Thick As A Brick

Without our fearless leader, Darcie and I are left floundering in the dark. Onwards (see what I did there? 🙂

 

A  long time ago, for some reason, I was looking for some new music (to me) that was keyboard heavy. What I was looking for at the time, and didn’t realize it until recently was a group that had what I like to call the “heavy organ” sound. That’s not an original phrase. I got that from Virgil Fox.

I went down to my favourite record store, and found an album where one of the instruments used on it was a “mellotron” I knew that was a keyboard of some type so I thought I’d give the album a try.

I also knew the album wasn’t going to be a total wash because it was Jethro Tull’s “Aqualung” I liked that particular song. Albums back then had the unique quality of having more than one good song (that was the release single). I could get lucky and the whole album was good.

And it, was, but not my favourite Tull album.

The second Jethro Tull album I picked up was “Thick As A Brick”. My copy pictured below:

tab1-folded

If it looks like the top half a a folded newspaper, that’s because it is. Sort of. It’s a clever take on a gatefold  album cover, if you open it up, un-fold it, it looks like this:

tab1-unfolded

And if you, open it up like a newspaper it looks like this (this is page 1 and 2):

tab1-openp1

 

And this is page the last page:

tab1-lastpage11

You’d have to zoom in to the top right hand corner of the right hand page. But it says “11”

(ok that was weird. I’ve written two 11 references today, totally unintentional)

This was a parody of concept albums at the time. But ended up being one of the best selling concept albums of 1972. And I’m guessing the irony is not lost on the genius that is Ian Anderson.

It’s one continuous piece of music over two sides of a vinyl album. Of course on CD and live it plays much better.

In 2012 a “sequel” was released by Ian Anderson, called “Thick As A Brick 2”. I’m not sure if it was ever released on vinyl, BUT:

tab1+2

From left to right (top row): The box of this box set, “Thick As A Brick” original album, but non-gatefold sleeve.

Bottom row: “Thick As A Brick 2” (in vinyl!), hard cover booklet (which happens to contain all the text of the original “newspaper” from the gatefold version, plus notes, photos, etc. As far a i know you can’t get this anymore. (Amazon, etc.)

When  Jethro Tull toured for this album, they played the in its entirety. That would have been some show to see. They are one of the few bands that can duplicate their album sound (other’s include Yes, Deep Purple)

After TAAB2 was released, Ian Anderson did at least one show of the contents of both albums:

tab-ice

This is, of course, is the 3 album set on vinyl of the concert, 2, cd’s (that were included in the numbered copy (mine is 475 of 3000), and I also picked up the Blu-ray of it.

I haven’t listened to it yet. Saving it for a rainy day. 🙂

 

T.REX – Greatest Hits

We used to have a regular indoor mall where I live. They turned it into an “outdoor mall”.

This is just a theory, but I have this idea that, City councils, city planners, and architects get together every once and while, and design, plan and execute the stoopid effing dumb things they come up with.

No matter how often we vote out the wasteoids, the replacements do the same thing.

One of the greatest hits (see what i did there?)  they came up with was a massive facelift to one of our regular indoor malls

.

So instead of strolling around the mall, maybe take your coffee  to one of the many tables or benches that were scattered throughout, maybe look over your purchases that day…or just hang out, you don’t.

The outdoor mall concept kills that. And replaces it with stoopid dumb effing parking.

So anyway, way…waaaaay back when it was a real mall, it used to have a store called “Tape Mart”. I gather from the name they intended to specialize in cassettes (millennials look that up….and it’s relation to the pencil),

[as an side, i liken that last comment to giving a dog a cracker with peanut butter on both sides to keep it busy while the adults talk]

I probably went into the store maybe twice, it didn’t really have a good record selection which could be why it went out of business before the mall did it’s magical stoopid transformation.

After I had picked up a copy of the The Slider i was on the desperate hunt for T.REX albums. I knew there was more because of that  Encyclopedia of Rock book, but I knew they were rare.

It was the summer and suddenly I remembered that this Tape Mart place had a T.REX album I didn’t have. I scrounged up a lot of change and ran to the bus stop just down from where I lived.

Ran into the mall and into the store, and tada, there is was. The last copy, now my copy, pictured below:

T REX GreatestHits2R

This was a double album set. And while it contained T.REX hits (current up to the release of that album) it had Tyrannosaurus Rex “hits” also.

