January 2021 Music Collection Update

Not too much to report this month. My area of the province went in lock down before Christmas with an end date that seems to keep being moved further down the calendar. Right now it is set for February 9th. We will see if that happens. With cases this high, I don’t feel comfortable going out anyway. So, no visits to the mission thrift but I did get three items from amazon.

First, when I was on LeBrain Train for the “ZZ Top Deep Tracks” episode, I was remind how I had yet to pick up the extended edition of Eliminator.  Something I meant to do last year during my next trip to Sunrise Records in the mall. Pfft.

Amazon had “1 copy left” for 20 moose bucks.  So, I snagged it:

It comes with a DVD of the MTV videos for the album and a three song set they did for British TV in ’83.  You can see it all on YouTube, but now I can watch them when my internet goes out.  Plus, the extended version of the CD has three different versions of Legs and some live tracks.  


Next, I cleared an item from The Grail List!  The authorities over at Keeps Me Alive have been notified! 

I know, you’re thinking a CD from 2003 from a band on a major label can’t be that hard to find, but The Allman Brothers Band’s Hittin’ The Note eluded me for years. It is one of those albums that someone handed me a burnt CD preservation copy of and it took me five years to get to it. By that time, the fanfare for the album was over and it was hard to find unless I was willing to spend more than I was willing to. Finally, someone put it on eBay for 8 moose bucks, shipped.

Even though it is over long with a runtime of 75 minutes, I love it. I think this is the only Allman studio album with both Warren Haynes and Derek Trucks on it, and those guys are endlessly entertaining to listen to.

Finally, back in December I ordered The Police’s Every Move You Make, a European box set that contains their studio recordings:  

Since it arrived in January, I count it as a January pickup.

It contains pretty much all of their studio recordings. Their five original studio albums are newly remastered here, which the fans on the message boards seemed to be really pleased with over the 2003 remasters. Plus, a 6th CD which has all of their B-side tracks from the album singles. Not bad for 35 moose bucks.

What is missing are two tracks from an early single and three songs they did for a soundtrack for a movie called Brimstone and Treacle. Really, the entire soundtrack is worth tracking down because there is some pretty good stuff from Sting on it too. There are some remixes and live tracks missing as well. There is another box set called Message in a Box which is a little more complete, but not fully and it isn’t remastered… wait a minute… who let Mike Ladano into my head?????

December 2020 Music Collection Update

The final month of 2020 was fairly light for me as I can fit all of the pickup in one post!  A big reason is Ontario’s return to a lock-down which had me visiting my mission thrift for $2 CDs only once.  But before we get to those, I also caught up on a few releases from 2020 that I wanted to review before the year was up.  I already wrote about them at length, so follow the links if you want to know more.  All of these were ordered online:

Armored Saint’s Punching The Sky and The Dirty Knobs’s Wreckless Abandon were both Black Friday grabs on amazon that didn’t arrive to the house until December.

iron maiden front

Most of you got Iron Maiden’s Nights of the Dead, Legacy of the Beast Live in Mexico City in November but my special edition didn’t make it to the house until Dec. 12th, which is my Birthday!  Not a bad present, at all!

I ordered Sloan’s B-Sides Win 1992-1997 from their website and Freeway’s True Bearings from Bandcamp.

zz top front

And the last online order goes to ZZ Top who reissued Live in Germany 1980 on vinyl.

Now to the fruits of my one trip to the mission thrift.  Spoiler alert:  It is a little weak sauce.


I picked up Chet Atkins & Jerry Reed‘s Sneakin’ Around out of respect for both artists.  I’m a little disappointed how most of the album’s tunes are instrumentals.  They feel a little incomplete to me.  Probably not one I’d spin often.


Big Head Todd And The Monsters is a band that I feel I should enjoy more but they have yet to excite me.  Adding Sister Sweetly to that list.


Billy Joel‘s The Bridge is already in the collection on vinyl, but adding the CD for $2 is to difficult  to resist.


There seems to be an album from The Mamas & The Papas waiting for me for every visit to the mission thrift. Usually it is a greatest hits compilation.  This one is their self titled debut.  Its not bad.  Mostly a sign of things to come.


