Monday, August 20, 2012


If it weren't for the winters we would have packed up and left for Montreal, Canada a long time ago.
I am going there very soon and will find lots of exciting things to post up here eventually some of which are already on hold for me.
Montreal is better than New York, Philadelphia, any city I can name in the States. It is not that I do not like America, but the amount of insanely stupid people and arrogance in this country makes me sick. That isn't to say that Canada also doesn't have crazy and nasty aloof people there as they do, but much less.
It's an exciting country to visit, very relaxed for the most part, but with a lot of life and vitality about it too. Montreal is hands down my favourite city bar none, but the band in question here, Rain, are from Kitchener Ontario- quite a long ways from Montreal and all of Quebec.
   Rain are a band often tagged by American and European dealers as "Psych" or "Heavy Psych" even. Well, this is not true. While there is a lot of fuzz guitar it's the early 70s distortion sound and not the late 60s buzzsaw fuzziness. Rain are far from just an ordinary rock band, however, and their songs are strong compositions which effortlessly go between melodic pop and power pop. It's definitely a very commercial sounding record, but in a good way.
  Formed in the early 70s and releasing THE RAIN ALBUM as it is known in 1972 they only managed one record- released on the the small Axe label which also had heavy band Thundermug.
Rain comprised 5 from Kitchener- Lead vocalist/pianist Phyllis Brown (born Boltz), vocalist/bass player/pianist Ron Hiller, organist Charley Hall,  drummer Chris Woroch and impressive guitarist Bill McLaughlin. Rain managed one power pop classic with a scant few progressive flourishes and some more obvious Motown influences which are not surprising as Phyllis Brown when she embarked on a solo career as Charity Brown would show that a white girl could sing as sweet as Diana Ross and as forceful as Aretha The Queen herself. The album begins with "Out Of My Mind" which does bear a strong resemblance to the pop psych British band Forever Amber this time around sans the psych edge and with female vocals. The infectious melodies, great powerful vocals from Brown, and driving twin pianos make for the first of many times you'll wonder how this band missed out on the big time. It's probably the dreaded "Canadian Content" laws or the simple fact that America has never taken Canada seriously. In fact, there is a lot of stupid animosity from the American right wing directed at Canada and you wanna know the main "reason" why? Because Canadians are polite and they think before they act. See my earlier point about scramming from here?
    It just may happen that one of these days our whole family takes a long vacation Up North, but back to the music. "Let The Love Begin" is one of those very 70s Canadian power pop songs. Again Phyllis excels with a brilliant powerhouse vocal and the harmonies are first class. The playing is just as energetic as on the first track, but there isn't much you can call psychedelic unless you want to label Eric Carmen that. I think you see my point. Eric Carmen himself or Emmit Rhodes himself would be knocked cold by the quality of this album and that is a big statement for me to make. There's a bit of difference Canadian power pop and American power pop, but so subtle a difference that unless you're really well schooled you won't pick up on it until you've listened quite a few times knowing there's something a bit more, well Canadian here.
   The first of only 3 deviations from the power pop/melodic pop comes in the band's heavily progressive organ dominated cover of Carole King's beautiful "Child Of Mine" which must surely rank as one of King's greatest achievements on her first solo album. Charley Hall's huge organ sound coupled with Brown's strong, dramatic even vocals make for a really powerful version which is almost all just a big vocal and organ. Very progressive and very inventive. If Gandalf had lasted into the 70s era they just may have done something like this. That is if they hadn't blown everything with the posthumously released horrible single as Barracuda which was just Peter Sando solo and all the other assorted rubbish cobbled together for the exceedingly poor GANDALF 2 travesty. Yeah, it's a shame that the #1 go to best American psych record Gandalf was something that was just a one off masterpiece.
     There's 60s influences in Rain as I can't deny I've brought up here Gandalf and Forever Amber, but I just can't quite say it's psychedelic. To me psychedelic means a bit trippy at least and this isn't very trippy sounding. Maybe "Child Of Mine" stands alone on the album as a somewhat psychedelic, but ultimately more progressive effort. "Got To Get Away" composed by Brown and Hall is a thundering hard heavy rock number with wailing vocals, shredding loud guitars, powerful rhythms, and anti-pollution lyrical sentiments that are kept from overshadowing the song. This one is a hard rock heavy prog masterpiece with one of the heaviest guitar solos you'll ever encounter.
   Phyllis Brown's "Reason For Living" closes side one with the mellowest track so far. A very sweet Carole King alike ballad with beautiful soft vocals and sweet musical backing. Side Two however leaps right back into the power pop with "Caught Right In The Middle Of It." Obviously Rain wanted to be seen as a rock band and not just that Phyllis wanted to be seen as a rocker. She never once resorts to Grace Slick nastiness or Janis Joplin screaming, which is more than I can say for most American female led bands. Phyllis Brown really steals this album. The band are superb throughout, but her amazing voice solidifies their sound and defines who Rain are. Look at American power pop and even most Canadian or British power pop- there aren't too many bands that have a female lead singer. "Caught Right In The Middle Of It" also derives a lot of its prowess from the stunning instrumental work of Rain's rhythm section. "Here With You" is a soft contrasting ballad that is very commercial. It's the most commercial track on the album and not the best, but by no means a not good song. "I'll Write You A Letter" is the one song Ron Hiller sings lead on and is again Rain at their peak of power pop brilliance. There are few albums to rival this one. I would strongly say that 25th Regiment's ECOLOGY and Claire Lepage and Compagnie together with this record are much more psyched out variations on a pop/power pop/progressive theme and together the 3 (Rain, 25th Regiment, Claire Lepage And Compagnie) are three of the best albums in the world- and all 3 are Canadian.
    "Sad Colours Blues" is the one big mistake here. An awful lyric written from a good heart about racism that destroys a relationship because the black guy and white woman can't be together because of discrimination uses painfully ridiculous analogies and for the only time on the album Phyllis sounds like she is just going through the motions and nothing else. Thankfully, the album ends on a really strong note with the absolute brilliance of "I Don't Want To Leave You." Phyllis Brown is back to the top of her game and sounds like Diana Ross at her best meets Carole King at her best! There are definite soul and jazz vibes to Rain's music as with 25th Regiment, but unlike ECOLOGY this album doesn't deviate into anything really trippy, psychedelic, or very progressive and stays mainly a harder rocking power pop record. "I Don't Want To Leave You" is one of my favourites here and the whole band are just amazingly talented and together. It's a shame that this album has gone onto become quite rare and with an escalating price tag, but the strange thing is that in America in the same year one of the few really masterful American albums was released in a similar looking cover by a band bearing the same exact name of Rain! The two are very different, of course, but it's funny. Rain the Canadian band started to gain attention when copies started going over to Europe. Then American dealers have tried to jack the price up really high, but realistically this one should be under $100. I got mine for $30, but that was from a store in Canada. You need this album for your collection. It will strongly impress and very much move you if you are into power pop, melodic pop, or just great rock and roll. A nearly perfect album that has been a long time favourite. Keep on plugging on Rain and Canada! Pour some sweet cleansing power down on us here in beleaguered benided America.

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