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THE BEST OF THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – YEAR 5

BY JAY ROBERTS

For 2021, life continued to be complicated for the world at large. While there’s no need to rehash what we all know about that, the fifth year brought about some changes for The Cassette Chronicles series as well. Specifically, I had to cut it back to a bi-monthly schedule.

So while there may have been less articles coming out this year, the twenty four albums examined covered the gamut from the heaviest of metal to some of the most successful of 80’s top 40 music. One band was featured in five articles (though I only chose one to represent them), while a look back at the Giant album Time To Burn got me a content warning on Facebook because of the album artwork.

When I started out this series on a lark, I don’t know that I anticipated doing it for five years. But thanks to Limelight Magazine, I’ve been able to write a great number of albums and I look forward to continuing doing that very thing in 2022 as well. It will still be on a bi-monthly schedule but here’s to keeping the flame burning bright for the best in both well known and under the radar album gems.

While I don’t typically rank the albums in any specific numerical order, this year my favorite piece was brought on by quite possibly the saddest news for me personally in regards to the music world. The death of Mike Howe hit me hard and though it took me quite a while to get the words I wanted to say in a coherent fashion, my article on the album Blessing In Disguise balanced not only a look at the album itself but paid tribute to Howe, a vocalist I loved.

So take a look at that one and the other nine albums that you will see below, I think it is worth the trip. I thank everyone for continuing to read the series and I look forward to doing it all again next year. Come along for the ride, won’t you?

Please click on the cassette title to read the article.

#1 – METAL CHURCH –  BLESSING IN DISGUISE

#2 – JUDAS PRIEST – RAM IT DOWN

#3 – TESLA – THE GREAT RADIO CONTROVERSY

#4 – XYZ – HUNGRY

#5 – BLACKEYED SUSAN – ELECTRIC RATTLEBONE

#6 – RATT – DANCING UNDERCOVER

#7 – GIANT – TIME TO BURN

#8 – ELECTRIC BOYS – GROOVUS MAXIMUS

#9 – DIRTY LOOKS – TURN OF THE SCREW

#10 – NEVADA BEACH – ZERO DAY

THE ENGLISH BEAT TO PERFORM IN FALL RIVER, MASS.

The English Beat will perform at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on Friday, April 1, 2022, at 8 p.m. The band continues to dish out two-tone, ska, reggae and new wave, while mixing social commentary with danceability. Purchase tickets HERE.

Founded in 1979 by Dave Wakeling, The English Beat is a band with an energetic mix of musical styles and a sound like no other. Their infectious sound, which crosses fluidly between ska, soul, reggae, punk and rock, has allowed them to endure for four decades and appeal to fans of all ages all over the world.

Throughout their career, The English Beat has scored multi-platinum record sales, sold out shows and, most importantly, universal fan approval because they kept “The Beat” alive.

Along with their contemporaries The Specials, The Selecter, and Madness, the band became an overnight sensation and one of the most popular and influential bands of the British Two-Tone Ska movement. By Christmas 1979, The Beat were riding high in the UK charts with their first single, a smoking remake of the classic Smokey Robinson tune “Tears of a Clown.” Over the course of the next five years, The Beat toured relentlessly and released three studio albums: I Just Can’t Stop ItWh’appen, and Special Beat Service.

Following a lengthy hiatus, Wakeling continued to keep the music alive and strong, touring the world as The English Beat.

Today, The English Beat is still lead by Wakeling with an amazing all-star ska backing band that will play all their signature tunes, such as Mirror in the Bathroom,” “Save It For Later,” “Can’t Get Used to Losing You,” “Hands Off, She’s Mine,” and “I Confess,” as well as some covers, songs from General Public, and their 2016 studio album Here We Go Love, the band’s first new release since 1982’s Special Beat Service.

The Narrows Center is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets can be purchased online at narrowscenter.org or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Wednesday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

The English Beat (PHOTO BY EUGENIO IGLESIAS)

THE ZOMBIES TO PERFORM IN FALL RIVER, MASS.

Iconic British psychedelic pop legends The Zombies are back to celebrate their long-awaited Induction into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, with a new album in the works and their 2022 “Life Is A Merry-Go-Round” Tour, which will make a stop at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on May 1, 2022. Purchase tickets HERE.

