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Tunes

Best tunes of 1993: #19 The Mighty Mighty Bosstones “Someday I suppose”

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I’ve already written on these pages about how I got a job at my small town’s 7-Eleven in the spring of 1993 and how working there was part of the reason why that summer was one of the best of my life. I worked as many shifts as I could that summer and many of them would be of the overnight kind and I often found myself work with either Tori, Heather, or Michelle, the other new employees at store. I always had a blast on these shifts because these three young women were close to me in age and like me, they loved to have a laugh.

It was on one of these midnight shifts that I first heard this song on CFNY, the radio station to which we always had it tuned. It was this swirling, rocking number that mixed horns with racing guitars and a bopping, staccato rhythm and the vocalist rapped and spoke and shouted in a deep and dark voice. It always got my head bouncing and my feet tapping as I counted the bags of chips and packs of gum during our evening inventory counts. The problem was that I always seemed to be away from the radio, serving a customer or in the back, stocking the milk shelves, when the radio announcer came on to supply us with the name of the song and who it was that sung it. It got to the point where it became an ongoing joke: we would dance frantically around the empty store when the song came on and then laugh hysterically when we realized that we once again missed the 5 Ws. It was like the musical version of the Polkaroo*.

Finally, during one night shift right at the end of summer, I came out from the back after changing the syrup for one of the slurpee machines and Michelle excitedly put a slip of paper in my hands with the biggest smile on her face. She had scrawled on the paper in big looping script the words “Someday I suppose. The Mighty Mighty Bosstones.” I knew exactly what the words meant immediately and if I wasn’t so shy and awkward at the time, I would’ve given her a big hug.

Starting pretty much the very next day, the search was on. I went to our town’s only music store and didn’t find anything by the band. A few days later, I joined my parents on a shopping trip to the Oshawa Centre and hit the chain music stores (HMV, Sunrise, and Sam the Record Man) and likewise came up empty. Finally, I planned a solo trip back in to Oshawa to hit some of the independent stores downtown, specifically, the renowned Star Records**, and there found a copy of the Bosstones’ third album, “Don’t know how to party”, on CD. This album, along with Spirit of the West’s “Faithlift”, might have been the two CDs I listened to the most that fall, both for very different moods and reasons.

“Don’t know how to party” is really a misnomer because it really does party and it parties hard, especially track four of twelve. The song that introduced me to the band on all those midnight shifts is still my favourite by the Boston-based octet. “Someday I suppose” riffs hard on the ska punk theme, a pogo with a chainsaw, a plaid suit jacket with the arms ripped off and the tie tied around the head, Rambo-style. It’s an explosion of good vibes, of not giving a shit, of living in the moment and putting off the heavy lifting and the heavy thoughts for later.

“There was a verse
That I was gonna write
I haven’t yet
But there’s still a chance I might
An open book
That I still wanna close
I’ll find the time
Someday I suppose”

The horns, the bassline, Dicky Barrett roaring, and the image of Ben Carr hopping around like a man possessed. It all just makes me smile.

*Those who know, know.

**I’ve already written words about this trip and this particular store when I posted about Primus’s “My name is mud” for this very same list and series.

For the rest of the Best tunes of 1993 list, click here.

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Tunes

100 best covers: #75 Madness “Lola”

<< #76    |    #74 >>

Madness were at the forefront of the so-called second wave ska/2-tone movement during the late 70s and early 80s. They quite possibly had the most hits of the lot and made the best go of it through the 80s, surviving until 1986 when they finally called it quits. The original lineup re-formed six years later but mainly as a live outfit, not recording any new material until 1999.

Then, in the early part of the 2000s, after more than two decades in existence, the group decided to refresh things a bit by doing shows that didn’t include any of their hits. Instead, they performed under the name The Dangermen, doing sets of only covers, songs that had inspired them, some of which they would do in their earliest days before any of their hits. In 2005, they put their favourite of these covers to tape, calling the ensuing album “The Dangermen sessions, volume 1”. The album was actually very good and has become one of my favourite by Madness. It captures the same energy and humour that exuded from a lot of their early work and produced many tracks that could have easily appeared on this very list.

The cover of The Kinks’ classic “Lola” is one of the examples on the album of songs that you almost can’t believe weren’t originally conceived as ska songs. It just works so seamlessly. Of course, the original does have that boppy and almost rocksteady rhythm, starting off so innocent like a young man, vocals wide-eyed, his first time in the city, but quickly becoming wild and swanky, a real party tune. Ray Davies’ humorous tale of a young man going home with a transvestite, albeit shocking and fodder for radio bans in some circles in the early 70s, fits almost right in with the subject matter of early songs by the jokesters of Madness.

Where the original alternates between plucking guitars and heavy handed drumming, Madness throws its whole arsenal at it. Horns and keyboards and backbone rumbling bass. Suggs keeps his own vocals even, not pushing the envelope, save for the final verse, where he switches to spoken word for the big reveal, making plain the section of the song that might have been faded out by radio stations on the original.

All in all, it’s a cover I’d be hard-pressed to say is better than the original but one that is great nonetheless.

The cover:

The original:

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

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Live music galleries

Live music galleries: The Specials [2013]

(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.)

The Specials performing live at Ottawa Bluesfest 2013

Artist: The Specials
When: July 8th, 2013
Where: Claridge Home Stage, Ottawa Bluesfest, Ottawa
Context: Just last week, I posted a write up on my top five ever Second wave Ska tunes and of course, the number one song was the one I refer to below by The Specials. In that post, I made mention of seeing the band in person at Ottawa’s Bluesfest back in 2013 so I thought I’d share a few pics that I snapped from that show. The particular edition of The Specials on tour that year just happened to feature six of the original members, including the drummer John Bradbury, who passed away two years later. So I felt quite fortunate then, and even more so now, that I got a chance to see the band on that tour.
Point of reference song:
A message to you Rudy

Lynval Golding of The Specials
Horace Panter and Terry Hall of The Specials
Roddy Radiation of The Specials
The late John Bradbury of The Specials
Roddy Radiation, Jon Read, and Tim Smart of The Specials
Terry Hall of The Specials