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It's a Living

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Album Review

To say that the Hanson Brothers are still happily continuing their overt Ramones worship on their first live album is an understatement — there's a reason why the title is a riff on that earlier band's classic effort It's Alive, and why the most directly heartfelt moment on the album is the tribute to the late Joey Ramone, "Joey Had to Go." Pulling together a slew of songs from their various efforts from a show in Alberta, interspersed with snippets of an interview with Tommy Hanson, whose persistent non-answers are somehow more coherent than most bands' straightforward ones, the quartet charges on ahead with little change from the studio versions of the songs, and for good reason — why mess around with a good thing? Knowing that it's Nomeansno underneath all the punk/hockey drag is part of the joy; hearing them bust out great harmonies on "Everything I Wanted" and "Stick Boy" or the aggressive-as-hell treble guitar attack starting "Four Heads One Brain" is a delight. Of course, there are also the shouted "one-two-three-four!" countdowns from Tommy throughout, while the concluding track — "Shut Up Tommy" — consists of various snippets of the band shouting down various attempts by the hapless guitarist to philosophize on matters, if that's the correct term, while on-stage. A further bonus on the DVD side of the disc is an entertaining treat: All-Grain Brewing with Johnny Hanson, originally released on videotape back in 2002. Featuring the band's glasses-wearing lead singer as indicated, along with brother Davey, it's at once a great performance in character and a perfectly straightforward explanation of how to make one's own beer at home, with practical tips, detailed explanations of equipment and procedures, and a general air of good times. Snippets from various Hanson Brothers performances crop up throughout the tape, as well as moments showing the band at a brewery helping things along.


Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '90s, '00s

When Rob and John Wright weren't busy fronting the eclectic and bizarre punk group Nomeansno -- which stormed out of Victoria, British Columbia, in the early '80s -- they were busy playing with a few friends in the less challenging side project the Hanson Brothers. The Hanson Brothers, named after the pugilistic hockey siblings in the Paul Newman film Slap Shot, forewent the complex rhythms and funk-jazz tendencies of their mother group to revel in a dumb-punk tribute to the Ramones. While the Hanson...
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It's a Living, Hanson Brothers
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