Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – It Was Thirty Years Ago Today

I was asked to do a television interview later today for a story on defunct Canadian record labels from the past. Buried in my basement are many boxes of rock’n’roll artifacts and I knew if I dug deep enough I would find the RPM Magazine 1979 salute to Quality which was celebrating their 30th Anniversary that year. Whilst digging around I found my November 1979 Music Express cover story on Bob Segarini.

I was a writer for the magazine for many a year and I am very happy to report that founder Keith Sharp has resurrected the magazine in digital form. You can find them here http://themusicexpress.ca/ and also on Facebook athttp://www.facebook.com/MusicExpressCA.  The masthead for 1979 included great rock writer Tom Harrison from Vancouver (he still writes for The Vancouver Province and was in one of Canada’s greatest named rock bands Bruno Gerussi’s Medallion), Calgary was covered by Shit From Hell rocker and political shit disturber Warren Kinsella, the Edmonton bureau consisted of Chocolate Bunnies From Hell lead singer P.J. Burton and Edmonton Sun scribe Graham Hicks while Toronto was covered by yours truly and noted industry journalist David Farrell. You should all check out David’s new site  for all the news on the Canadian music industry. Photographers for the magazine included Vancouver’s Dee Lippingwell and Toronto’s fabulous Pat Harbron (now a resident of New York).

As much as it makes me cringe reading my ramblings from the very un-experienced age of twenty, and because this is the 32nd anniversary of that Music Express cover story, here is part one of the story (we were paid by the inch in those days). Punctuation, spelling and sentence fragments appear exactly as they did in print.

Bob Segarini – Toronto`s Pop Prophet

Part One – “Getting Started (Or Would You Like To Buy A Hot Tape)|”

I first met Bob Segarini two years ago at the Toronto offices of A&M Records. While talking to the promotion department about a possible Tubes interview a little man in a suit and cowboy boots came storming into the office complaining about something or another. After he stopped bitching he introduced himself to me and asked if I wanted to hear the tapes from his upcoming album.

Well that was two years ago and Bob hasn`t changed too much. (Cam note –that was 33 years ago and Bob hasn`t changed much). Sure he’s not with A&M anymore, he signed to Bomb and is distributed by CBS, and the album did come out. But he still bitches, wears suits and is little. He is also always in the possession of some hot tapes that the world is going to be worse off for if it doesn’t hear.

He is constantly roaming the streets in search of bands to produce and play dates with. He is responsible for the amount of success that a local Toronto band Twitch has had. He worked with bands like The Romantics, The B-Girls, and Willie English before anyone else would take a chance on them. Whether you love or hate the guy you’ve got to respect his pop know-how.

Part Two – Life In The Fairway (Or A Quick Way To Get Through Bob’s Past)

Bob’s career could be compared to a game of golf, one of his only recreations since he found out he can’t play backgammon. After playing various par three courses in his youth, with US, The Ratz, Bob finally took the plunge and went out on the big course.

On the first hole, The Family Tree, Bob scored a birdie. The second hole, the Miss Butters LP, was an eagle. A brilliant record that still stands up ten/twelve/fourteen years after the fact. The next couple of years were more difficult as Bob joined Roxy. One O.K. album and a pretty good single. We`ll call it a par on this relatively easy par three hole. Bob finished the front nine with the legendary Wackers. Three albums with great moments on each though none of them were consistently hot. Front nine finished at a one under 35. Not bad.

Bob got into trouble right away on the back nine. In to a water hazard and the fourth Wackers album isn`t released and the band breaks up. A double boogie. (Cam note – perhaps you mean “bogey”?) Bob started to wander on the next few holes until he found himself on the thirteenth tee with The Dudes. On this long par five Bob was on the green in two as The Dudes signed the largest contract in CBS history. Unfortunately Bob four putted on the green as The Dudes released one of the all time worst rock`n’roll albums. Their second album was refused by CBS. End of Dudes.

On the 14th and 15th holes Bob found himself out in the woods but managed to find the green eventually. The 16th is a dog leg as Bob changed direction and heads to Toronto. He handles the hole easily, a par. On the 17th, another dog leg, Bob changed labels, from A&M to Bomb. A birdie. The last hole is Gotta Have Pop, a hole in one. The 19th hole is where Bob drinks bourbon and coke.

