Hump Day Vinyl

The work day is done, the potatoes are on the stove prepping for a late dinner and I’m settling down in my EZ-Boy with ‘The Death of Marco Pantani‘ (Matt Rendell) prior to hitting the pool for a wee pre-dinner swim.  My listening pleasure is a purchase from this past weekend’s Record Fair in Hamilton, the ‘Making Movies‘  album by Dire Straits.


So I’m on a bit of a Dire Straits kick lately.

Sue me.

‘Making Movies’  is the often forgotten 3rd studio album by the band released on October 17th, 1980 by Vertigo Records internationally and by Warner Bros. Records in the United States. The album reached #1 on album charts in Italy and Norway, #19 in the United States and #4 in the United Kingdom.

Regardless if this is the album you think of or not by the band and, true, there is no hip MTV chart topper on the album, it is every bit a masterpiece as the others.

I may not exactly have known that back in 1980 – but certainly I know it now.

Without second guitarist David Knopfler, the ‘Straits began to move away from its roots rock origins into a jazzier variation of country-rock and singer/songwriter folk-rock. Naturally, this means that brother Mark’s ambitions as a songwriter are growing, as the storytelling pretensions of ‘Making Movies‘  indicate.  Fortunately, his skills are increasing, as the heart-breakingly lovely ‘Romeo and Juliet‘ (which reached #8 on the UK Singles Chart), the dreamy ‘Tunnel of Love‘, and ‘Skateaway‘  indicate.  The album is helped along by a new wave-tinged pop production, which actually helps Knopfler’s jazzy inclinations take hold.

Perfect early evening music for making mashed ‘taters.

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Drills/Easy Run (6.91k)

This is the run I failed to complete during my recent business trip to Barrie, Ontario earlier this week.  I decided to forgo the cold wind and rain around the Kempenfelt Bay at the time in lieu of fried chicken, a pint of Ixcolti chocolate brown ale and a few quiet chapters of my ‘The Death of Marco Pantani‘ (Matt Rendell) book at the Barnstormer Microbrewery and Restaurant.

C’mon, how good does this look?


Do you friggin’ blame me?

Anyway, what this means then is that I’m running doing my 6.91k drill run this afternoon to my intended dose of Canadianatwing-twang” music  which I had previously prepared for that anticipated run this past Monday, namely, the self-titled album by Blackberry Blossom.


You find anything about this band online, however, they were very near and dear to my hear back around 2003-2005 while I doing my residency as bartender at the Merchant Ale House in downtown St. Catharines.  At it’s nucleus, it was three guys (sometimes four) sitting on bar stools and playing their local-inspired bluegrass music.

This sole release by the band represents a later version featuring four members, one of which is a percussionist, meaning it’s not your typical bluegrass.  The album was recorded by another local musician/artist/friend Joe Lapinski for Yummy Recordings and released in 2005 (I think).

It’s a nice listen providing a very enjoyable stroll (jog) down Memory Lane or, as it is today, the Friendship Trail.  There were some old favorites like the instrumental ‘Down Yonder‘ (complete with nifty Jews harp in the background that I don’t recall ever being played before – alcohol might be a factor), ‘These Days‘  and ‘Indian Summer‘, a particular favorite of mine.   There are also some tunes that I don’t recall being played at all, among these the Toots and the Maytalls cover of ‘Lonely and Thinking of You‘  and an acoustic rendition of ‘The Shooting of Dan MacGrew‘  by Robert W. Service, here delivered in the talking blues style and renamed ‘The Lady That’s Known As Lou‘.

All in all, it was pleasant jog this afternoon (minus the moment when my heart rate monitor mysteriously recorded a heart rate of 240bpm that is), with lots to enjoy today with the autumn colors still in full display; reds, oranges, yellows…and a bit of pink when you take into account the bit of belly peaking out from in between the waist band of my stretchy running tights and my running jersey.

Yes, it’s that time season again for tights.

And I wasn’t the only runner out this afternoon enjoying the autumn color.  Special mention goes to the guy in a full on, old school grey Rocky-style track suit running like he was being chased by a swarm of bees.

