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Archive for the ‘Excerpt’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-Live in Brooklyn (2006).

Just over ten years ago I started this blog.  And sometime in May of 2007 I wrote about this disc.  Well, actually, I didn’t really write about it. Initially the “soundtrack” was just the record I was listening to that day.  I didn’t really write about the music at all.  The only thing I noted about this disc was that a 17 minute guitar solo is not such a good idea when you are sleepy.

So, now that I’ve often spent more words on the music than the stories, here’s a full review of this live album (their fifth “official” live record).

This show was performed on June 17, 2004–the opening night of what was promoted as the band’s final tour, before their 2004 breakup.

This show starts with “A Song I Heard the Ocean Sing.”  It is a rocking opening although it sounds a bit flat.  “Dinner and a Movie” is fun, an angular version with a perfectly jazzy end section.  It segues into a great 13-minute version of “The Curtain With” and then a short, fast “Sample in a Jar.”

“The Moma Dance” has a lengthy intro before the song starts and then a long jam afterwards.  It’s fifteen minutes long and then segues into an outstanding “Free.”  There’s a particularly cool razzy funky bass solo.  “Nothing” is a sweet song from Undermind, a nice mellow come down after Free and a good workout for Page on piano.  It’s followed by “Maze.”  This one sounds a little funny, but there’s some great soloing from Trey and Page.  Trey’s solo starts trippy and then turns wild and really rocking.  “Frankenstein” is not quite as faithful to the original as some earlier versions, but they’ve played it many times by this point.

Set 2 opens with the crowd chanting “It’s 1, 2, 3, strikes you’re out at the old ball game” and then it’s a 17 minute version of “46 Days.”  It mostly a guitar solo that segues into a long version of “Possum,” although this “Possum” is rather slow, comparatively.  The solo grooves along until it gets down to a quiet moment.  Then there’s a short “Oh Kee Pah” that launches into a rollicking 18-minute “Suzy Greenberg” with a great jam in the middle.  It segues into a super rocking “Axilla” and then segues into a groovy “2001.”  The jam on that song lasts 9 minutes and it’s connected to an excellent “Birds of a Feather.”

They dedicate the insane “Kung” to the people at the US Open next door.  They are going to sing it very loud so that the players can hear it.  And after the runaway gold cart marathon, Trey says they’re going to slow things down with “Mike’s Song,” but its’ got a very fast jam in the middle.  It does slow down to a mellow “I Am Hydrogen,” which segues into a romping “Weekapaug Groove.”

The encore is “Divided Sky.”   There’s a 1:15 pause while Trey doesn’t play the next note before beginning the rest of the show.  The crowd gets really restless.  It’s pretty funny.

This entire concert was simulcast on over 100 movie theater screens around the country.  The band was supposed to break up for good after this tour.  But here it is 13 years later and they are playing better than ever.

[READ: March 27, 2017] “Down and Out in Paris and London”

This issue of Lucky Peach includes an excerpt from a book by George Orwell.  Down and Out in Paris and London was the first full-length work by Orwell, published in 1933.  It is a memoir in two parts on the theme of poverty in the two cities.

What does it have to do with food?  Well, it was originally called “A Scullion’s Diary.”  And this excerpt comes from around Chapter III where the narrator obtains a job as a plongeur (dishwasher) in the kitchen at “Hotel X.”

He explains that one of the few humane jobs in the kitchen was polishing silver and glasses–at least the waiters might treat you as something of an equal.  Otherwise he was washing crockery–often for thirteen hours a day.

He marvels that the squalor of their kitchen–“we are in disgusting filth”–was only double doors away from the splendid dining room.  He says “we slithered about in a compound of soapy water, lettuce leaves, torn paper, and trampled food.” (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: PHISH-New Year’s Eve 1995 – Live at Madison Square Garden (2005).

Phish has always made New Year’s Eve shows special (I have tried for a few years now to get tickets but have failed).  These shows are usually long, full of surprises and something of a spectacle (this was especially true when they were younger, like in this show–Rolling Stone named it as one of the “Greatest Concerts of the ’90s”).  The concert features a cover of The Who’s “Drowned” and “Sea and Sand” as well as a substantial number of songs from Phish’s mythic and hardly ever played Gamehendge cycle.

“Punch You in the Eye” opens the show with a funky groove and some great sing-alongs (this is a tangential Gamehendge song).  If you watch the video, you can see Trey and Mike dance during the salsa moments, which is pretty amusing.  As the song ends, Page gets a lengthy piano solo while Trey plays percussion.

“The Sloth” is an interesting second song–its chugs along and is very heavy (it’s also the second song in a row to mention getting sliced on the nipple).  (this is a proper Gamehendge song).  “Reba” sounds great—and at 14 minutes, it’s got a good stretching out guitar solo.  “The Squirming Coil” is one that I want to see live.  This version is mellow with a lengthy piano solo–it segues perfectly into “Maze” which has a long keyboard solo and then a guitar solo.  (20 minutes total).

