Saturday, April 16, 2011
Record Store Day today. But in 1990, cds and cassettes were it. Records, real records, generally black and made of vinyl, had been pretty much phased out in Canada. Records became items for collectors, DJs, undergound except for promo stuff. I was interviewing artists for a local rag, and somehow I got assigned John Bottomley, who I didn't know anything about. I dived into his album at the time, Library of the Sun, which I had been given on a promo cassette - no cover, no liner notes...no matter, I was hooked. My willingness to accept less-hyped artists to interview paid off again, because in Bottomley I found an artist that was fairly unique at the time. For example, at that time so many bands seemed to be inspired by U2 that even U2 lost their way. But Bottomley had a voice that was tuneful and gravelly at the same time, recorded tunes that seemed acoustic-based yet always seemed to have the electric spark I wanted, either literal or figurative. What the heck was he? Folk? Folk-rock? Pop? He didn't go for the easy way out, huge choruses and enormous riffs, he seemed to just do what came naturally, and it seemed to be different for different songs. My interview with him was a joy.
I remember dragging my friends to see him play at The Spectrum (my buddies had no idea who he was), and at the end of the night thinking if you can't see how amazing this guy is, fine, I'll keep him as my own little secret. Well, I didn't, I wrote the article about him, doing my best to explain how this guy was a Canadian treasure. But right now, I'm remembering that night at the Spectrum. Not a very big audience, but after the show Bottomley chatted with me for a bit. We got along, as strangers sometime do. As he turned to go up to the band room, he stopped and asked me if I had a turntable. Yeah, I replied. Wait here, he said. A minute later he came back with a vinyl copy of his album. Here. Now you got one better than that crappy cassette. He grinned.
John Bottomley passed on April 6th. I'm missing a Canadian treasure.
Buy John Bottomley cds here.