“A stunning collection of new songs for and about the time we live in,” billed the text on the backside of composer Doug Randle’s 1971 released Songs For The New Industrial State. In 2009, the same holds true.
Doug was, and still is, a writer, arranger, musician, and conductor with roots deep in the Canadian jazz scene of the 1950s. After a lengthy spell working in England during the first half of the 1960s, he returned to Toronto and took up an in-house position at the government sanctioned Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), where in 1970 he recorded his very own What’s Going On. Commercially released by the short-lived Kanata Records label, Songs was an introspective look at ever-dominant corporations, the cutthroat advertising world, our consumer society, decaying environment, and his own personal condition.
The results crossed the epic studio creations of David Axelrod’s Capitol output (or Spanish folk-rock fuelled Pride LP) with Free Design vocal harmonies from notable vocalists Tommy Ambrose and Laurie Bower (Billy Van Singers, Mutual Understanding, Laurie Bower Singers). Randle himself describes his long-forgotten efforts as, “my bitter and twisted Simon & Garfunkel songs,” and though the lyrical content is indeed weighty, Songs’ backing tracks successfully merge swinging sunshine pop and atmospheric orchestrations with a groovy backbeat performed by the cream of Toronto’s heralded studio scene (Moe Koffman, Peter Appleyard, Rob McConnell, and Guido Basso to name a few).
It’s an album like you’ve never heard, and one under the radar of even the most dedicated crate diggers.