Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Arcade Fire Returns To Winnipeg

The last time Arcade Fire played in Winnipeg they performed at the Burton Cummings Theatre, a near perfect venue for the band, with it's antique ornate details and a classic red velvet curtain that opens to the stage. That show was truly one of the best live concerts I have attended and I thought the band's theatrics and very visual show was well suited to the old classic theatre. Fast forward 5 years to the much larger MTS Centre, a hockey arena, not an ideal venue for a concert, but to it's credit in 2008, the MTS Centre was the 19th busiest arena in the world (11th in North America and 3rd in Canada), so it's used for more than hockey games and tractor pulls. This was my second concert at this venue (it opened in 2004), the first was the Who and I sat in the far corner of the upper deck and the sound was horrible, but this was my first arena show on the floor.

The popularity of the band has soared since their last visit, as they have impressively sold out venues across the world. In August, they sold-out two shows at Madison Square Gardens in New York, I believe they are more celebrated outside of Canada (apart from Montreal, their hometown), they are big in the states and even more popular in Europe. Their latest album, The Suburbs, debuted at #1 proving they are no longer a cult indie-rock band, but now they have hit the mainstream which means radio play, TV talk shows and more buzz than ever. I predicted they would not draw more than 5,000 fans to the show in Winnipeg, as I noticed a day before the show Ticketmaster wasn't offering tickets in the 300 section (upper deck) anymore, probably hoping to sell out the lower bowl first. I'm not doubting their fan support here, I just think half the people at the show probably only heard of this band in the last month or two, like a couple songs on the new album and are caught in the hipster hype. There was 5,500 people at the show and with a 3/4 setup in the arena it didn't seem as cavernous. Once the show started with the crowd crammed together and the blinding lights, big sound and the large drive-in movie screen behind the band, it grabbed your attention and made you forget you were in a hockey arena. Visually it was stunning, the movie screen projected artsy images and live video of the band on stage perfectly meshing with the band's soundtrack. As expected, Arcade Fire was amazing, their hyper-energetic, grandiose, highly charged style is the only way this band plays. The band members continuously switch instruments and I don't think there was a song where the instrumental set-up was the same. Regine Chassagne moved between accordion, tambourine, keyboards and did a very commendable job on the drums.

Calexico opened the show and I was impressed with what I saw. I know they played at the Folk Festival a few years back, but I would like to see them at a smaller intimate venue as headliners. A band like Calexico that has been around longer than the headliner has lots to offer and they only gave us a small sample of their quite impressive catalog. I don't know if it's just me, though I've heard similar comments, but was the sound more clearer for Calexico than for Arcade Fire? I was standing fairly close to the stage for Calexico almost in line with the overhead speakers and thought maybe I was too close, not getting enough vocals in the mix. For Arcade Fire we moved back to the middle of the floor to find the "sweet spot" to get a more balanced sound. It helped, but the wall of sound from Arcade Fire sounded muddled and boomy, granted it must be challenging being the sound guy for a large 8-member band with various instruments and the arena acoustics don't help, but I thought the headliners were suppose to have the cleanest sound. You can judge for yourself with my recording.

Speaking of recording, there is good news and bad news. First the good news, I recorded the complete Calexico set (I'll post that later) and it sounds pretty good despite the loud talkers behind me, but that's expected during the opening band's set. I also captured the Arcade Fire set and it too sounds better than when I was standing at the show, but the bad news is it's incomplete. When I started the recording, I fiddled with the sound levels and jostled for position on the floor (I yelled at and shoved a tall guy that pushed his way in front of me then stopped inches in front of me as soon as the band began), but I forgot to hit the record button again, so it was paused for the first 3 songs! Fortunately, I noticed after the third song (Keep The Car Running) and I recovered to record the rest of the show. I still can't believe it, I gotta make a check list or something to remind me for the next concert. I got this digital recorder because it was suppose to make recording shows easier and more efficient...damn, human error! The other issue with the recording was the loud idiot behind me who screamed at the top of his lungs between songs and during the quieter parts of songs. His ear splitting, "yeahhhhhh!!!" got annoying very quickly and this attention whore must have felt great pleasure every time he bellowed and everyone around him glared at him...sorry, I should have moved.
I recommend the show in loss-less format, so if you are a member, the FLAC files are posted at Dimeadozen.

