Segarini – Gotta Have Pop: Track by Track
Before we get started…
I love my old bands. …and The Segarini Band remains special because it was the one (and only) that bore my name. The Segarini Band, after an aborted attempt failed to gel in Montreal after All the Young Dudes fell apart in 1976, finally came together for the A&M EP in Toronto a year later in 1977.
Thanks to Segarini Band guitar player Peter Kashur getting in touch with drummer Mark Bronson, Here’s more info on the how and why.
Mark: Kashur said you wanted detail…late spring, ‘77 – Bendeth called you in Montreal – said we needed a singer for confirmed dates – you said OK – you arrived at Kier’s house in Forest Hill armed with your tape collection – Bendeth knew it wouldn’t work as soon as you started playing your tapes and raving about the new rock scene – the Apple computer stuff blew my mind, by the way – he could tell you were hunting for a rhythm section to do the Punk/New Wave thing in Toronto – after doing a bunch of dates with Bendeth, and having been replaced by Rezza in his band, I started working with you – Kier agreed to record the first few sides – you met and befriended Gabor, likely at Thunder Sound when he was recording tunes written by a then-recently-deceased song writer – if you recall, we ended up at Thunder Sound after you talked Marsden into a spec prod for Chappell at A&M – Fitzgerald engineered in the 8-track room – we were all on a serious learning curve as you had already refined your 8-track skills elsewhere – we recorded a bunch of stuff – Greg and Doug recorded ‘Don’t Believe…’ with you one evening during this time – after a few rounds at Bemelmans, no doubt – that song remains a gem and a testament to great talent – Remember the time we met Frank Shuster at Bemelmans? Superstar genius and a real gentleman. Anyway, you managed to cobble together an EP for Chappelle who really liked “I Wanna’ Get to Know You,” that brilliant rip from the Flintstones’ “Way Out”.
I Wanna Get to Know You:
You were in the driver’s seat again after A&M paid your studio time – Marsden settled down – but he was none too pleased with the number of hours you had racked up – I’m sure Melhuish had some soothing words for Marsden – Colleen was selling time for CFNY – she must have spoken to Marsden, too – girl could melt an iceberg at 10 feet – I always wanted to hear a mix of the 8-track stuff you produced for John T and the drummer from New York who ran the band Cue Ball – the drummer worked with the Breckers, Spinoza, Bierach, et al – great player – Danny Marks played guitar – I think Kier played bass – it was a pleasure witnessing the sessions – wonderful stuff – reminded me of the work you did with Jerry Mercer at Andre Perry’s in Montreal – so you got your release on A&M – Kier wanted to gig – you didn’t – he went to Parachute – you called Mike and Phil from Montreal – both had made a name for themselves in Twilight – their ‘live’ cover of “Bohemian Rhapsody” complete with 4-part harmonies was the stuff of legend – like you, those guys have it in their blood – they shoulda’ been famous – Gabor eventually got a deal to do original material ‘Nyet, Nyet, Soviet!’ Outstanding. God Bless ‘im.
Fun times. Did you ever pay Kier…?
Gotta Have Pop was the first full LP I ever got to produce.
It was the first time I had to put up or shut up, and I was terrified.
After the debacle that was the Dudes album, and knowing how easy it is to jack yourself off in the studio, (if you want it to sound good just TURN IT UP!) I was bound and determined to get this one right. Having almost no budget and limited studio time, it was either get brilliant, or get out.
The circumstances under which GHP was recorded had a lot to do with the fresh sounding finished product. Because of the time and budget restraints, we had to go in, set up as quickly as possible, get the sounds we wanted, and get a good bed track or two and beat it before the next scheduled session. Then, at the first opportunity, get more studio time when we could, and do overdubs and/or vocals. It was a very exciting way to work, but also frustrating and, at times, incredibly tense.
The band, which would become the live version of the group was put together as we went, with the drummer from the EP, Mark Bronson, staying on, and joined for the tracking sessions by Montreal’s Mike St.Denis, ( pronounced Saint Denee ), on lead guitar, and Phil Angers, ( pronounced Onzhay ), on bass. Peter Kashur, a Thunder Bay native like Paul Schaeffer, joined next, with Drew Winters joining last, during the recording of “Love Story”, the last track we recorded for the LP. Looking back on it now, it’s a wonder we ever finished the damn thing. It was chaotic, exhilarating and frightening all at once. Just like falling in love.
