So Old It’s New set list for Canada Day, Monday, July 1, 2024

An all-Canadian artists set for Canada Day. My track-by-track tales follow the bare-bones list.

1. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, T-Bone
2. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, I Think You Better Slow Down/Slow Down Boogie
3. The Guess Who, Coming Down Off The Money Bag/Song Of The Dog
4. Colin James, National Steel
5. Danko Jones, Bounce
6. Trooper, 3 Dressed Up As A 9
7. Gordon Lightfoot, That Same Old Obsession
8. Alannah Myles, Hurry Make Love
9. Tom Wilson, Sex etc . . .
10. Joni Mitchell, Sex Kills
11. Kim Mitchell, Love Ties
12. The Tragically Hip, Killing Time
13. Pat Travers, Killer
14. Rush, Something For Nothing (live, from All The World’s A Stage)
15. April Wine, Juvenile Delinquent (from Live At The El Mocambo)
16. Tom Cochrane, Willie Dixon Said
17. David Wilcox, On A Roll
18. Headstones, Cut
19. Bruce Cockburn, Burn
20. Big Sugar, Joe Louis/Judgment Day
21. Murray McLauchlan, Out Past The Timberline

My track-by-track tales:

1. Neil Young and Crazy Horse, T-Bone . . . Best lyrics ever 🙂 ; certainly easy to remember, on this bruising tune from 1981’s Re·ac·tor record. I was in northern Alberta, starting my journalism career where more of the jobs were at the time after graduating from college in Ontario, when the album came out and I remember a friend of mine raving about the song in part because of the sheer ballsiness of putting out a nine-plus minute tune whose lyrics are: Got mashed potatoes, ain’t got no T-Bone. Seven words, or eight if you count T-Bone as two words, repeated amid the guitar riffology. It actually works, and never ceases to make me smile.

2. Bachman-Turner Overdrive, I Think You Better Slow Down/Slow Down Boogie . . . Another nine-minute rocker, this one originally recorded during the sessions for BTO’s self-titled 1973 debut album, although it didn’t survive the final cut for that record. The song first saw official light of day on CD – and that’s when I first heard it though I followed BTO through the 1970s – with the release of the 2-disc Bachman-Turner Overdrive: The Anthology in 1993. That compilation was released as part of Polygram Records’ Chronicles series which has also, among other releases, compiled material by Free, Roy Buchanan and The Fillmore Concerts by The Allman Brothers Band, all of which I also own and are of high quality. The Allmans reissue is a 2-disc expanded release of songs, some in alternate form from different shows, from the Fillmore East concerts in New York City on March 12-13 in 1971 that initially resulted in the classic live album At Fillmore East, with some of the recordings later winding up on the live portions of the Allmans’ Eat A Peach album and the later deluxe expanded release of At Fillmore East.

So, there’s just a little history for you, for what it’s worth, as I started digging into it and finding it fascinating in terms of the tentacles of massive corporations. Polygram has long since been absorbed by Universal Music Group, the world’s biggest music company and one of the ‘big three’ along with Sony Music Group and Warner Music Group. Universal – which has ties to and shares a logo with Universal Pictures the movie company – has musical roots going back to the American branch of the UK’s Decca Records, which became MCA Records and also released material on the London Records imprint in North America. Decca Records, of course, is infamous for turning down The Beatles, with Decca executives saying they felt ‘guitar groups are on the way out’ and “The Beatles have no future in show business.” Decca soon corrected its error, at least in some measure, by signing The Rolling Stones, reportedly at least in part on the recommendation of Beatle George Harrison, who had by then become a fan of the Stones.

3. The Guess Who, Coming Down Off The Money Bag/Song Of The Dog . . . I’ve always loved this toe-tapping bluesy, country-ish, rockabilly-ish ditty from the band’s Share The Land album. It was the first album after Randy Bachman left the group. Guitarists Kurt Winter and Greg Leskiw – who sings this tune he co-wrote with usual lead singer Burton Cummings – replaced Bachman and the band kept on rolling while Bachman formed Brave Belt, which morphed into BTO.

4. Colin James, National Steel . . . Fabulous acoustic blues title cut from James’s 1997 mostly covers album of classic blues tunes like Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ Stone, Taj Mahal’s Going Up To The Country and Bukka White’s Fixin’ To Die. Yet, National Steel, which James co-wrote with Canadian musicians/songwriters Daryl Burgess and Christopher Ward, proves his blues bonafides alongside the legendary best.

5. Danko Jones, Bounce . . . Appropriately titled tune from the Toronto rock trio, named after its leader Danko Jones, from their 2001 album I’m Alive And On Fire. Indeed.

