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Jr Gone Wild revisited: the music November 11, 2015

Posted by sjroby in Canadian content, Music.
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Here are the comments for the Jr releases from the website.

Less Art, More Pop is a classic mid-’80s album. Its guitars-and- harmonies approach clearly owes a great debt to such bands of the 1960s as the Byrds, but also reflects a lot of what was happening in the independent music scene of the time. REM and the Smiths had inspired innumerable jangly guitar bands, and other bands like the Dream Syndicate, Rainy Day, and the Long Ryders drew from the ’60s for inspiration.

This album fits well in that company, incorporating touches of folk, country, and punk into its pop aesthetic. There’s variety, but also the clear beginning of a unique sound and attitude. A few songs are lighthearted and goofy, like the fiddle-driven country stomp of Martha Quinn and the Carl Sagan- inspired pogopop of Cosmos. Others, like Fine Scotch, take a darker look at life, though not a hopeless one. Mike’s voice helps distinguish the band, whether he’s doing lead or backing vocals. The band starts to forge an identity that remains through the coming years of drastic lineup changes.

Folk You: The Guido Sessions is an assemblage of material from various sources, including demo tracks and live songs. The music ranges farther afield than before, due in part to the departure of Dave Lawson and the arrival of new guitarist Steve Loree. Although a number of songs from this album have since been rerecorded for later albums, this tape is well worth having and hearing, especially for songs like Steve Loree’s strong opener One Gun Town, the upbeat Dumb in the Summer, the old crowd pleaser What’s Going On, and Dove’s goofy contribution, Six Pack (no relation to the Black Flag song).

Too Dumb to Quit is the first really professional release from the band, produced by Bill Henderson of ’70s rock band Chilliwack and released by a label that also features albums by Ian Tyson and Steve Earle. Four of the songs from Folk You are reprised here, and though the sound quality is obviously superior to that of the cassette, there are similar forays into hard rock (the slow grind of The Bachelor Suite, tempered by steel guitar, and the urgent, propulsive sound of Akit’s Hill), lighthearted pop (The Cliché Song), and slow, soft country folk (Poet’s Highway and Sleep With a Stranger). This is a damn good album by any standard.

(Pull the Goalie doesn’t seem to have a review. I don’t remember why, because it may be my most frequently played Jr album. There’s some of their countriest music here, and absolutely classic tunes like Just the Other Day. There are some different names in the songwriting mix this time, with Steve Loree and Ed Dobek, who each contributed songs to some previous albums, no longer in the band. But Dove contributes again and so does this album’s new guitarist Chris Smith.)

Live at the Hyperbole got a bit of background:

It’s August, 1995, and I’m in Edmonton for the first time in ten years. Anthony Fulmes (a.k.a. Guido, of Guido Sessions fame) is getting married to Tamara Sapach. But that’s still a few days away. Everybody’s gathering at the Rose Bowl, the pizza joint and lounge immortalized in various Jr. Gone Wild videos and publicity photos. The Bowl has a great CD jukebox. As you flip through it, you see CD covers; you can pick any song from any of dozens of CDs. Pretty good selection, too. Some familiar Jr. CD covers go by, along with other local faves like Jane Hawley. And then I see a Jr. CD I’ve never seen before, never even fucking heard of. Jr. and Three Dead Trolls. I knew I must own it, but there was no chance to go somewhere and buy it that night. Dove told me to relax, that the band had plenty of copies. So before I left Edmonton I bought a copy, at Sound Connection or maybe the West Edmonton Mall. It was a damn good investment.

There are probably a lot of Jr. Gone Wild fans, and Three Dead Trolls fans, who don’t know the CD exists. Well, now you do. You have no excuse. Tell your friends, tell your neighbors.

What is it, you ask?

This is a live recording of a musical comedy revue by the band Jr. Gone Wild and the comedy troupe Three Dead Trolls in a Baggie. There are humorous songs, sketches, a good live version of Just the Other Day, and the ultimate Irish drinking song, A Dublin Lullaby. And for all the bitter and broken-hearted, the song She Thinks You’re Ugly explains a lot. Umm… or so I’ve been told by bitter and broken-hearted people. As entertaining as the CD is, it’s clear that attending the live show, in person, would be even more enjoyable.

Simple Little Wish garnered considerable positive press, from the Edmonton Journal to the Globe and Mail, much of it dealing with the fact that Mike quit drinking prior to this album, the subject of the first song. The critics weren’t interested only in Mike’s private life, though; they praised the songwriting and the music.

As usual, there’s a lineup change, and this time there are appearances from some old familiar names, notably Ford Pier and Jane Hawley. There’s also a song by Steve Loree, although he doesn’t play on the album. This is also the first Jr. album to include a bonus track after a long period of silence (on the CD, at least).

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