Before Marc Bolan shorted the name, the band was an flower power acoustic duo with Tolkienesqe themes for songs. I had never heard any of those songs, and to be fair they are an acquired taste, some are catchy, but back then Marc Bolan was doing a Mungo Jerry style of vocals, that doesn’t really appeal to me.

[sigh, millenials look up Mungo Jerry in the summertime]

ok sorry, in joke dolphin laugh there.

One of the things that Marc Bolan did, was that he would not release singles (aka 45’s at the time)  of songs that could be found on the currently released album. So you literally had to buy the 45’s if you wanted those songs. You wouldn’t feel ripped off by buying songs you already had on the album. Of course later albums, like the one pictured above would gather the various singles and put them on the 33 but you had to wait for that.

One of the other things Bolan did was put 3 songs on a 45, most releases have one song on Side A, and one on Side B. T.REX singles had your main release on Side A, and 2 other songs on Side B. He probably drove record companies crazy doing that.

Marc Bolan didn’t want to rip off the fans, record companies be damned.

So that one was my third T.REX album. I was in the lead.

Liona Boyd != Twisted Sister

After reading Everything Now I wanted to relate some of my own concert experiences…sorry Darcie, stealing your idea ‘cause i have to crank out two of these before the end of the month. 🙂

The very first concert I ever went to was in Edmonton, it was Liona Boyd. She’s Canadian, a classical guitarist (knows as The First Lady of the Guitar). She was one of the best  classical guitarists in the world, she had a very unique style that I haven’t seen any one else attempt successfully.

She now suffers from Focal dystonia,  which is what Keith Emerson also had.

I went with a friend, and he knew that my favourite band was T.REX, but at the time I was also getting into what I like to call “progressive metal”. This is heavy metal, but not done by morons.

A perfect example is the group Iron Maiden. Yes it’s heavy metal, but it’s not simple music. Early Deep Purple, early Black Sabbath could be considered progressive metal. I think even Metallica could fall into that category. Anyway, that’s the kind of stuff I was listening to when I went to see Liona Boyd.

My friend and I thoroughly enjoyed the concert, we were both guitar fans, so it was a no brainer to go.

When we were waiting for the bus to get back home (Edmonton has one of the best bus systems in Canada even later on at night) he said I was the only person who could go to a Liona Boyd concert and then go home and listen to two hours of Twisted Sister.

He was right.

After I moved I went to see her in the local theatre four or five more times.

I went to see KISS in Ottawa, it was the second “reunion” tour. So my review would go something like: “It was the second reunion tour”. ‘Nuff said.

I’m leading to something here, stick with me if you’re eyes haven’t  glazed over yet.

My wife and I went to see Blue Man Group at the local large venue centre we have here. I had been a fan of theirs way before anybody else when i first saw them on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. That live show was a lot of fun.

We saw the stage play Jesus Christ Superstar at the same venue. Ted Neely was still doing the show and his voice was still able to crank it out. The show was so good that I tell people I would have walked out of the building, turned around, paid twice as much and watched it all over again and not thought twice about doing it.

The next show we saw was Steve Howe. He was the second guitarist for the progressive rock band Yes. If he had come up to me before the show started and asked for a set list of what he should play I would have given him the exact songs he played…and pretty much in that order. He is one of those artists you don’t ever expect to be able to see if you live in a smallish town.

Then we saw The Stampeders. They are a great Canadian band that had their biggest success in the early ’70’s. I wasn’t as familiar with their music as I should have been. Something i’ve rectified since the show. The very first Stampeders song I heard and one of my favourites of their’s is one called “Ramona”. It’s a heavier tune than most of their music, so I didn’t really expect them to do it at the show, because frankly, you’re talking about an older audience of fans going to see them, and that might  not sit well.

But they performed the song. Not only that but the whole audience participation thing they did for the song was great. Was worth three times the price of admission. Just that one song. The next time they were in town we saw them again, no hesitation about buying tickets.

Once our town got it’s large entertainment venue, bigger acts started showing up. Elton John, Deep Purple, Heart.

I’m not a big enough fan of Elton John’s to actually buy tickets as I am of the latter two. But I chose not to.

Here’s why. I can’t speak for everyone that likes classic rock, but you get a picture and sound in your head of your favourite groups, and you want to keep it.

You do NOT want to see that shattered. Ok yes, the band members get older. With musicians, they  maybe not jump around like they used to but they can still play, and usually better because they’ve played the songs so many times that it’s second nature for them on stage.

