check out the 9 photos below.
included here are two unreleased tracks from the The Odd Fellows, which was recorded in 1982. I found the master reels, buried in an old box in the hall closet as many things are found I imagine on occasion, and transferred them into a digital format. These are very heavy, dense tracks considering we did them just on an 8 track machine; my suggestion is headphones cranked for these babys.
also, here is the live version of Penchant, recorded in 2005 when the Smarties had a 25th anniversary reunion gig, crank as usual my guitar is a bit buried I should have cranked that Marshall up a bit more.
There's a joke here somewhere, by Joe Sornberger, Edmonton, 1978
Somebody obviously isn't getting the joke.
A group of local part-time musicians (and full-time teachers, insurance salesmen and other working stiffs) have been getting together for the past little while to practise and perform under the name, The Nerve.
What The Nerve people like to do is parody Britain's Sex Pistols. Nerve's rock music is occasionally very funny and sometimes very good.
Only The Nerve could have pulled this one off. From lead shouter P.J. Burton comes word that the punk rock band who sing about war amputees, the joys of being whipped and wonderful things like that will be performing tonight at 8 p.m. at - you guessed it - The Alberta School For The Deaf. Makes perfect sense.
Sometimes they offend people. Which is understandable. Sometimes, with songs like War Amps and tunes about sado-masochism, they spread it a bit thick.
At any rate, somebody decided to take The Nerve seriously Tuesday night, when the band performed its Johnny Rotten inspired routine at the Alberta Schoold For the Deaf.
"It was the first time I've ever been attacked onstage", P.J. Burton (who plays Johnny Rotten) said Wednesday.....
Graham Hicks, Edmonton Journal, Dec 26, 1978:
By day, he's Mr. Burton of the jacket and tie set - a prospective teacher and self-confessed representative of the educational establishment as it now stands in Canada.
By night, he's P.J. Burton, the screamin' wild 25 year old leader of The Nerve, Edmonton's one and only New Wave rock band.
That's not punk rock, folks. New Wave is what came after punk. A return to the basics of rock music, you might say. Heavy emphasis on high voltage, motion and lots of rhythm.
While students throughout the land are hearing the age-old admonishment from parents that they should be doing homework, not glued to the record player. Mr Burton, the fourth-year education student from the University of Alberta, is acting out their dreams.
He sheds the neat dress he wears for his practice teaching sessions and sons his stage outfits.
While school kids puzzle over algebra and the League of Nations, P.J. stalks a rock stage in a heavily made up face; rolls on the floor; belts out lyrics.
"I don't see any conflict at all", he says. "It's all contributing to the Canadian arts scene.".
In class, P.J. says he becomes Mr. Burton (he recently had a practice session at Bonnie Doon High School). "representing the active front of the educational system as it now stands in Canada."
There's been little reaction in school to his extra-curricular activities, says P.J., even though a couple of students have been to his concerts.
Some chalked drawings of guitar players have turned up on blackboards, little else. Other teachers, P.J. says, enjoy his split identity.
"Modern teachers are actually quite hip," he says. "Those coming into teaching in the last five to seven years are aware of the Sesame Street mentality, They're aware of keeping up with the kids. They're current, and abreast. Even old guard teachers seem to take me in their stride."
P.J. figures his involvement in pop music will be a help, not a hindrance when he goes out in the job market.
"If it isn't a help, then the person I'm applying to is a complete idiot. I'm obviously in contact with the kids. I know I have a rapport with them. I have a better chance of establishing a working relationship with them.
He has two goals in life. One is to go on to be a high school guidance counsellor. after another year of specialization at university. The other, to land a recording contract for an album.
"I want to try and keep both happening", he says. "I can't tell if I'm a rock 'n roller going to university, or a student that plays in a band."
Preludes (adapted and abridged, originally by T.S. Eliot):
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways
The burned out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat.....
The morning comes to consciousness
Of faint stale smells of beer.
From the sawdust-trampled street
With all its muddy feet that press
To early coffee stands.
With the other masquerades
That time resumes,
One thinks of hands
That are raising dingy shades.....
You tossed a blanket from the bed,
You lay upon your back and waited;
You dozed, and watched the night revealing
One thousand sordid images
Of which your soul was constituted;
They flickered against the ceiling.
And when all the world came back
Light crept up between the shutters.....
