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54-40 – Steal This CD

A cover of a Joy Division song? On a limited, numbered CD from one of my favourite Canadian bands?

Oh hell yes.


54-40 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret

An excellent follow-up to Dear, Dear. Love this sound.

I remember where I was when this album came out, working a summer job in a stifling auto parts factory, saving up for university. A buddy was headed to the city and I asked him to grab this for me (he got one for himself, too). It really helped me survive that summer!

54-40 – Dear, Dear 

Probably my favourite top-to-bottom 54-40 record, but that’s tough to say (they’ve done so much greatness).

54-40 – Sweeter Things: A Compilation 

Happy Canada Day, everyone! Here’s a great Canadian band who, in a moment of perfect timing, was due up today in the series anyway. I love it when a plan comes together.

This is a compilation that is a must-have for those days when early 54-40 is just what I need (it happens often).

54-40 – Show Me

My copy of this classic record is on LP, and I love it!

The LP Project 1: 54-40 – Show Me

This 1987 LP is awesome. Hits One Day In Your Life and One Gun are here, but this platter is full of songs that could also have been, like Walk In Line, Standing In The Way, Come Here, Because Of You… hell, all of them. Pure CanCon classic. It’s just that damn good.

54-40 Dear Dear Contest Winner!

First off, a huge thanks to everyone who entered!

The question was: What is the full running time of Dear Dear?

The answer is: 54:40!

Oh those clever Canucks.


As promised, I placed all correct entrants’ names into a toque (my Rage Against The Machine toque, natch). My lovely wife, a neutral third party, drew the winning name.

The Winner Is: SARCA!

Congratulations, Sarca! Your brand new copy of Dear Dear will be winging its way to you ASAP.

Thanks again, everyone! Keep your eyes peeled for more contests in future…


Special mention goes to Deke, who included the times of all individual tracks on the album with his answer, and then proceeded to jokingly comment the tracks of the debut L.A. Guns album. I’d had to have come up with a consolation prize for him if he had included its Japanese-only bonus track, Winter’s Fool. I’m sure Mike would agree! 😉

Contest Deadline Today

Hey Dear Readers!

Today is your last chance to enter to win your very own (brand new, still in shrink-wrap) copy of 54-40’s amazing Dear Dear album (1992)!

Entries have been coming in, so don’t miss your chance!


Or how about HERE?

Winning entrant will be announced in these pages tomorrow (Wednesday, May 17). Stay tuned!*


*See what I did there? 😉

Taranna, Grail List Stuff, Contest Reminder

Hiya KMA Readers, it’s your friendly neighbourhood Aaron, here!

Just some admin stuff to clear up…

Let’s get in there and give ‘er!



I will be in Taranna on May 28. Looking for records. Oh baby. Which means…

Grail List Updates

If you have anything to add/remove from your Grail Lists, let me know by May 27! If you don’t have a list yet, but you want one, send it to us! Remember, these are items you really want but cannot get at reasonable prices. Let’s all help each other find our Grail Items!

Grail List Addition

While I’m at it, I have added the Five Hole Band – Tales Of Hockey Erotica to my list. I can’t find one online for under $50. Can you find me one for good price?

And lastly,

Contest Reminder

Don’t forget a new (still sealed!) copy of 54-40’s amazing Dear Dear album is up for grabs. GO ENTER HERE! Contest runs until Tuesday May 16. Winning entries will be drawn from a toque, and the winner will be posted in these pages on Wednesday May 17!

Thanks for reading. Carry on!


A KMA Milestone, And Another Contest!

Over there in the right-hand sidebar is our Visitor Counter. As always, thanks for visiting, you’re damn sexy! And as you can see, we’ve recently passed 50,000 unique visits to the site since we moved to WP, waaaay back in 2006.

That’s a lot of visitors.

Of course, we only have ALL OF YOU to thank, our lovely Constant Readers who tune in whenever James drops his awesomeness, or (more likely) whenever Aaron starts gibbering like a rhesus monkey on a three-day cocaine bender…


In honour of this milestone, we offer up another contest!

As mentioned in a recent query post (and the subsequent comments), this time we will not be offering the prize to the first person to correctly answer the skill-testing question in the Comments. To try to be fair to our friends in other time zones, and to those who may not blog every day, this time there’s a form (below) wherein you can place your answers before the contest closing date, and your response will be emailed to us. All correct players will have their names thrown into a toque, and my lovely wife (a neutral third party) will select the winner.

