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Sunday, October 10, 2010



Live At Massey Hall In Toronto (October 7, 2010) :: One night in 1980, back during the pre-“Living In America” days when he couldn’t get arrested either figuratively or literally, I went to see James Brown perform a midnight show in a ramshackle movie theatre where—I kid you not—I was literally the only white guy in a black sea of superfly soul brothers who, if they even deigned to give me a second glance, merely nodded their Afroed heads in approval that I had such good musical taste.

A similar situation recently took place when I was likewise the only paleface in attendance at the sixth North American date ever played by the recently reconstituted X Japan, who had been on a ten year hiatus. That you most likely didn’t see them isn’t your fault since you probably never even heard of X Japan until now, even though they’ve been around since 1982 and have sold out the 55,000 seat Tokyo Dome a whopping eighteen times—and you thought The Beatles playing five nights in a judo arena was a big deal.

Which reminds me: even though it was a long long time ago, I can still remember how the music used to make me smile. Which is why I always felt sorry for today’s young rock fan who never got to see influential acts like Queen, Roxy Music, Mott The Hoople, New York Dolls, and Kiss performing live in their flamboyant hyperactive prime—but not anymore.

That’s because I saw firsthand how X Japan have assimilated all those different dramatic styles to produce a classic riveting rock show for a new generation of concertgoer that effortlessly alternates between meat and potatoes hard rock, anthemic power ballads, bombastic heavy metal, and enough amped-up classical flourishes to make even the staunchest prog rock adherent smile.

So maybe you did miss them this time around; nobody’s perfect. But when X Japan return next year to support their next album, whatever you do, don’t make the same mistake twice.

Rock ’n’ roll history will never forgive you and, frankly, neither will I.

Sadistic Mika Band
“Time Machine” (Harvest) :: Yeah, and I bet you never heard of the Mikas, either.

Mike Evin
Good Watermelon (Just Friends) :: Just like the first song “Great Pop Song” shows, Mike Evin plays tribute to the tinny transistor radio tradition of Top Ten bliss. Powered by a jing-janglin’ piano, happy hippie handclaps and chirpy chick backing vocals, the resultant pseudo-Gospel proceedings are both exhilarating and exalted in a charmingly naïve way not heard since early Runt-era Rundgren. Go ahead. Ignore him.

Kelly Joe Phelps
Western Bell (Black Hen) :: He’s got a name like an old jazzbo stringer and a mug like an old Waitesbo singer but inside the sleeve this acoustic guitar slinger has woven a thoughtful instrumental album.

Leeroy Stagger
Everything Is Real (Boompa) :: The cover sticker says “the title track is (sic) rollicking 3 minute classic reminiscent of late 70’s New York punk” but that’s a (very sic) rollicking three line lie written by some promo bumpkin who’s obviously too young to have lived through late ’70s New York punk to know what they’re talking about—which does a disservice to Stagger Lee’s latest album of pop country tunes. Trust me: if this sounded anything even remotely like Unca Lou or David Jo, I’d know.

Howling Bells
Radio Wars (Nettwerk) :: England’s long-lost missing link between Juju and A Kiss In The Dreamhouse. Really.

The People Or The Gun (Side One Dummy) :: Wherein the first anti-Obama album of the year—you were waiting for that, weren’t you—reflects a refreshing return to their raucous roots. A portion of the sales will be donated to Amnesty International but don’t let that socialist sop stop you from counting up this spare Clashian change that you can really believe in. What’s that you say? They’re not anti-Obama? They just rage against the machine that pulls his puppet strings? Uh huh.

Danko Jones
This Is Danko Jones (Aquarius) :: He walks into the room with a record in his hand. He plays it on the turntable and you ask: “Who is that man?” I’m here to tell ya so you’ll understand: this is one Mr. Jones who knows what’s happenin’ baby—and this fifteen track, thirteen-year spannin’ compilation of hellacious hard rock ’n’ roll will have your bouncin’ brainpan borin’ huge holes in your noggin!

Adios… (13th Planet) :: This political polemic is about as humorously heavy as heavy humor gets these days and it’s a fitting epitaph for one of rock’s more rebellious rabble-rousers. Points deducted for (1) partially lifting the record title from the last Ramones studio album; and (2) not including “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” so that they could cleverly call this live set: Let’s Hit The $#!%in’ Road.

Tipper Gore
PMRC (Parential Warning) :: Sorry.

The End Is Not The End
House Of Heroes (Gotee) :: And, in the end, they’re being compared to The Beatles but using a Rigbyish string section doesn’t even make them a not so Badfinger. Points deducted for still putting a hidden “bonus track” on an album in 2009—and who started that stupid trend, anyway?

The Beatles
“Her Majesty” (Apple) :: Ooops.

Escape From The Chicken Coop (Northern Blues) :: The back cover shows a big rig’s rear with a bumper sticker that reads “HOW’S MY SLIDE PLAYING? 1-866-540-0003” so I’m here to stick my finger in the hole and dial up an endorsement that this is Slim’s best record yet—and if the title “Gone Dead Train” means anything to you, then you’ll dig where he’s headed. Bonus points for slingin’ a hot hash duet with Jenny Littleton.

Big Black
“The Power Of Independent Trucking” (Touch And Go) :: A chicken in every port.

Be seeing you!

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