Friday, December 29, 2006

Hey, How 'bout Some Christmas Cheer!

During the holiday season everyone loves listening to the same old Christmas/Holiday tunes, for me A Charlie Brown Christmas by the Vince Guaraldi Trio always gets me in the mood. Another favourite that always made me laugh is the Alvin and the Chipmunks Christmas which I haven't listened to in years because the cassette is buried somewhere in the basement (I think?). When I was growing up, my dad always spun Perry Como's Christmas Album, usually to the groans of my brother, sister and I.

Believe it or not, there is lots of semi-cool holiday related music out there. Please have a listen and if you have other alternative-X-Mas tunes to share with us, let me know. I've lifted some music from other blogs and enjoyment.

Rugburns- I Hate F*cking Christmas
Yo La Tengo- Rock N Roll Santa

AsobiSeksu- Merry Christmas (I Don't Wanna Fight)

Velocity Girl- Merry X-Mas I Love you
Michael Stipe- We're Not So Bad [from Olive the Other Reindeer]

REM- Ghost Reindeer In The Sky
Young Fresh Fellows- O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Pretenders '79 BBC Sessions

I was so excited about the Pretenders re-issue of their first two albums (see last post), that I had to fill my fix by listening to some live Pretenders. I know for a fact I had several live shows with the original line-up burned to disc in one of my many many storage boxes in one of the rooms of my house. I love Christmas..well kind of..I DO love those Christmas oranges, you know the ones, the mandarines from China and Japan that are easy to peel and sweet to eat. Anyways, they come packed in 5 or 9 lb orange coloured boxes that fit CD's quite nicely, so at Christmas time we go through about half a dozen boxes and word got out at work I need more boxes, so my house is now overcrowded with CD filled orange boxes. Right now I have a few more boxes worth of CD's that need storage (to keep from falling on the floor), so I have to go and fill my vitamin C quota for the day.

I eventually found a few of the discs I was looking for and one of the better sounding ones is a disc with BBC sessions recorded in 1979, the year before their first album was released. I have 4 songs from an in-studio session for February of that year, as well as 4 songs from an in-studio in July. I have posted for your listening pleasure a portion (all I have) of the BBC "In Concert" '79 radio broadcast, I don't have the exact date nor the location of this live concert, but it is a pretty good sounding show. In fact it's so good I have to share this!

The Pretenders BBC "In Concert" 1979
The Wait
Stop Your Sobbing
Cuban Slide
Brass In Pocket
Tattooed Love Boys
Mystery Achievement

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Re-issues: Pretenders I and II

Always a popular gift idea is the re-issue of a previously released album that has been re-mastered and re-packaged with a truckload of bonus tracks (+ xtra disc). On Both Pretenders I and II, the first disc is the original remastered album, while disc #2 features demos, unreleased and live tracks. The live cuts especially showcase what a great band the original line-up was, the Pretenders were made up of Chrissie Hynde, the late James Honeyman-Scott, the late Pete Farndon and drummer Martin Chambers

Believe it or not, the first Pretender's album was issued almost 27 years ago in January of 1980. The year previous they had released the singles for Stop Your Sobbing, Kid and Brass In Pocket. If you didn't own the album, these were the songs that you would have identified the Pretenders with. When I first heard the whole album I was completely blown away, the other songs rocked way harder than the radio hits and the range in material from punk to rock, instrumental to ballad is solid! One of the local FM radio stations back in the early 80's played complete albums uninterupted at midnight. Certain nights were designated as "classic album nights" playing such treats as Sticky Fingers, Dark Side Of The Moon, Beggars Banquet, Who's Next, Led Zeppelin IV etc. A fine introduction to some essential stuff for listeners who suffered through the repeated playing of only hit singles. Of course in those days I taped everything including Pretenders I, I listened to that tape for years (I was too cheap to buy the album), even though my radio recorded copy had skips on two of the tracks on side one. Obviously, this upgraded CD will continue to provide me with many more happy listenings.

Pretenders II was the last album with the short-lived original line-up, both Honeyman-Scott and Farnden overdosed after the release of II and musically the group was never the same. I admit Learning to Crawl (3rd album, 1982) was my second favourite Pretenders album and it was a big hit on radio, but the group never regained the same intensity and edge as their previous discs. The Pretenders became known as Chrissie Hynde and her revolving door of backing musicians and I kind of lost interest. I honestly don't think I can name more than 2 or 3 songs the Pretenders have done since 1986 (that's 20 years ago!). For any newer fans of the band these re-issues are a wonderful way to discover the early songs that made them famous. Needless to say, Pretenders II reissue has some fine moments as disc 2 is almost entirely live versions. Still high energy and tight, yet maybe slightly more reserved, the more I listen to II, the more I appreciate how classic this album is!

Pretenders I
Brass In Pocket (demo, much slower version) she says, "Your special" instead of "I'm special" , changes the meaning of the song?
Kid (demo)
Precious (live)
Tatooed Love Boys (live)

Pretenders II
Message Of Love (live)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Still Worth 75 Cents: Velvet Underground Acetate

I guess somethings can sometimes be too good to be true. The Globe And Mail Newspaper has reported that the buyer of the VU acetate offered up on eBay last week is a sham! This may seem harsh, but what else can you say about this overly hyped (by guys like me) auction with major media coverage across North America. The winning bidder, Mechadaddy outbid the next person by only $100 and he registered that bid about three and a half hours before bidding closed, so he probably didn't bid-snipe it. If his attention seeking story is to believed, it might have been just bad luck his "friend's" bid stood. With the amount of bids rejected and withdrawn, because of low feedback and probable lack of funds, it's a wonder how this one slipped past eBay.

