Archive for the ‘The Pogues’ Category

SOUNDTRACK: RHEOSTATICS-Fall Nationals, Night 3 of 10, The Horseshoe Tavern, Toronto (December 10, 2005).

This was the 3rd night of their 10 night Fall Nationals run at the Horseshoe.   Each night’s show has gotten longer, with this one reaching almost two and a half hours.

Ford Pier is back on keyboards.  They are joined by Alan Pigguns for a couple of songs and Jen Foster on accordion.

Throughout the show, someone is yelling “Legal Age Life” It never gets played–so that ought to teach you something about shouting requests.  But they are very friendly to the folks from San Diego who get lots of shoutouts.

The opening band was The Mellow Grove Band, and Tim says, “I’d only ever heard The Mellow Grove Band on CD.  I wanted to see them live.  They totally blew me away.

“Saskatchewan” is a beautiful slow opening with twinkling pianos.  Martin sang the first verse through his robot voice and it sounded pretty cool, but seemed to throw everyone off–no one did backing vocals and no one caught on to the chord changes.  Dave says he screwed him up with that robot voice, so they start over and it sounds great (and you can hear someone yell “Thank you, Martin”).

As the song ends, Martin plays a few lines of “Hey Hey, My My” before the final piano keys twinkle out and the rhythmic clapping of “Rain Rain Rain” picks up.  Dave is playing the bongos and Martin calls out “Bongo Davey!”  Dave keeps playing and Mike shouts: “You’ve got your whole life ahead of you!  You go!    Dave says “Bongo solo is supposed to be at the end of the show.”  Mike: “This is the end of the show.”  Tim: “No, it’s now or never.  Let him go a bit.”  When “Rain Rain Rain” starts, you can hear the loud woman singing along with him.  It even makes Martin chuckle.

During “Polar Bears and Trees,” Dave interjects, “the land of polar bears and trees, that’s Canada.”  Then Martin says “Hi there” which gets the Martin fans nutty.  Before singing “The Tarleks,” He does a lot of talking in the Tarlek voice: “Love what you do.  Dave Bidini, your books are such great books.  Mike, your production work…fabulous.”

Dave send the next one out to people who aren’t from:  Toronto, Scarborough, Markham, Etobicoke or  North York. Mike: what about Mississauga.  Dave says you know I don’t even acknowledge Mississauga,  mike.  You know that all of the worlds problems stem from Mississauga, let’s face it.  Tim: Our last drummer was from Mississauga.  Triumph was from Mississauga.

They play a delightful “We Went West” and then start talking about hydrating.  Dave mentions “precious bodily fluids.  It all comes back to Stanley Krueger, Krubrick.  Someone put liquid acid in my bottle of water.  Everybody knows it was the guys from San Diego.  They scored liquid acid at Queens Park today (they shout “last night”).  And you thought it was a Tylenol.

“PIN’ starts with the outro music and then launches into the intro with lots of strummed acoustic guitars.  There’s pretty twinkling sounds at the end with Martin stating “On the Dirty Blvd.”

During “Mumbletypeg,” Dave states: “We’re Klaatu from Etoboicoke.”   During the outro, three of them are all singing different things in a chaotic fugue.

While people are shouting out their requests, Dave says, “Thanks for your requests, we’ll get to them later.  Or not.  You’ll go home disappointed but we’ll have your money.  That’s the way it is. That’s the rock n’ roll business.”

This seems to get the audience riled up and I hate that you can hear people yelling and talking loudly during the opening quiet part of “In This Town.”  Whats’ wrong with these people?

Dave adds an intro to “Power Ballad For Ozzy Osbourne” “Death to you and death to me / death to the head of the company / corporate whores and superstores bring death to the future that i see / death to the men in pistols and pointed hoods who run F.M. radio and Hollywood.”  There’s some really  pretty vocals at the end of the song before Martin and I assume Ford take turns screaming the last note.

Why is someone hollering during the quiet beginning of “Northern Wish”?  Martin sings “gonna launch it from my garage.” And after that Martin seems to get lost but Dave is there to help him out.  At the “we don’t need submarines” (fucking hate em).  And then someone starts doing a doot doot submarine sound.  And then at the end, Martin is still doing the “land ho” when the band kicks into the “launch it from my pad” section.  Then Martin starts singing another verse and Dave says I believe it’s the end of the song.  So they do the land ho part again and everyone (even the crowd) sings along.

