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Rones Bones (Ottawa, Ontario)

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Dawning of a New Era
Dawning of a New Era
2 used & new from CDN$ 113.08

4.0 out of 5 stars Great comp of the early reggae beat, May 31 2010
This review is from: Dawning of a New Era (Audio CD)
Though this is obviously a compilation focused on the late-60's music that found favour with the original skinheads in the UK, the overwhelming bulk of this compilation is comprised of authentic Jamaican-made reggae and rocksteady, with a healthy sprinkling of UK recorded material by Jamaican ex-pats or their offspring.

If you like the slightly more upbeat reggae of late-60's Lee Perry material or songs like Harry J Allstars "Liquidator", this set will please your ears. Organs and horns dominate on the many instrumental cuts. Tommy McCook's "Tommy's Dream" is a particularly fantastic cut, Karl Bryan's "Soul Scorcher" sounds like a lost Studio One classic, and The Crystalites "Splash Down" is an awesome instrumental of the backing track to The Kingstonians "Sufferer". The vocal cuts are great as well. The Kingstonians "Mix it Up" and the Pioneers songs contain some first class Jamaican vocal harmonies and there's an early Junior Murvin song, a good 7 or 8 years before "Police and Thieves". The UK recorded material sits nicely with the Jamaican material, which is a nice surprise since a lot of UK reggae from this period can sometimes either lack in authenticity, or sound gimmicky by overdoing the sound of the organ or repeating lines from hit-making Jamaican deejays. The Dandy cut "Rock Steady Gone" is a catchy song about the shifting musical landscape from rocksteady to reggae.

You don't need to be a skinhead to enjoy this set. It's a great time capsule of a brief sound in reggae history (1968-69), before the pace slowed down, the music became more sparse, and roots/Rastafarian lyricism really took hold.

Where the Action Is!...
Where the Action Is!...
Price: CDN$ 53.42
15 used & new from CDN$ 53.41

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Mixed bag depending on your preferences, May 27 2010
This review is from: Where the Action Is!... (Audio CD)
Where The Action Is!, the fifth installment in the 4-disc box set Nuggets series by Rhino, is a good set of mid-to-late 60's garage, folk-rock, pop, and psychedelia. It follows the same musical territories as the previous sets but with its focus on Los Angeles and the surrounding suburbs. Los Angeles was a very fertile music scene during the time period in focus on this set: from the world-renowned folk-rock of the Byrds and Love, to the copious amounts of garage bands in the burbs, to the studio wizardry of producers, and the emergence of soon-to-be household names in the music industry. And while there is plenty for everybody on this set, depending on your personal preferences, you could very well be grinning ear-to-ear after one disc and seething after the next. The good news is that the set is broken down into four discs that follow a similar theme and style for each one, thus making it easy to decide which you might ignore or go through skipping a lot. Like the San Francisco set, this box has included household names (The Byrds, The Doors, Jackie DeShannon, Del Shannon, The Beach Boys, Buffalo Springfield...) but fortunately included songs that aren't the ones you here on oldies stations or FM classic rock.

Disc 1: Deals with the bands playing on the strip. One of my favourites since it contains the wonderful folk-rock of the Byrds, Love, and others while including some fantastic garage (The Seeds, The Music Machine, The Standells) and early psychedelic (pre-Sgt. Pepper's in most cases, like Peanut Butter Conspiracy and West Coast Pop Experimental Band). It's a wonderfully unique mix of styles that hold together as a cohesive unit quite well.

Disc 2: Focuses on the surrounding suburbs of LA, which means that it's comprised primarily of raw garage punk and the stuff that made the first Nuggets box so great. It's my personal favourite of the four discs (since I prefer the garage rock to all the other styles). The opening song, "Jump, Jive and Harmonize" by Thee Midniters, is probably one of the most raucous tracks from the decade (is it possible that they out-Sonic the Sonics?) and The Premiers "Get On This Plane" is another solid, fuzz-drenched rocker. The more psychedelic, but haunting, "Eternal Prison" by The Humane Society (the progenitors of the psychotic "Knock, Knock" on the first box set) is a must-have song.

