Monday, April 20, 2009

The Singles Scene #14

Freelton: Freelton sits on highway 6, approximately 6 KM south of Guelph. It is one of those "if you blink you miss it kind of towns," particularly as the highway runs past the edge of it, not through it. But if you get off at Freelton Road, you quickly find yourself at a pair of old barns. Inside those barns: treasure.

The Freelton Antique Mall is one of those a little bit of everything places, and should really have the word "Collectibles" somewhere in it's title. Today's mission: find an antique rod iron lamp for the Mrs. and an old dial phone for my office. We had great success on the lamp, but I couldn't find a phone in black at a price I like (now of I wanted a turquoise or avocado phone, those they have... cheap). Secondary to those silly trinkets, my eyes are always open for records, and of course, 45's.

The Freelton Market has two barns. The main one if stuffed with goodies, separate vendors have booths and you pay at the main counter. The second barn is more open, has less vendors, and the vendors are right there taking you cash.  It is in this second barn that I find some old 45's.

They have a few hundred - 60's and 70's mostly. After pulling through the top box, the vendor pointed out their was more below, but I had my haul. At 50c each, I grabbed eight records, four of which are Canadian: Prism's Take Me Away; Loverboy's The Kid is Hot Tonight; Ian Thomas' Pilot and Dan Hill's All I See is Your Face.

I've always liked Prism, ever since their first single, 1977's Spaceship Superstar.img024 Take Me Away is from a year later and Prisms second album, the always seemed to be there See Forever Eyes.  Prism rode the sweet pure voice of Ron Tabak and the keyboard/guitar pop sensibilities of Lindsay Mitchell and John Hall to worldwide acclaim with a series of radio friendly songs and albums. Four albums in three years to be exact. There fifth single, Take Me Away, comes in year two and is classic Prism. That soaring voice, clean sound and pop back beat (that's  Bryan Adam's writing foil Jim Vallance on drums) leave you feeling good and with the melody stuck in your head.

Local boy Ian Thomas, and brother of SCTV's Dave Thomas, has a writing credit biography that would please the most ambitious of songwriters, including one of my all time favourites, Right Before Your Eyes.  With a discography that includes Painted Ladies, Coming Home and The Runner, Pilot, the opening song from 1979's Glider is one of his weaker efforts.  Taken in isolation, however, Pilot is not a bad song. It has a disco, funk, jazzy groove that people like the Michael McDonald led Doobie Brothers were having success with at the time. It suffers from a weak keyboard sound, not unpopular at the time but is still a listenable and solid contribution to Thomas' discography.

Loverboy is the official punchline to many Canadian music jokes these days, but people forget how they stormed onto the scene in the summer of 1980. Their debut img023self titled album was the hot album that year on the back of two huge singles, Turn Me Loose and The Kid is Hot Tonight.  The remarkable thing about this inaugural single is it has both songs on it. Keyboards were a hot item in 1980, and Loverboy brought it immediately with a keyboard introduction that segued into a great bass groove before Paul Dean's guitar came in loud and heavy, in case anyone thought this was going to be another soft new wave band.  They weren't and at seventeen, I never again roller skated without this song being played.img022

The flip side is single number two, The Kid is Hot Tonight. It's hard to say why Loverboy became a punchline: it could be Mike Reno's weight gain in the 90's; possibly the red leather pants they became synonymous with; perhaps it's the formulaic songs. As to the latter point, The Kid is Hot Tonight plays right onto the formula established in Turn Me Loose: heavy guitar, thick bass and lots of keyboards. Once again, it works, and works really well. Perhaps it's because I was seventeen in the summer of 1980, but listening now I don't hear the joke. This is solid, good rock 'n' roll and I have no complaints against it.

Dan Hill seems to be getting a fair shake on this blog lately. This is not intentional, sometimes things just run in streaks. All I See is Your Face had the impossible task of following up Hill's greatest hit, Sometimes When We Touch. Off the follow up album Frozen in the Night, All I See is Your Face is another pretty song that is recognizably Hill, without being a copycat of it's predecessor. Surprisingly, the b/ side is, again, a future single - with Hill's second biggest hit, Let The Song Last Forever, sandwiched in between them.  Dark Side of Atlanta is a more poignantly personal piece that is familiar to Hill fans. Told in story form, it captures Hill at his songwriting, if not his commercial best. Less familiar, a harder song than All I See is Your Face, it is, however, more worthwhile. Another single I'm glad I bought, but really for the b/ side.

No surprises today, I grew up with all these songs and they all hold up in my memory. Nothing here is outstanding, but if your a pop music fan, or a fan of the late 70's early 80's music, then four good singles. If only I could have found that 70's phone to go along  with them.