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Photo Courtesy of Strut Entertainment

Music fandom is strange sometimes. When an artist experiences health issues we want them to get better, but mostly because we want more music and performances from them. It’s our way of emotionally relating to them because we don’t know them personally. Glass Tiger frontman Alan Frew knows this better than most. Many were shocked when Frew announced in late August that he had suffered a stroke. Turns out that when it was happening, and Frew feared that he might die, he not only thought of his family but of the new solo album that people may not get to hear. Looking at Frew across a table upstairs at Toronto’s Hard Rock Cafe it’s hard to tell that he recently had a health scare. But as he would tell me he’s still not 100%, but he’s determined to return to the stage.

The album in question is his brand new collection of eighties covers called 80290 Rewind. With many artists releasing albums of standards it’s refreshing to hear someone perform songs from their own era. The track selection is more eclectic than one might think with one-hit-wonders appearing alongside giant songs like Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and Madonna’s “Live to Tell.” Frew (who just turned 59 on Sunday) interprets each song individually and delivers unique and passionate performances. The final product is ridiculously fun and really easy to listen to.

In addition to getting an update on his health and we also talked about how he approached covering these songs, and his realization about the depth and timelessness of the material. We also get a bit deeper into his amazingly deconstructed cover of Yes’ most classically cheesy track “Owner of a Lonely Heart.”

 

Alan Frew’s 80290 Rewind is available now from Amazon and iTunes, and you can listen to it on Spotify. Have a listen to his take on Simple Minds’ “Don’t You Forget About Me” here.

 
 

A Journal of Musical Things

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Photos by Travis Shinn

The British heavy metal titans Judas Priest are back on the road promoting their latest album Redeemer of Souls. Their previous tour entitled Epitaph, was supposed to be their last major jaunt around the world, but in the time since it’s seems as if Priest has not slowed down one bit. I was lucky enough to get guitarist Glenn Tipton on the phone to talk about the current tour and if in fact they actually have lightened their load.

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Richie Faulkner and Glenn Tipton

We also talked about the new album and how I feel that it’s the most prog-inspired release of their career. Finally I asked Tipton about working with new Priest guitarist Richie Faulkner, who has taken on a bigger role in the band with this album.

 

Judas Priest have a few more North American dates on their Redeemer of Souls Tour, including stops in Halifax and Toronto, followed by shows in Europe and the U.K.  Redeemer of Souls is available now and here’s Tipton introducing the track “March of the Damned.”

 

A Journal of Musical Things 

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Photos by Andrew Epstein

Performing in malls is mostly associated with eighties pop star Tiffany. But when I make the reference to Arkells vocalist/guitarist Max Kerman, he thinks I’m talking about the jewelry store. His confusion is understandable though, as he and his band were about to take to the stage in the middle of Sherway Gardens. It was the culmination of a special event put on by Samsung Canada who were promoting a number of new items including an at-home virtual reality unit that features a collaboration with filmmaker David Cronenberg.

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Their set would go off without a hitch, attracting a diverse crowd who ate up their brand of soulful indie rock and energetic Motown covers. Given the circumstances I thought it would be good to ask Kerman about his view of how music and technology work together. We also talked about the subtle sonic changes that characterize the Arkells’ catalogue, if winning awards has helped their career, and whether wearing their home on their sleeve makes things more difficult for Canadian bands.

 

Arkells have upcoming shows in Germany and the U.K, with some Canadian dates lined up for next year. Their latest album is 2014’s High Noon, and you can watch their new video for the track “11:11” here.

 

A Journal of Musical Things

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Photo courtesy of Stereo Dynamite Recordings

The first time I saw Simone Denny on stage she was opening for Gwar. But this needs context. Denny is perhaps best known as a house music icon from her time with Canadian techno sensation Love Inc. She also grabbed a ton of attention for her vocals on the theme song to the show Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and for its subsequent repetitive use in an episode of South Park in 2003.

This brings me back to that Gwar show. On that evening in mid-2002 Denny was appearing with the band Damn 13, fronted by former Monster Voodoo Machine vocalist Adam Sewell. It was Denny’s connection with Sewell that has now culminated in the just-released Stereo Dynamite Sessions Vol. 1. Produced and co-written by Sewell (and named after his label and studio), the album combines modern R&B and soul with trip-hop and a tinge of alternative rock.

I sat down with Denny on a beautiful afternoon to find out more about the album. It’s the most eclectic music that Denny has ever performed, and I was eager to know how she approached its creation and if she was worried about upsetting her house music devotees. I also made sure that the South Park folks had settled up properly.

 

The Stereo Dynamite Sessions Vol. 1 is available now on Stereo Dynamite Recordings and you can listen to the track “Your Love Fades Away” here.

 
 

A Journal of Musical Things