Bob Seger Bob & The Silver Bullet Band‘s released The Fire Inside in 1991 and I believe most of the fire was gone by then.  This has two Tom Waits covers.  Two!  There are a few good tracks on it though.


Finally, the mission thrift pulled out all of the Christmas music.  I grew up with Bing Crosby‘s Merry Christmas.  I’m not too much of a fan of the churchy stuff on side 1 but side 2 is the bomb.  I really want A Very Special Christmas 2 with the Tom Petty Song on it, but I’ll take the first for $2.  Bruce Cockburn‘s Christmas was a pleasant surprise.  It is a nice mix of old standards with originals.  This will be spun a few times during the Holidays from now on.

Bonus pickup!  A Star Trek jigsaw puzzle to put together while I listen to the tunes!


[MarsNews] Top Ten Albums for 2020 (A Definitive List)

It really did look like 2020 was going to be a complete bust for new music for a long while.  We had a few releases for the first couple of months, then Covid-19 derailed it all.  It seemed like sometime after the summer, labels and bands came to the realization that live shows were not coming back anytime soon.  So the fall was crammed with new releases.  2020 was saved!

There are a lot of Top Ten Lists on the blogs at this time of year, but what makes this the “Definitive” one is the wording in the title.  So enjoy and if you don’t agree with me, remember The Dude’s words…


#10. Armored Saint | Punching The Sky


John Bush’s “other” band has certainly impressed me with Punching The Sky.  One of my goals for 2021 it to dive into their back catalog and discover more.  This really does put on display how much Bush added to Anthrax in the ’90s.

Full Review
Best Song: Never You Fret

#9. Testament | Titans of Creation


Titans of Creation came out in April and remained to be my favourite thrash metal album of 2020.  It is another example of how Testament has come into their own as a band that delivers some hard thrash with a hint of rock ‘n roll swing.  It is really time to extend “The big 4” to “The big 5” to include them, isn’t it?

Full Review
Best Song: Dream Deceiver

#8. Neil Young | Homegrown

Neil Young homegrown front

A lost album from Neil that was originally recorded in 1974.  Many of its tunes have popped up elsewhere over the years, but they fit best right here. 

Full Review
Best Song: Star of Bethlehem

#7. The Strokes | The New Abnormal

The Strokes - The New Abnormal Cover

The Strokes made a comeback in 2020 with The New Abnormal.  It’s best tune is Bad Decisions, a mash up of Modern English’s I Melt With You and Billy Idol’s Dancing With Myself with original vocals and arrangement.  Listen to it for yourself!  It completely works! 

Full Review
Best Song: Bad Decisions

#6. Ella Fitzgerald | The Lost Berlin Tapes


Ella was best on stage and The Lost Berlin Tapes I believe captured her better than any other recording I have heard.  I normally would not include a live release in the top ten, but I can make an exception for Ella.  Her live performances are better than most who spent months in the studio.  Even if you don’t like jazz I think you should check it out. 

Full Review
Best Song: Mack The Knife

#5. John Fogerty | Fogerty’s Factory


Throughout the past spring and summer, John gathered with his children to make YouTube videos covering some of his classic tunes.  The band was dubbed Fogerty’s Factory, and listening back to it is like a time capsule for 2020.  I will cherish this positive side effect of continuous lockdowns forever. 

Full Review
Best Song: City Of New Orleans

#4. Huey Lewis & The News | Weather


Thank goodness the next two albums are short because that was the ONLY thing that made the rest of this list a wee bit easier to rank.  Weather is likely Huey Lewis’ final appearance in the recording studio.  It is a blessing how they recorded all 7 tracks before he was diagnosed with Ménière’s disease.  Every song is performed behind the idea that is was just “another album” instead of a final one.  Not a somber note is played making his last run a sweet one.

Full Review
Best Song: I Am There For You

#3. Freeways | True Bearings

Free ways True Bearing cover

Hard Rock done without shenanigans!  You can’t get more Canadian than that!   Freeways’ debut is short and left me wanting more.  These guys sound a bit like Thin Lizzy/’70s Judas Priest/Budgie while bringing their own into the mix.  Follow the links, listen to their tunes, then support them on Bandcamp.  I want to see this little ol’ band from Brampton performing live at some point!

