ATF Tunes: Is it magic that makes you appear?

In 1954, Bob Rock was born in Winnipeg, later moving to suburban Victoria. A year later, on the other side of the Atlantic, Paul Hyde was born in Yorkshire, England, later immigrating to Canada as a teenager. The two ended up in high school together in Langford, BC. Hyde introduced Rock and a couple of other friends to the punk music that was popular in England at the time. They formed a garage band and Rock landed a job as a recording engineer at Little Mountain Sound Studios in Vancouver, enabling the band to record some punk tunes. Eventually they signed a record deal with A&M. An EP followed and then a full-length album in 1981 which was a commercial disappointment.

As new wave was replacing punk in Britain, and was beginning to become popular in Canada, the band decided to change genres. In 1982, they released the album No Stranger to Danger. The switch into new wave proved to be a wise choice. The album went platinum in Canada thanks mostly to the Top 5 hit and Juno Song of the Year winner “Eyes of a Stranger“, one of our favourite songs of all-time by a Canadian artist. The band, of course, is The Payolas. The song was a bit different from other new wave pieces in that it was heavier on percussion than on synth and used guitar echo effects.

Lyrics

Can I touch you to see if you’re real
‘Cause in nothing there’s something I feel
Will my heart take the strain
Or will it break down again

In your lips I sense a danger
You’ve got the eyes of a stranger

Have I been sleeping for all these years?
Is it magic that makes you appear?
When you walked in the room I felt my heart race
But knew I’d be fooled when I looked at your face

In your lips I sense a danger
You’ve got the eyes of a stranger
In your lips I see a danger
You’ve got the eyes of a stranger

Summary

Song: “Eyes of a Stranger”
Album: No Stranger to Danger
Year: 1982
Artist: The Payola$
Origin: Vancouver

More songs…

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“Tears Are Not Enough” by Northern Lights

Notable Canadian band manager Bruce Allen organized a project to record a charity single for African famine relief in response to Britain’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” Jim Vallance in an interview told the story of how things came together in writing and recording the song “Tears Are Not Enough” sung by a supergroup of Canadian artists called Northern Lights.

…in 1985, David [Foster] returned to Vancouver for a year. He and his wife Rebecca bought a house in the same neighbourhood where Bryan Adams and I lived, but we didn’t see much of them. One day I ran into David in the lobby of Little Mountain Sound Studio, where he was producing an album for Paul Hyde and Bob Rock’s group, The Payolas. He approached me in a panic and said, “You have a home studio, right?” I replied that I did.

Visibly excited, David told me he’d just got off the phone with Quincy Jones, who’d just finished recording a Michael Jackson / Lionel Ritchie song for African famine relief called “We Are The World”. Quincy played the song for David over the phone, and said he wanted David to record a Canadian song for Africa — and it had to be finished in the next week or two so it could be included on the U.S. album release!

“We Are The World” was written in response to Bob Geldoff’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas”, recorded and released the year before (1984). Geldoff’s song raised millions of dollars for Africa, and had already made a significant difference to those suffering from drought and famine. Quincy hoped that a Canadian song might help make a difference too.

David already had a melody, borrowed from a song he’d been working on, and he had a title, “Tears Are Not Enough”, which had been provided by Paul Hyde and Bob Rock. It was nearly twenty years later (2004) when I finally heard the story behind the “title”:

Paul and Bob had been in the studio with Foster on the day that Quincy Jones called. Several weeks earlier they’d written a song called “Tears Are Not Enough”, and after the call from Quincy they played their song for David, thinking it might be suitable for the Famine Relief recording. “So, what do you think?” they asked, when they’d finished presenting the song. “Nice title”, David replied.

The next morning (Friday, February 1, 1985) David arrived at my home studio. He played me his melody on the piano. It was a pretty ballad with an interesting, circular chord progression. He also mentioned Paul and Bob’s title, “Tears Are Not Enough”, which I thought was excellent.

With the melody and the title we had enough to get started, so began recording the track right away. Using his Emulator synthesizer David laid down a piano, followed by a Moog bass, then a bell sound. I added drums and percussion. An hour or two later we had a “basic track” (it was only intended to be a quick “demo” recording, but it worked so well we ended up using it for the final recording).

Then we started working on the lyrics:
We can close the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t you know that tears are not enough

It was a good start, but David had to rush away for a session with The Payolas, promising to return the following day. I continued work on the lyrics while my wife Rachel [Paiement] wrote a few lines in French — after all, it was a Canadian song for Africa!

