Saturday, July 14, 2018

Chilliwack - Fly at Night

Speaking of Canadian classic rock not too well known outside of Canada, Chilliwack is an excellent rock band most non-Canadian’s do not remember.

Named after their hometown, the city of Chilliwack, British Columbia, and yes, that is the name of an actual city in Canada; Chilliwack the band formed in 1970 by lead guitarist Bill Henderson. The band would be active eighteen years, and in that time they would produce eleven studio albums and at least six big hit songs in Canada, including my favorite “Fly at Night.”

In 1997 Bill Henderson reformed the band and has been touring Canada ever since. They frequently show up for the Calgary Stampede, and play the local casinos, I keep meaning to go and see them, but I have never gotten around to it. Similar to another Vancouver based band Prism, the lineup has constantly been changing and no new albums have come out in a long time, but both Canadian bands appear content to tour Canada playing their hits. It is a humble existence, but I think it is very wonderful in many ways, they are successful, they are paying their bills doing what they love, and they have many great songs and many loyal fans. That makes for a pretty good life.

As previously stated Chilliwack had approximately six significant hit songs in Canada, and the one I grew up hearing the most often on the radio was “Fly at Night.” It was among my favorite songs that got played frequently. Before I discovered the complete work of Chilliwack or knew their band name, I made the mistake of thinking “Fly at Night” was a Neil Young song, and they do sound a little alike to an untrained ear, but I made the same mistake with America’s “Horse With No Name” when I was kid, so maybe the problem is just me.

I believe “Fly at Night” is a perfect example of a perfect classic rock song. It opens calmly with just the acoustic guitar and the singer and after the intro the electric guitar replaces the acoustic and the drums and bass join in, the basic fundamental four-piece sound take over and the whole thing is mellow and real easy going. The acoustic takes the bridges and the outro. this brings a sense of balance and continuity to the song. All the fundamentals of a good old rock and roll song is present and everything is proficiently well done. “Fly at Night” belongs in every classic rock fan’s playlist.

The lyrical content is nothing too deep, Chilliwack recants the experience of about traveling by plane while on tour. While the subject matter is simple, the poetry is not, every line is a very clever way of describing the experience.

Like how they describe the expanse of their travel and now exhausting it is by saying:

“And when you close your eyes,
Sleep comes fast.
When you fly the universe,
Well, you need some rest.”

Or, how they describe the rock concerts themselves with:

“Ooh, we like the big wide spaces,
Yeah, we like a sea of faces.
Time is just a rubber band.
Time is at our command.”

It is really nice stuff and makes for two very good verses.

Of all the music genres in the world, classic rock is the deepest I listen to, and I can say without exaggeration that Chilliwack’s “Fly at Night” should be included along songs like America’s “Horse With No Name,” or Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” and while most people are familiar with the later two I hope one day soon people are equally familiar with “Fly at Night.”

While Chilliwack has faded into obscurity for the most part they are kept alive by a cult following and, I hate to say it, perhaps, Canadian content laws. I heard Chilliwack on the radio a lot growing up, and there is no doubt they deserve to be on all the classic rock radio stations in Canada, with or without government sanctioned Canadian content standards, but it is sad, to me, because I suspect they would not receive this well-deserved playtime if not for those laws. In reality, Chilliwack should be receiving similar treatment in US radio stations, and frankly globally as well. Satellite classic rock radio stations should be including Chilliwack, at least “Fly at Night” as a regular on their playlist. I grew up with this being normal, and it is strange to me knowing that it is not for most of the planet.

One of these days, hopefully soon, I will catch Chilliwack when they are playing at a local casino.

- King of Braves

Sunday, July 1, 2018

The Guess Who - Running Back to Saskatoon

I have written on a couple occasions about music beloved within Canada’s boarders that is largely overlooked outside of the great white north. The most interesting reviews I have written about this subject revolved around the Tragically Hip, which is the best example of this phenomena. I have thus dubbed the Tragically Hip, the most Canadian band of all time. The only counter argument anyone offered up was the Guess Who.

The Guess Who are a really good pick to represent Canadian classic rock. While they are a very good band, they are even more so, a very Canadian band.

