20TH CENTURY MASTERS: THE BEST OF READY RECORDS 1979-1985
I am having loads of fun with my latest ITunes purchase. This compilation is a lovingly compiled piece of musical history, at least in my musical universe. Ready Records (1979-1985) was a Canadian indie label that was home to a number of bands in the Toronto area. For the most part the artists were in the post-punk/new wave vein. Many of these songs are immediately nostalgia inducing for me.
As a result of strong government cultural protectionism in the form of Canadian content regulations for radio (known as "Can Con") and good indie radio in Toronto in the 80's, many of these songs were a familiar part of my background soundtrack growing up. I am having lots of fun listening with my headphones, reliving some obscure, though highly personal musical history. Here are the standouts from this compilation;
DEMICS - "NEW YORK CITY" - This is a Canuck punk rock classic from this short-lived cult band. The gravelly voiced singer is bored, pissed-off and wants to go somewhere exciting like NYC "because they tell me it is the place to be". A familiar refrain for any misplaced suburban misfit looking for some kicks. This was played a lot in alternative clubs.
BLUE PETER - "SAME OLD PLACE" - A punkier number from a band known more for their synth driven New Wave numbers. Interestingly, another song about boredom and suburban alienation; "Everywhere I turn, always see the same old place". A theme for the ages.
THE EXTRAS - "CIRCULAR IMPRESSION" - This novelty song with a slightly ska feel to it is essentially an ode to the condom, and the longings of a young man who clearly isn't getting any action; "circ-circ circular impression/leading to a state of depression/in my walla-walla wallet /I can't wait to install it". I think I remember hearing this one a lot on the Funny 5 on the Dr. Demento show when I was a kid, though I wasn't sure what it was about at the time!
SPOONS - "NOVA HEART" - I was enthralled by this sprawling New Wave epic as a pre-teen. I think this is the shorter single version, as I remember a lengthier mix with a really long intro that builds slowly with the haunting keyboard melody. This song evokes a sense of romanticism and longing that typifies this era for me. The Spoons achieved some top 40 success with some poppier songs a few years later, though to me this was always their artistic zenith.
BLUE PETER - "RADIO SILENCE" - Complete with chirpy synths and choppy guitars this track is the product of its era (now currently back in vogue). Another new wave classic.
SPOONS- "ARIAS & SYMPHONIES" - A song about trying to break away from stifling social conventions. Similar to Nova Heart, this has longer stretches of brooding keyboard melodies and base lines to capture the underlying mood of longing. A bit dated this one, but still a good listen taken in its context.
There are a couple of forgettable tracks as well, though this compilation was well worth the purchase to facilitate my late-night, nostalgia laden soundtrack and related blogging. I do think that some of these songs may even appeal to music aficionados who don't have the same historical connection to them.
So for those not acquainted with the origins of the musical underground in my great northern homeland... enjoy, eh!