For "real" reviews of the show:
Winnipeg Free Press
Winnipeg Sun

MTS Centre

Winnipeg, MB, Canada

September 23, 2010

audience master- recorded on the floor (middle)

*Ready to Start
*Month of May
*Keep the Car Running
01. Neighborhood #2 (Laika)
02. No Cars Go
03. Haïti
04. Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains)
05. Half Light II (No Celebration)
06. Rococo
07. The Suburbs
08. Ocean of Noise
09. Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)
10. We Used to Wait
11. Neighborhood #3 (Power Out)
12. Rebellion (Lies)

14. Intervention
15. Modern Man
16. Wake Up

*not recorded

ARCADE FIRE- Winnipeg 2010-09-23 rar.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Scruffy The Cat- High Octane Revival

Here's one more from Scruffy the Cat, their first EP release, High Octane Revival. Super catchy and rootsy, Scruffy rocks out a bit more on this 6-song EP that would make a great disc teamed up with their first full-length, Tiny Days. I'm not sure if this is available on CD or not, but no matter, download this and enjoy. You'll be hard pressed to find any album (or EP) that is this consistently good, all six songs are "must-hear", too bad the band's not together anymore. This is another band I would be thrilled to see reunite in some form or another.
...and yes, life is fun!!

High Octane Revival (1986)

01. 40 Days & 40 Nights
02. Land Of 1,000 Girls
03. Life Is Fun
04. Tiger Tiger
05. Buy A Car
06. Happiness To Go

SCRUFFY THE CAT- High Octane Revival. rar

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Scruffy The Cat- Tiny Days

Here's some more music you should hear, the first full-length LP from Boston's, Scruffy The Cat. In the mid-80s, there was a local public access program called, Alternative Rockstand. The show was cheesy and low-budget with it's glasses-wearing geeky host that occasionally interviewed bands, but basically he played alternative/punk music with weird graphics or the album cover floating around the screen while the host sat in a chair in studio. Despite it's crappy look, the show actually featured some pretty decent music and on one of the episodes he played, My Baby She's Allright from the Tiny Days album. A great catchy rockin' song that instantly got my attention and led me to my local record store to track down the album.

To this day, Tiny Days is one of my favourite albums and as a bonus I have an autographed record jacket of Tiny Days framed on my wall. I put this album and the Young Fresh Fellows, Topsy Turvy on a TDK SA90 tape and I swear it's my most played tape in my collection. In those days (before iPods or mp3 players), you had to duplicate your albums onto cassette so you can play them away from home (the turntable), in the car or on the Walkman. I saw Scruffy when they opened for 54-40 (Canadian band from Vancouver) back in 1987 or 88, I didn't give a shit about 54-40 as I only went to see Scruffy The Cat's way too short set. That amazing 30 or 40 minutes confirmed my love of Scruffy, a great live band that I wish I had the opportunity to see them play a headline set before they broke up.

Tiny Days (1987)

01. My Baby She's Allright
02. Shadow Boy
03. Upside Down
04. Time Never Forgets
05. Thomas Doubter
06. Never, Never
07. Hello Angel
08. Momma Killed Hate
09. When Your Ship Comes In
10. My Fate Was Sealed With a Kiss
11. Tiny Days

SCRUFFY THE CAT- Tiny Days. rar

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mr. T Experience- Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion

Back in the mid-eighties, I discovered a great late night radio program that might be familiar to my readers from Canada. Brave New Waves ran late night during the week on CBC stereo (FM, now radio 2) and ran from 1984 to 2007. The show profiled alternative and indie music and since the local universities in my city didn't have a campus radio station, it provided a much need outlet for listening to non-commercial music. I discovered lots of good music and bands at this time, and each night I looked forward to laying in bed with headphones and listening to this program. Believe it or not, I kept a notebook beside my bed to jot down names of songs and bands that sounded interesting, so I would later search the import record store for any of these familiar titles. God, it would have been so much easier nowadays with Internet searches, myspace pages, iTunes and bit torrent downloading, it would have saved a ton of time. Around this time I started to send away to smaller record labels requesting their catalog or list of titles and receiving many hard to find records through the mail, again the Internet would have narrowed my search down dramatically.

