Remembering “Navy Blues”

Truth be told in the fall of 1998 I had no idea who Sloan were. Sloane Peterson a definitive yes. Sloan the band a profound no. That was until my buddy Dave enlightened me about this great Canadian rock outfit called Sloan. Dave, knowing I was a huge Beatles and Oasis junkie, told me that the closest thing he’s heard to a modern day Beatles record was Navy Blues which had just dropped earlier in the spring. So I did what any 17 year old kid living in suburbia would do in 1998. I drove to the mall. Luckily for me the now defunct Wall music store had the album for a crisp $18.99. I bought it without hearing a single note played. These were the days before Napster, Limewire, Kazaa, iTunes, YouTube, Spotify, etc. Only ways to discover a band were radio, television, a concert, maybe a music magazine (usually British) or simply word of mouth. 

Sloan come out of the gate swinging on Navy Blues. Songs like “She Says What She Means”, “C’Mon C’Mon (We’re Gonna Get It Started)” and “Iggy & Angus” are pure late 70s arena rock on steroids. Nothing but power chords and monster riffs. Navy Blues has more in common with a Kiss album than say Rubber Soul. That is not to say the album doesn’t contain Beatlesque moments because it definitely channels some serious mop top vibes on “Sinking Ships”, “Seems So Heavy” (an incredible Lennon Revolver era vocal take), “Suppose They Close The Door” and “I Wanna Thank You”. For me the show stealers on this record are the pre-game hockey anthem “Money City Maniacs” and the bouncing “Stand By Me, Yeah”. Two timeless tracks I’ll ride and die with on my iPhone forever. 

What strikes me the hardest when listening to Navy Blues is the production. The album sounds so organic and real. As if all band members are recording this album in the same small room, at the same time, to tape. This is clearly an analog production. Great separation between instruments, hard hitting vocals and the drumming is absolutely on point from start to finish. Whoever mixed this LP hit a home run that hasn’t landed yet. Great ears to say the least. I’d be curious to hear other bands/albums who have had this kind of mixing treatment.

It’s been twenty years and I’m glad my buddy Dave pushed not only Navy Blues on me but Sloan as an underrated band from the north. I think Dave used The Beatles line just to draw me into buying the album in the first place. Clever bastard. Discovering their discography and seeing them evolve over time has been a real pleasure. I was excited to learn that Sloan have hinted at a Navy Blues tour to commemorate this album in 2019. Hopefully a vinyl re-release is also in the works because I’m dying to add this piece to my collection. If you made it this far into my trip down memory lane you either love this album too or should rush out to listen to it. You’ll be rewarded. Trust me. 

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