Tuesday, May 03, 2005

 

The OTHER 50: Number 25

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, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen, nineteen, twenty, twenty one, twenty two, twenty three and twenty four. 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) OK Blue Jays: The Bat Boys (Aaron) Vetoed By Keith Put the Blame On Me: Handsome Ned (Carol) Time to Get a Gun: Fred Eaglesmith (Carl) Round 7: Log Driver's Waltz: Kate and Anna McGarrigle (Mike) Curling: The Dik Van Dykes (Keith) The Deep End: Swollen Members (Peter) Theme to Hockey Night in Canada: Dolores Claman (Aaron) Andy: Mike O'Neill (Carol) Cool It: Wayne McGhie & The Sounds of Joy (Carl) Round 8: Rumours of Glory: Bruce Cockburn (Mike) Wake Up: The Arcade Fire (Keith) Fly at Night: Chilliwack (Peter) Vetoed by Carl 10lbs: The Super Friendz (Aaron) Staying in on Weekends: The Grievous Angels (Carol) Power: Plunderphonics (Carl) Round 9: Does your Mama Know About Me?: Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers (Mike) Satellite: Jim Bryson (Keith) Bums in the Park: Bob Snider (Peter) Teen Commandments: Paul Anka, Johnny Nash and George Hamilton IV (Aaron) Gaslight: The Ugly Ducklings (Carol) Body's in Trouble: Mary Margaret O'Hara (Carl) Round 10: Peanut Butter Sandwich: Raffi (Mike) Love the OTHER 50? HATE the OTHER 50? Think Jean Leloup is a much better french language choice than Daniel Lanois? (You'd probably be right, btw) Leave a comment! In tonight's race to the finish: Monster Trucks, popemobiles (but not this one) and bumblebee vivisection Keith: Anyone else got anything to say about Paul Anka? Peter: I've heard Anka's pending discs of rock covers too, and I couldn't decide what I thought of it. Some of it stinks, but that's not unique, and some of it was oddly compelling. I played it for several friends and they quite enjoyed it: I think it could be a hit. I've never heard this commandments track before: it sort of reminds me of William S Burroughs with the Disposable Heroes of Hiphopcrisy doing Words of Advice for Young People, except Paul's not so cool. Keith: As for Raffi, in the cold light of morning, I'm left asking myself: "Was Mike serious? Is this nomination just a big lark - and if it IS, why not wait for the non-veto round when nobody can gong him?" Also, I was somewhat chagrined by the fact that I thought this Raffi track was the one where they sing "Pea-nut, Peanut Butter (and Jelly!)." Turns out that was someone else (Romper Room?) What's next? Sharon Lois and Bram? Is anyone else confused? PS: The first kazoo solo is a complete lift of "I'm squashing up a baby bumblebee" That is all. Peter: One of the great moments in Canadian comedy was the Frantics doing "Sharon, Lois, Bram & Young." The guy on the end had a ratty wig and a big gold Gretsch, and halfway through Skinamarinkeedoo (or however it's spelled) he cut in with a godfather-of-grunge guitar break. It was hilarious. Carl: Paul Anka and Raffi? Two ace purveyors of shit sandwiches enter the pantheon. Keith: Carl, I think you mean Shark Sandwich. Carl: Paul Anka's list of teenage morality tips and Raffi's imagination-annihilating, devolved-hippie kid-pacification are great Canadian music ... and Stan Rogers, Skip Spence and the Nihilist Spasm Band - not to mention the poor Langley School kids - are all vetoed. Keith: Drop the bomb on Raffi if you need to (I think Mike may have been just stirring the pot) I'm prepared with pick 44 if it's required. In fact, please drop the bomb . . . somebody! Carl: Okay, Keith, if you insist. I happily veto Raffi. I hate that simpering sunuvabitch. I should add that Mike's nominations in previous rounds include some of my favourite things on the list, such as the Weakerthans, Oscar Peterson and Gil Evans. Mike: I was completely prepared to defend Raffi's Canadian status - as we all know he was born in Egypt and only came to Canada later in life. I'm really surprised no one went after my pick with that line of argument. Failing the "Raffi's not Canadian enough" debate, I thought there might be some discussion or at least some back and forth as to what his best song is. I think we'd all agree that the natural first choice is probably Peanut Butter - with it's near tribal chanting and call and response structure it's definitely one for the masses. If you say it the right way - "Peanut, Peanut Butter..." anyone 35 and under will undoubtedly come right back at you with a blues-influenced, "Jelly" stretching out that final syllable into a long, bluesy whisper - "Jell-laaaaaaayyyy" Or perhaps there might have been proponents of the aforementioned brush your teeth track - "You wake up in the morning and it's quarter to five, you want to feel like you're alive/ You brush your teeth/ ch-ch-ch-ch /ch-ch-ch-ch" I