Where Are They Now – TPOH (The Pursuit Of Happiness)

In 1985 Moe Berg(vocals, guitar) and Dave Gilby(drums) moved from Edmonton to Toronto. They met Johnny Sinclair(bass) and sisters Tam & Tasha Amabile(background vocals). They released a 12″ single and a low budget video of their first song I’m An Adult Now.

The song was re-recorded and an album was put together called Love Junk(produced by Todd Rundgren). This album was their biggest selling album, selling Platinum in Canada, and making the charts in many other countries around the world. They were nominated for Breakthrough Artist and Best Video at the 1987 Juno’s. It was a sad time for Canadian music, as they lost to Frozen Ghost and The Parachute Club. Blech!!

The next album One Sided Story (also produced by Todd Rundgren) had some hits, including this one.

The band released their 3rd album, The Downward Road. Sales had declined, and after this point they were dropped by their major label. Not before they released this gem though.

Their fourth album Where’s The Bone featured a truly Canadian anthem about hockey.

They released one final album. However, they have never officially broken up. They have done some one off songs over the years. One of my favourites was Edmonton Block Heater. This song has a much harder edge. It’s a raw song that was the opposite of their previous efforts. It was featured on the cd A Tribute To Hard Core Logo. This cd has a bunch of one-offs by a number of well known bands. I suggest to pick this one up ( and also watch the movie Hard Core Logo).

There have been numerous line up changes throughout the years. Here is the list:

The most recent lineup:

Moe Berg (lead vocals, lead guitar)
Dave Gilby (drums)
Kris Abbott (vocals, guitars)[joined 1988]
Brad Barker (bass, vocals) [joined 1990]
Renee Suchy (vocals)[joined 1996]

The alumnae (one alumnus):

Johnny Sinclair (bass, vocals) [left 1990]
Tam Amabile (vocals) [left in 1988]
Tasha Amabile (vocals) [left in 1988]
Leslie Stanwyck (vocals) [joined 1989; left 1990]
Susan Murumets (vocals) [touring in 1990 only]
Rachel Oldfield (vocals) [joined in 1992; left 1995]
Jennifer Foster (vocals) [joined in 1995; left 1996]

Moe Berg lives in Toronto with his wife and 2 young children. His wife runs a successful home run business. Moe continues to make music. He works as a DJ, record producer, music writer and author.

Moe has his own blog site at moeberg.ca. One thing I thought was a great read was his post entitled The Contract. Read it here

Dave Gilby has continued to be a member of TPOH, as well working again with Tam and Tasha Amabile in the group Daughters Of Eve.

Kris Abbott lives in Kingston, Ontario and performs under the band name Kris & Dee.

Brad Barker went back to college and studied broadcasting. He is now an on air personality on Jazz FM91 in Toronto.

Renee Suchy moved back to Edmonton to raise a family, but is still involved in music. She is in a band with her 2 sisters named The Ambers.

Johnny Sinclair and Leslie Stanwyck formed their own band called Universal Honey. To date they have released 7 albums.

Susan Murumets got a degree in psychotherapy and opened her own practice. She continues to perform however under the band name The Cocktail Shakers.

Rachel Oldfield was also in the Canadian band Parachute Club, and is on the Board Of Directors for the Radio Starmakers Fund.

Jennifer Foster has continued to make music and has also delved into acting.

An interesting read from a fellow blogger at Jaded and Elated featured TPOH. Read it here

The band did a reunion show in 2014 that I found out about too late, but I will keep my eyes open for another one. If they ever do reform, I will be the first in the ticket line.

This was a group post. For others check out:

Gin Blossoms- 1001albumsin10years

Tonic – mikeladano.com

The Refreshments – keepsmealive

Paul Laine – StickItInYourEar

Crash Test Dummies – KMA

 

 

We miss you Randy

March 19, 1982. 34 years have passed since the death of Randy Rhoads. One of, and some might argue the best guitarist the world has ever seen. He only lived 25 years, but he gave us so many wonderful riffs, so I thought I would share a few with you.

Not as well known were his days in Quiet Riot, and good quality footage is not out there to my knowledge

He seems like he was a humble, nice guy. I have never read anything negative about him.

