Concert Review: The Trans Canada Highwaymen(TCH)

Supergroup. Is this the most overused word in music? 100% of the time the group part is right. Unfortunately the word super is usually not right. Whether it be lack of talent to begin with, overrated members, overinflated egos, or the end result being less than stellar, the supergroup rarely seems to live up to its name. Sometimes, like The Travelling Wilburys, it is just a group of friends hanging around and having fun. I would say TCH is the Canadian version of The Travelling Wilburys in 2017. TCH are just a group of musical friends that got together and decided to go out on the road. All are(were) members of famous Canadian bands, and it seems there are no egos between them all.

The members are Steven Page (formerly of Barenaked Ladies), Chris Murphy (Sloan), Craig Northey (Odds) and Moe Berg (The Pursuit of Happiness). Chris Murphy and Sloan have not stopped since the early 90’s, but Steven Page and Craig Northey have been out of the limelight for a while so it was great to see them back. However, I was there especially to see Moe Berg. His amazing talent has been behind the scenes producing, writing, and doing all the technical musical stuff for years. It has been a long time since he has performed though. He even said so on stage. I can’t say an exact date, but it may have been the TPOH reunion show one-off in 2014. Before that it may have been since the 1990’s. I did a write up of his old band last year if you want to read about them.

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

Now enough of the introductions. On to the music.

Rotating vocal duties and instruments during every song was the theme tonight. As well, there was either funny banter or pre-recorded video snippets played on screen between each song. It made for a real fun evening. The songs were awesome. All 4 guys can still play, and their voices are as great as they were in the 90’s. The only miscue was when Moe seemed to forget the lyrics to his biggest hit, I’m An Adult Now. I was ok with it though. Shit happens when you play live, and he maybe has only played that song a few times in the last 20 years. The guys joked about it afterwards. There was no trying to cover it up or pretend it never happened. This led to a discussion about Moe needing a teleprompter, and some Axl Rose discussion.

Here are some videos from the show. Suffice it to say that it was a great night. I Hope to see them all again whether with this supergroup, solo or with their prospective bands, especially Moe with TPOH.

For those interested, here is the setlist from that night

  1. Someone Who’s Cool(Odds cover)
  2. It’s All Been Done(Barenaked Ladies cover) 
  3. Hard to Laugh(The Pursuit of Happiness cover)
  4. The Other Man(Sloan cover)
  5. It Falls Apart(Odds cover)
  6. Brian Wilson(Barenaked Ladies cover)
  7. Two Girls In One(The Pursuit of Happiness cover) 
  8. Underwhelmed(Sloan cover)
  9. Satisfied(Odds cover)
  10. Jane(Barenaked Ladies cover)
  11. Coax Me(Sloan cover)
  12. She’s So Young
  13. Make You Mad(Odds cover)
  14. The Old Apartment(Barenaked Ladies cover)
  15. The Rest of My Life(Sloan cover)
  16. I’m an Adult Now(The Pursuit of Happiness cover)

    Encore:

  17. Lovin’ You Ain’t Easy(Michel Pagliaro cover)
  18. Ready for You(Sloan cover)
  19. Alcohol(Barenaked Ladies cover)

The topping on the cake for me that night was the fact that the guys all came out into the lobby afterwards to chat and sign stuff. Some people had a ticket stub, others had bought the new Steven Page cd (as did I). We all stood in line. I was near the back and I had a ticket stub, I had the new cd, AND I had a crammed backpack. The guys signed all my stuff. Cd’s, cassettes and vinyl. Go big or go home.

10/10

 

 

 

Gord Downie Un-Hip Top 10

It was 1 year ago today that I, and the rest of Canada found out about Gord Downie’s terminal brain cancer diagnosis. We have all had a year to let it sink in. The band did their last Cross Canada goodbye tour. Gord released a solo record and raised the awareness level of the plight of Native Canadians. Perhaps even though Gord is still near and dear to us, time has caused us to put the awful news we got into the back of our minds. So hopefully this Top 10 may bring Gord back to the forefront where he belongs.

10

9

8

7

6

5

4

3

2

1a

1b

1c

All of Canada loves you Gord. You Are Ahead By A Century.

