All thanks for this one due to a blog named “Besides” (get it?) for putting this together. For, you see, this isn’t a real B-sides collection! Some audacious bloggeur (or perhaps bloggeuse) made it! And probably put a lot of effort into it, so much appreciated, blog whose comments page I’m not commenting on!
Oddly, and I say “oddly” because this is an entire car-ear we’re talking about here, The Weakerthans have never, not once, released an original song other than on their albums. Weird, huh? I know! So what’s there to find on such a collection? Well:
a) There are two covers – A super catchy version of Phil Ochs’ “Ringing Of Revolution” that totally licks ass, and a still-really-good cover of The Rheostatics’ “Bad Time to be Poor.” Haha, they have ideals! Both are performed in fairly classic indie rock fashion and highly recommended.
b) Two songs by John K. Samson duetting with Christine Somethingorother that aren’t technically Weakerthans songs. “Taps Reversed” is a fairly nice piano ballad, and “Good Salvage” is completely forgettable indie-country.
c) New versions of their own songs that vary a satisfying amount from the familiar versions. “My Favourite Power Chords” is “My Favourite Chords” as a thirty second long pogo speed punk rocker! “Confessions of a Futon Revolutionist” as a Barenaked Ladies-style country background toe-tapper! “Past Due” with soothing guitars! “Everything Must Go” with drums at the beginning (similar to but better than the album version)! “Utilities” in a nearly identical version, and it wasn’t too good to begin with! “Got more faults than the state of California” is an awful line, guys!
d) The B-Sides of “Watermark,” namely live, acoustic versions of “Illustrated Bible Stories for Children” and “The Last Last One” with different instruments. These aren’t the best album tracks ever, but the former sounds neat with soft drums and accordion (always a good idea), while the latter sounds pretty good piano-led instead of guitar-led. Samson’s voice sounds hilariously gay when he says “Keith McLeod everyone!” though! You just gotta hear it!
e) A six-track CBC session of just Johnny Sam and his trusty electric guitar that’s actually really pretty and personal-sounding. Why, there’s everything here, from songs you just knew would sound good unadorned (“Left and Leaving,” “Reconstruction Site,” “One Great City!”) to songs that work surprisingly well (“Psalm for the Elks Lodge Last Call,” “The Reasons”) to songs that weren’t good to begin with (“Utilities” – stop it!). “One Great City!” in particular has completely replaced the album version as the definitive go-to “One Great City!” experience.
I’m going to give it a higher grade than it deserves, most likely, but I’m unfair like that. For a collection of songs with no potential for great new finds, it really holds its own.
John K. Samson got out of bed
Started a band called The Weakerthans
Wrote some songs down from his head
And went right back to bed