Some of his playing when he was 15

Ozzy listens to lost Randy Rhoads solo

An interview with Randy’s mom Delores (RIP) done by a 15 year old in 1984

News reports from that day in 1982

St. Patrick’s Day Musical Tribute

A simple musical tribute for my Irish friends.

Not my favourite band, but they certainly were a force to be reckoned with, and have helped put Ireland on the musical map. A haunting song off their best album.

Nothing could be more Irish than Thin Lizzy live in Belfast

Possibly the best Irish guitar master

Not as well known, but equally awesome

A duet with Mark Knopfler off his newest album

Boomtown Rats

Zombies are all the rage now so

Possibly her most memorable performance

Happy St Paddy’s day all. Have a green beer, or green tea for me.

Album Review: Eagles of Death Metal – Zipper Down (2015)

We all know the band now, but probably for the wrong reasons. If you didn’t know the band before that fateful day in Paris at the Bataclan Theatre, you now do. I probably did not focus on the band in years past because of the name. I wrongly assumed it was a death metal band, and the growling vocals of that genre are not my favourite. I can only assume that the band name has caused some others to ignore the band as well.

With a name like Eagles of Death Metal, one would assume they were a very hard, and loud band, with wailing guitars and screaming, growling vocals. One would be wrong. This band is very different from the name. It might be more like a combination of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Chuck Berry, City and Colour, and Spinal Tap. A weird combination for sure, but with a huge dose of tongue in cheek, these guys can pull it off. They never take themselves too seriously. Josh Homme was quoted as saying “Four out of three doctors say Zipper Down is an eargasm trapped inside a Crazerbeam.” Jesse Hughes in turn said “I came up with a great analogy for what the music is. It’s bending George Clinton over a couch and butt-fucking him using Little Richard as the dick, and the Rolling Stones and Chuck Berry as the balls.” Ummm. Yeah. Moving on.

I bought the cassette version mainly because I have tons of vinyl, tons of cd’s, but have only a handful of new release cassettes. Cassettes haven’t died, but most of the bigger acts do not issue them, so I had to buy this when I saw it. I wrongly assumed that when Metallica did a cassette release, and it was such a great seller, that everyone would jump on board. Besides it is a cool red cassette. Possibly the first one in my collection.

Complexity – With the drums booming, the vocals making a magical beat, and all kinds of weird and wonderful noise, this song is a great start to the album.

Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M) – Cool song that has a bit of a updated Cars (Gary Numan) beat with a not so cool theme. The theme is about a hipster, wannabe who would trade the services of his girlfriend to the bouncer in order to be let into the happening hotspot.

Got A Woman – Starts off with Rocker (AC/DC) riff and morphs into a Ramones-like fast paced rocker, and back again.

I Love You All The Time – Has a bit of a country rock twang and cool guitar slides. A neat song about unrequited love. The French language section adds a neat touch.

Oh Girl – A 70’s sounding number that has elements of funk and early electronic music.

Time to get up and flip the cassette over.

Got The Power – Vocal harmonies begin this song with high highs and low lows that remind me of the Oak Ridge Boys. This is no country song though, with a pounding drum beat, addictive guitar riffage, and vocals that make you want to sing along.

Skin Tight Boogie – Fuzzy guitars, talk box, and Jack White themed guitar riffs. What a wicked combo. This song makes me wonder if EODM got a call from Steve Miller about music plagiarism. The similarity between this song and Space Cowboy is very evident, but the world is big enough for both as far as I am concerned. They are both freaking awesome.

Got A Woman (Slight Return) – Very promising sound. Too bad it is so short lived.

The Deuce – Has a bit of a 70’s Rolling Stones flavour. Fuzzy guitars are always welcomed in any song I listen to, especially if they take centre stage. This is a real toe tapper. I never knew this, but apparently The Deuce can boogie.

Save a Prayer – I never, ever thought I would hear this song again. Duran Duran and I never really saw eye to eye. I heard it enough back in the day to do me for life. This version is pretty cool though. I really like when bands take a pop song, and rock it up.

The Reverend – I wonder if this has a bit to do with front man, Jesse Hughes becoming an ordained minister with the Universal Life Church. This has nothing to do with religion though, and all to do with getting on the dance floor and shaking your groove thing. The guitar work here is especially intoxicating.

I am glad to see the tragedy in Paris did not end the band. They are starting a world tour 2 days from now, hopefully coming to a city near you.

