Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mother's Children: That's Who

Even though Ottawa-based Mother's Children have the name (and cover art!) of some sorta psych-folk band from 1970, they are in fact are a(n) insert macho-sounding compound-adjective preferably missing its final 'g' here rock n' roll band who clearly love the same sort of half-punk/half-power-pop bands, like The Boys, The Flys, The Beat et al, that set the Exploding Hearts racing.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Miniboone: Big Changes

"Miniboone are a rock n' roll band from New York City" - might seem like a bit of a coy self-description amidst the chatter and the hype but it goes to show that the preciousness that's dominated indie-rock recently is on the wane.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Johnny Wolga: Punk Sessions

"New Life" by JOHNNY WOLGA! is an egregiously hummable tune from a band known as the German Toy Dolls (who were once knows as an "English Dickies"...)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Young Veins

While the adjective Beatlesesque might be shorthand for "labouring to replicate a lost era", in the case of L.A. power-pop band The Young Veins* the word just denotes what happens when twenty-somethings take up with their parents vinyl collection.

* May contain traces of Panic! at the Disco

Friday, July 23, 2010

Betty & The Werewolves

When people call a band 'twee' they're often referring to either eighties bands lumped under the C86 banner, nineties bands from the International Pop Underground or early aughts bands compared to Belle & Sebastien but ever-so-fun music labeled twee still prevails - just ask London's Betty and the Werewolves.

There's more head-bobbingness...

Support the band!

Damaged Goods

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Don't Ask Me Questions: A Film About Graham Parker

A lot of MRML readers love Graham Parker. Each unavailable album posted here (all run-by by Parker's web-site) got over four hundred downloads. It's always my belief that most of those who download the rarities available here are the type of people who support the artist by buying albums, concert tickets DVD's etc. Well, here's your chance to support GP and get something in return. Click on the image above (or HERE) to learn about how you can help the documentary Don't Ask Me Questions get finished. I'm willing to tell you I donated $35.00. That amount entitles me to a DVD and a poster, which hardly makes my support seem very charitable. If you do donate, please leave a comment -I'd be honoured to know if MRML could do it's bit to get this work finished.

That's When You Know (Part One)

Live at Marble Arch

Live at the Test

Live at Rockpalast

King Biscuit Flower Hour

Lost Songs of Lennon & McCartney

Support the man:


Bloodshot Records
Wolfgang's Vault

A special thanks goes out to Karl Eric Anderson's site Expecting Rain which steered readers (including me) towards this project despite the fact that the connection to the man from Hibbing was brief as could be. It goes to show that ER is, despite its seemingly singular focus, an invaluable resource for all music fans.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sleigh Bells: Is This the End of the Soft Revolution?

MRML has long raged against the dominance of overly-delicate monotony in what's called indie-rock but the deceptively-named Sleigh Bells (Adam Graham says " If Andrew WK's little sister started a band, it might sound like Sleigh Bells" though 'Venetian Snares meets the Vivian Girls' works as well) may be a sign that the genre's finally gonna get a little fucked-up.

The "sound-defining" song:

The bubblegum anthem that might end up getting used at sporting events:

And of course their version of a pretty song...

Does the World Really Need Another Disaffected, Angular UK* Pop Band Named Something Like The Rags?

Sure, why not?

* The Rags are from Dublin, Ireland and should not be referred to as "UK" by bloggers attempting glib reviews.

The Rags Homepage
The Rags MySpace
The Rags Amazon
The Rags iTunes

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Bob on Bob: Geldof, Dylan and Live Aid

On this day in 1985, Bob Dylan almost sent Bob Geldof's Live Aid off the rails:

In his autobiography, "Is That It?", Geldof puts it this way
For me the biggest disappointment of the evening was Dylan. He sang three of his classics, including "Blowin' in the Wind", which ought to have been one of the greatest moments of the concert. Unfortunately, the performance was catastrophic. He had met Keith Richards and Ronnie Wood in a night club in New York the night before and they had offered to back him. So, there they were - pop music's seminal songwriter and the world's greatest rhythm guitarist and his partner. But they were out of time, they couldn't stay in tune and they seemed to treat the song with disdain. (I later heard that the curtain had dropped between them and their monitors, so that they couldn't hear themselves perform.) Then he displayed a a complete lack of understanding of the issues raised by Live Aid by saying, unforgivably, 'It would be nice if some of this money went to the American farmers." Something so simplistic and crowd-pleasing was beyond belief. Live Aid was about people losing their lives. There is a radical difference between losing your livelihood and losing your life. It did instigate Farm Aid, which was a good thing in itself but it was a crass, stupid, nationalistic thing to say. It was to have been the finale but thank God Ken Kragen had persuaded Lionel Richie to come and sing "We Are the World". Dylan left the stage and as he walked by his manager, he just looked up and said, "Sorry."

