It’s that time again, RPM-people, where I dip a retro-futuristic toe into the Pop Culture Schlock archive hoping to find something that will get your nostalgia nubs tingling and have you rushing to the secondary market seller of your choice, PayPal log-in details set to stun.

It’s the cavernous physical media section of the archive that I am plundering on this fine day, fingering a forgotten Eighties flick (that’s if you even knew of it in the first place!) that is more than deserving of the Cult Classic status that appeared desperately out of its reach as the film fell between the cinematic cracks, despite housing exclusive output from hit parade hot properties like Debbie Harry, Iggy Pop, Lou Reed, Cheap Trick, and, erm, Earth, Wind & Fire… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves…

 

1983’s Rock & Rule was the first fully animated feature film produced entirely in Canada. Nelvana, the studio behind it, was founded in 1971 and had reached for the pop culture skies several years later when it contributed to 1978’s much-maligned (long-forgotten if Lucasfilm could have its way) Star Wars Holiday Special; the studio creating the ten-minute animated segment that famously featured the first appearance of Boba Fett, the galaxy’s most-feared bounty hunter (well, until we found out that he was cloned from that bloke off of Shortland Street, at least).

 

Nelvana’s animators were ballpoints-deep in developing an animated feature entitled Drats! when they were approached by producer Ivan Reitman (Ghostbusters, Stripes, Twins) to work on a feature-length movie based on the classic magazine, Heavy Metal. Nelvana nixed the idea in favour of producing its own title. Heavy Metal, the movie, eventually released in 1981, utilised the services of several different animation houses, took around twenty million dollars at the box office, and became a cult classic. Them’s the breaks.

Drats! toiled through a development hell of sorts; originally intended as a more child-friendly Grimm’s fairy tale-like opus, the project was subject to countless changes, from tone to title. Now called Rock & Rule, the project dashed into production without a completed screenplay. Re-writes abounded, characters were changed long after their original footage was completed, the studio had to move location part-way through production, investment dried up, and the production sailed past every deadline. At least Nelvana had the might of MGM/UA behind them. Well, not quite. Boardroom musical chairs at MGM/UA resulted in the suits who had fallen for the animated project being hung out to dry and new suitors, if you could call them that, were less than enamoured with the work as a whole. Cuts were demanded, voice actors replaced, the title changed to Ring Of Power, resulting in the movie being dead on arrival – buried by a studio before it even had a chance to find its audience upon eventual release in 1983. But why? Was it really that bad?

 

Watching Rock & Rule now it’s easy to find fault – the post-apocalyptic tone is diluted too often by comic relief characters more suited to Saturday morning cartoons, and the cuts demanded (two different versions actually exist; American and Canadian) make for a patchy viewing experience – but, as far from perfect as it is, there is plenty on offer for this forgotten film to warrant rediscovery. It is, however, the rock and roll of Rock & Rule that will be of the greatest interest to RPM readers.

The story in a nutshell: on a post-apocalyptic Earth where the population has mutated from rodents to human form, a legendary super rocker, named Mok, resides in Nuke York and is obsessed with an evil experiment that will bring forth a demon from another dimension. To do this he needs to find an angelic voice to sing a certain combination of notes. Meanwhile, in a seedy club, a fledgling rock band has a keyboard player just finding her voice. Her name? Angel…

 

Mok was originally to be named ‘Mok Swagger’ until the talent representation of Mick Jagger objected. How did they know at such an early stage of development? Well, the Rolling Stones frontman was considered for the role of Mok (no doubt why the animated character has lips-a-plenty), as were David Bowie, Sting, Michael Jackson, and Tim Curry. Don Francks – who had provided the voice for Boba Fett in the aforementioned Holiday Special animated sequence – was eventually cast as Mok, although the character’s musical sequences were performed by none other than Lou Reed.

 

Who could provide that angelic voice, though? Well, voice-over veteran Susan Roman was cast as Angel, but the character’s potentially demon-inducing singing voice was provided by Debbie Harry. Add to these that fact that Angel’s bandmate, Omar, had a singing voice provided by Cheap Trick’s Robin Zander, and the one-and-only Iggy Pop voiced the thing from another dimension, and you have a proper rock ‘n’ roll curio almost certain to be missing from many a collection.

