Temperance is not a virtue that Joel Plaskett seems able or willing to grasp.
He gave us 27 tunes on Three — a maneuver that would have exhausted most musicians’ song banks — and here we are two years later, stumbling through a Fiona Apple-worthy album title and another 20 tracks.
EMERGENCYs isn’t meant to be an entirely new collection. A few of these songs — like “On The Rail” and the cover of Irma Thomas’ “Hurt’s All Gone” — were previously available, and several are early or alternate versions of well-known Plaskett (or Joel Plaskett Emergency) tunes like “Snowed In” and “Come On, Teacher.” It’ll be handy, though, for fans to have all these extras in one easy-to-access location.
A few of the more interesting cuts:
“Blood in my Veins” — This outtake from Ashtray Rock (originally slotted after “The Glorious Life”) is straight out of a Happy Days sock hop, complete with Richie Cunningham on sax.
“Snowed In” — This early version of the song that eventually appeared on Ashtray Rock is considerably more visceral than the finished product. Its dingy guitars foreshadow the danger of the coming storm better than the polished rendering did.
“Black Sheep Boy” — Okkervil River still do the best cover of this Tim Hardin original, but this soft rock version by Plaskett and the Emergency is an admirable stab.
“True Patriot Love” — This rough-around-the-edges rocker was recorded to eight-track around the time Thrush Hermit were breaking up. It’s Plaskett contemplating the ends of relationships and that puzzling feeling of pride that bubbles to the surface when you’re lying on the couch at three a.m. and “O Canada” comes on the television.