Thursday, May 7, 2009

Reviews:: The CFL Sessions

There is probably nothing as Canadian, or as confusing as Canadian football. Where to start with the CFL? The insane rules, incredibly huge field, medicine ball sized football, the fact two teams in an eight team league had the same name and, of course the distinct lack of talent (read more about my hatred here), let's just say the CFL is no friend of mine.

Even with my distaste for the tradition of Canadian football, it seems there is one area the CFL dominate their counterparts south of the border: music. Sure, we all got excited seeing the Fridge and Willie Gault freak the funk on the SuperBowl Special, and don’t get me started on Prime to the Hammer, Hammer to the Prime or the redneck charm of Hank Williams telling us about his rowdy friends, but for the most part there hasn’t been a huge amount of tracks coming from NFL-ers.

Now, thanks to the tireless work of folklorist Henry Adam Svec, we have a fully restored version of the legendary CFL Sessions that were captured in the 1970s by the late Canadian folklorist Staunton R. Livingston. The songs were the best of the best, with CFL players performing original tracks and spirited covers that were played in locker rooms and bars after the games. Svec retreated to the House of Miracles and with the support of Canadian notables WL Altman, Laura Barrett, Andy Magoffin and Jeseka Hickey, he recreated the efforts as best he could. The result is an interesting glimpse into the past freshened with a new coat of paint. More importantly, musically this record kicks it like Lui Passaglia.

Without the large contracts and stardom of other professional sporting leagues, Canadian football is a seasonal occupation akin to tree planting or landscaping. The stark honesty of simple admissions like, "in the offseason I work at the mall. I sell shoes" or "I could drink all night in this city, if we had any money" really hammer home the fact a lot of these players play simply for the love of the game.

Central theme and cohesion aside, the songs are enjoyable even out of context. The songs focus on the sadness of the CFL athlete, but could just as easily be about the working class. I think Svec made a smart choice using lighter melodies and not letting depression dominate the recordings. The quick burst of pace on Life is Like Canadian Football or the jangle-y guitar that dances along in surprisingly catchy, Song Written Upon Getting Cut by the Argos keep you listening. Another uptempo ditty, On Play lets Svec show off his more playful side and even the campfire feel of CFL Seasons in the Sun is more enjoyable than you'd expect. Long story short, while the CFL sessions may not get me excited for the upcoming season, it is an enjoyable listen (especially considering it's free).

MP3:: CFL Sessions - Song Written Upon Getting Cut by the Argos

MP3:: CFL Sessions - Life is Like CFL Football

PS - If you are still buying the historical accuracy of this project, I have a Sidd Finch rookie card on auction on EBay you might want to get in on.

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Posted at 8:40 AM by ack :: 6 comments

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At 3:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

the cfl is a far more exciting game than the nfl.
don't believe me, then turn the vloume down while watching both games and tell me which keeps your atention more.
what two teams have the same name?
the ball is now the same size as the nfl ball but only for about 12 years now.


At 10:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous did sayeth:

The CFL Players are faster than those in the NFL. It is simple physics, they HAVE to be because of the field size!! Same reason records sound better than CDs, they're bigger DUH!!!!

Look at Warren Moon, he found the NFL easier than a stroll in Point Pleasant Park, putting up 60 points in some NFL games with crappy Houson receivers, but really struggeled up here north of the border!

I highly suggest you read "Going Deep" with Matt Dunigan, and then try some of his delicious souvlakis'.


At 4:51 PM, Anonymous Bloggeroo. did sayeth:

Uh, it's Super Bowl SHUFFLE.

And also, this project is a joke. These songs are not written by CFL players.


At 5:57 PM, Blogger ack did sayeth:

Thanks for pointing out the obvious Bloggeroo. Obviously, it was a typo when I said Superbowl Special, but being such a sports nut, I'd think you'd catch the subtle way we pointed out this project wasn't real: "PS - If you are still buying the historical accuracy of this project, I have a Sidd Finch rookie card on auction on EBay you might want to get in on."

Henry - who also wrote fake songs under the name the Boy from ET - asked us (and all press) to go along with it... but thanks for the positive thoughts.


At 6:13 PM, Blogger Steven did sayeth:

I may be one of the few Texas boys who really enjoys the CFL, but, no, the players are not faster than in the NFL. They're not even nearly as fast. Linemen in the American league are faster than CFL linebackers.

There is a large talent differential, but that doesn't take anything away from the Canadian game. The nuances are different and both versions are a lot of fun to watch.

And you can't beat the long-standing rivalries between the Saskatchewan Rough Riders, the Toronto Roughriders, the Calgary RoughRiders and the Hamilton Ruff Riders.


At 9:08 PM, Blogger naedoo did sayeth:

Man, you have to be one of the few Texas boys who even knows about the CFL, let alone enjoys it.

If there's one thing we know up here, it's that you can never have enough Roughriders.


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