Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Tommy Can You Hear Me?


I should really take another look at Ken Russell’s 1975 film “Tommy”. As you grow older a lot of the things you disliked in your youth are much better with a little more maturity. I doubt my opinion will change as I really despised the film although love the album.

Can’t say I am a fan of any of Russell’s films but have not seen his entire works. Now “Quadrophenia” worked much better as a film but of course the premise was a lot easier (Mods vs. Rockers) to translate to the screen. Let’s face facts; a deaf dumb and blind pinball wizard is a bit of a stretch (as is Roger Daltry as an actor – witness “Litzomania”).

Let’s take some time for some Tom’s and Tommy’s.

The Tom Tom Club

This was a pretty successful side project for Talking Head’s husband and wife team Tina Weymouth and Chris Franz. They scored a couple of hit singles with “Genius of Love” and “Wordy Rappinghood” and their sounds were sampled by many a hip-hop artist. The group often featured guitar whiz, and sideman to the stars, Adrian Belew.

Tommy and Cleve

Tommy Bullock and Cleveland Horne didn’t record many records but the ones they did, for Checker Records in the mid-sixties, became Northern Soul classics. Northern Soul was the preferred sound for the Mods in England in the sixties and not Northern Alberta Canadian R&B. Their biggest hit was the soulful “Boo-Ga-Loo-Baby” with its Sam & Dave style vocals.

Tom Waits

Love him as an actor and a writer but could never wrap my head around his music. A guess this is another one I should re-visit as I live with one of the biggest Tom Waits fans on the planet. I do remember being rather amused back at my MCA Records days when I first saw the video for “I Don’t Wanna Grow Up” from his 1992 album “Bone Machine”.

Tommy Roe

Tommy released three of my favourite 45’s growing up “Sheila” in 1963, “Sweet Pea” in 1966 and, his biggest hit, “Dizzy” in 1963. A good friend of Roy Orbison’, Roe headlined over The Beatles on his English tour of 1963. Some claim Tommy invented the bubble-gum sound but to me these three songs are pure pop.

Tom Robinson

2-4-6-8 Motorway

Atmospherics (Listen to the Radio)

I have written about Tom in these pages in the past but to this day “2-4-6-8 Motorway” still makes me smile every time I hear it. He also hit a nerve with his protest song “Glad to Be Gay” in 1978 which is still considered to be Britain’s unofficial gay anthem. I am sorry I didn’t make it out to his Toronto show earlier this year as I heard it was fantastic. Editor’s Note: Toronto’s Pukka Orchestra covered “Listen to the Radio” and helped Tom through a rough patch. 

Tom Jones

One of the greatest voices in rock’n’roll and, if he hadn’t crossed-over to television in the late sixties, he would be spoken of in the same terms as Van Morrison. A class act to work with and a set of hit singles that few artists could ever hope to match.

Tom Green

I don’t care what anyone says I still love “Check the O.R.” from Tom’s Ottawa band Organized Rhyme. Sure he eventually made it as a comedian and talk show host but the boy did have some chops back in the day.

Tommy Tutone

Tommy Tutone was a band and not a person and if you dial 867-5309 you will not get Jenny on the phone. Something of interest for my friend Frank, John Cowsill added vocals and percussion to the band’s aforementioned one hit single.

Tommy Boy Records

New Yorker Tommy Silverman, one of the founders of the New Music Seminar, started the dance label back in 1981 and it soon grew into one of the most influential hip-hop labels on the planet. Take a look at some of their alumni: Afrika Bambaataa, Coolio, De La Soul, Digital Underground, House of Pain, Force MD’s, Biz Markie, Queen Latifah and Naughty by Nature.

Tom Petty

Always been a fan but never a mega-fan like my old pal Mike Campbell. Great songs, great performer and powerhouse band. I wish I still had my XM radio subscription so I could listen to his “Buried Treasure” show.


It was nice to see fellow DBAWIS writers Bob and Roxanne earlier this week as the three of us attended the album release party for Emilia (also loved by Jaimie) at Revival. Lots of folks talking about this big-voiced new talent and it looks like Current’s Gerry Young might have found another hit artist.

Sorry this column is short and sweet but the weather is too nice to stay inside and I am off to hit a patio. Better hurry to get your butts upstairs to the Tiki Bar above the Bovine or come visit me at The Kensington Lodge every Wednesday evening beginning at 5 PM as I spin classic retro-tunes and I lot of the music that I mention in my columns. Sometimes I play a Segarini song or think of Frank and mix in a Research Turtles track.


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

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Cam likes to plant his butt on the roof of the Bovine and soak up a few rays.

The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll are proud to be presented by The Bovine Tiki Bar and The Bovine. The Tiki Bar welcomes the mild to hot weather and The Bovine presents 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.

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