Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Left Book Club - Clifton Walker's Blues

We're trying to break out of the cycle of just posting Muretich articles, and thankfully a CCPS follower has sent us a few songs he recorded off the radio (we assume CJSW) back in the 80's. So we'll start with this one from the Left Book Club, mostly because we have a Muretich article to help wean us off his articles...

Out of left field comes the Left Book Club
By James Muretich
(Herald staff writer)

Flashback to last weekend’s Rock Expo: about 200 people are milling about in the cavernous Corral waiting for the next group up in the local battle of the bands.

The audience, light years' away in consciousness from The Left Book Club, is mostly made up of guys sporting baseball caps and people who look like they own albums by Van Halen and Michael Jackson, not records by Elvis Costello or Lou Reed.

The Left Book Club takes the stage and, amazingly enough, halfway through its set it has won over the audience, save for a few hecklers.

It’s just another sign that while Calgary’s alternate, underground (or whatever you want to call it) rock scene still plays before a small (Ten Foot Henry’s, HC’s, university) crowd, its music is no longer relegated to those who were inspired by the Sex Pistols somewhere down the line.

“I know that people would like our music if they were just exposed to it,” says lead guitarist Dave Bleakney prior to a practice in preparation for this Friday and Saturday night’s gig at Ten Foot’s (509 9th St. S.W.).

The Left Book Club’s influences “run from Judy Garland to John Cale,” says Bleakney. Its sound is left field, to be sure, fusing together the rough edges of rock ’n’ roll with more harmonious folk-pop elements - street-wise but intellectual.

It isn’t the usual staid fare of Calgary’s nightspots, recycling radio hits already played to death. It is original and challenging. And even when the band tackles a cover tune, such as the soul classic Dancing In The Street, it re-interprets it to make the song its own.

Aside from Bleakney, the band consists of drummer Darrell LeBlanc, bassist Chuck Gogan and guitarist Lisa Robinson (who leads the band’s vocal work with a voice that is gentle yet surprisingly powerful).

“I’m sick of bars, playing six nights in a row,” says Bleakney. “What kind of passion can you have after that?

“The idea that you have to play the bars to make it is baloney. When you think of all the great bands, like Lou Reed and Velvet Underground, who made it, they didn’t do so by just playing other people’s material.”

The Left Book Club, in its year’s existence, has studiously avoided top-40 bars but not without paying the price of having few places to play.

The band is known for always being in the process of breaking up, yet it continues on when its “unofficial manager” Bob Black keeps landing the band gigs.

The band credits places like Ten Foot’s and the U of C’s radio station, CJSW, with helping, keep the local alternative rock scene alive.

“Look at the bands that have achieved some local notoriety. People have heard of The Nex’d and The Now Feeling thanks to Henry’s. It seems everytime you go down there you hear something new,” says Bleakney.

“And the university station helps by playing tapes of bands recorded live on Friday night,” adds LeBlanc.

Which isn’t to say that there aren’t still battles to be waged.

“The way record companies treat music in this country is just pitiful,” says Bleakney. “We don’t have the variety of independent record companies that they do in England which help keep everybody on their toes. And the public is to blame too. There was a time when the public told radio what they wanted to hear. Today, radio just tells the people what they’re going to be exposed to. It’s a vicious circle.”

Hopefully, with more and more bands like The Left Book Club arising in Calgary, that circle will not remain unbroken.

Note: James Muretich apparently goofed on a member's name - that's Lisa Boudreau on guitar/vocals.

It's hard to judge a band by just one song, but that's exactly what we're going to do. James is pretty astute, and his description is spot on - this seems like a good balance between smart and fun. Check it out here.

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