‘Angel’s Song’ is, in fact, an early version of the song, ‘Maybe For Sure’, that would appear on Harry’s 1989 solo album, ‘Def, Dumb & Blonde’. This was just one of three songs written by Harry and fellow Blondie founder, Chris Stein, for the movie; the others being ‘Invocation Song’ and ‘Send Love Through’, the version of the latter featured at the climax containing lead vocals by both Debbie Harry and Robin Zander. Zander’s Cheap Trick bandmate, Rick Nielsen, penned three tunes for the movie (‘Born To Raise Hell’, ‘I’m The Man’, and ‘Ohm Sweet Ohm’), Lou Reed two (‘Triumph’ and ‘My Name Is Mok’), and Iggy Pop just the one (‘Pain & Suffering’). It’s the Earth, Wind & Fire tune that you want to know about though, right? Well, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ plays out in a neo-disco scene set at Club 666. Now you’re interested!

 

Arthouse cinemas and film festivals provided the only opportunities to view Rock & Rule after its initial flop at release, aside from a rare mid-eighties airing on Canadian television, where it was promoted as a music special rather than an animated feature. Eventual home video releases on video cassette and laserdisc finally allowed the movie to find something of an audience until, in more recent times, a long-awaited double DVD release presented an anamorphic widescreen version to curious viewers and collectors alike. This digital versatile disc set is now out of print so good luck in finding a copy. I did, and it now resides in the Pop Culture Schlock archive where another curious item lies waiting to be fingered for my next RPM column…

 

Until then, keep watching the skies!

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Author: Gaz Tidey

Rock photographer Bill O’Leary has a book Featuring over 175 full color concert images from the ’70s through ’90s of icons like Van Halen, Rush, Judas Priest, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, Pink Floyd, Zappa, and more Available Here
During his career, photographer Bill O’Leary took pictures of some of rock’s biggest names at the peak of their powers – Van Halen, Rush, Judas Priest, Kiss, Ozzy Osbourne, Queen, Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa, etc. And now, he has opened his archives for the first time ever – assembling a collection of not only his best images, but also, offering stories and recollections behind concerts he shot over the years. Indeed, this book is comprised of over 175 full color, live concert images photographed primarily from the late 1970’s through the 1990’s.

Artists include…AC/DC, Albert King, The Allman Brothers Band, Anthrax, Blues Traveler, Bob Seger, Cheap Trick, Def Leppard, Dixie Dregs, Foreigner, Frank Zappa, Grateful Dead, Hot Tuna, Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, Joan Jett, Judas Priest, Kiss, Marillion, Mercyful Fate, Michael Schenker Group, Molly Hatchet, Mötley Crüe, Motörhead, Outlaws, Overkill, Ozzy Osbourne, Pat Travers, Phish, Pink Floyd (The Wall), The Police, Queen, Rainbow, Reo Speedwagon, The Romantics, Rossington Collins Band, Rush, Scorpions, Slayer, Styx, Ted Nugent, Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, Triumph, UFO, Van Halen, White Zombie, XTC, Yes, Yngwie Malmsteen with Alcatrazz, and ZZ Top.

O’Leary says:
“Hard to believe that I have been shooting concerts for 4 decades now, beginning in the mid 70’s when I went to my first concert at the world famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. I felt at home among the walls of speakers and the towering lighting rigs, I also immediately knew that leaving the show with a ticket stub, program and maybe a t-shirt would not be enough, so I had to capture the memory permanently. Within’ weeks I had traded my Sony home stereo system for a black leather jacket and my first Minolta SLR camera. After a brief learning period experimenting with the constantly changing lighting and vast array of colors, film speeds and the quick movements of the artists, I was told by many people that I was a “natural”. I have always felt that “knowing” the music deeply and being passionate about it as well, really was the “secret” to capturing the “moment”. With that confidence, I was soon shooting many concerts, 46 in 1980 alone. By then I was also being published in many major magazines as well. In the early days, I practiced “gorilla type tactics” to get my equipment into the venue’s. Later, I was forced to play the game of securing credentials in order to shoot shows. All too soon, promoter and band management rules and demands on photographers began to take the excitement out of shooting shows. Then the ” first 3 song” rule became common, NO more pictures after the third song. Pro concert photographers know that the “best” part of a shows production comes later in the event. In the end, I’m glad to have been a part of the glory days of concert photography.”