And here is where the disappointment starts. When I  went to see KISS in Ottawa, Ace Frehley’s guitar solo was…embarrassing.

Because of Liona Boyd’s medical condition her shows could now  be best described as singing poetry. Which is not what I would want to see from one of the best classical guitarists in the world.

And even though Ian Gillan is back  with Deep Purple, Ritchie Blackmore isn’t (and i’m sorry fans, Steve Morse just isn’t cutting it for me). Jon Lord is no longer with us either. He’d be 50% of the reason I’d pay to see the band. Ian Gillan doesn’t have the pipes any more to crank out “Child in Time”….but he still sings it.  The word i’m looking for is: Fremdschämen. It’s a German word that basically means you’re embarrassed for someone else.

You can find videos on youtube of Gillan cranking that out if you want to see what I mean…check out the “before” videos, then check out the later ones. Fremdschämen. Just sayin’.

As for Heart, Ann Wilson can still crank it out. I heard that the show they did here was really good, but it was from someone who was not “musically informed” (read the previous blog if you don’t know what  i mean”) so i take that with a grain of salt. I might be tempted next time [if] they show.

The other group I’d be hesitant to pay for is Jethro Tull. As musicians, Ian Anderson has always had band members with the musical chops, so no real worries there. But his voice…it wasn’t that he can’t crank out the high notes, because that really wasn’t his style of singing, it was the lower register he seems to have a problem with. I read somewhere that he had a vocal chord injury, so that may have something to do with it.

If they did play locally though, I think I might get over it, and see them at least once. Bands from the 70’s who don’t really have to promote a new album, tend to play their classics.

And some bands, it’s sad to say, absolutely suck live. Just listen to any Rolling Stones bootleg…even my favourite band, T.REX doesn’t really sound good live.

The best live bands, imho are those that can recreate their album sound in a live venue (Deep Purple, Yes, Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd)

Those are all classic 70’s bands…hmm, i sense a pattern.

musically informed

Two of the very first songs i remember hearing and liking were “Come and Get It” by Badfinger and “Gotta See Jane” by R. Dean Taylor.

My very  first album, was a K-Tel album called “Out of Sight”. I saw it advertised on TV and got it for my birthday one year. My sister got a portable turntable (we called them “record players” back then) for christmas. I’m pretty sure i used that turntable more than she did. I played that album on her record player hundreds of times. The K-Tel album that came after that was called “Sounds Spectacular” and i played that hundreds of times also. Interesting to note that the Canadian versions of those albums had a much better track listing than the U.S. versions. Probably because of the Canadian content that legally had to be used.

I will do a K-Tel blog at some point because there are 3 of them that heavily influenced my musical choices.

These albums were my introduction to the world of pop/rock music. I had a friend who lived a few doors down who was heavily into Black Sabbath, another friend from school opened my eyes to ZZ Top, Rod Stewart, and KISS.

Friends of my sister’s made sure I heard my share of Donny Osmond, Bay City Rollers, and Leif Garrett (all the guys i knew said “leaf” but we’d get shouted down with “IT’S LAYFE” . The girls were vehement about it) . I already had a Partridge Family album, so i was covered there.

In shop class, I was hit with bad air/voice guitar versions of Nazareth songs (This Flight  Tonight, and Deep Purple (uh, Smoke on the Water).

the local community TV channel did a dj radio thing on friday nights from 8pm to midnight, and I heard Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”, Moody Blues “Nights in White Satin”, Robin Trower’s “Bridge of Sighs”. In the space of four short years i got a musical education.

All of that was when i lived in Shilo, Manitoba (like i said in an earlier blog, my formative years 🙂 )

When you are an army brat and you move, you get to start your new life with no friends in a place you don’t know and maybe don’t even like. For me i was able to compensate with lots of reading and listening to the radio. and i was lucky to be able to hit that record store i mentioned (Used Grooves) , so my album collection started to grow.

A soon to be friend moved in across  the street and he had an extensive record collection (looked like all pristine brand new albums too), but more  than that he had a book. It was a book called “The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock”. My copy pictured below.

Encofrock

This book is pure rock music gold. I know this because this particular edition can be bought second hand for between $75 US and $3000 US. That second number was not a typo.

