Album Review: Brian Knight – A Dark Horse (1981 Music Box pressing)

One day I was on found myself in a musical wormhole. I can get lost there for hours. I was reading about a virtual unknown British musician that had been in bands early on with both Brian Jones and Charlie Watts. He played with Cyril Davies and then when Cyril died he quit the music business for many years. Ronnie Wood, Peter Green and Eric Clapton were all influenced by his playing. So why had I never heard of him? One way or another I stumbled upon this release. I could not believe the guest artists on this one. Peter Green alone would almost make this a must have, but this album also has Charlie Watts, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Ian Stewart and a host of others. I knew the blogging world`s biggest Stones fan was Aaron from KMA. I wondered if he had ever heard of this one. He sent out some woohoo`s and told me he would give `er. I took that as Aaronese to mean buying a copy of the album. We decided to do a collaboration(here is Aaron’s), so here’s my review.

Boogie Beat – This one almost has a Keef sound to the vocals, in a Stones like rockabilly boogie.

Going Down Slow – The guitar work is the shit on this cover of an old St. Louis Jimmy blues standard.

Bring Your Corn To Me – This original starts off with some Thin Lizzyesque guitar chords. Then the song morphs into a good time ditty with great keys, cool background vocals, wonderful horns and more great guitar.

Trouble In Mind – Again the guitar work is the hero on this one, but the piano leaves an impression too.

Honey Bee – This one has vocals that feel like Clapton doing a cover of this Muddy Waters song.

Blues is Rock And Roll – This one would be great to hear at a 50’s diner with an old school juke box. Pass me the quarters.

Manish Boy – It takes big cojones to cover 2 Muddy Waters songs on one album. This even has Bo Diddley in the writing credits, so only pros should attempt it. Brian and the boys wear their loose pants and do this one justice.

Got The Blues – I love the guitar work and the harp work on this toe tapper. The structure of this song and the lyric placement is a little off, but it’s still a pretty good one.

Good Morning Blues – Brian speeds up this Leadbelly classic and adds some awesome harp, horns and percussion into the mix. The subtle but piercing guitar is cool too.

Cabin In The Sky – A ragtime, fun old piano number.

Bright Light, Big City – Brian croons his way alongside some cool keys and horns. The harp helps set this one on the top shelf with the good liquor.

A good release. Some may say too many cover songs. I personally don’t have an issue with that. My biggest beef is with the album jacket itself. There are no song listings to be found. What is much worse for me are the lack of credits. There is a huge listing on the front cover naming the guests, but nothing identifying what songs they played on. I can pick out subtle notes of Peter Green and Charlie Watts, but I shouldn’t have to guess. I say search this one out, and maybe go down the wormhole with me in search of more Brian Knight stuff. You bring the flashlight, I’ll bring the snacks.

8.5/10

 

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Jersey Day Post # 1 – Helix – All I Want for Christmas… is the Leafs to Win the Cup b/w Jingle Bells (2012 – 7″ turquoise vinyl single)

Today is “Jersey Day” in Canada. Today we wear our jerseys to support the Humboldt Broncos hockey team and the community that suffered the loss of 16 lives when the team bus was hit by a transport truck last Friday. Fellow blogger Aaron gave a fitting tribute.

Today is also the start of the 2018 playoffs for my favourite team, Toronto Maple Leafs so I felt this single could multi-task.

All I want For Christmas is the Leafs to win the Cup – Brian Vollmer is the hardest working man in rock n roll and he, like me, is a long suffering Leaf fan. We suffered through the Harold Ballard years, Kerry Fraser’s famous non call, and the never ending signing of former great players that were too old and slow to regain their former glory. This song is a fitting tribute by a fellow Leaf fan. It has a fun beat, the chants are awesome and it mentions getting a Habs jersey would really suck.

Jingle Bells – The b side is a rocked up version of the Christmas song we have heard a million times. It originally appeared on the Helix album A Heavy Mental Christmas. It’s kind of refreshing, mainly because it’s not the Christmas season and I’m not bombarded by carols everywhere I go (Leafs go!!!).

 

8.5/10

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Album Review : The Sword – Used Future (Red Slushie Colored Vinyl 2018)

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The Sword have been a band I have loved for years. They put out great music and have an amazing live show, as documented here. Before this I had never reviewed one of their albums though. This was an oversight I had to rectify, so here we go.

First off, before we begin, I have to make a few comments on the vinyl itself (it’s beautiful), but more so the album cover photography. I am a car guy and so a band will get my attention by putting a car on the cover. But if you put a famous Bonneville Salt Flats race car on there with a name like Bombshell Betty then you really want me to notice. Mix in an ominous sky, a lightning bolt and some snowy looking salt and you have got me hooked. The snow effect on the Salt Flats almost gives the appearance of the car sitting on a cloud. This is a really cool cover. The front has a side view of the car, and the back has a front view of the car. Really cool indeed.

