GRAIL LIST SUCCESS! Gowan – Solo Live: No Kilt Tonight
Another intermission in the I Wanna Taranna series today because… Another Grail List item found! This has been a stellar past few weeks!
Gowan – Solo Live: No Kilt Tonight (1997)
After my last post, about the Humboldt Broncos, this post brings a breath of needed happy to things. In fact, I cannot begin to express how happy this particular find makes me, as I’ve been a Gowan fan since sometime between 1982 and 1985 when I first heard my best friend Michael’s copy of Gowan’s first cassette, and then definitely after ’85 and Strange Animal (we saw that tour)… anyway, I’ve been a fan for 30+ years, easily.
This live album is one I’ve been seeking FOREVER, to no avail. In all the record shoppes in all the towns, provinces and countries I have been in during my whole time as a collector, I have never ever seen a copy of this in the wild (else I would have bought it post-haste). And as usual, a search today reveals Amazon Canada doesn’t have any copies, and neither does Discogs. Amazon US and UK have it for streaming and in MP3 format, but no CDs…
But I came across this mint copy at work. Imagine my joy! Dutifully, I placed it on the shelves at work Monday and, as you know I must wait 48 hours before buying anything, so I agonized about it and checked on it for three full shifts (Monday it went out, Tuesday it was still there, Wednesday I had to wait til the end of my shift to get it) and it was meant to be – it was still there! Of course I immediately rescued it and have given it a loving home!
What a cool disc. Just Gowan and a piano,* mostly, in front of a very appreciative crowd. My mind kept trying to add the other instruments from the album versions, but then I relaxed into the solo piano approach to the tunes and it was just frickin’ stellar. There’s no question that the man can play!
He rocks out the hits, of course, and nails every version with aplomb. There are also a few covers, including John Lennon’s Imagine… Now, herein lies a tale… One day when I was a journalism student at college, half a lifetime ago, I was leaving the dark room after developing some photos (look up the old tech, digital kids, we actually used chemicals to make pictures, just like in the movies!), and the radio in the main room was on. I said “Who the hell is that, butchering John Lennon?” It was Gowan, and it was probably this version from this disc, probably broadcasting on the CBC. It was a tad disheartening for me at the time, as a long-time fan, but I sure didn’t dig what I heard of it then. Granted, I didn’t hear the whole thing, and there were many people and conversations in the room at the time… Hearing it now I’m alright with it, so it must just have hit me weird that day.
Also covered here, as he gives a wee tour of how he progressed on the piano, is Pathétique, Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No.8 (because he really can!) and the ragtime classic King Chanticleer’s Rag (because he really really can!). Then he grabs a 12-string acoustic guitar and tries to get the crowd to join in on Monty Python’s The Lumberjack Song (because why not!) to hilarious result before taking off on Dancing On My Own Ground…
What really comes across is the humour in the man, the between-song banter is quotably classic and gives a glimpse into how much fun everyone was having at this gig. My only complaint from the whole thing is that there was one person in the audience who must have been near a mic because their “woo!” voice was in full effect and actually cuts into most of the tracks. Seriously, asshat, shut up.
Still, not much could stop me from loving this disc. New-to-me Gowan stuff from his solo career is few and far between for me, and this Grail List item may well be my major score of the year, and it’s only April!
(You’re A) Strange Animal
The King Chanticleer Rag
The Lumberjack Song
Dancing On My Own Ground
Cry On My Shoulder
A Criminal Mind
You’ll Be With Me
*This quote from the liner notes is great: “Glenn Gould and I both studied the piano at the Royal Conservatory Of Music on Bloor St. And that’s about where our musical similarities end. Except for the fact that I’ll be playing one of his old piano’s (sic) this evening. It’s a big black Steinway that can take a good pounding and sleeps a family of fourteen.”