Concert Review: Corrosion of Conformity, Eyehategod, Pale Mare, Ol’ Time Moonshine – Opera House, Toronto Tuesday January 9, 2018

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I found out on Monday night that the show I had been wanting to attend for months was postponed. Zakk Wylde fell ill, and the headliner show that Black Label Society was supposed to put on the next night would get postponed to the summer. A lot of scrambling was done, and here is a shoutout to the promoter, Inertia Entertainment for getting this show arranged on super short notice. The original venue (where I proposed to my wife years earlier) was too large, and so the iconic Opera House was booked. The new concert was headlined by COC and could almost be considered a co-headline with Eyehategod. In under 2 days, the new venue was arranged. Tickets were only available at the door, and it looked pretty well sold out to me. The bands acknowledged this fact during their sets, and thanked us numerous times. I was a little bummed in missing Zakk and the boys, but I’ll see them eventually.

I have to first apologize to Ol’ Time Moonshine. I have wanted to see these local Toronto dudes play, but I’m always busy when they are playing, or in this case, late getting to the venue. That happens when you hit Toronto traffic and it takes 1.5-2 hours to get to the east end. Sorry dudes. Next time. I’m sure you slayed it though. I already own their newest cd, and I bought their older one at the show. These guys are cool, and have the Southern rock meets bluesy stoner doom thing down pat. Check out their Bandcamp page below.

https://oltimemoonshine.bandcamp.com/

The lads from Toronto that go by the handle of Pale Mare came on next. These dudes are pretty kick ass. The band broke in a new drummer for the show but you wouldn’t have known it. The 3 piece did a great job of warming up the crowd. I saw a lot of headbanging  and throwing of devil horns. I liked them, and even bought their new cassette(Yes, thankfully they still make those). I thought they have a little Motorhead in them (which is fitting this week), mixed with some heavy doom and a punk attitude. Check out their Bandcamp page below.

https://palemareband.bandcamp.com/merch

Eyehategod came on next. Brian Patton was not there as he was home helping out with his new baby. The band was great even without him though. They slayed their entire set. While warming up, Jimmy Bower came out on stage. the crowd was pumped, but none more than one guy yelling “Jimmy, Jimmy..” Jimmy told him to stop and when the dude wouldn’t he chucked something at him. I can only assume his goose egg will makea good story. Then there’s lead singer Mike IX Williams. He reminds me of Hugh Dillon. If you stand down front at a Headstones concert, Hugh would probably spit on you. If you are up front at a Eyehategod show, Mike will blow snot in your general direction(as was reported at the Detroit show, and I witnessed here). Either way, I stood one row back, left of stage and I came out clean. It’s good to see Mike back after stints in jail and almost dying from liver failure on stage earlier. He may have a new liver but still has the same old snarl. These boys know how to rock. They have the right mix of sludge and hardcore punk, along with just enough N’Orleans southern charm. The crowd was into it. Even the dude that did a face plant off the front barrier and landed a few feet away from me(Note to self: If crowd surfing, make sure there are enough willing people to hold you up). He got right back up, shook off his concussion symptoms, and got right back in the pit. Dude’s hardcore and so is the band.

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The night was closed off by Corrosion of Conformity. They played a few songs off the new album (I saw the band 3 days before the album release, and sadly it was not at the merch table), but mostly the favourites. The crowd was into it too. I moved back a bit and was not up front for this set as I am just getting too old for the slam dancing. Good news is Pepper Keenan is back in the band. You probably knew that if you are a fan, but all I can say is this dude is Awesome with a capital A. The only thing I could have wished for would have been an impromptu Down mini-set. Pepper could have gotten Jimmy up on stage and done a Down song or 2. Oh well.

 

 

A great night. Great sound. The bands involved more than made up for the lack of Black Label Society, and I didn’t get snotted on or crushed by falling dudes, so there’s that.

