I hadn’t heard of this album until I stumbled across it on the Yahoo! music page. As far as I can tell it hasn’t been released on CD. Or if it was, it’s no longer in print. But you can download all of these songs from your online retailer.
This is a seven song EP. I’m not sure if it covers their whole set or not. But it does touch on many of their high points. “Courage,” easily one of their best songs, sounds a bit strained here. Downie’s voice sounds like he can’t hear the rest of the band (although I suspect he was just being intense). ”The Lonely End of the Rink” sounds great, though. A really solid performance. ”Gus,” one of my personal favorites, also sounds fantastic. These big anthemic songs work very well in this large setting.
They quiet things down a bit with “Bobcaygeon.” I’ve always felt that this song really shines live, an it certainly does here. But there’s little downtime when they rock out with the great “Poets.” ”At the Hundredth Meridian” also rocks really hard, but as with “Courage,” Downie seems less than excited to be singing it. It just doesn’t have the attention to detail that he brings to the other songs.
The set ends with “Blow at High Dough” and unlike the other older songs, Downie seems to be having a lot of fun with this one. He plays fast and loose with some lyrics, but the stuff he adds is his usual bizarre stuff. It was a treat to find this recording, even if it isn’t their best live showing.
[READ: March 9, 2011] “Jackie”
As soon as the story opens, you know it’s going to be unusual: “I made a girlfriend a while ago. String, wax, some chemicals.” And, indeed, the narrator has made a woman, not an inert sculpture, but a full-fledged woman, who eats and speaks and of course has sex. He names her Jackie.
After her introduction, we learn about him. He is an engineer and a pro soccer referee. She enjoys going to the games. But aside from the amazing sex (he built her well), she seems mostly disinterested in him. He senses this but, since he made her, he assumes the best (although he does wish she’d get a job as it’s expensive doing all the fun things she wants to do.
So she gets a job at Imovax, and she is very secretive about her work. He tries to find out even what the company does but she more or less just blows him off.
Now that she’s out and about more, he grows jealous because people start talking to her. A lot. And at one soccer match, a couple in the stands asks if she wants to swing with them. When he asks their names, she tells him, but she obfuscates the details.
Eventually he calls her work and a man with the same name as the man who asked her to swing answers the phone. He is furious. Although she later reveals (as a misdirect) that everyone in the company is instructed to answer the phones. (And so a lot of the story is spent with him calling up the company and harassing whoever answers–it’s quite amusing).
His jealousy grows as her beauty is recognized by more and more people (he is convinced that the company-owner wants her). And he goes out of his way to find out more and more details of her life. He made her, and yet she still won’t listen to him.
The strange thing about this story is that the bulk of it makes no difference whether he “made” Jackie or not. It’s a fascinating and at times funny story of jealousy. I suppose since he made her he has more “right” to be jealous, but that’s such a weirdly sci-fi/nebulous area that it’s hard to be sure what exactly to think about that. Nevertheless, the jealousy wouldn’t seem out of place even if Jackie was a proper woman.
So why have her be made from wax?
Well, she develops a flaw. A flaw that could only come from being inhuman. And while a blemish could appear on any woman, this particular one could only appear on Jackie. So in some ways it makes sense that he adds this weird area of creation to the story. And, in fact, I really liked the fact that the story opens with those two sentences, but that there’s no explanation of how or why or any kind of details at all. I thought that was a cool touch.
But I feel like would have been just as strong without it (unless, again, he is really trying to make a point about women/ownership/feminism/possession).
But all in all, it’s a really fascinating story. I really enjoyed it.