Saturday, July 31, 2004

on the air - show #5

Not a good outing. Should have stayed in Toronto for Jordo's send-off (which was promising to be a good time, despite the drizzle on the Madison's patio).

Frozen Warnings - Nico
I should have heeded her warnings.

Ramblin' Gamblin' Man - Bob Seger System
Farmer John - Tidal Waves
Heinz Baked Beans - The Who
Mary Ann With The Shaky Hand (excerpt) - The Who
Why Am I Treated So Bad - Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity
The First Cut Is The Deepest - P.P. Arnold

The fun began during Mary Ann With The Shaky Hand, which developed a shaky performance - skip-o-rama. Veered from late 60s Detroit material to late 60s Britain.

O Nosso Amor - Antonio Carlos Jobim/Luis Bonfa
Life Is A Carnival - The Band
Carnaval - Santana
Carnival - The Cardigans
Carnaval In Rio - Heino

Guess the theme here. This set ran smoothly and I thought all was well and good. Starting thinking ahead to a "fistful of 45s" segment. One hitch - discovered I'd forgotten to bring a disc of festive Brazilian tunes. Stevie D suggested the early 70s Santana track before I left TO, which fit beautifully into this set.

Sunday Morning - Manu Dibango
Chicken Strut - The Meters
Swan's Splashdown - Perrey & Kingsley
Second Cut - James Clarke

Mostly instrumental, mostly smooth sailing.

Silver Machine - Hawkwind
Les Filles - Les Sultans
Little White Lies - The Painted Ship
open Up Your Door - Richard & The Young Lions

60s-70s rock, starting to sneak in some CanCon. A couple of discs weren't liked by the newer CD decks, so there was a bit of scrambling to cue up tracks. Also discovered I'd forgotten to bring several more discs I'd made just for playing on this show - those tracks will have to wait until next time (mostly recent discoveries from the net).

I'll Keep Coming Back - The Guess Who
Keep On Running - Grant Smith & The Power
Stood Up - Sloan

When the shit started to hit the fan. I had planned to spend most of hour two playing 45s, either lesser-known B-sides of smash hits or long-buried singles in the station's 45 file cabinet. Strike one - there's only one 45 adapter. Strike two - it's slightly too small for either of the turntables. Strike three - try to make it fit, throw on the first 45 (an early Guess Who, B-side of Hurting Each Other), but by the end of song, the record is wandering around the turntable. Panic-striken, I grab the first CD at hand and throw it in the player. Sort of made things work for the Sloan 45, but decided to give up, as everything in the studio conspired against me. The mic fell, I tripped over the headphone cord getting out of the chair, log sheets flew everywhere, piles of CDs fell.

Boot To The Head - The Frantics
In a froth, I came close to a mini-meltdown on air, indicating all was not good...and I really wanted to give something a boot to the head. Luckily, I had a Frantics CD with me...

Don't Be Afraid - Howie Beck
Stab It & Steer It - Atomic 7
No One Has Ever Looked So Dead - The Organ

The last two reflected my blackening mood. After a long day, I started to feel dopey around this time. Hatched a plan to get myself out early, yet still fill the airwaves through 1 am.

Constipation Blues - Screamin' Jay Hawkins
Mothers of Invention bootleg, June 25/66
Please Don't Pass Me By (live) - Leonard Cohen
Hockey Night In Canada - The Shuffle Demons

After playing Constipation Blues, threw on two lengthy tracks to provide time to file away all station material I had pulled. Gradually cooled off, though items kept getting in my way.

On The Way Home (alternate version) - Buffalo Springfield
With a terse goodnight, threw this on, finished cleaning up, then hightailed it out. Trip home was a nerve-wracking affair, downpours alternating with maniac drivers and creeping fatigue. Had to get onto Eglinton when I reached the airport, finally arrived home around 2:30 and threw myself onto my bed.

One more to go...and it's got to be better than this one.

