Sunday, March 31, 2013

Dylan's Fiascoes: Renaldo And Clara (1978)

"Renaldo and Clara, to me, wasn't long enough."
Bob Dylan

Bob Dylan is an artist of such power and presence that even his fiascoes can be fascinating. When contemplating the range of Dylan's spectacular falls, whether its Tarantula, Isle of Wright, Self-Portrait, Live at Budakon, "Street Rock" or Hearts of Fire, the four-hour improv experiment/concert film Renadlo and Clara certainly looms large. What we have below isn't the entirety of the critically-drubbed film (synopsis) but it's over half of it and even then it can be endurance-defying. Thankfully, the footage of the Rolling Thunder Revue is incredible. So, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, those less interested in plumbing the depths of Dylan's work, can just skip to the concert scenes. Via.

"Americans are spoiled. They expect art to be like 
wallpaper, with no effort, just to be there."
Bob Dylan on critical reaction to Renaldo and Clara.

Let us know what you think of Dylan's Renaldo and Clara in the COMMENTS section.

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Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Undertones: Here Comes The Summer BBC4 Documentary (2012)

While this doc's view of seventies Irish pop-punk masters The Undertones are both more grandiose ("They became one of Britain's most iconic bands") and more conventional ("the musical landscape was changing") than the 2002 doc made by John Peel, it still adds a tonne of fascinating information and lots of new interviews to the  the story. Flaws acknowledged, I still loved every minute of it..

Let us know what you think about this new(er) Undertones doc  in the COMMENTS!

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Union Square Music



Friday, March 29, 2013

Short Dogs Grow: S/T (1987)

I'll stay the babbling, momentarily, and just ask you to listen RIGHT NOW to the unusually-structured, "I Got It Right",  through to the cascading climax of the song, one of my favourite finales of all time:

At seventeen songs, the San Francisco band's 1987 debut album on Rough Trade is over-long but guitarist/vocalist (and bike courier) Tom Pitts (now author), as well as guitarist/singer Greg Foot (and now blogger) along with bassist/backing vocalist Carmela Thompson and drummer Joe Pethoud successfully navigate the treacherous ground between hardcore and college rock deftly, earning some very well-founded comparisons to early Soul Asylum along the way. 

Carmela catches some air!

A1         I Got It Right        
A2         Egoist Twist        
A3         Don Juan        
A4         Grandstand Play        
A5         Whistling Song        
A6         Serum Hepatitis        
A7         Field & Stream        
A8         Let Go, Let God        
A9         Fresh Clean Water        
A10       Gladbag Blues        
B1         Whirlwind        
B2         No Beef Max        
B3         Fortunate Son        
B4         On Time & Wastage        
B5         Rico's Blues        
B6         Half The Time        
B7         Doesn't Somebody Wanna Be Wanted Like Me

The rip and scans of this long-sought after rarity are courtesy of the amazing lubes17319 and if you'd like to hear what these Short Dogs sounded  like when they grew up, go visit Spavid over at Willfully Obscure!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Johnny Cash:The Last Great American Documentary on BBC (2004)

"(Johnny Cash) was sorta like Abe Lincoln with a guitar."
 Merle Haggard 
While we're looking at the Britain's love for Johnny Cash (see HERE), let's stop to view this BBC documentary called The Last Great American. It doesn't challenge The Cash Legend, and no wonder that narrative is tough to fuck with, but rather further burnishes it with amazing interviews with Kris Kristofferson, Elvis Costello, Jack Clement Merle Haggard, Rick Rubin, Rosanne Cash and the fabulous-as-fuck Little Richard. Even if you, unlike me, don't enjoy all that laudatory talking head stuff, the historical footage, including Cash's much-discussed Elvis impersonation from the fifties and his comeback performance at the Viper Room in the nineties, is awe-inspiring.

MRML's 23 risky covers by Johnny Cash, is just over yonder.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

'Til Things Are Brighter: A Tribute To Johnny Cash (1988)


Y'know, I'd like to offer you context about my re-up of this proto-alt-country collection of Johnny Cash covers done at his career's nadir by a bunch of British post-punkers like Mark Riley of The Fall, Jon Langford of the Mekons (who together were the executive producers), Pete Shelley of The Buzzcocks, Mary Mary of Gaye Bykers on Acid, Mark Almond of Soft Cell et al but Graeme Thompson over at The Guardian did it so well right HERE.

To learn about twenty-three covers that prove that Johnny Cash always kept in touch with the underside of culture, please go read (and listen to) THIS POST, of which I take great pride in.