Author Michael Gray called it, "the most disheveled, debilitatingly drunk performance of his career" and refers to his remarks as "breath-takingly insensitive" but adds, "...there was nothing dishonourable in Dylan's being, as he visibly was, desperately embarrassed by the whole spectacle of these superstars patting themselves on the back while advancing their global profiles in the name of charity - so that one might not rush to judgment on Dylan's failure to "behave himself".

From his infamous speech to the National Emergency Civil Liberties Committee to his Newport '65 performance to his Born-again 'raps' of the late seventies to any one of his appearances on the Grammies, Dylan has proved that he will not "behave himself" in front of a crowd, especially one that expects him to play "voice of a generation". Maybe Gedof, who relished misbehaving in his role as the leader of the Boomtown Rats, should've seen it coming.

"Bob Dylan told me to look at Woody Guthrie, and I did. I took the name Boomtown Rats from his book, Bound For Glory."
Bob Geldof

P.S . For his 2005 compilation, Under the Influence, Geldof chose Dylan's "Visions of Johanna" so maybe all is forgiven...

So commenters, what do you make now, twenty-five years later (!) of Dylan's performance at Live Aid?

More Powerpearls compilations to come, regular readers but Marky Dread reminded me to tell you about all this...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Boomtown Rats: Live at the Hammersmith 1982

I'm not afraid to say that I think Band Aid was diabolical. Or to say that I think Bob Geldof is a nauseating character.

Morrissey, 1985

Despite strong, sinewy songs, like their masterstroke, "Elephant's Graveyard", the Rats commercial fortunes nosedived in the early 80's. It took an unforeseeable turn of events to brand Bob Geldof onto the world's consciousness.

That era-defining change was of course the combination of the 1984 Band-Aid single "Do They Know it's Christmas" and the follow-up Live Aid concerts to raise money for Ethiopan famine. Critics, from Moz (see above) to Chumbawamba to that guy you knew who said that the famine was just population re-adjustment, often zeroed in on "Saint Bob" and his"punk diplomacy". But say what you will about the the man, if punk rock really was supposed to change the world, he's the person with the best claim to have done so. And plus the tunes always rocked.

Live at the Hammersmith 1982 link is in the comments

Speaking of comments please give us your thought on Bob Geldof's activist works.

Support the band!






Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Boomtown Rats: Live in Boston, 1980

"Rat Trap" is our only song to get played on the radio here because American DJ's think it sounds like Bruce Springsteen. But I want you to know (laughs, adopts American DJ accent) that Bruce Springsteen couldn't write a song half as good as this if he tried.
Bob Geldof, to an audience in New York who booed in response.

By 1980, The Rats (or "The Boomers" as their record label tried to brand them) had had their "break-through hit" in North America, "I Don't Like Mondays"(# 4 in Canada but due to an unofficial radio ban, only #73 in the the U.S.). While perhaps the song is a bit cavalier in its portrayal of senseless murder ("sweet sixteen, ain't so peachy keen) there's a sharpness in the lyrics ("the silicon chip inside her head, it switched to overload"), almost unimaginable on today's radio. While this would be the band's last U.S. radio hit, Bob Geldof had just begun to find the spotlight. But let's talk about that tomorrow, shall we?

So here's another scorching live set that proves that Mutt Lange's production was only a minor factor in the band's lethal sound.

Live in Boston, 1980 link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, leave us a comment with your take on "I Don't Like Mondays".

Support the band!






Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Boomtown Rats: Agora Hall, Cleveland, Ohio May 1st, 1979

Slotting in somewhere between the Sex Pistols and Springsteen, the early Boomtown Rats rocked and rocked smartly. Though Bob Gedof surely got his knighthood for his activism not his song-writing, you can see how those two attention-catching skills fed each other, even if you take pile-drivingly selfish "Lookin' After Number One" literally.

Thanks to Marky Dread for Ratting me out. (Also visit the dormant-yet-dangerous PVAc to 4.1 khz for more Rat-ness.)

Agora Hall, Cleveland, Ohio May 1 1979 link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, leave us a comment with your take on The Boomtown Rats and/or Sir Bob.

Support the band!






Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nobody Sings Dylan Like The Boss

"Hey, I hear you're the new me."

Bob Dylan upon being introduced to Bruce Springsteen.

Much ink has been spilled over Bruce Springsteen's debt to Bob Dylan, which is sizable, but over-stated. Springsteen seems to want to be a struttin', singin' textbook of rock n' roll with as big sections on Elvis, Sam Cooke or Van Morrison as on Dylan. However, like Dylan, Springsteen changes a lot between albums, so much so that when people say "This sounds like Springsteen" you almost want to say "Which one?".

