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 »


The Magnificent Seven: My 7th Blogiversary

7thAnniversarySgtPepp50It’s Getting Better … (Mock-up by VA/Click on image to enlarge)

After publishing only 4 new pieces on my blog over the last 2.5 years (3 of those pieces from a couple of years ago) and missing my 6th anniversary altogether, time and circumstances have now allowed me to return to my blog.  Happy 7th to me here on June 3, 2017. Read the rest of this entry »


025. So Here I Am: UB40, March 7, 1984 & March 14, 1985

UB40 Tickets 84 85UB40 play London, Ontario twice, a year apart almost to the week. (Ticket and program scans by VA.  Other images from internet and arranged by VA.)

025. So Here I Am: UB40, Centennial Hall, London, Ontario, March 7, 1984; Alumni Hall, UWO, London, Ontario, March 14, 1985

When you’re a tunehead lifer, farming your musical terrain with a polycultural approach to sonic agriculture, it’s a reality — indeed a necessity — that certain strains of artists/genres/stylistic obsessions inevitably drop out of and then later resurface in my listening crop rotations.  But, as I’ve previously noted, not all seasons’ harvests continue to yield again down through the years.  While some evergreen produce re-seed and return stronger than ever, others wither and dine on the vine. 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 »


I Believe In Father Christmas, or: Brown Shoes Don’t Make It (Xmas #6)

VariousArtists winter 1969 1970

Me during the winter of 1969-1970.

Here is another off-topic post for the Christmas season.  Two years ago over on Open Salon, they had an open call soliciting folks to share their tales about how they discovered that Santa Claus was indeed a sham.  I was too busy during that and the previous xmas season to tell my tale, and so, with my usual out-of-whack timing, here is my story for you now.

“If you think about it, Santa Claus is directly responsible for heroin addiction.  Innocent children are brainwashed into believing the first big lie their parents ever tell them, and when the truth finally hits, they never believe them again.” 

John Waters, “Why I Love Christmas” from Crackpot: The Obsessions of John Waters (1987).

It was 1969, and as one of December’s children, I was ending my adventure of life as a six-year-old and looking forward to seven and the seventies. Read the rest of this entry »


022a: Changes: Bowie, The 70s, & Me

Space Oddity Ziggy Stardust Album Covers Vinyl BLOGMy sister’s original copies of David Bowie’s Space Oddity and Ziggy Stardust.  I have many fond memories of listening to these albums with her.
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My return to the My Life — In Concert! series, this time looking back on seeing David Bowie for the first time, 30 years ago, fortuitously dovetails with last week’s delightful shock that is the release of Bowie’s first album of new material in a decade, The Next Day
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He first came into my orbit 40 years ago in his Ziggy Stardust days, at the dawn of 1973.  His ongoing body of work has been a constant presence in my life ever since, in particular, the ground-breaking succession of albums that he released between 1969 and 1980.
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Before turning my focus to the show at Toronto’s CNE Stadium, I’ll first write about what Bowie and glam rock meant to me, and my impressions on how his emergence had a broader impact on the 1970s.

Lightning struck twice for me shortly after I turned 10.  1972 was bleeding into 1973, and I was thrilled to now be part of the double-digit-age clique, with that majestic 1 planted firmly in front of the stalwart 0 in all its binary glory.  The yellow brick road to Teenageville, and then onto Adultia, stretched out before me like gleaming candy.  I was excited to be starting my journey, one with a down-the-line jackpot of any manner of enticing Pandora’s Boxes filled with mature delights — mature as envisioned by my still-naive-yet-overactive Grade Five imagination, anyway. Read the rest of this entry »


Dear Record Store, I QUIT!: The Most Joyful, Protracted Job Exit of My Life

I Quit Album Spines with Black Bottom MASTER

(NOTE: I will also be publishing some off-series entries on this blog.  File Under: Music Etc.  Photo by VariousArtists)

Ever worked in an abusive hellhole of human toxicity?  Sadly, I’ve had a few of those, including this mid-80s record store stint.  My departure afforded me the opportunity to give some of the love back at them, with my exit strategy planned to inflict maximum pain upon my evil overlords.  However, when the time came, my nightmare of a regional manager had a surprise of her own for me.

It was August 1987 in London, Ontario, and for the previous year I had been managing a store that was part of the XYZ Records chain (as I will call them), following a prior year as an assistant manager at another outlet.

XYZ had been an established, successful music retail chain in Canada since the 1950s.  A few months before I began working for them in July ‘85, XYZ had been sold to a guy who was the middle-aged son of millionaires.  He was also, by all counts, utterly whackadoodles. Read the rest of this entry »