So this means I still have a crack at this prized possession, too bad my eBay feedback is kind of low (20) and I don't think my credit card can handle anything more than a few more Christmas presents. Warren Hill says he's not the most passionate of VU fans, anyone that knows me knows I'm a very big fan of the Velvet's and I wouldn't mind framing this disc for my living room. Hmmm.. it would sure look good on my wall when the folks come over for Christmas, but there would be a lot of explaining to do when they find out I mortgaged the house.
In case you can't link to the G & M article, I'll save you the dollar and publish it below.

Rare acetate still seeks buyer

Reports that Velvet Underground pressing fetched $155,000 false, JAMES ADAMS reports

Monday, December 11, 2006

The fabled acetate of the Velvet Underground's famous first recording is still worth only 75 cents (U.S.).

This is because the highest bidder in a 10-day online auction for the fragile acetate that ended last Friday evening "has proved to be bogus," a disappointed Warren Hill said yesterday. He's the 30-year-old Montrealer who, in September 2002, innocently paid 75 cents for the 12-inch, nine-song acetate after finding it at a street sale in New York's Chelsea district. Later he determined the acetate was, in fact, a test-pressing of sorts, from 1966, of the Velvet Underground's first-ever recording session in a grungy New York studio.

Hill and a friend, Portland, Ore. record-store proprietor Eric Isaacson, arranged this fall to have Saturn Records of Oakland, Calif. oversee the sale of the acetate on eBay, starting Nov. 28. By around 11:30 p.m. ET Friday, the auction's closing, the winning bid seemed to be $155,401 (U.S.) from a buyer called "mechadaddy" apparently living in the Los Angeles area. Yesterday, the major news services, including Reuters and Associated Press, were in fact reporting that the disc sold for that sum. When the Globe reached Hill, though, the story was different.

On the weekend Saturn received an e-mail from the supposed winner who said a friend, unbeknownst to him, had, as a lark, bid on the acetate using his (the supposed winner's) computer at work and account number. "Ohmigod, I'm so sorry," the e-mail read in part. "I can barely afford gas for my car" let alone more than $150,000 for a 40-year-old disc of acetone-covered aluminum.

The Hill acetate has attracted considerable attention in the last two years, largely because of its rarity.

There may be only one other one in existence. As well, the sequencing, arrangements and mixes of the material are different from what was eventually released, in 1967, as The Velvet Underground and Nico album. That recording, with a cover by Velvets' mentor Andy Warhol, was recently voted the 13th greatest rock record ever by the editors of Rolling Stone.

Speaking from Backdoor Records and Pastries, the business he owns in Montreal, Hill admitted he's "totally" disappointed by the turn of events. At the same time, "I kind of had my doubts early on . . . especially when the numbers started to jump more than we thought they would."

Hill, Isaacson and Saturn Records figured "realistically" the acetate might sell for between $10,000 and $30,000. Bidding, in fact, stayed within the low to mid-five figures for the first five or six days of the auction, but then leaped into the $100,000 realm on Dec. 3. By Wednesday last week, it had reached $130,000.

Asked what's next for the acetate, Hill said "there's a couple of different things that might happen," but he refused to specify what they are. One possibility might be to find -- or at least try to find -- a legitimate under-bidder among the 200-plus individuals who posted offers online. Another might be to sell the acetate at a live auction, possibly at one of the more reputable record conventions in the U.S.

Truth be told, Hill's not the most passionate of Velvet Underground fans. A recent graduate, in history, from Concordia University, he's president of the self-founded Irma Thomas and Minit Records Fan Club (Thomas is a New Orleans soul singer, Minit a now-defunct indie record label) and the publisher of a music fanzine called $2 (Comes with Mixtape).

"Right now I'm getting caught up in Christmas," he said. He'll be shutting up Backdoor Records and Pastries shortly to head out to Vancouver to visit his parents. Then early in the new year, he's off to Taiwan for a visit he describes as "part holiday, part scholarly."

Good luck to Warren and I hope he finds a legit buyer, i'm sure this story isn't over yet...stay tuned. Let me know what you think!

update Dec 14: Second chance! Listed again on eBay, starting bid of $0.99, bidding ends December 21st 14:04 pst. this auction is restricted to pre-approved bidder only.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Young Fresh Fellows "Picture Book"

Life couldn't get much better than this, more Young Fresh Fellows videos, I just couldn't resist! You may have seen this already at (though the link doesn't work anymore), but this video is worth seeing over and over. "Picture Book" is from "This One's For the Ladies" album circa 1989, this is the Fellows in their prime. A great rendition of the old Kinks tune from the "Village Green" album, I know Ray Davies would be proud.

Hmm.. 4 drummers? For you YFF newbies, do you know which one is their "real" drummer? (for the answer, watch the KTZZ-TV clip).
Young Fresh Fellows (1992) KTZZ-TV, Seattle

Here's a sweet gem, my favourite band, the Young Fresh Fellows in a rare television performance! It's not Letterman or even Conan, but it was shown on a local Seattle TV station, "The Spud Goodman show". The Fellows perform "She Sees Color", "99 Girls" and "Monkey Say" from their (then) new album "It's Low Beat Time". I have had the fortune of seeing the Fellows live twice, the first time was Winnipeg in '91 then in Vancouver with TMBG in 1992. They were without a doubt the BEST live band I have ever seen. They now only play a show or two a year since Scott McCaughey is busy most of the year with his fullish-time band, the Minus 5 along with supporting roles in REM and Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3. If you have the opportunity to see the Young Fresh Fellows live..see them! Enjoy!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Christmas Gift Idea #1: Velvet Underground Acetate on Ebay

