Cam Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Who Are You?

CamMaybe it was the recent screening of “Quadrophenia” I watched that settled me into the word “Who” for our rock’n’roll alphabetical word of the week. I hadn’t seen the movie for years as it was very difficult until recently to find it on DVD and my VHS copy is kind of useless without a VCR currently set-up. The 1979 film is a fantastic look at the Mods and Rockers scene from the early sixties as they clashed on the shores of Brighton. Of course there is a lot more to the story than the beach battles and it shows the relative easiness of falling into a social group. Phil Daniels is brilliant as Jimmy and the unknown star is a better pick than Johnny Rotten or Sham 69 frontman Jimmy Pursey who were both considered for the lead role.

Sting does have a small part in the film as the “Ace Face” and his super cool dance scene is one of the movie’s highlights.  Although he didn’t become a British break-put star because of the role Phil Daniels will always be remembered by Blur fans as the voice of the hit single “Parklife”.

A great follow-up movie to “Quadrophenia” is the 2006 Brit film “This Is England”. This one is set in the early eighties and illustrates how a young fatherless boy can be Stephen Grahampersuaded to become a member of the skinheads. Stephen Graham is fantastic as head skin “Combo” and viewers of “Boardwalk Empire” will be very surprised that the actor who portrays Al Capone is a Brit. Stephen is also fantastic in another Brit-flick “The Damn United” which is another great English drama with this one focusing on legendary football manager Brian Clough and his tenure at Leeds United.

Rock’n’roll has asked many questions over the course of the last sixty years: Who do you love, who put the bomp, who are you? Goddo asked “Who Cares”? A group of Winnipeggers asked “Guess Who”? Here are ten more “who’s” for you to muse.

“Who Listens To The Radio” – The Sports

This is what the Melbourne band wanted to know way back in 1979. There was a pub rock scene in Australia back then and The Sports were at the forefront. When punk turned into “new wave” in the eyes of the record companies the band was marketed that way in North America and this track from their album “Don’t Throw Stones” was their only dent across the massive pond. The song was even featured in an episode of “W.K.R.P. in Cincinnati” although the show had a great deal of difficulty in securing the music rights for their DVD’s and I don’t know if the song is still featured in the latter day release.

“Who Does Lisa Like?” – Rachel Sweet

Stiff Records released the album “Fool Around” by sixteen year old Rachel Sweet back in 1978. Much like The Sports this was the beginning of the new wave era and who better to exploit it than a teenage Brit? She never really crossed over in North America but this is one of the two stand-out tracks from her debut album (the other being her cover of the Isaac Hayes’s penned “B-A-B-Y”. There is also an Elvis Costello tune on the album “Stranger In The House”.

“Who Don’t Like Kids” – Sparks

The brothers Mael tackle procreation, as only they can. From their fourth, and second best album ever, 1974’s “Propaganda”.

“Who Taught You To Live Like That? – Sloan

This is from the band’s eighth album, the thirty-song epic “Never Hear The End Of It”. Sloan has the distinction of having four songwriters and four vocalists and this one can be attributed to guitarist Jay Ferguson. Of course Sloan were a huge part of my musical history as I “discovered” them in Halifax at The Flamingo way back in 1992 and helped broker their deal with Geffen Records while securing their publishing for MCA Music Canada.

“Who Needs Information” – Roger Waters

This is from his solo album “Radio K.A.O.S.” which was the first album Waters released after his departure from Pink Floyd. It was released in 1987 and that summer I got the chance to see the “Radio K.A.O.S.” tour when it played in Toronto. I had been working Paul Carrack’s solo release “One Good Reason” and Paul was part of the Water’s band when the show played here and he brought me along. One of the best concept albums and shows of all time.

“Who Gives A Damn” – Sham 69

From another concept album, “That’s Life”, and featuring the vocals of almost Quadrophenia lead Jimmy Pursey. Supported by skinheads, left wing and right wing heavies and football hooligans Sham 69 had a brief run at punk’s forefront in the late seventies but the violence at their gigs forced them to call it a day back in 1979.

“Who Do You Love” – Ian Hunter

From Ian’s 1975 eponymous solo debut. Although “Once Bitten Twice Shy” would be the hit from the album “Who Do You Love” was another classic. Ian had left Mott The Hoople and taken Mick Ronson along for his solo ride. The two would perform in Toronto at The Ryerson Theatre for a couple of shows and the opening act was our very own Segarini. Of course this leads to a story about Bemelmans, escargot and Mick Ronson which I will tell again at another time.

“Who Do We Care For?” – Sebastien Grainger & The Mountains

This is from the second solo album from former Death From Above 1979 drummer Sebastien Grainger. There is something about this track that takes me back to early Stooge’s records. Might be bass player Nick Sewell. The 2008 release was one of my most spun of that year.

“Who Are The Mystery Girls” – New York Dolls

One of my favourite guitar intros ever! “Too Much Too Soon” was the appropriately titled second release from The New York Dolls and it would be 28 years until they followed it up with the 2006’s “One Day It Will Please Us To Even Remember This”. By that time the band was down to David Johansen and Slyvain Slyvain and missing the rock’n’roll crunch that the late Johnny Thunders brought to “Who Are The Mystery Girls”.

“Who Do You Think We Are” – Alice Cooper

This is the only song that is remembered from Alice’s 1981 solo release “Special Forces”. Alice was in a haze at this point of his career and can’t recall either the recording or the tour. Things are much better now.

I was at the press conference for the “Hot Docs” festival earlier this week and they announced they would be world premiering “Super Duper Alice Cooper” on April 28th at the Scotiabank Theatre in Toronto. The “doc opera” was directed by Canadians Scott McFadden and Sam Dunn from Banger films and they, along with Alice, will be at the screening and taking questions from the audience. This event will be simulcast at 46 Cineplex theatres across the country.

Hot Docs will also be screening a doc about The Amazing Randi called “An Honest Liar”. Alice Cooper fans will know Randi as he was the illusionist who created some of Alice’s most amazing stage stunts back in the Killer/Billion Dollar Babies days.

Check the entire schedule at and you will also see the three screenings of the movie “Pulp” which the NXNE Film Festival is co-presenting.


Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59

Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar and The Bovine. There are heaters on the Bovine patio and great bands downstairs at the legendary rock bar. Fill up next store at The Rock Lobster and then get your rocks off at The Bovine. 

DBAWIS ButtonCameron 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, New Canadian Music, NXNE Magazine and Don’t Believe A Word I Say.

3 Responses to “Cam Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Who Are You?”

  1. I believe Rachel Sweet was from Akron.

  2. greg simpson Says:

    Cam…when I think of the word “who” besides the band and variations of same that own the trademark, I think of Thundermug in the 90s and their comeback hit Who’s Running My World…video available on YouTube.

  3. Cameron Carpenter Says:

    Hugh, you are correct. I forgot about that and was just thinking Stiff-UK. I still have the Stiff Akron “stratch and sniff” vinyl lp.

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