I read it from cover to cover. I read about groups i already liked. I read about groups i didn’t know I was about to like. I read about groups whose albums i wouldn’t buy till decades later.

My biggest revelation about reading all this musical information what that it stuck. I simply remembered most of what i read; dates that albums were released, complete discographies of classic rock groups, and band lineups for same.

if you are into classic rock and have any kind of record collection you want this book. you need this book. get a copy, you will thank me later.

Having said that you need a specific version of this book. If you go to Amazon you’ll find the “fifth edition”, the “6th edition”  or the “7th edition”. But if the “fifth edition is any indication of the way the book content was going, you can save your money. I have a copy of the fifth, but the  edition i’m raving about is  either the second or the third. it says “New Edition” so  i think it’s the second, the copyright date is 1976. The photo of the book above is the one you want.

[later: I think i found both the 2nd and 3rd, so i’ll update this blog when they come in.]

As good as the book is, it does omit  Canadian groups; Lighthouse, Stampeders, April Wine, Rush, Gordon Lightfoot and Heart (who were thought to be Canadian at one point), but does include Neil Young. There is a book called “Heart of Gold” which is a great history of Canadian music, worth having  if you like Canadian groups. Subsequent editions of the  encyclopedia  included the Canadian content, but sucked in other ways.

Fast forward a few years and we had to move again to Edmonton. Because army brat. one night when hanging out with a few of my sister’s friends (i had none of my own), one particular guy (that’s you Brian F.) (and his friend, whose name i think was Mike) started talking about music.

When i start talking about classic rock, i’m pretty much non-stop. friends just roll their eyes now, but at the table we were sitting around that night i had a captive audience. My sister told me a few days later that Mike couldn’t believe how much i knew about music (he was referring to classic rock of course).

At one point Brian asks me what i think about the group Yes.  I could tell by the way he asked that it was his favourite group. I told him that the only song i really knew was their song Roundabout (it’s off the Fragile album if you wanted some context) . I said i liked the song but for the most part i was  unfamiliar with progressive music.

Of course i told them my favourite group was T.REX but as i’ve come to get used to  that elicits blank stares from most people, that night wasn’t any different.

My answer seemed to satisfy him, but later we would talk more and more about music he introduced me to progressive music through his favourite group. he tried to get me to Genesis (in their progrock days) but that didn’t stick (sorry Brian, still no)

Anyway, one day his mom drove us to Edmonton public library.

I don’t know what it’s like now but at one point it had the most traffic of any library in North America. It was on one end of the LRT (University of Alberta was the other end at the time). It had 3 or 4 floors of to it.

One floor was dedicated entirely to music. If you’ve ever been to Sam the Record Man in Toronto (the one with the two huge neon signs that looked like spinning vinyl, you know the size i’m talking about. This was X 4. It. Was. Huge.

You were allowed to take out 10 albums at a time. Brian walked me through the process of getting my library card and the library in general. Kid in a candy store. 🙂

On the way there, Brian was riding shotgun, i was in the back seat and  Brian turned around to me and said “she’s musically informed by the way”  referring to his mom this was a term he coined with the obvious meaning.

I was impressed. none of my other friend’s (in the last place i lived)  mom’s could make that claim.

Since then i’ve only run into 3 people (one of my bosses from work, one person i used to work with years ago, and  my wife) who could make that claim (and not to toot my own horn) but they still have a ways to go 🙂

 

The Slider

After bringing over my copy of Electric Warrior to a friends place and playing it for him, he seemed indifferent.

The only thing i can think of is that i had something he didn’t, because next time i’m over he wanted to play me his copy of The Slider. So i returned the favour and really didn’t listen to it while it played. Of course later I went down to Sam The Record Man and ordered my own copy pictured below.

TheSider

The Slider (1972) is the next T.REX album after Electric Warrior (1971). it’s their third album. it is much more “produced” then Electric Warrior. The cover photo is of the singer/songwriter/guitar player of T.REX, Marc Bolan. The liner notes say that the photo was taken by Ringo Starr (millennials: he was one of The Beatles). But later information and probably not that well known, was that T.REX producer, Tony Visconti (also David Bowie’s producer for some albums) took the original photo. It was taken during (afaik) the making of the T.REX documentary Born To Boogie, directed by Ringo Starr.

i originally didn’t know any of the songs on the album and it’s another album I’ve played more than a thousand times (that’s more than one zero zero zero (1000) for you millennials).

