(ST. JOHN'S NEWFOUNDLAND, CANADA- NEUTRON RECORDS, 1979)
Here is one variation of the painfully rare sleeve (maybe only
50 to 75 copies total?). Rick Harbin on guitar; Terry Carter
(ex-Da Slyme!) on drums; and Mike Fisher, bass and vocals
A rather plain, no-frills back sleeve eh
In my view, this record not only teaches us about old Canadian music, but also teaches a few grammar lessons eh. Nine times out of ten I usually eliminate "The" from the beginning of band names; I usually find it useless. BUT in the case of this band, I think the "The" must be included before the band name so that we can accurately understand the meaning they were trying to convey with their name. Just saying "Reaction" sounds kind of flat and non-descriptive like, "Eh, whatever". But saying "The Reaction" has more umph! to it like they are in the lab doing a science experiment and pouring chemicals that are about to explode out of its beaker. I picture the band getting on stage back in the late 70's and introducing themselves by saying "Hey everyone- we're The Reaction! Are you ready for a reaction?!" Followed by them wildly launching into "The Kids Arrived" or something. Imagine if a band just got up there and said "Hi, we're Reaction" (without the "The" in front of their name)- no punch or hook to it!
Speaking of hooks, "The Kids Arrived" has some very catchy ones. Overall, I think the song is very late 70's Canadian in some ways- full of melody, as was a lot of late 70's Canuck punk songs. But, for my ears, too much late 70's Canadian stuff had just TOO MUCH melody underlying it and not enough punch. But not here! "The Kids Arrived" is a great punk rave up, if you will, with a nice mixture of melody, drive and punch throughout it. As well as sounding so darn URGENT which is always a plus. The melodic, high-pitched guitar hook at the various breaks is very catchy. But add to that the dirtier guitar strumming that follows the chorus- this adds the drive, bite and punch to the song. During these parts the bass is running a parllel track with the guitar and both sound like they are racing each other in a way with that "duh nuh nuh nuh, NUH nuh nuh" type of effect. And some well-placed hand clapping (again, very late 70's Canadian) is a nice touch in the middle.
"The Kids Arrived" also teaches us the other grammar lesson in my view, that of plural words vs. possessive words. For the longest time I thought the song had an apostrophe-s in it like "The Kid's Arrived" (aka "The Kids Has Arrived") and thought the band was talking about one, singular kid arriving all by his lonesome some time ago. But after a while I realized the proper song title is actually "The Kids Arrived" and described a plural GROUP of youngsters taking over the town.
I (and many other people, I assume) first heard "The Kids Arrived" when the song was included on 1999's great, legit Smash The State Volume 3 comp LP put together by Frank Manley. Volume 3 (and the first two in the trio of comps for that matter) was a great comp with well-done research and a great, informative booklet insert and was released during a time when lots of disappointing, sub-par, barrel-scraping, hit-or-miss, quickly thrown-together KBD-type comps were coming out far too often. Volume 3 was also the first time I was actually able to hear tunes from the almighty Da Slyme double LP so I am forever grateful for this, as 1999 AD was back in the pre-internet blog days when Da Slyme was a mythical type of record and no one had it on their tape trading lists except for one person I eventually discovered.
Anyway, for many years I wanted to hear the- gulp!- "other side" of The Reaction 7". As usual I was worried that it would be a dreadful, throwaway "other side" as happens far too often with many KBD singles. Earlier this year I was able to hear it (thanks again P.R.!) and, while "On The Beach" is not a wild punk rave up like The Kids Arrived and is much more mellow, I was pleasantly surprised by how soothing and catchy it is. It has grown on me with each successive listen, but I don't mean "It's grown on me" like I hated it at first but repeated listenings has numbed me and eased the pain and I've gotten used to it. No- I liked it at on first listen and it's subtlety is further appreciated by me as time goes by. I think there's some DIY-ish aspects to it which is always a plus when applied properly. And the type of "DIY-ish" quality that I refer to in regards to this song are not the ramshackle, sloppy, out of tune DIY- which, of course, is great in its own regard- but more of the "charming U.K. DIY" kinda like The Record Players' Don't Go Backwards. On The Beach is a long song (over 6 minutes!) by traditional "2:36-max-length" punk standards but it's very hummable and I think it's a nice song to wind down with when you need a break from whatever wild, raw, frothing mad KBD song you just wildly pounded your fist to (does that sound too dramatic?!).
On The Beach.mp3
The Kids Arrived.mp3
Thanks again to P.R. for the rips of both sides of this single!