I have heard multiple different versions of the origins story of the Guess Who’s name, so my confidence in getting it right is a little lacking, but I will try nonetheless. Formed by Chad Allan in Winnipeg, Manitoba, the original name of the band included his name and they quickly ran a gambit of various names soon there after:

- “Allan and the Silvertones”
- “Chad Allan and the Reflections”
- “Bob Ashley and the Reflections”
- “Chad Allan and the Expressions”
- “The You Know Who Group”
- “The Wonder Who?”
- And finally: “The Guess Who”

Changing the name to “Bob Ashley” after the keyboard player, I believe was done as a gaff. They dropped the “Reflections” because there was some kind of trouble, copyright or legal maybe, with an active rock band in the US called “The Reflection” and so they had to change it to “Expressions.” But then Chad Ashley left the group, and Burton Cummings took over as lead singer. The gaffs of silly names returned and they happened to be calling themselves “The Guess Who” when they finally hit it big with their fourth album “Wheatfield Soul” and their hit single “These Eyes.”

I think that is how it happened.

Today’s conversation is about being Canadian, and The Guess Who are Canada’s first notable big rock band, so by default they represent the nation in a significant way. Hence the Guess Who are a great choice for the most Canadian group ever.

The question I wish to ponder is, what is the Guess Who’s most Canadian song? Most of their songs are good rock songs about the things we can all relate to, but they do have at least one song that stands out to me as uniquely very Canadian and that is “Running Back to Saskatoon.”

What makes “Running Back to Saskatoon” so potently Canadian, I think is pretty obvious, it is a song about returning home to the province of Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan is one of Canada’s ten provinces, and a running joke is that nothing ever happens there. Geographically Saskatchewan is little more than a flat expansion of farmland. Driving through Saskatchewan on the Trans Canada Highway is considered by Canadians as an extremely boring endeavour. The city of Saskatoon is the largest city in Saskatchewan with a population of approximately two-hundred and fifty thousand people. It is a small city in the prairies that few outside of Canada know about. Singing a song about Saskatoon is an extremely Canadian thing to do. But it does not end there.

The Guess list out other obscure Canadian municipalities describing their travels back to Saskatoon. The chorus starts by listing three towns in Saskatchewan, and soon there after four more relatively unknown Canadian municipalities.

“Moose Jaw, Broadview, Moosomin too,
Running back to Saskatoon.
Red Deer, Terrace, Hanna, Medicine Hat.
Sing another prairie tune.
Sing another prairie tune.”

Yes. Those are all places in Canada. We have a town called Moose Jaw.

I Have been to Red Deer and Medicine Hat several times. Red Deer is the stop gap city between Calgary and Edmonton. I used to visit both Red Deer and Medicine Hat for wrestling tournaments when I was young. The only town I am not very familiar with is Terrace, a small town in Northern British Columbia.

All these little places throughout the prairies are Canadian gems, and there is a low chance of anyone outside of Canada having ever heard of them. The average American might think the Guess who were saying a bunch of gibberish, but I suspect they would figure it out pretty quickly if they decided to think about it.

“This tune is home grown,
Don't come from Hong Kong.”

There is a very large Chinese population in Canada, I can attest to this fact in Calgary, but as I understand it, Vancouver has a very influential population base originating from Hong Kong, so maybe the inclusion of that Southeast Asian metropolis, is used as a choice comparison for that reason, and not just because it is foreign and for it’s impressive size. I feel that this line is a self acknowledgement of the Guess Who’s blatant embrace about how Canadian this song is. Just a home-grown song about Canada, not giant China, not our neighbour the USA, just singing about the parries of central Canada.

The point is, how Canadian can you get? Cause it does not get much more Canadian than singing about Saskatoon.

Not unlike my last review of UFO’s “Only You Can Rock Me,” I am much more familiar with live versions of “Running Back to Saskatoon” than the studio version, so much so, I am not sure I have ever heard a studio version. I am no longer convinced there even is a studio version. From what I understand the Guess Who first performed the song live and it appeared on live albums after becoming a popular live track.

“Running Back to Saskatoon” is a simple song, a nice catchy tune meant to charm more than impress. Maybe that is why The Guess Who never bothered to record a studio version, and that is absolutely why it became a cult classic for live performances. Quirky and fun “Running Back to Saskatoon” is a nice little song about a humble little place, which is just like a slice of Canada.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

UFO - Only You Can Rock Me

For well over a decade I have been listening to UFO’s greatest hits, and in that time my favorite song of theirs has always been “Only You Can Rock Me.” The version of “Only You Can Rock Me” on the version of my copy of UFO’s greatest hits, is a live version, a very good live version. It was not until some time, very recently when I picked up a copy of “Obsession” (1978) that I finally heard the studio version of “Only You Can Rock Me.” It must have been close to fifteen years I have been listening to that live version, and only after listening to “Obsession” did I fully realize the truth, that I had never heard the studio version before. It was beautiful. As good as that live version is, there is something about the refinement of a well written song being properly recorded in high quality. It was a tranquil moment for me.

