Category Archives: posts by aaron

The I Wanna Taranna Series Round-up Extravaganza!

Once again, thanks for Reading the I Wanna Taranna series. I had a blast listening to all of these great finds. So, as a wee final post to put a cap on a long series of album listening, here’s the whole haul! With bonus CanCon* data!

BMV

1 Ripcordz – Your Mother Wears Army Boots But Man She Looks So Cool *
2 Eric’s Trip – Forever Again *
3 Elevator – A Taste Of Complete Perspective *
4 Blue Rodeo – The Things We Left Behind *
5 Blue Rodeo – In Our Nature *
6 Portishead – Roseland Live NYC
7 Joel Plaskett Emergency – Truthfully Truthfully *
8 Chelsea Walls OMPS: Original Music By Jeff Tweedy

BMV 3-FOR-$10 DEALZ

9 Stephen Fearing – Out To Sea *
10 Danko Jones – Never Too Loud *
11 Vic Chesnutt – Silver Lake
12 Nicholas Payton – Dear Louis
13 Glueleg – Clodhopper *
14 Ron Sexsmith – Whereabouts *
15 Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up On Me
16 Ryan Adams – Rock N Roll
17 Tom Petty – She’s The One OMPS

SONIC BOOM

18 Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes
19 Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady
20 Tragically Hip – 92nd Grey Cup Commemorative CD *
21 Tragically Hip – Gift Shop *
22 Sloan – The Rest Of My Life *
23 Thee Headcoatees – Bozstik Haze
24 Nashville Pussy – Let The Eat Pussy

SONIC BOOM $3 DEALZ

25 Buck 65 – Secret House Against The World *
26 Brad – Interiors
27 Bad Religion – No Substance
28 Hives – A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T
29 Reel Big Fish – Keep Your Receipt
30 Poison – Native Tongue
31 Corb Lund – Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier! *
32 Cuff The Duke – Sidelines Of The City *
33 Frog Eyes – The Golden River *

SHE SAID BOOM!

34 Blue Rodeo – Casino 2CD *
35 Boss Hog – Boss Hog

SHE SAID BOOM! $1 DEALZ

36 Grady – Good As Dead ^
37 Buckshot Lefonque – Music Evolution
38 Sandbox – A Murder In The Glee Club *
39 Peter Elkas – Party Of One *
40 Better Than Ezra – Friction, Baby
41 Kim Mitchell – Aural Fixations *
42 Whitey Houston – Whitey Houston *

TOTAL ITEMS: 42
* TOTAL CANCON ITEMS: 22 (22/42 = 52%)

^ I thought maybe Grady would be CanCon because the players are Canadian, though they are based in Texas. Boppin says they are, like The Band, a Canadian American band, but given where they’re based they’d be American. If you think Grady is Canadian due to the nationalities of the players, then my CanCon stats are 23/42 = 55%. Adjust your score sheets accordingly.

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Bill Drives 55

This isn’t my work, but the internet had it so I’m sharing it on. Enjoy!

Whitey Houston – Whitey Houston

*I Wanna Taranna Pt. 42: She Said Boom! #9, $1 Deal #7: Whitey Houston – Whitey Houston

’Twas James who introduced me to Whitey Houston, though I don’t think I have ever owned the CD proper until now. I should have. This thing fuckin’ smokes!

I love garage rock, the louder, messier and the more unapologetic the better. This Edmonton duo’s album has it all in spades. It’s absolutely relentless and, for a two piece (Lyle Bell on bass, Gravy on drums) they make one helluva huge noise. It’s song after song after song of bashing you in the skull with huge fuzzed out bass and pounding drums. It’s like White Stripes did speed, went punk and only ever listened to the Hives, Motörhead and Nashville Pussy. I LOVED IT! 

The song you’d know is I Got Fucked By Liberty Mutual. It’s a harrowing, cautionary tale. Righteous that they put it into song! But there are a ton of other great ones here, too. I could name one or two, but then I’d have to name them all. Just get this and crank it. Go go GO!  

It also amuses me to no end that the Whitey Houston album listed on Amazon.ca carries all of the comments for Whitney Houston’s debut album with it. That’s two pretty disparate albums, I’d say… The band must love it.

***

*Announcement: This brings an end to this current I Wanna Taranna series. If you’ve read any of these posts, I thank you heartily! This Taranna trip was highly successful, I feel. I got great deals, great music, and I can’t wait to go back! In fact, I’ll be there in a couple of weeks, for the \m/  SLAYER!!!!  \m/ show, with dedicated record shopping time the following day (if we can see straight, that is). Thanks for Reading this series! Give ‘er!

   

Kim Mitchell – Aural Fixations

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 41: She Said Boom! #8, $1 Deal #6: Kim Mitchell – Aural Fixations

Yup, I got Kim’s 5th album (and first to not include help from Pye Dubois) for $1. It’s a crazy world, folks. 

So, do I need to tell you anything about this one? It’s full of that inimitable Kim sound, going back and forth between big stadium-ready rock tunes, countrified rock, gorgeous ballads, soulful excursions, the works. It’s as varied as you could ever want it to be, and none of it is even close to mediocre. 

You’ll definitely know the song America, from the radio. One review on Amazon recommended a deep cut called Flames, saying it has one of Kim’s best-ever guitar solos. A big claim! I played it and holy smokes, if it ain’t his best, it has gotta be up there, that solo was huge. Another track I dug was the bluesy, classy Pure As Gold. Hot damn, when the album was done I went back for that one again.

No one else sounds like Kim. All is as it should be. 

Fantastic stuff.

   

Better Than Ezra – Friction, Baby

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 40: She Said Boom! #7, $1 Deal #5: Better Than Ezra, Friction, Baby 

Here’s a cool story: “The album’s title comes from a television interview with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. When asked how he and Mick Jagger stayed together for so long, Keith took a long drag from his cigarette and said “friction, baby.” (Wiki)

With their third record, New Orleans’ Better Than Ezra broke huge with The King Of New Orleans. You know it, we all heard it a zillion times. The other song you may know is Desperately Wanting, and there were two other singles – Long Lost and Normal Town, but they failed to chart. 

This record is pure 90s radio rock, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Back then, I loved this stuff, and now it fills me with nostalgia and a warm sense of familiarity. It even has a hidden track, ‘Mejor de Ezra,’ buried at 3:20 of the final song. Big guitars, big bass and drums, that bounce-rock beat and even if you don’t know any of the songs, you feel like you have known them forever. 

Fun times!

Peter Elkas – Party Of One

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 39: She Said Boom! #6, $1 Deal #4: Peter Elkas – Party Of One

Y’all know that Peter Elkas* was a member of the Local Rabbits, who opened for Sloan the first time I saw them in concert (1993), which means I’ve seen this guy in concert! A looooong time ago! Anyway.

Party Of One was his first solo album after Local Rabbits stopped, and it’s a doozy. It’s musically varied, and distinct in a way I can’t quite describe except to say that it’s likely I’ve never heard another album quite like this one. It’s damn strong all over, whip-smart and tightly-written and just a ton of damn fun to listen to…

It isn’t fair to compare him to other artists, but just for reference, try Joel Plaskett, Sam Robert, Ron Sexsmith, even the Tragically Hip (the song Gone, It’s Gone reminded me of Gordie)… Canuck rawk and singer-songwriter awesomeness! 

I’d buy more Peter Elkas albums in a heartbeat.

 

 

* “Peter Elkas (born July 24, 1976 in Montreal, Quebec) is a Canadian singer-songwriter, signed to MapleMusic Recordings. He spent twelve years as part of the Montreal band Local Rabbits, with whom he started playing as a teenager. He released his first solo album, Party of One, in 2004, and has opened for such artists as Ron Sexsmith, Joel Plaskett, Feist and k-os.” (Wiki)

Bonus Super-Awesome (Drunken?) Amazon Blurb:

After ten years of work as instrumentalist and compositor in an independent group of rock the rabbits peter keep working with don Kerr for his own songs. Don, ex-productor of tle last rabbits, offers one more time services from production to drum. Peter takes guitar and microphone. Together, they enrol Doug friesen for bass and the trio composed party of one, a musical experience full of heart. They demonstrate lots of vocal and guitaristic capacity the emotions are simple pure and mature peter elkas offers there an excellent album with great texts where his own experience is considering with artlessness. Bad Reouta. 2006

Haha whut. Just… all of that… WHUT. My goodness.

sandbox – A Murder In The Glee Club

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 38: She Said Boom! #5, $1 Deal #3: sandbox – A Murder In The Glee Club

I’ll get to my impressions of this album in a moment, but first here’s Wiki and Mike!

A Murder in the Glee Club is the second album released by the now-defunct Halifax, Nova Scotia rock group Sandbox. It is a concept album revolving around the storyline of a murderer haunted by his actions. The final track of their previous album, “…and the Mood Changes” from Bionic, has a spoken word segment that is meant as a direct lead-in to this album.” (Wiki)

And you should go read MIKE’S WHOLE REVIEW, wherein he succinctly says: “Setting the scene is the title track, “A Murder in the Glee Club”; but is all what it appears to be?  The liner notes state:

“Recorded as in introduction to a play in 1932 by Freddie Corn and the Ohioans, the song has sat dormant on a shelf for the past 65 years.  Shortly after it was recorded, the production was cancelled and the song was never released or published.  The version you hear on this record is the original recording, sonically enhanced and embellished using mordern technology.”

