Believe it or not, I'm just as much a Johnny come lately as anyone. Maybe even more so. Were it not for a retrospective on Canadian music of the 1980s on Alan Cross' Ongoing History of New Music program four or so years ago on CFNY, this post would have been dedicated to an entirely unrelated band, one quite likely inferior to The Northern Pikes.
The 'Pikes, who kicked things off in the chilly hinterlands of Saskatchewan in the early '80s, released a pair of now impossible to find self-financed albums, The Northern Pikes in 1984, and Scene in North America a year later. By 1987, they had signed to Virgin who unfurled the quartet's major label debut, Big Blue Sky. It was this particular album that housed what would be my first encounter with the 'Pikes, the instantly enticing "Teenland." With it's wash of crisply ringing guitars and disarming themes of adolescent insecurity and escapism, it made for an irresistible introduction. As a whole, Big Blue Sky follows a similar sonic template, one that for better or worse would gradually be abandoned on future NP records. Though there are several accompanying tracks that scale near-"Teenland," heights, namely "You Sold the Farm," "Love and a Muscle" (you can explore an opposing viewpoint on this song here), and "Jackie T," many compositions are a tad underwritten, but for me that's part of BBS's collective charm (although I don't know what in the hell they were thinking on "Dancing In a Dance Club"). The strength of this album hinges more on Bryan Potvin's resplendent, chiming chords than Jay Semko's pipes, but despite the occasional songwriting deficiencies it all works out. From what I can tell, BBS was never embraced by the Audities/Not Lame community, but it's unmistakably a power-pop endeavor, which furthermore has stood the test of time.
If anyone can help me locate, or at least produce MP3s of the Pike's aforementioned scarce, early recordings, I beg of you, don't be a stranger!
02. You Sold the Farm
03. Things I Do For Money
04. Just Another Guy
05. Dancing In A Dance Club
06. Jackie T
07. Lonely House
08. Love and a Muscle
09. Never Again
10. Love Will Break You
11. Heartaches Heartbreaks (Open Up)
12. Big Blue Sky
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Pratice Makes Perfect - *Wire - The Peel Sessions* Ripped from a 12" vinyl EP released on Strange Fruit Records (SFPS 041) in 1987 to high resolution 24-bit flac audio. Originall...
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