Monday, December 21, 2009

Brittany Murphy Dead at 32

Brittany Murphy was pronounced dead of an apparent cardiac arrest, after she was found collapsed at her Los Angeles home and rushed to the nearby Cedars-Sinai hospital, where medics attempted to revive her. While details regarding the exact reason why a 32-year-old would suffer a fatal heart attack are still coming in.
....Brittany made a name for herself playing quirky, eccentric roles--from the goofy skater girl in Clueless, to psych-ward patients in Girl, Interrupted and Don't Say A Word, to even the voice of trailer-park airhead Luann Platter in the animated series King Of The Hill. So it made sense that she crossed over to the edgier music scene--not just in 8 Mile, in which she played Eminem's love interest (aka the "Kim Mathers" role), but as a vocalist in her own right. Most recently she was cast in Stallone's new film "The Expendables" due for release next year.
....included two videos the first from an appearance she did on Letterman a while ago.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blue Peter

....A band started by Chris Wardman and Paul Humphrey they were another Canadian backlash against the corporate controlled airwaves of the 1970's. Blue Peter was from Toronto they formed in 1978 and gained allot of success during the early to mid 80’s. As I’ve mention previously one of the things that characterized the 80’s was a musical upheaval, smaller independent bands began to wage war against the fascist North American record industry which had barred the gates for new talent. Blue Peter was at the forefront of this war, with a completely original sound this new wave band was the very thing that made the alternative scene so interesting and appealing. The brutally restrictive 70’s created the perfect environment or breeding ground for bands such as this who were at the time just trying to get there music heard.
....Funny enough the first time I saw this band live I was with a crowd that geared more towards the punk scene rather than the new wave scene preferring stuff like the Sex Pistols or the Dead Kennedys over Alphaville or Simple Minds. Blue Peter was less electronic, and a more guitar oriented band so they could be construed as a sort of cross over between the two genre’s somewhere between rock and new wave stylistically. Most importantly though they are responsible for some really great tunes that everyone liked regardless of what genre you’re into. Their shows were characterized by an eclectic mix of new wave and punk fans with a few of the main stream crowd thrown in for good measure, which tends to happens once your videos make it to MTV.
....Blue Peter reached their Zenith in 1983 with the release of their seminal album “Falling” which yielded the massive hit 'Don’t Walk Past’ recorded under the Ready Records label. This solidified the band as a Canadian Indy Powerhouse on the presipus on international success, a band that despite the odds now seemed positioned to take the world by storm. It's hard to forget the cutting edge Film noir video for "Don’t Walk Past" featuring Paul Humphrey’s unorthodox dance as he navigates that smokey hallway one the most innovative videos of that era (link below). It received wide acclaim as well as airplay, it can still be seen on YouTube although it’s desperately in need of some restoration as are many of the videos from this time. Following the success of “Falling” Blue Peter was invited to participate in The Police Picnic in 1983 at CNE Stadium and also opened for Simple Minds during their Canadian Tour in 84. They toured extensively during this time playing sold out venues across the country including the Ontario Place Forum which seated up to 18,000 people. Sadly this is the peak for Blue Peter the possibility of international success would never come to fruition as the band broke apart in 1985. Sighting a grueling touring schedule and a seven year workload that had left the band drain they decided to call it quits, and in doing so added yet another page to the book of bands that failed to achieve there full potential. Many fans myself included were distraught and left wondering how far they could have gone.
,,,,Happily Blue Peter does re-unite from time to time and play a show, much to the thrill of their fans who continue to keep the faith. Their most recent gig was September 2009 at Dundas Square in Toronto (according to their web site). I missed my last the opportunity to see them perform a joint concert with the Spoons at the Pilot Room some time ago ,but hopefully I'll have the chance to see them again in the future.

Blue Peter are…

Paul Humphrey – vocals
Chris Wardman - Guitar/Songwriter
Owen Tennyson - Drums
Jason Sniderman - Keyboards
Rick Joudrey – Bass

Geoff McOuat - Bass (1978-1980)
Mike Bambrick - Drums (1978, 1980-1982)
Ron Tomlinson - Drums (1979)

Blue Peter's Website below...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Velvet Underground Toronto - Halloween

....Last Saturday we were at The Velvet Underground in Toronto, located on Queen St. it's one of those legendary bars that's been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Halloween is always a great night at the Velvet and last weekend was no exception. The place was packed and there was a massive line up outside waiting to get in. We arrived early to avoid the non-sense there's nothing I hate more than standing in a frackin lineup. The thing I like most about the Velvet is that nothing ever seems to change, not the music not the people, and not the atmosphere yet at the same time they seem to years ahead of the mainstream when it comes to just about everything if that makes any sense. One things you'll notice immediate is the diversity in the crowd. The average age of the people that frequent this place is anywhere between 18 to 50 it has always been and always will be Toronto's best night spot, especailly for those that like to be different. Above are some pics I took, it was a pretty wild night and happily all we survived it.
. see the pics in full size just click on the images they will enlarge.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Ignatius Jones