Hmmm.

An online search for “Freddie Corn and the Ohioans” reveals only one hit: an old interview with Mike Smith from the University of Western Ontario, which is only quoting the liner notes.

I always wondered if Sandbox were trying to pull the wool over our eyes a little bit with those liner notes.  You can draw your own conclusions but “A Murder in the Glee Club” does lull you in to the concept of the album:  Altered states of consciousness and mental illness eventually lead to murder.  Then, the murderer becomes haunted by the crimes he has committed.  That “1932 recording” really sets the mood right.” Mike goes on to cover each track individually really, really well. Seriously. GO READ IT.

As for my impressions of this album? I loved it. That 90s east coast (Halifax) pop rock sound is strong and true here, so much so that I was immediately transported back to when I had a pretty steady diet of this sort of thing. Sadly, I don’t think I owned any sandbox at the time, at least not this one I’m pretty sure?, but if I had, I would have loved it! And hell, I do now love it, too. Probably my favourite was the higher energy of Melt, but the whole damn thing is good.

The concept, the strong songs, the full-on investment in their sound and concept, all of it rocks. This is so much more than Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys’ old band. These guys were the real thing, and it’s a real shame they didn’t keep making records. Maybe they would have fizzled out when interest in this sound waned eventually, but this is the sound of a band that has it going on, and I totally dug it.

Buckshot Lefonque – Music Evolution

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 37: She Said Boom! #4, $1 Deal #2: Buckshot Lefonque – Music Evolution

Buckshot LeFonque was a musical group project of Branford Marsalis. The name Buckshot LeFonque was a pseudonym used by jazz saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley for contractual reasons on the album Here Comes Louis Smith (1958). After playing with Sting, Miles Davis and other artists, Marsalis founded this band to create a new sound by merging classic jazz with rock, pop, R&B and hip-hop influences.” (Wiki)

This is a really funky, fun album covering all of the influences listed above. Guest artists include David Sanborn, Guru, and Laurence Fishburne (yup, Morpheus!), as well as (if you’re a fan of the Marsalis’ work, you’ll know) Reginald Veal, Ben Wolfe, and Delfeayo Marsalis, as well as a ton of others, all of them at the top of the game. 

I am a fan of A Tribe Called Quest, Jurassic 5, the Roots, as well as a whole ton of trip-hop bands besides, any act that adds that funky soul jazz groove to their music. Guru, Us3, St. Germain, you name it, I just love it. This record goes right onto that stack of greatness with aplomb.

Go get it!

Grady – Good As Dead

Yup, I’m a bargain hunter. She Said Boom! has bins where all the CDs are $1. Granted, many of them aren’t worth your time if you don’t like scratches or other flaws, or if you require complete packaging like booklets, but if you are willing to do some digging, you can sometimes find some treasure in amongst the majority. And me? Of course I found some goodies!

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 36: She Said Boom! #3, $1 Deal #1: Grady – Good As Dead

FUCK YEAH!

I do love Grady records. Straight up barroom bluesy rockin’, baby, yeah! Y’all know this Texas-based bunch of brawlers is made up of Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar), ‘Big’ Ben Richardson (Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Double Trouble), and a rotating cast of a few other members. For this 2009 outing, Nina Singh played drums and added backing vocals. 

What a gorgeous blues-drenched ripper this album is. Apparently folks call this Cowboy Metal, which I can also hear on tracks like Truck Stop In La Grange, a country-blues-ZZ Top excursion oh man. If you liked the heavy blues rock of Big Sugar’s Five Hundred Pounds album (as I did), you’ll absolutely love this.

Not a song here is mediocre, and they’ve got this damned sound nailed the hell down. There’s even a pummeling nasty-blues cover of the Tragically Hip’s Boots Or Hearts. 

Seriously, this record smokes.

Boss Hog – Boss Hog

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 35: She Said Boom! #2: Boss Hog – Boss Hog

Man, I owned this ass-kicker of an album back when we lived in Montreal. I honestly thought I still had my copy at the house, but consulting my list said I didn’t, so I snagged it again because I don’t ever intend to be without it again.

Being married to Jon Spencer has gotta have an affect on a lady (The blues is #1! Damn!), as much as she has an affect on him, and this album by Cristina Martinez, Spencer, Jens Jurgensen and Hollis Queens is just dripping with all the elements I love so dearly about this sort of sound. It swaggers, it’s sexy, it’s dirty, it’s funky, it’s rough. Every track is designed to piss off your neighbours as you yell along and play wicked air guitar, pretending you could be even an eighth of the cool these people exude. 

Honestly, by the time these 15 tracks (14 originals and a cover of Ike Turner’s I Idolize You) are done, you have truly been ridden hard and put down wet and all you wanna do is go around again. And again!

Blue Rodeo – Casino (2CD RM, 2012)

This is (probably) my biggest score of this Taranna trip, and it may not even have happened. We were approaching the end of the day, and were heading back to the car as parking runs out at 6. But we had about half an hour to kill, so I suggested a quick pop into She Said Boom! (always an excellent shoppe for music AND books) as I was wanting a copy of a Collected Works of William Blake (I didn’t find it and am still looking. Alas). Anyway, I also had a quick dig though the music and, you guessed it, found some treasures. Especially this one…

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 34: She Said Boom! #1: Blue Rodeo – Casino 2CD RM (2012)

First off, what do I need to tell you about the album proper of Casino? Surely you know all the here: Til I Am Myself Again (my son’s favourite Blue Rodeo song, I can hear him learning the words in the back seat of the car), What Am I Doing Here, 5 A.M. (A Love Song), Montreal, Last Laugh, Trust Yourself, Two Tongues, Time, After The Rain and You’re Everywhere. 

Seriously. Stone cold classic.

The extra meat on the bones here, as if the album proper wasn’t enough, is the second disc of this 2012 re-release (part of their 25th anniversary boxed set, Blue Rodeo 1987 – 1993). It’s a disc of demos (awesome), but it also has two previously unreleased songs! When I saw what I held in my hand, I let out a little gasp of joy and immediately clutched it to my chest so no one else would get it from me!

If I Had A Heart, a previously unreleased demo, features Greg Keelor singing for a straight-on BR rocker with elegant slower bits as only they can do it. Then it’s Always Have A Place For You, the other previously unreleased demo, and it’s Jim Cuddy’s turn to swagger in the lead of a swingin’ funky rock tune that sounds like Saturday night down in the cowboy saloon. Maybe these two didn’t fit the flow of the album proper, or something, but both of these should have / could have been album tracks. 

Then we have demo versions of Til I Am Myself Again, What Am I Doing Here, 5 A.M. (A Love Song), Montreal, Last Laugh (which has accodion in the intro instead of guitar), Trust Yourself, Two Tongues, Time, and After the Rain. Oh man. All of them sound great. I can hear differences in them (slight lyrical differences, the way things get sung/phrased musically), almost like they might do it in a concert setting now, just to keep things interesting for themselves. I will say that hearing the intro to After The Rain done with tremolo guitar instead of the piano (as it is on the album) was eye-opening. There are differences in all of the tracks, some larger than other more subtle ones, but the point is clear: this was a band nailing it no matter what approach they tried. What a band of pure players.

Finally, there are two other demos that were released on later albums, but recorded at the time of Casino. Photograph (which found a home on Five Days in July) is a much faster tilt through bluegrass with mandolin and banjo… instead of the sweet country swing of the album version. And lastly, Is It You (later found on Lost Together) is a slow, big and deep echo of a track, with Keelor’s vocals right there in your ear above the musical swells, while the album version is much sweeter with acoustic guitar and sweet steel in the background… 

Yup. This was the score of the trip. I love Blue Rodeo, and it was a real treat to get to hear Casino again, as well as all of these demos and unreleased tracks!

Robert Pollard’s 100: Aaron Is Beside Himself With Joy And Thanks

subtitled: We Need To Talk About Zack And His Awesomeness.

As You Know 1)  I am a HUGE fan of Community. I try to spend as much of my time on the KMA as I can promoting inclusion and sharing of ideas and (occasionally) the sharing of cool stuff. COMMUNITY!

As You Know 2)  Despite my not having bored you to death covering all of their releases, I am a HUGE fan of Guided By Voices, Robert Pollard, and all of their off-shoots and projects. 

As You Know 3)  Recently, I posted HERE that Pollard released a book a few months ago called 100, with only 1000 copies available worldwide. I had to have it! Except I couldn’t, because Rockathon decided that they weren’t going to ship copies outside the U.S. Gah!

And then Zack of The Audible Stew was first* to step up to the plate, folks. He jumped on it immediately, offering to order the thing to his house, then ship it to me. The whole time, he emailed me updates and status reports. Zack went WAY above and beyond throughout the entire experience, incurring personal cost by choosing to wait until we had a total for the item and both shipping charges (to him, then to me) before I sent him payment. Which had to be slightly frightening as shipping from his house to mine was rather expensive (probably the reason Rockathon didn’t want to ship this 12″x12″, 3lb hardcover book internationally). But there was more. When it arrived, the whole thing was packaged beautifully and safely in two layers of cardboard and bubble wrap. And everything done without hesitation, without request for personal gain or reward, without waiting or hassle or bother.