Track by Track…The Whole Story of the Gotta Have Pop Album
Although updated, and modified slightly, this “Track by Track” breakdown originally appeared in an American Power Pop Fanzine, and again in the Bullseye Records reissue of Gotta Have Pop on CD.
After being quizzed by stalwart music maven Frank Gutch Junior about the Gotta Have Pop album that grew out of the EP, I told him that the thing I loved most about it was that it still sounds fresh. Frank replied….
Frank Gutch Jr. Sez – “You’re right. It still sounds fresh. One of my all-time favorite albums, (though my favorite track has always been, “Goodbye L.A.” Stop the Cliff’s notes. More details.”
Well, far be it from me to deny Frank his due, so I thought it might be fun to give Junior (and the rest of you) a fairly detailed look into the tracks that make up the Gotta Have Pop album. So, here is a track by track breakdown of the original LP. Please thank, or blame Frank, for me dragging this out and sharing it with you…
Gotta Have Pop: Gotta Have Pop, the song, was written for, and was supposed to be, the title track of the never completed Dudes second album. The Dudes version of this song was recorded in 1975 at Phase One recording studios in Scarborough, Ontario, the same studio the Segarini Band used to re-record it 3 years later. The Dudes version was turned down by CBS in New York, and it became an obsession with me to record and release the song which, of course, I eventually did. The 2 versions, Dudes and Segarini, are almost identical. The lyric is still as valid today as it was when I wrote it…and to set the record straight…I continued to love the Beatles, but Sgt. Pepper caused every artist at the time to put the emphasis on the overall sound/theme of their albums and all but ignore A.M radio’s beloved 3-minute singles. It was a mistake to think that the genre was square or un-hip, and, to this day, it still pisses me off. By the way, the lead guitar was a Stratocaster recorded 6 times and spread in stereo, 3 to a side…cool sound huh?
Segarini Band Version:
Hideaway: Although this appears to be a song about a relationship between two people, it is actually about that good old bitch/goddess/mistress, L.A.
I have always had a love/hate relationship with Los Angeles and it finally manifested itself in this song. Now, being a native of Northern California, (born in San Francisco, raised in Stockton), I got tired of hearing, ” Oh, I’ve been to LA”, every time I mentioned California. Where I grew up is almost 500 miles north and there, we pretty much thought of L.A as a pus-filled bag of bullshit, despair, and frustration that hangs onto the bottom of the state like a pesky little dingleberry. For the record, California isn’t defined by just Disneyland, Sunset Strip and Melrose Place…it is San Francisco, the Redwoods, Carmel/Monterey, Yosemite, the Sierra Nevada’s, Tahoe, Etc. Oddly enough, I didn’t dislike LA because I felt like an outsider, but rather the exact opposite. The women were beautiful and easy, the drugs were free, and I hung around with the movers and groovers, always at the party…and that was the problem…it is hard to stay true to your artistic vision in an environment that stresses the rewards of success without the work involved. If you believe in your music, or talent, at all, then L.A is the LAST place you should go. Establish yourself first in the real world, then take it to the machine. L.A is just too much fun and it’s hard to be creative when the blow-jobs are so damn good. Since the advent of AIDS and the proliferation of hand guns and a crappy economy, Los Angeles is not as hedonistic as it once was unless you’re wealthy and use lots of condoms. When we lived there, back in the ‘60’s, it was like being married to a herd of nymphomaniac Playmates of the Month who didn’t care if they ever saw you again.
Afraid of the Ocean: My little salute to fear. Once again, this is a song originally written for the Dudes and yes indeedy, a demo version exists, albeit nowhere near as realized as this one. I have always been fond of this song, mainly for the lines, ” Watching sailors and seagulls staring silently out to see whatever there is to sea…” and ” the pilot walks by, and he’s trying to hide the fact he’s wearing a parachute..”, which for years my ex-wife thought was, ” wearing a pair of shoes…“, ( ?!?! ). Plus, the island feel and real steel drums etc, gave it a flavor that in those days, was pretty rare. I had always wanted to write a song about the fear of death that was perky and happy sounding and this is as close as I have come so far. That drowning and splashing around you hear at the fade-out was me with my head shoved into a mic-ed bucket of water in the loading bay of Phase One. Ahh…the things you do for art !
