Tuesday, June 30, 2009

D.O.A. - Murder

(Thanks to musicgraphik for the image)

With the departure of lead-guitarist Dave Gregg, who kinda-almost-sorta played Mick Jones to Joey Shithead's Joe Strummer, in 1988, something great about D.O.A was lost forever. However, any band led by Joey Shithead is D.O.A. To be fair, 1990's Murder, their first album with new guitarist Chris "Humper" Prohom, has surprising strength, especially considering the dull swill many other survivors of the hardcore era were producing by that time.

The video for the electrifying opening track, "We Know What You Want" is, all budgetary limitations aside, quite excellent. It crosses Three Stooges slapstick with a David Mamet-styled satire of the bottom-feeders of capitalism. (Take special note of the mugging of wrestling legend Gene Kiniski, fresh off his appearance with Joey and Jello Biafra in the film, Terminal City Ricochet). The albums also boasts the finger-pointin', shout-that-chorus rocker, "The Agony and the Ecstasy" and the harmonica-driven "Concrete Beach".

The creeping fatigue, however, is hard to ignore. Out of thirteen tracks on the album two ("Where Evil Grows, "Midnight Special"), are covers, two are re-recordings of old tracks ("Waiting for You", "The Warrior Lives Again") another track ("No Productivity") dates back to Brian Goble's old band, The Subhumans and finally "Concrete Beach" is a song they'd been playing live since at least 1985. Something Better Change, indeed.

Download D.O.A. - Murder L.P.

Suuport the band!
Sudden Death
Alternative Tentacles

Monday, June 29, 2009

D.O.A. - True (North) Strong and Free

D.O.A. (see here) took some half-steps in their career. The 1987 album, True (North) Strong and Free (from a line in the Canadian National Anthem, "Oh, Canada") was one such curious half-step. On the one hand, it clearly continues the commercial aspirations of Let's Wreck the Party, especially on their fun but kinda slight take on Randy Bachman's "Takin' Care of Business".

On the other hand, it's also sort of a step back towards their grubby punk origins as exemplified by re-recording of their 1979 b-side,"Nazi Training Camp". It's at this point in their career that D.O.A. become to Canada what Motorhead are to England and what the Ramones were to America: a shifting aggregation, led by a singer most distinctive, who relentlessly circle the globe in an almost evangelical dedication to spreading the primal ferocity of rock n' roll.

Of course any single point of comparison falls apart when you listen to the sing-along, almost pop arrangements of a song like "Endless Sky" or the witty '77-style punk of "Lumberjack City", or even this album's funk-rock track, "Ready to Explode' which almost resembles some kind of old Leadbelly song at times. D.O.A. never claimed they'd abide by anyone's critical assessment.

Download True (North) Strong and Free L.P.

Here's D.O.A learning "Takin' Care of Business" at my old stompin' grounds (Wellington's) in the time just before I was able to sneak in.
Do not miss this follow-up interview with local celebrity Dan Pachette who filmed a lot of great bands for his public access show, Alternative Rockstand.

Support the band!
Sudden Death
Alternative Tentacles

Sunday, June 28, 2009

D.O.A. - Let's Wreck the Party

(A awkward album cover - the bald guy is Ken Lester D.O.A.'S Bernie Rhodes-like manager.)

Your first two concerts shape your musical vision; mine were Neil Young and D.O.A. Canadian rock legends in mid-eighties awkward spots became my benchmarks for live entertainment.Both shows were free courtesy of a brother-in-law who was covering them for the Winnipeg Free Press. We saw Neil in the since demolished Winnipeg Arena and got to watch from the Winnipeg Jets bench. D.O.A., on the other hand, played a social hall called Le Rendez-Vous, which had the ass-half of a canoe sticking out of it. All in all, it was pretty damn Canadian.

Neil Young, playing with the terribly-named International Harvesters, was deep in the middle of one of his recurring country-ish phases, Neil, returning to his former home town for the first time in years began by saying, "Welcome home" before launching into a slew of his best tracks, including a scorching solo acoustic, “The Needle and the Damage Done”.

(The almost Life Magazine like photo shoot for the North American cover.)