Martin: I think somebody slipped some ludes into my bottled water.   I was just enjoying the sweet grooviness of what was going on and I fell into a dream.”

Then up comes Jennifer Foster on the squeeze box.  She’ll be accompanying on “Who Is This Man And Why Is He Laughing?”  Dave: It’s a Michael Philip Wojewoda composition and it goes something like this (he plays drums really fast). Martin: “Put Dave behind the drum kit, he can barely contain himself.”  By the end on every fourth beat the audience starts shouting “oh!” in time.

We’d like to invite another beautiful person for tonight’s program, Alun Piggins.  Alun: “I’m just flattered that you called me beautiful, Dave.”  That idiot is still shouting of r”Legal Age Life” and Dave says, Al didn’t learn that.  Dave says “we;re gonna act like we didn’t discuss what to play.”  Ford: “I didn’t”  Alun: “Was that you, Mike?”  Mike: “No that was Ford, another smart ass in the group.”  Let’s do Fred.

They do a cover of Fred Eaglesmith’s “Freight Train.”  It sounds so different from anything else they play.  There’s even a harmonica solo.  It really rocks and sounds great.  I never heard the song before.

Note: When I write about kids books I try to keep the music somewhat clean.  It doesn’t always work.  And since I’m in the midst of this Rheos marathon who are usually only mildly dirty and am doing First Second books, I didn’t expect what comes next.  So, if you’re easily offended skip the next paragraph.

Alun asks if he can do a Christmas song. After some abuse, he says it’s a lonely Christmas song about a guy who spends Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day masturbating to internet porn.  Probably at triple xmas dot com.  Dave asks, Is this like that McLean and McLean song “Merry Christmas Handjob.”  Alun: No, I wrote this one.”  Dave is insulted by the McLean song saying “he calls it a handjob but he’s actually masturbating.  You know how fucked up that song is?”  Mike: “Is that from Toilet Tricks?”  Dave laughs and then admits that he does like the song. Alun’s song is called “Dirty Dirty Dirty Dirty Christmas” and it’s pretty damned dark.

When it ends, Mike notes: That man was in The Morganfields (a thrash/folk act).

“Here Comes The Image” has cool long keyboard solo and effects.  And a woman keeps shouting for “Making Progress,” but they don’t play it.

Dave says they’re going to play three songs from Whale Music, and that they’ll be doing the whole album on Wednesday.  And that tomorrow night is the all-ages show.

“King Of The Past” is a bit sloppy although Martin plays a great solo at the end: “ride that wild stallion, Martin.”  During “RDA”  Tim is pretty much screaming the backing vocals and laughing like a maniac.  Then Dave throws in a few choruses of “I’m So Bored with the U.S.A.” and starts chanting:

we have no voice
when force is the noise
when force is the sound
when guns are the melody
when wrongs are the truth
when the newspapers are the crime

Which sounds eerily prescient for 2017.

“California Dreamline” is kind of sloppy but “Feed Yourself” is really intense.

After the encore, Dave plays his two acoustic songs, “Last Good Cigarette” which he says is “our White Stripes tribute” and “My First Rock Concert.”  The end gets a kind of reggae style and Dave sings in an almost reggae-but-really-inaudible way.  Then Dave asks Ford what shows he saw at 14.  And boy does Ford have a list

Big Country, Killing Joke, The Pogues’ first European tour, Black Flag, Husker Du.  And that’s when I became a non-U2 fan.  During the Unforgettable Fire tour, when he was singing Pride and Martin Luther King was projected and I thought…this is….  Dave says, “I’m pro U2.”  Mike: “Martin and I are more into the spy plane, actually.”  Martin: “Dave said the War tour was awesome. The Waterboys opened.”

Another request for “Making Progress.”  But Martin says, “Let’s go back to the 1950s with this next number.”  Mike: “When nuclear energy was still hopeful.”  They play “Torque Torque” which segues into ” a rollicking Claire.”  Paul Linklater comes up for a solo as well.

You can hear someone ask Dave something and he says, March 2007 at Massey Hall we hope (and that did come to pass).

They end this lengthy show with a wild “Satan is the Whistler,” which they have been doing very well lately.

[READ: October 17, 2017] Crafty Cat and the Crafty Camp Crisis

I was surprised to see that this second book had come out already (and a third one is due soon).

In this book Birdie is excited to go to Craft Camp. Birdie and Evan had a deal.  He would go to Crafty Camp and afterward she would go to his house to play Pumpkins & Pirates.  And when she loses the game, she will watch him do the victory dance.

