Sunday, July 24, 2011

Vancouver Independence

Being a middle-school punk ('84 not '76) in Vancouver, both this and the Vancouver Complication were something of Holee Grails of compilation albums to find at the many used record shops around town. I double-scored one Saturday afternoon at the lamentably-long-gone Track Records (a 7-11 now takes the space if I have the address right) by getting both this and D.O.A.'s "Something Better Change" for $11 each - which was still hefty for me at the time. I asked why so cheap and Grant replied that the vinyl was perfect, but the ring-wear on the jackets left them all but worthless, collector-wise. 
Ring-wear, schming-wear. Aesthetically scuffed but eminently playable, I jammed them in with my other grabs from Zulu (every week, nabbing on average 6-7 old punk albums at $7 apiece. I'm starting a petition to get those old days back) and got myself the hell back home...

...to be horribly disappointed. At least by the V.I. LP. I got four punk tracks and ten other cuts of utter shite, not worth perusing again, not worth the incalculably-small amount of wear on the cartridge needle incurred from letting it bore through those microscopic ravines of displeasure on it's circular trek to my misery.

So, 17-plus years later, yesterday, I pull the thing from the shelf for the third time (the Subs tracks were already classics in my head, but I had to memorize the No Exit's before shuffling the disc away forever, so I actually officially played it two times) and flap it on the Ion digital, and find myself like loving every damn track, or at least liking it or them more.
How does this happen? Hell, I'm not complaining.


Everybody knows about the Subhumans and bassist Gerry Hannah's imprisonment as part of the "Squamish Five" and their legendary punk status both here and around and all the awesome songs so we have "Behind the Smile", but a slightly different version than the later recording that was included on the "Terminal City Ricochet" movie soundtrack, and "Out of Line".

The Metros are on here with their more new-wavey "Don't Like It At All" and "In with the Crowd", and a nice bio of the band by Wolf Roxon can be read about here after scrolling a bit.

The enigmatic Si Monkey and their electro-experimental "The Conquest of Daytime" and "Get Rigid", and very little information about this outfit is Googleable. Any Vancouverites got some history for me?

And the loveable No Exit, getting under the skin with "No Excuse" and "Nothing New";

Doors-y neo-psychedelia from the Droogs' "Nuremburg '34" & "J.K.O.";

New wave and 2nd-wave ska coming from the B-Sides' "Spy vs Spy" and "Underground Radio Stars";

What I can only describe as sci-fi-influenced punk out of M.E.C.'s "What Would You Say?";

and I dunno what the Singing Cowboys are about, but "Midnight Cowboy" is a very cool instrumental.

Now, Vancouver still has a vibrant music-scene. It has slid away from the punk stronghold that held sway for most of the 90's and early 00's and into indie-rock territory with about ten new bands forming every month where ten bands disbanded and made room in the city's casualty-ridden play-space scene, so why haven't we had more compilations put out to showcase this?

I dunno.

Listen up.

Download here:
Vancouver Independence




Thursday, July 14, 2011

Alan presents the Elvis Presley Story


Alan Meyer of Philadelphia and soon southern California lived and breathed Elvis, singing along to the albums as a kid and - according to the jacket's flip-side - ran away from home to see the Presley flick "Loving You". Sounds like the only theater playing it was very far away, but you get the point.
Around '73 or '74 Alan (as he would plainly be billing himself) took his tribute act on the road and quickly garnered much attention for not only pulling off the look and physical embodiments of the still-alive "King" (E.P. wouldn't pass to another realm til '77), but sounding nearly identical to his mentor - all without any embellishments or exaggerations that later impersonators would use as crutches to hide their lack of vocal talent or merely for comedic impact.

This got the support of Dick Clark as promoter and country-wide tours of the States and up into Canada followed, culminating in lengthy stays in Las Vegas where big crowds were being drawn, all the while the real, actual Elvis was playing across town or down the strip. The difference between your basic impersonator and Alan, is Meyer gives a time-line commentary in between performances of Presley's repertoire: he wasn't pretending to BE Elvis, but rather, as the show said, a tribute. Which of course gained even more consideration after the death.  
However, Alan called it quits almost immediately afterwards due to respect and the sudden influx of 'Elvis Tribute Artists' flooding the scene almost before the body was put in the ground, and went to work in Silicon Valley, breaking out the gyrations once more in 2000, and even as late as '08, apparently at a party thrown for his co-workers at Philips Semiconductors.

Personally, I became over-saturated with the King's output very early on due to my dad being a fan (he was in attendance for Elvis' first performance in Vancouver in August of 1957 at Empire Stadium, unfortunately not hearing much of anything other than females screaming), but what the hell - it's worth it for the banter and the non-Elvisness of the Elvisness, if ya know what I mean. 

14 tracks, from the obvious to the 'what's that?'.

Download here:
Alan

Monday, July 11, 2011

Here Is the Rose... NOW DANCE!

Just in time, the very nick of time, for Canada Day! Okay, I'm ten days late (and I so wish I was a woman so I could put a joke in there), but we'll celebrate anyways.
And why not celebrate the Commie way? Today we have the Canadian Cultural Workers' Committee LP, "The Party Is the Most Precious Thing", a joyous ode to workers' struggles I guess, and why are all if not most of anything Communist weighed down with the extra-long names? It may have helped their cause(s) if they had short and pep working for them.
Anyways, where I live, there used to be a quite vibrant Communist community, which had regular meetings in a local cafe and maybe some marches and stuff. Plenty of flyers pasted up, too. Something happened, and it all went away. Maybe because the cafe closed?

Which is maybe good. A friend of mine went to a meeting once, and when she raised her hand during the question period and asked that, as an anarchist, if she didn't follow their Communist line when they eventually took the stronghold and replaced the current political thingie, she was answered with a nonchalant and very matter-of-fact "You would be killed.". So she left, because threats of a mortal nature never sat well with her. 

Personally, I had (and still have) a t-shirt with Marx on it, over top of which is "WANTED", underneath being, "for crimes against humanity..." and it goes on a bit about some stuff he did or whatever. This being like 15-20 years back, and before I knew only a hint less about this communist stuff than I do now, I wore the thing with complete and utter ignorance. (I do this with a lot of things. It keeps the possibility of situations open to edginess.) 
So I'm in the liquor store one day with this slap-in-the-face-to-Marxists on, and a woman says to me very loudly, "Actually, if you read early Marx, you'll find that he said a buncha neato stuff...", at which point my being-surprised-in-a-public-place-with-weird-confrontation psyche sort of fuzzed over her most likely very astute point, and answered her - after a few moments of gaping at her awaiting face - "Oh, this means the later obscure fuzzy-muffin Marx babble... " at which point I just let out a stream of nonsense at her, leaving a victim of my personal stupid-bomb behind looking at me like Lenin's head popped out of the back of my neck and gave her the razzberry.
So it was fun.

Anyways, here we go with ten tracks of Commie-folk-agenda! If I hear this blasting, I'll know you live on the Drive.
Track listing:

A1 Here is the Rose - Now Dance!
A2 Song of the Third Congress
A3 Inevitable Struggle Has Broken Out!
A4 Oh Albania, Red Star That Burns Bright
A5 Workers of All Countries, Unite!
B1 Salute to CYUC (M-L)
B2 Arise Proletarians!
B3 Death to the Traitors!
B4 Levesque Doesn't Wear His Specs!
B5 The Party is the Most Precious Thing

Download here: