Monday, August 21, 2006

Barenaked Ladies

I have recently been reading Paul Myers' authorised biography, Barenaked Ladies: Public Stunts, Private Stories and was struck by the similarities and connections between The Barenaked Ladies and Good Question Derek.

I first became aware of The Barenaked Ladies around 1992 when a sound engineer at a gig we were playing in Bracknell said that we sounded like them. The next day I bought their newly released first album, Gordon and played it to the rest of the band. We were all struck by the similarity of mixing lighter songs with bitter-sweet ones together with the fact that we also sounded a bit like them!!!

Another obvious similarity was apparent in the first song of that album, Hello City. Toward the end of the song the chorus changes to that of Happy Hour by The Housemartins. The Housemartins were a major influence on both Marty P and myself, and during our gigs we often played a few of their songs (Happy Hour, Me And The Farmer or The Mighty Ship, including one performance in front of The Housemartins' former bassist Norman Cook aka Fat Man Slim).

One of my favourite albums during my formative teen years was The Ups and Downs by Stephen "Tin Tin" Duffy. Duffy had formed Duran Duran with Nick Tayor whilst attending Birmingham Polytechnic (where Good Question Derek was formed) before leaving to pursue a solo career. By the time I went to Birmingham Poly in 1988 Duffy had formed, and I was listening to, The Lilac Time. Another teenager greatly influenced by Duffy and The Lilac Time was Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies. This influence lead to Page writing to Duffy and the two forming a friendship resulting in Duffy writing a number of songs with Page for the Barenaked Ladies and even members of BNL appearing on stage with The Lilac Time and on several songs on their Lilac6 album.

The Barenaked Ladies' bassist
Jim Creeggan and his brother Andy (a former Barenaked Lady) share a musical influence with Midge. All three were influenced by the dark side of heavy rock and share an interest in Rush, AC/DC and Van Halen.

Another connection with The Barenaked Ladies comes via another Canadian band,
Moxy Fruvous. A tutor of Midge's mentioned to him "if you like Barenaked Ladies, check out Moxy Fruvous". Again, I bought their first album Bargainville and this too became one of my favourites and a definite influence. A year or 2 later we played at Aston University on the same night as Moxy Fruvous and gave them a copy of our Sick Squid CD. A few days later Midge and I went see them perform again, this time at JB's in Dudley) and were blown away to be mentioned during one of their songs - they had listened to the CD and had liked what they heard! The connection with Barenaked Ladies is that they were friends with the members of Moxy Fruvous (through the Toronto music scene) and Moxy Fruvous appear on If I Had $1,000,000 on the Gordon album. What a small world!

I guess when you mix the influences of The Housemartins, Stephen Duffy, Moxy Fruvous, Rush, AC/DC and Van Halen you get a band that sounds a bit like Good Question Derek and The Barenaked Ladies!!! If you have never heard The Barenaked Ladies (or never heard anything other than their only major UK hit "One Week") then I suggest you check out their first album
Gordon, or to hear what (perhaps) Good Question Derek would have sounded like in 2000 (with Dan Was producing) check out the excellent Maroon.

2 comments:

Marty P said...

I actually sent a GQD CD to Jim Creeggan too - about 10 years back, and got a letter back saying how much they liked the music. I can't remember what happened to the letter, or Jim Creeggan, or the CD for that matter. Do I win £5?

Marty P said...

I have recently been reading Paul Myers' authorised biography, Barenaked Ladies: Public Stunts, Private Stories and was struck by the similarities and connections between The Barenaked Ladies and Good Question Derek.

Indeed... 15+ years at the top of their game and the number one selling act in Canada.