Tag Archives: Steve Shelski

Coney Hatch/Friction(1985)

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After I read Coney Guitarist Carl Dixon’s Autobiography Strange Way To Live the title of the third Coney album Friction has more substance to it than just the title.

Crappy Record Company not doing anything to promote the third Hatch release,  a producer not sure which direction to go with these guys(Max Norman) plus add in a new drummer(Barry Conners) Coney is fighting to survive.

Friction is a different Coney compared to the self titled and the second album Outta Hand.

It’s a sound that is matured somewhat and perhaps an eye on more mainstream rock that was out at the time. A little more polish added to smooth off those rough edges sonically.

The song’s are great Coney Tracks that 32 years later I appreciate more as in This Ain’t Love/She’s Gone/Fantasy and Bassist Andy Currans rocking Wrong Side Of Town. Lead Guitarist Steve Shelski plays brilliantly a little more melodic than what was on the first two Coney albums but still has enough juice to get the job done.

It’s a shame this album was dead upon arrival but as a Fanboy I bought this at the time and it has aged like a fine wine.

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ROCK 101…Carl Dixon/Strange Way To Live

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So of all the rock biography books that I have read lately for example Joe Perry/Paul Stanley/Stephen Pearcy/ Sammy Hagar the one that interested me the most was Carl Dixons Strange Way To Live(A Story Of Rock N Roll Resurrection) The reason is simple all those musicians I have mentioned above all ended up millionaires and more power to them but although Carl may have not tasted the Holy Grail of a Rock N Roll Payout. Dixon is a millionaire and has won the lottery in more ways than the Stephen Pearcys off the world have its just in a different kind of way!

Let me explain it to Ya……

Alright,so everyone knows my deal here at Arena Rock about how much the three  Coney Hatch albums(the self titled and Outta Hand) had on my sonic senses as a young lad back in 1982 thru to 1985s Friction(title makes total sense now after reading Carl’s assessment of the recording and interband working relationships).

I’m getting ahead here….

The first part of Carl’s journey ( after two  great forwards by Larry Gowan and Pat Stapleton) is about Carl growing up in Sault Ste Marie Ontario and he talks about the Dixon clan and his Grandma who Carl says is one of his heroes as in 2011 she celebrated her 100th Birthday. You know by reading in the early part of the book how much family has meant to  Carl.

Carls career as a professional musician starts at the age of 16 and he gives credit where credit is due to his music teacher in high school a lady by the name of Sharon Sibthorpe who also contributes a page in the book as well and commends Carl on his dedication to being a musician and taking his craft seriously. They have the upmost mutual respect for each other.

From there Carl writes in detail about his earlier bands that he was in like Boots and than onto Olias  back to Boots who borrowed a name of a band to become Hollinger(great story) back to Boots to which they finally called themselves Alvin Shoes who became a touring act like Carl says you drive all day Sunday to play your next bar in some forsaken Northern Ontario city to perform 4 shows a night 6 days a week and living in seedy conditions with cheap pay to do it all over again but the gratitude he says is when the crowd appreciates what your doing. Many are called….few are chosen! Eventually Alvin Shoes packed it in except Carl whose decides to keep going.

Firefly is the name of Carl’s next band which was based out of Montreal and he as he puts it had to fight to get his 2 songs into there set and like anything times were tough so Carl packed up and went back to Toronto and hooks up with Andy Curran,Steve Shelski and Dave Ketchum and they become Coney Hatch!

The Coney Hatch part of the book is a big reason I was looking forward to this read. Back when they were putting out records there was press but not too much. Carl here tells it how he remembers it as like he says he stayed pretty focused meaning he stayed straight so what he says is not just some juiced up rock n roll frat party!

Coney Hatch became a big deal in the Toronto area in the early 1980s being discovered by Kim Mitchell and this led to there deal with Anthem Records (home of Rush and Max Webster) Some cool facts from Carl in the early years of Coney are.

They signed for $10,000(1982) and there lawyer bill was $9,364 meaning Carl,Andy,Dave and Steve split $366 between them to get to there next gig! (Welcome to the Music Business).

Carl speaks highly of Kim Mitchell who produced the debut(1982) and guided them through the studio and showed them the ropes.

Coney started making the Rounds touring wise opening for Trooper/Saga/Peter Frampton but the one show that stands out in the book is when Coney returned home to open for Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent in Toronto. Cheap Trick were cool to hang with but Nugents road crew gave Coney shitty sound and basically sabotaged there homecoming but as Carl puts it you put your head down and get on with it even if people in  the crowd can’t hear you!

Judas Priest is a band they opened a ton of shows for as well and Carl has nothing but high praise for Priest especially singer Rob Halford who would hang out with Coney and even occasionally drive with them to gigs! No ego whatsover and Dixon says that both Priest band and Crew treated them very well!

When Coney went to do the second record (1983s Outta Hand)they were manipulated by management and there record company in dumping Mitchell producing there second record and hiring Max Norman(producer of the first two solo Ozzy Osbourne records) and it wasn’t a pleasant fit! Band had no say in the matter…

Opened for Iron Maiden on Maidens 1983 Piece Of Mind tour and like Priest Carl says Maiden were awesome to tour with and still remain pals to this day. Watch out for those flying M80s In Seattle Carl!

By the time the Hatch record  1985s Friction there third release it is a aptly named record to say the least. Problems with producers ( they had to reluctantly go back to Max Norman) management,changing drummers(Dave Ketchum gets the boot) not getting on a big tour,and inner band turmoils and Dixons marriage was crumbling as well so he bid adieu to Coney Hatch and moved on.