Afraid of the Ocean:
I Don’t Want to Lose You: Alright, I confess…this song was the result of a massive attack of cynicism and self-pity, a wallow on the pop-side, to paraphrase Lou Reed.
In a fit of frustration and misguided anger, I decided that the average record buyer had the musical taste and intelligence of a spoon, and wrote this little ditty convinced that it should be the first single from the album and that its repetitive structure and Paul McCartney banality would hurl it up the charts like a rocket. Of course, after it was finished, I realized it was less than my best…still, I left it on the album because, in my arrogance, I had stumbled across a very innocent and unassuming throwback to an earlier era of simple love songs I enjoyed when I was younger, you know, when you wanted to tell a girl you really liked her and…well…uh…er…you felt like you should be a poet…but had the lyrical ability of Barney the Dinosaur.
I Don’t Want to Lose You:
Don’t Believe a Word I Say: This song has been a pain in the ass ever since I wrote it. It also has a very interesting history and a longevity that has surprised the hell out of me. To this day, old fans of the record introduce me to people with, “This is Bob…don’t believe a word he says! Har Har Har!” Enough already. Gather ’round kiddies, and I’ll tell you the tale…fade to August, 1977. The music bed to this song was recorded the night Elvis Presley went to that big deep-fried banana and bacon sandwich in the sky. A few friends and I decided a wake was in order and proceeded to drink WAY too much in honor of the late, overweight King. We spent the night discussing the universal conundrum…Early Elvis, Movie Elvis, Vegas Elvis, or Enormous Elvis, Who was the Best King, when it occurred to me that one of our number, Brian Fitzgerald, had the key to Thunder Sound…the studio where I had been working on what was to become the A&M EP. Being that the other two revelers were Doug Inglis and Greg Godovitz from the criminally under rated trio Goddo, I suggested we record a tribute to the memory of the dearly departed Karate wielding/caddy driving/sideburn wearing/sweaty towel-tossing dead guy, to which they readily agreed. So, with Doug on drums, Greg on guitar and bass, me on piano, and Brian behind the board, we laid down what eventually became the completed instrumental bed-track to DBAWIS. It would be months before the lyrics were written…in fact, we were so drunk when this thing was recorded, that I didn’t even remember the track was in the can until I happened across it about two weeks later. The lyrics came about at a dinner party about 2 months after the track was recorded.
A lawyer/manager who shall remain nameless was sitting next to me valiantly trying to pick up some sweet young thing and I merely wrote down what he was saying on a napkin. The spoken choruses are what I was sure he was thinking, and that’s all I did. At the Juno awards a year later, my publicist, Colleen Irwin, gave a DBAWIS button to then Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, and we all partied in his suite and had a grand old time. A year later he was on television delivering the Canadian equivalent of the State of the Union address and reduced everyone I knew to tears. There on his lapel, obvious to anyone who had ever seen one, was the little pink “Don’t Believe A Word I Say” button Colleen had given him the year before…to this day, the single most honest political moment I have ever witnessed.
Don’t Believe a Word I Say:
Livin’ In the Movies: Like DBAWIS, this started out as an 8-track recording during the A&M Thunder Sound sessions. Unlike DBAWIS, however, I dumped this one down to 24-track for added overdubs, including the ersatz “horn section”. Once again, budget restraints reared their ugly head, and, desperate for a horn section, I had to improvise. Being able to afford only one tenor sax player, (a friend of Greg Godovitz’s named Paul Irvine), I had to resort to studio trickery for the other horns…alto, tenor, and baritone saxes, plus a couple of trumpets. For you other cash poor producers out there that would rather not use samples or synths, simply direct input a Hammond B-3 organ into an old used Aiwa 2-track tape recorder with it’s own built in 2-inch speakers, poke holes in the speakers with a pin, mic the speakers with a U-86 and, using the horn stops on the B-3, record each horn part separately. The distortion caused be the pin-pricks gives a pretty realistic sound, and it’s way cheaper than hiring a bunch of beer guzzling session guys…just kidding, fellas. The line, “…I’m not even sorry that I hit you that night.”, gave me a little trouble with the politically correct Nazi’s…and the lyric, “…you had a real sweet fanny…”, had to be changed for England, because over there, fanny is slang for the orifice that resides in the front, (sort of), of their women. Those wacky Brits…tsk, tsk, tsk. This is still one of my all time favorite tracks, especially the remix I had to do after I changed the lyric. You can find that version as a bonus track on the reissue of GHP that Bullseye Records released a few years ago.