mean, here's a song that even encourages rhyming well past Raffi's 1 (fun) to 5 (alive) count, giving kids the chance to figure out what sensations and emotions brushing their teeth might give them as late as quarter to 7, 8 or even quarter to 9. Who knows, some kids might count all the way to 12 - although 12 is kinda hard to rhyme with ("...and you want to feel like you're an elf?" I don't know). It's also not really morning if you wake up at quarter-to-twelve so I guess it's more likely that kids would only go up to 11 when it's still technically morning and 11 is pretty easy to rhyme with. Slower kids or perhaps even the lazier ones can also re-use their rhyme from 7 at that point in the song. The problem with these two tracks, I'm sure we'd all agree, is that they aren't Raffi originals. And that's why I didn't nominate them. They're just traditional folk songs reinterpreted by an Egyptian-born-Canadian. Given the quick veto that the Langley tracks got for this very same reason (Canadian performers and arrangers playing non-Canadian music) I presumed my best bet was a track that was clearly Canadian in origin. Hence the alternate Peanut Butter song. Perhaps it's the rising incidence of anaphalaxis and peanut allergies that caused such a swift and harsh reaction to the nominated track, I don't know. Maybe it was Keith pointing out the kazoo solo's copycat take on Bumble Bee - I think Keith might cut me some slack and accept the argument that it's clearly an honest homage to another favourite song from childhood - but I'm willing to concede it might be a straight rip-off. I still don't think it diminishes the power of the track. Even though Carl may have liked some of my previous nominations I'm left with one big question - what the fuck about the children people? C'Mon. Are we that self-centred? Kids gotta start listening to something Canadian and if it's Skip Spence we'll have a future generation that makes Robert Downey's rehab stints look like a trip to the ice cream truck. Start 'em listening to the Nihilist Spasm Band and they'll be cutting off their big toes and cavorting with the likes of Tara Reid or even worse, hanging out in their garages on Monday night making music that no amount of bananphones, peanut butter or bumble-bee vivisection could save. I can tell you as a parent, I don't want that for my child. No way... But if Raffi's got to go, all I have to say is I've got two vetoes left and Raffi's vengence will be mine....actually, I was just kididng about all this, thought I might have some fun with you folks. Keith: Mike, You had me at "bumblebee vivisection" Carl: To say that we have to recognize Raffi because otherwise where's the Canadian children's music is ridiculous. It's like saying we should boost Castro because otherwise there are no leftist leaders - if that's all you've got, look elsewhere! Unfortunately the Canadian kiddie-folk movement has produced the most righteous treacle, a dumbed-down retreat for ex-hippies to a realm where nobody will challenge their idiocy. Raffi is the worst of the lot - I don't mind Sharon, Lois and Bram so much because there's kind of a group-fun thing to it, a kind of model of sociability, but Raffi is just an ersatz 60s guru transplanted to kid culture because he couldn't cut it anywhere else. In fact kids enjoy bouncy music of every sort and it doesn't have to be about brushing your teeth - it doesn't have to be pedagogical. The whole pedagogical-kids'-music racket is a sham - adults would resent being treated that way and kids shouldn't be treated that way either. Read them Dennis Lee poems. Play them Beatles songs. Play them Woody Guthrie. Play them African music and reggae - kids respond well to all of that. If you have to have Canadian music, make a mix with some Shadowy Men and Sloan and other cheery stuff. Throw in some Mr Dressup and the Friendly Giant theme. Oh, and there's a new album called Ablum! by a band called Duplex whose ages range from 3 to 35, out in Vancouver, including Veda Hille and other scenesters. Pick hit: "Lament of the House Rabbit." Peter: "Screw Raffi." Can you say that? You know what else kids like? Tom Waits. I put on the Black Rider one night while visiting my sister and the three kids got so wound up it took her hours to get them to sleep. That said, I was going to veto Raffi, as I just can't get behind that. Maybe it's because I have no kids and I have no sense of humour. Mike: Few things make me happier than seeing my two-year old dig cool music - watching her dance around the dining room to the Clash or Edwin Starr (she went through a whole big-horn section phase) or lately it's been stuff like Bob & Marcia and Nicky Thomas. On the flip side, it's also interesting to see her get just as excited by stuff like Back Street Boys, Shania