Album Review : Ronnie Hawkins – Ronnie Hawkins (1970 Hawk Records Canadian pressing LP)

Ronnie Hawkins may very well be like the North American version of John Mayall. He had many musicians that have played with him over the years. Most moved on to bigger and better things. The most famous may be The Band. They went from playing bars backing up Ronnie to touring with Bob Dylan and selling millions of records on their own. Ronnie had a knack for finding the best talent to back him up. That may be why he ventured back down to his native land in the southern USA and recorded this album. What better place to record than Muscle Shoals. He of course had The Swampers along for the ride, but he also had an amazing harp player in King Biscuit Boy, and none other than Duane Allman on guitar.

One More Night (Bob Dylan) – This song was released by Bob Dylan on his Nashville Skyline album just before Ronnie covered it here. I much prefer Ronnie’s version as his voice suits country more as far as my ears are concerned.

Bitter Green (Gordon Lightfoot) – Gordon Lightfoot is a tough act to cover. He has such an amazing dual mix of great lyrics and gripping vocals, and he was in the zone back in the 60’s. Ronnie does a really commendable job here though, and the backing music is amazing. The drum work added especially sets this one apart from the original. Close on the vocals here and even better sounding backing band.

I May Never Get To Heaven (Buddy Killen & Bill Anderson) – This song has been a country song, a rockabilly song and a Motown song over the years. The most famous version may be Conway Twitty’s version that went to #1 on the country charts in 1979, but this version is pretty great too. It has an almost Elvis like quality that is pretty cool.

Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Traditional) – Fitting that a version of this song was played at Duane Allman’s funeral a year after this album was released.

Matchbox (Carl Perkins) – Another Elvis like song done in the great Carl Perkins 50’s style. Ronnie originally recorded this song in 1961, but I prefer this version with Duane’s amazing slide and King Biscuit Boy’s harp.

Little Bird (Jerry Jeff Walker) – I much prefer this version over the original. Better vocals and no guitar twang to be found.

One Too Many Mornings (Bob Dylan) – Great harp work here. Maybe even better than the original and a vocal style that many would find more appealing. The original is great, but so is this one.

Forty Days (Chuck Berry) – Ronnie had been playing this song since the early days of The Hawks. This version has a jumpier version than his earlier versions, and it suits a Chuck Berry cover better.

Down In The Alley (Jesse Stone and The Clovers) – The album cover wrongly credits Solomon Burke (he wrote Down In The Valley). This song was made famous by Elvis on his soundtrack album Spinout, and was featured in the movie of the same name. Very fitting since Ronnie has his Elvis mojo working.

Who Do You Love (Ellis McDaniel) – This song is most famous for either the original Bo Diddley (real name Ellis McDaniel) or George Thorogood version. Those versions are amazing, but this one is really cool as well. Especially the subtle slide guitar work.

Home From The Forest (Gordon Lightfoot) – Another Lightfoot penned song is ok in more books. The harp work is the star for me on this one.

This one is a great album. For fans of old school country, Gordon Lightfoot, Dylan, 50’s rock, 60’s folk, Muscle Shoals, King Biscuit Boy and Duane Allman. It may be an especially lucrative find for fans of Elvis though. Some may feel many of these songs are like unreleased Elvis recordings.

For me there are 2 knocks against this album. First, it is an album with all covers. Second, I feel that Duane Allman was not used correctly here. He should have been able to wail away, even on one song. You can tell he’s there, but it’s like a caged animal or a Ferrari driven in a shopping mall parking lot. Even one original song with King Biscuit Boy harping away and Duane wailing would have made this album much stronger.

8.5/10

 

 

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Beer Review : A Tout Le Monde – Megadeth Beer (Unibroue Brewery, Quebec)

The province of Quebec has always loved their metal. That may be why Megadeth has always had a strong connection there. The video for A Tout Le Monde (from the 1994 album Youthanasia) was immediately banned by MTV as it was thought to be pro suicide. Dave Mustaine has always stated that it is about love of friends and family. If he only had moments to live he would shout out A Tout Le Monde ( translation-To All The World or To Everyone). This would be his way of saying “To all my friends, I have to leave.”

The song is also unfortunately associated with Kimveer Gill. The gunman who killed 1, and wounded 19 others at Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec in 2006. He had left a message online that he enjoyed the song the day of the shooting. Megadeth were blamed by some for the shooting, which is absolutely ridiculous.

Jerry Vietz is the owner of Unibroue brewery in Quebec and he is a metal fan. Dave Mustaine and Jerry met and they struck up a deal to produce a Megadeth beer. It is a bit surprising, but also cool that they named the beer A Tout Le Monde. My thoughts are that Dave didn’t want to bow to the pressure. Love him or hate him, he has always done things his way, so I say good on you Dave.

The packaging for this beer is really cool. Vic Rattlehead is standing below a fleur-de-lis. Nothing says Megadeth and Quebec to me like those 2 symbols. The bottle itself is a typical brown longneck with a twist off cap. There is another picture of Vic on the label. The aluminum foil wrap on the neck is a nice feature. This reminds me of a higher end European beer, and it sets the bottle off. The back label lists something I have never noticed on a beer before. It lists SRM : 5.5, and IBU : 22. SRM is Stadard Reference Method or basically the colour, and IBU is International Bitterness Scale. I like beer, but I’m not a beer snob, so these units mean nothing to me, but cool to have them listed.

