"96 Tears" - 2010
1. 96 Tears
2. Dead Flowers
3. This Is The Day
4. How Many More Years
5. Good Morning Heartache
6. Oh Sweet Nuthin'
7. Love That Burns
8. Move Over
9. Travellin' Light
10. Cars Hiss By My Window
11. These Arms Of Mine
12. Dust Pneumonia Blues
Sisters Euclid feat. Sandy Dillon & Ray Majors – 96 Tears
The memory is a strange thing. You’ve heard a million songs in your life, but only a few really matter in the end, determined by experience. “96 Tears” is a record about songs that matter. It’s a record about having some fun with your memories and the past. It could also be an album about breaking through to the other side of pain and darkness. But you must find out for yourself…
On this album you will find songs made famous by Question Mark & The Mysterians, The Rolling Stones, Captain Beefheart, Howlin’ Wolf, Billie Holiday, The Velvet Underground, Fleetwood Mac (mark 1), Janis Joplin, The Doors, Otis Redding and Woody Guthrie. All of them musical legends, some of them cultural heroes. This batch of songs represents musical history in different kinds of ways – from the obscure to the iconic. Reinventing classic songs in an original kind of way is no mean feat. But after having re-invented classics from the Neil Young oeuvre a while back (Run Neil Run, T & M 035), fabulous Sisters Euclid from Toronto have done it yet again. With fantastic support by avant blues vocalist Sandy Dillon and her guitar-playing partner Ray Majors. It’s a transatlantic combination that really works, with American exile Sandy Dillon’s highly individualistic artistic sensibility acting as a bridge between the multi-facted musical worlds.
Sisters Euclid can play (almost) everything under the sun. Led by guitar maestro Kevin Breit - a veteran of countless studio sessions from Norah Jones to Cassandra Wilson - the band has been around for more than ten years now. Their weekly residence at Toronto’s “Orbit Room” has made them a legend in their homeland, mainly because of the expertise and passion they bring to the very eclectic nature of their repertoire. The line-up still consists of Kevin Breit (guitars), Rob Gusevs (keyboards), Ian de Souza (bass) and Gary Taylor (drums). They are all musical virtuosos - but team-players all the same.
This song-collection was recorded in Bremen in late November 2006. Here’s what’s on the album:
96 Tears (R. Martinez)
When Rudy Martinez (AKA “Question Mark”) and The Mysterians came up with “96 Tears” around 1962, they probably didn’t expect their effort winning a place among the best rock songs of all time. A piece of garage rock from Michigan made for eternity, originating punk rock, with ten of thousands of bands taking inspiration from it’s trademark riff and quirky energy. The riff is here as well, with Sandy’s vocal stylings reminding us of Patti Smith and her quasi-religious beliefs in the power of music. “Too many teardrops for one heart to carry on…”
Dead Flowers (Jagger/Richards)
Not everybody likes The Rolling Stones playing country music, but they’ve proven many times they can do it. This song from “Sticky Fingers” (1971) was one of their first efforts in this vein, with dark lyrics mentioned drug abuse. Sandy Dillon brings out the scary aspects of the song, with Breit’s slide guitar providing licks to rival the best of the Nashville masters.
This Is The Day (D. Van Vliet)
Don Van Vliet AKA Captain Beefheart has inspired many avant blues people and Sandy Dillon is no exception. But “This Is The Day” is unusually playful by the Captain’s standards, a visit on the brighter side of romance and love. But something is looming underneath and/or around the corner…. It may be Beefheart’s closeness to Howlin’ Wolf, the ultimate bluesman, who delivered the vocal blueprint for Beefheart and later vocal incarnations of Tom Waits…
How Many More Years (C. Burnett)
Originally recorded in 1951, “How Many More Years” is a classic tune, re-invented by Sisters Euclid in a funky half-time groove, with Sandy’s vocals drifting in and out with fierce abandon. This is Sisters Euclid at their very best. Play it loud!
Good Morning Heartache (Drake / Fisher / Higginbotham)
The other side of Wolf: the jazz ballad tradition as embodied by Billie Holiday. She may be gone for half a century but is still around in spirit. “Good Morning Heartache” was recorded by Lady Day in 1946 during a particularly difficult time in her life. The song was brought back to the contemporary jazz repertoire many times by a plethora of singers. But not many of them know how to suffer so exquisitely real as Sandy Dillon.
Oh Sweet Nuthin’ (L. Reed)
Lou Reed was gone from The Velvet Underground for the release of their “Loaded” album in 1970, but he left some amazing songs behind for his former band: “Sweet Jane”, “Rock and Roll” and “Oh Sweet Nuthin’”. With their take on the tune, Sisters Euclid inject a little groove and dynamism into it, riding the groove and thus making the protagonists’ cruel fate a little easier to endure…. Jimmy Brown, Ginger Brown, Polly May and Joanna Love may have got nothin’ at all, but the music provides a fresh kind of energy. So maybe it’s just temporary… or not.
Love That Burns (P.A. Green)
An early masterpiece by Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac and a song originally released in 1968, on the band’s second album “Mr. Wonderful”. It’s a desolate tale of love gone wrong and passion grown cold. This new version is steeped in emotion and marked by a magical and hypnotic sense of blues power.
Move Over (J. Joplin)
When she was in her early twenties, Sandy Dillon lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York, performing in clubs and later on landing a role on Broadway as Janis Joplin. In early 1971, “Move Over” was the leading track on Janis’ posthumously released fourth album “Pearl”. The rock legend’s tragic fate has stuck around in many people’s hearts and so has this song. Sandy Dillon sings it as a survivor, carrying the torch.
Travellin’ Light (Mundy / Young / Mercer)
One more Billie tribute, emphasising the special place she holds in Sandy Dilons musical universe. The mood is bleak and the message of light travel darkly ironic. This unwanted kind of freedom truly hurts and Sandy Dillon’s voice delivers, with Sisters Euclid providing the aural equivalent of an unhappy life in slow motion. But there is movement still.
Cars Hiss By My Window (Krieger / Densmore / Morrison / Manzarek)
Darkness also seems to be the governing factor in what Jim Morrison and The Doors had to offer. The loneliness in being together, in this case. This song was recorded for The Doors’ most bluesy album, “L.A. Woman” from 1971, with Morrison being on the home stretch of his earthly existence. Sandy Dillon & Sisters Euclid may move within The Doors’ musical domain in this case, but they do it with grace and determination.
These Arms Of Mine (O. Redding)
It doesn’t get any lighter with Otis Redding’s classic ballad of lovesick yearning and loneliness, pleading for someone to come over to ease this wonderful pain… .
Dust Pneumonia Blues (W. Guthrie)
The album ends on a tough note. One of Woody Guthrie’s famed Dust Bowl Ballads, “Dust Pneumonia Blues” harks back to a piece of pitiless real life if ever there was one in music. Death and disease are at the end of the protagonists’ journey and it’s a somewhat unforgiving but cathartic close of the album.
And there it is. “96 Tears” - a dark cycle of songs that may lead you to a different place… With challenging re-interpretations of songs that have lived for a long time and will continue to do so. This recording will add to their longevity, with a panoramic choice of repertoire harking back to some of the greatest music ever made and the artists who made it. Looking back and looking forward. Real music will never go out of style. This album stands as a “piece de résistance” against the shallowness of corporate pop culture.