Posts Tagged ‘Lou Reed’
A “2014 – the year in music” chat with my pal Adam that has very little to do with “2014 – the year in music”.
Cam: I have a web chat I want to do with you for a blog post: a “2014 – the year in music” post for two guys who aren’t really in tune with the latest/greatest music-wise. Vague concept but the subtext is that certain bands remind you of certain times in your life, irrespective of when the music is actually from. For example, when I first graduated from university and had my first job, I was really only listening to the first five R.E.M. albums, for some reason. I still don’t know why this happened.
Adam: 2014 musically for me: he year I became a more regular iTunes purchaser. Easier, cross platforms, no ripping. My Wilco fandom continued to rise and I really, really enjoyed Tweedy’s solo album. Saw it live at TURF this summer and liked every song I heard the first time. Then, I had to wait until the album finally came out in September. Concerts before the album seems more rare. I downloaded and listened to a lot from the spring 1990 Grateful Dead box set with the Omni show in Atlanta becoming one of my favorite newly-discovered shows. Wonderful second set of “Foolish Heart”, “Looks Like Rain” and “He’s Gone”. The beauty of wonderful song transitions. This was the year I realized I may not be seeing the Dead much more as Bobby cancelled the whole tour and Phil is doing long stands at terrapin and the capital theatre. Perhaps that led to my dialling up the Wilco knob towards 11. Added Wilco at Red Rocks to my bucket list. What else. Oh! The discovery of 106.5 Voices radio late in the work season was a special experience. “Ghost radio”, as we call it. Random inexplicable and novelty on a new scale. I’ll think of more once I can scan through my iTunes to see what else is new.
C: Awesome recap! I like how listening to music from the past is always the real measure of a “year in music” recap for most hardcore music fans. It’s why year-end issues of Rolling Stone or whatever never held much interest because truthfully, twelve months of music fandom can’t be limited to music that comes out in that calendar year. I saw some good shows this year: Slowdive, Beach House, Mogwai, Stephen Malkmus. All nostalgia largely but considering I probably listened to more of the Brian Jonestown Massacre this year than any other band, it seems fitting. I re-discovered checking out legit “new bands” early in the year too via Wavelength and Long Winter show. It reminded me of how fun it can be to check out really young bands, even if I have no intention of checking them out beyond those shows. I saw Alvvays and Pup at a library, which was also cool and atypical. So do you basically feel tapped on Dead/Dead-related stuff at this point? Does it make you sad on some level? I’d liken it to reading a really good book and that feeling of semi-dread knowing that there’s only 50 pages left and that void that’s on the horizon. There’s also that morbid silver lining when an artist passes that people tend to revisit their work with a slightly difference perspective. Albeit, very skewed in the immediate. Your Dead is my Pavement. That band was so important to me, as a music fan and to me, personally. They influenced my sense of humour, how I interact with people, the ways I’ve managed my career. Big picture stuff! I don’t know. I think some bands/music brings a point of view that extends far beyond the songs coming out of the speakers. I could probably bring myself to tears just looking at the cover art for Wowee Zowee and yet I’m sure somebody could listen to that album for the first time in 2014 and find it, at top dollar best, “slightly boring indie rock with 2-3 country songs uncomfortably mixed in”.