After receiving their fourth nomination in 5 years, the support for The Zombies’ induction among the public and their peers was undeniable – the band placed 4th in the public online poll with over 330,000 votes, while even fellow nominee John Prine called for their induction before his own in a Billboard interview.  On March 29, 2019, at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, The Zombies joined Stevie Nicks, Radiohead, The Cure, Def Leppard, Janet Jackson, and Roxy Music as the 2019 Class of The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  Fittingly, the Induction Ceremony took place exactly 50 years to-the-day after The Zombies’ classic “Time of the Season” first hit #1 on the charts in America.

Never content to only look back, The Zombies spent the Pandemic touring-hiatus in the studio recording the follow-up to their 2015 Billboard-charting album, Still Got That Hunger. The title for their 2022 tour – “Life Is A Merry-Go-Round” – is a lyric from one of the new songs, but is also a fitting description of the dizzying effect the past 2 years have had on the world.  The band exclusively debuted several of the new songs in their only live concert of 2021, broadcast around the world in September from the legendary Abbey Road Studio 2 in London.  Led by founding members, vocalist Colin Blunstone and keyboardist Rod Argent, The Zombies’ 21st-Century line-up features Steve Rodford on drums, renowned session guitarist Tom Toomey, and the newest member, Søren Koch, who joined the band following the untimely passing of their beloved bassist Jim Rodford (formerly of ARGENT and The Kinks) in early 2018.

The band’s live performances, described by Rolling Stone as “absolutely triumphant”, take fans on a journey through time, from their early hits…their 1968 masterpiece Odessey & Oracle…post-Zombies solo favorites…right to today with brand-new material from their forthcoming album.

The second U.K. band following the Beatles to score a #1 hit in America, The Zombies infiltrated the airwaves with the sophisticated melodies, breathy vocals, choral back-up harmonies and jazzy keyboard riffs of their 1960’s hit singles “She’s Not There” and “Tell Her No.” Ironically, the group broke-up just prior to achieving their greatest success – the worldwide chart-topping single “Time of the Season,” from their swan-song album  Odessey & Oracle, ranked #100 in Rolling Stone’s ‘500 Greatest Albums of All Time.’  To this day, generations of new bands have cited The Zombies’ work as pop touchstones, and the band continues to be embraced by new generations of fans.

Following the break-up of the original band, lead vocalist Colin Blunstone went on to develop an acclaimed solo career (with hits including “Say You Don’t Mind,” “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted”, and “Old & Wise” with Alan Parsons Project) and keyboardist/songwriter Rod Argent rocked ‘70’s arenas with his eponymous band ARGENT (“Hold Your Head Up,” “God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You”), but the legend of The Zombies continued to take on a life of its own.  By the start of the new Millennium, Blunstone and Argent were inspired to resurrect The Zombies.

The explosive release of Still Got That Hunger proved that Zombies fever is stronger than ever, with premieres at Rolling StoneMojoThe Wall Street Journal, The Guardian  Speakeasy, and Spin, alongside special broadcast performances, including Later…With Jools Holland, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Conan, The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, CBS Saturday Morning and AOL Sessions. Moreover, it marked a historical moment on the Billboard charts, as The Zombies’ critically acclaimed album Odessey And Oracle re-entered the Billboard 100 forty-eight years later at the same time as Still Got That Hunger!  

The band’s 2019 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction marked a major triumph in their 5-decade career, but you can be sure they will not rest on their laurels.  The Zombies story continues on….!

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to his show can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Thursday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.

The Zombies – Photography by ALEX LAKE insta @twoshortdays WWW.TWOSHORTDAYS.COM

New Bedford’s Purchase Street Records Celebrates 5 Years

BY CHRISTOPHER TREACY

If you sell vinyl, they will come.

Or so it seems these days. But it remains to be seen if vinyl is here to stay; formats come and go. When Roger Chouinard opened Purchase Street Records in New Bedford exactly five years ago this Friday, December 3, wasn’t he even a little worried it wouldn’t take off?

“Totally,” he admitted during a recent chat. “But the way I look at it, the average person makes $300 to $500 a week and hopefully I can profit that amount with enough sales to pay myself. It’s worked out over the past five years.”

For the uninitiated, Chouinard’s shop is a little different. He mainly sells the music he knows best: metal and punk. He knows the industry from multiple perspectives as a retailer, as a working drummer, and as the nephew of  the late Bobby Chouinard who played in Billy Squier’s band, among others. Prior to opening his record shop, Chouinard wrote a book about his uncle, The Story of Bobby Chouinard, Drummer Extraordinaire, compiling memories and photographs culled from far and wide. At the time, he owned a tattoo shop and, not surprisingly, he has his fair share of body ink. And some piercings. As a result, he might look a bit intimidating, but for the most part he’s a gentle guy.