The original releases of both those albums came in gatefold sleeves, but re-issues used a single sleeve. I have several editions of this album also.

Do i like this one better than Electric Warrior? ooh, that’s a tough one. my “desert island” pick probably wouldn’t be either one of these two (see the reason in my next entry).  I would definitely put this in my top 10 album list.

Almost all the of the T.REX albums i’m  going to talk about are on Spotify.

Electric Warrior

So my blogging cohorts (i’m looking at *YOU*   JulieOnwards decided to up the and ante increase the blogs we had to write a month to 3, AND we have to include an image in one of them.  And  Darcie  agreed.

Ok…Game on.

A long time ago a friend of mine told me I would probably like a group called “T.REX”.  At the time my three favourite groups (no hating) where KISS, Black Sabbath, and ABBA. In that order.

Each one of those choices will have it’s own blog (later ‘cause i’m inspired to crank out music related blogs for a while)

I had as much interest in listening to music outside of my comfort zone as having a complete collection of disco albums (although disco as it’s known today didn’t exist then). Oh, i will rant about disco later. don’t worry.

So I didn’t think about it again for about 2 years. And then a disco version of “Bang  A Gong” (a T.REX song) by a group called Witch Queen played on one of our local radio stations. It sounded vaguely familiar and it wasn’t long after that i heard the real version by T.REX. I remembered my friend had mentioned this group so i thought i would pick up the album it was on. second hand of course, i wasn’t about to put out full price for an album i wasn’t sure of. i didn’t take any musical chances back then. but i did want to check out the group.

I used to frequent a store called “Used Grooves’ that sold second hand vinyl albums. Every saturday i would go through every single record bin they had. Every saturday for a couple of years. A lot of the albums that i saw on a regular were Led Zeppelin’s first three albums, Babe Ruth’s first three albums, Fleetwood Mac albums,  Thor’s “Keep the Dogs Away”, and T.REX’s “Electric Warrior”.

Electric Warrior

I was pretty sure they’d have a copy of it for something like $1.95 CAN. I went down to the store, went to the “T” section…and it wasn’t there. In retrospect i can see this was foreshadowing. T.REX albums were notoriously hard to find in Canada.

They had a “remaindered” bin in the centre of the small store. albums that didn’t sell or hung around too long. as a last resort i checked in the “T” section. and there it was. i got it for $0.50. Image above is the that album (i put a plastic sleeve on it a few years after).

Back then i used to listen to every album i just bought on headphones. very rarely did i not use headphones. The reason is, my first experience with headphones was listening to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. So yeah, i was spoiled for headphones early on 🙂

The very first song on the first side of the album (vinyl, remember) is a song called “Mambo Sun”.

It. Blew. Me. Away.

right then and there, my favourite group was T.REX. sure I bought the album for “Bang A Gong” but that first song did it for me. i was hooked. and i had it bad. yes, the song i bought it for was good…but that first song. my EEG’s would have been off the chart. my spine tingled. it would influence my musical choices from then till now.

i would be very surprised if i’ve played that album less than a thousand times. i probably played it 5 or 6 times that first night. i know every note on it. last year on Record Store Day i bought a die cut cover version of it. I listen to the album probably once a month.

Having said all that, it’s not my favourite T.REX album. it has a special place because it’s my first T.REX album, but not my favourite…stay tuned.

Record Store Day

I’m back from processing my orders/finds from Record Store Day 2018. I actually got up “early” on a weekend to go 🙂

My three favourite bands are T.REX (be a longer post about them later),  Jethro Tull, and Deep Purple/Rainbow. yes, all British bands. 

I was able to get limited editions of all of them.

Other bands I collect are Hawkwind (which it seems very few people ever heard of), and Uriah Heep. yup, British bands there, too. See a theme? With the exception of Jazz and some Canadian bands (I’m from the Great White North) most north american music sucks dead bunnies. loud. I got lucky and got Record Store Day editions also.

Today. Was. A. Good. Day. 🙂

I also picked up a remastered “Dark Side of The Moon”. If that title means nothing to you don’t worry, just means you  know practically nothing when it comes to music…and probably never will.

A colleague at work introduced me to Sigur Rós and  I found the #RecordStoreDay album with “Olsen Olson” on it. They are an Icelandic band with  very unique sound. I’m also a big fan of #Pristine a Norwegian (my kin 🙂 ) Blues/rock band. Nothing from them today though.