As for the album 8.75/10

 

 

 

 

Album Review:The Baker Skateboards EP(2016)

2016-03-15 15.29.12

Skater songs have certainly changed from back in the Stone Ages when I used to say shit like “Rad Board Dude”, and “Gnarly”. I went through a phase in my teens when I hung out with dudes that wore Vans, spending time riding boards and BMX bikes. We would jump ramps, grind railings and usually wipe out. The odd time we did a cool trick but we were just posers. We liked our tunes though. I would bring the metal, someone else brought punk, some others brought rock and we would crank the blaster and do some innocent hell raising(minus the Trooper).

Welcome to 2016. Baker Skateboards are a relatively new comer to the game. I had not even heard of them before this compilation(which isn’t saying much since I have been out of the scene for around 3 decades). They have gathered 5 musical acts together to promote the sport and their brand. If they convinced an out of shape, way past his prime old fart like me to buy the EP, that says something about the talent involved.

End To End by Earthless – This was the entire reason I bought the album. I went to the Earthless concert last night, and bought this from the merch booth(I even got the band to sign it). This is the first Earthless song released since 2013, so it is something fans have been waiting a long time for. It is also very rare since it includes vocals, and is much shorter than most Earthless songs. Earthless are described as an instrumental psychedelic rock band. I can tell you from seeing them live, they truly do bring it. It is kind of like going back in time to 1970 and seeing an epic, 2 hour non stop version of a live Led Zeppelin show minus Robert Plant. Smashing drums, wailing guitar and enough booming bass to knock down buildings. This song however is a little different. I would say more Sabbathy at the start. Screeching feedback mixed with guitar and drums begin the song off. The vocals begin and sound like a mix of Neil Fallon (Clutch) and possibly early Ted Nugent. The sludge fades into a psychedelic Hendrix and the guitar work takes over. This song alone is well worth the price I paid for this album, I just wish there were more. I hope this means we will be seeing more Earthless songs featuring vocals, as this was a nice touch.

Friday by Pell – This has a nice trumpet to begin this song off. It sounds like a nice jazz number. Then the electronic drum beat and the rhyming begins. It is a nice number. I’m certainly not into dance/rap any longer, but this one is not annoying. It has a good beat, the vocals are well placed, the bass is booming, and the rapping is well done. I prefer my music to not be made by machines, but I do respect that this type of music is an artform loved by millions.

Giving Up The Ghost by Zig Zags – Fast paced, hard rocking song. It has kind of a 70’s Deep Purple/Judas Priest feel to it. I have never heard of this band before, but I definitely will check them out more.

Wave Function by Denmark Vessey – This song begins with computer sounds and it has sort of an electronica song feel to it. Then the slamming bass and dance/rap vocals begin. Another song that has deceived me into thinking it is one thing, then turning into another. The vocals repeating on a loop and real bad electronic drums are definitely not my thing. I am sure the boarders in 2016 will appreciate this more than me.

Goatshow by The Goat & The Occasional Others – Another band I have never hear of. The song has a punk feel to it. All about wanting to go to a Goatshow. I think I’ll pass that show, but I do like the song. Not as fast as most punk songs, but has the feel of dissidence bubbling just below the surface. Another band I will look into.

So overall, 2 awesome songs, 1 really good song, 1 good song, and 1 I could do without. Not bad considering the target audience is 2 or 3 decades my junior. There are official places online to search for a free download of at least some of the songs from this album, or better yet, go see Earthless live and pick up a physical copy. Win/Win.

If I were to score the 3 songs I really dig, it would be much closer to perfect, however overall I would give this a 8.5/10

 

“Bad” Spots In Music

A post today about bad spots in musical recordings. I had Quiet Riot-Metal Health on cassette. It had a bad spot in the tape. Whenever I heard the song Metal Health (Bang Your Head) I would anticipate that bad spot. When I heard the proper version, it sounded weird to me. Another song I thought had a bad spot was I Love Myself Today by Bif Naked. Listen to the video below at 1:36. There is a glitch on the studio version that I can only assume was left there on purpose. I have no idea why.

Merry Clayton gave her all on Gimme Shelter. She was woken up at midnight to come to the studio to sing. Her voice cracks but it was left in the recording, which made the listener actually feel how hard she was screaming to get those notes out. That was Mick Jagger yelling ‘woo’ as I’m sure he was as impressed as we are. Merry was pregnant at the time, and unfortunately the strain from singing her part contributed in having a miscarriage right afterwards.

