Friday, December 01, 2006

Screamin' Canadian Rock

Today in Music History:

In 1969 A free concert is organized by the Rolling Stones at Altamont Speedway, outside San Francisco. The event turns ugly when sets are disrupted by violence from Hell's Angels, Marty Balin is knocked unconscious, and a concert-goer is stabbed to death.
HeadpinsThe Headpins are the head instructors in Canadian Kick Ass Rock 101 - and school is in session. This ain't no snow day kitties. Originally formed by Brian MacLeod and Ab Bryant as a sort of 'side project' from Chilliwack, the group was rounded out by drummer Bernie Aubin and vocalist Darby Mills, one of the west coast's hottest new singers. Their impact was immediate even before they'd landed a record deal - the band's live magnetism was rivalled by few and they soon became one of the hottest commodities in Canadian rock, beginning with their first show in hometown Vancouver backing up Blackmore's Rainbow. After winning a local radio contest, the group released TURN IT LOUD on the independent Solid Gold Records in 1982. Co-produced by Bill Henderson, who Bryant and MacLeod played with in Chilliwack, the record allowed the Headpins to hit the scene with an experienced master behind the controls. Charged with emotions, MacLeod's guitars rang predominant, almost a friendly battle with Mills' immediately signature voice. The lead-off title-track grabbed you by the balls and refused to let go, and would soon find its place in rock history as one of rock's greatest anthems of all time.

Mills' style became known as the growl and would go on to lead the charge in their energized live show, compared more to Robert Plant or David Coverdale than, say Ann Wilson or Janis Joplin. "Don't It Make Ya Feel" turned the FM stations upside down, and deservedly so, the tune is simply crazy good. The Headpins had arrived and were soon rewarded with a gold record. Word of the band's raucous live show spread and by the time TURN IT LOUD turned platinum just a few short months later, the band had already toured most of North America. The debut would go on to sell over a quarter-million copies in Canada alone and be certified double platinum, making it one of the most successful debut albums by a Canadian group ever.

The band came back in '83 with their follow-up, LINE OF FIRE. Backed by the single, "Feel It (Feel My Body)" and "Don't Stand In The Line Of Fire", the album stayed true to the course its predecessor laid out the year before. LINE OF FIRE not only played the same chords at varying volumes as TURN IT LOUD, but the group also showed growth and diversity with "Feel It", incorporating synthesizers as well as a horn section. Another extended tour ensued, including dates with the likes of KISS, Billy Squier, Helix, Quiet Riot and Whitesnake.

Nearly two years would pass before the Headpins would emerge from the studios again. The result was HEAD OVER HEELS. Typical Headpins, it served up a healthy dose of MacLeod's blazing riffs and once again Mills' unmistakeable voice rang true on "Still The One" and "Death Of Me". Again the band enjoyed sales of nearly 100,000 copies at home alone, making HEAD OVER HEELS their third straight album certified gold or better.

The band went into hiatus for the next couple of years, with each member venturing out to do outside projects, including Mills' 1991 solo effort NEVER LOOK BACK. The rock world was saddened the next year, when Brian MacLeod lost his bout with cancer. The group reformed later that decade and the result was unanimous - people still loved the live magnetism only they can bring to a party.

The band is still packing the houses and kicking ass like no others. A greatest hits package was finally released to the delight of classic rock fans in 2002. The only compilation currently available to span all 3 records, THE COMPLETE GREATEST HITS is a multi-media event - 14 killer tracks that helped shape Canadian rock, as well as the videos for "Just One More Time" and "Don't It Make Ya Feel". Me likey that rock n roll.

Don't It Make Ya Feel by the Headpins
Mine All Mine by the Headpins
Buy It

Funny Toon