Music Notes: May 2016

May 31, 2016 at 6:25 pm (Uncategorized)

And here we go…

  1. Gang of Four – What Happens Next?
    Two questions then. First, with only one original member, is this really a Gang of Four record or an Andy Gill solo set? Second, is it any good? I’m not certain about the first (although I lean toward solo album), but is it any good? Well, it’s got certain Gill-isms, the slashing guitar, the atonal noises, so it’s listenable, but overall, it’s only fair. And of course it pales when compared.
  2. The Black Keys –Attack and Release
    Early BK release. A little rougher , a little looser than later releases. Still great though.
  3. Marlene Marder
    Marder was a founding member of Swiss band Kleenex (until they were forced to change the name to LiLiPUT) from 1977 until the split in 1983. Dada punk. It should be impossible to listen to the records and not smile, or be stunned by “Eisiger Wind.” Marder passed away on May 15.
  4. New Order -Music Complete
    If you’ve heard “Restless” the opening song on this album, you’ll feel a wave of nostalgia. Classic New Order dance-pop. The rest of the record does not disappoint.
  5. “Dream Baby Dream”
    I was at a dance performance at my daughter’s school last week, and this song announced the start of the show. They played Bruce Springsteen’s version, but the original by New York pioneers Suicide is amazing too. My favourite though the version by Neneh Cherry and the Thing.
  6. Various artists Why are the Mountains Black?
    Now here’s a thing. Released on Jack White’s label, it’s a two-disc collection of Greek folk music from the first half of the 20th century. I’ve only heard a fraction of it, but it’s pretty cool stuff. Not for every one (I’m not sure if it’s for me even), but certainly worth a listen.
  7. Mojo
    Last week in a conversation at work, I mentioned I didn’t like Pink Floyd (well, post-Barrett). The person I was speaking too reported the conversation, and my own choices were criticized, Cool. It’s good to disagree. But here’s the May issue of Mojo with a big story on Syd Barrett and a free CD of (so-far) amazing psyche sounds. That should please everyone.
  8. David Bowie – The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the spiders from Mars
    Road trip to Montreal last weekend for the anarchist bookfair (report to follow soon), but I listened to this on the way. Bowie’s been gone for just a few months, but it’s easy to forget just how important a talent he was. This album. Sensational. And like the very best things, it sounds better every time.
  9. “Which rock Star will historians of the future Remember?”
    One of the things I missed this weekend because of the book fair was reading the New York Times on Sunday morning. this week’s magazine has the above article by Chuck Khlosterman. Looks pretty interest. Be sure to expect angry letters disagreeing with his opinions.
  10. Gord Downie
    The news that the singer with the Tragically Hip has terminal brain cancer was a moment for many of a certain age. Downie is a few months older than me and I remember buying the first Hip record. My wife and I went to see them on New Year’s eve at the Horseshoe Tavern some decades ago, and while i didn’t think they were great. It was a solid show. I wouldn’t say I was a fan though I did like the occasional song of later work. Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but be struck by the fact that this was the topic of conversation the next day at work. The play one final Canadian only tour. Somehow fitting .


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Atheism in the UK

May 24, 2016 at 6:58 pm (Uncategorized)

Ha! We’re winning! Oh, atheists that is. According to a story in the Guardian , more people in England and Wales identify with no-religion than as Christians. It’s hard not to be cynical about religion in Britain though.

Let me see if I’ve got this right. After Martin Luther provokes a split in the church, the king of England, Henry VIII writes a screed condemning Luther and is awarded the tittle “Defender of the Faith” by the Pope.

Flash forward a few years, and Henry is stuck in a marriage to Catherine of Aragon who has been unable to produce a son for Henry (In all fairness, it’s not her fault). since divorce is not allowed, Henry wants an annulment, which basically means the marriage never happened. And so, this would make Henry’s daughter Mary a bastard and Catherine a prostitute. Given that the Pope’s main ally and protector was Catherine’s brother, it didn’t seem to be in the cards.

Then, Henry had a dream. God wanted him to start his own church where divorce was cool and by the way entitled him to seize much of the church’s land for redistribution to Henry’s friends and the clergymen who could see the writing on the wall. (Over-simplified I know, but I think the comic flavour compensates)

And you wonder why people are cynical. Surprising it took so long.


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All Aboard the Waco Express!

May 22, 2016 at 3:49 pm (Uncategorized)

Jon Langford of the Mekons, Skull Orchard, the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, the Waco Brothers and no doubt many more is a funny fucking guy. Langford held court at the Horseshoe Tavern Friday May 13, and for anyone who attended, you know what I mean.

Langford performed first with Skull Orchard and the Burlington Welsh Male Chorus Which meant that Langford and a couple of Wacos along with a twenty-plus men’s choir were crowded onto the tiny stage at the ‘Shoe.And if the prospect of a folk-country-punk playing alongside a group known for traditional folk song and hymns doesn’t sound appealing., you weren’t there. Langford led his band and the Chorus through songs of struggle, but also joy. Mixed in with Langford commentary and between-song banter, and you had a great start to the evening.

Joe D’Urso and the Stone Caravan played second and acquitted themselves with honour. A New Jersey based country-rock band, D’Urso played an energetic Americana that channeled their inner-Springsteen but also sounded original. The kind of band you could walk into a bar to hear, but one that somehow transcended the medium.

A little later came, well, the Waco Brothers. If you have never seen them perform, it’s a bit hard to explain. But basically, they’re an unstoppable force of nature. For over two hours and ternty minutes (I left the Horseoe as the house lights came on at 2:05 AM), Langford and his buddies raced through the best country album the Clash never made (or alternately the good records the Rolling Stones no longer make) mixing their own material with a significant helping of covers. In addition to material from their new record Going Down in History and previous greatest hits, the band covered T-Rex, Bobby Fuller, Tom Jones ( comments about Wales’ greatest son filled the evening), Shirley Bassey, Neil Young, and the Undertones. Every time it sounded as if the song they were playing was going to be the last of the evening, it turned out it wasn’t. (Except for the last, I suppose)Throughout the evening, shouts were heard for “Fox River,” and it was the last song of the evening. Joined by Jeff Cohen,  his wife, and several audience members the band tore through the track from Electric Waco Chair and sent everyone home happy.

PS For those of you who are fans of all things Langford, the word is that the Mekons will be playing the TURF festival in the Fall, but that the band will also be playing a club show at the Shoe in September.

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Not Long Until the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair

May 21, 2016 at 8:27 pm (Uncategorized)

This time next week, it’s the Montreal Anarchist Bookfair, the biggest radical bookfair around these parts. I usually table for Notes from Underground on the Saturday, but this year circumstances have led me to going on Sunday instead. Come by say hi.



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On May Day

May 1, 2016 at 7:32 pm (Uncategorized)

On May Day, I usually post an excerpt from a speech or an inspirational quotation. This year, I’m redirecting people to the author’s page at PM press because noted historian Peter Linebaugh has a new book out which deserves very wide readership.

The Incomplete, True, Authentic and Wonderful History of May Day

I’ll have copies of the book for Montreal and Toronto bookfairs, but Peter is also going to be at this year’s Historical Materialism conference in Toronto in a couple of weeks. And if you want to save a few dollarsd (and who doesn’t?), PM has the book on sale.

Cheers comrades.




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