CD Scavenger Hunt (February update)

I’m late again posting the CD Scavenger Hunt updates! If you’re reading this, I’m actually writing this in mid-April but I’m back dating it for the end of February. It’s not that I don’t want to share my hunting, but I just can’t seem to get motivatd to write. Just a quick note: I’m taking out the savings totals because they are irrelevant considering I buy everything either on sale or used…..when I feel the need to express my keen bargain hunting savings strategies, I will mention it in the summary. I did a lot of shopping again so here’s the treasures for February 2012…..

Newbury Comics

Van Halen – A Different Kind Of Truth (2012)- $14
Metallica – Beyond Magnetic E.P. (2012) – $6
Lillian Axe – XI: The Days Before Tomorrow (2012) – $10
Treat – Coup De Grace (2010) – $6 used
Sunstorm – Emotional Fire (2012) – $16
UFO – Seven Deadly (2012) – $10
Scorpions – Live In 3D: Get Your Sting & Blackout Blu-Ray (2012) – $20
Queen – Days Of Our Lives DVD (2012) – $12

I made three separate shopping trips to my local Newbury Comics in February for all the new releases at sale prices. Tops on my want list this month were the new Van Halen album (which I sprung for the special edition with the bonus DVD) and the new UFO album, SEVEN DEADLY, that came in a digipak with two bonus tracks. I also bought the new Lillian Axe album, the Queen documentary DVD and my first ever Blu-Ray Disc with the Scorpions – Live In 3D…..all on sale. I grabbed the Metallica E.P. because it was a cheap six bucks and I’m hoping it helps me recover from LULU and I found a used copy of Treat’s COUP DE GRACE album from 2010 for another six bucks. Unfortunately I had to bite the bullet and pay the full import price for the new Sunstorm record but being able to hear the smoothest voice in Hard Rock, Joe Lynn Turner, is worth the price paid.

Wal-Mart

Jon Bon Jovi – Blaze Of Glory: Young Guns II Soundtrack (1990) – $5
Ozzy Osbourne – Live At Budokan (2002) – $5

I hate shopping at Wal-Mart! Nothing is worse than being in a Wal-Mart on a rainy day at 2pm when it’s crowded! Wal-Mart is one of the true evils of U.S. retail but I’m not going to get into all that right now. I was with the family and we had to go into Wal-Mart for some reason (I can’t remember why!) but I found the silver lining to the worst shopping experience — the CD bins! Now Wal-Mart has no selection as far as CDs & DVDs go, they basically cater to the new releases and greatest hits in order to get “Mr. & Mrs. John Q. Public” to make an impulse buy. In front of the “music dept”, were two large round plastic bins and they were filled with CDs so I went bin diving and came up with two CDs I didn’t own: the Jon Bon Jovi solo album for the Young Guns II movie and Ozzy’s live album from the Budokan in Japan. Both were brand new, both were $5!

Think Tank Media

Lana Lane – El Dorado Hotel (2012) – $15
Lana Lane – Curious Goods Special Edition (2002) – $5

Think Tank Media is the record label and distributor of all the Lana Lane albums…..it’s run by her husband Erik Norlander who plays on her albums and is in the band Rocket Scientists. I read about the new Lana Lane album, EL DORADO HOTEL, so I surfed over to the website and found a sale! A ton of back catalog titles from Lana Lane, Erik Norlander solo amd Rocket Scientists were all priced around $5! Unfortunately, I have almost all the Lana Lane albums but I was able to grab the new album for a reasonable $15 and the double CD special edition of Lana’s 1996 album CURIOUS GOODS. The special edition includes the original CURIOUS GOODS album from 1996 (that’s way out of print!) with the cover of Steely Dan’s ‘Do It Again’ on the first disc and the 2002 reissue of CURIOUS GOODS (also out of print!) that replaces the Steely Dan cover with a cover of the classic James Bond theme ‘You Only Live Twice’.