The next day Bryan Adams arrived from Los Angeles and hurried over to help. He looked at the lyrics I’d written so far and immediately suggested an improvement. “How about ‘we can BRIDGE the distance’?”, he said. It was perfect, and with that we were off and running.

We finished the lyric later that evening, then Bryan and Rachel recorded the vocals. The demo was completed at 4:00 a.m. the next morning.

Meanwhile, David enlisted Bryan’s manager Bruce Allen to help assemble a roster of performers. Bruce was well-connected in the music industry, and in quick succession Joni Mitchell and Neil Young agreed to participate. Then Kim Mitchell and Gordon Lightfoot. Burton Cummings came on board, and so did Geddy Lee and Corey Hart.

Comedians John Candy and Catherine O’Hara offered their services, along with legendary jazz pianist Oscar Peterson and David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer. Dan Hill, Jane Sibbery, Sylvia Tyson, Robert Charlebois … the list of participants grew by the hour.

I suggested we record the vocals at Manta Studios [in Toronto], where I’d recorded Bryan Adams’ first album (and also Barney Bentall, Lisa Dal Bello and Cano). The room was big enough to accommodate a large group, and I also knew that veteran engineer Hayward Parrott could handle the complex task of recording 30 soloists … plus a chorus of 50!

Michael Godin (A&M Records) contacted Manta owner Andy Hermant, who generously donated the studio. On Saturday (February 9, 1985) we flew to Toronto to prepare for the mammoth recording session planned for the following day.

During the flight we reviewed the lyric sheet and the list of artists and determined who would sing which line. We decided the song should begin with Canadian legend Gordon Lightfoot (“As everyday goes by …”), then move to Burton Cummings (“How can we close our eyes …”), then to Anne Murray, Joni Mitchell, and so on.

The session took place on Sunday, February 10, 1985. It was a bitter cold day, but hundreds of fans gathered outside Manta to watch the “stars” arrive. Gordon Lightfoot drove himself to the studio in a pick-up truck. Neil Young and Joni Mitchell arrived by taxi. Platinum Blonde arrived in a white stretch limo.

Just as Quincy Jones had done in Los Angeles, Foster taped a poster in the studio lobby that said, “Leave your egos at the door”. Everyone gave 200 percent, and at the end of the day we had the makings of a magical record.

One of the funniest moments happened during Neil Young’s performance. He’d sung his line once or twice already, but Foster still wasn’t happy and asked Neil to try again. When Neil asked why, David told him he was out of tune. “That’s my style, man”, Neil shot back.

For me, one of the highlights was sitting on the studio floor a few feet from Joni Mitchell while she carved graceful lines in the air with her hands as she sang. Another special moment was meeting Richard Manuel, singer and pianist for “The Band”. In fact, Joni Mitchell and “The Band” are two of my biggest musical influences. I was in “fan heaven”, meeting them and hearing them sing lyrics I’d written!

After completing the vocal session in Toronto, David and I returned to Vancouver and booked time at Pinewood Studios and Little Mountain Sound where more instruments were added to the track, including Loverboy’s Doug Johnson and Paul Dean, who contributed keyboards and guitar. Steven Denroche, a member of the Vancouver Symphony, was called in to play French Horn…

One important Canadian artist unable to attend the Toronto recording session was Bruce Cockburn, who was performing in Germany at the time. Cockburn ‘s manager, Bernie Finkelstein, wondered if there wasn’t a way Bruce could record his vocal at a studio in Germany and have it edited into the finished product at a later date. It was a nice idea, but to meet our deadline Bruce’s contribution would have to be filmed and recorded sometime in the next 48 hours. In a moment of weakness I volunteered to fly to Germany!

The good news is, Air Canada provided a free ticket. The bad news is, there were no direct fights — so I had to fly from Vancouver to Toronto, Toronto to London, London to Frankfurt, and Frankfurt to Hamburg … a 44-hour round-trip. I arrived in Hamburg just in time to catch Bruce’s performance at a club on Tuesday evening. I met him backstage, for the first time, after the show.

I’d brought a cassette tape of the song, which Bruce hadn’t heard yet. But before I could even play the tape, Bruce dropped a bomb. He said he hadn’t yet decided if he wanted to participate in the project!

Bernie had neglected to tell me that Bruce hadn’t made up his mind yet — and I’d just spent 22 hours on a #$&@ airplane! In my sleep-deprived, jet-lagged stupor my first reaction was to reach across the table and grab Bruce by the throat with both hands. Instead, I used every ounce of diplomacy I could muster. I told Bruce how magical the session in Toronto had been … how it was truly a special project, and that everyone was looking forward to his involvement, which was true!

