Album Review: Temple Of The Dog-S/T (1991, 2016 25th Anniversary 2LP 180G)

 

I woke this morning to the texts and emails. Chris Cornell had died the night before. What a huge kick in the choda. The guy may go down as one of the best rock vocalists of all time. Certainly Top 100. Many would say Top 10 material. He was the voice of the 90’s generation as much as Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley or Scott Weiland. Unfortunately, now he joins that illustrious group of amazing singers in death. There were R.I.P posts flooding in to my inbox, so I thought I might review an album to honour him in my own way, so here we go.

Andrew Wood was the lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone. He lived with Chris Cornell early on, and when Andrew died Chris Cornell wrote 2 songs in his honour, Say Hello To Heaven and Reach Down. Those songs were presented to Ament and Gossard to make into singles. Matt Cameron, Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder were asked to join, and the work together became this album, and what a fitting tribute it is ( I can only hope some musicians can do the same for Chris as well). If anything good came out of the death of Andrew, it is this album. This album was recorded in only 15 days, and was produced by the band themselves. I find that nothing short of amazing.

Say Hello To Heaven – What a wonderful song to begin an album. Chris’s voice is in peak form here. He is both quiet and biting at the same time. Easily top 10 Chris vocal performance. The pain and anguish is evident in his voice, and the guitar work is just sublime. Soak it up with a sponge. Please Mother Mercy indeed.

Reach Down – The first impression I get from this song is the guitar work. I am quite sure that the Temple boys were listening to AC/DC’s Let’s Get It Up before recording. MY MY MY. That is totally fine in my book. That is one of my favourite Acca Dacca tracks so I say go for it. The guitar work goes from 3 chord Angus into crunchy and cool wah pedal awesomeness. Arguably the best work Stone Gossard and Mike McCready have ever done. Chris has some angry frustration to get out, the drums pound away and the bass thumps. The a capella vocal harmonizing near the end is really cool. Oh, and did I mention how amazing the guitar work is. A really awesome song.

Hunger Strike – There’s not much more I can say about this song that hasn’t been said. In my opinion it is Eddie Vedder’s best song by a long shot. Sorry Pearl Jam fans, but I have never really been a big fan of his. However, his inclusion on a song with Chris Cornell rockets his status way up there for me. I can understand every word he sings too. The song moves along nicely with Eddie in charge, and then the song seems to liven up with Chris’s trademark screams. The tone of the song hardens as well. This single was one of the songs that introduced me to the whole Seattle thing. It didn’t get a ton of attention in early 1991, but was re-released in 1992(as was this album) after Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and the whole Seattle scene became huge.

Pushin Forward Back – The guitar work again borrows a bit from another great band. It has a definite The Cult edge to it. It has that mix of post-punk, harder rock and even goth that early The Cult seemed to thrive on. This song could easily have been on my favourite The Cult album, Electric with Chris Cornell as guest vocalist. In other words, it’s pretty awesome.

Call Me a Dog – Softer guitar and vocals begin this song off. Chris’s voice is tender and exposed for all the world to see. As the song progresses the guitar shrieks and Chris starts to scream. Call me a sleeping dog with a bite.

Times of Trouble – This song almost has a slight country rocking blues flair.  The softer flavour really accentuate Chris’s voice here. Other than the vocals, this song kind of reminds me of a Izzy Stradlin solo song, and a big plus for me is the awesome harmonica work of Chris Cornell. Up until I read the credits here today, I did not know Cornell even played harmonica. Wow. Now I’m even more impressed.

Wooden Jesus – The percussion and the amazing guitar work are the stars for me. If they are the stars, then Chris’s screams are the sun and moon. Lighting the sky for us to see. Also, the inclusion of Canada in the lyrics is the icing on the cake.

Your Saviour – Joe Bonamassa must have loved this song almost as much as me. I can only assume he borrowed the main riffs of the song on his song Bridge To Better Days. I love both songs so I am ok with it though. The guitar and drum work are ace, and the echoey vocals near the end are really cool.

Four Walled World – The guitar wails and the bass jumps from the speakers and hits you down low in your gut. The slide guitar work and wah here is real cool. A really great guitar performance.

