Sunday, January 21, 2007

Ron Sexsmith

Ron Sexsmith & the Uncool "Grand Opera Lane" 1991

Released independently with his backing band, the Uncool, Ron Sexsmith's re-released debut album is a bit more of a rock effort than the pop-folk albums he later created. "In This Love" has a definitive acoustic or alternative country tinge to it in the vein of Blue Rodeo. Backed by Don Kerr and Steve Charles on harmony vocals, the tune has a soulful touch to it despite Sexsmith at times over-exerting his vocals during the bridge. Equally vital is the horn section, providing a Dave Matthews quality to the proceedings. "Spending Money" is a funky pop track showcasing the musician's simple yet descriptive narratives. The arrangement is a bit simplistic, though. One trait that is shown early on is Sexsmith's consistent soulful delivery, like a latter-day Motown album. "Don't Mind Losing" moves toward the country-soul party music of the Mavericks, featuring more horns. "Tell You" is perhaps the album's shining moment, a lovable acoustic track that adds harmonies before Bob Wiseman's organ kicks in. "Gonna Get What's Mine" is a blending of rockabilly and bluegrass with mixed results at best. Also included on the album is the original recording of "Speaking With the Angels," a track later issued on Sexsmith's 1995 self-titled album. Although similar in its tone, the singer opts for more of a Bob Dylan style in his delivery. The relaxing country touches on "Every Word of It" are the seeds of future projects, despite the music's tone. "Trains" is another shining moment, a sparse number featuring just acoustic guitar and Sexsmith's fragile singer/songwriter voice. It all ends with "The Laughing Crowd," another hint at what was to come in future albums that is standard melodic pop in under three minutes. ~ Jason MacNeil, All Music Guide

"Rarities" 2003

Ron's liner notes:

01. On A Whim
I wrote this song for Eddi Reader. She's a good friend and a great singer from Scotland. When I sent her the demo, it wasn't quite finished but she went and recorded a fine version of it anyway. So this is my attempt at it. The lyrics and chords are slightly different from hers but it's essentially the same song. I demoed this version recently for the Brodsky Quartet to hear and possibly record but they chose another song of mine instead.

02. Almost Always
Most people familiar with my stuff will know this song. It was used as a bonus track on the Japanese version of RON SEXSMITH and again as a B-side to the Secret Heart single in the UK. It also turned up on a charity album in Canada. Recorded originally (along with about 24 other songs) over 3 day period in Nashville back in 1996, it still gets requested quite a bit at our live shows. (That's Al Kooper of Like A Rolling Stone fame playing the organ.)

03. Good Old Desk
This one was originally recorded for the RON SEXSMITH album. I'd always been a huge fan of Nilsson, and when he died just a few months before I started on my record, I thought I'd pay my respects by cutting it. Around that time, Al Kooper and Danny Kapilian were busy putting a tribute album together for him. Somehow they got wind of this track and asked if they could have it so naturally, I was more than happy to hand it over.

04. You Were There
Taken from the same session as and used as a B-side for Strawberry Blonde single. I hope to release that whole Nashville batch someday! Anyway I still play this one on occasion - I'm quite proud of it.

05. Same Old Eyes
Recorded in New York during the sessions for OTHER SONGS. It was a fun track but we couldn't seem to make it fit with the other stuff so we left it off. It turned up on that Strawberry Blonde single later on and as a Japanese bonus track as well. Great drumming on it.

06. Tears Behind The Shades
This one got left off the WHEREABOUTS record except in Japan. I always liked it but we felt it was making an already sad album even sadder. Also I was determined to make WHEREABOUTS an even 12 song sequence. Some country artist should do this one.

07. Blade Of Grass
We initially thought it would close WHEREABOUTS but after getting a good take of Seem To Recall (which was on the B list) we opted for that track instead. It's just me and my guitar on this one.

08. Too Late
Another one left off the WHEREABOUTS record for pretty much the same reason that Tears Behind The Shades was left off. It's a pretty recording though and it seems to sum up my emotional state at the time.

09. Words We Never Use
I always look forward to playing Melbourne, Australia. They used to have rhis great songwriters club called The Continental where this performance was recorded. I never really liked my vocal on the album version but I think I may have got it right in Melbourne.

10. Don't Like Mondays
We were asked by the music supervisor of "The West Wing" to cover this old Boomtown Rats song for a particular episode. It was a tough song for me to sing and after all our hard work, they went and used someone else's version! That's Hollywood for ya.

11. Before We Ever Met
Steve Earle and I went back and forth on the sequence for BLUE BOY. This one was on it right up until the day we mastered it. I felt I had to take it off for the sake of everyone's attention span. Fifteen songs seemed a lot to ask of people except maybe the Japanese who included it on theirs. (An obvious exception to that rule would, of course, be this release which contains sixteen tracks!)

12. Kiss For Luck
This was the first song I wrote for the BLUE BOY record and always thought it would open the album too. Steve wanted the album to rock a bit more and felt this one was dragging it down. The fellow who mastered BLUE BOY in Nashville told us we were crazy for taking this one off... maybe he was right.

13. All The Cherished Things
It's an old song that I wrote when I was a courier... kind of a children's song I guess, halfway inspired by "It's A Wonderful Life". It was recorded for the BLUE BOY record but once again, we felt that something had to go. I think it was a B-side somewhere.

14. You Cross My Mind
It was one of the first songs recorded for COBBLESTONE RUNWAY but was taken off for reasons I can't recall.

15. Gold In Them Hills
This is the original duet version with Chris Martin of Coldplay. I think I like this one better than the remix, but the record, COBBLESTONE RUNWAY, needed something to make it stand out from my original take. It appeared in this form on an episode of "Queer As Folk" as well.

16. Someway Somehow
There's a new Canadian trio featuring my friends Kim Stockwood, Tara Maclean, and Damhnait Doyle. I wrote this for them to sing and submitted this demo for their perusal. As I write this, I'm still waiting to see if it made the final cut. But in case it doesn't, here's my take on it.


Anonymous radis noir said...

thnaks a lot! I'm just discovering Mr Sexmith, and what I've heard enjoyed my ears.

22 January, 2007 04:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a password requested for the "Rarities" .rar-file!?

How is it?

Thanks in advance!!

07 November, 2007 12:28  
Blogger Lizardson said...

no passwords required...

07 November, 2007 12:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can i download "Grand Opera Lane"?....Where's the link, Mr.?
Sorry for my ignorance, it's the first time i enter this blog and i
can't see where the link is. I pledge for your help, "...Lane" is the only record i haven't got of Ron. Thanks and congratulations for a really gooood taste music blog!!!...i can also contribute to one blog called "Soul Movers"...
check it if you please!!!!!...Hugs
and keep the fantastic work running!!!...Music is a Princess!!!
(as McAloon says)....

15 February, 2010 16:38  

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