Prelude – A quick little instrumental to cleanse the palette.

Deadly Nightshade – I get elements of The Sheepdogs early that quickly morph into Ozzy era Sabbath mixed with Mountain.

Twilight Sunrise – If you like your fuzz mixed with a tiny bit of feedback and intensity, this is the song for you. The subtle key work just barely peeks it’s head out in this one. It’s a little nervous to show itself fully. Just warming up for what is to come.

The Wild Sky – A mellow drum beat begins this instrumental number and then about a minute in the drums pound, the dual guitar threat wails and some spacey keys kick out the jams. Really cool number.

Intermezzo – This instrumental synth song has sort of a Styx feel to it. More like InterMr.Roboto.

Sea of Green – I get elements of a few bands here. Early 80’s April Wine,  and early on an 80’s ballad feel. Don’t get the impression this is a cheesy 80’s sapfest though. This one has a cool groove and amazing instrumentation. It morphs into a heavier beast that just keeps growing, ready to devour Tokyo. The fuzzy guitars, smashing drums, the background vocals, and the soaring synths really set this one off.

Nocturne – Believe it or not fellow Canadians, but I get a Gowan feel from this instrumental. I know a certain strange animal from Hamilton that would love to get her bony little alien fingers on this one.

One more glance at this gorgeous vinyl before I flip it over.

Don’t get Too Comfortable – Great drumming and amazing guitar work dominate this one. The mix of fuzzy and clean guitar work really do it for me. The keys are subtle but welcomed here too.

Used Future – If Billy Gibbons and the boys swung through a Florida swamp and did an impromptu recording session with Lynyrd Skynyrd in 1973, this song may have been the result.

Come And Gone – A Floyd-esque  mellow high.

Book Of Thoth – This song isn’t fucking around. It wants you to out of your Lazy Boy and shake your ass. The fuzzy guitar and the vocals rule. Very Clutch like in a really good way.

Brown Mountain – If you like the guitar work in Journey’s Wheel in The Sky, you will like this instrumental.

Reprise – Just like the title says, this song goes back to the beginning of Prelude. Then you flip the record over and it’s an endless loop of greatness.

This is a band that has grown people. the early on, stoner dudes will never like them anymore. Not unless they do a Age Of Winters 2. These superfans want The Sword to quit the dad rock bullshit and just play what they want to hear. The band has evolved though. They mix in more synth, more 70’s/80’s elements and deeper lyrical content. I like the old, I like the new. I like anything this band has done and this is no exception.

9/10

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LED ZEPPELIN ANNOUNCE 50TH ANNIVERSARY REUNION TOUR AND NEW ALBUM

Your prayers are answered people. You’ve asked for a reunion and a new album since the band broke up in 1980. Well now you have it. The band has officially announced a 50th anniversary reunion tour and new album. The only glitch is that the three original band members are too busy to be bothered. This is purely a money grab by the record company. The band will consist of David Coverdale on vocals (originally it was Kingdom Come front man Lenny Wolf, but since he has never heard of Led Zeppelin he was nixed), Spirit bassist Mark Andes (who was quoted as saying “I have all of the Led Zeppelin albums in my collection, but have never played them”), CC Deville on guitars (pink hair and all), and Lars Ulrich on drums.

Get advance copies of the upcoming album and concert tickets here

Concert Review : Earthless, Kikagaku Moyo, JJUUJJUU, Lee’s Palace Toronto 2018

This past Wednesday was a hectic day for me. I had just flown in from Cuba and rolled into bed at 3am. When I awoke, I had to get some work done and then rush off to Toronto for meetings. I was hoping I would have enough time and/or energy to see Earthless. The opening bands for the show were new to me. Kikagaku Moyo is a Japanese psychedelic band and JJUUJJUU (featuring Phil Pirrone of Desert Daze Festival fame) is a psychedelic kraut drone band from LA.

I was able to get to the venue before the bands went on and grab up some albums. I proceeded to the right front of the stage, put my earplugs in and JJUUJJUU walked onto the stage. Perfect timing.

JJUUJJUU were first to hit the stage and they did a great job. I could tell the other musicians were digging it as well. Earthless and the lads from Kikagaku Moyo were also digging it. I could see them in the back control room area above the stage checking the show out. The vocals reminded me of a trippier Burton Cummings. If The Guess Who and early Pink Floyd had a love child, it would be JJUUJJUU.

