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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Payolas - Hammer on a Drum

Name: Payolas
Album: Hammer on a Drum
Year: 1983
Style: New Wave
Similar Bands: INXS, The Alarm, Madness, Big Country, Lightning Seeds, Duran Duran
One Word Review: Cruise-ship Arena Punk
Based Out Of: Vancouver, Canada
Label: IRS, A&M Records
 Hammer on a Drum - Cover, Liner Notes, Record
Hammer on a Drum - Back, Lyrics, Record
Hammer on a Drum
  1. I'll Find Another (Who Can Do It Right) 3:37
  2. Where Is This Love 5:54
  3. Wild West 3:11
  4. Perhaps Some Day 3:30
  5. Never Said I Loved You 3:18 / 
  6. No Prisoners 5:16
  7. Christmas is Coming 3:40
  8. I Am a City 5:09
  9. Hungry 4:10
  10. People Who Have Great Lives 2:26
Album Rating (1-10): 7.0

Members & Other Bands:
Paul Hyde - Writer, Vox (Northern Lights)
Bob Rock - Writer, Engineer, Mixing, Guitar (Rockhead, Northern Lights)
Mick Ronson - Producer, Backing Vox, Keys (Arnold Corns, David Bowie, Mott the Hoople, Ronno, Spiders from Mars, Hunter Ronson Band, The Rats, Rolling Thunder Review, Tony Visconti Trio, The Treacle, The Voice)
Mike Fraser - Engineer
Bob Ludwig - Mastering
Christopher Livingston - Keys
Chris Taylor - Drums (Rockhead, B-Sides)
Barry Muir - Bass (Barney Bentall & the Legendary Hearts, Blue Shadows)
Bruce Fairbairn - Bugle (Fast Forward, Margarita Horns)
David Andoff - Art Direction, Design
Matthew Wiley - Paul's Face (front cover)
Dennis Keeley - Back Cover Photos, Handcoloring
Carol LeFlufy - Lower Right Photo
Carole Pope - Vox (O, Bullwhip Brothers, Rough Trade)

Unknown-ness: I've never heard of this group. Based on the collage of images on the front, and the $ for the s in their name, not to mention the year and label, I imagine this will be some creative mainstream new wave, with juvenile humor, but nothing too weird. Maybe like Bram Tchaikovsky.

Album Review: The Payolas were a Canadian rock band that began in 1978. They were failly popular, with some top 10 charting songs in Canada (including one here), but they never broke in America, partly because radio was afraid to play a band that suggested payola in their name. The main force behind the band, Bob Rock went on to produce many popular acts, and guitarist from David Bowie’s backing band, Spiders from Mars, Mick Ronson, produced and performed on this record.

“I'll Find Another (Who Can Do It Right)” was a single. It begins with a stompy, jangley guitar section, with a shouty chorus of vocals. The lead vocals have a nasally Michael Hutchence (INXS) quality to them. It is a bold, hooligan sort of song with typical radio friendly 80’s guitar focused new wave / Arena rock production.
“Where Is This Love” was a single, and lyrically contains the album’s title. It is watery, and soaring with a light, floating crystal purity. It sounds a little like the slower lightning seeds songs. The vocals are spoken with a melodic accent. The chorus yells the song title into a void, not expecting an answer.
“Wild West” was the final single. It really feels like the Alarm. Jangley guitar, echoing electric guitar, chorus-accompanied singing of “Shoot,” all create a wind-swept anthemic soundscape.
“Perhaps Some Day” has a bit of a reggae feel, and is sung like a Madness pub drinking chant. Even down to the supporting backing vocals, this could be seen as Madness appropriation.
“Never Said I Loved You” was a single, reaching #8 in Canada’s RPM 100 chart. The song’s style is of a synthetic Caribbean resort jam, also like later period Madness. It is a duet with Carol Pope, and the back and forth, taking over the main stage is a nice presentation for a bitter, smart ass song such as this, which needs both perspectives in a relationship debate. The form breaks down a little at the end, with the basic repetitive melody taking over, with muted spoken word vocals added to create a realistic effect. This would be a great variant theme song for the show You’re The Worst.

“No Prisoners” faded up very slowly, like a sunrise, with echoing percussion, and a gentle synth hum. It is a political commentary, asking for no prisoners of any ethnicity or nationality. The different groups are read off in the background like a news ticker. The song doesn’t have the punch of a U2 political song, but it fits in the same category.
“Christmas is Coming” was a single. The lead guitar makes the song feel like an 80’s sitcom theme song. There is very little element that makes the song feel like a Christmas song, which is kinda refreshing to not hear bells or familiar melodies. The vocal melody feels like a later period A’s power pop song.
“I Am a City” rings out like a siren with one solo guitar chord strummed, and a doppler shift effect on a watery bass. It takes us back to the Alarm or Duran Duran style arena rock.
“Hungry” continues the watery bass feeling, with a staggered, free flowing sentimental track, sounding a little like Robyn Hitchcock until the bold anthemic chorus. It tackles and explores another statement, like “No Prisoners” in hunger issues.
“People Who Have Great Lives” marches out like an anthemic power pop song with a very bold trumpet. The vocals are comprised by a deep chorus, and are very official and military-like. And to break it up, the music stops except wood block taps and a fast chant by the lead singer follows the same cadence, but adds diversity.

Stand Out Track: Never Said I Love You

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