Thursday, March 31, 2005

 

T.O. Five-oh . . . eleven

Wondering what all this is about? Before you begin, you might want to read days one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine and ten. The List so Far: Round 1: Hockey: Jane Siberry (Mike) Helpless: Neil Young (Keith) I Go Blind: 54-40 (Peter) Nothing at All: Maestro Fresh Wes (Aaron) Tired of Waking Up Tired: The Diodes (Carol) A Case of You: Joni Mitchell (Carl) Round 2: Have Not Been The Same: Slow (Mike) Hallelujah (Live): Leonard Cohen (Keith) Wheat Kings: The Tragically Hip (Pete) Vetoed By Carol Subdivisions: Rush (Carol) Vetoed By Keith Rags and Bones: Nomeansno (Carl) Round 3: One Great City!: The Weakerthans (Mike) Westray: Weeping Tile (Keith) Vetoed By Pete Deeper Than Beauty: Sloan (Pete) Having an Average Weekend: Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet (Aaron) I've Been Everywhere: Hank Snow (Carol) Illegal Bodies: Simply Saucer (Carl) Round 4: Help Me Rhonda: The Langley Schools Music Project (Mike) Vetoed By Pete Secret Heart: Ron Sexsmith (Aaron) (FC's note: Actually Aaron's Round 2 Catch Up Pick!) Daylight: The Nils (Keith) Barrett's Privateers: Stan Rogers (Pete) Vetoed By Mike War in Peace: Skip Spence(Aaron) Vetoed By Carol Static: Terrible Canyons of Static; Chart #3; World Police and Friendly: Godspeed You Black Emperor! (Carol) Carl's Pick TK Round 5: Blues For Big Scotia: Oscar Peterson (Mike) Love the OTHER 50? HATE the OTHER 50? Want to propose marriage to Peter Simpson or another member of the committee? (Seriously, it happend today) be sure to leave a comment. Tonight: Oscar Peterson: Criminally underrated or only unjustifiably forgotten? And Inco, Bingo, Stinko, Hunky, Fritzy and Joe the Gypsy. Keith: Is there anyone more criminally underrated in the history of Canadian music than Oscar Peterson? Great track, Mike. Carl: Oh well, the answer is yes. Oscar Peterson's pretty highly rated, don't you think? I think the likely reason the CBC's list skipped him is that they were thinking in terms of singles. Is there anything more than 5 minutes long on the CBC's list? I'm glad we've got him, though. My next pick will likewise be nobody's idea of a single. Pete: There was talk of elevator music earlier: to me, that's what almost all the contemporary jazz that I hear sounds like - high-quality elevator music. There's stuff I do like - the guitar work of Charlie Hunter or John Scofield, for example - but for the most it leaves me entirely flat. Any time I hear it I find myself wondering, "where did the swing go?" I grew up in a house full of Benny Goodman and his age. In my parents' basement I can still find the old vinyl Time-Life set "The Swing Era," which must be a dozen LPs or more. I suspect Oscar Peterson would be too late to be included in that set (though I'm not certain). Regardless, the cool vibe of swing runs blissfully though Blues for Big Scotia. Hey, I'm no jazz expert, but if you ask me, this is what jazz should be. Excellent pick, Michael. Keith: There's stuff I do like - the guitar work of Charlie Hunter or John Scofield Pete, don't you mean TOMMY Hunter? Carol: Hee! Parents' collection featured the Readers Digest "boxed set" along with Cannonball Adderly. How/why they bought Kenny G 20 years later, boggles my frazzled mind. I've since foisted the Verve set on them. Must bring them back to the light :) Keith: OK, then we're agreed, OP stays My fifth pick is definately a single, (Listen to Sudbury Saturday Night) Stompin' Tom Conners is another artist who made the CBC's list with what I'd consider to be the wrong song (at least for me). The main merits of Hockey Song, which the CBC picked, seem to be ubiquity (incontrovertible) and Canadiana (which, strangely, was not a case made for many other choices on their list). SSN on the other hand, has some distinct advantages: 1) It's the song that started his career. Legend has it that, in 1964, the bartender of the Maple Leaf Hotel in Timmins Ontario offered Tom a beer if he would sing a song. He sang Sudbury Saturday Night and ended up appearing at the hotel for more than a year. 2) Tom actually STOMPS on this track. Somewhere in the third verse of my recording his boot comes down on the stomping board like a miner's pickaxe on coal. It's Canada's Sixteen Tonnes. 