“Viv Akauldren were from Detroit, I think. I seem to remember hanging out with the guitar player one day, wandering the sidewalks of downtown Vancouver, mid-80s sometime. He was overwhelmed by how peaceful it all was – how safe. They were gigging in town that night. The booking agent was a friend. So I guess I was being hospitable. Anyway, it all speaks to how lost so much of that era is. So many great indie outfits coming and going, cranking out powerful stuff, leaving little or no trace. Of course, I did manage to hang onto a copy of one of Viv Akauldren’s albums – Old Bags + Party Rags – which was nicely paranoid, political, psychedelic, and entirely relevant, then and now.” (Philip Random)
“Evol (the name of the album in question) is love spelled backward, which is pretty much what was going on in 1991, Vancouver’s Pacific Coliseum, as Sonic Youth warmed up Neil Young + Crazy Horse, choosing not to pander even slightly to all the aging hippies in the house, but rather to deliver unto them a profound and beautiful and sustained NOISE. The climax came with Expressway to Yr Skull, which actually starts out kind of nice, but then ‘We’re Gonna Kill – The California Girls – We’re gonna fire the exploding load in the milkmaid maidenhead.’ The hippies were very confused, angry even, but I just laughed. The times, they just kept a-changing.” (Philip Random)
“There’s not enough Funkadelic on this list. I’m sorry. It’s not my fault. Seriously, try to find any used Funkadelic vinyl in metro Vancouver that isn’t either hacked to shit or priced way out of my range. It doesn’t exist. But I did finally steal a copy of One Nation Under A Groove from somebody whose name I can’t divulge (for obvious reasons), but trust me, he’s an asshole. Jesus even said it was okay, and alcohol. And anyway, if I do end up going to hell, it won’t be for that.” (Philip Random)
“I had a friend back in the day with ambitions of being a big deal rock video director, which never really panned out. The closest he ever got to anything of substance was meeting somebody who knew somebody that maybe had some pull with Sons of Freedom. I remember him getting all excited, telling me his killer concept for Dead Dog On The Highway. To be shot out in the desert somewhere, the band playing at the side of the highway with every shot taken from passing vehicles, moving fast, so all you ever caught were quick glimpses. Meanwhile, Jesus was being crucified on a hill in the distance (dog being god spelled backwards). Needless to say, the band didn’t go for it. But it would’ve been a good one.” (Philip Random)
“My immediate King Sunny Ade memory is summertime 1983, way the hell up the trails of the North Shore mountains. The acid is kicking in nicely and Motron decides to put Synchro System on the blaster. The now sound of Nigeria suddenly imposed upon the melting, lysergic edge of western civilization. And it worked, like displaced tourist music, which is generally what you want whilst tripping the beyond within. The live show was also transcendent a few weeks later, Commodore Ballroom, the King and twenty-odd of his African Beats working grooves within grooves within … well, you get the picture.” (Philip Random)
The Enigmas are the great Vancouver band of the early-mid 1980s that most folks seem to have never heard of. They had the whole 60s garage-psyche thing more than just down – they actually transported you there, not so much back in time as into a whole other dimension that was tighter than punk and/or hardcore, and sexier, but every bit as hard and fast. If a proper recording existed of their umpteen minute live version of the Count Five’s Psychotic Reaction, it would be way up near the top of this list. As for the Windshield Wiper, it’s a dance. The record even came with a diagram.
Speaking of Vancouver bands of the 1980s that never got their proper due, why the hell is Sons of Freedom‘s Super Cool Wagon not the Hockey Night in Canada Theme? Seriously. Found on one of the great overlooked debut albums ever released by a Canadian band (or any other nationality for that matter), it’s truth in advertising: super powered, and it just crunches coolly along, afraid of nothing, elbows up all the way.
“To be clear, the stuff that came to be known as Grunge was alive and raw for years before most of the world ever heard about it. Look no further than Slow, straight outa the mean streets of Vancouver’s plush west side, teenagers with an equal love of punk rock and the likes of Aerosmith, Alice Cooper, ACDC, The Rolling Stones (anything and everything as long as it howled). I remember seeing them one night in 1985 at a small club. Maybe thirty seconds into the opening number (a Temptations cover), the singer (a guy named Tom) was up on the front row tables, kicking everybody’s beers over, instigating rage and ecstasy, smashing atoms by the truckload. Bad boys indeed.” (Philip Random)
“In which Jello Biafra hooks up with Vancouver’s own DOA to deliver a surprisingly faithful cover of one of the essential Rock Anthems (speaking of Eric Burdon). Maybe the essential rock anthem. I think I heard Bruce Springsteen say that once. This situation’s killing me. Might be school, might be a job, might be prison, a bad relationship, your family, your own asshole. Doesn’t matter where you are, there’s only one way to go, and that’s OUT. With a vengeance.” (Philip Random)