It’s good to know that I’m not the only awkward runner out there.

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Sunday Night Vinyl (Part 3)

We’ve moved onto Phase Three of HRH‘s Record Fair purchases – get this – this is one she bought for me because, well, she just knows I love me some David Bromberg.

The ‘How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?‘  album to be specific.


How awesome is this kid?

Forget for a moment that the album cover depicts an overflowing jug of beer.

Some things you just can’t help.

Bromberg has been such an effective sideman for so long, it could be possible to not notice what a wonderful entertainer the man is when he is at center stage.  ‘How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?‘  catches Bromberg and a crack band having a fine time on mostly humorous tunes.

Of course, Bromberg does play guitar throughout the album, but the real attraction here is his bluesy vocal turns and his razor-sharp comedic timing.  Though ‘Will Not Be Your Fool‘  is his signature piece and is very well performed here, the highlight is the incredible ‘Bullfrog Blues‘.  The exact nature of this hilariously rambling talking blues couldn’t be conveyed in anything less than the 16 minutes that Bromberg takes to perform it, and if it could be communicated it shouldn’t, because there are delightful surprises here.  And, well, ‘Sloppy Drunk‘  is amazing song and a regular staple in Bromberg’s canon of live tunes in his regular shows now.

Like all great live albums, ‘How Late’ll Ya Play ‘Til?‘  will make you extremely sad that you weren’t in the audience the night it was recorded, and determined not to repeat the error should the chance present itself.  The shows themselves were captured at both The Great American Music Hall in San Francisco and The Record Plant in Sausalito.

Three amazing picks this afternoon.

I have no idea what I’m doing, but I’m sure glad it’s rubbing off.

Well, the music anyway.

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Sunday Night Vinyl (Part 2)

And now, we’re listening to her second album purchase this afternoon, the ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy‘  by Elton John.


She is eclectic if anything else.

Sitting atop the charts in 1975, Elton John and Bernie Taupin recalled their rise to power in ‘Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy‘, their first explicitly conceptual effort since ‘Tumbleweed Connection‘…my personal favorite album of John’s.

What’s cool really about the album, besides it’s cover being Simply the Tits, is that it works best of a piece, although it entered the charts at #1, this only had one huge hit in ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight‘, which sounds even better here, since it tidily fits into the musical and lyrical themes.

But, hey, with titles like ‘(Gotta Get A) Meal Ticket‘, ‘Writing’ and ‘Bitter Fingers‘, this was originally intended as a kind of concept album, loosely retracing the early careers and rise to fame of John and Bernie. Instead, it emerges as a clash between its singer’s private and public faces, between the songwriter and the showman. ‘Someone Saved My Life Tonight‘  (allegedly about a failed suicide bid) ranks with John’s most tender confessionals and Taupin’s best lyrics; while ‘We All Fall In Love Sometimes’  is a wry and compassionate admission of unrequited romantic longing. But then, there’s a superfluous reworking of ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds‘ (intended, it seemed, simply to commemorate the singer’s newfound friendship with John Lennon) and the defiantly-upbeat ‘Philadelphia Freedom‘. So which was the real Elton?  Tragedienne, or pop tart?  Decades later, the answer is still far from clear.

All HRH knows at the moment is that she loves the line:

“I can hound if I need too / Sip your brandy from a crystal shoe…”

elton2Okay, I guess that’s neat.


I just think that the track ‘Curtains‘  is the total shit.

But what really  makes this a 100% total record score – especially for her collection – is that it also came with the really cool liner booklet complete with lyrics, amazing comics, band photos, and a whole host of other really cool shit that typically gets lost once the record begins to get passed around.

Great find, kiddo!

Chip off the ‘ol block.

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Sunday Night Vinyl (Part 1)

Heard 30 seconds upon entering the Hamilton Record Fair this afternoon:

“Wow!  It totally smells like weed in here”.

Not “Oh boy! RECORDS!”, or “Okay, I’m going over there to look for…”, maybe a “Gee, I really hope if I can find a…yaddayaddayadda”.