She has high expectations for what this camp will be like–a big table full of brand-new craft supplies?  Maybe the walls will be sparkly and decorated with all the cool crafts we’re going to make?

Her best friend Evan is running late and there’s an amusing scene where he shows up but has to go to the bathroom.  While he’s in the bathroom she gets a visit from Cloudy who tells her that she is a good friend.  But Cloudy won’t tell Evan to hurry because it doesn’t do bathrooms.

Evan also bursts her bubble–“Craft Camp. It’s just in our regular classroom at school.” (more…)

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dreadSOUNDTRACK: PIÑATA PROTEST-El Valiente (2013).

elvaliente-frontrgbOn the Pogues album If I Should Fall from Grace with God, they sing a song called “Fiesta” that is more or less a punk Spanish song which, while very Spanish sounding, still retains a feeling of Irishness.  Piñata Protest, a band from San Antonio who sing in Spanish and English, sounds like a similar mix of Mexico, Ireland and punk (especially on the second track, “Vato Perron”).  I feel like the Ireland comes from the accordion (one of the primary instruments on the disc), while the punk lasts throughout (the whole album is 9 songs in 20 minutes).

The band plays loud guitars at a fast pace.  And it’s amazing how well the accordion brings it all together.

The band sings a few really fast songs and a couple slower ones.  Interestingly, the slower songs (“Tomorrow Today” and “Guadalupe”) are probably the most conventional and, consequentially, of the least interesting songs on the album.  They sound like pretty typical punk pop, albeit with touches of accordion.  It’s the more fast songs like “Vato Perron” and “Life on the Border” (with the great lead accordion and the fun “Hey!” refrain) which really stand out.

“Volver Volver” is a traditional song which starts out slowly (with big guitars) and after a few verses and a very long held note, the punk can’t be contained any longer and the song ends in a blur.  The title track is a great rocker with some interesting guitar sounds an a cool accordion solo.  Then there;s the rocking (and amusing) cover of “La Cucaracha.”  It starts out as a blistering punk song with no real connection to the original until about mid way through when a lone trumpet begins laying the familiar melody.  It’s only a minute long and so is the final cut “Que Pedo” which is just a blistering punk song with lots of screaming.

And with that album is done.  It’s a fun an unexpected treat of an album, and if you like your punk musically diverse, it’s worth checking out (NPR is streaming it this week).

[READ: May 11, 2013] Dread & Superficiality

Sarah got me this book for my birthday.  If you have ever seen Annie Hall (and if you haven’t, go watch it now), you’ve seen Woody-as-cartoon.  Hample is the person who created the cartoon for the movie.  Around the time that that happened, Hample was pushing Woody to have a comic strip based around him (Hample had a moderately successful strip at the time already) and also convincing newspapers that this was a good idea.  All parties agreed and Inside Woody Allen ran from 1976 to 1984.  1984!  I can’t believe I never saw this in a newspaper.  My parents were daily subscribers to two newspapers and I know I read the comics.  Of course, I didn’t care about Woody Allen until I went to college, so maybe I did see it but ignored it.

Anyhow, this book collects a bunch of those strips (I have no idea how many but I would venture around 200–which is a far cry from the nearly 3,000 that would have been produced over those years.  But hey since there’s no other place to see these strips (there were three books published but they are all long out of print), this is a good place to start and a nice collection.  But more than just the strips, most of the book collects the original proofs of the strips, so you can see Hample’s lines and notes (there are several pieces that deal with his color choices and notes on the same).

The book is broken down into subjects and is in no way chronological.  This makes sense as it’s good to see him dealing with the same topic in different ways, but it makes for weird continuity issues (something that will obviously occur when you only select random strips).  Woody is with various women over the strip and it’s hard to know if he was after Laura for a few months or the duration of the strip.  Of course, the sections aren’t really all that different–they all deal with Allen’s philosophical attitude, his attempts to woo women, his therapist and his parents.  However, the breakdowns, while somewhat arbitrary are enjoyable. (more…)

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between heaven SOUNDTRACK: ALTAR OF PLAGUES-“Scald Scar of Water” (2013).

aopI never think of death metal coming from Ireland.  I think of punk and metal and obviously the Pogues, but noise metal?  Unlikely.   And yet here is some.  And why shouldn’t Ireland produce music like this?  There are fans everywhere.