The bass line was off at the start of Cannonball by The Breeders and then corrected. It really adds to the song in my opinion though.

Jeff Lynne may be one of the best musical geniuses of modern times. I wonder if it was intentional when his band ELO recorded Sweet Talking Woman. It sounds as if one of the channels dropped off of the song at 1:54.

Chicago had some of the biggest hits of the 70’s and 80’s. Their song Wishing You Were Here has a warbled sound at 2:03

 

Whoever was in charge of cutting and splicing tape during the recording of For What It’s Worth by Buffalo Springfield left a few sections on the cutting room floor. The B is left of Beware and the P is left off of People In The Street.

One of the most covered songs ever, Louie Louie has a curse word, a false start, missing notes, but it was in Animal House, so all is good.

Lastly, one of my favourite guitar songs of all time Funk # 49 has Joe Walsh make a very minor error that was never corrected at 2:49

Feel free to share any songs I missed, or let me know about songs/tapes/cd’s/records that had a bad spot you got used to.

 

Frank Turner Interview

I won tickets on my local radio station. The DJ asked me “Do you like Frank Turner?” I had no idea who he was. The DJ laughed. “He’s a folk/punk singer from England that the ladies love.” I had visions of a young Tom Jones type that would cause women to remove clothing upon walking into the room. This might be a good night. I wanted to research Frank and buy some of his music before the show. I bought the new album, Positive Songs For Negative People. The first listen made me think this is good. After a few more listens my attitude went from like to love. I bought some of his old stuff, including both of his albums from his old band, Million Dead, and bought his new book, The Road Beneath My Feet. Million Dead was a post-hardcore band with a much harder edge. The band broke up and Frank set out alone. He went from selling out large venues to having a handful of people at his show. An endless non-stop touring schedule began. The show I was at was number 1841. So 1841 shows in roughly 10 years. So roughly a show every other day for 10 years, not including travel time(speaking of travel, after the show Frank was leaving Waterloo well after midnight and had a show at 7pm in Thunder Bay, 1500 km away, during a Canadian winter!!!!). This is a post about the interview I did with Frank, so I won’t get too deep into the music, or his live shows, but I do strongly suggest you check him out. I can give no bigger recommendation than the Assistant Program Director at my local radio station. He saw me at the show, and he came up to me wide eyed. He said he doesn’t really go nuts for famous rock stars the way he did for Frank. Frank was one of the only people he has ever cared enough to watch do a sound check. We both agreed that his new album took a few listens, but when you “get it”, it hooks you in. I will only say about the show that it was the best experience I have ever witnessed with a solo musician and a guitar. The audience yelled along with every song. Considering he has sold out Wembley Stadium, O2 Arena, and performed at the Olympics, the small bar I saw him at was a real treat.

What was the first concert you ever attended?
I went to see a band called Snug at the Joiners Arms in Southampton. Probably 1995.

What do you do to get yourself psyched up before a show?
Not much usually, I’ve been doing this long enough. That said, if I need to get in the mood I usually listen to Converge.

Do you change up the setlist, and if so, how do you decide what to play and where?
I do a little, though I usually have a working structure on any given tour, which will have trade in spots. I spend forever thinking about setlist choices – it’s all to do with which album, which key, which mood, how the whole thing flows.. It’s a well-considered thing.

Tell me a little about the big venues. Wembley, O2, Olympics. Was it surreal? Explain your feelings.
Playing bigger venues is a little weird at first, though like all things you get used to it. It’s more of a challenge to get a show across in that kind of environment, but if you succeed it feels fantastic. The Olympics was altogether different, it was more like a video shoot, there were no people anywhere near us. Still fun to do though, different.

Is the prep, the feelings, the everything the same if you are at a small club compared to those large shows?
Not really; there are a lot more people around, a lot more technical shit going on at the larger shows. There’s more room backstage and so on. But I suppose the basics remain the same. You’re still hitting a stage to try and engage an audience with your songs.

 I know you have progressed to being a huge star, but do you ever feel like sofa crashing or playing in the parking lot for the fans like the old days?
I still do from time to time. It’s not quite the same though, the way people react to me in public is different now. And I’m not 23 any more, which makes a big difference. Shit starts hurting when you get older.

