It really is difficult to recall just how, well, dire popular music had gotten in the dregs of those dreaded late ’70s.
For example, no sooner had Peter Frampton come alive than those once mighty Bee Gees kept stubbornly somehow stayin’ alive, thanks to a wicked strangle-grip atop global play and sales lists, which spanned the better part of an entire calendar year (I kid you not).
Now despite, or more likely because of the above-mentioned audio scourges, valid, vital new sounds already were festering worldwide up and out of (barely) the literal underground via various Ramones, Saints, Pere Ubus and Sex Pistols. Why, even my hitherto genteel homeburg of Toronto was at this very time busy producing more than its fair share of severely alt. rock combos: Anyone remember, for instance, Canada’s homegrown Ramone brothers Teenage Head? How about those North country proto-Go-Go’s, The B-Girls? Not to even mention them dapper darlings of the Ontario College of art-rock scene, The Diodes.
In fact, it was at just one such way-back art college anti-shindig that my Pig Paper photographer John Pinto struck up a most timely discussion on The Kinks with an intense young guitarist/songwriter (and then some) named Edgar Breau, who sooner than you or I for that matter could say “I’m not like everybody else” invited us over to Canada’s most musical of all towns (Hamilton, by the way) to hear his very own band belt out a cacophony or two.
That band, it transpired, turned out to be none other than Simply Saucer.
Already together several years, having unsuccessfully shopped a demo tape (recorded in Daniel Lanois‘ mother’s basement!) to puzzled Canadian record execs between being thrown off the stages of Southern Ontario’s high school prom circuit, Simply Saucer were circa ’77 looking to make one last, do-or-die stab at post-teen sonic immortality.
I, of course, responded, as I usually do. However, I could by immediately booking the band wherever and whenever semi-possible (opening for The Viletones one minute, invading the Jerry Lewis telethon the next) then shepherding them into a local 8-track “studio” to cut two quickies that, on June 8, 1978, became Pig Record #1. Seven inches of pure, semi-monophonic Troggs-rock titled “She’s a Dog” and “I Can Change My Mind,” for all you compiling indie discographies out there.
Alas however, within a year of said release, Simply Saucer unceremoniously crashed to the ground, splintered into a million broke-down pieces, and an apparently defeated Breau responded to it all by turning off, unplugging, and hanging up his electric guitar — for the next quarter of a century.
But all good tales — even Canadian ones — seem to have quite happy endings indeed. Thanks to unending interest in the band’s Lanois demos (officially released several years back at long last as Cyborgs Revisited), Breau has regrouped, reformed and relaunched the Saucer with a more-than-able assist from guitar/theremin/drum backline Steve Foster, Dan Winterman and Joe Csontos. Thirty years ago, the three were fans of the original band. Now they have joined Breau and veteran bassist Kevin Christoff to produce the long-sought sequel to those original Cyborgs.
Half recorded under the microphones and half in front of a specially invited studio audience, the aptly labeled Half Human/Half Live mixes vintage numbers with a slew of new/old songs that never ever did get properly recorded back in the day. What results is a 30-years-in-the-making collection that somehow sounds both familiar and fresh, traditional and pioneering, comforting and cantankerous. Just as Simply Saucer always has and, it looks like, always will.
For more information, go to www.simplysaucer.com.
Simply Saucer on tour (schedule subject to change):
* June 20: Bohemian National Home — Detroit
* June 21: Subterranean — Chicago
* June 22: Mellwood Arts Center — Louisville, Ky.
Musician/writer Gary Pig Gold is the co-founder of the To M’Lou Music label.