I heard this from good old Lars at NPR.  I’ve come to expect the unexpected from Lars’ picks.  And this is no exception.  The song is six minutes long.  It has some traditional death metal stuff–growling vocals, incessant drumming and lots of noise.  But there’s a lot more going on here.  It opens with electronic noise and thudding drums.  The drums are punctuated by alternating abrasive guitar riffs.  The song meanders along until it settles down to some heavy heavy verses (I have no idea what the man is screaming about).  After returning to the buzzsaw riffs, and repeating the verse, the song suddenly stops.

At 4 minutes the whole thing stops.  There’s some scratchy noises and then some slow pulsing bass and suddenly the whole song turns into  kind of alternative metal song, complete with chanting.  It’s pretty unexpected.  I can’t imagine what the rest of the album is like.

[READ: April 17, 2013] Between Heaven and Here

This was another book that I did not like in the beginning. Well, that’s not exactly true, I enjoyed the beginning but I really didn’t like the middle and really wanted it to end soon.  Not a good way to feel about a book. The reason I didn’t stop is because it was so short.  It turns out that an excerpt from this book was in a McSweeney’s issue that I recently read (and which I haven’t posted yet).  I didn’t “get” the excerpt then, and while it makes more sense in context I still felt the section was really hard to follow.

And so was much of the book.

This is the story of Rio Seco, an area of California, and the citizens who live there.  As the story opens we learn that Glorette Picard is dead.  Glorette was a crack whore, the kind of girl who would get killed and no one would miss her.  Except that people would miss her.  She had a lot of friends and relatives who cared about her.  She even had a son, Victor, who is 17 and studying his ass off to be able to go to college.  When a boy in town finds Glorette’s body dumped in a shopping cart, he feels compelled to move her, to bring her to her Uncle Enrique because he knows that the police won’t care if some crack whore was killed.  So he moves the body and that sets in place the rest of the story.

What was confusing to me was that the novel was constructed like a series of short episodes–different people and how they knew Glorette and how Glorette affected them.  That’s not a problem, except that there’s very little indication that that’s what was happening.  It felt increasingly difficult to know who was the main character was in each section, especially since so many characters overlapped.  Which again wouldn’t have been a problem except that I really couldn’t tell which person was the narrator or at least focus of each section.  Sometimes they were never identified, other times only after several pages.  The chapter that was excerpted in McSweeney’s has virtually no names in it, it is just dialogue.  And sure the dialogue was interesting and with the novel’s context made some sense, but I’m still not sure who was in the conversation. (more…)

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I had assumed that this album was massive until an email sent around to some of my friends revealed that many of them had never even heard of the band.  So I guess it’s massive in my own little world.  Well that’s fine, I’ve always liked rougher folk music.  And there are two or three songs on this album that absolutely deserve to be massive.

If you’re like my friends and you don’t know Mumford & Sons, this album is a kind of rocking folk album (lots of banjos and harmonies).  But it’s less Fleet Foxes and more Waterboys–earnest folk with updates to the traditional sound.  The disc opens kind of slowly with “Sigh No More.” It take about two minutes to get going (and for the banjo to kick in).  In addition to the banjo (seriously, who knew a banjo could be so catchy?–well, bluegrass musicians, for one), the main selling point is main Mumford’s voice–it’s powerful, bellowing and quite emotive.

“The Cave” is the first indication that this album is going to be impressive.  It starts out deceptively simple. Once you get to the second round of the bridge, “and I….” the song soars to the heavens in catchiness, (the singer’s enunciated vowels are weird and fun too).  “Winter Winds” has a bit more Irish feel to it (Irish via The Pogues), but it also has the same kind of soaring qualities as “The Cave.”

“Roll Away the Stone” features the banjo heavily and is all the better for it.  And “White Blank Page” really features the rough-hewn vocals that are the signature of Mumford & Sons.  Never has the word “raaaaage” been so singable!

Some of the slower moments of the album kind of bog the disc down.  Of course you couldn’t play everything at breakneck speed and still have your dynamic parts sound dynamic.  So a song like “I Gave You All” opens slowly but it builds in power.  The break is welcome (although quite a lot of songs start out slow and then get faster).  But the chorus is outstanding.

The pinnacle of the album comes with “Little Lion Man” an amazingly catchy chorus (with a very bad word in it) and more raucous banjo playing.  It’s almost impossible not to stomp your feet along.  “Thistle & Weeds” is another slow builder–you can really hear the angst in his voice by the end.  The end of the album is kind of a denouement.  On my first few listens I didn’t care for the end of the disc so much but by now the album has so won me over that I can just enjoy this folkier ending.

