Archive for February, 2012

Scott Young and Kevin Swain at the Board

It’s 2012, so before the End of The World As We Know It, let’s hit the studio! As mentioned in previous blogs, our plans for a 2011 CD release had gone sideways due to circumstances beyond our control. However, the band is finally back on track, and recording sessions are now underway and taking place as we speak.

Up until recently, we were confident the CD’s title was going to be the typically irreverent “Show Us Your Hits”. Unfortunately, it has come to our attention through some judicious Googling that a recording act called The Bloodhound Gang already has a greatest hits CD with that same title. Now we could be absolute jerks and steal the title (hell, they’re in Pennsylvania and we’re on the Wet Coast, so who’s to know). But not wishing to risk a lawsuit or a cease-and-desist order, we will therefore rename our disc to something that hasn’t yet been used. Something like Greatest Hits, or The Best Of… (yeah, right). We do have a multitude of potential choices already, but we may indeed leave the new title to our fans, the Apple Corps. What do you think, gang? If YOU could pick a title for a Sparkling Apple CD which features remastered versions of previous records as well as two newly-recorded tracks, what would it be? Tell you what: to the person who comes up with the title of our forthcoming disc, we will award a Free Trip to Ladner on a Torpedo, and a warm beer with Captain Maniac. How’s THAT for incentive? Go ahead and leave a comment on this page. Go ahead. Make my day. Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do you?

So about the CD: our plan is to do the Pink Floyd thing and digitally remaster our back catalog, as well as include two brand new recordings featuring the surviving members of Sparkling Apple (Art, Colin & Kevin). To this end, Ray Roper has transferred our old tapes (some of which are at least 30 years old) from the old master reels to a digital format in his own studio. This process involved playing the tapes on a vintage tape machine, graciously borrowed from the Smithsonian Institute. This operation proved to be frustratingly time consuming, due to the fact that crud and grunge buildup from the ancient reels would throw a Spaniard in the Works; frequent cleaning of the tape capstans would be mandatory. Like Capstan Maniac! However, the tapes have ultimately been transferred and are awaiting further instructions.

For the two new songs, we have chosen to utilize Alchemy Sound Studios in New Westminster, BC, with Scott Young (Chairman of the Board) engineering. The name of producer will be whoever is not afraid to admit being involved with this project. Vocals and drum tracks have already been contributed by Captain Maniac, as well as Kevin’s bass tracks, so last night (February 16, 2012) it was Art’s turn to record guitar solos. Armed with a vintage Gibson Les Paul and a combination of Mesa Boogie/Crate/Fender amplification, Art was given free reign to go nuts — the resulting guitar tracks have been said to sound like a hybrid of AC/DC and Aerosmith’s Joe Perry. A loud and proud wall of sound! And NO keyboards in sight!

The Beast Is Back!

Scott in story-tellin' mode!

Sparkling Apple 2012

Louder. Much louder. Louder than 11.

An irate audience member pleads with Art to "turn it down -- is all this noise just to cover up a lack of talent?"

Well, it’s a new year (2012), and Sparkling Apple seems to have got into the spirit of “Let’s reunite for a quick cash grab and re-live our misspent youth”, as is the current rage among many aging rockers (we’re talking to YOU, Van Halen!). Hell, now we can actually remember who or what we are and what we’re doing onstage in the first place! For you non-Facebook folks, here’s a candid look at a recent Apple performance on February 4th, 2012. For the first time in living memory — since last September, anyway — all surviving members of Sparkling Apple were in one location. Captain Maniac and Kevin Swain showed up for the Fundraiser, and it was agreed ahead of time that we would get up and play a few songs for any and all interested parties. OK, Rosie talked us into it, but that’s not important right now.

Art and his band The Fairlanes were hired for the “Team Rob’s Fundraiser — Cancer Sucks” event at Steelworkers’ Union Hall in Langley,  BC (as many of you may know, Rob Schierbeck was recently diagnosed with leukemia, so the fundraiser was a successful effort on his behalf). Ticket price was only $20, for which you’d get not only a rockin’ band, but a burger and a beer, too! After a particularly portly and Falstaffian Elvis imitator went through a medley of The Kang’s music, The Fairlanes played a memorable set of classic rock oldies. Not all audience members were eager to party, however, as you can see by our opening photo. I have no idea what caused Blondie to mount the dance floor and hurl epithets at Art, but vehemently complain about the volume she did, with arms flapping as if she was directing a 747 off the runway. “It’s too LOUD… tone it down,” she moaned, to which several of us at the band table yelled, “Sit the f*ck down, you’re bugging EVERYBODY!”. After years of whinge-ing crybabies bellyaching about Sparkling Apple’s stage volume (see our “Notes Sent to the Stage” section on our website), the arrival of a complainer was only too appropriate! Without the anticipated reaction (I suppose she wanted the band to stop playing, at which point she would be happy), our friend left in a huff, never to be seen or heard from again. Until someone directs her to this page!

Art on stage

However, once Art’s band had completed the first set and an interminable round of “Toonie Toss” occupied everyone’s time, it was time for the Apple to get up there and play whichever songs we could remember. The first song was unanimously chosen to be “Shakin’ All Over,” sung in the inimitable song stylings of the lovely Captain Maniac, which sequed haphazardly into the Whalley National Anthem, Van Morrison’s “Gloria”. “The inevitable “Papa Oom Mow Mow” and CCR’s “Born on the Bayou” followed in quick succession. At this point, uncharted territory reared its ugly head: Art had the bright idea to launch into “Beer Drinkers and Hellraisers,” a ZZ Top favourite which Art & I had performed since the Dawn of Time — what wasn’t apparent until we were a few seconds into the song, though, was the fact that Kevin had never played this song with us! Being the pro that he is, Kevin pulled it off admirably.

Sad to say, the audience was a bit subdued (probably the burger & beer deal might’ve had something to do with their lethargy), but Kevin woke up the crowd with a rousing version of the old crowd-pleaser “Play That Funky Music. White Boy”. To our delight, the dance floor was packed for this tune!

Play that funky music

After a few more stabs from the past, I called Ken (the Fairlanes’ drummer) to join us on the drums, while I went out front to warble the unintelligibly ducet tones of “Roadhouse Blues”. The Lizard King himself would have been proud, although I was hesitant to disrobe, Iggy-style. Didn’t want anyone to get hurt out there, don’t you know. For our encore (WE decided to do one, not the audience), I stayed up and ended our brief set with the Georgia Satellites’ version of “Don’t Pass Me By” by Ringo Starr. (All photos by Woody.)

In other news, this just in…

After some setbacks and scheduling obstacles (the studio wasn’t always available when we were), we are now back on track with our upcoming CD release. Last year we threatened to release it by Christmas — well, we didn’t say Christmas in what YEAR, so we’ve kept to our word. The title of the CD has unfortunately leaked out and is currently used by another band, but our reaction is: “excuse me, you’ve mistaken me for someone who actually GIVES a shit”, and Plan A is going full speed ahead, as if you expected otherwise.

Art’s guitar parts and vocals will be recorded by the time you read this, so if Van Halen can put out the first new album with Diamond Dave in 27 years, so can we.

Keep on rockin’!

Meytal favours us with a couple of tunes

Get down with your bad self.

Isn't it past my bedtime?

Sparkling Apple rocks Langley

Roadhouse Blues