Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Joe Strummer Day 2015 (Show # 592)

Every December 22nd, CJAM FM holds their annual Joe Strummer Day Marathon. CJAM FM broadcasts for 24 hours bringing awareness to poverty in the Windsor/Detroit area by surrounding it with the music of Joe Strummer and The Clash. This year I helped to kick off Joe Strummer day with my occasional co-host Adam Peltier. In addition to playing a selection of our favourite and rare Joe Strummer/Clash recordings, Adam also brought up some facts and potential places to seek assistance regarding poverty in Windsor/Detroit. You can re-listen to the broadcast below the playlist if you missed it.

Here are some of the highlights from the music that was featured on this program:

Joe Strummer & Jools Holland’s Big Band Rhythm & Blues Band Orchestra

In 2002, Jools Holland released an album entitled Jool’s Hollands’ Big Band Rhythm & Blues featuring a cast of musicians such as Sting, Van Morrison, Paul Weller, Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, John Cale and many others. The compilation is a celebration of rhythm & blues music and also features many original compositions. It also features “Horse To The Water” a song written by George Harrison and his son Dhani. This was also the last song recorded prior to Harrison’s passing in 2001. There is also a song written with Joe Strummer entitled “The Return Of The Blues Cowboy”. This energetic, piano driven track is one of the many songs that were recorded by Joe Strummer, but one that is often overlooked.

When Pigs Fly Soundtrack

As revealed in the documentary The Future Is Unwritten, Joe Strummer recorded for a variety of soundtracks following his work with The Clash. When Pigs Fly was a film directed by Sara Driver in 1993 and Joe Strummer recorded the music for it. Apparently nine hours of music were recorded/submitted for this soundtrack and it remains unreleased. Some of the tracks have been available in bootleg form for some time. The soundtrack showcases several musical styles such as country, folk and jazz. “Storm In A D-Cup” was an instrumental track featured on the program that has both avant-garde Jazz influences and raw early rock and roll surf/instrumental sounds.

Joe Strummer Day 2015 Playlist:

1. The Clash - Bank Robber (Live Concert For Kampuchea Dec 27, 1979)
2. The clash - Rebel Waltz (Sandinista! - 1980)
3. The Clash - Jail Guitar Doors (Super Black Market Clash - 1993)
4. The Clash - Ooh Baby Ooh (Give ’Em Enough Rope Demo)
5. The Clash - Heart & Mind (Demo) (London Calling: 25th Anniversary Legacy Edition - 2004)
6. 101ers - Keys To your Heart (Version 1) (Elgin Avenue Breakdown Revisited - 2005)
7. Joe Strummer - Shouting Street (Earthquake Weather - 1989)
8. Joe Strummer & Jools Hollands’ Big Band Rhythm & Blues - The Return Of The Blues Cowboy (Jool’s Hollands’ Big Band Rhythm & Blues - 2002)
9. Tymon Dogg - Pound Of Grain (Made Of Light - 2015)
10. Big Audio Dynamite - V. Thirteen (No. 10 Upping St. - 1988)
11. The Clash - Lost In The Supermarket (London Calling - 1979)
12. Joe Strummer - Storm In A D-Cup (When Pigs Fly - 1993)
13. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Johnny Appleseed (Global A Go-Go - 2001)
14. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Long Shadow (Streetcore - 2003)
15. Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros - Get Down Moses (Streetcore - 2003)
16. The Clash - (White Man) IN Hammersmith Palais (The Clash (US Version) - 1979)
17. Joe Strummer & The Latino Rockabilly War - Nothin’ Bout Nothin’ (Permanent Record - Music From The Original Motion Picture Soundtrack - 1988)
18. Joe Strummer - Love Kills (Sid & Nancy Soundtrack - 1986)
19. The Clash - Janie Jones (The Clash (UK Version) - 1977)
20. The Pogues with Joe Strummer - If I Should Fall From The Grace Of God (Live) (The Pogues With Joe Strummer - Live In London - 2014)
21. The Clash - Complete Control (Live Bond’s International Casino, New York June 9th, 1981)

Download part one of Revolution Rock: Joe Strummer Day Kick Off 2015 here!
Download part two of Revolution Rock: Joe Strummer Day Kick Off 2015 here!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Young Rival Interior Light & Show # 591

