Friday, March 29, 2013

Thrift Store Find: Arc Records' The Best Of Frank's Bandstand - by Keltie Harding!

During thrift store shopping one day I came across 'Do You "Wanna" Dance - The Best Of Frank's Bandstand".  I immediately snapped it up.  I was familliar with "Frank's Bandstand" as being the Halifax segment of CBC-TV's daily "Music Hop" series in the mid 1960's.  Plus I noticed that The Brunswick Playboys were also on this album, as well as The Offbeats.  I figured "for a quarter, why not?!!" It was in pretty rough shape, but still took a chance.

I also recognized The Offbeats from my earlier post about Arc Records and the mysterious Monkees cover album "A Little Bit Me".  And I figured this was another one of those Arc "tribute" albums.   While this LP does have its share of cover versions, there was also some very good original material there as well.

Patricia-Anne McKinnon
All the artists on this album were featured on  the "Frank's Bandstand" TV show and many of them were the cast regulars, like Patricia McKinnon (younger sister to Catherine McKinnon), Karen Oxley and the aforementioned Offbeats were the house band.  Patricia & Karen were also cast members on Singalong Jubilee, as was Brian Ahearn (of the Offbeats.)  Some of the other artists were regional acts that achieved some exposure.  The Axemen were from Halifax, NS and The Brunswick Playboys were from Moncton, NB.  The BP's released a couple of singles on Arc and a full length LP on Excellent Records. Patricia McKinnon also released some solo singles on Arc, credited as "Patricia-Anne"

The BP's 1966 Album "Looking In On The Brunswick Playboys"
The "Frank" in Frank's Bandstand was Halifax TV and radio personality Frank Cameron.  As a kid in the early 80's, I remember listening to Frank host his weekly CBC Halifax radio show called "Rock, Rhythm & Blues", where he played just that.  Lots of 50's and 60's rock do-wop, rhythm & blues.  I got turned on to a lot of classic artists through that radio show.

(Here is a clip of the Bandstand show, from YouTube.  Its a wonder some of this footage still exists.)

At first I thought the recording quality of the record would have been kind of poor, but I was surprised the quality of the mono recording is quite good.   I have this pre-concieved notion that recordings from Arc were lousy.  But this record is proving me wrong.  Sure, Arc may have been a dubious budget label, but they DID showcase a lot of Canadian acts.  What was unique about Arc that, for an independent company, they had their own recording studio (Bay Studio in Toronto) as well as thier own pressing plant. (Back-tracking a little, the sound quality of the Arc "A Little Bit Me" Monkees LP is very good as well.  So obviously, they did put out quality product.)  The actual record itself is quite heavy.  It almost seems like its 150 grams.  I don't have a scale to measure it out, but the pressing certainly isn't flimsy.  I only wish the record was not all beat up and scratched to s**t.  (I made a vinyl rip of this record, and after digital clean-up, it actually turned out very well.  I am surprised.)


The making of this album seemed like a "family" affair, employing the technical staff of the TV show.  Its unclear who exactly "produced" this album.  Brian Ahearn (Offbeats guitarist & later a very successful record producer and Emmylou Harris' husband)  was the show's musical director, and also a staff producer with Arc.   While Manny Pittson was the show's TV producer, he may have produced the sessions for the album.  The engineer was CBC engineer Marty Raine and was assisted by (CBC technical engineers) Don Jackson & Bob Theakston.  Not much else is known about the recording, but it was more than likely cut directly to mono & recorded in a facility in Halifax, NS, maybe even a CBC studio.  According to Ken Tobias (in the book "Remembering Singalong Jubilee") Ahearn was "the first guy to do sound-on-sound in Halifax.  Brian was doing sound layering on those 2-track machines, like the Beatles." Even the music for the TV show was pre-recorded and then lip-synched (or with live vocals) on camera.  (I highly doubt that Arc would have paid for the artists to come to Toronto to record in the company's Bay Sound studio.)

There are a few originals on this album nestled alongside the cover versions.  "I'm A Lucky Guy" by The Axemen was an original, according to Bruce MacFarlaine of The Axemen (via a YouTube comment). "An orignal tune from our high school band from about 1965 which we did on Frank's Bandstand..." he wrote.   "What Can I Do" by Roger Gray is also an original, penned by Gray himself. According to the LP liner notes, it was this song that won him a song-writing competition that resulted in a spot on the Bandstand. Another original was "Too Blind To See" by The Brunswick Playboys.  This track was initially issued by Arc on a single (A-1084) and written by Gerald Holley.  (The single has the credit of "Arc Productions in Assoc. With M. Pittson.")  The other tracks reflect the hits of the day such as the Jagger/Richards penned "As Tears Go By" (Marianne Faithful) and Dusty Springfield's smash "I Only Want To Be With You".  "Do You Wanna Dance" was also a hit for The Beach Boys at the time and on this LP, is sung by the entire cast of the show.  I tried to dig up some information on The Raindrops but the only thing I could find that there was a NYC band called The Raindrop.  A real pleasant surprise was the Offbeats' rendition of the jazz smoker "Swingin' Shepherd Blues", which is transformed into a rockin' stomp with a cool sax lead.

This LP is a taste of the Canadian (and Halifax) pop music scene in the days before CanCon and "American Woman".  It's also a gentle reminder of a much more innocent and simpler time, when TV and radio brought the country together.  If I ever come across another copy in better shape, the vinyl rip I made of this will be upgraded. Now I think I'm going to seek out some of the "Singalong Jubilee" albums as well. 


  1. Cool find for sure! Nice little piece of history you got there

  2. While doing a search for references to my father, Manny Pittson, I came across this website. I thought it might interest you to know that my father passed away on Saturday, June 8. He was a true East Coast Music enthusiast, and he would be glad to know that so many people out there shared his passion.

    1. Thank you. I wish I could tell you if he was indeed the producer of this album or not, but I couldn't tell you offhand. I do know he was the producer on some albums featuring Singalong Jubilee performers. Good luck in your search for Singalong Jubilee albums!

  3. My sympathies and best wishes to you and your family Emma. I'd love to learn more about your dad if you are ever willing to share sometime.

  4. Actually, I bought this LP when it first came out and still have it. It was hardly ever played, so it's in great shape! I'm putting a book together on my family history that will include references to some of Moncton's early bands like The Brunswick Playboys, The Gemtones, The Saxons, The Fendermen, and many more. Having this record really helps to take me back to the 60's. I just wished I had purchased more of the locally-made music.


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