Friday, November 03, 2006

That's One Hot Russian Jet

And here I'd been concerned that I wouldn't know what material to use for my first MP3 post here. Silly me!

I moved out of my Mom's home and down into this neighbourhood almost six months ago, but it was only about a week or so ago that I paid my first visit to our local library branch. Lo and behold, do you know what I ran into in the CD section? I will tell you what I ran into in the CD section.

Oh. Oh my. Oh my goodness.

Now, I don't mind telling you, my favourite spectator sport is hockey. I am an adult male and I live in Canada; I can hear you registering surprise from here.

I was never the sort of child who wanted to grow up to be a hockey player; mind you, I was (and still am) the sort of child who could barely move on skates at all without crashing into something and falling down. Still, though, I liked watching hockey -- and my favourite team was the Winnipeg Jets because, hey, back in the day Winnipeg had meaningful public expressions of civic pride to rally around. Isn't that nutty?

Which reminds me. On the front page of the Sports section in the October 26th, 2006 Winnipeg Free Press, Randy Turner argued that the loss of the Winnipeg Jets has actually been a positive thing -- not because Winnipeg is better off without an NHL team, but rather that Winnipeg is better off without that NHL team specifically. The team, now the Phoenix Coyotes, have actually become less successful than they were back in Winnipeg, and anybody who was passingly familiar with the Winnipeg Jets knows what a difficult feat that is to accomplish. Turner is probably right, of course, about our having saved ourselves a decade of frustration and misery by jettisoning one of the worst teams in the NHL -- but still! They were widely considered a miserable sadsack failure of a hockey team, but they were our miserable sadsack fai... yeah, I'm not really going anywhere with this.

Where was I? Ah, yes. My family moved away to smalltown Nova Scotia in November of 1994, a couple of years before the Jets finally up and folded; as such, I had only a passing understanding of what was going on and why the team suddenly scooped itself up and scuttled to some sandy sinkhole. (I suffer from brief bouts of alliteration occasionally. Don't mind me.) So I spent the year of 1996 holed up near Cape Breton and being bored out of my skull; as such, prior to my previously mentioned recent library visit, I had never encountered this mysterious aural oddity before. Naturally I had to borrow it!

The CD turned out to be everything you would come to expect just from looking at the cover. Earnest yet kitschy, upbeat yet retrospectively depressing, and of course interesting for a wide variety of reasons.

Just to give you some idea of what I'm talking about, the opening track to lead off the album:

Randy Bachman - That's One Hot Russian Jet (You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet)

Oh my. Now, keep in mind -- this was entirely Randy Bachman's idea. This isn't a cover band, and this isn't somebody else reworking the lyrics for him; Bachman legitimately sat down on his own and rewrote one of his biggest hits to be about a reasonably good centre forward on a usually mediocre hockey team. Why did Randy Bachman do this? Because Randy Bachman is awesome, that's why.

If you haven't already gleamed the concept, here's the second track on the disc:

Harlequin - Numminen (Innocence)

Well, I can't argue with Teppo Numminen, now can I? Teppo's a good dude.

Believe it or not, the album goes on from there to progressively more bizarre ideas. Jennifer Hanson sweetly serenades team captain Kris King, who in four years with the Jets had 25 goals and 577 penalty minutes; you try keeping a straight face when she breaks out lyrics like "Workin' hard will get you where you want to be / Blood, sweat and cheers, it's the best recipe", or especially the line "Don't'cha ever cross a Kris named King". Streetheart (credited here as "Former Members of Streetheart") turn their (...hit?) song One More Time into "One More Save", a tribute to "our Russian n'yet minder" Nikolai Khabibulin. Even Colin James drops in to rework his song I Just Came Back, and since everything Colin James touches turns to awesome I have no snarky comments to append to this information. And the album winds down with a couple Big Dave McLean originals that actually carry the subjective quality of the whole album up another couple of notches.

It's a very interesting piece of historic quirk, to say the least. A lot of the lyrics on the disc are cringe-worthy, but at the same time there's a very charming Numminen innocence and sense of community to the whole thing. I can't tell whether I feel better or worse after listening to it, which is quite the trick -- it's a far stranger poignancy than you'd initially expect from a novelty album about a defunct hockey team that didn't even break .500 most of the time.

MP3 blog etiquette would suggest at this point that I post a link for you to be able to buy the album, but a cursory check shows that the internet as a whole has almost no idea this disc ever existed. So I'll tell you what -- I'm pretty much done with it, and I can definitely recommend that you borrow it from the library after I've returned it. Cool? Okay, cool.

Now, while I'm on the subject of Canadian rock passingly related to the Winnipeg Jets (AND HONESTLY HOW OFTEN DOES THIS TOPIC EVER COME UP IN CONVERSATION), this is as good a time as any to bring Quebecois rockers Les Dales Hawerchuk to your attention.

Named of course for Dale Hawerchuk, these are four guys from Roberval who rock out and have fun and I totally have no idea what they are even saying.

My long-suffering siblings can attest to my misguided enthusiasm for catchy songs in other languages; despite myself, I always end up trying to sing along with the song long before I could possibly understand what the hell the words even mean. So either I end up very enthusiastically firing off gibberish syllables for the whole song, or I sort of mumble and trail off until I hit a sequence of syllables I can sing along with in confidence. In this case:

"JE N'EST er something something mumble--
Mumble mumble incomprehensible,

Les Dales Hawerchuk - (Je S'uis) Dale Hawerchuk [buy]

I implore you, don't let my obvious shortcomings as a unilingual Anglophone stop you from listening to these guys! I can't follow along with sovereignty debates very well, I end up tuning out half of what is said on airplanes, and I am permanently barred from ever landing a Government job -- but damned if I don't know great new music when I hear it! Whoo!

So, yes. Good to have that post done! I promise to make future MP3 posts a bit, er, shorter and easier to read.


Anonymous said...

hey men u are a fucking english gay and you don't even know french, these's 4 guys play gerat songs when u can understant it why the fuck u can say that it suck when u don't know what they are talking about? fucking gay english fuckers

P.S: I hate english people

Anonymous said...

A girl at work was telling me about how she had this Jets album when she was a little girl. She sang "He's one hot Russian Jet/b-b-b-baby he's one hot Russian Jet" and it was so entertaining that I Googled it when I got home. Lo and behold your blog came up and I got to hear not one but two incredible tracks from the CD! SO FUNNY.

The best part is that I can pop on over to the Pembina Trails library and get it because I live relatively close. WIN-WIN MY FRIEND.