Maraca Media-John O'Mara

Freelance copywriter and blogger, shakin' and rockin' it

Tag: Gene Simmons

Three discs from the Maraca Collection: Chapter Four

Welcome back to another trio of compact discs from my dusty racks…gotta clean the condo soon, Mom is coming over for Thanksgiving dinner on Sunday…where I found them, and why I purchased them.

I just finished listening to Eddie Trunk’s show on Sirius/XM Volume. He loves CDs and takes offence when music journalists and fans claim the format is dead…and do so while pointing to the over-hyped vinyl resurgence.

Agree with you Eddie. Compact discs are much easier to handle and last longer. The small size of the cases meant smaller covers, harder to read liner notes and sometimes folded posters, and those full size extras were the features that made us long for vinyl.

Just not the scratches, warps and skipping.

My previous choices have been rather eclectic. Today, when I closed my eyes and ran my fingers along the CD cases, I ended up with three rock and roll albums.

Batting first…

Silent Radar by The Watchmen (1998)

When the Winnipeg alternative rockers released this record, I was living in Owen Sound, Ontario. For non-Canadian readers, Owen Sound is 100 miles north of Toronto and, at the time, did not have a rock radio station.

The region was radio deadsville, nothing but soft rock, country and oldies.

It wasn’t until several years later that I heard the single, Stereo, on Sirius/XM. Loved it, and found Silent Radar at Randy’s Records in downtown Owen Sound. If I recall, Randy didn’t put price stickers on his products. You’d have to hold it up and wait for him to say…

“Asking $7 for that one.”


MTV Unplugged by KISS (1996)

As I’ve written in previous blog posts, I’ve never really cared for unplugged albums. I’m a rocker. To quote KISS, I love it loud…and played on electric guitars.

So why did I grab this disc at Randy’s Records?

Maybe it was the reuniting of the four original members for tracks 18-21. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons on all songs, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss on 2,000 Man, Beth, Nothing to Lose and Rock & Roll All Nite.

Most diehard KISS fans prefer the ’70s version of the band with Gene, Paul, Ace and Peter. I also enjoyed their ’80s non-makeup period. There were some great songs on Lick It Up, Animalize and Hot In The Shade.

I haven’t listened to this album in ages but I’m betting Stanley’s vocals sounded much better than they do today. If you’ve seen recent Youtube concert videos of KISS, Paul’s voice seems to be shot and he croaks through the hits.

As Stanley said recently, “If you want me to sound like I did on KISS Alive II, listen to KISS Alive II.”

Good luck on the “farewell” tour, you’re going to need it. Drink plenty of herbal tea.

The Best of Ronnie Hawkins & The Hawks (1990)

While The Hawk and his band (featuring young Canadians like Robbie Robertson who went on to become “The Band”) gave us some fine rockin’ tunes, the reason I purchased this on Amazon was…


In the late ’60s, the CRTC mandated that Canadian radio stations had to play at least 30 percent homegrown talent. The MAPL system (Music, Artist, Performance or Lyrics by a Canadian, had to have two of’ ’em to qualify) that program directors came to love so much.


Hawkins hailed from Arkansas but moved to Canada in the late ’50s.

My program director let me get away with 25 percent Can-Con since Johnny Maraca’s Rock and Roll Riot (originally Roots of Rock and Roll) ran after 7 pm on a Sunday.

So, Ronnie Hawkins and Jack Scott helped me hit 25 percent, along with early Guess Who and the jump blues albums by Colin James.

That’s it for this edition. Thanks for reading and I’ll see you soon.


Wanna be a success? Get off your ass

I went to the library in search of research material for my radio show and ended up checking out Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking,” and “Me, Inc.” by the blood-spewing, fire-breathing bass player from KISS, Gene Simmons.
Palmer funded her album through a Kickstarter campaign because she asked fans for money (she’s also married to one my favourite authors, Neil Gaiman).
Simmons lacked a business degree, musical training and experience in a wide range of things to become highly successful in business, music and a whole lotta things.
If I can summarize his book, subtitled, “Build an Army of One, Unleash Your Inner Rock God, Win in Life and Business,” it’s this…
get off your ass.
Gene says stop watching TV, don’t bother taking up golf, don’t take vacations, don’t live (in the words of Loverboy) for the weekend. Spend your spare time bettering yourself. Read. Learn.
Then again, many of us heard that from our parents.
My Dad was fond of saying that the day you stop learning is the day you die…or something like that.
Simmons is a fan of entrepreneur and highly-paid motivational speaker Gary Vaynerchuk, who espouses the same ideas, mainly that after you come home from work, you have from 7 pm to 2 pm to learn skills and better yourself.
Dad didn’t have the internet. God knows he would have loved reading The Guardian or The Washington Post online (he did subscribe to Newsweek). He watched TV but preferred shows that had some kind of mental stimulation, whether it was 60 Minutes, The MacNeil/Lehrer Report or the clever dialogue that made M*A*S*H more than just a sitcom.
Is there a compromise?
Gene suggests there isn’t. Give up your extra curricular activities, and only become friends with people who support and nurture your development. Watch football with your pals at the local bar? You’re a loser, in his view.
Vaynerchuk has a series of videos and in one, says that the digital age actually benefits people over 40 because they have life skills and experience. So, rather than giving in and thinking the younger generation has an edge in this area, they should realize the opposite is true. Wisdom has its benefits.
Simmons is 66. Palmer, 39, and Vaynerchuck, 40.
Not exactly the 20-something Silicon Valley tech wizards we’ve come to think are ruling the world.
Bob Lefetz…the music blogger who has often taken issue with the entrepreneurial visions of the KISS co-founder…frequently rips into music industry folks who can’t accept change because in his words, “someone moved their cheese.”
One of my radio collagues clued me in to the meaning of that phrase. It’s a self-help book called Who Moved My Cheese, and the central theme of that guide is, anticipate, embrace and adapt to change.
Or get left behind, working a job that makes you eagerly look forward to going home, watching TV, and living for the weekend.
Or get downsized or let go.
With all due respect to Gene, and I still enjoy listening to KISS songs, I will combine his advice with Palmer’s, Vaynerchuk’s, Lefsetz’s and most of all, what Dad said (even if I rebelled at the time, what teenager didn’t? Well, probably not Simmons).
I will keep learning, reading, and trying to better myself before someone moves my cheese.
And I will sneak a peak at the TV. The Affair is on. Ruth Wilson is sexy as hell.

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