Bruce eventually came around, and he agreed to meet me at a Hamburg recording studio the following morning. It took less than an hour to complete Bruce’s audio and video recording, then it was back to the airport for the 22-hour return flight to Vancouver (via Frankfurt, London and Toronto).

I met one of the film people at the airport in Toronto during my two-hour lay-over, and I handed him the Cockburn footage to edit into the video. After spending a much-needed night in my own bed in Vancouver, I flew to Los Angeles the next morning to deliver Bruce’s audio track. Foster and his assistant Chris Earthy met me at the airport, and we rushed over to Kenny Roger’s “Lion’s Share” studio where Cockburn’s vocal was edited into the audio mix that engineer Humberto Gatica had nearly completed.

“Tears Are Not Enough” reached #1 on the Canadian charts and helped raise more than $3-million for African Famine Relief.

Lyrics and Vocalists

As every day goes by, how can we close our eyes (Gordon Lightfoot)
Until we open up our hearts (Burton Cummings)

We can learn to share and show how much we care (Anne Murray)
Right from the moment that we start (Joni Mitchell)

Seems like overnight, we see the world in a different light (Dan Hill)
Somehow our innocence is lost (Neil Young)

How can we look away, ’cause every single day (Bryan Adams)
We’ve got to help at any cost (Liberty Silver and Loverboy’s Mike Reno)

Chorus (sung by the nine singers above):

We can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t ya know that tears are not enough

If we can pull together
We could change the world forever
Heaven knows that tears are not enough

It’s up to me and you to make the dream come true (Carroll Baker, Ronnie Hawkins, and Murray McLauchlan)
It’s time to take our message everywhere (Corey Hart)

C’est l’amour qui nous rassemble
d’ici a l’autre bout du monde (Véronique Béliveau, Robert Charlebois, and Claude Dubois)

Let’s show them Canada still cares (Bruce Cockburn)
You know that we’ll be there (Rush’s Geddy Lee)

(Chorus – all 18 singers above)

And if we could try (Bryan Adams and Don Gerrard)
Together you and I (All 44 Singers)
Maybe we could understand the reasons why (Zappacosta and Dalbello)
If we take a stand (Rough Trade’s Carole Pope and The Payola$ Paul Hyde)
Every woman, child and man (Salome Bey, Platinum Blonde’s Mark Holmes, and The Parachute Club’s Lorraine Segato)
We can make it work for God’s sake lend a hand (Loverboy’s Mike Reno)

(Chorus – all the above singers plus Paul Anka, Liona Boyd, actor John Candy, Tom Cochrane, Tommy Hunter, Martha Johnson (M+M), actor Eugene Levy, pop pianist Frank Mills, Kim Mitchell, jazz pianist Oscar Peterson, David Letterman sidekick Paul Shaffer, Jane Siberry, Sylvia Tyson (Ian & Sylvia), dj Barry Harris, actress Catherine O’Hara, and Wayne St. John)

The “Tears Are Not Enough” project was one of the finest moments in Canadian music history.

Les Yeux de la Faim

It didn’t receive much attention outside of Quebec but Francophone artists banded together to record an additional charity single for African famine relief. Celine Dion, Rene & Nathalie Simard and others lent their voices to the beautiful “Les Yeux de la Faim“.

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.

New Wave and Electronic Rock (1980-84)

In the early 80s, dance music became less popular in the English-speaking world. It was to be reborn several years later. Punk rock whose appeal was confined for the most part to the United Kingdom morphed into new wave. The synthesizer, Bob Moog’s 1963 invention, had made appearances in rock throughout the 70s, but a number of British artists began experimenting with using the synthesizer as the lead and sometimes only instrument. This new electronic rock helped spawn a second British Invasion. Arguably, with acts like Images in Vogue, Strange Advance, Rational Youth, Blue Peter, Moev, The Spoons, and Rough Trade, Canada was more keen on developing synthesizer-driven pop than the United States. The most popular new wave act was perhaps Vancouver-based The Payola$.

With the new styles in music, radio was friendlier to some artists than to others. The so-called underground music scene became exceptionally popular as did college radio which picked up the slack. In order to help promote and recognize more experimental music, the CASBY awards were established in 1981 to honour excellence in independent or “alternative” music and artists.

