It really is difficult to recall just how, well, dire popular music had gotten in the dregs of those dreaded late Seventies. For example, no sooner had 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 were already festering worldwide up and out of (barely) the literal underground via various Saints, Pere Ubu’s and 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, f’rinstance, Canada’s homegrown Ramone brothers, Teenage Head? Howzabout 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 (recorded in Daniel Lanois’ mother’s basement!) demotape 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 Trogg-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 actually being crowned Single Of The Week on the pages of London’s prestigious “Record Mirror,” Simply Saucer unceremoniously crashed to the ground, splintered into a million broke down pieces, and an apparently defeated Edgar 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 Canadian tales seem to have quite happy endings indeed. Thanks to the unending success (and eventual legitimate release even, under the “Cyborgs Revisited” banner) of the band’s Lanois demos plus bonus tracks aplenty, Edgar with original bassist and resident Beatle buff extraordinaire Kevin Christoff, piloting a crack new guitar/theremin/drum backline of veteran Saucer watchers Steve Foster, Dan Winterman, and Joe Csontos, regrouped, reformulated, and thoroughly revamped the entire operation, both in the studio and, for the first time in three decades, on the concert stage. So while those classic “Cyborgs” – voted 36th in Bob Mersereau’s “Top 100 Canadian Albums” book (right there between Leonard Cohen and k.d. lang) – continued to amaze and astound repeated generations of fearless ears, at long last a second album took its rightful place right alongside:
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, including that original Pig B-side, with a slew of new/old Saucersongs that never ever did get properly recorded back in the daze. What results is a thirty-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.