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

 

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review-Billy Talent-Billy Talent (2003)

Billy Talent started out with the band name Pezz. 4 high school buddies toiling around the Toronto area playing bars and staying under the radar. They releasedone album under that name, but ran into legal trouble and changed the name to Billy Talent, which I assume was an homage to the character in the amazing movie Hard Core Logo. Then in 2001 with a friends connection at Warner Music they signed record deal. That year they released an EP, then in 2003 this self titled album was released. It was nominated for rock album of the year at the Junos, has sold over 3 times platinum in Canada, and was voted 453 in Rock Hard magazines top 500 Greatest Rock & Metal Albums Of All Time. I will give a little warning that a few of the videos have content that some may find disturbing. The video for River Below and Nothing To Lose both made the 50 Most Controversial Videos Countdown on Canadian music channel MuchMusic.

This Is How It Goes – A song that Ray can relate to. “That’s just how she goes, Bubs.” The guitar work, bass, pounding drums and piercing vocals let you know this won’t be a quiet night in with grandma.

Living In The Shadows – Great, twangy guitar work with alternating crunchy riffs, pounding drums and booming bass. The mix of quiet and screaming vocals and the cool background harmonies make this song great.

Try Honesty – The lead single has amazing musicianship, wonderful vocals, both in lead and background.

Line & Sinker – Both the vocals and the background sound angry and shouting at most times, but not in an annoying way.

Lies – This song tones it down a notch, and is a welcome addition. The bass booms beautifully on this one.

The Ex – The second single has a punk attitude and fast pace with some meat on the bones and anger bubbling just below the surface.

River Below – The third single is simple an amazing song. The song is about the downward spiral of a war vet who has degraded to the point in which his illness compels him to setoff a bomb. “I’m sick and I’m twisted. I’m broken you can’t fix it, don’t make me, ’cause I’ll do it, red button and we’ll all go……..Into the river below…..”

Standing In The Rain – A song about runaway turned drug addicted street prostitute. As the father of a teen girl, this one hits pretty hard.

Cut The Curtains – The beginning of this song reminds me of an awesome metal song. I can’t quite place it, but the guitar work is awesome.

Prisoners Of Today – I enjoy the quieter guitar in the middle, and the background vocals are great.

Nothing To Lose – The 4th single is a really, really heavy song. Not heavy as in loud(although it does have some), but heavy subject matter regarding teen suicide. Another song that hits hard for me. Billy Talent donated $1 to Kids Help Phone in Canada every time that song was played on the radio.

Voices Of Violence – I am not sure what this song represents. I think it is about the  voices of those that were killed will never go away.

9.95/10

 

What was your most expensive concert?

This morning I logged onto to Tickemaster to check for Metfan pre-sale tickets to see Metallica. I was shocked and appalled to find out the tickets ranged in price from $170-208 each. Ummm. Yeah. No thanks. C’mon boys. I have been supporting you for over 30 years. Have all of your albums. Bought your boxsets. Saw you live. Became a member of your fan club. Gave you great reviews. Defended you this week here on these pages. But if this is the way you treat your loyal fans, I may have to dial it back a few notches. I’m sorry but multi millionaires do not need to gouge the average joes that love your music. The Rogers Centre holds over 50,000 people in seats. Plus the general admission on the field. Do the math. The figures workout to over $1 million dollars for about 3 hours of work. Some of us may not make that in our entire life. I loved when you made a surprise show last year at a bar in Toronto and tickets were $25-50, and we were asked to donate an item of food for the food bank. This latest concert ripoff just lost all cred I gave you then though.

Ok. Enough of my rant. Please let me know in the comment section your thoughts on this. Am I wrong?

Also, what was the most you ever paid for a concert with the details?

 

Ontario Bands Week: Gordon Lightfoot -Gord’s Gold (1975)

The mid 70’s were good times for Gordon Lightfoot. He had written many songs that he and other artists took to number 1. In 1975, after 10 studio albums he released Gord’s Gold, a 21 song greatest hits package that included many of his best songs. In hindsight, he would sell many more albums after this, but only a few songs would ever be as popular as the ones on this album.

Songs 1-9 were re-recorded for this album. Gordon said it was because he did not like how his early songs sounded. I wonder if it was because he would not have to pay royalties to his old record label.