This part of the story is about survival,working odd jobs to support his young family becoming a staff song writer out of New York than losing that job joining the Guesss Who as the keyboard guy basically doing the Burton Cummings deal! Moving on and joining April Wine as the keyboard/guitar slinger and Also there are numerous rock stories to go along with him joining these bands! Carl pulls no punches in regards to other musicians behaviours etc. I wouldn’t even so much say dishing the dirt as opposed to just calling it like it is! I think Carl tends to take the high road on most of it but he gives you great examples on what it like to be on other bands payrolls! Hired Gun I guess they call it!

Of course the book also goes into great detail on Carl’s  car accident when visiting his daughter who was filming a TV show down in Australia and his long road back to recovery.( He has a pic of the car that he was in the accident,it’s amazing he survived. I’m sure that’s not the first time he has ever  heard that or read that comment) I think this is the part of the book where he finds Resurrection and happiness in both his personal and professional life after something so traumatic.

Of course it all comes full circle as he reconnects with the original Coney Hatch fella’s and they put out the very good cd titled ‘Four’ back in 2012.

This book was a great read and as a fanboy of Coney Hatch from 1982 it was great to read about Carl Dixons obstacles and how he always survived and his journeys to do what he loves to do without the real fame and fortunes of rock stars! Carl just found fame and fortune travelling down other roads !

 

 
 

 

SONIC WAVES….Coney Hatch/Outta Hand

I was pumped when Toronto’s own Coney Hatch back in 1983 released Outta Hand! I had become and still am a huge fan boy of these guys and after all these years later I have not caught em live yet! What the hell,one of life’s mysterys I suppose but hey I can yap about em and yap is what I’m gonna do!

Like  I said 83 and here’s some new Coney……

Once again Carl,Dave,Andy and Steve drop down some good ol fashioned hard rock!

DONT SAY MAKE ME-Coney rips out of the gates and man the first thing you notice is how slick this albums is gonna sound. Gone is the raw sounding  of the debut and here comes some hard polish from Max Norman he of the two iconic Rhoads Album with Ozzy that Norman had produced! Carl Dixon nails it vocally and the rest of the Coneys are telling me the listener Don’t Say Make Me and there will be no pushing in Carl’s backyard! Snappy vocals,snappy guitar…..man as a 16 year old in 1983 this song slayed me and well in 014 it still does! Check out the vid below this year filmed in England! The boys still got it…..

SHAKE IT- Andy Curran drives the lead vocal on this one …Shake The Stick umm ok. The song has a cool vibe to it with some added percussion by Dave Ketchum. Steve Shelski rips on guitar but it’s a chill ripping and the one thing I can say about Shelski is that for a guitar guy thats making records in the 80s this dude did not over play his parts to the part of making the listener (moi) puke! I thank you sir for that!

FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING- the big debut single from Outta Hand and if you read Sean Kelly’s excellent book Metal On Ice you can read Carl’s own words on how this single was booted or dropped by there record company once Def Leppard released Pyromania. In other words Coney got dissed by record company politics and I think they may have never recovered from this! Record Company in the 80s= F*%kers!

SOME LIKE IT HOT-Andy once again at the mic and this has some cool cowbell and well Some Like It Hot. Andy I think may have spent some time in Arizona I myself back in 83 spent a lot of time reading Circus,Creem,Music Express and Kerrang in my bedroom wishing I was a cool rock bassist hanging in Arizona with some chicks while it’s hot! Cool song and like I said before it was cool that Coney had two co vocalists with Carl doing about 60% of the lead vocals with Andy doing the other 40% in other words Carl sings with cool laid back flair and he at times reminds me of if Lou Gramm had a full set of 24 hr rock balls whereas Andy comes from the Monkey Bars and snarls with his own cool set of pipes ….man I love these guys!

TOO FEEL THE FEELING AGAIN- wowzers Coney slams the breaks on and offer up a somewhat melodic piece of hard rock. Carl delivers a great vocal and you know what? If Mercury hadn’t screwed these guys around who knows this album was at least 3 tracks deep in singles whereas bands at the same time like Autograph got the company push and only had 1 single to push over 3 studio records! Like c’mon man!

TOO FAR GONE- I had said earlier that Carl can pull off a hard rock Lou Gramm and this track  he delivers this track and man the guitars just rock this song and Curran and Ketchum lay it down on the bottom end!  You don’t have to be a raging metal maniac playing  at hyper speed to be and sound super cool. This track proves it!

LOVE GAMES- Andy deals his high cards last it’s a game of chance high prized romance! And no this is not a ballad quite the opposite the chorus is kinda of a metal funky rhythm and wow the Coney boys can play any style. Metal Jazz I call it!

FALLEN ANGEL-drums and bass start this tune off in almost like a Radar Love kinda vibe but by the time Andy pipes the vocals that’s when the comparison ends to my ears anyways! Cool solo and the band just keeps chugging along.

MUSIC OF THE NIGHT- Carl ends the album with a mid tempoish rocker and the boys tell me that its ok to rock out at a little slower of a pace to end a album.

IN CONCLUSION- Outta Hand should have broke Coney wide open but like i said earlier read Sean Kelly’s excellent book Metal On Ice for Carl’s recall of it all. It’s too bad but i still supported  them and still do. It’s good to see them still rocking in 2014! Outta Hand was for me a shift in production as  this was a little more slick sounding with little more polish but hey there still rocking and for me that’s all that mattered! A solid follow up !