"Don't be a dink, click on this link"

Thursday, October 6, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #30: Assorted Thoughts of Varying Interest

I was going to diss some of the contents of the "Harvey Box", but nah, life is too short to wax mean on the collected works of Lindesfarne & The Ultimate Spinach.

And as far as the John Denver set goes, Shirley is very happy. The CD has ALL those 70's hits like "Country Roads", ""Back Home Again" (my dad's fave) & "Sunshine On My Shoulder". Shirley went as far as to purchase a Denver songbook for a whole 25 cents in an attempt to get me to play those songs on the gee-tar. Hang glider flying lessons, however, are not in the cards.

"He probably has his own demons to contend with. Do you know how many records he sells? Holy shit, it's amazing,"
Lou Reed, on the topic of John Denver, taken from a 1975 Rolling Stone interview

The main thing I want to talk about is quitting Facebook. I did it, and you can, too.
I got tired of it all, tired of the friend requests from bum bands, tired of the stupid apps (I don't care if you need a cow in Farmville, !@#$ off), and most of all battling the (lack of) privacy settings. I feel sorry for the 800 or so pals stranded, but there are other ways of getting a hold of me if I'm THAT important.

I have a feeling, though, a good chunk of those "friends" were only friendly in relation to my own datafriendbase. Add me, get a whole bunch of people as spam fodder yr bum band/demonstration/Tupperware party.

The role of Facebook may be replaced by something more efficient. We'll see..In the meantime, I still have regular e-mail, and loads of tunage to wade through.
Life is slow, but good here in Northern Alberta. Take care.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #28: On the Monkman Trail

The Author, inside a coal shovel, in Tumbler Ridge B.C.

This is what I did on my sole long summer weekend with Shirley. I work weekends, see. That's when people shop for toys. I got this weekend off, though, and so we...took a trip!

To fully enjoy this article, click on this map

It will help you follow the narrative...

It is a mere 200 kilometres from Grande Prairie, Alberta to Tumblers Ridge, British Columbia. That is, if you're a crow, or more accurately, raven. Most people take the roundabout way via Dawson Creek. It adds an extra hour of driving, & yeah, there's a reason for that...

Shirley & I drove via the most direct route. As it turns out, we followed in the circa 1937-39 footsteps (and Model T tracks ) of Peace River pioneer, Alexander Monkman. He was looking for a quick access point to the BC Coast for the local farming population. His story can be found on the top link.I already told you about it...

So now that you've opened the link, browse the map. We started out at Point #1 (Grande Prairie, Alberta) skipped the side trips by travelling Highway 43 West ('To Alaska"), turned off onto county-cum-country roads,going from paved to to gravel range roads until we hit the Township Line 700, which is a forestry/oil rig route.
This pic was taken in Alberta, shortly before we hit the Range Road which led to the Township Line:

I can't really call it a road, but it does connect B.C. to A.B., and we drove a good 50+ klics on it. You kids at home: if you don't have a suitable truck, don't try this.

In the process, we saw a pack of bears. Bears do not generally travel in packs, and we didn't slow down to figure out why . There were more of them than us, so onwards.
It's true what they say about the B.C. /Alberta border: you go almost instantly from prairie to mountain terrain once you hit the border. Poplars get replaced by pines, and time goes backwards an hour...except for Shirley.

Once we hit the new, Heritage highway, we went from logging roads to attenuated gravel to pavement. We also experienced many changes in vertical elevation, with loads of dips, rises, and curves. Add to that a hefty dose of cross winds and Shirley's arms were pretty much pooched by the time we hit Tumbler Ridge.

(For the record, I offered to drive, but she said 'no way..')

Tumbler Ridge
is a coal mining town of relatively recent, 1981 vintage. Population: 3,000. Population during Grizfest: double that. Aside from the mines, there's skiing..and not much else. Two ATMs in the entire town, one of which belongs to the local Credit Union. And @ 55 bucks per person per day, we weren't going to visit Kim Mitchell & April Wine, though we did catch members of the latter taking pics at the local Parade.