UFO was founded by Phil Mogg, who has functioned as the lead singer, primary song writer, and sole consistent member of the band. Like other legacy bands that would not yield to time Mogg has kept the dream alive despite numerous line of changes and two two-year hiatuses. To date UFO has released twenty-two studio albums, that is a serious commitment by Mogg and worthy of respect, I have listened to several, but nowhere near all of them.

My introduction to UFO had a winding path to it, which starts with the Scorpions.

Everyone knows who Rudolf Schenker is; at least everyone should know who Rudolf Schenker is. He is guitarist and founding member of the Scorpions along with lead singer Klaus Meine. Not everyone is as familiar with Rudolf’s younger brother Michael.

Michael Schenker worked with his big brother on the first two Scorpions’ albums “Lonesome Crow” (1972) and “Fly to the Rainbow” (1974), but after that he wished to branch out, concerned he would end up living in his brother’s shadow. Rudolf, being a great guy, at least from what I know of him, was very supportive of Michael going his own way. Michael would return to the Scorpions briefly in 1979 to work on the album “Lovedrive” this is one of the few Scorpion albums I do not know very much about, so I will have to look into that soon, as I am surprised to learn Michael returned at all.

Michael Schenker’s first stop after leaving the Scorpions was to join up with UFO. It is these albums that include Michael that I am most familiar with. It is these albums that UFO is most famous for. In total Micheal Schenker was involved in eight UFO albums over the course of two tenures, the first five, the ones I know, from 1974 to 1978, and three later from 1995 to 2002, I am not familiar with those.

After his first stint with UFO Michael would end up working on his quasi solo band Michael Schenker Group (MSG), however his work with UFO is what he is best known for.

There is something of a cult following for Michael. His popularity has maintained itself over time, but like most people, I really only know him for those early UFO albums, and a little bit because of those early Scorpions albums. I often feel bad typing out something like that, like I should know better, but there is a reason why most of us only know that part of his work, that reason is that it is really good. I feel even worse going on about Michael when Phil Mogg is the true leader of UFO and probably deserves more attention and praise.

“Obsession” would be the last album Michael worked on with UFO, before his temporary later return, and in recent listens it has been the one I have given the most attention. As stated “Only You Can Rock Me” is my favorite UFO song, and it being the first track on this album, makes “Obsession” a good candidate for my favorite UFO album.

There is an interesting game of steps of separation that exists in classic rock that can lead us to somewhat forgotten gems. The Scorpions are huge and likely to be remembered forever, and with that guitarist Rudolf Schenker will be immortalized, but his brother, less successfully but similar to talent, will the advantage of being remembered by association and then for his great work. UFO, a band clearly worthy of compliment gets recalled because of Michael, and Phil Mogg gets noticed as the workforce singer and song writer he is. That is how this discovery happened to me, and it only encourages me to dig deeper.

I am filled with questions, like what was UFO like before and after Michael Schenker? How good is MSG? And hey, Graham Bonnet was the lead singer on the album “Assault Attack” and I just a review explaining how his band Alcatrazz was a primarily forgotten classis. Another degree of separation with a similar story.

Writing reviews like this are challenging, because there is some much I am still discovering, but it is also a major source of enjoyment in my live. UFO, five good albums that I know, “Only You Can Rock Me” is really great, I could have just said that for now, but I cannot because there is so much more to take in, and I look forward to it.

Oh, and by the way, “Only You Can Rock Me” is really good. So, good I am willing to ramble on about a band I do not know very much about, just to share with the world how good of a song it is. Phil Mogg sings not only well but at a pace where he nearly overlaps himself, and I do not know if a recording trick is being used or not, because that live version I am so deeply familiar with he creates the same affect. Michael has a great, but short solo, and all in all it is a quick punchy song. A straight forward, high quality rock song, exactly the sort of thing I love.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves

Friday, June 8, 2018

Alcatrazz - Island In The Sun

Graham Bonnet has had a very interesting music career. I do not very much about Bonnet’s early work, but as I understand it, he was initially an R&B singer, this revelation struck me as odd, because it clashes with I know of the man. Bonnet had a radical turn around in his music career when he was recruited by Ritchie Blackmore to be part of Rainbow; and this is how I know who Bonnet is. However, for reasons unknown to me Blackmore wanted to move on without Bonnet, but once Bonnet had a taste of rock and roll he wanted more. Thus, he created Alcatrazz, his own rock band.

