Album Review : The Rolling Stones – Sticky Fingers (1971)

Today is Bill Wyman’s birthday. I had been looking for an excuse to review this record. I have been looking for a copy of this record for years. I have a copy with no album cover, but that doesn’t count. Speaking of album covers, I wanted the best version. You know the one I mean. The one with the working zipper on the front, the tighty whities inside, and the gold Andy Warhol stamp.

A few weeks ago I was in Hamilton, Ontario. I looked up ‘Hamilton thrift stores’ on my phone. I went to the first one on the list. The record bins were full of 500 or so of the usual suspects. As in, garbage, thrift store records. There were hundreds of albums no one wants. There were a handful of prospects but on further inspection they were too scratched to take home. I moved over to the cd section. This was more like it. Very good selection, in good shape. It appeared to me that possibly a local radio station had donated a bunch of stuff. There were a lot of promo cd’s and a ton I heard never seen. I was there for about an hour. I was within earshot of the front desk and could hear the 2 employees working. The guy asked the lady “Where did you find these records?” “The Beatles, Chicago, Steely Dan, Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, The Rolling Stones…….” My ears perked way up by this point. My heart sank though when he said “Can you put these in the back for me?” I know how it works. I have a bit of inside information about thrift stores. The employees often grab the best music. Oh well. At least I have my cd’s. I looked for a while longer and brought my cd’s to the counter. I thought I would give it a shot anyway. I asked about the records that they were talking about. She said she had put them on the shelf. Apparently the guy did not want all of them. He only wanted The Beatles. I was so relieved. The records had been on the top and luckily no one else had come in and grabbed them while I looked at cd’s. The crown jewel of this haul was the Sticky Fingers album with the zipper. I know 50 cents is a lot to pay, but I wanted this album, so I gave in.

Brown Sugar – Rolling Stones. How come you sound so good?

Sway – A great, underrated song. Has more blues swagger and is a little less radio friendly than others on the album. I love the piano, drums, Mick’s voice and especially the guitar.

Wild Horses – I first heard this song in the early 80’s. I was being looked after by my cool aunt and uncle. They got me into so much 70’s rock. She told me this was her favourite Stones song, so I love it through blood.

Can’t You hear Me Knocking – WOW. That amazing guitar. Keef and Mick Taylor really show us how it should be done here.

You Gotta Move – An old school blues song originally done in 1948, and made popularized by Fred McDowell in 1965. Mick sings this with a Southern dialect. We can tell where the Stones got a lot of influence from.

Bitch – The brass. The bass. The geetar. The vocals. An almost perfect song. I’m sure I enjoyed it more than the censors did back in 1971. Just for shits and giggles I Googled “Bitch song”. I got Meredith Brooks, Elton John, and Bowling For Soup. WTFF. The best one ever and it does not come up.

I Got The Blues – A cross between blues and soul. It has mellow guitar, piercing horns, Mick’s voice, the military precision of the drumming and the amazing keys.

Sister Morphine – No mention of Marianne Faithful as co-author on my album, but after a long legal battle she was finally given her due. The amazing contrast between acoustic and electric guitars are the real stars here for me. Jack Nitsche guests on piano and organ and Ry Cooder guests with an amazing slide guitar. Get Ry Cooder to slide guitar my eulogy.

Dead Flowers – The Stones were hanging around with Gram Parsons during this time and perhaps he influenced the band off into country music territory. The guitars and piano have a honky tonk flavour and Mick has southern drawl.

Moonlight Mile – Mick Taylor was promised a songwriting credit to this song but was not given it. Unfortunately the ugly side of the business was creeping into the band. The song itself is possibly the most underrated song in The Stones collection. It has a bit of a Japanese theme as part of the guitar work was a redone bit originally done by Richards entitled “Japanese Thing”.

Happy Birthday Bill. Maybe for my next birthday you can come up with some of the magic you helped create on this album.





CBC Television broadcast of The Secret Path (2016)

Last night at 9pm, the CBC broadcast The Secret Path. The video clips set to the music of Gord’s new album of the same name. I am not a television subscriber so I found out that it was also broadcast live on CBC Arts Youtube channel (link below).

