Review by Rusty W. Spell
This was the first one I heard, so I'll have that loyalty to it forever, I suppose. I picked up this CD based on its cover. The way the whale is eating its own tail if you loop it around is cool. All the little Rheos drawings and icons are present, even "You are very star."
These are the best pictures of the boys (meaing the clearest indication of what they look like), the ones in the middle, except Tim because he's hiding. The pictures on the first page are frightening, on the other hand.
The format of the credits (surrounding the lyrics) is the best format, probably. The Basilosaurus is cool.
I was a fan of the Rheostatics before "Self Serve Gas Station" ended. If they had only done this song, they would have been one of my favorite bands. Then when it blends in to "California Dreamline," anyone who's going to be hooked will be hooked. I had a professor who is working on the book, The Top 500 Songs and Movies of All Time, No Questions Asked, and I offered this song as my favorite. Not necessarily true, but I had to pick something worthy. (Fire Walk With Me was my favorite movie.)
Julia Pietrus said that when you turn off all the lights and play "California Dreamline" really loudly, it feels like you're under water. I'd have to agree with her. Headphones work, too. Always listen to your Rheostatics records with headphones at least a few times.
Martin uses one of his lyrical tricks on "Rain, Rain, Rain." The bit about "But I don't really give.../I'm feeling really..." A new kind of lyric-writing for me when I first heard it, and I can't think of anyone off-hand who does that (besides, now, me, of course).
"Queer" is rocking.
Once I said that "King of the Past" was a low point of the album, but I'd like to say now this: "King of the Past" is potentially (and only to me, mind you) a low point of the album simply because I'm not as engaged by it as some of the others, but when I'm feeling less lazy and can really listen to it, it's wonderful and moving. Of course, even suggesting at all that a great song like "King of the Past" is a low point proves how great the Rheos are.
"Legal Age Life at Variety Store" is a song to listen to when you're travelling. Especially the rollicking part in the middle.
"Shaved Head" is more than pretty. What are the vocals at the end? "Pray for me and Joy"? That's what I always sing anyway. (Some have suggested "Pray for me, St. George," the patron saint of Boy Scouts.)
"Palomar" reminds me of "King of the Past" in what I said about it. It depends on how lazy I am. These are both Tim songs, so I'd like to say what I say a lot, that Tim writes maybe the most impressive lyrics of all. Like if you were just reading them, they'd work on their own without having to rely on music to make them good.
Okay, I just don't like "Guns" that much, and I will tell you why. Because politics in music is okay sometimes if you're subtle with it (I like R.E.M., for crying out loud), but not if you're blunt and yelling them. Sure, I pretty much have the same view of guns, but I'm not going to sing a song about it; just whining... those who use guns won't change because of the song. But the drums are cool even though I don't believe in drum solos (even though I'm a drummer) and don't like Rush (I hate it when folks compare the Rheos to Rush) or Peart's drumming.
"Soul Glue" is one of the best Rheostatics songs ever. I'm starting to realize an infatuation with singing about death and guns and drowning and stuff. I'm just glad it's not in a depressing way. And "Who?" contains some of those impressive lyrics I was talking about. The whole song really. But the line "When I get out of forger's prison I will be on record as having done something on my own" cracks me up. I identify with this song completely.
I've said that "Dope Fiends and Boozehounds" is a perfect song, and I still stand by this. So perfect that I won't even talk about it much. But it's a perfect ending to the album, and it's kinda neat that we hear the boys talk at the end. This might be annoying to me from anyone else, but it's great from them. And we get that "No Matches, No Fire" song thrown in for good measure.
I'm glad this is such a long album. I dedicate this review to those who didn't stay here and help me shovel the walk. Why didn't they stay here?
Copyright (c) Jul 1996 - Dec 2004 by The USA Rheostatics Page