“I’m nicer than what I appear… most of the time,” he said with a laugh. “But I have an edgier mood going in the shop. When you walk in here it’s all hand painted stuff. First thing you see is a big KISS sign. There’s Skid Row, Dio, Type O Negative, and Guns N’ Roses posters on the wall, so, you know, it does have an attitude. So I feel the owner should have somewhat of an attitude. I make jokes and offer to help my customers find things so they know I’m approachable.”

Inside Purchase Street Records in New Bedford, MA

Despite being a specialty shop, Chouinard does carry some other genres and he stocks both new and used vinyl. He stays away from country, jazz, classical, and soul. He also doesn’t carry turntables, mainly because the ones he’d prefer to carry would be higher end. Additionally, he’s only got 400 square feet to work with, so he has to think strategically about maximizing the limited space.  

In the five years since he opened, record collecting has exploded. Looking back 20 years, many music shops were closing. Longstanding small businesses in and around metropolitan cities had made the transition from vinyl and cassettes to compact discs through the late 80s and 90s, but when digital downloads became widely available, brick and mortar stores began disappearing.

Some five years later, Newbury Comics began stocking small quantities of vinyl again and devoting some retail space to the medium. Since then, what began as a dull roar has grown into a clamoring demand for vinyl. It’d seem that many fans prefer to honor their music by owning hard copies of albums in their ultimate physical form; call it a backlash against the disposable nature of digital files. Now it’s to the point where there’s an industry shortage and seriously delayed manufacturing times. In turn, this has driven up prices for new vinyl. Used vinyl has also gotten more expensive, in part because of the pandemic: record collecting is something that can be done alone, at home. New or used, records can be mail ordered from around the world, and when lockdowns started in 2020, collectors got busy online.

Chouinard used this to his advantage when he was faced with having to close the shop due to the spreading Coronavirus.

“When I closed down and stopped ordering things from my distributors, I wasn’t in big debt with my credit card, per se, but I did have a balance I wanted to pay off. And since I don’t usually do mail order, I went into my basement and picked out a lot of releases that I’d overstocked in the past. For the first time, I put them online for mail order and actually sold my extra stock for substantially more money than the price point in the store. These were titles that didn’t move in the store, for whatever reason, but the price had tripled online.”

Chouinard also got crafty, selling exclusive t-shirts, hats, and tote bags online to an audience that was eager to help him stay afloat. But as someone that’d worked seven days a week pretty much since he turned 18, he was also okay with having a couple months off. He says it gave him time to work on his house and reorganize the record store.

“I stayed away from the curbside pickup,” he said. “I laid back and let everybody else do that. I tried to mainly just stay home and take it easy while they figured out how to get a handle on this thing.”

Despite having to close his doors for a bit, Chouinard felt confident that when it came time to reopen, his customers would return. He knows he’s providing a desired service. And if you weren’t already aware, metal fans are unusually passionate about their collecting.

“Metal guys will spend their last dime on a record and they just don’t care, it’s more important to them,” he explained. “They’re like okay, so I can have this sandwich or I can have this metal record that I’ve never seen. They never second guess themselves. And they tend to be completists. So, the collectability factor is definitely there. Also, a lot of metal stuff is very limited. Some of it has a different meaning, you might say it sends a ‘bad message,’ so sometimes you can’t buy it online as a result, because certain platforms won’t carry it. But we might have it and when a metal dude sees that record, they’re like, I’ve never seen this before, and I can’t buy it online, I need to buy this. As for metal guys selling their records, they would lose their apartment before they’d sell their records.”

Some obviously do sell their records or Chouinard would be at a loss to carry used metal, but there’s a scarcity-mentality that keeps his customers loyal. And, for collectors of a certain age, there’s an irresistible nostalgia factor. This gets reinforced by his having made the shop a destination spot for artists to do signings and, in some cases, just to stop in and shop on their way in and out of the area­—The Vault Music Hall is located directly next door. You might just get to meet some lifelong heroes at the store.

FireHouse vocalist CJ Snare, left, holds up a copy of his band’s debut album with Purchase Street Records owner Roger Chouinard before a show at the Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on November 20, 2021. (PHOTO BY JOHN KIVEL)

“I’ve met so many local and national artists at Purchase Street Records,” said John Sylvia, a New Bedford resident and ongoing customer. “There is no better feeling than pulling up, seeing tour busses in front of the venue next door, walking into the store, and seeing band members hanging out, telling stories, or buying records for themselves.”

