THE ROUGH GUIDE TO ROCK First edition published Aug 96 / Nov 96 (USA)


Jim Dress

The Rough Guide to Rock is the Rock Encyclopaedia with a difference; developed on the internet, the entries are written by the people who really know and love the music - the fans themselves. Covering every phase of rock from R&B through Punk, New Wave through No Wave, with sub-plots from dance, soul and hip-hop. The whole book is available online, check it out! All aboard for funtime!

(Formed Toronto, Canada, 1989.)

It is impossible to pigeonhole the Canadian foursome Moxy Frvous. Their unique music blends aspects of rock, folk, and a capella, along with humor and political satire - not a regular combination in the 90s. The group consists of Mike Ford on guitar and piano, Dave Matheson on guitar, banjo, and accordion, drummer Jean Ghomeshi, and bassist Murray Foster; all four handle the complex four-part vocal harmonies.

Starting out as buskers in Toronto back in 1989, Moxy Frvous (nobody has let on what the name means) gained an early notoriety for their highly entertaining blend of comedy and musicianship, illustrated by such songs as "King of Spain" and a pseudo-rap version of Dr. Seuss's "Green Eggs and Ham." By 1992, they had festival and concert support slots under their belt for names as big as Bob Dylan, Bryan Adams, and recorded their first EP, and indie release that went gold in Canada. Their first album, Bargainville, followed the same year and went platinum. It was a deserved success: many of the songs were mainstays worked on since busking days and the recording captured the band's live energy.

After a heavy touring schedule, promoting the record in the US, Moxy went back into the studio to record a follow-up. This emerged as wood (1995), the title nodding towards the "earthier" sound the band had gone for. The songs, this time around, took a somewhat more serious approach. "Horseshoes" lamented about a lost love; "Poor Mary Lane" recounted the story of a woman accused of murder (as told by her accomplice). Musically, on "Misplaced" and other tracks, there was more of a tendency towards country/folk; indeed, throughout the album the band featured violin, banjo, and piano.

The band's live shows remained unchanged, however, and Moxy Frvous began developing a strong following in the US. As a Canadian band, with overt and frequent references to Canadian politics and life, this is no mean achievment. The B Album (1996), the band's most recent album, was a compilation of unreleased songs, old and new, that re-emphasized the satiric side of the group, highlighted by a jab at Rush Limbaugh titled "The Greatest Man in America."

Bargainville (1993; WEA/Atlantic). A showcase of earlier songs from Moxy's busking days highlighting their innovative four-part harmonies.

wood (1995; WEA). Country-flavored, slightly more serious songwriting still displays the trademark Moxy sound.

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