Monday, July 26, 2004

warehouse music annex: b-b-b-boots

These Boots Are Made For Walking - The New Christy Minstrels
from album NEW KICK (Columbia 1966)...but if you search thrift shops long enough, you'll see it on THE BEST OF '66 VOL. 1 (Columbia 1967)


Of all the musicians and ensembles spawned by the folk boom of the early 60s, few came to be reviled as much as the New Christy Minstrels. The spawning ground for several musicians with lengthy careers (ranging from Gene Clark of Byrds fame to Kenny Rogers), the group evolved into a large, sunny, whitebread ensemble cheerfully singing old standards. Precisely the type of group parodied in A Mighty Wind. This made them perfect for prime-time variety shows and the sanitized folk showcase, Hootenanny.

By '66, the group switched to covering contemporary tunes, mostly to laughable effect. Guess somebody had to make the Beatles safe for those over the age of 70 or the timid. This bubbly version of the Nancy Sinatra smash typfies the Christy's approach.

I first discovered this rendition on a Columbia compilation with several other MOR car crashes, The Best of '66 Vol. 1 (worst offender - the way-too-mellow version of Help! by the Brothers Four). The best cut on the compilation, Bob Dylan's I Want You, sounds totally out of place.

Sunday, July 25, 2004

random notes

Holy Matrimony!
Caught the show on opening and closing nights. As several joked, Friday was the "extended DVD version", complete with a scene accidentally axed from Wednesday's performance. The first act flowed much better, with stronger performances that produced more laughs. I enjoyed it and look forward to either future remounts or the next play out from any of our pens.

Ms. Playwright, you did it - hopefully the nerves have resumed their normal function.

Next theatrical-type-things to go to are Tina Vahn's Night of Passion on the 29th, then Circo Loco in Guelph on the 1st.

Driving In Milton May Be Hazardous To Your Health
Went on my first aimless drive in ages, heading as far as the Six Nations reserve. Oddest business combination seen on a road sign - "24-hour Smokes and Bakery". Convenient to know for anyone with a craving for Players and pumpernickel at three in the morning.

Ambled my way back into Toronto along Derry Rd. Near Milton, two vehicles behind me appeared to be playing with each other, swerving wildly, pulling close and apart from each other. I could feel my knuckles whitening as they drew closer. Luckily, they both turned off once in town, but it was a few miles before I felt free of potential heart-attacks.

When Clerks Know Their Stuff
Wandered into Vortex Records at Yonge & Eg Saturday night. Finally found a decently-priced used copy of This is Spinal Tap on DVD. The guy behind the counter asked if I wouldn't rather see a puppet show. We both started laughing (there's a key joke near the end of the movie about a puppet show - I won't spoil it).

Thursday, July 22, 2004

long day's journey into the next day

...or one long, crazy night tied into celebrating my birthday.
Friday night started off by meeting up with Dee and Nile at Bloor and Spadina for dinner.  Tried a new Nepalese/Indian restaurant over by Brunswick, Mt. Everest.  Had seen it in a review in Now, sounded good, fit the gang's criteria of being either Indian or Thai and was not far from the second stop of the evening.
Attendance at dinner was meant to be a surprise - a large table had been reserved for surprise guests to show up. Since notice was sent out late, it ended up being a group of five (Kiersten and Ken joined in).  This didn't bother me, since I see everyone regularly, know we all have insane scheds and one idea they'd thought of couldn't happen that night (look sometime soon for Tales from the Bowling Alley). Mt. Everest was a wise choice, as everything was delicious.  Oddly, I was the only one to order a meatless dish (sinfully good paneer in tomato sauce loaded with green peppers and shredded ginger), but we all passed our choices around.  The others made wise chicken and lamb choices, while Nile seemed satisfied with his first sampling of goat.

