In the Fishtank (Konkurrent)
Nomeansno’s vinyl reissues continue apace with an underappreciated but fantastic EP, originally released on CD in 1996 via the Konkurrent series (the Dutch equivalent of Peel sessions). In the Fishtank consists of alternate studio cuts of five songs by Vancouver’s deepest punk band. Side 1’s “The River”, originally released on 1993’s Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?, adds second drummer Ken Kempster alongside John Wright to produce the definitive reading of this literary epic. “The River” gets my vote for Nomeansno/Rob Wright’s greatest accomplishment, songwise, ever, and this is the best version of it out there.
Side 2 is lesser material—“Joy”, the obscure “You’re Not One”, and a somewhat goofy, bass-free, highly percussive reinterpretation of Wrong’s spoof of horny masculinity, “Big Dick”, with vocals from all members of the band. It’s cute enough, and was no doubt fun to do, but is not exactly essential, except maybe as a break from all the grimness on Side 1.
In the Fishtank is an unexpected digression from the predictable order of reissues, since a few “real” Nomeansno albums (You Kill Me, Sex Mad, Why Do They Call Me Mr. Happy?, One) are still MIA on vinyl since their initial issuings. But it’s an inspired and welcome departure.