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9/10

 

 

 

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Chris Tsangrides Top 10

Sadly Chris died yesterday from pneumonia. I just read that he had also been placed in a medically induced coma 3 years ago to combat Legionnaire’s disease. I’m not sure if that contributed to his death. He was a great producer, and behind the scenes guy on a ton of records for over 40 years. RIP Chris.

I know I posted it as a top 10, but I want to add this one in. So top 11.

11 – Tygers Of Pan Tang : Spellbound – Chris produced and engineered this early NWOBHM classic. The band never got the recognition they rightfully deserved. Chris really improved on the production, and cleaned up the sound of the vocals. He did a great job.

10 – Judas Priest : Sad Wings Of Destiny – While many would consider his work on Painkiller to be the pinnacle of his work with JP, Sad Wings Of Destiny was an amazing album, and this is my favourite song by the band.

9 – Black Sabbath : Sabotage – He was “just” a tape operator on this album, but Tony liked him so much, years later he had Chris come back and be the final producer on The Eternal Idol album.

8 Bruce Dickinson : Tatooed Millionaire – This was a great first solo effort by a metal god that wanted to go in a more hard rock direction. Chris delivered.

7 Concrete Blonde : Bloodletting – A shift away from his usual heavier albums. This one had a massive hit with the song Joey.

6 Thin Lizzy : Thunder And Lightning – While many people were first introduced to Thin Lizzy with the song Jailbreak, I first heard them in 1983 when the song Cold Sweat was in heavy rock radio rotation.

5 Y & T : Mean Streak – While not featuring the radio hits that the band released a few years later, this album had great production from you know who.

4 King Diamond : Conspiracy – This album was a continuation of the concept album entitled Them. Chris wanted to keep what was great with the band, but he changed the style as well. He put the guitars in front and turned them up, and lowered King Diamond’s mic volume a bit and removed some of the effects. Chris knew what he was doing.

3 Gary Moore : Back On The Streets – Gary Moore. Phil Lynott. Brian Downey. Chris Tsangrides. ‘Nuff said.

2 The Tragically Hip : Fully Completely – Probably the most popular Hip album, and many would say it was the high point of the band. It is near the top on my Hip album pile, and I love how Chris was both able to let the band be their creative self, but also keep them grounded and do what they do. Amazing album. If you don’t own a copy, run (literally) to the store and buy one. You won’t regret it.

1 Anvil : Metal On Metal – Chris produced and engineered this album. I remember cranking this sucker the first time I heard it on the radio back in the day. It became a rock radio staple for a long time, and the band rode the 80’s wave of metal.

Album Review : A Very Special Christmas 3 (1997 Special Olympics International Ltd.)

The Special Olympics is a mirror image of The Olympics, although the athletes face even greater challenges. They may be physically or mentally impaired in one form or another, but all have that inner drive to be the best at whatever sport they compete in. One of the biggest challenges is finding the funds to make it possible to participate. This  series of cd’s was put together to help fund Special Olympic athletes. In this season of giving it reminds me of a  Special Olympics event I watched in which the winning athlete waited at the line to cross hand in hand with the 2nd place athlete.

I Saw Three Ships (Sting) – A quiet song with powerful vocals. Of note on this one is the appearance of Sting’s daughter Mickey on the flute.

Christmastime (The Smashing Pumpkins) – The powerful vocals of Billy Corgan are at the forefront on this original. The orchestra in the background is really cool too.

Children Go Where I Send Thee (Natalie Merchant) – The sax and organ are the backbone of this song. The amazing back and forth vocals of Natalie Merchant and Schiavone Mcgee mixed with the New Testament Missionary Baptist Choir make this a song not to be missed.

Santa Baby (Run Rev & The Christmas All-Stars featuring Mase, Puff Daddy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt N’ Pepa, Onyx, Keith Murray) – A wonderful version of 90’s rap. Many of the names have changed, but unlike some of the songs of that era, this one still sounds great today.