After the video clips and the music are done, the program moves to Northern Ontario. Gord Downie is meeting with Chanie’s sisters. The conversation starts right off with one sister mentioning Gord’s cancer and thanking him for making the trip. Gord mentions his band just did “a show”. (Yeah a show in which 1/3 of Canada tuned in.) Another sister asks “What show was that?” That was a classic response. Gord is a hero to many, but just another guy to these ladies. I found it especially telling that Gord called out our Prime Minister during the concert to help the native people of Canada, but possibly some/many/most indigenous people may not have even known about it. While speaking about what he said during his concert, it appeared to me that the CBC edited out some of what Gord said. Not entirely unexpected, but still kind of a shame.

This was a really touching meeting. Lots of hand holding, hugs. Many laughs and tears. Lots of discussion, and images of the beautiful scenery. One thing that I got out of this was how frail Gord looked. He looks to have aged tremendously. He looked as if he could barely walk through the forest, so I can’t imagine the energy that was drained from him to do the last tour.

The scene moves to Toronto during recording sessions for the album. I read the credits on the album and it was recorded at The Bathouse in Bath, Ontario and mixed at giant Studio in Toronto. This looks as if it is in someone’s living room however. It’s really informal and cool. A neat glimpse into the making of the album.

The final segment was a discussion panel and question period. The discussion was overly long on my opinion. It took away from program as a whole. There were good points made but it was somewhat boring. The question period was much better. I found out a lot of new information, and I will check into this situation more. The program challenged us as Canadians to do like Gord did, and challenge our Government to do something about this injustice. It is incredible that children were abducted by the Government, parents often had no idea where their children went, and that any parent that objected to their children being taken was arrested. I also feel it is hard to believe that in 2016, many indigenous communities do not have safe drinking water, and do not have their own schools. Hopefully after programs such as this air, and the people of Canada are made aware, things can change.

I will take off slight points for the CBC editing of Gord and for the long length of the discussion, but it really was a great show. Possibly the best thing the CBC has ever aired.



Album & Book Review : Gord Downie – Secret Path (2016)

As most of my fellow Canadians know Gord Downie was dealt a shitty hand earlier this year. The Tragically Hip put out an album earlier this year, and put on a final tour. Many thought this may be the last time they would ever get to see or hear from Gord. What we did not know is Gord had been working on a solo album over the last 3 years, and announced the album release and 2 shows to promote it. Earlier this week the album hit the shelves, and he performed in Ottawa and Toronto.

When I heard of the album/book I was a little disappointed in the formats. It was either book (with download code) or the deluxe version with 180gram vinyl/88 page book/download/10 lyric posters in a box. Unfortunately no cd version available. I prefer a physical format and  like vinyl better than cd anyway, but the price was a little steep. Oh well, 100% of the proceeds from book/album, and both shows goes directly to The National Centre For Truth And Reconciliation ( Gord Downie obviously feels very strongly about this cause. If I were dying I’m not sure I would be able to give millions of dollars to any cause. I would be too selfish and think of my own family first. Obviously Gord Downie is a better man than I. He really is one of a kind.

The story behind the album/book is all about Chanie Wenjack. A real life tale about a 12 year old indigenous boy that died while running away from a residential school and trying to find his father. Little did he know his father was over 600km away. The link for the original story from 1967 is below.

The lonely death of Chanie Wenjack

The book is wonderfully illustrated by Jeff Lemire. He has a knack for making what at times appear to be drawings by a scared runaway, but yet still reek of professionalism. The coloured pages in the book reveal happy moments. But since only 7 of the 88 pages have colour, the black and white despair fills most of the book. It is a bit of a hard read if you remember this was the tale of a young boy dying, but the pictures perfectly represent the flow of the album. You may want to listen to the album as you flip through the pages. They suit each other nicely.

The Stranger – Chanie ran away from his residential school with some classmates. He was a stranger in school. He was a stranger when he got to his classmates home. The most telling part of the song are the lyrics “That is not my dad. My dad is not a wild man. He doesn’t even drink. My daddy’s not a wild man.” As if from the lips of Chanie trying to clear up the stereotype of the native man.