If you're looking for the ideal gift for the hard to buy for (like me, hint, hint!), check out this item on Ebay. It's the 1966 acetate for the first Velvet Underground LP and according to the item description, it's "arguably the rarest and most important rock'n'roll and pop-art artifact in the world". In case you can't link to the item description on Ebay or the auction for this item mysteriously disappears, I've copied this intriging story for the benefit of you readers! (warning: it's quite long)

Following is excerpted and adapted (with the author's approval) from the article written by Eric Isaacson of Mississippi Records in Portland Oregon which is featured in the December 8, 2006 issue of Goldmine Magazine currently on newsstands through mid December:


In September of 2002 Warren Hill of Montreal Canada was perusing a box of records at a Chelsea, New York street sale when he happened upon a nice Leadbelly 10" on Folkways, a water damaged copy of the first Modern Lovers LP on Beserkely, and a brittle 12" piece of acetone-covered aluminum with the words "Velvet Underground. 4-25-66. Att N. Dolph" written on the label. He purchased the three records for 75 cents each.

As I have a small knowledge of records and am an old friend of Warren's, I got a call from him the next day in which he described the acetate. Because of the date and the unique type of pressing, we both agreed that it was probably an in-studio acetate made during the recording of the first Velvet Underground LP back in 1966 (I had heard that they occasionally would have a vinyl cutting lathe in the studio to cut records of the day's recordings for the artists and/or producers to take home for review). Warren didn't want to play the mysterious platter due to the fragile nature of acetates, and the cheap nature of his record needle, so we agreed that the next time he was visiting me in Portland we would check it out together. If it turned out to be what we thought it was, maybe we could sell it at Mississippi Records, the small neighborhood record store in Portland that I work at. Sight unseen and sound unheard, I assumed that it was likely an acetate pressing of the recording which would be eventually be released as the group's first album, "The Velvet Underground & Nico".

It took awhile for Warren to visit, but when he did he brought along the acetate. We cued it up and were stunned -- the first song was not "Sunday Morning" as on the "Velvet Underground & Nico" Verve LP, but rather it was "European Son"- the song that is last on that LP, and it was a version neither of us had ever heard before! It was less bombastic and more bluesy than the released version, and it clocked in at a full two minutes longer. I immediately took the needle off the record, and realized that we had something special. Between the two of us we had heard many Velvets outtakes on both official and less than official releases, but the present material had never been heard by either of us.

The next few days found us scrambling for clues and information about what to make of this find; calling every record collector/historian we knew and reading everything we could find concerning the early recordings of the VU. We pieced together that this was probably a surviving copy of the legendary Scepter studios recordings which had been regarded as lost (hence the epic moniker "the lost scepter studios recordings" applied to these unheard sessions over the years). The recording is comprised of the primitive first "finished" version of the LP that Andy Warhol had shopped to Columbia as a ready-to-release debut album by his protege collective "The Velvet Underground".

This acetate, which is possibly the only surviving copy, represents the first Velvet Underground album as Andy Warhol intended it to be released.

Though the same compositions and even a few of the same "takes" (albeit in different mixes) were used on the subsequent commercial release, that which was eventually issued as their debut album on Verve, "The Velvet Underground & Nico", was a significantly different creation. I had heard of these nascent recordings before... it was said by some that the master tapes had burned in a fire, by others that all of those recordings ended up being on the released album, and still by others that the only existing copy of that material was on an acetate owned by David Bowie, and that he was known to tout it as his most prized possession.

The truth about what we held was fuzzy until Warren managed to track down the N. Dolph referred to on the label for an interview.

Norman Dolph was a perennial in the New York art & music scene of the 1960's. He worked as a sales representative at Columbia Records through 1967, and was deeply involved with different facets of the independent music world on the side. Andy Warhol, who was managing the Velvets at the time, contacted Dolph & offered him a painting in exchange for services as "ghost" (uncredited) producer for the Velvet's first recording session. Warhol wanted to record a Velvets album before they had a record company behind them as this would tend to minimize meddling label executives' mobility in compromising the musical arrangement's distraught primal force, not to mention the unprecedented taboo lyrics which openly address sex, drugs, and depravity. Warhol's plan was to have Dolph record it and then shop it around to labels (first & foremost Columbia) as a finished recording.

...and so Dolph rented out Scepter studios, and with an engineer named John Licata by his side, they recorded the Velvets for four days. At the time Scepter studios was between reconstruction and demolition with walls falling over and holes in the floor. Velvets' bass & viola player John Cale would later recall the environment as "Post-Apocalyptic".

Dolph took the master tapes made during this session to the Columbia building, which still had an in-house pressing plant, and cut the acetate "after hours" with people he knew on the inside. Dolph then sent the acetate to Columbia to see if they were interested in releasing it. It was returned promptly with a note that said something akin to "do you think we're out of our f**king minds?" Dolph then gave the acetate to Andy Warhol or John Cale, he cannot remember which.

Six of the songs recorded during the Scepter session made it on to the "Velvet Underground & Nico" LP, albeit with radically different mixes. The other four songs were re-recorded in LA by Tom Wilson. As far as we know, the only listenable copy of the original versions of Heroin, Venus In Furs, I'm Waiting For The Man, and European Son exist on the acetate that Warren found. (A Japanese bootleg of the same material did appear, but in poor, arguably ‘unlistenable' sound quality. It is possible that the source tape for the Japanese bootleg was made from this very acetate decades when it was in different hands. Who knows?) We have since realized that we are in possession of a likely one of a kind artifact - the first recordings by one of the most influential rock bands of all time!