Twain and Beyonce when we're at the grocers. No filters there, just a happy, dancing kid. In all seriousness, we've never introduced her to cds of kids music. I figure if she grows up listening to what we listen to, we'll limit the odds of car trips stuck listening to Disney soundtracks... Keith: With Raffi spiked, it's up to me to come up with pick number 44. Mike's little trip through our drinking and "learning" days at 20 Primrose had me feeling somewhat nostalgic, so did the recent death of Pope John Paul. They're related, let me explain. Back in the day, with Carleton University unaccountably reeling from a very negative review in the first ever Maclean's University Survey (44th of 46 in Canada if memory serves) our roommates put their collective heads together between episodes of The Simpsons* to come up with a fund-raising idea that would drag C.U. by the short hairs into its rightful place atop the list of Canadian schools claiming to be in the northern ivy league. (Full disclosure: my partner Rene is in the academic business. If I hear another of her friends or colleagues refer to a Canadian university as "Harvard North," "Saskatchewan's M.I.T" or "Cambridge on the Athabaska" I'm gonna make like Fred Eaglesmith, grab my gun and head for the nearest clock tower.) Our fund raiser involved, of course, monster trucks. Now, don't get me wrong, a fund raiser involving Gravedigger, Bigfoot and Truckasaurus would have gone a long way to improving higher education in Fat City. But to really move things along; to raise some REAL cash, you need to broaden things beyond the sizable, and not easily washed, "monster truck lover" demographic. You need to inspire people. To strike fear into them; make 'em feel guilty. You need the Pope. Thus, an idea (nay, a movement) was born. Pope John Paul would appear at our monster truck event in a horribly modified version of the Popemobile (Pope My Ride, if you will). The Pontiff would crush a few imports, kiss a few babies, consecrate the new library . . . and Ba-Bing, instant Cambridge! I can still hear the elegantly conceived and yet rousingly delivered radio commercials: "Sunday, Sunday . . . SUNDAY! For one night only, it's the Carleton University Monstertruckathon featuring Eradicator, Big Dawg and P.J.P Two, TWO TWO TONS OF MUUUUUUUUD! If you're not there you better be dead or in jail. And if you're in jail ... Break OUT! (Out! Out!)" Needless to say, it's a wonder any of us graduated. Now, what has any of this to do with The Dayglo Abortions' Proud to Be Canadian, my nomination for the last song in our vetoable list? (Listen to Proud To Be Canadian) Two things: 1) One of the thing that frustrates me most about Canadians is our desire to be other than what we are. Queen's can't just be one of the better universities in Canada, it has to be "Stanford on the St. Lawrence" or whatever. We get so angry when The Simpsons and other 'mericans refer to us as "America Junior" and yet we assert our identity predominantly by denying the same threadbare stereotypes. In "Canadian" Cretin, the DA's vocalist, takes the clichés and kicks them between the eyes. "Proud to be Canadian Pass me another Lumberjack" Sure they're drunken fools, but the Dayglos are making no sincere, semi-tough "Joe Canadian" attempt to deny the - arguably fictional, definitely ignore-able - "Do you live in an igloo?" morons. "You non-Canadians can believe whatever you want," Cretin seems to say. "My friends and I will be in the corner with the other hosers, drinking and having more fun than the rest of you." 2) Some things (even things as mild as the image of a recently-departed Pope encased in glass and suspended above four, 11-foot-high, off road Uniroyals) lose their ability to offend over time. The Dayglos are, to my limited knowledge, the only band to ever be tried under our obscenity laws. The case -- which started when a punk rock girl showed a copy of the Dayglo's second record, Here Today. Guano Tomorrow, to her police officer father -- went as far as the Supreme Court! Today, HTGT's album cover would be more likely held up as evidence of animal cruelty (it featured a before and after picture of a hamster (FC's Note, actually a gerbil . . .) at the business end of a semi-automatic pistol) than obscenity. Finally, it also doesn't hurt that Proud to Be Canadian rocks a little. PS: Despite the length of this treatise, I was still completely unable to fit in a reference to this psych paper** I read today. The paper is about kids with a genetic disability called Williams Syndrome which makes them prone to finding certain sounds painful. In this study, "normal" sounds which WS kids found painful included: - Vacuum Cleaners - Birds singing and - Saxophonist Kenny G. (seriously!) No note on what the WS kids think