Description 57 - Flippin' to the 'A' Side

With the help of some slabs of vinyl I bought in St. Catharines in the mid-'80's, we travel back to a time Canadian pop music was trying to find itself - and so was I.

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(November 25 update below)

The Videos on YouTube
It Doesn't Really Matter by Platinum Blonde
Flippin' to the 'A' Side by Cats Can Fly
L'Affaire Dumoutier (Say to Me) by The Box
Terry David Mulligan on Good Rockin' Tonite
There Was a Time by One to One
Stay in the Light by Honeymoon Suite

View them all as a playlist!

Associated links
Platinum Blonde: official site, @iLike and @last.fm
Standing in the Dark: A Platinum Blonde Fansite
Cats Can Fly @Wikipedia
The Box: official site (Anglais ou Français) and @MySpace
The Box @ CafePress
Terry David Mulligan @CKUA, which has his radio show "Mulligan Stew"
One to One @The Canadian Pop Encyclopedia
Honeymoon Suite: official site, @MySpace and @iLike
Buy from Amazon.ca and from iTunes
St. Catharines Public Library
Fanshawe College (wow, fancy site!)

To you audiophiles...uh, you're here why? :-) Yes, these are over-20-year-old records played on a chintzy record player with a dubious line-in connection to the iRiver. It's still not too far off from how they sounded to me back in tha day. I'm hoping the audio quality, the Fair Use talk, the fabulous links to buy and my best of intentions will keep me from getting some very official-looking emails.

In my research, I found that Terry David Mulligan was one of the growing number of casualties of CTV/Globemedia taking over CHUM/CITY. After Good Rockin' Tonite, TDM moved to Muchmusic, and he was the CHUM/CITY voice of Western reason for a couple decades. But at the end of last year, still under contract, he got turfed just before his home province of B.C. eliminated 65 as the age of mandatory retirement (TDM turned 66 last June). This of course is a load of crap. This article from the Vancouver Sun talks about his wrongful dismissal case against them. Regardless, we have not heard the last of TDM. He has his CKUA thing and a great project about wines called The Tasting Room. Frankly, I think he'd be perfect for podcasting - we'll see what happens.

Okay, the Platinum Blonde stuff. Btw, the lead singer (and original bassist), Mark Holmes, is still a man-about-town around here. You wouldn't recognize him unless you kept in mind that he's sort of the local authority on British mod culture (he's from Manchester, yet another ex-pat). His DJ nights of mod/Britpop music with Bobbi Guy became so successful, they gave birth to The Mod Club, one of the major dance/concert venues in Toronto. He even finally did a solo record, which you can find on iTunes.

But back to tha day...

So here are these teen idol popstars, the most commercial band in Canada. Even Canadians could sell these guys.

CBS/Epic/whatever the hell became Sony in the States picks them up. And what's the first single/video for the USA? This:


It was around this time, in May of 1986, I left study hall with Ron, Lori and Brandon, and we drove to Cleveland to meet Julie and others to see Platinum Blonde play a free show WMMS was putting on somewhere downtown. Here we are:

That's me with the flag, of course. After the show, we all meandered around and got each member of the band to sign my flag. We found them one by one hanging out in completely different places (I remember Mark singing the Man UFC fight song on the bus), both relieved to not be hounded by crowds and pleasantly surprised there were Americans who actually knew who they were.

This was a pretty good attitude to have - considering they were there as the opening band for Blue Öyster Cult.

That's right. This new wave/pop/rock band, the "Canadian Duran Duran", with the makeup and the hair and fancy suits, the most commercial girl-scream-inducing band in Canada, was opening for Blue Öyster Cult.

It was the kind of story I had only just begun to hear. We've come a...well...a moderate way.

(Update, Nov. 25, 2008)
One of the guys in the videos up there (with the long face), who I met that day in Cleveland, is Kenny MacLean. He was found dead yesterday.

While the cause of death is still undetermined, the Toronto Star has a very good article here, which includes comments from Mark Holmes and Chris Steffler.

