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Some Squeeze Box Man Commentary (Part 3)

Many songs are referenced in Squeeze Box Man. Although NPK are a so-called “polka-punk” band, they actually play a huge variety of covers as well as their originals and those covers are all over the place musically. One of the things about this band is their ability to filter different genres of music through their own sound and approach. Here are the songs referenced by volume with examples.

VOLUME 1

The first song referenced in the novel is a polka classic called She Likes Kielbasa Better than Fish. Here are the Dynatones playing it.

The next reference is radically different. Staashu and Lazy go to a basement punker bar in Kensington Market and hear the Young Street Strip play Too Drunk to Fuck. Here are the Dead Kennedys.

They also play I Want to be Sedated, the Ramones ditty.

The last song reference in Volume 1 has The Strip playing again, this time another Dead Kennedys tune, California Uber Alles.

VOLUME 2

The first song referenced in Volume 2 is not played by Lazy or NPK but is sung off-key by a supervisor at the Bottle & Can. It’s I Ain’t Got Nobody, the Louis Prima song.

The next song is being performed by West King’s band, which Staashu played keyboards for. It’s a soul tune called Cry to Me, recorded by Solomon Burke.

That’s just before James Brown appears. I don’t know if James Brown ever sat in with a band at a club in Toronto. He did play up here though, at the Mimicombo Roller Rink. In my imagination, Mr. Brown played Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag with the band.

The last song referenced in Volume 2 is the Li’l Wally song, Johnny’s Knocking.

VOLUME 3

When the Boneyard Show opens, Lazy steps to the microphone and delivers the famous spoken word intro to Chubby Checker’s Let’s Twist Again.

There is just one more song reference in Volume 3 – to Ian Dury’s anthemic masterpiece Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

VOLUME 4

There is just one song mentioned in Volume 4 but it’s a great one, the Tex-Mex-pop classic 96 Tears by ? and the Mysterians.

VOLUME 5

There are 3 songs referenced in Volume 5. The first is a song which is sometimes called the first rock ‘n’ roll song, Rocket 88. Here’s James Cotton with a fabulous live performance. Many years ago I heard an interview with Mr. Cotton in which he claimed to have co-written the song with Ike Turner. On record, it’s credited to Jackie Brenston, the singer and sax player in the King’s of Rhythm.

The second song in Volume 5 also goes back to the 1950s. It’s Lee Dorsey’s Ya Ya.

During Staashu and Sabina’s break-up scene, the lyrics to Tainted Love appear. Lazy would have heard the 1981 Soft Cell version but you can bet he also knew the 1964 original by performed by Gloria Jones and written by Ed Cobb.

VOLUME 6

When NPK does their northern tour, they played a real venue, the Kee to Bala. It seemed right they should perform a song set in Northern Ontario so I had them play Algoma Central 69 by Stompin Tom.

When Boomer proposes to Ndidi on stage, Maggie starts the band playing The Chapel of Love by the Dixie Cups.

The last song referenced in Volume 6 is another polka classic, No Beer in Heaven. Here’s a fabulous contemporary version by Atongo Zimba.

VOLUME 7

The first song in Volume 7 is Hank Snow’s I’m Movin’ On. It foreshadows Staashu’s behaviour later in the story.

Zosia, I’ve mentioned in a previous post. After that, it’s Dancing in the Street, a song NPK’s producer Ricky Diamond insists the band plays. Here’s Martha and the Vandellas.

The final song Squeeze Box Man is played by Lazy and Dakota. It’s Shake, Rattle & Roll. I imagined they would play it much like Rod Bernard and Clifton Chenier did with a blistering accordion part. It’s love at first sight for Dakota and Lazy, a big love, and it completes Lazy Allen’s transformation.

*****

If you’re interested in copies of any or all of the issues of Squeeze Box Man, email me. Cost is $12 + $3 shipping to anywhere for any individual issues. Payment within Canada is by e-transfer. For customers outside Canada, payment is by Paypal.

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