Saturday, July 24, 2010

Feeling Guilty

There's so much stuff going on lately, it's all running interference in my brain making my memories elusive and uncooperative. I have a ridiculous amount of posts started over the last couple of months, just waiting for details to be filled in. They're staring back at me making me feel guilty.'s Mick Karn's birthday today and a good reminder that if you haven't yet donated to his appeal, please consider doing so. Or, if you have donated, maybe send a little more his way if you can. You can also support him by buying his music, his book, Steve Jansen's photos, or taking part in various fund-raising initiatives.

Hopefully I'll have some more posts up shortly - working on the Waterboys, the Church, the Alarm and lots of others.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Regrets, I've Had A Few

How many things in life have you seriously regretted, wishing there was some magical way to go back and change events?

I don't have many (really what's the point?), but I have two related to music.

The first I've already mentioned. I lost my large scrapbook of tickets, passes, music mag clippings, photos etc. during a move. Why wasn't I more careful? I don't really know what happened, I just know that I don't have it anymore. I assume it got tossed out by accident (here's a tip, don't pack valuable stuff in black garbage bags). Probably by me - I certainly don't blame anyone else. The photos are what I miss the most.

The second is entirely my fault. I threw out my records. Yes, that wasn't a typo. I threw them out in a moment of insanity. I had 100s of records. Some ultra rare, collectable, autographed, the majority imported, you name it.

I had been lugging them from move to move over a span of 10 years - the whole time I had no turntable to play them on. They gathered dust lined up against a wall, sometimes used as a shelf, eventually forgotten about.

I had just finished the first year of my extremely unsatisfying graduate degree, had a full-time, stressful hospital admin job to pay for it, exams, essays, stressing about what the hell I was supposed to do about my future when I hated my degree so much. Then came the panic attacks. Seriously debilitating, I had to be off work, I had to hand essays in late, I eventually had to go on medication. And on top of all that I had to move when I didn't want to.

I looked at the stacks and stacks of records that I hadn't been able to play for a decade with some indifference...I was going through a "don't give a shit about music" phase in the mid 90s - bored stiff with most of what was out there and, for a good three years, too exhausted from working and going to university to even care. The memories of all those great concerts and bands never surfaced in time to stop me from doing the deed.

So on July 1, 1997 I made several trips down to the garbage room and put the records near the bin in case anyone came across them and wanted them before they were tossed in the dumpster by the maintenance guy. My roommate's boyfriend at the time thought I was nuts (well, yes I was) and took my Led Zeppelin albums. The stress of the move meant I didn't give it a second thought.

I remember the moment when, after I finally got myself and my stuff settled and out of boxes, I was standing in the middle of the room feeling such overwhelmingly deep and utter regret for throwing those albums out that I just started to cry. What had I done? Why?

I thought of all those 45s, 12" and albums and how the majority meant so much to me - I worked such shitty jobs to feed my music habit (records and concerts). Most of the bands I loved were from the UK, which invariably meant imported records. I made weekly trips to the Record Peddlar on Queen Street East, thumbing through the stacks and trying to control my excitement when I found what I was looking for. Or browsing just to see what was new. I often found out about a band just by taking a chance and buying a record soley based on the cover or by chatting with the staff. I was rarely disappointed.

I loved the smell and feel of a brand new record. I wouldn't wait til I got home, I'd peel off the wrapping and read the liner notes on the long bus ride home. When I got home I'd put the headphones on, shut my eyes and just take it all in. I was fairly antisocial, listening to albums on the headphones was a way for me to escape and shut others out to some degree. I could daydream and lose myself in the music. I'm still like that. Listening to my most favourite music has always been a very personal act for me.

I spent a lot of money on imports and rarities (I get ill thinking how much some of them would be worth today). I also had a few autographed albums. I didn't even think of those when I threw the records out. What a low point standing in the middle of that room.

Every July 1 the date reminds me of that stupid act that only took a few minutes but the effects have lasted so long. I know the records are just objects but I suppose they symbolize such great times in my life, ones that were relatively carefree and happy. What I wouldn't give to be able to pull out one now and then and just look at it, relive some good memories and - because, of course, now you can get a turntable easily - play them again.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Massive Attack - Saturday Come Slow

I came across a short film by Massive Attack and wanted to share. On July 4th of all days. Ironic.

Massive Attack promo film raising awareness of Reprieve's zero dB - against music torture campaign. To support the cause visit or

Directed by Adam And Olly and filmed in Cambridge University's anechoic chamber.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Got the Chills Listening to the Chills

I hate tapes. The quality is terrible and my ancient tape player speeds up and slows down on a whim so I don't listen to them very much at all. But I have a lot of tapes that I can't find on CD or MP3. Some obscure stuff, some mixes that people have made for me, some interviews we did with bands, some recordings I made of concerts (bootlegger? - who me?) and when it comes down to it, I'm not too keen on paying two or three times for the same album. I forget about the tapes because they're all boxed up and stored away.

Today I had to find something and as I was fumbling in the dark, down came the box of tapes all over the floor. Cursing, I started picking them up then noticed a few gems that made my heart beat quicker just because I loved them so much. Funny how sometimes you can listen to an album or a band so much and then almost forget about them years later. One of the tapes was Submarine Bells by The Chills from New Zealand.

I stuck the tape in the player then realized this was one of those albums I was just going to have to buy again, so I did. I love the album in general, but a couple of tracks stand out for me:  Don't Be Memory, and my favourite track, the gorgeous Effloresce and Deliquesce. I couldn't find it anywhere so I stuck it up on Youtube:

I have my long lost friend Jill to thank for turning me on to the Chills. She sent me a tape of Kaleidescope World back in the mid 80s. I found a couple of the tracks on Youtube, including the title track:

and one of my favourite songs from them, Pink Frost:

I only managed to see them live once, at Lee's Palace in Toronto in April 1990, and they were excellent. I'm going to listen to the whole of Submarine Bells now while I catch up on what the band's been doing for the last 20 years. I should dig through my tapes more often.