Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Victim of a Song

Harlequin was originally formed in the mid-seventies. After several demos and trips to Toronto, Harlequin was finally discovered playing in a tiny bar in Toronto by representatives of Jack Douglas, legendary producer of Aerosmith, Patti Smith and John Lennon. Ironically, the scouts for Douglas' company had actually intended to see Goddo, the band playing downstairs, but were turned away due to a sold old show. Instead they retired upstairs to a much smaller bar - only to be blown away by the band, playing a high-energy set of strong original songs for only a handful of people. This chance meeting led to a production deal with Douglas.

With Douglas’ help, Harlequin signed a deal with CBS/Epic (home to Cheap Trick and Eddie Money) in 1979. The band proceeded to amaze everyone at the label by pushing the first release "Victim of a Song"(1979) to gold status through sheer hard-work, incessant touring, word of mouth and solid song-writing. Songs like Sweet Things in Life, You are the Light and Survive introduced the band to radio to many markets in Canada - especially Western Canada.

Unlike many bands of their era, Harlequin is still a staple of rock radio in Canada, where the band's old and new hits still receive remarkable amounts of airplay. Fueled by this continued success at radio, the band still tours, gaining new fans all the time, and attracting anyone who loves Canadian rock at it's finest. As a matter of fact I got to see them in 2006 at new Year's Eve bash here in Victoria along with Helix, the Headpins and Prism. It was a rockin' New Year's Eve. My Can Con entry for this Years Canada Day. If You're looking for more Canadian content in honor of Canada Day, you can check out my last years posts here and I'm pretty sure the links are still active.

Shame Shame
Sweet Things in Life 
out of print

Funny Toon

Monday, June 28, 2010

Don't Stop

Lots going on last week, this week which will see much Canada Day festivities observed by the homercat household plus the standard work stuff which I seem to be getting more jobs of late so posting will be pretty spotty here for a couple weeks (like it hasn't been already).

Billy Idol's solo career began with an EP titled Don't Stop which was released in 1981. It included his solo rendition of "Dancing with Myself"(basically a remix of the Generation X version) and a cover of Tommy James & The Shondells' song "Mony Mony". Mony Mony initially reached #107 in 1981, then 6 years later in 87 it rocketed to the #1 spot as a live version. Both songs became his first singles and remain part of his classic live setlists as of 2010. Also included was a re recorded Gen X song, Untouchables, and the catchy Idol penned Baby Talk. The EP peaked at number 71 on the Billboard 200 and generated considerable anticipation for Billy's first full length album released the following year. On the 1983 cd reissue, a 12 minute interview with Billy Idol by MTV VJ Martha Quinn was included. That was back when MTV used to play music videos and was actually relevant to music.  Unless you have this EP Baby Talk is a song that you don't hear very often. It's a fun little pop song and is also the song that Billy would start his concerts with in the early 80's.


Baby Talk
Buy It


Funny Toon

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Head On


Bachman-Turner Overdrive's fifth release, Head On, came out in December of 1975. Unfortunately this album pretty much heralds the end of the Bachman-Turner Overdrive story. That doesn't mean it's a bad album, quite the opposite. The tracks are mostly typical BTO stuff yet Randy Bachman's dominance of the group is apparent -- his face alone fills the front cover (although the original vinyl cover folded out into a huge poster featuring the whole band), he produced the record, and he wrote or co-wrote five of the nine songs. You can hear the band slightly going into a new direction, which isn't a bad thing overall. The album's 9 songs are all party bar band keepers and many bands don't have this many good tunes on a greatest hits album. Bachman would stick around for one more studio album which he totally dominated and then the band in this particular incarnation was pretty much done. One last note, on the song Take it Like a Man, that guy tickling the ivories is none other than Little Richard. Near the end of the song you can hear CF Turner say, Play it Richard, in which he does so with gusto.


