On those occasions when Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy and Greg Keelor make way for their redoubtable bassist, Bazil Donovan, to sing a tune in concert, it typically brings down the house. That’s not because Donovan is such an amazingly gifted interpretive stylist, but because many people can identify with the guy who shoulders a heavy weight yet rarely gets proper credit or his fair share of the spotlight. Other musicians know what that’s all about, and many of them (including David Baxter, Travis Good, Justin Rutledge and Jon Langford, who painted the cover portrait) were happy to lend a hand in completing Donovan’s solo debut, Matinee (TeleSoul), in which he reprises the country jukebox standards he used to knock out in his pre-Rodeo days between the Winchester Hotel, the old Claremont Tavern and the Drake Hotel.
Despite the covers concept, what comes across is all Bazil, and that’s good enough for me. www.bluerodeo.com/Store/Product.aspx?id=CM00039.
Learning of the breakup of the Embarrassment, one of my favourite bands of the 80s, was tough to take. But there was some consolation in the fact that guitarist Bill Goffrier had formed a new group with the Volcano Suns’ Gary Waleik and Steve Michener called Big Dipper. And best of all, they seemed to be picking up right where the Embarrassment left off, exuberantly bashing out smart off-kilter tunes that stick with you for weeks, er, months. Make that decades.
Now 20 years since Big Dipper released their last great album, 1988’s Craps, Merge has issued Supercluster: The Big Dipper Anthology, gathering all their Homestead label classics – including Faith Healer, All Going Out Together, Meet The Witch and, yes, Ron Klaus Wrecked His House – on two discs, and they’ve thrown in a bonus disc of what might’ve been a brilliant comeback record had A Very Loud Array been released. The stellar package is limited to 5,000 copies, so grab it while you can. www.mergerecords.com.
Snotty 60s punk probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Connecticut. But way out in leafy Wallingford, Thomas “Doc” Cavalier had left his dental practice in the mid-60s to pursue what he believed to be his true calling: recording the unhinged snarls and primitive pounding of angry middle-class teens at Trod Nossel Studios. The fab 22-track Don’t Press Your Luck! (Sundazed) archival disc collects the coolest and craziest garage mayhem documented at Trod Nossel.
Collectors will be familiar with the oft-comped Bram Rigg Set’s fuzz-enhanced battering of I Can Only Give You Everything and maybe the Shags’ threatening title track. But 14 of the songs have never been issued, and there are five additional cuts on the gatefold double-vinyl set. Because it’s on Sundazed, the sound quality (mastered by Bob Irwin) is exceptionally good, and the liner notes are thoroughly researched and informative. www.sundazed.com.