of John Tesh (I'm betting it also hurts). * That show that smart ass college kids watched before there was a Family Guy. ** Psychoacoustics and music cognition are a hobby. Don't ask. Everyone: Dead silence. Keith: If there's no objection to the Dayglos (and really, after that novel, who'd have the energy) Peter, did you wanna start the non-veto round? Peter: I'm going to keep this one short and sweet, just like the track. My non-veto pick is Son of a Bitch to the Core, by the Headstones. (Listen to Son of a Bitch to the Core) It’s 1:30 of straight-up, Canadian hard-rock, and it represents all things Hard Core Logo - which is why it’s on my list. I love everything about Hard Core Logo. I love Michael Turner’s original book, as slight as it is. I love Bruce McDonald’s movie – and I’m tired of hearing it dismissed as some “fun” rock n roll film. I love Hard Core Roadshow, screenwriter Noel Baker’s highly entertaining diary of adapting the tiny book to the screen. And I love A Tribute to Hard Core Logo, the disc that came out shortly after the movie and was later included with the deluxe “Quentin Tarantino presents” DVD package. The CD, as you may know, has a variety of Canadian bands doing the fictitious songs of the fictitious band. From a few lyrics tossed throughout the original book come 15 fully formed songs that reflect the individual strengths of the bands and the range of talent in Canadian music mid-’90s. It’s an interesting mix, with two bands, the Pursuit of Happiness and the Dream Warriors, tackling the song Edmonton Block Heater and coming up with entirely different results. Then there’s Rusty ripping through Let’s Break Robert Out of Jail, 54-40 doing Rock n Roll is Fat and Ugly, Cub (who almost made it onto my Other 50 list) doing Who the Hell Do You Think You Are, etc. There are two versions of Son of the Bitch to the Core, one acoustic romp by the Lugen Brothers, and the brief, blistering go at it by the Headstones. I could pick happily pick several tracks from the disc for this list, but I’ll go with the Headstones for two reasons: one, I feel the band’s music is better suited to this track than is the acoustic go; and two, because it’s sung by Hugh Dillon, who played Joe Dick in the movie. There’s something authentic about Hugh Dillon, who perhaps has never (yet) conquered the nation commercially, but who seems to have the true spirit of punk beating in his chest. I confess that I’ve always wanted to like the Headstones more than I do, but I never thought they quite clicked. This little track shows what they could do, and it also encapsulates the Hard Core Logo chapter in Canadian rock history. I hear good things about his new outfit, the Hugh Dillon Redemption Choir, and he’s off the booze and drugs, so perhaps he’ll score the success he deserves. Keith: O.k. I guess I'll end tonight with my non-veto pick. Give me one good reason The Hip aren't on this list. There isn't one, really. OK, there IS one. Carol hates them. Fair enough, but that can't hurt Gord and the boys in the non-veto round. I know I'm oversimplifying; I'm aware of the other cases that have been made - that The Hip are over-rated bar rock, that they write songs with aimless cord changes, that Gord Downie's voice grates and that all their songs sound the same - each argument has some merit (except the "bar band" one, The Hip haven't released a bar band record since just after I got old enough to drink . . .) Yes, Downie sometimes sounds like he's a lead-larynxed mental patient, maybe some of their attempts at art rock aren't the greatest art, or the greatest rock; indeed there are too many guys with backwards baseball caps and shell necklaces at their shows and that guitar playin' dude with the bad hair definitely needs a haircut . . . Fine, fine FINE. But just put down that "I hate mainstream rock" placard for a second and listen to some of the songs, particularly the one I'm placing on the list: Ahead by a Century. No, no no! Don't talk . . . listen. (Listen to Ahead By A Century) It's a good bloody song, isn't it? Simply delivered, but layered in mature and complex sentiment. To my ear it sounds like childhood; bravery, fear and confusion wrestle and the result is beauty and uncertainty. I could have picked any one of my other favourite Hip songs (Nautical Disaster and Emperor Penguin - neither one a beer slamming anthem - come to mind) but Ahead By A Century is my last addition. It not only fills a gap. I think it rights a wrong. You're ONE CLICK away from the final episode of The OTHER 50 Tracks.
Comments:
ahh the hip...

emperor penguin is one of my favorites too...

let's raise a glass of milk to the end of another day...
 
What a pathetic group of sanctimonious underachievers.
 
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