Live music galleries

Live music galleries: Crash Test Dummies [2022]

(I got the idea for this series while sifting through the ‘piles’ of digital photos on my laptop. It occurred to me to share some of these great pics from some of my favourite concert sets from time to time. Until I get around to the next one, I invite you to peruse my ever-growing list of concerts page.)

Crash Test Dummies live at Bluesfest 2022

Artist: Crash Test Dummies
When: July 14th, 2022
Where: SiriusXM stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Lebreton Flats Park
Context: So I jumped back into live music with both feet over the last few weeks. It was my long-awaited return to Canada’s largest outdoor music festival, aka Ottawa Bluesfest. I had bought a full festival pass back in March 2020, just before everything went to hell, and when that year’s edition was cancelled, I just transferred my pass to the next. And then, the next – this year. I ended up attending five of the ten nights and saw plenty of great sets by acts as diverse as The New Pornographers, Lucy Dacus, Garbage, Run the Jewels, and Rage Against the Machine. But my favourite of all? A side stage headline set by Crash Test Dummies. It was partly nostalgia, I admit, but they really did put on an entertaining show. I had their debut album, “The ghosts that haunt me”, on cassette tape back in high school and I near wore it through with the amount of times I played it on my Walkman. And though it was good, I wasn’t as big a fan of their sophomore release, mostly because they were floating away from the folk-rock sound that I loved from the debut. So I never did see the group perform live. A wrong I definitely righted a week ago tonight. The set was heavy on that sophomore release, it was their biggest success, of course, but I was extremely happy to hear them pull out four tracks from that debut, including the cover song below and their big Canadian hit, “Superman’s song”. For many moments on that night, I was seventeen again and screaming along to lyrics I had never forgotten.
Point of reference song: Androgynous” (Replacements cover)

Three of the original dummies – Brad, Dan, Ellen
Mitch Dorge on the drums
Marc Arnould, touring keyboards
Ellen Reid and Dan Roberts
Stuart Cameron, touring guitarist
Ellen rocking the accordion
Brad Roberts at the microphone

Vinyl love: Crash Test Dummies “The ghosts that haunt me”

(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: Crash Test Dummies
Album Title: The ghosts that haunt me
Year released: 1991
Year reissued: 2019
Details: Black vinyl, reissue

The skinny: A couple of songs from this very album have already seen the light on these pages: the Winnipeg folk-rock band’s cover of The Replacements’ “Androgynous” and their first huge and at the time ubiquitous hit, “Superman’s song”. It was in that latter post that I went on about how I bought the cassette tape on the back of that song, how it spent a lot of time in my Walkman, and how I likely would’ve worn it out had it not been stolen first. I also mentioned how I would love to have it on vinyl and since that time, noticed that the Crash Test Dummies’ sophomore album, “God shuffled his feet”, was getting the reissue treatment. And yeah, it probably did better commercially but I was still partial to the debut so I held out. One day last month, I was scrolling through the Amazon Vinyl pre-orders list, as I sometimes do, and I found this sitting there for the taking. There was no hesitation. I received it a few days ago and it’s already hit my platter a few a go-rounds. Just like the old days.

Standout track: “The ghosts that haunt me”


100 best covers: #84 Crash Test Dummies “Androgynous”

<< #85    |    #83 >>

Back at the end of April, I railed on about my love for the “The ghosts that haunt me”, the debut album by Winnipeg’s Crash Test Dummies, as part of my Best tunes of 1991 series (“Superman’s song” at #24). That darned cassette definitely got a workout in both my Walkman and my stereo while at home. I played it so often that I pretty much knew all the words to all ten songs on the album, though I’m sure studying the lyrics in the foldout cassette cover didn’t hurt. It was here that I was first tipped off that “Androgynous”, track three on side two, was a cover, the lyrics attributed to a “P. Westerberg”.

It was years, though, before I made the connection between that name and the legendary American punk rock band from the 80s: The Replacements. And years still until I actually sat down to listen to the original. It was, in fact, just this past week that I brought it up on YouTube, figuring I should probably do so since I’d be writing about it. I almost felt like a cheat when I made up this covers list, including Crash Test Dummies’ version on it as one of my favourite ever, not knowing the song on which it was based. But back in the day, I loved singing along to this song so much.

“Here come Dick, he’s wearing a skirt
Here comes Jane, you know she’s sporting a chain
Same hair, revolution
Same build, evolution
Tomorrow who’s gonna fuss
And they love each other so

The version I know starts off slow and plodding, folky like the rest of the album, while Brad Robert’s bass-baritone melds with Ellen Reid’s angelic textures, until it picks up to a foot stomping climax. I checked out two versions of The Replacements performing it: what I think is the original and a live version performed in recent years. Their original has a juke joint rockabilly feel, plonking piano and sing along vocals but live, it has an even more raw edge, focused more with guitars.

Given that I haven’t as yet put aside time to explore more of The Replacements’ work, I don’t know how this song even fits within their back catalogue. I do like their version as well, so does this mean I need to check them out? Replacements fans, help me out.

The cover:

The original:

For the rest of the 100 best covers list, click here.