Interior Light is the third full-length album by Hamilton’s Young Rival. Released on Toronto’s Paper Bag Records, the sounds on this album have been described as “Roy Orbison tripping on acid with Ray Davies and Bradford Cox.” Found on the back of the LP this description goes perfectly with the term that Young Rival coined to describe the music created during the recording of this album, croon-psych. Produced by Graham Walsh and Young Rival guitarist/vocalist Aron D’Alesio, the band took their time when creating the sounds for Interior Light. Even the album’s cover has an interesting backstory. It was adapted from an old stained glass window from 1987 by Benjamin Nelson in collaboration with Young Rival bassist John Smith. This design was mixed in with an array of colours that compliment the music found on Interior Light.

“Carry The Weight” starts off Interior Light in a manic fashion with swirling psychedelic textures. As the bass drum, clanging guitars and fuzzy bass move back and forth between the slow verses and frantic choruses the lyrics “I’m not prepared to turn around/My feet are firmly on the ground” and “Carry the weight/If you want to” convey a sense of wanting to move forward while considering the weight of the past. This song exemplifies the new explorations that Young Rival take on Interior Light sonically and aesthetically. “Throw It In The River” comes in with wavering 80s sounding effects before the song’s strong melodies kick in. The song’s stop and start dynamics, watery guitar effects, sobering basslines, drums and choruses pull you in like an unavoidable current. The album’s title track is more straightforward with jangly guitars, a circling drum pattern by Noah Fralick and a breakdown featuring the bass work of John Smith that sucks you into its orbit. The vocal harmonies in the chorus echo the words “Fall, fall, fall, fall, fall apart/It’s coming together again”. Lyrically “Interior Light” portrays a world of characters that seem lost, as the main character is unaffected and content with who they are. “Elevator”, first released as a teaser single in 2014, brings up the tempo on Interior Light with its energetic locomotive guitar riffs and subtle psychedelic vocal effects. The solo builds even more intensity in the back and forth momentum created by this track.

“Living Like You Should” is another example of the depth of harmony that Young Rival is capable of. The song adheres to elements from the songs of The Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison while at the same time blending guitar lines that at times sound like they could be from The Cure. Lyrically this song like many of the songs on this album, bring in a series of characters that act a certain way to evoke a certain dramatic effect. In this case, “Living Like You Should” features two low-key characters that move at their own pace, but as long as they “Swing low together” then it works for them. A message of slacker positivity is brought forth in between this song’s in the pocket drum grooves, dominating melodic bass and hazy harmonies.

“Bent Out Of Shape” a track that has been compared to Deerhunter in some reviews, returns with the psychedelic/80s new wave sounds that develop as Interior Light progresses, “Let’s Get Together” comes in with crunchy guitars and distorted bass, while “Scruples” is more upbeat. Based on an actual person that visits a bar where D’Alesio and bassist John Smith work, “Scruples” is an up-tempo track that features reverb saturated guitars, vocals and pulsating bass and drums. “That’s Chemistry” ends Interior Light. The drums on this track played by Noah Fralick sound like they could be from a slower paced Devo song. The guitars and vocals take on more aqueous textures while the bass plays at a steady smooth rate. This track operates at two levels. Lyrically it brings up thoughts of heartbreak, but on another level the title of this song alone is representative of what has been achieved on Interior Light. The chemistry of Young Rival is undeniable here.

In 2012, Stay Young saw Young Rival expanding and building on their early garage beginnings by pulling in more textures. Stay Young added stronger melodies to the band’s dynamic mixing crunchy and watery sound guitar effects. Like the album’s cover, Interior Light adds more colour to Young Rival’s already established garage rock palette. With Interior Light, Young Rival gets more psychedelic allowing the guitars and melodies created to drift like the paint on a canvas.

