Sunday 27 August 2023

Fandango II - Fandango II (1987)

Fandango II were - at one point - simply known as Fandango. We're not sure what prompted the name change, though the back of this LP suggests that there was a change of direction of the bar band, perhaps an attempt to be more accessible. Their self-titled album reflects that: while their name suggests that they might be a ZZ Top tribute, the songs on here sound much like radio hits of the time - the opening track is very Loverboy-ish, and "Hit Me So Hard" sounds suspiciously like something off Bruce Springsteen's Born In the USA.

Get it here.

Saturday 26 August 2023

Amin Bhatia - The Interstellar Suite (1987)

Here's another Dan Lowe production - but one in a very different genre than most of what we've featured previously. Raised in Calgary, composer and synth guru Amin Bhatia has been receiving accolades since 1981, when the then-20 year old won a worldwide synthesizer competition sponsored by Roland and judged by notables including Robert Moog, Oscar Peterson and Tomita. That led to working with Toto and David Foster, and ultimately this, his first album.

Thanks to the soundtrack-like sound of The Interstellar Suite, Bhatia has since gone on to score countless films and TV shows (our favourite credit of his: The Pingu Dance!), picking up scores (ha!) of awards along the way.

In 2021, Bhatia released a 25th anniversary edition of the Interstellar Suite - you can pick it up on his bandcamp or stream the original on Spotify.

Friday 25 August 2023

Mystery Romance - Mystery Romance (1989)

Thanks to the good folks a Shed Rekkids for hepping us to this one... we would have missed this otherwise. Mystery Romance were a studio-first project that managed to land a deal and put out this tape of synth pop in the late 80s:

The band is still active, but has gone through a few changes in the core lineup and put out a new CD in 2022. 

Grab their tape here.

Thursday 24 August 2023

Out Of The Fog - Out Of The Fog (1982)


Here's a private press gem for you - Out of the Fog's self-titled LP from 1982. These feels like more of a collective than a band (we can't find any indication of them having gigged around town), and their AOR sound has a healthy amount of funk and soul - we should probably say, a surprising amount of funk and soul, considering this was recorded in the Triglen area of the city. This one comes highly recommended from the CCPS.

Get it here!

Wednesday 23 August 2023

Tom Leibel - Living Dreams (1984)

This LP from Tom Leibel certainly gives Lewis' L'Amour a run for its money with its atmospheric, new age feelings. We weren't able to find out much about Leibel other than an eight year old thread started by Weird Canada's Aaron Levin. The sleeve tells us this LP was "spontaneously composed and performed by Tom Leibel" - and that's really all we have to pass on to you.

Get it here.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Lewis Baloue - L'Amour (1983), Romantic Times (1985)


Since we recently mentioned him, we really should include his work... Here are the two highly sought-after LPs from Lewis Baloue, aka Randall A. Wulff. It was fun to see Calgary (and the dear, departed Weird Canada) at the heart of the story of the discovery of these LPs almost a decade ago. And, no, the CCPS doesn't have originals - just the excellent reissues by Light in the Attic Records

It feels weird to run down the story so long after it all broke - in 2014, Light in the Attic reissued his first LP on an unsuspecting public, torching off a massive curiosity about the man behind the records. The stories about Lewis that emerged - especially his larger-than-his-bank-account lifestyle - were delightful and just added to the mystique. Lewis was tracked down that summer thanks to sleuthy internet folks, but had no interest in stepping back into the spotlight. And this is where our memory of the timing of things breaks down - we can't remember if it was before or after Lewis was found... but in rapid succession, a friend found a copy of Lewis' previously-unheard second LP in the back of Recordland and ran around the store whooping with joy, with Recordland putting that copy on eBay just as Light in the Attic announced the release of that second LP. 

Weird times, and there's a question that's always been at the back of our heads - is the story of these records better than the actual recordings? We find L'Amour quite listenable with its soft piano, synths, and Lewis' cooing vocals.. but Romantic Times maybe feels a bit too samey. And we certainly can't blame the engineer - the legendary Danny Lowe was at the control board for that one.

We dream of one day finding a copy of either of these in a random box of records - until that happy day, though, you can stream these over on Sportify.

