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October 19, 2007

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Listener Kliph

ARC Records was Canada's most notorious low-budget label, in the same league as labels like CROWN or ALSHIRE in the states. They were famous for taking famous pop songs by one artist and getting some shmoe to cover them and giving him a phoney name similar to that of the original artist. So you'd find records on ARC like I Walk the Line performed by Jonny Cass. Other comedy records on ARC included the huge selling satircal folk LPs of The Brothers-In Law. They were named for their actual careers as Ontario police officers. They put out four records on ARC, and then Alec Sommerville, the group's leader, left to go solo on ARC. Two other comedy records on the ARC label were Deegan's Diary - a comedy LP by a Hamilton radio personality and Al Boliska's World's Worst Jokes - by a Toronto radio personality. ARC is mostly forgotten today, although their output floods the thrift stores of Canada, and if they're remembered at all, it's for being the first label to record and release Anne Murray.

evil pain clown

i love collecting arc records, i have the al boliska's worst jokes, and brothers in law, plus countless country records,one that really stands out for me{country record} is lee more, "coffe drinki'n nighthawk" the cat came back album, heck i should up load it

Listener Kliph

Yeah, and the really odd thing about that album, Lee Moore - The Coffee-Drinking Nighthawk is that he was an American radio personality in the south, yet had his album pressed on this budget Canadian label. Actually the album's official title is "WWVA's COFFEE DRINKIN' NIGHT HAWK.' Strange, since the call letters for that West Virginia radio station would have meant absolutely nothing to Canadians. I think we can conclude now, based on Lee Moore, Al Boliska, and Bill Deegan that ARC had some strange obsession with pressing LPs starring whosit radio personalities. Ah, if I had only been around in the sixties.

evil pain clown

i have another record, from arc, with an american band, also from wheeling west virginia, the name escapes me, it's somewhere among my records, but i do remember a great version of "in the mood" from this lp...i wonder if arc records had some sort of deal in wheeling, west va. ?

snarfdude

I can't tell you how many copies of Anne Murray's first album from 1968 float around here in Thrift Stores in Nova Scotia, just before she signed to Capitol Canada. I suppose it's Anne Murray Country, my wife is from the same town and apparently Anne sang at my in laws wedding. go figure.

ARC is also notoriously well known as being a label for releasing Newfoundland Music in the 60 and 70s, because few other labels were. These also also found in thrift stores. newfoundland music has to be heard to be believed, though I think there's some cajun in the mix. The artists escape me off the top of my head, but ARC was there. Bill Gilliland was the owner, and had a few canadian hits with Terry Black, and JB and the Playboys in the mid 60's, and a international hit with Ocean's "Put Your Hand In The Hand" on Yorkville, a ARC subsidiary or relative.

As mentioned, ARC turned out a lot of "clone" artists, to cash in on the american hits with canadians singing the covers, and it must've worked, ARC records turn up fairly regularly at thrift stores, but it likely was the first national label promoting canadian music. I even have some of the compilation albums from some of the national TV shows that were copies of american bandstand like Frank's Bandstand-which was produced here in Halifax in the 60's...local artists covering the hits...still promoting canadian music. there was still little of that being done by the major labels in that time.

Listener Kliph

Well, interstingly enough, under CRTC Canadian Content rules, a song only needs to be performed by a Canadian artist to be considered CanCon. So even though all the people on Frank's Bandstand are just covering "Splish Splash" and so-on, it would still have come in handy when CanCon was implemented in the early seventies.

I would agree that it was the first national label. The only big thing that would even have been comparable from the era would probably be Quebecois only or Aragon, a huge label, but in Western Canada only.

"ARC is also notoriously well known as being a label for releasing Newfoundland Music in the 60 and 70s"

I was just going to say, my all time favorite ARC artist, and as far as i'm concerned, the most talented, is Newfoundland's Dick Nolan. Unfortunately, Dick passed away recently, in December of 2005. ARC Records used to bill him as "The Cornerbrook Kid," and for some ridiculous reason he often posed on his covers wearing an eye patch (he had normal eyesight). He was initially contracted by ARC with the intention of being used as a Johnny Cash soundalike, as they both have a similar quality in their voice. However, whenever Nolan did a departure from Johnny Cash covers, he was sensational. His album Movin' Out (ARC 740) is fucking awesome. Mental Revenge, Johnny Walker, and Drift on You Bum are big highlights. I Want to Live is also good with its nice 'Break My Mind.'

His later Newfie hits like Aunt Martha's Sheep were big sellers for RCA Canada. Not sure why he changed labels - I think ARC maybe sold Nolan off when they fell into financial trouble (I think they went into distribution, for the Audet label and others, maybe). They also started re-issuing all their old catalogue in the late 70s - and I imagine they may have even been sold in new record stores as late as the early eighties.