Livin’ in the Movies
North American Version:
Steady Eddie: Does this song refer to Eddie Haskell, the ass kissing best friend of Wally Cleaver?
Well, kinda…it also refers to my cousin Eddie, a reformed dope dealer and prototype for both Beavis and Butthead, until he came around. Frankly it was just my attempt to marry the pop ballad styles of the 70’s with the doo-wop sensibilities of the 50’s, and I think I did a pretty good job, although the band, being a decade younger than me, never did forgive the “ooohs”, “aaahs”, and basso-profundo “yeahs” that made up the background vocals. Oh well…make your own damn records.
Dressed In the Dark: Yes, it sounds a hell of a lot like Elvis Costello’s “Mystery Dance”, but I dare you to find another song that addresses adultery, prostitution, panic, and cross-dressing, in under 2 minutes.
Dressed in the Dark:
When the Lights Are Out: Ahh, Slade. Does anyone remember this flock of Yobs from the British Isles? One of the great, forgotten bands of the early 70’s along with Ducks Deluxe, (whom we covered on the “Goodbye LA” album), and T-Rex.
Slade were a band that wrote classic pop songs, all but demolishing them with sheer volume when they recorded them. Noddy Holder still possesses one of the loudest, cutting voices ever to chew up a lyric and spit it out. Of all their hits, (sadly, mostly ignored in North America), this one begged to be covered and we did, attempting to bring to it a subtlety missing from the original. Still one of the greatest non-Beatle, Beatle songs ever written by a band tragically misrepresented years later by Quiet Riot, a group whose entire career was based on rape-ing and pillage-ing the Slade songbook. There is no justice even now, as witness the current Cheap Trick cover that reinstates the power chords, yelled lyrics, and dumbs down the repetitious chorus.
When the Lights Are Out:
Love Story: I wrote this song in 1973 and it remains a piece of material of which I am most proud. It was during the ruckus surrounding Sid Bernstein’s, (a New York based concert promoter), offer of Bill Gates-amounts of money for a one-shot Beatle reunion concert at Shea Stadium. An offer so desperate to capture the past, that Lorne Michaels made an offer for the Beatles to appear on SNL…for scale. As funny as that was, I was incensed for some ethical reason, and wrote “Love Story”, as a ‘thanks but no thanks’ paean to the Beatles that, thanks to the faux-reunion produced by
Jeff Lynne and the mania over the re-issues, holds more water now than it ever did. In the obituary that I wrote for the Toronto Star on the loss of John Lennon, I pointed out that it was we, the fans, who had broken up the Fab Four, not, as was the popular theory, the Beatle wives, (Yoko in particular). If, I said then, we had left them alone to grow as individual artists, we may have continued to have occasional Beatle albums to look forward to forever, that they just wanted to be accepted as men and not a ‘Thing’. I stick by that theory still…and the lyrics of this song are some of the most heartfelt I have ever written. Also, a tip of the hat to Randy Newman and Paul Simon who supplied the musical style with which I made my point.
Let this track also serve as a preview of the upcoming remaster of the Gotta Have Pop album, as done by the extraordinary Dave Bingham, whose band, The Ugly Ducklings insoired many young Canadian musicians.
Double Super Dooper Happy Funtime Family Lucky Bonus!
Were The Segarini Band Good Live?
We will discuss the gig that these clips are from another time, but I just spotted them on YouTube and thought you might like to see what 3rd set jamming and dicking around can lead to. The guys in the Segarini Band weren’t just talented musicians…they knew how to improvise, follow whoever brought the idea, pay attention to one another, and create magic where many bands wouldn’t think of looking. There is a guest in one of these clips who is clearly very famous…or is he? Only time will tell…or will it? No rehearsals were ever done for any of the following, just late sets in a great band…Mwahahahahaaaaaa….
Segarini’s regular columns appear here whenever another dick gets put in the bag
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Bob “The Iceman” Segarini was in the bands The Family Tree, Roxy, The Wackers, The Dudes, and The Segarini Band and nominated for a Juno for production in 1978. He also hosted “Late Great Movies” on CITY TV, was a producer of Much Music, and an on-air personality on CHUM FM, Q107, SIRIUS Sat/Rad’s Iceberg 95, (now 85), and now publishes, edits, and writes for DBAWIS, continues to write music, make music, and record.