Calling All Tunehead Sleuths: Can You Identify These 16 Mystery Album Covers from the Woolco Record Department at Argyle Mall, London, Ontario, Canada, June 1966?

WoolcoRecordDeptArgyleMallLondonJune1966The Woolco Record Department at Argyle Mall, East London, Ontario, Canada, June 1966, from the London Free Press’ Pictures From the Past series. (Click on Photo to Enlarge)

What a trip it was to see this photo of one of my old childhood record-hunting locales 40 years after it was snapped!

As a fan of history—especially cultural history from global to local—I always look forward to one of my favourite features in the London Free Press: Pictures From the Past, a weekly installment reprinting photos from the paper’s archives spanning decades.

PFTP ran a photo last June of particular interest to me of the Woolco Record Department at Argyle Mall in 1966. Having grown up in Huron Heights in the ‘60 and ‘70s, Argyle Mall was just a few minutes drive up Clarke Road. Regular trips there with both my parents and other family members means that everything about the place is burned into my memory from youth. Read the rest of this entry »

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15 Favourite LPs

VariousArtists Top 15 LPs 16 Covers16 covers?  You’ll have to read to find out why.

Originally published on OS on September 3, 2010 as part of an open call to writers on the site.

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This post was part of an Open Call here on OS for people to list and discuss 15 albums they have their greatest emotional attachments to.  Since I create associations between albums/songs with, well, just about everything, trying to pick 15 LPs that are memorable owing to specific parts of my life or events would be an insurmountable task.  Therefore, I zoomed through my collection, made a (long) short list and picked my 15 favouritesor what passes as such at this momentbut will briefly discuss each more in terms of memories, time and place, etc than as a critique. (The full long list appears at the bottom.)

My Favourite Album

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VA’s Best of 2014: Fave Music, Media and Re/Discoveries From The Century’s Inaugural Teen Year

variousartists best of 2014 graphicVA Best of 2014 A&M

(Top Photo montage/doctoring by VA — original photos taken at the downtown Bank St. location of Compact Music here in Ottawa and at Chez Various: Click on photo to see full size image.  Below: This and all other labels on the page doctored by VA from my personal vinyl bounty).

After a relatively-weak-year-for-albums 2013, 2014 should have been the antidote for me: seemingly almost every currently working artist that I listen to released a new album while many of my favourite legacy acts put out compilations, archive sets or deluxe reissues.

And in many ways, 2014 was an antidote. Read the rest of this entry »


185. In The Flesh: Blondie, July 10, 2014 (& their mid-70s birth)

Ottawa Bluesfest 2014 Blondie wristband variousartists

Blondie’s 40th and Ottawa Bluesfest’s 20th

185. In The Flesh: Blondie, Ottawa Bluesfest, LeBreton Flats, Ontario, Thursday July 10, 2014.  Approx. $50

I first encountered Blondie in the pages of NYC-based Rock Scene magazine in the summer of 1975.  It was a single page feature, appearing less than a year after the group’s formation and first shows at CBGBs.  Blondie had begun by opening for the also-nascent Ramones who had similarly been popping up in recent Rock Scene issues.  Indeed, most of the mid-70s NYC underground first came to my attention via RS.

Retrospectively, I now see what an odd, prescient publication it was on a few fronts.

Read the rest of this entry »


June 1, 1974: Eno, Cale, Nico, Ayers — 40th Anniversary

BLOG June 1 1974 Cover

While I’m a fan of both recorded music and live performances, I’m not frequently overly enamored with the results of their intersection: the live album.   More often than not, they are merely contract fillers, between-project marketplace bookmarks or low cost quickie $$$ generators.  They are rarely creative high points in an artist’s output.

Just because a particular artist can consistently wow ‘em live doesn’t necessarily mean that the live document will have the same effect.  Concerts are not just heard, but experienced, in person and in real time, and that in-the-moment vibe rarely translates fully to the recorded medium. Read the rest of this entry »


RIP Lou Reed: “Between Thought & Expression Lies A Lifetime”

BLOGP LouNY89

One of the greats; not to be forgotten. (Photo by VA: A lifesize Lou that used to live on my wall at the top of a stairwell).

“What would I see if I could walk away from me” from “Candy Says”“Between thought and expression lies a lifetime” from “Some Kinda Love”… my two favourite lyrics by Lou Reed … or anyone else for that matter.

I’m not a natural off-the-cuff writer but decided that I had to put something up to mark the passing of Lou Reed.  I couldn’t let it pass without my saying something.  Something like, I’m absolutely gutted.

The Velvet Underground and The Beatles are my two favourite groups, so the impact of Reed’s work upon my world has been huge. Read the rest of this entry »


175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, December 7, 2012

leonard-cohen-ottawa-2012-ticket

Yes, it was pricey.  Yes, it was worth it.

175. I’m Your Man: Leonard Cohen, Friday December 7, 2012, Scotiabank Place, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, $171.04 

“I love to speak with Leonard,
He’s a sportsman and a shepherd,
He’s a lazy bastard living in a suit”
from “Going Home” (2012)

I’ll cut right to the chase: this was one of the very best concerts I have ever seen in close to 40 years of gig-going.  In my all-time Top 20.  Earlier last year,  I lamented not having been able to see Cohen last time around in my 20 Performances I Missed posting, thinking he would not tour again when I wrote it only to find myself holding December tickets by the time I published the piece.

I had good reason to believe he would never tour again. Read the rest of this entry »