Album Review: Mouse Rat – The Awesome Album (2021 Cassette)

This week is Cassette Week. Why not Cassette Store Day? Cassette Store Day was the worldwide response to Record Store Day but it has unfortunately ended, for an even more unfortunate reason explained below (copied from HIfi Choice).

‘Cassette Store Day, the annual co-ordinated release of music on collectable tapes that was inspired by the success of Record Store Day, has cancelled its 2020 event in the light of sexual misconduct claims made against one of its principal participants, Burger Records.

The event was planned for 17 October worldwide and would have been a boon to the resurgent industry re-emerging after difficult times under lockdown. It was immediately cancelled when news broke that Burger, based in Fullerton, California and the fount of many of the events’ tape releases, was accused of “normalising a culture of sexual assault” at its shows and within its catalogue of artists.

Despite an attempt to rebrand and launch a separate imprint for female artists in response to the claims, Burger has been forced to shut down entirely, prompting organisers to announce the cancellation.

In a statement on its Twitter and Facebook pages, CSD, which was launched in 2013, said of Burger: “We find this behaviour to be not only abhorrent, but completely unacceptable. We stand in solidarity with those who have come forward and those who have yet to.” ‘

It seems unfair to harm everyone because of the bad actions of a few, but I guess if that is what it takes to end this type of awful behaviour then maybe that is a small price to pay.

I wanted to review some cassettes to celebrate this week properly. Maybe some old, some new, some borrowed and some blue.

For the new I will review Mouse Rat – The Awesome Album. I will forgive you if you don’t know who Mouse Rat is. You may not have ever watched the network television show Parks & Recreation. Long before Chris Pratt was a big time movie star he played homeless, lovable goofball Andy Dwyer. Previously you would have had to buy a copy of a Mouse Rat (previously known as A.D. and the D Bags, The Andy Andy Andies, Department of Homeland Obscurity, Everything Rhymes With Orange, Fiveskin, Fleetwood Mac Sexpants, Fourskin, God Hates Figs, Just The Tip, Malice In Chains, Ninjadick, Threeskin, Two Doors Down, Penis Pendulum among others) album from Andy’s shoe shine stand at the Pawnee City Hall. Now I just had to make a couple mouse (rat?) clicks on Amazon Canada and it magically arrived a few days later.

5,000 candles in the wind – An ode to the mini horse Little Sebastian that died on the Harvest Festival episode. Bye Bye Little Sebastian. Miss you in the saddest fashion.

the pit – A mix between Boston -Amanda, Alice In Chains and Hootie and the Blowfish about the pit a homeless Andy lived in so he could be close to his ex-girlfriend Ann (Rashida Jones).

sex hair – More Hootie sounding 90’s goodness. Such a beautiful mess.

catch your dream (feat. Duke Silver) – Duke Silver is the stage name of Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman). Not is he really good at woodworking, he is pretty damn good on the sax.

two birds holding hands – I know. Birds don’t have hands. The ridiculous lyrics are actually part of the appeal of this song. I’m getting a bit of a Tenacious D vibe here, and that is always a good thing.

ann song – “La di da di da…ann……she’s not in my pocket, she’s not on the driveway, she’s not even in my hand.. Thank You”

the way you you look tonight – This would fit perfectly into one of those cheeseball Christmas specials on US network television by some past prime singer. The whistling is pretty cool but the guitar work is the ace for me.

menace ball – More Hootie. I actually would think this an old Hootie song from back in the day if I didn’t know better.

Time to Flip the tape over.

remember – Some more mix of 90’s grunge and alternative. “..You and me together forever..”

i get a kick of you (bonus) – The only song that never made it onto the show. It was recorded back in the day, but never made the cut. It was probably too short.

let’s call the whole thing off – Another short little fun ditty.

lovely tonight – Andy doing a little Elvis-like crooning makes for a nice change of pace, and the guitar work is subtle but really good.

i’ve got you under my skin – Andy needs to get some more celebrities and start the mouse rat pack.

i only have eyes for you – The jangly guitar is ace here but Chris Pratt’s vocals are pretty good too.

pickled ginger (by Land Ho!) – Andy got the band Land Ho! to get back together and Scott Tanner (Jeff Tweedy from Wilco, Uncle Tupelo) gives this song merit and it has a sort of Eagles Of Death Metal/Queens Of The Stone Age feel to it. It really sounds like the Wilco song of the same name (wink wink).

cold water by Scott Tanner (feat. Duke Silver) – Andy’s buddy Scott Tanner (Jeff Tweedy) from the band Land Ho! is great on this one, as is the guitar work, but the star is Duke Silver ((Ron Swanson) (Nick Offerman)) on the sax.