All Night Thing – An army corps drum beat, a mellow bass, and some amazing organ work accentuate Chris’s voice. A fitting album closer. Slow and steady wins the race.

A special note for the production work (only his 2nd time producing), the piano and organ work of Rick Parashar (RIP). He went on to produce many great albums, but this may arguably be his best.

I now own this album on cassette, cd, and vinyl. There is also a deluxe 25th anniversary 2cd version with bonus tracks or even a super deluxe with live footage on dvd and blu ray I may also consider. It takes a special album to make me want to buy it 3, 4 and maybe even 5 times. This is a special album though. My vinyl version is mastered wonderfully, and it sounds amazing. The packaging and photos are beautiful and the 4th side etching may be the coolest one I have ever seen. The band members stand in front of a peaceful lake with trees, birds and mountains in the background. They stare out as if trying to get a glimpse of their long lost friend. Today, we can picture one of those bandmates missing, off to join Andrew. This weekend I’ll go to the lake and see if I can catch a glimpse of them. So long Chris. Thanks for the music and your ability to make me smile.

10/10

 

 

 

 

Top 10 J. Geils (RIP) songs

I woke this morning to the sad news that J. Geils had passed away in his home of natural causes. The guitarist in the band with his namesake was always amazing but underrated. His early work was very bluesy, his 80’s work was more radio friendly with a bit of new wave thrown in, and he even dabbled in jazz. I really need to review some of the many J. Geils Band albums I own, but for today I will do a J. Geils Top 10.

10 Centrefold – This was the song that introduced me to the band. It was the first single off of their massive album Freeze Frame. It is a little too early 80’s sounding for me, but it is catchy as hell.

9 Freeze Frame – Keyboards, drums and horns dominate this one. J does get a chance to add a few catchy riffs though. I had to include it since this song is also catchy as hell.

8 Wasted Youth – Front man Peter Wolf left the band in 1983. The band was unfortunately moving away from their roots and going New Wave. They released one final album, You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Old. The standout for me was Wasted Youth because it centres around J’s guitar work. Never mind the electronic drum beats and the very 80’s sounding keys. Just focus on J and all will be ok.

7 Come Back – Never mind the disco theme and the dated keys just focus on J’s guitar. It has a harder edge than the rest of the song, and I like it.

6 One Last Kiss – J gives us some tasty licks to compete with the disco keys. Give me tasty guitar licks every time.

5 Must Of Got Lost – J has some stiff competition here with the funky bass, great keys, and amazing vocal work. However, through all that he gets to shine.

4 Love Stinks – Many of you will remember Adam Sandler singing this in The Wedding Singer. I however remember the simple but effective guitar work by J, especially about 3 minutes in.

3 First I Look In The Purse (Live) – The live setting was where J could really shine.

2 (Ain’t Nothing But A) House Party – Any song that starts off with a wicked guitar that continues on through the entire song is awesome in my books.  Fans of Nazareth and Steppenwolf will love this song.

1 Give It To Me – J leads a guitar clinic in the extended, non-single version of this song. It’s pure 70’s guitar nirvana.

RIP J. We’ll miss you brother.

There are tons of other J Geils tracks I could have used. Let me know in the comments if I missed any you like.

P.S. 2017. You are starting to get on my nerves.

Top 10 All Female Rock bands

With today being International Women’s Day I felt this would be a great day to honour hard rocking ladies. I know there are a ton more, and since I chose to go in a harder rock vein, there will probably be some here that you had not heard of, or forgot about. Either way, here they are:

10) KiTTie – This London, Ontario band was formed in 1996. They sprang to the scene in 2000 with their debut album, Spit and even though fully in the Nu Metal scene, they did not sound like any of the Limp Kornskit wannabe bands out there at the time. They had a myriad of bassists over the years, and have not released any new material since 2011, but have never broken up. The video below features the recently deceased former bassist, Trish Doan (RIP)

9) Babes In Toyland – This Minnesota band had their peak in the early 90`s. They were sort of at odds because the front woman, Kat Bjelland looked so cute in her baby doll dress, but she could scream her punk fueled lyrics like a banshee. From the mid 90`s to early 2000`s they were constantly breaking up and reforming but in 2001 they called it quits. They have since reformed again in 2014. They only ever released 3 studio albums, but influenced a great deal of musicians of both genders.