Disc 3: This disc focuses on studio experimentation, producers, and various session players/arrangers/songwriters). The disc opens with the rocking Raiders-like "Action Action Action" by Keith Allison, and continues rather well, albeit sporadically, for the next couple songs with some pop and early songs by bigger names (Mamas and the Papas, Jan & Dean) and then progresses into the kind of music that turns me off and ultimately leaves me depressed: bad Sgt. Pepper's-type imitations, pop-psych, and outright boring pop music. If this style is to your taste, you might love disc 3, but for me, at least 3/4 of this disc is unlistenable.

Disc 4: Labelled as "New Directions", this disc seems to essentially sum up the music from discs 1 and 3 and starts to show some country-rock directions and singer/songwriter material. While, like disc 3, the majority of this disc doesn't do it for me, it does contain some genuinely great music like Gene Clark's "Los Angeles", The Byrds, and (to my surprise) Randy Newman's original recording of "Last Night I Had A Dream" that sounds absolutely nothing like his piano-based music; it's an outright rock song (tinges of garage, psych, and country abound).

The complaint about the packaging that I've read about elsewhere is legit, but not as drastic as some have made it out to be. The CD inserts at the back do leave scuff marks on the discs and the liner notes don't contain the lengthy and informative essays that the first Nuggets sets included, but the track information is on par and the printing quality and assortment of pics and memoribilia are as one would expect for the series.

Worth buying, but not essential...depending on your tastes of course!

Hold Me Tight: Anthology 1965-1973
Hold Me Tight: Anthology 1965-1973

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Delightful music, Aug. 26 2009
Lyn Taitt's guitar playing on the first disc, overtop of stellar rocksteady rhythms, evokes the feelings of a breezy summer day or sitting on a tropical beach in the sun. Anyone who'd rail against music like this must be one disgruntled individual. The beauty is inherent in its simplicity.

The second disc is a nice compilation of classic and lesser known rocksteady songs by classic and lesser known vocalists and singing groups. They all, of course, feature Lyn Taitt as the session guitarist. Not the greatest rocksteady compilation, but a perfect complement to the first disc. "Fat Girl In Red" and "Right On Time" are stellar.

Let the Dominoes Fall (Expanded Version)
Let the Dominoes Fall (Expanded Version)
Price: CDN$ 26.77
17 used & new from CDN$ 18.95

2.0 out of 5 stars 'Dominoes' is a weak album; bonus disc is better, Aug. 26 2009
Let me first state that I don't think Let The Dominoes Fall is terrible, because it does have some worthwhile music, and it is a little better than their last album, Indestructible. However, if I had picked this up without the bonus disc, I'd have been really disappointed.

Let The Dominoes Fall (the album itself, not the bonus disc) basically takes a half-step back from Indestructible but is in no way a return to form. While the ska-punk tracks, particularly Up To No Good (featuring Stax maestro Booker T Jones), are almost as good as anything they've done in the past, the actual punk rock on this album is weak. I can find some enjoyment in songs like East Bay Night and Last One to Die for their simplicity and catchiness, but other than that the punk is either corny or just nowhere near their older material. Sorry Lars, but lyrics like "Black, white, or purple, we're all punk rock...", while nice in their intentions, seem very contrived and outright corny. Sorry Matt Freeman, those "Boom-shaka-laka-booms" in LA River ruin what would otherwise be a decent Freeman rocker. Lars is up to his tired old self in New Orleans. Dude, you've lyrically been writing the same songs since the first Bastards album. That was 8 years ago! The only other song on the album that really stands out is the Dylan-esque Civilian Ways; a breath of fresh air from all the over-the-top posturing and over-production.