Ebay

Zebra – s/t (1983) – $11 used
Mass – Sea Of Black (2010) – $4
Sister – Hated (2011) – $6
Vollmer – When Pigs Fly (1999) – $5 used
Helix – White Lace & Black Leather (1981) – $5 used

Ebay had some great bargains this month! I finally found the first Zebra album and finished off my Zebra collection…..’Tell Me What You Want’ is a great old tune! I got both the Mass and Sister albums from the same seller but different auctions. Both CDs were sealed and brand new and I got them for peanuts, the seller was kind enough to combine shipping and send them together so both discs and shipping totalled $10! I finally get to hear what Sister sounds like because I couldn’t bring myself to pay the $15 at the record store and I was able to replace the CDR of SEA OF BLACK that I made from the promotional download I was sent before Mass released the album. I also got closer to completing my Helix collection by winning an auction that included mainman Brian Vollmer’s solo album from 1999 and Helix’s second album WHITE LACE & BLACK LEATHER (rare to find on CD!). Both CDs were used but in mint condition and the total price of $10 for both CDs included shipping costs.

Total = $155

Total (year) = $411

Average Price (per item) = $8.75

Total CDs (year) = 47

Total DVDs (year) = 2

Total Blu-Rays (year) = 1

New video from Helix – ‘When The Bitter’s Got The Better Of You’ from Vagabond Bones (2009)

From Helix mainman Brian Vollmer:

Check out our new video for “When the Bitter’s Got the Better of You” from the Vagabond Bones CD. Brent put this together over the past month. We’re shooting for 20,000 hits on Youtube. Help us reach our goal! Please pass the link along to all your friends if you are a Helix fan.

We’re in Woostock, Ontario this week and now have bookings into September.  Be there or be square!

Cheers!
Brian V

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For more information on Helix, go to their official website PlanetHelix

Read my review for Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009)

Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009)

Helix – Vagabond Bones (2009, Perris Records)

  1. The Animal Inside (Won’t Be Denied)
  2. Go Hard Or Go Home
  3. Vagabond Bones
  4. Monday Morning Meltdown
  5. When The Bitter’s Got The Better Of You
  6. Hung Over But Still Hangin’ In
  7. Best Mistake I Never Made
  8. Make ‘Em Dance
  9. Jack It Up

Musicians:
Brian Vollmer – vocals
Sean Kelly – guitar, bass, background vocals
Brent “The Doctor” Doerner – guitar, background vocals
Steve Georgakopoulos – guitar
Brent “Ned” Niemi – drums
Rob MacEachern – drums
Greg “Fritz” Hinz – drums
Daryl Gray – bass, background vocals
Cheryl Lescom – vocals

Producers: Aaron Murray, Sean Kelly, Brian Vollmer

Country: Canada

Total Time = 31:48

Helix
Helix MySpace page
Perris Records

Helix is back with their 12 studio album, VAGABOND BONES, just in time to celebrate their 35th anniversary. Founding lead singer Brian Vollmer has kept the Helix legacy alive through multiple lineup changes over the years and it’s more of the same this time around. Sean Kelly (Crash Kelly) joined the band in early 2009, contributed to the album and touring, and left to join pop star Nelly Furtado resulting in Vollmer reuniting with the classic ’80s lineup of Helix including Brent Doerner, Greg Hinz and Daryl Gray for live shows and parts of the album recording. Steve Georgakopoulos and Rob MacEachern return to add guitar and drums to the new record as they did on THE POWER OF ROCK AND ROLL in 2007. Put the lineup changes aside…..a new Helix record is always welcome!

If you’ve listened to Helix before then you know exactly what you’re going to get: an ’80s Hard Rock sound that rooted in basic blues/boogie, like an AC/DC, Kix or Krokus, with solid guitars and energetic vocals. Basically it’s Hard Rock music like I remember it…..music you played at high volumes and sang along to while performing your best air guitar moves. That’s why some of the best records today are made by bands with tons of experience and knowledge of their craft…..like Helix. VAGABOND BONES keeps the party going with a lot of songs that have to do with just that…..partying! The festivities begin with the simple but effective ‘The Animal Inside (Won’t Be Denied)’, a Hard Rock song that accurately resembles the classic early ’80s Helix sound, and the basic AC/DC stomp of ‘Go Hard Or Go Home’. This is no frills, in your face guitar Rock straight off the bat and it proves that Helix still rocks with the best of them. The title track, ‘Vagabond Bones’, continues the good time party Rock with an infectious chorus and solid background vocals up against a basic energetic riff. This is the meat & potatoes music that Helix lives on and they keep putting it right in your face.

