10. Tempus Fugit - …When You’re Having Fun
So here we are at the final post of my top 10 albums I voted for as a voting member of Bob Mersereau’s book The Top 100 Canadian Albums. TEMPUS FUGIT!! Let’s Rock or Let’s Suck as our not so fluent in English bassist would say. If you haven’t heard of Tempus Fugit or you think that it is only a Yes song from Drama then you are by far in the majority. If you know any of the members of the band then there is a pretty good chance you have heard this album. For those who don’t know it, you can download it here. Everything you never wanted to know about the band can be found at F.U.G.I.T.L.A.N.D. How could I not vote for it? It is my band. I’m the singer, rhythm guitar player and I wrote a lot of the songs (at least in their original acoustic guitar state).
Anyway this album ROCKS. Some of it is even very good. It did not chart in Bob Mersereau’s book. Since I can pretty much guarantee that I am the only voting member who has ever heard of us or heard the album, I’m not surprised. Should it have made the list? Absolutely. Once a friend of mine got into a car accident on the Allen Expressway while listening to it and they haven’t listened to it since. It is that powerful. Give it a listen. Our first album came out in 1986. This one in 1998. The next is due in 2010. We’re working on it. That one will make my top ten in the next book……….. Thanks for listening. This is a sendout for Superfly!
9. Sloan - Between The Bridges
Sloan have released many great albums, three of which made the top 100 in Bob Mersereau’s book. Twice Removed at number 14, One Chord To Another at number 34 and Smeared at number 86. Honestly I don’t really get it either. Twice Removed I understand but the other two don’t really cut if for me. One Chord has some good songs in Everything You’ve Done Wrong, Lines You Amend, Good In Everyone and Smeared is OK. But neither of them hold a candle to this one. This album for me is kind of like Music At Work. It is an album of great songs which only fans really know. It is a 70s throwback album which plays like a concept album, with one song running into the next throughout most of the album. There is not a bad song on this album. It is stylistically varied from the mellowness of The N.S and A Long Time Coming to the rock of Losing California and Friendship. There is also a lot o piano on this album which takes it up a notch and might be why I like it so much. Then there is A Long Time Coming which may be the best song they have ever done. Then there is The Marquee And The Moon which may be the best song they have ever done. Then there is Delivering Maybes which may be the best song they have ever done. You get the picture.
Anyway I can’t say enough good things about this album. If you like Sloan but don’t know this one, go get it, you will not be disappointed. If you don’t know Sloan’s music very well then start here as it is, along with Twice Removed, the band at the top of their game.
Here is the video for Losing California
And here is a rare live performance of The Marquee And The Moon
Between The Bridges did not chart in Bob Mersereau’s book The Top 100 Canadian Albums…but it should have.
8. Neil Young - After The Goldrush
So much has been written about After The Goldrush. It was Neil’s 3rd album to bear his name after his Self-Titled debut and Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere. It was followed by Harvest. The 1-2-3 punch of EKTIN -> After The Goldrush and Harvest pretty much solidified his career. No matter how good or bad he has been over the years, the trifecta of these albums will always rescue his credibility. Even without factoring in Tonight’s The Night, or Comes A Time, or Zuma, or Rust Never Sleeps, or Ragged Glory. or Sleeps With Angels. Each of these being better than most other bands’ best.
After The Goldrush started out as a movie script written by Herb Berman and Dean Stockwell (who has appeared in a million films from 1945 through the present including Blue Velvet, Paris, Texas, Dune, Air force One, as well as an equivalant number to TV shows up to Brother Cavil in the remake of Battlestar Galactica which I didn’t know until I started writing this). It was an apocalyptic movie which was never made but the songs for the album were inspired from it. Not a whole lot is known about it but it has something to do with Tidal Waves in California and Spaceships which would explain the references in the Title Track.
