In the most bizarre era of history that I’ve lived through in my life, where idiocy and ignorance are looked at as a virtue, the MUSIC is there for me and comes through as usual. In what will likely be the last blog post of the year, I must say that its been a really great year for MUSIC. I’ve discovered so many great bands I hadn’t heard before on top of gaining upgrades to my existing music archive. I’d have to say the most amazing thing in regards to music that happened this year was HELIOS CREED, psychedelic acid guitar legend came to town and CHROMED Philadelphia proper! We sure needed it and MY GOD did they deliver! Helios & co. embarked on a full U.S. tour, the first one in over a decade! They rolled through town back in 2008, but that tour was much less organized/promoted than this one among other things. This was a HUGE deal, and the dates were posted showing that they would be rolling into Philly on May 31, 2018 playing at a small club called Kung Fu Necktie on Front St. Ahhhh it felt like an eternity waiting for the day to arrive! The idea of capturing it all on video entered my mind, but I just really wanted to bask in the glory of live CHROME and not have to worry about an electronic device the entire time and view it through a lens, BUT I knew I had to do something for the occasion to preserve some sort of document of an event of this magnitude. So, I whipped out my old Sony Hi-MD recorder and decided to do the best I could to secure an audio document of the evening. Little did I know that my audio recording would be used for something even more special than I could have ever imagined, more on that later…
HELIOS CREED is a friend of mine, so I planned on getting there early to hang out as I don’t see the man but once every few years at best with him being stationed out West, I also wanted to get in the ear of the club ahead of time about securing a good spot for my microphone to record the show, so emails were sent and I got hooked up with the sound guy scheduled for the show that night who told me to give him a holler when I arrived at the club. It was a hot, steamy, humid day in the city of brotherly love and I arrived at the location even before the band, so I strolled down to a local trendy beer garden to fill my gut with some quick grub to be able to handle the partying for the night. My god these beer gardens, have you ever been in the presence of more trendy, pretentious little fucks in your entire life?? My god, luckily I’d be blasted full volume with live CHROME afterwards to de-douche my mind/soul from the lame scene of the overpriced beer garden. I got word from the band that they had arrived so I walked the block back to Kung Fu Necktie and was elated to see Helios and hang out with him and chat about various things; life, the tour, the band…. I had the great pleasure of meeting his son Eric, who couldn’t possibly be a nicer dude. We bonded a lot this night in Philly as well as the next night at the Baltimore show. I also located the soundman who advised me of a “sweet spot” right by the board, clipping my mic to the roof of the little enclosed area that housed the soundboard and sound guy. This inside scoop was helpful as he said that moving my mic a few feet or so from where it was could just put it in an area where my mic would have been flooded with a bit too much bass which would have really muddied-up the live recording. The band set up their stuff and then headed to the stage to begin soundcheck, I’d get a nice little sneak peak of what I’d be in for come show time later on. Upon the first strum of Helios’ guitar, I immediately recognized his signature TONE and that mind-massing acid-fuzz guitar in a manner in which only HE could be the captain manning the ship and setting the controls for the sun. I surprisingly recognized the beginning riff of “Anorexic Sacrifice,” a CHROME song I’d never heard in a live setting before, and holy fuck did that song absolutely shred live! Ahhh, you mean I get to hear this song again later tonight?? After that was a legendary mind-fuck CHROME song, “Armageddon,” from their 1982 album “3rd From The Sun,” and damn it was mighty fine to put it mildly!
The remainder of the evening prior to CHROME hitting the stage was spent hanging out with Helios and the band partying as well as catching up with old friends. After the 2 opening bands played it was time for CHROME to hit the stage! Helios’ son Eric was Dj’ing and providing some nicely warped sounds to groove to as the band was set to hit the stage. I had a sweet spot right by the board and my recording device, Helios was behind me back in the sound-booth watching his son Eric work the turntables a bit while his band was getting geared up on stage. I shone the flash-light from my cell phone onto my audio recorder so that I was sure the recording was started and I wouldn’t miss any of what was about to take place, I even had a backup battery screwed on to the device in case the battery ran out mid-show. Like I said, there was a tour 10 years ago, but it seemed as if this was THE show, and the true fans really came out and showed their support and love for the band. With the rest of the band already on stage for several minutes, Helios walked on and the crowd just roared! You really felt like you were part of something special being there. Helios acknowledged the crowd with a head nod and a couple of fist pumps in the air before lifting his guitar over his head strapping it on. They began with that drum beat at the beginning of “New Age” from the Red Exposure album, Helios began turning the knobs warping his vocals for what was easily the best version of the song I’ve ever heard.
