The heroes of Hamilton continue as a primal force in Canadian rock 'n' roll, nearing their fifth decade. There's even more excitement these days, with the group's music getting tasty reissues, led by 2017's Fun Comes Fast career best-of. Now the runt of the litter, 1983's mini-LP Tornado gets new life, and a serious upgrading.
The disc is now more than triple the original size, bulked up to 21 tracks instead of the original six. This accomplished by doing a full remix of the cuts, and giving us both the old and new versions. Plus the group was able to locate nine band demos for the set, those same six plus another three in contention. The remixes were a smart idea. Some of the '80's sheen is gone, while vocals, guitar and overall thump is increased, making them tougher. This was supposed to be the record to break them in the U.S., so some nods to commercial sounds were made in the production. While the remix can't change all of that, it does improve them.
These are good songs, and they fit in with the group's punkish party/early rock'n'roll style, particularly the fun, danceable "Tornado" and "Blood Boogie," even with the gloss. That's even more apparent from the demos, which were fully-crafted and show that the group knew what they were after. Better still, the three cuts that didn't make the album are prime as well, and make this collection stronger than the original. Perhaps they left their version of The Beach Boys' "Drive-In" off to avoid comparisons to The Ramones in their cover choices, but they do a bang-up job. That shows their true early r'n'r roots better than anything.
Extra kudos for the packaging, which features great liner notes, explaining the situation the band were in at the time. This was originally released as by Teenage Heads, the name changed as part of a new U.S. deal, to appease DJ's in small American towns. It was also those U.S. brains that demanded this be a mini-LP as well, thinking that would help break the band in the States. The irony was that a regime change in the U.S. saw the group dropped before they even got released there. The memorabilia is great as well, and vinyl may be the best way to go, in a delightful two-tone green.