By Jody MacPherson
Fort McMurray Express, Oct. 29, 1986
“To dance is human, but to polka is divine.”
With that bit of wisdom, K.D. Lang and The Reclines set the mood for her recent performance at Keyano Theatre.
“She’s a fruitcake,” said a grandfatherly type sitting next to me, “but she’s good.”
That statement is probably the simplest way of summing up K.D. Lang. Since she and her band released their first album “A Truly Western Experience,” everyone has tried to analyze her appeal and that has led to the inevitable comparisons.
Rolling Stone says she looks “a little like Buddy Holly and sounds a little like Patsy Cline.” The Village Voice says she looks like the Ricky Nelson side of Clark Kent, moves like Elvis (both/either) and sings as if she’s the reincarnation of Patsy Cline.” The Rocket says she “looks like a cross between Minnie Pearl and Buddy Holly.”
Lang recently won a Juno for the Most Promising Female Vocalist of 1985. Now she is a star in her own right and she can’t be compared to anyone else. Her magic is just that…her magic. It’s not borrowed from anyone else.
Sporting a longer hair cut and without her cat’s eye glasses, Lang is coming into her own. She’s still great at belting out the old favourites as she did with “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden,” and “Skip a Rope,” but she adds her own twist to the songs that almost makes them better than the original.
Imagine “Walk On By” to a Latin American beat, or “Goldfinger” (as in James Bond) with a country twang.
“It’s okay to laugh,” Lang told the audience.
Despite a cold, (she said she should rename her band “K.D. Lang and the Cold Symptoms”) Lang dazzled the audience with a mixture of music that was bound to appeal to everyone’s tastes.
“Johnny Get Angry” with the memorable line “I want a brave man/I want a cave man,” was a real treat, along with one of the big hits from her first album, “Hanky Panky.” Her rendition of Patsy Cline’s first hit, “Walkin’ After Midnight” was pure blues.
Lang claims she’s the reincarnation of Cline, who died in a plane crash in 1963. Lang, who’s only in her early twenties, recalled one song’s release back in 1957. She played the part of a Cline reincarnate to a tee.
Lang has strong back-up in her band, “The Reclines.” The voice of bass guitarist Dennis Marcenko was surprisingly good, but with lead guitarist Gord Mathews heading up one song, the band became an everyday bar band and Lang’s presence was sorely missed. Lang came through with “Shake-A-Rock-A-Polka” (“the dance craze in Nashville, Edmonton and Bulgaria”), “Pig Dirt” and the “Don’t Be a Lemming Polka.” The range of her voice continually startled the audience as she went from a throaty growl to a church choir soprano and everywhere in-between.
She combines it all with a natural flair for the dramatic and a hearty sense of humor, as was witnessed in her encore.
Watch for the Consort, Alberta (pop. 650) native’s new album “Angel With a Lariat,” due to be released in February of 1987. I will be.