Uncle Steve - Labour Of Caring

Year of Release: 1992
Label: Beer Weazl Production
Catalog Number: n/a
Format: CD
Total Time: 36:03:00

If Neil Young and Fred Schneider (B52s) got together and had love child, it'd be Stephen McPhail. Add in a sense of humor a la "Weird" Al Yankovich and a dash of Saturday Night Live regular Horatio Sanz singing "I Wish It Were Christmas Today" ("Play It By Ear" is the example here, though it predates Sanz on SNL by about 8 years) and you will have an idea of ... well ... how I hear this at least. Under the name Uncle Steve, Labour Of Caring is a self-produced release by this Canadian guitarist/vocalist.

Labour Of Caring is one part twangy country rock and one part blues rock. I guess I would say that Uncle Steve sound(s) like a bar band - a backwoods bar where beer is the drink of choice, not your swank city bar - and that is indeed where he has plied his music trade. It starts energetically enough with "Wet Pavement," which makes me think also of Rick Ray, perhaps also because of the odd placement here of Liam Coleman on sax. The line up is rounded out by Robi Banerji on guitar and percussion, Mark Villman on bass, and Darrell Gasparini on drums and keys.

"Forever" sounds very much like something Young would do (think a mellower "Rockin' In The Free World"). Perhaps not incidently, but incidently Young is also Canadian. There is also an element of Creedence Clearwater Revival to the music overall, as I kept thinking of "Sweet Hitchhiker." Reading the bio on McPhail's site (also his BeerWeazl label site), we learn the following: "Whenever asked about the kind of music he writes, Steve used to comment on the influences of southern country blues & cajun music. However, Steve was inspired by the Canadian comedians, 'the Mackenzie Brothers' & their jokes about the 'mercans' south of the border & us 'canajuns' in the 'great white north'. Ever since, not being comfortable with defining himself in terms of 'mercan culture', Steve began to see himself as a 'canajun', historically & culturally, the essence of all things Canadian." So, mentioning the "swamp rock" of CCR is not totally farfetched, though even with CCR, rather than Lousiana and the deep south, the band hailed from just outside San Francisco.

By the way, for those who don't know who the Mackenzie Brothers were, actors Dave Thomas (not the late Wendy's Restaurants owner/spokesperson) and Rick Moranis had a skit on SCTV -- a Canadian version of sorts of Saturday Night Live. There's likely a longer history, but that is at least how this pair entered the consciousness of some of the US populace about 1980-1981 or so. They had a single "Take Off" we featured a guest vocal from another famous Canadian, Rush's Geddy Lee, which appeared on a full-length comedy album Great White North.

It's not a bad album, though not everything works for me personally. "Spell Breaker," with its chunky, deep bass riff and simple rhythm and the easy going "Forever" are the two I like the most. "Dragon Blues" is a bluesy country number that is catchy, has the kind of snarly growl one hears from the likes of say Garth Brooks or ... Toby Keith, the latter is the fella getting a lot of air time with his commercial for Ford trucks here the US (don't fret, I had to research who it was; I didn't just know). A nice prog diversion with a bit of humour, but if you don't like twangy country with slide guitar, then...

Wet Pavement (4:26) / Forever (3:19) / Dragon Blues (2:52) / The Feeling (3:11) / Spell Breaker (4:12) / Sweet Music (3:42) / Wonking (2:56) / The Neighbourhood (3:40) / Play It By Ear (4:11) / Tumbleweed Friend (3:34)

Steve McPhail - vocals, guitar and percussion
Robi Banerji - guitar, percussion
Mark Villman - bass
Darrell Gasparini - drums, keys
Backing vocals - Aunties: Didi, Renee, Monika
Uncles: Robi, Darrell, Mark

Labour Of Caring (1992)
Story Book Blues (1996)
Canajun Blues (1998)
Hunger Of The Heart (2002?)

Genre: Rock

Origin CA

Added: November 3rd 2002
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.beerweazl.com
Hits: 583
Language: english


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