Condom Mints (2003)

A bunch of out-takes and live tracks from the final three-piece lineup. Not essential stuff, but there are at least a few interesting things here.

The live version of Gutter Trash is kind of fun, complete with a new improvised opening guitar solo, the unplanned sound of a guy announcing last call over a separate PA system, and some silly Harry Belafonte-referencing scatting about day-old donuts at the end.

How It Shows is probably the closest we ever came to an actual pop song. Tyson once said it sounded like Bob Seger got tossed in a blender with Jesus Christ, which I thought was just about the most hilarious description of “gospel rock” I’d ever heard. Maybe it should have replaced something like “Asphyxiate” on GOOD LUCK IN THE NEXT LIFE instead of being left on the cutting room floor, even if I had to replace Gord’s bass playing with my own a year after the fact because the usual lack of rehearsal left him cold for once.

Ethiopian Salmon is an out-take from SUBLIMINAL BILE, with a cool Middle-Eastern/lost-in-the-desert vibe in the beginning before it loses focus. It’s pleasant enough to listen to and features some nice moments of guitar/bass interplay. Just not really album material. You can hear Gord laughing near the end in approval of my distorted guitar noise, but I think by that point we all knew the song was toast.

Similar story with The Same Difference, ousted from STELLAR. It has its moments but doesn’t seem to know where it wants to go. I didn’t have any solid lyric ideas, and it shows, though Gord and Tyson wouldn’t have objected to it being thrown on the album. At least there’s an interesting rhythmic fake-out at the beginning, a bit near the end where my voice sort of circles what I’m playing on the guitar to cool effect, and some nice lead bass from Gord.

The entire unused first session for STELLAR is here. You get to hear some of that album’s tracks in embryonic form, even if they all pale in comparison to the final versions. That night the inspiration just wasn’t there. Two days later it was another story, when we recorded what became the first half of the album in the space of an hour or two. Compare the one full take of It’s Not Necessary to “Mean It”, which is what that song turned into, and it’s not even a fair fight.

Still, it’s fun to hear “Pigeon Shit” as Hollow, with me and Tyson goofing around at the beginning. And You Could Never Be is an exercise in how much a song can change if you let it, showing up again on the solo CD KEEP YOUR SCARS as a very different creature.

There are two takes on the Papa Ghostface tune Time Again. The live version is probably the best of the two, but neither one can match the original.

Which brings us to the live set. On the one hand, it’s historically important (sort of) because it was pretty much the last time we ever played together as a band. On the other hand, the show was a complete disaster, making the Windsor Sportsman’s Club fiasco (for more on that, take a look at A STONED CONVERSATION in the Other Things section) look like kid’s stuff. Getting into the specifics would entail writing until my fingers killed themselves to end the pain.

To make a long story within a longer story not so long, the dinner banquet we were playing at went on longer than it was supposed to. We were scheduled to take the stage at 9:00 p.m. but didn’t get up there until more than two hours later, because it took that long for the supreme blowhard Ken Bondy to shut the fuck up. By the time we were able to grab our instruments and start playing, a crowd that had been at least a few hundred strong dwindled to almost nothing.

In hindsight, we should have made up a bunch of dirty new songs on the spot as a two-finger salute to the whole situation. But that thought didn’t even enter my mind at the time.

At least one good thing came out of it all —  Larry, a friend from WOHIS, used what little tape he had left in his video camera to record the first two songs we played and found a way to make it look like he had two or three different cameras at his disposal. I recorded audio for most of the songs we played, though a few were lost when I ran out of recording time on the mixer.

We stopped after about an hour. There wasn’t much point in going on any longer, since by then we were playing to an audience of about eight people.

The video footage is nice to have. And it sounds quite a bit better than the songs on CD that were recorded “properly” that night, which makes me wish more than just two songs were captured on camera. Something About Lies kills the original studio version. It’s the best live performance we ever gave, though there isn’t much competition.

The other live tracks are kind of a mixed bag, and the sound quality is flawed. It’s odd. Coming out of the PA the sound was great, but on the mixer things weren’t quite right, with my voice distorted most of the time and one of the mics on the drums making a weird rattling noise. Tyson plays way too fast in some places (not showing up prepared to play seriously for even one rehearsal will lead to that sort of thing), but at least a few things manage to survive with some sexiness intact, like that silly version of Gutter Trash and the defiant-sounding second take on Time Again.

There are also a few demos, one of them a very early, half-developed version of Nicotine and Beer, and an angry little spoken word thing I recorded on my own at the end of the STELLAR sessions. That last one would pop up again on the gargantuan MISFITS compilation some years down the road. Probably should have stuck it on the actual album, just for the halibut.

As the best of the bottom of the barrel goes, this ain’t half bad. It isn’t something I return to often, though.

TRACKS:

We Should Make an Out-takes CD (studio dialogue)
Your Own Kind of Logic (demo)
Nicotine and Beer (demo)
Ethiopian Salmon
How It Shows
Happy, Happier
Time Again
It’s Not Necessary (false start)
It’s Not Necessary (second false start)
It’s Not Necessary (complete take)
You Could Never Be
Hollow
The Same Difference
Mean It (live)
What Else? (live)
Beauty Breeds Confusion (live)
Gutter Trash (live)
Happy Happier (segue)
Rancid Popcorn (live)
Time Again (live)
Electricity (live)
Stop Thinking About It

LISTEN:

How It Shows

You Could Never Be

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