How Does It Feel to Be Loved: The Scenics Play the
As review by Jeffrey Morgan (Creem Magazine) in the Detroit Metro Times: 'SIZZLING PLATTER OF THE WEEK: The Scenics - How Does It Feel to Be Loved: The Scenics Play the Velvet Underground (Dream Tower) :: Only a madman would dare to start picking his Top 10 Albums of 2008 in the first week of January, but this is one record that's got me gnawing on my straitjacket. Recorded live in a number of trashy Toronto punk dives between 1977 and 1981, it's the first album of Velvet Underground covers I've ever heard that actually manages to evoke the VU's classic cacophony of studio sound.... doesn't seek to duplicate the Velvets' sound so much as it uses that primal distortion as a jumping off point to differentiate themselves from the masters while remaining true to the source. The fact that all 10 numbers were recorded, in true live Velvets tradition, on a buncha crappy cassette tapes doesn't tarnish the Scenics' sonic patina - it only enhances their chances of making this the best VU tribute album ever... They also mine the less-obvious depths of Unca Lou's songbook to essay what are arguably some of his greatest songs... Finally, it all culminates literally live in a basement with a twisted 10-minute Metal Machine Music-meets-Television version of 'Sister Ray' that even John Cale never envisioned in his wildest nightmares. The Scenics don't ape the Velvets, they enhance them' As reviewed in the Toronto Star in 'Ben Rayner's Reasons to Live': ' there's plenty more in which to delight on this archival curio collecting four years' worth of live Velvet Underground covers performed by first-wave Toronto punk band the Scenics between 1977 and 1981. The recordings - captured about town in such scenester haunts past as the Edge, Larry's Hideaway, the Cabana Room and the venerable Horseshoe Tavern - aren't exactly pristine, but the Scenics' irreverent, slightly woozy way with a Lou Reed tune, and gift for shrieking twin-guitar meltdowns, comes through just fine. Constant chatter in the background of some tunes contributes to the overall feeling of psychedelic dislocation the band brought to songs like 'Here She Comes Now' and it's take-no-prisoners assault on 'Sister Ray.' A dandy little history lesson. THE SCENICS were formed in 1976 in Toronto by Ken Badger and Andy Meyers. For six years they engaged and enraged local audiences by not playing by the punk rules of the day. Their notorious reputation obscured the fact, that in Meyers and Badger, THE SCENICS had two of the New Wave's most striking songwriters. That their two guitar attack equalled anything New York or London had to offer. And that their wild creativity meant that any SCENICS performance was an adventure. 'The Scenics were truly modern. With Influences ranging from Tommy James to John Coltrane, they had a vast repretoire and such a level of intensity. I loved them for searching out new ideas, for being fun loving, always wildly exciting, and so contradictory. They were perfect!' Gary Topp, promoter, Toronto. (Toronto Arts Award, 1995) 'My favorite Toronto band, and having seen them play or rehearse well over a dozen times, I NEVER heard them play the same version of a song twice. They were the most creative, the most daring, the most original, and the most misunderstood-- of all the bands in that scene. And DO THE WAIT was the coolest dance tune ever.' Colin Brunton, film-maker (the Last Pogo, Hedwig and the Angry Inch) Scenics Timeline -Summer of 77- first recordings, with guest drummer Mark French (later of Blue Rodeo). -September 16, 77- Scenics' coming out party, opening for the Talking Heads at the New Yorker Theatre. -October 77- more recordings, with their new drummer, hard rocking Bradley Cooper. These first two demos, while never released, make the rounds of the Toronto music underground. -March 1978- Scenics filmed performing 8 songs for "Mystery Train", Toronto cable TV show. -June 1978- Scenics play two nights with the Troggs and the Viletones, a show Now magazine called "one of the five most memorable punk shows" at the Horseshoe Tavern. -Oct 78- More recording at Kinck Sound -December 1978- Scenics filmed and recorded at "The Last Pogo", two day Toronto Punk Festival. Two Scenics' songs featured on the Last Pogo LP, (bomb records 7029) and the Scenics play "I Wanna Touch" in the Toronto punk film "The Last Pogo". -March 1979- Scenics record their LP "Underneath the Door" (bomb 114) at Comfort Sound. Released 1980. -Sept/Oct 80- Scenics tour as part of "Bomb Tour 80", first Punk and New Wave performed at Ontario Colleges and Universities. -Nov 1980- Scenics record and release a 45 "Karen/See Me Smile" (Scenic Route Records). Only studio recording featuring the Scenics' quartet lineup, featuring Mark Perkell on drums and Ken Fox (currently long-time member of the Fleshtones) on bass. -May 82- Scenics play their last show, at the Cabana Room, Toronto. -Jan 2008- Scenics release "How Does it Feel to be Loved: The Scenics play the Velvet Underground". (Dream Tower Records DT01. Distributed by Scratch Distributing/ Sonic Unyon distribution.) CD is recorded over the full life of the Scenics- "New Age" from their first gig in March 77, "Real Good Time" from the Horseshoe show with the Troggs in 78. Evenly split between trio and quartet line ups. (Mike Young shares bass duties with Ken Fox in the four piece.) Recordings go right up to the summer of 81, when the Scenics were regularly slotting six song Velvets mini-sets into their performances. April 2008 Scenics reform original line up and play shows in Ontario. Band is as strong as ever. (videos up on youtube and myspace). June 2008 more shows, including NXNE festival. June 2008 NXNE film festival finale is a double bill of 'The Last Pogo' (featuring the Scenics, Viletones, Teenage Head) and the video for the Scenics' version of 'Waiting for my Man' (from their 'How does it Feel..' CD Coming Nov 2008- 'The Last Pogo' DVD, with video of 6 Scenics performances, filmed 1978, as an extra feature. -As Reviewed in the Canadian rock mag "Exclaim!" "Kicking off like a frayed electric shock, How Does It Feel To Be Loved quickly immerses the listener into a warm frenzy of fuzzy energy... The Scenics were one of the most intrepidly inspired bands of the Toronto new wave/punk scene... They now return with a full-length collection of Velvet Underground covers recorded live between 1977 and 1981 in Toronto. At their inception, the Scenics were fuelled by the sense of rampant possibility that the oncoming new wave scene carried... this album is rife with the inventive fervour that drove them. Although these are classic Velvet Underground songs, from "Waiting For My Man" to "Here She Comes Now," the Scenics have made this into something that is all theirs. Jangly, inverted pop aesthetics and wild mood swings of feverish noise dominate these ten tracks, making How Does It Feel To Be Loved an abrasive wash of harmonious distortion. What made you decide to release a covers album now? Meyers: It is kind of funny, because our songs were one of the strong points of the band, but we did do a lot of Velvet Underground songs. The simple structure allowed for you to take it down almost anywhere you wanted. We didn't really feel differently about the covers and our songs. They were some of our songs as well as far as we were concerned. What state were these recordings in? Did you have to do a lot of mastering on them? They were remarkably good to start with. They were recorded live with a two-track. You can hear all the instruments, but you can also hear great atmosphere. There's a real sense of being there, which is very direct and powerful. Does the feeling of the Scenics being outsiders 30 years ago still apply to the band today? We were absorbing the same influences as everyone else, so at the time we were just being ourselves. We were responding to what we liked, who we liked, and being who we liked. And that's all I'm really concerned about. We're just continuing to be ourselves now at this point. (Independent)"