FOREWARD by Freddie Salem of The Outlaws:
“Bill O’Leary has played an extremely important part in the rock n’ roll world, as the consummate live performance photographer for over 40 years. As a professional musician, rock photographers are a part of the music scene – whether it be shooting promotional shoots, live concerts, or simply capturing life on tour. Bill first photographed us back in 1979 – a couple years after I joined the Outlaws, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. We were touring in support of our latest album, In the Eye of the Storm. Madison Square Garden is a big show for any touring band – as well as me personally, as a musician. A landmark venue. The following year, 1980, Bill again photographed me onstage – twice. Once at a Pat Travers Band show at the Palladium in Lower Manhattan in April, then again later that fall in November, as the Outlaws were touring in support of our latest album, Ghost Riders. This time, we were playing a smaller venue in Passaic, New Jersey, called the Capitol Theatre. Hundreds upon hundreds of marquis performers from all over the world have been captured on film by Bill – with the help of his trusty camera. I am surely anticipating the release of Bill O’Leary’s book, featuring his life’s passion and his iconic photography work. Looking at the thousands of live photos Bill has shot over the years one thing is very clear – he knows when to “pull the trigger.”

Born Robert W. Derminer on December 12, 1944, we know him as Rob Tyner the voice of Motor City powerhouse The MC5 where he originally played bass before putting his talent to use as vocalist.

With moves like James Brown and a wardrobe like Marc Bolan he will forever be remembered for his rally cry of ‘Kick Out The Jams Motherfucker’ The band released three albums from ’69 and the classic ‘Kick out the Jams’ through the ’70s ‘Back In The USA’ to the bands final album ‘High Time’ a year later. The band fell apart due to infighting and drug problems but before it turned sour they really blazed a trail and managed to bug the powers that be – Big time!

Their impact cannot be denied and Tyner was a big part of that from his unique afro and his distinctive voice to their political stance in quite volatile times not just in the USA but around the world.  The MC5 featured on the cover of Rolling Stone Magazine even before they had a record out. The band had strong left-wing political ties and were happy to air their Anti-establishment views through their lyrics.  Along with Iggy And The Stooges they were punk way before punk was even a thing. They were loud, energetic and had style but most of all they had songs! Their back-to-basics rock and roll included now classics like ‘Ramblin’ Rose’ ‘Kick Out The Jams’ which must be one of the most covered songs in history. ‘Rocket Reducer No. 62 (Rama Lama Fa Fa Fa)’ and ‘Looking At You’ (Another that’s been covered by bands such as The Damned and The Mission). They were certainly unique and at the time caused quite a stir to the mainstream who didn’t know what to do with a bunch of young men who were clued up and armed with a voice their spat with Hudsons Department Store being a good example.

Tyner (going by his real name) was first approached by Wayne Kramer via the underground left-wing hipster scene in Detroit and his talent wasn’t on the bass but out front and center via the microphone. It was also Tyner who named the band MC5 which if you didn’t know it’s short for Motor City Five and the legend was born.

They were well known locally as the band to see with their incendiary live shows that were full of energy and it’s well documented that they were already hypnotising audiences in excess of a thousand people with a blistering energy and loud garage rock. It was Danny Fields who signed the band to Elektra at the same time he signed The Stooges but it was the MC5 who was the first hard Rock band signed to the label.

In ’68 the band performed at an anti-Vietnam war rally and allegedly played for eight hours straight!  Hold onto that and it might explain how the band were closely tied with LSD and Marijuana usage. They also use to have firearms as part of their stage show brandishing rifles on stage and then a sniper would shoot Tyner as part of their act to end the set.

Controversy was never far from the band’s door as they were embroiled in an ad campaign when a store (Hudsons) refused to stock their album so they took out an ad that claimed the store should go fuck themselves. in response, the store pulled all Elektra artists which led to the band being fired and subsequent signing to Atlantic for their second album so when McLaren thought he was unique engineering the Pistols labels fiascos it had already been done years earlier by the MC5.  Imagine being in an audience not having a clue who the band was and hearing Tyner announce Kick Out The Jams and then witnessing the kind of performance seen in the video?  It must have been life-changing.