In many ways there’s no major surprises on this disc–it’s rocking folk after all–except for just how damn catchy the band is.

[READ: February 22, 2012] “Corpse”

I wasn’t too keen on reading this story (one of the Walrus‘ longer stories) because of the title (and the accompanying picture of two boys with a deer in their sites).  I didn’t think I would enjoy a hunting story.  And yet, it started out so peaceful and zen that it sucked me right in.

It opens in a very female space.  Maura and Angie are relaxing in Maura’s house.  Well, Maura is doing yoga while Angie is relaxing.  Maura is talking about the yoni, the great universal twat. Angie visualizes a massive latex vulva that she and her boyfriend Gordon enter.  After a few moments, Angie and Maura look at each other and start cracking up.

The female space is penetrated by Malcom, Maura’s 13-year-old son, carrying the beginnings of a bow and arrow.  He wants to know what’s so funny.  They pass of a few lame jokes which he doesn’t fall for until Angie comes up with a really funny one.  One that is especially funny in the printed delivery, in which you’re not entirely sure that  joke is being told (a nice trick!).  So I won’t spoil it here.

Malcolm informs them that he is just going to shoot his arrows at cans with his friend Andrew.  But in fact they have bigger plans.  A deer has been spotted in the local dog park (they live in the city so the deer are a rarity).  After laughing at the joke, he runs off with Andrew to go hunting. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: JUNE TABOR & OYSTERBAND-“Bonnie Bunch of Roses” (2011).

Two artists that I have heard of for years but who I have never really listened to. This was described in the NPR music review as something The Decemberists might sing.  And indeed, it has a very Decemberists feel to it (which makes sense as this is a traditional song and, evidently, Tabor has been a master of this style for years.  ( I had no idea her voice was so deep–it adds a nice level of malice to this song about Napoleon.

The band is tight as they play this rollicking, dark shanty and Tabor’s voice is haunting (do I detect a similar style to Linda Thompson?) as she sings these lyrics of loss.  The music builds and builds as the song reaches its climax, but what’s neat is that Tabor never really changes her tone.  She is matter of fact, despite how sinister the music becomes.  It’s a very cool song.

I did some research and found out that tabor and the Oysterband got together in 1990 for the album Freedom and Rain, which was a collection of traditional songs as well as covers of Richard Thompson, The Velvet Underground, The Pogues, and Jefferson Airplane (I can’t believe that album is pretty well out of print–it sounds amazing).  This collaboration is more or less a follow-up, with more traditional songs and covers of PJ Harvey, Joy Division and others.

I’m really looking forward to listening to this disc and to what will certainly be the triumphant re-release of their first disc collaboration quite soon.

[READ: September 14, 2011] Storm Warning

Book Nine in the 39 Clues series made me feel like a kid again.  I started reading it when I got home from work and I stayed up till way late in the night to finish it.  Unlike when I was a kid, though, I am really suffering for staying up so late last night.

Storm Warning was written by Linda Sue Park, the first woman to write in the series.  And, appropriately, this is a very female-centered book.  We learn a lot about Nellie (finally, her story is explained!), the story focuses somewhat more on Amy than on Dan, there’s more evilness from Isabel Kabra, but most importantly, the clues lead them to two important women in history. 

They head down to the Caribbean–although they are undecided about whether to go to the Bahamas or Jamaica (Dan wants to go to the Bahamas to go to the greatest water park in the world: Oceanus–which is really the Atlantis Water Park) but Amy believes the answer is in Jamaica.  Dan convinces her and they decide to go to the Bahamas and the water park for a few hours of fun.  But the crazy thing is that before they even bought their tickets to the Bahamas, Nellie went into the bathroom and Dan received a message that the Holts were on their way to the Bahamas too.  Could Nellie be ratting them out?

On the flight down, they grill her about what’s going on.  But what happens is that for the first time in the series, we get into Nellie’s head.  Not completely, but we get to hear her thoughts.  So we know that she’s still hiding some truths, but she reveals that she has been working for Mr McIntyre and reporting to him about all of the family’s moves.  She was well paid for her services and she knew that there would be danger, but she had no idea exactly what the kids would be getting up to.  Dan and Amy are stunned.  They are betrayed and furious.  [I have to say I think they totally overreacted–Nellie saved their asses many many times along the way].  They agree to let Nellie come along with them but they’re not going to share any plans with her. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: GOGOL BORDELLO-Trans-Continental Hustle (2010).

