(Vinyl Love is a series of posts that quite simply lists, describes, and displays the pieces in my growing vinyl collection. You can bet that each record was given a spin during the drafting of each corresponding post.)
Artist: The Lowest of the Low
Album Title: Shakespeare my butt
Year released: 1991
Year reissued: 2010
Details: Gatefold, double LP
The skinny: Yesterday marked Canada’s 152nd birthday but I kept things low-key around here. In the past, I have acknowledged the day with special Canada-themed posts. And I had thought about posting about this, one of my favourite ever albums by a Canadian artist, yesterday, but I was a bit busy fiddling with my new charcoal BBQ, so instead you’re getting it today, on the morning of my country’s collective hangover. The Lowest of the Low’s folk-rock heavy debut album, “Shakespeare my butt”, for a short time held the sales record for an independent release in Canada (being beaten a few months later by Barenaked Ladies’ yellow tape). It is considered by many, including myself, to be their best, two of its songs appeared on my Best tunes of 1991 (at numbers eleven and five) list but there could’ve easily been more. It is a desert island album for me, which is why the moment I saw this vinyl reissue in one of my locals, I grabbed it up. And wouldn’t you know, it might just be the the album I have spun the most in my collection since its purchase.
(Oh and happy belated to all those out there still partying, I know some of you are.)
Standout track: “Henry needs a new pair of shoes”
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Crispian Mills is the son of Walt Disney child actress (and Miss Bliss from “Saved by the Bell”), Hayley Mills. He also happens to be the frontman of a psychedelic pop rock outfit called Kula Shaker that came to prominence in the late 1990s. Like pretty much any band from England that had a vaguely alternative pop/rock sound at the time, Kula Shaker was lumped in under the BritPop umbrella. Mills split up the group after only two albums in 1999 with a mind of going it solo but finally re-formed the group in 2005 after a handful of unsuccessful musical endeavours.
The Jeevas was the closest project during this time that Mills had put together to find a sense a stability. Formed as a trio, with two former members of the band Straw, the group actually released two full-length albums in 2002 and 2003, matching the output of Kula Shaker by that point. They are largely forgotten these days, rightly or wrongly, but I always thought they had a few high moments that were worth mentioning at the beginning of the 21st century.
I couldn’t tell you now how I first heard of the group and came upon their debut album, “1-2-3-4”. I was definitely active in looking for new music on the internet in those days, by both new and old favourite bands. Living in North America, I never did hear a lot about Kula Shaker’s dissolution and since I loved their first two records, I was probably searching for news of the group and its frontman on the regular. I definitely remember recognizing the sound in The Jeevas’ music upon first listen. It was kind of like Kula Shaker but without all the traditional Indian instruments, a mimicking of psych rock of the 60s and 70s and Mills’ furthuring his Lennon-like vocals.
There was something about “Once upon a time in America” that stuck for me amongst rest of the songs on “1-2-3-4”. It just popped with all the energy of a live performance out in the hot sun. I’ve never really paid much attention to what Crispian Mills is singing about here but sometimes, that doesn’t necessarily matter. The guitars cavorted between crisply bouncy and messy noise, the drums pound and crash, and Mills just lays it out there. If these three ever made it big, this could’ve been their stadium anthem.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.
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A couple of weeks ago, I posted about Primal Scream’s “Loaded” as my third favourite tune of 1991. That particular ditty turned me on to the Primals and then, after buying and listening to “Screamadelica”, I quickly grew obsessed.
I got to see them live in 1994, when they opened for Depeche Mode at Kingswood Music Theatre, a show I saw with my friend Tim, my eventual wife Victoria, and her cousin Rosa. By this time, Primal Scream were touring “Give up but don’t give out”, a blues-rock hippie jam that I didn’t love quite as much as its predecessor but that had some great, great tunes. After that album didn’t perform quite as well critically or commercially, the band regrouped and dropped “Vanishing point” on all of us in 1997. I survived that bomb but 2000’s “XTRMNTR” almost killed me. In its wake, a handful of years needed to be taken before I was ready to dip my toe back in, eventually doing so with “Riot city blues” in 2006.
So yeah, I completely missed their 2002 album “Evil heat” upon its release. I only got to it after I warmed to the next few albums, building a lasting love rather than the meteoric lust and infatuation I suffered with “Screamadelica”. And only then was I able to revisit their back catalogue without such a black demeanour. I still don’t think it’s their best work but after the maelstrom that was “XTRMNTR”, Bobbie Gillespie and his cohorts really needed a bridge album and in that, “Evil heat” was successful.
“Miss Lucifer” is one of the album’s hot spots, the first single released off it, and it’s a real dancefloor razer. Don’t go looking for any witty or deep lyrics here because you’ll find none. It’s your typical femme fatale/evil woman motif and warning. It’s the drone and angry beat that’s special here, hoofing it like Saturday night’s leftovers from Prodigy’s Friday rave and tumble. Gillespie whispers and hisses and spits venom before getting to the chorus and turning admonitions into invitations to “shake it baby”, over and over and over again.
It’s not “Loaded” but it’s a trip nonetheless.
For the rest of the Best tunes of 2002 list, click here.