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From the Music Vault: NoMeansNo

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Ninth in a series of my (M) and my co-blogger's (T) musings on our music collection.

Today's selection:

NoMeansNo — Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?

Punk? Yea definitely punk. But there’s so much more going on here. There’s heavy doses of funky jazz and funky doses of heavy metal. There’s weird timing changes, jagged rhythms and lyrics that seemed to have been penned by someone who has traveled through Dante’s circles of hell while on acid.

I’m not gonna lie here. This is some weird shit. It’s an acquired taste. This is not an album to listen to casually in the car or while doing some other work. Maybe later on, after you’ve studied it and buried yourself in it and picked up every single nuance within. But your first couple of listens? Devote yourself to it. Just you and this album. In the dark. With headphones. Turn off the rest of your life and submerge yourself in the music and words. You need to become one with this. And here’s the thing about this album: you either get it or you don’t. There’s no in between. Either your mind completely rejects it or your soul clings to every note.

So, why do they call me Mr. Happy? Takes you the whole album to find out the answer to that. And it’s worth the trip to get to that point. It’s like you are on a boat — no, a ship, a huge ship that’s out in the middle of vast, churning, dark waters. Think Poseidon Adventure. Not Titanic. Leonardo DiCaprio has no place here. No, we’re talking Ernest Borgnine and Richard Dawson as your captains. And you’re Mr. Happy. Why? Some little kid asks you why they call you that. And then the ship starts rocking. The ocean rises and falls, rises and falls, and one minute you’re partying, thinking you’re on top of the world and then it all crashes and you’re upside down and everything has gone to hell and you wonder if the devil has boarded this ship and is just having some fun with you.

Your life flashes before your eyes and every dark secret spills forth, every ounce of bleak emotion you ever experienced — all the sadness, depression, despair, regret, hatred, fear — surrounds you like dark water but you push through all that, come up for air, fight off flying glass and fire and zombies eating human flesh and screaming people yelling at you to save them and you just kick all that out of the way, because you can. You can. You get to the end, you see the light and you’re standing on the deck and breathing in fresh air and that little kid is there and asks you: Why do they call me Mr. Happy?

Because. I’m. So. Fucking. Smart. – (M)

NoMeansNo. Ok. I'm gonna start this off by saying I have a bias for this album. This is when I was really playing bass and getting tired of everyone bagging on bass players. "Why couldn't they stand out more? Why couldn't they be more up front? Bass players suck." Go to hell. We hold this thing together if you haven't got it yet.

At the same time as this, there was also a similar thing going on with drummers. Although I don't really know how that works, but whatever. "Why couldn't drummers stand out? Why couldn't they twirl their sticks more?"

Oh. Go to hell on that one.

So we as bass players and drummers were feeling a little down.

So we went to a nomeansno show. Not cause we needed cheering up. But, cause we were bored.

nomeansno came out. Like saying to everyone "We made this fucking band. Me and my brother. You wanna see what a fucking drummer and bass player can do? Hold on cause here we go." Man! This album was blasted with things. Insane bass riffs, insane drum rolls, insane guitar riffs, insane lyrics, insane everything. This was their pinnacle. This is why they struggled all those years. To put this out and say "Fuck you. Bassists and drummers are people, too."

Not only that, when I saw this tour, there was something different about the set. Hmm. Is that gonna be there the whole time? The second drums? Shouldn't someone move that? No. Two drummers. It was staying. They were gonna blow shit out with this tour. Two drummers. Wow. All I can remember is my breath being sucked out of me during "The River."

3V12- Nomeansno.jpg To this day, I will never forget the passion on his face as he sang — wait, not sang, almost cried, as one drummer just nailed the double bass drums as hard as he could while Rob's brother just filled in and added drums and more bass drums. The place was dropped. Faces were dropped as well as jaws. The pit stopped and we just watched and tried to get air. They didn't care. You asked why they were called Mr. Happy? They answered. They played the whole album as we sat there and watched in shock and awe.

This was amazing.

This was something to remember forever.

Walking up to them at the end of the show, thanking them for the set. Them looking at me and saying, "It was no big deal. You are welcome."

But is was a big deal.

This was an album to remember. – (T)

NoMeansNo Cats, Sex and Nazis
NoMeansNo – The River
NoMeansNo – I Need You
NoMeansNo – Machine

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About Michele Catalano