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54-4016361When I first heard “Baby Ran” from their 1986 album 5440 (aka the green album) I was hooked.  There was something so simple and catchy about the chorus, I couldn’t get it out of my head.  Over the years, I kept buying their albums and CDs but reviewing them now I’m surprised how much of their material has always been folky and acoustic as well as jangly alt rock.  The contrast is brought together on their latest release, La Difference, subtitled A History Unplugged.  Some might complain that an ‘unplugged’ album is the last refuge of the musical scoundrel, where artists go when they have run out of ideas.  But this effort really is a creative reinvention of the band’s singles catalogue.  The most stark example is probably “Baby Ran,” which shifts from rock to country in this iteration without losing any of its hooky charm.  Both new and old version appear below for easy comparison. The whole record is strong but for me the highlights include “One Day in your Life,” “I Go Blind,” and “Casual Viewin’.”

5440 are on tour across Canada this summer.  Check out the dates and their catalogue on their website.