Hailing from Oshawa, Ontario, the original version of Reign Ghost was formed by brothers Jim and Bob Stright on guitars and drums respectively. But in early 1968 another psychedelic rock outfit in town called The Christopher Columbus Discovery of New Lands Band had folded, and singer Lynda Squires and drummer and Ottawa-native Bob Bryden (also ex of The Outcasts, The Things, The Cigarette After, and The Bluez Proclamation) came on board. With Bryden moving over to guitars, they joined the Strights, keyboardist Dave Hair, and also brought in bassist Joe Gallant. When Gallant left shortly thereafter, fellow ex-Columbus alumni Jerry Dufek was recruited.
Bryden was still only 17, so they played the Toronto area dances for a bit, and were noticed by Allied Records boss Jack Boswell. By that fall, they were in the studio with Boswell and Bill Bessey cutting their self-titled debut album. Recording only lasted a couple of weekends, and released the following January, Bryden was the chief songwriter and shared vocal duties. And with songs like “Travels Of Blue Paradox,” “Standing Room Only, Mr Mars,” and “Southern Hemisphere Blues Legacy,” the music was an experimental mix of then-new age and acid rock with spoken word, that critics compared to the likes of early Pink Floyd, Jefferson Airplane, or Wishbone Ash. With two of the songs over nine minutes long, and almost every one of them too long for radio play, the album came and went without notice.
The band meanwhile was going through internal strife, and was broken up by that summer. Boswell convinced Bryden and Squires to give it another go, so they reformed the group with drummer Rich Richter, guitarist John Pudlis (who played with Bryden in The Things and The Outcasts), and bassist Russ Erman.
They were sent back to the studios, but by the time REIGN GHOST FEATURING LYNDA SQUIRES was in the stores in early 1970, they were again disbanded, and the album had been picked up by Paragon Records. With Pudlis taking on a few of the songwriting chores, it followed in the same footsteps as its predecessor – predominantly long opus-rock opera stylings in songs like “Ain’t It Great,” “Breadbox,” and “Enola Gay,” and nothing particularly radio friendly.
“Long Day Journey” had been re-recorded, and b/w “Pudsy’s Parable,” was issued as a single, which went nowhere. By this point Squires had joined the Canadian run of the musical, “Hair,” and Bryden had formed a new group – Christmas (later dubbed Spirit of Christmas), whose debut album just happened to be in the stores the same day as Reign Ghost’s second offering.
“I recruited the players. Called them all to a meeting in the coffee shop at Sears in the Oshawa Centre in December 1969, and asked them if they wanted to join my ‘dream band’ – a psych-prog rock band. I already had the name in mind. At that time, none of them were writers and I had tons of material,” Bryden commented.
In addition to a string of albums with that group, as well as being a part of Benzene Jag, Age of Mirrors in the ’80s, and Belma and Bob, he also found time to record three solo albums – SEE THIS BRICK in ’81, THEATRE LIKE THIS a decade later, and POLARDOID VERITE in 2007. He also studied Fine and Performing Arts at York University.
In 1990, American based Laser’s Edge issued the two Reign Ghost albums as a single CD. Italian label Akarma Records then re-released the first album in 2004. Around the same time, Bryden acquired the worldwide rights, including publishing, to both albums.