Monday, April 11, 2005

 

T.O. Five Oh . . . One Five

Wondering what all this is about? Before you begin, you might want to read days one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen and fourteen. 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) What About Me? The Nihilist Spasm Band (Carl) Vetoed By Keith Round 5: Blues For Big Scotia: Oscar Peterson (Mike) Sudbury Saturday Night: Stompin' Tom Conners (Keith) Little Girl: Death From Above 1979 (Pete) Brian Wilson (Live): The Barenaked Ladies (Aaron) Vetoed By Carl New York City: The Demics (Carol) Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: Buffy Sainte Marie (Carl) Round 6: Blues for Pablo: Gil Evans with Miles Davis (Mike) O Marie: Daniel Lanois (Keith) Can't You See: The Matt Minglewood Band (Pete) In tonight's continuation of the endless cycle of desire and disapointment: BJ Birdie, Randy Ferbie and the welcome return of the prodigal Aaron. Love the OTHER 50? HATE the OTHER 50? Want to make sure the OTHER 50 doesn't take another five day vacation? Be sure to leave a comment. Keith: Aaron? Are you there man? Aaron: Currently hacking up a lung. Damn you Winnipeg - you and your Prairie air. Your all-night Juno parties didn't help much either. Peter: It's one great city, I hear. Aaron: Being bum-rushed by a head cold as I still am, I've been in desperate need of humouring lately. Being resigned to the living room couch this weekend, I've watched a fair bit of baseball. Now, in general, there isn't much funny about baseball. Especially in this age of shrunken testicles and over-sized baseball caps. Don Zimmer can be rather amusing. The Boston Red Sox, when not being dry-humped by Jimmy Fallon, are periodically entertaining. And the last days of our Montreal Expos surely provided for some dark comedy. But now they're the Nationals. And playing out of the thoroughly unfunny Washington, D.C. Now, anyone who has followed Toronto Blue Jays baseball is probably already thinking what popped into my head (keeping in mind that with a slight fever I was - and am - rather delirious). No, not that George Bell had a criminally under-appreciated sense of comedic timing - but of that song. The one they may still play during seventh-inning stretches at Skydome, er, Rogers Centre (I didn't make it to any of the first three games this season to confirm). Yes, I'm thinking of - and nominating - OK Blue Jays by the Batboys. (Listen to OK Blue Jays) Canada, what with our beavers and Gomery inquiries, is rich in comedic history. What we lack, at least in my mind, is an abundance of wonderfully terrible novelty singles - our potential novelties, like say Stompin' Tom's Hockey Song, strangely accepted as bonafide sources of national pride. Not so, OK Blue Jays. It is embarrassing. As all novelty songs should be. And yet, it is strangely charming. In fact, I defy you to listen to it, assuming I can find a copy, without smiling. Even in scorn. It was conceived in the mid-80s as a theme song for the 1985 Blue Jays squad - a team of Doyle Alexander and Tony Fernandez that nearly brought the city its first World Series appearance. The lyrics are here. That 1985 team fell short. But the song lived on. According to this piece, by 1998 it had sold 50,000 copies - making it, if this is true, what I would imagine to be the most successful novelty record in Canadian history (Bob and Doug's collaboration with Geddy Lee, Take Off, maybe besting it, though I think there should be a clear distinction between "comedy" record and "novelty" record). It also is, if nothing else, probably the first piece of vinyl a young, but remarkably worldly, Aaron Wherry ever owned. Won at some town fair or another, I think. By almost all standards, it is a terrible song. Eventually the Blue Jays converted it into a seventh-inning aerobics break, complete with instructors and lunging. Whereas Americans sang Take Me Out To The Ballgame and drank Budweiser. We put down our Labatt Blue just long enough to get a little exercise. It was geeky and lame and not anything we'd be proud to show the neighbours. But writing in the Toronto Star a couple years ago, Dave Bidini even placed it seventh on his list of 50 songs that best capture the spirit of Toronto. "OK is beautifully us," he apparently wrote. Think I'm Too Sexy. Or Tiptoe Through The Tulips. We hate them, yet we can probably sing nearly every word. Novelty songs are our goofy flaws and intricacies put to song. Pop culture touchstones of time and place and misguided trend. Celebrated even while they are lamented. Like Gwen Stefani's solo career, perhaps. As I said with BNL, we are a nation