Can-Con 45 Of The Day - May 3

Can-Con 45 Of The Day - May 3

Postby radiofan » Wed May 02, 2018 8:51 pm

Today's Can-Con 45 is from 1977 ... Brian and Brenda Russell and "That's All Tight Too" ...

Those who danced were thought to be quite insane by those who couldn't hear the music.
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Re: Can-Con 45 Of The Day - May 3

Postby Richard Skelly » Thu May 03, 2018 3:25 am

I wandered through life thoroughly convinced that the male half of Brian and Brenda began his professional journey playing guitar in Vancouver as part of The Classics. Those of a certain age know that The Classics, the house band for CBC-TV’s Let’s Go/Where It’s At shows, largely morphed into first The Collectors and successor band Chilliwack. Brian Russell was the Classics original guitarist.

Brian subsequently joined Three To One, an Arc Records quartet that also featured former Shadracks drummer Claudette Skrypnyk. The band relocated to Toronto, changing its name to Raja before breaking up. So I naturally assumed Brian Russell’s subsequent work with and marriage to Brenda Gordon was the next step in his career path.

Thankfully, former Collectors lead vocalist Howie ‘Vickers’ Vickberg set me straight when I opined on a Three To One posting on Facebook. Turns out there were two musical Brian Russells looking for their main chance in TO—with ex-Classics Brian the newcomer. But there was a degree of separation (albeit extremely remote) between longtime Torontoite Brian Russell and, oddly enough, The Collectors. On his 1970 solo album People Get Ready, Brian covered Hitchcock Railway. It was written by Dunn & McCashen, the same duo who penned Lydia Purple, a 1968 hit for The Collectors.

Russell’s People Get Ready album, released by the Canadian Talent Library was little more than a calling card for future endeavours. Soon, he and Brenda Gordon met as fellow singers in Dr. Music. Brooklyn-born Brenda had moved to Hamilton as a 12-year-old when her family relocated around 1961. Late in the decade, Brenda’s vocal work in the Toronto production of Hair put her on bandleader Doug Riley’s radar for the first and most successful version of Dr. Music.

Brian and Brenda briefly hosted the Music Machine tv series. After Dr. Music, they moved to Los Angeles in 1973 and caught on as backup singers and songwriters. Their 1974 collaboration Please Pardon Me (You Remind Me Of A Friend) was a minor hit for Rufus with Chaka Khan. By 1975, they were vocally supporting Elton John including a pivotal concert he gave at Wembley Stadium.The by-now married couple were signed to Elton’s boutique Rocket Records label. (The only other Canadian on the Rocket roster was former Skylark vocalist Donny Gerrard.)

Two albums ensued: Word Called Love (1976) and Supersonic Lover (1977). Neither produced a hit, although the Russells did gain appreciable airplay back in Canada, especially for That’s All Right Too. The couple also welcomed a daughter, Lindsay. But the marriage ended in 1979. Before long Brian married Cheryl Ladd who had replaced Farrah Fawcett in Charlie’s Angels.

Press reports then and now mention they met in 1978 when Brian produced her eponymous debut album on Capitol Records. In fact, he never produced any of her three albums, but did participate in two of them.

There were two Brian and Brenda songs on the Cheryl Ladd debut including Think It Over, the actress’s only charting single (#34 on Billboard). The couple also sang backup for Ladd with another Rocket alum, Kiki Dee. Brian had no involvement in Ladd’s followup album. The third record, titled Take A Chance, featured six songs: two solely written by Brian, two Cheryl collaborations and two other co-writes. Unfortunately, Ladd’s fame had dimmed and Take A Chance only came out in Japan. The couple are still together and recently relocated to Boerne, Texas.

From the end of her marriage, Brenda—who retained the Russell surname—had a much higher music profile. So Good So Right peaked at #30 in 1979. Nine years later, her Piano In The Dark duet with Joe Esposito (of Brooklyn Dreams) got to #8 and received two Grammy nominations. She’s also had songs covered by artists such as Barbra Streisand, Luther Vandross, Kenny Loggins and Donna Summer.
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