Our return trip was via #52 north to Dawson Creek, aka Mile Zero of the Alaska Highway, a road built during WWII to help secure the Wet Coast from a possible Japanese attack.
Highway 52 had its share of ups and downs and one washed out bridge, due to the unusually wet summer, but it was easier on Shirl. We ventured north of DC to the Peace River and headed back. The Peace lends its name to the region and its easy to see why: it's huge. Not quite St Lawrence river big, but BIG enough.
I'll show a picture of a cool, curved wooden bridge built on the original Alaska Highway. Shirley hates bridges but thinks this one is cool.

And how was YOUR summer?

Next issue,I review Ant Man Bee & Paul Collili's new discs. They came in the mail, so we're going to listen to them.

Monday, June 13, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #27: Imants Krumins: Last Car from Union Station

To people who hear music in the background, as opposed to the foreground, the name Imants Krumins won't mean a lot.

To the rest of us, Imants who passed away Thursday morning, June 9, 2011, was the consummate fan, the interstitial glue that bound us together, and someone I counted as a friend for more than 30 years.
He was also a walking paradox: a banker by day and a raving punk rock/ wrestling fan at night, defying any & all conventions on the right, left, & outside centre. A Sun TV commentator wouldn't be able to reconcile his on-going support of the arts (especially punk rock!) with his position, and neither could a Rabble writer. Both would be reduced to apoplectic fits in his presence.

His lifestyle of living at home with his parents while amassing enormous quantities of LPs, cassettes, CDs, and MP3s might have made him an easy target for criticism and condescending remarks. The next two statements ,however, should pop that cliché balloon to Kingdom Come:

1) Extended family units USED to be the norm before the competing ideologies ruined it on BOTH sides of left/right equation. Actually , it's YOU who are the sick being. And anyway, it's none of your business, so sod off.

WHOA, did I just channel his spirit? Imants had a way with words that was feisty, succinct and in Technicolour. You could take any number of Krumins catchphrases , string them together and come up with responses to any and all situations. And at this point, I'd like to blow the whistle on Gary "Pig" Gold for doing precisely that. Specifically, in the column "Imants on Romance" in his funzine, The Pig Paper. Imants would have the last laugh, though, by actually responding in kay-fab - to use wrasslin' ring parlance - to his own column.

He made me - and a whole lot of other people laugh heartily - which brings us to the next point:

2) Collecting/appreciating music doesn't necessarily indicate a retreat from normal human contact. The makers of the documentary, Vinyl, seemed to play up this stereotype in the film (not intentionally..see comments...)but said stereotype didn't - and doesn't - stick: the memorable shot is one of Krumins pulling out one of the more ahem, graphic pieces of the collection, to the presumed disapproval of tut-tutters everywhere.

Yes, Imants made record collecting, enjoying live shows (a complete tour diary would fill a book...) and pro wrestling appreciation a social experience without subordinating his ah, ah, aesthetic to fashionistic social pandering.

He was born in Ol' Blighty on April 6th, 1952 to Latvian parents displaced by the Ribbentrop pact fall-out of World War II, moved to Canada in the late sixtease, and studied at McMaster University in the early seventease. We know this, because he retained an outrageous accent, knew every other Latvian person in the Hamilton , Ontario region, and his 50th birthday party was held at the Corktown Tavern in April 2002. That was an amazing gathering of the clans, but I digress...

We also know people who went to McMaster during his time there, people like Doug Foley of the Hamilton Spectator, who recalled that Imants "was one of the first people who was into Pink Floyd at the time". Presumably, the Syd Barrett version of the group...
He did a radio show at McMaster radio during those years, when said station was essentially two cans and a piece of string, in the basement of Wentworth House. I would say those shows were legendary, except all the stuff really DID happen: the pitchers of beer passed from the neighbouring pub, the death threats from pissed jocks upset with his decision to play a complete Captain Beefheart retrospective, and so on.

True fact: Imants was not always into vinyl. At one point, he was convinced cassette tapes were the wave of the future, After several of those unravelled on him, however, he became a believer in getting "hard" copies of material and the rest is history, as they say.

Mass produced items gave way to small, independently-produced issues sometime in the mid-70's with a few major exceptions (Ramones, ABBA). Trace the mailing lists of the early Do-It-Yourselfers and you will find Imants' name there, usually - and sagely -buying records in duplicate/triplicate, showing up (and paying for) gigs, & getting other people to show up, even if it meant wedging 12 of them in his sedan delivery service.