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Charles Bradley - Changes
2. Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings - Ain't No Chimney's In The Projects
3. Tymon Dogg - Time For Moving On
4. The Decemberists - The Mariners Revenge Song
5. Tea Leaves - Bipolar Skies
6. Paul Jacobs - Soul Catcher
7. Timmy’s Organism - Get Up, Get Out
8. Japandroids - For The Love Of Ivy
9. Library Voices - Zzyzx
10. Sleater-Kinney - You're No Rock 'n Roll Fun
11. Whatever Forever - Streets Ahead
12. Pistolrays - Rollin’ Dice
13. Bob Dylan - Tombstone Blues (Take 1)
14. Bob Dylan - Positively 4th Street (Take 5, Alternate Take)
15. Bob Dylan - Desolation Row (Take 5)
16. Bob Dylan - Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window (Take 6, Complete)
17. Cassie Ramone - Run Run Rudolph
18. Go For 3 - Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer
19. Devo - Timing X
20. Devo - Wiggly World
21. The Government - Information
22. Young Rival - Scruples
23. Young Rival - That’s Chemistry

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for December 19. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Bob Dylan The Cutting Edge & Show # 590

In the span fourteen of months from January 1965 to roughly February 1966, Bob Dylan made a transition from the folk music scene that he was a part of starting in Greenwich Village into the wild spontaneous world of rock music. Already able to fill Carnegie Hall, Dylan looked for something new and did not want to be labeled as a protest songwriter. It is also fitting that his first album where he would experiment with what he would eventually call his “wild mercury sound” was produced by Tom Wilson. Wilson produced the three acoustic Dylan albums that preceded Bringing It All Back Home (The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (1963), The Times They Are A Changin’ (1964) and Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964)) and Wilson would assist in bringing Dylan’s electric sound to a new audience.

The Cutting Edge begins with Dylan armed with an acoustic as we hear a quick run through of “Love Minus Zero/No Limit”, one of the many songs that would be found on the 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. This song, like many Dylan songs are open to interpretation. This early track on The Cutting Edge could be seen as an introduction to the limitless possibilities of a world that Dylan was about to explore. Lyrically, Bringing It All Back Home brought together elements of Dylan’s acoustic beginnings with experimentations into electric rock music. The lyrics too took on more prowess and imagination than ever before. Songs during this period often brought together real life experiences with characters from literature and history while at the same time adding a surreal slant. The result was an effective, new mixture of music and lyrics unlike any other. The songs on The Cutting Edge progress from sketches, outtakes, fragments to full out alternate versions of songs that would wind up on Bringing It All Back Home in 1965, Highway 61 Revisited in 1965 and Blonde On Blonde in 1966.

In the middle of all of the sketches of songs, outtakes and raved up versions of songs such as “It Takes A Lot To Laugh It Takes A Train To Cry”, a version of “Mr. Tambourine Man” and “Desolation Row” with a full band, alternate takes of singles such as “Positively 4th Street”, there is the evolution of the song “Like A Rolling Stone”. This song is pivotal when discussing Bob Dylan and music in general. Songs were at most three minutes back in the 60s. “Like A Rolling Stone” took that format and broke the time barrier, expanding it to over six minutes with lyrics telling a story like a great novel. The lyrics are sung with a certain cynicism and were captured in the fourth take that the band attempted during these sessions. You can hear the song change time signatures on The Cutting Edge and despite being attempted approximately 20 times, only two complete takes were ever finished of this song. This song helped to define Bob Dylan’s new sound and his style of writing. Often written about and discussed at length, The Cutting Edge sheds light on how it was created. This was also the last recording to be produced with Tom Wilson. After the recording of “Like A Rolling Stone”, which is the only recording that Wilson produced that would make Highway 61 Revisited, he was mysteriously replaced by Bob Johnston who took over producing Dylan records until New Morning in 1970.

For the sessions that would make up the double album Blonde On Blonde, it began with Dylan recording with his new backing band The Hawks, an early version of The Band. Several songs on The Cutting Edge feature an early incarnation of The Band with and without drummer Levon Helm. While Helm did play with The Hawks, he left the band during Dylan’s 1965 “electric” tour and is only featured on some recordings in this set. He was replaced by Bobby Gregg, who had played with Dylan and Co. on Bringing It All Back Home and who also played with Sun Ra in the 60s. You can hear early versions of songs such as “Visions Of Johanna” in a more erratic fashion, outtakes and alternate versions of songs “I Wanna Be Your Lover”, “Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window”, “Lunatic Princess”, “Leopard Skin Pill-Box Hat” and many others. The sessions for Blonde On Blonde took place in both New York and in Nashville and with these recordings the band line up shuffles frequently. The Blonde On Blonde sessions were augmented with session musicians from Nashville. When it was released in May of 1966, Blonde On Blonde was the first of its kind. It was the first double album of rock music ever to be released.