Also, for folks in other time zones (even half way around the world, wherever you are), please do feel free to enter. I’ll happily ship prizes anywhere.

Please do not put your answers in the Comments section, only use the form provided below. Thanks!

Cool? Cool.

So. This time, up for grabs is a brand new (still in the shrink-wrap!) copy of 54-40’s amazing 1992 album, Dear Dear.

Holy mackerel, I do love this album.

In fact, it would be far to say of it that it’s Nice To Luv You, Dear Dear…


Are you ready to get your mitts on this gem of an album? Of course you are…



What is the full running time of Dear Dear? 


Contest closes one week from today, on Tuesday, May 16, with the winner being posted in these pages the following day, Wednesday, May 17th.

Alright kids, you’re off to the races. Submit your answers in the form (below), and above all, have fun!



54-40 Contest Winner! And Future Contests Query

Congratulations to Brian of Boppin’s Blog! He is the winner of the 54-40 Sweeter Things: A Compilation CD!

Bop correctly identified the origins/meaning of the term/name 54-40. From Wiki: “54-40 is a Canadian alternative rock group from Vancouver, British Columbia, who take their name from the slogan Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!, coined to express the unsuccessful expansionist agenda of James K. Polk’s presidency, intent upon controlling a contested U.S.-Canada border area in the Oregon boundary dispute.” You can get a ton more info on the dispute here.

Once again, congrats Bop! Your CD will be in the mail shortly!


Also folks, I’ve got a question for you, r.e. future contests…

As you’ll have noticed, in the past little while I’ve held two contests, with CDs as prizes. And as you may recall, Mike won the David Bowie CD, while (as noted above), Bop has won the 54-40. Congrats, you two!

So I got to thinking about the contest itself. For both of those contests mentioned, I just said whomever gets to the correct answer first wins. That was cool! I found that enjoyable, I hope you did too. Mike hit the Bowie win in 17 minutes!  But given that our AWESOME COMMUNITY is so far-flung in every corner of the globe, how can I make it so that everyone (given time zones and blogging habits) gets a chance to see the question and have a crack at it? Not to take away from the brilliant speed and accuracy of the previous winners, but as further comments trickled in I wondered if there was a way to make it not so time-sensitive…

How would you like to see future contests held? Is this way fine, or do you have a better method in mind? Drop a comment and let us know!

Contest: Win a 54-40 CD!

In honour of the recent 54-40: All the Everything Pt.3 post, I am offering up a copy of the band’s Sweeter Things: A Compilation CD!

The first person to drop a comment that correctly explains what 54-40 actually means wins the CD!

Put on yer thinking caps, folks. It’s time to give ‘er!


Sweeter Things: A Compilation is a 1991 compilation album by 54-40. It was their final release for Warner-Reprise, and compiled tracks from their albums 54-40, Show Me and Fight for Love.

The title track from 1984’s Set the Fire as well as two unreleased tracks, “Sweeter Things” and “Don Quixote”, are also included.

54-40: All The Everything Pt.3

As you can see, I own 8 albums by 54-40. But even in this, I do not own nearly enough 54-40. There’s no excuse, really, as I’ve had years (decades) to collect it. Really, I need to get on this, as I truly do enjoy their music. There’s something hypnotic to their rockin’, something that just pulls me in and holds me there and it’s all one big happy.

The band’s discography sprawls a bit (as you might expect, starting as they did in 1981), with 13 studio albums, a whole whack (that’s an official measurement) of singles and EPs, about 7 compilations, and a live album.

I’ve written about a few of their records in the KMA pages already – having gone back and re-read them for this project, my reviews stand. But as I was saying to Deke in the comments elsewhere, even if I’m linking to old work in these posts, I am actually going back and listening to all of this stuff again. It’s only fair. And it’s a further sign that KMA goes to every length to do things right! Besides, if I disgreed with my old posts, I would correct things in this series. Deal? Deal.

Anyway, if you see 54-40 in the shoppes, buy them all with confidence! Oh, and of course, these are all Hit. Not a single Quit in these 8 efforts. Natch.


1987 – Show Me (LP)

Their third record, this one has big hits One Day In Your Life and One Gun and a whole pile of other great tunes that shoulda been hits. I’m very happy to own this one on LP!

