Better Late Than Never: The Return of Platinum Blonde!

The year was 1983.

A kid lies "asleep" in his bed, transistor radio plastered to his ear, trying to keep the faint radio station from seemingly a million miles away tuned in long enough to hear the strange alien sounds of bands that no radio stations in his neck of the woods can be bothered to play. For the past few weeks, the DJ has been playing a great new song called "Not In Love" and it is those few minutes of musical bliss that make the struggle to listen past the static all worthwhile.

On this week's show, though, the DJ plays a song called "Doesn't Really Matter". The kid sits upright in bed, transfixed by the song's propulsive chorus and pulled into a whole new musical rabbit hole. The next day, he's killing time in a hardware store when what should he see staring back at him from the store's minuscule music section but an album with the words "Platinum Blonde" on the cover.

No, it can't be, he thinks to himself. He flips the album over and sees "Not In Love" and "It Doesn't Really Matter" listed on the back cover. Half a minute later, he leaves the store with album in-hand and heads home to give it a listen. For the next two months, the other records in his collection sit neglected as he spins Platinum Blonde's "Standing In The Dark" album over and over until his father finally pokes his head in the room to ask the name of the album that has been reverberating through the house the past several weeks.

"Do you want me to turn it down," asks the kid? "No," responds his father, "turn it up!"

For Platinum Blonde, success in their native Canada came quickly and, for a time, rivaled that of mega-bands Duran Duran and The Police. Still, for the entire time I've been aware of their existence, they've remained the most well-kept of secrets despite my own ability to keep this particular one to myself. Back in the day, I would play their music at parties or during my semester-long stint as a college radio DJ and each time I did, I'd be beseiged by friends and strangers asking me "Who is that?".

Fast-forward to the year 2012.

The kid is no longer a kid and, for a large part of the past three decades, Platinum Blonde has been little more than a memory of those carefree, halcyon days of youth. Every so often, a rumor of a reunion manages to rear its head, but it wasn't until 2010 that such talk led to a number of live gigs around Canada. Quite unexpectedly, a new band called Crystal Castles scored a big hit with their cover of "Not In Love" (with none other than Robert Smith from The Cure) and exposed Platinum Blonde to a new generation of fans.

Building on that momentum, the band (featuring original members Mark Holmes and Sergio Galli) has now returned with their first album of new material in over 20 years, Now & Never. Unlike most reunions that fail to live up to the promise of past glories, the new album by Platinum Blonde actually manages to pick up where the band left off in their heyday. In fact, Now & Never sounds like the proper follow-up to "Standing In The Dark", paving the way for the futuristic concept album that was "Alien Shores".

Of course, the production is just modern enough to sound fresh and revelent while, at the same time, not trying too hard to be trendy. If radio was still a factor here in the U.S., it's easy to imagine the first single, "Beautiful", getting boatloads of airplay, its elegiac strings and hypnotic chorus working their way into our collective consciousness.

Yet despite the immediacy of the internet and its ability to deliver music from around the world to our desktop in the click of a mouse (how strange that sentence would have sounded in 1983), Platinum Blonde remain a well-kept secret in America.

Until now, that is.

Canada's CBC is streaming the band's new album, Now & Never, in its entirety.


Take a listen and, if so inclined, drop a few bucks in the tip jar (i.e., BUY the album) and then tell your friends about this great "new" band you just discovered. Who knows, if enough of us flip for the new record, maybe the band will venture "down south" for a gig or two.

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