As for the beer itself, I had a sip out of the bottle first. Then I poured the rest of the beer into a glass. I can tell you the glass is the way to go. This isn’t a Bud. This is a beer to be savoured. Pour it in a glass. Smell the aroma. Then take a sip.

It has a hint of citrus both in the smell and the taste. I rarely put citrus in my beer unless it’s a cerveza, but the citrus taste is refreshing here. This would be an amazing summer beer when it’s hot and sticky outside. Even though it’s -6 c outside I still really enjoyed it. This a refreshing beer with a hint of citrus smell and taste. I enjoyed it, plus Megadeth.

9/10

 

Album Review : Saxon – Thunderbolt (2018 LP)

Saxon is a band that slipped through the cracks for me, and I don’t feel I’m alone there. They are in that NWOBHM genre that I love, but I never seemed to get that urge to buy their new albums the way I did for the likes of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest or Def Leppard. They are the also-rans, the bridesmaid’s that never quite got their much deserving due. That lack of urge ended today for me. I bought the new album the day it came out. I went to my local record store today with full intention on buying another new album. That other album was not in so I asked about this one. They looked but it was not in. That’s not surprising nowadays. In 2018 vinyl is a crapshoot. Release dates do not seem to matter. Vinyl often mysteriously shows up days, weeks, even months after the release date. Just as I was leaving empty handed they yelled out that this album was in fact in stock. It was set to be set out on the shelf. The only copy the store got. Zoinks. here, take my money please.

When I get the disc home I gaze upon the cool artwork. Paul Raymond Gregory was once again hired, and he’s amazing. Steph Byford did additional artwork. It’s really glossy and the artwork is spectacular. The back of the cover is a photo of the band. The inner sleeve has the song lyrics on one side and the other side has the credits and another photo of the band. I carefully kept the shrink on the gatefold jacket so I do not open it, however, all there is inside is another picture of the band. Apparently 3rd times the charm for these lads. The vinyl is a beautiful slab of cherry red goodness and the label has the album cover front artwork. I was hoping for a band photo, but I digress.

Olympus Rising – This instrumental is a dream for an Ontario boy. I get elements of Triumph and Rush in this little ditty then it morphs into almost Sabbathy spookiness.

Thunderbolt – There is no gap between the last song and this one. You’ll know when it kicks in though as the volume and heaviness pick up nicely. This one reminds me of a Judas Priest song, in other words it kicks ass.

The Secret Of Flight – I love the higher pitched guitar, the military drumming and the chants that begin this song off. I get a bit of a Maiden out of this one, what with the lyrics of Icarus flying too close to the sun. Not just that but the vocals have a bit of a Bruce Dickinson tone. Muffled whispers mixed with wailing guitars fill the middle of this one and back and forth guitars and vocals end it off on a great note.

Nosferatu (The Vampires Waltz) – If this type of music had been in Twilight I might have even watched those movies. Or at least bought the soundtrack.

They Played Rock And Roll – Yes they did, and they did it wonderfully.

Predator – This one will shock and amaze you. It has something for old and new metal fans. It has something for fans of NWOBHM and black metal. The growls are a really cool touch that threw me for a loop. A really cool song.

Sons Of Odin – This song has a sort of a NWOBHM meets Deep Purple and maybe a pinch of southern rock vibe all mixed in an epic Norse tale.

Sniper – Note to any potential snipers out there. Do not play Saxon when you are lining up your target. There will be way too much head banging. I really enjoyed the difference in tone between the all out assault and the chugging on this one.

A Wizard’s Tale – With Ronnie James Dio like lyrics I have to like it. They could have burped and farted their way through this one and it would have enjoyed it.

Speed Merchants – Another Deep Purple meets NWOBHM song. The speed may be referring to the drums or the guitar. Not the fastest I’ve heard, but crisp and sounding just right.

Roadies’ Song – There was a time long ago when I contemplated becoming a roadie. I thought my life was shit and my parents were always nagging me. I spoke to a roadie and thankfully he set me straight. He told me the hardships and about being stranded in a strange city without 1 dollar to your name. Any band that pays tribute to the guys that work hard to make live music happen is ok in my book. “7 nights 7 days hauling gear this is our way. Another town it never stops. Keep moving on till you’re fit to drop. We fall asleep to the sound of the road. On through the night we move the load…”

“This album is dedicated to the memory of Lemmy Kilmister”. These are the last words printed on the inner album sleeve. That alone for me makes this an album worth purchasing. The fact that the band also sings a tribute song to Motorhead (as well a Motorhead homage song entitled Roadies’ Song), and uses a soundbite of Lemmy saying “We are Motorhead, and we play rock n roll” is just icing on the cake.

This album rocks. The dual guitar threat is right there. The bass booms and the drums pound. The production work by Andy Sneap is ace. Perhaps best of all, Biff Byford’s voice is in peak form. He sounds like he found the fountain of youth.

Buy this album people. You work hard. You deserve it.

9.5/10