As for D.O.A. (Joey Shithead - vocals/guitar, Dave Gregg - guitar/vocals, Brian Goble - bass/vocals, Dimwit - drums), they played all their material, even the slicker material from 1985's Let’s Wreck the Party, with undiminished fury. Le Rendez-Vous turned into a smoke-filled, beer-soaked sauna and neither the band or the audience let up for a second.

(The more fitting UK album cover.)

Like Neil's mid-eighties album (his sales were so bad his own label, Geffen, sued for making music "unrepresentative of himself") Let's Wreck the Party's new direction was not met with universal acclaim. In fact when, in-between songs, Joey Shithead threw a sealed copy of the album into the crowd it got tossed back on stage, unclaimed! Y'see D.O.A. had, under the tutelage of 80’s hair-rock also-ran Brian “Too Loud” McLeod from the Headpins, cannonballed into the Rock mainstream. Like a Chumbawamba for the mid-eighties, they tried to mix pop trappings (keyboards, Big Rock guitar, saxophone) with radical politics (“General Strike”, “Race Riot” - listen here).

(D.O.A played Rock Against Racism, Rock Against Reagen and, yes, Rock against Radiation - alliterative action!)

The album bombed; too many metal tempos and neat n’ clean backing vocals for the increasingly-conservative punk scene and yet too crude for eighties pop radio (check out Wimpy’s gnarled vocals clashing with the MTV-friendly production on ‘Singin’ in the Rain’).

Let's Wreck the Party is, however, a logical successor to 1982’s nigh-on-perfect, War on 45. The anthemic tracks (like “Our World”) were, as their live show proved, still fist-waving and the song-writing had leapt forward. After covering Edwin Starr’s “War” previously, Joey Shithead then penned his own funk-protest tract, “Dance O’ Death” (a concert staple complete with The Rev. Joey Shithead and his flailing crucifix). While surely not a highlight of the album (even though it had a video!), the song showed that the band was no longer tied down by loud n' fast rules.

Let’s Wreck the Party is like D.O.A.’s version of the Clash's Combat Rock (War on 45 being like a condensation of London Calling, with no parallel Sandanista betwixt) - outwardly commercial but deeply weird. If it’s a sell-out, it’s unclear who the target market was. The album blenderized unassimilable sources (listen to those Doors-ish keyboards on the otherwise gruff "Murder in Hollywood") together and spilled out a reasonably cohesive album. Let's Wreck the Party may not surpass their earlier work but it got an adventurous feel, not something you'd say about every album they've put out since.

Speaking of new work, D.O.A.'s 2008 album, Northern Avenger ("Police Brutality" video here), with its giant production courtesy of Bob Rock is kind of a throwback to this album's sound, just with less musical diversity.

Most of D.O.A.'s most crucial releases are in print on Joey's Sudden Death Records please go there and support the band.)

Let’s Wreck the Party now available at Sudden Death!!

Suuport the band!
Sudden Death
Alternative Tentacles

P.S. They're making a documentary on D.O.A. (after all Joey was the only non-American to get time in the American Hardcore documentary).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Rock Against Racism 2: More Than Just the Clash

There was more to the Rock Against Racism movement then the Clash (that link, and this one really illustrate the viciously incomprehensible factionalism of old new left.)

Some Clash-men and members of British Reggae outfit Steel Pulse (courtesy of the very informative uncarved). Here's that band's song, "Jah Pitney (Rock Against Racism)"

Another home-grown British reggae act to join with Rock Against Racism was the the Cimarons.

The Cimarons released this single, which errs towards a post-original Wailers Bob Marley groove, around 1979.

Download Cimarons Rock Against Racism 12"

And since I clearly lack the language to do true reggae justice, let's move on to some reggata de blanc.

China Street were not the Clash, in fact, as is often pointed out, they sound a bit like another UK reggae-inspired punk band, The Members. The words and the playing are a little predictable but damn this one's a grower (the b-side is the de rigueur dub mix).

Download China Street Rock Against Racism 7"

Kudos, as is so often the case, to Punk Friction who covered China Street first.

And because this is post is already so damn busy let's add some Ovenman. Ovenman was a one-man New York New Wave band and this single, the 'band's only one is from 1981.

Download Ovenman Rock Against Racism 7"

Next: Yer D.O.A.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Rock Against Racism: The Clash

Punk was progressive and reactionary.
On the one hand, staunchly conservative, railing against the modernity of pop charts and calling for a return to basics, then on the other hand, fiercely revolutionary, calling for sweeping changes in the established order.

