Monday 27 March 2023

Echos - Vol. 1 (1976)

This album cover tells no lies. Looking at those haircuts, do you expect a bit of rockabilly? You got it. Centred around husband and wife duo Jerry and Lori Reid, the Echos deliver the goods (with a bit of country twang thrown in for good measure). Thanks to their less-than-unique band name, we can't tell you much that the bio on the back cover does (they landed in Calgary after time in Manitoba and Saskatchewan).

Get it here.

Sunday 26 March 2023

Kaleidoscope - The Greatest Tymes (1976)

Okay, calm down. You're probably doing what we did when we first saw this album cover - we thought this was a great, lost Northern psych classic. That's wishful thinking - despite the excellent, trippy cover art (including mostly unreadable credits on the back cover), the LP is much more standard fare for a mid-70's Calgary release. 

Which isn't to say it's bad - Kaleidoscope are, as the ad above claims, a versatile 4-piece band playing a selection of rock standards. And, of course, polkas.

Get it here.

Saturday 25 March 2023

Checkmates - Checkmate (1975)

We've previously posted a 7" from the Checkmates - this full length LP came out several years later, and sees the band more in a mid-70's lounge band mode. This isn't far off from the fare of the Stardells (probably telling that Ron Barge gets a thanks on the liner notes) - a mix of pop rock standards and... polkas. It looks like the Checkmates were active into the early 1980s, playing various clubs and lounges. 

Grab this LP to get a sense of what the diners and dancers would have enjoyed.

Friday 24 March 2023

Windjam - Windjam (1975)

Windjam were a staple of the lounge/bar scene in the mid 1970's, playing a folky blend of country, blues and rock. Or maybe a bluesy blend of folk, rock and country? Good thing we found this clipping that confirms it's a blend of "blues, rock and country rock."

And though he doesn't appear to play on this LP, that's former Gainsborough Gallery keybaordist Tim McHugh sitting in with the band when they opened for Long John Baldry at the Refinery in 1976.

Get their 1975 LP here.

Thursday 23 March 2023

Bradstreet - Bradstreet (1975)

To tell the story about Bradstreet and this LP, we have to turn to Roy Wilcox's excellent and indispensable Garage Band Rockers. And look up the band Done on Bradstreet.

Done on Bradstreet was comprised of vocalist Lanny Church, Dave Hamilton and Don Wolfe on guitar, Dave Lucas on bass, Bob Everett on drums and Pat Murphy on keyboards. Their talent and musical acumen was showcased on Done on Bradstreet’s two set appearance on the Calgary produced TV show, 'Come Together.'

    This recognition was extended even further when Done on Bradstreet won a competition to play at McMahon stadium in Calgary, the final stop of the famed Festival Express tour in July of 1970. This was the premiere gig for a local garage band. Sharing the stage with Janis Joplin, The Band, Buddy Guy and the Grateful Dead would be a career landmark and opportunity of a lifetime for any fledgling band. Done on Bradstreet made the most of this opportunity to expose their original material which was well received by fans and fellow musicians alike.

After this phenomenal experience, this garage rock band decided to take the necessary steps to become professional. They hired Greg Thomas, formerly of the Esquires, as their manager. They capitalized on Greg’s experience of recording at the Petty studio and three short weeks after the Express, Done on Bradstreet embarked on the journey to Clovis New Mexico to record with the great Norman Petty. 

Petty used his studio and recording acumen to produce tapes for 6 songs. Then an unfortunate and complicated “set of business related events” led to Done on Bradstreet neither hearing nor having access to a copy of their tapes. 

Upon their return to Calgary, Done on Bradstreet made good money in the thriving teen scene in community halls. The change in drinking age in Alberta in 1971 changed this market as older teens who once chose community hall dances as their social venue began to go to bars as it was easier than drinking illegally in a parking lot. It also became economically unviable for a purely rock concert band with very few venues that would pay enough for it to make it worthwhile for a full-time professional band to survive. As a result, Done on Bradstreet added new members and became a show band to get into the evolving nightclub/cabaret circuit. They changed their name to “Bradstreet” and for a time became the house band at “Alfie’s” in New Westminster, BC. 

