Music obsessives with no musical talent often work in record stores, write reviews, promote shows, run labels, book tours or manage bands. I did those sorts of things later but first I had to prove my lack of ability with my band, Jane Fonda and the Hondas. We were a two-piece speed-folk band, who my vastly more talented partner (later a guitarist in the socialist-punk firebrands, The Strike), described as, “Sludgeabilly with extra sludge”.
“Sludgeabilly” was Gerald Van Herk’s self-description of his band, Deja Voodoo, a Montreal two-piece (four-stringed guitar, no cymbals on the drum kit) rockabilly-blues-punk band. Fifteen years later such an approach could land you on the front of Rolling Stone but in the cultural vacuum that was the late 1980’s almost no one could hear Deja Voodoo scream. The band also ran the awe-inducing Og Records. Og pilloried the vacuousness of the times by pushing 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 on their five-volume It Came From Canada series. Based on the series, icfucks as Gerald called them, I dug up records by The Gruesomes, The Cowboy Junkies (yup), Colour Me Psycho, Jerry Jerry and the Sons of Rhythm Orchestra, Sons of the Desert, Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet, U.I.C., Guilt Parade and of course Hamilton, Ontario's The Dik Van Dykes.
All those Og records helped inspire Jane Fonda and the Honda, who performed just one earth-shattering show. For that so-called show we played a butchery of Billy Bragg's "Strange Things Happen' and an original called, "Socialized Hairdressing" before serving some cheap n' doughy pizza. Our audience consisted of fourteen close personal friends, thirteen of whom were still as such at show's end.
So JFH (our initialism!), never did get to fulfill our dream of opening for The Dik Van Dykes. The Diks were a band that cleaved to the Og doctrine of primitivism (see Steve Hoy's three-string guitar and Stu Smith's kick pedal-less kit) but who added a chirpy but choppy pop sensibility to it all. Some said they sounded like the Ramones battling The B-52's. Perhaps more precisely, The Diks high-speed junk-pop, with back-up singers the Pop-Tarts bringing the la-la's, bore a strong resemblance to late seventies Scottish fashion-plates, The Rezillos (whose album title the Diks paid homage to). Easy comparisons aside, this album still stands on its own, like some demented inukshuk. The songs are hummable and funny - these lyrics will return a thousand joys even if, and perhaps because, you'll never understand them all.
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A big thanks goes out to Nicola who not only bought me this L.P. for my birthday on almost exactly this date twenty-fuckin-two years ago but also had every Jane Fonda and the Hondas "demo" tape.