What makes this package worthwhile is the bonus disc. It's not the greatest "acoustic" or "folk" CD around by any stretch, but it's actually a nice glimpse of a band stripping their sound down to it's bare minimum and in other spots incorporating mandolin and other folk instrumentation. The bonus disc actually serves to indicate how overdone the album versions of some songs are, which is pretty sad considering this isn't the album but the bonus disc of different versions and album throw-aways. It shouldn't be the best part of this package!

The Rockers Story: the Mystica
The Rockers Story: the Mystica
Price: CDN$ 39.55
15 used & new from CDN$ 38.39

4.0 out of 5 stars Music for the mind and soul., July 27 2009
What can be written about the immaculate Pablo that hasn't already been said by the already initiated. The man made some of the most reflective, introspective, moody, and dubbed out music of not just reggae, but any genre. Minor keys haunt throughout the multitude of dics in this collection and are complemented by a thorough selection of major key material. This is spiritual roots music beyond compare and a testament to what made Pablo a genius in his time: Instrumentals that speak volumes to the soul without a word, and plenty of vocal tracks by reggae stars and more obscure performers alike. The use of the melodica and clavinet give the reflective instrumentals a delightfully eerie and transcendent quality. The only downside to this collection is the half-disc worth of later and subpar digital music from the Pablo catalogue. It does provide a more complete picture of the man's music and diversity, but the later material pales in comparison to the material from the early seventies to the early eighties.

If you haven't heard Pablo's music before, join the initiated and see what the accolades are all about.

In the Future
In the Future
Price: CDN$ 18.43
19 used & new from CDN$ 9.15

4.0 out of 5 stars One foot in the past and one in the future, July 20 2009
This review is from: In the Future (Audio CD)
I had the recent fortune of happening upon Black Mountain at a local music festival on one of the smaller stages. My friend and I wandered the grounds hoping to find a band worthy of parking ourselves for the remainder of the evening. After quickly leaving a really boring Lynyrd Skynyrd on the main stage, we stumbled upon Black Mountain. We were instantly captivated.

I'm very selective when it comes to psychedelic music. It is often very naive and frankly, plain silly. I'm also generally against really long songs. They tend to be self-indulgent and boring. Not Black Mountain. This is highly creative psychedelic rock that remains captivating whether rocking out or mellowing out. It is rooted in the past but all the while looking to the future. It's well beyond the label of revivalist. The interplay between McBean's vocals and Webber's vocals and the addition of organ and 70's style keyboard sounds really help to create a hazy atmosphere amidst a throbbing rhythm section and often hard-edged but ear-tingling guitar.

At one point a band member thanked the crowd for seeing them instead of Lynyrd Skynyrd. I say thanks for giving me a far superior option and treating me to one of the better live shows I've seen in a long time. Indeed, now I have a new band to add to my music collection.

21st Century Breakdown
21st Century Breakdown
Price: CDN$ 16.20
49 used & new from CDN$ 1.49

4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the hype, July 17 2009
This review is from: 21st Century Breakdown (Audio CD)
I bought this album because I'm a Green Day fan. I have been for a little over fifteen years, since I was in my first year of high school. I'm getting older but have not abandoned the things I grew up with, Green Day being one of them. I remember feeling a slight sense of letdown when I first played American Idiot on my stereo. The political point to that album was not lost on me, even if the narrative was at times vague. I was more dissapointed in songs like "Blvd of Broken Dreams", "Wake Me Up When Sept Ends", and such. "Why must they turn this corner?" I asked myself. I can enjoy ballads and emotionally motivated songs, but these were just sap. On the other hand I found epic songs like "Jesus of Suburbia" and "Holiday", as well as standard Green Day fare like "American Idiot". I hoped that they'd follow it up with something more honest and in what I considered more their style. With the release of 21st Century Breakdown it was mostly a 21st Century Letdown.