This LP is that latter band, the lounge circuit Bradstreet - produced by the band and Ron Barge. But many years after the band went to Clovis, they managed to get their hands on the master tapes from Norm Petty's museum, and released the recordings to iTunes (and a very limited edition CD).

So, take your pick today: you can listen to Done on Bradstreet on iTunes or grab the Bradstreet LP download.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

Hammersmith - Hammersmith (1975), It's For You (1976), Good-Bye Good-Bye (1976)

We gave Dan Lowe's Hammersmith a quick recap last year, but now's a good time to dig deeper into their story (thanks to 

After Painter called it quits, the band moved back to Calgary to pursue a harder sound. They added Jeff Boyne as a second guitarist and was new drummer James Llewellyn. Lowe produced their self-titled debut and the band headed out on tour - by the time they settled in to record their new album, they had a new guitarist (replacing Boyne, not Lowe!) and drummer. But their second album didn't make as much a wave as their first, and they were dropped by their label. gives us this great tidbit as a coda to their story:
Once they were off the road, which included opening for KISS, Beattie quit, though the band carried on without him while searching for a new singer and a new deal. Among the people trying out for the singer position was future Moxy and Loverboy frontman Mike Reno (still going by his real name Mike Rynoski), though he didn’t last long.

You know we LOVE every Loverboy tie-in we can find. Not even Rynoski could pull things together for Hammersmith, though, and the band called it quits in 1977. 

Get their LPs (and a bonus single) here.

Tuesday 21 March 2023

Express - Express (1974)

We don't know a whole lot about Express, other than that they were active in the early 1970's and vocalist/guitarist George Planiden also playing solo shows around town later in that decade.

And that they're pretty good - this LP is a pretty great piece of folk rock. The songs are good, well-played and don't outstay their welcome. It's nothing super complex, but a throroughly enjoyable listen.

Get it here.

Friday 17 March 2023

In Memoriam: Marvin Kee

Like so many around the city, I’m heartbroken at the passing of Marvin "The Fly" Kee on March 13, 2023 at the age of 53. Born in LA of East Indian and Filipino heritage, Marvin’s family moved around when he was a kid (he lived in the UK, Saudi Arabia, and Phillipines) before landing in Calgary. His sense of rebellion as a youth led him to music – which would be his passion and sustaining force for life, even through his battle with throat cancer. 

Over more than three decades, Marvin’s presence was inescapable – not just because of the number of bands he played in (alphabetically, here’s an incomplete list: Amy Lee Owens, Blist, Deicha and the Vududes, The Ex-Boyfriends, Flytrap, Flytron, Gratitude, The High Rollers, La Mosca, Lil Star, Los Morenos, Making Treaty 7, Nikki V/Nikki Valentine and the Gypsy Riders, Pyschomanik, Sargeant X Comrade, Serious Moonlighters, The Torchettes, Venetian Blinds, Whitey Kirst/Kiss of Spider, Xam Eitsirch) but because of his magnetic personality, love for all genres of music, and interest in breaking down walls between genres.

I first saw Marvin on stage with the legendary High Rollers and their spectacular disco funk shows at the Westward Club. Admittedly, there was a lot going on with that stage show and I didn’t really start to notice his presence on stages until I moved back to Calgary in 2000. The last time I saw him play was this past fall with garage punk legends The Ex-Boyfriends - just a few weeks after I'd attended a very different one of his shows with Sargeant X Comrade.