Hey, at the very least, how about a:

“Hey, thanks Sir Step-daddy Sir, for bringing me, treating me to breakfast, paying the $5.00 cover charge and, most of all, for not completely loosing your shit when I spilled my Strawberry’s &  Cream Cocoa-Choco-bullshit-Chiller in your car.  You’re the best Step-daddy ever!”


Not my step-daughter.

Right to the calling out of the obvious (at the very near top of her lungs, I might add).

Anyway, maybe she was riding a mild contact high – who knows – but this is the album is she found about 2 minutes, 47 seconds later; something she’d been hunting for unsuccessfully since the early Spring no less:  ‘Foxtrot‘  by Genesis.


Yup…my step-daughter.

Genesis.  Peter Gabriel Genesis.

What can I say?

The girl digs her Prog Rock.

And this is certainly a good album to like if you also dig your Prog Rock.

Foxtrot’  is the 4th studio album by the band, released in October, 1972 on Charisma Records.  The album was recorded following the tour in support of their previous album,’ Nursery Cryme’ (1971). Side two features ‘Supper’s Ready‘, a 23-minute track that is considered a key work in progressive rock and has been described by an “undisputed masterpiece”.  In fact, it’s the song that hooked her in from the backseat of my CRV sometime this past April when it played over the radio. This was the bands greatest commercial and critical success at the time of its release, reaching #12 in the UK and receiving largely positive reviews.  As with their previous two albums, ‘Foxtrot’  initially failed to chart in the United States (stupid yanks!).

Maybe that’s why it’s been so elusive for her up to this point?

Foxtrot‘  is where Genesis began to pull all of its varied inspirations into a cohesive sound – which doesn’t necessarily mean that the album is streamlined, for this is a group that always was grandiose even when they were cohesive, or even when they rocked, which they truly do for the first time here. Indeed, the startling thing about the opening ‘Watcher of the Skies‘  is that it’s arguably the first time that Genesis attacked like a rock band, playing with a visceral power. There’s might and majesty here, and it, along with ‘Get ‘Em Out by Friday‘, is the truest sign that the band grew muscle without abandoning the whimsy.  Certainly, they’ve rarely sounded as fantastical or odd as they do on the epic 22-minute closer ‘Supper’s Ready‘, a nearly side-long suite that remains one of the group’s signature moments. It ebbs, flows, teases, and taunts, see-sawing between coiled instrumental attacks and delicate pastoral fairy tales. If Gabriel remained a rather inscrutable lyricist, his gift for imagery is abundant, as there are passages throughout the album that are hauntingly evocative in their precious prose. But what impresses most about the album is how that precociousness is delivered with pure musical force. This is the rare art-rock album that excels at both the art and the rock, and it’s a pinnacle of the genre (and decade) because of it.

Oh, and most important:  it may or may not smell like weed.

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Saturday Morning Vinyl

It’s been raining cats and dogs for the past two days and, thankfully, the weather has broken some as of this morning.  I have a long swim to still contend with this afternoon before the fam-jam comes over for an impromptu bonfire this evening, so this morning I’m partaking in my favorite weekend activity…house work.


Fortunately, there’s lots  of coffee on hand.

So the current vinyl accompaniment for doing laundry, vacuuming, sweeping, recycling, straightening up, etc., is the debut self-titled album by Dire Straits.


Dire Straits’ minimalist interpretation of pub rock had already crystallized by the time they released their eponymous debut.  Remember now, that this album is 37 years old, being released in 1980.

HRH  recognizes the band as one of her granddad’s favorites.

And rightly so.

Driven by Mark Knopfler’s spare, tasteful guitar lines and his husky warbling, the album is a set of bluesy rockers. And while the bar band mentality of pub-rock is at the core of Dire Straits – even the group’s breakthrough single, ‘Sultans of Swing‘, easily one of favorite songs of all time*, offered a lament for a neglected pub rock band – their music is already beyond the simple boogies and shuffles of their forefathers, occasionally dipping into jazz and country.  Knopfler also shows an inclination toward Dylan-esque imagery, which enhances the smoky, low-key atmosphere of the album.  Few of the songs ever fall flat, a remarkable accomplishment for a debut, and the Straits had difficulty surpassing it later in their career…until the big ‘Money for Nothing‘ MTV anthem of course.