Then things settle down into the Gamehendge saga.  It begins with “Colonel Forbin’s Ascent”in which he talks all about the Gamehendge Time Lab where the Phish guys work when they are not touring,  They say that they used the Helping Friendly Book to learn how to make time move forward–otherwise we’d be stuck in 1994 all the time and you’d hear the same songs on the radio (they play a minute of Collective Soul’s “Shine”).  This is all part of  lengthy “Fly Famous Mockingbird)

“Sparkle” sounds great with a super fast ending.  And the first set ends with an 8 minute “Chalk Dust Torture” which has a great solo.

Set two opens with the audience chess move in which the audience member defeated the band by capturing its queen.  Score at the end of 1995: band 1, audience 1.

Then they play a great version of The Who’s “Drowned” (even is Mike can’t hit all the notes).   It segues into a rocking “The Lizards” (part of Gamehendge) and an even more rocking “Axilla, Pt. 2” (tangential Gamehendge).  “Runaway Jim” is a 16 minute jam with a middle part that slows down to just bass and audience clapping–and then some 70s funky keyboards while Trey plays his own percussion kit. Things settle down with a pretty “Strange Design” and an a capella “Hello, My Baby” (which is totally audible hooray).

And they end set two with a great 20-minute “Mike’s Song.”  The first jam is Page and Mike and its long and groovy and the last five or so minutes ends in very trippy sequence with trey jamming on his digital delay pedal.

Set three begins with the end of the year countdown.  The notes for the disc talk about the Gamehendge Time Machine (you can watch the Countdown and celebration here–as well as the whole show).  Fish is dressed like baby new year.

Once the countdown finishes, they launch into an instrumental version of “Auld Lang Syne” which segues into a fun 17 minute “Weekapaug Groove” (Trey throws in some “Auld Lang Syne” notes into the solo).  It turns into a surprisingly stark piano melody of The Who’s “Sea and Sand” (sung by Page).  This is followed by a 25 minute “YEM.”  There’s a big long keyboard solo and then some lengthy guitar solos before the song settles to complete silence.  The silence ends with a whispered ”washufeet” that morphs in and out of Trey whispering and everyone muttering and making noises and becomes a vocal jam that is mostly harmonies.

They come out of the that with a bright version of Sanity.  It starts really rocking especially when they all start shouting “BOOM, POW.”  The set ends with an awesome version of Frankenstein (complete with one more “Auld Lang Syne” solo nod in the middle).

After nearly three and a half hours of playing, the band still had time for an encore—a rollicking version of “Johnny B Goode.”

Now that’s a way to welcome in the new year!

[READ: March 30, 2017] “The Sympathizer”

I really enjoyed this excerpt, but I was puzzled about what direction the story would go after this section.

I was also puzzled at first as to why this story was in the Pho Issue of the magazine (stories don’t necessarily correspond to issue themes).  It starts off in Vietnam, so I figured that was the tenuous connection.  And that was fine.

The narrator is reading a screenplay of a movie set in Vietnam.  He has been called in to counsel the auteur (whom he agrees is, in fact, talented) on the Vietnamese-ness of the story.  But the narrator is not to be swayed.  He himself wants to work in Hollywood, but he is immediately on guard against the racism that he encounters.  Or maybe it’s all in his head–he is certainly prepared to be offended by everything.

Not least because the screenplay, while good for the white heroes, treats every Vietnamese person exactly the same.  None of them have any lines [cut to villager speaking in their own language], most of them simply scream, and if they’re not getting killed (bad guys) they are thankful to the white people for saving them.

The narrator gets right in the auteur’s face with a very dramatic demonstration of how people scream differently in different circumstances. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Reverb, Toronto, ON (August 29, 1997).

This is the final show Rheostatics show from the 1990s that I haven’t mentioned thus far.

I’m not sure what the band had been doing before this show (aside from making he Nightlines show), but they’ve apparently not played live for a while.  This return to performance seems to have brought out the wildness in them.  This show has all kinds of jamming moments with eight songs lasting over 7 minutes.  There’s also some slower moments or songs played differently.  It’s a cool, unique show–very different from their other shows.

There’s even an “opening jam” with a guitar riff explored around some bass notes.  Then a new guitar comes in with some rums.  The whole jam is about 3 minutes but it doesn’t really turn into anything, it’s just a like a warm up jam–I even wondered if it was just the guys messing around until all four of them were on stage.

They play the opening riff to “Fat” but he only plays a clip of it and then stops (allowing Tim to do some bass fills).  During the “bye bye” section they stop the music a few times unexpectedly as well.  It’s an interesting jamming opportunity and runs a pretty long time.