Whatever their similarities and differences, Springsteen has always been vocal about his debt to Dylan, covering songs by his Bobness numerous times throughout his nigh-on forty year career. The covers presented here, all taken from non-commercial sources*, are simply meant to show the power of the Dylan-Springsteen dynamism. This collection's title (I personally avoid use of the term "The Boss" for reasons of hokiness) comes from the from the bootleg pictured above but the final product has been significantly altered and expanded by the obsessive labour of yours truly.

* If my research has failed to uncover an official release herein, I would ask the vigilant Springteen-ians out there to please let me know about that or any other errors in this post.

(hyperlinks are to YouTube versions)

1. Chimes of Freedom (a "live" version was released as a single in 1988, but this one's from '78.)
2. Blowin' in the Wind (Solo acoustic)
3. I Want You (Very find-sounding seventies version from an FM Broadcast)
4. A Satisfied Mind (An old country standard that made it onto the original version of this boot likely due to Dylan's partial cover of it on Saved)
5. Highway 61 (Acoustic version with Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt)
6. It's All Over Now Baby Blue (A version by The Bruce Springsteen Band from the very early seventies)
7. One of Must Know (A sound-check version that made it onto the original bootleg despite its limitations)
8. Like A Rolling Stone (not the Hall of Fame version from '88 on which Springsteen is barely audible but a more recent band version)
9. The Times They-Are-A-Changin' (A solo acoustic tribute from 1997.)
10. Knockin on Heaven's Door (1995 duet with Wolfganf Niedecken)
11. All Along the Watchtower (full-band version with Bob himself as a guest.)
12. Forever Young (Duet with Dylan)
13. Springsteen's Hall of Fame induction speech for Bob Dylan

Suggestions, corrections and clarification by those in the know will be added if a "re-issue" is warranted.

(Photo property of Kevin Mazur)

No One Sings Dylan Like The Boss Link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, support your local blogger and tell us what you think of the connection between Dylan and Springsteen - this one is at risk of getting pulled for indifference.


Happy 4th of July, to all readers, American or otherwise.


Support the artist!





Saturday, July 3, 2010

I Love My Shih-Tzu: Who Loves You, Baby

Seven years after the Dik Van Dykes fell apart singer Dik (now just plain 'ole Mike Johnston) re-emerged to lead I Love My Shih-Tzu. The story goes that Dike agreed to join former DVD (and Pop-Tart) Sarah Hodgson's band, Sinister Dude Ranch, on the condition of a name change. Hence ILMS came into the world in 1996 with all the junk culture references ("Flood Pants") the pinching of classic rock songs (Eddy Grant via The Clash' s "Police On My Back" shows up in "Without A Clue) and general insanity ("Too Much Like Fun") that made the Dik Van Dykes so damn good.

Who Loves You, Baby link is in the comments

Speaking of comments, let us know what you think of the band and comeback albums (under a new name) in general.

Thanks to Jonathon who uploaded the images (and possibly the music as well) to LastFM.

Friday, July 2, 2010

The Dik Van Dykes Waste MOR Vinyl

Upon it's release, some some noted that the Dik Van Dykes second album did not equal their stunning debut. In the RockCrit universe, such a state of affairs is sneered off as just being “more of the same” whereas here, in the heartland of Obscurica, sophomore slumps and problematic follow-ups are considered as simply one more point on the continuum of brilliance.

Waste MOR Vinyl does continue the ridiculously sublime character of Nobody Likes...The Dik Van Dykes. The lyrics still blenderize junk culture touchstones (Robocop, Monster Trucks, The Beachcombers for starters), the choruses still stick to you like burs ("Chain Letter Massacre") and the accompaniment is still nobly savage ("Honeymoon In Niagara Falls"). However, it is true that the “Obvious Filler” herein (“Lost in Space”, “Cow Pie”) does not require labeling as it did on their debut. Yet, filler patches the cracks of almost every album and hence you can learn a lot about a band from its filler. Taking up five long minutes, “Lost in Space” ends the album and the band’s career: it’s blurry pacing and rambling narrative intimating that the band may have run smack into some insurmountable limitation. They surely could’ve prevailed but they let their work stand. And that’s cool.

Waste MOR Vinyl link is in the comments.

Speaking of comments, please tell us what you think of these songs or those from other problematic follow-up albums.

(Thanks to Jonathon for all his archival work, Alcolm X for the rips n' scans and to commenter Dik Van Dyke for his and his band mates’ music that proved to be hell of a lot less “insignificant” then they once promised in their liner notes.)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Dik Van Dykes: Nobody Likes...


Happy Canada Day!


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”.

(We had merch!)

“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.

Nobody Likes link is in the comments.

Speaking of comments, please leave us one about the Dik's music or that time you were involved with a not-so-good band.

Visit the band's legacy


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.