The Cutout Bin

A collection of discarded or otherwise forgotten music.

-My fileserver is free, and you get what you pay for... so try rightclicking the mp3s and selecting "save link target as". You may have to do it more than once.

-Please see post #1 "Begin the begin" (3/24/06) for the raison d'etre for this blog. If you object to your music being posted here, email me and I will remove it.

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Repo Man's got all night, every night...

Friday, August 04, 2006

13 Engines

John Critchley- guitar, vocals
Grant Ethier- drums
Jim Hughes- bass
Mike Robbins- guitar

Hometown- Toronto, Ontario

13 Engines began life in the mid-'80s as a York University band called the Ikons. They soon developed a following in the Windsor/Detroit border area, and changed their name as a tribute to the region's car industry before issuing their first proper album in 1987.

They had two albums under their belts by the time I ran into them in the winter of 1990. It was a weeknight at The Union, Athens Ohio's premier rock club. I swear, if there really is a heaven (and I go), it'll be like the Union on a Saturday night. My band was opening, and the crowd was sparse to say the least. Dispirited at the low turnout, we drank heavily before taking the stage- we pretty much always went on drunk, but this was an all-time low even for us. It was easily the worst gig I have ever played, and that version of the band pretty much only played bad gigs. As we slunk offstage, I was accosted by the promoter-

"Hey man, there's no excuse for that shit. Completely fucking unprofessional. So nobody came, big deal. You gotta play for the people who DID."

He was absolutely correct of course, but he screwed it up by continuing-

"Just watch 13 Engines- those guys are pros. It doesn't matter if there's only ONE fucking person here, they're gonna blow the roof off this place."

About half an hour later, 13 Engines took the stage in a drunken stupor that dwarfed ours. Songs started and abruptly halted, others broke down and devolved into lengthy tuning sessions. One of the guys fell over. Finally, the drummer threw his sticks down, got up from his kit, and took the lead vocal mic- "FUCK YOU GUYS!" he shouted at his bandmates, and stormed offstage. Their soundman shrugged, sat down at the kit and counted off a beat which led to a shambolic improvised blues. Eventually, the bass player wandered off as well. The blues jam (now well over 5 minutes long) continued, and soon the drummer reappeared and took over the abandoned bass. He clearly had no idea how to play it. This eventually became a drum/bass jam (soundman on drums, drummer on bass) with both guitarists tuning. Finally, Critchley waved his arm for the disaster to stop. "Ok, uh, sorry about that... we're gonna go tune and we'll be back in a couple minutes".

With that, they all left the stage. As no one was manning the soundboard, no music came on for the impromptu intermission. All 15 or so people in the room looked at each other and wondered if the show was over. It really didn't seem possible for them to continue. About half the people left, leaving my band and a handful of friends (the promoter had long since split). Sure enough though, 15 minutes later the band came back, guitars tuned and everyone in their proper places. I don't know what happened in the dressing room, but they had suddenly regained their ability to play. They were good- I mean, really good. After the first song they all looked at each other, grinning as if to say "we did it!". Everyone left in the audience cheered like hell, too- we were rooting for them, like a sporting event. They played two or three more songs, and nailed them. After that though, it started to go downhill again. They muffed their way through another couple songs, and finally bailed out. All in all, one of the most memorable shows I've ever seen.

The following year 13 Engines signed to SBK records and cut "A Blur To Me Now" with producer David Briggs (the guy who produced most of Neil Young's best work). "Blur" is a solid record that would have done better had the label not been channeling all their effort into Vanilla Ice's sudden success that year. The band released two more albums before breaking up in 1997, and Critchley released a solo album in 2000.

Another Toss Of The Coin.mp3

From "A Blur To Me Now", 1991