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Archive for the ‘Blondie’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 4] (February 28, 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 Symphony, Green Xmas, Floating, Woodstuck, Halloween Eyes and a cover of Blondie’s Heart Of Glass. This is show 4/5.

Sounds like people are sitting and then there s a request for people to stand up to make more room, but what about the people who can’t see…?  Let them fight it out I guess.

Most of this show is pretty clear with the exception of a few moments of wobbly tape.  Also notable is that most of the songs seem to be played a little bit more slowly than usual.  This makes them much easier to hear–and makes most of the lyrics really clear.

The tape is wavery through “In This Town.”  As an introduction to “Introducing Happiness,” Martin says “I think our next record is going to be a happy record…we didn’t have any idea how it was going to sound but…  [someone mentions where they are going to record it]: “how could it not be happy.”  It segues segues into “One More Colour” and Clark says that should dispel all rumors about any antipathy between Rheostatics and Jane Siberry–we are going to cover one of her most excellent songs on our new record.

Once again for “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos,” they ask “fancy beginning or simple?”  Some people shout fancy!  Then a few for simple!  And then someone shouts “Angular.”  Martin says “This sing is angular.”  It’ sa fast burst of music and then comes a slow and kind of moody “Michael Jackson.”

Starting “Fishtailin'” Martin says, “I remembered to put my capo on this time.”  Bidini says, “the capo is like the condom of the guitar.  I don’t know how or why but it is.”  Someone in the audience shouts, “it prevents you from having another key.”  To laughter and confusion.  Martin then says, “For this one we gotta start by snapping on what they call the one.”  Tim jokes, “If you’re really good we’ll fly you down to Compass Point so you can record the snaps on the album.”  They stop after a verse (everyone likes Tim’s falsetto) and no one seems to know what happened.  Then they start again and all is well

Dave says “Me and Stupid” is a song about “fishing for fun and misadventure.”

Earlier in the night Dave and Dave were “fighting,” and Bidini said he was “Danny Bonaduce” and Clark was “Donny Osmond.”  [I had no idea that this was a real “event” that happened in January 1994].  At one point he says he will have to go through Tim to fight Clark–that must make Tim Susan Dey.  Tim: “At least I still got a career.”  There’s a long version of “Oneilly’s Strange Dream” and Martin repeats the first verse entirely.

“Claire” sounds good–slightly experimental–like many of the other songs this night.  “Floating” has an interesting opening with a cool bass line–this is probably the best recording of the song.  “Full Moon Over Russia” is suitably wacky with some really extra crazy nonsense singing and playing–lines about Colgate and teeth and litter and whatnot.  There’s some really jazzy section and Dave says, “I guess that’s why the kids love the jazz sound.”

“Green Christmas” opens with some whistling–“there should definitely be whistling on our happy pop album.”  There’s an interesting bass throb to open “Alomar” which segues into the opening pretty guitar of “Artenings Made of Gold/Cephallus Worm–they loudly sing the “what did martin pull out of cat’s ass in Italy”many times.  Every part has an extended section including a kind of ska groove during Uncle Henry.”  In the middle they ask for “some of that nifty audience participation stuff”  Tim says, “Get them to do something silly.”  There’s some howling “kind of Halloweenish,” which gets them to sing a verse of   “devils got horns devils got a tail 666 you’re a sitting duck ahoooooo.”  This is from a thing called “Halloween Eyes (666 gonna fuck you up!)” that seems to have been recorded once in 2001.  Martin jokes that the next time they’ll sing: “don’t look at me with those Halloween eyes / don’t tempt me with those pumpkin pies.”

Clark says “Uncle Henry” and “Halloween Eyes” just prove what you can do with a lot of… weed.  Sorry, I mean happiness.   Bidini says, “Someone is spontaneously combusting because we played this not on Halloween.”

Dave tells a story about smoking substances in the back of the van (audience member: “but that’s illegal!” and then says “I told Don Maclean I’d always call it marijuana perfume.”

“It’s the cleanest version of “Symphony” I’ve heard yet.  It is slower than the others.  As is “Jesus.”  “Jesus” is so slow that Martin speaks one of the middle verses.

They give a shout out to Kevin Hearn (and other musicians) who is hanging around and watching–it seemed like they called him up at one point but I don’t think so.

They have a ton of fun with “When Winter Comes”– a really lengthy opening in which they tease each other (what can I do to please you, Tim?).  Unfortunately this is where the tape gets all wobbly and warped so you can’t hear it very clearly.   The whole song is ten minutes long.  It’s wild and crazy sloppy with another song squeezed in by Bidini.  But the crowd is insane for the chorus.