1991 – Sweeter Things: A Compilation (CD)

1992 – Dear Dear (CD)

1994 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret (CD) here and here too!

1994 – Steal This Cd (Promo, Ltd. Ed.) (CD)

1996 – Trusted By Millions (CD)

Their seventh album, here we have more 54-40 awesomeness, including Lies To Me and Love You All. I wanna say Cheer Up Peru was on the radio too? Shoulda been. Anyway, this is yet another record of 54-40 awesome, this time for the mid-90s. Yessir!

1998 – Since When (CD)

2016 – La Difference: A History Unplugged (CD)

Holy mackerel, this is brilliant. An acoustic effort, this is the band 35 years after they started, revisiting and re-recording some of their biggest hits. Lots of cool new touches to the songs, like horns and piano and new arrangements. It’s groovy, it’s super-fun, and every song is obviously deserving of inclusion. Wish it had been a 3CD!

Check it out: Ocean Pearl / She La / Since When / One Day In Your Life / Baby Ran / I Go Blind / One Gun / Crossing A Canyon / Casual Viewin’ / Lies To Me.

See? Frickin’ awesome.

Series Stats:

3 posts
16 albums

13 hit
3 quit

14 CD
1 LP
1 CS

54-40 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret (replacement)

The Taranna Was Hot Series: Part 23/25 (3-for-$10 bin, BMV)

I’ve already written about this record a couple of years ago, but my copy got hacked up (long story) so I was happy to find another one to replace it. This record is a total classic, full of 54-40’s inimitable, trademark rock pop genius. I still get one hell of a lift out of Ocean Pearl. Blame Your Parents, Radio Luv Song, Assoholic… and all the other songs that should have been hits. It’s crazy good. You need this album!

SLCR #255: 54-40 (August 19, 2016)

I turn 40 in two- wait. That won’t work twice. And it’s 20 minutes to midnight anyway.

This was a last-minute decision for me. I had forgotten the show was even happening until it popped up on Facebook a little while ago, and I only bought my ticket a few hours before the show. I like 54-40 well enough and all, but I saw them a few years ago and described it as the most just-a-show show that I’d maybe ever seen. I really wasn’t sure that I needed to pay to see that again. Plus Mika didn’t feel like going, even when good seats opened up on the day of the show.

But then I was looking them up online, which can be a bit tricky, because if you google 54-40, you get 14. But I still found their website and it described this show as acoustic. “Featuring intimate and unplugged versions of 54-40’s greatest hits performed as you’ve never heard them before.” That would make sense – their newest album is a collection of acoustic reworkings of their biggest hits. I haven’t heard it, but Aaron says it’s good. This intrigued me, as it would be a different show from the last time I saw them. On the other hand, the last show dragged until it got to the more high-energy second half. Should I risk the $37.13? I asked Aaron, which meant I already knew what I wanted the answer to be, because what was he going to say? No?

So I got my ticket, rushed through a dinner of Indian food while finishing off the Weird Al review, and made my way to the casino. I was up in the balcony. The show wasn’t sold out, and I had an entire row to myself. Actually, several rows as pretty much everything behind me was also open. This is a fine way to watch a show.

Right at 8:00, some local radio guy introduced the band and we were underway. The first thing I must note is that there was nothing acoustic at all about this show. This was a straight up rock show, and oddly (considering last time), the crowd was into it right from the start. By the second song, there were people standing up at the front of the stage, with more joining with every song. By the end of it, the people at the first few rows of tables wouldn’t have been able to see anything and those tables were largely abandoned.

I didn’t take notes about the set list, but I’m pretty sure they opened with Easy to Love and from there, it was all hits, all the time. I didn’t keep track of the setlist, but if you know a 54-40 song, they played it. I mean, not if you’re some kind of superfan or something. But if you know only the radio songs, like me? They didn’t leave you wanting much. I Go Blind, Since When, Baby Ran, Crossing a Canyon, Lies to Me, Love You All, One Day in Your Life, Ocean Pearl, Nice to Luv You, Crossing a Canyon, One Gun, She-La, Radio Luv Song, Blame Your Parents, Casual Viewin’… it turns out that 54-40 had way more hits than I realized, and I knew pretty much everything.