How did you choose the songs for Last Minutes & Lost Evenings? What songs from Positive Thoughts For Negative People would have made that album?
LMLE was basically a live primer from the early records that Epitaph wanted to release outside the UK, so it was based on common setlist choices from preceeding tours. I guess if PSFNP material was going on there, the consideration would be the same. It’s arguably a little too early to say on that score really, the material from the new record is still bedding down with people.

Can you describe the song writing process briefly? Is it one person, a collaboration?
I write on my own, and then take the songs to the band (The Sleeping Souls) for arrangement. The writing process has no hard and fast rules, it’s always different, and it’s something I try not to examine in any great detail as I don’t want to fuck with the mechanism. The arrangement process is more methodical, we work through different presentations of the song, it’s quite gruelling actually, we work hard.

Is there one Producer, Engineer etc. that you would love to work with?
I actually loved working with Butch Walker last time around and am keen to do so again.

The same for an artist.
Robbie Robertson.

What music are you currently listening to? Possibly someone we may not know about.
I did a show with a guy called Uri Sade lately, he was stunning. https://soundcloud.com/uri-music/

Explain to me the feelings you have for the new album. Do you feel it is far and away better than your previous work or an extension of the previous?
That’s a difficult question for me now. In the past I might have been able to answer it about any given record, but I have too much material under my belt now. It’s virtually impossible for me to make a meaningful qualitative comparison between PSFNP and Love Ire & Song, for example. They come from such different places, times, contexts, that I can’t really think about it like that. I do love the new record, I’m super happy with it even now (which is unusual for me, I’m usually tearing things apart this long after release). I think it achieves what it sets out to do.

Has getting more popular, famous etc. and reaching a higher plateau elevated your work? If so, is there a fear the next album will be held up to too high of a standard.
I don’t think that the level of my public regard has much impact on the quality of my work. I suppose I felt a little pressure around Poetry Of The Deed, and then learned pretty fast that it’s meaningless. I put quite enough pressure on myself anyway!

There are different chapters in your book. As the reader, the book so far has been a list of interesting stories, mostly about life on the road and road gigs. Why the different chapters, and for you, what separates one from the other? Is there a significance, as in progressing forward as a musician etc.?
The book is structured around individual shows, so I just went through and picked out the ones that I felt were significant, furthered the narrative, or were entertaining to recall.

Regarding your Dad. If this is too raw still, I understand. Was that the last time you saw him? If not have you and he patched things up? If he asked you to, would you take the song(Father’s Day) off your setlist? 
I have no contact with my father.

A previous venue was not as full as you had hoped, and it seemed like you may have almost came to a crossroad of staying with music or quitting and “adulthood nagging at my sleeve”. Describe the feeling and how (or what) helped you soldier on with music.
I think anyone doing anything like what I do for a living is, to some degree, driven by a large dose of self-belief. You have to have some kind of inner motor to drive yourself through that kind of thing, it happens often enough. I suppose part of it is belief in the music you’re making, your need to communicate or whatever. But it’s a type of faith on some level. Everyone tries to be a realist, and I don’t want to be undignified, clinging to something long after it’s gone. I’m glad I soldiered through those times, and continue to do so.

Has your definition of hitting the big time differed from the night you were able to afford a night in the Manchester Travelodge?
Haha, yeah I suppose so. “The big time”, “success”, “making it” and so on, these are all pretty vacuous terms. From a distance it looks like a singular destination; from up close you realise it’s different for everyone, it’s not like there’s a finish line you’re heading for. For the time being my career is on solid foundations logistically, economically, whatever. So my preoccupations and challenges are more purely artistic, which I actually think is a healthier state of affairs. Success for me now is more purely about writing songs that are up to scratch.

