Thursday, April 30, 2020

DOA's Treason: Potent and Timely, plus a new video with Mayor Mike Hurley!

DOA's new album Treason has Joe, Mike Hodsall, and Paddy Duddy - the fiercest lineup of DOA of the 21st century - continuing to mine the sweet spot they found on Hard Rain Falling and Fight Back, making tight, fast, lean-and-mean, guitar-driven political hardcore without frills or false steps. There's a savage version of "Fucked Up Donald" which is easily the most welcome-and-appropriate reworking of "Fucked Up Baby" since the days of "Fucked Up Ronnie." There's a revamp of "Just Got Back from the USA," one of the catchier tunes from Fight Back, and another song about corruption in the Trump regime, "All The President's Men." (Almost all of the political songs are directed at the current situation in the USA, with even "Wait Til Tomorrow," about the plight of refugees, taking in US treatment of them, talking, for example, about children ripped from their mother's arms on arrival in the USA). And there are plenty of killer licks from Joe, like the one behind the title track, "It's Treason," which, at 1:42, is the second-shortest song off the album ("Fucked Up Donald" is 1:11). If I had Chain Whip's 14 Lashes around, it would be fun to compare the runtime, to see which album presents a full hardcoremeal in the shortest amount of time. Treason is a fast, fun, gut-punch of a record...

...and it even breaks new ground, which is impressive for a band that's been around over forty years: Paddy Duddy takes the lead vocal for a song about the experience of playing in DOA ("It Was DOA") which is the funniest self-referential DOA song since Wimpy wrote "Big Guys Like DOA" some decades ago (if you missed that, it's at 23:52 on this rip of The Black Spot; as someone constantly hoping for 3XL t-shirts at shows, and often being disappointed, I was kinda delighted to discover someone had written a song along these lines. BTW, Joe, if you're reading this, I still want a 3XL "repent you fucking savages" War on 45 t-shirt!). Keithley wrote the lyrics for "It was DOA," and plays himself in the song, but it's narrated  mostly from the point of view of a long-suffering DOA member. Fun to see that Joe is comfortable poking fun at himself: "I’ll only give you five bucks a day/ but if you’re any good, you’ll get a raise in pay/ Your bed’s all ready on the floor of the van/ if you need to take a piss, just grab a beer can.”

Another first on Treason: DOA covers a Neil Young tune. DOA's reading of "Hey Hey My My" is nearly perfect, and, believe it or not, is almost better than Nomeansno's, with one small reservation.
Much as I love Nomeansno, when they covered that tune for the FUBAR soundtrack, they made a sort of mid-tempo dirge out of it, focusing on the feelings of mortality present in the lyrics; just like "Victory" (as Rob Wright once observed when playing the song live) is actually about failure, Nomeansno emphasize the mortality behind that song's denial of mortality, making it kind of a depressing experience overall, befitting the period in which it was written (around the time of One, Nomeansno's darkest, heaviest album). DOA goes simpler, faster, tighter, playing the song like a straight-up rock anthem - but, like that other great "conflicted anthem" of Neil Young's catalogue, "Rockin' in the Free World," that's kind of how it's supposed to be; when Rob Wright, on the FUBAR soundtrack, sings, "rock'n'roll will never die," you think about dying, but when Joe sings it, you think about rock'n'roll - which is truer to the song's point, making you complicit in the denial at hand, if that makes sense. The only thing that holds DOA back from beating Nomeansno's version is that - in the spirit of lean-and-mean, I guess, or maybe because it would be hard to replicate a lengthy solo live without a rhythm guitarist - DOA rips through the song in just over three and a half minutes, with a very brief, almost shy-seeming guitar solo; Tom Holliston does a much better  job of capturing the flavour of Crazy Horse-style guitar worship, soloing energetically throughout the Nomeansno version, which lasts a full two minutes longer, most of which is down to soloing. That is the only thing that keeps the DOA cover from owning the Nomeansno cover hands down: the longer, more Neil-ish solo.

That said, "Hey Hey My My" is going to be one hell of a welcome song to hear live if DOA get back on the road (their Treason tour. meant to lead up to the American elections, was interrupted midway through by COVID-19, and 22 dates had to be cancelled, Joe tells me). Maybe he could team up with a second guitarist so he could do a Crazy-Horse sized solo? (BTW the new Neil Young and Crazy Horse album is sounding pretty good, too).

In any event, this is three absolutely killer albums from DOA in a row, now. (Great cover art, too!). It is maybe a little less packed than Fight Back (the best of the three, if you wonder), but it's still pretty fresh. I gather the vinyl pressing of Treason has been held up a bit, but it's open for pre-orders, here; the CD, meanwhile, is already pressed and should be available for online orders soon.

One other bit of news for DOA fans is that Joe has enlisted Burnaby Mayor Mike Hurley (DOA's newest bassist?) in recording a new song, "We're All in This Together," apropos of the COVID-19 crisis. Usually Joe's music career is the thing that bleeds over into his political life, but it's neat to see it happening the other way around this time. I met Mike Hurley at a pre-election rally, was impressed, and voted for him (and Joe, too). Joe explains, "I wrote the song as a rallying cry to help keep people's spirits up during the pandemic and also to thank our front line workers. We also emphasize social distancing, as you will see from the video." There's a short version here, and a longer one, with a second verse, here.

Mayor Hurley adds, in the press release for the song, “Joe wrote this great song, and I hope it energizes and fortifies people to stay strong. It captures the community’s grit and determination that we see all around us today, and calls on us to double down on our commitment to each other and beat COVID-19.”

Some decent bass playin', there, Mayor!

1 comment:

David M. said...