Vinyl Sunday

I’m pretty proud of myself since I’ve managed to successfully complete a total of 13 hours of training this week between swimming (10k), running (25k), cycling (130k) and all my functional strength, core and weights sessions.  So, yeah, I’m tickled pink.  Nothing left to do now but sit here in my jammies, drink beer, read my ‘Lantern Rouge‘ book by Max Leonard and listen to records.  Perfect.  Today’s listening session begins with the only acquisition I made from this past Friday’s Black Friday Record Store Day extravaganza at  SRCvinyl Canada in Niagara Falls, the re-release of the ‘Barbed-Wire Kisses‘  album by the Jesus & Mary Chain.


Originally, the album was released on Warner Bros. records back in 1988 as a compilation of singles, b-sides and rare tracks.  Back then, I never paid it any serious mind.  I dug the band but, this album…not so much, for whatever reason. I’m not sure why because it had lots of cool stuff on it like the cover of Bo Diddley’s ‘Who Do You Love?‘ (which was used on the super-shitty soundtrack to the super-shitty 1988 film ‘Earth Girls Are Easy‘), and the track ‘Sidewalking‘ (of which I was certainly familiar with thanks to a high school buddy who practically played it on repeat in his car for weeks), which was voted one of the best singles of 1988 by Musician magazine.

What can I say?  With age comes wisdom.

Fortunately for me, 28 years later, Rhino Records decided to re-release the album as a 2-LP Limited edition of 8,000 copies on 180-gram blood red vinyl – spooky and perfect – for 2015 Black Friday Record Store Day.  This was my big purchase.

Besides the tracks I’ve already mentioned, it also contains a heavily thrashed-up cover of the Beach BoysSurfin’ USA‘  and various alternate versions of album cuts including ‘Taste of Cindy‘  and ‘On The Wall‘. ‘Swing‘ in particular, a ‘Darklands‘ out-take is particularly interesting.  As an added bonus though, the album also contains four tracks not on the originally released vinyl; ‘Cracked‘, ‘Here It Comes Again‘, a live (from Nuremberg, 1986) cover of Can‘s ‘Mushroom‘, and ‘Bo Diddley Is Jesus‘.  It’s a great way to start off the next few hours of splendid nothingness which, hopefully, will continue on for the rest of the day.

Let’s the games begin…

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It’s He-man (Friday) night once again and, so, it’s time to get funky with the heavy iron.  And by “funky”, I really mean getting all sweaty-stinky because, hey, that’s what old skool He-men do (click HERE).  I’m continuing on with the theme I started last week and going with another album by the Dandy Warhols, ‘…The Dandy Warhols Come Down’.


The albumDandys Rule, OK‘  so impressed Capitol Records that they decided to officially sign the band, and this album is their first official release on that major label in 1997.   Actually, this was their second attempt at a follow-up album, after their first attempt was rejected by Capitol, who claimed it didn’t have any “hits” (this later became the ‘Black Album‘).  Three singles were released for ‘Come Down’, all of which entered the Top 40 in the UK charts.

The album in general, featured a more commercial, polished sound, abandoning the garage rock of the previous album in favor of a more psychedelic and Britpop-Shoegaze-influenced power pop sound which was extremely popular at the time.  It’s kinda Neil Young fronting, say, Oasis (‘Boys Better‘, or ‘Minnesoter‘ – two of my favorites), or Lou Reed doing Verve (‘Good Morning‘).  Other amazing tracks on the album include the trippy-as-fuck opener ‘Be-In‘ (which is a damn fine way to open my workout on the ergometer), the somber ‘Orange‘ and ‘I Love You‘.  In the middle of the album however, there is the one-two punch that is ‘Not If You Were the Last Junkie on Earth‘ (probably the closest they came to having a commercial hit at this point) and ‘Every Day Should Be a Holiday‘, both of which are awesome and kept the reps coming fast and furious and my head a-bobbing with a paint mixer-like intensity.  Then there’s ‘Cool As Kim Deal‘ which is pretty awesome because, well, it’s about Kim Deal and…she’s cool.  ‘Hard On for Jesus‘ is catchy, ‘Pete International Airport‘ is mellow-as-fuck, and the last track, the 8-minute plus ‘The Creep Out‘, which begins like the intro to a Quentin Tarantino movie, was a great way to end my workout which, tonight, compromised of a whole host of other ways to punish myself that were handed down from the Doc this afternoon.  Lucky friggin’ me.

