Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Citizen Freak ...The Story of 49th Parallel & Show # 336

49th Parallel was a Garage/Psych outfit from Calgary, Alberta. The band was initially known as Shades of Blond upon their formation in 1966 and released one single entitled “All Your Love”. Due to line up changes something that would plague the band until the end of their short career, the band changed their name to 49th Parallel. The name could have come from a variety of places. One being the obvious 49th Parallel in the geographical sense, which is a circle of latitude that 49 degrees North and South of the Earth’s equatorial plane. It also forms part of the Canadian US border. The other possible source in which the band could have gotten its name is from the 1941 British film of the same name. Over the course of a year, the band developed into a steady line up featuring Dennis Abbot (vocals), Bob Carlson and Dan Lowe (guitars), Mick Woodhouse (bass), Terry Bare (drums), and Dave Petch on organ. The band released three singles through Gaiety Records, which was an Ontario subsidiary of RCA Records. The bands first single was released in 1967, it was the song “Labourer” backed with “You Do Things”. The single displayed a sneerful hard edged fuzz guitar filled Garage Punk ethic, which would do well on a small scale. “She Says” was released next and it offered a more Pop based offering, the single was backed with the Psychedelic Punk track known as “Citizen Freak”. The bands third single was “Blue Bonnie Blue” in 1968 which displayed Folk-like elements lyrically, while musically it still harnessed the Garage sound that the band was known for. In the late spring of 1968, Dave Petch and Mick Woodhouse exited the group. Dave Downey was added as the group’s new bassist, while an Organist/keyboardist Jack Velker was eventually brought in to replace Petch.

During 1968 and 1969, The 49th Parallel embarked on a North American tour, with an ever changing band line up. During their tour the band would stop in and make recordings on the go. In 1969, the group had a successful single with the song “Twilight Woman” backed with the swirling Garage/Psych Punk "Close the Barn Door", the Pop, Folk and Psychedelic number stayed for seven weeks on the CHUM charts reaching a peak position of number 17, the single also had some moderate chart success in the US. This single was released for Venture Records, it was followed by the band’s second single for Venture Records in September 1969, “Now That I’m A Man”. The song with its Psychedelic Pop sensibilities went on to peak at number 22 on the CHUM charts, it remained on the charts for three weeks.

A full length album was compiled featuring the bands recorded single output and a variety of studio outtakes. This was done due mostly to the fact that the band’s line up was in constant flux and recording proved to be rather difficult. The result was the 1969 album 49th Parallel. This collection, released through Gaiety Records captured the bands early cutting Garage Punk sound with their Psychedelic and Pop influences into a single package. Immediately following the release of this amongst the battle of the ever changing band line up, singer Dennis Abbot left the group. Replaced by Doran Beattie, it was no surprise that the band’s sound changed with the addition of a new singer. With Beattie at the group’s helm, the band which then consisted of Lowe, Velker, Downey, and Bare began working on a full length album that was never completed, however a single was released from the sessions. 49th Parallel released its last single “I Need You” backed with “Goodtime Baby” in 1970, it failed to chart. This was essentially the end for the band. Later on in 1970 the band changed their name to Painter, releasing one album with two moderately successful singles “West Coast Woman” and “Crazy Feeling”. The band would then morph into the 70s Hard Rock band Hammersmith. With yet another name change and sound change the band released two singles “Feelin’ Better” and “Late Night Lovin’ Man” and two full length albums on Mercury before they broke up.

In the mid 90s, 49th Parallel started to receive a lot of airplay on classic Rock radio stations in the prairies which resulted in a best of collection to be released in 1995 on Pacemaker Records. This collection contained 19 tracks featuring the bands early singles plus further material of interest, in 1999 the song “Citizen Freak” was featured on the best of Gaiety Records compilation. In 2005 the bands self titled 1969 release was remastered and released with several bonus tracks, bringing the track total from ten songs originally to twenty one. Following the bands music career, Beattie would create All The Rage in Paris and would then go on to become a successful Country singer. Guitarist Dan Lowe would go into the producing field of music and invent the Q-Sound producing technique. While 49th Parallel was a short lived band, their music still stands as compelling Garage music with elements of Psychedelic, Pop, Folk music and what would become known as Punk Rock. They are often described as an unusual breed of Garage/Psych band to come out of Canada, they are an example of a unique Garage band that is not as well known as they should be.

The Play List:

1. The Diodes - Noise
2. U2 - Streetmission
3. The Stranglers - Hanging Around
4. My Dad vs. Yours - En Plien Soleil
5. Rah Rah - Waltz
6. Micronite Filters - In Search of Delights
7. Shilpa Ray and The Happy Hookers - Heaven In Stereo
8. The Veils - Bloom
9. Mean Creek - Sunlight
10. 49th Parallel - You Do Things
11. 49th Parallel - Close The Barn Door
12. Hot Nasties - Fashion Show (Live)
13. The Misfits - Attitude
14. The Rapture - Out of the Races and onto the Tracks
15. Second Head - Starglow
16. Wavves - Mutant
17. Blondie - In the Sun
18. Roxy Music - All I Want Is You
19. King Khan & BBQ Show - Crystal Ball
20. The Standells - Sometimes Good Guys Don't Wear White
21. MC5 - Back In The USA
22. Modern Superstitions - Beck & Call
23. Black Mountain - Radiant Hearts
24. The Black Angels - Sunday Afternoon
25. Action Makes - Sandworms
26. The D4 - Little Baby

To download this weeks program, visit CJAM's schedule page for Revolution Rock and download the file for January 25. Or subscribe to Revolution Rock as a Podcast.


Nicole M said...


can your cjam doc be viewed by all yet?!

Greg Maxwell said...

typical, i was listening to this show live, and had to turn it off during the hot nasties fashion show.. little did i know you were going to play two great songs right afterwards.

I changed my blog around, and deleted most of my old posts. Also posted some 'Bloom' photos.

Dave said...


I've left a comment on your blog, which looks great btw.


The CJAM documentary is not online yet, it probably won't be for awhile. I'm hoping for it to be shown elsewhere first, but have to wait awhile.

The trailer can be viewed here in the meantime:

But next week on my show i'm doing a black history month special so there will be some Jazz, Soul, Funk and cool stuff.