Monday, May 02, 2005

 

A Two Four of the OTHER 50

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 and twenty three. 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) Aaron's Pick TK Carol's Pick TK Body's in Trouble: Mary Margaret O'Hara (Carl) Love the OTHER 50? HATE the OTHER 50? Want to make a last-minute case for Max Webster? Leave a comment! In tonight's prolongation of hostilities: More battles over warbling women, a visit from some Ugly Ducklings and Paul Anka? Peter: I'm not sure the male-rock-singers analogy stands, as there are female rock singers who go with the oohs and aahs too, and they're still a long way from Sinead or (especially) Bjork. What struck me upon first hearing Bjork - and I remember getting the first Sugarcubes album and listening, enraptured, to nothing else for weeks - is that she uses her voice as an instrument more than, well, a voice. Songs like Birthday, Deus or Motorcrash were unique and unforgettable, and almost entirely because of this astonishing sound coming from this Icelandic sprite. While I'm a bit cool to Bjork's most recent stuff, I still think she's in a place of her own. Even MMH, for all her "eccentricity," is mild by comparison. As for the men, aside from Capt. Beefheart and Leon Redbone at times, there just isn't the same proclivity toward vocal extremes in popular music, is there? There's some scat in jazz, I suppose. Even in opera, that most refined vocal stage, the sopranos always dish up more fireworks than do the tenors. Carl: Well, it depends what you consider 'extreme' - I think what Jim Morrison, for instance, or most heavy-metal singers (let alone hardcore punk singers) do is pretty extreme in terms of its over-the-top performative tone, all the growling and declamation there, and I'd also consider them all popular. But you're right that the average male pop singer is more stoic - obviously it has to do with what's considered masculine... Keith: Carol, if you're not going to veto Ms. O'Hara, would you like to make your next pick? Carol: In a search into Canada’s rock and roll past, two names dominated: The Ugly Ducklings and The Haunted. Like The Demics, The Diodes, and Slow, neither of these ‘60s garage bands lasted longer than one or two LPs, but the impression they left is indelible. For now, I’ll narrow my focus on The Ugly Ducklings as they epitomized everything right and wrong about Canadian music at the time. Toronto’s Yorkville derives its legendary status not from haute couture but from counter culture. A hippie hot bed, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, William Gibson among others all came of age in this relatively small corner of the city. And it was here, in 1965, The Ugly Ducklings were hatched. A year later they released “Nothin’” their first of many singles for Yorkville Records. Canada’s centennial saw the band reportedly shoot to #1 on the charts with “Gaslight”. (Listen to Gaslight) Accurate rock history, like that of all show biz, can be hit or miss. The truth depends on who you ask and who picks up the bar tab. The track was reportedly recorded in New York City with Doc Severinson’s Tonight Show Band and the only Ugly Duckling to actually appear on the hit single was singer Dave Byngham. I have a hard time reconciling Jack Parr’s and Johnny Carson’s musical foil with Mick Jagger’s fav Canuck rockers, but there ya go. So the song was written by a Canadian, sung by a Canadian, but largely performed by Americans (presumably, if you were to interview all of Severinson’s players) and recorded in the States. In 1967, prior to CanCon regulations, it was worthy of MAPL-air time. Now, who knows, but “Gaslight” is touted as a great rock single released by a great Canadian rock band. The truth be damned. As for the song itself, it rocks and it sticks. Great lyrics: “Gaslight! She’ll light you up and set you afire.” Solid performances by both the players and Byngham. A great “entry drug” to The Ugly Ducklings’ repertoire, “Gaslight” should not be ignored as contributor to Canuck Rock. Plus, it’s fun to air drum to. Keith: I think Gaslight is a great tune. Think Animals or Them with vibes. Peter: It doesn't knock me out, but I have no objection to it, either. Keith: Furious and not so fast, here comes another pick. Mr. Wherry, if you please! Aaron: Paul Anka's got this album on the way that features him covering contemporary rock songs, including Smells Like Teen Spirit, Eye of the Tiger, Black Hole Sun and Jump. I hadn't yet brought myself to listen to it. But I just threw it on to serenade me as I write this out. It's hideous. I'm sure it's supposed to be oh-so-ironic. But I'd actually like to think it helps drive another stake into the reflex-cool that refuses to die. Which is to say, I kinda like it. Anyway. I'd set out to make this an Anka pick. Not sure why. I've never really listened to him. But I have a strange respect for he and his kind. And then I found this track. (Ohhh my god... he just purr/grred at the end of Eye of the Tiger... amazing...) Even though I think you could make a case that Simple Plan and their like have as much in common with Anka as they do anyone, I don't entirely believe in the "eternal appeal of the crooner." In fact, I kinda think Michael Buble's great success is something of a mirage. But I think the genre - so far as the old masters go - is something I'd like to investigate a bit more. There's a certain charm to the era. And a certain craziness. As my pick should go some distance to proving. Sure there was Diana. And My Way. And Puppy Love. But at the fringes, there's stuff like this. Recorded with Johnny Nash and George Hamilton IV, The Teen Commandments has to be one of Anka's more bizarre recordings - effectively a spoken word run through some tips for good teenage boys and girls. (Holy shit... now he's doing Everybody Hurts... and he's totally pulling it off as some sort of late 60s lounge standard... brilliant) (Listen to The Teen Commandments) The lyrics, which I will very soon be taping to my front door so that I might keep them foremost in my mind on a daily basis: Now, these are the Teen Commandments: 1. Stop and think before you drink. 