Tuesday, June 3, 2014


Dave Bidini is not a shy man, and he has had many platforms to get his art to the public.  A founder of Rheostatics, his first forum, he then developed as an author, frequent broadcast guest, and newspaper columnist.  The latter especially showed his opinionated side, but usually his albums saw him more in story-mode, or perhaps a bit of social commentary.  Seems he's decided to speak his mind on the Bidiniband's third, with his home and native land, the True North strong and free directly in his sights.  Bidini isn't happy with what's happened to his country, and he's not afraid to name names either.  One Stephen Harper comes up, and although he's not shouldering all the blame, Bidini's probably not voting Conservative.

The words here aren't all blatantly political or finger-pointing, and Bidini builds some scenarios to set up his major theme, that we've become a nation that isn't what we'd hoped for, or believe in.  The rousing sound of All Hail Canada is a ruse:  "All hail Canada, we know what's best/the only country but the States not to sign the Kyoto Accord/All hail Canada, from sea to sea/polluted by the cancerous toxins of our industry."  He's not mincing words, mentioning "the mutilation of our laws", "civil unrest", "greedy needs of his and his kind", no need to mention who the "his" is.

As opposed to Neil Young's Living With War, there are lots of breaks from the bolder words, and plenty of inventive, fun music as well.  Of the three Bidiniband albums, this feels most like a Rheo's set, from its somewhat conceptual flow to the inclusion and update of the old group tune Fat, now (The Return Of) Fat.  The core band (drummer Don Kerr, guitarist Paul Linklater, bassist Doug Friesen) is augmented as well with lots of extra help, from strings and horns to soundbites and backing and co-vocals, making it the biggest production of the three as well.  Other songs here look at images of Canada, past and present, including Bidini's favourite topic, what it was like growing up in this country.  But sentiment doesn't get in the way, it's here for you to make a comparison, yesterday's Canada, or where we are and where we're heading.

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