Walked down to DK Ranch afterwards. This month's show could be called a Fringe wrap-up, as all of the acts had been part of the festival. Lots of goofball stuff, from an inflated palm tree used by a sketch troupe to signal the end of skits, to a duo cheerily singing odes to God (including a Christ-variant on Stayin' Alive). Hung around afterwards, chatting as I was plied with birthday vino.

Around midnight, I starting slipping in and out of this dimension. Maybe it was lack of sleep over the week catching up. Maybe it was heeding the cries of the hosts to chug down a glass of white wine. Maybe it was dinner interacting with both. Not quite drunk, not quite sleepy, definitely not focused - strange world. My memory's clear, so I couldn't have wandered far away. Mainly remember taking forever to decide if I was going to leave when Dee and Nile did or stick around with Sheila and Paul (did the latter). Remember going on about Canadian history with Sheila and Kristian, and talking with much younger art school chicks with phobias about dangling objects.

For an hour, there was debate about moving the party over to Sneaky Dee's, a trip which finally happened around 1:30. Astonished to see several folks around up full meals that late at night (I nibbled on a few nachos - anything more would have made for a miserable sleep). Stayed there until quarter-to-three, then caught the Bathurst vomit comet with the art students. An acquaintance of one of them was on the bus, who one of the others called "greasy", due to a clammy handshake and wrecked appearance.

Hopped off at Eglinton, figuring there'd be another bus along shortly. I should have walked home, as I was stuck there until 3:30. My head had returned to this plane of reality, but there wasn't much for it to observe. Upper Forest Hill is dead as a doorknob at 3:30, with no signs of activity. Ideal place to shoot night scenes in a post-apocalyptic flick. The only distraction was a fully-lit window in a magician's supply store. The bus finally came, but only went as far as Eg station - I settled back into my stupor, as it took several cries from the bus driver to get me off (it looked like another bus would take over the route to continue east). Home just before 4, promptly collapsed in a heap.

Welcome 29.

Sunday, July 18, 2004

warehouse music annex: how long are you staying?

Originally published on my defunct music blog on July 17, 2004.

How Long Are You Staying? - Bill Joy
MSR single, 1980

Here's a challenge - come up with as many words as you can think of that rhyme with "-isco". Songwriter Mary Urritia came up with far too many.

This is a prime example of the "song-poem" genre, where companies advertised in magazines with the pitch that anyone could write a song and have it recorded by professionals. All you needed to do was send in your lyrics and a little money. Quality was not a high consideration. Despite small pressings, many of these recordings leaked out to fans of bizarre recordings, spawning several compilations.

I first heard this song on the late, lamented CBC Radio show Nightlines, along with other masterpieces that floated through MSR Records (one of many labels in the genre). Ordinary people with bad songwriting skills hoping for a shot at musical immortality...but not in the way they intended (with the odd exception, like the infamous "A Blind Man's Penis").

The most comprehensive site for song poems on the net is The American Song Poem Music Archives, chock full of articles and song samples. I guarantee there will be more song-poems in the future, including the immortal Rodd Keith. - JB

Saturday, July 17, 2004

once upon a time, there was a music blog...

...and this was its introduction, originally written on July 17, 2004. The site has long been shut down, but this intro and a few entries now scattered around the Warehouse were worth preserving.

Welcome to Radio CRMW, the latest in the ever-growing field of mp3 blogs. Living in an apartment full of CDs, records, tapes and useless musical information, figure this would be a good way for friends and I to put our love for recorded sound to good use.

But before the music, the obligatory story behind the site.

I grew up surrounded by sound, as my father had a healthy collection. Most were classical, but i usually grabbed (and scratched) his cache of 60s folk and rock albums. Early on, I had a Fisher-Price turntable, a sturdy piece of machinery that was probably better quality than some of the late-period cheap turntables (a few years ago, I saw the exact model being used as a test machine at a Detroit record store). Mixed in with the Charlie Brown, Brer Rabbit & the Tar Baby and Disney collections were Gordon Lightfoot, Peter Paul & Mary, Janis Joplin and 70s Ronco platters.

