Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – More Vinyl Reviews

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We rewind, once again, to 1978 and 1979 and a trio of record reviews I wrote for the New Music Magazine. It actually makes me feel uncomfortable when I go back and read these reviews as my humour was sophomoric, the writing was weak, and in a lot of instances I really missed what was important, or not important about some of these records. I was young.

Maybe next year I will take a few of these and re-write them with a more mature take, and, having 30 or 40 years of history answering the question of whether these records mattered at all.

TRB Has Power – The Tom Robinson Band – Power In The Darkness” (Sept 1978)

The Tom Robinson Band – Power In The Darkness

Just when everyone is becoming used to Elvis Costello, a new name is thrown our way, Tom Robinson. It’s easier to say and he’s easier to look at. His new album, Power In The Darkness, is easier to listen to. This is a protest album. Robinson and his band sing out about racism, the National Front, treatment of gays, police brutality, and anything else they fell strongly about. O.K. but what about the actual music? It ranges from power-chord rock’n’roll on 2-4-6-8 Motorway to English pub-rock on Glad To Be Gay and Martin.

Included in the Canadian pressing, there is a second album which contains seven cuts released as EP’s and singles in England but never released in Canada before. Every song which Robinson has recorded is on this album. To give you a better idea of what this band is all about, I’ll let Tom Robinson do the talking: “Politics isn’t party broadcasts and general elections, it’s yer kid sister who can’t get an abortion, yer best mate getting paki-bashed or sent down for possessing one joint of marijuana, the GLC deciding which bands we can’t see…it’s everyday life for rock fans, for everyone who hasn’t got a cushy job or rich parents.”

Tom Robinson is to rock in the Seventies what Joan Baez was to folk music in the Sixties. He is someone who isn’t afraid to shake people up and right now there are a lot of people who need to be shaken. The Tom Robinson Band…Power In The  Darkness. Support him, because he supports you.

Back To The Pubs – Dave Edmunds – Repeat When Necessary (Oct 1979)


The British are coming! The British are coming! Forget Boston, The Cars, Van Halen and Aerosmith. The new biggies are coming from across the ocean. Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, Joe Jackson, Bram Tchaikovsky and Dave Edmunds. These men and their bands are exponents of a musical style once called “pub rock”. Nowadays it’s called New Wave along with 64 other styles of rock called New Wave. Late Sixties’ and early Seventies’ English pub rock was a musical reaction to the excesses of the glitter rock era, and some of the bands that launched many of these new stars include Duck’s Deluxe, Bees Make Honey, Brinsley Schwarz and Kippington Lodge.

Repeat When Necessary is the pubbiest pub record of the year. I’m talking rock, I’m talking roll: hit heavy-metal overindulgence, but fluid, rockin’ guitar, punchy vocals and a danceable backbeat. Sorta like crossing Robert Gordon with George Thorogood. Some songs even have a distinctive rock/country-western flavour to them.

The album contains eleven songs, none of which exceeds the four-minute mark. The opening track is an Elvis Costello song (as yet unreleased by Elvis), entitled Girl Talk. Linda Ronstadt could take a lesson or two from Edmunds on how to cover Costello’s tunes. Great song. Number two is a Graham Parker track called Crawling From The Wreckage – another great rocker in the best English pub tradition.

Maybe you could get a better idea about the album from some of lyrics: “I went downtown to see my cousin, he plays guitar like a chainsaw buzzing.” Or, “I said cool is the rule, but sometimes bad is bad.”

This is an album whose time has come. Look at the charts: it’s cool to listen to the radio again. You never know, you might hear Edmunds going Girl Talk or Queen Of Hearts.

Kiss Bliss – Kiss – Dynasty (Sept 1979)

Kiss – Dynasty

I fell in love with Kiss one summer evening in 1974 when they opened for the New York Dolls at Massey Hall. Their then simplistic show stunned this fourteen year-old rock’n’roller. I have watched Kiss move from the Victory Theatre to the Gardens and Varsity Stadium. I have listened to their fifteen albums (solo LP’s included), collected their trading cards and gone to many a kiss_kid_halloween_costumeHalloween party dressed like Gene Simmons; I have seen a heavy-metal glitter band turn a simple stage show into a dynasty.

Dynasty is the first Kiss studio album since the disappointing Love Gun LP. Dynasty is the most important Kiss album since their debut some six years go. Ever since their Hotter Than Hell record it has been very un-hip to like Kiss and if you ask about Dynasty you get a quick “It’s disco, man”. The disco in question is a brilliant song called I Was Made For Lovin’ You. The song, a hit single for the band, is brilliant in that it combines disco, pop and heavy-metal in what it sure to become the classic Eighties’ AM radio sound. Their lyrics and harmonies are definitely pop, the back beat has disco danceability and the overall sound rings of heavy-metal. That one song is worth the price of the album, but there are more.Charisma is one of the best songs Kiss has done since their first album. Majic Touch is another great Kiss tune. The band kicks life into the Stones’ classic 2000 Man, and Sure Know Something is a slowed down rocker which should prove to be a commendable follow-up to I Was Made.

Even if you hate Kiss and Dynasty you have to admire them. Their progression from dead-neat bar band in the Bronx to one of the most dynamic concert performers in rock’n’roll history is no mean feat. Here comes the hate mail………”

Have a pint and hear Cam spin cool retro tunes every Wednesday night beginning at 5 PM at The Kensington Lodge


Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

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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, and New Canadian Music.


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