6. Trooper, 3 Dressed Up As A 9 . . . Yeah, this is a for the very most part deep cuts show and I know it was a single, and a sort of hit, in addition to being the leadoff cut on Trooper’s 1979 studio album Flying Colors. But, as I always say, I do play occasional singles I, or listeners, may not have heard in a while. That applies to this tune, for me.

I don’t own any actual original studio albums by Trooper but I was rifling through CDs in prepping this show and came across a ‘Green Series’ (environmentally correct cardboard packaging) Trooper compilation released in 2008 that I picked up at a used CD shop somewhere along the way and 3 Dressed Up As A 9 is on it. It’s also on another Trooper comp I don’t own, a 2010 release called Hits From 10 Albums but, perhaps surprisingly, it ISN’T on that Trooper compilation I also own and seems ubiquitous in most Canadian homes, 1979’s now 6-time platinum compilation Hot Shots. 80,000 units is platinum in Canada; platinum is 1 million in the USA so it’s the usual approximate multiply by 10 for population difference. What’s interesting about Hot Shots is how The Boys In The Bright White Sports Car became a hit single off that compilation, in a slightly different re-recorded version of a song that wasn’t released as a single in its original form on the 1976 studio album Two For The Show. I really can’t discern the difference between the versions and don’t know for sure, can’t find definitive information, but presume it’s a different master for single release as compared to the studio album.

7. Gordon Lightfoot, That Same Old Obsession . . . So I had my set list all done on Saturday night for tonight’s Canada Day show and when I got up Sunday morning I realized, I have no Gordon Lightfoot in it. I also realized that as far as The Guess Who and Canada goes, I perhaps should have played their tune Maple Fudge but, frankly, the Guess Who tune I played, Coming Down Off The Money Bag, I much prefer and I’m just playing Canadian artists, for the most part there’s no deeper meaning to the set list.

Still, as for overlooking Lightfoot in a Canadian artists’ show? That’s sacrilege! Or, it means, there’s loads of quality Canadian artists to choose from, and there indeed are, successful in Canada and abroad to varying degrees but to not include Lightfoot in such a show would be, well, yes, sacrilegious. So, I updated the list and here we go. A beautiful lament of lost love, released as a single on Lightfoot’s 1972 album Old Dan’s Records. It did well on what I would describe as ‘refined’ charts; that is, refined or distilled down to things like the ‘bubbling under hot 100″ or ‘adult contemporary” charts, where the song was top 5 or better in a selective situation but on the main charts like Billboard in the US and even in Canada, this single sort of stiffed. It’s even described as not making much of an impact, as a single, in the liner notes to a Lightfoot collection of his singles and B-sides I own. That said, it’s Gordon Lightfoot. It’s great.

8. Alannah Myles, Hurry Make Love . . . From her self-titled first album that was overwhelmed by the success of the hit single Black Velvet; in fact Myles’ whole career could be said to have been overwhelmed by that song. She’s so much more, her first album overall is terrific as is her second, Rockinghorse in particular the title cut. This is from the debut album, short, sweet, sexy.

9. Tom Wilson, Sex etc . . . Anyone who’s ever followed my show over the years knows the high regard in which I hold Tom Wilson. Amazing artist, whether it be with his early band The Florida Razors which I admit I must delve more deeply into but what I know I like, but certainly since then Junkhouse, which introduced me to Wilson, then his solo stuff, his work with musical friends Colin Linden and Stephen Fearing in Blackie and The Rodeo Kings, and his cleverly-titled project Lee Harvey Osmond which also features members of Canadian acts Cowboy Junkies and Skydiggers. This hypnotic track – and being a Stones fan I obviously love the lyrical nod to the Stones’ live album Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out! – is from Wilson’s 2001 solo album Planet Love.

10. Joni Mitchell, Sex Kills . . . I have a few actual studio albums by Joni Mitchell, the classic Blue among them, but for the most part with certain artists, she being one of them, I tend to be a compilation guy. There’s only so much money to spend, if one is still actually spending on music and I’m still into physical copies, generational I suppose but so be it. But, that said, she did a brilliant thing, I thought, in 1996 when she released two compilations on the same day, October 29. One was called Hits and had everything one would expect from an artists’ hits compilation; in Joni’s case such songs as Big Yellow Taxi, Free Man In Paris, Help Me, etc. But the other compilation, Misses, deep cuts, chosen by Mitchell herself, represented her more obscure to most listeners stuff and forays beyond commerciality. It was, and remains, deeply rewarding and thus served as incentive to at least investigate some of her studio albums from which Misses tracks were drawn, that may not have received their just due. They should. This track is one of them, from her 1994 release Turbulent Indigo which actually won a Grammy Award as best pop album.