After establishing the authenticity of Warren's find we photographed the item and made a high quality digital back-up copy of the material. A media frenzy ensued, with articles appearing in Rolling Stone, Mojo, Record Collector, The Globe & Mail, and many other news sources. Calls started flooding in from people interested in buying the acetate, as well as record companies interested in releasing the songs on it. After much consideration, we decided that it would be best to release it to the highest bidder through an auction facilitated by our good friends at Saturn Records in Oakland, California (a store that has a well-established presence in the international vinyl collecting community, and an excellent reputation on the internet).

As to the most interesting mystery brought up by the appearance of this item - how did such an important artifact disappear for 37 years & end up at a Chelsea New York yard sale priced at 75 cents? ...We have no answer.

Wow! As I write this the bidding is well over $100,000 with over 4 days left for auction. I seriously can't see any old fan buying this, it would have to be a record label or someone that will officially release this to the masses to make a profit. The actual disc should find it's way into the Rock'n'Roll Hall Of Fame And Museum in Cleveland or the EMP in Seattle.

I have this recording to share, it's taken from a different and supposedly noisier acetate than the one mentioned in the article. This acetate has lots of scratches/pops and surface noice, so you've been warned. If you want the uncompressed version, you can get it here . (Trader's Den, you'll need to register) If you have problems listening/downloading the songs, please let me know.

The track differences between the acetate versions and the commercial recordings on "The Velvet Underground & Nico" are detailed as follows:

1.European Son -completely different version,. Guitar solo is much bluesier. Less noisy and experimental. Longer by 2 minutes or so.

2.Black Angel's Death Song-Same take as released version. Different mix.

3.All Tomorrows Parties-Same take as released version. Different mix.

4.I'll Be Your Mirror-Same take as released version. Radically different mix. No echo on Nico's vocals. Background vocals on end of song are more subdued.

5.Heroin-Completely different take than released version. Guitar line is different. Vocal inflections different, and a few different lyrics. Drumming is more primitive & off kilter. There is a tambourine dragging throughout the song.

6.Femme Fatale- Same take as released version. Radically different mix. Percussion more prominent. Alternate take on background vocals. Much more "poppy".

7.Venus In Furs- Different take than released version. Vocal inflections completely different. Instrumentation more based around Cales' violin than the guitar as in the released version.

8.I'm Waiting For The Man- Different take than released version. Guitar line is completely different. Vocal inflections different, and a few different lyrics. No drums, just tambourine. Bluesy guitar solo.

9.Run Run Run- Same take as released version. Different mix.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Sitting On My Hard Drive

Two CD's that have been taking up space on my hard drive and the Nano for the past month; the sophomore release by the Magic Numbers and the highly anticipated disc by the Shins.

Magic Numbers - Those the Brokes (2006)
This disc was officially released at the beginning of November, but I had the pleasure of finding an advance copy at least a month before. I must admit, the first listen didn't immediate impress me compared to the first time I heard their debut. The first album was so different from what I was listening to at the time, a fresh, crisp poppy saccharine delight, almost a guilty pleasure of boy/girl vocals that kind of recalled the Mamas and Papas (the M.N.'s are made up of 2 sets of brothers and sisters). After multiple listens (presently my most played), something finally clicked, this is a great disc! A slightly more lush, full sound, it still has my toes a tapping 'n' bobbin' my head. I know this album won't make these folks indie gods yet, like the Shins, but this is will definitely grab some attention on this side of the Atlantic (they are from the UK).

Magic Numbers

This Is A Song mp3
Take A Chance mp3

The Shins - Wincing The Night Away (2007)
Like the Magic Numbers CD, I had an advance listen to the new Shin's disc which is actually due out January 23, 2007. You won't find this in stores for Christmas, but I can offer up a couple of downloads. I've been listening to this one quite a lot as well, but I still haven't been completely satisfied. Their sound has a much more "grown up" feel to it, perhaps because they veer off to try different styles, and experiment more with strings and synth. I'm not sure how I would rank this release to their two previous discs, which I would consider Indie classics, Wincing..will be an attempt to grab some mainstream attention and I'm sure many of their songs will make it onto soundtracks in the very near future. Everytime I listen to this I find a little bit more to like, they have an infectious sound that you can't avoid, it's pretty safe to say, the future is very bright for the Shins.

The Shins
Australia mp3
Phantom Limb mp3
Girl Sailor mp3

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Angela Desveaux - Wandering Eyes Part 2

Here's a good companion video to the piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the lovely Angela Desveaux. I think this is my new favourite song, and watching her perform it makes it that much better! I think I'm in love..not just with her, but also that beautiful guitar she's playing.
All Eyes On The Shins

Found this interesting piece about the band the Shins. It documents the band asking their fans to video them using their cell phones or digital cameras and to upload the footage. Nearly two hundred clips were pieced together to make a live audience compiled music video for their then unreleased single, Phantom Limb. This is my first time posting a Youtube video on this blog, so hopefully it works, let me know if you have problems viewing the clip.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Remember The Nils?

As previously mentioned, CBC's Brave New Waves late night radio program opened my eyes to a lot of new alternative and underground music, such as a memorable live in-studio session featured the Nils, from Montreal. If you don't remember the Nils, they were one of the most influential and important punk/post-punk Canadian bands in the 80's, they were largely over-looked and under-rated. Though they only released one full-length album, the Nils put out several Ep's and appeared on many Montreal and Canadian compilations.