His soul stretched tight across the skies
that faded behind a city block,
or trampled by insistent feet
at four and five o'clock;
and short square fingers stuffing pipes,
and evening newspapers, and eyes
the conscience of a blackened street
impatient to assume the world
i am moved by fancies that are curled
around these images, and cling:
the notion of some infinitely gentle
infinitely suffering thing
wipe your hand across your mouth and laugh;
the worlds revolve like ancient women
gathering fuel in vacant lots
you've got a penchant
for having fun
and getting out of place
you run amok a lot
and i think you are a mental case
you gotta get THE NERVE to be a member of
the humus race
soured bits of tits i think that maybe baby's lost in space
fire eyes i'm late for work you make me nervous when you hang around
turn the t.b. off
don't be a jerk and cancer always brings me down
say you're sorry for the stings and things
but you can bet i'll let you whip me around
agrophile a heart that's tart
the juggler's vein but baby now that it's found
feeble people wear out fast
and fools are jumping up to get in the way
it's a bitch when you get that itch
you wanna stick a little slit every day
bottle baby scratch my glass
you throw your tongue out where you think it'll pay
when i stick it in
you like the spike
you'll never see old and grey
November 30, 2013 interview between Robert Williston and Robin Brooks, guitarist for the short-lived Edmonton new wave punk rock band The Nerve.
Robert: For a while, The Nerve held up the solitary New Wave flag in Edmonton. Who was in the band, where and when did the Nerve first form and how did you guys meet?
Robin: The Nerve originally formed in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Our singer PJ Burton had moved there from Dauphin, Manitoba and had met Gary Law in Winnipeg. When I first met PJ, he and Rod had already moved to Edmonton and I was invited to audition. I made the band and the early version of what was to become the Nerve was PJ on drums, Gary Law on bass and myself on guitar. PJ was very adept on the drums, but was looking to move out front as the vocalist, which he had done in the past. We decided to acquire a drummer.
Robin had met Joe Kelly a year earlier at a party, but knew him to be a solid hard hitting drummer and he was looking to try something new, as new wave and punk was on the scene in 1977 and '78. Joe was invited down and took up residency as the timekeeper and drum smasher. The final touch that was needed was another guitar player and Gary Keiller was called in as PJ had known him from Winnipeg where Gary had gigged a lot and knew hard loud music inside and out, and he had the chops to pull it off.
Robert: Where did you first play?
Robin: Early gigs were a bit tough at the beginning as the traditional local music scene was more attuned to The Eagles and Foreigner.. and getting gigs was tough especially in bars. But PJ was grooming the University crowd and schools as the kids wanted to see what the punk and new wave was about. Gary Law didn't stay long as his musical goals were not where the band was at, so Rod was called in to play bass, so the line up stood at PJ on vocals, Rod Wolve on bass Joe Kelly on drums, Gary Keiller on guitar and Robin Brooks also on guitar.
Robert: Although the single was given a mention in Frank Manley's Smash the State, the single by the Nerve is pretty unknown and seldom scene, even in the collector market. Where, when and how was the Nerve single recorded?
Robin: The Nerve went on to play many one nighters in bars and clubs. We decided to enter the studio to record our only 45 with the songs Penchant and Preludes, with the song writing team of PJ and Robin. The Nerve recorded this single in a small studio in Edmonton called the Machine Shop. It was an 8 track 1/2" format and those tracks were recorded right off the floor, with some vocal and occasional guitar overdub. We recorded the single in the summer of '78.
Robert: Do you guys have any spare copies of the single kicking around, how many were pressed, where the hell are they, where's the acetates and what about a re-issue?
Robin: None of us have been able to find any copies of the single. I believe we pressed 500 copies and our record release party took place in a hip/punky clothing store in downtown Edmonton.. where we gave a bunch away. I never knew what happened to the acetates and was recently in touch with the engineer and owner of the Machine Shop. The Nerve recordings no longer exist and neither do the tapes of the Smarties live at The Princess Theatre, although I have a very noisy cassette copy.
Robert: Where did you play locally in Edmonton, who did you open for, did you guys know or play with any of the other punk bands in Edmonton at the time like Rock and Roll Bitches, Malibu Kens? and whatever happened after the Nerve?
Robin: The Nerve was gaining a reputation of increasingly drawing an audience of the more unsavory punk types and our agent was finding it more difficult to find bars that would allow us to play so we changed our name to The Smarties. Robin randomly came up with the name at a bar when asked, having to disguise the real name of the band, The Nerve. Shortly thereafter, Gary Kieller left the band and was replaced by Gary Pon on guitar and that lineup continued as The Smarties.
Yes we knew lots of early punk/alt scene, like Buster Nad, Mike Sinatra (McDonald), Truth, Psyche, Big House, SNFU...