A: Yes, I am sad about [the Dead going away]. I also am not really willing to do a trip to see Phil at the capital outside New York, mainly because of the driving time and money and needing to coordinate someone else to do that with. Road tripping is a funny business if you’re finicky as I can sometimes be. It’s far. Fuck that. I always drive to western New York shows religiously and still would. Saw Bob Dylan play there in February and drove down alone. Met up with some friends. Found a miracle ticket outside the show that was sold out. Second set: “Iko Iko” was the highlight. I’ve seen Bobby or Phil About 25 times over the years. It’s my favorite music and I’m an unabashed dancer at shows. That’s where you get to do it in the midst of the thousands, also basking in that. All while singing along to your very favorite songs you know by heart. I wished I liked Phish more than I did, as they’re fun like that and I’ve gone to two shows in the last two years. Their live show is a completely different beast compared to their albums. Not a Dead show other than the crossover on the Venn diagram, the spirit and influence that spawned it. It’s still called “Shakedown Street” outside in the lot for a reason. Same crowd. Much more frenetic pace and faster dancing to be sure. Music that people on MDMA would love. Dead music was for pot and LSD. I’ll say that whereas I’d be up on the lawn for a Dead show, for phish, you want to be in the pit or lower bowl. Where the energy builds. The pit in Toronto last summer was amazing. Getting the energy from the crowd pour down on you was a trip. So there’s hope. Wilco gives me that for sure. Nels is fantastic at helping you lose your shit. Check out the Ashes of American Flags (actually just watch the whole thing) versions of “Impossible Germany”, “Side with the Seeds” or “Handshake Drugs” to see what I’m talking about. That’s my fucking jam, that is. I dance to the static at the end. It’s the funniest. I just like 4/4 time, I do. Also, I’m a total sucker for 3/4 time. “Norwegian Wood”, “Ashes and Fire” by Ryan Adams, “You’ve Ruined Me Now” by Norah Jones. That’s another episode.
Cam: I don’t think I’ve ever asked: are you a vinyl guy? CDs seem to have the least amount of resonance as collectibles as music fans. One theory: the glut of shitty AOL “one month free” CD-ROMs in the mid-1990s rendered the format pretty much disposable, even when you were paying $18-20 for a new release. It seems like music being analog-ish in any respect just seems more tangible. Also, I think the ability to skip tracks on demand totally changed the way people listen to albums. Now, we see that x1,000,0000 with MP3s/iPods.
Adam: Fuck vinyl. I couldn’t like it less. It’s absurd to me how horrifically inconvenient it is, overriding the audiophile thing. CDs got a shitty rap up front because all those original CDs were AAD (remember that?). Once they started remastering stuff, I never cared to look back. I also don’t get mono. The Beatles in Mono? Fuck that! Didn’t they hear the stereo versions? Had the Pet Sounds that came with mono and stereo? Deleted all mono tracks. I simply don’t get it. Unless the sound of shitty audio is nostalgic. I grew up on vinyl. I still hear a skip in “American Pie” because the the scratched LP my parents had. Yes, CDs became disposable but I loved my Discman and my Walkman before that. I remember once seeing this portable record player thing at Woolco at Towne and Countrye Square.
C: I’m OK with vinyl but I kind of see vinyl like I see pets: it’s a good experience at somebody else’s house or in public but I have no desire to have one in my own home. I don’t buy this “vinyl sounds warmer” argument that a lot of vinyl dorks will throw out, esp. when they’re listening to it through shitty dime-store speakers they lifted from grandma’s basement or a flea market. Maybe the sound is slightly different and there’s a bit of crackle but to me, vinyl in 2014 is more a statement by the owner than it is a statement about the music. It’s a brand: “I’m the type of person who buys vinyl because it says something about me”. I do like vinyl purely from a collectible standpoint. Perhaps because it subconsciously reminds me of collecting baseball cards. I miss album art and liner notes. A lot. 1989 Topps was the first complete baseball card set I managed to complete. I guess Grateful Dead collectors would be the closest equivalent? The only other bands offhand I can think that inspire that “collector mentally” (based on sheer volume of product) would be the Beatles, Frank Zappa, Guided by Voices and the Fall. At least with Zappa and GBV, I think the completists try to grab everything because it “exists” rather than because its necessarily “good”.
C: Did you see Dylan this fall?
A: Nope. Have seen him a dozen times but the experience has fallen off sharply the last 3-4 years. Larry Campbell left his band and there’s less and less I enjoy about it. Saw him close Americanarama last summer after My Morning Jacket and Wilco. A major drag. Id be going to get one, maybe two sweet harp solos. You can’t go I. With expectations and he can surprise you but the values not there for a shoe you hope to try and enjoy by force of will. Have been listening to a ton of time out of mind though.
