JAIMIE VERNON – HOW SOON IS NOW?

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On November 10, 2014 Pink Floyd released its latest , and presumed last, studio album ‘The Endless River‘. It broke existing records on iTunes for pre-sales [a redundant idea if you consider that they can generate an infinite number of MP3s at will]. It also turns out that it’s not a bad album.

PinkFloyd

It took 20 years to come to fruition as re-workings of scraps from the band’s 1994 ‘The Division Bell‘ sessions – itself a 7 year odyssey – following the band’s ‘A Momentary Lapse of Roger Waters‘ album 7 years before that…which was preceded by ‘The Final Cut‘ 5 years before that.

Seems Pink And His Floyds proliferate at about the same rate as Pluto spins around the sun once (which is 247.68 earth years). That’s a lot of time to be filled with so much angst and pretense – though the Waters-less incarnation is a lot less angst ridden.

DSOTMThey must be thanking their lucky stars that ‘Dark Side of the Moon‘ and ‘The Wall‘ did so well or they’d be starving artists. How does one manage a living wage when your albums come out entire generations apart?

For some it means other career paths. It’s now been exactly 40 years between Peter Foldy‘s 1974 debut album and his sophomore effort ‘Nine Lives‘. Peter has been working in other fields of entertainment – otherwise he’d be a starving music artist.

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I had no such problem. I grabbed the guitar at age 14, formed a band, forsaken all desire to emulate cover tunes and had written 500 songs by my 20 birthday. They weren’t all great. But the really good ones made it to vinyl and CD and I was able to turn that into a launching point for live gigs, publishing and my own profitable record label (until the Crash of 2008, of course).

Angers

But the muse doesn’t come easy for everyone. When my label asked for a new Goddo album in 2002 from Greg Godovitz & Co. it was a struggle for them. The band hadn’t written anything new in a decade. Not since ‘King of Broken Hearts‘ in 1992. It almost became a solo record because Greg had graduated to more pop oriented fare. Those tunes became a side project with Bob Segarini and Brad Lovatt under the name The Anger Brothers. But I pushed for the Goddo album.

Goddo_KOTSAAt that time Goddo was on the upside of a major Canadian revival. Rock was still a ‘thing’. Greg didn’t believe there was a public desire for new product. I believed differently. Sometimes people need a push, a cheerleader, a  goal to achieve. We gave them space and some more time and they came through and delivered the ‘Kings of the Stoned Age‘ album with the loving assist of co-producers Paul LaChapelle and Andy Curran. Despite the push on three radio singles with some very competent radio promoters – Andrea Morris and Cameron Carpenter – It wasn’t the blockbuster that everyone wished for. But it stimulated the catalog. It got Goddo more gigs. More press. A bigger profile. Another album should have come immediately after. Alas, it was not to be. I still consider it a win, not a loss.

Neil YoungNeil Young doesn’t count wins and losses. He is the guru of prolific. He doesn’t care if anyone wants his new songs – ‘Storytone’ being his latest collection. The muse is in him. He’d release an album a week if he didn’t have sixteen other life pursuits slowing him down. And sometimes that is the reason you make music. To capture the moment. To look at the long tail. To get your ideas in order and cast them into the stream so that you can move farther up the river and see what lies ahead.

PrincePrince is also very prolific. But when he tried to release his works of art in a timely fashion his former label, Warner Music, was having none of that. The Purple Eggplant was clearly on fire in the 1990s. He wanted to release an album every 9 months. He, like The Beatles, believed you needed to strike while the fire was hot and before the audience got bored (c/f Alanis Morissette fans who abandoned her immediately after ‘Jagged Little Pill‘ because the follow-up album took four years). Warner Music wouldn’t support the schedule: “What about retail scheduling? What about radio? What about our stakeholders? We don’t have the capital to invest in 24/7 promotion! “ Because Batman.

Prince logoAnd so they didn’t. And he sued them in order to be excused from the trough. He deemed his relationship with them as nothing more than indentured servitude – on their timetable when they deemed it necessary. It’s the reason he changed his name to a symbol and declared himself “The Artist Formerly Known As Relevant”. He’s still cranking out music to fans (not showing up to his own surprise performances as fickled whims notwithstanding) and that is truly what matters.

Stu NunneryRecently impassioned American folk artist Stu Nunnery has made a remarkable comeback from a disability that took most of his hearing in the early 1980s; Prior to that he’d recorded one album – that has since taken on Sugarman-like proportions in places like Brazil. He launched a Kickstarter campaign to carry on with a career interrupted. He reached his goal because fans want him to make more music. As it should be. https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/797527749/a-musical-journey-interruptedcontinues

Menzies_coverAnd here on my desk this week sits album No.3 from Bob Menzies entitled ‘Citizens of Nashville; A man who has won me over not just by being a great songwriter but by being a prolific one. By improving his muse every time he steps foot in the studio he has turned baby steps into giant leaps. He doesn’t stop traveling – physically and musically. And it allows him more fodder for his restless mind. For his latest outing he has gone directly to Nashville to punch up his latent country leanings and folk storytelling. On board are Eddie Bayers (drums), Kelly Back (electric guitar), Howard ‘The Duckman’ Duck (keyboards), Scotty Sanders (pedal steel, dobro), Kevin ‘Swine’ Grantt (bass) and Mike Rojas (keyboards, organ). Add Bob’s own acoustic guitar playing prowess and vibrant vocals and you’ve got a hot combination before the first notes are even played.

Menzies1A great album of songs it is, too, courtesy of Nashville producer/musician Larry Beaird (Dolly Parton, Billy Dean, Mark O’Connor). Bob makes no bones about his nervousness at being amongst legends in the confessional track “I’ve Never Been To Nashville”’, but by the ease in which the songs like “You can’t Go Home Again” and “Follow Me Down” come across you’d never know. That would come from the pre-production they did in Clarksdale, Mississippi at the Hopson Plantation where Bob’s songs – all pre-written – would take on a new life through the prism of Nashville’s magic.

What is most noticeable is that the record is filled with more uptem tracks compared to those on his last two efforts – ‘Breaking Time‘ and ‘One More Highway‘. The energy of the quick 6 day Menzies2sessions in Nashville might account for this. “My Time Has Come”, “Highway of My Dreams” and “The Only Thing I Fear” are stand-outs. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Menzies album without a few rogues and scoundrels making an appearance. “Black Cat Hiding”, for instance, paints a picture of women that men should be wary of. But ladies, you should also keep an eye on men found in songs like “Time For You To Go”. Heartache, hope and living (“Love And Glory”) will carry through this latest Bob Menzies mental travelogue. Here’s hoping Bob’s got another album in him ready to go early in 2015. http://www.bobmenziesmusic.com

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 – HOW SOON IS NOW?”

  1. Jaimie…it’s always impressive to see the wide range of your musical interests and the depth of your analysis. It’s an honour to be included in your column and of course I appreciate you liking my music. I’m trying to challenge myself at every pit stop I take on this musical journey and it’s very cool how you have seen and commented on it from the beginning. All the best to you in the future! Bob

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