All in all, The Dandy’s can either trip you out, swell your mind in about 10 different directions, then chill you out with 4 minutes of near pop perfection.  It’s a real roller-coaster, which is pretty awesome when you’re working out with the weights.  This might be my favorite Dandy Warhol album yet.


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Brick Run (4k)

It’s Thursday night, and that means 90 minutes of suffering on the bike in a sweaty, stinky spin studio followed by 25 minutes on the treadmill afterwards (click HERE).  Love?  Not.  But such is often the life of a wannabe Ironman.  Tonight’s musical du jour is the 6-track ‘Within/Without‘ EP by Bear’s Den.


This is a new band to me as well that I discovered at the same time as I did The Staves after watching ‘Austin to Boston‘  documentary on Netflix.  The Staves were pretty bangin’ so I figured how bad could these Bear’s Den guys be?  While I can’t say I’m a huge fan of the band name though, I’m willing to forgo that given that I didn’t like Panda Bear either but he turned out to be okay.  Maybe my subconscious just has a thing against bears.  Who knows?

Like the Staves, the Bear’s Den clan are also from the UK (London to be exact).  Likewise, they’re a blues-tinged folk trio of lads. In a nutshell, there’s lots of moody tears, goosebumps and staring bleakly out into the massing clouds outside your window – something the English know a little something about.  Of course, there’s no window here in this cramped prison yard gym I’m currently running in, so that group of foreboding clouds is really a sweaty, bloated dude in a staining sweat shirt pedaling his ass off on a recumbent bike directly in front of me.  I can see the crack of his hairy ass.  I think I’d prefer the massing clouds.

That beach pictured on the album cover would be nice too.  Just sayin’…

Anyway, from the percolating guitar pop of first single ‘Writing on the Wall‘  to the reflective rocker ‘Sahara Pt II‘, ‘Without/Within’  has several shining moments. Its finest may be ‘Don’t Let the Sun Steal You Away‘, a banjo-laden folk ballad that finds frontman Andrew Davies’ unmistakably charming vocals rounded out by the strong harmonies of band mates Joey Haynes and Kevin Jones. The latter is also the group’s clearest link to Mumford & Sons, with whom Bear’s Den toured during 2013.

All in, it’s a decent listen for an otherwise “easy(ish)” 4k tempo Brick run.  Hairy ass crack and gay-sounding band name aside, I kind of dug it and I will certainly look forward to checking out other releases by the lads on subsequent runs this off-season.

P.S.> On a more somber note, I’m tipping a post-workout beer tonight (not exactly the kind of recovery formula I’m used to) now that HRH  has gone to bed in honor of my buddy Rick Lewin who passed away tragically this morning…evening…whatever the hell it is in Australia.  Rick was a great guy who managed to pack more living into his 43 years than most people will ever fit into their entire lives.  He also had absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever, nor did he give a shit.  Life seems a little less exciting today and a whole lot more dull knowing that Rick will no longer be in it.  Likewise, I should probably be listening to Motorhead or something as well but, hey, I don’t want to wake the child and spoil the moment.

I hope you can forgive me, buddy.


You’ll be missed, mate.

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Funtional Strength/Core

Usually, I have been preferring to do these workouts at home “On the Mat” while listening to records (in my underwear), but I was too busy this afternoon with work bullshit so I’ve opted for Plan B, ditch the kid at the YMCA Kids Club so that I can this workout in the gym instead prior to the both us getting into the pool later to do our drills (click HERE).  So I’m culling deeper into the Dad Rock files this evening for this workout and going with the debut album by Son Volt, ‘Trace‘.