Seriously, Zack took COMMUNITY! to a whole other level on this one. I sincerely cannot thank him enough. 

ZAAAAACK!!

 

We’re all collectors here, I believe, so you know what I mean when I say that I’ve been collecting GBV/Pollard/related things for years, and knowing something as beautiful as this was out there but not regularly shippable to me was frustrating! To say that I am beyond thrilled to have this item (which contains all front and back cover art of the first 100 albums) in my collection is understatement of the year.

There follows a few shite photies to commemorate this thing of beauty…

So much glory.

THANK YOU, ZACK!

 

 

* Other Dear Readers also offered to try and secure a copy for me, and to all of you I say thank you so much as well!

Frog Eyes – The Golden River

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 33: Sonic Boom #16 $2.99 Deal #8: Frog Eyes – The Golden River

Whoa. This record, the band’s second, is really something! Haha wow, listening to this is a wild ride indeed, part Rheostatics, part Frank Zappa, part Tom Waits, part carnival… it’s spacey, it’s groovy, it’s unabashed, and it’s clearly on a mission to hold nothing back. 

But the final selling point for me was, gloriously, backing vocals (here and there) from my favourite boozy chanteuse, Carolyn Mark! As well as production from Tolan McNeil!

I freakin’ loved it! Not enough bands make records like this, unafraid to just go all the way out there to the edges and look down and then sing about what they saw. This 31:43 is a goddamn adventure. It is music born of late, late nights in the band room, hammering out ideas and laughing at the demons. Strap in and go for it, folks. You will be changed. 

***

Reading the internets now, I learn that this album was re-released in 2006, but check this out…

“The Golden River was re-released in 2006 with an album of bonus tracks. This album was never officially released by itself. The liner notes call this album Emboldened Navigator and the Seagull Dots. In this re-release, The Golden River is unchanged, followed by an intermission, and Emboldened Navigator And The Seagull Dots then plays. It features 23 songs (24 including the 31-second intermission). These tracks are from pre-Golden River sessions in 2001 that featured Spencer Krug on keyboards. The only songs unique to this release are ? and Spencer’s Song for Carey to Officially Sing. Tracks 14, 15 and 17 are early recordings of songs that would eventually come out on The Golden River. Tracks 13, 16, 20, and 22 were already released on the Emboldened Navigator 7. Tracks 12 and 23 were already released on The Bloody Hand. Track 21 had already been released on Sunset Rubdown’s Snake’s Got a Leg.” (wiki)

Whoa.

***

Can I also say, they’ve got the coolest song titles I’ve seen in a while…

  1. The Fruit That Ate Itself
  2. Meadows and Madames and So Forth
  3. A Latex Ice Age
  4. Picture Framing and Some Other Dark Shit
  5. American Waltz for the Good Americans
  6. One in Six Children Will Flee in Boats
  7. ?
  8. Spencers’ Song for Carey to Officially Sing
  9. I Hope My Horse Don’t Make No Sound
  10. A Song Once Mine Now No Longer Mine
  11. Shots
  12. Libertatia National Lullaby

NB: This post ends my finds at Sonic Boom for this trip. Up next, She Said Boom!…

Cuff The Duke – Sidelines Of The City

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 32: Sonic Boom #15 $2.99 Deal #8: Cuff The Duke – Sidelines Of The City

I couldn’t believe I got this great Oshawa band’s third record for so little. Seriously, this thing is worth full price and then some.

If you don’t know of this band, their sound is a sweet mix of folk, indie rock, alt-country, and blues. They use a whole pile of instruments beyond the typical guitar, drums and bass, such as brass, vibraphone, glockenspiel, Moog synthesizers, wind and Hammond organs, and lap steel (among others). It all adds up to one of the most varied, interesting and wonderful records you’re likely to hear in a long time. The instrumental sections are glorious. Heck, Jason Tait (Weakerthans) played on some songs, here: drums (2), percussion (1) and a friggin’ saw (1).

They’ve also been known to play with Hayden, Blue Rodeo, and they had a song on the Secret Sessions tribute to the Rheostatics. Moreover, I had an incomplete recollection of having seen them in concert, but not when… had they opened for Sloan, at some point?… so I asked and yup, James confirmed it, we saw them open for Sloan in Saskatoon in 2003. Neat! I don’t recall a whole lot about their set because I was focussed on Sloan, but I’m sure I enjoyed their set too! 

Seriously. This record is stellar, not a mediocre track in the bunch. If you see it, don’t hesitate! Get it!

Smashville Smashed

My son (9) and I have been following the NHL season this year, watching the highlights from as many games as we can. In the most recent round of playoffs, he was really hoping that Winnipeg would defeat Nashville and move on to play Las Vegas. In truth, so was I, because I felt Winnipeg was playing better hockey, as well as to keep a Canadian-based team in the playoffs.

This is a music site, so I won’t belabour our love of the game. As you know, I play all sorts of music in the car for the kids, wherever we go it’s a different tune and they get to hear all sorts of things. Well, a few nights ago Winnipeg did, indeed, defeat Nashville (in the 7th and final game of the series!) to move on to play against Las Vegas in the next round (which is already underway). My boy and I were pretty happy about that.

Sitting there, after watching the highlights of the win, my boy says “Hey Dad, I’ll bet Nashville is singing ‘I… Hate… Winnipeg!'” And then it clicked for me – I’d played the Weakerthans for the kids at some point, and he remembered the big payoff line from their excellent tune, One Great City.

Sometimes, you just know when you’re parenting correctly.

Corb Lund – Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 31: Sonic Boom #14 $2.99 Deal #7: Corb Lund – Horse Soldier! Horse Soldier!

Here’s Lund’s 5th album, and along for the ride are the Hurtin’ Albertans, which tells you right away that’s it’s gonna be fuckin’ awesome. It’s a cowboy good time, of course, and he tackles some historical politics as well. Why not, right? Right. Even better, he’s written about horse soldiers (natch) from the Little Big Horn to our current mounted police, and everyone in between. 

This is a hoedown, plain and true. It has four singles: I Wanna Be In The Cavalry and the title track, as well as Family Reunion and Hard On Equipment (Tool For The Job) – which show off his humour (like The Truck Got Stuck did, on an earlier record). He sing/talks, and he hits home with uncanny accuracy.

Every time I hear a Corb Lund record, I realize I need more Corb Lund records until I have them all. Simple as that. 

Poison – Native Tongue

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 30: Sonic Boom #13 $2.99 Deal #6: Poison – Native Tongue

Back in the day, I knew of Poison, of course, because everyone played Look What The Cat Dragged In and Open Up And Say… Ah! Now, I know I owned those as well as Flesh And Blood (which I remember liking best of the three), probably all on cassette, but the story of how, why or for how long I owned any of those is lost to history (at least, I can’t remember right now). At some point I also bought this album back then, but standing there in Sonic Boom during this most recent trip I couldn’t remember a goddamn thing about it. So, for $2.99, it was time once again to get in there and give ‘er!

From the tribal drum intro of the (opening) title track through to Bastard Son Of A Thousand Blues, this is pure Poison as we all know them At least, grown up quite a bit from the ealier stuff, but they can’t hide their sound. Big bluesy funky rockin’ riffs, acoustic ballads meant to lift you up or tug on your heartstrings somehow… hell, there’s even Richie’s Acoustic Thang, a show-off noodling that acts as intermission, I guess. 

The album is the first without C.C. Deville, adding Richie Kotzen instead (he didn’t last long in the band when it was discovered he was schtupping the drummer’s fiancé). It had singles in Stand, Until You Suffer Some (Fire And Ice), and Body Talk. 

You know something, I didn’t mind this record. It rocked when it should, it sounded like Poison through and through, and it was bluesier than I remembered it being. That pleased me. Sometimes I found the vocals too low, not necessarily buried in the mix, just pitched low. Other times it was fine. I don’t know if I’ll remember any of these songs tomorrow, but I enjoyed this record as I listened through.

Reel Big Fish – Keep Your Receipt

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 29: Sonic Boom #12 $2.99 Deal #5: Reel Big Fish – Keep Your Receipt

Man, back in the 90s I had a real phase of punk/ska, so naturally I loved Reel Big Fish. And you know what, I still do love ‘em! Their songs are super-smart, and they have the rocking-est horn section. Horn section! You know I’m sold!

This early EP has the single, Alternative Baby^, as well as a few other songs: Why Do All Girls Think They’re Fat?+, I’m Cool+, S.R.^, and a brilliant cover of Operation Ivy’s Unity~… with a wacky, phoned-in-sounding I Want Your Girlfriend To Be My Girlfriend+ attached as a wee hidden track. It plays more as a teaser for the full song that comes on a later album… Anyway, man, I miss the 90s’ hidden tracks.

This was a boppin’ rockin’ skankin’ great time. I owned this back in the day (no idea what happened to that copy) but I’m super-happy to get it back here now. Makes me want more Reel Big Fish again!