Album Review: Temple Of The Dog-S/T (1991, 2016 25th Anniversary 2LP 180G)

 

I woke this morning to the texts and emails. Chris Cornell had died the night before. What a huge kick in the choda. The guy may go down as one of the best rock vocalists of all time. Certainly Top 100. Many would say Top 10 material. He was the voice of the 90’s generation as much as Kurt Cobain, Layne Staley or Scott Weiland. Unfortunately, now he joins that illustrious group of amazing singers in death. There were R.I.P posts flooding in to my inbox, so I thought I might review an album to honour him in my own way, so here we go.

Andrew Wood was the lead singer of Malfunkshun and Mother Love Bone. He lived with Chris Cornell early on, and when Andrew died Chris Cornell wrote 2 songs in his honour, Say Hello To Heaven and Reach Down. Those songs were presented to Ament and Gossard to make into singles. Matt Cameron, Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder were asked to join, and the work together became this album, and what a fitting tribute it is ( I can only hope some musicians can do the same for Chris as well). If anything good came out of the death of Andrew, it is this album. This album was recorded in only 15 days, and was produced by the band themselves. I find that nothing short of amazing.

Say Hello To Heaven – What a wonderful song to begin an album. Chris’s voice is in peak form here. He is both quiet and biting at the same time. Easily top 10 Chris vocal performance. The pain and anguish is evident in his voice, and the guitar work is just sublime. Soak it up with a sponge. Please Mother Mercy indeed.

Reach Down – The first impression I get from this song is the guitar work. I am quite sure that the Temple boys were listening to AC/DC’s Let’s Get It Up before recording. MY MY MY. That is totally fine in my book. That is one of my favourite Acca Dacca tracks so I say go for it. The guitar work goes from 3 chord Angus into crunchy and cool wah pedal awesomeness. Arguably the best work Stone Gossard and Mike McCready have ever done. Chris has some angry frustration to get out, the drums pound away and the bass thumps. The a capella vocal harmonizing near the end is really cool. Oh, and did I mention how amazing the guitar work is. A really awesome song.

Hunger Strike – There’s not much more I can say about this song that hasn’t been said. In my opinion it is Eddie Vedder’s best song by a long shot. Sorry Pearl Jam fans, but I have never really been a big fan of his. However, his inclusion on a song with Chris Cornell rockets his status way up there for me. I can understand every word he sings too. The song moves along nicely with Eddie in charge, and then the song seems to liven up with Chris’s trademark screams. The tone of the song hardens as well. This single was one of the songs that introduced me to the whole Seattle thing. It didn’t get a ton of attention in early 1991, but was re-released in 1992(as was this album) after Soundgarden, Pearl Jam and the whole Seattle scene became huge.

Pushin Forward Back – The guitar work again borrows a bit from another great band. It has a definite The Cult edge to it. It has that mix of post-punk, harder rock and even goth that early The Cult seemed to thrive on. This song could easily have been on my favourite The Cult album, Electric with Chris Cornell as guest vocalist. In other words, it’s pretty awesome.

Call Me a Dog – Softer guitar and vocals begin this song off. Chris’s voice is tender and exposed for all the world to see. As the song progresses the guitar shrieks and Chris starts to scream. Call me a sleeping dog with a bite.

Times of Trouble – This song almost has a slight country rocking blues flair.  The softer flavour really accentuate Chris’s voice here. Other than the vocals, this song kind of reminds me of a Izzy Stradlin solo song, and a big plus for me is the awesome harmonica work of Chris Cornell. Up until I read the credits here today, I did not know Cornell even played harmonica. Wow. Now I’m even more impressed.

Wooden Jesus – The percussion and the amazing guitar work are the stars for me. If they are the stars, then Chris’s screams are the sun and moon. Lighting the sky for us to see. Also, the inclusion of Canada in the lyrics is the icing on the cake.

Your Saviour – Joe Bonamassa must have loved this song almost as much as me. I can only assume he borrowed the main riffs of the song on his song Bridge To Better Days. I love both songs so I am ok with it though. The guitar and drum work are ace, and the echoey vocals near the end are really cool.

Four Walled World – The guitar wails and the bass jumps from the speakers and hits you down low in your gut. The slide guitar work and wah here is real cool. A really great guitar performance.

All Night Thing – An army corps drum beat, a mellow bass, and some amazing organ work accentuate Chris’s voice. A fitting album closer. Slow and steady wins the race.

A special note for the production work (only his 2nd time producing), the piano and organ work of Rick Parashar (RIP). He went on to produce many great albums, but this may arguably be his best.