Full Review
Best Song:
Dead Air

#2. Storm Force | Age of Fear


Labeling Storm Force’s debut album as a throwback to the sound of ’80s hair bands does it injustice.  Their music really does transcend the genre.  Think Cinderella, Van Halen, or Guns ‘n Roses.  Bands that were part of the scene, yet above it at the same time.  That’s where Storm Force belongs!

Full Review
Best Song:
Breathe – Words

#1. AC/DC | PWR/UP

Thank goodness my favourite band of ALL TIME took some time this year to spread their anti-noise pollution message!  Another stroke of luck for me as it made the decision for top spot a little easier.  I’ll admit, part of the reasons why I give PWR/UP the distinct honour of #1 are AC/DC’s legacy and timing of this release. 

As we began to enter the “2nd wave” in September, it cemented the notion I had for a while.  That one trip I took to the record store in August was really going to be it for a very long time.  The end of the year won’t be spent with friends and family.  We got the extended dance version of Covid-19 instead of the radio edit.  Forget 2020, I’ll be surprised if 2021 delivers “normal” at all.  That was a funk.

Then PWR/UP was officially announced.  Wait a minute… yes, things are garbage right now but good can still happen!

And AC/DC did deliver a fantastic album.  Many are saying it is their best since The Razors Edge.  I might even go back further.  Every spin of PWR/UP has me liking it more and more.  It is different while being their usual comfort food. 

Full Review
Best Song: Through The Mists Of Time

I’ll be handing out some awards tomorrow! Stay tuned!

[Album Review] Armored Saint | Punching The Sky

I am hardly an authority on Armored Saint.  For me, they have been the “other” band that features front man John Bush.  I discovered Anthrax in the ’90s when Bush was with them and it was very hard for me to disassociate him from them.

With Joey Belladonna now firmly planted as Anthrax’s front man, it seems that another reunion with Bush is unlikely anytime soon.  So, I gave Armored Saint’s latest offering, Punching The Sky, a spin.  Maybe they could get that ’90s Anthrax itch that I have been wanting to scratch for a long while.

Armored Saint seemed to be on stand by for Bush.  During his comings and goings with Anthrax,  they were there for him to fall back on.

armored saint member timeline
Band member timeline is taken from Wikipedia

I have to respect that.

Puching The Sky is Armored Saint’s first album of new material since 2015.  Bush and Bass player Joey Vera share a writing credits on all of the tunes on while the Sandoval brothers pop up here and there.

The album’s opening track, Standing on the Shoulders of Giants has that riff where I knew I was in for a good time.  These guys have the hooks!  And the “Punching the sky everyday” chorus is catchy.  It definitely has that driving flow I can recognize from ’90s Anthrax.

The 2nd track, End of the Attention Span has more of a thrash-metal chugging riff that I think will appeal to most hard rock/metal fans.  It is really pre-chorus and chorus in this tune I think separates Armored Saint from the rest.  If you like it, your probably a fan.  

The rest of the album is a mix of mid tempo riffs like Bubble, My Jurisdiction, and Fly in the Ointment with more heavy tunes that I prefer like Do Wrong to None and Missile to Gun.  But I appreciate the variation as the album never becomes dull or repetitive. 

Unfair is the only true mellow tune on the album and I didn’t care for it at first but it is really slow burn that reveals itself towards the end.  I started enjoying after a few spins and now it has become on of my favs.

The album goes out on a high note with Never You Fret which might be my favourite closer of 2020.  It’s a tune that oozes with confidence with the right amount of chug on the guitars.  I love the break down in the middle and the back to back guitar solos by P. Sandoval and Jeff Duncan which had me thinking of Iron Maiden’s   Judas Priest’s

The more I think about it though, these guys started in ’82 which makes

Well, I’m guilty too.  Here I am in 2020, finally giving them a chance, and it has been a positive experience.  No longer will I deem Armored Saint as the “other guys”.  I think what I have learned here is John Bush is a bigger part of ’90s Anthrax that I enjoy.  Armored Saint (at least here) are not as riff heavy as that band was, but their more melodic style allow Bush’s writing to shine even more.  

Better late than never, eh?


Armored Saint Punching The Sky back