 

^ from Turn The Radio Off
+ from Everything Sucks
~ from 1997 tribute album Take Warning: The Songs Of Operation Ivy

Hives – A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 28: Sonic Boom #11 $2.99 Deal #4: Hives – A.K.A. I-D-I-O-T

It’s the Hives. Go go GO! Man I love this band. Everything done tastefully and at 100 mph with no apologies at all for your eardrums getting damaged. This EP, which contains stuff from other albums I already own, has all the hallmarks of greatness the band is capable of… Take the title track~, here, then play it again. And again! Woo! We also have four other tracks, including Outsmarted+, Untutored Youth, Fever^, and Mad Man^.

The US version of this EP has an extra track, a cover of the Adicts’ tune called Numbers. Of course I’d like to have that one too, but I got this for $2.99 so I’m not too bothered. I didn’t need this EP. But I did. Because Hives.

HIVES! LET’S GO, BOYS!!

 

~ from Barely Legal
+ from Veni Vidi Vicious
^ also appeared on the Your New Favourite Band compilation

Bad Religion – No Substance

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 27: Sonic Boom #10 $2.99 Deal #3: Bad Religion – No Substance

I owned this years ago, but I think it got loaned out and never returned. Gah. I hate when that happens. Finding a replacement for $2.99 made me very very happy, as I sure do love me some Bad Religion.

What do we need to know about this that we don’t already know about Bad Religion’s literate, intelligent and straight-on (inimitable) punk rocking style? It’s their tenth studio album, from 2008, and their second since Brett Guerwitz had left the band. Expectations for it were high, coming as it did on the heels of classic albums Stranger Than Fiction and The Gray Race, but it didn’t do as well as those others. Silliness, I thought it was great!

Campino (Die Toten Hosen) appears on Raise Your Voice!, which was a single, as was The Biggest Killer In American History. The lady in the cover photo is Kristen Johnston, most famous for her role on TV’s 3rd Rock From the Sun.

Seriously, it’s Bad Religion. You know what you’re getting: their signature sound and a goddamn education. Pay attention to your world! Learn new things every day! Think about things for yourself, and never, ever give up. Go go GO!

Brad – Interiors

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 26: Sonic Boom #9 $2.99 Deal #2: Brad – Interiors

This is one I always meant to own, for its Pearl Jam connections, but for some weird reason I never bought it. I’m only late by 21 years since its release. Not bad!

Recorded at Stone Gossard (Pearl Jam)’s Studio Litho (he also plays guitar all over the album), it was produced by Nick DiDia, and mixed by DiDia and Brendan O’Brien. With those two at the helm, the sound is big, bright and clear. Lovely.

The tunes rock, straight from the grunge era as it pushed towards the new millenium, but it mixes with pop and gorgeous ballads to make a lovely stew of it all. Tunes like its single, The Day Brings, with its piano-driven and bongo-supported feel-good pop drift, keep the album from being a one trick pony. That track even features Mike McCready (Pearl Jam) on guitar. The cello on Upon My Shoulders gives it lift and help it soar. Funeral Song is a fuzzed out blues with space noises, and Those Three Words is a funk dance freak out with a synth mid-section. 

Seriously, this is a great album. It’s varied and interesting and never falls into any traps of redundancy. There is beauty and creativity here. I really liked it! Shame I waited so long to get it.

Buck 65 – Secret House Against The World

Sonic Boom often sells CDs for $2.99, just to move them along. That’s fine by me! The next few posts will cover my finds at this price…

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 25: Sonic Boom #8 $2.99 Deal #1: Buck 65 – Secret House Against The World

I’m not really an afficianado on Canuck rapper Buck 65 – we’d all better ask James for more details! – but when I see an album of his for $2.99, I ain’t gonna argue.

I dug into Wiki a bit, and learned that this album contains contributions from Tortoise, Gonzales, D-Styles, and Tim Rutli, among others. The only one of those I know is Tortoise. There’s a tune called The Floor which features lyrics by Buck 65 and Charles Bukowski, so I assume he used some lines of a Bukowski poem in the tune. The album had two singles, Kennedy Killed The Hat, and Devil’s Eyes.

Buck’s talkin’ blues rappin’ is unique, for sure. When he sings, it still sounds like his talking voice, just more melodic. I liked the beats, they suit each track perfectly. I liked the instrumental parts too, it’s so all over the place. Some of it is techno, some of it country, blues, dance, punk, piano tunes, you name it. Some is even sung in French! Some of it sounds like only Buck 65 can sound. The lyrics are fascinating, holding your attention the whole time just to see what crazy-ass shit he’s gonna say next. He often uses a lot of words, but never crosses the line into too many.

It’d be easy to say this too scattered, too unfocussed, but I think that that is this album’s strength, honestly. I liked this one, and I get the feeling that further listens will reveal and reward even more.

Nashville Pussy – Let Them Eat Pussy

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 24: Sonic Boom #7 Nashville Pussy – Let Them Eat Pussy

I bought this purely for the classic Go Motherfucker Go, which is as great a use of 2:00 of your life as any other rock song you can name, but the rest turned out to be equally amazing. Nashville Pussy keeps their pure rawkin’ songs here short, tight, and jamming so goddamn hard that your stereo drips sweat and beer, and stinks of cigarettes and leather. From Snake Eyes to Fried Chicken And Coffee, this disc was a trashy straight-up fucking revelation. Also: BEWBS.

I cannot recommend this one enough. I’d say more, but I’m too busy rocking the fuck out! GET YOU SOME!

 

NB: This video is mostly SFW. I think? Probably not the kids, though…

Metallica – The $5.98 E.P. Garage Days Re-Revisited

 

Sometimes a release just tells me to buy it. I can hear it, in my head. Buuuyyyy meeee… 

I was in Sunrise the other day and was confronted with three different versions of the remastered Blackened re-release of this Metallica EP:

  1. regular CD in slim cardboard sleeve
  2. regular CD in slim cardboard sleeve in a longbox with lenticular cover (ltd. ed.)
  3. orange vinyl 12″ (ltd. ed.)

Now, I know with Metallica that “limited edition” probably means limited to a zillion copies instead of a bazillion, so I generally disregard that angle when it comes to these guys. I’ll admit that the orange vinyl was mighty tasty-looking and would be glorious to own. The least interesting to me was the standard wee slim cardboard sleeve CD version. I mean, whatever.

But some primal part of me, that ancient part of me that actually remembers the longbox releases back in the day, gravitated towards that longbox edition. Yeah, it’s still just the cardboard sleeve version inside a big dumb box, but I could hear it: buuuuyyy meeee… So of course I did. It was a few bucks more than the standard CD, which is OK seeing as how the longbox is ridiculous (and therefore pleases me greatly) and it’s limited edition (haha see above) and the lenticular cover is pretty cool (so far as it goes).

So yeah. I may still want the orange vinyl. But the longbox tickles me and I’m cool with that.

Thee Headcoatees – Bozstik Haze

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 23: Sonic Boom #6 Thee Headcoatees – Bozstik Haze

Holly Golightly. Kyra Rubella. Ludella Black. Bongo Debbie.

Chums of Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats, straight out of Medway.

Pure fuzzy garage rawk heaven and 60s-feel charm, unabashed banging and crashing.

It swaggers, it swings, and it will never apologize for the way it is.

There’s even a cover of I Want Candy.

The whole thing is sexy as hell, and dangerous to boot. 

This disc fucking rocks. 

Sloan – The Rest Of My Life

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 22: Sonic Boom #5 Sloan – The Rest Of My Life Promo CD

OK, you all know I love Sloan. So, same as with the past two days’ Tragically Hip posts, wherein I paid a lot for songs I already owned, this Sloan post is no different. Yup, this is a one track (album version) single for The Rest Of My Life, the brilliant single from 2003’s Action Pact. James and I saw Sloan on this tour, and we even met Chris Murphy after the show.* 

Anyway, this one was priced at $7.99, but there is no track listing on the back cover to say whether it had any other tracks on it or not. I had the Sonic Boom Man open up the anti-theft casing and we looked and it was just the one track. He felt a bit bad charging $8 for one song, so he knocked it down to $5.99. Thank you, helpful Sonic Boom Man! Another instant purchase because Sloan. And Discogs, at the time of this writing, only has one copy available, for just over $15 CAD, so it’s all fine by me!

I have one more story about this song, which I’ve already told in my tale of seeing Sloan in Meaford in 2011. I was the only one on my feet for the gig (it was a weird show, with the whole crowd sitting throughout), and while they were playing this song and they got to the (now-classic) line “one thing I know about the rest of my life / I know that I’ll be living it in Canada!” Chris Murphy looked right at me (how could he not as I was the only one dancing) and smiled a big grin at me and for that couple of seconds we both knew the truth of that line, and the power of this song (and Sloan in general). Proud Canucks, eh!

Here, give the track a spin. Listen to the words. Think about it! Crank it!

 

* Holy crap am I ever skinny in that picture. That was a few weeks after my wedding to my lovely wife. Jeez that was 15 years and a lot of pounds ago. Hm. I know I could stand to lose a few, but I’m sure I wouldn’t wanna go back to quite that skinny again!

Tragically Hip – Gift Shop

First off, May The Fourth Be With You! I’m sure you’re sick of hearing that today, but I couldn’t resist.