A by-product of this dichotomy was bands who defined themselves as much by what they were against as what they were for, from the Clash ("We're anti-fascist, we're anti-violence, we're anti-racist and we're pro-creative") to Propagandhi ("Anti-fascist, Gay-positive, Pro-feminist, Animal-friendly").

Part and parcel of these divergent ideas is the call to put money-to-mouth and play for free to raise money to fight against bad causes. A prime example of this call-to-arms was the British Anti-Nazi League's Rock Against Racism concert series (not to forget the racist response headed by Skrewdriver, which was not called Rock Against Tolerance, sadly, but rather Rock Against Communism).

The Clash, the ostensible subject of this post, played the first Rock Against Racism event in London's Victoria Park in early 1978. The success of that show (which was filmed for use in the movie Rude Boy) not only broke the band to a wider audience it was considered a crucial brake on the rise of the far-right in Britain, a battle unfortunately not yet won.

Rock Against Racism
suffered the same problems as those American wars against, poverty, drugs, terrorism; how do you know when you've beaten an idea? (The worst of this sort of pro-negative campaigning, came in the late eighties with Rock Against Drugs, which the departed Sam Kinison disparaged as being about as sensible as "Christians Against Christ".) That said, standing up against belligerent, divisive factions is, and always will be the duty of a free people.

{MRML Readers: Leave us a comment telling us your views, memories or reactions to this Rock Against Racism business.}

Download The Clash Rude Boys in the Park* CD

*This a field recording with very dodgy sound quality.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Self de-construction: A Benefit for Food Not Bombs

The Bonaduces (see here) were never an expressly political band (the vegan-friendly "Soy to the World" aside) but that was the milieu they were a part of. Winnipeg's mid-nineties punk scene was so politicized that even the Christian punk bands wrote songs decrying Christopher Columbus and "the American Jesus"*.

*No slight is meant against the Undecided who released two fine albums with unfortunate cover art on Tooth and Nail back in the late nineties and early aughts. Their final show will be at the Royal Albert on July 24th 2009 alongside the never-say-die Bonaduces.

A sign of the unity of this time was the Rock Against Racism show at Le Rendez-Vous in 1997. The line up included the anarcho- hardcore band Propagandhi, the traditional ska of JFK and the Conspirators, metal band Malefaction, indie-pop-punkers the Bonaduces and Kirby not to mention a visit from local hip-hop legends Mood Ruff. It says a lot about the scene of the time that, other than Koop losing his over-all's mid-Bonaduces set, the jam-packed show went off without a hitch.

Another of the unifying forces of the scene at the time was the action group Food Not Bombs, who were always ready to feed rice and beans at a strike, a demonstration or a riot. Alex from the record store/label Underworld (terribly helpful when I booked the 1996 Bonaduces tour) put together his own benefit compilation for Food Not Bombs. While a typical mid-nineties punk/oi/HxCx/Ska/Pop-punk melange, Alex did manage to bring together a solid cast from all over North America including; Subb, Youth Brigade, Anti-Flag, Rhythm Collision, the Planet Smashers, the Ripcordz and, following our theme, the Bonaduces. Like 90% of all comps you need to sift your personal wheat from your personal chaff to get the most out of it. So, go to it.

Download Self De-construction CD

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pretty in Pop: Songs From the Films of John Hughes

Back in the late nineties the Manitoba Museum of Man and Nature build an exhibit called "Get Back" as history of rock n' roll. In a series of concerts, the museum chose the Bonaduces to represent the eighties, despite the band's nineties origins. Perhaps someone in the museum's hierarchy detected the band leader's love of the post-Brill Building song-writing assembly line work of Stock, Aitken and Waterman and such. For the concert, the Bonaduces covered Prince ("Purple Rain"), Alan Parsons Project ("Eye in the Sky") and Flesh for Lulu ("I Go Crazy") and a whole lot more.