After MC5 split he kept himself busy with a number of acts such as fireworks and then the Rob Tyner Band who played shows with the likes of Cheap Trick and AC/DC but by the end of ’78 the band fizzled out having not released an album.  Tyner then chanced his arm in the UK where he worked briefly with Eddie & the Hot Rods before he headed back to the states to work on Detroit legend Scott Morgan’s benefit project. the Guitar Army, which helped to organise and promote the music of Vietnam veterans. There was a solo record released in 1990 entitled ‘Blood Brothers’, but sadly, the singer died from a heart attack a year later, on this very day in 1991.

Several years after his passing, a live release surfaced courtesy of the Motor City Music label/website, ‘Rock and Roll People’, which documented a pair of Rob Tyner Band concerts from 1977 (at the Kramer Theatre and the Embassy Hotel). His legacy might be limited with regards to his recording output compared to many of his peers but never underestimate the influence of the MC5 – Gone but not forgotten Rob was only 46 at the time he passed away Rest In Peace Rob Tyner.

On this day in 1951 Bun E. Carlos (drummer for Cheap Trick) is born Brad Carlson in Rockford, Illinois.  Bun E was the band’s chief setlister and archivist, and kept recordings of all the band’s shows, some of which have been released under the title ‘Bun E’s Bootlegs’.

Bun E’s band Cheap Trick released their debut album way back in ’77 But it wasn’t until  ‘In Color’ the bands sophomore release that things really took off.  The first place to go crazy for cheap Trick was Japan where they always had a huge mutual love and respect namely their iconic ‘Cheap Trick at Budokan’.

they managed to break into the US Top 10 in 1979 with ‘I Want You to Want Me’ and over a decade later they managed to take ‘The Flame’ to the number one spot in ’88.

Cheap Trick has always had a rabid following but their general popularity has always been a bit up and down over the decades but being able to boast sales in excess of 20 million albums is no mean feat. The band has toured the world many many times, playing over 5,000 shows. Even though Bun E has been replaced for almost a decade after initially needing time off after back surgery he was replaced by Nielsons Son Daxx. His contribution is huge and that archive must be something to behold to this day.  Carlos had to sue his former bandmates several years ago and things got messy as he was countersued and so it began.  However, in 2016 the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Held at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York on April 8, and the band was introduced and Zander, Nielsen, Petersson, and Carlos all in attendance;  performed ‘I Want You to Want Me’, ‘Dream Police’, ‘Surrender’ and ‘Ain’t That a Shame’ so not all bad.  Happy Birthday Bun E!

Let us guide you through some of our choice picks from the pile of this years RSD releases and the ones we fancy as well as the ones that might just be a Record shop bun fight. As fans go toe to toe for that collectible 7″ that you hope and pray won’t be on eBay for even larger inflated prices than you pay on the day.  Anyway, we’ve picked through the list alphabetically and where possible we’ll give you online guide prices (some of which will make your eyes water).  This is part one – part two will follow tomorrow.

First up is a no brainer for us as The Alarm celebrate reissuing ‘Strength’ on vinyl and give it the old dark arts of a remaster there is also a RSD double live album of one of their best bootlegs live from Boston Orpheum in 85 on the Strength Tour. Four of the tracks (Where Were You Hiding?, Deeside, Sixty Eight Guns & Knocking On Heaven’ s Door), were used as B-sides and extra tracks with the band’ s ‘ Spirit Of ‘ 76’ UK single release of early 1986 which put the band into the UK Top 30, with ‘ Howling Wind’ being issued in the USA only as part of the ‘ Live For Life’ IRS Records cancer benefit compilation album. The audio was recorded by WBCN Radio Station in Boston, MA on November 9th 1985 and was a pretty hot show to record.  Certainly, one to pick up.

 

Second up is possibly one of this year’s most popular releases that of ‘Bingo Hand Job – Live At The Borderline 91‘ Who you might ask? Well, if you have asked its probably not for you then.  It’s none other than REM and some friends such as Billy Bragg pre-MTV unplugged superstardom taken from a set they played in London under the name BHJ.  Again this is a two-disc LP and has reached mythical status amongst REM fans over the years as to its validity.  Heads down 1-2-3-4 Go! Expect to pay stupid money for a copy of this if you find yourself without a copy on the day.

