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.