Sylvia first entered Chouinard’s store to buy a spot in line for a signing with Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider and says he felt like he was walking into 1986. He began to frequent the establishment regularly, becoming close with Chouinard, and helping out when needed. The camaraderie he describes harks back to a past when record stores were places at which local music enthusiasts would hang out in their spare time—a culture that has returned, to some degree, despite the price hike for the records themselves.

“The store has become such an important part of my life,” Sylvia said. “As a result, I began re-collecting the items of my youth—patches, pins, posters, cassettes, t-shirts, and, of course, records. Roger has been able to connect me with some amazing, hard to find pieces. People travel from all over New England and beyond to visit his store. I hear time and time again about how impressed they are with his selection of records. If he doesn’t have it, which is rare, chances are better than good that he can find it for you.”

Purchase Street Records customer John Syliva, left, attends an in-store meet and greet with Twister Sister frontman Dee Snider. (PHOTO BY BOB MENDELL)

One thing that’s certain: collectors want independent record stores to stay around, so they continue spending the money to help them subsist.

“A lot of folks want to have original stuff and it’s gotten expensive,” Chouinard explained. “It’s more of a collector’s value. There are plenty of $5 and $8 Pat Benatar and Billy Joel records in the racks, but especially with a lot of the metal that came out in the 90s—they didn’t print that much of it, so that drives up the price. You can buy reissues when they’re available, but collectors often want the sense of history that comes with buying original copies. And they’ll wait until they find it. It’s almost like an Easter egg hunt for them. The flipside is that the record has been floating around for thirty years and, sometimes, may have been mishandled along the way. Take Metallica’s  Master of Puppets. Originals are between $100 and $200, depending on the pressing. You can buy a reissue for $24. Especially for a lot of the newer people, they’re okay with $24 Master of Puppets, because you still get the music and the vinyl is brand new. But a lot of the more devoted metal guys feel that buying reissues demeans their collection.”

Regardless, Chouinard says that in the five years he’s been opened, one important thing he’s learned is never to make assumptions.

“As for buying and selling, you never know what’s gonna walk through the door,” he said. “I’ve had holy grail records walk into the store in this town. And then I’ve taken entire collections and just thrown them out because they’re all junk. But you take the day that’s given to you and just try to succeed. You never judge a customer when they first come in. I always try and greet new customers the way I would greet one of my best customers. Because when somebody new walks through the door, you just don’t know who it is.”

Purchase Street Records is located at 767 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. If you stop by the store this weekend, Dec. 3-5, you can get 15% off your entire purchase and a free shirt with a $40 purchase. Furthermore, hoodies are $30 and hats are $15. Visit the store’s Facebook page by clicking HERE for more info and the latest news.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – CHEAP TRICK’S ‘STANDING ON THE EDGE’

BY JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

(WRITER’S NOTE: This is the final article in The Cassette Chronicles series for 2021. There will be a best of highlight article in the next week or two. The series will return for another year in early 2022. Thank you for reading!)

CHEAP TRICK – STANDING ON THE EDGE (1985)

Regardless of the acclaim, or lack thereof, Cheap Trick’s eighth studio album Standing On The Edge receives from either the fans or from critics past and present, it was this album that started everything for me with the band.

While the album was released in 1985, I think it was a few years after the fact when I actually came into possession of the cassette copy that I still have to this day. I remember that because when I went to my junior prom in 1988, I was trying to play it in the limo a few of us got together for the event but only a couple of songs ever got played because those other people turned out to have zero musical taste.

That aside though, I can truly say that everything about Standing On The Edge did and still does resonate with me to this day.

The ten track album doesn’t have a flaw in my opinion. On the first side of the album, things kick off in a beautifully hard rocking Rick Neilsen-written song with “Little Sister”. It’s got a playful innuendo soaked set of lyrics that are so memorable that you don’t have to work hard to remember them and sing along to every time you hear the song.

That leads into the album’s lead single, “Tonight It’s You”. The single didn’t quite make the Top 40 singles chart but it did come close and it is a solid power ballad type of track, with a slightly more rocking feel in the song’s chorus. If you were someone who communicates your feelings towards your significant other (or your potential significant other), this is definitely the kind of track you’d use for that purpose.

“Love Comes” is another slower type track. It’s full of melodic hooks and lyrically sentimental but the midtempo pace doesn’t let it get bogged down into overt sweetness that would give one a toothache. (The song got re-recorded for the “lost” Robin Zander solo album Countryside Blvd. in 2010.)