That doesn't sound like a lot: he was basically a pro-level aesthete who didn't "get" or give industry backwash. Multiply that effort over 35 + years, spread it over five, possibly six, continents (if you accept the party line about Gwar being from Antarctica..) and you're talking about one helluva community. Even if we limit our scope, to say, oh a relative cultural backwater like Hamilton, Ontario, Canada . the range of lives touched runs from the earliest days of Simply Saucer, thru Teenage Head's formative years, thru the Problem Children, thru the Dik Van Dykes, Wet Spots, and on down to the moderne day.

The common , unifying thread throughout the whole shebang was Imants. and now that thread is cut, and the world is a lot darker place. We have the Internet , with Facebook and Twitter to keep us together now, but I believe it was Gary Pig who said - and only half jokingly - that Imants WAS the internet back in the day. You can't put your arm around a memory and you can't share a pint with a laptop . Well. you can, but it's a pretty pathetic state of affairs when people do so in public.

All my memories of Imants are centred around the shows: the big ones like the annual Ramone treks; the Australian ABBA cover bands, any number of Shows presented by the Garys.  My best memories, however, stem from the treks into terra incognita: the Lazy Cowgirls (original line-up) in Buffalo (where we accounted for a good 10% of the audience along w/the ex Mrs Greg Shaw), the 'ardcore new year's eve bash outside of Nowhere (aka Welland) circa 1982 and ESPECIALLY those CFMU-FM radio shows where it was apparent there couldn't have been more than two listeners rubbed together...especially after that Nurse With Wound superset. But again, and aye there's the triumph: multiply that effort over 35 years and hundreds of people , and I can tell you Imants Krumins made a difference to a lot of people.

During the last ten years of life, Imants took to the Internet like a fish to H2O, building an impressive list of contacts, from the past and present alike. As other writers have noted, his impact transcends generational boundaries. At one point, some of us tried to draft him as a Hamilton Mayoralty candidate. He declined, and it's our loss; we could have had both good financial management AND a healthy arts community.

He was, and is, a true original, one of the architects of punk rock, and the likes of which we will never, ever see again. And I will miss him very, very much. "Cheers"

NOTE: There will be a memorial concert in Hamilton, July 8th . a fundraiser for the Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada. Attendance is mandatory if you're in a 3000 km radius and have a pulse. Details, later, GEEK!

Friday, April 29, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #26: Harvey & Heavy Music

The endless series of music reviews continues...

Robbie Basho - Falconer's Arm I & II

was an American guitarist who recorded between 1965 & 1986, before his untimely death...more on that later..
He's most often referred to in the context of such pickers as John Fahey & Leo Kotke, but his thing was somewhat different from said mooks. Basho incorporated eastern modal styles & other non-US sources BEFORE McGuinn, Harrison et al on the steel string guitar.
That approach yielded what we used to call a "mixed bag" of aesthetic results. On the one hand, there's a whole bunch of third-eye stimulus going on. On the other, a whole lotta "new age" snoozak would be generated as a result. And Basho would occasionally open his yap, as many contemporary observers would point out, to less than fab effect.
This particular outing is one of the better ones. The recording is primitive by modern day standards, but the power shines through: his paws must have had callouses on callouses. The third eye motion does not let up from start to finish, even when he's warbling.
Basho died during a visit to the chiropractor. There is a life lesson to be learned from this: only let loved ones rub your back.
Rating: ****

Photo courtesy of

Various artists: The Fonotone Records Story 1956-1969

Joe Bussard, whose swell comp of vintage blues, jazz, old-timey, and gospel 78s was praised in our last issue, was head of the Fonotone label back in the day. Most of these recording strived to emulate the feel of said 78s, and the musicians he recruited to do this were top drawer. Stefan Grossman, Mike Seeger, and John Fahey (under the pre-Blind Death handle of Blind Thomas) all show up here.
The problem with things of this nature is, after a certain while, you get the running standing still effect. All of the aforementioned players moved on, but this comp - while enjoyable - stands frozen. And after three hours, it wears on you.
Even the Chesterfield Kings run comparatively further, by comparison, working with the admittedly time-limited garage-rock genre.
Rating: ** 1/2

Various Artists:
Psychedelic States: Alabama in the 60's Vol.2

And speaking of limited, this is rare these days. Think of it as a pubescent, fuzz-box driven ode to Eddie Flowers primo childhood memories. All of it is completely derivative ,but so fuggin' what? Doofus inspiration abounds, including the lyrical inspiration of George Wallace Jr. Foreigners like myself eat this stuff up.

