Sunday, 18 July 2021

Tommie Melton - The Courage To Face Another Day/The Greedy Train


Well, folks, it's the last day of the Stampede. And while we're kinda glad to see another year's exhibition come to an end, we do want to see it off in style. So we've got a special treat for you - a country record that gives us an excuse to dig back into Calgary's garage rock history, and Roy Wilcox's great book on the subject. 

While this record is from some time in the late 1970's (we think? maybe the early 80's?), Tommie Melton's history with the city's music scene goes back to the 1950's and a band with the ubiquitous name of the Shades. Ripping from Roy Wilcox's book (which borrows from Beatroute):

The brainchild of Thomas B. Kin Chong, the Shades began in 1957 as an evolution of an Elvis impersonator group fronted by his friend Dick Byrd, a full blood Sarcee First Nations teenager with Thomas playing backing guitar. The Shades then grew to include Tommie Melton, an African American football hero. The band named themselves the Shades as noted by Chong, “We were the Shades because we were of different colors: rare, medium and well done.” This band lineup would ultimately expand to include Eric Murray, Sonny Carruthers and Pete Watts. 


Yup, that's comedy legend Tommy Chong - those of us that went to Western Canada High School may have spent time trying to find his graduation photo on the walls. The Shades had moderate success, and eventually moved to Vancouver, where they changed their name to Little Daddy and the Bachelors, ultimately cutting a 7" for RCA records. Melton exited the band when they took on lead singer Bobby Taylor, becoming Bobby Taylor and the Vancouvers - and taking their sound in a more soulful direction. Tommy Chong went on to fame as, well, Tommy Chong - while Melton must have found his way back to Calgary at some point. 

Which brings us (finally!) to today's 7", which is a really great, soulful bit of country. Just having re-read Wilcox's chapter on the Shades, "Greedy Train" has a big of extra meaning. AND it's a killer track. Plus, Tommie's smile on the cover is downright infectious.

Get it here!

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