This Used to Be Clint’s Playground: The Dynamic, Explosive, Super Bad World of K-Tel Records

Winnipeg businessman Philip Kives died on April 27. You may not know Kives by name, but if you (or, um, your parents) came of age as a pop fan anytime within close proximity of those loopy years between “Gimme Shelter” and “Blitzkrieg Bop,” you surely are familiar with one of Kives’s key contributions to the (then nascent) “random shuffle” aesthetic: K-Tel Records. Kives founded the … Continue reading This Used to Be Clint’s Playground: The Dynamic, Explosive, Super Bad World of K-Tel Records

From the Archives: Alan Niester (2002)

Creem’s Canadian Connection: Interview with Alan Niester By Andrew Lapointe (April 2002) Barbeques and weekend trips with Lester Bangs, dangerous encounters on Cass Avenue in Detroit, and the shenanigans of Richard Meltzer: These are just some of the memories rock critic Alan Niester has of Creem magazine. Niester is a native of Windsor, Ontario, but grew up with his eyes buried in the rock rags from the … Continue reading From the Archives: Alan Niester (2002)

Critical Collage: Rush vs. the Critics

A by no means comprehensive or conclusive survey of a Canadian power trio who once upon a time (much less so now) got under the skins of more rock critics than any other rock or pop artist going.

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Creem, June 1981

“For the record, those three are drummer Neil Peart, who writes all the band’s lyrics and takes fewer solos than might be expected; guitarist Alex Lifeson, whose mile-a-minute buzzing is more numbing than exciting; and bassist, keyboardist and singer Geddy Lee, whose amazingly high-pitched wailing often sounds like Mr. Bill singing heavy metal. If only Mr. Sluggo had been on hand to give these guys a couple good whacks…”
Steve Pond, review of Rush live in Los Angeles, Rolling Stone, 1980

Geddy Lee’s high-register vocal style has always been a signature of the band – and sometimes a focal point for criticism, especially during the early years of Rush’s career when Lee’s vocals were high-pitched, with a strong likeness to other singers like Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin. A review in the New York Times opined that Lee’s voice ‘suggests a munchkin giving a sermon.’ Although his voice has softened over the years, it is often described as a ‘wail.’ His instrumental abilities, on the other hand, are rarely criticized.
Wikipedia entry on Rush

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Mark Coleman and Ernesto Lechner, The New Rolling Stone Album Guide, 2004

Continue reading “Critical Collage: Rush vs. the Critics”

Juan Rodriguez’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Life

I can’t say I’m familiar with the writing of Montreal Gazette rock critic, Juan Rodriguez, but the paper is currently giving him more-than-ample space to reflect on his life as a rock writer, for which, in the shrinking-word-count world in which we live in, they should certainly be commended. Juan Rodriguez’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Life is a seven-part series running in the Gazette between now … Continue reading Juan Rodriguez’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Life