I didn't start buying my own tapes or listen heavily to the radio until the end of elementary school, around grade 8. I soon discovered a wonderful show Sunday nights on CKLW-FM, the Archives. In the midst of CanCon requirement-killing material, they'd play bizarre celebrity recordings and other oddball items. Step one in awakening my quest for musical knowledge.

Step two was a long running weekend show on CBC Stereo (now CBC Radio 2), Nightlines. Until it ended in 1997, I was glued to the radio most Saturday and Sunday evenings, waiting for the great discs host David Wisdom played. Many of the mix tapes I made drew their material from Nightlines, especially the "10 Singles In A Row" segment, where each week Wisdom did just that - went through his entire collection alphabetically. Add in special weekends with nothing but cover tunes or the guilty pleasures of listeners, kooky regular callers, the championing of great acts like The Rheostatics...I was in listening heaven.

Come university and the digital age. I started hanging out at the campus radio station at Guelph, CFRU. Spent a year sorting and listening to albums, but never made much headway with the station staff at the time in receiving training on station equipment or getting anywhere near the mic (the impression I got was I wasn't "marginalized" enough in who I was to deserve airtime). Stayed away from the station for a long time, then got back into it (due to new staff) in my third year.

By the summer of '97, I'd made into onto the airwaves, with a weekly show that ran until i moved to Toronto in August of '99. I'll admit it - early on, it aimed to be a Nightlines clone, especially since the show was in its last days when I reached the air. JB's Musical Warehouse and Curio Emporium was the eventual name of the show, inspired by an old SCTV kit, promising within its walls to play everything including the kitchen sink. Not sure how many listened, but it was a lot of fun.

Now there's the music blog, which is kind of like broadcasting on a small scale. Share old favourites, new discoveries or things you can't believe you've heard with friends and strangers.

Enough blubbering. Sit back and enjoy as CRMW goes to air... - JB

Thursday, July 15, 2004

warehouse special of the week: max monkey

This week, the Warehouse takes a moment to remember one of the greatest entertainers who ever lived, Mr. Max Monkey. Back in the early 50s, Max charmed audiences around the world with his unique piano jazz stylings.

Though he was best known for his boogie woogie tunes, Max was equally adept at mastering the newest sounds of the day. From 1947 to 1961, Max was one of RCA’s best selling artists –who has never seen a copy of 1959’s classic album A Monkey at Carnegie Hall?

The Max Monkey trio (Max on piano, Charlie Chimp on bass and Ollie Orangutan on drums) laboured on through the 1960s, until tragedy struck in 1963 when Charlie was killed in a banana truck mishap. The loss hit Max hard, which exacerbated a growing problem with the bottle. By 1966, Max was reduced to whatever low-paying gig he could find, and spent too much time hanging out with Chet Baker.

By 1968, Max had gone through rehab and was ready to take on the world again. Unfortunately, the world wasn’t ready to embrace him again, and The Groovy New World of Max Monkey flopped. He left the music business, embraced God and lived quietly until his death in 1974.

As Max’s legacy, the Warehouse is proud to offer at a special price several reissues of Max’s classic material from the 50s, on CD and record. Come down next weekend, when Max’s grandson Marcus proves talent runs in the family genes as he plays some of Max’s favourite tunes. You’ll swing, you’ll laugh, you’ll be astonished. Also check out our new Rent-a-Monkey department!

goodbye 28, hello 29 (or one step closer to not being trustworthy)

Yeah, it's birthday time again, the last of my twenties. For some friends, this is a sign of creeping mortality, or fear days of youthful misadventure are coming to an end.

I'm a year older - hoohah. It's not physical or chronological age that matters, it's your outlook on life, a point proven way back in high school. My year wasn't the most exicting lot on the planet, especially those in my morning home room. They may have been 16, but already gave off the impression of being well into middle age - no crazy stunts, conversations revolving around duck hunting similar to old men, etc. Heck, I was pretty comfortable as a couch potato.

