February 29th, 2008 at 12:11 pm (Rheostatics)
It is exactly as it says on the box. This is the album which really catapulted Rheostatics into the periphery of the public conscience. Claire was their one and only top 10 single (originally written by Tim for the Whale Music Soundtrack and rejigged for this album). It also earned them a Genie Award for their effort.
Introducing Happiness is the hat trick of iconic Canadian Music, starting with Melville in 1991 and continuing with Whale Music in 1992/1993. This is definitely their most colourful album and also one of their toughest nuts to crack. I can’t imagine what the average listener would have thought of it after hearing Claire on the radio and settling down at home to hear Monstrous Hummingbirds. It really is, however, a masterpiece of an album. No other album in their catalogue covers such a broad range of styles. From the childlike punk of Fan Letter To Michael Jackson to Pop perfection in Claire, Wings influenced Uncle Henry, latin tinged Alomar, beautiful Row and Take Me In Your Hand, and the Progressive Rock of Onilley’s Strange Dream. It is all over the musical map but it holds together like a beautifully weaved tapestry. You can tell that the band were at a creative high and having a recording budget (having signed with Epic) allowed them to travel to the Bahamas to record, the effects of which can be heard all over the album. It is fun, sunny, happy and colourful music the likes of which we may never have the luxury of hearing again for the first time. It sounds like a Canadian vacation.
This album is an epiphany kind of listen. It is the album that is difficult to absorb all at once and upon first listen does not give up its secrets (at least for me). Over time, though, it seeps in until … bang … like hearing Saskatchewan live … it hits you just how amazing it is. I hope one day I have the pleasure of hearing another Canadian album as original, inspired and creative as this one. I don’t think I will, though, which is OK as it will always be as unique an experience as the band was as a whole.
By the way if you haven’t figured it out yet, Happiness refers to Tim’s cat.
The version here of Fan Letter is epic at 11:10 in length. All the complaints of it not appearing on Double Live can be sated with this version. There are some great Demos included as well as guest vocalists Gord Downie and Paul MacLeod. Here is a live version of Earth/Monsterous Hummingbirds from Barrymore’s Jan 17 1997. I couldn’t add to the mix due to the skipping. It is awesome, for what it is, though. I had the pleasure of hearing the band play this song 1 time in the 50 or so shows I saw them perform. I remember it because I could not believe they were playing it. You can sub it in if the recording problem doesn’t drive you crazy.
Static Journey Volume 5: Introducing Happiness
96. Interview - Radionsonic In Session
97. Fan Letter To Michael Jackson - Barrymore’s Ottawa ON – May 23 1996
98. Introducing Happiness - Introducing Happiness
99. One More Colour - Hillside 2003
100. Genies Award - Gordon Pinset presenting 1994
101. Claire - Mrs.Robinson’s Kitchener ON – December 20 1997
102. Stage Banter (Ramones) - Barrymore’s Ottawa ON – May 23 1996
103. Digital Beach - Barrymore’s Ottawa ON – January 17 1997
104. Earth/Monstrous Hummingbirds - Live (unknown date) - Greensprouts
105. Clouds - Row Demo – Greensprouts Collection#3 Summer 1993
106. Full Moon Over Russia - Bathurst Street Theatre Toronto ON – October 7 1994
107. Take Me In Your Hand (with Gord Downie) - Horseshoe Tavern Toronto ON – GSMW November 8 2001
108. Intro To Jesus - The Casbah Hamilton ON – November 12 2005
109. Jesus Was Once A Teenager Too (with Paul MacLeod) - Casbah Hamilton ON – November 12 2005
110. Me and Stupid - Vertigo Victoria BC – January 21 2000
111. Fishtailin’ - Demo – Greensprouts Meet Delilah
112. The Woods Are Full Of Cuckoos - Introducing Happiness
113. Cephallus Worm – Uncle Henry - Rock 101 Vancouver 1993
114. In This Town - The Horseshoe Tavern Toronto ON – March 29 2007
115. Alomar - Bathurst Street Theatre Toronto ON – April 5 1997
116. You Are A Treasure - Introducing Happiness
117. Onilley Intro - CBC Realtime - March 8 1997
117. Onilley’s Strange Dream - Vertigo Victoria BC – January 21 2000
Download Volume 5
Running time 1:21:55
Here is the a live version of Fan Letter To Michael Jackson from Much Music:
Here is the video for Claire:
Here are some clips of Claire from Massey Hall March 30 2007
Here is a clip of Me And Stupid from Massey Hall March 30 2007
Here is a video of Alomar from Massey Hall March 30 2007. It features all three Rheos Drummers – Dave Clark, Don Kerr and MPW along with Ford Pier and Chris Brown.
Next Week - Static Journey Volume 6: The Sevens