The album is one of the most popular of Neil’s career. Probably due to the fact that it straddles the all out sonic attack of Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere (on songs such as When You Dance and Southern Man) with the more gentle sounds of Harvest which followed (on songs such as Oh, Lonesome Me, Tell Me Why and I Believe In You). Every song here is a classic and the album as a whole is exactly as it should be which is something that can be a problem with many of his other albums. The real gem on this one is Birds which is a touching, beautiful piano ballad. It has a fragile quality which can be found on other songs scattered throughtout his catalogue such as Little Wing from Hawks And Doves, Alburquerque and Borrowed Tune from Tonight’s The Night, On The Beach from On The Beach, Razor Love from Silver And Gold and Bandit from Greendale.
Apart from playing like a greatest hits album, the players are like a Neil’s greatest collaborationists. Nils Lofgrin was brought in to play piano which he didn’t really know how to play, Ralph Molina, Danny Whitten, and Billy Talbot from Crazy Horse, Jack Nitzsche and Stephen Stills longtime partners and David Briggs producing. Actually David Briggs is probably the most important person here along with Nitzsche. Briggs was the producer on almost every classic Neil Young album from 1968 until his death in 1995, including his Debut, Everybody Knows, On The Beach, Tonight’s The Night, Zuma, American Stars ‘N Bars, Comes A Time, Rust Never Sleeps, Re-ac-tor, Trans, Old Ways, Life, Ragged Glory and Sleeps With Angels. Oh, he also produced Live Rust, Weld and Unplugged, the former two which are considered by many to be two of the best live albums around by anyone (apart from Double Live - See entry number 3 on my list of top 10). It seems like Neil hasn’t been able to quite reach those heights since Briggs died of lung cancer. He was 51.
Here is a video of After The Goldrush from the Rust Never Sleeps Movie
Here is Don’t Let It Bring You Down from 1971
Anyway tonight is the first night of 3 in which Neil is playing at Massey Hall on his Chrome Dreams II tour. I wasn’t able to get tickets. They were selling online for $3500.
After The Goldrush charted at number 3 in Bob Mersereau’s book The Top 100 Canadian Albums.
7. Men Without Hats - Rhythm Of Youth
That’s right Rhythm Of Youth. Men. Without. Hats. Why? I’m not really sure at this point. I think when I actually received the original email from Bob Mersereau I was listening to this album. I grew up in the 80s, was in high school from 1983-1987 so I was pretty heavily influenced by New Wave. What is now retro is musical comfort food to me. Like Arias And Symphonies, The Hurting, Falling and Rio, Rhythm Of Youth was a pretty influential album to me back in my High School daze. I was and still am a big fan of Men Without Hats and I don’t really care what anyone has to say about it. This album is an amazing New Wave album. Not as good as Arias And Symphonies and if I was voting today I would probably have Falling or Radio Silence by Blue Peter here over this one but as I mentioned at the beginning of this 10 part entry, it was what I felt on January 27 2007. Every other day since them and proceeding it would have produced an entirely different list as it probably would for most people. It totally depends on your mood at the time.
Unlike Arias and Symphonies, Rhythm Of Youth sounds exactly of the time it was created. It is safely etched in 1983 and there ain’t no way it came from any other time. That doesn’t deminish it’s qualities, however, as it fully represents the New Wave sound. And while it does sound “dated” it is not in a way that many other albums of the time are “dated”. Some albums are dated and do not sound relevant as they age. I don’t think that is the case for this album. I’m sure many would disagree so I’ll just leave it there.
Ban The Game, Living In China, The Great Ones Remember, I Got The Message, Cocoricci (Le Tango Des Voleurs), The Safety Dance, Ideas For Walls, Things In My Life, I Like, The Great Ones Remember (Reprise). It is all great. My original tape also had Antarctica which made me feel special.
I suppose this is my guilty pleasure pick. It makes me happy when I listen to it and it takes me back to my youth. I guess it is the Rhythm Of my Youth in some ways.
Here is the video for Safety Dance. Maybe you have heard the song before.
