Elora: We're on a three day camping trip to the Elora Gorge for the Labour Day weekend. This means three things: tubing in the gorge, a new town to explore the junk shops and there's a 100% chance it rains. So what happens? Tubing is sold out by 10:00AM on the Saturday, for the first time since the cold, wet, miserable May 2-4 weekend in 1990 when I got engaged, I camp without it raining. And the town? A gorgeous old town full of antique shops and nothing I can use. I can't even find a liquor store in this damn town. What's a good Canadian boy to do when you can't watersport, you can't complain about the weather and you can't stumble upon CanCon? Without beer??
Go for a bike ride? That's what I decide and it pays off. I'm out of my campground two minutes and I spot the Elora Antique Warehouse. After spending the day examining quilts, knitting, vases and other assorted feminine knick-knacks I am not hopeful. The Antique Warehouse is one of those places with various vendors selling their wares under one roof. It has a huge Dairy Queen sign as you walk in the door, and junk from every walk of life: Official James Bond dinky cars that the son would love, if only they had a Live and Let Die car (the boat would be even better), a Cheers™ board game that's laid out like the bar, and other assorted 'collectibles.'
I'm in the door about 45 seconds when I note two piles of magazines. I lift the "Happy Gang Book of Comic Songs" off the second pile and discover it's not a pile of magazines: it's a pile of 45's. A hundred easily, maybe one-fifty: at two bucks a piece they are neither expensive nor cheap. Picking through I quickly spot Ian Thomas' I Really Love You and a Rompin' Ronnie Hawkins single High Blood Pressure. Runnaging further I note Mashmakhan's As The Years Go By: I'm not sure if they're Canadian but didn't I read something recently that suggested Mashmakhan was April Wine's minor league band? Just to be sure I grab Joni Mitchell's Big Yellow Taxi/ Woodstock. Again I'm struggling to remember if she's Canadian, although I should know. I'm wondering whether it's her or Joan Biaz that's the Canuck, so I grab it thinking that between Joni and Mashmakhan, one of them has to be Canadian.
Mashmakhan and Joni Mitchell are both Canadian! And my reading on Mashmakhan was right on as well: Jerry Mercer left in 1973 to join April Wine. Steve Lang in 1975, and in 1977 Brian Greenway joined April Wine, although he did factory work between Mashmakhan and the Wine. With that quick bit of research put to bed, I decide to start with Mashmakhan's As The Years Go By. Of course I know this song, and have never much liked it -- it's cheesy.
"A child asks it's mother do you love me?
and it really means will you protect me?
His mother answers him 'I love you,'
and it really means you've been a good boy."
Lots of keyboards, but I'm trying to imagine Jerry Mercer playing drums here and can't: the guy who brought us that bell on Ohwhatanight, the bald guy who does one handed drum rolls during his solo playing a basic bass/snare/bass/snare pattern? No wonder he left for April Wine. But even more I'm imagining this band in two years trying to contain Bryan Greenway, and I can't do it.
Next up is Joni Mitchell. This is a double 45, with Big Yellow Taxi on side A and Woodstock on side 2. Big Yellow Taxi is very familiar "They pave paradise, put up a parking lot.", a song I have always liked. Joni has this gorgeous soprano voice, one of the few that work in pop music. It has lots of 60's hippy world view type of stuff thread through the lyrics, but it's the infectious beat, the acoustic guitar driving this song that I love; happy music over sadly serious lyrics. The B side is Joni's version of Woodstock, a song she wrote but made famous by Crosby, Stills, Nash and maybe Young. I don't think I've heard Joni's version before, it's the opposite of Big Yellow Taxi; happy lyrics but sad, almost morose music. All in all I prefer the CSN (&Y?), it is just easier on the ears. This version does little for me.
Next up is a guy I know, The Hawk, Ronnie Hawkins. On Roulette Records High Blood Pressure was released in 1963, a couple of years before he was playing with The Band. The Hawk sounds like Chuck Berry, except it's slower than Chuck liked to play. A blues it reminds me a bit of Berry's Maybelline, this is one of the better songs I've bought while doing this. The B side There's a Screw Loose is more of the same, with a Spanish flavour. Hawkins is kind of shouting out some drunk Mexican-isms over a Hammond Organ based band, this is frankly as bad as High Blood Pressure is good.
Finally, Ian Thomas' I Really Love You. A relatively local boy, Ian hails from nearby Paris, Ontario, and brother of Dave Thomas of SCTV fame, Thomas is a great songwriter with a pile of top of the line music to his name. I'm a fan of this song right from the get go: a nice guitar sound, simple effective arrangement and smart lyrics well sung. These are all hallmarks of the Ian Thomas song and this one is no different.
Overall, and excepting Mashmakhan and b/ sides, this was a good haul for a quilt town!