Of all of the three main Rheostatics, Martin Tielli has released the most music outside of the band. He had a band called Nick Buzz who has released three albums and then he has released three solo albums under his own name. His first came out in 2001. And this tour was something of a preview for that album.
He called “Farmer in the City” (a song with this title, originally sung by Scott Walker was released on the 2001 album). This was the second night of the tour (Torfino, on the west coast of Vancouver Island was the first date).
What is most amazing about this show (aside from the fact that the audio quality is outstanding) is that there are a number of songs here that never made it onto any albums.
Also interesting is that even though the show sounds great, Martin was having trouble with his monitor all night. He keeps asking if the crowd can hear him, and saying that he could barely hear himself at all. And yet his voice sounds fantastic.
The show begins with an intro loop—Martin playing his guitar in waves and crescendos. It’s interesting and unexpected. “Farmer in the City” is probably my least favorite Martin song—and I find it interminably slow and spare on the record. Although each live rendition reveals something new in it.
The songs that are heard only on this bootleg include: “Elkdog” (a description of horses as seen by people for the first time) it’s a rocking and fairly conventional song. The next is “Indian Arrow” which is as song about his dad being killed by an arrow. It’s a simple rock song (and I just learned was actually recorded very early on a Rheos demo). “Dear Darling” is a slow song with lots of dramatic singing—very Tielli. “Redwing Blackbird” is another fairly conventional song but with great harmonies.
“Don’t You Forget It” is a loud, vulgar, sexual song which is dedicated to Vivian (happy birthday). It’s even got a kind of funk metal middle section. And “All My Life” is a funky song too.
Although Martin is not very chatty, his band is. The rest of the band includes Mike Keith on guitar Andrew Routledge on bass and Max Arnason on drums (Mike introduces them as Bob Loblaw on bass and Basic Max on drums). He also says that during their three days in Torfino, Andrew became a certified surfboard mechanic to which Andrew replies that Mike became a driftwood sculptor (len Tukwila).
There are a number of covers as well-Joni Mitchell’s “River” (which is on the Nick Buzz album, too) Three Bruce Cockburn songs, the mellow “Thoughts n a Rainy Afternoon” (I prefer the original) and then a blistering take on his “Arrows of Light” (I love this version a lot) which segues into “Joy will Find a Way.”
They even do a cover of the Suzanne Vega song “Tombstone.” Actually, the backing band plays it while Martin goes for a smoke. It sounds nothing like the original, as their version is loud and rocking. When Martin comes back from his smoke break he says it didn’t sound like a Suzanne Vega song (I had to look it up by the lyrics). The other cover is Neil Young’s “Barstool Blues,” which is a rather unusual Neil Young cover I would think.
After a few songs Mike the guitarist says that they were eating some tasty spicy black bean chips which he’s going to pass around for everyone to share… But don’t take them all ”you guys with the hat you take everything.”
They also do a Nick Buzz song “That’s What You Get for Having Fun,” which is a rocking song that sounds great.
He throws in some Rheos songs too. Their versions of “Digital Beach” and “California Dreamlne” sound great. Martin is in fine voice and although it is somehow different than with the Rheos it still sounds fantastic. “Shaved Head,” is more dramatic. A quieter take on the song with no guitar solo.
But when he plays “Record Body Count” he messes up the lyrics so bad that he stops and says “I fucked up my own song.” He refuses to play the end and when someone says he’s being pretentious, he says he’s not he just can’t play it.
The final two songs are just him on his guitar. He plays “Self Serve Gas Station” which sounds great. After this he says he doesn’t know what to play. Someone shouts out “Claire” and he says that he didn’t write that (of course he didn’t write the other covers either, but that’s a funny answer). For the final song he plays “Christopher” which is truly fantastic.
This is a fantastic show, with lots of dramatic songs, a bunch of real rockers and some rare treats. It’s a great starting point to listen to Martin solo, and a must listen for any Rheos fan and you can get it (and all these live shows) from the Rheostaticslive site.
[READ: July 27, 2015] Inside the Rainbow
I grabbed this book because I am intrigued by Russian and Soviet art. I don’t always like it, but I find it utterly fascinating (I wish I could read Cyrillic too, which I think is such a cool looking language). This book collects illustrations–covers and interior pages from Russian children’s books.
The Soviet Union was formed in 1922 and Joseph Stalin was head of the Union. A nutshell history of the titular terrible times is: Stalin launched a period of industrialization and collectivization that resulted in the rapid transformation of the USSR from an agrarian society into an industrial power. However, the economic changes coincided with the imprisonment of millions of people in Gulag labor camps. The initial upheaval in agriculture disrupted food production and contributed to the catastrophic Soviet famine of 1932–33, known as the Holodomor in Ukraine.
The images in this book do not date to the Socialist propaganda style (the striking graphic images of red black and white), rather, these are a more pastoral style. All of the images come from the Raduga (Rainbow) publishing house.
There is a lot of text in this book–a foreword by Philip Pullman and commentary from Arkady Ippolitov. I don’t think I’ve ever read such angry text in what is meant to be a celebration of an artistic style. There’s also quotes from the era like “The Salvation of the Young Mind and the freeing of it from the noxious reactionary beliefs of their parents is on the of the highest aims of the proletarian government” (Nickolay Bukharin, The ABCs of Communism, 1920).
You can see some proton-propaganda images in The Four Arithmetic Operations which depicts the letters CCCP as people carrying flags. But the real difference seems to be in the more human touch that these images have. The Cyrillic characters and even the people making similar gestures (arms raised, bearing hammers) feel hand-drawn instead of perfected.
And yet the presence of fear is never far. Like the children’s book The Capitalists are Armed (1931). There’s also some interesting photos of children interposed with drawings (the boys all have buzz cuts).
I am fascinated by the book What is Good What is Bad, (1930) which shows a boy covered in jet black muck (bad) and then another with a bar of soap brushing his teeth. Wish I knew what it was saying. I also really like the more mechanical (and a lost comic book style) of Gymnastics to Amuse (1930).
But perhaps the most interesting is The Journey Inside the Electric Lamp (1937) in which photos of boys and girls are shrunk to walk on phone wires and wrestle with giant plugs.
The Special Clothing Book 1930 is pretty cool–seeing the clothes that were in use back then (so many gas masks!). And I really like the On the Move chapter with book titles like Wheels, Aviation (I love the dirigibles in this one),and Book of Shipwrecks.
The chapter Meet the Remarkable Animals has English text in the book Babies of the Zoo: the owlets, the tiger cub, the camel, the giraffe, the two penguins, the polar bears, kangaroo. And there’s a very cool illustration of a hedgehog on the cover of Hedgehog No 1 1928 (еж).
The section on Tall Tales seems to have been what got a lot of artists in trouble–those who made up stories of nonsense were seen as suspicious when there was so much reality to learn.
There’s a section on animals–I LOVE the dragon (дракон) and on math with things like 56 : 7 – piano keys and 48 + 17 = a carpet? (no idea what it is)
The final thing is a book called Where Am I? an unpublished book of hidden images (1928) in which a boy is drawn into various scenes like a very easy Where’s Waldo. But the images are so interesting and so clearly hand rendered that it is fascinating not only to look at but it is sometime hard to find the item (chimney sweep, fish, bear).
I didn’t love all of the images in here–even though the propaganda images are “bad” their design is wonderful. These images hint at what would come and I suppose to anyone who lived through that harsh era, these rather naive drawings are quite charming. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting look at this era and great collection of this previously unavailable work.