Thursday, November 29, 2007

Les Jaguars

Saguenay, Quebec's Les Jaguars were formed in 1962 and rose to the top of the Quebecois rock scene with their mix of surf rock and lounge guitar. After releasing a number of singles and a couple of LP's on the Tournesol label, their audience thinned out as vocal groups influenced by The Beatles and the rest of the British Invasion began to gain in popularity. By 1966 they'd called it a day, but the band's leader, Arthur Cossette, recorded for a short while as "Arthur, a crazy long haired, flowered hipster pants wearing garage band weirdo," before joining Les Sinners after the death of their lead singer and resurrecting Les Jaguars several times over the years for tours and new recordings.



Although Les Jaguars did record some songs with vocals, these four tracks are totally instrumental. The page I linked to up above describes their sound as somewhere between Link Wray and The Shadows, and that's about right, although their comparatively mannered style lacks Wray's all-out abandon.

Arvida, Nous Voici
Solitude
Guitare Jet
Guitare Strip


Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Jenny Reeves

Whenever I'm out looking for records, one label I'm always happy to spot is Paragon Records, best known today as the company that put out the music collected on the Canada's Message To The Meters funk/r&b compilation. Paragon, which was run by label boss Jack Boswell and engineer Bill Bessey, also put out a lot of good country music by artists like Bev Marie, Roy Payne and the subject of today's post, Jenny Reeves. I can't find anything about Reeves on the internet, but here are the album's liner notes:

"Jenny Reeves was born Jennine Mayer in Ottawa, Ontario. She started her musical career at seventeen and has been singing ever since. She appears with her husband Gerry Reeves and Andy Greatrix and Chef Adams. Operating out of Toronto, this very popular group tours Canada and The United States. Each member of the group records their own albums for Paragon Records. Jenny and her husband Gerry have written many songs, one of which, "I Wish I Knew," is included in this album. We are happy to present JENNY.

Pensonnel:
Jenny Reeves - vocal
Ollie Strong - steel guitar *
Chef Adams - rhythm guitar
Gerry Reeves - lead guitar
Andy Greatrix - bass
Bunty Petrie - drums

Produced by Jack Boswell and Bill Bessey"

* Ollie Strong's name pops up all over the place, including (!) Funkadelic's America Eats Its Young album.



Jenny is an album of country/pop not unlike the Sharon Strong LP I'm so fond of, but whereas Strong's album (recorded when she was 15) is full of wide-eyed paens to true love, Reeve's is given to world-weary laments like "Stand By Your Man" and "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" (both massive hits for Tammy Wynette). "Working Girl" is a Norma Jean number (originally titled "Heaven Help The Working Girl") about a waitress who just can't catch a break in "a world that's run by men," and has some nice, unexpected splashes of electric guitar throughout. "Cajun Love" is a rollicking sort of history lesson sung partially in French, and "One Man Woman" is a brassy kiss-off to some guy who tries to get her to leave her man for him. "I Wish I Knew," the one Reeves original here, is the bleakest song of the bunch, a four-alarm weeper in which the singer's husband stays out all night, a drinkin' and a carryin' on. Fairly standard country music subject matter...until the end of the song, where she dies in childbirth in her own bed - while her husband is out cheating on her - and looks down from heaven with her dead son, watching her husband "weep and cry" in his "empty home." Heavy.

Working Girl
One Man Woman
Cajun Love
I Wish I Knew


Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

The Travellers

Canadian folk music institution The Travellers were formed in Toronto in 1953 by Jerry Gray, Sid Dolgay, Helen Gray, Jerry Goodis and Harry Ross. Gray was the nominal leader and only constant member of the ensemble, and well over a dozen singers and musicians would pass through its ranks over the years. At the time this album was recorded, The Travellers consisted of soprano Simone Johnston, Gray (tenor and banjo), Dolgay (bass and mando-cello), Ray Woodley (baritone and guitar) and bassist Jack Lander, with Eugene Dolny listed as the "artistic director".

During the '50's and '60's the group made regular appearances on the CBC, played at the first Mariposa Folk Festival and toured throughout Canada, Britain and the Soviet Union. In 1967, the year of the Centennial, they played over 100 shows throughout Canada and released an album of organized labour tunes entitled A Century Of Song, and in 1970 they were featured at the Canada Pavillion at Expo '70 in Osaka, Japan.

Throughout the '70's the group cut back on its performing itinerary, but continued to make appearances at schools, labour rallies and political events. The group was never officially disbanded, and Gray continues to perform with an incarnation of The Travellers to this day. There were reunion concerts with a few of the past members taking part in 1980 and 1990, but sadly it seems as though some left or were forced out under acrimonious circumstances due to ideological differences and do not look back at their time in the group fondly.