Guitar-oriented new wave group Corbeau was somewhat successful in Québec. When it disbanded in 1984, female singer Marjo embarked on a solo career. Québec never grew tired of dance music. With the new interest in synthesizers, electronics were added to the genre care of acts like Trans X and the hugely successful Men Without Hats. English Canada experimented with dancier new wave and came up with male/female combo outfits like The Parachute Club and Martha and the Muffins, which later became known as M+M.

After new wave, the second most popular genre in the early 80s, which did not receive as much radio airplay, was heavy metal. A few artists in Canada dabbled in this, like Helix, Toronto, and Chilliwack spin-off The Headpins, and some combined electronics with hard rock, like Aldo Nova and supergroup Loverboy.

Curiously, a backlash against this new-fangled music emerged in parallel. A number of groups performing more traditional blues rose to prominence, the most notable of which were The Powder Blues Band, Doug and the Slugs, and a cappella group The Nylons. Medicine Hat (Alberta) risqué country band Showdown debuted in 1980 and Montréal fusion-jazz outfit UZEB in 1981. Scottish import Eric Robertson, a composer, pianist and organist scored a multi-platinum album entitled Magic Melodies.

A number of acts did not deviate from straight-forward pop: The Kings, Teenage Head, Straight Lines, Sheriff, and Red Rider (whom we’ll feature later in conjunction with front man Tom Cochrane’s solo career). But it was primarily the solo artists who performed mainstream pop and a few of them were to become the biggest names in Canadian music history.

Diane Tell (who also performed with aforementioned UZEB), Véronique Béliveau, and Martine Saint-Clair made headways in French Canada. René‘s little sister Nathalie Simard became a child star in the early 80s. In 1983, Céline Dion emerged and blew everyone in the province away. We’ll talk about her later when she achieved international superstardom.

In English Canada, debuts from women were notably absent during this period. For the men, however, it was a very different story. From Montréal, an English singer who liked to wear sunglasses at night released a sleeper hit album in 1983. No one knew just how popular he was to become by the middle of the decade. His name was Corey Hart. An ex-Sweeney Todd Vancouverite singer got some attention with his “Let Me Take You Dancing” in 1979. But, frustrated with his lack of big success, he teamed up with songwriter Jim Vallance, changed his singing style from smooth to gravelly, and released Cuts Like a Knife in early 1983. For Bryan Adams all hell broke loose, and he captivated the nation eventually becoming the most successful Canadian artist of all-time. The biggest male name in French songs was perhaps Manitoba-born Daniel Lavoie. Although he started out in the 70s, his popularity skyrocketed in the early 80s, and he garnered a few Félix Awards. In 1998, he teamed up with two other singers and released the third best-selling single of all time in France.

The best-selling albums during the period were those from Anne Murray, Loverboy, Ginette Reno, and the aforementioned Eric Robertson. Another big-seller was the novelty comedy record Bob & Doug McKenzie‘s Great White North responsible for a couple of hit songs, including the Geddy Lee (Rush) led “Take Off”.

It is also worth noting that, outside of Québec, which had a very productive year, significant Canadian music was practically non-existent in 1984. Sherry Kean scored a Top 20 hit with “I Want You Back” and Italy-born Zappacosta became known in some circles with his debut release. But no Canadian song made the weekly Top 10 in the RPM charts throughout the entire year. Furthermore, no Canadian song made the year-end CHUM chart, and the Juno Awards were delayed. What happened in 1985, however, was to more than make up for it.

With the ever-increasing popularity of music videos, Canada launched a national channel called MuchMusic at the end of August in 1984. Although criticized for focussing too much on music from and that appealed to Torontonians (where the station was based), and showcasing too much American-style black and Spanish music, it enabled a number of Canadian artists to gain exposure and make breakthroughs. Two years later, a French language version was aired called MusiquePlus.

MuchMusic was also criticized for airing too many movies, game and reality shows when most people tuned in to see the MVs. The channel responded to all the criticism by launching MuchMoreMusic in 1998 which played more MVs and music that appealed more to adult Canadians.

Eventually, MuchMusic replaced CBC’s Good Rockin’ Tonite which was broadcast from Vancouver.

Coming up, we’ll provide a list of significant Canadian songs in the early 80s, followed by a special feature on Bob & Doug McKenzie’s The Great White North album, and then mini-profiles on semi-major acts Martha and the Muffins, The Parachute Club, Martine St-Clair, and Toronto, and finally individual profiles on major artists Men Without Hats, The Payola$, Loverboy, Diane Tell, Véronique Béliveau, Corey Hart, Daniel Lavoie, and Bryan Adams.