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SOUNDTRACKRHEOSTATICS-Le Colisee, Quebec City QC (November 30 1996).

This is the 16th night of the 24 date Canadian Tour opening for The Tragically Hip on their Trouble At The Henhouse Tour. This is the same show that the Double Live version of Saskatchewan was taken from. It is also the show Dave wrote about in On A Cold Road.

The site has recently added a DAT version of the show in conjunction with the existing fan-recorded version (which is quite different and an interesting perspective).

The show opens with a recording of (maybe) a French-language hockey game?  I love how the opening guitars of “Saskatchewan” just start during the cheering.

Obviously this is a great version if they chose it for their live album.

It segues right into “Fat” which opens a little funky.  It runs to about seven minutes with the rocking ending being fun as usual.  “Fat” segues into a quiet and beautiful “Digital Beach” with great guitars from Martin and then, surprisingly into “Claire.”  Martin’s solo sounds very different–single notes played in a unusual (for him) style.  I like the change and it works well for the song.

Dave asks: Whats the shouting?  more shouting.  Martin: WHAT!?  (on the other recording you can hear that some guy is shouting: “Bad. Time. To. Be. Poor.”  The guy then deliberately shouts: “We came here to see you guys.”  Shame it’s not acknowledged).

Dave says, “We’re gonna do four songs in one from our new album, The Blue Hysteria.  Thanks to the whistling bats over there.”

“Four Little Songs” is goofier than usual.  And then Don, ever the salesman says “this next song is the current single from our brand new record which you can buy here at the venue.”  When they do play “Bad Time to Be Poor,” (those guys must have gone nuts), it sounds great.

Dave: “Thanks very much.  Save a bit for The Tragically Hip.  I don’t want you to….”

On “Sweet Rich, Beautiful, Mine,” Martin hits a slight wrong note before the roaring midsection which is kind of shame, but he recovers fine and the rest of the song is spot on.

A lovely “Dope Fiends” ends the show with a cool acoustic guitar and drum middle.  Martin has some fun with the “dark side of the moon” ending growling it somewhat and Dave says “By Pink Floyd.  Side two.”  Just before Martin roars his awesome guitar ending.

The song and show ends with Martin playing and then singing “You Are Very Star.”  It’s a very sweet ending.

[READ: June 2018] Start Without Me

I really enjoyed this story.  It was funny and dark and played with all kinds of twisted family portraits.

As the book opens Adam wakes up in the house he grew up in.  But in the basement.
A young child sizes him up, “Who are you?”
“I’m Adam.  Uncle Adam.”
The boy shakes his head. “My uncle’s Travis.  He lives in Texas.”
“I’m your other uncle.”
“Why are you on the couch?”

Indeed, why is it?  It is Thanksgiving.  One of his siblings or their offspring is in his old room.  They weren’t sure if he would show.

Finally it dawns on the boy, “Are you the uncle who smashed the pinata?”
“Jesus, that’s what you remember?”  Did he actually owe apologies to the kids, too? (more…)

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rapperSOUNDTRACK: SCHOOLLY D-Smoke Some Kill (1988).

schoolySince this disc is featured so prominently in Signifying Rappers (and the book is named after the best track on this disc) I thought I’d dust it off and listen to it again.  I got this disc probably in 1989 at the suggestion of my friend Al.  He recommended “No More Rock N’ Roll,” I think.

I haven’t listened to the disc in years, probably a decade.  The last time I listened, I think I wasn’t all that impressed by it, which is why it’s funny to me how much significance the book gives this disc/track.  In listening again, I felt more or less the way I did last time, although interestingly, after reading the book, I agreed that some of the tracks are pretty good.

“Signifying Rapper” in particular, seemed better after DFW’s analysis of it (he discusses it in the tradition of the trickster narrator, and I agree it’s a good one).  Although, at one point in the book DFW decries the misogyny in a lot of rap, but he doesn’t mention the homophobia.  And, despite the trickster style in this song, the homophobia is pretty outrageous (even if, in a surprising twist, the “faggot” kicks the “pimp’s” ass).  But really, the thing that upsets the pimp so much, that he went off to fight the faggot about is this rather absurdly childish set of insults:  your dad’s a faggot, your mom’s a whore, your granny’s a dyke and your brother’s a faggot too.  Now, homophobia aside, would these insults really get anyone so angry?   Hard to say.   But regardless of the whole thing, the song is set to the riff from Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” so, that’s pretty fun.

The rest of the disc is a mix of kind of lame tracks and a few good ones.  “Here We Go Again” has some great scratching on it (in fact the scratching throughout the disc is quite good), and there’s some really good background samples on “Gangster Boogie II.”  Although I think the best tracks come near the end: “Treacherous” (which samples or reinterprets Gil Scot-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Televised”) and “Black Man” which features the cool shout-out “What’s the Word?  Johannesburg!).

A few tracks are kind of flat.  “Mr Big Dick,” is, at best, silly and even the title track “Smoke Some Kill” is sort of uninspired.  What’s interesting about somewhat flat style is that this disc has come out after Public Enemy’s wall of sound changed the face of rap.  But Schoolly is sticking with the very sparse Run D.M.C. style.  The difference is that with Run, you had two vocalists, but Schoolly is by himself.  It’s just not quite as exciting.

And, then there’s the aforementioned “No More Rock N’ Roll” which is a companion to “We Don’t Rock, We Rap”.  The whole anti-rock trope rings hollow especially since he samples from it so freely.

It was still early days, but rap has progressed pretty far from this CD.  It also turns out that this disc is really hard to find.  It’s discontinued and lists on Amazon for $50.  How lucky for me!

[READ: October 2, 2009] Signifying Rappers

I wasn’t planning on reading this book this soon.  (I’m  not turning into a DFW addict, I swear).  But this showed up all because of the whims of the interlibrary loan system.  I put holds on books for people all the time, and usually it’s for new, popular books, so it’s often several weeks, sometimes months before the books come in.  I tend to forget that a 19 year old book that nobody is clamoring to read will show up in about 3 days.

So, those of you thinking about reading this book because you want to complete the DFW ouvre were probably wondering if this co-authored book should really count.  And, like, how would you know what he wrote?  Well, I didn’t immediately figure out the patently obvious system that they used in the book: When Mark Costello writes a section it is introduced with a large M.  When DFW gets a section it starts with a large D (see, obvious).   You can also tell because DFW’s section are laden with footnotes and very large words (no, really?)

I think for all readers, the main question is what are these two white, educated, twentysomethings doing writing about rap.  And, they both answer in their own way that, well, they like rap.  A lot.  In fact, DFW goes on to say that rap circa 1989 is the only musical genre that is interesting after some five years of commercial pap (and he’s pretty accurate with that, actually).  He also notes that as of their writing of the book there had been no real in-depth treatises written on rap.  Oh, and lastly, in the spirit of rap itself, they did it because they wanted to do it. (more…)

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