The next few songs are really slow and moody.  They sound very different and interesting.  But that pace seems to mess everyone up a bit.  During “California Dreamline,” Martin misses the fast guitar solo during the “dolphins” line.  And in the really slow “Palomar” it seem like Tim can’t sing the chorus that slowly.

Clark asks if everyone is enjoying themselves and a fan shouts “Green Sprouts always enjoy themselves.”  Bidini notes, “but not too much… they always have just the right amount of fun.”  He says that they’re going to be on Much Music to debut the video for “Shaved Head,” which they also play really slow and really moody.

For the encore they start with their weird sorta half-assed version of “Heart of Glass” that segues into their new wavey “Crescent Moon.”  Martin says “we’re taking requests,” and someone immediately shouts “Woodstuck.”  “Done!”  Someone else shouts “and let’s hear it for the Trans Canada Soul Patrol.”  They throw in the “Mommy’s alright” line from “Surrender” during the song.

Lots of requests for the last song, someone shouts “I Fought the Law,” but they decide to do “The Battle of Wendell Clark” which I haven’t heard in a long time and which they segue into “The Good Old Hockey Game.”  It’s dedicated to the Olympic team who brought home silver.

As they finish, Clark says you can shuffle out to the shuffling sounds of the Shufflestatics.

Shave an a haircut, goodnight.

[READ: January 18, 2017] “Cold Fish”

This is a story of a couple who has gone to Key West.  They are engaged, but this is not a wedding-related trip, just a vacation that Neil wanted to do.  Mara can’t think of a reason not to go to Key West, so she decides that she just wants to get drunk and get a tan.

Mara orders dessert–key lime pie–and Neil who doesn’t like desserts, seems sad when she says it’s not the best pie she’s ever had (as advertised on the door).

Neil is always looking around for someone to take their picture.  In the photos Mara looks put-upon.

She calls her sister from the hotel that evening and tells her about watching a Jane Fonda movie.  Later her sister tells her not to call back unless they’ve eloped. (more…)

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 SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Ultrasound Showbar [2nd GSMW Night 1] (February 25, 1994).

The next four shows are four of the five nights from the Second Annual Green Sprouts Music Week held at Ultrasound Showbar Feb 25-Mar 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. This first night featured 24 songs never previously released and a few that were played live very very rarely including Joey III, Floating, Fluffy, Green Xmas (which would appear years later as The Music Room on Harmelodia) and Symphony. Some of the audio on the beginning of each side of the tape is a bit warped and thus has a bit of a flange like effect for a few minutes.

That flange is very noticeable on “Jesus Was Once a Teenager, Too,” but it all settles down for “Tim Vesely going electric” on “Introducing Happiness.”  Bidini jokes that this is going to be their “up with life” album.

Introducing “One More Colour,” Dave Clark says, “Our next diddy is by a friend of ours who we last played with in Guelph.”  They follow it up with “Fan Letter to Michael Jackson” and “Full Moon Over Russia.”  After this song they ask the audience which chord they like better during one section–the minor chord wins.

They introduce “Fishtailin'” as a song about “love and life and living and loving.”  But an even better introduction comes for “Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds” in which Bidini says it’s a song about the missing link.  Mankind was just walking around on earth drooling a lot.  And then all of a sudden they were up flying kites and making hotcakes and colorizing films and making Top 40 Radio.  Some say aliens impregnated cro-magnon man.  Dave thinks they came down for just two days and made everything happen.

Before the next song, Clark asks, “Dave what’s the best time of the year?”  Bidini says “Spring time: spring training starts.  Clark says I find around September 23rd (Bidini says, that’s coz baseball’s ending) because it’s 21 degrees–my favorite temperature.  Bidini: “yeah well spring’s better.”

There’s some banter about rehearsal space.  Clark says the band that used the microphones after them left them smelling like cheese.  Tim: “and by coincidence the band is called “Cheesemike.”  Then Clark tells a story about them being on Lunch TV, with his friends calling up saying “hey man, what are you doing on lunch TV,” and I said, “what the fuck are you doing watching it?”  Martin is annoyed because he stepped all over his introduction to a sweet version of “Take Me in Your Hand.”

They ask if there are any complaints so far.  Has everyone who has written the band gotten a reply?  Then Tim requests that Martin sing a verse of “Fluffy” which has only been played one other time on the live bootlegs (back in 1990).  The verse about champagne  Champagne?  Martinis, sorry.  It’s incredible falsetto, but Martin stops the song and says it sucked.  The last time they did that song a dark cloud came over Saskatoon.  Martin gives himself credit for writing one of the sickest songs ever.