....Part of a group that would have driven your parent absolutely nuts. An Australian artist and the frontman for "Jimmy and the Boys" a shock rock group that featured obscene lyrics and imagery among other things. Their act included horror related theatrics, S&M, transvestism, self mutilation, simulated sex, drug abuse and even a mock rape enactment all in an attempt to convey the degeneration of our society. The core of the group form in 1976 and included Ignacius as well as keyboard player Joylene Hairmouth who was a transvestite.

Rock 'N' Roll Might Be Over, Says...U2?

.....I read an article on Yahoo today and that's precisely how it started and I have to be honest it made me laugh. Bono Vox is apparently unhappy with the sales of U2's latest album "No Line On The Horizon" not gonna go into details, suffice to say he's blaming the record industry which is increasingly being geared towards pop music. Don't get me wrong, I like U2 but to blame pop and suggest the lackluster sales are because rock'n'roll is dying would be to suggest that U2 is rock band ...THEY'RE NOT... U2 is in fact a POP band and have been so for at least 20 years. Second to perhaps only Abba they're the most successful pop band in history. Obviously they aren't making the same kinda pop as "Brittney Spears" or the "INSYNC" but they are in fact a Pop group, I hope this doesn't offend anyone not trying to be offensive but I gotta call it the way I see it. The last legitimate rock album U2 put out was "War" and by the time the "Joshua Tree" was released they'd made the full transition into main stream music. In saying that I need to be clear, there is nothing wrong with pop, I like a lot of pop bands, probably more than I should, but for Bono to blame the very thing that is responsible for U2's success, as the instrument of their failure is in my opinion quite ridiculous...

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Duran Duran

....Few bands during the 80's polarized music fans quite as much as these guys, most people had an opinion either ya loved them or you hated them. Were they legitimate New Romantic pioneers or sugar coated garbage? I'm still trying to decide. I talked to many who feel Duran Duran were all style a no substance, while others feel they were one of the most important groups to emerge in the 80's. Considering they've been around for close to thirty years and still making albums perhaps it's time  to cut them a little slack.
.....Duran Duran is a New Romantic band from Birmingham, England. They were one of the most successful groups of the 1980's spearheading what many at the time called the second British Invasion. There original line up consisted of Nick Rhodes, John Taylor, Stephen (Tin Tin) Duffy, and later Roger Taylor, after numerous personnel changes, Andy Taylor, and Simon Le Bon were also added while Tin Tin departed. band's first album, Duran Duran, was released on the EMI label in 1981 it yielded three singles "Planet Earth", "Careless Memories" and of course "Girls On Film" the video to which created so much of controversy was banned by the BBC and heavily edited for MTV. The second album Rio released in 1982 was the one that broke Duran Duran world wide, yielding no less than 5 singles they charted across the planet and they became for a time the biggest band in the world.  A world tour followed, in support of the album and MTV seemed to play their videos 24/7 their images were splashed across every magazine on the planet as the mania spread. When I look back on it now in my mind it seems like it went on forever, but in reality the bulk of their success was achieved over a relatively short period of time between 82 and 85, by the time their fourth album "Notorious" was release in 86 much of the hype had subsided and their popularity wained. Still can't take away from what they did, for a short time during the 80's Duran Duran were being compared to the Beetles a band above all others, an astounding feet to say the least.
....Duran Duran is now in their 28 year and have released a total of 13 albums, the line up has changed over time as members come and go. They still tour pretty regularly to the thrill of their fans, in fact just this summer they were in Toronto to play a sold out Air Canada Center. They still look and sound great after almost 30 years. The Wedding Album released in 1993 is absolutely ingenious and perhaps their best work. 
Duran Duran's line up during their period of Global domination 81-85 is as follows..
Simon Le Bon
Nick Rhodes
John Taylor
Roger Taylor
Andy Taylor
Other past and present members are as follows...
Dominic Brown
Sterling Campbell
Warren Cuccurullo
Stephen Duffy
Andy Wickett
Simon Colley
Alan Curtis
Jeff Thomas
I've Included below the video "Save A Prayer" released in August 1982 perhaps a bit sappy but still my favorite song by the band...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Charlitans UK Cancel North American Tour.