2. Don't let your parents down; they brought you up. 3. Be humble enough to obey. You will be giving orders yourself someday. 4. At the first moment, turn away from unclean thinking - at the first moment. 5. Don't show off driving. If you want to race, go to Indianapolis. 6. Choose a date who would make a good mate. 7. Go to church faithfully. The Creator gives you the week; give Him back an hour. 8. Choose your companions carefully. You are what they are. 9. Avoid following the crowd. Be an engine, not a caboose. 10. Or even better - keep the original Ten Commandments. That, my friends, is gold. (Oooohhhh... Black Hole Sun with a jazz piano solo...) Note: Though this is the sort of thing to show up on a Dr. Demento playlist, I nominate it not entirely as a joke. It is, I'd argue, very representative of an era and genre - lilywhite heroes and blue-eyed angels. And yes, decades later it sounds insane - especially with Anka off schmoozing his way through Nirvana in the background. But then, the culture wars on this continent are hardly won. Carol: Ha! Pat Boone for the Snowbound! This from a man who gave the world "You're Having My Baby". Keith: I think I may have joined the legendary misheard lyrics club. "Engine/caboose" I heard "be an Injun not a papoose" (which is both complete nonsense and a reflection of how backward I thought the fifties were. Oh, and also somwhat offensive!) Mike: Keith - do you remember sitting around at Primrose (FC's Note: "Primrose" is the street where Mike three other guys and I lived while attending Ottawa's illustrious Kartoon University; where the K stands for Kwality) trying to see if we could name all ten commandments and, of course, figuring out how many each of us had broken. I think I went four for six or so (thankfully, I beat that murder wrap) - batting an evil .666. Looking at Mr. Anka's list, I'm hoping I might do a little better than six out of 10. So, thinking back on my teenage years... 1. Stop and think before you drink Yup - I've stopped to think things like, "Who's round is it?" or "You know what would be really good with those girlguide cookies?" 2. Don't let your parents down; they brought you up When I got my highschool diploma, my dad said, "I wasn't sure if I was going to see this day." His concerns weren't related to his health. 3. Be humble enough to obey. You will be giving orders yourself someday. Yeah, um, not so much. 4. At the first moment, turn away from unclean thinking - at the first moment. Yeah, I was all about the unclean thinking. Especially unclean thinking about that virtuous Tina Manetti, aaahh Tina...No, I was not so good about the unclean thinking. 5. Don't show off driving. If you want to race, go to Indianapolis. Ok - here's one that I'm down with. 6. Choose a date who would make a good mate A good mate for whom? 7. Go to church faithfully. The Creator gives you the week; give Him back an hour. Church? As a teenager? Church camp maybe... 8. Choose your companions carefully. You are what they are. My pal Bruce once turned to me at a friend's house after bringing his bike inside and said, "I bet I can pop a wheelie before I hit the fridge" He couldn't. 9. Avoid following the crowd. Be an engine, not a caboose. I'll give Johnny Nash the nod here. 10. Or even better - keep the original Ten Commandments. Since I could only name six the first time... So I've broken 8 out of 10...good to know. As for the song, it's no brush your teeth (ch-ch-ch/ch-ch-ch-ch) but then again, what is... Keith: Mike, was that just a preview of your next pick? Mike: Kinda. My next pick's s a little shout out to RC who suggested I pick this artist in like the 3rd round. His first album came out in 1976, sold over two million units and changed the recording industry as we know it. Citing Joni Mitchell and Bob Dylan as his two biggest influences, in his 25+ years he's played with many noteworthy artists - including a song with the Dali Lama and a track with Jane Godall contributing monkey sounds. He's been honoured with the United Nation's Earth Achievement Award, the Order of Canada, the order of British Columbia, and was named the honourary chair of the United Nations Environment Programme. Each of his records has sold over a million units and he has over three million copies of his books in print. The most impressive part is he's done all of this with zero radio airplay and a steadfast refusal to appear on commercial television. He has one of the most loyal fan bases and word of mouth support of any Canadian artist I can think of. His credentials are spotless, his credibility is unquestionable and his songs make me smile. This one features a killer kazoo solo too. mmmmmmm, peanut butter. (Listen to Peanut Butter Sandwich by Raffi) Click HERE to get to The OTHER 50's Episode 25.

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