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 21: Sonic Boom #4 Tragically Hip – Gift Shop

If you thought yesterday’s post, wherein I admitted to paying $5.99 for two songs I already owned proved me silly, wait til you hear about this one today. Yup, on this one I paid the same for one track! The album version I already own, as well. Why, Aaron? Why??? The answer is always the same: because Tragically Hip. Pure love. And I don’t feel so bad, as Discogs at the time of this writing says copies are $25-$50 CAD. For one song, and an album track at that! True story!

Now, you’re thinking this is getting out of hand. It totally is, and it’s totally cool. I understand. But don’t you have a band you collect no matter what? A band that, for every time you see a release of theirs you don’t have, you buy it without question, just to have it in the collection? For me, that’s the Hip… And many other bands but I have a serious problem and that’s besides the point and stritly between me and the therapist I ought to be seeing…

Gift Shop is a track from the venerable Trouble At The Henhouse album (1996). I was fortunate enough to see the Hip in concert when Henhouse was their latest release, and the show was completely amazing. Of course. And this song itself? Glorious. 

See for yourself!

 

Tragically Hip – 92nd Grey Cup Commemorative CD

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 20: Sonic Boom #3 Tragically Hip – 92nd Commemorative Grey Cup Promo CD

This 2-track CD was priced the same as other regularly-priced used discs ($5.99), but I grabbed it straight away. Why would I pay so much for two tracks? And what’s more, two tracks that I already have? Because I love Tragically Hip, have done since 1989. No questions asked. I’m sure you understand. At the time of this writing, copies on Discogs range about $10-$25, so it’s all good. 

Released (obviously) in conjunction with the Hip’s performance at the 92nd Grey Cup game (2004), we get two songs here: 

1. Gus: The Polar Bear From Central Park
2. Goodnight Josephine

Both of these tracks are the same versions as found on the brilliant 2004 Hip album entitled In Between Evolution. As I’m sure you know, “Gus…” is a slow, bluesy chugger that swaggers and sways and would surely be amazing in a live setting. Goodnight Josephine is the last track on IBE, and is a solid, straight-on Hip rocker. Goodnight, indeed!

I don’t know how many copies of this were released, or even if it’s truly collectible or whatever. I don’t care. I wanted it because Tragically Hip. Full stop.

Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 19: Sonic Boom #2 Charles Mingus – The Black Saint And The Sinner Lady

A no-brainer purchase, this used copy finds a very welcome home in my collection.

Now, do I really need to tell you about Mingus? No, probably not. Suffice it to say this record is absolute fucking genius. I played it twice through, one time right after the other, and when I was done I was six inches taller and I could spit forty feet. True story.*

If you’re a details-oriented person, here ya go: this album “consists of a single continuous composition – partially written as a ballet – divided into four tracks and six movements.” (wiki). Cool! Further: “The album was recorded on January 20, 1963 by an eleven-piece band. Mingus has called the album’s orchestral style “ethnic folk-dance music”. Mingus’s perfectionism led to extensive use of studio overdubbing techniques. The album features liner notes written by Mingus and his then-psychotherapist, Edmund Pollock. The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is often characterized by jazz and music critics as one of Mingus’s two major masterworks (the other being Mingus Ah Um) and has frequently ranked highly on lists of the best albums of all time.”

Simply put, the fact that I am adding it to my collection only now, despite having heard other folks’ copies over the years, is so remiss that I have already turned in my Cool Cat Card and forfeited any and all street cred earned over years of jazz listening.

To coninue the album’s awesomeness, all tracks have subtitles. Check it out:

No. Title Subtitle Length
1. “Track A – Solo Dancer” “Stop! Look! And Listen, Sinner Jim Whitney!” 6:39
2. “Track B – Duet Solo Dancers” “Hearts’ Beat and Shades in Physical Embraces” 6:45
3. “Track C – Group Dancers” “(Soul Fusion) Freewoman and Oh, This Freedom’s Slave Cries” 7:22
4. “Mode D – Trio and Group Dancers”

“Mode E – Single Solos and Group Dance”

“Mode F – Group and Solo Dance”

“Stop! Look! And Sing Songs of Revolutions!”

“Saint and Sinner Join in Merriment on Battle Front”

“Of Love, Pain, and Passioned Revolt, then Farewell, My Beloved, ’til It’s Freedom Day”

18:39
Total length: 39:25

 

In Sum:

Everything about this album loudly proclaims true creativity, absolute mastery, unabashed audacity, and pure musical athleticism. It’s visceral, punchy, sometimes crazy, and always gorgeous. 

Mingus. Masterpiece. GO!

 

* Truth of this true story technically unverified but still, why ruin the magic when something sounds this cool, right?

Greg Keelor – Last Winter

While I’m still in the middle of going through all my finds from my most recent Taranna trip, I’m listening to other great stuff too, so I’ll occasionally slip in a few posts about these extra releases… Like this one!

I picked up this new release EP at our local Sunrise this week for a paltry $6.99. After I was done hearing it, I knew it to be worth way more than mere dollars. This is a gem. 

Greg Keelor has been progressively losing his hearing for a long while now. For anyone, it’s horrible. For a career musician, it’s that much worse. During his recent period of recuperation, he pieced together the four songs on this gorgeous EP. All of the songs here are clearly meditations on life, and aging, and change, and how things go no matter what you try to do to control it.

Gord’s Tune is a beautiful homage to the Tragically Hip’s Gord Downie, who passed away last October of brain cancer. City Is A Symphony focuses on his own hearing loss, and what that means to his life going forward. Early In The Morning is Keelor’s cover of the old blues tune (also previously recorded by Peter, Paul and Mary). And 3 Coffins is even more personal, looking at his search for, and recent passing of, his birth mother. 

Jimmy Bowskill plays his heart and soul into this record with his guitar. Other musicians here include Aaron Hoffman and Shamus Currie (piano and Hammond organ), Ian McKeown (bass and drums), Daniel Neill (drums), James McKenty (synth) and Ashley Moffat (backing vocals).

The internet tells me that this project all started, for Greg, at one of the final Tragically Hip shows ever, where Keelor was standing in the hallway backstage listening to the show (because being out front would be too loud). I have to say, anything Greg Kellor creates that was inspired by the Tragically Hip in any way is definitely fine by me.

I cannot recommend this deeply personal, beautiful EP enough. Get yours now!

Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 18: Sonic Boom #1 Thom Yorke – Tomorrow’s Modern Boxes

Honestly, I shouldn’t like Thom Yorke’s solo stuff (or most of radiohead since the first few efforts, either). I don’t usually go out for blips and bleeps and electronic jiggery pokery. For some reason, though, I find these things oddly captivating as exceptions to the rule.

I’d never seen a copy of this in the wild anywhere before, and this was a brand new copy – one of the only discs on this trip for which I paid full price (I believe it was $16.99, something like that). I already own The Eraser, so this was a fairly easy addition to the collection. Also (of course) Nigel Godrich produces here, and Stanley Donwood did the artwork. So. Let’s see what it holds!

Straight off, I threw this on as I was cleaning up late one night, with the volume low as the kids were asleep, and the album just disappeared. All I heard as I moved around was the repeating bass lines and the electronic drums and the moan of his vocals without making out the words. Unimpressed, for a second spin I threw on the good headphones and was rewarded with much more clarity and all the little things this album holds that I’d missed in using it as background music. Clearly, this is one that requires more of your attention.

At only 8 tracks, it may seem short, but there’s enough packed into those few tracks to make it full. Besides, I don’t think I could take 15 tracks of this stuff in one sitting, so I was grateful that he knew when (and how) to speak eloquently, and when to shut the hell up. 

To me this sounds like someone (if you can imagine a sound doing this) suffering some form of anxiety and possibly even agoraphobia, shut in and relieved to be introverted, solitarily expressing themselves in the most beautiful ways with moments of clarity and calm so strong as to bely what afflicts them. So much so, in fact, that one could be lead to believe that there is an easing of tensions, a lifting and a movement towards feeling better. 

This record is, for lack of a stated mandate, a journey. Yes, the skittery beats and washing synths and textures are here. Yes, Jonny Greenwood appears on one track. Yes, it’s dark, slow and creepy at times, energetic at others, but it’s always stark and beautiful and engaging, and always moving forward. 

You’d have to be a Yorke fan to dig this, I figure, but I am one, and this record hasn’t changed that for me. I get the feeling that it will continue to grow on me more and more with subsequent listens and that’s a gift in itself.

Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers – She’s The One OMPS

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 17: BMV #17 (3-For-$10 #9) Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers – She’s The One OMPS

First off, I am shocked that it seems [after minimal (lazy) searching of the KMA archives] that I have not reviewed this CD before. This is an oversiiiiight and I am remiss. Because this album? I LOVE IT.

Second off, I didn’t need to buy this disc. I already owned it! But for some dumb reason it wasn’t in the list I carry on my phone, and when I saw it in the 3-for-$10 bin I panicked and wondered what happened to my copy so I bought it anyway. I found my old copy when I got home, so it’s time to update that damn list! I couldn’t imagine I’d have ever gotten rid of this album anyway, but I had to be sure.

So now I have two copies of one of my all-time favourite Tom Petty efforts (another is Wildflowers, which plays a role in a moment… read on). But Aaron, you say, it’s just a movie soundtrack. The man had SO MUCH great stuff! So many classic albums and tunes! Why this? True, every word… Simply, the songs on here hit me just right every time and I love it completely.