The Charlatans were to play the Mod Club in Toronto tonight but unfortunatly the show has been cancelled along with the London show, this is from their web site...The Charlatans are sorry to announce the cancellation of their forthcoming North American tour. This is due to drummer Jon Brookes' longstanding shoulder complaint. He has been strongly advised by doctors against undertaking 23 concerts in 28 days as this could cause severe damage to ligaments in the affected area. He will start a course of treatment starting in September and in the coming months to rectify the condition.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Elemental - Tears For Fears


...I was never so sure in my life that I was gonna hate an album, after all Curt Smith was gone leaving only Roland Orzabal how could it possibly work. As far as I was concerned Tears for Fears was done, I thought it best they just fade quietly into the night. I didn't actually pick this album up till years later, and the only reason I picked it up at all is because it was on sale. Even after I bought it, it just kinda sat on my shelf collecting dust for a year. It was release in 1993 and I didn't get round to listening to it until around 98, happily I finally did and to my pleasant surprise I was completely and totally wrong. This isn't just a good album it's a bloody great album. It's now loaded on my iPod were it receives regular play, and I mean the entire album not just select songs.
...The big single of the album was "Break It Down Again", which charted well in Europe as well as North America, "Cold", "Elemental" and "Goodnight Song" which are equally impressive were also released as singles, not sure why they didn't chart better in North America, I guess I'll attribute it to our bad taste, or perhaps our sudden 90's fascination in boy bands and grunge music. "Power" my personal favorite should have been released as a single also, come to think of it there isn't a week track on the entire disk. With Smith's departure Orzalbal co wrote this album with Alan Griffith, they'd worked together many time in the past and the end result in an almost perfect album. I know I've said this before and I'm gonna keep on saying it every time I feel an album's gone un-appreciated. Buy this Album!!... you will not be disappointed.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Patrick Swayze dies at age 57

There are few things that anchor us to a period in history quite like the movies, they're a microcosm of an age, a window through which we see our passing time. Few actors defined our generation or were as popular in this era as Patrick Swayze. One of our iconic film stars, he died today after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, he was only 57. He passed away peacefully with family at his side by all accounts he remained happy and positive till the very end..
... Like so many others I still enjoy watching films like Red Dawn, The Outsiders and of course Road House which I especially relate to having spent so many years working in the bar business.  He will be missed, also like millions of others I will continue to enjoy his work for many years to come. Condolences to his friends and family ...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009


...The Raybeats were one of those great post punk bands that never really got their due credit, the landscape of this era is littered with bands that suffered much the same fate. They were labeled as No Wave, which is a slag against the commercial elements of the New Wave scene during the early 80's. But like New Wave / Alternative bands of the time, they drew on mish-mash of styles such as rock'n'roll, punk, jazz, blues and funk to create yet another sub genre of music quite unique but hard to categorized. There were no rules for bands in the 80's, just idea's and choices.
...Originally formed for shits and giggles (as a hobby) in New York 1979 the Raybeats consisted of Jody Harris on guitar, Don Christenson on drums, Pat Irwin on keyboard/sax/guitar and original bassist George Scott. They quickly gained prominence on the New York club circuit and decided to make the group permanent. When George Scott died from a drug overdose in August 1980 he was replaced by Danny Amis shortly after they signed a recording deal with Don't Fall Off the Mountain, a subsidiary of British recording label Beggars Banquet. There first EP was completed in late 1980 called "Roping Wild Bears" and in 1981 their first full album, "Guitar Beat" hit the shops. Amis's departed in 1982, the Raybeats recorded one more album, "It's Only A Movie!" which was released on Shanachie Records in 1983 I have no information on sales or singles unfortunately . They disbanded in 1984 and that's a shame, I'll include video at the end of this post so you can see how talented they were. It's a sad reality that true genius is often not rewarded...

The Raybeats are...

Jody Harris - guitar
Pat Irwin - Keyboards, sax, gutar
Don Christense - Drums
Danny Amis - Bass
George Scott III - Bass

other musician that played Base post Amis - David Hofstra, Bobby Albertson and Gene Holder

Raybeats - Jack The Ripper

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Simple Minds - Sanctify Yourself ( Extended )

. "This is the Age of Thunder and Rage..."