Of these early songs, 2 stand out for me.

Canadian Railroad Trilogy – This song represents early Canada for me. Like Stompin’ Tom Connors, Gordon is proud of his country and has no problem telling you that in song.

Early Morning Rain – The quiet acoustic guitar blends wonderfully with Gord’s beautiful voice. The lyrics are of missing loved ones. I can imagine Gord wrote those during long stretches away from home during tours.

The remaining songs on the album are mostly all amazing so I will highlight the majority of them.

Sundown – The bass is awesome on this song. Also Gord’s voice is wonderful and the background vocals are great. Also the lyrics are top notch. “Sundown. You better take care. If I find you’ve been creeping ’round my back stairs. Sometimes I think it’s a sin. When I feel like I’m winning when I’m losing again.” This song was apparently about his then girlfriend Cathy Smith (who later went on to be involved with John Belushi’s death). Gordon was quoted assaying Cathy was “the one woman who most hurt me.”

Summer Side Of Life – The vocal harmonies and background singers really set this one apart from most of Gordon`s songs. The guitar playing is pretty cool too.

Rainy Day People – The steel guitar is the hero for me on this one. It is like an old school country song mixed with a Jimmy Buffet song.

Cotton Jenny – This song may be best known as an Anne Murray song, but it was written and performed a year earlier by Gordon Lightfoot. Such a happy go lucky song. Gordon must have been in a great place in his life when he wrote this. Of note for me is the great harmonica playing and the awesome enunciation. It reminds me of Buddy Holly when he sang Peggy Sue Hoo Hoo.

Don Qixote – The mandolin is the star for me. No wonder. It is played by none other than Ry Cooder.

Circle Of Steel – The recorder and dobro playing are the stars for me on this one.

Old Dan`s Records – The bass, dobro and guitar playing is awesome, and it`s a song about bringing out records, so I`m in like Flynn.

If You Could Read My Mind – This was Gordon`s first song to reach the American Charts. Gordon was going through a divorce during the writing in this song, and the lyrics may be his best. I would have to quote the entire song as it is so good. Also, the string arrangements are beautiful and Ry Cooder plays guitar and mandolin.

Cold On The Shoulder – His enunciation is the star for me here. He has an almost out East dialect. The bass, guitar and background lyrics are great as well.

Carefree Highway – Gordon`s voice is in peak form here. This may his best vocals of all time. A song about life on the road and how he neglected the woman he left behind. “The morning after blues. From my head down to my shoes. Carefree Highway. Let me slip away. Slip away on you.”

This is an awesome compilation. I would only substitute 1 song that was omitted Me And Bobby Mcgee. Gordon sang this song before Kris Kristofferson and Janis Joplin.

This will appeal to fans of Kris Kristofferson, Bob Dylan, Ry Cooder, Johnny Cash, Jimmy Buffet, Ian & Sylvia.

9.75/10

 

 

Dear Grammy’s. Go F*ck Yourself

I have never really been a fan of awards shows. In my opinion they are rigged and really boring. Often the best movies, music, television gets ignored. Don’t even get me started on the Popular Music (I mean Rock and Roll) Hall of Fame. As a fan of heavy metal music I am appalled at the way metal artists are treated. The awards given out to metal artists is not even televised so we can see more footage of Beyoncé or Justin Bieber.

Last night 2 of the biggest names in heavy metal for over 30 years were insulted in what I consider a slap in the face. First the good. Megadeth finally won an award in the metal category. They deserved it. I loved Dystopia, and reviewed it last year. Dave Mustaine has been slugging out for over 35 years since being kicked out of Metallica. His band has put out some pretty awesome albums, but his songs are never on the radio, and he never gets any accolades. Finally the Grammys changed that and Megadeth won Metal Album Of The Year. While Dave and company were walking to the podium(it took a while since they were stuffed in the very back) the house band felt they should play Metallica. Wait. What? As I mentioned Dave was unceremoniously kicked out of Metallica. I believe this was a backward slap in the face. It may come out as a slip up, but someone had to know that the house band should either play a Megadeth song (there are hundreds to choose from), or even any metal song by any metal band other than Metallica. Perhaps this was an oversight, because it’s not like the people at the Grammys actually care about metal bands or their history, but it is still a slap in the face.

