Often referred to as either “the Canadian Nick Lowe” or simply “a musician’s musician”, Ontario native DAVE RAVE has been big news in his Canadian homeland for over three decades now.
Much of his rep rests on his spells with hugely successful garage rockers Teenage Head and his own power pop alchemists The Shakers, but his CV is truly staggering. His solo catalogue includes fantastic albums like ‘Everyday Magic’ and the ‘lost’ album ‘Valentino’s Pirates’ which was originally released on vinyl by the Russian (!) label Melodiya before ending up out of print (and growing in legendary status by the day) for a decade.
Running parallel to these releases has been Rave’s career as a much in-demand session musician with his credits including work with the likes of Daniel Lanois, Andrew Loog Oldham, Steve Wynn and Alex Chilton. With this in mind, it’s perhaps not surprising that his long-awaited new album ‘Live With What You Know’ has had something of a global incubation, with the songs coming from sessions in London, Paris, New York and Dave’s native Hamilton and support being provided by a cast of thousands including long-term acolytes such as Gary Pig Gold, Mark McCarron, The Trews and fellow ex-Shaker Rick Andrew.
Although Mark McCarron appears on a couple of tracks (including the odd, Ska-tinged ‘Strawberry Wine’), ‘Live With What You Know’ ignores the jazzier collaborations the two of them indulged in on ‘In the Blue of my Dreams’ and concentrates broadly on the Rockier side of Rave’s oeuvre. With this in mind, the album kicks off with a delicious slice of spangly, anthemic Power Pop courtesy of ‘Ann Marie’ and later repeats the trick with the bouncy ‘All of the Love You Can Handle’, while ‘Rain Song’ is again very bright and immediate, if slightly kookier in design.
Elsewhere, something of a nostalgic vibe permeates the album. I don’t know if tracks like ‘Gonna Find You One Day’ or the plaintive ‘Station Road’ relate directly to Dave’s home town of Hamilton, ON, but they certainly sound like they do and they coax especially impassioned vocals from their author as well as sympathetic playing from all those involved. ‘Streets of Liverpool’, meanwhile, is a love song to the cradle of British Rock’n’Roll from a long-time Anglophile (Dave is a confirmed favourite at the annual Liverpool IPO festivals) which is not only lovely but quite possibly the first song I’ve ever heard that name checks Runcorn!
Meanwhile, in tandem with his trusted collaborators, Rave continues to push on into uncharted sonic territories. Lauren Agnelli co-writes a couple of memorable tunes with ‘All of the Love you Can Handle’ and the yearning, piano-led ‘One of a Kind’, while - as always – anything Dave does with Gary Pig Gold turns up trumps. This time, the two of them come up with a couple of wonderfully idiosyncratic acoustic outings in ‘One Day your Sun will shine’ and the self-explanatory ‘You’re Goin’ to London’. The Rave/ Pig Gold axis is also responsible for the intriguing, psychedelic-tinged ‘Rows and Rows’, which is probably the most ambitious thing here and quite possibly this album’s ‘Farmer Needs Rain’.
Clocking in at around the 60-minute mark and seething with ideas, ‘Live with What You Know’ requires some work on the listener’s behalf, but – as with all Rave releases – it rewards your input with some of the most glorious melodies you’ll hear all year. It’s yet another essential Dave Rave album and one you’ll enjoy living with for years to come.
Dave Rave online
Bongo Beat Records online