On the topic of music...
Once upon a time, and a long time ago it was (as all good stories begin):
I discovered Rock And Roll.
I was a (just-about) teenager in a relatively small 'city' in what used to be called Upper Canada. Like many, I had some records. Yes, 'records'. For those of us of A Certain Age™, this means The Nirvana Of Music™. Twelve inches across, black vinyl, put it on the turntable, and you're there.
Like many, I have to admit to owning a number of ABBA records. But the first real album I owned was 'Physical', by Olivia Newton-John, which I didn't buy for the double entendre, no, not at all. And the second: 'Dare', by the Human League. Because it was, and still is, the best Euro-Synth-Pop record ever made.
Having grown up on a diet of local AM radio, it was a revelation to me when I discovered AM Top 40. In the name of CKLC 1380, a station that is, sadly, no longer in any way related to pop music. But it was excellent, for a 14-year old.
I was a late starter, ok? But I wanted more.
And more showed up. FM Radio, from the U.S. of A. Across Lake Ontario, hauled in on an ancient radio, from 'Y94, the ROCK OF ROCHESTER!!!'. Too bad they sold out and went Adult Contemporary a few years later. But then, it was a Revelation. Album-oriented-rock. Wow.
I think the first song I heard was something by Black Sabbath, but it could have been Judas Priest. Doesn't matter. It was in stereo, with guitars and drums and bass and vocals splashed all over the left-to-right stereo spectrum. And I was hooked. Years and years of listening later, I have suffered through addictions to Pink Floyd, Eric Clapton, Jethro Tull, the Blue Öyster Cult, and other guitar-heavy bands. But there is one that comparatively few others have heard of, and I need to rectify this.
A Canadian band from the 80's, they released what is in my opinion one of the Best Rock Albums Ever™. It was called 'No Stranger To Danger'. I first heard it on the audio system of an airplane, en route from Canada to England, in the summer of 1982. A summer in which I watched Dino Zoff and the Italian team win the World Cup. A summer in which I watched Captain Sensible hit the #1 position on Top Of The Pops with his cover of 'Happy Talk', from South Pacific (b/w 'It/I Can't Stand It', and yes, I bought the single as a souvenir). I hunted that few weeks in England in record stores, and nobody new what I was talking about. Turns out, it was also the summer that the airline mis-spelled the band's name, so I kept looking for 'Payload' instead. And it didn't matter anyway, because nobody in England knew about this band, even in the slightest.
It was the summer I fell in love with that Payola$ album, its beats, its jangly guitars, its English-accented-somewhat punk, its kinda New Romantic lyrics, its fabulously mystic tunes, its garage-band rocking noise. I had no experience yet with Ska, Reggae or Rockabilly, but they were all represented. I didn't know about Bob Marley, The Specials, The Police, The Stray Cats. Not yet. But the Rock 'n Roll, I totally got.
And this brings us to today's point - the damn thing isn't available on CD. Select cuts ('Rose', 'Romance', the incomparable 'Eyes of a Stranger' with its ringing guitars and driving beat, 'Hastings Street', which should make even the most hardened rock'n roll cynic cry) are out on compilations. But the whole album, no. Not the post-punk driving shouty noise of 'Youth', not the uptempo ska-influenced 'Lights To Change', not the achingly beautiful 'Pennies Into Gold'.
It seems the term 'Payola', meaning a pay-off from a record company to a radio station ('pay for play') probably sunk the band in the US market, which even then was overly commercialized. Which is a shame.
So, I'm stuck with the vinyl LP and a broken record player, or the cassette copy from years ago (the tape has been played enough that 'noise reduction' is now a joke).
I guess I'm getting old. My favourite bands are becoming relics of disused audio formats.
But now you know. The Payola$. 'No Stranger To Danger'. One of the best. Ever.