Then they do one of the “not sickest” songs ever written: “Claire.”  Whale Music the film is locking down on Tuesday.  Clark jokes “Lee Majors is in it!”–he isn’t.  And then a great version of “Me and Stupid” before they take a break.

Paul McCloud “and his two little clouds” played in between sets.

They come back and At the conclusion of “The Woods Are Full of Cuckoos” Dave says that song is where Jethro Tull meets Rush.  Someone shouts, “What corner?”  Dave replies, “The corner of Bloor and Symington” (voted as the worst intersection in 2012).  At the end of “In This Town” Clark asks “who’s got Olympic fever? I do!”  Bidini asks, “Who’s your favorite Olympian?” Clark mentions a sportscaster….  Bidini says, “Dave hasn’t watched one second of the Olympics clearly, or he would have said Myriam Bédard.

Then there’s “Floating” a song I don’t know at all.  It’s a slow building Bidini song with a bouncy refrain of “up in the air” and a really noisy middle section.  After that he asks, “Didn’t everyone on the Finnish national hockey team look like Great Bob Scott?”  Clark says, “It’s funny you should mention that.  If I was gonna write a song for anybody it would be for Kevin Hearn, my favorite clown.  Of course none of you know who Kevin Hearn is… (ironic that they opened for BNL the previous year)

We had an idea one night that we would do a sequel to Melville–continue the stories from the album.  They only have two, this one “Onielly’s Strange Dream: is one of them.  It starts out very pretty with a recognizable guitar riff, but midway through the tape must change or something, it gets really loud and flangy.  It’s okay, it’s virtually impossible to forget the words on record.  It’s virtually impossible to forget the words “chicken Jimmy kept em alive,” To which Martin mumbles, “yea well he did.  It’s not funny.”

“Symphony” is also new to me.  On the song Bidini plays drums.  Martin stops the songs after a few verses and Dave complains that Clark was so jealous that Dave was playing drums that he forgot to turn the snare on.  And then Martin says it was way fast.  There’s some cool riffs and a line about no one takes solos in this band.  I’d like to hear that one more clearly.

Before the next song, Bidini says, I don’t play guitars on this, thank the lord.  Then there’s some drummer jokes:

Drums is a promotion actually–a drummer told me that.
Clark yells, “If Laura Lynn’s in the audience shame on you for cutting on drummers–they’re the foundation of any band.”
Bidini: “What did she say? How do you know a drummer’s at your door?  The knock speeds up and gets louder.  Coz if she did, that would be okay.”
Clark says, “Of course the most schooled musicians sit behind the tubs.”

The slow and country sounding “Row,” gets the dramatic introduction, “This is a song… Tim wrote.”  Then comes a rocking “Triangles on the Wall.”

Before “Bread, Meat, Peas and Rice,” Clark asks, “Just acoustic guitar and voice?”  But no, “Full band.” Clark jokes, “We’ll attempt a song we don’t know.”  At the end Clark asks, “Was that cannibolically inspired?”  “Alomar” is always a fun treat especially when followed by a wild and raucous “PROD.”  At the end Tim asks, “I wonder if Steven Page had a song, “We are the people’s republic of Steven Page, how would it go?”  And they give it a shot.

They then launch into the lurching “The Royal Albert” the other song that’ s a sequel (“Joey Part II”) which ends with the guys all singing what sounds like “soooey.”  After this song, Dave says, “We’ll take some requests because we’ve run out of new material. [Much shouting] Okay we’ll do them all.”

They start with “Record Body Count” which ends with a fugue vocal of everyone singing “Joey stepped up on a block of ice,” which is pretty cool.  It’s followed by the unrecorded “Joey III” (all three parts together, just out of sequence).  “Joey III” contains the “do you believe it” refrain from “Christopher,” which is a little odd, but which works.  This segues into a slow “Self Serve Gas Station” that eventually rocks out.

They end the set with some covers: a short, sloppy but fun version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” (sung by Martin) and a pretty rocking version of Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” (sung by Dave) which segues into a blast of “RDA.”

Despite the slightly muddy sound, this is a great set, especially if you like Introducing Happiness.

[READ: January 18, 2017]: “In This One”

I don’t really have a sense for what Stephen Dixon is doing in his writings.  He really likes to play with convention as a way of telling a fairly conventional story.

So, in this one, Dixon uses the phrase “in this one” in nearly every sentence.

It starts out “In this one he’ll have only one daughter and no other child.  In this one he’ll be divorced and his ex-wife will live in California…”

The character being discussed is a writer, “in this one he’ll have finished a novel a month or so ago after working on it for more than three years.”

