Monday, August 23, 2010

(VA) A Touch Of Fringe: The Compilation

As regular visitors to my blog will attest, I try not to be a one-trick pony.  That is to say, that while I have posted a helluva lot of Canadian punk rock from the 70s, I try to keep things diverse.  As you'll also recognize, I try to post items that are no longer available. 

Case in point, this extremely rare release by the now-defunct, Fringe Records ("Fringe Product"):

A Touch Of Fringe brings together some of Canada's finest proponents of aggressive music.  You've got yer Dayglo Abortions, your Bunchoffuckingoofs, Razor, Slaughter, Sacrifice and so much more.  The genres on this disk run the gamut from Industrial, to Speed/Thrash Metal, Death Metal, Punk, Techno and Crossover.

Fringe Product was the brainchild of one Ben Hoffman, who also used to be the man behind The Record Peddler store and Record Peddler Distribution.  From the late 70s to 2000, Fringe was one of Canada's most important punk rock and heavy metal labels, if not THE most. 

(If you were of a certain age in 1988, you may remember that Fringe and Record Peddler were brought up on obscenity charges: a police officer from Nepean, Ontario instigated a criminal investigation of the Dayglo Abortions, after his daughter brought home a copy of Here Today, Guano Tomorrow.  The cover shows a picture of a hamster eating from a box of chocolates on nice satin sheets, along with a glass of wine. A gun points at the hamster.  The back cover, on the other hand, shows a depiction of the resultant carnage.  For the record -- if you'll excuse the pun -- a jury cleared the companies of all charges in 1990.)  

Anyway, click on the album cover to download a copy of 1993's extremely rare A Touch Of Fringe.

(VA) A Touch Of Fringe - The Compilation (1993):

1Death and Horror Inc.Pain and Courage3:44

2SacrificeStorm In The Silence4:09

3Disciples Of PowerNature's Fury5:31

4Dayglo AbortionsHere Today Guano Tomorrow4:55

5RazorSucker For Punishment4:03

6SplatterpunkInner Sanctum3:45

7Dogs With JobsStone Cold Killer5:05

8BunchofuckingoofsCoke The Real Thing For Real Assholes2:26

9Northern VulturesClean Up Verdun4:19


11MadSpecial Olympics1:44


13Death and Horror Inc.Climbing4:43

14Disciples Of PowerCrisis3:55

15RazorShotgun Justice3:16

16Dogs With JobsDogs With Jobs2:52


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Ishan People: A Little Jamaica By Way Of Toronto


The development and acceptance of reggae in Canada followed the same pattern as that in Britain and United States: when Jamaicans settled into this country in the 50s and 60s, they brought the music of their homeland with them.  Eventually, they began to promote and record their own releases here.

Pioneers in the 60s included Toronto's first ska and rock-steady groups, The Rivals, The Sheiks, The Cougars, and The Cavaliers.  In fact, the city became of hotbed of North American reggae, what with several reggae venues opening up: The West Indian Federation Club, Club Jamaica, Tiger's Den and The Blue Angel.  Jackie Mitoo became the first reggae artist to record a disc in Canada.  He was soon followed by Stranger Cole, Tony Eden, Audley Williams, the Webber Sisters, Leroy Brown, and Joe Issacs.

The First Record

In 1976, Toronto's Ishan People -- featuring vocalist Errol "Johnny" Osbourne (a.k.a. Bumpy Jones), Larry Silvera on bass, drummer Karl Parris Jr., keyboardist David Jones, Glen Daley on percussion and guitarists Michael Murray and Anthony Campbell -- recorded their first album, Roots, for GRT Records.  While Roots was a mélange of Jamaican rhythms, it also reflected the band's Canadian home; in other words, it was nice.

The Followup

But where Roots lacked in production values and ferocity, the followup a year later was an improvement.  While, still not as biting as their brethren back home in Jamaica, the production is better on this one.  And clubs around Toronto took notice: Ishan People performed on many of the same bills as the city's notorious punks of the era.

By 1979, however, Ishan People went their separate ways.  But their influence was immeasurable: the following 15 years would spawn a plethora of Canadian reggae bands such as (in no particular order) Messenjah, Fujahtive, Sattalites, Truths & Rights, 20th Century Rebels, Sonia Colleymore and others.

After the band's demise, Johnny Osbourne returned to Jamaica, where he began a prolific recording careers, where he would record a stunning 18 albums in the space of just 12 years.

Ishan People - Roots (1976):

1Ishan PeopleTough Tight & Dread4:31

2Ishan PeopleI Shall Be Released4:31

3Ishan PeopleOne Way Ticket3:48

4Ishan PeopleLies4:07

5Ishan PeopleYour Money Or Your Life5:29

6Ishan PeopleTalkin' Blues4:40

7Ishan PeopleSituation Vacant2:51

8Ishan PeopleNo Ganja3:21

Ishan People - Ishan People (a.k.a. Reggae Sun) (1977):

1Ishan PeopleCome To The Music4:13

2Ishan PeopleHold On3:45

3Ishan PeopleInflation3:32

4Ishan PeopleSweet Chariot4:33

5Ishan PeopleLet The Rhythm Roll3:18

6Ishan PeopleMighty Warrior3:48

7Ishan PeopleRainbow3:13

8Ishan PeopleTrenchtown5:35

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The 'B' Girls: Fun You! Not Fuck You.

I have to say, I'm not sure what the "B" in 'B' Girls implies.  But some cursory internet research leads me to believe that the definition leads me to believe they are referring to women employed by bars, nightclubs, what have you, to act as a companion to male customers and induce them to buy drinks. 

