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Singing Fools

Origin: Ottawa, Ontario

Ottawa's Singing Fools emerged onto the cold and stagnant North American music scene in the abysmal autumn of 1982. Born during the famous Honest Ed's rug riot in Toronto in 1960, Murphy was the youngest son of a Moravian muleskinner-turned beer advertiser and a winsome but lethal Uzbeki swordswallower and events planner.

When the tonically challenged Irish kelpcake eventually teamed up a quarter-century later with retired oyster whisperer and tenured ventriloquism instructor, Tim "Hasbro" Dunlop, musical history was made.

Their first release, a 7-inch vinyl single called The Bum Rap, produced and recorded in Dunlop's rat-infested basement in Ottawa's toney Glebe, took unsuspecting campus radio listeners in the drug-crazed, Soviet-style socialistic Canadian welfare state completely unaware.

The first Canadian rap single ever released, it featured 'sampling' of political personalities (a surly Pierre Trudeau telling reporters to "just watch me" after his cabinet imposed the War Measures Act in October 1970) that became a Fools trademark. The song even enjoyed fleeting status as an underground hit at the New York's Danceteria.

In 1983, the discographic duo unleashed their second, even more "off the wall" disc--this time a four-song 7-inch E.P. (played at 45 r.p.m.) called CRUISIN''84.

This second indie release featured the first-ever nuclear truckin' ballad, The MX Express, as well as the ska-flavoured rude boy toetapper, Babylon Breakdown which featured a bootleg trumpet solo by Fools' diehard fan, Ramone Alpert (Herb's little brother by adoption)and a searing harp solo by lead singer Kevin Murphy.

The sophomoric pair wasted no time cutting a dance hit in time for release on the rapidly exploding "world's going to end, help, help, help!" club and "house" market. The kitschy klowns released The Apocalypso, a self-styled "civil defencercise" 12-inch dance mix to radioactive acclaim in February 1984. Acclaimed by nihilist and Cold Warrior alike, the zany dance disc singlehandedly brought a chill to the global arms race.

Singing Fools quickly garnered hit and then cult status on Canada's infant cable music station, MuchMusic, as well as becoming fixtures on the trendy Canuckistani Broadcasting Commissariat (CBC)'s late-night FM-radio slamdowns, Brave New Waves and Nightlines, one a Winnipeg-based farm auction and country music phone-in show emceed by the late Earl Cameron.

On a seeming nuclear hayride to megastardom, by the fall of Orwell's 1984 year of the same name, the Fools were courted and, some say, indecently assaulted by spindly A&R execs at A&M Records of Canada, a subsidiary established in 1982 by Herb Albert and his silent partner, Dean Martin, to market Bryan Adams' records.

The result of this commercial congress? A re-released version of Apocalypso and a drooly $100(Cdn) cash advance for the stalwart songslingers, to say nothing of a chance to nosh on some of Scarberia's finest process grilled cheese when "the deal went down".

The pair were then whisked off (in A&R weasel and Doug Henning lookalike Mike Godin's 1984 Volvo Turbo to the cramped and crap-stained MuchMusic studios on Queen Street East where their signing was announced in a "live" "on camera" "rap session" with Veejay Mike "I'm actually a singer myself" Williams.

Four weeks later, however, the Fools contract was deader than a door nail and Murphy and Dunlop were forced to sell their first batch of tunes to the highest bidder -- themselves. After that, it was all a blur. And now four decades years later, the prophetic aural stew that is was and will forever be the Singing Fools discography and videography is yours to enjoy for free, all by yourself, or with friends and family.

Dig in, the first helping is on us.



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