When I first heard Gogol Bordello, they were touring for this album (thanks NPR).  Consequently, I knew this album pretty well when I bought it.  At first I felt that it didn’t have the vibrancy of the live show (how could it?).  But after putting it aside for a few weeks, when I re-listened, I found the album (produced by Rick Rubin) to be everything I expect from Gogol Bordello: loud, frenetic fun, a bit of mayhem, and some great tunes that sound like traditional gypsy songs, but which I assume are not.

While I was listening to the album, I kept thinking of The Pogues.  They don’t really sound anything alike but they have that same feel of punk mixed with traditional music.  For The Pogues, it’s Irish trad, and for GB it’s a gypsy sound–I’m not sure if it is attributable to any specific locale.  But they have a common ground in a kind of Spanish-based trad style.  From the Pogues, you get a song like “Fiesta” which is overtly Spanish.  From GB, you get songs like “My Companjera” or “Uma Menina Uma Cigana.”  Singer/ringleader Eugene Hutz has been living in Brazil, and he has really embraced the culture (and the accent).  He also sings in a kind of drunken tenor (his accent is probably more understandable than MacGowan’s drunken warble, but not always).

I’m led to understand that previous albums were a bit more high-throttle from start to finish.  This disc has a couple of ballads.  At first they seem to not work as well, but in truth they help to pace the album somewhat.

It’s obvious this band will not suit everyone’s tastes, but if you’re looking for some high energy punk with some ethnic flare, GB is your band (and if you like skinny guys with no shirts and big mustaches, GB is definitely your band.  It is entirely conceivable that Hutz does not know how to work a button).

[READ: June 20, 2011] All the Anxious Girls on Earth

I’ve really enjoyed Zsuzsi’s stories in recent issues of The Walrus.  So much so that I wanted to get a copy of her new book.  It wasn’t available anywhere in the States yet, so I went back and got her first collection of short stories.

This collection felt to me like a younger, less sophisticated version of Zsuzsi’s later works that I liked so much.  This is not to say that I didn’t like them.  I just wasn’t as blown as w.

“How to Survive in the Bush”
I had to read the opening to this story twice for some reason.  The second read made much more sense and I was able to follow what was going on (I think there were a few terms that I didn’t know–a 1941 Tiger Moth, East Kootenays–that were given context after a few pages.  It transpires that this is a story o a woman who has given up her life to move to the boonies with/for her husband.  The whole story is written in second person which while typically inviting, I found alienating.  It made the story harder to read for me, but once I got into the groove of it I found it very rewarding. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE RESIDENTS-Meet the Residents plus Santa Dog EP (1973/1972).

Like a proto- Negativland meets Primus, The Residents took the world by storm in 1973.  Their debut album (pictured here) bore the unmistakable tagline: The First Album by North Louisiana’s Phenomenal Pop Combo.  And so it is.

Read more about the album in the Jon Savage essay below.

“Boots” is a sampled and remashed version of “These Boots Are Made for Walking.”  “Gylum Bardot” sounds like a Primus demo.  “Breath and Length” is noise and noise and effects and a soothing female vocal singing the title.   “Consuelo’s Departure” is a noisy soundtrack to nothing and “Smelly Tongues” sounds like a hammered dulcimer with a menacing bassline behind it until the vocals come in: “Smelly tongues looked just as they felt”.   And all 6 of these songs last less than ten minutes total.

“Rest Aria” changes tempo of things.  It’s five minutes long.  It starts as a simple piano track (slightly out of tune) but it slowly adds crazy horns and what sounds like children’s instruments.  The other longish song, “Spotted Pinto Beans” comes with a kind of faux chorus (female and then male) singing a kind of call and response which is overtaken by noise.

The one-minute “Skratz” comes between these two longer songs and is mostly  mumbling spoken vocal.  “Infant Tango” sounds like a normal song.  It opens with a funky wah wahed guitar.  Of course, the skronking horns and mumbled bass vocals tell you this is not going to be a hit.  It runs 6 minutes long with a strange little “guitar solo” in the middle.