Marvin sat down for a recent with interview with Unsung where he explained his approach:

“That’s what I labelled myself as - a genre mixer. Like I play in eight bands and they’re not all rock bands. Like one is an R&B/Soul/Funk band, one’s a punk band, one’s a rockabilly band, one’s kind of surf-rockish… I realized and learned and understood that music itself can be segregated can be split up into their own rooms and their own attitudes and egos… I can walk into it like I’m sort of a chameleon, I guess. I noticed that everyone’s just sort of in their rooms, so my job is to break down those barriers, make sure everyone coalesces, merges with each other, understand each other’s musical styles, guide people, educate people and guide them into those rooms. It starts out small but it ends up being huge you know, and it’s working and it’s fantastic and I love working with all the artists, with all the bands I’m in, especially Treaty 7 bands.” – Marvin Kee

After the High Rollers, he spent many years playing bass with Los Morenos before starting the flamenco/soul collective La Mosca and delving into this own funk project, Flytrap. His “the fly presents…” series helped to showcase talent from across the musical spectrum at venues around the city. In more recent years, it seemed like Marvin was every where – the number of projects he was in multiplied and didn’t let up when he was diagnosed with cancer.

“Right when I was told I had cancer, I was asked if I want to play bass in a punk rock band and I’m like yes, please. And I didn’t stay in bed – people wanted me to stay in bed - and I just raged against the machine and went out and played my ass off and recorded my ass off… I’m extremely blessed to have been guided to music... Music was like therapy. What kept me alive was music.” – Marvin Kee

Tributes to Marvin on social media – and in conversations – have been plentiful, and for good reason. Marvin was a role model to many of us with his love of music, willingness to try anything, and how he brought people together. He brightened up the rooms he walked into and the stages he stepped onto.

My thoughts and love go out to Marvin’s son, his sisters, his bandmates and friends.

- Arif Ansari

Monday 13 March 2023

Painter - Daybreak (1970), Painter (1973), Song For Sunshine (1974), Suzie-Q

We kind of got into the history of Painter when we featured a bunch of singles by Dan Lowe's post-49th Parallel projects last year, but listening to their full-length LP again, we feel like we need to give this band some props. 

As we've already recounted, Painter formed out of the ashes of the 49th Parallel, with Dan Lowe pulling together a powerhouse of a band that included Edmonton garage rock legend Barry Allen on second guitar, former Witness Inc. drummer Bob Ego, latter-day 49th Parallel vocalist Doran Beattie, and bassist Wayne Morice. 

Their single on Randy Bachman's Molten label was their first release (with an earlier 4-piece lineup), with their full-length being recorded in Seattle with Lowe doing an excellent job on production duties. The single we shared last year, "West Coast Woman," was a hit on Canadian radio. The band ended the same way as the 49th Parallel, though - as the band evolved musically, their label decided the sound wasn't for them and dropped Painter.  

Get their LP and singles here.

Sunday 12 March 2023

Saints - Fever/Summertime (ca. 1971)

We've been trying to track down more info on the Saints, but we've come up empty-handed - other than an ad for the band playing at the Carriage House Inn in 1971. 

All we know is that this single contains great, slightly garage-y versions of the standards "Fever" and "Summertime" - and that we're extremely grateful to Drew Cook for passing this into our collection.

Get it here.

Saturday 11 March 2023

Scrubbaloe Caine - Round One (1973), Feelin' Good on a Sunday (1973)

We briefly mentioned Scrubbaloe Caine when we were digging through the heated question of whether or not Loverboy is a Calgary band. We're going to crib from Wikipedia a bit on this one: the band was formed in 1970 here in Calgary - but under the name Cannonball. Membership was guitarists Jim Harmata and Paul Dean (later of Streetheart and then Loverboy), bassist Bob Kidd, violinist Henry Small (formerly of the Gainsborough Gallery), keyboardist Al Foreman, and drummer Bill McBeth.

Kidd was replaced by former Guess Who bassist Jim Kale - we're not clear if this was before or after the band relocated to Toronto in 1972 and changed their name to the head-scratchingly odd Scrubbaloe Caine. They ultimately got signed to RCA, who put out their full-length LP and a handful of singles.

