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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5×5: My “Best Of” Musical Round-Up for 2010

5x5 Best of 2010 variousartists

NOTE TO READERS: Owing to the March 2015 closure of OpenSalon.com — which was my primary publishing platform, where I initiated this blog and concert series project, and was where most of my pieces were accessed — I need to plug up a few blog-holes (i.e., post-up here a clutch of early Open Salon blog entries that I never transferred to this cyberabode).  This post is one of those orphaned Ghosts of Blogging Past that needs a re-debut.

In advance of my Best of 2015 recap (appearing shortly), here is my first year-end music entry from February 2011: 5×5: My “Best Of” Musical Round-Up for 2010.   While I am republishing the list as I saw it at that time, I’ve reconsidered some of my choices in the interim.  Here’s how I would rank 2010 now from a 2016 perspective: 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 »


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 »


021. Dangerous Acquaintances: Marianne Faithfull, August 15, 1983

 mariannefaithfull83

Marianne comes to town on a steamy August Monday evening.  It was a  night of  thigh-slappin’ rhythms, contented smiles … and dangerous acquaintances.

021. Dangerous Acquaintances: Marianne Faithfull, Fryfogle’s, London, Ontario, August 15, 1983, $12.50

Marianne Faithfull has occupied mental real estate in my consciousness since I was but a wee lad. As someone who grew up in a household where the music of the Rolling Stones was ever-present via my older sibs (“Dandelion” was one of the first singles I ever owned; Out of Our Heads, my first album, was gifted to my four-year-old self from a visiting aunt and uncle from the UK), I was always following the Stones-related headlines and hijinks. Mick and Marianne’s exploits throughout their time as a couple in the late 1960s always got a profusion of ink. Read the rest of this entry »


020b. Waiting In Vain: 20 Performances I Missed, 1980-2011

nxtc handbill london 1980XTC at Centennial Hall, London, Ontario, Monday November 24, 1980. Too bad the show never happened (Thanks to MZ for the scan of her handbill).

You’ve got the warm ticket in your hot little hands, anticipation is building, and you just know it’s going to be a great experience and a fun night out.

But it doesn’t always work that way.  Shows get cancelled or artists are pulled from advertised lineups owing to illness or personal emergencies.  Or ticket demand is too high — or too low.  Or shows go ahead but it is you that is ill or can’t afford to get yourself there (as you’ll see, that’s a popular one for me during my university years). Or the weather turns crap. Or rides vanish. Or someone joins a cult. And on it goes. Read the rest of this entry »