Kikagaku Moyo – These lads flew across the Pacific Ocean with one thing on their minds. To completely rule the stages of North America. They put on one hell of a show. The musicians behind the scenes were in disbelief of what they were hearing. So were we out in the audience. Not since the days of The Beatles have a band had such an amazing sitar sound. Mix that with late 60’s/early 70’s psychy, trippy vibes and I felt like I was transported back 50 years to a fans acid trip at Fillmore.

Lastly, Earthless took the stage. Any lesser band would have hopped on the tour bus before their set and got the heck out of Dodge. The acts before were so strong that they would have to be pretty much perfect to follow. Lucky for Earthless and those in attendance, the band was on fire. Including a number of instrumental psych songs from their past and a bunch of songs with vocals off their new album, they were the complete package. Something for everyone to like. Of note during the Earthless set was the light show provided by LA based Mad Alchemy Liquid Lightshow. It was very space trippy. It reminded me of watching the Hilarious House Of Frightenstein. There was a minor glitch with the lighting that was quickly fixed. This was the only minor miscue all night.

Overall I would say this was easily my best concert so far in 2018. It will be very hard to top. Sadly the video I took of the other bands had poor sound so I won’t do the bands a disservice by posting them. I guess I’ll just have to see them again. Of note for me was the comradery these 3 bands showed, the respect they showed each other by watching  their fellow musicians play, and not just hang out in the dressing room all night. Also, the fact that members of all 3 bands hung out after the shows with the audience shaking hands, chatting, signing stuff and being really cool. Thanks dudes.

10/10

Album Review: Earthless – Black Heaven (2018 Clear/Black Splatter Ltd. LP)

First a disclaimer about this album. Forget everything you know, or think you know about Earthless. The band is famous for epic, 20, 30, 40 minute long songs with no vocals. I saw the band on March 14, 2016 at Lee’s Palace in Toronto and spoke to Isiah Mitchell (guitars, vox) about the song End To End from the then current Baker Skateboards EP. This song was a newer approach from Earthless featuring vocals. He told me that the band’s next album would have a bunch of songs with vocals. This album has 6 songs and 4 of them feature vocals. Usually the band has a droning, psych/stoner thing going on, but the vibe is a little different here as you soon shall see.

Gifted By The Wind – No droning psych/stoner epic long song here folks. This one is pure early 70’s. Early on I get a Woman From Tokyo meets Jimi Hendrix. Then the song morphs into ZZ Top meets Southern Rock territory. Throw all of the above into a blender with some sweet wah pedal, a little added talk box, and vocals that remind me of early Sabbath era Ozzy/Early Ted Nugent hydrid and you have a wicked song that does a great job of starting this album off.

End To End – This one starts off with a spooky, Sabbathy tone then moves into 70’s Classic Rock territory. Sounding like something that James Gang or Mountain may have released back in the day.

Electric Flame – This one sounds like the stoner area these boys are better known for, with a quicker beat. It has a cool, fast pace that will keep your arms drumming or playing the air guitar. If the boys in QOTSA got sick of Homme`s douchebaggery, and mixed in some Ozzy/Nugent hybrid vocals from 1976, this might be the result.

Volt Rush – The first instrumental song of the album. This isn`t the usual Earthless instrumental. First off it`s under 2 minutes long, and second this sounds more like (Volt)Rush or Triumph than anything the band has ever done before. As a Canadian, I approve.

Black Heaven – The album title song is another instrumental. Closer in length to the previous album songs, this one has more of a Zeppelin quality though. Sort of if Zeppelin had been in the studio in 1976 and an unknown band named Triumph had joined in for an impromptu jam session. The first time I heard this tune I felt it dragged on a little long. After repeat listens it grew on me more though.

Sudden End – WOW!!!! This song is completely awesome. What an amazing song to end this amazing album off on. This song kicks ass and takes names. The guitar work especially is ace here. The fact that Isiah Mitchell plays both lead and rhythm on this one mean that unfortunately it will never be played live unless a guest star fills in.

This album is really great from start to finish. Not perfect for Earthless purists, but a wonderful way to introduce the band to many more fans. If you like Hendrix, 70`s rock, Southern Rock, Stoner rock, Psych, Ozzy and Sabbath then buy this album. If you don`t, then there`s no help for you anyway.

