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The K-Tels

The K-Tels - Automan EP - 7

Automan EP - 7"
Quintessence - 1980

Michael Panontin
In their infancy the K-Tels were prized in the nascent Vancouver scene for their fiery and frenetic punk, with the cranky 'I Hate Music' finding its way onto the excellent comp LP Vancouver Complication. However, before this EP, their first disc proper, had even been issued, the Winnipeg-based cheapo reissue label K-Tel Records had sicced the suits on them, delivering a 30-page writ of K-Tel's statement of claim. As guitarist/vocalist Art Bergmann would tell it, "They had one of the hottest lawyers in Canada, Norman Shapiro, telling us to cease and desist." K-Tel were demanding $50,000 compensation, rather steep coin for a bunch of fledgling indie punks, claiming (it would appear without any hint of irony) "damages against the goodwill of their name." The lads would stave off legal action by ultimately choosing the equally ironic, though legally benign, moniker the Young Canadians for their future releases.

This three-song EP was recorded in 1979, though ultimately not released until the following year - the label obligingly hacks off the K, showing them as just the Tels - when it was included in limited quantities in the first pressings of their debut Hawaii EP. 'Automan' is a tough, muscular track about freedom and autonomy in the workaday world. But 'Where Are You?' on the flip is the real gem here. Frantic, energized and pogo-friendly, it's a supercharged affair, rife with speedy 1977 punk and the requisite surly vocals, past its expiry date upon release, but a fine legacy for posterity nonetheless.

(All three tracks are included on the Young Canadians No Escape compilation on Sudden Death.)


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