I now own this album on cassette, cd, and vinyl. There is also a deluxe 25th anniversary 2cd version with bonus tracks or even a super deluxe with live footage on dvd and blu ray I may also consider. It takes a special album to make me want to buy it 3, 4 and maybe even 5 times. This is a special album though. My vinyl version is mastered wonderfully, and it sounds amazing. The packaging and photos are beautiful and the 4th side etching may be the coolest one I have ever seen. The band members stand in front of a peaceful lake with trees, birds and mountains in the background. They stare out as if trying to get a glimpse of their long lost friend. Today, we can picture one of those bandmates missing, off to join Andrew. This weekend I’ll go to the lake and see if I can catch a glimpse of them. So long Chris. Thanks for the music and your ability to make me smile.

10/10

 

 

 

 

Top 10 J. Geils (RIP) songs

I woke this morning to the sad news that J. Geils had passed away in his home of natural causes. The guitarist in the band with his namesake was always amazing but underrated. His early work was very bluesy, his 80’s work was more radio friendly with a bit of new wave thrown in, and he even dabbled in jazz. I really need to review some of the many J. Geils Band albums I own, but for today I will do a J. Geils Top 10.

10 Centrefold – This was the song that introduced me to the band. It was the first single off of their massive album Freeze Frame. It is a little too early 80’s sounding for me, but it is catchy as hell.

9 Freeze Frame – Keyboards, drums and horns dominate this one. J does get a chance to add a few catchy riffs though. I had to include it since this song is also catchy as hell.

8 Wasted Youth – Front man Peter Wolf left the band in 1983. The band was unfortunately moving away from their roots and going New Wave. They released one final album, You’re Gettin’ Even While I’m Gettin’ Old. The standout for me was Wasted Youth because it centres around J’s guitar work. Never mind the electronic drum beats and the very 80’s sounding keys. Just focus on J and all will be ok.

7 Come Back – Never mind the disco theme and the dated keys just focus on J’s guitar. It has a harder edge than the rest of the song, and I like it.

6 One Last Kiss – J gives us some tasty licks to compete with the disco keys. Give me tasty guitar licks every time.

5 Must Of Got Lost – J has some stiff competition here with the funky bass, great keys, and amazing vocal work. However, through all that he gets to shine.

4 Love Stinks – Many of you will remember Adam Sandler singing this in The Wedding Singer. I however remember the simple but effective guitar work by J, especially about 3 minutes in.

3 First I Look In The Purse (Live) – The live setting was where J could really shine.

2 (Ain’t Nothing But A) House Party – Any song that starts off with a wicked guitar that continues on through the entire song is awesome in my books.  Fans of Nazareth and Steppenwolf will love this song.

1 Give It To Me – J leads a guitar clinic in the extended, non-single version of this song. It’s pure 70’s guitar nirvana.

RIP J. We’ll miss you brother.

There are tons of other J Geils tracks I could have used. Let me know in the comments if I missed any you like.

P.S. 2017. You are starting to get on my nerves.

Top 10 All Female Rock bands

With today being International Women’s Day I felt this would be a great day to honour hard rocking ladies. I know there are a ton more, and since I chose to go in a harder rock vein, there will probably be some here that you had not heard of, or forgot about. Either way, here they are:

10) KiTTie – This London, Ontario band was formed in 1996. They sprang to the scene in 2000 with their debut album, Spit and even though fully in the Nu Metal scene, they did not sound like any of the Limp Kornskit wannabe bands out there at the time. They had a myriad of bassists over the years, and have not released any new material since 2011, but have never broken up. The video below features the recently deceased former bassist, Trish Doan (RIP)

9) Babes In Toyland – This Minnesota band had their peak in the early 90`s. They were sort of at odds because the front woman, Kat Bjelland looked so cute in her baby doll dress, but she could scream her punk fueled lyrics like a banshee. From the mid 90`s to early 2000`s they were constantly breaking up and reforming but in 2001 they called it quits. They have since reformed again in 2014. They only ever released 3 studio albums, but influenced a great deal of musicians of both genders.

8) The Donnas – This California band formed in 1993, and achieved mainstream success in the early 2000`s by mixing punk, metal and hard rock. All of the band members took on the first name of Donna, hence the band name. There are constant rumours of a new album, but their last album was in 2007, and their last performance was in 2012.

7) L7 – Another band from California that formed in 1985. They took their name form a 1950’s slang meaning square (uncool). They were a popular 90’s band featured in many festivals of the day including Lollapalooza. They went on indefinite hiatus in 2001 and reformed again in 2014.