Ideas I had in high school I'm glad I didn't stick to:
  • That I would never, ever live in Toronto
  • Fear that by choosing an arts-based residence to live in at university, I'd be stuck with a pile of pretentious creeps
  • The whole "too cool to do certain things" mindset most teens fall prey to, however briefly (if I'd stuck to this, wouldn't have so many crazy stories from university, though I'll admit it took a month or two of Arts House to let it go)

University was a release, to see that it was OK to act a little loony. That failing a course was not the end of the world. That there are people out there who are willing to go places to do things, not sit around the house all day. It felt like adolescence and young adulthood had reversed themselves. I wasn't complaining (except that maybe I should have been bolder on the "fessing up to girls I really like" front - live and learn).

28 was a great year...finally saw a large chunk of North America, followed through on keeping a journal (weblog) regularly for the first time since pre-Ontarion days, developed new friendships, took stabs at the dating field, wrote a script, pushed my graphic design abilities, kept my boss happy, etc. If 29 maintains the same pace, I'll be a happy camper.

In the end, the key is to allow your mind to stay young, progressive and curious. If I evolve into an old fogey whose conversations are fixated on the weather and what a wonderful job the Reform Conservative Alliance is doing, it's time for the glue factory.

photo du jour

Today's photo - a long-abandoned gas station in ghostly McLean, TX, one of the first sights in the Lone Star State along Route 66. Summer 2003.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

dancing with fire

More fun with the BloggerBot. Dancing around fireworks in suburban Guelph on Canada Day, 1997. Posted by Hello

photo du jour

This is a test of the BloggerBot feature - we'll see if this makes adding pictures to this site any less wacky. This is a shot of the University Centre courtyard at U of G, taken around 1:30 AM Saturday morning. Posted by Hello

Saturday, July 10, 2004

on the air - show #4

Like show #3, a smooth one, helped by a third CD deck added to the studio. Before going into the playlist, let's take a quick tour of CFRU as it looks in 2004.

Here's the main hallway leading to the studios, looking much neater than I remember (the ramp was installed back in the day).

What is a campus radio station without a door plastered with promotional stickers? See if you can find your favourite band in this picture.

One wing of the CD library, which appears to be in good shape these days. The record library is an environmental disaster, with platters scattered everywhere. There are still traces of the time I attempted a grand reorganization of it years ago - there are still stickers with my handwriting on the shelves.

Finally, the on-air studio, where the magic world of radio comes to life. You could accurately film a period piece in here, which is part of its charm (though you'd have to move the old cart machines back in - those were being used into the new millenium). Wonder if anybody still digs out archival reels - those used to be fun to play around with (I should check the archive room to see if one backup show I recorded for fun on reel-to-reel still exists).

For more information about the station, and a live stream, check out their website. Looks like there's special programming coming up for the annual Hillside Festival (where back in '99, I spent a fun day driving around musicians and their equipment and had a chance to mow down former co-workers I despised - but's that's a tale for another day).

On with the show...

The Prisoner Theme - Ron Grainer
Started withe the ITC theme, then rolled into this classic TV theme. Besides, it was on the same disc as the next track...

You Know What I Mean - Vernons Girls
Anyone Who Had A Heart - Dusty Springfield
Don't Be That Way - Ella Fitzgerald and Nelson Riddle
Ain't Got No - I've Got Life - Nina Simone
I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight - Richard & Linda Thompson

Other than female vocals, no links between these tunes.

Baby - Bebel Gilberto
All Good Scabs - Lederhosen Lucil
Robert Smith - The Gay
Monday Monday Monday - Tegan & Sara
One I Love You - Carolyn Mark & Dave Lang
Bat Macumba - Os Mutantes

Four Canadian tracks bookended by Brazilian tunes.