This extended re-mix was released by Simple Minds under the Virgin Records label 1986, it received alot of airplay back in the day. This EP contains two version of "Sanctify Yourself" an Extended mix and a dub mix. It was co-produced by two legends in the recording industry Bob Clearmountain and James Iovine who's resumes are to say the least extremely impressive. Bob Clearmountain's been nominated for four Grammy awards and worked with likes of Bruce Springsteen, The Rolling Stones, Bryan Adams and Robbie Williams to name just a few. James Iovine has engineered for John Lennon and Bruce Springsteen and produced for U2, Dire Straits and Patty Smith to name just a few. This version (extended) starts off with a simple beat overlayed with Jim Kerrs vocals approximately 20 seconds ahead the the heavy beat kicks in followed shortly after with the keyboard and bass tracks. Made for mixing the you get a good two minutes of repetitive droning before the meat the song proper transitions. An excellent variation of the original deviating enough to make it unique but not so much as to make it unrecognizable. Obviously the purpose of this 12 inch was the clubs and pubs so the drum tracks takes on increased prominence throughout, it works well. The B-Side dub mix is pure instrumental (well almost), very repetitive, very cool this is for pure mixing purposes, there are some vocals at the very end, also very repetitive. This is an extremely well done EP can't believe someone gave it up.
A. Sanctify Yourself - extended mix 7:10
B. Sanctify Yourself - dub mix 6:11
Produced by Bob Clearmountain & Jimmy Iovine
Mixed by Jay Burnette, Bob Clearmountain assissted by Moira Marquis
Written by Simple Minds
Virgin Records 1986

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Toronto Fan Expo 2009


BRUCE CAMPBELL, The Evil Dead, Army of Darkness and Bubba Ho-Tep among other things was there on Sunday. He was only willing to sight a few hunder autographs before calling it quits, kinda disrespectful if you ask me. The first time he's been here to my knowlege and there were alot of disappointed fans who I'm sure wanted to meet him but could'nt because he decided to be a dinky dink.

LOU FERRIGNO, The Incredible Hulk from all accounts one of the nicest guys at the show, always willing to talk to the fans and joke around.

It aint just about Science fiction at the Fan Expo many of the Menga and Comic Hero costumes as well as costumes from video games such as Legend of Zelda and Guitar hero are also popular. Very impressive to say the least these kids sure put alot of work into them.

What ever your into you'll find it at the Fan Expo, here the WWF's Iron Shiek and the Honky Tonk Man sign autographs and converse with the fans. Dang is that Iron Shiek ever loud, scared the hell otta me, always yelling at someone...all in good fun for the show of course.

Yup the 501st Legion of which I'm a proud member, we have alot of fun and the crowd is always appreciative. I usually spend much of my weekend posing for pictures.

LEONARD NIMOY was also there, long line up for this guy, yet he was always friendly and made sure all the fan got their autograph or picture. definitely one of the highlights having him there.

Aaron Douglas-"Battlestar Galactica" and Erin Grey- "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century" sign autographs for fans. This is a tragedy for me, I really wanted Erin Greys autograph, who can forget her in the white spandex pilot outfit, it was truely pivotal moment in Sci-Fi TV least it was for me. I got so busy and I completely forgot to go see her. I hope she comes back again. I'll never forgive myself for missing out on what could have been one of the defining moment of my life...Ohhh.. notice the look of bewilderment on Aaron's face, that's because someone has just handed him a bootleg copy of BSG to be signed, I wonder sometimes what goes through peoples heads.

...Well another Fan Expo has come and gone, I spent all weekend at the Toronto convention center I'm exhausted, never walked so much in my life. This year was bigger than ever as a record 60,000 people attended, what a crazy mad house it was. I took some shots at the show but spent most of the time trooping with the 501st Legion. I think it would be best they move this event to the North building for next years show as some people reported a two hour wait just to get in. Security had a tough time keeping control the line was so long it went all the way up the stairs through the concourse, down the outside steps were it snaked half way around the Sky Dome (Rogers Center). That said a good time was had by all, I now count the day until the next one.

Below is a slide show of many of pics I did last weekend enjoy.

Toronto Fan Expo 2009

The link to the entire album is here...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Moody Blues - Live at the Amphetheater

.....August 12 2009 - Last Night at the Molson Amphitheater in Toronto I went to see the Moody Blues put on a spectacular show . After four decades Justine Hayward alongside longtime members bassist John Lodge and drummer Graeme Edge continue performing their many classics and last nights crowd of nearly 10,000 certainly got their money's worth. This is another one of those bands I never got the privilege of seeing back in the 70's or 80's, few bands have the staying power or stamina these guys do especially after almost fourty years, nor do many command quite the loyal following as do the Moody Blues. As appreciative as the crowd was of this iconic group they are equally appreciative of their fans. Near the end of the evening Justine just took a moment to thank all who attended saying "we love you and thank you for keeping the faith". Needless to say the crowd went wild. Being primarily a fan of the New Wave/Alternative scene during the 80's I really didn't have allot of exposure to bands like this, I'm glad I do now. It's easy to forget in this day and age that there was a time in the music industry when talent was mattered most.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Underworld at The Kool Haus

August 11 2008...Click on the pics to see full size image...