A really fun album. It made me smile. I really wasn’t feeling that great today and this album picked me up. If you like 90’s grunge, alternative, Hootie & The Blowfish, Jack Black, Queens Of The Stone Age, Eagles Of Death Metal and funny people that don’t take themselves too seriously, then check this out.



Album Review: Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters-by Robert Calvert (1974 UK LP)

Today history was made. Canadian William Shatner became the oldest man to ever be launched into space at the age of 90. To honour this accomplishment I wanted to review a space rock album. I purchased this album yesterday so I figured it was as good a choice as any. Robert Calvert’s name may not ring very many bells with you, but the list of musicians on this album is a who’s who of early to mid 1970’s space rock and out-there, experimental music, Canadian Paul Rudolph, Lemmy, Simon King, Brian Eno (credited as Brian Peter George St John Le Baptiste De La Selle), Del Dettmar (who emigrated to Canada right after this album), Nik Turner, Dave Brock, Twink, Arthur Brown, Adrian Wagner (great-great grandson of classical composer Richard Wagner) among others.

Robert Calvert was in Hawkwind for 3 years before leaving in 1973. After this he became obsessed with making a concept album about how the German Airforce purchased 916 F-104’s Starfighters from Lockheed. The jet had limitations such as short range and poor turning ability. It was basically a clear day, higher altitude rocket with wings. The German Luftwaffe had other plans. They wanted to add bombs, make it a lower altitude fighter in any weather. Add to this the lack of skill amongst the pilots and ground crew alike(the German Air Force had been grounded after WW2 for 10 years), it was a recipe for disaster. Of the 916 Starfighters flown by Germany, 292 crashed resulting in the deaths of 115 pilots. It was later revealed that Lockheed had bribed Germany and many other countries into purchasing the fighter jets.

Franz Joseph Strauss, Defence Minister, reviews the Luftwaffe in 1958. Finding it somewhat lacking in image potential – A spoken word section that sounds like WW2 German propaganda movie except done by an Englishmen using a bad German accent. These spoken word sections are laced between all the songs and sometimes come across as a Monty Pythonesque skit.

The Aerospaceage Inferno – No comedy skit here folks. This is an amazing song which could easily fit onto a stoner rock album in 2021. Driving, droning, pounding and repetitive. “..Fly through the ground like a circus hound through the burning hoop with just one bound, not even your ashes will be found, what a good way to go, what a good way to go..” Really great.

Aircraft Salesman (A door in the foot) – Amongst the musicians and singers included on this album there are others that performed the spoken word sections including Vivian Stanshall, Jim Capaldi and others. The tongue in cheek humour of this spoken word is how the Lockheed salesman ropes the German Air Defence Minister in to the sale by saying they will add a G to the end of the jets designation ( F 104 G). G for Germany.

The Widow Maker – This was the unfortunate nickname the jet got by the Germans after numerous crashes. There is nothing unfortunate about this track though. It is a mix between early 70’s Black Sabbath drone, mixed with horns and a bit of early Roxy Music that still sound great today.

Two test pilots discuss the Starfighter’s performance – More comedic spoken word skit in which the voice actors give up pretending to be German.

The Right Stuff – This one has a pre-punk era punk sound to it. If Lemmy, Brian Eno, the Sex Pistols and Kyuss would have been thrown into a time machine this song would be the result.

Board Meeting (seen through a contract lense) – More fake German accents discussing how many jets will be bought and why the high costs. “G for Germany”.

The Song of the Gremlin (part one) – This one has a real Brian Eno feel. The screeches and synth work are fitting to the German theme with an early Krautrock feel.

End of side 1

Ground Crew (last minute reassembly before takeoff) – The bumbling aircraft mechanics (with British accents back) discussing a loose bolt. One says it has to give a bit in the wind, like a bridge. The skit ends with the sound of the jet crashing. Remind me if I ever get to fly at Mach 2 that I bring my tools along to check the work of the ground crew.

Hero with a Wing – This one is listed in brackets as a folk rock song on the album liner. I would say this song is more progressive rock meets space rock meets NWOBHM than folk. Sort of if Jethro Tull and Iron Maiden were to collaborate and instead of the flute had some spacey synthesizers thrown in for good measure.

Ground Control To Pilot – Basically as it sounds of chatter between ground control to the pilot but premise is the ground control is checking to see if the pilot has all of his anti psychotic meds on board.

