Friday, September 17, 2010

Welcome to the Rodeo

Being it's Friday I should post up something fun and rare.  A little true western canadiana at it's finest in the form of Showdown. Possibly no other group captures the true spirit of Alberta like Showdown (not to be confused with the southern metal Christian rock band from the states).  Now if you're Canadian you already know that these guys are famous for their rendition of the Rodeo Song. If you've never heard this song then stop reading and start downloading. Now I can't say that I know all that much about Showdown other than coming from Medicine Hat or Le Duc, Alberta. The only thing I could find was this humorous bio. Found this album at a thrift store for a quarter. Sometimes people don't know what they have. Welcome to the Rodeo came out in 1980 and with "The Rodeo Song", the band gained instant notoriety. Though the album jacket praises the song for being a future classic, right below it is a warning for radio DJ's not to play it. Despite the warnings on the album jacket, stations across the province simply played a 'bleeped out' version, and let the listeners decide for themselves what might rhyme with truck. You'll have a hard time finding this out of print album laying around out there so happy weekend all and Welcome to the Rodeo.

The Rodeo Song
Dueling Banjos


Funny Toon

Friday, September 10, 2010

B-Sides and Rarities

Before Kenny Rogers sang about Lucille and the Gambler, he fronted a band called the First Edition. Kenny Rogers and the First Edition's debut release was the psychedelic song "Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)," which reached No. 5 in 1968. In the summer of 1969, they had their second Top Ten hit, "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town". This hit started the band in a folksy direction and that's all I'm gonna say about Kenny because this post is about Cake.

It's about Cake because they do a killer version of "Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town". When I first heard Cake back in 1996 I was blown away by the bands style. I loved how they blended hip-hop, country, new wave pop, jazz, and guitar rock into their songs. The speak-singing dead pan vocal style of frontman John McCrea made me a bigger fan. For some reason critics just love to hate this band and called them one hit wonders when The Distance came out. If you ask me Fashion Nugget is a brilliant piece of work. Many years later Cake is still around, much to the chagrin of the critics. But I digress.

I'm not sure when they actually recorded Ruby, as I had accidentally stumbled across a bad rip of it many years ago in some fan forum or someplace. Can't quite remember.  Imagine my delight when Cake released this B-Sides and Rarities album in 2007 to find a better quality version of the song, finally. In fact the album contains absolute genius versions of War Pigs and Mahna Mahna.  This collection of tunes may only be of interest to hardcore Cake fans such as myself but the three songs I have mentioned are worth the purchase price alone. Unfortunately the liner notes did not give us a clue to when the songs here were recorded. It has been said that a new studio album is currently in the works, due to be released in the autumn of 2010. Currently untitled, John McCrea describes the album's sound as "very different" from previous CAKE records, also indicating that he will be playing piano much more than usual. Obviously it is autumn and there is still now word about the new album. Until then enjoy these killer covers.

War Pigs
Mahna Mahna
Ruby, Don't Take Your Love to Town
Buy it


Funny Toon

Friday, September 03, 2010

Smokie

The Return of the homercat, yep he's back from vacasheeohne.  So Just a few words before I get on with today's feature. I hope My K-Tel post kept some of you entertained while I was in cowboy country. Now get this, apparently someone complained about one of my links and it was taken down. It was by a group that released only 1 album 30 years ago. It was only ever available on vinyl, it never made it to cd and is still woefully out of print. It was an album I put up here because of it's out of print status.  A forgotten classic by a forgotten band and someone complained to the "authorities" and the file host took it down. See I just don't get that. It's not available anywhere not even itunes. The only people making money off of this particular album are used vinyl dealers who are charging an exorbitant price for it.  So as far as I'm concerned that particular album and group can fade to obscurity to the point where no one will ever remember them or even have a chance to know them. It just irks me, if you don't want it posted  then make it available for people to buy.

Smokie is an English rock band from Bradford, Yorkshire who found success in Europe in the 1970s. They range from country to glam rock, sometimes reminiscent of Slade. Oh where to start with this band, the history is long and confusing. The band formed in 1964 and was originally called The Yen, after about 20 name changes and several personnel changes they finally were renamed Smokey and in late 1974 recordings sessions for their debut album commenced. In 1975 Smokey  released their second album and this LP sounded much softer than the debut, contained string arrangements on some songs, and heavily leaned toward acoustic guitar arrangements with close harmony vocals, which became their signature sound. The first single from the new album, "If You Think You Know How to Love Me", quickly became a big hit in many European countries, peaking at No. 3 in Britain, and won Smokey a wider audience. Just in time for Smokey Robinson to get his panties in a twist and threaten a lawsuit against the band for their name. Can anyone say another name change, albeit small, to Smokie. When their single "Living Next Door to Alice" was released in November 1976, it quickly became the group's biggest hit. Towards the end of the seventies they had almost run their course yet continued to slog along and record albums. However, Smokie made a surprise return to the UK singles chart in 1995, with one of the most unlikely hits of the year - a duet with controversial  comedian Roy Chubby Brown. After a re release of "Alice" had reached number 3, the band noticed that, whilst touring in Ireland, whenever they sang the main line "For 24 years/I've been living next door to Alice" the audience would shout "Who the fuck is Alice?". So after a re recording, Smokie now holds the record as the first group to get a record in the Top Ten with the word "fuck" in it. Unfortunately shortly after the new version of the song was recorded Smokie's tour bus careened off of the road during a hailstorm in Germany. Vocalist Alan Barton (who had replaced Chris Norman) was badly injured and died after five days in intensive care. The rest of the band agreed to donate their royalties from the song to Barton's first wife. I think these guys are hugely underappreciated and their stuff has been a little difficult  for me to find, other than these compilation albums. Todays cut come from this greatest hits album but it didn't contain the re recorded version of "Alice". It just so happened that I did have it so I threw it in there next to the original version.

Living Next Door to Alice
Who the Fuck is Alice?!
Buy It

Funny Toon