Flipping through dollar bins is a time-honored tradition, especially at Toronto’s own Sonic Boom. Our friend Eric is sifting through the $1 records one-by-one, and learning lessons along the way. The rules are that he has to listen to the entire record, and not to do any research about artists before listening to avoid any contextual bias. This week is an extra special Compilation Edition!
Various Artists - 25 Pub Hits (Timeless)
COVER: “25 Pub Hits” in bold curvy letters, two pictures of steins and the track listing. Clean, symmetrical and effective. I love the minimal colour use, the starkness of the background and the overall Zen vibe. This is a classic parent trick so the kids won’t put on the boring looking record that would magically turn their parents into real flawed and borderline alcoholic human beings.
THOUGHTS: If this were the soundtrack to a musical, it would be called “The Old Glug Glug” and it would be a massive hit. In a very loose narrative, the show would tell the tale of a group of drunks at an English Pub over the course of a long dirty night. Lively songs of pride, honor, nostalgia, lust and getting shitfaced would underscore the universal pathos of the lout, the group’s disillusionment, their need for escapism and the false solace they find in a community of like-minded louses.
WHAT I LEARNED: Coming from a strict Mennonite background, drinking music is as foreign as the inside of a Catholic Church. So this was fairly educational. That said, I’d sooner stick to singing Jimmy Eat World when I’m loaded because a lot of these Pub Hits are long and complicated and I believe in making my own traditions.
TRACK LIST: Never ending stream of tracks by an assortment of unknown... pub performers. Seriously, there are 25 songs and somehow they are all minimum three minutes long.
BEST TRACK: Various Artists – “A Pint of Black and Tan”
A rousing opening number about how much an assortment of British Commonwealth Citizens prefers “a pint of black and tan” over any other drink. The best verse is a biting anti-LCBO tirade from a haughty woman from Ontario.
AFTER GOOGLING: This record contains no information about the artists but I did discover that “A Pint of Black and Tan” refers to a mixture of pale ale and a dark stout or porter.
Various Artists - Folk Song Hootenanny (1964)
COVER: Sunset, overlooking a fishing village. Must be a perfect seaside hideaway for a folk song hootenanny. A folk song hootenanny must be boring.
THOUGHTS: I picked it up because of the joke potential of the title but I was pleasantly surprised and surprisingly moved. I can really get behind the themes of peace, brotherhood and not trusting railway men. Best of all, it’s all underscored by a joy and earnestness missing so much these days.
WHAT I LEARNED: Pete Seeger is much more enjoyable to listen to when you aren’t rooting his lyrics for socialist overtones. Also, I’m beginning to suspect the “House of the Rising Sun” is a brothel.
TRACK LIST: Five artists with one track on each side, which is nice. Nice and mellow.
BEST TRACK: The New Christy Minstrels – “Kisses Sweeter than Wine”
It’s one of those songs that leaves you with the feeling that you’ve died, which is a feeling that’s actually sort of comforting. I highly encourage a listen.
AFTER GOOGLING: “The New Christy Minstrels 8 LP” torrent has five seeders... Just saying.
Various Artists - Rockin’ On the Airwaves (1981)
COVER: A cool dude is wise and sure as he wails on guitar producing pure crackling energy. And what's this? The “i” in Airwaves is dotted with a maple leaf… Yes! Treated to the buyer is a who’s who of the crème de la crème of Canadian rock ‘n roll circa 1981. On the back the buyer is further catered to a clear track listing and thumbnails of the cover of the album each song came from.
THOUGHTS: Great collection showcasing Canada’s rich musical history of good time party rock music that never takes itself too seriously.
WHAT I LEARNED: The name of a lot of songs that floated around my childhood.
TRACK LIST: Non-stop rock with a few fanciful exceptions. The last track is “Too Bad” by Doug and the Slugs, which is a classy way to cap off a rocking time.
BEST TRACK: Loverboy – “Turn Me Loose”
Hard decision, but “Turn Me Loose” always makes me feel like I’m about to do something tough but safe. Like taking a shortcut on a gravel road. Also I just re-watched Wet Hot American Summer and the two are short circuited in my mind.
AFTER GOOGLING: The band called Toronto, which offer the track “Even the Score” in this compilation, also wrote the classic “Your Daddy Don’t Know.” Someone (else) should start a petition to make “Your Daddy Don’t Know” the official theme/intro song of Toronto.