Cameron Carpenter: The ABC’s Of Rock’n’Roll – Here’s Lookin’ At U Kid


I just found out that I will be part of a panel during Indie Week ( on Friday October 17th. At 1:00 PM in the Windsor Room at the Bond Place Hotel we will be discussing how to get press for your Indie Film. As well as a conference for independent bands. Indie Week also hosts the Reel Indie Feel Festival (with screenings at The Royal on College) and they will kick-off with the documentary “Born To Ruin” from Brendan McCarney. We had the world premiere of this film in June during the NXNE Film Festival and it is a very gutsy and honest look at life within a band, that band being Toronto’s Wildlife. Check the Indie Week website for some other great films.

While going through the site (and confirming my panel time) I noticed that a very dear old friend will be coming to Indie Week to speak and everyone who wants to hear from the man with two of the best ears in rock history should get to the Piccadilly Room of the Bond Place to hear Nigel Grainge speak ( also Friday at 4 PM).

Nigel Grainge

When Chrysalis Records bought Ensign Records back in the mid-eighties I got to know Nigel as I was their label manager for Canada and Nigel (along with partner Chris Hill) still ran the label. Soon we were releasing records from the likes of Sinead O’Connor, The Waterboys, World Party, The Bible, Blue Aeroplanes and the brilliantly obscure Stump. Nigel had signed them all and was also one of the best artist relations executives in the business. Can’t wait to see him again, discuss new music and, of course, talk about our beloved Arsenal (it was Nigel who made me a fan). If you’re a fan of any of the aforementioned artists (as well as Thin Lizzy, The Boomtown Rats or Eddy Grant) it is well worth the price of admission to hear Nigel speak.

Alright, let’s take a look at a few more U’s.



Wow, I think some folks may have over reacted to getting a free album. I have never been a huge fan of the band but I certainly wasn’t upset to find their new album in my iTunes. I am still old school and carry an iPod with me everywhere I go so the new record didn’t show up on my Blackberry (told you I was old school – but pro-Canadian). I listened to the entire album twice (on streetcar rides downtown) and I didn’t find it offensive and actually quite liked the first single “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” as well as “Raised By Wolves”. Did they sell out? Yes. Have they sold out before? Yes. Is selling out wrong? No. It’s a whole new ballgame out there for bands and they managed to once again become the most talked about group on the planet. Will I go to the tour? No. A tad pompous on stage and nowhere near what they were during the hungry days (like the St. Clair Ballroom show) but then again who are. There are much bigger issues to get upset about folks.

“Underwhelmed” – Sloan

They old cliché that first impressions are lasting impressions and it happens with so many bands and their debut singles. “Underwhelmed” was the first song I ever heard from Sloan and if a had to pick one of their tunes as my desert island song this would be it. I’m sure they are sick of playing it after twenty years but it still makes me smile every time I hear it. It’s a combination of the lyrics (“she rolled her eyes” which changes later in the song to “she rolled her R’s’) or the sound of the music which perfectly captured a moment in time as rock music was making another seismic shift.

Ugly Ducklings – “Gaslight”

Believe it or not I am too young to remember Toronto’s Ugly Ducklings at their peak. Although they only released one album in the late sixties “Somewhere Outside” their garage-rock influence was so big that there have been another 17 albums released containing their material. The topped the CHUM Chart in Toronto with their most beloved song “Gaslight”.

The Undertones

Led by Feargal Sharkey, who would later score a solo hit with “A Good Heart”, The Undertones were second on the bill at one of Toronto’s most infamous concerts. On September 26, 1979 The Clash brought their “Take The Fifth” tour to Toronto, making it their second performance in the city in 1979 as on February 20 they performed at The Rex Danforth Theatre on their debut North American tour entitled “Pearl Harbour”. I lucky enough to be at both shows. For the O’Keefe Centre show (known this week as The Hummingbird Centre sorry, the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts) local lasses The B-Girls opened the show followed by Ireland’s The Undertones. By the time The Clash hit the stage (some three months before they released “London Calling” – from which they previewed five songs) the crowd was ready to rock and $5000.00 worth of damages later the O’Keefe Centre banned rock concerts. For many of use it was our first exposure to The Undertones (we all had seen The B-Girls) and they left a very lasting impression.

The Untouchables

Way back in 1981 this Silver Lake band formed and soon were one of L.A’s first Ska bands. The band ultimately would sign to Stiff Records in the U.K., and although they never really had any commercial success, they would be the forerunners of what would become a pretty good L.A. Ska scene and would pave the road for more pop friendly bands as No Doubt.

“Unfinished Sweet” – Alice Cooper

Hands up how many of you cranked your stereo to the absolute limit when that tooth finally popped out? Alice was on top of the world when he released “Billion Dollar Babies” and Bob Ezrin pulled out all of the stops producing this ground breaking record. Alice knew our primal fears and the sound of a dentist’s drill and a tooth being pulled definitely touched a nerve in all of us.

“U.S.A. Long Distance” – Sons of Freedom

If I lived anywhere west of Calgary I would be heading to The Imperial (319 Main Street) in Vancouver this Saturday night to see Sons of Freedom perform for the first time since 1996. God, this band was so close to making it huge but for whatever myriad of reasons just missed the mark. The debut album on Slash Records made a big statement and their Chrysalis Record’s “Gump”, released the same week as “Nevermind” if memory serves, was one of the of the most overlooked records in Canadian rock history. Hope they make it a little further east in the near future, and, more importantly, record some new music.

Great show alert Toronto! This Saturday night at The Horseshoe Tavern DBAWIS favourites X-Prime will be performing with eOne’s Secret Broadcast and the mighty Gloryhound from Fall River, Nova Scotia. A great night of rock and you can buy me and The Bobo a beer!


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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