I'm not sure of the date of the Brave New Waves session, I suspect it was from around 1987 or 1988 and I vaguely remember hearing this when it was aired. The Mp3's are taken from their CD, Green Fields In Daylight (released in '97), which is an excellent collection of early compilation tracks, live tracks, demos, and the Ep's. If you have any interest in the Nils at all, this is a great introduction to their punk legend. Their sound is a lot more polished and produced on their self-titled full-length album from 1987 (yes, that's my LP pictured), but this is one of my favourite albums of the 80's, (right up there with the Replacements Let It Be and Husker Du's New Day Rising), Canadian or not. Enjoy!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wandering Eyes

Finding something interesting on the radio has always been a challenge. The city I live in didn't even have a campus radio station until after I graduated in the late 80's and the local classic rock stations spewed out the same stuff I heard in high school. Over 10 years later we have three university stations, U of M, U of W and Red River College. All these stations actually give some exposure to local bands and less known performers. The national broadcaster, CBC believe it or not, has exposed me to many new and interesting musicians.

Back in the mid eighties, a late night CBC radio show called Brave New Waves profiled indie and alternative music and culture. This show helped influence and shape my taste in music, providing music that was outside the mainstream, especially without college radio. I spend my University nights in bed with headphones discovering "new" music, at least to my ears. When I heard a cool song, I would grab a pen and jot down the name of the band and song title. Bands like Husker Du, Volcano Suns, The Nils, DOA, Half Man Half Biscuit, Minutemen, Sonic Youth... what would my life have been like without CBC-FM?...probably would be waiting for a "new" Boston album to come out.

Through the nineties, CBC had some other good music shows such as Nightlines, DNTO and on Saturday nights, a show that played concerts and in-session performances, much like on CBC radio 3.

More recently I was tuned in to CBC 2 (FM) at work, to a national afternoon show called Freestyle, with co-hosts Kelly Ryan and Cameron Phillips. These two are barely tolerable, but some of the music they play isn't too bad. There's lots of good Canadian content, such as the Arcade Fire, Sadies, Paper Moon, Plumtree, Jale and some newer acts like the Bicycles and Angela Desveaux.

Angela Desveaux - Wandering Eyes
Everyone that I've played this to has asked, who is this? Up until a month ago I would have thought the same. When I first heard Heartbeat on the radio, I thought this was something new from Kathleen Edwards. I have a soft spot for laid back, almost country-ish melody and harmonies and that song raised my curiosity and convinced me to seek out more about Angela. The album has some other moments as well, Wandering Eyes has a poppy feel to it, Sick Of Fools is more country-rock, kind of reminds me a bit like Allison Moorer and All the Talk is the rock song (does the guitar intro remind you of the Weakerthans song This Is A Fire Door Never Leave It Open?..check it out). The rest of the songs are slower or more folkier, which is okay, she has a great voice, but she needs to exhibit maybe more of an edge or urgency in the performance as it starts to sound too similar. She has been compared to Lucinda Williams and Gillian Welch with an alt-country twist, so her influences are first-rate, and with experience she will add even more of her own personality and character on the next release. First, have a listen to her new CD or better yet, see her live if she comes to your town!

Angela Desveaux
Heartbeat mp3 ( from Wandering Eyes)
Wandering Eyes mp3 (from Wandering Eyes)
All the Talk mp3 (from Wandering Eyes)
Bury Me Deeper mp3 ( ep 2004 version)

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hey! What's Spinnin'?

Finally lifted all the crap off the top of the dust cover on the ol' turntable. Had the urge on the weekend to listen to some vintage (and not-so vintage) vinyl, stuff I haven't listened to in a while. I thought I would first work my way through all the LP's I didn't transfer to cassette back in the 70's, 80's and early 90's. The albums I did record onto tape or CD I've probably played to death, instead I'm going to concentrate on those gems still exclusively on vinyl (in my collection, anyways).

The Beatles - Yesterday And Today (non-butcher cover)
My favourite Beatle's period was around 1965 and 1966, Beatles VI, Help, Rubber Soul, Revolver and Yesterday And Today, which contained tracks from the UK versions of Rubber Soul and Revolver and the singles/b-sides of Yesterday/Act Naturally and We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper. My only's so short, I had to flip the disc after only 15 minutes and I think side two is even shorter.

Elvis Costello & The Attractions - Armed Forces
I'm fairly burned out hearing his first two albums on the old car tape deck, but I never got around to transferring this to tape. It still sounds refreshing, those cool new wave-ish keyboards, great snare drum sound...opens with Accidents will Happen and closes with (What's So Funny Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding..killer!
Elvis Costello & the Attractions - Oliver's Army mp3

Creedence Clearwater Revival - Bayou Country
CCR's second album from 1969, not my favourite CCR (Green River, Willy and the Poor Boys) but the only CCR I have on vinyl. This one is well worn, crackling, scratchy, trebley! There are only 7 songs, but two of them are long jams, but it does contain a couple of classics, Born On A Bayou and Proud Mary.
Creedence Clearwater Revival - Penthouse Pauper mp3

Velvet Underground - VU
Released in the 80's as the lost album that should have been released (circa 1969) between the self-titled third album and their fourth, Loaded and some of these songs appeared later on Lou Reed solo albums. It sheds the screechy sound of White Light.. (2nd) and picks up the pace from the sleepy, mellow (but beautiful) Velvet Underground (3rd). It's melodic, guitar based sound, makes it the perfect transition to commercially accessable Loaded, which ironically was released shortly after Lou Reed's departure. Special treat is another Mo Tucker sung tune, I'm Sticking To You.
Velvet Underground - Foggy Notion mp3

Faces - Long Player
This is how I like Rod Stewart, bluesy, soulful, not the watered down mush he's been spewing since the late 70's. Back when he was in the Faces, Ron Wood's guitar work surpassed anything he did with the Stones. On this album, the band was just finding their legs before they spouted in full force on A Nod Is As Good As Wink To A Blind Horse, the next LP I'll be spinning.
Faces - Bad 'N' Ruin mp3

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

EZ? Archive!