In this one, his daughter tries to set him up with a coworker but neither finds the other interesting.

It sounds like Dixon is trying to write a new story–trying to create a character based on other characters.  But as the story proceeds it seems like this story is far more self-reflective.  In this one he meets a woman and he’s off to bed with her. But he warns her that it has been a long time and he hopes he’s able to get started. (more…)

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hhftSOUNDTRACK: G.L.O.B.E. & WHIZ KID-“Play that Beat Mr DJ” (Double Dee & Steinski Payoff Mix) (1985).

doubledeeThe original of this song (1983) was simply the drums and simple keyboard riff.  The “Payoff Mix” done by Double Dee & Steinski added the incredibly dense layer of samples that really make this song interesting (actually the samples are more interesting than the rap).

The samples included:

  • Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel by Grandmaster Flash and The Furious Five
  • Play It Sam…Play “As Time Goes By” (Avalon/As Time Goes By) by Humphrey Bogart (dialogue spoken from the movie Casablanca)
  • That’s the joint – Funky Four Plus One
  • Take the Country to N.Y. City by Hamilton Bohannon
  • Don’t Make Me Wait (Acapella) by Peech Boys
  • Stop! In The Name Of Love by Diana Ross and the Supremes
  • Rockit by Herbie Hancock
  • Situation 12″ by Yazoo
  • Starski Live at the Disco Fever by Lovebug Starski
  • World’s Famous, Hobo Scratch, D’Ya Like Scratchin’ and Buffalo Gals by Malcolm McLaren
  • Apache by Incredible Bongo Band
  • Tutti Frutti by Little Richard
  • Last Night A DJ Saved My Life by Indeep
  • I’ll Tumble 4 Ya by Culture Club
  • Speech by Fiorello La Guardia from Reading the Comics – July,1945

Double Dee & Steinski went on to make some other great mashups (and these sound amazing since they were done circa 1985).  I particularly like Lesson 3.

Here’s the one that made them famous:

[READ: November 23, 2014] Hip Hop Family Tree 2

This volume picks up right where the previous one left off in 1981.

First we meet Doug E. Fresh who, devoid of records, starts the trend of beatboxing.  We also see The Sugarhill Gang doing a rap over the song “Apache” (while dressed like Native Americans).

The book bounces back to California (Oakland this time) where we meet Too Short, a great high school rapper who is interested in making money from his skills.  We also see a young Ice-T doing his gangland thing

Then it jumps back to Rick Rubin whose love of punk and metal (these goings on are happening at the same time as Black Flag is trying out a young Henry Rollins, and Bad Brains are in high gear–and often times the crowds mix amiably) fuses with his love of rap.  he really wants to be able to capture the rawness of the live sounds of both types of music onto a record (enter the Beastie Boys).  And, strangely enough (although perhaps it should be expected), Malcolm McDowell enters the picture.  We also see Fab Five Freddy making “Change the Beat” which includes a since-very-heavily sampled “Freshhhhh” (more…)

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hhftSOUNDTRACK: “The Adventures Of Grandmaster Flash On The Wheels Of Steel” (1981).

grandThis track was one of the first records to mix songs from other artists (yes, we call it sampling now).  It was a chance for Grandmaster Flash to show off his mad mixing skills.  He used three turntables, samples from the movie Flash Gordon (nice) and this songs:

Chic – “Good Times” ; Blondie – “Rapture” ; Queen – “Another One Bites the Dust” ; Sugarhill Gang – “8th Wonder” ; The Furious Five – “Birthday Party” ; Spoonie Gee – “Monster Jam” ; Michael Viner’s Incredible Bongo Band – “Apache” ; Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five – “Freedom” ; Sugarhill Gang – “Rapper’s Delight” ; The Hellers – “Life Story”

It’s really impressive and it sounds seamless.

[READ: November 23, 2014] Hip Hop Family Tree 1

This book came across my desk at work and I was really excited to read it.  I thought I didn’t know all that much about the origins of hip hop.  And while I was largely right, I was also pleased that I knew so many of the big names.

So this is a graphic novel done by Ed Piskor.  Piskor’s style is familiar (it looks like old school indie comics, even though he was born in 1982). Now, I already said I don’t know all that much about hip hop history, so I can’t vouch for the veracity of this family tree (and I certainly suspect that Piskor likes some people and dislikes others), but I assume that this is a pretty accurate story about how hip hop came to be.