One of the last official ARC releases *I think* is a cool record that bears no resembelance to anything else they put out. It has a sturdy gatefold and a different label/logo. The LP is The Two Sides of Bobby Orr.

Methinks we should pool our ARC resources, friends, for an upcoming Beware the Blog posting.

Beau

I've got a ton of Arc releases, too (many of which I've posted on my own site), and lots of them (especially the country stuff) are good! Arc had some talented session musicians, like Artie McLaren and Mickey McGivern, recording for them. And I've got a great country-soul LP by Sharon Strong...all in all, I'd love to put out an Arc compilation some day.

VinylLover

Does anyone here know who currently owns the masters to the ARC records catalog? According to the canadian encyclopedia, "Arc Sound and its subsidiaries came under the control of a Canadian-owned holding company, the Ahed Music Corp Ltd, Toronto, in 1969 and ceased operations in 1986" [http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/index.cfm?PgNm=TCE&Params=U1ARTU0000104]. If operations ceased in 1986, then who is in control of these sound recordings? It would be nice to know who to contact for re-issue inquiries. Any info at all would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks!

Fred the Collector (DJ)

I have ARC LPs - 1 by Hal "Lone Pine" Breau, 1 by Jeanne Ward, 2 by Yodelin' SLim Clark. Would like to hear if they have any value. [email protected]

Lonesome Lefty

Of Lee Moore's Coffee Drinkin' Nighthawk album, Listener Kliph said:

"Strange, since the call letters for that West Virginia radio station would have meant absolutely nothing to Canadians."

Actually, WWVA's broadcasting coverage blanketed eastern Canada, picked up in the maritimes, Quebec and Ontario. The Wheeling Jamboree was hugely popular and a huge influence there, and Wheeling based artists like Doc Williams, Lee Moore, Blig Slim, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Mac Wiseman etc. performed in eastern Canada extensively and attracted loyal followings there. Several Wheeling artists had records made by Canadian labels like Arc or Quality. Arc in Toronto (Scarborough, actually) was for many Wheeling artists what Starday was in Nashville - a minor label that would produce their music when the big guys wouldn't. If you check out many early Arc covers you will see they mirrored Starday in some other ways as well......

Lonesome Lefty

Of Lee Moore's Coffee Drinkin' Nighthawk album, Listener Kliph said:

"Strange, since the call letters for that West Virginia radio station would have meant absolutely nothing to Canadians."

Actually, WWVA's broadcasting coverage blanketed eastern Canada, picked up in the maritimes, Quebec and Ontario. The Wheeling Jamboree was hugely popular and a huge influence there, and Wheeling based artists like Doc Williams, Lee Moore, Blig Slim, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, Mac Wiseman etc. performed in eastern Canada extensively and attracted loyal followings there. Several Wheeling artists had records made by Canadian labels like Arc or Quality. Arc in Toronto (Scarborough, actually) was for many Wheeling artists what Starday was in Nashville - a minor label that would produce their music when the big guys wouldn't. If you check out many early Arc covers you will see they mirrored Starday in some other ways as well......

Listener Kliph

Great info Lefty, Thanks so much!

I also need to correct myself about my earlier statement about Dick Nolan and his eyepatch. He actually was apparently blind in one eye that appeared off kilter, a severe lazy eye as it were on his right side.

Dick Nolan's entire catalogue is now available on Itunes and well worth it.

cjfish67

I have an Arc recording The Buddy Holly Sound by The Crown Imperials, A557.Does anyone have information on this group.

Ralph Alfonso

Hi folks
The Arc/Yorkville masters are now owned by Unidisc Records, Montreal, and are appearing on iTunes.

Doug Chappell

All the above is very interesting but it seems that all have forgotten the Number 1 hit by Richie Knight and The Mid-Knights, "Charlena". A group from Toronto that had this hit in 1963. I know this as I was the bass player. All group memebers are still on this planet and get together every year for a BBQ.

FRED GALLANT

Can someone tell me how to contact Bill Gilliand founder of ARC Records of Canada. I played drums on Terry Black,s ARC 45rpm recordings "Sinner Man and Dry Bones". The recording took place at a hall in North Vancouver in 1964. I am trying to find the name of that hall. Terry,s former mgr. Buddy Clyde who produced the session says the hall belonged to Terry,s North Vancouver church. If I knew the name of the church that would be a good lead. Or if Terry,s parents are still around they would know. By the way, both those recordings are included on Terry Black,s "THE BLACK PLAGUE" C.D. I am thinking maybe Bill Gilliand would be able to provide me with a lead as to the name of that hall. CIAO FOR NOW. FRED GALLANT.

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