“Seasoned Greetings” (with it’s weird holiday wishes at the end) segues into the 9 minute “N-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues”).  “N-Er-Gee” is a piano “melody” which is really someone banging the same notes very hard on the piano.  The voice on both tracks sounds like the aural equivalent of blackface until the sample (a very long sample that apparently voided placement on some releases) of “Nobody But You” morphs into a manipulated sampling of the word “boogaloo” and eventually becomes a dissonant chant of the title.

The appended Santa Dog is a bit more song-like.  Totally weird songs yes, but there’s actual melodies and lyrics.  Like on “Fire”: “Santa dog’s a Jesus fetus.”  “Aircraft Damage” is mostly a bunch of people reciting bizarre lyrics over each other.  The whole EP was about 12 minutes.  It’s weird but more palatable than the LP.

Despite how much this album foreshadowed loony alternative bands in the future, there is a clear predecessor in Trout Mask Replica.  Although Captain Beefheart followed a (relatively) more conventional song structure, you can hear elements of the Beefheart within.  This album is also notable for being made in the early 70s when the technology to do this easily was very far away.  You could whip this album up in a few minutes now, but back then with splice and paste, it would take ages.

It did not sell as well as the similarly titled Meet the Beatles.

[READ: June 16, 2011] Five Dials Number 11

Five Dials Number 10 was a special issue, but Number 11 goes back to the format we know.  It sort of has a theme about lists.   It contains half a dozen short essays and one long short story by Paul Murray (author of Skippy Dies).  This issue is also something of a surprise as it weighs in at a fairly small 16 pages (sometimes smaller is perfectly fine).  The issue also raised a couple of totally weird coincidences which I will point out as they come up.

CRAIG TAYLOR-A Letter from the Editor: On Wilton’s and Lists
Number 10 was designed to be ready for an evening at Wilton’s Music Hall on February 26th.  But the real theme of the issue is lists.  In part this is inspired by the Raymond Chandler entry, it’s also inspired because Taylor keeps lists around the office.  At the end of the letter he provides a list of all of the notes he’d left to himself in the office.  Some are about the issue (Paul Murray manuscript), other are seemingly more random (USA 5 Canada 3, men’s Olympic ice hockey result;  Canada 7-Russia 3, men’s Olympic ice hockey result; ‘Range Life’–Pavement).  And the one that is most coincidental to me–(The Umbrellas of Cherbourg–Jacques Demy).  This is coincidental because on the day that I read this, my friend Lar wrote a post about this very movie, which was completely unknown to me. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE DUBLINERS-30 Years A-Greying (1992).

The Dubliners were an Irish folk grew founded in 1962.  Probably the most notable thing about the band was lead singer Ronnie Drew’s voice, which out-gravels Tom Waits in depth and impact.

I don’t know a heck of a lot about them as a band or their impact on traditional Irish music, but Wikipedia tells me that they were a major force in the export of trad music.  So there.

So if you like traditional Irish music (that’s not as “pretty” as some artists).  The Dubliners are a good resource.)

When I bought this album many many years ago, I was under the impression that it was a greatest hits with extras.  In fact it’s not (although there are a number of classic trad songs here).  The selling point is that there are a lot of guest vocalists (The Pogues, of course, among others).

But I think a cheaper, shorter compilation would be the way to go, (you’d definitely want “Finnegan’s Wake” for instance).  And I have to say I was a bit surprised by the inclusion of “The Rose” (even if The Hothouse Flowers are on it, too).

Nevertheless, if trad Irish music is what you’re after, The Dubliners are your man.  And they’re named after the Joyce book, too.

[READ: Week of July 19, 2010] Ulysses: Episodes 4-6

I would be remiss if I didn’t include a link to the Infinite Zombies discussion about Ulysses. There’s some great stuff there!

This week’s reading introduces us to Leopold (Poldy) Bloom.  We meet his wife Molly and learn about their daughter Milly (who is away) and their son Rudy who died in childbirth.  The most notable thing about these three Episodes is that, despite the continued use of interior monologue, they sound so different.  Whereas Stephen’s was very intellectual (ineluctable modality of the visible, and all), Leopold’s is much more visceral.  He focuses quite a lot on excrement and organs.  And of course, there’s Bloom’s very introduction:

Episode 4 “Calypso”
“Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls” (45). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: THE POGUES-If I Should Fall From Grace with God (1988).

So the cover of this album has James Joyce on it (and a hilarious pastiche of the rest of the band).  I guess we know what we’re in for, then.  This is the Pogues third album and the one that tamed the wildness of their first shambling discs into a (somewhat) presentable collection of songs.  And, jaysus, it’s fantastic.