...The Kool Haus (formerly the Warehouse, and RPM) is approximately 27,000 sq ft and located on the Lakeshore in the heart downtown Toronto many a great bands have played there over the years. I was there last night to see "Underworld" an English electronica / techno group that have been around since the 80's. To tell you the truth I'm actually more familiar with there earlier stuff when they recorded under there original moniker "Freur". I've heard Born "Slippy NUXX" many times before (who hasn't) but that said last night was predominantly an educational experience for me. I loved it, they put on a radical high energy show of sight and sound for a sold out crowd of approximately 2500, everyone was really into it.
....I took some pics but it was tough gettin anything worth posting, the room was filled with smoke from the start. I guess it's done on purpose to increase the mood/effect of the light show which seriously augments the music, like I said before it's was a combination of both sight and sound that made the experience so unique. The crowd seemed to moved in unison for much of the night, as if in a trace, hence their popularity with the Rave scene. I'm gonna be picking up some of their CD's shortly so I can get more familiar with the work thats for sure...CD's are those little round silvery things about four inches wide that you can still buy at HMV...

Underworld are...
Rick Smith - keyboards
Karl Hyde - vocals, guitars
Darren Price - keyboards, mixing and live assistant

Monday, July 27, 2009

Talk Talk - It's My Life ( 12" Extended )


....A bit perplexed by this one, without an argument Talk Talks most commercially successful single and a rare 12 inch. I acquired this recently and it's nothing like the one I owned twenty years ago which had only the one extended single with four different versions of the same song. This EP contains not only It's My life 12" Mix, but also 12" Mixes of Dum Dum Girl, Such A Shame, Talk Talk, My Foolish Friend and Why So Hard, each of these songs is excellent on there own, it's almost like a mini greatest hits package (early stuff only), except they're all extended versions. The sleeve leads me to believe it was created for the North American market, with packaging designed in Italy and remixed in 1984 by Steve Thompson. This copy above belongs to me and was pressed right here in Canada in the bustling metropolis of Mississauga. A great set list and well worth picking up if you can find a copy in decent condition. Each and every track was eventually re-released on CD, after all Talk Talk aint exactly obscure or unknown. But the reason I pick these up has nothing to do with weather they've been re-released or remastered I don't much care about that. I pick them up because they are rare, and rarer still in perfect condition, also because I dig the photography and cover art which is so interesting.
Track List
1. Why Is It So Hard?... 12" U.S.Remix - Extended
2. Talk Talk... 12" Mix - Extended
3. My Foolish Friend... 12" Mix - Extended
4. It's My Life... 12" Mix - Extended
5. Dum Dum Girl... 12" Remix - Extended
6. Such A Shame... 12" U.S. Remix - Extended
Tracks 1, 5, 6 : Remixed by Steve Thompson
1984 EMI Records
Front Cover Photo by Sheila Rock

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Glastonbury Festival 2009 Pictures


....These are some really spectacular images and I thought I'd share them. What I wouldn't give to attend this festival just once, ahhh well perhaps one day it'll happen. Just have to add it to a long list of things I need to do before I die. The last week of June, approximately 190,000 people made their way to Worthy Farm in western England to attend the 2009 Glastonbury Festival. Attendees came to see performances at what is billed as "Europe's largest open-air music festival" on many stages over four days - headliners included Bruce Springsteen, Neil Young, and a reunited Blur. Rainy weather did little to dampen the mood, as attendees enjoyed themselves in tent cities, concert performances, dance tents, and the surrounding countryside of Somerset, England. Collected here are a handful of images from this year's festival...

You need to see below...

Ministry - Everyday ( Is Halloween ) & All Day

It's Industrial, err... I mean New Wave, no it's Industrial, no it'''s Ministry. From my collection another piece of plastic that got heavy rotation during my time in the booth, one of Ministry's early singles and still my favorite. Far removed from the industrial metal sound they are known for today, Ministry originally started as a New Wave band with a distinctive electronic sound, although one might say they were teetering on the precipice of an Industrial revolution. Al Jourgensen has reportedly expressed disappointment with Ministry's music during these early years, not really sure why. I think it had something to do with creative control, a problem that I'm sure most artist encounter with their record company occasionally. Ahh well screw it, whatever the reason I know I speak for many when I say that "WE" the fans were not disappointed. This was their signature single "Everyday is Halloween" with "All Day" on the flip side was essential vinyl for any music collector and fan of this genre. Ministry released a total of 4 singles under the Wax Trax Records label, I believe this was the most successful but don't quote me on that, sometimes I don't know what the ___ I'm talkin about...
this side
Everyday ( Is Holloween ) 6:35
other side
All Day 5:51
2445 Lincoln Ave Chicago IL

