Bob Rock gets the Payola$ back together for a Mick Ronson-inspired raveup in Vancouver

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED IN THE GEORGIA STRAIGHT, OCT. 20, 1994

By Steve Newton

Ya gotta like that Bob Rock guy. When he gets tired of producing platinum-plus CDs for bands like Metallica and Mötley Crüe, he forms his own group, Rockhead, and gets back to his ’70s-rock roots with melodic, radio-friendly sing-along tunes such as “Bed of Roses” and “Chelsea Road”.

Then when he figures it’s time to resurrect one of Vancouver’s most influential punk-era acts—possibly to capitalize on the recent resurgence of punkish bands like Green Day and Offspring, but more likely just to have a rockin’ good time—he brings old buddy Paul Hyde out of retirement. Next thing you know, the Payola$ are tearing things up down at the Town Pump. Rock gets things done, and rock fans benefit. It’s a good thing.

Before the reunited Payola$ took the stage last Thursday (October 13), several tunes from the final Mick Ronson album, Heaven and Hull, were cranked out over the PA system, and no doubt Rock had something to do with the choice of pre-set music. Ronson, who succumbed to cancer last year, produced some of the Payola$ best work, and his music—especially the material he recorded with Ian Hunter in the ’70s—had a huge influence on both Rock and Hyde. Maybe hearing their idol’s last recordings helped inspire the two to put on the killer show that followed.

The band kicked off with “In a Place Like This”, the title track of its 1981 debut, and it was clear from the start that this year’s Payola$ mean business. Crucial to that effect was the passionate drumwork of Matt Frenette, who never fails to impress, whether he’s slamming the skins for Kim Mitchell, Tom Cochrane, or local bands at a Sunday jam. He’s an ideal replacement for original Payola$ drummer Chris Taylor, who has left music to work as a cameraman with Shane Lunny Productions. Also on board and adding his own brand of sleek rhythm was longtime bassist Alex “A-Train” Boynton. The band was rounded out by competent keyboardist Richard Sera, an alumnus of the post-Payola$ Rock & Hyde days.

The Pump wasn’t sold-out for this first evening of a two-night stand, but there were about 300 paying customers in attendance, and many of those showed dance-floor support for old Payola$ stompers like “China Boys” and “Soldier”, as well as for more pop-oriented Rock & Hyde selections like “I Will” and “Dirty Water”. I never did like “Never Said I Love You”, but the majority of Pump patrons took it upon themselves to bounce happily to that ditty’s calypso beat.

Although Rock’s vocal duties are usually confined to backup mode, he took over original co-singer Carole Pope’s lead part on that number and proved himself quite a capable…backup vocalist. Rock’s status as superman on guitar and in the studio does not extend to singing.

“Finally, finally!” spouted one beer-guzzling Pumper as the familiar strains of the Payola$ 1983 Juno Award–winning single, “Eyes of a Stranger”, rolled off the stage at 1:30 a.m. With such great tunes as that, you wonder why the Payola$ never made it big internationally, although soft-rock producer David Foster’s attempt to turn the band into a sucky Adult Contemporary act on its final LP, Here’s the World For Ya, had plenty to do with its demise. Still, if Rock and Hyde can harness the sharp songwriting skills of their early days, the Payola$ could always give worldwide fame another shot.

You never know what might happen in the world of Rock.

 

To hear the audio of my 1992 interview with Bob Rock subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 200 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
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Albert Lee, 1986
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Robert Cray, 1996
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Ian Hunter, 1988
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David Gilmour from Pink Floyd, 1984
Jeff Healey, 1988
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Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Edgar Winter, 2005
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Randy Hansen, 2001
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joey Belladonna of Anthrax, 1991
Joe Satriani, 1990
Vernon Reid of Living Colour, 1988
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
Zakk Wylde of Pride & Glory, 1994
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
John Doe, 1990
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Doyle Bramhall II, 2001
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Randy Bachman, 2001
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
Tommy Emmanuel, 1994
Rob Baker of the Tragically Hip, 1997
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Steve Vai, 1990
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
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Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Rob Hirst of Midnight Oil, 2001
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1989
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
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Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
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Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
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Greg Allman, 1998
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….with hundreds more to come

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