Nevertheless, this is not your primordial Riot Girrrl Dishrags or Curse.  Presumably, these were a bunch of fun-loving gals who reportedly decided to start a band in the washroom of a 1977 Thin Lizzy concert in Toronto.

(That is to say, I believe the decision to start a band was made in the washroom, not to play there, lol.)


Of course, by all accounts, they had no songwriting or musical experience.  What they had, however, was attitude and panache.  They had met that summer at Toronto's do-it-yourself punk rock club, The Crash 'n' Burn.  Later, they play their first gig at back-alley gay bar, Club Davids, joining the Viletones on stage.  They play two sets of the only six songs they know.  Their sound is in direct contrast to the the noisy, sweaty punk rock of contemporaries The Curse, Viletones or The Ugly:  good, clean fun dressed up in matching striped sweaters.

While many Toronto punk bands played at legendary New York City clubs CBGB and Max's Kansas City, The 'B' Girls actually moved to the Big Apple. They were supposed to play their first gig at Max's, sharing the bill with The Romantics.  But a huge blizzard led to the show being cancelled.  But they're determined to stay and play a make-up date: later that week, Hilly Krystal of CBGB puts them on the same bill with The Poles, also from Toronto.  The Poles, are reportedly not amused.  The Romantics, meanwhile, leave town without playing.

However, The Clash happen to be in the crowd that night.  The two groups strike up a friendly alliance.  Mick Jones and company ask The 'B' Girls to open for them on their upcoming North American tour.  They're slotted to open for The Clash for their first Toronto appearance.  But vocalist Lucasta Ross reportedly quits the night before the show.

So rhythm guitarist Xenia Splawinski takes over on lead vocals.  Renee Chetsky takes over lead guitar while Marcy Saddy (late of London, Ontario's Demics) replaces Rhonda Ross on drums.

 The Clash return to Toronto a year later, with the Girls opening once more at the prestigious O'Keefe Centre.  Promoters are quickly dismayed when fans go nuts and start ripping apart one of Canada's finest concert halls.  The two bands would also tour the Western parts of North America.  Mick Jones even produces three studio recordings for the girls.

But it wasn't just Mick Jones.  Debbie Harry would play a role in the development of The 'B' Girls:

They ask the Blondie lead singer to produce a late-night session at New York's The Power Station recording studio.  She produces a demo version of Eddie Schwartz's "Two Hearts".  In return, the girls open for Blondie on stage and sing backup live and on the Autoamerican LP. 

Cynthia Ross, who reportedly has been acting as group manager, gets sisterly advice from Debbie, continuously warning her of the men in the recording biz, who would try to change the girls, and take away their artistic freedom. 

But the record company managers would keep trying, attempting to impose their their own vision of the band.  But the girls resist every attempt: they turn down choreographers, the suggestion of session musicians and every other recommendation that was contrary to the spirit of the band and the times.  The 'B' Girls persevered for the sake of their own artistic freedom, sleeping on floors and opening for Johnny Thunders in NYC's shit-hole bars. 

Still, it seemed to be paying off, with the result being that the girls had a hell of a time.  They became darlings of the Sid Vicious, Johnny Thunders, Joe Ramone and Stiv Bators set.  Cynthia was even engaged to the Dead Boys vocalist for a time. 

The 'B' Girls - "High School Dance"

Along the way, they shared a CBGB poetry bill with Allen Ginsberg (!).  One unnamed poet reportedly went so long, that The 'B' Girls went next door to The Ramones' loft.  They changed clothes and returned to the club wearing matching pink pyjamas. 

Not the matching pink pyjamas. 

No other band from Toronto's punk rock scene was as well-woven into any city as The 'B' Girls were in New York.  Johnny Thunders, The Ramones, Post-Runaway/Pre-Blackheart Joan Jett: they all jumped up on their stage to join them in musical frivolity. 

Meanwhile, the expected record deal never materialized: 

Polygram Records U.K. flew in three times to check out The 'B' Girls.  The girls kept waiting for a better offer. 

The Copelands of FBI and IRS Records waited.  They finally released The Go-Go's six months later. 

The Ritz's Jerry Brandt kept them waiting outside his office for a gig they never got. 

Phil Spector kept them waiting so long, they fell asleep in his waiting room. 

The 'B' Girls waiting until 1982 before breaking up; no record label ever signed them. 

The girls have since reformed for several reunion gigs over the past several years. 

Who says girls can't rock? 

The 'B' Girls (1977-1981):

1The 'B' Girls'B' Side2:14

2The 'B' GirlsHearts In His Eyes3:44

3The 'B' GirlsHeartbreaker2:26

4The 'B' GirlsAlibi (Demo)3:09

5The 'B' GirlsWho Says Girls Can't Rock3:15

6The 'B' GirlsBoys Are Drinking3:06

7The 'B' GirlsTwo Hearts #1 (Longer Version)3:23

8The 'B' GirlsAlibi (1980)3:10

9The 'B' GirlsJealousy2:28

10The 'B' GirlsFun At The Beach2:18

11The 'B' GirlsTwo Hearts #2 (Shorter Version)3:17

12The 'B' GirlsAngel Doesn't Shoot A Gun2:14

13The 'B' GirlsMystery3:25

14The 'B' GirlsAlibi (1979)2:46

15The 'B' GirlsBig Girl4:00

16The 'B' GirlsSavage Fever3:19

17The 'B' GirlsChinese Rocks3:00

18The 'B' GirlsLong Distance Love3:20

19The 'B' GirlsFun At The Beach2:18