Posts Tagged ‘Alan Cross’

Ignored 29: An education

In Uncategorized on March 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm


As a lifelong music fan, there will be times when you remember things wrong, assume an artist is something they’re not and have various WTF memories and misappropriations seep into your consciousness. The Internet and various reference manuals can help clear up these mistakes while others will follow you to the grave. It’s fun!

Here is a small sampling of musical misunderstandings I’ve had over the years. Obviously since I’m now writing about them on a WordPress blog, I’ve cleared up the details.

The video was Men without Hats “The Safety Dance” wasn’t an actual song but rather, a TV show for kids or maybe a TV commercial. This was 1984.

The video for M+M’s “Black Stations White Stations” wasn’t an actual song. Rather, it was a bumper for Citytv. In the spirit of Mark Daily’s “Citytv: Everywhere” contributions. Again, this was 1984.

The Fat Boys was a TV show and not a band.

Lou Gramm and Lou Reed were the same guy.

Strange Advance and the Escape Club were the same band. Confusion rooted in the former’s “Love Becomes Electric” and the latter’s “Wild Wild West”. Note: these songs sound nothing alike.

The Who and the Guess Who were the same band.

The Band were fictitious. No one where this came from. I think maybe I was vaguely aware of The Last Waltz and thought these were actors playing a band. Potential crossed wires when I became aware of other real fake bands like Spinal Tap and The Commitments.

Jeff Lynne from the Traveling Wilburys was not a real musician but actually somebody famous (not sure who… maybe an actor?) wearing a disguise.

Jane’s Addiction were Canadian and later, I’d confuse them with the Leslie Spit Treeo. The former’s “Been Caught Stealing” and the latter’s cover of John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” were both in rotation on 680 CFTR at the time. I think the opening of “Been…” with the dogs barking threw me somehow.

Spandau Ballet and Roxy Music were the same band.

Ice-T changed his name slightly and became Ice Cube.

Rumble was British. Aside: was there a more random one-hit wonder from this era? Some Jamaican guy from Toronto rapping over a Massive Attack song and hitting the Top 40.

James was a guy and then upon learning James was a band, assuming they were a heavy metal band. Later, I thought the song “Laid” was a Spirit of the West song. I was so confused.

Primus was a heavy metal band. Fair assumption since most people who liked Primus in 1993 were also into Metallica et all.

Pavement were a heavy metal band. The name just sounds heavy. There’s a scene in Pavement’s Slow Century DVD where Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore cops to making the same assumption. Also, I thought their drummer Steve West was the singer for the longest time.

Dinosaur Jr were from the UK. Reason: their 1994 release Without a Sound came out on the UK-based imprint Blanco y Negro which I naively assumed meant they must be British too.

Sloan were from Boston.

The Cranberries were from Canada.

Catherine Wheel was a lady. I’m assuming more than half of 102.1 listeners of the 1990s also made this assumption?

Molly Hatchet was a lady.

Bettie Serveert was a lady.

PJ Harvey was a dude.

Pop Will Eat Itself were German. This was based purely on their 1994 single “Ich Bin Ein Auslander”. Once I learned they were British, I tried to share this knowledge with anyone who cared (estimate: 3-4 people, tops) and always got massive push back from people who insisted they were German, namely because of this song and also, their hair. Pre-Internet, these debates raged for months.

Tha Dogg Pound were a band that contained Snoop Dogg Dogg, Nate Dogg and friends. 95 per cent certain that Suge Knight hoped that the record buying public would make the same assumption. They did briefly.


Sugar’s Beaster EP was actually an EP by the Beastie Boys. Beaster was one of those CDs you’d always see in vast quantities at used CD shops and whenever I’d catch a glance at this disc, I kinda just assumed it was a Beastie Boys’ release with some alternate spelling. In part, I think there was some confusion with the Beasties’ Some Old Bullshit EP that came out around the same time. Aside: has their even been a band with worse cover art than Sugar?

Buffalo Tom and Grant Lee Buffalo were the same band.

Tristan Psionic and SIANspheric were the same band.

Paul Weller and Paul Westerberg was the same dude.


The dude L.V. who sang the chorus of Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was Luther Vandross. Not sure if I really believed this or just WANTED to believe it. It would’ve been a really unlikely transformation and pretty funny that Vandross could up his cred by reducing his stage to sinister…. initials!!! Also kinda funny: the real L.V. stood for “large variety”.

Big Star influenced the Beatles. My roommate in first-year university told me this and I just went with this. Obviously, this timing makes no sense since the Beatles were toast by the time Big Star even formed.

Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom” was actually sung by David Bowie. Obviously some confusion RE: Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and no doubt, Schilling was hoping to profit from the confusion. Note: the voice on “Major Tom” sounded nothing like David Bowie.