Ejection – More pre-punk punk goodness. I can almost imagine the Sex Pistols listened to this song and used it to help form a base for God Save The Queen.

Interview – A ridiculous discussion between an German officer and new recruit(along with British accents). It almost has a Meatloaf – Bat Out Of Hell feel to it. Again, I believe this is another one that influences a future amazing album.

I Resign – Germans resigning in unison.

The Song Of The Gremlin(part two) – This has a very Pink Floyd – The Wall feel to it. Even including the part two. A third example of what I believe influenced a future amazing album.

Bier Garten – “Do you want to buy a Starfighter?” (German accents are back) “Well then buy an acre of land and wait” Ouch

Catch A Falling Starfighter – A tribal sounding song with a pounding drum, vocal harmonies, background talking and radio transmissions, explosions and haunting wind noises. A really great song to end this album where it began, on a great note.

Robert Calvert wanted to be a fighter pilot but was rejected early on due to an inner ear problem (which I share as well). He also suffered from bipolar disorder and perhaps that was part of the obsession that led to this album. After hearing this one I will be searching out more of his music and I urge you to do the same.

Congratulations on your accomplishment today William Shatner. You boldly went where no 90 year old has ever gone before.


Album Review: Neil Young – Harvest (1972 LP)

Today is Thanksgiving Day up here in the Great White North. We celebrate Thanksgiving on the 2nd Monday in October, roughly 6 weeks earlier than our neighbours to the south due to our colder climate. Thanksgiving has been celebrated in Canada since 1879, and even though it’s a National holiday, many people still have to work it, often receiving larger compensation for doing so. Basically Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for a good harvest. I figured Harvest was as good an album as any to celebrate the day.

Out On The Weekend – Neil Young named his backing band for this album The Stray Gators (Ben Keith – steel guitar, Kenny Buttrey – drums, Tim Drummond – bass, Jack Nitzsche – piano & slide guitar, John Harris – piano on the song Harvest). They do a great job of starting this song off before Neil joins in with harmonica and vocals. The drums and bass especially have a hypnotic, driving beat. Simple but effective. The mouth organ sounds awesome and the steel guitar sounds sort of haunting and spooky. Neil’s vocals are some of his best. A really good lead off song.

Harvest – Today I give thanks to Neil Young and this album. It really is a harvest of bounties for the ears.

A Man Needs A Maid – Some may feel the addition of the London Symphony Orchestra is a weird addition on this album. I personally like it. The change of pace is nice. It’s kind of like hearing Uncle Neil and John Williams performing on the same album. That surely can’t be bad.

Heart Of Gold – Neil Young was performing on The Johnny Cash Show. Also performing that night were James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. Neil asked them to help him on this album and this song is one they sang background vocals on. The Stray Gators lay down the beat, the aforementioned superstar background singers back Neil up, and Neil delivers amazing vocals, guitar and harmonica work. Possibly as close to a perfect song as there ever was.

Are You Ready For The Country – Speaking of Superstar backgound vocalists, this one features David Crosby and Graham Nash. We all know how awesome CSNY is. This one is pretty awesome as well.

Time to flip the big slab of black wax over and see how side 2 sounds.

Old Man – More James Taylor and Linda Ronstadt. More great guitar work. More amazing backing band rhythm. More near perfect song sounds.

There’s A World – The London Symphony Orchestra is back on this one. It (and A Man Needs A Maid) was arranged by Jack Nitzsche. If he was good enough to invent the Wall Of Sound with Phil Spector and be a part of the Wrecking Crew, then he is good enough to arrange a few songs here. It has a very soundtrack-like feel to it. I mean that in a very good way. Although shortly after this album Jack began to suffer from depression and often fought with the rest of the band, he does an awesome job here.

Alabama – I can imagine the record execs not wanting to alienate fans from an entire state by recording this song, I can also imagine Neil not giving a rat’s ass. Sometimes it’s best to admit you did a people wrong, apologize, and promise to do better, and never do it again.

The Needle And The Damage Done – Drugs seem to go hand in hand with rock and roll, but heroin in particular was really taking it’s toll on musicians in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Neil’s bandmate in Crazy Horse, Neil Whitten was part of the inspiration for the song. Unfortunately Whitten did not take heed of the lyrics of this song and died 9 months after the albums release. This song is a live version with Neil playing a concert at Royce Hall-UCLA(Los Angeles) in 1971 with an acoustic guitar.

