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.

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