Making Hay With The Travellers was released on Columbia Records in 1965. "Acres Of Clams" is a northwest American folk song that dates back to 1874 and has been sung and recorded under a dozen different titles. "Sinner Man" is a harrowing American spiritual, best-known for having been recorded by The Weavers and Nina Simone. And "Lonesome Traveller" is another American folk standard, written by Lee Hays of The Weavers, one that slowly builds to an almost frightening intensity.

Acres Of Clams
Sinner Man
Lonesome Traveller

Sunday, November 18, 2007

The Hansen-Eaton Duo

Prior to joining up to form a duo, Kenora, Ontario's Florence Hansen (whose parents were Finnish) had performed with her sister Andrea as one half of The Hansen Sisters, while Edith Eaton (whose background was Czech-German) had been teamed with at least one other singer. After forming their partnership at Expo 67 in Montreal, they toured throughout Canada, the U.S., Germany, Egypt, Cyprus and the Carribean while working for the CBC and the United Nations.





Destination Finland - Instrumentally Yours, my copy of which is signed "Merry Christmas Val and a very happy 1973 - Edith & Florence," was released on Dominion Records, presumably during the early '70's. Joining the Duo (Florence on violin, Edith on accordion) on their first album are three Canadian musicians; Ted Roberts (who also played with The Travellers) on guitar, William Turner on bass and Shan Clifford on drums. While Eaton and Hansen played music from all over the world, this album sticks to snappy, occasionally jazz-inflected Finnish instrumentals, although "I Remember Janatuinen" does show a bit of early rock and roll influence.

Mina Soitan Sulle Illalla
I Remember Janatuinen
Ei Kauniimpaa


Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Pete Schofield and The Canadians

Pete Schofield was a music teacher, big band leader and, based on the evidence of this album cover, a soprano saxophonist. Along with his younger charges The Canadians he recorded at least two albums on Birchmount Records (this one and It's A Sign Of The Times), but more than that I do not know. As for The Canadians, they evidently had a revolving lineup, but at the time of this album's recording they were Ihor Kukurudza on guitar, Ray Banks on trumpet, John Meydam on drums and Rosy Sidgwick on bass (the rest of the brass section is not identified).



The Now Sound was recorded in 1969 at Sound Canada Studios in Don Mills (which was also home to The Rhythm Ramblers' album) by engineer Phil Sheridan, with musical arragements by Eddie Graff, Ray Sikora and Ken Garland. The album consists in its entirety of thirteen tracks of instrumental pop in the vein of Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass, of which the cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson," with its driving beat and insistent drone, is my personal favourite. Unfortunately, this album wasn't in the best of shape when I found it in a moldy box under a table at a flea market in Sarnia, so be prepared for a little snap, crackle, pop.

(Do You Know The Way To) San Jose
Music To Watch Girls By
Mrs. Robinson
Goin' Out Of My Head


Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.

Monday, November 12, 2007

2nd Anniversary Mix

Today marks this site's second anniversary, and to celebrate I've put together a mix of some of my favourite tunes from the past two years. It's not really a "best of" or "greatest hits" so much as it is a sampling of just a few of the tunes I've personally enjoyed the most.

FBOBT Second Anniversary Mix (49:07, 67.5 MB)

Tracklisting:

Hillbilly Calypso - Ned Landry
Mr. Fortune - The Hitch-Hikers feat. The Mighty Pope
Trains And Cars And All Night Bars - Hank Davis
Curling - Dik Van Dykes
Good-bye - The Cottonpickers
Billy Billy Went A Walking - The Beau-Marks
In The Words Of A Lover - Pat Riccio
Hook And Sling - Frank Motley and the Hitch-Hikers
Season Of The Witch - Dianne Brooks
California - Robert Charlebois avec Louise Forestier
I Hear You Madagascar - Jackie Mittoo
All Over Again - Ray Francis and The Whippoorwills
Chicken Pickin' - Ron McLeod and The Lincoln County Boys
L'Harmonica - Herve Brousseau
Country Roads - The "A" Ukuleles Of Halifax
I Need You - Sharon Strong

Friday, November 09, 2007

It Came From Thunder Bay

Back in June I posted a couple of songs by a group named Lovers From The Moon, from a compilation entitled It Came From Thunder Bay. Those tracks were quiet, acoustic numbers, but the rest of the album is mostly straight-up harcore punk rock, some examples of which I'm posting today. Virtually everything I found on these bands came via BandWiki, a truly awe-inspiring collection of information about groups from The T-Bay, as my wife (who grew up there) calls it.



Bonehead - The Dinks

The one actual article I could find about The Dinks described them thusly; "Picture a bassist in nothing but a g-string baby, a singer who crawls around the stage in white jeans and stares you down until he is literally face-to-face with the audience and some rock solid drumming and wailing guitar solos. Add enough sexual overtones to make Bowie blush and you’ll see The Dinks are a live band through and through." Okay, then.

