Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Ring the Damn Bell

Cam as Chip

Before we head back to my 1970’s high school I wanted to congratulate my old friend Randy Lennox on his upcoming new job as President of Entertainment Production & Broadcasting at Bell Media.


Aerosmtih Junos

From the Juno Awards in Vancouver. The MCA Canada team with Joe Perry and Steve Tyler. Randy is front row left, Cam is beside Joe Perry.

When I made the move from Quality Records to MCA Records in January of 1986 Randy had already worked his way up from the warehouse to one of the top sales guys in the country. I had moved over with Motown Records and Randy LennoxRandy was pretty excited to get his hands on that historic catalog. Prior to joining the label I had picked up a box of new releases to go listen to over the holidays. I wouldn’t be working any of these records but I wanted to educate myself on what would be going on at the label. Randy was a total music person and we hit it off immediately. I told him I loved the debut Steve Earle album “Guitar Town” and Randy agreed, and because of his power in the sales force, helped drive the album to gold, well before the rest of the world even knew who Steve was.

During the next couple of years I began to market a few other affiliated labels and Randy was more than instrumental in breaking  The Proclaimers, Sinead O’Connor and The Pursuit of Happiness. He always seemed to hear exactly what I heard in new artists. By the time I was doing A&R I had adopted Alanis Morissette . We already had a couple of platinum albums under our belts but Alanis had recently moved to Los Angeles and had hired a new manager. Some very rough demos were submitted to me and I had a couple of weeks to make a very expensive decision. We could have the Canadian rights for her new record (not yet recorded) but would have to pay a substantial advance. I would need the support of the entire company to make this work. I dubbed cassettes and gave them to marketing, sales and promotion. Almost everyone came back and said don’t do the deal with the exception of Randy and myself. In the end I had to call Alanis on a Friday night and tell her and her manager that we would not be able to pay the advance. It was heartbreaking. The album that she would ultimately record was “Jagged Little Pill”. About  a year later I received a five times platinum award for her Warner distributed album when Alanis (with drummer Taylor Hawkins, current Foo Fighter) played to 35,000 people at Molson Park in Barrie.

After I left MCA Randy and I remained friends and when he was made CEO of Universal Canada he always had time for my calls and visiting his office we Jeffrey Remedioswould laugh and reminisce on the good old days. He will do an amazing job at Bell Media and I expect to soon see his passion all over Canadian television and radio. At BMG Records I worked with Kieran Roy who is now the very worthy new President of Arts & Crafts. Jeffrey Remedios, former A&C topper, is now tapped to fill Randy’s shoes at Universal, and, being a loyal Arsenal fan, I am sure he will do a great job. Congrats to all.


As promised here is a high school review of Rough Trade.

Sound Waves – Rough Trade – September 1977

Rough Trade

Last week Rough Trade played a possible historic three-night stint at Larrys Hideaway as Carole Pope (method frontlady) explained to the capacity crowd, “We are not playing bars anymore!” and it’s about time! Rough Trade throughout their many incarnations have always seemed to be just around the corner from wide-spread acclaim (and I don’t mean Owen Sound). The band blends a rare mixture of witty lyrics, danceable music, humour, sarcasm and stage presence compliments of Kevan Staples (guitar, dancing and Hollywood gossip), Rick Gratton (percussion and weight lifting), John Lange (keyboards and dancing), “Happy Rotterman (bass and Billy Wyman imitations), Jo-Ann Brooks (percussion and lead vocals) and last but not least, Carole Pope (lead vocals and all fantasy sequences).


Larry’s Hideaway

At Larry’s they played all their old regulars “Dykes by Default”, “Doing It Again” and countless others. As you can see, the band’s songs almost always have some sort of sexual overtones which Carole and Jo-Ann act out on stage for your pleasure and theirs. Don’t get me wrong this is not an X-rated act but rather an intelligent mixture of music, lyrics and stage presence. What this band needs is a record company who are willing to put some time and money behind them (come on WEA) to promote them and get them the attention they deserve. If you’re up late on Oct, 19 put on 90 Minute Live and catch them in the act, I promise you won’t be offended. If there is one thing to say about Rough Trade they are never, never declasse.

Records – “Love You Live” – The Rolling Stones


From the beginning of Aaron Copelands “Fanfare For The Common Man” to the last three chords of ‘Sympathy for the Devil” this is the Rolling Stones performing at their peak poshness. The only way to appreciate the Stones is live and this is their best live album yet.


This is a double album with three sides recorded in Paris and the fourth side recorded at our own El Mocambo. Sound wise the ElMo side is by far superior and contains all old Stones songs. The other three sides are a smorgasbord of all of their hits; Brown Sugar, Jumpin Jack Flash, You Can’t Always Get What You Want, Tumblin Dice, etc, etc.

The quality is good, the band is up, Jagger is dynamic (the cover stinks thanks to WARHOL) but I know it’s only rockn roll but I love it live!

Jeez, taking a shot at Warhol. What was I thinking? Once again the spelling and punctuation are as they were when they first appeared in the old MC Eye.


Tilda CooperGreat to see Alice Cooper and Motley Crue last week. The Crue show as over the top with pyro, effects, cherry-pickers and Tommy’s infamous “Cruecifly” but it was Alice I was thrilled with. A great selection of songs covering all the bases, a band that seemed to love playing with one another, and the original, Alice, acting as headmaster for a master-class in rock’n’roll. I saw him at 13, my son saw him at 13, and together we saw him again as adults. Those are my kind of rock’n’roll moments.

Come down and request “The Ballad of Dwight Fry” some Wednesday night at The Kensington Lodge.


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Cam’s column appears every Thursday

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

One Response to “Cameron Carpenter: Rock’n’Roll Rewind – Ring the Damn Bell”

  1. […] My former BMG President Lisa Zbitnew has taken over the venue and it quickly turning it back into one of my favourite Toronto clubs.  On the walk to The Phoenix, parking was at a premium, Yvonne and I were joined by long-time entertainment (and sometimes travel) writer Sun Media’s Jane Stevenson. It was great to have a quick conversation with her and not to be under the publicity pressure of making a pitch for one of the artists I represent. Before we reached the front door we met up with former Music Ontario chief, and now Canadian Music Week VP, Rick Fenton, as well as Bell Media President of Entertainment Randy Lennox. Now Randy and I spent many a year together back at MCA Records and this was his first Juno event where he was on the other side of the table. I wrote about Randy’s MCA/Universal career last August, which you can read HERE. […]

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