Oi To The World (No Doubt) – This song originally done by The Vandals is a great mix of bass, drums and guitar. It doesn’t hurt that Gwen Stefani is singing either.

Blue Christmas (Sheryl Crow) – I always think  of Elvis when I imagine this song, but this sexy, sultry, smoky version by Sheryl Crow will make you forget the blues. The guitar and harmonica work are really well done here.

Christmas (Blues Traveler) – You just know the musicianship will be top notch here, led by amazing guitar and harp work. This one does not disappoint. The interlaced lead and background vocals in the back half of the song are really great.

Oiche Chiun, Silent Night (Enya) – Another quiet song featuring the powerful Irish Gaelic vocals of Enya.

The Christmas Song (Hootie & The Blowfish) – This band is no longer since lead singer Darius Rucker has gone off into solo Country music. I was tired of this band back in the 90’s  since they were all over the airwaves. After years of not hearing them, it seems I have missed them a little more than I would have expected.

Ave Maria (Chris Cornell with Eleven) – I wasn’t sure how this song would hit me. This is a song that chokes me up, and since I am still reeling from the shocking loss of Chris Cornell, it’s a double whammy. The background music from Eleven is distracting to me. Also there are unnecessary background vocals from Natasha Schneider. It’s almost like a circus song. I would have preferred if Chris had done this one A Capella. A must have, rare song for any fan of Chris Cornell. This song just reminds me that we will never hear new music from him again, and that makes me sad.

Christmas In The City (Mary J. Blige featuring Angie Martinez) – Another rap song featuring a mix of harder edged vocals with the wonderfully beautiful voice of Mary J.

Santa Claus Is Back In Town (Jonny Lang) – A rockin’ blues song is always a nice addition. With Jonny Lang and company, you know it will be done right. The axe work is not surprising the star on this one.

Christmas Song (Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds) – I will admit I am not a big fan of Dave’s voice. I find a lot of his music to be annoying. This one was recorded live at the Paramount Theatre, Denver Colorado on Feb. 18, 1997. The wonderful acoustic guitar work by Tim Reynolds, and the audience cheering are the stars for me here. Dave’s voice doesn’t really bother me here, so I can appreciate this song.

Christmas Is Now Drawing Near At Hand (Steve Winwood) – Steve seemed to fall off the face of the earth for me after his amazing 80’s albums, Back In The High Life, Chronicles, and Roll With It. Perhaps those albums were so great, it was tough to reach those great lofts in the 90’s. His version of this traditional is amazing. His voice seems deeper here than what I remember. It almost has a Jethro Tull feel, and I like it.

O Holy Night (Tracy Chapman) – Her vocals are chilling and beautiful. This song is every bit as awesome as Fast Car. You will not grow tired of this one.

We Three Kings (Patti Smith) – The “punk rock laureate” ends this one off on a high note. The mix between spoken word and subtle, but powerful vocals make this one to make you sit up and take notice.

9.75/10

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review : The Clash – Combat Rock (1982)

I read today in my newsfeed that Joe Strummer had died on this day 15 years ago in 2002. Since this album is 35 years old it is kind of a double tribute.

In 1982 I remember visiting my older cousins in the city. They were fully entrenched in the New Wave scene at the time. I got to hang out with them and a group of their friends, and I was the outcast. I wore jeans, hi tops, a concert shirt and had long hair, while they looked like they came out of a Flock Of Seagulls video. I was a metalhead, and I didn’t fit into their clique. I don’t remember much about that night but I do remember the music. When the needle dropped on Combat Rock, I sat up and noticed. This wasn’t metal, but there was something cool about it. Looking back, it was an album that wavers, arena rockers, metalheads, punks and rastas could all appreciate.

Know Your Rights – “This is a public service announcement. WITH GUITAR!” I like those kind of public announcements.

Car Jamming – The drumming on this one is wicked, and the reggae beat of the guitar is cool.

