I less than three you.

Hey readers! I’m back from my self-imposed exile.

Sorry about that. I had, uh… let’s say Ebola. But I’m better now! I’m good enough that two weeks ago, I attended a massive concert here in Guelph. In the summer, hippies, neo-hippies, hipsters and other hip-related people gather at Guelph Lake for the annual Hillside Festival. This is all well and good, except it takes place in the summer and how you gonna play February? It’s the month everyone looks forward to cuz it’s not January, it’s generally short, and it contains one chocolate related holiday, one groundhog related holiday (You don’t take groundhog’s day off? Why ever not!?) and now, Hillside Inside. It’s like Hillside except, you know, inside. They rented out the hockey arena, brought in some dumplings and $2 reusable beer mugs and volunteers to wash dishes (no paper plates for hillside hippies) and invited a totally awesome buncha bands.

The “big name” guests included The Weakerthans, Cuff the Duke, Tokyo Police Club, Shout Out Out Out Out, Attack In Black, Wintersleep and Xavier Rudd. I happen to appreciate everybody on the above list, especially Shout Out Out Out Out, who put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen them do, considering they hopped a plane from Edmonton at 6 a.m. and were pounding out the awesome of Dude You Feel Electrical and Nobody Calls Me Unless They Want Something on their famous two drum kits by mid-afternoon.

The other bands were also at the top of their game, even if it felt like The Weakerthans suffered a little for opening the show. The harmonies seemed a little off, but otherwise, they impressed enough that I bought a faux curling sweater with the band’s curling broom logo on it. What can I say? I’m weak. I’m weakerthan. Cuff the Duke’s set made me wonder why they are not incredibly famous. Their latest album, Sidelines of the City, is available on vinyl, which means you should get it, ’cause it comes with a CD, too. Big art, big music, awesome tunes in various formats. What more could you want? If I Live or If I Die is the wintertime jam of ‘08. And Wintersleep. This band has played Guelph many times in the last year or so. Every time I see a poster or a flyer, I think “I should go see them.” And then I remember that I work nights and have no social life to speak of. I was getting tired by the time they took the stage. I was prepared to go into whining mode. And then, they launched into Weighty Ghost and all my troubles were forgotten. It’s such a great song, I’m glad it’s getting radio play. It deserves it. They deserve it. All these bands deserve your attention, so seek them out.

Valentine’s Day present to you all. Are you ready? Okay. Here you go:

This is how it is, America: All the Republicans can think of to diss Obama about is that he’s only got three years senate experience. Can you believe that? He’s totally going to be the next president. By extension, that means he’s going to be a PILF. Come on. Admit it. You’d tap that presidential ass. As for his three years experience, I don’t know about the White House, but it certainly qualifies him to get into my pants. Alright. I think I’m done making sex jokes about Obama, so feel free to send this out as your Valentine’s card. If you don’t do it for the nookie, do it for the LULZ.

As far as Valentine’s Day music goes, I wanted to give you some Al Green, but Wordpress thinks the five minute song I picked was too long. So you don’t get Love and Happiness from the good reverend, you get Marvin Gaye’s bouncy love song, Too Busy Thinking About My Baby. It puts me in a happy mood. Much like cheap chocolate on sale February 15 and the realization I’m still single and don’t have to buy anything for anybody except me. The Canadian single girl’s dream lives on.

Gimme lickle soul, oh lord

Today is Bob Marley’s birthday. He would have been 63 today.

I realize most people aren’t freakishly obsessive Wailers nerds like I am, so I’m going to save the 30-page essay I could’ve written for a more appropriate forum. The layman’s take on Marley tends to be “I like that ‘Jamming’ song,” or “Dude, I listen to Legend all the time when I smoke weed.”

Not exactly a deep understanding of the man’s catalogue. I, on the other hand, am such a nerd that I have some Marley albums on LP, tape and CD — so I have two backups in case something happens to one of ‘em.

Anyway, I’ve been listening to Bob all day, and thought I’d throw a few tunes up here. Nothing is particularly obscure — but if you’re the type of Marley “fan” who doesn’t venture any further than the best-ofs, they’ll probably be new to you.

Walk the Proud Land

This is a reworked version of a very early Wailers tune (”ska quadrille,” anyone?) recorded in 1973 for a live in-studio KSAN-FM (San Francisco). It’s the only recording session (at least the only one readily available) from the Wailers’ first American tour. It’s not as lyrically hard as some of the other songs from that era (Bob sang “I feel like bombing a church” on that same radio session), but it’s one of the most soulful moments in a catalogue full of soul. “Gimme lickle soul, oh lord”… ask and you shall receive.

Iron Lion Zion

Not the version you’re thinking of. This track appeared in the limited-edition Songs of Freedom boxset, before the better-known updated version was released. At the time of that comp (1992), it was a previously-unheard song found in Rita Marley’s archives. This take is has a much looser groove than the popular version, and its rawness is likely more of the vibe Marley was going for than the overproduced single that appeared on the Natural Mystic comp three years later.


This is an early-70s (probably ‘71/’72, if not earlier) version of “Concrete Jungle.” Appears on Ammunition Dub Collection, one of JAD’s excellent 21st Century reissues of embryonic Wailers material. Don’t expect to hear Bob’s voice on this track — it’s the version, after all — but there are some delicious horns by the likes of Tommy McCook and Vin Gordon.

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