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Northwest Company

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Origin: Haney, British Columbia

Known originally as the Bad Boys, this vastly-underrated Canadian quintet consisted of Rick McCartey (lead vocals), Ray O'Toole (lead guitar/vocals), Vidor Skofteby (rhythm guitar), Gowan Jurgensen (bass), and Richard Stepp (drums, vocals) -- the successor to Jerry Ringrose. The band hailed from Haney, BC -- a Vancouver suburb. Local radio personality Tom Peacock of CFUN recommended a name change to ease the fears of female fans' mothers. Thus did Jurgensen pluck from the pages of history a more conservative handle -- that of a 19th-century fur-trading consortium.

However, nothing about the band's music was conservative. Raw and raucous, they red-lined sound meters -- strafing ears with incendiary chord bursts. The band's stage antics included synchronized dance steps, with burly McCartey hoisting diminutive O'Toole onto his shoulders in the middle of a song! In July 1967, five tracks were laid down at Vancouver's Telesound Studios, including "Eight Hour Day" and "Get Away from It All" (both O'Toole/Jurgensen efforts) and Skofteby's "Hard to Cry." "Cry" was chosen as the band's first release -- an all-out reverb assault patterned after the Kinks. "Eight Hour Day" followed as the second single (from the London label) with "Time for Everyone" (from Apex) being the group's third. In 1971, two 45s were subsequently cut for North Vancouver's Coast Records, one of which bore a track that became the company's signature tune: "Rock 'N' Roll Lover Man." "Lover" has a Small Faces/Humble Pie ambiance -- a '70s sort of blue-eyed funk. Its strident chords ring with confidence. Though both Coast singles were picked up for Canada-wide distribution by the London label, the band's success remained regionalized. After a sixth single, the Northwest Company hung up its boots. In 1983, "Rock 'N' Roll Lover Man" resurfaced on the History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Volume 3 from Vancouver Record Collectors' Association, while three tracks from the July 1967 session appeared on the History of Vancouver Rock and Roll, Volume 4.
-Stansted Montfichet, Rovi


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Northwest Company


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