Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Retro Canadiana

Today in Music History:

In 1987, Billy Idol knocked Tiffany from the No.1 single position on the US singles chart with his version of Tommy James ' Mony Mony'. Tiffany had been at No.1 with another Tommy James song ' I Think We're Alone Now.'


Remember that guy Nick Gilder who had that one hit wonder, Hot Child in the City? Before recording that majestic piece of pop goodness he was in a band Canadian glam-like outfit called Sweeney Todd. Soon after releasing their debut album Sweeney Todd quickly ruled the Great White North. Clark Perry took over the lead role and the band recorded a different rendering of "Roxy Roller". Almost immediately Chrysalis Records wooed Gilder and guitarist Jim McCulloch to Los Angeles and the duo bolted, leaving Sweeney Todd without a creative anything. They eventually recruited this young 16 yr old upstart by the name of Bryan Adams to take over lead vocal duties. Perhaps you've heard of him. I think Sweeney Todd released only two albums and Adams fell out of favor with Sweeney Todd after exhaustive touring in support of their second album, and split to return to high school. A year later, in 1978, Adams happened upon his soon-to-be songwriting partner, Prism's Jim Vallance, in a music store.

Sweeney Todd's biggest hit, Roxy Roller, has several different versions. The first with Nick Gilder. Clark Perry took over the lead role right after Gilder and the band recorded a different rendering of "Roxy Roller" before Perry was replaced by Bryan Adams. The story goes that Adams went to see a band called 'Sweeney Todd', the lead singer at that time (Perry)wasn't meant to be that good and word has it that Bryan told him so during the gig. The singer said that if he could do any better he should come up and try. Adams did just that and remained the bands lead singer. Adams sang on yet another "Roxy Roller" and accepted a Juno award on behalf of the original Gilder version. In addition Gilder released a 4th version on his first solo album. Confused yet? Sweeney Todd's second album If Wishes Were Horses features the earliest Bryan Adams' songs, as well as holdovers from Gilder and McCulloch (including the excellent "Tantalize"). "Song for a Star" details Adams' attempts at mimicking the Bolan-like-brainiac Gilder.

Is or was Roxy Roller a good enough pop tune to have been recorded 4 different times? A decent enough song I suppose but the listener would have to judge for himself. I believe this is the first original version.

Roxy Roller by Sweeney Todd
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