First off. Sorry for your friend Lexie. She sounds like she was an awesome person. Can you describe her. Are there things that remind you of her? Describe what is like for us to have to perform a show full of emotions. Have they ever gotten the best of you on stage? 
Lexie was a wonderful soul, the life of every party, someone relentlessly adventurous, even to the end. It’s kind of delightful that one of my solo songs has commemorated her (Long Live The Queen), and been a big part of my career taking off; she was much more a Million Dead fan. I think she’d find it funny. There’s a necessary degree of distancing that goes on when performing emotionally laden material, no one can directly relive everything night on night, that’s just not human. There are nights when it’s harder than others, sure. (Note: Alexa Burrows or Lex, was a fan right from the early Million Dead days. She started Lexapalooza, a one day musical festival to raise awareness and funds for Breast Cancer, the disease that ultimately took her life. Once again I say FYC)

Do you have a favourite tattoo? Can you tell us a story like the on you did on John Berna, or the one you got of Texas.
It’s hard to pick just one. I have many. I’m a big fan of the backs of my hands, a fox and a crow, a nod to Mewithoutyou; that record blew my mind and changed my career a lot when I heard it.

In your book you mentioned you don’t drive. Do you still not have a license?
Nope, haven’t had the opportunity to learn, I’ve been busy.

In the book you mention that you had to front your own money because you wanted to have the rest of the band on tour with you. I assume that has changed. Is the decision to go solo or bring the band your decision?
It hasn’t totally changed, no. I make money in some parts of the world and lose it elsewhere. The decision is mine. I’m fine with the idea of UK tours essentially funding tours in Eastern Europe or whatever. Playing is more important to me than money.

In the book you mentioned underwear are called American Briefs here in Canada (I’ve never heard this term before so I wonder where you got that info)
From an American.

(The following questions were provided from fellow blogger James at Keepsmealive

Can you describe how you feel about the Weakerthans, your tattoo of the cat named Virtute, and Joel Plaskett ?
I love the Weakerthans, they’re one of my favourite bands. The tattoo is to do with that. Joel is awesome, I’d not heard of him before we toured together back in 2012 but it made a fan out of me. He’s an amazing writer and a wonderful guy.

I have heard you try and fit in a song from a local act(or other Canadian band). Do you still do that? How did that start? Do you have any favourites?
I did that for a tour back in 2013, it was a lot of fun, and a good discipline for me as a writer and performer. I haven’t been doing it lately, but I might again sometime. It was cool learning stuff like Jimmy Buffet, and it was cool to play an SNFU song in Edmonton one time.

What do you make of your popularity among recently retired pro wrestlers? Daniel Bryan is a fan and they talked about working together, and CM Punk was in the video for The Next Storm https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P4IZbCl6iR4
Uh, it’s cool? I don’t really know anything about wrestling but Daniel and Punk are both good people.

Your song I Still Believe was released for Rock Band to herald the announcement of Rock Band 4 – what do you think of games like that, etc.?
I’ve never played one, but people seem to like ’em.

When I saw you perform in Calgary a few years ago, you were touring with Koo Koo Kanga Roo – having a kids’ act for an opener is not a thing most bands would do – how did that come about, why did you make that call, etc. ?
I played a festival with KKKR in Minneapolis years ago and just loved them. I think they’re an amazing live band, really fun, and I like the way they’re resolutely unhip, they’re not arch or ironic or anything, it’s just pure fun. Having them on tour was amazing, it really made the shows more energetic for me. I enjoyed watching crowds go from total confusion to surrender.

Thank you so much Frank for taking the time to answer our questions.

For a review of 3 separate Frank Turner shows from James at keepsmealive please click here , here , and here

 

George Martin Tribute/Album Review:Jeff Beck-Blow By Blow(1975)

For some other tributes please visit mikeladano , keepsmealive , and 1001albumsin10years

When I heard this morning that George Martin had passed, I wanted to do a tribute. I did not want anything Beatles related because although I love them, that is mostly all he is known for. I searched the internet to find out what other projects he worked on. It turns out, I have a few of his non-Beatles gems, but I knew this album by Jeff Beck would be a fitting send off. This album was Jeff’s first instrumental album, and was the first ever instrumental album to crack the Top 10. George was interviewed years later about the recording of this album and he said “I’m a simple person when it comes to recording. The sounds you get are 99% what you get in the studio.” He also told Jeff before recording this album “I’m not gonna give you any magic if you’re thinking of that; I’m not gonna give you sounds that you’ve never heard before.” and “The sounds are gonna have to come from your guitar, and you’re gonna have to work on ’em.”

You Know What I Mean – Ok. Right off the bat, you know this is not going to be like any Jeff Beck album ever heard. Jeff is one of the best rocking blues guitar shredders of all time. This was something different though. A side of Jeff we did not know existed. Don’t get me wrong, he still shreds, but the music accompanying him is very jazz influenced with some funk slid in for good measure.