6) Phantom Blue – Another California band, Phantom Blue formed while members were students of Paul Gilbert and Bruce Bouillet at the Guitar Institute of Technology. The band were the first and only all female band to be signed by Mike Varney’s Shrapnel Records, and their debut LP was produced by Marty Friedman (who also was a guest shredder on their second album). with all of these positive metal influences, the band was sure to succeed, and they did well until their breakup in 2001. The video below shows the axe work of Michelle Meldrum(RIP), the widow of Europe guitarist John Norum.

5) The Slits – The early version of this band was a straight up, all female punk band from London England in the mid to late 70’s playing alongside The Clash, Subway Sect, The Innocents and more. Some fighting with manager Malcolm McLaren led to the departure of drummer Palmolive, and she was replaced by male drummer Budgie (later of Siouxsie and the Banshees). The band changed styles a bit and got a little more commercial, but eventually broke up in 1982. They reformed in 2005 until the death of founder and lead singer Ari Up(RIP).

4) Fanny – One of the first noticeable, all female bands, the third to be signed to a major label, and the first to record an album was the California band, Fanny. David Bowie was quoted as saying about the band “One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace. And that is Fanny. They were one of the finest… rock bands of their time, in about 1973. They were extraordinary… they’re as important as anybody else who’s ever been, ever; it just wasn’t their time. Revivify Fanny. And I will feel that my work is done.”

3) Vixen – Another Minnesota band, Vixen was formed in 1973, and moved to los Angeles in 1985, and signed to EMI in 1988. They were part of the glam metal scene of the 80’s but broke up in 1991. They have since re-formed, and their last studio album was in 2006. The band was in the movie The Decline Of Western Civilization II-The Metal Years along with many of their L.A. musical peers. The original lead guitarist of the band, Jan Kuehnemund (RIP) died of cancer in 2013.

2) Girlschool – The world’s longest running all girl band is this NWOBHM band from London England. They formed in 1978, are still going today, and have released 13 studio albums, 6 EP’s and many compilations and live albums. The Canadian connection to the band is due to album sales. Canada is the only country in which their album sales went gold. This was for their second album, Hit And Run(which in North America, was actually a compilation album that included songs from the first two Girlschool albums).

1) The Runaways – This short lived, Los Angeles band was only together from 1975-1979, but they released 4 albums during that time. Two of the members, Joan Jett and Lita Ford went on to even bigger fame after the bands demise. Although The Runaways were not as well received at first in their home country, they did well in Canada, Britain, and especially Japan. Their live album, Live In Japan, became one of the biggest selling import albums in US and UK history. The drummer Sandy West(RIP), a heavy smoker, succumbed to lung cancer in 2006.

Are there any I’ve missed? Feel free to comment.

Happy International Women’s Day, and unlike a certain President, I actually do have a great deal of respect for women.

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review – Death From Above 1979 – You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine (2004)

DFA 1979 are a very unique band. They are a duo with no guitars. Just a bass, some drums, and sometimes some keyboards. The magic noises that Jesse F. Keelor can get from his bass are incredibly new and unique. The first time I heard this band I had no idea it was a bass making all those weird squeals and squawks.

The album was produced by Al-P(who is in Jesse F. Keelor’s other band MSTRKRFT), and mastered by Joao Carvalho.

Turn It Out – This song should be called Turn It Down because about 10 seconds in those high pitched bass squealies I mentioned earlier will be enough to blow your speakers or your eardrums.

Romantic Rights – This song has an infectious beat and a mix of ‘normal’ bass sounds and what sounds like an evil, futuristic robot noise.

Going Steady – Sounds like an old school punk song at the beginning. Then Sebastian Grainger pounds the drums into submission. The vocals sound like Sebastian is speaking through a voice changer, but that is because Jesse is plucking his heavily modified, supercharged bass strings at the same time Sebastian is singing.

Go Home, Get Down – This song has some noisecore in it. The bass sounds a bit like motorcycles racing past and Sebastian’s vocal chords probably hurt a bit after singing that one.

Blood On Our Hands – I figured at some point since this was a 2 piece, there would have to be a comparison to The White Stripes. This song has elements of The Hardest Button To Button. Since Meg has left the music business, and Jack wants to soldier on, I can’t help but wonder how great a band if Jack White and DFA 1979 joined forces. I can only imagine.