of geeks. Some of you though, quite rightly, groaned at the sheen and antiseptic gloss of Page & Co. Fair enough. Here though is the geek minus the gloss. Goofy as a goverment commercial, but sheen-resistant. Canada and it's quaint relationship with America's game has maybe never been better summed up than with OK Blue Jays. Heck, in there is probably our relationship with all sport, all competition - maybe even our foreign policy, adorable and cuddly in its attempt to seem remotely important. Knowingly self-deprecating and defeatist, but laughing all the way (to World Series titles in 92 and 93). Er. Yeah. Anyway. It's hilarious. So stereotypically Canada that it makes me curl up in the fetal position at night and weep. But so ugly and hysterical, our elites would probably rather it be buried and forgotten. If this really is the alternative list, it deserves a place. With a wink and a nod. That said, I'm off to swallow another fistful of Tylenol. Carol: HOLY CHRIST! Aaron, please please, I beseech, thee...GET BETTER SOON! Keith: FWIW, this is not the worst novelty baseball song in Canadian history. The Triple A (AAA?) Ottawa Lynx's seventh inning stretch song (The Lynx Are On the Prowl) features not only the call and response chorus of OK Bluejays: Load em up (load em up) Strike em out (strike em out) Ottawa Lynx (Ottawa Lynx), Know what I'm talkin' about? but also a shout out to the team's former owner: Howard Darwin's got the boys back on the feild Hold on to your hats, boys It's your hearts we're gonna steal and some of the strangest combinations of baseball history/and play by play ever recorded We're gonna win We're gonna beat the score With good ole Hank and Joe DiMaggio . . . say WHAT? I Can't wait to hear what Carl thinks. Peter: Since when are we nominating jingles? For that's what this is - a jingle, and it should not be given the albeit-dubious distinction of being called a novelty song. This is a "song" that was written solely to sell a product - pro ball. Novelty songs are written for their own novel pleasure: Tiny Tim wasn't selling tulips when he wrote his silly song. Call me cynical, but while I appreciate Aaron's challenge to hear the song and smile, I don't hear the spirit of Canadian culture or music in a jingle written to celebrate a bunch of zillionaire Americans and misc other non-Canadians who'd dump the "home team" the second somebody waved a bigger contract in their face. I don't see how this song is one bit different from any jingle I hear on TV selling coffee, windows, cars, or a pro sport. It's not because I find pro ball tedious and absurd that I say this song doesn't belong on the list: it's that it's simply not a song in the sense of everything else on the list. If I had more than one veto I'd drop one right now. Aaron: Yes, because real "songs" are never written to sell something. That's why music is free. And society long ago did away with record labels, HMV and U2. And, indeed, the Macarena was written purely for the untouched joy of it all. I'm being factitious, obvs. Sure, there is some difference between Justin Timberlake's McDonald's commercial and the collected works of Radiohead. While I'm generally a fan of the new open-mindedness that seems to be en vogue amongst music critics and bloggers, I don't think it does anyone any favours to pretend otherwise. But, that said, Justin Timberlake's I'm Loving It isn't a bad song because it's a jingle for one of those big international companies everyone loves to hate. It's a bad song because it's a bad song. OK Blue Jays is a ridiculous song. But charming in ways J. Tim will never fully understand. Charming, I think, like Tiny Tim. If the Maestro would please cue up some stirring string music, please... Friends, peers, sworn enemies... I believe we started this list to be contrarian. To honour those under-appreciated bits of beauty neglected by Ghomeshi and his cohorts. But also to honour the misfits, the nerdlingers and the proudly ridiculous. I believe we are here to honour The Other. Not necessarily at the exclusion of the most popular kids in school, but surely with an ear for their more neglected of works. I believe this means both the wonderful and weird. The Hallelujahs and the OK Blue Jayses. I believe the world is a better place with both. Join me and we will strike a blow against the establishment - the forces that would keep us separated, deprive us of the simplest joys. Join me and we will make short-lived, soon-to-be-forgotten history... Or not. Whatever. You've already vetoed me twice. Not like a third is really going to hurt all that much more. Peter: I've been vetoed