If you are interested in hearing more by The Reaction, you can go here on YouTube to see them playing an unreleased song called "Get The Rods Out". The song was uploaded by the band over 6 years ago actually, and it is from circa 1980 when it looks like The Reaction was appearing on a local public access-type of TV show in Canada.
Here are the great, very informative 1999 liner notes from Smash The State Volume 3 related to The Reaction with some key info highlighted, and with also some of my commentary in brackets:
"Believe it or not, St. John's, Newfoundland's first punk band may not have been the mighty Da Slyme. According to Wallace Hammond, Da Slyme's bassist, co-founder, compiler and archivist, among other things, recorded Mike Fisher and Rick Harbin's art-rock, hard-rock band sometime in 1977. Apparently, at least two of the tracks he laid down on tape were borderline punk.
In any case, the Reaction's real birth occurred when Terry Carter (aka Pasquale Neutron), another co-founder of Da Slyme, returned from broadcast school in Halifax, Nova Scotia where he'd been turned onto the raucous sounds of the Sex Pistols and the Ramones. Since Carter's departure for Halifax in early 1978, Da Slyme had replaced him on drums with, according to Carter, the more competent Justin Hall. Luckily, when Carter returned to St. John's in December 1978 he spotted an ad Fisher and Harbin had placed in the Memorial University of Newfoundland's Thompson Students' Centre looking for a drummer to play punk and new wave music, and so the Reaction was born. They took their name from a line in the Jam song "All Around The World". Their first gig was around a month later, opening for Da Slyme.
Although the Reaction was modelled after The Jam and other Mod bands, their set lists also included numbers by Elvis Costello ("Less Than Zero"), Eddie and the Hot Rods ("Do Anything You Wanna Do") and the Sex Pistols ("Anarchy In The U.K."). In the early incarnation they played mostly covers- to guarantee club gigs. They initially snuck in a few originals, including "The Kids Arrived", "No Excuses", and the "Rest of It All"; the last two songs were never recorded.
Gig-wise they started by playing at the university and the legendary scumpit Middle Earth bar, where Da Slyme also played. In the oddly named town of Old Shop near Trinity Bay, the Reaction had a fairly decent following, where the local youths had been exposed to the Ramones and caught the punk bug. Whenever the Reaction played St. John's, the so-called "Old Shop Army" kids would pile into town for the gig.
Later, the Reaction went out on the "Bay Circuit", a tour of bars along the coast outside St. John's, initially playing contemporary punk and new wave covers. However, Carter admits that was a less than successful recipe: playing songs by underground British bands did not go over too well with musically conservative bar audiences who'd never heard the originals. They soon learned to throw in some high-energy 60s classics such as "Satisfaction", "Ready Steady Go" and "Respectable" and often ended the evening with "My Generation", which allowed Carter to indulge in a Keith Moon once or twice, kicking his kit over while the guitarist and bassist did the splits and hammered their instruments.
Still, it was tough being in the forefront of the new music scene. Carter penned "The Kids Arrived" in response to people who were really negative about this new breed of musicians. At a gig outside of St. John's, one unhappy bar patron bought a copy of the record so he could smash it while the group was on stage [Idiot! He's one of the reasons their single is so damn rare!- ed]. '"The Kids Arrived" is a bit of self-vindication: it's a big 'fuck you' to people who did nothing but criticize", declares Carter.
He's gonna be on the stage tonight
He's gonna kick it out with rage tonight
They never call him for a loss
He'll finally show them who'll be boss
Move over- the kids arrived
He'll be alright...
Climbing the greased ladder rung by rung
Singing a song that must be sung
[Pretty urgent lyrics!- ed]
They recorded the single at Echo Recording Studios in St. John's in March 1979, later pressing around 500 copies at World Records in Toronto. Mike and Terry came up with different picture sleeves, but they only made 50-75 of each [Ouch!- ed]. The single quickly made it into local jukeboxes, including the one at the Middle Earth. Distribution, like all the records on this compilation, was DIY.
Also in the spring of 1979 the band recorded three more songs at Echo Recording Studios: "In Tune With The Times", "Trials In Error" and "Till Midnight". They appeared on a posthumous cassette entitled "Underexposure" that was released in 1981 on Wallace Hammond's Vicki Beat label [anyone have this cassette?- Ed]. The original group lasted for 10 months, until Carter left the band in October 1979.
Harbin and Fisher recruited another drummer and continued gigging, including a trip to Toronto where they played a few gigs (one at the Ontario College of Art) and recorded a number of tracks while Tom Atom at Cottingham Sound. Interestingly, Tom Atom was also the engineer of the Arson and Fits' singles (see Smash The State Volume 1)."