Black History Month – The bass groove is very infectious here. The lyrics are thoughtful and Grainger’s beat is almost danceable.

Little Girl – I can well imagine this song would go over well at a rave. A fast paced groove that never lets up the pace through the entire song.

Cold War – I could almost hear this one redone by a punk band. A fast pace and some attitude. That’s all a punk rocker needs.

You’re A Woman, I’m A Machine – The guitar work is wonderfully droning and the drums soldier on.

Pull Out – I am pretty sure this song is about person who has a car stuck in the ditch and after you hook the chains onto the car, that person keeps yelling “Pull Out. Pull Out. Pull Out.”

Sexy Results – If it had been written in 1977, this song may well have unseated Stayin’ Alive for the best of the disco era, plus there are cowbells, so it has one up on the BeeGees.

One very annoying thing are the lyrics for all of the songs are pasted together in small print on the inside of the bi fold, in no particular order.

A very solid first album from this unique band. Looking back to the Nu Metal and Nickelback clones that were big in 2004, this was a new and refreshing change.

9/10

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review – Anvil – Anvil Is Anvil (2016)

Anvil has always one been one of those “cold have, should have” bands. They should have been more famous. They should have gotten more respect. In fact, with their lack of success they should have quit long ago. However, they trudge on. I personally think they keep trudging on because they really love what they do for a living. How many of us can say that? Who cares how many albums they have sold, and whether they can sellout arenas any longer.

Daggers And Rum – I was assuming this was going to be a hokey pirate song. Well, it kind of is but it actually kicks some ass.

Up Down Sideways- Lips does his best Lemmy impression here. Robb Reiner does an amazing job as usually. The drums are loud and proud, and the bass is booming at times, and playful  at others.

Gun Control – A Canadian metal band starting off with the lyrics “Protect the Constitution….”. I guess this is a shot at our neighbours to the south. The guitar and cowbell are stars here for me.

Die For a Lie – More awesome drums mixed with rhythmic guitars. Also more cowbell, so I’m roped in.

Runaway Train – The train noise at the start reminds me of a Monster Truck song, then Robb pounds on the skins. If you have not heard his drumming before, you really must. He may be the most overlooked and underrated drummer in metal, if not in rock period.

Zombie Apocalypse – Another title that makes me think hokey. The background chants are pretty cool, and of course Rob pounds us into submission. Not near as hokey as I has assumed.

It’s Your Move – This is a song in tribute to Lemmy. Unfortunately it’s a very simple song that is a bit of filler.

Ambushed – This has a Megadeth feel to it. Especially the guitar work, and the fast pace. If you like the Peace Sells and Countdown era of Megadeth(who doesn`t),you will like this song.

Fire On The Highway – A faster paced, almost thrash song. Lips almost does a cross between James Hetfield and Lemmy here.

Run Like Hell – Great guitar work mix with amazing drumming kick this one off. It`s too bad the vocals are a little weak, and the song itself is just a slight level below the rest.

Forgive Don`t Forget – A heavy metal chant song. Almost reminds me of Balls To The Wall by Accept. This is actually fitting since Accept is German. The song is in reference to the treatment of Jews during Nazi Germany.

Never Going To Stop (Bonus Track) – Robb starts pounding the drums at a frenetic pace and he keeps it up for most of this song. Lips sings this song in sort of an angry tone. It suits the song well. He has the snarl of a punk singer, and he wants to get it through your thick head that they are never gonna stop. I for one, believe them, and am pretty happy about that.

You Don`t Know What It`s Like – The guitar is the star here for me. A few slight squealies are fine on an album as long the guitarist doesn`t abuse them. Lips adds just the right amount. Also there is more cowbell. Maybe not quite enough for Christopher Walken, but enough. “To make a living doing what you love is all you should need….”. I couldn`t have said it better myself.

This album was produced by Martin Pfeiffer who may be best known for working with U.D.O. (maybe that is where the Accept crept in). He does a great job here. The album sounds great, and the instrumentation was not crushed or muffled as can sometimes happen.

I read a ton of negativity about this album online before I started this post, so I guess I will be in the minority. But, frankly Scarlet, I don`t give a damn. I like this album, and I don`t really care who knows it. I don`t love it, but I do really like it. There are a few glitches. The bonus tracks could probably be substituted on the regular version with a few others, but overall a really good record.

8/10