3) Sudbury Saturday Night is a great - if somewhat profane - picture of the cultural makeup of rural Canada (with Irish Jim O'Connel and Scotty Jack MacDonald, Hunky - ouch! - Fredrick Hurchell, happy German Fritzy and Frenchy getting tipsy, and even Joe the Gypsy - double ouch! - all knowing it's Saturday tonight). Tom's fierce pride and loud battles for Canadian culture and against what he called "Juno Jumpers" ("Canadian" artists who hop across the border long enough to pick up their awards before flying back to New York, L.A. or Nashville) are at least conversation provoking, if not inspiring. Stompin' Tom brings Canadian music a little bit of Johnny Cash, a little bit of Toby Keith and just a smidge of our ability to laugh with (and at) ourselves. I think he belongs on our list. Carl: Now here's a correction that needed to be made. The Hockey Song is kind of awful. Sudbury Saturday Night is one of the great working-class songs of Canadian history, one that actually refers to *labour* (how rare that is outside of self-righteous folkie circles and/or Bruce Springsteen songs in North American music as a whole) and depicts a lot of lousy circumstances with great humour and warmth. And it's S'Tom's best use of his rhyme-o-mania ever. Thanks, Keith. Peter: Bingo, Inco, stinko. Goddamn I love Stompin' Tom. Carol: I'll let the Springsteen comment go...for now. Nice convincing, Keith. I'm not a fan of the song, but I like it's honesty and vividness. Carl: No criticism of either Bruce Springsteen songs *or* self-righteous folkie songs intended. Keith: I just hope this song does better than my last, mining-related pick. Pete: You can be sure it won't be spiked by me. Stompin' Tom is as authentic as it gets, and though it's not clear to me how those who strenuously object to Barrett's Privateers can get behind Sudbury Saturday Night, so be it. Connors belongs on any list of worthy Canadian music. Keith: OK, Pete, I think that means you're up. Pete: We all agreed at the start of this venture that there should be no 2000 cutoff, so let me bring forth the youngest song on this list so far, Little Girl, by Death from Above 1979. (Listen to Little Girl) I confess to some anxiety over nominating such a recent song - only time can truly reveal whether a song is a classic - but I've been thinking about this one since we started this list and I've decided the song really is, to my mind at least, brilliant and likely to endure. Without doubt the best live rock show I saw last year - not to mention the most visceral, and the third loudest (after Metallica and the Music) - was Death from Above at Babylon in November. I couldn't even really see the two blokes in the band, as the stage was surrounded by 20-year-old guys, who these days all seem to be at least 6'4" (Dang kids! You spilled Red Bull on my favourite cardigan!), but it mattered not a wit. I stood at the corner of the bar and quite literally felt the sound going through me. That two guys with a basic drum set and a seriously fuzzed up bass can make such an invigorating brick wall of sound is a wonder to behold. The show was cathartic, as great hard rock should be: I felt cleansed by the end of it. If I smoked, I would have smoked after that show. Little Girl is track 7 from their remarkable disc You're a Woman, I'm a Machine. It's entirely typical of their sound, four minutes of loose-knit, frenetic propulsion. It howls, it wails, it blasts and bangs. It's just the sort of thing that has been driving the kids, and the critics, crazy all over the world since the disc came out last year: the current issue of Uncut, one of the more level-headed Brit music mags, raves about "more cool Canadians" ushering in the age of "disco hardcore." I'm not sure that disco hardcore, whatever it is, describes DFA's sound, but the point is that many people see in this band something truly fresh and inspiring. And that's why I decided to get behind a song still so young: I expect to see a lot of bands sparked by the sound and energy of DFA. I expect them to have a material influence on Canadian music in coming years. But even if they don't, the song, like the album, just plain kicks ass. Keith: I was convinced Feist or The Arcade Fire would be the first "I'm sorry but I just HAVE to nominate this recent buzzact" nomination. Shopping List: Once again, I've been a little late in providing links to where you can purchase all of these lovely recordings: The Nils' Daylight is available on The Green Feilds in Daylight compilation through Mag Wheel Records. Barrett's Privateers is available on the reissue of Stan Rogers' 1976 release Fogarty's Cove. War in Peace was released on Skip Spence's 1969 album Oar. Static: Terrible Canyons of Static; Chart #3; World Police and Friendly was recorded on Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven. Blues for Big Scotia is recorded in a bunch of places including The Ultimate Oscar Peterson. Stompin' Tom Records are essential. You can buy some here. Death From Above 1979 may get vetoed tomorrow, but don't let that stop you from buying You're a Woman, I'm a Machine. There's even more Can Rock in The OTHER 50 DAY TWELVE
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