If you are having any trouble accessing any of my mp3 files, don't panic! My storage file archive (where I keep the song files I post), EZArchive is in the process of switching to the new and improved(?) 3.0 system. I'm not totally sure what this will mean, but it suppose to mean it will be easier and quicker from my stand point. I've read on other blogs they are experiencing some trouble, but hopefully it is only temporary because they are in transition. I have just completed my file transfers to the new system, so I tried to upload some songs to post, but it was taking forever to connect with their server, so I'll wait a day or two. I clicked on one of my mp3's from the NP show and it seemed to play fine, so please have patience and I'll post as much as I can in these busy upcoming months. On that subject, has anyone listened to any of the music I've posted? Just curious, I'd like to post complete concerts, but again it takes a lifetime to upload and I, for some weird reason, prefer the early morning (after midnight) to write these blogs.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Exclaim! Mint Road Show - Winnipeg!

When the 15th birthday tour for Mint records and Exclaim! magazine came to town on Saturday October 14th, I half knew what to expect..well at least two thirds. Both headliners, the New Pornographers and opening band Novillero played the same venue together 8 months ago with Victoria's Immaculate Machine added as a bonus. This tour is taking all three bands across Canada, from Ottawa to Vancouver, with great exposure for the two smaller bands.

Winnipeg's Novillero opened the evening with their infectious ear pleasing power pop sounds complete with horns (trumpet and trombone). Their live show exhibits the same high energy as on their albums and these guys continue to get better everytime. Last February, I thought they blew the NP's away, this time they were given a shorter opening slot, perhaps because there was three bands instead of two. Grab their new album "Aim For The Right Holes In Their Lives" for proof of their pop perfection or see them live when they return home. Unfortunately, at the show they couldn't sell their previous release Brindleford Follies, because it was released on Endearing records, not Mint.

Immaculate Machine is probably best known as the other band that Kathryn Calder is in. Yes, Kathryn is a New Pornographer as well, which meant double duty, back to back performances. Though they weren't as energetic as Novillero, they settled into a nice new wave-ish poppy groove. They have kind of a simple catchy sound that seemed to grow on me as their set progressed. I'm always interested in how a trio presents itself, will the sound be full enough? will all the songs sound similar? Immaculate Machine has a guitar player (Brooke), drums (Luke)and keyboards, no bass, but Kathryn plays basslines with her left hand while her right plays lead.

I could go on and on about Neko Case, but I won't. Kathryn Calder has definitely made herself comfortable as a member of the New Pornographers, her voice is powerful and blends beautifully with Uncle Carl. From where I was standing, John Collin's bass seemed to boom and drown out Carl's vocals a bit, but Kathryn's voice stood above it all. This is the third time I've seen the NP's and they are definitely a tighter more polished unit. Carl didn't talk much until the encore when he was taking audience requests and he seemed to be frustrated by the requests of songs he said were "too hard to play". You know he probably had only a few songs in mind anyways that they were prepared to perform, since the many requests for "Letter from An Occupant" went again unacknowledged, we can assume they don't play that song anymore without Neko. All in all it was a better show than February, but they played only a couple of different songs.

New Pornographers Setlist: Winnipeg "The Garrick" October 14, 2006
1. Sing Me Spanish Techno
2. The Laws Have Changed
3. Jackie, Dressed In Cobras
4. Bleeding Heart Show
5. Mass Romantic
6. Testiment To youth In Verses
7. Stacked Crooked
8. All For Swinging You Around
9. The Jessica Numbers
10. The Bones Of An Idol
11. Twin Cinema
12. From Blown Speakers
13. Centre For Holy Wars
14. It's Only Divine Rights
15. Use It
16. Streets Of Fire
17. Miss Teen Wordpower
18. The Slow Descent Into Alcohol

Novillero (from: Aim For The Right Holes)
The Hypothesist mp3
Abbey (Winnipeg Oct 14, 2006)
Moonage Daydream- ( Winnipeg Oct 14,2006)

Immaculate Machine

Broken Ship mp3 (from: Ones And Zeros 2005)
Phone No. mp3 (Ones and Zeros 2005)

New Pornographers
Mass Romantic (Winnipeg Oct 14, 2006)
Twin Cinema
( Winnipeg Oct 14, 2006)

For a download of the full concert : (Dimeadozen) or leave a request in the comments.
New Pornographers 2006-10-14 Winnipeg
Novillero 2006-10-14 Winnipeg
Immaculate Machine 2006-10-14 Winnipeg

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Anyway Anyhow Anywhere..

It's still hard to believe, not the fact the Who can still deliver a rockin' show, but that it was almost exactly thirty years since their last visit. Yep, it was October 18th 1976 at the Winnipeg Arena as part of their "Who By Numbers North American Tour", back when Keith Moon was still alive, but unfortunately I was only in Jr. High and still a couple of years before I went to my first real concert. I would love have seen the Who in their glory days, I realize that during the mid-seventies they were already on a downward slide, Who By Numbers (1975) and Who Are You (1978) weren't exactly Tommy or Who's Next, but it was the original line-up, the Ox, Moon, Roger Daltry and Pete Townsend. I took my 17 year old son to the show and explained to him the Who in the 60's and 70's were probably one of the best bands to see live, he had heard only a handful of Who songs (TV theme songs, commercials and that Simpson's episode when the town of Springfield split into two area codes, with a wall dividing the two sides) and I was hoping he could hear some of their magic.

The opening band was the energetic Inward Eye, a band from Winnipeg that has been the buzz band on the scene for the last few years, they have a record deal, aggressive management and supposeably a debut disc very soon. This must have been an incredible thrill for these three young brothers (Dave, Kyle and Anders Erikson), as they are obviously influenced by early Who and the Jam. Seeing these guys live won't compare to anything they'll record, but their energy and freshness will keep their fans coming back for more, see them in a smaller venue while you can! Their drummer (Anders) brings to mind the crazy insaneness of Keith Moon, who in many ways embodies the spirit of the original Who.