After the song Dave says, “we haven’t played togetehr in a long time well, we haven’t played live in front of people.  We played together at the CBC.”  (the Nightlines show mentioned later).  “So now we got one under our belt.  We forgot our songs had so many parts.”

Dave continues, “There’s a lot of people from Michigan here tonight for some strange reason.  They think the Stanley Cups is here.  But it’s not.  We’ll send this next song out to them.”  It’s “Aliens” At the end, Martin takes off on a wild solo as the band really rocks out.  There’s also an extended jam with someone singing a “dit dit dit” part while Martin plays along on guitar.

“All the Same Eyes” is pretty straightforward except that there’s some real wailing from Martin throughout.

Someone shouts “Are you looking for some fun?” and Martin says “We’ve got a new version of that song we’re gonna play.”  Then Tim says, “Just write your requests on a plate.  Dave: “There’s a private party upstairs and there’s lots of plates outside the door.”  Martin: “There’s a private party for um the three little boys with sandy blonde hair… hamsum?  handsome?”

Then they play the first known occurrence of “Junction Foil Ball.”  Martin introduces it: “we’ll do a kind of a new song”  Don: “its new and we’re kind of going to do it.”  I’m impressed with the interesting sound effects that Martin gets while playing this song.  During the “acoustic tile” section he even distorts his voice like it has slowed down–is that effect of Martin’s singing.

“Four Little Songs” sounds totally different.  It’s got a kind of swinging opening.  The first part is really heavy.   Dave’s part is interesting because while still in the trippy intro section, he begins singing the lyrics to Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold.”  When he finally gets to the song, people sing along to his first lines!  Martin has crazy fun with the riff at the end–lots of squeaking solo noises.

Dave asks: “How are those chamois working out, martin?” “They’re remarkably absorbent for large quantities of liquid.”  When I saw them Martin was very sweaty.  I wonder if he always was.  There’s a solid, slow version of “Bad Time to Be Poor,” which Dave says was written awhile ago…but it’s still a bad time to be poor.

Before “Sweet Rich” Martin says, so I’m going to do this solo, okay Tim.  Just the first bit.”  It’s a great version.

“Joey II” has a long rollicking jam in the intro with Martin chanting “I’m about to fuck up, I’m going to fuck up.”   During the middle of the song he asks if any musicians in the audience have played at the Royal Albert Hall in Winnipeg–well that’s what this song is about.

They play an early version of “Easy to Be with You” which goes to “California” instead of “Harmelodia.”

Dave introduces “Stolen Car” by saying “We’d like to do another new one for you.  We played this at our last concert but we’re going to play it a little differently.  This is Tim Mech one of North America’s greatest unsigned artists.   Seriously, he won a contest in Musicians magazine and was named one of the ten best unsigned artists.   We recorded this for the last Nightlines program.  We recorded about 32 minutes of music.  Old stuff, new stuff and a version of this song.  Dave’s last show is tomorrow night.  Thats 104.1 FM CICZ-FM in the local area!”

As the song starts he says (I assume referring to Mech’s guitar) “this is a Hawaiian guitar that’s autographed by Ben Harper.”  ( I had no idea Ben Harper was noteworthy back in 1997).  There’s a weird electronic drumbeat through the song, and the music is primarily guitars–gentle and smooth.

Martin shouts, “Its’ been great playing in our home town–Toronto!”  They play a long version of “My First Rock Show” with a lengthy introductory instrumental section.  Near the final verse, he whispers the “many years later” section and someone shouts “bird in a cage” at the right time.  As the song ends they play the chorus of Trooper’s “We’re Here For A Good Time (Not A Long Time).”

“California Dreamline” is quite extended as well.  After the first verse there’s a dance jam before the second verse begins.  The middle has a kind of vocal jam with a light bass and guitar motif and everyone singing different parts in a fugue state.  It’s a weirdly unique version.  At the end Martin says, “That was ‘California Dreamline,’ we’re going to do ‘Record Horse Count’ next.  They do neither and in fact play a really slow almost country-feeling version of “Claire.”  It’s so different sounding that they kind of mess it up here and there.

Things get quiet and then people start clapping along and you can barely hear them playing an acoustic un-mic’d version of “Bread Meat Peas and Rice.”  Dave says the name of the song “for those of you who could hear it.  You kind of understand why you use microphones.”  Tim starts talking about the band Farm Fresh. “They had a similar kind of thing with their Peanuts and Corn record [what?] and apparently they’re supposed to be releasing a new record, is that right?  They’ve made two cassettes and they are both for sale and are both really good.”  Dave: “Whats with that T-shirt, Tim?”  “Free with every cassette sold.”

Someone shouts again, “We’re looking for some fun.”  Dave: “Are you?”  And they launch into “Fishtailin'” which opens with that lyric.

