RECORD STORE TALES Part 12: The Pepsi Power Hour
I’m going to take you back in time a bit. Back to a time before the record store….
I remember back to the 80’s and early 90’s when MuchMusic was king. Back when there was no Jersey Shore and they played actual music videos. There was no internet at that time, so you had to go to the store to buy your music (more often than not, on cassette). To hear new bands, you watched videos on Much and listened to the radio. There was no YouTube.
There was this frickin’ awesome show on Much back in the day — you remember it. It was originally only on once a week (Thursdays at 4 if I recall) and was hosted by one John “J.D.” Roberts. Yeah, the CNN guy. After he left, the hosting slot rotated between Michael Williams, Steve Anthony, Erica Ehm and Laurie Brown and then finally the late Dan Gallagher. Despite his long hair, Dan didn’t know a lot about metal — he didn’t know how to pronounce “Anthrax” and had never heard of Ratt. But that show was by far the best way to hear new metal back in the day.
That show was THE POWER HOUR.
It was so popular that they eventually had two a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4, which was awesome for me since by 1989 I was working every Thursday at Zehrs. I could still catch one a week, usually.
I remember tuning in, VCR at the ready to check out all the new videos and catch onto the newest bands. There was this band called Leatherwolf that I found via Hit Parader magazine and first heard on the Power Hour. I loved that band. There was another band called Sword from Montreal. Psycho Circus. Faith No More. Skid Row. Armored Saint. Testament. You could always count on the Power Hour to have Helix on. That show rocked.
They had some of the best interviews as well. Usually they’d have someone come in and co-host for an hour. They had everybody from Gene Simmons to Brian Vollmer to Lemmy. In depth stuff too, at times.
Then in 1990 something else cool happened. I discovered a magazine called M.E.A.T (the periods were for no reason at all, just to look cool like W.A.S.P. but eventually they decided it stood for “Metal Events Around Toronto”). M.E.A.T was awesome because it was monthly, free, and had in depth articles clearly written by knowledgable fans. There was no magazine with that kind of deep coverage. Even Slash loved M.E.A.T, at a time when Guns hated rock magazines! I loved M.E.A.T so much I eventually sent them $10 to subscribe to a free magazine. I did this on a yearly basis.
I discovered a whole bunch of great bands via that magazine. I Mother Earth, Slash Puppet, Russian Blue, Jesus Christ, not to mention they were way ahead of the curve on alternative. They had a Nirvana concert review back in 1989. They got behind Soundgarden way before they were cool. And you could count on them hanging onto the oldies. They’d put an indi band from Toronto on the cover one month, and put Black Sabbath on the cover the next month. Next issue they’d have an in-depth interview with Kim Mitchell. They’d talk about bands that nobody else did.
Their CD reviews were my bible! My music hunting was probably 90% based on their reviews, especially since by then the Power Hour had changed into the 5 day weekly Power 30 hosted by Teresa Roncon, and sucked. The started playing too much thrash and grunge and never gave the old bands a shot anymore.
Things have changed so much now. I never get into new bands anymore, back then I used to just eat them up. I guess new bands just don’t interest me anymore. I like my old time rock and roll. I did buy the new Sheepdogs, twice. The last new band I got totally and 100% excited about was The Darkness, and that was, what…2003?
Yet I can’t get into these new metal bands. The music sounds so sterile to my aging ears. The rock has lost its balls. The album I have been most excited about in 2012 was the new Van Halen — a band that is approaching 40 years old. But my God does it rock. Kiss and Black Sabbath both have new records coming out, and I’m excited about them, but I could two shits about the new Nickelback.
In a lot of ways, it’s a better time for music now. With eBay and Amazon I’ve managed to fill nearly every gap in my music collection. There are some bands that I now have complete sets of, and others that I am achingly close. I’m missing 4 Maiden EP’s and 1 Deep Purple import, for example. Back in the 80’s you didn’t have access to this. You didn’t even have access to an accurate and complete discography. It wasn’t until the internet that this kind of information was even available.
Aside from that, today kind of sucks for music. Sure, it’s easier to find new bands now, but we did OK in the 80’s. M.E.A.T turned me on to lots of bands, and they were always giving away sampler cassettes. Much played all the new videos by all the metal bands at least once, basically. You had to work a little harder, but we only appreciated the music more. It wasn’t disposable.
And there were a lot more new bands around that just plain rocked!