Sunday, November 25, 2007

Homer Balentine and his musical Odyssey


Sitting here at my computer, listening to Bootsauce’s ‘Everyone’s a Winner’ and ‘Scratching the Hole’ I come to an absurd realization: this is some pretty funky shit! I know I shouldn’t be enjoying it as much as I am, but I can’t help it! I mean, come on! Titles such as ‘Sex Marine’, ‘Catastrophe Seas’ (say it fast and you’ll get the scatological reference) and ‘Catcher In The Raw’ are puerile at best, and the music isn’t much better, really. Sophomoric, white Canadian boy jock rock, rapped/ sung in a guttural ‘GRRRR’ that reminds me of a caveman. But is it purely the nostalgia that is making the experience so enjoyable, or is it something else? Is there something in the music that redeems the piece as a work of art? After all, I am sure there is someone, somewhere (probably in Saskatoon) who thinks ‘THE BROWN ALBUM’ is right up there in terms of artistic merit with Sgt. Pepper. Right?
Bottom line is, some of the songs (not all; I can’t bear to listen to ‘Play With Me’) still make me want to shake my boo-tay! In 15 years time I might think that some current favorites are just as wankish. Maybe the Beta Band, Aquaduct, , Wilco, the Flaming Lips and Neutral Milk Hotel will all sound so horribly dated that I won’t be able to even look at the covers. (Actually, I am POSITIVE that Aqueduct WILL sound dated, but I am enjoying the hell out of them right now.)
The question I have for you is, “is it possible to predict which of your current favorites are going to be the Bootsauce’s of the future? GOD knows how I loved the Farm. And The Soup Dragons. And China Crisis (who I still think were pretty underrated, actually--delete from this list!). Fad Gadget. Yello. The list is endless, and I suppose that each band had some redeeming quality that helped me grow and led me to where I am today, to what I am listening to today.
So it‘s kind of like an ongoing self-education, I guess. Here’s proof:
AGE 6: The Monkee’s ‘Last Train To Clarksville’. The snare drum sound and the opening notes change the way I hear music. Before, all I knew about music was what my parents had on their stereo, stuff like Patsy Cline, Woody Guthrie and, in my Dad’s case, Gilbert and Sullivan musicals and John Phillip Sousa marches. No Elvis, no Golden Age Of Rock and Roll stuff. Being older parents they missed out on all that. Thank god I had some pretty cool cousins…

AGE 8: Take a 3 hour drive to see my cousin’s and my Aunt and Uncle. Uncle Peter, the MOST square ex Marine D.I. you’ll ever meet, absolutely hates R&R. Thankfully, my teenage cousin Shane has a great record collection. I remember being fascinated by the cover for Elton John’s
Capt. Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, studying it for hours, and when I heard ‘Bitter Fingers’ I was transported into Elton’s world. This was not as benign as the Monkees, this was subversive stuff! Artistic and a little bit obscene. Much better…

AGE 12: Living in Milton, Ontario now. Went to Oakville to buy some comics while my Mom shopped, and stumbled upon a record store and bought my first three albums of my own with my very own money (from a summer job of picking zucchini) and I am proud to say I still own them (albeit in a different format). They are Double Fantasy (John Lennon), Back In Black (AC/DC) and News Of The World (QUEEN). Now, I have to admit (somewhat begrudgingly) that I was also somewhat enthralled by Styx, Trooper, Aldo Nova and a host of other somewhat cheesy bands, including RUSH and Supertramp (who are still guilty pleasures. Just listen to AIR to see the far reaching influence of Supertramp, and the influence RUSH had on bands like NOMEANSNO and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, my friends!)

AGE 13: On a swim team with one Paul Crowe, and he introduces me to the Sex Pistols and the Clash. Things would never be the same….

AGE 14-17: The flood gates open and I am introduced to an amazing array (a veritable cornucopia, if you will!) of artists such as the CURE, Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, Gang of Four, Psychedelic Furs, New Order, Joy Division, the Smiths, The THE, Talk Talk, Talking Heads, Prefab Sprout, Squeeze, Jazz Butcher, Love and Rockets, XTC, Simple Minds, etc etc. Post punk, new wave, whatever you wanted to call it, these were bands that sounded very different than what came before, although now I can hear the influences on post punk by the likes of the Stooges, MC5, Suicide, Television, The Modern Lovers and the Velvet Underground.

AGE 18-24: At college and my education continues. My new friend Dave introduces me to the funky side. Pump up the Volume by MARRS, the Art Of Noise (one of the most groundbreaking bands EVER!), Frankie Goes To Hollywood (masterfully produced by Trevor Horn, who pretty much ruled the late 80’s), The Pet Shop Boys, Pop Will Eat Itself, Stone Roses, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Primal Scream, the Beastie Boys, and , er, Jesus Jones. It was music that combined the experimentalism of the post bands with a dance beat. AND Parliament/ Funkadelic and the incomparable James Brown, which was the first time I really started to delve backwards to move forward…

AGE 25-30: More guitar based stuff for this five year stint, but still experimental. Pixies, Primus, Radiohead, Spiritualized, Ben Folds Five, Cracker, American Music Club, Suede, Pulp, Pavement, Super Furry Animals, the Waterboys, and a dalliance into Gansta rap, specifically Ice-T’s OG and anything by
Public Enemy.

AGE 30-35: A musical hiatus. My private and professional life took a front seat while my music education was relegated to the trunk. I got married, had a kid, moved from Southern California to Northern California, was promoted up the ranks at the newspaper I work at and, perhaps most importantly, I hadn’t the funds to support my music habit anymore. I didn’t even have a CD player in my car, so I was forced to listen to talk radio, which is ok if you’re in a decent size city, but I wasn’t.

AGE 35-PRESENT: A renaissance period for me. First, got a CD player in my car and second , found out how to burn CD’s. And third, ITUNES. Was re-introduced to the 60’s and 70’s (thanks to a wacked out Zen cartoonist named Philbert!), re-discovered my beloved 8o’s and 90’s and have discovered a host of new stuff that has re-kindled my love to find new, exciting music. Some recent treasures which have become just as loved as those from the past are, but are not limited to, The Flaming Lips, My Morning Jacket, Grandaddy, Mercury Rev, LCD Soundsystem, Gomez, A3, Yo La Tengo.
XTC, an old favorite from the early days, is on constant rotation on my Ipod. I’m back to being a music junkie and loving every minute of it!

So as you can see, even though I made many mistakes, listened to a lot of trash, it was MY trash, and it is a part of me. I don’t go around bragging that I owned a Farm album, or bought the single ‘Shaddup-a-Your-Face’ by Joe Dolce, but I am not embarrassed by it.

Oh, alright, maybe just a little bit…

1 comment:

Rob said...

‘Shaddup-a-Your-Face’....Great Song.

You forgot to mention crossing the River "STYX"....in your musical Odyssey!