Some of the bands I "discovered" (heard for the first time) on B.N.W are, Camper Van Beethoven, Volcano Suns, Half Man Half Biscuit, They Might Be Giants and the Mr. T Experience. I first heard the song, Danny Partridge on B.N.W and it was such a great song I had to find the album. Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion was MTX's debut album and it was released on the Discorder label and re-issued on Lookout!. This wasn't their best album, but it's goofy and fun and it got me hooked on Dr. Frank and his dumb little band and with songs such as; One Big Lie, I'm In Love With Paula Pierce and a speedy cover of Pleasant Valley Sunday, this album rocks! It's their most punk album, as they gradually moved towards a more pop-punk sound after original guitarist, Jon Von left the band to join the Rip-Offs. The Mr. T Experience were one of the early bands from the Berkeley, Bay area, Gilman St. scene in the late 80s and 90s, the same scene that produced commercially successful bands such as Green Day. I think Dr. Frank was a much under-rated songwriter than people realized, his songs may seem like they were only, "about a girl", but his satirical and keen observation of life is a reason for the band's (or Frank solo) longevity.

Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion (1986)

1. One Big Lie
2. Just Your Way Of Saying No

3. Marine Recruiter

4. Sheep

5. Surfin' Mozart
6. Danny Partridge

7. Scientific

8. Disconnection
9. Surfin' Cows

10. I'm In Love With Paula Pierce

11. Big Mistake

12. Pleasant Valley Sunday

13. Mary Mary

14. The Empty Experience

MR. T EXPERIENCE- Everybody's Entitled To Their Own Opinion. rar

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jonathan Richman- Rockin' And Romance

This week, I have decided to post some albums that I deem, "music you should hear" and hold a special place in my heart. Some of these albums were debuts that I bought when they first were released and I have followed the band ever since, while other albums will be ones that are favourites by that particular artist and have been influential on the music I listen to and follow. As well, I'm a big fan of the 80's and 90's, so if it seems like I'm ignoring "modern music", this is only temporary...bear with me.

When I think of my favourite Jonathan Richman album, Rockin' And Romance always seems be the one I keep coming back to. I have every J.R. release from the 70's and 80's and though the first Modern Lovers album was great and one of the most influential albums of the 70's, the simple charm and humour of Rockin' hasn't been matched since. The first time I saw Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers (at the Winnipeg Folk Festival) was after this album came out, actually it was probably closer to when his next album It's Time For was released and he performed (in a small tent) many songs from Rockin' And Romance. Since this was my first exposure to live J. R. it was a thrill to watch him singing and miming the pitching motions of Walter Johnson and explain how he likes to write songs about almost anything...even a Chewing Gum Wrapper. He brought to life many of the songs from Rockin' and Romance with the enthusiasm and child-like wonder only Jonathan Richman can offer. The album is filled with gems such as UFO Man, The Beach and Vincent Van Gogh, all songs my band has covered at one time or another, so you know I love this album. The sound is sparse, but the sounds are heart-warming and real.

I've been looking for an upgrade for the cassette I made from a friends album back in the mid-80's, but since there was never an "official" CD release of Rockin' And Romance (and I haven't come across another vinyl copy), I've been content with the worn-out tape. I was tempted to buy a custom burned CD from Twin/Tone Records, who are offering it up for $15 on their website. As luck would have it, I recently came across a vinyl-rip on another blog and since I promised in my mind if I get a better sounding copy than the one I have, I'll upload it on this blog.

