“God’s got an answer in that jukebox,
I pick the wrong song every time.”
I pick the wrong song every time.”
I turned down a Cadillac ride from Vancouver to Seattle with Art Bergmann and a one-time muse of Guy Maddin. The prospect of a cross-border raid (to which my not-yet-ex was pointedly dis-invited) led by the man who’d screamed out his response to the musical question, “What is your reason for entering the USA?” with the chorus; “Guns and Her-o-i-i-in!” was unnerving. I’m not opposed to celebrity-stalking or name-dropping but the set-up stank. So to avoid becoming an unwitting drug mule or a voyeuristic tag along, I declined.
It was 1991 and it was what must have been, by the standards of Art Bergmann’s career, a good year. In the years previous, the Vancouver punk legend had played with the Schmorgs, the K-Tels, the Young Canadians, Los Popularos and, after giving up the band name Poisoned, he'd put out two solo albums. In 1991 he’d released a stinging, yet wide-appealing, self-titled solo album that got the push from Polygram (even the terrible music store where I worked got a play copy and slick posters). And while those used CD shops of Vancouver (of the type that sprouted up across North America in the 90’s) were full of Art Bergmann play copies that he’d pawned himself, his name was still spoken of reverently in critical circles. While Art sang on "Bound for Vegas" that he was, “a never-was trying to be a has-been on the comeback trail”, he was being lauded as “Canada’s Paul Westerberg”. Art did share a gruff vocal style, an unflinching honesty and a crippling addiction with Westerberg but rather than cleave to a mid-western rock n' roll style, Art adhered to the gutter junkie-poet archetype typified by Lou Reed. Reed's former collaborator, John Cale, even produced Art's solo debut solo –though he supposedly hated the results.
(For more Art history see the sad, yet wonderfully thorough tribute site, For the Love of Art or the new and excellent-looking artbergman.com or even this frequently Googled post of mine.)
Art built a reputation for furious live shows (I saw Poisoned rip through a set at Verna’s a tiny basement club just outside of Winnipeg’s notorious Murder’s Half Acre) where he honed the songs herein. And what songs; “Remember Her Name” with it’s heart-chilling chorus that pays to tribute to Marianne Faithful, the tortured ballad, "Guns and Heroin"and the vindictive pop kiss-off that is, “God's Little Gift” - a song which the mercurial Dylan of '66 might sympathize with.
Irritatingly, the quality of music production declined seriously in the 80's and Art's muse was occasionally bloodied by studio hacks - listen closely and it stops mattering.
So take this ride with Art (the former-muse spoke well of him), and find out how often he chose the exact right song. Guns and Heroin, a compilation of Art's solo material from 1986-1995, is not available in stores at any cost; it exists only in MRML’s hard drive. It was cherry-picked from the following releases: the Poisoned S/T e.p., Crawl With Me, Sexual Roulette, What Fresh Hell is This? and Vultura Freeway.
Download Art Bergmann - Guns and Heroin (1986-1995)
(MRML recommends WinrRAR for unpacking your downloads)
The first two Art Bergmann solo album are available from Itunes, Bearwood Reords is now advertising a forthcoming CD of the demos for the first solo album that Cale supposedly ruined, Other People's Music has a later recording entitled Design Flaw for sale and the K-Tels/Young Canadians compilation No Escape is available Sudden Death Records.