8) The Donnas – This California band formed in 1993, and achieved mainstream success in the early 2000`s by mixing punk, metal and hard rock. All of the band members took on the first name of Donna, hence the band name. There are constant rumours of a new album, but their last album was in 2007, and their last performance was in 2012.

7) L7 – Another band from California that formed in 1985. They took their name form a 1950’s slang meaning square (uncool). They were a popular 90’s band featured in many festivals of the day including Lollapalooza. They went on indefinite hiatus in 2001 and reformed again in 2014.

6) Phantom Blue – Another California band, Phantom Blue formed while members were students of Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet at the Guitar Institute of Technology. The band were the first and only all female band to be signed by Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records, and their debut LP was produced by Marty Friedman (who also was a guest shredder on their second album). with all of these positive metal influences, the band was sure to succeed, and they did well until their breakup in 2001. The video below shows the axe work of Michelle Meldrum(RIP), the widow of Europe guitarist John Norum.

5) The Slits – The early version of this band was a straight up, all female punk band from London England in the mid to late 70’s playing alongside The Clash, Subway Sect, The Innocents and more. Some fighting with manager Malcolm McLaren led to the departure of drummer Palmolive, and she was replaced by male drummer Budgie (later of Siouxsie and the Banshees). The band changed styles a bit and got a little more commercial, but eventually broke up in 1982. They reformed in 2005 until the death of founder and lead singer Ari Up(RIP).

4) Fanny – One of the first noticeable, all female bands, the third to be signed to a major label, and the first to record an album was the California band, Fanny. David Bowie was quoted as saying about the band “One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace. And that is Fanny. They were one of the finest… rock bands of their time, in about 1973. They were extraordinary… they’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time. Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done.”

3) Vixen – Another Minnesota band, Vixen was formed in 1973, and moved to los Angeles in 1985, and signed to EMI in 1988. They were part of the glam metal scene of the 80’s but broke up in 1991. They have since re-formed, and their last studio album was in 2006. The band was in the movie The Decline Of Western Civilization II-The Metal Years along with many of their L.A. musical peers. The original lead guitarist of the band, Jan Kuehnemund (RIP) died of cancer in 2013.

2) Girlschool – The world’s longest running all girl band is this NWOBHM band from London England. They formed in 1978, are still going today, and have released 13 studio albums, 6 EP’s and many compilations and live albums. The Canadian connection to the band is due to album sales. Canada is the only country in which their album sales went gold. This was for their second album, Hit And Run(which in North America, was actually a compilation album that included songs from the first two Girlschool albums).

1) The Runaways – This short lived, Los Angeles band was only together from 1975-1979, but they released 4 albums during that time. Two of the members, Joan Jett and Lita Ford went on to even bigger fame after the bands demise. Although The Runaways were not as well received at first in their home country, they did well in Canada, Britain, and especially Japan. Their live album, Live In Japan, became one of the biggest selling import albums in US and UK history. The drummer Sandy West(RIP), a heavy smoker, succumbed to lung cancer in 2006.

Are there any I’ve missed? Feel free to comment.

Happy International Women’s Day, and unlike a certain President, I actually do have a great deal of respect for women.

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review – Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine (2004)

DFA 1979 are a very unique band. They are a duo with no guitars. Just a bass, some drums, and sometimes some keyboards. The magic noises that Jesse F. Keelor can get from his bass are incredibly new and unique. The first time I heard this band I had no idea it was a bass making all those weird squeals and squawks.

The album was produced by Al-P(who is in Jesse F. Keelor’s other band MSTRKRFT), and mastered by Joao Carvalho.

Turn It Out – This song should be called Turn It Down because about 10 seconds in those high pitched bass squealies I mentioned earlier will be enough to blow your speakers or your eardrums.

Romantic Rights – This song has an infectious beat and a mix of ‘normal’ bass sounds and what sounds like an evil, futuristic robot noise.

Going Steady – Sounds like an old school punk song at the beginning. Then Sebastian Grainger pounds the drums into submission. The vocals sound like Sebastian is speaking through a voice changer, but that is because Jesse is plucking his heavily modified, supercharged bass strings at the same time Sebastian is singing.

