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Saturday, March 17, 2001

Worthy Efforts
By KIERAN GRANT -- Toronto Sun


The Sadies


The results may be pretty darn close to tremendous, but the third recording by Toronto alt-country favourites The Sadies doesn't exactly betray over-exertion. On the contrary, Tremendous Efforts (out Tuesday) captures the band at their most relaxed and focussed.

Previous albums Precious Moments (1998) and Pure Diamond Gold (1999), while worthwhile, were wound a little too tight to convey the band's genre-bending take on bluegrass, dusty spaghetti-western twang, psychedelia, rockabilly, country-rock, and punk. Maybe they just couldn't quite tackle it all until now.

Tremendous Efforts boasts just the right balance of reinvention and adherence to what made The Sadies a fine band in the first place. The twang-punk thing never comes off as a gimmick, just a flexible pivot that singer-guitarists Dallas and Travis Good, bassist Sean Dean, and drummer Mike Belitsky can aim in various directions. The band treat their creeping, dreamlike ballads to new depth on The Last Of The Good and album closer Before I Wake. The mood is brightened with rip-roarin' garage rave-ups such as FLASH and a boozy bash through a cover of Wearin' That Loved On Look (featuring vocals by Blue Rodeo's Greg Keelor, at whose farm the album was recorded). But the biggest surprises on Tremendous Efforts arrive in the second half: The swirly roots-rock of 120 Miles Per Hour and a glowing version of the old King/Goffin tune I Wasn't Born To Follow.

Things are fleshed out by a large cast of guest players, including most of Blue Rodeo, Wilco's Bob Egan, elder members of the Good Family, and famed engineer Steve Albini, whose understanding of The Sadies dynamic has clearly deepened since his association with them began four years ago. Dark and sparkling.

Dec. 31: New Year's Eve at Ted's Wrecking Yard

Well Dayna, BlueRodeoFantom and I celebrated the New Year at Ted's Wrecking Yard. The opening band was the Silverhearts. They were mostly bluegrass and very good. The Sadies were awesome! It's the first time I've seen them and other than at the Palais Royale the first time I've heard them so I can't fill you in on the songs they played but they were really pumped and put on an excellent show.
Neko Case couldn't make it. Apparently she couldn't get out of Chicago because of the snow. The Sadies more than made it up to us with their surprise guests...none other than our own Greg Keelor, Bazil Donovan and Bob Egan!! They also brought along several family members...Mom and Dad Good as well as some "Good" uncles. Maybe Dayna can fill in the blanks here because I didn't know them or the music but they were fantastic.

The BR boys spent most of the second set on didn't end until about 2:30. Bazil did his untitled Bazil original..the same one as at the Palais and Little Ole Wine Drinker. He also played the mandolin..haven't heard him on that before. Greg treated us with a few numbers. My personal fave was Bobby Darin's "Me and Mr. Hohner". He also did the Beegees "To Love Somebody" and finished off the night with the always fantastic "Wearin that Loved on Look".

We rang in the New Year with a fantastic show and an all-around great night.

- Review by Darlene

Sep 22: Maggie's, Moncton, New Brunswick.

I ended up being the designated driver again because my dad was drinking and anyway I picked up my friend Jeanne and off we went. As we pulled in, the bass player (Sean) was in the parking lot talking on his cell phone. And as soon as we walk into the bar, my dad walks over to Dallas and sits down with him and tells him that every good band deserves a great intro and offered to introduce them and so he did! hehe! I was a little embarassed by this, but he did a good job talking about their roots and influences. Everyone clapped for the band and the Sadies launched into the first song of the night: a rocking instrumental that set the mood for the night.

They did a really good variety of cover songs this time... ranging from the Byrds, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, and the famous Elvis song "Wearing that Loved-On Look". They also played most of their songs from both cd's "Pure Diamond Gold" and "Precious Moments". I'm starting to recognize all the songs now (having seen them 6 times now). I have a hard time remembering the song titles though because alot of them are instrumentals and some are quite short (1 or 2 minutes). But some of my favorites were "It's nothing to me", "Dying is easy", "Talking down", "Walking Boss", "Higher Power", "Rat Creek", "Starling Auto" (which is a garage in Toronto). Oh yeah, they also did "Little Sadie" but changed Sadie to Maggie and dedicated the song to the staff.

I was pleased as punch that they played 3 Byrds songs. They did an amazing job with "Pretty Polly", "Wasn't born to follow" and "You ain't going nowhere".

Halfway through the show, my dad went up and took the microphone and said something along the lines of "I would normally never do this but I just wanted to express my enjoyment and fulfillment that this band has provided here tonight... this is the best fucking rock and roll I've ever heard!!!" It was pretty cool... they dedicated a song to my father "this one's going out to you Bill".. and it was a Merle Haggard song. I believe it was called something like "Working man's blues". My dad took lots of pictures and I'm anxious to see them cause they're really close ups!! I'll get them scanned and posted as soon as possible.

At the end of the night, I chatted with them all and Travis told me I did a real nice job with the web page. That was cool! He and the drummer (Mike) took some of the pictures from the Rivoli. They really liked the photos. All in all, it was a wonderful evening of great music!

- Show review by Allison

Sep 23: the Marquee Club, Halifax, Nova Scotia.

They took the stage with a very fast instrumental and immediately the crowd surged forward! Right up to the stage, song after song the audience was dancing and, in the end, it was like a huge Mosh pit in front of the stage! I was very surprised at the age group, very young, and lots of used clothing store, fringed, satin cowboy shirts, and squished up straw cowboy hats!

The boys played for about 2hrs straight throwing in "Wearing That Loved on Look" (shoop shoop!) and they also did the famous Guitar Trick but I missed it,(had to got to the little girls room! I was on the way back when they were finishing!) when they finished and left the stage, the crowed hollered and yelled until they came back out for an encore. To which Dallas replied,"We'll finish the show with a couple of gospel songs since some of you will be gettin' up early for church in the mornin', and the rest of you won't because you'll be bringin' in the crops, on account of its gettin' cold out now!" They then sang "There's A Higher Power" and two more songs that I don't know thw names of. They left the stage at about 2AM. All in all it was a great show, Travis and Dallas must share the Twin thing when it comes to guitar because they play as if they were one person, fast and furious the whole time! And Mike's drumming was awesome as well. Sean was amazing on bass too, there's nothing like a stand up bass, is there?

- Show review by Michele






For more professionaly written reviews, click on any of the following links!

Eye magazine review of "Tremendous Efforts", March 22, 2001.

JAM! Review of "Tremendous Efforts" (MAR-17-2001)

Neko Case & the Sadies (May 2000)

Review of "Pure Diamond Gold"

Insurgent Country Review

More Insurgent Country!

Music Review from Alt-Country

Precious Moments Review

The Sadies with Andre Williams