I read a lot of books about music. Probably too many. But for every one I have read that is devoid of soul, badly written (Rudy Sarzo), short on interesting details (Gene Simmons), egotistical and self-serving (Sammy Hagar, Dee Snider, Corey Taylor), there are those that are incredibly well-written (Joe Jackson), funny as heck and full of life (Keith Richards), or highly personal idiosyncratic ramblings (Ian Hunter). When you look at books that take on entire genres or a whole whack of bands such as Jon Savage's England's Dreaming: Sex Pistols and Punk Rock, Clinton Heylin'sBabylon’s Burning: From Punk to Grunge or Simon Reynolds's Rip It Up and Start Again, you can find some incredibly well-researched tomes. On of my favourites is Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991by Michael Azerrad. It focuses on bands that never sold tons of records, never really crossed over into the mainstream, or at least didn't do so before widespread Internet access or before Nirvana made raw noisy rock cool. Azerrad's book has received major accolades, and it's quite possible legions of music fans have started digging into Dinosaur Jr., Mudhoney, or Minor Threat, for example, in part because of that weighty piece of writing.
That brings us to Have Not Been the Same: The Can-Rock Renaissance 1985-1995, by Michael Barclay, Ian A.D. Jack, and Jason Schneider. Although the focus of the book is not the exact same as Our Band Could Be Your Life, one of the reasons I love it is because here too readers get to learn about artists that never became wildly popular, rich and famous. Have Not Been the Same also informs about artists that did become household names such as Sarah McLachlan, Barenaked Ladies, The Tragically Hip and Blue Rodeo, and those are good stories. But I think people that love music or care about Canadian music history should know about Jr. Gone Wild, The Inbreds, Hardship Post, The Rheostatics, Change of Heart, Stompin' Tom, The Doughboys, Eric's Trip, Voivod, Spirit of the West, the Pursuit of Happiness, 13 Engines, Art Bergmann, Thrush Hermit, and so on and so forth. Yeah, they are all covered there, and a lot more - the book is almost 800 pages long! Did you know that John K. Samson has praised the Northern Pikes? That little gem, along with almost everything else in the book, makes me want to shake jaded Canadians who put our own music down. It's time to celebrate the Pikes, Sons of Freedom, The Waltons and others who didn't get their due, as well as recognizing those who are doing it today, like Dearly Beloved, Royal Canoe, Brian Dunn, Ox, Imaginary Cities, Two Hours Traffic, and Metric, to name a few.
Last year was the 10-year anniversary of its first printing, so it was reissued with some new stuff. Pick it up now before it's unavailable again. You can purchase from ECW Press here, and you can even score the e-pub with recommended playlists for each chapter. Try an excerpt here.
The reason you are being told about this now is that a companion compilation of rare and unreleased music from 20 bands and artists was recently announced. Pheremone Recordings will put it out as a digital download, double LP, and CD on November 13.
The Have Not Been the Same album tracklisting may not be final, I have seen two different ones, but it will look pretty much like this (***** Starred titles are ones that may or may not be on the album, hopefully these will be clarified soon):
1. Slow - "Have Not Been the Same"
2. Poisoned (Art Bergmann) - "Final Cliché"
3. NoMeansNo - "Dad"
4. The Nils - "In Betweens"
5. Doughboys - "Long Hall" (previously unreleased)
6. Rational Youth - "To The Goddess Electricity" (2011 mix)
7. Jane Siberry - "Symmetry (previously unreleased version)
8. Hunger Project (pre-Cowboy Junkies) - "The Same Inside"
9. The Pursuit of Happiness - "Wake Up and Smell Cathy" (previously unreleased)"
10. A Neon Rome - "Shatter the Illusions" (previously unreleased)*********
11. Change of Heart - "Smile"
12. Jr. Gone Wild - "God Is Not My Father"
13. Skydiggers - "When You're Down" (previously unreleased)
14. Crash Vegas - "Moving Too Fast" (previously unreleased version)
15. 13 Engines - "Beached"
16. Weeping Tile - "Pushover"
17. The Grapes Of Wrath - "Misunderstanding" (2000 acoustic version)
18. Sloan - "Lucky For Me" (previously unreleased version)
19. Jale - "Jesus Loves Me"
20. Bob Wiseman - "Gabriel Dumont Blues"
21. Three O'Clock Train - "A Fire I Can't Put Out" ******
22. Local Rabbits - "Play On"*******
Slow - Have Not Been the Same
Art Bergmann - Final Cliche NoMeansNo - Dad The Nils - In Betweens Rational Youth - To The Goddess Electricity Jane Siberry - Symmetry Change of Heart - Smile 13 Engines - Beached Weeping Tile - Pushover The Grapes Of Wrath - Misunderstanding Sloan - Lucky For Me Jale - Jesus Loves Me
Zunior Records put out a fantastic collection of covers years back featuring artists of today performing songs of those in the book. Buy or listen here.
Have Not Been the Same - Vol. 1: Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die
01. The Burning Hell - Pop Goes the World (Men Without Hats) (3:43)
02. Corb Lund - In Contempt of Me (Jr. Gone Wild) (2:25)
03. Great Lake Swimmers - What Was Going Through My Head (Grapes of Wrath) (3:14)
04. Owl Mountain Radar - Daylight (The Nils) (3:11)
05. Bry Webb - I Will Give You Everything (The Skydiggers) (3:48)
06. Forest City Lovers - The Lines You Amend (Sloan) (2:27)
07. Light Fires - Happens All the Time (Eric's Trip) (3:08)
08. Selina Martin with the Faceless Forces of Bigness - Grace, Too (The Tragically Hip) (3:40)
09. Mark Davis and Lorrie Matheson - Too Cool to Live, Too Smart to Die (Deja Voodoo) (4:21)
10. Jill and Matthew Barber - Your Sunshine (Hardship Post) (3:37)
11. Cuff the Duke - North Window (The Inbreds) (2:59)
12. Hidden Cameras - Throw Silver (Mecca Normal) (2:35)
13. Snailhouse - Buddah (Al Tuck) (4:03)
14. Veda Hille - Odette (Circle C) (3:20)
15. Andrew Vincent - Teenland (Northern Pikes) (4:28)
16. Geoff Berner - Bound for Vegas (Art Bergmann) (3:45)
17. Neil Haverty - Shaved Head (Rheostatics) (3:42)
18. Richard Reed Parry and Little Scream - When You Know Why You’re Happy (Mary Margaret O'Hara) (4:58)
19. Kevin Drew - We Got Time (Bob Wiseman) (4:46)
The Burning Hell - Pop goes the World
Great Lake Swimmers - What was Going Through My Head
A bonus for ya, Cuff the Duke doing the Rheostatics' Claire:
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Scruffy the Yak 34 Allenby Cres Winnipeg Mb R2C 3J4