Go Home, Get Down – This song has some noisecore in it. The bass sounds a bit like motorcycles racing past and Sebastian’s vocal chords probably hurt a bit after singing that one.

Blood On Our Hands – I figured at some point since this was a 2 piece, there would have to be a comparison to The White Stripes. This song has elements of The Hardest Button To Button. Since Meg has left the music business, and Jack wants to soldier on, I can’t help but wonder how great a band if Jack White and DFA 1979 joined forces. I can only imagine.

Black History Month – The bass groove is very infectious here. The lyrics are thoughtful and Grainger’s beat is almost danceable.

Little Girl – I can well imagine this song would go over well at a rave. A fast paced groove that never lets up the pace through the entire song.

Cold War – I could almost hear this one redone by a punk band. A fast pace and some attitude. That’s all a punk rocker needs.

You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine – The guitar work is wonderfully droning and the drums soldier on.

Pull Out – I am pretty sure this song is about person who has a car stuck in the ditch and after you hook the chains onto the car, that person keeps yelling “Pull Out. Pull Out. Pull Out.”

Sexy Results – If it had been written in 1977, this song may well have unseated Stayin’ Alive for the best of the disco era, plus there are cowbells, so it has one up on the BeeGees.

One very annoying thing are the lyrics for all of the songs are pasted together in small print on the inside of the bi fold, in no particular order.

A very solid first album from this unique band. Looking back to the Nu Metal and Nickelback clones that were big in 2004, this was a new and refreshing change.

9/10

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review – Anvil – Anvil Is Anvil (2016)

Anvil has always one been one of those “cold have, should have” bands. They should have been more famous. They should have gotten more respect. In fact, with their lack of success they should have quit long ago. However, they trudge on. I personally think they keep trudging on because they really love what they do for a living. How many of us can say that? Who cares how many albums they have sold, and whether they can sellout arenas any longer.

Daggers And Rum – I was assuming this was going to be a hokey pirate song. Well, it kind of is but it actually kicks some ass.

Up Down Sideways- Lips does his best Lemmy impression here. Robb Reiner does an amazing job as usually. The drums are loud and proud, and the bass is booming at times, and playful  at others.

Gun Control – A Canadian metal band starting off with the lyrics “Protect the Constitution….”. I guess this is a shot at our neighbours to the south. The guitar and cowbell are stars here for me.

Die For a Lie – More awesome drums mixed with rhythmic guitars. Also more cowbell, so I’m roped in.

Runaway Train – The train noise at the start reminds me of a Monster Truck song, then Robb pounds on the skins. If you have not heard his drumming before, you really must. He may be the most overlooked and underrated drummer in metal, if not in rock period.

Zombie Apocalypse – Another title that makes me think hokey. The background chants are pretty cool, and of course Rob pounds us into submission. Not near as hokey as I has assumed.

It’s Your Move – This is a song in tribute to Lemmy. Unfortunately it’s a very simple song that is a bit of filler.

Ambushed – This has a Megadeth feel to it. Especially the guitar work, and the fast pace. If you like the Peace Sells and Countdown era of Megadeth(who doesn`t),you will like this song.

Fire On The Highway – A faster paced, almost thrash song. Lips almost does a cross between James Hetfield and Lemmy here.

Run Like Hell – Great guitar work mix with amazing drumming kick this one off. It`s too bad the vocals are a little weak, and the song itself is just a slight level below the rest.

Forgive Don`t Forget – A heavy metal chant song. Almost reminds me of Balls To The Wall by Accept. This is actually fitting since Accept is German. The song is in reference to the treatment of Jews during Nazi Germany.

Never Going To Stop (Bonus Track) – Robb starts pounding the drums at a frenetic pace and he keeps it up for most of this song. Lips sings this song in sort of an angry tone. It suits the song well. He has the snarl of a punk singer, and he wants to get it through your thick head that they are never gonna stop. I for one, believe them, and am pretty happy about that.

You Don`t Know What It`s Like – The guitar is the star here for me. A few slight squealies are fine on an album as long the guitarist doesn`t abuse them. Lips adds just the right amount. Also there is more cowbell. Maybe not quite enough for Christopher Walken, but enough. “To make a living doing what you love is all you should need….”. I couldn`t have said it better myself.

