The Payola$

A.k.a. Paul Hyde and the Payolas, Rock and Hyde

Debut: 1979, Vancouver
Breakthrough: 1982
Years Most Active: 1979-1987

Primary Members:

Paul Hyde (guitar, vocals)
Bob Rock (guitar, bass, vocals)
Chris Taylor (drums)
Christopher Livingston (keyboards)

Genre: New Wave

Biggest Hit:

Eyes of a Stranger” (1982)

– Juno Award in 1983 for Song of the Year
– #60 on CHUM FM’s Year-End Chart (1982)
– Peaked at #4 on the RPM charts

Other Hits:

– “China Boys”, 1979
– “Soldier”, 1982
– “Romance”, 1982
– “Never Said I Loved You”, 1983 (with Carole Pope of Rough Trade)
– “Where Is This Love”, 1983
– “You’re the Only Love”, 1985
– “Here’s the World For Ya”, 1985
– “Stuck in the Rain”, 1985
– “It Must Be Love”, 1986
– “Dirty Water”, 1987
– “I Will”, 1987
– “Talk to Me”, 1987

Studio Albums:

1980: Introducing Payola$ (4-song EP)
1981: In a Place Like This
1982: No Stranger to Danger, Platinum
1983: Hammer on A Drum, Platinum
1985: Here’s the World For Ya (as Paul Hyde and the Payolas)
1987: Under the Volcano (as Rock and Hyde)

Paul Hyde, an expatriate from Britain, met Winnipegger Bob Rock in high school in Langford, BC and introduced him to the new musical genre of punk rock, popular in England. They formed a garage band and Bob Rock got a job at Vancouver’s famous Little Mountain Sound Studios as a recording engineer. This enabled The Payola$ to record, in the late 70s, punkish songs “Money for Hype” and “China Boys” on independent labels, selling the singles at their gigs and through local record shops. This led to a contract with A&M Records.

A four-song EP entitled Introducing Payola$ was released in 1980. The band’s name was a reference to previous payola scandals in the U.S. in which record companies would offer bribes to radio stations to air songs. These scandals nearly derailed the careers of Alan Freed and Dick Clark. One deejay admitted to accepting $22,000 to air a single. The success of the Payola$’ EP gave A&M confidence enough to release a full-length album the following year, In a Place Like This. The album garnered praise from critics but flopped commercially. As new wave was replacing punk in Britain and was becoming the predominant musical force west of the Atlantic, the band made a genre-switch and line-up change.

In 1982, the album No Stranger to Danger was released, and its “Eyes of a Stranger” was a huge success, winning for the band the Juno for Song of the Year, beating out Rush, Loverboy, and Toronto. Junos were also awarded to the band for song-writing, Most Promising Group, and Bob Rock’s recording work. The album went platinum and The Payolas went on tour with The Go-Gos.

Some regard the Juno Award for Most Promising Group as a kiss of death, so the band worked hard on their follow-up album. Rough Trade’s vocalist Carole Pope was recruited in a duet with Hyde called “Never Said I Loved You” and the band began singing about more social issues like drunkenness, child abuse, and the threat of nuclear war. The album Hammer on a Drum was released in 1983. It went platinum thanks to the aforementioned single and “Where Is This Love”. The band toured Canada with Supertramp.

A&M (and the band) was disappointed that the album had made little headway south of the border and speculated that American radio stations, still sensitive to the earlier scandals, were snubbing them due to their name. The band did not want to drop their name, familiar now to Canadian fans, so a compromise was settled upon and their next album introduced them as Paul Hyde and The Payola$. The group was asked to change musical direction as well, shifting from new wave into more commercially-accessible mainstream pop. Big name Canadian producer David Foster was brought onboard to produce the album, Here’s the World For Ya (1985). Although the title-track and two additional singles released proved that the band and producer had delivered the goods, the album was a failure and many loyal fans of the band were lost in the shuffle. The band was up to its wits end in having to compromise themselves musically and had a falling out with A&M.

Critics felt that Foster’s richly polished pop style was not a good fit with the percussion-laden, punkish energy of the band.

The good news about working with Foster, however, was that a song Rock and Hyde were working on became one of the biggest songs of 1985 when other songwriters, musicians, and singers contributed their skills in recording it as a charity single to relieve famine in Africa. The song was “Tears Are Not Enough”. We’ll talk more about this in detail later on.

Paul Hyde and Bob Rock continued their partnership and changed their name to Rock and Hyde. In 1987, they released Under the Volcano on Capitol Records. Producer Bruce Fairbairn was brought onboard giving the duo creative freedom. The album spawned three hit singles which echoed the band’s earlier style and socially conscious lyrics. After this, the two went their separate ways: Hyde as a solo artist (he had a minor hit with “America is Sexy”) and Rock as a world famous record producer for Motley Crue, Metallica, Aerosmith, and The Cranberries.