And here is I Like.
And here is a live version of I Got The Message
Rhythm Of Youth did not chart in Bob Mersereau’s book The Top 100 Canadian Albums. I guess I can’t really argue with that, but I don’t feel guilty voting for it either.
6. Rheostatics - Introducing Happiness
The third of three Rheostatics albums to make my top 10. Stylistically this is definitely the most varied album of their career and also contains the most songs of any one album. Introducing Happiness was the one with the hit. In 1994 Claire was everywhere. They won a Genie Award for “Best Original Song” as it was also the centrepiece of the “Whale Music Soundtrack” which also came out in 1994. It is the third proper studio album in a row to be considered classic Rheostatics after Melville in 1991 and Whale Music in 1992.
Introducing Happiness is a tough nut to crack for the casual fan. It is a grower of an album which gradually lulls you in with each repeated listen. I remember when I first started listening to it that I wasn’t even sure if I liked it. But gradually it rose to the top of my list of rheos favorites. Perseverance pays off as this is rich tapesty of an album. I has the quirkiness of Fan Letter To Michael Jackson and Full Moon Over Russia to the bizarre of Cephallus Worm/Uncle Henry which is kind of like a tripped out version of a White Album era Paul McCartney song. It has the poppiness of Claire and Introducing Happiness, the gentleness of Row and Take Me In Your Hand, and the epic progginess of Onilley’s Strange Dream, In This Town and Digital Beach. And there is some punkiness as well with their take on the Jane Sibbery song One More Colour. The island vibe of Alomar speaks to the environment it was recorded in as the band went to the Bahamas to record this one. Here is an interview with the band about it.
This album, Whale Music and Melville really are the foundation of what the Rheostatics legend is built on but it is not the whole story. They would go on to record 3 more “regular” studio albums, The Blue Hysteria, Night Of The Shooting Stars and 2067 as well as a “children’s album” The Story of Harmelodia and an album commissioned by the National Gallery of Canada which was Music Inspired By The Group Of Seven. There was also The Nightline Sessions which you really need to hear in order to not understand. No other Canadian band quite captured the feeling of Canada and of being Canadian than the Rheostatics. And very few have a body of work which can even compare in both variety, style, quality of songwriting and musicianship. With the Rheos, either you get it or you don’t. But when you do there is no turning back. When they played their last show at Massey Hall on March 30 2007, people flew in from all corners of Canada and the USA to be a part of it. From Florida to San Diego and from Victoria to Newfoundland. They were just that kind of band. As Gord Downie states at the beginning of their Live Between Us album “we’re all richer for having seen them tonight”. It was like that every time you saw them.
Here is the excellent video for Claire
and a live version of Fan Letter To Michael Jackson from Much Music
Track Listing is:
1. Fan Letter to Michael Jackson
2. Introducing Happiness
3. One More Colour
5. Digital Beach
6. Earth/Monstrous Hummingbird
8. Full Moon Over Russia
9. Take Me in Your Hand
10. Jesus Was Once a Teenager Too
11. Me and Stupid
12. Fish Tailin’
13. Woods Are Full of Cuckoos
14. Cephallus Worm/Uncle Henry
15. In This Town
17. You Are a Treasure
18. Onilley’s Strange Dream
Introducing Happiness did not chart in Bob Mersereau’s book The Top 100 Canadian Albums.
5. Spoons - Arias And Symphonies
Didn’t see that one coming did you? This could be another of the albums which no one other than myself voted for. I have to tell you, with all sincerity, there is no reason why this album doesn’t deserve to be in the top 10 Canadian albums. It spawned on global top 10 hit in Nova Heart and without a doubt is probably the most popular and most influential New Wave album to come out of Canada. Arias And Symphonies by Spoons is a Classic Canadian album by any standard. It is full of excellent pop songs. It is played perfectly. It charted well, had hit singles, was produced by a master (John Punter - Roxy Music, Japan) and it has an awesome cover. It has aged with grace and is still fun to listen to 25 years after it was originally released.
