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Archive for the ‘Reverend Ken and the Lost Followers’ Category

lioSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-El Mocambo, Toronto ON (November 1987).

ElMo-Nov1987After 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. (more…)

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harp marchSOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Vertigo, Victoria British Columbia, (January 22, 2000).

vertigoOne of the things that I like about listening to Rheostatics live shows is that when they play a couple nights in a row, they play such different sets both nights.  In the two nights at Vertigo, they played 44 songs and only 5 of them were duplicated (all from the newest album and a song that was on the live album).  That is a fan pleasing band.

It’s hard to even say which night is better.  Night 2 had more deep cuts and yet, they’re not exactly rare tracks for them to play either.

Lucky’s notes for this one say that the band were given cell phone type gadgets and that Martin played with his throughout the show.  You can hear that as the set opens and Martin is goofing off with his.

Overall for these shows I found that the band was playing a lot of songs in a bit more mellow vibe.  It’s not the way I like to hear them, but I wonder what it was like live.  However, “King of the Past” one of my favorite songs was played too slow on this night, as was “Christopher.” And “Northern Wish” sounded quite different–it had an almost meandering quality to it. Even “Stolen Car” has a slow moody quality (which Martin agrees with).

But the band is clearly having fun.  On “Four Little Songs there’s a crazy drum solo.  And as it ends and “The Royal Albert” starts, there’s some odd guitar sounds which Martin describes as change falling in an elevator.

The stage banter is certainly fun tonight, especially the talk about Sean Brodie and ordering a pizza (which was terrible).

The final song is a great version of “Aliens.”   But before that they play a cover of Reverend Ken and the Lost Followers’ “The Midnight Ride of Red Dog Ray ” which is all about a guy who drove to Quebec when there was a beer strike in Toronto.

Here’s the original

Although I love the song choices in this set, I feel like its slowness makes me prefer the previous night’s set a little more.

[READ: March 2, 2015] “Invisible and Insidious”

Vollmann is one of the more prolific writers I know (or at least his one collection of works is over 3,000 pages).  I sort of have designs on reading his output but there’s so many other authors I like and Vollmann has so much out there that I think my best bet is to keep up with his writing when I see it and just let it go at that.

So he occasionally writes non-fiction for Harper’s.  And they are usually pretty dark and unhappy pieces about the state of the world–Vollmann is not afraid to go to dark places.  In this article he talks about living in Japan and he reminds us that not that long ago (March 2011) there was a tsunami and a huge nuclear meltdown in that country.  And how most likely we all assume it must have been fixed, since we don’t hear about it anymore.

I don’t wish to overwhelm with details–that’s Vollmann’s job.  But he does a few interesting things in Japan.  He explores locations that are off-limits (or at least in the evacuation zone) and he talks to people who live and work in these areas.  He also (of course) has a dosimeter (which I assume must be pretty common in a radiated site).

The nuclear utility that monitors the plant, TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) has issued various information over the years, although none of it seems verifiable.  In August 2013, The Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority said the leak was re-categorized from level 1(anomaly) to level 3 (a serious accident).  And the Japan Times says a the radioactivity was about 100 times more than what TEPCO had been allowing to enter the sea each year before the crisis. (more…)

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