After the song Dave asks “What is the time, late or early or what?  What time do bars say open til  4?  5?  [Shouts of four and Five] Tim: According to the new mega city law they close at 1 [boooos], so we’ve got half a song left.

They surprise ever one with “Bees,” a short quiet song with Martin making bee-like sounds on his guitar.  It leads to a long, quiet intro for “Michael Jackson” with Martin still doing some cool guitar sounds.  The whole beginning is slow and a little odd, with Dave singing “but an auto-bon would be better.”  And later, “Elvis is king because he’s dead.”  In the middle of the song Dave starts “rapping” and he says “I’d like to call Pip Skid (I assume) to the stage.  Pip Skid from Manitoba does a rap that’s kind of hard to hear.  Then there’s some soaring guitars from Martin.  The whole song is 11 minutes long and ends in a vocal jam that grows ever quieter.  Martin sings “It feels good to be alive” (hitting great falsettos) while the others are singing snippets and oh yeas.

They play an 11 minute “Dope Fiends” which has a bass and drum solo in the middle as well as just a drum solo later.  After 8 and a half minutes the band keeps going with some simple rocking.  At the end Martin says, “Thanks guys for giving me a second chance.” [?].

They leave the stage for the encore with a drum machine blipping away.  They come back with the drum machine still playing and someone plays a slow meandering guitar line. Another instrumental jam for 3 or so minutes before Dave says, “We’ll play one more.”  He also says that they’ll have their live album out by Christmas (stocking stuffers!).  And they end the show with a great non-nonsense version of “A Midwinter Night’s Dream.”

This is a wonderfully atypical show for the band.  A real treat for fans and an interesting entry point for fans of jamming shows.

The next Rheostatics show that I’ll mention will be in 2001!

[READ: March 16, 2017]  “The Pickle Index”

This story is written in a fascinating way.  There are newspaper articles from The Daily Scrutinizer (written by Mark Hamper) and with them, there is the Pickle Index, a series of recipes.  In fact, it’s a recipe-exchange network “for citizens by citizens.”   Daily participation is mandatory (though surely that’s unnecessary since the treats within are so tasty).

From the Scrutinizer we learn that the official strike team has captured Zloty Kornblatt,the instigator, conspirator and fomenter. He brought a troupe of “performers” into the village to mock, destabilize and cause anarchy.

The Pickle Index begins with Fisherman’s Dills (by Sarafina Loop)–brine-ing cucumbers in the ocean.  And then comes Hollow Gherkins by Flora Bialy.  Although midway through the recipe, it shifts directions and talks about Zloty.  How he left them last night and the writer, Flora Bialy wonders why–was it their incompetence or was it her?  She says that once, years ago Zloty’s team was a real circus with clowns, a trapeze and roasted nuts, but now they were reduced to an extended residency in Burford. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Calgary Folk Fest, Calgary, AB (July 1996).

1996 is an interesting year for Rheostatics Live recordings.  In addition to this Folk Festival show, there’s a show they do at their old high school.  And then there are many shows with them supporting The Tragically Hip.

This is an acoustic set from July 1996 at the Calgary Folk Festival – don’t know exact date. It features Martin Tielli, Dave Bidini and Tim Vesely. There is no drummer though Tim does play a bit on My First Rock Concert. Dave Allen plays violin on Shaved Head and RBC and Dan X of the Rhinos and played drums on RBC. It’s available here.

The introduction is a nice one: “My favorite eastern band… the Rheostatics.”  Dave jokes, playing like you’ve never seen them before.

Teh show (which is fairly short) sounds very different.  It’s all acoustic and they seems to have created special arrangements for the songs.

For the first few songs it’s just Martin, Dave and Tim.  They open with “Introducing Happiness.”  There’s a few sloppy moments near the end but otherwise it’s a very interesting version.  Tim says it’s “a song for my cats back home.”

Dave dedicates the second song (a delicate “Digital Beach”) to Graham James and his wife who drove out here “from somewhere in Saskatchewan to come and see us play and to take in the weekend and the festivities.”  He asks, “any other people from Saskatchewan?  We love that place.  We love Melville.

There’s a long intro for a mellow “Dope Fiends” that features some really great harmonies.  It’s very loose and fun with the guys shouting out lines. It feels like a real campfire version.

After the song Martin says, “It’s hard to sit down.”
Dave: “You like sitting down?”
Martin: “Not particularly.”
Dave: “Me neither”
Martin “I’m squirrely as hell.”
Dave: “We thought if we sat down for once it would be a whole new thing and catch on.  But we plan to get up later for the show-stopping finale.”

Dave plays “My First Rock Show” (one of the earliest times I’ve heard it played live).  He says, “This is a song about attending a rock festival.  This is folk festival.  The song is the first time I went to a rock festival.  It was at the CNE (Canadian National Exhibition).  As the song starts he says there’s a Janis Ian kind a feel happening.