The Pogues seamlessly blended punk and traditional Irish music (and on this disc they expanded into latin & middle eastern motifs too).  The first track opens with a fast paced Irish whistle playing what is pretty darn close to a jig.  And then Shane MacGowan (whose teeth are not to be believed–or if you are lucky, not to be seen) sings his slurred, fantastic lyrics.  MacGowan always presented such a contradictory figure for this band of well dressed resctable players.  And it’s often confusing wondering how he became the front man of this band.  But he adds that certain something to make the band unforgettable.

“Fairytale of New York” is one of the most gorgeous, sad Christmas anthems ever.  It’s a duet with the much missed Kirsty MacColl and it’s moving and charming, even with the lyrics: “you scumbag, you maggot, you cheap lousy faggot, happy Christmas me arse, I pray God it’s our last.”

Then you get a crazy instrumental, “Metropolis” fast paced, manic energy and a great riff (and of course, let’s not forget the quoted musical passage too).

What’s surprising is when you get a tender ballad like, “Thousands Are Sailing.”  Lyrically it is stunning, and you wonder why is Shane singing it with that slurry voice of his.  And then you realize it works perfectly as a drunken lament.  And then you get to the chorus, and you stop caring and just enjoy the song.

They even throw in a couple of traditional songs, like “South Australia” and “Medley” (which incorporates “Rocky Road to Dublin.”)  But after “Fairytale,” I think my favorite track is “Fiesta” which is a Spanish/Mexican sounding song with loud horns and absurd faux Spanish lyrics.  Ole!

And, just so we know, it’s not all drinking and rollicking, Shane also wrote “Birmingham Six.”  “There were six men in Birmingham / In Guildford there’s four / That were picked up and tortured / And framed by the law / And the filth got promotion / But they’re still doing time / For being Irish in the wrong place /And at the wrong time / In Ireland they’ll put you away in the Maze
In England they’ll keep you for seven long days”

The Pogues would release two more albums before Shane MacGowan took off. And they’re all pretty darn good, but I’ve always been partial to this one.

[READ: Week of July 12, 2010] Ulysses: Episodes 1-3

This is my third time reading Ulysses.  The first time I was a freshman or sophomore in college and I signed up for a James Joyce class because, get this, the Canadian band Triumph had released a CD called Thunder 7 which was supposedly based on the 100-letter words in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake (which I had bought and found impenetrable).  Our teacher was intense and tried to scare everyone off (which worked for some, but not me).  The class was hard (first assignment : read The Odyssey over the weekend for a quiz on Monday).  I enjoyed Dubliners and Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man, but I thought Ulysses was pretty daunting.

I read it again when I re-took the class with the same teacher (not for credit this time, but because I wanted to, imagine that).  And that time I learned to really appreciate what Ulysses had going on for it.  I was also inspired by it to try to write challenging fiction, paying careful attention to every single word, and even possibly using different writing styles in the same book.  (The world appreciates that that never panned out).

But so the careful attention thing: Joyce spent seven years working on Ulysses.  Every single word was charged with meaning.  He even made up his own words.  And it’s very apparent that he was the inspiration for countless modern authors (for better or worse).

I’m excited to pick the book up again.  In part, because it was ranked number 1 on the MLA list of books, but also because for twenty-some years I’ve felt the book was fantastic.  And I wanted to see if I would enjoy it without guided instruction.

I was curious about which edition to read.   Since my class, when there was only really one edition available, many many editions have been published.  There’s a great discussion about this at Infinite Zombies, and I considered getting the third one Judd mentions.  But when I consulted with my old professor, he said the Gabler edition is still the best, so I went with that one.  And that edition is littered with all the notes I took from class and from the supplemental resources.

I decided not to read the supplemental resources this time (although I can;t help but look at my notes), to see what I can get from the story AS A STORY.

I remember a bunch from the class, but one thing that I distinctly remember is that to get everything out of Ulysses, you need to understand Catholicism (the mass in particular), The Odyssey, European history–especially Irish history, and popular Irish culture circa 1920.  It also helps to know Latin.  And these are all things that Joyce would have known and his audience probably would have known.  Every year we move away from its publication, means we know less about what he was writing about.  But that’s all the little details and jokes and blasphemies.  I wanted to see (with some background, which certainly gives me an advantage) if I could enjoy the story without all the help.

So… (more…)

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