The initial lineup of Alcatrazz included highly talented Swedish guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen. This is important to note, because Malmsteen is something of a god to some. Many metal elitists consider Malmsteen one of the greatest guitarist of all time, which is likely directly related to the fact that most people have never heard of him. I find Malmsteen to be a bit too much, from what little I have heard of his solo work he has tremendous raw talent but lacks discipline; but to be fair to the man, I should reiterate, that I have only scratched the surface of his music arsenal. The point is Alcatrazz had a young Malmsteen, before his ego made him difficult to work with, perhaps at his rawest, perhaps at his best.

So, it is 1983 and the stage is set for a new powerhouse rock band to hit the scene, and Alcatrazz gives us their best album “No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

“No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll” is one of those forgotten relics. It was a successful album insofar that it was positively received at the time and sold reasonable well, but it was never a big hit and time has dwindled its notoriety. However, a cult following has remained and there are those who remember Alcatrazz fondly, and rightfully so. While Alcatrazz has other albums, it is the common consensus that this first album is their best.

This is a common story that music critics like me like to tell. An album most people have never heard of by a band just as few are familiar with is tragically forgotten and goes on as grossly underappreciated. “No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll” is a very good album and the opening track “Island in the Sun” is a fantastic song, and no one I know knows about it, so by default it is grossly underappreciated.

For their debut single “Island in the Sun” Alcatrazz really leaned in to the whole “Alcatraz” theme. The song “Island in the Sun” is on the surface is a song about wealthy poets exiled to an island prison. The music video is shot at the island prison for which the band is named after, Alcatraz, and depicts the incarceration of the band and their dreams and effort to escape, to an island in the sun. Even the album name relates to the prison them. I suspect something more is going on in Bonnet’s words, but I have not been able to figure it out yet. Maybe it is a critique about the music industry and how it “imprisons” its own creators? That may be a reach.

More importantly, is the combination of Bonnet’s voice and Malmsteen’s guitar. I do not know what notes Bonnet is even hitting or how he is doing it, or how he is capable of holding them so long is beyond my talents or knowledge. For a self trained singer, Bonnet is equal parts talented and unique. Meanwhile Malmsteen shows off all the reasons he has a religious like following. His solo is the highlight of what is an otherwise already fantastic song.

I like “No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll,” it is a good album from start to finish, but if I am to be perfectly honest, only the first track gets replayed repeatedly on my playlist. I have heard the other two albums of Alcatrazz and they are solid, but the only album of theirs I made the effort to track down and purchase is the first, “No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll.”

Bonnet would go on to be in many other bands and have a respectable solo career, all of which are rock and roll based, or I think so anyway. He had this long career of hard work and varied success, and the peak of his popularity is forever linked to Alcatrazz and it’s debut album.

Malmsteen would go on to act dysfunctional in a number of other bands but his raw talent would see him through to a successful solo career where he is now worshiped. We have Alcatraz to thank for bringing him to the front of things and certainty to the front of my own attention.

For these reasons alone “No Parole from Rock ‘n’ Roll” is worthy of remembrance, but the greater reason is the quality music within, espically “Island in the Sun.”

- King of Braves

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Fire Inc. - Nowhere Fast & Tonight is What it Means to be Young

Nowhere Fast:

Tonight is What it Means to be young:

1984’s “Streets of Fire” is not a good movie, but it has proven to have some impressive staying power. The movie is self described as “a rock and roll fable” and I would agree that is an appropriate description. It took me a long time to final get around to watching “Streets of Fire” but it was a movie I knew I needed to see, if for no other reason the involvement of Jim Steinman.

I have talked about Jim Steinman a few times previously. He is most famous for writing the music of Meat Loaf, but he is also written many songs performed by famous musicians like Bonnie Tyler, Air Supply and Celine Dion. But of all the crazy places Steinmen’s music has shown up, my favorite is probably his insane German vampire rock opera “Tranz de Vampire” which I talked about last year:

Of all the places I have come across and investigated the works of Jim Steinman’s the movie “Streets of Fire” always stood out as highly interesting, however for a variety of reasons it remained on the back burner as a priority to actually sit down and watch. It looked like a bad movie, like a really bad movie, but it had William Dafoe, so it was probably secretly awesome. Somehow it was both.

