do you ever wonder about those ten copies of the brother down ep sam burned fourteen years ago, using his brother’s computer?
i do. like, where’d they go? does sam still have one? does eric? is there one kicking around in a stack of old cds in someone’s basement? is there a shadowbox? if the ebay gods smile and i find one up for grabs online, i would remortgage my house to add the ultimate jewel to my SRB shrine.
for the record, and in case my dad is reading this, i would never remortgage my house to win a cd off ebay, because that’d be just crazy (when i could use rrsps instead).
if you, like me, aren’t one of the lucky ten with a copy of this insanely rare set of mostly unreleased demos, don’t worry. you can find most of the brother down ep on youtube, and you can also stream sam rarities on cbc music.
back in the day, the SRB’s myspace page went behind the music with the man himself sharing stories of his songs. these days, you’ll only find these musical retrospectives on a sadly defunct fan blog, and occasionally here at the bootleg saint, where we shined a light on northstar and the tale of sunny lemon tina a few throwbacks ago.
today’s #tbt is the song got soul (but no money). in 1999, northstar burned out, and the SRB we all know and love today rose from the ashes. sam tells the story way better than i do – hang tight. first, here’s got soul (but no money) . . .
take it away, sam . . .
Allow me, if you will, to vault ahead to the year 2000. We have spent the past two weeks wallowing in the 90’s and I feel like it’s time for a break. Now, this sudden move away from the Northstar Ep before its completion is inspired, in part, by Bob Dylan’s book Chronicles Volume 1. In it, you imagine he is just about to get into the nitty gritty of his rise to stardom – his first few classic albums, what was he thinking when he wrote Highway 61 Revisited, Freewheelin’… before you know it, you’re in New Orleans in the mid 80’s hearing about how Oh Mercy! came into being. So here we are, the year 1999 and the demise of Northstar following one of the worst gigs I hope to ever play. The venue – “Vox” – in downtown Toronto. The crowd – unsympathetic, uninterested, unimpressed. The band – completely lost, dragging-on a version of a song called “Sweet Love” (in my top five worst attempts of all time) for a very uncomfortable amount of time. The result – ten years of music-making and comraderie disintergrates. It was a blow unlike any other I had ever experienced. It was more than just a band breaking up, it was a loss of identity. But maybe it was what needed to happen, maybe it was the catalyst for a shift in our creative direction and a better future. After four months or so, I couldn’t take it anymore… I called up Eric Fares and asked if he thought we could start something new, something different. “It would make my heart full of joy,” he responded, and we decided to see if George Donoso would sit in on drums. He recorded 17 tracks in a couple of hours, laying the rhythmic foundation for what would become the album “Brother Down.” For the next few months, Eric and I went in every day to work on it, recording on the ever-popular 12 track Beta machine. As for the sound quality, our mantra was “it is what it is.” It was more about trying things with songs I’d never tried before. This week’s song, “Got Soul (But No Money)” was, for me anyway, a big departure from my usual approach to writing. A drum machine for the love of god… We never performed it, in fact, outside of a few close friends, no one had ever heard it. Years later, however, my compadre K-os asked me collaborate on song with him. He came up to Montreal on a cold winter’s day and we headed to the studio with no particular plan. I played him a few odds and ends and he latched on to this song. I spent the day recording vocals and guitars, remodelling the original, all the while K-os slept on the sofa. Eight or nine hours later, it was done. My collaborator woke up, looking very refreshed and said “don’t worry, I’m going to flip that shit…” Nothing I’d ever done had been flipped before, so I waited with great interest and some fear for his take on it. The finished product is a song I love, but never expected, called “Dirty Water,” on K-os 2nd album Joyful Rebellion. See you next week when we dig up another dirty little secret together…
in a bizarre twist, i actually heard k-os’ dirty water before i’d ever heard got soul (but no money), and after hearing both, it’s obvious k-os made good on his promise to flip that shit. here’s dirty water by k-os . . .