My dad is badass. Not in a ranking-officer-in-the-Hell’s-Angels kind of way (because, seriously, presumptions and stereotyping aside, I think we can all agree that creative writing wouldn’t be a likely pastime if that were my background), but in a god-damn-can-my-dad-bust-out-some-serious-beats kind of way.
Following are five tracks from albums my dad has in his collection or, in the case of the last item, has provided to me as a gift. Other than Pink Floyd I think you’re going to cop a few surprises: consider that my dad is a French Canadian raised on the same
distant and frigid ice moon sparsely-populated plains of rural Canada as I. Except a few decades earlier. Together, these tracks coupled with that image to ponder upon will quite likely convince you that my old man is one badass mofo.
Pink Floyd – On The Run
I find it hard to believe that once upon a time I didn’t like Pink Floyd. I suspect it must be common to all youth to think that anything older than what’s charting currently is “ghey”, because that’s my best defence other than guilty by way of insanity. At any rate, after many teenage years spent despising dad’s ‘stupid Pink Floyd albums’, I woke one morning to the sound of Dark Side of the Moon blasting away just outside my bedroom (a clever way for dad to disrupt my slackful late-morning slumber). It was like the proverbial light had gone on inside my headspace, and I suddenly understood the awesome that is Floyd.
Ice-T feat. Jello Biafra – Shut Up, Be Happy
My dad picked up Ice-T’s The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech… Just Watch What You Say (seriously, Ice-T: did the title really need to be that long?) within a year of its release in 1989. That was my first year of high school. This was in the neighbourhood of when I read Orwell’s Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four (both borrowed from my dad’s badass library). You put repeated listening of this album together with the dangerously beautiful warnings in those dystopian classics in the same young mind and you end up with one supernova-sized catalyst for a lot of the political leanings I still hold.
New Order – Round & Round
I’d have to say 1989 was a monumental year, in terms of the music landscape, and my growth into a full-fledged music snob. On the same shopping trip as the Ice-T album, dad picked up New Order’s fifth album, Technique. This album got a lot of play, and put me ahead of the curve when all the other kids in high school were only discovering New Order in the latter half of high school. Not that being one of the music literati has ever helped me the way it has Jack Black, and most certainly not in the Klingon salt mine that I attended high school in. On the other hand, my Dungeons and Dragons characters had more bitchin’ soundtracks than anyone else’s.
Yello – Le Secret Farida
Yello is this kinda out there performance-art-meets-bizarro-techno outfit from Switzerland. They’re most famous for that “Oh Yeah” song from Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Listening to Yello really nudged me along towards the understanding that you could uncover an ass-load of merit in “out there” music if the production was tight enough or it bored through your skull and graffitied twisted and crazy-dark fantasy worlds on the walls of your mind. Also highly recommended, from another Yello CD in dad’s collection: Tied Up (In Fantasia).
Kool Moe Dee – 50 Ways
So dad scored me Kool Moe Dee’s How Ya Like Me Now and Young MC’s Stone Cold Rhymin’ at the same time (honourable mention for this entry goes to Young MC’s Know How for sampling the theme song from Shaft). I could have veered toward either, but I decided to give props to Mr. Dee because he doesn’t get the “retro”-inspired airplay Mr. MC does. It’s almost certainly these two albums that led me to Eric B. & Rakim, Gang Starr, KRS-1, LL Cool J, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and the title of “Blackest White Man in Canada” from a number of my equally not-black friends in our little corner of the vast North American prairies. Yep, 50 Ways is saddled with cheesy 80s rap, but these beats are from the cusp of sample-based production moving from the sideline into the mainstream. Yeah, I’m a music snob. Didn’t we cover that already?
PS: Dad, I’m sorry I ever played all those super-shitty “Euro Mega Hits 199x” and “Club Dance Hits 199x” compilations on your stereo. It will so not ever happen again.
PPS: Dad, I also hope you’ve enjoyed this article. Merry Festivus, and thanks!