It is a goofy movie, with a very simple plot, and very contrasted quality in acting, for example the female lead Diane Lane, who was eighteen at the time, is terrible, but, unsurprisingly William Dafoe as the antagonist Raven is great. It is also a movie that has aged in a very strange way, because it is super eighties, but the movie is trying to look like the fifties, so it feels double aged from two vantage points, but creates a sort of fascinating visual experience. The script is also garbage, probably the weakest point is the script. Then there is the music, which is sort of a mix bag of decent and amazing.

I think the soundtrack is decent with the exceptions of the opening and closing songs which are the two songs written by Jim Steinman. Fire Inc., the band, was created specifically to perform and record these two songs for this movie. They might as well have credit Jim Steinman directly, but I guess that was not dramatic enough band name.

The movie opens with an Ellen Aim (Diane Lane) concert and the mood is set by the song she lip-syncs “Nowhere Fast.”

I love “Nowhere Fast.” To me, it is a perfect Jim Steinman song. A rock song with lots of piano that feels like part of a rock opera with strong lead vocals… being lip synced by a younger female… and with lyrical content that is a combination of poetry and sarcasm.

I like to call it the “Steinman Witt.” The man had a way with words where he would always find some way of slipping something incredibly smart ass at the end of a very powerful line. Look at the entirety of “Paradise by the Dashboard Light” as a perfect example, or the line that immediately follows “You Took the words right out of my mouth,” “It must have been while you were kissing me.” Pure smart ass, and I love it.

In “Nowhere Fast” the chorus is the most Steinman chorus in any Steinman song ever written:

“You and me we're going nowhere slowly,
And we've got to get away from the past.
There's nothing wrong with going nowhere, baby,
But we should be going nowhere fast.

Everybody's going nowhere slowly,
They're only fighting for the chance to be last.
There's nothing wrong with going nowhere, baby,
But we should be going nowhere fast.
It's so much better going nowhere fast.”

Did you catch it? The most Jim Steinman lyric in all of Jim Steinman’s work. Here I will point it out for you:

“Everybody's going nowhere slowly,
They're only fighting for the chance to be last.”

At one point in time I had misheard the lyric and instead of “slowly” I thought they said “someday,” further implying that everyone dies someday, and we are only fighting against this unavoidable eventuality. I still believe that is the intended take away from this lyric, were going literally nowhere slowly/eventually, were only fighting for the chance to be last.

I have actually been listening to “Nowhere Fast” years before I knew of the existence of “Streets of Fire.” Not everyone has bothered to learn this, but Meat Loaf had four albums between “Bat Out of Hell” and “Bat Out of Hell 2.” In 1984, the same year “Streets of Fire” was released, Meat Loaf released “Bad Attitude” which include a cover of “Nowhere Fast.” To say “Nowhere Fast” was my favorite song off of “Bad Attitude” would be an understatement, it was by far the best song on that album. Meat Loaf’s version is excellent:

Meat Loaf - Nowhere Fast:

It is unlikely I will revisit the topic of “Streets of Fire” again anytime in the foreseeable future, so I would be remised if I did not discuss the other song written by Jim Steinman for this movie, “Tonight is What it Means to be Young.”

The original plan for the ending of “Streets of Fire” was to have the character Ellen Aim perform a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Streets of Fire.” Makes sense. However, they could not get the rights to Springsteen’s song, so the asked Jim Steinman to write a new song, which he did, in two days.

Jim Steinman is very proud of “Tonight is What it Means to be Young,” and rightfully so, it is a very complete and full sounding song. It is insane to think that Steinman some how crafted such a song in only two days, but I guess that is genius for you.

Apparently, the reshooting of the ending to accommodate the new song costs something unseemly, which contributed to the failed Tom Cody trilogy. Oh right, they planned to make three films about the protagonist Tom Cody, but after the box office failure “Streets of Fire” had, the idea was canned.

Or was it?

In 2008, Michael Pare agreed to reprise the role of Cody, in the unofficial, ultra violent, sequel “Road to Hell.” I have not seen this movie. I cannot find any means to see this, interesting film, but I want to just for novelty of it.

The new versions of Jim Steinman's songs look, I do not know uninspired, and once again lip-synced.