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The New YorK Dolls

.....On Tuesday night I went to Lee's Palace in Toronto and saw the New York Dolls put on one helluva kick-ass show. They played an amazing, two hour set that had the crowed hoppin. Above are some of the shots I took during the evening. I was using a little Canon Powershot, not the most professional camera in the world, but they actually turned out OK.
..... The Dolls originally formed in 1971 so the line up that we saw play tonight has changed somewhat from the what it was originally. In 2004 the band reformed with three of their original members, two of whom, David Johansen and Sylvain Sylvain, continue on today and have released two new records. The original bassist, Arthur Kane died shortly after their first reunion concert. The new members are Steve Conte, Sami Yaffa, Brian Delaney and Brian Koonin. The link to my entire photo album of shots from the show is below...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

No Doubt with Paramore

Air Canada Center Tuesday June 16 2009
...Not always about the 80's...
.....It's been five years since No Doubt recorded an album yet last night they rolled into Toronto and played to twenty thousand screaming fans at a sold out Air Canada Center. I know this because I was one of those fans, what a absolutely fantastic show not only was I there but for the first time in almost 20 years I had front row centers. The show lasted a blistering one hour and forty minutes in which Gwen Stefani and the boys blasted through hit after hit in a high energy fast paced show that had the crowd, myself included on their feet non stop. It's easy to see why they still command such a loyal following, the moment Gwen appeared the crowd was transfixed, a performer like no other she has a stage presence, charisma and stamina that few in the music industry can match, add to that...
Set List
Hella Good
Underneath It All
Excuse Me Mister
Happy Now/End It On This
Simple Kind of Life
Guns of Navarone
Hey Baby
Different People
Don't Speak
It's My Life
Just A Girl
Rock Steady
Stand and Deliver
Sunday Morning

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yes - Pet Shop Boys

....I picked YES up last week, I wanted to listen to it at least ten times before writing anything and that's exactly what I did. Truth be told I probably could have written a review before even listening to the album. When it comes to the Pet Shop Boys I pretty much know what to expect, perfection, absolute perfection. Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have crafted another masterpiece, right from the lead off single "Love Inc." the album grabs you and pulls you in. Each song carefully crafted, layer upon layer of synthesizers intertwined with a that heavy redundant trance like beat we're all accustomed to, add to that some selected guitar riffs by ex-Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and you get a sound experience like no other. That albums has already caught on huge in Europe, the Pet Shop Boys music is after all tailor made for the UK underground.
....It's hard to pick the strongest tracks, because as a rule they don't don't normally include any fill on their albums, it usually a two to three year gap between releases. Besides "Love Inc" their are a number of other track that could easily be issued as singles. "All Over the World" should be the second release a catchy trance like droning dance track that's already being played in the clubs. "More Than a Dream" an upbeat dance track with combining a new wave syth-pop sound with a slight disco beat, it also has one of the best hooks on the album, "Building a Wall" my personal favorite, it has that older 80's style feel to it, a real throw back to the original Pet Shop Boys sound, and "King Of Rome" every album contain at least one ballad, and YES is no exception, a beautiful heart felt song that balances guitar and keyboards with meaningful lyrics and an hypnotic beat.
The Track List is as Follows...
1.... Love Inc
2....All Over the World
3....Beautiful People
4....Did You See Me Coming?
6....More Than a Dream
7....Building a Wall
8....King of Rome
10..The Way It Used to Be
At the time of writing this review, the album is currently sitting at number 3 on the European Top 100 Albums, #4 on the UK Albums Chart, #3 on the German Album Chart and occupies chart position in 16 other countries around the world, not bad for two guys approaching their fifties.
Supplementary July 24 2009

"Love etc." has moved up to 1 from number 2 on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart in the USA. This is Pet Shop Boys' ninth Billboard Dance number one hit, the first being "West End girls" in 1986. According to "...Pet Shop Boys set the record for the most No. 1s in the history of the Hot Dance Club Songs chart among duos or groups this week as "Love Etc." becomes the ninth Pet Shop Boys song to hit the top slot."

Suplementary Feb 18, 2010
The album contunues to expolde all over the world, here's a clip from CNN Feb 18. 2010