When the Who hit the MTS Centre stage at about 8:30pm I kind of knew what to expect, big screens, flashing lights, they'll open with I Can't Explain, they'll close their set with Won't Get Fooled Again (just like in 1976), and lots of distractions from watching the actual band on stage. Actually it was a good thing there were big screens because my seats for the show couldn't have been farther away, very last row in the corner of the upper deck. They had 5 moveable screens behind the stage, 2 on the sides and 1 larger screen above the stage, that way you can watch Pete noodle on his guitar and see Roger's pained expression on his face trying to hit the high notes, instead of fuzzy specks on the large stage. The 5 rotating screens were so cool, they could be butted together to form one big screen or they can be independently altered up or down and side to side with 5 different images on them. They were unbelievably clear and true to life, at one point they had video of flags waving on them and it totally looked like real flags, and another time they had images of playing cards that spun, it really looked like they were spinning. One thing though that is starting to bug me at concerts, is this increasing trend of directing extremely bright lights at the crowd, not just at the end of a song, but randomly throughout almost every song! I know it's for dramatic effect and it's makes the crowd feel like part of the show, but I found myself squinting and blocking the light from my eyes to avoid temporary blindness.

For the show itself, I wasn't disappointed, thought they didn't play anything from the brilliant Quadrophenia or the Who Sell Out and it definitely dragged during the middle portion of the show, lots of newer songs occasionally interupted by a classic such as Behind Blue Eyes and Baba O'Riley, and it gave many of the older folks in the audience an opportunity to go to the bathroom or refill their beer. The show picked up the pace towards the end of the set, with favs such as My Generation and Won't Get Fooled Again. The highlight for me, despite the guitar/amp tech trouble (that delayed the show for the second time) that caused a not-so-dramatic beginning to Pinball Wizard, was the mini-Tommy set for the encore, Pinball Wizard/Amazing Journey/Sparks/ See Me, Feel Me, all back to back, this gave Townsend a chance to showcase his incredible playing on his Strat, this was almost worth the price of admission alone. The second encore was Pete and Roger only, with a acoustic piece, Tea And Theatre, which was a fitting end to the show as it is easier to make people go home after a slow song.

All in all a fun time, I think Jesse enjoyed the show, I had a chance to see one of my favourite all-time bands and the Who showed they weren't a dated act by demonstrating after over 40 years together, they can still create new and challenging music and not rely exclusively on their hits. A co-worker of mine stood 7th row, middle on the floor and she said she could see how hard the band was trying, giving their all for their fans that paid big bucks to see them, as opposed to when she saw CSNY this July, she felt they were going through the motions. In this case, we're glad they didn't die before they got old or had a chance to return to Winnipeg.

Photos taken by Melanie Matwichuk
I didn't record the show (I was way too far away, and the sound close to the roof wasn't great), but if you want a recording of this or any other show on this tour, visit

Setlist: Winnipeg, MTS Centre October 3, 2006
I Can't Explain, The Seeker, Anyway Anyhow Anywhere, Fragments, Who Are You, Behind Blue Eyes, Real Good Looking Boy, Sound Round, Pick Up The Peace, Endless Wire, We Got A Hit, They Made My Dream Come True, Mirror Door, Baba O'Riley, Eminence Front, Man In A Purple Dress, Mike Post Theme, You Better You Bet, My Generation, Won't Get Fooled Again, Pinball Wizard, Amazing Journey, Sparks, See Me Feel Me, Tea And Theatre

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Something to Bragg About

I have some catching up to do, Billy Bragg was in town last week and I'm finally getting around to posting the show over at Dimeadozen and tonight I'm off to see the Who! I just got some freebees from the boss as she was probably fed up with my whining about the high ticket prices. Granted I'll be in highest section of the upper deck corner, but I guess seeing a legendary band 30 years past it's prime should still be a thrill. In my personal top 10 (a later subject?) of bands to see before I die, the Who would definitely be up there, especially circa 1969-74. I still haven't seen the Stones or the Kinks, but this could be the last chance to see Pete and Roger together as I'm sure one of them is due to die soon. Pete Townsend is one of my guitar heroes, he's one of my musical influences both guitar playing and songwriting, his onstage antics and the energy he puts into a live show make him a must-see.

Speaking of must-sees, Billy Bragg played here on September 26th at the Venue , or I think it's called the Garrick at the Ramada Centre, now. Regardless this hall is a much needed concert venue for the city as it's size accommodates a capacity of 700, smaller the Burt, yet larger than the WECC. There's lots of floor space to stand and the seating sightlines are decent. My only quibble would be the blandness and hollowness of the hall itself, I don't know, maybe they should put in some cash for some quality acoustics or something? The only other time I've seen Billy Bragg was at the Folk Festival and I always said I'd like to see him in a more intimate venue and to hear a complete "Billy Bragg experience". A Bragg show is half music/half talk and depending on your mood (and his) the banter can be more interesting. He always has lots to say touching on everything from politics, patron saints, Youtube, cynicism and his new book. Nothing beats the ringing of his trademark Telecaster sound and his instantly recognizable Cockney accent. Singing classics like Greetings From The New Brunette, Waiting for the Great Leap Forward and A New England makes it feel like 1990 again. Despite the electric guitar and his leftist punk outlook on life, Billy Bragg is a folk singer and will always be a folk singer, who slags the rich and seeks justice and human rights for the working poor and the poor working. In the world of superficial pop superstars and hip hop nonsense, it's refreshing to see a performer stick to the same morals and standards he set out with when he first started performing. Billy said "that while songwriter's can't change the world, they keep trying because the alternative is too unthinkable. The alternative is to give in, to give in to cynicism. The greatest enemy of those of us who want to change the world isn't conservatism, and it isn't even capitalism, it's cynicism."

