Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Styx Are Poles

Cam Profile Pic

Somehow I managed to get a byline in The Eye Opener at the then community college Ryerson. It was the school I wanted to attend as their journalism course was highly regarded; however, I was not accepted and ended up attending Centennial College. This story appeared February 23, 1978.

Michaele Jordana

Michaele

Michaele Jordana is a prolific painter, a part-time photographer, a poet-lyricist and most importantly, the volatile lead vocalist for the Toronto based, new-wave band, The Poles.

The Poles are the only new-wave band around who can honestly blend street awareness, lyrical sensibility, stage presence and kick-ass rock’n’roll into one neat package and still come away with a totally honest show. Being pretentious is not a folly of this bunch.

The Poles

“We’re a total animal created out of electronics and human integrity. The audience is a gang, and we are part of them, and they are part of us.” After Doug and Michaelewitnessing their free-form synthesizer attack performed by Michaele and Doug Pringle (keyboardist and founded) it becomes apparent that The Poles and the “Cannibal Kids” in the audience, are one and the same. Forming a band is no easy task but Michaele handles the chore with both innocence and the dominance of the woman of the eighties. Her stage becomes both her nest and a cage; at time she’s as helpless as a new-born and the next minute she’s a lioness on the prowl. Michaele has something to say “Take me to the tower, turn on the power. I’m yours, I’m yours baby. I could feel the C.N. Tower pulse, its lure beamin’ into my brain, The Poles where there, the time was right, I was gonna shake outta my chains”. That is from their first single “C.N. Tower” on Nimbus Records.

Michaele Jordana is a talented lady who has something positive to say whether it be in her music, photographs or paintings (which have been shown in the National Gallery, Canada Council collection, and the Isaacs Gallery).

Michaele Whale

Don’t be scared off by the media term “new-wave”, because this band doesn’t resort to violence and obscenities to get their message across basically because they don’t have to. The mental energy of this lady is incredible; she knows where she’s going and how to get there. Michaele says that to do anything well you to give up everything and tap your resources until they’re dry and then you go and find new sources of energy. Together, The Poles and Michaele Jordana should prove to be Toronto’s biggest knock-out in a very long time.

There may have been a good reason I didn’t get into Ryerson as that story really didn’t say a damn thing about the music. I was still at the age where I felt obligated to say nice things about bands, and over-sell them, if they were gracious enough to let me interview them. In November of 1978 I wrote the following story about Styx in the New Music Magazine.

Styx

I had first seen the band opening for Bad Company a few years earlier when their biggest hit was “Lorelei” and I was pretty impressed. At heart I was still a fan boy when I got to meet them.

The Root of All Evil

Pieces of Eight

 

“Pieces of eight, treasures filled with emptiness. Don’t let it turn your heart to stone”. Pieces of Eight by Dennis De Young.

Once again Styx has chosen to use money as a theme for an album. The Grand Illusion was based on the idea that money and wealth are two different things and their latest album, Pieces of Eight, expands on this and also touches the subject of commercialism. The album cover shows a number of upper-middle class women wearing earrings that resemble the monuments found on Easter Island. In the words of guitarist Tommy Shaw these women are “exploiting the mysticism of Easter Island by making a commercial commodity”. The title of the album Pieces of Eight is a slang expression for money which is often used in dealing with pirates. Most of the songs deal with particular types of people and how they obtain their money: The Great White Hope is the athlete, The Queen of Spades is the gambler and the Renegade is the outlaw.

It is ironic that on the last two albums the band has been singing about the evils of money when they are making more of it than they ever dreamed possible. Keyboardist Dennis De Young explains. “Don’t get me wrong. I’d rather be rich than poor but when you make a lot of money you encounter a whole new set of problems that you didn’t even know existed”.

Styx live

Styx is now out touring to support their new album and when the tour is over they will be heading back into the studio to record their ninth album. The next two albums are going to be very important for the band, and also very different from what we have seen in the past. At the present time it looks likely that the next Styx album will be a double-live set. It will give the band a well-deserved break from their hectic two hundred and twenty-day-a-year touring schedule. The next studio album may be the band’s answer to the Beatles’ Rubber Soul album. It will expand on certain Styx ideals and present a whole new phase in the band’s history. Keep your eyes open for the justin_smallbridge_headshot_01new Styx.

At the time when that story appeared fellow DBAWIS scribe Justin Smallbridge was writing for The Varsity at the University of Toronto. He wrote a hilarious story about how bad the magazine was, and, justifiably pointed out this horrible Styx story. Wish I had a copy of that.

Come share Styx stories at The Kensington Lodge every Wednesday night beginning at 6 PM and maybe Cam will spin “Babe”.

=CC=

Cam’s column appears every Thursday.

Follow Cam on Twitter @CC59.

Contact us at: dbawis@rogers.com

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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