1     Michelle Shocked –  One Piece At A Time  3:38    
2     Stephen Mallinder –  I Walk The Line   2:11    
3     Steve Mack –  Rosanna's Goin' Wild  1:55    
4     Sally Timms –  Cry, Cry, Cry   3:01    
5     David McComb –  Country Boy  1:48    
6     Marc Riley –  Wanted Man   2:42    
7     Pete Shelley –  Straight 'A's In Love   1:45    
8     Cathal Coughlan – Ring Of Fire   2:25    
9     Tracey + Melissa Beehive –  5 Feet High And Risin'  1:39   
10    Brendan Croker –     Home Of The Blues     2:33    
11    Mary Mary  –     Boy Named Sue   3:32    
12    Mekons –     Folsom Prison Blues   3:19    
13    Marc Almond –     Man In Black   3:08

Note: Sure Michelle Shocked is going through a bad patch right now (were it not ever so?) but that doesn't reflect on the quality of this record in the slightest.

What do you make of this early attempt to restore some lost cool to Johnny Cash's reputation? Leave us a COMMENT to let us know what you think.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

It's Time to Evolve.

"Love is just a moment of giving, and marriage is when we admit our parent were probably right."
Billy Bragg

Hands up, if at some point you were against gay marriage and then just found your arguments turning to dust as time went on?

Well that was me. I remember having a vociferous argument with one of my more, let's say pro-hippie, friends while driving through North Dakota sometime in the late nineties. Like much of the Canadian body politic, I argued that marriage was a between a man and a woman because that was how society reproduced itself and blah blah blah. I argued loudly and lost soundly, if tacitly. It took the Supreme Court of Canada legalizing same-sex marriage back in 2005 to make me see that it's not courageous for a majority to stand against the rights of a minority; its cowardice. It took that change to demonstrate to me that former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau's statement, "There's no place for the state in the bedrooms of the nation" is a governing philosophy that conservatives and liberals can endorse. So be you American or French or a Supreme Court Justice; it's time to evolve.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Didn't Planet: We're Going Nowhere (2012)

I'm a cynic, writing for a jaded audience, which sometimes necessitates front-loading an album's minuses in a review. Take Boston's Didn't Planet; sure their name is a weak gag, their album cover less then eye-catching and their sound sort of a nineties pop precis of Green Day, Weezer, Fountains of Wayne, The President of the United States of America, et al but that's just the surface stuff. Under it's jokey, retro exterior, We're Going Nowhere is sterling power-pop concept album about the life of a cover band  casting a wary eye on its own obsolescence. "No one wants the songs from 1990 anymore" sings Rob Allan on the magnificent "Bitter" as if admitting defeat is in and of itself a sort of victory. And perhaps it is. Now that rock n' roll's been consigned to the margins of the 21st century, maybe even us jaded cynics can find common cause with a band who, in their cover band guise, do everything from Billy Joel to The Gin Blossoms to Tommy Tutone!


P.S. I'm grieved to report that currently this album is download-only (what's a f------ nineties revival without a jewel case and a slice of polycarbonate plastic?)


Sunday, March 24, 2013

We Jam Econo: The Story of The Minutemen (2005)

"I majored in punk rock."
Mike Watt

If you haven't re-watched the Minutemen documentary, We Jam Econo, lately; do it - it's a political bromance, a dada-punk costume drama and tragi-fuckin'-comedy.

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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stompin' Tom Connors Memorial Button!

A local radio station has joined with a local credit union to give out memorial Stompin' Tom Connors (more HERE) buttons to people who make a donation to either Winnipeg Harvest or Siloam Mission. Here's a picture of mine (I contributed enough to get one for me and one for my son who loves Stompin' Tom!)

The Hanson Brothers: The Hockey Song

While we're mourning the death of Canadian folk-hero Stompin' Tom Connors (more HERE), let's give him a punk rock send-off with The Hanson Brothers' (a.k.a. NoMeansNo) version of "The Hockey Song":

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stompin' Tom Connors: In Concert (2005)

It's often said that every red-blooded Canadian loved singin' storyteller, Stompin' Tom Connors but it's fair to say that his Canada-centric, unNashvilled country style could be an acquired taste. I once played two Stompin' Tom songs in  row for a grade nine geography class and one student looked up at me, imploringly, and asked, "Have we been bad?". But once you see how the intensity of the man's commitment to the stories of his land and that bare-bones country sound rivals even that of Johnny Cash, you too can love him and mourn his passing.


Monday, March 4, 2013

Banned From Atlantis: People Write to Geena Davis in Japanese (1994)

Dr. Lisa Smirl, a Lecturer in International Security at the University of Sussex, has died of cancer at the age of 37. While I'm not really qualified to disuses her research, I am plausibly qualified to discuss her brief career in rock n' roll.

Lisa played bass, and did occasional lead vocals in a Winnipeg inde-punk band named, Banned From Atlantis in the early nineties. BFA released two cassettes, Self-Titled and Outie, a split seven-inch with noise-punk band Elliot and a full length, People Write to Geena Davis in Japanese. The band split, let's leave it at acrimoniously, and then guitarist Doug McLean formed The Bonaduces while Lisa went on to earn a Rhodes Scholarship.