C: You know what’s sad? Certain concerts where the ticket buying decision is measures on the “This show will probably suck but this guy might be dead soon” scale. Felt this way about the last local shows for Neil and Leonard Cohen.
A: The band he had for the Never Ending Tour with Larry Campbell leading it was fantastic. it carried the shows. I still like Bob’s albums and I don’t want to be a complainer about live Bob, because you’ve got to know what to expect going in. but at Americanarama, it was the most lackluster “Desolation Row” I can ever recall. It broke for me. especially after Wilco and My Morning Jacket. Actually, it broke for me when Bob played the ACC with Foo Fighters opening. The first sub-par Dylan show post-Larry. Then, I went to see a show up at Rama, which ranks as the worst concert I’ve ever seen in the worst venue. That broke it good. Then, went to see him in Oshawa maybe three years ago, which was pretty decent. Passed on Lewiston last year and here we are now. it’s a weird strange thing when you don’t want to see the people you love anymore.
C: Yeah, the fact Bob played Casino Rama, Oshawa, Air Canada Centre, now Sony Centre… I dunno… this is fuckin’ Bob Dylan and he’s kinda just getting trotted out to whatever room will have him. Did the Rama experience taint him for you? It just sounds really, really sad. Like when you see old ballplayers all broken down and sitting at some folding table at a memorabilia show, signing crap for $25 a pop.
A: Have you watched Festival Express?
C: No. Always have meant to check that out. Do you consider the Band a 1960s band? On paper they should be since their most prominent work and Woodstock happened that decade. But they somehow, they don’t seem of that era. They’re a really unique band to me: if a lot of their shit came out today, it’d still seem contemporary and yet they recorded it 40 years ago and even then, I think they were trying to seem old timey. I’d love to read a oral history-type article of the Band in the 1980s and early 1990s. When they were releasing all those albums people didn’t like or didn’t care about (like the one with big pig face) and yet they continued to plow ahead.
A: Levon’s This Wheel’s on Fire is that book. Couldn’t bring myself to read it. Didn’t want to hate Robby.
C: That’s sad. The 1980s were a real awkward stage for a lot of artists when music switched to become a more visual medium. Id put Robbie, Lou Reed, George Harrison, the Stones all in this category. Their videos esp. from this era tend to be pretty cringe worthy. Misguided attempts to get on MTV.
A: … but 1988 was a turning point!
C: Yeah but you also got the “it’s the 1990s so time to get real and grow a goatee” approach adopted by people like Bruce and Jack McDowell. You know what was really terrible? Mid/late 1980s Robert Plant. “Tall Cool One” et all. Just really weak and poorly thought out.
A: We aren’t going to talk about goatee’d Bruce. It’s dangerous territory. “In the Mood” by Plant is good.
C: Yes. Once they grow a goatee and engage in photo-shoots featuring B&W pics of them not smiling, the tide has clearly turned. Another trope of bad 1980s: bringing in sassy female back-up singers in inexplicable places. Such as…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V7btcksg7z8
A: Hold on, you’re going after Petty? He has a short bad album window. He was hitting his early stride in the early 1980s, then toured with Dylan, Roger McGuin and the Dead. Royalty. Then, the accident and Full Moon Fever, the Wilburys. Artist of the decade. Shit. But go watch the Stones’ Steel Wheels video (At the Max is fantastic) for the classic back-up ensemble.
C: I dunno. I’m feeling all feisty after not having thought about Plant’s “Tall Cool One” for 10-15 years and forgetting about how shitty a lot of 1980s production was: this tendency to slot in back-up singers, keyboards, etc. where they didn’t necessarily belong. You know “Tall Cool One” sampled a bunch of Zep tunes (according to the music website Wikipedia)? Just total garbage and very indistinguishable from the equally weak Robert Palmer tune “Simply Irresistible” from around the same era. Truth: I thought Robert Plant and Robert Palmer were the same guy for a long, long while before I knew anything about music. I mean…. they were both named Robert!!!