Released in 1995, the band was formed the previous year by Jay Farrar after the breakup of the influential alt-country band Uncle Tupelo. The album reached #166 on the Billboard 200 album chart and received extremely favorable reviews.  The album was in the top 10 of Rolling Stone‘s 1995 critics’ list.

Personally, I’ve known of Son Volt (no, it’s not a blues guy) for a while, of course, but I never got around to ever listening to them for one reason or another.  It wasn’t until Patterson Hood mentioned this album on his Facebook page a while back that I was all:  “Well, that’s it then.  Now I have to listen to them”.  You already know how I feel about Patterson’s musical suggestions.  Really, I should just start my own “Patterson’s Picks” tag to accompany these particular suggestions.  Yes, that’s an excellent idea.  Done!

Click HERE.

But back to the album.

In the final days, Uncle Tupelo ended in volleys of bitter acrimony between founding members Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy, and as most of Uncle Tupelo’s final lineup joined Tweedy to form Wilco, Farrar set out to assemble a new band that suited his own unique specifications.

There is a lot of “push and pull” in the album, push being fierce rockers like ‘Route‘  and ‘Drown‘, full of Farrar’s Neil Young-style electric guitar riffs, and pull being the quieter, more thoughtful numbers like ‘Tear-Stained Eye‘  and ‘Windfall‘.  In other words, the album embraces both sides of Farrar’s musically personality.  And the mixed themes of freedom, disappointment, and betrayal that punctuate Farrar’s lyrics clearly reflected his state of mind as he walked away from one band and into another. One could reasonably describe this album as Jay Farrar’s version of George Harrison‘s ‘All Things Must Pass’, a watershed work where the artist occasionally looks to an unsatisfying past as he sets out on a bracing new adventure.  In other words, there’s lots to digest and chew over while I sit here in my little corner on the gym floor doing my series of planks, push-ups, sit-ups, etc.

Being so new to me, I was surprised that I recognized the opening track ‘Windfall‘.  Except, the version I knew was the same song that Steve Earle played on a live bootleg I once heard.  Huh.  And ‘Mystifies Me‘  is actually a song written by Ron Wood (Rolling Stones/Faces).  Huh x 2.  The album is a seamless trip through loud distortion, pedal steels, and heartache ballads as if Neil Young and Townes Van Zandt decided to have a threesome with, say, The Clash, and this is the resulting bastard progeny.  And in this case, it’s a pretty attractive bastard progeny, let me tell you!

While the music and the workout were both cool enough, the gym, however, most certainly was not.  F-u-c-k-i-n-g packed.  There were dip shits and meatheads literally stepping over me while I was making with the awesome.  So much for a quiet corner, right?  I mean, “Hello!  Trying to be awesome here!”  And take your eyes off your medicine ball for even a fraction of a second?  Gone.  I think I’m going to try and keep these workouts for my home basement in the future.  Either that, or I’m going to start working out in my underwear at the gym too.  That should keep the pricks at a respectable distance.

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Hill Run (9.5k)

Originally I had hoped to have a break from driving into St. Catharines this evening and, instead, just go for an easy run around the neighborhood.  However, Kelly has a real knack for getting out of making this trip* so here I am, uh-gain, staring down the barrel of another 9.5k hill run under a full “Beaver Moon”**.  For the record, I have no idea what a full Beaver Moon is exactly (but it sure sounds naughty) but it’s cold out…and icy…and, shit, lucky fucking me.  Fortunately, I have something cool queued up to keep me motivated and focused on the task at hand, namely 6 more trips up that God-forsaken Welland Vale Rd., the self-titled album by Trey Anastasio (and band).


In this particular album cover photo, Trey just embodies how I feel about tonight run: glum as fuck.  But Trey isn’t running stupid hill repeats in shitty ass cold as fuck weather is he?  No.  So, like, cheer the fuck up brah.

But, hey, who’s quibbling?

Anyway, this particular album was released back in April  of 2002 on Elektra Records.  It was recorded at The Barn, his studio in Vermont and some of the songs are basically evolved, but much less experimental versions, of tracks that appeared on his first solo album, ‘One Man’s Trash’, released way back in 1998.  These versions for the record are waaaay better.

