Wednesday, February 22, 2006

If you're a Roy Orbison fan, but maybe even more if you're not, and you have a very warped sense of humour, you must check out:

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Orleans' Waking And Dreaming has been making the rounds in cyberspace as one of the worst or funniest album covers ever, but John Hall (he's the guy in the middle) may have the last laugh. He's running for the U.S. Congress in the 19th District of New York. I'm willing to bet that he's not opposed to gay marriage legislation and that his campaign slogan is "Still The One."

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Len Carlson, the voice of Rocket Robin Hood, died on Jan. 26 at age 68. He only had 994 years to go until the astounding year, 3000.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Hasselhoff does it all — while singing Hooked On A Feeling.

Thanks to Brad McDermott for the link.

Aside from waiting more than 20 minutes for a late bus in the frigid cold, yesterday was a pretty good day and night.
I spent a small part of the afternoon sending e-mails back and forth with George Karrys, who won a silver medal curling at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. He's now the publisher of The Curling News. We found out that we both share a passion for curling (though he's actually very skilled at it, and I'm just good at yelling and drinking and can do a decent job of sweeping) and punk rock and are now looking to get together to throw some rocks and have some beers. George gave me a tip on a curling-rock connection in Sweden, and I put my own spin on it here:
George just may have usurped Ed Werenich's place as my favourite curler.
I saw Brittlestar perform at Lee's Palace. I saw David Curtis and Laura for the first time in months. I got caught up with Stewart, Allan and Jay from Brittlestar during the really bad Citizen A set that followed theirs. Then, when I got home, there were a couple of issues of Word: Canada's Magazine for Readers + Writers waiting for me. My interview with Dave Bidini about his book, The Best Game You Can Name, is on page three. But what actually excited me, for some strange reason, was seeing my small writer's profile at the end of the article. It made me smile when I read this in print:
Steve McLean is a freelance writer, reporter and editor who can be reached at Steve chose Jean-Guy Lagace as his boyhood road-hockey role model when he read on the back of his 1973-74 Pittsburgh Penguins hockey card that "Jean-Guy is a master of the hip check."
My odd obsession with Jean-Guy is now officially in print. It's just too bad that, after years of trying to track him down, I finally did (actually, Warren Campbell did, and then passed the info on to me) and sent him a letter to tell him about how I always pretend to be him when I play road-hockey. I told him that I had a few of his hockey cards that I'd be honoured if he'd sign for me. I never heard back from him. My respect for the man may be dwindling. But for those of you who may have been wondering what my e-mail address meant, now you know.
If you don't want to fork out $5 for the magazine, you can go to and then open the November-December 2005 .pdf file to read the article.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

I was just listening to Ned Sublette's Cowboy Rumba, which was released by Palm Pictures in 1999 and which is still available through Rykodisc. Sublette is a Texan who I first became aware of through his recording of the traditional cowboy song, Rye Whiskey, 20 years ago. And while he's still lyrically influenced by American country traditions, he's also very involved in Latin music — particularly from Cuba. Cowboy Rumba takes Latin music played by musicians from Cuba, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and uses it to propel his hurtin' tales. It's a unique amalgamation and it's been too long since I've played it. If you can't imagine Ghost Riders In The Sky as a merengue, go to for a sample.
I discovered Sublette's version of Rye Whiskey on a 1985 compilation from the British label, Anagram Records. The album was called Leather Chaps And Lace Petticoats: Welcome To Alternative Country. In David Goodman's 1999 book, Modern Twang: An Alternative Country Music Guide and Directory, he cites this album as being the first place to use the phrase "alternative country."
Though the album is long out of print, it's a treasured part of my collection. Here's the track list:

Bluberry Hellbellies - Hootin' And A Howlin'
Peter Rowan with Flaco Jimenez & The San Antonio Tex Mex Band - Free Mexican Air Force
Bad Mad Missouri Buffalo and The Everglade Alligators - Kickin' Som'
Mighty Lights Of Paradise - Foundations Of Love
Boothill Foot Tappers - Get Your Feet Out Of My Shoes
Meat Puppets - Magic Toy Missing
Ned Sublette - Rye Whiskey
Screamin' Sirens - Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad
Helen and The Horns - Freight Train
Riverside Trio - I've Only Just Turned 21
Way Out West - Mystery Blonde
Dolly Parton - Two Little Orphans
The Orson Family - Pointed Bra
Raunch Hands - Stomp It

Speaking of British, I struck up a friendship with the pioneer of the genre in that country, Hank Wangford, when I lived in London during the summer of 1987. I'm not sure why he didn't make it on to the album.
In his other life, Hank is a respected doctor (Dr. Sam Hutt) specializing in sexual healthcare, contraception and gynaecology and become friends with Gram Parsons (who played Hank's guitar and helped introduce him to country music), Keith Richards, Pink Floyd, The Who and the Grateful Dead. He's also the man who turned Billy Bragg on to country music. Hank has recorded albums, toured extensively, written books and travel articles for the Guardian, shot BBC documentaries, hosted BBC Radio shows, starred in a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, appeared in TV commercials, continued to serve as the president of the Nude Mountaineering Society, trained doctors and nurses in Bosnia and Georgia and set up a women's health clinic in Transylvania, Romania.
Hank gave me a Hank Wangford Band EP, which I donated to my campus radio station, and his Rodeo Radio album, which I still have. Neither are in print any longer. Hank and I kept in touch briefly after I returned to Canada, but we haven't been in contact since 1987. While he's still active musically, I haven't heard any of his recent material and I'm positive that he's ever played in Toronto. If any of you are familiar with his recent work, which is probably only available in the U.K. or via the Internet, I'd love to get your feedback.