Swing Set – This is a nice song with a good beat. A cross between the newer Hip and house music. The song relates to the boys running off when no one was looking.

Seven Matches – Chanie was not able to stay at his friends house so the boys mother gave him 7 matches in a jar. Fire meant survival, so these matches were his life.

I Will Not Be Struck – Chaney walked along the train tracks, and would place his ear along the rail listening for the train.

Son – I am not sure how to interpret this song. I believe it is a message from a father to a son about not giving up his heritage or his dreams.

I glance through the book for a few more pages and flip the record over

Secret Path – The path the boys took to run away was a secret. Chanie is starting to get very cold as he continues to try and find his father. He wishes he had his jean jacket instead of a light windbreaker. The part that jumps out at me is “And the fuck-off rocks along the path” (I have no idea).

Don’t Let This Touch You – The lyrics don’t exactly reveal the details but the pictures show young boys in bed, a priest reaching out, and scared eyes. I think we can draw our own conclusions.

Haunt Them. Haunt Them. Haunt Them – A fairly fast paced song about Chanie hallucinating about a raven that tells him he can see his family again if he just gives up. Chanie wants to go back but does not want to haunt them.

The Only Place To Be – The place for Chanie to be, in his mind, is right in his final resting spot. When he dies he will give back to the animals and the earth. The song has a very upbeat, positive sound even with the outcome.

Here, Here And Here – This song has a total of 7 words. They repeat often, but the message still comes across, and the music is poignant and beautiful.

This book is beautiful. The artwork is marvelous. Just a warning to all of you Hip fans. This is not The Hip, so don’t go in expecting Road Apples Part 2. This has elements of mellow Hip songs, Gord’s solo stuff, house music, dance music, jazz, world music. It has a bunch of everything. I enjoyed it. I think it will grow on me the more I listen. I loved being able to glance through the book as I listen.

I suggest every Canadian should at least educate themselves on a very dark part of our history. As Gord said during his show the other night “Let’s not celebrate the last 150 years. Let’s start celebrating the next 150 years.”

For those interested CBC television has a 1 hour, commercial free airing of The Secret Path on Sunday, October 22 at 9pm EST.

For the music itself I would score a 7/10, and as a whole this deluxe edition earns a solid 9/10.




Album Review : Airbourne – Black Dog Barking (2013)

The band come back from the last album with yet another producer. Brian Howes is a Canadian so perhaps he can add some Canuck edge to this recording. He made his bones with bands I am not as fond of such as Hedley and Nickelback. However, he did work with some artists I do enjoy such as Halestorm, and now Airbourne. Brian Howes and JVP team up yet again on this album. JVP handling the mixing and engineering. Lastly Ted Jensen handles the mastering on this one. That is a pretty big 1-2-3 punch. Let’s see if it lives up to it.

Ready To Rock – In the first 2 seconds I know the mixing and production will be better than the last album. This one sounds great. Let the band do what they do best, and don’t over-produce them. Football stadium chants come and go which quickly give way to a rising guitar noise and pounding drums. This band is definitely ready to rock.

Animalize – Sorry Kiss fans. This is not a tribute to that album. The song does have a bit of a Domino sound to it at the start. Joel’s voice starts off in a Gene-like lower register and then gets higher and louder. If Gene Simmons had done a collaboration with Def Leppard in the early 90’s this may have been the result.

No One Fits Me (Better Than You) – Toe tapper drumming and electric guitar wails fill this song. A short but sweet song that was co-written by Brian Howes.

Back In The Game – Wicked guitar begins this one off. However, the bass, rhythm and drums don’t want to be left out. The background vocals help Joel take this over the edge.

Firepower – This song could have easily been on High ‘n’ Dry. It sounds raw and hungry like an early Def Lep. If Mutt Lange had said to the boys in 1981 ‘Let’s try and get that AC/DC sound boys”, this could have been the result.