But for a glorious year or so Banned From Atlantis were everywhere at once. While often chaotic in their playing, the intensity of their performance was fucking arresting. By the time this album came out, shortly before the band's demise, it seemed anticlimactic. Their label, Sister Records, had brought in Steve Albini's co-conspirator Bob Weston to produce three local bands (the others being The Breath Grenades and Bulletproof Nothing) but the results were no one's big break.

For a lot of their local fans the album was a bit of a let down being that so much of the material had appeared on earlier releases but looked on now when that overlap is no longer an issue (and we can forgive the murky production and after-thought-ish artwork so common on nineties CD's) it isn't really a problem. If you wanna check out a couple of the hookier tracks, ones reminiscent of Superchunk and Archers of Loaf, give a listen to "I Do" and "Subtle Suggestions".

Recorded at God of Thunder Studios by Bob Weston and Paul James. Mastered at John Golden Mastering.
  1.     Tantrums
  2.     Philadelphia/Cincinnati
  3.     Sebadohboy
  4.     Ido
  5.     Rickets + Riddles
  6.     Subtle Suggestions
  7.     Steaming Seed
  8.     Sovereign Thug
  9.     Tricks
  10.     Pretty Geek Poetry
  11.     Sociopathetic

Hey readers, I got lots more BFA rarities but I'll hold off the ripping, labeling and scanning till I see if we get some COMMENTS going here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Bad Religion Live in Dusseldorf, 1992 (FM Broadcast)

After the ferocious one-two punch of Suffer and then No Control Bad Religion began toying with their sound. The changes were not drastic, as they had been on the prog-rock, non-classic Into the Unknown, but beginning with Against the Grain and growing more pronounced with Generator (powered by the stronger drumming of Bobby Schayer) the band's musical straitjacket got loosened. While the band would make more use of slower tempos, complex vocal arrangements and abstract lyrics they would always return to their safe harbour of loud, fast n' accusatory within a song or two. Many fans think the band took a turn for the worse in his era but this early nineties span of albums (yes, I admit Recipe for Hate has some dead-ends) does contain a lot of Bad Religion's best moments. With that in mind, let's check out this German radio broadcast from the Generator era and and abide by Mr. Brett's words, "I'll remain unperturbed by the joy and the madness that I encounter everywhere I turn".

Set List
1     Turn On The Light
2     Suffer
3     Generator
4     Anesthesia
5     Get Off
6     Too Much To Ask
7     Operation Rescue
8     Along The Way
9     Do What You Want
10     Change Of Ideas
11     Heaven Is Falling
12     The Answer
13     Flat Earth Society
14     Modern Man
15     No Control
16     Fuck Armageddon... This Is Hell
17     Two Babies In The Dark
18     Tomorrow
19     You Are (The Government)
20     21st Century (Digital Boy)
21     Automatic Man
22     We're Only Gonna Die
23     Only Entertainment
24     No Direction
25     Atomic Garden
26     I Want To Conquer The World
27     Best For You

Let us know your opinion on the early nineties BR sound in the COMMENTS section!

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Epitaph Records


Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bad Religion: Live at the Hung Jury (1986)

A reminder that at one point in the history of American Hardcore, Bad Religion's (more HERE) containing two members of The Circle Jerks (guitarist Greg Hetson, obviously, but also on this tour drummer Lucky Lehrer) would be their greatest selling point. Reversals of fortune occur, even in punk rock. This surprisingly decent-sounding recording comes from a ten-date East Coast tour that the band did in 1986 promoting  the EP Back to the Known, all of which gets played here. As well we're treated to a Germs cover and, fittingly, a Circle Jerks cover. A fine night's entertainment.

    1.  We're Only Gonna Die
    2.  Part III
    3.  Latch Key Kids
    4.  What Can You Do
    5.  Damned To Be Free
    6.  Along The Way
    7.  New Leaf
    8.  Faith In God
    9.  Yesterday
    10. Voice Of God Is Government
    11. Bad Religion
    12. Politics
    13. Media Blitz (Germs Cover)
    14. Doing Time
    15. Parade Of The Horribles (Circle Jerks cover)
    16. World War Iii
    17. Fuck Armageddon
    18. Slaves

Let us know your take on this less celebrated era in BR history in the COMMENTS section!

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Epitaph Records


Friday, March 1, 2013

Bad Religion: Along the Way (1989)

This is Bad Religion at one of their peaks, the 1989 European leg of the Suffer tour. Considering the band was still comparatively low-profile in the late eighties, it's kind of amazing that they had fourteen shows filmed so well. The video's editors decided to cut back and forth between the footage from the different shows, meaning that the band member's shirts (or lack thereof!) seem to change from shot to shot. The soundtrack is, however, of one piece and it's pummeling!

Let us know your take on this era in BR history in the COMMENTS section!

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Epitaph Records