In our last bat-episode we left our hero checking out and streaming movies using Hoopla. Today he will discover that Hoopla also offers a wide variety of streaming music, including a fair amount of bands from the Pacific Northwest. Holy Young Fresh Fellows, libraryman! So, ladies and gentlepeople, for your consideration I present The K-Tels, a Vancouver BC band that ruled the mean streets of the great white north from 1978 to 1980.
Also known as the Young Canadians (after being sued by K-Tel), the K-Tels played a raw brand of power pop with the emphasis on “power”. This musical energy, combined with wild live shows, led to them being labelled “punk”.
Let me digress for a moment into the realm of genres. Punk has meant many different things, but in the late seventies punk was essentially three-chord rock songs. In the case of groups like the Buzzcocks or the Clash, punk could actually be quite catchy. In later days it became more aggressive and less melodic, until eventually there arose pop punk, which is not all that similar to 70s punk but is still catchy. All of which is to say that we would probably not call The K-Tels punk today, but in 1978 it was an appropriate label.
So what did this daring trio of lads sound like? In an initial attempt to describe their sound I would say, CHECK THEM OUT USING HOOPLA! Were I to feel more cooperative I might offer comparisons to the Paul Collins Beat or the Plimsouls. Guitar often jangles, drums explode with maniacal precision and vocals warble around pleasant melodies. Add a touch of rawness. Stir to perfection.
The group only recorded a handful of songs during their relatively short tenure, and most of those songs are available through Hoopla. The 4-song ep Hawaii conjures visions of seventies punk with a dash of Devo (mostly in the vocals) and a soupcon of The Jam (mod British band, not fruit preserves). Some of you might even recognize the song Hawaii as the unofficial Canadian punk anthem.
While it’s highly likely that you’ve never heard of this group under either name, they were the real deal in Vancouver in 1978. Our neighbor to the north was a hotbed for exciting new music in the late 70s with bands such as D.O.A., Pointed Sticks and the Dishrags pointing the way for future groups. As these progenitors faded, the K-Tels picked up the mantle and seemed destined to be the next big thing. Which never quite happened. But the band’s guitarist Art Bergmann did go on to become an important fixture in Canadian rock. And, perhaps most importantly, the band left behind some good songs for our ears to enjoy.
So head on over to Hoopla and search for K-Tels. You should find their Hawaii ep, This Is Your Life ep and Automan single. Eleven songs that will blast you into the heyday of early punk. Stay tuned for more streaming music from the Pacific Northwest and remember, 54-40 or rock!