Friday, November 27, 2009

Opus X

I'm going to put up this quick post about classic Canadian rockers Chilliwack for a couple reasons. First off this is my first vinyl rip from my new turntable and the sound quality is pretty darn good for a first timer and secondly my free time has been almost non existent lately which I'll talk about in a future post. I didn't want everyone to think I had fallen off the face of the earth. Opus X is the tenth album (hence the "X") by the Canadian rock band Chilliwack, released in 1982. Producers Bill Henderson and Brian MacLeod received the Juno Award for "Producer of the Year" for their work on the songs "Whatcha Gonna Do" and "Secret Information" from this album. This is the whole album and will only be available for a short time.

320 kbps

Whatcha Gonna Do
Secret Information
She Don't Know
Night Time
Lean On Me
Don't It Make You Feel Good
Really Don't Mind
You're Gonna Last

Copy and Paste this link into your browser to download

Funny Toon

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bad Habits

Colin James is one of my all time favorite musicians and if you've been around my site for any length of time, you know I have mentioned him here and there. We go and see him every time he is in town and this tour is no exception. We just scored tickets for his second sold out show here in Victoria for February and I can't wait. He is supporting the release of his latest album which I'm going to cover in a future post.

Colin James is an artist that Canadians know all about. Colin James grew up in Saskatchewan, listening to folk and blues. After learning the penny-whistle and mandolin, he quit school and worked with a succession of bands. I hadn't heard of him until I moved to Canada. He really needs more exposure in outside of his native Canada because he is truly a great blues guitarist. I guess you could say his big break came in 1984 when a band he was in got the gig for opening for Stevie Ray Vaughn in Regina. Vaughan was so impressed that he took James on the road with him to open several dates in the US. James first album debuted in 1988 and became the fastest-selling album in Canadian history. The biggest problem for Americans is, he doesn't tour the U.S. very much, and spends most of his time in Canada where his shows sell out instantly.

Bad Habits is a blues rock album by James, released in 1995. I say this as James has another project called Colin James and the Little Big Band where his music is more swing oriented and they have released three albums. Bad Habits earned James the 1996 Juno Award for "Male Vocalist of the Year". This is a fine set of both original and cover material. Paring back the sound to the basic guitar, bass and drums, James uses horns and keyboards to color and accentuate certain tracks rather than overwhelm them. This is a five star effort that edges right into essential albums for any fan of music. There are several killer cuts from this album. In fact the first time I saw James perform Better Days live, I thought I was going to lose my mind. It sounded so damn good and he can positively make that guitar of his wail like nobody's business. So if you're unfamiliar with his work, you've got to give these two tunes a spin.

Better Days
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Turntable Returns

There is a reason I haven't been around for a bit. Homercat has finally acquired a turntable and he has been rediscovering the vinyl age. So all those vinyl albums that have been sitting around forever finally got to have their moment in the sun again. The price was right too, as in free. We were at a friends house that has tons of vinyl and he showed me crates and crates of stuff that he was going to get rid of as they were all duplicates. See he buys vinyl by the boxful and ends up with a lot of duplicates. As the conversation turned around to me maybe taking them off his hand as I was finally thinking about getting that turntable he says hey I've got one that's still in the box that I got a long time ago with a bunch of stuff. Take home and see if it works. It does and it's a beaut. Now the adventure has begun and I'm scouring thrift stores and used record stores again looking for forgotten treasure.

As I slipped on that very first album it took me back to when vinyl was king. Holding that album and reading the liner notes while the record played was our closest connection to the artist. Some of us would actually use the cover to roll up a big doobie while we listened to Pink Floyd's Atom Heart Mother for the umpteenth time. We only had 2 TV stations, 3 on a good night, and they usually signed off at midnight. Remember that test pattern they'd run. If you were lucky one of the magazines like Rolling Stone, Circus, Hit Parader or Creem would have an article about your favorite artist. You never saw them on TV unless you allowed to stay up late on the weekend for the Midnight Special. So when you bought that new album you would cherish it. Nowadays you can take your music everywhere with you, but back then you had to wait till you got home to hear your favorite record as turntables weren't the most portable of devices. I do know that those of us who grew up listening to our favorite artists on the record player will never forget what it was like to buy that new album and that feeling you had when you held it while the music played.

