Static Journey, vol. 2

I dipped into the second volume of Darin Cappe’s 9 volume box set retrospective of the Rheostatics’ career. Darin is releasing one volume a week up ’til the end of March, in order to commemorate the one year anniversary of the last Rheos concert. I posted about volume one here.

Volume 2 of Static Journey is almost entirely about Melville, the Rheostatics’ second album. Released in 1991, this was the record that truly established the band’s credibility among fans, critics and (perhaps most importantly, in terms of their ultimate influence on Canadian music) musicians. One doesn’t so much listen to that album as come to terms with it. My own experience with the record is probably more or less typical; when I first listened to the disc, I didn’t quite get it – the songs didn’t resonate, and it all just sounded kind of weird and foreign to my ears. I had occasion to listen to the thing repeatedly more or less unintentionally – there was a cassette dub of the record in my car that I listened to frequently while going back and forth between Toronto and Windsor on weekend visits to my then girlfriend. I only listened to the Rheostatics side to get back to the beginning of the recording on the other side. As time went by, I found myself strangely drawn to these songs, and gradually I became addicted to Melville; needless to say, I can no longer even remember what was on the other side of that tape. My point is that the music is somewhat inaccessible, or at least not immediately so, if one is coming from a more-or-less mainstream sensibility – but one thing Melville did was to announce, from the opening chords of Record Body Count that this album would be something different. It took some effort, attention and involvement to understand the record, but once I really sat and listened to it, I didn’t want to hear anything else.

Static Journey vol.1

ggdposterSome thoughts on volume 1 of Darin Cappe’s Static Journey “box set” retrospective on the Rheostatics (you can get it here):

  • I was a little disappointed initially that the first track in the set – position of primacy, very important – was not in fact a Rheostatics track, but rather the Introduction for the band that was sung by Dave Bookman (accompanied by Steve Stanley) prior to the band taking the stage on the evening of the last concert. It all made sense though, right near the end of the track when you can hear the first thunderous applause as the band takes the stage; it sent chills up my spine again, just the way it did on that night, thinking of all the Sprouts assembled in the grand old concert hall. I remember it occurring to me that this last show was likely the first time ever that all the Sprouts were together like that at one time, just to see the Rheos (most club shows were good for maybe 200 attendees at most, and even the Bathurst Street Theatre shows in ’97 couldn’t have been more than 5 or 6 hundred at most, and at Maple Leaf Gardens or Molson Park Canada Day shows – well, those of us who were there had tickets to see other bands too, so that doesn’t count).

New Rheostatics Material

Okay, well not exactly “new.” The band is still broken up, so they’re not producing any new material. Not to worry, though, because Green Sprout* extraordinaire Darin Cappe has been working on a project – a mega-project, actually – to celebrate the upcoming one-year anniversary (on March 30th) of The Last Whale, the final Rheostatics concert. I don’t know Darin personally, just via his intermittent postings to the Yahoo! mailing list dedicated to the Rheostatics and through his site dedicated to the band; He must be quite a fan, though, because he’s pored through hours and hours of recorded material in an effort to put together a “box set” of CDs functioning as a retrospective look at the Rheos’ career. The Rheos were one of those (all too rare) bands that didn’t mind if you recorded their live shows, and there was a pretty active sharing/trading market among the many Sprouts, so Darin’s task was an enormous one encompassing perhaps hundreds of hours of recorded material of varying quality.

Anyway, Darin has released the most recent volume of the project he’s calling Static Journey (he’s up to Disc 4 of a 9 CD set) here. Volumes 1, 2 and 3 can be found here, here and here. The price is certainly within the range of affordability – all downloads are free of charge.

Meme First!

I have been tagged with a meme by Mike.* For those of you unfamiliar with the concept – I’m looking in your direction, Geez – it’s definition time:

The Blog Meme
A blog meme is a type of Internet meme that requires active participation by the blogger and rarely traces back to an originating source. It’s often a series of questions that a blogger answers to share some personal perspective or experience on random topics.

Source: Quixtar Blog.

Aside from using the word “meme” in defining the term “Blog Meme” that definition seems pretty good. So I’ve been asked to answer a series of questions, basically. Here they are:

a) What issues/topic interests you most–non-fiction, i.e, cooking, knitting, stitching, there are infinite topics that has nothing to do with novels?

Honestly, I have such a great deal of difficulty narrowing the list of my topical interests down to the point where I could accurately specify that some interests predominate over others. I guess it would be fair to say that my curiosity is more likely to be piqued by articles/books/films/websites that concern technology, politics, science, music or literature than it is by knitting or decoupage but, as may already be evident, one of my enduring problems in life has been that I am (too?) easily amused, fascinated and distracted by detailed information on virtually any topic. I generally find such information infinitely more fascinating when I have a great deal of (other) work to do and very little time in which to accomplish it. I think that I could easily be mesmerized by almost any written material on any topic, provided that it is well-written and brings the historical context and the technical detail.

…and now they’re gone, now they’re gone.

A CBC reporter from New Brunswick by the name of Bob Mersereau has written a book purporting to set out the top 100 Canadian albums of all time.   Obviously, the subject matter of such a book is in the “holy freakin’ subjectivity, Batman” category.   I have no doubt that Mersereau’s whole point is simply to jump start a debate – I would hope that no author of such a work would expect to have his words received as the definitive statement on the topic.

Four beauty guys.

Rheostatics placed two albums in the top 100;  Whale Music came in at #19.  CBC radio listeners may remember that the Mother Corp. conducted an online survey some years back on the same subject matter.  If memory serves, Whale Music placed at the very top of that list as the Greatest Canadian Album Of All Time – but all reference to that poll seems to now be absent from the CBC website.   The inherently contradictory nature of these two results kind of reminds me of the two hot dog carts in Toronto’s Nathan Phillips square that used to be side-by-each, with signs respectively proclaiming:  “World’s Greatest Hot Dog” and “Best Hot Dog in the City.”