Thursday, May 28, 2009


.....Back in the 1980's and to a lesser extent the early 90's their was a venue in Toronto that played host to some of the greatest bands that I have ever seen. It was called The Concert Hall and it was located on Young Street in the heart of Toronto. Although most would be hard pressed to remember it today back in the mid 80's everyone who was anyone played there. It wasn't a big place, it only housed about 1500 if memory serves me, yet most bands seemed to end up performing their at one time or another. To name just a few U2, Simple Minds, The Sex Pistols, The Spoons, Love & Rockets, Billy Bragg, Public Image Ltd, get the picture. Anyway A Flock Of Seagulls were in town playing the Concert Hall and it so happens I was in attendance, normally I don't pay too much attendance on the opening act, but on this night it was different. The opening band on this night was the Comateens, an upbeat New Wave group from New York City with an infectious energetic sound
....A pretty loyal following in the Northern States and especially New York were they' play clubs like Max's Trax, Heat, The Blitz, and of course CBGBs, they also has success across the pond in Europe touring France and Belgium on more than one occasion. The did one Canadian tour as well in 1984. The Comateens originally formed in 1978 as duo, Nick North and Romona Lee Jan met in a New York recording studio and began to write songs together. In December of the same year Lyn Byrd joins to do vocals and they become a three peice. The first songs ever pressed to vinyle by the Commateens was on a New Your Based compilation album called 2x5, as the name suggests it was a compilation of 5 bands each contributing two song. The Comateen contributed "Late Night City" and "Overseas". With regards to their catalog it can get a bit confusing, there were two studio albums, "Comateen" (self titled) and "Pictures on a String", there were also various 45's and videos releases more info can be obtained at their web site below.

The Comateens are as follows...

Band members changed over the years and there was also the tragic death of Oliver North and Nic North, so the musician below were involved with the band at various stages between 1978 and the present.

LYN BYRD - Vocal, Keyboard
RAMONA JAN: Vocals, guitar
NIC NORTH: Vocals, bass, keyboards, percussion
OLIVER NORTH: Vocals, guitars
ROLLY: Percussion
NIC O. TEEN: Vocals, bass
Comateens website, were alot of info can be found, plus some Downloads...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Vis:A:Vis - Heart and Soul


...One of the most fascinating things about the 80's was the hundreds of tiny independent record labels that waged war against the corporate machine that controlled a stagnating music industry at the time. Hundreds perhaps even thousands of small and medium sized bands from all over the world took part in this backlash, assaulting the airwaves, the charts, and most importantly the club scene. Independent college and University Radio stations along with non-commercial radio like CFNY ( back when they were still good ) help make us aware of the existance of these bands. It became a weekend passtime to head downtown to small record shops in search of hard to find albums and 12'inch singles, both domestic and imported.
.....One of the smaller, but very talented groups involved was Vis-A-Vis a Canadian New Wave band that gained a relatively loyal following during the mid 80's. The album shown above belongs to me and it's in almost perfect condition, an incredibly rare find. My original copy purchase back in 86 received regular rotation at the bar I used to DJ, sadly that copy has long since disappeared. This copy I found about a year ago at a flee market and I was to say the least absolutely thrilled. Heart and Soul is a mini album, it only has four tracks, five tracks if you include both versions of "I am the night". They have a distinctively new wave sound, with multiple keyboard layers but also featuring a prominent bass line intertwined with strong guitar riffs throughout, Rude Van Steenes provides some great vocals to round out the project. I would describe it as a cross between INXS an Simple Minds, yet it still retains an original sound. An excellent piece of work by a band that's gone but not forgotten.
Track List
I am the night
Prison of eyes
Where angels tread
Dance with me
I am the night (version)
Vis A Vis are...
Ed Galati (drums)
Gene Donofrio (bass)
Rude Van Steenes (vocals)
Kurt La Porte (guitar, backing vocals)
Norm Brown (keyboards)
additional musicians...
D'arcy Pickering - drums track 1,2,4
Scott Humphrey - PPG programs trk 3
Heart and Soul
Produced by Garth Richardson, assisted by William Robertson
Recorded and Mixed at 'Phase One Studios' Toronto in the fall of 1985
Glamatron Publishing / CAPAC / Vis:A:Vis
Vis:A:Vis also thanks the Spoons and their crew for support on this project.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

I get Along - Pet Shop Boys

"I get along" is a single by the Pet Shop Boys from their album Release. A love song, Neil Tennant has also hinted that it can also be interpreted as commentary on the then fraught relationship between British prime minister Tony Blair and New Labour architect Peter Mandelson after the later had to resign from the British Cabinet after a second major scandal he was involved in. This is a beautifully video it portrays a number of young actors in a New York artist's studio and also features Russian super model Natalia Vodianova (before she became famous). Natalia grew up in a poor district of Gorky USSR. She enrolled in modelling at age 15 and by 17 she'd moved to France to establish her self as a successful runway model. Today Vodianova is ranked 14th in the U.K. as one of the World's Greatest Supermodels and has done the cover of every major magazine in the world. But Natalie is more than just a pretty face, she is the founder and the President of the Naked Heart Foundation, a philanthropy that strives to provide a safe and inspiring environment in which to play for every child living in urban Russia.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Wishing ( If I Had A Photograph Of You )


Click on the artwork to get full size.