twice too. Life's a cold-hearted bitch. The list is, of course, contrarian, but that doesn't mean we abandon all standards of quality. To the contrary, the list is supposed to filter out the dreck, the banal. I can hardly imagine anything more banal than the Blue Jays theme song. I think the combo of Tylenol and the start of the ball season is whipping you into heights of sentimentality. We need to plan an intervention, get you out of your sick bed. Still holding back my veto. Carl: Well, I'm not going to veto Aaron's pick, both because you all expect me to (stereotyped again!) and because I enjoy his arguments, which wash much better in this case than they did for the BNLs (aka "The Banals"). But what displeases me about the selection is its Torontocentrism - is that also an "alternative" attitude, then? Who outside Toronto gives a shit about this tune? I think it would have been much more broadly to the point to nominate the Hockey Night in Canada theme song, perhaps in its Shuffle Demons cover version or - didn't somebody do a punk rock version too? The Blue Jays song surely pales (or grates) in comparison. I'll chalk this error on Aaron's part up to his ill health. (By the way, did you know the Hockey Night theme was written by a woman, Vancouver's Dolores Claman, who also wrote the Ontari-ari-ari-o song? How sweetly Canadian.) Keith: I joked about putting the Shuffle Demon's cover of Hockey Night (Canada's alternative national anthem) in as a late pick, myself. But OK Blue Jays just doesn't have the same resonance. Though I don't entirely agree with Carl's argument about the tune being too Toronto centric (as a child of Northern B.C. I remember OK Blue Jays vividly. I even remember all of the words) I would like to raise another, somewhat related objection. This track isn't just an ad . . . it's an ad for BASEBALL for crying out loud. Baseball is so painfully American (and, to most of us, so plain painful) as to be worth vetoing on general principle*. Maybe I'm doing the same cowardly thing I did with NSB, but I'm casting around desparately hoping someone else will blow a veto on this track so that I don't have to (Pete, wanna go halvsies?). Yay hockey! (RIP) Boo baseball! (*Full Disclosure: Rick Monday broke my eleven year old heart) Aaron: I could be convinced to change my nomination from OK Blue Jays to the HNIC theme or one of its covers. But I'll let the debate continue a bit, first... Keith: Anyway, I'm currently pondering a double dip "veto Aaron's novelty song - being the first guy to run out of vetos - and replace it with another one that has nothing to do with Dave Winfield" e-mail . . . Aaron: go nuts fc. note: the "dave" mentioned in song is actually, i imagine, dave stieb. Peter: Dave Stieb? Why does he get mentioned? What kind of seabird has he ever beaned? Keith: More importantly, which one had a worse mustache? Peter: Not a fair contest: seagulls rarely grow facial hair. Carol: Carl, Ok Blue Jays is a song you can only hear when you go to the game. Or I guess you can buy a CD at the gift shop. In other words, you'll likely not hear it on the radio or TV. As for the Toronto-centric-ness of it, the only other MLB club was the Expos. Did they have a song? If I recall it was simply the standard "Take Me Out to the Ballgame", which I think SHOULD be standard; clubs outta be FINED for not playing that, dammit! Keith: The closest you can get to an official Expos song was the bleacher creatures booing the english parts of the national anthem . . . They were, however, responsible for some of my favourite all time advertising slogans (I guess bad ads are all part of the drill when you're drawing 3,000 fans a game) including "Mon été, Mes Expos" (My summer, My Expos) and "Soyez Expositif" - no rational translation or, for that matter, explanation. Aaron, I admire your attempts to define "other" as geeky, dorky or even cringeworthy and you are more than welcome to continue to do so . . . with your next nomination. (I won't be able to fend you off anymore) Pete's partially right, OK Blue Jays is more ad than novelty record. Carol's also right...you must be hitting the tylenol a little hard. OK Blue Jays is good for a laugh (which is, in part, what novelty songs should be) but it's a pretty cheap laugh (I thought it was fun to re-hear the track on first listen, I couldn't get through it a second time, it's just not very musical, at least to my ears). Does anyone else see it as a sorta warmed over version of Randy Newman's I Love L.A.? At the end of the day, I'm left using my man on the street "Why did you include this track and ignore my favourite