Toronto is a meager 520 miles from the Windy City, yet it may as well be in a different country (!) for the complete lack of exposure a lot of what goes on there receives here in the States. Heck, I'll wager that most reading this from outside of Canada were unaware of the existence of Toronto radio station The Boom 97.3, much less their addictive running feature "Behind The Vinyl", where rock stars share anecdotes and recollections of how their biggest hits came to be while listening to the song on vinyl.
Granted, their list of artists taking part does have a rather Canadian flavor to it (which is great if you're one of those weird Americans who owns more than one record by bands like The Pursuit Of Happiness, Spoons, Northern Pikes, and 54-40, to name but a few), but they've also featured quite a few American and British acts as well.
We've collected our ten favorite episodes for your consideration and hope it leads you to check out more episodes. Enjoy
1. Gary Numan "Cars"
Despite being known as a synth pioneer, Numan admits here to writing the song on a different instrument and that the lyrics were inspired by a bit of dodgy driving. But how did he come up with that iconic synth riff, you ask? Watch and find out!
2. Dennis DeYoung (of Styx) "Mr. Roboto"
How DeYoung, thanks to a 1980 PBS documentary, foresaw the dangers of automation upon humanity's existence and that this, coupled with the band's run-in with the Moral Majority over a song on their Paradise Theatre album came to inspire the band's most culturally resonant smash hit.
3. The Kings "This Beat Goes On/Switchin' To Glide"
David Diamond and Mr. Zero walk us through the unlikely process of writing "This Beat Goes On", then coming up with "Switchin' To Glide", then deciding to musically join both songs together as one continuous musical experience, without anyone - a producer or record label A&R guy - talking them out of it. Amazing!
4. Moe Berg (of The Pursuit Of Happiness) "I'm An Adult Now"
Imagine if we Americans were only aware of the first Beatles album. Sadly, that's exactly what happened with The Pursuit of Happiness, whose Todd Rundgren-produced debut album Love Junk is the only album that received a decent US release and promotion. What makes Berg's episode cool is that he plays the indie version (which used Simmons drums to stunningly great results) rather than the Rundgren version.
5. Mike Score (of A Flock of Seagulls) "I Ran (So Far Away)"
The band's singer explains how a photo on a record company's wall not only helped them to find their own direction, but worldwide fame as well even though what they were doing could not have been more unfashionable at the time in their native UK.
6. Martin Kemp & Tony Hadley (of Spandau Ballet) "True"
Not having heard "True" on vinyl for 27 years, Kemp and Hadley wax nostalgic on the song that put them on the map and changed their lives forever, but which of the two didn't think it was a single?
7. Fred Schneider (of B-52's) "Rock Lobster"
Schneider discusses writing the song during a multi-hour jam, but that their inability to edit themselves led to the final 6:48 version we all know today and how their first album inspired John Lennon to come out of retirement.
8. Sheriff "When I'm With You"
Daniel Lanois signing up to engineer their album and then leaving to work with U2 is just one of many unbelievable stories about one of the most unbelievable hits of the late '80s.
9. Howard Jones "No One Is To Blame"
Jones discusses how he went head-to-head with the head of Elektra Records to convince them that the song that would ultimately go on to be his biggest hit was more than a B-side.
10. DMC (from Run-DMC) "Walk This Way"
How the pioneering rap group went into the studio merely to sample the beat from Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" in order to freestyle over the top, but producer Rick Rubin talked them into remaking the entire song, which they had never heard and that, upon doing so, called it "hillbilly gibberish".
The rest of the story is not to be missed.