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

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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

 

 

 

 

Album Review: Rush ReDISCovered 40th Anniversary Reissue Vinyl Boxset(1974,2014)

I read the Rush Newsletter tonight telling me that March 1 is the anniversary of the first Rush album released back in 1974, so I figured today was the day to write about it. Finding an original Moon pressing is getting harder every day, and the prices are really steep, so the 200g pressing included in this set is a close second. Here is the Amazon description of what is all included “Housed in a sturdy, custom box with a lift-off top, this landmark album is pressed on 200g, audiophile grade vinyl, from the original 1974 analog stereo masters, cut to copper plates using the Direct Metal Mastering (DMM) process at the legendary Abbey Road Studios. Rush also features the original Moon Records jacket art, complete with the original MN-100-A/B Matrix etching, and will include a 16’x22′ reproduction of the first Rush promo poster, three 5’x7′ lithographs of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and John Rutsey, a 12’x12′ Rush Family Tree poster, and a digital download card for a free digital copy of this newly remastered release.” Pretty cool. One thing I found out about was the Rush Family Tree. The beginnings of what were to become Rush started in 1965 as The Guilde and the only member we know associated with Rush was John Rutsey. Alex Zivojinovic (Alex Lifeson) came on board in 1967 when the band was called The Lost Cause, Gary Lee Weinrib (Geddy Lee) joined in 1968 when they first called the band Rush, and Neil Peart replaced John Rutsey in 1974. The band went through 10 names and 20 members until they finally settled on the band we now know as Rush.

Ok. Enough of the history lesson. I’m all about the music so first I will say this pressing is simply wonderful. It sounds amazing. If you don’t own any of these Rush 200g re-issues you need to rectify that. I’m not sure if they are all done with the DMM process, but my assumption would be that they are. Either way, I know Rush seem like perfectionists, so I don’t think that they would stand for bad pressings.

Finding My Way – The first song on the first Rush album shows that even early on Rush were a force to be reckoned with. The lyrics are more straight ahead rock since they didn’t have the mystical lyrical touch of Neil Peart, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t good. The drums actually have a solid pounding sound. John Rutsey wasn’t a slouch. Geddy of course had the amazing bass tone early on and Alex really wails.

Need Some Love – This song is a fast one that sounds a bit like something Bad Company would sing with a screaming vocalist and some fast pounding drums.

Take a Friend – The guitar work is the ace for me here.

Here Again – This song reminds me of something Led Zeppelin would have done if a jealous husband had tightened Robert Plants nuts in a vice.

What You’re Doing – More straight ahead 70’s rock starts this side of the album off. John Rutsey gets bonus points here for going all out on the drums.

In The Mood – The only song on the album composed exclusively by Geddy Lee. The vocals are amazing, the instrumentation is wonderful and even Chistopher Walken would not have to ask for more cowbell. (Of note on this particular pressing is the sound of the bass. I never noticed how great it sounded in the million times I heard it before)

Before And After – This song is wicked awesome. The beginning reminds me of an early Rod Stewart song then morphs into a heavier beast featuring some wonderful wah work by Alex, amazing drumming and that bass Geddy is famous for.

Working Man – Can any of us working stiffs not relate to the lyrics in this song? Such a wonderful song to end the album off on. (This pressing has another example of a subtle difference. All of the other versions of this song that I have, which are all on cd, have ever so slightly different sounding vocals. Geddy’s voice sounds slightly deeper, and less emphasized here. The drums sound a bit different as well. Not as touched up as the later versions I have heard.)

If your Rush experience has been limited to some compilations and a few of the later albums I would strongly recommend to get this album on vinyl. The 200g pressings are amazing, and the detail and sound is just wonderful. If you find Rush too proggy or always talking about outer space and trees talking, get this album. It’s more straight ahead 70’s goodness. Wonderful front to back. It’s been quite a while since I’ve heard this album, and I really dug it.

The album itself gets a 10/10 from me. Not a bad song on the album. One thing that bugs me about the entire boxset is the download code. The code is case sensitive and expired in 2015. Even if I had bought it back then, it is also only valid in the United States. Ok bands. stop making digital codes that expire, and stop making them available only in certain countries. This makes no sense. Because of this minor glitch I score this set as

9.9/10