Rockin' And Romance (1985)
  1. The Beach
  2. My Jeans
  3. Down in Bermuda
  4. The U.F.O. Man
  5. I Must Be King
  6. Vincent van Gogh
  7. Walter Johnson
  8. I'm Just Beginning to Live
  9. The Fenway
  10. Chewing Gum Wrapper
  11. The Baltimores
  12. Up in the Sky Sometime
  13. Now Is Better Than Before

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Minus 5 Gets Down With Wilco- September 15, 2001

Actually, it was more like Scott McCaughey and Wilco, on this night 9 years ago, today. Four days after the horrific events of 9/11 at the World Trade Center, the Minus 5 and Wilco performed a show at the Abbey Pub in Chicago to try out some new material they had just recorded together that would later surface as, Minus 5-Down With Wilco. During the first set, Scott fronted the Minus 5 with the members of Wilco as the supporting band (usually the band consists of Scott with Peter Buck and a rotating cast of band members which sometimes includes, John Ramberg, Ken Stringfellow and Bill Rieflin). They were more than a regular backing band, as earlier in the week that had been in the studio working on this collaborative album. The band showcased "never before performed" songs that would be on the album. One of the songs they recorded and performed on this night, I'm Not Bitter was in fact recorded on 9/11, which included the ironic line, "But I'm not bitter, I'm not bitter, not at all, just a lot". This song was written by Scott and Tad Hutchison (from the Fellows) 10 years earlier and Scott recorded it originally with the Young Fresh Fellows as a b-side to I Hate Everything, released in 1991.

The second set of music was Jeff Tweedy and Wilco, performing several songs from their yet to be released album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, as well as earlier material. Scott returns for the encore with a few more songs from the Minus 5/Wilco band. An amazing night of music and it was probably a good break for the band after days together in studio and their it gave their fans a night to let loose after the intensity and devastation of the previous days events. This is a great sounding recording and one of my personal favourite shows!!

Abbey Pub
Chicago, IL
September 15, 2001
Set 1
The Minus 5:
01: Intro: Wilco #2
02: Life Left Him There
03: Retrieval Of You
04: Where Will You Go?
05: Daggers Drawn
06: That's Not The Way That It's Done
07: Days Of Wine And Booze
08: I'm Not Bitter
09: View From Below
10: The Night Chicago Died
11: (I've Got) A Lyrical Stance
Set 2
01: I'm Always In Love
02: War On War
03: Pick Up The Change
04: Should've Been In Love
05: I'm The Man Who Loves You
06: Ashes Of An American Flag
07: Hesitating Beauty
08: Passenger Side
09: Shot In The Arm
10: She's A Jar
11: California Stars
12: Outtasite (Outtamind)
13: Sunken Treasure

Minus 5/Wilco:
14: Break/Crowd Noise
15: Modern World
16: I Wish I Was Your Mother (Tweedy vocal)
17: Lies Of The Living Dead
MINUS 5- Live At The Abbey (set 1) 9-15-2001. rar
WILCO- Live At The Abbey (set 2) 9-15-2001. rar

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Jam- Live At The El Mocambo

Another well-known band that has played at the El Mocambo Club in Toronto is The Jam. The difference between the Rolling Stones playing in a small club and The Jam playing to the same venue is that The Jam were still a relatively new band. The band was gaining popularity in England, but in North America they were still less known, so the smaller club was appropriate to their draw. Interesting enough, Elvis Costello recorded his classic bootleg live album (Live At The El Mocambo) here in the same month as The Jam. This time period in music with the rise of punk and new wave, must have been a great time to see live music.

Though the sound isn't high fidelity quality and it sounds a little rough at times, the energy of the band and the small crowd makes this a great show. Listen after the 3rd song when Paul Weller gets angry after beer is thrown at him, sweet!

