Pointe-Claire, Montréal Mersey Punk Debut! Please Don't Ever Change actually knocked The Standells' Dirty Water out of the CFCF's Top 10 back in the day.
A SOMEDAY FOOL: STORY OF M.G. & THE ESCORTS
M.G & The Escorts were one of the most popular rock groups to come out of mid-60's Montreal, PERIOD! Along with the Haunted and the Rabble, M.G.& the Escorts had continued success throughout Quebec and Ontario; having multiple singles chart.
The group formed after the merger of The Strangers (covering popular songs by Cliff Richard and the Shadows) which contained Glen Stephens, Glenn Grecco and Billy Bryans, as well as an unknown band which contained Mike Gauthier and Graham Powers.
They hailed from the Pointe Claire neighborhood of Montréal, Quebec and formed in 1965. The founding members were Glen Stephen (bass), Mike Gauthier (rhythm guitar), Graham Powers (lead vocals), Glenn Grecco (lead guitar/main songwriter), and Bill Bryans (drums/songwriting).
They became a hot draw around eastern Ontario and Quebec, playing everywhere they could, developing a loyal following as they went. They mostly played at high schools, teen clubs and various events styled in the vein of "Battle of the Bands" in those early days.
Their prominence in the area at the time caught the attention of A&R men from REO Records; a subsidiary of Quality Records Limited. They were signed to a deal with REO in early 1966 and taken into the studio to record their first single. "Please Don't Ever Change/Sorry To Hear" was released in May and managed to reach #9 on the CFCF charts that month. "Please Don't Ever Change" was a Merseybeat flavored track, with some minor garage rock flourishes. It would chart in a number of other regions around Ontario/Quebec. The B-Side "Sorry To Hear" was a slower surf-tinged ballad.
The success of their first single had REO hungry for another, so they quickly got them back into the studio in August. As with their first single, both sides were written by Glenn Grecco. "I Can't Go On"/The One Who Wants You" was released in September 1966, but it failed to chart meaningfully.
The remainder of the year would see the group performing throughout the Ottawa Valley and Eastern Ontario, making stops in Kingston, Smiths Falls, Cornwall and Brockville. On top of High schools, teen dances, clubs and such, they’d also make a few T.V. appearances. Their first major performance as M.G. and the Escorts was at the Maurice Richard Arena where they opened for the Beach Boys. Other groups they opened for included, The Young Rascals, Tommy James and the Shondells, Neil Diamond, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Serendipity Singers and the Happenings.
During this time, Glenn Grecco and Bill Bryans would write a number of original tunes while on the road; eventually beginning to write together. Bill would make his first solo contribution to the band's discography with the B-Side of their next single. They'd go into the studio to record in December of 1966. Around this time their manager Mel McCormick was busy putting together a brief tour of the Maritimes, to begin in early February of 1967. It was a well-received tour, seeing them perform as part of The Kingston Trio show at Memorial University in St. John's Newfoundland; among other dates.
Their third single was a return to the success of their debut. Released in January of 1967, "A Someday Fool/It's Too Late" quickly shot up the charts; reaching #9 on the CFCF charts as their debut did. Both sides of this 45 are classic examples of Canadian Garage Rock; The A-Side written by Grecco and the B-Side written by Bryans. The single was reissued in 2008 as part of the UK's "Garage Greats." This was a bootleg label in London dedicated to reissuing obscure Garage Rock from around the world. Labels are usually poorly reproduced, with poor sound quality unfortunately. This means if you want the original you'll need to fork out a few hundred dollars!
1967 saw the band more in demand than ever! The continued radio exposure, saw them performing constantly upon their return to Ontario. Within the band however, the two songwriters were yearning to create a "bigger" sound. It was 1967 after all; the music scene was in a period of hyper change. They had dreams of a more soulful-psych/ orchestrated sound. The summer would see the band enter a stage of semi-retirement while they re-evaluated their direction. Glenn and Billy would begin work on their last single co-write and arrange the A-Side "Next To Nowhere" and Glenn Grecco would write and arrange the B-Side "Remembering." The single was highly promoted by parent label Quality Records and even received a U.S. release on Mala Records.
Upon its release in September of 1967, their final single had chart success in a number of markets; including Kingston, Ottawa, New Brunswick (Bathurst) and Montreal. That same month they'd appear at the "Garden of Stars - Montreal's World’s Fair." This was an event as part of the bigger EXPO 67 which was taking place that year in Montreal.
Not long after these events the band would unfortunately end up disbanding. Bill Bryans went through a period of serious introspection after the events of EXPO 67. He would completely isolate himself from the members of the band shortly after, with little explanation; this was ultimately what led to the band breaking up. At the time they were popular and were having continued success live and with their singles. It was a genuine surprise to many at the time that they decided to break up.
As with the other [now] fondly remembered Canadian Garage Rockers on the REO label (Dee & The Yeomen, The Deverons, The Berries, etc.), they were forgotten by 1968. Whether this was changing tastes of Canadian music listeners, lack of meaningful promotion for their label or a combination of things, this fall from grace for the label and their acts leaves a trail of very rare, high-quality singles for lovers of Canadian music to discover.
WRITTEN AND RESEARCHED BY: AARON LUSCH
Glen Stephen: bass
Mike Gauthier: rhythm guitar
Graham Powers: lead vocals
Glenn Grecco: lead guitar and main songwriter
Bill Bryans: drums