T Rex
- Live 1977

Sad, but true: the end was near for head dino,Marc Bolan. Judging by this document, had he missed that tree in September '77, the entropy of the universe would surely have taken him down. This documents what creeping entropy sounds like in the advanced stages. I won't listen to it again...too depressing.

Bob Seger (w/the Last Heard & w/the Bob Seger System)

Thanks to You Tube, you can hear all those regional, Detroit hits, from 1966's East Side Story to 1972's Looking Back, most of which were reprised on the the first, Live Silver Bullet LP. That's how I first encountered this stuff: listening to "Rosalie" on Windsor's CKLW 800 AM (The Great Eight"), the only remotely rock station I could pick up in Kincardine, ON. in 1975. Bob grew a beard & got famous outside of the Windsor/Detroit area with Night Moves, and forsook the hard rock/soul mix for "mature" singer-songwriting. You, on the other hand, have a shaving razor and a high-speed connection. Use both judiciously. Dig these clips, and try to tell me they're anything less than great. I will surely scoff you down

Thursday, March 31, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #25: The Harvey Box Reviews, Episode 237-3A

The Harvey Box Reviews, Episode 237-3A
Continuing with the bazillion or so CDRs Harv sent me, this series of articles is expected to wrap up in the year 2060, which –by an amazing coincidence – is the year noted mathematician Isaac Newton expected the world as we know to end.
I’ll start off with some notes from my favourite recording artist, “Various”

Byron Coley & Mister Moore ponder the meaning of Pulsallama

Various – (Soul Jazz) New York Noise Vol. 2
This makes a nice companion to Messrs Coley & Moore’s No Wave: Post Punk. Underground. New York. 1976-1980. No Wave was a loose term applied to a number of NYC based acts in the late 70’s who took the punk ethos one step further by playing aggressive electric music which removed virtually all of rock music’s previous parameters and references. Ergo, most of this will sound like noise to rock audiences. Nice noise, though, to quote Ed Breau. The big names of the day are all here: Glenn Branca, Rhys Chatham, early Sonic Youth, & Mofungo, all of which have ties to earlier epochs of post-orchestral 20th century avant-garde composers. There’s also a poppy thing from Pulsallama, which sounds ok to me, too. The Byrne/Eno cops/antecedents lose points, though

I don’t play this around Shirley... *** 1/2

Six Organs of AdmittanceDark Moontide

I missed “freak folk” when it came down the pike six, seven years ago. This outfit was one of the leaders of that pack, and there are some nice John Fahey-esque (he IS an adjective now!) guitar & drone bits. But the lack of song-craft discipline bothers me. I think I’ll get my haircut now..** 1/2

Hawkwind Distant Horizons

Hawkwind was one of the groups associated with the space-rock tag. Best known for having incubated Lemmy from Motorhead, they have been recording releasing a steady stream of releases through the past two decades. In 1997, this meant pushing the electronics up & forward in the rhythm, presumably to attract rave attendees. I don’t think it worked as a career move (merely existing for 40 years works for them), but it’s not a bad disc per se, either. ***

Orange Bicycle –S/T

Twee British psych-pop from 1969, best known for siring artistes who would later clock in with some Andrew Loog Oldham string charts for the Verve. There’s a few pshit n’ giggle moments, but not enough to warrant taking 40 minutes out of my life. * 1/2

And again, from my fave artist, the pick of the bunch...

Various - Down In the Basement: Joe Bussard’s Treasure Trove of Vintage 78s

Easily the best thing I’ve heard from the Harv box to date. To say it’s a collection of old-timey 1926- 1933 78s doesn’t do it justice. There were loads of lame 78s back then. What Bussard has done is to take the shining oddities of that period from the folk genres of the day: blues, string-band, gospel, hot jazz combos etc and put them under an umbrella that makes contextual sense to the thoroughly modern listener. There is very little of that rare for rarity’s sake quality in the programming of this There IS a lot of hoopin and hollering and carrying on. Stack o Lee & the Garbageman await you here. Stick Out your can & buy this recording now! *****

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #24: March On, Metro!

