Posts Tagged ‘The Box’

Ignored 44: Notes from 1980s CanCon

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2014 at 1:05 am


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.


Ignored 1: You weren’t REALLY there

In Uncategorized on February 7, 2013 at 4:11 am


Bold Statement: On some level, music needs to be consumed in a timely manner to be best “experienced” although not necessarily best “appreciated”.

There is an expression that some (lame) first wave Baby Boomers are fond of: If you can remember the 1960s, you weren’t REALLY there.

Subtext: drugs, man!

This statement is ridiculous for various reasons. It glibly implies that to have REALLY experienced the 1960s, ideally, you’d have fried your brain on LSD and bad acid rock.

Sounds awesome!

It’s also a tad insensitive to those who have friends and/or loved ones suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. Or all grades of concussion victims. Or 90 per cent of pro boxers. Or old people, in general.

The frustrating part is that I guarantee that ANYBODY who ever uttered this phrase without irony would also contend that you can’t really “get” the Beatles or the Jefferson Airplane or Barry McGuire or whoever because again, you weren’t REALLY there.

This hypothetical person needs to be hypothetically slapped. However, he… she… this “spirit animal” actually raises an interesting point…

Is a person’s understanding (… and by understanding, I don’t mean appreciation) of music going to be predicated on whether they lived through it?

One could argue to the answer is “Yes”.


From about 1995 to the fall of 2004, I loved the Pixies. LOVED them. Even in 12th grade and more-or-less pre-Internet (pre-dawn AOL barely counts due to the five hours/month limit), I was somehow aware that I was supposed to like the Pixies if I was going to be a supporter of “cool music”. This was known. Even in Thornhill.

Big picture: it was an easy sell. For a supposed underground band, the Pixies were immediate. Their songs were exciting. They only had 60 or so songs total, which in a pre-iTunes age, made them easier to fully digest than somebody like Frank Zappa or the Smiths or Hagood Hardy.

They rocked in a conventional sense, wrote interesting lyrics in a literal sense and were weird in a non-threatening sense (with the possible exception of the track “Broken Face”, which would have been menacing if it wasn’t sung by a guy who looked like a really tall 5-year old).

Anyway, here is the point.

The Pixies shockingly reunited for a world tour in 2004. Most assumed that it’d be a one-and-done affair and the simmering tension between Black Francis and Kim Deal would give the reunion a shelf life. It was thought they might strike each other. I went to see them play by the airport in Toronto that fall. It was great and a bit surreal to see my (1a) favourite band of all-time in the flesh.

In the end… well, there actually isn’t an end to this annecdote. Because it’s almost a decade later and the Pixies reunion tour is STILL GOING ON (I think). No new music. Just reunion shows and then some reunion shows and then some gimmick-y reunion shows Let’s play Doolittle in its entirety! Let’s do a tour of places we’ve never played before!

Yeah. I don’t really begrudge any band for cashing in if/when they can since a majority of bands are going to get screwed by some combination of managers, agents, record labels, drug dealers and/or “dear, dear friends” at some point.

Bands come and go. Reunions happen. They don’t happen. They implode. Whatever! The fact remains, I pretty much stopped caring about the Pixies by spring of 2005. A year in, I was tired of reading about the reunion tour (already) and I had been listening to the same five dozen songs for the last decade. Vamos!

Token nautical reference: the ship had sailed.

The Pixies were not hard to give up. I loved them but they were easy to compartmentalize when the time came.

The reason is simple. By the time I got into the Pixies (1995), they had already been broken up for two years (that’s 1993 for all you dullards). Therefore, even when I discovered the Pixies, I was doing so in retrospect.

I was alive during their first incarnation but I was pretty much unaware of them so they might as well have been Black Flag or Mozart in terms of my ability to truly experience them with any sense of immediacy. I existed (in my own way) when they did. I just wasn’t paying attention.

I never had the experience of anticipating a new album, seeing fresh press photos, speculating on tour dates and other aspects that us music dorks lap up like so much rancid consommé.

To re-hash (see what I did there) what our hippie friends told us, I wasn’t really there.

Does this matter? Should this matter? Maybe. What I do know: it does to me. Dammit.

Effectively, I’m admitting that my experience with Eria Fachin or the Box is (partially) more genuine than my experience with the Pixies.

That’s OK. I think it’s true.

This is a major issue I take with music writers and record store clerks who laud a band like Kraftwerk. I have no doubt that Kraftwerk sounded alien in the mid-1970s. And I get that a lot of early hip-hop DJs would go squirrely mixing these austere pieces of German vinyl. That’s great. Sincerely.

However, there have been sooooooo many bands post-Kraftwerk that have morphed, evolved, adapted their bedrock into music that is denser, more soulful, more engaging and frankly, more memorable.

It’s opinion. I get it. But I can’t be in the minority here.

That’s not at all to suggest that Kraftwerk can’t be appreciated and it’s not a judgment on whether they were important or not. What it is is a statement saying that the segment of the population who TRULY experienced Kraftwerk is very small. Again, it’s resigned to serious music geeks of the mid-1970s, a few primordial hip-hop crate carriers and (assumedly) some random German people.

This leads to the phenomenon of the Journey song “Don’t Stop Believin’” and it’s preponderance amongst many under the age of 30. Largely, this song was introduced to a younger generation by the TV program Glee and less largely (but still significantly) by the final episode of The Sopranos.

I’d imagine that if you took a cross section of people who identify “Don’t Stop Believin’” as their favourite song (and it’s a big cross section considering it’s allegedly one of the top-selling songs in iTunes history), a good chunk of these individuals would picture the song being belted out by a bevy of SAG members in lieu of Steve Perry mincing about in a stained undershirt.

Again, I can not judge. I will not judge. However, I think it is fair to say that the Steve Perry/stained undershirt “vision” (and what a vision it is) is certainly a more accurate depiction of what the song was supposed to be… even it is not a reality of what it ultimately became.

So getting back to my Pixies example, I haven’t fully relapsed back into the outfit since they fell off my radar in 2005. Maybe I will some day. Maybe I won’t. But a consideration for why I likely won’t? I didn’t have the guttural pleasure of experiencing them in their original incarnation and therefore, something intrinsically is missing in my fandom.

And that’s the reason I’ll always feel more ownership and authenticity over my Eria Fachin/”Savin’ Myself” experience than anything in the entire pre-1992 4AD catalogue.

It’s reverence in hindsight.