Seeing and hearing Green Day these days, it has become apparent that after releasing International Superhits and Shenanigans, the band bookended roughly their first 10 years and set out to conquer the kids of today and maybe hope that the kids of yesterday, like myself, would just continue to follow (or, after less sales of Warning than expected, decided to bid us adieu). Pity. They used to be great.

This is not to say that musically the band is dead to me, or that I grudgingly buy their albums, but that 21st Century Breakdown feels like nothing more than a vague liberal rallying cry to a generation of kids set to generally bland songs with the occasional, clearly derivative, balladry. It borders on the disposable quality of much modern rock and pop punk music that populates airwaves and downloads today. I'm not adverse to a band expanding their musical horizons and I feel Green Day did a great job of that partially on Nimrod and fully on Warning. Even their successful leap to the mainstream for the breakout album Dookie marked a change from their old Lookout releases. But the last two albums, especially 21st Century Breakdown just feel too contrived and too desperate an attempt to latch themselves to legendary boomer bands like The Who and The Beatles (whom I think are great bands). Politically, and as a liberal myself, I find the politics of the album wanting of actual substance. The narrative does nothing to help the listener either; it is even more vague then American Idiot. Why must a story about a guy named Christian and a girl named Gloria lashing out against the crumbling society that begot them and then finding hope in the end take over 50mins to tell me just that. Nothing much more to that synopsis is added throughout the hollow poetic imagery and vague storyline. And then to top it off, the music contains maybe two-three songs I find actually positively stand out ("Christian's Inferno", "Murder City", and the title track off the top of my head). And even the standouts bare an uncanny resemblance to songs from the Green Day catalogue of yesteryear. The rest is mediocre with a few absolute stinkers ("21 Guns" (I can already see the slow dancing in high school gymnasiums) comes to mind).

If you loved American Idiot, you'll eat this up with a spoon. If you preferred their pre-American Idiot material, you likely can't help but feel a longtime friend in the process of drifting away from you. But in this case, that friend could remedy the situation. Unfortunately, Green Day don't seem to be in the mood or mentality of placating old fans like me anymore. Should I bother hoping for better next time? I really don't know.

Haul and Pull Up Selecta: Heavy Weight Dancehall, Vol. 1
Haul and Pull Up Selecta: Heavy Weight Dancehall, Vol. 1
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 64.59
3 used & new from CDN$ 64.58

4.0 out of 5 stars Great dancehall with plenty of dub, July 17 2009
In the Spring of 2004 I was record shopping on Queen Street in Toronto. I stopped in an independent record shop and proceeded to grab a stack of used Barrington Levy and Scientist records circa 1979-84 to sample before purchasing. A guy working in the shop, obviously noticing my selections, prodded me with some questions about what kind of sound I was looking for, and if he could assist me in finding the right musical styles. I told him I had purchased a compilation called Biggest Dancehall Anthems 1979-82 (buy it as well) a while back. I will admit, I knew a somewhat reasonable amount about reggae at the time to have a modest idea, but still wasn't sure where, how, and necessarily what labels and artists to look for. The shopkeeper recommended Haul And Pull Up Selecta based on my samplings.

When he dropped the needle on "Pop No Style" by Linval Thompson (complete with a killer dub by Scientist), my jaw nearly smashed the floor tiles. This song is worth the purchase alone. But the two CDs herein are quite stellar. Hard, rough, sparse dancehall of the highest order. It's moody and at times ambient in the dub mixes. Scientist and Jammy provide nearly all the dub cuts (this only sweetens the deal!) in the latter half of the extended songs, of which there are plenty. Stellar, yet sometimes forgotten artists appear with multiple tracks, such as Tristan Palmer ("Spliff Tail" and my personal favorite, "Bad Boys" (No, not the Inner Circle song on Cops!)) and Barry Brown, whos songs are consistently hard-hitting early dancehall. Barrington Levy has a few tracks as well, and thankfully some go beyond standard selections of his on compilations (see "Sensimilla").