Should I Stay or Should I Go? – I do tire of hearing this song every day on the radio, but I do respect it. Overplayed yes, but there is no denying that it has lasted this long on radio for a reason.

Rock Casbah – See comments on song above.

Red Angel Dragnet – It has sort of a Talking Heads thing going on, and I like it. The spoken word also quotes the great movie Taxi Driver, so it also has that going for it.

Straight To Hell – A sort of protest song about mistreatment of the “boat people”. Walk softly and carry a big stick must be Joe’s motto.

Overpowered By Funk – In 1982 Funk=Punk as far as both being out of fashion. That didn’t stop The Clash from funkifying a punk song. It may the first punk song to feature rapping with the addition of guest Futura 2000.

Atom Tan – This song reminds me of a Bowie song mixed with some Joe Perry licks from Chip Away The Stone, and of course that’s a good thing.

Sean Flynn – The subtle, multi-layered sax and pounding drums dominate this song. It’s a tribute to Errol Flynn’s son, Sean, who was a journalist during the Vietnam War. He was taken prisoner in 1970 and never seen again.

Ghetto Defendant – Alan Ginsberg provide guest vocals on this one. He originally had wanted to get The Clash to add music to some of his recordings, but the opposite happened. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall during conversations that may have arose during these sessions. Apparently there were other recordings during these sessions, but they have never seen the light of day.

Inoculated City – There is a part in the middle of the song that features a recording of the toilet bowl cleaner 2000 Flushes. I have no idea why.

Death Is A Star – This song is a sort of protest song to violence in the movies. This song that has a sort of 1920’s jazz feel to it. It is an unfitting ending to an otherwise great album. Not actually a bad song, but it just seems out of place, and sort of a lacklustre ending to the album.

9/10

 

 

Album Review : Big House – Pretty Things (Limited Edition EP Cassette, 1990)

Bad timing. Any band that was releasing their first album in the early 90’s, and still had a 80’s hair metal sound knows these words very well. When 1990 hit it was as if a switch was turned off. Then when Smells Like Teen Spirit hit the airwaves, not only was the switch off, but the transformer blew up.

Canadian band Big House was one of those bands. They had the look, the sound and the attitude. However, the buying public wasn’t buying it, as it were. Too bad. If they had found a time machine to take them back to the Sunset Strip in 1982, they may have been one of the big ones. As it was, they were a footnote at the end of the era.

Refuse 2 Run – The first thing I notice about this one is the bass. The bass is really prominent on this one (it actually is on the entire album), which is unique for a band in this era. I get a bit of Paul Stanley in the vocals, which obviously is a good thing. Sort of a Kiss meets Cinderella, meets Poison.

Dollar in My Pocket (Pretty Things) – Sweet bass and wonderful vocals dominate this one for me. The vocal enunciations almost have a faux British accent at times, which can sometimes be distracting, and can come across as fake and hokey. It seems to fit in well here though. The blend of softer vocals, screams and background vocals are a nice touch., and the guitar work near the end is pretty cool.

All Nite – I like this one. The vocal mix of the whole band when they sing “All Nite” and “All Right” sound really great. It was a great song to blast out the car windows while cruising the main drag.

Can’t Cry Anymore – Wailing guitar starts this one off, and the great guitar continues throughout. Of course there is that thumping bass. I think I hear a bit of Slaughter in there. There is a little bit of wah influenced guitar near the end, which is unique as well for this genre.

A nice 4 song EP. None of the songs are weak, and they don’t sound too generic. They will still hold up in 2017. All 4 songs were included in the band’s 1992 eponymous first album. For a review of that album, and some more in depth info about the band, please visit Mikeladano.com.

8.5/10

 

(Blog Dylan)Album Review : Bob Dylan – The REAL Royal Albert Hall 1966 Concert (2LP, Black Friday RSD 2016)

Version 3

Thanks to Danica from Living a Beautiful Life for including me in this group post, and to Bruce from Vinyl Connection for the artwork.