Part Three – The Boys In The Band (Or Our Boss, I Think He`ll Pay Us)

Seldom does a band work as well as the Segarini band. The six-piece, three guitar group truly works as a unit. Three members of the band come from Montreal where Bob spent three or four years with The Wackers in the early seventies. Lead guitarist Michael St. Denis, bassist Phil Angers, and keyboardist Drew Winters, all have backgrounds in the Montreal music scene. Drummer Mark Bronson is from Toronto and guitarist Peter Kashur hails from Thunder Bay. Bob, who sings and plays guitar is originally from Stockton, California.

The band’s show is constantly improving. I was one of the few people in attendance at their first official gig as an opening act for The Diodes two summers ago. To see Phil and Pete come out into the spotlight and sing strong background vocals. Or see Michael captivate an audience with a guitar solo, or see Drew charge into Goodbye L.A., or to see Mark play Teenage Love with so much power, is quite amazing. And Bob has learned to work with his audience, which is one of the most loyal in the city.

Live is where Segarini is best, especially in a bar where the band can do a three-set show. The first set is comprised of songs from the first two albums as is the second set. During the last set the band will take requests of your favourite songs and do them for you. Songs like “We Steal The Best Band’s Licks”, “Devo Birthday”, plus stuff from The Doors (Bob does a frightening Jim Morrison) and whatever else they feel is right for that night.

Part Four – Goodbye L.A., Hello Obscurity (Or Will This Album Go Saran Wrap Too?)

Goodbye L.A. is the new Segarini album. It is a better album than their Gotta Have Pop debut. I asked Bob about the new album and he said; “It’s black and round.” The man is helpful. For what it’s worth Gotta Have Pop opened a lot of doors. It and Nick Lowe’s Pure Pop For Now People were released at about the same time and although neither of them received a lot of airplay, they received enough to let people know that pop was coming back. By the time Lowe and Segarini got to their second albums pop had taken over the radio market. The Knack, Bram Tchaikovsky, Dave Edmunds, Moon Martin, etc. might now provide the door for Bob to sneak on AM. Reverse favouritism at its best. (Cam note – What the hell does that even mean?)

The Segarini band really work out on the new LP. Songs like “Demographics”, Goodbye L.A.”, Teenage Love”, Rock’n’Roll Moment”, and “Nervous Breakdown” all rock. (Cam note – that is the way the song titles appeared in print with the missing “’s). I’m talking rock. I’m talking roll. Any one of these five sounds could make “Dressed In The Dark” from their first album sound laid back.

The rest of the album is a veritable potpouri of tunes. “Whose Lovin’ You” and “Hard Knew Her Name” are almost rockabilly songs. Like the kind of stuff Dave Edmunds would do. “Day And Night”, the once upon a time hit for The Wackers, and Duck Deluxe’s “Please, Please, Please” are both given new leases on their life. “Odd Couples” is a new song in the “Afraid Of The Ocean” off-beat pop vein, as is “I Love The Beatles (But My Baby Loves The Rolling Stones)”.

OK, that’s all I can take. I want to edit every line. Part two next week.

Couple of quick notes in passing. A good time was had by all last Friday night as Shanghai/Bovine owner Darryl Fine and I went to the sold out Mod Club for a great old school rock’n’roll show by Danko Jones and then headed out on a bar hop that included stops at Cherry Colas and, of course, The Bovine. We ran into Segarini at Cherry’s as well as DBAWIS birthday girl Nadia who was still coming off the high of seeing and meeting Soundgarden earlier in the evening.  Nice to hear Nadia and Segarini singing old Wackers songs on stage with crack  band XPrime.

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com.

Click on the banners of all of our great sponsors including The Shanghai Cowgirl, Toronto’s hippest rock’n’roll diner at 539 Queen Street West.

Cameron Carpenter has written for The New Music Magazine, Music Express, The Asylum, The Varsity, The Eye Opener,  The New Edition, Shades, Bomp!, Driven Magazine, FYI Music News, The Daily XY and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

 

3 Responses to “Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – It Was Thirty Years Ago Today”

  1. oh dear. i need to not drink. great seeing you on friday Cam! You caught me while I could still speak in full sentences. and then you caught me again when all logical thought left my brain (see above photo) hahahaha. great column as always and thank you for the shout out 🙂

  2. …thanks but i was starting to like ‘phil’….i didn’t have to speak to anyone at work….

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