Recorded for the 1996 film of the same name, We have two interesting different versions of both Walls [Walls (Circus) and Walls (No.3)*] and Angel Dream [Angel Dream (No.4) and Angel Dream (No.2)], as well as covers of Beck’s great tune Asshole, and Lucinda Williams’ brilliant Change The Locks. The whole album of songs is spacey, trippy, and bloody goddamn gorgeous. It feels like you’re right there with them in the room, and it’s so warm and enveloping and real that you just can’t help but get swept away in it all.

Interestingly, this soundtrack also contains songs that were recorded for Wildflowers (see, I promised!), but were included here instead. Maddeningly, when they re-released all of Petty’s catalog in high-res audio in 2015, this album and Wildflowers were the only two they did NOT reissue. Gah. 

So for personnel we have Tom Petty, Mike Campbell, Howie Epstein and Benmont Tench. You may recognize a few other names who played on songs for this record: Ringo Starr, George Harrison, Lindsey Buckingham, and Steve Ferrone. To name a few. 

Seriously folks, this is one of my favourite Petty albums, top to bottom. And now I own two copies!

Also: This post concludes coverage for all of my finds from BMV during this I Wanna Taranna trip. Thank you once again, BMV! Up next: Sonic Boom!

 

* Walls (No.3) was also included in the Tom Hanks comedy Larry Crowne.

My New Hip Jersey

Words fail me when I try to describe my joy and thrill at finding this beautiful Tragically Hip hockey jersey today. It was an instant purchase, naturally. It’s an XXL which wears much too big on me… I suppose if I ever had hockey pads under it, it’d fit great… but I couldn’t care less. I love it completely!

Hip jersey? Check. Timmy’s go cup cupface? Check. An actual Canadian (with bonus raised eyebrow)? Check. Dear Readers, we have achieved Canuck selfie gold.

Ryan Adams – Rock N Roll

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 16: BMV #16 (3-For-$10 #8) Ryan Adams – Rock N Roll

Ryan Adams is another artist that I buy whenever I see him, especially in a 3-for-$10 situation!

I found this interesting (from Amazon):

“Enjoyment of Rock N Roll–Ryan Adams’ follow up to his alt-country hit, Gold–is largely dependant on both your approach to it and your knowledge of rock’s rich history. There’s definitely plenty to enjoy, if you look in the right places and don’t focus so much on others. If you know zilch about music, but love gritty, rough and ready rock with big, fat slices of tunes, crunching guitars and attitude, then this will make you growl. If you loved Gold, but secretly hoped something rockier would emerge after Adams’s much publicised socialising with the Strokes and tribute-paying to Noel Gallagher, then this may be your record of the year. However, if you know your stuff, then you may feel uneasy. Not disappointed, but a little cheated. Why? Because, internal record-company politics and artistic tantrums aside, this is more Ryan Adams “In the Style of…” than anything else. For instance, “This Is It” sounds exactly like a Strokes song would sound, “Shallow” is Definitely Maybe-era Oasis (even down to the stolen T-Rex riff) and “So Alive” is 1980s U2.

That isn’t to say the songs aren’t anything short of fantastic (especially the almost ethereal, emotional “So Alive” (“Today I watched the boats / Moving through the harbour / Walking on water / In your arms I stay”)–great melodies, great guitar work. But you have to wonder, why. Thinking about that can only diminish enjoyment. It’s not his best work, but still damn good dirty fun. –Cortman Virtue”

I can totally hear what Virtue means, but I think maybe I’m a little more forgiving. Adams worked at such a prolific pace for so long, this probably had to happen at the point it did. At least he put it all on one record instead of spreading it out over several. 

You see, other reviewers pointed out (rightly) that the problem is expectations. This album followed Heartbreaker and Gold, which some consider to be some of his best post-Whiskeytown work. But what was lacking, then, was perspective. Adams has been so all over the place (and so consistently good) for so long now that it’s easy to look back at 2003 and know that this was him just getting his rock on, as much as it was nodding to several of his favourites. 

I dug it, and it adds to the pile of Adams awesome. Crank it and let the music take you.

Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up On Me

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 15: BMV #15 (3-For-$10 #7) Solomon Burke – Don’t Give Up On Me

I was shocked to see this gem in the 3-for-$10 bin. I mean, seriously! This is gold!

First off, I want to thank ANTI/Fat Possum for making this record happen. This thing was produced live in the studio by Joe Henry. And that voice… oh my, that VOICE! So soulful, so great.

I’ll just give you the list of collection of new and unreleased songs by major artists, and the guest appearances on those tracks, and where some of them appeared in popular culture, and then you can get out there and get your own copy of this album post-haste. Check it:

Don’t Give Up On Me (Penn, Whitsett, Lindsey) %
Fast Train (Van Morrison) +
Diamond In Your Mind (Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan)
Flesh And Blood (Joe Henry)
Soul Searchin’ (Brian Wilson, Andy Paley)
Only A Dream (Van Morrison)
The Judgement (Elvis Costello, Cait O’Riordan)
Stepchild (Bob Dylan) ~
The Other Side Of The Coin (Nick Lowe)
None Of Us Are Free (Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Brenda Russell) ^*
Sit This One Out (Pick Purnell)

% appeared in the TV series The O.C.+ appeared on the TV series The Wire
~ f. Daniel Lanois
^ f. The Blind Boys Of Alabama
* appeared in the TV series House

Are you still here? Seriously, this is gorgeous stuff. Go get you some!

Ron Sexsmith – Whereabouts

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 14: BMV #14 (3-For-$10 #6) Ron Sexsmith – Whereabouts

You know, Ron Sexsmith is one of those guys you tel lyourself that you should listen to more often, and you think you’ll get around to it, but then it takes you a long while to get to him. But then, when you do, you wish you hadn’t waited so long. He’s absolutely great!

Every Sexsmith album I’ve heard is it’s own little world, a place you can go to listen and forget about the world around you and all of the problems in your day can just go on Pause until you’re done listening. And when you go back to the world, you have a better, more comfortable, more conscientious and careful point of view on everything. Sexsmith’s songs make you stronger, smarter, and calmer. It’s amazing and true!

This album, his third major label effort, delivers on all of that I just noted, of course. It’s pop music, to be sure, but it’s so hauntingly real and you get such a connection with him and his band that it feels like a helluva lot more than pop music. This has soul, a life of its own, a somehow familiar feel to all of it, even if you haven’t ever heard him before. 

I’ve heard some people say Sexsmith is boring, or depressing, and maybe if it was a rainy day and you were just letting the afternoon come at you through your window, I could see how it’d soundtrack that pretty well. But even for that I can’t fully agree and pigeon-hole this at all. This is beautiful stuff. Essential. 

We All Know That There Are Times When Being A Collector Gets Tougher

Y’all know I love Guided By Voices, and all of its side projects, and all of the books and art work and whatever else Robert Pollard and his band of merry reprobates have released over these decades. It’s my mission to collect as much as I can… within my means, because there’s just SO MUCH of it and some of it is now super-dear. Anyway, I have a bunch of it and am always looking for more.

Back around Christmas sometime or so, Rockathon (a place to buy many Pollard-y things) released 100,  a beautiful hardcover book collecting all 100 album covers and back covers. It looks awesome. It’s $50 USD, which for me (today) is just over $64 CDN. So, like everything else Pollard-related, I ordered one, right?

Nope. And not for lack of wanting too… simply put: I can’t. They will not ship that item outside of the US. Not even to their dear neighbours to the north, the hockey-loving sweethearts of Canadialand. No reason was given for this shipping prohibition, though I assume it’s because it’s (likely) a big heavy book and they didn’t want to crush international people with shipping costs… Case in point: I just ordered the new EAT magazine (volume 14) from Rockathon this week. It was $10 USD. Reasonable! However, shipping was almost $17 USD. So yeah, even that is an expensive cheap book, but I own volumes 1 – 13 and I’m not gonna stop now!

So, I can’t get the 100 book. There are only 1000 copies in the world, too, so the chances of finding one used somewhere are gonna be slim to none. Unless there are any US-resident Dear Readers who wanna help a brother out (with full recompense for all expenses and whatever else incurred), this is another Pollard item beyond my reach. Hence the title of this post.

Glueleg – Clodhopper

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 13: BMV #13 (3-For-$10 #5) Glueleg – Clodhopper

1994’s Heroic Doses was the album I knew better, But songs from 1997’s Clodhopper were probably what they were touring when we saw them play at Edenfest. So, this band as a live act? Kick ass. And how does Clodhopper sound?

Totally 90s, of course, and in all the best ways. Heavy, progressive, sometimes bluesy, rap-rock, more often grunge-y hard rock, but always visceral and right there in your face. Think Jane’s Addiction, Alice In Chains, rage against the machine and Soundgarden (and maybe Helmet sometimes, with some Ministry-like electronics occasionally) having a love child and naming it Glueleg… BUT WITH A HORN SECTION. Have I ever told you about how I love horn sections? Haha of course I have. That Glueleg has a horn section on some tracks pleases me to no end. It takes what could have been typical for the era and makes it a whole new ball game. 

There were two singles off this one, album lead-off track Pistons, and buried at track 9 was Dragonfly. I remember them both and they only begin to sum up the band’s sound. Really, you have to hear the whole thing to get a sense of how far (and ably) they ranged across this sound they created.