It's Over
Take it Like a Man
Buy It


Funny Toon

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Montrose

When people think about lists for best albums or must have albums one band seems to get lost in the shuffle. In fact if you are a true connisseur of rock n roll, then you must own the 1973 debut album from Montrose. No collection would be complete without it. A guitar, a bass, some drums and a singer whose vocal could peel paint. A simple formula for hard rock that served as a template for hard rock bands that followed. One of the first American-bred hard rock groups to challenge British supremacy in the early '70s. Just listen to Rock Candy, man that is one nasty gut crunching riff.

Guitarist Ronnie Montrose worked with Van Morrison and Edgar Winter in the early seventies before he decided to form his own band in 1973 with a couple session pros and an upstart, talented kid from California on vocals. Some guy named Sammy Hagar. Ronnie was a magician with that Les Paul of his and one listen to their debut album and you see what I mean by must have music. I'm talking about up tempo, foot tapping, beer drinking rock and roll songs that simply scream at you to be played at maximum volume.

Sammy Hagar did not do any guitar work on this album, all of which was left to Ronnie Montrose and was one of the reasons which led to unrest between the two of them and Sammy's eventual departure after their second album in which we all know he started his solo career.

Things between Hagar and Montrose had become so strained just prior to the split, that for the last dates of their final tour they refused to stand anywhere near each other on the stage. What a shame. Montrose underwent several personnel changes through the rest of its span in the seventies. After the band split up for good in 76, Montrose took time off to hunt and formed the band Gamma in the early eighties.

I believe Sammy and Ronnie have patched things up now, as a matter of fact, Ronnie participated on Sammy's, “First Annual Cabo Wabo Cruise” a couple years ago.

Rock Candy
Bad Motor Scooter
Buy It

Funny Toon

Friday, June 04, 2010

Fantastic

I have really been spending a lot of time playing and ripping all this new (to me) vinyl that we've acquired over the last couple months. I've mentioned the K-Tel brand before and those records are the ones I have had the most fun transferring to digital.

It seems that the years from 73 to 78 were the most prolific for the K-Tel records especially since a lot of what I've been ripping are from 1973. I believe that AM radio was still king at the time and there didn't seem to be specialty stations like there is now. There was such a diverse amount of music being played on AM back then. A station might play a Tony Orlando and Dawn song and the next song would be from the Edgar Winter Group. FM was still in it's infancy waiting to grow up and kick AM radio's butt with it's format specialization and cleaner sound. Those days are gone but we've got 14 vinyl albums to remind us of what it was like. Almost everyone my age has a special fondness in our hearts for these old cheesy platters. This K-Tel album is called Fantastic and it came out in 1973. It has a whopping 22 original hits and some crazy edits or re recording to fit that many tunes on the record. This record was very clean and almost mint compared to some of our others. You may hear a couple clicks or pops, but not many. Here is the track list for this album.
Artist- Title
Stories- Brother Louie
Elton John- Crocodile Rock
Dawn (featuring Tony Orlando)- Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
Focus- Hocus Pocus
The Sweet- Little Willy
Bill Withers- Lean On Me
Lobo- It Sure Took A Long, Long Time
Vicki Lawrence- The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia
The Incredible Bongo Band- Bongo Rock
New York City- I'm Doin' Fine Now
Barry White- I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby
Maureen McGovern- The Morning After
Chester -Make My Life a Little Bit Brighter
Les Emmerson- Cry Your Eyes Out
Charlie Daniels- Uneasy Rider
Albert Hammond- The Free Electric Band
Foster Sylvers- Misdemeanor
Five Man Electrical Band- I'm A Stranger Here
Stampeders- Minstrel Gypsy
Peter Foldy- Bondi Junction
Jim Stafford- Swamp Witch
Elton John- Rocket Man
While recording and listening to this one I found it a very enjoyable experience. The edit on the Barry White song cracked me up, it was like just starting then it was over.  So I have put up a couple of the more obscure tunes here today.

Bill Withers- Lean On MeJim Stafford- Swamp Witch
Charlie Daniels- Uneasy Rider

Now I will say this, if there is anybody out there who would like a copy of each of the 14 K-Tel albums in our collection I would be glad to hook a fella up. All one would have to do is send me an email. Check the comments to this post for my email and details on how to get these goodies. Have a great weekend all.


Funny Toon