Album art and packaging was an art form in itself and I feel that now album art is a lost art form. So many new releases now tend to be so uninspiring as to produce many yawns and a lackluster response in general. I couldn't begin to tell you how many albums I purchased based on the cover itself. Without even knowing who the heck they were or what they sounded like, if a cover caught my eye I would think,"That cover is so damn cool that it has to be good" and 80% of time it would be great. My most prized piece of vinyl back in the day was Alice Cooper's 1972 release, School's Out. The original album cover (designed by Craig Braun) had the sleeve opening in the manner of an old school desk. You could actually fold it out into a desk and you opened the lid and the vinyl record inside was wrapped in a pair of girl's panties. Priceless I tell you. When you removed the record, there was all manner of clutter in the desk that you could spend hours looking at. I can tell you it's a hard puppy to find now.

So I may be spending more time refining my ripping skills and getting some of my great rare and out of print stuff on the pc. In the meantime I have been enjoying the warm and friendly sounds of an old friend. Today I'm just going to put up a few gems from back when I got my very first record player. So somewhere down the road I should have some old goodies for you.

Green Eyed Lady by Sugarloaf
One Toke Over the Line by Brewer and Shipley
Afternoon Delight by Starland Vocal Band
Yo Yo by The Osmonds

Funny Toon

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Another Look at Tom Cochrane

Tom Cochrane, whether on his own or with Red Rider, has long been an underrated and overlooked rocker-poet-folkie. It was a funny thing when I did a little research about Tom to fill in the gaps of my knowledge about him. Canadian web sites are chock full of information and no wonder as he is a premiere Canadian artist. Check out any US based web sites and he barely garners a short paragraph. For example Rolling Stone had this to say.

For U.S. audiences, singer-songwriter Tom Cochrane's career can be summarized in four words: "Life is a Highway." In his native Canada, however, he's parlayed his brand of radio-ready, Bob Seger-meets-Bryan Adams heartland rock into a lasting career. His crafty songs continue to fill a void for people who like their music uncomplicated and to-the-point.

I would rather listen to Tom Cochrane over Bryan Adams or Bob Seger at any time because Tom is a fine musician and a great humanitarian and that short little paragraph doesn't even come close to explaining the scope of his music. One of the things I found interesting is that he actually released his first solo album in 1974, way before the Red Rider years. Then he went to Los Angeles where he got a line on writing theme music for the Happy Hooker, Xavier Hollander, movie My Pleasure Is My Business. After that he drove a taxi in Toronto and then landed a job on a Carribean cruise liner. Eventually one night he walked into the El Mocambo club in Toronto and met a group called Red Rider and he auditioned and got the job. In 1990 Red Rider was officially history and as research and new inspiration, Cochrane took his family to West Africa on a fact finding mission in 1990 for the famine relief organization World Vision -- he would make two more trips just like it to raise awareness and money. That experience, dealing with the starving masses, helped shape his next album - 'Mad Mad World' - and specifically it's international hit single "Life Is A Highway".

It's really too bad Tom has never got more exposure in the states other than the overplayed Life is a Highway. Songs like Stonecutter's Arms, No Regrets and Big League really give you a better idea of what Tom's music is all about. Folks just don't know whats they is missing. A good starting point to explore more of Tom's music is the 2002 release Trapeze which is a 2 disc overview of his career. The first disc covers his Red Rider days and the second disc covers his solo work and every single cut is a gem and really is essential music for any fan of rock n roll.

Stonecutter's Arms
No Regrets
Big League
Buy It

Funny Toon

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Lone Rhino

Lone Rhino is the first solo-career album by the artist Adrian Belew following years of playing in groups such as Talking Heads (as a touring member) and King Crimson (as lead singer and main songwriter), Frank Zappa, and David Bowie to name a few. Really the list of people he has played with is pretty incredible as he is widely recognized as an "incredibly versatile player. He remains one of the most underrated and woefully overlooked guitarists of recent times. Belew has released a number of solo albums for Island Records and Atlantic Records which blend Beatles-inspired pop-rock with more experimental fare.

Belew was discovered by Frank Zappa in 1977, where he was playing in Nashville with a band called Sweetheart. Zappa invited Belew to audition for an open spot for an upcoming tour which he landed easily. It was during Zappa's lengthy 1978 U.S. tour that David Bowie came to see a performance, which resulted in Belew being invited to join Bowie's touring band when the Zappa tour wrapped up. Once more, Belew accepted, touring the world alongside Bowie and appearing on his 1978 live recording, Stage, and 1979 studio effort, Lodger. Just as Belew's Bowie gig was about to wind down, he received an offer he couldn't refuse from another artist, Brian Eno, who introduced the guitarist to the Talking Heads, who were in the middle of recording their classic 1980 release Remain in Light. Belew was invited to lay down guitar for the songs, which led to his participation on the album's supporting tour. Belew just kept falling into somegreat gigs because of his versatile guitar work. It was around this time that Belew also began work Lone Rhino which came out in 1982 and includes the incredible robotic funk of Big Electric Cat.

