After re-listening to some of the Rheostatics most recent shows, I checked the Rheostatics Live site and found out that he has added some really old shows. This show is the oldest show on the site, dating back to 1987. A brief Rheos history shows that in the earlier incarnation, it was Dave Bidini, Tim Vesely and Dave Clark. They were joined by the Trans Canada Soul Patrol and played mostly R&B and funk. Around 1985 the Soul Patrol left and Martin Tielli joined. Around the time of this show, they had released Greatest Hits. And then they broke up (circa 1988). Then they reformed in 1991 with an entirely different sound.
So this is from what I guess you’d call he Mach II era: no Soul Patrol but before the breakup. Interestingly, only two songs from this how appeared on their debut album, although many appeared on earlier demos.
They play 11 songs, including what I assume is an improvised rap from Dave Clark (the really silly one of the band). And the songs are dominated by a smooth guitar sound and often times a funky bass. Perhaps the most amazing thing about this set is the prominence of Tim. He sings many of the songs and Dave includes him in many jokes. Martin is almost non-existent.
“National Pride” dates back to 1983 and starts as a kind of goofy rap song but then turns into the funky version from the demo. Martin Tielli also released a solo song called “National Pride” which is nothing like this. They follow this with the “Greensprouts Theme Song” (which they played at the AGO almost 30 years after this show). Dave Clark calls it the “silliest song ever written,” although in the years hence they have made a few challenges to that claim.
“Good on the Uptake” is a song I’ve heard in a few places before. Tim sings lead and there’s a kind of funky bass line with lots of guitar harmonics. I think Martin is singing backup (and probably playing the harmonics).
Tim breaks a string and Dave Clark shouts, “This song is called Rheostatics learn how to string their guitar.” With a broken string they play an impromptu version of “Red Dog Ray” taught to them by Reverend Ken and the Lost Followers “about the beer strike in 1983. We were all pissed off because we had to drink Old Milwaukee and Rolling Rock and all that shit.” This song has come up in their sets in the early 2000s.
It segues right into “Ditch Pigs” from Greatest Hits and sung by Martin. The middle section devolves into a chant of “I want an egg salad sandwich and a glass of Coke.”
For “Four Upright Walls” Bidini introduces David Clark as the Poet Laureate of Etobicoke. This is a rap of sorts in which the band does response to Dave’s rap (with all kinds of crazy sound effects and even some beatboxing (!)).
“Crystal Soup” is very much a Tim song–it sounds a lot like a song he would write now–there’s a surprise guitar riff in the middle of the verses that sounds a bit like Rush. At the end of the song Dave introduces “Mr. Nigel Tufnel,” although I’m not sure to whom he is referring. “Sue’s Mining Song” (also sung by Tim) has a kind Rush feel although the lyrics are very un-Rush (“woman,” “girl” and a line about “buzzards on your Steely Dan”). It also features Tim screaming a high note! It’s a pretty heavy song (especially at the end).
It’s funny that they follow-up with “a nice song,” Martin’s sung “Crescent Moon” a very, very new wavey song that Bidini wrote, and which leads of Greatest Hits. They follow with a fun and fast rocking “People’s Republic of Dave” in which Dave encourages Tim to make silly faces. And Tim growls that he wishes his name was Dave. This seems like a great show ender, but they’ve got one more song.
“Chemical World,” has a kind of discoey guitar opening and lots of slap bass.
[READ: January 5, 2016] Zombies Need Love Too
I prefer to read series like this in order, but sometimes you can only get the books that you can get (and you don’t get upset). For reasons I don’t understand, my library only had the first two books (which were also collected in Liō’s Astonishing Tales which they also have) and the two most recent books. There’s maybe two books in between, as far as I can tell.
The good thing is that there’s not a lot of forward narrative in these stories–except perhaps for the new pets that Liō acquires.
So after four years what is Tatulli writing about? Well, largely the same stuff, which is fine with me.
His cat, Cybille is getting a bit more strip time and Eva (who was unnamed when I encountered her) is also getting a lot more strip time–and finding new and clever ways to destroy Liō’s heart. The Valentines Day strips are especially funny.
There are still some inter-comic jokes although they are fewer (and I miss them), The Fred Basset joke is pretty darn fun, though. Is Fred Basset still in newspapers?
This book sees a number of strips that last several days (which he amusingly calls Stave II and Stave III). There are several other mini-series in which Liō babysits his cousin Bubbles who is a terror (and not in the good way that Liō is).
Tatulli also some wonderfully amusing (if simple) wordplay–which is good for a strip that barely has words in it. I especially like “Keep off the gross.” There’s also a vaguely topical one where Liō sends a giant mechanical dog to Michael Vick’s house.
I really enjoyed the strip where Liō kills the wicked witch by spraying her with a hose and then gets yelled at for leaving a mess in the driveway.
The seasons of the year are much more apparent now, too. There’s clearly a Halloween season (he laughs at the haunted maze, he frees some turkeys at Thanksgiving).
I really enjoyed the one where he learns to communicate with Woodstock.
And delightfully, there are strips that you must turn sideways.
Oh and I loved the throwback strip that went all the way to 1915 and Feckless Freddie Freckles. The strip looks old–drawn masterfully. Except of course the “joke” would never have happened then, as it so violent. But the final punchline is great.
There’s even a sad one where we learn that Liō’s mom is dead (not sure if that was made clear earlier).
The “caution watch out for falling children” snow joke is awesome and who hasn’t dreamed of using a laser gun to melt all your snow away.
There’s also a few strips with Dr. Seuss love and a great The Far Side tribute.
I really like this strip a lot and I need to find those middle books.
For ease of searching, I include: Lio.