Words/(Between The Lines Of Age) – The editing between the last song and this is a little awkward. Hard to know where one stops and the other begins. Other than that it’s a pretty damn fine song. This time Steven Stills helps Graham Nash out on background vocals. The Stray Gators and NSY as it were. That sounds like a great combo to me. Neil’s guitar work especially is a great way to close out this album. A really underrated song that never gets radio play. Too bad.

This album has twice been voted to being the 2nd best Canadian album of all time. I would concur that it is probably one of the best.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Even if you don’t celebrate it I want to give you thanks for reading my blog. Cheers.


Album Review: Eddie Van Halen-VHBNVH (2021)

Today marks the 1st year anniversary of the death of Eddie Van Halen. I still can’t believe he’s gone. I stopped blogging for a while during 2020 but Eddie’s death hit me real hard. I almost gave in and wrote a post that day but I didn’t. Today, hopefully I make up for that. I wanted to respect his greatness by reviewing an album. I narrowed it down to the DLR era. However, I hold those albums in such great regards, as do many others, so I felt that I would be preaching to the masses. Saying 1984, 1978’s S/T, WACF, II, and Fair Warning were great albums would be like saying water is wet. My favourite album by the band is Diver Down, and I contemplated that one. Many people would put it way down the list, but it was the first VH album I bought, with my own money that I earned on my paper route. Also, it was my first cassette purchase ever, and you know how I feel about cassettes. Diver Down holds a special place in my heart. I was close to doing a review of that album but wasn’t ready yet. I’m not sure how to describe it. How can I tell others what this album means to me? I think it would take me days, maybe weeks to write about that album and how it makes me feel. Who has that kind of time? Not me. Therefore I chose to review an imaginary solo Eddie Van Halen album called VHBNVH (Van Halen But Not Van Halen). For the sake of honouring Eddie, I will imagine that all of the songs were EVH solo songs, and any additional vocalists/musicians were guests on his solo album.

That’s Why I Love You – Van Halen III never gets the love. Probably wrong place at the wrong time for Gary Cherone. It might have been better for him if Eddie had just asked him to do the vocals for a song on his solo album. He probably would have been seen in a better light over time.

Crossing Over – This Japanese bonus track/single from the Balance era has been heard by few VH fans. This is a shame that will be rectified by this EVH solo album.

Joy To The World – I am not a huge fan of hearing Christmas songs in October, however if the song has a a mix of Steve Lukather and Eddie Van Halen I could make an exception.

Blinded By Pain – Eddie showed off his prowess not only on guitar but bass on this track. Rich Wyman does a pretty good job handling the vocals on this one.

Untitled (Gene Simmons Demo-Vault Collection) – It’s my imaginary album, so I say there is a killer song that Gene didn’t want to release because a) he was jealous b) he couldn’t take all the money from c) all of the above.

Eastern Bloc – When Thomas Dolby wasn’t getting blinded by science, he and his wife were hanging out with Eddie and Valerie Bertinelli, and not even producer Andy Johns crashing his car on Eddie’s property or Alex Van Halen telling Thomas he was not welcome could keep this song from being on the album.

Bluesbreaker – Brian May and Eddie trading off riffs in tribute to Eric Clapton. Sounds like a bluesbreaking trifecta to me.

Eagles Fly – Sammy Hagar singing on the Eddie Van Halen solo album. If only there was a cutesy name that could represent the collaboration. Eddie Hagar? Sammie Van Halen? How about Van Hagar? Yes!!

Twist The Knife – Eddie actually plays the bass and lets Toto guitarist Steve Lukather take the guitar/vocal duties for this song which started out as a demo for the 5150 album called “I Want Some Action”.

Respect The Wind – Hey Bro, do you want to do a song on the Twister soundtrack with me?

We’re The Greatest – “I got Van Halen, I don’t need a bass line.” LL Cool J gets it.

Lost Boys Calling – Roger Waters will only work with Eddie if he does his best David Gilmour impression. That is ok with Eddie and it’s totally fine by me.

Can’t Get Away From You – I listened to this song years ago on Nicolette Larson’s s/t solo album years ago. As I was listening I was looking at the credits to this song. The guitar musician was credited as a question mark. The first second of the solo I knew who it was. Eddie takes credit here on his solo album.

Beat It – Say what you want about Michael Jackson’s personal life. The man could really make a pop song “pop”.

Evil Eye – Eddie was in England and Tony Iommi invited him to his house. They went to the local music shop where Tony asked the chaps if Eddie could borrow a guitar(a signature EVH series). This song is both the result and the album closer.

Rest In Peace Eddie. Say hi to Ronnie James Dio and Gord Downie for me.