That show helped to inspire this 1998 compilation from endearing records which pitted bands from all over the map against the musical curating skills of John Hughes. The indie-pop bands herein all add a twist or two to these eighties synth-pop standards from Flesh For Lulu, Echo and The Bunnymen, The Psychedelic Furs, The Thompson Twins and Simple Minds. Winnipeg, reflecting the local biases of the compiler, start and end with the two best contributions. Be'hl strip the Bowie affectations from "Don't You Forget About Me" and turn int into a campfire-ish pop song. The Bonaduces rough up "I Go Crazy" by amping up the guitars and losing the synth but without disrespecting the song itself.

Endearing Records honcho Blair Purda adds:

"The idea for this comp actually came from Simon of the Vancouver band Speedbuggy. He was planning a heart shaped pink 12" I believe and asked if a few Endearing bands could contribute to what was mostly going to be a Vancouver based compilation. The Bonaduces and B'ehl recorded songs and we waited, waited and waited for the other bands to finish their songs and the record to be released.

When none of the Vancouver band's got songs in, we finally just said, WTF, let's put it out ourselves and we asked a few other Endearing artists (California's Ciao Bella and Australia's Ninety Nine) if they could bang off covers. They did, we had enough songs to put out an EP and Pretty in Pop was launched at the West End Cultural centre with performances by some of the artists, screenings of the films and pop corn."

Download Pretty in Pop CD

Monday, June 22, 2009

The Bonaduces: The Roof is (Not) on Fire

The Bonaduces damn near set the Lo Pub on fire. The sheer humidity of over one hundred people trying to keep up with the energy on stage tripped the fire alarm. When the men with the swirling red sirens arrived in their flame-retardant suits with their axes and sledgehammers, we all evacuated. When the fire department finally let us back in, the band picked up in the exact same spot in the song they'd left off on.

As always, the band occasionally teetered on the edge of chaos (no one brought a tuner?) before suddenly pulling everything together for some ass-kickin' performances, including a raging "Really Powerful Telescope" and a full-blooded sing-along take on "Understudy to Abby Grey". Then the fire alarm went off. Again.

With another false alarm discredited, we all filed back in (trying to remember where we'd left our drinks) and the band kicked off again (quite literally in Koop's case who spent much of the show defying gravity).

It was a great triumph but as a hopeless partisan I could have written that before the show even happened. The alarm did go off again before the money got split up but all the bands, including the Cop-Out's (their set, their first ever, was strong and almost alt-country-ish) and Halifax's Dog Day (who showed an unusually tough take on indie-rock, as exemplified by their blazing cover of the Nils' "Fountains") got paid. Then we shut things down before the fire trucks were forced to return and fight another illusory blaze.

All photos by Jameel Adams

Thanks to the ever-dedicated Brody469 for the footage.

(And yes, the lighting at the show was pretty miserable.)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Bonaduces: Chapter Five

The Bonaduces' (see here) 1998 album The Democracy of Sleep remains their only work still in print. It is also their crowning achievement. Calling it a concept album, a meditation on living with death, may sound pretentious but it's all true plus it still rocks like crazy.

The Bonaduces - Bomb Threat at Montgomery High

The Bonaduces rock Canada Day 2006 (photo courtesy of merr.)

The album can be downloaded from Zunior or purchased the old-fashioned way from the original label, endearing records. Support the damn band!

The Bonaduces splintered sometime after this album's release and each band that rose up from the fall-out has its own virtues. Singer-guitarist Doug McLean continued the evolution of his song-writing in the Paperbacks, guitarist Mike Koop brought the Rock with his band Kicker, bassist Bob Sommers carried on the proud legacy of Can-Con (that's domestic pop that Canadian radio must play by law, for all you non-Northerners) with the now-defunct Red-Eye Morning and drummer Chris Hiebert anchored the lush pop extravaganza known as Paper Moon.

Since I can't have a post without a proper download, here's Super Secret Songs a mammoth CD benefit compilation (these things were endemic to the nineties) that includes an unreleased ballad ("Salt Lake City") by the Bonaduces, plus the rockin' "Allison the Queen" by Koop's Other Band Cheerleader and lotsa forgotten nineties indie-pop hardly-rans.

"I was behind the Super Secret Songs comp, many years ago. For what it's worth, you have my complete and utter blessing to distribute it free, for the rest of time. I'll admit there's some crap on there, but looking back on it there's some nice music that exemplifies that particular slice of Canadian music history. Long forgotten maybe, but not entirely without merit. If anyone's looking for an actual copy let me know, I may have a few in the basement."