9.95/10

 

 

 

 

Your Song – Singer/Songwriters – Album Review: Rainbow: Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow (1975 LP)

Thanks to Danica for including me in this group post. Please visit her site over at Living a Beautiful Life for a list of all of the bloggers involved

My choice for singer/songwriter is Ronald James Padavona. Who is that? Although Ronald used his given name on early recordings, by 1960 he had adopted the name of Ronnie Dio. By the mid 1970’s his handle was stretched to the name we all know, Ronnie James Dio. (For much of this post I will often shorten it to Dio)

When this group post thing was proposed a while back, I was on a bit of a Dylan kick. He’s possibly the epitome of a singer/songwriter. He has amazing lyrics for sure. Some may argue about his vocal style, but I dig it a lot. He was a folk singers folk singer. He could get up on stage with just an acoustic guitar and captivate thousands of people at a time. That surely is the definition of a singer/songwriter. Isn’t it? I thought about it a lot. Does the person in question have to fit into the traditional mold of a singer/songwriter? What about a blues artist? What about a punk artist? What about a rapper? What about country?

Then I thought. What about metal? Who fits the mold? I love a lot of metal vocalists, but my favourite of time is Ronnie James Dio. Then there is the songwriter portion. Right from the earliest days in the late 1950’s, right up until his death in 2010, Ronnie either wrote, or co-wrote most, if not all of the songs he sang. His music evolved from the doo-wop tunes of his early bands, then to the melting pot of blues/jazz/southern rock that was Elf. Perhaps the biggest transition though, and one that would shape the rest of Dio’s career, was joining up with Ritchie Blackmore in the band Rainbow. Ritchie had this sort of mystical side that involved Black Magic, castles, spirits and all that goes along with it. I’m not sure if Dio had that side of him before Rainbow, but he certainly was on board. The first album to feature this side of Dio, and one in which he wrote all of the original song lyrics, is the one I have chosen today. It’s the first album by Rainbow entitled Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow. Here we go.

Man On The Silver Mountain – What a song to begin a band, an album and a new career in metal off with. This song kicks ass and takes names. So, so, so good. This is a top 10 song for me. Top 10 Dio track. Top 10 Blackmore track. Quite possibly top 10 hard rock/metal track too. With Ritchie Blackmore on guitar and Dio on vocals, how could it not be. I can only assume Ronnie held it up in great regard since the words inscribed on his tombstone are “The man on the silver mountain Ronnie James Dio”.

Self Portrait – “Paint me your picture..color it darkly the lines must start to crawl…draw me away from the night to the day…paint me a picture of eyes that never see with flashes of lightning that burn for only me…there`s only the devil to pay…and I feel like going down…“

Black Sheep Of The Family – A Quartermass cover about a penniless man with a dog and a beard full of lice. The faster, upbeat pace of the song is in direct contrast to the sad tale of the poor black sheep. This song just so happened to be the nail in the Deep Purple coffin as far as Ritchie was concerned. They refused to record it, and that was it. Ritchie was done.

Catch The Rainbow – The slower pace mixed with amazing slide guitar work and Dio`s wonderfully captivating voice make this one a fan favourite.

I contemplate flipping the wax over, but listen to side A one more time. Dio has that effect on me.

Snake Charmer – Ritchie Blackmore using a wah pedal, cowbell, and lyrics and vocals by Dio. Good thing no one else is around to see me wearing this lobster bib to catch the drool.

The Temple Of The King – We get a feel of the vocal style that would become my favourite in metal. Dio has a snarl to his voice in this one that will come to light many times over the years. This is another fan favourite. Amazing guitar work. Wonderful vocals. Cool lyrics.  “One day in the year of the fox came a time remembered well when the strong young man of the rising sun heard the tolling of the great black bell…daylight waits while the old man sings `Heaven help me` and then like a the rush of a thousand wings it shines upon the one and the day had just begun…with just one touch of a strong right hand they know of the temple and the king“

If You Don`t Like Rock n` Roll – (We can`t be friends any more.) This one sounds like something Burton Cummings (Guess Who) would have done if he had just got off a 3 week long bender of drinking 18 cases of bourbon and smoking 38 cartons of Marlboro`s

Sixteenth Century Greensleeves – There`s the Dio vocal style we all know and love. The growling yeahhhh heahhhh heahhhh`s, the accentuation of fiiiire, hiiiigher,and liiiiight. Awesome. This song was about the castle in which the Black Knight lives. The Black Knight in question being Ritchie Blackmore. Dio was able to incorporate lyrics that Blackmore obsessed about including knights, crossbows, and castles. Another fan favourite for good reason. This was going to be the b side to Black Sheep Of The Family on the side project Blackmore was doing in 1974. It turned into Rainbow instead.

Still I`m Sad – A fast guitar and even faster cowbell beat that would please even Christopher Walken. This Yardbirds cover was an instrumental version on the album for some reason, but the live versions all feature vocals. I would have preferred the vocals, but this song is pretty cool.

10/10