Tuesday 7 September 2021

Painter - West Coast Woman (1973), Hammersmith - Late Night Lovin' Man (1975), 451° - China (1980), Prototype - Behind Your Eyes (1983)

Having just talked about the pre-cursor to the 49th Parallel, we figure we should follow up with a trio of singles that founder Dan Lowe put out after the band shifted and morphed from its original lineup. We're (as always) indebted to Roy Wilcox, who tells the story:

The demise of the 49th Parallel resulted in another morph. Dennis Abbott decided to change his personal musical course. The nucleus of Danny Lowe and Alf Cook connected with vocalist Doran Beattie and drummer Paul Burton reformed the band as the Parallel.

As is oft the case when a band experiences a change in its lead vocalist, the sound of the group is altered radically. Wes Dakus, in his capacity as a booking agent, set up a recording session and suggested the band rename itself... Thusly, Painter came into existence with substance. In time, Doran Beattie (lead vocal) and Dan Lowe (guitar) were ultimately joined by Roydon “Wayne” Morice (bass), Barry Allen (rhythm guitar) and Bob Ego (percussion) rounded out this new morph. Painter achieved significant success with their single “West Coast Woman”, which did very well on North American music charts.

Painter, as a successful Alberta rock band, came to an end in the mid-seventies. Elektra Records did not like the direction the band was taking, so after a parting of ways, Painter changed its name to Hammersmith and signed with Mercury Records in 1974. The new iteration of musicians was composed of Doran Beattie (vocals), Danny Lowe (guitar), Jeff Boyne (guitar), Royden Morice (bass) and James Llewellyn (drums). Hammersmith’s new musical persona was hard rock. Their self-titled debut album for Mercury was released in 1975...

From the ashes of Hammersmith emerged the last morph of the legacy of the Shades of Blond – 451 Degrees. In 1978 Danny Lowe, along with vocalist Hal Whitford went to Edmonton to record at Wes Dakus’ Sundown Recorders. To fill out the recording roster, they hired Bob Walker to play bass, Bob Ego to play drums, Norman Durkee on piano and Martin Barre, who played guitar with Jethro Tull. Five tracks were laid. Later a different version of the band was pulled together 451°. The band was now complete with Danny Lowe on guitar, Jim Clench of Bachman Turner Overdrive and April Wine on bass, and Brad Steckel on vocals and guitar. In 1980, 451° produced three singles and an album. None of this great music gained any traction in the music marketplace...

In 1982, Painter guitarist, Danny Lowe experienced what he called "an industrial accident" while placing 14 microphones in a sound studio. In playing back the recording made that day, he discovered he had inadvertently created an auditory illusion that he was surrounded by sound. The effect resembled how the human ear physiologically actually hears.

Over the next eight years, he and electro-technician John Lees worked together to fine tune the system. Q-Sound was patented in 1990 and music artists such as Sting, Madonna, INXS, Pink Floyd, Kate Bush, Paula Abdul, Julian Lennon, Wilson Phillips and Luther Vandross quickly embraced the recording system. Q-Sound is now a global supplier of audio technology for a host of consumer electronics as its proprietary algorithms deliver a fuller, natural and immersive audio experience as demonstrated on the Wilson Phillips song You’re in Love.

We've cherry-picked three singles from the time above, all featuring the songwriting and guitar work of Dan Lowe. The Painter and Hammersmith singles feel very 1970's - they could easily be part of the April Wine catalogue (or maybe even Napalmpom's). 451° is a bit more prog - we kind of wonder if Lowe's studio tinkering was already part of the equation at that point. We've also pulled in a single from a Dan Lowe band that doesn't show up in Garage Band Rockers - we assume Protoype was an evolution of 451°, putting out one album and few singles.

We're pretty certain in our stance that the 49th Parallel are Calgary's most important band - and the legacy that their members cut from 1966 through into the 1990s certainly back that up.

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