I guess there was one song that wasn’t a hit – a new song from their upcoming album. The song was based on a Winston Churchill quote: “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” The song was probably called something like Keep Walking, while lead singer Neil Osborne offered the suggested title of “Grizzled, Chiseled, and the Wine is Fine” for the new album; about this, I can only say it received the reaction it deserved. Interpret that as you will.

Questionable album title aside, the new song was good, and the whole show was great – much better than last time out. There were big singalongs for Ocean Pearl and Casual Viewin’, but there was much more energy from both the band and the fans as compared to before. I don’t know what changed in the crowd, but whatever it was, it was there right from the start. It’s amazing the difference that the atmosphere makes. It created this loop where the band was having more fun because the crowd was really into it, and because the band was enjoying themselves, the crowd got MORE into it. It’s too bad the show ended after 90 minutes (plus a two-song encore) because we could have been on the verge of discovering some sort of perpetual energy machine.

• Greg MacPherson w/Dan Holbrow & Leo Keiser (September 1)
• Billy Bob Thornton & The Boxmasters (September 6)
• Dolly Parton (September 13)
• Prozzäk (September 22)
• Hayden (September 29)
• Fred Eaglesmith (October 1)
• Basia Bulat w/Oh Pep! (October 5)
• I Mother Earth featuring Edwin w/The Standstills (October 8)
• Sarah Slean with the Regina Symphony (October 22)
• Bush w/The Dead Deads (October 27)

54-40 – Steal This CD

I’m so glad I found this CD. All I wanted was one song on it, but the rest is great too! The story is like this:

Years ago, I got a free Music World compilation when I bought a new CD. I don’t recall which one I bought to get it, but that’s what almost 20 years will do to a guy’s memory. On that compilation was a lot of crap I never played again, and a 54-40 track called I Wanna Be Free. It blew me away. Come to find out later it’s a cover tune, but so what, they nailed it. That comp is lost to the mists of time, and I never did find another. But years later I discovered this EP, and there was I Wanna Be Free! I ordered it post-haste.

The rest of this promo EP (which came free with purchase of Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret, if you were lucky) is also excellent. It contains 6 tracks that were previously unavailable elsewhere (as of 1994). Mine is #07011 and if I paid for this product I’m supposed to report the seller to the authorities. Haha yeah OK. I’ll get right on that. Anyway, on to the music…

First there’s an alternate version of Beyond The Outsider which, if anything, is even louder and faster than the album version (yay!). Next is a cover of Joy Division’s Heart And Soul, which 54-40 sound like they were born to play. It suits them perfectly, and they rock it up nicely. Sweet Sue slow things down a little bit, atmosperic like a Smiths or Cure track, or something, yet still sounding like only 54-40 does. Nothing Happens Here brings the rock back, and then we go straight into an alternate version of Radio Luv Song, which is freaking brilliant! They turned it into a metal/punk song! Those guitars! So awesome! And then we come to I Wanna Be Free, originally by The Rings. This is just such a great song, and hearing it all of these years later, I discovered that my memory of it was one thing, but hearing the actual track again was even better!

I am thrilled to have access to that song again, after so long. This is a great EP. I will play this again, and soon!



54-40 – Smilin’ Buddha Cabaret

54-40 was really up against some stiff competition, for me, in the summer of 1994. You see, that August, I had tickets to see the Rolling Stones (on the Voodoo Lounge tour) at Exhibition Stadium in Toronto, with the Stone Temple Pilots opening. I was thrilled, and I bought the Voodoo Lounge CD, no questions asked. And then I learned there had been a new 54-40 CD too, and I wanted that, but my music money was spent.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long before I got my own copy. And what a record! The menace of album opener Blame Your Parents is always thrilling, and the full-on punk rock of Radio Luv Song please me to no end. Then it’s Assoholic, which I’m sure you’ve all heard many, many times. Pure 54-40, for sure. Daisy trips along happily, Once A Killer is an acoustic blast, reminding me, frankly, of 54-40 doing a Neil Young song. And that’s a good thing!

Punk Grass isn’t exactly a punk rock song, but it’s great fuzzed-out 54-40 rock. Lucy is chunky big three-chord riff rock at its best, and Beyond The Outsider brings back the Neil Young thought, its riff nudging close to Rockin’ In The Free World territory. Still, play it loud enough and it’s awesome! Don’t Listen To That keeps the energy high. Damn, these guys were really going for it with this record, and I love it!