As “Like A Rolling Stone” did with single time barriers for radio singles, Blonde On Blonde pushed beyond the typical LP format. The Cutting Edge ends (on the shorter and 18 disc versions of it) with another lengthy composition. Rumoured to be about his then wife Sara, “Sad Eyed Lady Of The Lowlands” is a song noted for a few things. It was the last song recorded for the sessions. It was written during an eight-hour span in the studio while many of the musicians played cards and smoked cigarettes waiting for its completion and finally, it took up an entire side of the album when released on vinyl. It clocked in at eleven minutes and twenty two seconds. Recorded around 4 AM on February 16th 1966, the song takes on a nocturnal, haunting quality while the song structure goes beyond the norm while the lyrics ask questions without providing answers, tying in once again into the literary comparisons of Dylan’s songs.

In 2014, The Basement Tapes Complete were released as part of Bob Dylan’s bootleg series. This set took us through Dylan’s next phase of music following his “Dylan goes electric” era. Those songs reached out to Dylan’s roots exploring folk music, roots rock and country, which led to the sounds that would produce both Music From Big Pink by The Band and 1967’s stripped down John Wesley Harding. The Cutting Edge rewinds the tape, going back to the time before any of that occurred. We see Dylan searching for a sound through rock music, which would put him in the public eye. The Cutting Edge shows the listener what it would be like to be a fly on the studio wall as Bob Dylan and a series of musicians create three very different highly influential albums that brought in a rock & roll sound with a new kind of lyric.

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. The Evaporators - Waaa!
2. The Moderns - The Year of Today
3. Soupcans - Psychosomatic Rash
4. Runs With Kittens - Cut Of Your Jib
5. Mexican Knives - Beach Song
6. Mexican Knives - Nightmare
7. The Pyramids - Penetration
8. The Catamounts - Ride The Surf
9. The Famines - Fast Times
10. Ty Segall - The Slider
11. Tall Dwarfs - Mr. Broccoli
12. Bob Dylan - Subterranean Homesick Blues (Take 1, Alternate Take)
13. Bob Dylan - On The Road Again (Take 1 Remake, Complete)
14. Bob Dylan - Mr. Tambourine Man (Take 3 with Band, Incomplete)
15. Bob Dylan - Like A Rolling Stone (Takes 1-3 Rehearsal)
16. Bob Dylan - Like A Rolling Stone (Take 11)
17. Cass Mccombs - Catacombs Cow Cow Boogie
18. Ray Condo & The Hardrock Goners - I Don't Matter To Me
19. Father John Misty - The Ideal Husband
20. Ought - Meant For Miles
21. Sports - Saturday All Of Something
22. Teenage Head - Picture My Face (Live 1978)
23. The Red Squares - Transmitter
24. BB Gun - Curious
25. The Outcasts - Justa Nother Teenage Rebel

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for December 12. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Pointed Sticks Nick Jones Interview & Show # 589

In 2009, Pointed Sticks, a punk/power pop band from Vancouver, released their second full-length album Three Lefts Make A Right following a reunion that began with live shows in Japan in 2006. Originally part of Vancouver’s burgeoning punk scene alongside bands such as D.O.A, The Modernettes and The Dishrags in the late 70s/early 80s among others, the Pointed Sticks combined their razor sharp witty lyrics with songwriting hooks. While they were part of the punk scene, like many punk bands, they took from a variety influences and were not just a band that played music at 100 miles per hour. Following a series of singles, EPs and an album entitled Perfect Youth in 1980, Pointed Sticks initial split was in 1981. But, after 2009’s Three Lefts Make A Right, Pointed Sticks went on a hiatus of sorts. In July of 2015, they returned with a self-titled album. Recorded by the band themselves at keyboardist Gord Nicholl’s studio, Pointed Sticks spent approximately five years working on this material, crafting their songs to define the sound that would present itself on this album. Doused in organ/keyboards provided by Gord Nicohll, subtle, melodic basslines by Tony Bardach, fuzzy guitar from Bill-Napier Hemy, the solid drum grooves of Ian Tiles and sharp thought provoking vocals by Nick Jones, Pointed Sticks features ten new songs.