A: PS:. Loving the new tweedy album. Though I’ve deleted the first and fourth songs Mixed guilt about taking out the songs I don’t like. Weird huh?
C: At least you make an effort to appreciate albums in any form still. That’s rare.
A: I’ve been enjoying buying things from iTunes. I still download movies, but actually bought both the iTunes movie and the soundtrack from Chef. Bought a soundtrack! When’s the last time I did that? Just decided not to buy the deluxe Fully Completely on CD and instead iTunes downloaded. Otherwise, I’m just ripping it into my Mac anyways. And no tax. Strange feeling about it.
C: I’d recommend you check out this. Weird renditions. Weirder audience. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUmMkD1fdIo
A: That was kinda awful. The signing cheerleaders was an interesting touch.
C: Yeah, that Neil rendition of “USA” is really, really strange. I assume he’s trying to be provocative… or maybe not? He used to be really cheeky and self-aware when he wanted to be but I hate to say: I think he’s kinda just old or scattered at this point. No idea what the deal with the cheerleaders is. Did you like that song “This Note’s For You”? I still hear it from time-to-time on Q107. I’m not sure it’s even a good song but I like listening to it, if that makes sense. Unrelated, not sure if you listen to the Marc Maron podcast but he had a really good one recently with Chrissie Hynde from the Pretenders. I’ve always liked the music w/o being a big, big fan but I kinda love her after this. She’s mid-60s and been around for more than 30 years but still sounds so enthused about music in a really basic, pure way. I love that she came out of the teenage Bowie/Lou Reed/punk sphere and then formed this band that was a straight-up rock and roll/power pop band, akin to a female fronted Heartbreakers. I forgot she was married to Ray Davies AND that annoying dude from Simple Minds:
Some stray thoughts on the song “Joey” by Concrete Blonde.
Is it fair to consider Concrete Blonde a goth band? Or at least “goth band adjace”? Yes, they were moody and kinda brooding although would we even be having this discussion if it weren’t for the fact that they once had a song called “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)”? If you check out their early hits like “God is a Bullet”, they were pretty much hard rock, looking like the Cult and sounding like the 4th and 5th Joan Jett albums. I’m curious if “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” was a conscious attempt at a rebrand, not unlike the Black Rebel Motorcycle and their fairly forgettable tune “Whatever Happened to My Rock ‘n’ Roll (Punk Song)”.
I like when “Joey” was featured on an episode (“One Man and a Baby“) of Beverly Hills 90210 where Brandon started hanging out with a teenage mother who had an infant called (spoiler alert) Joey. So literal. This babies-having-babies swerve was the second most memorable placement of modern rock du jour in the first couple of seasons of “Bev”. The first most memorable is the episode (“Beach Blanket Brandon“) where Dylan listened to “Losing my Religion” by R.E.M. as he and Brenda broke up inside a parked car at the beach. Third place: obviously, the season five episode (“Love Hurts“) where the Flaming Lips showed up at the Peach Pit After Dark and Ian Ziering famously declared, “I’m not usually a fan of alternative music, but these guys rock the house!”
Thanks to that guy on the Internet who pointed out that “Joey” was Concrete Blonde’s attempt to fuse itself with mid-period Pretenders. They morphed sound-wise and image-wise. It’s fair to say that Concrete Blonde and the Pretenders were the same band for a 6-8 months stretch in 1992, not unlike when Lou Reed and Robbie Robertson strangely became the same guy for a brief period in the late 1980s, as pointed out in #ignored18.
Canada’s version of Concrete Blonde around this time was National Velvet.
The first six years of MuchMusic were underrated as outlet for youngsters to experience legit Canadian-produced episodic viewing.
This was years before Much regressed into its “do they even play music videos anymore, man?!?” phase. And yet, many CanCon hits of that original era had videos that basically amounted to bite-sized television shows. Flimsy story archs, piss-poor acting, sets that looked suspiciously like that industrial park in Rexdale where your Uncle Steve worked, etc. What many 1980s CanCon videos lacked in quality, they made up for in…. uh, pinache?
