Album Review: Robyn Hitchcock – The Man Upstairs (2014, Yep Roc)

Posted on by Paul in Albums | Leave a comment

1x1.trans Album Review: Robyn Hitchcock   The Man Upstairs (2014, Yep Roc)

Just call it Old Man Week here at the Panic Manual. This week has seen live reviews of Tom Petty and April Wine along with Ricky’s reminscences of mail order music clubs and ’90s Canrock footnote Zuckerbaby, so in keeping with that vague theme (it’s like Shark Week, but with grey hair and guitars), let’s take a look at the latest release from another veteran performer, Robyn Hitchcock.

For The Man Upstairs, Hitchcock partnered up with famed producer Joe Boyd, known for his work with Fairport Convention, The Incredible String Band, and Nick Drake among many others and in some ways it shares the spirit and the sound of those records. As they began working together, Boyd suggested a “Judy Collins” album, referring to the folk singer’s tendency to feature a mix of originals and covers of both well known and lesser known songs on her 60s and 70s records.  Instead of an album full of Dylan, Lightfoot and Phil Ochs songs, however, Hitchcock tries his hand at songs from the like of Grant Lee Phillips, Roxy Music and The Doors. Of the covers, opening track “The Ghost In You” is the highlight with Hitchcock wringing some real pathos out of the Psychedelic Furs’ 1984 hit and transforming it into a beautiful ballad. He follows that up with “San Francisco Patrol,” the strongest song of the entire collection with it’s memorable refrain of “I can’t take my eyes off you.”

Sure, I may joke about the fact that we’ve covered mostly music by “old men” this week, but The Man Upstairs, the product of a musician who’s been playing and recording since the ’70s and a producer with an even longer tenure, is evidence of a still vital and compelling artist.

Song Of The Day: Ben Miller Band – I Got Another One

Posted on by Celeste in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

1x1.trans Song Of The Day: Ben Miller Band   I Got Another One

Sometimes complex problems require simple solutions.

Does your lady/gentleman friend hate holding hands? Does she/he lie to you? Is she/he a sour apple?

Ben Miller Band‘s got the solution – find another one.Full of raw, homespun goodness and a big heaping dose of trumpet, this song from the Missouri threesome is a perfect picker-upper. Give it a listen:

Throwback Thursday Song of the Day/Columbia House/BMG Review: Zuckerbaby – Andromeda

Posted on by Ricky in Song of the Day | Leave a comment

1x1.trans Throwback Thursday Song of the Day/Columbia House/BMG Review: Zuckerbaby   Andromeda

Sometimes I wonder, if the kids of today will look back at 2000′s Canadian music like we look back at 90′s Canadian music.

Will Edgefest 2027 feature Broken Social Scene, Metric and Stars and all them adults will be like yeah! I listened to these guys in my formative years!

I really don’t know.

Zuckerbaby was some Calgary band I recall liking for a very short period of time in my first year of university. I think I saw them in concert. I don’t know why I thought of them but I did. I think I actually purchased their CD at one point off Columbia House. Remember them? 13 cd’s for 1 cent as long as you bought 3 cds for the rest of the year. I totally did Columbia House and BMG. It was pretty weird business model they had. Think about it:

- 13 CD’s for Free – if you purchase 3 cd’s for the rest of the year or something.
- CD’s are priced at like 15-20$, but then you just had to wait for 2 for 1 or 3 for 1 deals.
- If you introduce a friend, you get 4 cd’s for free. So you make a deal with your friend to join and give him 1 free cd out of the four
- I found out if you complain to them about sending you a wrong cd or a broken cd case, they will resend you the cd and also give you free ones. Obviously you don’t do this all the time, but..

Anyways, how is that a good business model?

The weird thing is, it was actually hard to pick 13 cds for free at once, specially if you didn’t know a whole lot about music. Why do I have the Dumb & Dumber soundtrack, for example.

Back to this Zuckerbaby band. I think they were only popular out west, because they are from Calgary and I was in Edmonton at the time. This might have been their only hit song and like most Canadian bands at the time, they probably took themselves too seriously and wanted to pepper all their tracks with grandiose metaphors. I really just don’t know what they are saying. Take a look at these lyrics

You paint your body beautiful
All the colours of the sky
Blinded by bubblegum
I never asked you why
If this is heaven we’ll be alright
If this is hell it’s way past midnight

It’s a mistake now Andromeda
It’s much too late for Andromeda
Can’t see through this cloud of euphoria
It’s a mistake now Andromeda
Don’t choke on the stardust baby


Have a listen

The band broke up sometime around Y2K but reformed in 2006 at Coachella. But really, in Calgary somewhere. I don’t know where they are now.

Concert Review: April Wine, August 27, CNE Bandshell

Posted on by Paul in Concerts | Leave a comment

1x1.trans Concert Review: April Wine, August 27, CNE Bandshell

A few songs in to April Wine’s set, some dude in the crowd flipped out and tried to get into a fight with someone else. He returned a bit later before being subdued by some audience members and then swarmed by security, who likely escorted him out of the show. I’m not really sure what set him off, but it seemed to come from out of nowhere and wasn’t really what I was expecting at a show by some Canrock senior citizens, er, elder statesmen. It seemed almost more like something you’d see in the pit at a Cro-Mags show, but whatever. Interestingly, this all happened while the band played “Rock and Roll is a Vicious Game.” From the looks of that little incident, it certainly can be a vicious game. However, April Wine are all about the good times and the band, most likely unaware of any of this, followed that tune up with “Say Hello,” thus restoring the balance of good times.

April Wine have had a lot of hits over the years and they played all of the hits, but for me, the highlight of their set would have to be their cover of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man,” which the band recorded on 1979′s Harder … Faster.  It was a highlight not just because it’s a great song but because it worked as a showcase for the band to show of their musical talents a bit. They jammed out on some solos that took the song into a direction more bluesy than proggy at times, though it still got a bit proggy.  After all, it’s a King Crimson song and April Wine’s current bassist Richard Lanthier did once play in a Yes tribute band so there’s bound to be a bit of prog.  Prog rock (or at least proto-prog) also made it’s influence known during “I Like To Rock” when the rest of the band left the stage and left drummer Roy “Nip” Nichol to his own devices for an Iron Butterfly-esque drum solo that saw him at one point abandon his sticks and begin playing his entire kit with his hands.  Impressive stuff.  They closed things off with “Roller” before returning to the stage to squeeze in a quick encore with “Oowatanite.”

Opening up the show were Orillia hard rockers Bleeker Ridge who reminded me of all those early 90s hard rock bands that grunge was supposed to have killed but who thrived regardless. Shades of Candlebox and Ugly Kid Joe. While not exactly my cup of tea, I will admit that they put on an energetic show.  Also, props to the guitarist for having “Fuck Marineland” scrawled onto the back of his shirt in big block letters.  Like rock and roll, Marineland is also a vicious game.

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