Thursday, October 13, 2011

Triumph of... What, Exactly? Lamination?

Hold On - Triumph (mp3)
Magic Power - Triumph (mp3)

Our Saturdays had a beautiful predictability about them. That’s one benefit of being a nerd with strong, unbreakable nerd friendships. You know not much is going to happen on Saturday, and you still look forward to it with giddy anticipation.

I would wake up around 8:30 and do chores for a couple of hours, raking leaves or mowing the lawn or some other mildly uninteresting outdoor task for which my father paid far too nicely, even if at the time I thought it was cruel for me to work while my wealthier friends got allowances just for maintaining a regular heartbeat.

By noon, I would be done, and soon thereafter a predesignated mom would take myself, Andy and Scott to Comics & Curios, the penultimate comic book store anywhere near Chattanooga. We would obliterate every penny of our allowance on comics -- saving up for a date was, well, pointless -- and head home with our newly-acquired stack.

We were usually back by 2 p.m., and we would rush with our booty to one of our bedrooms -- usually the bedroom of the boy whose mom drove that week -- where we would begin our beloved ritual. One of us would take the bed, one would take a bean bag, and the other would spread out on the carpeted floor. No location was superior to another. We would agree upon the first album to be played, start it on Side A, Song 1, and begin delicately devouring the comics.

We ate comic books like we were the highest order of food critics, treating the pulp fiction funny books with worshipful reverence. Once we had tasted every word balloon on every page, we would digest the meal by delicately placing these treasures into a comic bag, adding two strips of Scotch tape, and place it aside for the next course.

The ritual usually required that a second album be played, but rarely did we need more than a single extra side.

By 3:30, we would be on our bikes or adventuring in Andy’s pool until dinnertime, when we would disperse with our separate families. We would then return -- usually to Andy’s basement -- where we would invest our evening hours on role playing games while MTV pulsated in the background.

This ritual got lost some of its power once Andy moved away for college. And then adolescence and my desperate need for belonging caught up with me, sending my knife firmly into the back of Saturday comic book reading.

Last week, while eating fried chicken and drinking cheap beer with Bob, I thought about Triumph, and Triumph reminded me of those Saturday afternoons.

There really was a band named Triumph. They really existed.

If you are a male between the ages of 35-45, there is a 14% chance the name Triumph is sitting there in a very dark corner of your mind’s attic, covered in dust and cobwebs, buried under piles of Super 8 film and flimsy unprotected comic books that would have been worth sooooo much money if only you’d taken better care of them.

Triumph was a Rush derivative.

No, seriously. These three Canadian dudes were a laminated, mimeographed version of the greatest band the Great White North ever gifted to the universe. Triumph sounded like a lighter, wimpier, poppier version of Rush. Like, intentionally.

Like, these guys got together and said, “You know, those Rush guys have something amazing going on. We should sound exactly fucking like them. We’ll take over the world!!”

I can genuinely love Rush and still scratch my head that a band would want to base their look and sound on Rush.

How perfect that the two best songs from this talented, laminated trio were both songs about music itself? “Hold On” and “Magic Power,” borne a few years and a few albums apart, are close siblings in the rock pantheon, both basically about how music makes the world go ‘round. But really, if we’re being honest, both songs are just attempts to pop-ify “The Spirit of Radio,” Rush’s own mind-blowingly awesome song about the same thing.

Triumph’s saving grace is written in their song, however. Sentimentality trumps the critical eye, and the handful of Triumph songs I loved for no good or explicable reason in my youth are now an embedded part of my life’s soundtrack. If I can’t get past my love of Power Pack or Alien Legion, then I sure as hell can’t get past Triumph.

Listen to your heart! Hoooowoooowooold on... to your dreams!!


troutking said...

Great post, Billy! I had totally forgotten about Triumph. What about Lay It On the Line? That's a great song...or seemed to be 20-plus years ago. I bet you also owned GTR's one album, featuring members of Asia, Yes and Genesis. Same thing, different side of the border/ocean. I'm looking forward to Rush/Triumph night! I know Randy will be there.

rodle said...

Sign me up, Trout. I'll bring the harmonica and the LaBatt's.

Bob said...

I think the songs you've posted are about the only two Triumph songs I know. I gotta say, I'm not hearing the Rush in their sound. I'm getting more of a Styx vibe. But, then, I don't know fuck-all about Rush.