The song “She’s Got Motion” is a great showcase for the harder edged and faster paced side of singer Robin Zander’s vocals. I love the way he interprets the lyrics for his performance on this track. The edgier side of his vocals gets a great work out on the more rocking tracks throughout the album. The side one closing “How About You” is another great example of Zander just attacking the song lyrics with a frenzied approach.

The second side of Standing On The Edge kicks off with the album’s title track and it blazes fast and furious with both music and Zander’s vocals.

While Tom Petersson was out of the band during this time, Jon Brant was the band’s bassist. And between he and Bun E. Carlos, the rhythm section was pounding out some great sounds to form the foundation of the sounds. There was also a heavy dose of electronic drums added in the mixing of the album but overall, everything just sounds great.

The song “This Time Around” is a track that once again showcases the band’s softer side but wisely balances out the slower portions of the song with a bit more upbeat pacing in spots.

The album closes out with three incredible hard rocking tracks. “Rock All Night” has a crushing drum sound powering through the entire track and Cheap Trick sounds so “heavy” here. This is a real monster track that doesn’t get nearly the credit it should.

“Cover Girl” is an explosive rocker that speeds along in a fast and furious manner, yet doesn’t sacrifice any of the melody that is woven into the song. I like the way the vocals are layered throughout the track as well. It’s guaranteed to get your blood pumping and is a particular highlight for me even now.

The closing song “Wild Wild Women” isn’t quite as fast paced as “Cover Girl” but it still rocks pretty hard. As I listened to the album back in the day, I would sing along to this song and mimic the various intonations Robin Zander has in his vocals for the song. Granted, I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, but the effort was there at least.

For an album that is just under 40 minutes long, Standing On The Edge is a perfect summation of the band to me. It’s full of hard rocking sounds guaranteed to flood with you adrenaline, but has the kind of melodic sound that continues to endear the band to listeners all these years later. I saw a review quoted on the album’s Wikipedia page that referred to Cheap Trick as the “pranksters of pop”, and I think that’s a pretty good compliment.

But while the band never seems to be having anything less than a blast with their music, don’t let the whole pranksters aspect make you forget that Cheap Trick knows how to craft perfect rock and roll / pop songs that stand the test of time.

I own every studio album (and more than a few live, compilation and archival releases) that Cheap Trick has ever released. And while the band has a lot of classically appreciated albums that get far more respect, I still come back to Standing On The Edge as “MY” Cheap Trick album. If I’m trying to get someone into the band, I still pull it out as an example of everything that is great about the band!

NOTES OF INTEREST: Jack Douglas was the producer for Standing On The Edge. He produced the band’s self-titled debut album in 1977 as well as the band’s Found All The Parts EP. However, according to Wikipedia, Tony Platt handled the mixing of the album, which is why the electronic drums and keyboards play a bigger role in the album than had apparently originally been intended.

The 2010 reissue of the album (which I’m now going to have to track down a copy for myself) has five bonus tracks on it.

Mark Radice, who played keyboards for the Standing On The Edge album, also co-wrote eight of the ten songs on the album with the members of Cheap Trick.

FILMING LOCATION SPOTLIGHT – “DALLAS”

On the final Friday of every month in 2021, Limelight Magazine spotlights the filming location site(s) we visited for some of our favorite (and not so favorite) films and TV shows. Today we spotlight three of the filming locations for Dallas, which aired on CBS from from April 2, 1978, to May 3, 1991, and on TNT from June 13, 2012, to September 22, 2014. The top photo is a screen shot taken from the TV show while the photo underneath is what the location looks like when we visited in May 2012 and September 2016. These locations are located in Parker, TX.

Mark Cherone channels Pete Townshend in Who celebration band SlipKid with brother Gary

BY CHRISTOPHER TREACY

Plenty of adolescents have been inspired to pursue the guitar because of Pete Townhsend. But only a few professional guitarists actually end up playing Townshend’s role in a Who cover band, and even fewer are good at it.

Enter Mark Cherone.

As a member of Hurtsmile with his brother, Extreme’s Gary Cherone, he gets to satisfy his ongoing itch to play original material, which has remained his primary musical ambition since attending Berklee College of Music in the mid-80s. This leaves him wide open to enjoy the duo’s other project, SlipKid. Dubbed “A Celebration of The Who,” the brothers Cherone get to channel their heroes with an invigorating showcase of tunes that highlights The Who’s undeniable genius, power, and passion.

Slowly emerging from the pandemic, SlipKid is playing at The Vault Music Hall in New Bedford, MA, on Saturday, January 29, 2022. Purchase tickets HERE. Johnny Barnes and the Nightcrawlers open the show.