She’s A Woman – If someone told me they were going to do an instrumental Beatles cover song, in a sort of Do You Feel Like We Do/Rocky Mountain Way talkbox meets Reggae backbeat I would have called them crazy.

Constipated Duck – I am really upset I didn’t go through school to become a vet. If I would have been able to listen to this as part of a lesson, all those spays and neuters would have been worth it. Maybe the duck is not really constipated, and is just holding it so he can hear the rest of this song. Who knows?

AIR Blower – Funky, chunky bass start this song off and continue all the way through. The drums keep a nice, steady beat. This leaves Jeff free to be able to what he does best, and that is wail. OH BOY does he ever wail. There is a nice addition of some well played keyboards that blend in nicely with the style of the song. The guitar work varies between higher pitched screams and lower toned grooves. They both feel right. There is sort of a spacey, trippy feeling to the song near the end that finishes it on a high note. The AIR in the title is in reference to the AIR Studios in where the album was recorded.

Scatterbrain – A reserved, but well thought out drum solo starts this off, and Jeff blends in like he so often does. Soon he decides it is not time to blend, but move his guitar to the fore front. This is a Jeff Beck album after all. Some wah pedal techniques, and a faster pace fill the middle of the song. Then the orchestra lets us know they want to be included. George Martin did the arranging here, and he did a damn fine job. Then the song takes a different turn. It has some wailing at the end that must have influenced Kim Thayil (Soundgarden) on the song Jesus Christ Pose. This is almost like 2 or 3 songs in one. A faster, more frenetic pace fills the last 30 seconds or so of the song.

We must now either choose to play Side A again, or flip the record over (I voted for the first option, since it was so damn fine).

Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers – Jeff’s playing here is more like his bluesy stuff of albums past. His guitar tone is so, so good. I suggest to find a comfy chair, sit back, close your eyes and let the waves of awesomeness envelope you in a sea of ecstasy. This was written by Stevie Wonder, as partial payback for Beck coming up with the song Superstition.

Thelonius – This stuff is so grooooovy, it could straighten the hair on Linc from the Mod Squad. Funky, wah pedal, soulful goodness. The bass thumps the large drivers right out of the speakers, and the clavinet is amazing. It should be. Not only did Stevie Wonder write this song, he plays clavinet on this song uncredited.

Freeway Jam – If I got to hear this awesome little number every day, I would drive the freeway during rush hour in the slow lane. The guitar licks repeat throughout most of the song, but the funky 70’s bass, and pounding drum keep us from getting bored.

Diamond Dust – A softer song with a mellower, but equally awesome guitar. The best guitarists in the world don’t always need to have their instruments scream to make you notice them. Another song with an orchestral arrangement by George Martin. What a fitting way to end an album, and say goodbye to a legend. So long George, say hi to John and George H. for us.

Apparently, Jeff never seemed to be satisfied with his work on this album. He recorded the solos over and over until he felt they were perfect. George Martin got a call months after the recording was done and it was Jeff wanting to change one of the solos again. George had to tell him “I’m sorry Jeff. The album is already in the record shops.” I’m not sure what solo it was, but I would have also told him you can not perfect on perfection.

10/10

 

Album Review: Helix-Wild In The Streets (1987)

This is an album I haven’t heard in a while. As a Canadian teen, I loved me some Helix. Not to mention they were from close to home (Kitchener, Ontario, Canada). I probably listened to this hundreds of times back in the day. Newer albums and life seemed to take over though. When Mike from the excellent site mikeladano.com mentioned he was doing a week of Canadian music, and asked if I wanted to do a collaboration, I thought this album would be one I would like to review. Also, I got to listen to it for the first time in years, so win/win. Mike also did a review of this album. Here is the link.

Wild In The Streets – Wait. Did I put the turntable on 45 by accident. Nope. That is the speed it is supposed to be on. Either Brent ‘Doctor’ Doerner is playing his guitar real fast, or the sound engineer is doing his magic and speeding up the tape just a bit. The drums kick in and they seem at normal speed. Maybe it is just my old ears. This song was c0-written by Ray Lyell, years before his band The Storm had a hit with Another Man’s Gun. This really is a great, kick ass, hair metal anthem. Now that I look back to my youth, I wish I would have cranked this every time I played ball hockey. Wild in the streets indeed.