The album was quite a departure from their previous album. Stick Figure Neighbourhood was released in 1981 and sounded quite a bit like early Talking Heads and the original New York New Wave. Listen to Dropped Dishes and you’ll see what I mean. Anyway by the time Arias was released, Nova Heart was already a huge song but it sits perfectly well among the other material on the album, all of which is great. There is not a bad song on the album! Trade Winds sets the tone of the album and whenever I hear it I am instantly transported back to 1983 (when I first heard the album). Smiling In Winter is a New Wave Canadian anthem in my books. One In Ten Words and No Electrons are still fan favorites. Arias and Nova Heart end what was Side 1 and begin what was Side 2. Both huge songs in the 80s which are still played on the radio. South American Vacation and A Girl In Two Pieces are the quirkiest songs on the album but are just as strong as everything else here. Walk The Plank is a great Rock song that was always great to see live. Finally is Blow Away which is probably my 2nd favorite Spoons song after Symmetry (the B side of Nova Heart). Take a listen to this album again. It is a great blend of Keyboards, Drums, Drum Machines, Great Bass work and vocals by Sandy Horne and excellent Guitar and vocals by Gord Deppe. Most people don’t realize how amazing of a guitarist Gord Deppe is, probably because they tend to be viewed primarily through the ears of Tell No Lies and Romantic Traffic. Listen to the cool keyboards in One In Ten Words, the ghostly vocals in Trade Winds, the awesome bassline in Smiling In Winter or the wig out at the end of Blow Away. It is all awesome. On the strength of this album alone Spoons should be inducted into the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame. This has and always will be in my top favorite albums of all time. Check out all things Spoons related at my Spoons Archive site. Go to the forum there to read lots from Rob Preuss about the making of this and other albums of theirs.
1. Trade Winds
2. Smiling In Winter
3. One In Ten Words
4. No Electrons
5. No More Growing Up
6. Arias And Symphonies
7. Nova Heart
8. South American Vacation
9. A Girl In Two Pieces
10. Walk The Plank
11. Blow Away
4. The Tragically Hip - Music At Work
I know you’re thinking what the hell am I thinking. Surely Road Apples or Fully Completely. Maybe even Up To Here. Nope. I love those albums as well but for me it is Music At Work at the top of the heap. I think my reasons are similar to why I like U2 but would rather listen to One Tree Hill over Pride, or Drowning Man over Sunday Bloody Sunday. The bands I really like tend to be due to the songs which never get played on the radio. The album cuts. On some albums these cuts are filler and sometimes they are the meat of the project. When I first bought Music At Work I thought it was the biggest pile of Tragically Trash I’d heard to date. I listened to it a few times, saw the “An Evening With” tour in Toronto (I think I’ve seen them 20 times since 1992 at The Concert Hall show prior to Road Apples being recorded). I didn’t really listen to it again until about a year later. Then it hit me. This was an incredible record. It is a weird, non-commercial album album - an “Aim for the gutter” kind of album as Neil Young might put it. When I see them live now it is songs like Sharks, or The Completists or Wild Mountain Honey I want to hear, not Courage or 50 Mission Cap or even Music At Work. This album for me is full of those “other” songs that I love, not the commercial singles. The Hip have these types of songs littered throughout their catalogue in the form of Opiated, The Luxury, Emperor Penguin, Titanic Terrrarium, Eldorado, Are We Family, The Darkest One, Leave, Dire Wolf, Escape Is At Hand For The Travellin’ Man, On The Verge, World Container, Sherpa, Don’t Wake Daddy. Music At Work is like an album full of these types of songs and it is what I really like about The Tragically Hip. The dicotomy between the intensity of Tiger The Lion and the gentleness of Lake Fever is one of the great transitions in their Catalogue. Stay is an underappreciated beautiful song as are, As I Wind Down The Pines and Toronto#4. I think the thing is that all the songs on this album sound like The Hip but at the same time they don’t sound like The Hip as one would expect. A left turn. I still don’t like Freak Turbulance, though. Never did. Everything else on here is a 10.