The entire set was about an hour and a half with all the Chrome favorites being blasted upon us on this steamy humid May day in Philly. I must point out one of the highlights of the evening was the version of “Armageddon” that was performed, WOW!! Helios was absolutely on-point and INTENSE in his vocal delivery, it was truly incredible. “Administer The Treatment” was a song performed from their new album “Techromancy,” and it was an absolute BEAST of a song in a live setting! I’d heard the song on the album and really dug it, but you can feel the true power and dimension of this song performed lived. I could go on and on about the show, but I will just say that it was magical! I’ve seen Helios perform about 12-13 times, but this show blew all those shows away. Helios himself was intense, on-point, inspired and amazing, but he also had what is arguably his best band behind him as well; Keith Thompson on guitar who is well-versed in Chrome and has been playing with Helios for several years now, Aleph Kali on drums – a long-time Chrome veteran who originally joined Helios for the original 1998 Chrome reunion, Tommy Grenas (Pressurehed, Farflung) on keys/samples who also has been playing with Helios now for over 20 years, and Steve Fishman on bass guitar who is truly a pro-musician, having playing with the likes of Paul McCartney among many other greats. As a Chromefan, I could not have asked for a better evening, my expectations were FAR exceeded!
To wrap this up, it turns out this show is not just left to my memory banks, nope – all data is not lost! My audio recording came out pretty danged sweet I must say, I even had a friend think that it was a hot board recording upon first listen. This same friend video-taped the entire show, however, there was a guy there who was also recording on a much better video camera. The guy with the higher quality camera did have a battery malfunction about an hour and 15 minutes into the show. I had no way to contact this guy, but I knew his channel on youtube and that he filmed many shows in the Philadelphia area. By some bizarre sheer stroke of luck (maybe fate?), I tracked the guy down through a music torrent site online, and I found out his name which led me to direct contact! He was super cool and uploaded his RAW video of the show for me to snag. I happen to know someone who does video editing for a living and they put it all together beautifully; 1st hour and 15 minutes is the higher quality footage, the last 15 minutes recorded by my friend was perfectly spliced in to continue for the remaining 15 minutes of the show, and my audio recording is perfectly synced in with the entire video. I’m really proud of how this all came out and that I’m able to make it available here, so click on the link to grab the Chrome – 5-31-18 Philadelphia video
for sure! Full audio recording with cd art available here as well – Chrome 5-31-18 Philadelphia audio
THE KIDS NEED NIRVANA, I’ll just start this off with that simple statement.Nirvana was the last great REAL rock band to break through to the mainstream, I don’t think that’s debatable. I think I got kind of lucky when I was a kid, I snuck in and discovered Nirvana around 4th grade, just at the tail end of the band’s existence, and a couple years prior to the big “Telecommunications Act of ’96” that merged all the radio stations so that a couple of corporations controlled ALL of the airwaves – this is why we don’t really hear anything REAL as far as actual GOOD MUSIC on the radio or in the mainstream anymore, it’s all essentially auto-tuned McDonald’s commercials centered around “swagger” and ego with a heavy dose of auto-tune and/or some corny uninspired beat behind it, sponsored by the local Pepsi arena, with product placement IN THE FUCKING SONGS! You KNOW things are fucked when you have people trying to convince you that pepsi/product hawkin’ corporate-whore Beyawnce has “artistic” talent and creates “music.”
The “rock” you hear on the radio these days is so cheesy, absolute Dad rock, it all sounds the same and is incredibly boring without the least bit of an edge to it whatsoever. Has there really been a good rock music band that broke through to the mainstream since Nirvana? I haven’t seen it. And have you seen the boring dad-rock of today? It’s fucking embarrassing. It sounds so wimpy, radio-friendly, snooze-o-ramas… Hell, the guitar tones even sound super generic. I like my guitar a bit more trashy and rough ’round the edges. Nowadays the kids are more concerned about being “fly” and seeking out ugly looking Air Jordan sneakers than they are about actually discovering anything REAL or with deeper sort of meaning, something raw, not littered with consumer products constantly trying to sell them something to up their “swagger” appeal.Kurt Cobain didn’t give a fuck about any fads or trends, in fact he despised them and people who followed them in any fashion whatsoever. Kurt wore second hand clothes from thrift stores and was the last person on the planet who would buy overpriced ugly ass so-called “fly” sneakers.
I got started on the classic rock stuff like Black Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the like, thanks to my Dad’s record collection, and I’m very grateful for that. I remember when I discovered Nirvana as a young kid it hit me like a freight train and had a big impact on me; it was RAW, it was PUNK, and Kurt’s VOICE – still unmatched in rock music today. I remember going to a Blockbuster Video and renting a VHS copy of “Live Tonight Sold Out” – Nirvana’s live/interview/montage compilation video and just falling in love with this band even more. Kurt gave notice to underground artists and often fanzines which led me to discover bands that I absolutely love today like the Butthole Surfers. The psych-punk sounds of Butthole Surfers opened up my mind and expanded my musical evolution to psychedelic sounds, and through the Butthole Surfers I discovered the mighty acid-punk sounds of CHROME, my all-time favorite band today, as well as the vast solo works of their psych guitar god Wizard HELIOS CREED.
