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Oakley - 1980 Oakley



ARTIST: Oakley
ALBUM: Oakley
LABEL: Nova
SERIAL: N689-006
YEAR: 1980

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

LINEUP: Ritchie Oakley - guitars * Wayne Nicholson - lead vocals, flute * Bruce Dixon - bass, backing vocals * Bill McCauley - keyboards * Doug MacKay - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Rock N Roll Gypsies * 02 Guitar Man * 03 Sticking With You * 04 I Almost Call Your Name * 05 Sidewinder * 06 Don't Kick A Man * 07 Good Rockin' Tonight * 08 Ride 'Em Cowboy * 09 To You * 10 Runnin' Wild


Background
We've featured a few bands from the Canadian hotspot of Nova Scotia. One that has been a mainstay in that part of the world is the band Oakley. Formed in 1976, this lot were the accumulation of membership from other NS bands, and would leave their mark on the landscape between 1986 and 1981. Band leader Ritchie Oakley is the obvious connection here, but it's his combination with singer Wayne Nicholson that saw the band rise like cream to the top within the Nova Scotian music scene. Personnel came from other bands such as Soma, Sandy Road, Redeye and Horse. Oakley fused a combination of southern rock/blues, originals and a spate of cover tracks as well. There was one member change prior to the release of their one-off debut album; keyboardist John Lee departing the band, replaced by Bill McCauley. Signed to the local record label of the region - Nova Records, this label also spawned the band RAM who at the time contained a leading vocalist in Terry Hatty, who would go on to prominence with The Guess Who. Hatty had touched base with nearly all the major bands of the day in Halifax, the Oakley Band being no exception. RAM had released their debut album 'Soundtrack From Pegasus One' during this timeframe. I understand Intercan Records were the principal distributor of Nova's releases throughout Canada at the time.


The Songs
So what of Oakley's songs. Well two of them were issued as singles (plus the associated B-sides), the overall sound a typical Canadian one with searing lead guitar work with a hint of southern rock stylings, plus the overriding organ and piano work supplied by McCauley. There's a dose of Helix, Trooper and Hellfield all rolled into the dough. 'Rock N Roll Gypsies' is a good cranky start, the lead guitar solo from Ritchie is a stand-out. 'Guitar Man' is a mild-gallop in the mould of early Helix, this appeals to me as I am a fan of those pre Capitol albums from Vollmer and co. 'Sticking With You' was the band's first single, from 1979, it has a commercial feel without setting any fires burning. Moving into ballad territory, 'I Almost Call Your Name' is a nice wurlitzer flavoured number with a stirring mid-section complete with orchestration and nifty guitar solos. 'Sidewinder' returns Oakley to a grittier style of rock, with a dab of their bar-room experience no doubt. McCauley's synths swirl around the mix, and for all intents and purposes, there's a bit of Streetheart to complete the picture. 'Don't Kick A Man' is a quirky number, bouncy and pop-laden, it featured as the B-side to 'Sticking With You'. I enjoyed 'Good Rockin' Tonight', a sassy late 70's rocker with attitudes to match.. working Monday to Friday and letting the hair down for the weekend. This one has a lot in common with that excellent Creed album from a few years before. 'Ride 'Em Cowboy' was the second single for the band, released in 1981. It too has its foot heavily in the southern rock/blues with its catchy arrangement and shifting drum patterns. 'To You' features some mild boogie RnR, very melodic and somewhat close to 80's era Nazareth. Finishing up with 'Running Wild', the band's blues influences are laid bare for all to see, continuing on from the previous track, the boogie and blues style accentuated here once more.


In Summary
The band continued on until 1982, releasing a third single that year featuring the tracks 'She's Gone' and 'I Almost Call Your Name' (the latter featured on this album), but the band broke up later in the year. It was interesting to read on Terry Hatty's website about that aforementioned RAM release, and seeing that the label Nova Records was had up for irregularities and shady dealings and had all their albums impounded. I'm not quite sure what the story was there, and whether it impacted on Oakley's pressings around Canada and beyond. Considering Nova released that third single in 1982 suggests they were still around, but under what pretenses is unsure. Oakley have reunited on a couple of occasions over the years, but sadly keyboardist Bill McCauley is no longer around, having passed away a few years ago. There was also talk of a second unreleased album in the can, but according to comments from Ritchie Oakley, that won't see the light of the day anytime soon.


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Comments
#1 | Eric on November 26 2011 13:59:03
Not the best cover photo is it? Eegads. RAM are not to be confused with the New York band who released a 1972 album called 'Where? (In Conclusion)'.
#2 | Nick C on November 27 2011 04:38:51
This (amongst a few other albums) seemed to be all over the press while I was over there (Canada) for a few months in 1980 (ahh a tender 18yo). But it's only over the last few years I actually got to hear it. It's not bad at all.
#3 | super80boy on June 01 2014 17:45:10
This album has this marriage of late 70's and early 80's rock sounds which works alongside the Southern flare ups. The first three songs are very strong with a more 80's sound, where side two delves into their 70's bluesy southern rock sounds, all good stuff though. They did see some good exposure and opening up for The Doobie Brothers and April Wine I'm sure helped.
#4 | Nick C on February 11 2017 09:59:10
I was listening to my CDR of this yesterday and thought I'd check out to see if I could get a decent copy on vinyl on the cheap side. While searching I found out from this website -
http://www.chebuc...graphy.htm
- that it was re-issued by the band on CD and was available at re-union gigs (whether it was a silver pressed CD or CDR remains to be seen) . I also found out the sad news that Ritchie Oakley died April 2013.
 
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