Og Records was established in Montreal, Quebec in 1983, by Gerard Van Herk and Tony Dewald, who were also in a two piece primal Sludgeabilly band called Deja Voodoo that drew on elements of 50’s Rock & Roll, Rockabilly, Garage and Punk music for their sound. While the label was initially established as a means to put out music by Deja Voodoo, it quickly grew into something larger going on to set new standards for independent Canadian music. Amongst a world of synthesizers and overindulgent music, Og Records set out to do things different taking things back to basics. The label would go on to not only release music within the Garage and Punk genres, but also Roots Rock, Rockabilly and associated genres and set up a network with other Canadian bands on a national scale. This was put forth in part by their It Came From Canada compilation album series and Deja Voodoo’s touring connections.
The first two releases on Og were released on cassette format only, 1983’s Gumbo by Deja Voodoo, and Condition’s Dirty Business, but the label would switch to vinyl format following this and remain that way until the label was dissolved in 1990. The first vinyl release on Og, was a seven inch single compilation release entitled From Montreal, which can be seen as a precursor to the It Came From Canada compilation albums which would follow starting in 1985. These compilations would feature bands such as The Gruesomes, Jerry Jerry & The Sons of Rhythm Orchestra, Ray Condo & His Hard Rock Goners, Chris Houston, Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, Cowboy Junkies and many others. There were five It Came From Canada compilations in total, in between these releases Og would put out full length albums and releases by The Gruesomes, Supreme Bagg Team, The Dik Van Dykes, and more. The labels first release from a band that was not within the Montreal scene was the 1985 album Road Gore: The Band That Drank Too Much by Jerry Jerry and The Sons Of Rhythm Orchestra who originated from Edmonton, Alberta.
Deja Voodoo drove around to their gigs with a willingness to play anywhere in a 1959 Ford Edsel which seemed to be a character of its own and generate questions and at times confusion, but the label would draw attention from a variety of sources in addition to touring connections. Og bands and releases were also supported strongly by campus radio stations across Canada and CBC late night programs such as Brave New Waves and Night Lines, which further helped the labels status. An annual event was also put on called Voodoo BBQ’s, which started as a reason to bring the bands together featured on the It Came From Canada compilation albums. This live event would start in Montreal, but would also be held in other parts of Canada later on, such as Toronto and Ottawa. Deja Voodoo even went on to play shows in Europe building a following and releasing a live album entitled Live at the Backstage Club, Helsinki Finland in 1990. This album would be not only one of the band’s last releases, but also one of the last releases for the Og Records label.
Many of the bands featured on the It Came From Canada compilations went on to varying degrees of success. The Gruesomes were an extremely popular band on the label that did very well. Two other notable bands would be Canada’s instrumental combo Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet, who would go on to greater fame in Canada when supplying the theme song for the Kids In The Hall TV show and The Cowboy Junkies, who would only have one song featured on the label, “Blue Moon Revisited”. This song would be featured on 1988’s It Came From Canada Volume 5 and was an outtake from their Trinity Sessions album, which would go on to sell millions of copies when the band signed to a major label. Just before CD’s became the dominant format of choice in the 90s, Deja Voodoo and Og Records called it quits in 1990. Gerard and Tony went on to pursue other careers in different avenues, Gerard in the education field, Tony in the brewing of beer.
Og Records was a small, but largely influential label at the time. It can be seen as a metaphor for the beginnings of independently released music on a more national level in Canada. In the 90s and even today, Canadian music thrives in this regard. Deja Voodoo, the first band to put out a release on Og further serves as a symbol of what was essentially at that point in time the primal beginnings of Canadian artists taking matters into their own hands in terms of how they would release music. When the primal cycle outgrew itself, Og Records ended, leaving behind a blueprint that was seminal for releasing music that was alternative to the mainstream in Canada.
Listen to the interview I did with Gerard Van Herk here:
Og Play List:
1. Deja Voodoo – Boppin’ 88 (Gumbo 1983 – OG 1)
2. Terminal Sunglasses – Terminal Theme (Wraparound Cool 1985 – OG 6)
3. Drums Along The Gardiner – Vagabonds (Mr. Garager’s Neighbourhood 1989 – OG 21)
4. Desmonds – Bureaucrat From Hell (It Came From Canada Volume 5 1988 – OG 25)
5. Ripcordz – Long Dark Train (It Came From Canada Volume 5 1988 – OG 25)
6. Captain Crunch and Let’s Do Lunch – Goes Without Saying (More Baroque-Post Industrial Hillbilly Launch Music 1989 – OG 23)
7. Ray Condo & His Hard Rock Goners – High Voltage (It Came From Canada Volume 2 1986 – OG 9)
8. Dusty Chaps – Yukon Buddy (It Came From Canada Volume 1 1985 – OG 8)
9. Chris Houston – Surfin’ On Heroin (It Came From Canada Volume 1 1985 – OG 8)
10. Cowboy Junkies – Blue Moon Revisited (It Came From Canada Volume 4 1988 – OG 17)
11. Deja Voodoo – Too Cool To Live, Too Smart To Die (Too Smart To Live, Too Smart To Die 1988 – OG 12)
GERARD VAN HERK INTERVIEW (DEJA VOODOO/OG RECORDS)
12. Deja Voodoo – 48 Bucks (Big Pile Of Mud 1988 – OG 18)
13. The Mongols – Sleepwalk (It Came From Canada Volume 3 1987 – OG 13)
14. Dik Van Dykes – Curling (Nobody Likes The Dik Van Dykes 1987 - OG 16)
15. Condition – Too Hot To (From Montreal 1983 – OG 3)
16. Shadowy Men On A Shadowy Planet – Good Cop Bad Cop (It Came From Canada Volume 2 1986 – OG 9)
17. Jerry Jerry & The Sons Of Rhythm Orchestra – Bad Idea (Road Gore: The Band Who Drank Too Much1985 – OG 7)
18. Vindicators – If I Were You (Vindicators 1989 – OG 29)
19. The Gruesomes – For All I Care (Tyrants Of Teen Trash 1986 – OG 10)
20. The Gruesomes - Hey! (Hey! 1988 - OG 20)
21. Deja Voodoo – Coelacanth (Swamp Of Love 1986 – OG 11)
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