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Calgary in the mid ’70s was home to a number of hard rock acts playing the local area’s bars, all were looking to stand out and make their mark.
Shades of Blonde morphed into 49th Parallel, which managed one record in ’69, which evolved into Painter‘s one album reign. By the time Hammersmith and their two records had come and gone by late ’77, Dan Lowe had played with half the other musicians in the area, played throughout western Canada and saw a deal with Molten Records (Randy Bachman‘s label) go sour before it started.
Hammersmith‘s later two records for Mercury didn’t reach the lofty goals reps had set for the band without proper backing either, and Lowe found himself looking for something new to do. He began writing material with singer Hal Whitford, and the two hooked up with Gordon Wilson Management.
In the spring of ’78 the two made a trip to Edmonton to lay down some tracks with producer Dick Maltby at Sundown Recorders. Those sessions featured Jethro Tull’s Martin Barre on guitars and Lowe’s fellow drummer with Painter, Herb Ego. Also on hand at the time were bassist Bob Walker and Norman Durkee on keyboards, whose resume included Bette Midler.
Dealing demos led to signing with InterCan Records, and shipped them off to England with more session players that included Royden Morice on bass, whose history with Lowe included Hammersmith and Painter. But by the time the final touches were being done back in Smooth Rock in Calgary just a couple of months later, Jim Clench, ex -of April Wine was in on bass, and Brack Steckel was added on guitars.
But by the time distribution was signed with Pickwick and the band’s eponymous debut was in the stores by the spring of 1980, Whitford had left. Still, with Lowe producing, the record saw two singles released, “China” and “I’ve Got The Power.” “Fastest Guns In Town” and the funk grooved lead off “Everybody Loves A Hero” from the original Edmonton sessions were also included. Other notable tracks were the hard-edged “Can’t Blame Me” and “Don’t Walk,” which Lowe wrote with Clench.
The band did some b-circuit shows on the western circuit, but radio stations weren’t interested, and neither song charted. After spinning their wheels for another year, Lowe disbanded the group and went on to form Prototype, which also failed to break the one album stigma. He then turned to production work. Steckel would join White Wolf, who Lowe helped out within the studio. Clench would join BTO for a while, then reunite with his April Wine buddies for awhile. He succumbed to cancer in November 2010.
With notes from Bob Ego
451 DEGREES (1980) Everybody Loves A Hero
Can’t Blame Me
Santa Anna Winds
Fastest Guns In Town
I’ve Got The Power
Only The Young Survive
Check Point Charlie