Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Singles Scene #7

London: A record show. What better place to find records than a record show? I go to 2 or 3 shows a year and always seem to make the 2 London ones, even though London's an hour from my house. Guelph, Hamilton, Mississauga all have good shows and all closer to home. But London it is.

If you've never been to a record show it's like a Star Trek convention without the Klingons: everybody here is a music geek. Nobody here enjoys music, they are passionate about music and, more significantly, passionate about owning music. It is loaded with albums, in good shape or bad , videos, bootleg records, CDs and DVDs, posters and assorted memorablia. Ever wanted a Beatles Lunch Box? I saw one yesterday! Autographed Picture of Jimmy Page (with bow in hand)? I know where to get one! 1969 Grateful Dead concert poster, with Janis and the Airplane on the bill? Yup!

I usually hit these shows looking for albums: my ongoing list of half dozen albums I missed when they mattered gets whittled down by 1 or 2 at each show. Sometimes I grab a bootleg video, like the SARSfest DVD I got last time out. This time, however, it is 45's I am on the prowl for. Unlike other places I have searched for 45's, there is no question of finding what I am looking for here, it is a question of which singles I will find.

I know the set up here well, as it doesn't change much year to year - the same vendors sell the same general wares. Immediately upon walking in the door I see the usual singles guy, and head straight for him. He has a huge selection, in the thousands. Thankfully, he has row entitled 'Canadian.' This shouldn't be too hard!

It isn't. Easily a few hundred Canadian singles, most priced in the $2 - 4 range, although some rarer stuff is higher priced. The records aren't cheap, but at these shows you get very good quality records. First real find is one I have had in the back of my mind since I started this project: The Jitters The Last Of The Red Hot Fools. I then find an bit of a gem, something I had never heard of before: the Sinners Go Go Trudeau. An historically interesting novelty piece from 1968, that (apparently) reached 48 on the Chum chart. After picking through them all, I decided one more was needed but nothing stood out as obvious the way the other 2 did. I finally settled on Glass Tiger's Don't Forget Me (When I'm Gone). I choose the last one not so much because I love the song, but because a) they were a big band at the time b) it has an original picture cover & c) The record itself is transparent! For $3.00, I'm feeling lucky and at $2.00 a piece for the other 2 there is enough change from a 10 to buy my little guy (who's trailing along with me) a kiss pin. Not a bad day, especially when you add in that I found a great condition LP of "London Calling" before heading home.

First on the turntable is the Hooters Last Of The Red Hot Fools. I picked this one because I saw this band once in one of Mississauga's larger bars, and they where good. I also remember, mostly from this night I suppose, that this was a pretty cool song. Of course, the Mullet was a cool haircut in 1987, so I my read on this could be wrong.

It is, but it's still not a bad song. It starts with the chorus, a Nylons sounding vocal part with little instrumentation:

I've been a fool, to play it dumb
should have played it smart
used my head, but not my heart
Must have been crazy to play it hot
should have played it cool
now I'm just the last of the red hot fools.

I remember doing some fun hand movements that went with it. Let's see:

Must have been Crazy circle temple with index finger
playin' it hot wipe imaginary sweat off brow,
Should have played it cool Cross arms in front of self as if cold
Now I'm just the last of the red hot fools bob index finger in front of you as if pointing at rest of table.

Did I mention it was in a bar? None the less this isn't a bad song, just not a great one. The instrumentation is simple, even basic, too basic. And other than the chorus, the words are OK, but forgettable. The last problem here is tempo, this song is neither fast, nor slow. It's not a ballad, it's not a Thorogoodian rocker, as it could be. Not so bad for drinking to, I guess, but no George Thorogood in that regard either.

The b side is a piece called Hard as Nails, which is again strongly in the camp of the Plain Jane of songs: you might date it, but you'll never fall head over heels for it. Tempo is again neither fast nor slow (actually, this song should be a whole lot quicker) I wonder if I went through the late 80's music if I'd find this tempo a lot. I'm guessing I would, and the Hooters are no worse a representation of the period as any other band, save for U2.

Speaking of Mullets, check out the cover of the Glass Tiger single! And the long coat!! I actually wore one of those when I played in a band in '89. Guess what tempo Don't Forget Me is. Hooters speed! Why did I never notice this before? What makes this different is the players, especially the bass. Amongst musicians of the time funky slappy bass was very in, and this song is a great example of it. Still a forgettable song, but one with some good performances in it.

The b side is, simply put, abysmal. I have never had time for Duran Duran and somehow they are performing on the b side of a Glass Tiger single. Music went, at times, very very astray in the latter part of the 80's. I now present exhibit A in defense of that statement: Ancient Evenings, by Glass Tiger. Deciding to sound like Duran Duran is one of those things I'll never understand, like all those female singers who want to sound like Madonna. There's a reason Paula Abdul is Schlepping American Idol contestants, and it's the same reason Glass Tiger is not with us anymore. Ms. Abdul decided a good career move would be to sound like Madonna, Glass Tiger went for the Duran Duran sound. Both deserve the fates that have befallen them.

If you aren't overly interested on my views on Duran Duran and Madonna I recommend you don't get me started on Pierre Trudeau. However, I picked up Go Go Trudeau by the Sinners not because I want to hear someone singing Go Go Trudeau to bad surf music. It's more an interest in what they thought of PET in 1968. Can you imagine any of today's leaders, of any political stripe, of any of the major countries, inspiring a song of any kind (I fought the law jokes notwithstanding). PET was, they thought in 1968, our JFK (whether he was or not, or whether that was a good thing or not, I'll leave you to decide for yourself). This song reflects that feeling.

Lyrically they based this song on a bunch of old folk songs which they have parodied:

Hang down your head Bob Stansfield,
hang down your head and cry.
Parliament must stand this way
and you still don't know why".

Or how about "Farewell Pearson" to Farewell Eileen. And how about this for a chorus:

Go Go Trudeau don't be afraid to take your stand.
You got the nation right behind, go right ahead and blow their mind.

It's no one little, two little three Canadians I grant you, but it must have been embarrassing to sing. Interestingly, it's not nearly as bad in French. This may well be because I can't understand how bad the lyrics are.

So my trip to London netted me an interesting re-look at 1968 and 20 years later. Somehow I'm not too fussy on either right now.

No comments: