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The Government


The Government - Electric Eye

Electric Eye
Voicespondence - 1979


Michael Panontin
Nineteen seventy-nine was a fruitful year for the Government, one that included a couple of seven-inch records, the rougher-hewn 'Hemingway Hated Disco Music' and the cleverly sarcastic 33 1/3 EP. Though both records were excellent, neither quite captured the intensity of their highly original multi-media performances. The Toronto post-punk outfit's mingling of video and music was already garnering lots of buzz along the city's hip Queen West stretch. And so with videographer Michael Hollingsworth in tow, the Government - local artist Andy Patterson along with bassist Robert Stewart, guitarist Jeremiah Chechik and drummer Edward Boyd - set up their tellies and VCRs at the old Music Gallery down at 30 St. Patrick Street and let the tape machines spin.

No surprise then that the resulting document, Electric Eye, is something of a disappointment. Of course, with the videos such an integral part of each performance, the choice of vinyl as the medium was probably an unwise move, especially so with at least one band at the time, Los Angeles' Screamers, aiming to release their music in video format only. And musically nothing here matches the deliciously loping bass riffs and eerie synthesizer on 33 1/3. Paterson's vocal, a normally wry deadpan that adds just the right amount of bite to his satire, veers off into annoying territory at times. Still, the record is not without glimpses into the group's trademark stop-start interplay of video snippets and guitar chords. 'I Only Drive My Car' on side one features some nifty bass and guitar that is punctuated with lines like "You sure you don't wanna come? All right, you wanna be a suck, be a suck". The same goes for the creepy 'Following You', where Paterson's voice, atop some crunching chords and quirky bass, edges perilously close to stalking ("I've been following your footprints around this town. I know where you eat. I know where you've been"), only to abruptly give way to a woman warbling, "and I shouted out, 'Is there a hippie here?'" Brilliant.
         



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