Like most of Gord Downie’s lyrics I don’t really know what he is talking about but he sure makes them sound good.
Here is a version of Sharks Live in Hartford, Connecticut at The Webster Theatre on August 4, 2000 featuring Chris Brown and Kate Fenner, formerly of The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir.
Here is a live version of Lake Fever from Queen Elizabeth Theater, Vancouver, BC Canada.
This album did not chart in Bob Mersereau’s book The Top 100 Canadian Albums. I’m probably the only person who voted for it. Fully Completely came in at number 5, Up To Here at 15, Day For Night at 21, and Road Apples at 26. The closest this album got was Love Tara by Eric’s Trip charting at number 39. Julie Doiron sand back up on The Completists, Toronto#4 and As I Wind Down The Pines on Music At Work
3. Rheostatics - Double Live
DOUBLE LIVE - the second of 3 Rheostatics albums in my top 10. It is the one which turned me on to the Rheostatics. I was a latecomer to the Greensprouts fold. I had Whale Music on cassette which was given to me by Gary Gottlieb when it came out. I liked it but hadn’t yet had my moment of Rheostatics clarity. That “TA-DA” moment when you all of a sudden get it and are forever converted. I don’t even know why I bought this album to begin with. I know my first show was at the Reverb when they were still making Harmelodia so it must have been back in 1998. My TA-DA moment happened during the following Green Sprouts Music Week at The Horseshoe when they opened with “Saskatchewan” and that was pretty much it for me. It is the kind of moment you have while seeing the Rheos where, as a musician, you seriously consider never performing again. I’ve had many of those moments while seeing them live, 14 nights in a row in the middle of winter, year after year, much to the chagrin of my liver and my bank account. By about day 5 one’s job pretty much becomes a secondary necessity but the exhaustion keeps you from really caring one way or the other what happens. The Rheos were different. They were all phenomenally talented writers, singers and musicians. They would move from jaw dropping best moments you have ever heard from a live band, to roll on the floor laughing hysterically because they were also so funny. Canada has never seen another band like them and I doubt it will again. They were truly one of a kind. They could inspire one to want to be a musician and others to give it up all together.
Anyway Double Live. If you don’t have it, go get it now. I’ll wait….
For me it is the best live album out there but my Rheo-bias may be influencing that opinion. I know, apparently Kiss have a good one as does The Who, but for me, this is the one. It isn’t a single show but is a collection of live performances from clubs, arenas (opening for The Tragically Hip’s Canadian tour of 1996) and in-store performances. It is a great mix of live favorites (Saskatchewan, Shaved Head, Legal Age Life, Horses, Dope Fiends), Rare live performances (Midwinter Night’s Dream, Torque, Torque, Jesus Was Once A Teenager Too) and unreleased obscurities (Royal Albert, Bees, Dead Is The Drunkest You Can Get). The only thing it really didn’t capture was just how funny the band was. Here are a few examples of what I mean from a few shows over the years of the banter they would get into onstage.
1. Song Requests Banter
2. Crazy Fans Banter
There used to be an FTP site for trading Rheostatics live shows but it disappeared years ago. When I started setting up some websites I contacted the band about doing a Live Rheastatics Archive of shows and videos. Check it out if you want to hear some great live shows by the band. It is at http://www.rheostaticslive.com. I also set up a site devoted to their last show at Massey Hall March 30 2007. It is http://www.goodgonedead.rheostaticslive.com. Send me an email if you want to add to the site.
Here is an example of a great live show on the rheostaticslive.com site from Club Vertigo in Victoria BC from January 21 2000 courtesy of Lucky Budd (yes that is his real name).
I even put together a 156 song “Box Set” of live cuts, studio cuts, interviews and radio performances which I may end up posting some day - given band approval.