Like pretty much everything else, many of these “television shows” are now available on YouTube. Collectively, they are pretty entertaining when taken at face value.
These are seven of my favourite CanCon video narratives of 1984-1989. Spoiler alert: the text below is full of spoilers!
Doug and the Slugs sing “Day by Day”
Summary: Doug learns he gets dropped from his record label by an evil robot boss. All his stuff gets repoed, including a potted plant. Doug is now a vagrant. He decides to start his own record label in an shabby office. His bandmates help Doug with his fledgling SMB, largely by carrying boxes of records into the back of an awaiting van. Things start to happen for Doug’s label (Propaganda Records). Doug ponders options on a rooftop in downtown Vancouver. Doug and the Slugs eventually sell tons of records via Propaganda. Sadly, the label’s office still looks terrible. The End.
The Pursuit of Happiness sing “Hard to Laugh”
Summary: Moe Berg sorts old photos of (assumedly) he and an ex-girlfriend. It appears his relationship is over. All her stuff goes in a cardboard box, which he then kicks with authority. Looking a bit like a taller Axl Rose, Moe carries the box full of belonging down the street, past some construction workers laying asphalt. He runs toward a garbage truck and he pitches the box into the rubbish pile with a look that can be best described as, “Good riddance!” Smash cut to the dump. Moe is digging around with a shovel. Seems like he wants the box back for some reason. The End.
The Box sing “Crying Out Loud for Love”
Summary: The guy from the Box is driving WAY to fast down a narrow coastal road. He looks blankly at a decrepit barn. The scene now switches to some fine-looking lady riding a ferry, gazing yonder. She is really rockin’ the windblown look! Back to the dude from the Box, he’s still driving except now he’s also smoking a cigarette and chugging from a full bottle of Sunny Delight. Whoa! He’s also now driving on the wrong side of the road. This guy is clearly a bad seed! He decides to take a break by the seaside to smoke another cigarette and remember happier times with the windblown lady. He put his hazards on, at least, when he parked. Now, SHE is smoking in a dark room with venetian blinds. He pulls into a seedy motel. Uh-oh!! The final shot shows windblown lady looking quite sad, while starring out the window. The End.
Boys Brigade sing “Melody”
Summary: A great shot of a rather skimpy looking Toronto skyline. We’re now in a bar called After Midnight with a disproportionate amount of fellas with receding hairlines. It seems like an afterwork place because some people are dressed in suits. Boys Brigade play while the odd person dances. A dark-haired lady (can we assume THIS is Melody?) flashes some bedroom eyes and looks like a young Anjelica Huston in the process. She’s quite the dish and wearing a vinyl jumpsuit. Here’s Melody on the dance floor! She totally working it and yet appear stone sober. #YOLO A badass named Sam enters the bar. He’s wearing a red t-shirt and leather jacket. As he shoved the door man out of the way, Sam clearly is not somebody you’d like to meet in a dark alley. He drinks some other guy’s drink, right out of his hand. Ballsy! Just as Melody is about to start macking on the singer from Boys Brigade (who sounds like Lou Reed BTW), Sam confronts Melody and leads her off the dance floor. It appears her night at the After Midnight may be cut short. Random shots of bar patrons and some slow motion shots of Melody dancing and spinning. The menacing Sam is suddenly M.I.A.. Melody is now writhing and clutching the walls. She wants the singer from Boys Brigade in the worst way. Melody now vanishes into thin air on the dance floor. Total WTF?? The End.