El Mocambo

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

February 21, 1978

01. The Modern World
02. London Traffic
03. I Need You
04. The Combine
05. Standards
06. London Girl
07. News Of The World
08. In The Street Today
09. Here Comes The Weekend
10. Sounds From The Street
11. Bricks And Mortar
12. All Around The World
13. In The City
14. In The Midnight Hour

THE JAM- Live At The El Mocambo. rar

The Cockroaches (Rolling Stones)- Live At The El Mocambo

If you're a serious music fan, seeing a high profile band at a smaller (than usual) venue can be the ultimate concert experience. Instead of relying on the jumbo screen to see what the members of the band look like, a small club concert allows you to be up close and personal with the band. Often a band will play a smaller venue as a preview of new material (similar to Stars pre-Five Ghosts tour) or the band wants to get back to their "roots" and in the case of the Cockroaches, looking for an unprepossessing venue to record and they use a pseudonym name to hide the fact they are the Rolling Stones.

On March 4th and 5th, 1977, the Rolling Stones played their first live club date in 14 years, as they played at the legendary El Mocambo club in Toronto, Canada. The show was recorded and four songs were included on side 3 for their live album, Love You Live. The intention was to play a set of classic blues and R&B covers, similar to their early days. I believe this Toronto trip also led to Keith Richards Canadian drug possession charges, which led to all kinds of legal problems. The songs that are included in this post are from March 4th or 5th, with the last 4 songs, the versions (that's why the sound quality is much better) that appeared on Love You Live. I'm guessing the other versions of the same songs are from the "other" night.

Other big-name bands have recorded and played the El Mocambo over the years including, U2, The Police, The Ramones, Elvis Costello, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Blondie, Queens Of The Stone Age and, up next...The Jam!

El Mocambo '77

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
March 4-5, 1977

1 - Worried About You
2 - Crackin' Up
3 - Let's Spend The Night Together
4 - Route 66
5 - Hand Of Fate
6 - Around And Around
7 - Crazy Mama
8 - Little Red Rooster
9 - Dance Little Sister
10 - Route 66
11 - Mannish Boy
12 - Crackin' Up
13. Little Red Rooster
14 - Around And Around

THE ROLLING STONES- El Mocambo '77. rar

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Sign the Petition To Induct "The Riverton Rifle" Into The HHOF

The second installment of John K. Samson's series of 7" releases that explore streets and highways in his home province of Manitoba, will be available September 21st through Epitaph/Anti Records. His latest 3-song solo EP, Provincial Road 222 is named for the road that runs up the side of Lake Winnipeg and leads to the town of Riverton, Manitoba. If this town name sounds somewhat familiar, this is where Reggie "The Riverton Rifle" Leach hails from, a member of the Stanley Cup champion Philadelphia Flyers in the mid-70s. The second track on the disc, Petition, takes the form of a real on-line petition started by John to induct Leach into the Hockey Hall Of Fame.

Help get the "Rifle" into the Hall and sign the petition here.

I did my duty and I urge all you fans of "old-time" hockey to sign your name to the petition. You gotta love John's passion for hockey and I always admire someone that displays this passion in song (Elegy for Gump Worsley, for example). The residents of Riverton have been trying for years to get Leach into the Hall, so maybe this will open up some wider publicity. I'm all for grassroots campaign petitions, but when I think "grassroots" usually I think of a piece of paper clipped to a board instead of a computer...oh, the progress we've made!

...More music tomorrow!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Superchunk- Majesty Shredding (Stream)

Here's your first opportunity to hear the new Superchunk album, Majesty Shredding in it's entirety. NPR.org is hosting this advanced stream only until the official release date on September 14, so I urge you whether you're a Superchunk fan or not to have a listen. The comments and responses have been positive and on first listen it sounds to me like it's a return to form on their long awaited ninth album and their first since 2001's, Here's To Shutting Up.

To get you in the mood, check out this interview with Superchunk's, Laura Ballance who talks about the re-issues of No Pocky For Kitty and On The Mouth, as well as the new album.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Jam- Saturdays Kids Demos

This past week I have obsessively been listening to The Jam, I've been downloading their albums I already have on vinyl and cassette (and others as well) mainly because I want to listen on my iPod, but also to hear the bonus tracks on the deluxe CD versions. I listened to a lot of The Jam in my college days (mid 80's), and now I've built a decent collection of live shows and demos, so for some reason I felt I had to revisit this great, somewhat overlooked band. I know The Jam was huge in England in the late 70's and early 80's, but they never gained the same commercial success in North America, though Town Called Malice was huge everywhere and That's Entertainment made Rolling Stone's list of 500 greatest songs of all time.