Pointed Sticks opens with “La La La”, the song features dominate organ provided by Gord-Nicholl, crunchy guitar and lyrics provided with conviction by Nick Jones. Pointed Sticks start off this album, with catchy hooks and a 60s garage aesthetic. “You’re Not The One” adds in keyboards and salty acoustic guitars, contrasted with electric guitar that sounds as if it could have been on “Five Foot One” from Iggy Pop’s 1979 album New Values. “Broke”, another strong point on Pointed Sticks, adds to the band’s classic pop formula. This song provides the listener with guitar lines ala David Bowie & The Spiders From Mars guitarist Mick Ronson or Mick Jones of The Clash, flooding organ sounds and lyrics that seem to recall a realization. With lyrics such as “I should have known that for all these years”, “I was pushed out of line/I was losing track of the time” and “I never should’ve trusted fate/But everybody makes mistakes”, Pointed Sticks take their strong pop melodies while at the same time displaying a message of duality, one of which sounds like the story of a worn down human being, but the other that could perhaps relate to the band’s own situation. In “Broke”, Jones also seems to be reflecting on Pointed Sticks own predicament, contrasting realistic views of the past and present with a new hope, giving the song another element that warrants repeat listens. As many tracks do on this album.

“Lovely Bird” comes off with a sound in the vein of the sounds found on Vic Goddard & The Subway Sect’s 1980 album What’s The Matter Boy, while “Tin Foil Hat” blends jazz with French pop music. When speaking with Jones back in 2009, he mentioned that the band would bring a little bit of experimentation to their sound, and this song written and sung by bassist Tony Bardach, does just that. Bringing in dusty acoustic melodies, and hazy accordion flourishes, the lyrics tell the story of a rogue who is both rambunctious and invincible when wearing his a tin foil hat that was discovered on the street. “Skerabap’, a short approximately 40 second acoustic instrumental written by guitarist Napier-Hemy serves, along with “Tin Foil Hat”, as not just the halfway point of this album but also part of what separates it from the rest. In addition to their already emphasized pop dynamics and strong hooks, it shows that Pointed Sticks are still willing to try new things and not be pigeonholed. And despite the contrast in musical styles, these songs only add to the depth and overall melodies found on this album.

“Impatient” musically sounds like it is part “Gloria” by Them mixed with keyboard parts from an early Doors song, as the chorus kicks in, its infectiousness drives home a story about a character that wants to move forward, but does things so quickly that she doesn’t give them time to develop. “Yesterday’s Girl” is a song sung by keyboardist Gord Nicholl and is the first Pointed Sticks song that he has sung lead vocals on, “Tsune’s Song” is a stop and start power pop song that was written in part with Tsuneglam Sam of the Tokyo glam pop band Young Parisienens. The album ends with the song “Simply Nothing”. Featuring primarily acoustic guitar and a Ray Davies Kinksian slant circa their Lola vs. Powerman period, this defy all odds love song can also be reflective of Pointed Sticks in 2015. With a new album out and hopes to tour Europe, Pointed Sticks don’t pretend to be something they’re not on this album. They aren’t trying to re-write their past. The music and lyrics has an honesty that looks forward based on the experiences of the past, while at the same time maintaining the band’s boy meets girl songwriting dynamic. With this album Pointed Sticks reach what seems like another new beginning.

Listen to the interview that I did with Nick Jones of Pointed Sticks here:

Saturday Night Playlist:

1. Chips & Co. - Let The Winds Blow
2. Natives From Earth - How Can I Miss You (If You Won’t Go Away)
3. Archie & The Bunkers - Sally Lou
4. Bob Dylan I Want You (Take 4)
5. Chastity - Manning Hill
6. Hook And Eye - Poacher Of The King's Deer
7. Dirty Ghost - Cataract
8. The Milk Monitors - Drag You Down
9. The Victims - I Understand
10. Pointed Sticks - La La La

Nick Jones Pointed Sticks Interview

11. Pointed Sticks - You’re Not The One
12. Patti Smith - Wicked Messenger
13. Charlie Pickett & The Eggs - Overtown
14. Indian wars - Eight Feet High
15. George Jones - No Money In This Deal
16. Andre Williams - My Tears
17. Alex G - Bug
18. Pylon - Volume
19. X-Ray Spex - Germ Free Adolescents
20. Nervous Talk - Different Person
21. Young Rival - Living Like You Should

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for December 5. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.