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Simply Saucer


Simply Saucer - She's A Dog / I Can Change My Mind - 7

She's A Dog / I Can Change My Mind - 7"
PIG - 1978


Michael Panontin
Punk rock turned out to be a saviour of sorts for Simply Saucer.

After three-odd years of equal parts practising and partying with the occasional gig thrown in for good measure, the Hamilton proto-punks still had no vinyl to their credit. Of course, Edgar Breau and Kevin Christoff (the group's guitarist and bassist, respectively) were record nerds of the highest degree. And so it should come as no surprise that Breau could be found in the front row of the February 18th, 1977 show at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, the famed 3D Concert that featured the Doncasters, the Diodes and the Dishes.

It was there that Breau was put in touch with zinester and the band's future manager Gary 'Pig' Gold. Gold was the catalyst that Simply Saucer needed to break through to the burgeoning punk audiences up the 401 in Toronto. "Meeting Edgar was a real eye and ear-opener," Gold would tell Jesse Locke in Heavy Metalloid Music. "But the other side of me was thinking, 'If you went to OCA to see the 3D Concert, why weren't you trying to go play Toronto yourself?'" And so it wasn't long before the guys were showing up on bills alongside the Diodes, the Ugly and the Viletones at such early punk meccas as the Colonial Tavern, Club David's and the Masonic Temple.

The final piece of the puzzle would come in the form of second guitarist Steve 'Sparky' Park, who replaced Alex Pollington in the fall of 1977. Park, whose pedigree included a very early stint with Teenage Head, was exactly the, um, spark that Simply Saucer needed to fit in with the notoriously finicky punk crowds. "I remember Sparky's first practice clearly," Christoff noted. "He plugged in and immediately had the guitar sound and the voice we were looking for. Everything became tighter and more focused."

The next logical step for Gold was to get out that coveted DIY artifact, a seven-inch record. The taut, whimsical 'She's a Dog', a song that was more pop than punk and which almost implausibly linked the early Velvet Underground with bubble gum music, was a natural choice for the top side. "'She's a Dog' was the most popular song," Gold explained. "That's the one people kept calling out for." It was also the song he thought was most likely to receive airplay on Toronto's punk-friendly radio stations. "It was the least caustic example of what Saucer could do, and I wanted to try to get their debut record on CFNY and CHUM-FM."

Simply Saucer were no strangers to the studio (their earlier Cyborgs Revisited tracks wouldn't see the light of day for another decade) but for Gold it was a pretty steep learning curve. Both he and the band were dead broke, and so the usual fifty-bucks-an-hour, ten-hour minimum, "hamburgers for the engineers" studios were out of the question. He settled on a budget studio named J.B. Sound, which was located in a house owned by a soft-rock enthusiast named John Boyd, "next to the washer/dryer in the basement".

The recording was, as Gold remembers, "absolute hell". After a few hours of screaming back and forth, Boyd walked out on the band, leaving Gold to figure things out for himself. "I remember looking at the eight-track board, and to me it was like NASA Mission Control." The next day at the mastering facility in Toronto was no different. When the engineer loaded up 'She's a Dog', red lights lit up all over the console. "The board looked like nuclear war had broken out!"

Amazingly, boxes of 'She's a Dog' finally arrived in June of 1978. With the rougher-hewn 'I Can Change My Mind' over on the flip, the record would become a welcome addition to the Canadian punk canon. It was mostly ignored on the home front, but 'She's a Dog' did manage some pretty impressive accolades on both sides of the Atlantic, with the likes of John Peel, Rough Trade's Geoff Travis and Goldmine reviewer Cub Coda all singing its praises.

These days, however, the lithe pop of 'She's a Dog' is overshadowed by the band's noisier magnum opus, Cyborgs Revisited, a pre-punk missing link that languished on a cassette in Breau's apartment until it was finally issued to jaw-dropping acclaim in 1989. Original copies of 'She's a Dog' come pretty cheap too, with minty ones still selling for under fifty bucks.
         


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