Monday 21 August 2023

Boulevard - Rainy Day in London 7" (1984), Blvd. (1988), Into the Street (1990)

Here's a trio of recordings from 80's AOR rockers Boulevard, a band that has some reasonable ties to Calgary - despite their first 7", "Rainy Day in London," being only released in Germany. We're going to turn to the good work of Josiah Hughes from an older Vice article for the scoop from a story that starts with digging into the history of the place that recorded Lewis' infamous L'Amour LP:

Thunder Road Studios operated from 1981 to 1985, located right off of Barlow Trail (the building is now home to Higher iQ, an Islamic preschool). Saxophonist and audio engineer Mark Holden co-founded the studio with Ron and Neil McCallum. “I started my career in Calgary as an engineer and musician,” Holden tells me. “I worked in a studio called Sound West that use to be an old church in the area, and then in the late 70s, I moved to Frankfurt, Germany for a year and worked at a studio called Hotline.” When he was ready to return to Calgary, Holden says, “I came back and built Thunder Road. I literally built it.” Before they crammed it full of state-of-the-art recording gear, the facility was designed by Tom Hidley, a truly legendary acoustic architect who is arguably the most influential recording studio designer of all time. “He was the guy,” Holden recalls. “At the time, Thunder Road Studios was the third largest acoustically designed studio of Hidley’s in the world.” Since it was built from scratch, the building could be perfectly customized for optimum sound quality. “We came together with a developer and built the building. And the benefit of this was we actually had the ability to create the layout,” Holden explains. “The floor of the studio was actually one foot thick concrete slabs that are independently floating, sitting on an inch and a half thick insulation. So there's no physical contact between those two layers of floors and the actual walls. And the reason for this is so the sound doesn't transfer up the walls.”

In addition to running Thunder Road, Holden formed the studio band Modern Minds, which eventually became Boulevard. The group would sign with the German subsidiary of CBS Records and achieve some minor fame with their dreamy soft-rock hit “Rainy Day in London.”
Thunder Road was an impressive studio, but its grandeur may also have led to its downfall. After the studio shut down in 1952, Holden and Boulevard relocated to Vancouver - eventually getting picked up by MCA, putting out two albums (as well as a third album in 2017 after they reunited).

It looks like you can stream Boulevard's LPs over on Spotify, but we'll give you some rainy day action.

Sunday 20 August 2023

Paul Dean - Hard Core (1989)

Now, we know what you're thinking - why would we include this tape, the first solo album from Loverboy guitarist Paul Dean, if we've already debunked the whole "Loverboy is a Calgary band" thing? Well, we're not sure - but Paul Dean was also in Scrubbaloe Caine, so we're thinking that kind of tips the scales.

As you might suspect, this tape isn't really hardcore, but you can stream it on Spongify.

Saturday 19 August 2023

Jim Foster - Power Lines (1986)

By the time this cassette was released in 1986, we're not sure how strong of a connection former Fosterchild frontman Jim Foster had with Calgary. The album was recorded in Vancouver, so... maybe not such a tight connection?

Wednesday 16 August 2023

Jerry Proppe - Two Feet Deep (1985), Point of Tension (1991)

We really can't mention well-produced gospel music in this city without mentioning Jerry Proppe. For over three decades, he's been melding faith and entertainment as a recording engineer, producer, music director and performer (and piano tuner!). So here are his first two albums, 1985's Two Feet Deep and 1991's Point of Tension. These aren't as up front with their religious content as that Banks, Brown and Company LP we recently featured - some tracks like Tension's "We've Got Love" fly pretty far under the radar.

Here's a 2007 article about the state of gospel recording in the city featuring Proppe and also the ever-present Robyn Braley.


Get deep and/or tension.

Tuesday 15 August 2023

Banks, Brown and Company - Why Don't You Listen? (1984)

We've previously posted a Christmas album from Banks, Brown and Company, so it's high time we got to the main act, their somewhat sought-after 1984 LP "Why Don't You Listen" - which was released on both cassette and LP (at least?). This is very polished AOR that skews more towards soft rock - with heavy Christian themes. Of note, this album was recorded at Richard Harrow's Living Room Studios and was produced by Robyn Braley, who put out a fair number of gospel recordings in the 80s.

Get it here.