The Saturdays Kids Demos is made up of unreleased, demos, alternative versions and Peel session tracks. It's a decent collection and some of these versions rival the released ones and especially notable is an early version of In The City. If anyone's interested I have more of The Jam, so leave your comments if you want more.

I'm off camping for a couple of days, but I'll be back Monday. Enjoy your Labour (Labor) day!

Saturdays Kids Demos

01. Time For Truth
02. In The City
03. Sounds From The City (demo)
04. All Around The World
05. Carnaby Street (demo)
06. Billy Hunt (alternative version)
07. To Be Someone (demo)
08. Worlds Apart (demo)
09. The Night
10. The Best Of Both Worlds
11. Innocent Man (unreleased Foxton)
12. Hey Mister (Weller solo)
13. When You're Young
14. Thick As Thieves (Peel Session)
15. Eton Rifles
16. Saturdays Kids (Weller solo demo)

THE JAM- Saturdays Kids Demos. rar

Friday, September 03, 2010

Camper Van Beethoven- Live At CBGB's

As you can probably tell, I've been in a nostalgic 80's mood lately reflecting on some of my favourite bands that made a significant impact during the decade. You can also guess I was greatly affected by the Minneapolis music scene as I followed many of those bands before they became mainstream. My taste in music during the 80's was also focused on American "alternative rock" bands that topped campus radio station charts with other regional pockets of music scenes such as Athens, Georgia (REM), Boston/Mass area (Dinosaur Jr, Pixies, Blake Babies, Volcano Suns) and LA (Paisley Underground- Long Ryders, Dream Syndicate, Green On Red). It also produced quirky bands like, They Might Be Giants and Camper Van Beethoven.

Camper Van Beethoven formed in 1983 and played an eclectic mix of pop, ska, punk, folk and alternative country. Their unique sound set them apart from other alt-rock bands with their experimentation and boasting their influences of Eastern European, psychedelia, Middle Eastern and South Asian, actually there wasn't many styles the band didn't attempt. They enjoyed an underground following until they signed to a major label in 1987, when they enjoyed some modest commercial success resulting in increased record sales and MTV exposure. Their sound became a little more mainstream and streamlined and their studio recordings became much more produced sounding. They broke up in the spring of 1990 after a show, which was very unfortunate because they were booked to play the Winnipeg Folk Festival that summer and I was revolving my festival plans around seeing CVB. They have since reformed (2002) and they did finally make it to the WFF, but for whatever reason at the time I didn't attend...too bad!

I remember reading an article about Camper Van sometime in the 80's and it stated that they were one of the best bands to see live. They have an incredibly devise catalog of great songs and mixed with the fact these guys are amazing musicians, they definitely would be a treat to see in concert (eventually I will!). Nowadays they put on marathon-length shows often performing on a bill with Cracker (David Lowery's other band), so you truly get the whole Camper Van experience.

The show I'm posting is from the legendary CBGB's in New York City, as the band was touring in support of their second album, II & III. They also perform a couple songs from their next album, the self-titled third album that was released later in 1986. This is a great set of music (short by their standards), the sound is good and the performance is drunken and fun and besides, it's at CBGB's!! A must listen for Camper Van fans!

New York City, NY
March 21, 1986

01. Abundance
02. (I Was So) Wasted
03. banter - Turtlehead
04. More Than A Feeling tease - I Love Her All The Time
05. ZZ Top Goes To Egypt
06. The History Of Utah
07. Skinhead Stomp
08. Vampire Club
09. Cowboys From Hollywood
10. Form Another Stone
11. Club Med Sucks
12. Down And Out
13. (We're A) Bad Trip
14. Interstellar Overdrive
15. Take The Skinheads Bowling

Locations of visitors to this page