Hello music lovers and welcome from the Rheostatics and The Green Sprouts to the reissue of your beloved Etobicoke foursome's debut platter, 1987's Greatest Hits. This early, nine-song documentation of young Canadian Shield Rock might have remained suspended in infamy had Green Sprouts Music Club members not forced our hand through vigilant letters and postcards protesting its lack of availability. Double thanks for that, good sprouts. Like Melville, this album/project was a demo tape intended to hook major record labels that instead bloomed into a full-length independent recording. It was engineered and co-mixed with the band by Tom Atom and Dean Malton at E-Norm-Us Sound in the spring of 1987, and pressed and distributed by X Records (Marcuzzi/Verrinder) a few months later. All music was shaped and composed and arranged by Rheostatics; published by Green Sprouts Music; the tree was drawn by Martin Tielli; the introduction was written by Bug Dan Maldanetti; and the prehistoric photo-pictograph was snapped by Rick McGinnis. As always, your Rheostatics and Green Sprouts pipeline can be explored by writing to The Green Sprouts Music Club, P.O. Box 616, Station C, Toronto, Ontario M6J 3R9. For sonorous samplings and biodegradable curious, not to mention T-shirts, hats, the Whale Music Quarterly, and Melville, we encourage you to do like thousands and send us your thoughts, questions, tapes, etc.
Slap the back of the Lawnboy's of left-field. Buy them a 6-pack and a deck of players light. Phone Maud and tell her that Gordo's coming across the park to put gasoline in the Big Bill Truck. Send telegrams to Sandy in Thunder Bay and Elizabeth in Montreal. Write that we would have ended up with Sean in Buffalo if they hadn't told us to turn north at the 7-11. Buy Janet a new ballpoint pen for her birthday. Give roses to Judy for playing our songs. Drive PROD to Gordie Wilson's house (finger-picking and Leafs in 5), and take 13 Engines to the zoo. Hello Ozzie. Pay for the Bidini's phone bill. Let Cathy drive the Delta 88. Direct John and Joe to the river with a quart of triple X and make sure that Dave Watts scouts them from the maple tree scoreboard. Get Spencer of Thunder Bay and Dave MacMillan of Parts Unknown into the hot stove lounge. Let them rock forever, call the Rod, the Pod, and Charlie and insist that they form the Trans Canada Soul Patrol with Irish Rick McGuiness on hammer-down and Howard Druckman on bottleneck cheeseburger. Buy Scratch that Dave Rave wig he's been asking for and phone Robbie at Channel 26. Tour the world in the gumby-green Volvo. It's in the parking lot near radio york. Ed knows where, I think.
In Thunder Bay, Dave Clark made us take off our pants at a party. We were down to our underwear when Clarkie, who will now be referred to as The Mountain Man, sat at the kitchen table in a stranger's house and gobbled a shaker of pepper, garlic powder, raw potato skins, and some tinfoil. It was great. On the trip home on the train to Toronto, we met the conductor, who was into Sabbath and AC/DC, and some guy from the army. Martin's socks smelled, but it was O.K. Martin gets away with these kind of things because Martin knows how to build a fire and that, to me, is way better than knowing the retail value of your car.
Last February, Tim and I drove to Nashville, where we shopped at Barbara Mandrell's one-hour photo, Mel Tillis' gift shop, and Loretta Lynn's country kitchen restaurant. We left Music City for Georgia, where our car accidentally died in the deserted town of Clarkesville. It was late, it was Sunday, but thankfully the sheriff found us and took us to the nearest motel. That's where we found Harvey Bennet, an ex-NHL goalie from Oshawa, who had pictures hanging on the walls of the motel office of himself and his three songs, Curt and Harvey, Jr., who also played in the NHL. Canada is a big place. It's everywhere.
Wendel chases the rubber oreo wafer down the rink at the Gardens, only to slam into the boards at full-speed, then rebound back on his feet like a Peterbilt driving into a giant elastic band. Tim's ride cymbal, played heroicly by Clarkie, may denote the bell between rounds at a boxing match or the sound of the organist makes after the Leafs score a goal. Bam Bam--digga digga damm! Wendel scored a lot.
