Forgotten series: 49th Parallel – 49th Parallel (2005)

There must be something magical penetrating Canada because so much great music stems from the country. A Calgary, Alberta band who existed in the late 1960s, 49th Parallel produced several singles and a self-titled album during their stint, which have been compiled onto this disc from Pacemaker Records.

Seasoning their pithy material with blasts of soulful pop rock motions, frequently embroidered with psychedelic stitching, the band spawned a spate of stirring songs impossible to resist. Had the group managed to be heard beyond their region, where they harvested much success, they certainly would be known by a far wider audience today.

Rehearsed and professional, but definitely not stiff or contrived, 49th Parallel packed their tightly-woven tunes with stacks of arresting choruses, rattling keyboard activity and chunky guitar chords. The energy is contagious, and the band’s chemistry hums with perfection.

Instigated by a bounty of bubbly rhythms, round hooks and gripping licks, “Labourer” confesses what a drag it is working a day job and being a slave to the grind, while tracks such as “Now That I’m A Man,” “Twilight Woman,” “You Do Things” and “Close The Barn Door” are drafted of likeminded sonic shapes and designs that regularly reflect the cool pop art sounds of the Who and the Creation.

A hostile tone, compounded by doses of digging breaks, floods “Citizen Freak,” which addresses the generation gap issue of the era, and then there’s “Missouri” that flaunts a slight country-rock edge. Charted of thoughtful arrangements and emotive expressions, “Blue Bonnie Blue” and “Shades Of Blonde (All Your Love)” observe the band executing ballads with feeling and substance.

Excellent songwriting, mated with 49th Parallel’s ability to transform their statements into livewire performances buzzing with power and precision, are the traits that allow the band to shimmer and shine. To be sure, millions of other groups were doing what these fellows did, but here’s a band that played their instruments well, possessed spellbinding vocals and were consistent and convincing.

[amazon_enhanced asin="B000EJ9KQW" container="" container_class="" price="All" background_color="FFFFFF" link_color="000000" text_color="0000FF" /]

Beverly Paterson

Beverly Paterson was born the day Ben E. King hit No. 4 on the national charts with "Stand By Me" - which is ironically one of her favorite songs, especially the version by John Lennon. She has also contributed to Lance Monthly and Amplifier, and served as associate editor of Rock Beat International. Paterson's own publications have included Inside Out, and Twist And Shake. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.

Here's where you talk back ...