albums w/ jackets & lyrics
H ailing from Kitchener, Ontario in the late 1960s, the group was centered around Phyllis Brown on lead vocals, along with Bill McLaughlin on guitars, drummer Chris Woroch, Charley Hall on organ, and Ron Hiller on piano.

With Brown and Hller sharing piano duties as well, tight harmonies holding together a complex and varied backbeat was the backbone of their sound. They wrote a few pieces of their own material, but didn’t incorporate them much while doing the circuit through the end of the decade.

Greg Hambleton was starting up the new Axe Records label, and caught one of their shows in the spring of 1970. He agreed to manage them, and worked out a distribution deal with London. Booking some studio time, he brought in outside writers over the next few months to help with the project, including his brother Fergus, who had recently himself just signed a solo deal with Capitol, and David Lodge.

Hambleton knew Lodge because he was also flirting with him, eventually signing his group, Major Hoople’s Boarding House (later Janis Joplin’s backup band). Helping out in the studio were Bob Lifton and Terry Brown, who’d go on to production success with Rush, Max Webster, Klaatu, and many others.

THE RAIN ALBUM was released in the spring of ’71, and with the exception of Hiller singing lead on “I’ll Write A Letter,” the album was centred around Brown’s vocals. The first single “Out Of My Mind” didn’t make waves on the charts, but along with “Reason For Living,” comparisons to the likes of Debbie Boone and Karen Carpenter were instantly drawn. “Got To Get Away” was one of the more experimental sounds the band toyed with. With a bass lead and a funky feel, Brown sounded more like Joplin. And “Sad Colours Blues,” with its BB King styled guitars and organ undertones, and Hall’s organs on “Child of Mine” further explored their vesatility.

A pair of singles, “Stop Me From Believing” and “Find Your Love,” both hit the radio stations by the summer of ’71, but bounced right back off. Coupled by differing opinions on where the group should be headed, Brown, Hiller, and McLaughlin were all gone by the following spring.

A revised line-up that featured Brian LeBlanc and Bernie LaBarge both handling vocals and piano and guitars, recorded some material. After lining up some dates around the Toronto circuit, “Make Me,” with Woroch on vocals was released as a single. The flip side was LaBarge’s first vinyl vocal offering, “Catwalk.”

The band officially called it quits by that fall, and everyone went on to other projects, as had previous members. Brown signed in the mid ’70s with A & M, reinventing herself as one of Canada’s most prominent disco/Motown artists – Charity Brown. Hiller later joined Copperpenny, and LaBarge went on to become one of Toronto’s most sought-after studio and stage players, working with everyone from Bond, and Zwol, to Kim Mitchell, Long John Baldry, David Clayton-Thomas, The Irish Rovers, David Cassidy, and Sass Jordan, among others. He also earned a reputation for his production work, having studied under Daniel Lanois and Jack Richardson. LaBarge has also written or performed for other cleints as varied as the “Fraggle Rock” and “Smith & Smith” TV shows, to Coke, Pepsi, Nissan, and Ford.


charity browncopperpenny