..... Released in 1983 this was the first single off there second album LISTEN. The photo above is the artwork from the EP ( for those idiot industry people EP stands for Extended Play a.k.a. the 12'inch single...) "Wishing" peaked strongly in Great Britain and in Canada where it reached the Top 10, in the U.S. it reach #26 on the Billboard charts, it also charted in Germany as well. The version above is my personal copy, it's just over 6 minutes long (6:03 to be exact) it's the version that received regular rotation in all the dance clubs, the original version of this song clocked in at nearly 14 minutes. It also holds the rare distinction of having been performed almost entirely on the black keys of a keyboard.

...... In a celebration of early electronic music, digital radio station BBC 6 Music compiled a chart of its listeners' favourite synthesizer riffs in November 2006. "Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)" came second in the list.
Wishing ( If I Had A Photograph Of You )
1983 Zomba Productions Ltd.
Jive / Arista

Side A.
Wishing ( If I Had A Photograph Of You )
The Flight Of Yuri Gagarin
Side B

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Classix Nouveaux

A band I always intended to explore more closely but just never found the time. Classix Nouveaux are Sal Solo (vocals/guitar, synthesizers) Mike Sweeney (bass guitar ) B.P.Harding (drums, percussion), and Jak Airport (lead guitar) Airport was replaced by Gary Steadman (guitar). Steadman left in 1982 to be replace by Jimi Suman who played a number of instruments. Categorized as a New Romantic band this group did the bulk of their recording and touring between 1981 to 1983. They first gained popularity in 1981 with the release of their hit single "Guilty" which received extensive airplay in Britain. They did two European tours that year and began to gain a loyal following. Their debut album Night People was also released in 1981, it was actually released in 27 countries and charted in many of them, they spent the remainder of the year on an 11 country tour which included Sweden, Yugoslavia and Portugal to name just a few. Releasing their next album La Verité in 1982, led to their highest UK charting single, "Is It A Dream" the band toured worldwide. In 1983 their final album was released Secret featuring tracks such as "Never Never Comes" and "Heart From The Start". They were one of the first modern bands to perform in communist Poland, they also played other Eastern block countries like Hungary and Czechoslovakia, their largest crowd ever for a concert was in Helsinki, Finland where 25,000 attended . This was truly a band without boarders if ever one existed, in addition to the previously mentioned nations they also played India and became the first western rock group to play Sri Lanka.


This band changed members like most people change underwear, I've included all member below, at least I think I have.

Sal Solo - vocals/guitar
Mik Sweeney - bass
Jak Airport - lead guitar
BP Hurding - drums
Gary Steadman - lead guitar
Jimi Sumen - lead guitar
Rick Driscoll - lead guitar
Paul Turley - drums
Pandit Dinesh - percussion

Thursday, April 23, 2009

HMV Rant

.....The Pet Shop Boys new album "YES" was released in North America yesterday. I went to my local HMV today to get my copy. As with most bands, when a new album comes out I tend to buy the deluxe or limited two disc addition... Imagine my surprise when they didn't have it.
..... HMV is a funny f**kin store store, when you walk in the first thing ya see is the new release wall, no Bleepin Pet Shop Boys... ya get four bloody rows of Miley Cyrus, four bloody rows of the Jonas Bothers and four rows of Tylor f**kin Swift, not to mention four rows of the new Depeche Mode album, which by all accounts isn't very good... but no f**kin Pet Shop Boys. I went to the back of the store and checked the "P" section under "Pet Shop Boys" but only found two standard one disc additions, I was pissed off to say the least. Here's the thing... If HMV is gonna basically drive every other record store out of business and make themselves the defacto monopoly for new music ( which is essentially what they've done ) then the least they can bloody well do is provide a decent selection of albums for those of us that don't like over commercialized pop. If it was some obcure band I might undersand, but we're talking about a group that has sold more than 50 million records worldwide, a band that's been around as long as U2 and released just as many albums, if not more ( most of which BTW ain't even available at HMV ) the disrespect is mind-boggling...

Friday, March 27, 2009

Spoons at the Tattoo Rock Parlour March 26 2009

The Tattoo Rock Parlour in Toronto was packed to full capacity last night for the Spoons concert, sorry my picks ain't better, I need to get a decent camera. They put on a fantastic show for the very lively crowd, it's amazing how many hits this band has, no matter how many time I see them I'm always amazed. Its easy to see why after all these years they still command such a loyal following and of course the musicianship is second to none, 30 years of playing together tends to do that... last nights set included a couple of songs I'd never heard live before. Mecurial Girl and Rodeo.

The set list was as follows..
Trade Winds (Recorded)
Arias & Symphonies
Smiling In Winter
Bridges Over Borders
Romantic Traffic
Like A MemoryWaterline
Mercurial Girl
Old Emotions
Tell No LiesRed Light
No Electrons
One In Ten Words
Nova Heart
When Time Turns Around (E1)
Rodeo (E2)