Yet another person who came to Canada from elsewhere (Scotland), Kenny joined up after Standing in the Dark to play bass so Mark could be more lead-singery. So he was part of Alien Shores and everything that came after, which is a lot. In my work on the radio later, it was nice when I got to play stuff from his first solo album, which got a fair bit of airplay everywhere. In the years that followed, I'd see him around at the odd show, but of course wouldn't say hi. When I lived near Allan Gardens, I would often walk by a bar on Gerrard just off Yonge which would perpetually have his name on its marquee, because he had a regular gig there. I'd always see it and get his first solo single "Don't Look Back" in my head, where it is now.

While he was at the start of a lot of great things at the time of his death - another solo album, a venture mentoring aspiring musicians - it would seem he had a tremendous finale. The last time anyone saw him alive was at his CD release party Friday night at the Mod Club, which is impressive not just because that's such a big venue now, but because it's Mark's. They had their moments over the years, but performed together again that night as a part of what was considered a personally triumphant show. I think that's how a lot of musicians would like to go out.


Extra: FutuRéale Interview

As if it wasn't already nuts that someone would want to interview me for a magazine, I was also allowed to bring you stuff that didn't make it to the article.

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FutuRéale is viewed through a Flash Magazine Viewer (sorry, text readers - let me know if you need a text version), so go to the August '08 issue here, hover over the Table of Contents on the left, then click on "An American in Toronto."

Some clarifications: I watched hockey games on Wednesdays (Leafs on CHCH) and Saturdays (Hockey Night in Canada, natch); my Canadian radio influences were Steve Anthony, Pete & Geets, Chris Sheppard, Brent Bambury and Liz Janik (who I was up against musically in the Edmonton and Vancouver CRTC hearings - yikes). And of course, the numero uno directory of Canadian podcasts is canadapodcasts.ca.

Also, Irma reminded me that her first transcript of this thing was 10,000 words, she cut it down to 5,000 and then it was cut down further to 1,800. Whew.

To learn more about Irma Gagnon's other cool projects, check out Yoko Sanchez Speaks and the myspace site for the Yoko Sanchez Radio Show.

As for Eric Rosenhek, there's his blog And Now, A Word From the Hek, the recently-faded Audio Circus and - bringing it back around - the FutuRéale podcast.

And okay, it's not like there's absolutely no way to make money in podcasting. But coming into it cold asking how to make money doing it is still goofy. It can be a part of a larger, comprehensive social media effort to help promote your product (even if it's yourself and/or your creative talents), and it can be a successful part when you take seriously your audience and how to best connect with it - which is pretty much always done by not starting with dollar signs in your head.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.5 Canada License.


A couple Edmonton updates

You may remember in the Edmonton episode, Description 55, I asked you to bug St. Albert's own Fabulous Singing Suchy Sisters, The Ambers, to get their new music onto their myspace page. Well, they've done it, with a song that was my second choice to play on that episode, as well as another song which I featured on the "Potluck Music Mix #2" episode of the Talking Stick Podcast. So head to myspace and enjoy...then bug them to put up more. ;-)

(Speaking of Talking Stick, that's a wonderful collaborative podcast where all sorts of folks record pieces talking about certain themes, with episodes grouped by theme. It's a really interesting concept, and it's a great chance for people who aren't (yet) podcasters to share a little piece of themselves when a subject strikes their fancy. All you need is the ability to record an .mp3 and something to say for a few minutes! So look into it, and you may find yourself on there someday.)

Okay, back to Edmonton. In last year's episode about the Toronto Fringe, Description 41, I noted how lots of cities around the world have their respective Fringes, which is a terrific way to enjoy little bits of theatre and comedy in one crazy festival. Indeed, the grandaddy of all of them, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is going on now in Scotland, brilliantly covered by Ewan Spence and his Edinburgh Fringe Show podcast. But a Fringe is also underway in Edmonton through next weekend, and the podcast done by one of the city's alt weeklies, VueWeekly, has put out two episodes rife with clips from Fringe shows (way better-recorded than mine, but I was being sneaky). So check them out through the Vue Wave Podcast feed.