First of all, there is nothing about flatulence on Gassy Jack and Other Tales. The Evaporators like a good joke, but body humor is a little below them. Gassy Jack was Vancouver pioneer and saloon owner John Deighton, who received his nickname for his chattiness rather than a gas problem. And if replacing a fart joke with a history lesson wasn’t enough, the Evaporators throw in a little populist social conscience at the end of the tune. Gassy Jack and Other Tales keeps these curve balls coming over its fifteen tracks, due mostly to the presence of Nardwuar the Human Serviette.
Nardwuar is something of a Canadian treasure, keeping his college-radio show since 1987, interviewing music personalities from Snoop Dogg to Marilyn Manson, and performing “Hip Flips” with two former Prime Ministers. In addition to being the Canadian Borat, Nardwuar can put together a pretty mean pop melody. Backed by bassist John Collins of the New Pornographers, guitarist David Carswell of the Smugglers and drummer Scott Livingstone, Nardwuar’s compositions are catchy and quick pop-punk numbers, often clocking in under two minutes. At that length, the guitar line and chorus are the focal points; the Canadian history is hardly noticed.
Aside from the civic pride, Gassy Jack and Other Tales contains quite a bit of other lunacy. “Shakin’ With the Shaggy Shaker” and “Do the Eggbeater” are fifties novelty dance tunes delivered with punk sensibility. “What If I Care About the People in the Sea Around Me?” and “Crispy Space Bacon” deliver free association that comes out sounding like a jam album turned up to 45 speed. Gassy Jack and Other Tales is all over the place, and it shows that punk, nationalism and crazy are all alive and well in the Great White North.