Rawk Knocker - Headcramp

Headcramp were Meathead Records' original raison d'être, as the label was conceived in order to distribute a 7" single by the band in 1992. This zine from '94 describes them as "Thunder Bay's best-known band," and a comment on this blog claims that "Some would say that Headcramp was the best band to ever come out of Thunder Bay." At any rate, Headcramp were Brent Digiuseppe on bass and vocals, Gary Dougherty on drums, Moose, Lee Arnone and Spider Violence on guitars, and, later, Johnny Nasty on drums.

Slipping - G.I. Jill

G.I. Jill were Dawn McMurray on bass, guitar and vocals, Lisa Bostrom on guitar, Mary-Jane Fogarty on bass, Miranda Gullons on drums and Shelly Legros on bass and vocals (I'm guessing the three bassists weren't all in the band at the same time). Apparently they put out one tape and opened for The Monoxides on March 26th, 1996 at former Thunder Bay live music institution Crocks 'n' Rolls.

Abstainer - Withstand

Withstand were an early version of the group Strychnine, which consisted, in various incarnations, of Randy Young on vocals, Mike Dohan on bass and vocals, Dave Sisko on guitar, Jesse Thom on drums, Dan Scaffeo on vocals, Jay Cano on guitar and Kirk Lemon on vocals. As Strychnine, they put out a couple of tapes and a CD and broke up in 2000.

Airborne Dog Fun - Love In Venice

Love In Venice, who were more of a grunge outfit than the other bands here, were vocalist Mahlon Ward, guitarist Mike Ball, drummer Arek Wojciechowski and bassist Rob Hole, who was replaced by Kevin McParland. They released a few recordings, toured western Canada, and broke up in 1996 when Mike Ball moved to Ottawa. Here's a brief review of their album Fraid.

Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Cliff Edwards

Kingston's Cliff Edwards was a founding member of The Five Bells, an enormously popular soft-rock group that formed in the mid-'60's and scored several hits throughout the following decade. Edwards went on to a fairly successful solo career while still in the band and released albums on Polydor, Columbia and A&M Records over the course of the next fifteen years. Eventually, he left the music industry to work as a set designer and camera operator for CKWS-TV in Kingston, and later wrote and produced a kids' show entitled The Corner Shop. Most recently, Edwards rejoined The Bells for a series of reunion concerts in 2003, and helped to oversee the compilation of a greatest hits album for the group.



Transition was released in 1973 on Polydor Records, and was recorded at Toronto Sounds Studios, with production by Edwards and engineering by Peter Houston. Edwards' musical backing consisted of Brian Edwards on bass and Rayburn Blake (both of whom were in Mashmakhan and Riverson together) on guitar, Leon Aronson on piano, Wayne Stone (of Grant Smith & The Power, Motherlode and Dr. Music) on drums, and backup singers Rhonda Silver, Dianne Brooks, Laurel Black and Stephanie Taylor. It all adds up to an LP of country and folk-rock in an early '70's singer-songwriter vein. "You've Gone Away" is a melancholy, atmospheric tune by Marty Reno (who performed with and wrote songs for Gene MacLellan). "Faces" is another morose number written by MacLellan himself, while "Still Lovin' You" (by Ken Tobias) is more upbeat, with a couple of funky breaks and a sweetly-crooned fade out. And "Hold Me," an Edwards original, is a softly rocking number with nice work on organ and electric guitar.

You've Gone Away
Faces
Still Lovin' You
Hold Me

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Burt Cuff

I can't track down anything about Newfoundland country singer Burt Cuff, and even the liner notes don't have much in the way of information to offer:

"It's a long way from the cold Atlantic-washed shores of Newfoundland to the sunny hill country of Tennessee, but Burt Cuff has travelled the route - singing all the way.

Memphis, Tennessee is the continent's rockabilly music centre and Newfoundland, where Burt was born and raised, is fast gaining notice as a land of fine country singers. From Newfoundland to Memphis, then, was for Burt Cuff a natural progression.

Fittingly, Burt's first record was "The Island Of Newfoundland," a hit which solidly established him. Since then he has maintained his popularity and developed into a fine composer of country and pop songs. "The Island Of Newfoundland" and a Cuff original, "Cry Boy Cry," are on this record. These songs, plus others, make a very pleasing album of songs - old, new, happy and blue - songs from Memphis to Tennessee.

AN ARC PRODUCTION

Direction - Ben Weatherby"



Mr. Cuff might be a bit of a mystery, but we do at least have his music, country tunes with just a hint of rockabilly and r&b mixed in, to go by. "The Island Of Newfoundland," which was subsequently covered by Dick Nolan, brings to mind Roy Payne's spirited anthems honouring the eastern island province. "Seven Days A Week" and "Cry Boy Boy" are heavily Johnny Cash-inspired numbers, and "An Angel Came," the best song here, is a lonesome ballad with an early-'50's rock feel.

The Island Of Newfoundland
Seven Days A Week
An Angel Came
Cry Boy Cry


Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.