Sunday, May 2, 2010
The 44th anniversary of
Since the icon in question is the Nihilist Spasm Band, world-class masters of noise music, there are some who would say that quiet is the best way to go.
Not me. Not ever.
The glorious sounds, noises and witty words of the NSB must be acknowledged in the band’s hometown whenever the noise muse beckons.
So it is this week, when My London salutes the true patriot love of the band’s Centennial Year ode. It was recorded in 1966, a busy year for our heroes.
The lyrics to the
Nihilist Spasm Band’s first and enduring masterpiece, The Sweetest Country This
Side of Heaven, will be recited and analyzed during a talk I’m giving at the
Central library Thursday at It’s called Great
London Music from Lombardo to
The talk is a chance for me to share some selected sounds, visuals and anecdotes about the music of Carmen Lombardo, jazz bassist and country fiddler Jack Fallon, rock ’n’ roll pioneers the Mel-O-Denes, The Band organist Garth Hudson and two London stars of the new millennium — singer-songwriter Basia Bulat and Latina electronica dance and visual artist Lido Pimienta.
It may seem perverse to
pause during such a cavalcade of
I can’t hope to match Exley’s sterling delivery, but can offer a few fan insights.
The title spoofs Guy
Lombardo and his Royal Canadians’ branding as purveyors of “the sweetest music
this side of heaven.” The dance-band titan Lombardos
Growing out of the
In October 1966, the band recorded its Centennial Year epic, apparently at the old CHLO radio studios.
The Sweetest Country This Side of Heaven was released in a flexdisc format in the fall of 1967 as part of a leading Canadian art magazine which was experimenting madly at the time.
The band makes sweet and
goofy noises as Exley intones the majestic lyrics.
The first word is “Sask-atchewan” which is followed
by a litany of provinces, heroes and observations such as “
Toward the finale, Exley pays tribute to Wild Thing, a huge hit for the
British Invasion band the Troggs in 1966. Troggs’ scholars will recognize the allusion. “
NSB fans know for sure.
In the decades since recording this masterpiece, the Nihilist Spasm Band has
found a cult following in
That noise-loving cult
started here in
It would appear that the
NSB’s first public performance was on or around
Happily, we have about six years to prepare a suitable celebration to mark the 50th anniversary of that burst of joyful noise.
James Reaney is a Free Press arts & entertainment columnist and reporter.