‘Monday Morning Meltdown’ starts a quick musical shift and, even though the song is still Hard Rock, it’s has more melodic tones and presentation over another simple guitar riff and the hook is all over the bridge and chorus. This song has a bit of a Cheap Trick vibe going for it at times and it’s turned out to be one of my favorites from the album. The alcohol fueled ‘When The Bitter’s Got The Better Of You’ and ‘Hung Over But Still Hangin’ In’ continue the partying theme that runs through VAGABOND BONES and they form an interesting pair. ‘Bitter…’ drives along at quick pace and almost seems a little comical in it’s tale of alcohol’s control at the exact drinking moment while ‘Hung Over…’ tells a similar tale but from the morning after’s perspective. Of the two, I prefer ‘Hung Over…’ with it’s basic sleazy and dirty groove that reminds again of Bon Scott era AC/DC and early Rose Tattoo. The melodic Cheap Trick vibe returns on ‘Best Mistake I Never Made’ and incorporates a bit of Country influences to add another dimension to the overall sound. The guitar tone is great and, even though the overall sound of the song isn’t completely heavy, it stills packs a good punch. Even though I like the basic Helix sound it’s good to hear the band branch out a bit. ‘Make’em Dance’ is uptempo and fun with a swirling riff and pumping bassline…..I just don’t know if I really like this one all that much. It’s a decent track and it fits the band but the “na, na, na’s” don’t do it for me…..a small hiccup. Last song of the album is Jack Daniels fuelled ‘Jack It Up’ that is pure attitude and groove, going along with the main theme of the record. Again more AC/DC style in there but you can hear the boozey delivery from Vollmer, he let’s us know that he may know a thing or two about having a few drinks!

Bottom Line:
Helix is one of those bands that never disappoints. Every album is well done with solid songs that follow a certain formula that the band always follows well. The overall sound dates to the late ’70s/early ’80s but Helix has never strayed from that style, their style. It’s cool to get a record with well written party Rock tunes that are infectious from start to finish with great guitar work. And what’s more Rock ‘N’ Roll than booze? If you’ve read the Brian Vollmer/Helix book Gimme An R! then you know that this band knows it’s way around the excesses of alcohol! VAGABOND BONES is a fun party album that deserves to be played on 10. It also proves that the older bands still do it better and hopefully Vollmer and company will give us another solid record in the years to come. I couldn’t find a bad song on the album and the only drawback is that the music only lasts just over a half hour. I found myself wanting more…..but maybe that’s exactly what Helix wants us to feel like when they drop another record on us in a couple of years.

Favorite Songs:
‘Go Hard Or Go Home’, ‘Monday Morning Meltdown’, ‘Hung Over But Still Hangin’ In’, ‘Jack It Up’

Interview with Brian Vollmer of Helix

Helix has a new album out now called A HEAVY MENTAL CHRISTMAS and I had the opportunity to ask founding member/lead singer Brian Vollmer a few questions…..

12 Questions with Brian Vollmer of Helix

Santa Vollmer

HMA — Helix has a brand new album out called A HEAVY MENTAL CHRISTMAS, please tell us about the new record.

Brian Vollmer — The idea for the CD came about while I was out to dinner with Mitch Lafon of Brave Words and Bloody Knuckles when we played in Montreal last summer. When I bounced the idea off Gord Prior (my business/writing partner) he took the idea to Wal-Mart, and from there to the recording studio.

helix-xmas-cd

HMA — The Trans-Siberian Orchestra has enjoyed great success with Christmas themed Rock operas since 1996 and Twisted Sister has also released a highly successful Christmas Rock record and DVD in the last couple of years. Did those bands’ success with this concept influence you to follow the same idea?

BV — Personally, I think it’s a great idea! Yes. Really though, the idea has been around since Bing Crosby, etc. One of my favorite CDs of all time is James Brown’s Christmas CD.

With our CD we’ve tried to keep the “Christmas Spirit” in the tracks as well as the Helix “sound”. On the surface the songs sound very simple, but if you listen closely to what the guitars, bass, and drums are doing and compare that to the original songs, there’s a hellva lot going on. Paul McCartney’s original ” Wonderful Christmas Time” for instance, really doesn’t even have a rhythm section. Gord says the original rhythm is based on “wishes and bubbles”. The John Lennon song “Happy Christmas (War is Over)” is another example of a song which we’ve stripped down and presented as a metal power ballad of sorts. I’m singing John’s part and Yoko’s part. At first I didn’t even want to touch the song (John Lennon is sacred in my eyes) but when I heard the final result I was happy with what I heard. Ditto for every song on the CD.

HMA — A HEAVY MENTAL CHRISTMAS is available through your website, PlanetHelix.com, and will be available for purchase at Wal-Mart stores throughout Canada. Is there distribution set up for the U.S. and Europe? Are there any plans to tap into the downloading market through sites like iTunes, CD Baby, etc.?