Yo La Tengo and Pizzicato Five were the same band.

The Birthday Party and the Wedding Present were the same band. This was fueled by the same gaff made in Alan Cross’ first book The Alternative Music Almanac where they mislabeled a shot of the Wedding Present playing at Lee’s Palace as the Birthday. The horror!

Death Cab for Cutie were heavy.

Crystal Castles were from either Europe or Chicago.

Wolf Eyes and Japanther were the same band and both from Toronto. Neither/nor.

Deerhunter and Deerhoof were the same band. Also, Deerhunter were heavy.

Big K.R.I.T. was British. He laid down some rhymes over an Adele track, after-all.

Mac Miller and Mac DeMarco were the same dude.


Ignored 17: Cold-filtered Morrissey

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2013 at 3:53 am


A recent tweet by Alan Cross concerning a Ministry/Labatt Maxium advert from 1993 reminded me (in backhanded fashion) of what I believe to my introduction to the Smiths.

“How Soon is Now” was the song and no doubt, it left a mark. This was due in large part to Johnny Marr’s distinctively-wobbly guitar chord that basically oscillated into eternity and sounded like nothing else in popular music. Truly unforgettable.

Strangely, the song is a total island in the Smiths’ discography soundwise. It’s not jangly. It’s not snarky or glib. It is bleak. It’s confused. It’s a little bit scary. It drones in all the right ways. The video is kinda sorta perfect and in short, it’s a delight and a total classic in many respects.

Anyway: Ministry, Labatt Maxium, the Smiths… what’s the connection?

So yeah, much like the bizarre three-way dance Ministry “NWO”, Labatt Maximum and Michael Ironside, the brew crew pulled this same trick a few years earlier with our favourite troupe of Manchester mopes soundtracking.

Again, “How Soon is Now” was the song, Labatt Ice Beer was the beverage and the face was the late Alexander Godunov, the heel toe head from the original Die Hard movie.

The combination seems even more unusual in 2013 than it must’ve in 1990.

Perhaps there was a fan of Club 102 working in the Labatt marketing department during this era. Choosing tracks by Ministry and the Smiths (and the Cult) would seem to indicate as much. Whatever the case, I’m 95 per cent sure that seeing this TV commercial was the first time I had ever consciously heard the Smiths’ music. It was resonant even though I was neither a beer drinker (I was but a wee tween, after all) nor an Alexander Godunov completest. Unrelated, a Google image search of A-God shows that he had a ton of range in terms of acting, dancing and other sexy exploits and he resembled a young version of former WWE Heavyweight champion Triple H.

This commercial is ridiculous on a few levels.

Firstly, what kind of building is this? It’s either the world’s most unpopular lakeside lounge or (more likely) somewhere at Ontario Place. A-God is carrying around a crystal, which is I guess pretty cool. But the glass this establish (and I use this term loosely) provides doesn’t seem appropriate for beer consumption. A nice frosted tumbler would have been a better fit.

By the time A-God snarls, “Eeetz not ayes beeeeer” to close things out, the viewer is left with nothing but the pasty aftertaste of cliché futuristic “visions” and bad hair. Come to think of it, all three of the commercials mentioned basically took place in dark, seemingly post-apocalyptic environments. All the more reason to drink fortified beer, I suppose.

Whatever. The upshot is a variation of this product (Labatt Maximum Ice) has endured and “it does the job” if you catch my drift. Last I checked, the fantastic Imperial Library pub in downtown Toronto was still serving it in the hefty 1,183 ml. size. In general, ice beer was kind of a gimmick but I’m going to assume (hope?) it also introduced a few other Canadians to the suptuous wonders of the Smiths.

A pair of other Morrissey/Smiths’ video oddities…

Soho and their 1990 club smash “Hippychick” anyone? I could totally have my dates wrong as THIS may have been my first exposure to the Smiths. The whack Smiths/Soul II Soul mash-up (as played by members of Bow Wow Wow and the Bluetones) sounds like a terrible idea but this song is actually fairly decent and the video is a really fun time capsule of the era. This track was definitely not cool enough to be aesthetically lumped with the whole Stone Roses/Madchester thing but it was also just weird enough that it can’t justifiably be discarded to the Eurotrash compost pile (which is full of mulch and disintegrated Whigfield CDs BTW). From what I recall, this was actually a decent-sized hit in North America and was a cousin of sorts to the stuff the Timelords/KLF were doing.

One of those things I thought I imagined but apparently not. PBS seems like an odd spot for a Morrissey parody but whatever. There’s a strong message about velocity or something burried in the lyrics.