I don’t think Glueleg ever achieved the notoriety and success that they obviously should have, and that’s a damn shame. They were really on to something.

Nicholas Payton – Dear Louis

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 12: BMV #12 (3-For-$10 #4) Nicholas Payton – Dear Louis 

I’ve loved Armstrong longer than I could put a year reference on it, and Payton is one of the new generation of players I admire, so this was a natural for me to grab as a part of the 3-for-$10 deal. Even more so because I saw another copy of it in the regular jazz section for a few dollars more. Sweet find!

And as you can probably imagine, these run-throughs of Armstrong tunes are truly great, but if you’re expecting simply straight renditions of the originals, you won’t find them here. Payton has an 11-piece swing band offer arrangements that imbue these tracks with an energy and difference that makes them sound new again. There are so many solos from all the players that improv class is in session full-time, too! He has guest performers (Dr. John, Dianne Reeves) along too, and several of the songs go for Latin rhythms, which might be off-putting to purists but which I found completely refreshing and compelling. Opinions online seem divided on this one, with some even outright hating on it, but for me it was a fun, liberating and excellent disc. For those who hated on it (online), not every tribute has to do note-perfect renditions. Louis already made those versions you know so well, and Payton smartly avoided the trap of recreating them here. 

Vic Chesnutt – Silver Lake

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 11: BMV #11 (3-For-$10 #3) Vic Chesnutt – Silver Lake

I love Vic Chesnutt records. If I had to describe him work in one word, I’d say ‘real.’ He tells it like it is, and everything he does just soars and retains its humanity through humour, pain, anger, confusion, whatever else he imbues into his songs. 

Chesnutt spent his life since a 1983 car accident in a wheelchair with limited use of his hands. Yet he made 17 albums (two were produced by Michael Stipe), made many appearances and duets, and achieved acclaim. His songs were covered on the 1996 compilation Sweet Relief II: Gravity Of The Situation (proceeds to the Sweet Relief fund), and he even had a role in Sling Blade. “His musical style has been described by Bryan Carroll of allmusic.com as a “skewed, refracted version of Americana that is haunting, funny, poignant, and occasionally mystical, usually all at once”.

As for this 2003 album, simply put, it’s song after song of great storytelling and riveting songs. Even tracks like Girls Say, which I found a bit hard to listen to because it’s not too nice to the ladies, still comes from an honest place somewhere in his own experience. I found this blurb on Amazon and it says a bunch:

Count on two things: Vic Chesnutt will approach any topic, from the delicate to the mundane, from an unexpected angle. And with an incisive eye and razor wit, he will always cut straight to the heart of the matter. He does so to great effect on Silver Lake, giving equal weight to the tender affirmation of “In My Way, Yes” and the scathing self-critique of “Styrofoam,” and applying his delightfully odd spin to the standard love story on both “Band Camp” (a funny, nostalgic tale of romance in the high school horn section) and the Brian Wilson homage “Fa-La-La” (a saga of unanswered longing that’s set in a hospital). Chesnutt’s idiosyncratic quaver and nylon-string strum are abetted throughout by generous rock and soul arrangements, all of which were pristinely recorded by Daniel Lanois protege Mark Howard (who also produced Lucinda Williams’s World Without Tears). Top to bottom, this may be Chesnutt’s best effort since his 1996 disc About to Choke. –Anders Smith Lindall

Chesnutt died in 2009, and the music world lost a genuine light. I can’t recommend this album enough.

Danko Jones – Never Too Loud

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 10: BMV #10 (3-For-$10 #2) Danko Jones – Never Too Loud

Straight up awesome, I scored this Danko Jones album (their 4th), which had three singles: Code Of The Road, Take Me Home and King Of Magazines. 

It’s a Danko Jones album, so if you know him already you know: it fucking ROCKS, and it is unapologetic about that. It’s big, loud, bluesy groovy and full-on rawk, just like every other Danko Jones album. The sound is perfectly recorded, and it sounds like every song (all 11 of them) should be on rock radio. 

Put it in, turn it up, and rip your best air guitar moves! Go go GO!

Stephen Fearing – Out To Sea

Surely I’ve mentioned before that BMV has a fantastic selection of CDs in their 3-For-$10 section. Of course I always find treasures in there, so the next several posts will cover what I got at a deal during this most recent trip…

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 9: BMV #9 (3-For-$10 #1) Stephen Fearing – Out To Sea

Stephen Fearing is a Canadian folk singer, but I always loved him first as one of the founding members of Blackie And The Rodeo Kings (with Colin Linden and Tom Wilson). We saw those three dudes once, doing a free artists’ workshop during the Regina Folk Festival. Fascinating stuff.

This is Fearing’s first solo record (1988), and it’s a doozy. The title track is a busy, jazzy effort right off the top and it serves notice that you are the presence of a master songwriter. As the album winds on, we roll through a down east jig (or reel? Sometimes I can never tell), beautiful guitar instrumentals, and enough acoustic guitar singer-songwritery stuff and truly virtuoso guitar playing to fill your listening session with greatness. I wanted to say there was a celtic feel to a lot of what he does, and in looking him up I discovered he was born in Vancouver but raised in Dublin, Ireland, so that might play a wee role in his sound and approach.

Fearing’s voice is, on this effort, clear and strong and, in its own way, just that wee bit slightly gravely. It’s a warm hug that draws you in and compels you to listen. The production here is perfect, with big and rich bottom ends supporting those glorious top end efforts. Overall it has a live feel to it, so rich and full… It reminds me, honestly, of what we might have heard at the Knox Acoustic Café that our friends Irwin and Susan used to run here in town. This would have fit right in – and man would we have been so lucky to get Fearing and these players with him for an evening in that venue!

Great stuff. Check it out, and you can thank me later.

Chelsea Walls – Original Music By Jeff Tweedy

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 8: BMV #8 Chelsea Walls – Original Music By Jeff Tweedy

I am a simple man. I see Jeff Tweedy, I purchase!

Now, I remember disliking Ethan Hawke’s film, though it was years ago that we saw it. I can’t even tell you now why I didn’t like it, just that I didn’t. Great story, Aaron! Still, it had a stellar cast so one would think I’d have found things to like about it, but there you go.

Of course I’m not here to talk about the movie, though I imagine the film and the music are inextricably tied together. Plugging in this CD independently, though, I am met with instrumental sound explorations, some playing with feedback and screeching guitars, or bluesy drones, over top of (I have to say) a fantastic bottom end (try it in the good headphones!). Some are piano meditations over brushes on cymbals. The score tracks are moody, interesting, definitely listenable.

The whole band of Wilco appears twice here, once as Wilco (on Promising, original to this soundtrack), and once from the Billy Bragg & Wilco sessions – the beautiful When The Roses Bloom Again which, near as I can tell, is only available on the third CD of the 3CD/DVD Mermaid Avenue Sessions boxed set, as it doesn’t appear on either Mermaid Avenue I or II. I guess, then, that was a rarity on this soundtrack, as the boxed set didn’t drop until about 12 years after Vol. I and II, and this soundtrack too. Anyway.

Making an appearance here is Jimmy Scott, the jazz vocalist (check him out) on a beautiful cover of John Lennon’s Jealous Guy. Also, Robert Sean Leonard duets with Steve Zahn on one track, the roughly demo-recorded version of Wilco’s The Lonely 1 (from Being There), and then he leads on another, the gospel tune Softly And Tenderly Jesus Is Calling. Actors singing can be hit or miss, but these aren’t too bad.

In all, this was a decent CD. It’s atmospheric and, as I said, probably tied tightly to what goes on in the film. Maybe I need to see the flick again, see if I agree with my past self’s negative assessment. The music, though, I liked it.

Joel Plaskett Emergency – Truthfully Truthfully

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 7: BMV #7 Joel Plaskett Emergency – Truthfully Truthfully

Holy crap this record is SO GOOD.

I always think I don’t listen to enough Joel Plaskett. I’m right, of course, and this album is proof. It’s AMAZING! Pure rock and roll in that big guitar rock hero kind of way, while Work Out Fine channels the Clash, and yet there’s also gentler introspective-style tunes thrown in, to round out the experience. Smart arrangements of smart songs and perfect execution throughout the whole thing. And there’s still something East Coast about the feel and sound, which is probably a dumb thing to say (it’s his third record after he left Thrush Hermit), but I still hear songs like these in my mind as great co-headliners with Sloan in some glorious concert mash-up heaven.

This is great road trip music. This is great late-night headphones music. This is great music, full stop.

I still need to listen to more Plaskett. This guy’s brilliant. 

Straight up, this is one of my major scores from this Taranna trip.

Portishead – Roseland NYC Live

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 6 BMV #6 Portishead – Roseland NYC Live

I sure do love me some Portishead. So, a live album with an orchestra? That’s a natural… Yes please! In all honesty, this is one I’ve meant to pick up for ages, so this time it was meant to be.

Now, if I read this all correctly (below), the CD is recorded at different dates, while the DVD is all from the Roseland. Why they named it Roseland if it wasn’t all from the Roseland (on the CD) is beyond me. Do I care, though? Nope.