Live It Up – The band wait until the flip side of the record to include the hit single. Risky yes, but well worth the wait. Air Raid sirens, dive bombing planes and guitar. Not quite Aces High, but still pretty awesome. (The video does not include the air raid sirens or planes, although it does include hot girls and Australian 4 door cars doing burn outs, so)

Woman Like That – Different yet amazing guitar is played throughout this song. The background chants and Joel’s vocal range are the real stars here. This song emphasizes the input a producer can have on an album. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. In this case, it is not just good, but great. Nice work Brian. This is a unique side of Airbourne. They show us they can branch off and grow.

Hungry – What would you get if you threw Megadeth, a death growl guttural vocalist and a flamenco guitarist into a blender and pushed Frappe. Why this weird and wonderful song of course.

Cradle To The Grave – More toe tapper drumming, Joel screams, and wonderful guitar. The wicked laughs, deeper vocals, and sweet harmony are a nice touch too.

Black Dog Barking – Funny to see the title song on the end of the album.I LOVE the lyrics to this song.

Hey gutless idol
With nothing on the inside
Your five minutes are up
And you’re livin’ on borrowed time
So stick ya ‘d’ tuned guitar
You shoe-gazing wannabe
I’m a hurricane comin’
And hell’s coming with me
Guitar attack
So watch your back
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
Your better sit down buddy
I got bad news for you
You never learned how to play
Now your posing days are through
Every kid with a guitar
Is gonna show you it’s done
And we ain’t gonna stop until the war is won
Guitar attack
So watch you back
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
I’m the black dog
Black dog barking
Black dog
Black dog barking
I’m gonna getcha tonight
It’s not

The song is a knock against the wave of “Idol” tv shows around the world and the wannabes that emerge from them. The ‘Black Dog Barking’ is a metaphor that represents Airbourne. They may not be on the top of the charts, or the most popular band in the world, but they play their own instruments, don’t give a shit what anyone thinks, won’t change their ways, and continue to rock n roll.

Much better production. 10 songs with no filler. Sound cranked up to 11. I like it.

For fans of early Def Leppard, 90’s Kiss, AC/DC, Accept, Rose Tattoo, Megadeth, guttural screams and a touch of flamenco.





Album Review: Airbourne – No Guts. No Glory (2009)

The second album by Airbourne has the band in the same frame of mind as the first. I am suspecting this will be the modus operandi as far as this band is concerned for all of their albums. The difference between this one and the last is not the attitude of the band, but in the production and mixing of the album.

Born To Kill – A decent song to begin the album. I enjoy the song the most at the 2:30 mark when it is mostly drums, background vocals and Joel’s wail.

No Way But The Hard Way – I can envision this band doing everything in life the hard way. Again the background vocals, and the voice changes of Joel between a guttural growl and a banshee scream are the stars here.

Blonde, Bad And Beautiful – The Razors Edge like guitar work begin this song off. a fairly infectious song that can stick in your head.

Raise The Flag – This has almost a Judas Priest guitar feel to it, which is a nice surprise.

Bottom Of The Well – This is really an awesome song. The lyrics tell us this band will do whatever it takes to succeed. No matter how deep down in the shit they are, they will claw their way to the top at all costs.

White Line Fever – Fairly generic song. Not bad. Not great either.

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over – This is not a Lenny Kravitz cover. It’s not in the same vein, and Lenny knows how to spell. A short but unique guitar solo starts this one off, and more decent guitar fill out the rest. The song gets a bit repetitive at times but is still pretty decent.

Steel Town – A perfect anthem for the typical fans of the band. Blue collar anthem in a harder edged offering than The Boss or John Cougar delivered.

Chewin’ The Fat – More sexual innuendo combine with some cool vocals and great guitar work. The drums and bass actually sound a lot better on this song than the rest of the album.

Get Busy Livin’ – The drums sound decent and Joel’s voice sounds great, however, the bass sounds like it is encased in 6 feet of fibreglass pink.

Armed And Dangerous – This sounds a bit like Night Of The Long Knives (a personal fave) so that is always a good thing. Not nearly as awesome as the aforementioned song, this is still a really good song.