Mark Cherone recently took the time to speak with Limelight Magazine about how this project came to be and what it means to him and his brother.  

LM: Do you remember the first time you heard The Who?

MC: I do. I remember. You know, since childhood I’ve grown to love many artists like all of us do, but The Who? The Who made me want to play guitar and be in a band. I saw their movie, The Kids Are Alright, in the theater in the late 70s, I was 10 or 11. A friend of my brother took me. And there it was on the big screen! I just remember seeing Pete Townsend slide across the stage on his knees during “Won’t Get Fooled Again” at the end of the movie, and I just thought he was the coolest person on the planet. I’ve loved him ever since, his whole career, I love his solo albums. I’m just crazy for him, still, and I love The Who. So SlipKid is really a labor of love. I’ve never been in a cover band, only original bands, which, looking back, seems a little odd. I kind of wish I had played in cover bands… maybe it could’ve helped my guitar playing.

LM: So, what were you doing while your brother was having success with Nuno Bettencourt in Extreme?

MC: I was also in a band. Actually, I was in a couple of bands before Gary and I started Hurtsmile with Joe Pessia around 2007. In the time during Extreme’s huge success, I was in a band called Flesh. And Nuno helped us out, helped get our album out. Extreme took us on tour, which was a lot of fun. Then, in the late 90s, I was in a band called Super Zero, which was another great band and fun time. We got two albums out on our own. A Japanese company put out some of our music, so we went over to Japan. And after that, I did another band where I was singing. Since then, I started splitting time between SlipKid and Hurtsmile, since they started around the same time.

LM: How did SlipKid come about?

MC: My whole career, I just dove into the original music thing. Looking back, I don’t know if that was wise, but it’s what I did. Many years ago now, Gary and I talked about doing some kind of Who thing and it just seemed like a cool idea. We talked about doing Tommy, which SlipKid has performed. It kept coming up when we’d see each other. At one point he called and said “Hey, I’ve got a drummer here… come down and let’s run through a couple of songs.” And it just snowballed right away. The very next week, he had a bass player. And the drummer then tells us, “I know a keyboardist that knows all the Who tunes,” and we were like “Get him over here.” So it just came together, and pretty quickly at that. When we’ve performed Tommy… let’s just say it’s a pretty big undertaking. Honestly, I’m not even sure how we pulled it off, but we did the entire thing. The audience seemed to love it and we had so much fun doing it. I really love being in this band.

LM: So, it looks like SlipKid was active for a while and then took a hiatus?

MC: Sort of, yes. This is the second coming of SlipKid. We got started a while ago—maybe 2006 or 2007? I honestly don’t remember, but it was around the same time Hurtsmile started. And we played out all around Boston and the surrounding area. Gary would leave and do Extreme tours and other projects, so we worked around that for about eight years. But then, at a certain point, we took a good ol’ break and we were kind of out of commission for a handful of years. Sometime in 2019, we said let’s try to get this set back up and running and do some shows. We were able to do two shows in January of 2020, and then the pandemic hit, so we ended up taking another year off.

LM: Since this is your first cover band, it must feel completely different to step into somebody else’s catalog. Is it almost a relief? Or, is it more daunting? Maybe a little bit of both?

MC: It’s been interesting and wild. These are songs that we’ve been singing along to, on the radio, in the car, for decades. And then you go to learn the chords and discover surprises like really weird chord changes, and you have to wonder, like, ‘why would he go from here to here??’ But, you have to learn it. I ended up developing an even greater appreciation for Pete’s writing when I had to figure out the chords and pay attention to the arrangements in a new way. A lot of the stuff on the radio is very square—you know, eight measures for this, eight measures for that, eight measures for the other. Pete does these weird nine-measure, ten-measure solo sections, just really odd. We asked each other, ‘should we straighten this out and make it square?’ But we decided to perform the songs as they were written, which has made it more challenging, but it’s helped us with Hurtsmile because we will take more chances with progressive arrangements thanks to learning this material.

LM: How did you go about creating a setlist? I imagine it’s a tough call whether to stick with crowd-pleasers or indulge in deeper cuts that might be more satisfying to you, but maybe not for the audience.

MC: I think we’re such Who fans that we have to kind of ask ourselves, “I love the song, but does everyone else love this song?” except for the most obvious ones. And we do have to stick close to the vest on a majority of the set, so we don’t lose the audience. But we throw in as many deep cuts as we can without being self-indulgent. We decided on a mostly chronological approach. There are a few things out of order, but for the most part, it’s kept chronological, so it shows the band’s musical evolution.

