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Motherlode - When I Die

When I Die
Revolver - 1970

Michael Panontin
As an offshoot of the massive nine-piece Grant Smith and the Power, the four original members of Motherlode (guitarist Ken Marco, saxophonist Steve Kennedy, keyboardist William "Smitty" Smith, and Wayne Stone on drums) split the funky corridors of Toronto and its teeming Yonge Street strip for relatively staid London, Ontario. There, the band got down to business writing originals and, after struggling for a spell, striking the real mother lode in late 1969. Their first single, the silky, summery 'When I Die', sold half a million copies south of the border and later climbed to the number 5 spot up here in Canuckistan. With enough tracks in the can for a long-player, the band issued their debut LP When I Die on the strength of that single (both records came out on Revolver in Canada, but on the more influential Buddah imprint in the U.S.). Unfortunately, When I Die was a rather haphazard affair, rife with schmaltzy Latin vibes (follow-up single 'Memories of a Broken Promise'), anemic r'n'b covers (Jr. Walker's 'What Does It Take') and a lethargic stab at duplicating their hit (Marco's 'Livin' Life').

By early 1970 the band had fractured, and a posthumous album released by Buddah for the U.S. market, the aptly named Tapped Out, sadly showed that the band was indeed just that. Though Marco, Kennedy and Stone had already left to find success with Doug Riley's sprawling Dr. Music ensemble, Revolver president Mort Ross pressed on, trying out other incarnations under the same name - even recruiting guitarist Gord Waszek from Leigh Ashford - but to little avail. And so by late 1971, after a pair of lame seven-inchers failed to chart, Motherlode's membership in the one-hit wonder club seemed all but complete.

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