For 18 years, Anastasio has been the guitarist, vocalist and frontman for Phish, one of the most important and influential jam bands of the past two decades.  Phish’s music and concert tours basically evolved into a way of life for millions of fans – myself included – and changed the way people think of live music – myself included.  Here, his new group – an 8 member powerhouse with a rock solid rhythm section, slamming horns, and a string player or two – is a versatile vehicle for eclectic compositions ranging from a trio of dangerously mellow 3-minute acoustic ballads (including the Bob Marley-inspired ‘Ether Sunday‘) to the explosive 11-minute head charge ‘Last Tube‘ which, I opted to relocate in the playlist to better coincide with successive hill repeats.  In fact, the way the song winds down at the end synced perfectly for how I felt approaching the summit of my 5th repeat.  He then updates the horny Tower of Power legacy in the Latin funk of ‘Alive Again‘ (with guest percussionist Cyro Baptista), the wailing R&B of ‘Money, Love, and Change‘, and a rocket-fueled commercial for decadence, ‘Push on ‘Til the Day‘ (which started my whole forward momentum up Welland Vale Rd. for the first time).  I love this song, especially the part that goes:

“Two tank tequila song,
a little bit of Mary all night long.
The big black bag and the red balloon
and the sun always comes up much too soon.”

That’s some cool shit, right there.  Of course, the very theme of the song used to represent something entirely different back in the day, but I find it’s just as appropriate now while running.

Other amazing tracks on the album include ‘Night Speaks to a Woman‘ which is a regular in other workout playlists of mine already, a floaty ‘Drifting‘ which was nice to listen to heading back to Ridley College to collect the child, as were ‘At the Gazebo‘ and ‘Ray Dawn Balloon‘ which were the perfect “warm down” tunes.  And let’s not forget the catchy ‘Cayman Review‘ which started the whole run off in the early stages across the new Burgoyne Bridge.

* To her credit, Kelly actually made the trip in with me and went shopping for Christmas decorations.
** There is disagreement over the origin of November’s beaver moon name. Some say it comes from Native Americans setting beaver traps during this month before the swamps froze to ensure a supply of warm winter furs. Other say that the Beaver Moon comes from the heavy activity of beavers building their winter dams.  Either way, it still sounds naughty.
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Functional Strength/Core

It’s Tuesday, so that means it’s down to my usual Tuesday routine including a hill run later on and this functional strength/core workout this afternoon in my basement…in my underwear…to a record…with the “Coach”, Tina the Cat.  And, lately, part of this Tuesday routine has been working my way through my John Mayall albums.  Today, it just happens to to be ‘No More Interviews’.


I love this album cover and I’m not really sure why.  It looks as if ‘ol John is relaxing with the morning news in what could be your grandmother’s living room while waiting for a cup of Earl Grey.  Not that any hippie would ever be caught dead in my grandmother’s living room, don’t get me wrong.

In researching the albums “deets”, I found there is not really a lot to find on the Interweb thingee.  All I could find was that it was a blues album, released in 1979 (I was 7 years old at the time) and it was released on DJM Records.  So, really, nothing I couldn’t also determine from the album cover itself.  Oh, it does this have really amazing picture of the band on the back:


I mean, seriously, how awesome is this pic of rag tag hippies?  Grandma would most certainly would not  approve.  I do love the Superman Underroo’s though.

the album was recorded at the Kendun Studio D, in Los Angeles, California between July 16th and 31st, 1979.  Along with ‘Bottom Line‘ (also in my collection somewhere) this album never was released on CD – making this album pretty rare stuff.  Yay me!

