Sunday, August 31, 2008

John Perrone

Classical guitarist John Perrone was born in Toronto, of Spanish and Italian extraction. As a young man he traveled and studied music with Manuel Lopez Ramos in Mexico and Alirio Diaz in Italy. After moving back to Canada, Perrone often wrote and played music for the CBC, appeared as a guest on many television and radio variety shows, established a reputation as a popular and critically-respected live performer and taught at The Royal Conservatory Of Music.

He also recorded a number of albums, including this CTL release named Estudio de Juan, which was recorded by engineer Peter Houston, with CTL musical director Johnny Burt acting as recording supervisor. Perrone is accompanied by an orchestra on this LP, but none of the orchestral performers are identified. "La Fiesta" is a cover of a jaunty number written by Byron Williams and popularized in the late '60s by The Nashville String Band. The melancholy "Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet" is another oft-covered tune, written by Nino Rota for the soundtrack to Franco Zeffirelli's cinematic adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. And the pensive "Taboo" is another standard, written by Ernesto Lecuona; longtime visitors to this blog may remember organist Phil La Penna's version.

La Fiesta
Love Theme From Romeo and Juliet

Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Laurie Bower Singers

It's turning into two-timer week here at FBOBT; here are a couple of tracks by easy-listening popsters The Laurie Bower Singers, who made their first appearance on this blog last December.

This Canadian Talent Library LP, actually entitled Take Me Home, Country Roads, was released in 1982, although it definitely sounds like it was recorded during the '70s. There are no liner notes, so there's no information about where it was recorded or who played on it. The entire album is made up of covers of songs by a mix of Canadian and American artists; "Lay It On Me" is a slick Bee Gees number, while the bittersweet "Love And Maple Syrup" was originally by Gordon Lightfoot.

Lay It On Me
Love And Maple Syrup

Note: These songs have been archived at It Came From Canada.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pete Schofield and The Canadian College All-Stars

Bandleader, teacher and saxophonist Pete Schofield is another two-timer on FBOBT (1). On this album, entitled The Old Meets The New, he leads a group of young musicians named The Canadian College All-Stars through their paces. This site includes a bit more information about Schofield, including a photo of another album of his named It's A Sign Of The Times.

Schofield's daughter Kim left a comment on my last post which stated that Pete's studio was located in their family's basement, and that after he passed away in 1995 she and her brothers kept an informal rehearsal band going; according to a comment she left on the other site linked above, they continue to meet every Tuesday night to this day, and one member has been involved with the group for over 50 years!

This LP was recorded by engineer Peter Houston with arrangements by Jerry Nichols, and the Canadian College All-Stars - all of whom were between 15 and 18 years old (a little young for college, you'd think) - were:

Pete Schofield: alto and soprano saxophone, clarinet
Bill Jackman: alto saxophone, clarinet
Steve Seto: tenor saxophone, clarinet
George Zarras: tenor saxophone, clarinet
Pete Maher: baritone and alto saxophone, clarinet
Ian MacKay: trumpet
Bob Edwards: lead guitar
Brian Pattullo: rhythm guitar
Rick Homme: bass
Garry Owens: drums

All of the songs on this album are covers. "007 Medley" weaves together the brassy themes from the Bond flicks Dr. No and Goldfinger, while "King of the Road" is a swingin' take on the Roger Miller hit which features a tight, jazzy solo on guitar by Bob Edwards. "And I Love Her" rounds things out with a fairly faithful rendition of The Beatles' classic.

007 Medley
King Of The Road
And I Love Her

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

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Eric Mercury

I was originally going to put this album on The Thrifty Digger. But after a bit of searching I discovered that soul/r&b singer Eric Mercury was born here in Toronto, so I'm posting it here instead. Born into a musically-inclined family, Mercury was singing in school and church choirs by the age of five. Towards the end of the '50s, Eric was bitten by the rock 'n' roll bug and sang with bands like The Pharaohs (which also included Jay Jackson, future lead singer with The Majestics) and his own group, Eric Mercury and The Soul Searchers (who toured in a revue with Dianne Brooks).

In 1968 Mercury moved to Chicago to start a solo career and kicked things off by recording a single named "Lonely Girl". Between '69 and '81 he recorded five LPs, including the one I'm posting here, 1972's Funky Sounds Nurtured In The Fertile Soil Of Memphis That Smell Of Rock, plus the odd single here and there. Throughout the '70s he also appeared in a production of Jesus Christ Superstar and wrote songs, sang backup and produced work for Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. In 1986, Mercury moved back to Toronto and managed a group named Age Of Reason for a while, before returning to work as a writer and producer in Canada and the U.S.

Aside from Mercury, there isn't much about Funky Sounds... that's Canadian. It was produced and arranged for Enterprise Records by Steve Cropper at TMI Sound Studios in Memphis and engineered by Ron Capone and Jim Gaines, with string arrangements by Dale Warren. Mercury's musical accompaniment on the album was Jim Johnson on bass, Richie Simpson on drums, Cropper and Paul Cannon on guitar, Jay Spell on piano and organ and William "Smitty" Smith also on organ, with The Memphis Horns rounding things out. "I Can Smell That Funky Music," the album's leadoff track, is a driving r&b number written by Cropper, Eddie Floyd and Mack Rice, while "Stop Looking Down," by Cropper and Mary Williams, is a bumpin' funk tune with nice horn arrangements. And "It's Time For Me To Love You," at 9:23 by far the longest track on the album, is an unstoppable groovy jam credited to Cropper, Mercury and "Smitty" Smith.

I Can Smell That Funky Music
Stop Looking Down
It's Time For Me To Love You

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

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ned Landry

Fiddling legend Ned Landry makes his second appearance here on FBOBT (1) with a few selections from Arc Records release #610, entitled Ned Landry and His Fiddle (not, as the cover would have you believe, Ned Landry and Other Fiddle Favourites).