Speaking of Metallica, they were insulted twice last night. When performing onstage they were not announced. The actress at the podium announced the band as Jethro Tull. No that was another Grammy miscue. She only mentioned Lady Gaga. Never mind the other band she is performing with. Metallica? Nope, never heard of them. Hundreds of millions of records sold. Nope.

During the performance mysteriously James Hetfield’s microphone didn’t work. No other mics had issues all evening. Hmm. I wonder if the producers wanted to hear more Gaga. She was the only one announced on stage.

Can you imagine the shitstorm that would rain down on The Grammys if Beyoncé and Adele were snubbed. OMG. But since it is just metal bands no one seems to care. Well this guy does.

As I mentioned, I feel these things are rigged. Don’t get me wrong, I love David Bowie. I have my whole life. I cried the day he died. I bought his latest album Blackstar and reviewed it last year. What I do not like are The Grammys finally jumping on the Bowie bandwagon and handing out award after award to him. Sorry, guys it’s too little too late for me. I would bet every nickel I own that if David Bowie had not died, awards people would have ignored this album the way they have ignored all of his albums. Sorry Grammys, I can see right through you.

After this shamble of an award show I, and hopefully many of you can safely say:

“Dear Grammys. Go F*ck Yourself!!!!!!!”

 

Ontario Bands Week: Album Review- The Pursuit Of Happiness(TPOH)- I’m An Adult Now 12″single (1986)

This week myself and fellow Ontario, Canada bloggers Mike Ladano, Aaron, Deke and Geoff are collaborating on Ontario bands. Please check out their blogs and check out the bands.

http://www.boom973.com/70s80s90s/2016/10/04/behind-the-vinyl-im-an-adult-now-moe-berg-from-the-pursuit-of-happiness

In the above interview Moe mentions the drums on the early version. They jump out at me every time I hear them. They sound a bit like We Got The Beat by The Go Go’s, only cool, you know.

This 12″ single was the first recording ever released by TPOH. It was done on a shoe string budget, self-produced by the band. Moe Berg had been working on these songs for years, and after hooking up in Toronto with Dave Gilby, Johnny Sinclair, and sisters Tam And Tasha Amabile, he asked them all if they would like to be in his band, The Pursuit Of Happiness.

The 1980’s were wonderful times for a teenage music fan such as myself. I was a metalhead and punk fan, but sometimes other music crept in. I spent my evenings listening to music, and like most teens I loved watching videos. Bands sunk tons of money into videos back then. It wasn’t like it is today. The videos were shot with video recorders and tape had to be spliced. CGI was not common and action was real footage. What could be done by an amateur on a home computer today cost thousands of dollars and weeks of effort by pros back then. What was a fledgling young band from Toronto with no money to do. They went out onto the streets of Toronto along with a buddy with a video camera and let it roll, low budget like.

I’m An Adult Now – This early, first version of the song is similar in that it is a low budget, self produced effort. This version is unlike the one found on the amazing album, Love Junk, and is even more raw than the above video. Once Todd Rundgren got his hands on Love Junk (I am sure there is a joke there somewhere), he polished it up. I can almost picture Todd Rundgren meeting the band in the studio, listening to the early version with them and saying that it was good, but getting them to do the song over and over until they did it his way. This single version sounds raw, and unpolished. As if they practiced it a few times and pushed record. I love it though. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Love Junk version too. I am just glad that I have both versions. Plus this is the first version I ever heard, quite some time before the album emerged, so I have a soft spot for it.

She’s So Young – The b side song was just as strong as the a. This song was so perfect that Todd just left it as is on the album. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

It was these singles that got the band signed to a big record label, and roped Todd Rundgren in to be the producer for their first albums. That speaks to the likeability of the songs. Although this 12″has only 2 songs(there are other 12″ versions with 4 songs), it will be well worth the few dollars you will pay.

10/10

Top 5 Butch Trucks moments

I just found out that Butch Trucks, a founding member of The Allman Brothers band,  committed suicide this week. His work was often overshadowed by great guitar work. However he was called the Lou Gehrig of rock drummers by Warren Haynes.

5

4

3

2

1

Hopefully his son, and nephews can carry on the family legacy.  love the guitar work of Derek Trucks and am very sad for him today. R.I.P. Butch.