At this point, the 'Statics run for cover; the Kipling 45, Islington North, tramping home from Apache Burger, the Steeles Ave. bus. It's raining bottleneck guitar and you can't smoke on an open street corner. Everyone's up north, Channel 7's rebroadcasting the 6 o'clock Buffalo news, you busted two guitar strings last night and the Mini-Mart doesn't sell Fender bullets. There's the Mountain Man, the Magic Man, and Mystery Man. In 1989, Bug Dan Maldanetti was born.
Etobioke, Ontario, by the banks of the Humber River. Once upon a time, a Traveller was walking through the trees of West Deane Park when he stumbled over what he thought was somebody's groceries. It was late at night, and the moonlight shone across the suburbs like the reflection from an old man's eyeglass. A yard dog howled from a driveway. The traveller looked down at his feet and noticed that something was moving; he saw four fully-grown children, clad only in Canadian tartan underwear and old baseball caps. One of them had a maple leaf tatoo. He slugged from his bottle of triple X sherry, gave the children branches to chew on, then led them across the grass to the river. He sat them down in the shallow water and listened as they began to bay a collection of ballads which he identified as songs from the third Max Webster album. It was then that he named them the Rheostatics.
When Tim was in high school, he went to see Yes at the Gardens and afterwards decided to play guitar. I heard the Ramones on the radio while throwing a nerf football at the end of my street and decided to play electric guitar. I believe that The Mountain Man and The Magic Man are naturals. We used to have a keyboard player named James Gray, who now plays with Blue Rodeo. We also had a horn section; the Trans Canada Soul Patrol. Then there was Seth, the magician. We almost backed him up until he tried to turn Tim into a woman.
Martin, The Magic Man, used to work at the Royal Ontario Museum. He used to draw dinosaur bones, prehistoric animals, birds and trees. Sometimes I think that Martin may also like to be an animal. His grandfather lives in Italy, and each year he leads a giant parade down the streets of his hometown. Martin lives in a nice house in Etobicoke and his room is filled with neat drawings and fossils and guitar picks. Martin's dad makes Italian whiskey that somtimes gets the Rheostatics in trouble. Just ask Tim. But Tim is the Mystery Man, so maybe you better not.
We found Stompin' Tom Conners in a community hall north of Toronto. It was his 50th birthday party, and his daughter had made a huge cake in the shape of Canada (I got Nova Scotia, hid it under my coat, and took it home to remember). When we met him on the steps of the hall, we weren't sure what his reaction would be, but upon hearing that we'd come from Toronto to shake his hand and slap him on the back for making great records, he invited us to stay and join the party. We did crazy Eastern Canadian folk dances, drank free 50s, and listened to him perform a few songs with Gary Empry, his original bass player. We told Tom that people of young Canada wanted him to play in public again, but instead he gave us his pack of smokes 'cause we were out, and told us to go and raise a little hell on our own. I left feeling like maybe we should get our shit together and do something. Thus "Greatest Hits" was born. Thank you for listening.
Wasaga Beach is a neat place, located about an hour north from Toronto, where suburban families gather in cottages and houseboats near the town's main drag. At the beachside, girls walk in tube tops, bikers hang out in vans, and creaking ferris wheels and water slides vault tourist into the butter-thick sun and sky. Last summer, Tim, Dave and I got drunk in the Oldsmobile and had a run-in with Brian, the beachpark patrolman. The next weekend, Janet and I drove to her cottage and listened to the Blue Jays win a big game on the car radio.
Dave Bidini played acoustic and electric guitar in his underwear and sang while getting a two dollar haircut. Dave Clark played drums and howeled in his underwear while eating an egg salad sandwich. Martin Tielli played electric and acoustic guitar, bowed guitar, sitar, and sang in his underwear while building a fire out of shoelaces and gum wrappers. Tim Vesely played bass, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and sang in his underwear while sticking maple keys on his nose.
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