Review by Rusty W. Spell
First off, the title is clever. First album: Greatest Hits. I thought I came up with that idea on my on. I know what Tim means when he says "Someone keeps repeating what I said a million years before it's said." At least (to my knowledge) no one has taken my other similar idea: name of band, Various Artists. (Reprise, three years after I wrote that: they exist.) At any rate, I'm glad it was the Rheostatics who did it.
The artwork is nice. Martin's awesome. Fonts and everything; perfect, simple, crispy. We get to see the group when they were little boys on a Shoppers World sign. I think it's interesting that stories are included.
Overall, the music is great, especially since this thing started as a demo tape. It's more "straight" than what we see in the future, and at first listen (especially since I heard Whale Music and Happiness first), it seems like almost normal (though good) rock. On further listens, you can hear the aspects of the music that makes the Rheos what they are.
The word Canadian has to be in here somewhere since I see it in all the other reviews. Folks are always saying "how Canadian" the Rheostatics are. And they are, and that's wonderful; folks should sound like where they're from. But they're so much more than just "very Canadian," and I don't judge music on how much it sounds like a particular geographical location. The Rheos are good music and art. They can belong to the world as easily as any other group, author, filmmaker, or whatever that happens to project something that is very close to home.
"Crescent Moon" is the perfect choice for a first song. The Rheos are good in picking song order, rather than just lumping random songs like a lot of groups do. I don't like "Canadian Dream" as much as some of the others, mostly because of the up-and-down redundancy of the music in the verses. But I love the chorus, words and music. Lots of Tim songs have this homesickness that I can identify with. I get weird when I leave home for too long.
"The Ballad of Wendel Clark" is a highlight of the album. Part I gives a hint of some of the depth-of-music to come in later alums. Part II's country yee-hah-ness only proves that Canada and Mississippi aren't very different.
I'm not really too sure what Tim was getting at when he wrote "Public Square," but I think the message was dissing mediocre music more than those folks in the public square. I like that the music sounds like Gospel. I was raised on Gospel and children's records.
"Delta 88" is the perfect way to end this album. As far as I can tell, the best way to end anything is in a graceful dissolve or a full bloom. They went for the bloom. Personally, I prefer to listen to it while flying down the road in my car... sometimes screaming out the lyrics. I don't think this song will ever get old.
My older brother graduated in 1987, and I don't remember him ever playing me anything like this. Lots of Bon Jovi, lots of Motley Crue.
Copyright (c) Jun 1996 - Dec 2004 by The USA Rheostatics Page