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Posts Tagged ‘The Fat Boys’

Ignored 29: An education

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

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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.

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Ignored 28: No “Time Stand(s) Still”

In Uncategorized on March 6, 2014 at 5:02 pm

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It must’ve been tough for 1970s “arena rock” heroes to transition into the MTV era.

Many of these outfits were seemingly born-and-bred to be anonymous in a broader sense. For 90 per cent listeners (and I’m assuming even for a large segment of self-anointed “fans”), they would be hard pressed to identify the individual members of Journey, Foreigner, REO Speedwagon, Kansas, etc. Even their names were fairly interchangeable and aesthetically none of them veered from the “white guys with considerable hair” template that was popular at the time.

The music was primarily crafted to be sold via cassette at your local gas station and sound decent blasting out of an FM radio in a panel van. Sweeping generalization but you get the gist. For once in “show biz”, looks didn’t (really) matter.

This model extended to Canada. We birthed outfits with names like Prism, Saga and Triumph. These might sound like video game studios or marketing agencies but NO! These were actual bands with guitars and drug problems and the like.

Occasionally in Canada, the model veered. Most interestingly, there was Aldo Nova and later, Alta Moda.

To summarize…

* Aldo Nova: Some dude from Montreal who was most notable for his butt rock classic “Fantasy”. The track featured a memorable video where Monsieur Nova emerged from a helicopter and shot lasers from his guitar. He did this while dressed like a leopard. While the clip is textbook 1980s cheese, the Wikipedia entry is almost as good.

* Alta Moda: A “funk rock” band out of Toronto who didn’t sound anything like Faith No Moore or Fishbone. Molly Johnson was in this band. Its Wikipedia entry is mainly about racist things.

So confusing.

Anyway, Rush were another top 1970s “arena rock” band. They were/are wildly popular in their native Canada and around the world. You could argue they were more well-positioned for MTV era since they were slightly more theatrical than Foreigner or Triumph. They spent parts of the 1970s wearing kimonos, after all.

Aside: Did Greg Norton of Hüsker Dü cop kimono-era Neil Peart‘s “steez” or were they both ultimately just ripping off Rollie Fingers?

Rush made a lot of videos during the 1980s. The clip for “Tom Sawyer” showed the boys trying to cram as many instruments as humanly possible into a really weird looking cottage. “Subdivisons” is a great video for spotting Toronto’s trash culture of yore and if you took out the music and added dialogue, it could pretty much double as an episode of Degrassi Jr High.

 

“Time Stand Still” was another Rush video of this era and it was a doozy! It was directed by Polish auteur/vowel hater Zbigniew Rybczyński, who boasted a long and really bizarre track record of working with artists who were completely dissimilar: the Art of Noise, the Fat Boys, Yoko Ono, Supertramp, Herb Alpert, Jimmy Cliff, etc.

The video was filmed in New York City against a green screen and features the band floating around while playing their instruments. Joining Rush in their floaty efforts was guest vocalist Aimee Mann, who was in the dying days of the underrated ‘Til Tuesday at the time this track was recorded in early 1987-ish.

Zbig’s motives for the clip weren’t and still aren’t entirely clear but one thing he knew: he simply MUST see the members of Rush floating around randomly and Aimee Mann must spend part of the time pretending to use a video camera(?!?). The effect is less “WTF” and more “Sure, whatever” in hindsight. Ostensibly, this was statement.

Here are a few thoughts from the clip’s editor from his website:

Zbig had shot footage of country landscapes for Rush. The idea was to shoot short pieces of Rush performing the song against green screen, then composite them together. When we started working, Zbig decided he loved the stage and wanted to composite Rush over that instead. I suggested that we shoot them live in the stage, but Zbig wanted everyone to “float” around it. He also insisted that everything had to happen “live.” Each new layer would be placed on top of the preceding layer without making protection copies or “laying off” a copy, as we used to say. The green screen footage was shot with the same giant studio camera Aimee Mann is using in the video. Zbig would give some vague direction to Rush; I would set up the effects, play the audio track and press record, causing multiple one-inch tape machines to roll up on the third floor. For 3 days in a row. It didn’t matter what time it was. If Zbig got an idea at 3 in the morning, he’d wake everyone up (I was sleeping in the control room) and we would all go to work. We started the Rush video on Saturday morning and finished Tuesday night. Wednesday morning Mr. Mister moved in.

The thought of Zbig waking up in a cold sweat and barking, “I must see Peart AND his drum kit upside down NOW!!!” is comical. However, it’s way too easy to poke fun at this video out context.

For those who have seen the great-even-if-you-hate-the-band documentary Beyond the Lighted Stage, the members of Rush reveal themselves to be as virtuous at comedy as they are at music. Therefore, it’s somewhat safe to assume that Geddy and pals knew full well the “Time Stand Still” video was a bit of a lark.

If so, this was pretty forward thinking for 1987. The “so bad, it’s good” post-ironic wave that hit popular culture in the 1990s was still years away. And yet Rush had the good humour (and good sense) to release a video that wasn’t artistic and wasn’t really anything beyond (yes) band members and Aimee Mann floating around over mildly-interesting file footage. The video was cheap and that was the point.

Lo-and-behold, this approach became common place years later, typified by the following high-concept clips:

* White Zombie sings “Thunder Kiss ‘65”

* Elastica sings “Stutter” (via the Buzzcocks)

* Stone Temple Pilots sings “Big Bang Baby”

* M.I.A. sings “Galang” (via Neneh Cherry)

* Etc.

“Time Stand Still”/“Time Stands Still” indeed.