Overdrive – A faster paced song with decent drumming and cool guitar. The backing vocals sound cool too. The almost complete lack of bass is the one downfall.

Back On The Bottle – The guitar work sounds a bit too copied, the song is too repetitive and generic. Not the best way to end the album.

I blame Johnny K, the producer for not trimming the fat on this album. At 13 songs it is too long. It should be between 8-10 songs. I think he figured lets throw everything against a wall and see what sticks. Also, he chose to try and over-produce this record. The straight ahead rock style that Bob Marlette chose for the last album suits this band much better. Johnny also tried to mute Joel’s voice. Let him wail like he was born to do. I also blame Mike Fraser for the mixing of this album. This album has some awful sounds to it. All they needed to do was let the players play as hard and fast as they could, and crank it up to eleven. Worked for the last record.

I think the album would have gotten higher marks, but as it is.




Album Review: Airbourne-Runnin’ Wild (2007)

I’ve seen Airbourne twice so far, and they are an amazing band to see live. Joel O’keefe smashes beer cans against his head and runs around like a coked up Neanderthal being chased by a velociraptor.

The band put out a EP before this, but as with most of us outside of Australia, this was my first introduction to the band. Oh, what an introduction it was. Do not be swayed by the rumours this is a tribute band. It has elements of a few other Australian hard rock bands, but this band is no joke. They are the real deal.

Stand Up For Rock ‘N’ Roll – Simple but wonderful guitar chords and pounding drums begin this song off. Over a minute of this and then the pace really goes off. We get to hear Joel’s raunchy, smokey, whiskey chugging voice begin to wail. Picture Jesse James Dupree after chain smoking a carton of Marlboros to get that Brian Johnson smokiness. These boys have me standing up for rock ‘n’ roll.

Runnin’ Wild – More guitar goodness to begin this song, followed by pounding drums. I sense a theme. The perfect song to end a work week with. Ready to head to the beach with a case of beer, and your best friends in tow. Top down in every sense. Suns out, guns out.

Too Much, Too Young, Too Fast – Has a beginning that sounds like another Australian rock band. I can’t quite place the name though. Something about electricity. Types of current. Alternating Current/Direct Current. Tesla? No. They’re not Austraslian. Oh well. It is definitely not too much (just enough), too young (ageless r & r), or too fast (great pace).

Diamond In The Rough – This reminds me of a song that could have come out near the end of the glam metal and just before grunge hit. Luckily this song came out in 2007 when the rock world was starting to grow tired of Nickelback and Nu Metal. Many were wanting a band to go back to the simple roots of hard rock and this song is just that. Catchy and hard.

Fat City – Raunchy lyrics about midnight bites at the cherry in Fat City. Somewhere Rosie is grinning ear to ear.

Blackjack – Has a very brief, Still Loving You(Scorpions) guitar beginning but then ramps up quickly to hard driving, beer chugging, betting it all on black, rock and roll anthem.

What’s Eatin’ You – I really enjoy the fellow band members chanting back in this song. More sexual innuendo raunchiness. This ain’t the band you hire for your Sunday Morning Social people.

Girls In Black – “You’re the hot bright neon, in the cold dark night”. I hope they don’t mean the car. The title repeats roughly 100 times in this song. That’s ok. I like girls in black.

Cheap Wine & Cheaper Women – Speaking of things I like. Umm. I mean things I used to like before I said “I do”. I could see this being a hit at the local dive bar. Sometimes the wrong side of the tracks is where the best music comes from.

Heartbreaker – No Robert Plant trying to make love it ain’t no use. No Jimmy Page riffs. No living, loving maids. Just fast paced, droning rhythm that sucks you in like a shop vac. More awesome background vocals and amazing drumming really make this a great song.

Hellfire – Straight ahead hard rock. Do not, I repeat do not listen to this song while driving unless you like a dual ticket for driving excessively fast while letting go of the wheel to air drum like a madman.

A great first, full length album debut from this awesome band. If you do not own a copy I suggest you get out and get yourself one.