11. Kim Mitchell, Love Ties . . . I don’t play Max Webster or Kim Mitchell much because, I’ll admit, I’ve never really gone beyond the hits so, doing a deep cuts show, I naturally am limiting myself with regard to Max and Kim. However, I do have a couple Kim Mitchell studio albums, which I bought years ago because I hate it when compilations are released with remixed songs and such happened with a Kim Mitchell compilation I bought ages ago. I can’t remember what song it was that was shortened or remixed to a sound I didn’t like, thus making the song something I didn’t know or ‘hear’ as I remembered it, but in any event it prompted me to buy the actual 1984 release Akimbo Alogo. That’s the one with two of Mitchell’s biggest hits, Go For Soda and Lager and Ale but it also features this funky, electronica-type tune. Really good, to my ears, different from what one might ‘expect’ of Max Webster/Kim Mitchell, at least based on commercial rock radio play, but that’s the beauty of studio albums that obviously go beyond the hits to show the depth of the artists’ talent and experimentation.

12. The Tragically Hip, Killing Time . . . I love the darkness of this song, the vocals, all of it. From the first Hip EP, 1987, self-titled, a shade under 30 minutes, before most people knew who the Hip was in advance of what became their breakthrough full album release, 1989’s Up To Here featuring Blow At High Dough, New Orleans Is Sinking and so on. I didn’t know who they were. I got into them via Up To Here when I read in a now long defunct Canadian rock magazine that they were Stones-ish so I decided to check them out. I liked what I heard so then I went back to the EP, and forward with them as subsequent albums were released.

13. Pat Travers, Killer . . . From an album that bombed, pretty much, the Hot Shot release of 1984 (interestingly a similar title to the Trooper compilation I touched on earlier) by which time Travers had long since faded from the heights of the 1970s with such albums as Crash and Burn and its title cut along with Snortin’ Whiskey and the rest of that period. But this one, albeit a tad overproduced with maybe too much of that annoying to my ears almost hair metal 80s sound, nevertheless kicks butt. I saw Travers at the Kitchener Bluesfest some years back, great show.

14. Rush, Something For Nothing (live, from All The World’s A Stage) . . . Interesting maybe only to me but I’ve always thought of this as a pretty well-known song and likely a single, although it actually wasn’t a single while appearing on Rush’s 2112 album released in 1976. It did gets lots of radio play on the great FM stations of the day that played hits, full albums, album sides, whatever struck their fancy in the days before marketing mavens decided playing Stairway To Heaven five times an hour was the way to go – an annoyance that prompted me to do my show. Anyway, this is a version from Rush’s first live album, recorded at Toronto’s Massey Hall.

15. April Wine, Juvenile Delinquent (from Live At The El Mocambo) . . . A song that, to my knowledge and research, April Wine never did a studio version of but played at the El Mocambo when they opened for The Rolling Stones’ famous 1977 club shows there and which resulted in tracks for both April Wine’s live album and Love You Live by the Stones. One of my favorites from that April Wine live disc, it was writtten by American/Canadian artist/songwriter Bob Segarini who established a life in Canada, the Toronto area, after moving from California. I slow danced to it with a college girlfriend as Segarini played it at one of the regular concert pub nights the school held.

16. Tom Cochrane, Willie Dixon Said . . . Bluesy cut, as it should be if you’re using Willie Dixon’s name in a song title, from Cochrane’s 1999 album xray sierra. Yes, the album title is in lower case letters.

17. David Wilcox, On A Roll . . . How does one describe that incessant riff and the sort of descending riff that envelops it? Just listen, I suppose; words can’t do it justice.

18. Headstones, Cut . . . These guys are, generally, so dark, devious and delicious, right from the first album, titled Picture of Health with a cover of someone doing something unhealthy, lighting a cigarette. Not advocating smoking, I don’t smoke, but I like the cheeky cover, and the raunchy rock Headstones provide.

19. Bruce Cockburn, Burn . . . Early Cockburn, a minor hit from his 1975 album Joy Will Find A Way.

20. Big Sugar, Joe Louis/Judgment Day . . . Compelling reggae rock, this near 9-minute cut from Big Sugar’s 1996 album Hemi-Vision which featured the Canadian hit singles Diggin’ A Hole and If I Had My Way.

21. Murray McLauchlan, Out Past The Timberline . . . From McLauchlan’s 1983 album Timberline which I recently discovered has been released on CD after being out of print for years. I first cottoned to the song via a superb 2-CD MM collection Songs From The Street, released in 2007. I’d never heard the song before that although I knew MM’s hits. And it’s now definitely among my favorites of his many great tunes. Not to maybe overrate it, but it could be our national anthem if only because of the lyrics throughout but especially this passage that always hits me, near the end: “Oh Canada, ain’t no Cabinet man in the Rideau Club at election time . . . Canada is somewhere out there (which he’s described, so-called ordinary hard working salt of the earth people, throughout the song) … out past the timberline.” Beautiful, musically and lyrically.

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