This is the actual concert from Royal Albert Hall in 1966. For decades, there was a bootleg floating around that was in actuality a recording of the performance at Manchester Free Trade Hall on May 17, 1966. I’m not sure why there was a mix up of the shows. Perhaps the bootlegger mixed the tapes up, or perhaps the Royal Albert Hall was more famous.

This recording was during a transition period for Dylan. He wanted to branch out in his music, and his fans were having none of it. Near riots were caused because Dylan actually wanted to play songs in the way that moved him. Can you imagine? A musical artist not doing exactly what his fans wanted. The shame.

Dylan invited members of The Hawks (later The Band) out on this tour and the majority of his fans were upset. They wanted Dylan to stick to his acoustic folk leanings. They didn’t want amplified Dylan songs. Here are 2 of many quotes from newspapers of the time. ” “Turn the drummer off!”, shouted a voice from the gallery, and about 9,000 of us in the Albert Hall agreed. To those that once admired Bob Dylan, for his apocalyptic imagery, his black humour and the flinty individuality of his music, it is disappointment enough that he now uses an R & B group to give his working a backing it doesn’t need.” The other paper reads ” “This is my last visit here.” said an angry Bob Dylan at  his final British concert at London’s Royal Albert Hall on Friday. Sadly, some of the audience didn’t seem to care. They hooted, barracked, and stalked out in protest when, after the interval, Bob appeared with his electrified backing group, Dylan’s excursion into rock-n-roll angered them. They wanted the pure guitar-accompanied folk singing of the first half.”

This 2 LP set has his acoustic folk songs on the first platter, and the electrified portion with the so-called R & B group, The Band (all but Garth Hudson, who had left the tour earlier due to stress). They weren’t officially known as The Band yet, they were The Hawks, as they were previously the backing band for Ronnie Hawkins.

The first album in this gatefold is a wonderful example of the live music fans would have enjoyed up until this point in his career. The arrangements changed a little, but we hear Dylan in his prime. Just his guitar, harmonica and wonderful voice. Unlike most of my previous reviews, I did not go into detail about these songs. Suffice to say they are all awesome.

The first thing I noticed about the second disc is that the label is blue. The first disc label is red. Right away you know there is going to be a difference between the two. Start the record and the crowd cheers and the music is a little sedate for a short while and then…bam. The volume level goes up 10 fold.

Tell Me, Momma – A song that introduced the world to the electrified Dylan. It was never recorded on an album, and only ever played on this particular tour.

I Don’t Believe You – Dylan introduces this as an “old” song even though it was only released 2 years before. He says “It used to be played like that, but now it’s played like this. The times they are a-changin’ .” This may have both been in reference to the album title and to the newer, rockin’ way this is played here.

Baby, Let me Follow You Down – The traditional song was first done by Dylan on his eponymous album from 1962. Dylan also performed this song at The Band’s farewell concert, The Last Waltz.

Just Like Tom Thumb’s Blues – We hear the audience yelling “What happened to Woodie Guthrie Bob?”, quite possibly to play more folk songs. He answers “These are all protest songs, now come on. It’s not British music, it’s American music, now come on.” I can only assume Bob felt the audience was protesting him playing this style, and he reminded him his songs are all protest songs. The original version from Highway 61 Revisited took 16 takes to get it right. This one was perfect with one take.

Leopard-Skin Pillbox Hat –  The audience yells at Bob. He tells them the “Shh”. They continue to yell, and he says “Come on up here and say that.” This is the first song of the night from the just released Blonde On Blonde.

Of note for me was the fact that at the end of side c, the needle stuck in the runout groove and did not stop play as it should on my turntable. This has only happened on one other record of mine, and I can only assume it is a defect in the pressing. This is a minor inconvenience, but one I would not have expected.

One Too Many Mornings – Not the usual finger-picked version. Also, this one has some cool background vocals from The Hawks.