song?" test. Nihilist Spasm Band, which, for me, failed that test, was at least influential. The best I can say for OK Blue Jays is that its the first record you ever bought . . . sorry man, v-toe! Carol, do you want to save us from all of this? Carol: Listen to Put the Blame on Me I first came across Handsome Ned while spinning records at CKCU in Ottawa. In all likelihood heard him during Mean Steve Piano’s shows on CKLN, which I tuned to after school. What ever the timeframe, I’m glad I made the acquaintance. Toronto’s cowboy entered this world Robin David Masyk June 1957 and left twenty-nine short years later. In the intervening years, Ned was a mainstay in the thriving local rockabilly scene, yet he and his band mates released only 2 singles, one of which I have. He also DJ’d at CKLN and someone had the presence of mind to commit his live radio performances to tape. His brother Jim enlisted the help of friends and fans (one in the same?) and compiled the music into a posthumous 2-disc anthology. His wonderful liner notes inform my write up. In an scene befuddled with Parachutes + Muffins, Handsome Ned ushered us back to a tradition amplified only by guitars not casios. Pianos were tuned up, not plugged in. And to top it off, Handsome Ned contributed his own songs to this longstanding legacy. Before I wrote this, I listened with headphones in the last-call darkness trying to critically determine which of the 33 tracks I should pick. My toe tapping threatened to wake the neighbours, so I narrowed it down to two: “Restless” and “Put the Blame On Me”. The subconscious shower performance confirmed latter contestant’s success. The song rocks heartache like three minutes of rockabilly should. The Sidewinders’ finger- picking gee-tar, honest-to-god stand up slapping bass, and workman drums motor Handsome Ned’s twangy vocals that would make Sam Phillips call in the boys for a late-night session. This is a last ditch attempt by a desperate man Hell, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do I’mdriving once along the highway of life[I think] If I’m so wrong, put the blame on me. Yep, I'd take him back. No question. Unfortunately, we can’t. We’re left with the songs and that will just have to do. Keith: Excellent pick! Great track, Carol. Carl: Like many martyrs, I think Ned's a tad overrated, but I'm a roots-rock weirdo (tm Robbie Fulks) myself, so of course I approve, though personally I might have chosen I've Come to Get My Baby Out of Jail, which has more swing, instead. With Handsome Ned in place I'll stop agonizing over whether the late great Ray Condo's work was "Canadian enough" (he mostly covered American songs) and let Ned fill the 80s twang revival spot. Early kd lang belongs in their company too - Angel With a Lariat or Big-Boned Gal were pretty weird, radical things to Canadian ears when she started up - but she's on the Corp's 50 Tracks list (with Constant Craving at a surprisingly high #21) and she got to replace Neil Young at the Junos and sing Helpless on The OTHER's behalf, so she needs no further help from us. However, I wish Ned's nomination hadn't come along with gratuitous bashing of Martha & the Muffins and - again! - the Casio. Authenticity fetishism lives - more stubbornly in the "alternative" realms, it seems, than in the mainstream, since the CBC made room for M&M, the Parachute Club (who do suck, I agree) and even for that shining moment in Canadian pop, The Safety Dance. Loosen up, my OTHER sisters and brothers! Carol: HA! If you met me or saw my record collection, you'd realize how I'm so NOT an indie snob. My distaste for Casio-pop is long earned and comes with the full knowledge of exactly how much of it I own. Ray Condo: I don't own any. I owned and loved Handsome Ned who got more than his fair share of air time with me when it wasn't cool. Keith: Carl, how can we agree on so many acts (Howe Gelb, Robbie Fulks) and yet be so far apart on the pressing issues of our time (the scientifically proven - well if not ACTUALLY proven, then very likely provable - fact that Casios and M+M should have remained in the 1982 round file with the parachute pants and flock of seagulls hairdos)? Casio bashing is in vogue, Carl. You'll have to get comfortable with the heat when you're that far ahead of the curve. Peter: I have to side with Carl on the people's republic of Casiotone. Echo Beach is a punchy little number, entirely indicative of the era and perfectly preserved all these years later. I don't want to listen to it, but all this latter-day Casio-bashing sniffs of indie snobbery. Keith: Et tu, Petey? Peter: I mean, it looks good on