Next we see Bob Dylans classic ‘Blood On The Tracks‘ being advertised as the original New York Test Pressing and its also to be found on rough Trades website for £26.99 the story goes like thus – Months before Bob Dylan released ‘Blood On The Tracks’ in early 1975, a small number of test pressings were circulated, consisting entirely of material from sessions at A&R Recording Studios in New York City. (Dylan re-recorded five of these tracks in Minneapolis for inclusion on the final album.) Those original records were soon bootlegged, and the alternate history of one of Dylan’s most acclaimed works was born. This LP is an exact duplicate of the test pressing, containing unique mixes from the New York session available for the first time. It doesn’t say if this is limited so I’d imagine this might well be pressed in big numbers thus making it available after the furor of RSD has gone.

Next is Brett Smiley and ‘Sunset Towers‘ an eight-track release. Brett recorded a session at what was to become Cherokee Studios, in the Valley in Los Angeles. Owned by The Robbs, three brothers who had previously been the house band on ‘60s TV music show Where The Action Is (and who backed Brett on the session) and produced by Del Shannon, the session has lain in the vaults till now. This album of previously unreleased recordings is a what could have been for American glam music. expect to pay £21.99 for this album

RSD stalwarts Cheap Trick have something to offer this year that is one of the limited pieces and will be globally sought after ‘The Epic Archive Vol. 3 (1984-1992) (Limited 2-LP “Flame Red” Vinyl Edition)’ After Releasing Two Packages of Cheap Trick Rarities on LP for Record Store Day and BlackFriday to Great Acclaim (and Great Sales), Real Gone Music Is Back with Its Third and FinalCompilation of Hard-to-Find Epic Label Nuggets. coloured vinyl and limited to 2000 pieces this will fly which is why they’ve put an eye-watering price of £44.99 on it for a double album! Ouch!

The first seven-inch single we are really interested in is from Chuck Mosley. Never before released its limited to 750 copies worldwide. Chuck former singer with Faith No More, Bad Brains, Indoria and Primitive Race decided to pursue a solo project with a raw, psychedelic, acoustic direction. Armed with his guitar, a vocal effects processor, and a few friends (Cris Morgan, Randy Pirosko, and Douglas Esper), he embarked on a two-year tour and completed a few recording sessions. During a six-hour block in August of 2017 with producer Joe Haze, Chuck recorded two covers, “Nothing Compares 2 U,” originally written by Prince (and originally made famous by Sinead O’ Connor), and “Take this Bottle” by Faith No More (a FNM cut recorded during Mike Patton’ s reign). The two recordings have never been released until now. This ended up as Chuck’ s last time recording in a studio before his death on November 9th 2017. His guitar solo on Nothing Compares 2 U never got completed as the band had to leave for a show that night in Salt Lake City. Tracks : A Side Nothing Compares To You B Side Take This Bottle.

Bowie always a RSD favourite for the scalpers as they look to take advantage of the limited quantities available this year sees ‘Pin Up’s‘ getting the picture disc treatment and already its advertised on eBay for upwards of $80 a snip I guess if you can’t be bothered to go find a copy and go against everything RSD stands for even if it does look a very nice record. Good luck baggin’ one of these folks.  It doesn’t say how many have been pressed but I’d imagine it’s not enough to satisfy the demand.

 

 

 

The Crow – OST Original motion picture soundtrack to the movie of the same title, to be released on vinyl for the first time since its original 1994 release. The album features covers, including Nine Inch Nails who covered Joy Division’ s “Dead Souls”, Pantera who covered Poison Idea’ s “The Badge”, and Rollins Band who covered Suicide’ s “Ghost Rider”, and Rage Against the Machine re-recorded their 1991 B-side “Darkness of Greed” and renamed it “Darkness” for this soundtrack. It’s a three-sided record with side four being an etching.  It seems like this is the popular thing at the moment to leave side four blank and put an etching on it but hey maybe I’m old fashion I’d rather some more music.  Expect to pay  an eye watering £34.99 for this but it is limited to 1000 pieces

 

 

Dexys Midnight Runners Live At The BBC‘ is also on some RPM lists as this 1982 recording of the band at the peak of their powers and for the first time on vinyl, this legendary Newcastle BBC In Concert was regarded as a turning point in the band’ s career. the concert features a host of the finest Dexys’ tracks as well as introducing the audience to Dexys new “Celtic” sound including ‘Geno’, ‘Let’ s Make This Precious’, ‘Jackie Wilson Said’, ‘The Celtic Soul Brothers’… The concert introduces the Emerald Express string section and the audience are treated to the not heard before ‘Come On Eileen’-listen to the reaction after… The LP set finishes with 4 tracks from a David Jensen session from the same year. This double album pressed on Green Vinyl will look to set you back £27.99 if you’re lucky enough to bag one of the 1400 copies.  Good luck!