Ballad of a Thin Man – A few boos from the audience start this song off. The song was written as a protest to the media people of the day. It also has many references which may be about outing a homosexual in the lyrics. This song is described by Al Kooper (who played on the original version) as being “musically more sophisticated than anything else on the Highway 61 Revisited album.” Kooper also recalled that at the end of the song, (original) drummer Bobby Gregg said “This is a nasty song, Bob.” Kooper adds “Dylan was King Of The Nasty Song at that time.” All I know, is this live version is amazing.

Like a Rolling Stone – Dylan starts this one off by saying “We’d like to dedicate this one to the Taj Mahal.” I have no idea what he was on about. The original version was written after Dylan got back from an exhaustive British tour in 1965. He was considering quitting the music industry, and he used his frustrations to write this song. It was heavier than any previous Dylan song, and the record company balked at both the length and the harder edge. It was only after a promo copy had been heard by influential dj’s that it was released as a single. Thankfully this song became Dylan’s highest charting single, and a staple in his live shows. It closes the concert out, as it usually did on this tour, and ends this album on a high note.

In my opinion, this album is a must for even a casual Dylan fan. It comes in both 2LP and 2 cd versions. If you are a completest, you can buy the 36 disc version called The 1966 Live Recordings. That set features all of the live shows on his tour, but vary in terms of sound quality since many are audience recordings, and with 36 discs of mostly the same setlists, it will get repetitive. But for the 99% of us that like/love Dylan, this one is just perfect.

10/10

 

 

 

R.I.P. Pat DiNizio – Album Review : The Smithereens 11 (1989)

My local radio station has been playing The Smithereens lately and it made me remember how awesome they are. I had been planning an album review of theirs for a while, and then I heard the awful news this morning that their vocalist/guitarist Pat DiNizio has passed away. I felt the best tribute I could give would be a review of one of their most popular albums, 11.

A Girl Like You – An amazing song that still gets radio play today. The drumming, bass and especially the guitar work here are incredible. Although my favourite part is the mix between the lead and background vocals. Maria Vidal guests here and her addition really sets this one over the top. It really reminds me of an early TPOH song, and that is really high praise indeed.

Blues Before And After – This song is put in a really tough spot. It has to follow that incredible lead single. However, the harder edge of this one make you sit up and notice. This song can equally appeal to a blues fan, a top 40 follower and a hard rocker. It has cross-over appeal that make it awesome. Many will like it even better than the first song.

Blue Period – Violins, cello,  drums and a harpsichord dominate this slower paced song. This is a lovely duet with guest singer Belinda Carlisle.

Baby Be Good – More amazing background vocals from the 60’s girl band, The Honeys (including Brian Wilson’s former wife, Marilyn). Another song in the TPOH mindset.

Room Without A View – Michael Hamilton adds some great guest guitar work. This song reminds me a bit of a Barenaked Ladies song.

Yesterday Girl – It has sort of a late 80’s alternative meets 60’s rock. The organ work is cool. The dual Rickenbacker’s of Jim Babjak and Pat DiNizio mixed with the harder edge of Michael Hamilton set this song apart.

Cut Flowers – The Honeys are a welcomed addition. The bass and drums have a cool driving beat. The sparingly used guitar work is sedate but piercing at the same time. It reminds me of Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet.

William Nelson – This one feels like Bare Naked Ladies met the Shadowy Men and they all tried their hands at a Springsteen song.

Maria Elena – Amazing guitar work done with a touch of Spanish flair. The back and forth vocals between Pat Dinizio and producer Ed Stasium are very cool indeed.

Kiss Your Tears Away – This one has a Jeff Healy meets The Byrds. If you like amazing 60’s style guitar mixed with great vocals, this song’s for you.

I can imagine the 1989 version of myself would have listened to just the first 2 songs on repeat. The 2017 version of me enjoys this entire album though. It has a lot to offer fans of many music genres, and it doesn’t sound dated.

9/10