Winnipeg September 26, 2006
"Greetings From The New Brunette" - Billy Bragg
"Waiting For the Great Leap Forward" - Billy Bragg
"Sexuality" - Billy Bragg

For the full concert (Dimeadozen) or leave a message.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Weakerthans - Live in Winnipeg

Whenever the Weakerthan's return home for a show it always puts a smile on my face. As far as I can remember, this show at the Burt (Burton Cummings Theatre) is probably the largest hometown crowd they have played in front of. The near capacity crowd of over 15oo fans were treated to a tight, yet relaxed set of new and older songs by the wonderful Weakerthans. I know they have a large (larger?) following state-side and sometimes I get the feeling they are unappreciated here at home, but the fact that the half an' hour encore accounted for a third of the overall show (100 minutes, 22 songs), proved that Winnipegger's couldn't get enough of John K. Samson and band. I'm not very good at writing reviews of concerts because I'm so in awe of seeing a great band live that sometimes I can't be very objective, it also is especially tough since I've been a huge follower of the band since the beginning. Check out the reviews in the local papers (Winnipeg Free Press, Winnipeg Sun) to hear what the "experts" have to say, you'll see they must have written their reviews from the same notes.

I've posted a recording of the show at EZtorrent ( It sounds really good, recorded from the middle of the first balcony with clear and balanced sound. The torrent is a lossless FLAC file, so download the appropriate software if you can, If you're not a member of EZtorrent let me know and I'll see what I can do. I'd prefer not to post the MP3's for the entire show, but here are some songs from the concert, as a teaser. Enjoy!

Winnipeg September 16, 2006.
Audience recording-1st balcony

"Aside" - Weakerthans
"Utilities" ("new" song where John K. solos) - Weakerthans
"Diagnosis" - Weakerthans
"The Reasons" - Weakerthans

Friday, September 15, 2006

The Good, The Bad And The...

One CD that has gotten a lot of play recently is the Bicycle's, "The Good, The Bad And the Cuddly" the debut album from this 5-piece band out of Toronto. They claim to pay homage to the likes of "the Monkees, Kinks, Brian Wilson and the Archies". I can hear a bit of that influence on different songs with a very grandiose sound that ranges from rockers to dreamy ballads. This album took a few listens to really appreciate the rich melodies and lush arrangements, but everytime I play this disc it has more to offer and puts a smile on my face. The Bicycles are well worth checking out.

"Gotta Get Out" - The Bicycles
"Longjohns And Toques" - The Bicycles

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Little Pictures

John K. Samson is best known for his work with the Weakerthans, but back in the early 90's he was tearing it up as Propagandhi's bass player. During 1993/94 John made some solo recordings that were released by G7 as a split CD with Winnipeg band Painted Thin in 1995. These songs have been re-packaged as a solo John K. Samson mini-CD "Little Pictures" available since August 29th, 2006 through G7 Welcoming Committee.

Don't forget the Weakerthans show Saturday September 16th at the Burton Cummings Theatre, I think there is only tickets left in the 2nd balcony, so grab 'em quick. Hopefully I'll have a recording of the show and I'll post at least a couple of songs from the concert. Let me know in the comments section if you want the complete concert, I'll let you know how it sounds first.

"Farewell Faded Memory" (from "Little Pictures" recorded in 1993/94?) - John K. Samson
"Anchorless" (original 1996 version from "Less Talk, More Rock" shorter and punchier) - Propagandhi
"Uncorrected Proofs" (live early slow version 2-24-02 Winnipeg) - Weakerthans

Sunday, September 10, 2006

"And I Feel Fine"

REM to release Best Of I.R.S Years 1982-1987
On September 12th, EMI will release the first comprehensive CD and DVD anthologies of R.E.M.'s 1980s I.R.S. Records catalog. The CD will be called And I Feel Fine…The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 and will be available in 2 formats: a 21-track single-disc collection of hits and band/fan favorites and a 2-CD Collector's Edition with a second 21-track disc of rarities including alternate takes, demos, previously unreleased mixes, and live recordings of classic R.E.M. The collector's edition will include 11 never-before released tracks. The DVD, When the Light Is Mine The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987 Video Collection, includes the music videos from Chronic Town through Document, as well as live television performances and James Herbert’s short film, Left of Reckoning. DVD extras feature early interviews and rare acoustic performances.

If you've only heard REM post-1987, you've missed out on what I considered their best work. I realize that songs like Losing My Religion and albums like Automatic For the People and Green gave them exposure to a larger mainsteam audience, but their creativity and unique sound earlier in their career is what had influenced dozens of bands in the alternative, college rock scene of the mid 80's. On their first two albums, REM created what will be considered their landmark achievements and they begin to flesh out their sound to the fullest by the time they release Document, their last I.R.S. release.
As far as Greatest Hits albums rank, this one ranks quite high for the sheer fact there's no filler or duds and considering this is only the first quarter of their career. Their previously "Best Of" collections do NOT stand up to this one, this is the essential REM. Get the collector's edition as the 2nd disc of rarities is a treat, with many unreleased tracks and demos that sound crisp and clear and well worth seeking out.

"Radio-Free Europe" (Hib-tone version) - R.E.M
"Mystery To Me" (Demo; previously unreleased) - R.E.M.
"Bad Day" (Outtake; previously unreleased) - R.E.M.
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