The Smarties locally were doing opening gigs for DOA, Pointed Sticks, The Battered Wives from Toronto. The Smarties were around Edmonton when new bands like The Models, Silent Movies and News (Moe Berg of Pursuit of Happiness grabbed Kim Upright (aka Bolt), our drummer from the Nerve). At that time there wasn't a huge scene as it was just building.
After the Nerve changed its name to the Smarties, we continued to gig at Universities and fraternities and one nighters with the occasional 3 nighter at a bar. The Universities and frats paid good money and myself I never worked a day job for nearly 3 years till I went to Toronto, as the money I made in the band was sufficient for my rent etc.
Wolve, Pon, Kelly and myself continued on, after changing our name to The Ozones. PJ controlled the Smarties name, took the cash, and went on his own way and re-formed a less talented version of the Smarties. Meanwhile, The Ozones played some really good gigs. Afterwards, Rod Wolve and Gary Pon played locally in a few Edmonton bands.
Rod Wolfe ended up with Shock – a 3 piece power punk/pop band - then quickly onto synth-based fusions - Informer, then notably Voice - with Malcolm Swann, Dwayne Goettel (before his major run with Skinny Puppy). After that, forays into goth/dark wave with Shadow Project and Zen Asylum, followed by Soft, Tanyss Nixi and the Angry Mob. Rod continues to stay active in the local indie new alt Edmonton music scene and he currently plays with Cockatoo and Even#.
Robert: And what's in store for the future?
Robin: The Odd Fellows will be doing its 30 Year reunion gig in Toronto in August of 2014 that is going to be a crushing molten porridge of nasty synths, screaming sax, and molten guitar walls of noise, with crazy assed Flea bass parts and drums.
From a 1978 promo:
Dear Powers That Be: Let's Talk Turkey;
The Nerve is a little known and impoverished band closet professionals, students and warehouse rats. The group received its most recent incarnation less than a year ago and has since subjected itself to as many one-nighters and bars as possible, collectively or individually. Nobody in the band has any money and a recently administered battery of psychological tests revealed that none of them have any brains either.
That is, with the exception of "Bo-bo"; a chimpanzee. After tiring of his job as an inside postal worker, Bo-bo decided to try his hand (or foot) in rock and roll. He explained his idea to P.J. Burton ("Go ape, young man.") and left the music scene to become a famous booking agent. Burton, attracted by the near clairvoyant insight of this charismatic salon.
Bo-bo, wearing sunglasses, rushed back from Vancouver in the nick of time.
"New wave, not permanent wave", he growled.
"Right...I'm sorry", Burton exclaimed, wetting himself ever so slightly.
It was at that moment, as luck so often plays its most devious suits, that Robin Brooks decided he needed a haircut. Tying a sandwich to a parking meter for safe keeping, he strode towards the yawning aperture that doubled as a door and stepped inside. Burton dropped whomever it was he was doing. The only sound in the room was the clicking of Bo-bo's fingernails in their perpetual search for body pests.
In no time at all, the duo had formed an insurance company with Gerry Keiller. One day, Garry called everyone into his office. "Boys", he began, a basket of fresh fruit on his desk, "We have no business...here, have a banana...we should have listened to Bo-bo.".
"That damned monkey isn't worth his weight in orlon. I wish he'd get off our backs." Burton screamed, "Besides, unless we form some kind of band, this preamble will have no relevance."
And so, in the twinkling of an eye, a band was formed with Rot DeKay on bass and some one else on drums.
Then the real work began. Burton squeezed all his friends and vegetables for talent and Brooks went sour overnight. They taped small pieces of electric motors to their buttocks for inspiration. They applied their bony skulls to parked cars and concrete. They berated themselves and grew comatose. The result is as you see before you.
Thanks a lot. We're still in Edmonton working and writing catchy tunes. We're interested in your feedback. We think you dress great. Hey, that's a nice tie. Where did you get those shoes"
You're a person with taste!
P.J. Burton: vocals
Robin Brooks: guitar
Gary Keelor: guitar
Rod Wolfe: bass
Joe Kelly: drums
Recorded at Daryl Goede's Studio in Edmonton in 1978. PJ wrote the music and lyrics for 'Penchant'. Robin wrote the music for 'Preludes'. PJ wrote the lyrics for 'Preludes'. The Nerve also wrote the song 'Twenty Dollar Whore' and 'Hot Bodies'. Both tracks were never recorded. They played together and played locally in and around Edmonton and as far as Red Deer at pubs, high schols and other small venues. Thanks to Garry Law (played with The Nerve and Smarties as well as Darkroom and recorded with Robert Heath on bass), who found a copy of this incredibly rare single and sold me a copy.