Here is a clip of them live at their final show performing the final song Record Body Count from the middle of the floor, 4 guys, 1 unamped acoustic guitar and a microphone…..and a human pyramid. It really shows what the band was all about. They could take 1500 people at Massey Hall at their final show, during their final song and make you feel like they were playing in your living room. They were that good. Actually they were the best!
Double Live did not chart in the Top 100 Canadian Albums book by Bob Mersereau….but it should have.
2. Neil Young - On The Beach
As I mentioned yesterday I could have easily put many Neil Young albums on this list. My fascination with him began with Live Rust when I was 13 and from there I got into Harvest, After The Goldrush, Rust Never Sleeps, Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere and on and on. I try to see him live whenever he plays as he is always great, whether he is alone or with Crazy Horse or any other incarnation. On The Beach was a late entry into my pantheon of great Neil Young albums but it quickly became my favorites. The title track is my favorite Neil Young song. I’m proud to own this one on vinyl and I have yet to hear a single song from this album played live.
At the beginning of 2007 I got an email from Bob Mersereau mentioning that he was going to be putting together a book of the top 100 Canadian albums. We needed to submit our top 10 picks. I figured I would give it a shot. The funny thing is on any given day I could pick 10 favorite Canadian albums and probably 7 of them would be different from the previous day. Easily I could have included Harvest or Rust Never Sleeps by Neil Young, The Band or Music From Big Pink by The Band, Moving Pictures by Rush, Melville by Rheostatics, Shyfolk by The Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, Fully Completely or Trouble At The Henhouse by The Tragically Hip, or a dozen others. On that day January 27 2007 this was my number 1 pick:
1. Rheostatics - Whale Music
On any day this will be my number one pick. It is my favorite Rheostatics album, my favorite Canadian album and one of my favorite records. Ever. If you have never heard Whale Music pick it up. The only other albums you will ever hear which are like it are probably other Rheostatics albums.
The cover is beautifully painted by Martin Tielli. The production is masterfully recorded by Michael Philip Wojewoda and the music is sublime. quirky, weird and heartwrenching. From the progressive opening riff of Self Serve Gas Station to the Punk Rock of RDA (Rock Death America), folk rock of Legal Age Life At Variety Store, the sad anger of Shaved Head, the Walter Ostenak inspired Sickening Song, to the Pink Floyd of Dope Fiends And Boozehounds the musical styles are as wide ranging as the content being sung about. Queer is a letter from a son to his brother who has been kicked out of his family home after revealing that he is gay. Dave Bidini in one sentence managed to unify a difficult social issue with Canada’s national pride in the line “I don’t care about the damage, but I wish you were there to see it when I scored at hat-trick on the team that called you a fucking Queer”. Shaved Head deals with a Cancer patient. Soul Glue is related to Benji Hayward who died after the Pink Floyd show on May 13 1988. There is also a slew of great musicians on this album apart from Dave Bidini, Dave Clark, Martin Tielli, and Tim Vesley including Dave Allen on Violin, Neil Peart on Drums and Lewis Melville on Pedal Steel Guitar. The album was named from the Paul Quarrington book of the same name. It was later turned into a movie staring Maury Chaykin, Cynthia Preston and Paul Goss. In one of the many, many shifts in style over the 30 year history of the band they would record the soundtrack to the movie which would lead to their one an only hit single “Claire”. But that is the story for another day. This is my is my Desert Island Disc. Incidentally the Basilosaurus, or Zeuglodon, was an archaic Eocene whale thought to have been about 55 feet long.
Here is the video for Shaved Head
Here is one for King Of The Past
And here is a live version of Soul Glue
Incidentally if you go to page 198 of the book The Top 100 Canadian Albums by Bob Mersereau I’m listed as Darrin Cappe, Tempus Fugit, Toronto. I had to mention my own band. More on that later as well.
This album was ranked #19 in The Top 100 Canadian Albums book by Bob Mersereau