As far as the music goes, there is definitely some fine Mayall-esque blues going on here to fuel my sets of planks, push-ups, sit-ups and other mat bullshit.  Featured musicians on the album, as well as Mayall’s ever-evolving cast of character’s is James Quill Smith (guitars), Rick Vito (12-string and slide guitar), Chris Cameron (piano, keyboards), Christiaan Mostert (soprano/tenor sax and flute) Angus Thomas (bass), Ruben Alvarez (drums) and Maggie Parker (vocals).  I think that’s one of the biggest draw I have to John Mayall in that he always seems to reinventing himself by the band he assembles for each album.  There’s something intriguing about that.  Especially when you consider that other notable musicians like Eric Clapton, Mick Taylor and Peter Green all passed through his ranks at some point. That’s pretty fucking impressive as all three have gone on to be powerhouses in their own forthright, while Mayall himself continues on in relative obscurity.  Really, how often does the name “John Mayall” come up when you talk about Da Blues with other people?

From beginning to end it was like I was hearing the album for the very first time and, in truth, it probably was.  I don’t recall when or where I originally picked up this album or, really, having ever listened to it before.  That’s completely my bad.  Side One opens up with a rollicking ‘Hard Going Up‘ followed up about a song about pie (‘A Bigger Slice of Pie‘) which was a bit torturous given that there s no pie to be had in my household currently.  Dammit!  ‘Take me Home Tonight‘ sung by Alvarez is the highlight though and the last track, ‘Sweet Honey Bee‘ is a nice way to wrap things up.

20151124_134919Side Two is a bit too “schmoopy blues” for my liking, but ‘Gypsy Lady‘ sung by Maggie Parker is not without it’s charm featuring some cool flute and harmonica solos.  The real saving grace however is the last track, ‘Wild New Lover‘ which hits like a rolling wave with Mayall’s horn section fluttering in and out and the guitars creating a wall of background noise that float around and frame the overall moodiness of the track.  Definitely a highlight.

And with that quick afternoon mat routine in the bag, it’s back to my Powerpoints and upcoming coaching sessions but, first, a well deserved roast beef sandwich and a bowl of warm homemade apple sauce.

Oh, hey, I also discovered that you can listen to this album HERE. Roast beef sandwich not included.

You’re welcome.


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Vinyl Sunday

It’s been a damn busy weekend of workouts, errands, parenting and whatnot.  I’m proud though of what I’ve accomplished and I still feel pretty good physically in spite of it all.  Time to relax with some vinyl gold beginning with this new acquisition to the ‘ol collection, ‘Woody Guthrie Sings Folk Songs with Leadbelly, Cisco Houston, Sonny Terry and Bess Hawes‘, by Woody Guthrie (and gang).  Duh.


If I have to explain to you the concept of the album or who it’s by after reading the album name then, boy, you must be dumb as dirt.  What you really need to know is that this is a Smithonian Folkways Records FA release.  I found it while browsing the local ‘Nomad’ record and music store ‘Nomad’ on the way home from Toronto on Friday.  What can I say?  I figured it’s been months since I’ve visited the place and there was a sign that they were having a clearance sale.  I’d be an idiot if I didn’t, right?

And thankfully, I did, because this is what I found in the very back of the store in some miscellaneous pile I’m sure he hadn’t even sorted through yet.  Joined by other such popular balladeers such as Leadbelly, Sonny Terry, shit, you read the album title right?  Lots of folks.  It’s a collection then of popular folk ballads of hard times, the Oregon Trail, lonely travel, gospel numbers, heavy toil and just about every other type of hard livin’ you can think of.

20151122_192559It was originally recorded for Moses Asch (a Polish-American recording engineer and record executive who founded Asch Records which would then go on to become Folkways Records when the music changed from 78 RPM recordings to LP records) in the 1940’s and re-released in 1989.  What I love about the Folkways records series is that each record is unique in that is has it’s own catalog number, in this case FA 2483  and the Library of Congress card catalog number (#62-13027) which gives the record an entirely special air about it.  Like I’ve unearthed a true historical relic or something.  And in some ways – I did!  This makes me very happy as I’m likely the only one with that specifically numbered album.  And the album even came with the original Folkways Records booklet in it designating it as such.

Cool, right?

Well, I think so anyway.  But, then again, this is the kind of thing that a record nerd tends to get excited about.  As if the music wasn’t cool enough.

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