Road to Hell - Nowhere Fast:

Road to Hell - Tonight is What it Means to be Young:

Judging from all metrics “Streets of Fire” should have been forgotten, poor reception, universally agreed as a bad film, and made no money, that should have been the end of it. It should have had a fate of obscurity. Yet it has lived on, and its cult following is strong enough to encourage an eccentric director like Albert Pyun to make an unofficial sequel. From my perspective the only really great thing about “Streets of Fire” was Jim Steinman’s involvement, he wrote two excellent songs, two of the best songs Steinman ever wrote were for this train wreck of a film, and I believe that is the primary reason this movie is still so fondly remembered. It is the only reason I watched it, and by far the biggest reason I was able to enjoy it.

It just goes to show what a great original soundtrack can do for film.

- King of Braves

Saturday, May 12, 2018

World Order - World Order

I can think of few things someone could find more enjoyable then synchronized Japanese business men, and that is what World Order delivers.

I cannot remember what website it was where I first discovered World Order, but I believe it was a comedy-based site and I suppose they thought the visual of seven Japanese men in suites performing their unique stop motion dances in public was humorous. That was not the take away I had, I was charmed immediately. They were very talented dancers and the song was excellent, and them performing their art in live in public opened them up to interesting reactions. I liked everything about it. Truly a perfect music video.

When first viewing World Order’s self titled song’s music video, I could not help but notice how much the front man looked familiar to me. After about five minutes I remembered where I had seen him before. He is Genki Sudo, professional mixed martial artist and UFC veteran.

Genki Sudo went two and one in the UFC with his only loss coming by way of a controversial decision to legendary kick boxer Duane Ludwig. If I remember correctly there was a non-sensical stand up due to Ludwig being cut which allowed him to recover and steal the third round. Most fight critics and fans are confident that Sudo’s grappling prowess was so great that there is little debate that Sudo would have surely become the lightweight champion if that weight division had existed in the UFC at that time.

Sudo’s talent as a grappler alone is not what made Sudo so likable, it was his rich personality that endeared him to the whole world. He would break into dance moves during fights, and take extremely high risks with very unorthodox approaches, making him extremely exciting to watch compete. At no point was Sudo just a fighter, obviously he is a very talented musician, singer and dancer, as that is the crux of this whole review, and that really fleshes out Sudo, but there is even more. He has written several books and is arguably something of a philosopher. A simple but important message Sudo shared with the world is “we are all one.” He would carry a flag which contained every flag one earth and in the centre a caption reading “We Are All One.” It is a positive message, a good reminder that each other is all we got.

I believe I have watched every video World Order has ever made and every single one is wonderful. They are all similar insofar, they all involve the World Order group performing their synchronized stop motion like dance in public, typically themed by being set in different major cities around the world. Another common element is Sudo’s message of peace, love and understanding. Naturally World Order’s song arsenal cover many topics, and I only figure it out after looking up the translated lyrics online, but the encouraging mantra of Sudo’s philosophy is persistent through out many of his artistic creations.

As often is the case, there is no love like a first love, and World Order’s first video I saw for their self titled flagship song, “World Order,” has remained my favorite this entire time. It is possibly their catchiest song and they have recorded multiple different versions of it.

The first version I ever heard/saw was this one, where they film in New York city:

World Order in New York:

I think this New York version is my favorite, it is very hard to decide.

I was a little surprised to discovery this version of “World Order” absent Genki Sudo... Unfortunately I cannot find this video anymore, so I guess you will have to use your imagination, but I assure it is real.

Apparently Sudo left World Order as an active member of the group in late 2015, though he continued to operate as the group’s producer and manager. I do not know if this was done to free up some of Sudo’s time to focus on other projects, like writing books or his solo music career. I guess I was not paying very good attention because Genki is now back in World Order, just in time for a song about Donald Trump.

Let's Start WW3:

People like it when you’re topical.

When we recall Genki Sudo’s mantra of “we are all one,” it makes sense that the men of World Order would find concern with Trump’s statements about always putting America first. Then again Trump seems like the easiest target in the whole world right, so I am not entirely sure of the meaningful depth of this new song. But hey, Genki Sudo is back, that is worth getting excited about.

While I do consume huge amount of Japanese content, I do not follow J-Pop, and I cannot say I have a good working knowledge of Japanese music. With that in mind, I am unaware of anything, anywhere in the world that is quite like World Order. I love Genki Sudo, he is a just an amazing guy who had led an incredible life. I love World Order, they are unlike anything else I have ever experienced.