Hard Times - Baby Huey
If You Need Me - Wilson Pickett
Happy Go Lucky Girl - The Paragons
Bangarang - Stranger Cole & Lester Sterling
Help Me Make It Through The Night - John Holt
Come In Out Of The Rain - Parliament

A Curtis Mayfield production, followed by a Solomon Burke, a sidetrip to Jamaica, finally early P-Funk.

Older Guys - The Flying Burrito Brothers
Don't Monkey With Another Monkey's Monkey - Johnny Paycheck
Cool Water - Sons Of The Pioneers
Dreamin' Man - Neil Young

Country/country-rock set.

Bridge Over Troubled Water - Senator Sam J. Ervin Jr.
The Merry Go Round Broke Down/excerpts from "Porky In Wackyland" - Carl Stalling
What Is Love? - Anthony Quinn
Rosemary - The Dickies

The obligatory oddball set. Ervin was one of the key figures in the Watergate hearings, beloved for his folksy charm. The Quinn tune is one of the strangest odes to love ever recorded, though frumps will love it.

Turn On Your Lovelight - Les Sultans
It Hurts To Be In Love - Les Classels
I Think I'm Losing My Marbles - Mainline
Funky Roller Skates - Brutus
A Shot in The Dark - Big Sugar
Dead Animal - The Frantics
Celebrity Cocktails - Atomic 7

CanCon set.

Well It's True That We Love One Another - The White Stripes
Daddy's Gonna Tell You No Lie - The Cosmic Rays
He Gives Us All His Love - Randy Newman
Show Me a Smile - Fleetwood Mac

The wind-down, mainly to play acts I'd named off earlier. The Cosmic Rays were a mid-50s doowop group produced by Sun Ra.

Earth To Doris - Was (Not Was)
This always felt like a good end-of-show tune to me.

Monday, July 05, 2004

warehouse music annex

Bowling Green - The Everly Brothers
Warner Bros. single, 1967
available on WALK RIGHT BACK (Warner Bros. 1993)

Duchess - Scott Walker
from album SCOTT 4 (Philips 1969)

One of my favourite albums to play back in my radio days was Neko Case's The Virginian, half of which was covers of a wide range of artists, from Ernest Tubb (Thanks A Lot) to Queen (Misfire). The two songs included this time out were also covered on this album, in versions that were respectful to the originals.

The Everlys' run of hits had dried up by the time Bowling Green was released - this was their last top 40 hit, denting the chart in mid-'67. They had one great album left in them after this (1968's country-rocker Roots), then a decade of falling out with each other. Not up there with their 1958-62 peak, but a pleasant tune to listen to in the car while driving down a back road on a sunny day. In the clip above, derived from a 1971 edition of The Ed Sullivan Show, listen for Bowling Green at the end of a four-song medley.

Walker's Duchess is a beautiful country-tinged ballad, but one that left an odd image in my mind. I imagined a guy in a shady brothel singing this song to an aged-before-their-time whore (it's the line at the end of the second verse "it's your shiftless flesh/and your old girl's grace/it's your young girl's face/that I'm breathing", plus the end capper "i'm lying/she's crying"). Typical late 20th century university student's head-in-the-gutter thoughts...this aside, it's a great song from a strong album that featured odes to Ingmar Bergman films and Stalin.

The search for the original version of Duchess, along with many references in British rock mags and an interesting backstory, led me seek out Walker's albums. An American, Walker (born Noel Scott Engel) and his bandmates in The Walker Brothers had a few hits in the mid-60s, but were much more popular in the UK than US. Walker went solo in '67, recording a series of self-titled albums centered around his renditions of Jacques Brel songs. Scott 4 was the best of the lot, with all-original material...and unlike the first three, flopped on the UK charts. His career sank, except for a mid-70s reunion with the Walker Brothers. Recordings became fewer and more experimental (read: dark, bleak music to make nihilists very happy) as he grew more reclusive.