you, though. Keith: Ok, just let me change the subject slightly to prove that I have nothing against sports songs that play it for yuks, may I present my next nomination: Curling by the Dik Van Dykes. (Listen to Curling) The DVDs were another semi-unknown, Hamilton act (What's next? Teenage Head?). Dik (lead singer Mike Johnson) the Van Dykes (Frank Viola - don't think I don't see the baseball significance, Aaron - Steve Hoy and Stu Smith) and the Pop Tarts (backup singers Rene Johnson and Sara Hodgson) were equal parts Dead Milkmen and the Cramps; all polyester suits, adenoidal vocals and straight ahead guitar thrum. Curling holds true to the DVD's "Joke em if they can't take a fuck" approach to songwriting as seen in tracks such as Lazlo ("I went to bed feeling like a hundred dollars . . . Canadian/And I woke up feeling like a hundred dollars, Canadian Tire") and Harold Snepsts ("How could you leave me for an ugly goon like . . . Harold Snepsts?"). The lyrics are goofy, playful and Canadian without apologies. "Some people play with their skidoos and spend a quiet night in their igloos just to stop from curling," says Dik. "If we're going to go with a goof off track about sports, it might as well be about one where they fly the Canadian flag right side up," says I. Carl: Geez, I think the Dik Van Dykes may have been the first band I ever saw in a nightclub, or at least one of them, the first couple of times I went to the Rivoli in the (dating myself alert) mid-80s. With the Plasterscene Replicas or someone like that also on the bill. Those early Queen Street experiences paled a little bit compared to my Montreal-scene experiences a year later (the Deja Voodoo picnics, etc.) but still, what a nostalgia trip. ... VETO! No, no, just kidding, no veto. Tho I do suspect this list is going to end up overly eighties-heavy, just as the traditional Canuck Rock list is too 70s heavy. That tells you a lot about tastes, and certainly means our generation has reached the point where we must ease off complaining so much about boomer nostalgia, hmm? Keith: True enough. You could argue that one of the strengths of the Ceeb's list is that it broke things down by decade. Unfortunately, when they combined it with their panel picking skills, the 80s got the short shrift (I'd have loved to have seen Randy Bachman on the eighties panel rather than Dammit Doyle . . .) As I said with my last pick, I actually intended to go with "gap fillers" for the next little while, but Aaron's pick got me thinking and then a friend of mine who works in radio dropped me a "Look what I found, you're going to love this!" MP3 . . . and here we are. If you're desperate for a copy of OK Blue Jays, you may want to contact the ball team. Amazon says they have a copy of The Name is Ned, but I think it's out of print. The Dik Van Dykes' records are definately out of print, but you can learn more about the band here. The Other 50's EPISODE SIXTEEN is just as cool as this one!
Comments:
nice work folks
that handsome ned song is pure gold, surely his finest vocal performance, and such a compelling lyric as well... and i pull this record out every dead jesus day to remind myself of how effectively the song was used over footage of the college st. crucifixion parade in the best canrock movie ever, bruce mcdonald's roadkill.

and more kudos for the DVD's Curling, the lead-off song on It Came From Canada Vol. 3 on Og Records, the album that made me fall in love with all things Cdn indie rock.

also re: shadowy men (which i pitched to J-Gho on the ceeb). i loved carl's argument for it and the inherent Queen St. aura it exhibits, but it should be noted that 2/3 of the Shadowy Men were from Calgary, as were 2/5 of the Kids in the Hall (that connection pre-dates the Rivoli one).
and brian connelly's atomic 7 is a fine group in itself... one that under no circumstances should be compared to huevos rancheros, who always struck me as little more than a poor calgarian's shadowy men.

okay, i know that because i actually WAS on the 50 tracks show i should just butt out of this entirely, so i'll shut up now.
 
Nawwww, barclay. Keep it coming! I appreciate the insight/feedback.

The question I have on the shadowy men/huevos/atomic seven thing is how clean the breaks can be between instrumental surf guitar outfits. . . they're all painting on a relatively small canvas, no?
 
Both Dik Van Dykes Albums are available from the blog
"Music Ruined My Life"
http://musicruinedmylife.blogspot.com/search?q=dik+van+dykes

also, check out the myspace page
http://www.myspace.com/thedikvandykes
 
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