After Dave sings the “Took away the car keys” he says, “Timmy, get on the drums there, brother.”

After the song Dave says that earlier today we saw a young fellow with a tattoo.   A Rheostatics tattoo! It’s not real, it’s magic marker.  But you gotta show it off!  You rubbed it off?  Aw!

“Clarie” goes out to James Meritetch (?)  There’s a kind a classical opening and after the solo Martin segues the song into Neil Young’s “L.A.”

And then the guests start coming.  Dave says “A friend of ours from Kingston Ontario, a noted member of the drinking band The Mahones,  Dave Allen the doctor is in the house….  well …park.  We haven’t played with Dave for four years–he was on Whale Music.  He says they didn’t expect to see hm but he showed up at the festival and “they lassooed him, as you do.”  They play great, moody acoustic “Shaved Head.”

Then Dan Michell, Dan X of The Rhinos from Guelph and Kitchener–everyone here from Ontario is on stage now.  They play an interesting folkie “Record Body Count” with a violin. There’s an electric guitar solo.  Interestingly, they end with an extra chorus. And then they are gone.

The announcer says, “The Rheostatics!” …   “A drum stick!” … “The Rheostatics!”

It’s one of their more interesting shows and quite fun.

[READ: July 6, 2017] “Caring for Plants”

This was a rather dark story translated from the Korean by Sora Kim-Russell.  At first I thought that there was no way this story could be as long as it was–it seemed almost over when it started.  But then by the end, I wanted it to go on for many pages more.

The story opens with Oghi in the hospital.  He has been there for 8 days since the car accident.  His wife died in the accident and he was badly mangled.  He cannot speak, he is in incredible pain and is clinging to life thanks to an IV drip.  His face looks like a waffle stuck to the iron–that’s how his wife would have described it.  And worst of all is that he accident was his fault.

It took six months before he could go home. His mother-in-law had been taking care of his wife’s garden (the only thing his wife loved taking care of).  Since he cannot speak, his mother-in-law is more or less doing whatever she wants in the house–going through the jewelry and taking what she wants–things he doesn’t even recognize. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: FRAGILE ROCK-Tiny Desk Concert #634 (July 14, 2017).

Fragile Rock are an emo band.  But they are not your typical emo band because they are a band of puppets.

And for just 15 minutes on a glorious spring day in Washington, D.C., National Public Radio became National Puppet Radio.

It was the real-life breakup of band leader Brently Heilborn that led to the formation of the woefully woven band Fragile Rock. But these aren’t just any puppets — no. They are emo puppets, armed with drums and guitars and glum tales to tell, with songs like “Wake Up to the Breakup” and “I Am Sad (And So Am I)” that which draw from the spastic boogie of The B-52s and the laments of The Smiths. At one point, you’ll see Fragile Rock empty a bag of “bloodied” socks, tossing them into the crowd, before breaking into the song “Socks Are Murder,” a playful take on The Smiths’ thoughtful “Meat Is Murder.”

The band consists of seven puppets (handled by 8 performers) and three actual musicians (see below for the details).  They play three punky songs.  And I wish I liked the songs a little more.  There’s something that doesn’t quite live up to the visual fun of the band.

“Wakeup To The Breakup” is a fast punk song, but the song isn’t quite as catchy as I’d like.  But I do like the spirit of the song and the amusing “crowd surfing” of Milo S.  I also enjoyed the amusing commentary afterward: “There’s so many sad breakup songs… but sometimes it’s a wonderful thing.  So if anyone came here today with someone you don’t want to leave with… that song legally counts as your conversation.”

The second song is a lot more catchy (and a bit funnier).  As an introduction, Milo says, “A lot of you don’t want us to get political on National Puppet Radio.”  But they need to speak out that “Socks are Murder.”  The lyrics are largely clever: “argyle is a lie / with every step a puppet dies.”  I rather like the way the chorus starts with him dead panning “Socks Are….”  “socks are murder!”  When the song ends, he glowers: “We don’t appreciate your laughter.”

Before the final song, Milo says “We’re very happy to be here at the legendary Tiny Desk Concert.  We’re assuming we set the bar so high this will be the last one.  So we’d like to close out the series….”  The backing puppets all look aghast: “It’s not funny!”  The song is dedicated to everyone’s dark muse, “Fairuza Balk.” It’s the catchiest of the three with great backing vocals.  I like at the end when the final line is “She was in The Craft” and the guitarist chimes in.  “And The Waterboy.  She was in The Waterboy, etc.”

And in the spirit of the day Fragile Rock managed to crowd surf a puppet bringing giggles to a crowd of reporters, editors and friends, while puppets depicting NPR hosts Susan Stamberg, Michel Martin and Robert Siegel (the latter actually received a playful kiss from none other than Nina Totenberg) — all created by NPR’s own puppet master Barry Gordemer — objectively observed.