- King of Braves

P.S. We are all one:

Monday, April 23, 2018

Evanescence - My Immortal

The year was 2003 and one of the few popular new band that I liked was Evanescence. They had just released their debut album “Fallen” and their first single “Bring Me to Life” was a pretty big hit at the time. I liked front woman Amy Lee, she had an strong voice for rock and roll and she presented herself really well in interviews where she came across as intelligent and creative. I would have probably have barely noticed Evanescence or remembered “Fallen” as so well as I do now, if it had not been for the strength of their second hit song “My Immortal.”

I would have to go and check to make sure, but “My Immortal” was most likely my favorite song for the entirety of that year. While “Bring Me to Life” brought the rock and roll energy we all crave and need, “My Immortal” was deeply emotional and invoked very powerful images and ideas of fantastic story telling about literal immortals. “My Immortal” is a song I go back and listen to all the time, I must have listened to the album “Fallen” a half dozen times, but “My Immortal” thousands of times I have taken the audio from that track into my waiting ears.

As a side note, I do really like the song “Imaginary,” also on the album “Fallen.”

A few years later, in 2006, Evanescence released their second album “The Open Door,” and the big hit from that album was “Call Me When You’re Sober.” I vaguely remember enjoying the second Evanescene album, but I do not own a copy of it, and it did not connect to me anywhere nearly as much as the first album, and I remember not being very taken with “Call Me When You’re Sober.” This song was inspired by Amy Lee’s ex-boyfriend who was contributed to the end of their relationship with his alcoholism. The ex-boyfriend in question was Shaun Morgan, the lead guitarist of Seether, they were pretty popular back then. I can certainly appreciate an artist’s desire to write about what they know, and in turn, what they are experiencing in their personal life, and I additionally respect that such an event in an artists life can be a powerful source of inspiration, however “Call Me When You’re Sober” felt a little like dirty laundry, not a big deal really, but not exactly my cup of tea. Maybe it was because of this that I never fell in love with the second Evanescence album; I know I have listened to it a few times, but I do not remember it all that well.

After that I kind of forgot about Evanescence. I did not even know they released a third album in 2011, this time it was their self title album. I should probably give it a listen sometime. The only thing that remained a strong presence in my playlists and memory was “My Immortal.”

Let it be known that I am rather fond of violinist Lindsey Stirling:

Lindsey Stirling has done many covers on her youtube channel, and my favorite among them is surely “My Immortal.”

Lindsey Stirling Cover:

This cover stood out to me as unique. Most of Lindsey’s covers are classical or pop music, this is a rock ballad, not entirely a dramatic departure from habit, but notable to me due to my fondness of the original.

I am not sure if I am the target audience for Evanescence or not, surely my individual listening ranks rather low in overall importance, but Evanescence has done something that reminded me of them in a big way, they teamed up with Lindsey Stirling, and recorded a new studio version of “My Immortal.”

Synthesis Version:

Instant love.

Before I even clicked on the video to watch it, I knew I was going to enjoy it. It is sort of meta in a way, someone covers your song, so you team up with them to cover the song together. I can only think of one other time that has happened, Helloween and Hellsongs, I will write a blog post about that eventually.

This new album by Evanescence “Synthesis” is almost entirely remastered songs from their three previous albums. The aim for the album of “Synthesis” is to incorporate an orchestral arrangement and electronica styles into Evanescence’s rock and roll songs. To this end it seems logical to bring in a popular violinist, who is familiar and supportive of Evanescence’s body of work, hence the recruitment of Linsey Stirling.

There are a handful of original songs on “Synthesis” and among them is “Hi-Lo” which also features Lindsey Stirling and not just a guest musician, she cocreator on this track.


Given the relationship that must have grown from their collaborative effort, it is not to surprising Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling are now our tour together. There are no dates for Western Canada, but the tour’s end happens in Washington state in September so if additional shows are booked it could make sense to add Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton in October. One can hope, because I think it would be very interesting to see this show live. I would very much like to hear the songs from “Fallen” that I remember and enjoy so well rearranged in new ways, and also, take in the music I had forgotten from “The Open Door” and the songs I never noticed from the self titled album. Plus, Lindsey Stirling, that would be fun.

I will have to get a copy of “Synthesis” soon, if for no other reason then just for “My Immortal,” also I am curious if Stirling appears on any of the other tracks.

Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.

- King of Braves