BV — Usually we distribute outside of North America through mail order companies or through the Planet Helix website. I like to keep control over whatever I do. Anytime you give away rights to press to someone else you’re taking the chance you’ll never see any money from them. Take the case of Sanctuary, on our last CD “The Power of Rock and Roll”. Universal bought them out shortly after, and no one from Universal has even bothered to contact me or send me a statement since. It’s almost been two years now!

HMA — Helix regularly gigs across Canada, any plans to tour in support of the new album in Europe and, most importantly, down here in the States?

BV — It’s hard to tour Europe because of the overhead costs. We did however play Sweden Rock Festival in 2005 and hope to return again in 2009. The States is another situation entirely. Clubs are a dead end deal; fall fairs, concerts, or tours are the way to go if you can get them. I would rather play one gig in a concert situation in the States than 20 shitty bars. Next August we’re booked to play in Des Moines, Iowa for a flood relief concert. That will be a high profile gig just like when we played last summer at South Texas Rock Festival, which drew 30,000 fans over 3 days.

HMA — PlanetHelix.com is your official website and it’s really a great hub for fans of the band and the music. You regularly update the website with plenty of news and information but you also keep it interactive: people can come and listen to all the Helix albums, they can purchase CDs and merchandise, and you keep an open line of communication with the fans. When I discovered PlanetHelix a few years ago, I was psyched to see that you could listen to every album. Not many bands are willing to do that. How important is it to have that connection and communication with the fans?

BV — Everything. It’s the grassroots following that has kept us going all these years. I spend a large part of every day just sending emails to fans and keeping in touch with people in the business.

HMA — In December 2005, you published your autobiography, Gimme An R!, and there was a lot of critical acclaim. I read a lot of reviews on Rock websites and I noticed a lot of positive comments from people like Sebastian Bach so I bought my copy in the Fall of 2006. I’ve read it about 8 times and I always marvel at how personal it is, you really get into detail about your life and all the highs and lows of being in a Rock band. How has the response been almost 3 years after the book’s release?

BV – The book still sells. I was standing at the merchandise booth the other night and someone bought 5 at once! Since I’ve written it a lot more has happened to us, so who knows? Maybe book # 2 isn’t too far in the future! The nice thing about the book is that when you cram 30 years of your life into a couple of hundred pages it all sounds so fucking exciting! LOL. In reality there’s a lot of boring days in between.

Gimme An R! (The Story of Brian Vollmer, lead singer of Helix)

HMA — You’ve made Gimme An R! available for purchase through the website along with other Helix items like hats, t-shirts, DVDs, and CDs and it’s been a success. How has having a good online store changed the way you do business? I’m sure it’s still a lot of hard work but I’ll bet it’s a lot easier than depending on others to keep products in the retail racks.

BV — I do my own merchandise and publicity. In regards to the merchandise I try to come out with different t-shirts on a regular basis as well as a few Helix collectables, like the Heavy Metal Christmas coffee mugs. It all helps fund the next Helix project. The biggest reason I don’t let other people run the merchandise however is because there isn’t enough money to go around for a “3rd slice of the pie”.

HMA — I noticed that BREAKING LOOSE and WHITE LACE & BLACK LEATHER are sold out at PlanetHelix. Is there any chance that you might produce another pressing and make them available again? They are great albums!

BV — Yes, but right now it’s not a priority for me. Maybe later next year.

HMA — What do you think of the Hard Rock/Heavy Metal scene today?

BV — I worry about young bands having a venue to develop their skills as performers and to make money to finance their recording. Back in the day we had a healthy bar circuit where we could cut our teeth as performers and get a taste of “the life”. Nowadays bands do not enjoy the same luxury and music is suffering as a result. Regardless, there are still some great bands coming out, ie. Airbourne.

HMA — If Helix were starting out today, how do you think the band would do?

BV — Fucking terrific.

HMA — What is you all-time favorite album? Why?

BV — Love it to Death by Alice Cooper. It’s a great rock album.

HMA — Is there anything you’d like to say to the fans?

BV — Thank you for all the support. Please check out our new Christmas CD A HEAVY MENTAL CHRISTMAS and look for brand new Helix material in 2009.

*** Special thanks to Brian for taking the time to answer my questions and thanks to Nick from Two Side Moon Promotions for setting everything up.