The Momur
Big Electric Cat
Buy It

Funny Toon

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Whereabouts Unknown

Any Mojo Nixon fan will greedily scarf up this offering before it has much of a chance to get to know the shelf. Especially since this is out of print, although I do believe you can download the mp3's from Amazon or Itunes, I think. A fantastic example of what happens when attitude, rockabilly, and smart lyrics go out drinking together. Whereabouts Unknown came out in 1995 and shortly into the opening track, "Gotta Be Free," he is talking about having his penis enlarged, and later on, "Tie My Pecker to My Leg" is probably his bawdiest song ever. In between, often shouting over familiar blues-rock riffs, he explains that he loves his girlfriend more than anything except football. Then he also says, "I ain't gonna be George Bush's whore" in the four-years-out-of-date anti-war song "My Free Will Just Ain't Willin'"; demanded "Don't Ask Me Why I Drink"; and launched into a cover of the Smiths' "Girlfriend in a Coma" that found him calling songwriter Morrissey "a fruitcake" and declaring, "I am the anti-Morrissey." So get the damn album, son, grab a twelve pack of cheap beer, and surf away on some classic Mojo groovin.

If I Can Dream
Tie My Pecker to My Leg

Funny Toon

Friday, November 06, 2009


Slayed? is the third studio album by the British rock group Slade. It was released in 1972, and reached No. 1 on the UK charts.

The album contains two of the group's biggest hits; "Gudbuy t'Jane" and "Mama Weer All Crazee Now", and is consistently said by rock critics to be their "...greatest studio album," whereas fans tend to disagree and a lot of them say that this accolade belongs to Slade in Flame. I'm not one of those fans. This is the essential Slade album. Taking away the two big hits from the equation, Slayed? is a nonstop party, from the riotously self-fulfilling prophecy of "The Whole World's Goin' Crazee" to the down-key but still eminently stompalong-able "Look at Last Nite," the latter a reminder that, even at its loudest, Slade was still capable of some fetching balladry. It is said that the closing medley of "Let the Good Times Roll" and "Feel So Fine" was the closest you could come to the mania of a Slade live show without actually going out and buying a ticket. Of course, listeners don't have that option today. This is essential rock n roll!

The Whole World's Goin' Crazee
Let the Good Times Roll / Feel So Fine
Buy It

Funny Toon

Wednesday, November 04, 2009


I was talking to my young protege at work the other day and the conversation was naturally about music and something he said caused me to mention Dread Zeppelin and he said who's that? I went OMG (sometimes you gotta talk their language) you've never heard of Dread Zeppelin? So I proceeded to educate him and soon the whole concept of the band was blowing his mind. Anyway I mentioned them briefly back in September and did a full piece on them some 4 years ago. Once again I feel I must pull out the education stick out and start breaking some heads with it so we won't have to hear "who's that" again.

So do you like Elvis? Do you like Led Zeppelin? Do you like reggae? If so then Dread Zeppelin is a band that will be right up your alley. Channeling the musical spirits of Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley, and Bob Marley to create a unique novelty rock sound that is surprisingly good and is heartily endorsed by no less than Robert Plant himself. Led by one Tortelvis, a 300-pound Elvis impersonator, the lineup also included guitarists Jah Paul Jo and Carl Jah, bassist Butt-Boy, percussionist Ed Zeppelin, and drummer Fresh Cheese. Don't forget Charlie Haj (the man who hands Tortelvis his water and towels on stage). I think these guys were hanging out one night and after smoking some good weed they thought hey we should try this it sounds cool.

Dread played their debut live gig on January 8, 1989 (the 54th anniversary of Elvis' birth), the CA-based group performed reggae-influenced renditions of classic Led Zep anthems capped off by Presley-like vocals. By 1990 the group released their first album Un-led-ed which contained all zeppelin covers. Dread Zeppelin's second album, 5,000,000, followed in 1991 and contained zep songs and a few original compositions. Even after all these years of listening to these guys time after time, it's still funny. But even more amazing is the fact that this was ONE TIGHT BAND. Brilliant guitars, loud drums, and incredible production tells you these guys are a serious band. Even Robert Plant said he thought their version of "Your Time is Gonna Come" was better than Led Zeppelins original version. Now that's high praise. The lineups have changed over the years, yet they released a new album 2 years ago so Dread Zeppelin is still spreading their patented "zeppelin-inna-reggae-style" around the world. So young grasshopper you now know a little more about Tortelvis and the gang.

Whole Lotta Love
Your Time is Gonna Come
Buy It

Funny Toon