LM: The song “Slip Kid” was originally written as a vague warning about the music business, amongst other things. Was that the context in which you chose the band name?

MC: No, not really. It was an aesthetic choice. It’s the sound of it, the punchiness of it. I don’t think we brought in the lyrical content of that particular song, but we’re aware of the band’s rebellious edge. We don’t even call it a tribute band, we refer to it as ‘A Celebration of The Who.’ We go up there and we try to channel the visceral piss and vinegar of The Who without smashing our instruments, you know? More than imitating or paying tribute, we’re celebrating this incredible catalog of music.

The Vault is located at 791 Purchase Street in New Bedford, MA. The venue is set within a former bank building featuring original vault doors and a truly historic feel. Patrons have raved about the superior acoustics and intimate setting.

Please note that one MUST BE 21 or OLDER with Valid ID for Entry.

THE CASSETTE CHRONICLES – BLACK ‘N BLUE’S ‘WITHOUT LOVE’

By JAY ROBERTS

The Cassette Chronicles is a continuing series of mini reviews and reflections on albums from the 1980’s and 1990’s. The aim of this series is to highlight both known and underappreciated albums from rock, pop and metal genres from this time period through the cassette editions of their releases. Some of the albums I have known about and loved for years, while others are new to me and were music I’ve always wanted to hear. There will be some review analysis and my own personal stories about my connection with various albums. These opinions are strictly my own and do not reflect the views of anyone else at Limelight Magazine.

BLACK ‘N BLUE – WITHOUT LOVE (1985)

More than three years ago, I wrote about Black ‘N Blue’s third album Nasty Nasty. In the opening of the article, I mentioned that the album had more of a raw production sound to it after a more streamlined sound failed to break the band to a bigger audience.

That attempt at a more streamlined sound was this second album from the band. While I’ve known of the band for decades, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time checking out their music and so as I listened to Without Love for this article, I was hearing it for the very first time. I guess thirty six years from the album’s original release qualifies as being late to the party.

While the band’s timing and material is usually cited as the reason for why they didn’t become more well-known, I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this album. I do like a real melodic hook to the rock I listen to, so as Without Love opened with the track “Rockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, I was quickly taken with the track. It’s a fast paced rocker (a description that fits most of the eleven songs on the album) that has a great instaneous hook that draws you in.

Black ‘N Blue didn’t quite follow that opening song up strongly with the next two songs on Side One of Without Love though. The album’s title track is good but doesn’t quite thrill me the way the first song did and “Stop The Lightning” was shoulder shrug inducing for me, just a “meh” kind of track.

But the first side does come back to form strongly with the song “Nature Of The Beach”, which is an ode to living life on said beach. It’s got a great feel to the music and I like the lyrical / vocal take from Jaime St. James. As for the side closing “Miss Mystery”, that’s a song that has such a catchy delivery I found that I wished it had become a hit for the band.

While I wasn’t totally sold on the entirety of Side One, when I flipped the tape over I found that I really loved Side Two.

The second side of Without Love kicks off with “Swing Time”, which much like “Rockin’ On Heaven’s Door” is a side opening rocker guaranteed to hook you fast. I loved the song.

While I thought the “Bombastic Plastic” song title (and ensuing use of it in the chorus) came off sounding a bit silly, the music for the track more than made up for it. The song “Strange Things” opens up with a slower delivery that deepens the music’s feel and as it goes on, a more rocking tempo takes over. The opening part of the song seemingly hinted at a kind of cinematic type of song which I think would’ve played out great. That said, I liked how the band took both styles in the song and melded them into one great song.

There’s a definitive stomp to the groove driven bluesy rock sound on “Two Wrongs (Don’t Make It Love”). For those who love that overt blues rock sound in their music, you will love this one.

Black ‘N Blue’s cover of the Aerosmith song “Same Old Song And Dance” came out rather well. It pretty much plays it straightforward with how they perform the track, but the weird thing is that I’m not sure how many members of the actual band were involved in the recording for this one. If you look at the liner notes, other than vocals and lead guitar, it seems everything was played by guest musicians (including noted music producer Bob Rock on rhythm guitar). Call me crazy but what’s the point of doing a cover if most of your band doesn’t appear on the track?

Of course, if you want the true spark track that drives my enjoyment of Without Love, look no further than “We Got The Fire”. This song is a killer rock track that shows off the band in spectacular fashion. While I have a ways to go in exploring all the songs Black ‘N Blue recorded, this one is definitely a song that would make my best of list for sure.