As the video ends, you can see the puppets getting of the elevator and then sitting behind the NPR microphone.

It’s a very fun, make no mistake.  I just don’t think I’d enjoy the songs without the visuals.

  • Musicians

    Milo S. (lead vocals, handled by Brently Heilbron); Nic Hole (bass, handled by Megan Thornton); Kyle Danko (guitar, handled by Chadwick Smith); CoCo Bangs (drums; handled by Taylor Love and Luke Wallens); The Cocteau Triplets (back up vocals; handled by Emily Cawood, Kim Stacy, and Bryan Curry); Cindy Ward (bass); Ryan Hill (guitar); Jayme Ramsay (drums)

[READ: August 1, 2017] “Le Réveillon”

This excerpt comes from a 1977 untranslated novel called Livret de famille.  It was translated by .

The piece begins as we learn of the death of Fats.

The narrator was 18 when he met Fats.  He was introduced to the large man (the nickname was not ironic) by a cabaret girl, Claude.  At midnight she would appear on stage wearing a mink coat and evening gown.  She would perform a striptease while two white toy poodles capered around her and snatched her underthings as she removed them.

Fats was a regular presence at her shows and would leave notes for her afterwards.  When she introduced Fats to the narrator, Fats laughed that the narrator had the same name as brand of cards in Italy, so he began calling him Poker. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-The Palladium, Toronto ON (April 23, 1994).

This recording would be awesome–one of their best–if it were a little clearer and the audience was less talkative.  The band is absolutely on fire, having a lot of fun and really rocking out. There are some sloppy moments, but everyone is really on fire–including the chatty audience, who often as not sing along loudly.

It begins with an incredibly excited introduction: Right now we’re going to explore some pop culture–Life is about whats taking what’s in your heart and doing it and these guys right here right now want to do it for you.  The Rheostatics!

This show was recorded following primary recording of the Introducing Happiness album in the Bahamas.  And also during the Western Conference Quarter-Finals between the Leafs and the Black Hawks.  And so after “Michael Jackson” fans start chanting “Go Leafs Go” over and over.  The band plays the synthy “Crescent Moon” and the chanting resumes after the song.  You hear someone shout “anyone know the score?” 5-4.  For Toronto?  No.

They send thanks to Guelph’s masters King Cobb Steelie who opened.

They play a great “Introducing Happiness” and then a rollicking “Rain Rain Rain.’  The crowd is insanely singing along to it.  So much so that Dave has to say “This is the quiet verse” so that Martin whispers his lines.

Dave says that “If you’re at your video store rent a film called Millennium with Daniel J. Trevanti and Cheryl Ladd.  He says that the band are in it as alien junk sweepers.  I don’t know if the whole band are in it but Dave Bidini is in it for “18 seconds” which you can see here.  Clark chimes in that while we’re on the subject, “I’d like to outlaw toilet paper dispensers in public washrooms that don’t dispense toilet paper when you need them.”

Martin jumps in with “A new song by Dave called “Me and Stupid.”  And then the crowd noise becomes really awful.  There’s a terribly annoying group of people talking through “Northern Wish.”  Honestly.

Dave asks Clark for a “Quick travelogue of our experiences in the Bahamas” and Clark does what he does best, rambling for 3 or so minutes.”

Then they ask for suggestions for their new album: Hammerhead, Tackle Box, Undertow or Introducing Happiness.  Tackle Box wins easily.

When they learn that the Leafs lost, Bidini says the “Leafs didn’t win because Wendell Clark is in the audience tonight.”  Some shouts to play Wendell!  But instead they play “Take Me in Your Hand.”  And then they play “Wendell” but Clark says they’ll “Do part 2 first and part 1 second.”  But they never do play Part one.

There’s rocking version of Soul Glue and for that last line, Tim sings, “No… going see the Pink Floyd concert coming soon to this town save your money, don’t do it.”  This leads to some lines like “classic rock no good.”  Tim jokes that he thought the guys in King Cobb Steelie were wearing lip gloss because he can taste something on the microphone.  Then he realized that Alive, a Kiss tribute band was there last night and there’s fake blood on the monitors and the floor and that must be what he’s tasting.

Clark sings: “I’m the king of the nighttime world and you’re my sexist song.”

Then Clark jumps in and says they’re at the “Midpoint in the show” so they should do “one more breezy number and then well pick it up.”  Bidini says it’s time for the ritual trading of the hats.  Martin keeps interrupting “Hey Joey” (although they don’t play Record Body Count) and then says, “Back in high school they used to call me rubberneck.”  This is all a strange introduction to “Claire” which is kind of sloppy although Martin plays an awesome effects-laden solo at the end.

