JAIMIE VERNON – NINE LIVES

Merch table_Hamilton_Dave Rave_2002

I find myself at the front end of yet another re-invention of myself. When last I spoke of my day job I was driving automobiles for a subcontractor to one of Canada’s only two railroads. It wasn’t CN. The job nearly killed me. It was so labour intensive and the hours were so long that I actually don’t remember getting to or from work some days.

Zombie driver

It was ‘Night of the Living Car Drivers’. Fortunately, I destroyed two rather pricey vehicles which, for some reason, management frowned upon and I was shown the door. It was a merciful end to a rather unpleasant way of making a living.

 

Paul Blart

I hit the ground running. In less than 5 weeks I found another job. I’d been training to be a security guard shortly before I was derailed (pun intended) by the car manufacturers. I decided to pursue that again. I was hired at the first place within three hours of walking through the door. The catch? I had to do graveyard shift. Literally.

Cemetery sex
I am now patrolling and securing four of Toronto’s biggest, busiest and oldest cemeteries. The hours still blow but the benefits are that I get to sit in a car (rather than stand on my feet for 12 hours), get two scheduled days off like a normal human being and I work, for the most part, on my own. The dead don’t lie, so I only have to worry about the rogues gallery of living people wandering about aimlessly in the confines of the properties either jogging, walking their shit voiding dogs, having sex or substance abusing. My level of stress has been greatly reduced. I’m a new man. Again.

Healey_HMS_JandS2 I’ve lost count of how many lives I’ve had now. I find myself re-inventing who and what I am every two or three years – either by circumstance, desperation or boredom. The distinction in the quality of life, and wisdom, comes from variety. I find nothing wrong with having a steady job for 40 years. That kind of financial and life security is the dream we all once hoped to achieve. But the world is no longer static. It’s growing and evolving from so many outside forces that if you cannot adapt – you may die. For real.

Humans are allergic to change by nature. I am not. I still have wanderlust. And for those other curious and adventurous souls like me, the world becomes a giant canvas that can be painted and re-painted a thousand times.

TBowiehe world of music has been in love with and resistant to change. Where you are in your career arc on the pivoting pendulum will determine whether you’re fashionably in vogue (David Bowie) – or ridiculously out of touch. The 1980s was a particularly bad period for 1960s/70s artists. Paul McCartney, Billy Joel, Eric Clapton and Elton John found themselves not so much adapting to the change as being led by tastemakers who did nothing but ignite a neon sign that said “no longer in service” over their careers. Don’t believe me? Look what happened to Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees in 1984:

Fortunately, the 1990s came along and they were in good company – because Rock ‘n’ Roll itself was becoming an endangered species. The grandaddies of pop and rock were no longer Melvinsconspicuous by their missteps – everyone was. The worst hit was corporate rock acts like Motley Crue and KISS. If you weren’t sporting flannel and mumbling into a microphone about black hole suns or the smell of teenagers, you were ignored. That left a huge niche of nostalgia buffs wondering where their music had gone. The industry responded with their version of New Coke which they soon christened CLASSIC ROCK. And it was good. For awhile.

It took 15 years, but the wheels fell off the bus this year when every radio station dumped the Classic Rock handle and re-labeled themselves with catchy names like Boomer Music or The Best of Rock. It’s the same shit. Different name brand.

Hip To Be SqureIn amongst the ruins are those artists who have nine lives and a change in radio direction doesn’t necessarily affect their careers. They’ve re-invented what they do but still remain true to themselves at the core. After all, it’s why fans took to liking them in the first place. As Huey Lewis always said: it’s hip to be square. McCartney’s back in vogue again. As is Tom Petty. Queen. Roger Hodgson of Supertramp. And Jeff Lynne just destroyed Hyde Park recently with a full blown non-ELO orchestra and band behind him.

 

Peter Fold_Nine LivesPeter Foldy is just such a chameleon. He grew up with and briefly performed with the Brothers Gibb. After decades of switching hats between music, movies and stage, he returns forty years after his self-titled debut album with the aptly titled sophomore effort Nine Lives‘ (which must be some kind of record in and of itself). Unlike the music machine and the fads that distract people from what initially inspired them to make music, Peter picks up exactly where he left off with songs that are innocent and a throwback to an era of teenaged wonder about relationships and life itself.
Foldy must have a picture of Dorin Gray in his attic because his voice sounds as crisp and youthful as it did on his seminal hit “Bondi Junction”.

Bondi CoverHe delivers his patented and almost Disney-esque After School Special pop ditties free of cynicism the way Ricky Nelson or Paul Anka might have some 50 years ago. These include “In Too Deep”, “So Emotional”, “Reach For the Stars” (with some really tasty guitar work and country-like melodicism) and the lyrical juxtaposition of world events against the uplifting ballad “United”.
Speaking of ballads, Peter delivers two of the more contemporary sounding vibes that the Michael Bublé’s of the world only wished they could write. Both “One of Us” and the album stand-out, “Philadelphia On Your Mind” (a personal favourite), takes the listener on a “Ferry Cross The Mersey”-like journey especially with the latter’s melodic and tasty guitar lines.

PeterFoldy_photo2But he never lulls the listener into a coma like the current crop of Middle of The Road ‘safe’ acts. That’s not what ‘Nine Lives’ is about. Foldy has some true surprises on the album especially in the Barney Bentall meets Springsteen reminiscent chug-a-long “Rejection From You”. There’s also the Maroon 5-esque “Carly” with a hook a mile wide and a ukulele line that gets stuck to the roof of your brain. There’s also the feel good surf’s up bopper “Something Happened” that puts Foldy not in Beach Boys territory but in league with this decade’s Queen of Surf Music Laurie Biagini.

PeterFoldy_photo1 The true surprise here, and a special treat for long time fans of the Canadian singer, is a re-working of his 1976 hit “Roxanne” – this time deconstructed into a ballad the way Neil Sedaka did with the 1970s re-reading of “Breaking Up Is Hard To Do”. Only the best written songs can live through a blender of time signature changes and style rebirths. Foldy handles the delivery deftly. Here’s the original….

 

Like a ghost ship from a distant memory, Foldy is expected to materialize on radio and on YouTube as he takes the bull by the horns and lives up to his ninth life.

THIS WEEK’S VIRAL FIND:

THIS WEEK’S VIRAL OLDIE:

Send your CDs to: Jaimie Vernon, 180 Station Street, Suite 53, Ajax, ON L1S 1R9 CANADA

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Jaimie’s column appears every Saturday

Contact us at dbawis@rogers.com

DBAWIS ButtonJaimie “Captain CanCon” Vernon has been president of the on again/off-again Bullseye Records of Canada since 1985. He wrote and published Great White Noise magazine in the ‘90s, has been a musician for 33 years, and recently discovered he’s been happily married for 16 years. He is also the author of the recently released Canadian Pop Music Encyclopedia and a collection of his most popular ‘Don’t Believe A Word I Say’ columns called ‘Life’s A Canadian…BLOG’ is now available at Amazon.com

One Response to “JAIMIE VERNON – NINE LIVES”

  1. Lame video but I always liked the song Boys Do Fall In Love. Especially the dub version. I am not making this up.

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