn’t get to meet him).  Johnny modified his original concert opening by saying, “I’m Johnny Cash, 24 hour money machine” (in reference to the ATMs).  I still remember June kicking off her shoes!

The Man Comes Around is my favourite of the American Recordings, helmed by Rick Rubin.  It was also the last one released in Johnny’s lifetime.  It is, all at once, extremely powerful, morose, joyful, and catchy.  All filtered through Johnny’s unmistakable baritone, worn and weary but no less strong and expressive.  Like other American albums, it is a mixture of originals and covers, oldies and more recent fare.

The most well-known song on American IV was “Hurt”, the Nine Inch Nails cover.  It is remarkable by being so different, yet true to the spirit of the original.  I prefer Johnny’s take on it to Trent’s, truthfully.  “Hurt” is only one of many remarkable covers on this album.  Johnny and Fiona Apple tend “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, with quiet mellotron in the background.

My favourite song is Sting’s “I Hung My Head”.  I couldn’t believe the credits when I read that (having skipped Sting’s Mercury Falling album).  I thought for certain this had to be a new Cash original.  Lyrically, I was convinced this tragic tale came from the mind of the Man in Black, but I was wrong.  It’s a spellbinding song, painting a clear picture, and Johnny’s delivery is perfect.

“In My Life” is the favourite of Mrs. LeBrain.  She’s a huge Beatles fan.  We selected this song for the signing of the register at our wedding.  I received kudos on the musical selection from Tom Morwood and Jen’s Uncle Rick, who loved the Johnny.  While very different from the Beatles version, I think I can safely say I like both equally.

I’m not too keen on the Depeche Mode cover (“Personal Jesus”), but I don’t like Depeche Mode much.  I know some who think the cover is brilliant, so we’ll go with that.  Johnny and Rubin tranform the song into a dark acoustic stomp.

Other highlights include the classic “Sam Hall”, which Johnny also performed on his 1965 album, Johnny Cash Sings Ballads of the True West.  I love Johnny’s energetic delivery on this traditional.  We enjoyed this one at the record store, a lot.  “Danny Boy” is another from 1965 (Orange Blossom Special) that Johnny takes a second crack at.  This time it’s a more intimate affair without the backing vocals.  Johnny compensates with his rich storyteller’s voice, each flaw telling a story of its own.

Elsewhere, I love “Desperado”.  And that’s interesting because like the Dude, I hate the fuckin’ Eagles.

The album closes with “We’ll Meet Again”, the Vera Lynn classic.  I always think of Kubrick (Dr. Strangelove) when I hear this song.  So for me, I can hear a sly wink in “We’ll Meet Again”, a hint of humour, as if Johnny knew this would be the last song on the last album released in his lifetime.

HURTBut it’s not really the last song.  On my wishlist is the vinyl edition, which had two bonus tracks: Marty Robbins’ “Big Iron” (another personal favourite) and an exclusive version of “Wichita Lineman”.

My copy of the album came with a bonus DVD.  Nothing to get excited about, it’s just the music video for “Hurt”.  Granted that’s a great video, but the DVD is less special in 2013 than it was in 2003.  Now, everybody Youtubes.

Wow, I just used “Youtube” as a verb.

Anyway.  5/5 stars!