It’s strange that an album that was so relatively unpopular back in the day that the band overhauled their sound the next time out would be one I enjoyed so much. I believe it is available on CD and I just might find myself upgrading because Black ‘N Blue’s Without Love is one hell of an entertaining release!

NOTES OF INTEREST: The band co-wrote the title track and “Miss Mystery” with Jim Vallance, the longtime songwriting partner of Bryan Adams.

Vallance played “Simmons drums” on “We Got The Fire”. The song featured Loverboy singer Mike Reno on backing vocals and Toto’s Steve Porcaro as one of three musicians credited on keyboards for the track. Adam Bomb contributed “additional guitars” to the song as well.

The band’s cover of Aerosmith’s “Same Old Song And Dance” being included on the cassette edition of Without Love seems to have been forgotten in terms of online research. I looked at the Wikipedia entry for the album and the song is only listed as a bonus track for the CD version.

BLUE OYSTER CULT FOUNDING MEMBER ALBERT BOUCHARD TO PERFORM “IMAGINOS” AT NARROWS CENTER WITH BAND

Albert Bouchard

If you are a fan of Blue Oyster Cult, you are in for a treat! Albert Bouchard, who is one of the founding members of the band, will be performing a rare concert at the Narrows Center in Fall River, MA, on Saturday, January 15, 2022. He will be playing with a full band songs from his Imaginos saga and other Blue Oyster Cult classics. Guitarist Paul Bielatowicz, of Carl Palmer’s ELP Legacy, opens the show. Purchase tickets HERE.

Albert Bouchard is best known as one of the founding members of Blue Öyster Cult. The original band sold millions of albums for Columbia Records with such classic songs as “Don’t Fear the Reaper” and the #1 hit on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart “Burning For You.”

​As a songwriter, Bouchard wrote many BÖC songs including the very popular “Astronomy” which was covered by Metallica on their 1998’s release Garage Inc. and the live staple “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” which he also sang lead vocals.

Bouchard’s famous cowbell on “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” was the basis of the popular SNL skit with Will Ferrell and Christopher Walken, which has gained over 13 million views and spawned the phrase “More Cowbell.”

Last year during the pandemic, Bouchard released a reimagined version of his old band’s 1988 classic concept album, Imaginos, aptly titled Re Imaginos. The second record of the Imaginos saga, Imaginos II — Bombs over Germany (minus zero and counting), was released on October 22. It continues the story based on the writings and poems of late Blue Öyster Cult manager, producer and songwriter Sandy Pearlman about an alien conspiracy that comes to fruition during the late 1800s and early 1900s through the actions of an evil character named Imaginos.

The new album features guest contributions from longtime Blue Öyster Cult members Eric Bloom and Donald “Buck Dharma” Roeser and the group’s former bassist, Joe Bouchard, and current multi-instrumentalist Richie Castellano, as well as from Dictators guitarist Ross the Boss.

It also features new versions of a variety of early Blue Öyster Cult songs, including “Cities on Flame with Rock and Roll,” “The Red and the Black” and “Dominance and Submission.” Click HERE to check out Bouchard’s new music video for his reworked version of “OD’d On Life Itself.” This is one of the many songs we expect him to play at this show.

For this special show at the Narrows, Bouchard will be playing many songs from the Imaginos saga live for the first time with a full band. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime show!

Paul Bielatowicz

ABOUT THE OPENER – PAUL BIELATOWICZ

Paul Bielatowicz is best known for his virtuoso guitar work with some of the biggest names in progressive rock. He’s played, recorded and toured with Carl Palmer (ELP), Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic), YES, Todd Rundgren, John Lodge and The Alan Parsons Project.

In 2014, he released his debut solo album Preludes & Etudes, featuring solo electric guitar arrangements of virtuoso classical showpieces. When COVID 19 halted all touring, Paul spent the best part of two years working in the studio, writing and recording music for three albums… one of those projects is this soundtrack to the classic 1922 Nosferatu film. 

The Nosferatu Live show brings together a variety of musical styles and instruments (guitars, keyboards, analog synths, vocals… even a Theremin) in an exciting theatrical production that breaths new life into the undead classic!

The Narrows Center for the Arts is located at 16 Anawan Street. Tickets to this show can be purchased online HERE or by calling the box office at 508-324-1926. For those wanting to purchase tickets in person, box office hours are Thursday through Saturday, 12 noon to 5 p.m.