Someone shouts something and Dave things they said Pentangle.  So Clark says they’ll do a Pentangle cover.  But Bidini just asks if they want a psychedelic beginning to the next song.  They do.  So he says “Promise that none of you will get so high you have to go to the trip tent—and everyone agrees that Trip tent should be the name of the new album.

The psychedelic intro to “Dope Fiends” begins with Clark singing…something… “and they crawled from the tombs of despair.”  And then this improvised song:

In the maze of my mind
Where I took a little something sublime
I’m waiting for it
I’m wanting more of it
I gotta get me some tea for my party  (Tea Party!)

LSD, MDA, Magic Mushrooms, they’re okay
But when I want that trip sublime (tripping freaky in my mind)
the only thing I’m wanting for
Is orange pekoe in my jar

This leads to “One More Colour,” after which you can hear some fans talking (loudly): “Wasn’t that amazing?”  “Any fuckin band that has a cover….”  Sadly it is cut off, I wish I could have heard the end of that!

A gentle “Digital Beach,” segues into a delicate “California Dreamline” which segues seamlessly into “Horses.”  During the end someone sings, “we don’t need no education.”  (After the song fans sing to the “holy mackinaw, joe” melody: “Lets fuck up Patrick Roi” “Holy Patrick Roi.”  This leads to a chant of “Go Habs Go” and calls to stone him!

“Bread Meat Peas and Rice” is done folkie–it’s cut off and quiet.  When the song is over someone yells: “we’re not worthy, we’re not worthy [I guess Wayne’s World just came out]—we’re worthy of peas and rice bit otherwise we’re not worthy.

“Legal Age Life” begins a capella then guitar comes in after two verses.

And then a plea from the band to get their video for “Shaved Head” on the air:

Write to Much Music tell them you want to see the video.  It’s black and white and live (both audio and video are live).

This song ends the show.  It’s a really intense version–would be great to have a clear recording of it.  After it’s all done martin does an interesting feedback session for a couple of minutes and then they’re gone.

It’s really great hearing how much the crowd loves this band.

[READ: January 15, 2017] “Sound and Fury”

This story is an excerpt from Handke’s novel The Moravian Night (translated by Krishna Winston).

It opens with a symposium on noise.  The symposium was held in a conference center located on the Spanish steppe–no settlements in the vicinity, only a few farmsteads, long since abandoned.

The auditor imagined the symposium would be full of dignitaries, experts and role-players.  But those who came were victims, above all.  They were all permanently damaged by noise and racket. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Matinee Day 3] (February 27, 1994).

Second annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-March 1 1994. Setlists for all shows were fairly similar in content focusing mainly on the 25-30 songs that they would use for consideration on Introducing Happiness which began recording the following week. Rare performances of Green Xmas, Floating and one of the earliest Desert Island Discs. This is the all ages Sunday afternoon show 3/5.

Sadly there was to be no celebratory party for the Canadian hockey team who lost the final match and took silver (they’d have to wait until 2002).

They’re going to play a lot of new songs and some old songs.  So they start with “Crescent Moon” from Greatest Hits (it’s so synthy!).  Midway through they seem to mess up and Dave says, “We know the new ones well we just don’t know the old ones very well.”

As the start “Green Xmas,” Dave Clark says, “I love Christmas Time so much so that I love playing this song even though it’s not Christmas.”  When the song is over there’s lots of talk about gum–I assume someone had some in the audience: Black Cat, Ton o Gum or Bubbalicious.  He asks what kind and they start talking about Dubble Bubble and how so many bad things happened to Pud (He could never win).  He contends that Ziggy ripped him off.

They get an organized snap going for Fishtailin’.  They play a verse and then hold it, Dave says “We usually play this song in A, Martin.”  However we will employ “capo technology.”

Clark says he enjoys playing that song because it reminds him of …Dave.  And all the good times they had…before the bad stuff happened (ha).  Clark describes how he met Dave when they were kids.  Bidini says he doesn’t remember the meeting and jokes “did you steal something off of me?”  Clark says Bidini’s aunt and uncle got the first in ground pool in the area and that’s where they met.  Bidini asks what he thought of him.  After shouting “Doofus,” Clark says, I thought “he would become a well kempt perhaps overspoken person.”  Bidini says he remembers being in his Delta 88 going for a drivers test in 1981 and picking up Clark and thinking “he has lips as big as mine–we can be square together.”

It’s a good segue into “Me and Stupid” (which they make family-friendly by singing “messed up” instead of fucked up).  For the fish chant at the end “pike, trout, bass, smelt,” Dave says they are the “four fish of the apocalypse.”

Dave apologizes that he “spit on you from afar but luckily I hit one of the Wooden Stars and I think that will bring me good luck in 1994.”  The Wooden Stars are the band that’s playing during the break.

Once again Tim says that “Introducing Happiness” is about having cats–not birthing cats, just discovering them.”

