Here’s a Kim Mitchell two-fer for ya! Once again it’s Epic Review Time!
‘Twas Thomas who alerted me to the existence of Kim Mitchell’s cover of “Sudbury Satuday Night”. He had heard about it from one of his customers, when Tom owned his own record store. Somebody came in and said to him, “I heard a new Kim Mitchell song on the radio. I don’t know what it’s called or where it’s from, all I remember are the opening words. ‘The girls are out to Bingo, and the boys are gettin’ stinko,'” he recited.
Tom immediately recognized that as the opening line to Stompin’ Tom Connors‘ classic song, “Sudbury Saturday Night”. He called me at my store to ask what Kim album it was on. I didn’t have a clue. I didn’t know he had recorded anything since 1994’s Itch.
He had. This cover appeared on the Canadian compilation CD Summer Dock Party. And what of it? How does one cover Stompin’ Tom? Well, for Kim Mitchell, it’s a harder rockin’ version of the song, complete with accordion and an electric guitar solo. I’ve grown to like it more over the years. It’s hard to overlook the sheer joy in Kim’s vocal. No matter how you feel about the sanctity of covering Stompin’ Tom, I think Kim’s version has plenty of merit.
Great cover…not-so-great CD cover though! What would Irish Jim O’Connel and Scotty Jack Macdonald say about that front cover? That sure doesn’t depict gettin’ stinko, or represent “Cause everything is wonderful, tonight we had a good fight,” to me!
*I was surprised to find a completely different studio recording of this same song on Youtube. Further investigation is required.
KIM MITCHELL – Kimosabe (1999 Chinook)
I think Kimosabe is about separation. I read that Kim was going through a divorce around this time, and perhaps the lyrics reflect that. Additionally, there was another separation, as once again Kim parted with his long time writing partner Pye Dubois. The two had a falling out after 1989’s Rockland, due to Kim’s decision to record in Los Angeles, without Pye present, as he had been for all of Kim’s previous albums. The two reconciled for 1994’s Itch, but appear to have separated once again, because Kimosabe was written with Andy Curran (Coney Hatch) handling the lyrics rather than Pye. I don’t know what happened.
Nothing against Andy Curran, but without Pye Dubois, lyrics lose some of their poetry. That’s Pye, that’s what he brings to the table. Having said that, I think by now, most Kim Mitchell fans are looking for a catchy song to sing along to. Curran does fine. Kim himself wrote two of the lyrics himself (“Cold Reality” and “Over Me”, two of the best songs).
The opening duo, “Monkey Shine” and “Stickin’ My Heart” are both rockers. “Monkey Shine” is très bien; they’re not trying to re-invent the wheel on any of these songs. They’re just doing what they do well, and that’s providing some good Canadian party rock. These are “stock” kind of songs. Reliable, not particularly possessing personality, but getting the job done. TCB, baby.
“Cellophane” is a funky blues. At this point I’ll point out the groove of drummer Randy Cooke, one of my Canadian favourites. You may have heard him with Rik Emmett or the Four Horsemen among others. Kim’s very slick and lyrical guitar playing is in the spotlight of this outstanding track.
Things start to cloudy with “Two Steps Home”. Not that it’s a bad song, quite the contrary. But this is where the party stops. There’s a lot of feeling in this quiet ballad. As far as sheer songwriting goes, Kim should be proud of this one. Still, I feel the playing really shines brightly, guitar and drums both.
After a tune like that, I need a rocker, and Kim delivers with the title track, “Kimosabe”, a pun on the phrase “ke-mo sah-bee”, popularized in the 1930’s by The Lone Ranger. Strangely enough the lyrics also contain the German phrase “auf Wiedersehen”, proving Andy Curran doesn’t mind putting three languages together in one song.
My favourite song is “Blow Me A Kiss”. This outstanding track begins as a melancholy piano ballad, but transforms by the chorus into a bright, light rocker. I would rank this track among Kim Mitchell’s best solo songs, without a doubt. Randy Cooke really kicks this one in the ass.
“Cold Reality” also has a melancholy character to it. This one starts a ballad and stays a ballad, and speaks of getting over the end of a relationship. “Halleluiah baby, I am healing. This pain and rage I felt for years is finally leaving.” This is one that Kim wrote the lyrics for himself, and as I said earlier, it’s not poetry, but when he sings it, I can feel something, you know?
Back to something a little more upbeat, “Over Me” has a modern funky vibe to it, of the light-rock variety. Divorce seems to be the theme again, so we’re not hanging out in party rock land, but it’s musically upbeat and catchy. By the chorus, Kim’s singing, “One thing’s for sure, I’m going to get over you, just like you got over me,” and who can’t relate to that?
My least favourite song is the slinky blues, “Get Back What’s Gone”, featuring the great Canadian singer Lisa DalBello. In think this is a case of, “It’s not you, it’s me.” There’s nothing wrong with this well-executed blues, it’s just not clicking with me. It may with you, especially if you want to hear DalBello just sing some blues.
Album close “Skinny Buddah” is one of those lyrics where I just shrug and say, “OK, guys, whatever!” I have no idea what it’s about, but it’s a good solid rock song on which to close an album that I would consider to be a bit of a comeback.
Except it wasn’t. Kimosabe didn’t sell, and it would be eight whole years before Kim would release another album (2007’s Ain’t Life Amazing). That’s too bad. Given the chance, I think that this album could have introduced a new, “more mature” Kim, still fun, but now with a more serious side. The album could have delivered a couple of hits. Too bad that isn’t the way it turned out. Bummer.