Jane Siberry sings “One More Colour”
Summary: Jane Siberry is walking a cow near a cottage. She is in a kitchen with what appears to be a cow puppet. She may be on the verge of some baking. She pours a cup of tea and the cow puppet watches. Jane and the cow puppet look out the window to see Jane walk the actual cow. Just stay with me here… Her outfit has a vaguely Russian look to it. More walking the cow while singing. The cow chews its cud. Jane dances a bit. She looks like she doesn’t have a care in the world. Jane and cow pass two old people who are looking at something in the sky. There’s now a kid in a cabin, watching a reel-to-reel film while a cherry picker is parked outside. It appears to be a science film, maybe. By Gawd… Jane and the cow are now right outside the cabin! Jane gives the signal and the guy driving the cherry picker causes the walls of the cabin to collapse. The inhabitants appear as if they’re having a religious moment. The cow still looks unimpressed. Oh, and the roof? It’s dangling from the lift on the cherry picker. More walking with the cow. A bunch of other randoms look up at the sky, and Jane w/ cow keep walking. The End.
Luba sings “Let It Go”
Summary: The weather sucks. Wait a minute! Here comes… Luba: the blimp!! Luba and friends wave from the mighty air vessel. Luba sings her song while flanked by a bunch of avant-garde types. A crowd gathers on ground and jump up-and-down in excitement, at the site of the blimp. This was clearly shot on a green screen. The crowd on the ground is very eclectic and includes punks, dweeb and b-boys, amongst other cultural archetypes. There’s now a big, fiery explosion behind Luba but nobody gets hurt or even notices. One of Luba’s pals is wearing a colander on his head. The blimp floats away. I always liked this song. The video is not unlike the Parachute Club’s “Rise Up” except it’s in the air instead of in the streets of Toronto. The End.
Kim Mitchell sings “Go for Soda”
Summary: An 1980s teen (holding a phone) says to another 1980s teen, “These girls don’t want to have anything to do with us, man”. The second teen looks sad. The talker is holding the phone and the wall is covered in writing. In short, it looks like they’re squatters. The Teen #2 says in a really odd voice, “Gimme that!!” RE: the telephone receiver. Teen #1 lumbers off into their disgusting living room. Teen #1 smokes a cigarette while Kim Mitchell is on the TV. Big moment: a pint-sized Kim jumps out of the TV (yes, you read that right) and lands on the coffee table, scaring the (crap) out of Teen #1. Kim dances funny and admonishes Teen #1 for his smoking. Kim’s hair and mannerisms kind of resemble Iggy Pop although his hairline is already really suffering at this point. Anyway, Kim kicks the cigarette towards Teen #1 who juggles it. Kim then proceeds to stomp on the remote TV changer until it lands on a news report that (I think) is about people dying from cigarettes and alcohol. The newscaster throws his notes out of the TV, slammed his toupee on the news desk and walks off screen. Seriously unprofessional; Tom Gibney would never pull a move like that. More channel stomping by Kim and we have a five-second segment that is somewhat similar to the video for Ministry’s “N.W.O.”. Teen #1 tries to grab Kim but he narrowly avoids it and ends up on a windowsill. Basically, this is what it would be like to have a leprechaun or imp running amok in your house. Kim jumps back into the TV and gives us some hot guitar licks. Then, a full-sized Kim appears, dressed like he’s going to do some aerobics. He asks Teen #1 to come with him into the other room. There’s a big flash and all of a sudden, not only is Kim really small again but his equally diminutive band have now joined him, for an impromptu performance in the refrigerator. Considering these teens appear destitute, there’s a decent selection of fresh produce in the refrigerator. One of the tiny musicians kicks a tomato. Splat! More hot guitar licks and then a tiny audience appears just above the egg tray for some good-natured fist pumping. By this point, Teen #1 is digging this whole scenario and head-bobbing to the song. All of the sudden, the four-piece band turn into four cans of soda. Teen #1 enthusiastic grabs an orange soft drink and pours a generous swig into his mouth. Strangely, the can doesn’t touch his lips so the soft drank basically cascades into his mouth. Full-sized Kim is back but he now appears to be a ghost. Teen #1 doesn’t care in the slightest. He is rockin’ out hard! Kim disappears and re-emerges on the TV (where he belongs) for the final time. Looking a bit overwhelmed and slightly stoned, Teen #1 floats back to the kitchen. He hangs up Teen #2’s phone conversation and says, “Might as well go for a soda”. Teen #2 looks confused and slightly pissed. The End.