Yeah, well March came in like a lamb here in Grande Prairie, Alberta. Specifically, the roast mutton sitting at the bottom of the freezer.
These are a few things that have made me perk up this winter...

John Harvey, noted poet, former wrassler & lead singer of the hardly-lamented Hated Uncles, sent me an enormous pile of recordings to plow through. Apparently, Harv is a believer in the "everything onto the hard drive" theory of music appreciation. Ergo, the cleanse out.

We're talkin' everything from latter day Hawkwind/Hawklords to Torch of the Mystics by the Sun City Girls (still one of my fave raves 20 some years later), to, um, a really comprehensive John Denver set. In the coming weeks, we'll plow through them. Highlights of the last group of mailings include that Sun Ra singles comp, John Cale Sun Blindness sets, and an early Miroslav Vitous thing (pre-ECM).
Harv is still blogging away in Haida Gwai (hey, that rhymes. I'm a poet/named Mowat), waiting for his big chance to escape the Queen Charlotte Islands; start a wrasslin/organic food commune in Nelson, B.C.. That last statement may not be totally accurate, but let's see him deny it...

Future issues of G-Mole will have at least 2 quickie type reviews from these boxes..

As some of you know, I moved to Grande Prairie to live with a grand lady named Shirley. However, I see some of you are still single. To help you cope, why not read Sofi Paparmarko's excellent blog, Sexy Typewriter *1
I met Sofi through - what else- my endless endeavours to plug Simply Saucer. At the time, she was one of the Three Wise Women of Toronto (her, Liz Worth, and Sara Saljoughi)doing the Rawk writhing thing. In recent years, her musings about relationships have earned her notice from the Globe & Mail, and a column spot on the Canoe site.

ST pulls no punches in dealing with the perils of modern dating & specifically, the pratfalls of the on-line scene. (Full disclosure: on-line meetings CAN work, that's how Shirley & I met. We were the only 40-plus people on the now-defunct site who could spell) Sofi's own experiences reads like a series of love train wrecks, and when she gets GUEST columnists on the blower, the horror escalates. You can't help but look, Ethel! And she's not afraid to take the piss out of TV-hyped dating sites & boorish people The former link should be made mandatory reading...Four stars. Roll over Ann Landers, tell Josey Vogels the news!

Finally an appeal: Help the MU in your neighbourhood. In the U.S., that would be WFMU-FM. American readers can go here to help...

In the parallel universe known as Canada, that would be CFMU-FM. Both of these stations provide the kind of programming you just can't get from commercial radio. And that includes Satellite stations. Don't be a dink, click on the link on the banner that sits atop the blog.

Well, gotta run. there's vacuuming to do and a humungous pile of CDs to take in...

*1 Note to young readers: a typewriter is what old geezers like us used to communicate with before the computer era.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #23: Jandek - "Toronto Sunday"

This is a special recording for me, as there are a lot of personal friends involved with the creation of it.
Let's start with Toronto promoter Gary Topp. He did the considerable amount of legwork involved, including recruiting the band, choosing an unsuitably named suitable venue, and selling the show. The band, for foreign readers, consists of Nilan Perera (electric and acoustic guitars),Rob Clutton (double bass),& Nick Fraser (percussion). These gentlemen are Canada's top-drawer improv players, with credentials up the wazoo. They rocked, rock, & will presumably continue to rock open crania everywhere.

The venue was an old Vaudeville/circus rehearsal space called The Centre Of Gravity, a venue as far removed from the trendy Queen/Bloor/College strip of Toranna night clubs as Corwood Industries is removed from oh say, Vice Records. Which meant no tourists/club trash/dog humpers & that's a good thing.

The show consisted of two one-hour sets, linked thematically. Smarter minds than myself have already broken down the verbal content in print, and that's 3/4's of what Jandek, as personified by the Corwood Representative a/k/a "Rep" , is all about. As a side note: I think the Corwood guy should start crediting himself as "Rep" . The handle has a nice hep feel to it & it's catchy. He could start showing up at Jazz sessions! I digress...

