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Steve Peake

This Week's Forgotten Gem of the '80s - Payolas - "In a Place Like This"

By December 6, 2013

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Payolas-InAPlaceLikeThis.jpgAlthough Canadian music producer Bob Rock is best known for the work he's done behind the dials for big-time, arena-ready acts like Aerosmith, '90s-era Metallica and Bon Jovi, he actually spent most of the '80s as a working musician, having co-founded the punchy, punk-influenced Vancouver band the Payolas. Ultimately, the band's primary creative catalyst is frontman Paul Hyde, whose somewhat British-sounding lead vocals set an energetic tone that defines the group's sound. Even so, Rock - who has endured his share of criticism from fans of Metallica and other groups he's produced for having an overly heavy-handed influence - deserves some credit for being a key songwriting and performance component of one of the great lost Canadian rock bands of the '80s. Fans of Tom Robinson, British pub rock, power pop and even modern-era punk troubadours like Frank Turner should really do themselves the considerable favor of checking out the Payolas.

Specifically, "In a Place Like This" - the title track of the band's full-length 1981 debut album - rocks with an earnest fury not often heard in the North American new wave scene so popular at the time. Aside from a thrumming synthesizer opening, the song focuses squarely on Hyde's compelling vocals and Rock's assertive guitar. Even better, the lyrics lay out a compelling narrative of a struggling male protagonist who just wants to escape the drudgery of an ordinary, stifling life. One attempted path for such transcendence traditionally lies in the perceived glitz and glory of rock and roll, but Hyde and Rock already knew and would later learn more than anyone how fleeting and frustrating such a pursuit can be. So I guess it's rather fitting in a morose sort of way that this genuinely exciting rock band never really found a sizable audience outside its native Canada, at least not one commensurate to its leaders' simple, gritty charms. Certainly, no one wants to live or die "in a place like this" when that place has a tendency to feel like a variation on death all along. This is powerful stuff that deserves to be heard and savored.

Album Cover Image Courtesy of A&M


December 28, 2013 at 11:09 pm
(1) Derek says:

Great album. I traded my vinyl copy of “Give Em Enough Rope” with a friend’s vinyl of this album back in the 80′s because I knew it would be the more difficult to find one day.

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