The first real big money item has to be ‘The Doors – London Fog’ pressed on 10″ this Individually numbered limited edition (if you can call 18,000 limited – cough cough) will look to set you back £42.99. It’s a Lift-top package designed to look like a vintage storage box.and has Seven songs on both CD and a 10-inch record that’s made to resemble a test pressing, Postcards, Setlist handwritten by John Densmore, Liner notes included from Sunset Strip legend Ronnie Haran-Mellen and Five black and white 8×10 reprints of unpublished photos.  sounds neat but limited?

 

Pink & Blue Double LP (3 sided, the 4th side is etched) live recording from The Oakland Coliseum April 1984 another I know several RPM scribes will be all over this in their shoulder-padded coats jostling to the front of the shop to make sure they get their copy.  Oh didn’t I say its Duran Duran. This one surfaced originally as a bonus to the 2010 reissue of ‘Seven And The Ragged Tiger’ ‘As The Lights Go Down’ has never been officially released on vinyl.  until now that is. only 5,500 pieces available.  One thing I often think about RSD is the packaging often it leaves a lot to be desired and seems rushed considering the mark up they put on the records it could and should be much better.
Whilst the Fall seems to have about as many releases as they had band members in the 90’s its Fallen Angels that really interests us.  Getting the double coloured vinyl treatment it also comes in a gatefold and has a cool booklet with extensive notes and pictures from the recordings.  It features the original album plus bonus Lp of singles and extra tracks. In 1984 Hanoi Rocks were signed to CBS and about to hit the charts they found themselves with a few weeks off. Meanwhile, The Vibrators were also taking a break, and Knox had some great new songs sitting there waiting for fate to intervene. It did, and they got together for this much-lauded and awesome album.  Jungle has done this release proud and you should be able to score a copy for around £21.99 which is money well spent if you ask me.  RPM will be reviewing this release in depth just before RSD.
Frank Black also sees his long out of print albums ‘Teenager OF The Year‘ and self-titled albums get a long overdue re-release on coloured vinyl but these should be available after RSD has passed.
We’ll end this first part of our RSD round up with another 7″ single this time it’s a Red Vinyl contains two previously unreleased mixes of the classic single ‘ Your Generation’ and later b-side ‘ Trying For Kicks’ From the mighty Generation X. Both tracks are previously unreleased and are Exclusive to this release and do not feature on the Deluxe Edition of the band’s album that is being released later on in April through Chrysalis Records.

It’s a staggering 32 years since Cheap Trick last played the capitol city of Wales, and whilst I’ve seen the band a good few times since that Motley Crue support slot it was their return to Cardiff that meant for the first time in many a year I not only snapped up a ticket for this show in double quick time but I’m also queuing early doors in the pouring rain outside one of my least favourite venues just to make sure I don’t miss a note. Ever the fan boy eh!

I’m glad I did too because tonight really does belong to the boys from Rockford. Playing a tight and sadly shorter set than I’ve come to expect from the band they still manage to change things around set list wise from the previous two nights (I just couldn’t resist a sneaky peak online beforehand) slotting in the sublime ‘Big Eyes’ and a crowd pleasing ‘The Flame’ as tonight’s curveballs around the rest of the set – which effectively plays out like a greatest hits of Cheap Trick.

The addition of Robin Zander’s son Robin Zander Jnr on second guitar and backing vocals certainly adds a new dimension to the band, one which allows his father to make full use of the ego ramp and concentrate on hitting all the right notes, something the 65 year old still does with the utmost of ease. Whilst behind the kit Daxx Nielsen has become as much a feature of Cheap Trick these past seventeen or so years as the legendary Bun E Carlos. And whilst legendary is a term bandied around all to easily these days when it comes to songs like ‘ If You Want My Love’, ‘I Want You To Want Me’, ‘Dream Police’ and ‘Surrender’ right here in these four songs you have perhaps the very cornerstones of many a subsequent musical genres. Without this band there would certainly be no power pop, there would be no hair metal and perhaps maybe even no alt-rock or grunge so when Kliph Scurlock takes to the drums for a song tonight everything comes kinda full circle and I feel honoured to witness such a magical one-off event.