It all starts in the 1970s with DJ Kool Herc in the South Bronx.  He spins discs at parties and is hugely successful.  He starts looping records to extend the drum breaks.  His popularity inspires Grandmaster Flash who tries new techniques and Afrika Bambaataa who plays the most obscure records he can find (Kraftwerk, for instance).  Bambaataa was once a gang leader but he channeled his music into a more peaceful gang–Zulu Nation.  This group leads to some other early hip hop groups: The Treacherous Three, The Cold Crush Brothers, Funky Four Plus One (the first of the groups to feature a woman) and The Fantastic Five, (more…)

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jdSOUNDTRACK: PET SHOP BOYS-Electric (2013).

psbAfter the sombre, more reflective Elysium, Pet Shop Boys came back with the far more upbeat and dancey Electric.  Right from the start, you know this is back to high energy fun (with of course sardonic lyrics). The opening track, “Axis,” is a major dance song with processed vocals and a great riff–I love how the song goes very electronic and artificial sounding around 4 minutes in.  “Bolshy” has a classic PSB sound–dancey keyboards and Neil Tennant’s ageless voice.  I don’t really quite know what the song is about but it is really fun to sing along to. It is followed by “Love is  Bourgeois Construct” (I sense a strangely political theme here–and I love that the follow-up line is “just like they said at University” ), I love the way the song gets really muddy while the synth line plays and that it emerges bigger and better than ever–the sound reminds me of the synth songs in A Clockwork Orange and the riff is on Michael Nyman’s “Chasing Sheep Is Best Left to Shepherds.” The way the music is so epic-sounding for such a simple idea of a song is great,

“Flourescent” is a darker song, with big synths and cowbells ringing in the song.  It’s got a steampunky wheeze as the drum beat and a echoey synth note which all coalesces before Tennant’s vocals which come in–two minutes into the song.  It’s a very moody piece and even at 6 minutes doesn’t feel overly long.

“Inside a Dream” is a dancey song with a fast melody.  “The Last to Die” is a Bruce Springsteen song from his album Magic (I had no idea) which they electrify and make synthy, but not dancey exactly.  They do a very good job of capturing the Springsteen vibe in their own way.  “Shouting in the Evening” is a very dancey song, one of may favorites on the record–I love the way Chris Lowe distorts his keyboards on this track.  “Thursday” has a great vocal line–“It’s Thursday night, let’s get it right.  I want to know you’re gonna stay for the weekend.”  It’s a catchy song with the repeats of the days: “Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday.”  I could do without the rap (by Example) which reminds me way too much of Blondie’s rap in Rapture–stiff and kind of forced.

The final song “Vocal” I find odd in the lyrics.  It’s about songs that he likes, which is fine, but the line, “every track has a vocal, and that make a change” is weird–do dance songs not have vocals anymore?  Well, how would I know, i don’t listen to a lot of dance music.  Anyhow, it’s super catchy and dancey.  I like the way it builds to the big chorus even if the song isn’t very complex.

While I enjoyed the introspective Elysium, it’s great to have a big loud Pet Shop Boys album as a return to form.

[READ: October 22, 2014] Three Early Stories

I found this book on the shelf at work.  I had no idea that a) Salinger had written so many stories that have yet to be collected (according to Wikipedia there are about a dozen) or that these three had been collected in this very strange edition.  The book collects three stories and includes illustrations by Anna Rose Yoken.  The illustrations are fine, but not worth getting the book for (and feel a bit more like a children’s book illustration than a Salinger story).  The other strange thing is that the text is only on the right side pages, so although the book is 69 pages, there’s really only about 35 pages of story.

I had never read any of these stories, so I was glad to find this book.  They were written before Catcher in the Rye, and it’s interesting to see what was on his ind before he created Holden Caufield.  These stories seem to focus on college-aged women and the way they behave.  The portraits of these women are not flattering, but they are fairly realistic.

“The Young Folks” is set at a party (I can’t believe how many cigarettes are smoked in these three stories).  At 11PM during the party, Lucille Henderson, (the college-aged host) sees that her friend Edna Phillips is by herself, still.  So she introduces her to William Jameson.  Jameson is more interested in the laughing (and presumably drunk) blond girl who is sitting amid three guys from Rutgers who are hanging on her every word.

As soon as Jameson is introduced to Edna, he starts making excuses that he should leave the party–he has a theme due on Monday.  But Edna clings to him  with conversation. She asks about his theme, she tells him about the guy who was too forward with her–she’s no prude, but come on.  She offers him cigarettes and invites him to the balcony.  He is too polite to tell her off, but he is giving major signals that she must see and is perhaps saving up as ammunition for later. (more…)

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