Plans for a second album never materialized - and, yes, we realize that we're pushing the limits of their Calgaryness, but with the core of the band having formed here, we're sticking to our guns on this one.

Friday 10 March 2023

Calgary Safety Roundup & School Patrol Singers - STOP (1963)

The Calgary Safety Roundup & School Patrol show helped launch Dixie Lee Stone/Innes into showbiz, with her (and a group of fellow safety patrollers) singing country songs backed by Ernie McCulloch and his band. 

This LP was recorded live at the Palliser Hotel - the very boisterous (and precisely-queued) cheering by the children in the audience at the end of each song is charming. Plus, Dixie Lee's take on "Your Cheating Heart" (with a slight typo) is pretty great.

Get it here.

Thursday 9 March 2023

Dixie Lee Innes - Dixie Lee Innes of the Original Caste (1972), Black Paper Roses (1972), Chinook (1977), When I First Fell In Love (1977), Queen of Colby Kansas (1977)

It's definitely worth turning our focus on Dixie Lee Innes (neé Stone) for a while. By the time Innes was part of the Original Caste's success in the l960's, she was already more than familiar with performing and recording. She'd been performing as part of the Calgary Safety Round-up and put of a single thanks to Mel Shaw and his Sotan Records. 

And after the Original Caste's first LP, it's almost as if their label decided that Dixie Lee was the winner, putting out an album by her rather than another by the band. 

But as we know, record labels are fickle things, and that LP was the only major label outing. But five years later Calgary-based PLP Records put out an LP and a string of singles by Dixie Lee (with most songs written by Bruce Innes and Peter F. Clarke). Where her almost self-titled 1972 album is a folk pop affair (including a cover of Ian Tyson's "Four Strong Winds"!), her 1972 LP is more soul flavoured and energetic. PLP must have invested a lot in Innes' LP - they also put out three singles to accompany it (and assumedly get Dixie Lee back on the radio).

Get Dixie Lee's two LPs (and a few singles) here.

Wednesday 8 March 2023

Original Caste - One Tin Soldier LP (1969)

We've already posted the single the Original Caste are most famous for, which also happens to be the title track from their first album... which is what we've got here. We're re-reading the bio of the band on Wikipedia, and... well, let's just reprint it here:

Songwriter and guitarist Bruce Innes formed the group in Calgary, Alberta, in 1966. Initially, Bruce Innes, Graham Bruce and Bliss Mackie worked as a trio and Dixie Lee (Stone) Innes joined the group in 1967, contributing rich vocals. At that time, Dixie Lee Stone was a secretary at Pacific Petroleums in Calgary, and she sang on the weekly television programme Calgary Safety Roundup on CFCN-TV. Bruce Innes sang and played by himself while Graham Bruce worked as an accounts executive at Royal Trust. Bliss Mackie had worked as a Coca-Cola truck driver and a manager of a department store. In early 1968 Peter Brown (Seattle) became the first drummer in the group. Joe Cavender played with an acid rock group.

Okay, a few questions: what made Graham Bruce jump from a cushy office job to the life of a troubadour? And which acid rock band did Joseph Cavendar play with? 

Lots of questions, maybe there's an answer in the download?  

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Gainsborough Gallery - Life Is A Song (1970)

The Gainsborough Gallery round out the trifecta of big Calgary bands to come out of the 60's (ok, except for that other one), so we gotta share their 1970 full-length while we're digging through things here. A bunch of these tracks were on the singles of theirs that we shared last year. But that doesn't make this any less worth a listen. Gainsborough Gallery have always sounded more poppy and/or folky to us - the garage rock influence on this Norman Petty-produced LP isn't nearly as prominent on their Calgary peers' full lengths. It's absolutely worth sticking through - the last track, a cover of Smokey Robinson's "Get Ready," is killer. A poppier take than the hit version by Rare Earth which was released at about the same time.

Get it here!