Ending their ten song set with ‘Goodnight Now’ Rick Nielsen’s ludicrous multi neck guitar once again makes a long overdue appearance on a Welsh stage before it’s all over in the blink of an eye. Short and sweet this might have been but I adored every single sugar coated second of it, long may the Trick shine on.

Having witnessed the tail end of Def Leppard’s 25th anniversary tour for the ‘Hysteria’ album at Hellfest five years ago I was certainly interested in seeing what the band might do to top that stealing performance this time around.

Okay there’s a few small changes – there’s no Def Leppard supporting themselves “deep dive” archive set to start things off, plus (and this bit does seem strange) there’s no repeat of the intro film that they used to set the scene for what was about to follow, but what we do get tonight is the twelve song, bazillion copy selling, album played out in sequence in meticulous detail and boy does it sound good. How can you critique arena rock perfection? You can’t, you just have to simply accept that songs like ‘Animal’, ‘Armageddon It’ and ‘Gods Of War’ (noticeably now devoid of the Mrs T outro speech) were written for “Sold Out” nights like tonight and whatever you think of Def Leppard you cannot deny these guys have achieved a phenomenal amount in their time together as a band and tonight they have simply never looked happier – especially with the ecstatic crowd response.

Moving the “deep dive” section to the encores (ah! I see what you did their guys) and noting that on previous nights classics like ‘Wasted’ and ‘Let It Go’ have been given an airing I have to admit that tonight’s opening selection of ‘Make Love Like A Man’ ‘When Love And Hate Collide’ and ‘Let’s Get Rocked’ kind of leave me feeling like I’d been dealt a bum hand, I mean am I the only one who’d have preferred to hear ‘When Saturday Comes’ at this point? Ha! Look, I’ve still got the game changing ‘Rock Of Ages’ and the always awesome ‘Photograph’ so I’m always going to leave here tonight with a smile on my face, just like pretty much everyone else, it’s just that deep down inside I wish Da Lepps would have done a 35th year anniversary of the album those classics came from instead.

Ah well, you can always dream…

Author:Johnny Hayward

I get it you love Biters and you have a soft spot for the likes of The Cars and Cheap Trick and they all have more great songs than they don’t, well, Kurt Baker is like that as well. He doesn’t do bad songs simple as that – original or covers.  He doesn’t write bad tunes, in fact, he writes awesome tunes and this is the proof. He writes great tunes -pop tunes even but he plays them with loud guitars and that’s a lethal combination.

 

Hey, you Eureka Machines fans and you Costello fans get on this and check it out (you can thank me later) ‘Emma Stone’ has a melody and hook that’s just so listenable you can’t stay still it’s infectious and should have a government health warning.

 

He doesn’t change tack much at all (but why would you?) ‘What’s That Got To Do With Rock And Roll’ is a groovin’ slab of T-rex and some 70’s glam slam a go-go but don’t bother looking for imperfections because there aren’t any its just good time Rock ‘n’ Roll and its all about the good time and the party in your head whilst the songs are spinning  and Baker is so good at it.  Damn, there’s even time to sound like Thin Fuckin’ Lizzy on the excellent ‘On The Run’.

Thinks go Costello overload on the laid back ‘Since You’ve Been On My Mind’ its got a certain Joe Jackson about it too.  There’s even time this October to throw in a Christmas song but because its Kurt Baker I’m giving him a pass and it’s perfectly acceptable because when Bakers singing it’s like every day is Christmas such are the power pop gifts being dished out.  I know some of you will be scratching your noggins as this looks familiar well it does and it doesn’t this is the first time it’s had a vinyl release for the first time thanks to Ghost Highway and with some bonus material for all you audiophiles who just want your music on Wax or not at all.

By the time this album reaches the end we’ve got ourselves some synth-pop that’s right, some tasty new wave to put a cherry on the icing on the cake. ‘High Fidelity’ indeed!

Ghost Highway Records

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Author: Dom Daley