54-40 – Dear Dear
I have always loved this album, from the first copy I owned. Why have I bought it and sold it off several times? I don’t know, but I have yet another copy and I’ll be keeping this one.
From the opening classic blast of She-La, the slinky funky Music Man and straight into (also classic) Nice To Luv You, it becomes apparent that this is going to be one helluva 54-40 record. Lovers & Losers has always been a favourite of mine. Don’t ask me why, but I can imagine the Hip covering this one. We Are We Pretend brings back the straight-on bar rock, equally good as the radio singles. Yeah!
Apollo & Me is a great one for the classic Canadian mid-tempo slow (almost) country song, perfect for long road trips at night. And with Faithful hot on its heels, by this point in the record you are realizing you’re holding a bloody monster in your hands. This record rules! So then, it’s all about mopping up, but the band is hardly done with you yet. They bring far more of that 54-40 rawk, with Inside The Horn and You Don’t Get Away (That Easy), both easily imaginable as stand-outs in a live setting, surely.
Book eases up only slightly, a light confection but still brilliant, and album closer (and title track) Dear Dear becomes an absolutely crashingly menacing and bluesy peak before striking off onto a bit of an instrumental adventure and then, finally, morphing into a firm stomper to bring the whole show to a close. What a workout that song is.
Holy man, am I ever glad I played this again so I could review it. I realized, listening, that I’ve probably heard this album thousands of times, over the years since its release in 1992, and it’s as much a part of my life, and my picture of Canadian music in general, as any other album you can name.