Now EVERYTHING has been marketed to hell and it’s tough to spot the genuine freaks and outsiders from the phonies these days simply based on appearance, although all you really need to do usually is speak to them for a bit or hear their god-awful taste in music to get your indication that you wouldn’t really mesh partying on a Friday evening spinning albums with them. I mean nowadays EVERYONE has tattoos, it’s super trendy. You see a girl with a bunch of colors in her hair and it means absolutely NOTHING 99% of the time, she’s not rebelling against the mainstream or into counter-culture aesthetics. Yeah, she’s got colors in her hair, but no colors in her MIND. Marketing and branding has infected everything now. All to make a buck folks! Have you seen these “Suicide Girls”? They are essentially your template for what I’m talking about, a money-making brand is all it is. So called “alternative,” scantily-clad girls covered in tattoos and piercings. Ohhhh skulls and crossbones, living dead-girl tattoos, flashing the devil horn/rock hand sign… how edgy – **YAWN** – If I could exclaim a bigger yawn for these people I would, but I don’t want to clog up my blog. Maybe it’s from delving so heavily into the mind-expanding world of psychedelia and all that comes with it that makes me cringe so much and be so incredibly bored with the cliche cookie-cutter appearances of these so-called “alternative” types and their numerous piercings, tattoos, and dyed hair colors? I don’t know… I also love how Kurt wasn’t afraid to speak out on social and political issues, calling out the Republican fascists and their nonsense without the fear that he may lose a few fans, THOSE fans who would leave due to that Kurt didn’t want as his fans anyway! He’s made that clear many times through interviews and even the liner notes of his albums. Speaking of Republican and cheesy dad-rock, have you seen bands like Eagles of Death Metal & QOTSA: basically jocks on guitars with a boring radio sound. None of the bands today are really speaking out in this current right-wing-wet-dream we are currently living in here in the States. Hell, Eagles of Death Metal even have a mustachioed right-wing douchebag in the band! Kurt Cobain would have probably relentlessly mocked this little dork. Jesse Hughes, the Suicide Girl of the current “rock” music mainstream, but even lamer. A tatted-up walking cliché, but this one comes fully equipped with right-wing beliefs and bashing student-led protests on gun violence. Is there anything more UN-rock & roll than being a Republican??
And speaking out is what is needed now more than ever. I’m not saying be a super politically-driven band, no one wants that, but don’t be so scared that you might lose an audience member or two if you speak out against this current trend of right-wing fascism we’re heading toward thanks to dumbed-down Americans, strung out on boring radio-friendly Dad rock and the like! We’re also now stuck in this perpetual Jerry Springer episode gone real-life where everyone has to constantly claim how “real” they are, while anyone who would claim that out loud is always the douchiest motherfucker ever, that’s a safe bet. But I digress… With the internet, there’s ZERO excuse to be at the mercy of the corporate-controlled airwaves, you can more easily access any of the music that’s been recorded throughout time now more than any other point in history. I guess it’s just hard for kids these days because their first exposure is a radio sound and such controlled industry that it spreads its evil, soul-less influence very early on in developing minds, sometimes before they can be saved by actual music with people who can rock the fuck out, have soul, can play musical instruments and aren’t driven by sales or product. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of really cool kids now who think for themselves and have good, independent from corporate-interest music tastes. But to the rest of you bastards: come on kids, free your minds from “selfies,” “swagger” and a lifetime of meaningless douchiness – TURN OFF THE RADIO, and TURN ON YOUR MINDS. Nirvana played a pivotal role in my musical evolution, and I’ll be forever grateful for that, and I’ll always love Nirvana and continue to listen to that great band. Yes, THE KIDS NEED NIRVANA.
Before I leave, I must once again bring up the great U.S. Chrome tour of last year and pass along links to downloads of some full live show videos that I was recently elated to be able to add to my Chrome/Helios Creed archives. Two INCREDIBLE live shows from Illinois I was recently hooked up with straight from the band. These are both balcony-shot videos, shot onHD cameras with excellent sound and I’ve been given permission from the band to share them with all. Both shows are beautiful documents of this already legendary Chrome tour that featured Helios at the absolute TOP of his game. The best of the two is clearly March 26, 2018 in Chicago, IL – a stunning balcony-shot video with plenty of multi-colored lights on-stage that illuminate Helios & the band throughout the entire show. The other is March 27, 2018 in Rock Island, IL – another excellent balcony shot, great stage lighting and plenty of close-ups. Be sure to grab these two excellent must-have live documents of Chrome in HD video! This Chrome tour produced some of the best live video documents of what I believe to be any Chrome/Helios Creed tour in history, so if you haven’t already snagged them, be sure to also grab these full live video downloads of shows from this legendary U.S. Chrome tour; 5-31-18 Philadelphia, PA & 6-4-18 Atlanta, GA
The reviews section here will be broken down into 2 sections; the first section “Heady Audiophile Psych Upgrades” contain links to excellent upgrades that were obtained of these albums, below that will be some new reviews to close out this blog post.
HEADY AUDIOPHILE PSYCH UPGRADES
Autosalvage – S/T (1968 – MONO)
*see original review HERE