“Sludgeabilly” was Gerald Van Herk’s self-description of his band, Deja Voodoo, a Canadian two-piece psychobilly-swamp-punk band that sounded like the Cramps with a denser, leaner, cruder taste for pre-rock blues. Fifteen years later that sound could get you on the front of Rolling Stone but in the cultural vacuum that was the late 1980’s almost no could hear Deja Voodoo scream. They toured the country by Greyhound and started one of the most diverse yet cohesive indie labels of all-time: Og Records. Og pilloried the vacuousness of the nineteen-eighties by pushing bands bands who were a hundred different shades of anachronistic: Western-Swing, gospel-punk, garage rock, country blues, psychedelic, 77 punk, lounge-jazz, faux girl-group and cow-punk and I’ve just begun. It was the vinyl era and the five-volume 'It Came From Canada' series (the icfucks as Gerald called them) sent me on a nationalistic music bender, which I never regretted.
They also inspired me to form a band and perform one earth-shattering show for fourteen close personal friends, thirteen of whom were still close personal friends after we finished. We performed two songs; a butchered cover of Billy Bragg's ‘Strange Things Happen’ and an original called ‘Socialized Hairdressing’ and then we served pizza. Don’t count it against Gerald it’s not really his fault.
The Dik Van Dykes worshipped one of the all-time great neglected bands (The Rezillos) and hence they were the Og band I loved the most. Musical comedy is a Canadian Weakness but The Diks pulled it off with scads of aplomb. The songs are hummable, if mangled, and the lyrics will return a thousand joys - even if you never understand them all.
Deja Voodoo was an acquired taste which seeing their flailing live concerts finally imparted me with. (Their live introductions were spot-on, “This is a song about my girlfriend. It’s called My Girlfriend. “This is a song about Saskatchewan – it’s called Big Pile of Mud.) This is their most distinctive album – enjoy.
My Dog Popper was not an Og-affiiliated band that I listened to a lot but two considerable music guys (Mike Koop of a million Winnipeg bands including Kicker and Winston of Nuclear Armed Hogs blog) requested it – so here it be. Sorry for the lack of cover art (it is is one album well-served by its cover) and the dodgy sound quality.