Never Gonna Stop The Rock – Writing credit for this goes to members of the band FM. Sorry, Nash The Slash fans, this is the British band. I know nothing about them, but they wrote a decent song. Nothing spectacular, but not bad. Nice drum and guitar work. Lead vocals are good, but the background vocals sound kind of weird. Almost like there are 25 people in the band.

Dream On – Time for the obligatory 80’s power ballad. This one is far and away miles better than most out there. It is a cover of a Nazareth song, but just like they did with the A Foot in Coldwater song (Make Me Do) Anything You Want, Helix does a better job than the original. Not very often can a band sing a song better than the artist that first recorded it, but they do it twice. Bonus points for the Doctor playing a double neck guitar with surgical precision.

What Ya Bringin’ To The Party – Answer=Helix. Some great shredding start this song off, and Daryl Gray turns his bass amp up so we don`t forget he`s back there. This is a good rocker, with some normal background sounding vocals. More shredding in the middle help this song out a lot. Just a shade from being great. It`s really good.

High Voltage Kicks – Fuzzy, bluesy guitar set the start of this song apart from most hair metal songs. If I close my eyes I have visions of  SRV or Jimi. As well Brian Vollmer’s vocals have a bit of CCR’s Midnight Special. I would actually have liked to have heard a full song with this style, but the pace picks up and we are back to hair metal. Not that this is a bad thing. It is right up Helix`s alley. I actually like both parts of this song. They do blend well together.

Give `Em Hell – Another decent rocker that has exceptional guitar work to help its cred out.

Shot Full Of Love – Really good shredding sounds emit from my speakers. `The gun was loaded and in her hand`, `She was squeezing the trigger, when it went bang`, and `shot full of love.` As Austin Powers would say, Oh Behave.

Love Hungry Eyes – More great guitar work start this song off. This is becoming a theme. The song itself is kind of a hair slower than I would like. The slower speed drags the song down. It seems a little sleepy. The background vocals sound good though, and of course there are more sweet guitar noises.

She`s Too Tough – This song was written by Joe Elliott of Def Leppard. It is nothing like the Foreigner song of the same name. No synthesizers here people. Just straight ahead rocking 80`s metal. Kicking ass and taking names. Awesome guitar work, and a scream that has kind of a Rob Halford flavour (Oh behave). Drums pound,  bass booming. This song does sound like the style of early Def Leppard. Perhaps DL had already gone a little more radio friendly and this song did not fit in. It finally got released as a b side in 1992, but sounds more like 1982 to me.

Kiss It Goodbye – I find it very disconcerting that when I put this title into youtube it shows me Nickelback, Miley Cyrus and Chipmunks versions. However, no Helix. What is this world coming to. Then if I add Helix to the search, it shows some dude spinning his butterfly knife. Again, wtf. Anyway, this song begins with some spacey effects that blend into pounding drums and shredding guitar. Brian Vollmer`s voice almost has a Bon Scott quality to it here. He has that raw, pissed off attitude that Bon had in spades. Telling us to `just bend over, kiss your ass goodbye` furthers that attitude. The guitar work here is awesome, the drumming top notch, and the background vocals blend in nicely. Great song to end the album.

I really enjoyed listening to this album again. Thank you Mike for forcing me to focus and pick out details I might have otherwise missed. I think I enjoy this album as much, or more than I did back in the day.

One thing I am actually upset with Helix about is the piss poor job they did on the liner notes. There were a ton of very talented people involved with the making of this album, but I have no way of knowing just where they helped out. Don Airey, Sam Reid, Darryl Gray play keyboards. Mickey Curry, Brian Doerner, Mathew Frennette, Greg “Fritz“ Hinz play drums. Brent Doerner and Paul Hackman (RIP) play guitar. Brian Vollmer-vocals. I just wish I could tell who played what, on which song. I always like to research the players and listen for their parts. Guys like Don Airey, for example, have played with the best. They deserve more respect than that, and so do we.

Other than the credits I’m pretty happy about this record. I think it deserves more respect. It never made it big outside of Canada, and the band was subsequently dropped from the label. But who cares. It is a really good record that should have done better than it did.

9/10