Patrick from Kitchener

Download Super Secret Songs CD

(Say Goodnight, Doug...)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Bonaduces: Chapter Four

The Bonaduces' (see here) first album was a long time coming. Finally though, in 1997 the tiny Toronto indie label Squirtgun unleashed the band's first full-length, 'K' is for Catherine, in then-hip format known as the compact disc (quaint as a buggy-whip now isn't it?). As per the last three releases, this one recycles a bit of the demo (the brilliant "Really Powerful Telescope" and the high-speed power-pop of "I'm the only Proof You Need") , while surrounding it with increasingly sophisticated new material. While the band still blasts out loud, propulsive pop-punk, indie-pop ballads like "We Never Close" and "All the Way from Stockholm" prove they were capable of hitting even greater heights then they had been letting on.

The Bonaduces - Really Powerful Telescope

(The band rocks out at The Royal Albert Arms some time in the late nineties.)

While singer/guitarist/songwriter Doug McLean and his ever-growing lyrical and melodic prowess looms large over these proceeding, the Bonaduces were undeniably a group. The newly-solidified rhythm section really kicks in on this album, with Bob and Chris adding ska (in the best sense of that much-maligned word) to "Beat on the Betamax" and keeping the warp-speed "Android at the Superhero Party" from raging out of control. While Bob keeps a bouncing rhythm and Koop's deft guitar figures colour every song, they also crafted memorable, intertwining backing vocals - check out "Friends with the Narc" as proof of how Koop and Bob formed the best tag-team since "Jumping" Jim Brunzell and Greg Gagne (them's the High Flyers, for those of you who missed out on the golden age of wrestling.)

The album, which always suffered with mastering issues, has been "re-mastered" by MRML (we used GoldWave to double the volume) just to save you from cranking it up so high up that later, when you play something normal, you shred your speakers.

Thanks to meltingvisa for uploading the vids!

Download 'K' is for Catherine CD (lyrics included)

(MRML recommends WinrRAR for unpacking your downloads)

Here's the Facebook page for the Bonaduces reunion show this Saturday at the Lo Pub.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

The Bonaduces: Chapter Three

I never managed the Bonaduces. (See here.) Though when, à la the Ramones, each band member got a nom de Bonaduce (Jon Bon Bonaduce, Koopie Bonaduce, Rusty Bonaduce and BoBo Bonaduce) those surrounding the band got their names too. While one friend of the band was dubbed Meredith-Baxter Bonaduce, I got to be Kincaid Bonaduce, though I claimed John Sinclair Bonaduce could work too. I was as successful at feigning managerial skills as I was as attempting to be as a singer/guitarist/bassist/drummer/pianist/ukuleleist. So I ended up a music blogger, the literary equivalent of playing tambourine.

(Chris brings the Rock)

Speaking of me and instrumental talent, I did, to take credit where minuscule amounts of credit may or many not be due, assist the Bonaduces in their the next leap of proficiency. I hooked them up with percussionist extraordinaire Chris (what was his Bonaduce name again?) when their first drummer, Rusty, went AWOL. When I said that the Bonaduces needed a drummer, he leapt at the opportunity. When asked if he could play drums (he was playing guitar in an industrial metal band at the time) he said, "To be a Bonaduce, I'll be a drummer." With Chris, who duct taped his hands so he could play with the drive of early Stewart Copeland, the entire band changed, intensifying on just about every level.

So to document the Bonaduces' ascent, especially the terse, berserk,"Everything's Rachel", I decided to put out a single myself. My entire oeuvre as a record mogul at No Glory Records is laid out before you in this post. But what a one-off! All four songs (10:01 in total) are flat-out rockers with rousing choruses. Lyrically, the songs are exemplary Doug first-person narratives, whether in teen-girl mode ("Introducing the New Rachel Jones") or benevolent stalker mode ("Judy Blume Weekend). Plus you get the pop-pop-punk "Hunt and Peck", which has an infectious 2-3-4- backing vocal hook and the band even name-checks itself!

(Producer John Sutton and Doug record them some Bonaduce goodness.)

Re-up on Rapidshare

Download Everything's Rachel 7" (lyrics included)

(MRML recommends WinrRAR for unpacking your downloads)

(Click to enlarge)