UNITED EMPIRE LOYALISTS
Notes From The Underground (PN)
Reviewed by Alan Wright
I didn't know much about these guys, except for a couple of songs on the
"History Of Vancouver Rock and Roll" series that came out back in the '80s,
"You Don't Love Me" and "No No No," which I barely recall so they obviously
didn't make a huge impression on me when I first heard them. I also know
that the modern punk-garage band The Evaporators, led by Nardwuar The Human
Serviette, named one of their albums after these guys.
This is an interesting
CD in that it is a mixture of stuff recorded in 1968, 1970 and 1990 (when
they reunited for a concert in Vancouver), but it's all mixed together, in
no particular order. To be honest, unless you checked the dates on the CD
you might not be able to tell, as it all sounds like '60s stuff. Late '60s
to be more specific. They weren't your average savage mid-60s teen band,
more in tune with the social and political upheavals of the late '60s and
changing musical climate. I guess you could term them "psychedelic," as
they certainly had elements of that, but also a lot of blues and soul
influence as well. In fact, the first song is a tribute to Otis Redding
entitled, "Otis," and the CD ends off with a jam on some of his songs.
Initially a four-piece, with two guitarists, bass and drums, they recorded
the majority of the material on this in '68, some live in Edmonton at place
called Zorba's, and some for a CBC TV show on emerging "hippie culture."
Because a lot of this is live, there's a loose, spontaneous quality to this,
mostly refraining from the plague of endless jamming that a lot of bands
succumbed to. While a couple of songs are four or five minutes long, and one
even breaks the eight-minute mark, most fall into the three minute category.
This, I believe, keeps them being totally boring since their music has that
sort of laid-back approach. Not that they don't break out and rock, or use
fuzzy leads once in a while, but the folky element shows on a lot of this
stuff, especially their cover of "I Know You Rider." The 1970 songs when
they'd been reduced to a trio are pretty bare bones, with "Lookin' And
Searchin'" being one of the standouts.
Actually, there's nothing on this
that is really horrible, either. It's kind of cool, late-night, stoned-out
kind of vibe stuff, and some songs really stick out. I like their version of
"You Don't Love Me," which like "Rider" was actually recorded in '90,
amazingly enough. It's like time has stood still for them. "Wait A Minute
Jim," one of the '70 tracks, is pretty cool, but the drum solo is a tad
needless. Mercifully, it's not that long. I also quite liked the short "My
Chances For Living," probably the closest they got to the "garage" sound. I
think this may grow on me with repeated listens, and I think it's kind of
neat that they incorporate part of Stravinsky's "Rites Of Spring" into the
song "Buffalo Wilkie." It does make me want to pull out those "Vancouver
Rock and Roll" comps and check out their songs on that again.
[Pick this up at www.greatesthitsmailorder.com.]
© 2002 - Alan Wright