Purchasing Haul And Pull Up Selecta was very satisfying, for not only did it have great music it also cemented my love for reggae, which moved me from casual interest to near-devout dubhead (I still like a lot of other stuff, so I won't pigeon-hole myself!). The period represented on this set (1979-82) is still one of my favorite phases of Jamaican music. Unfortunately, the Jamaican musical climate would change by 1985, ushering in the digital era. The music here documents what I would consider the last great and creative stage of Jamaican music, before the computer ruled supreme, when real instruments were recorded and then wildly mixed into oblivion inna dub stylee. Be a good selecta and put this on your sound system.

The Story Of The Clash Volume 1
The Story Of The Clash Volume 1
Price: CDN$ 15.16
11 used & new from CDN$ 11.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Has the potential to change you, July 17 2009
I picked up my copy of The Story Of in Spring 2001, barely a week after I had purchased a vinly copy of the US version of The Clash. It might sound like cliche, but the two altered and expanded not only the directions of my musical tastes but my actual self. The Clash's music has an urgency, intensity, and immediacy that no other band can touch. The Clash were able to break out of the punk mold to go on to create a diverse and original body of work. This compilation is a testament to that fact.

While I'll admit that at first listen the electro-boogie of songs like "Magnificent Seven" and "This Is Radio Clash" were very dissapointing to me, these songs, as well as "Rock The Casbah", only got better with time like a fine wine. Over the years the diversity of these songs, and tracks like "Bank Robber", seemed to mesh really well with the earlier punk and rock based material. I can happily say that I think "Magnificent Seven" is right up there with songs like "London Calling" or "Complete Control" for sheer greatness.

The Story Of inspired me to seek out a wide range of other music and artists. While I still listen to a healthy amount of punk rock, ironically The Clash, one of the seminal punk bands, was responsible for diversifying my music collection immensely and to dig for great music from the past. Very few bands, if any, can have that kind of effect on an individual, and for that I am always indebted to Joe Strummer and The Clash.

Stay Down
Stay Down
Offered by Vanderbilt CA
Price: CDN$ 12.95

3.0 out of 5 stars Loved these guys for years. Glad they're back, July 16 2009
This review is from: Stay Down (Audio CD)
Band reunions are not usually as glorious as fans might hope and new albums are often spurious at best. The Smoking Popes have returned, minus original drummer Mike Felumlee, but all the charms of Josh Caterer and his brothers Eli and Matt are back again. Stay Down is a welcome studio release from a band that never got its due when they were in their prime.

While three stars out of five might not seem like the most overwhelming endorsement, it's not necessarily for lack of quality, musicianship, or songwriting. Stay Down is a good record and any fan of the Popes would do more than well to pick it up. It's much better than the belated covers album, The Party's Over. The three star ranking springs more from holding it up to their past material than any kind of knock against the music held within. Straight up, this beats the pants off of most new bands and even the majority of 90's acts that have reformed. Under those conditions we go up to four stars.

The album opens with "Welcome to Janesville", a rousing, rocking number that sent chills down my spine. The Smoking Popes were back indeed. "If You Don't Care" is the other really stellar track. Now is where we get to the three star rating. While the rest of the album contains a couple of really good Josh crooners and some enjoyable mid-tempo rockers, the songs just never match up to the two opening tracks. This is not to say they're lacking or disinteresting, but after soaring so majestically out the gate it feels like the album almost immediately tapers off. Might the album have benefited from a different arrangement of the songs? Perhaps.

In the end, it is great to have another full-length album of fresh material to add to my other Popes albums and collections. But after hearing the two opening songs and peering at my other Popes CDs, Stay Down is a good album, not great. I definitely was never expecting another "Wrting A Letter", "Can't Find It" (circa '93), or "Not That Kind Of Girlfriend". But had they managed to pull-off writing and then squeezing on another "No More Smiles"-"I Know You Love Me"-"Midnight Moon"-"Gotta Know Right Now"-quality song or two, Stay Down would definitely deserve a four to five star rating.

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