A commenter on my first Landry post informed me that Ned continues to write and play music to this day, and still makes the occasional public appearance here and there. He has also recorded with his great-grandchildren Alexander and Alison Landry, who perform together billed as The Fiddling Landrys.

Unlike More Ned Landry Fiddle Favourites, this album doesn't identify any of the musicians who accompany Landry, nor does it include any information regarding where and by whom it was recorded. However, it does equal that LP's high level of musicianship, even if nothing on it is quite as great as "Hillbilly Calypso" (a song "Dale's Beat" does somewhat resemble). I was hoping that "Chinese Breakdown" would be a little more, you know, Chinese, but all three tracks I've included here are sterling examples of Landry's craft.

Chinese Breakdown
Dale's Beat
Ontario Swing

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

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The York Lions Steel Band

This is the second post here on FBOBT to feature The York Lions Steel Band (1), and this time I've found their first LP, We Come Out To Play. The LP's subtitle reads "York Lions Steel Band at The Canadian National Exhibition," but it was recorded at St. Hilda's Anglican Church in Toronto, so it's not a live album. However, they did play at the CNE for five days in 1974, and the opening number of their performances was also the title track of this album.

The liner notes of this album go into a bit more detail about the group's history than On The Beach At Waikiki's did. The band was formed in 1972 when brothers Don, Ted and Doug Saunders acquired a set of steel drums. When Doug's daughter Debbie joined the group, they decided to put together an entire steel drum orchestra and convinced the York Lions Club to sponsor the ensemble. Recruitment and rehearsals went on throughout 1972, and by the following year the group had started making public appearances and touring throughout Canada and the U.S.

We Come Out To Play features arrangements by Jerry Jerome (of The Cardells) and Doug, Don and Debbie Saunders, who also plays lead. The band members are too numerous to name individually, but I will mention that the regular drum kit heard on the album was played by Brian McGee. The LP's song selection is a mix of originals, calypso standards like "Yellow Bird" and "Jamaican Farewell" and contemporary rock and disco covers. The aforementioned "We Come Out To Play" is a fast number clearly written with making a good first impression in mind. "Love's Theme," a slower tune that builds to several crescendos, is almost certainly a cover, but I can't quite place it. "T.S.O.P. (Soul Train)" is an awesome cover of the theme to the TV show Soul Train that features funky steel drum solos, and "(Don't) Rock The Boat" is another disco cover with drum breaks courtesy of Brian McGee.

We Come Out To Play
Love's Theme
T.S.O.P. (Soul Train)
(Don't) Rock The Boat

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

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Contrevent were a Quebecois modern jazz group who were around in the mid-'80s, but there isn't much on the internet about them. I can tell you that the group consisted of Russell Gagnon (cello), Marc Vallee (guitar, piano), Francois Beausoleil (vibraphone, percussion), Gerard Paradis (bass) and Michel Dufour (drums).

As far as I can tell, Jeu de paume was recorded at Quebec City's Studio PSM-16 in May and June of 1985. Production is credited to Contrevent, and all of the songs were written by Marc Vallee except for "D'eau," which was written by Francois Beausoleil. "Acoustifunk" is a frenetic number with a bit of, yes, funk in the mix. The slower, atmospheric "Jeu de paume" has an arrangement dominated by vibraphone and cello, while the mid-tempo "Creme de menthe" gives each member of the band a chance to show off a bit, although it prominently features Vallee's guitar. And the plaintive "D'eau" is almost entirely a solo piece for Beausoleil's vibraphone, with some synthesizer in there as well.

Jeu de paume
Creme de menthe

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

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

The Purple Toads

Oshawa, Ontario's The Purple Toads were a punky garage band who came together after an earlier group named Durango 95 broke up in 1985. Rob Sweeney (guitar, vocals), Paul MacNeil (guitar) and Roger Branton (bass) - former members of Durango 95 - hooked up with drummer Mark Keigan and released a self-titled debut album in 1986. Its mix of originals and classic trash rock covers found an audience on college radio stations across Canada, and in 1988 they released the LP I'm posting today; Love Songs For The Hard Of Hearing. It garnered favourable reviews from as far away as Europe, but by that time the band was already falling apart and they broke up not long afterwards. However, the original members did get back together for a few reunion gigs in 2004; here's a video of them playing a tune named "Love's All Gone" at Toronto's Horseshoe Tavern.

Released on Oshawa's Star Records label, Love Songs For The Hard Of Hearing was recorded in 1988 at Quest Recording Studios in Oshawa, and was produced by the band and Paul La Chappelle. "Wildtime" was written by Sweeney, while "All I Want" and "Love On Your Back" were by MacNeil and "Tobacco Road" is a cover of the classic John D. Loudermilk tune. All four are straight-up garage punk, served fast and trashy.

All I Want
Love On Your Back
Tobacco Road

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

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Ina Harris

Singer Ina Harris was married to guitarist 'Smiling' Al Harris. A former student of Al's, they got hitched in 1960 and often performed together as a duo until she passed away in 1990. Unfortunately, that's about all I could dig up on Ina.

Ina...naturally was released on Periwinkle Records (probably sometime during the '70s), with production and arrangements by label boss Art Snider. Ina's backing band isn't identified, but all of the songs that aren't covers (including the three I've posted) were written by Irving Dobbs. "Yearning" is an easy-listening tune with a lounge feel, while "Tell Me That You Care" has more of a country touch, albeit in a '70s "countrypolitan" way. "How You Cry," my favourite song on the album, is a jazzy tune with an atmospheric arrangement including vibraphone, piano, organ and some nice runs on electric guitar (by Al?).

How You Cry
Tell Me That You Care

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