For this concert, "Rep" wielded a Korg synthesizer, albeit one which apparently didn't have the exact sonic pre-sets he was looking for. At the time, it seemed awkward, but listening to it now, especially on headphones, it all makes sense. Some dweebs in the audience complained about the Rep not playing his trademark, lonesome acoustic guitar. Those people missed the point: there is no fixed point of reference in the Corwood catalogue, save for the ones you read into it. I refer to Heraclitus "Doctrine of Flux" here

I - and my travelling companions - enjoyed ourselves sooo much we broke the reverent chin-stroking ambience of the gig with several, well-placed hoots n'whoops . That's us you hear on the disc. Which means we are a part of Jandek, now, and of course the disc gets five stars, *****. "You Betcha!"

The show was recorded on Sept.17th , 2008 @ 7 p.m. ("because that's the best time"). A mere 19 hours earlier & a 45-minute drive away, Simply Saucer reunited on the stage of the Corktown Tavern in Hamilton, their first appearance in more than 29 years. It was the late-70's Sparky Parks line-up, with ex-Moon Cricket, Forgotten Rebel drummist Joe Csontos on the skins. One thing led to another, and a working group evolved to record a new CD, Half Human, Half Live, some 18 months later. And yes, you could invoke "Herc" Heraclitus here , too, but I would argue Saucer never really went anywhere near the water. Live shows were critiqued at the time as sounding too "bar band-ish", i.e rote. I would argue that having to re-learn, (and for 3/5ths of the line-up learn the first time) material not played in close to 30 years would make anyone sound tentative. We'll find out soon enough: Feb. 20th, 2011 @ The Garrison, Toronto. For Hamilton, ON. readers mark down February 26th @ This Ain't Hollywood.

Meanwhile, hear what happens when Saucer sheds the stinkin' weight of its collective catalogue and just wings it...

The Toronto show, too, will be a Sunday show. They're the best...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #22: Brews In Review...Part Deux

...get the pun?

Grande Prairie, Alberta is a mere 90 minutes from the border of that weird, yet wonderful province known as British Columbia. And if you're looking to quaff non-generic beer, B.C. is crawling with micro/craft breweries. All that glacial melt has to go somewhere...

The Columbia Brewery
in Creston can trace its history back over a century to The Fort Steele Brewery. It is an arm of Labatts, and said breweries main product, Kokanee, now resembles a Labatts product. Their Gold brand is sort of an ice lite lager. They are both acceptable, but only just.

What has been catching my fancy are places like The Tree Brewery > Their motto "Drink Real Ale Cause Bud Is Just For Smoking"! could have only referred to BC, and in light of recent Facebook postings, is needed "now. more than ever".

I picked out Hop Head to review. It's an Indian Pale Ale (that's IPA to you), and - as the name implies heavy on the hops. Hops give beer a slightly bitter edge, which may put off some maiistream swill swuggers..but not me!
See, when I was a kid, I had to take an asthma medication called Tedral, a truly bitter pill to swallow. Mom tasted one once to see why I was constantly grimacing during the administration of it. She promptly spat out the ill and dared Dad to taste it. He promptly bit into it, which impressed me at the time. In retrospect, it probably resembled the taste of concentrated hops, which explains why it was no big deal for him...
(On a related note: some hops are recommended by naturopaths for the treatment of asthma).
I quite liked the brew. It cuts through the thirst haze with a swathe and sits well with food, unlike some beers (fourth paragraph down...) /
Well, that's enough. The bread has become a large dough zeppelin in the breadmaker & I'm thirsty. Next issue: Jandek's Toronto Sunday recording reviewed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WWW of Spin Turlock #21: Those Oldies But Goodies!

Crickee, has it been THIRTY years???!!! I guess so...The item above comes courtesy of an all-Swiss Ms. trio called Liliput ( nee Kleenex). When I was a young Mole, this 45 -courtesy of Geoff Weiss @ Rough Trade, as I recall - was one of my favourite things. And I wasn't alone, either: Kurt Cobain of Nirvana thought the world of 'em, too. While I don't care for the slide show of their alledged "peers", there's still excellent lurch phonetic action on this. WOO WOO!