But this album is so much more than the big ‘Sultans‘ track, oh yes.  ‘Down to the Waterline‘, ‘Six Blade Knife‘, and ‘Water of Love‘ are all incredible in their own forthright.  I am also very partial to ‘In the Gallery‘  as well.  So, yeah, 37 years later and this album still cooks.  Not that I ever saw myself ever doing housework to in those past 37 years later but, hey, what’ya gonna do?

*In fact, when I lived in London, U.K. years ago, I even had the extremely good fortune to be wandering around Soho in the rain and ducked into a pub where, unbeknownst to me, Knopfler and the boys were playing to a very small crowd.  And, yes, they played this tune.  the uber-irony of the lyrics, location and current atmospheric conditions raging outside were not lost on me.

It was certainly one of my favorite concert experiences, like, ever.

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Tempo Run (7.75k)

Yesterday’s planned bike ride around Barrie, Ontario to see the magnificent autumn colors did not happen seeing as how it was pissing down cats and dogs all day and today, the weather hasn’t changed one iota.  What this consequently means then is that for the second week in a row – I’m taking my weekly tempo run to the treadmill; unprecedented, I know.  You see, I’m not ready to tank my (*knocks on wood*) good health by running in the cold wind and rain…yet, anyway.  So today’s progression through 3 x 15 minute intervals is being run indoors to the ‘Confessions of a Knife‘  album by My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult.


This 2nd album my the techno-industrial ensemble was released in 1990 on WaxTrax!.  I loved this album back in high school after hearing the song ‘Confessions Of A Knife (theme part II)‘ which featured multiple audio samples of dialogue from a movie I was really into at the time, George A. Romero’s ‘Day of the Dead’.

Okay, so I was a little morbid back then.

The album mixes up a healthy dose of funky and organic instrumentation to create industrial music that’s more extreme disco than house.  A pulsing bass guitar propels the album, adding a rhythmic and textural depth to the group’s sample- and synth-laden sound.  Highlight tracks include ‘A Daisy Chain 4 Satan (Acid and Flowers Mix)‘  and ‘The Days of Swine and Roses‘, both of which fueled my last all-out 15 minute interval.  Each of the disc’s first six cuts possess a fine balance of nihilistic intensity and structural finesse. The momentum fades a bit as ‘Rivers of Blood, Years of Darkness‘, a below-average remix of ‘Kooler Than Jesus‘,  and ‘Burning Out‘ languish in a repetitiveness that the record fails to break out of.  However, with a bit of clever playlist manipulation on my iPod, they formed a great warm up through the 1st 15 minute interval before amping things up into the run.

Special mention also has to be made about hitting the 6.66k mark on the treadmill while listening to a chorus of “Christian, Zombie, Vampire…”

Nope.  Nothing weird about that.

002I must say though, that this afternoon’s “dreadmill run” wasn’t as bad as the one I did last week.  Once I consoled myself that the intent of this run was to work on fast foot turnover (cadence) as opposed to distance/pace per se, the boredom was an easier pill to swallow.

Also, I learned that you can better pass the time doing some “visualization” exercises which is what I did this afternoon for the 7.75k worth of tempo running.  Today’s visualization was a “re-do” of the Incredoubleman weekend (click HERE) where instead of listening to the little devil on my shoulder and breaking down, I maintained my strong pace and then even managed to pull further ahead of my competitors for the last 15 minutes of the half marathon…just as I wished it would have transpired on that day instead of, well, just read the story I guess.

Anyway, the run was a success (well, I’m choosing to mark it as a success as far as treadmill runs go) and I did manage hang on to the last 15 minutes at a sub 5:20min/km pace to secure my 1st place finish and, now, the reward is an amazing Cuban sandwich from The Kitchen here in Ridgeway.

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