This album was produced by Martin Pfeiffer who may be best known for working with U.D.O. (maybe that is where the Accept crept in). He does a great job here. The album sounds great, and the instrumentation was not crushed or muffled as can sometimes happen.

I read a ton of negativity about this album online before I started this post, so I guess I will be in the minority. But, frankly Scarlet, I don`t give a damn. I like this album, and I don`t really care who knows it. I don`t love it, but I do really like it. There are a few glitches. The bonus tracks could probably be substituted on the regular version with a few others, but overall a really good record.

8/10

 

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review-Billy Talent-Billy Talent (2003)

Billy Talent started out with the band name Pezz. 4 high school buddies toiling around the Toronto area playing bars and staying under the radar. They releasedone album under that name, but ran into legal trouble and changed the name to Billy Talent, which I assume was an homage to the character in the amazing movie Hard Core Logo. Then in 2001 with a friends connection at Warner Music they signed record deal. That year they released an EP, then in 2003 this self titled album was released. It was nominated for rock album of the year at the Junos, has sold over 3 times platinum in Canada, and was voted 453 in Rock Hard magazines top 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums Of All Time. I will give a little warning that a few of the videos have content that some may find disturbing. The video for River Below and Nothing To Lose both made the 50 Most Controversial Videos Countdown on Canadian music channel MuchMusic.

This Is How It Goes – A song that Ray can relate to. “That’s just how she goes, Bubs.” The guitar work, bass, pounding drums and piercing vocals let you know this won’t be a quiet night in with grandma.

Living In The Shadows – Great, twangy guitar work with alternating crunchy riffs, pounding drums and booming bass. The mix of quiet and screaming vocals and the cool background harmonies make this song great.

Try Honesty – The lead single has amazing musicianship, wonderful vocals, both in lead and background.

Line & Sinker – Both the vocals and the background sound angry and shouting at most times, but not in an annoying way.

Lies – This song tones it down a notch, and is a welcome addition. The bass booms beautifully on this one.

The Ex – The second single has a punk attitude and fast pace with some meat on the bones and anger bubbling just below the surface.

River Below – The third single is simple an amazing song. The song is about the downward spiral of a war vet who has degraded to the point in which his illness compels him to setoff a bomb. “I’m sick and I’m twisted. I’m broken you can’t fix it, don’t make me, ’cause I’ll do it, red button and we’ll all go……..Into the river below…..”

Standing In The Rain – A song about runaway turned drug addicted street prostitute. As the father of a teen girl, this one hits pretty hard.

Cut The Curtains – The beginning of this song reminds me of an awesome metal song. I can’t quite place it, but the guitar work is awesome.

Prisoners Of Today – I enjoy the quieter guitar in the middle, and the background vocals are great.

Nothing To Lose – The 4th single is a really, really heavy song. Not heavy as in loud(although it does have some), but heavy subject matter regarding teen suicide. Another song that hits hard for me. Billy Talent donated $1 to Kids Help Phone in Canada every time that song was played on the radio.

Voices Of Violence – I am not sure what this song represents. I think it is about the  voices of those that were killed will never go away.

9.95/10

 

What was your most expensive concert?

This morning I logged onto to Tickemaster to check for Metfan pre-sale tickets to see Metallica. I was shocked and appalled to find out the tickets ranged in price from $170-208 each. Ummm. Yeah. No thanks. C’mon boys. I have been supporting you for over 30 years. Have all of your albums. Bought your boxsets. Saw you live. Became a member of your fan club. Gave you great reviews. Defended you this week here on these pages. But if this is the way you treat your loyal fans, I may have to dial it back a few notches. I’m sorry but multi millionaires do not need to gouge the average joes that love your music. The Rogers Centre holds over 50,000 people in seats. Plus the general admission on the field. Do the math. The figures workout to over $1 million dollars for about 3 hours of work. Some of us may not make that in our entire life. I loved when you made a surprise show last year at a bar in Toronto and tickets were $25-50, and we were asked to donate an item of food for the food bank. This latest concert ripoff just lost all cred I gave you then though.

Ok. Enough of my rant. Please let me know in the comment section your thoughts on this. Am I wrong?

Also, what was the most you ever paid for a concert with the details?