np Steelers 24 Broncos 3

Thursday, January 12, 2006

I love when the worlds of music and sports collide, so I was quite amused when I came across Will Johnson's top 10 Rickey Henderson haikus of 2005. Johnson is the main main for Centro-matic, which has a new album called Fort Recovery coming out on March 7 through Misra Records, and South San Gabriel, which released The Carlton Chronicles last year. Henderson is the all-time Major League Baseball leader in stolen bases and, according to some people, the greatest lead-off hitter ever. Thanks to Michael Mayer for passing these along:

Rickey Henderson
Thank you for ending career
It was beyond time

"Rickey is not here"
"Please call Rickey back later"
Is what Rickey said

No one to talk to?
Maybe talk to yourself now
In the third person

Please put third base down
I know you broke the record
But there's more game left

You are not Lou Brock
You have stolen more bases
But, not cool like Lou

Back in eighty-nine
Your first World Series title
Bash Brothers on 'roids?

You wore blades glasses
Long before they were deemed cool
Fashion pioneer

Do you know the way
To the baseball old folks' home?
Let me show you now

Finally retired
World Series of Poker now
To keep you busy

When you were drafted
Ford was U.S. president
I was fucking five!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I probably listened to The Fall as much as any band in the second half of the '80s. Even though Mark E. Smith continues to work at a prolific rate and has now released 26 Fall albums, I haven't kept up. Every time I'm in SoundScapes I consider picking up a Fall record, but there have been so many in the last 10 years that I don't know which one to get and I always put one back on the shelf. But I found the following article to be intriguing. More than 40 people have served under Smith, a stern taskmaster, in The Fall over the years. A writer for England's Guardian newspaper tried tracking them all down. Even if you're not a Fall fan, it's worth a read just to get an idea about the crazed genius that is Mark E. Smith.,11710,1678307,00.html

np Stereo Nation - I've Been Waiting

Sunday, January 08, 2006

If you pick up the new For A Decade Of Sin: 11 Years Of Bloodshot Records two-CD set, and you should because it's one of my favourite labels and there's a lot of good stuff to be found among its 42 tracks, check out the photos in the booklet. You'll find a shot of Steve Jordan in the crowd at a South By Southwest Music Festival show. I think I recognize Craig Laskey's forehead and hairline a few people in front of Jordan in the same picture, but I'm not 100-percent sure about that one.

np The Bottle Rockets - A Living Hell

Friday, January 06, 2006

Neko Case played a show in the intimate confines of The Rivoli on Wednesday night while in Toronto to promote her Fox Confessor Brings The Flood album, which comes out through Mint/Outside on March 7.
She kept apologizing that she had a cold and sounded nasally, but I thought that her voice sounded as exquisite as anytime that I've seen her — which must be getting close to 10 or 12 times by now. While concentrating primarily on new material, she also performed a few older favourites during her set, which lasted 85 minutes with the encore. But much of that time was spent engaged in witty banter with backing vocalist Rachel Flotard from Visqueen. They're both smart, sassy and sexy — just the way I like my women.
Neko came by to say "Hi" before and after the show, and she called me sexy during the second visit. I suppose I could pass away in my sleep sometime before dawn tomorrow content in the knowledge that I'd achieved that goal, as trivial as it probably is.
I interviewed Neko on Monday, so you'll have to keep checking for that in the coming weeks.
She'll be back in Toronto on Feb. 3 and 4 for The Sadies extravaganza at Lee's Palace. The guys, who were amazing on New Year's Eve, will be recording a live album and DVD with many of the artists they've accompanied over the years, including Jon Langford, Jon Spencer, Gary Louris, Kelly Hogan, The Good Brothers, members of Blue Rodeo, Neko and other guests that haven't been announced yet. I've got my fingers crossed that Andre Williams will be one of them. If it's at all possible for you to get to at least one of the shows, don't hesitate. I have a feeling that tickets will probably sell quickly, and this is something that you won't want to miss.
Sorry for that photo of Neko. She looks much better in person.
Those of you who know The Stranglers' 1977 song, Bring On The Nubiles, probably realize that its language isn't for the easily offended. But you probably don't realize just how rude it is until you listen to Cocktail Nubiles, a sort of slowed down lounge jazz version of the song where the lyrics are much more audible. I listened to it for the first time in quite a while today and it put a smile on my face. You can find the song as a bonus track on EMI's 2001 reissue of 1981's La Folie album.
Thanks to Heather Morgan and Greg Bennett for passing these links along. There are only 350-something shopping days until Christmas. Maybe someone you love would appreciate finding some of these in their stockings.

Jesus kitsch:

Faith chips:

Astronaut Jesus:

Jesus, the talking doll version:

Cross in Bottle:

God Bless our Truckers:

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My friend Tima went to see They Might Be Giants in Brooklyn for New Year's Eve. The band did a medley of venue songs that she quite enjoyed, so she sent me this link to some of them. I've been a TMBG fan for almost 20 years, so it's good to see that they're still doing fun and fresh things. Here's the link if you want to check to see if there's a song about your favourite club:

Sunday, January 01, 2006

A Liberty Ale. The Sadies. Ma and pa Good. Greg Keelor. Bazil Donovan. An abbreviated cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart (even if it wasn't very good). Friends from Toronto, Chicago, Buffalo and Rochester. It was a better New Year's Eve than I expected. Thanks to all of you.

np Neko Case - Fox Confessor Brings The Flood