By "Metal" Tim Henderson
Former MuchMusic VJ Christopher Ward went head-to-head with Canuck hard rock legends Brian Vollmer (HELIX), LEE AARON, Carl Dixon (CONEY HATCH), Nicholas Walsh (FAMOUS UNDERGROUND, SLIK TOXIK), Darby Mills (THE HEADPINS) and Metal On Ice author Sean Kelly (CRASH KELLY, GILBY CLARKE) at the Coalition Music offices in Scarborough, Ontario yesterday (September 22nd) to talk about Kelly's book and coinciding EP.
The panel reminisced about the glory days of Canadian hard rock and heavy metal in the late '70s and early '80s, which was instrumental in creating the landscape we enjoy to this day. It was the ultimate exercise in nostalgia and video excerpts from the Q&A session will see the light of day soon. BraveWords had a chance to speak with all musicians taking part in the project, so stay tuned for extensive interviews with Brian Vollmer, Lee Aaron, Carl Dixon, Nicholas Walsh, Darby Mills and ring-leader Sean Kelly soon.
Metal On Ice – Tunes From Canada’s Hard Rock And Heavy Metal Heroes companion EP tells the tale of Canadian hard-rock through the re-recording of chart-topping heavy metal hits from the 1980s from the likes of Helix, Lee Aaron, The Headpins, KICK AXE, Coney Hatch and THE KILLER DWARFS (Russ Dwarf was unable to attend as the band are currently on the road). The aforementioned artists were completing their parts at the Coalition studios for the EP slated for release in October.
BraveWords heard a brief play-back of the tracks found on the EP. Here's a quick over-view of these classic covers:
'Heavy Metal Love' - Brian Vollmer
Singer Brian Vollmer says this song is Helix' biggest hit. Yes, bigger than their signature metal monster 'Rock You', and it's found on the band's No Rest For The Wicked album from 1983. Vollmer mentioned that the coinciding video was launched around the time MTV started to deliver the goods to American televisions and immediately was put into high rotation which helped the band's draw south of the border. The raucous remake has that barreling back-beat from the original, with Vollmer's signature style leading the charge.
'Metal Queen' - Lee Aaron
Lee Aaron hasn't aged a day and her voice still shines as she balances stage life between her jazz standards and more "rocker chick" material. Aaron says that 'Metal Queen' is the ultimate homage to women around the world and their struggles for equality. Arguably her most recognizable song, it also painted her in the corner to some degree. The driving remake is as forceful as it was when it appeared in 1983 as Lee Aaron retains her crown!
'Don't It Make You Feel' - Darby Mills
Most women in rock would die to have this Headpins singer's voice! Sultry, smokey and powerful, this remake does justice to the original with that toe-tapping, swinging backbeat that catapulted the band to the top of the charts in 1982.
'On The Road To Rock' - Nicholas Walsh with Victor Langen (Kick Axe)
A seriously overlooked band … Nick Walsh talked about seeing the BC-based rockers in 1984 on the SCORPIONS's Heavy Metal Hurricane at Toronto's CNE Grandstand Stadium in front of nearly 25,000 fans (along with Helix and QUIET RIOT), so this is a real treat for the former Slik Toxik singer who does the Vices (1984) track justice with his soaring lungs.
'Hey Operator' - Carl Dixon
Another under-rated band and one helluva song. Coney Hatch delivered three albums (and just released a long-awaited fourth this week simply called Four), this from their self-titled first. Singer/guitarist Carl Dixon is lucky to be alive following a near-fatal car accident in Australia in 2008. But he says he's playing/ singing better than ever. It's coming from a deeper place today. This remake displays his talent for fine melodies, catchy chorus lines and that signature riff.
'Keep The Spirit Alive' - Russ Dwarf
Not sure how Russ Dwarf can still hit those notes, but he does. And Sean Kelly sums up this song best as both motivating and uplifting. One of the Dwarfs' classics given a new lease on life!