Here are the details:

“Although the New York Philharmonic is credited as appearing in the video, none of the musicians are members of the Philharmonic, nor is the Philharmonic credited in the audio album.

Unlike the CD, all the tracks on the DVD were recorded at the Roseland Ballroom. The DVD version has a bonus elements section, containing the music videos for “Numb”, “Sour Times”, “All Mine”, “Over” and “Only You”, as well as short films “Road Trip” and “Wandering Star” and the Portishead movie To Kill a Dead Man.””(Wiki)

And how does it sound? Exactly as you’d expect – the orchestra fills out the sound, adding so many more layers to the songs. The arrangements are stellar, and with the turntable work of Andy Smith, it’s old Portishead made new again. 

Me, I loved it. Listening to Portishead always reminds me that is great beauty and power in slowing down, taking care and deliberation in things. Plug this one in and get your smooth groove on. Hell yeah.

Tracks:

Humming
Cowboys
All Mine
Mysterons
Only You
Half Day Closing
Over
Glory Box
Sour Times
Roads
Strangers

Lose Yourself

Someone posted this online, I’m just sharing ‘cos I thought it was fascinating.

Eminem’s working lyric sheet for Lose Yourself:

Blue Rodeo – In Our Nature

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 5 BMV #5 Blue Rodeo – In Our Nature

Four years after the stellar The Things We Left Behind double album, Blue Rodeo graces us next with their 13th studio album, In Our Nature. As you can guess, I think it’s fantastic!

I stole this from the Amazons, because it pretty much covers it:

In Our Nature was produced by Blue Rodeo, primarily at Greg Keelor’s farm studio. While at Keelor’s farm, the band had each musician set up and perform in separate rooms around the house giving the record a very warm and communal character. 

“Recording at Greg’s farm was key to the groove of this record,” says Jim Cuddy. “I was a little unsure at the beginning whether it was a good idea to encamp at Greg’s as we have a great studio in downtown Toronto. But by the time we got comfortable at Greg’s, after a few days, it was obvious that being in his farmhouse and being surrounded by the great outdoors was having such a positive effect on the collective spirit. It was very unifying.” 

“Doing a lot of touring while making this record helped a lot,” says Greg Keelor. “Everybody was getting along and the band was playing well together. I think it’s a good crop of songs and everyone just played it right and they played it beautifully.””

What else can I add? Another stellar effort perfectly realized, and proof positive that this band always delivers. Song after song envelopes you, pulls you deep into the pocket with the band, and holds you there so you have no intention of ever leaving. In other words, another perfect Blue Rodeo album. Thanks, boys!

Brian Knight – A Dark Horse

 

A while back, I got an email from Boppin, sharing a new LP he’d got. I saw the list of players and knew I had to have a copy too, so not long after, my own copy arrived at the KMA’s Eastern offices. Time passed. We discussed doing simultaneous reviews on our sites the same day, always an idea I love. More time passed without this dual posting. But here we are today, finally with our act together and rarin’ to go! 

Before you read whatever I have to say on this, GO READ BOPPIN’S POST ON THIS ALBUM!

***

First, the players.

– Brian Knight [vox, slide, harp] [bio bit at bottom of post]
– Geoff Bradford [Long John Baldry, Alexis Korner, etc]
– Peter Green [Fleetwood Mac, etc]
– Charlie Hart [just about everybody, it seems]
– Dick Heckstall-Smith [just about everybody, it seems]
– Ian Stewart [pianist for some band out of England]
– Art Theman [Jack Bruce, Alexis Korner, etc] [also: orthopaedic surgeon]
– Geraint Watkins [Nick Lowe, Van Morrison, Mark Knopfler, Paul McCartney, etc]
– Charlie Watts [drumer for some band out of England]

Other performers: Chris Tulloch, Dana Gillespie, Dave Farrell, Ed Deane, Geoff Bradford, George Kahn, Gillian Hogman, Jimmy Season, John Evans, Laurence Scott, Les Morgan, Mickie Waller, Pete Hogman, Simon Bladon, Troy Blakely, Valerie Dunn.

*** 

Right, now we got that out of the way. Lemme tell you how fucking amazing this LP is. Because it is fucking amazing. 

You know how, sometimes, you wanna hear the blues and you want it done by folks who know what the hell they are doing? Like, no imitations, no 8th-remove blues wannabes, you want the real damn thing? This record has it in spades. It has soul, it swings, it’s jazzy, and it’s straight out of the club circuit and that amazing melting pot of bands and musicians in England in the 60s. And all this despite this album having been recorded in 1980. This is as if we’ve been transported back to that magic time, revelling in the joy to be found here.

As for what’s on this LP of bliss, all I gotta do is list the tracks for you…

Side A

Boogie Beat
Going Down Slow ~
Bring Your Corn To Me
Trouble In Mind
Honey Bee ^

Side B

Blues Is Rock And Roll
Mannish Boy ^
Got The Blues 4 U
Good Morning Blues *
Cabin In The Sky
Bright Lights, Big City %

~ St. Louis Jimmy
^ Muddy Waters
* Leadbelly (Huddie Leadbetter)
% Jimmy Reed

Any questions? Well, how about you try out a track? Give ‘er!

Also, I found this obit online, for more on Brian Knight…

Brian Knight, who has died of cancer aged 61 (in 2001), was a wonderful guitarist who came from that late-1950s repertory company of musicians who provided the cast for the 60s British rhythm and blues boom, but achieved little fame – or money – from it.

At the beginning of the 60s, he met Brian Jones at an Ealing r ‘n’ b club. Jones was forming a band, and Brian became its vocalist; but Brian was a devotee of Muddy Waters, while Jones favoured Chuck Berry, and down such sectarian divisions the band plunged. Jones departed for what became the Rolling Stones while Brian created Blues By Six. Electric blues was supplanting the “trad” jazz craze, and in clubs BBS – featuring drummer Charlie Watts – became immensely popular, and also backed touring American bluesmen. Overworked Watts, still holding down a day job, moved on, to Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated.

Brian was working class, born in north-west London. In the early 1950s, a radio era dominated by crooners, what impressed him was the black American blues singer Josh White, and interest had been sparked. In the mid-1950s, he got his first job as a panel beater in a London garage. Also employed there was the pioneer British blues harmonica player, Cyril Davies.

Davies invited Brian to visit the Wardour Street Roundhouse pub – the venue for Davies and Korner’s London Skiffle Club and the London Blues and Barrelhouse Club. It was there that Brian heard Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee, and Muddy Waters. He was there the night that Big Bill Broonzy had to be extricated from a passionate, if over-enthusiastic, Margaret Mead, the anthropologist, and he helped cart Bill off to my Waterloo flat.

In those days, aficionados of American music headed to its source by the cheapest route, by signing up on a merchant ship. So, like the jazzman Ken Colyer, a New Orleans enthusiast, Brian headed west. He spent two years in the US coastal trade, from the Gulf of Mexico to Maine, learning guitar and absorbing the music, visiting black clubs and gospel halls.

Back home in 1957 he played his first gig, at the White Hart in Southall. He turned down an invitation from Korner to join Blues Incorporated, as a vocalist. But then came Brian Jones and BBS.

The times did not treat Brian kindly. In 1964 Cyril Davies died of leukaemia. Two years later an exhausted Brian quit the music business and bought a garage. In 1967 he married Davies’s widow, Marie. He continued to work with bands, perfecting a slide guitar technique that earned the respect of musicians like Ronnie Wood, Peter Green and Eric Clapton – who recorded with him.

And then there was Terry and McGhee. Brian had the habit of showing up on their tours – and at their after-show jam sessions. One night, at the Half Moon pub in Putney in 1975, the two Americans were playing when in walked Brian. McGhee put down his guitar, and switched to piano. He was not playing, he announced, when “there was a proper guitarist” around.

In his later years he played acoustic guitar and harmonica in East Anglian pubs, inviting local musicians to join him on stage. Brian was an outstanding musician, and if his life history was closer to those of the black Americans who were his inspiration than those of the rock stars who admired him, well, that is perhaps the way he would have preferred it.

He is survived by Marie, their two daughters and his stepdaughter and stepson.

· Brian Knight, guitarist, born October 14 1939; died September 25 2001

Blue Rodeo – The Things We Left Behind

I Wanna Taranna Pt. 4: BMV #4 Blue Rodeo – The Things We Left Behind

For some reason, as much of a fan of this band as I have been for years, there are still albums I just never grabbed. This 2CD set of new songs, their 12th album and their first studio double album, was one of them and, holy mackerel, I have been lacking without this collection of genius in my collection! 

Everything you love about Blue Rodeo is on full display here, tastefully done and so much fun. Just put it on and let it go. When it ends, start at the top and go again. This is exactly what I’ve done over the past couple of days, just letting these tunes wash over me, letting them absorb and become part of the Blue Rodeo collection already stored in my head. 

It occurred to me that whatever is wrong in your life, by the end of listening to a beautiful set like this, you’ll have a better perspective on the world and you can go forward with calm, clarity and cool.

Essential. 

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!

Track List:

(You’re A) Strange Animal
Soul’s Road
Dedication
Cosmetics
Imagine
Pathetique
The King Chanticleer Rag
The Lumberjack Song
Dancing On My Own Ground
Guerilla Soldier
Cry On My Shoulder
Moonlight Desires
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.

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