Clark says that they are “one of the laziest bands in rock.”  Bidini says they have inherited the mantle from Valdy.  Then he says I thought you meant “laid back.”   Clark says “I didn’t say lamest.”  But Bidini says that Valdy once paid The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos $1500 to open for them at the Port Credit Arena.  Clark says he wasn’t talking about Valdy, he wrote the Four Seasons.  Tim says he also sells really cheap groceries (I assume he’s joking about Aldi).

For “In This Town,” Martin asks for “Lots of reverb on the intro.”  Bidini says it’s like they’re in a cave.  Then there’s a great “Michael Jackson, ” followed by a rocking “RDA.”  A sloppy intro to “Soul Glue” is fixed and then the song starts for good.  Midway through Bidini tells them to do it nice and breezy, like Valdy would do it, and they make it very smooth.  “Zero angst, Tim.”  The gentle ending segues nicely into “Self Serve Gas Station.”

Clark tries to wax eloquent about the loss of sun, but he can’t get the words out.  So they encourage the kids to dance, which it sounds like they do.

They play the mellow “Row,” which features a really great solo from Martin in the middle.  After a discussion of new wave, they play the rapid, rather odd “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos.”   They play “Floating” again–one of those songs that has never gotten official release.  It’s pretty cool with a few different parts that complicate the song.

They ask, “Any teenagers in the audience?  I heard that teenagers don’t like to be called teenagers what do they like to be called?”  Someone shouts “Young adults.”  They play “Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too.”

They ask that the lights to go up and they play a song/game called “Desert Island Picks.”  You say three albums you’d take with you if you were stranded on a desert island (in this case New Providence Island).  They walk around singing the folk song and then some people come up: it is really fun and very funny, a great good time is had by all.  They even bring up a little kid and he sings his three favorite things in the world.  When they ask another kid what school she goes to, she says  “uh…what?”  And someone shouts “Must be U of T!”

Someone had picked three Beatles albums, and Martin says “This is from our next album Let It Be…”  He sings “Jo Jo was a…” before beginning “Take Me in Your Hand” properly.  Then they play a lovely version of “Claire” and then a noisy messy sloppy verse of Neil Young’s “Farmer John,” which morphs into the crazy trilogy “Artenings Made of Gold/Cephallus Worm/Uncle Henry.”

Clark asks if they should play longer or shorter, and longer wins.  But he must take a five-minute bathroom break.  So Martin plays a gentle acoustic version of “Record Body Count,” which the crowd loves.   Then, “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” is introduced as “Saskatchewan Part 2”.  And then (despite some apparent crying from children) they play “Horses” (the moaning child actually sounds like a pretty good fit for this intense song).  There’s even a kid who sings the “Holy Mackinaw, Joe” part.  At the end, there’s kids doing the whole ending with them.

And then it’s a couple of covers: Jane Siberry’s “One More Colour” and a rocking rendition of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender.”  They leave the stage and there is a truly wild and rowdy encore cheer (banging things and lots of screaming).

Dave gives away a prize–nightgowns (?) from Sire Records–which Clark says he doesn’t want because he’s ashamed of being on a major label.  I’d love to see those.

It leads to a cool trippy version of “Dope Fiends,” and the end guitar section segues perfectly in to “Earth Monstrous Hummingbirds,” a version which doesn’t ever get really weird but which still sounds fantastic.

I can’t get over how cool it is that Rheostatics played matinee shows like this.  The show lasted over 2 hours, tickets were $6 and it was all kind-friendly.  That’s pretty awesome.

[READ: January 17, 2017] “The Curse”

This is an excerpt from Marías’ recent nonfiction book To Begin at the Beginning. It is a reflection on the art of writing fiction.

This brief section looks at how he writes; he doesn’t know how things are going to turn out when he begins–that would be boring for him.  And if he was bored, it would reflect in his writing and then his readers would be bored.

Just as we do what we do when we’re twenty without knowing that when we reach forty we may wish we had done something else, and just as when we’re forty we have no alternative but to abide by what we did when we were twenty, we can’t erase or amend anything, so I write what I write on page 5 of a novel with no idea if this will prove to have been a good idea when I reach page 200, and far from writing a second or third version, adapting page 5 to what I later find out will appear on page 200, I don’t change a word, I stand by what I wrote at the very beginning — tentatively and intuitively, accidentally or capriciously. Except that, unlike life — which is why life tends to be such a bad novelist — I try to ensure that what had no meaning at the beginning does have meaning at the end. I force myself to make necessary what was random and even superfluous, so that ultimately it’s neither random nor superfluous.

He cites an example.  When Marías’ Cuban great-grandfather was still a young man, he refused to help a beggar. The beggar put a curse on him: “You and your eldest son will both die before you are fifty, far from your homeland and without a grave.”  He wrote about this curse in his book Dark Back of Time. (more…)

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