And then we come to Ocean Pearl, a track that stood out to me on first spin, and has been a favourite of mine ever since. Any mix of 54-40 I make will definitely have this track near the top. There’s just something about its riff line, it makes you just have to move! So then we move on to Higher, which is another acoustic track, this time a slide work-out and a real stomper. Friends End  keeps the acoustic guitars going, this time a strummy and pretty song.

What Buddy Was brings the bass to the fore, with drums that sound like a slowed down Billie Jean beat. Fun! The echoing vocals and the wailing guitars make this whole track quite a trip, indeed. Lovely! And album closer Save Yourself is a big, fuzzy rock song with more of those processed vocals. Still, listening to it, one can’t help but be lifted, and that is a great way to end any album. When 54-40 does it, it’s that much sweeter.

Another album to love. Love love love.

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.



SLCR #157: 54-40 (April 2, 2011)

It’s usually this time of year when I write a concert review in the airport on the way to visit my grandparents. I like to start by talking about the wonders of technology and how, years ago, I could never have written a concert review in an airport. Then I finish up the opening by noting how familiar this all feels, as though I had done it before (for several years running, in fact) and just didn’t remember.

This year I spent my pre-plane time playing video games. Oh well. Now it’s several weeks later and once again, I’m trying to force out a review so that it’s done before the next show.

54-40 are one of those Canadian acts who’ve been around forever, but somehow, I’d never seen them until now. It’s not like they’ve never played here before, but I never managed to make it to the shows. Much like the Arrogant Worms last month, 54-40 was on an anniversary tour, though this was their 30th as opposed to the Worms’ 20th. Still, in both cases, I’ve clearly been slacking for years.

Though to be fair, I’ve never been a huge 54-40 fan. Or an Arrogant Worms fan, for that matter. Maybe I should retroactively just combine the two reviews? That would at least have the potential to be interesting, unlike this, wherein all I have to say is "I watched a show and I liked the show and then I went home to my house and my cat and my recording of SNL."

It sounds bad to say "I’m not that big a fan" but I just mean I’m not obsessive about them, you know? If I really really like a band, I want to hear everything by them, I want all their albums, I want to go to shows, I want to know all kinds of stupid trivia, I want to make mix CDs and give them to all my friends who most assuredly do not care. But when it comes to 54-40, I really just knew the radio singles, including the ones I only heard because Feely sent them to me (basically, everything from Casual Viewin’ onward).

Boring details: lucked into good parking, got to the casino a bit early and had some tasty nachos before the show started right on time. No opening act.

Without hilarious drunken shenanigans, overenthusiastic fanboyishness, or any sort of all-encompassing theme or story, I’m sometimes tempted to simply write "this show was fine" and call it a day. Never have I been more tempted than I was during the first half of this show. 54-40 played some songs. A crowd sat calmly and listened to the songs, and applauded politely when each song ended. It was a rock concert in the technical sense of the term, but only barely. And it was fine, don’t get me wrong, but that’s about it.

Then they started playing Casual Viewin’. This is probably my favourite 54-40 song (though as I mentioned, I don’t know that many) and I was hoping I’d get to hear it. And then about six women got up to dance. Others were inspired and followed suit. Some dragged their boyfriends along. Other guys, presumably noting the most excellent male:female ratio, went up by themselves. Soon it was hard to see the stage, so everyone wound up standing. I don’t know if the plan all along had been to play an extended version of the song with a long sing-along chorus, but that’s what wound up happening. Somehow, it turned into a real-life concert over the span of five minutes, and the feeling held for the rest of the show.

I make lots of jokes about being old, and I do like the chairs and the sight lines and the climate control and the reasonable start times, but the casino atmosphere sucks a lot of life out of a rock show. Good bands overcome questionable settings all the time, but I would prefer it if they didn’t have to start with a handicap. I’ll never enjoy standing around for hours waiting for a show to start, but sitting in polite silence during the show itself doesn’t thrill me either. There’s a middle ground somewhere that I’m not sure I can find without bringing my own recliner to the bar. 

 – Regina Symphony: Video Games Live! (April 21; I may not bother writing anything about this)
 – Geoff Berner (April 29; I may not go, but probably? we’ll see)
 – Regina Folk Festival feat. kd lang, Hawksley Workman, KT Tunstall, Andrew Bird, Taj Mahal, Fred Penner, and more (August 5-7)

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